Three Little Coffee Charms Sitting in a Row

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

This Christmas, I created some coffee charms for a good friend of mine. He is a potter and so I used images of his work as the inspiration for three tiny coffee & ink paintings. I slipped two of them into fridge magnet frames and made the other one into a key-chain. He was pleased - especially when he recognized the work as his own.

Thought I would share them with you...

Happy Holidays.

No, really.

There's a search engine developer in my bedroom

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Geoff and I were watching Two and a Half Men on the laptop the other night. Well, we were planning to watch it but it was a rerun - which was incredibly disappointing, even though we're not completely sure we even like watching someone as pretty as Ashton Kutcher for more than 5 minutes at a time. But that's not the point.

The reality was that Geoff and I were in bed with a laptop and no plan, so we did what any other happily married couple with a 3 year old fast asleep in another room would do in this situation.

We decided to Google ourselves. Literally. This isn't some sort of code for something else. Really. It isn't.

Google Chrome is the default browser on Geoff's laptop and on that particular evening, a tiny little microphone appeared on the right hand side of the search bar. Of course we clicked on it and when we did, we were presented with an invitation to speak.

Voice search. How cool is that?

I went first and spat out a number of terms. When I said "Geoff Slater", Google heard,  "just later." When I spoke my name,  "Andrea Mulder-Slater" clearly into the microphone, Google misunderstood and thought I said, "mostly."

I tried again with terms relevant to the both of us...

What I said: Art lessons.
What Google heard: Craigs list.

What I said: Line paintings
What Google heard: 1 piece

At that point, Geoff decided that because I have a lisp, Google couldn't understand me. So he took over.

He uttered the word boobies (of course he did) and Google gave us a list of websites featuring articles and videos related to birds and busts - including one which promised a "pick-me-up" featuring kittens and lady parts.  No, I didn't look.

To counteract Geoff's mischievousness, I grabbed the computer and said the most wholesome thing I could think of. "Oatmeal cookies".  Google responded by presenting me with a nice selection of recipes. No misunderstanding there. So much for the lisp theory.

Geoff tried again - this time with a topic that interests him a great deal..


Guess what Google heard?


At this point, we were convinced that someone was most certainly at the other end of that tiny picture of a microphone. Why not? It was late. Search engine developers get bored, don't they?

Getting back to our original plan of Googling ourselves,  I spoke our names - loud and clear - for a final time.

What I said: Geoff Slater
Google's response: Shit

How insulting. And then...

What I said: Andrea Mulder-Slater
Google's response: Overslept

Which is funny, because that's what I did the next day. The cheeky web developer who infiltrated our home was psychic to boot.

Well played Google. Well played.

Incidentally, I haven't seen that microphone since.

No, really.

For the love of God, don't mess with the Particle

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I woke up to see Geoff staring at me. He asked me what time it was.

I contemplated poking his eyes out but instead got up to go the bathroom, glancing at the clock radio as I walked by.

Four twenty four.

Geoff: That’s it? It’s so bright out. 

He was right. Our bedroom was filled with light. I pushed the blinds away and peered through the glass. It was like daylight out there.

Me: Maybe it's a full moon? 

I headed to the bathroom (where I didn’t slam the door [see Montana Moose story]). I looked out the  windows.  Same view as from the bedroom – bright as hell. Much brighter than a full moon night.

I started to feel anxious.

I wandered into the living room and looked out front. It looked like the sun was trying to come out - at four thirty in the morning?  What was going on? I went back in the bedroom to re-check the clock.

Four thirty six.

Me (becoming frantic): This is so weird. It is so freaking bright out.

Geoff (strangely calm): I’m gonna make coffee.

Back in the living room, I felt a panic attack coming on as my mind raced with dark imaginings.  What the hell had happened overnight? Were we in danger? I remembered having read something in the news about researchers coming close to finding a “God Particle” I recalled one of them saying they had witnessed an “excess of events”. Holy crap – what had those scientists started? Don't they know you should never mess with God's particles? Thanks to them, the earth was about to explode.

I glanced at the kitchen clock.

Seven forty four.

It looked like daytime, because it was daytime. Funny how my first thought had been the world coming to an end and not a broken clock.

I think I need a vacation. Also, Geoff should never wake me up in the morning.

No, really.

Some dolls look better in the snow

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I was wandering through a big box store, when something caught my eye in the toy department. I didn’t take the time to investigate but when I got home, I did a quick search using the two words that had registered in my brain.

“Wipey Dipey.”

When I was a kid, dolls were fairly simple. Several of them had eyes that opened and closed. Others writhed around when a string was pulled, and some had hair that “grew” when you yanked at it.

Nowadays, dolls have become much more complicated. 

Case in point… the Little Mommy Wipey Dipey doll.

This is a toy created for ages 3 and up and just writing about it is yucking me out a little. From what I can tell, you give the doll a bottle and wait. But here’s the thing. The bottle has no actual liquid inside, and what comes out the other end is an electronic illusion. Depending on the output, yellow or brown light shoots out from the doll’s crotch – the reflection of which can be seen in the diaper. A special wipe turns off the light so the fun can begin all over again. 

I’m not making this up. 

Dolls who wet themselves are nothing new. I remember seeing advertisements for playthings that peed, though I never had one of my own. Mind you, I didn’t bother with dolls much as a child. Instead, I chose to bury them in the snow and wait until spring for them to reappear. The only exception was Thumbelina, a small baby whose curls I twisted so obsessively that she eventually developed a receding hairline.

And if you think I was hard on my dolls, you're wrong. I was super mom compared to the artists presented below. Be forewarned... viewing their creations will make you wish you were instead surrounded by those strange motion sensor dolls that say "Mama". 

Jon Beinart is best known for his notorious Toddlerpede sculptures. They are made of up discarded doll parts and have evolved over the years to imitate insects and mythological creatures. And, by the way, Jon needs a ridiculous number of plastic baby dolls to build a series of giant Toddlerpede sculptures so he asks that you please donate yours.

Jon Beinart
Jon Beinart

Then there's Allyson Mitchell,  a mixed media artist who created an installation piece called “Brainchild” featuring a snake-like army of bonneted, big-brained porcelain dolls marching towards a crocheted “mother” brain. The message here is that women continue to struggle for understanding and respect. Also, too many dolls together in one place is scary.

Allyson Mitchell
Steampunk is a way of combining the past and the future. It began as a literary genre involving Victorian era settings that incorporate elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Lately, it has become a popular in crafting circles where makers use lots of gears and goggles in their work. Let me illustrate...

This steampunk doll is comprised of a porcelain baby doll head with metal hat; porcelain and wood arms; wood body; pressed tin wings, vintage jewelry findings; and a metal and wood base with motorcycle chain trim.  Made by Artistprovocateur, he is available to whoever will pay to release him.

Meanwhile, Elnora is a steampunk chick with goggles made of watches, joints made of bolts, rough stitching and antique doll glass eyes. According to her creator Elizabeth Hubbard from Bonanza Oregon, “She is wondering how she came to be on a lonely sheep ranch and is longing for the day that she can venture out into the world.” Yes. I'm sure she is.

Elizabeth Hubbard
When I wasn’t looking, I found an Etsy shop where creepy married bizarre and then had a baby.  Rebecca from Kansas City, you're altered dolls are making me thirsty. Enough said.

Rebecca from Kansas City
And finally, when I thought things couldn’t get any more disturbing, I stumbled into the morbid world of surrealist/visionary artist Shain Erin. I’ve always been weirded out by porcelain dolls and now – thanks to Shain - I won’t be able to come close to one ever again. 

Shain Erin

No, really.

Slam that door again and the antlers are coming for you

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I need to murder my husband. 

I do. It's getting out of control, and by "it" I mean his nighttime bathroom door slamming habit.

It's the little things.

He's always been a door slammer. I knew it when I married him but I suppose, like most idealistic wives, I ignored the problem and hoped that it would just go away.

It didn't.

During the day, I really couldn't care less if a door is slammed. So long as no fingers, heads or other body parts are in involved. But at night - at night - silence is sacred and anyone who does anything to disturb it, is on my list.

Me (Cautiously, to my partner as he heads for the bathroom at 2am): Hun? Please don't slam the door.


Me: Um, yes you do. And it wakes everyone up. So, please?


Step, step, step...


I'm not sure what it is exactly that makes him think he needs to slam and lock the bathroom door with such gusto. He and I are the only ones using it and I almost never barge in on him (anymore). And at night, everyone else in the house is asleep. At least they were sleeping, before he SLAMMED the door!

Step, step, step...

Me: You slammed the door.

Husband: I DID NOT!

Me: Um, yes you did. 


Maybe when he was a kid, his family members messed him up more than I know. Maybe they ambushed him on a regular basis - waiting in silence - for him to enter the bathroom so they could throw the door open and tickle him or sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".

That must be it. There's no other explanation for his obsession with privacy in the crapper.

This is why he must die. Or, at the very least, he needs to be jolted from his slumber by something equally as annoying as a slamming door. I think I'll get one of those hats from Montana's, wait until he's in a deep sleep, put the antlers on my head and go Mariah Carey on his ass while belting out the Happy Birthday song.

I think even he'd agree that this is better than my original plan.

Thank you Montana's. Thank you for saving a life.

No, really.

The Christmas freeze and dash

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When my daughter was barely a year old, we zipped her into a cozy festive sleeper and hauled her to the local drug store/candy store (yeah, I get the irony) where Santa makes a yearly pre-Christmas appearance.

I’m not proud of getting sucked into the holiday frenzy. I blame flashy Christmas lights. I think they hypnotize me. 
This - and the fact that I don't want my kiddo to grow up and find herself searching for non-existent photos of "fun" family traditions - motivated me to stand in a line up, surrounded by farting children, greeting cards, Jelly Bellies and Tylenol PM.

The crowd consisted of several parent/grandparent types with all manner of little ones. Some were on year 3 or 4 of the Santa experience and as such, knew what to expect. Others, like our girl had no clue what they were in for.

She watched in fascination (fear) as one baby, toddler and preschooler after another sat on the lap of a local marine biologist/bagpiper named Art who had graciously agreed to squeeze himself into a red velour suit for the occasion.

Then, it was our turn.

For all the other kids present that night, Santa was a rock star and they swarmed around him like moths to a flame. But not our girl.

As we approached the jolly old elf, my wee child shot him a look that said, "Um, NOPE". And then, she burst into tears because, why wouldn't she? I mean, what the hell was I thinking?

A year later, we were in the mall near Christmastime, when the twinkly lights got to me again.

"Do you want to see Santa?" I asked my two year old who replied, "Noooooooo mommy!" before running behind my husband.

Something made me listen to her. (It might have been my husband.)

But the year she turned four was different because that was the year she made a request to see - but not get too close to - Santa.
Once again we waited in line at the drug store/candy store, surrounded by the smells of scented candles, chocolates, pharmaceuticals and farts. Every few minutes, my girl asked to be hoisted up to catch a glimpse of Santa. Each time she spotted him, she squirmed and screeched with excitement.

Forty-five minutes later, she got her wish.

Three feet is as close as we came before she got the heck out of there. 

What wasn't caught on film, was Santa getting up to follow us with a bag of candy. A kind gesture on his part... one I feared might give my daughter nightmares for years to come. It did screw with her equilibrium but we still all got out - alive - and all was well when the littlest one realized that Santa had given her a lollipop.

Later, in the car, she surprised us all by saying, "I love Santa".

Fast forward to today... My now nine year old (who still wants to, but no longer really believes in, the Big Guy), asks to visit with him every Christmas and has done so since the infamous lollipop incident, which means we now have loads of holiday photos for her to look back on once she grows up.

No harm, no foul.

No, really.

I've got household bugs, filthy teeth and a flying insect issue

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I tend to rant on about a variety of topics. I'm not sure at this point how many of you care but according to my reader stats, I am big in Mexico... and Latvia. Olé! I'd include an appropriate Latvian phrase here but the only one I know is suudu ruukis which, I've come to learn, means "poo dwarf" when translated, and that's just not relevant at all.

Never mind.  The important thing is that to help fuel my ranting habit, I have some Google ads on my blog in the hopes that I will one day build up enough spare change to be able to buy myself a cup of coffee - maybe even a latte.

But, here's the thing. Google is smart and their ads are clever too -- which is why words like this appear next to my posts. 

This makes me laugh but also feel a little bit squirmy. It's like high school all over again, "Hi, my name is Andrea, nice to meet you. I've got household bugs, filthy teeth and a flying insect issue. Wanna dance?"

Sigh. It's been that kind of a day.

Oh yeah and Jan and I bought a car this afternoon. Geoff was as surprised as the salesman.
Geoff: I thought you were just getting snow tires.

Me We bought a car instead.

GeoffDid you bring it home? Did you test drive it? What kind is it?

Me: Not yet. No, we didn't. And... blue. Dark blue.

Geoff: I don't even know you anymore.

It seemed like a rational thing to do. After all, we got stuck in the snow three times in the last two days, and we've only had one storm this year. True, new tires could have solved our problem but the way I see it, new tires on the old car would have set us back around $800. The new car has new tires - so, we saved ourselves nearly a thousand bucks.

No, really.

Novocaine - fun. Metal probes - not fun.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My dentist looks like a big screen film star. His teeth make a "ting" sound and light shoots out of his mouth when he smiles - just like in the movies. Okay, maybe I just imagined that last part.

Either way, I prefer to see as little of my mouth doc as possible, after having fallen for the "Really, the Novocaine needle will hurt more than the procedure, so let's just skip it, shall we?" trick more than once. Yet, every six months I dutifully make the trek to his office and willingly subject myself to the torture of a teeth cleaning. It's a ritual my husband thinks is borderline masochistic and completely avoidable. He's convinced the dentist tried to kill him once (or twice). His solution? Just don't go.

No, not my mouth - but you get the idea...

Me: Today is teeth cleaning day.

Geoff: That's nice.

Me: Don't you feel sorry for me?

Geoff: I have to lift and nail 4000 sheets of plywood onto the roof of our new house before the snowstorm of the century arrives.

Me: So, no then?

Because misery loves company, Jan and I have been booking our appointments with Dr. Hollywood together. On this day, we brought both my daughter and my aunt with us.

Jan disappeared into one examining room and I into another while my kiddo and Wilma headed to the toy zone (waiting room). As I settled into the chair, my hygienist asked me if I was experiencing any sensitivity. What I should have said was, "No". What I said instead was, "Um, yes actually I've been getting a sharp pain in the upper part of my mouth on the right side sometimes when I brush my teeth."

I confided in my hygienist (let's call her Shirley), thinking that she would take pity on me and avoid placing tiny metal probes in the questionable zone. I thought wrong. Instead, she grabbed a "special" implement and started running it across each tooth in the sensitive area. She had a diabolical look on her face. Well, truthfully, I couldn't tell because she was wearing a face mask.

Shirley Hygienist: Does this hurt?

Me: No, not yet.

SH: How about now?

Me: Nope.

SH: And this?

MeNo. Yay. Well, so much for that.

SH: Okay, we'll try a different tool...

Me: Oh crap.

I considered bolting but remembered that I had brought my daughter to the dentist - in part - to show her how enjoyable a teeth cleaning can be, as she will soon be old enough to be thrown to the wolves. So, I stayed put and braced for the "zing" while the experiment continued.

In the end, it was determined that my problem is  "recession" caused by "horizontal brushing". Preposterous! I thought. I never brush my teeth while laying down (anymore).

SH: You need to brush in an up and down motion - not side to side. Circle, circle, swipe - that's the way to do it. Okay?

Me: You don't read my blog do you?

SH: Huh?

Me: Oh, nothing.

When the cleaning was over, the littlest one popped her head in for a quick look. "It's a good thing I just rinsed the blood away." whispered Shirley Hygienist,  further proving Geoff's theory. Still, we succeeded in brainwashing my three year old kid who now believes that the dental office is "not too bad" (mostly due to fun waiting room toys).

As for me, I saw my dentist for exactly two seconds and was sent out the door with a new toothbrush, two packs of floss and a tube of Sensodyne-F toothpaste.

Two packs of floss? The F on the toothpaste tube must be my grade.
No, really.

Bugs in your bedroom... like 9th grade math class, only worse.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I am in the middle of doing battle with a flying insect. I don't know what it is, but I'm fairly certain an earwig had sex with a flying ant.

I was just about to crawl into bed when I saw it, sitting nonchalantly on my bedside table - eying my pillow. Normally I would ask Geoff to deal with such things but the poor dear has been burning the candle at both ends with this whole house-building project. At this moment he is fast asleep, clutching a toy dinosaur placed carefully in his grasp by our daughter. Nothing says "Do Not Disturb"  quite like a toy dinosaur in the fist.

So, I took matters into my own hands.

I grabbed a magazine and with it, inadvertently removed one of the creature's legs. I say inadvertently because really, I was trying to murder the thing - not torture it. I have a conscience.

So then it went all vigilante on me and hurled itself into my head. I turned the light on in the hopes that the brightness would attract the beast. It did go straight for the glow... and then disappeared behind the dresser. It's screwing with me. I know it.

I'm now sitting in the basement, at my computer. I needed a breather after what I've been through.

It's a fitting end to a ridiculous day which began far too early for my liking. From sun up to sun down, we (and by we, I mean the girls) were running errands in three different towns, stopping to pee in two of them (and by that, I mean my kid). By mid morning, Jan and I were so desperate for caffeine that when I stumbled into the nearest Tim Hortons, the only word that came out of my mouth was, "Two!" 

The employee behind the counter looked at me strangely. I returned the gesture.


"Um, yes. Coffee," I replied. (Hello?)

"Size, dear?"

"What?" (Huh?)

"What size of coffee do you want?"

Somewhere between 7 and 11am, I had ceased to be cool as I stood in a coffee shop (with a line up behind me, I might add), unable to place an order without prompts from a boy in a hair net.

Which brings me back to the cross-bred bug that is probably licking its wounds in my bed right now. I must face the inevitable. I am being punished for killing a housefly this morning. It's the only thing that makes sense. I woke up, saw it and killed it - no questions asked. From that point on, the day went downhill.

I'm sorry fly. I won't do it again.

There I've atoned. The day can get better now...

Time for an addendum.


Okay - it's nearly two hours later and I have won the battle. I won't go into details. I feel bad, but not as bad as the enemy. I'm in my bed. Earwig-ant is in the toilet. I win.

No, really.

2, 4, 6, 8 - How do you procrastinate?

By Andrea Mulder-Slater

My mom offered to take the girl to the aquarium today.

A welcome gesture considering... I have an online quiz to take before Monday, two assignments due next Wednesday and a blog entry about needles (syringes - don't ask) that should have been posted days ago. Meanwhile, because I have delusions of grandeur, I am applying for a freelance job - the rather unusual application of which needs to be submitted by month's end. Oh yeah, then there's

I was all set to get to work and say goodbye to the girls when... it happened.

"Are you coming too mommy?"

I wanted to say no. I wanted to explain to my daughter that I was just too busy to accompany her and her nana to what she believes to be the coolest place on earth.

"I can pick up a starfish and give it to you moooooommmmmy." 

By this point I'm fairly certain that my 3 year old is psychic. Certainly, she knows how to manipulate me.

Life is short - I thought to myself. And with that, I switched off my computer and grabbed my jacket.

In this case, procrastinating was a wise decision.

Fun was had by all and - as it turns out - holding sea creatures is a terrific stress reliever - for me anyway.

For the starfish, urchins and sea cucumbers living in a touch tank however, stress takes on a whole new meaning.

Okay - now back at it... right after this cup of coffee.

No, really.

Clogs float, don't they?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

As kids, my cousin Glenna and I had a knack for getting into trouble. We often spent summers together and though while apart, we were both fairly levelheaded people; together we magically morphed into a couple of numb-skulls.

Case in point… the clog incident.

We had a certain amount of freedom at Glenna’s house. We could walk to the corner store, to friend’s houses and to the Wendys restaurant. All were within minutes of home. But, we were forbidden to go near any of the nearby waterways and we were never, ever permitted to wander close any bridges.

We were no more than 10 years old when we set out on our adventure. It was a spur of the moment scheme that was unquestionably ill planned. We had no money, no snacks and I was wearing slip-on-clogs… Abba (yes, that Abba) clogs. It was the early 80s. Cool looked different back then.
There was a footbridge that Glenna knew about. It wasn’t big, but the drop down to the water below sure was. To protect people from their own lack of common sense, the city had installed fences to separate the walkway from the aqueduct. Clearly they hadn’t considered the thought process of a pair of dim-witted cousins.

Yeah, it looked a little something like this.
After we had squeezed our way past the barriers, one of us suggested a game of chicken. The concept was simple – hold on to the fence, lean back, let go and see which dumb ass would grab for the fence first. It was kind of a "nature's way of weeding out the stupid" moment. We made one or two attempts, when one of my clogs slipped off my foot… a blessing in disguise.

Within seconds, the wooden soled shoe hit the water and was instantly sucked below the surface. Glenna and I both froze and clung to the fence as we took a good look at the sheer 40-foot drop below us.

We stared at one other – our eyes wild with fear. “We can’t go home without your clog,” reasoned Glenna. “If we do, my mom will know we were up to something.”

“Clogs float, don’t they?” I wondered out loud.

“Yes!” Glenna yelped as she grabbed my hand. 

The plan was simple. We would get the hell off the bridge and scoot down the embankment to see if we could liberate the clog from the rushing water.

It didn’t work. We saw my shoe a few times as it bobbed and dipped in the current. And we even thought briefly about jumping in after it. But in the end, I walked home with one sock foot.

Our parents - understandably furious - were thankful that we both survived, in spite of our own foolishness. 

Since then, clogs have held a special place in my heart. I think the following people must feel the same way…

Artist Halle Riddlebarger creates lovely designs on shoes of all kinds. Drawn in black India ink on the white leather upper of a wooden clog, this pair features a variety of abstract designs and images from the artist's imagination.

Lee Lynden likes clogs and Christmas. What a festive combination! Here she has created the ultimate hostess gift. Best of all, when you order your own custom pair you get a free Holiday card. It gets better and better, yes?

If Day of the Dead is more your style, than you will appreciate these functional works of art by Lisa from Coral Springs. Mind you, the clogs were pre-owned before she painted them which makes me feel a little less than enthused. You pays yer money and you takes yer chances...

Perhaps you are more fashion forward, in which case you will probably long for footwear like this. Then again, maybe not. Like my husband says: "Sure, you can put glitter on it, but it's still a clog."

Miu Miu Glitter Covered Clogs

Then, there are these puppies designed by whimsikalwood. They are the real deal - a genuine pair of fully wooden clogs. Although, I don't think you'd find too many Dutch tulip farmers sporting toenails like these. How do you say "yuck" politely?

And finally, while we're talking Dutch (my favorite language), here is a delightful painting by one of the world's most well known artists. Enjoy and remember, clogs save lives. 

A Pair Of Leather Clogs by Vincent Van Gogh
No, really.

Yeah, that's a puzzler all right

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My daughter is an inquisitive child. 

From the time she was born, her hands were moving – grabbing hold of anything and everything within her reach. When she learned how to walk, baby proofing became a full time job. At times, our dog's life depended on how diligent we were. (I still remember seeing her chubby hands clutching mounds of  Bodie hair).

We recently stayed in a holiday rental home in Florida where the owners had provided guests with oodles of books, board games and puzzles to help pass the time on rainy days. 

My then 2-year-old was busy playing in the living room with her toys while we were in the nearby kitchen unpacking a load of groceries. The milk wasn’t yet in the fridge when it occurred to me that the girl  was being awfully quiet. 

With good reason...

Within a matter of minutes, she had attacked nearly all of the puzzles and games and mixed the pieces up sufficiently enough that there was no hope of ever matching them to their boxes. 

We made a valiant attempt to assign the pieces back to their proper containers. However, in the end, we abandoned the project and instead went to the nearest Family Dollar store so we could restock the holiday home shelves for $10 or less.

In hindsight, we should have saved some of the pieces. If nothing else, we could have sent them off to the following creative folks...

Doug Powell of Orlando Florida makes "Duzzle Art". These are large scale mosaics created with puzzle pieces. Here's his take on Gaga.
And good old George Burns.

Rupert McKelvie is an industrious fellow who hates getting to the end of a puzzle, only to find that there are missing pieces. Rather than shove the incomplete sets aside, he decided to create a line of furniture that makes use of discarded puzzle bits. This table is made up of 4800 puzzle pieces - a compilation of the Arc de Triomphe, Winnie the Pooh, a night sky and  the Taj Mahal.

Fantastic, don't you think?

No post of mine would be complete without a touch of sparkle. So, here's the shine, from InfusedDesigns... Necklaces crafted of puzzle pieces which have been adorned with glitter and beads.

If you are bold enough, you might consider these funny and shiny puzzle accessories by GlamLifeEarrings.  Then again...

And while we're on a glitter high, meet Erica Roni , a gal who likes nail polish and regularly posts her latest designs on her "Practice with Polish" blog. Here's her ode to puzzles.

And finally, because Halloween is near, I have for you a puzzle mask made by Paula from Texas. I like this guy. He reminds me of an old boyfriend that I was lucky enough to ditch - y'know, before it was too late.
No, really.

A cluster of flies on a sunny afternoon

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We've had many nightly rituals at our house. In recent years, they have included everything from baths, books and nursing to snacks, pjs and dance-a-thons (don't judge).

Lately though, with all this warm fall weather, our evening ceremonies have expanded to include hunting.

Some folks around here hunt deer - others fire off at ducks. We prefer prey of a smaller sort. And within our walls, we don't use guns - we use bug whackers (and vacuum cleaners).

Things will become perfectly clear once you read below...


Houseflies have become a hot topic of conversation at our house lately. It all began a number of days ago when, after spending the morning away, we arrived home to find a sold out housefly convention taking place in our living room.

The place we are living (a rental while we build new) is a recently constructed log home with large south facing glass. It is here where the flies congregate. I’m not certain but I think our bright and cozy windows have been featured in a recent issue of Housefly Travel magazine.

How else can one explain the sudden pilgrimage?

Once we got over the shock of the buzzing black beasts, we started sucking as many as we could into the in-wall vacuum system, sending them to the sealed container in the basement. But as soon as we put the hose away, more flies appeared. It was a vicious cycle involving many coffee breaks and several expressive expletives (likely far more than necessary).

At last, the mass execution was over.

Where the flies came from is still a mystery as we are really very sanitary people. Really, we are. We bathe, we vacuum, we scrub, we bag and dispose of our garbage and we don’t have any of those designer dogs who poop behind the sofa. You might find a cookie crumb or two on our floor and sometimes the odd Popsicle drip, but other than that – squeaky clean.

Flies on the other hand are dirty. Did you know that they are known to carry more than 100 disease causing germs? There’s a lot more you don’t ever want to learn about “musca domestica”. If you’ve got a cast iron stomach, go ahead and look it up. I guarantee you will regret it.

Then there’s Magnus Muhr, a Swedish photographer who had an idea. It was a disturbing idea, but an idea nonetheless. Magnus collects insect carcasses from windows and lamps around his house and uses them to make comical cartoons. I'm loving these. They make me giggle (and squirm, a little bit).

Who needs realistic fly stickers? You do! That's what Etsy seller chewytulip thinks...

 If I wear this t-shirt designed by Paula Goodman, will the flies think I am their leader?

And finally, Georgia Ryan loves flies and the way they move and look. She says, "This fly is unfortunately deceased, but most of the flies I paint are quite lively." I like this painting because (unlike Georgia), I prefer my flies dead (see Magnus Muhr).


I looked it up and apparently, our house guests are known as "cluster flies". It's true. Here are the details, according to Small Farm Life:
"Not the typical house fly or filth fly, the cluster fly is often found in rural areas on the warm side (south and west) of a building during fall afternoons.  The worst part is, these flies crawl up the side of the building and look for the smallest crack to gain access to warmer environs inside.  Their plan is not to reproduce, but to hibernate. Which would all be well and good until a warmish day when the congregate at the highest window in the home, banging against the glass trying to get out.  It’s not unheard of for hundreds of flies to gather."
Somehow this knowledge makes me feel better. But only slightly.

No, really.

Ticky Tacky

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was a little girl, my parents used to sing a song which has forever stayed in my brain.

Little Boxes, written by Melvina Reynolds in 1962 (and later made popular by Pete Seeger), is an anti-conformist ditty which makes reference to suburban housing as little boxes made out of "ticky tacky" all looking just the same. I can trace my desire to "go against the flow" directly back to the lyrics.

Geoff has been singing this tune to our girl from the time she was born and now that she's nearly three years old, she is regularly reciting the words. It's not uncommon to walk around the corner to hear her singing, "There's a green one and a pink one, and a blue one and a yellow one..."

My dad would be so proud.

The other day, the kiddo spotted a colorful card in a British craft magazine. "Can we make that mommy?" she asked. "Of course," I answered.

We cut, we glued, we colored and when we were finished, I immediately thought of Little Boxes...

Here are the lyrics to the song and below those, the original version performed by Melvina. Enjoy!

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

No, really.

Never bite a skunk's trunk

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I was a kid, it was not uncommon to see wildlife wandering around the country roads. When this happened, we just turned around and walked away slowly, giving the animal a chance to find its way back into the woods.

But on one particular morning, my friends and I were mesmerized while - when waiting for the bus - a skunk appeared, with an empty soup can stuck on his head.

Someones parents called "animal control" and within minutes people came out to "help" the skunk as us kids watched the action, now from the safety of the school bus.

"It was just a tranquilizer gun," said our parents. And we believed them, until we became older and wiser, at which time we mused... why didn't they wait until the damn bus pulled away?!

This potentially scarring childhood memory (we were in kindergarten - what were the adults thinking?), along with a recent roadkill sighting and the strong smell of Tim Horton's coffee inspired my latest blog post. It's not as depressing as my lead up would suggest, although our deceased dog Bodie does makes an appearance. Rest in peace old guy.


When I married Geoff, his dog was part of the package.

A 100-pound, purebred malamute with a stubborn but intensely sweet temperament, Bodie was true to his breed and always on the hunt. The prey itself was of little concern - a mosquito, a fly, a dog biscuit – all were equally exciting conquests.

Not to say that he was incapable of more significant captures…

I still remember the time he (while still a puppy) zipped stealthily across the yard and scooped up a gray squirrel in his mouth. My mom immediately screamed at him to “let it go, let it go!” The rest of us stared in disbelief, as Bodie obliged and carefully set the stunned rodent down on the grass. I swear I saw that little bugger check to make sure all his parts were intact before he bolted up a tree – chattering the entire time.

Then there was the porcupine. In that case, no one was immediately present, telling him to “let it go, let it go!” and the end result was four separate surgeries to remove more than 250 quills.

With this, we thought he had surely learned a valuable lesson – never bite a wild animal in the rear end – but alas, he was a dog.

We had just re-tiled our kitchen and decided to put off sealing the grout until morning. It was closing in on 11pm when we let Bodie out one more time before bed. By the time we saw the flash of black and white, it was too late… Bodie’s head was drenched. 

Animal Planet
Skunk stench is like no other scent. It’s rather indescribable really.

“Holy Mother of God, what is that smell!?!”

By this time the house was fully awake, as Geoff, my parents and I jumped around like boxers first towards then away from Bodie, taking turns dabbing the oily odor from his face with paper towels. Meanwhile, Geoff jumped in the car to get tomato juice from the gas station before they closed. It was a reasonable decision.

What happened next was not so well thought out.

Rather than pull the smell further into the house, it was decided that the kitchen was the best place to administer the antidote. By the time Geoff was finished dousing Bodie with 6 cans of tomato juice, our kitchen floor looked like a crime scene involving a blind, chainsaw-wielding monkey.

After the tomato massacre was over, the sulfur smell was tolerable (though not nearly eliminated) and our white and silver coated masculine malamute was pink… for weeks.

I've always thought skunks were kind of cute. This no doubt stems from watching Pepe Le Pew on television with my dad during my childhood. Even so, it never crossed my mind to create art inspired by the little stinkers. However, the thought has occurred to some...

Michael Devost makes decorative mailboxes. I wonder how the postman feels about sticking the mail, y'know, there.
Laurie from Florida makes lamp worked beads. She likes skunks, I can tell. "This is one sweet and chunky little skunky" is how she describes this tiny fellow.
This skunk pin is appealing to me because hey, there's glitter involved. It's creator (lisart29) says that it would brighten up any hat or outfit and you know, she's right! Nothing says fashionista like... skunk accessory.
Should I be disturbed by this costume created by BeastWares - Purveyors of Furry Finery? After all, I'm just a rural girl. My neighbors never dress up as woodland creatures (or, do they?).
And finally, Jeanie from Arizona (aka DarkHorseStore) has a dark sense of humor. Case in point, this ceramic spoon rest:

"This little skunk did not make it across the road! Despite his calamity, he still looks cute and will definitely liven up your kitchen, bath, desk, most anywhere you want. And the best part - no skunk smell!"

Hey, at least he is dishwasher safe.
No, really.

Don't stick that junk in your mouth...

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

As a youngster, nothing was more exciting than watching Harry the hardware store man divvy up flat headed nails.

Moving with the grace of a newborn calf and the speed of an earthworm, Harry, who was approximately 125 years old, would spend his days counting, sorting and color coding his nails. "Yeah it's a good day, no rain coming soon." he would say whenever anyone entered his happy hardware emporium. Of course, he also said that when someone asked him where to find the sand paper.

Harry was a smart man, known to all the neighborhood children as, "that crazy guy who cleans his glasses with paint thinner". Harry was our hero, mostly because he was the only grown-up we knew who enjoyed Silly Putty as much as we did.

Hanging on a peg, between the electrical plates and the washers, were always three packages of the wonder goo. It didn't matter what day you went into the hardware store or how many times you bought it, Harry always had three packages of the stuff ready for resale. "Now whatever you do," he would say, "don't stick that junk in your mouth." Then he would proceed to do just that... pop a wad in his cheek, chew for a while and pretend as though he was about to empty his stomach right there between the paint rollers and the floor cleaner.

Harry taught me the many uses of Silly Putty such as making impressions of comic book characters and removing remnants of dog poo off the bottom of my shoe.

Fortunately, there are people out there who have come up with infinitely more creative uses for Silly Putty.

Travis Childers is an artist who decided to use Silly Putty to "lift" faces from newspapers. That in itself isn't so unique - we've all done that, right? It's what he did next that made the gesture so memorable. He placed the faces in Petri dishes and stacked these dishes on a metal medical cart. Borderline creepy.
Steve Esqueda has made a number of Silly Putty sculptures and, as it turns out, this is no easy feat.  Evidently, as Silly Putty is not a hard material, it begins to "melt" as soon as it is put together and within minutes it is a blob again. Steve's works of art stayed put long enough for him to take the following photos.

Meanwhile (there are no words)...

And finally... once upon a time, the fun folks at Google placed a bulk Silly Putty order. When it arrived, they stacked the stuff up into a giant pile. The problem was (according to staffers) that once together, Silly Putty doesn't like to come apart, and none of them had any idea of how to deal with this effect. After several hours of trying to cut the stuff with scissors and wire, they resorted to twisting, pulling and breaking. Eventually, they freed up enough giant bits to distribute around the office.

Was there ever a better reason to covet a job at Google? I think not.

No, really.