Things your cat (or you) will enjoy

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Photo by Yerlin Matu via Unsplash

Whether you recently adopted a new cat or are looking to upgrade your cat’s stuff, here is a guide for stuff that simply works. I love things that are durable, rather than disposable, and that’s easy to get with cat gear.

I have had cats for 6 years now and spent roughly 1 million (or so it seemed) hours with them from working from home this past year, so here’s what works for me. (None of these items are sponsored.)

A second litter box

It’s recommended that you have at least one litter box per cat. I have the kind with a hood made by Frisco, and found it easy to wipe clean. (You’d be surprised at how many litter boxes have grooves in the bottom that trap gunk!) I took off the door because my cats didn’t like it, but a cat used to pet doors might be fine with it. …

And there’s no end in sight

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Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Seven months. That’s how long it has been since the pandemic was declared, and I felt every minute of it.

Seven months of social distancing, mask-wearing, and Google Duo chats instead of visits to family. I was telling someone today, “I just want to eat in a restaurant — indoors — and then go see a new movie in a theater.” It doesn’t sound like a big ask, but I can’t. I’m stuck in my home.

I feel like a kid in the backseat, yelling, “Are we there yet?”

We are not there yet.

In the U.S., we are still in a holding pattern. In March, when I had to pack up to work from home for the first time, I thought that we’d be back in two weeks. Three or four, max. I couldn’t have predicted that I still work some days at home in October. Or that Halloween would be canceled: trick-or-treating is banned in a lot of areas, over concerns about spreading the virus. …

Uncovering the benefits of remote learning

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Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

With Covid-19 a persistent threat in the U.S., online learning is here to stay for the foreseeable future. But what was once envisioned as a last resort — sending kids home with a laptop and hoping for the best—has shown some surprising benefits.

Remote learning offers not only flexibility for kids, but convenience and comfort. I recently saw a Twitter thread about a teacher telling a child he could not eat a snack while distance learning in his own home. His mother insisted that the hungry child be allowed to eat.

In elementary school, I was given 15 minutes to get through a line to pick up my lunch, then sit down and eat. If teachers kept us in the classroom for too long, the time was cut down to ten minutes, and I couldn’t finish eating. We were allowed no other snacks during the day. In school, I was only allowed a drink twice a day: a small carton of milk at lunch, and a few gulps from the water fountain after recess. …

What’s the big deal?

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Photo by Eric Han via Unsplash

There are plenty of traditions when it comes to a wedding. White dress? Check. Cake? Of course. Changing my last name? Not so fast.

When I was a kid, I always assumed I’d change my last name to my husband’s. It was expected, after all. Teachers would marry and go from “Miss Smith” to “Mrs. Jones” over the summer. Every woman in my family changed her last name when she married.

But a few years into my career, I realized I liked my name the way it was. I didn’t see the appeal of erasing my old identity.

A friend listed the problems she had changing her name after marriage. “The bank still doesn’t recognize my new last name,” she said, “so my account is listed under the old one.” …

Acronyms optional

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Photo by Rawpixel

Until now, I have spent my entire adult life trying not to get pregnant, so it is a complete 180 to say I went off birth control.

How did this happen? The stars aligned: Our debt finally went down, not up. And more importantly, I finally felt ready.

Other factors are at play: my ob-gyn pointing out that my age is getting close to 35. My parents and in-laws aren’t getting any younger, either, and I want my kid to know all of his or her grandparents — something I didn’t get to experience.

I also made it no secret that I wanted to have a baby when I was done with school, so as my graduation date got closer, the prodding comments started up. Family members, coworkers, neighbors; it seems like everyone has come out of the woodwork to ask when we’re going to have kids. …

An informal analysis of promises

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Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes

When I was young, I had to rely on recipe books or magazine clippings for my baking. Nowadays, there is an endless assortment of recipes online. You can find a recipe for anything. The question is: can you trust them to be good?

I have learned that there are often tiny clues that an online recipe may turn out delicious, or disgusting. I once tried to bake a cantaloupe pie (learn from my mistake and … don’t) after a writer insisted her boyfriend ate a piece and said it was good. …

Staying on track, no matter what

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Photo by Jonathan Chng on Unsplash

Many writers start projects with a lot of enthusiasm, but quickly become discouraged or disinterested. They may feel like giving up if no one seems to be reading their work, if they can’t get published right away, or they don’t make a lot of money.

Achieving your writing goals takes planning and determination. Here are a few methods you can use to make sure you stay on track.

Write your goals down.

A study found that people are more likely to complete goals if they write them down. Writing down your goals helps you refine them, and makes them more concrete.

Break your goals into steps.

“Write a book” is a worthwhile goal, but to achieve it, you need to create manageable steps. …

A series of unfortunate horticultural events

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Photo by Conner Baker via Unsplash

“Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.” — proverb

Like a lot of people, I decided to start a pandemic garden this year. Since an internship was postponed, I had a lot more free time in the spring. I couldn’t do my usual fun activities, like going to the movies, so I decided: I’ll garden! After all, how hard can it be?

Now, I am not new to gardening. I have been weeding beds and pulling the sucker shoots off tomatoes since I was a kid. But I hadn’t attempted a large garden in years.

First, I started some plants from seed. …

Managing different accounts successfully

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Photo by freestocks via Unsplash

I’ve previously written about using a pen name, and in the last few years, I’ve learned quite a lot more. A question I hear quite often is, “How do you use social media with a pen name?”

I’ll admit, it can seem a little daunting at first. When you start a writing account under your real name, you can invite friends and family to follow you. When you start under a pen name, you’re limited to fans only, or anyone you want to disclose your pen name to.

There are some clear drawbacks to setting up social media accounts under a pen name. Some writers end up juggling two sets of social media accounts, and have to go back and forth. …

Flea medicine edition

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Photo by Yerlin Matu via Unsplash

I’ve written before about my vanilla cupcake and snickerdoodle, AKA my cats. I call them various names of desserts because, well, why not?

My little floofs are an endless source of joy, but when they get sick, they can be an endless source of stress. I know a lot about healthcare for humans, but cats are another matter entirely.

For example, I thought “distemper” was just something my coworkers get. And humans don’t exactly need flea medicine.

But in the spring, I noticed that my cats were scratching, and I realized I needed to get them back on flea drops. They were on fluralaner after their winter checkups, but it only lasts for three months. …


Ellie Daforge

Article writer, aspiring YA novelist & health scientist.

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