December 2010


A new beginning for all in our family:  my Oldest Son married his sweetheart on Tuesday!  This is the first photo to surface so far; more to follow when we get them:

Soooo many friends helped us with the wedding.  The cake was made by a friend of ours as a gift.  I bought flowers and greens and another friend arranged them to decorate the cake.



When I was young, Mother sometimes made gifts for her sisters at Christmas time.  One year she made these pincushions–completely wonderful because they have the thread contained right inside, making mending projects so easy.  These pincushions will last for years and years.


My sons made their own pincushions as a sewing project when they were younger.  This year I made several–one for my future daughter-in-law and a few as thank-you gifts for those who helped us with the wedding.  No complicated pattern needed.  Here’s how:

1/3 yard fabric OR pre-quilted fabric
a whole package of bias tape–double-fold, extra wide
1/3 yard quilt batting (if you did not buy pre-quilted fabric)
stuffing–at least 1/2 LB, possibly more
9-10 small spools of thread:  white, black, navy, brown, light & dark gray, baby blue, tan, and heavy-duty craft tan     *** See note about size at the bottom

1.  If you bought pre-quilted fabric:
Make a 9 1/2 ” circle of out paper.  Use this to cut out 2 circles of the pre-quilted fabric.

If you bought regular fabric, you will have to quilt it yourself:

Make a 9 1/2″ circle out of paper. 

Use this circle as a guide to cut out 4 circles of fabric that are 10 1/2″ to 11″ in diameter.  (I make these bigger because it all tends to shift and get out of line when you’re sewing the quilt lines.  This makes it easier to deal with).

Also cut out 2 pieces of quilt batting that are 10 1/2″ to 11″ in diameter.

Wedge a piece of batting in between 2 fabric pieces, WRONG sides together (remembering that the raw edges will end up being covered with bias tape).

Sew straight lines 2″ apart to quilt.  Do this with the other piece of batting and 2 fabric pieces.

Lay the 9 1/2″ paper circle on top of each again and cut them out to that size.

2.  Sew the bias tape onto the raw edges of both quilted circles. 

When you get to the place where the 2 ends meet, tuck one end under and over the other end to make a neat finish. 

3.  Lay both quilted circles on top of each other, and pin them together.

4.  Make a 6 1/4″ paper circle.

5.  Lay it in the center of the quilted pieces and trace around it with a washout marking pencil.  This will make your sewing line.

6.  Sew the 2 quilted circles together, stitching around the inner circle–but leave an opening (about 3 inches) so that you can put stuffing inside later.

7.  Sew “pockets” for the spools of thread to go into:

Sew the quilted circles together just at the bias tape, spaced every 2 3/4″ to 3″.  You should be able to get 10 of these pockets, with an 11th one that may or may not be too small for a spool of thread, but is big enough to tie a bow at the end.

8.  Stuff the inner circle with batting.

9.  Sew the opening closed–by machine if you can manage it with a zipper foot, or by hand if you cannot.

10.  Take the remaining bias tape and make it skinnier so it can be used as a “rope” or string.

One way to do this is to fold it in half and sew it. 

A prettier way is to partly open the tape, fold the 2 halves inward, and THEN fold it in half and sew it.

11.  Place a spool of thread into each pocket, threading the bias “rope” through the holes of each spool.  Do it this way:  thread spool #1; continue the rope into pocket #1; continue the rope into pocket #2; THEN place spool #1 into pocket #1.  Thread spool #2, continue the rope into pocket #3, etc.


Make sure commonly used colors (such as white) are nearer to the opening end so they can more easily be removed if they get empty.

12.  Tie the “rope” into a bow and you’re finished!

**** 10 small spools can fit into the instructions I gave.  However, nowadays they’re hard to find.  I had to drive out of town (Joann Fabrics) to get them and even then, they were new-fangled with fancy tops that make them taller.  If you buy these kind, either reduce the number of pockets you make (and make the pockets larger) OR cut off the fancy tops and bottoms.

Comparing an old-fashioned spool with a new-fangled one

This is after cutting off the tops and bottoms

(see update below)


Days don’t always go as you plan, but sometimes a little excitement adds a bit of interest to life:  that is a SURE thing.

This morning the cats and I traveled to the vet for shots.  It is always stressful.  For my part, I worry about whether or not the outdoor cat will be around when it’s time for me to pack her up; from the feline viewpoint, I’m sure they have other more major (albeit usually unwarranted) things to worry about.

We have two cats:  Imogene, the mother cat who lives outdoors, and Wheezy, the teen-child who goes both in and out when he desires.  I’ve talked about Imogene before, how she was a starved and sweetly sad stray when we first met her, how she gifted us with kittens,

how they all became sick and how I saved Wheezy from the brink of death,

how we got Imogene spayed,

and how everything has settled down to pretty much as normal as it can be when you have a cat in the house.

But I did not tell how Imogene is still not completely tame.

She LOVES to be petted, but not to be held or picked up, AND she is terrified of riding in the cat carrier.  The only time she rode alone in one, she pooped and peed herself almost to the death, poor thing.  So now we travel with BOTH cats together in the box, and I make good use of a calming spray too.

Today I drove to the vet with two cats; I returned home with only one. 

Before you break out the tissues to weep with me, let me assure you that Imogene is alive...just not accessible.

Last time we were there, one of my cats had taken a giant leap to the top of the medicine cupboard–slightly bothersome because it puts an animal out of reach.  The artificial plant on top doesn’t cover the entire area.  And today I was intrigued to see this spot was still openly inviting to any curious and able-bodied feline that might be passing through.

Imogene, that crafty old girl, not only leaped to the top of the cabinet where we could not reach her, but she also proceeded to lift the ceiling tile, give a quick scramble up, and disappear into the attic regions of the entire building!  Much excitement ensued, flashlights and ladders came out, ceiling tiles were lifted everywhere, and I was even visited by the Head Vet himself.

Here is the fateful hole:

So Wheezy and I came home alone.  Knowing her fear of anyone but family, her love of exploration, and her reluctance to be caught in any regular old season, I wonder how long we will be without her?  And here I PROMISED her, on the entire trip up, that she had a good life now and she didn’t have to worry any more!

UPDATE:  One week later, I’m going to bring Imogene home!  She spent 5 days in the “nether regions” without food (she lost half a pound) until they brought a wildlife expert in, who believed she wasn’t ABLE to get down.  He built a ramp with a live trap and sardines at the end and 10 minutes later she was caught.  Bad weather prevented me from going to get her, so she’s been languishing in the place she fears the most.  She will be glad to get here, I’m sure.


Thanksgiving Weekend