Thursday, February 28, 2013

March: Adopt Rescued Guinea Pigs Month

Where did February go?  As we head into March, it's a good time to snuggle up with your guinea pig and celebrate Adopt Rescued Guinea Pigs Month.  Did you know that ASPCA declared March 2002 as the first annual Adopt-A-Rescued-Guinea Pig Month?  It was in an effort to celebrate guinea pigs as pets and to help promote the adoption of pigs who have lost their homes.  I've heard that it's been expanded to include all "pocket pets" - but for me, it's all about the pigs.

My first experience with adopting guinea pigs rather than purchasing them was in December 2003.  I had bought a brand new car just days before adopting Athena and Victoria, and honestly, I remember being more excited about the guinea pigs than I was over the car.  The poor pigs were less than impressed with the car ride to their new home.  I was still breaking in the engine and needed to stay under 60mph.  I decided to avoid the highway and take back roads to get home.  It was long and windy ride, with a lot of sliding and scrambling in the hay-filled cardboard carrier.  Poor frazzled pigs!  Next time I adopted, I remembered to bring my own towel-lined carriers - and to stay off of winding roads.  It made for a more comfortable ride and resulted slightly calmer guinea pigs.

I suspect Pinniped is hoping I will take this message to heart and bring home a new friend for her this month.  She misses having another pig to steal food from and chase around the cage.

If you would like to learn more about the National Adopt a Rescued Guinea Pig campaign, please visit

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Great Escape

Pinniped has become fixated on the grid barriers when she is out for floor time.  Normally I keep her entertained with the Teach 'N Treat.  However, I was in a rush to clean the cage this weekend and I didn't set up her normal distractions.  So Pinni's full focus was getting to the other side of the grids.

Her favorite destination is usually the living room, where she can hide under the couch and elude being recaptured.  But lately she's taken an interest in my cage cleaning routine and wants to be in that room, instead.  The first time she breached the walls on Sunday, she did so very quietly.  I turned around to find a gaping hole in the grids and no pig.  The subsequent two escapes were not nearly so stealthy.  We managed to catch Pinni on video, and you can see she was a bit aggravated to be on the wrong side of the grids yet again.  Her strength is impressive; she managed to lift two of the grids off of the floor several times.  Grids are pretty heavy when they're all zip-tied together. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monkey Bread for Two

I made Gorilla Bread for Breakfast Club a few months ago, and had left a small bit of it at home for Rob (because I get in trouble if I bring all of the goodies to work).  He began to pester me inquire when I'd make it again, just for us.  So I experimented scaling down a basic monkey bread recipe for two people.  The ingredients are easy enough, but it took me several tries to find a pan that would work well in our toaster oven.  My mini loaf pan was too tall; the top got burned by the upper element and there was a raw spot in the middle.  The mini pie plate was too shallow, and I ended up with burnt sugar all over the bottom of the toaster oven.  Turns out the little fish-dish was just the right size.  (Now I feel like I'm telling the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.)  Even though it took three attempts to find a dish that worked, neither one of us had too much trouble disposing of my "failures".

The end result:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Crazy for Cantaloupe

Melon rind is one of Pinniped's absolute favorite treats.  She gets so excited, she just can't contain herself.

It doesn't matter that her breakfast chard is only half eaten - the sound of cantaloupe being prepared brings Pinni front-and-center.  She doesn't wheek; she just stands at attention behind the grids that are closest to the kitchen, awaiting the melon that must be arriving at any moment.

I'm not sure what captures her attention.  Cutting cantaloupe isn't a particularly noisy task.  It doesn't start with the tell-tale sound of the vegetable drawer in the fridge.  Maybe she smells of the melon all the way from the other room and that's what clues her in.  Regardless, preparing a melon always get Pinni's attention.

Hungry schnoz
It takes a while to cut up a large cantaloupe.  Pinni tries to ignore what's going on in the kitchen and goes back to her chard several times.  But it has lost it's appeal.  I glance over and see her patiently waiting; she lurks by her water bottle.  I finally take pity on the poor pig and cut off a small slice of rind for her to eat.  Oh, joy!  She snatches her prize and runs off to the far corner of her cage to enjoy her favorite treat.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Contra Footwear

I created a website years ago that was named Crafts, Cavies and Contras; I filled it with pages of the things that I enjoy.  Rob eventually convinced me to pick up blogging, so I created this blog and transferred the content here.  I hadn't realized when I moved to a blog format that I would rarely write about contra dancing.  It is so much fun, but I have a terrible time describing it to any kind of audience and I'm too busy to take photos.  So contra remains part of the URL, but it tends to be the silent partner.

Then I changed the blog name to include confections, thinking I might write occasional posts about cookies and candies.  I was short sighted:  I got hooked on several food blogs and now write about the all new dishes I've tried, not just sweets.  So I've tweaked the name again.  At least I guessed right with the crafts and the cavies (I promise I will write more guinea pig stories soon).

But I digress...

Half-sole sandals
When I started contra dancing, I soon had issues with overheated feet.  I tried dancing barefoot once, but the blisters convinced me not to do that again.  At NEFFA I discovered a few people wearing small leather sandals, called sandasols (a classification of jazz/lyrical shoes).  I bought my first pair in 2006 and was instantly hooked.  The suede on the ball of my foot allows me to slide and spin, and the bare toes and heels give me traction.  Barefoot, without the blisters.

I get questions about them all the time:  are they comfortable?  (Yes.)  Are they expensive? (Nope - about $15.)  Do they offer any protection when I get stepped on?  (No, but getting stepped on is rare, and shoes don't protect kicks to the ankle or Achilles tendon, which is far more common.)  My most frequent injury is stubbed toes, which wouldn't be so problematic if I stopped trying to occupy the same space as my partner's feet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Maple-Bacon-Cheddar Biscuit Bake

Maple-Bacon-Cheddar Biscuits for two
I have no idea how I stumbled upon this Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake recipe, but I bookmarked it as a good Breakfast Club candidate.  I hadn't planned on modifying it... but you know how I am.  I grabbed some cheddar as I was mixing the dough, thinking it would go well with the sweet glaze.

It's an easy recipe, although I hit one snag:  the middle refused to cook.  It was a combination of misreading the instructions (425F is not the same as 475F) and my misbehaving oven.  I ended up baking it twice as long as instructed.  Regardless, the biscuits must have turned out alright in the end - there wasn't a crumb left by mid-morning.  All of the Breakfast Club members agreed that I must bring this in again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Return to the Jewels

Does anyone even remember that I was working on a quilt?  It's been sitting in the corner since Thanksgiving.  I finally picked it up again in the last week.  And the amazing thing?  I have finished the piecing!  Really!  I am so excited.  Rob chuckled as I did a happy dance.

I still have so much to do.  I need to add borders.  I need to figure out what I'm doing for the back.  And then... I need to quilt the darned thing.

But for now, I'm going to bask in the beauty of what's done.  Just look at that!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Fractious Finches

I got a thistle feeder for Christmas.  It has been an entertaining gift.  I never knew we had so many goldfinches in the area.  There's quite a flock of house finches that live here, but I'd never seen more than a couple goldfinches at once.  Now?  I can see we have bunches of them!  And they are quite a fractious crowd!  This feeder is often packed to capacity with goldfinches shelling seeds as fast as they can and warning off other birds attempting to land.  I am amazing how much seed they go through in a day.  Goldfinches are noisy, too!   They are constantly warbling at each other; it's a pretty sound.

We're snowed in today.  Even with the snow and the wind, all of our feeders are packed. The birds all stand out against the snow, especially the cardinals.  It's too bad my camera refused to take a clear photo of them.  There must be more than fifty birds out there of at least a dozen different species.  There are several birds nestled next to the sliding doors to get out of the wind.