Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby crafts

Two posts in one day- we're just such exciting people!
Some friends of ours are about to have a baby girl.  Their nursery is yellow, black and gray.  What a cute combination!  (Of course, anything involving gray is wonderful to me.)  I considered making one of my flannel rag quilts to match the nursery, but I didn't have much luck finding enough patterns I liked in these colors.  Well, I found some, but they were way too expensive.  Between all of the baby showers, our friends' registry was pretty picked over.  So I decided to make a few items I thought would be useful to them and their baby girl while coordinating with their colors.  Here's what I've been up to:
A taggy block

Pacifier clips

A nursing cover

2 hooded towels

Trim on the towels made with my new bias tape toy
Here are the links to the tutorials that inspired me.  I didn't follow all of the directions exactly.
Taggy block- I used way more ribbon and sewed the blocks together in a different pattern.  I also put a jingle bell in the middle to make it sound like a rattle.
Pacifier clips-  I didn't use interfacing or a serger.  I should have followed the tip about sewing the velcro on before sewing the material sides.  It would have looked much better. 
Nursing cover- I only used 1 piece of fabric so it wouldn't be too hot.  I added my pocket as a triangle in one corner.  Also, I used D-rings instead of velcro to make the adjustable neck strap.
Hooded towels- easiest project ever!  I used adult sized towels so they can be used when the baby outgrows those tiny hooded towels that you can buy in the stores.  I also sewed across the point of the hood and cut off the extra material so that the kid doesn't look like a elf.  I made single fold bias tape for the edge using this fun new toy.  They sell machines that make bias tape, but I found this $4 contraption (w/coupon) did the job perfectly!  I can't wait to make more bias tape (a fold down the center and a quick ironing gives you double fold bias tape in no time!)

I also attempted to make a wipeable changing pad, but my sewing machine was not cooperating.  By the time we reached a compromise, the project was a flop.  Here's the tutorial I was trying to follow.  I think it needs to be bigger.  Maybe I'll try again.  I learned that sewing with vinyl takes practice and patience (and tape on the bottom of your presser foot.) 
So what projects have been keeping you busy lately?

2011 Garden, Part 1

I've decided to do a series of garden posts as this season progresses.  Josh and I haven't had a garden in a couple of years due to moving and lack of time, but we're jumping back in this year!  I sure have missed home-grown goodies.  We're planting a variety of stuff this year as an experiment to see what can survive.  I think the biggest obstacle will be bugs, namely grasshoppers.  Anyone have any brilliant remedies for this?
So here's a quick look at our garden prep so far.  Josh has been very busy!
Our seedlings in Josh's new growth room at ACU

Bringing in compost- $6/load at the recycle center!

Our garden area- we're hoping to fill a 50x30' space this year

Our well finally has a working pump in it!

We just HAD to get a tiller for the tractor to help us out.
In a few days, our electric fencing will arrive.  It should be able to keep out everything from rabbits to deer.  Again, any advice for grasshoppers?
This has nothing to do with the garden, but it made me laugh.  Our neighbor's llamas enjoyed watching Titus play ball last night.  I think they wanted to join in!
Stay tuned for a post about what's been keeping me busy while Josh has been prepping the garden...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Play Kitchen

Once upon a time, when I was 2 years old, my Dad made me a play kitchen.  It was yellow and had a sink, a stove with burners that turned red when you turned the knobs on, an oven with a rack, and a refrigerator/freezer.  Mom stocked my kitchen with mini sized cups, plates, and silverware.  I had play food, a tea set, and cookware.  I even had a blender, a toaster, and a mixer. 
Guess what?  I have all of these again!  I also have a doll wagon and buggy, a high chair, and a tiny cradle.  My Mom has been bringing me a bunch of kid stuff so we have things for little ones to play with when they come to visit.  It has been so much fun going through the boxes of my old toys- so many memories!  I'll have to get some more boy stuff eventually, but I figure they can play outside and get tractor rides from Josh for now.  
My kitchen has been moved several times over the years and has suffered some wear and tear, but I love it and think I'll keep it in its "well loved" state.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Skunk update

When we got home on Friday the skunk was gone.  Josh found it on Saturday- dead.  He buried it.  Titus hasn't found it yet.  The end.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Look who was waiting for us...

Titus and I went out to play this morning and look who was waiting for us.  Do you see it?
Here, let me get closer for you
Pretty sure this skunk was either sick or dying or both.  He didn't move much.  We'll have to see if he's still there when we get home.  Josh may have a fun chore on his hands!
On a better note, my craft room project is complete!  I inherited a bunch of my Grandma's sewing things and I just didn't have any space for everything.  So I just HAD to do create more storage.  My camera was dead when I went to take "before" pictures, so just imagine this table completely piled with clutter and no room to work.
And now it looks like this
I know it's not a huge change, but I love it.  I bought 2 unfinished kitchen cabinets from Lowe's, painted them white, and added handles.  Then I covered a piece of plywood with my fabric and wrapped that with vinyl.  You can see that my table top is now at least 6 inches higher too, which will make my back sooooo much happier when I'm cutting fabric.  I might add a stool in the future, but I really don't sit much when I'm crafting unless I'm at the sewing machine. 
I think the biggest organization chore was sorting through Grandma's spools of thread.  She had 2 racks completely stuffed. 
I started by sorting her stash...
Then I added my spools
The end result is 3 nearly full racks of thread beautifully sorted by color (sorry, no picture).  I may never have to buy thread again!  Oh, and see that small pile off to the right side of that last picture?  Those are spools that have just a tiny bit of thread left on them- maybe enough to sew on a few buttons, but nothing more.  I put all of those in a box with a clear lid and stashed them in one of my new drawers.  That left me with just a few pegs left empty on 1 rack just in case I need to add something later. 
I feel so much better now that things are organized and out of sight.  Time to start some new projects...

Monday, March 7, 2011

15 Favorite dog products

I can't believe I haven't done a post about dog products before!  We have found some really fun, useful items for Titus over the years that I would love to share with you.  In no particular order...

#1-  Jolly Ball- Titus' favorite water toy
This toy was originally designed for horses, but now they make smaller sizes as well (just in case your dog is not the size of a small horse!)  We love this ball because it floats, has a handle, and is incredibly tough.  Titus gets really excited when we get this ball out because it means he'll soon be in the water playing.  He can get his mouth around this 10" ball and squeeze it, but it can't be punctured.  The handle, on the other hand, can be torn up if chewed on for a long time (a dog we were dogsitting chewed up the the handle on ours, so now it is wrapped in duct tape). 

#2-  West Paw Zisc - Titus' favorite frisbee (and other products)
This is Titus' all-time favorite frisbee.  We've tried several brands and materials, but this one is the best.  It's soft for catching but made of durable "zogoflex" material for durability.  Again, we don't let Titus sit and chew on this toy, but it has held up to years of playing and we use it nearly every day.   It's particularly perfect for snow play since it's easy to see and lands on top of the snow instead of getting lost in it like a ball. 
West Paw also makes other toys like the "hurley" and "huck."  These are great chew toys and endure tons of gnawing without any tooth marks at all!

#3-  The Raquetball - Titus' favorite indoor ball
You would think that raquetballs would be too small for our 97 lb beast, but he absolutely loves them.  Again, great for chewers, but I've seen tiny dogs enjoy them as well.  We've only had 1 destroyed and that was because it was left out in the sun and rotted.   For this reason, we try to keep these as indoor balls (except for when using #13).  These are also great because they don't get full of slobber like tennis balls do, they have great bounce, and are easy to clean.

#4 and #5- The Chuckit Ball Launcher and Whistler Balls - Titus' favorite outside balls, my most used launcher
The Chuckit launcher is great for outside play.  No more touching slimy, muddy balls!  I prefer the shorter version, but we have the longer one as well.  The tennis balls that come with the launcher are worthless- Titus chews them in half in a couple of bites.  However, the whistler balls are wonderful!  They kind of whistle as they fly and are made of durable rubber of some kind.  So far Titus has not destroyed them.  Warning: after years of using the ball launcher, you may not be able to throw normally ever again.  I have such a "girl throw" now.  Also, make sure the balls you buy match the size of launcher you have- they come in several sizes.

#6- Elevated dog bowl - Titus' favorite place in the house!
This is a must for tall dogs.  There are tons to choose from, but I like the ones with storage.  This is the one we have.  It can be adjusted to 2 different heights.

#7- Rubbermaid collapsible bowls- Titus' favorite travel bowl
These bowls are great for vacations or day trips.  They pack flat, have a lid, and come in a few different sizes.  I love them.

#8- Leash saddle - Titus' favorite walking accessory
Most people have never seen one of these.  It is a little saddle for your retractable leash that has 2 zippered pockets and 2 velcro pockets.  It is the perfect size for your keys, ID, poop bags, etc.  Totally a must-have in my book.

#9- The Nylabone - Titus' favorite chew toy
These are great for heavy chewers.  Get the size and durability appropriate for your dog.  We have 3 different styles and love them all.

#10- The Sunglo collar- Titus' favorite water accessory
This is a must-have for swimming dogs.  The nylon is coated with polyurethane which means the water and dirt cannot penetrate.  Translation: no stinky collar after swimming! 

#11- Rinse Ace pet shower products- Titus' favorite bath accessory
If you don't have a hand held shower head, this is for you.  Rinse Ace has several designs to choose from.  We have one that quick connects to a junction at our shower head and one that connects to the sink faucet.  Either way, I prefer the style with an "easy-lock clip."  It's similar to the clip on the nozzle at a gas station and saves much hand fatigue while bathing your favorite pooch.

#12- Baby gate - Titus' least favorite item
Great for containing dogs as well as babies!  Yes, Titus could easily jump over the gate, but don't tell him that!

#13- Hyper Dog ball launcher- Titus' favorite sling shot
Ok, this toy is more fun for the owner than the dog- seriously.  I like to use raquetballs instead of tennis balls due to the slobber factor.  A wet ball just seems dangerous to me, and who wants to sling drool everywhere!?!  I also hold the ball instead of the pocket for better control.

#14- Gloves - For me, not Titus!
I wear these anytime I have to touch dirty toys- particularly when playing with #2 and #13.  Get them in the winter for $1 at most stores.

#15- Outward Hound dog backpack - Titus' favorite hiking accessory
Yes, we make Titus carry his own food and water when we're backpacking.  It's a rough life.  There are tons of styles available, but this is the one we have.  It has worked well for many years.

So there you have it, my top 15 dog products.  Do you have something to add?  I would love to hear about your favorite pet finds!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lab Quote Friday #12

Just one for this week, but it made me laugh.

"How much ethidium bromide would I need to be exposed to to become Spider-man?"

I totally love the kid that asked this.  He's only a freshman, so I'm sure he will be the source of many more lab quotes in the future.
Hope y'all have a great weekend.  I have a craft room overhaul in the works- so exciting!!  I'll try to remember to take pictures...