Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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Puppies!

Happy National Puppy Day!! This week marked 10 years of having my precious pup. He’s obviously not a puppy anymore but every dog still has a little puppy in him. I got Tucker 10 years ago from a coworker who was not able to keep him anymore. He was 3 at the time and had been rescued as a puppy. He was terrified of everything. He warmed up to me and my 3 roommates fairly quickly, but we were recent graduates/in graduate school and liked to have people over to our fabulous rental house in Nashville. He would run upstairs and hide every time someone came to the house.

It wasn’t a completely smooth transition – including one escape to chase after me which resulted in him getting hit by a slow-moving car. He bolted but miraculously reappeared at the front door 6-8 hours later. He had only been with us about a month! We pretty much forced him to be social and he became a completely different dog.

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He’s weathered moving and living in about 6 different apartments and houses. And most recently has adjusted to having a young, very energetic step-brother. They get along pretty well, though old man Tucker has his snippy moments.

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And I can’t let puppy day pass without also doting on Royal who is the sweetest, smartest dog. He may have a little too much energy sometimes but he keeps ya on your toes!

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We love our pups!! ❤

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AR Workshop

I like to be crafty and I like the idea of DIY but I am also a slight perfectionist (though not nearly as bad as I used to be). I also have trouble decorating. I have trouble visualizing decor and making decisions. So all around some issues! Luckily for me there are lovely little shops and activities that can solve many of these problems.

I’ve tried the sip and paint places and painting is definitely not my gift. I’ve done a couple and have never painted anything I would actually hang on the wall. Then last year my friend discovered AR Workshop. There are a number of them around Atlanta (and around the country) and we have now been to two different locations. They have mostly wood projects – signs, frames, display boxes, clocks, trays. You pick your date and project (some can be customized) ahead of time to reserve your spot then just show up! At the locations here you can also bring your own wine.

This is also not the cheapest activity you will do but think about it. You end up with a piece of decor that you made (or at least put together and painted) that you can actually use in your house. I love it!

Last year the shop in Lawrenceville had a Christmas in July sale so we made Christmas decor. I made a plank sign that I did actually hang on the wall, though I wish I had done a couple things differently. This time we hit up the Smyrna location since it was a little closer for two of us. Since we are moving to our new house soon and we got married last year, I wanted to do something cute with our last name.

When you get there, everything is set up for you! Your wood pieces, the stencil of your design, and any materials might need. You’ll have a pro or two (depending on how many people are doing projects) who will walk you through every step. Everyone mostly has the same steps, depending on how fancy you want to get. You’ll pick out whatever stain, method, and/or paint you need, and they have lots of examples to looks at as well expert advice to offer.

The first step is always sanding the wood, getting rid of rough edges. Then you stain any wood that needs staining. Mine was the frame that needed staining. You can also use different methods of staining to give it different looks, but since mine is just the frame I kept it to a simple dark stain.

The next step for mine was painting the main board. You could also stain this if you wanted to. I picked a nice gray since that is a main color in our new house.

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Next, you take your stencil and tape all over the cut-out space with little pieces of tape. Then you peel off the backing from the blue stencil and stick it to your wood. Then you peel off all the little pieces of tape. I’m going to be honest – I have no idea why you do these steps. I didn’t ask, I just did as I was told. I’m sure there’s some science around it and if I sat and thought about it for a minute I could probably figure it out. But I don’t really care how it works, just that it does!

Once your stencil is placed and tape-free, you paint! You dab the paint into the stencil (as opposed to painting strokes). This keeps the paint from getting under the stencil.

Then you peel off the stencil and voila! You have a lovely painted wood project! You may need to do some touch ups, which the expert can you do. And not pictured is the putting it all together. In my case it was using a nail gun to put the frame on. I know, I know – how could I not get photographic evidence of the nail gun. It’s obviously the coolest part. Next time.

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I loved my project and will definitely go back, even it’s once a year when there is a specific project I have in mind or holiday I want something for. I highly recommend getting a group together and checking it out. Find one near you!

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Time’s Convert

Time’s Convert is the fourth book I have read by Deborah Harkness. I read her All Souls Trilogy a couple of years ago and enjoyed them. You can find reviews of those on my reading list. This book involved the same characters – vampires, witches, daemons, warmbloods – but there is not as much action and I felt it was more character development than anything. So it was a little slow. I did enjoy reading about the pasts of some of the vampire characters and how they became vampires, but there was a LOT of detail. Harkness does weave in historical events and people, which was done really well, so that made it more enjoyable.

Overall, I thought it was a little long and boring. And if you do read it, I would definitely recommend reading the All Souls Trilogy first so you have some background on the characters and their relationships to each other.

Seven books complete for my 2019 challenge. Happy reading!

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Healthy Cleaning

So far I am not doing well at meeting my goal for blog posts. If I was going to start again, I wanted to write at least 2 posts a week. And it’s not like I don’t have anything to write about. Life has just been a little nuts. We are selling a home, buying a home, work has been super busy. You’ll hear more about all of this eventually! So hopefully March will be a little better.

Speaking of selling a home. We listed our townhouse (technically my husband’s townhouse) on Thursday. But there was a lot of do to get to that point. I sold my condo and moved in last year when we got married. Selling mine was a breeze and there wasn’t even that much prep to get it ready. But I was one person living with one person’s stuff. And I am not a person who holds on to too much stuff. I am definitely no Marie Kondo but I do a pretty good job of cleaning out stuff occasionally. Anyway, getting a townhouse ready that two people have lived in with two people’s combined stuff plus new stuff from a wedding was a little more involved.

We did clear out a LOT of stuff when I moved in. So it could have been a lot worse. But for the past 3-4 weeks, we have been de-cluttering, moving said de-cluttered stuff to my parent’s basement (thanks parents – you’re the best!), and doing some deep, deep cleaning. My husband has had this townhouse for almost 7 years and it is in really good shape. It just needed some extra TLC. We had someone come for a few days to fix and update some things. Then we got to the deep cleaning.

How hard have you ever looked at your floor grout? When’s the last time you really cleaned your floors or floor grout? Lovely to think about, right? When I was selling my condo, I noticed the floor grout in the tiled rooms (kitchen, sun room, bathroom) was probably not the color it originally was. My mom had a cool little gadget that she said would work wonders, so I gave it a try. And it’s my new favorite cleaning tool.

The Rubbermaid Reveal Power Scrubber is great for cleaning lots of things, especially if it needs a little more than just wiping off. But then you add the grout brush head and you will clean for days! Ok maybe not, but you will be impressed!

The next question was what to spray on the floor to really get the dirt up. In my place I used mainly a bleach spray. It definitely worked. But I was down on the floor on my hands and knees inhaling bleach spray. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I’ve been using Young Living essential oils casually for a number of years (yes, this will probably be another post as well) but in the past 6 months went on a restocking and trying new things binge. My sister-in-law sent me a sample of the Thieves Cleaner to try and I love it. I already knew I loved Thieves oil but there are a million uses for Thieves oil. The cleaner has no chemicals. It’s all natural and plant-based. It smells great. And it works! Maybe you clicked the link above and are thinking that’s way too much to spend on a cleaner? It’s super concentrated so you mix it with water in a spray bottle and it last a long time. When I started the grout I had about half a bottle, cleaned a decent size kitchen and 3 bathrooms, and still about 1/4 of a bottle left.

Anyway – product commercial over (but seriously, consider trying it and let me know if you want to) – I decided to use the Thieves Cleaner this time to clean the grout. And of course it worked wonders. I did add a little bit of vinegar as well because grout can be tough and vinegar is also a great cleaner.

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Now it does still take a little elbow grease, especially if it’s the first time you’ve cleaned the grout, and yes you are literally on your hands and knees. but it’s worth it. Just check out the before and afters below! I’ve looked at pictures of all the other townhouses and condos in our complex that have been listed and you can see even in the pictures how dirty the grout is. So think about a little spring deep cleaning – you’ll appreciate it in the long run.

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Crazy Rich Asians

I held off seeing the movie Crazy Rich Asians because I wanted to read the book first and I am glad I did! The book was an entertaining and quick read. Kevin Kwan does a great job of providing enough details to create a great picture but not droning on with unnecessary details.

Nick decides to take his girlfriend, Rachel, home to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. But he does prepare her at all for what is in store. His extremely wealthy family and friends live life on a completely different level and no one believes that Rachel is with Nick for any reason but his money. Little do they know that Rachel knows nothing of the fortunes that Nick is entitled to as he lives a completely “normal” life as a professor in New York City. So what happens when Nick’s mother learns of Rachel for the first time and eventually that Nick wants to marry her? I’m not going to give away all of the surprises. And that’s just the main story line! You’ll have to read the book. Or watch the movie. I’m not sure how they line up since I haven’t watched the movie yet, but that will happen soon.

I’m adding book #2, China Rich Girlfriend, to the reading list as well! 6/34 books complete for 2019!

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23andMe

I have never really had a serious interest in the whole DNA kit thing. It would be interesting to know where your ancestors are from but I didn’t really care to pay money to know that kind of information. I’m pretty sure I’m European and that’s enough for me.

But then a family member told me about 23andMe which also has a DNA health component that includes reports about genetic health risks, carrier status, wellness, and traits that are linked to your DNA. Now that interests me more. Especially to know if I have variants related to health conditions I might have or things I could potentially pass on. No, I’m not pregnant but that is something I would want to know eventually so why not go ahead and find out?! Most insurance companies do not completely cover this testing even when you are pregnant so you have to pay for it eventually if this is information you want to know.

So I did it! I got a discount code and ordered my kit. It came in a nice little box and had everything I needed. And by everything I mean a tube to spit in. There are clear instructions. Spit in the tube (don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes), seal it up and release whatever preservatives keep it fresh, seal it back in the box, and ship it back.

Then you use the bar code to register your tube with your account and you wait. In the meantime, you can take surveys online that also link to your account and DNA so researchers can use it to have even more accurate information about DNA and genetics. I work in research so of course I did all of this – but it is optional. You can also track where your DNA is in the analysis process.

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It took 17 days from the day I put it in the mail to get my results back, which I didn’t think was that long and it was earlier than the ‘expected’ date. You can see everything online, of course, and there is a lot to go through!

My ancestry was not at all surprising. I’m very European (99.5%). And if you’ve seen me or know me you would not be surprised either. I guess the breakdown was kind of interesting, but again, nothing surprising.

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The health information was very informative. You HAVE to remember though that this is not diagnostic at all or a guarantee of anything to happen. You can use it as a springboard to talk to your doctor about anything concerning. Luckily, I have nothing concerning.  There were a couple variants of health conditions that were detected, but nothing that I am at an actual risk of developing. Then there are carrier status reports – genetic variants that could affect your children’s health. No variants detected there! But this includes things like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, and 42 other conditions I have never heard of.

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The last reports are related to how DNA may affect your body’s response to diet, exercise, and sleep, and the genetics behind your appearance and senses. For example, I am predisposed to weigh about average. I apparently also have a muscle composition common in elite power athletes so it looks like I squandered that one! As far as traits, some are true for me and some are not. My report says I have “slightly higher odds of disliking cilantro” (yes, this is genetic), but I love cilantro. However, I am likely to have blue or green eyes (check), straight or wavy hair (check), and be bitten more often than others by mosquitoes (big check). It’s amazing what they can predict using genetics!

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I thought this was all very cool information. Luckily there’s nothing serious health-wise that I need to be concerned about right now, so some might say it was a waste of money, but I don’t feel that way. Let me know if you are interested in this and I’ll send you a referral code! They have the Health + Ancestry or just the Ancestry options. Think about it!


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Once Taken

So far I am blowing through my reading challenge for the year. I finished 4 books in January but that is not at all typical. A couple of the books were pretty short and I had a long weekend with 12 hour (round trip) road trip to give me lots of extra reading time.

Once Taken by Blake Pierce is the second book in a series with main character Riley Paige. If you like Criminal Minds, you will like this series. Riley Paige works at the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI and goes around the country working to catch serial killers. She is also trying to keep her already broken family afloat while dealing with some very heavy and personal cases. I honestly didn’t always like her character – she makes some pretty stupid decisions – but I realized that it actually makes her more believable as a character. Real people make mistakes.

If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller this is a good series. I’m not sure if I’ll read all 14 books in the series (yes…14…) but I’ll at least try a couple more.

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