Friday, August 30, 2013

Cage Rearrangement

I've been playing around with Pinniped and Cannoli's cage.  I moved the hay rack to the second level, which has gotten mixed reviews.  I was hoping to contain the strewn hay to a smaller portion of the cage in anticipation of fleecing the whole lower level this fall, but I don't think a second-floor rack is as convenient for the pigs.

I also switched the shavings from the left side of the cage to under the hammock.  That was much more of a success, especially this summer.  The hot, humid weather makes for a damper and smellier cage; since that's the corner they tended to pee in anyway, I could scoop it out and replace the shavings daily.  It made everyone in the house happier.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

All That Grass

Pinniped and Cannoli have been enjoying the weather and the bounty of our yard.  Just look at all that green!  The two of them were total noodges on Thursday and wheeked loudly at us any time we walked towards the kitchen.  After being cooped up inside for three days, they wanted fresh grass and sunshine!  Friday was warm and dry again, and they got to go out.

Cannoli has decided that being outside is quite nice and she tries to keep pace with Pinni eating all that grass.  She seems relaxed as I watch them from the window, but when I came close to take photos, Cannoli ran away from me.  It was very difficult to get a shot of her face.  Many of the photos I took featured her butt or a nose peeking out from behind Pinniped (because it's so easy to hide behind Pinni).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sprinting to the Finish

Two weeks to the Topsfield Fair submission deadline and I've just finished quilting the red stars.  I'm hoping to complete the blue and green corners this week, then get the rest of the border quilted and the binding put on over Labor Day.  I'm squeezing in sewing-time whenever I can.

Knock on wood - the sewing machine is still hanging in there.  Rob fixed an issue with the bobbin-winding mechanism that was driving me insane.  The belt jams if I haven't used the machine in a couple of days, but once I free it up, it doesn't give me trouble.  It's a good incentive to sew at least a little every day!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Faux Ice Cream

I've been trying to cut down on dairy in the last several weeks.  It's been a bit of a challenge; I'm amazed at how much I consumed.  I never realized so many of my recipes contain cheese.  Almond milk is fine on my cereal and in my tea (although not in my chai).  I've skipped the yogurt and substituted the butter, but giving up the comfort of ice cream?  Sorbet just isn't the same.

Then Rob clued me in to a potential substitution:  blended frozen bananas.  I tried the recipe he gave me, with limited success.  The results were soft-serve at best, a smoothie at worst (at least it was delicious!).  Then one evening I had a craving for chocolate ice cream and whipped up this combination, which had a wonderful consistency.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tracking Weight

Yes, I'm a nerd.  I love to track all sorts of things in my life and who doesn't like charts?

I started weighing my guinea pigs regularly around the time I adopted Victoria and Athena, but didn't start tracking their weight until Willow and Pippin.  I have learned that regular weighing is an invaluable tool in maintaining a guinea pig's health.  A change in weight can indicate an illness long before any other symptoms appear.  Anyone who has dealt with a sick guinea pig knows that early detection and intervention are key in helping a sick piggy get well.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Routines

Between the new place and a new layout, we've also got a new routine going on, and Cannoli has been the quickest to adjust.  She knows where she needs to be to get the best treats first and is overcoming her wussiness.  Several mornings I've found Cannoli on the third level of the cage, awaiting her morning bell pepper and she didn't run away.  Excellent!  She was also the first to wheek from the second level, which is the part of the cage that is closest to the kitchen.  However, some habits die hard; I often find Pinniped up against the water bottle-side of the cage (which used to be closest to the kitchen) looking expectantly through the bars in hope for a treat.  Wrong way, you dope!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pizza Twist

I had bought several bags of pizza dough that through moving and mishaps was frozen and defrosted a couple of times.  The dough has been a sticky mess to work with and I've had to wrestle it into decent pizza crusts.  I recently came across this recipe, and thought: would a twist be easier to create with my remaining sticky dough than trying to form a proper crust?

So I gave it a try, and I'd say it was fairly successful.  It was easier making these two loaves than getting the dough evenly spread out on a large pizza pan, even if there was a spot or two I couldn't quite pinch closed.  The original recipe mentioned keeping space between the twists and I found that it was necessary, in order for the center of the twist not to be too doughy.  Aside from the doughiness, it came out quite nicely.  I have one last bag of the dreaded sticky pizza dough; I may have to give this twist another try.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quilt Wrangling

I sat down two weeks ago to start quilting the stars.  Within two stitches the sewing machine locked up and once I pulled it through the sticking point, the hook timing was all screwed up (the needle hit the bobbin plate).  After hours of troubleshooting, including pulling apart a chunk of the machine, we figured the cause was an aging motor belt.  It's an inexpensive piece and easy enough to find online, but installing it would require dismantling a large portion of the sewing machine.  I'm confident we could pull it apart... but not so certain it would work once it was reassembled.

I've found a repair place that says they can fix it, but they tell me it will take 2 to 3 weeks.  I really want to finish this quilt in time to submit to the Topsfield Fair and that is a hard deadline of September 9th.  So I've managed to get the machine working; I can feel when the belt starts to slip and I can shove it back into true.  However, I'm now battling with wonky thread tension and the occasional messed-up stitch.  Obviously, my machine is terribly unhappy.  I just hope I can coax it to keep going just long enough to finish the quilting and binding.  Fingers crossed.

My machine, in pieces
The good news?  Tackling the stars is much easier now than when I first tried to stitch them.  I'm much more comfortable stuffing the quilt through my sewing machine, the quilting I've done has limited the amount of pinning I need, and I can focus on each star at at time.  They go pretty quickly, although 77 stars remaining at 10 to 15 minutes apiece... um... that's a lot of hours.

Come on, my trusty Graduate... just a little longer and I'll give you all of the refurbishment you deserve.