Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Shoot 2013

Black Friday.  You know what that means:  round up the guinea pigs and take photographs for Christmas cards!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Wandering Bowl

I've been amused by the way the pellet bowl wanders around the cage.  This phenomenon has only occurred since March, when we brought Cannoli home.  In the beginning it moved only when no one was looking, however now-a-days it's obvious who's the culprit.  The bowl ranges all around the cage since I fully fleeced the bottom level.  I often find it, empty, under the hammock.

I caught some of the action the other morning.  They do love their Timothy pellets, don't they?  I'm happy that they don't fight over them, although I'm not sure if I'd call this sharing.  On the other hand, they're guinea pigs.  This is sharing at it's best!

I love how Noli pulls the bowl away from Pinniped and that doesn't seem to faze Pinni one little bit.  She just follows the food dish, no matter how far away it goes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Making a Casserole Carrier

I've worked with this pattern three times.  I've made several modifications each time I sew it and not all of the notations made it into the margins of the original instructions.  I'm tired of guessing what I did (or worse yet, pulling apart the seams on my carrier to see the layers).  I'm documenting it this time around.

I make the carrier out of four layers of material:  Inner fabric, Insul-bright, cotton batting and outer fabric.  The original instructions say to start with 2/3 yard of each, but I have found that if the cotton or batting shrinks during the pre-wash or if the length of cloth was cut unevenly, it's not enough material to use as instructed.  I've also discovered with the extra thickness I make, it needs to be cut slightly wider than the original instructions.  I found 3/4 yard each worked well.  The carrier also requires two 12" long 3/8" diameter dowels for the handles.

Cut one 41x11" piece of each of the four materials.
Cut one 27x13" piece of each of the four materials.
(Note to self: next time try 41x12" and 27x14")

Monday, November 25, 2013


The last time I bought hay I got a sample of bluegrass.  It looked so green and beautiful, and yet Pinniped and Cannoli stuck their noses up at it.  I gave it away at the Boston pignic.

Now that we're a Timothy-free household, Pinni and Noli have discovered that given the choices, bluegrass is pretty good!  We were lucky that another guinea pig from the Boston Pignic, Mr. Cuddles, was willing to share his stash of bluegrass.  I picked up the box a couple of weeks ago. 

Initially Pinni and Noli dove into it.  Now it gets spread about a bit, but no more than the Timothy hay.  Pinni and Noli seem to like to play with it as much as eat it.

I think I'm slightly allergic to the bluegrass, too, but it is so much less dusty than the Timothy.  My coughing has improved a lot in the last few weeks.  So now I'm looking for a good home for about 30 lbs of 3rd cut KMS Timothy Hay that I purchased last March.  Any takers?  Pick-up would be easiest for me, but I'd be willing to ship it for the price of postage.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fading Charms

When I found Fading Charms I thought: I can do that.  I finished the top in a little over two weeks.  I love all the colors and I handled the randomness better than I thought (although there's a few pieces that irk me).  My quilting friends urged me to do the background in white and I'm glad I listened to them.  I plan to back and bind it with a pastel pink and green fabric.  It should add some colors to the edge without drawing attention away from the rest of the quilt.

Usually I start a project and work on it until it's finished.  This will be my first UFO (for my non-sewing readers - UnFinished Object) while I work on some other sewing projects (with deadlines).  I'm hoping, if all goes well, to get back to this before the end of the year.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Template Taste Testing

Anyone who has guinea pigs knows that floor time can end with mischief if the area is not properly pig-proofed.  I recently made a little paper template to punch holes in my recipe book bindings.  I had left the template and the punch on the hearth, which is raised several inches off of the floor.  Neither pig has shown any interest in the hearth nor have they checked out anything placed on it.  Well, until now.

I had been busy cleaning the cage, so it took several seconds of listening to the distinct sound of paper chewing before I recalled that I had not given them any toilet paper tubes stuffed with hay.  I ran over to find Pinniped working diligently on my spine template.  She had managed to avoid the holes and hadn't quite made it across the width of the spine.  Not that it mattered too much - I had finished the recipe books earlier that week.  But what a fresh little pig!  She went straight for the one thing I had left out.  How do they know?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Revenge of the Cyst

Guess where we went last night?  To the vet!  Oh, joy!

Well, not really.  Cannoli was there for a baseline visit.  It was terrifying.  She made the vet work a long time to see her teeth.  Noli wriggled all over the place and couldn't wait to get back in the carry case.  She buried herself in the cozy and didn't come out even after she got home.

Her verdict:  the vet is a very scary place.

Pinniped, on the other hand, was initially very relaxed.  What a difference between the two!  Unfortunately, this wasn't just a social call for Pinni.  She ended up with a shaved and goopy belly for an ultrasound.  Sure enough, her cysts have returned with a vengeance.  Pinni's symptoms had been so subtle: a bit of hair loss in the middle of her back, a single day of chasing Cannoli early last week.  I'm glad I made the appointment when I did - she started losing weight right after I called.  I had guessed the cysts had returned, but I was surprised they had grown and spread.  Pinni will be getting hCG shots in the near future.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's Back!

My old Singer is back home!  The repair guy was amused by my excitement when he called two weeks ago to tell me he found the problem, and informed me that the gear could be replaced.  I did a happy dance when he quoted a price less than what I had been prepared for.  I did more happy dancing last Saturday when they called to say it was ready for pick-up (plus the price was less than what was quoted!).

The only bummer -- I got it home before I realized the needle had been bumped to the right of dead center.  The mechanic quickly adjusted that, and I returned home with my prize possession.  My sewing machine is humming along, better than it's sounded in years. 

I immediately put it to work (even before I returned for the adjustment).  Sewed up some fleece for the guinea pigs' cage, repaired one of my rice bags, and started sewing the new quilt!  I've done quite a bit of it with just a few evening's work.  I'll need to get background material and batting soon; I'll be done sewing the little squares by next weekend.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hay Update

Hay?  What hay?
I hated peas when I was little, and would spread them about my plate, hoping that Mom would think I had eaten at least some of them.  It didn't really work.  Somehow, my mother was on to me.

That story has been popping into my head whenever I look into Pinniped and Cannoli's cage.  Seriously?  Do you think I'm only going to notice the empty tubes and miss the fact that the fleece is barely visible under that even layer of hay?  Right.

Regardless of how it appears, they really are eating the hay.  Even the Timothy hay could get spread around a bit (although I don't think it was quite like this).  It took them about a week before they stopped looking at me funny every time I refilled the tubes.  Pinni and Noli are still snarfing down the Timothy pellets (the dish is empty by mid-afternoon), but they happily inspect the hay whenever I refresh their supply.

As for my coughing?  It seems to be getting better.  I think I'll wait a couple of more weeks before I try to find a home for my huge box of Timothy hay.  Even if that wasn't the main cause of my cough, I know it bothers my sinuses.  I'm probably better off not having it in the house. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Recipe Books

I keep my favorite recipes on 4x6" cards in a pair of little two-ring photo albums.  My recipes have fit in these two binders for decades but now they're stuffed to bursting, and I have more recipes I want to add.  I looked for new binders in the past two years, but I couldn't find this size and style anywhere. 

Then I came across a how-to video on making a mini-album.  The materials were easy to find (although it took a while to get a punch to make the holes) and the finished album was exactly what I was looking for.  I bought the card stock before we moved, but never had time to make these until the quilt was finished.

I finally got the chance last week.  Of course I modified.  I used cloth instead of paper on the outside and adjusted the size to match my current binders.  I thought the spine was a little wide after I made the first one (I kept the original width from the video), so I trimmed the subsequent ones by 1/4".  

I like the way they look.  We'll see how well they hold up with use.  I'm a messy cook, so these will no doubt be doused with all sorts of ingredients.  Now I need to print out all the recipes I couldn't fit in the old books!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What a Wheeker!

Back in August, I noted Pinniped and Cannoli's lack of interest when Rob came home in the afternoon.  I also tried to capture Cannoli's loud wheeking on video.  Well, since then, they've ramped things up.  The two of them greet Rob in the afternoon:   they perk up when they hear his car in the driveway and work up to frantic squeaking by the time he steps in the house.  One would think I've ignored them all day.

Wheeking triggers have expanded as well.  In addition to opening the fridge and the running kitchen faucet, they go nuts when we chop on the cutting board.  They've become experts on routines:  Pinni and Noli wheek when I get out of bed, or if they're lazy, wait until I take my morning vitamins.  They yell at me when I make breakfast, or tea, or lunch and many times at Rob if he just steps foot into the kitchen.  Of course when either of us walk through the front door, it's the perfect opportunity to tell us how hungry they are.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Scrap Inspiration

Oh, participating in the Bloggers Quilt Festival is a dangerous thing.  It was part of what inspired me to take on Northern Lights.  Between the festival and a scrappy quilt I've seen recently on the Canuck Quilter, I've been motivated to try a scrappy quilt.  I don't have a stash like most quilters I know; the majority of it fits in a basket (which has shocked and horrified a few of my quilting friends).  Most of the fabric pieces I have are too small to use in a new project, but they make lots of little squares.  While my current non-sewing project is on hold (awaiting a punch tool) and in anticipation of my sewing machine's return, I've started to cut 2" squares.

This will be a different project for me.  Most things I make are structured, planned in advance and have a specific recipient in mind.  This is starting out as an anti-project:  almost no planning, elbowing it's way to the top of my project list and I'll have to figure out who it goes after it's done.  I'm going with an easy scrappy pattern, but I think it's going to be a challenge:  I do not do random well.  Quilting, for me, is about order.  Everything has it's place based on shape and color.  I'm always so impressed by quilts a zillion different pieces of fabric that blend into big pattern.  I'm going to have to let go of my OCD and embrace the spirit of higgledy-piggledy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Nuthatch Has Landed

Nuthatch and finches
Look!  Birds!

Last week I saw a flock of juncos and a cardinal in the yard.  So close, and yet so far.  But it gave me an idea - I needed to lure them in towards the window feeders to get their attention.  I threw a small handful of sunflower seeds in the yard, and then sprinkled a couple of handfuls on the deck and the railing.  Within the day I got juncos, a few titmice, nuthatches and several blue jays milling about the deck.  The day after that - finally! - birds on my feeders. 

A downy woodpecker was the first to land on the suet feeder, but the nuthatches were the ones to hit it regularly.  I was amazed that it took two days before the titmice were brave enough to land on a feeder.  They always seem so brazen, but it appears that nuthatches are even more fearless.  The house finches on the side feeder were a surprise.  I hadn't seen or heard them before they just appeared.

We have yet to get the big bird feeder out in the yard - we're still figuring out how to mount it.  Once we do, that should bring in the cardinals and any other birds that are too shy to come close.  I hear the chickadees in the trees, but I have yet to see one in the window.  I'm hoping they'll come in soon.

Yay!  I had missed the activity.  It's like having old friends back again.