Monday, October 6, 2014

Out with the old, in with the cold!

 That title is wishful thinking. We might get a cold snap this weekend, but nothing like the northern folks get.  Borrowing lyrics from Bananarama, it was a cruel summer.  I didn't do anything crafty from the end of June, until about 2 weeks ago. My heart was just not in it. 

On June 22nd around 1AM, my little cat, Diva ran out the back door as I was trying to let out my geriatric Lab, Tucker. She ran right past me, and then my Dalmatian-mix, Diamond pounced playfully at her and she disappeared over the fence into the darkness. We searched until 4AM, and only stopped because we were exhausted. I put out a live trap, food, some clothes, and one of her favorite blankets in efforts to catch her, to no avail. I went to our animal services every few days to look for her. We posted large, laminated, color signs around the neighborhood and I posted her on craigslist, petfinder, FB animal groups and any website I could find. I emailed all of my cat rescue contacts and called the SPCA and Humane Society to report her missing. We walked the neighborhood, using our flashlights to peer into bushes and under cars, etc.  We put food on the front porch every night and Bruce bought a trail camera to see if she was coming at night. We discovered we were feeding at least 6 other cats and an occasional opossum, but no Diva. I got a lot of calls of possible sightings in our neighborhood. I checked out every one. I even got a call from a woman telling me that she was probably eaten by a coyote.  Nice, huh?  After 21 trips and being on a first name basis with several of the staff, I decided to stop going to Animal Services. It's a good distance from home and Bruce and I agreed that our street smart, former stray, was probably too smart to be caught in a trap. Not to mention that going there was emotionally exhausting. Seeing all the animals waiting for homes is heartbreaking. I became quite attached to a beautiful, black boy cat, named Roland, who was recovering from an URI.  Bruce later admitted that he was caving in on that one. Roland did get adopted and that made me happy and sad. Here's a picture of Roland.
Not the best shot, as he was in the cage, but you can see what a looker he is.
  Fast forward to September and the good news. We had that trail camera set up for the 3 months. We saw a cat that looked a lot like Diva on the camera, but none of the shots were clear enough to be 100% certain.  I was sure it was her, but Bruce was not. Our front porch light is one has a motion sensor, so every night if it came on while we were watching tv, we'd jump up to see which cat was eating on the porch. One of those times, we saw her! I had to go slowly, and regain her trust, but 2 weeks later, she was back inside again!  And here she is, supervising my new sewing project and my NewFo for September. 

One of Bruce's lifelong friends is going to be a first time father in a few months.  They know it's going to be a little boy, so I pulled this pattern and fabrics out of my stash. 
 I had originally bought this pattern to make for another friend of Bruce's grandson (about 6 years ago), but I didn't know how to applique and got discouraged after I had cut out the pieces. So, now that I know how to machine applique, I felt a little more confident in this getting completed. I got almost all the pieces fused, but then ran out of fusible webbing, so I didn't get to do the clouds and hearts, yet.  My funds are extremely tight right now, so I will have to wait, until I have money to buy more.  I plan on finishing the pieces I have, and then piecing some of the little blocks together until then.  I actually got all 3 airplanes and the 6 stars appliqued down today, but forgot to take pictures.
Here are some of the stars. If you look closely, you can see that I didn't follow the rules of machine applique, that I was taught in class.  Our instructor said to make the stitches smaller as you got to the points of the stars and larger as you went away from them.  I tried it, but ended up ripping it out, because it looked terrible.  I like the uniformity of the stitches my way. 
That was all I got started for September. There were a few other exciting things going on this summer, but I'll put that in a separate post.  For now, I just wanted to link up to the September NewFO challenge over at Cat Patches.

In parting, I just wanted to share a warm and fuzzy shot of my sweet little girl, back where she belongs, next to me on the chair.  That's Tucker in the background.

Thanks for stopping in! ~Amy

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

MAYbe I will.....

 I didn't even realize that I hadn't posted since February.  I have been busy with little projects and some family gatherings.  I have been wanting to link up to the NewFO Party over at Cat Patches, but I keep getting busy with stuff.  Amazingly, I did do quite a bit of sewing this month.

While searching for fabric to make a quilt for one of my nephews, I found a bunch of cute fabrics, that I had to make pillowcases out of.  This one is from Joann Fabric and is called Get Happy Birds (think opening song of the Partridge Family)
.... Annnnnd you're welcome for the earworm.  Ha Ha! 
You have to admit, it's cute fabric.

Bruce was helping with my search and he found this fishing fabric for his pillowcase at Jay's Fabric Center.

 And then I saw this irresistible, cat fabric. It's called Calico Cat, by Michael Miller.  I had to have some, and it also immediately made me think of Barbara, at Cat Patches. She is always so generous with give-aways, and I love reading her posts, so I made her one too.  The Pink cuffed case is hers and the Green is mine (of course).

I also made an adorable one out of this fabric, called Strawberry Bears from Henry Glass & Co., for my Grand-Niece.  I found it at Country Quilts and Bears.

A year ago I bought this fabric, when I visited my friend Stella in Arizona, to cover my ironing board. It's called Lil' Miss Sew & Sew by Dan Morris, and I thought it was perfect, since I pretty much only use it for ironing fabric for sewing. (I am the epitome of wash and wear.)
  I had found a simple tutorial, (so simple, that I should've known how to do it without the tutorial - DUH).  Here's the link to the tutorial I used. Easy peasy!  

This next image is of my  nasty, old, gross ironing board cover.  I was finally motivated, by the cats, to recover it. If you have a cat, or cats, you will be able to relate, and the rest of you will probably will be grossed out. The fact is, that one of my seven, adorable felines happened to relieve themselves of their hairball, and with it, some of their partially digested dinner on the ironing board.  Yuck, Yuck, and Double Yuck. 
TMI?  Sorry.
Probably, but these things happen when you have pets. 

 When I removed the disgusting blue cover, I discovered a pad and another old cover and thin foam pad.  Here's the second cover. 

 Honestly, I was surprised there was so much underneath the outer cover, considering it almost felt as if the cover was sitting directly on the metal board...  (I got this Ironing board from a friend, when I was helping her clean out her mother's home.)  I hand washed the two pads, to reuse, and added a layer of batting, to bulk up the board a little.  And Voila! New Cover! I did spray it down (twice) with Scotch Guard.  I'm hoping that will help it stay pretty a little longer (or at least keep it safe from kitty barf).  I will also be making more of an effort to fold it up, when not in use, from now on. Of course, Oliver had to help hold down the fabric as I was working.

Then, no sooner had I put the new cover on, than Lilly had to test it out. It looks good though, right?  And it is nice and smooth to iron on. 

I finally found the fabrics for my nephew's quilt at Happy Apple Quilts, with help from Bruce and one of the extremely friendly ladies that works there. Here is a partial shot of the flimsy, with Multi, in her best Vanna White impersonation.

 Here's a close up.  I was trying to show that there is a bit of shimmer to the fabrics, but this is the best I could do.  All four fabrics are from the Artisan Spirit shimmer collection by Northcott.

 I found the pattern in Quilty magazine.  It was called "Go Gingham".  It's a beginner level pattern, but with the colors I was given to work with, I thought it turned out well (and masculine patterns are not as plentiful as I thought they would be). Actually, when I first saw it, I thought it resembled some of my favorite flannel shirts. Yep, I'm a real high maintenance kind of girl. You could use any color combination. I'm sure I'll be making more variations in the future.

I also started this Dalmatian cross-stitch, that when finished will be donated to Dalmatian Rescue of Tampa Bay to auction off.

And believe it or not, there were a few other, small projects squeezed in, that I forgot to photograph!  We ended the month with a rare family celebration. My Mom's side of the family doesn't gather too often. This past Saturday was a big day though. 
My Grandma turned 98! 
She is starting to slow down a little, but she still lives in her own home, goes for an afternoon walk every day, and is as sharp as a tack.  Here's Grandma in her Birthday get up. Cute, isn't she? She's very petite (notice the light switch?) and spunky, and Italian (think Estelle Getty  from the Golden Girls, without the sarcasm). She has eye issues, so she rarely takes off her shades. 

She has been a strong influence in my life and I am extremely blessed to still have her around. She was a seamstress/corsetière in the 1930's for Lord & Taylor in New York. Back then you had to have Bras custom fitted and made - there were no mass manufactured bras and corsets. She was the Assistant Head Fitter and even got to work with Eleanor Roosevelt once. She specialized in working with women who had physical abnormalities, such as a mastectomy, etc. Her mother was also a seamstress. My mother..... well....She did make our Halloween costumes as kids, and hem stuff if needed, but she doesn't enjoy sewing like I do.  Grandma still has her Singer sewing machine, in it's huge wooden table. It does have a motor that was added at some point in time, but the big deal is, that when I was a little girl, probably 7 or so, she told me that I could have the machine when I grew up.  I loved to watch her sew. She would give me a needle and thread and let me sew Barbie clothes. She's blind in one eye now, so she doesn't sew anymore, and she often reminds me that the machine is mine, whenever I want it, but I tell her that I'm in no hurry. 

 Whew... that got much longer than I intended..... I hope you had a marvelous May!

Thanks for stopping in! ~Amy

Friday, February 14, 2014

February Flashback

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! 

I hope you are spending the day, or at least part of it with someone special, two-legged or four. 

As the title implies, I will be flashing back to February of last year.  As I was getting ready to post this, I felt a twinge of guilt, because Lilly was watching me from the "window box".  I felt guilty, because I forgot to tell you all that not only is it Valentine's Day, but it's also Lilly's birthday! My sweet Princess Tiger Lilly turns 7 today! I can't believe it's been so long. (not the greatest pic. Blame the cell phone and the sun being behind her.)

So in keeping with the "flashback" theme.  Here's Lilly when we brought her home; she was 6 months old. 

The inspiration for this post was that I promised my friend Stella to send her pictures of my finished quilt, that I made in a class we took together, when I visited her in Phoenix last year. I flew on Valentine's day and stayed through President's Day. It was a fun, fast trip. We always have a great time when we get together. We've been friends since tenth grade and even though we don't get to see each other much, when we get together, it's almost as if no time has passed. She is my dearest, most treasured friend. She has more recently moved to NJ, so I'm excited about the possibility of a trip to visit there and see what kind of adventures we will have.
Stella is one of those fabulous people, who is creative, smart and fun. She is always up to date with stuff and of course, a terrific friend. She is into quilting, x-stitch (she taught me in high school), knitting, photography, travel and food (and more, but those I know for sure). I think she should have her own show, but I might be a little biased. 

 He we are (that's me on the left), at dinner on Friday night. 

Here is my finished quilt. The picture is much darker than the actual quilt. the lighting is bad. The only free wall space in the entire tiny house, happens to be right next to the bed. It measures approximately 44" x 58" We made the whole top in the class and even got to sandwich it. The instructor even taught us how to baste it with spray adhesive. I've never done so much in a 4 hour class.

Here's a close up of the quilting. It was an image I found on Pinterest. I had only tried to free motion quilt once before, so I cheated a little on this. 

I adjusted the size to what I wanted and arranged several on a page, and printed. Then I "traced" the image with my needle.  I didn't connect them, so there were a lot of thread tails to tie and tuck, but I like the way it came out.
Riley was supervising my work. I think he was wondering about those weird flat birds. 
The back. 

I just wanted to show you my thrifty smarts. I bought these 3M Command Strip Clips (I think I found them at Office Depot) to hang my quilt. I planned on using them to hang my design wall, and thought it would be good for photographing the quilts as well. The best part is, unlike the spendy, magnetic quilt hanger I bought, I can move these easily, without leaving holes in the walls. The quilt is still hanging there, and Bruce even admitted he liked having it there. We have nothing on the walls in there, but tons of furniture. And of course, critters. 

We took the class at this fantastic shop, in Mesa, called etc. Scrapbooks, fabric & more. And the name really does say it all.  They have lots of great stuff and a really nice classroom. Here are some of the goodies I got there.

On Monday, we did our own version of a shop hop. There were quite a few quilting stores in the area. I was so jealous! One of our stops was at Zoe's Trunk.

Another stop: 3 Dudes Quilting was wonderful.  They had free coffee and cookies and it just so happened that on that day, they had a free pattern and quick (really quick) tutorial on the pattern. They obviously knew we were coming.

And the final stop was 35th Ave Sew and Vac. They had a surprising amount of fabric and some good bundle deals. 
I found this cute sewing machine fabric, that I bought to recover my ironing board. Of course, it's still sitting in my drawer, waiting me for get to it. Maybe it will be my NewFO this month.....

There was more than quilting during my visit, but I've decided to make a second post, since there are a lot of pictures.

Thanks for stopping in! ~Amy

Saturday, February 1, 2014

January's projects update

Well that first month went by fast! I have been working on the projects I planned to, but didn't get as far on some as I'd hoped. We started out the new year being sick.  Bruce and I both were sick, from the Saturday after Christmas to the first weekend of January.  I used that week of sitting in my recliner, finishing up my mermaid blackwork project. So I started the year with a finish. Here's Marina
  The second week of January, we were feeling better and the forecast was calling for some cold weather. Quite nasty cold for us. People don't realize what a factor the humidity is down here. They call us wimps when we say it's cold. Granted we don't have feet of snow to deal with, but the dampness goes straight to your bones. Anyway, I was worried about my little stray cat, Diva at our shop.  I've been wanting to get her to the vet and tested for months and I decided (and somehow convinced Bruce), that she wasn't going to spend another day outside, especially with the cold coming.  Turns out, we got her on the right day. It got pretty bad the day we "adopted" her. When we got to the office, it had been raining and was windy.  I called for her, not really expecting her to come, but she did. As soon as she got to my feet, I hugged her and tried to stuff her in a carrier. Let's just say she wasn't real keen on the idea. But I didn't let go. As scared and confused as she was, she never hissed, clawed or tried to bite me. I stood there for a minute hugging her, near to tears, begging her to let me take her. Bruce came out and we managed to get her in the carrier. She yowled and meowed, but if I stuck my fingers through the door, she would rub them. The vet visit went smoothly. She was healthy and disease and pest free! And the Dr. shaved her tiny 7.5 lb belly to check if she was spayed. Her left ear is tipped, which is a sign of Trap Neuter Release programs. Isn't she pretty?

 Once home, she spent a few hours in the bathroom, while I readied her "apartment" (a covered dog crate with a nesting box, litter box and food bowls), in the living room.  This method has worked with all the other cats so far, in getting them accustomed to the sites, sounds and smells of our family. At first, all the other cats were hissing at her, but after the first two days, she was the one doing all the hissing. And still is. She now has complete free run of the house and is learning all the routines. The smallest furball in the house and she's got everyone afraid of her. She's living up to her name.

She's still learning to trust Bruce, so here he is, trying to bond with her. 

And another shot of her in the "cat and craft" room. She's settling in.

#1 Arnie Quilt

          Applique -  cat feet, flower centers 
          Finish embroidery - mouse eyes & tails, cat nails
          Assemble top
          Buy backing and batting
          Add eyes and embellishments to cats

There was a lot more to do that I originally realized, but I'm plugging away at it. Usually at night, after dinner, in front of the TV.  I have decided that I want to try to use hot fix crystals for the eyes of the mice. I've never used them before, but I went and bought the tool and some crystals.  Here are some of the mice. Oliver and Riley make excellent lap warmers while I work on projects in my recliner.

 #2 Mom's Pot Cover - I've decided that I need to go make a pattern. I saw Mom last weekend, for her birthday, but we both forgot about it, so next time I go, I will trace it.

#3 Dog Vests   COMPLETE (x3)       

I'm linking up to Cat Patches for the January NewFO Linky party.

#4 Hello Moon 
I'm using this as my NewFO for January.  I made the last four blocks for this free BOM.  I still have to finish embroidering the details on them, but the rules just say you have to START something new!  

The September block, had a dog (more likely a wolf, but I saw a dog), so I cheated and used one of my favorite breeds. I cut the Dalmatian out of some scrap fabric I saved.

  October's block had an adorable little gray cat, and since I too, now have an adorable little gray cat, I kept it as it was.

For November there was a cute little owl. I am pleased with myself for finding the flower fabric in my scraps, that I used for his body. Don't they look like feathers?

 December's Block had a cute little fox. I thought it should have been something more holiday or new year related, but the fox was a good challenge for me. I think he turned out pretty good!

#5 Kitchen Renovations
          Install new door
          Repair walls
          Paint walls
          Prepare floor
          Install new floor tiles
So, not much got done in the kitchen, with being sick, bringing home the new girl, Bruce's new toy (he bought a radio controlled quad copter), and the icky weather, neither one of us has felt very inspired to work on it. We had planned on putting in the door, the day we brought little Diva home, but it got cold fast that day and we ended up waiting until the weekend, which turned out to be a good thing. Instead of a 2-3 hour job, it took us all day and into the night. The removal went fast. We cleaned up the opening. It's really disheartening how they did thing when they built this house. I guess in 1972, they were just throwing stuff together in this neighborhood, to get all the snowbirds to buy their seasonal houses. It explains a lot. Each time we update something or try, we discover some shortcut or cheaply done workmanship.  In the end, we get it fixed and are happy with our work, so I guess that's really what matters.  I guess this is a NewFO too!

Here's the opening after we got the old door out and the edges nice and clean and level. 

 Here's the old "Battleship" door. It's hollow aluminum with jalousie windows.  It did it's job for 41 years. Can't ask for more than that. 

 The new door, ready to be installed.

TA DA!! Yeah, I know, it's not finished (still isn't), but it took us forever to get it to hang properly and close without getting stuck. It's amazing that even when you follow the instructions and have someone handy, like Bruce doing the work, how sometimes stuff just doesn't want to go right. The opening was much larger than we expected, considering it's a standard 32" wide door (that's what came out). We are still trying to figure out what kind of trim we want to put around it, but it's sealed, warm and quiet. So much more so than the old door, that we didn't know what was happening a few nights after we installed it, because we heard a sound from our front windows and were shocked to discover it was raining.  With the old door, we could hear the rain hitting the patio and the difference is amazing. I can't wait until we can do the windows too! Unfortunately, I have to. But this is a nice start.

So, now that I've bored you to sleep, oh wait, that's Oliver. Yes, he fell asleep like this in my lap the other day, and I couldn't resist taking pictures.
I'm hoping to get more work done on my projects from my January list. February is going to be short and we're starting to get busy at work preparing for March events, but I am determined to do my "fun stuff" a little every week.
Thanks for stopping in! ~Amy