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June 29, 2009
What's your excuse? I used the 'I'm too tired' one this morning. Though, my eyes were quite heavy the entire day.
I wish, when you decide to change or do something, it was just simple and it happened. I wish that if I said, tomorrow I am going to be peaceful and not angry, I'd be that way. I wish tomorrow that I would have more patience. Instead of slipping into the same way circumstances of every day, that I'd take a step do be different, to improve.
Such a hard thing, to work on being something better. Someone better. How easy it is to get into fall back into a circle. Or oval. Instead of stepping outside of the box.
I quit Facebook a little over a week ago. It was an impulse/slight internal desire. And, other than wondering what some people are up to, I feel ok with that. I joined Twitter for about two weeks, didn't Tweet, just to see what a few people I knew were doing, but deleted it too. I never really got the Twitter thing. The other annoying thing was that I started getting spam friend requests and so I deleted Twitter very quickly. Although, Thursday evening I did have the urge to get on Facebook to talk about Michael Jackson. Instead I refreshed Cnn.com about a zillion times until they finally said he was dead and not just in the hospital. Anyway, so Facebook went away because I was on it too much, aka: time suck.
29 is only 12 days away. I've spent 28 thinking about how fast my 20's went, how much I didn't do (I did a lot, just not what I expected to do), and worrying about where I should be in life or where I should be going. I want 29 to be about being happy with choices and paths we are taking. To just not worry about a stupid number. In talking with many people about this precarious age, I am certainly not alone. But, again, I want to step outside the box, and just be happy with it. And maybe finally do something about a dream or two.
On Pandora, you should really create a station for Edie Brickell or Neko Case. Mazzy Star is on both of the stations in regular rotation, and though I didn't really listen to them when they were in their prime, other than Fade Into You (cue 90's grunge, jeans and flannel), I am really glad to be hearing their music now. And as slightly embarassing, but not too much, I love Miley Cyrus' The Climb. Youtube it. Or just watch it, ignore some of the teen angst looking stuff in the video and focus on the lyrics. While you're at it watching the Half Blood Prince trailer. I'm tempted to re-read the book this week. I was angry at Twilight for pushing this movie back, until of course I watched Twilight, but I am really ready for this movie. It's been too long for Harry Potter!
On the Range
June 27, 2009
Phew! The last of the Montana pictures are uploaded! Wow, what a time consuming process! So, on the last day of my trip, my flight out of Missoula wasn't until 1pm. I could have slept until 9ish and just cruised back to deliver the car at 11am, but I got up at 6am. The sun was rising over the Mission Mountains when I got out of bed. After checking out I stopped at this great little coffee shop across the street. The shop is actually a shack/shed, which is reminiscent of snow cone stands in Texas. I didn't see any mainstream coffee shops, just these great little places that really served the best lattes for a cheaper price! I wish I could have brought them back to Florida. So, my reason for getting up early was to have enough time to drive through the National Bison Range. I actually got there before they were even open to pay, so I drove on through and paid on the way out. I highly recommend going if you are in the Polson area. The bison are cool, but there is just a lot of other wildlife that you might miss if you didn't go through.
Antelope...I was excited to see these. I'm probably crazy, but I want to pet their butts! That fur looks so soft!
I was nearing the end of the drive, speeding up a bit, when I noticed a piece of dead wood. I thought it over for a few seconds, put the car into reverse, looked in the 300mm and said, nope, that was an elk!
It was definitely a cool place. You have to stay in your car the majority of the time, but there were a few trails that were identified to go on, but I was in a bit of a rush. The drive takes about 2 hours.
Sipping some wine tonight, listening to Pandora and about to finish piecing together the t-shirt quilt. I decided, or rather Chris helped me decide that I needed Aggie fabric to back it. That's only available in Texas, so I will be putting in a call to mom about tracking some down. I had a fun little snooze with Leo earlier. He was being such a baby, curling up on me and cuddling. Goofy cat. My animals are pathetically adorable. Yes, crazy cat lady talkin'. ;)
I think I have some painting on the agenda for tomorrow. Or playing in paint at least. It was all over my hands last night!
Good and Bad
June 26, 2009
I'm thinking of adding some photos to my Etsy shop this weekend. Does anyone have an opinion on that? I'm actually afraid a bit. Not that I have anything to lose by doing it, but really the fear of not selling anything, which is an entire possibility because Etsy is now so large. I am going to sort through some photos and come up with 10 that are worthy of putting up. I think they will be unmatted and just signed on the photo somewhere. Probably 8x10's and 11x14's for now. We've had people tell us we should sell, but it isn't that easy. Just thinking...
Chris says hi! Do you know how hard it was to get this shot? I had to shoot quick, forgot to expose it right, it came out super over exposed, so I had to convert to b/w. He really should pose for shots more often.
Summer Interview Series 04: The Whitlocks
June 24, 2009
When I decided to do the interview series in May, my brother was one of the people I wanted to interview. He started blogging again earlier this year. Probably five or six years ago he had another journal but it soon dissappeared. I'm glad he is back! My sister in law, Stephanie, posts sometimes, though certainly not enough! The up side is I get to see snippets of my niece Zoe growing up. It was a bit difficult for me to come up with questions. I mean, this is my little brother, the one who enjoyed punching my arm in highschool, the one that let me put makeup on him 'cause I didn't have a sister to do that (thanks bro!), and the brother who played a mean game of backyard baseball.
You two embarked on a new journey this year. What has been the best thing about becoming a parent? The worst?? Besides the poopy diapers!
Curtis: The worst thing for me is that at night time after Zoe has been put down to sleep and wakes up in the wee hours, she doesn't want me. She want's her mommy. During the day I can give her a bottle and feed her food and do all the parent things, but when it comes to night time she doesn't want anything to do with me. The best thing are the smiles. I'm proud to say that I was the one that got her to laugh first. Blowing on her belly and nipping at her knees seems to do the trick every time. When Stephanie is feeding her dinner I will always crack a grin over at her and she just gives me the biggest smile back.
Stephanie: I would have to say that even though I might complain or act frustrated sometimes, I don't believe that there is a worst to being a parent. It is amazing to watch Zoe grow and learn something new every day.
I wish sometimes there was a course or a class or something that helps teach you all there is to know. But then having a child would be boring! Every day is a learning experience for Curtis and I also. Sometimes we just look at each other and can do nothing but laugh. This has been the most AMAZING adventure. Being a mommy is definitely the BEST, most rewarding "job" there is!!
The garden seems to be a second home to you, Curt, and I feel the same sometimes. How do describe how you feel about being in the yard, the dirt in your nails? What do you like about watching the garden grow?
Curtis: It feels good. Especially after working all day. I'm like a kid just getting home from school throwing off my good clothes and putting on some play clothes and running back out the door in less than five minutes. It gets my mind off things. The dirt doesn't bother me. I love the feel of the grass blades between my toes.
Stephanie: I love watching the garden grow. Well actually I love watching Curtis in the garden. He is just like a kid in the candy store and it warms my heart to know that something so silly to some is so special to him. The way he takes care of the plants and talks to them it is almost like we have lots of little children! I have to wait until it gets dark outside to ask for help inside most days. He gets up on his days off and goes straight to the garden and tries to discover what grew overnight. I bet he can probably tell you how many inches something grew in the past couple of days. I am glad that we have a house and a yard so that he can have something to do that he is passionate about. It's funny to see him pose his fruit for a close snapshot so that he can have a memory of the items he grew. Also, I just LOVE eating the fresh fruits and veggies that we get to have.
What plant has been the most challenging to grow?
Curtis: Depends. Last year it was squash. This year it was the beets and more recently, tomatoes. The tomatoes this year are failing. I'm not sure if its because I tried you're method of growing them (in pots) or I didn't do it right. I just finished transplanting two of the tomato plants from 5 gallon buckets and put them in the ground where the lettuce was once growing. We'll see what happens. Other than that, nothing really. I just put some seeds in the ground and it grows.
What other hobbies do you two enjoy other than raising a rugrat and digging in the dirt?
Curtis: Backpacking. I'm in the middle of writing on my experiences from Philmont on my blog currently. It once was the thing always on my mind, backpacking, but has more recently been put on the back burner for those occasional trips. I've been wanting to start the crochet thing back up. Feminine, I know, but you and I both grew up around it. I have only really made one thing and it really didn't fit my head.
Stephanie: Right now all of my hobbies have been on a long hiatus because of Zoe. I love to scrapbook and create different things. I also love to quilt and I am wanting to finish a quilt I have been working on for something like 5 years.
Do you feel it is possible to live a life entirely off the grid, especially in the city? I know that you are interested in the Path to Freedom garden in California.
Curtis: I've been thinking on this idea for a while now, probably since we moved in to the house. Everything is possible if you have the pocket book for it. Solar panels or a wind turbine can cost a pretty penny. Wind turbines wouldn't be good in the neighborhood setting so you are left with the photovoltaic route. Stephanie, for the most part is always getting onto me for leaving the lights on. Its all about be self conscious about what your doing. We have thought about cutting the tv/internet service for sometime. We only watch tv at night time, just before putting Zoe to bed and the internet thing is the same way. Getting rid of it wouldn't be hard. Having a baby and being off the grid could be difficult, but just think back. There were still some people in the 30's that didn't have electricty and they made it just fine. Of course, they had a root cellar that kept things cool never grew up knowing any different. I've got cabinet above the dryer to store my 50 pounds of onions, kept cool by the compressor outside.
Growing up we both played in our grandmother's and great-grandmothers garden, as well as watching Dad mow the lawn every week. Do you think that has had any influence on your interest in gardening? Or was it something you fell into because you'd just bought a house?
Curtis: Stephanie and I got married and moved from the apartment to a house. I had responsibilities now. No more summers of hiking in the great wide open. Good song by Tom Petty also. So I started to look for some way to spend more time outside. I never really thought of growing food. I planted some flowers in the front yard and just kept mowing the grass. But mowing was just about once a week. So, that first winter I got thinking about growing food. Having never grown vegetables, I did some research on the 'net on when to plant certain veggies and started last February tilling a small plot (10ft by 10ft aprx) and planted some 'maters and peppers. Later last summer I planted watermelon that took off. I started reading up on Mel's "Sqaure Foot Gardening" method on growing more in less space and from there it just snowballed. I built the first raised bed and planted green beans and radishes. A month or so later, I made the second one and planted lettuce. Lettuce? I never would have thunk it. By August, I had come across the urban homesteading movement and Path to Freedom. There were tomatoes and peppers being harvested weekly and the green beans wouldn't stop growing. I learned how to can, and started preserving the bounty of beans. This last winter and proceeded in taking down the picket fence around the small plot and added the greenhouse and added eight more raised beds. 50 pounds of onions and 25 gallon sized plastic baggies of lettuce later, I'm glad that I spent those few moments playing in Granny's chicken coop & garden and Nan's garden, so that I would have that spark of, "Hey, they used to do it, why can't I?"
What creative outlets do you both enjoy, or wish to enjoy again someday?
Curtis: I used to sketch when I was in middle school. Mom found my old books that I left we I move out. I've thought about it. But, can you give me a 25th hour?
Stephanie: Someday I would like to enjoy music again. I used to play/peck the piano, self taught, and I would also sing. I would love to take piano lessons and someday buy some kind of piano for the house.
I also love to design things. Graphic design in high school was the best thing that I stumbled upon. I love researching and getting new ideas for a project I am working on. Someday I would love the opportunity to plan parties and get the creative juices really flowing.
Name the best thing about the moment that you are writing your response. (as in, the simplest thing that makes you happy right at that moment.)
Curtis: Zoe is asleep, and I'm listening to 'The Weight" by The Band.
Stephanie: Having the most wonderful family in the whole world!
All photos courtesy and copyright Curtis & Stephanie Whitlock. They can be found at The Whitlock Family where the garden and Zoe antics are plentiful!
June 22, 2009
The weekend after my trip to Montana we drove over to Sarasota for our anniversary. We first stopped at Corkscrew Sanctuary before making our way to Myakka River State Park to photograph the butterfly orchids, Encyclia tampensis, in bloom. We missed them by about a month last year, but they have clumps all over the park. We found a spot with enough low hanging orchids that we stopped to take photos. I had my work camera still so I was able to get some good shots. Chris was playing with his new ring flash and it was a grand old time, except for the mosquitoes at sunset.
Since Chris was working with the flash, I found a lower clump that had a few flowers with a red tinge to them. The sunlight coming through was amazing and I think I came up with some good shots.
The light started getting too low and I was having trouble with my photos blurring when I realized...hello, flash! I'm not a flash person, or I didn't used to be, but I set the flash on -2 and began shooting.
Chris had the macro lens and took this photo.
Hey, it's me! ;) Chris too more photos but hasn't processed them all yet. He got a lot of stunners. I have more photos from the trip to share, but like always, it will take some time. I have one more round of Montana photos to get around to, the summer interview series and the rest of Myakka and Selby Botanic Gardens to get to this week!
June 22, 2009
It is hot. As in, mix the humidity of Florida with the blatant heat of Arizona in the summer and what a mix. Wow. I also just went in my backyard and I couldn't find it. I think it was underneath the St. Augustine and other weeds that are a foot high. I did find my cowpeas growing well. A little each day and maybe I will see the garden again later this week. I thought it would help going out later in the evening, but no, not with the mosquitoes. Ick.
Aside from being on a Friends kick, not much is going on. I managed to cut some t-shirts, finally, for a t-shirt quilt. Perhaps I will get around to sewing it together this week. Still messing around with a painting and I think I just messed it up even more. Argh. I'm liking summer right about now, at 8pm, but that's about it. I hate the mosquitoes and I hate dripping in sweat while walking to my car. I admit, I get blogger envy when I see photos of those in cooler climates. I can pretend it was two weeks ago when I was in Montana (and where did the time go?) by showing you some photos of the rest of the trip.
On Tuesday I drove to Big Fork, which is about thirty minutes or so on the northeast side of Flathead Lake. It wasn't quite hopping yet with tourists, but I managed to get into a few gift shops, purchase some huckleberry flavored foods and eat dinner at a trendy/cute American restaurant.
Their main street had lots of spring plantings and I snapped botanicals. Like always. It wouldn't be me without flower photos.
That evening there was still a lot of clouds and rain around so the sunset that evening was really remarkable.
On Wednesday it was sunny and I attempted to try to find a hiking trail that one of the local people in my group had mentioned. I failed to find it, so I ended up at Finley Point State Park, which is a really tiny state park at the end of Finley Point. I walked around some the small 'trails'.
This bug fell out of a tree and at first I thought it was a bee, but it also looks like a horse fly. I couldn't decide and I'm too lazy to go looking it up. I was intrigued enough to get a photo, but creeped out enough I didn't stick around too long.
After dinner at the Smoke House, I was about to head to my hotel when I decided to keep on driving and see the back side of town. I ended up finding a dog park and then following the signs to Kerr Dam. They also had some trails there so I walked around a bit in the late setting sun.
On my way out I ran into a doe with two fawns. They were a bit frustrating because they didn't just bail off the side of the road. No, the kept walking forward. I just wanted to get by them! Then one of the fawns got separated and of course, climbed the south side of the mountain only to come back out on the road above me where I was going to eventually end up from a switchback. Gah! Finally, cute little fawn friend decided to hop back down to mom and sibling, but I was a little frustrated and worried for a minute.
On Thursday I decided to drive over the Mission Mountain range, past Big Fork and into Swan River National Wildlife Refuge. There are several national forests right around that so I just turned down a forest road and went for it. I had been told the area was thick with grizzlys so I didn't go hiking, mostly stayed around the car, but that doesn't mean I didn't scare myself when I heard noises in the woods.
At the refuge...
Aside from some birds I only saw two snakes. This one was very nice and didn't move when I walked on the boardwalk. There was a road to go down but it was flooded and I didn't have my boots so I didn't venture farther than the boardwalk.
My other snake friend!
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped to enjoy this sunset. That lake offers some great sunset opportunities! I happened to catch sunrise on Friday morning but didn't take any photos. Sunsets are much better in my opinion!
I Thought I Wanted To Do That...
June 20, 2009
I really thought I wanted to install Wordpress. I really did. I tried a couple of months ago and had a hard time. So harda time that I gave up. Then I finally read around more and found out I had to change server types or something on my host service and so I did that. The problem with all of this is that none of this is outlined on Wordpress' site. I had to dig around in forums and Google searches. A huge pain. But, once the server thing changed it was simple, simple to install. I threw my hands in the air last night at midnight when I saw the login page for wordpress come up. WOOHOO! And it was downhill from there. Editing themes and CSS...gahhhh! I am a simple html text editor and now I am having to read about migrating all of that and well, frankly, I don't know if I am interested anymore. I wanted to have a better commenting system and sorting system for my files, but I think I will just have to go break them down more and work it that way. I will have to settle for not being the cool kid on the block. Unless, of course, some techno-savvy person reading this blog knows a super simple and easy solution to my problem and can help me out. I don't want to use any of the themes on WP. I want my own stuff! A long time ago I took a course from the Budding HTML Guru's, (not that site, it wasn't a British site then, looks like the original site is down, and it was free), six or so years ago. I do not know this world of php and I remember deciding I hated CSS. And so, I think I will stick with HTML, as cumbersome as it is to upload my own RSS all the time and also look for a new commenting system. (Ooh, just found one. Trying it out at the bottom of this post. Lemme know what you think.)
I've been reading a book the past few weeks called Voyage of the Turtle. I started reading it a few months ago and finally dove into it more on my flight from SLC to Missoula two weeks ago. I really read a lot more of it last weekend on our way to Sarasota. What an awesome, awesome book! A long time ago before I got the religion of the Sea Turtle, I was a devout shrimp eater. My senior year of highschool I wrote an essay that was supposed to be about the Texas Gulf coast for a possible scholarship. I am sure I have it around in my files somewhere, but I think it had to do with shrimp boats and dolphins. Now, I was a completely ignorant dolphin hugger back then. I still love the image of a shrimp boat sailing, just as long as the nets aren't deployed. I went to college and learned about the destructive practices of shrimping and fisheries in general and decided not to eat shrimp. I've been pretty good since, I failed once by eating a shrimp in Galveston last year (it was from Casey's on the Seawall, I couldn't help myself!) and we tried doing the farmed shrimp thing, but shrimp farms from overseas are horrible, too. Anyway, this book has reaffirmed my devoutness to the Sea Turtle religion and my resolution not to eat any fish from restaurants unless I know one man with one rod and reel caught it. Or just encourage my husband to fish allll the time so I can have fresh fish. I don't think that would be a problem with him! Carl Safina discusses long lining and gill netting of the sea's fishes. Long Line description. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in science, nature and learning a lot about the marine environment. He travels all over the world, mostly in search of leatherback sea turtles, and goes to nesting grounds as well as out on boats with fisherman to get their perspective. It's much easier to change practices here, but overseas where subsistence fisherman are still trying to feed their families and live in poverty, its hard to change their practices. I have about 1/8th of the book left to finish. I saw two leatherback hatchlings three summers ago when the FMAS went to their annual turtle release with Miami-Dade county. I would love to see their cousins and/or possible momma hauled up on the beach and nesting, or better yet, out at sea swimming. carl Safina also has a blog here.
I'm anti-hiking at the moment...too hot and too many mosquitoes. I get enough of it at work, I don't want to be back out in it. So, while I was staying cool inside today Chris saw his sixth panther. And yes, that is a deer in the background. If you click the photo you can see Chris' write up about it. Basically, predator was stalking prey. Not sure if the prey got away...
He wasn't that close to the panther, these photos are cropped. See, when you have a 20 megapixel camera, you can do these cool things. And speaking of cameras I ordered the Canon T1i. Hoping it will be here this week!!!
Summer Interview Series 03: Kasie & The Art of Life
June 17, 2009
I found Kasie while blog hopping. I was on Kal's blog one day and was reading through her comments. I often find new blogs by clicking on the commenters instead of on blogrolls. I saw Kasie's blog and fell in love. A good mix of art and life and she is always so nice!! I think the key to forming friendships or bonds in the blog world is to keep commenting on blogs you enjoy and hopefully the other person reciprocates. Luckily, that's what happened here. I enjoy reading her blogs and they are always in the top five or ten that I hit immediately on my Google Reader when I see a new one up. Kasie is one talented artist as you will see below!
How long have you been painting and drawing? Do you have any special training, ie: college degree, art classes?
~Iíve been drawing since I was a very little girl. I remember playing outside and carrying around my sketchpad; trying to draw the trees, leaves, etc. Itís always just felt like a part of me.
~The first time that art class was offered in school was Junior High. (7th grade) From that year on I always took art class and worked to finish all of my required high school courses early so that I could take 2 hours of art my senior year. Oh how I loved having 2 full hours to paint, draw and just get lost in my work!
~After graduation I went to Oklahoma City Community College and got my Associates degree in Visual Arts. While I truly enjoyed college and feel that it helped me to grow as an individual, I do think itís important to say that I absolutely do not feel that a degree is necessary to be an artist. Iíve learned so much more about art in the time since college by studying and practicing on my own. I say that because there are people who would love to try their hand at art but are intimidated by the fact that they donít have any formal training. My advice is to dive right in! Scour the internet or library to find artists you love and study their work. Ask yourself what it is about those pieces that you love. There are many great teaching websites like Wet Canvas and Scribble Talk where artists share works in progress along with tips and advice. Thereís no wrong way to be an artist.
Medium: Fluid Acrylic
When I first started reading your blog you were into colored pencils. You have since migrated to acrylics and have really seemed to master them. What made you want to delve into this medium more?
~Colored pencils, more specifically Prismacolor colored pencils, have always been my true love in art. I was introduced to them by my high school art teacher but it wasnít until after college that I discovered the world of layering and ďcolored pencil painting.Ē I stumbled onto the work of Ann Kullberg and couldnít believe the depth and beauty that colored pencils could create.
~Prismacolor pencils are translucent, meaning that when you combine them in layers the colors will shine through each other and work together.
~So I began studying and learning all I could about working in colored pencil. I got the book ďColored Pencil Portraits Step by StepĒ by Ann Kullberg and spent a lot of time on forums like Scribble Talk.
~Colored pencil painting was the perfect medium for me because it plays to my love of details. Also, I had a very young daughter at the time and liked the fact that I could pick up and put down my pencils at any time without worrying about her getting into anything harmful like paint.
~SoÖwhy have I switched? Well, colored pencil is an absolutely legitimate fine art medium but because itís so new in the art world it sometimes takes a bad rap. I was getting frustrated with people saying that they loved my work and thought it was wonderful but once they found out it was pencil I would hear things like, ďbut Iíd rather have paint.Ē Grrrr, lol. Plus, my own style of art, which is highly detailed, was extremely time consuming to do in pencil. Some areas of my colored pencil portraits would have up to 20 layers and one small piece would average 40 hours of work or more. Add onto that equation that I was now the busy Mom of two little girls and it felt like I could never get any artwork finished. (I do want to mention that I have colored pencil artist friends who are able to work much faster than I do and who create amazing work. Check out Nicole Caulfield.
~The changing point came for me about 1 Ĺ years ago when I entered some of my colored pencil pieces in the State Fair. I did well and was pleased but I remember seeing my small colored pencil piece hanging right next to the much larger Best of Show painting. What amazed me was that we both had the same sense of style. And yet because this piece was a painting the artist was able to do it in a larger scale, add a background and frame it without glass, which makes a world of difference in presentation. I decided right then that I needed to try my hand at paint.
~My first attempt at a painting was a downright failure. I didnít even finish the piece and I was so depressed. I think the reason was that I was trying to paint in a way that was completely different than the way I worked in pencil and it just didnít click with my personality. So I attempted the painting again only this time I decided to try layering the paint in the same way that I used pencil. I added a glazing medium to the paints in order to make them more transparent. This method worked slightly better for me but I still wasnít happy. The finished painting didnít have the same look or style as my colored pencil pieces. At this point I was ready to give up paints for good.
~Then, for some reason I stumbled across a watercolor canvas at the art supply store. I donít know why but I decided to pick it up and give it a try. I also picked up some fluid acrylic paints. These two things were the missing pieces I was looking for. I was ecstatic about the way the paint glided across the canvas in thin smooth layers. I was able to layer in the same way that I had before. In fact I felt like I was doing the exact same type of work as before only I now had a brush in my hand instead of a pencil. And the plus side was that Iím now able to work larger and add backgrounds more quickly. My style of work is still slow and detailed but the overall piece is finished in much less time.
Medium: Fluid Acrylic
You have two adorable girls! They seem to be the inspiration for many of your illustrations and paintings. Do you have any other artistic influences?
~In high school I decided that I wanted to be a childrenís illustrator. Later, however, I decided that my style was much too detailed and time consuming for illustration work. So I went through a spell of doing wildlife art which is still a passion with me. I took a workshop with Luke Frazier and studied works by artists like Carl Brenders and Terry Isaac.
~When my oldest daughter was born I found it harder to truly study wildlife the way that is necessary to be a good wildlife artist. I was spending more of my time at the park or in the backyard.
~Motherhood also changed the way I viewed life. I felt so much joy in the simple little moments that I spent with my daughters and I wanted to share that feeling with others. Wildlife art has the goal of bringing awareness of the beauty of nature to others. I feel that my art has the goal of bringing awareness of the joy of everyday life and the love of family. Iím very influenced by the works of artists like Steve Hanks and Jim Daly.
How much time do you devote to art during the week? I know you volunteer with your kids classes a lot and seem to be very active in their lives. I know it must be hard to find a balance between the creative and doing all of the other obligations of life. How do you do it?? Any advice for other people trying to do the same thing??
~This is an area of life that is a constant work in progress for me. Itís one of the main reasons that I started my blog. I had been scouring the internet, trying to find other artists moms so that I could figure out how they do it. And I just couldnít seem to find much out there. So I started my blog and called it ďThe Art of Life~The Creative Journey of an Artist and Mom.Ē Thatís what it is for me; a journey and a learning experience.
~The time I spend on my art varies depending on the season of life weíre in. There are times when life is in a normal routine and Iím able to get more done. Then there are times when so much is going on that my art gets pushed to the side. Itís times like those that I have to stop and re-evaluate things because Iíve found that Iím a much better wife and mother when I make time for my art.
~My oldest daughter just finished 1st grade and my youngest has been active in things like music lessons and library. Iím very involved with their school and activities because I love it. But even this has been a learning process for me. Iíve had to learn that I canít volunteer for every program, activity, etc or Iíll never have time for art. Once again, itís just part of the journey.
~So I canít really say that I have any specific advice. I do know that every person out there has something that theyíre passionate about. For me itís art. And I feel that itís so important to keep that passion in your life no matter how busy life gets. I want to set a good example for my daughters of a woman who lives a life of passion; someone who cares for others and yet never lets her true self get lost in the shuffle.
It is possible to be an Artist and a Mom!
Medium: Fluid Acrylic
Your family is very important in your life...I can tell from the great posts about Dustin's bike races and the great wedding photos of your sister. How do they help you out creatively? Are they supportive of all of your ventures?
~I would be no-where without my family!! They are my anchor. Growing up my parents always encouraged me in my art. My Dad is an artist and so was my Grandma and my Mom is very creative. My sister is now a high school art teacher and my brother used to draw the coolest cartoons. My Mom helps me out by watching the girls if I need time to work on a piece and I know that I can always get opinions and thoughts on my work from my Dad.
~My husband, Dustin, is my biggest fan and greatest supporter. I could not do this without him! He believes in me more than I believe in myself. Heís such a great Dad and spends a lot of time with the girls. He knows when Iím needing art time and never hesitates to take the girls to the park or pitch in with the housework so that I can get that time. And he does all this while being very, very busy himself. Besides his full-time job heís also a cyclist and bike racer with a demanding training schedule. We support each other in our passions and work as a team. (All four of us!) I think thatís truly what being a family is all about.
You recently talked about the Eat Clean Diet and how it has changed your family's eating lifestyle. Tell me about some of the meals you make that are healthy and how you incorporate eating healthy on a daily basis. Share a recipe if you have one!! (plus, I know you bake some killer stuff.... ;) )
~As I mentioned before, my husband is a bike racer and racing is an incredibly physically demanding sport. It takes hours and hours of training every week. Although we felt like we were eating a fairly healthy diet before we decided to look into how nutrition affects athletic performance.
Weíve been reading and studying together and are now both whole-heartedly convinced that what you eat dramatically affects every part of your life. Some books and websites that I highly recommend are:
~Nutrition and learning more about it has become a new passion for both of us and weíre now working to help our daughters learn to love a clean eating lifestyle. (Basically eating whole, nutrient dense foods and staying away from processed junk.)
Hereís a really yummy whole wheat bread recipe that even our girls love:
Whole Wheat Bread
(found at www.cleaneatingmag.com which is another great website)
Combine remaining ingredients with dough and knead by hand or with bread maker until dough is sticky. Add additional warm water if needed. If kneading by hand, let rise for 30 minutes, knead again and let rise for 30 minutes. If using a bread maker, let rise once, then put it in standard bread loaf pan to rise for an additional 30 minutes until dough fills out loaf pan.
Bake at 350įF for 40 minutes. Slice to desired width and serve.
Recently you launched a website devoted to your art work. Where do you see this taking you in five years?
~My goal with my art is to continue to keep going. Iím working to build up my portfolio and hope to be selling prints in the near future. Life has also taken me in a circle and my dream of doing childrenís illustrations is now more possible than I ever thought. Iím enjoying taking it one day at a time and loving the journey!
What are some great websites and blogs that you visit daily? (I'm always looking for neat inspiration!)
~I find inspiration everywhere. My bloglines list is way too long and most of the time I have to skim through them quickly. I read a collection of different art, photography, nutrition, parenting, and dťcor blogs. I love to browse www.etsy.com and www.flickr.com and see the inspiring things other people make. Honestly though, Iíve found recently that I have to limit my computer time if Iím ever to get any painting time, lol.
Thanks so much for interviewing me! It was a lot of fun.
Kasie's work can be found at her website The Art of Life.
All photos are courtesy and copyright Kasie Sallee.
Thanks Kasie for participating! I really enjoyed reading your answers! If you have a question for Kasie, feel free to post it or you can visit her blog and drop her a line there!
I have one more interview for June and I am in the process of lining up interviews for July. This has been very fun for me and I hope for you too! Feel free to share the interview series on your own blog!
June 16, 2009
Well, I did finally make it home. I was in bed at around 4:30 am on Saturday morning...my plane landed an hour earlier. Because our new plane was configured differently they ended up switching people's seats around and after moving one place, the flight attendent eventually moved me to row 1B. That my friends is first class! WOOHOO! Too bad I was extremely tired to even enjoy a glass of wine. I promptly pulled my hoodie up, covered myself and my head with the blanket and slept the entire flight. At least I had a little wiggle room. When we landed the attendents must've forgotten to latch the wine bottles down because they came crashing to the floor. I wonder if the back of the cabin freaked out?
Anyway, I basically didn't do anything at home until yesterday because we got up Saturday morning and drove to Sarasota for the weekend and for our 7th anniversary. I just got around to downloading and processing photos last night. And, it is going to take awhile to get through them all! So, I will share with you the Glacier National Park photos. Maybe tonight I will get around to some of the Flathead Lake and Polson photos.
My dad happened to have business in Kalispell so he flew into there while I flew into Missoula two hours south. We had thought we might have time enough on our layovers in Salt Lake to chat for a minute, but my plane was a few minutes late and he had to get to his gate. So, I drove an hour to Polson, checked into my hotel and then kept on driving up to Kalispell. Once I drove through Kalispell I was kicking myself for not flying into that city because it was awesome! I am sure Missoula was nice too, but I never got around to seeing anything other than the car rental place and the airport. After a quick snack from Wendy's we were on our way to West Glacier.
Once we arrived, it was fairly quiet. The season hadn't quite started yet, though there was a fair amount of tourists milling about. The Going-to-the-Sun road wasn't cleared all of the way yet, so we only made it up a certain portion. It was beautiful everywhere!
Probably the most intresting wildlife we saw upclose was this moose. We approached an area of congestion on the road and thought it might be a bear, which I did at first, too because the moose had its head in the water, but, nope, just a moose. Very cool, though. People gawk at alligators here, I gawk at moose. (I really wanted to type meese).
Can you spot the mountain goat? This is fully zoomed on my 300mm. There was a guy with a scope, just watching and letting tourists watch, and he had a good enough lens to really see the goat. Mountain goats were all over Mount Rushmore, very close up.
The water in Lake McDonald was very blue and we dodged rain showers the entire time. I forgot my rain jacket, of course.
We stopped at Trail of the Tall Cedars to walk on a very nice .8 mile boardwalk. The one thing that struck me was how rainforest like the forest was. Very green, dense, sweet smelling and moss covered. I loved it! The only thing missing were a few ground orchids, which I am sure exist somewhere in the park.
A really neat waterfall. If we'd had more time we could have taken the Avalanche Lake trail up, but we were short on time and rushing sunset and my drive back to Polson.
The road was closed at this point but open to bikes and hikers. We walked up the road a little ways and found a small trail leading down to the creek/river.
We would have likes to of poked around a bit more but again, time was creeping up on us, as was my stomach! Dinner!
My dad has backpacked twice through Glacier and my brother once. Both times have been great and they've really seen some backcountry parts of the park.
You can see the rest of the set here. Tomorrow is another interview and I hope to get more Montana pics up this week!
Ghost Orchid Time Lapse
June 12, 2009
So, I'm sitting here in the Salt Lake City airport and it is quickly turning into a trip I once took from Orlando to DFW, via Atlanta. It was early January and we had moved Chris to Florida for grad school. I still had to finish my last semester of college. When he dropped me off at the airport the news was showing a winter storm in Georgia but our flight was still a go. I could have waited until the next day but I chose to go on with my flight. When I arrived in Atlanta it was icy and a little snowy but we were supposed to take off on time. Until it was time to board, of course, and then the flight was delayed and then canceled. At night. And they didn't offer any hotels to anyone. So, I slept in the Atlanta airport and we didn't leave until the late afternoon the next day. It was not pleasant.
Now, here I am in Salt Lake and our flight was on time until of course we were supposed to board and then they said maintenance had to fix the plane. The word maintenance is never a good word. First it was 20 minutes. Next thing it was a four hour delay and pushing my arrival from nearly midnight into Ft. Lauderdale now to 3:15 am. Which means, sleep at 4am. Woo. Hoo.
Since Chris is picking me up from the airport I've been talking to him a lot since the plane was delayed. He let me know that the ghost orchid time lapse he'd been working on this past weekend was ready to go. We have a new Pentax waterproof camera that we set up in the swamp to photograph a ghost orchid opening. He put it together in a video. There is more of a description on the video on Flickr and you can click the video and it will take you there.
Well, only three more hours until I take off. Hopefully.
Summer Interview Series 02: Michelle & Life in East Texas
June 10, 2009
When I started thinking of people to interview for this series I thought that I wanted to interview one of my best friends. I can't pinpoint when we met exactly, but we were on the Texas Clipper II in the summer of 1998, having part fun/part school/part work on this retired Navy ship that our college owned. I think we really got to know each other when we both didn't have class while the rest of our group had class and we started having our green tea on the balcony in the afternoons in the dorm. Ahh, memories! Michelle had a short lived blog about five or six years ago right after I had started mine, so I am very glad she started her new blog this past year. Here's her interview.
Doing what we do best....being goofy!
In this crazy, topsy-turvy path of life, where do you see yourself heading in the next five years? What goals have you set for yourself?
Five yearsÖfirst of all I canít believe it has been 11 since we met! I thought of that today Ė I usually think about that every year when school lets out. I left the day after my high school graduation and if I remember right, you missed yours completely didnít you? (Yes, I did. No regrets to missing 500 names being read aloud) Wow, it really feels like yesterday. I know people say that but it is scary how true it can be sometimes.
Ok, sorry, back to the question :) Five years from now I hope to have another baby here or on the way at least. Kylen will be in school (finishing kindergartenÖwow) and we will be settled into our new house as much as we are settled here (we have been here almost five years which I never would have said would be my plan five years ago!) JP will be at his job and hopefully still happy Ė maybe a different department but hopefully with a paycheck that will allow us to travel often. We have so many friends and family we donít get to see nearly often enough! My goals are so different now that I have achieved my biggest one. (being a stay at home mom) Now my goals consist of being a wonderful and fun mom, keeping a good house, gardening, the dogsÖIf for some reason we arenít able to have another baby and Kylen is the only blessing we are given then I plan to go back to work at a bank. If we are able to have another baby then I will be starting all over again with a new boy/girl about the time Kylen starts kindergarten. I plan to be working on decorating the house, playing in the garden and hopefully be back to normal as far as how Iím feeling.
You recently celebrated your daughter's first birthday. How has becoming a mother affected your attitude and outlook toward life?
Wow! Becoming a mom was the scariest thing I have ever done. I didnít know how we would afford her, I didnít know how I would handle her (wasnít around babies growing up), I have my nephews but Iíve always been able to give them back! I was worried I wouldnít have patience (I have always had a pretty short temper), I wasnít sure about any of it really Ė childbirth, staying in a hospital, if we really could afford for me to stay home, if I really could do it on my own when JP went back to work. BUT becoming a mother was the best, most joyful, most rewarding, most challenging, most wonderful thing I have ever done. Yeah, you donít know what you are doing. You canít even begin to prepare for what your body will go through. You just wing it and ask lots of questions to people that have been through it already. You just do what you think is right. The best advice I heard was that your baby doesnít know you are doing it wrong, so just do it your way, and donít be afraid of messing up. If it works then keep it up :) Kylen has brought such joy in my life.
You will miss life before baby, when you actually got to sleep as long as YOU wanted and you got to do projects when YOU wanted to do them, but the rewards COMPLETELY outweigh the drawbacks. She has taught me so much. She makes me smile on a daily basis. My attitude and outlook on life completely shifted. I have unlimited patience when it comes to Kylen. I think of her needs way before my own. My life is hers now. Finding a husband and spending the rest of your life with someone is one thing. Having a child and raising them, it makes me speechless to have that honor.
My point of reference Ė donít take being able to have children for granted. My momís best friend from high school would have made an amazing mom. She wanted kids but couldnít have them..never had any of her own. My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I still get sad about it. I donít think I will ever forget it at certain times of the year. When I got pregnant again I was nervous the first few months and was able to fully appreciate the gift I was being given My outlook on life Ė I am a kid again, only I get to live it through Kylenís eyes.
You went to college for a little while for photography. Do you have any particular way of seeing what you frame in the camera before you take a shot? The one tip I remember from class was not to constantly center the subject, something I always did before. It also made me more aware of the backgrounds of casual shots. I usually spot one thing that I want to take a picture of then look all around it to find the best angle. I naturally overanalyze everything in life and Iíve gotten good at doing so rather quickly so most people donít realize I have already thought of every possible angle and found the best one for me.
If you could own any camera, what would it be? And where would your ideal studio be?
I haven't done research lately to know what would be the best camera for me. I would love a digital SLR but I also love the holga for its nostalgic effect on film.
I wouldn't want a studio. I would want to maybe have a few backdrops if someone wanted that option but I prefer to let nature be the background. If I were able to take photos professionally I would have a few spots around town that are my favorites and always be open to client suggestions.
You were recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The initial reactions you had have had time to sink in. Has it affected your outlook on life?
This is kind of tricky. At this point in my diagnosis I find it more annoying and still scary but donít really react outwardly. I was afraid we couldnít have more children but know that isnít a problem. The side effects are the most annoying part. Side effects of MS as well as the daily injections. They still hurt a lot and Iím hoping my body will miraculously stop reacting to the medication.
To answer your question (Iím sorry, I seem to ramble for a lot of this) I have pretty much adopted the Scarlett OíHara outlook on MS Ė I will worry about it tomorrow. JP did all the research; I still donít really want to talk to anyone else that has MS because I donít know what to say. I donít really have any questions. JP had a ton of questions and went online and did TONS of research and told me lots of facts/statistics. I just donít think about it for the most part. I have lots of side effects right now that donít let me forget it and I still get sad when it is time for my shot because of what it means, but other than that specific time of day, I try not to think about it.
We've known each other for 11 years now. What do you feel has been the most interesting thing that has occurred during those years?
Most interesting is kind of hard to answer. My most exciting moments include the birth of my daughter, marrying my husband, buying our first house, going on a real cruise (not one where I had to work and do school at the same time, even though that will always hold a special place in my heart).
I guess the most interesting thing and what I consider to be my biggest accomplishment is becoming a stay at home mom. We went from a two income, childless household to a single income household w/a baby. I really juggled our finances but was determined to make it work. As my mom always says, when you want something bad enough you will find a way.
Now that you are about to move into your own home, do you have any inspiration from magazines or the internet that you want to take into consideration to make the house your own?
I donít know where the inspiration comes from, probably HGTV more than anything. Iím not going to jump right into decorating. I do have a few room painting projects I would like to do before we put the furniture in, but for the most part I want to get into the house and see what I feel for each room. Some of the rooms already have a Ďthemeí of sorts and I am very happy to continue with them. The kitchen is a Ďcantinaí type theme and the main bath is a Spanish style I think. The house has such a history. It isnít one of those cookie cutter homes that is new and a blank slate. This house was bricked in 1950; they canít even guess when it was built. THe 30s maybe? That is when the oil boom hit and most homes in the area were built. Rooms have been added and other rooms have been converted into something more useful. I have fallen in love with the house as it is and I cannot wait to be in itÖI think the house itself will be my inspiration in the end. I mean, I can see stuff on TV or in magazines but I wonít know what works until after we move in!
Thanks Michelle for participating! You can read Michelle's blog at Everything Kylen and a little Mom & Dad
. All photos courtesy and copyright of Michelle Harvey.
Hug your best friend today. Or send them an email if you live halfway across the country.
Out the Window is Flathead Lake
June 9, 2009
Made it to Glacier yesterday. Coincidentally my dad had business in Kalispell for one day and though I flew into Missoula, I stopped at my hotel along the way and met up with my dad late in the afternoon and we drove over to Glacier National Park. Talk about an awesome park. Going-to-the-sun Road is pretty darn cool. The wildlife count for yesterday was: two bald eagles, three mule deer, mountain goats wayyyyy up high and seen through a scope, one large moose in a pond and a bunny. No bears, but I did read a grizzly attacked a trail runner on Sunday not far from where we were. We only saw a smidge of the park as the road is not all the way open yet as they haven't cleared all the debris and snow from winter yet.
I won't have any photos up other than this as I am shooting most in RAW and this little laptop doesn't have my converting program on it yet. Until later....tell me something interesting that is going on with you.
Sunday Adventures with Mink and Ghost Orchids
June 7, 2009
Chris went out with our friend Randy yesterday to check on some ghost orchids for a time lapse shot as well as some other ground orchids in another area. I decided not to go, errands and a desire to sleep in kept me at home. I missed yesterday's bear adventure when Randy spotted a bear in the slough they were in, and Chris got to see it for a minute before he yelled at it to go away. It went away. I wanted some bear adventure!! Instead I got mink...
We were traveling down Alligator Alley on our way to Fakahatchee Strand when Chris says that some roadkill in the road looked like an Everglades mink. Everglades mink are incredibly rare and shy and neither Randy or I had seen one. Chris had seen a live one quickly last summer, but that was it. chris was still debating if the roadkill was a baby otter instead when two miles down the road we saw another animal cross the road in front of us. Larger than a squirrel, it skittered across the highway while we avoided it. It was definitely another mink!! Talk about incredibly lucky! We turned around immediately to go and check the roadkill out and sure enough it was a mink. Chris knew they were very rare and had seen a stuffed one at Mike Owen's office in Fakahatchee Strand so he decided to try to get in touch with Mike to see if he would want it or maybe they would send it somewhere for research. We had a plastic baggy already for our cameras in case it rained and Randy had a cooler left over from our camping trip a few weeks ago, so the mink went into the baggy and cooler. When Chris finally got ahold of Mike we found out that he would indeed take it and send it under his roadkill permit to the University of Florida where they have been keeping mink specimens for over 50+ years. It was really cool to see both of them, one alive and the dead one. They are much smaller than I thought!
Our original intent was to see Vanilla phaeantha in bloom. I hadn't seen this species in bloom yet and they bloom for a very short period in the morning. We checked three separate locations, the third being the worst. I didn't put enough Off on so I was attacked by mosquitos along the tram. Not quite as bad as our trip to Snake Bight trail in ENP, but it was bothering me immensely and after I swallowed one I decided to pull out my rain jacket. Much better...except for the intense heat. It is about a two mile walk down the tram we went on, so a two mile walk back was at hand. By the time I got back my shirt was soaked, and sweat had collected in pools in my jacket. Yeah, I luckily have a new rain jacket in the mail that is much more vented! Phew!
We also saw a Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly sipping nectar out of a coffee plant.
We went to check on some ghost orchids, too, the ones Chris is time lapsing. He had to change the battery out and there were two other ghosts nearby to photograph. I started snapping away!
I heavily photoshopped this one. I know, I know, I'm going against my own grain here, but it was fun! Heh! I didn't really do much other than turn the contrast and black up all the way to turn the background black. You can see two other versions here: green version and original version. I like all three! Maybe a triptych is in store?
Another fun photoshop adventure! I like this one as well.
This one isn't the best in focus but after I took the photo and reviewed it on the screen I noticed the spider in the photo. Very cool!
Well, tomorrow I'm heading to Montana. I am really looking forward to this trip. It's work, but I plan on doing some fun things in the evenings! There are a lot of wildlife places near where I am staying so I hope to get some really good photo opportunities. I plan on trying to blog a few times, posting the new interview on Wednesday as well. If Chris is able to get the time lapse finished I will post that as well! Have a great Sunday evening!
June 6, 2009
How is everyone chomping along for the weekend? No exciting plans here. Catch up on the piles of laundry and some chores, find some time for something creative (itching to start a t-shirt quilt, do some photography, finish the painting...) and a few errands. I had been planning to sell the butterfly weed that this monarch caterpillar is munching on, but I noticed some leaves missing the other day and then I found the caterpillar and well, I guess I'm leaving it for him/her.
Found a crinum lily bud ready to nearly open. Maybe tomorrow.
I tried to get the Boobear to settle down and let me take a photo, but he was too riled up and chomping on grass of his own that I barely got this one. The other one came out blurry with a big tongue hanging out. I took him for a walk this afternoon and we ran into some neighbors who asked if he was a pitbull, which I said yes to, then we went over for Baloo to lick them a bit and one of the guys said that Baloo reminded him of Petey from the Little Rascals. I was riled up earlier in the week because the Sun-Sentinel had some articles/opinions about pitbull banning in Broward county. Of course I was angry and contemplated letter writing. It started with this attack a few weeks ago. I was talking to Eliana about it since she has the inside scoop with the MCABSL and she said that the dogs were abused. Which brings me to the point that if your putting the dogs down why aren't you arresting the owners for neglect and abuse? Michael Vick got a lot of publicity, but I don't think it has hit home with people that abuse animals. Punishing the dogs and not the owners...hrmph. I also got frustrated with the comments below the opinion pieces because everyone was painting broad strokes to what consisted for a pitbull owner---thugs. Yeah, all pitbull owners are thugs. *snort*. Sterotypes. I hate them. (If I hear another blonde joke...).
I got my Artist's Magazine in the mail the other day and I was pleasantly surprised to see an article on Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame. I had no idea he created the illustrations with tissue paper that he paints himself! It was a very cool article and I loved the technique he described. I had a year or so ago covered up a oil pastel gone wrong with some tissue paper intending to head in a mixed media with acrylic but never finished it and I think I tossed it in the trash. Now, I am inspired to try again!
Ooh, I'm in an Etsy Treasury! Check it out!
June 4, 2009
Marc sent me this photo today via email. Love it! Mostly because Eliana is actually wearing more blue than I've seen on her in ages. Plus, I made that hat and she 'stole' it from me last week at her sister's birthday party. She looks better in it than I did. Eliana, I gave the photo a green border just for you.
My parents are celebrating their 33rd anniversary today! This is probably around 1978 or something like that...I wasn't born yet but they had FeFe our peekapoo dog. Happy Anniversary y'all!!!
The rain stopped long enough to mow the lawn last night and tonight. I have a good several hours to invest in the backyard this weekend. I am peeved, peeved at the idiotic regrowth of air potato after a good two years of it not being so bad. Roundup here I come. I think I may end up painting it on the leaves of some of it because of how near other vines and plants are to it. That way I don't hurt anything else. It really pisses me off.
I got an email today from a blogger from the UK that is living part of the year in the Sarasota area. She was asking about gardens to visit in the area to write about on her blog and so I told her about Marie Selby. You can check out her very cool blogs at: The Galloping Gardener and A Day in the Life at Longboat Key.
Looking forward to the weekend....next week is Montana!
Summer Interview Series 01: Sara at Going Coastal
June 3, 2009
Welcome to my first interview series! I've been reading various interviews on other blogs for awhile and I've always wanted to participate in one, so I figured the best way to start would be to do the interviewing! I thought of four people that I was interested in reading a bit more about and one of the first one is my friend Sara. I actually know Sara in 'real life'. We met in highschool honors art class and though we talked we never really got to know each other. Fast forward to this great internet age and the world of MySpace, and we reconnected. I was drawn to her blogs on MySpace about scrapbooking and jewelry making and started commenting. Before I knew it we were emailing and chatting about various creative things. At our 10 years highschool reunion last year we got to talk for awhile, but still not enough to really get into all of the great things we have in common. Sara has brought up some great musicians that I'd never heard of and well, now they are favorites of mine!
I sent Sara some questions and she happily obliged! Happy Reading...and drooling over her jewlery! I have a few of her pieces in my collection, so I can attest that they are brilliant!
How did you live creatively after leaving high school and venturing into he life of work and motherhood?
At first, my artistic side became neglected as my husband, Peter, and I struggled to make ends meet while he finished college and we both worked full time. I worked at a pet store for a few years and then I started working at a car dealership when I turned 20. It didn't take me long to interject my creative side into my career, even though I was working at a dealership. I happened to overhear how much my company payed for some shabby and horrendously over priced car bows, and I had to speak up. Since then I have become the seasonal 'Car Bow Maker/Tree Decorator' for the dealership, and I have done so for the past 6 or 7 years. I have also discovered how gratifying scrapbooking can be to the creative soul with the birth of my two sons. My etsy shop was born from a 15 year love affair with macrame beaded jewelry. Going Coastal
I guess my point is, you can be artistic in your everyday life, even if you are not making a distinguished living from your artwork.
You make some awesome jewelery! How did you become interested in making jewelry and what spurred you into selling it?
I remember always going to craft stores with my mother and she would let me pick something to make when she would buy her pastels. One day I picked up a "How to Macrame" book, and I thought myself every pattern in the book. I started making bracelets for me and my friends and then I started experimenting with new ways to use wood and shell beads. After that, I started looking for pictures of new knots to learn, and it grew from there. I must have been around 14 when I started. Somewhere between here and there someone asked to buy a bracelet they saw me wearing, and so I started selling them by word of mouth. It wasn't until I signed up with myspace and etsy that I decided to expand on my jewelry projects. It's still just a hobby, but I have discovered so many great people in my own community from craft shows and indie blog groups. I have become a member of EtsyFortWorth and I write for the online blog: Etsy Fort Worth
What do you do to spur your creativity into action again after a lull?
I have become a horrible bead-aholic when it comes to gemstones. All I have to do is go bead shopping to energize my etsy projects. I love to lay out a few shells, fossils, or summery colored gemstones on the floor and just think about how I would use them. I am completely inspired by nature. I don't really feel a grand connection with a piece unless it has an interesting origin or a natural feel to it.
Oh, and I suppose I have to be bare-footed. As a child during the summer I hated wearing shoes, and I still do! It drives my husband crazy when the boys and I have been playing outside all day bare-footed!
Do you encourage your kids to get their hands into some paint or even Play-doh?
ABSOLUTELY! We love play-doh, pasta necklaces, paints...crafts in general. When I was growing up my parents ALWAYS gave me the opportunity to draw or work on crafts, and I want to pass that on to my kids as well! I try to think of fun, age appropriate projects, and I always let them color or make jewelry if I happen to be working on something in front of them.
What inspiration do you find across the Internet? Have you used any inspiration to create a piece of jewelry or art work?
Etsy is a very inspiring place to be! I love just watching the front page and clicking away at all of the fresh new items you can find there. I think my mind takes in too much at a time to say this, or that inspires me... I actually collect random photos for inspiration but I never go back and look at them! It's a pain because I always have to delete them off of my computer when I realize how many I have just taking up space. I try not to duplicate any other artists work but rather learn the applications to use in my own unique pieces.
You have leapt into the world of selling your craft. Do you have any advice for others interested in starting in that direction?
My advice would be... shameless self promotion!
Actually, just be excited about what you do and your enthusiasm will be contagious! I would not be where I am if I had not opened up to my friends and family about what I was doing. They were the ones who told me to list more on etsy, they were the ones who came to every one of my craft shows, and they were the ones who gave me my first etsy feedback.
If you sell on etsy make sure you use all 14 tag lines...the more tags you have, the more chances shoppers have to 'land' on your items. Also, give out business cards. You can create cards at Vista Print for free, so if you haven't yet, you should!
Where do you see yourself taking this creatively in the next five or ten years?
My creativity will always be there, spontaneously coming out in the most random ways... I recently painted a nursery mural for a friend and now I plan on painting murals in my boys' rooms too!
Name some other hobbies and fun things you like to do!
I love to cook, and I feel so rewarded when people rave about how well my boys eat fresh fruit and veggies that other kids won't touch with a ten foot pole. I have also recently become extremely fond of gardening. I think organic gardening will keep me entertained for a great while!
Photography and writing will always be passions of mine as well! I guess you could say my hobbies are all over the place! I have a personal blog that I use to unleash my inner dork.
Check it out: Post Punk Girl
(That was some of my shameless self promotion... try it, it works!)
Thanks Sara for participating! You can find Sara at: Post Punk Girl and her Going Coastal Etsy Shop
All photos courtesy and copyright Sara Pham..
If you have any questions for Sara, feel free to leave them in the comments and I am sure she will be able to answer them! I hope you enjoyed reading! Stay tuned for the rest of the month on every Wednesday for another interview!
Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King
June 1, 2009
The amazingness of the internet. I'm streaming a Dave Matthews Band live concert on Hulu. I've heard of Hulu but this is the first time I've actually utilized it. The concert was the rage at work today and I found out it was going to be on cable, which I don't have. But, alas, to my delight I also found out it was streaming on the 'net. So far, so good! One small blip, but I'm amazed at the quality! DMB has a new album coming out and they've had it streaming for free on Pandora.com for the past bit. Good stuff! I still love Two Step a lot!
The car is fixed. $500 later. *sigh* After getting some catch up around here done tomorrow I will be working on the interviews that I did for the month. I aim to have them out each Wednesday for the rest of the month. I am excited to share them with you as I've gotten some great replies to my questions! Stay tuned for my next post on Wednesday!
What a Day!
May 31, 2009
The day can be summed up on four words.
We hit the road this morning, on our way down the Turnpike to JDSP for some hiking. Baloo was with us and it was going to be a good afternoon. I decided to doze off for awhile when I heard the beep noise of what I thought was Chris' low fuel gauge. I opened my eyes to see him pulling onto the shoulder of the Florida turnpike and smoke/steam coming from the hood. EEK! Chris thought the car was on fire and so I rushed out to get Baloo and our packs with water and he proceeded to start pouring water on the engine to cool it down. No fire was had, but something was definitely overheating. Radiators and I do not get along. I am sure my dad has the money tally of how much it cost him to repair my cute little Mercury Capri umpeteen times in college. So, here we are, on the side of Florida's Turnpike, somewhere in the West Palm Beach vicinity, with a steep hill and a canal on the side. My next duties were to get Baloo tied up so he didn't go wandering into the traffic lanes and to fill up the water bottles in the canal a few more times. Eventually we got situated enough to sit back in the car and deliberate what to do next. Who did we know that was around that could help us out, where do we get it towed to and all of those questions. After a few calls to people we finally got ahold of one of our geocaching friends who lives in Lake Worth and he was able to come by to help us out. Chris determined a possible cause to the whole thing and located a Pepboys who called a tow truck and almost an hour later we were finally on the road to the Pepboys. Unfortunately it wasn't ready today so we have to drive back up to WPB to pick up his truck tomorrow. The good thing is it sounds like it will be relatively affordable, ie: under $500 and not some exorbitant amount of money that I am not inclined to spend at the moment. Let's hope.
After all was said and done we did end up going for a hike, but in a different area. Our friend, his name is Chris as well, took us to a place out west of WPB, a natural area that isn't really maintained much, but the Ocean to Lake trail goes through the area and we hiked about three miles on it today of the approximately seven total we did. The problem was I woke up this morning with some knee pain. I've had some issues in the past, mostly just dealt with it, nothing really to whine about. It would bother me once in a blue moon, but it seems that this past spring I have felt it worse. I figure it is an old softball injury of some sort. This morning it was actually hard to walk on. And after being crunched in the back of the truck I got out and felt like I couldn't stand on it. I ended up holding my walking stick on the left side to take some pressure off of it. Then the other problem is that my feet suck. Or my boots. Not sure which, yet. I am about thisfedup with having incredibly hurting feet by the end of not very long hikes, like the 7 we did today. Pair that with blisters and I am at my wits end. I really think it is the boots, because in the past I know I have done hikes of that length with barely any problems. It just shouldn't be this way. A little sore, ok. Pain, no.
Oh, and it rained. Which really wasn't that bad, but it just sounds like it was. Might as well throw something else on the whole ordeal. The rain was actually nice, not too terrible, though I don't like having wet hands and the mosquitos (huge buggers!) were annoying afterwards. The hike itself wasn't bad. If my feet weren't so bad I'd of enjoyed it even more. Here is what we saw:
Lots of Fungus!!
We went into an area that had a lot of melaleuca (invasive exotic from Oz) and I was peeling the bark off the tree (very cool peeling bark on this tree) when this spider snuck out! Kinda creepy, yet very interesting. I was looking at it larger on the computer and it has spiky hairs on it! Eeeeww!
And it rained, but it wasn't so bad, though it was a bit sticky in the rain jacket. Peaceful out while it rained.
The Lug had many animal encounters. Right after we started we found a puddle with something slithering in it. I thought it was a snake, nope, 10+ baby alligators. Oh boy did he want to go after them! We looked carefully to see is momma was around, but didn't see her. I'm sure she saw us, though. Chris scooted the babies off the side 'cause we knew they would want to nip at Baloo. The next animal encounter was with feral pigs. He was really on point for them! We had to leash him a few times, normally he's off the leash when we hike, because our friend Chris had said he'd seen pigs in some of the hammocks before. Boo also met up with a chicken turtle and we met up with a black racer at the end, though Baloo didn't see it. It was a pretty good wildlife day, though!
So, hopefully the car situation will work itself out tomorrow. I'm going to bed now....phew!
May 29, 2009
Oh, how easy it is to get lazy. I had everything ready to blog earlier in the week, but I just put it off. That's alright, it's a nice, quiet Friday night and I am ready for the weekend. We went up to Fisheating Creek for Memorial Day weekend like last year. We went with our friends Randy and Kathy again and had a great time. This trip was tinged with some rainy afternoons which were perfect for napping, and a really rude/annoying group of campers playing some sort of awful music at 2am. Seriously. I've had people playing music until 11 or so before, but this random start of music from all the way across the campground was irritating. We also had a friendly/slightly annoying baby barred owl that hung around the campsites making his little whimpering 'feed me' noise while mom hung around listening to him and not feeding him like he was demanding! He was cute, though!
Baloo had a good time as well. He had several kid visitors to our site to get his fill of pets. One girl came a little too much and I kept trying to find polite ways to run her off. It wasn't bad at first, but the second evening and third morning it got a bit old. I don't mind the kids coming up to play with him for awhile, but I also don't enjoy babysitting a strangers kid while they play with the dog. Of course, Baloo had no problems with this, she played with sticks and let him lick her. We did get one evil stare as a lady walked by with her itty bitty terrier, but most everyone was like 'oooh, look at that happy dog!'.
What I love about the creek is that it changes so much from wet to dry seasons. This is the same location from last Fall, on the left, and last weekend on the right. Pretty insane!
It was definitely a good tree weekend. We walked into one cypress dome about 20 miles north of where the main campground is, we'd drove further up to see what was up the creek, and this dome was very prehistoric looking. Stately, handsome cypress trees.
In the land of other items....I need to do some yard work tomorrow. The weather people said it was going to be day 14 and 15 of rain this weekend, but usually we've had clear mornings and stormy afternoons, sometimes clearing up again in the evenings. If I can make a dent in the new growth, I might be ahead of the game next week. I'm getting frustrated in having no cantaloupe's and pumpkins being pollinated. Pretty po'd actually. I mean, come on, Christine has squash and I don't!
I love this video. For one, it make me wish I wore skirts more often. Second, the listening to what your dreams vs what the world is telling you. I completely understand this one. There are so many cues that the world (flickr, blogs, ads, whatever) that makes it seem like you should be doing whatever it is they are portraying, but you really know it isn't you. There was a time I really wanted to be the next be scrapbooker, one on par with the Ali Edwards' and Cathy Zielske's, but really talented scrapbooker I am not. Plus, I use a lot of ephemera and rubber cement on my pages. And I don't really scrap anymore! Then it was maybe I could be a crochet designer...hahahaha, I love crochet, but selling it and designing it isn't where I want to go with it. Plus, it takes so much time to make something that you really can't get paid what it is worth. And art...well, if I could find some discipline.
Check out the new Dave Matthews Band album on Pandora. You can stream it for free until Tuesday when it comes out.
May 25, 2009
Baloo at one of his happiest times...
and another one of his more blissed out moments. This weekend was full of adventure for one happy puppy. Sticks, water to swim in, pets and hugs from kids in the campground, being outside and going for walks in the woods. That's one happy pup.
Today is also his birthday. The Big Lug is 4!!!!
Evolution of Time
May 22, 2009
Datura, white with a little lilac on the edges
I was going through our backup hard drive of photos tonight, searching for photos for Etsy. I have a few plants I want to list and I was looking for one of the plant in bloom. It was incredibly interesting searching through the older photos. For one, it shows our little porch garden from our apartment in Melbourne. The General is there. The General is a large cactus that we got at a garage sale for I think $5. The General has grown now and even has a sidekick growing out of its side now. The garden shows my first attempts at vegetables (which were less than lackluster) and there was even a picture of Sammy all by his lonesome.
Cheap Home Depot Phalenopsis. Has a name but I don't know it off the top of my head.
Then we moved to Miami and we expanded our pot ghetto by getting into orchids. My first orchid was a vanda from a little orchid place off Krome Avenue in the Redlands. It no longer lives. Oh, the orchids we've killed. There haven't been too many, but enough to make me a little sappy to see them in photos again. There were some beautiful little slipper orchids, my favorite being Phrag. Don Wimbler. Yep, that one is long gone. Then we moved to our townhouse and we really got into gardening even more, and it shows our weird plant phase. I also wondered what happened to many of the plants, too.
Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on a passiflora vine. Agraulis vanillae
Then we finally move to the house, where we can stretch out and put things in the ground. I have photos of the disaster of what this yard used to be. Brazilian pepper, air potato, and other invasives were taking over the yard. Yuck. Unfortunately I cannot reach into my neighbors' yard and rip their air potato out, so it continues to try to creep into our yard during the summer months. The yard feels very homey now, comfortable and lived in. If only I could put our entire container garden in the ground for once.
I think I will prepare an evolution of the garden blog next week. It wouldn't be too hard, you can see a lot of them on my Flickr pool under the set 'Our Garden'. But I don't have everything on there.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend if you are in the U.S. Enjoy your weekend as well for readers everywhere else!
The Things I Grow
May 21, 2009
I hadn't been in the garden for almost a week when I went out in it yesterday evening. I didn't have time Sunday evening when we got back from the Keys and Monday afternoon we were hit with a barage of rain that lasted until Wednesday afternoon. Finally, we got much needed rain and the garden was really happy about that. I went poking around to see what was going on...cowpeas with bugs and pods, corn with ears, beans greening up, and then I went to check out the cucumber vine and found this fruit! It is supposedly a Thai green cucumber that I got from Baker Creek Heirloom's as a freebie in an order earlier this spring/later winter. I tried cucumbers a year or two ago only to have bugs attack the vine and suck the xylem and phloem out only to have them wilt and die and never produce anything decent. This cucumber reminds me a lot of the ones my grandmother used to grow. My grandmother makes/made the best pickles. I have her recipe but isn't quite the same. Anyway, little cucumbers like this one would be crunched into Mason jars, sealed and stored on her shelf in this dark, tiny hallway between the kitchen and an unused bedroom of her house. Tonight, I ate the cucumber, a bit afraid at first for it to be bitter, but it was divine! Cool, a little tart, but excellent with my salad. I can only hope I get a few more to enjoy this summer!
Summer is here! In June I am going to be having an interview month with four bloggers that I love. One a week...if it all works out I may extend it into July and keep it going. I think you will like who I have lined up!
May 20, 2009
I've been trying to finish up a painting these past two days. I'm ready to move onto something else, another drawing and a painting, and so this one is....was moving along. There's one little petal that is driving me insane. I just couldn't get the yellow to come out right and so I said 'screw it' because it doesn't really matter how accurate it really is. It's not a photograph. Hello...duh! It's art and it's what I want it to be. So, I think I am going to get past it by tomorrow and maybe I will be able to show a preview of it.
One of my favorite things when I paint or draw is that Leo gets up on the desk or right behind me on the chair (if I'm using the chair, I'm using a bar stool to paint right now). Yesterday he tried to maneuver himself around my palette but ended up getting a paw in it. Tonight he settled behind my tabletop easel while I painted, the tail precariously close to the palette and the cup of water for washing my brushes out. Baloo is usually perched under my computer desk, chin on the windowsill, looking outside or passed out in a stretched out heap in the floor. Samson, he sits in his bunny-kitty fashion in the floor, on the desk or in the big computer chair.
One of my favorite songs that I hadn't heard in awhile and had forgotten about is Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn. I remembered it tonight when I opened up Pandora and created a Marc Cohn channel. This song is one of the ones I want to learn to play on the piano one day. I've been thinking about what I want to do for my year of being 29 and I think playing the piano is going to be my solo item. Not that I am putting anything else on a backburner really, but I want to play again. I hate that I've lost the ability to read music easily and cannot remember how to play anything by memory. As for the rest of my year 28 goals, I've got a little less than two months to finish up. I'm in a big push for the losing the 15 lbs now. Of course I'm waiting until the last minute...really it's more that I'm fed up with how I feel after this past weekend and eating my way through the Keys. I think I cleaned my plate for every meal. Oh, it was good...really good, but geez.
What song do you love that sends you into an instant trance? Good songs like this put me into a stupor of remembering.
May 19, 2009
Over the past few years my dad has come down for a visit in late May and we'll head off to the Keys for the weekend. In the past we've camped but this year we upscaled it to a Fairfield Inn in Key West instead. That was probably a good thing since we were doding showers the entire time. I think we ate our way through Key West...!
We hit the Keys Wild Bird Center like we normally do to check in on the rescued birds. This time around I saw a few more cats than normal and decided to think the 'Eliana' way and on the way back I asked Chris to stop at a Winn-Dixie to pick up two large bags of dry cat food. Hey, the cats need to eat too and I know donations are needed! If you are ever in the Keys you should definitely stop by. If you catch them at 3pm you can get them feeding the wild birds that hang out on the bay side and the tarpon come up and roll. Good stuff!
Lots of eating and playing with the panoramic feature of our new point and shoot...
Eating and people watching on Duval Street...
Lots of goofy-ness....Ah, how the pool makes me wish I was a kid again. Yes, I still do hand stands and flips.
On Saturday we managed to go kayaking despite the threatening skies. We went behind Cudjoe Key. The wind was blowing from the east-northeast and our intended direction was to the west-southwest, perfect for being with us on the way out but in the afternoon the wind kicked up even more and it made getting back a big pain. We'd paddle for awhile and then get out and pull the kayaks. I did an approximate path on Google Earth and we kayaked around 3.5 miles. Not too terribly long, but it was enough to enjoy the flats and we saw three blacktip reef sharks and one nurse shark as well as a few horseshoe crabs. I wanted to get more underwater photos but with the wind, it was hard to keep the sediment from infiltrating the area in question. I would definitely go back to this area when it is more calm.
This particular area is the Little Swash Keys. Beautiful water there!
We made our usual trip down Key Deer Blvd on Big Pine Key. We pulled up next to a few of them and these deer are trained. They come right up towards the car, which is cute but pathetic and just plain ridiculous because they shouldn't be that tame!
At the end of No Name Key we got out and walked around the mangroves to see what was washed up. I found this buoy and thought it deserved to be photographed. I desaturated everything but the buoy in PS. It's a sort of calm before the storm. I love storms and the open ocean. Something mystical about them.
And it's always ok to be a tourist sometimes!
The places we ate at:
Keys Fisheries Market and Marina Located near the 7 mile bridge in Marathon. Excellent lobster reubens. Good fries!
Mangoes in Key West on Duval Street. Good, but the wait was long due to a wedding reception. Lots of people watching!
Hog Fish Bar and Grill located in 'downtown' Stock Island, which is really the wharves. You have to go through a pretty bad part of town (trailers that really shouldn't have people living in them.) but the place is relaxed and very delicious!
Baby's Coffee located on the far north side of the Key West chain. Excellent local coffee! And affordable!
Robbies. Right on the water, excellent food! Watch the tarpon get fed while you feed your own belly!
Ahhh, I should go to the Keys more often!
If you like coldplay, they have a free download of 9 live songs. They are all GREAT! Get started on the download!!!
Who's that Cat???
May 11, 2009
It was right before dinner, I was unloading the dishwasher, Chris had gone to Publix and we were waiting for Marc and Eliana to come over. Baloo was outside, Samon was waiting at the back door, so I let Sam out on the porch as I went to let Baloo in through the screen door. Life went on. About five minutes later I heard a voice in the side yard and went to peer out the window. Chris came in through the screen door carrying a cat, one that was uniquely colored, very fat and fluffy. It had a black, splotchy head and grey streaks all over its body. It appeared that Chris had found a stray and I was questioning his bringing it on the porch with Samson. Then, I glanced at the head and saw a 'Furball' name tag. I thought that perhaps Chris had brought it in because the cat had a tag like Samson. As I slid the door open, Chris handed me the cat as I asked, "Is that our cat?". I got a short, upset retort that it was indeed our cat. Apparently the screen door hadn't shut properly, Samson had absconded into the side yard, promptly found the patch of dirt and proceeded to roll in it. I couldn't even be mad at myself because it was so hilarious how he looked!
Stately, handsome Samson was now trying to act like the ragamuffin Leo. We joked later that he was trying to become like the other two grey and white animals in the house! I tried to get a rag and clean him off but he didn't like being wet and it really didn't do much, though the rag was filthy upon on swipe down the back of his coat. Sam appears to have cleaned his face well, but his body is going to take days to return to normal. He'll probably wipe half of it on my bedspread. I suppose that is my due justice for letting him escape!
First Ghost Orchid of the Season
May 10, 2009
The first ghost orchid of the season! Or, at least for us. We checked out two sloughs today, including our own, and we found the only blooming one in ours. Unfortunately it looks like the extreme drought we've had this year has taken a toll on a number of orchids. Seemingly healthy ones last year have bit the dust. On the bright side there are lots of spikes and several buds that are going to be opening in the coming weeks.
This is a seed pod dehissing, aka opening up and letting the seeds fly into the great unknown. This is the same orchid that was visited by the giant sphinx moth last year, however it is not the same flower. The ghost orchids can have multiple flowers during the season.
Here's the second seed pod in our slough. Very dismal pollination rates this past year. Two pollinated out of 607 orchids (now give or take since this dry season).
Epidendrum anceps. We saw a few of these in the other slough.
That's about it for tonight. It's been a long day and our friends Marc and Eliana just left after coming over here for dinner. Time for a snooze!
May 8, 2009
Regina Spektor has been playing in my cd player constantly as of late. Tonight I pulled out Grace Potter and the Nocturnals again and it was all of a sudden summer. I listened to This is Somewhere a lot while running a year and a half ago. Love it. Love the entire album. Check out their channel on YouTube.
Late night tonight. Plan on hitting the ground running tomorrow. I really only have day to get things accomplished tomorrow. Will probably hit the wall around 3pm and need a nap anyway.
Thinking Thoughts and Journaling in my Head
May 6, 2009
When I don't have photos to share or some big weekend adventure to write about, I often times feel like I have nothing to share. Rather, I have things to share, but is it something I want to share with the world. It could be something mundane, silly, personal, odd. I am sure I am like many bloggers, always blogging in my head. Of course only about 1% of it makes it onto the blog, either due to personal censure or because I just plain forgot about what I was thinking at the time.
Some of my favorite blogs include only photos and there are some that are mostly words. The ones with words are the ones that aren't afraid to share the ups and downs of life. The pains of a particular relationship at the time, or the mundane realities of the world behind the beautiful photos of a blog. Anyway, here are a few things that I can pry out of my head, in bullet form, to share with you instead of throwing up a photo. Ok, so there will be a photo at the end. It's purty...my photographer husband took it! :)
Chris took this sunrise photo on Sunday morning. Unedited.
May 4, 2009
Check out one of the first peppers! Or rather, the first of my peppers. We've had some cayenne peppers for awhile, but these are the first that I have grown.
I can't remember the name of these, will have to check the tag, but I do know they are a hot one! Habanero maybe. Too bad the tomatoes have waned or else it would be good in salsa.
The fish peppers are coming in nicely and I have seen a few purple blooms. I can't wait to see the peppers! They are multi-colored and variegated a lot of times, sometimes a variety of both on the same plant.
I have quickly realized that I need to spend a good two days a week in the yard to keep it under control, especially now that the heat is starting to kick in. When the rain comes I know that it will become a jungle quickly. I can only hope the edible passiflora takes over quickly on the back fence again. I can always find something new and interesting that I either didn't see the day before or decided to bloom over night.
Good Things of Late
Have a lovely evening!
Oscar and Jay
May 3, 2009
Friday evening I came home from work, had exited my truck and was walking alongside the house towards the entrance. Out front we have a Japanese yew that is near the garage and right about that location I smelled trash. It was pretty rank. At first thought it was out trash cans on the other side of the garage and house, but then remembered we'd put it all out two days before and it couldn't possibly be that. I was thinking, what died in our garden and what was smelly inside the house? I walked in the front door and nothing was amiss. No pile of Baloo poo waiting to be cleaned up because he couldn't wait until we got home, no rotting garbage, nothing. I made it to the kitchen to put down the mail when I remembered.
Oscar, our Amorphophallus paeonifolius was blooming. We had been watching it for a few weeks knowing this year was the year we finally got a bloom. They are bulbs that we have to take out of the ground in the winter, put back in the ground over the summer and usually they have to get to a certain size before they bloom. We have a few other species that are going to bloom this year as well. Anyway, Chris was in the bedroom and I started talking about how I was wondering what the smell was and he said that too and then I told him that it must be the flower blooming!
If the fly collection around the flower doesn't say something about the smell...
Chris and I were even joking that we'd hoped no one came to our door, even though we saw a sales person talking to our neighbor. It was that bad! Think rotting meat for a week, or trash sitting in the sun for days at 100*. Horrible, yet so cool! The one next to it is smaller and so Chris wanted to pollinate the two, but they weren't open at the same time so he has saved some pollen from the larger one, Oscar. I wanted to call the smaller one Oscarina, but Chris didn't like that idea. Any good ideas for a very smelly plant name?
Yesterday we met up with our geocaching friend Chris at Jonathan Dickinson State Park to go check out an orchid that is probably one of the rarest in Florida, more rare than the ghost orchid as it only occurs in two counties and only a few specific localities. We weren't sure exactly where to look but we lucked out and spotted it! Very difficult to find as it lives in lavender in the scrub areas of the park. If this thing wasn't in bloom, it would be nearly impossible to spot, and even in bloom we had a difficult time.
We had known it as Oncidium bahamensis, but some googling of the name appears that it has been changed to Tolumnia bahamensis. The photo isn't that great, but not too bad. We bought a new point and shoot, a Pentax 10mpx and I am still trying to figure it out. I am not fond of the optical zoom though. My Rebel still isn't fixed, so I am relegated to the point and shoot at the moment. Chris had his 5D out so when he processes those I will show them. It was a gorgeous orchid, though! One of the prettiest in Florida I would say.
After finding the orchid we drove down to Jupiter Ridge Natural Area just to walk around and see what we could fine. Along the way we saw a scrub jay in a dead pine tree, stopped to try to take a photo when it flew down to us, called three of its friends and proceeded to let us take some super close up photos of them. In other words, they were a little too friendly for their own good and other people have probably fed them in the past. I have never seen scrub jays acting like that! But, the best part was getting the good photos!
What? You want me to pose for you??
This is not cropped in Photoshop. I zoomed with the camera, but I was still only about two feet from the bird. That's how close they were! Pretty insane!
At least one if not two were tagged on their legs. It was hard to tell with them fluttering about. I love the pattern of their feathers on their chest!
I didn't realize they had the grey stripe across their back. Very beautiful birds! Definitely one of my favorites! They are endemic to Florida and are listed as a threatened species, mostly due to habitat loss. Scrub areas are now converted to mansions and condos!
Today feels like a baking day admist the cleaning and chores. I have a cookie recipe from my mom I am dying to try out. Today might be the day!
May 1, 2009
Summer is creeping in. The pastel hues of the evening sky are lingering well past 8 o'clock.
Some of the corn is flowering and I am getting quite a bit of green beans that will be ready in a few days. I'm battling aphids on some of my pumpkins, they are sucking the stems and wilting the vines; ones that involved itty bitty baby fruits, so I'm not pleased. Lots of squash and cantaloupe flowers, but nothing pollintated yet. A few peppers are getting ready to be harvested and I am hoping my fish peppers produce well this year. I have photos of these on our new point and shoot that I will have to download soon.
I am excited about these finally flowerings. I would say upwards of three or four years ago I found this plant growing in a public area, nabbed some seeds and sowed them. The plants have filled out my container but this year they finally bloomed! Plan on seeing seeds on my shop later this summer!
The Little Kitty is 5 today! We arbitrarily picked his birthdate when we found him on July 1, 2004 because he appeared to be about two months old.
He's such a sweet heart. Leo will come up to you, dip his head and want you to kiss his head. It's so sweet! I can even lean in, pucker my lips, and he knows I want to kiss his head. I love him. *meow*.
Loop Road Otter
April 29, 2009
Last weekend we took a drive down Loop Road in Big Cypress National Preserve, hopped out a few spots along the way and just south of Sweetwater Strand we ran into this otter enjoying what is left of the water in the canal. It's really dry out there, so this was the only spot for it to go. I took several other videos but I like that you can see it get out of the water and gallop across to the other side.
We also saw two owls and this one flew right in front of the car, landed in the tree and let us take a video of it preening. Too bad it never turned around very well!
Tomorrow I will have a garden update! Lots of things going on: aphids, voodoo lily's, jasmine, and veggies in the garden.
Sweet Baloo and Goals
April 28, 2009
We've had Baloo over a year now. It's hard to believe. A year ago I didn't think Leo and Samson would ever get along with him, but now Leo will brush up against him as a sign of affection and Samson kinda tolerates him in his old grandpa-ish cat ways. He is just a big baby. This weekend I learned a little of what it felt like to be criminal in a way, in that Baloo was somewhere he wasn't supposed to be. He was there because his real momma asked for him to be there, but the entire time I felt so worried that this big lug of a dog with a tongue that will lick you to pieces would be found out. It's so ridiculous really. A year ago I wonder if I would have reacted this way. Chris and I just had dinner at Wendy's and I started crying over the thought of this dog that has never done anything wrong, being punished for what the likes of Michael Vick do. It honestly hurts. Learn more about Breed Specific Legislation. Be a responsible pet owner and know your pets.
Last week I made it to the gym three times in the morning. I had decided that since it is staying light later in the evening, thus making it easier for me to work in the yard, I had to get up early to get a workout in. It really feels good to have a workout done by the time you go to work and there is no guilt when you get home and are too tired or have other plans. I already made it one day this week and am aiming for three more days. I didn't make it this morning. I hit the snooze button...
My goal is to be 10 lbs lighter, to where I was about two years ago. And ideally, a total of 20 lbs lighter, to where I was five years ago when I started my job. I was able to maintain for about a year, but there is so much food at work, stress crept in, I picked up other hobbies, etc, etc, and I stopped working out so much. I was also running a lot when we lived in Melbourne, but the move to Miami seemed to be a bit of a detriment to that. I would love to look like I did five years ago:
This is me and my friend Stephanie in Jacksonville right before we moved down here. Those pants: can't wear 'em. That top: wouldn't be caught dead in it right now. Talk about muffin top and sausage legs. Yikes!
Kasie had a post today on fear and pushing to a 10, giving it all of your effort. She spoke of working out but also on art. I really need to incorporate that into both of those aspects, devoting more time and energy to each and actually accomplishing the results and goals I want. I know I can do both, I just have to put forth the effort to get where I want to be. Getting up in the morning for working out, pushing as far as I can there, and then coming home in the evenings and working a few hours a week on some art so I can get better and actually have work that is good enough to try to sell or at least hang on my walls!
Baloo exerts a true 10 when chasing after sticks and swimming in the water. He knows what he wants!
April 24, 2009
I finally got around to harvesting a few onions tonight to put in the chili Chris made a few nights ago. The chili is already super hot, but I've been adding avocado to it to cool it down. I thought adding the onions would be good so I went and pulled a few up. They smell so divine and they taste a bit sweet, too! I have to thank my brother for giving me the idea to get sets of onions to plant. His garden is doing really well, too!
I can't believe all of the lettuce he harvested! Most of my lettuce is done and bolted, but I have what I think is kale still going and some red leafed lettuce still hanging tough. I say 'think' because the labels I put in last Fall didn't stick around. I've been out most evenings during the week to tend the garden. Only one tomato plant is still up, Arkansas Traveler, hoping it will stick around to provide tomatoes for a few more months. The rest of my containers hold onions, beans, corn, okra and pumpkins. I planted seeds from some decorative white pumpkins, tiny ones, and I believe I am getting my first fruit. I planted a bunch of them, just for fun, so I can't wait for them to turn out. I also have canteloupe and squash growing in the ground and my peppers are really starting to do well. The cowpeas are flowering and after a brief, hopefully, battle with some unknown little bug-pest I hope they will give me lots of good eating in a few weeks.
Chris took this video last weekend of some alligators jumping in a pond in Fakahatchee. It's very cool!
Cheer on a Crappy Day
April 22, 2009
Not the best video on YouTube, but the only other one I found was a photo of a bar with the song playing in the background. I picked up the The Watson Twins: Fire Songs, last week at Border's. Border's is getting rid of most of their music and dvd's and so everything is half price. Pandora.com had them on rotation under my Jenny Lewis station and other than listening to them on Rabbit Fur Coat I didn't know much about them. I love this album. Every song is great and this particular one, Bar Woman Blues is my favorite on the album. A little pick-me-up for a crappy day.
Some days you just want to be a thousand miles away. And some Boo-bear cheeks also help.
April 19, 2009
I've been wanting to make labels for my seeds for awhile. I had been writing the names on all of them, but I thought it looked a little un-professional. Finally, yesterday night I sat down with an Amazon chocolate tomato and drew up this:
I then turned it into labels in Open Office. While I was at it I decided that I needed to update my banner in my shop so I played around in Photoshop and came up with this:
It looks clean and fresh and I'm happy with it! I also went through my seeds this weekend and put them in those clear baseball card holders and I found several seeds that I had enough of to re-list, so check it out. Also, I know I have a few plants I want to put on Etsy, an aloe for sure, so I will be working on that this week. Chris and I just spent a bit of time in the yard this evening and I'm happy to see a lot of pumpkin and squash flowers, a pepper growing on my plant and everything doing fairly well. The corn is growing taller, but I am finding little bugs on my cowpeas. Anyone know what they are? I had been using this vegetable/fruit spray, but I ran out so I improvised with a homemade soap and water mix that I know is a supposed remedy for unwanted pests. I used the 7th Generation dish soap.
Also for the Etsy shop I will probably list this photo for sale. We printed a couple about six months ago on this metallic looking paper from Adorama, but it isn't my favorite paper. It doesn't look bad, but it would look better on regular photo paper. So, if you are interested, that will be listed, too.
Now, it's time for some Blue Bell ice cream!!
27 Miles-3 Days
April 18, 2009
I think this photos sums up the weekend a bit, at least for Baloo. He was such a trooper hiking with us, and despite hobbling around camp on the second night like an 80 year old man, he woke up the third morning and kept on going. Needless to say, he slept the entire car ride home, and we had to put him into the bed because he was too tired to even jump in.
Friday started off in the mid-afternoon since we had to drive all the way up there that morning. It was quite warm in the afternoon and Baloo would run up ahead to the shady spots, wait for us to catch up and then proceed to the next one. It was a little game with him. We didn't see much wildlife, some Sherman's fox squirrels and that was about it. We weren't but a quarter of a mile or so from our camp that night when off to the side in the woods we saw a four-wheeler and assummed someone was checking out caves that are known to be in the park, but we didn't know. Shortly after arriving to camp the four-wheeler pulled up and it was a fish and wildlife biologist doing red cockaded woodpecker studies. There were trees marked near the campsite that she was checking out for the birds to be preparing for nesting. Red cockaded woodpeckers are threatened by habitat loss as they nest in longleaf pine forests and they aren't as abundant as they used to be due to logging and other activities. The biologist was kind enough to give us some water to refill our camelbacks and bottles because there isn't any water in the area. We had stashed two gallons each in two separate areas along some forest roads for us to pick up on Saturday and Sunday, but with Baloo, he was drinking more than we thought and I drink a lot of water while hiking as well. It was nice to have some cold water to relax.
There was still enough light in the day to laze about the campsite...
We broke camp the next morning and headed about 2 miles to our water stop. Along the way we found some paw-paw's.
When we got our water spot we were dismayed to see that one of the jugs had compressed overnight and about a quarter of the water had leaked out. So, we were lucky to have a bit of the water from the biologist the day before!
From the water spot it was about five miles or so to a large sink that we we planned on stopping at for lunch. Along the way we found these pretty lilies, but I'm not sure what they are called.
There was actually quite a bit of terrain to this area, some steeper sandhills and tricky footwork around some rocks around the sink area. My knees definitely felt it the third morning from the downhills. We got to the second camp fairly early, around 2pm and we lazed about the cloudy afternoon in the tent and hammock again until I heard crunching leaves and saw that we had been joined by another couple and dog! Tired Baloo was excited to see a doggie friend, but not excited enough to play since he was so tired. We were running low on water by that time but we had enough for dinner and rationed the rest to get us through the night and then hit it early to the 1.5-2 mile to the next water stop. After filling our water on Sunday we did some leapfrogging with the other couple, but they quickly sped past us since I had blisters on my feet and couldn't walk quite so fast. I've got to figure something out with my blisters. Gah!
We ended up seeing three owls over the weekend, the last being this one on the way to our water drop.
After satisfying our appetites for lunch at Wendy's we made our way back down to south Florida. It took Boo a good two days to recuperate! I was quite sore for a few days as well, my legs feeling stiff and tight.
I've got a lot of creative things on my agenda for the weekend and I will be doing good if I can accomplish half of them! I hope to share some later on this week!
Murder by Morning Dew
April 9, 2009
There are certain things you aren't supposed to do with a camera. Take photos with the lens on, throw the camera in the air, give it to a child to play with. Get it wet. Unfortunately, my beautiful little Canon Rebel XTI decided to run away in the night and awake to play in the morning dew. Or rather, it's pathetic owner took it outside one evening to photograph the wonders of the garden, set it down on the step ladder, made a mental note to bring it in and remembered the next morning. It was sitting in pooled dew on the ladder and dew was covering it's sleek, black exterior. Quickly I grabbed some towels to dry it off, opening all of the little flaps to see how bad it was. It turned on, but later it was revealed that nothing on the manual settings would work. Automatic settings would shoot something, but it also provided a nice grinding noise to go with it. This all comes when we were going to make a trek to Everglades Nationanl Park to see the cigar orchids in bloom. I pouted instead. I'm now researching other cameras, the new XSI, a 50D perhaps. *sigh*. Don't be a dummy and leave your camera outside!!!
Aside from that disaster, I suppose I can share the rest of my California photos! In the evening on one of the days I wanted to get outside of the city to explore a bit. It was still a good two hours to the mountains and I wasn't up for that much driving so I asked Chris to look up some trails for me. He initially found Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, however I only found a closed ranger station and no real access points. After reading some brochures I found that it is largely undeveloped. I picked up a brochures for Cosumnes River Preserve. I called Chris back to get their phone number to find out more information; I didn't want to drive down further if they were going to close early. Luckily, I was able to get there since they closed at dusk! WOO! I didn't realize that the Sacramento area is in a delta, with several rivers converging before going into San Francisco Bay. I had a great time walking around as it was relatively quiet. Only a few other people were walking around, taking photographs of migratory birds and some of the newly green plants. Here are my favorites:
Trust me, I looked behind my back a lot! Mountain lions are known to be more aggressive than our Florida panthers!
I followed this little bird around for awhile. There were quite a few around, too. My bird book says that it should be a towhee.
It was nice to see lupines growing. I miss having bluebonnets around. I grew some a few years ago in a container, and tried sowing some this year but they never came up.
The light was coming in great for this one. All around I kept seeing perfect little light areas and trying to take photos of them.
There were lots of little bunnies running around. Some were more skittish than others, but this one stayed just long enough for a clear shot.
Another bird that I saw quite a bit of around a marsh and pond but I couldn't figure out what it was in my bird book.
After I walked the main trail area, about three miles, I went across the street to another marsh area. There I found some very interesting birds.
Chris knew what they were right off the bat, but I looked them up just to be sure and they are American Avocets. They would put their beaks into the mud and walk around almost in tandem, looking for dinner. Very cool birds!
You can see the rest of the set here. After I finished with the preserve I went back and walked around downtown Sacramento. It wasn't the most hopping city. I thought it would be a little like Denver, but it was fairly quiet and some eateries were open. I would definitely go back to California and spend more time ambling around the wilderness. I'd love to peek into San Francisco next time!
In the rest of the news, I've been doing a lot in the yard lately, taking advantage of cooler evenings. Lettuce is going to seed and I'm fighting some sort of aphid looking things on my collards and black eyed peas. I found some also on my okra and pumpkins. I brought out some vegetable spray to see if I could get rid of them. So far they look ok. I'm crossing my fingers. Leo is looking forward to his 5th birthday in a few weeks. Ok, so we are looking forward to his fifth birthday! It's amazing how fast he has grown up from a squirty kitten to what he is now, a squirty cat. ;)
The West Coast
April 4, 2009
Hello blog world! Excuse my absence, but I was in California for work last week. Unforutunately there wasn't free internet other than a quick 15 minute pass from the Starbucks in the Sacramento Convention Center, so I didn't decide to pay for the 'net. It worked out. I got to relax in the evenings and I watched a few movies on tv instead. I flew in last Sunday since my conference started Monday morning and it takes practically all day to get across the country with layovers. I gained three hours on Sunday so I had time in the afternoon to take a jaunt over towards San Francisco to visit with one of my best friends, Rosemarie. She took off for California just about the same time we took off for Florida and since her family lives in the Austin area and mine are in Ft. Worth, we just never crossed paths for holidays. I saw her again for the first time last October and so it was extra special to be able to see her again in only a few short months instead of six years!
Initially we were going to venture into San Francisco proper, but because I was a newbie to the area, she decided I should go to Half Moon Bay with her and meet her in San Mateo. So, after settling in to the hotel I got on the highway and made my way west. I couldn't believe how much traffic there was on a Sunday afternoon. The drive over was very nice, seeing signs of Napa and Sonoma on the way and the beautiful, green hillsides along the freeway. This was my first time in California so I was really trying to absorb it all. When I made it into the main area of the Oakland/San Francisco area I happened to look over to the west where I saw the Golden Gate Bridge! I was so excited that I had to call Chris and my parents! Yes, major dork here...! It was exciting, though! I eventually made it to San Mateo where I left my car and hopped into Rose's car and we proceeded to drive to the Pacific Ocean. The last time I saw the Pacific was almost 11 years ago this summer, prior to entering the Panama Canal after our summer school at sea aboard the Texas Clipper II. Before seeing the ocean we drove through the cute downtown area of Half Moon Bay to search for dinner and settled on sushi at a Japanese restaurant. Mmmmm!
After dinner we went to Pillar Point. It was very cold and like a dummy, or Texan-Floridian, I didn't bring any warm clothes with me. Hey, the weather on the hotel email said that it was going to be in the 70's! Not on the coast!! I was FREEZING! Luckily I'd told Rose ahead of time and she brought extra jackets with her so I could borrow them for our jaunt on the beach. We got out at the point and from here on I'll show you some photos.
The tide was in so we didn't get to check out any tidal pools, but apparently there are octopi and other cool animals along here. Marine biology is coming back to me...
See, how windy it was? Even the bird got its feathers ruffled!
After freezing on the beach we warmed up at New Leaf Community Market, which has a cafe inside. It's very similar to a Whole Foods. While there I bought a few things to have for breakfast and snacks and I think I found the best apple ever. I know that honeycrisp steals many hearts, but I found jonagold! They are so good! I was excited when I found them at Publix yesterday! Seriously, you have to try them! Anyway, before I knew it I had to make the drive back to Sacramento and after my long day of flying it was a long, hard drive. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to Rosie.
I have more photos to share from my trip; I took a trip to a wetland preserve in the evening one day and there are some good photos of that area. I, however, need to process them! Time, time, time.
I'm sitting here on the bed with three boys, Furbutt, Squirt and Big Lug. I spent some time in the yard this evening, mowing and trimming things up. After a week of not watering the vegetable bed I was worried that everything would be wilting, but it was doing quite well. The peppers have flowered and are putting on fruit, the lettuce is flowering, and I had a small strawberry to eat, which I shared with a couple of ants that had already put a small hole in it. I also dug up a few carrots. They tasted very earthy! I will have to try carrots in containers next Fall as our soil is very rocky. I still have several carrots left that weren't developed all the way so I will see if they will continue to grow or not. I was very happy with the yard this evening. It just looked so happy!
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