Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Good to the last bite
As I was taking photos of my slice of pie, the thought crossed my mind that if I botched these pictures, I'd have to set up and do it again.  Wouldn't that be a shame?  Alas, the first set of photos were fine.  I'll have to come up with a different excuse to cut another slice.

I've had this recipe for ages, and followed it faithfully... until this time around.  I pulled out the recipe to use up my left over Easter candy ingredients.  I had purchased an extra block of cream cheese by mistake.  It's not something I use on a regular basis.  What was I going to do with that?  I also had a handful of peanuts and a bit of cream to use up, and there's always chocolate chips and peanut butter on hand. 

As I read through the recipe I realized I had enough cream for the ganache, but not enough to whip for the peanut butter layer.  The whole purpose of making the pie was to use up what I had on hand, not go out and buy more.  So I beat in some plain Greek yogurt (maybe a half cup or so) to lighten it up a bit.  It's much denser than the original recipe, but still delicious.  In fact, I liked how it turned out so much, I may try this substitution again.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NEFFA 2013

I got a kick out of the Everything Else signs
I have survived another year of the New England Folk Festival! (...although my knee and ankle weren't too sure about that.)  It's a weekend of dancing, music, crafts, meeting new people and catching up with folks I haven't seen since the last festival.  I spent lots of time contra dancing, brushing up on my English dancing, taking in the artwork and the people and even learned a bit about native American flutes.

For me, the festivities begin on Thursday night, when I volunteer for setup.  Years ago, when I first volunteered for this, I managed to cut my hand within five minutes.  It was bad enough that I needed it cleaned out and a band-aid.  Harold dug out the first aid kit and patched me up.  I learned my lesson, and have always brought work gloves to NEFFA setup.

So this year, we start setting up tables and on the second table I grabbed I manged to snag my thumb on a rough patch of wood.  As I'm examining my thumb for a splinter, Harold, who was standing behind me, plucks my gloves that were hanging out of my back pocket and hands them to me.  Yup.  When it comes to NEFFA set-up, I'm accident prone.

At least I'm not so klutzy the rest of the festival!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Piggies

Ah, springtime (if it ever warms up!).  A time of new beginnings, flowers and piggies in love.  Let's do a photo shoot!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pinniped is Four

Today we celebrate Pinniped's fourth birthday.  By my reckoning, that's a major milestone in a guinea pig's life.  She's no longer a hot-shot young adult, but now a mellow middle-aged sow.

Pinni did not have an easy third year.  She's had ongoing issues with bladder sludge.  In July she was diagnosed with ovarian cysts that required shots.  Then she lost her pal, Bertie, in December.

But it wasn't all bad:  there were pignics, days outside with grass and sunshine, fun with new toys and lots of good things to eat.  To top it off, she's starting her fourth year with a new friend that she's crazy about.  Sure, Pinni is still tends to be a bully and steals Cannoli's food whenever she can.  But Cannoli doesn't fear her, and I can see that Pinni loves her new friend.  I've seen them snuggled together in the same cuddle cup - something that I've never witnessed Pinni do with any other pig.

So we hope to keep the cysts and sludge under control and wish Pinni lots of happiness with her new friend.  Here's to another year with my squeezable pig.  Happy Birthday, Pinn!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Silkscreened Sweatshirt

This isn't my handiwork, but I still wanted to share.  My sister occasionally designs silkscreen prints.  Our last several family T-shirts have been her design, and I love our yin/yang fishes apron.  When my sister reveled this year's design, I decided it was time for a new sweatshirt.  I picked a light blue shirt and this is the result.  She said my color combination was the best of the bunch.  Pretty cool, eh?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cannoli's Progress

Blogging has changed how I observe my guinea pigs.  I hadn't started writing when I adopted Bertie and Pinniped; I recall that they were skittish for a while, then suddenly settled in.  This time around, however, I'm noticing the little changes in Cannoli from week to week.  I think it's because I've conditioned myself to pick up on anything worth writing about.  So I'm tuned in to the progression of Cannoli's behavior.

It's been a month since Cannoli came home with us from Nevins Farm.  She still runs away when I come in the room and tries not to get picked up.  I realize it could be months before she willingly comes forward to beg for attention or treats.  But there has been lots of progress.  Cannoli got the hang of the new cage within the first day or two.  The upper levels were challenging at first (especially that first leap up), but now she runs up and down them like a pro.  She loves the hammock and I've seen her do a crazy nothing-but-net leap into it from the side.  Swish!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Disappearing Poo

Poo?  What poo?
I love GIMP.  I only use a tiny fraction of it's features, but I've gotten pretty good with clone and healing.  I use it to de-poo so many of my guinea pig photos.  It helps create the illusion that my girls are neat and tidy. 


I have admitted in prior posts that I alter my cage photos.  This time I happened to save the photo before I wiped out the poo.  Then I had to brush up on GIMP animation in order to create this combo.  Now you see the beans, now you don't!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Teardrop Pigs

Blobby Pinni and Noli
Just seconds before I snapped this photo, Pinniped and Cannoli had both been facing the same direction - a perfect pair of teardrops.  Pinni's shape is not surprising, since she is a very round rodent.  But Cannoli is so often stretched out, it's odd to see her all bunched in the classic guinea pig shape.

We've begun to occasionally call Cannoli Rusty or Squeaky.  She's normally very quiet, unless Pinni steals her food or attempts to oust her from a favorite sleeping spot.  However, Rob discovered that Noli will squeak like a rusty door hinge when he comes home to feed them their afternoon treat.  I wasn't sure if I believed his description, but several days later I experienced the rusty hinge myself.  Sure enough - that's exactly what Cannoli sounded like.  Squeaky-squeaky!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Salt Dough Ornaments

Moving to a home office has entailed not only lugging home my computer and desk supplies but also an eclectic mix of other items, including kitchen stuff and Christmas decorations.  One box included a set of old salt dough ornaments from my pre-Sculpey years.

Based on their condition and a few with dates on the back, they all were made in the late 1980s.  I can see my current style hasn't changed much, although my proportions and detailing have improved a lot over the years.  Teddy bears and pandas are always a fallback for me.  One of my very first batches of salt dough ornaments was a set of teddies like the one in the lower right corner.  The white horse is actually a unicorn - but the horn never survived long on any of the dozen or so I made.  The rocking sheep were popular at craft fairs; I think people were fascinated with the garlic-pressed fleece.  Sadly, the lion on the candy cane has snapped and is in the process of disintegrating.  That's the big drawback of salt-dough ornaments - if there is any crack in the varnish, they start absorbing moisture until they fall apart.  I think these all have survived as well as they have being stored in the low-humidity office.

I'm not sure what I'll do with these now that they're home.  I have a friend who I'm sure would be more than happy to give the penguins a home.  I may need to put up a tree next year, just to have an excuse to display them (and scads of other ornaments I own). 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Googly Eyes

I never know what will catch Rob's fancy.  I have grown accustomed to the creepy crawlies that show up in random places in the house.  But I had to laugh when I came home the other night and was greeted by the deadbolt on the front door.

When I came in, I found a package of assorted sized googly eyes on the counter.  Oh, here we go again.  I suspect that I will find all sorts of items in the house suddenly staring at me, just like I've discovered the creepy crawlies.

Sure enough, I caught the banana gazing up at me this morning.  (The giant ant was not a surprise - he is a regular inhabitant of the fruit bowl.)  Rob has even suggested that Pinni needs a pair on her ample behind (poor Pinni).

I'm hosting a Tea this weekend; I wonder how my guests will react to the whimsical strangeness in our household?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Laptop Sleeve

My job is moving me to a home office.  While some of my coworkers are busy building a new room in their basement and assembling new desks to prepare for the move, I spent a couple of hours sewing a sleeve for my work laptop.  Yeah, this move is more involved for some people than others (I was lucky to have a available room and desk).

The laptop is for the days we'll be working in a virtual office.  I didn't need a fully padded laptop bag, like the one I made for my own laptop.  I take a tote bag to work to bring in odds and ends and my lunch.  The laptop will easily fit in that.  I just want something to keep it clean and dry and a place to store a few pens so I don't have to search for them at the bottom of the tote.

I dug through my fabric drawers and found scrap material from some grocery bags I made a couple of years ago and the leftover heavy blue material used to reupholstering my love seat (check out Be Seated Now).  Excellent!  I love doing quick scrappy projects.

I measured the laptop, added 1/2" seam allowances, and another 1/2" for the heck of it, and cut two 34x13.5" strips.  This allowed for sewing the sides together and an additional 4" for the flap.  I cut another piece for the strange not-quite-rectangular pocket on the front and stitched the sides together.  I encountered some trouble sewing the lining to the outside of the sleeve, which is where my last laptop bag ran into issues.  But I had enough outside material to fold it over the lining and stitch it all down, so it worked.  Then I slapped on some velcro and voila!  Laptop sleeve.

I happened to waterproof a pair of hiking boots over the weekend, so when I finished the boots, I hit this bag with a couple of layers of waterproofing.  That should do the trick - my laptop should stay clean and dry.  If my lunch decides to leak, I won't ruin the laptop (unlike the fate of my previous cell phone).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weigh In

Pinniped and Cannoli have settled down nicely two weeks after their introduction.  The only thing I worried about after the first week was that they had both lost weight.  Pinni goes through these periods of gaining and losing.  But Cannoli, being a youngster, should not be losing weight; she should be gaining.  I saw Pinni steal anything Cannoli didn't wolf down fast enough, but if Pinni was hogging it all as she had with Willow, she'd be gaining weight.

Nosy Cannoli (and a passive Pinni)

I weighed them daily and eventually guessed that the weight loss was from all the activity.  Cannoli is an energetic youngster and there are so many things to check out and new cages to run around in.  Pinni is now far more active than she's been in months.  I hear popcorning and thumpa-thumping all over the cage.  Someone is wolfing down pellets and they're burning through the hay.  Finally, this week, they're both a little heavier than when they first met.  Yay!  Because Pinni needs to be squeezable and Cannoli shouldn't be svelte forever.