Monday, April 30, 2012

Rainbow Water Beads update

Remember the fun we had with the Rainbow Water Beads on this post? I thought I'd give you a little update on their performance, in case you're curious.

Here are the two cake pans full of the beads we used:

I scooped them onto the top of the soil of my 6 houseplants to keep them moist while we were gone for 5 days. They kept everything plenty moist! In fact, I still didn't need to do any watering for a couple of days after we returned home, except for my big ivy plant which is in a very tiny pot (and needs to be repotted or restarted very badly!)

I eventually scooped the beads off the plants. That was the only part that I wasn't too crazy about. The potting soil stuck to the beads somewhat, so I had lots of little bits of soil mixed in. I rinsed the beads in a colander, but there was still a lot of stuff to pick out. But I did it, and I'd probably take the same route again next time we go somewhere for a few days.

I then spread out the beads in 3 pans and let them dry out. Here's what we ended up with:

They sure don't look like much compared to those in the top photo, do they?

They were still fun to play in and scoop up, though!

I then rehydrated ONE bead, just to see if it worked as well a second time. It did! And here's a pretty comparison photo!

All in all, I liked the results of the experiment. And I'm glad they don't take up much room to store.

If I didn't have cats in the house, I'd also use some of the beads in vases of cut flowers. But I know what Josie'd do with that!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weirdness in the sky

This is a view I saw in the sky on Tuesday afternoon. I've enhanced the photo a bit so it shows up better. I think it was a jet stream, but have you ever seen one shaped like that before? There must've been some strange winds up there to break it apart like that! It looks like a row of arrows pointing down.

(Click to enlarge.)

That black dot is a bird... much closer to earth than the jet stream.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kitty lovers' delight!

After having my Internet connection down for most of the day, I'm finally able now to show you what Courtney and I discovered yesterday! Mama kitty's babies!! We had looked everywhere we could think of on Tuesday, but couldn't find them anywhere. It turned out they were in the machine shed all along, as I'd kind of suspected, since Mama was always in there whenever I went out to feed my crew. 

Against one wall is a rather large pile of junk with all kinds of hiding places, in which every year kittens have loved to play and hide. I'd tried peeking around in there with a flashlight, but there's just no way to see way back into the far reaches. Mama has NEVER had her babies in there before... she always preferred to have them outside somewhere. Maybe she's getting old and decided to take an easier route this year. 

Anyway, we had fed the adults, and just as we were ready to leave to go back to the house, I noticed a little face peeking out from behind the junk! Here's what we saw (after I ran back to the house to get the camera)!

And then two faces!

There turned out to be five in all. They weren't really scared, and I could reach them to bring them all out. There was only one orange one in the bunch, which Courtney thought should be named "Orange". Ha! I discouraged that, and for lack of coming up with a better name ourselves, we decided to email "Agent Orange" for her suggestions. So far all she's come up with is Mango. Whaddya think, folks? Is that good? (Courtney hasn't heard it yet.) Anybody have any better ideas? Or names for the others?

The kittens were bigger than I thought they'd be. I thought they were born just before we got back from Chicago, but it must've been right after we left, which would make them right at three weeks old. They got around pretty well on their own yesterday. Here are some of the fun shots. Click the collage to enlarge and get a better look!

Courtney wanted me to get a picture of her holding each one, but we quit after three. :)

Or maybe it was four. I'm not sure if this is the same b&w one as above. But this is my favorite "I love baby kitties" look on her face:

She thought this is a really comfy way for kittens to be held. I don't know if the kitten would agree to that, but at least they seem to hold still that way. ;)

Here's a fun little video of some of kittens/Courtney action. Be sure to turn up your volume!

I tossed this next video in just for fun. I think Courtney was pretty excited... or something! ;)

Shortly after we got back to the house, we noticed this scene out the living room windows! Yep, I recently put out the cat water bowl birdbath!

Look! One of them can even walk on her front legs! ;)

That's half my crew, not counting kittens. Anybody want a cat???

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LeapPad case

Usually Sunday afternoons are good for getting some sewing done. This past Sunday, however, I didn't have any sewing projects going! It felt kinda good for a change, and I thought it sounded like maybe a good time to just sit down and read a book.

BUT! Here's what I ended up doing instead!

Can you guess how that's going to go together?

Okay, Courtney got a LeapPad last Christmas. If you're not familiar with them, they're sort of like an iPad for kids. You can play educational games on them, etc. (and purchase and download more games off the Internet), and even take photos and movies! Here's a pic of hers, with the 3 game disks she has for it.

I asked Courtney's mommy a few days ago if she thought it would be a good idea to have a case for it, and she said yes! I was just going to make up a little bag on my own, but decided on Sunday to search and see if there happened to be a tutorial for one. I was in luck! One had just been posted on Thursday here!

It looked like a nice tutorial, and I got kind of excited about it, so I started picking out fabrics. A long time ago, Jess had sent me this cute print that a friend of hers had sent from Japan (thanks, Megumi!), and I thought it'd be perfect for the LeapPad, what with the alphabet on it and all.

With a white background, though, I figured it'd get dirty pretty fast, so I decided to laminate it! Also a long time ago, I'd bought some iron-on vinyl, and it was perfect for this project. (That's the curled up white stuff in the first photo.)

I cut the case out on Sunday and sewed it on Monday! Here's how it turned out:

It's pretty colorful, including the yellow main lining and the red pocket lining.

Here's the back... isn't that fabric cute?!

The laminating went well, although the vinyl did get pretty crinkled when turning the bag inside out a time or two in the sewing process. But I was able to just put the paper backing over it and iron it again, and it turned out fine. It also adds a little water-proofing to the case.

Here it is, stuffed:

It was a perfect fit (the LeapPad gets turned the other way and fits snugly in the padded pouch). The only thing I'd do differently if I made another one is put the velcro closer to the edge of the flap. It fastens okay, but the flap doesn't lie down as well as it should. I tried to think of a way to rectify it, but it would've messed things up and involve hand sewing, so I just left it as is. It still holds the pouch shut well enough. Other than that, I'm happy with how it turned out, and Courtney likes it, too!

Linking up to Amylouwho's Sew & Tell:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Déjà vu

Hmmm... seems I've seen this scene before. Like here. Remember?

I think he's checking out my violets, to see if they're blooming yet so he can eat the flowers off. Yep, they are!

Lookin' right tasty!

I can always tell when there's a woodchuck around, because the violets have no blooms.

He disappeared inside the culvert after I got the first shot at him, but I wandered around with my camera and took pictures of the maple leaves I showed you yesterday, and lo and behold, when I got done, he was back, peeking out of the other end of the culvert! So nosy! So I got another shot at him. Quite successfully, I'd say!

Monday, April 23, 2012

One maple tree [and two(+) cats]

It was so pretty outside on Friday, and I love the contrast of the new leaves against the blue sky, so of course I had to take some photos. Click to enlarge the collage and just enjoy the beauty of the different shots from just one tree.

I noticed that there had also been a little frost damage from a really cold night we had recently, but it was minimal.

On another note, I realize I haven't mentioned my outside cats for a while. Here are a couple of them as seen outside our back door last evening. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo... I had to take it through the kitchen screen so as to not disturb their cozy pose.

A few minutes later, they appeared like this. Enough was enough, I guess.

I'm SURE you who have followed my blog for any length of time are wondering if there are any new babies around yet this spring. (And some of you are thinking, "Oh, no... here we go again.") There ARE!! Mama had babies born Easter Sunday or so, Patches had hers last Friday, and Scamp (new first-time mom) had hers just last night.

Unfortunately, I have NO pictures of them to show you! Pretty sad, huh? I don't know where the first two litters are, and Scamp's are in a place that I simply cannot get the camera into. I did find them last night, though, as she was having them. One had "wandered away" from her, very warm yet and placenta still attached, and was crying loudly. I managed to get it back to Scamp where it was cared for with the others. A peek this morning when Scamp was out eating showed 4 or 5 babies, but they didn't like being abandoned when their mama went out for breakfast, and they were crying, so she grabbed a few bites and quickly returned to them. I was happy to see that she is going to be a good mother, since this is her first time around.

Patches and Mama are always around, so I figure their babies are nearby somewhere. Maybe Courtney and I will have to go hunting tomorrow! I will show you pics when I can get some!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vintage Simplicity 5982

I made a garment for myself! Boy, it's been many years since I've done that, although I used to make a lot of clothes for myself in the past. I decided awhile back that I needed a new housecoat. My old one is like going on 20 years old or so! (How can the years go by so FAST?!) I figured this would be an easy project, since there wasn't a whole lot of 'fit' to it.

I found this vintage pattern in an Etsy shop for I think $3.00. It looked easy, especially with the raglan sleeves.... and a "medium".... could hardly go wrong on the size for that, right?

And voila! It was easy and it fit! I'd hoped to get it done before our Chicago trip, but simply didn't start it soon enough. So I just finished it yesterday.  Here's my version:

It looks "vintage", doesn't it? It reminds me very much of something my mom or even my grandma would've worn. Exactly what I had in mind. Just something to wear to the shower or cover up my sleepwear.

I enjoyed finishing the seams with my serger. I love that little machine! It just goes so fast and does such a professional-looking job! And it saves a ton of time finishing seams that you don't want to ravel. You can see a bit of the serging below the neck facing here:

Because I used the same fabric for the whole thing, it's hard to see the cuffs....

.... or the pockets....

.... on the first photo. (Clicking on any photo to enlarge it will help a bit.) I could have trimmed it with a contrast fabric, but I was in a hurry (hoping to finish it before we went to Chicago), and I really didn't care if it had trim or not. I'm pleased with it just as it is, and I love the fabric, which is Sapphire by Skipping Stones. The buttons are vintage, also, out of my (and my grandma's) stash.

I decided garments are a lot easier to sew than (a lot of) bags. Unless, of course, there are fit issues. I may just make myself a top that I've seen recently. I don't have the pattern yet, though. I also don't have the pattern yet that I'm supposed to test for someone. Hopefully soon!

Linking up to Amylouwho's Sew & Tell:

And to Find a Friend Friday:

Check them out and see what others are up to!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Lincoln Park Zoo, part 2

Here are some more photos I took at the zoo. Enjoy!

The beaver was busy munching:

The rhino was working to keep his weight up:

There were plenty of these seagulls around... and they were quite noisy.

This wood duck didn't pose very well for me, but maybe he was concerned about the crow. I wanted to capture his pretty colors, anyway.

This poor bear... makes you sleepy just to look at him, doesn't it? We wonder if he was that bored, or if he was ill, or if it was just nap time. He doesn't look very comfortable, though, does he? *yawn*

I had a hard time getting shots of the polar bear, as he kept swimming constantly.

Here he is, doing his routine:

My favorite shot of all at the zoo, though, was this one:

And that concludes our zoo visit... and all my Chicago pics. Hope you enjoyed the sights!

I 'plan' to finish my latest sewing project today so I can show you that tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lincoln Park Zoo, part 1

Here are some photos from our walk through the zoo, in random order.

It was so pretty, with the trees in bloom everywhere and new green leaves coming out.

We saw so many of those fuschia-colored trees everywhere we went in Chicago, but we didn't know what they were. Can anybody identify them for me? Below is a closer look.

The zoo had lots of tulips blooming, too, as you can see below, along with lilac bushes and other plants. And there's another of those fuschia trees.


These monkeys were indoors, and it was pretty hard to get pics of them, because they kept moving too much. Plus without a flash, they're not very clear, but you get the idea. (Click to enlarge and see them better.)

In the bottom right two pics were a mother and youngster. The right pic shows "snack time". :)

And here's some monkey action, as well as I could capture it, at least.

To be continued.....