Monday, December 31, 2018

Miniature Gingerbread Houses (take two)

I say "take two" because it is only the second time to try Royal Icing and piping skills... hahaha... skills... that's a laugh!

This time I made the icing softer ... with many more tablespoons of water than Jemma suggests ...and still ... way too stiff to pipe.  So, after a lot of moaning, whining and wiping off about 17 doorways... and, then some swearing... I put the icing back in the bowl and added more water yet. By then, I'm sure there were dried crusty bits in it as well.

I tried again... but, by then, my hand was wobbly and I was totally ticked... so Mister BumbleVee said he would give one a try.  I managed to make only about two end pieces ... not great windows and doors...and his first one was a bit wobbly too... but, then...he became a piping machine!  He did all the rest of the pieces total I had 8 houses, and at 6 per house that was a grand total of 48 pieces.. a lot of fiddly piping!

But, hours later, in spite of the silly icing never being the right consistency... he had managed to do all the pieces;  I waited til they were dry and assembled and added more "snow" ... which after awhile... became a bit messy too because my parchment bag was practically trashed.  I only had one piping tip and bag so made a couple of parchment ones;  well, Mr. BV did that too... ... hahahah... BUT... we did 'em, the little buggers!!

Since then, I have been watching many, many videos on piping, icing consistency, tricks and tips etc.... and, man, are some of those women ever amazing!!  I love one of them called Haniela... she does great stuff..and has lots of info to take in.  I will have to watch them again and then, make up another batch of icing and get busy practising on some parchment or something.  By next year I want my little gingerbread guys to look somewhat better than these.. but, I am showing them anyway... because darn it ...I am proud of our efforts.

Mr. BumbleVee says .. "don't show everybody our amateurish efforts".. but, I think they are cute and is only the second time trying anything like this at all and his first time doing the solo piping, so .. here goes....

The worst ones, with no door sill... are mine.  The good ones are Greg's...
I think he is pretty good at this..... maybe I need to make him watch the videos and he can do them again next year.   Don't tell him I said that.

I like to encourage people to give things a try even if you have never done it before ... who knows how it will turn out?  You may be quite surprised at how good you are at something.   You may have amazing beginner's luck... try something new for the New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2018

A few things on our tree

okay, well, there are a lot more than a few things on ours for sure.... but, we love it.

Probably best described as whimsical... although I like to think whimsical but adult and a bit classy as well.. 

Sure it has lots of little cuties in there ...but also some lovely glitz and sparkle a bit of glamour... 

Click on the photo and be transported closer to the tree...........


There you have it.... some of my little sparklies... and fun things.....

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Timothy in the tree

Finished and still looking a bit worried even though he has buddies and friends in the tree with him .. there are other little bears... mousies in their walnut shells... a black sheep ... and several little owls and other birds.....

Where I placed him, I can see him from the kitchen ... watching and wondering.....

Friday, November 23, 2018

Why do they always look so worried? ...

He did have to sit on the dining table for days til I finally got around to finishing him.  Days just seem to whiz past don't they?

I had to re-think the size of his eyes and then, try to guess which of the 15 in the package of 4mm eyes were close to the same size.  They say 4mm, but of course, they range in size from 3 to 6 I'm sure of it.  There was a lot of uhm-ing and ahhh-ing til I made my decision.

How can you totally forget how to seat an eye properly?  Well, maybe there is no perfect way...I did look back at about 5 patterns...nobody actually mentioned how to do it the way I thought I remembered.... some tell you nothing at all... it's a great secret I guess... oh, well.  I did it my way eventually anyway... they look pretty good to me and are never going to pop out of there.  Carpet and button thread made sure of that.

There was a bit more trimming...inside the ears... and a bit more needle felting to get some extra depth in there as well ...and a bit of shading with a dry water colour pencil.  Then, some trimming around the nose and cheek areas... and, a bit more shading.

Finally a length of ribbon which was too wide but which I folded in half and stitched down... made a running stitch along the length of it .. ruffled it and stitched it into position.  They say to put on an alligator clip to attach him to the tree... we'll see if I decide to do that or not.  He could just sit on any branch I'm sure.

Here he is ... still with test eyes and just his nose finally embroidered and finished .. like I say...looking very worried isn't he?   You can click on the pics to see them even larger.

And, he is finished, with the pattern bear for comparison... yep, definitely has a more worried expression...

I love him....and have named him Timothy....

Once I put up the tree and have him in a place of honour... I'll take another pic of him of course.... but, for now... a bough I found recently will have to suffice.

Thanks to Andrea Brewer for her free pattern in the old magazine I found somewhere and hung onto for years.... I'm glad I finally tried him.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018 which I show you MY way to fix baldness....

Yep....I did it.  There I was merrily plucking out a few stray hairs and trying to clean up the nose area where I wanted to embroider his nose.   All of a sudden I realized I was looking at the fabric under the fur, not the fur...damn!!@#  Somehow just plucking on a few hairs had already gotten me too deep into it and the fabric was laid bare.   How could I have been so stupid?  I wasn't even in the exact centre of the nose for heaven's sake.  Me and my eyes.  Very frustrating.  Like I mentioned, they have gotten worse, and, even working with my big magnify9ing glass I still did a stupid thing. bloody annoying.

I was contemplating tossing the head in the bin.  Or wondering if I could just make a huge nose and cover up most of the mess...or maybe pluck out some on the other side and match up a bare patch and make a bare fabric snout surrounding the actual nose.  None of the those options appealed.

When Mister BumbleVee came home and asked how the bear making was going I told him my tale of woe.  He said, "Can't you just needle felt some fluff back in?"  HUH??@#!  How the heck would he think of that?  And, of course, at first I poo-poo'ed the idea saying it was rayon and it would probably leave big holes in the fabric and I didn't think it possible to get any kind of result..etc...  but, then, I thought about it and did dig out some felting needles and plucked out some of the rayon curly fluff from near a cut edge of the fabric I was using and needled some into the bare patches.  SUCCESS!!  Wow.  that really worked.

He had remembered that I needle felted a nose onto my scratty bunny.. and figured it could be done on any other animal I suppose.  I do remember doing Eddy, but it was lovely mohair and you can needle felt to your heart's content on that and not ruin it.... rayon, I was not so sure about.  But, I'm hear to tell can be done.  It doesn't look quite the same even when I try really hard to find some shiny new long pieces of fluff..and, try not to needle it much .. so the curls stay a bit...but, it covered up the bare patches and looks great.  His whole snout area looks lighter anyway for some reason...probably because I did snip and trim things a bit ..trying for a nicer shape to the snout.

Click on the pics for close ups....the eyes and also the nose are "test eyes" ... things will move or change in size for sure.  And, his nose will be embroidered.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of the bald patches .. so you could see how wrecked the poor little guy was.  But, I do have photos of the fixed areas...and, I can't even tell you where they were really.   Somebody looked petty smug when I showed him the result.   There was a big cheesy grin.  He totally expects to get equal billing when we tell anybody I made the little bear head ornament on the tree I'm sure... and, well....he should....

It's weird when you think your guy is not really paying much attention to what you are doing hobby wise...and, then... they remember some reeellly important thing to help out when you totally forget about ever having done it.   Strange that........ he's definitely a keeper.

This is the first bear I made with this rayon fabric.  A wobble jointed bear named Leonard..he has a ladybug on his foot.  I knew it was a bit tricky to work with ...but, I went ahead with him anyway and he turned out fine.  Very cute actually... so I thought I would use it again.  IT gets a bit matted and flattened after handling and honestly, with rayon? cannot, and I mean CANNOT just fluff it up or brush it fuzzes terribly!  So... my advice ... mostly don't use it.  The chin gusset is part of this guy's nose is softest suede as are the paw pads.

This is what I plucked out to use for needle felting into his nose... the edge bits of some of the fluff.  If I tease it out doesn't fuzz or get dull .. and, then..try to needle it in with a bit of curl in place.  Tricky, but only jabbed myself one time...ouch... those needles are reeeeellllly sharp..  and then, you do have to wait a bit for the bleeding to stop before continuing.

Here is my Scratty Eddy bunny that I made years ago.  The white snout is all needle felted wool with a pink embroidered nose.   It felts easily into lovely mohair like this...but, I wasn't sure about how the rayon would hold together for repeated stabbing ...somehow it did just fine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

head first into the fray......

Now, this is the way to spend an hour working on a little bear.

Some patterns and some bear makers stitch from tip of nose down to the neck area first and then stitch in the head gusset.  Some stitch on the head gusset piece first..I guess it depends upon which you prefer after you have made a couple of bears, or which you learned first or whatever...I totally forget which I learned first or if I just followed directions for patterns and then... forgot about them and did it my way.  I seem to stitch up the nose to neck first a lot of the time.  But, does seem to be a bit of a wrestling match to get the gusset to line up perfectly ...altough, it is tough either way.
Can't say one or the other is easier for me.

I stitched up the second side of the head on this day... which is always a bit of an eye opener.  You more or less have to stitch from the top side of the gusset down to the underneath side of it with each tiny stitch, as compared to the other side...which seems to be from the bottom to top if you get my drift.  It has to be because you are going in the opposite direction, but can't just back-stitch from left to right instead of right to left.  Hmmm...  maybe you could... you know what ?..I've never tried that.  Maybe I could some day.

So.. totally confused?  Okay then...I'll just show you my head so far then...

This is normally just how I work.  A tiny cluttered space with my light, my "stuff" ..oh, and on this perfect day... Mr. BumbleVee poured me a little drink to sip as well.  Perfect.

It was a cold, snowy day and nice and cozy in the house.... a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

It looks a bit cluttered on the actual head as well doesn't it?  With all those alligator clips.... but, that is an easy way to hold the seam edges tightly together without having to grip it with fingers and thumb and make my hands reeeellly sore.   You just remove them as you get stitched right up to each one..or move one and re-organize the next one if a pucker or ruffle shows up... it is an ongoing process to get a head stitched up the way I like it.

As I mentioned in my previous post..the head is actually stitched together now...and I put in some stuffing...but, I will have to load up some new pics you can see that next.  Patience people.... patience.....hahahha... what am I saying?  I have no patience at all myself... ....I want things now and I mean right NOW! .. but here I am expecting everybody else to wait.  BAD me.... bad me.....

But, there was drama with the nose area.... trauma and difficulties ensued...problems were overcome and I am back in the driver's seat...

Off I go now to stitch up an ear .... time I tell you the story of how I made the poor little guy's muzzle instantly bald with just a few plucks...

Monday, November 12, 2018

And sew, it begins......

After many years of not making any bears (or dolls either for that matter) ... and sort of letting this blog become a lot more about birds than bears..... I have begun a bear head.  Woohooo... the "Bearister" lives again!

My eyes have gotten a lot worse, but I can still manage to do a bit of stitching.  Alright!  So, Maggi, my bear making buddy, and I, decided on a short project.  Only a head really.

It is a freebie Andrea Brewer design for a Christmas ornament from an ancient bear making magazine.  A bear head with a ruffle.  So, it shouldn't take too long and maybe even a second one could be done before the big day.  I want to put them on the tree...and, it isn't that far off now is it?

I also have a wonky elbow and man, pinching the pieces together with fingers and also gripping my needle in the usual.... " grip of death"... neck and elbow were pretty sore after my first hour working on it.

Somehow, I need to give up worrying about every stitch being perfect and trying so hard to make sure every hair is tucked into the seams, etc... but, it's tough to do when you are totally anal.   Yeh....I know myself well.......

Click on any pic to see even larger...

Anyway... here is the pic of the pattern and also of the head I have begun..

The fur used on the pattern is mini bear fabric and although it looks very furry... that fabric is pretty flat unless photographed right up close.  And, I don't have a colour I like in that fabric anyway right I chose this curly oatmeal coloured rayon instead.  It will be cute I'm sure even though it looks more like an Alpaca or a sheepdog at the moment...

It is now stuffed and ready for nose plucking before I embroider a nose.  She made a clay nose....but, eh...I still like to embroider will do that.

Watch this space as they say...whoever 'they' is......

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Walkin' on water

 What!!? ....   well, it isn't all that tough.... but it sure is annoying when I just want a drink or a bath.......

Not perfect photos as it was through the venetian blinds and screens, which is more or less the norm around here most days....

It is getting down to freezing temps. overnight now and the birdie bath gets frozen solid.  They come as soon as the sun is shining and hop around all over it searching for tiny crevices or eventually making a little hole to get a sip.

It's pretty slippery and they fall around... feathers stand on end...they do the splits...look pretty awkward and probably even stretch things they don't actually want to stretch... slide around a bit more and then.... leave.

But, they come back often to check for open water as the day wears on and the temps. climb to acceptable numbers +15C... it's great days right now ... oh, to have it last until December..hahahahhahahahhah ...oh, sorry, lost my mind for a moment there.  As I'm sure you all remember, we have already had a huge snowfall to remind us of where we live.  That 17 inches melted finally, and hey!..there was still green grass under it.  Now it is more seasonable... like ...dying ...oh, alright, going dormant....and a bit more brownish with more coloured leaves on it and looks about ready for winter weather.  Almost.

Click on them to see a bit larger and more detail will also be visible ..even if it is semi fuzzy...

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

I got lucky ...   

I never get pics of Blue Jays … people say they are brave, cheeky and all of that…but, I have not found it to be so.  Around here …they just land …squeak, see what is around, and fly off….
So, yesterday when I was trying to clean over a foot of snow off the patio wall and make a trail in there so I could get to the feeders…one flew by.  I set out some mixed nuts that I buy for the bigger birds and tried to lure him back.

He did come back. But, grabbed a nut at lightning speed and was gone!  Dammit.  Missed him.  

So, I went in and sat by the window.. with the blind up a crack so I could get a clear photo.  He flew back about 15 minutes later… grabbed another nut at warp speed and …poof…gone again.  Nuts!!  Literally.  I wasn’t quick enough. 

I waited.  And, waited.  About 10 minutes later, he showed again… this time I actually was ready and got a few shots..but just not as good as I wanted.  I hoped he would come again.  He did ..about another 5 later… this time I got one or two ..and off he went again.  The last time he showed up … he hopped around… looked right at me and hung out long enough to pose for me … the little bugger!  Taunting me…I know it.  He made me use up the better part of an hour hoping for his return.  Hhmppf….. 

But, he is a beauty.  Well, I say ‘he’, but it could just as easily be a ‘she’ couldn’t it?  How do you know with Blue Jays? ….

We had a huge snowfall... about 16 inches at our place.... the snow was this deep on top of the patio wall I cleaned it off to let them have a place to sit.
It is too early for this much snow... all the tree branches were drooping from the weight of the snow on leaves that haven't even fallen off yet.  A disaster for many trees....
The guy was supposed to come and blow out the sprinkler system.... not for how long now I wonder?  It will take days for this much snow to melt..... and more is forecast for next week.  Darn it.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Three more chin ups.......

..and I can have another nut. ...

... Oh, yeh.......


Linking to Paying Ready Attention Gallery..just click on the photo below to be transported there.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

Well, sure isn't Wednesday any more..but, I'm here ..

So were all the birds we usually see about this time of year.  In the space of 20 minutes...I took 84 photos... not all of them good enough to use... so there was a lot of deleting.  Normal for bird photos ... Dave will attest to that.  He has a blog totally devoted to bird butts... I'm serious..check it out. He has the cutest photos.

We had nuthatches, black capped chickadees, sparrows, Northern Flickers, Downy woodpeckers, ... Even a robin came to see what they were all up to, but robins don't do bird feeders so he just had a bath instead in the birdie bath and carried on his merry way, looking for Mayday berries.

Black Capped Chickadee

Red Breasted Nuthatch

Male Downy Woodpecker

Female Northern Flicker

Male Northern Flicker

American Robin (but, he lives in Canada)

My lovely half hour sitting near the window watching the patio feeders.... what fun.

Have some fun going to Stewart's blog too....lots more birds to see over there.. click on the badge below to be immediately transported there.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Little furry caterpillar.... soft and slow......

Little furry caterpillar soft and slow
Being sleepy thought that he to sleep would go
So, in blanket closely wrapped
On a twig he lay
Little furry caterpillar dozed away.
But, one day he wakened when the sun was bright
Stepped out of his blanket feeling gay and light
Then unfolded wings of gauze
Bearing him on high
Little caterpillar was a butterfly.

Who knows this rhyme?  Anybody?  I have no idea if it is totally correct...but, it is more or less what I remember from way back in about Grade 2 or 3 or somewhere like that.

I've tried to look for it online..and there are some that are sort of similar ...but not this particular little one.  I wonder who it was that taught it to us?  Hmm...

Anyway, last night while I was watering I saw this guy crawling around on the sidewalk (and, he isn't actually all that slow either) ... near the grass and it reminded me of my little singsong from way back.

He is black with an orang-y brown band around his middle ..and, long white spikes of fur or hair ..on either end.  I also can't find one that looks exactly like him.  Looks like some of my needle felted bears that I have "hair" to by needling it into their heads.

There are some sort of similar and they say they are Tiger Moth Caterpillars... called Woolly Bears .... however, they also say there are plenty of it could be the one.

I tried gently to put him into the garden, but he hung on mightily to the cement sidewalk...and, I didn't want to injure him, so let him go his way.  I don't know if his way was the safest way.

If I see him today I will offer him a leaf or something to crawl onto and then move him into safety of the garden... he is probably long gone somewhere by now though.... darn it.

On the orange band there are spots on the top that are diamond shaped and some stripes down the sides.

The white spikes of "hair" are quite long...about half an inch they stick out.

Overall, he was about an inch and a half long.... and pretty fuzzy and fat.... you couldn't tell which was head and which was bottom til he moved... I should have gotten my macro lens I guess...but, I just wanted to get his picture and let him go his way.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

I think it is a Sparrow Hawk.

This guy flew onto the patio wall the other day... looking for snacks I guess.  Little birds that is.... they hang out in the lilac and on the wall too.... begging for treats.  'Somebody' must have noticed.

And, besides ..there is a new little fountain in the patio with burbling water...maybe that enticed him.

All I know is..I saw him swoop in....mostly just a shadow, and jumped up, grabbed my camera and managed to get a few shots through the window before he flew away.  He took a quick peek into the lilacs..but I'm sure the little guys had fled by then... thank goodness.  Didn't need to witness any of that nonsense...

He/she... looks pretty fierce.... hide little birdies !!

Linking up to Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday (on Wednesday) ...

Click on the photo of this crazy bird to go there..

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wild Bird Wednesday

Hey!  It's Wednesday.... and, I will actually be posting on the correct day.

It's a bit cooler today but only because the sun can't even penetrate the smoke layer.  Golfing was kind of weird.. almost like a thick mist all the time we were out there.  Luckily, I don't seem to be bothered by it .. some of our group seemed to be having a bit of difficulty.

The birds have been around the new little fountain we got for the patio... but, so far I've only seen a brave little chickadee and one Flicker and one crazy crow land on it... this little guy had several sips from one portion of it.  The Flicker was gone before I grabbed my camera.  They all look at it and several fly down and up again without landing...but, this little guy...or gal.... loved it.  Sat there quite a long while and then...turned to look straight at me.

It almost looks like he is drinking from the little waterfall... nope.... just the angle...

Did ya get enough photos yet lady??

Linking up with Wild Bird Wednesday... have a look at other people's birdies.........

Friday, August 10, 2018

Golfing and Gardening

and, sweating big time with both!

We, like many parts of the world, are having plenty of heat.  Today is supposed to be +37C... great.

It is too hot to bother with anything physical in those temperatures.  As a matter of fact... my ideal temperature for golfing is probably about +15C... some sun and some cloud.  Not the stinking heat of +30C days.... that's downright ridiculous.  Luckily, I don't have to work in it.  I did that for 7 years working in a plywood plant in my youth.  I'm not sure what 112F equates to nowadays ...but, that was usually the temperature in there in the summertime with all the ovens running full tilt.  And, you had to work faster as they had to set the rollers to super fast to get the sheets of veneer out of the ovens quicker when it was that hot.  Or...they caught fire!  Then, it was even hotter ..hhahahah...and, horrible and messy and we used to be totally black with soot and drenched with water and well, it was not a pretty sight...

I feel sorry for anybody who has to be outside in the burning sun on days like this.  And, I feel really bad about any animals... those poor things.  Such suffering ... I cried right out loud upon seeing a picture of cattle swarming a water truck.. couldn't even read the article.  Awful. Absolutely awful.  The poor, poor things.

The birdie bath is kept topped up and I water the gardens and grass almost daily in order to help the little birds... they come to hide out in the shrubs and have a bath or a sip of water all during the day ... the crows seem to have gone away somewhere.  Maybe over near the river in some of the big is pretty quiet crow and magpie wise these days.  The little chickadees, nuthatches, house finches and sparrows are all still around...

Haven't been taking many photos and certainly haven't bothered with this blog... oh, well... the minus numbers will soon be upon us and with 2 feet of snow and -30C ... there definitely won't be any golfing, gardening or anything like that for many I'll get back to it .... maybe......if I am not snowed in and doing too much shovelling.

I already purchased a small Danielle Donaldson art class which begins in September ... painting Bonsai trees... that could be fun.  It was only $38 U.S. .... but that comes out to be over $50 Canadian... damn exchange rates... and our stupid dollar.  Along with our stupid Prime Minister and a few other stupid things.  Honestly, it all makes me not want to read any news at all...just go along in my own little bubble and try to ignore all things stupid, cruel and horrible.  Can only be done for so long though... have to have my head out of the sand every once in awhile.  Bummer.

The flowers are suffering after some major hailstones last week....and now ...a week of extreme heat... but this he was in one of the patio pots... and was so big and beautiful I had to take his picture.

A full 3 1/4 inches across....I measured.  And look at the colours!

This is the golf ball sized hail we had the week previous..... luckily there was also a howling took the stones sideways from north to south and they somehow missed the patio pots that were closest to the house.  Thankfully, the skylight survived as well.... several in nearby neighbourhoods did not.  Apparently it was soooo loud on the houses you couldn't believe it.  I happened to be out of town at the time and didn't even know we got hit til I drove into the neighbourhood... what a mess!!
A branch got smashed on a Dogwood and the backyard pots got whacked...but overall...not too bad really...considering the size of them.  The whole lawn looked like it had dimples too.... big ones.... for hours after the storm.