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A baby shower slug, and some fun new sewing books

Medium Pink Fleece Hug Me Slug by Elizabeth Ruffing, with baby shower gift wrap and cardI had a rush order for a gift-wrapped baby shower slug last week. I think the whole package came together nicely. I’m thinking this is something I should have as an option for the smaller toys that will fit in gift bags, like the 9 inch Hug Me Slugs, and the Hug Me Toads. I may have some 7 inch slugs, from time to time, that would fit too. I needed a larger mailing box, and some extra postage, but it’s a good option for people who want to send a gift they can’t deliver in person.

I will be posting my new handmade stuffed animal toys in our Ruffing’s shop.

Turquoise-blue Fleece Hug Me Slug by Elizabeth RuffingThis cheerful custom turquoise-blue guy went out on Monday. I kept debating over whether I should make him in the turquoise that was in the one photo in his listing, or the turquoise-blue that was in the other photo in his listing. I realize I’ve gotten so many colors that even I am not sure which is which. They are very much alike. I think, ultimately, I will sew up the miscellaneous colors I have into ready-made slugs, and list a smaller number of more easily distinguishable colors for custom slugs. I can leave the larger variety as heart-color options.

I received such a nice feedback this week on another turquoise Hug Me Slug named Sullivan, “We love Sullivan! Thanks so much for making him. My son lit up when we took him out of the package and has been bringing him with him while he tries to walk. Thanks.” I really enjoy these kinds of details, and I love the idea of a Hug Me Slug giving a boy moral support as he learns to walk. That’s so sweet. I’d love to see more photos of people with their toys too. That is great fun for me.

Oh, and there is still time to order Valentine’s Day Hug Me Slugs, if anyone would like to express their love with a slug 🙂

Fa La La La Felt by Amanda Carestio, front coverI just recently ordered some new sewing and craft books that I really like, and wanted to share them. Fa La La La Felt: 45 Handmade Holiday Decorations by Amanda Carestio is on sale on Amazon.com. It’s a compilation of hand-sewn crafts by thirteen different designers, and there are lots of cute and charming ornaments, holiday decorations, and stockings inside. I was drawn in by the circular ornaments, like the one on the back cover below, with little animals on them, and the trees on the front cover, above. I want to try the ornaments out with my slugs and other characters, I think, and experiment with using fleece instead of felt. I remember having seen a photo of those trees in my blog browsing, years ago now, and was inspired to design my own crazy-looking Christmas-tree creatures. Mine was more like a hybrid with one of my slugs. Lots of inspiration inside this book.

Fa La La La Felt by Amanda Carestio, back coverI also ordered The Artful Bird: Feathered Friends to Make and Sew by Abigail Patner Glassenberg, whose blog, While She Naps, I enjoy as well. This book is a wealth of information on designing and sewing all manner of birds. After seeing all the wonderfully creative birds in here, I will have to experiment some more with my own bird patterns. The love birds I made before were put on hold when my sewing machine that did the lettering for my hearts konked out. My Kenmore does lettering though, and I might give that another go. I’d like to tweak my pattern some more, and I think this book will give me lots of help.

The Artful Bird by Abigail Patner Glassenberg, front coverI actually went in to Sears this weekend, debating over getting a spare machine, because the model I have was, and still is, on sale again. I believe I ended up “selling” one to another lady who was also looking at them. It’s a good machine, in spite of my wishing it had adjustable presser foot pressure, but a walking foot can compensate for that in most cases. I think I “sold” that lady one of those too in a set of presser feet. I couldn’t make a decision between getting that model and another, and so I waited. I might even go look at some more Janome‘s someday. They make that Kenmore.

The Artful Bird by Abigail Patner Glassenberg, back coverThe third book I ordered is Wee Wonderfuls: 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by Hillary Lang. Hillary Lang is the author of another blog, Wee Wonderfuls, I have fun visiting. Her projects are also adorable. Not surprisingly, I think my favorite in this book is Katie Kitty. She looks like these kitties on Flickr. In fact, anyone who loves toys will enjoy checking out Hillary Lang’s “toys and dolls” set on Flickr too. They aren’t all in this book, but there is certainly a happy selection from which to choose. I loved her “Make-a-long Story” featuring her dolls you can make on her web site as well, and you can find more of her toy patterns available there.

Wee Wonderfuls 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by Hillary Lang, front coverI’m happy with all three of these books. Sometimes sewing and craft books will have just one thing I’m excited about inside, but these were all put together with care and generosity. I think it’s so nice that these women all shared their creations and their knowledge.

Wee Wonderfuls 24 Dolls to Sew and Love by Hillary Lang, back coverI was brave today and finally plugged in my Wacom tablet! And I registered my Corel Painter 11! I am set to learn all kinds of things now. In truth, I get scared of things that cost more than a certain amount of dollars, and it was hard to take the first step. Nothing has blown up so far, and knock on wood, all is going fine. I think I need a book for Corel Painter 11 though. I can’t find anything in there. I like to have a book on my desk, rather than try to toggle between online manuals and my work in progress. I feel more secure that way. Plus, I can go read away from the computer, which I prefer. I had Painter Essentials installed, with a trial version, and things aren’t in the same places. I will get the hang of it with trial and error, I’m sure.

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We’ve got snow!

Little pine tree sagging under the snowLast night, there was news that we’d be having the first Christmas snow here since 1947. There were only flurries around bedtime, and so we didn’t know what to expect when we got up this morning.

Snow-covered stepsThis is what the front steps looked like when I got up, but it kept snowing and snowing. My poor kitty did a belly flop trying to walk down those steps. He quickly turned back around and came in the house.

Snow-covered woodsAll the trees are covered and bending with heavy clumps of wet snow.

Snow-covered woodsWe can’t see the pond anymore, from here. I hope the ducks are comfortably hidden away in the brush.

SnowmanThe kids next door rang the bell this afternoon, with a request for buttons for their snowman,

Cats look out the door at the snowbut the kitties and I watched the snow fall, mostly from inside, except for a few forays, by me, to take photos.

Illustrations by Barry Moser, The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty.I finished reading, and enjoying, The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty today. The beautiful illustrations in this edition are made from wood engravings by Barry Moser, who also designed the book, which is lovely.

Illustrations by Barry Moser, The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty.They were wonderful to look at in combination with the snowfall today, so atmospheric and full of mystery, like an enchanted forest.

Illustrations by Barry Moser, The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty.Snow creates such a nice, insulating environment for hiding away. I read in front of the heater, while my cat kept stealing my comfy sitting spots.

Illustrations by Barry Moser, The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty.Tomorrow, I think I will pretend Christmas is still almost here, and sew some more toys. I was reading a column by Emily Martin, where she noted that, for some people, getting ready for the holidays starts in January. That sounds like a good idea to me. By summertime, I have usually lost some oomph in that regard. So, why not start while the experience is still fresh in my mind? I have a Wacom tablet to hook up too, now that I have some time. The printer is still at the shop. I don’t know when we’ll be picking it up. Hopefully there won’t be too much of a delay on orders, between that and the snow.

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Still organizing the past, hoping to catch up soon

Crybaby, Original One-of-a-kind Tabby Kitten Art Doll Figurine by Max BaileyI’ve been very busy trying to get our Ruffing’s site organized for a relaunch. I still have a whole lot of work to do. I think it took me six months to build the site in the first place, and it’s grown since then. I’m going through and sprucing up what I can for now. Once I make the switch to using WordPress for the site, the navigation will be a bit “mixed” for a while, with some pages leading to older pages, until I can get all the links updated. I hope to start that transition in early September. Crybaby, above, by Max Bailey, is one of our already adopted dolls who got her photos spruced up and resized today.

Hug Me! Sock Kitten by Elizabeth Ruffing and a Kitty HelperI have some sock kittens I was working on, but I’ve put them aside for the past week or so to concentrate on the web site. I turned my back just for a minute, before taking this photo, and a very real-looking sock kitten showed up to snuggle with this pink-striped one. My kittens must be very convincing. I hope to get back to more sewing soon!

Apple Store One-to-one SessionI’ve also put my Apple One to One sessions on hold this week, so I can hurry my web site extravaganza along. The photo above was from my last class. I brought my camera along so they could give me some photography tips. I have homework! Needless to say, I haven’t had time to do it yet. Once I have a little more time to take some photos, I’ll explore my camera’s manual settings some more. That is something I never learned, and really need to.

CatI picked up Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye at the library, weeks ago, hoping to get a chance to read more of it than I have. I was inspired to pick it up after taking one of those Facebook quizzes where I was told my writing style was more like hers than Stephen King’s, but only by a little.

Well, I admit I need a computer break right now. Have a great weekend!

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Study hall

We’re waiting for our new computer to arrive, and I’m taking classes on how to use it. Most of my time is going toward making the switch right now. Our old computer isn’t up for the job of getting all our photos edited, and so they’ll be a bit of a delay in getting our new work up online. Hopefully, I’ll be able to jump right in and get things moving along again soon.

I’ve still got to address the move to using WordPress as well. I expect the ride will be a little bumpy at first, but I’m actually looking forward to taking off in a new direction, or two new directions, as the case may be. We might have waited and taken on one thing at a time, but our computer had other ideas. It’s still running, thankfully.

It looks like our country might be taking a step in a new direction as well. I hope people will eventually calm down about the idea of health care reform. I’m sure there is a long way to go, but I’m hopeful it will turn into a good thing. I get a bit disheartened that so many people are so negative about any change, after having, myself, been in situations at both ends of the health care spectrum. I know from my own experience, that you can become incapacitated by illness when you don’t expect it, through no fault of your own. I also know that insurance has been something that could be taken away as soon as you could no longer pay for it, making even “affordable” catastrophic health insurance useless, if you couldn’t continue to work. That is often the case when you’ve reached a point where you need to use catastrophic insurance. Insurance has also been taken away from people just for being sick.

I know no one likes the idea of mandatory anything, but you don’t get too many choices about getting sick either. I don’t think people realize how precarious everyone currently is, whether you are insured or uninsured, healthy or sick, rich or poor. I’m sorry some of the aspects of the reform package have been removed, and I’m concerned about some people’s insurance costs being increased, like the cost of Medicare Advantage insurance plans for seniors. I’m encouraged by there being subsidies for the middle class and the poor, to help them afford insurance. I’m also hopeful that competition to attract new customers, will lead to the creation of new insurance companies with competitive prices. I’m just hoping that affordable, useful health insurance, that you get to keep when you need it, is the end result of all this debate.