Wednesday, 28 June 2017

WOYWW 421

These photos of my desk were taken last night, after I’d had a short session working on the tags for my Infusions Mini-Album.

The first is taken from further back than usual, to show the stuff spread out on either side – my two Really Useful Boxes (RUBs) of Distress Inks on the left, and the larger RUB on the right, which contains all my Infusions, Brushos, Dylusions sprays and paints, with their applicators. The central area of the desk is fairly clear because the picture was taken just after I’d finished a tag and inserted it into the page of the mini-album – you can see the pages to the left of the craft sheet.

WOYWW 421a 28-6-17

Here’s a closer view. You can see my Inkylicious Ink Dusters all out on the desk as well – I am using these for applying Distress Inks to the tags to create the backgrounds.

WOYWW 421b 28-6-17

The big box of Infusions etc. on the pull-out unit to the right of the main work area. Beyond, you can see a bit of my little gallery (including a Zentangle picture I did) and my sewing machine in the corner.

WOYWW 421c 28-6-17

Tucked behind the Cuttlebug is my new Tim Holtz/Tonic Stamping Platform, and beyond that, in the red magazine racks, lots of large envelopes with all sorts of bits and pieces in them such as recycled waxed paper and shiny paper, die-cuts etc. The white box and the cardboard box on top of that both contain ribbons, and the red unit underneath with the drawers contains sandpaper and various other bit and pieces. The dark green tubular metal thing is my little stepladder propped up against the further side of the pull-out unit. Also on the pull-out unit is an ice cream box containing all my ink blenders.

For more information on the tags, please see the previous post.

Kittens

Very exciting news – we have found some kittens! They are a pair of sisters, silver tabby BSH-cross (father is a pedigree silver tabby, mother tabby and white). They are very similar in appearance – silver tabby like little tigers, with white bibs, mits and socks. They live near Yeovil in Somerset, about two hours’ drive from here, and I found them on the Pre-Loved site online. They are extreeeemely dinky and pretty and we can’t wait to see them! We are going up on Thursday to view them but we are absolutely sure that these are the ones for us. They are only about 4 weeks old so won’t be ready to come to us till the end of July. They have two little brothers and another little sister too. I spoke to their owner this evening and she says one of the two girls is quite feisty and lively and was the first out of the box. I hope to take lots of photos of them on Thursday.

Knowing we’ve got a bit of time, we have been preparing for the New Arrivals. The other night my hubby sat down with me and we watched some Youtube videos together of various systems for kitty-proofing the perimeter of your garden. We have had various attempts at this in the past, none of which have been very successful. I found a UK-based company which does a very good job, and you can either get them to come and do it, or buy the kit to do it yourself, but my hubby said he could reduce the cost to at least a third by making it up himself, so he’s been doing a lot of drawing and planning, and experimenting with a few samples. He’s also been very busy clearing the back of the garden of a huge amount of ivy, so that he can block up any holes in the fence and start preparing to put up the brackets that he is making, which will hold the stiff plastic mesh. It will only look like Colditz if we put search lights up!!

As for me, I’ve ordered a few things on Ebay, and yesterday, the first of these arrived – a massive kitty tree!

20 Kitty Tree Completed

I spent about 1 1/2 hours putting it together, and I can’t wait to see our new babies having fun on it! For full details, see here.

I’m finding it hard to think of anything other than kittens at the moment!

Infusions Mini-Album–Beginning to Colour the Tags

The first of two posts for today.

Working on the tags last night.

Because the Infusions give a rather busy and textured background, I decided to simplify the background on the tags and use Distress Inks instead, so that the text would be more visible, and then add some infusions at the sides.

The first tag is for the “Colours” title page.

04 Tag 1 Colours Background - Front

For this I applied a selection of green inks with an Inkylicious Ink Duster, and added a small amount of A Bit Jaded and Black Knight Infusions on the right hand side of the tag. The edges were distressed with Black Soot Distress Ink, using a home-made ink blending tool; I did this on all the remaining tags as well.

This is the reverse side of the first tag.

05 Tag 1 Background - Back

For this I used purple Distress Inks and added some Violet Storms Infusions for a bit of texture.

I used some of my small offcuts of card to mop up the mess on the craft sheet each time, and edged each one with Black Soot Distress Ink – I can make these up into cards or something else in future.

The text added to the first tag, using a permanent black marker pen. I added a bit more of the A Bit Jaded and Black Knight Infusions to the bottom of the tag.

06 Tag 1 Text and Extra Infusions

The completed tag.

07 Tag 1 Front Completed

Here is the tag slipped into the title page for the “Colours” section of the album.

08 Tag 1 in Page - Front

The reverse side of the page, with the back of the tag showing.

09 Tag 1 in Page - Back

Moving on to the second tag, again I created the background with a variety of Distress Inks, this time in reds and oranges, and added some Rusty Car Infusions. Again, you can see the mop-up sheet. For this tag, after creating the Distress Ink background, I sprinkled it with some water and then blotted it off with some kitchen paper, leaving a mottled effect.

10 Tag 2 Wet Paper - Front

The water spattering was added to the reverse of the tag as well, which was coloured with Evergreen Bough and Stormy Sky Distress Inks, and some In the Navy Infusions added.

11 Tag 2 - Back

The front of the completed tag.

12 Tag 2 Front Completed

This is the tag in place in the “Wet Paper” title page.

13 Tag 2 in Page - Front

The reverse of the page.

14 Tag 2 in Page - Back

The mopping up sheet from this tag.

15 Mop-Up Sheet from Tag 2

To create a nice mottled effect when mopping up, I heat set it after each mopping.

There are still a LOT of tags to do! This is going to take me some time.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Cat Tree–Unboxing and Assembly

It looks very much as if we have found two kittens, who will be ready to leave their mum in about a month’s time. To prepare for their arrival, we have been ordering a few things, and my hubby has begun work on some better defences to keep them in the garden.

Today the kitty tree I bought from Ebay arrived, in a heavy box.

Unboxing

01 Unboxing

02 All Unboxed

All the parts laid out in order.

03 Ready to Assemble

They had provided everything exactly as set out in the instructions with the exact number of screws etc. They also provided an Allen key to screw it all together. I separated the different sized screws into containers before I began, to make the assembly easier.

04 List of Parts

05 Instructions

Assembling

21 Step 1

22 Step 2

23 Step 3

When attaching the brackets onto the back of the ladder, I made the mistake of tightening the screws too much. I had to loosen them when assembling the ladder to the tree in order to make it easier to line it up correctly. It was a simple matter to tighten them up again once the ladder was in the correct position.

24 Step 4

25 Step 5

At this point I realised that I had inadvertently used the single medium-length screw instead of one of the long ones, so I had to start removing screws until I found it! Fortunately this didn’t take long. Using a longer one in its place would not have worked, because it would have poked through the bottom of the upper box.

26 Step 6

27 Steps 7 & 8

The completed cat tree

20 Kitty Tree Completed

I can’t believe this whole thing came out of that cardboard box! My hubby is going to make the box into a base for a kitty castle for them to play in. He has made one of these for each generation of kittens we have had – a series of cardboard boxes glued and taped together, with lots of holes cut in them so the kittens can chase each other through the different levels, and poke their paws through. This provides endless hours of entertainment for kitties and humans alike!

The construction of the kitty tree is heavy and substantial and the quality excellent. If anyone is thinking of getting a tree for their kitties I would recommend getting one from Ebay as I paid about half what I would have done had I bought one of this size from a pet shop. This particular one is by Purlove, and they also make a beige-coloured one. The assembly wasn’t difficult and the whole thing took me about 1 1/2 hours to complete – I made one or two mistakes but these were quickly remedied.

I am pleased that it looks quite stylish and will fit in any room. The fur fabric covering the pieces is extremely soft and luxurious, and we both like the dark grey colour, which will also co-ordinate very nicely with our kittens who will be silver tabby! I can’t wait to see them playing on it.

The kitty tree is taller than I am! It is heavy and not likely to get tipped over when being played on. It has lots of interesting things for kitties – different levels, lots of scratching posts – these pillars are wrapped with rough rope – places to hide, and platforms to sit on, nice and high up, where all kitties like to be, and three hanging toy mice for them to play with. There’s also a little ladder to take them between two of the levels, and there are plenty of convenient and interesting features to enable them to play well together on it. At the bottom is an arch made of stuff like bottle brush – they will enjoy going through this and getting an automatic grooming! The tree is also large enough to accommodate them when they are fully grown. I am hoping that having this nice tall tree will discourage them from constantly leaping up on things we don’t want them on.

Now the only thing missing is a pair of kittens to play on it!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Infusions Mini-Album–Cutting the Tags

Several of the pages of my mini-album are made from flattened toilet roll cores, made to take tags on which there will be written instructions and explanations of the various samples of uses of Infusions.

07 Starting to Make the Tags

I counted the number of tags I needed from the typed charts I made, and it came to 30. Using some scrap white card, I have cut out these 30 tags, each measuring 2 1/2 x 4 inches. They slide nicely into the flattened toilet roll centres with enough protruding to pull them out, and to allow for some yarn to be threaded through.

Thinking that pulling them out by the yarn would eventually tear the hole, I made a set of reinforcements for the holes, one to be stuck on each side of the tag.

08 Cutting the Tags and Reinforcements

To make these, I punched a small hole in some scrap card, using my Fiskars small single hole punch, and then lined up my 1/2 inch circle punch as best I could so that the small hole was in the centre, and punched it out. Some of them were a little offset but I’m not too worried about that.

The scraps of card left over from the punching are quite interesting so I think I’ll keep them and use them as masks/collage pieces perhaps.

The tags with their reinforcements.

09 Tags with Reinforcements

Order of work:

  1. Mark centre of short edge of tag.
  2. Stick reinforcement over mark.
  3. Line up small single hole punch over the central hole in reinforcement and punch small hole through tag.
  4. Turn tag over and stick second reinforcement over small hole in tag, lining up holes.

Seems to work OK so far!

Next step: to colour the tags ready for adding text. As the Infusions give a very mottled, textured-looking surface, I thought it would be better to colour the tags with Distress Inks and Distress Stains, and add tiny amounts of Infusions afterwards if they needed a bit more interest, probably concentrating on the edges of the tags that will be visible when they are in situ. After all, the focus on the tags must be the text, not the background, which should remain less conspicuous. I can co-ordinate them with their respective pages.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

WOYWW 420

Not much change on my desk this week – it’s been a busy week and there have been other things to think about…

WOYWW 420 21-6-17

I’ve got out some of my white card scraps to start making tags for my Infusions mini-album. Quite a few of the pages are made from flattened toilet roll centres, in order to hold a tag giving some explanation about what’s on the page. On the left of my desk you can see the printed sheets I made, with instructions about page order, tag info etc. Once the tags are done, I can begin on the binding.

For those who don’t visit my blog apart from WOYWW, we have some sad news – three weeks after Phoebe died, we lost Beatrice (last Wednesday afternoon). She had been going downhill lately, and the loss of Phoebe upset her more than we expected, and she was obviously grieving, and over her final weekend she stopped eating altogether. If she had been younger and fitter, she might have got over it, but she was nearly 17 and not in good health. She was dying of a broken heart as she seemed to lose the will to live without her little sister.

Daddy Cuddling Beatrice & Phoebe 25-12-15

We are heartbroken to be without our two girlies in such a short time. We are pulling out the stops now to find two new grey tabby kittens – no joy yet, but it’s only been a week, and something is bound to turn up soon. I’ve done a little card and my hubby is putting them in various different vets’ surgeries – we did this last time and it was very successful.

Kitten Ad June 2017 Blurred

If you want to read about the lives of our two beautiful kitties and their sisters who we lost when they were both quite young, please click here. Lots of photos and some of their fun antics.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Phoebe and Beatrice RIP

Beatrice and Phoebe Cuddled Up on Bed 19-2-06

Beatrice and Phoebe, February 2006

We are feeling very sad at the moment. In the space of three short weeks, we have lost both our beloved kitties.

On 23rd May, Phoebe, the younger of the two, had to be put to sleep.

Phoebe in Fruit Basket 10 Mar 04

Phoebe, March 2004, 9 months old

She had been suffering from bowel cancer for a while, and we’d been keeping a close eye on her. She had been doing pretty well, and managing to eat, with occasional episodes of vomiting. For the final few days, however, she was not eating at all, and was very subdued and obviously not herself, and we knew that the time had come. My hubby took her on that Tuesday afternoon and brought her little body back and buried it at the top of the garden. She was a month short of 14.

She had been very well for most of her life, but after we moved here 3 years ago, she developed epilepsy and had numerous severe grand mal seizures until the vet finally managed to stabilise her, and in the past year she had only two, about 4 months apart. She took her medication readily, a few drops on her food twice a day, and she was under regular observation at the vet for liver and kidney function, and was pretty well, until she started to vomit. The vet examined her and found a mass which she determined to be a cancerous growth in her bowel.

Beatrice, our older cat, had not been enjoying good health for a long time. For many years she had suffered from various food intolerances, being sick if she ate regular cat food, so since that time she had been having Hill’s Prescription Diet food which we bought online for her – latterly the variety was changed from the one for delicate gastro-intestinal systems to one designed also to protect her bladder health. She was getting recurrent UTIs, necessitating  repeated doses of antibiotics, until the vet said that in view of her age, it wouldn’t do her any harm to be maintained permanently on a low dose antibiotic, and this certainly did the trick. The vet told us that eventually this would cease to be effective and that damage would occur to her kidneys, but in the end the treatment gave her several more years of happy and full life.

Beatrice on Hippo Bottle

Beatrice on my hot water bottle, November 2003

She was a sensitive little soul and was easily upset by changes to her life and routine. When I first came out of hospital after my cancer surgery, she wouldn’t come near me and was obviously distressed. All we could think was that somehow I smelt different to her, with an ileostomy bag. Gradually she got used to it and was back to normal by the time I started my chemo a couple of months later, at which point she freaked out again and gave me a wide berth. At this time she began losing the fur from her hindquarters, and the vet said since there was no evidence of skin disease or allergy, this was over-grooming due to stress, and asked my hubby if anything had changed at home. He told her that his wife had just started her chemotherapy, and the vet said that this was the cause. We tried Feliway plug-ins (a cat-like synthetic pheromone which calms nervous cats) but to no avail. It was months after I finished my chemo that the fur started to grow back.

In recent weeks, Beatrice’s back legs started to get really wobbly and she would fall over, and be unable to jump up (using my poor hubby’s legs like tree trunks, climbing up onto his lap, with claws!) and the vet said she thought she had a compressed disc in her spine which was causing some nerve problems. There was some associated incontinence with this too. One Sunday morning I was due to sing in church and had left my stuff out overnight in order to have a final practice before setting out, and she had peed in my guitar case! My hubby told me she had led him to it when he first got up, as if to say, “Sorry – I had an accident!”

Both kitties being on different medications, and eating different foods, they had to be fed separately, with Beatrice being shut in the downstairs loo – and sometimes getting forgotten for several hours, poor little thing! – however, she never bore a grudge but was just happy and grateful to be released. Life was complicated as they got older and started eating little and often, and there was no way we could go away and leave them in the care of even the most sympathetic and caring neighbour (they had never been in a cattery) because you can’t expect them to hang around all day!

Just after we moved here we got both of them MOT’d by the vet, who discovered a lump on the back of Beatrice’s neck, which she said should be removed, and it might be cancerous. It was quite a major operation for her, leaving a wound several inches long, and she’d had to cut deep to remove it all, but it proved to be benign, much to our relief. The vet told my hubby to get her a T-shirt to wear, to stop her scratching it, but she was a very small cat and everything was going to be too big. Eventually he went to Mothercare and the assistant told him they often get requests like this, and she produced a babygro for a premature baby girl which fitted perfectly. It also had a little frilly skirt on it, and she looked so cute in it! She was as good as gold and never tried to pull it off. When she was getting better, she looked so funny climbing up the apple tree and onto the roof of the summerhouse, like a little tomboy in a frilly dress.

Post-Op Beatrice 1 - 13-02-14

Beatrice in her frilly dress, February 2014

The two kitties were never that close. They were not related. We got Beatrice and her sister Bella in 2000, and before Bella’s second birthday she was killed on the road outside our house, and I broke my heart over that – she was the sweetest kitty and I loved her to bits. Beatrice went into mourning and sat by the cat flap for two days waiting for her to come in, which broke me up even more. Eventually she became accustomed to her absence, but it was hard. They were very close, and would snuggle up together and Bella used to wash her sister – Beatrice has always been the Alpha Cat in the family!

Beatrice and Bella on Scratching Post Autumn 2000

Beatrice and Bella, September 2000, aged about 8 weeks old – little balls of fluff

Bella and Beattrice Falling Out of Kitty Bed Autumn 2000

Bella and Beatrice, Autumn 2000 – two loving sisters

To keep her company after Bella’s death, we got two new kittens, Phoebe and Chloe, born in 2013. Not a success to begin with – Beatrice hated them!

Chloe & Phoebe on Kitchen Chair 1 Dec 03

Phoebe and Chloe, December 2013, about 6 months old

Eventually, after about a year, she accepted them and they all got on fine. A few years down the line, Chloe, who was the most beautiful cat we had ever had, was also killed on the road, so we were left with the two, unrelated, three years apart in age.

Chloe on Bed Exposing Everything 5 Aug 05

Chloe relaxing on the bed, August 2005 – Modesty? What’s that?

Phoebe and Chloe Vignette 2-7-04

My favourite photo of Phoebe and Chloe, July 2004

When Phoebe died, we were surprised at the depth of Beatrice’s grief over her because they were not so close. She sat for days by the back door, looking out, wondering where Phoebe was. There was a place in the corner of the lawn under the little hedge, where Phoebe always liked to sleep, and Beatrice never went there, but after Phoebe’s death, she spent most of her days there, and at night, on the patch on the landing carpet that had also been a favourite sleeping place of Phoebe’s. It was almost as if she was deliberately invading Phoebe’s special places, in the hope that Phoebe would come back to claim them.

During this time Beatrice was very subdued and quite unlike her usual self. She was unsettled, refused cuddles a lot of the time, and started not eating. My hubby took her to the vet and she gave her some liquid medicine that smelt like marmite, to build her up and ease the constipation she was suffering, but she refused it, and then eventually, last weekend, refused food altogether. By Wednesday she was painfully thin and weak, and in a bad way. It was as if she had given up the will to live. My hubby took her to the vet and again brought back a little body to be buried beside Phoebe at the top of the garden. She spent her last day lying on the warm path in the sun, just as Phoebe did on her last day.

Beatrice's Last Day 14-6-17

Beatrice’s last day, 14th June 2017

Since then the house has felt empty and dead. We are missing them dreadfully. We knew we would probably lose them both this year, given their age and general state of health, but had no idea they would both be gone in the space of three weeks.

My hubby has been particularly affected by the loss of Beatrice as those two were joined at the heart. When we went to collect Beatrice and Bella from the place where they were born, we went through the cottage to the French doors at the back which led to the walled garden where the kittens were outside playing, and as we crossed the room, this little fluffy grey bumble bee waddled across the floor and straight into my hubby’s arms, and into his heart, and neither of them ever looked back. All through her life, if she was sitting on my lap and he came in, she’d be straight off me and onto him! I could have been jealous, but one look at the two of them, and how could I be?

Beatrice Cuddling with Daddy 11 May 10

Joined at the heart, May 2010

Phoebe loved him too, and often he would sit with two kitties on him, and I would have none!

One on Each Knee Sept 14

Daddy always the favourite, September 2014

Beatrice was the most intelligent cat we have ever had. She was very communicative, and always had to be at the centre of the action. If anyone came, she had to be there, centre of attention, and would engage in attention-seeking behaviour if she thought we were too involved in conversation with each other and not with her! She had the most winsome ways and even non-cat people loved Beatrice. Where we used to live, when a neighbour started feeding them when we went away, she left a note to say “little blue-collar has stolen my heart.” She had this effect on people. The vets all loved her too.

She was always into things, and the most nosey of all the kitties we have had. She was banned from my studio because she always had to rummage through everything, and pull things out, and she could be quite destructive! When she was younger and had her full set of teeth, she was always doing what we called “chewdling” – she chewed cardboard, important correspondence of my hubby’s, cables (discouraged in the strongest possible terms!) and a series of collars – even the so-called “indestructible” ones! She was a great hunter in her youth and her favourite was bunnies. We had a lot of bunnies where we used to live, in the country, and we were treated to a succession of gory half-eaten corpses with the guts hanging out and then, because she couldn’t restrain herself and would attempt to eat her weight in bunny flesh, heaps of sicked up bunny too… and she generally did it when we had visitors. (Sorry, probably TMI!)

She was also the Computer Queen of the family. She was always on one or other of our laptops.

Beatrice on Laptop 16-12-04

She was very computer-literate and came up with stuff like this:

Beatrice's Typing 5 Logging On

Attempting to log on, January 2011 – what was her password, I wonder?

Beatrice's Typing 7 Working in Word 6 Feb 11

Helping me with my Bible study group preparation, February 2011

Beatrice's Typing - Run Menu

Running programmes, April 2013

Beatrice's Typing 6 File Sharing

File sharing, January 2011 – she could do this before I learnt how to do it!

Beatrice's Typing 8 Help and Adjust Col Settings

Adjusting my settings, May 2011

We never knew what we’d find when we came back and she’d been having a session on the computer. I would find music or videos playing, word documents full of what looked like gobbledegook to me but were probably quite sensible kitty-language stuff… My greatest fear was that she would discover my Paypal password and run up huge bills, buying expensive stuff for herself and Phoebe on Ebay…

Phoebe, by contrast, was a simple little soul and she had no interest in computers, despite Beatrice’s efforts to teach her (she also wanted to start some online computer courses for cats but I drew the line at that). We used to call Phoebe our little Devon Dumpling in her chubby years – there is a pub we go to in Torquay called the Devon Dumpling and we always call it Phoebe’s Pub!

Fat Phoebe in the Hammock

Devon Dumpling, July 2010

Phoebe’s name means “radiant brightness” but unfortunately she didn’t live up to it. She was slow to learn the cat flap and it took her quite a long time to relate to us and build a relationship with us. She was the runt of the litter and lagged behind Chloe in everything, and was extremely timid and never spoke, all the time we had Chloe, but after that she started to blossom. Prior to moving here, if anyone visited, she would disappear upstairs, but after she got used to Mum in the house, she  realised that other people apart from my hubby and me were OK, and she became very friendly and relaxed with everyone. She also found her voice and would communicate with us quite a bit, with a sweet, high-pitched attempt at a miaow. She was adorable with her affectionate little ways, and the fact that she remained like a little child, and for most of her life, she would bury her face under my hubby’s arm, looking for milk, and would suck a finger if you offered it.

Beatrice’s name means “Blessed” and it was often used in the context of “That blessed cat!!” when she had done something particularly naughty!

We have 14 and 17 years of happy memories, respectively, of two beautiful, happy, affectionate and loving kitties who gave us endless entertainment value and joy, and for this we shall be endlessly thankful. Once the sharpness of their loss has passed, this is what we will remember.

We are now busy looking for two new baby sisters to lavish our love on. So far, no joy – we are trawling the Internet and putting out feelers to everyone we know. We are hoping for grey, or silver tabbies; we love these pretty cats who also have lovely temperaments. They will have a good life with us.

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