Sunday, August 9, 2015

This Morning in My Yard

I was sitting on the back porch sipping my coffee when I heard the parrots.  We have all kinds of wild parrots here in South Florida.  In every case, they are escapees that successfully mated, had families and have "been fruitful and multiplied".  Years ago, the only parrots that came to our yard were the Monk Parakeets, which are very common now.  They are famous for making huge communal nests of twigs, leaves, moss and sticks on power towers, hence their survival in more northern places.  I've even heard they are seen in Chicago, but with their sub-zero temps in the winter and the blizzards they have, I don't see how even a communal nest could keep parrots warm, let alone allow them to find food to eat.   They are regulars in our yard whenever we put bird seed out.  Next are the Nanday Conures.  These are larger than the Monks and they have black faces, bright red legs and red and bright blue feathers hidden under the more prevalent jungle green.  In short, they are beautiful.  They like the black oil sunflower seeds and they announce their entrance to our yard very loudly.  I can tell the difference between their call and the Monk's call.  Finally, the piece de resistance - the Blue Crowned Conures.  They love the tiny berries growing on the native Wax Myrtle bushes we have in the back yard.  These birds' call is slightly different than the Nanday;  just as loud, but not as demanding, at least it seems to me. 
The Blue Crowned Conures raucously announced their arrival and we ran for our cameras.  Sure enough, they were in the Wax Myrtles on the east side of the yard.  Since it is summer, our plants, trees and bushes are growing insanely, and we had to dodge the branches of other trees to get a good view of the parrots feeding.  Below are some pictures from this morning:

Some other photos from this morning before the parrots arrived - I love the sun on leaves and flowers.


My husband took the picture of the Nanday Conures above, waiting on the line for us to fill the feeders with Black Oil Sunflower seed.  They were there at the same time as the Blue Crowned Conures.  Since he had to shoot into the sun, they didn't come out very well, but you can see what they look like.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hand Made Journal

It all started with a trip to Barnes and Noble.  We hadn't been there in quite a while, so it seemed fun to get a cup of coffee and a treat of some sort while perusing magazines and books, one of which we might bring home.  First I treated myself to a good look around the store.  I love the journals, the art supplies, the desk accessories, the bright colors of everything.  As I looked at the journals, picking one or two up and looking closer, then glancing with dismay at the price tags, I thought, "I could make these".

I realize that book binding is a whole craft/hobby in itself, so this will take some practice of different binding methods to find out which one is the best.  

You can cut your paper to fit, cover some cardboard pieces with decorative paper or material, make some holes, and, if you have ribbon, you can tie the whole thing together.  This is what I did for my first try.

The next type of binding I want to try is more involved.  It is to take paper folded in half - several sheets to make a folio, say maybe eight sheets.  Gather 8 folios together, making 64 sheets, and then after cutting holes, sew the binding.  The best idea is to make 5 equidistant holes along the folded edge, and once the covers are prepared and corresponding holes are made in them, something called Coptic Stitching can be used to sew the binding. I'm wondering if I can incorporate my love of crochet into this somehow.  Coptic stitching looks like this which leads to this Youtube video tutorial.

I think I also like the look of this binding:

I bought a Grommet Kit today at Home Depot because I like the look of the grommets in the thick cardboard to the left.  I'll have to see how they made those covers.

To begin, I got out my stash of fat quarters.  For those of you who don't quilt, fat quarters are precut pieces of fabric.  They are each one quarter of a yard of material.  If you had one square yard of material, you could cut it into 4 fat quarters.  Why the word, "fat" is added, I don't know, but it sounds much more fun than just plain old "quarters."

Since I'm addicted to color, I have packages of fat quarters in rainbow colors, some of which are tie dyed.  I just like to look at them.  While I don't quilt at present, I use these quarters for making patches, for edging on jeans, whatever I might need a small amount of fabric for.  I chose a lime green fat quarter and found 2 equal 5 1/2" X 5" pieces of thick cardboard from some Amazon package we had received, and proceeded to figure out a way to cover the cardboard with the fabric.

These are fat quarters:

At first I tried to hot glue gun the whole thing, but I needed a hem around the edges, so I went to the sewing machine and 1/4" hemmed both fabric pieces.  Lest you think I just whisked over to my sewing machine and whipped up the hem (which I should be able to do), I had to first learn that I needed the hem by burning 2 fingers and 1 shin with hot glue.  The hot glue squirted out onto my shin (I was sitting cross legged on the floor) when I put a new glue stick in the back.   Feeling the pain, I reached to get the burning stuff off and proceeded to burn the 2 fingers and the thumb I used for that.  Once I started gluing fabric instead of myself, I realized I couldn't glue the hem under while holding the fabric without causing myself further injury, hence the sewn hems.  I also pricked my finger on the sewing needle AND had to wind 2 bobbins because the first one kept getting all tangled up.  It took way longer to make 2 simple hems than it should have, but I don't sew that often.  Nothing daunted, I took my injured, bandaided self and the hemmed fabric back to work on covering the cardboard.  Now that there was a neat edge, I had no trouble, although the corners are thicker than I'd like because I didn't cut away excess material. 

I also put some layers of soft Viva paper towel (I didn't have any quilt batting) between the fabric and the cardboard on one side of each piece so that I could use push pins to fasten things to the outside of the journal.  Here are pictures of the finished journal:

I happen to have a paper cutter, so I was able to take some lined paper I had and cut it to fit.  I didn't take the time to really make it exact, so the edges of the paper aren't all even, but close enough.  I remembered that I had brought home some of my father's tools as mementos - he had fine tools made in the USA back in the 30's to the 50's, amongst which were 2 awls.  I used the awl with a hammer to punch holes through the cardboard first, and then the paper.  

Once I finished that, I threaded a large eyed needle with some ribbon yarn I have-this picture is exactly the kind I used:

I threaded the needle with the ribbon and pulled off enough to make a long double strand, then I sewed the covers and paper together.  I added a couple of push pins on the front so if I have a shopping list I can just pin it on the outside of the journal/booklet for ease of access.

I'm pleased with the outcome, but I think the grommets would have been neater and perhaps metal rings would be nice, too.  I will be experimenting to find what I like best.  

My cats tried to "help" me with the ribbon by grabbing it in their mouths and trying to run out into the hall with it - just part of the crafting fun.  Oh - and my leg and fingers are healing nicely (burns are the WORST!)