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General informative posts

We interrupt this sabbatical to bring you something too amazing not to post

Hey Kraftsy Kitties!

We apologize for the recent lack of posts. We’ve had a lot of things to be busy kitties with, and unfortunately they wren’t all kraftsy related. But we’ve all made a triple-pact to come back with cool things, soon!

Also, I wanted to share this awesome cat tree that I would LOVE to make one day for my two cats. Have you ever disassembled a cat tree? In reality, all it is is sisal rope, carpet, and carboard tubes. Well, very, very thick cardboard tubes. Still, no reason for a kraftsy person not to make a custom one!

funny-Star-Trek-cat-tree

Source: TheMetaPicture.com

http://themetapicture.com/star-trek-cat-tree/

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Informational

 

Kitties need fresh water too

Hello Kitty Krafters!

Do you provide your kitty with a fresh supply of water? Then you probably know that sometimes cleaning a kitty’s water bowl can be kind of nasty! Due to my laziness I invested in a “kitty water fountain” for my cats, so that I only had to change and wash their water source once every three weeks. It’s a really great deal! I especially like the Drinkwell series, which is only about $30ish on Amazon.com. You can get the original Drinkwell, or the Drinkwell Platinum if you have multiple cats and have a little extra space.

Unless you are amazingly diligent, any water bowl will gradually get dirty/grimy from dust, bits of cat food, etc. The city I live in has especially hard water, so the calcium in the water gradually combines with the daily grime, resulting in rings of tough, stubborn stains! I used to scrub and scrub the plastic Drinkwell, with only minimal success – and it made me worry that I was damaging the plastic, too.

But then I found a great solution: Vinegar and baking powder! Here’s how I do it:

01-dirty

Here’s how the fountain looked after 3 weeks of neglect. You can see the lines along the filter switch, the waterfall base, and the ring around the water level.

02-ingreds

Here are my magical ingredients – plain old distilled white vinegar and baking powder. The vinegar does the majority of the work. for a bit of extra “scrubbing,” wet the dirty spots with vinegar and sprinkle the baking powder on top.

03-soak

Stubborn stains can be taken off by soaking a paper towel in vinegar, and applying it directly to the stain. Leave it on overnight.

04-powder

Vinegar + baking powder = instant bubbles! Great for an extra “scrubbing.”

05-brush

A soft bristled brush (i.e. a toothbrush) can also be used for those hard-to-reach-crevices.

06-rinse

When you’re done, give everything a nice warm water rinse.

07-happycat

Ta-da!! Clean fountain! Looks like Elton-kitty approves!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in DIY, Informational, Tips & Tricks

 

The key to keeping everything clean = keeping the litterbox clean

Hey Kitty Krafters!

Recently, I was searching around on Amazon for new kitty bathroom accessories. I was very unhappy with our current litterbox and our Fresh Step brand clay-based litter, which gradually had left a fine gray dust over EVERYTHING in our bathroom. The clumping and the odor fighting powers of Fresh Step are phenomenal, but I couldn’t help but feel like we were inhaling the dust each time we scooped, as well.

After some shopping, we ended up changing almost everything about our kitty litter setup, and I love it all!

BoodaDome

First off, I exchanged our old litterbox for the Booda Dome, which helps control some of the litter tracking. One little trick that helps lessen the tracking even more is to turn the entrance of the Booda Dome to the wall! Leave only a little space, about six inches or so. Kitty will have to make a few low-speed turns to get out of the bathroom, giving the tracked litter plenty of time to fall off their paws, either in the Booda Dome’s steps or right outside, where we keep our litter-tracking mat.

showOverlay('21645340168265P')Which brings me to our second change: a new litter mat! We just use a very basic foam mat. It’s soft and comfy on a kitty’s paws, and has little grooves that trap litter when they walk across. There are fancier ones out there that you can try too – I just find that the key to an effective litter mat is simply cleaning/vacuuming it very often. If it gets too full of litter, they will just track it farther and farther out of the bathroom!

pPETS-11566816t300x300

Finally: Are you aware of something amazing called the Litter Genie? I certainly wasn’t until Amazon recommended it to me. It’s basically a diaper genie, but for cats! Before we had one, we had to sacrifice one plastic bag every time we scooped the litter box. Sure, it was usually an old Safeway or Target bag, but we felt really bad just the same!

The Litter Genie has this genius ring containing a plastic lining that is fourteen feet long. When the litter genie fills up, you simply open it, cut off the existing bag of kitty waste, tie it up and throw it away. You then knot the bottom of the plastic and you’re ready to go!

The only problem: refills are expensive. But that’s when AJ sent over a bunch of pictures of her husband demonstrating how they quickly got around the refill problem, using ordinary 13 gallon garbage bags with drawstrings. Genius!

litter01

This is what the Litter Genie (or Litter Locker II – they basically are the same product) refill ring looks like.

litter02

Pull the garbage bag through the center of the refill ring.

litter03

Wrap the outsides of the garbage bag over and around the ring, much like when you line a garbage can with a new bag. Try to tuck it in under the ring so that when you put the ring back in the Litter Locker, the ring is placed on top its own bag refill, keeping it in place.

litter04

If your garbage bag has drawstrings this is very easy, as you can gently tighten the drawstrings and close the top a little bit, so that the bag is securely wrapped around the litter ring.

litter05

This part can be a bit tricky but will come with practice – with one hand, open the litter locker divider (the one that seals away all the litter smells) and let the bag drop through the hole, just like the normal refill would.

litter06

If you did it right, the ring should be snugly tucked back into its position, with a new bag ready to go!

litter07

Recognize AJ’s tupperware litterbox and hand-cut litter mat? 🙂

And the final piece of my kitty bathroom renovation – the litter itself! Unfortunately this is where most people have to go through a bit of trial and error. Everyone has different preferences and are willing to make different kinds of sacrifices. As far as I know, there is no perfect litter. But I particularly like Blue Buffalo (also known as Blue Naturally Fresh). A bit of research online tells me that this brand might’ve gone through some rebranding in the past, but it looks like this in my local pet store:

306107702_lg

I use the multi-cat clumping formula – frankly, I don’t think I could deal with non-clumping litter because I live in a tiny condo and don’t have an outdoor backyard (or hose) where I could clean a litterbox or dispose of broken-down litter! Blue Naturally fresh is walnut based, has a very nice, natural smell, does a impressive job at odor control, a passable job at clumping, and is super easy to cleanup and does not track very much at all! Best of all, it’s almost dust-free!

I hope one (or two, or all) parts of this kitty bathroom renovation helps you generate some ideas on how to make one of the ickier parts of of having a cat a lot more manageable!  (Which really isn’t very bad at all, is it? Scooping litter with a shovel as opposed to picking up dog poop with a plastic bag, which would you choose?)

😀

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Informational

 

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Easy Kitty Ear Hat Tutorial

Easy Kitty Ear Hat Tutorial

Brrrr!  Tis getting to the season of holiday cheer and nippy temperatures.  Perhaps this gift giving season a warm adorable hat would be appreciated by your loved ones (or, if you make one to keep for yourself…we won’t tell 😉 )

Yesterday I attended a hat making party.  The organizer, a lovely young lady named Miriam, holds these parties to sew geeky and cute fleece hats for kids going through chemotherapy – they’re going through a hard enough time without having to deal with ugly hats!  She very kindly showed me how to make a kitty ear hat.  Here’s the instructions for the pattern –  please also check out her super great tutorial for a basic fleece hat.

Picture heavy territory ahead!

Step One.  Pattern Pieces.  Fleece is very forgiving so you can sort of freehand it.  For a size Medium (most adults) you will need:

One triangle 6″ across the bottom, 5.5″ from the tip to the base.  All sides are rounded gently outwards.

One triangle for the ears, about 5.5″ across the bottom and 4.5″ from tip to base.

The hat band is 24″ x 6″.

Step Two: Cut 4 of the large triangles for your crown.  Fleece has a slight one directional stretch.  Be sure that the stretch is running across the bottom of the triangle; I give it a slight tug before I cut or sew to check.  (It’s much more comfortable for your head to have the stretch going the correct direction!)

Step 3: Cut 2 ear pieces out of your main fabric, then 2 pieces out of a contrasting piece of fabric for the inside of the ears.  Here’s the head and the ear pattern pieces on top of each other so you can see their relative sizes.

Step 4: Using one piece of your main color fabric and 1 of your contrast fabric, stack the ear triangle pieces with the right sides facing in.  Remember to leave the stretch along the bottom edge, and stitch the two sides, leaving the bottom open for now.

Repeat for the other ear.

Step 5: Flip those ears so the right sides are on the outside.  Looking good!

Step 6: This part is pretty key on making your ears look right by helping them to stand up.  Make a fold on each layer of your ear, like so.

Step Seven: Stitch the fold along the bottom to hold them in.  Technically you don’t really have to do this if you can just pin them in place for now, but I think it is easier to do this to hold everything together.

Step Eight: With your 4 remaining triangles, sew the two halves of your hat crown.  Remember, the stretch goes along the long side!

Step Nine: Now you’re going to place the ears on one half of your hat.  You can tack them in place or pin them.

Step Ten: Put the other half of your ear sandwich on.  (I just left one corner folded so you can see the ears inside.  Remember, your hat crown pieces will be with the right sides facing in.  Sew that top edge all together, and flip…

Step Eleven: Almost there.  Take a sec to appreciate how cute this will be.

Step Twelve.  Fold your hat band so the short edges match.  Stitch along the short side (right sides facing in).

Step Thirteen: Flip the band right sides out, and fold it once length wise, so you have a short tube.

Step Fourteen: Put the crown of your hat through your little tube, so that all the loose edges meet up.  Everything is right sides out.

Stitch all along your tube, then flip it over!

And you’re done!

I hope this hat will keep you or your loved ones warm this season!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in DIY, Informational, Tutorials

 

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Kraftsy Kitty’s First Raffle!

Hey folks!!

Thanks for reading and as always we hope you’ve found at least one or two tricks to keep both you and your fuzzy monsters sharing your house peacefully while you craft. We were thinking… we’d love to hear from you guys and get to know our readers a little more! So, we briefly interrupt our Kraftsy Kitty routine and bring you…. *drumrolllll* OUR FIRST RAFFLE GIVEAWAY!

You can win one of these adorable Kitty Donuts! They are squishy toys about the size of your palm, filled with liquid and glitter.

Here’s a comparison photo of the kitty donuts when compared to the size of an actual sized kitty. Please note, these are not meant to be cat toys.

Here’s how you can win a kitty donut! You can win multiple entries into the raffle:

  • Follow us on WordPress or via RSS Reader, and let us know about it in a comment on this post! (1 entry)
  • Share Kraftsy Kitties blog on your Facebook or Twitter feed, and let us know about it in a comment on this post! (1 entry)
  • Share a kitty tip with us in your comment! Any tip is welcome, craftsy or not! (1 entry)

We’ll run this promotion until December 1, 2012. Then we’ll pick two winners randomly! Good luck 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Informational

 

Cat Cookies (a.k.a. Kraftsy Kitty Kookies)

Cat Cookies (a.k.a. Kraftsy Kitty Kookies)

Happy Halloween everyone!  Time for another baking edition of Kraftsy Kitties!
I was inspired to try making some kitty cookies based off the “pattern” for panda bread.  This Japanese (of course) pinnacle of delicious cuteness is definitely worth trying, although most of my efforts in the bread arena usually end up looking a little O_o – literally, what with the stretching of shapes in the whole rising thing with baking bread.  I’ve had really good luck with substituting bread dough for sugar cookie dough – it’s much easier to work with.
In this version you’ll need two colors of dough; the larger portion for the cat face, and approximately half that amount for the contrasting eyes and rim.  (About eight hours after I mixed up the dough it hit me that a black cat would be more suitable for Halloween, but then again, all cat things I make end up being orange tabby, naturally.)  This recipe is actually great for when you don’t have a long chunk of time to bake at once, because the dough works best when you can chill it.

I love this cookie recipe for its simplicity.  To color, either add a few drops of food coloring, or a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder.  I often use matcha powder to make green tea cookies.

 

To baking!

For the larger amount, you will need:

2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter
1 egg
1 cup of sugar

Halve the amounts for the contrasting dough.  I just use a whole egg, but sprinkle in a bit more flour if the dough seems too quickly.

Beat all ingredients in a stand mixer.  Chill the dough in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight in a covered container.

1. Roll about half of your main dough into a fat log shape on a lightly floured board. Press with your fingers into an oval shape.  This will be the base of the cat face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Next, the eyes.  Roll two small ropes with your contrast dough.  Keep the ropes round.  Add in a rope of your main dough to form the space between the eyes.  Work quickly as your hands will warm up the dough, and the softer it gets the harder it is to handle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Next, take about 2/3 of your remaining main dough and rolling it out to a flat piece.  Mine started getting a bit warm and too soft, so this is what happens when it starts getting all sticky.  Still, this whole thing is pretty forgiving, so don’t stress too much if this happens you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Put your eye roll (Step Two) onto your face oval (Step One.)  Slap that flat piece (Step 3) onto the top and gently press it into place.  I found that it helps to have that flat piece ready…or else the eye parts have a tendency to roll of the head.  Moistening the dough with a pastry brush dipped in water as you put them together will also help them stick, but I like having that top-of-the-head piece on there to help keep it all together.

It doesn’t need to wrap all the way around the face – just around the eyes is fine.

 

 

 

5. Next, the ears! This is basically a repeat of Step 2, but reverse the colors.  Also, this time, instead of making the ropes round, flatten each rope into a triangular shape, including the middle pieces.  The middle channel will be slightly larger than your ear pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Holy out of focus camera!  Sorry about that, but you can see the ear segment plopped on top of the head now.  This is probably a good point to mention that you should start with a modest cat-face piece in Step One because this cookie log is just going to get bigger and BIGGER.  Looking a bit more recognizable as a kitty face now?

 

 

 

 

 

7. Roll out your remaining contrast dough into a rough rectangle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. And slap that sucker around your log.  Almost there!  And the end bits always look kind of wonky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. At this point, your log might feel a bit precarious, because the dough might not be sticking that well together.  If you try to bake your cookies like this, all your segments are going to fall apart, trust me.  So, wrap the WHOLE LOG in plastic wrap, like a sushi roll.  Then you can slide your hands down the length while applying pressure to compress the dough together and get the air out.

It’s best to chill the dough again at this point.  You can also freeze your cookie dough for later use.

 

 

 

10. When your dough is nice and chilled again (2 hours to overnight) , use a sharp knife to cut off slices about 3/8″ in thick.  Here you’ll be able to get a preview of your rolling abilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Turn out onto a rack to cool and admire (or judge) your handiwork.  I think this is probably just a B.  But then again, all my rolled cookie animals always turn out O_o.  Still tasty though! And if they look a little scary…it IS Halloween after all! 🙂

Enjoy! ❤

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Informational

 

Keeping your books and workstation hair free

Hey folks, Happy Kraftsy Kitty Monday!

How can you say no to that face?

I’m really excited about today’s post, which is two related tips about keeping stuff cat hair free!

Do you have a desk dedicated to your computer workstation? Most people do these days. The fiance and I both have dedicated office space with our computers – a desktop computer, and an LCD monitor. We both spend a large amount of time at our computers, which mean our cats love to spend it with us. As soon as we got the cats, we noticed that our computer desks got increasingly dusty and hairy – and no wonder, considering where our cats like to hang out with us!

We tried to just clean up and wipe down our desks more often, but with all the peripherals and the LCD monitors sitting on our desks, this was tedious and annoying. Additionally, my primary monitor is a Wacom Cintiq tablet (an artist tool) – which is extremely heavy and has a ton of large wires coming out from the back of it. Moving it is no trivial task, so cleaning around it is very annoying!

I figured if I could at least keep all the LCD monitors off the desk, it would be a lot easier to wipe down the desk in one go, since we wouldn’t have to maneuver between all the monitors. At first I thought about mounting the LCD monitors to the wall, but that wouldn’t work for my Wacom Cintiq, since I have to maneuver it around and work on it with a stylus.

Enter the Ergotron – an LCD stand that has a flexible arm. I bought three of them and mounted all three of our LCD monitors to our desk. The absolute best thing about this is the flexibility – we can change the height, pitch, and direction its facing at any time! That means easier dualscreening as well: I mounted an LCD in the middle of the table, and I move the Wacom Cintiq to the side when I want to just play some computer games.

So, not only can we configure the three monitors between us however we please – we can wipe the table in only a few seconds, keeping it cat hair and dust free easily!

Three LCD’s mounted with Ergotron arms. The center LCD is hooked up to my computer (on the right).

Another view of the normal rig.

Gaming mode: I move the Wacom Cintiq to the side and use the LCD as my primary monitor.

We applied a similar concept downstairs: We used to have an open IKEA shelf that was very sturdy, but unfortunately it was placed against the wall just against the stairs. Our kitties LOVE racing up and down the stairs, and as time went on a layer of kitty dust and hair would accumulate on the shelves (and everything on the shelves!)

Open shelf: 100% messy looking, 100% kitty-hair coated.

Solution? Well, you can’t prevent the hair – but again, you can make it easier to clean! We went to IKEA and bought various types of their BILLY line bookshelves. This modular shelving line is so easy to assemble and so simply stylish!

The key is to get the accompanying doors – we decided to go with the doors that were half opaque, half glass. That way, we can show off some shelf items on the top, but hide messier things behind solid doors on the bottom.

So much neater, and much more space available as well! As our collection of books/movies/board games grow, we can also add to our BILLY shelves with their modular additions!

Moral of this post: You can’t avoid cat hair. We shave one of our cats yearly, and he still can’t help but shed all over the house. What you CAN do, however, is make the cleanup a lot easier on yourself – and I hope you’ll find the tips today helpful for doing so!

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Informational