Friday, December 29, 2017

IKEA hack: Cat-safe vase 3.0

One of the first things we had to do after we got our two rambunctious kitties in 2015 was figure out a way to protect our flowers from them. It didn't take us long to figure out that it wasn't enough for the vase to be stable enough to keep the cats from knocking it over; it also had to physically block off their access to the flowers, since anything they could reach would get pulled out and turned into a cat toy/snack. Even if we limited ourselves strictly to cat-safe flowers that wouldn't hurt the kitties if they chose to chew on them, it would kind of defeat the purpose of displaying flowers to make the kitchen look nice if they instead ended up scattered all over the floor.

Our first attempt at a cat-safe vase was a glass canning jar inverted over top of a smaller jar. This experiment showed us that a fully enclosed container wouldn't really work, because water condensed all over the inside and made it nearly impossible to see the flowers underneath. We needed something with a bit of ventilation to allow the flowers to breathe.

Our next attempt, our cat-safe vase 1.0, was a repurposed glass candle chimney from our local thrift shop. We just inverted it over top of a small glass of wildflowers, keeping them out of reach of curious paws while still allowing us to see them (sort of). This arrangement wasn't ideal, since it severely limited the size of the flower bouquet that would fit underneath, but it worked reasonably well for about a year.

Then, after what seemed like a fairly minor tap against a candlestick, the glass shade completely broke. We couldn't find another, so Brian came up with a DIY cat-safe vase using a plain glass vase and a wooden stand with holes that allowed air to circulate from below. This, once again, worked tolerably well, but it still wasn't ideal. For one thing, having the vase inverted over the top tended to cramp the flower arrangements inside, squashing any artistically draped leaves or blossoms against the side of the glass. It was tricky to load and unload it properly, getting the glass centered in exactly the right spot so the vase could fit over top without crushing the flowers. And although it theoretically allowed for some air movement, the inside of the vase still had a tendency to mist up—and after a bunch of flowers had been in there for a week or so, mold would start to form along their foliage. This required us to change the flowers quite a bit more often than we had to when we were using a simple, open vase.

Then, last week, we accompanied Brian's sister's family on a trip to the Indianapolis IKEA and spotted this nifty SINNESRO lantern. It's meant to keep a candle and protected from the wind outdoors, but it occurred to me that it could just as easily protect a small vase of flowers from our inquisitive felines. And since it was designed to provide enough air to keep a candle flame burning, we figured it ought to do a reasonably good job of allowing air to circulate around our flowers. At any rate, for eight bucks, we thought it was worth a try. Even if it didn't work, we could still use the lantern for its intended purpose, either indoors or out on our patio.

As soon as we got home from Indiana, we set up the new the lantern on our kitchen table. Since there are no flowers blooming at this time of year, we just put a little sprig of evergreens in a cup and tucked it inside as a proof of concept.

Right away, it was clear that this lantern had a couple of advantages over the previous cat-safe vase. For one, it was much easier to load and unload, since you could tuck the glass of flowers right inside the glass enclosure instead of having to carefully lower the vase down over top of it. It was also a lot more polished-looking than our makeshift vase with its wooden stand. (Brian had sanded the piece down a little bit to smooth it out and covered over the screws with wood putty, but it was still pretty obvious that it had been cobbled together from plywood scraps.)

So far, the new lantern-vase shows no tendency to fog up inside, but in this extra-cold, dry weather, we can't necessarily read too much into that. We'll have to give it a few days to see whether the greenery inside stays clean and free of mildew, but for now, I'm liking this arrangement very much. And we still have our old cat-safe vase 2.0 available if we decide we want to display some flowers in another location.

So for anyone out there who is looking for a way to keep flowers and cats in the same house, I'd say this ultra-simple IKEA hack is the easiest way to make it work. If you don't happen to have an IKEA store in your neck of the woods, pretty much any candle lantern intended for outdoor use should do just as well, though you might have to pay a bit more for it. A quick online search just turned up several options priced around $12 at stores like Pier 1 and Quick Candles; you can almost surely find something to fit both your taste and your budget.

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