Sew fabulous!

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I get excited about things very easily, so when my friend Mary said her granddaughter was coming into town I had a bought of inspiration. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at clothing for a while and just around the same time as I found out Lily was visiting I came across the Perfect Pattern™ for such an occasion! I was rifling through posts at The Cottage Home blog and lo-and-behold there it was. I got to work almost immediately. (The following morning counts right?) And in a couple short days (spits and spats where time permitted), I had a completed Party Dress!

Sadly, the lighting was terrible for progress shots — and I’m awful at taking a moment when in sewing mode to step back and snap a frame. Since it all came together so fast (fast enough that I’ll be able to get it to her before they travel back their long journey home), I’m not too upset about that.

The pattern itself is brilliantly simple and there are so many options for play! I had so much fun choosing the colors and prints (yes, there’s another one to be made) that I almost didn’t make it out of the store.

For Lily, a self-proclaimed “girlie girl” (4 years old and knows darn well who she is and proud of it), there had to be pink. Most assuredly! The texture of the suiting was wonderful, but a bit of a pain to work with. I hate when fabrics won’t lay still and do what I say, when I say it. But I eventually “wrassled it down and hog tied it” into submission.

I learned a couple neat tricks while working on this pattern, particularly about shoulders on a fully lined dress bodice. Learned that slow is fast (though I should already know that one after years of messing up because I got too excited to slow myself down). And I learned that a self-lubricating sewing machine is absolutely wonderful and I no longer feel anxious about having bought it!

I can’t say enough how much I loved this fabric (and I have extra! Scrappy projects here I come)! And the buttons! I got purple ones for the other little dress (for Miss Kassi who will be turning a year old in October). I’m resisting the urge to make a dolly sized one… and a doll to go with it. A hippity hoppity tooth bunny dolly ’cause soon enough Lily’s going to hit that age and all the little baby teeth are going to come popping out and her big-girl teeth are going to start coming in… Ah, children.

And now… the full monty!

Terrible photos, I know, but Miss Capa approves! And on that note, I must be off to deliver the finished product (before Miss Capa decides the dress makes for a wonderfully soft and comfy bed).

Warm regards,
Am

Southern Summer and Surprises

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What an eventful… almost two months! I must confess, blogging in the last bit hasn’t been a priority. But I have very good reason! My dear younger brother and his wife, along with my precious little niece, have been home for a visit! They flew in about a month ago from Okinawa and have been residing with us here at the Cat House. After months of planning, sneaking, and speaking in code, we managed to surprise everyone with none the wiser.

I have to say, it was absolutely wonderful to hold her in my arms. She’s the spitting image of my brother as an infant – and into everything!

In the last bit, we’ve done a little of everything and a lot of nothing. The kids wanted to go and do, see everyone they’ve been missing for the last two years – which I fully understand – but it would have been nice if at least some of the people had come to them. Ten thousand miles is a long way to travel to have to keep traveling once you’re at your destination because other people are too lazy to make any effort. I think a lot of it had to do with my (very young) sister-in-law, honestly. But that’s neither here nor there. I got to see my niece and spoil her rotten, and that’s all that matters.

Kassi and I took a nice nap together while I was laid up after a rather unfortunate incident the other morning. Grandmama rocked her to sleep and then brought her up to snooze with me and the kitties in the Blue Room. I was tickled when she rolled over and hugged my leg in her sleep. Such a sweet baby (especially when she’s down for the count ;) ).

After a rather exciting month, I ended their visit by badly spraining my foot. Didn’t stop me too much, but it had me worried – afraid I had broken it and right before I have to be back at the plant for training! Fortunately, it seems to be getting better (though I think I did a little too much today). I get the feeling I’ll be leery of flip-fops for a while yet.

Ever since the kids got here it’s been hot – very, very hot. The daytime high didn’t get below 105˚F for three weeks, blowing the top at a baking 114˚F one day. And top it all off with no rain. Voluntary water rationing and burn bans went into effect stymying the areas plans for Independence Day celebrations – of course, that didn’t stop the large population of idiots around here from setting off fireworks despite the ban. You’d think with what was happening in Colorado at the time that they’d be a little more cautious (especially since all the grass in the town was crackly brown with not a lick of green to be found), but no… Fortunately that’s over, for now (and is it!). The temperatures are back down into the 90s and for a solid week it has rained! The riverbanks are full to bursting and the yards are the greenest they’ve been all year!

In other (craftier) news…

A new hooky project is in the works… and quite a few more are on the boards. I’m finding myself rather desperate for a good yarn store (all of two in the area and one carries next to no cotton). I’ll admit, while I might be computer savvy and am willing to buy odd finds online, I dislike buying textiles through the internet. They’re never the same color as is on the screen and I can’t put my grubby paws on them to see if I like their texture before I purchase. I hear about all these great brands, wonderful colors… but I’m picky. I really like the feel of Lily Brand Sugar n Cream, but they don’t have all the colors I want (and my most recent green from them feels funny, weirdly stiff and unappealing)… And other brands have wool in them – or I’ll find a color I like but it’s acrylic (I’m allergic to acrylic yarns). Or most annoying yet, a store will advertise Cotton-Bamboo blends but have none in stock. See? Picky. Finicky. And a darned sight more than frustrated I really should let myself be over this.

Ah well, tomorrow is another day… and another yarn shop.

Warm regards,
Am

Miss Me In May

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Sometimes I stop to smell the flowers… and just stay there. I think the hardest part of being unemployed and looking for a job is the depression and anxiety… And I get distracted from things I need to do because I’m busy distracting myself from the D/A. I promised myself when I started this that I’d keep going. And I fully intend to! I just had to give myself a swift kick in the pants and hopefully I’m back on course!

Summer has fully set in at the MidMod house and we’ve been putting our alls into the yard and garden! The walk got a fresh coat of paint and, to the our happy astonishment, looks like we poured new concrete instead! (For which I am truly happy seeing as I can hardly stand a painted walk!) What’s more, not twenty minutes after we’d finished and hied ourselves off for showers did it come pouring down!

It was just a torrent of rain. Heavy, large drops crashing down while thunder rumbled and boomed about… all the while it was brightly sunny. We’re very lucky – the heat had already baked the paint and our efforts weren’t for waste.

On and on and on… steam rising and filling the air. Such a nice way to end a hot summers day. We even were the proud recipients of a stunningly bright and dazzling rainbow or two. (I couldn’t get a clear shot of the double rainbow while we were driving. Poo.)

We sure could use that again! Not that yesterday’s windstorm wasn’t helpful for cooling off, but our newly planted flowers in our newly tilled garden could use some hearty rain full of nutrients! The spiderwort is looking rather ragged and the daylillies are displeased with being transplanted on such a hot weekend.

Between planting things and painting walks, we’ve had some pretty exciting weekends this last month, what with the Blue Angels flying over head…

The light was poor but you can just make out US NAVY on the wing. All 6 of them, right over the top of the house in the final formation. Scared the wits out of the cats and sent them scrambling to hide under cars and bushes. We got a few photos, but most didn’t come out – too overcast and too fast moving.

Last week I learned how to make the non-lap cat into a lap cat. The secret, at least with Miss Capa, is give her a bath! She’ll find her damp way into your dry lap and nest there for an hour. Of course, it meant I had to change pants (again) but it was worth it.

Speaking of worth it! The baby blanket finally arrived in Okinawa (a month later than planned)! I think Kassi likes the bunny more than the blanket and I really wish I’d thought to put a bell or a rattle in its head before stitching it all together. (Maybe next time?) She shakes it around until she lets go of it and it flies off somewhere for her to chase. Reminds me of my cat who likes to play fetch… with herself.

I’m looking forward to seeing them in just a few short weeks. Plans are set and lips are sealed. Surprises await.

Also working on a new hooky project in the form of a Catherine Wheel bag…

Something fun for summer and it’ll allow me experience lining a crochet piece.

Yesterday I took some time to tramp through the woods and experience nature, uncultivated. Five miles of happy trailing filled with rocky river beds and some amazing massive sinkholes… (few of which I got photos of because my battery was dying)… and one teeny tiny…

Mini-mantis! And some wonderful areas of where water sometimes moves…

Phew that was a lot going on… Maybe I’m not so lazy after all? Yeah, I don’t believe myself either. Really enjoying my chair and vantage point… especially as I just watched a woman in a silver Ford stop in front of my house, climb out of the car, and steal the local newspaper out of my driveway in broad daylight.

My dog is giving me the nap-time-eyes and I think I’ll join him. Hope everyone has had a happy May!

Warm regards,
Am

Lazy Lady Living Large

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Say that five times fast. Phew! Must be alliteration day.

Alright, so I thought I’d be better at this than I have been. I didn’t exactly mean to go three weeks without a single post… and while I’ve had time, per se, I haven’t had much to talk about. It’s been rather dull around the Cat House – not that nothing has been going on, but rather it’s just been the same old same old. We’ve planted more in the garden, sealed the drive, and finally finished cutting down the 45-year-old overgrown privet hedge. Nothing to lend itself to photographing or talking about… or things too tiring to have the energy to talk about.

It’s been terribly hot of late – the hottest I’ve seen an April in many a-year. And after many days of overcast heat, muggy and taunting of rain, it finally happened. Watching the steam rise from the pavement was rewarding, even if it was extra humid and still a little too warm.

As well as cooling things off a bit, the rain has given the Yuccas a burst of bloom. Somewhat sad they’ll be moving to a new home here in the near future.

What mother doesn’t know, won’t hurt her. There’s a special reason why I was so intent on getting the guest room turned storage room back into form – other than the obvious one of needing craft space. Indeed, unless the unforeseen happens we will be having guests next month! And for a whole month at that! But it’s hush hush. Loose lips sink ships and while Bev couldn’t manage to surprise Mother for her birthday, I’m a secret keeper and good at it.

Now that I’ve set up the (temporary) crafts room I just had to make something! And what better to do as a one day project than to make a cover for my new Tablet! I should really say that it technically took more than one day (and more than one try) to get the design down since I had to make it up… no Burda or Butterick patterns here.

I had a lot of fun with this, picking the fabrics and putting it together. One try got scrapped, one turned out slightly too small before I had gotten very far and became a pillow cover instead (up-cycling for the win)… and well they do say, third time’s the charm. I do love the colours and I have plenty of scrap to make some other fun projects with – now if I can find that vintage macramé book I know’s around here somewhere!

And lastly… we’ve made headway on the stained glass project! This was a commissioned piece, my first working faux stained glass – and let me tell you, it’s fun and frustrating all at the same time! I’ve had the designed laid out for a while now and was slowly magpie-ing the supplies necessary to get it started. The hardest part, I discovered, is keeping my hand from shaking while squeezing the lead-look stuff out of the bottle. We’re certainly getting there! It’s definitely something I have to work on in spats. I made the mistake of spending a while day lining it and my back and hands paid for it later. I’m really excited about it – the craftiness is one thing, but actually working on an art piece is something I’ve missed… even if I’m not designing jewellery and wielding a torch, it’s still very rewarding to think this will be displayed in someone’s home.

Today, though, it’s planting (potting some palms for the patio) and dentist… hopefully the last I’ll see of him until I get my bridge done in December. Getting rather tired of having a case of numb-face once a week.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Warm regards,
Am

Blast Off!

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This week is vacation week and we’ve been on the go! We scuttled about the yard (putting in a new retaining wall for the front flower beds, cleaned out the garage and the barn, and set to work on sealing the drive) and straightened up the house (you wouldn’t know it for all the mess we pulled back out to organise). But the crown jewel, the most exciting part of the whole vacation, was our visit to the Space Center.

I love crafting, but if there’s one thing I love as much (if not more) than making things with my hands it would be NASA. I lost track of how many times I slipped off to Smithsonian and the Udvar-Hazy Center while living on the East Coast. And now, after nearly 20 years, I have be able to check out Marshall Space Flight Center once again. Next step: Canaveral 2014!

Anyway, we had a blast, took hundreds of photos (a hundred on my phone alone), got within inches of Apollo capsules and moon rocks…

Took a walk in a Rocket Garden…

Stood under 363ft tall 3,349.5ton (6,699,000lb) Saturn V rocket…

Discovered that Tang wasn’t the only official beverage of NASA in the ’60s…

And thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun on a trip. We got to see the mock up for the new Orion spacecraft capsule, dodged mass amounts of school children (alright, so that part wasn’t so fun), took a simulated trip to Mars, and learned just how much space junk is floating above our heads this very instant. We ate Astro Dogs and Gemini Dogs and got our fixes of Frozen Coke and popcorn. Outfitted ourselves in high NASA fashion and spaced out our keychains.

All in all, grand success with the promise of returning in the near future. Such fun! Very much looking forward to doing it again – and soon!

Hope everyone else has had a wonderful week! Take care!

Warm regards,
Am

The cat’s in the bag…

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Well, actually right now she’s on the table, nuzzling me as I type. What’s in the bag is my mother’s birthday present! Sneaky beast that I am, I’ve managed to get it all done while she’s not looking and tatted the bag for an extra special little something. What’s in the bag? (Other than a cat having once been there?) The answer: Shabby Quilted Bunting!

It’s been my secret project for a few days now and I’m super pleased with it! It’s especially for the laundry room, to fill a space she insisted needed another cute sign and “Am could make one for me (nudge nudge, wink wink)”… thus the idea was born. It looks lovely next to her Three Little Kittens Laundry Service placard.

I had to hang it up and give it a test run. (It sure looks pretty in my window… perhaps I shall make one for myself.) I’m tickled at how well it goes with the room it is destined to inhabit.

Such a fun project too! Quilting the little squares together and shabbily appliqué-ing the letters! And it was fast, I honestly surprised myself by only taking a couple days (a few hours at a time) to finish it.

And there you have it, happy bunting to make laundry time prettier! All that’s left is to find some vintage scarves to paper the bag with and it’s ready for gifting! Hurray!

Have a wonderful day!

Warm regards,
Am

Darned good!

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Despite adversity and disappointments in job hunting, root canals and other appointments of doom: It’s done! All the ends are darned, the edge is lacy and girly, the flower is tightly attached, and we’re ready to go! I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. My first blanket! Using the best inspiration possible: auntie’s love. I made some mistakes, but one is bound to with their first version of something. All in all, I think it turned out nearly perfect and I’m satisfied with that. Frilly and pretty and strong enough to withstand the abuse it will have put to it by a growing child.

I even whipped up a little bunny for her as an Easter gift as well as ‘oops it’s late, here’s a bit more’. He was fun to make and another first, venturing into the world of softies/amigurumi.

Hoppy bunny and stripy blanket are ready to get boxed and shipped off to Okinawa. Fair travels, hooky projects! May you make someone very happy for a very long time!

This has been a wonderful adventure! There have been sore hands and sore heads, frustrated scowls and hisses of ‘cachi’, a bit of frogging, and a lot of love and excitement. I’m both glad and sad it’s over. Glad because it can now go to the little girl it was dreamt up for. Sad because all I’ll have left of it is scraps, memories, and photos. I feel really accomplished!

Hope your Monday was as positive!

Warm regards,
Am

Whew, what a week!

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It’s been busy… Between stormy, hooky Thursday (complete with bowls of warm cawl and spongy bread). Super frantic family Friday (filled with homemade blueberry muffins, happy hooky flowers, and bubbling lasagna). Springtime retaining wall building Satruday (boy am I sore!). And lazy antique hunting Easter Sunday (few open places, but we managed a couple hits). I’m pooped! I can hardly believe it’s been four days since I had a moment to sit down with this thing. (I’ll admit to being a little distracted anyway. Half napping, half watching NCIS while my Mam snoozes on the sofa – though she’s the one who suggested we needed a bit of Jethro.)

Despite the rain, we had some pretty mornings. (Missy kept me company in the sitting room as I hooked away. She matches the tea set rather perfectly, I think.)

And some dog-day afternoons. (Indy snuffled around while I took a break to feel the sun on my face.)

And I even managed to sit down and finish the hooky blankie project. All that’s left is to attach the flowers and put it to post! Six plus balls of yarn, 1.200 plus yards, thousands and thousands of stitches, more hours than I bothered counting, and lots and lots of love… all for my darling little niece.

She really is a spunky little thing! Check out those shades! All dolled up for Easter (which was yesterday for them) and crawling through the clover. So serious too! It’s mean business, crawling. I think she’s mad she’s not running yet.

Speaking of running, I best do so myself. Happy holiday!

Warm regards,
Am

Good morning, sleepyhead…

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Capa says, fair weather good morning to ya! It is a lovely Wednesday morning here. The sun is bright, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, the bag of yarn is packed and ready to get to the tasks ahead of me. Oh and my niece is officially 6 months old! Crawling, pulling up, blowing raspberries, teething on teeny Japanese Coca-Cola cans, and generally running my sister-in-law ragged!

After a lazy morning of setting up Instagram for Android (super excited, if you can’t already tell!) and acquiring a Tumblr account (look at me, getting all fancy now) to collect all my pretties on, we’re taking my car to get a quote on fixing my front fender. The poor TARDIS (yep, that’s her name) had a run in with a Land Rover (in an effort to avoid getting punched by a Punch-Buggy) when I was living in Richmond; and now that I’m back home she’s getting dolled up and made pretty again. Long overdue. Hence the traveling yarn bag… The blanket will be done for shipping tomorrow!

Nattering done, I’m off to find the sun… or at the least, find a relatively clean hole in Stevie’s shop where I can crochet as he looks over my poor darling. Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Warm regards,
Am

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary…

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Well, we might be missing the silver bells and the cockle shells… and the pretty maids, but we have the garden! And what a beautiful day for it! Mother and I got out early, sneaking up to the nursery before the rest of the town had roused themselves from their beds. And behold! Floral wonders!

I’m thinking about finding her a garden fairy and sneaking it in amongst the flowers. We were a bit rushed at the end, as the sky darkened a bit and the thunder started rumbling. Of course, it stayed to the south of us and we had to resort to the sprinkler.

We planted the Four O’Clock seeds in the backyard, just like Mama Jean would when I was a child. Hopefully we’ll see them start to grow in the next few weeks.

And just as good as planting new flowers… is watching the Dogwoods bloom! The one out back is a bit sparse, but I think it’s younger and gets a bit less sun. The one out front however…

It’s almost finished blooming, and the petals are beginning to turn and fall… but it’s still gorgeous.

Flower island: planted.
Sweet tea: ready for sipping on the patio.
Baby blanket… is calling me back to hookie time. No Easter arrival for it, but that’s okay. The day was too nice to spend indoors and the flowers were calling. Hope it was as beautiful a day for you too!

Warm regards,
Am