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Dumpling Cats – A Crochet Book for Cat Lovers {review & giveaway}

Do you remember how I taught myself to crochet last year? With a little (lot of) help from YouTube, of course. Well, I’m still at it, still learning, and enjoying it as much as ever. I’m drawn to it for the creativity as well as just having something to do with my hands while I’m sitting watching a movie or chatting with a friend. It is truly fulfilling to see a creation come to life!

My most recent challenge – crocheting these little cuties. Dumpling Cats is a collection of crochet patterns you can use to create your own little menagerie of furry friends. There are 25 cats in all, and each comes with a little write-up on their name and personality. I found it fun to read through and decide which dumpling cat to hook first. The collection is inspired by the game Neko Atsume: Cat Collector, which immediately appealed to me, as I’ve been playing that on my phone for about a year now. (The game is simply about placing food and toys to entice adorable cats, each with a different personality and preferences, to come visit. You can take pictures of the cats for an album, or watch them play. It’s purely about the cuteness.)

The cats in Dumpling Cats are adorable. I brought the book with me on a recent cottage trip, so I could work on the Finneus pattern. According to his bio, Finneus really likes to eat, and his favourite spot to hang out is the cardboard box near the kitchen – so he can always be first in line for lunch. My fellow crafters, and the teen and tween girls who were there were all excited for the book. I now have my work cut out for me as each of the girls pointed out cats they need me to make for them.

So, first thumbs-up for this volume – the creations are really cute, interesting, and something any cat lover would be happy to make. The next question of course is how accurate and easy to follow are the patterns. So far I’ve only done one cat, but can confirm that even this newbie was able to follow the pattern and create something pretty close to looking like it was supposed to. I had some difficulty with the legs and ears, and I put that down to my newness with crochet terms. Looking at the legs I first made, I knew they had to be wrong, so I went back and re-read the instructions. I quickly picked out where I had misinterpreted, and fixed the problem on my second try.

Important to note – the excellent illustrations accompanying the different steps of each pattern were the clue to tell me I’d made a mistake. They are a great help, especially to a more novice crochet fan. At the same time, the patterns are varied enough to keep a more advanced crafter interested. The directions explain every stage, from ears to tail, and some of the patterns include accessories and costume items. Plus, there are bonus patterns for a cat bed, food bowls, and more!

Here is my little guy. I used a larger crochet hook than indicated in the pattern, so he’s a bit out of scale, but still adorable, IMO.

For More Information

Dumpling Cats is written by Sarah Sloyer, and published by Dover Publications. You can connect with Dover on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Buy It

You can purchase this volume from Amazon.ca. This is my affiliate link, and if you make a purchase after clicking here, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

Win It

Dover Publications has generously offered a copy of Dumpling Cats as a giveaway to a lucky RMB reader. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm EDT, September 10. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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Death to the Fruit Flies

This time of year is brutal for all kinds of bugs. Mosquitoes are my main enemy outdoors, but indoors I war against the fruit flies. I face an invasion each July and August, and they drive me batty. I empty my compost bin constantly, and try to keep things covered, but the little pests are everywhere. The best weapon I have found is a simple glass of vinegar and dish soap.

I keep a couple of these on my counter at all times, and change every couple of days. Just pour in about an inch of apple cider vinegar, and then a small squirt of dish soap. The vinegar attracts the flies, and the dish soap traps them. Some folks will cover the glass with plastic wrap and poke some holes, but I find that’s not necessary if you add the detergent.
I get a sick sense of glee when I see all those dead flies at the bottom of the glass. This was after one night. Every other day I dump the solution and the flies down the drain, rinse the glass and set up again. Easy and effective pest control!
Do you have any tips for getting rid of fruit flies? What’s your favourite method?

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The Single Girl and the Lawn Mower

I did something really amazing last week. Amazing for me at least. It was something I’ve never done before, but now will have to do regularly. So I conquered it.

I mowed the lawn.

Woot! Woot! Wait. You’re not impressed? Let me explain.

Growing up I never had to mow the lawn, because I had a brother. If Dad wasn’t mowing the lawn, my brother was. I did the laundry. Simple division of labour. Sexist, perhaps, but it was the 1970s and made perfect sense to us.

When I bought my first house in downtown St. John’s, my front door opened basically right on to the sidewalk, and I had a heavily shaded postage stamp backyard. Most of that yard was taken up with perennial plantings and stone walkways. There was one tiny patch of sad grass, and I cut it with garden shears.

Then I moved to Toronto and moved in with Jim. He considered it his job to mow first our tiny townhouse lawn, and later our big and beautiful suburban spread. Once our big guy was old enough, he took over.

So, it’s not something I ever really had to do. Plus, I could never seem to get the darn mower started. The couple of times I tried, because the boys in my life were taking longer than I would like to get to work, I simply didn’t have the wingspan to pull the cord out far and fast enough to turn over the motor. Last summer when we were shopping for a new mower, I almost purchased one with an electric start, so I could use it. But I quickly came to my senses and realised that would just mean I’d end up cutting the grass every week.

So, cord it was, and cord it is. And I do deeply regret that decision now, given everything that’s happened.

We got back from Disney and found our lawn looking more like a meadow. The rain did wonders for it. As the sun came back and our neighbours trimmed their lawns to perfection, I became more and more embarrassed by the state of mine. I could have called for my big guy to come over and help. I came close to asking the kid across the street. But then I had an “I am WOMAN” moment and decided I needed to give it one more chance.

It wasn’t easy, but I found a way to start to mower. It involves me doing this ballerina-type 180 degree quick turn, and probably looks really funny, but the mower starts. I did both the back and the front, plus the boulevard. Please note our property is 55×120, and the footprint of our house is only 1000 square feet. It’s a lot of grass!

Ok, so not this much grass, but this kinda explains how I felt about how much there was.

I can’t even express how proud and accomplished I felt. The lawn looked pretty good, not perfect, but it was presentable. I have to work on my technique and figure out the best path to take, but I’ll get there.

This widow’s life is bringing a bunch of new experiences, and reminding me that I am actually a pretty capable and competent gal. I think I’ve got this.