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Muddy Feet and More

Muddy Feet and More: June 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009


After spending about three weeks getting fattened up on our strawberry and pepper plants (some puppy food too), the little pup we had first brought home in April (see: New Foster Puppy) was ready to go up for adoption. Her ears had, bit by bit, become upright and she had become a bundle of energy. No longer unsteady on her feet, she had a great time running around with the big dogs. It's really amazing what a huge difference a few weeks can make it the development of a young animal.

When we took her back to the Humane Society, we picked up a litter of 5 week old kittens. These little guys were right on the verge of becoming feral; hissing, growling and fleeing when approached. They had been taken from an agricultural area and smelled of manure. I can only guess the mother was a barn cat.

The kittens had a very severe Upper Respiratory Infection, causing their eyes and noses to be nearly sealed shut with gunk, constant sneezing and fatigue. On top of that, they were skin and bones, as many of the stray animals are. They had to be given oral medicine and eye drops, and that is not an easy thing to do with animals that are not used to people! Several days after the first course of antibiotics was finished, they became sick again and had to undergo another round. This occurred during the high point of the cat and kitten season, and medications were in short supply. It would have been ideal to do a longer course, or use another antibiotic, but we had to make do with the same treatment a second time. Thankfully all the kittens responded and seemed to bounce back.

After about four weeks, the kittens had become social enough and gained enough weight to go up for adoption. They had finished their meds and seemed okay. Several of the once fearful kittens had become very friendly, and all of them liked to pile up at my feet while I was working on the computer. Again, it is amazing how much can be changed in a few weeks!

**Two of the kittens were adopted by someone we know, and unfortunately, one has become sick again and must undergo yet another round of antibiotics. We 're not sure if it is a recurrence of the same illness, or if he picked up something new while at the shelter for his neuter and adoption. We are really hoping that this will clear up for him, and that all of the other kittens are staying healthy in their new homes. One of the hardest things about fostering for me is not knowing the outcome of the animals after they leave, in this case, knowing that the two are in good hands is wonderful!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Best Paper Cutter under $30

One of the forums on Etsy has inspired me to ramble a little about my favorite paper cutter. Years ago, being extremely frustrated with my Friskars paper cutter not cutting straight, I looked and looked for a better option. I decided to take a chance on one that I found in one of the smaller chains, and after some fiddling around with it, came to love it. I have spent the last few years wishing that I had a back-up in case something happened to mine, but hadn't seen one like it since purchasing it. In adding my two cents to the forum on Etsy, I decided to once again do a search for my cutter (Marshall's) and I see that an Amazon seller has them, Yay!

My two cents:
(Okay, that's about what each blade will cost you, way cheaper than the Friskars or other cutters out there)

  • Cheap, durable blades. These are razor blades. Buy them in small packs or by the hundred. They are also double-sided, so flip it over when they get dull.
  • Cuts through mat board or chipboard in one pass. Even with a dull blade. Try that on another cutter. This can handle something like 20 sheets at a time. The sharper the blade, the more it can do. I have also cut through aluminum, fabric, acetate, cardboard... Try anything, the worst you can do is wreck one side of your blade.
  • Hinged at the top. I constantly try to open my Friskars from the wrong side. I don't know why I haven't yet learned. It usually happens when I switch hands. I LOVE that you just lift this like a guillotine cutter.
  • Safe. The blade is recessed in the top. My kids have been cutting stuff with this since they were 5. I change the blades though (once in a blue moon).
  • Long lasting clean cuts. I mean that the blade lasts for a long time, the cuts do too I suppose... I only change my blade when I want extreme precision or have damaged the blade.
  • Best of all, straight cuts. No more wavy lines. It did take some fiddling with (see cons).

  • Took some fiddling with. There were some rough spots where the cutter got hung up a little and resulted in uneven lines. I lightly sanded, tested, lightly sanded, tested... Use the finest sandpaper you can find. I finished with a bit of wax to really smooth out the glide, and it works much better.
  • No ruler along the top or that flips out along the side. There is one along the cutting edge, so you can measure, mark, then line up your cut on your mark.
  • Flimsy plastic. The cutter flexes and gives an uneven or wavy cut if it is not supported 100%. No more cutting in bed.
  • The little feet fall off. I just stuck on some foam squares. Not quite as pretty, but it works. Or you could just remove all the feet to even it up.

What I did to modify mine
(Okay, my hubby helped some too):
  • My husband took a scrap of wood and cut it to the size I wanted for a work surface (17 inches x 21 inches or so), and cut a groove in it the size of the cutter, and to a depth that allowed it to sit perfectly flush with the board. This allowed me to drop the cutter in when I wanted, and take it out if I wanted. It also allowed me to use the cutter on softer surfaces like the carpet and bed. My husband vetoed the cutting in bed though... You could also start with a base of a thin plywood and add additional pieces of plywood on either side of the cutter to create a groove by adding rather than subtracting. Use some glue and small screws to hold together.

  • I applied an adhesive measuring tape to the board and cutter, then I cut it along the edges of the cutter to keep the cutter free.
  • I put masking tape along the position of my most frequently used cut. When I switch projects, I can just remove and apply new guidelines!
  • I sanded and waxed the track and guide until I got it gliding well enough that it didn't hang up.
  • I added a marking on the cutter to show where the tip of the blade drops down and begins the cut.

Overall, there have been some drawbacks to this cutter, but I am so happy with it now. I have wished for the chance to buy a back-up, and now, I just may do that.