Thursday, August 26, 2010

Buggin' Out On Thursdays :: I've Got Spines but no Backbone

Spiny Orb Weaver by © 2010

The Spiny Orb Weaver, also called the spiny backed orb weaver, is known in Texas as a beneficial spider for the garden because they eat flies and mosquitoes.  A lot of people refer to these spiders as "crab spiders", however, they are actually orb weavers.  They make the beautiful circular spiderwebs that catch the morning dew. 

These little spiny spiders may look spooky but they are not considered dangerous.  While hiking in the woods outside Austin you may come across these guys in abundance!  They usually like to spin their webs in forested areas although they can be found anywhere - like on my canna lilies in my backyard where I found this one!  She would spin her web between the leaves of the lilies.  I visited her daily while I watered my flowerbed and missed her when she disappeared.

The spiny backed orb weavers have six pointed projections on their back, commonly referred to as "spines" and are very easily identified by this characteristic, as well as the patterned "face-shaped" coloring which can be white, yellow, orange, or red.  Some of these spiders have a white pattern with red spines. 

If you've been following my blog you may remember Peaches (a true crab spider) and my post on the Western Spotted Orb Weaver (also a true orb weaver like our little spiny backed friend).

  What kinds of bugs have you seen lately?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Saw Sawfly Larvae "Saw" :: Buggin' Out On Thursdays

© Hungry by

Alice would have a thing or two to say about these hungry munchers.  It  is a  Caterpillar Wonderland and the wild green vine is the complimentary buffet.  They may look like caterpillars but these are actually sawfly larvae.  

The sawfly is a mystery to most people.  The insect is part of the family of Hymenoptera and some species are considered "pests" because the larvae eat farmer's crops and damage foliage, eating the leaves outright (like mine) or eating the leaves from the inside-out.  

The adult sawfly can easily be mistaken for a wasp although they do not have stingers and do no harm to humans.  The female adult sawfly has a little "saw" called an ovipositor on her rear-end that she uses to cut open plant tissue and lay eggs inside.

I often use the leaves of my vine (which grows wild in my backyard near the fence-line during the spring and all throughout summer) to photograph my jewelry for sale in my Etsy shop because the leaves are a beautiful green and compliment a lot of my pieces:


Caterpillars and other insects love the vine and can devour large portions of it in a matter of hours.  This doesn't phase me a bit because the vine grows back as thick and pretty as ever within a few days to a week!  

Dr. Dave Smith, a sawfly expert, at identified these "bugs" for me and also told me this vine is part of the Cissus family.  This is a host vine for my sawflies, whose scientific name is Ceratulus spectabilis.  Further research shows the plant is a native of Central Texas and is commonly known as Sorrel Vine (Cissus incisa).  It's a great vine to grow in my area because it has a high heat tolerance and can be used in place of ornamental ivy.  I love the idea of growing native plant species in my backyard as opposed to using imported exotics.

Apparently, sawfly larvae choose to ignore the rule about not crapping where you eat:
 POO! ©

What kind of bugs have you seen lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Updo :: Troll Doll Hair-bun

The other day I was working in the garden and it was HOT so I put my hair up in a bun with two pencils, one of which has an old Troll Doll Pencil Topper I found at Goodwill. 

He's so cute!  Now, that's a high-fashion updo ~

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunshine Spotlight: Rebecca of Raige Creations

Biologie's Sunshine Spotlight: an interview with artisan Rebecca of Raige Creations.
Raige Creations - where Creating is all the Raige and where you can find hand-crafted items made by the wonderful Rebecca, today's featured artisan.  She makes many crocheted items of all kinds from cozies to purses, intimates, original stuffed animals and, soon, quilts.  When she doesn't have her hands full juggling her family schedule she often has her hands full of yarns or fabrics.

Beck loves to create and she's good at it too!  Her interests lie in friends, family and experimenting with new materials, including trying new things.  She's a very talented lady with a background in Business Administration and she has two online shops where you can browse her pretty creations on Etsy or Zibbet.  I'm  the proud owner of this adorable crocheted stick-shift cozie (pictured above) as well as some of her Easter egg cozies!

Here's a peek at Rebecca and what goes on behind the scenes of Raige Creations:

When did you first realize you were an artist and wanted to create?
I  am an artist? Really? I never considered myself one. Seriously though, I  am sort of uncomfortable calling myself an artist because I have never  been good at drawing or sculpting, and my Painting 101 class in college  hardly makes me a painter. Though my final painting in that class was  selected to be in the end of term art show, I think it was because my  teacher thought I was “most improved“.

I was actually introduced to  art at a very young age, and art and creation has been a large part of  my life since the beginning. One of the first memories I have is  sculpting a snowman out of Ivory Snow Powder.

I fully enjoy the  process of creating, but I consider myself more of an artisan lately, as  my current works tend to be of the more practical and crafting side.

Did  you come from a large family of creative people?
Though I never  considered both my father and mother artists, both sides did contribute  very much to where I am today creatively. My Mother was an artist and  photographer who had her own Photography business.  Her father was a  creator of sorts, a structural engineer (created bridges).  My Father  was a musician, definitely the practical thinker though not much of a  visual artist. I got my urge for creating things practical from him.   His mother was both practical and creative - creative by necessity. She  taught piano lessons throughout her life, sewed clothes, and then quilts  with the leftover fabrics. It is from her that I was inspired to try a  modified version of her Tied Quilts.

My husband is an artist by  trade and uses many mediums.  We have always had art in our lives and  exposed our own children to as much art and creativity as we could.  My  husband and I even opened our own internationally renowned fine art  gallery overseas several years ago. That venture was cut short in 2004  by a Category 4 hurricane but still remains a great chapter in our  lives, and we certainly were immersed in the art world and surrounded by  creative people: which we miss dearly but never could replace, to this day.

Have your children expressed an interest in pursuing a  career in art?
They have each had spurts of artistic desires, though  each in very different ways. Our heavy involvement in the arts may have  “cured” them of pursuing art as a career. You know they say your  children strive to be the opposite of their parents. And they have seen  the difficulties involved in making a living as an artist, so although  they each enjoy creating they may pursue a different career. Too early  to tell yet really.

Your blog has a wonderful post about  colorblindness. How do you choose which colors to put together when you  are making your items?
Thank you for the compliment regarding that  post. Our 2 sons are colorblind, so we have always found the subject to  be interesting.  I am ashamed to say I am a bit selfish when I create my  crocheted things.  I tend to use colors that I like, and create things  that I find useful, and beautiful.  I find it more difficult to create  when I do not totally love the color or item I am working with.   However, with the quilts I have made and am trying to make now, I choose  the colors based on who I am making the quilt for.  I find that I love  working on it because I think they will love it and appreciate it, and  understand the colors and materials that I am using.  With each I have  made, there is a story behind the fabrics and a special meaning for each  recipient.  I am currently making a quilt for my son, who is  colorblind, so I am choosing colors and images that he likes and using  materials that he picked. He wanted a quilt of his old favorite tee  shirts that he grew out of, so I know this one will be special for him.

Who/what  inspires or influences you?
I think what inspires me the most is the  people in my life, and the stories of life.  Most of the things I have  created were for those close to me, and/or in memory of those who were  in my life.  I also love the stories behind the creations because the  item takes on an added dimension with a history behind it. If there is a  great meaning or history behind the materials or items used, I am  inspired to create with those things and give them a new purpose.  The  fabrics I use in quilts are always fabrics that were used in a different  way in their ‘former life‘.  I create other crafts based on the story  behind them also, like the Sand and Shell Christmas Ornaments I made  while living in the Caribbean.  The story of the gathering of sand and  shells was a big part of the final product.  Those ornaments were more  that just sand and shells, it included the searching, the gathering, the  fun I had with my kids.  And I see those things more than just the sand  and shells in the ornaments each time I look at them.  The history and  meanings behind the creations are something I truly enjoy, so when I  find that meaning, I am inspired to create something that will carry on  the story.

What other interests do you have outside of  creating?
I am very interested in losing about 10 pounds, so I have  been working out with My Fitness Coach (on the Wii) almost every Monday  through Friday since I got it for Christmas.  I also like walking the  dog as it gives me time to think, enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, and  get some exercise. I do love to be outdoors, though it is difficult  during the winter here. During spring-time, I want to be outside as  much as possible, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.  I like to plant  flowers, and have tried Rhubarb and Asparagus with some success.  When  we get more land I would love to try a full vegetable garden.

Other  than that, I have found some interest in the stock market, since the  crash last year when things were quite cheap.  It has been interesting  to dabble in it here and there. As we all know, the interest earned on  savings in banks is next to nothing, so we thought entering the market  couldn’t be any worse than that, and we could have never entered into  the market at it’s previous levels.

And of course, the hubby and  kids, and their interests, generally take up the rest of my interests.

What  are Tied Quilts and have you been working on any lately?
Tied  Quilts, sometimes called mock quilts, are quilts that have its 3 layers  joined by a stitch of yarn, or string.  The loose ends of the yarn or  string are then tied together in a square knot.  The Complete Guide to  Quilting (my one and only quilting book that gave me the courage to try  quilting) says that tying is used when time is limited or when the fill  is too thick to be quilted.  True, time is always limited, and that is  one of the 3 reasons I began quilting tied quilts.  The main reason I  started with tied quilts is my Grandmother made tied quilts and I just  loved the looks of hers and wanted to create that simple, rustic look  with a  modern update. And the other reason I tried tied is that I was  very intimidated by the thought of hand quilting an entire quilt.  (I  can’t hand sew very straight, and my sewing machine is not for quilting).

I have 2 quilts I am trying to work on right now. The one is for  my son that I mentioned already. It will be made using tee shirts he has  grown out of, and he picked each shirt to go in the quilt.   I am also  supplementing with his once favorite camouflage pants he grew out of. and  I  am also making one for my daughter.  It is a surprise for her - she has  no idea I am making one for her or that I have been saving fabrics for  this.  It will be made from a selection of materials that she loves, or  loved at one time.  I have saved clothes she grew out of such as  embellished jeans and velvet dresses, the material we used to create our  first teddy bear, and the cheetah/leopard print material we made a  pillow out of for her room.

Plus I am trying quilted coasters,  inspired by the Flannel Quilt I made for my husband last year.

When  did you learn to create baskets from hemp?
I am a self taught hemp  basket creator.  I first tried to crochet with it a few months ago. It  is a very durable, natural material and I love the look of it crocheted.   I had attempted my first original crocheted yarn basket at the  beginning of this year, not using any pattern.  (I seldom use patterns,  and thus there is a lot of trial and error).  I loved the results of  that.  I find I am very drawn to baskets and love their practical  function with the aesthetic beauty, and thought the hemp would really  make different and attractive basket.  So I gave it a try just about a  month ago, the beginning of April.  After starting one, ripping it out  (it looked terrible) and starting over, I was off to a great start.  I  didn’t anticipate the need for band-aids, but not even halfway through  the first try, my fingers were raw!  Once I put 2 band-aids on, I was  all set to finish.  Though it is difficult to crochet, I actually love  doing it and plan to take another stab at it soon! I also want to try to  dye the hemp different colors to create colorful baskets.

What  is one medium you have always wanted to work with but have not as of yet  had the opportunity to do so?
It is hard to think of one I haven’t  at least tried that I was interested in. I was lucky to have been able  to try all kinds of mediums while growing up.  I even learned stained  glass and tried airbrushing (tho’ be it airbrush tattoos) a few years  ago.

I do want to try mosaics next.  I have this urge to break  plates and china.  I had this compulsion to buy china sets for cheap at  auctions a few years ago and seem to have a lot of plates and  dinnerware.  I see plates and china now and think, “Oh, I would love to  break them into little pieces!“  Then I would like piece them together  in different ways to create something totally different than their  original purpose.

I also would love to figure out something to do  with rocks.  For some reason, my family collects rocks. We have rocks  everywhere, from anywhere and everywhere we have ever been.  We have  trekked rocks from Iowa all the way to the Caribbean and back, gathering  more from the Caribbean, then Maine, North Carolina, Florida, and of  course New York where we live now.  How can you create something special  and practical with rocks besides a wall? Oh, hey - there’s an idea!

Where  do you see yourself in 5 years?
Creating a rock wall with pieces of  broken plates in it, in Asheville, NC.  We do plan on moving this  summer to NC where, hopefully, art and creation still will be a large  part of our lives, all be it on a smaller, less formal and demanding  scale.

Thank you Rebecca for letting us get to know you better and for all your inspiring and creative ways to enhance our lives in not only practical but artistic and heartfelt ways!

Beck and her family are now in the process of preparing for their move to North Carolina.  She was recently appointed as a columnist at and you can read more about her creations on her blogspot at Raige Creations or check out her Facebook page!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chilled Gazpacho Soup Recipe :: Low Sodium Fat Blaster!

Gazpacho is the taste of summer.

Chilled and served in either a mug or spooned into a bowl, this soup is similar to Vegetable Juice but in a fresh, hearty, tangy, peppery way that takes things to the next level in comparison.  There are many different ways to make this soup and today I'm sharing my personal recipe.  You can control the levels of flavors and spice to your preference but I like to add extra Tabasco to turn up the heat.

If summer brings you a bumper crop of vegetables, this is the perfect way to use them quick and gobble them down even faster!  This is a chilled soup that everyone can appreciate because it's full of health, flavor, and refreshment.  Just the thing to help take the edge off a day of hard work in the outdoors under the hot sun.

Because this is my personal recipe, it contains only a little salt, however, the use of white wine makes up for the lack of sodium and adds a delicious level of flavor!

Gazpacho Soup by

Serves 10


  • 28 ounces canned tomatoes, no salt added or low sodium
  • 3 C low sodium tomato juice
  • 2 1/2 C cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 C carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 C each green and red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 shallots (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 C red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 C fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 C each fresh oregano, basil and parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (or to taste)


In a food processor or blender, process the tomatoes, tomato juice, cucumbers, carrots, green and red bell peppers, onion, shallots, & garlic until smooth.  Transfer to a large pot.  Whisk or stir in vinegar, lime juice, paprika, herbs, white pepper, and Tabasco sauce until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld and the soup to chill.  Serve in mugs or small bowls with a hunk of fresh bread on the side.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Distractions: Meet Hunter!

My husband and I adopted a new puppy this summer.  She's a hound dog mix and she's just ridiculously adorable.  Her superpower is Broken Heart Mending.  If you are feeling down, pick up and snuggle a sleepy puppy and you will know exactly what I mean!

Among other things, she's one of the reasons I've been so distracted from Blogging this summer but things are becoming a little more routine again so I'll be back to regular blog posts soon!

Have a great weekend!