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!