Thursday, November 27, 2014

Random rodent ramblings (FD)

Some amusing rodent antics, and other random rodent related thoughts.


We often hear squeaking coming from the rodent cages, since the degus are quite talkative, but when we heard some squeaking coming from over there recently, and Kelly went to look at who it was, he saw Baggins opening and closing his mouth, apparently squeaking. This was strange - and a little worrying - because gerbil squeaks are usually too high pitched for the human ear to detect; except some distress calls. However, closer inspection showed us we had nothing to be worried about. Turned out it was one of the degus squeaking, and Baggins was just opening and closing his mouth in time with the degu's squeaks.


During feeding time the other day, Bilbo came to see what was for breakfast before we had his bowl back in the ring that holds it in place on the side of their cage. On seeing the lack of bowl, he grabbed on to the ring with both paws and started shaking it. He kept it up - getting rougher and rougher with his shakes - until we were lowering the bowl in to place, then promptly climbed in to the bowl as if to stop us removing it again.


Rats and degus both make cute noises when grooming each other. The degus make a sound almost like a purr, and the rats make soft squeaking sounds. It's really cute to listen to.


The weather's been quite cold most of the time lately. Well, cold to the UK, which is just bearly chilly to many countries. But, anyway... We put blankets over the cages on cold nights to help keep the rodent gang warm. Luckily we use old blankets, because there are several holes in them; even the one for the rats, which has only been used a couple of times, already has a couple of small holes in it. Sometimes they seem to just make enough of a tear that they can see out, but a couple of times the degus have torn out pieces of blanket, and we've found them in their nesting box.


While watching the rats play the other day, Kelly saw Star reach up to the next level of their cage - where Skye was stretched out - to be pulled up by her sister instead of jumping or climbing up herself.


Skye's generally a very nervous little girl, who spends a lot of time hiding. But if she smells something cooking with cheese - like pizza, for example - her twitching nose will appear almost before you can say "melted cheese"... Star's nose appears even faster, but she's often out of hiding to be sociable and get attention, so you don't notice it as much, if you know what I mean.


When we put fresh sand in the degus' sand bath, they dive in to it like a child jumping in to a pile of leaves.


The gerbil cage is between the degus and the rats. The degus often like to go over and check out the gerbils. Now Star and the gerbils are trying to figure each other out too. Skye doesn't seem to have noticed her neighbours yet, but Star is very interested in what those little guys next door might be, and Bilbo and Baggins are curious about her too. I'm not sure how well the degus and rats can see each other, but we have also spotted degus looking over towards the rat cage, while Star stares back in their direction, even when the gerbils are asleep in their burrows, so they might also be checking each other out.


Star no longer attempts to eat our fingers, but instead grabs them and alternates between giving a gentle nibble and licking. I think she's trying to groom our fingers; she's very gentle when she does it.


Gave the rodent gang some short sticks of wood to chew on. Mostly they just settle down to chew on them, but Star held hers in her front paws while bouncing about from one ledge to another in her cage before she settled down to chew it.


One of the rat toys is a wooden toy with a bell in it. Skye mostly ignores it, but Star seems to like it; we often hear the soft jingle noise of the bell as she rolls it around in the cage.


When we got the degus their new cage in September, one of the things we got them for it was a rope and wood climbing toy. The toy has chains at the top, which we used to attach it to the roof of their cage. The degus have mostly pulled it apart, but they can't quite figure out how to remove the last piece of wood - which was once the top bar where the climbing net was attached - from the chains. One of them (Jenks, I think) is determined to do it though, and keeps trying. I could help him, but trying keeps him busy, and gives him something to puzzle out, so I'm leaving him to it.


One of the degus keeps pushing a toy under the wheel to stop it spinning when one of his brothers is running on it. I'm sure it's on purpose.


That's all for today. I should have some photos of the girls to show you soon. And a few new ones of the boys too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lonely Little Princess - Officially released

"All the mice of the castle were very happy, until Princess Hazel became sad. Nobody can figure out why she’s so sad; she has everything a mouse princess could ask for. But nothing seems to make her happy. That is, until an orphaned little field mouse named Ffern arrives. Now it looks like there may be a way to make everyone happy once again."

This is my new book, which is officially released today.

This book is a re-write of a story I wrote almost nine years ago, as a bed time story for a little girl who was seven years old at the time. I actually posted the original on this blog a couple of years ago. The published version has been re-worked a lot, and edited better, though you can still find and read the original among my old blog posts if you really want to.

Anyway, you can already buy "Lonely Little Princess" from Smashwords in all formats they offer, as well as from a few other ebook retailers.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rat chat (FD)

Christmas is five weeks away, and everyone is at least starting to think about it, if they haven't already done more than that. Also, people's thoughts are turning to what they'd like for Christmas.

A few years back I mentioned on here about wanting a lion. I know it's not a realistic wish, but I like lions. I know I couldn't provide one with what it really needs, and a lion is a wild animal that belongs out in the wild and not in captivity. But knowing that doesn't stop me wanting a pet lion.

There is another pet I've wanted since I was a child that I only haven't had because first my Mam and then Kelly insisted there was no way I could have it though... Something other than a lion, I mean.

A rat.

Now, I know there will be people who wonder why I would want a pet rat, because rats have bad reputations. But rats are generally very clean and intelligent creatures, and their social nature makes them very friendly. These things combined make them fantastic pets.

I've wanted a pet rat since I was about nine or ten, and my brother, Carl, has wanted one for as long as I can remember. But neither of us could convince Mam to get us one.

I was having just as little luck with convincing Kelly... Until now!

A litter of female rats managed in like ten seconds to achieve what I've been trying to for more than ten years: convince Kelly that rats are cute.

The result was that two of them became early Christmas gifts for me.

They're of the variety of rats known as Brown Rats, though they're actually a colour called Berkshire Pearl, which is a silvery grey with white tummies. One of them also has a white marking on her forehead, which is called a blaze on a rat, but would be called a flame or star on a horse. It's that marking that helped us to name them...

The one with the marking on her forehead is called Star, and her sister is called Skye, which means cloud.

Neither have really attempted to bite, though both have checked the edibility of our fingers; Skye a bit more roughly than Star, though neither hard enough to draw blood. Star is more outgoing than Skye, and will already allow me to pick her up almost every time I try to (bearing in mind we've had them less than a week). Skye is much more nervous, but will allow me to pet her a little from time to time. Both of them will take food from us, though Skye is more hesitant about doing so than Star is.

They appear to have a fondness for cheese, pumpkin seeds, and dry pasta. Although, they haven't actually refused any food we've provided as yet, and aren't as picky as the degus and gerbils about which parts of their proper food they eat; the gerbils will pick through their gerbil mix, the degus will toss anything they don't want out of their cage, but the rats appear happy to eat everything that makes up their rat mix.

Don't worry, we aren't forgetting the degus and gerbils; if the girls get something, the boys do too... Though - in the degus' case especially - it's sometimes something different. Even down to the fact they got some new toys when I went back to the pet store with Kelly to get some toys and things for the rats.

The boys are curious about them, and often try to get to a spot in their own cages where they can see the girls. They - the degus especially - are also making a point of showing us that they're cute and like to be petted and hand fed too, which is both cute and amusing.

We've taken some photos, but haven't grabbed them off the camera yet. Hopefully soon!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gerbil photos - November 15th 2014 (FD)

Time for some gerbil photos!

Here's Baggins by the gnawing block:

Bilbo's a bit camera shy sometimes, but Baggins is always ready for a photo, so waits impatiently in the background for an oppertunity to pop up in front of the camera...

Hi Baggins!

If you want to get a photo of Bilbo, your best bet is to bribe him with some nibbles. Cheese or pumpkin seeds work best, since they're his favourites.

Both of the gerbils like to meet up with the degus at the point where their cages are side by side. They have little rodent chats; it's really cute! They seem to be good friends... Perhaps they like to do it so much because both species are very sociable? Anyway, here's Baggins chatting to one of the degus:

Those are all the gerbil photos I have for you today.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Degu photos - November 14th 2014 (FD & kinda LBE)

I've got a few new degu photos to share today.

First, here are a couple of the degus enjoying the coconut shells I gave them after making the coconut cake I made from scratch back in September:

"Mmm... Nibbles!"

Here's the degus' latest cage:

We've had to make some changes to the layout since We added another hammock, and had to move things around so their bowls were on the bottom level because they thought it was great fun pushing them off and watching the food go everywhere. But you get the idea.

Here's one of the boys by one of the bowls before we moved them:

"Mmm... This wooden shelf tastes pretty good!"

One of the degus is obsessed with a wood and rope climbing toy we got them, which is designed for rats. He thinks it's very tasty!

Here's one of the boys on the wheel:

And here's one of them diving in to the sand bath:

And here are all four of the boys in their new cage:

Just before we got the new cage, we moved the degus and gerbils closer to the heater so they could benifit from the heat better when it started to get really cold (which it did not long after we moved them, and the weather's not been all that warm since). Judging by how they like to sleep on one of their ledges - right where they'd benifit most from the heater's heat - I'd say the degus approve.

They also very much approve of the hammocks I made for them.

I made the hammocks using wash cloths with small holes cut in the corners to thread the rings of keyrings through. The keyring rings are what are then used to atatch them to the bars of the cage. I got the idea from the one Luna had.

Anyway, here are a couple of photos of three of the degus just hanging out and enjoying the heat from the heater on a chilly morning:

OK, so I had more than a few degu photos to share, LOL!

Thursday, November 13, 2014


This is Jo-Jo, Josepi, or simply Jo.

Though you may not know it to look at him, Jo will be 29 years old this Christmas.

Every child has that one special toy, and Jo-Jo is mine.

I got him for my second Christmas, and all through my childhood he went with me everywhere I was allowed to take him. He was a part of the family; treated as much like a real baby as a doll can be, and even had his own stocking and gifts every Christmas.

That is, until he was packed in a box for a move when I was 15, and got put in the attic.

But now he's been rescued from his box in the attic, and given a new outfit!

Trust me, he really needed the new outfit. What he was wearing wasn't new when he got it, and didn't do too well in the attic. Most of his clothes were either brought new for him, or given to me for him in "as new" condition by people who had babies who had outgrown them before they wore them much, but some of his stuff wasn't in the best of condition when I got it, and - of course - it had to be one of those outfits he was wearing when he went in the box. We got him a whole new outfit a few weeks back though, which you can see on him in the photos at the top of this blog post.

He won't be going everywhere with me like he did when I was a child, but at least he won't be shut in a box in the attic any more. And now he even has his very own blog post!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Today is a day set aside for remembering.

It's officially meant to be for remembering those brave men and women who gave their lives in the hope doing so would keep the rest of us safe.

I've got others to remember today too.

One is my beloved West Highland White Terrier, Keroberous, who left us to make his journey across the rainbow bridge three months ago today. Even though it's been three months, not a day goes by without me thinking of him, and without my heart aching over losing him. Kero was more than just a dog to me; he was my best friend.

The other is my landlord, who died at the very end of October. We didn't know him well, but he'd talk to us whenever he saw us, and was a very nice gentleman with a friendly attitude and a great love of animals. He turned 90 years old a couple of months ago, and had been unwell for a while, so it wasn't unexpected. But losing someone is never pleasant, no matter whether it was unexpected or not, and no matter how well you knew them.

I also know others who have lost someone recently; whether it be someone close to them, or someone they hardly knew. Every loss is a difficult loss. So, while I will remember those brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for us, I will also remember the other losses; recent or otherwise. Because everyone deserves to be remembered!

May those we have lost rest in peace; secure in the knowledge that their memory will live on, even though they're gone. And may those who are left behind find the strength to keep going; even when doing so feels like an almost impossible task!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crafty update - November 10th 2014

I don't have much to update you on with crafts this time. But here's what I've got to share...

Here's a card I made to put a note in when I sent something to Rita recently. I thought it would be nicer than just a plain note.

This card I made for a very good friend of mine, who had his birthday at the start of November:

And here's the card I made for our niece, Tamara, who had her birthday at the end of October:

I did also finnish making the blanket I was making myself. But I keep forgetting to get Kelly to help me sort photos of it. He'll take the photos as soon as I remember to ask him, I'm sure, LOL! Anyway, I'll get pictures at some point, and post them when I can. But, hey, at least I finnished making it in time for the cold weather, so we both have a new knitted blanket to curl up under this Winter. With how chilly it's gotten already, we need them too!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Halloween photos 2014 (FD)

Yeah, I know Halloween was over a week ago, so I'm a bit late with these. But here are my Halloween decorations for this year anyway. Better late than never, right?

I've had these masks a couple of years, but this year I used some sticky tape and googly eyes to give these masks eyes, and then added tongues using some craft felt and more sticky tape. The kids who came trick-or-treating thought it was great.

While looking in my craft box for my googly eye collection, I found this large foam maple leaf. I thought it would be a nice addition to our Halloween decorations, so made a hole in the top to thread some string through to hang it up. Well, actually it's wool I used to hang it up, since I only remembered after cutting the wool that I do actually have some string in one of my craft boxes.

Kelly painted this bat for me a couple of years ago.

I bet this year's Mr. Pumpkin-Head felt very important to be put in charge of the "beware" sign by the gate, and greet the trick-or-treaters as they arrived. I'm sure he loved all the comments about him from children and adults alike.

Here's a close up of this year's Mr. Pumpkin-Head:

I didn't get a photo of it, but I made pasta with pumpkin sage sauce and cheese for dinner the day I carved Mr. Pumpkin-Head.

Anyway... That's all folks... Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Winter is coming... It's time for a giveaway!

Winter is coming, the weather is getting colder, and book lovers are preparing to curl up with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate beside the fire, or in their favourite reading chair.

If you're one of those people, you should head on over to Random Smiles and enter the "Winter Is Coming" giveaway!

If you do, you could win copies of books by myself and many other awesome authors!

That's right! Just go to and you could be reading a pile of free books this Winter!

Complete giveaway details can be found on the post I just linked to.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Random ramblings - November 4th 2014

Today is Iggy's birthday, so... Happy birthday, Iggy!


We had an excellent storm early hours of this morning. We've had a few decent ones, but this one was quite impressive. Of course, what I'd really love is some of that snow that some parts of the US and Canada already seem to be getting. Don't get me wrong, I love a good thunder storm. I can't help being jealous of the people who have snow already though!


We had 11 kids show up for trick-or-treating this year: 2 zombies, 2 skeletal ghouls, 2 princesses, a werewolf, a goblin, a ghost, a witch, and a cat. Not too bad, but I'd have liked to have had a few more. They all loved the pumpkin I carved though, so that's pretty cool. Should have some photos of my pumpkin and our other few Halloween decorations, but they're still on the camera (along with all those other photos I mentioned; one day we'll get to them, honest).


It's time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), butI'm not bothering with it at all this year. Last year I used NaNoWriMo to give myself a nudge to sit down and finnish the stack of half written stories I had, but I don't have that problem this year. In fact, I recently pre-released one called "Lonely Little Princess" that I hadn't planned to be done with until early next year, will be pre-releasing one called "The Forgotten Angel" very soon, and am just doing the final edits of "Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt" too. The three titles I just mentioned will be available in late November, December, and January respectively. I'm also quite a way through work on a story called "Isabelle's runaway Racehorse" and have started work on the book I'm doing for Bilbo and Baggins (our gerbils). Oh, and I have a poetry collection just about sorted ready to be published early next year too. So, yeah, I don't really need the nudge from NaNoWriMo this year; I have plenty on the go, but am doing just fine with actually sitting down and working on them. I even have covers for all the books I just mentioned, except the gerbil story; all but the one for "The Forgotten Angel" done by Iggy, actually. And I was just talking to Jacob this morning about covers for a series of books with faerie dragons in them, which I have some scribbles for already, and will be working on properly soon.