Sunday, April 20, 2014

Candy Making 2014

Clean kitchen, before the hordes arrived
I had a full house for candy making.  There were nine of us cooking up Easter chocolates.  I hadn't even started my toffee when the first person arrived!  It's a good thing the new place has a big kitchen.  We were all in there mixing and chopping, dipping and decorating.

In addition to organizing the group in a new kitchen, I tinkered with the chocolate tempering.  Some of the changes were based on last year's results and some from the chocolate workshop I attended in February.  We had mixed results.  The white chocolate didn't behave well with the Oreo truffles.  We had some ugly (but delicious) truffles.  We'll have to work on that some more next year.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pinniped Turns Five

Today Pinniped and her non-stop nose turn five years old.  I can't believe she's that old already.

It's been a year of good and bad things.  There was the upheaval of moving to a new home and adjusting to being in the central part of the house.  (Pinni still begs for food from the wrong end of the cage.)  She also gets to beg from me all day, now that I'm working at home (and in the same room!).  But that means lots of attention and the potential for lots of treats.  Not too bad.

Cannoli has been such a good companion for Pinni.  I know she loves the company and they get along so well.  The new place has lots of delicious grass in the yard, which she and Noli spent many afternoons last summer.  I know they'll be thrilled to get outside again, once the weather warms up some more.

Pinni has had a trying year with medical issues.  Her ovarian cysts returned and were quickly treated.  However, her bladder problems made a sudden come-back over the winter.  Pinni had a stone removed, has another calcification somewhere in her body, and stubborn bladder sludge that doesn't want to resolve itself, no matter what the vet and I throw at it. 

Through it all, Pinni has remained her curious, nosy self.  She happily greats visitors in the hopes that they'll feed her.  Happy Birthday, Pinniped.  I wish for a healthier year ahead.

Friday, April 18, 2014

String Theory Quilt

It's done!  I plan on adding a hanging sleeve, but I'm not sure which direction it should go.  I mean I know which way is up, but the final owner may need to hang it the long way across, depending on the size of their wall.  So I will wait until I talk to the winner of the quilt.

I'm glad I squared the corners of the quilt as I put on the binding.  The quilt hangs flat and true.  I hung it up on Wednesday so I could admire it from my desk.  It is a bright and sunny piece!  The circle quilting came out better than I had imagined.  I'm breaking out of my stitch-in-the-ditch routine.  I've done a few projects with some straight-line quilting, but this was my first attempt at curves and not following along the pieced pattern.  I am so pleased with the results.

I bound it with a mix of white and neutrals.  It mixes in well with the background.  I had feared a solid color, even white, would stand out. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guinea Pigs Lie: Abercrombie

Abercrombie and Pandora
Rick was my first encounter with a lying pig, but she was a small-time liar.  Abercrombie had some serious skill in misdirection.

Pandora and Abercrombie were my first pair of pigs I cared for as an adult.  Every time they had floor-time, they would get underneath the couch, make a mess and were nearly impossible to catch.  So I constructed a cardboard wall that surrounded the couch.  Abercrombie did not approve of this.  As soon as I’d set her on the floor, she’d run to the couch and start pulling and chewing the cardboard in an effort to get past it.

She knew I didn’t like this.  I’d yell at her to stop her chewing or digging or I’d pick her up and move her to another part of the room.  One evening I was making dinner while my husband watched TV and the pigs ran loose.  I peeked into the living room every few minutes to check out the pigs and converse with my husband.  Each time I looked in, I saw Abercrombie curled up with Pandora under a table farthest from the couch.  She appeared to be sacked out.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Binding a quilt is my favorite part of a quilting project.  I love cutting off the edges of the quilt once I attach the binding.  My backing and batting are often larger than my project, so this is the first time I see what it looks like all sewn together.  This is the true size and there's nice clean edges.

Once the binding is attached, there's the hand stitching to finish it off.  It is so restful having the quilt in my lap, needle and thread in hand.  It's a pleasant way to spend an evening.  Plus it offers me guilt-free TV (I am doing something productive, right?).  The hours spent on finishing the binding just fly by.

And then, too quickly, it's all done.  This quilt still needs a label and a hanging sleeve.  After that, it's off to the next project.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Guinea Pigs Lie: Rick

AJ and Rick (hiding in the shadows)
If you’ve owned guinea pigs for any length of time, you’ve probably discovered that they can be drama queens.  They’re good at telling tall tales of woe (“we haven’t been fed in days!”) or exaggerating things all out of proportion (“The vet tried to kill me!”).  But some people look at me askance when I first tell them that guinea pigs can lie.  They do.  Don’t let their fuzzy little cuteness fool you.

My first experience with a piggy liar was nearly three decades ago with Rick.  AJ, her sister, was the dominant pig of the pair.  AJ would occasionally harass Rick.  Over the years, Rick learned that if she cried loudly (“Mom! AJ’s picking on me!”) I would come to the cage and reprimand AJ.

One afternoon, I was in a nearby room and I heard Rick cry.  So I came to the cage and told AJ to knock it off.  Even though they weren’t sitting next to each other I figured AJ had pulled Rick’s fur and that Rick had moved away by the time I arrived.  Five minutes later Rick cried out again, so I went in and again told AJ she was a bad pig and to leave her sister alone.  A while later, I walked into their room just as Rick cried out.  And what did I see?!?  Rick on one side of the cage and AJ sleeping in the opposite corner of the cage.  Nowhere near each other!  Busted!  Instead of getting soothed, Rick was reprimanded.  After that, if Rick cried out in a tattletale sort of voice, I didn’t assume that AJ was picking on her.  What a sneaky little pig!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Going in Circles

I had considered several straight-line designs to quilt String Theory.  In the end I went with circles.  I've seen this pattern on several quilts; it makes me think of raindrops in puddles.  I love it.

It's my first time quilting circles.  It was a lot of fun.  I also tried a variegated thread and like the results (the camera doesn't pick it up).  The quilting shows up best on the back.

Next is the binding.  I have a few ideas - I am just double checking my yardage.  Then I need to design a label and it's done!