on the needles

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cutest Tummy Award Goes To....


Doesn't he look like a kid wearing a pair of colorful PJ's? LOL!

I'm still wondering if he will develop the yellow cap when he does his first grown up moult. There's a three out of five chance that he will. It depends on which subspecies of Meyer's he is. Since he is unbanded I have less info about him then I wish I did. :( Sometimes I think I see a yellow under tone to his head feathers - and I think you can see them in this photo as well.

I don't know if I want him to grow a yellow cap - I like him so much just the way he is!

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No More Stuff!!

So Hubby and I went on a cleaning rampage this past weekend. Some people call it "spring cleaning" - in my house, it's a rampage. :)

I had a complete "there-is-way-too-much-stuff-in-my-house-and-I-am-the-only-one-cleaning-it-up-day-after-day-after-day" melt down. I just couldn't take it anymore. It was seriously at the point where I literally avoided going into the kids rooms because if I actually SAW the mess I would have to clean it up. And it was NOT going to be pretty. It never stays cleaned up! The kids have SO many toys. And they play with a mere fraction of them. It's just ridiculous.

So out it all went.

About 13 large green trash bags and two days later the kids have clean rooms. Really clean. And organized. I love it. I can actually see the floors!!

Most of the stuff was trash but some of it was salvaged and will be given away. Now we just have to do the same to the basement which is supposedly the kids play area but is actually full of stuff that they don't ever play with. How do we end up with this much stuff? I swear we do a big clean out at least twice a year. I think the stuff sneaks in with the Grandparents. :) In fact, I KNOW it does.

Anyhow, I told Hubby that I hate having all this stuff. We don't need this stuff. It just creates work for all of us and becomes a burden. We both felt so much lighter after the big clean out.

So we have decided that in the future we are going to request that, when present time rolls around, everyone try to make the majority of their gift either a contribution to the kids college funds/savings or a donation to be used for their sponsor kids. I hope everyone will co-operate!

Then my sister called today and said she thought that we should give my Mom a charity gift for Mother's Day rather than buying the usual pretty much unneeded presents. Funny that we were thinking along the same lines! So my Mom will be getting a small gift from each of us as well as a contribution to this charity:

Charity: Water

It provides fresh drinking water to communities in need. My Mom chose the charity.

By this point I was on a roll! So Hubby called his sister to see if she wanted to go in on a charity gift for their Mom for Mother's Day. Last year Hubby's parents gave us Heifer International donations for Christmas so hopefully they will like getting the same thing back. We are probably going to choose something from one of these programs from Children International.

I also told Hubby I'd like to give gifts to our sponsor kids instead of getting any more stuff for myself for Mother's Day. I'm going to let him decide what he wants to do. But I'm really liking this giving rather than getting thing!!

Although I really actually do need a knitting needle case from Knitpicks too. :)


Friday, April 25, 2008

Post Script...

After my post yesterday my husband asked me why I hadn't used this picture.

Told you she sleeps like that! LOL! Libby is such a sweet old gal. :)

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Thursday, April 24, 2008


I love this picture of Libby. Mastiffs are so noble, so regal, so strong. Something about that big square head and slightly droopy eyes makes them look so wise and slightly sad. Sometimes Libby looks so calm and serene.

Of course this is what Libby looks like most of the time.

Doh! We make endless fun of her for sleeping with her tongue sticking out like that. What a dope! LOL! I also call her the LAND HIPPO!!! (You have to sort of sing it to the tune of the theme song for Bonanza to get the full effect.) And when she looks particularly goofy I call her "Ribby" in my best Scooby Doo voice. She loves it. She has no shame. She's just so happy to be included, happy to get attention.

She's getting to be an old lady now. Giant breeds rarely live long and Libby is coming up on her 6th birthday. Her black mask is rapidly fading to grey. She seems to be in perfect health (okay, a wee bit chubby) but I am starting to realize we may lose her someday. I don't know what we would do without her - goofy old lady!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Favorite Picture of Lucy

This is my favorite picture of Lucy so far. You have to click on it to get the full effect - but I think this picture finally captures what her feathers really look like. There's so much depth of color! And the way they shine and shift like mother of pearl. It's mesmerizing.

I also think this photo shows Lucy's personality so far. I am her chosen human - but even so I when I put my hands near her she always instinctively retreats a few steps and then approaches me. I always let her come to me, keeping my hand still and praising her whenever she moves towards me. It took probably a week or two for Lucy to really decide to approach me on her own and I had to be very patient about it. She was always curious and I knew she really really wanted that contact but her past baggage made her cautious. Nowadays the whole "retreat then approach" sequence takes a matter of seconds. Someday I hope it will go away entirely but I'm not holding my breath!

In this picture Lucy is curious about the camera but cautious about approaching because it's my husband behind it! I am the only one that Lucy will approach to the point of touching. But she is okay if I hand her to him. So we're working on it. :)

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Love Zone

This is how Scooter likes to snuggle. Actually Lucy likes this too. :) They both love to get up under my chin and get kisses and scritches. Scooter loves big munchy kisses - I'm not actually trying to eat him despite what it looks like.

Birds that are happily getting snuggles sometimes seem to go into a zoned out state of mind. Knowing Scooter I can tell by looking at this photo that he was starting to get into the "love zone". His eyes are a bit glazed over. LOL! (Click on the picture and you can tell.) When Scooter gets that way you can pretty much roll him right over. You can kiss him and scritch him all up and down and he just loves it. He's such a character! When the kisses finally stop there's always a little pause and then the bird seems to "snap out of it". Sometimes they will even refluff and shake out their feathers as if to clear their minds. It's weird and fascinating.

Scooter's feathers seem softer than Lucy's. I wonder if that is just down to the different species or if it's just because he is still pretty much a baby?

Mary - I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the differences between your birds feathers. You have a larger sample than me! :)

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Monday, April 21, 2008


This is our newest sponsor kid from Children International. His name is Jester, eleven years old from the Philippines. He is one of four brothers! The family was abandoned by their father and they try to get by on $50 a month. His mother had to go to a city to find work as a maid so I think the boys may be living with their grandmother. They sleep on mats on a dirt floor. There is no electricity and they have to share a community faucet for water and a community latrine.

Jester waited for two years to find a sponsor! Children International sent out a great slide show to try to get sponsors for these "waiting children" - kids who have never had a sponsor and have been waiting a long time.

This is Jester's first picture when he signed up with Children International. Isn't he a cutie? I love his little scrunched up smile.

My son saw me watching the slide show and listening to the audio about Jester. He said, "Is that from Children International? Does that boy need a sponsor?" I explained that these were kids that had been waiting for sponsors. My son said, "Well then we have to sponsor him. Come on Mom! Give the boys a chance!" (All of our other sponsor kids are girls.)

So now Jester is our kid! My son and I will be sponsoring him together - just like we do with his other special sponsor kid Mary Joy who is also from the Philippines.

I thought you guys would like to see the slide show about Jester. Click on the link above and make sure you turn on your audio! Jester is the first one on the list. Just click on his picture to start the audio. There are some cute pictures of Jester and a bit of a story about him and his life. He sounds like such a sweet little guy. I'm so happy we are sponsoring him. My son is right of course, we do need to give the boys a chance. :)

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New pictures of Scooter from this weekend...He's such a doll!

I love the way birds can look so interested and intelligent.

I'm not too fond of the blurry background and the lens Hubby used for these pictures - but any photo of Scooter is a good photo!

The birds generally spend 4 - 6 hours a day in their play area. We usually eat dinner with them. At first Scooter was getting exited when we would sit down and he would jump off and fly onto the table. Even though his wings are clipped he is still a decent flyer since he is fairly small and light bodied. This weekend he was finally able to stay out without trying to jump on the table. Yay!

Scooter has also learned his first "trick" - giving me kisses. It's easy to teach a smart baby bird to give kisses because they remember being fed that way (mouth to mouth). I just make a big kissy noise and say "Kisses!" and Scooter will kiss me back. So cute! (The cautionary note is that you need to always be careful with a beak around your face! Make sure your bird is really in the right mood for giving kisses rather than biting! Also, you may get a regurgitated surprise if you aren't careful. Ewww.)

Dianne asked how you DNA test a bird. The answer is that you have to get a blood sample - same as for humans. But since all they are testing for is the male and female chromosome markers they only need a very small sample which they get by clipping a toenail a wee bit too short. Bird toenails will bleed just like a dog or cat's will if you cut the quick. So that's how they do it. They send the sample off to the lab and then you wait two weeks for the results.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My New Baby :)

Look who followed us home from the bird store. :)

This is our new baby - a four month old Meyer's Parrot. They belong to the Poicephalus family which also has the more famous Senegal Parrot. We don't know yet if it is a boy or a girl - but I strongly suspect it's a boy. We will pick an official name when we get the DNA testing back but so far we've been calling him/her Scooter.

We had been looking around and considering various species as a second bird, going every couple of weeks to visit a great bird store in our area. This store is awesome because most of the birds are outside of their cages so they can be handled easily. They have a GORGEOUS Moluccan Cockatoo there who is a total lovebug - like most Cockatoos are. He lets me pet him under his wings and everything. He whispers at me like a little Romeo and last time I was there I was rewarded with an "I Love You"! I was so flattered! :) I'd take him home in a heartbeat but I know a Cockatoo would kill my asthma - they are VERY dusty birds.

That bird store has just about every kind of bird you could imagine so it's a good place to "test drive" the different species. You can hear their various calls (that store can get LOUD!), see how they interact with other birds (the Macaws are so playful!), how they cope with lots of people walking by, handling them etc.

I've been doing lots of research so I knew which few types of birds would be suited to our home. The Poicephalus are a great group of birds - and I think the Meyer's are the best of the best for a home that has children. They are playful but not insanely so, they have a pleasant voice (mostly beeps and peeping sounds), they are not very big, they don't tend to become one person birds, they aren't constantly demanding attention (like a Cockatoo would). All around great birds.

I think Meyer's Parrots often get passed by because they aren't as flashy colored as many other birds. (But if you give them a second look then you will see how beautiful they actually are. These photos don't do him justice at all.) Last weekend at the bird store I almost didn't notice the two little Meyer's Parrots. We were about to head out and go home when I saw them. I could instantly tell that our little birdie was attracted to us. I'm a great believer in letting your bird choose you if at all possible - that way everyone is happy. Birds have strong preferences in people and if they like you alot right off the bat then it is a good sign.

Well, this is the little guy that chose us. In fact he like us so much he tried to regurgitate some food for us right away. Sweet huh? LOL! Here he is on the toy basket in our birdie play area, eating a piece of carrot.

I think it is adorable when birds use their feet to hold things.

I love his little brown baby eyes. They will become an amber red as he matures.

Lucy thinks the new bird is...okay. I can tell she wasn't well socialized with other birds but I think she is open to the idea. And the little Meyer's is being sweet and respectful to her so it's working out great so far. :)


Monday, April 14, 2008

It's a Square World

I just can't stop the crochet - even though it gives me finger burn on my left forefinger that I use to guide the yarn and keep tension. Guess that means I crochet fast. It also means I crochet looking like a geek with a band aid on my finger as a shield. :)


I'm loving the simpleness, the instantness, the sock yarnyness, the just plain squareyness of it all. So perfect for impatient obsessive compulsives. :)

I'm using a square pattern called "Square Target". Totally a traditional square, nothing new or fancy about it. Hopefully the way I am planning on putting them together will add some pizzazz to the finished blanket. (Wait, did I just use the word pizzazz? Ewwww...)

The yarn is every shade of Plymouth Sockotta I could lay my hands on.

This is the scrap square. I'm using all the leftovers and just making one big square - round and round and round. It's a great travel project. I just throw all the leftovers in a big baggie and go. I think it's much easier to crochet in a moving car than to knit.

Well - that's all for my crafty update.

Who else is super excited for the new season of Deadliest Catch? The best show ever for thrill seeking (from the safety of the couch of course) obsessive compulsives. I mean really. They set the pots. They launch the pots. They pull up the pots. They sort the crabs. Repeat to infinity. I love it. Plus there's always the chance of great bodily harm. (Which I totally hope never happens!! But still.)

PS - I am going gluten free - two weeks and counting! So, in the search for starchy snackiness I made some rice pudding. Why is it that the first bite of rice pudding is the best thing ever - but by the fifth bite it tastes so sweet you never ever want to eat it again? I think next time I'll try making it without any sugar. Would that taste any good?

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Bird Photos

No crafting pictures still...

..so how about some random photos of birds?

We saw this Black Headed Caique baby at a bird show we went to recently. They are really adorable birds - we thought about getting one but they are a bit too lively for our kids. This little baby was tired at the end of a long day of meeting people.

Dinah the Mynah was also very tempting to take home. When I was a kid I thought Mynahs were the epitome of coolness in brid terms. I had the ambition to someday own one. Probably had been reading too many Victorian novels. :) I had never seen an actual Mynah before this though. I didn't realize that they swallow their food whole! That was a bit disconcerting at first but we had fun feeding her blueberries.

And lastly, in the completely gross category, a Turkey Vulture was eating a raccoon carcass out on our street the other day. Turkey Vultures are huge! They are kind of beautiful in their own way though...but I probably wouldn't want to give one a kiss or anything. :)


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Life isn't all about parrots and knitting at Chez Needles. We are also home to some wonderful canines.

Luca for instance. I call this one "Luca at the Park, Portrait of a Noble Hound". Just look at that refined profile, those gleaming white socks! Obviously an aristocrat.

And in this one Luca is smiling for the camera. He is so proud of himself, sitting and posing so nicely for the camera (while Libby paces around in the background.) I've never known a dog that smiles like Luca does. He is such a sweet boy.

We frequently say that Luca isn't really a dog, he's a creature. He's definitely his own little entity that's for sure.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

More Parrots (Yes Again!)

I'm working on a couple of crochet sock yarn blankets right now so I got nothin' crafty wise to show you - all I have is a bunch of little squares.

So instead you get more parrot pictures. :)

Lucy stretching her wing feathers. Whenever she does this I say "Pretty girl!" She is sitting on the handle of her toy basket in the parrot play area we have set up for her. She usually hangs out there for a couple of hours everyday. Good outside of the cage time for her.

And here s a beautiful portrait of Lucy that my Hubby took. Doesn't she look so content and satisfied? You have to click to enlarge the picture to get the full effect. She's so pretty!!

And if you are starting to get addicted to parrot posts you should check out my new friend Mary's blog Parrot Musings. She has an African Grey, two Caiques, a budgie and one of the small Macaws. I love looking at the photos and videos she posts and reading about her flock. :)

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lucy Loves...

...to ride on my shoulder and preen my hair.

Are you guys sick of parrot photos yet? I hope not because I think I'm becoming what bird owners call a Parrot Slave. Well, maybe not a slave really but definitely a parrot worshiper! She's just so beautiful. I find endless fascination in the shifting colors of her feathers. They are iridescent - every shade of green that exists all at once on one feather. It's fascinating! Click on the photo for a closer look....

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

This is How the Birdie Sleeps....

Lucy sleeps perched on her mineral block all squooshed into the corner of her cage. One foot on the block and one foot holding the bars. She sleeps so squashed against the side that her feathers poke out. I'm convinced she sleeps like this because it is the absolute closest she can get to the rest of us. It is the best place to see us as we come downstairs in the morning. She has plenty of nice places to perch and even a snuggly toy she could cuddle if she wanted to but instead she chooses to squish herself into the corner. Silly sweet birdie!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Large Dodecahedron

I think this star is so big it creates it's own gravity! Towards the end I certainly felt like I was crocheting an entire planet! ;) It's much heavier than the small version. Not too heavy to be a fun toy but I don't suggest throwing it at anyone. :)

I stuffed the points with acrylic yarn because I needed something that would be more solid & hold the shape better than just polyfil. I filled each point about halfway with yarn and then stuffed the rest with polyfil. It took a whole bag! I omitted the jingle bells since you probably wouldn't be able to hear them buried in all that polyfil. :)

My constellation of stars.

This gives a good sense of the scale of the large dodecahedron. The original pattern makes the small purple star in front.

For the large star I used Plymouth Sockotta and a base chain of 95 stitches. (If you modify this pattern then keep in mind that it only works in multiples of five & the total has to end in five.) More details on my Ravelry....

Whew! That was fun! But I think I'll take a break from stars for awhile. However, I am still crocheting using up all the leftover sock yarn making squares for a scrap blanket. :)