Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Worn Out

Boadicea's arthritic knee must be feeling better.  She ran all around during floor time (no hopping!) while I cleaned the cage.  Usually when they come back to a fresh cage they spend several minutes checking out every corner.  But it was late in the day and I had put out their bowl of evening pellets.  Eating pellets is more important than inspecting the cage.  One must have priorities.

I laughed when they started to eat.  Boadi flopped herself down next to the pellet bowl (because Cannoli couldn't be allowed to eat all the pellets!).  Initially Boadi propped her head against the edge of the bowl like a pillow, but she had to shift several times.  It took some work to lay down and get her nose in the bowl.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Where Does the Time Go?

I started this blog, originally named Crafts, Cavies and Contras,  five years ago during Christmas vacation.  Technically some posts go back to May 2010, but those were ported in from another web site.  Battle Pigs was my first Blogger post, the one that really kicked this off.

Prior to Crafts, Cavies and Contras I had a simple web site.  It was cumbersome to update; I was constantly reworking the pages.  Rob pointed out my writing style and projects were more appropriate for a blog than on a static site.  He was right - I really enjoy blogging.  By the end of 2011 I ported my old content here then deleted my old web page.

Five years.  Wow.  Five different guinea pigs, two different dwellings, lots of sewing and Sculpey, a bunch of new recipes and nearly 700 posts.  (Plus a ton of dancing that I rarely write about.)  To celebrate my fifth blogiversary, I'm giving away a large mug rug (or a mini table-topper?), a Pet Piggies on Parade 2016 calendar and a small bag of my almond buttercrunch.  (Get it? - crafts, cavies and cooking!)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boadicea's First Gotcha Anniversary

It's hard to believe we spent most of Boxing Day a year ago driving to and from the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  Then, after we all met Boadicea, we spent a very stressful day or two while she and Cannoli battled worked out their social structure at home.


Fast forward a year.  In some ways, it feels like Boadicea has been here a lot longer than that.  Boadi immediately made herself at home, faster than any pig I've adopted.  She loves people and rapidly lost her habit applying teeth when startled.  Boadi enjoys getting patted and scritched.  She even allows strangers to touch her.  Occasionally Boadi runs roughshod over Noli, but Noli can hold her own.  Even with the occasional spat and chasing Noli is happy with the situation:  she'll search for Boadicea if they get separated for long.  They often hang out close together - peacefully.  What a change from their introductions.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Magic Thief

Merry Christmas!

Meet Connwaer from The Magic Thief.  He's this year's ornament for my nephew.  I read the series over the summer to get an idea of what to make.  I wanted Conn to wear his black sweater, green keyhole scarf and to be holding one of the crows featured in the books.  I started making the ornament and was overwhelmed with the black.  I picked a different color for his sweater and hated it.  I tucked the whole problematic mess in the corner for weeks and ignored it.  Thanksgiving came and went and I could procrastinate no longer.  This needed to get done!

He had to have the black sweater, so I toned it down by throwing a grey student's robe over it.  What a difference!  Then I reworked his pants.  All the pictures in the book show him with tattered pants that were too short for him.  I added that detail, too.  It took more work than how I normally do feet and the detail barely shows, but it looked and felt a lot better than my first attempt.  Progress.  After I added his scarf, he looked a little like Doctor Who.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sewing Binge

I think I'm making up for lost time.  I spent nearly the entire weekend working on my sewing projects.  Lots of cutting, ironing and stitching.  Woot!  Rob had to drag me out for lunch one day, because I didn't want to put down what I was working on.

Bowls, hexies, a new quilt, more fabric and flange binding

And there's still so much I want to do!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fabric Coil Bowl

I spent Sunday morning making this bowl.  Which wasn't the sewing I had planned to do.  Or needed to do.  But it's what happened.  Once I started, I couldn't stop.

I followed a tutorial I found on CraftStylish.  My goal is to use up all the old fabric I found in my sewing dresser.  One piece down - about a dozen left to go.  Yay?

Not bad for a first attempt.  The rayon frayed a lot.  I did some research and am in the process of making a second one which is not looking so frayed.  It didn't take long to get the hang of wrapping the cord.  Sewing went quickly, wrapping was slow.  I think it took a couple of hours to make this bowl (not counting cutting the fabric).  It was addicting - I couldn't stop the first one until I finished.  I paused work on the second only because I started late in the day.

I plan to make a couple more.  I think that should burn through my old rayon and old lining material.  I'll need more clothesline; I'm nearly through the 100 feet that I bought.  Then, of course, I'll need to figure out what to do with the final products.  Bowls, anyone?

Sharing with Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Almond Buttercrunch

Goodness.  All these years and I never posted the recipe for my almond buttercrunch.  It's one of my most requested recipes, especially from anyone lucky enough to sample some.  I make this only twice a year.  It goes fast.  

I'm sharing the original recipe, as it was handed to me years (and years) ago.  Which, of course, is not exactly what I do.  I skip the chocolate chips and pecans in favor of dipping.  I find the single layer of chocolate flakes off (although it's a lot faster and easier to do).  Dipped buttercrunch makes a nicer presentation, but it's one of the reasons I make this so infrequently. 

I usually dip in dark chocolate; I think it goes great with the sweet buttercrunch.  This year's batch was mostly dipped in milk chocolate, which is Rob's favorite.  The buttercrunch is also good with white chocolate (reminds me of Sweet Sloops).  Yeah - it's kind of hard to go wrong with any kind of chocolate.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Single Shots 2015

Time to share some more holiday guinea pig cuteness.  These are the single shots.  First up is Cannoli, actually hamming it up for the camera!  Usually she sits like a lump for photographs, but not this time.  Goofy little pig.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Gimpy Guinea Pig

Boadi wondering if we could go home yet.
Noli exploring the floor; exhausted Boadi back home
A few weeks ago I noticed Boadicea was hopping as she was on the floor.  I made note of it, but wasn't too worried.  But then she started to keep weight off her front left paw.  It got worse by the end of last week.  Nothing felt warm or painful to the touch.  Maybe it was a strain?  Did she trip or fall?  Since it wasn't getting better, we booked a trip to the vet.

Of course, the morning of the appointment, Boadi suddenly walks without hopping or limping and starts to put weight on that leg.  Way to go, making Mama feel like a crazy lady.  I told Boadi we weren't backing out now, and away we went.

At the vet's office, we put Boadicea on the floor to show the limp.  First she didn't move.  Then we put Cannoli on the floor as incentive.  I had to hold Noli, because she kept trotting right over to Boadi.  Noli has suddenly become this bold, daring little pig?!?  When Boadi finally did move, there was barely a limp.  But just enough - she was whisked off for x-rays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bumper Pad

Poor Cannoli.  She has really taken a shine to the new free-range ramp.  She loves that it's the perfect escape hatch.  If I make a grab for her and Noli doesn't want to be caught, she makes a beeline to the ramp.  I can't catch her once she's on the ramp.  So I learned - I close the gate before I go after her.  But she forgets that the gate can be closed or doesn't see the grids.  I've seen her do a hard brake just before leaping, or worse, face plant into the closed gate in a full run.  Ouch.

I know Noli will figure it out eventually, but after watching her hit that grid at full tilt, I wanted to prevent her from doing that again.  (Silly pig should stop running away from me!)  I moved the hay rack to the gate.  Can't miss it when the ramp is closed.  Plus the hay will be a good cushion if she forgets and runs into it anyway.

I love my hay rack but it requires two hands to fill it.  It was impossible to thread the hay into in the back corner of the cage.  So I whipped together a new version last week that's a top-loader.  Not a bad design, although it sags in the middle a little. Cannoli and Boadicea seem to dump it quicker than the old rack.  I may tinker with it over the next few weeks.  At least it should keep Noli from bonking her nose!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Apple Sausage Pie

This is one of those recipes that's more of a guideline than true step-by-step instructions.  The original version used breakfast sausage and instructions to mix everything together before spreading it in the crust.  I religiously followed this recipe for years before discovering I liked it better with hot Italian sausage.  I improved it again by layering the sausage and apples instead of mixing them (less mess!  even distribution!).  Sausage first, then apples, or occasionally vice versa.  Rob has modified it, too, by drizzling some maple syrup over his serving.

The last time I made this, I split it into three ready-to-bake containers rather than a single pie plate (it freezes really well to be baked later).  I skipped the bottom crust, opting use it all on top.  I loved all that crispy cheese crumble but there was a lot of liquid on the bottom.  Next time I'll put at least a little crust on the bottom.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Finished Ramp

I'm officially done adding the ramp to the guinea pig cage for free-ranging.  The last step was to cover the whole thing with fleece.  This hadn't been part of the original design.  I discovered the hardware cloth had a rough edge even when I folded it over.  I didn't want the rough edge to rub along the back wall.  I also didn't want to chance piggy toes getting caught in any exposed squares.  So fleecing it should keep the paint from getting scratched and keep everyone's toes safe.

The landing originally had overhead supports.  I didn't like that and moved them underneath.  It's a lot sturdier.  I decided the landing doesn't need a cover because Cannoli and Boadicea have lost interest hanging out there.  I pee-proofed (with a little piece of shower curtain) the bottom of the ramp.  They spend time there debating if they want to cross the floor or not. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sewing Again

Look!  Look!  Oh, I am so excited to be sewing again.  In an effort to complete this year's ornament, I had banned myself from sewing until it was complete.  My projects backed up, my sewing machine sat forlorn until that ornament came out of the oven.  Since then, I've lengthened the strap on my knot bag (it needed another 10" to easily sling over my shoulder).  I've played with the QAYG hexies in-between finishing a cover for the guinea pig ramp and working on one more Christmas present.

I've also been cleaning out my sewing dresser.  The middle drawer is filled with scrap material.  Much of it is leftovers from dresses I made (or failed to make), vests, nightshirts.  There's rayon, knit, wool, corduroy, lining; also some upholstery and home decor fabric.  Good stuff that I didn't want to throw out.  A lot of it is scraps, but a few pieces measure a good quarter yard or more.  Any ideas what to make with it?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Grocery Bags

I made my first shopping bags years ago.  I kept two and gave away the other two as Christmas presents.  One of the recipients wondered if she could have another bag for this Christmas.  Cool!  I recalled that these were fun and easy to make.

A little digging unearthed my instructions.  It even had yardage notes penned around the edges.  Originally I wanted to use some pretty purple home decor fabric I had on hand.  But the weave felt loose; I feared it could rip if something heavy was dropped into it.  So off to the store to find something sturdier.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fun with Floor Time

The new guinea pig ramp has been a lot of fun.  I open up the cage on most week days around lunch time for the afternoon.  Cannoli and Boadicea take several trips to the floor.

I had figured Boadicea would be the one to get out and explore.  But who's the pig puttering around?  Cannoli.  She's up; she's down.  If I forget to get pellets on time, she gets quite adamant about it.  She used to just wheek from the cage, but now she gets down on the floor and wheeks, too.  Maybe the acoustics are better down there?

Her new favorite thing is to yell at the top of her lungs either at the end of the ramp, or as she crosses the floor.  She waits until she hears someone in the kitchen.  Then beware!  She's right down there to tell us that we've either forgotten to fill the food dish, or that she doesn't have enough veggies, or whatever else is on her mind.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Well, That Sucks

Broken arm (not mine!) and defective cookies
Thanksgiving weekend is always busy.  I get the Christmas card photos done, bake holiday cookies, start decorating and plan my month.  Lots done this weekend!  Pigs were successfully photographed on Friday.  I finished the ornament on Saturday.  I baked like crazy on Sunday afternoon:  four batches of cookies and a batch and a half of toffee.  Success!

But it wasn't without its failures.  The photo contains exhibits A and B.

Exhibit A.  I finished this year's ornament, pulled it out of the oven, and found I hadn't supported one arm properly.  The little dude's arm had bent way out of shape.  I quickly tried to bend it back into place before it hardened.  I broke off the arm - ripped it right out from his shoulder.  Ack!  I had been so relieved and excited to complete this thing after spending weeks floundering and an entire afternoon putting it together.  And there it was, in pieces.  I was too heartbroken to even swear at it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

More Than Just Parts

Look!  Progress on the ornament!  The feet look like they belong on Frankenstein's monster.  The overall look makes me think of Doctor Who.  Trust me, it's neither.  Regardless, it's a lot better than just body parts!  A good start - I need lots of details.  

Gotta get it finished soon.  My other projects are piling up!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Holiday Photo Shoot 2015

Studio set up, complete with a bowl of bribes
Thanksgiving was a nice day, filled with family, hours of driving (to two get-togethers) and a lot of good food.  I was still suffering from food coma on Friday when I rounded up the pigs for the annual photo shoot.  (Maybe leftover cheesecake for breakfast wasn't such a good idea.)  This year was a first - we shot our Christmas photos outside!  The weather was mild and the lighting was better than indoors.

It took longer to move the table and fight with the camera than it did to actually photograph guinea pigs this year.  Usually we have issues with focus, depth of field and uncooperative rodents.  This year's problem was the flash.  I deleted nearly half the photos for being too dark (frustrating!), but the rest were clear and well lit.  I had more than enough usable photos after two short shoots.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Lack of Motivation

I picked the subject for this year's ornament, did my research, pulled out the Sculpey... and then lost my inspiration.  I have promised myself no more sewing projects until this is done.  It hasn't helped.  (Oh, and there's so much I want to sew!) 

The bits and pieces of clay are there, the ideas are in my head, and yet nothing happens.  I may scrap what I've done and start again, in hopes of jump starting my creativity.  It's way too late in November to be sputtering like this!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

An Armful of Pumpkins

I had bought a couple of sugar pumpkins for autumn decorations.  They're pretty and colorful through October and most of November.  Then I cook them up for pies and cookies.  Decorative and useful - love that.

I roasted them them over the weekend and ended up with a few cups of puree.  It was a dark golden color, had good consistency and a nice flavor.  I wished I had had more pumpkins.

My wish came true on Wednesday.  During a class at the Y, I noticed a basket of sugar pumpkins tucked in the back of room.  They looked as if they were about to be thrown out.  I suspected they had been Halloween decorations.  So I stopped by the front desk and inquired if they needed a home.  They said I could take what I wanted.  I grabbed the best looking ones and walked out with my arms full, trying hard not to drop them.  Serendipity!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Landing Pad

Behind-the-cage ramp.  It looks steep!  (but it's not)
A little over a week ago I moved Cannoli and Boadicea's free-range ramp to wrap around the back of the cage.  It's out of the way, far more secure than the prototype and no longer needs to be removed when I want to keep them in the cage.  Even with the improvements, I was a little sad:  I can't watch guinea pig goofiness as they run up and down the ramp.  However, I can hear when they use it, which is entertaining.  The sound tells me which pig is on the ramp:  thump-thump (Boadi), burble-burble (Noli).

I am happy with the location and overall design, although the landing needs more work.  It blocks some of the light into the cage in the evening.  Not much I can do about that.  The landing also needs different bracing and a fitted fleece cover.  Projects for another weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Quick Repair

I hosted a Tea two weeks ago.  It was a chance to catch up with friends, do some show-and-tell and swap ideas.  It was also an opportunity to trade various things (food, books, etc).  I was excited to get Shattered Kites back from the fair and to see the report card that came with it.  (I got nearly full points for design; I'll need to work on my binding and clean-up if I want to place first).  Some of us brought old worn out clothes to donate or recycle.  I added a bag of sewing scraps - all clean mostly-cotton cloth that I couldn't bear just to throw out.  They're off to be stuffed into dog beds, then donated to a shelter.  How awesome that the scraps will get a second life.

I was handed a pair of much-loved denim shopping bags.  The handles were nearly worn through, but the bags themselves were still quite usable.  Could I possibly replace the straps?  Sure!  And what luck - the previous day I pulled out some denim and upholstery scraps from my stash.  I had been wondering what to make with them.  I found two long strips that were perfect as replacements.

The new handles are quite a contrast to the bags.  But everything goes with denim blue. I think they look quite handsome.  I'm confident the handles will now outlast the bags.  My friend may come to a future Tea with nothing but the handles and ask for new bags!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

QAYG Hexies

Everyone seems to be doing hexie quilts.  I decided to see what the fuss was about.  Goodness!  There's so many styles and sizes.  I was a little overwhelmed at the thought of cutting a zillion little templates and hand stitching everything.  Then I stumbled across a quilt-as-you-go style:  each hexagon is batted and bound.  Then you can configure the finished pieces however you wish.  Oh, this has potential!

I made my template out of a bit of heavy card stock that was leftover from making little recipe books.  It works pretty well and they're a cute size (about 4").  I'm curious how well the template will hold up.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Free Range Ramp Experiment

Cannoli and Boadicea don't get out for floor time as often as I'd like.  It takes time to set up grids, hiding places, water and food.  I make plans to let them out, and then before I know it, it's the end of the day.  I suspect Boadicea is bored, and I'm sure that getting out more often would help.

I'm envious when I see photos and videos of free range (or semi free range) setups.  Some of them have the cage on the floor to allow the guinea pigs to come and go as they please.  My cage isn't on the floor and I need it where it is.  Where else would I hide store their hay, bedding and cleaning supplies?  Plus I like having Noli and Boadi at my level so I'm not looming over them.  It's easier to interact with them as I pass by the cage.

If moving their cage to the floor wasn't an option, maybe I could move the floor up to them?  After a bit of brainstorming, fourteen dollars of hardware cloth and an afternoon of puttering, I had a prototype ramp.  I didn't want to invest too much time or effort, in case my idea was a total flop.  I cut apart the front corner of the cage, attached the ramp and stood back to see Noli and Boadi's reaction.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Storing Bobbins

I used to keep extra threaded bobbins in a little tray in my sewing box.  I didn't have many of them, but they kept unraveling.  It was a mess every time I tried to pull out a bobbin and match it to a spool of thread.

I found several organizing ideas online.  My favorite used rubber bands.  I have plenty of those on hand; no need to buy any new gadgets.  Even better, the bobbin stays with the original thread, so when I pull a thread color that I like, I don't have to go searching around for a matching bobbin.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guess Where We Went?

Boadicea tagged along for emotional support (and squeezes)
Cannoli's thyroid is as stubborn as she is.  I up the dose, her weight improves for a day or two, then drops a bit.  Then late last week I heard her whimper and found a bit of blood.  We all know what that meant!  Road trip!

Of course she had a waiting-room-cure.  By the time we arrived at the vet, Cannoli was symptom-free.  She even obliged in giving a clean urine sample.  Honestly, I'm relieved - no infection, no sludge, no blood.  The thought of having another bladder stone prone pig made me sad.  Cannoli did produce a bit of loose stool, so we were sent home with some flagyl for a few days.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Scrappy Table Top

When I finished Summer Seashores, I had a stack of green and melon half triangle squares.  There were just enough to make a small square quilt - a good size for table topper.  Perfect.  I needed one to protect the end table next to the guinea pig cage.

In addition to the stack of half triangle squares, there were a few mini squares trimmed from the same quilt.  And of course there was lots of pebbly tan.  I set the mini squares in the tan border, as well as backed and bound in the tan.

I really liked the pebbly fabric when I bought it - I think it goes great with the greens and blues.  It may have not worked in the summer quilt, but it looks great here!  

Friday, October 30, 2015

Camouflaged Cavy

Boadicea usually doesn't try to hide from me but she must be practicing her stealth mode, just in case.  Doesn't she match the background so well?  I bought these fleece patterns because I thought they'd be good for hiding poo.  I hadn't considered they'd be good for hiding guinea pigs as well.  If this wasn't such a close up shot, she'd blend right in!

The other day I walked into the room as I heard the water bottle rattle.  At first glance, there was no guinea pig at the bottle - until the nose popped out of the tunnel.  Boadi made me think of a kid wrapped up in a sleeping bag on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Navy Bean, Sausage and Spinach Soup

Fall.  The perfect time to try out new soup recipes.  This time I wanted to try something with white beans and kale.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get my hands on my favorite Russian kale.  Sadness.  So I grabbed some spinach and tried this recipe, instead.

This is a hearty soup, reminiscent of Lentil Kielbasa Soup.  I may try it again without the sausage and more spinach.  A small bowl is quite filling.

I've been on a dry bean kick, but you could easily substitute the dried beans with four 15oz cans of navy beans (or any white bean) and skip the soaking/precooking step.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shattered Kites - Blogger's Quilt Festival

I'm entering Shattered Kites as my second entry in this fall's Blogger's Quilt Festival for the Scrappy Quilt category.  Regular readers have seen it before (bear with me one more time!).

Last year I decided I wanted more rulers than just my plain straight ones.  I bought a kite ruler because it seemed more versatile than an equilateral triangle (which I wanted).  It sat amongst my boring rulers for nearly a year - then this the summer I began a crumb quilt.  I decided making kite-shaped crumb blocks would look really cool.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Snowflake Banner - Blogger's Quilt Festival

I love that I finished this just in time to enter into the fall Blogger's Quilt Festival in the Small Quilt category.

My quilting projects normally start with an end result in mind.  I'm making something for myself or a friend or donation.  These snowflakes were the first time I made blocks just for the sake of making them.  Then they sat for a while as I figured out what to do with them.  Who knew they'd start a trend:  I now have three stacks of various quilt blocks I've stitched up without a final item or destination in mind.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Raining Carrot Peels

Cannoli is a timid guinea pig.  Generally, if I'm standing near or over the cage, she will be tucked in whatever corner is farthest from me.  Food can draw her out, briefly; it's usually a grab and go.

There is one scenario that she's out in front and stays there:  when I peel carrots.  Most veggies are prepared in the kitchen and trimmings delivered to the pigs.  Carrots, however, are peeled directly over the cage.  Saves me time.  Plus it's entertaining.

Cannoli and Boadicea beg for the first peel or two until they realize what is happening.  At that point, it's heads down to devour whatever carrot curls have hit the ground.  They often stand right in the line of fire and covered in carrot confetti.  Noli had to shake herself off the other day, but still refused to budge from her spot.  They do their best to eat as fast as I produce.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Trial Run

I was asked to bring something to a bake sale.  Actually, it's less bake sale and more silent auction, so I want to bring something that catches people's eye.  I also need it to be something that can travel well, doesn't require refrigeration and goes on a plate I don't need returned.  I also need it to be quick and easy to make.  So, unfortunately, those requirements nix many of my decadent Thanksgiving/Christmas desserts.

About the same time as the baking request, I found this giant peanut butter cup recipe from Bon App├ętit.  Certainly looks decadent.  But there was no way I wanted to make something this large for the first time to raise money.  What if it looked terrible?  Or worse, tasted bad?  It was tempting to make a full-sized one for myself.  Instead, I whipped up a half recipe and split it into two mini pie plates.  I topped one with milk chocolate, the other with semi-sweet.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Slew of Sewing

September was a slow month for sewing - vacation and several days of not feeling well will do that.  Now that I'm feeling better, it's like SEW ALL THE THINGS!

I keep slopping stuff all over the table next to the guinea pig cage.  I've had to refinish the table recently, and figure a table topper may prevent more damage.  In August I made a stack of half triangle squares from Summer Seashore trimmings.   I've started on a table topper with the HTS and some other summer scraps.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bar Chewing Badness

Boadicea is concerned that Cannoli is having all of the fun getting picked up, weighed and medicated twice a day.  Especially since this routine happens to coincide with snack-time.  As if dealing with Cannoli isn't enough, I am now getting bad behavior from Boadi.

First, it was limited to chattering at me.  I can understand that.  After all, a little pig can only be patient for so long when expecting bell pepper treats.  Obviously I was not forthcoming with those treats fast enough.  Still, I am not giving her the attention she deserves - so she's added bar chewing to her repertoire.

This is not cool.

I could live with bar chewing while I medicate Cannoli.  Except Boadi is extending this new-found activity into the day and focusing on other off-limit items such as the ramp and binder clips.  Needless to say, Mama is not amused.

I've seen genuine enthusiasm in Boadi comparing flavors or textures (or whatever piques a guinea pig's interest when chewing things they shouldn't).  I haven't had serious bar chewers since Victoria and Willow.  Most of the bar damage in the cage dates back to them.  I am hoping this behavior will be short lived and she'll get bored with it.  May I be so lucky.  I will start with some attention and affection (ew!  kisses!).  Meanwhile I have dug out the sheets of Plexiglas I used with Willow to block the bars.  It wouldn't take much work to reinstall those.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Falling Flakes

Last year I started making paper-pieced snowflakes from the Canuck Quilter's Snowalong.  I loved these.  I wanted to make them all.  I picked a blue from my stash that had been waiting just the right project and this was it.

There was only enough for four flakes.  <sigh>  Even with that, I ended up piecing the last block with scraps.  And unlike my usual projects, I had made these with no real purpose.  So they sat in a corner of my sewing room all year, until I started working on my summer quilt.  The light blues from that looked wonderfully icy against the snowflakes' dark blue.  As I worked on my summer quilt, I thought about a winter one.

I decided to make this into a hanging to go on the front door.  It could also work as a short table runner.  I didn't go off of a pattern and had a little difficulty making the new wonky blocks line up.  I kept wanting to straighten them!  But it looks pretty good on the wall!

I had debated about bordering it in white, then maybe binding in white.  In the end, I've picked a blue that's darker than the edges, but lighter than the snowflake blue and plan to bind it as is.  Next step, sandwich and quilt.  I'll be so happy to have it done!

Sharing with Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Medicating Cannoli

The setup: scale, pig, weight journal, meds and reward
I have often told people that you do not want to give guinea pigs pills.  Liquid meds is the only way to go.  Cannoli has been getting medication for her thyroid for the last couple of months.  I went against my own advice and got pills, because I could get them immediately instead of waiting several days to pick up a suspension at the vet.  The pill she gets is so tiny, I thought I'd have no problem.  However, one of these days I'll have no choice but to drive to the vet.  Cannoli gets cagier every day in tablet avoidance.  (In fact last night she managed to secretly spit it out and I only found it this morning.) 

Back in August I started by hiding the pill in a bit of banana.  So easy!  One whiff of that and down the hatch.  Which was great, until Noli remembered that bananas aren't supposed to crunch.  She stopped eating banana.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Return to Topsfield

My girlfriend and I headed to the Topsfield Fair on Sunday.

After running the midway gauntlet, we made it to the rabbit and cavy barn.  It was a chilly morning; most of the disapproving rabbits were huddled in corners.  So cute!  but I felt bad for them.  I guess it's better to be cool than to be too hot.

Our next stop was our true destination - Coolidge Hall.  Once again, my girlfriend placed first for her applesauce and I won a second place ribbon for my quilt.  Shattered Kites looked so tiny tucked in between some huge quilts.  I look forward to reading the comments on it when I get it back.  My living room wall looks bare without it.

The quilts were lovely.  I've learned so much in a couple of years - I could identify paper pieced and appliqued quilts much easier than in the past.  I appreciated the work that went into them (especially a huge quilt that had been hand quilted).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Japanese Knot Bag

I used to have a little tote bag (more like an over-sized purse) that went through the wash one too many times.  It disintegrated.  It had been a nice size to dump in a couple of books and a snack.  It got a lot of use going to appointments that may keep me waiting or on short road trips.  I currently have a little drawstring backpack, but it's just not the same.  I want something that can sit on the floor, fall open so I can see inside it, and yet will cinch up when I carry it.  

While searching for a good replacement, I found a couple of patterns for a Japanese knot bag that caught my eye.  They're simple (no snaps or even drawstrings) and appeared to have all my requirements.  My favorite set of instructions were on The Chilly Dog.  I ended up free-handing my own pattern, based on some other patterns I found out there, but other than that, I followed these instructions for putting it together as well as how long to make the straps.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Labor Day Pig Wrangling

It's October and I'm posting about what we did during Labor Day.  Think I'm a bit backed up with posts?

Boadicea - watch out for The Hand!
During Labor Day weekend we rounded up Cannoli and Boadicea to take some photos for my blog.  Cannoli has never been cooperative for photo shoots.  We could always count on Pinniped or Willow to wave their nose around.  Noli is much harder to coach; she tends to hunch up in one spot and keeps her head down.  Boadicea has some potential for being a camera ham - she's a bit more relaxed and keeps an eye out for treats.

We snapped a few good "official" shots I hope to use here and there.  But honestly, the outtakes are always more fun (and as you can see, it's not always their fault).

Friday, October 2, 2015

On the Bed

Already the weather has started to turn cooler, but Summer Seashore made it onto the bed before it goes into winter storage.  Didn't it look huge hung up on the garage door?  Doesn't look as big on the bed, does it?

I can really feel the difference in it's weight from my other quilt.  It has a little warmth, but not too much.  It's what I was hoping for when I started this project.  It looks so cool and refreshing.  It will be so exciting next spring to put this on the bed at the first sign of warmer weather. 

This quilt had so many pitfalls, angst and redesigns.  It's not the color I originally imagined.  At one point I thought I'd hate it.  I wasn't sure that the flannel backing would work.  And I ripped out so much quilting!  Nearly ran out of the dark green!  (There's literally nothing more than a short stack of corner trimmings left.)  I had to piece together part of the binding from scraps.

It's perfect.  I love it.  Thank goodness I'm moving on to smaller projects.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trip to Topsfield

I made the long drive to Topsfield to drop off Shattered Kites for the fair.  The women processing the entries oohed and ahhed over it, so I'm hoping for a ribbon.  We'll see.  They were saying they've got a real certified quilt judge this year.  I would be very excited if my quilt was up to snuff!

Hours driving in the car for a five minute hand-off seemed like the waste of a morning.  So I brought sunflower seeds and we made a second stop at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.  We spent an hour or so wandering the grounds and feeding the birds.  Yes!  That made the trip worthwhile.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cavymadness Bookmark Giveaway

As I was putting away the supplies for the Boston Fall Pignic, I found a few extra CavyMadness bookmarks tucked in with the pignic bookmarks.  They're awfully cute and they could be yours!  I will draw two winners; each will receive one pair of bookmarks as pictured here.

To enter:  leave a comment here (if you're a no-reply blogger, please include your email address in the comment) or on the CavyMadness Facebook post.  I will pick two winners at random - one from the blog, the other from the CavyMadness page.  Commenting here and on Facebook will increases your chance to win.

Be sure that I can contact you!  CavyMadness cannot send a direct private message to Facebook comments.  Check back after 12pm on October 5th - I will reply to the winner's comments if I cannot email them directly.  If a winner does not respond within 24 hours, I will randomly draw another name.

This drawing closes on Friday, October 5th at 12pm EDT.  Congrats to Heidi and Daniel!  Those bookmarks should last through many good books.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Candy Corn Bark

I buy one bag of candy corn every year.  It's way too sweet, but I gotta have some.  How can it be Autumn without candy corn?  Three years ago I blogged about a couple of candy corn bark recipes I found.  Insane.  Sweet upon sweet.  And yet, so addictive.  I make one batch each year (really small - about 1/6 to 1/2 the original recipe).

I've had trouble with the candy corn bark seizing when I mix it altogether.  Looked awful, tasted great.  I'm happy with this year's batch.  I melted about two-thirds of of the white chocolate, spread it in the pan and pressed in the mix-ins.  Then I melted the last third of white chocolate and drizzled/spread it on top.  Ooh.  Looks like chocolate bark should and not a lumpy mess.

I couldn't find a small bag of pretzels, so I coated the leftovers in dark chocolate.  Mmm.  Something to offset the sickening sweet.  I'll be sad when it's all gone, but grateful I won't make this evil concoction again for another twelve months.  I doubt it will survive the weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2015

We Are NOT World Travelers

Chick Weekend included a pair of sows along with the human gals.  Cannoli and Boadicea came along for the ride so I could wrestle pills into Cannoli and track her weight.  Unfortunately, the weekend wasn't quite as fun for them as it was for the humans.

First, it was a long ride down, since I stopped to visit with a friend on the way.  They did so good in the car, but the poor pigs were a bit strung out when we arrived.  (So was I.)  Sorry about that!  I had hoped Noli would recognize the familiar cage and setup since she'd been to the Cape before.  However, she was freaked out over the sounds and lighting.  I'm glad I brought along the Critical Care - she ate so little the first day I mixed some up and she wolfed it down.  Even Boadicea lost some weight (although you wouldn't notice it on that pudgy pig).

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thank You Basket

I made another of my fabric baskets.  It's a thank you gift for our accommodations at Chick Weekend.  We are often at a loss at what to get to say thank you.  We all love the cottage and the time we get to spend there.

This seemed easy - hard to go wrong with a pretty container you can put stuff in.  The blues and sandy colors make me think of the beach.  My aunt is a big tea-drinker like me, so there's several squares with tea kettles on them.  I even remembered to sew in the mini label before stitching the whole thing together.  I hope she likes it.

This is the third basket I made based on Pink Penguin's instructions.  This is the 24 3" squares version described at the bottom of the post.  I like it better than the 3" version I made with 28 squares.  I may have to try making a pattern based on 2.5" squares.  I think smaller versions are cuter (although this is a great catch-all size).

Sharing with Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Boston Fall Pignic 2015

It was not an auspicious start for Pignic day.  I woke up to cloudy skies, fresh raindrops on the deck and a splitting sinus headache.  Cannoli had just started to gain the weight she had lost last week, so as much as I wanted to bring her and Boadicea for some fresh grass, we decided to give them a stress-free day at home.  I lay on the couch, waiting for tea and drugs to kick in, knowing it was supposed to be beautiful weather and that Boston area pigs were counting on me.  By the time we arrived in Wellesley to set up, I was feeling much better.  The sun was shining and the grass was green and dry.  Oh, perfect!

The Pig Patrol appeared, ready to go.  We had everything set up and settled before the first pignickers showed up.  It was a strange start - there were a ton of boars in the common pen, but almost no pigs in the sows pen.  By 1pm we wondered if it was going to be as quiet as the Spring Pignic.  Nope - at 2pm we were inundated; wave after wave of guinea pigs arrived.  That was more like it!  The sows poured in (we decided they planned to be fashionably late).  When the last pig was checked in, we had 47 guinea pigs and roughly as many people attending the pignic.  That's more like it.

Pigs in bowls is always cute;
can you tell which side has the nose? and baby pig with a mohawk.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cape Chick Weekend IX

What happens in North Eastham tends to stay on Facebook.  Another Chick Weekend has flown by and I'm the last one to post photos.  Lots of wine, pastry and beaches.  We do have fun.

I got an early start on Friday, and stopped on the way to visit with a friend I hadn't seen in years.  I continued my trip with a memento - a little stuffed nuthatch.  It says "greeb-greeb-greeb" when it's squeezed and it got lots of squeezes over the weekend.

Last year's weather was good for lounging; this year we had sunny cool weather, so we were on the go.  Saturday morning we started with photographing my quilt, then moved on to taste testing a set of beach plum jelly.  My cousin made four different batches.  All of them were yummy; we liked numbers 3 and 4 the best (tester #4 came home with me).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Cannoli is Three

At three years old, Cannoli is now considered a mature sow.  Ha.  I could say she did some serious growing up in the last year.  With Pinniped's lack of eating and lack of energy, Cannoli did a lot of eating and sitting.  Towards the end of 2014 she weighed 1240g.  Oof!

She lost some weight after Pinniped passed away, then went down a bit more when Boadicea arrived on the scene.  Nothing like a younger upstart to keep you moving!  Then she kept dropping.  By June Cannoli had dropped below what I considered her normal weight.  We started visiting the vet; by August we had a diagnosis.  Noli had an overactive thyroid.  With treatment, I'm hoping she'll soon get back to her 1kg self.