Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's Feline Art!

I learned something wonderful from Goldie and Banshee today, two great cats who live in the woods in Canada. When Fuzzy puts his ears back and tears up a cardboard box, he's not being naughty or displaying displaced aggression...no...he's using it as a muse for his creative impulses! Here's the artist in the process of creating. That's a box full of wonderful goodies from my fellow quilter and kitty lover Betsy. I still need to send her a thank you note (aargh) which is why i left the box out...and now almost every evening Fuzzy works at sculpting it. Here's what his sculpture currently looks like:

Then there are the low cardboard trays that cases of cat food come on. Louie loves sitting on them, carefully flattening the rims down and then sculpting the edges. Just like Goldie, Shade, and Banshee's mom, i'm not thrilled about constantly having to sweep up the shreds of cardboard they remove, one little feline mouthful at a time. Here's Louie's latest creation in a favorite warm spot next to the refrigerator, being used by Sylvie. It's so nice to know that my cats are being artistic, not destructive...and apparently they have a lot of company out there!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Warm Bedtime Surprise

Several of my fellow cat bloggers have been posting pictures of their kitties lounging in the sun, waiting for Spring to come, or from previous Springs and Summers. I'm ready for some warm sunshine, too! (Just heard the weather forecast...frozen rain and snow tomorrow!)

Last night i got the next best thing, though. The boy cats had spent the evening as they often do, alternately getting up in my lap while i'm at the computer, snoozing and snuggling for a while, and then hopping down. It was pretty late, and all the cats were in their usual places, sound asleep...Sylvie on her chair in the kitchen, Louie on the couch, Gingy in a box in my study....where was Fuzzy? I tiptoed into the bedroom, and not only was he in bed, he had tucked himself in under the covers! He never sleeps under the covers, either when i'm in bed or when he's by himself. But last night he pushed the covers down and curled up under them...with his head on my pillow! Now that was a nice warm and snuggly bed for me to crawl into.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My First Quilt

Kelly Ann, who owns the LQS (local quilt shop) just posted the other day about her first quilt and asked about other people's first quilts. I made mine somewhere between 1980 and 1982...i thought i had made it earlier, but the book (about which more a little bit later) that i used has a 1980 copyright so it can't be!

I've been interested in quilts for a long time. I remember as an undergrad in college doodling quilt designs, even though i knew nothing about how to make a quilt, although i did know how to sew...took sewing in home ec in junior high school and loved it although i wasn't thrilled with the projects we did in that class. My sister had fun in home ec, too, so we managed to talk our parents into getting us a nice soft green Singer in a cabinet...we ponied up something like $15 towards the purchase price and it was my father the engineer who helped set up the machine and figure out how to use it.

When i was a first-year grad student, the mother of my then-boyfriend found a sewing machine for me for $20 from an antiques barn in Massachusetts. It was a 1927 Singer Model 66 in a cabinet that had been painted battleship grey with a little flower decoupaged onto the drawer. A full-size, solid metal, old Singer that only did straight stitch (it didn't even do back stitching) but what a lovely stitch it did.

I made a banner for my boyfriend's rock 'n' roll band (kinda like an art quilt with embellishment and everything but not quilted) and clothing...i really wanted to make a quilt but was daunted by how huge and expensive a project it seemed. You'd have to buy ALL this material and it would take SO LONG to complete it.

And then around 1980 i picked up a book on machine quilting by Robbie and Tony Fanning. And they had in there a quilt for a busy person to make...out of bed sheets! I combined and modified two of their project ideas (a duvet cover and the busy person's quilt) into a quilt whose front was one large piece of upholstery fabric and whose back was a blue sheet, purchased, i seem to recall, from the Bradlee's out on the highway. Anyone who's serious about quilting now-a-days realizes i committed two "sins"...upholstery fabric is very heavy and sheets are very tightly woven and hard to needle through. The third sin was that i used a fairly thick batting...didn't i want the quilt to be fluffy? Mostly following directions in the book, i wrapped the sheet around to the front, forming the binding (and actually forming a border, because the upholstery fabric was a little too narrow to top a double bed).

Then i basted the whole thing (i can't remember how i did it...maybe with safety pins? as soon became evident, i didn't baste it closely enough) and carefully rolled it, using my bicycle clips to hold the roll together...and set about machine quilting it. I got one vertical line done. That was o.k. although it felt like i'd been wrestling with an alligator. I started the next vertical line and the quilting bogged down completely...i was getting this huge bow wave of unsecured fabric and batting in front of the presser foot and ripples and puckers behind it! Aaarrgh! I ripped the stitches out, tried it again...broke the needle.

So i decided i'd better tie it instead! I used black acrylic yarn, and followed the print. I tied the ties really well. And voila, a quilt! (I put it on the bed tonight to take a picture and of course Fuzzy had to come in from the other room to try it out...i believe that's the paw wash of approval he's giving there.)

It is very heavy, and quite warm, and i used it continuously for two or three years until i made a down comforter from a kit, and after that, it moved to cover the guest bed.

Now, some 25 plus years later (?!?) it mostly resides in my linen closet, but has held up well to having been used, machine washed, etc. Here's a closeup of the quilt and the book that started it all.

And here's a little video that shows why it's a good idea to tie your ties really tight!
video

What Breed of Dog Are You?

I know, pretty funny question from someone who's most comfortable in the company of cats, but this little quiz is making its way around the internet, and is a lot of fun (especially because i ended up as my most favorite breed of dog).
What dog breed are you? I'm a Golden Retriever! Find out at Dogster.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

This message is a little bit late because it was a busy weekend, but Louie and Fuzzy would like to share the love with all their friends. (Meanwhile, Sylvie is nursing another injury to her tail, courtesty of Gingy. I would post a picture to show you but Sylvie is barely letting me touch it to rinse it with chlorhexidine.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Telecommuting Friday

Fuzzy snuggles while i try to type.

Sylvie keeps on eye on the birds and squirrels from the living room window perch.

Gingy achieves a little bit of that fruitbat look with the sun shining through her ears and then settles elegantly.

Louie does "the meatloaf."

Awards

In the world of blogging, there are these nice awards that bloggers award to each other. We got our very first award from Cliff and Olivia, two lovely kitties living with their humans in an apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark. It's called the Proximity award and comes with this graphic: This award also comes with a quote:


This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and
relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to
find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement.
Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships
are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award
to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written
text into the body of their award.

So according to this, i have to pass the award on to eight other bloggers. Cliff and Olivia very sensibly said that "most of our friends already got ... them. So we give them away regardless of whether the recipients have already got one. One can always use another award." And they also said that one could/should give it to eight more bloggers or just enjoy it. I like that...takes some of the stress off!

On the same day, the adorable Milo and little brother Alfie also gave us this wonderful "Lovely Friends" award. Isn't it appropriate for Valentine's Day?! And here's the text that came with this award (i think Milo and Alfie added the last sentence themselves...they are very clever and sensible kitties):
"LOVE YA” award winner… These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind
bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award - or if most friends have it, you can just enjoy it for yourself!

And then just yesterday, two of our most favorite kitties, Siena a stunningly beautiful Norwegian Forest Cat and her little sister Chilli a feisty multicolored beautiful kitten, gave us this itty-bitty award. Some of the pictures on their site of them cuddling together are just amazing, they are so sweet. It was their mom who helped me figure out how to post all these awards. The award Siena and Chilli gave has no strings attached, but it's so nice, it would be great to pass along to some friends.

Thank you all, that was very nice and i will gladly pass some of these awards forward!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day cards

I needed to make a bunch of cards for friends overseas who never got Christmas or Chanukah cards from me this year...*sigh* i spent a long time making the cards and never got them addressed and sent on time! I got my inspiration for the color scheme from my friend Kenna's labels. She makes THE most wonderful traditional cookies and brings them to our Farmer's Market during the season. She even has a web site now http://kennascookies.com/ so you too can partake of her goodies (if you live in the U.S., she can send them to you by Priority Mail). *le drool* Anyhow, she has very pretty tags with all her info on them that she attaches to clear cellophane bags of her cookies with a pretty pink ribbon. It's a nice quality ribbon so i've been saving them...and ended up using the ribbon and Kenna's color scheme in my cards.
Here's her tags:
Here's a card using one of her ribbons: After i ran out of Kenna's ribbons (one for each week of the Farmer's Market?!?), i kept the color scheme and used some other pink grosgrain ribbon i'd bought on sale some time ago: So this was sort of another "waste not want not" project. Now...all i have to do is get these addressed and into the mail!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Spring is finally in the air

Last week the weather got very cold again after the taste of warm weather on the weekend. I think it was on Thursday as i was leaving for work (at 5:40 a.m.) that i noticed that i was hearing birds singing again! Some bluebirds were twittering somewhere, robins and bluejays were calling, and the mourning doves were cooing, even though the ground was still frozen hard. And of course i noticed that there was actually a tiny amount of light in the sky at that hour.

By Saturday the temperature climbed to the 60s. Lovely! It was the first Saturday of the month, which meant it was my Saturday to volunteer at the Audubon Sanctuary Book Shop. The book shop is in what was probably part of the kitchen of Woodend when it was a mansion (the house and 40 acres were bequeathed to the Audubon Naturalist Society of the MidAtlantic States in 1968.) The grounds are still mostly woods, with a little pond and wetlands area, and nice self-guided walking trails. The neighborhood now has grown up around it, so it really is a little island of nature in the suburbs. It's just a short distance to the Beltway but it's also quite near Rock Creek Park.) It was a relatively quiet day. I did get to help a family find a couple of books about fun things to do in the area in terms of hikes and canoe trips.

As i was getting ready to leave, a staff member came back inside to say a deer was eating at the bird feeder. She wasn't kidding...the deer was standing under the feeder, licking the feed out of it!! It was a tube-type feeder that's supposed to be squirrel proof hanging from a pole...if a squirrel manages to get on the feeder, the tube slides shut and the squirrels can't get at the feed. It might have been squirrel proof, but it wasn't deer proof...it was at exactly the right height for the doe to reach by extending her neck and tipping her head back a little bit, and she licked and licked, getting her tongue into the feeder opening and eating the seed! Then she grazed for a little while on the seed on the ground. Just as i got my cellphone out to try to take a picture, she slowly walked away across the driveway and into the scrubby woods next to the parking lot.

I walked to my car, and realized that the crunching noises i heard were deer walking around in the underbrush. It took a moment to see them...their brown grey winter coats blend in very well with the brown grey woods!...and then i realized i was looking at two partially grown fawns (probably born in the fall) and three does and they were walking around in the woods, nibbling on brambles. Then i saw two more does! The whole group quietly drifted out onto the far end of the parking lot, next to the shed where we store the birdfeed that we sell...i'm sure they were checking to see if anyone might have spilled some bird feed there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A gift bag, a card, and a quilt block

My friend April's birthday was this week, so i made her this card. I used one of the texture plates in my SureShot on a piece of double sided paper...like the results! (Stampin' Up! has its own texture plates in the new Spring/Summer 2009 catalogue...i suppose i'll end up getting them!) The white is one side and the red is the other. I also made a gift bag to hold her present. The pattern was in one of Stampin' Up!s magazines, but the instructions were minimal and incomplete...the bag came out looking o.k. but it was a bit of a puzzle figuring out what to do with various flaps on the bottom.

This is the February exchange block. A sort of basket of flowers block, probably best seen set on point.

And guess who won the February blocks?! I laid them out on the bed tonight to photograph them, so of course Fuzzy immediately had to hop up right into the exact middle!

I don't have a design wall so i lay quilts out on my bed...you can see there are certain drawbacks to that!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weird weather

Last week we had snow early in the week...and by the weekend, the temperature reached 62 degrees! Almost all the snow melted, and the top inch or two of soil in my backyard thawed, but what was underneath stayed frozen, so the mud kind of slipped around on top. I took my compost bucket out (well past time...the clouds of fruitflies were escaping from it into the house) and shlipped and shlopped over to the compost heap. I had to paddle my (waterproof) shoes in the puddle of melted snow on the patio to try and wash all the mud off before i came inside.
First here's Fuzzy enjoying a warm telecommuting snuggle on Friday:

Then there's my Christmas cactus blooming...this is the younger of my two plants, must be about 20 years old now, i got it because i love this fuchsia color even better than the original red blooms.
On sunny Sunday, Sylvie napped and watched birds in the hammock-like kitty perch in the study. Fuzzy used to like this perch, too, but he has trouble leaping up there anymore, plus he was in it when the plastic frame cracked and i think he's been leery of it ever since, even though i carefully repaired it.
Sylvie and Gingy took turns sitting on top of the stepstool i conveniently placed in front of the open kitchen door for them...it was too nice a day to deny them the pleasure of sniffing the breeze and hearing the birds unfiltered by a closed door.
The warm weather was just a tease...we had a sprinkling of snow again yesterday (Tuesday), today it barely got up to freezing, and at the moment it's 18 degrees and heading downwards.