felties & tofurky

I almost finished the entire set of felties over the weekend. I just have one I couldn’t make because I ran out of white felt and need to buy some gauze bandaging. It’s a mummy cat!

  • Sun-Loving Rat: I used seed beads for the chips on his ice cream cone.
  • Polar-Roo: The little cub can be taken out of the mommy’s pouch. Stuffing that tiny thing was practically impossible. The directions said to use a red pencil for the inside of the ears and the cheeks, but I used pink french knots for the insides of the ears and tiny circles of pale pink felt for the cheeks. And I used black threads for the claws instead of the specified pencil marks. I thought it would look too dingy on the white felt.
  • Pensive Rabbit: It sort of looks like he has no arms, but I think they’re meant to be behind his back. I like his tripped out looking eyes and his tilted head.
  • Sleepy Fox: This was one of the smallest projects in the book and a bitch to stuff. The design used brown felt, but I thought red would be cuter.

I didn’t do much over the long weekend. Funny, but you still look forward to long weekends even when you don’t have a job. I usually go see a movie on Thanksgiving, and I had planned to see The Road (and be thankful that I don’t live inside Cormac McCarthy’s head, which seems like a deeply disturbing place).

But I just wasn’t feeling it, so instead I slept late, opened a bottle of wine, and put the tofurky in the oven around 2:00. Did I mention I was going to make one? I’ve always been curious, and since it’s just me I decided what the hell. If it sucks, I’ll just chuck it and make that BBQ chicken pizza I have in the freezer.

It did NOT suck, it was quite delicious. It came stuffed with wild rice stuffing and a container of mushroom gravy, and I threw some carrots and onions in the pan, which were nicely caramelized by the time the tofurky was done. I had a side of 4-cheese scalloped potatoes, which kind of ruined the vegan aspect. Oh well, I’m just not a fanatic.

Friday I celebrated “Buy Nothing Day”. I’m making most of my Christmas gifts again this year, but even on years when I don’t do that I make a point of not going out — at least not to any malls or retail establishments — on Black Friday.

It kind of amazes me how most people don’t think of their lives in monetary terms. Like okay, I could get a shop vac for $29.99! But to get it I’d have to do battle with crowds of deal-crazed shoppers and possibly get trampled. My emotional well-being is worth more than the money I’d save.

Of course, I have no doubt that some people actually enjoy the adrenaline rush. Anyway, I hope all my friends that own retail establishments made some scratch.


california academy of sciences

I finally finished uploading and editing my photos.

The Osher Rainforest exhibit is something that was new to me. It’s a 5-level enclosed dome inside the building. The walkway spirals around like the Guggenheim and as you ascend, it takes you through different rainforest environments. Most of the animals are in enclosed cases and rooms, but there are butterflies and birds flying around free, and lots of trees and plants.

As you leave the Osher Rainforest, it takes you underneath the water part of the exhibit, which is one of the entrances to the Steinhart Aquarium.

I took one with the flash; but somehow I like this one better, even with the blurriness. Photos don’t always have to be in total, crisp focus.

There’s something very Victorian-era Naturalist about the collection cabinets, so I thought it was a good subject for a fake lomo.

The Living Roof is also an exhibit that wasn’t part of the old museum. They vent hot air from inside through the domes on the roof, and there are solar cells. The whole building is very revolutionary in regards to energy, it won all kinds of awards when it opened last year. It’s lit predominantly with natural light and uses very little water for its size.

That’s Sutro Tower in the background.

I took a lot of photos, you can see the whole set if you want.

felties: little lion, panda, babushka, & mushroom girl

I’ve moved from softies to felties. There isn’t a huge difference between the two: felties are usually smaller and have less stuffing. I’ve put a quarter in the shot for scale. I made all 4 of these yesterday; items this small only take about 30-40 minutes, an hour tops, to make. The hardest part is really cutting those tiny pieces of felt.

Clockwise from upper left: Little Lion, Panda, Babushka, Mushroom Girl.

  • Lion: This one was really hard to stuff because the body is so tiny. I wound up using a pencil because even my little finger was too big.
  • Panda: His eyes are kind of disturbingly blank, I think I’ll add black seed beads for pupils. For all projects with pink cheeks, the directions specified using a red pencil. But I didn’t feel like making a trip to the craft store to buy one, so I just cut out teeeeeny circles of pink felt and glued them on. I think it works.
  • Babushka: I think this is actually supposed to be a matryoshka, a Russian nesting doll. “Babushka” is actually just the name for the headscarf. I think I’ll take this one to the copy shop and have them make me 125% and 75% scale copies, so there’s a proper set. I’ll vary the decoration on each a little.
  • Mushroom Girl: The design called for red felt with white polka dots for the mushroom cap, but I knew I’d never find polka-dotted felt. So I approximated it with red felt and little clusters of white seed beads.

Making these is crazy addictive. There are 18 designs in the book and I wouldn’t be surprised if I make them all over the long weekend. Damn, I wish I could sell these!

elephant with bird softie & the drinking of milkshakes

This one didn’t come out quite right, I’m pretty sure the ears should be higher. The directions were for machine-sewing, and had all this stuff about basting and seam allowances, and I just went “fuck it” and tried to figure it out myself. But except for the ears — which can be fixed — I think it looks pretty good for something with so many pieces that was sewn entirely by hand.

This is the last design in this particular book that I’m going to make. There’s a few more that I don’t want or have a need for: A Happy Birthday banner, one that just looks way too impossible to do by hand, and an iPod case. I don’t have an iPod, my mp3 player is a lot smaller (and I already made a case for it). …However, there are some members of my family who do have iPods, so it might do to keep it in mind for a Christmas present.

But me and felt aren’t finished yet! Yesterday I bought this book at Borders, and every single design in it looks insanely cute. I also want to get this book eventually; Borders did have it, but it had been opened and looked pretty beat up and I didn’t trust that all the patterns were still there, so I think I’ll buy an untouched copy from Amazon. There’s one duplicate (the little happy tree guy on the cover) from the book I just finished, but the rest are new to me.

In other news, yesterday I got There Will Be Blood from Netflix, and ho. ly. SHIT. it was amazing. When my brother David saw it he said it was like Daniel Day-Lewis was like “Oh, you thought I was a talented actor before? *mimes rolling up sleeves* STAND BACK, BITCHES.”

I am so going to shout BASTARD IN A BASKET at the next person who annoys me.

penguin softie & medical bills

Wow, that’s really not in focus. I could tell ’til I’d uploaded it. Oh well, you get the idea. The pattern specified fuchsia and white, but fuchsia just doesn’t seem like a very penguin-y color. Yet, light purple does. I don’t know why. I used purple quartz beads from an old busted bracelet for the eyes. I knew I was keeping those for a reason.

Okay, so I know I said I wasn’t going to make any softies this weekend and work on my grandmother’s Christmas present instead. And I did, I worked on it Friday evening and nearly all day Saturday. Then I started to hate it, so I took a break and made this little guy.

In other news, I got the bill from Washington Hospital for my bronchitis-inspired trip to the ER last month, right before I got axed at work. Insurance is paying for everything except $100. Which is a huge relief, because the way my life is going lately, I totally expected them to decide they weren’t going to pay for any of it. My PPO has a committee that decides whether and how much they’re going to pay for ER services. Theoretically they could have decided it wasn’t an emergency and billed me the entire amount. I can see some bunch of suits sitting around and going “Well, she was basically drowning every time she lay down, and had been delirious with 102 degree fever for 5 days, but that’s not an emergency! She should have just had some chicken soup!!”

So while that’s good news, I can’t help but wonder what the fuck the other $1268.73 was for. Here’s what happened: The triage nurse took my temperature and blood pressure and asked some questions. Then I was admitted to the ER and the ER nurse gave me some Tylenol and asked some more questions. The ER doctor listened to my chest, had me walk around the room, looked in my ears and eyes, asked some more questions, and wrote me some prescriptions. Which I paid $10 each for, by the way — and they were generics! I probably could have gotten them cheaper if I DIDN’T have insurance.

That was it. No X-rays, CAT scans, or MRIs. Dr. House and his team of highly-qualified assistants did not show up and put me through a battery of weird tests and exotic drugs. $1368.73, please. Fucking ridiculous.

But it has inspired me to continue my insurance through COBRA. It’s only about $28 per month, and god forbid I relapse or get sick again. I’d have to pay the whole thing.

orange bird softie

Eee, I like this one a lot because it’s 3-dimensional. Instead of being just a front and a back sewn together, this one has 2 sides, a front, and a bottom. I stuffed a layer of weighted plastic pellets on the bottom, so it will stand up nicely. It’s hard to make out her white hat against the white wall (some photographer I am), but it’s very jaunty.

This weekend I have to force myself to take a break from these addictive little critters and get more work on Christmas presents done. Most everyone is going to be getting handmade gifts, it’s going to be a lean few months until I can find work (or start mooching off my parents).

ETA: Because several people have asked: No, I am not going to be selling these on Etsy or anywhere else. I did not design the patterns used to make these and it wouldn’t be ethical to sell them for profit, much as I’d like to since I know there’s a market (and could use the $$$). Strictly speaking I think it’s also illegal, copyright violation or something.

softies & science

I’m really pleased with this one. I used the pattern to cut out and assemble the pieces, but the colors and embellishments were my own ideas. I made the hangers out of 20-gauge wire. A lot of the pieces are glued on with fabric glue: the collars, and the petticoat and scalloped bottom, and and the belts on the orange and royal blue dresses. And the bottoms are glued together and only stitched up the side, because real dresses wouldn’t have stitching showing along the bottom.

These are both small — would fit in the palm of your hand — and were each one evening’s work. I especially like the little dog.

In other news, I guess I’m going to Louisiana for the holidays. I was kind of dithering over whether I should, but Mom started nagging me and I got the feeling she really wants me to come. No one is saying anything out loud, but Granny has been in the hospital twice since her 90th birthday. Neither time was serious, except everything is kind of serious when you’re 90. Plus, I really do want to go. I spent one holiday alone in California since they moved down there, and it was pretty depressing.

So I don’t think I’m really going to look for work until after the holidays, because I don’t know how it would look to end an interview with “I’m ready to start right away!… except for the 2 weeks I’ll need to have off because my plane tickets are non-refundable.” Maybe during the holidays I can snoop around and get a better idea of the job market down there, in case it comes to that.

Yesterday I decided on more or less of a whim to go to the California Academy of Sciences, since it’s right across from the deYoung Museum and I knew just how to get there. I couldn’t have picked a better day, because apparently every 3rd Wednesday is free admission. Adult admission is $27.50, so that’s nothing to sneeze at.

In a way it really took me back; but in another way it was like I’d never been there before because it’s changed so much since I was a kid. The only thing that was exactly the same was the Foucault’s Pendulum. I used to watch that thing with rapt attention, and when it finally knocked over a pair of steel pegs it was like I’d won the lottery. Ah, to be an easily-excited child again.

I’ll have photos whenever I get around to uploading them.

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