Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bernadette. My New Baby. (if you dont like snakes, then look away)

I have wanted a snake for a very long time. It's true. I love snakes. I have never ever been frightened of them, or squeamish about them.  When i was a kid we used to go to a park in Columbus Ohio that had a little nature center and animal sanctuary.I always liked looking at the reptiles and amphibians they had there. One day, I was probably about 6 or 7 we went, and the ranger was in the center with a snake and let us hold him and pet him. I realized that snakes are not slimy, or scaly or gross. If you actually hold and pet a snake they are smooth and dry and are as warm as their habitat is. He didn't try and bite me, he didn't try and constrict me to death, he didn't try and swallow me whole and drag me down to the depths of hell.  He sat there, docile and flicking his tongue at me, trying to figure out what I was and if I was going to hurt HIM. My mother and father were in the corner silently gagging to themselves. they HATE them.
 That day I fell in love with snakes.
Thankfully 15 years later I married a man who loves them as much as I do(I think he does, I hope it's not just an act !)

Why do people hate snakes so  much? I don't understand.  Don't get me wrong, I don't like venomous snakes, and would never mess with one of those.(I can appreciate their beauty and appreciate their contribution to the ecosystem...from afar)
 But these are captive bred DOCILE snakes.   They are not gross. How do you know if you like them or not if you have never held or touched one??  That's like me saying I hate meatloaf but never having tasted it."They strike and hiss and bite".  Well you know, all animals give signals that they are agitated. Know the signals and know when to leave them alone.  Follow their signals and you are good to go..

Well after 17 years of marriage we finally took the plunge and got one.
Our 11 year old has been pestering us for about 2 years now for one and we kept putting it off. I had done a ton of research and we had narrowed it down to Ball Python , King Snake or Corn Snake. All three were good, beginner snake pets, and we had been going to all the various snake shops online to find the kind we wanted. I had a Pinterest board FULL of snake pins of various morphs that we loved.
 So last week we were at PetSmart and saw their reptile habitats were on sale AND they happened to have a Ball Python for sale.  The associate gave us some information about her and said she was probably 3-6 months old and a very sweet temperament. She is about 18 inches long. He gave us a chance to hold her and we all fell in love.  I held her first, and she immediately started smelling me and curling around my wrist and was very comfortable with me.  She was good when we passed her off to my husband, and was immediately curious about him.  The final test was our 11 year old. Although he CLAIMS he loves snakes he tends to get skittish when he is actually confronted with these things.  He took her and she cozied right up to him as well. He was thrilled. This is a snake that is obviously comfortable being handled.
So we ended up getting the 20 Gallon snake habitat plus a few extra things to go in it. We wanted something that was big enough for her to grow into but not too big. We didn't mind starting with a 20 gallon and upgrading at a later date.
We got home and set up the cage and put our girl in there. she went exploring and climbed on her tree, tested out all the hides and habba huts, and then went into her main hiding hole and chilled.
We left her alone and let her get acclimated to her surroundings.

since then we have had a chance to hold her and she loves to curl up around our shoulders and necks and just chill out.
She has eaten too. It was surprisingly easy and she likes frozen fuzzy mice.
She is just the most chill, cool snake. she always looks like she is smiling. Too cute.

I decided that since she was MY snake (with son as co-guardian) and since I was paying for everything, that I would name her. Her name is Bernadette, after the 4 Tops song. Or Miss B. Or Miss Bernadette.  Or Bernie.

She loves her hiding cave!

Hey Y'all

isn't that patterning GORGEOUS!?

Yesterday we went and got more plants and another wood cave and a background cling. Her cage is all pimped out now. That is one happy snake.  Love her. You should too.
Come say Hi to Miss B, you never know, you may just fall in love with her and realize snakes aren't the scary monsters you think they are.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Easy Quilted Potholder Tutorial. PHOTO HEAVY Step by Step Instructions.

If your old potholders are anything like mine, it is time to throw out those manky old boys and step into some new pretties. Mine were all burnt and ugly and had food dripped all over them. I was embarrassed.  These are super easy to do, and take minimal sewing skills to accomplish.  Seriously.
The hardest part?? Coming up with super cute fabric combinations. The Best Part?? color Coordinating with your kitchen for the perfect set of hot pads!!

2 Cotton Fabrics in coordinating colors. You can use fat quarters beautifully, but since I was making a TON of them for gifts I got 1/2 yard of main print and 3/4 yard of secondary print  (to also use as binding).

Batting AND
Insul-Bright insulated batting. Get enough batting and insul bright to fill the centers of your squares.Insul bright is a special heat resistant batting that you can buy prepackaged or by the yard  at Hancocks or Jo-Anns or almost any fabric store. It has a shiny metallic flecked surface, these are NOT TO GO INTO THE MICROWAVE...EVER!!!
I just use the poly cotton quilt batting. I get the crib size and it is enough to make more squares than you can shake a stick at!

Cut your fabrics AND both battings into 8 or 8 1/2 " squares. Can go larger or smaller, depending on the size you want.  I find the finished size of 8" just about perfect.

STEP 2: Make your potholder "sandwich."  start with fabric #1 print side down.

 Add your insul bright, shiny side down THEN a layer of regular batting.

 Now, add fabric #2 print side up.
 TA-DA!  You now have your "sandwich". Fabric-- insul bright-- batting-- Fabric. Just remember to keep all pretty sides of the fabric facing out.

STEP 3:  Cut your binding. If you are making an 8" square you will need about 40" of binding. If using fat quarters you will have to sew some lengths together to get the correct amount.  Since most quilting fabric is 44", you can just cut your strip from that and be on your merry way.  I use 2 1/2" width on my binding. SET THIS ASIDE FOR RIGHT NOW. We will play with it later.

Now for the fun part.
STEP 4:  Start "quilting". I just start smack dab in the middle and do a straight line down the center of the "sandwich".
No need to backtrack and lock stitches. Just a plain straight stitch will do.  
To be clear,  you can use a ruler and water soluble pencil for perfectly straight and even lines. But I kind of eyeball and just make sure my sandwich stays straight while sewing.

Now start making more lines. I do about an inch and a half between lines. Do one to the right of that center line, then to the left of the center line. Back to the right, then back to the left. It keeps the batting and tension even.

This is what it should look like at the end.  Notice the batting and stuff is flattened and stick out past the edges..., that's fine, you will square it off and get it straight and perfect.

STEP 5:  Square off your hotpad. Make sure all your edges and battings are even and you have a nice square hotpad.

 This is what everything will look like up to this point.:

STEP 6: Prepare your binding.. I sew a finished edge on the one side to start.
 Fold Binding in half, print sides out and put raw edges together.  Do not start your binding in the corner, start it about 2 1/2" from the corner.
 Now, start sewing your binding on, but DO NOT START AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BINDING. You want to skip the begining of the binding and start your stitch about 2 to 2 1/2 inches away from the start. Make sure you lock your stitches this time by doing one or two backtrack stitches.
 Now, when you are about 1/4" from the end,  STOP. BACKTRACK and Lock those stitches! Remove from machine.

Now comes the fun part.  Turn that binding 90 degrees so it makes a triangle. Hold it there.
 NOW, while holding that triangle down you want to flip that binding back over, lining up the raw edges again.
 STITCH THAT DOWN! You want to start at almost the very edge of the potholder. Its going to make a triangle type flap. Perfect.
 REPEAT THESE STEPS WITH EVERY CORNER.  You are going to stop 1/4" from the end, flip binding 90 degrees, hold that flip and reflip while lining up the raw edges.

WHEN YOU GET TO THE FINAL CORNER:  Do your flip and hold
 Remember the start of the binding I said not to stitch down?? well you will thank me now:  Tuck your final leg of the binding into the unstitched start.
 It will look like this:
 Now stitch everything down and back track to lock stitches. remove from machine and cut all strings.

This is how it should look.  See those triangle flappies in each corner??  Those are your wings that will create beautiful mitered corners.

STEP 7:  Start flipping the Binding to opposite side of the hotpad!
Start at one corner and stitch down into place. Use a locking backstitch at the begining only.

As you get closer to the edge, get your next corner ready by flipping it up...
 When you get to the edge, stitch into the start the next corner of make sure your needle is in DOWN POSITION.  Lift your presser foot and turn the potholder.
 Now start stitching down this side.  You will do this with all 4 corners.  As you near the next corner, get it ready. After stitching into it keep your needle in down position and turn.  This was you only have one continuous stitch and no messy starts and threads etc.
When you get to the end, finish off with backstitch to lock in stitches.

Finished Hot Pads!!

Look at that fancy corner!!