Saturday, August 27, 2011

CSA Chili

I was amazed what I brought home from the Moosehill CSA this week: 3 ears of corn, half a melon, a zucchini, an eggplant, cherry tomatoes, 6 huge tomatoes, a bunch of mizuna, a hot pepper, 2 bell peppers and some other sweet pepper, carrots, beets, cucumbers.  Did I remember everything?  And that's only my half of a half-share!  I even managed to snag a few small tomatoes for the guinea pigs out of the "seconds" bin.  They're happy I thought of them.

It weighed a ton.  I picked up the entire half-share and needed to go back to the car for another bag because it didn't all fit in one.  And they are not small shopping bags!

What to do with all that produce?  Make veggie chili, of course.  My last attempt was at chili was passable; I switched recipes this time.  Much better.  I pulled this one from The New Basics Cookbook.  I swapped in eggplant for zucchini and added the hot pepper, but otherwise followed the recipe.  Definitely a keeper.

What do you do with your bumper crop bounty?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Breakfast Time

Ah, the morning routine.  My ritual consists of rolling out of bed, coming down the stairs and listening for ka-thumping* and/or wheeking from the other room.  I head to the fridge and call out "Who wants breakfast?"  This is usually followed by more ka-thumping as Pinni leaps down from the upper levels of the cage, more wheeking, and if Willow is impatient, bar chewing.  Bad pig.  I rattle around in the veggie drawer and pull out swiss chard.  Breakfast!

I eat my cereal; the girls polish off the chard and tell me that I'm late with their bell pepper.  It's pretty much the same every work-day morning.  I tell them they're begging fiends and they agree.

Last week's CSA veggies included a small handful of swiss chard.  Chard is not one of my favorites, so the girls lucked out and had some of those little leaves for breakfast.  I had to laugh when Willow grabbed the stem and ate the whole leaf, without a break, from one end to the other.  I am rather pleased to have caught it on video:

It took her a full minute and a half to eat that whole leaf from tip to tip and finish swallowing.  She gave herself a quick shake to snap out of her trance before going after the next piece.  Nom! 

* ka-thumping is a technical term for the sounds clearly heard at 0:23-0:25 in Clean Fleece Happy Dance.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Splish Splash

Pool Party!
I spent several weeks this summer sitting on the couch watching the wildlife in our back yard (mono will do that to you).  There were birds and chipmunks at the bird feeder and my guinea pigs grazing in the grass.

On a particularly hot day in August, I had noticed some of the birds under the feeder were panting from the heat.  They looked so distressed that I grabbed a shallow styrofoam tray and filled it with water for them to use.  And then we wondered:  why no have a real bird bath back there?  We have a wonderful view from our living room; the birds are always entertaining.

Chillin' mourning dove

I bought a large plastic planter-tray and put it on the patio table.  The birds seem to be loving it.  The blue jays discovered it first, just for a sip of water.  I found a mourning dove lounging in it a few days later, not  a care in the world.  Most birds just stop briefly at the bird bath.

The sparrows are another story.  These guys get together and have a serious pool party.  It's amazing how much water they displace.  Of course, it's impressive how many birds they stuff into that bird bath!  I think there's ten of them in there at one point?  Woo hoo!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Guinea Pig Hammocks

I replaced the hidey house in Bertie and Pinni's cage with a hammock last year, in part to keep Bertie out of the hay rack.  The girls regarded the hammock with suspicion for a few weeks before setting foot in it, but now, it's hard to keep them out of it.  Willow, of course, is an old pro with hammocks and has been sacking out in them for years.  So with two cages to furnish, I don't always have enough clean hammocks for every pig to use.  Time to make some more!

I have yards of fleece on hand at the moment, so I decided to make these with fleece on both sides so that they're reversible.  The hammocks I've made in the past have cotton fabric on one side and fleece on the other.

Friday, August 19, 2011

More Bertie Badness

Bertie has been a pit since she came back from the vet.  Her weight continues to fluctuate.  I thought it might be due to the bactrim, but she was on a low dose and I've never had a pig have issues taking it.  However, when she hit 917g last week, I started hand feeding her Critical Care.  Amazingly, she took it.  Not with the gusto of Willow or Pinni, but she ate it without requiring me to pin her down first.  However, that only lasted for a day or two.  Now it's a struggle to get more than a ml or two into her.  Bad pig!

She's up to 958g today.  Still a long ways from the minimum 1030g I want her to be at.  I really don't want to call the vet and haul her in again, especially since we really don't know what's wrong with her.

At least she was taking her meds like a good girl:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Casserole Carrier

I made a casserole carrier for a friend of mine several years ago.  I stumbled across the pattern while organizing my sewing shelf and decided I needed to make one of these for myself.

My attempt at meandering quilting
In typical Sally style, I didn't follow the instructions precisely.  I take the attitude that they're "more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules."  I decided to add some patchwork blocks to the design and stitch the handles slightly different than the original (because I thought the handles were too far apart).  Why use Teflon-coated quilted fabric when I can make my own with Insul-Bright?  I used whatever material  I had on hand, which wasn't quite enough, so I had to get creative.  In addition I wanted to try stipple/meander quilting part of it, which is more challenging that the stitch-in-the-ditch that I normally do.

In other words, I took a simple set of instructions and added lots of complications.  I am rather pleased with the results.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cloth Journal Cover

I keep a journal - remnants of a 5th grade writing assignment, if you can believe that.  My journals span two dozen-ish books and there are gaps of several years.  The nuns would be horrified at my penmanship; I can barely read some of my entries.  But how often do you hand-write anything these days?  Still, I love the way that pen-on-paper feels, so I still write in my journal. 

I find it difficult to locate a new book that I will enjoy writing in when I have finished with the old: it needs to be fairly narrow ruled, a binding that opens flat, not too thick, but not so few pages I'll be done with it in a year, it needs to have a cover I like.  And generally, it needs to be inexpensive.  It's not an easy combination to find.

I recently bought a refill journal that matched all of my requirements, except I don't have a cover that requires a refill.  Coolness!  An excuse to sew something.  I had the perfect material on hand, too:  some tea-themed fabric for a table runner that never quite materialized.  I Googled some instructions and cobbled together a pattern.

I am satisfied with the end result.  It overhangs on the ends a little more than I'd like, but when I stitched it a little more snug, it was nearly impossible to get the journal into or out of it.  I guess if I made it a permanent cover, it would be fine.  The trick might be to make it all a little bigger and put cardboard in the sleeves so it would be more like a hard-cover jacket for a soft-covered journal.  We'll see how this one works.  This pattern would be easy enough to modify and make another!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pinniped Performances

How can you not squeeze that?!?
Pinniped is such a drama queen.  Unfortunately for her, she is hassled a lot for it.  When she is picked up she wails "Woe is me!"  You can hear her clearly a room or two away.  Sometimes it's indignant:  "Unhand me, you brute!"  And occasionally, if you manage to nab her while she's sleeping, it's just a squeak of surprise.

She's such a fatso; its the primary reason she gets picked up.  One feels the overwhelming need to squeeze those love handles.  Even the vet squeezed and wuzzed her the first time she met Pinni.  You just can't help it!  Pinni complains bitterly about the attention.  Is it wrong to to feel schadenfreude at a guinea pig's expense?

The double-wide
Pinni deserves the provocation more often than not.  She uses her hefty size to intimidate Willow.  She tries it on Bertie, too, but Bertie will only take so much before she'll tell Pinni right where she can go.  Willow will cry and get out of the way when Pinni picks on her.  But every so often, Willow knows if she sits and cries long enough, I'll swoop in and remove Pinni.  But what did I do, Mom?!?  Bad pig.

Along with the rolls of fat you need to squeeze, Pinni also has a non-stop nose.  From the very first moment I held her at the animal shelter, that nose was checking things out.  It pokes through the bars of the cage.  It waves in the air when she's being held.  It explores everywhere when you try to sit with her.  And lately, it sticks in and out of the cozy when we bring her in from an excursion outdoors, much to our amusement.

Bertie is our goofy little star-toed clown, but Pinni makes us laugh without even trying.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Canvas Runner

I can sew and make my Sculpey ornaments, but drawing/painting has never been my strong suit.  My sister, Pamela, inherited the that talent.  She does some amazing stuff with watercolors.  I own several of her paintings.  She also works with oils, acrylics and lately, paper.  I know - not really painting - but check out this card she sent to me last month.  All bits of paper.  I don't think I could do that!  It's pretty cool. (Kripalu chicks -- recognize it?)

Much of Pamela's work is framed watercolors and cards, but she has done some larger pieces - murals and a few canvas rugs/floor coverings.  The rugs are made from sheets of painter's canvas, painted and the coated with polyurethane. 

This summer, she had been working on a hall runner that was commissioned by an aunt.  She unveiled her work at our family reunion this weekend.  Pam had described it to me, but her description didn't do it justice.  I think the colors are striking;  the faux marble in the middle looks so neat.  My favorite part was the gold and red diamonds around the edge - I think they just pop.  And the fleur-de-lis just make it look so royal.  She does beautiful work!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bertie's Teeth

Bertie returned to Windhover Vet today to get her teeth filed down (called a "float").  I dropped her off at 8:30am.  She hid in her cozy most of the drive up there and seemed considerably calmer than last week's trip.  I, however, was not.  I hate leaving a pig for any kind of procedure.  I can get terribly anxious until I get the call from the vet, which usually isn't until 3pm or so.  <sigh>

I'm not coming out.
Bertie was the first surgery of the day, so I got the call at lunchtime.  Yay!  The vet said Bertie was awake and in recovery.  Turns out, the right side of her teeth were more overgrown than the left (at First Visit to the Vet we thought the problem was with the left side).  She had both sides filed a bit.  The vet also got a good urine sample, which showed signs of infection.

We picked Bertie up at 4pm.  She hid in her cozy the whole way home.  I thought it was because she wasn't feeling well.  Bad guess.  I found out when I got her home and tried to extract her from the cozy it was because she was entirely freaked out.  Poor Bertie.  I didn't know she could grab onto the sides of the cozy with such force!  When I got her out, she darted into the corner of the cage and did the "I'm scared" sounds.

I'm scared, Mom.
I put them all outside shortly afterwards.  She really likes being outside, so I thought this would make her feel better.  Bertie immediately started eating grass. This was great, since the vet said she was not eating her hay in the recovery.

So, the healing process begins. A few days of antibiotics should help if the bladder issues is causing her not to eat.  Plus the teeth are in better shape than they were when she came in.  Come on, Bertie.  It's time to get fat again.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Beach Bums

I had a last-minute request to post the August photo for the CavyMadness Facebook page.  I don't tend to do seasonal photos of my girls.  The Christmas card shoot is enough staging and work to satisfy us all for a whole year.  But I needed something warm and summery.  Something that would capture the hot sunny days of August.

I had just returned from a weekend at the Cape, so I had the beach on my brain.  Pigs on the sea shore?  Sure!  I could do that.

I nabbed a few shovels from the cottage, dug through my old shell collection and made a quick backdrop (to show off my stunning artistic talent with crayons).  I found a stripy towel, added some pigs and voila!  I have Bertie and Pinni at the beach.  I was amazed I got any decent shots considering they were from my little camera and without the flash (since I didn't want red-eye). 

Pinniped is trying very hard in the first photo to look like a well-fed seal.  Just look at the width of that pig!  Black is slimming?  <snirk>  I don't think so.  Pinni looks a bit more svelte in her solo photo.  I think she was holding her breath.

Bertie's solo photo ended up being the best of the bunch; I selected it as the August photo.  That's right, Bertie - pout at the camera.  What a ham.

The whole thing, done in 30 minutes, with less than 60 shots.  Why isn't the Christmas shoot like this?!?