Self-Care Bonanza – The Geek Side

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This has been one of the most stressful weeks I’ve had in a while. Beyond the regular stresses that come with budgeting and running a household, we discovered one of our kitties had something wrong with her on Tuesday night.

Fortunately, our awesome vet was able to get us in on Wednesday, and with fears of something terrible fluttering in our chests, we brought her in. Our sweet little tabby had something going on that’s seen much more often in dogs – impacted anal glands. Gross, I know. Not much fun to treat, either, but nothing serious.

A tabby cat curled up on a white, plush chair.So, she’s enduring sitz-baths for the next few days and some rather uncomfortable salve application for four more days. At least she’s slowly starting to feel better and getting more treats than usual.

The vet also suggested giving her a little fish oil once a day, so I’m looking for something she won’t turn her nose up at, since the stuff I take is pretty strong smelling once out of the caplets.

Anyway, although it was a huge relief to find out she’ll be alright, the stress was bad enough to cause me some pretty nasty pain this morning. I woke up with upper back, neck and headpain, all of which happen when I get stressed out.

Fortunately, I was able to sleep in a little bit this morning before enjoying coffee out of my new favorite mug while watching an episode of Quantum Leap.

A clear glass mug filled with coffee with a picture of the Ninja Turtle Raphael in front of a slice of pizza on it and the words "All I want for Christmas is Pizza!" in red.Quantum Leap has some great episodes, but I’m getting to a few that are pretty mediocre. I continue to be entertained at what the writers think people dressed like in the late 20th century, though.

The character Al from Quantum leap in red pants, a white shirt with black cuffs, a black vest, a black and red striped tie and a red fedora.It’s hilarious looking back at what science fiction writers thought people of the future will wear when you’ve lived through that future. It’s pretty obvious this show was written in the late ’80s and early ’90s based on Al’s wardrobe alone.

I’m feeling much better now. After a little stretching, I was able to get on with my day.

What did you do for self-care this week? Share in the link-up below!


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DIY Upcycled Cat Bed – Tutorial Try

As I’d mentioned last week, I’ve been thinking about making some cat beds for our kitties, one of which is currently begging as hard as he can for my mashed potatoes.

Our tabby loves this thing. I’ve since
rearranged the blanket a little so
they can nestle into the bed more.

No, kitty. These are MY mashed potatoes.

Anyway, yesterday, I decided to give it a try with this crochet tutorial over at The Zen of Making. Since I have a thing for upcycling, too, I thought I’d use the beat up bed sheets we no longer use and some fabric I already have for the lining.

As you can probably see from the picture, a full sized fitted and flat sheet don’t provide quite enough material for the entire bed, but adding the complimentary color a little early isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The tutorial itself is very easy to follow, and Haley provides some great pictures to illustrate what needs to be done.

Since I don’t own a cutting mat, my strips ended up somewhat uneven, which is why the bed ended up a bit oddly shaped. I think the lopsidedness gives it character, and our cats don’t seem to mind.

As for time, crocheting the bed didn’t take me very long, since it is only twelve rounds. Cutting the fabric, however, took me quite a while. Part of that was because my hand started hurting about halfway in, but another part was two of our cats decided to “help”. Overall, I think it only took me about four hours from cutting the fabric to finishing the crochet.

That’s Legend of Korra playing in the background. I’ve found Avatar action is a good supplement to craftiness.

You do need some basic crochet skills for this one, and a Large Hook, but if you have some fabric on hand, a cat in need of a new bed and some time on your hands, I suggest giving this tutorial a try!

Here are a few of my progress shots:

The ball on the right is the flat sheet. I cut out the elastic and corners of the fitted sheet before cutting it into strips.
The bottom of the cat bed.
I had moved into the living room to watch Gotham and Sleepy Hollow while finishing this bed up. Our tabby got impatient and didn’t want me to keep working on it.
There we have it. It’s not molded here, and there’s no blanket in it, yet, but she was still happy to try it out.

Art Assignment #7

Yesterday’s migraine stopped me from posting here, or doing much of anything for that matter. Before I gave up on being productive, I stumbled upon the seventh challenge for The Art Project.

For those not in the know, The Art Project is a social activity put on by PBS, in which artists “assign” tasks to complete. I’ve already done the third assignment, which was to capture something intimate and indispensable to you in gif format. I posted that result here, on my other blog.

The seventh assignment, which you can watch for more information on youtube here, was to go to this webpage, click on the “Try Me” button, and do whatever comes up.

Here’s what I got:

Hmm…ok. I’m crafty. Our unfinished basement is a lonely place, and I have quite a bit of yarn that has yet to be used.

So, I brought some yarn, a blanket and my camera to a cold, lonely corner of my future office.

Lumber yet to be used.

This is the riveting view I had from my lonely little corner.

Yes, that’s a keg in the background. No, there’s nothing in it. Yes, it was left here by the previous owner when we moved in here 10 years ago. She also left us 20 lbs of sand mixed with nails and hunks of concrete.

Friendship bracelet in progress.

I used to make these types of bracelets all the time when I was a kid. I don’t know why, but I’ve always enjoyed braiding things. I stabilized this one by tying the yarn around my middle finger, and letting the ends hang down along my palm.

See? Making something in my palm. The palm with a feint, lonely freckle. (Weird place for a freckle.)

All went quietly, and slightly coldly, when suddenly, I got company.

KHAN!

He’s almost always with me when I’m home, so knew it was only a matter of time. Poor baby was all kinds of confused, since I usually only go into the basement to do laundry, clean the cat box or harass hubby when he’s playing on his computer.

It wasn’t to last. We all know what happens when cats and yarn meet.

(Pardon the poor video quality, black stain on the right of the screen and clicking noises. The camera’s old, there’s lens damage and it was never all that great at taking video.) 

He made finishing the bracelet a little more difficult than it needed to be, but hey, I got to the end. It was a bit sloppy, but I like the color contrast between white and red was nice. It also stood out nicely against the relative gloom of our basement.

I probably should have brought a pair of scissors with me, huh?

So, sound the fanfare and break out the power tools, I’ve completed Art Assignment 7!

Fun Friday…Crafts!

I couldn’t think of an “F” word with the correct meaning.

Ah well.

SO! This week has been the week for making adorable little dolls.

Remember that super cute kitty tutorial I tried last month? Well, I made another kitty for my mother in law!

Such a cute little surprise kitty.

She rather liked it. I also liked how this one turned out better than the first one. That sewing pin tip really worked!

Today, I finished the Leonardo Ninja Turtle for my hubby’s Valentine’s Day gift.

He turned out SO CUTE. Hubby got a giggle out of this little guy, too. I may need to make myself a Raph. His shell will be a little bigger, though, and his arms will be less lopsided.

As for renovations, hubby was able to redo the walls in the bathroom-to-be.

Basically, he just made some more room for the toilet and sink. We found a masticating unit, which means we won’t need to do much digging, if any at all.

Exciting stuff, huh?

Anyway, what are my big plans for the day? Hopefully grocery shopping, since the last bagel was moldy, and all we have to eat is ham, ramen, bread, rice and assorted condiments.

Yep.

We’re such romantics!

Tutorial Try – Kitty Got My Key

This weekend, I got to go to one of my niece’s third birthday parties. We didn’t know it was happening until about three days before it did, so the notice was pretty short.

Since we’re in the midst of remodeling our home, and it’s cold enough outside that staying home as much as possible is a good idea, I decided to make a last minute gift for her. Since she’s all about seeing her grandparents’ kitties, I figured I’d find a pattern for a kitty.

Lo and behold, I came across this one!

I actually had an extremely easy time with it. The project itself is very simple, and the instructions are very clear. I especially like how Ana specified where to put the eyes, since I tend to have huge problems with placement.

(I let hubby choose the eye color.)

Why is it always so creepy when only the eyes are in place?

Really, the only problems I ran across had nothing to do with the pattern itself. My issues had to do with the yarn I had on hand.

See those cute little white socks? When my mom brought all the yarn she did from my grandmother’s house, I had no idea the vast majority of it was baby weight or lighter. The weight on that yarn is the heaviest it got, so I had some issues selecting the best yarn for this project.

Anyway, it worked out.

The other problem I had was nose placement.

It ended up way off center, but I couldn’t tell until I had it done. Does anyone have pointers on how to establish feature placement on faces? I don’t know if it has something to do with my spacial visualization skills or just lack of experience.

In any case, my niece really liked it, as did my mother in law and the project didn’t take that long to complete. I made this little cutie the night before the party, and it took me around an hour, if that. I’ll probably make a few more of these little cuties in the future.

Yule Tree, WIP and Cat

I didn’t get nearly as much done as I wanted to this week. I ended up with a respiratory bug and had some snow to shovel earlier this week, so I’ve been moving a little more slowly than usual.

I did get a start on an experimental garland that I may end up writing a how-to about, depending on how it turns out. So far, I have most of two snow flakes made.

This one’s turning out much bigger than I thought it would. Khan also almost claimed it as his own personal play toy.

There will be a clearer picture of this one in a future entry. I just couldn’t seem to get one of it for some reason this morning.

Otherwise, my crafting hasn’t been very exciting. I did manage to replace my first zipper last night. Hubby works outside, and the zipper went on his jacket. Why get a new jacket when it’s just the zipper that went?

Guess who helped pin it in place.

Hah! Hah hah! Hah. It wasn’t a good idea to attempt this while utterly exhausted. This is an extremely busy time of year for the hubby’s work, and since he works outside, I wanted to get the thing fixed for him before he had to leave this morning.

Removing the old zipper and pinning the new one in place went alright, exempting the ‘help’ from Khan the Kitty Konquerer, but it took a while to do.

By the time I had actually gotten to the sewing machine, it was pretty late, and I was very tired. It was ridiculously hard to sew in a straight line, and I ended up with the seam ripper again a number of times.

When the bobbin ran out of thread, I wanted to scream. I couldn’t, since hubby was already in bed at that point.

I got it done, though! It’s not the prettiest of jobs, but it’s functional.

Otherwise, I did finally get our tree up! Here, have a couple of pictures.

Yes, we have TMNT ornaments.

 I feel this picture demonstrates Leo’s personality nicely. He’s got the gift of arrogance confidence, but still doesn’t see himself as good enough. Raph’s just in the background, annoyed at the whole situation.

Woops. Did this Raphael fan just irritate some Leonardo fans? Teehee.
 

Laser eyes!

Adorable little monster lurking under the tree. If I get the garland made, there will be at least one full scale shot of the tree.

Ridiculously Easy Homemade Cat Toys

Our tabby on the prowl.

Cats are one of the most common companions in America and around the world. The Egyptian goddess, Bast, is famous for her iconic connection to felines, and our kitty friends have been a source of lore
for centuries.

It can be challenging to keep them entertained, though. When they get bored, they’ll find ways of entertaining themselves, and usually destruction follows in their path. So, here are some extremely simple ways to keep them entertained when you can’t spring for new toys or don’t want to come home to a mess at the end of the day.

Boxes
This one might seem like a no-brainer to veteran cat owners, but keeping a small collection of boxes available for your cats to hide or play in will keep them occupied for a while. After we go to Cosco and get the huge boxes of soda cans, we leave the boxes out for the kitties to explore.

I’ve found that leaving two or more out usually works pretty well with our adorable demons, because they seem to think the box they’re not hunkered down in must be better. It’s especially fun to have the openings of the boxes face each other.

Another good idea is to move the boxes every few days, or swap them out for new ones, so the cats always have new scents and environments to explore.

Plastic Containers
Put paperclips or something else that’s small and hard into empty pill bottles or tic-tac cases. This makes for some great rattling toys for the cats to bat around. The combination of the noise and the way the thing skitters entices kitty to give chase and wear themselves out when you can’t pay attention to them.

However, it’s a good idea to put them somewhere the cat can’t get at them at night, unless you’re a deep enough sleeper to ignore the noise they make. Put them in the above boxes for fun surprises.

Left Over String or Yarn
Tie a span of string to any sort of stick, like the knitting needle I used in the above video, for a quick toy for kitty to chase and leap at. Khan isn’t two years old yet, so he’s very young and has massive amounts of energy, but that doesn’t mean I do. You can also tie something to the end of the string to make a ‘fishing pole’ type of toy as well.

Some cats like to eat string, which can cause deadly blockages in their intestinal tracts, so be careful to keep it out of their reach when you’re not around.

As much as we love our cats, sometimes they drive us nuts, but a few basic additions to keep them occupied will make it a little easier to handle some of their more annoying quirks.

How to Take Measurements Without Tailor’s Tape

If you enjoy making commissions, you may already know that some, like my gauntlets, require specific measurements to ensure proper fit. If you knit or crochet clothing of any sort, you also know that you need at least a rough estimate of how large or small you need to make it.

I find TMNT pencils and rulers work best.
We’ll not mention they were all I had on hand at the time.

Most people who already make their own clothing or clothes for others already have tailor’s tape handy, but if you don’t, there are ways around it.

You’ll need four things at most to get the measurements you need:

  • String (preferably light colored)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler, Yardstick or Tape Measure
  • Scrap paper

I’ve recruited the help of my Styrofoam head model, Roberta. Of course, when she wears a mustache, she becomes Robert, since inanimate objects don’t have gender identities.

Anyway.

Step One: Wrap the String
Since we’ll be measuring for a hat band, pull the string around the back of the head and overlap the ends in the center of the forehead, then mark with your pencil where they meet.

Yellow isn’t really her color.

Step Two: Clear Feline Helpers From the Area
Granted, this step is optional, since not everyone has cats. There are three in the house, and two of them got curious. However, our tux cat was the stubborn one.

I cleverly allowed him to strangle me with the pull to my hoodie while I moved the string and ruler to the side, so I could shoo him off the table.

The cat that makes me go *hurk*.

Step Three: Measure String
If you have a tape measure, this step is pretty simple. All you need to do is line up the mark you made on the string with the beginning of the tape measure and see what number the end of the string ends.

Shorter rulers are much more common, but they’re usually not long enough to measure the entire length in one go. In this case, start by aligning the mark on the string at the beginning of the ruler, then pick the string up where it hits the end of the ruler.

Taking the first measurement.

You will then move the string pinched between your fingers to the start of the ruler. Keep track of how many times you do this until you either run out of string, or it’s not long enough to reach the end of the ruler.

Write down how many inches or centimeters that last measurement is and how many times you cycled through the length of the ruler.

Step Four: Calculation
This is where simple math comes in.

Multiply the length of the ruler by how many times you cycled through its length. Then add the final measurement to that number, and you’ll have your measurement!

In this case, I cycled through 3 times. The final time, I got 2.5 inches, and the length of the ruler is 6 inches.

6×3=18
18+2.5=20.5

If I were to make a hat for Roberta, I’d need to make the band 20.5 inches around.

It may be a little more complicated to use this method for larger measurements, but it will work as well as if you had tailor’s tape handy!

Stubborn cat.