Monday, September 26, 2011

How cats fill a home…

Cats fit in tents set up in the living room… even if the tent is small and filled with toys, pillows, blankets and a sleeping child.


Cats fit in places you did not know you needed cats, like on top of doors.



They always fit on snuggly blankets.


They have some of their own spaces


But generally prefer the space you are occupying


Brian keeps telling us that he wants a queen bed at our next home, he is a tall kid, and I can see where he might need the extra room some nights.


They also take over technology. Ninja helps Honor use the mouse.


And Pixie had to ‘help’ me clean out my keyboard (actually, she just reeaallly really wanted the pipe cleaner and didn’t want to wait for me to be finished with it)


Friday, September 23, 2011

Dressing up and Feeling down

I ordered this little dress, a casual summery thing, because it looked light and comfy, and I liked the cheery colors. As soon as it arrived and I unwrapped it, Honor ran off with it and was the first to wear it. She liked the colors, that she could spin around in it, and how it flowed when she played in it!



Eventually I got it back. We dressed up last weekend to go to a little gathering at our neighbor’s house. Her new baby grandson was being blessed and we were invited, along with all of the ladies from her church and family, to attend.


It was nice to be included for such a special event, and we were going to stay  for breakfast after the blessing, but during the service, Brian, who had been fine earlier, as well as the day/week prior(!), turned to me and said that his throat hurt. He had become fevery hot too. So we excused ourselves (it was a huge crowd, so I didn’t feel too bad about leaving) and took him home. Fortunately we had never come close to the baby! We’d been off in our own little corner of the crowded room.

His sore throat turned into a really bad bout of bronchitis and asthma :( Poor kiddo. We may have caught it and kicked it sooner, but at first the doctors thought it was viral (but not strep though) as there was no congestion the first two days. That kicked in the 2nd night, so we finally got him on antibiotics the 3rd day. He missed an entire week of school, including a much anticipated field trip on Thursday to the Dead Sea. Poor guy.

We also had to drag Brian around town to see specialists, as during a chest xray to rule out pneumonia, (he had a very nasty cough and asthma symptoms), it was discovered that his heart is not where we thought it was! After seeing a cardiologist to rule out problems – it was determined that he has what looks to be a simple dextroposition of the heart. We could relax and just treat the illness he was dealing with.

At least he enjoyed hanging out and playing video games all week. His dad gave him the 4th Elder Scrolls PC game to play, Oblivion ( and he’s loving it. He also did a ton of reading, so that part of his homework from the missed week of school is covered! He finished the novel Saucer, by Stephen Coonts, which was not a typical Coonts novel, it was more young adult than adult, and it read like a fast paced sci-fi action movie. Brian really enjoyed it.

He’s feeling better this weekend fortunately, although unfortunately, he now has to put the game away and get some homework done. He was feeling a bit better toward the end of the week and we went in and got some of his make-up school work so he won’t start next week too far behind. He was also feeling good enough Thursday to have his appetite back, and decided that because he’d missed out on his awesome field trip, he should get to decide dinner. He chose Chinese/Thai delivery, plus homemade brownies (cake brownies) and homemade vanilla ice cream. I thought that was an awesome choice! I didn’t have to cook dinner, nor did I have to cook dessert! Brian made the ice cream, and Honor made the brownies!!


Unfortunately, today I’m the one who is sniffling and sneezing and feeling ill… bleargh… guess that’s what I get for hanging out with a sick kiddo all week. That’s ok though… he’s definitely worth it!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two Good Ways to Relax

One - Just chillin out, as Pumpkin demonstrates so well…


and Two - cooking with the help of a sweet daughter. Honor loves to help.


Our stove is on an obnoxious platform, 4-5”, which makes it higher than what I think safe for the kids to use (I burn myself, so I know they would), but it’s nice to have help with the food prep. Honor likes to make salads, and she is learning to help with bread dough too.


We made a good sized batch of dough, and with half of it we made mini sausage rolls. With the rest, we made fetayer. We didn’t use any specific recipe… just a bunch of spinach, spices, a bit of feta cheese, all rolled up in dough and baked. It is the BEST way to get my kids to devour spinach. Sorry, no photos of the finished rolls… as often happens with my cooking projects, the ‘evidence’ gets eaten before I remember the camera… 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cat News

Despite the fact that our cats will fuss and wrestle and fight at times, and have they their moments of sibling jealously, they really do love each other. Yea… busted being sweet…


Speaking of being busted… we had an incident with a small Siamese cat peeping in our windows, trying to get inside the house, and yowling at us for attention. Our cats really wanted nothing to do with her, but this little cat was starving, and desperate for someone to love! I don’t ever feed feral cats, but there was something about this one that made me think it had been a pet, but got lost or was abandoned. Our vet supplied a trap and offered to help find her a home.

All I had to bait the trap with was cat kibble. I hoped the Siamese would go for it quickly, but we caught other cats instead. A large adult cat checked it out during the day, but scooted away in fear. It came back when it was dark and got caught. When I opened the cage door, it ran like crazy and did not come back. A small cat (maybe 4-6 months) trapped itself 5-6 times. It was terrified of us, so I think it may be too wild to tame, but it didn’t mind coming back to the scary trap and people in order to get more cereal. I was wondering where our target was, as I released the young cat and reset the trap for the umpteenth time, when I heard a happy, questioning meow behind me. It was the Siamese running up to me, thrilled to have me outside. I started to go inside, hoping it would find the food in the trap, but it had seen the small cat, maybe the larger cat too, and was afraid… it dashed under a ledge. So I stayed outside and talked it into coming over and checking out the trap. It was very clever. It was ok with rubbing against the outside of the cage, but knew not to trust the inside. It stretched in as far as it could, over the trip plate(!), and batted some cereal out, then hopped out to eat. Smart! I gave up trying to get her in the trap that night, put out a bowl of water for her (all the cereal made her very thirsty!) and went in.

Anyway, by morning, she was really hungry. Too hungry to be careful. She’d been crying at us through the bars of an open back window when we woke up, but when we looked out at the trap later, found that she’d gone around to the side and got herself caught.  Not a very happy cat! But she wasn’t totally freaking out like the other two had.


DSC01321  I got her to the vet asap and they took her in, bathed her, checked her out and gave her meds. Last I heard, she has a new family! She definitely wanted one! If we had room/ability – and most importantly, if our other cats had liked her (NO! They do NOT like outside cats!) – we would have kept her, she was that cute, but we are very, very happy that she found another family.

She probably would have enjoyed TV time with the kids like our cats do. Ninja demonstrates:



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer is officially over!

This has been a wonderful summer! We’ve had a lovely, busy, lazy, productive and play-filled long break, but I think that even the kids were beginning to look forward to a ‘real’ routine again. Just in time, school has started!


Third and sixth grades this year! Brian is officially a middle schooler. They were excited to go… but Ninja *knew* that something no good was up. She’s been crying during the day now after her kids disappear on the bus!


oh… and no worries… we made sure they had all their supplies in order. I had the best box sifters and stuff checker-outers go over it with me the night before the 1st day of school.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Quilt, Chair, and Honor vs Robot

The kids have completely organized their rooms, they’ve been practicing their homework skills, we’ve been working on getting back to a real schedule, and they’ve been indulging in a few last all day PC game marathons, reading, and watching their favorite DVDs etc. before school starts again. Honor has been going through the movies, Brian has discovered detective shows like CSI and Castle. Summer is almost over. 

We’ve been keeping very busy playing lately, and play, for me, means crafts! I’ve been cleaning out my ‘to-do’ repair pile, and I also managed to cover this chair. This crazy shaped (not commercially coverable!) olive drab with fleur de lis (really.) wing chair. Here is a ‘before’ photo, best viewed partially covered with cute cats (aka mom’s ‘helpers’).


This needed … something. Also, almost cut out of the photo, but look below the 3” thin seat cushion… photo above… right where the back of your leg hits the chair is a barely padded board. I had to do something about that. I had a dark brown throw that matched the sofa covers. I’d tossed it over the chair, but it never stayed on. Because I don’t really know what I am doing, I decided to chop that up and make a cover for the chair rather than invest in yards of new fabric. I figured that if I totally hosed up, I’d feel less guilty about having to toss it all out! For a novice like me, it made it a lot easier to just dive into the project! I had made a more simple cover for a more sanely shaped chair awhile back, but this one was more challenging. Here is the result!


Ok… it’s a bit floppy. More than a bit. But hey, it matches the rest of the saggy floppy old furniture that came in this apartment :p We’re not winning any fashion decor contests with any of this stuff anyway, so what the hey?! Also, it’s brown now, not blah-green with funky florets. I made it baggy on purpose because this chair is used, a lot, and I know how my family sits… Not. Still. … a form fitted cover would rip off in a week. The seat cushion looks popped up a bit because it is. I made a second cushion, measured to fit under the seat, about 2-3” in height, filled with scraps of solid/tough material that won’t compact into nothingness. I am sure it will go down a bit with use, but in the meantime it’s much more comfortable and keeps our legs off that stupid board in the front. I am disappointed with how it looks – but I knew I would be. Didn’t like the chair or the fabric. But I am quite tickled with myself for simply making this thing! It was quite a project to pull together and I feel like I learned a lot from doing it.

Speaking of learning, I am still working on my first quilt and should share some progress. I cut all of my pieces, have put all my blocks together, and even added the border! Now I need to order the fill and backing material and get to the actual quilting process.

I found some mistakes in my piecing, and I think part of it was in the pressing… too much pressing… which may have stretched the fabric in places before I cut. I need to press more gently, I believe, as even with carefully using paper thangles, some pieces were a tiny bit off. A tiny bit here and a tiny bit there, matters. And it might be my machine… sewing in a straight line really isn’t that hard(!), but it seems to pull to one side sometimes and I am only going to re-do a piece so many times before walking off! It’s a rather old machine. I’m not sure, but maybe taking it apart and giving the insides a good clean will help. Anyway, they are very minor issues, meaning, a few places where my angles are not as ‘precise’ as they might have been. I doubt seriously that my kids will care :) They just want the finished quilt, and I am in a hurry to get it put together and see how the process goes, from the piecing to final binding.

Here is my sewing center – a desk where I can leave the machine up and ready to go at all times! (Note: Sewing scissors and seam ripper at the ready… poor things got a workout ;p !)


My quality control inspector, testing for comfort – these pieces passed inspection.

Btw – the little ‘dots’ on the brown, blue and yellow fabric are paw prints and are made to go with the cat print fabric. Keeping in theme, I am thinking of hand quilting with a paw print design. Prints walking around the border at any rate… I’m still deciding the pattern for the main body of the quilt. 


The blocks assembled; pre-border. Pixie is modeling, to show scale.


And after the border is added… the border really pulls the whole thing together. I wasn’t so sure I’d like these fabrics, even though the cats are cute. I was out-voted on this one! I like how it’s come out though. Pixie shows up to help model again… and because she always shows up on top of anything I am working on.


I am not the only one being creative. Honor’s current hobby of choice is writing stories on the computer and illustrating them. She’s been using a commercial Storybook software, sometimes, and other times she uses Word and Paint. Her current theme has been some short stories about a robot and his kitten. She found an old RC robot toy of Brian’s to play with, but it really wasn’t working properly, so I got out Brad’s old Robosapien V2. I got this for him 4-6 years ago - kind of as a gag gift, kind of as a ‘toy for dad to entertain the little kids with’ - he hasn’t had much use unfortunately. The lighting in our old place simply was not good enough to encourage him to function properly, and he was put away. With Honor being so fascinated with robots though, I got him down, gave him batteries and powered him up. Then I got the camera, and gave Honor the remote. Here’s how that intro went:

I can see more stories happening… !