Sunday, December 30, 2012

Knit Wrap

Just had to share this fun wrapping paper that I used on a lot of my gifts this year.
I found it at Michaels, last year, I think.  It's printed with cabled knitting.  

But, that's not all that's great about it.  Look what it does on the sides...

I centered them carefully so the ends would wrap up the same and it created a look of Celtic knots.

The knit pattern is perfect for any occasion during the winter.
They were only $1 per roll and I bought every color.  I can't believe how much is on each roll!
I love those little bargain bins they have in the front of their stores!


I love how this one came out!  It was the last one of my bowls to come out of the kiln this last semester. I wasn't able to get it until several days after my class ended but it was worth the wait.

It's just a simple bowl.  Nothing fancy.  In fact, I wasn't very happy with the bottom of the outside before I glazed it.  But, the glaze changed everything!  I LOVE the colors!

The golden color on the outside with the black speckles is so pretty.  The inside is glazed with the same color (carbon trap shino) but turned out orange.  What a fun surprise.  And, the all over silvery shine is awesome!

I would have loved to have kept this one.  However, it was the only one that came out in colors I thought my mother-in-law would like.  So, I gave it to her for Christmas.  Lucky girl!  :-)

I'm planning to take ceramics again next semester and I'll definitely be using this glaze again!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Must Post

This will be hard to write but I feel I must share something that could potentially save another kitty and the heartache of it's family...

This past week has been difficult after losing our dear Duchess.  I have shed a lot of tears and I'm still feeling quite sad.  The house seems so empty without her.  I've done a lot of re-playing in my head of the last months and especially the last week of her life and have come to a conclusion.  I'll back up a bit to fill you in before I share that conclusion.

Duchess was only 11 years old.  That's still young for a kitty.  They often live much longer.  She was very healthy.  The only problem she was having was an occasional minute or so that she had a little asthma type of attack.  It sounded like a quiet cough and a little wheezing.  It always cleared up very quickly...a minute or so.  And, it rarely happened....maybe once every several months.  However, it became more frequent this past month.  I thought it might have been an allergic reaction to the scent in her kitty litter.  We changed to unscented litter and took her to the vet for a check up.  She seemed to be the picture of health aside from the asthma. The vet thought her weight was perfect.  Her teeth, eyes, ears, and fur looked great.  Her heart was beating perfectly.  He felt it would be best to give her a corticosteroid injection.  He said it could eliminate or help with her asthma attacks and last up to three months.  And, if she still had asthma attacks, we could get an inhaler for her.  I questioned the safety of the injection several times and after talking it over with my husband and daughter we decided to let them give it to her.

Over the course of the next week she became less and less herself with each passing day.  One week after the injection, she lost her appetite and the next morning she was having difficulty breathing....but in a very different way.  It was short and fast.  We rushed her to the vet.  He gave her asthma meds and we waited.  Nothing seemed to help.  He strongly suggested that we take her to a specialist/the local emergency vet.  We all thought that the asthma meds just needed more time and that letting her rest in an oxygen chamber would help.  It didn't.  They decided later in the day that she was experiencing heart failure and treated her for that using Lasix.  It did nothing.  When we saw her that evening she was gasping for breath.  It was SO HARD to see.  There was really nothing more that could be done and she was declining fast.  We just couldn't let our poor baby suffer any longer.  We had to let her matter how hard it was.  And, it was and is HARD!

Since then, I've done some research on her condition and what was used to treat her and found out that the corticosteroid injection is extremely risky and has a high danger of causing heart failure.  Finding that out was devastating!  I wish SO MUCH that I could go back to that original vet visit not allow her to have that injection.  I wish we could go back and just get her an inhaler.  I feel so strongly that it was that injection that killed her and that is SO HARD to take.  I should have done what I do with an human member of our family...research before allowing any treatments.  What a tragic lesson!

I had to share this just in case anyone who reads this ever has a kitty who develops asthma.  Be very careful about the corticosteroids or even avoid them.  And, to be careful in general with treatments of any kind.  We trust our vets and I know they are doing the best they can and using meds that they believe will help.  But, it can't hurt to do a little research and wait a bit to think on the options.  Of course, I don't know for sure, but I STRONGLY believe that our dear Duchess would still be here if we had done that.  That is such a horrible feeling that I wouldn't want anyone else to ever go through.

I think the loss of Duchess has been harder than the loss of any of my previous pets.  She was so awesome!  She loved to be with us and snuggle up next to us or lay on our laps.  She snuggled under the covers when it was cold...and sometimes when it wasn't.  She loved to travel and go camping with us.  She always knew when we were loading the RV and would hang out in the living room with her eye on the door to be sure we didn't forget her.  She was my knitting buddy.  She even watched TV sometimes.  I could go on and on.  She was a wonderful companion and I miss terribly.  I know it will get easier with time.  I think I actually made it through yesterday without crying.   But, I think it'll be a while before we're ready for to open our broken hearts to a new kitty.

I promise to get back to happier posts.  But, thanks for stopping by and for all the caring comments that so many of you have left.  It means a LOT.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dearest Duchess

Our dear duchess didn't make it last night.  We're all so heartbroken.  It hurts so bad.  And, we miss her so much.  I just can't believe she is gone!  It's not fair.  It was too soon.  Only forever would have been long enough.  :'-(

Friday, December 21, 2012

Waiting..... so hard!  We got up this morning to find that our dear kitty, Duchess, was having difficulty breathing.  We immediately called the vet and took her in.  We figured it was feline asthma...which she was treated for last week at the vet.  But, this time, she didn't respond to meds and the vet felt it was best for us to take her to a specialist.  We were hoping that the specialist would give her an oxygen treatment and some more meds and she'd be feeling great and ready to come home by later today.  However, we received a call a couple of hours ago that she's not improving and they are concerned now that it may be much more than might be heart disease or heart failure.  We've moved on to a new treatment in hopes of improvement and knowing more what the problem is.  It's so hard to wait and we're so worried about our lil' kitty...our baby.  We love her so much and we're trying so hard to keep hoping but it's not sounding good.  Please keep your fingers crossed!  She needs every bit of luck and prayers she can get right now.  She's such a huge part of our family and holds such big places in our hearts.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pottery Post

My Fall ceramics class ends tomorrow.  I just finished photographing some of my latest projects for my portfolio and thought I'd post a few on here.

I had a lot of fun playing around with the top edges of many of my bowls.  I love this looks like a flower...

I just couldn't resist creating a few more lizards this semester.  This was the first one of the semester. I didn't use a photo for reference and he ended up with back legs that aren't quite right.  I like him anyway.  I also like how the glaze became blotchy during firing.

I threw a lot of bowls this semester.  Here are three that are similar in size and in a couple of different colors...

When bowls went off center or tried to collapse I tried to rescue them.  This one was saved by adding a spout on the collapsing side and a handle on the other.  Voila...a batter bowl!

Later in the semester,  I thought I'd memorized how lizard legs many sections there are, etc.  And, I thought I got this one right.  But, now that I look at it....I think his back legs are a little funky too.  I guess I'd better take some lizard photos with me to the studio next time so I can really get it right.

I played with glazes a little on this bowl.  It has a thick coat of stoneware blue on the inside and apple green on the outside.  It's one of my favorites.

I'd better get back to work.  I need to write up info on all of my pieces...sizes, glazes, used, etc., get the photos printed, work on my portfolio, and get all my pieces wrapped up and packed to take back to school tomorrow for class critiques and showing.  Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Simple Ceci Salad

Our occasional vegetarian eating habits have us always on the lookout for ways to add protein to our meals.  That often includes beans, which I've grown to love.  I recently came up with a simple salad idea that is super yummy.  In fact, we've had it several times in one week!

In my usual style...there's no measuring.  But, here's what's needed to make it...

1 - 15 ounce can of ceci/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 - medium sized tomato, chopped
onion - white, purple, green....whatever you have, finely chopped - a couple tablespoons + -
olive oil
vinegar - I used red wine vinegar but use what you creative!
garlic powder or fresh, finely chopped (optional)
fresh herbs - basil or parsley would work great, finely chopped (optional),

Simply mix the ingredients in a bowl... the beans, tomato, onions (add according to your taste), herbs (optional), a drizzle of olive oil, a few splashes of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and garlic to taste (optional).  We usually eat it right away but it can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten later.

Don't be afraid to experiment.  Be creative!  I've tried it with and without herbs.  I think I liked it better without herbs but both ways were good.  I've even tried it with finely chopped spinach to add color.   I've also tried it with finely chopped brown onion and with green onion.  I think I liked it best with the brown onion.  I plan on trying it with different flavors of vinegar.  Even a mustard vinaigrette might be yummy on it.  But, no matter how I've made it, it's always been soooo good!

If you decide to give it a try, let me know how you made it and how much you like it.  :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tea Time

We're becoming big fans of tea.  It started slow.  Years ago, we just had a cup or two a year.  Then, we started making and drinking sun tea.  A few years ago, we started making our own version Starbucks' green tea lemonade.  Since then, we've been trying more and more kinds of tea.  Even Yerbe Mate.  I've been hearing more and more about the health benefits of tea.  It's especially enjoyable to drink at this time of year when the weather starts to get a bit chilly.  A hot cup of tea, a cozy couch, and a yarn project are a wonderful way to spend some time.

Our collection of tea grew so big a couple of years ago that I decided to create a tea drawer.  There have been a few times that the amount of tea we had out grew the space of the drawer.  It's quite handy to have it all together in one, easy to view and choose space.

This past year, we've become big fans of Yogi brand tea.  It started with their "Breathe Deep" tea.  The taste is surprising and delicious.  Even more surprising is how well it works to help clear a stuffy head from a cold or allergies.  Since it worked so well, we've tried several of their other medicinal type teas and been equally surprised and happy at how well they have worked.  Just be careful if you use the "Get Regular" tea.  One member of my family tried it and found out that a half a cup would have worked just fine!

I'm trying "Relaxed Mind" this week.  I thought it might be worth a try since life has been so stressful lately.  The box says it helps to balance your mood and nurture creativity.  That sounds good.  I had some yesterday and I felt great.  I'm not sure if the tea had anything to do with it or not but I'm giving it another try today.  I'm not crazy about the flavor of this one but the smell is awesome.  It has sage in it and the scent reminds me of a hike and the smell of sagebrush.  Mmmm.

I like Ruby Red Chai tea from Trader Joe's.  It's super yummy mixed with rice milk (coconut, soy, almond or regular would be fine too) and a teaspoon of raw sugar or honey.  Sooo good and not too sweet.

It's fun to find and try different flavors.  Do you drink tea?  What's your favorite?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Project Bags

One of the ladies in our Thursday night stitch group has been making project bags.  They're really cute!  She uses two coordinating fabrics on each one and the fabrics are unique and so cool!  She made a bunch recently to sell at a fiber festival.  The next week, she brought what was left over to our knit night and I just had to have one!  Here's the one I bought...

It's about 14" tall.  A nice size for medium sized projects.

I love the birds and flowers on the fabric.

And, the colors are so pretty.  It's fully lined and nice and sturdy.

When the top is folded down, it stands up on it's own.  That makes it very nice to pull yarn from while working on a project.  Her small bags are like fabric yarn bowls when they're folded down.
They're super cute!  She's working on some new ideas.  I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

She's been selling project bags in her daughter's etsy store but is planning to open her own shop.
I'll be sure to post the name of it as soon as I find out.

Shortly after I bought the one above, I visited one of the blogs I follow and comment on regularly,
"Curlerchik Knits", and found out that I'd won two more project bags!  
Wow!  I love bags!  I love project bags!  And, I love these bags...

Aren't they adorable?!  This blogger is not only a talented knitter, but a very talented seamstress as well.  She whips up clothing so quickly and makes it look so easy.  Her birthday is this month and she decided that it would be fun to give instead of receive.  She's having give-aways all month long.

The sheepy one is so cute!  It's a small bag and perfect for small projects like socks.  It's about 9" tall.

This one with the cute, puffy clouds is about 8" tall but it's bigger around than the sheep bag.
It'll be great for small projects like the lacey knitted scarf I'm working on.

I've been reading and commenting on her blog for years now and to win these bags made by her is special!  Thank you, again, Curlerchik!  I love my bags!  Happy Birthday!  :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dresser to Buffet Transformation...Sneak Peek

The transformation of the dresser I found recently into a buffet is almost complete.  I'm so excited that I want to post a little sneak peek...

I still need to paint the mirror that goes above it.  I have no idea why I didn't paint it when I painted the dresser.  It was even leaning on a wall nearby.  But, this will just keep the anticipation going a little longer.  The furniture sliders are still under it so I can easily slide it out when it's time to install the mirror.

I did some online research about what kind paint to use.  I got excited about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  It supposedly needs no prep.  I like that idea.  It's finished with a coat of special wax.  I decided to go for it but when I went to the only local store I could find that carries it, they were so busy chatting with someone that they never helped me.  I searched through all of the cans and didn't see any in the graphite color I wanted.  I wandered around the shop a while longer, looking at samples of furniture painted with chalk paint and decided not to use it.  The cost of the paint and wax alone would have been about $60 and I would have needed some special brushes too.  Plus, from everything I'd seen, it was more suited for a distressed look and that's not really what I wanted.

I headed to the nearby Home Depot to look around.  The lady working that day suggested a latex paint that had primer in it.  It sounded like a good idea.  I grabbed some more paint chips and headed home to decide on a color.  I decided on a Martha Stewart color called, "Silhouette MSL260".  But, instead of driving 20 minutes to the closest Home Depot, I went to Lowes which is less than a mile away.  I asked about the paint with primer and how much odor it would have.  They said it was one of the stronger smelling paints.  I don't like that because it gives me a headache.  They suggested using indoor latex without primer because the odor was very minimal and they thought it would work fine.  They were right about the odor.  It had almost no smell at all.  I liked that.  But, I'm not sure about the durability.  I think the primer might have grabbed on better and would be more durable.  But, we'll see  how it wears with time.  I used Olympic Indoor Latex in semi gloss.  I spent about $20 for the paint and all of my supplies for painting and prepping.

I was so excited about my "new" buffet that I quickly started pulling things out to put on the top to play around with decorating ideas.  I found the cocktail sign recently at Home Goods.  The red color is perfect to go with other red things in my home.  I started shopping for a tray for a little bar but didn't have any luck.  I decided to try using this old, decorative cake pan that I picked up at an estate sale years ago.  I think I like it!  The silver candle stick is destined to become a buffet lamp.  And, the red candle is something I won in a blog giveaway at My Sweet Savannah.  The color is perfect and the scent is bourbon.  It's from Goose Creek Candle Company.

I love the color of the paint.  It changes with the light throughout the day.  Sometimes it's black, sometimes it's more dark gray and very much like the Annie Sloan Graphite.  I was aiming for black but I think the gray will show dust less than jet black would.  And, I love how the rope trim catches the light.

In between the three coats of paint on the buffet, I painted the dining room walls in Benjamin Moore's "Stone House 1039".  I love that color!  Our master bedroom is also painted in that color.  It's warm and makes a wonderful neutral for the colors and things I have and love.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bowl Full'a Crazy

This week has been crazy!  Actually, the past few months have been crazy...but this one has been a bit a little crazier.  So, I've been working hard today to find a little bit of normal...uh...or less crazy!  One of the things I did was to stop at the ceramics studio to see if any of my bowls were out of the kiln.  I found three and a saucer.  Yay!

I like this little bowl.  It's so cute!  The small size and the frilly edge make me smile.

I've got to try some other way to glaze my pieces though.  I've been using some special tongs to hold them and dip into the glaze.  But, they leave little spots where they grab onto the bowl that I have to touch up with little finger dabs of glaze.  Sometimes it doesn't show.  But, other on this does.  See those dots on the inside bottom of the picture...

I know, it's not horrible.  But, it would look a lot better without those spots.
I made a little saucer too.  I glazed it in Winnokur Yellow to match so many of the things I've made and use in my kitchen.  I think it was a failed bowl that I tried to save and turned into a saucer. worked!  It even looks cute with this little bowl.

This bowl was an attempt to make a wide, shallow bowl.  It's 7 1/2" wide x 2 1/4" tall.
I had a wider, bigger one in mind but didn't use a big enough ball of clay.  I like it though.

I used Tea Dust glaze on this one.  I like how the green dots look like lichen.
It's a pretty reliable glaze.  I like that too.

Woo hoo!  Another success at a larger bowl.  It seems like if you can throw a small bowl,
a bigger bowl would be no big deal.  That's so not true.  They're very challenging.

This one is just over 8" wide and 3 1/2" tall.  I'm still aiming for bigger.
I have some more bowls waiting to go into the kiln that are deeper.

This one is glazed with Stoneware Blue.  It's one of my favorites.  Although, it's a bit unreliable
in that  I usually get a fairly solid blue but this one came out with lots of brown spots.
I think that means the clay has more iron in it...I think.  It's pretty though.

The semester has gone by fast and I only have one more week to make things.  Then, we only have time to glaze and fire.  I've missed some days due to all the things that have come up the past few months.  And, the stress has been a bit tough on my creativity and ability.  It feels good though to see these few successes.

I struggle with whether or not to mention any of what's been going on.  It might be pretty boring.  But, I realize that I may be  leaving readers wondering.  So, if you're interested... my daughter's first year away at college has been intense. The school part of it would have been ok.  But, the living situation turned out to be horrible.  I knew that roommate situations aren't always fabulous.  But, now, I know they can be awful.  And, now, I know this, sadly, is very common as I've been hearing soooo many similar stories.  I hate that my daughter was on the hurtful end of it.  But, I'm so proud that she's not a bully and mean like the other girls she lived with.  She called me on Wednesday morning and things had gotten so bad that we quickly had to make arrangements to move her out that day.  We did it!  Whew!  She has a couple of months to try to find a much better place to live before the new semester starts at the end of January.   Luckily, she has a wonderful friend that offered to let her stay at her place for the last couple weeks of this semester.  That's so sweet and we are so grateful!

The other stuff?  My dad has been going through some health stuff and I had to take him to emergency a few weeks ago.  It turned out to be a reaction to his flu shot but he has a bad heart so they wanted to check him out to be sure he was ok.  It was a long night and I didn't get home until 3:30 in the morning...25 minutes drive to their house, an hour drive to the hospital, hours at the hospital and the long drives back.  So glad it was nothing serious.  But, he had surgery last week for something else.  So, it was another day spent at the hospital and taking him to the doctor a few days later.  He's at home and doing very well.  I talked with him today and he shared with me his worry and need of support with my mom as she is having memory problems and has started to break down and cry over her frustration.  I'm hoping to talk with my brother about it later and try to figure out how to handle it.  It's a delicate situation to figure out how to approach someone about seeing a doctor for such a thing.  I can only begin to imagine how scary and frustrating it would be to be told that others are noticing you're having problems like that.

And, last but not least, I finally got around to going to a dermatologist to have a spot checked out on my cheek.  The good news is that it's not cancer but it's pre-cancer and had to be treated.  So, the teenie, tiny spot that I went in with became a big spot I walked out with.  I try to not think about it when I talk with people and imagine that they don't see it.  Ugh!  It's supposed to clear up in a couple of weeks.  Oh...and two more months of hormones and I'll be done with that treatment.  Then, it'll be time for another uterine biopsy.  Fun!  NOT!

Now, back to some of the "normal" not so fun cleaning, laundry, cooking.  But, I'll be happy to take that over crazy, any day!  I guess a little crazy once in a while just helps us appreciate the "normal" that much more.

Have a wonderful...non crazy...weekend!  :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Care Cap

There's a wonderful group of ladies in my area that get together every Thursday night to visit, drink coffee (we meet at Starbucks) and do a little stitching.  A couple of weeks ago, one of the knitters shared with us that her sister had just been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  She wondered if any of us would be interested in knitting chemo caps for her.  Absolutely!  There was no hesitation.  Several of us immediately volunteered.

I decided to make a "Lace-Edged Women's Hat".  It's a free pattern that I found on Ravelry.  I made one a few years ago for a friend when she was undergoing chemo.  It's a great hat.  The pattern is easy, fun, and I love the femine, lacy band around the bottom.

I used size 7, 16" circular needles and Bernat Satin yarn to make it.  I made it in the largest size, casting on 96 stitches.  I was a little worried that it might be too big but I think it turned out just right. The smaller sizes might actually be too small for an adult head.  It's very soft and I think it's also very pretty.  

I've seen a couple of other hats that have been made for her so far.  I have a feeling she's going to have quite a few to choose from, in many colors and styles.  I hope she'll be able to feel our love and support as she battles that awful "c" word.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sunday Escape

Last Sunday, hubby and I packed a picnic lunch and headed out for a Sunday Escape.  We drove up to Oak Glen.  It's a beautiful area nestled in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California.  The weather was wonderful, the skies were brilliant blue and the trees were popping with color.  Finding fall color in Southern California can take some effort.  When we find it, it's an extra special treat. I was soaking it up as much as I possible could.  So gorgeous!

Oak Glen is famous for it's apple farms.  We stopped at two that day.  One was Snow-Line.  The little store that sells apples, cider, fresh made donuts and other fun stuff had a line coming out the door.  But, we were perfectly content just sitting under the beautiful trees.  It felt so peaceful up there.  Ahhhhh!

We brought Salsa with us and she seemed to be soaking up every precious moment of the day too...and every smell.  Notice the little sticks and dirt on her nose and tongue.  Such a cutie!  She managed to stay awake the entire day.  She only laid down in the back of the car for a few minutes on the way home but quickly popped back up to keep taking in the views through the windows.

Another apple farm we stopped at was Los Rios Ranch.  I've been going there since I was a kid!  I love that place.  It has wide open spaces, a cider mill with a big window to watch them pressing cider, an area to press your own cider, a great little store, and something we never realized they had until Sunday...hiking trails.  We had to check those out...

There were a lot of people there that day but it was beautiful.  I was lucky to get this shot with no one in it.  We'd like to go back on a weekday when it's not quite so crowded and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

We saw some fuzzy seeds...

There was a little pond with a floating dock.  Pretty.

Oak favorite...floating on the water.

There's a type of tree that grows teenie, tiny pine cones but it doesn't have pine has leaves! I wish I knew what it was called.  It grows where it snows and in the more deserty area like where I live.  There was one of these trees along a trail that was the biggest one I've ever seen.  It must have been pretty old because it was huge!  Check out the big clumps of baby pine cones...

Here's what they look like when they're all grown up.  So cute!

What a wonderful day we had!  It was so relaxing and I found myself letting out big breaths of stress the whole day.  I think it was just what I needed!  

We came home with three, big, one gallon jugs of fresh squeezed cider.  One for my dad for his birthday, one for us to drink, and one to make hard cider.  It's fermenting now!  Can't wait!  Yum!

I had a few more pictures I wanted to share, including some of a huge, wonderful, old chestnut tree.  However, Blogger keeps posting them sideways for some reason.  Hmmm?!  I guess I'll try to post those pics another day when Blogger is more cooperative.