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Hug Me Monsters, sock monsters

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, red, orange pink striped, by Elizabeth RuffingHi there. I’m catching up with my toys and catching up with my life too, I guess. I have to break down my post into three parts, to catch up with the toys I have made.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI finally have Hug Me Monsters! These are chenille, soft and fuzzy, sock dolls, and I have had them in progress, in my workroom, since January! It feels good to be pushing through to the other side, finishing toys and showing them to you.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink, by Elizabeth RuffingThis pink one with turquoise horns was my mom’s favorite. This Hug Me Monster got adopted by the time I woke up the next morning, after putting her in my shop.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink and tan striped made and held by Elizabeth RuffingMy mom was so kind and patient to photograph me with a monster, so I could show their size in relation to a person. We have been having such awful heat, as I am sure most of you have, and it wasn’t too much fun being outside, melting while trying to look pleasant. It was so humid, my hair began to frizz and stick up in the air. Photoshop Elements is handy for neatening one’s self up after the fact!

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, royal blue and turquoise by Elizabeth RuffingThis royal blue and turquoise Hug Me Monster also found a home already.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, teal by Elizabeth RuffingThese have the first incarnation of my custom-printed fleece eyes, which I designed and then had printed by Fabric on Demand. I sealed all the colored parts with non-toxic Liquitex fabric medium to make sure the color was secure. Then I hand embroidered around each color of the eyes with floss, using a blanket stitch. The monsters are almost entirely stitched by hand, with a needle and thread or floss. There is only one machine-sewn seam in each horn, which I attach by hand after I stuff them. The monsters took me a while, hours each, as do all my toys.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, hang tag by Elizabeth RuffingMy Hug Me Monsters come with hang tags, that can be personalized. I can print a name or “For + a name” on the front of the tag, and I can print a message on the back of the tag. I then insert the tag into a clear vinyl sleeve, run a satin ribbon through it, and tie it to the monster.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys, pink and tan striped, by Elizabeth RuffingMy dad especially liked the pink-and-tan striped monster with the gold horns. When my mom and I were taking photos, he started laughing. I didn’t understand why. Then I realized he was laughing at the monster. He got a big kick out of it, which made me feel good. If they make someone laugh or smile, then I am doing my job right.

Hug Me Monsters, sock doll art toys, by Elizabeth RuffingI really like these cuddly chenille socks I used for the monsters. I have a couple pair I put on my own feet in the winter, socks not monsters. I reserved most of the chenille socks I collected for Hug Me Monsters.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, green and blue-purple polka dotted, by Elizabeth RuffingTheir horns, along with their eyes and hearts, are made from fleece. I used pearl cotton floss to chain stitch a smile on each one.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, pink and tan striped made and held by Elizabeth RuffingI have been feeling better, still tired a lot of the time, but better. I’ve been having my blood retested every six weeks at the hematologist’s, and although my white blood cell count is still high, it is going down. It remains a mystery. I was a bit alarmed when I realized I had been referred to a cancer center, and they sent a sample to the Mayo Clinic for testing, but they don’t seem to think it is anything like that, since normally it would go up in that case. I feel sad and a little scared when I go there, because I know the other people there are sick and trying to make the best of it. I was drawn to all the pillows in the lobby that people make and donate. I instinctively grab one while I wait and it is comforting. That is a kind use of a craft. One had kitties on it, and you know I love kitties. I took the measurements down from the pillows, about 9 x 18 inches of fabric, a convenient size to cut from a yard or fat quarter of cotton, two pieces, sewn together with about 1/4 inch seams. They are a good size for hugging.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, lavender by Elizabeth RuffingMy next blog installment will be…Hug Me Kittens. I have more of those finally too. I had hoped to be well stocked by now, as I wanted to make the August submission deadline for the Brown Alumni Magazine holiday gift guide, but I don’t want to apply and then run out of toys by the holidays. I have a feeling I cannot sew that many in time. I’m trying to focus on the fact that I am getting things done, and trying not to dwell on how much time it takes me.

Hug Me Monster, sock doll art toy, royal blue and turquoise striped by Elizabeth Ruffing

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Juno, Junonimo! An unexpected lesson in abandoned kitten care.

Juno, orange kitten, four weeks old by Elizabeth Ruffing, abandoned kittens care

I got an unexpected lesson in abandoned kitten care.

The day after my last post, our friend Cheryl found this four-week old baby screaming by the side of the highway outside her house, at 1am.

Cheryl has been finding kittens in need of rescue almost every other day lately. She had to go to work in the morning, after staying up much of the night, trying to get the very upset kitten to eat, and put out a call for help.

I had no experience bottle feeding kittens, but I knew they have to be fed frequently and kept warm. I was home, and met her at the plaza to take the little one, who was still screaming, home with me.

Juno, orange kitten, four weeks old by Elizabeth RuffingCheryl had given her a bath, but couldn’t get her to eat on her own. Cheryl gave me some KMR, kitten milk replacer/formula, which is available at pet supply stores, along with a bottle for feeding kittens. Walmart had a version of kitten formula as well. Cheryl had some because, as I said, she keeps finding kittens.

Kitten formula needs to be mixed and then warmed first, before feeding it to kittens. Best Friends has more detailed information abandoned kitten care about what and how much to feed rescued kittens, how often to feed them depending on their age, and how to care for them. At four weeks, they are ready for gruel, kitten food mixed with formula.

I couldn’t get the kitten to eat on her own either. I tried putting a little mashed-up gruel of KMR and kitten food in her mouth with a syringe, but that didn’t work so well. I was concerned about potentially choking her, by trying to feed her with the syringe. She needed to take it in at her own pace, and it is hard to release food gradually with a syringe. She had to eat every few hours or so.

Newborn kittens have to eat more frequently. They should stay with their mothers at least until they are weaned, and should only be taken to be hand fed if you are certain they are orphaned or have no mother cat to nurse them. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has more detailed information about abandoned newborn kittens, what to do, and what not to do, if you find them.

My mom and I tried wet kitten food, dry kitten food, dry kitten food softened with water and KMR, but she wouldn’t take it on her own.

Finally, I got her to eat by putting the gruel in the palm of my hand. I cupped my hand, and put a small amount of dry food softened with water mixed with KMR formula, warmed, in the palm of my hand. I sat in a chair, with her on my lap, and held my cupped hand right near her muzzle. She stuck her nose in there, and kneaded me, while she ate.

She wanted to travel around my chest and neck. So, I kept moving my cupped hand with the gruel, offering it to her wherever she felt like kneading. Her face got messy, and so did I, but she was eating! Whew. We offered her food this way every three hours or so.

Juno, orange kitten, four weeks old by Elizabeth RuffingAny found animals should be kept separated from your other pets, at least for a couple of weeks, until they have the okay from the vet that they are in good health. Everyone needs to be up to date on their vaccines too. An extra room is best, but we didn’t have an extra room available right away.

I set her up in our extra bunny bin, which is smaller than Oliver’s. She yelled for a while, but then calmed down. I’m sure she was terrified, being left the way she was. She was only 14 ounces. She was extremely lucky that Cheryl found her and rescued her.

Juno, orange kitten, four weeks old by Elizabeth RuffingMy mom and I took turns feeding her and cleaning her up. Best Friends has more detailed information about cleaning kittens, as young ones need to be gently cleaned with a warm damp cotton ball, to help them go to the bathroom after they eat too.

We took her to the vet for a checkup, and got some other dry kitten food. We found that she liked to eat the softened dry kitten food out of the palms of our hands, so she could “nurse.”

The vet explained to us we would have to show her how to eat out of a bowl. We put a bowl right next to her, with the food, while she ate food from our palms. She was still kneading, like she was nursing from our palms. We tried to guide her over to the bowl, while she ate, adding food from the bowl, to our palms. Eventually, she tried taking it from the bowl, but not consistently.

Juno, orange kitten, four weeks old by Elizabeth RuffingEven now, we are still supplementing her diet with KMR, which she laps from her bowl, and she is, at long last, eating dry kitten food on her own.

She is very fussy about food, and we have to change varieties to keep her interested. She likes big cat dry food. That is probably because she likes to play hockey with the larger nuggets. She won’t touch canned food. She has strong preferences.

Juno, orange kitten, climbing a chair by Elizabeth RuffingShe has a feisty personality. She takes on everyone and everything in the house.

Juno, orange kitten, attacking the lettering on a box, by Elizabeth RuffingShe was showing the lettering on our cardboard boxes who the boss was too.

Juno, orange kitten, biting my hand, by Elizabeth RuffingOur vet said we can expect another couple of months of that, while she tries to prove to everyone that she is the alpha cat, which is odd because of her tiny size. He said once she establishes her position, she will stop trying to make her point. We’ll see.

I named her Juno, after the powerful Roman goddess, and after the independent Juno of the film by the same name. My mom dubbed her “Junonimo,” after Geronimo.

Juno, orange kitten, biting my hand, by Elizabeth RuffingShe loves to bite. I use a baby rattle to distract her so I can pry my hands loose, when I need to use them for something other than kitten chew toys.

Juno, orange kitten, by Elizabeth RuffingShe can be relentless.

Juno, orange kitten, attacking her reflection, by Elizabeth RuffingHer own reflection is not excused either. She is a fierce warrior.

Juno, orange kitten, napping, by Elizabeth RuffingLuckily, she takes long naps.

Juno, orange kitten, by Elizabeth RuffingShe has become an avid fan of our household game, “Ropey.” I had to get an extra cord because she tries to take it for herself and won’t always give it back.

Juno, orange kitten, with Ropey, by Elizabeth RuffingShe is getting leggy, but is still a pipsqueak.

Juno, orange kitten, approaching the big world outdoors, by Elizabeth RuffingOliver Bunny was prepared to like her, but has found her to be completely without manners.

Oliver Bunny finds the kitten to be rude, by Elizabeth RuffingI have to keep her away from him, until she calms down.

Juno, orange kitten, jumping on Jude, by Elizabeth RuffingRight now, most of what she knows of social interaction is smacking and biting and wrestling. The adult cats are supposed to teach her how to behave, by scolding her, if she gets too nervy. Jude is playing papa to her. The vet said if he hisses at her, he is just doing his job, teaching her what is okay and what isn’t.

Juno, orange kitten, napping next to me, by Elizabeth Ruffing Yesterday, she gave me a head bump, purred, and licked my nose, which was a nice change. Then she bit me, but progress is progress.

Juno, orange kitten, on top of Oliver's bunny bin, by Elizabeth RuffingShe is super fast. I have to confine her while I clean up Oliver’s litter in the morning, or she dives right into his bunny bin.

Juno, orange kitten, on top of Oliver's bunny bin, by Elizabeth RuffingHe doesn’t like that at all. He grunts at her and gets upset. She likes to run inside his Twigloo house. I’m hoping they will be friends when she calms down.

The three of us, bunny, kitten, and I, did manage to watch a movie together, “Fright Night,” which I thought was fitting for a vampire kitten. She was afraid when the characters were fighting, of all things. I kept the baby rattle on hand, for the moments when she got her own ideas.

Liquitex Fabric Medium and custom-printed eyeballs, by Elizabeth RuffingIn between feeding, cleaning, and kitten monitoring, I painted bunches of eyeballs and worked on a box of toys. I sealed a lot of my custom-printed eyeballs and emblems with my Liquitex Fabric Medium.

Hug Me Bunnies and Hug Me Kittens, art toys in progress, by Elizabeth RuffingI cut them out and pinned them to toys, and I’ve been hand embroidering them onto fleece bunnies, kittens, slugs, and sock monsters.

Hug Me Monsters, art toys in progress, by Elizabeth RuffingThese are photos of the toys in progress. I will post finished toys on our Ruffing’s shop. I’ll make blog posts for them separately, since my kitten photo album on this post is big!

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Hug Me Sock Cats, dressed!

Sewing cat dolls skirts, Elizabeth RuffingI am still fighting insomnia, and woke up at 3am again. I woke up at 1:30am a day or two ago. All week, I have been up too early. But, I am working my way through it.

Sewing cat dolls skirts, fabrics before elastic waists, Elizabeth RuffingAt long last, I finished those sock cat doll skirts I said I would finish a year ago! Wow, I had someone who was going to write an article about them then. I will have to contact her and see if she remembers me! As I said in my last post, I have fallen behind this past year. I am taking steps to rectify that!

Assorted Hug Me Sock Cats stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth Ruffing Elizabeth RuffingThese Hug Me Sock Cats, dressed in coordinating skirts, are all currently over in my Etsy toy shop, They each come with a personalized hang tag, with room for a personal message on the back of the tags. I am happy to send a gift note along too, if anyone would like to send one as a gift.

Red and Pink Striped Hug Me Sock Cat stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth Ruffing Elizabeth RuffingI had such a nice thing happen this week. A repeat customer ordered a Hug Me Slug as a gift for a baby, but had the address wrong. The person who received the package took the time to look me up online, wrote to me, and offered to drop the package at the right house, if it were nearby! I thought that was so kind. I emailed her and my customer, and we arranged for my customer’s husband to pick the box up. I was touched that they all made the effort to do that. It worked out great.

Magenta Striped Hug Me Sock Cat stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth Ruffing Elizabeth RuffingI edited the first of a series of anthropomorphic cat prints by Max Bailey today. We are very pleased with how it came out. I will be posting it over on our Ruffing’s blog and in our Ruffing’s Etsy shop soon. I will probably be working on getting those edited, printed, and posted this coming week and a half or so.

Magenta Polka Dotted Hug Me Sock Cat stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth Ruffing Elizabeth RuffingI also ordered and have already received another bunny cage for my workroom. This one is on wheels, and will allow me to remove a big table I have in there right now, making way for my shelves and a new worktable, which will come together eventually, I hope! I have a lot of packing to do, and then building, and painting furniture and walls and trim. None of those appeal to me terribly! I never finished redoing my bathroom due to my lack of enthusiasm for these kinds of  projects. I’m going to do the best I can, and tackle it all a little at a time. I have gardening and tree-planting projects on my list that never ends as well.

Red and Pink Striped Hug Me Sock Cat with hearts stuffed animal art toys by Elizabeth Ruffing Elizabeth RuffingEverything sure would be easier with a few nights of sleep. I hope I can get back on track with that. I have to accept that I have to stay away from people who upset me, or who treat me in an uncaring way. I always want to understand people I let into my life, and I tend to want to help them, even when I can’t. If people I care about are distressed, I absorb it, and I’ve been trying to understand someone I dated, who I can see is depressed and doesn’t seem to want to seek help. I talked to him, and it sounds like depression is something he has been struggling with for a few years, at least, and I can see obvious causes for it that he doesn’t seem to want to see. Instead, he wants to be left alone, and I’m not sure he even recognizes that he is depressed. I know it is just my perception, but nothing adds up any other way. For my part, I have to stop trying to figure it out, and focus on the things I need to do.

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I made some slug plushies, a toad softie, and I feel like talking, maybe

Assorted Hug Me Slugs stuffed animal plush art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI’ve been missing from my blog for a long time, or disappearing in increments. November seemed like a good time to get going again, as a lot of people blog each day of this month for NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month.

Up until about five years ago, I was writing here about my daily life and my creative projects, where I went and how I felt. Then I became self-conscious. There were people I felt looking over my shoulder, specific people with whom I didn’t want to share the details of my life. So, I began just posting toys as I finished them, and some stories about my pets, and I faded into the background. I didn’t even want to paint anymore.

As the years passed, I realized those people got bored with me and left, which was a relief.

Blue and Green Hug Me Slugs stuffed animal plush art toys by Elizabeth RuffingMy toys were doing really well, and then I ran out of them before Christmas 2013. I kept taking on custom orders, which got in the way of my restocking my shop, and because I hate to disappoint anyone, I kept accepting more custom orders. My toy shop started to fade into the background too.

At the beginning of 2014, I found out my beloved kitty assistant, Mr Bear, had cancer, and I stopped most everything to try to keep him going for as long as he seemed he wanted to go. He wasn’t able to eat enough on his own, and there was constant cleanup to do because he had poor mobility from being weak. Some days, he would rally, and take himself for a journey outdoors. I wanted to be with him while I could. He deserves his own post, and so I will save a tribute to him for when I feel I can do it.

Not long after he was gone, I found a little white bunny in the backyard, shortly after Easter. I felt Mr Bear had sent me a bunny, a pet he would surely have wanted more than any other, although not for the right reasons. He had a sense of humor. I named the bunny Oliver, and he has been a great comfort to me. I set him up in my workroom, where Mr Bear used to help me, and that helped make it okay for me to be in there again.

Hug Me Slug and Toad stuffed animal plush softie art toys by Elizabeth RuffingI had great plans to redo my workroom, had lumber cut for shelves and a table, but those have been harder to make than I thought. I’m trying. My workroom is still in shambles. Once it was done, I was going to work on learning to paint digitally, write, and possibly try another children’s book. My other book projects are unpublished. I was thinking of printing up a simple one myself. I have updated my shop as I could, and the toys pictured above are my most recent additions. They are over in my Etsy toy shop, I will add more as soon as I can.

Most recently, I have had three nights in a row where I have slept most of the night, after a week and a half of sporadic sleep, not enough, and sometimes none, each night.

Five years ago, I felt so shaken over the way I was treated by someone I dated, that I didn’t want to try that again, and have been saying since then that I didn’t know if I would ever like anyone. Then I did, which surprised me. Unfortunately, in a matter of days, he went from wanting me around as much as he could, to saying he couldn’t commit to anything further, than friendship I think, or talking to me again. I’m not sure what he meant. And I don’t really know why. I’ve been trying to process that in the middle of my sleep deprivation. I will be much better with some rest.

Black kitty cat at the door, trick or treat, photo by Elizabeth RuffingYesterday was Halloween. We had two kids, one baby too young to eat candy, and a cat show up at the door. The cat didn’t want candy either. That is the cat above. He, and others, come to the door for snacks. I have been eating the candy myself. I have to be careful about that because, during those past few years, my weight went up and now, at long last, has settled back to where it was before.

Queen kitty cat, wearing a crown, photo by Elizabeth RuffingI tried to do something festive for the holiday, but none of my pets wanted to dress up. Henrietta tried to be cooperative and let my place this crown on her head. She is the queen cat of the house, and I thought that would be fitting. I didn’t have a cape for her.

White bunny rabbit, snuggling with my hand, photo by Elizabeth RuffingI tried to get Oliver to wear the crown first, but he would have none of it. He lets me balance empty toilet paper rolls on his head (he likes to play with those), but a crown made no sense to him. He prefers to have his head petted. He will sit for a long time, with his chin resting on my chest or on the floor, while I stroke his forehead. If I stop, he nudges my hand to get me to do it some more, which is what he is doing in this photo.

I can’t decide if I should backdate my blog posts, to cover things that have happened, that I never talked about on my blog. I have been on Facebook, sharing things, and was considering taking posts from there and putting them here, or at least the photos with descriptions. I kind of like the idea, for now, that no one is reading what I write, because they left when I stopped saying much of anything. But I am also sad I don’t have a record here.