Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas, Cleaning, Baking, Building, Etc...

I know...I've been absent again.  I am such a bad blogger!  I've been busy with Christmas projects that I can't post about on here (but am really, really itching to!), cleaning and decorating the house, baking homemade healthy dog and cat treats (I'll give you links to the recipes, don't worry!), building a house for our two outdoor-only cats so they don't have to be shut in the barn every night, and so much more.

First of all...Christmas projects!  I can't go into specifics, but I will say that many of these are prototypes, if you will, for products that may be in my etsy shop in 2012.  I thought, who better to use as Guinea pigs than my family?  I'm just really hoping that I have time to complete all my planned projects before the big day!  One project I can talk about is a camera strap I made for my sister's SLR...yes, that's right, she's one of the rare breed of FILM photographers!  I used this tutorial for a strap cover from The Cottage Home, but modified it to be the strap itself.  I made it long enough to be worn around the neck or cross-body, and added snaps to the ends.  It came out great and Meg loves it; I'm so glad!  I'm thinking of changing it up completely, so that I'm not using The Cottage Home's pattern at all, and selling a few in my shop.  Here's how it looks:

Next up, cleaning and decorating.  Cleaning, no big deal, right?  Wrong.  I am re-organizing our basement because it is just a mish-mosh of all of our stuff from our old house and storage right now.  Well, it was.  It's mostly organized now.  There's an art supply area, a linens area, the exercise equipment is moved, all the holiday decorations are separated and in their own areas.  I still have to re-do the laundry area, but I did do one major thing...I made my own laundry detergent!  I know, this sounds a bit odd and overzealous, but I have very sensitive skin and hate super perfumey detergents (multiple chemical sensitivity - a common symptom of Fibromyalgia), plus I wanted something that was okay environmentally.  So, I looked around the internet and the same basic recipe kept popping up, so I tried it, with my own modifications of course (I can't just do anything like I'm told!), and it works wonders!  It is dirt cheap, smells great, and works better than any store bought detergent I've ever bought before.  The following is my modified recipe (I used lavender scented soap).
Let's see...what else. and cat treats.  I love our pets, and I like to do something special for them at Christmas.  I usually buy them some toys and treats.  This year I decided to make treats because the ones in the store are so expensive and chock full of preservatives and garbage.  Oscar is an itchy dog...majorly he's  on lamb and rice dog food, Alaskan salmon oil and hydrocortizone spray when he's just going nuts.  Lots of dog's can't tolerate wheat gluten, and I'm pretty sure Oscar is one of them, but usually dog biscuits are made with wheat flour or corn meal, which is also hard on a sensitive dog's stomach.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the wheat and corn make dogs ITCH.  Just what Oscar needs, right?  So, I went looking for some recipes with rice flour and I found a great one for pumpkin dog treats on Simmer Till Done.  Pumpkin is great for doggy digestive systems, so these treats are a good thing to have around if your pooch gets into something he shouldn't.  I found another recipe that looked tasty, for peanut butter coconut treats, but they had regular wheat flour, so I just substituted rice flour and tada, Oscar-friendly treats!  The cats deserve something decadent, too, so they got Cheddar-Parmesan Treats and Kitty's Moist Morsels, which are little gourmet meatballs that look and smell delicious!  Cats are fine with wheat flour (though they don't need it, as they're carnivores unlike dogs, who are omnivores) so finding recipes was a bit easier.  I made these after the dog treats and the addition of Brewer's Yeast was a smart one, I wish I'd added it to all the treats.  Here's a peek at some of our tasty snacks!

So, on top of all that, I've been building.  Or, rather, modifying.  Let me start at the beginning.  We have 2 cats, Sylvester and Jerry, that live outdoors.  Their choice.  They're manly men, and they don't want to be inside with the sissies.  I've been locking them in the barn at night and letting them out in the morning, but they weren't too happy with the whole situation, and honestly I wasn't thrilled with having a kitty litter in a barn.  Just a pain in the butt.  Also, they eat outside, so there's a neighborhood opossum who thinks the cat food is for him, too, and I don't want to pay for his dinner.   I mean, I'm an animal lover and an advocate for animal rights, but I have to draw the line somewhere.  So anyway, we had an old rabbit hutch that was falling apart and had no rabbit in it, and my little brain saw potential.  Basically, I ripped it apart and put it back together; new roof with shingles to match our house, new floor with carpet from Wal*Mart, new side door so they can enter from under our back steps to be out of the wind, sawed the legs off because why do they need to be up in the air?, covered the front for the winter (I'll take the cover off in the summer so they can have a nice breezy summer home!), and added some new fleece blankets and new food dishes just to spruce the place up, and poof, you've got yourself a cat house.  So,  I solved the barn problem and the opossum problem at once and the boys love their new house.  It doesn't look half bad either; I still need to paint it, but paint isn't going to dry well in this cold and I don't want painted cats.  My daddy taught me my way around some power tools!  I don't have a picture of it...but it started out looking like a broken down version of this...
Okay, so that was like the longest post....EVER.  Tomorrow is Mom's birthday, and I'm making dinner and a cake, so I'll be posting about my results.  Also, I can finally post about what I made her for her birthday.  See you tomorrow!

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