Finding work for idle hands: making, baking and more.

Cat toys April 26, 2011

Filed under: Crafts,Sewing — lauravw @ 7:09 pm

A few weeks ago Melissa shared a pattern she had created for a cat toy – the Kitty Kicker. I planned to make one for Daisy, and in the end (because I don’t have a printer at home) I made my own version by guessing the sizes and cutting out a rectangle of fabric.

The reason I was so keen on Melissa’s pattern in the first place was the shape, so I tried to make my toy along the same lines. Anyone who has a cat will have seen them use their front paws to pull a toy towards them, while using their back feet to repeatedly kick it away. If you’ve been really unlucky, they will have demonstrated this behaviour on your arm! Melissa’s Kitty Kicker is just the right shape for a cat to attack it in this way.

I found some dried catmint in a pet shop, and was able to test it out on Daisy. She’s not previously been interested in the stuff, but something has changed: this time, while I was trying to open the box to get some catmint out, she almost mowed me down trying to get to it. She actually sunk her claws into the packaging – and into my hand. So it’s safe to say that she likes it these days.

I also added a little bell, attached to some ribbon. I’m not sure if this adds to Daisy’s enjoyment, but every time I hear the bell tinkling, I know it means she is playing with her toy, and that makes me feel good.

And she really does kick it, just as Melissa intended – you may even be able to see the claw marks in her toy in this picture (Daisy’s is the top one – the one underneath was given to a neighbour’s cats).


It’s not your birthday anymore*

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 7:03 pm

The downsides of being at work on your birthday are obvious, but one of the upsides is that you can drag out the celebrations and treats for a few days on the grounds of having been stuck at the office during the main event. I did this quite successfully, and enjoyed a couple of nice meals out as a result.

I’m a little disappointed now that the birthday post has dried up, but I’ve ordered a few CDs to ensure I’ll keep getting treats landing on the doormat for a little while longer.

Thanks for your kind birthday wishes – I really appreciated it. And I don’t feel any older, which I’m taking as a good sign.

*In case you don’t know, the title of this post is lifted directly from a Morrissey song, which you can listen to here. “It’s not your birthday anymore, there’s no need to be kind to you.”


Festive April 15, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 10:11 am

Next week is my birthday, but I’m celebrating it this weekend because I’ll be at work on the day itself. So I have grand plans in the shape of baking brownies and eating them with vanilla-scented whipped cream. I have a couple of meals out planned, and a few days of general laziness.

I was hoping to go on the big wheel in Nottingham’s Market Square, but they’ve already dismantled it and it has vanished. Which is annoying because I had the same plans last year, and the same thing happened. This year I am sure the website said it would be there until May. But it’s not, and that’s that.

We’ve not had any more visits from our hedgehog friend – I hope we’ll see him again, but most of all I hope he is finding nice places to go and good things to eat.

As usual, I continue to be distracted by things new and shiny, and recently I have been keeping track of some of them on Pinterest. Have you signed up to the site yet? You can request an invitation on the site, or I’d be happy to email you one if you’d like. I can be found here.

Usually, I keep a folder in my bookmarks of clothes from the current/upcoming season that I like the look of, but sticking them on Pinterest will be a lot more useful since I’ll be able to see pictures of everything all in one place. And I love seeing all the various goodies other people are finding and sharing.

This week it’s mostly been fabrics that have been catching my eye, which is strange as I don’t really have any sewing plans at the moment. I like the look of the latest collection by Denyse Schmidt, and this Hydrangea print is in two colours I’m very fond of, brown and yellow. I can definitely see me wearing that print in a top or skirt.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a relaxing weekend!


A nocturnal visitor April 13, 2011

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 7:25 pm

Last night at around 9.30pm I went into the kitchen and noticed that the light in our back garden was on. It’s a motion-activated light, so when it’s on, it usually means that one of the neighbours’ cats has walked by our back door. Very occasionally, it means there is a fox in the garden.

Daisy, our own cat, was with me, and she understands how the light works: if it comes on, she always has a look to see who’s out there. Last night we both stood in the kitchen looking out into the garden, trying to work out why the light had come on. I couldn’t see anything, but Daisy had clearly seen something moving out there, and moved to a different window to get a better view.

From that window, we could see a little bit of movement behind a raised flower bed. It looked small, but I couldn’t get a good enough view to work out what it was. I thought it must be a rabbit, and I started to think about how we would have to catch it and secure it overnight so that we could find out whose pet it was once daylight came. But it wasn’t a rabbit. We saw a little more movement, and eventually it walked quickly across the patio. It was a hedgehog!

We have never seen a hedgehog in our garden before – in fact, I can’t remember ever seeing one in the wild, ever.

At first we were very excited, and we watched the little hedgehog as he trekked back and forth across the patio. Then we started to wonder how he had ended up there, and a bit of worry crept in. Our patio is raised up from the rest of the garden by two or three feet, and we wondered how he would get down into the rest of the garden (or back where he had come from). There are steps, but they seemed altogether too steep for a hedgehog. We put some cat food out for him, and turned off the light so that he would feel safe enough to come and eat it (which he did). And then when he went off to one side of the patio, we snuck out quietly and used a plank of wood to make a ramp down to the lawn, with cat biscuits on it to tempt him to use it.

We watched from the windows as best we could (with the garden still in darkness since we’d turned off the light), and we saw him go over to the ramp, but we never saw him use it. He disappeared off to the side of the garden, and we didn’t see him again. This morning a thorough check of the garden failed to find him, so hopefully he found his way out and onto wherever he was heading.

We had worried a bit as he scuttled around the patio, looking for an exit, as he seemed to be using up a lot of energy. But from the reading I did last night, I learned that hedgehogs can travel several kilometres a night, so hopefully it hasn’t done him any harm – and at least he got a good meal.

Another thing my research turned up was just how much of the globe is home to hedgehogs. I’ve always considered them to be a particularly British animal, but they actually live all over Europe and Asia.

I wonder if we will see him again?


Blossom April 10, 2011

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 11:26 am

I want it to stay like this.

I want to go outside with a glue gun or a stapler or whatever tool it takes and stick the blossom to the trees so that it stays there a really long time.

The weather this week has been so perfect, and there is blossom all over the place. On Friday afternoon we walked around our little town taking pictures of it all – there is a little lawn along the main shopping street here, and it has about a dozen trees along it, all heavy with blossom in varying shades.

This is one of my favourite pictures from that outing – and also this one.

I don’t have much in the way of an update on the baby hares: they have grown a little, and so moved from the plant they were nesting in, which means my parents can’t see them so easily. Once they are grown they will move out into the adjacent fields, where hopefully we’ll still get to see them, albeit at a distance.

Hope you’re enjoying the weekend.


Baby hares April 3, 2011

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 10:43 am

These are the baby hares I mentioned last week.

They are nestled in a catmint plant in my parents’ garden, and luckily for us, that plant is in a flowerbed right under a window – I actually took this photo from inside the house, with my camera just slightly out of the window, so that I wouldn’t disturb them by walking near to their little nest.

I checked on them on and off throughout the day, and they were always there – hardly ever moving. Sometimes they were asleep, and at other times they were fidgeting a little and grooming. As dusk fell, we were surprised to see that one of them had left the nest, and moved to another plant a few feet away – and again, we were lucky because that was also right by a window. He was soon joined by his sibling, and they seemed to wake up a little. They both faced towards the fence (which is where the mother hare would come from to visit them), and they sat and used their paws to clean their faces. I like to think they wanted to have clean faces ready for a visit from their mother. (I managed to get a couple of pictures of them at this point, but the light had faded and so they are rather blurry.)

Because they had been so dozy and slow-moving all day, what happened next was a surprise: they starting running all over the garden, incredibly fast. Hares are well known for their speed, but these sleepy little things didn’t look like they were quite up to that yet.

As the light faded further, we lost sight of them all, so we don’t know how late they stayed up (they are nocturnal). But when I woke up at around 6.30 on Saturday morning, they were safely back in their catmint nest, and their mother was sitting in the driveway next to the garden, keeping an eye on things. I managed to get a couple of pictures of her before she was disturbed by some ponies and hopped away.


April fools April 1, 2011

Filed under: This and that — lauravw @ 10:17 am

I love April fools day, and spent a good hour listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning to see if they would pull any pranks. I find an April fool appearing in the midst of a serious news programme much funnier than one that comes from a more likely source. But with the news how it is these days, it’s not that easy to spot the jokes -the Bronx Zoo’s cobra story is not a joke (though it is amusing), but the piece about 3D radio just before 8am was just silly enough to be a joke. Londonist has done a round-up of other jokes being pulled on us by the papers, which makes for good reading.

Here are the other things I’ve been clicking on this week:

Emergency Preparedness on a Shoestring – this is a topic I’m still giving quite a bit of thought to, and it’s helpful to see that others are too. I plan to post about what plans I’ve made for emergencies soon – just as soon as I’ve got past the planning stage and actually *done* something…

How to make a patchwork quilt – Florence makes this look so easy!

Gluten-free recipes for your favourite cookies.

Another Tunnock’s pilgrimage at I Like. If this were a little bit nearer to Nottingham, I’d love to visit.

Tips for sewing with felt – this looks very useful. I have all kinds of projects I’d like to try using felt, but somehow I never get round to them.

The uncluttered closet – keeping only the clothes you love.

Living in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – a guide to the goods you’ll need for your home. As a teenager, living in the world presented in this film was pretty much top of my wishlist.

I took this picture last Saturday, when we braved the cold weather to go to Wollaton Park in Nottingham. As you can see, our visit coincided with nap time for some of the residents.

This weekend I’m off to see the baby hares at my parents house – hopefully I will return with photographs.