Cats in Hats: sneak peek and giveaway

Cats in HatsMy teenager doesn’t make a habit of noticing the books I read. But the day Cats in Hats by Sara Thomas showed up on the doorstep, he was paying attention. The boy has always liked cats, and as he flipped through the pages, I could tell that he was beginning to feel some righteous indignation on their behalf.

“A birthday hat? A banana hat?”

Cats in Hats

“An Alien hat, Mom? Why would you do this to a cat?”

Well, I think the answer to that question is, “because it’s cute.” And really, the cats in the book don’t seem to mind at all. If you have any experience with cats, you know that they will not sit calmly with anything on their heads unless they darn well want to.

As with most books I review here, I wanted to try one of the projects myself.


This Bobble Hat caught my eye right away, although I didn’t feel like knitting so I made the crochet version (many of the hats have both knit and crochet patterns).

The instructions were clear, and within an hour I was finished.

Cats in Hats

I gotta say, I love the instant gratification factor, and the finished product is pretty cute, if you can forgive my slightly scraggly pompom.

Of course, that’s just a human perspective. What do my favorite cats think?

Cats in Hats

2015 77/365

These are my brother’s cats, and he and my Mom helped me out with this silly little photo shoot. Dexter (the orange cat) slipped his head out of it almost immediately, but Zeus was more cooperative. He didn’t care for it very much when it was tied under his chin, but I set it on him later (untied) while he was chilling, and he had no complaints.

Cats in Hats Cats in Hats Cats in Hats

After he took it off, he chewed on it a little bit, and then took a nap on top of it. I left it with him when I went home, since he’ll probably have more fun with it than I would.

I may need to crochet another one so both cats can have a special hat. (There’s something I never thought I’d say…)

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As you can see, there are plenty of designs for your (and your kitty’s) enjoyment :-)

Also, I think a small dog could wear one of these hats. I dropped in on my aunt after photographing the cats, and her chipoo looked just the right size for the bobble cap. I was kicking myself for leaving it with Zeus!

This post is part of the blog tour for the Cats in Hats book. If you want to see some other perspectives, be sure to drop by some of the other tour stops! Also, make sure to scroll down and catch the giveaway.

All of the stops on the blog tour


Running Press and Sara Thomas are giving away some nifty stuff, including copies of the book and an exclusive pattern. (If you are reading this via email or a feed, and you don’t see a Rafflecopter widget or link, please click through to view this post on the website.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The fine print from Running Press:

This contest will run from 3/16 to 3/30 @ 12 AM EST. We will give away ONE prize pack that includes a copy of the book, an EXCLUSIVE hat pattern from Sara Thomas, and the yarn necessary to complete the pattern. FIVE runners up will receive a copy of the book. Winners will be contacted by email and must notify us within 48 hours of the notification email with address and acceptance. Please note that winners can be from the US only.

The Clouds, the Land, the Sea

clouds land seaI’ve been feeling the itch for a new playlist lately, and while I probably could have put it off for another week or two, why not seize the day? After all, what better time to spend hours picking out songs and Photoshopping cover art, than when you are really, really busy with more important things?

What can I say? Self-discipline has never really been my strong suit.

All of the tracks on this one are new to me, and many of them are new in general. Some of my favorite artists have new albums out this year: The Decemberists, Guster, Neil Finn, and Better Than Ezra, to name a few. They all appear on this playlist, along with a bunch of stuff I originally heard while listening to other peoples’ playlists on 8tracks. I also have a few tracks on here that came to me via Aidan. He discovered a couple of bands on Noisetrade that he thought I’d like (Canopy Climbers and Canon Blue), and he was right.

I know I sometimes pine away for the days when my boys were little, but more often than not, I find myself enjoying the more grown-up interactions we can have now. How cool is it that my son is exposing me to new music?!

Would you like to have a listen?

The Clouds, the Land, the Sea from lclarke522 on 8tracks Radio.

Here’s the track list:

1: Guster – Gangway
2: Colbie Caillat – I Do
3: Brooke Fraser – Something In The Water
4: Rachel Platten – 1,000 Ships
5: Laura Marling – Rambling Man
6: Better Than Ezra – The Great Unknown
7: The Head and the Heart – Down In The Valley
8: Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Black And White Movies
9: Duran Duran – What Happens Tomorrow
10: Gabrielle Aplin – Panic Cord
11: Eliza Doolittle – Skinny Genes
12: The Decemberists – Philomena
13: Foster The People – Houdini
14: Canopy Climbers – Stuck
15: Neil Finn – Strangest Friends
16: Oasis – Rockin’ Chair
17: American Authors – Trouble
18: Imagine Dragons – Shots
19: Two Door Cinema Club – Something Good Can Work
20: Canon Blue – A Native (Madison)
21: Wake Owl – Gold
22: The Morning Benders – Excuses

The title “The Clouds, the Land, the Sea” is a line from the first track, and as a result I get that song stuck in my head every time I look at the cover art. Good thing it’s a current favorite!

Speaking of cover art, this is another one that involved a little Photoshop fun.

20 highway to the clouds At the Ramada Fishkill

clouds land sea
I combined elements of the above two images to get one of my car zipping down the highway. I’ve always enjoyed making the cover art, but I find I really have even more fun when I can get fancy with Photoshop and make scenes that didn’t exist in Real Life(TM).

Enjoy the playlist!

Fun with vintage sheets, part two

Here’s part one, in case you missed it.

Do you remember, I had made three out of the seven patterns I’d cut out?

Well, I finished two more of those this week. Plus, I cut out and made four other patterns from two different sheets I’d had in my stash. That’s six garments. I think I’m sewed-out. And even if I’m not, the sewing stuff is going away this weekend because I’m getting really tired of looking at it all over my desk. It doesn’t matter how neatly I stack it, it still feels too cluttered to me!

So, first let me show you those last two patterns from the first set of sheets:

More vintage sheet sewing.

I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s another Sorbetto. I’m wearing it now as I type. It’s fine.

I’ve got a bit more enthusiasm about this second item:

More vintage sheet sewing.

It’s a Barefoot Summer Sheath Dress, which is a pattern I made by backwards engineering a dress that I bought at a place in Ocean City called Barefoot Trading Company. I made a bunch of these last summer, and wore them a lot.

As soon as I saw this sheet, I knew it had to become one of these dresses. During the hottest days of summer, it’s perfect worn just like this, either barefoot or with flip-flops. During the cooler months, though, there are other options:

More vintage sheet sewing.

I was pretty excited about the idea of wearing my new boots with it, but both Neil and Aidan were not fans of that look. Pfth.

The bottom right look features jeans and a handknit sweater and uses the dress more like a tunic. It’s an idea I just tried on a whim. I’m not sure I’d repeat it, although it probably would work well for St. Patrick’s Day with all of that green.

There is still another Sorbetto and a pair of Wide-Leg Lounge Pants to be sewn up from the first batch of vintage sheets, but I’m going to set them aside for another time.

The other stuff I sewed this week came about because of a trade I’ve got going with my cousin. She’s getting these two dresses for her daughter, G, and I am getting some goodies that she made.

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G picked out the sheets from my stash, and I made these two pillowcase-ish dresses for her. I say “-ish” because they are the width of a standard pillowcase, but they are significantly longer. G wanted them long, and she’s a pretty tall kid, to boot.

I think her taste in vintage sheets is pretty groovy and it inspired me to use those same sheets for a few things for myself.

First, and somewhat less-impressive than everything else I’ve shown you so far, is an experiment I tried:

More vintage sheet sewing.

I’ve been wanting to attempt a sleeveless version of Simplicity 3835 for such a long time. In finally figured out a way to do it.

I love this idea in theory, but in practice I’m not particularly happy. For one thing, I need to wear a strapless bra with it, and that is so not comfortable.  In addition to that, I don’t find it flattering.

Oh well.

It’s ok to have a dud in the batch. At least the thing I made with the other sheet makes me happy:

More vintage sheet sewing.

I used my own Easy A-Line Skirt pattern, and I love it! Those gigantic flowers are perfect for skirt-wearing.

Of the nine things I’ve sewn in the last two weeks, this one was by far the easiest, and quite possibly my favorite.

In particular, I really love this look:

More vintage sheet sewing.

I wear fine-gauge sweaters all. the. time. but always over a shirt, and usually open in the front. I decided to try this one all buttoned up without a shirt under it, and I really like the way it looks.

And those shoes? I had an eBay alert set up for those shoes for seven years before a pair showed up in my size. Technically-speaking, I was looking for a different color, but I gave up and went for the black when they became available. Who knows how many more years I’d have had to wait for the brown-and-red ones?? I haven’t had a chance to wear them yet, but they are so comfortable (a rarity with heels, as far as I’m concerned). This outfit is definitely coming with me when Neil and I go away for our 20th anniversary next month.

I feel like maybe I should have broken this up into three posts instead of two. I did rather go on and on and on here. Congratulations for making it all the way to the end!

TWiP: Signs of Spring

This Week in Pictures

This week the mounds of snow in my neighborhood have begun to recede. The landscape is still largely white, but you can see scraggly patches of grass along the edges of the sidewalks and the driveways. It looks more like straw than grass at this point, but it’s a start!

It’s been a very cold winter to the point that anything above the freezing mark feels warm and pleasant. It’s been above freezing most days this week, and we even got near 60 degrees one day. Whoa. That was pretty fabulous. I cashed in a Starbucks freebie and got myself a celebratory warm day Frappuccino. But who am I kidding? I will use any excuse for one of those delicious icy drinks.

Speaking of delicious icy drinks, I think I have to ask my 11-year-old to write a guest post sometime this spring or summer. Last summer he started making us delicious iced coffees in the afternoons. He needs to share his recipe! (It’s actually my recipe, but he really makes it better than I do).

So, what is This Week in Pictures?

It’s a roundup of the photos I shot for my Project 365 (one image each day for all of 2015), plus some everyday-life snapshots I posted on Instagram during the previous week.

Ready? Cast your mind back to this time last week…


Instagram: It feels like a cherry napkin (and cookies for breakfast) kind of morning…

365: 2015 65/365 – Yesterday I sewed two shirts, and this morning was a pair of lounge pants. I promised myself the sewing stuff would be put away sometime this weekend. I still have three shirts and a pair of lounge pants cut out to sew, but I may have already lost my enthusiasm.

Instagram: A little Saturday night sewing ✂


365: 2015 66/365 – Sunday afternoon get-togethers call for red nail polish. Actually, I think most things call for red nail polish lately…

Instagram: Mmmmmm. Aunt Candy’s cherry cake :-)


365: 2015 67/365 – After two failed pickup attempts due to weather, I am finally reclaiming my living room from the giveaway pile after a month. (I hope I didn’t just jinx the donation truck…)

Instagram: The teenager had a Starbucks gift card burning a hole in his pocket ;-)


365: 2015 68/365 – Green smoothies in progress. One for this morning, and one to freeze for tomorrow.

Instagram: I really need to pick up the pace on this little project…


365: 2015 69/365 – Hey, is that grass I see? I think I may cry tears of joy.


365: 2015 70/365 – Ready to get to work this morning.


365: 2015 71/365 – There are two places in our yard where I first see crocuses. One is still covered in snow, but the other has been snow free for a few days, and look what I found! Yay :-)

Thanks for taking a peek at this week’s photos! If you want to see this stuff as it happens, please feel free to follow me on Flickr.

I may already have plans to blog about some of these things in greater detail over the coming week, but be sure to leave a comment if there’s something in particular you want to know about!