Diverse DIY

Easy DIY project for cat owners: two different games

This is the second of a series of posts I am writing about DIY projects that I have made for my two young cats. As I mentioned in the first post, 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 it takes to make it and
3. how expensive it is.

Cats can be a lot of fun, but especially young ones like ours need a lot of games, as they get easily bored. This time I made two different games for them, one from a box and toilet rolls and one from fabric. Below I will show you each of these two games and explain the three aspects I mentioned above.

  • An intelligence game made from a box and toilet rolls

Most of the games for kittens do not stimulate their intelligence and the ones that do are usually a bit expensive. With a box and a few toilet rolls, you can make a game yourself, really easily and with minimum cost!

The number of toilet rolls you will need depends on the size of the box you will use. For my box that was about 15×21 cm, I used 20 toilet rolls. I decided to stick each row of toilet rolls together but not the columns too. Like this the toilet rolls do not come out individually, but since Stella is a bit of a destroyer (we call her Räuber), I can still replace the toilet rolls in sets of four if they are destroyed.

This is how the game looks

The idea of this game is to throw some treats or snacks of the kittens inside the box and let them find a way to get them out. I avoid using the dry food they eat normally, as there is an easier source of that treat: their plates. From our kittens, Stella is really fast in understanding the games and dominates them, while Aria is a bit more timid and slow and in the end lets her dominating sister play with the game…

  • A stuffed game from fabric

This is similar to the sock I explained in my previous post. It is a bit more sophisticated and took a bit more time to make it. It requires simple sewing skills.

I used a random piece of fabric I had (it was a piece of a kitchen towel I had destroyed several years ago). I cut it in a rectangular shape of about 30×8 cm. You can make it at any size you want. I folded this piece in double from the back side, ironed it and sewed it with a simple stitch (well, i think next time I will use a zig-zag stitch) . I started from the bottom side and then continued along the long side almost to the top. Honestly I am an amateur seamstress, so this project was for practising my skills with the sewing machine. The sewing can be done by hand too, but it will take a bit more time if you want it not to open the first time the cats bite it.

Firstly fold it from the wrong side, iron it so as to be easier to sew it, and sew two of the three open sides. My piece was not nicely cut on the top, but I straightened it after turning it around.
Then turn it inside out, so as to have the good side, fill it with cotton batting as much as you like and sew it closed.

Once the stick is closed from the three sides and open only from the top, I started turning it around from the good side. This step might get a bit tricky if your stick is too narrow. Once it was turned around, I used a bit of cotton batting to fill it up. When it was as full as I wanted it, I sewed the top side by hand. I used the invisible or ladder stitch, that connects two pieces of farbic together without traces. And it was ready!

The invisible or ladder stitch.

As a conclusion, this project is slightly more complicated than all the previous mentioned projects, as it requires sewing. But it is equally cheap and it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to make it. Both Aria and Stella liked this game, as they like anything that they can bite and kick and in the end kill.

Stella is hugging her game and Aria smiles (or more or less) to the camera!
Bullet journal

Tracking my gardening activities in my Bullet Journal

I haven’t posted anything about my bullet journal for a while. Although I use it every day and it is essential for my planning, I do not tend to make changes in the format I use, unless it is needed. But now there is a new addition in my bullet journal!

Last July we moved in a new house with a huge roof terrace. By the time we were finished with arranging the house, the summer was over and the season of flowers and gardening was coming to an end. For the new season to come, though, we aspired an ambitious plan: our own small urban garden!

What is needed for an urban garden? Pots, soil, seeds and a good plan accompanied with a lot of patience and interest. The first ingredient was acquired already in January, when there were incredible offers on gardening things: we bought wooden raised beds we are going to have our plants in that fit perfectly to our terrace! We obtained the second and third ingredient last weekend: soil and seeds of what we are interested in growing check! Interest and zeal we had anyway and patience is not our strongest point, but we will have to live with the problem. What is left? A good plan.

The good plan is maybe the most important of the ingredients in order to succeed in our ambitious dream. We bought Spriessbürger: Handbuch für den Anbau von Gemüse und Salat in der Schweiz, a nice book that explains how to cultivate the most common vegetables in the microclimate of Switzerland. Based on the information from this book, we decided what we would like to grow in our garden. It also gave us a lot of information about the time and the way each seed needs to be started. But all this information and in general the plan should be tracked and noted in detail. What better place to do so, than my bullet journal!

Spriessbürger, the handbook we bought

After a lot of thinking of how it is best to track my gardening and many trials, I decided to keep track in my bujo with three ways:

  • A planting log: It is a simple log of when I planted or when I need to plant new seeds. It is a type of daily log or notes about my planting activities.
My planting log
  • A table with the details for each type of seed: In this table I keep all the information that is essential for each seed I have planted, such as when it was planted, how many days it takes for the seeds to grow and the optimal temperature. I will add information about replanting and harvesting once I reach that point.
My seeds table
  • Notes in my monthly log: Gardening is an activity that requires patience. Seeds require at least a week to start growing and the planting log or the table does not offer a visual way of tracking time. I did not want to create a separate page for this, but I integrated my gardening activities in my current log. This way I will be able to note the period each seedling needs to appear, to be replanted and to be moved outdoors.

Seeing my planting plan completed gives me extra motivation! And it proved to be quite some help with the first seeds we planted!

In the process of planting seeds with the handbook and my bullet journal in a safe distance, so that they don’t get dirty!

Carnival in Switzerland: Liestal Chienbäse

This week was the last one of the Carnival in Switzerland. Most of the cantons celebrated the week before, but for general area of Basel the celebrations were the weekend 9/10 March and the big activities in the city of Basel were from Monday to Wednesday this week. The big Basel carnival was included in 2017 in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list!

Carnival is usually about masquerades and parades right? Last Sunday evening a special event took place in Liestal, the capital of Baselland. It is called “Chienbäse” and it involves a procession of burning bundles of pine wood and bonfires on carriages.

The big bonfire at some distance outside the city centre

According to the tradition, burning large piles of wood breaks the power of winter and with carrying the blazing bundles of pine wood, the Chienbäse in the local dialect, the warming power of the sun is transferred from the hill to the dark valley. So on Sunday evening after Ash Wednesday, in the town of Liestal they make really big bonfires on a hill outside the city centre from which they light their bundles and piles of wood and they carry them through the city gate and the centre of the town. The Chienbäse procession started in 1902 and has been taking place every year since 1946.

The first Chienbäse are coming

The procession is spectacular! It starts with torches and laterns followed by the Chienbäse in different sizes, based on the strength and zeal of the carrier. There are children, women and men who wear appropriate cover and carry their burning bundles proudly!

It also includes carriages with piles of wood. In one of them they had sausages around the bottom of the fire, which were getting cooked!

The big fire with the sausages on the bottom
The gate of old town Liestal

Crocheted round carpet

Upcycling is a big movement of the past years. Within this concept, there are some yarns made from recycled t-shirts. Have you seen them? They are really thick yarns and come in huge cakes. Such an example is the Hoooked Zpagetti Yarn or a yarn from the Lidl Crelando line, named Lina:

The big cakes of the recycled t-shirt yarns

Have you used one of these already? I was given one of the latter as a present by my friends two years ago and it was occupying a big space in my yarn shelves for a really long time. It was accompanied by a leaflet with ideas about using it, but nothing looked interesting to me. But the yarn itself looked interesting and I needed the space on my shelves, so I thought about making a rug to put in front of my reading chair!

Well this type of yarn is quite thick, as I mentioned already. It recommends using either a 10.00 mm or a 12.00 mm hook. I had a long search for a pattern. Most patterns refer to not so thick yarns. I ended in a pattern that looked both interesting and easy to scale up for a thicker yarn: Edith by Drops.

Based on my yarn, I used a 10.00mm hook to create my rug. It is a bulky yarn and in order for the crocheted result to look nice, I had to remind myself to crochet loosely. The stitches should be quite loose, otherwise the work rolls up like a cup… On the other hand, I should mention that it is a really easy yarn to learn to crochet! I remember how difficult it was to me to understand crochet as a child when they were showing me, as at that time they were mostly crocheting lace. If only they had shown me in this thick a yarn!

The first five rounds with done with the Lina yarn

Creating my rug with the Lina red yarn that I had available was a bit of a challenge and had do quite a few trials and corrections. The actual pattern is for 8.00mm hook and equivalent yarn, so I had to adjust the pattern to look nice with the big yarn I was using. But once I ended up in a core correction, things started moving smoothly. The rug grows fast in the beginning with the small rounds and more slowly as the diameter of it increases. The yarn cakes have 120m yarn, which sounds a lot, but my rug looked far too small when I got close to the end of the red coloured cake, so I decided that I wanted to make it bigger. As I couldn’t find the exact yarn again, I bought a cake of the Hoooked Zpagetti yarn in black and I combined the two colours.

I started crocheting with amigurumis, so I had to learn the magic ring quite early. As a result I cannot understand how to make a circle from a chain and have never made one. The Edith pattern starts with a circle from a chain… The first modification of the pattern I did was at the very beginning. I started with a magic ring of 12 double crochet (the base of the magic ring needs 3 loops since it will support double crochet). Don’t forget that the stitches need to be loose! The basic rounds of the pattern that consist of only double crochet all around did not need any serious modification to accommodate my thicker yarn. But the rounds that created the patterns of the rug needed more adjusting. For example in round 5 instead of making 7 chains between the double crochet stitches that the pattern suggests, I made only 5.

What is nice about this pattern is that theoretically it doesn’t finish. The sequence of the pattern can be repeated again and again and again, as long as you have understood how to modify the rounds for bigger diameters. I stopped my rug when my yarns finished, but I can always expand it whenever I feel like.

The carpet I made in front of my reading chair

Doesn’t it look nice in front of my reading chair? Well Aria and Stella enjoy it a lot too, since they joined us. I have seen Aria putting her head through the holes and trying to roll herself around like a sausage. It was so worthy the effort!

Hmm my cats think they own it by now…

Another interesting flight from Athens, Greece to Basel, Switzerland

Well you may have noticed that I was not blogging in February. I was on a long travel back south (something like down under as the Australians say!). By now I am back to my base in Switzerland.

I have flown countless times until now. But I always find seeing the world from above fascinating! In most case I have no idea where exactly we are. I find that when the airlines show where we are is quite interesting. Nevertheless, this is not so common anymore I think. By myself I can assume our relative position only where there are islands around or big mountains.

I flew from the Athens International Airport to the EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg. If the weather is good and my seat nice (which means far enough from the wing) I distinguish quite a few parts of the route from north or central Europe to the south or the other way around as this time:

  • In Greece can see a bit of Athens, although I can’t tell exactly which part of the huge city it is, unless I see the Acropolis or the port of Pireus. Then follows the coastline to the north, with most distinct the interesting peninsulas of Chalkidiki and Mount Athos. Unfortunately this time Greece did not have the best weather. There was light rain in Athens and clouds in most of the country. I was also sitting from the left side of the plane, so probably I would be looking towards the mainland of the country and not the coastline.
From Google maps, how the Chalkidiki peninsulas look like from above.
  • After the general area of Thessaloniki, the plane flies over land, which is far too uniform for me to understand where we are. I can start getting an idea again, once I see a coastline with a lot of small islands scattered around: we are over Croatia! And in the distance over the sea it is the coast of Italy! I think it takes about an hour of flight from Athens to reach this point and by this time the weather had improved a lot.
A small plane rushing next to us and the coast of Italy in the background
  • At a point the sea finishes and we meet again the land. At this point we are flying over Italy! The pilot was kind enough to inform us about our position: from the left side I was sitting we could see Venice.
The end of the Adriatic and flying over Italy, with Venice in the background
  • Shortly after the end of the Adriatic, start the Alps! I love seeing the Alps from above. They are magnificent! Especially now in February they were full of snow.
  • Through the Alps we crossed over to Switzerland. Unfortunately, I have no idea which route we followed. Countries can seem to be so small when you fly over them… It did not take long to see another type of water I recognise: the Rhine. To be honest, I know that it is the Rhine because we were descenting to the Euroairport.
The Rhine from above and next to it probably the Grand Canal d’Alsace.