Vernal Equinox 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Spring is Here!

Or, at least, officially spring is here, as of 12:57pm today. I’m not sure the weather is entirely in step with the calendar.


This week’s project for the 52 Week Crochet Challenge was crocheting something flower-related for the equinox. I watched this youtube video 100 times and came up with this:


I did hear some spring birds this morning while I was getting ready.



National Crochet Month

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

So, March is National Crochet Month. Julie Oparka, from Red Berry Crochet, is doing a 52 week crochet challenge (check out her awesome site and her blog!). There’s a group for her 52 week challenge on Ravelry, too. I thought it sounded like fun, and I wanted to learn how to crochet after Mom taught me how to do a crochet border on the scarves I was making. There’s something about the way the crochet hook moves that I find relaxing. Anyhow, you can follow my progress on the 52 week challenge here, and if you’re interested, you should join me.


You know what else is really awesome? Vintage crochet books. I am especially keen on the pink shell old blondie is wearing. But doesn’t she look rather snotty?


Here, we have Fashion Crochet.

And here, Crochet is the Fashion. Clearly. Isn’t that an awesome suit, though? Love it!


Not as awesome, here is my first finished crochet piece ever. It’s a dishrag. Lion Brand Yard, Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton. It’s lovely to work with, so soft. This was made with a J sized hook, single crochet with a single crochet border. The next bit of the 52 week challenge is to crochet a flower, in honor of the upcoming vernal equinox on Thursday. I’m going to have to seek out youtube tutorials, I think.

In other yarn-related news, I blocked Bob’s scarf to get it to not roll so much. I also loom-knitted a scarf for a friend who is moving, and blocked that, too. In that knitting adventure, I found out that I may be allergic to mohair. This was not a sensitivity, but a true reaction with hives and swelling throat and so on. I’ve not had a problem with sheep wool or alpaca before, and I hope this isn’t a problem that will morph into those fibers.


We’ll have a spring update later in the week, and next week we will get back to more vintage postcards. Please let me know if you’re planning on joining the 52 week crochet challenge. If you have a crochet blog, please let me know in the comments!

Other crafty-related items:

Dog Belly Band tutorial

Making vintage-style handbags

Heated Neckwarmers

1941 Singer 66-16


Dog Belly Band Tutorial

Monday, March 10, 2014 0 No tags Permalink


One of my coworkers has four Boston Terriers. One will have an indoor accident. The other three dogs, trying to be helpful, will mark over the spot. As you can imagine, that can be a lot of urine and a lot of housecleaning.

Additionally, we run a Pet Therapy program at the shelter, taking dogs to visit local nursing homes. Sometimes we’ll have a great dog with the right disposition, but we can’t guarantee that it won’t mark or use the bathroom indoors, making it a canis non-grata.

It was with those thoughts that I set out to make a dog belly band. Please note that a belly band is not a substitute for taking your dog outdoors as needed, and a dog should never be left wearing a wet belly band for any amount of time (see: urine scalding). But if you have occasional need, here’s how you can put one together for yourself.


You’ll need a measuring tape, scissors, sewing machine and polyester/all purpose thread, fleece material, cotton material, Warm and Natural cotton batting and velcro tabs. You may also want PUL fabric (polyurethane laminate) if you have a large dog or a dog with a large, full bladder. I purchased all items at JoAnn Fabric. The PUL and velcro tabs are in a separate area from the regular material. Ask a sales associate for the location of the baby diaper-making supplies. You can also buy everything on Amazon online.

Measure your dog around the waist, and inch or so in front of the dog’s urine dispenser, aka dog junk. Now, all seam allowances are 1/4 inch for this pattern. And you need to have an overlap where the velcro can close. I added 3 inches to the total measurement of the dog in question. The width is  4 1/4 inches. I made a template to work from out of thin interfacing, but paper would work fine too. Wrap your template around the dog in question to ensure it is going to fit appropriately (measure twice, cut once!).


Now it’s time to cut the fabric. The fleece and cotton material should be cut to your dog’s measurements, plus three inches, by 4 1/4 inches wide. You can eyeball the Warm and Natural to the middle of the fleece, as seen above, but double it over. You want it to be quite absorbent. I don’t put the PUL in the belly bands for the smaller dogs as they don’t seem to soak through. However, if you have a larger dog, or a dog that completely evacuates a full bladder due to age-related urinary incontinence, you can cut and use the PUL to stop any urine soaking through the top cotton material. The PUL is not sewn in, but slid in between the layers, so you’ll want to cut it approximately 3/4 inch more narrow all the way around compared to your fleece and cotton material. Also, you shouldn’t put PUL in the dryer as it may melt.


Pin your Warm and Natural to the inside of the fleece. Sew it in with a 1/4 inch seam. If you wanted, you could get all fancy and do some quilting on it, too. Your choice.


Next, you’re going to sew your velcro tabs to the right side of the fabric…one on the fleece, one on the cotton. I had to then put them back-to-back to make sure once I sewed it up, it was going to close appropriately. Make sure you have both sides of the velcro, and not two similar pieces that won’t stick together. I used my seam ripper a lot during this project due to lack of attention on my part.


Pin the right sides together, and sew around 3 of the sides. Leave one of the short sides open to turn it and insert the PUL, if you plan on doing that.


Sew, and turn your belly band right-side out. If you don’t have a pair of chopsticks to help with the corners, you really need to pick up a pair next time you go to the Chinese buffet. Now is the time to insert the PUL if you’re going to use it. Plan on swearing a bit, because it’s not easy to fit in there or get it all the way down. They say you’re not supposed to sew it because each individual piercing from the needle can wick fluid. Who knows.


Now you’re going to stitch closed that top seam. If you feel confident in the security of your blind stitch by hand, use that. However, it’s right next to a velcro piece that’s going to take some use. I ran it right through the machine. Then you can stitch all around the edges for a nice, neat look if you like. Or not. I won’t judge you.

Finished top:


Finished bottom:


Modeled by Teddy:

photo courtesy of Katie Mullen

photo courtesy of Katie Mullen

I do find it somewhat odd that I spend more time sewing dog items (including every ripped dog bed at work) than I do cat items, and I do not have a dog. Cats seem to be so much more…reasonable.

Photo by Carrie Bammer

Photo by Carrie Bammer

Like this? More pet-related crafts here:

Dog Treat/Bait Bags

Wet-felted Cat Balls

Cat Xmas Toys

Winter Update – February

Thursday, February 13, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Dear friends, it is now mid-February. I’ve picked up a bit of a cold and am feeling especially whiny and miserable. Right now, the sky is blue and it was actually 9 degrees on the drive in to work today. Today’s high is supposed to be 28 which will feel like a heat wave. We do have snow on the other side of Lake Michigan, with maybe three additional inches expected over the next two days. We’ve had a lot of snow this year. Photos from this past weekend:


Miss Cato the Bear was quite surprised when I carried her to the front porch and she saw all the snow.


It’s been snowing every 2-3 days, and the temperatures have been below average for well over a month (I mean that sincerely, as I track it daily. Talking to me is like reading the Farmer’s Almanac these days).


Snow and more cold this weekend, as they keep pushing the warmer temps out further and further. We may see 30 on Monday…with more snow. People have reported seeing robins in various parts of Michigan, but I have yet to see one. Did you know the scientific name for the robin is…Turdus Migratorius? I shit you not! Heh.  As of today, we have 34 days left until the spring equinox. Who knows, maybe under all that snow the spring bulbs are making progress.

Although I was planning on a needle-felting project for the staff members for valentines gifts this year, I just couldn’t pull myself together. Instead, I put together little packages of sparkling juice, lip balm, hand lotion and sweets.


I am reading Beauty Tips for the Bereaved by Sunny Haralson. Her writing is mesmerizing, absolutely fantastic. Her name links to her blogspot. Absolutely amazing, like the first time I read Rivethead.

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

I’ve been spending time working on projects on the loom kit that Kirsten got me for Christmas. So far I’ve made a hat and a pair of arm warmers. Right now I’m finishing up a scarf for a coworker who, although born in Michigan, has never had a winter scarf before. However, I will be starting a new sewing project very soon! Another coworker is having difficulty with her four Boston Terriers marking all over her house. I’m going to put together a pattern and sew a belly band. Tutorial will follow once the project is complete.

Here’s your pick-me-up for the day:

One year ago it was 41 degrees with signs of spring. I was reading the new Charlie LeDuff book, more Daphne du Maurier and Maxy had been in to see the vet for the arthritis in his foot. Two years ago, I had hand-made valentine’s gifts for all the staff members and had read a Deborah Harkness book from her trilogy.

Florida Keys Vacation 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Bob and I decided to escape Michigan’s frozen grasp and flee south to the Florida Keys last week. We stayed in Key Largo, had two days in the Everglades, a day in Miami and a day in Key West. It was a perfect vacation!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

We left on Saturday from Detroit Metro. It was a nasty morning. The parking garage at Metro was completely iced over and slippery.

Detroit Metro Airport
The flight was not too bad. We flew in to Fort Lauderdale, then drove to Key Largo where we stayed at the Key Largo Marriott. Highly recommend staying there. Snapped this palm tree as Bob was checking us in.

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort

The view from our room balcony. It was 82 degrees when we got in Saturday night:

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort
Gus’ Grille, where we went to dinner:

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort
The resort has a spa, dive shop, tiki bar, restaurant, pool and all kinds of fire pits and seating places on the beach. We spent time each evening sitting out by the fire pits, relaxing and looking at the water and palm trees.

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The next morning views from our balcony. Although it was a little foggy each morning, by afternoon the sky had cleared and it was sunny and warm/humid. Such a change from Battle Creek:

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort

We went back to Gus’ Grille for breakfast before striking out to the Everglades for a canoe trip.

Key Largo Marriott Beach Resort

US 1, the bridge/overpass system to get from the Keys to the mainland.


I am splitting the photos up into different posts, so this isn’t one giant page. We did take over 600 photos total on the trip, but I’m not going to post all of those 🙂

Click here to see all of the Everglades photos.

When we got back to Key Largo, we went to Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill for dinner. Good food, good prices and outdoor seating overlooking the water. I recommend the bimini conch chowder. Perfect!

Monday, January 13, 2014

We got up and went to the Juice House for breakfast.

The Juice House

The food is excellent. Have the chorizo empanadas. You won’t regret it. They will live on in your dreams.

The Juice House

They also have fresh juice of all kinds. We had the carrot, beet and orange mix and it was good.


Authentic Cuban coffee con leche. I am addicted.

Then we headed on to Miami for the day, hitting the MiMo (Miami Moderne) District and South Beach.

Waldorf Towers Miami

Click here to see all the Miami photos.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We had breakfast at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen.

Mrs. Mac's Kitchen

Good food, good prices. Fresh tomatoes. My goodness, they tasted the way you want a tomato to taste. Excellent. They have license plates from all over, nailed up on every surface.

Mrs. Mac's Kitchen

After breakfast, stopped to get a Cuban coffee to go from the Juice House and then we headed back to the Everglades for a day of hiking on the trails. Our national parks are truly treasures. We are so lucky to have access to such beauty. It cost $10 for the car pass, and you could enter the park as many times as you liked for seven days.

After hiking, we stopped at a fruit stand (more on that later) and we went back to Key Largo and had dinner at Snapper’s.

Snapper's Key Largo

They have a lovely outdoor seating area overlooking the water, and live music the night we were there.

Snapper's Key Largo

We were so lucky to have such glorious weather the time we were there!

Snapper's Key Largo

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We stopped for breakfast at the Waffle House on our way down the Keys to Key West. We also caught the sunrise.

Key Largo sunrise

The weather turned a bit cooler today, and we had sunshine off and on. Key West reminds me a lot of Saugatuck or Mackinac Island.

Key West Strand

Click here to see all the Key West photos!

Upon our return from Key West, we swung by the Upper Keys Humane Society. They weren’t open (why, why don’t they post their hours on their website?!), so we took a photo and left a bag of cat treats at the front door.

Upper Keys Humane Society

We headed back to the Big Chill for dinner. I had a piece of Key Lime pie for dessert.

Big Chill key lime pie

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The time went so quickly! We got up, checked out and went back to the Juice House for breakfast. If we lived in Key Largo, I would eat there every single day. After breakfast, we headed on our way back to Fort Lauderdale, making a brief stop at the fruit stand Robert Is Here.

Robert is Here

Really, take the time to check out their website. It’s an amazing story and the most awesome place ever.

Robert is Here

The oranges we purchased were seriously the best oranges I’ve had in my life. I didn’t know oranges could be that good. If we lived there, I’d be stopping all the time.

Robert is Here
Perhaps you’ve picked up a theme here…I think I could live in Key Largo. It feels like home, in a way that Miami or Key West really don’t. It sort of reminds me of a tropical version of Cheboygan. It’s got that kind of feel to it. It’s like home, except it has flowers in January:


and lizards instead of squirrels:


Can’t wait to go back!

Florida Everglades

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 1 No tags Permalink

We took two days in the Florida Everglades on our January 2014 vacation. The first day, we rented a canoe in Flamingo and spent four hours at Nine Mile Pond.


The park entrance fee is $10 per car, and you can go back as many times as you like for free within seven days.

Everglades National Park

There are several visitor centers. You need to go to Flamingo to rent the canoes, though. It’s a bit of a drive, but the scenery is fantastic.

Everglades National Park

Then we drove back to Nine Mile Pond.

Everglades National Park

You pull your own canoe right there at the pond. They provide life jackets and oars.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Alligators ten feet from where you put the canoe in is the bonus gift.

Everglades National Park

You are basically following (sometimes not so well) marked poles throughout the trip. There are 115 of them, and you are taken through mangroves to open water and everything in between. It’s amazing.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

On Tuesday, we went back to the Everglades for the hiking trails.

Everglades National Park

Apparently, the vultures really like the rubber on vehicles and will tear away windshield wipers, etc.

Gumbo-Limbo Trail

Everglades National Park

Long Pine Key Trail

Everglades National Park

Pinelands Trail

Everglades National Park

We went down an unmarked road and walked around this little lake.

Everglades National Park

I think the most amazing trail was the Mahogany Hammock.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park

We had the fortune to speak with one of the volunteer parks worker for some time about his experience.

Everglades National Park

We attempted Snake Bight Trail, but there were too many mosquitoes. Next time!

Everglades National Park

I found an amazing peace and stillness in the Everglades. We had the best time there, and can’t wait to go back.

Take me back to the Key Largo page!

Miami 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Monday, January 13, 2014

We started our day in Miami by visiting the MiMo District. It was the opportunity to snap some mid century motels and check out some of my favorite postcard locations like Carl’s El Padre.

As it was:

Carl's El Padre Motel
As it is:

Carl's El Padre Motel

Carl’s was closed when we were there, and it looks like they are either preparing for remodeling or demolition.

Carl's El Padre Motel
Next to Carl’s is 7 Seas:

7 Seas Motel
7 Seas Motel

New Yorker Boutique Hotel (Norman Giller, 1953) – 6500 Biscayne Boulevard:

New Yorker Hotel Miami
From the Historic District Designation Report: Motel New Yorker (now Davis Motel) 6500 Biscayne Boulevard 1953, Architect: Norman Giller. Currently called the Davis Motel, this building is a quintessential example of motel design in the “modern age.” An original plan indicates that the building was constructed for Mr. A. Barson. The building is small in scale with only eighteen units, and cost $55,000 to build. Originally named the “Motel New Yorker”, it features an “L” shaped plan and each of the two stories mirror each other. The focal point of the composition is the office, strategically placed close to Biscayne Boulevard. The design uses contrasting geometry to create its unique approach.

Shalimar Motel (Edwin Reeder, 1950) – 6200 Biscayne Boulevard:

Shalimar Motel


From the Historic District Designation Report: Architect: Edwin Reeder. Along with the South Pacific Hotel next door at 6300 Biscayne, and the Sinbad Motel to the south at 6150 Biscayne Boulevard, the Shalimar completed a thematic group of motels alluding to sea adventure and exotic locales. The original building permit indicates that the building was constructed as an apartment, however the plan does not include provision for kitchens. The “I” shaped configuration of the plan would be changed to a “U” when an addition was made in 1953. The swimming pool was added in 1955. The Shalimar’s designed opted for a more residential look, as the series of bays are separated by full height columns that carry a low-sloped gable roof. The focal point of the Shalimar is its delta wing pylon that carries the neon signage for the building.

Sinbad Motel (1953) – 6150 Biscayne Boulevard:

Sinbad Motel Miami

From the Historic District Designation Report: The building permit for the Sinbad Motel was for a twelve-unit apartment built at a cost of $108,350.00. The Sinbad consists of a rectangular block without the amenity of a swimming pool. The building has been considerably altered, as the original fenestration of the first floor has been enclosed, and a heavy metal picket balustrade now frames the simple terrace that extends around the building. In a 1950s postcard the caption read in part: “Cathedral beamed ceilings—Foam rubber bedding—Tub baths with showers.”

South Pacific Motel (1953) – 6300 Biscayne Boulevard:

South Pacific Motel Miami

From the Historic District Designation Report: Architect: Charles Giller. The South Pacific Motel with its twenty units is not one of the biggest of the 1950s motels on the Boulevard, but is one of the most interesting because of its enormous pylon sign and use of a stone facing. The one story office that fronts onto Biscayne Boulevard is faced with a coursed stone veneer that steps down to create a zigzag lighting bolt.

South Pacific Motel Miami

Stephen’s International Hotel, 6320 Biscayne Boulevard, 1946:

The next two shots are part of the same complex, but the middle part has been torn down:


From the Historic District Designation Report: Over the years the motel was known by several different names, including the “Ken-Lin” and the Elks Motel Apartments. The complex contained twenty-two units, some with kitchens.


After our time in MiMo, we headed to South Beach. Collins Ave is torn up, so parking was at a premium. We found a parking garage with some…unusual individuals hanging out in the stairway. View from the top:


We walked down Collins Avenue before heading over to Ocean Drive.

It was plenty warm, so we stopped for a sparkling cider at the News Cafe.



After cooling off and people watching for a bit, we wandered over to look at the famous beach.

Miami Beach

Then we walked up and down Ocean Drive, looking at the Art Deco.

Breakwater Hotel Miami
Waldorf Towers Miami
Colony Hotel Miami

We also stopped off at the Art Deco Shop for the Miami Design Preservation League where I picked up a vintage postcard!

Next, we headed back to downtown Miami for dinner at Crazy About You. The evening was the perfect temperature. We sat outside. Loved the music, loved the food. A fantastic experience.

Crazy About You Miami

The sun set, and we headed back to Key Largo.




Take me back to the Key Largo page, please!

Key West

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

The drive to Key West through all the different Florida Keys is quite a lovely trip.




I’d say Key West is a lot like Saugatuck or Mackinac Island. It’s touristy and busy. But it has 100% more feral roosters, I believe.

Key West rooster

We walked around and looked at buildings for a bit. We sat and had coffee and watched people, too.

Fausto's Key West

Key West


Here’s some information on the Strand, if you’re interested.

Then we headed to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. So amazing.


Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

What you can’t get from the photos is how hot and humid it was. But it was so beautiful…words just can’t describe it.

Next, we went to the southernmost incorporated place in the contiguous 48 states.


90 miles to Cuba…that way!


We were ready for lunch, and went to Le Bistro.

Le Bistro Key West

It was a lovely outdoor setting (complete with roosters), and a good meal.

Le Bistro Key West

Le Bistro Key West

There were so many other things to see in Key West. Next time, for sure. It’s well worth a visit.

Key West roosters

Take me back to the Key Largo page!

Wet Felted Cat Toys

Saturday, January 11, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

This is a photo-tutorial for how to make wet-felted balls, which are actually Maxy’s favorite toys. He loves to bat them around and play fetch with them. They are the perfect density for him to pick up in his mouth and run around. And again, if you know the sources of the wool roving, it’s a much safer toy than the Chinese-products you find at the store. They are easy to make, too.

You’ll need wool roving, water and a little liquid dishsoap. I used the Dimensions wool roving pack in pastels from

dimensions wool roving

photo courtesy of

The total weight is two ounces. For each ball, I used one of the solid color portions…they are rolled up together but are actually separate pieces. The Dimensions roving isn’t as soft/fine as the Wisteria roving, and I find that it works better for wet felting than the Wisteria.

First, unroll the wool  completely, spread it out, and get it wet.

Next, you’ll be massaging in some liquid dish soap (I did all of these balls in one setting, but this is a pink photo slid in among the purple…sorry about that).


The dish soap makes it slippery. You’ll then fold it up, all in the same direction, kind of like how you’d fold a flag. It will be a loose blob at this point.


Now you’ll want to start forming it into more of a ball shape with your hands cupped, like making a snow ball. You can rinse a little of the soap out as you go here and there, and the ball will tighten down.

Ultimately, you want the ball to be solid, without any cracks or lines, and free of soap. As you continue to roll it, continue to rinse it.

After it is in its final, small compacted shape and all the soap has been washed, you can leave it to dry. The drying normally takes about 24 hours.

We have quite a few of these around the house, as Maxy seems to shuttle them under the furniture and loses them. They roll well on carpet, too. At around sixty cents each, and knowing they don’t contain who knows what from China, it’s well worth the effort. The whole process takes maybe 15 minutes per ball.

Like this? Check out more animal projects here:

Needle Felted Cat Toys

Dog Bait/Dog Treat Bags