Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just to let you know

I'm taking a break here, no time to post... will probably be back full swing next semester though.
College comes first!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rule number one of herping

When you flip over a rock or log, put it back where you found it! Argghhh!

*deep breath*

Hi there! Back at school, classes are underway, life is insanely busy. But let's forget about all of that for now, and take a little trip to the woods.

There's an arboretum near my campus, about a 15 minute bike ride. Went exploring today and saw lots of great things. And for those that don't know: herping = looking for herps = reptiles and amphibians (herpetology - get it? Not "herpes").

It turns out someone earlier this summer (hard to tell how long ago) had gone into the quarry (best salamander hangout) and flipped over almost every single rock and log - WITHOUT PUTTING THEM BACK. I wanted to SCREAM. Cannot believe someone would be such an inconsiderate jerk to nature -obviously not someone who really cares about the animals they're looking for.

The first thing you learn is to not curl your hands underneath (I learned that when I was 2), the next is to put it back ever so gently to make it look as if you were never there.

But nevertheless, saw lots of fun creatures.

The blue spotted salamander, one of my favorites, of course (Ambystoma laterale). I love when they do their defensive tail wave.
A mangled looking wood frog (Rana sylvatica) - poor thing had a malformed or injured hind leg. Looks fat and healthy though.
Lots of red backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) of course.
I feel quite lucky this peeper held still for a split second so I could take this photo (Pseudacris crucifer).
I did see one reptile - a garter snake. Unfortunately, this is the best pic I could get, as it swam across a pond.
By the time I jumped off my bike and turned on my camera (watching it gracefully swim away), it had reached one side and escaped into the woods. That's when I saw it was certainly a garter snake, but too far off to try to catch.

And I also saw a Pelecinid wasp! They're amazing insects, and not too common. The female's abdomen is so long! It flew across the bike path and I literally dropped my bike from under me and chased it off into the undergrowth. It kept landing briefly and fluttering off, and I stumbled after it through brambles and bushes for several minutes until I lost track of it. So sadly, no photo. But it was a really neat insect to see.

As far as updating my blog, I'll play it by ear - very busy schedule this semester and thinking about putting my etsy shop on hold - at least not worrying about making too many new things. Will be taking custom orders on a gradual basis.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Awesome etsy seller: EmandSprout

I finally got my sweet new shoes in the mail today and, well, you know you're all jealous. They're made by emandsprout, who has the cutest mary janes ever. I got the turtle edition:
They're great as slippers, or casual shoes... can't wait til it gets cooler and those adorable shiny eyes will be peeping out from under my jeans, haha.In other news: took the GRE general exam today, did alright. Glad to have it over with, but the biology subject exam is coming up in October... I'm going to start studying soon! Leaving for school this saturday, giving me one week to finish packing and cleaning and actually enjoy summer for a few days. Probably won't be seeing anything new in my shop for a while.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Awesome etsy seller: Secretlentil

Ok, this has nothing to do with insects, but I bought myself a dress on etsy and just have to share.

I've had my eye on secretlentil's shop for a long time, but the items in my size tend to sell out quickly. On my birthday I browsed her shop, and it turns out she listed a new dress that day... that I just had to have!

I've talked to her on the etsy forums and she's a great person as well as an excellent seamstress. The seams are all perfectly done and the fabric is so cozy. I plan on wearing this dress to school, all through the winter if I can find leggings warm enough. And of course it's unique, really a work of art.

The original listing:
And here I am wearing it:So if you're looking for really great original clothing, in a wide variety of sizes, check out secretlentil on etsy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday to me

Yesterday was my 21st birthday, hurrah!Was a relaxing lazy day, mostly because it was too hot to actually do anything. I tried to do some sewing and didn't get very far. Luckily there was track/field on the tv, my favorite sport to watch! And in the evening we went out to dinner at Japanese restaurant which was fabulous. Then of course cake and ice cream. My mom even got the cake in my favorite colors, lime green and purple.

Feels nice to have a drivers license that doesn't have the bright red "UNDER 21" on it, and now it has a cute little heart to show I'm an organ donor.

One more week until my GRE exam *gulp* and a week after that, school starts!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Invasion of the Adorable Amphibians

Another day of field work at my job, and I remembered my camera this time!

It was a wonderful day for amphibious creatures... they were continually underfoot and I managed to get my hands on a few.

Warning: extreme cuteness ahead.

First up: baby gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor)Peep peep! Spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)Itty bitty toad (Bufo americanus)
Teensy red eft (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Bigger red eft (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Crawling on the walls

My college apartment (will be moving back in a few weeks) has some pretty bare walls. While looking for things to spice it up, I came across this shop on etsy: WilsonGraphics

Check out the amazing beetle and butterfly decals he has that you can stick right onto your walls! These are some of my favorites:
They're generously sized (6" to 8"), very reasonably priced and will assuredly freak out any squeamish guests.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Today I went on a field assignment for work, that had us outside in a re-created wetland all day.

Turns out the goldenrod is starting to flower, which means my favorite insect is out and about - the ambush bug! Order Hemiptera, family Phymatidae, and around here you find the genus Phymata.

Within 6 hours I counted 75 - and that was with very sparse goldenrod! Many were mating, and several were seen sucking the juices out of their captured prey (ranging from small flies to huge hornets).

The biggest shame is I didn't bring my camera to work... here's a fun photo from a few years ago though:
Now introducing: the ambush bug soap opera*.
(insect sex and cannibalism)
*Based on real field observations

It was a warm sunny day, quite a relief after weeks of rain. Mabel the ambush bug was enjoying the afternoon, minding her own business, when Johnny came around again. Ugh, she just could not get him to leave her alone. All his crude jokes and sexual advances were so juvenile, and her indifference made him even more determined. He liked girls that play hard to get. To Johnny it was all a game. He didn't realize how serious it could get.

Johnny sauntered over to her side of the goldenrod plant, but it was the wrong day to come courting. Mabel had had enough, and knew that this would be Johnny's last visit. She composed herself and waiting for him to get within striking distance.

"Hey baby" he crooned in his suave voice. But before he could get out another word, Mabel was on top of him, her claws grasping for purchase, her beak looking for a weak point. At first he was turned on, perhaps she had finally succumbed to his charm and released her sexual tension. But when the deadly bite found its mark, he came to the startling realization - he was going to be her meal, not her mate.

He tried to escape but it was too late, as her poison flowed through him and began turning his insides to mush. And as he slipped away, Mabel could finally find peace. Revenge was not only a relief, but a tasty meal.

The struggle did not go unnoticed.

Mabel's friend Mary had been watching the drama unfold from a goldenrod cluster a few inches away. She too had been harassed by Johnny, and was happy to see him get what he deserved. Well, part of her wondered if death was too harsh, but with the economy these days (the bees weren't coming around as much) every meal was to be cherished, even if it means cannibalism. She wondered if there was enough to share, and made her way over to Mabel.

The neighborhood busy-body noticed the commotion as well. Melinda had her binoculars focused on the Smiths (who were getting busy a few stems over) but couldn't pass up spying on a love quarrel gone wrong. She too had a rumbling stomach and realized that Johnny looked pretty tasty. She also saw that Mary was on her way over - no way she would let Mary steal the prize! She put away her binoculars, shut the blinds, and shuffled out of her goldenrod patch.

Mabel at first was unaware she had been watched. She was so consumed with rage, and then sweet revenge and a big meal, that she was startled when Mary approached her from behind. Nearly caused her to drop Johnny's corpse! Mabel had Johnny dangling beneath her, so Mary climbed on her back to try to reach him. Of course Mabel did not want to share, and started violently shaking. Again her grip on Johnny loosened, but she was determined not to share. Mary had her beak outstretched, raptorial front claws grasping at his spiked abdomen, but it was not enough. She didn't want to risk her life for a meal, so she backed away.

Mary was about to leave for good when she saw Melinda approaching. Nothing will increase determination like competition! Mary watched as Melinda tried to grab at Johnny by crawling a different route, avoiding Mabel altogether. It was a precarious position, and she nearly succeeded - until Mabel noticed. A few more shakes, and repositioning of Johnny's body, made Melinda give up after just a taste. However Mary was inspired, and went over to Melinda to conspire.

The two came up with a plan - by working together they could capture Johnny's body for themselves. Imagine the feast they would have! They went separate ways to surround Mabel.

After having chased away the two scroungers Mabel thought she had been rid of them - a few choice words had been shared as well. So she was surprised to see them both come back, looking a little too friendly. "So Mabel, how's Johnny tasting? Sure there's not enough to go around?" Melinda thought they should at least give one attempt at a peaceful solution. Mabel turned her back and continued feeding, intent on ignoring them, which was the only response they needed.

At once both Mary and Melinda pounced, the force so great that Mabel was unable to keep her grip on Johnny's body. He slipped through her claws, bounced off some stems and leaves on the way down, and ended up a few feet below on the wetland floor.

Silence. The three ambush bugs looked at each other for a moment, and went their separate ways. Now none of them could enjoy that meal - and think of the prey they might have caught had they been sitting at their flowers! Mabel was particularly upset, though at least she had eaten enough to last her through the day.

Meanwhile, the Smiths were still going at it. Melinda picked up her binoculars again, broom in the other claw, ready to stomp on the stem to tell those young whippersnappers to keep it down.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rhyniella praecursor

Reading through Evolution of the Insects, I came across a familiar face - Rhyniella praecursor, a famous fossil specimen of a primitive springtail (Collembola) from the Devonian period. I remembered learning about this specimen and its importance in one of my entomology classes... I felt inspired to draw it.

So here you go, now you too can show off your love for paleoentomology!

Busy busy busy

It's amazing how fast the summer has been moving. It's August! My birthday is coming up (turning 21, woohoo), so is the GRE exam (gulp), and the start of the school year. Two more weeks at my job, then a break to spend more time with my boyfriend before I head back to Canada.

Haven't done much sewing, been so busy studying! Plan to get a lot done this weekend though, have a few custom orders to work on, and want to add some new things to the shop.

Been trying to find time to read, as well.
Evolution of the Insects... you know, light reading. This book is a compilation of four works by Darwin - I'm currently working my way through his account of his voyage on the Beagle. If I could go back in time to meet anyone, I would join Darwin on his trip around the world.

So hopefully I'll have more updates this weekend as I get some sewing done.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pepper's continued hatred of plastic

For your amusement.

Sharpie madness

Today I bought some new sharpies, and decided I finally needed to organize them. It can take time to dig through them all to find the right colors.

I was in for more than I bargained for.

First of all, I have 132 sharpies. Had not counted them all until today! The organizer I ended up making only holds 123, but the extras are repeated colors that are wearing down.

This took me a couple hours to make and I'm quite happy with the result:
Just now need to make a drawstring bag to keep the roll in, so I don't lose any. Might make it difficult to find a place to roll it out when I'm drawing, but I usually choose my handful of colors before I start a project.

Anybody else have a sharpie addiction?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What I've been working on

Been getting back into the sewing groove, just in time for some custom orders.

This was made for a good friend of mine back at school, it's her pet great plains toad. Though of course a lot bigger than the real thing. As usual the shapes were complete guesswork, a real challenge and for a while I was worried it wouldn't work out. Luckily my spatial skills pulled me through and yes, indeed, it looks like a toad. Another order - a trilobite and anomalocaris. Love these! Makes you wonder if they were this colorful in real life?
I have a great watch tan, don't I?

Alright and finally something new in the shop... figured I should make a trilobite available to the masses.
The body plan was simple enough, I'm thinking about making more of these in other colors. And my tardigrade finally sold, so I'll have to make more of those as well! So many things to sew, so little time.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mice are yummy

At least my corn snake thinks so.

Etsy treasury

I managed to get one... some really great items here to check out.

I created this one in honor of today being my snake feeding day... time for me to start thawing the rodents.

Thanks for the support everyone

A heartfelt thank you to P.Z. Myers who mentioned me on his blog Pharyngula. I am a HUGE fan of his and his blog gets me through my lunch break every day. Thanks also for all the comments on the post, and the tweets, and the sales!

Custom orders are starting to trickle in again, and I'm always happy to accept more. I can be contacted through conversations on Etsy, or email

New piece in the shop: giraffe weevil drawing. I should really make a plush one of these, expect to see one in the shop within the next few weeks!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Best thrift store find EVER

I went on a thrift store/garage sale adventure today and found a lot of great things... but this beats all!I'm so completely and utterly thrilled about this glass I can't let it out of my sight.

My pets are very helpful

I do my sewing upstairs in my room, where the cats aren't allowed. I get really obsessive about preventing cat hair from entering, I've got an army of lint rollers.

But when I come downstairs to draw, they just have to get in my way. We've got two cats, picked them out as kittens when I was 3 years old (they're 18 now). Skyler and Sherman, sister and brother, and they're more like dogs than cats.

I tend to talk more about my more unusual animals (like the snakes) but my cats are pretty fabulous. They are indoor/outdoor (big backyard on a dead end street with no traffic), come when we whistle, follow us around (inside and outside), and know when we're not feeling well. When I was little they would wait for me at the bus stop and walk me home - they're very protective of us! They also love strangers though, and are super friendly. Whenever someone comes over they have to examine the car, sniffing and circling it for a good 10 minutes until they're satisfied and come back inside.

Here is Skyler in her usual pose (paws crossed) hogging the tv remote. Meanwhile Sherman is trying to get on my lap, nuzzling my arm as I'm trying to draw.
Notice the huge jingle bell. We always ensure they have correct tags and bells so we know where they are, and so that potential prey has a bit of a warning (hasn't stopped her from getting her fair share of mice, though). The problem is Skyler keeps losing her little bells! So, fed up one day, my dad sent me to the craft store to get her a big bell. So that's what I got! The day we put it on her (a few years ago) she was NOT HAPPY. You could tell... she had this "I hate you all" mood for a couple days. But she hasn't lost it!

The kitties are getting old now, Skyler has a lump on her shoulder (could be cancer) and Sherman has thyroid and other health problems. They're hanging in there though.

Oh, and Pepper likes to help as well. If "help" means "throwing markers on the floor".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More sharpie drawings

Been feeling the drawing vibe lately and haven't been able to resist the pull of my sharpies.

Went thrift store shopping and scored big time, got 8 great frames for about $8, so now I've got to fill them up.

I really like including the frames with my drawings, I pick ones that I feel match the piece and make it feel more complete. What do you think? Click the photos to be taken to the listings (and you can see more photos).

Sunday, July 5, 2009


New addition to the shop: Triops (tadpole shrimp) plush soft sculpture.Triops are fascinating animals, crustaceans in the order Notostraca, related to the infamous "sea monkeys" (fairy shrimp). They haven't changed much since the Triassic, making them a sort of a living fossil.

They get considerably larger than their fairy shrimp cousins, reaching up to 2" long. This makes them interesting additions to an aquarium and can be kept as pets. They live in ponds and temporary pools in the wild, and have eggs that can stay dormant through long periods of drought.

When I was little I had these as pets once, they came in a kit, similar to sea monkeys. They didn't get very large before dying off though, they need a good aquarium set up to really thrive. If I ever get a fish tank later in life I'm definitely getting some triops!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I'm in two Treasury West treasuries on Etsy, check them out, they're pretty fabulous! Click the image to go to the actual treasury, though remember they expire soon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Putting my sewing skills to good use

It's not too often these days I make something for myself, or something actually useful (plushies might be fun and cute but they're not exactly utilitarian).

So at work we got a bunch of new safety vests for our next field project.

Apparently, they only come in extra large. I could fit three of me in this thing, the picture doesn't do it justice. It goes another inch or two past the bottom of the photo, and one side is folded over a bit.
I tried it on and was absolutely swimming in it. Not exactly... safe.

Looking through the catalogue all the basic vests were also only in large or extra large, the only ones that came in small were the expensive fancy vests. So I decided to do some tailoring.
It was like liposuction for fabric, haha. Took out fabric from the back, sides, bottom, and front edges. Reshaped the neck opening, put in new velcro, and it's perfect! If anything I made it a tad too small, but it still fits over a jacket. It's quite comfy and nonrestrictive when I move (unlike the last plastic-y vest I had). The other girls in the office are jealous. There might be more alterations in my future.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Did you get to play with these guys in biology class?

I remember in high school we got some planarians to mess around with... if you cut them in half they'll grow into two worms, and if you cut the head in half it'll grow two heads.

They are flatworms, phylum Platyhelminthes.

I made a few plushies! One small, one medium, and one with two heads. Available now in my etsy shop.

Two heads

Saturday, June 20, 2009

All my babies

In one place:I spent several hours sketching and coloring this page, one of my favorite works. Done in sharpie markers, of course, 9"x12".

The animals are not to scale.

Check out my flickr photo to see notes of all their names.

Going to frame this and hang it in my room :)