The Inlander's annual Gift Guide issue hits stands next Thursday, Dec. 12, giving readers just enough time (two weeks) to get out there and shop for all of our writers' creative and thoughtful suggestions.
However, to avoid being repetitive with my suggestions last year for "Gifts for Cats and their People," this year's issue includes a different mix — both serious and hilarious — of giftee "types." But hey, lucky me and lucky you — Cat Friday comes to the rescue to present some incredibly purr-fect gifts for the cool cat people, and actual felines, on your list. This week features a mix of gifts for humans; check back next week for my kitty gift suggestions.
KEYBOARD CAT TOY
If you didn't already know the original Keyboard Cat is an Inland Northwest original, stop reading this blog right meow. Just kidding — don't stop reading, let us enlighten you. The Internet sensation that many cat video authorities credit with starting it all really was from the Lilac City. Give your craziest cat friend a piece of local history with the animatronic Keyboard Cat plushie, an officially licensed KC collectible. With the press of a button they'll have their very own miniature of this Internet Cat icon. $34.99 at thinkgeek.com (as of today it's on sale for $13.99)
GRUMPY CAT PLUSHIE
Getting a stuffed animal designed in one's likeness seems to be the critical sign you've made it big on the Interwebs. Another famous feline who's had several variations of her frown-y mug recreated in polyester is indeed, Grumpy Cat. There are a couple different designs out there, but my personal favorite is the Gund brand version, which looks just as soft and cuddly as Grumpy — despite what her sour expression may indicate — would be in real life. $22 at nordstrom.com
KITTY MEASURING CUPS
For the cat lady or dude in your life who loves to cook and bake, and is ever-so-careful to make sure not a strand of fur ever gets into his or her delicious dishes, giving this adorable measuring cup set is sure to earn you some friend brownie points and maybe even some real homemade brownies. I've admired these cute cups since I first saw them, and for a cat lady who likes to cook, it's a gift that can't go wrong. $34.99 at modcloth.com
*Cat Lady Pro Tip: A basic search of the word "cat" on ModCloth's site, a chic indie designer store, brings up five whole pages of fantastic and gift worthy cat-themed goods.
LIL BUB'S LIL BOOK
My fellow cat friends and friends of cat lovers, I urge you to spend the weeks following Christmas and into the new year studying up on all things BUB, in preparation for the momentous occasion when our very own city is graced by her squonking, wide-eyed, tongue-lolling presence at the Spokane stop of the touring Internet Cat Video Film Festival. There's no better way to start than with the tiny, outer space-hailing feline's first published book, pictured here. If you can't wait until Christmas and want to gift yourself right meow, go to Auntie's Bookstore (402 W. Main Ave), where I was beyond excited to see it in store a few days ago. Otherwise, it's available online anywhere books are sold, including BUB's store, which, I must add, has lots of other gift ideas for the ultimate BUB fan.
CHOCOLATE & STEEL CAT JEWELRY
Since receiving it as a birthday gift almost a year ago, I rarely take off my sterling silver ring stamped with a tiny cat face, and neither will any other cat lady who receives a piece of handmade kitty jewelry by LA-based Chocolate and Steel. The earth-friendly pieces, made from reclaimed and recycled metals, come in many forms including stud earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces, and also feature more than just kitty faces (most of the designs are by whimsical artist Gemma Correll). These particular earrings match the ring I mentioned, but come in several other feline and non-feline designs, too. (Faithful readers out there may realize why this ring is so special to me, based the name of its design!) $26 and up, Chocolate and Steel Etsy shop.
ORIGINAL CATHOUSE APPAREL
Much to the dismay of lifelong cat fanatics, cat images in fashion are all the rage now, from cheap duds at stores like Forever21, to even the most high-end designers. Scroll through trendy apparel retailer websites, like H&M or Urban Outfitters, and cat fashion is everywhere. As cute as these brands' designs may be, don't fall for them, or at least have caution. Now that cat-themed fashion is a "trend," when you wear that cutesy F21 kitty tee you'll be lumped in with less-arduous cat people, aka the masses who probably don't love cats as much as you. Go for something more original and less mass-produced, like this cozy, kitschy "Members Only" kitten sweatshirt from the Portland-based apparel shop The Original Cat House, which rocks the tagline: "Fine purr-veyors of feline centric goods." $28, unisex sizes S-XL, Original Cat House Etsy shop
Since this year’s U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree was cut from the Colville National Forest on Nov. 1, it’s traveled through nine states. Right now it’s in Arkansas and it’s only got a week left on the road before it reaches Washington D.C. on Nov. 25.
So here’s another fun thing about the tree: It’s helping research along the way. A Washington State University researcher put three small sensors on the tree to measure temperature and moisture content during the tree’s 25-day journey. Forest service technicians caring for the tree will also send daily twig samples to the WSU plant pathology department in Puyallup.
The data will be compared to research on normal house-sized trees and the previous U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree that came from Washington state, a 65-foot Pacific silver fir harvested from the Olympic National in 2006.
Keeping trees moist and fresh during transport is a big deal for the Northwest’s Christmas tree industry. Washington is No. 4 in the nation for Christmas tree production, and Oregon is No. 1, according to the Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association. The two states together have an estimated 2013 harvest of 8.7 million Christmas trees, worth $145 million. Here are tips from the National Christmas Tree Association about how to keep your own tree fresh longer.
Every week, Inlander editors go through a number of ideas for what should appear on the cover of the Inlander. For this week’s winter movie preview, here are some of the alternate concepts that never made it to print:
And it was this one, of course, that eventually became the image that graces the cover of the Inlander this week:
About three years ago, Dylan Ramirez saw Celeste Lennartz from across the room in the dining hall of their workplace. He was immediately in love with her, at first sight. "I know it sounds totally cliche, but it's true!" Dylan says. "I have been crazy for her ever since."
Dylan submitted his proposal to the "I Saw You" section of the Inlander, and once the issue was published, he had Celeste read it. The look on her face was a mixture of happiness, shock, and excitement as she said "YES!" and wiped tears out of her eyes. "I thought we were just coming downtown for some drinks," she said, laughing in disbelief.
Congratulations Dylan and Celeste, and thank you for letting us be a part of this big step towards your future.
This story is part of a special Inlander Cat Friday series, Inland Northwest Business Cats, profiling cats who hang out or live at local businesses. Read the previous post here.
It's been a while since we've been able to get out of the office and into the community to report about the cats that help make some local business owners' jobs a little livelier. But the "Inland Northwest Business Cats" series lives on, and we still have a pretty lengthy list of businesses in town that are reportedly home to a feline or two.
We discovered the cats at Interiors by Robin, in the Garland Business District, purely by chance. One evening after seeing a hilarious show at the nearby comedy venue the Blue Door Theatre, my companion and I passed by the next-door business and noticed two very contented cats sleeping near the shop's front window, one lounging on a small decorative bench, and the other curled up right on the other side of the glass. Cat lovers like me don't forget about unusual sightings like that, and I mentally filed the memory for future reference.
Recently, I met the interior design studio's owner, Robin Hoffman, and her two resident kitties, Dolly and Keekee, short for "Keekeelishus."
The two shop cats definitely weren't planned fixtures for the business, Hoffman tells me.
On a frigid January day back in 2006, Hoffman says she was bringing in supplies through the store's alleyway garage door, when a skinny little cat zipped inside to escape the cold.
"I was just kind of torn," Hoffman says. "I already had multiple cats at home so I thought well, she can stay here."
This wasn't the only surprise in store.
"Maybe a month went by, and I noticed kind of a roundness to her belly, and I thought it was just because she’s getting fed and things are getting better for her," Hoffman continued. "Then one day a lady came by and said, 'that cat’s pregnant,’ and I think I was in denial."
Sure enough, weeks later the little stray cat, which Hoffman named Dolly, had her kittens in the back of the shop, surprising an intern who discovered the kittens one morning.
Because Hoffman planned to keep Dolly at the store as its resident kitty — she already had four of her own cats at home — she didn't want the new mother to get lonely. After finding homes for three of the four kittens, she chose to keep a smoke grey male, named Keekee.
The two have certainly made a name for themselves on the block, lined with shops and restaurants, and Hoffman says "everybody knows about the cats on Garland."
"I would say 99 percent of people come in because of the cats, just to pet them," she says.
Sometimes, when they're sleeping in the store window, passersby stop and gawk and Hoffman hears questioning if the cats are real or part of the window display.
When they're not sleeping in the front windows, Dolly and Keekee enjoy hiding behind the numerous wood, carpet and tile displays in the quaint interior design studio, or scratching up Hoffman's fabric sample books. The enjoy keeping her company, since she's usually the only person there all day. Hoffman says the cats usually prefer to lay on one of two leopard print bar stools at a large workspace in the middle of the room, littered with paint and fabric swatches and sketches of floor plans.
If it weren't for Hoffman's decision to let Dolly stay, who knows what would have happened to the pregnant young cat. She's sure the young mother was a stray. She had no collar and no one ever came looking for her, and Hoffman doubts she would have had a more favorable fate on the streets. And while Dolly doesn't always enjoy being around her son, the two still get along well and Hoffman often finds them snuggled up together, napping or grooming one another.
Tell us of any local Inland Northwest businesses you know of that have a part- or full-time resident feline and we’ll consider them for a future profile for our "Business Cats of the Inland Northwest" series! Email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This little web app called “What Would I Say?” is making the web rounds today as a fun thing that combines the absurdity of Mad Libs, the serendipity of Times Haiku and the narcissistic curiosity of googling yourself.
Built by students at Princeton, it gobbles up your status posts on Facebook and generates new ones — what you would say if you were a bot, as this Slate post puts it. Here’s the description from the developers:
Technically speaking, it trains a Markov Bot based on mixture model of bigram and unigram probabilities derived from your past post history. Don't worry, we don't store any of your personal information anywhere. In fact, we don't even have a database! All computations are done client side, so only your browser ever sees your post history.
So naturally we plugged in the Inlander to see what would happen:
Whoa. Try it yourself here.
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