Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cat Snug Box

All You magazine had an article on creating this cat snug box. It's pretty simple: draw a box shape on 4 sides of a cardboard box, 3 inches in from the edge. Cut out all 4 sides. Tape the box closed securely. Pierce a hole in both sides of each "leg", cut fleece 4 inches wider than the box, slit each corner slightly and push the slit ends through the piercings. Tie off, and voila!


I used one of our book moving boxes after it was emptied. Now, while it did work exactly as described, and I carefully measured the 3" outline for the cutout, I didn't actually measure the fleece so carefully, so the 'droop' was a little pronounced. Not wanting to untie each corner and do it again, I merely stuffed one of the cat beds underneath the droop. Instant fix. And instantly approved of, as you can see!


It has resulted in a somewhat unexpected outcome. One snug box. Two cats. For some reason, Trix has decided it is "his" snug box and he gets seriously miffed when he sees Goldilocks in his bed!


The snug box has been moved under the window next to the cat condo, and they absolutely love it and its proximity to the Cat TV (which operates when the blinds are up, especially well in the mornings when the birds are out.) Very happy cats. Except when the usurper has taken occupancy. 


Have you ever seen a cat sulk? 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Master Bathroom Completed.

The master bathroom is pretty much complete. Originally I wanted to do double curtains across the shower, but decided that it's far too much of a hassle/cost for a rented apartment, especially as I will probably do stuff very differently when we finally move into our own place. The colors stay in the blue, white, and yellow scheme of the master bedroom (still to be revealed, as it's not finished yet.)


Himself found the over-the-commode storage unit and I use it to keep my watches, bracelets, and box-stored jewelry. Hanging on the side is a zippered unit in which I have a selection of necklaces, each in its own little plastic pocket. I don't wear necklaces often so I don't need many, but I change my watches and bracelets to match my outfits daily. I have quite a range of colors and styles!


As you can see from the very top photo, there is an odd L-shape counter with the two sinks at each end of the L. I tend to use only one sink, so all my stuff is corralled at that end. Note the impressive earring collection. Yeah, earrings are my Kryptonite. J



I'm especially proud of my corral - a metal tray picked up at the thrift store for a dollar. It fits the blue scheme and holds all my essentials neatly and prettily. 


And lastly, there are two power outlets in this bathroom, one close to each sink. They are cleverly done in mirrored finish, so they are unobtrusive - well, as much as two great power outlets can be. However, they obtrude to me, especially as they look surprised and displeased. I don't need any negative feedback when I'm naked, thank you very much!



One of the outlets is hidden behind the lower, standing earring stand, but the other is way out in the open. So when I found this lovely little item at the Dollar Store, I grabbed it. It's just the right height, as you can see, to cover the outlets. When I want to use a power device, I simply move it to the side. It does not fit the color scheme, but I've not yet worked out if I want to paint it, gilt it, or just move it to another room one day when we have our own home. In the interim, I love the advice. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Smoking Man


I'm not crazy about incense, I generally find the smell overpowering and sometimes think it smells like a public urinal. However, when I found this cutie in an antique store I was motivated to go find some good incense to burn in it. I found pure vanilla and jasmine, and they smell lovely. 


This is a handmade wooden incense burner made in Germany, or so the saleslady informed me. The body is hollow up to the little hole where the pipe is. You lift the torso off the legs, pop an incense cone onto the little base there, light it up, replace the torso, and enjoy the special effects as the man "smokes" through his pipe. 


Such fun!

Monday, February 23, 2015

McFarland USA



When I first heard of McFarland USA I thought of the 1989 movie Lean on Me starring Morgan Freeman, which obviously made quite an impression on me as there have been so many in this based-on-truth inspired school genre. It's a winning formula, because almost all of them are popular, but this movie is gritty in an unusual way. 

While McFarland USA is set in 1987, it has a contemporary feel; as if it was something that happened just last year. Some things are timeless: poverty, hopelessness, racial prejudice, despair. McFarland could have been your hometown fifty years ago, or it is today. I didn't feel like I was watching a piece of history from nearly three decades ago, it was like watching something that could have been in the news only a couple of months back. Perhaps that makes it have a connection that resonates more than others.

Kevin Costner is, of course, the master of the inspirational epic movie and he doesn't disappoint in this one. He is not afraid to demonstrate weakness, frailty, arrogance, and a host of other failings that make his characters human and believable. We feel for Coach White as he gets fired despite trying to do his best, falls foul of the new head coach in his first week on the job, fears for the safety of his wife and daughters in this rough, mostly Hispanic, town. We're rooting for him as he pushes, when he fails, as he stumbles across new truths. Costner leads us into small town living and makes us one of the community. 

He is not the only powerful performer in this drama, though. The kids really shine. The casting seems to have been spot on. I could almost believe the casting agents found old photos and searched for as close a match as they could get. I loved that hint of authenticity. The ability of the human spirit to overcome was apparent in these teens even before the Coach gave them a dream of greatness. They laughed, worked, studied, fought, with the immortality of youth and the hoary knowledge that it would lead nowhere fast. These kids, old before their time, still believed in the possibility of a future. What an inspiration!

It's an inspirational movie, you know that up front, so it's no surprise that the kids end up getting what they hope for eventually. Despite that, I was really surprised at the outcome, but learned afterwards that the process had been fast-tracked for the movie just a little. While the speed-up made it a little less believable, I think the movie would have suffered if they hadn't, so it was a good call, IMHO. 

I especially loved that each one of the kids was displayed at the end as they are today. I know it's common to have the "and this kid went on to become president" finish on these types of movies, but having the adult IN the movie at the end? Yeah, new. Nice!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

One Fast Cat - Part One - Bummed Cat!

With two cats that have enough fizz to power a school science fair, I was delighted to receive my OneFastCat Cat Wheel! It comes with instructions for construction, and they were kind enough to send me a video link to show how it comes together.

Warning: this post is picture-heavy!

Start with a box. 

Get Quality Assurance to approve it

Open the box (fluffy slippers optional)

Unpack all the parts and count/check

Start putting it all together, base circle first

Then clip in the side pieces

Under the watchful eyes of the end users, of course

Clip all the parts together

It's actually hard work, disrobe as you go. (Note tablet playing in foreground so that you can follow along with the video.)

And the last part doesn't fit. Attempt to remove some parts to try again, and...

*(&%$@#)(*&%(*&$@

Fortunately, not only is this company producing a great product, they match it with exemplary customer service. When I emailed them, they replied in very short order, offered to send me free replacement parts, and even sent me a troubleshooting video where the designer himself showed how it's done (including breaking the same part! LOL) 


Can't wait to get this up and running!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mess-terpiece


There is no nice way of putting it: it's a blooming mess!


The class is called "Splatter Painting" and it is modeled on a technique devised by Jackson Pollack. Unfortunately, I've never been able to get the hang of abstract art, it just doesn't make sense to me. Dunno if I'm old-fashioned or just a total pleb, but it looks like my two cats fell in the paint tins and had an all-out squabble!


I've tried putting the picture up every possible way, and it doesn't work for me in any configuration. 



If I can work out how to hang it, I think it shall go in the laundry room. At least I shan't be embarrassed by visitors seeing it there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My first Cardinal!


 Yeah, yeah, I know everybody has seen them, but this is my first "wild" encounter.  J  Isn't he lovely?



I don't know enough about them to tell you whether it's male or female, so... hello Google! This interesting little article on Cardinals advises that the red ones are male, and the brown are female. However, the females have orange beaks too, so this little brown bird that was in the tree at the same time as the big red guy above, was obviously not his mate.


Wiki is kind enough to have a photo of a female on their web page, and this bird has neither the black face nor orange beak. So I have no idea what it is, but it was in the tree at the same time as my Cardinal visitor, giving it an honorary place on this post. Anyone wanna identify him/it/her in the comments?


Monday, February 16, 2015

Kingsman



This trailer seemed to me to be a compilation of the best bits of the movie. I've seen that before: all the best parts are in the trailer and then the actual movie itself is disappointing. Not so, this time. 

The trailer is actually an artfully pieced teaser that does not match the chronological events, so even in the parts that were in the trailer you're surprised by little twists and quirks. It heightened the pleasure of the clip. Odd quirk, that, in itself!

Movie: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Actors: Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine
Director: Matthew Vaughn.
BlurbBased upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class), Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius

In a word: terrific! 

I absolutely loved the clever way they brought out the opening credits, so funny! The action kicks off almost immediately and keeps on building, but with enough lulls that you don't end up hyperventilating. Phew!

Colin Firth would not be my first choice of "action hero" and I have to admit I was somewhat concerned about his role here. Would the movie be a parody? A farce? It is neither. Firth brings a mature confidence to the Bond-esque world of international spy movies and he is excellent. The fight scene in the church was bloody marvelous, and Firth has new respect from me for his ability to hold his own in a much wider repertoire than merely romantic comedies!

Speaking of Bond (as in the James variety) made me compare this film to the Bond genre, and it compares very favorably indeed! It has the serious-spy-movie-ness of Sean Connery or Timothy Dalton combined with the self-denigrating humor of Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan, all rolled up into a contemporary action package to make Daniel Craig jealous and that made me seriously consider consigning Mr Bond to second place in the category. If they come up with a Kingsman 2 option that holds to this caliber, this lifelong Bond fan might switch allegiance!

Samuel L. Jackson's lisp made him seem almost effeminate and his role was the only one that seemed to be miscast, at worst, at best merely an uncomfortable fit. I'm sure he had a marvelous time in the role, his enjoyment is apparent. I'm not sure that he was the actor they'd originally had in mind for it, though. 

The end scene was so obvious, it was almost ludicrous. It was done so marvelously, though, that I enjoyed it immensely!

Overall, two thumbs up on this one. A great movie that I look forward to watching again!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Oh, crap!...


I really don't think I deserved that!

Try it here and let me know who you got in the comments, and if you like your Valentine:

Well, damn... I tried again and got a worse result: Neville Longbottom, because he's a "good guy". How the heck am I ending up with the good guys?

Mutter mumble grumble...

Happy Valentine's Day!


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wet Lament!



I’m tired of all these rainy days,
I wish the sun would shine.
I want to open windows wide
And hang laundry on the line!


I want to change to sandals
And wear flirty, strappy dresses.
I’m tired of heavy boots and socks
And muddy paw-print messes!


My whitish cat is a muddy brown,
My brown cat's kind of mottled.
My mack’s dripped puddles on the floor
My scarves make me feel throttled!


Oh, I want to pack away my boots,
Brollies, hats, and jackets too.
I want to stand in the blazing sun
Beneath a sky that’s blue!

Copyright: Toni Guerrero