Photo Contest

Happy Friday!

I’m entering the state fair photo contest again, and my prints just arrived in the mail. If they get chosen to be displayed (I think at least 30% do), I’ll show you which ones they are (though you have already seen them here). (Could I use more parentheses?) I’m too unsure of myself to show you now and then find out they were rejected. Although, last year I discovered that I don’t necessarily agree with the judges, as many of the winning photos seemed just okay to me. Mine was chosen to display, which was thrilling since it was my first entry into that contest. Then I saw the others that were chosen and the compliment didn’t feel quite as complimentary anymore. Especially since I had received the minimum score to make it to the show.

But I’m entering again, just for the fun of it. It’s nice, because they send you the scores you received from the judges. This time I chose two photos. I wanted to have larger prints made (last year mine looked so tiny compared to the others!), but it gets expensive, and I wasn’t in the mood to spend so much. Especially since the ones I am submitting aren’t necessarily the kind I’ll hang on my wall later.

Now, for funzies (as my sister and brother-in-law would say), this is the one I submitted last year. It’s kind of a cliche subject, but I liked how it turned out.

Here it is hanging up at the fair. It’s hard to tell that it looked small, but it really did. Yeah, I see the sign. I obviously took this on the sly with my cell phone, and maybe I should be locked up in jail, but I think it should be allowed for the actual photographer to take a quick photo of their own picture! I wanted a record of it hanging up.

Butterflies (Pt. 6) – The Dramatic Conclusion

So here’s what happened.

(First, if you’re new here, you may want to click on my “butterfly garden” link in the topics column to start from the beginning.)

Monday morning I awoke to find that the chrysalises had changed. The instructions said that when they get dark, that means the butterflies will be coming out soon. I didn’t know what “soon” meant, but I figured it would happen while I was at work. Since I don’t think our personal leave includes butterfly births (though it should!), I was bummed.

Later I realized I should’ve just brought the whole butterfly cage to work with me, but I’M DUMB. Sure enough, when I got home they were all out, hanging around the cage. They took their first buttery breaths (in the words of my friend J) with no one around to witness it.

Hello butterfly indeed. I should warn you that the cage does not look all that pleasant, and I’m about to post some close-up images. The red stuff is not blood, it’s some other nastiness that they have inside of them that they release as they are hatching and ironing out their wings. They didn’t hold back, and somehow it got all over. I had put down paper towel knowing there was going to be a bit of a mess, but I really didn’t expect it to be quite so….red…in there.

And a photography disclaimer: I really struggled to get decent photos (pretty much throughout this butterfly experiment). Often the light wasn’t right or the angle was limited, and then after they hatched they were quite fluttery. So this is the best I could do. If I do this type of experiment again, I will be very tempted to rent a macro lens (unless someone wants to buy me one first).

All five, happy and healthy! Well, healthy, at least. Something tells me butterflies aren’t crazy about being cooped up in a small cage immediately after getting brand new wings.

I was instructed to put flowers or crumpled paper towel in the bottom of their cage and sprinkle some sugar water on them. They weren’t very interested, but this one enjoyed a bit of my concoction, at least

This is their pose most of the time, unless you move the cage a bit and get them to go crazy.

Here you can see his body a little better.

He sees you when you’re sleeping.

You can just keep the butterflies for their entire life (2-3 weeks), but I wanted to let them see the world and maybe have some kids. I let them go the day after they were reborn.

The lovely P agreed to be my assistant and Butterfly Release Princess.

I didn’t really have any expectations about how their release would look. Good thing, because it definitely wasn’t a dreamy scene of fluttering butterflies drifting gracefully away (possibly in a J formation, to honor me). In fact, many were reluctant to go without P urging them along, and would finally escape so quickly that this is the best I could do in capturing that.

I love P’s expression here! She agreed to let me post this photo even though she says she looks dorky. I said she looks cute and realistic with her expression of wonder. 😉 I had to point out the butterfly since he’s just a tiny blur.

Okay, that’s it! This entry has taken forever to put together, so please love it so much.


Oooooookay. I’m behind on blogging. Tonight I have side-job work to catch up on, so I can’t do any complicated, pictury posts, but I will tell you what’s ahead and some other nonsense:

1. Last night I took some family portraits. I was a bit nervous but all went well. It helps to photograph a super nice and cooperative family. Pictures to come!

2. While I was at work, my butterflies all hatched and I missed it. 😦 I will post more about that soon.

3. My friend posted this hilarious video in her blog, so now I have to share it. “…revealing my tattoo, so you know I have a past.”

4. Every day, a friend and I exchange “SQ” scores. That’s the daily Set and Quiddler puzzles that are available. I think my Set record is 23 seconds, but most of the time it takes me somewhere in the one- to two-minute range, if I don’t give up first. I’m impatient.

5. I’ve never made my own lemonade, but today I was reminded that it’s possible, so now I will. Life is too short to put off stirring up some lemon juice, water and Truvia.

6. I’ve also never made a pie, so it’s one of my lesser-known 2010 goals (and is now more important than ever, since I ditched my goal of reading 50 books). I came across this Amish Egg Nog Pie recipe months ago and decided I should start with that. Maybe closer to fall. I know probably half of you are gagging, since eggnog isn’t a fav for lots of people, but something about it sounded intriguing. I’m not huge on eggnog myself–I’ll have a glass or two around the holidays–but I like the flavoring in other sorts of desserts.

7. If the fall and winter didn’t mean super short days and driving home from work in the dark, I’d not dread it as much. But I’d still dread it some, because the rain tires me. How convenient that I live here. Not that I’ve been giving those seasons much thought yet.. we’re still in July. Don’t be crazy!

8. One day soon, I will update my blog design, and the world will be a better place.

9. I’ve been on a long search for the perfect pillow, and sometimes it feels like this journey will never end.

10. It feels wrong to end at nine items.


No news on the butterflies. The chrysalises look the same as they did last time I posted about them! I am actually a tiny bit worried that they are just dead now, but I tend to translate no change to mean bad, when often everything is fine. There’s no reason they should be unhealthy–I have left them alone and the temps have been fine.

So that isn’t why I’m posting. I’m really just here to say that I finally put my photo portfolio up. The web design is nothing to be proud of, but I don’t have the right software to do everything I’d like (and I’m definitely not the world’s best at html, etc.). I used Simple Viewer, and got some help from a computery friend to customize it a bit. Mostly, I just wanted to get something up there to point people to if they are interested in having some portraits done. That came up last week, which is what prompted me to just get it done today (that and the fact that it’s all hot outside). So there you go, peruse if you wish.

I’m still deciding on a new name, and once I do (when I’m old and gray) I’ll switch out of the Hello Butterfly theme. It’s too easy to find reasons to put things off, so I decided not to let the old name get in the way.

Aren’t you glad to know all of that info?

I wanted to post a photo, since entries are funner with photos (don’t you think?), but I haven’t taken any lately, besides a couple for work. So then I thought I’d find a photo from one year ago today, and the funny thing is that I took pictures on July 23 and July 25, but not the 24th! So…nevermind. I’m going shopping.

Foreign Candy

No butterfly news today, don’t worry! In fact, I will not use that b-word anymore in this post.

It’s nice to have friends in other countries, especially if they are thoughtful and generous friends who send me candy. 🙂 Today I received a package from a friend in New Zealand after having a conversation about “Aussie-style chewy candy” that I saw at Target.

Yeah, I took a picture of the envelope. Why the heck not?

The contents! He’s sent me Whittaker’s milk chocolate before and knows I love it, so that was a little bonus. 🙂 Then we have two kinds of licorice candies. Interesting. I decided to open those so I could see what they actually looked like.

The Raspberry Choc Logs are basically smooth licorice over some sort of chocolate. I tried a piece of these and I actually liked it more than I thought I would! I didn’t open the chocolate one yet.

These Licorice Allsorts are very photogenic, so I had to construct a tower out of them. I tried two so far: a yellow one and one of those colored-sprinkle ones. Um… 🙂 Well, the yellow one reminded me of those Circus Peanuts and either black or almost root beerish licorice. Weird, I know. The sprinkled one had a flavor I couldn’t place. Not quite like black licorice, but I don’t really know what it was! I’m bringing these to work to let my coworkers try them out.

While we’re on the subject of candy, another friend said he tried pretzel M&Ms today. Did you even know they sold those? I sure did not. Anyway, they sound okay but I won’t be rushing out to try them.

And now that we’re on the subject of M&Ms, I’ll post an old photo that has just been sitting around, unused. Designer M&Ms! I like photographing colorful things.

Anyway, thanks S! I know it can be a hassle to mail internationally, so I am especially grateful for your thoughtfulness. 🙂 I owe you some Crunch bars now.. and I’m sorry I can’t mail you root beer (something hard to find in NZ, apparently).

[By the way, readers, I added these little clicky “reaction” boxes because I saw the feature when I was perusing options. I figure that makes it easier if you want to note that you stopped by but not go to the trouble of commenting. I can’t choose the reactions, so I understand that many of my entries cannot be described with any of those terms. :P]

Butterflies (Pt. 5)

Are you sick of butterfly talk yet?

Today I switched the chrysalides (I learned that this is one way to plural that word, and it’s pronounced like “chrysalideez”) to the butterfly home. It wasn’t a fun process, but I’m very glad to be rid of the gross caterpillar cup!

First, a quick look at the chrysalides today. They have taken on a bit of a metallic look in some places, like someone painted them with gold nail polish. It’s very hard to photograph it, but maybe you can get the idea from these.

Well, not as much from this, but this photo helps you understand the size since part of my hand happens to be in the picture.

Here they are being held up to the light. You can see some gold/shiny speckles and even a stripe on the one on the left.

So, the caterpillar cup has a piece of paper between the lid and the cup (which is what the caterpillars attached themselves to), and the instructions were to take that out and then pin it into the butterfly house, near the bottom.

Here’s la casa de las mariposas! Also featuring my green chair in the background of the left photo.

Happily pinned in place. I was kind of worried that with turning them sidewaysish, there will be “hatching” issues, but I’m following the instructions! And I tried to pick the direction that had the least amount of overlapping.

There shouldn’t be any action for another week, but I will update you on the way the chrysalises/chrysalides look, as they change. And hey, maybe I’ll post about something non-butterfly-y in the meantime!

Butterflies (Pt. 4)

Today (Sunday) was a big day for the caterpillars! I had no idea what was going to transpire, but I’m very glad everything worked out as it did so I had a chance to witness it and take lots of photos. I had figured everything would happen while I was asleep or at work.

If you don’t like closeup photos and videos of caterpillars shedding skin, you will want to skip this post. The photos are not just linked this time.

As you can see, all five are now in a chrysalis (or they are chrysalises? If that is the plural for it) and are officially in their pupa stage, if I’m remembering all the terms correctly. It started when one began moving and stretching, and minutes later it was coming out of its skin. I had imagined this would be gross to watch, but it was really neat! (I’m not sure why I worried since I used to watch my then pet snake shed, plus eat rats…and it was slightly larger than these caterpillars.)

Later I noticed a second had finished its process without me even seeing it. Then I managed to watch the other three. My day was not exactly productive, but it’s worth it.

I even got video! The quality isn’t great, but you get the idea, sort of. Beware, there is music, so check your computer’s volume. This video is sped up to nine times faster than reality. I downloaded some free editing software and it only let me download three songs for it, so that’s why it’s quiet at the end. 😀 How amazing are my video editing skills, though? (I obviously have very little experience with videos.)

Caterpillar shedding to chrysalis from J M on Vimeo.

[Don’t mind my reflection moving around there–I was taking photos while this was recording, and now I wish I had just sat there and blocked the light!]

So, in case you can’t tell, basically the skin splits right at the back to about the middle of his body, and his new body (or the chrysalis) expands out. The caterpillar twists a bunch to get the skin up to the top where it is connected. In three cases, that skin fell off to the floor of the cup, but in two it kind of got stuck on some silk, so hopefully it’ll fall off when I transfer them to their butterfly cage.

Here’s a closeup of the first one before and after. Well, almost after.. it’s not quite finished in that right-hand photo.

I hope you are finding this interesting and not too gross! I can never tell what people will like. I’m probably the most squeamish, but that makes me more aware of that possibility in readers. 🙂

The next step is to transfer them to their new home, which I’ll do in the next day or two. It’ll be about seven (to ten?) more days before they exit as butterflies, and I’m just hoping I am able to witness that as well!

Here’s one final photo of a chrysalis. Supposedly it changes colors and opacity over the days, so I’ll try to track that. I wish I had a macro lens, since these are pretty small (not even an inch long) and it’s tough to get decent photos.

Butterflies (Pt. 3)

Okay, is it weird that I’m switching gears back and forth from food to caterpillars? Don’t confuse!

A lot has happened in the life of my caterpillars. I will post some photos (per my sister’s request) but not put all of them right in the entry since they’re not all very pleasant. You’ll have the option of clicking the link at your own risk. Maybe I’m the only one who doesn’t want to see tons of caterpillar “waste”?

First off, I wanted to talk about how fascinating this whole process is. I really didn’t know much before this experience. In fact, I thought caterpillars “built” their chrysalis/cocoon around themselves, but after research I realized it’s not like that at all! It’s just one more layer down below their skin, which they shed several times in their lives. All of my research had me disturbed, amazed, curious and thinking about this process for much of the past few days. Here is a good little summary of the process, if you want to read it.

It also had me reflecting on God’s amazing creations and how he really outdid himself coming up with all these wild inventions that we have grown accustomed to (or even annoyed with) and often don’t give much thought. There are similarities among most things–a growth/change process, for instance–and yet they/we are all so different, too. It’s just crazy to me that there is a bug that goes from a caterpillar to a completely different-looking bug all in certain timing. And why? Why aren’t they born butterflies? Why didn’t God create two separate things: caterpillars and butterflies? Instead, it’s one that has two phases. It’s cliche to notice the Christian symbolism, but how can you not?

Okay, on with actual updates. You’ll remember that the caterpillars arrived on Monday (7/12/10) looking like this.

Then three days later (7/15/10) I came home from work and saw they had grown a lot just in that day. They must have shed their skin again (they do that four times as caterpillars). I took a few photos, though I’m not sure if you can really tell the difference as well as I could that day. Picture 1, Picture 2.

(Sorry I wasn’t consistent with the photo locations, and the quality on these isn’t the greatest either.)

Then I went through my disturbed and disgusted research phase. I was getting impatient for them to stop wandering around in their filth, because yesterday the cup looked like this. Yes, gross. I was wondering if I’d ever want to do this project again (you can order other types of butterflies).

Finally, last night they were crawling on the lid a lot more, and I hoped that meant they were about to hang themselves up and chill through the next stage. Eventually the first one went into his little “J shape” form, and this had me very glad. I didn’t actually see it happen, but I knew he was kind of slowing down.

Then, before I went to sleep, two others had joined him. The other two were being kind of disruptive and sometimes one of the three Js would twitch with what I decided was annoyance. Oh, don’t mind the t-shirt in the photo.. I was suddenly worried they might get cold and thought I’d shield them. I know, kind of dorky. I didn’t want to move the cup because they seem so fragile right now.. I don’t want any to fall! (I’m sure they’re much more stable than I think, otherwise we wouldn’t have butterflies in this world. :P)

This morning I was glad to see that all five had successfully gone into their J-mode (an awesome letter, by the way! Thanks, God!) and they are resting peacefully. I’ll post a thumbnail here. Click it for a larger version:

I guess I should’ve turned the cup around so they’d actually be Js instead of curvy Ls. 🙂

I have tried to find out how long it takes before they shed their skin again and become a chrysalis, but nothing has been specific. I don’t know if I’ll even witness that changeover, but obviously I will try!

Sorry for such a long update. I should’ve written something sooner so I didn’t have to cover so much in this post.

Chicken Souvlaki

A friend of mine had some Chicken Souvlaki from a restaurant last night, and that inspired me to try to make my own. I happened to have several of the ingredients on hand, and it’s kind of a warm-weather meal, so it seemed meant to be.

I used this recipe, but changed it up to suit my tastes and budget. I haven’t eaten much Greek food, but I’m sure I unGreekified it with my alterations. Still, it was good! Just a little hard/messy to eat (or maybe I just don’t know the proper way to eat it).


4 pieces flat bread or pitas
1 tomato, diced
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup crumbled Feta
1/4 cup sliced olives
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 small cucumber, diced
1/2 tablespoon dried dill weed


In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, Feta, and olives.

In a large bowl, combine the seasonings, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vinegar, and the lemon juice. Slowly add 4 tablespoons of the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until incorporated. Pour 2 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the tomato mixture, toss, and set aside. Add the chicken to the remaining vinaigrette, toss, and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the chicken but not the liquid to the skillet and heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes (yeah right–it took longer than that).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, dill, and the remaining vinegar. Spread the bread with some of the yogurt sauce and top with the chicken. Add the tomato salad and fold.

This made a lot of the sauce and “Greek Salsa” (as I called it–and just for that, I think I’m no longer welcome in certain countries :P), so I’m guessing I’ll have more than enough of that compared with the chicken. It depends on how much you like all those veggies and sauce, but I’d probably halve most of the ingredients next time (except the tomato was a good amount–already halved from the original recipe).

And now a little collage for no particular reason:

Butterflies (Pt. 2)

This isn’t a major butterfly update, but I just wanted to say that the caterpillars seemed to have had a major growth spurt just today! Maybe I hadn’t noticed it up until this point, but I feel like I left them this morning looking one size, and got home and they were practically double that size. It actually kind of creeped me out, like I had gone through a time warp where everything else ages except me. That or a gremlin situation where the animals grow and multiply at lightning speed.

The cup is looking quite messy now with the silk webs and “waste” all over the place (these caterpillars live like savages), in addition to these much larger caterpillars, so I’m going to spare you and not post a photo (though I took a few so I can compare their size on my own). It’s just not pretty. I guess I didn’t read carefully to know the caterpillars would grow some before going into the cocoon stage! Craziness…disturbing craziness.

If you ever want to look back on other butterfly entries, just click on the “butterfly garden” topic on the right side of my blog.