Friday, August 28, 2009

I Toad You So

Everyone has something about them that's a bit different. Okay, maybe even odd. For me, it's always been a fascination with toads. From a very young age, I have never been able to walk by one without picking it up and making a fuss over it. I thought maybe I would outgrow this silliness, but as you can see from the picture below, it doesn't look like my toad obsession is going away anytime soon.

Pictured here are seven of our nine pet toads. Aren't they adorable! I had a TIME getting them all to cooperate for the camera, and I still couldn't get two of them in the picture. I especially like the picture of Penelope here (third from the left). To most people, it might look like she's pouting because she doesn't want her picture taken. However, I know better: she's our nearsighted toad, and no doubt probably thinks there's a bug right in front of her.

We keep these cuties outside in our giant window well. That I know of, only one has escaped, and that had to have been some kind of amazing toad acrobatics, as the window well is about eight feet deep and toads are rather clumsy creatures. (Way to go, Daphne! You definitely earned your freedom.)

Keeping toads as pets in our window well has worked out great. (I call them pets, but Hubby insists on calling them prisoners.) They are still outdoors--in the environment--and their care is minimal. We keep a container of water for them to sit in (they don't drink water but rather absorb it through their skin), and we toss down bugs in the evening. During the heat of the day, the toads burrow in the sand to regulate their body temperature. Sometimes you will see a little nose or head sticking up out of the sand. Come fall, they burrow very deep until spring. I miss my toadies during the winter months.

They chow down on a wide variety of insects and worms. They are partial to earthworms and Junebugs, but they will not touch slugs. Can't really blame them, can you? We also feed them roly-polys, spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, katydids, moths, and grubs. It is most entertaining to watch a toad eat a large katydid or locust. They will use their front feet to stuff the insect into their mouth. Sometimes there's a leg or wing sticking out and the other toads will try to get the insect away from the toad who caught it. Then a riot ensues and it's not a pretty sight to see toads riot.

After a toad eats a locust, you can pick it up and hold it to your ear and still hear the locust buzzing away inside the toad's stomach! If you listen closely, you can even hear the locust saying, "Get me the hell out of here!"

I hear toads can live up to 30 years or longer. I wonder if I should perhaps mention the care of my toads in my will--in case they outlive me. My beloved Belinda (below) has been with us for about five years. She is a very dignified and fat girl and I find this picture of her hilarious.

Everyone should have a toad or two. Or nine.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Day in the Life of an Etsian

I've been thinking that Etsy has sort of become a lifestyle for me. I mean, how many of us make the daily Etsy rounds? What are the Etsy rounds, you ask? Oh, I think you know!

It goes something like this: Get up in the morning. Scratch, yawn, shower. Brew coffee. Check your shop. (Whoop if you made a sale; grumble if you didn't.) Relist an item. Read and answer convos. Visit the forums and chew the fat with a few friends. Go back and check shop for views (and possible sales). See who hearts you. Oh, yeah, peek at the handy-dandy Heart-o-Tron and see if you have new hearts on your items.

Then, check your shop. Browse treasuries; leave comments. Click on the treasury you created to see if there are new comments. Visit Etsy's front page (just in case your treasury is featured). Do the math to see when new treasuries are coming up. Take a break for coffee. Create a little. Take pictures. Tweak pictures. List an item. Another coffee break. Maybe a bathroom break too. You've had a lot of coffee.

Check your shop.

(And who said hamsters running on those little wheels were silly!)

That's me...on my computer in 40 years, still hanging on!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Patina is not an Italian dish

There has been so much written about photography and Etsy. Little did I know when I opened my Etsy shop that I would plunge headlong into a crash course in photography.

My dad, who is a very experienced photographer, explained to me a lot of stuff about Kelvin degrees, light temperature, and other must-have information that basically made my eyes glaze over and my mind focus on something more interesting (like chocolate). But, in a funny way, I kinda got his point. In essence, if the day is overcast and there's a funnel cloud on the horizon, chances are your subject matter may have a bluish tint to it and you may have to tweak it a bit in your photoshop program. If it's a sunny day, then your subject matter will have warmer hues to it.

Onto a completely different subject, I think I'm really loving working with this aged brass in my jewelry. Now, it doesn't start out as looking aged, unless I buy it from Vintaj (a company that I love, by the way). The components come to me all shiny and new and gold looking--you know, like pimp bling. It arrives as "raw" brass, so I have to age it myself. That, in itself, was an interesting, head-scratching experience. I won't even get into all the methods I tried. The old wives' tales tell you to urinate on it (I'm thinking NOT!), or to bury your raw brass in a dung heap (I'm thinking more NOT!) if you want to darken it. Today's more conventional means, thank you very much, seem to work just fine (I either suspend it over--ahem-- *storebought* ammonia or bake it in the oven). I can hold my head high and proudly confess that none of my brass items have been urinated on or buried in a dung heap. Horrors!

My husband, however, doesn't appreciate the aged brass look at all. "It looks like something you dug up with your metal detector!" he laments. "Well, that's the POINT," I say. "It's SUPPOSED to look old!" Sometimes the guy just doesn't get it. But then, I have to remember, this is the same man that, when I brought home a brand-new rug last week and asked him how he liked it, responded: "It's a rug. It covers the floor."

Uh-huh, I rest my case.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bless This Mess

Well, I've got these four kids. Five, if you include my husband. They're really good kids, but boy, can they make monster-sized messes! My oldest likes to read and write stories. That's a good thing, right? But the stories, the drawings, the books...they are everywhere. If you want to know where Alyssa is, just follow the paper trail. Literally. Chances are, if you follow the trail, you will find Alyssa behind a book or scribbling away furiously in her notebook.

Now, my next child is our horse girl. You know it immediately when you enter Brenna's room: horse pictures tacked to the wall, horse bedspread, horse books, and every Breyer horse that was ever made (okay, maybe not). It's wall-to-wall horses in her room, and I swear it even smells suspiciously like a stable in there. In fact, it's so cluttered with horses that Brenna could sneak in a real live Shetland Pony and no one would even know it. Hmmm...that might explain the stable smell.

And then there's Collin. Collin is in the fifth grade and thinks Legos are the coolest invention since the advent of the wheel. He's got buckets and buckets of Legos, enough to build a replica of the Sears Tower (and I do believe he is working on that as we speak). Legos cover almost every square inch of his floor. I don't know if he creates with them or just slings them around his room for artistic effect. I have no doubt that boy will become an engineer someday. But the Legos end up migrating downstairs...embedded in the carpet, stuffed down into the sofa cushions...even ending up in my vegetable garden, of all places.

And our youngest, Danielle...well, Danny takes the cake. She makes unbelievable, horrific messes that parallel the carnage left behind by an F-5 tornado. That girl literally colors for at LEAST three hours a day. But Little Miss Picasso never cleans up. If you see a pink blur in our house, that's Danny: running by at Mach 2 speed, onto her next disaster, er...I mean, creation. Markers, crayons, coloring books, artwork are everywhere! Because of her, we have confidently bought stock in Crayola.

And my beloved husband? Well, it's basically a laundry issue with him. Here's me: "Honey, look at this new-fangled contraption. It's called a hamper. I know we've only had it for 17 years, but let me explain how it works. You can put your dirty socks in it. Neat, huh?" Apparently, the concept is foreign to him because we are still working on the hamper vs. floor syndrome. Which brings me to...well, ME! I really can't complain too much about everyone else's messes, creative disasters, or dirty clothes sagas when I take a look at my workbench. How can anyone be creative with this type of carnage lying about?

It looks like the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brand Spanking New

Wow, a new blog. Just sitting here...all white and shiny and new. Must fill it up with something. Let's see....

Okay, here's me:

As you can see, I'm not terribly photogenic. Don't like my picture taken, so you won't see many pics of me here.

Next, the fam:

Not the greatest of pictures. I think I resized it one too many times. It looks all pixelated and fuzzy, and my middle daughter looks like a squinty-eyed pirate. Will get another one later.

I'm having a heckuva time adding pictures here. Every time I try to add one, it puts it at the top of my page, no matter where I am in the post. Okay, moving on.

I am a forty-something wife and mother to four. We live in a big two-story house with way too many treacherous stairs and brown recluse spiders. Our house is filled with books, Breyer horses, Legos, and artwork of every kind. We homeschool our kids.

Things I like:






Things I don't like:


jarring noises

big, slobbery dogs

clowns (that should really be put in a phobia category)

I have an Etsy shop:

I try to garden, but the weeds have such a foothold here. I am afraid they are winning.

I like thrift stores and metal detecting. Books call my name and I usually have my nose in one. And I think it's pretty cool that you can rent movies for free at the library.

Every year or so, I also usually fall and break a bone or something. No, I don't have a medical condition, just terribly uncoordinated.

More to follow. I know you're all hanging on the edge of your seat.