Click photos to enlarge them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Salt and Pepper Shaker Tote Bag

My foster-mom friend, Lisa, asked me if I'd make her mom a tote bag for Christmas.  Mom collects salt and pepper shakers, so she and Lisa go to all the local antique shops on a regular basis.  Lisa ends up holding all the shakers while they shop, so could I make a tote bag with lots of inside pockets.  I questioned her about the legalities of putting unpaid-for merchandise in a bag while they shopped.  She said it wasn't a problem at all.  All the shop owners know them very well.  

I drafted out a design with two rows of pockets on each side of the bag.  It's 14" wide, 15" tall, and 6" deep.  The bag lining and all the pockets have iron-on fleece to cushion the fragile shakers. I also included four simple bags made from fleece leftovers in case Mom needs to protect something not in the pockets.  An open sleeve holds a piece of cardboard for the bottom and can be changed if it gets bent.  I haven't heard yet how Mom likes her bag, but it's probably the only one like it she got this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Day Party

We had a smaller gathering than usual for Christmas.  With the uncertain weather, the out-of-town people elected to stay closer to home. 

 This is Adelyn, my great-niece.  She's my youngest sister, Karen's, son's daughter.  She had a great time playing in the kitten room and we all had a great time watching her play.

Cane is the gray and white kitten in front, then Evan, the tabby, then Reed in the back.
 Here's Adelyn with her uncle Zach, my nephew.  We didn't get that poker game in, so I didn't get to show Zach who's the poker queen.

I found these rocking horses at Target and couldn't resist getting one for Adelyn.  It was a big hit.

Isn't she beautiful?  And so good, too.  The family didn't play games like we usually do, we just all watched Adelyn play.  She was so entertaining.

Ice is Gone, Pain is Not

It's been a week and a half since I fell.  X-rays showed my tail bone wasn't broken, but I understand from people who've been there, that I might have been better off if I HAD broken something.  Bruising can be worse than a break.  Advil wasn't doing it, so my doctor gave me a stronger anti-inflammatory pill that didn't do much either.  I couldn't sit, bend over, stoop, do stairs, etc. without pain.  Made scooping litter boxes, feeding, and watering the cats almost impossible.  John was a lifesaver.  He did all seven rooms and stations twice a day for me. Christmas day my family that was in town came over.  John gave me the best present - he rooted around in the medicine cabinet and found some Vicodin from two years ago.  It still worked. I felt REALLY good.  I know, we're not suppose to mix meds, blah, blah, but if that's what I have to do to be able to sit and sleep, I have no problem.  Taking a nap in the afternoon and falling asleep while watching TV in the evening are small prices to pay for my butt not to ache all the time.  My mom only needs to breath in pill dust most of the time,  but it takes a little more medication for me than for other people.   I'm not driving, so no danger there.  I do have to take Mom for her Coumadin check at the hospital tomorrow morning, so I won't get to take my meds until I get back.  It's going to be a long morning.  I understand I should be feeling better in 6 to 8 weeks.  Great.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ice Really Is Slick

There's thankfully no pictures for today's blog.  John and I got back from buying my Christmas present at Walmart.  I got a new TV for my sewing room to replace the really old one that's bigger than the legal-size file cabinet that it's sitting on, behind my sewing machine, quilting machine, and cutting table.  We'd unloaded it and other misc things.  John went in the house and I was loading up three crates (black wire cages) to get ready for taking the cats up to Petsmart tomorrow for adoptions.  I always load the crates on Friday to make loading cats easier on Saturday morning.  The St. Louis area got a small ice storm Tuesday.  I threw down what ice-melt we had from last year, but it obviously wasn't enough.  I was putting the first crate, a small one, in the front seat and my feet went out from under me and I went down on my tailbone and smacked the back of my head on the concrete.  I laid there for about 15 seconds till I could breathe again, fished my cell phone out of my pocket and called John in the house.  The conversation went like this:

"I'm laying on the driveway.  Come and help me up."
"Be right there."

So, I'm laying on my back, on the driveway, with a cat crate on top of me, in a subdivision, on the main street, at 2:45 on a Friday afternoon.  Not a car drove by.  Not one neighbor came out to see if I was dead. Where was John! He'd only been in the house for 20 seconds and the door to the laundry room is 25' away! I laid there, and laid there, and laid there, and finally, he came out. 

"Where the hell have you been!!!"  
"I had to put my pants and shoes on!"
"Why didn't you have any pants on!"  (He had them on when we got back from Walmart!)
"I was changing my clothes."
"Why the hell were you changing your clothes?!"

By this time he'd come around the back of the car and started laughing. I think to men, yelling and screaming is a sign we're okay.  I couldn't get the crate off me, and I couldn't get my feet under me because of the ice.  After he lifted the crate off, he had to spin me around so my feet and legs were over the snowy grass so I could roll over, get on my knees, and be helped up.  That's when I saw the spider-web cracks in the ice where my head bounced a couple times.  I inched my way into the house, took four Advil and a half cup of chocolates I'd just bought.  Went one step at a time down to the family room, but couldn't sit back in my recliner till the meds started to work.  John brought my Kindle down, and I had my laptop on the end table.  I was set, almost.  John thought I was kidding about bringing me a martini - for medicinal purposes only.  I got water.  I'm still here, 2.5 hours later, but my butt doesn't hurt if I don't move.  I definitely have a flatter place on the back of my head, but no headache or anything.  I'm probably not going to adoptions tomorrow morning.  I'll be happy if I can get out of bed and make it to the bathroom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Disappearing Kittens

I went in my studio last night to finish up a project and check on Cane and Reed, who were in there visiting Trish and TJ.  The kittens were gone.  Nowhere to be found.  After searching and calling, I assumed they were napping in a pile of bags of batting scraps.  I had made a very large sewing machine cover to keep cats out of thread, pins, and anything else I didn't want them to get into along with my machine when I'm not using it.  I was proud that I could do something to keep one step ahead of the cats.  When I tried to take the cover off my machine, it wouldn't budge.  This was very strange.  Upon investigation, I found the culprits.
 It's hard to be smarter than a cat - or sometimes, even a kitten.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Typing Assistants

Most evenings will find John and me in front of the TV watching our favorite shows, doing email and surfing on our laptops.  This is the time I do my blogs, too.  The other night I was having a particularly difficult time typing.  Spell checker was going crazy with the red underlines.  For some reason my arms were not reaching the keyboard and my fingers were going numb.  Alas, it was a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, or in this case, too many typists in the steno pool.  On the back of the chair is Buster.  The calico at the bottom is his sister, Xena.  They're my own cats.  Under my chin is Cane, then Trevor, both fosters and available for adoption.

I do have some very helpful cats and kittens.  They're always right there making sure I do everything correctly.  They hold the pages down for me when I'm reading a magazine.  They know they get sprayed with a water bottle if they get on the kitchen counter when I'm using it, but from their perch on the bar above the counter, they make sure I use the correct ingredients when fixing a meal.  They help me clean the counter off after I prepare anything resembling food. And then I wipe everything off with bleach water.  My mother won't eat my cooking, and I swear she thinks I'm the dirtiest person in the world and the cats are spreading all kinds of germs and diseases.  No, no OCD in my family.....    My mother also doesn't have, and will never have, a computer and will never see this.  I'm pretty sure she thinks she'll get sick from a computer virus and that the monitor emits too much radiation and will give her cancer.  No, no OCD at all......and, yes, you can eat off her garage floor.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Brooke

Monday was my niece, Brooke's, 8th birthday.  She invited a dozen or so classmates over to decorate cupcakes and gift bags.  The girls all had lots of fun with icing on the cupcakes and construction paper, glitter, and rhinestones on the bags.  Brooke got lots of cool presents, too. 

She spends a few days with me a couple times a year and we usually get in some sewing.  When she was five, she made a doll quilt. I've spend an hour trying to find the digital pictures from three years ago and not having any luck.  Those little gremlins who move my sewing stuff took my pictures, too! Last night I was in my studio, and I lost a page of directions.  Now, I'd just had it 3 minutes earlier and I hadn't moved more than 6 inches from the spot I was standing in, and it was gone. I looked all over, and finally found it under a piece of fabric.  Go figure.

Anyway, Brooke took to sewing like ducks to water. She was 5 1/2 years old, chain piecing and backstitching squares together on my new Bernina, then sewing the rows together.  I sewed the border on and loaded it into my HQ longarm machine.  I put a folding chair up for her to stand on, showed her how to move the machine to quilt, and off she went.  She turned it on and off and set the speed higher because I foolishly set it too low.  When she was done quilting it, I put the binding on and took some really great pictures.  Sure wish you could see them.  I was so proud of her.  She was just amazing.
Brooke's cat quilt

Brooke also shares my love of cats and kittens.  She calls me to see what new ones I have and can't wait to come over and play with them.  When she was here last summer, she picked out a cat fabric and border fabric that she wanted a lap quilt made from.  I presented it to her for her birthday.  I also made a pillowcase for her.  It's a different fabric, since I used all I had for the quilt. 

Brooke's pillowcase

Zach's pillowcase

Then, so her brother, Zach, wouldn't feel too left out, I made him a pillowcase, too.  The fabric is royal flush poker hands.  Since Zach was about 7 or 8 years old, he's been a poker player, and I'm not using that term loosely.  At our family Christmas parties, we always have a Texas Hold'em poker game.  Our friends, Fran and Bruce, who were almost pro players (John and I are no slouches at poker, either), couldn't beat Zach for anything.  If we had an ace-hi straight, he'd have a full house.  If we had a full house, he'd have a higher one.  And he knew how to bet, too!  Well, Zach is now a teenager and we have yet to beat him.  I told him Sunday, this was MY year, and I was going to beat the pants off him.  He just gave me one of those, "Yeah, right" grins.   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Toula, Woody and Lexi

 Does it get any cuter?  I just got this picture of one of my fosters with her new brother and sister.  Toula, the cat, was adopted from me last summer by Donna and Dave and is the delight of her new parents - and siblings.  I hear that Woody and Lexi both adore Toula as much as she adores them.  Donna says each animal has their own bed, but they sometimes choose to sleep all together. Talk about one big happy family!  Thank you, Donna, for the wonderful picture.

I keep telling people that dogs and cats usually get along great.  My foster cats and my own cats all get along with Lucy, the dog, better than they get along with each other sometimes.