Monday, February 18, 2013

No More Store Bought Kitty Litter

I have the world’s best kitty. She is basically a dog that doesn’t have to be let out to go to the bathroom. She greets me when I get home, cuddles at night, and follows me around the house. The only problem has been the litter box that I hate so much. She has been so patient when it comes to me switching out the litter, though. She’s almost 2 now and has been with me long enough to know that I have been searching for a better solution than clay litter.
I’ve been on a hunt for a while now looking for something other than the traditional litters. I used the “Mimi Crystals” litter which is fairly cheap $4.88/ 4 lbs, but it’s full of chemicals and doesn’t help the odor that much. I tried the all natural feline pine stuff, which is fine, except that the pellets get thrown everywhere and again, the smell is not taken care of.
I finally gave up on the smell issue when I moved into my current apartment because the cat has her own “room” which consists of the breaker box, the water heater, and the A.C. unit. I can shut the door if it gets really bad and I just put an air freshener in there.
While searching for other options to save money, though, I ran across “recipes” for using paper as litter. Because I work in a bookstore, and because we throw out a ton of paper (this kills me!), I started a “recyling box” per se that I had managers throw paper in and I took it home when it got full. Some of the recipes called for soaking the paper for an hour with baking soda and meshing it and letting it dry for 2-3 days. I do not have that much time or patience so I found out that you can just use paper! This does not eliminate the smell at all and the paper kind of disintegrates, but really, it’s free so I just said whatever.
I tried this out but the biggest issue I noticed was that Miss Kitty is so staticky that she picks up paper so that it ends up everywhere. I looked at a few more options and finally found one that is perfect. I still use half paper, but I add have cedar chips now too. This takes care of a few issues. 1. No staticky kitty tracking paper. 2. Adds more volume to the litter so that there aren’t issues cleaning it out at the end of the week. 3. Smells fantastic. 4. It’s super cheap. A huge bag was $7 and I only need a small amount. I’m waiting to see just how long this lasts, but it looks like it should be quite a while. So I still get to reuse that paper instead of throwing it all away, and now the other issues are fixed. Win-Win.

And here is a picture of her just because she's adorable :) 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Cookbook Review Just in Time for the Day After Valentine's Day

I hadn't done a review in a while (okay, so I haven't posted much of anything really), but I put this one up on Amazon tonight so I figured, hey why not also put it up for the lovely readers of this blog! So here ya go, just think of it as a belated Valentine's Day present :) (Maybe I could have done something more related to romance... Maybe next year.)


I've been a vegetarian for a few years now so I have a few other books on the subject, but most of the cookbooks I have are healthy cooking books that I just take the meat out of recipes for. I wish this had been out a couple years ago when I made the switch; it could have saved me time, money, and some frustration. In an age when I can look up most recipes that I want on Google, I still feel like this would still be a good investment. For now, I have it checked out from work. Because I can do that.

What I like:
There are pictures for every recipe! This really isn't a huge deal usually, but it is a really nice bonus.
The layout is easy to navigate and recipes are categorized/cross-referenced well. Plus, there's an index with recipes listed by ingredient.
I'm a pretty picky eater, but these recipes are (for the most part) not so adventurous that I won't try them. There are a few that I'm hesitant about, but they still look so good, maybe one day, I'll attempt them. The vegetables aren't limited to just a few selections, they span a wide variety. Some books tend to focus on just a few vegetables and it's nice that this one is so diverse.
There are a lot of "extras," including some basic skills needed (the different ways to cook an egg, how to prepare some of the most essential staples of vegetarian cooking - tofu, nuts, legumes, etc), stock recipes for soups and sauces, and combinations of recipes to make more complex menus. Each recipe also has a few extra tips and suggestions.
Nutrition facts are included! And not just calories and carbs, but also protein and fiber. Protein is something I struggle with at times because I don't have the patience to cook tofu, and it's more difficult for me to track in just raw vegetables, but this lets me know how much is in it right off the bat.

Things that I didn't mind, but may be important for people to know:
**This is not a vegan book.** The recipes include cheese, milk, and eggs. Invariably, there is always someone who will comment at some point that the recipes aren't vegan friendly. Take the cheese out, make it with egg substitute and soy milk. Or skip those recipes.
This isn't a raw diet book and does include tofu. I believe there are only 10-15 of these recipes though, out of 200.
It's paperback. This isn't a huge deal for me, but I know it is for a lot of people. My suggestion though, is to get some clear plastic and put it on the counter anyway. Or, if you're going to be using it for a long time, just be ready for it to get a little messy.
The words are a little small. This is probably so that they could fit the recipes and the pictures into a book this size.

Overall, this is one of the most complete, but still simple enough vegetarian books I've found thus far.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Really Basic Craftiness

Something I've been looking for lately is a good recipe book. Every day at work, I look through a few during my break, and whenever we've gone to sell back books to the used bookstore in Chattanooga, I look through their journals with no luck. 
I finally found one that was the size I want, has conversion charts, splash pages, dividers, and was cheap (plus it was at work so I got that discount as well). The only problem with this one was it was honestly, pretty ugly.

Ok, so I realize it's not that bad, but it just looks like something someone older would have... But because I could get it for $6.50 and it was perfect otherwise, I went ahead and got it, knowing that I could make it pretty later. (The pages are pretty plain so that wasn't an issue, fortunately.)
Today, J and I went looking for a hot knife so he could do his own crafty projects with vinyl. It's Sunday so Hobby Lobby was closed, but we found a Michaels on their website that was a little closer than Chattanooga. We headed up there to find out that this was their grand opening weekend! I can't handle crowds very well, but we navigated effectively, got some great deals and I went home with some scrapbooking paper (for this project and others), ribbon, a HUGE reusable shopping bag, and a few of their $1 little things. (We did not find the hot knife, but later found a soldering tool at Home Depot.)
I found this pattern, which I love, love, love for the recipe book.

I've never been big on butterflies, but they have really been growing on me lately, and I love that they're "made" out of pages of books. So, a short while and some Mod Podge (which I made the other day) later, I have a much prettier recipe book :)

I decided to keep the spine as it was because I already liked it and the red on the cover is still a pretty close match.

Just in case anyone else is planning to use Mod Podge for something like this with paper, I want to share that I did tear the edge in the corner. I fixed it with another piece, but it was frustrating. The glue just made it a little too wet. It's a little wrinkly as well, but I'm okay with it!

I swear I have a few more projects to post pretty soon too! I didn't think this needed directions, but if you really want them, let me know :)