Click photos to enlarge them.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Triangle Quilt

Last month, I took over as the leader of the Bound Together Quilt Guild in O'Fallon.  A week from today is the meeting and I'm doing a program on half-square triangle blocks. I've been researching how many different ways they are to make them.  Lots more than you would think.  I've been cutting and sewing triangles for a week.  I have another whole week before the meeting so why not just cut and make some blocks for a real quilt! No problem.  It's only going to be a twin.

I've made samples of quite a few different methods, but found one that is suited to my needs of using up my stash with no specific pattern in mind.  I can cut strips that I can use for either squares or triangles.  For four days I pressed, cut, and stacked strips in 2.5", 3.5" and 4.5" sizes.  Most were cut the larger size, as I can always cut them smaller if I need to.  I pulled long and fat quarter yards, some half yards, and found little pieces as small as 5x8 inches that I have no idea why I put them back on the shelves.  I must have cut up over 100 yards, really, and am still cutting.  Sadly, I can't tell anything is missing from my stash.

I found a picture of a quilt online that was just perfect.  As I made 4" triangle blocks, I would need more purples or more blues and would press and cut more strips.  Since a whole-width strip was too long - I didn't need or want 16 blocks of the same two fabrics - I divided my stacks of strips into full and partial strips.

After I separated the full and partial strips, I decided I needed the lights separated from the darks in the 4.5" stacks for faster coordinating.  The front row is the full strips, the back row, the partial strips.  From the left, the stacks are 4.5" lights, 2.5". 3.5" and 4.5" darks (mostly).


 There are two different alternating blocks, a diagonal square and a star.  Each finishes 16".

 The first three blocks.  After I made more little blocks, I changed some of the triangles in the first two blocks for a better mix of colors and fabrics.  I love scrap quilts and love mixing all the fabrics and getting the sparkle.
Four blocks done.  After a week of cutting and making little triangle blocks, the real blocks are going together pretty quickly.

With this method, the strips are cut 1/2" wider than the finished size, just like cutting squares.  This is a very versatile method when you don't have a specific pattern in mind.  A light and a dark strip are placed RST.  A light steam PRESSING will bond the fibers together almost like they're fused.
Instead of using the triangle ruler to cut triangle after triangle, I found that if I cut rectangles a couple threads less than 5 1/4" long, I can cut two triangles from them and get better results.  I can get 8 4" finished blocks from two half-width strips.
I bought an Easy Angle triangular ruler that does great. I put sandpaper dots all along the edges and have a suction-cup knob that helps a lot in maneuvering the ruler just a tad.
With this method, one of the corners of every triangle is trimmed, and one isn't.  I like them trimmed, so I do another step.
I have to turn all the triangles over or else take the suction cup off and turn the ruler over to get the correct angle. I've turned the little trimmed point over so you can see it better.
 I also press all my seams open, so that's another step, but one well worth the trouble to me.  I like nice flat blocks.
 Three of the blocks I just pressed.  The blocks are cut and sewn to the correct size and, if not dead on, are within a thread of being perfect.  No squaring up.
Six blocks done, and I love it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Jilly's Calming Collar

Last Saturday at Petsmart I was talking to another foster mom, Jen, about a couple problem cats I have.  One, Jilly, is taking up a whole bedroom.  She got along with her sister, Josie, and two kittens, Zack and Cody, who were put in with Josie and Jilly as kittens.  The sisters adopted and cared for Zach and Cody from the time they were about 10 weeks old.  Josie and the kittens have been adopted out, and Jilly is all by herself.  She cried by the door, and I've let her out a few times, but she was so hissy and picked fights, that I had to put her back after 10 minutes or less. 

Jen told me about calming collars and how much they helped a couple of her cats get along with other cats.  She even went and got a box of three for me in the store.  Sentry Calming Collar, three for about $32.  Labeled as good behavior pheromone technology, lavender chamomile fragrance.  I bought them and put one on crabby Eva when I got home.  She did seem more relaxed and not as crabby.  The next day, Sunday, I put one on crabby Jilly.  I had started her on the Prozac gel, rubbed in the ear, the day before, but it usually takes two or three weeks to see any effect.  A few hours later I opened Jilly's door.  She slowly came out, walked around, saw other cats and layed on a kitchen chair.  This was eerie.  I went downstairs to check and answer email, and she came down, too, and explored.  She was out, THE FIRST DAY, for six hours!  There were a couple tiffs and hisses, and a couple spats, but nothing serious.  I let them sort it out. 

The next day, she was out for 10 hours.  She's been out every day since, and the hissing is getting less each day.  At bedtime, I tell her it's time to go back in her room, and I head upstairs.  She follows me and goes right in.  I give her half a can of food and tell her what a good girl she is.  I didn't think I'd ever be able to let Jilly out in the house, but in one week, she's almost like one of the gang.  To see her free to roam two levels of the house is almost beyond belief when I had her in a bedroom for a year.

 This is Jilly tonight while we're watching TV. She's like a different cat.  I know she looks just this side of comatose here, but she's just relaxing and got up to lay on me a few minutes later.  Last night, when Buster was on me in the recliner, she jumped on John and layed on him for a while.  He couldn't believe it and said, "Look at this!"  About 10 minutes later, with Buster still on my lap, Jilly got off John and jumped up on my recliner and slowly layed across my lower legs, 3" from touching Buster.  I said, "No, look at THIS!"  After about five minutes, Buster didn't think this was good idea, and very slowly got up to leave.  That's when Jilly got up, all hissy and spitty, and chased him up the stairs - using my legs as a launching pad.  Ouch.   All is not perfect, but we're a good 80% there.
Before the collar, I would take my Kindle in her room every night, sit in a recliner, and try to get her to come up on my lap.  She wouldn't.  I'd pick her up and gently put her on my lap.  She'd never stay longer than two minutes.  Now, she's on my lap for an hour - in the family room - with other cats.

I'm just blown away by this whole thing.  I understand from a little online research that the collars work on most cats, but not on all cats.  Those not affected by catnip are the ones not affected by the collars.  Thankfully, pheromones affect Jilly.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Photo Hunt Word - LOUD

Today's Photo Hunt word is Loud.  Since cats aren't too loud unless they're running through a room or having issues with each other, and I have no picture of that, I had to look to another source.  My quilts were the most likely, and I found one that fits the category.  This is the second twin quilt in these fabrics that I've made.  I sold the first one, but this one is going on the bed in the panthers' former room, and currently Jilly's room - if it's ever catless.

Although it's not quilted here, it IS quilted now.  However, I quilted it before I got a new mattress for that room.  It's an extra long twin - 5" longer than standard.  I want to make this quilt longer, now, and have a small striped fabric in these colors with a black background.  I'll put a thin border on the sides, and wider ones on the ends.  I'll do the sew-and-flip method to add the borders and quilt it on my Bernina.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Box Lids Are a Hit

I've made covers for three box lids for my gang so far and put all three out in the family room.  Lilly was the first one in a few days ago with the one and only box.  I swear she didn't leave it for two days.  Yesterday, I made two more covers and put them out.  Lilly was in one of the new ones because Delcy and Meg took over hers.

 It looks a little crowded.......
but they don't seem to mind, since there was an empty box right next to them.  And don't you like how well they go with the decor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February Morty

Today was our February quilt guild meeting, and,again, nobody guessed Morty's outfit.  I guessed Lincoln, since my daughter was born on Lincoln's birthday.  Others guessed Cupid, Valentine's Day, and Mardi Gras.

Nobody guessed George Washington!

We almost had to tie Morty in the chair.  He wasn't made to bend and he kept sliding out.  We had to put a box under his feet to keep him in the chair.

Jeanne said the shoes were a problem, too.  Morty has fat stubby club feet that weren't made to fit in shoes.

Isn't he the handsome fellow?  Once again, Jeanne did an awesome, spectacular job of dressing him.  His wig is quilt batting, his clothes are real clothes, and his shoes are real, too. He even had an ascot.

 Morty's wig was complete with front and side curls and a pony tail.  We're all simply amazed at what Jeanne comes up with.  I can't wait to see him next month.  Good job, Jeanne.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cool Cat Bed

One of my favorite cat blogs is the Katnip Lounge at  It's also on the right side bar of my blog.  Trish and her husband Scott have 13 adorable cats and the coolest cat patio (the catio) ever.  You have to visit their blog.  Anyway, the cats are often pictured napping in these cute copier-paper box lids with a fleece cover.  They're a perfect size.  She gave the directions, but I don't remember what month or day it was.  I finally got some box lids from another foster mom and made six of them in half an hour.  I gave one to the lady who adopted Scooter and will take some for foster moms tomorrow.

This is Lilly, who was the first one in it.  Buster came and wanted in, but Lilly said no way.  Hey, Scott, I thought of you when I saw the fleece at the store.  Scott and I both like tie-dyed things and bright colors.  Thank you, Trish, for sharing your cover pattern.  I have about 7 yards of fleece to sew.

You wouldn't believe the trouble I've had getting the box lids.  I went to our local Office Max, because who would have more empty paper boxes than them, right?  When I asked if I could have some of their box lids to make beds for poor little foster kittens who have been rescued from death's door, I was told no, I couldn't.  They throw them all away.  And they don't give things away that they sell, and they sell boxes.  I asked if the boxes they sell have the separate lids, or do they have the flaps?  They have the flaps.  So, let me get this straight - you don't sell the type of box lids I want, but you can't give me any because you throw them away?  Yes.  My money spent at Office Max will be far less from now on.

Another foster mom, Cheri, brought me half a dozen box lids from her work.  Thank you, Cheri.  You have first dibs on the covers tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scooter is Adopted

Scooter went to his new home tonight.  Michelle is a very nice lady who saw Scooter's blog and fell in love.  I didn't think to get a picture until she was walking out the door and Scooter was in the carrier.  She promised to send me a photo for my blog.

He'll have another cat, Charlie, to play with, and a dog.  I sure hope it's a short introduction period.  The few times Scooter was out in the house, he hissed at some cats and ignored others.  Who knows what is better or worse to a cat.  Only they know.  Scooter is a very friendly and loving cat once he knows you, which took a day or two here.

Thank you, Michelle, for giving Scooter a home.  And get him a track ball.  He loves those things.


Bridgette doesn't get enough attention on the blog, so I'm featuring her today.  She's about a year and a half old and was rescued by a lady, Nita, who found her behind a store eating out of the dumpster.  She managed to trap Bridgette, have her spayed and vaccinated, and was going to return her to her habitat, but couldn't.  Bridgette was too beautiful, so Nita put her in a spare bathroom for a while to get her used to being in a house.  Well, there was a little hole in the wall, which Bridgette, being bored, made into a bigger hole and thought she'd found her escape route.  She spent days and days in the wall, coming out at night to eat and use the litter box.  Nita contacted Heartland, and when she finally managed to trap her again, brought her to my house.  For the first couple weeks she stayed under the end of the bed.   She couldn't get under the bed because it's boarded up.  I'd let the quilt hang down to the floor to give her a place to hide and get used to a house.

Bridgette eventually warmed up to me and within a few weeks was laying on the bed and wandering around the room.

She's a beautiful gray and tan tortie.  The tip of her left ear was nipped off during her spay as a universal sign that a feral cat has been spayed or neutered.
I got Bridgette in the middle of a heat wave the end of July '11.  She quickly adapted to air conditioning, a soft bed, and food she didn't have to get out of a dumpster.

I then got a pregnant cat, Delcy, who was put in the nursery closet in Bridgette's bedroom.  The two girls had been pawing each other under the door and whining, so after the kittens were born, I opened the closet door and let Delcy and Bridgette meet.  They soon became inseparable, and Bridgette was a regular in the birthing box just laying next to Delcy and the kittens.  The white kitten isn't Delcy's, but an orphan I took in.  Delcy graciously adopted him.

Bridgette soon became Aunt Bridgette.

I know you've all seen this photo before, but it's one of my all-time favorites, and I had to post it again.  All the kittens have been adopted.
 Bridgette is in the upper right corner supervising the track-ball play after the kittens were old enough to be let out in the bedroom.

Bridgette was soon let out into the house and got along with all the other cats.
Here she's groovin' with her Christmas capnip toy.

Bridgette is still just a little shy, but she is constantly winding in and out of my legs no matter where I am.  She's getting more used to me holding her, but would rather be on the floor.  I try to give her some treats of people food, but the other cats are faster than she is and barge in to take it.  I know Bridgette would blossom once she was in her own home without all the other cats.  If you have patience, a quiet house, and are thinking about adopting a cat, please consider Bridgette.  She will make an awesome pet.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Zach is Adopted

Zach got adopted yesterday.  He's a great cat and deserves a home where he can get more one-on-one attention than he got here. 

Lilly and Zach sharing a box Petsmart was throwing away.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

John's Bread

My husband has become quite the bread maker the past couple years.  He has several recipes that are our favorites.  One is called Japanese Milk Bread.  Thankfully, he didn't let the name deter him from making it.  It's a soft bread, and I love soft marshmallow bread.  No hard crust.

This time he made rolls with half the dough.  You'll notice one roll is missing.  I didn't know he wanted to take a picture of them!  It was worth it.  They taste like the Hawaiian rolls in the orange package at the grocery store, but less sweet and much better.  He said the secret for a soft bread is to make a flour and water paste, boil it, and add it to the bread flour. 

I didn't have to eat all of this bread myself.  John took the big loaf to the office for a patient who was coming in that day and likes homemade bread.

My other favorite John makes is called Honey Oatmeal Bread from Father Dom's cookbook.  It's online if you Google it.  A very hearty (and soft) bread.  Father Dom is a friar at a monastery somewhere in Illinois, I think.  He's the head baker and has published a cookbook.

P.S.  I thought I posted this a few days ago, but found it listed as a draft.  The rolls are now gone.  I had a couple pounds of hamburger that I made little sliders with and used the rolls as buns.  A slice of cheese and some of my onion jam - fabulous.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ebony is Adopted

My beautiful little girl, Ebony, was adopted today by a very nice man, Jon, and his wife, Pat.  She chose to stay home so she wouldn't see and want all my fosters.  Darn.  I could have arranged that.  So Jon and his son came to look at Ebony.  They love black cats and wanted one to replace one of theirs that died at 21 years of age, and saw Ebony's picture and bio on Heartland's website. 

Ebony with her new dad, Jon. Thank you for giving my girl a great new home.

Ebony after she crawled through an empty Jello box.

Ebony with her best bud, Trevor, before he got adopted.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Batik Strip Quilts

A friend asked if I'd make her a lap quilt from batik fabrics.  Batiks are awesome fabrics hand dyed in Indonesia and are simply gorgeous with a definite tropical look. 

Not knowing what pattern she'd like, I decided I'd just cut 2.5" strips and sew them together like I had several times in the past.  For non-quilters, we call it stripping.  I always cut too many pieces and ended up getting three lap quilts out of the strips.  I put green borders on two and a blue border on the third. 

OMG, I love them!  I think I'll cut all my fabric into strips and make these for the rest of my life.  After decades of making meticulously perfect and exact quilts, it's so liberating to just sew strips together and have a quilt. Mindless sewing, but they look great.  They do have a bottom border.  The quilts are too long for the picture. The second one looks just like this one.  They're 58" x 78".

A closer look.

Saturday at adoptions, another foster mom asked if I'd make a lap quilt for her mother who's going to have chemotherapy soon.  What a great comfort for mom when she feels so bad.  I had made her daughter a batik quilt for her bed last year, so she knew what the fabrics looked like.  When I told her I had a couple done, she quickly said she'd take the blue bordered one. 

This one's not quilted, yet, but I have a customer's quilts on the frame and will do this one in a couple days.  It also has a bottom border.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Introducing Scooter

After promising myself I wouldn't take in any more fosters until I had adopted out five or so, I got another call from Erin, the animal control officer at the Warrenton Animal Shelter.  Could I take an 8-month-old long-haired black and white female kitten named Snooki.  She was trapped in back of a store eating out of the dumpster.  As soon as she said "black", I wanted to pass (I already have five black fosters), but I heard the words, "Yeah, I can take her" come out of my mouth, as I had a visual of this feral cat and her living conditions.  And I was definitely changing the name. 

I picked her up on Thursday, and she was beautiful with very fine, silky fur.  I took her directly to the vet.  She was negative for feline leukemia and aids and had a negative fecal.  No fleas, ears were clean, and no runny eyes.  A picture of health!  Yeah!  However......Snooki was a boy, with all his equipment.  I had to call Erin and kid her about it, and tell her Snooki was now Scooter.  He gets neutered on Wednesday.

I put him in the nursery closet for a few days until I knew he was using the litter box, which he went right over to and used.  I also didn't know how feral or friendly he was, but he came right over, rubbed on me, let me pet him and pick him up.  This was definitely not a feral cat.  I was sure he hadn't been outside long and was someone's pet, but nobody had called Animal Control looking for him in two weeks.  Their loss.  What a sweetie.  I let him out into the bedroom an hour later.

Doesn't he look like a scared feral cat?

He has a light gray outline of a soul patch on his chin and is a medium-haired black tuxedo with four white paws, long white whiskers and cute white hairs in his ears.  I have to keep him quarantined for 10 days, but I think I'll be able to let him out in the house very soon.  He'll be available for adoption in a couple weeks.

Scooter quickly made himself at home.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Micky is Adopted

Today was an excellent adoption day at Petsmart.  I think we did 15 or 16 dog and cat adoptions.  I adopted out Micky to a wonderful family.  I was hoping he would go to a family with children and I got my wish.  Adam, mom Kara, and Alaina, and Micky not looking at the camera.  Dad was off camera putting Micky's new carrier together for his trip home.  Micky is such an affectionate young cat, the whole family is going to love him.

He's such a beautiful cat.  I have a special fondness for gray tabbies, and he is indeed special.

Saturday Photo Hunt Word - FLAT

Today's photo hunt word is Flat,  Since none of my cats are anywhere near flat, it was between a picture of my hair when it hadn't been washed for three days, or a picture of one of my wallhangings.  Normally I take the quilt pictures from 8' to 10' away, but this one is in a hallway where I could only get the camera 3' away, or take it at an angle.  The angled one didn't work at all to show the quilt, but it sure is flat against the wall.  I use little straight pins and carefully "nail" the quilt to the wall.

A close up of the bargello quilt showing some of the embellishments - couched fuzzy yarn, gold metallic thread to quilt certain areas, and many rhinestones, sequins, and beads glued on here and there.  This was a very fun project to make.