Sunday, August 29, 2010

Butterfly Nerds

I just got a photo/text message from a friend out in CA- it was a picture of a Queen butterfly she saw the other day. Some back-and-forth texting ensued (or if you're REALLY into butterflies you would've considered it sexting?) that made me realize spending a summer at Hershey Gardens' Butterfly House (last year) turned me into kind of a butterfly nerd.

I'll now do my best to start the process of turning you into a butterfly nerd, too.

I bet you know what that is.
It's a Monarch!
If you already knew that you're pretty awesome!
This one is a male. You can tell by the two black spots in the center of the lower wings. The females have thicker black veins in their wings and don't have those two black dots.

I bet you know what THIS butterfly is, too- even though you may not know you know! It's the Monarch Impostor: The Viceroy! Almost everyone's heard of "that butterfly that tries to look like a Monarch when it knows it isn't." They are right! That's what it does!

How do you tell the difference? Take a look at this butterfly and the Monarch above. Even though their wings are in slightly different positions, you can see the defining mark. A hint: Look at the lower wings.

If you didn't find it yourself, it's ok, you're still awesome!
The bottom wings of the Viceroy have a black line that goes through the middle of the lower wings across the veins. That black line is how you tell the difference! You can see it on both sides of the wing.

Sometimes a butterfly's wings look completely different on the top side (the side that faces the sky when they fly) versus the bottom! A perfect example is below.

Do you know what this guy is?
It looks quite similar to the Monarch, but this butterfly is actually called a Queen. It has no dark black veins running through the upper wings like the Monarch has. It's also more brownish in color. When a Queen opens its wings, the top sides of the wings are just the rusty color with black along the outer edges- the veins are not prominent at all, as seen in this photo by Korall:

For more neat things about Monarchs, have a look at this site:

This is the Monarch Caterpeeeeeeeeellar! It's yellow and white and black and stripey. Plus you'll know it's a Monarch Baby if you found it on Milkweed! A lot of people confuse it with the Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpeeeellar. I've done paintings of both now, so I consider myself the expert on all things caterpeellar. Ok not really, but doing the paintings in addition to time at the butterfly house was quite informative!

 I admit... I find it ridiculously fun to say "caterpeeeellar."


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh no! Not has a sad....?

After recently watching a bunch of Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes (the disc was in the DVD player and it's the only DVD the movers didn't pack!), I noticed that- similarly to a happy face = instant cute, you can also immediately feel sorry for something if you add a sad little pouty face.

Check out poor Meatwad here:
Awwwwwww.... soooooooooo sad!!!! :(

Poor sad worms! I think they are doing it. I wonder why they're sad. Maybe in worm-time, it's like 4am, and they've just gotten back from the worm bar. They went home together, thinking it would be fun, but each of them knows deep down they could do better than this, and just hooked up with the first worm who paid them any attention because they've been pretty lonely lately... And even though that 35 minutes of drunken flirtation was a bit of an ego-boost, in the long run, this will do nothing for their already low self-esteem.
Poor low-self-esteem-having worms!

Awww poor sad swamp! Just because no one wants to play in you because you stink and are probably full of alligators... well... that algae sure seems to be having a good time! Yay! See? You're a nice home for algae, it's living it up! Don't be so hard on yourself!

Ohhh, poor you, sad mold! Why so sad? Because so many people are allergic to you, and you ruin all the food? That when people see you just sitting there, minding your own business on an orange or perhaps a half-eaten loaf of bread, they get pissed and insist the food has now "gone bad" and JUST THROW YOU AWAY?
Think of all the people you're cured, with your penicillin producing self. 

Aww, look here at the poor Virginia Disclosure Laws! They are sooo sad that our contract was written with not one mention of them whatsoever.
"FINE, don't think about US! Just pretend we don't even exist! ...No one listens to us anymore.   I bet if we made ourselves big hefty heaping line of asbestos fibers RIGHT HERE and snorted it up through a rolled up dollar bill and immediately got cancer and died NO ONE WOULD EVEN NOTICE!! HMPH!"
Little laws.... I promise that if we ever have to make another contract on a house in Virginia, you won't be neglected! We didn't even know about you til 4 days ago!

Is Sad Spaghetti sad because it's going to get eaten? Well, that's what happens to spaghetti.

I can't possibly even imagine why any of these items would be sad! ...They've got front seats to an episode of The Sopranos!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Just Add Cute

I just realized something. You can make anything- ANYTHING- cute by just adding a face.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Art Studio: temporarily closed!

In case you haven't been following along, I'm moving!... this weekend. Probably. Maybe. Ok, I have no stinkin' idea what's gonna happen at this point. But I do know that the art studio, for the most part, is all packed up. No more paintings. No more prints. (For now.)

(However, if you're just dying for a print from yours truly, they're available here at imagekind AND you can even get them framed for really super reasonable prices!)

So... about the move.

A few weeks ago, we found out the house had mold. The seller agreed to have it remediated.... fine. I guess.

Yesterday was the day that the house was scheduled to get its mold inspection. At this point we haven't gotten the results, but during this inspection, the mold inspector found something eeeeeiiiiiiiiinteresting in the basement. Something that had been... overlooked before.

Can you guess? Oh come on, Just guess.

Yummy... delicious... fraying... falling apart... asbestos insulation on the ceiling.

You can imagine my reaction.

See how it says "Party all the time", but Eddie looks waaaay too serious to party? I bet he wrote "Party all the time" when he was caught up in the euphoric excitement of buying his first house, then right before they took this picture, one of 'his people' called up and was like "Uhhhh, Eddie? Just found toxic carcinogens all up in your ceilings man."

So after doing all this fundraising to help cure cancer, I'm about to be the proud owner of a cancer factory!!! That's right, so if you know anyone who could use some extra cancer in their life.... just send 'em on over.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Kind of Magic :)

Dog walking isn't my favorite chore. Ok, I generally kind-of hate it. However, last week after catching up on some blogs that I follow, I read an entry about caterpillars (oh help, I can't find the blog now!!) and decided from that moment on, dog walking would be no more.

Instead I would think of it as... Bug Hunting!

Not hunting like killing. Hunting like finding :)

Last night I decided when I took my dog out for his walk, I'd bring my phone with me and call in some Indian take-out and pick it up on our way home. Palak Paneer and Naan here I come! After ordering my food I had about 20 minutes to kill so I started scouring a bunch of the trees for cicadas as per usual.



Did you really think I was going to end that sentence with a preposition!?!?

I clumsily got out my phone and fumbled around with the buttons to switch to camera mode. I was so excited my hands were shaking!!

This one was just coming out of its skin! It was still resting on the skin when I took this first photo.

Sooooo beautiful!! I've never seen one in this state!

My dad has told me that when they come out their bodies are yellow and their eyes are red. I didn't get to see one in that state, but I had never heard of this cool blue-green state (with a coppery body!)

I've got another week or week and a half left of living here in the Burg so you bet your @ss I'm bringing my camera with me every evening when I take the dog for his walk!

Apparently these are Dog Day cicadas. They come out during the dog-days of summer (go figure) which makes sense since that's the part of summer we seem to be in now, although this week has been a lot cooler than the last few.

This is one of those bug-events that I've always wanted to see but never, ever have! I've been seeing TONS of cicada skins on the trees around here this month (but it's not time for the big big 17 year brood or even the 13 year brood) so I've been keeping my eyes out for them, hoping to see one crawling up a tree and witness the whole transformation!

It's a kind of magic! I had this song in my head all night long after the experience :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Feeling either envious... or motivated? (Or quite possibly BOTH!)

Lately more and more, I've been noticing that some of my favorite artists- some I know in person, some I know or follow online through Etsy/Twitter/Blogger/Facebook/etc. are having a lot of great success!

I see Facebook posts showing that a new painting has sold. 
I see multiple artists posting that their 2011 calendars have arrived and are ready to be shipped! (And we're not talking they ordered 10 or so calendars 'in case' anyone happens to order one- we're talking boxes and boxes of them, hundreds! Anticipating that many to be sold... Wow!)
I see another friend who is celebrating her 100th Etsy sale.
And yet another who is celebrating her 600th!

I always think it's super cool to see success like this because a lot of these artists I've been a fan of since they were just starting out. Maybe they had a few sales on Etsy, or maybe they've blogged about an art show that they've gotten into. And suddenly they're on their way to doing this full time! Plus it gives hope to the art community as a whole- that the economy isn't dead, that you *can* make a living doing what you love (and not workin' for the man!)  :)

And then I find myself going... wait... when did all this happen? What did I miss? How'd they go from the occasional Etsy sale to suddenly being.... not necessarily famous, but definitely sought after? 
What am I doing wrong that I'm still in about the same place I was two years ago?

It occurs to me that trying to spread myself out over my regular job, dog walking, fixing dinner (yes I used to make a home cooked meal almost every night!), and triathlon training sent art to the back burner quickly. By the time I had time for it at night, I was too exhausted from everything else. It was easy to almost ignore it for a while- I had the mindset of, "Hey, the bills have to get paid.... the dog needs to be walked... I need to stay healthy... Logically it's the easiest thing to give up." But of course I can't turn a hobby into a job if I don't pay any attention to it. 

Now throw in packing for a move in HOPEFULLY a week and a half and I've not only got no time to do the art, but not a great space to do it in either. Not that I ever had that here. I'm hoping that in the new house, where I will have a dedicated space just for art related stuff, I'll be able to spend more time on it and get more done and more efficiently since I plan to create a super organized beautimous new studio! :)

Once I get all that going, I just have to figure out how to promote myself. That's where I feel like I missed the boat- all the other artists I've been following took the last couple years to refine their craft AND learn how to run a business.

This year all I've learned is... how to swim! ;)
...Not a bad skill to have nevertheless.

So what do you do to promote yourself? What have you done to learn more about how to promote and run your hobby as a business?

Guess I better get back to stalking  research!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Edition of: What's That Plant?

These things are growing wild up here in PA and blooming like crazy. AND they smell amazing, a sweet and almost citrusy smell. Obviously it's some native plant, and thus if they will grow in VA (which I would assume they will), I'd love to have some in my native pollinator garden.

(And of course... I'm thinking about doing a painting from one of these photos I took.)

So..... What is it??

Prickly seed pod :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giveaway is closed and we have a WINNER!

It's Wednesday, so not only is it Business Time, but it also means my CSN Stores giveaway is over and it's time to pick a winner!

I'm going to use a random number draw, courtesy of, to determine a winner. has a super cool List Randomizer tool that I used to come up with a list of everyone who entered including the extra entries :)
List Randomizer was the easiest way to do this since some readers left two separate comments (one for the item they wanted and another to let me know they follow) and some left one comment to tell me both things. (Next time I'll be more specific!)

So here we have our list and they even numbered it for me. Sweet!

Now I'll let pick a random number between 1 and 26....

(Click to see full size)

Number 22 is MBC!
Congrats to you and enjoy your flask (which I'm sure won't be hard to do!)! I'll notify the winner and CSN to get the gift certificate all worked out.

Thanks for playing :)

Next giveaway will be an 8"x10" print. Stay tuned!

It's business... It's business time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSN Stores Giveaway!!

I know I posted a teaser recently on Facebook about a giveaway on my blog.... So HERE IT IS! 

CSN Stores is sponsoring a $60 Gift-Certificate giveaway from their shops and one of you wonderful readers will win!

Obviously with my upcoming move to VA I've been doing a LOT of thinking about how to decorate our new pad. We couldn't do much here in our apartment and since we were only going to be here a year and a half, we didn't want to do much. Needless to say this place hardly feels like home.

I've been haunting and bookmarking countless items to my "House Ideas" bookmarks folder from CSN. They have over 200 specialty online stores and they've got EVERYTHING!

They've got bedroom furniture sets, office furniture, fitness equipment, pet supplies, home improvement items such as lighting and ceiling fans, AND many eco-friendly items, too!

Take a look at their website:
and check out some of their great items! They've got a ginormous selection to fit into any budget!
Some of the items I'm dreaming of.... 

I know, I know, you really want to know- HOW DO I WIIIIIIIN?
It's quite painless and simple.

#1 Leave me a comment *on this post* telling me which wonderful item(s) you want to buy if you win the $60! (one comment entry per person, 50 comments will not get you more chances.. sowwwy!) You don't have to be a follower of my blog to win. But if you ARE a follower of my blog, please tell me so because...

#2 If you're a follower of my blog, you get an automatic additional bonus entry when you comment! (You must leave a comment to be entered though.)
See on the left (scroll up) where it says "people who are awesome"? Do you want to be awesome ? (Yeeeesss.) And do you want an extra chance to win an awesome giveaway for awesome people? Excellent! We are on the same page then. Just click the "Follow" button, even if you're a non-conformist, just this once. Ta-dah! Extra entry for you.

This giveaway will close at 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, August 10. Entries after this time cannot be considered (sorry!).
The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Wednesday, August 11. You have 48 hours to claim your prize.... after that I reserve the right to pick another winner.

Have fun doing your browsing and good luck! :)