Diverse DIY

Easy DIY project for cat owners: a simple game and a cartboard scratcher

Since last October, we have two young cats in our house: Aria and Stella. They are sisters and by now 7 months old.

Our cats are staying inside the house and, as normal young cats, they are either sleeping or running around like crazy! With so active cats, I consider it safer to keep them occupied with games, so as to minimise the small damages that cats do in the house. Of course they have a plethora of small games, such as mice, balls and furry animals, and we got them a scratching post, so that they refrain from scratching the furniture.

Besides all the traditional games that cats have, I have gone through the process of checking about making some games for them myself. There are several ideas in the internet and it can serve as insipiration, but in the end it comes down to three things:
1. how simple it is
2. how much time does it take to make it and
3. how expensive it is.

So here, I will show you two projects I did and explain the three aspects I mentioned above.

  • Filled sock

This is a really simple project. You just need a sock, preferrably smaller than bigger, some cotton batting and if you want a bit of catnip. You fill the sock with batting and a bit of a catnip, you tie a secure knot on the top so that the filling doesn’t come out and you give it to the kitten. In the version I saw in the internet, the sock was full of catnip without batting, but I would not want my cats to get so “high”, so I used mostly batting mixed with a little bit of catnip, just for the smell.

The sock as it looks after several hours of playing

It is one of the simplest projects I have ever done and it doesn’t need more than 5 minutes to complete it, once you have all of the ingredients. In addition, its cost is minimum, as socks are usually available around and you can use batting from any old pillow or if you have any for other projects.

Aria playing with her sock
  • Cartboard scratcher

While I was expecting the kittens to be taken away from their mom I was looking for some type of scratcher, so as to avoid them scratching the furniture. I saw the really nice looking CanadianCat Company XXL Orbit 2.0 Lounge and ordered one, but it was never sent and then the order was cancelled and refunded. In the meanwhile, the cats were here and by luck we had available a big cartboard box from some garden furniture we had bought. So I made my own!

The cardboard scratcher as it looks from the top and after four months of use.

The idea is simple: You cut the available cartboard in stripes of the same approximately width and then you start rolling them one after the other one in a spiral. Once one piece finishes, you align the next one and stick them together with a bit of tape. When you reach a satisfactory diameter, you turn it around and glue on the bottom a simple piece of fabric. This helps so that it does not move that much on the floor and to avoid collecting small pieces of cartboard every time they scratch it.

This project needs a bit more time and patience. Of course, it depends on how big you want to make your scratcher. We made one with 40 cm diameter. But it is definitely not expensive. And it does not get easily destroyed!

Create rimples like this, so as to make the folding easier and the result nicer.

From my experience I have a few tips. You can use any kind of cartboard that needs to go to the recycling, but it is better if it is a rather thick cartboard. For this project, the layers in the middle are more important than the flat sides. There is a drawback though: thick cartboard is more difficult to roll and curve as you like. In order to facilitate that, I was creating rimples in every new stripe before adding it to the main spiral. This way it was rolling easier and also nicer, without creating corners in my spiral.

You can add some catnip in this one too, but it is not needed. My cats like it anyway, both as a scratching and as a sleeping point, as you can see in the photos.

Books

Reading challenges I am following in 2019

Oh I have not written anything about books for several months now. But it is the beginning of the year and let’s do a new start! In the first book-related post of 2019, I would like to discuss reading challenges.

Do you set any reading challenge? Well for me, reading is my first and always loved hobby! I read several books each year, although maybe not as many as I would like. The past few years I have started joining reading challenges, so as to make my whole reading experience a bit more fun.

I start the year with a lot of enthousiasm and motivation to complete reading challenges or readathons! By the middle of the year, though, the enthousiasm goes down, I emerge myself in the routine of my life, which includes reading books, and I forget to check the challenges. In addition, in the beginning it is easy to fit books in different given categories that the readathons include. But towards the end of the year, I do not want to leave some books that I find interesting aside, so as to read others that would fit in the remaining categories. That is usually how it ends…

But we are still in the beginning of the year and the enthousiasm is still here! This year I will try to complete four reading challenges or games:

Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge

The most basic of my reading challenges is the one organised in Goodreads every year. I love it because you just have to set a numerical target for the year! I first started in 2014 with this challenge and I have been doing it ever since. It is just an indication of how many books I think and I hope I will read during the year, depending on my plans for that year. It serves as some kind of motivation and I have managed to complete my goals all years! Well, in some cases I was mistaken by underestimating my reading capabilities, as for 2017…

My goodreads reading challenges 2014 – 2018

2019 Book Read Athon Ception

Since 2017, I am also joining the Book Read Athon Ception or B.R.A.CE. It is the reading athon of a Greek community that started as a Facebook group about finding books that were featured in movies or tv series.

The B.R.A.CE is more a kind of bingo game! Each year we have a kind of board we should complete with the books we read. Once we complete it we make a Bingo! What is interesting about this game, is that every year it is different! In 2017 we were given a 11×11 table with different categories and we had to complete a line or a column so as to make a Bingo. I am afraid I did not have the patience to complete the challenge that year…

BRACE 2017: The 11×11 table

In 2018 we were given a 5×5 table and we had to complete the whole table to make a Bingo. For 20 of the cells we were free to choose from 120 different categories. From the remaining cells 4 had some special condition, such as 4 books from the same writer or 4 books from female writers etc., and the central cell had to be a book we saw in a the Bookception facebook page. After a bit of an effort in December, in 2018 I achieved the Bingo!

Brace 2018: The 5×5 table

This year we are given a triangle! We again have to complete all of the cells so as to achieve a Bingo. In most cases we can choose books from the 120 categories that accompany the triangle, but in some cases we have to read 4 books that share a characteristic. The top cell is not covered by one book, but by as many books as we need so as to complete at least 2019 pages! Let’s see how this year goes!

Brace 2019: The triangle for this year’s bingo game

Travel with books – Writers

This is a reading challenge that was organised by a friend of mine. She suggested that we check the origin or the place of birth of the writers we read. The goal is to read 12 male and 12 female writers from different countries. I found it a nice challenge, so as to monitor from where the writers of my books are! I have never checked it. I expect this challenge should produce a nice map in the end of the year!

Travel with books – Countries

This is a kind of game I created myself. As a continuation of the previously mentioned challenge, I am going to note down the countries (or planets/worlds) that the books I read take me and make another kind of map with them in the end. I do not set a goal for it, I just want to see where my books take me!

Do you set goals or participate in reading challenges? Do you stick with them during the year or do you tend to quit them half way? Which is the most interesting reading challenge you have done? I would love to hear about your ideas, thoughts and suggestions!

And by the way, you will notice that I keep track of the progress I do in my reading challenges in my bullet journal 🙂

Crochet

Christmas stockings

Now that the Christmas season is over and everybody has received their presents, I can show you what was my main crochet project of the month of December without spoiling the surprise anymore: I made Christmas stockings!

My three first Christmas stockings. Aren’t they cute?

I should start by mentioning that the Christmas stockings is a tradition I grew up with. When my sister and I were young enough, we believed in Santa Claus – or better Saint Basil that brings the presents in Greece in the night between the 31st December and the 1st January. So on the morning of the 1st January, we used to wake up and then try to feel at the edge of our beds, because if Saint Basil had passed, then we would find a stocking there hanging full of sweets and stuff! It was the very first indication of his passing by and the reason to get up and run to the Christmas tree to find our presents! Well, we found out early enough that Saint Basil is really our parents, but they continued filling up our stockings and hanging them on our beds during that night for quite a few years more.

Now we are lucky to have six children around us: two nieces and a nephew, as well as my godchild and her two siblings. We are giving presents to all six, so this year I decided to make Christmas stocking for them, in an effort to transfer to them a bit of what Christmas meant to me when I was a child.

The bear Christmas stocking

Already in September I saw some really nice patterns in the Swiss facebook group of Knitting and Crocheting that I follow and in the discussion with the owner of the patterns I found out that the original one was not in German (I am not so used to the German terms) but in Dutch. I was so happy, since I learnt crocheting in the Netherlands!

The patterns are for free and they belong to Carine Meessen and her facebook group De Haakkamer. They consist of the basic stocking and several variations of decorations: a reindeer, a snowman, a bear, a Santa, a dog and a cat. I personally liked most the first three, so I decided to make these two times each, as I needed six stockings in total.

The reindeer Christmas stocking

The original pattern suggests to use a yarn appropriate for 2.50 mm hook, but most of my yarns are for 3.00 mm hook, which is my favourite size. I always use my Clover Amour 3.00 mm hook when I crochet and once again I used my favourite acrylic yarns: Stylecraft Special DK.

The snowman Christmas stocking

For the each stocking, two colours are needed: one lighter and one darker shade. Initially, I decided to make some stockings in blue and some in red. For the red ones I used Burgundy (1035) for the dark shade and Lipstick (1246) for the lighter shade, while for the blue ones Turquoise (1068) for the light and Royal (1117) for the dark shade. In the end and for variation, I did one in green shades as well, using Green Grass (1821) for the light and Green (1116) for the dark shade.

The pattern results in a bit of a bulky shaped stocking, so I decided to make the upper part after the heel a bit smaller. According to the pattern, at that point there should be 60 stitches, while I had 50. This way it looked cuter.

For the decorations I used appropriate colours and I tried to consume some of my leftovers. They were perfect for small things, such as the present the snowman is holding and its bow-knot.

In the second batch of christmas stockings I created, I made small variations compared to the first. For example, in the case of the bear, I did not sew the hat, although i made it, as I thought that it looks nicer without.

The three stockings of the second batch.

I hope all six children enjoyed our small presents that were handmade with love! At least they seemed to! And maybe the stockings will be useful for a few years to come!

UPDATE!!! In case you are interested in the pattern, Carine Meessen gave me permission to share it. It is available in dutch, german and english. I will need an email address to send it to you though. So please either leave a comment with it further down, or follow my blog, leave a comment that you want it and I will send it to the email address you have provided me with.

Bullet journal

My 2018 Bullet journal evaluation: Which monthly and weekly log works best under which circumstance

As a continuation to my previous posts about evaluating my 2018 Bullet journal, after Collections, it was time to decide about the monthly and weekly logs.

I have been using a bullet journal for two and a half years now and I have gone through different phases of my life, from being really busy while working full-time and planning my wedding, to being more flexible with my time while taking care of the house. As a result, I have tried  a couple of different monthly logs and several types of weekly logs. Oh and I have never used a daily log by itself. In this post, I will go through the different formats that I have used during the time I am using a bujo, evaluating each one of them.

Monthly logs I have used

  • Two-page monthly log

When I first started with a bullet journal, I was making my own monthly log, spread in two facing pages:

2018-03-12 16.48.39 000-20180312_164839
A two-page format for the monthly log

I had enough space to add a few habits for tracking, as well as some space at the side for notes or anything else I wanted. It was quite simple, but functional. I did like the fact that the working week was in one page and the weekend in another, thus supporting my effort to have more personal time, which was quite precious at that time.

Evaluation
+ Wide view of the monthly log
+ A bit of space for additional notes or things
– Two facing pages needed
– A bit of time needed to set it up
? Is the space used enough for needs or is it too much?

  • Pre-printed monthly pages, for example the ones from Filofax

As I explained in an older post (The utensils I use in my bullet journal), for my bullet journal I use a Filofax Clipbook A5. This came a few default pages from Filofax when I bought it, so for some months I used their pre-printed monthly pages and it looked like this:

Monthly log Filofax.jpg
A pre-printed page of Filofax

They have the same format from both sides, so I used the front side as a monthly log and the back side so as to write a small sentence for each day. They were really useful for me during some months that my husband and me went travelling (we went for a road trip down under!), so as to keep a kind of fast diary. We were keeping an online blog for our travelling, so I just needed small notes that I could use while writing at the blog.

Evaluation:
Saving time in preparing the month
+ Two identical pages, so one can be used for something else, for example for a “One sentence per day” page
– Additional cost
– Not a lot of flexibility

  • One-page monthly log

Once the pre-printed pages finished, I decided not to go back to the two-paged monthly log, but compress it into one:

2018-03-16 11.34.24 000-20180316_113425
A one-page format for the monthly log

Evidently, it looks like the first format I was using, but more compact. I did like this more, especially when I did not have any problem with personal time anymore! I was using the facing page for habit trackers, summary of my month and notes that I should include in the month to come, although towards the end of the year I discontinued the use of such a page, as I was spending less and less time on my journal.

Inked20180328_134625_LI
My additional page to the monthly log

Evaluation
+ More compact look
– Eventually less space

Weekly logs I have used

  • One-page simple weekly log

This is probably the first type of weekly log I used. It was a totally simple separation of the page in seven horizontal spaces, one for each day of the week. It was ok, but there were days that I needed more space than I had.

2018-03-12 16.47.13 000-20180312_164713
The first and simplest weekly log I made
  • Two-paged compact weekly log

For a few really busy weeks I needed more space that what the one-page simple weekly log was offering, so I used the following format:

weekly 2016.jpg
A two-paged weekly log

It did give me enough space for several tasks, as well as a way to track the water I was drinking (the blue squares) and some meal planning. In addition, it looked neat, something that I appreciate in general. On the downside, it required a bit more time to set it up.

  • One-paged format with enough space

Since I started using my Filofax, I decided that I wanted a one-page format but with enough space. As a result, from the beginning of 2017 and until May 2018 I was using something like this:

2018-03-16 15.55.48 835-IMAG3127
A one-paged weekly log with enough space for several tasks

I liked and still like this format a lot! It is also neat and structured and have space for several tasks, although in one page. In addition, it is kind of easy to draw it. A combination between the first two weekly logs I have used!

  • Running task list

In June last year we moved to another home and suddenly my free time became scarce and my life less structured. I had already tried the Running task list and I had noticed the advantages of it! So since June I have only made running task list weekly logs:

My weekly log from last week

I loved this way of keeping track of my week. It allows flexibility both in noting down tasks that occur, as well as to which day they are assigned. Especially the latter was so important for me, since I work without strict deadlines.

As you can see I started my 2019 bullet journal with running task lists. I will see though, how the rest of the weeks are going and modify things accordingly.