I’m still new to the idea of making things while having a small baby. Not having any free time means making things is very difficult (and posting them here takes even longer – I did this a while ago). So this was a new approach for me: no thinking, just make it. Sounds too much like an inspirational slogan but I’m going to go with it for a while. I normally spend ages thinking things through, figuring out what I need, getting things and then finally making. The design process was this: I want to make a blankie thing, look on pinterest for ideas, taggie blankets seem popular but I don’t want it to be a boring square, I like crocodiles, crocodile taggie blanket it is! It was also made entirely with things I already had.
The only time things got a little crazy was when I decided to put ribbons on the back to make it less boring. I thought it was a good opportunity to try out some of the exciting stitches on the sewing machine I had recently got. Turns out they don’t all work on slippery ribbon with a stretch fleece. Much swearing and unpicking ensued.
It’s not the biggest hit but it gets chewed a decent amount so I’m pretty happy with the result.
This was my first real attempt at a craft project since becoming a mother. I’d heard countless times that once you had a baby you wouldn’t have time for anything else, but until trying to do this I hadn’t realised how hard it would be. I thought I picked such a simple thing to do, and most of it could be done while sitting.
I had a Moby wrap baby carrier, which is basically just a really long piece of fabric that you tie around yourself in a specific way to carry the baby. They normally have a tag on them that marks the halfway point, which you need to know to be able to put it on. I’ve never been a fan of wearing things with logos on them so I wanted to get rid of the tag and put something else there instead. I thought a really basic outline of a wolf would be cool and quick to do. I had it all drawn up and ready to go quite quickly.
Unfortunately my timing was bad, when I started trying to do the stitching my wee boy suddenly started a phase where he wanted to be carried and held all the time. It’s very hard to embroider something you are wearing. So it stayed partially done for some time. I didn’t want to wash it before all the finishing was done incase I ruined it. But I was wearing it every day, it quickly became so covered in milk and baby spew that I was starting to become genuinely scared of it. The real motivation to finish it was that I needed to wash it, it wasn’t easy to complete but I got there in the end and I’m happy with it.
If you’re looking to do something similar this is how I did it. The fabric for the wrap is stretchy so I needed a backing on the embroidery for it to keep it’s shape. I had a really thin iron on interfacing that I used, it had a bit of stretch in one of the directions so I used two layers of it perpendicular to each other which made a backing that had no stretch. I used a layer of iron on adhesive (what you use for appliqué) to attach it to the fabric. I used that because I thought it might hold better than the glue from the interfacing alone, but because it’s attached to a stretch fabric that’s come away now too. So not sure if it was necessary but I think it might have held it in place better while I stitched the design on.
The embroidery is just a back stitch outline, nothing fancy. I tried drawing it on with chalk first but it didn’t show up well enough so mostly I referred to a paper cutout I had made of the design and used pins to mark the points. After it was done I ironed another layer of interfacing onto the back to seal in all the loose threads and make it look tidier.
Five weeks after starting a quick craft project it was finally complete. And most importantly I could wash the moby wrap. On the plus side I think wearing something that dirty should’ve helped to develop my baby’s immune system.
At just five days old my little boy was forced to participate in a craft project by his mother. He wasn’t entirely happy about it but I think it’s important he finds out early what he’s in for.
The kit was called a Magic Box from Baby Art. You roll out some baby-safe clay into a tin and then push your wriggling baby’s feet into it to make a print. Sounds easy but it took a few goes, which is fine because the clay doesn’t dry right away so you can re-roll it. You just annoy your baby more and more with each failed attempt. It also turns out you can’t do a hand print from a small baby, which I didn’t know as I have very little experience with small children. They just make a fist, so if you’re going to do one of these kits save your baby the torment and just stick to feet.
I thought it was time for some pregnant belly body art. I’m a big fan of optical illusions so that was the first thing I thought of doing, eventually deciding to go with abs because I thought it would be funny. The abs themselves are done with powders in a few different shades. The black on my sides to slim them down is done with body paint.
I’ve never tried anything like this before but it was a good lesson in understanding how important the exact view point is for making the illusion work. I originally started doing it by looking in a mirror but soon realised it didn’t work because the camera was going to be closer to stomach height. So I set up the black backdrop and tripod, marked where I would stand and kept taking photos through the process to see how it was looking. Not the most efficient way to do it as I kept having to go back and check. Luckily what I’d chosen to do didn’t need that much accuracy, the abs were just rough shading, it was only really the black on my sides that I needed the correct viewpoint for. If I ever try something like this again and the design needs more precision I would definitely try setting up the camera and have it feed through to my laptop so I could view it at the same time as painting.
Trying to trick your cat into taking a pill every day is not for the fainthearted. If you’re able to do it by sticking it down their throat I would probably recommend that method. I hate doing that, I’m terrible at it and my cat hates it too. She doesn’t even like being picked up. I respect her boundaries (even if she doesn’t respect mine) so hiding the pills was the only option.
With trickery the ultimate goal is that your cat loves the treat the pill is hidden in so much that they demand it every day. We have finally gotten to this point, as you can see below:
It took us a long time to find this method, we’ve been using it for the last few months and it’s worked without fail. If you want you can skip ahead to “Mincey treat” or you can read through all the other ones we went through first. Cats are obviously all unique, yours may have different tastes so one of the other methods may work better for you.
A few general points:
Trying to hide a pill in a bowl of food has never really worked that well, she always finds it and avoids it. Hiding it in something that makes it a treat has worked much better.
Give it to them when they’re hungry, we go for before breakfast
Please note: the pill my cat has to take each day is meant to be swallowed whole. Crushing pills to hide them in food would open up a lot more concealing opportunities but we couldn’t do that for this medication so all of the methods below involve keeping the pill whole.
You need to use a cheese that you can smoosh up and mould around the pill. We used colby because that was what was in the fridge and it worked quite well. She likes cheese so giving it to her like this was ok, it worked for about a week before she got bored and didn’t want them anymore.
The sneaky sausage method
I bought a precooked deli sausage (in this case a frankfurter), chopped off a small piece, cut a slit in it and hid the pill inside. She liked being given bits of sausage but the pill would often pop out when she was chewing on it so you generally had to do it a few times before she ate it. It didn’t take long for her to get bored of them and it again became unreliable.
Similar to the sneaky sausage method in that you generally have to cut a slit into whatever leftover meat you have to hide the pill in. It had more variety than the previous method to help combat her boredom but it wasn’t very successful and meant you always had to save a little bit of your dinner for her, which was tricky if she didn’t like what you made.
For this I used a cheese base to coat the pill then squashed little flakes of smoked fish into the outside to try and tempt her. It was moderately successful, she loves fish so if she was really hungry she would go for it and have eaten it before realising there was anything suspicious about it. Again it wasn’t very reliable if she wasn’t particularly hungry and she either became wary of them or bored. It also smelt gross.
This was to try and introduce variety as each method had only lasted a maximum of a couple of weeks before she either became suspicious or bored. Most would have a cheese base to stick to which was coated with an outer layer. Sometimes it was crushed up cat treats, ham, leftovers, basically anything I could find that she might be tempted by. At this point I dreaded each morning, I had no idea how long it would take or if it would even work at all, it was a battle of wits and she was winning.
This was recommended to me by a deli counter worker I was chatting to at the supermarket, her mother had found great success with it. I started again with a cheese base to coat the pill and then smeared it with some marmite. She absolutely loved it. I really thought this was our saviour but after a couple of weeks she figured out she could lick the marmite off and didn’t have to eat the pill. I was distraught.
In desperation one morning I thawed out some raw beef mince from the freezer and tried that. I had to mix it with a little cornflour to get it sticky enough to stay together around the pill but it worked! I checked with my vet about whether it was ok to be giving her raw beef mince, she said it was fine because we had a cat who had been outdoors and caught enough things that she would have the necessary bacteria to be able to process it. But if you have an indoors only cat it might not be a good idea to try it. The vet also said not to use raw chicken because that has much worse bacteria in it, so stick to beef.
This method worked well for quite some time but in the end she started to chew them and could feel the pill and would spit it out and just eat the mince.
This is the one that’s been the most successful by far, we’ve been using it for a few months and she loves them. It’s a variation of the previous method (make sure you read that one as it has advice from my vet about whether it’s safe to give your cat raw meat). To combat that she could tell the texture of the pill apart from the mince I crushed a dry cat treat and coated it with that. I left it quite chunky so it was harder to tell what was the crushed treat and what was the pill.
So to recap it’s raw beef mince mixed with a little cornflour (to make it easy to shape into a meatball and hold together). The pill is hidden inside the meatball, which is coated in a partially crushed dry cat treat. We use Temptations for the cat treat – any flavour seems fine.
I know this seems like a lot of work but if you organise things well it’s not too bad. It’s been so reliable and she really loves them so the effort seems worth it to me. You do need to do some meat management to have a constant source or raw mince available. I make lots of small meat balls (each is enough for a few days worth of pills), lay them out in takeaway containers (they need to be separated so they don’t stick together) and put them in the freezer. You take the meatballs out as you need them and put them straight in the fridge to thaw. Thawing in the fridge gives you more time that the meat is still good, if you do it in the microwave or on the bench you’re meant to use it the same day. In the container that has the thawing meatball I also put a spoonful of cornflour. So then each morning you get the container from the fridge, take a small piece of the mince, roll it in the cornflour and shape it into a ball, put the pill inside and then roll that in the crushed cat treat.