Monday, October 31, 2011

My Ghost

*This is as close to a Halloween post as you are likely to ever see on this blog.

I finally took some pictures of my new bunny, and I had to show him to you!
Even though I have a whole other blog dedicated to bunny posts.
And even though 99.9% of you will have no idea why I'm so excited about this particular rabbit...or care.

Allow me to introduce Levi:

Levi is a Ghost Chinchilla, also called an Ermine (lilac, in this case). He was bred by Laura and Ruth, a Mother/Daughter team from the north west of Wisconsin. DH says he must be special for me to drive across state lines to get him. I was able to meet Laura and Ruth on their way down to the ARBA national convention in Indy, or the drive would have been much farther. (I'm still pouting that I didn't get to go to the convention this year. Imagine--over 23,000 rabbits all in one place!)
On top of some really amazing blood lines, Levi has three things genetically that I want to work with in my herd:
  1. He's Lilac. (Seriously? Who wouldn't want to work with a Purple bunny?)
  2. He's Chinchilla.
  3. He's non-extension. (all that means is that the gene causes the color not to extend to the end of each hair shaft, creating some really cool effects.)
At about this point, DH usually glazes over, so I'll stop. I'm just really excited to see what he'll bring into the nest box starting next spring.

My photo editing program does not know what to do with his eyes. They are a light blue grey, and reflect ruby in the light. The flash makes them horribly red, but the program eliminates all the red, which isn't quite right either. *shrug* I guess you'll just have to come and see him in person.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Abundance of Things

For the second time in a year, I find myself coming alongside family to help sort through a loved ones possessions. In the first case, my Grandmother was gone from us, and a sense of grief and loss pervaded the process. This time, DH's 95 yo Grandmother, unable to continue living on her own, has elected to move into a care facility.
Both unique and incredible women, I count it a privilege to assist in these tasks, and cherish the opportunity to reflect on their lives.

While the circumstances behind each event are different, both have set in motion prolonged periods of introspection and evaluation for me. Not always a bad thing.

"...a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things which he possesses". However, I believe that the things that one possesses in abundance tell a great deal about you. 
What do I possess in abundance? And why?
If my parents, children, in-laws, etc were to have to sort through the items in my basement and attic tomorrow, other than quickly developing a keen sense of resentment, what would they learn about me? What would the distillation of my earthly possessions tell them about my values? What would they see was important to me?
200+ canning jars that I haven't used in 5 years.
A basement full of bunnies.
Miles and miles of string in every conceivable color.
Baby teeth in my jewelry box. (Oh, why are there teeth in my jewelry box?)
Oh, boy. I think I'm going to go declutter something.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tatting up a Fury

Some tatting patterns, like Everest, need to be done simply because they exist. Anne Bruvold's Flying Minor Norwegian Dragon is one of them. A Lace Dragon? And Norwegian too? Seriously, how could I resist?

Having already tatted Anne's Ringtrim dragon, and Martha Ess' Paprika, when the green and gold HDT arrived from Yarnplayer, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. The body is made with Lizbeth Gold. This pattern is not hard, and I even made a few minor modifications to it--mostly by starting with two shuttles from the beginning, eliminating the need to mess with single shuttle split rings, of which I am not fond. Most of him was tatted while curled up in front of the fire (which I thought was appropriate) over these cold wet days we have had this week.

Still needing wings...

That'll do.

No idea what I'm going to do with him, but I'll think of something. He does match my office rather nicely....
He needs a family.

*You will be happy to know that we're done writing about postcards. J continues to receive them, but we got bored talking about them, so we're moving on.

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Seals

Card #: RU-503368
From: zabavatts
Origin: Russia
Caption: Baikal Seals
Note: "Hello! I'm Tatiana. My profession supposes reading a lot of books. I wish you healthy and sunny mood forever."

Stamp: Kremlin (I think)

This is another panoramic type card.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Not so Stumpy

Remember the Supermodel bookmarks? The pattern for that bookmark was inspired by Kersti Anear's pattern, which she calls Stumpy. Over the weekend, I tatted up two of them, and they don't look stumpy to me at all. In fact, they are crying out to become cute barrettes for a certain adorable niece in far away California. Which, of course, means that we needed Beads*!
And look what we found!

As in love with Yarnplayer's hand dyed thread as I was before, I am even more taken now. We were able to find three separate colors of beads that match her "Stardate" thread perfectly. I still need to pick up the barrettes, but once I do, it will be a cinch to finish these.

*Sigh. Buying beads again. Why ever did I sell off all of my jewelry making supplies?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Card #: CZ-121206
From: semmelra
Origin: Czech Republic
Note: Hy, my name is Rodhe and I have two children. Adam is 8 and Nelly is 4 years old. Both loves animal too. We have at home small fish, a (male) mouse Jerry and two guinea pigs Max and Bobeh. We was satisfy that they are two boys. But today I was very surprise that we have 6 new guinea pigs. Have a nice days."

Stamps: Bramborik (Cyclamen?), Fifinka and Myspulin (cult comic characters by Jaroslav Nemecek


The picture is deceiving. This is a panoramic sized postcard.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Necklace Fail & Fix

There is a danger in browsing crafting blogs with the 9yo looking over your shoulder. That danger is that she might see something like THIS and immediately begin coveting. Three minutes after we saw the stunningly gorgeous necklace on Elizabeth's blog, M came into the office with a little gold pinecone charm and a pitiful story about how she just needed some kind of chain to hang it on.

So, being the dutiful Mother and slave to my children's every whim, I worked to create a duplicate of the necklace for her. NOT.

Truth is, in previous years of homeschooling, there were periods of time when the girls worked on assignments independently, and I could move back and forth between teaching and household chores. This year is much more hands-on for me, and while there are still times when they work on their own, if I attempt to get anything done (say, load the dishwasher), then someone will have a crisis with fractions or comma splits and need me immediately. However, if I sit dutifully at my desk, pretending to do nothing at all, work flows more smoothly. But it's boring.
So, the pathetic hinting at a necklace was a perfect excuse to fiddle with string (which apparently doesn't count as accomplishing something). I've wanted to try the spiral chain with a shuttle and this was my chance.

While I never intended to make anything even remotely resembling Elizabeth's work, the results are still a little disappointing for me. Spiral chain is much easier with the needle, I have to say. I found some tips on the InTatters forum that helped and was getting better toward the end of the project though.
The medallion is a complete flop. I stitched it first and then joined the chain to it, which was a mistake. I also made a medallion with 5 petals, so the charms hangs lopsided. I have to fix it.

Never mind that this is for the child who will probably wear it with the fabric yardage with green fish scales, a purple lei, pink glitter slippers, and a crocheted daisy hat while she plays "Queen of the Dragons" (there have been lots of dragons lately).
I have to fix it because she still believes that I can do everything and fix anything.

And because I am a slave to her every whim.

Better now? I thought so too. This is Yarnplayer's Small Maple Leaf pattern, available for purchase from her Etsy shop, and completely worth it. The instructions and illustrations are so clear that this stitched up like a dream with little effort. Of course, I had to use her "Sugar Maple" HDT too. It makes me want to tat scads of these and sprinkle them all over the table at Thanksgiving. Hmmmm....

Monday, October 17, 2011


Card #: MO-5195
From: DiannaMacau
Origin: Macau (Yeah, that's what I said, too. Here it is.)
Note: "Hello, J. Ni Hao! Greetings from Macau! Did the Macau street cat looks about the same in your country? All the best."

Stamps: From what I can read, the first stamp is This, and the second is This. Ask yourself why there are words in Portuguese on Chinese stamps. Curiouser and curiouser.


Most of the postcards that arrive here have ID numbers that indicate that country has sent hundreds of thousands of cards. By comparison, this card from intriguing Macau is rare.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Card #: UA-122932
From: Fita
Origin: Ukraine
Caption: Leonid Utyosov Monument--not what I expected at all.
Stamps: This card more than makes up for the Ukraine card with the missing stamp.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Your Face

Card #: NL-716665
From: gardenofeden
Origin: Netherlands
Note: "Hello, J! I'm Suzanne from the Netherlands. I hope you like this cat-card! I also love animals. We have 2 dogs and 4 cats. We've found all of our animals as strays and took them along with our family."

Stamps: The little comic stamps translates roughly to "there was not a cent more into the treasury majesty. and if he comes in handy."


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Three Supermodels and a Cow

Supermodel bookmarks, that is, but I bet that got your attention!
Over the weekend, I tatted up three bookmarks using Brooklynne Michelle's pattern, which is, in turn, inspired by Kersti's Stumpy bookmark pattern, which is next on my list.

On the first (left), I omitted the Josephine chain because I messed up the very first chain and I didn't think it would support it. I ended with a ring and tassel instead. I was completely torn about using the magnificent HDT from Yarnplayer (this one is Stardate in a size 20) for a tassel, because it seemed wasteful, but I didn't have any matching embroidery floss that would work.
The second (far right), I ended with a clover so that it would mirror the top. Still needs it's tassel.

The third (middle) is the Supermodel whose career is over and she has let herself go.
After months with the shuttle, I pulled out my needle and worked this pattern. I never thought I'd say it, but I prefer the shuttle. The needle is still faster, but only just. Making even picots is a little easier, as is correcting mistakes and hiding thread tails. However, the tension of shuttle tatting is significantly better for me.
Analyzing that, I think it has to do with the diameter of the needle, which is the substitute for the core thread as you are forming the stitches. Because you have to thread the needle, it will always be slightly larger than the diameter of the thread you are using. No matter how tight your stitches, the channel that you pass the core thread through when you finish the rings and chains will always be slightly too big. This gives the work a softer feel, but also leaves the stitches a little slack to wallow around a bit. Picots also tend to not stay put.
This is just the results that I have seen. Looking at the work of other needle tatters, like Totusmel, it is obviously a problem that can be overcome. I think I need a consult.

You're still wondering about the cow, aren't you?
Yesterday, our freezer beef was delivered. The faithful may remember that every year my FiL purchases a steer at the 4-H auction, has it processed, and shares it with BiL's family and us. He has done this for years. I'm not even sure what beef costs in the stores anymore. Needless to say, this is a huge blessing for which we could never be too thankful. Not to mention that it is delicious beyond words. Hand fed and pampered, it probably even had a name, but we don't want to think about that.

Guess what we had for dinner last night?

Another Beef BBQ

1# ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 t. salt
1 t. chili powder (give or take)
3/4 c BBQ sauce (I used the Dr Pepper BBQ!)
8 oz tomato sauce
1 c sweet corn
1 c. shredded cheddar

Brown beef and onion, add remaining ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. Add cheese and heat until melted.

We served this over hot buttermilk cheddar biscuits (Betty Crocker recipe with cheese added), which were heavenly, but the BBQ overwhelms the flavor of the biscuits. We're going to try it over homemade cornbread next time. I suspect it will do the same, but it's yummy anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Card #: CN-408533
From: zjq19761104
Origin: China
Caption: The Imperial Palace in Shen Yang

Note: "Happy Postcrossing!"



Saturday, October 8, 2011


What do you call scraps of tatting? Scrats?

Before starting a new project, I needed to empty a few shuttles of the leftover bits of thread. I made a few doodles with the last of "Aqua Bay" and some of "Lava", 2 of the HDTs from Yarnplayer. I'm hoping to use them on a the secret Christmas gift idea.

The two larger doo-lollies done in Lava are my first two attempts at the center of the Yes-U-Can doily challenge. Not completely happy with either, I've decided to set that aside until after the holidays. Part of my problem is that I haven't found a method of hiding my thread ends that I am satisfied using. The Magic Thread trick works well at the beginning if I'm starting with a ring. Not so much anywhere else. And I am a complete failure at "sewing under the caps". Oh, well. I'll figure it out eventually.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Merry, Merry King of the Bush, is He

Card #: AU-146178
From: Sharon_2
Origin: Australia
Caption: The Kookaburra's unmistakeable call is startlingly close to human laughter, albeit slightly hysterical. These kingfishers fill the air with the sounds of their merriment.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cinema and String

With so much handwork to complete before the holidays, I brought home a handful of DVDs from the library this week. Now I can watch and stitch at the same time, hopefully without too many mistakes.

The project:

Two more "Heart o'Daisies" by Jon Yusef. This time, I did them without the chain around the outside, because I have an idea in mind for a gift. The chain would make them too big. More on that later.
This pattern came with instructions for making these with split rings, allowing you to continue from one daisy to the next without having to cut and start again. That's always good in my book. I haven't quite mastered hiding thread ends yet, and the less I have to do it, the better.
I used Yarnplayer's HDT "Lava" in a size 20. I continue to be impressed with this thread, both with the vibrant colors and the smoothness with which it works.

The movie: Avatar. I decided I needed to find out what all the fuss was about.
The recipe for this film: 1 part Matrix, 1 part Tron, 2 parts pixie dust and a dash of Norse mythology. Place in Cuisinart and hit Frappe. The end result is a glorified cartoon (I don't care how "visually stunning" the reviews said it was) that paints our military in a very unfavorable light. I'm so very glad I didn't pay money to see it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Card #: US-1203038
From: MsHelper
Origin: California
Caption: Amusement Park on beach, Santa Cruz Boardwalk, local teen hotspot!

Note: "J, I worked with 6th graders this year. Even though each person is different, these are some of the things that the students really like: Cell phones (for texting only), those shaped rubber band bracelets, skateboarding, video games, music, Twilight, sports, and Hello Kitty is loved by both girls and boys. Does this sound like you or your classmates?"


MI (mom intrusion, in case you don't remember): What do you think? With a mom who thinks texting has brought about the death of dignity in our society, breaks out in hives at the thought of Silly Bandz and Hello Kitty and does a fair impression of Chernobyl at the mention of Twilight, does this sound like J?
"Angels and ministers of grace defend us!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Puff Love

This spring, we discovered several packets of seeds for different annual vines. With three acres to deal with, I don't normally mess with annuals. If I have to plant it more than once, forget it. But just for giggles, we threw some of them out by the fence around Kirby's yard. Most of
But there was one that is now a favorite, and will probably stay. Hopefully it will reseed itself. Hopefully, it will not make become a nuisance. I give you:

Love-in-a-Puff Vine

Sweet little white flowers that persist all season, unique air-filled balloons, and adorable seeds with hearts on them. What's not to love?

Cardiospermum halicacabum--*if you live in warmer zones, this plant can become invasive.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet Meets

Card #: TW-322208
From: simpleplandd
Origin: Taiwan
Caption: Meets the Cat
Note: "Hello friend, I'm Annie. 17 years old, from Taiwan. I'm so envy you, cuz to be a farmer owner is my dream! And I have four parrots and one sugar glider. I love animals. Hope you'll like it."


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Joey's Dragon

I have owed my not-really-a-nephew Joey a bookmark for a couple of months now, and I finally finished it this morning.
The first time I tried this dragon (you might remember Paprika), I used a needle, and the results were not quite what I wanted. I started this one with shuttles, got nearly finished and broke the thread. Since I wasn't pleased with how it was looking anyway, I started over. I had tried to make it without the beads, thinking they would not work well on a bookmark (and what do boys want with beads, anyway?), but it really needed the beads.

This time, I'm happy to report, it actually looks like a dragon, complete with sassy curl to the tail and all. I'm still working on my tension with shuttle tatting, but it's coming along.

He really needs a name, but I'm going to leave that up to Joey. Happy late Birthday, Joey!

Oh, PS, about the postcards. There are 9 scheduled posts left over the next three weeks, and then I promise we'll be done with them. I think J's interest is beginning to evaporate anyway. Sorry for the interminable stretch of banality.