Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Like Thursday: NEFFA

I went to the New England Folk Festival last weekend in Mansfield, MA.  It's held at the middle school and high school - it takes over a good chunk of the campus.  I look forward to this every year for all sorts of reasons.  I logged nearly 40 miles on my fitbit, and at least half of that was from dancing!

I like that I finished adding leather to my new dance sandals in time for the dance.  Then I spent the weekend breaking them in.  Oof.

I like the volunteer work - I trade work for a ticket.  I helped with setup and signs.  It's great to see my handiwork during the event.  Added advantage:  I know where everything is prior to the event.  Win-win!

I like the custodians at the Mansfield schools.  I can't tell you how much these guys make the weekend.  They're always there, wonderfully helpful and always cheerful.  I look forward to seeing them every year.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

When I first saw these cookies, I immediately thought of Do-si-dos.  As a kid, I'd open them up and eat the filling first (or save it for last, because it was the best part of the cookie).  My second thought was - I bet these would be good half dipped in chocolate.  I decided to test that thought.

I had committed to making the recipe before I realized I was low on powdered sugar.  So I made a half batch - which was 19½ sandwich cookies.  Trust me, that half a cookie got the full measure of filling.  Yum!

I don't know if it was because I skimped on sugar or that I used whole wheat flour, but my cookies ended up a whole lot puffier than the ones pictured.  I will need to flatten them a bit, or somehow compensate when I make these again.  It's rather comical - one needs to be able to take a big bite to eat these.  But they rapidly disappeared, so it was a challenge we both accomplished.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Passes Inspection?

I fell in love with this bright blue and green fleece when I purchased fleece for the upper levels.  The light color wasn't good for bedding - it would always look dirty.  However, a half yard needed to come home with me.  After some debate, it became a hammock, a cozy and a fleece forest. 

I haven't made hammocks in ages.  I based this design on a hammock a friend gave the pigs years ago, with some new hooks to try out.  I was pleased by the results but the real test was when I put it in the cage.

What do you think?  That looks to me like the stamp of approval.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ginger Nut Clusters

Years ago my cousin gave me Chocolate (Practical Cooking) as an Easter present.  Several recipes in the book were earmarked to try for candy making.  Uh-huh.  I'm still not sure who the true recipient was of that gift.  Still - I've really liked most of the recipes including one savory stew (yes, with chocolate!).  There are still several recipes I want to try - one of these days I'll get to them.  But I think this one recipe for Ginger Nut Clusters was worth the book.  It was everyone's favorite from the first time we tried it.

On the surface, it's a strange combination:  graham crackers, cashews (we swapped out the original macadamia nuts), candied ginger and white chocolate, dipped in dark chocolate.  There's a lot of different texture and the unexpected zing of the candied ginger.  They're easy to make, and their lumpy asymmetrical shape is pleasing change next to all the round truffles.  I am torn between inhaling these or hording them after Easter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Like Thursday: Baking

I like to bake.  Well, I like cooking in general.  It's a form of creativity and there's a tangible product at the end.  Not only that, most failures are still edible, even if they're not presentable to a larger public.  Plus, the act of baking can be good for you.  Imagine that!

I like cookies.  I tend to do small cookies.  There's less guilt eating one.  The drawback is that often one isn't enough, and suddenly I've eaten five.  On the other hand, small ones are good for sharing at gatherings, especially if I have more than one type of cookie.  My current favorite is Brownie Batter Cookies, followed by Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Rob's favorite is Biscotti.  (Which reminds me - I need to make a batch of those soon.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hay Rack Feedback

I had lots of little fleece scraps that were too small to make cozies or even a hammock.  So I threw together a couple of hay racks based on a design I created last year.  I've liked mine - but I'd like opinions from others.  Do you think your guinea pigs would use a hay rack like this?  Would you be willing to try it out?

I'm looking to trade hay racks for feedback.  I'll send you a hay rack, try it out, then tell me what you and your pigs like/dislike after using it for several weeks.

If you are interested in participating, please pick a color:  yellow, floral, teal or blue/green and eave a comment here or on the Cavymadness Facebook page.  If you leave a comment here, be sure you are not a no-reply blogger or include your email address in the comment.  I'll pick a few people on Tuesday, April 25th and send them out.  Thanks!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Candy Making 2017

No one would guess looking at our kitchen today that 24 hours ago there was chocolate and confections spread across every horizontal surface and most of the utensils and bowls.  There was a constant chatter of conversation, a stack of bowls and spatulas that needed to be washed and used again, plus a pair of guinea pigs that managed to sleep through most of the hubbub.

All signs of a successful day.

My usual candy making crew showed up; we were in full swing by noontime.  The recipe list was most of the usual, too:  butter creams, mint Oreo truffles, peanut butter balls, cookie dough truffles, ginger nut clusters, paves, straw baskets and toffee. 

We had one new addition - pumpkin cheesecake truffles.  I had a half cup of frozen pureed pumpkin I had roasted in November, which was too small for cookie or bread recipes.  As I pondered what to do with it, I rediscovered this Halloween themed recipe I had bookmarked, and rolled it into the Easter lineup.  Everyone really liked these; they've been put on the list for next year.  We dipped the truffles in white chocolate, which was nice, but I bet they'd be good in dark chocolate.  We'll try that next year.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Like Thursday: Spring Cleaning

I had piles of scrap fleece after making new bedding for the guinea pig cage.  Then there's all that fabric I brought home from the Tea.  Heaps all over the sewing room table and chairs.  It needed to go.  I hadn't even finished sewing the label on Confetti when I started cutting fleece.

I like to see scrap fabric become a stack of finished cozies, pig pillows, hay racks and hammocks.  Three different piles of fleece have dwindled to a handful stuffed into a corner of a drawer.  I also got to use some of my quilting stash - fabric I was bored with or that really didn't go with anything else.  So satisfying to use it!

I like the two shopping bags - and finished in time to be handed off on Saturday.  There was very little salmon fabric, so I couldn't do the full swap of bag and handles as I intended.  I kept the blue fabric for handles on the salmon bag since I love the combination.  I dug out my trusty pastel floral print for the blue bag's handles.  Not as stunning, but it works.

I like making mug rugs.  I managed to squeak out four of them from the shopping bag leftovers.  I'll be backing them in the next fabric and binding in the pastel blue.  I hope to have them done by Saturday, too!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Confetti - A Celebration

Confetti was gifted to my cousin's new baby girl on Saturday.  Rob named it - I think it captures the movement and the color so well.  My cousin was thrilled; I hope baby will enjoy it when she gets old enough to notice.  This is one of my bigger baby quilts at 40" x 48".  It's large size should make it versatile over the years. 

I had a different pattern and different fabric picked out for this baby quilt that I just couldn't get to work together.  As often happens with my quilts, it took on a life of its own.  I grabbed a pile of fabric and had my sister help pick colors.  I settled on a wonky block design and started sewing.  I really wasn't sure how it would turn out until I made 30 blocks and placed them on my design floor.  Behold!  Except for a few adjustments on four blocks, they worked well together.  I liked the overall effect.

Randomizing is always more difficult than it sounds.  But stitching them together was easy, since they all cut to the same size.  Sure I groused about some of the blocks, but this quilt was so much easier to assemble than the tree quilt.   Wonderful! 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hiding in Plain Sight

Wedgwood managed to burrow under the little bit of hay there was on the third level.  Not sure how she managed that - I'd have thought that a few  strands like that would just get pushed around.

She thought she was well hidden until I tried to get an overhead shot and caused a pig panic.  Sorry, Wedg.

Later I found her in the tunnel.  Covers her a lot better, although I could find her easily enough.  That tunnel is a favorite, more than any of the cozies.  If it's in the cage, she's usually in it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I Like Thursday: Silly Stuff

I like silly things and there was a variety of foolishness over the weekend.

I like the turkeys in the back yard.  I'm not happy that they're clearing out the bird feeder (or leaving "presents" on the deck).  However, they are entertaining to watch and I can't help but laugh at their antics at the feeder.  At least do less harm to the feeder than the raccoons.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

No, Not Nail Clipping!

Nail clipping.  Everyone's favorite day.


I have a nag message that pops up every two weeks to clip nails, but it often gets ignored another week or three.  I know clipping often keeps the quick short and the nails will not get so curled.  However, no one seems to mind if we're a few weeks late.

In the past, my bad guinea pigs were threatened with the stew pot.  I threaten Boadicea and Wedgwood's bad behavior with nail clipping.  I would say both threats are equally effective... which is to say that they're not.  However, I actually follow through with the promise of nail clipping on occasion.  I had an opportunity to do that on Sunday.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Upper Fleece

geckos and flowers
I recently bought new fleece for the upper levels of Boadicea and Wedgwood's cage.  As usual, they don't match any of the first floor fleeces.  At least they don't clash as much as some combinations.  I'm positive the geckos will be excellent at hiding poo and hay.  The ice blue flowers should blend in with most of the lower level colors.

New fleece is fun, but I am kind of bummed out.  Some of my favorite fleece shrunk or had worn through in spots, even though there was still plenty of nap left.  I retired the teakettles late last year (oh, woe!); I could not quite stretch it over the coroplast to keep it in place.  Today it's the rooster print, which was such a great color.  I've stashed it away as backup (there's barely enough to clip into place), because I'm not ready to part with it.  I bought those back in the day of Pinniped and Bertie.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Yards and Yards

What was I thinking? 

An attendee to Sunday's Tea brought a stack of vintage fabric looking for a home.  I picked out some of it.  A rough measurement after washing it revealed there's over 25 yards of material pictured here.  OMG.  What am I going to do with this stuff?!?

The amazing thing - my claim barely made a dent in the available stash.  There must have been well over 100 yards of fabric in that bag.

I fell in love with the variety of colors.  Most of it is lightweight.  It feels nice, but I'm not sure how good it will be to mix and match with my other fabric.  As I perused the pile at the Tea and thought aloud what I'd make with it, people asked:  can I have that when it's done?  (We do project show-and-tell, too, and everyone wanted to take A Season of Change home with them.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I attended a Tea on Sunday.  I brought both a savory and a sweet dish.  I have no photos of my savory dish (which has now moved from Try Soon to Keeper folder).  The sweet was also a keeper.  It's a lovely gluten-free and dairy free cookie - perfect for a couple of my friends' diet restrictions.  It has great texture (didn't feel gluten free!) and a nice flavor.  I was asked for the recipe. 

I like my cookies slightly undercooked so they're chewy.  I discovered these cookies are naturally soft.  The first tray I took out at 9 minutes.  The cookies were done, but ended up a little sticky.  The second tray went in a full 12 minutes (and could have even gone in a bit longer).  These had better integrity and still weren't too crispy.  The whole batch of cookies flattened quite a bit - next time I'll chill them slightly before baking them.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wonky Mug Rug

I made my first wonky block with a 3" internal square that I decided was smaller than I wanted for the quilt.  Luckily, I had plenty of black and orange fabric, so I recut the block with a larger square.  That left me with two leftover blocks.  I decided to make mug rug with it.

I decided to make just one mug rug, not two.  It's reversible.  Threw in some frankenstein batting, added a darker orange binding and ta-da!  I had a fun time playing with the quilting.  I quilted the orange square with black thread so it shows up on both sides.  It's hard to see in the photos, but I quilted the black square with orange thread, with the same design.  It's neat how the corners of the flowers touch.  Then I quilted the rest, black thread on the orange, orange thread in the bobbin.  So everything is quilted in the opposite color of the fabric.  Fun!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Modern Sacking

One of the things I love about our new camera is it doesn't need fussing.  The only way I could get my old one to produce good photos was to manually adjust the settings.  I'd miss antics - by the time I got everything right, they'd have moved on.  I'm hoping I'll get more candid pig pics.  (I'm liking the food and quilt pics, too, but we know it's all about the pigs.)

I caught Wedgwood seriously enjoying her cozy.  Ooh - little feet sticking out.  Look at that nose.  The grey, white and yellow caught my eye.  It's a popular color combination in modern quilts.  I can see why people like it.  Such fashion sense, Wedgwood!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I Like Thursday: Fabric

I went fabric shopping over the weekend at Ryco's.  They're located in an old mill building in Lincoln, RI.  I forgot  how I stumbled across them in the first place, but I'm glad I did.

I like the people at Ryco.  They're nice people and help me out with whatever I'm working on. 

I like what I purchased!  Aren't they pretty?  I know I've eyeballed the orange scroll fabric before - it was finally at a price I couldn't say no to.  The tea (coffee?) mugs caught my eye.  I seem to be gathering more golds, browns and neutrals in my stash.

I really like the whimsical boats.  I wanted them as a backing on my current quilt (the main reason for my trip).  I was convinced a fishy fabric (not pictured here) went better with the quilt, but I just had to have those boats.  I have no idea what I'll use it in, but it's mine, all mine!

I like ironing.  Crazy, right?  After I wash new fabric, it's soothing to feel the fabric and watch the wrinkles disappear.  Smooth, wonderful stuff - just think what I could do with it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Alas, All Gone

Boadicea and Wedgwood don't realize it yet, but this was the last handful of dried corn husk until the next crop gets harvested.  They've gotten a small handful every night since the summer.  I had a good sized supply... but they have polished it off.

I'm not sure if Wedgwood will notice, but I know Boadi will be bummed for the next few nights.  Spring is around the corner, Boadi.  Just a few more months to fresh corn husk.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wonky Blocks

I had several ideas what I wanted to do for my next quilt before I picked a wonky square block.  I found Hopscotch (by Nancy Mahoney) that had an uncentered square-within-square; it wasn't wonky as much as simply off-center.  Then I found a couple tutorials that the middle piece is neither square nor centered.  These are really wonky. 

Paper practice
I liked the cockeyed blocks best, but I was a nervous about cutting my fabric; some colors I picked had a small amount of yardage.  It's one thing to read a tutorial, it's another to do it!  Instead, I pulled several pieces of paper from the recycle bin, squared and cut them to get a feel for the squares.  I'm glad I did.  I was not happy with my wonky centers - they were too pointed, too much to one side.  I wasn't getting a feel for what to do.  But then, I squared the center piece and twisted it in the center of the outer block.  Aha!  This I liked.  This I could tackle with some confidence.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Wedged in Hay

I'm still stuffing hay into paper bags trying to curb the mess.  I must have overfilled this bag and it was too much to fit both the hay and a pig.  Usually a bag gets nibbled apart, but this one split right down the side.

Wedgwood appeared quite pleased with the result.  She barely moved as I walked by and snapped photos.  She's mostly covered by the bag and must feel pretty secure.  In the bottom picture decided to ignore me and went back to eating what was under her.  What a life!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I Like Thursday: Goodies

Who doesn't look goodies?  Last week I got some great ones. 

There was a bake sale fundraiser at the Rehoboth contra dance.  I scored some of the treats.

I like Cookie Man cookies.  A guy from the dance makes these massive chocolate chip cookies with huge chunks of chocolate and generously sprinkled with flaked salt.  Decadence I never make with my own cookies.  It's always a treat anytime his cookies appear at the dance.  I happily plunked down my money to bring a half dozen of these home from Friday's dance.  I've had to hide them so I didn't eat all of them in one sitting.  Yay for the Cookie Man!

I like these lemon shortbread cookies.  Isn't the icing beautiful?  The colors!  The details!  They'd be too pretty to eat, except I had sampled some of these a couple of weeks ago and I knew how delicious they'd be.  It would be a sin to let them get stale, right?  These were part of a silent auction.  I was excited to have entered the winning bid.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Season of Change

The tree quilt is finished.

OMG, I think I need to repeat that:  the tree quilt is finished.  And the wind died down yesterday long enough to photograph it.

This project lasted so much longer than I anticipated.  Quilting was difficult.  The trapunto was a neat idea, I really like how the leaves look.  However, I'm not sure if it was worth it.  The tree trunk came out a little lumpy (which is okay - what bark isn't a little lumpy?).  I considered quilting in some wood grain to tack it down, and decided that would only draw more attention.

Working around the extra batting certainly complicated things.  I really need a walking foot for my new machine.  I'm sure it would have prevented several of the puckers I had to rip out and restitch.

I was worried the binding would look too stripy, but I'm happy how it turned out.  Adds a bit of interest to the edge without taking over.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Typical Cage Cleaning

Cleaning Boadicea and Wedgwood's cage is pretty straightforward.  Twenty minutes of pulling stuff apart, wiping the cage down, replacing towels and fleece, then reassembling.  And chasing guinea pigs.  No cage cleaning day is complete without herding curious or mischievous pigs.

With the magic of time lapse photography, I seem to do it all in a minute and a half.  It would probably go well with Yakety Sax (especially the pig trains).

I weigh Boadicea and Wedgwood, then let them loose on the floor.  I sweep out most of the loose hay.  Pull out the third and second levels, sweep up and pull out the first floor bedding.  Sweep out the the debris on the coroplast and spray vinegar all over the bottom level.

I pull out my box of clean bedding, pick what I want and change the second level bedding; put the second level back into the cage.  Wipe down the bottom level and a put in a fresh layer of towels.

Chase pigs (because they're hanging out in the living room more than they should be).

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Puffy Pepper-Eating Pig

The last few days, Boadicea has been puffing out when she eats her slice of pepper.  I've seen guinea pigs do this to look foreboding so no one will try to steal their treats.

So puffy!

The vet says Boadi isn't hyperthyroid.  So we still don't know what's up.  She had a sudden drop after bringing her to the vet, but she's gained it all back and a bit more over the last day or two.

I sound like an Italian mother when I walk by the cage: Mangia!  Mangia!

Then I get that look:  I'll finish eating my pepper as soon as you stop taking photos.

So much attitude in such a small package.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Oatmeal Chocolate Ginger Cookies

One of the candies we make for Easter are called ginger nut clusters.  The candied ginger in them can have a kick.  So when I first saw these oatmeal cookies with the candied ginger, I was intrigued.

I made them last weekend.  Even though they have more than a half cup of candied ginger, the cookies are very mellow.  Not at all like the candies.  It's the oatmeal?  Maybe the baking?  Did they need more chocolate?  Not what I expected.  I wasn't sure if I'd keep the recipe when I brought the cookies to a party.  And snap!  just like that they disappeared.

I've taste-tested a few more and decided to keep the recipe.  They're wonderfully chewy, have a nice flavor.  Not the hit I had anticipated, but they're interesting.  A few things:  I used Ghirardelli chocolate chips which are big; I should have chopped them a bit so they were more evenly distributed in the cookies.  And I don't care, I'm adding more than ⅓ cup of chocolate next time, too!  Some of the candied ginger clumped together; I'll have to make sure they're broken apart.  Lastly, the original recipe had several different options for baking the cookies.  I will definitely chill them first, because I like fatter cookies.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Look What I Got!

I am so lucky to have friends that know and love me.  This calendar was handed to me as I lined up for a contra dance last Friday night.  My dance partner, whom I had just met, looked amused as I did a happy little jig and hugged my friend.

I spent some time Saturday morning transferring appointments from my old, boring calendar.  I get pretty piggies on my wall for the rest of the year.  What fun!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Promised Road Trip

Boadicea recovers (hay and napping) from an exciting morning
I haven't heard any crying from Boadicea in over a month, which has been wonderful.  But the slow weight loss continued.  I threatened Boadi that if she dipped below 950g, we'd be taking a trip to The Mean Lady.  (My vet is a wonderful woman, but we figure the pigs may not hold her in such high esteem.)

Two days in a row Boadi dipped into the 940s and true to my promise, we visited the vet yesterday.  I also informed Wedgwood she'd get squeezes from the vet techs, who were happy to oblige. 

It was a jam packed morning.  Boadicea was weighed and examined - I even had a hand in it, as the vet instructed me how to feel Boadi's lumpy thyroid.  Oh, not another thyroid pig!  She does not present classic hyperthyroid symptoms, but I know thyroid diseases shows up in all sorts of conflicting ways.  I was astonished to feel her thyroid.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I Like Thursday: The Neighborhood

I've lived in suburbia most of my life.  Some places have been a bit more citified, Rehoboth is a lot more rural.  I like walking and biking in this area, although I miss sidewalks from time to time.  There's a lot of crazy drivers on these winding roads.  But this is supposed to be about what I like....

I like the big sky.  At least that's what I call it.  Previous neighborhoods I've lived in were hemmed in with trees or houses.  Our current residence is on the edge of a large wooded lot, but as I head west, I'm greeted with a big wide open area.  And I get hit with the sky.  It's awesome. 

I like the horses.  And goats.  And cows.  And the occasional chicken.  Have I mentioned it's a somewhat rural area?  Rehoboth is a Right to Farm community - and a lot of people do.  The cows live not even a quarter mile down the road.  They watch me intently as I walk by.  A half mile further there's a pair of horses and a trio of goats I see several times a week.  I say "hi" as I pass by.  I know of a half dozen locals that have chickens (fresh eggs!).  There's a horse farm and riding stables nearby, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Dry erase designs
It was a learning weekend.  Did I accomplish anything?  Hard to say, since I spent way more time undoing or fixing my work than actually working.  Frustrating.  Discouraging.  But there's no permanent damage; I think I have a new and better plan of how quilt.

First was my really stupid mistake.  I've been reading about using dry erase markers on plastic/acrylic to work out quilting designs.  Many articles described taping the edge of the plastic with a dark or bright color, so you know where to stop drawing.  Why would I do that?  I can clearly see where the plastic stops.  That worked so well... right until I was so focused on the feel of the design that whoops!  there went the pen right off the edge.  At least I had been smart enough to buy a washable dry erase marker.  Plus the color wasn't too different than the fabric I a marked.  So I've learned my lesson - all of my plastic will be edged in hot pink duct tape before I put it near any fabric again!  Ugh.

I also learned that washable dry erase markers aren't that washable.  I roughed up the fabric a bit getting it all out.  But unless I point out where I wrote on the fabric, it's not noticeable.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Two Loafy Loaves

This is what Monday afternoon looked like.  I was pretty amazed to see the two of them sleeping so close to each other.  Of course there was a hay buffer.

Boadicea's tilt towards the ramp is pretty impressive, too.

Such loafiness!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

An Unexpected Bloom

The tree is coming along.  All the leaves are sewn on and the background cut it to size.  I am thinking about how to quilt it and trying out bindings.  I had a binding fabric all picked out until I discovered it's a stretch fabric.  I was so surprised!  This was some of the beautiful fabric my mother gave me.  Turns out they both are stretch, even though they initially felt like a weave.  I'm hesitant to use it, since I don't know how it will wear.  So I'm playing with other fabrics for the edge.

I picked a dark grey (upper right), an interesting blue-green-grey mosaic (middle right) and a medium dark blue (left).  The mosaic has a tight repeating pattern, which you can't really see in this photo, in part because I folded it on the diagonal in an effort to make it not stand out so much.  I don't like it close up, but when I step away (or in this photo), it's my favorite of the three.  Looks better from a distance.

The 3D leaf idea from my last post stuck in my head.  The tree  has one falling leaf - the new plan is to tack on the leaf after I finish the quilting.  The leaf itself is really cool looking and it's surprisingly poseable.  I'm guessing all of the individual threads allow it to hold it's shape.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What a Racket!

Wedgwood has a habit of rattling the water bottle as it starts to get low.  Which is perfect if I've forgotten to refill it.  She rattles it a certain way; the mostly empty bottle has a distinct sound.

But on Wednesday morning I heard another kind of clunk.  I came over to find Wedgwood worrying a full water bottle.  I had filled it just the night before.  The end of the water bottle was flat against the side of the cage, so I thought she was trying to get to the water.  I turned the water bottle, walked away.  Five minutes later I hear <rattle> <rattle> <rattle>.

I walk over to investigate.  Sure enough, the bottle is all turned around and Wedgie is chewing on the side of the tube.  What's up little pig?  I turn the bottle around and walk away.  <clunk> <clunk> <clunk>

At this point, I'm suspicious.  So now I grab the camera and start filming.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Like Thursday: Dancing

Dancing a hambo with Cliff (photo by Carol M. Ansel)
I like dancing.  There's something awesome that happens when you mix movement with music.  I learned square dancing as a kid.  I've taken ballroom and tango lessons, attended English and Cajun dances, and have been to a cotillion or two.  I'm not afraid to boogie at weddings, have dabbled with belly dancing, and love when they have the drummers at Kripalu.

My regular dancing fix comes from contra dancing.  It's one of my favorite kinds of dancing - so I'm using it as examples of what I like about dancing.

I like the music.  Contra dancing has live music, which can often be worth the price of admission by itself.  There's a lot of traditional songs, but there's many bands that have developed their own sound (or even use popular meme music - see video).  Often there's a fiddle, a guitar, a piano.  But some have drums, bass, button boxes, a didgeridoo, sound effects.  It's amazing how much sound can come from as little as two to three people jamming on stage.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Leafy Progress

I'm sewing.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me.  It's been over a month since I've sat at my sewing machine.

There was a bit of a delay this weekend.  I fussed over my machine:  cleaned and oiled it, then repainted the stitch length numbers on the plate.  I was tired of looking for the flashlight every time I needed to adjust the stitches.  See those numbers?  Now I can, too.  What a wondrous thing!

I also spent a bit time cleaning out and refilling a little old oil dropper.  Much more precise than the bottle my Singer oil came in.  I actually oiled what I was supposed to.  What a concept!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Everyone's Favorite

Cage cleaning day!  That's always such a good time.  Boadicea and Wedgwood get weighed, then are let out on the floor.  It doesn't take them long to start exploring the living room, hiding under the couch where they don't belong.  Half my cage cleaning time is spent herding them back into the kitchen.

Then, when the cage is all re-fleeced, it must be thoroughly inspected.  All that running around on the floor and the cage takes a lot of energy.  I end up with two very weary pigs.

The green sack was a popular spot to rest up.  Boadicea claimed it first and was out cold for a while.  Wedgie eventually got her turn; she slept on it for the late afternoon then in it for the evening.

Whew!  Cage cleaning day is a lot of hard work.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Bark, Bark!

Yeah, I know.  This looks exactly like a photo I posted nearly a month ago.  But I promise it's not.  There's more leaves.  But more importantly, I finally picked a tree color and cut the tree.  My big dilemma is whether to stitch witchery the bark edges down first (which means going and buying some first), or just pin the hell out of it and get going.

I'm also now considering adding trapunto - maybe to the tree itself, or the leaves?  I guess I need to get the stuff stitched down first before I start adding complications.

My weekend is free; I'm excited to sew again.  In addition to this project, I've picked a pattern for a baby quilt - I'm starting to pick colors for that.  It's been too long since I've sat at my sewing machine and created. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Snowy Respite

It was snowing as I started writing this.  It makes everything quieter - in part because the snow muffles, and in part because there's less traffic on the road.  The birds are busy.  They've descended on all my feeders.  I just topped off my window feeders to keep them happy.  Nuthatches are being goofy.  Cardinals are quarrelsome, attempting to keep the big feeder to themselves.

But there is peace, even if it's just here, in my back yard, for the afternoon.  I need this so much.

Why?  I am generally not a sensitive person (heck, I'm known to be blunt and occasionally tactless).  I enjoy my diverse set of Facebook friends:  young and old, conservative and liberal, from school, childhood, dancing, guinea pigs, work, from different parts of the country.  I read their differing opinions, noting what they find funny or important.  It lets me think and consider different points of view.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I Like Thursday: Guinea Pigs

If you've read my blog at all, you know that I like guinea pigs.  (If you haven't, you'll figure it out from all the links and videos I have in this post!)

My mom was allergic to cats; Dad disliked dogs.  So I was never going to have a "normal" pet when I was a kid.  The pocket pets were all cute and I thought rabbits were neat - but guinea pigs talk to you.  It was the first thing I liked about guinea pigs, and from that point I was sold.

I like that they have conversations.  Boy, can they talk!  They burble, they complain, they speak their mind.  Eclair once told the entire vet's office at the top of her lungs that she was being manhandled and it wasn't to her liking.  Here's a few of the sounds I've captured over the years:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Snow Ball

My legs are still stiff from dancing the better part of eight hours straight on Saturday.  I can't believe my poor old half-sole shoes survived.  Whee!

I think it's been five years since I last attended the Peterborough Snow Ball.  It's a marathon contra dance - 12 hours of live music and dancing split between four callers and bands.  I made it through three of them (callers/bands, not hours) before my feet gave out (I got kicked and stepped on in the last set - an unfortunate combination of others' enthusiasm and my inability to move out of the way).  My pedometer clocked over six miles and it's notorious for not tracking dancing very well.  I'm figuring I covered at least twice that distance.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Nothing but Nose

I have a lot of short-strand hay, which doesn't stay put in the hay racks.  However, it's great for stuffing handfuls into a paper lunch bag.  Such happiness!  I've lost sight of Wedgwood twice now (OMG, she's not in the cage - where is she?!?!) to discover her buried in the paper bag.  She actually fits!  I'm amazed.

Wedgwood focuses on the hay, but Boadicea enjoys punching holes in the bag.  Then I walked by the cage to discover Wedgie out in the open, but no Boadi.  Where could she be?

Wait - is that a nose?

While I'm talking about Boadicea, how about a health update?  The crying and spotting have stopped.  It's been days since I've heard a whimper.  Before that, it had been less frequent, happening only once every day or two.  While doing a food journal for her, I suspected the pain was gut related.  On a whim I started giving her some of my daily probiotic.  Either that did the trick, or perhaps it was an illness that she got over.  Either way, I hope I haven't jinxed myself (and her).  I'm just glad she's feeling better.

She's lost a bit of weight, but is still heavier than when we adopted her.  I'm still getting used to seeing the scale under 1kg.  As long as she stays this weight and keeps her loafy figure, it's all good.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Footwear Upgrades

Quilting has been on hold as I work on some other projects.

I have a pair of rag wool socks I wear around the house.  I love them, but they're finally starting to fall apart, even after adding leather to the bottoms.

I found a beautiful a pair of hand knit ankle socks on Etsy.  Not wanting to wear out the toes and heels of these, I spent some time adding leather bottoms.  They're really comfy - I hope to have them for a long time.

Monday, January 16, 2017


A new box of hay arrived earlier in the month.  The top part of the box has lots of short-strand hay, which easily pops out of the hay rack and hay-band I use.  Boadicea and Wedgwood have been dumping the hay all over the top level of the cage.  (It sometimes accumulates on the second level as well.)

It's a mess, but I'm the only one that has a problem with it.  I found Wedgwood happily ensconced in the middle of the pile.  In fact, it looks like she tried to bury herself in it.  Ah, if only it was a deeper pile.

Wedgwood was so happy and relaxed at where she was, she didn't even blink as I hovered over her to snap photos. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Purple Presents

I never know what I'll come home with whenever I meet up with family.  It can be food, books, newspaper clippings.  I'm often giving them stuff, too.  (There's a table near the front door that often holds an item or two awaiting the next get-together.)  In December I attended the family Cookie Party anticipating bags of cookies, but that's not all I ended up with.  Bonus!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Casserole Clasp

I made a casserole carrier for myself several years ago.  Love it.  It was designed for a 9x13" pan but my 10" springform pan fits great, too.  The carrier gets a fair amount of use.  I've been using a twist-tie to keep it closed.  It's does the trick, but I wanted something a little stronger and a little prettier.

So I made myself a closure from a bit of fabric, a scrap of batting and a snap.  It slips through one handle and remains attached to that.  To secure the cozy, the end wraps around the other handle and snaps to itself.  I have instructions on making the casserole cozy - this post is to go with it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Out on a Limb

I'm starting to lay out my next project - an applique tree.  I have a bunch of the leaves ready to go, but I'm struggling with the tree itself.  First one was too small.  This one is too big.  At least I have a ton of brown packing paper to cut up to see what I like.  I decided the original color I wanted for the bark is too red.  I love the fabric, but it's not going to work.  So I'm down to a coffee brown or an orangy brown.  (I have them both on the trunk.)  I'm hoping there's enough of whichever I pick to be able to cut the trunk and branches all as one piece.

I see a lot more drawing and cutting in my future before I get to sew.

Sharing with Linky Tuesday and Scraptastic Tuesday.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Veggie Wine Charms

I kept the gold tone memory wire and made another set of wine charms.  This time, it's vegetables.  I'm sure the pigs would approve:  eggplant, bell peppers, pea pods, carrots, lettuce and corn.

My first ear of corn was too small, but I should have stuck with it - it grows once the husk gets added.  I like the bell peppers because they're so colorful.  Hard to say which is my favorite.  I really like how the set turned out!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I Like Thursday: The Tea Edition

I've been loving (liking?) the I Like Thursday posts over at Not Afraid of Color.  Every week I read them and think:  I need to do this.  But there's so much other stuff I'm doing.  Besides, what would I write about?  I sat there, mug of tea at hand... admiring my mug... and suddenly this post pretty much wrote itself.

1.  I like my guinea pig mug.  I happened upon a crazy sale for a design-it-yourself 15oz mug (less than $10, including shipping).  I selected a handful of guinea pig photos and voila!  One of my favorite mugs.

2.  I like (and cherish) my teacups.  I inherited most of them from my grandmother.  She'd be so happy that I am using them.  One has cracked so I can't use it anymore, another mysteriously broke.  I've been given a few more as word gets out about my collection.  Many of the cups have stories - where they came from, why they were bought.  Always a pleasure to use when I host a tea.

3.  I like my loose leaf tea from Virtuous Teas.  It's a great little hole-in-the-wall shop and the staff are always so nice.  I received a gift certificate to this place nearly 20 years ago - and have been going there ever since.  I've moved further away, so I don't get to visit so often; I buy online.