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Why Everyone Needs a Maneki Neko (a What?!)

maneki neko

When one of my Facebook pals asked if I ever made a Maneki Neko, my first response was “A what?!”

Since my fear of appearing stupid is nearly as great as my fear of being eaten by a shark, my second response was to hop on Google to find out what the heck he was talking about.

The mystery was solved quite rapidly. Even if we aren’t familiar with the official name of the Maneki Neko, many of us are familiar with the item itself. A Maneki Neko is the cute-as-all-get-out Fortune Cat, which some may refer to as the Smiling Wavy Cat Thing You See Next to Asian Restaurant Cash Registers.

Armed with the knowledge that these cutesy kitties are thought to bring good fortune and luck, I got my first one years ago from one of those dollar stores where everything costs at least $10. I don’t recall the exact price of the cat, but I knew I’d make it back in a jiffy when his good fortune vibes went into action.

While he graced my living room with his battery-operated waving paw for several days, the click-clack noise of the waving paw quickly drove me nuts. He’s been in the backyard ever since, now partially hidden by an overgrown sage bush but still streaming good fortune my way.

Whether it’s in their backyard, front yard or danging above their bed, everyone needs a Maneki Neko. Here’s why.

For Good Fortune

We could all use a dose of good fortune, and one of the most straightforward ways to secure it is to get yourself Maneki Neko. Other nicknames for this captivating critter are the Money Cat, the Welcoming Cat and the Lucky Cat, which means all that jazz can start coming your way.

You can also customize the type of good fortune you’d like to receive, based on the different colors, accessories and waving hand of your Maneki Neko.

Different colors are associated with different benefits:

  • White: Positive future and happiness
  • Red: Love and relationship success
  • Gold: Prosperity and wealth
  • Green: Good health
  • Black: Protection from evil spirits

Different accessories can likewise indicate different things.

A waving left arm is meant beckon customers, while a waving right arm beckons money and fortune. Get a Fortune Cat with both paws raised and you may get so much good luck your head is likely to explode.

My pal’s only request for his custom Maneki Neko is that its main color be white. I then customized the rest with:

  • A left waving hand, since that’s the way I’ve seen most Maneki Neko and I’m a big fan of left hands (as well as left-handed folks). The left to me symbolizes boundless creativity and potential.
  • Money-magnet accessories on the collar that include coins for wealth and flowers for growth and abundance.
  • A belly button, just because belly buttons are fun.

White was requested, while red, gold and black are the colors that called to me for the accents. My pal’s personal Maneki Neko is now equipped to bring on the prosperity and love while warding off the evil. Sounds good to me.

maneki neko

For Sharing a Good Story 

Legends rock, and the Maneki Neko has several that explain how the Fortune Cat came to be. One of the most interesting involves a geisha who absolutely adored her pet cat. Her cat followed her around, made sweet purring noises, and actually tugged at her kimono when it wanted attention.

While the kimono-tugging would be cute for some, the owner of the brothel took the tugging as a sign that the cat was possessed. So he grabbed a sword and sliced off the kitty’s head.

The cat’s head went flying off into the distance – landing on a snake that was about to strike and kill the geisha. The catapulting cat head, of course, killed the snake and the geisha was saved. Since she was still distressed about the loss of her beloved cat, one of her customers made her statue of the cat to cheer her up.

The Maneki Neko was born.

Pass along this legend and you get multiple layers of benefits. You get the benefit of sharpening your storytelling skills. The benefit of picking up a bedtime tale you can tell to your kids. And the benefit of keeping such fantastic folklore alive.

For Making a Quick Buck 

While the Maneki Neko is designed to bring good fortune and money, the windfall may not happen overnight. In the meantime, you can easily make a quick buck from all your family members and friends.

Simply point at your Fortune Cat and say:

“I’ll bet you $5 you can’t tell me the official name of this wavy cat thing.”

Boom. You’re now $5 richer.

Keep it up long enough and you’ll soon be able to afford anything and everything from those dollar stores that charge at least $10 or more per item.

Enjoy!

Read more cool stuff about the Maneki Neko on the Catster website.

Get a personalized Fortune Cat you can gleefully gaze at daily at the rynski etsy shop.

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38 Things You Can Do with the Rynski Dragon Metal Divider Thing

It’s new. It’s hot. And it’s ready for action. That leaves just one question:

What the heck is it?

The working title for this new work of rynski art is the “Rynski Decorative Metal Privacy Divider Thing.” Lame name, I know. I’m in the market for a snappier name if anyone has ideas!

The item is a 16-guage, heavy duty steel plate featuring fabulous cut-outs to create the shape of a dragon skeleton. The plate stands up on its own, thanks to feet folded directly out of the metal, making it a solid, no-nonsense piece of work.

The steel is topped off with weather-resistant paint designed to withstand outdoor elements as well as indoor dust. Metal divider measures 34 inches long x 28 inches high x about 10 inches deep (with feet sticking out about 4 inches or so on either side).

One of the best things about the thing is its extreme versatility. It can be used for privacy, as an accent screen, as yard and garden décor, as a fireplace screen, as a room divider, as a door or hallway blocker, as a decorative panel, or even as a gate ornament or wall hanging.

Check out the list of 38 things you can do with the thing for a better idea of what I mean.

Block your dog from your outdoor welding area.

Block your robotic vacuum from entering unwanted territory.

Block cats from slithering into strange spaces.

Block people, pets and things from crawling in and out of windows.

Stop neighbors from peeking in your bedroom.

Stop ne’er do wells from peeking in your yard.

Freak out your neighbors at night.

Freak out your neighbors during the day.

Add ambiance to parties.

Hide unsightly corners crammed with crap.

Hide ugly trash cans in your office.

Hide beautiful trash cans on your patio.

Block the fridge when you’re on a diet. 

Block flames when used as a fireplace screen (protective perforated metal backing and fire-proofing available upon request).

Block bats from entering the belfry (again, with a metal or screen backing option).

Block small children from your outdoor gazebo (which is really a glorified dog house).

Hide those horrible utility boxes in your yard.

Hide the godawful litter box.

Keep kids away from your grill.

Replace your boring headboard.

Replace standard office cubicle dividers.

Add pizzazz to an open floor plan.

Add intrigue to your coffee table.

Add a jazzy touch to a traditional mirror (with the rynski metal divider placed in front of it).

Grace your garden entrance.

Grace your patio or porch.

Grace your coolest pal with the coolest gift.

See how far you can stick your arm through the holes.

See if you can stick your head through (kidding!).

See if you can snap an artsy selfie of your face behind the open eye area.

Stop dogs from peeing on your favorite plants.

Stop dogs from scratching up your doors or walls.

Stop kids from running down the hallway.

Create privacy for your desk area.

Create a stylish vibe in your foyer.

Create conversation no matter where you put it.

Wonder if you should have ordered it in bronze with blue patina.

Wonder how you ever lived without one.

Get yours now at the rynski etsy shop!

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How to Turn an Old Window into New Stained Glass Yard Art

stained glass old window

Old windows are always alluring. Not only do they have an innate charm, but they can stir up fond memories of living in a farmhouse somewhere in Kansas – even if you’ve never set foot in Kansas in your life.

They also make for an incredible art project that can add a pop of color and coolness to any home or yard. Mine ended up in my yard just because I really have no more room in my home. But the stained glass project can look equally as dazzling propped in front of a kitchen window as it can hanging on the side of a backyard archway.

What You Need

  • Old window
  • Sandpaper and scraper
  • Painter’s tape (invest in the blue one already)
  • Glass cleaner and degreaser
  • Rags
  • Patience
  • Paint for window frame
  • Paint for window glass
  • Hanging hardware
old window for stained glass project

What You Do

Your first step is to somehow obtain an old window. Prying one off a farmhouse in Kansas is always an option, although you’ll probably do better scouring shops that sell used building materials. Betcha Tucson’s Gersons has a few.

I lucked out by inheriting my old window from the Tucson Citizen prop room when the newspaper folded in 2009. Think they used to put in the background to make photos look like they were taken near a farmhouse in Kansas.

Putting the old window in the garage where you can ignore it for at least nine years is an optional step. I finally dug out my old window for good during the last garage cleaning spree when I tidied up so well I had nowhere left to hide it.

Window Preparation

  • Sand and scrape the crappy old paint off the window frame.
  • Clean the glass panes with cleaner and degreaser.
  • Put painter’s tape around the front and back perimeters of every single pane.
  • Tape pieces of paper over the center areas of the glass if using spray paint for the frame.

Window Painting

  • Spray the pane wildly with paint.
  • Peel off painter’s tape before frame paint fully dries.
  • Make sure panes are free of smudges.
  • Use glass paint on the panes.
  • Add hanging hardware.
  • Hang in backyard.
  • Make your boyfriend admire it at least three times on the first day and regularly thereafter.

 Additional Stained Glass Window Project Tips

Picking the frame paint: Select a paint with a hammered finished to help hide the multiple imperfections and wood chunk chinks old windows are known for. If you want to retain that beat-up look, keep it alive by using contrasting paint in the frame’s chinks, dents and dings.

  • Rust-oleum is my spray paint of choice. I used flat black mixed with hammered bronze for the window frame.

Picking the glass paint: I’m a big fan of Pebeo Vitrail paint, particularly the transparent paints for stained glass effects. Use a combination of at least three different colors in the same color family to add interest to the project.

  • All the Vitrail colors blow my mind. Well, except maybe the brown. My old window project mingled Turquoise, Apple Green and Green Gold.

Applying the glass paint: Using a paint brush with glass paints can be tedious and leave brush marks. I prefer to use an eyedropper to blob or draw thick lines with the glass paint, and then mush with a sponge to cover all areas of the glass.

Hanging your stained glass project: Propping it against a wall or low on the ground doesn’t do justice to what you’ve just created. Hang or prop it somewhere at least eye-level where sun can shine through to reveal it’s true beauty.

Also opt for heavy-duty hardware. Those old windows are heavy!

My old window came with two eye-hooks embedded in the top corners of the frame and a quadrupled-up piece of picture wire looped through them. It’s hanging on a metal archway where the sun filters through in late morning, so my boyfriend can admire it every single day.

Hope your old window project comes out just as dandy!

old window stained glass project

Love the rynski stained glass window project? Just wait until you see what she does with sheet metal.

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How to Justify the Expense of a Robot Vacuum

robot vacuum and dogs

Robot vacuums have come a long way since the primitive round things that swirled around aimlessly and got stuck on even the thinnest fiber of carpet. Today’s models have a flat side for more effective pickups, along with a systematic pattern of vacuuming that leaves nothing in their wake. The best of them can conquer everything from multiple throw rugs to wads of dog hair with Cheerios and small wood chips in between.

The only problem is the high cost of a really good one, which can make you feel like you’re spending your hard-earned cash on a frivolous or needless thing. You’re not. A high-quality robot vacuum is definitely worth the investment, saving you tons of money in the long run.

Automatic $300 Savings

Your first order of business is to get a rocking deal. Research robot vacuums, finding one that costs more than you’d pay for even a new bicycle or pair of glasses. A few robot vacs in the $1,000 range qualify. Your next step is to review the features, decide which you need, and then find a $700 robot vacuum that does the same kind of stuff.

  • Money Saved: $300 right off the bat

Time Spent with Traditional Vacuum

Now tally up the time spent with your traditional vacuum on a regular basis. If you’re like most, you spend hours you don’t even realize with that archaic thing. First there’s the hassle of digging it out of the closet. This is followed by the tedious task of unwinding the cord and then moving piles of stuff away from any given outlet to plug it in.

Since you have a penchant for shag carpeting, dragging the thing across the living room always leaves your beau with back pain. Then there’s the bin emptying, the filter cleaning, and the three hours spent dousing your nostrils in essential oil to combat the musky dog smell the vacuum always spews anyway.

Your time tally can easily come to more than four hours a week with a traditional vacuum. Say you charged something like $10 per hour for your vacuum time, that’s $40 a week on labor alone, not to mention pain and suffering. Multiply the $40 of weekly labor by 52 weeks in the year, and you’re looking at $2,080.

  • Money Saved: $2,080 in annual vacuum-related labor

Pain and Suffering from Traditional Vacuum

The physical, mental and emotional anguish of using a traditional vacuum can be high, especially when you know there are high-tech robot vacs on the market. Pain and suffering easily weighs in at something like $1,500 a year. (Triple this calculation if you have to meddle with vacuum bags.)

  • Money Saved: $1,500 in annual vacuum-related pain and suffering

 Vet Bills for Dog Anxiety

You’re not the only one who suffers with the old-school vacuum. Think of the poor dogs. Every time they see you heading to the closet to unleash the mean old vacuum, they bolt in abject terror. Not only are they scared of the tall monster thing, but they suffer from a breach of trust as they see their beloved master is behind it.

It can take some mighty calming down, and maybe even a few vet visits, to get your pooches back to normal after repeated exposure to the old-school vacuum monster.

  • Money Saved: $400 per year for dog anxiety treatments

Bottom Line

While there are a few more categories you can certainly include, such as the enjoyment of a new family member that adds $0 to your grocery bill, you may be already convinced that a robot vacuum is definitely worth its salt.

Ours is a Neato Botvac Connected we lovingly named Julio. He doesn’t stink. He vacuums more thoroughly than his traditional counterpart. His back never hurts after cleaning shag carpet. And he gets along fabulously with the dogs. Not only that, but we’re saving at least $4,280 per year by adding him to our household. What a dandy savings, indeed!

robot vacuum and dog
Robot vacuum Julio and dog Elmo are becoming fast friends (as long as Julio doesn’t suck up Elmo’s treats).
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The Four Agreements: What Happens when They Go Wrong (Part 2)

four agreements metal sign

There is no law that makes people follow the four agreements. There doesn’t need to be. The personal anguish we feel when we decide to ignore these dandy guidelines for living is typically penalty enough.

As a refresher, The Four Agreements are outlined in a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. And those agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Never take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

We already looked at what happens when the first two agreement go wrong in a previous post. Now it’s time to tackle the second set. Ready?

don't make assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

Yeah, we know. Making assumptions makes an ASS of U and Me. But some of us do it anyway. And although the pithy little phrase is amusing, the outcome is usually not. An assumption is filling in the blanks, or making up a truth when we’re not sure what the actual truth may be.

Making assumptions is along the same lines as having expectations. When we assume or expect something will go a certain way, and then it doesn’t, we end up annoyed, enraged, or downright devastated. One of my favorite sayings reminds us: Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Example of Third Agreement Gone Wrong

An organization asked if I’d like to cover and event to write up a story for their publication. Heck yes, said I, assuming the daylong assignment would give me a hefty day’s pay. The event was, after all, three hours long, involved a three-hour round-trip drive, involved taking tons of notes and spending another three hours writing up an article in all its detailed glory.

Nine hours of work should bring in a pretty good check, thought I, something like $500 with gas money and other travel expenses. Man, I could even cut back on other work for the rest of the week, perhaps take an extra day off or buy a new pair of boots!

I submitted the article with glee. They sent me a check for $100.

The work was done and the pay was non-negotiable. Had I asked about the final rate, instead of assuming it was what I wanted it to be, the story would have had an entirely different outcome. For starters, I wouldn’t have accepted the gig to write it.

fourth agreement do your best

Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Although this agreement may look pretty simple at a glance, it can actually be one of the tougher ones. That’s because it’s easy to make excuses to skip it.

We can pretend any of our half-baked efforts are the best we can do at any given time, even when we know in our souls that’s not true. We also tend to rush through things we find menial or annoying just to get them done.

Doing a crummy job on any task is going to leave you feeling crummy yourself. Trust me. Whether you’re performing brain surgery or washing a fork, always doing your best will always be worth it. This reminds me of another spot-on saying: How you do anything is how you do everything.

Example of Fourth Agreement Gone Wrong

Alas, the example of the fourth agreement gone wrong contains yet another work incident. You’d think all I do is sit around and work.

In any event, this situation arose in a past job where I was tasked with putting labels and stamps on Christmas cards to send out to the hundred or so clients.

“What crap,” I thought, “a waste of my skills. A blind monkey could do this.” I then grumbled along, slapping a label here, pasting a stamp there, and dribbling coffee here, there and everywhere in my haste to finish this seemingly crappy task as quickly as possible.

When I was done, the pile of cards looked horrible. The blind monkey who could have done the task could have certainly done it better.

Labels and stamps were all crooked and smudged. Envelope corners were bent and speckled with coffee. This outcome was not my best. It was probably one of my worst. My boss wasn’t happy. I felt rotten, mainly because my haughty attitude and actions ended up disappointing one of the best bosses I ever did have.

Even though the task appeared to be a rather minor one, it needed to be done precisely as it reflected on the entire image of the company sending the cards. Yes, many of the cards needed to be redone, although I truly did my best the second time around.

Following the four agreements cannot only save you time and heartache, but it can likewise help ensure you don’t drive 300 miles for measly pay, disappoint your favorite boss, or end up losing your job to a blind monkey who can do your work better than you do.

Want to keep the four agreements top of mind? Check out Four Agreement art.

four agreements art

 

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