Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Feet of a Creative Type

Is this what the feet of a creative type look like?
Actually I am trying to stretch my shoes out with some new super-spray that promises miracles.  I'm wearing heavier socks for maximum stretching.  I couldn't find two matching socks so gave up and have spent the afternoon strolling through the house mis-matched.  Folded Ear Cat is not taken aback by my failing fashionista grade.

Perhaps this look says, "Can't be bothered to spend the time matching my socks - too busy crocheting"?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bainbridge Fabric Found

On my recent tourist-close-to-home day a ferry ride away on Bainbridge Island I wandered into Eileen's Fabrics and just as I was about to have some fabric but I remembered to look in the basket of smaller fabric swatches.  I know you quilters probably do this all the time, but for those of you who hadn't thought of it - you can often find smaller pieces of fabric already cut for good prices.  Here's what I found:

I'm always on the lookout for unique cat fabrics which I can make into catnip toys or potholders. These will do nicely and I didn't need to ask for them to be cut!  They were just waiting for me to take them home.

Vintage Buttons - Stash Update

I got distracted last weekend shortly into my walk just a few streets from home by a big sign "Button Sale."  OMG!  Walk paused while my feet led me right in that door.  Not that my stash needed any additions, but I always like to have a stash of lovely buttons on hand (and yarn, and fabric).  Maybe I am a stashaholic, but you never know when you might need a beautiful button to complete a project, am I right?

Tell me if you don't think these are gorgeous vintage pearl buttons.  Well, I take that back, don't tell me because I am in love with these buttons of gloriousness.

And vintage glass buttons, too.  I was in heaven!

Yes, I went back for day #2 of the sale and added some more buttons to my bag.  Sometimes you buy the buttons . . . and then you come up with a project in which to use them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do These Eyes Freak You Out?

I'm trying out some more realistic safety eyes for my amigurami cats and I don't know what it is, but they kind of freak me out.  What about you?
I hope when completely assembled with a nice, embroidered nose those eyes will blend in with the rest of the face, but otherwise I'm going back to the regular safety eyes.  Yikes!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cat Days of Summer

Folded Ear Cat enjoys some September sun between the roses and lavender.

Just a cat and her sunshine spending a little quality time together.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Where's the Yarn?

This is where I do my crocheting and creating.  Until a couple of days ago, bags and bins of yarn covered my coffee table and surrounded my chair on all sides.  

Then I ordered and assembled this enormous piece of furniture from Sears - and my yarn and crafting accoutrements are now mostly snugged away in the generous bins.  They are close enough to easily reach, but I don't feel like I am swamped by yarn.  The best part is that some of the bins are still empty!

Creative People in a Room

This is what a room filled with creative people looks like.  You can't hear it, but it is buzzing with conversations and connections as well.  Had a great time today at Schoolhouse Craft.  More creativity continues tomorrow, so join us!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sheepish, or Unrepentant?

I was taking some action shots for Etsy and at first amurigami cat appears to be repentant on his Time Out bench, although I'm unsure what mischief he had gotten into.
But the next moment, he is waiting for birds to appear, though given the bird houses' placement indoors, he will wait for a very long time and be disappointed.
No birds for you to harass, my friend!

Fall Garden Projects

We are having a simply lovely, warm, sunny September in Seattle and before I start my new job I've been completing some garden projects I've been planning all summer and pruning back some plants that have passed their prime.

My potted lavender needed a new pot where it could spread out, as its clay pot lost most of its integrity over the winter.  Here's its replacement.

Notice my attempt at squirrel deterrent, i.e., strategic placement of spiky sticks to make it a bit harder for them to enjoy digging in the new dirt.  Boy, do squirrels love some fresh dirt to dig in, the cheeky devils.

My plan is to take out that whole strip of grass about a foot deep and replace it with pavers and potted plants.  We're trying to cut back on the grass (and mowing) a bit at a time.

I thought the purple plant added a bit of color to the mostly grayish foliage on the lavender.
I spent a lovely morning trimming back my white lavender plant, which clearly likes its location. Depending upon your state of mind, you could consider lavender pruning peaceful or incredibly boring, as you need to trim each lavender strand individually.  I have in the past pruned back lavender a bit too enthusiastically and lost the entire plant.  The key is to stop before your back goes out from bending over, trying to make the cuts in the right places.
I was joined by the neighbor cat, who kept me company by rolling in the trimmed lavender buds.  I am sure she was nicely scented for the rest of the day.

Another plant that is thriving is a white heather plant.  Now I have to research how to properly rein it in a bit, as it wasn't the plan to let it fill the entire planting bed!
Adding some nice color behind the enormous heather plant is a Coneflower (Echinacea) plant that I just added.

Another recent addition is a verdigris bird bath next to the fence.  It may need to weather inside when it starts to get cold.
On the left is a different variety of lavender, purple heather, with a peony bringing up the rear.  I do have a fondness for lavender and heather, as they both seem to thrive in Seattle weather.  Soon it will be time to haul home some mulch and tuck everything in for the fall and winter.

Does anyone else forget, when buying big bags of soil or mulch and letting a nursery man place them in your trunk, that when you get home YOU will need to lug them up the driveway and into the yard?  Darn, those bags are heavy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

In Honor of September 11

One of the blogs I follow has a great remembrance of September 11.  I especially liked this reminder:

It’s easy to live your life the way you are meant to live it when you are smacked upside the head with the truth that you could die any day now. It’s much harder to make the choices you need to make when you forget to remember that, it’s not just that you are GOING to die. It’s that you don’t know when.

Check out of the rest of it by Jennifer Boynton.

It reminded me to get outside today and appreciate that I have two supportive feet to carry me on a walk in the beautiful September sunshine.  I'm going to literally smell the flowers, appreciate the gardens and the joy of exercise.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tiny Cat Crochet

Before I even give this little guy an embroidered nose, I had to give him a little blog space (he doesn't need much, he's little).  It's a beautiful thing when a new pattern turns into a sweet creature the first time I work through the instructions.
Doesn't he just draw you closer?

The chubby legs, the curvy tail - can't wait to try the next pattern!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Arms Like Michelle

I'm not much of a political person, but I was watching Michelle Obama speak last night and I really want my arms to look toned and strong like hers.  Those are some beautiful arms!

This summer, and August in particular, I have been focusing on walking and surprised myself by walking over 90 miles last month.  I amazed myself.  Perhaps I should take that accomplishment and run with it - well, not actually run, but you get the idea.

If this body, at this weight, can carry me 90 miles in one month, why not put a little effort into streamlining my arms and perhaps finding my core?

It may take me the rest of my life to get arms like Michelle, but I am going to be one good looking 90-year-old!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cats with Old Souls

I have a soft spot in my heart for all of God's creatures, even the squirrels who eat all of my blueberries and plums.  My heart quite melts, however, when I meet a cat who seemingly has an old soul.  Herein lies a tale of two such cats I've met recently.

A few doors away, on a porch in the afternoon sun, lies a cat on a pillow strategically placed to offer him maximum comfort, sunshine and views.  He has one of those faces that look like they've lived more than nine lives and could tell some stories if we could understand the language.  Every cat deserves to grow old with humans who provide them with a pillow on a porch in the sunshine where they can watch their neighborhood in peace and safety.

A few streets away, lives a cat whose left eye was bulging in an unhealthy way, and now has smooth fur where her unhealthy eye used to be.  A lovely dilute torty, who loves to greet neighhbors walking by, you wouldn't even notice she only has one eye.  The fur has smoothly covered the spot where her eye used to be, and her spirit is bright and undaunted by what must have been a painful interlude because she is clearly treasured by her humans.  Such a treat to be joyfully greeted by a torty living large with one eye fewer than most.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Red Velvet Cake

I do love a good slice of red velvet cake, but such a slice (even when paired with a glass of soy milk) does not a dinner make.

That's a lesson learned this week, one day when I had a filling lunch, and thought dessert as dinner would suffice.

I savored every bite (and it was a good slice of cake), yet when the sugar hit my bloodstream I found myself grazing in the pantry for a food with some sort of nutritional value.  It defeats the purpose of going straight to dessert at dinnertime, foregoing the rest of the meal, when you need to eat several items afterward before you feel satisfied.

So I will occasionally enjoy a nice slice of cake with a cold soy milk chaser, but I will surround the indulgence with plenty of good nutrition to maintain the balance.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Food Geeks and Fabulous Venues

In the spirit of staycations, and given an unexpected work-free day, I called a friend and suggested she could use some fun, given the fact that she is currently caring for an increasingly frail extended family member.  I know how caregiving can sometimes make a person weary and even sap the joy out of life.  So off we went to Woodinville wine country.  We toured Willows Lodge (can't wait to stay overnight and try the spa), and had lunch on the patio at the Barking Frog.  Just to prove we can be geeks, and don't get out enough, we actually took photos of our food.  Its presentation was just so lovely.
The peacefulness and beauty of the lodge, grounds, Barking Frog and Herbfarm restaurants filled us with the peace we needed and we returned to our real worlds refreshed.  Sometimes it just takes an afternoon away!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Cat in Paris

If you appreciate fantastic animation, I recommend the movie, A Cat in Paris.  It's just a little over an hour in length, so it won't take a huge chunk out of your summer activities.  I have a new appreciation for animators. The story was compelling, the animals were beautifully realized, and even the music was sumptuous.

Spend an hour in a dark, air-conditioned theater and meet the characters of A Cat in Paris.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Forks Over Knives

I can hardly believe that I am at this space in time where I am considering a plant-based diet!  It's not that I am a committed carnivore, but attempting to ingest enough protein on veggies alone seems a daunting task.

However, it was a raining-sideways day yesterday in Seattle so I watched the DVD Forks Over Knives, and was convinced by some mighty strong arguments that most of our health problems could be alleviated by eating in this way.  Since I am now at an age when feeling healthier has become an attractive proposition, an overhaul in the way I eat seems more palatable than in the past.

A surgeon and a scientist, both raised on farms as kids, talk about the knowledge they have gained over time, and other health care professionals also share their stories.  The most compelling stories in the DVD concern several people who have reversed serious diseases by eating a plant-based diet, as well as a group of firemen who eat this way and have become healthier and increased their fitness, despite living in a state where meat consumption is practically mandatory.

During the course of my kid-dom at various times we raised and ate rabbit and chicken.  I was too young to have any idea how the rabbits ended up on our plates, but I did participate in the plucking of chickens a few times and it was truly awful - smelly, messy, distasteful in every way.  

The big issue for me is how to make such a huge shift in my shopping list.  I'm not much of a chef, so perhaps simpler is better.  Giving up the eating of meat doesn't alarm me, since I have already discovered some excellent non-meat substitutes (there are some tasty items available now).  I've already shifted from milk to soy milk, but I do love a good slice of cheese and an occasional scoop of ice cream.  I've already shifted from butter to Smart Balance, but it will take some work to wean me off of olive oil and Smart Balance.  

There is a cookbook out now that provides a range of recipes to help those of us who have absolutely no idea how to shift our eating.  That will be helpful.

I did have vegetable only Chinese food last night, but somebody else cooked it for me.  It was, however, perfectly satisfying - so there is hope for me.  And if there's hope for me, you can't be far behind.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Glass and Crochet on Display

Sunday was a gorgeous day in Seattle, and we were able to migrate our glass and crochet outdoors.

Our gracious host at Blowing Sands provided a canopy which slowed traffic, and pulled some cars over to the side to park and explore our sidewalk installation.
This new venue was exhilarating and we look forward to our next show - although it will be indoors in November.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Artists' Sale Weekend

Admittedly, I've gone a little crazy with the rock crochet, so please - come out this weekend to Blowing Sands at 5805-14th Avenue NW (98117) in beautiful Ballard to take one or two home with you!  We'll be there Saturday (June 9th) from noon until 9:00 p.m. - art walk evening - and Sunday (June 10th) from noon until 5:00 p.m.

As the name suggests, there will be lots of blown glass on hand, as well.  Take this opportunity to visit a working glass studio.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rocks . . . Or Are They?

I've always thrilled at the discovery of a rock with attitude or unique coloring or shapeliness.  I have a jar full of rocks and seaglass that I have carried home from various beaches.  Often I will put my hand into a jacket pocket and find dirt in its depths from recent rock transport.

Why not, I thought, combine two things I love:  rocks and crochet?  Yes, I think that way.  Designs are evolving with each uniquely shaped stone, but here's what I have so far.

Won't they make cool paperweights?  See how long it takes people to figure out the colorful crochet is simply the clothing on a perfect stone.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Intouchables: Go See This Movie

I had a joyous, deeply satisfying moviegoing experience this week - the way every theater experience should be.  The Intouchables is based on a true story in which two worlds collide, but nothing about the movie is cliched.  Every character in the movie is interesting and nuanced, and you want to spend more time with each of them.  Even a nurse, who appears at the beginning of the film and then fades away, is funny and realistic.  I seldom say this about a sub-titled movie, but I would go to see this movie again in a heartbeat.  It is a joy indeed when you walk out of a movie theater with your spirit uplifted and your day looking brighter, and this is what The Intouchables did for me.    

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wesley the Owl

Ever have those days when you finish your last library book and must find a book to tide you over until your next library visit?  That was what happened to me yesterday.  So a walk to the bookstore it was, and I found such a fantastically sweet tale.

The book is Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O'Brien.  A true story of a biologist at CalTech who adopts a baby barn owl.  That is a commitment indeed.  It made me appreciate my feline who is happy with food I can buy at a store, and although she hates change, she's pretty easygoing in general.

I had no idea that owls are emotionally sensitive and can be so upset by the death of a mate or a scary encounter that they may turn their heads to the wall and refuse to eat, and die.  I love a book that teaches you some interesting facts and introduces you to an amazing character.

Some of the chapter titles:
To That Which You Tame, You Owe Your Life
Twilight:  He Who I Tamed Saves My Life
Barn Owl Toddler:  Love Me, Love My Owl

You won't be disappointed if you spend some time immersed in this book and the world of Wesley and Stacey.  Seriously, just take a look at that face!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Folded Ear Cat and the Sunny Spots

Folded Ear Cat prefers this green chair in the sunny morning hours, as she can look right through the open door into our space to supervise whatever I might be accomplishing (or failing to accomplish).  There's nothing better than having a snooze in the sun while someone else works.

Perhaps she has a thing for green, or plastic that is warmed by the sun's rays.

One can learn from a cat how to properly nap the day away. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Shots

I think Spring has settled in, and I have the shots to prove it.

Grouping on Carpet of Blooms

Hostas prior to snail nibbles, with squirrel guardian

Pear tree in bloom

Spring View

Folded Ear Cat's Usual Supervisory Pose

Now I need to put on my shoes and take a walk in the breezy outdoors; let the wind blow through my locks and give me a bit of invigoration.  I've got some new songs on the ipod to speed me on my way.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Still Life with Folded Ear Cat

The last few days of truly warm April weather have Folded Ear Cat enthralled
Queen of the yard, with lavender

Hard and Soft = Interesting Crochet

I love a small crochet project, especially one that I can make up as I go along.  I've always been a collector of rocks I stumble upon when out on a walk, and in my world everything goes better with a little crochet.
Along the way, my scale has increased
Smooth stones + yarn + crochet hook = creative evening

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Black Cat/White Cat

Folded Ear Cat and her inky yard-sharing neighbor:
Her Foot-in-the-Air, the Concrete's Warm pose

Put that Camera Down and Rub my Head

Gardens: Phinney

I was out for a walk yesterday in the sunshine.  To push my lung capacity and cardio resources, I simply climb a Phinney hill and hike down the other side, which forces me to climb back up a spectacular hill to return home.  There's no way to avoid it unless I go a very long way out of my way, so up the hill it is.  Here are some photos of loveliness I snapped while getting my walk on.
Fantastic Fences
Curved Brick Borders and Pathways
Verdigris Frog with Pansies in Chocolate and Violets
Where did they find that Meerkat statute?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

Everybody needs a good rainy day book (especially in Seattle), and I admit that I am often drawn into a bookstore by a book I see in the window.  This happened to me the other day when strolling in beautiful downtown Ballard.  There, in the window of The Secret Garden bookstore, was The One and Only Ivan, and I couldn't resist.

It is a book meant for 8- to 12-year-olds and I'm a bit older than that, but it's a fantastic animal tale based on a true story of a gorilla stuck in a cage in a mall for a very long time before being released from his cage to a zoo.  It is written believably as a gorilla might think, in few words - but words of import.

Ivan is an artist, and has friends in Stella the elephant and Bob, a dog who purportedly likes the "freedom" of homelessness and sleeps every night on Ivan's generous belly.  When a baby elephant, Ruby, is brought in to increase interest in the menagerie, Stella extracts a promise from Ivan that is very hard for him to keep.

Ivan, however, is an honorable gorilla and as a silverback he's bound to be a protector of his family, so he works out a way to keep that promise - with a bit of help from some humans.

This book makes for a quick and very satisfying read.  In its few words it brings every character to poignant life and Ivan, Bob and Ruby will live in your heart for a long time.

Futuristic Movies

I've seen two very interesting movies in the last week:  In Time and The Hunger Games.

In Time stars Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.  Justin lives in the ghetto and Amanda is a cosseted rich girl.  The whole currency in this world is time.  When you turn 25, suddenly this glowing green clock embedded in the tissue of your arm turns on and the length of your life is measured by that clock.  People work and steal to keep their clocks filled with time, and when your clock turns to zero you are dead where you fall.

First of all, it is a very odd world indeed when everyone looks 25 forever and parents and children all look the same age.  (Olivia Wilde plays Justin's mother!)  This was an intriguing concept, but left me with some questions.  Who decided 25 is the optimum age when everyone looks and feels their best?  What is the purpose of this system, i.e., to keep the population small, to encourage people to work hard to gain more time? The system certainly is flawed because you still have people stealing and killing for more time and lots of people who somehow have centuries on their clocks, and even if you look 25, living forever can get tiresome.

I waited until the crowds died down before slipping into a theater to see The Hunger Games.  I haven't read any of the books, so this was an entirely new world for me.  Katniss is indeed a great, strong female character, with a compassionate core.  The story and the characters were very engaging and made me care what happened to them.  The game is very real and scary, and thankfully most of the scenes where kids were killing kids brutally were blurred so that you didn't see all the details.  This world also consists of extremely poor people and decadent rich folks (with oddly colorful hairdos).  Running through the tale is a commentary on the way reality is manipulated for entertainment purposes.

I found it interesting that both of these futuristic movies showed such clearly defined borders between the haves and the have-nots.  Either you are rich beyond measure and are decadent with impunity, or you are living in squalor and struggling every moment to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head.  Clearly, we aren't the only ones noticing the gap between the 99% and the 1%.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Clues of Spring's Arrival in the Northwest

I think spring truly is here to stay in Seattle.  The trees are blooming.

Little bits of color are popping up all over.

Dormant flowering ground covers are spring back to life.

Folded Ear Cat revels in moving her naps outdoors.

The temperature is warm enough for porch sitting.

However, my stone yard squirrel looks rather exposed without his usual covering of Hostas.  
He's unused to being on such naked display.  Oh, where are those leaves when you need them?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Great Read and Folded Ear Cat in Spring

Folded Ear Cat is enjoying the warming sidewalks of Spring!

I just finished a lovely little book called The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  It really is a tiny book (120 pages), which makes for a quick and satisfying read.  It seems the Queen's dogs are barking at a bookmobile on the palace grounds one day, so she pops her head inside to say sorry and then decides she should check out a book since she's there.  She also meets Norman, a boy who works in the palace kitchens and is an avid reader.  The two of them share the books they are reading, building a friendship which enriches them both.  As the Queen gets lost in the joys of reading, it turns out those around her don't appreciate a queen with her nose in a book.  When she is on walkabouts she starts asking her subjects what they are reading, and they are taken aback, feeling foolish if they aren't reading anything.  She stashes a book behind the cushion in  her carriage and security absconds with it - thinking it might be a bomb.  Who knew a queen reading could raise such a ruckus!  Check out this sweet little book for yourself.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Healthy Journey Discoveries

Meandering along the amazing journey of becoming fit and sassy - okay, I'm already sassy, but the fitness level can use considerable lifting - I've discovered some great new songs and a kettlebell trainer that are inspiring me to get moving.

I have had a kettlebell for some time, and love it because it provides cardiovascular and strength training all in one, but have only had a couple of moves to use with it.  Thanks to the internet I discovered Michael Skogg, who is a trainer in Portland, Oregon.  I watched a couple of YouTube videos, really like his training style, and already gained one new move that is very effective.  Just today I've received his set of 5 DVD's, and can't wait to get started.  Seriously, doesn't he look like a warrior?

I also downloaded a couple of songs that have already lengthened my walk time because I want to listen to them more than once.  Chris Tomlin's music is always inspiring, but this one simply forces me to dance around the living room.  It's called "All My Fountains", and is on this CD:
Bruce Springsteen's new CD has also been motivational.  My personal favorite is "We Take Care of Own".
Happy Almost-Spring, and I hope some of these picks also help you get motivated and moving.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Great Day on a Sunday

It's a good day when you can spend some time out in the yard doing something that causes a passing squirrel to do a second take!  Today I was painting little bird houses despite the wind swirling around.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Folded Ear Cat in Repose

Blustery though it is, the sunshine has been lovely to see and Folded Ear Cat grabbed herself a little piece of sun-warmed concrete to enjoy the rays.

Surveying your kingdom is a day well spent!