My favorite cat litters

This won’t be the most game exciting post, but as a foster parent for feral kittens and a long-time cat mama, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of development in the cat litter arena.

I thought I’d share the cat litter we stock in this house in case it would help anyone else.

In our main living area boxes we use So Phresh from Petco, on repeat delivery. It’s nothing fancy but the price is very reasonable and it ships to the door. Plus, the plastic buckets are reusable and the kitty on the bucket looks like our Fog. I apologize to the UPS man every time we get a delivery. We fill our four cat boxes downstairs with this litter (one on the sun porch, one in the dining room, two in the bathroom).

Even though the fosters receive donations from the supporters of Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab, because we currently have five cats in teenager #1’s bedroom, we order Arm & Hammer’s Clump N Seal from Chewy.com. This is my favorite clay litter, but it is pricy so I can’t justify buying it for every box. But it really does seal in odor and isn’t dusty. So for the two boxes in the teen’s room, Arm & Hammer it is.

Both of these litters are fairly scent-free because I know cats have sensitive noses and I do, too.

Now there are occasions when we use Yesterday’s News and Feline Pine. Yesterday’s News is a pellet litter made from recycled newspapers. It dissolves when urinated on, but does not clump with poop. Same is true with Feline Pine. With both, you can scoop out the poo and shake the box and the box refreshes in a way. I like that the pellet litters are easy to clean up when they get kicked out of the box. Yesterday’s News is very clean and scentless— so when a cat is recovering from surgery or illness it’s a safe choice. I also use it in the tray of the bird cages.

But I like the pine smell of the Feline Pine when the cat uses the box, so I keep a tiny litter box in my room with that litter. It’s small because with the birds, cats aren’t typically in my room.

Teen #2 has two boxes for her two cats in her room, and I suggested she use one pellet and one clay litter so her cats have a choice.

Our foster cat godmother from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab recently traded in her traditional cat boxes for a horse trough. That is a brilliant idea!

The embers of happy

Today I fought my emotions and fought my pain to find some moments of happiness for myself. And in the end, my heart is warm.

My daughter and I often carpool now that she is a waitress at one of our favorite local businesses— Tic Toc Diner.

Before work I took her to the Starbucks in our local Target (#2536) so I could try the new Pistachio Latte.

Our reaction video: Review of our lattes

Once I arrived at the Bizzy Hizzy, I realized I had forgotten to wear red for “red day,” but they gave us all red masks and iced heart sugar cookies. That brought me some joy. As did my lunch, my attempt at Cajun seared scallops.

I started my night in QC, where my performance slipped because despite taking two naproxen sodium my pain level was going from 5 to 7. By 9 pm, I had only QC’ed about 52. But then at 9:15, I got moved to pick direct! It felt amazing to zoom through the warehouse and even though the naproxen sodium had worn off, my pain had dropped to a two or a three.

Teenager #1 texted that she had her uniform and she was waiting tables by herself and she made $28 in tips. I love seeing her in this new role.

And my friend who adopted Fenrir/Fern of the Norse Pride (now Edie) sent me this picture of her:

She looks so majestic. I am assured that she is still naughty.

By the end of the night, I picked 48 fixes and walked about 12,000 steps.

A friend texted to check in when I really needed to hear a familiar voice (thank you, Bill).

Another friend texted me the word “ramfeezled,” to be exhausted from working too much. (Thank you, Joan.)

And then I got home, and found the best surprise ever. Now, every night teenager #1 comes to hang out with Nala. While she is here, she makes my bed.

Tonight I found this…

She bought me clearance Valentine’s chocolate from the Dollar Tree. That’s my girl— frugal impresses me just as much as the thought.

Ipsy February 2021 Glam Bag Plus

I have to admit I was disappointed when my choices rolled around for this month’s Ipsy glam bag plus. I love the fun of this subscription service and it’s allowed me the opportunity to change up my look.

But the pandemic now limits where I can go and covers a lot of my face so I just don’t wear make-up that often anymore.

I upgraded from the glam bag to the glam bag plus about six months ago and downgraded my plan from every month to every other month. The smaller bag got highly repetitive and didn’t offer enough edgy products. I think the value and versatility of the glam bag plus is much better than the glam bag. The one “bad” thing is that most of the fun of getting a surprise happens when you select your products online versus a surprise when you open the box.

Glam bag plus allows you to select your products from a curated collection. I have to admit— sometimes none of the products appeal to me. But today, even though online I was disappointed, when they arrived in real life I was impressed.

Here is a video of me unboxing this month’s glam bag plus: February 2021 Glam Bag Plus

Foods of a snowy day

We woke up today with the snow falling as anticipated… I came downstairs to discover that Mr. Mistofelees stole the baguette from the top of the pantry amid the pots and pans.

I trimmed around the cat-eaten morsels and prepared a platter of baguette, hummus, olives, dates, cocktail cucumbers, molasses bread, jam and goodness knows what else as a light breakfast.

Why a light breakfast? Because I promised the teenagers I would make poached eggs on crumpets for second breakfast later in the day. I learned two things:

  1. I forgot that I always toast the crumpets before adorning them with ooey gooey imperfect-looking poached eggs. I served untoasted crumpets and that was gross.
  2. Teenager #2 hadn’t ever had poached eggs before— and the egg won approval.

I used the opportunity to taste-test Supercoffee, which I purchased at Wegmans in part because I didn’t feel guilty about the $3 sticker price because I used a gift card my mom gave me for Christmas and this was my one splurge. I’m surprised a didn’t buy a $10 chunk of strong Brie.

Here is my review of Supercoffee… spoiler alert: it didn’t impress me with flavor, but now, an hour after finishing it, my right hand is bright red and really warm.

Click the image above to see the video

Friends, food and fun

The last two days— when not paying bills, shoveling snow, fighting pain and surviving work at the Bizzy Hizzy— has been a blend of chores and silliness.

I took Teenager #1 for a drive yesterday to navigate city streets made narrow by snow and drive in whatever slop we could find so she could experience driving on snow and ice in a controlled manner.

She asked for something from McDonalds so I got her an iced coffee, and I wanted to go to Dunkin across the street for my iced coffee.

I ordered the coffee on the McDonalds app and no lie— it took 45 minutes to make it through the drive through. At Dunkin, I got a cold brew with cream, the coconut flavor shot and one pump of the pink velvet syrup.

Yes, they have the pink velvet syrup in things other than the pricey pink velvet macchiato.

At work in the Stitch Fix warehouse, I tried to get a picture of the inflatable Valentine’s dinosaur…

And I got assigned to QC. I assembled 89 fixes and was very grateful when my Tylenol and ibuprofen managed to numb the pain in my spine. I listed to two IT innovation podcasts featuring data science, algorithms and Stitch Fix.

After taking Minerva of the Roman Pride to FURR’s cat adoption event at Petsmart, teenager #1 and I went to Wegmans across the street. Now, we are expecting snow again tomorrow AND it’s the Super Bowl so of course, it was crazy.

But it sure made this generic bologna sandwich taste amazing.

A social worker friend and I discussed budget tactics, loan amortization and the influence of white privilege in the disability sphere.

Then our neighbor and our favorite little dog stopped by. We finalized dinner plans to go to our favorite local diner— and wow was it lively tonight.

Not only did we have the brand new waiter (whom they hired instead of teenager #1), but there was one guy who looked like his mask came out of a BDSM scene and a sweet little old lady wearing fingerless gloves who sent back her omelette so many times they ran out of egg whites.

The poor new waiter dropped food on the floor and broke at least one plate, didn’t have any grasp of the menu, was slow as molasses, and could not keep track of the condiments. But don’t worry, we were patient.

Apparently my request for a tuna melt on rye confused him, because he had to return to the table to confirm that I didn’t want a tuna melt and an order of rye toast.

And during one of our trips today, we fished the Yuengling out of the yard that teenager #1 tried to throw to the neighbor as he was snow-blowing.

After all that, and much trademark cackling, we finally did the soda taste test video we’ve had planned: Weird Sodas (Ramuné in melon and strawberry, Major Melon Mountain Dew and A-Treat Pumpkin.

That’s some real pandemic excitement.

Taste of 1966: Dark Shadows, the paperback novel

In the midst of this strange blizzard of 2021, I consumed this 1966 then 50 cent paperback Dark Shadows by Marilyn Ross.

Now, the spine has a number 6 on it, but it appears to be the first one as it is Victoria Winter’s arrival at Collinswood. And any fan of the original Dark Shadows television program will attest, there is no Dark Shadows without “My name is Victoria Winters” voiced over the crashing waves.

Despite the claim that the book is a gothic paperback, it’s a stereotypical romance novel. And while good old Barnabas is on the cover, he does not appear in the story.

The actual story features Victoria arriving at Collinsport and finding herself the object of attention for two suitors— the promising young lawyer and the “crazed” concert violinist in the Collins family.

The Gothic part stems from the ghost story within I suppose, layered with a bit of murder mystery, plus a lovely hint of Jane Eyre.

But don’t dismay— Victoria almost gets her happily ever after if the curse of the Collins family doesn’t get in the way.

The novel is extremely predictable and if the cover were red it could pose as a Harlequin. The writing is solid and the wording rich, though now at 50 years later some words have different meanings. For instance, “fantastic” referred more to a macabre surprise than something good. And “make out” kept its definition to “did everything go alright” which confused me for a moment because Victoria was kissing the man in question.

All in all, a quick fun little piece of fluff.

Snowy day all around

The snow started its gentle cascade yesterday and has kept going, blanketing the world in cold and stillness.

Yesterday I cleaned the birdcages— the budgie family is doing well— and spent some time cooking and checking on friends.

Snow days are for chili, and several others on Facebook had the same idea. My chili was a vegetarian version with kidney beans, black beans, black eyed peas, carrots, spinach and corn (and a Yuengling to make it just right).

I did some more concocting today. Made some pineapple-curry quinoa patties I had in the freezer and chicken potstickers with some sautéed pineapple anticipating that the teens wouldn’t be keen on the “burgers.”

I even used the juice from the pineapple to whip up some homemade sweet and sour sauce. Somehow though I grabbed the chocolate vinegar so my sweet and sour sauce turned chocolaty which actually accented the pineapple.

The animals meanwhile are either sleeping or in mischief. Minerva of the Roman Pride played in some red paint and Mistofelees decided he was a bird.

A video of Misty in the bird cage: Silly Misty in Bird Cage

The snow is still coming down and my shift at the Bizzy Hizzy has been canceled. I’m going to take my vitamins and watch another Brockmire.

I’m a Hank Azaria fan, in part because of his diverse and longstanding voice work on the Simpsons but also because he was hysterical in the Birdcage with greats Nathan Lane and Robin Williams.

I gave Brockmire a test run because of an interview on Fresh Air (this should link to the podcast). I’m finding a lot of humor and a lot of societal commentary and perhaps just reality. Some of Brockmire’s comments about larger issues like climate change surprise me. In general, Brockmire as a character experiences a lot of growth.

And he gets a tortoise in season three. As a former tortoise owner, the tortoise humor slays me. Even though he does keep calling it a turtle.

Clip featuring Clemenza: Clemenza, Brockmire’s tortoise

So now that my dishes are going and my coffee is done, let me head back to my Brockmire.

Podcast Reviews: the good, the bad and the boring

I never understood the popularity of podcasts. But now that I work at the Bizzy Hizzy, I have a lot of time to listen to something and they keep my mind busy.

This list got way too long for me to review each podcast, so for now it remains a list, but if anyone needs me to review a particular series… let me know in the comments and I’ll do so. This list is in no particular order.

The Amusing:

  • Netflix is a Joke
  • Call Your Grandmother
  • Meeting Tom Cruise
  • Catfish
  • Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend

The Hybrid, informative and funny:

  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Ears Edition
  • Car Talk

Educational:

  • The Indicator
  • Africa Daily
  • The Daily
  • Business of Fashion
  • The Writers Almanac

Worth a look/listen:

  • Two Guys From Hollywood
  • Wildly Tarot
  • Dressed
  • Lehigh Valley With Love
  • Hippie Witch

Favorites, I get excited when the new episodes come out:

  • American Scandal
  • American Innovations
  • Community Cats
  • Do No Harm
  • Imagined Life
  • The Last Knock
  • Jobsolete
  • The Food Chain

I might not like these:

  • Kesha and the Creepies
  • Tampon Rock
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • You Missed in History Class
  • What’s Your Sign?
  • You Made it Weird
  • Join Us in France
  • Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
  • The Weight Lifting Nutritionist

Hit or Miss:

  • Ted Talks Daily
  • Fresh Air
  • Armchair Expert
  • This American Life
  • Why Won’t You Date Me?
  • Seeking Witchcraft
  • Call Her Daddy
  • Unqualified
  • Story Corps
  • Consider This
  • Cattitude
  • Iron Culture
  • Hidden Brain

Peaceful Saturday

The weekend started on a rowdy note, after a difficult but not insurmountable week of difficulties with my physical body after two weeks of mandatory overtime at the Bizzy Hizzy.

I haven’t written much not because I lacked anything to say, but because my emotional exhaustion matched my physical fatigue.

The teens stayed up last night, and Mama found herself hungry around 11 pm so from my high-jacked-from-inbound-processing work station, I texted them:

You guys want pizza?

I let teen #1 order from Dominos as not much else is open that late at night, and somehow a $43 charge appears on my Amex. They do love their pizza.

I know at work I’m still slow compared to the people that normally work returns, processing and even QC but I felt good last night and my numbers did improve during the week.

I got home at 12:25 am and the pizza arrived at 12:30 am— which tasted amazing and I ate too much. It was perfectly accompanied by a cold Yuengling brought by my separated-from husband.

It was so nice to spend some time laughing and joking with the teens. Even if we were up past 2 am.

We took Minerva of the Roman Pride to the Cat Adoption Day at Petsmart hosted by the organization with whom we foster/volunteer: FURR. Minerva’s profile is here: Adopt Minerva. Her brother Mars and sister Vesta are at Petco.

Mars

On the way back, I stopped at Dunkin and we tried the Valentine’s pink velvet macchiato.

Pink Velvet Macchiato (includes Minerva) video review

I spent some time helping Teenager #1 gather sources for her AP English research paper on Anne Rice’s influence on the vampire legend. I can’t wait to see where she takes it. I know where I would.

I also bought some unusual liquor yesterday— so here are some cocktail ideas I put together.

  • Caramello Russian: 2 parts caramel vodka with 1 part crème de cacao
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Shot: 2 parts peanut butter whiskey, 1 part crème de cacao

The blur

The last few days have been a blur: the last of mandatory overtime and trying to rest, seeing my dad for the first time in a while, teenager #1 following up on the job offer from our local diner. Throw in the mix some foster kitten errands, some wintry weather, and my annual fasting blood work and I scarcely know what end is up.

Perhaps this winter is a time of licking and healing old wounds so the spring can be a time of good growth.

Right now, I’m sitting in our favorite diner, really a favorite of everyone in the neighborhood, drinking a cup of coffee while my daughter takes a tour in anticipation of getting her working papers and accepting a job as a waitress.

The weather outside is sleet and slush, so it’s also her first day driving in wintry mix. We picked up some kibble at our foster godmother’s house— we’re down to three foster kittens. The roads in her area were slick and the back end of the car did slip but she maintained control. She also says she can hear the difference of the tires on the road when there’s precipitation under them. Her father says her ears are a superpower.

We started the day getting my annual fasting blood work— the prescription for which expires tomorrow so the phlebotomist was a tad confused. In my defense, I was scheduled to get my bloodwork the very day they closed my local Quest Lab. I had been fasting as required and they emailed less than 2 hours before that my appointment had been canceled.

To get today off on a good note, I wore my adult days of the week socks— Taco Tuesday— which I ordered off Target.com. And after my bloodwork I took the teenager to Wendy’s so she could finally taste the breakfast potatoes. Of course, I also got a free hot coffee from Dunkin. I tried the midnight dark roast.

Teen tries Wendy’s potatoes

Happy Tuesday!