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800 toy shop sales, and learning to share

Hug Me Slugs, 12 and 7 inch stuffed animal plush toys by Elizabeth Ruffing, maroon, purple, red, pink fleeceThese 12 and 7 inch Hug Me Slug plush toys are in my toy shop right now. They are burgundy, purple, lavender, red, fuchsia, and mauve fleece.

Hug Me Slug, stuffed animal plush toy by Elizabeth Ruffing, mauve fleece, 7 inchI made my 800th toy shop sale this month. I want to reach my 1000th. I have those 200 toys in progress!

Hug Me Slugs and Friends by Elizabeth Ruffing, 800th toy shop saleMy 798th sale was to a little girl from the United Kingdom. Her dad had given her a Hug Me Slug. She took her slug to school for show and tell, and told the kids she came all the way from the United States. She saved up her own money to adopt a second Hug Me Slug. That is a great compliment.

Brightly-colored piles of fleece pajamas and throws, novelty prints and solidsI found some novelty print fleece pajamas on clearance and grabbed them to take apart to make toys. That seems a little wrong, but I liked the unusual, flamboyant designs and colors. I found throws in orchid fleece, which I have been looking for for years, and in cornflower blue, another unusual color.

Spoonflower color map printed on Minky fabricI ordered a color map printed on Minky fabric from Spoonflower. They make custom-printed fabrics and I wanted to see if the Minky fabric would work for my toys. It is super soft and nice, but the colors don’t saturate the fabric all the way though. So, a little white shows at the base when stretched. I don’t know how that will look on seams or on my stuffed animals yet, since that may part the pile and show the white. I will check it out. There is enough white around the one-yard section, on which the color map is printed, for me to use to see how much the fabric stretches, but I will need to print another color sample to get a better idea of how much white shows at the base when it is stuffed, since I don’t want to cut up the color map. I’ve seen examples online, but I want to see it in person. It is a bit of an expensive experiment, but they don’t sell seconds for experimentation, unfortunately.

Oliver Bunny getting pets on bedAt the end of the day, I have some TV time with Oliver and Henrietta. After months of lying on my chest, staring into my eyes, Oliver is getting more independent. He wants to be petted on the bed now,

Oliver Bunny playing with cat toys on bedand the first thing he wants to do lately is jump into Henrietta’s carefully curated assortment of cat toys. He pushes them all around. Henrietta has collected this particular group of favorites, and generally does not let anyone play with them.

Bunny and kitty cat competing for toys on bedI tried giving Oliver one of them, separately, and Henrietta left her nest of toys to go sit on the one I gave him. He took the opportunity to run back to the others. They are both stubborn.

Oliver Bunny and Henrietta kitty sharing cat toys on bedShe decided to try sitting on Oliver, and then sitting next to Oliver. At first, he ran at her, and now they have agreed to share.

Oliver Bunny and Henrietta kitty sharing cat toys on bed, while Josephine investigatesJosephine came along to investigate and neither was willing to do any additional sharing.

The bigger toys, the Pillow Pets, make excellent bunny “bumpers” around the edge of the bed, to keep Oliver from hopping off the edge when I get sleepy. Oliver likes to groom the yellow bunny’s ears for him.

Jojo kitty wants to be a bunny for the dayMeanwhile, Jojo has decided she likes Oliver’s bunny bin. She spent a whole day in there, taking a nap. I think she wants to be a bunny for Halloween.

Oliver Bunny sleeping in his bunny binOliver fits more comfortably inside to nap than Jojo.

Oliver Bunny sleeping in his bunny binHe didn’t care too much that she wanted to visit. He spent the same afternoon in the hallway instead.

Trouble, black and white cat, likes petsTrouble, next door, decided he likes pets. He is worried about the camera here.

Trouble, black and white cat, likes petsHe rolls over, he likes pets so much. He comes looking for me at least twice a day when he is loose. He and Santana, another neighbor kitty who hangs out here, were doing okay for a while, even sitting in view of each other, as I went back and forth petting each of them.

Santana, orange cat, likes petsThen they had a few weeks of fighting. Both are the kind of kitties who don’t let things go. Some negative experience must have set them off. I am using some positive reinforcement. I have been keeping an eye on them while they are out, congratulating each one for being good and staying apart. It seems to be working pretty well. I have been luring Trouble into the woods, away from Santana, for pets, and calling Santana over to our deck or porch. They seem to be calming down again. Knock on wood.

Santana, orange cat, likes to be told he is a good boySantana loves to be told he is a good boy. Praising the good behavior has worked best so far, at helping them get along. We’ve been through this before with Santana and another kitty who liked to visit. Santana gets angry and holds a grudge if he hears the word “no” or is scolded. He doesn’t forget it easily. I am careful to avoid that. Treats and catnip toys have worked wonders at keeping the peace before. I saw Trouble and Santana sitting near each other when I looked out this morning, with no to-do, but I lured them apart anyway. I hope that means we are making progress.

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12-inch Hug Me Slug stuffed animal plushies

Hug Me Slugs, 12-inch stuffed plushie toys by Elizabeth Ruffing, mango gold, orange, lemon yellow, and orange sherbet fleeceI photographed and posted these 12-inch Hug Me Slug plushies in my toy shop. These fleece colors remind me of fruit, or jelly beans, mango gold, orange, lemon yellow, and soft orange sherbet.

Hug Me Slugs, 12-inch stuffed plushie toys by Elizabeth Ruffing, mango gold, orange, lemon yellow, and orange sherbet fleeceAnd these are dark forest green, light turquoise, and olive green fleece.

I plan to keep adding more as I get them ready. I’ve been updating my titles and tags over on Etsy, because they are trying out a new navigation set-up for some people, and it has shown up for my account. I think they are trying to streamline it, and so I am trying to streamline my shop in accordance. I’ve also been straightening up my shipping profiles on Etsy, since postal rates seem to change a lot too. And I’m continuing to stuff toys. I feel like I am terribly slow at everything, but I am actually fussy and perhaps set unreasonable expectations for how quickly I can get toys ready, or photos taken and edited. I am pleased to see my toy shop being repopulated. I hope you will come visit.

I am so relieved that fall is here. The temperature change makes me feel like I am coming back to life, even though I feel a little overwhelmed by how much there is to be done. I want to feel like everything is coming together, but it can only happen one piece at a time. I’ve been at the computer all day, making progress. I think I will go read a book on the porch for a while.

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Slugs, disembodied dandelions, and flying fur

Hug Me Slugs, assorted colors, 12 inche plush toys by Elizabeth RuffingI am now stuffing and detailing the Hug Me Slugs I have started. It has been too gray to photograph these, but we should get a sunny day soon. These are the larger, 12 inch tall ones. I hope to post them in my toy shop soon, and keep finishing and posting more.

Green Giant Arborvitae, by Elizabeth RuffingIt is finally slightly cooler and it even rained a little, making it possible for me to get another tree in the ground. I am putting in a row of Green Giant Arborvitae, to block the sound from the road, and to enclose the yard. I will be so happy when fall arrives. I am going to keep planting.

Beetle on ageratum, by Elizabeth RuffingI wandered around, taking some photos this morning. The flowers are losing their blooms, but I still find them pretty, like these ageratum. Our friend Linda, back in our old neighborhood, gave some to me, from her yard, and they have continued to reproduce every year.

Purple ageratum and white morning glories, by Elizabeth RuffingIt is nice to have flowers and trees and bushes from our old home. I hope to add more here to make it feel more comfortable and familiar to me.

Purple ageratum and pink morning glory, by Elizabeth RuffingThe morning glories came with this house, and have continued replanting themselves for the past fourteen years we have been here.

Purple morning glory, by Elizabeth RuffingI love this dark purple one.

Purple morning glory, by Elizabeth RuffingIt is pretty even with its leaves all chewed.

Redstar red morning glory, by Elizabeth RuffingI have no idea where this tiny red morning glory came from. It was suddenly blooming at the end of the porch this morning, having made its way up a bush.

Dandelion, by Elizabeth RuffingWhile prowling around the yard, I found one of the few remaining dandelion flowers. The wind was blowing while I tried to get it into focus. It looks like it is floating through green space.

Abandoned mockingbird nest, by Elizabeth RuffingI also came across the abandoned mockingbird nest in my beauty bush. I kind of wish I could climb in there. It looks like a good place to hide out, if you are tiny.

Moss on tree bark, by Elizabeth RuffingEven decaying things look beautiful. I keep passing this moss on tree bark.

Big white tree mushroom, by Elizabeth RuffingI found a giant mushroom too. I wish I knew what kind this was. If anyone knows, please tell me. I loved to collect them when I was little. Bird nests and mushrooms make me think of homes for magical woodland creatures.

Big white tree mushroom, by Elizabeth Ruffing

Speaking of woodland creatures, a second little black kitten was spotted, twice now, running up to our front door in the dark, to quickly grab some snacks out from under Santana, when they are put out. As I mentioned before, we have been having strays showing up at our neighbors’ houses, then a kitten, and now a second kitten. I have been trying to trap here, hoping to get the kitten some veterinary help, since I can’t get to where the cats are coming out of the woods behind my next door neighbor’s garage, but it isn’t working.

Santana, orange cat, guarding cat trap by Elizabeth Ruffing

I turned our porch light on to see this happening, Santana guarding the trap door. So far, I have trapped him twice, and an opossum once. Santana thought that was funny. He was lying next to the trap when I came out to escort the opossum off the porch, and gave me a nod and a meow to let me know he wasn’t the one who fell for it that time.

Santana, orange cat, scratched nose by Elizabeth RuffingSantana, who comes from across the cul-de-sac from us, firmly believes our house is his house, and our yard is his yard. He has also been fighting with the cats who cross the lawn, chasing them away. He has bites and scratches every few days lately. He recovers from one set of injuries only to get new ones.

Santana, orange cat, scratched nose by Elizabeth RuffingThis morning, there was fur all over the lawn, and his face has some scratches. I don’t know who the other participant was, only that he was gray and possibly white. I think Santana’s Convenia shot will probably tide him over for these cuts. I hope the other cat is okay.

Fur all over the lawn, by Elizabeth RuffingIt’s tough to control the situation, when none of the cats involved are ours, and the strays are showing up for food at neighbors’ houses. I end up asking for them to trap where the cats are so they can get fixed and vaccinated. There isn’t much hope of any adult cat getting trapped on our property, not with Santana fighting with them, even if he does seem to tolerate kittens and opossums.

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Hug Me Slug Angel, at home

Stuffed toy Hug Me Slug Angel and Hug Me Slug by Elizabeth Ruffing, with their owner I was trying to decide whether I should add this photo to my last post about this special Hug Me Slug Angel, but since it made me so happy, I decided to share it on its own post. Here he is, united with his companion Hug Me Slug, and their mom, or my customer’s mom. They were both gifts for her. She wrote to tell me her mom loves her Hug Me Slug Angel, who was made in memory of her dad, who passed away last Christmas. Their 57th wedding anniversary would have been this month. She says her mom is enjoying her new independent living apartment. She told me her mom has her slug angel in her living room there, but will likely be taking him out to share with other residents in the community. I hope he makes everyone smile. I enjoy thinking about the conversations with this adorable lady about her slug and the story behind him.

This is what toy making is all about, spreading some joy and some comfort, making someone feel good. That makes my day.

Oliver Bunny with his lips on his cage bar, asking for bananas, Elizabeth Ruffing This is how my day begins, with these characters. Oliver Bunny waits for me to get up so he can have his veggies and his banana slice. Sometimes he gets super excited about this. Here he is, with his lips around the bar of his pen, letting me know he needs immediate attention. He was really taking a break from chewing on his litter pan, which is does to make a point. He turns to look at me, to make sure his efforts are effective. He gets what he wants, and then he comes out for the day to hop around.

Oliver Bunny with his lips on his cage bar, asking for a banana slice, Elizabeth Ruffing And this lady below is usually asleep when I wake up, even though she has been yelling during the night lately. I am pretty sure she has hyperthyroidism, since our cats keep coming down with it as they age. I need to make an appointment to take her in for a blood test. I got an iodine test that people use on aquariums, but I don’t know if there is anything to be done if I find iodine in anything, or what the safe levels are. It isn’t regulated in water and no one I’ve asked has had much information. And it isn’t necessarily the cause. The vet and the person I talked to at the local public health department both said there seemed to be a lot of cases of hyperthyroidism in cats in this area. It’s more of a mystery.

Tabby cat, with tummy in air, lying in sun on bed, Elizabeth Ruffing Cats have continued to show up here, popping out of the woods behind my next door neighbor’s house in the evening, and then running back. He doesn’t want us to trap there, and Santana, our other neighbors’ cat chases them away from our house. I am hoping his owner can lure them over to her yard, since that seems to be our only option for catching them, to get them fixed. I count four adults so far, and surely one is a female, probably the mom of the kitten that showed up. If this goes on any longer, there will be more kittens and my neighbors will have a colony behind their houses. I don’t have the funds to take care of that situation. They are going to have to come together. If the cats get fixed and vaccinated, it will be okay, but that has to happen.

I’m sewing through stacks of fleece, trying to get more colors of Hug Me Slugs together. I get sleepy when I sit at the sewing machine. Watching the needle go up and down is hypnotic. It is so much easier to stay awake with a movie to watch. I will be able to do that when I move on to stuffing and hand sewing. I also need to take my sewing machine in to be cleaned. I thought I was a year behind, doing that, but Facebook showed me one of those “4 years ago today” posts, and there was my machine, just back from servicing. Oops. There must be a lot of fuzz inside from sewing all that fleece!