Monday, January 26, 2015

Blue Monday: Winter Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.


I hate to have to say this, but ... it's winter. Words to send terror through my being. I may have mentioned (one or twice) how I hate winter. If I haven't -- well, I'm mentioning it now. And I apologize to all you cold weather enthusiasts -- I just really never have warmed to winter. (Hee-hee.)


We've been having an awful lot of rain here in central Texas this winter. (Yeah, rain is also not one of my favorite things.) Not enough to bring Lake Travis up to its normal levels, but much more than usual. It's also been much colder than normal all during January. But the last few days have been blissfully sunny and a little warmer -- although still too cold for my liking. I do love the intensely blue skies we get, this time of year, though. Don't get to spend as much time out in the sunshine as I'd like because of the red cedar that's going crazy all around us right now. Haven't had as much trouble with that this year, but I do remember what it did to my eyes a couple of winters ago:


Ah, yes! Alligator skin! Call me the lizard lady. OK -- I can't blame the wrinkles on the cedar. But it was definitely the cause of all the swelling, itching and redness -- which lasted for several months and nearly drove me out of my tiny mind. So when the cedar turns red, I retreat indoors and stay there until it starts turning green again. And that's only a month or so away. Well, at least I should get a lot of reading done. Assuming my eyes don't swell shut again.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Blue Monday: Charming Blues

Blue Monday is hosted weekly by Smiling Sally.
To see more offerings, or to participate yourself, please head on over to her blog.


Can you believe we're nearly two weeks into the new year? I'm having trouble with that. I know that's a sign of being exceedingly elderly, but it does seem like time is just flashing right past me. What happened to the holidays? What happened to Christmas? I blinked and it was over!

The Hubby decorating the tree.
UN-decorating looked pretty much the same.

Actually, we had a really nice Christmas this year. Got to visit with some very old (in length of acquaintance, that is!) friends who we don't see all that often. We had intended to be out and about a little more during December, but the weather just didn't cooperate. Still, it was a nice, festive holiday -- if a little quiet.

And we got some very nice gifts. Michael and I don't generally give each other Christmas presents, but this year he surprised me (!!!) with this:


I had been hinting that I'd like a Pandora charm bracelet -- for several years now. But for some reason, this year it clicked.

OK, I know it's not blue -- the bracelet and the charm/spacers are all silver. So here are a few of the blue charms I'm thinking of putting on it.


I'm having trouble deciding whether I want it to be strictly a "biographical" bracelet, with only charms that represent my life and my family. Or if I just want to go with a color scheme or some other theme. It'll probably take me quite a while to get it filled up. Or even partially filled. I've got a Pinterest board with examples of charm bracelets I like, but of course I wouldn't want mine to look exactly like any of those. So coming up with a design and filling it up should be lots of fun.

Oh, and one more thing -- just to be perfectly circumspect -- I am in no way affiliated with the Pandora people. I just like their jewelry.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cold Saturday

Today's snap is the view from my craft room window:

(Click on photo to enlarge)

Sorry about the blurriness -- the window isn't as clean as it might be. Tsk, tsk.

Bleak, isn't it? It's a view of our back patio/garden area, and it looks so sad with all the flowers and plants gone. And even though you can't really tell from this photo (there's a lot of evergreen out there), it's pretty icy this morning. Cold, cold, COLD.

I hate winter. Can you tell? January is typically our coldest month here in the Texas Hill Country, and every year I have a harder time getting through it. Of course, it's nothing compared to the winters we used to struggle through up in Northern Virginia. But I guess somehow when we moved back down here, I was expecting year-round summertime. Don't know why -- when we lived in Austin back in the late '60s/early '70s, we had some of the coldest, nastiest winters I've ever experienced, anywhere. So I should have been better prepared.

And there's more cold, damp weather predicted for the rest of the weekend and into next week. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the red cedar and mold amping up my allergies and asthma. Bummer.

One question: Why am I not in Key West right now?


Saturday Snapshot is now hosted by Melinda @ West Metro Mommy Reads.
To see more snaps or participate yourself, just head on over to her blog.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year, New Planner

Well, here we are -- already a whole week into the new year. How did that happen? And of course, a new year means a new planner and a new diary. For me, those are two separate entities: My planner is just for future planning, appointments, schedules; my diary is for noting what actually happens on a daily basis. And I'm talking paper here -- I've tried the digital route, but it just doesn't work for me. I need to write things down.

I have trouble sticking with any ONE planner for a whole year, and tend to switch every few months. Sometimes that's confusing, but it does keep things from getting boring. For the last several years I've been switching back and forth between my various Filofaxes and the Erin Condren Life Planners. I started off 2014 with the Erin Condren, but after a few months I decided to try my personal size Finsbury Filo, and ended up sticking with that for the whole second half of the year. It was super convenient -- I was able to have both my planner and my diary in one very portable book, just by using different divisions (monthly, weekly, daily).  But two things bothered me: There wasn't much space for writing my daily notes, and I missed the colorful content of the Life Planners -- Filo pages are pretty dull if, like me, you're not really into doing a lot of decorating.

So for 2015, I've gone back to Erin Condren, at least to start the year; we'll see how long I last. As usual, I had a hard time deciding on the cover design -- you can do quite a bit of customizing with these planners. I finally came up with a very simple black and white design that I was sure I'd love -- until I actually saw it. When I saw the planner "in person," it was just too stark (and actually sort of funereal).

Taffy cover design in black and white

But the EC covers are now interchangeable (!) so I was able to order a new cover set to replace the first one I ordered. The new one is much more colorful and much more fun to look at everyday.

Fleur Feliz cover design in teal and white

And for my daily notes, here's what I'm using in 2015:

Yes, that's Snoopy under the strap!
It's a Moleskine large daily planner in the Peanuts Limited Edition. It has one page for each day of the year, in a size that's big enough (5 x 8.5) for me to write down all the stuff I write everyday, but small enough to cart around easily. And I'm hoping that since I really love Snoopy and Charlie Brown and all their crew, I'll be inspired to stick with it all year.

And just for the record: I'm in no way affiliated with the Erin Condren folks, Filofax, or Moleskine. I just enjoy using their products. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tarantula Hawk Wasp and Dinner


The tarantula hawk is a large wasp (about 2 inches long) that hunts tarantulas. The wasps don't actually eat the spiders, but they feed them to their larvae. Only the females hunt, so I'm supposing this is a mom.


We watched this one spend most of a day hunting down this fairly small tarantula -- well, it was small for a tarantula, but still bigger than the wasp, about three inches or so.  Once she got it and had it under control, she dragged it all the way across our yard, across the driveway, across the sidewalk, and out of view.


She didn't do a lot of flying, but then I guess her victim was a little heavy. The tarantula was still alive during all this, and struggling to get away, but apparently the tarantula hawk's sting is one of the most powerful stings around, so the spider didn't really have a chance. And although they're supposed to be pretty docile, the wasps have been known to sting humans when they think the human is threatening. Needless to say, THIS human stayed well away from the hawk and the spider, and used her telephoto to grab these shots.


(Click on photos to enlarge. Sorry that the lightbox feature doesn't seem to be working on these. Blogger moves in mysterious ways.)


Outdoor Wednesday is hosted by