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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This is Maizy.  She's about 3 months old and is adopted, but I'm keeping her for a couple extra weeks for her new mom.  Doesn't she look like a little angel?  She was a little shy when I first got her as a stray, but she's really come out of her shell and is learning how to be a cat from watching the other cats.  She plays with the other kittens, Cane and Reed.  She also plays and wrestles with the older cats and doesn't seem intimidated at all.  She's got spunk.

 John was laying on the sofa and Maizy was laying on the back when John started teasing her with his foot.  Maizy started being a cat and went in for the kill.

Every time I pick Maizy up, I'm surprised at how light she is.  She's fluffy with her longer hair and you just expect her to be heavier because she looks bigger than she is.

Her new mom is going to love her.  She's a great kitten and will be a very loving companion - really.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Evan and Jen





Evan making his 1st kill
These are my youngest kittens, Evan and Jen.  Brother and sister brown tabbies that were found in the yard of one of our other foster moms, Angie, who fosters dogs.  I had the nursery open and took them.  There's no such thing as an ugly kitten, and these two are a perfect example.  They're just adorable.  I know I say that about every kitten and cat I get, but when you spend so much time with any animal, they become cuter and more special.  Since they were only a few weeks old when I got them, I bottle fed them formula, then a slurry I make of formula, baby rice cereal, and canned kitten food.  I have a couple bottle nipples that I've cut the top off of so the thick mixture can easily be sucked by the kittens.  They love it so much, I have to make sure they don't get too much at a time.  After a week or so of that, they graduate to canned mixed with Royal Canin BabyCat dry food, then to dry food with a couple servings of canned a day.  Everybody eats well at my house.

Evan is slightly darker in color than Jen.  She has more white on her face and chest and has four white paws.  Tonight they were paroled from the nursery, the walk-in-closet, and let into the bedroom.  They were so excited to be let out.  They were running all over the place and chasing each other.  Sure made it hard to take pictures.  I was so entertained watching them that I missed so many photo ops of their antics.  These are the best I got.  They're about 6 weeks old now and will get their testing and spay/neuter in about three weeks.  Then, they'll be ready for adoption - just in time for Christmas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sundance & Etta Adopted

Sundance / Sebastian

Sundance and Etta are sibling I got when they were just a few days old.  I bottle fed them for 5-6 weeks, which is one reason they're so friendly.  I was their mama.   They were lucky enough to be adopted together a few weeks ago by a wonderful couple, Julie and Jeff.  Julie recently sent me pictures of my babies.  They've been renamed Sebastian and Zoey and are growing so fast. This is them before adoption.  They were truly great kittens.  Very loving and playful.

Sorry these pictures and copy are so out of whack.  Blogger is not a very user-friendly program.  I put them one way in the draft window and they're completely different when published and I can't seem to fix this one.  Aaarrggghh!

Kung Fu Sundance

Etta / Zoey

Sebastian and Zoey

This is Sebastian and Zoey as they are today in their new home with Julie and Jeff.  Thanks, Julie, for sending me the pictures.  She said they're the light of their lives.   I can relate to that.  I don't know what people who don't have cats do.  Sometimes I wish there wasn't so many of them here so I could give more time to each one, but I can't imagine only having a few of them. Being a foster mom means having a constant supply of kittens and being able to share them with other people when they're old enough.  It also means providing a home for the kittens who don't get adopted and grow into cats.  I already think of them as mine, anyway.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cane, Reed & Maizy

The gray basket baby, Wicker, got adopted very quickly, but for some reason, Cane and Reed are still at my house.  Wish I could be sorry about that, but they're the sweetest little guys.  They follow me around and are always on us when we watch TV.  A few weeks ago, I turned to take a tiny step and Cane stuck his paw under my foot so quickly, there was nothing I could do.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I accidentally stepped on his paw and broke/dislocated a toe.  Poor little guy.  He was limping so pitifully.  I took him to the vet, and she put a splint on his paw and a cool blue bandage.  In no time, he was batting pom-pom balls on the hardwood floor with his splint.  When another cat would come to take it away, Cane would bop him on the head with his new weapon.  John called him Gimpy.  You could tell when he was around the kitchen, because he would tap-tap-tap as he walked.  Neither the splint not the broken toe kept him from doing anything he did before.  He still jumped up on things and then jumped down from them.  After his second x-ray, I was able to take the splint off today after three weeks.  Kittens heal very quickly.

I just got my new Kindle 3 a couple weeks ago and have been reading when I should be doing other things.  It's a big improvement over the K2.  The other night I was reading on the bed, and found myself with lots of company.  I used my cell phone to call John in the family room to bring the camera.  These are four of my six youngest fosters.  Two littlest kittens are in the nursery  - a large walk-in-closet in this bedroom..  From the left are Reed, then Lucy the dog, Cane, leaning against Lucy, Maizy, and Ebony. I've had Maizy a couple weeks and she has a new home already.  The day I took Maizy in to get her spay package, the vet's daughter's teacher called her to see if she knew of a long-haired kitten to adopt.  As a matter of fact.....   So, Marcy, the vet, called me to see if Maizy was up for adoption.  The teacher's mom is adopting little Maizy after Thanksgiving, so I get to play with her a little longer.

       Maizy trying to sleep.

Cane was sleeping with his head resting against Lucy's back.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Basket Babies

Wicker, Cane, and Reed
A lady walked into Petsmart in August with a white wicker basket with a cloth over it.  Under the cover were three adorable kittens that she found under her porch. She wanted to know how to take care of these 3 to 4 week old kittens, although she'd never had a cat before.  When we told her all the things she needed to do - mixing formula, bottle feeding every four hours around the clock, heating pads, litter training, and on and on - her eyes started to glaze over and she wisely surrendered them to Heartland. I quickly volunteered to take them.  All three are males, and I named them Wicker, Cane, and Reed after the basket they came in.  Since they were so young, I bottle-fed them for a few weeks before introducing them to canned and dry kitten food.  They're all very friendly, loving, and active.  They're not shy at all and run up to me to say hello and crawl on me. They sleep with me and love to burrow under the covers at night.  I'm trying to teach them that my feet with socks on are connected to my body and are not cat toys.  The dark gray tabby is Wicker, the gray and white in the middle is Cane, and the black and white is Reed.  They've all been neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, dewormed, and tested negative for feline leukemia and aids. Wicker was adopted a couple weeks ago, but Cane and Reed are still looking for their forever home.  DOB  7-17-10.   Wicker  #6993 BB.  Cane  #6991 BB.   Reed  #6992 BB.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miranda and Kittens

A couple weeks ago Angie's daughter, Miranda, came over for a sew day while her mother had a photo shoot. We had started a purse for Miranda from fabrics she picked out herself.  She came back to finish it - or rather play with the kittens while I finished it.  The kittens were still in the sewing room so it was interesting navigating around them.  Miranda loved having them there.
She kept adding to her collection.

This is her finished purse.  I think she did an exceptional job picking the fabrics.  It was beautiful.  The first day, I asked if she wanted to do a line of quilting down each seam line, but she wanted some fancy embroidery stitch instead.  I had this part done before she came the second day.

The inside has lots of pockets for all her valuable stuff.  I had everything we needed to make the purse except a large button for the loop to go over to close the top.

After the purse was finished, we had some time till her mom came, so she wanted a book cover for her paperbacks.  She picked out some orange fall fabrics.  Miranda wanted the same embroidery stitches down the seams of the strips of her book cover.  I suggested she do it herself and she eagerly did a fantastic job. 

She had help, too.  Ebony jumped up when she started and made herself comfortable on the chair.  She stayed there about an hour.

Miranda was worried Ebony would get cold, so she covered her up with the fabric for the book cover.  The pillow is a padded piece I have next to my machine for my scissors, ripper, etc. to lay on. 

Lucy had to get in the room, too, to play.  Rover was happy to oblige.  All the cats and kittens love Lucy and she loves them back.

Rover found a great bed on top of some batting.  Isn't he adorable. And so sweet, too.  He's going to make someone the best cat, ever.  And you can see, he's dog friendly.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Toula All Grown Up

If you remember from past posts about the little kitten brought in to Petsmart by a construction worker, this is her.  I took her home because I had two nursing moms. She was originally named Colby when I thought she was a he.  Then she became Casey.  When Donna and Dave adopted her, she became Toula.  Donna sends me pictures and keeps me updated about how well Toula has fit in with their family.

This is Toula today napping in a favorite chair.  Doesn't her new pink collar look so chic on her?

Toula's found a great new sister in Lexi. Isn't that just the sweetest thing?  Adopters are always asking if the cat or kitten they adopt will be lonesome leaving their friends and litter mates at my house.  Many don't believe me when I say they'll be just fine and will become close to the new animals and humans.  See????

This is Toula's new brother, Woody.  They're best buds like she and Lexi are.

Thank you, Donna, for sharing your wonderful pictures with me.  I'm glad Toula won't become a spoiled little girl at your house.  Right.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stashbusting Pillowcases and Cute Kittens

I have got to use up some of my fabric.  I swear it mates at night and multiplies.  Having sewn for 45 years doesn't help, either.  My friend, Darlene, joined an online group where members keep track of the yards of fabric that come into the house, the yards used, and year-to-date totals of each. Also projects they want to complete in the year.  Everyone reports their weekly figures on Sunday nights. Great!  This is the incentive for me.  Except you can only join on Jan 1 of each year.  Not wanting to wait seven more months to get with the program, I decided I didn't need anybody's website or chart.  I made my own and started three weeks ago.  So far, I've used 21 yards of fabric, 3.5 yds more than I bought.  (On my way to KC this month, my car just took the exit in Columbia that went to Satin Stitches, and I had a 17.5 yard relapse.)   Eli's baby quilt is counted, a very cool tote bag that I'll write about when I get it unloaded and take some pictures, and 11 pillowcases at a yard each.  Several of these have a mate.

Pretty cool, huh?  I've made many pillowcases for gifts, and made us some, too, but I needed to replace all the 15 and 20 year old ones that weren't smelling too good anymore.  Unfortunately, I got in too big of a hurry and didn't wash the fabric first.  Some of the older fabric, especially the Jinny Beyer's, really shrunk - a lot - when I washed and dried them all yesterday.  I should have known better, but, hey, they're pillowcases.

I cut extra pieces, but may not use them, now.  If I had a yard of fabric, I could get a case and a cuff from it.

Standing on a chair to take the pictures, I saw Ebony creeping into the previous picture right before I took it.  Cropped her out, but she looked so cute sitting there, took another and have to include it.

My sewing room was the one non-cat room in my house - until last week.  Two of the three adults in the crew of nine from Truxton had bad head colds, but three different antibiotics didn't help.  I needed to separate the six kittens from them, but had nowhere to go with them except my sewing room.  I knew it was probably too late for quarantine procedures, but it couldn't hurt.  I did a quick kitten-proofing of cords and pins and moved them in.  In about 3 seconds they were exploring and getting into everything.  And loving every minute.
A better picture of Ebony.  She's so sweet.  The whole group is sweet.  You wouldn't expect it from barn kittens, but this is my third litter of them, and I've been delighted with all three.  The adult female, Velvet, that is mom to two of the six kittens is a little shy, but still friendly enough that I can pick her up.

Ranger making himself at home on one of my suitcases I haven't put away, yet.

This is Mittens, the polydactyl kitten.  He has an extra toe on each paw, like Ernest Hemingway's cats in Key West, FL.  And don't think for a minute that he doesn't know he's cuter and more special than the others.  He's even showing you first his left paw, then his right paw. The back feet each have an extra toe, too.  He's going to be a hard one to give up.

The other black and white kitten, Rover, and the black and tan tortie, Patches, playing under my chair legs.  I moved the chair over by my fabric cabinets so the kittens couldn't use it as a step to my sewing table.  As you can tell by Ebony on the pillowcases, it didn't work very well.  These guys are very active and are excellent jumpers.

Ranger resting on my floor fan base.
This is all six kittens before I moved them to the sewing room.  The adult at the top is Prince, likely father of some.  From the top down is Rover, Patches (dark tortie), Teddy, Ebony, Mittens, and Ranger.  The other male, Smokey, is the other paternal candidate.  This whole story is a regular Peyton Place.  As I understand from the property owner, Tracie, there were two males and two females.  Each female had a litter two days apart.  The black female, Velvet, had two kittens and the calico female had four.  Velvet took the other mom's four kittens, put them in her nest, and raised all six.  The calico mom disappeared.  So, it's unknown who fathered who, but they're all so adorable and friendly.......I can't keep them all, I can't keep them all....

Feeding time at Barb's Bar and Grill.  Prince (off-white) and Velvet (black) are at the top. Then clockwise are Rover, Smokey, Teddy, Mittens, Ebony, Patches, and Ranger.

Velvet, Ebony and Patches are the only girls.

Smokey and Prince didn't get neutered in time and Velvet is pregnant, again.  More kittens in about 3-4 weeks.

 Smokey with Rover on top and Teddy.  Prince and Smokey are both wonderful dads and cuddle with all the kittens.  I bet the kittens really miss their dads.  Hopefully, everyone will be reunited when we get this head cold cleared up.

It's very difficult to take a picture of a cat and have their eyes not glow like something from a Stephen King movie.

Mama Velvet.  She's about a year old, just a big kitten, really, and on the petite side.   All the Heartland cat foster moms are overflowing with cats and kittens and people aren't adopting right now due to various reasons, mainly the economy.  If you're thinking about adopting a cat or kitten, we have a wonderful assortment from which to choose.