Thursday, January 31, 2013

Home Base

 Athena and Vicky's home base, with hay and water
Willow and Pippin's home base; the current home base setup
Many people ask - can you litter train your guinea pigs?  I usually answer:  they'll train themselves if they want to.  At least that's been my experience in dealing with my guinea pigs.  I haven't made any attempt of training them in their cage, but for floor time I try to encourage my pigs to limit the peeing and the pooping to one spot.  I call this place Home Base.

The original home base came about as a shallow cardboard box, a well worn towel and was situated under an old hot-water radiator.  It was a perfect place to hide out, and the young pigs I had loved to spend their time under there while they weren't off exploring the kitchen, the laundry room and the family room.  There were accidents if they managed to get under the couch and hide there for any length of time, but otherwise, I let them roam a large portion of the house without worries.  Even after we moved to a new house, and home base wasn't nearly as warm and cozy, Eclair and Teddi still knew to stick with that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peanut Butter

I was noisy the other night.  Or at least that's what I was told.  I had read an article on Lifehacker a couple of months ago about DIY peanut butter and decided to give it a try.  It really was as easy as they described: dump peanuts into a food processor and run it for five minutes or so.  I probably could have processed it a bit longer - it wasn't super creamy smooth.  That works out fine, though, since I like my peanut butter with texture.

My food processor is one of those little hand-held things, so I'll be sticking with small batches.  But that's probably a good thing.  I will have to start experimenting with flavors or maybe different nuts.  Hmmm.... cashew butter or almond butter may be next on my list.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Pinni does her eggplant impression
We're all still adjusting to Bertie's absence.  Pinniped had been moved to the living room for a few weeks to make sure she wasn't lonely.  As a byproduct, she was getting a lot of lap time.  I'm not sure how fond she was of all of the attention.  Pinni's a very wriggly pig.  She also tends to be rather leaky - she can make it barely 10 minutes before she needs to pee.

Pinni was moved back to the pig room last week.  Happy pig.  She popcorned around the clean cage and seemed much more relaxed than she did in the living room.  She's still getting daily snuggles, which she is learning to tolerate.  I think she's decided that the reward of tomato and melon makes the kisses and squeezes worthwhile.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bunch of Baking

Oatmeal bread with Pumpkin Butter.  Yum!
I've tried out several new recipes lately, that have required me to fire up the oven.  It's prefect with the colder weather we've been having.  Initially, I was aiming to replenish my goodies supply (there should always be cookies in the freezer).  I made a variation of my Snickerdoodles recipe (with chai spice) and then tried a new cookie (its name is too dang long - I'm now calling them Confetti Cookies).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Where the Egg Ends Up

I've been putting the egg-cersizer in the cage a few times a week and it gets batted around like a soccer ball.  Bertie and Pinniped would immediately face off like opposing teams.  Even now, Pinni comes running over and noses it over as soon as I place it on the floor.

What I find entertaining is where the egg-cersizer winds up at the end of the day.  After it's emptied, I find it stuffed in a corner or wedged behind the brick under the water bottle.  My favorite is the one time it was slam-dunked into the nearly-empty food dish.  How did they manage that? 

Once the girls wedge it into these spots could they ever get the egg out again?  The spot behind the water bottle isn't very accessible.  The egg-cersizer is usually empty when I find it in jammed in a corner, so there's not a whole lot of motivation to dig it out.  Was it tucked out of the way on purpose?  Perhaps they were putting their toy away, the game having ended when it ran out of cranberries.  I suspect it's sheer luck that it gets wedged in these spots after it's empty.  On the other hand, knowing guinea pigs, it's more likely a message for me to refill it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cranberry-Pistachio-Chocolate Cookies

I was digging through my cookbook shelf a couple of weeks ago and found a few untried recipes on scraps of paper jammed between the books.  I'm pretty sure a friend gave me this recipe.  These are festive looking cookies with confetti bits of green and red and brown.  I'm sure with those colors they'd be great for Christmas.

I'm not fond of making slice cookies because they never come out as round as they should (although no one complains of my oval date-filled cookies).  These held their shape pretty well when cut, but all of the nuts and chips caused some of the cookies to split.  Um... not that I'm complaining:  I love lots of junk in my cookies.  The baked cookies were very pale; they did not brown as I expected.  However, they have good texture and are tasty, which is probably why I saved the recipe in the first place!  I'll be adding this to my cookie cookbook.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tunnel Turnover

I keep the guinea pigs' cage stocked with a few cozies and cuddle cups.  I usually put their tunnel on the second level, since that area gets a lot of through-traffic and a tunnel doesn't disrupt the flow like a dead-end cozy.  Bertie disagreed with my choice and regularly insisted that the tunnel belonged on the first floor.  She'd usually pull it down at her first opportunity.  I figured that Bertie had some kind of quirky opinion about it.  Now I'm beginning to think she had an ulterior motive.

In the past, if the tunnel was on the first floor, Pinni would tend lay on it, or ignore it entirely.  I've been watching Pinni over the last several days, and I see her often taking naps in the tunnel, but only when it's on the second floor.  Interesting.  So maybe Bertie's first-floor preference wasn't due to some kind of piggy aesthetics.  I can totally picture Bertie moving the tunnel downstairs just to hassle Pinni.  After all, Pinni would regularly oust Bertie from favored sleeping spots.  I bet Bertie was just returning the favor in her own unique way.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Solo Anniversary

It was three years ago tonight that I picked up a frightened Bertie and curious Pinniped from the Dedham shelter to bring home and be friends with Willow.  And what a three years it has been!  We've had adventures in stew pots, trips to pignics and many outings in the back yard.  We had a brief period with one big happy herd, then a couple of years in which we were content with no fighting during floor time.  There's been popcorning around in clean cages, exploring on the floor, lounging in hammocks, careful arranging of the cage contents and time spent storming the hay rack. 

Pinniped:  then and now
2012 was a rough year for the herd.  We lost Willow in February, which wasn't entirely out of the blue; she was already an old lady when the Newbies were adopted.  Pinniped was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst (which appears to be in remission).  Then we lost Bertie in December, which was very unexpected.  Although she'd been battling illnesses for over a year, she had been holding together quite well.  I wasn't prepared for the outcome.  Bertie was only three and a half.

So my trio has become a solo.  We are celebrating Pinniped's adoption by herself.  My little nosy rodent has grown to be a big, chubby, nosy rodent, in constant need of squeezes and love.  Pinni could do without the squeezing.  She'd also be happy if I limited my showering of love and affection to melon rind and tomatoes and skip the kisses and snorgling.  Sorry Pinni - it's a package deal.  You should be used to it by now.

Happy Anniversary to my old Newbie!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This and That

Every year, when I finish my ornaments, I leave out the Sculpey, hoping to be inspired to make something more.  Generally, it just sits in the corner of the living room, adding to the clutter and gathering dust.  This year, amazingly, I pulled together a few magnets.

Our bird feeders have been very popular with the local birds this season.  We don't have bluebirds, but I was watching feeder activity when I made the birdhouse magnet.  The bear is an old standby of mine.  My very first ornaments, when I started working with salt dough (decades ago!), were teddy bears that looked very much like this.  

The pile of apples will go to a friend of mine who picks tons of apples each year and makes lots of applesauce.  Delicious!  I still have a jar or two from this year's batch.