Friday, October 24, 2014

Food and Afghan Friday

My eyes and throat have finally stopped burning, though my nose is still leaking. Onions are cruel. So cruel. But they taste good, so a least I'll get my revenge.

Beef stew, take two.
Of course, I have a small nick from chopping up all those veggies. The thing is tiny, but it bled like crazy, and since it was right on the pad of my finger, it stung like crazy. Fortunately, we still have almost a full box of TMNT bandages.

Believe it or not, I actually have a craft related picture to share, too! It's the only thing I've been working on this week, because I just wanted to get it done.

I love this afghan. I hope the one who ends up with it likes it, too. I will definitely be making one of these suckers for us. It's so warm and soft. It also has some impressive weight to it, which I always find soothing in a blanket

It's been a struggle keeping the cats off of it, though. I didn't want them pulling at the yarn with their claws, even if it is by accident.

Anyway, now I can concentrate on that bat'leth scarf, and the other gifts on my list.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Running Around

I had a filling done today; without Novocaine! Ok, so it was a tiny cavity, and it was mostly painless, but still. I feel all tough.

So, what did I do as soon as I got home from the grocery store?


I totally deserve some spoiling, right? I mean, I hauled close to 20 pounds of groceries two and a half miles after dealing with downtown buses and getting my teeth drilled.

Of course, I did have to take a breather. Here's the view I had from the pedestrian bridge I stopped to catch my breath on.


I live in such a pretty area.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

3 Fun Cat Craft Ideas

I'm a shameless cat person. Hubby and I have three feline kids in our home, all adopted. We spoil them as rotten as we can afford, but since we're far from rich, I make a lot of things for them from low- or no-cost materials.

Here are some of my favorite craft ideas for kitty.

Catnip
New catnip plants on October
21st in Minnesota.
Although this isn't really a craft, strictly speaking, it is extremely easy to grow and dry. Catnip is in the mint family, which means it's one of the first plants to come back in the spring, and one of the last to go dormant in the autumn.

It spreads very easily, and takes next to no effort to cultivate. It embodies all the traits I desire in a plant.
Dried nip

Although you can harvest it almost any time during the growing season, I prefer to cut a lot to dry around mid summer, and again in early to mid-autumn. I'll probably be doing that within the next few days.

Once you wash it and get it as dry as possible, bundle the branches together with the leaves pointing in the same direction, tie some string around the stems, and hang it somewhere out of the way.

The closet in my craft room/office has been working very well. I have used our basement, before, but the cats have figured out how to get at it down there.

Once the leaves and flowers are dry enough to crumble, remove them from the stalks, and store them in a jar or bag for later use. By the way, although catnip can provide hours of entertainment through altering kitty's consciousness a bit, it's also very healing for humans.

Cat Beds
He figured it out!
As mentioned in this entry, cat beds are surprisingly easy to make. Our tabby couldn't wait to get into the one I'd made in that entry, and our tux cat has just figured out how comfortable it is today, as well.

As nice as the crochet bed I made was, you don't need to know that particular art to make a cat bed. There are plenty of tutorials involving skills from sewing to woodworking online.

However, you can get even simpler than sewing a couple of pieces of fabric together and stuffing the pillow. All you'd need is a box, a blanket and something to act as a cushion.

Put them all together, and what do you get? An inexpensive cat fort!

You can even pretty it up with some paints or by gluing fabric to the box.
Cat Toys
Kitties will play with just about anything. They're hardwired to hunt, after all, and batting around a toy works for urban kitties as well as a live rodent would be for farm cats.

Last year, I crocheted a couple of toy mice, and mixed catnip in with the stuffing. Those I'd given the mice to said their cats liked them, and I still occasionally catch our kitties batting one I'd kept.

He's not as interested as I'd hoped. Sure, you'll play when I'm NOT pointing a camera at you.
The beauty of these little toys is that you can make them in so many ways. I used yarn and a crochet hook, but you can sew them, or even just glue felt cut outs together. I plan on giving the felt method a try a little later on.

A friend of mine made birdie toys a little while ago, by gluing feathers and yarn together, then attaching them to a string. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of her work, but the toys looked like they'd be a kitty favorite.

So, what are some of your kitties' favorite toys?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday WIP. So much yarn!

I may or may not have spent most of today knitting, instead of sticking to my to-do list.

Yeah...well. I have a lot of work to do on gifts, so I guess it still needs to be done, right?

Anyway, here's what I've accomplished this week:

This is what I've been working on today, the bat'leth scarf. I kinda screwed the first blade up, since I had a hard time getting the hang of the pattern, but didn't feel like unravelling it and redoing it. It's not TOO terrible, and I don't think it'll be noticeable when it's worn.

Anyway, if I have enough yarn (and time) after finishing this scarf, I may keep it and make a better one to give the person I have in mind. Otherwise, I doubt they'll mind the imperfections. I will have to block this thing like crazy, though, which might help with the shape a little.

 I got almost halfway through this goodie when I ran out of yarn. So frustrating. So, I ordered more and started on the bat'leth scarf.

And guess what arrived in the mail today!


Ooooh, yeah. Maybe I'll be able to finish the goodie next week or this weekend.

And lastly, but not leastly, my pretty blue pumpkin:



I think I'll name him Puffer the Pumpkin. Or maybe Frank. I don't know. It doesn't matter. With it is Bob the Zombie and my first attempt at making a little Leo doll. Bob and Leo hang out with us year 'round.

Now, I should probably get more done on this to-do list, huh?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Make Your Own Blue Pumpkin

This year, I've decided to hand small toys out alongside candy. As a way to cue parents of kids with food allergies, autism or other conditions that prevent them from eating sweets, I thought I'd put a
blue pumpkin out front.

I realize it's supposed to be teal, but as I don't have teal paint, blue it is.

Since I'm not much of a shopper, I decided to make my own.

Here's what you'll need if you'd like to make a pumpkin similar to mine.

Materials
  •  Decorative pumpkin, preferably with a built in light. I got mine from Target for $3.00
  • Acrylic or fabric paint (I used fabric paint left over from these shoes. We'll see if it peels with time)
  • Glitter (Another Target find for $1.00)
  • Newspaper (for quick clean up)
  • Foam brush
Since paint and glitter is involved, a mess will probably happen, so I'd only do this project in an easy to clean area. I ended up doing my painting in our little enclosure out back.

Step One
Spread newspaper on your working surface. That way, once your pumpkin is dry, all you'll need to do is fold the left over glitter into the paper and toss the whole shebang.

Step Two
Squirt some of your paint into the newspaper or a paper plate, and give the pumpkin at least two coats. With this paint, I found that one coat left too many streaks for my liking, but two coats provided enough color to leave just enough streaks to look somewhat rustic.

I didn't bother preserving the black lining of the eyes, nose and mouth, but if you'd like to keep the shading for yours, put some painter's tape over the areas you don't want painted.

Once everything's dry, you can just peel the tape off, and you'll have nice, clean lines between the painted and unpainted areas.

Step Three
Sprinkle glitter liberally. I personally like the messy look, so I just unscrewed my glitter containers, pinched some between my fingers and sprinkled it over by hand. If you'd like more of an even look, some containers have lids with little holes in them from which to sprinkle the glitter. Make sure to do this while the paint is still wet, so the glitter will stick.

You may also be able to spread clear glue, or modge podge, over the dried paint, and roll the pumpkin in a bowl of glitter. I haven't looked yet, but there may be a way to seal the glitter in place, since it will come off on your hands when you first handle your new decoration.

Of course, glitter is messy by default, and I'll probably be finding it around the house months from now, so if you'd rather pass on this step, I don't blame you.

Step Four
Add whatever details you'd like. I decided to experiment with some old blue glitter puff paint, so I drew a couple of spiders, and the veins in the stem. However, kids can use stickers, or you can make your own little decorative touches.

In fact, while I was in Target, I noticed quite a variety of craft supplies, including googly eyes, small containers of paint, and twine. You can get very creative with those things alone!

Step Five
Let dry, and enjoy! The paint I used dried within a couple of hours, but different types of paint have different drying times.

Of course, this simple craft is good for all colors. If you're a fan of awareness campaigns, October is dyslexia, cancer, breast cancer and bullying awareness month, so if you want to show your support with appropriately painted pumpkins, here's the way to do it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Creepy-Cute-Cool Eyeball Crafts

Now, I do my best not to be judgmental about things people do to their bodies, but some things, like contact lens jewelry, just make me squirm in the least enjoyable way possible.

Just...NO. Don't DO that.

I have absolutely no problem with lenses with outrageous colors. In fact, I think those are pretty cool. If I needed contacts, I'd probably try getting at least one pair to wear when I feel like getting a reaction from people, but I can't cope with things actually hanging off of the lens.

ANYWAY. How about some fun Halloweeny eye arts and crafts to get our mind off of the disgust associated with sparkly things dangling from living eyeballs?

Glow-in-the-Dark Jewelry
I featured EyeGloArts back when I was still doing monthly shop features. Since then, I've been following them over on Facebook. This weekend, Lorraine posted this awesome peice there.

Reptile Red Glow in the Dark Eye Pendant
Seriously, how fun is this? It's perfect for Halloween, or anyone who likes wearing these sorts of goodies year round. If you haven't already, check out her shop. She has a ton of amazing things there.

Eyeball Bows
These are so cute! I found this super easy tutorial on YouTube that tells you how to make your own.

One of these days, I'll have to pick up some white clay and some paints to give it a try. I may end up just making a couple of duct tape bows for our Halloween kitties.

Eyeball Lights
Landee, over at Landeelu posted a great tutorial of how to make your own string of eyeball lights. Check it out here!

This is another one I'll need to try one day. I think I'll bookmark it and see if I can get some clearance lights after the holiday season ends.

Of course, there are countless edible eyeball recipes that involve everything from lychee to cookies and gelatin. There's something visceral about disembodied eyes that make them perfect for Halloween shenanigans!