Friday, December 18, 2009

Coffee Cozies for Christmas

Man oh man has this week been stressful. Ryan and I leave for California on Sunday morning. That's less than TWO days away! It doesn't feel like Christmas yet....I don't know when it's going to settle in. I have so many presents to make and haven't done a single one. I had a big presentation to do at work today, so everything has been leading up to that as well as making some big decisions regarding what my next step is. But, in all of this, despite a few nights of tears my path has been set. I'll plan on starting to write my thesis late January to defend in May with the hopes of starting up a new FRI research stream and doing a sort of teaching post doc. Every time I tell someone what I am doing, it sounds so surreal to say it, that my days here are finally numbered. It's a good feeling though. And I am so excited about potentially working with the FRI - Freshman Research Initiative - (we still have to write proposals so it is not 100% that I have the job, but chances are good). I love their mission, and I love the people involved. Getting to work with them at the TA level the past couple of years has been a real treat, so I can't wait to see what actually being a part of the program is like.
Yesterday afternoon though, I realized that today was the last day I would have on campus to see Penny, Rachel and Jenna before the Christmas holiday since they don't work on Saturdays. They are the angels in the graduate student office who look out for us and make sure everything is squared away with our research and TA appointments (basically make sure we get paid!) and help us out with anything they can. Penny is like a second mom to us. She's so awesome, and really is like reason number 2 that I chose to come to UT. She's just the best. Then I came to the realization that I needed to do something for these kind souls....QUICK! Enter Erin Harris and her awesome coffee cozy tutorial over at House on Hill Road. You know, like those cardboard thingies you put on your coffee cups.
I made it my mission to have all of my presentation slides completed before I got home and then to make said cozies as gifts. Luckily I had everything I needed in my stash, saving me a trip to JoAnn in the limited amount of time I had. All in all, it took me 3 hours to make the three cozies, including selecting, ironing and cutting fabrics and batting, all the way to wrapping and writing the cards. NOT BAD!! And once you've made one and figured it out, its WAY EASY after. Seriously, if you need a last minute gift this is awesome. And the ladies absolutely loved them when they opened them this morning!

Incredibly easy coffee cozies, to keep the hot in the cup and not on your hand.
Penny got the pink/brown in top left.
Rachel got the aqua/pink one front and center
Jenna got the green/purple.

Gosh I can't get over how easy these are!!

inside view. Sorry Jenna's blends in so well, I covered my ironing board with the same fabric so that it's cover wouldn't be so distracting.

I didn't have a paper coffee cup, but I put it on my water squirt bottle so you can see it in action. so cute!

Sorry I didn't get a pic of the final wrapped product....forgot. I didn't have any good little boxes or wrapping paper, but I did have some tulle. So I laid out a small square of tissue paper (the better for hiding presents with my dear) on top of a square of tulle, placed the cozy in the center and gathered this up around the cozy . I finished and secured it with tied curly red and gold ribbon. Looked pretty awesome for something on the fly!
AND...the presentation went really well today. Now that that's off my chest, can't wait to get home, make some presents and start packing for the trip to Cali!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFULLY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! See you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I miss him


He has been gone over a week now. I let him outside for the day last Tuesday and he didn't come back that night. He has stayed out overnight before, perhaps because he was out of earshot and did not hear me calling for him, even though I really don't like it. But he has never been gone this long. I have been looking for him everyday and searched extensively on Sunday. I've also put out ads on Craigslist, gone to the animal shelter and search the ads everyday.
I miss him so much. I miss his squeaky cooing noises whenever I put out wet food or when I am cooking and he comes into the kitchen to beg for a taste. I miss him jumping and climbing on top of everything, as if he has conquered and now owns it, with overwhelming confidence. I miss just watching him, he was a sight. I have never seen any cat like him, he is so beautiful and regal. And boy is he fast. I miss him sitting patiently waiting as I cleaned the litter box and IMMEDIATELY after using it. Maybe he had a thing for super clean litter boxes or that was his way of claiming it. I miss him waiting for me in the window, watching me come down the stairs, then running to greet me with a little meow from his perch (the futon) as I walk through the door. I miss him trying to eat my dinner with me once I've finally gotten to sitting down and eating. He is always relentless and persistent. He likes to be a better wall than a window when I am watching a movie. I miss him helping me make the bed. He always has a fantastic ear for me pulling out the sheets and shaking them to open them up. He would right away jump on the bed underneath them, hiding and playing in his new cave. I miss him needing to sleep with me, and the couple nights before he left, he decided that he liked to share my pillow with me and would sleep next to my head.
There were things that he did too that bothered and annoyed me, which led to me putting him outside, but I miss these parts of him too. Like chewing up my headphones. Shredding up every roll of toilet paper that gets put on the holder thingie. Breaking my butter dish to get to the yummy goods inside. sneaking up on the counters to eat leftover food cooling off in the pans while I eat and watch TV, thus making me get up to find the spray bottle to make him get down and stop (only to repeat the whole process all over again). Knocking over my trash can. Jumping from my dresser to the bed and usually landing on my head. teasing Tesia which makes her mad, grumpy and growly. Ripping open loaves of bread and eating half of it, even though he had food out. I thought he was just too large and bored in my apartment and that he would like it outside better (he really is like a small dog). Maybe that's too true and he just prefers to be outside. I just hope he is ok, even if that means someone else has taken him in and gets to enjoy him.

My house just feels empty without him now. And I am still strongly hoping and praying he finds his way back.

my favorite picture of him

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Myla's bunny

Here are some pictures of the bunny I crocheted for Ryan's newest niece, Myla. She was born on Saturday morning. I made it for her while I was up in Stillwater. I had brought some yarn and materials to make the bunny on the drive up on Wednesday, but it just wasn't happening. First the yarn, while really nice (I still had a bunch of bamboo silk left over from Aunt K's hat) it looked kind of plain and since it was lightweight, the bunny was going to turn out being really small. Second, I got really sleepy in the car trying to crochet while Ryan drove, and I needed to be a good passenger and keep him company so I had to put it away. So for the rest of the more bunny making.
I had also brought some other yarn, a skein each of pretty cream and purple and I spent most of the day Saturday (while we were watching football)after Thanksgiving crocheting a hat. I ran out of yarn so I headed over to Hobby Lobby but they didn't have the same brand or colors, but they had TONS of other cute yarn so I grabbed some more to start that bunny again. I NEEDED to leave something with Jenny for Myla because I would be a bad future-aunt if I didn't. So, I proceeded with this project knowing full well that I would have to finish the whole thing before we left the next day. My mind was set and I was going to do it.
I grabbed the yarn and embroidery thread and headed back to the house. I started it at about 7pm and crocheted until 3am during which time I was able to finish the arms, legs and body. Then the next morning as soon as I got up and ate breakfast, I crocheted the ears, attached them to the body and embroidered the eyes, nose and mouth. I worked like a mad womane and even ended up with some blisters on my fingers but it was worth it because she turned out really cute! And the yarn, while already soft, is the type of cotton where you know it's going to get super soft with age, wear and love. I hope Myla likes it. I'm secretly hoping it becomes her "baby"....the one toy that kids cannot go to sleep or leave the house without.

It is about 12" tall, and is made of a variegated cream, light pink, magenta and brown cotton yarn. I'm forgetting what brand it is at the moment...I think it is Bernat cottontots.

I would definitely use this yarn again, it works up very nicely and is really soft.

it really is the perfect baby snuggle bunny

Isn't she cute?

isn't she cuter? her eyes are so big!

Jenny and Myla - you both look great!

Myla - she has the cutest little button nose. She's perfect

I took these last three photos from Jenny's facebook page. =)

Next step: sewing

I cut all the fabric into squares for Myla's quilt. I did this about 2.5 weeks ago. I started sewing them into strips and things seemed to be running along smoothly enough to possibly get it to Jenny when I went up to Stillwater for Thanksgiving. Well, then I hit a few snags. Literally. I had finished sewing the individual strips and had just begun to sew the strips together to start making the quilt top, when my machine decided it was going to only make a few stitches and then knot everything up. Why? Why does it do that? I changed the needle. That wasn't it. I messed with the tension. That wasn't it. I took a break and decided to come back the next night. Nope, problem still there. It seemed like when I rethreaded the needle that it got better, and it hasn't really had the same problem since. I guess I can easily do that again next time it happens, but does anyone know why machines wig out like that? It'd be nice to know.
Ok, so I got it working fine again but then as I was beginning to stitch the strips together, the seams weren't lining up perfectly. what the... It's not like I have some complicated pattern I am trying to follow. Just sewing squares together! So either, on my late night of cutting (because I did do it very late one night in my determined-ness to get it done in time) I messed up somehow. maybe I didn't measure exactly 4 inches for each square, or as I cut them (since I folded the fabric and cut so that it would go faster) there was some slippage here and there resulting in unevenly sized squares? I don't know. When I asked Ryan what he thought, he said it's not that big of a deal, and that he didn't even notice it until I pointed it out to him. He didn't think Jenny would notice eithr. Well, I can't give someone a baby quilt for her first baby and not have it be immaculate. So, needless to say, I did not bring a baby quilt with me up to Stillwater. I can't forever be remembered as the aunt who sews crooked quilts. Here are some shots of the fabric squares though. They are so cute. SO CUTE. I can't wait to see the finished quilt.

I LOVE that blue and white Sunbonnet Sue print from Windham fabrics.
Wouldn't that just make the cutest little dress?

three solids, ten prints, one hundred sixty 4" squares and one very sore arm.

I think these will make such a sweet little baby quilt!

And it works out great because Myla was born this morning! Now I can also embroider her full name and birthday on it, and I think that would make it extra special. I would not be able to add that little touch if I gave it to Jenny last week.

By the way, Mommy and baby are doing great. Myla was born at 5:14am at 7 pounds 10 ounces and 21 inches. She's a perfectly healthy, beautiful little girl!

I've got lots of sewing and seam-ripping and some square-trimming to do this weekend. I'm excited though, and ready to bring it. I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 4, 2009

It did it

snow in Austin

I woke up thinking the weather channel had failed me, and that all I had today was really cold weather. Such weather had me wondering if it was worth getting all bundled up just to get lunch from the building next door. Well I am glad I did because on the way back I stepped outside to little flakes swirling around. They are hard to see in film, but maybe later this afternoon when it cools off some more I will be able to take some pictures. Love the freaky weather!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thanksgiving in Stillwater

I had such a great Thanksgiving break. I went up with Ryan to Stillwater, Oklahoma to spend the holiday with his family. The last time I had been up there was Christmas....three years ago! We stayed at his parents house. His dad has been super busy remodeling and fixing it up, and it looked really good. We left Austin Wednesday morning, didn't hit too much traffic (surprisingly) and got there in time for dinner that evening.
Thanksgiving day, I helped in the kitchen, making cheese balls (an appetizer with crackers), "Mimi's stuffing" (Ryan's great grandmother), biscuits, and all kinds of other dishes made by recipes passed down through their family. Tom said we can make a collection of these recipes for me to have, as well as some of Ryan's favorites growing up. Can't wait to get those. All we did on Thursday was eat, sleep, play games and visit with each other. All the Patman kids were at the house, which was great because since they are getting to be all spread out, I don't think that happens very often anymore. That evening, Ryan, Michael (his youngest brother), his mom and I played hearts. We went until almost four in the morning! Man, that was a vicious game....and I thought my family was competitive. Apparently the Patman motto is "second place is the first loser." yikes!
On Friday Ryan, Chris (younger brother) and I went target shooting. After getting all stocked up with ammo and clays at Walmart, we headed out to the Cimarron River to shoot. The river was pretty full, so we had to tote all our gear and tromp through the brush and overgrowth to make it to a spot where the banks provided a nice place to practice.

I love the lush countryside there in Oklahoma. It's getting towards winter there, so not all the fields were as green as this one, but there were plenty like this....intended and cared for by the farmers to turn their livestock loose. The whole time we were shooting the cows were mooing....I don't think they liked the sound too much.

The Cimarron River

You can see here that the water comes all the way up to the left side of the bank. We had to march farther up ahead where there was more space.

We are pretty much at the place where we shot clays for a bit.
We parked right by that bridge.
There were some fishermen hanging out by the bridge. They didn't stay much longer past firing our first rounds.

A better view of the bank

The ground was clay, and where it was dry, it was as solid as concrete. Where it was wet though, even slightly damp, it was super slippery. This became somewhat of a challenge if you were the person throwing the clays, as you did not want to slip and fall while you were chucking them over the river. Let me tell you, tossing clays is not as easy as you would think!

Ryan all set with his gear. Check out that beard. He is super proud of it. I am looking forward to the day it comes off (which will be after Christmas). He swears he needs his "winter coat" when he goes hunting this Christmas. Carrying a shotgun, while hunting in the snow, bagging a bird or two, with other hunting pals and your big ole beard....can't get more manly than that (I know that's what he's thinking).

Chris loading a clay in the thrower-thingie

We all took turns throwing clays for each other. Let me tell you, throwing clays is an art...especially with that launcher thing. First Chris threw for Ryan, then Ryan was going to throw them for Chris. I was photog/ observer so I was standing back and away from the danger. We learned (unfortunately the hard way) that the motion for throwing needs to be more like a reverse frisbee toss, where your wrist ends and snaps out and in front of you. Ryan, being a baseball player and pitcher, did not do this on the first attempt and snapped his on the follow-through, sending the clay in my direction. It was a definite surprise to see bright orange flying my way, but me and my chest of steel shattered it. It was more shocking than painful. After that, we switched to me throwing and while I didn't nail any of my companions, I had just as much trouble trying to launch them. I ended up throwing more like mini-frisbees and that worked ok, they just couldn't go as far. Later when Chris was back on throwing duty, he hit Ryan as well, so I guess he got him back for me. =)

Chris throwing clays

Ha. They were supposed to be going front and center but like I said before, were kind of all over the place. I guess that's good for practice though since you don't know where and in which direction the game is going to be coming!

Patman brothers

Despite unexpected incoming clays, the slippery ground, all the thorns ,stickers and fading light which resulted in bumps and scratches, we had a great time!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I am praying for right now....

Is for a snow day. It would be awesome if it actually snowed, but I need it to at least freeze. Because when it freezes, campus closes and I can spend the day at home next to a fire with my crazy cats who have not yet calmed down ever since I got back home from Thanksgiving in Oklahoma and work on some of the baby gifts I have planned while the Grinch or some other Christmas movie plays in the background. Doesn't that sound awesome? It looks like I might have a chance of this happening too.

Austin's end-of-the-week forecast

Keeping my fingers crossed on this one....