Monday, April 28, 2014

Brown Bear Magnet Giveaway

I've recently pulled out my Sculpey to repair a name tag and make earrings.  I want to make more magnets and figurines (I've been inspired by Pinterest items a friend sends me).  However, I don't know what to do with them after I make them!  My refrigerator is covered in magnets I've created and I know my friends and family have at least one or two.

For now I am clearing out whatever pieces I had not made for specific people.  This little brown bear magnet needs a home.  Would you like him on your fridge?  To enter:  leave a comment on here, on Google+ or email me.  Please be sure I can contact you!  This drawing closes on Friday, May 2nd at 12pm EDT.  The winner is Connie!  I hope you enjoy the magnet.

Linking up with Linky Tuesday.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Guinea Pig Pain

Writing about a sick guinea pig isn't fun.  I am sure it's not uplifting reading, either, but I hope this is informative.

A somewhat puffy Pinni
It has been said, again and again, that guinea pigs are masters at hiding illnesses.  They can be stoic little creatures when they want to be.  Pain and illness can show up in some odd ways; not all of them are obvious.

First, there is the classic puffy-corner-sitting.  This behavior is the easiest to observe and understand.  I've seen this with Victoria, Willow, Bertie and Pinniped.  They'll huddle into a corner of their cage, nose pressed into the corner, curled into a ball and fur puff out.  It would be cute, if they didn't look so darned miserable doing it.  Willow and Bertie did this in the open and in cozies and cuddle cups, too.  My pigs gravitated towards any spot that they felt somewhat removed from everything else around them.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fleece Hay Rack

I moved the vertical hay rack to the second floor several months ago.  I wanted to encourage Cannoli to use the upper levels.  Besides, the rack was easier to fill and I can easily reach any hay that falls out behind the cage.  But as Pinniped is feeling poorly, I didn't want to force her to go up to the second level to graze. 

I had been using toilet paper tubes stuffed with hay on the first floor.  This was messy, because Pinni would snip the cardboard tube and then spread hay all over the place.  Ew - wet hay.  I wanted a rack to keep the hay off the ground, but not so high that Pinni and Cannoli needed to stand up to reach most of the hay.  I didn't want to make another coroplast hay rack like Bertie's rack.  Pinni has a tendency to munch on coroplast when she's not feeling well.  With all this in mind, I created this odd-looking fleece hay rack.

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!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

On the Edge

Guinea pigs can be so strange.  I've had a few that have this thing about perching on the edge of a drop-off.  One of Pinniped's favorite places to sit is on the third level, right next to the ramp and as close the non-gridded section as she can get.  I'm surprised she hasn't rolled down the ramp.  Don't you think she'd be more comfortable a bit further back?

Seeing Pinni on the edge of the third level reminded me how Bertie perched atop the hidey house.  She was unhappy when I parted her from her beloved hay rack.   When I first blocked access to hay rack, Bertie would sit on the very edge of the stool.  It was as close to the hay rack as she could get without being in it.  It looked like she was half over the side of the stool; I wondered how she balanced like that.

What a disapproving look!

Pinniped sits on the edge because she appears to enjoy it.  I think it's also to draw attention -- how can you walk by that pig without an urge to feed it?  In contrast, I think Bertie's perching was in protest over the hay rack and an effort to get the same view as the hay rack offered. 

Do you have guinea pigs that enjoy precarious perches?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pignic Central

I have in my hand the promise of warmer weather:  the Boston Spring Pignic permit.  It's so nice to dream of warm breezes and green grass after this long cold winter.

In addition to organizing the Boston Pignic, I am one of the administrators of Pignic Central on Facebook.  The page was created as a place to announce upcoming pignics, wherever they may be.  Some pignics we find on our own, others are posted when the organizers contact us.  Pignic Central does not create or host pignics, although the administrators will answer questions to help people start up their own pignic.

The majority of pignics posted on Pignic Central are held in the USA.  I know of a regular pignic in Australia and have heard of one in Canada.  Many are organized by guinea pig rescues, which can draw lots of people and guinea pigs.  Others are very small, attended by a few people in someone's back yard.  Most pignics are held outdoors at local parks.  There was even an indoor pignic held in Boston one year, where guinea pigs hung out in fleece-lined pens.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guinea Pig Earrings

I made a pair of guinea pig earrings this weekend.  Years ago I bought studs to make my own Sculpey earrings, but was never inspired.  Then I saw a pair on Etsy (she has a variety of cute animals) and decided to make my own.

The guinea pigs themselves weren't difficult to make.  I've done variations of dangling guinea pigs on Christmas ornaments, so I was familiar with the basics.  Adding the post and backing were tricky.  The clay was soft and deformed easily.  I needed to do all of the pieces separately.  I was unsure how they'd look altogether until they'd been baked and I could assemble them.

I'm pleased with the results.  Aren't they cute?  I have a few more studs - I may have to make a few more.

I am linking up to Linky Tuesday.  It's so exciting to see my String Theory quilt top is featured on today's Linky post!