Monday, December 27, 2010

Random After Christmas Stuff....

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!  We attended several celebrations and had some great family time. 

Grace and Gus got a new kitty tower. It's been difficult to get a picture with both of them on it, because for some reason Gus seems to think it's his and his alone.  Every time Grace jumps up on it, he plays King of the Jungle and runs her off.  I'm not sure why he's being so possessive about it.  My husband, who has a man-cave garage, says Gus must think it's his man-tower.  I suggested that maybe he should haul the man-tower out to the man-cave and he and Gus and can hang out there together and bond. Men! lol
And Gus is still carrying around his pet string.  If you look closely at the first picture, you can see it laying beside him on the left.  And heaven help Grace if she tries to play with that string, cause he doesn't like to share that either.  :)

"It's MY tower, and MY string!"

 Gus was also a big "help" with gift wrapping this year.  :)  While I was wrapping, my tissue paper fell to the floor and within about 15 seconds, I heard rustling sounds and looked down to find this:

"Um, can you pass the tape?"

I also thought I'd share one of my favorite (and easy) recipes.  I have to admit that cooking/baking is not one of my favorite activities, so when a friend shared this recipe with me a few years back, I put it high on my list to make, because it's quick and easy, and yet so good.  I usually make it for any holiday gathering, and it's always a hit.  In fact, my brother, who never eats dessert, loves this cake and always wants some to take home. 
Rum Cake
Mix together:
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup water

Spray a Bundt pan with Pam, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of chopped nuts over the bottom.  Pour in cake batter and bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes. (mine is usually done at 40 min)

Rum Glaze:
Combine in a saucepan and bring to boil:
1 stick margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

When it begins to boil, remove from heat and add 1/8 cup Rum.  Pour over cake.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Scarf That Almost Wasn't

Awhile back I bought a lovely hank of  Tosh Merino Light at my LYS.  Because I've learned the hard way that I need to keep my yarn (especially the nice yarn) out of reach of the cats, I put it safely away on a shelf in my craft room.  Once again, I under-estimated Gus.  He's very resourceful and can always sniff out anything new.  He soon spotted it, stood on his back legs, stretched and reached up his arms and used his claws to snag and grab that hank of yarn.  I then moved it to a new, and also supposedly safe spot, but he was still able to get to it.  After this happened a few times, and since this yarn was still in a hank, I figured I better get it wound up into a ball and see how bad the damage was.  I laid it out carefully, trying to smooth the strands, when Grace decided she wanted to help and jumped onto it before I could even react, messing it up even more.  Sadly, this too happened more than once. (Yeah, I know. I should have seen this one coming.) At this point, there was no way I was going to be able to use my ball winder, so I slowly started hand rolling it into a ball, thinking it would probably take me about an hour to wind it all up.  That turned out to be wishful thinking.  I sat on the couch for 7 straight hours, untangling and winding, untangling and winding, only glancing up occasionally to shoot the cats a dirty look, while they happily napped, totally unfazed. :)

Had I known beforehand that it was going to take over 8 hours altogether to untangle, I probably wouldn't have bothered and would have just tossed it.  But I'm glad I stuck with it.  After finally getting it untangled and wound up, the yarn itself wasn't damaged and I used it to knit a scarf using a pattern called Saroyan which is a free pattern on Ravelry.

This yarn is so beautiful and it was such a pleasure to work with.  I love the results. I like this yarn so much that I've already bought another hank, and it's currently locked up in a closet where it's safe until I'm ready to use it.  Well, it's safe until Gus figures out how to open a door, then I'm in big trouble.  :)

"I laugh at your precautions!  No yarn is safe from me."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Gus's New Obsession

A few weeks ago, Gus was nosing around in the basement and as usual, getting into things he's not supposed to.  He found this green string and brought it upstairs.  It's been his constant companion ever since.  He is obsessed with this string.
Gus and his "pet" string
He even takes it with him when he eats

He'll drag it around and play with it on his own, but mostly he wants one of us to dangle it and make it move so he can chase it.  Once it moves, he first "captures" it by stomping his paws down on it.

Then he bites it, and wants to play tug-of-war.

He never gets tired of playing this game, and he doesn't like it when we stop.  He's a smart little guy though, and he's figured out how to get my husband to pick the string back up and keep playing.  First he drags the string over by his feet and sits and stares at him.

Who could resist this face?

If my husband doesn't take the hint quick enough, Gus will reach up and tap him on the leg and make a little meow sound.  THAT works like a charm every time, which Gus figured out very quickly, and so the game continues....  :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Some Fine Feathered Friends....

Gus and Grace love to sit on their little kitty tower and look out the window watching all the birds.  They got a little surprise yesterday when a flock of wild turkeys showed up in our backyard.  These turkeys show up every year when the weather starts getting cold, but since this is Gus and Grace's first winter with us, they hadn't seen them before.  Sometimes the turkeys just sort of migrate thru the yard and back into the woods, and sometimes they hang out for a while, trample the yard, and raid the bird feeders. They should provide some entertaining viewing for the kitties this winter.  :)

"Wow Grace, those are the biggest birdies I've ever seen!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another Batch of Christmas Ornaments..

Each year, my sister buys a special Christmas ornament for her son.  She always looks for one that reflects something in his life for the year.  She wasn't having any luck finding just the right one this year, so I said I would try and make one for him.  Zakk is 17, and is very much into music.  He plays the piano (keyboard), guitar, and also writes and sings his own songs.  I found all the designs as usual at the Embroidery Library.  You can't really see very well in the picture, but the bottom section dangles from the top section, and when hung on the tree, the bottom section can twist in the opposite direction to add dimension.  Although it's not a traditional looking ornament, it does capture his interests very well, and I sure hope he likes it!  I did add the red bows to make it more Christmasy.  :)

Front Side of Ornament
Back Side of Ornament

One of my friends has a new grand-daughter this year, and she asked if I could make her a 1st Christmas ornament.  So this one is for baby Alison.  :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Few Christmas Ornaments and a Hat

Every year I make a Christmas ornament for my two godchildren, Sarah and RJ.  These were machine embroidered on my mom's Janome 11000, and I purchased the designs from the Embroidery Library site.  I love that place!  My mom and I have used many designs from there and have never been disappointed. 
Back Side of Ornaments
And I also learned that RJ was in need of a new hat for the winter.  I found this really nice and well written free knitting pattern called Rib-A-Roni Hat by Jane Tanner.  The pattern can be found here.  It worked up easily and quickly and hopefully it fits RJ's noggin.  :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snowflake Coaster - Free Pattern

Snowflake Coaster Pattern - click "Download Now" link to get pattern.

  This snowflake can also be made out of worsted weight acrylic yarn and used as a Christmas tree ornament.  :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Swans

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We celebrated the day at my parent's house, and had a great family time, with lots of good food.  My mom always makes everyone up a bag of yummy leftovers to take home, so we'll still be eating good for a few days more.  :)

This is a picture my dad took the other day.  He was taking pictures of a black swan, which you don't see too often, and was also to capture this pair of swans making the heart shape with their necks.  I thought this was really sweet!

Black Swan

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peppermint Parade Christmas Ornaments - New Pattern in Etsy Shop

This is a fun set to stitch, and I had a whole lot of fun designing them.  I've spent the past few weeks with crochet hook in hand, and buried in surrounded by red and white yarn.  Besides making snowmen, one of my other favorites are things with peppermints or peppermint colors.  There's just something about that red & white combination that I love, especially this time of year. :) Pattern is available in my etsy shop .

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gus and Grace....Keeping Warm!

With the colder temps these days, the cats are on the look-out for warm and cozy spots.  Gus knows a good thing when he sees it, and seems to have an instant radar anytime I take a load of warm towels out of the dryer. I managed to fold only one towel before he hi-jacked this pile and settled in for a nap.
Now if he could only learn to help fold them after he's done napping on them.

The one towel I did manage to fold caught his attention as soon as he woke from his nap.  He knew there had to be a way to get inside, and he kept nudging it with his nose until he could crawl inside. Why?, I don't know, but he appeared to be pleased at having accomplished his mission.  :)

Grace, on the other hand is fascinated with the fireplace.  This was the first we've had it on since we got her, and she seemed spell-bound.  She sat there just staring at it for a very long time.  I don't think she's quite figured out what it is, but she does seem to like it.  :)

"Wow, it's pretty and WARM"

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Coaster - Free Pattern

The weather's getting colder, and winter will be here before we know it (Darn it!)  As I was designing and working up this coaster, the blue and white combination made me think of snow and winter, hence the name.  It's made using a strand of cotton yarn and a strand of crochet cotton thread together.  I also made it up in a red/white and green/white combination.  The red/white combo looks like peppermint to me and a set of the red/white and green/white would make a cute set of Christmasy coasters. Click "download now" link below to get pattern.

Blue/White Winter Coaster
Red/White Coaster
Green/White Coaster

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Andy......Former Runt of the Litter

This is Andy.  He is a Ragdoll cat and belongs to my parents.  I love this little guy a lot, and I've often threatened to kidnap him and take him home with me.  I have some kinks to work out on that plan though, since my parents know where I live and if he were ever missing, my house would be the first place they would check.  Andy is one of the most beautiful cats I've ever seen, with gorgeous blue eyes (I love his eyes so much that I use a photo of them as the banner photo in my etsy shop).  He also has a sweet, gentle, laid back personality.  My parents got him in Nov 2004, and he was the runt of his litter and very tiny.  That's hard to believe seeing him now, because he is BIG, about 15 lbs.  The vet says he's not fat though, he's just really tall.  :)  I was going thru a box of pictures the other day and found this photo of Andy shortly after my parents got him, so I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of then and now.
Baby Andy
Andy all grown up
Andy with the pretty blue eyes.  :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Decorating...

My mom made this very cute fall pumpkin decoration for her front door. It's actually a double-sided decoration.  It's made with felt, and one side has a Halloween pumpkin face, and the other side has leaves and curly pipe cleaners.  After Halloween, she simply turned the pumpkin around and filled with dried flowers for a fall decoration that will take her through Thanksgiving.  She wants to make a Snowman door decoration next, and I'm thinking I need to make one of those too! :)
Fall Pumpkin Door Decoration
Halloween Pumpkin (other side of Fall Pumpkin)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Pattern in Etsy Shop - Snowman Potholder

I love making snowmen! (but only out of yarn, not actual snow)  :)  This little guy was a lot of fun to design because his expression can have a variety of looks just by changing the placement of the eyes and mouth. On the red hat version, I held a strand of size 10 crochet cotton thread along with the yarn to give the hat a tweed effect.  Pattern is available in my etsy shop.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Today is my mom's birthday and she is a very special lady.  Not only is she a great mother, she's my best crafting buddy!  We spend a lot of time together working on all kinds of projects, and she's always game for trying something new.  She also has crazy good sewing skills, which come in very handy when I get in over my head on some of my projects.  :)

My mom was only 17 years old when her own mother passed away, so I never knew my grandmother.  A few weeks ago, my mom was looking thru an old cookbook and a recipe card fell out.  It was for a Mayo Cake, and it was written out by my grandmother.  My mom was kind enough to give it to me, and I'm thrilled to have this recipe in my grandmother's handwriting.  My mom said she made this cake many times when she was young, and since green was her favorite color (and still is), she always iced it with green frosting.  So in honor of her birthday I used the recipe to make Mayo Cupcakes with green frosting.  :)

Happy Birthday MOM!  I love you!
Happy Birthday Mom!
Mayo Cake Recipe:
1 c. sugar
1 c. mayonnaise
2 c. flour
1 c. warm water
4 T cocoa
2 scant tsp soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
Moderate Oven (I baked at 350)

Happy Birthday Grandma! (YOUR daughter just woke us up for this!)