Sunday, May 31, 2009

A pretty (and hopefully secure) way to hide a few remotes

Hi, my name is Chris, and I have a dog named Adora that eats things that she shouldn't. I admit it. She eats lots of things. Things like remote controls, shoes, cordless phones...things you personally don't think are all that tasty, but that she enjoys destroying when she's home alone (with Spanky, Max, and Dollie, that is).

And it doesn't stop there. Adora is a master at opening bottles and packages and getting at food, especially when I take Spanky and her in the car with me, which is quite often. Not even a bottle of water is safe. She will take the bottle of water, carefully unscrew the cap (even if it hasn't been opened), and drink the water from the bottle without spilling very much, if anything. This happens almost daily when I take Adora with me in the car, so I've had to hide water bottles under the seats, but she still gets to things down there. The only safe place to hide stuff is under a shelf in the back of my CRV, where Adora can't get to things. If I don't hide stuff back there, I pay. I have caught her opening yogurt containers, bananas, chili dog containers, boxes of candy, candy bars, bags of chips.... Adora has even taken an entire cup of iced coffee and drank it, with barely a drop spilled, while I ran into Target.

Anyhow, I digress. I was at Michael's on Monday and found some pretty paper boxes of different shapes and sizes. I loved a particular bird box, but as always, I try to think of what practical use such an item will serve in my house.

I hadn't thought of one until the following day, when I realized the box could easily fit both our cable and DVD remote controls.

The previous cable remote had been killed by Adora in the past, and Pete and I always worry she'll set her sights on the humble replacement remote one of these days. But now I have a pretty box to hide both remotes from her ravenous ways.

Although I'm not so sure that she can't open the box and get at them. She has opened storage bins in my car to get at candy before. Well, I guess we'll give it a try and see what happens.

They always look so innocent, don't they?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Great Strides Walk

In two weeks I'll be walking in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Great Strides Walk. I'll be joining Nicole and my niece Isabelle in this worthy cause. Please stop by my home page if you are interested in making a donation. My goal is $150, but anything above and beyond that is greatly appreciated (and needed). Thank you!

(P.S. If the link doesn't work for you, try searching for me under "Find A Walker" in the side bar under "Christina Hoogestraat.")

Walking with Jen

I loaded up my pretty picnic basket and set out to meet Jen on Wednesday. We decided we haven't seen each other enough since being laid off, so we are starting a walking regimen. And a picnic lunch was our little treat after our exercise.

My basket, open and waiting for dishes and the like

Shoe Factory Woods, where we walked the bike path

My New Balance 806 running shoes, which I wore to our walking session

We had a great time exercising, catching up, bitching and ranting (which we used to do during our breaks at work), and just enjoying the weather. Later we unpacked all of our food in a picnic pavilion and had a nice lunch of salad, watermelon, and cheese and crackers. It was delightful and relaxing, although the birds living in the shelter kept dive bombing our heads, making us rather nervous. All in all, it was a great day and a great way to spend time with my buddy Jen.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Artful Penpals

I came across this brilliant idea proposed by Shelagh at Artful Penpals. It's all about reviving the art of letter writing, and the beauty and thought in the written letter. And what better way to do so than to have a bunch of pen pals writing letters to each other? Use your fanciest stationery and your prettiest stamps. Make it as original as you are. Imagine what YOU'D like to receive in the mail, and use that as an idea to work off of. I'm already brainstorming on just what I'm going to send to my pen pal. It's so exciting and fun to create something lovely for someone else to discover in their mailbox, isn't it?

Interested? Sign up here.

Out of sorts

I've been feeling very "off" for the last several weeks, and I'm not sure why. Before that I was enjoying a few months of relatively good health: hardly any headaches/migraines, energetic, happy, no stomach issues, etc. But now I'm the opposite, except perhaps the happy part, although the poor health is affecting my attitude the longer it goes on. I can't attribute it to anything in particular, and I'm baffled as to what to do about it.

The migraines scare me, because they've been relatively rare since last September after I went off the pill. When I was on the pill, I suffered from 10-15 migraines a month (!), many quite severe, more so than I had been used to. But once I stopped taking the pill, the number dropped to 1-3 a month, if that. So for them to start up during the last several weeks for no reason—and to be increasing slowly from week to week—scares and depresses me.

My stomach has also been in turmoil, even though I'm eating the same things, or less of them. I can understand the energy going downhill because of the migraines and stomach problems, but it's still frustrating. My current physical state is making me not want to take pictures, draw and paint, laugh with friends, go out and about, and other such activities. It's making me crabby.

I'm not sure what's going on, but I hope for it all to end soon, so I can go back to feeling fantastic, like I have been since being laid off (ha ha, how ironic).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dollie vs. a bowl of cherries

If you are a photographer and have pets like me, you know that you often get "helpers" that "assist" you in your photo shoots. They tend to move stuff around for you or pose in your shot to help you focus. Sometimes the ensuing photograph is better than the intended original, but often you get a blurry mess. Other times you get something interesting or even worthy of saving. In any event, you have a laugh at your furry children's antics.

Such was the case this past weekend. I had bought some cherries at Target and decided, on a whim, to take some photos. And since our dining room floor is still unpainted, I thought the white bowl and red cherries would look pretty with the blue-green-brown floorboards in the background. I set the bowl on the floor and started to take pictures, snapping off a few somewhat blurry but colorful images.

I was just getting into it when a furry head popped into view in front of my camera lens. Dollie (the cat in my blog banner, for those of you new to this blog) had somehow caught wind of this impromptu photo session and decided to help herself to one of the cherries. She picked one out of the bowl with her little monkey paw (I swear she has opposable thumbs) and started to play a game of cherry soccer, Dollie-style. I just sat back and watched her for a while, snapping a few pix but mainly enjoying this burst of spontaneous game play. She played with her little "ball" for quite some time, until it was either squishy from being batted about or eaten by one of the dogs (Adora likes cherries, we've discovered).

Later on, the bowl of cherries was sitting on our enamel table in the kitchen, and Dollie decided to play some more. She hopped up on the table, took another cherry out of the bowl, jumped onto the floor with it in her paw, and started playing soccer again. I had to laugh and watch her again, since she obviously was having fun and was oblivious to the world around her as she played. Dollie partially hid inside a plastic bag at one point, using it as a sort of blind, and repeatedly pounced on the hapless cherry. Another tactic was to send the cherry flying under and around the construction equipment in the dining room, whereafter she'd chase the little missile and intercept it in different ways. This game play is not unusual behavior for Dollie, but it always surprises and delights me. Max is a much calmer, more relaxed cat, and very rarely plays at all, but Dollie is full of mischeif.

What a weird, weird cat.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bank, schmank

I have had lots of fun with a bank snafu this weekend, and it just reminds me that there isn't always a method to someone (or something's) madness. Just because ATMs are 24-hour and you deposit money in one on Saturday afternoon does NOT mean that money is credited to your account. Oh, no, not only do you have to wait til the first business day for it to be credited to your account, but if this happens on a holiday weekend and you have shopping to do, well, too bad for you. And since it's a holiday weekend, the first business day falls on a Tuesday.

But wait, do you think on Tuesday you can finally have that money credited to your account? Of course not. Because, as the bank rep said on the phone, the funds are credited on the first business day after you deposit your money, but not until midnight, or Wednesday a.m. Which is technically the SECOND business day after you deposit those funds. Meanwhile, your account balance is in the negative digits (what???) despite the fact you just ADDED money on Saturday. Oh sure, they'll continue subtracting your transactions, silly. Of course, THAT counts immediately! But try to ADD anything to your balance and you're out of luck. Funny how that works, eh?

Sorry, I know this is a rant in the guise of a post, but I had to let it out. Ahhhh...I feel better now.

(Image courtesy

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A visit to Willowbrook Wildlife Clinic

My mom, Sam, Henry, Jane, and I all visited Willowbrook Wildlife Clinic in Glen Ellyn on Friday. I'd been there before, but it had been a few years. The big news was that Willowbrook had a bobcat on the premises, which caused much excitement among the visitors.

First, we strolled around inside the clinic where we viewed both living and not-so-living residents, like this coyote.

Henry was fascinated by a snake that kept going in and out of a glass bottle.

A patient

My mom and Jane—Jane was smacking my mom on the head in this photo, which is why my mom is laughing.

A somber mourning dove

Sam and Henry check out some more birds.

Henry watches the turtle swimming around in its tank.

Mom and a post-cry Jane

Making our way further through the clinic

After finishing our tour of the indoor clinic, we stroll through the outdoor exhibit.

This volunteer was sharing interesting information about this owl. The owl had a thing about Jane and locked its eyes on her for several uneasy moments.

Some pretty purple flowers on the grounds

Mama Sam kissing Jane

Henry, Sam, and Jane looking at an eagle exhibit

Mom and Sam hold Henry as he checks out some animals.

An eagle (I think)

Some owls

Mom lifts up Henry so he can get a better look at...

...these raccoons.

The much-hyped bobcat, who seemed bored and somewhat tired.

Sam, Jane, and Henry in the butterfly lookout

Pretty koi swimming in the koi pond

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scrabble dabble do

Izzy and I have been playing Scrabble almost daily after she comes home from school. If I'm not out running errands she'll stop by my house til her parents come home, and we often entertain ourselves with Scrabble. We just started seriously playing, but we've both found we have a real fondness for the game. I have discovered that my spelling skills are a bit rusty at the moment (which shocks me as a proofeader), but that's okay. We both tap into the dictionary from time to time to verify our word selections.

I'm not sure that we're playing by the official rules, but we have fun. We like to sit out on the patio and enjoy the summery weather as we challenge each other. Sometimes we take a break to eat, or yell at the dogs (they're always getting into things), or cuddle with the cats, or trade wisecracks with Pete. But otherwise we're pretty serious about our games. So far, Pete hasn't shown much interest, but we might end up recruiting a few hapless souls who pass by. Our next game will feature only people's names (and nothing too crazy, we've agreed).

(P.S. Don't forget to check out this week's Macro Monday image at vivid.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Off to Michael's

I don't know about you, but I like to hit Michael's for my basic framing and craft needs. They don't have the biggest selection of frames, but I do like that I get a 40% coupon for a single item every time I buy something. And then they're constantly having sales, so you can often get a nice frame (or other item) for up to 50% off. That's where I'm headed today, to frame my vintage magazines.

I think I need a document frame for them because some are rather thick. Or perhaps a shadow box?

Oh yeah, and I have to mow the lawn, do laundry, get serious about a veggie and herb garden, too. Holiday weekend? What holiday!? I've been cleaning up a storm since Friday night. Oh well, at least it's been beautiful so far, and I have been able to spend some good quality time with my hubby, family, and pets.

Happy rest-of-the-weekend, everyone!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Exhausted Pete

This is what my hubby looks like after a hard day of work, like he was on Wednesday night. Sprawled out on the couch, belly full of dinner, muttering and moaning in his sleep (he does that a lot), safety glasses tossed aside (although often on his head), and hair molded into a "frozen explosion" (that's what I call it cuz it's stiff and doesn't move). Often times the animals will walk by every so often, sniff him, and move on. Very cute.

Upgrading to CS4

I need to upgrade my software at some point to CS4 (I'm running CS2). What blows is I would need both Photoshop AND Illustrator (and not so much the other stuff, including InDesign) but the price for a bundle is $500—which is quite a bundle itself. I know it'll be tax deductible because it's software for my freelance business, but eesh. Perhaps I should wait until it becomes an issue and someone actually requests I work in CS4?

Right now, an external hard drive is more important, especially since I'm flooding my poor laptop's hard drive with photos and illustrations. Oh, if only I had more money...or really, any at all....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun at the DMV and Crate and Barrel Outlet goodies

I went to the Naperville DMV on Wednesday to change my name on my license, so that I can move on with life and transfer my 401k funds from my old job. That was a half hour of government fun. I look like a boy in my picture because my hair was pulled back and I didn't have any girly stuff on. I liked my old picture better, but just getting that task out of the way is more than worth it. Changing your name is a total pain in the butt, don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. I still have stuff needing changing: credit cards, my auto insurance, etc. And my new last name is a mouthful, so it's always fun to get people to spell and pronounce it correctly.

As a consolation prize, I stopped by Crate and Barrel Outlet and picked up a few cute things:

Bird Bath Stand (I'm using it as a feeder.)

Woven Birdhouse

Silicon Grips (similar to this but better)

Bird Teapot

Marin Ramekin (I'm using it as a catch-all dish on my desk.)

Appetizer Platter

It made my trip through the roped DMV lines worth it.