How we leave our cat for holiday

We have a very old cat, but we are people who like exploring and like visiting family, especially over the holidays or long weekends. As the holiday season is approaching we planning to be gone for a little less than a week 2 months in a row. I thought I would share how we prepare our home and our cat for us to be gone.

  • Water: We use a water bubbler pretty regularly, but we fill it up when we leave on vacation. It can hold and cycle about three days worth of water. We then fill up his regular water bowl and depending on if we are going to be gone more than 3 days an additional container of water and a Tupperware of ice. In summer they are both ice.
  • Heat:: So we are really lucky in that heat is included in our admittedly high rent because we can leave the heat on to a more reasonable level versus a minimum level. We typically leave it around 71 when we leave in the winter. In the summer, we leave it at 80 but leave on fans and make a cool spot under are bed with a fan always going.
  • Activity: Our primary activity is cuddling, but we do want to make sure he is able to use his mind and hunting skills when not sleeping. We typically hide treats around the apartment for him to sniff and pull out. Keep his toys in our catnip container for at least 24 hours before we leave. Then set up his scratching boards and window toys.
  • Clean: Mostly we make sure there is no clothes or fabric on the floor and set up a second kitty litter tray is we are going to be gone more than half a week (it is actually our travel one).
  • Food: We do a day of wet food for when we are leaving and then a half a cup dry food for everyday we will be gone including that first day.

My Favorite Crime Procedurals

What is a procedural? – A procedural is a show that follows typically the procedures of an occupation (typically creme, legal, or medical). These can be watched as a series but are made so that for the most part they can be watched independently (a story arc an episode). Due to this format it can get repetitive and formulaic. Below are some of my favorites of the genre. Do you like procedurals?

Rizzoli and Isles (7 Seasons)

This Boston-based show follows a homicide detective and the chief medical examiner. The show follows the crimes they work and the relationship between the two women. The crimes do tend to cover the gambit, but even when they do start to get repetitive because about a third of each episode focuses on the family and relationships of the leads it never feels boring or predictable. In general, it is just a very heartfelt show despite the genre.

Psych (8 Seasons)

This is the funniest of the shows. It follows a two best friends, one of which uses his observational skills and eidetic memory to pretend to psychic, as they start a detective agency. Gus and Shawn often are trying to figure out if there even is a case just so they can get paid. It is a super funny and fast show. The core cast is great and the relationship between all 6 (including Lassie, Henry, Jules, and the Chief) just grows over the seasons.

LA’s Finest (2 Seasons)

This Bad Boys spinoff lived up to the franchise. It was fun, brutal, and fast. All of the procedural episodes also took part in a large umbrellas case that each season revolves around. Fair warning this is a show you are going to want to binge as each episodes ends in a cliffhanger to lead into the next. However, any thing starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union is a must-watch. Their performance and chemistry is worth the commitment of at least the two existing seasons.

Veronica Mars (3 seasons; 1 spin-off movie and 1 spin-off season)

The mid-aughts show follows a teen P.I and her friends. Each season has an overall crime plot that is filled throughout the season with smaller mysteries. Often these are not major or violent crimes episode to episode, but the overall themes of the season can be quite brutal. This is mystery meets teen drama and it works.

Criminal Minds (tentative) – (15 Seasons)

This is tentative because there are FIFTEEN seasons and I am only partway through season 9 so I don’t feel that I can fully say 100% yes. This follows the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) from the FBI. They work on serial crimes throughout the country. This has a larger focus on psychology and sociology which is always fascinating. I do think they try really hard to balance recognition of negative police structures, mental illness, and socio-economic factors. Part of what keeps this show fresh is that we also follow the unsub or the victim for part of the episode while the team is trying to find them.

Monsters at Work: Hit or Miss

The Premise: Monsters at work takes place after Monsters Inc (2001). The series follows Monsters Inc after it reopens to transition to use Laugh Energy instead. The whole company is trying to figure out it’s new place and how to work under new leadership. The new character we follow is Tylor Tuskman who was hired as a Scarer fresh out of Monster U. In the chaos no one thought to let him know the job no longer existed. When he shows up to Monsters Inc. he gets reassigned to the quirky facilities team, MIFT.

My Review:

I was really looking forward to this show as I am huge fan of the films and of the cast of this show. Unfortunately, it felt like the show knew that. I have this theory that you can figure out if a show is for you in three episodes. In my opinion, the show is rather forgettable. All the new characters are “weird” and intense, but they don’t have storylines of their own. Splitting the show with Mike, Sully, Celia, and Roz from the original series feels like it is splitting focus and doesn’t really know it’s own intentions. Mike and Sully even though it supposedly months later are figuring out for the first time how the new company should run and how to be in charge. The most heartfelt episode was episode three but it came it waves and for me too late. It feels like the show has yet to find it’s own heartbeat and direction.

How to Watch: Disney + (steaming service)

The Other Side of the Interview

I have done so many job interviews over the years, for almost 7 years I have been interviewing regularly, whether for college, internships, or jobs. I have read interviewing books, listened to experts, done trainings in the interview (confidence and the handshake). To this day, the TikTok algorithm shows me interview tricks. However, until this last month I had never been on the other side of the table. To participate in the interview on behalf of the organization to be the one to extend out an offer and to have to make this decision.

Now, I am not the be all end all of this decision and I am not organizing the interviews, but I have a say, got to write questions, and am part of the discussion with my department and HR. I was really surprised by what when in behind the scenes. The interview is supposed to give both parties (sides) a way to move forward and feel confident accepting and offering the position. Each question relates to a quality of work and the position itself: goal setting, DEI, relationship building, passion, etc. I was really surprised by this, and how much it worked to find the information in the interviews.

What I was most surprised by were where the red flags flew. I thought there might be people that were rude or I didn’t feel were qualified, but that didn’t happen. People were polite, professional, and looking for a job that was the best fit for them. The red flags were raised consistently in the answers for continuous learning and conflict resolution. To preface with what was asked for one after hearing about a successful project they were asked ” Knowing what you know now, how would you improve the project if you were to do it again?”. We frequently run events multiple times a year or at the least annually and we want to know that someone can keep growing and improving for attendants and for our organization. Later in the interview, they were asked “Tell us about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker and how you resolved it.” Our work is largely subjective in it’s contents and people approach topics very differently there is no one correct way, disagreements happen and we want to insure that this is a person that understands that and can work and collaborate with others.

The Audacity! I know that you are only told to brag about their accomplishments but my goodness. I on so many interview forms was just like no. We only had 2 candidates genuinely answer the continuous learner with something real and logistical. Everyone else, said I should have charged more to reflect it’s quality or I should have spread it to more people because it was so excellent, etc. I mean truly we had one person talk about personalization and one talk about prep time and I was so relieved.

Similarly to the conflict question, I am thrilled you were right and have good instincts. However, the idea that you just push and push or start without getting approval on a large budget project makes me afraid! Just say I pulled the data, I conducted a poll with our area of service to show this is correct, I asked our volunteers who would had to implement, we COMPROMISED. You can absolutely be right, but the answers put people at the bottom of my list to hire.

We are making our final decisions today regarding who will receive the first (and hopefully only) offer. It was a pretty stressful experience, but I hope we are making the right judgements. I think my main tip from this side of the table is focus on how you are to work with as well as the level of work you do. These are people you are going to be with 40ish hours a week and no one wants work to be harder than it has to be.

Halloween Candy Book Tag

I love Halloween and I was looking for a tag that reflected by favorite piece of it: the candy! I found this one which I really enjoyed created by Book Adventures with Katie on Youtube. Personally my favorite is anything involving nougat, which doesn’t have a question on this tag but I felt it covered all the classics. What is your favorite Halloween candy?

Reese’s Cup: Classic YA book everyone loves

I feel like for this I am going to have to go with the Hunger Games. I reread these over the past year and it really holds up. From what I have seen it looks like it is going to continue to be a classic for a long time.

Sour Patch Kids: Grew on you over time

Mind of My Mind by Octavia E. Butler. I think that this book in general has very unsettling themes but it took me a while to get into. By the end, I was totally committed to the book.

Bubble Gum: Great at first but “lost its flavor” over time

For this I am going the the Throne of Glass series. The flavorful moments that were satisfying but were too few and far between as the series went on and unfortunately I lost my taste for it.

Candy Corn: Polarizing read

I genuinely do love candy corn and someone how ended up with the only other person my age I know who also likes it. However for this one I am going with a book that made me feel polarized by not liking it. That was The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. So many people love this author and I love the idea of dark academia but I did not like and I have found this tends to be a totally love or totally hate.

Laffy Taffy: Made you laugh

I should read more joyful books, I don’t really remember the last time a book made me laugh. The only thing that comes to mind recently is some of the short stories from Once Upon an Eid, an anthology edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed. In general the stories were beautiful and joyous but the special holiday chaos of “Yusuf and The Great Big Brownie Mistake” and “Eid and Pink Bubble Gum, Insha’ Allah”.

Sucker: Cliché but sucked you in

I’m not going to explain myself but the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, or at least the original trilogy.

Fun-size: Short and sweet

Again, I need to read more positive books because I had to reach back to some of the classics. Coming in at 110 pages (or at least the version I have) I am hitting this off with The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I know that not everyone would consider it “sweet” but I think it is heartwarming and you leave the book with a positive feeling.

King-size: Gave you more than you thought you needed

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi was one of my most surprising reads of the year in a really good way. I was expecting a darker coming of age story but I was really impressed by the complexity, the relationships: romantically, with family, and with herself.

York Peppermint Pattie: Refreshing read

I like to use graphic novels to refresh the brain. Lately I have been moving through the Orange volumes by Ichigo Takano and The 5 Worlds series by Mark and Alexis Siegel.

Krackel/Mr. Goodbar: Underrated read

I never know exactly what this is asking so I have prepared an answer for each option. A book I think people rated under its value is White Ivy by Susie Yang. An incredible contemporary thriller surrounding privilege. A book that I think not enough people have rated (read) is Each of Us a Desert.

Twix: Told from dual perspectives

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is a of the hyped-variety but a great dual perspectives. It absolutely deserves the hype it gets and the perspectives genuinely feel different and give you new insight to the story.

Twizzlers: A book you want to be made into a movie/show

My cheating answer is the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard, but that is already being developed for TV, so hooray! My non-cheating answer is The Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow. It is such an engaging and timely story. The world has already been expanded in The Chorus Rises and I would love to be able to continue to explore it on a show.

Dune (2021) – Movie Review

Dune has been one of the most hyped movies of the year with huge press and marketing leading up to its release. Now, it was a faithful adaption of the novel or at least the most faithful adaptation from a book that I have seen in recent years. However, it was not a good movie. It was a beautiful film, but it didn’t work.

When it comes to book to movie adaptations there is always a hope that the it is a detailed and exact translation from page to screen. In Dune, the book, so much in terms of the worlds themselves was left up to the imagination in visuals the function only was described. The movie did a beautiful job bringing the world, the people, and technology into a visual format. It did a great job maintaining the relationships especially between Paul and the main adults in his life (Leto, Jessica, and Duncan). Some of the dialogue was lifted straight out, which was very exciting.

However, so many of the genuine story elements felt compromised for the grand feelings and the world building visuals. There are three main story lines in the plot of Dune: the coming of the Kwisatz Haderach, the fall of the House of Atreides, and the control of Arrakis and the Spice there. Several of these plot points involve tension leading up to them because there is quite a lot conspiracy and tension. I found that we were largely missing that information and it let the tension go turning it from a political space drama to an adventure colonialism story. Now I really liked the explicit colonization framing, but I was really missing the intrigue of the Emperor’s plan, the foreshadowing of the betrayal, and the importance of the spice trade (they cannot give Arrakis up and still function as an empire). They also stopped the story half way through. None of the story arcs were complete! Only the fall of the house of Atreides hit it’s climax but everything else was unfinished. Not even to a clear transitional point, just stopped. I can understand that they want a sequel and to turn it to a film series, but it left a very unsatisfying taste in my mouth.

Ultimately, I do want more adaptions to get this budget and I think it is clear the filmmakers know Dune well. However, I was missing a lot of story elements that make watching movies engaging and make Dune specifically fun to be in.

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo (Review)

Summary:

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong. We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all—for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.

Review:

I have been a long time fan of Kate DiCamillo since “The Tale of Despereaux” and I was very excited to get my hands on this book. Mostly it is a story about stories and the power of words. It could definitely be a little corny, but overall I found the writing to mask many of the repeat tropes. It felt a little bit like floating through the tale. Most often we were peripheral to Beatryce moving tangentially or even back tracking before a character joined her group. This made a lot of the story feel more passive.

I felt like the characters in themselves were very morally good, but not as interesting or unique on paper as I have come to expect with DiCamillo. What I really liked though was that the acts of the generation before were incredibly important to the story. How Beatryce was raised and what she was taught to believe in value were integral not the page time and the story as a whole.

Overall I gave this book 4 star and had a pretty enjoyable time reading it. It was heartwarming and built at a comfortable pace. I would go to the ends of the earth for the “demon-goat” Answelica though.

Publication Date: September 2021

Publisher: Candewick Press

Read more reviews and content warnings here.

Presentations and Public Speaking

For my job I regularly have to talk to large groups of people, give presentations, and guide discussions. You probably couldn’t tell that public speaking is one of the things that I never want to do. I did not seek out a position that required this, but as positions grow and change more and more is expected of you. When I first started doing any kind of public speaking was not successful. My voice got really high pitched. I overcorrected and spoke so slow it wasn’t clear when a thought was ending.

To be clear, I still do not like public speaking. Often my face gets more red than I want to. I say “uh” or “umm” or “so…” throughout. . It is not my main skill though I have learned a couple things along the way. What is your biggest tip for speaking to a crowd?

  1. Don’t practice too much. If you practice ’til word perfect and then get mixed up during, it is incredibly hard to recover naturally.
  2. Keep 1-2 examples for what you are presenting in your back pocket (memorized) and out of your formal presentation. You can either use them as examples if you get questions or if not throw them out as extra examples at the end of the section. This will make you look like a content expert and like you can think on your feet.
  3. Look above eyeline. For virtual presentations for me this is the top edge of my computer. For in person, it may be a back door, the clock on the wall or a window.
  4. Talk at a speed where you can hear what you are stay. Use punctuation to take pauses and breathes. After each major ideas take a break, either to ask for questions or move on.
  5. This is the one I struggle most with: Stop talking once your point is made. Say what you mean to say and nothing more. Answer just the question that was asked. Give a chance for questions or requests for clarifications, but over-explaining can lead to rambling and more confusion than just letting the audience receive the initial point.

Halloween Watch Plans

Spooky Season is upon us and that means time to pull out all the movies that imbody the season. Honestly, these are some of my favorite vibes throughout the year. There is such a wide spectrum of Halloween content from trick-or-treating to the paranormal to pure gore. Here is what I am watching to celebrate the season! What is your favorite Halloween viewing?

Netflix

  • ParaNorman (2012) dir. Sam Fell and Chris Butler
  • A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020) dir. Rachel Talalay
  • Labyrinth (1986) dir. Jim Henson

Hulu

  • Scream Queen Season 2
  • Over the Garden Wall (2014) – miniseries also available on HBO Max
  • The Final Girls (2015) dir.  Todd Strauss-Schulson
  • Black Swan (2010) dir, Darren Aronofsky

HBO Max

  • Scooby-Doo (2002) dir. Raja Gosnell/Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) dir. Raja Gosnell
  • The Witches (1990) dir. Nicolas Roeg/ The Witches (2020) dir. Robert Zemeckis
  • Corpse Bride (2005) dir. Tim Burton and Mike Johnson
  • Freaky (2020) dir. Christopher Landon

Owned

  • Halloweentown (1998) dir. Duwayne Dunham
    • Rest of the series available on Disney Plus dir. Mary Lambert/Mark A.Z. Dippé/David Jackson
  • Twitches (2005) dir. Stuart Gillard /Twitches Too (2007) dir. Stuart Gillard
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) dir. Charles Barton

Finally Fall Book Tag

The season has finally started to change. The weather is getting cooler during the day and not just at night. The candy corn is back in the aisles. I found this awesome book tag that celebrates some of my favorite things about the season, plus I missed doing tags. Enjoy!

In fall, the air is crisp and clear: Name a book with a vivid setting!

For this one I am going with a historical fiction book: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah . This book made the dustbowl, migrant camps, and work fields come alive. The writing is so vivid and beautiful, even in this book that is largely heartbreak.

Nature is beautiful…but also dying: Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.

Unfortunately for this question and perhaps myself I have read quite a few books that fit in this category. I would pick Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi and The Deep by Rivers Solomon but for very different reasons. Yolk is a contemporary that focuses on health, growing up, and food. The Deep is a fantasy that surrounds generational trauma, identity, and mermaids.

Fall is back to school season: Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.

I have been reading a lot more non-fiction lately. One that really stuck with me was Pushout by Monique Morris. This focused on the criminalization of Black girls and the structures that work against them in the school systems, especially in the US.

In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.

Even though i wasn’t a huge fan of the last book I would love to be a member of the Penderwick clan from the Penderwick series by Jeanne Birdsall. This passionate, loving, wild family is so endearing and cares for each other so deeply that I would just love to be another member of this ever growing family.

The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: Show us a pile of fall-colored spines!

Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.

Definitely going with the classic The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss for this one. This fantasy epic is Kvothe telling his own story to a biographer after years in hiding from his past.

The nights are getting darker: Share a dark, creepy read.

I am not a huge horror or gore fan but I do like a good mystery or suspense novel. The best creepy novel I have read recently is A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell. This is the story of massacre, class, and coverup. This was brutal but not gorey or gross and definitely a great stay-up-all-night nervous book.

The days are getting colder: Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch by Julia Abe is an incredibly heartwarming book that also deals with an impending storm. I absolutely adore this book about a young witch going to find her talents and her place in the community (both magical and non).

Fall returns every year: Name an old favourite that you’d like to return to soon.

This is not a book but a world favorite. I absolutely love Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legends of Korra. I am super excited to return to the world with the Kyoshi duology by F.C. Yee and Suki, Alone by Faith Erin Hicks this fall.

Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: Share your favourite cozy reading “accessories”!

I got a large mug with a hot beverage and cozy cat. I am all set to settle in for a long reading night.

The post Finally Fall Book Tag appeared first on Kristin Kraves Books.

Summer Wrap Up

This summer was incredibly long personally. I did get a lot of reading done though despite work, memorials, and finally taking a break. This season I got through 36 books, which felt really good for me. I also was a little more liberal with myself and not finishing books after I had started them. I had a pretty solid reading month. I enjoyed most of what I read, but there were very few stand outs. Over the month, I averaged 4.04 stars in the books that I finished. This felt pretty solid. I enjoyed most of the books I read. They were solid, but there were very few standouts for me personally, even in the ones where the books themselves were excellent.

Genre Breakdown:

Rating Breakdown:

RatingNumber of Books
2.0 – 2.5 Stars 2
2.51 – 3.0 Stars1
3.01 – 3.5 Stars7
3.51 – 4.0 Stars8
4.01 – 4.5 Stars7
4.51 – 5 Stars11

Standouts of the Season

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Ash by Malinda Lo

Monstress Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takenda

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian

Things I learned from my first concert back

This past weekend I went to my first concert since the pandemic first hit, and one of my first major concerts ever. It was outdoors in the city where my partner and I went to college. It was a progressive rock/metal concert. Due to the conditions of the world it was a dual headlining tour so that as many bands as possible could get back on tour, with limited outdoor venues around the country.

It was an incredibly fun experience. I did feel safe, but also I got to see one of my best friends and meet some other cool people. I will say that it could be incredibly overwhelming. Here are some things I will know to move into for the second.

  1. Your feet and legs will hurt. You will be standing. jumping, walking for a long time. This maybe in line, at the concert, or dealing with parking. Wear shoes that don’t kill you.
  2. Bring cash. You will want at least a beverage of some kind and the cards take long and hold up a line.
  3. You will feel gross at some point. Whether, god forbid, you have to go to the bathroom or it’s just the beer cans at your feet. My friend did get a drink dropped down the back of their legs while people were walking (it was not not funny).
  4. There is always a more hard-core fan. People are there for a good time and because they love the entertainment, and boy do they. Fan watching is so fun and you can always find someone more into it.
  5. There is space for you! Whether you are there for a hard-core most experience, to have a date night in the back, to listen to music bopping a long in the crowd, or something any where in the middle. There is space for you to enjoy the concert however you want to and people really seem to respect that because they are doing their own thing.