Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Like Thursday: NEFFA

I went to the New England Folk Festival last weekend in Mansfield, MA.  It's held at the middle school and high school - it takes over a good chunk of the campus.  I look forward to this every year for all sorts of reasons.  I logged nearly 40 miles on my fitbit, and at least half of that was from dancing!

I like that I finished adding leather to my new dance sandals in time for the dance.  Then I spent the weekend breaking them in.  Oof.

I like the volunteer work - I trade work for a ticket.  I helped with setup and signs.  It's great to see my handiwork during the event.  Added advantage:  I know where everything is prior to the event.  Win-win!

I like the custodians at the Mansfield schools.  I can't tell you how much these guys make the weekend.  They're always there, wonderfully helpful and always cheerful.  I look forward to seeing them every year.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

When I first saw these cookies, I immediately thought of Do-si-dos.  As a kid, I'd open them up and eat the filling first (or save it for last, because it was the best part of the cookie).  My second thought was - I bet these would be good half dipped in chocolate.  I decided to test that thought.

I had committed to making the recipe before I realized I was low on powdered sugar.  So I made a half batch - which was 19½ sandwich cookies.  Trust me, that half a cookie got the full measure of filling.  Yum!

I don't know if it was because I skimped on sugar or that I used whole wheat flour, but my cookies ended up a whole lot puffier than the ones pictured.  I will need to flatten them a bit, or somehow compensate when I make these again.  It's rather comical - one needs to be able to take a big bite to eat these.  But they rapidly disappeared, so it was a challenge we both accomplished.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Passes Inspection?

I fell in love with this bright blue and green fleece when I purchased fleece for the upper levels.  The light color wasn't good for bedding - it would always look dirty.  However, a half yard needed to come home with me.  After some debate, it became a hammock, a cozy and a fleece forest. 

I haven't made hammocks in ages.  I based this design on a hammock a friend gave the pigs years ago, with some new hooks to try out.  I was pleased by the results but the real test was when I put it in the cage.

What do you think?  That looks to me like the stamp of approval.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Ginger Nut Clusters

Years ago my cousin gave me Chocolate (Practical Cooking) as an Easter present.  Several recipes in the book were earmarked to try for candy making.  Uh-huh.  I'm still not sure who the true recipient was of that gift.  Still - I've really liked most of the recipes including one savory stew (yes, with chocolate!).  There are still several recipes I want to try - one of these days I'll get to them.  But I think this one recipe for Ginger Nut Clusters was worth the book.  It was everyone's favorite from the first time we tried it.

On the surface, it's a strange combination:  graham crackers, cashews (we swapped out the original macadamia nuts), candied ginger and white chocolate, dipped in dark chocolate.  There's a lot of different texture and the unexpected zing of the candied ginger.  They're easy to make, and their lumpy asymmetrical shape is pleasing change next to all the round truffles.  I am torn between inhaling these or hording them after Easter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I Like Thursday: Baking

I like to bake.  Well, I like cooking in general.  It's a form of creativity and there's a tangible product at the end.  Not only that, most failures are still edible, even if they're not presentable to a larger public.  Plus, the act of baking can be good for you.  Imagine that!

I like cookies.  I tend to do small cookies.  There's less guilt eating one.  The drawback is that often one isn't enough, and suddenly I've eaten five.  On the other hand, small ones are good for sharing at gatherings, especially if I have more than one type of cookie.  My current favorite is Brownie Batter Cookies, followed by Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Rob's favorite is Biscotti.  (Which reminds me - I need to make a batch of those soon.)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hay Rack Feedback

I had lots of little fleece scraps that were too small to make cozies or even a hammock.  So I threw together a couple of hay racks based on a design I created last year.  I've liked mine - but I'd like opinions from others.  Do you think your guinea pigs would use a hay rack like this?  Would you be willing to try it out?

I'm looking to trade hay racks for feedback.  I'll send you a hay rack, try it out, then tell me what you and your pigs like/dislike after using it for several weeks.

If you are interested in participating, please pick a color:  yellow, floral, teal or blue/green and eave a comment here or on the Cavymadness Facebook page.  If you leave a comment here, be sure you are not a no-reply blogger or include your email address in the comment.  I'll pick a few people on Tuesday, April 25th and send them out.  Thanks!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Candy Making 2017

No one would guess looking at our kitchen today that 24 hours ago there was chocolate and confections spread across every horizontal surface and most of the utensils and bowls.  There was a constant chatter of conversation, a stack of bowls and spatulas that needed to be washed and used again, plus a pair of guinea pigs that managed to sleep through most of the hubbub.

All signs of a successful day.

My usual candy making crew showed up; we were in full swing by noontime.  The recipe list was most of the usual, too:  butter creams, mint Oreo truffles, peanut butter balls, cookie dough truffles, ginger nut clusters, paves, straw baskets and toffee. 

We had one new addition - pumpkin cheesecake truffles.  I had a half cup of frozen pureed pumpkin I had roasted in November, which was too small for cookie or bread recipes.  As I pondered what to do with it, I rediscovered this Halloween themed recipe I had bookmarked, and rolled it into the Easter lineup.  Everyone really liked these; they've been put on the list for next year.  We dipped the truffles in white chocolate, which was nice, but I bet they'd be good in dark chocolate.  We'll try that next year.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Like Thursday: Spring Cleaning

I had piles of scrap fleece after making new bedding for the guinea pig cage.  Then there's all that fabric I brought home from the Tea.  Heaps all over the sewing room table and chairs.  It needed to go.  I hadn't even finished sewing the label on Confetti when I started cutting fleece.

I like to see scrap fabric become a stack of finished cozies, pig pillows, hay racks and hammocks.  Three different piles of fleece have dwindled to a handful stuffed into a corner of a drawer.  I also got to use some of my quilting stash - fabric I was bored with or that really didn't go with anything else.  So satisfying to use it!

I like the two shopping bags - and finished in time to be handed off on Saturday.  There was very little salmon fabric, so I couldn't do the full swap of bag and handles as I intended.  I kept the blue fabric for handles on the salmon bag since I love the combination.  I dug out my trusty pastel floral print for the blue bag's handles.  Not as stunning, but it works.

I like making mug rugs.  I managed to squeak out four of them from the shopping bag leftovers.  I'll be backing them in the next fabric and binding in the pastel blue.  I hope to have them done by Saturday, too!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Confetti - A Celebration

Confetti was gifted to my cousin's new baby girl on Saturday.  Rob named it - I think it captures the movement and the color so well.  My cousin was thrilled; I hope baby will enjoy it when she gets old enough to notice.  This is one of my bigger baby quilts at 40" x 48".  It's large size should make it versatile over the years. 

I had a different pattern and different fabric picked out for this baby quilt that I just couldn't get to work together.  As often happens with my quilts, it took on a life of its own.  I grabbed a pile of fabric and had my sister help pick colors.  I settled on a wonky block design and started sewing.  I really wasn't sure how it would turn out until I made 30 blocks and placed them on my design floor.  Behold!  Except for a few adjustments on four blocks, they worked well together.  I liked the overall effect.

Randomizing is always more difficult than it sounds.  But stitching them together was easy, since they all cut to the same size.  Sure I groused about some of the blocks, but this quilt was so much easier to assemble than the tree quilt.   Wonderful! 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hiding in Plain Sight

Wedgwood managed to burrow under the little bit of hay there was on the third level.  Not sure how she managed that - I'd have thought that a few  strands like that would just get pushed around.

She thought she was well hidden until I tried to get an overhead shot and caused a pig panic.  Sorry, Wedg.

Later I found her in the tunnel.  Covers her a lot better, although I could find her easily enough.  That tunnel is a favorite, more than any of the cozies.  If it's in the cage, she's usually in it.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I Like Thursday: Silly Stuff

I like silly things and there was a variety of foolishness over the weekend.

I like the turkeys in the back yard.  I'm not happy that they're clearing out the bird feeder (or leaving "presents" on the deck).  However, they are entertaining to watch and I can't help but laugh at their antics at the feeder.  At least do less harm to the feeder than the raccoons.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

No, Not Nail Clipping!

Nail clipping.  Everyone's favorite day.


I have a nag message that pops up every two weeks to clip nails, but it often gets ignored another week or three.  I know clipping often keeps the quick short and the nails will not get so curled.  However, no one seems to mind if we're a few weeks late.

In the past, my bad guinea pigs were threatened with the stew pot.  I threaten Boadicea and Wedgwood's bad behavior with nail clipping.  I would say both threats are equally effective... which is to say that they're not.  However, I actually follow through with the promise of nail clipping on occasion.  I had an opportunity to do that on Sunday.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Upper Fleece

geckos and flowers
I recently bought new fleece for the upper levels of Boadicea and Wedgwood's cage.  As usual, they don't match any of the first floor fleeces.  At least they don't clash as much as some combinations.  I'm positive the geckos will be excellent at hiding poo and hay.  The ice blue flowers should blend in with most of the lower level colors.

New fleece is fun, but I am kind of bummed out.  Some of my favorite fleece shrunk or had worn through in spots, even though there was still plenty of nap left.  I retired the teakettles late last year (oh, woe!); I could not quite stretch it over the coroplast to keep it in place.  Today it's the rooster print, which was such a great color.  I've stashed it away as backup (there's barely enough to clip into place), because I'm not ready to part with it.  I bought those back in the day of Pinniped and Bertie.