kitty companiona

kitty companiona

Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Award!

I wish to thank Cat who writes the Cat's Cats blog for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award!
This is a surprise and I feel so honored!

Those of you who read her blog know that Cat is one of the kindest and most caring people you will ever meet.  Through her writing and her actions she encourages supporting your local shelter, neutering and spaying, and keeping cats indoors for safety.  Her own four lovely kitties were all homeless shelter kitties before she adopted them.  And lucky little guys they are!  Cat not only makes sure they are physically well-fed and cared for, she also tries to make sure they are the happiest cats possible.  Read the story about driving for hundreds of miles to pick up Jimmy (formerly named Ash).  Check the pictures on her blog.  You will see what a dedicated Cat-Mom she is!


Cat actually gave me this award several days ago, and I am just now posting about it because I have been pondering my choices for passing it on.  I probably take things too seriously, but it is meaningful for me to receive an award and I want to pass it on in the same spirit.

It is supposed to be passed on to seven other bloggers.  I have decided on three.
There are lots of nice big fancy blogs that everyone reads and comments on, but I wanted to choose ordinary people who do good things in their life on an everyday basis.  These are people I admire even though I have never met any of them in person.

My first choice is Lauren from Rugs and Pugs.

Lauren is the Angel of Pugdom!  She is a volunteer with Ohio Pug Rescue.  She fosters these dear little furry ones who have been abused and neglected until a forever home is found for them.  She provides food, vet care and a loving home to these furry ones who have had very little kindness in their lives.  Many of these dogs have multiple physical problems and trust issues.  Lauren, thank you for caring!!! 

My second choice is Kim from Millie's Mats.

What a woman!  Kim works full-time in a stressful job dealing with The Public.  She single-handedly takes care of two elderly ladies, her auntie and her mom who has health problems.  She is assisted by her little dog Millie.  Through the good times and the frustrations Kim manages to keep her positive attitude.  She manages her household and job with wit and a zany sense of humor.  Kim is a classy lady who keeps me laughing with her wonderful stories.

My next choice is Thomas from A Growing Tradition.

This young man and his wonderful vegetable garden are simply amazing.  For a person who is fairly new to gardening, he has grown some of the most beautiful vegetables on a small backyard garden.  He chooses organic and sustainable methods of gardening to reduce the detrimental impact on the planet and give his family fresh toxin-free food.  He is also an excellent chef and bread baker.  Thomas, your heart and hands are doing a good thing!

And now for the really hard part.
I'm supposed to tell seven things about myself that my dear readers may not know.  Being a kind of 'spill your guts' and 'heart on my sleeve' type of person, I don't think there is much I can tell that you don't already know.
It's pretty obvious that I'm old, fat and have gray hair, so I can skip that one!  Hehehe!

1.  Once while I was in the woods, a squirrel jumped out of a tree and landed on my shoulder.  I didn't scream, just stood still until he ran down my back.
2.  The only foods I really dislike are licorice and black walnuts.  There may be others, but I haven't found them yet.
3.  I always buy cars with a gear shift instead of an automatic transmission.
4.  I'm a really boring person.  I can't think of any other interesting (or NOT!) things to say about myself.

The acceptance speech for my award has been postponed until the evening of the Golden Globe awards.  It will then be televised.  I've taken so long to write this post that I just need to QUIT!

Those of you to whom I have passed the Stylish Blogger Award may take the badge and put it on your sidebar and pass the honor on to those you think are deserving.  Thanks for being an inspiration!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Get out of Jail! Free!!!

Before I get started on my post I want to mention that I've noticed a few new followers have joined my blog recently.  I want to thank all of you who have just joined and those faithful friends who continue to read my posts.  Please know that I do go to your blogs and read your posts though I don't always have time to comment. 

Welcome New Readers!  Dear Old Friends, I'm so happy when you stop in to read and comment!

Aaaaaah, the sweet taste of freedom!

I feel as though I have been handcuffed to the sewing machine for the past week-and-a-half.
Brad and Kami were getting ready for a major WW2 re-enactment and had lots of orders to fill and kept getting more at the last minute.  And of course, many were passed along to me.  Don't get me wrong!  They did their best, working from early morning to late night on this stuff.

In the past two weeks I made three pairs of piped shoulder boards, three bedsacks with pillows, repaired a dirndl top, made two pairs of men's pants and a  child's heavy wool overcoat.  I had to make up the patterns for the pants and overcoat.  Drawing patterns causes severe anxiety! 

I did have the comfort of loving kitties while I was working.  Izzy loves to lounge in fabric.

Deiter joins the confusion and decides that this is the ideal place to give Izzy a bath.
Come on, guys!  The table is getting a little crowded!

Zip usually leaves his guitar case on my loom next to the sewing table.  Penny loves to snuggle down inside and take a nap.

Penny and Reggie are a tangle of kitty body parts on a messy shelf where I keep supplies.

'By the way, Mom!  Your sewing is interfering with my nap!'

Everything is finished and was delivered yesterday afternoon.  The kids are leaving for Fort Indiantown Gap tomorrow.  Then all Zip and I have to do is feed their kitties.

So today I am out of sewing incarceration!  Absolutely FREE to do whatever I wish.
It was a nice change to get up in the morning and do dishes (can't believe I said that!!!).  Yes, they piled up nicely while I was otherwise occupied!

On Thursday, my friend Willa is coming here to make tamales.  I've been researching tamale dough recipes on cooking websites.  I like the milder flavor and fluffier texture of ones that made with a canned hominy base.  After reading quite a few recipes, I formulated my own ideas and wanted to try them out ahead of time.

My tamale dough recipe:

1 can of hominy (a can the size of a regular soup can)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup shortening (or lard, the traditional way)
pinch of salt
Chicken broth as needed to make a smooth, soft dough  (less than a cup)

I put all the ingredients into the food processor and blended until the hominy was finely chopped and incorporated into the cornmeal, adding chicken broth a little at a time.  I wanted the dough to be soft enough to easily spread on the cornhusks.

My filling was ground turkey breast, some cumin, taco seasoning and cilantro, with some finely diced white cheddar cheese and some cream cheese.

I will be taking pictures of the whole process when Willa and I make them again on Thursday.

I put the tamales in my bamboo steamer and cooked them for about a half an hour.

The dough turned out perfectly light and fluffy.  I wish I had added some more spicy kick to the filling, maybe adobo sauce, but that's for another day. 

Darn!  I wish I had some guacamole!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are We There Yet???

The journey toward Spring seems to be a long one.
At least we did not get quite the mess that was predicted-  snow, freezing rain, sleet and dire road conditions-  until lunch time today.

By the time I got up at 7 a.m. it was all over but the gray look.

Yesterday I had a routine doctor visit.  I talked to her about the fact that I have No Energy.  We discussed seasonal depression and history of depression and decided that medication was probably not the way to go.  She said that my thyroid is 'sluggish' and recommended medication for that in hopes that it will perk me up a bit.  There was the mild lecture about Losing Weight.  Now that's depressing!!!
On the whole, I'm doing pretty good for an old fat lady.

The week ahead is going to be filled with sewing for Brad and Kami.  They are going to a large WW2 event at Fort Indiantown Gap next week and there are lots of orders that need to be finished.  After that I have been promised a vacation so I can do some fun crafty things.

Meanwhile, the cats entertain (pester) me by hanging about on the sewing table.  Izzy sits on top of my embroidery machine, looks out onto the front porch and issues verbal threats to the stray kitties who gather to eat.

Oh, she now sees a more reachable victim.
Yeek!  Look at the CAT HAIR on the dust cover of the machine!

Is that a raccoon in the trash can???
Only Reggie innocently playing in the papers, threads and fabric scraps.

The fun is over, Reggie!
Hehehe!  Don't I look like the Evil Big Sister???

 Oh to have the life of a young cat!  THEY are not lacking energy!

Recently some of the rugs that I had loaned to Linda at Grant Street to hang on the walls of the shop have returned home.  This the first rug I ever hooked.

My sister and I first became interested in rughooking after seeing an exhibit at the Washington County Art Museum in Hagerstown, MD.  They were featuring rug artists Mary Ann Storm, her mother and grandmother.  We contacted Mary Ann and found that she gave lessons.  We were ready!!!

I wanted a rug that was dark and primitive.  I had collected a small stash of recycled wool, a limited palette.  With help from my teacher, I dyed the greens for leaves and grass.  I hate to admit how long it took me to hook this rug!

My Amish couple rug is progressing onward.  You will notice that the man's hair kind of blends into the background.

I yanked out the plaid that I used for the outline and put in black instead.  A small change, but I think for the better.  I'm not sure yet if I like that sawtooth border.  I may have to give that some more thought.  But is it worth the effort for such a silly piece???

Well, that's it.  Hasn't been a very exciting week.  LOL!
Hope at least some of you are having a much more active life!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Color Planning Chaos

Disorderly Conduct.
Yep, guilty as charged!

As usual I changed my mind about which project to work on next.  I had planned to take the 'spaghetti and meatballs' rug to Zip's bluegrass workshop, but when I got up Saturday morning I realized that I didn't have adequate amounts of many colors to even begin a larger rug.  So I decided instead to take my small 'Amish couple' mat.  Surely in my messy stash of wool I would have some suitable colors.

The problem with having hooked for twenty years is that you end up with a lot of small leftover pieces from every project you ever hooked.  Mine are all jumbled together in a plastic bin, with hardly a piece larger than 1/4 yard. 

I don't usually buy wool ahead of time just because it's a pretty piece.  It's NEVER what I need at the moment!  I have a good stash of light neutrals that I dye as necessary.

So I dig through the mess and pull out the possibilities and lay them around me on the table.

Then they become piles of Not Right, Maybe, and It's a Keeper.
Meanwhile the 'hooker's little helpers' move in.

Izzy is lounging and daydreaming in wooly splendour.

Deiter sits on Mommy's hoop because the nice round shape conveniently fits his body.

Mom will just have to sit and drink coffee and watch the snow fall.
I was able to make a little progress.  I'm still not sure of the background.  It may be a little too dark.

Yesterday I ventured out of the house to go to the Blue and Gray hooking meeting.  A lot of people showed up.  Everyone must be getting cabin fever and needed a day out in spite of the frigid weather.

I took some pictures but they aren't the best.  The sooner I got finished with the photos, the sooner I could TALK!

Our featured hooker for this month was Peg V.  This is only a small sampling of her many lovely hooked projects.

And this is her first rug.  She was good right from the start!

There were many other people's rugs on display.  Our meeting last month was cancelled due to the weather, so there were lots of new rugs being finished.

Here is Marion's completed peacock rug.

Doris is working on her Adam and Eve rug.  She usually hooks pictorials in a fine cut, but this is proof of her versatility.  Here she is using a wide cut to create this delightful primitive.

Isn't Adam cute!

It was an enjoyable meeting, with lots of conversation, sharing of ideas, and wonderful rugs on display.
I'm glad I decided to go.

Several of you asked about Zip's bluegrass workshop on Saturday.
There was a good turnout in spite of the fact that the morning started out with snow coming down.  The activities got started a little late, but everyone made up for it with their enthusiasm.

Most of the class.

I sat in the back and hooked on my mat and talked with a few other 'bluegrass widows'.  The music was enjoyable.  The lectures were interesting even though I don't know beans about music.

Here's Zip!

Almost ready for Nashville, do you think???

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back to the Drawing Board

We had a nice little snow last night.  Not enough to make driving a mess, just enough to make everything white and beautiful.  It was a little more than predicted.

That's why we seldom plan very far ahead at this time of year.  Zip's music instructor is holding an all-day bluegrass workshop tomorrow.  We've been debating for several weeks if he should commit because of the uncertainty of the weather and the fact that it's over an hour drive from our place to Hagerstown, MD.  Finally this morning with the storm seeming to be over, Zip called and registered.  Now there are predictions of three more inches by morning!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get a project ready that will last me all day.  I need to start a rug!

I had been drawing some patterns for a few other people lately, starting with a picture, making a line drawing, enlarging, and then transferring from paper to mesh to backing.

I use a lightbox to create a line drawing from a colored picture.
Notice the black and white Deiter body in the upper right corner!  Love that boy!!!

Then I scan it into my computer and use a really nice program called Irfanview to crop and resize if necessary.  Irfanview is a FREE program that can be downloaded from their website.  I've used it for years to modify my drawings and photos.

Next I measure my small picture.  Then I decide how big I want the finished design to be.  Then I mathematically figure out how much I will have to enlarge the drawing to make it into the finished size and use the Paint program that comes with Windows to print it out.  I then tape the sheets together.

My favorite transferring mesh is a sheer drapery fabric that I purchase at the PA Fabric Outlet.  It's a very fine mesh that is easy to see through when copying the design.  It's also very inexpensive.  Since it's very fine synthetic thread, it doesn't suck all the juice out of the markers.

After I transfer the design to the mesh, I pin it to the backing and draw it on.

I have signed up for the Rug Hooking Daily challenge, 'Grandmother's Trunk'.  While I'm working up my design I plan to photograph the steps for getting a design from the paper to the backing with detailed instructions for people who have never done this before.  I will put it on my website as a tutorial.

Here's the finished design on the backing.

It's been a long and busy day and we must get up early tomorrow to get to the workshop on time.
Should I choose some wool now or wait till morning???

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that Reggie had his neutering (ouch!) surgery on Tuesday and has recovered nicely.  He's flying around the house doing his usual acrobatics.  He doesn't seem to realize he's missing some parts!