Monday, August 20, 2012

July 15th, 2012

July 15th, 2012, is the worst day of my life to date.  My boyfriend, DeForest, passed away from complications from a ruptured appendix that day after a week and a half in the hospital and doctors telling us that he was doing fine and recovering.  That's not a critique on the doctors - medicine is complicated and I don't think anyone did anything wrong and ruptured appendices can take people unexpectedly; it's just a statement of how unexpected and shocking it was.  He was my favorite person in the whole world, and the best person I have ever known (and I know a lot of really great people).  To people who don't know him, it's impossible to describe just how warm and caring this man was, and just how many people's lives he changed, and while it is incredibly amazing that this man loved me most in the world, it's incredibly hard to have that gone.

I'm getting better slowly.  But that would be why I haven't posted anything on the blog in two months.  Well, the first couple weeks of that are because I started playing Minecraft again, and between Minecraft and pulling things together for Pennsic I was being lazy about posting on the blog.  And then we went to the hospital on July 4th.  We had spent the morning sewing together, laughing and cuddling the kittens and sewing clothes to bring to Pennsic, the annual two-week SCA event that over 10 thousand people attend.  And then the pain started.  That week and a half in the hospital is both wonderful and not - DeForest got to see just how loved he was, and I know he was humbled and awed by how many people were constantly visiting him, and we got even closer that week as we realized just how dedicated we were to each other as I was there every day in the hospital with him.  Of course, it was also in a hospital, and he was in more pain than usual (he had Crohn's disease, lupus, and cronic neuralgia on 32 square inches on his side, so he was used to more pain than I've ever known), so that part wasn't the best.  But I will always remember the look on my man's face every time I walked into the hospital room - I've never seen anyone look at me with that much adoration and love.  I couple days ago I was hanging out with a friend, and I was saying how I loved DeForest so much, and she just looked at me and said "that much was obvious."

Some days are bearable now, and are starting to be decent.  Other days suck.  It's been five weeks now.  It might be a while before I start posting things again here, but I'll be back eventually, I imagine.  I know he would want me to continue doing all the things I love and continue loving life as much as I did (and still do, though it's hard some days), and I liked posting here about the things I made/make.
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Kittens are Home!

Yeah, you read that right.  I brought home two kittens, not one.  First I found out that I was the only confirmed person taking kittens out of the litter of five.  Then my friend Paul heckled me about being careful or I'll bring two of them home.  After some thought, I did an internet search of two kittens vs 1 kitten, and overwhelmingly the answer was always get two kittens if you can, because they will keep each other more entertained and happy, and therefore will be better behaved - less likely to tear the furniture up from boredom or meow all the time when you're not home and annoy your neighbors, etc.  So I decided to go for it!  And the vet agreed when I took them to the vet yesterday, saying that she always recommends two kittens (though only one dog at a time).

Here they are!  Gnome (pronounced "genome") is a girl, and she's a tabby with orange markings (her nose is orange!).  Kobold is our little elfin black cat - his face is too narrow for his ears, so he looks kind of fey.  They were really calm in the car ride!  We had a 2.5 hour ride home from Ionia, where we picked them up, and they spent a lot of it sleeping and were really quiet.

Gnome spent most of the ride (when she wasn't zonked out) with her nose up against the window.  I had picked her up a couple times to see outside, and then she kept rearing up to look out the window herself.  After some exploring, she found the triangle window up at the back of the car and laid there for the rest of the trip right behind my shoulder.

Kobold didn't care about the window.  He just curled up on the seat and stayed there.

Here are the wee ones curled up on the papasan!  I interrupted their nap taking a photo, oops.  They went right back to sleep, though.  So, we didn't get home until 11 pm the night I got them, and then they thought it was highly exciting exploring the entire house.  I didn't get to bed until after midnight sometime, and then they decided that 1:45 am was the perfect time to start jumping around and attacking my feet.  After putting them off the bed twice and having them jump right back up and attack me again, they got put into the living room for the night.  It's really nice having two of them - I don't have to worry about them being lonely if I kick them out of bed, as they have each other.  And boy, are they adorable, watching them run around and pounce on one another.

And then we went to the vet yesterday afternoon!  They weren't happy about the shots, but they got two little toys and had a great time batting them around the room for 20 minutes as we waited on test results.  They don't have leukemia, which is awesome, though they do have fleas.  The anti-flea medicine should kill them shortly, though.

Thankfully, they slept much better last night.  They were quiet from 10 pm until 7 am!  I accidentally rolled over onto them with my shoulder once, oops.

This morning as I was eating breakfast I looked over and they were on the cat tower!  I think I gasped, because DeForest looked up at me and I just pointed.  Yay!

Gnome managed to leap up onto the box level!  Then she wasn't sure how to get down for quite a while, haha.  She turned in circles for a while, chasing her tail, in between trying to figure out how to get down.

Kobold tried to join her and failed!  I'm so glad I was holding my camera at the time, because he hung there for a few seconds and it was really funny.

Swatting at each other from different levels...

They are so cute.  They haven't quite figured out how to get between all the levels - mostly, they appear to climb the outside of the tower to the top part and kind of dart in and out that top level, along with spending some time going in and out of the very bottom level.  They'll figure out they can fit up the ramp soon enough, I'm sure.  Yay, kittens!
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Blacksmithing at Tyger Hunt

Aw, look at me so happy.  I like this picture a lot.  I usually wear knee-high leather lace-up boots, but they are at the cobbler's this week getting re-soled.

I did blacksmithing this past weekend for the first time!!!  My life is so awesome.  For those who don't know, I'm a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (, which is an amazing medieval recreation group.  It's an international organization filled with people who like learning about old things, including medieval crafts like blacksmithing.  The world is broken up into kingdoms (yes, with royalty that change every 6 months - you win the crown by winning tournaments of heavy armored fighting or fencing). 

This past weekend I was at one of our events called Tyger Hunt.  The name comes from the fact that our neighboring kingdom, the Kingdom of the East (which is the upper east coast of the USA), has the Tyger as its symbol.  The Middle Kingdom, where I live and encompassing Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and a bit of Canada, has a dragon as our symbol (our war cry is Draco Invictus - dragon unconquered).  So, inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom "hunt the Tyger," as it is our "enemy" in our biggest event of the year, the great Pennsic War in August (imagine almost 12,000 people camping in medieval gear for two weeks, taking and teaching hundreds of classes and having giant melee battles with hundreds of fighters [heavy armored fighting, fencing, and archery] on the field battling for war points).  Well, usually they are our enemy - this year we're fighting with them on our side against everyone else that shows up for a change.

Anyway, you should check out your local chapter if you're interested in learning medieval stuff from really cool people!  You get to do and see so many fantastic things, and for next to no money, as everyone in the society is there, volunteering their time to teach others.  How much did it cost me to do blacksmithing?  Well, some gas money to drive to the event, and the site fee was $10.  Of course, that $10 covered the entire day - I fenced in tournaments for several hours in the morning, then shot some archery at the archery range, and then did blacksmithing.  The lunch tavern had a very filling meal for $5.  There was also spinning, weaving, and woodworking you could learn from craftspeople.  I was taught the blacksmithing for free, and the materials were free as they were provided by the site.  So it arguably cost me a couple dollars to learn some blacksmithing and then take home my creation.  

You really should check out the SCA if you're fascinated by it!  You can start by going to local group weekly meetings, like craft night or fencing practice, where you don't need to wear garb (the medieval clothes) and can meet people in a fun, unstructured environment (and these meetings are usually free).  Your local group should also have a Chatelaine, who is responsible for introducing new people to the group, and a Gold Key, which has loaner garb for people who don't have their own.

Okay, I can be done trying to sell you on the SCA for now. Click on the jump to see more sweet pictures of me blacksmithing and see what I made!
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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cat Tower Part 4

Heya, internet!  This is the last big post about the cat tower.  There will probably be a little update later when I add in toys and a hammock, but that will just be a couple photos.  This post finishes up the major construction of the cat tower - adding all the carpet.

To see what these carpet remnants did to the tower, click on the jump!

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cat Tower Part 3

This post covers the rest of the woodworking for the cat tower.  Woo!

This is the bed post I found in a scrap wood pile.  It might have cost me $0.50 or something - I forget (and didn't add that into the final budget... oops).  Click on the jump to see more pics of how it's incorporated into the tower!

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cat Tower Part 2

This post is going to show the beginning of transforming the cat tower.  To see the overview of the project, check out part 1!  I will be showing the pictures on getting the bottom of the cat tower remade in this post today.

This is how the tower started (mentally add the knobs back in - I had removed some before I took the picture).  You can see it with most of the drawers taken out (bottom drawer left in).  Also, look at the side - a lot of the seams were coming apart - it was a pretty rickety old dresser.  But hey - it was $10 and about the size I wanted.

If you're wondering why I used a dresser, or how I came up with the idea - it just popped into my head as I was wandering around the ReUse Center, trying to find something that I could turn into a cat tower.  I wanted something cheap enough to make it worthwhile, and also sturdy enough that I could reasonably make it so that it wouldn't rock from the cat climbing on it.  After rejecting a lot of the other pieces of furniture in the Center, it occured to me that I could take the drawers out a dresser and use them to make ramps and things.  And so the project began!

There are a LOT of pictures in this post, so I'm putting them after a jump.  Just click on the jump and see the rest!
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Friday, June 1, 2012

Cat Tower!!!!!!1! Part 1

Whew!  The cat tower is DONE!  Well, all the wood and carpeting work is done, and I have the eyebolts in where I plan to hang the cat hammock and the toys.  Tonight I'm just posting the beginning and end photos, along with a summary of the process (cost, tools, etc).  I'll be making several posts about how I transformed it in the very near future, as I have 93 photos that I took while making it.  :)

The Beginning: An Ugly Old Dresser

The dresser did actually have all the knobs on it - this was after I took a few of them off (I forgot to take a picture at the very beginning).

The End: An Awesome Cat Tower!!!

It took me most of May, but I made it!

Cost: $57.73
Dresser (ReUse Center): $10
Sisal Rope (Lowe’s): $20.61*2/3 = $13.74 (I only used two of three rolls)
Carpet Remnants (Habitat ReStore): $12.46
Staple gun staples (Ace Hardware): $4.20
Wood glue: $6.34
Tacks: $1.03
Eyeboltss: $3.06
Screws: $1.90
New staplegun and staples: ~$5 for staples, plus ~$15 for the gun (gun not counted in price, as that's a reusable tool)

Also, I used quite a few nails and wood scraps that I had around the house already.  Oh, and a couple leather scraps (but I own lots of leather scraps).  And 8 L-brackets we had in our random nails and brackets box - those were very useful, too.

Tools Used:  Staplegun, jigsaw, circle saw, power drill, screwdriver, 6 clamps, two 8-lb weights, hammer, needlenose pliers, scissors, carpet knife, permanent marker, pencils, rulers (cloth sewing ruler, measuring tape, and at least two sizes of clear hard plastic square sewing rulers)...  I think that's everything.

Hours:  A lot.  Carpeting the thing alone was three sessions that were probably at least 3-4 hours long... I would say 25 hours would not be overestimating the time I put into this thing, and it could have been a whole lot more.  And if you count the waiting hours, it is much longer, as often I would glue something in place and then have to wait overnight before doing the next step.

Would I do it again?  Hmm... I'm not sure.  If the cat loves it, it definitely a lot cheaper than most cat towers out there for its complexity.  I sure hope the cat loves this thing.  But it did take a lot of time, and a lot of loud noise with power tools and hammering, and it made a huge mess every time I worked on it (I swept up a good pile of sawdust or carpet shavings after every session).  I'm glad I made it, definitely, but I'm not sure how soon I'd make it again.  Or maybe I'd make it a little differently next time.  It was a fun adventure, certainly, and one that I'm happy is (mostly) wrapped up!  I'm excited to share the photos of how this thing got transformed.

Here are links to all the parts of this project:
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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

I used a random sequence generator to determine the winners of the giveaways, with the first number in the sequence being the winner (counting the first commenter as #1).

There were nine people who entered the creeper plushie giveaway!

And the winner is Richard Healey, whose son loves Minecraft and will be turning 8 soon.  I love hearing about children playing Minecraft - it's such a wonderfully creative game, and I think it is great.  Not only does it expand their creativity, but I imagine it teaches them self motivation and things like that, as there isn't anyone out there telling them what to do - it's all internal, and the simple joy of completing something that you decided you wanted to do.  I'm so glad a kid is getting it!

There were seven entries for the jeans parts!  I'm so glad some people saw the potential in these pieces like I did.  I try to minimize what I throw away as much as possible, and these pieces are still great useable pieces.  I just have so many other projects going on right now that I wanted to clear space out for other things that were more pressing at the moment.  Thanks for letting me do that and knowing that the pieces were going to a good home!

And the winner is Mike and Jackie!  Have fun being creative with the jeans parts!

Thanks everyone for participating in my giveaways!  It was fun!  ~Kelly

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jeans Parts Giveaway!

Hi, everyone!  I am participating in Giveaway Day with two giveaways this week!  After checking out my giveaways, go to Sew Mama Sew to see the many other giveaways.

This giveaway is for the parts of jeans.  It includes 14 front pockets, a bunch of belt loops, 8 metal zippers, 4 back pockets, and one unfinished jean "skirt" which will give another set of pockets, belt loops, a zipper, and some material.  This material is left over from me making rag rugs and gifts out of jeans.  I can think of some fun things to do with these parts, but simply have too many other projects that are more pressing.  I hope someone will find them useful!  Here are pictures of the parts:

Front of the unfinished "skirt" - intact pockets, metal zipper, belt loops, and a good amount of denim.

Back of the unfinished "skirt"

4 back pockets, 2 pocket flaps, and 2 pieces with belt loops attached.

4 zippers, 6 front pockets, belt loops, etc

4 zippers (one really long!), 8 front pockets, belt loops, etc
Who can enter? Anyone in the United States or Canada.  International shipping is too expensive for me right now - maybe another year!

How can I enter?  Leave one comment before Friday, May 25th at 5 pm PST (8 pm EST)!  I'd love to know what kinds of things you like to make with parts of jeans, though if you'd rather just leave a random comment, that would be fine, too.  I will pick a random comment to be a winner with a random number generator.

You said two giveaways.  What else have you got?  I am also giving away a plushie Creeper that I made by hand.  It is a mob from the game Minecraft, which I play obsessively some weeks.

Creeper Plushie Giveaway!

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Creeper Plushie Giveaway!

Hi, everyone!  I am participating in Giveaway Day with two giveaways this week!  After checking out my giveaways, go to Sew Mama Sew to see the many other giveaways.

This giveaway is for a Creeper Plushie!  I made it entirely by hand and filled it with really soft pillow stuffing, so it is really wonderfully soft and squishy and I almost don't want to give it away (I might make another for myself later).  The middle is also perfect for a pillow!  It is hand sewn, not machine sewn, so there is the occasional puckering of a seam, but it's still pretty adorable.  The face is black fabric that is sewn around the edges with green thread.  On to the pictures!

Too close!  It will explode!  Ah!!!  And yes, this is me, the maker.

Who can enter? Anyone in the United States or Canada.  International shipping is too expensive for me right now - maybe another year!

How can I enter?  Leave one comment before Friday, May 25th at 5 pm PST (8 pm EST)! If you are a Minecraft player, your comment should answer one of these questions: What is your favorite Minecraft build (feel free to link to pictures!), or What is your favorite thing to do in Minecraft?  If you are not a Minecraft player, let me know why you're interested in the plushie (your kid/partner/friend plays, etc). 

I will pick a random comment to be a winner with a (mostly) random number generator.  By "(mostly) random" I mean this: If I get a fair number of responses from people who either are Minecraft players themselves or want this to give to an avid Minecraft player they know, those people will have preference over those who have no idea what Minecraft is and just think the plushie is cute.  I am choosing the winner this way because I think that there is extra joy in knowing the meaning behind something, and I believe a Minecraft player will be able to enjoy this plushie a lot more than a non-Minecraft player (omg!  I'm hugging a creeper that won't explode!  Haha! - that kind of thing).  Please do comment if you don't know what Minecraft is, though, and would still like the plushie - you never know, you could still win.

You said two giveaways.  What else have you got?  I am also giving away parts of jeans (includes pockets, belt loops, metal zippers, etc).

Jeans Parts Giveaways!

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Holy Moly Garage Sales

Today was my neighborhood's coordinated garage sale day.  Such an awesome idea!  A couple of our neighbors printed up fliers and put them in everyone's door that Saturday May 19th was the neighborhood day to do garage sales, and it worked!  DeForest and I spent about 3 hours today going to something like twenty garage sales around the neighborhood, and I found some great loot.

Great lightweight heavy-duty padded case for $5.  This will end up holding ALL my Dominion cards when the expansions finally stop coming out (~April 2013).  I think all I have to do is make four dividers to go down the middle (the padding will be taken out).  Then all the rulebooks will fit nicely behind the screen in the top, which pops out, and the tokens and little game boards will fit in the pockets in that screen.  Sweet!

Michigan t-shirt: $0.25.  Fo realz.  It fits pretty well and is a nice cheery yellow color.  :)

Charcoal grill for $5!  DeForest and I had been muttering about getting a grill so that we could take the heat of cooking outside during the hot summer months, and now we can!  All we need to do is buy a bag of charcoal and scrape the daylights out of this thing to clean it up.

Candle holder (...because I need more of those?) and 11 wooden pictures frames with no glass.  Candle holder: $2; picture frames: $1.10.  Boo yeah.  Maybe I'll finally get around to hanging up all my family photos now that I have a bunch of neat frames.

Perfect-sized travel bag: $5.  DeForest has a bag pretty much exactly this size, and I steal it all the time.  It fits an amazing amount in it (more than enough for a weekend trip, including several board games, of course), and fits underneath an airplane seat. Yay!  And I can pretend that "SI" stands for the international system of scientific units.

Bowls: $3.  I love the design on the sides, and I'm pretty sure that I'll be using two of these as food/water dishes for the kitten (coming June 17th!).

Christmas bulbs: $3 for the assorted box, $0.10 for the other neat one, and $0.50 for an unopened box of hangers.

Four Terry Pratchett novels: $2.00.  I've never read his books, but I've been told my many people I respect that I would like them a lot.

Two onesies (for a friend): $1.00.  Five popsicle molds, two soft boiled egg dishes, and a wonderfully-sized pizza peel: $4.00.

Curtains: $1.00!  We finally got the curtain rod about a week ago, and our laziness in making the curtains has paid off.  They are actually twice the length as seen here, but DeForest doubled them and sewed the bottom to the top so they are double the thickness and fit out windows better.  Also, there are two curtains - one actually stretches the entire width, but we put both of them up there as we didn't feel like cutting up the curtains.  They are actually handmade a long time ago by the person selling them at the garage sale, which is really neat!

Collapsible box: I forget... maybe $0.50?  I have four of these already, and they are really useful storage devices.

Amazing wooden box: $7!  It actually has a bunch of fishing doodads inside it - I'll go through them another day and decide what I want to keep and what I should give to Uncle Mike or someone.  The box is really well-made and after some love cleaning it up will hold... something useful in my house.

Little Miss Sunshine: originally $2, but free with the "neighbor discount."  Our neighbor Kat gave this to me for free, as she mostly wanted to get rid of some stuff and reminded me that I had given her an extra bookcase I had when I moved in.  I haven't seen it yet, so I'm excited!  I've heard good things about this movie.

Four big plastic storage bins: $4 (that's right - $1/bin).  These will help us in storing things in our shed behind our house, and in bringing things to Pennsic in August. Yay!  What an amazing deal.

Four folding chairs: $4.  We can now seat twelve people in our house if we bring out all the chairs, which is awesome for the big board game days we throw every couple months.  I got two folding card tables for $10 off Craigslist a few months ago, but didn't really have the chairs to go with them.  Now I do!

DeForest also found four pairs of really nice children's shoes in sizes his nephew can wear for $5 and four books he really wanted (including one that had been stolen from him last year) for under $2.  Woo!

All in all, we spent $54.45, plus $1.50 on some very tasty lemonade that kids were selling.  A lot of money to spend garage saling, but we sure did get a ton of amazing stuff.  :)
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