Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Needy Kitty

This little guy seems to have a vested interest in not allowing me to get work done today.

First, I wake up to this cuteness curled up with me under the covers this morning.

And now, he bugs me until I play his favorite game with him - Fetch the Food.


Yes, I really need to get some cleaning done. If I can get through my writing to-do list with this needy kitty, maybe I'll actually get to the vacuuming and whatnot.

Monday, October 27, 2014

DIY Geek Gift Ideas

I love my geek goodies
For the past couple of years, I've gotten in the habit of starting my holiday crafts a bit early. By "a bit", I mean "August" and "October". It's less about being a holiday crazed person, which I'm not, and more about getting enough done early enough that I'm not stressed beyond belief by the time December rolls around.

This year, I've decided to get a little geekier than I usually do when it comes to presents. Here are five faves that I've either done, or plan on trying.

Turtle Crochet Pattern
This is the crochet pattern I came up to make my little turtle key chains. Although the pattern itself only entails the turtle part, the TMNT headbands, belts and arm/leg bands are very simple to do, as well.

I personally knit them, by casting on four stitches for each, and knitting stockinette until they were long enough to fasten onto the dolls. I then secured them in place with hot glue. For the masks, I just made button holes large enough to show the eyes. They can just as easily be crocheted, or sewn out of bits of fabric.

Leo and Donnie are still for sale in my shop, by the way.
Towel Messenger Bag
Do I have any Douglas Adams fans reading this entry? I personally love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I now always know where my towel is, because of it.

If you happen to have a Hitchhiker's fan in your life, check out this great messenger bag tutorial. It looks extremely easy, so you'll only need minimal sewing skills.

Bat'leth Knitting Pattern
I'm currently working on this one as a gift for someone. This pattern would be pretty challenging for beginners, but if you've been knitting for a while, it's relatively easy to follow. You'll need to know how to knit short rows, reduce, increase and join different knit parts together.

Fortunately, there are a couple of tutorials included in the pattern itself, which makes it a bit easier to do. Here's how far I was with it the week before last.

I've made quite a bit of progress since then, and I might actually finish it this week.

Floppy Disk Coasters
If I can find cork coasters in time, I think I might make these for someone, this year. You won't need any kind of sewing, knitting or crochet skill, only tracing and some rough drawing. These are some of the cutest DIY home deco crafts that I've seen in a while.

Duct Tape Laptop Sleeve
Last, but certainly not least, is a beloved duct tape craft. Not only does it hold the world together, but you can make some pretty awesome crafts out of the stuff. Now that it comes in such a wide array of colors and patterns, it's a great choice for fashionable accessories, too.

This laptop sleeve is great for computer users on the go, and have slightly quirky tastes. The tutorial looks very easy, and rather inexpensive, to boot. I might just give this one a try for myself.

Geek life can be so much fun, especially when you toss a little DIY magic in for good measure.

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.

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?