Of baby things, part deux

A much-loved second child has added to my friend’s family. As baby number two is born within two week of my godson’s birthday, I’ve been passing on baby clothes. Even for someone who isn’t a mother of any human children, I find baby clothes to be so sweet and, of course, remember how adorable my godson looked in so many of those suits! (The four-legged furry children don’t take kindly to being dressed in clothes.)

A while after my godson grew out of his first batch of baby clothes, I was speaking to his mother about how she had a certain attachment to some of the suits, particularly the special “coming home from the hospital” t-shirt and pants set we’d picked out. I made the suggestion, why not “upcycle” the clothes into something the baby can keep? For those not in the know, upcycling is the trendy term for a kind of recycling, crafting new things from existing materials.

We came to the conclusion that upcycling her favourite clothes into a stuffed toy for the baby would be awesome. At that age, my godson had a fascination with owls (not without a bit of influence from me, of course…), so I sketched out a pattern for a big stuffed owl and spent a couple of days cutting and sewing together panels of his old baby clothes into a toy.


These days, Owl-cush is misshapen and deflated from all the baby love-wrestles he receives.

The belly-panel with the puppy picture, and the pale blue eyes, tufts, beak, and feet are from my godson’s coming home suit. The other pieces were either deemed super cute, like the grey elephants and mint stars, or I picked them for the matching colours. All in all, I discovered baby clothes don’t have nearly enough fabric for crafting with – which is why there ended up being so many sections – and it’s rewarding to make a keepsake which the baby will love, and the parents will cherish for the meaningful inclusions. Plus, no one feels like they’re keeping too-small baby clothes solely for sentimental reasons!

And it gives me more excuses to make cute things.

~A

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To an owl kind of year

Owls are awesome. I have written about them a couple of times, but it probably hasn’t really expressed how lovable I find these creatures.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a free downloadable owl calendar from My Owl Barn. Add together my love of calendars and owls, and you get a pretty fantastic outcome! Even better is how wonderful the artwork is, and that this project is completely free to share with everyone.

So you, too, can enjoy a super excellent owl calendar for the year of 2012, click the image below to head over to My Owl Barn and download your own customised copy!

Owl Lover 2012 Calendar

Since there are so many amazing images to choose from, I’ll be going through the list and printing up a couple more of these for myself. You can never have too many owls, or calendars. True facts.

If you don’t hear much from me, it’s because I have lost my soul to Skyrim. We held out on buying a copy until Christmas in hopes of finishing a bunch of other projects before starting the latest Elderscrolls installment (it didn’t happen), and the game is already living up to expectations. Oh, sure, it isn’t my favourite game, and from a technical standpoint, I have a number of criticisms, but there is something to be said for charging around with fireballs and a battleaxe.

~A

Boobook has a family!

I always keep an ear open for the call of the boobook owl who lives on the sprawling grounds of my workplace. Every so often, I get to see a flash of his grey wings as he zooms by, no doubt on the hunt for some delicious mouse or moth, but he is a reclusive fellow. I do hear him from afar, though, and sometimes call back to him with the sound that names his kind: “boo-book, boo-book”.

In this past week, I’ve been doing some different duties at work, and its taken me to other areas on the site which I don’t normally see. Since I work afternoon-evenings, it’s been dark by the time I get to these locations. There are plenty of large trees, and so many kinds of birds and even some microbats, that nights are filled with animals sounds and the constant movement of insects and creatures.

In one of the lovely great trees I’ve been walking under each night, I could hear an odd chittering sound from within the branches. It could have been any kind of bird, even one confused by the nearby lighting. I’d stopped and tried to get a peek of the animal before, but my eyes just aren’t made for night-vision, much to my disappointment.

This evening, on the final night of my other responsibilities, I look up again at the faint sounds. Where the branches spread out from the top of the trunk is a wide stump. I hadn’t seen it from this particular angle before. Watching with huge, glistening eyes are two small boobooks! My owl friend has a family of his own!

I was overcome with delight; they were so sweet and bobbed their heads and bodies in a perfectly owly way, watching me as I watched them. They knew I’d seen them, and I thanked them for letting me have such an awesome experience, then wished the family well and continued on my way.

I’m so happy that the boobooks are living in the area and have a lovely, secure nest to raise their young. I really do love animals, but these owls will always have a very special place in my heart.

~A

The great birdscapade

We used to keep birds; Australian native Budgerigars and Cockatiels (or, as we call them, Weiros). It’s been a while, though, and since our last Budgie girl died, we haven’t had any pet birds, and her big old cage got stored into the garden shed.

I went to the store with a relative this morning and saw a small Weiro on the road. He kind of flung himself around, ending up in a nearby tree. It was instantly obvious he was very young, and likely an escaped domestic-bred bird. By the looks of his tired flapping, he’d been out in the very welcome summer thunder storms which have been lashing Perth.

I tried to coax the little fella out of the tree. He looked down at me and chirruped, but didn’t seem to know what to do. We decided to make our way to the store and grab some bird seed while we were there, in case he stayed in the tree.

Naturally, the poor young bird had remained in place, too cold and tired to bother trying to figure out what to do in the big, wide world. He seemed really interested in the handful of bird seed I held up to him, but when that didn’t achieve anything, I climbed on top of the car and used a long stick to try and lead him out of the tree.

He climbed right onto the stick, and with the quick reflexes of my relative, he was captured! He chittered and tried to nip with his beak, so we jumped back in the car and let him go. There was a little flying around the car, but the Weiro settled quickly and seemed to decide we weren’t all bad after all. Then came the hilarious drive home with a loose Weiro strutting up and down the dashboard. He didn’t seem to the journey back, and while I ran and collected the old bird cage from the backyard, he even took a quick doze on the dash.

For the time being, he’s living in the bathroom. Those storms are still charging through, and it’s the best room of the house to keep the bird away from my cat flock. On that note, one of the cats grew up around birds and is completely indifferent, one of them is ridiculously interested (to the point of hanging off the side of the cage if you’re not watching closely), and one of them is actually a little frightened. After all, the Weiro doesn’t much like the kitties, and he lowers his body and spreads his wings and tail feathers out to make himself look super big – for a little bird.

We’ll be looking to see if anyone’s lost him in the area; being a bird, he could’ve travelled some distance before the stormy weather tired him out. If we can’t find an owner, well, it looks like we’ll have a bird again.

~A

Cygnets!

We have enjoyed a breeding pair of black swans at the local lake for as long as I remember. They probably aren’t the same pair that were living there when I was a child, but it’s wonderful to still see these amazing birds having a healthy life in our area.

A few weeks ago, we realised only one swan was ever out and about on the water anymore. It wasn’t long before we spotted the mama swan on her nest, hidden away under the branches of a tree overhanging from one of the little islands. She was well protected and very hidden; only the flash of her red beak really gave her away as she carefully inspected her nest as she sat on it.

Every time we go to the lake, we make sure to choose the path that will take us passed the swan on her nest. She’s been diligent and dedicated to incubating her eggs. The black swan has an average nesting time of 40 days, so we knew the time was drawing near for a new batch of babies to arrive.

And they did! Cygnets are super fluffy grey bundles of delight. They are so cute and elegant for a baby bird, and watching the parent swans with their cygnets is very exciting. Mum and dad swan are protective and attentive to their fluffy children, paying mind of the brood at all times.

The last set of cygnets the swans had grew into beautiful black swans, who went on their way to find their own mates. I hope they’re doing well and have guarded their own nests at another body of water this year. And in time, the new babies will do the same thing, and hopefully, I’ll get to see the excitement all over again!

Promise, I’ll remember to take my camera with me next time I go for a walk, too.

~A

Sitting with Boobook

I was graced with the beautiful presence of the boobook owl who lives at my workplace. He sat on the balcony’s handrail, peering left and right, fluffed up against the wintery night chill. He would turn his head to inspect new sounds, but he was content with me sitting and watching him from just a couple of metres away. Of course the sun had set and the few external lights are dim, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have been sitting there, so I couldn’t get any photos of his gorgeous form. In the darkness, I could still see his large shining eyes, and the typical “frowny” look of his kind.

I feel such contentment and affinity with owls, but after seeing the boobook, and hearing him call so frequently, I love them even more. They are a special and sacred creature (though I really do love all animals!), and while I sat with him, I just wanted to snuggle his feathers. My husband insisted that the owl would bite my fingers right off if I pet it, to which I fondly agreed. Of course he would bite them off. He’s that kind of owl.

I’ve been thinking of getting a second tattoo, one featuring an owl. Tattoos are really important things, and I would take a very long time in deciding what I want (just like I did with my first ink, my little bat). This might be done to mark my first publication, and of course, because I just want to.

In other news, I’ve updated my sidebar links/Favourite Reads to include a few more of the blogs I read frequently! I kept forgetting I needed to do that, what with my head being filled with too many stories. But now there are new additions, and there will undoubtedly be others again in the future when I find more awesome people and places around the internet.

~A

Some kind of bird like paradise

My place of gainful employment is graced with a whole stack of regular wild bird visitors. Seeing animals makes me very happy, and birds have such amusing personalities. I love to stop every now and then, just watching them cavort in the trees or across the lawns.

The locals are the crows, though there are pigeons and doves, seagulls (they come over from the Swan River), mudlarks, willie wagtails, some varieties of sparrow or finch, rainbow lorikeets, twenty-eight parrots (named for their call, supposedly sounding like “twenty-eight”), and gorgeous white cockatoos and red-tailed cockatoos. I’ve also been super blessed to see the resident boobook owl on two occasions!

No, I’m not a bird watcher or ornithologist. It’s animals in general that fascinate me endlessly.

The cockatoos are the most hilarious. They all love to vie for the top-most branches on the trees. These are, of course, also the thinnest and weakest of the branches, so you’ll see the birds swaying back and forth, wings outstretched to maintain their balance, because they will not let got of that prime position in the tree. Cockatoos also love to tear up grass, and you’ll often see them dotting the lawns.

All the parrot-like birds will sometimes hang upside down from a branch. In the cockatoo’s cases, it’s because they really want that branch! When it’s the lorikeets or twenty-eights, it’s usually because something they’re eating is hanging at such an angle, they can only reach it by also hanging downwards. I think two of the lorikeets were checking out one of the hollowed tree branches as a potential nest yesterday!

Today, I kid you not, I saw two crows holding hands. Erm, holding claws. Feet. You know. They were standing side by side, just hanging out, one with its foot curled around the top of its friend. They were very serene. I called out to the crows that I was onto them.

I know what those birds are up to. They’re being birds.

~A