Living With Cats

I decided to take a break from writing about gardening and crafty projects today to talk about cats.

I am a cat lady. And I’m the first person to admit it. I’m not a crazy bag lady type of cat lady, but I do love being surrounded by cats. My husband and I live with three cats and we often joke that I’d have more if I could (I’ve been banned from visiting animal shelters as everyone knows I would just bring more cats home given the chance).

Unfortunately, living with cats also means having to deal with cat litter and cat hair and scratched up furniture. One of our cats loves to scratch the couch and has destroyed a few sofa covers in her life with us. Another cat likes to scratch pretty much anything and has done some serious damage to a few softer wood pieces of furniture. The third cat is an angel and doesn’t scratch anything but his scratchers.

About once a year I go ahead and patch the furniture that the rotten cat has decided to use as a scratching pad. But of course, the cat immediately starts scratching it again and it’s a whole destructive cycle. We can’t have nice things.

I’d always said I was never going to get an ugly carpet covered cat condo. They are an eyesore and are expensive and I really hate them. And if you can find something that isn’t terrible, it is ultra modern and even more unreasonably expensive than the ugly ones. But I was tired of the furniture being destroyed and it was clear that the cat needed something to scratch – it is his instincts and I can’t get pissed at him for it. The thing that really threw me over the edge though was a couple of weeks ago when something fell behind the shelf (otherwise known as the cat scratcher) and I went to move it a bit to pull out fallen item, and heard a loud cracking noise. The shelf has been so badly scratched that the structural integrity is compromised. Not good. Stop moving shelf.

So we broke down and bought some cat furniture. I came across this Armarkat cat condo on Amazon and it wasn’t completely terrible. Pretty basic and the reviews were good. And it was fairly inexpensive, as far as cat condos go (just over $100, ouch). And I liked that it had a little private loft for a cat to sleep in – perfect for putting by the patio door so the cats can watch birds and sleep in the sun during the day.

Armarkat Cat Tree

Also note the oh-so-soft wall weaving that I wrote about in this post.

The verdict is still out on whether or not they actually like the thing, I haven’t seen much interaction with it. In fact, the boy cats seemed more interested in the box it came in (typical cats).

Cats in Box

In addition to the condo, we also bought a new vertical cardboard scratcher. All of the cats enjoy scratching cardboard so I knew they would use it. It seems silly to buy cardboard, but the thought of cutting and gluing pieces of cardboard together did not strike me as a good time. They’ve already used the cardboard scratcher quite a bit in the few days that it has been home so I know my money wasn’t wasted on it.

And of course, I repaired the furniture again. Hopefully for the last time, but I won’t get my hopes up.

I’m not compensated for or affiliated with any of the products or companies mentioned in this post.

What I’m Making: More Wool Wall Weavings

So a few weeks back I wrote about making my first wee wall weaving. Since then, I have been weaving every chance I get. I made several more of the wee weavings (follow me on instagram if you want to see all my weavings), but I also started my first large weaving. I had considered purchasing another peg loom, but I instead decided to try out Loom & Spindle’s “small” loom (which I love! I just need to play with it a bit more). When I say small, it is actually very large compared to my mini peg loom. But of course, in comparison to some of the mega looms I’ve seen, this one is actually small-ish.

Making a larger weaving is much more time consuming, of course, but I also think it requires a lot more planning. With the wee weavings, I felt like I could just wing it and not have to do too much planning. With the larger weaving, you need to think about how much wool you’ll need, what sort of pattern you want to do, and so on. I’m really glad that I started out on the smaller weavings though because it allowed me to experiment and not feel bad if something didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped it would.

Wool Wall Weaving

Selecting colors is the most difficult part for me. Naturally, I lean towards neutrals. So I decided to embrace my neutral tenancies for this first large weaving, choosing cream and greyish/brown. One thing I love about weaving is that it gives me a chance to use wool that is maybe a bit too scratchy for apparel, so most of what I use is that type of wool. I also stumbled upon some beautiful brown roving while I was at an out of town yarn shop, so I included some of that in my weaving for a pop of texture.

Wool Wall Weaving

I am actually surprised at how much I am loving weaving. But, I do get obsessed with things that I instantly love (sewing, knitting, gardening), so I shouldn’t be surprised. Regardless, I’m finding myself thinking about weaving when I’m not doing it, and coming up with ways that I can sneak a little weaving in here and there between other projects.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about learning to weave and venturing in to other fiber arts that I wouldn’t have even dreamed about a year or so ago. I recently acquired an Inkle loom from my Mom who had an extra one on hand and I’m excited to give it a try. I would be grateful for any advice from those who have “inkled” – I discovered there is a fiber arts shop not too far from me (but out of town), so I’m going to venture there in the next few weeks and hope that they have a class. I’m also considering taking a yarn spinning class sometime in the next year thanks to a few instagram accounts that I follow – and it also turns out the agricultural college about an hour outside of town offers spinning courses. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be spinning my own yarn. Now just imagine if I had my own sheep!

Sewing A Blouse & My Mistakes

I know I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I had a bunch of new skills I wanted to learn this year, such as entomology pinning and wood carving, but I failed to mention that I want to take on more personal sewing projects. I’ve been spending quite a bit of my spare time making aprons for my Etsy shop and private orders, but besides that I haven’t done any sewing for myself. There are a number of sewing projects on my personal to-do list including a wrap dress (I’ve had the pattern for two or three years now?), a quilt (I have the fabric all ready for this one too!), and a raincoat (let’s not talk about this one – I’ve had the fabric AND pattern for like 5 years for this one). Doesn’t it always seem I have a million projects I want to do? Yes. But anyway, the first priority project for me was a blouse.

Let me back up. I have basically no experience when it comes to sewing clothing – it just seemed so daunting to me (quilts, aprons, bags – no problem! Clothing – eek!). What if it doesn’t fit? What if it looks like crap? What if I just spend $50 on materials, plus hours of my time, and I hate the end result? After all, it’s not like knitting – if you screw it up or hate it, you can just unravel it and make something else. Well, I decided to take the plunge. But not just a little plunge in the kiddy pool, it was a dive in to the deep end. Not only did I make a shirt, I made the pattern myself. Go big or go home, I guess.

I actually started with a shirt that I bought from Gap Outlet that I love the look and fit of. I decided that I didn’t want it to be exactly the same so I would include some slight alterations. The major alteration being that I wanted my version to be sleeveless. I almost always wear cardigans or blazers over my blouses, so sleeveless is my preference. The thing I liked most about the original blouse was the front – it is actually two pieces of fabric layered to create a nice little tulip front.


See? The Gap shirt is really pretty with a nice shape.

First I drew a rough outline of the original shirt using a few pieces of paper taped together from a roll of light kraft paper I already had on hand. I bought this roll awhile back at Benjamin Moore and it is for covering floors and such while painting, but this roll is so handy for basically everything, especially making patterns. The back piece of the shirt was the easiest to trace but doing the front was a bit more tricky and I actually ended up screwing it up a bit (no project is without its obstacles – we’ll get to this later). After I was finished tracing out the pieces, I held them together to make sure they would fit, did a bit of trimming to ensure the pieces were even, and then added about 1/4 around each piece for seam allowances. This is all so scientific and interesting – basically, I winged the entire thing.


The cat helped me make my pattern.

One of the most difficult parts of the whole planning process, other than fixing my screw up (I will get to this) was actually choosing fabric. The original shirt was a nice flight flowing cotton but I didn’t have anything like that on hand. For about a year I’ve been holding on to a quilting weight fabric from my favorite artist, Leah Duncan. I had considered turning it in to a dress last summer (with that pattern I’ve been holding on to for three years) but chickened out at the last minute. I waffled for a bit on using a quilting weight fabric since it is heavier and may not translate too well on to apparel. But I guess I was feeling brave because I went ahead and chopped it up.


Then I had to actually think about how I was going to sew the pieces together. First I needed to hem the neckline, arm lines and bottom edges – I folded everything in very finely, pinned it in place, and carefully sewed the hems. Then I needed to sew the three pieces together – which was actually very simple. Okay so this is the part where I tell you that I put the blouse on and everything fit perfectly and I didn’t screw anything up. Or at least, it would have been. I put the blouse on and looked in the mirror – it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. There was a bit of weird poofing out between the armpits and shoulders – it just wasn’t sitting right. Luckily the problem was that my blouse was too big in that area (had it been the opposite and been too small, it would have been an unsalvageable disaster). I had to think about things for awhile – do I make the shoulders thinner? Do I sew in a weird dart? Do I cut out a piece of the fabric and re-hem in around the arms? I went with the latter – worst case scenario would be that I cut too much out and then vow to never sew another piece of clothing again (very dramatic-like).

So after a bit of cursing, cutting, and additional stitching I tried things on again. Better, but still not great. What did I do?! I think the problem was mostly do to with fabric choice, but also partly to do with winging the pattern and having absolutely zero experience with sewing clothing. I felt impotent and annoyed. Now what? I decided to try out some darts – worst case I could just rip them out.


When all was said and done, the fit is so-so (not terrible but not perfect). The end result looks pretty good and if I wear it with a blazer, there is really no way you can tell that I screwed it up. And I guess it isn’t all that terrible if it is actually wearable. I have accepted the end result but I did learn a few valuable lessons which I will share with you:

– Quilting weight fabric is not ideal for apparel. I kind of knew this going in but I made the decision to use it anyway. It is fine, but it doesn’t give you a lot of shape and it doesn’t give you the nice drape that you would get from a lighter more flexible fabric. Quilting fabric does get softer over time and washes, but I still don’t think I would recommend it. I am not totally defeated against making another shirt, but I would use a voile or another lighter apparel specific fabric.

– If you’re a beginner to sewing, find a ready-made pattern. Making your own pattern is probably a bit ambitious and is probably something you should do if you’re more advanced. I am not a beginner to sewing or making patterns but I am a beginner to sewing clothing, so I probably assumed my skills would translate and everything would turn out great. So wrong.

– I probably should have experimented with a fabric that wasn’t so precious to me – it was very risky to use a fabric I’ve been holding on to for over a year because I love it too much to cut up. This silly decision could have cost me my fabric.

So that’s it. I made, I fixed, I lived to tell the tale. And I’m actually looking forward to the next sewing project!

A Little Project

With the gardening season basically wrapped up, I am settling in for winter. This includes getting to all of those indoor projects that I’ve been putting off for months (I’m looking at you powder room!), as well as creating new projects to do (because I just love to pile on the projects!). One of those projects that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile is put together a little terrarium. I’ve made some simple terrariums before using just plants and glass vessels but I’ve always killed them by getting high maintenance plants (that’s my theory anyway).

Terrariums have intrigued me ever since they started to gain popularity a couple of years ago. The reason I think I am so attracted to them is that they remind me of building dioramas in school as a kid but also because they allow creativity in the gardening world. Sometimes gardening gets a bad rap as being an old person activity, which I am fine with because I’m basically a 75 year old woman at heart, but gardening can also be an excellent creative outlet for people of any age.

I mentioned it above, but I took my inspiration from building dioramas in school as a kid, as well as a bit of inspiration from my model train-crazed brother-in-law who has an amazing layout. I would love to be able to dedicate the time and money into making adult-like dioramas in shadow boxes but I thought I’d start small to begin with. I had a lot of fun putting together the terrarium itself but also a ton of fun searching online before-hand for inspiration and ideas, including this X-Files themed terrarium (!!!!!), but in the end, I decided to put together my own. I might still do a version of the X-Files one, it is pretty amazing (we’re huge X-Files geeks in my house!).

So here is the finished terrarium in all of its glory – a little family that have all piled in to the car during summer vacation stopping to take a photo. I kept it fairly simple but I may do some revisions, such as adding a dead body in the woods behind the innocent family (I can be so dark sometimes), but for now I’ll keep it as is.


There are tons of how-to instructions online for building your own terrarium so I won’t go in to all the detail. The main thing is to ensure you choose plants that you can easily care for and that you can provide with the ideal growing conditions, ensure your vessel has adequate drainage, and place it in an area you will not forget about (or set reminders in your phone to regularly check your plant).

The vessel is a brass serving bowl that I picked up at Target (I lined the inside with plastic before I put any dirt in it as well as put a few rocks in the bottom for drainage and so I wouldn’t have to add so much dirt), the figurines are model train HO scale figures I purchased online and the plants I purchased at my local garden centre. I’m really looking forward to the plants spreading a bit and filling out the bowl.


Now fingers crossed I don’t murder the terrarium! It is a long weekend for me here so I have a lot of things on the agenda, including picking up a new vintage piece (I’ll fill you in later – I have some bedroom updates planned!), working on my powder room, hopefully finishing my sewing table project, doing some knitting, and hopefully lots of relaxation! Whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope it is something special!

An End to The Week From Hell

Things are starting to get back to normal after my terrible week of broken dishwashers (the verdict is in, it is dead forever), a migraine that wouldn’t end, and an emergency basement clean up & reorganization! I couldn’t be happier that the week from hell is over. We spent every week night cleaning, moving things around, making a big expensive trip to Ikea (with the help of my favorite little brother!), then building said Ikea, and finally putting the whole space back together in a much more organized manner. Saturday night was spent vegetating in front of the television before falling asleep about 45 minutes later (it could also have had something to do with the leftover Halloween candy binge I’d gone on earlier).

Through all the crap this week, I have been able to find some positives:

1. Yesterday morning we met some friends for an early lunch and then stopped at my favorite store in historic Inglewood, Plant, where I picked up a couple of new air plants as well as a few little vessels for my ever growing collection of cacti and succulents (if you’re ever in the area stop by my favorite knitting store too, Stash). Fall is a weird time for me because I think I start to get a bit of indoor plant fever – I’ve just gone from caring for a million plants in my garden to only caring for a few in my house so I always feel the urge to increase the indoor plant population around this time. There are truly worse things I could be doing.


2. I’ve also been trying to make some headway on a few knitting projects. I’m officially 1/2 way through my first Xmas gift and about 1/10 of the way through my first sweater (actually a shrug, but whatever), and about 30 minutes away from finishing a pair of slippers for myself (the jury is still out on whether or not that project was a success… I think I’ll need to make some adjustments to the pattern for next time). I’m also trying to finish up a cross-stitch project I started almost a year ago (a year!!! Really Megan?!!) and I’m so close. Maybe today will be the day? I really like to take on too many projects.


3. And then I decided to “save” another discarded item. This chair was in pretty rough shape (dirty and very rusty!) when I picked it up but I figured there was no harm in trying to bring some life back in to it – and also, I was looking for another chair! I spent a couple of hours scrubbing using some steel wool and some Barkeeper’s Friend and it is looking much better – the chrome base shined up really nice! I’m still waffling on replacing the upholstery – it is faux leather so I think adding real leather would be much nicer, as well as fairly inexpensive and would require very little time. Thoughts? It is a nice chair so I’m glad I was able to clean it up.


Other than that, it started snowing yesterday afternoon and hasn’t really let up since (maybe not a positive thing but it is pretty!). So I haven’t had any time to work on finishing re-finishing my little sewing table (although I have no idea where I would have found time anyway). I’ve also been looking at the powder room all week dreaming about finishing sanding the drywall, so I’m hoping to get that finished by the end of the week.


And somewhere in between all of that I’m going to work every day, eating and sleeping. I’m feeling much more optimistic about this week though, maybe next post I’ll have a finished project to share – fingers crossed!