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New bird bath

We added this a few weeks ago. We still haven’t seen a single bird use it, even in today’s 106-degree heat! I think they are holding out for a bird feeder.



Birds & bugs

I couldn’t get into my dashboard to post for a few weeks…apparently my WordPress login page got locked down due to brute force attacks. I thought it would just get reset by itself, but I had to change some code. Thank goodness my web host has idiot-proof instructions! Just wish it had been a little clearer that the issue would not resolve itself.

Here are some critter photos from Father’s Day weekend at my parents’ house. Still working on my hummingbird shooting — I’ll get a really good one eventually! Don’t miss the hummingbird taking a bath in the sprinkler, after the jump.


Continue reading Birds & bugs

Yard makeover

When we moved to Houston, I really wanted a little yard. It didn’t have to be anything big, just a patch of grass to call our own. Having previously owned a townhouse in a four-season climate where the HOA maintained the grass, I guess I didn’t realize what I was asking for. Houston has two seasons: summer and the three months between summers. This means the grass grows like crazy, it’s too hot outside to enjoy the yard much of the year, and someone has to suffer through trimming it each week of summer. Many people hire a lawn service, but our yard was too small to be worth it.

Finally we decided that we might as well turn it into a low-maintenance space that we would actually enjoy. It took four days of hard work, but the results were worth it! We’re looking forward to watching the plants grow, and I’m especially looking forward to photographing the critters that find them.

Before:1 before

After:2 after

Follow the break to see the whole process!

Continue reading Yard makeover

Chasing critters, May 2013 edition









amber butterfly bench

A portrait of the artist as a young insect

Sweet Mari-line


There is a kitty-shaped hole in the family now that Marilyn, my sister’s oldest kitty, is gone. He was the sweetest, friendliest kitty I’ve ever known.


I remember when he and his brother were tiny kittens, running and climbing all over Heather’s Manhattan apartment. It wasn’t unusual to find them in the upper kitchen cabinets or on top of the fridge. When he was older and was recovering from a surgery necessitated by eating too much styrofoam, Heather brought him to NJ during a visit to my apartment. Despite a zipper belly full of staples, he still managed to get up on top of my 55-gallon aquarium.


After the aquarium incident, I put him in the bathroom for the rest of the night. When I checked on him the next morning, he was gone. One door, one closed window, and the cat had just…disappeared. My sister’s favorite cat, gone. After I had a heart attack, I finally checked the under-sink cabinet and found him there, quite content. It must have taken some effort to get in there.

Marilyn and Pooh

Marilyn was very old, and had some health scares this year, like when the stress of moving for the second time in a year taxed his frail little body, but he always bounced back. Unfortunately this time was different, and Heather determined the most loving thing she could do was let him go.


Goodbye, sweet Marilyn. You were a king among cats and will be keenly missed for many years to come. Please tell Julia I miss her, too.

Late to the party

So I heard it’s 2013? Oh, for a while now, you say? I was too busy to notice, what with being chained to my desk. Fortunately that means I’m still employed, and doing lots of good stuff. This year I’ll be sending dispatches from glamorous places like Milwaukee. I’ve never been to Milwaukee, but I hear they have good pretzels.

Seriously, this year is flying already. Every week I think, “If I can just get through this week…” and by Friday I’ve already got every hour of the next week planned. I want to make room to blog again, so bear with me (she says for the fifth entry in a row).

I did get to do some relaxing recently when I visited my family to belatedly celebrate my sister’s birthday. She brought me some little Siamese cat figurines that she had accumulated and told me to take any I wanted:

I took the three that our mom thought might have been hers as a kid, and brought them home for Sweet Pea to examine:

Cute, right? Except, if you know cats, you have already figured out that what she was really sniffing was where the treats had been. Here is the exact moment she figured out that there weren’t any more, and decided she was done with this little exercise:

Four obsessions for December 2012

Four things I’m loving right now:

1. Silver and copper cherry blossom jewelry from etsy seller HapaGirls (ring, $35, earrings $30)

I’ve been wearing the ring almost every day.  I usually wear large earrings, but these are perfect when I want something more subtle, and I love cherry blossom anything.

2. Bumble & bumble Color Minded UV Styling Balm ($28/4.2 oz)

If you’re wearing the red hair you should have been born with, try this to keep it in place.  I tried Aveda’s color care product and wasn’t impressed, but since I started using this, my stylist always comments how well the color has held up 6-8 weeks out.

3. Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural, N45 ($19)

Sephora describes this color simply as ‘red,’ but clearly it’s a fuschia red.  But what’s remarkable about this lipstick is that it doesn’t dry my lips.  I tried to make MAC work for years before finally realizing that all of their lip products just dry me out.  Lipsticks, glosses, all of it.  But this formulation feels like a balm — I could wear it every day.  Best $19 I’ve spent this year.  (Well, $15.20 — I waited for Sephora’s VIB sale!)

4. The music of Gin Wigmore

I guarantee you’ve heard her music on commercials in the last month — Heineken, Lowe’s.  I downloaded everything I could get and she earned permanent rotation in my car for about four weeks straight.  One of my favorite artists to come along in a very long while.  I’d tell you which songs are my favorite, but I can’t narrow it down to fewer than five.

New favorite spot

…for the next three weeks, I predict.

San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

From a visit a few weeks ago.

Continue reading San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden

Custom everything

We always talk about having some of my photos printed to hang in the house, but we’ve only managed to pull the trigger a couple times.  Fortunately I had just sorted through my favorite Glacier photos when CanvasPress had a 50% off sale for Labor Day!  We may have gone a little overboard, but I’m happy to have so many of my photos reminding me of an amazing vacation.

They came out great — if you want to create your own art, I highly recommend signing up for CanvasPress’s emails, because they often have great flash sales around holidays.  The best strategy is to already have a folder of the photos you want to print, because the pressure of having to make a decision quickly has paralyzed me many times.

The other thing I wanted to do is create note cards from my prints.  I threw in a sheet of matching postage for a finishing touch!

(If you want some of my cards, you can order them directly from my new Zazzle store!  Send me a comment if you want me to offer a different product!  I hope to add more photos over time.)