Monday, March 31, 2014

Weight Watching

Pinni eating hay... but not nearly enough
We are still battling Pinniped's bladder issues.  She gets better for a day or two, then gets worse.  Pinni visited the vet again last week.  The vet expressed as much sludge as possible, modified Pinni's medications and added subcues to the daily regime.  I believe Dr. Holmes is more frustrated by Pinniped's lack of progress than I am.

Pinni's attitude had been improving all week.  I had seen her eating and she begged for treats.  If I hadn't been weighing her every day (actually, three times a day), I wouldn't have realized she had been getting worse.  Guinea pigs are amazingly adept at hiding their illnesses.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red Squirrel

The gray squirrel has been a frequent visitor to the front feeder all winter.  I've seen a red squirrel nearby, but he's not come up on the porch, let alone the feeder.  But in the last two weeks he's gotten braver.  He fits right into the feeder, much better than the gray squirrel.

Although the red squirrel has been extremely timid on the ground, he's been as bold as brass in the feeder.  I was standing a foot away from the window when I took these (terrible) shots.  The gray squirrel would have been long gone if I got that close.  Look at him peeking in.  What a cheeky fellow!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tea Goodies

I hosted a Tea on Sunday.  Family and friends descended on my house with all sorts of food and we spent the afternoon sharing stories, drinking tea and eating all sorts of delicious stuff. 

The Tea is everyone's to try out new recipes.  We've learned to convert dishes to gluten- or dairy-free to accommodate peoples' allergies, with mixed results.  We've had cookies that crumbled or spread out and bars that imploded and the mix-ins sunk to the bottom.

This time we had a lot of great cookies, most of them gluten free.  There were  meringues,  coconut macaroons, cardamom snaps, mocha tea cookies and maple cookies.  I was so relieved the mocha cookies didn't fall apart.  I have also discovered that using almond meal in the macaroons is a delicious addition. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

So Sick

Pinniped was in for a recheck early March. The calcification is still near her spine, but seemed to have shrunk.  Good news.

However, Pinni didn't seem so well after the visit.  I wrote it off to stress, since the vet noticed nothing wrong.  But one week later, her weight took a nose dive and she sat all puffy in the corner.  I was lucky to get a vet appointment that evening:  Pinni had a raging bladder infection.

It has been a terrible uphill battle.   She improved the first two days on medication, then they seemed to stop working.  The vet switched antibiotics and adjusted the painkillers last week.  Pinni lost so much weight in one day, I set up an infirmary next to my desk so I could monitor her input and output as I worked. 

After weeks of a downward spiral, Pinni is showing some improvement.  There's still the occasional whimpering when peeing and the general puffiness of pain.  But we've had weight gain.  There's the schnoz that goes every time I pick her up.  There's genuine interest in greens and veggies.  I have to seriously wrangle this pig to get pills into her.  I'll take a fighting pig any day, no matter how aggravating.  If Pinniped's pissed enough to tell me NO and spit pills at me, she has to be feeling better.

Monday, March 24, 2014

String Theory

I finished sewing together my string blocks.  Look at that!  The first few rows had looked disjointed.  But once I assembled more rows, it came together.  I need to work on my precision - several of the black strips moved when I initially stitched them to the paper.  When I finished off the square, I should have aligned on the fabric, not on the paper.  Next time I'll do better.

I had thought to add borders to make this throw or twin sized.  But when I added the grey edges, I realized it's about baby quilt size (36x48").  I could just bind it as is.  So far opinions have been split between stopping now or adding borders.  I even had a vote to bind it as a wall hanging.  Oh, the choices!  Finish it or add on?

Regardless, this will be my second homeless quilt.  I need to start finding owners for these quilts.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bowl Cozies

I'm not fond of the microwave over the stove, especially when pulling out hot food at eye level.  Grabbing a plate isn't too bad (with or without an oven mitt), but a hot bowl can be difficult to handle. 

Evidently others have had this problem, too, and invented the bowl cozy.  Neat!  It requires all cotton material, batting and thread.  The thread and batting I had on hand weren't all cotton, so I had to purchase some.  Then I found the french fries material.  That's what happens when you go shopping when you're hungry.  I already had the coffee/tea mug material.  I think they work well together.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

String Explosion

Onto the next scrappy project!

This time I'm working through my leftover strips of fabric.  I found a pattern than I liked, modified it a bit, and then proceeded to trash my sewing room.

Just look at the mess!  There are bits of material covering the table and every single chair.  I wade through scraps of fabric and paper whenever I cross the room.  There are little pieces of cloth tracked all over the house.  And I'm hosting a tea on Sunday.  Ack!

My goal was to get rid of the scrap material, which is a slightly backward approach.  The focus was on the block rather than the final quilt.  I cut paper and the black middle strip for sixteen squares, thinking I should have enough material to cover that.  After sewing together a few blocks, I calculated that there was enough scrap to make about 48 blocks.  The quilt grew from wall-hanging size to throw-quilt size.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Gotcha Day, Cannoli!

I saw "gotcha day" used on a friend's Facebook page to describe the adoption day for one of their pets.  Love that!  So - today is the first anniversary of adopting Cannoli.

Cannoli was a terrific find.  We worried about obtaining a friend for Pinniped, since she had been such a bully to Willow (and attempted to bully Bertie).  I had been told that Cannoli was accustomed to living with several sows, and was likely a good match.  What an understatement!  They immediately hit it off.  A year later, they are still very happy together.

Her laid back attitude is why she gets along so well with Pinniped.  Pinni will strut her stuff and assert her dominance; Cannoli remains unfazed then goes off and does her own thing.  It's pretty funny to watch.  Noli doesn't seem to care about her social status - she gets fed regardless, so life is good.

She's still quite timid when anyone comes by the cage.  Which is so silly for a guinea pig that frantically calls attention to herself several times a day (she's a bottomless pit).  Cannoli is such a wheeky pig!  Yet she always runs and hides.  Once she's caught, Noli seems happy enough to be held and snuggled.  She's a great lap pig (she's peed on my only once).  What an odd mix of contradictions.  

Happy Gotcha Day, my roly-poly Noli!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Got Cake?

My sister painted this card for my birthday many years ago, featuring Teddi and Eclair.  I loved the little party hats.  So I framed it and it hangs in my kitchen.  Cake?  Cookies?  It all smells good to me.  After all these years, this little painting still makes me smile.

Pinniped and Cannoli prefer my savory dishes to baked goods.  There's more chance of getting veggie trimmings when I make stew than baking chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oatmeal Bread

I've been baking bread.  Not the quick breads that I know and love but real bread that needs to rise before it bakes.  So far they've all been edible, although one loaf was so doughy it needed toasting before eating it.  I've tried several different recipes and this oatmeal bread has become our favorite.  It's wonderful toasted, with just butter or jam.  It works well with soups and stews.  I haven't made sandwiches with it, but I'm sure it would hold together well.  Try it, you'll like it.

The best thing from this recipe was rising instructions:  Preheat the oven to its hottest setting for 1 minute.  TURN OFF THE OVEN.  Place covered bowl in the oven to rise until doubled.  Since I started doing this, all of my breads have risen better.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Not Quite What I Expected

I set up a photo shoot to get a few photos of a pepper tug-of-war to go with the pepper-stealing post.  I failed to account for one thing:  Cannoli's un-pig like behavior when she's frightened.  Usually a scared guinea pig will grab any food offered to them because if one is going to die, one should die eating.

At least that's been my observation.

Not so with Cannoli.  When placed on the table and offered green pepper she sat there, not moving a muscle.  Such unhappiness.  Meanwhile, Pinniped helped herself to the first slice of pepper.  Um... definitely not the reaction I was hoping for.  Bertie would occasionally refuse to eat when stressed out, but most of my pigs have been excellent stress-eaters.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quilt-As-You-Go Mug Rug

Have you ever heard of mug rugs?  I discovered them recently on a quilter's blog:  bigger than a coaster, smaller than a place mat, intended for a mug and some goodies.  I could certainly use one at my desk.  Seemed like a fun little project to do.  I bet they'd make good gifts, too.

This one used my left-over double disappearing nine patch pieces.  I'm so happy to find a use for these two strips since it killed me to cut them off of my mixer cover project.  The pieces were already quilted so I decided to try quilt-as-you-go to assemble the mug rug.  I found a few different methods and decided to try the one on

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lying in Wait

Bell pepper tastes best when stolen from someone else
Cannoli is usually the first up to the second level for morning pepper.  Pinniped takes her time, if she bothers at all.  She had been begging from the first level, but recently she's done one better.  Cannoli always grabs the pepper, turns around and bolts to the corner of the first floor.  She pauses before leaping from the second level.  Pinni took advantage of that hesitation and grabbed the pepper from Noli before she jumped.

The first time or two this happened, Noli was under the hammock before she realized the pepper was gone.  Confused, she searched for a while before returning to me for another piece.  Or worse, she'd try to wrest the pepper back from Pinni, which was a losing deal.  I think at first Pinni just happened to take advantage of the opportunity.  Later she often sat waiting without any intention to beg.  Why bother waving your nose about when your roommate just hands over the goods?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Still Not a Cranberry

There have been lots of blueberries at the store and I can't resist them.  Oh, yum!

Wednesday morning I grabbed a handful to snack on and decided to share with the girls.  This was Cannoli's first experience with blueberries.  She was cautious, but curious.  Pinniped immediately nabbed it, but there was no victory wave.  She quickly confirmed that this was the not-cranberry:  good enough to eat, but nothing to get excited over.

Alas, fresh cranberry season is gone.  We are slowly depleting  the stash of frozen ones.  Defrosted cranberries tend to be limp and soggy and lack the satisfying crunch of a fresh one.  But a soggy cranberry is still preferable to a fresh blueberry (at least that's Pinni opinion).  Noli could be convinced otherwise, since she's still not sure if she likes the cranberry's tartness.  Blueberries are sweeter.

Looks like I'm the only blueberry lover in the house, given that they weren't immediately snarfed down.  I could even get a photo of a half-eaten one?!?  At least I know they can't make me feel guilty for not sharing.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cork Board

I have some neat push-pins my sister gave me.  Several look like pairs of shoes; some newer ones she made from Sculpey that have teacups on them.  I had a nice cork board at our old place, but it was glued/nailed to the wall and was left behind.  The pins have been in storage since we moved.

I didn't like the plain cork boards I saw in the store.  Besides, I discovered my stash of wine corks after the move and decided to make my own cork board.  I found the frame at Michaels and then discovered I didn't have enough corks to fill it.  (My wine-drinking friends are now laughing at me or gasping in horror.)  I finally collected enough corks this week and set to work on gluing everything down.

I'm happy with it.  There's two small gaps I may eventually fill in, but I'm likely to be the only person to notice.  It's a tiny cork board compared to others I've seen with this design.  But it's big enough to show off my push pins, keep track of a few receipts and it fits right over the coat hook in the kitchen.  Perfect.