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PEAR, THYME AND HAZELNUT TART

Yield: 6-8 SERVINGS

Prep time: 30 MIN

Cook time: 30 MIN

Cooling time: 1HR

Total time: 2 HR

Thyme adds an intriguing savory note to this burnt-butter tart, and poaching the pears in wine adds a further savory element. Start this tart a day ahead to rest the pastry, and serve it with a dollop or two of crème fraîche.

 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE HAZELNUT PASTRY:

80 gm roasted hazelnuts

200 gm (1 cups) plain flour

110 gm pure icing sugar, sieved

125 gm chilled butter, diced

2 egg yolks

FOR THE POACHED PEARS:

400 ml semi-dry white wine, such as riesling

400 gm raw caster sugar

Thinly peeled rind and juice of ½ orange and ½ lemon

3 thyme sprigs

2 cinnamon quills

4 ripe pears (such as Josephine), peeled, cored and quartered

FOR THE FILLING:

80 gm chilled butter, diced

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

110 gm raw caster sugar

Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean

Finely grated rind of ½ orange

1 tsp thyme, plus extra to serve

50 gm (⅓ cup) plain flour

2 tbsp crème fraîche

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE HAZELNUT PASTRY:

For hazelnut pastry, finely process hazelnuts in a food processor, add flour, sugar and a pinch of salt, and process to combine. Add butter, process to fine crumbs then add yolks and process until the dough just comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick round, then line a 23cm-diameter, 3cm-deep tart tin and trim edges. Refrigerate to rest for 1 hour, preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and blind-bake tart case until edges are lightly golden (6-8 minutes). Remove paper and weights, then bake until lightly golden and crisp (5-6 minutes).

TO MAKE THE POACHED PEARS:

For poached pears, bring wine, sugar, rinds, juices, thyme, cinnamon and 1 liter of water to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.

Add pears, cover directly with baking paper, weight with a plate, reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender (25-30 minutes).

Remove 6 pear quarters with a slotted spoon, pat dry with paper towels, halve each lengthways and set aside. Refrigerate remaining pears in syrup.

 

TO MAKE THE FILLING:

Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant (3-4 minutes), pour into a bowl and set aside.

Whisk eggs, yolk, sugar, vanilla seeds, rind, thyme and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes), then whisk in flour on low speed.

Whisk in brown butter and crème fraîche, pour into the pastry case, arrange halved pear wedges on top and bake until set and golden (45-50 minutes).

Cool a little, then scatter with extra thyme and serve warm or at room temperature with crème fraîche and extra pears in syrup. This tart is best eaten on the day it’s made.

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The Best Hummingbird Cake Recipe

Yield: 12 SERVINGS

Prep time: 15 MIN

Cook time: 30 MIN

Total time: 1 HR 30 MIN

Hummingbird cake is an incredibly dense and moist layer cake with banana, pineapple, and warm spices, covered with swirls of rich cream cheese frosting and crunchy toasted pecans on top. And if you’ve never had it – but you’re a fan of banana cake, pineapple upside-down cake, or carrot cake – you’re going to be thoroughly charmed by our easier-than-you’d-expect hummingbird cake recipe.

 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE HUMMINGBIRD CAKE:

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs, beaten

1½ cups sugar

1⅓ cups vegetable oil

¼ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups very ripe banana, mashed (about 4 medium bananas or 16 ounces)

1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple (or fresh chopped pineapple)

2 cups toasted chopped pecans, divided

FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened

¼ teaspoons kosher salt

6 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE HUMMINGBIRD CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda.

Add the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract, and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Stir in the mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, and one cup of chopped pecans, and stir just until evenly mixed.

Divide the batter evenly between your three coated cake pans (about 22 ounces per pan). Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, and then remove them from the pans and transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

 

TO MAKE THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

Make the cream cheese frosting: beat together the butter, cream cheese, and salt with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar at low speed, until it is all incorporated. Whip in the vanilla extract.

ASSEMBLY:

Use a serrated knife to trim off the rounded tops of each cake to make them level. (If you don’t want to do this, you can also just fill in the gaps with more frosting).

Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or cake decorating turntable, and spread the top of the first layer with about ¼ of the frosting.

Turn the second layer of cake upside-down (so that you have a nice flat surface for frosting), and place it on top of the first frosted cake layer. Frost it with about another ¼ of the frosting.

 

Place the last cake layer, upside-down, on top of the second frosted cake layer.

Cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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CHOCOLATE AND PISTACHIO NAKED LAYER CAKE

Yield: 8 SERVINGS

Prep time: 2 HR

Cook time: 20 MIN

Total time: 18 HR

With lovely layers of moist chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, crunchy chocolate crumble and a luxurious pistachio buttercream, this chocolate pistachio naked cake is a three-layer masterpiece!

 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour

½ cup (60g) Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

¾ cup full fat buttermilk

⅓ cup light olive oil or grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE CRUMB:

⅔ cup (105g) flour

1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch

½ cup (100g) sugar

½ cup (65g) good quality Dutch-process cocoa powder

4g kosher salt (1 teaspoon)

6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

½ cup chopped pistachios, for garnish

FOR THE PISTACHIO BUTTERCREAM:

½ cup (1 stick/113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup (40g) powdered sugar, sifted

¾ cup (230g) pistachio paste or pistachio butter

pinch salt

¼ teaspoon pistachio extract (optional)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

3 ounces (86g) dark chocolate (60-70%), finely chopped

⅓ cup (76ml) heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CAKE:

Preheat oven to 350ºF (181ºC). Line the bottom of a (9-by-12-inch) quarter sheet pan with parchment; lightly butter bottom and sides.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until evenly incorporated.

In a small bowl or 2-cup glass measuring cup, whisk together egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and mix until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is springy and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached but no raw batter.

Place pan on a cooling rack and let cool completely. Once cooled, the cake can be tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to 1 week.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE CRUMB:

Preheat the oven to 300ºF (150ºC).

Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk on low speed until well mixed.

Add the melted butter and blend until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. Let cool completely. The crumbs will harden further as they cool. (Make ahead: store in an airtight container for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer)

 

TO MAKE THE PISTACHIO BUTTERCREAM:

Cream butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Add pistachio paste, salt and pistachio extract and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.

Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until it just starts to steam and barely bubble around the edges (do not let it boil).

Pour hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds, then start gently whisking, working in concentric circles starting in the center until smooth and glossy.

Add butter, one cube at a time, gently whisking until smooth before adding the next.

 

ASSEMBLY:

Invert the cake onto a fresh piece of parchment paper; peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake, cutting them out from opposite corners of the rectangle, getting as close to the edges as possible. These are your top 2 cake layers.

Cut out two almost half-circles (as large as you can) from the remaining scraps of cake. These, along with any leftover scraps, will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.

Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan on top of a round of parchment paper (you can also use a 6-inch cake pan or springform pan with a removable bottom). Line the inside of the cake ring with 1 strip of acetate.

Piece together the two half circles and additional cake scraps as needed to form a flat even layer in the bottom of the cake ring, using the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together.

Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the ganache in an even layer over the cake.

Sprinkle one-third of the chocolate crumbs and a few chopped pistachios evenly over the ganache, pressing them lightly into the ganache so they stick.

 

Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the pistachio buttercream as evenly as possible over the crumbs. Spread to the edges using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula.

Set a second cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat layers of ganache, crumbs, and buttercream.

Gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. (Depending on the width of your acetate, you may need to do this before adding the second layer instead).

Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining buttercream. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate crumbs and more chopped pistachios, if desired.

Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. You can also cover and freeze the assembled cake for up to 2 weeks (if frozen, put it in the refrigerator to thaw the night before you want to serve it).

At least 1 hour before you want to serve the cake, place the cake on a platter or cake stand. Gently remove the cake from the cake ring and carefully peel off the acetate. Let sit at cool room temperature for about an hour before slicing and serving. The finished cake can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

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How to Calm an Angry Cat

An aggressive cat is never a good thing. It can be a dangerous situation for you or any member of your family, especially unaware children. Get to the bottom of why your cat may be showing signs of aggression and learn some helpful ways to calm your cat.

Most anger in cats derives from fear, and aggressive behavior stems from your cat’s perception that it needs to defend itself. Placing your cat in any situation where fearful emotions arise will often result in anger. Knowing how to minimize and remove such situations is an important part of calming your angry cat and keeping it calm.

 

Recognizing Behaviors of an Angry Cat

Consider the motivation for your cat’s anger:

  • A cat’s primary motivation for displaying angry or aggressive behavior is fear. Cats are not as domesticated as dogs and easily revert to their wild state. This means that cats are one step away from being a wild animal still and many wild animals live in a constant state of alertness for danger, including a fear of people.
  • Top of the list for inducing fear is strangers, simply because a cat doesn’t know what that person is all about until they’ve had time to observe and trust that the person is cat friendly. Keep in mind that the reason for your cat’s fear may not always be immediately apparent to you

Recognize behaviors associated with fear or anger in your cat. Reading your cat’s body language can help avoid conflict. It is useful to recognize both fear and aggression. However, there is an overlap between both sets of behavior, so don’t get too hooked up on differentiating the two. The important thing is to recognize the cat is stressed, and stressed leads to possible attack.

Be aware that a cat can turn from being calm to afraid or angry in a matter of seconds. Signs of fear or aggression include:

  • Piloerection (hairs standing up)
  • Dilated pupils
  • A direct stare at you (precedes attack)
  • Averting its gaze (fear)
  • Whiskers stiff and drawn back
  • Ears flattened against the head
  • A hunched body posture
  • Growling
  • Drawing backs the lips and hissing

Consider the purpose behind usual “angry” behavior. Though most of these behaviors are often thought of as signs that an angry cat is about to attack, the behaviors are more typical of a stressed and fearful cat that wants to escape the situation.

 

Calming an Angry or Fearful Cat

Interrupt the aggressive behaviour: Once your cat’s aggression takes off, it can be hard for them to reel it in. If you notice signs that your cat is moving toward aggression, try to interrupt the behavior with a distraction such as whistling, throwing a soft toy in their line of vision, or shaking a jar filled with pennies. However, never interrupt the aggressive behavior by attempting to touch or pick up your cat. A cat who is already showing signs of aggression could be dangerous.

Use calming diffusers and sprays: There are a number of products on the market designed specifically for the purpose of calming cats down. These diffusers and sprays naturally mimic feline pheromones that cats recognize, the reassuring familiarity of which makes them feel safe and secure. This often results in a less anxious cat, and in some cases that means a less aggressive cat too.

Provide alternative stimulation: For many cats, aggression is a way to release energy. Providing a stimulating environment can help a cat to rid themselves of some of that energy before it spirals into aggression. Scratching posts, climbing perches, and cat condos are not only activity centers, they are also spots where a cat can curl up and get some much needed privacy. You can also stimulate your cat by playing with them, but only at times when you do not see signs of aggression. Keep your hands at a distance by using toys that you can throw or dangle, and if you notice that your cat is beginning to act aggressive, end the playtime and return when your cat is calm. If your cat is playing nicely, reward the good behavior with treats or food.

Try behaviour modification: This method for calming an aggressive cat is usually carried out under the supervision of an animal behaviorist. Behavior modification is a form of conditioning that uses positive or negative reinforcement to change undesirable behaviors. For example, if you have a cat who reacts aggressively when they are touched, you may be able to modify that behavior by forming a positive association with petting by offering treats or food when you wish to pick up or touch your cat.

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BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

Yield: 10 SERVINGS

Prep time: 30 MIN

Cook time: 40 MIN

Total time: 1 HR 10 MIN

Bursting with sweet flavors, Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting is a huge crowd-pleaser and better than any store-bought cake and pretty easy too. The cake is ridiculously moist and tender with bites of mini chocolate chips throughout. The frosting is ultra creamy, luscious, and smooth. Every bite makes your mouth happy.

 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE:

2½ cups (317g) all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine salt

2 sticks unsalted butter (227g), room temperature

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar

½ cup (100g) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

½ cup (113g) sour cream

4 medium overripe bananas, mashed

1¼ cups miniature chocolate chips

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING:

2 sticks unsalted butter (227g), room temperature

1 cup (270g) creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon fine salt

2½ cups (313g) powdered sugar, sifted

Chocolate chips, for garnish (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time. On low speed, beat in half the dry ingredients, then add the sour cream and bananas. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cakes are golden brown and pull away from the edges.

Cool in the pans for 15 minutes before flipping onto cooling racks to cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to frost. The colder the cake, the easier it will be to frost. You can even pop the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

 

TO MAKE THE PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.

ASSEMBLY:

Place one cake layer on a cake turntable or cake stand. For a smooth and even frosting coverage, use a pastry bag and open tip to pipe a generous ring of the frosting around the top edge of the cake layer.

Fill up the frosting ring with additional frosting, spreading to create an even layer.

Place the other cake layer upside-down on top of the frosting so that the top of the cake is nice and flat.

With an offset spatula, spread the remaining frosting evenly all over the cake, smoothing the edges.

Place chocolate chips along the bottom of the cake for garnish. Serve or cover and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature for an hour before serving.

 

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Exercises to Help Baby Get Strong

Babies are born with weak muscles and bones. In their early years, it is very important that you help them promote their muscular development. According to paediatricians, we as parents need to help our babies build flexibility, coordination, and strength with some age-appropriate routines and activities. This will help them walk sooner and with more confidence.

Healthy muscles and bones are an indicator of overall health. If your baby has good muscular strength and healthy bones, chances are he will also learn to crawl, walk and run about faster!

Once your baby has been weaned off breastfeeding, it is advisable to introduce him to strengthening foods rich in calcium, Vitamin-D and protein. Some of these include chicken, spinach, cheese and fruits.

However, it is not sufficient to just depend on a healthy diet to make your baby stronger; you also need to start some important physical exercises. Yes, even babies as young as two months old need some amount of physical activity to become stronger

 

1. Give Your Baby Tummy Time

This is the most common of all trunk strengthening exercises for babies suggested by paediatricians. Simply put your newborn on his tummy after every feeding. This act builds the core muscles of your baby’s tummy. There are many variations to this, such as:

Place your baby on a blanket so he can also get some floor-time and explore his surroundings

Place your baby on the tummy between both of your knees. This also helps the baby to release trapped gas

 

Place your baby on daddy’s tummy! This is a fun and very useful variation of tummy time that can be done after you’ve breastfed the baby, or in the evening time before bed [Bonus: this also strengthens the emotional bond between the father and baby. We recommend you definitely ask your husband to try this out!]

Tip: Remember that whenever your child is not lying on the back, he is working on increasing his head control and neck strength. So, minimize lying downtime after your child is 2- 3 months old and make sure that your baby is getting exposure to enough physical activity.

2. Help Your Baby Sit-Up

Age: 4 Months (or when a baby is able to support her head)

This is how to do it: Place a blanket on the bed and then place the baby on the blanket. Then, hold the blanket on each side slightly above the head, with your baby in the middle of your arms. Slowly lift the blanket so your baby comes to a sitting position, then lower it back down again. This is a very simple and safe exercise to help your baby gain upper body strength.

 

This little core exercise really helps babies as they start crawling, standing and walking.

Lay your baby down and let him pull himself up and put him back down.

Let your baby lead this exercise as it strengthens his core.

After doing this exercise, a baby gets better at sitting up.

Daily exercise also helps babies sleep better and stay happier all day!

3. Baby Massage Complex Exercises

Age: 0 Months Onwards

Massage is one age-old trick that never fails! The benefits of an oil massage are now well accepted by doctors, and it can definitely help make your baby’s muscles and bones stronger. You can start massaging your baby’s body early – as early as a week or two old. There are a few movements/exercises that you should do as part of baby massage in order to build the baby’s strength:

Hold your baby’s wrists and lift the baby off the massage table (just a few centimetres). This exercise helps the development of the cervical spine

 

Place your baby on the tummy, his knees spread apart but his feet together. Press the baby’s feet with your thumbs. Voila! Your baby will try to push himself forward. This exercise is very useful for leg muscle development

After the massage, keep your palm on the baby’s chest and press lightly. This helps eliminate congestion from the lungs and increases ventilation, both of which are good for overall respiratory strength

Note: Make sure you do NOT use rigorous or high-pressure strokes. Only a gentle massage using skin-friendly baby oil is beneficial for your baby’s improved blood circulation, and in turn, bodily strength. Refer to this guide on baby massage when in doubt.

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Prepare for getting a cat

Having a cat can mean different things to different people. Some want a cat to cuddle and sit on their laps; others are happy to live with a very independent cat which spends most of its time outside and doesn’t want too much human interaction.

What is important is that you try to find a cat that will interact with you if you want it to. All cats are not the same and how each individual cat behaves with you can depend on its inherent personality and early experiences (or lack of experiences), which can make it fearful or confident with people and life in general.

 

The environment in which you keep a cat is also extremely significant – for example if it lives with many other cats which do not get on, then it will be stressed and will react differently than if it was on its own.

While there is no guaranteed way to choose the perfect cat for you and your lifestyle, understanding your expectations as well as what makes cats tick will help you to bring home a cat that should be able to cope with its new environment and be the pet that you want too.

The decision to adopt your first cat is a monumental one, both for you and for your new cat. Whether you are thinking about getting a cat, or have just adopted your first one, this tutorial has been designed to make your relationship with this special cat a lasting one so the cat has found its “forever home”.

 

Here is the list “Things you should do when adopting a cat”

  • Create a Shopping List for Your New Cat

Bringing home a new cat is much like adopting a human baby. However, in the case of a cat, you’ll be shopping for a litter box instead of a changing table.

Before you bring your new cat or kitten home, there are a number of things to collect or buy, so your cat will feel like a family member rather than a visitor.

  • Prepare a Safe Room for Your Cat

A “Safe Room” doesn’t need to be a separate room but could be an empty closet, a corner of your bedroom with a protective screen, or a seldom-used bathroom. The important thing is that your new cat has a place it can call “home,” where it can retreat and rest. It may voluntarily choose to socialize with you and other family members, but for now, let it decide whether to hide or mingle. It may take several days to a week or more, depending on its history, but your patience at this point will yield exponential results in a happier relationship with your cat in later days.

  • Cat – Proof Your Home

You’ve decided where you’re going to go to adopt your new kitty; possibly you’ve already narrowed your selection down to one cat you simply must bring home. You’ve stocked up on essentials from the shopping list, and you’ve prepared kitty’s “safe room.” There’s only one step left before Homecoming Day—cat-proofing your home to save wear and tear on the household as well as the new arrival.

Although it will take a bit of time, cat-proofing your home isn’t rocket science. It only requires your willingness to get down to a cat’s level to spy out hazardous temptations, along with the ability to think like a cat.

 

  • Bring Your New Cat Home

Oh, happy day! You’ve completed all your preparations and the big day has finally arrived for bringing your new kitty home. Although everyone is excited, it’s probably better not to make this a big family event. Your new baby will probably be stressed enough without a bunch of people competing for its attention, especially if you have young children in the home.

  • Take Your Cat for Its First Veterinary Visit

Your new pet’s first veterinary visit is of supreme importance. You’ll want to assure yourself of its good health

  • Know your cat diet

The diet a cat gets early in life will set the pace for its lifelong health and well-being. Your knowledge of cat food ingredients will help ensure not only longevity but the quality of life you want for your new family member.

Although cats descend from desert creatures, fresh water is also essential to them, especially if they eat a dry food diet.

Make sure you read cat food labels to know what you’re feeding your new family member. You should review for weeks and months ahead until you feel secure in your knowledge. Once you learn to read cat food labels it will become a habit for life.

A source of clean, fresh water is also vital to your cat’s well-being. Although cats have descended from desert animals, they still need to be well-hydrated.

  • Get a Litter Box and Take Care of Sleeping Arrangements

Next, to food and water, a litter box is critical for your new cat’s comfort and health. With scrupulous maintenance of your cat’s litter box, you’ll never have to worry about odor or “out-of-box accidents”.

“But the cat goes outdoors,” you say? You’ll want to rethink that decision in one of the later steps.

Another big consideration with your first cat is “where will it sleep?” Will you share your own bed with it, get it his own cozy bed, or a combination of both? Don’t forget, you are establishing habits that will most likely last a lifetime.

 

  • Take Care Of Your Cat’s Scratching Needs

Next to litter box avoidance, undesirable scratching behavior is the top reason for shelter surrenders. Actually, scratching is as necessary to cats as eating and breathing. Cats’ claws are their most essential tools for many reasons.

When you complete this lesson, you’ll have all the tools you’ll need to ensure your cat the scratching, stretching exercise it needs, without sacrificing your hard-earned carpet and furniture.

  • Playing with your cat

Playing with your cat is a wonderful bonding experience. Cats love to play and are experts in inventing their own games. Before you invest in expensive cat toys, experiment with things found around the house. Paper bags are great fun, as are cardboard boxes.

  • Make your Cat a Family Member for Life

As time passes, your bonding with your new cat will become stronger than ever, and you and your family will consider your cat a valued family member rather than a pet.

Congratulations for caring enough about your cat. Today is graduation day and you can officially call yourself an ailurophile, or even a crazy cat lover. You are joining a group of the most wonderful, caring people in the world: those who adore their cat children.

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What is a baby shower party? How to plan a baby shower?

When a baby is on the way, the parents aren’t the only ones that get excited. Odds are that the future grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, and other loved ones will also be eager to welcome the newest member of the family. A baby shower is one of the most traditional ways in which your loved ones come together to express their joy at your pregnancy. It’s a time for friends and family to share time with the expectant parents and to “shower” them with gifts, love, and good wishes before the birth. Read on to discover baby shower planning ideas that will help you create an unforgettable day!

 

What is a baby shower?

A baby shower is basically a party which is thrown to celebrate the impending birth of a new baby. It’s also a way for friends and family to help the new parents get everything they need. After all, babies need tons of stuff, and the list can get quite expensive!

 

When should you have a baby shower?

There’s no hard and fast rule that dictates when you should have a baby shower. Most baby showers are thrown approximately 4 to 6 weeks before the baby is born. That way, guests can have the baby’s gender in mind when choosing gifts and decorations.

Many mothers choose to have their baby shower later in their pregnancy because the risk of miscarriage decreases with each passing week. It also means that you’ll have a clearer picture of the things you’re still missing and that your loved ones could help you with.

 

How to plan a baby shower?

As the host of the baby shower, you’ll have a lot to keep in mind, but if you consider the mom-to-be’s personality and stay organized, planning a baby shower can be stress-free and even enjoyable. Consider theses options below

Location:

  • Home: It’s private and comfortable
  • Restaurant or cafe: All you have to do is book a table, and you’re set
  • Party Venue: Venue staff can help arrange almost everything you’ll need, but you can also personalize the space with decorations
  • Outdoors: If you have a scenic outdoor location nearby, that could be a great options

Theme

One of the first steps in baby shower planning is choosing a theme with many fun and exciting themes and decorations. Themes often reflect the personality of the mom-to-be, while celebrating the new baby.

Guest List and Invitations

The number of guests depends on your budget and the space available at the venue — and, of course, who the mom-to-be would like to have there. Work closely with her to finalize the guest list and the date of the shower.

The guest list for every baby shower is different. Usually, the expectant parents’ close family members and friends are invited. But the planners should keep in mind that mom would prefer to keep some people off the guest list. It’s always a good idea to ask the mother about the guest list before sending out any invitations.

For a long time, baby showers were an all-female affair. However, co-ed baby showers have gained popularity in recent decades. Before, pregnancy and birth were taboo topics that were only meant to be discussed amongst women. But it has become increasingly acceptable – and expected – for dads to be more involved. If you’re planning a baby shower, ask the parents if they’d like an all-female or co-ed baby shower before putting together the guest list.

Baby shower etiquette

Baby shower etiquette used to include a lot of rules, but you’re not expected to follow them if you don’t want to. For example, a single baby shower used to be held, and it was meant only for the first baby. Nowadays, expectant moms can be showered on different occasions if there are different groups who’d like to throw their own celebrations.

 

It’s also become acceptable to have a baby shower for each pregnancy. Of course, gifts won’t usually be as grand for second or third pregnancies. But the expectant parents can still enjoy a fun day surrounded by loved ones!

At the end of the day, the most important thing is for mom — and dad, if it’s a co-ed baby shower — to enjoy the day and to receive lots of love, gifts, and good wishes. After all, the new baby will be here in no time, and a baby shower is a wonderful way to spend some time surrounded by loved ones before the big day is here!

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Benefit Of Cat Clothes

Cat Clothes & How To Choose Them: Fashionable Felines

There’s no doubting the utter cuteness of kittens with mittens, cats with hats, and other adorable images of our furry friends wearing little clothes that were made just for them.

But is it just the cuteness factor that makes cat clothes worth it?

We humans, smooth and hairless as we are, need to wear clothes for protection against elements. Our feline friends, on the other hand, have luxurious coats of fur that seem to invalidate the need for clothes.

It’s important to any cat owner that their pet is safe and comfortable, so read on to learn about how cat clothes affect their wellbeing, and how to choose clothes for your cat.

 

Cat Clothes: Does Your Cat REALLY Need Them?

Cats definitely don’t need clothes as much as we do, but they can still benefit from a warm sweater, shirt or hoodie during the colder months.

This is true even if your home has heating during these seasons, as the morning temperature drop can give your kitty the shivers. You’ll want to give your cat clothing that is thick enough to keep their body heat locked in, yet soft and light enough not to impede their movement or annoy them.

Not all cats are made equal, and the different fur profiles of each cat breed have to be taken into account when choosing cat clothes.

For example, short-haired breeds like the Abyssinian cat, the American/British Shorthair cats, and the Bengal cat, are going to lose more body heat during very cold periods. Long-haired breeds like the Persian, Siamese, and Norwegian Forest cats, on the other hand, might not need clothing unless it’s really cold!

Some cats also have skin conditions that can cause a lot of discomfort. These conditions are most often caused by overgrooming, open wounds, or maybe even allergies. If your cat has a skin condition, it’s very important to cover up their skin so they can’t scratch or groom the affected areas.

Cat clothes are extremely useful for cats with skin conditions, it helps them protect their skin while preventing further harm.

Flea infestations and other parasites can also be stopped with a wardrobe for your kitty, but of course, it shouldn’t be relied on as the solution to the problem!

 

Let’s look on some benefit of cat clothes

Cat Clothes Increase Warmth and Thermal Protection

You might have noticed that cats love warm spaces, whether it’s laptops, your actual lap, refrigerators, or even phone chargers. They might also like being wrapped in blankets when they lie on your bed.

In general, cats like being warm, and this is especially important when the surrounding temperature becomes uncomfortably cold for them.

If you want to gauge how cold your kitty might be feeling, use this simple trick — if you feel cold at any time, chances are your cat is feeling cold too. If you’re wrapping yourself up in clothes and turning up the space heater, make sure your cat gets in on some of that heating action.

Clothing and fur work in similar ways when it comes to keeping a living creature warm. When you wrap yourself in thick clothing, you simulate having thick cat fur, and you feel hotter under your clothes — this additional heat isn’t being generated by your clothes, it’s actually generated by your own internal body heat being trapped by your clothes.

Without the clothes, your body heat would radiate away from your body, leaving you colder.

Putting clothes on a cat enhances the heat-trapping capacity of their fur, and can keep them warm during very cold periods that their fur wouldn’t be able to handle. If you take your cat outside into a snowy winter, you should definitely consider putting clothes on them as well.

 

Cats Can Overheat Easily

Just remember to be careful with how your cat is feeling when they’re wearing clothes, as they might overheat without you noticing, especially if they have thick long fur.

Cat Clothes as a Fashion Statement

Most cat owners think of how adorable their cat’s gonna be when they dress them up in cute little clothes. Perhaps your cat won’t care so much about human social conventions, but there are few things more adorable than your little furry friend in a bowtie, raincoat, or even a Halloween costume.

As long as they don’t mind the fabric pressed against their body, feel free to make your cat a canvas of cuteness. Plus, cat clothes make your kitty look meow-nificent!

 

Cat Clothes Can Help You Bond With Your Cat

Cats can’t get into their own clothes, so dressing them up is a slow, methodical process. Each time you dress your cat provides an opportunity for bonding between owner and pet. This is especially important if you’re a busy pet owner and hardly have time to pay attention to your cat.

When you dress up your cat, they feel you stroking them, petting and touching them, and generally paying attention to them. This is an excellent bonding activity for them and will help strengthen your relationship. While popular culture seems to paint cats as independent and fussy, your cat needs your love and attention just as dogs do!

Cat Clothes Can Boost Positive Emotions

By associating your cat’s clothes with positive feelings of bonding, you can improve your cat’s mood just by dressing them up. They’ll feel calm and less stressed if they feel that familiar warmth and comfortable texture against their bodies.

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DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER TART WITH PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM

Yield: 10-12 SERVINGS

Prep time: 20 MIN

Cook time: 20 MIN

Total time: 30 MIN

A chocolate tart like this Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart With Peanut Butter Whipped Cream is a great wee recipe to have up your sleeve – it is super easy to prepare in advance, and always, always a crowd pleaser. You could leave out the peanut butter and hit it with a big dollop of whipped cream, or just leave it as is, and sprinkle a little salt over the top to have a plain chocolate tart to make it super fancy. The possibilities are endless.

 

INGREDENTS:

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

2 sleeves (290g) graham crackers or similar biscuit

¼ cup (35g) cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

3 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

135g unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:

550g good quality dark chocolate

180g smooth peanut butter

40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ tsp salt

380g heavy cream

FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM:

½ cup (135g) smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp (25g) Granulated Sugar

½ cup (121g) heavy cream

½ tsp vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS:

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Place all the ingredients except for the butter in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the graham crackers resemble crumbs and the mixture is well combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir through the melted butter.

Evenly press the crust into a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Use a glass or measuring cup to help you press it against the sides of the pan. Place the pan onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10-11 minutes, then allow to cool completely.

 

TO MAKE DARK CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:

Place the chocolate, peanut butter, butter and salt into a large heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan, and warm over low heat until just shy of a simmer – you should see movement around the edges of the cream. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter, and cover the bowl with a lid or plate. Leave to sit for 5-6 minutes, then whisk vigorously to combine. The mixture will look like it has split to begin with but keep whisking – it will come together and go glossy.

Pour the chocolate filling into the cooled crust. Place in the fridge for 1½ -2 hours, or until the filling has set completely.

 

TO MAKE PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the peanut butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cream and continue whipping until the mixture reaches medium peaks. Watch carefully to ensure you do not split the cream. Scrape down the bowl if necessary. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a french star tip. Pipe blobs of peanut buttercream over the surface of the tart.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut with a slightly warmed knife. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

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