Throw Pillows: Squirrels as My Muse

If you’ve been out of the habit of sewing for a while, throw pillows are a great way to get back in the game. They’re quick and easy and they’re a lot of fun.

Earlier this summer, while sewing new covers for the deck furniture, I made a couple of toss pillows for the garden swing. I bought a yard of unbleached muslin for a few dollars, cut it in half, and made a  pair of fold over slip covers. With squirrels as my muse, I enlarged a couple of photos from the garden, then printed them on inkjet fabric sheets.

The idea of printing on fabric is still a marvel to me. I used printable fabric once before to make a banner (bunting) for Fran who blogs at The Road To Serendipity.

burlap bunting finished

Bunting for Fran: Burlap and photos on printable fabric

I’ve been searching for a photo-fabric project ever since.

The neighborhood squirrels cause all sorts of mischief, but I love them anyway. I thought it would be funny to plop a pair of pillows at the “scene of the crime”, the very place where they like to chew on the swing cover.

I didn’t just make covers though. I bought a small, twine basket at the same fabric store and attached it to the tree nearby with a piece of twine. I filled the basket with left over fabric strips, cat fur, soft wool scraps from a felting project AND part of last year’s swing cover, previously nibbled on by the squirrels.

basket of nesting material

A basket of potential nesting material. Birds and squirrels welcome

nesting material basket august

Guess what? It worked! Not only is the swing cover unharmed, at least so far, but the nesting material is dwindling. It sat untouched for a while, then small amounts disappeared. Last week, they all but emptied the basket. Time to refill it, STAT.

If you’ve never used the printable fabric sheets, they’re quite amazing. You simply feed them through your printer like a piece of paper. After printing your photo, let it stand for 15 minutes. Then you peel of the backing, soak the fabric in room-temperature water for 10 minutes, rinse and lay flat to dry.

Squirrel photo printed on an inkjet fabric sheet

Fresh off the press: Squirrel photo printed on an inkjet fabric sheet

I used printable fabric sheets from The Electric Quilt Company but there are a number of brands on the market.

Here’s one more look at the pillows. I smile every time I see them.

Come nap with the squirrels

Come nap with the squirrels

Clothes Dryer Update:

If you’ve been following my clothes dryer saga, here’s the latest. I wish I could write the denouement, but alas that must wait for a time when all the stars align and I have a working appliance once again. [insert dramatic sigh here]

It was a dark and stormy night…in my head anyway. I called the sales rep at Airport Appliance, the company that sold us the dryer. I explained that the repairs provided by Meyer Appliance continued to fail. He was courteous and sympathetic, contacted a rep at Fisher & Paykel, the dryer manufacturer, and within an hour I received two calls, one from the regional sales manager. He said they had to make one more attempt to repair the appliance before they could replace it. They want to send out Meyer Appliance again even though they’ve failed to repair it in their shop or in my home, twice. Though they’ve been out four times, they only count the actual attempts at the repair. Meanwhile, the laundry piles up for our family of four as I try to find other ways to deal with my stress that don’t involve reaching for chocolate. Stay tuned.

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A Surreal Week

One of the definitions of surreal is “very strange or unusual”. That pretty much sums up last week.

Monday I received an email from the Santa Clara University provost where my son attends college. They hospitalized one of his classmates with a suspected case of meningitis. Yikes! On Tuesday a second student entered the hospital, then a third. By mid-week we were pretty nervous. I pulled out my son’s immunization records which shows he’s been vaccinated, but a quick call to our pediatrician indicated otherwise. He’s not covered for this particular strain of meningococcal bacteria, common on many college campuses.

waiting for vaccines

Waiting in line for meningitis vaccine

His university handled the details swiftly and impressively, coordinating a free vaccination clinic on campus for all 5,000 undergraduates. My son waited in line for two and a half hours to get his shot, along with everyone else. They were not allowed to return to class without a “vaccine pass.” They have to get a booster shot in thirty days, so they’ll be waiting in line again in early March.

The hospital released two of the three students from the hospital but a third remains under medical care. I can’t imagine what his parents are going through.

Last week also coincided with the lead up to the Super Bowl 50, hosted in Santa Clara, California. My husband works a few blocks away. The city set up detours early in the week, and by Friday all of his co-workers worked remotely to avoid the chaos. What is surely a sign of the times, but disquieting nonetheless, is the level of security for this sort of event. Outside Mike’s office window he could see army tanks, helicopters and security personnel practicing drills in case of an attack. It’s one thing to see this on the news, but surreal when it’s happening in your own back yard. The Super Bowl came and went this weekend without incident, and we’re all relieved to have things returning to normal.

super bowl parking lot photos

Super Bowl 50 Security Maneuvers in Santa Clara

My sweet Slinky, who’s been my constant companion throughout my recovery, started hiding under my son’s bed. We were finishing up a medication for a bladder infection and thought she was simply avoiding us. Then I saw her walk into a wall, retreat, then step over one of the other cats lounging in the hallway. I thought she’d suddenly lost her eyesight. I got her into the vet the following day for a thorough exam and asked them to test for things that might be causing this, anything we might be able to treat. Apparently a spike in blood pressure can temporarily rob them of sight. Dr. Shanker said there was nothing wrong with her eyes and believes there is something systemic causing a dulling of all her senses. He said a blind cat can get around just fine, and can find their food hidden in another room while at the same time easily negotiating furniture. So, my sweet Slinky has now retreated to one room in the house, where she sleeps on a pile of blankets on the floor. She’s eating well and purrs when I pet her, but she’ll also swat at me if she’s not sure that I’m in front of her.

slinky 2016

Slinky

It’s hard not knowing what’s going on. She’s eating, using her litter box…most of the time, and purrs when she finally relaxes and lets me sit next to her on my son’s bed. The few time she ventures out of his room, we find her staring at walls. If I pick her up and bring her to the couch, she gets upset and goes back into hiding. Our vet always says it comes down to quality of life. If she’s not in pain, responds to touch, eats and purrs, then her life is still pretty good.  I have a heavy heart.

And on the subject of cats, last night Mouse figured out how to open the screen door so he could bring in a dead rodent. What a way to round out the week

I have the beginnings of a head cold, I lost my prescription sunglasses and I fell off the sugar-free eating plan I’ve been committed to since January. The Girl Scouts came to the door, Mike bought a few boxes of cookies, and I helped myself to a “sleeve of them”. The scale didn’t go down this week. Coincidence?

Stress eating once again rears its ugly head. I’m back on plan and hope this week is mind-numbingly mundane.

I’m sure you’ve had weeks where you were  happy to draw the curtain on the whole thing. Do you ever stress eat as a result? Do you have any tips for keeping it in check?