November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving crafting welcomes Christmas...

Thanks for your comments about Cleo from my previous post. (and thanks to you, Mom, for listening to me when I had to make the decision...) I go between feeling like it was the right decision, to guilt (both about the new kittens and about making the decision), to relief that her downhill health slide is over (which leads to more guilt, of course...). But, I do think it was the right thing to do, for her... I realize that her situation had been affecting us more than I thought- the last few weeks seem really disjointed, looking back on them... we did manage to have a nice quiet Thanksgiving dinner (it was just us, the dog and kittens, the roast duck and all the fixings, which included a wonderful bottle of wine that Mom, Dad, and Jackie brought with them when they visited!!).

On Sunday, we decorated our brand-new, 7.5 foot artificial Christmas tree... we put it up Saturday night, which was a bit of a task- it took a lot of unfolding and unfurling of all 1385 individual tips. While we decorated it, I was inspired to do some crafting, which is a Thanksgiving tradition... we always had some craft project to work on after dinner, whether it was something Mom had been working on, a project I came up with, or the first steps of my sister Judy's rubber stamped Christmas cards or gifts for her piano students...

I had been thinking about these ornaments for a while, sort of designing them in my head- they are loosely based on the projects I made at Art Unraveled, which used all sorts of recycled materials, beads, and shiny objects. The Santa ornament was made using the lid from an Altoids tin as the base... I painted the edge gold, so it would match the color scheme, then glued super-fine Art Glitter ( a beautiful deep teal color) and mica flakes to the inside... after that, I got out the smelly-but-powerful E6000 adhesive, to glue on the two bead garlands. Once that dried, I glued in the clip art Santa, which is raised above the glitter with some little plastic thing-a-ma-jigs that Tom had in his collection of hardware... I love how this turned out! I also really love that Art Glitter (check out their website for some amazing glittery projects!) I bought a few containers of it years ago at a stamp store, and never really used it for anything before... it looks so much classier than the cheap glitter you get at the craft store, I think. This ornament is for sale in my Etsy shop, although nothing in my shop has been getting many views, lately. (partly my fault; lately I haven't really felt like hanging out on Etsy to be visible or do any promoting...)

This little Victorian girl started life as the lid from an orange juice can, actually! More glitter (brass colored in the middle, and green around the edges) covers the lid... because the lid really didn't have an "edge" like the Altoids tin lid, I didn't think the bead garland would work, so I got out my stash of sequins (another craft purchase from ages ago that I don't pull out very often) and the E-6000 again... I glued a layer of flower-shaped sequins around the lip and decided they looked a bit plain, so I glued a second layer of silver sequins to each flower. I finished the backs of both ornaments with patterned scrapbooking paper and a punched-paper pointsettia... that way, they'll look good from any angle once they're hanging on the tree. (check out my Flickr page for more pics of them...)

This is the tree, before we got it decorated- Tom and I worked for over an hour to "fluff" it up and get all the branches situated how they looked best. It's 7.5 feet tall, and takes up just a bit more space than we thought it would- it sure didn't look that big in the store display! After seeing it, I was a bit concerned about our ornament collection not being quite up to the task...

We worked on it all Sunday afternoon, and we think it turned out pretty spiffy! 450 colored mini lights, 2 strings of bubble lights (we'll get more for next year), 4 packages of gold garland (need more of that, too), and pretty much all of our ornaments. It's always fun to open up the ornament box; sort of like visiting old friends, in a way... mine came from Gram's collection, flea markets, and other places, while Tom's came from his Grandma- she gave him an ornament every year while he was growing up. Some of them are handmade, too- the kind with the sequins pinned to a styrofoam ball in very intricate patterns- do they still make those?? I never see them at the craft store... The only ornaments I left off are the tiniest glass ones (less than an inch in size) that were always at the top of my mini feather tree; they would have gotten lost in a full-size tree, for sure. So far, the tree is still standing, and it doesn't look like it's been chewed up too much... I think the kittens leave it alone during the day, but when we're home in the evening they get more active, and feel like they have to start messing around in the lower branches... the squirt bottle of water is getting a workout! (again, there are more pics of the tree and our ornament collection on my Flickr page) And hey, Mom, if you're reading this... notice the tree skirt? It's a white bedsheet... hint, hint...??

November 24, 2007


April 17, 1994 - November 21, 2007
Cleo had been losing weight for the past few months, and for the last week or so, hadn't been eating anything at all. Her blood tests all came back in the normal ranges, which most likely meant something pretty dire... so, we made the tough decision to let her go, which I have to believe was the right decision for her. Now, she and Phoebe are finally together again.

November 18, 2007

crafts, cats, and Christmas presents

I worked on a couple ATC swaps over the last couple weeks, and had some leftover painted paper... this turned into backgrounds for a couple more cards featuring cancelled postage stamps. Below is one with a Gambel's quail postage stamp (that is now for sale in my Etsy shop); the other ones are on my Flickr page.

I also whipped up a few Thanksgiving cards the other night. They were pretty simple to make, using printed scrapbook paper, a couple stamps, and artificial fall leaves from the craft store. The hardest thing about them was keeping the leaves stuck to the card until the glue dried; I used E6000 adhesive, which is strong, but quite smelly! (I apologize in advance to anyone I sent this card to, if it still smells by the time you get it.)

On the cat front, Butters and Pandora are getting even more used to the house... we still shut them in the laundry room at night and while we're at work (to avoid disasters!), but other than that, they have the run of the place. Sedona has started to play with them a bit (till she gets a little too carried away), and they're starting to find some hanging-out places in the house, like in this pic- they're behind the TV, on the TV stand... hard to see them back there, unless you know they're there! (last night I thought Butters was lost, till Tom managed to find her behind the TV... of course, this was after I had opened every drawer, cupboard door, and even looked inside the piano!)

And now, to Christmas... it came early at our house! We decided not to buy each other presents this year, and get something we both have wanted for quite a while, instead. This is our combined Christmas present, a Celestron C8SE telescope. I'm not even going to attempt to describe the specifics of this thing (telescope language is still foreign to me!), but I do know that it has a "NextStar" computer system, which has 40,000 celestial objects catalogued. So, once you align the telescope and tell it where you are, all you have to do is push the button for a particular galaxy, star, etc. and the telescope goes to it automatically.

We spent a few hours outside on Friday night, starting to get familiar with it. It's pretty amazing, the things that are up in the sky, that you don't really ever think about... okay, I know that's sort of geeky, but it was really cool! I had my laptop outside too, so when we were looking at something thru the telescope, I also was looking it up on the internet... we did see a few galaxies, Mars, the moon (check out my Flickr page for a couple really amazing pics!) and are starting to get familiar with some of the constellations. When I was young, I loved reading about Greek and Roman mythology, which goes right along with the constellations, so that's also cool for me (also geeky, again). We're hoping to make it mobile, and take a few trips out into the desert with the sleeping bags, eventually...

so, that's what's been going on here; the rest of the afternoon I'm going to be watching the last Nascar race... I know Jimmy Johnson is probably going to win the Nextel Cup, but I have to watch it anyway. Tom is on his way to the airport, for a quick trip to St. Louis and Kansas City, so he'll miss it. (no loss, because neither of us really like either Jimmy Johnson or Jeff Gordon, who is the other potential Nextel cup winner.)

November 11, 2007

kitten update

well, it's been a week now, and so far, everyone has survived. The kitties are settling in, and Cleo and Sedona are adjusting (as much as can be expected, anyway). I have learned a couple things, though, including "Never hold a kitten over a dog's head, especially when the dog can jump." I was being helpful (so I thought) and was going to carry the yellow kitten to the laundry room (where their food bowls are), but Sedona really wanted to get her. So, the dog started jumping, the kitten started spitting and growling, and I got my hands scratched and bitten for my stupidity. It all turned out okay in the end, and my hands are fine- one of the kitten's teeth broke off (in my hand), she bit me so hard- a baby tooth, I think. Cleo doesn't really know what to think of them yet, except she doesn't really like the intrusion- actually, the kittens being here has made her come out of her shell (and her hiding place in the bathroom) a bit more... she occasionally comes into our bathroom, or up on our bed, to voice her displeasure. I am definitely glad we got both kittens, so they can keep each other entertained, and leave her alone for the most part. This is the yellow kitten, all puffed up and mean-looking (the dog was right there, I think). She is definitely the more timid of the two (except when threatened- see story above!), and is a bit more reserved than her sister. We named her Butters, after a character on the Comedy Central television cartoon South Park... you'd have to watch the show to really get it, but his nickname is a play on words (Butters Stotch is his full name), and somehow, she just reminds us of him. (I put a pic of Butters from South Park below) Just something in her expression, I think...

The other kitten's name is Pandora (Tom thought that one up on the way to the vet's office), because she is a trouble-maker!! She tries to sneak out of the laundry room the minute you crack open the door, and she gets into everything!! (Right now we're keeping them in the laundry room, while they recover from getting declawed, and till the dog gets used to them... We let them out for periods of time while we can supervise, and we also give the dog a time-out in her crate once or twice a day, so the kittens can explore.) Below is a pic of Pandora hanging out under the piano, from this morning when they were playing... hopefully her tendency to chew on everything is just because they're at that "baby teeth falling out" stage??

Butters, waiting to pounce, as soon as Pandora gets close enough... they have such focus!

Action shot! I know it's not the best pic, but they're really quick! They don't seem to feel too bad from their declawing, but we are keeping them in the laundry room to keep them quieter (they wouldn't settle down out here, at all), and the vet sent home some liquid pain medication.. boy, administering that is fun, let me tell you! (it takes a team effort, with Tom keeping the kitten wrapped in a towel, so I can shoot the medicine into their mouth... I'll be glad when we're done with it, and I'm sure they will be, too! (There's a few more pictures of them on my Flickr page...)

November 04, 2007

about the lights...

thanks, Jackie- I was a bit remiss in that last post, wasn't I?? Yes, we did get the light fixtures, too, in between running to the ATM machine to get cash to pay for the cats... we didn't have any checks with us, so had to get cash, and of course one of the three ATMs was being worked on, and there were at least four people in line at each of the other ones... Tom installed the light fixtures last night- new track lighting, in the kitchen- black, with much smaller can lights (halogen bulbs). It looks so much nicer and more contemporary than the "1970's look" can lights that were installed when the house was built.

Of course, we also came home with a scratching thingie, a litter box, new food and water bowls, a bag of kitten food, new cat litter... (pretty expensive lights, when you look at it that way- of course, the cats purr and play with string, so they're more multi-purpose than the lights!)

November 03, 2007

we went out for light fixtures...

...and came home with cats. We headed to Casa Grande to get new track lighting fixtures for the kitchen, and possibly to look at artificial Christmas trees. After having lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, we headed to the local PetSmart, which was having its grand opening celebration, just to look around. Whenever we go to a pet store, I always check out the adoption center, just to see if they have any kittens, but they usually don't. Today, however, they did, and totally unexpectedly, we came home with these little girls. We knew ever since we had to put Phoebe to sleep last November that we wanted to get another cat... we played with both of them, made our decision, and then decided to go ahead and get both- they're litter mates, and maybe this way, if Cleo absolutely hates them, at least they'll keep each other entertained.

Right now, they're hanging out in the laundry room, till we can get them introduced to the dog (we'll do that in a bit, to see what happens). I forgot how much fun kittens can be; we put Sedona outside, and the cats were just bouncing all over the kitchen, chasing the cat dancer, each other's tails, and pretty much everything that moved!

And, I keep calling them "they" because we haven't decided on names for them yet. Their names were Fancy (the orange one, after a Reba Macintire song- ick!), and Fallon, but those will be changed as soon as we can think of something else... Pumpkin, Amber, and Ginger are all possibilities for the orange/butterscotch tabby, and Callie (short for Calico) has been thrown around for the other one, but I was also trying to think of Native American names, too... who knows what they'll end up being called, but they can certainly be called cute, that's for sure!

(If there are any major disasters, I'll be sure and document them, too... hopefully not!)