Category Archives: Arts/Crafts/Photography

The Babes of Fangorn Forest – Treebeard’s Pin Up Calendar

 

Treebeard

Treebeard here.  The other Ents and I, at our last Entmoot, decided to share our photos of the sexiest trees in Fangorn Forest.  Since we lost the Entwives a terrible long count of years ago, we have become a bit lonely, and sometimes, over a couple of pints at the Entpub, we have quite spirited discussions about our trees.  Who has the most supple branches, the softest leaves, the most graceful trunk, or the healthiest bark.  These  debates, which are quite lengthy since it takes a very long time to say anything in Entish, culminated in a series of 12 images we plan to use in our first ever “Babes of Fangorn Forest” pin up wall calendar.  Many of these trees are my friends, creatures I have known from nut or acorn.  And some of them have grown up to be, well, to use the vernacular, total hotties.  Please take the time to examine the images with care.  Do not be hasty.  Think of roofs of sleeping leaves, the dreams of trees untold, when woodland halls are green and cool and the wind is in the west.  Ahem.  I hope you enjoyed that, it is one of my own compositions.  But enough of me and my words, look, look at the trees, the beautiful, beautiful trees…

1. January

2. February

3. March

4. April

5. May

6. June

7. July

8. August

9. September

10. October

11. November

12. December

 

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City People Visiting Country Cats

Cats header

In my previous post I took you on a tour of Meadow K View farm, where we stayed in the guest house for two lovely days last August (Cats and Cows and Cats and Cows). And I think I might have mentioned that I took one, or two, or maybe more like a million photos of the multitudinous felines that roamed the farm.  There were cats and kittens of all colors and sizes.  Though none of them were pudgy, these are working cats.  They were lean, mean, mousing machines.  Emma and Sam and I had a great time naming them all.  The cats were one of our favorite parts of going to the farm.  If you like cats too, you will love this post!

Click on photos to enlarge

Let's start with my favorite color for a cat.  This is Sky.

Let’s start with my favorite color for a cat. This is Sky.

Midnight napping.

Midnight napping.  Look at those adorable big kitten paws!

Soulful Ash.

Soulful Ash.

Momma cat, who I could never get a picture of by herself, as her kittens were always nearby.

Momma cat, who I could never get a picture of by herself, as her kittens were always nearby.

See!

See!

This is Mama's Boy.  He was ALWAYS nursing or trying to nurse.  But what a beauty.  Probably the most photogenic cat on the farm.

This is Mama’s Boy. He was ALWAYS nursing or trying to nurse. But what a beauty. Probably the most photogenic cat on the farm.

Shy Cat.  He was pretty wary, which is a more typical farm cat personality, from what I've seen.  The Meadow K cats were a really friendly bunch in general.

Shy Cat. He was pretty wary, which is a more typical farm cat personality, from what I’ve seen. The Meadow K cats were a really friendly bunch in general.

Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Don't ask me which one is which.

Thing 1 and Thing 2. Don’t ask me which one is which.

Lily had the most amazing markings.  She also had a very strong personality.  As in, "Don't mess with me unless you have some treats to bribe me with."

Lily had the most amazing markings. She also had a very strong personality. As in, “Don’t mess with me unless you have some treats to bribe me with.”

Chicken Stalker.  This kitty like to mess with the chickens.

Chicken Stalker. This kitty liked to mess with the chickens.

Dusty.  Guess how he got his name.

Dusty. Guess how he got his name.

El Mustacio was one cool cat.

El Mustacio was one cool cat.

The Ghost.  This cat was super stealthy, and only came out in the milking barn when it was very quiet.  I got this photo when I went up there by myself after dinner.

The Ghost. This cat was super stealthy, and only came out in the milking barn when it was very quiet. I got this photo when I went up there by myself after dinner.

Twilight.  Look at those green eyes!  This kitty needs a witch to hang out with.

Twilight. Look at those green eyes! This kitty needs a witch to hang out with.

New York Cat.  This guy lived in New York for awhile, and was having a hard time adjusting to being a farm cat again.  He kept trying to get in the house.

New York Cat. This guy lived in New York for awhile, and was having a hard time adjusting to being a farm cat again. He kept trying to get in the house.

Stormy was Emma's favorite.  A super pretty kitty.

Stormy was Emma’s favorite. A super pretty kitty.

Snow Field was Sam's favorite.  He is partial to white cats.

Snow Field was Sam’s favorite. He is partial to white cats.

This cat was Hobbes, because he looks like Hobbes.  But he was much better behaved.

This cat was Hobbes, because he looks like Hobbes. But he was much better behaved.

This is Blaze, for the blaze of white on his forehead.

This is Blaze, for the blaze of white on his forehead.

Cats washing and playing.

Cats washing and playing.

Cats racing!

Cats racing!

Big cats, little cows.

Big cats, little cows.

Table and chairs = cat beds

Table + chairs = cat beds.

Cat relaxing.

Cat relaxing.

I could put even more cute cat photos on this post, but if I did I think the internet might explode.  Hope you enjoyed seeing all this feline goodness.  Now go pet a cat!

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Desert Flowers in Anza Borrego

Flowers.header

I was in the Anza Borrego Desert this past weekend with Sam and his Boy Scout troop.  A detailed post on the fun that was had by all is soon to follow.  This post is a collection of flower photos I took.  Lots of plants were blooming, from large lupine to tiny little I don’t know whats tucked under rocks or dug into the sand.  We have had a few nice storms, though not enough to break the drought, so there was some green out there, more than we have seen in the past.  As always, the persistence of life under such adverse conditions is amazing.

Cactus flower

Cactus just starting to bloom.

Cactus almost blooming

In about a week this will look like a very prickly bouquet.

Clustered yellow flowers

A small cluster of yellow flowers poking up out of the sand.

Delicate yellow

This looked like wild parsley. Tony liked the delicate composite flowers.

Lupine.2

Lovely lupine was all over in the desert washes.

Lupine

Close up of lupine.

Ocitillo

The ocotillo was just starting to bloom. In the winter these look like bunches of dead sticks. In spring they get small green leaves along the length of the branches, and then bright red flowers bloom from the tips.

Pink flower

Really pretty pink trumpety flowers blooming in amongst the boulders.

Purple flower

Tiny purple flower hiding under a big rock.

Tall yellow flowers

These flowers are all blooming from a big round plant. They look like a field of daisies.

Yellow flower.desert floor

I am christening this the desert dandelion. If I was more motivated, I would try to identify these plants. For now, I am just enjoying them…

                 

 

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Taxidermy With Dr. Seuss

Seuss header

San Diego is a hotbed of Dr. Seuss-iness, which is not surprising as he lived here from 1947 until his death in 1991.  Mandeville Special Collections in UCSD’s Geisel Library is filled with his notes and original artwork, and there is a bronze statue of him sitting at a drawing desk outside the library named after him.  UCSD also celebrates Dr. Seuss’ (Theodor Geisel’s) birthday in the beginning of March each year, and gives away thousands of pieces of free cake.  See my post You Had Me At Free Cake for a description of this whimsical event.

There is another, temporary Seuss-fest in San Diego, at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.  They currently are showing an exhibit of his artwork including sculptures, paintings, and drawings, which runs until December 2015 (Ingenious! The World of Dr. Seuss).

Sam and Trevor had a half day a few Wednesdays ago, so we headed to Balboa Park, our Explorer Passes in hand.  Explorer Passes give you admission to all of the museums in the park (but not the Zoo), so we had a lively debate (as usual) trying to figure out where to go.  Trevor reminded me of the Seuss exhibit, which ended the discussion.  Off we went!

From the lobby there is a view of a vibrant yellow wall, which is hung with fanciful taxidermy specimens.  Taxidermy as only Dr. Seuss could conceive of it!

Taxidermy with Seuss.2

Here is an old photo of Dr. Seuss under one of the taxidermy heads that hung in his home, holding a little dog.  Is it just me, or is this juxtaposition a tad creepy?

Dr. Seuss with dog

Speaking of Dr. Seuss’ home, one of the first things you see in the gallery is a huge photo of him sitting at his work table.  His home sits on top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, and offers views up and down the coastline.  As a creative person, I can only imagine how cool it would be to do your work with that view outside your giant windows.  Sublime.

Dr. Seuss at desk

The gallery was filled with paintings by Dr. Seuss.  Below are a series of cats.  From the left, “Cat From the Wrong Side of the Tracks”, “Wisdom of the Oriental Cat”, “Joseph Cat and His Coat of Many Colors, and “Green Cat with Lights”.

Different Seuss Cats

The colors were so vibrant.  On the left below are “Free Bird” and “Fire Bird”.  I didn’t get the title of the one on the right.   So I’m going to make one up.  How about “Little Red House in a Big Big Universe.”

Colorful Seuss paintings

Self portraits by Dr. Seuss.  He forgot to put on his happy face.

Self portraits

Sometimes the exhibit strayed into more adult themes, like the “Facts of Life” on the right.  The one to the left is Dr. Seuss’ version of “Abduction of the Sabine Women”, which depicts Roman men abducting neighboring Sabine women to help populate their new city.  Hard to imagine a children’s book based on that theme.  It would be enough to give Cindy Lou Hoo nightmares!

Facts of Life.Sabine

This one is “After Dark in the Park”.  Who knew the little animals were so happy?  I wonder what’s in their water…

Park after Dark

There were also amazing sculptures, including, of course, the Lorax.  It inspired Sam to get all “Hand of God”.

The Lorax

Bitter Teen Trevor found his soul mate, Mr. Grinch.  And Horton is hearing a Who.

Grinch+Horton

Had to get a photo of Sam I Am with some green eggs and ham.

Sam I Am

WHEW!!!  What a great exhibit.  Though they started out chipper as chipmunks, the boys found it a bit exhausting.  Fortunately there were giant poof pillows, upon which they sank gracefully down.

Before and after

If you live in San Diego or come to visit, this exhibit is up in next December.  If you would like more info on Dr. Seuss, there is a nice article from 2004 in UCSD Magazine, where the author visits Dr. Seuss’ house and interviews his widow Audrey (Oh the Places He Did Go).

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Sunday Morning in My Yard

Sunday yard header

All is peaceful, as it should be on an early Sunday morning.  Sam, the son, is off on a 10 mile hike with his Boy Scout troop.  Emma, the 14 year old tempest, is still up in her room and will not emerge until the morning has faded.

I wandered out to the yard and was loving the light, as it peeked over the canyon rim and through the eucalyptus leaves into my yard.  I went back in for my camera, and with my trusty cats at my side, I took photos of anything that caught my eye.  Enjoy a sunny, but chilly (for us!) January morning in San Diego.

The view into the canyon from my yard.  We have had recent rains, which accounts for all the green!

The view into the canyon from my yard. We have had recent rains, which accounts for all the green!  The hint of red on the right are leaves on a laurel sumac.

My companions this morning.  Bella is 18 and very creaky, so she likes to find a sunny spot to sit in so she can warm up her old bones.  Julius, is a male in the prime of his life.  He is lord of all he surveys, from on top of his tree stump with a funny face nailed to it.  I guess we should maybe rethink his throne decoration.

My companions this morning. Bella is 18 and very creaky, so she likes to find a sunny spot to sit in so she can warm up her old bones. Julius is a male in the prime of his life. He is lord of all he surveys, from on top of his tree stump with a funny face nailed to it. I guess we should maybe rethink his throne decoration.

A riot of reds.  A Chinese lantern, geranium, and two amaryllis.

A riot of reds. A Chinese lantern, geranium, and two amaryllis.

In the winter my succulents come into bloom.  On the left, aloe, on the right, jade.

In the winter my succulents come into bloom. On the left, aloe, on the right, jade.

A fairy, a superhero, and a glorious trophy lady all soak up the morning sun.

A fairy, a superhero, and a glorious trophy lady all soak up the morning sun.

Birds getting breakfast.  Birds are very practical creatures.  If your feeders are empty, they do not grace your backyard with their presence.  I like to give them imaginary dialogue.  "WTF lady, where's the friggin' food."

Birds getting breakfast. Birds are very practical creatures. If your feeders are empty, they do not grace your backyard with their presence. I like to give them imaginary dialogue when they show up and I have let them down. “WTF lady, where’s the friggin’ food?”

Sunlight through leaves.  Just think of all the frenetic biochemistry going on in there, as chloroplasts work the miracle of turning sunlight into sugars.  Without those little green guys, we could not exist.  And green leaves make such pretty pictures!~

Sunlight on leaves. Just think of all the frenetic biochemistry going on in there, as chloroplasts work the miracle of turning sunlight into sugars. Without those little green guys, we could not exist. And green leaves make such pretty pictures!

Burro tails and century plant leaves with water drops.  And my preacher pig, who is unfortunately getting covered in bird poop due to his proximity to the feeder.  I guess it is just his cross to bear...

Burro tails and century plant leaves covered with water drops. And my preacher pig, who is unfortunately getting covered in bird poop due to his proximity to the feeder. I guess it is just his cross to bear…

Some random photos.  A pot of plants that are coming up, but I can't remember what I planted.  Some kind of flower, or maybe catnip?  One of our little houses from the outdoor village, that is now sporting a jade plant.  The houses weren't supposed to be outdoors, and they are decaying in a very attractive fashion.   Finally, the baby's toes blooming.  Kind of a gruesome name for a plant, IMHO.  There is a seaweed called Dead Man's Fingers also.  Accurate, descriptive, but yucky.

Some random photos. A pot of plants that are coming up, but I can’t remember what I planted. Some kind of flower, or maybe catnip? One of our little houses from the outdoor village, that is now sporting a jade plant. The houses weren’t supposed to be outdoors, and they are decaying in a very attractive fashion. Finally, blooming baby’s toes. Kind of a gruesome name for a plant, IMHO. There is a seaweed called Dead Man’s Fingers also. Accurate, descriptive, but yucky.

Let's finish up with some more floral gorgeousness.  Cyclamen (one of my favorites) and yet another picture of the ridiculously photogenic amaryllis that my friend Lori gave me.  Thank you Lori!

Let’s finish up with some more floral gorgeousness. Cyclamen (one of my favorites) and yet another picture of the ridiculously photogenic amaryllis that my friend Lori gave me. Thank you Lori!

Hope you enjoyed your Sunday in San Diego.  Winter break is almost over, time to get back to work and school.  Relish these last few hours of relaxation.

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Are Sunset Photos Cliche?

Sunset.header

I like to do a post on photos every now and then, since those who know me know I like to take photos.  A lot of photos.  So I trolled through my stuff and found many pics I have snapped over the years.  Then I went to BrainyQuotes to find a nice quote to start my post.  I saw this one from Carlos Santana, and I thought “Perfect, he grew up on the West Coast!”

Santana Quote

And then I saw this one by Catherine Opie, and she made me feel bad.

Obie quote

“Catherine Opie who?”, you may ask, as I did.  Well, she is a professor of photography at UCLA, had a show at the Guggenheim, etc, etc.  She specializes in documentary photography, which I guess is not cliche.  Probably it’s chic and important.  But, however banal, lackluster, hackneyed, derivative, and trite it may be, I am forging ahead!  Because who doesn’t like an awesome sunset photo, dammit!  Besides Catherine Opie that is.

Gualala, CA

Gualala, CA

Sunset.Gualala.Big.Sun

Gualala, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

Sunset.Shore birds

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

Anza Borrego Desert, CA

Anza Borrego Desert, CA

Near Zion, Utah

Near Zion, Utah

Racine, Wi

Racine, WI

Western PA

Western PA

Classic!  Photo of your kids in front of a sunset so beautiful it looks fake.

Classic! Photo of your kids in front of a sunset so beautiful it looks fake.

 

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Beautiful Spring Flowers Galore!

Many many beautiful flowers are blooming in my yard and in the local canyons here in San Diego.  I’ve been taking photos, lots and lots of photos.  Enjoy!

Canyon Plants

Flowering California Buckwheat

California Buckwheat

Purple Straw Flower

Purple Straw Flower or Purple Statice

Thistle, I think.

Thistle

White Sage

White Sage

Toyon

Toyon

Coastal Goldenbush

Coastal Goldenbush

Deerweed

Deerweed

California Aster

California Aster

California Wild Rose Hip

California Wild Rose Hip (not a flower, but a former flower…)

California Fuchsia

California Fuchsia

Bushmallow

Bushmallow

Backyard Plants

Hibiscus

Hibiscus

Another Hibiscus close up

Another Hibiscus close up

Flame and Yellow Milkweed

Flame and Yellow Milkweed

Jasmine

Jasmine

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Butterfly bush

Butterfly bush

Red Geranium

Red Geranium

Succulent purple flower

Rock Purslane

Squashed up Pumkin flower

Squashed up Pumkin flower

Pumpkin flower

Pumpkin flower that looks like a starfish

Orchid

Orchid

Cactus orchis

Cactus Orchid

Close up of Cactus Orchid

Close up of Cactus Orchid

Bouganvillea

Bougainvilla

Blue Flowers

Blue Flowers – Can’t remember what these are!

Iris?

Amaryllis

 

 

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Monarch Butterfly A – B – C

1. Monarch header

We live on a canyon in Southern California, which is incredibly awesome, except for the few weeks of the year when the dry Santa Ana winds blow and everyone worries (not unreasonably) about wildfire.  I love the up close view I get of nature.  Hawks, quail, crows, owls, and many other types of birds, rattlesnakes (!), lizards, racoons, opossums, coyotes, bobcats (we found entrails deposited by our front door just after moving in), rats (my cat killed one and tried to bring it in the house) and all kinds of insects.  Little did I know what I was missing though, until I got a milkweed plant a few years ago.

Monarch caterpillars are like koalas and pandas, in that they eat only one thing.  And for monarchs that one thing is milkweed.  There used to be fields and fields of milkweed, but because of herbicide use and habitat loss, the number of plants across the nation has dwindled.  If you love monarchs and want a show that lasts for months (at least in Southern CA), put some milkweed plants in your yard or in a big pot on your patio!

I was amazed at how many butterflies visited.  They came in and out over hours as I worked in my yard.  Hundreds of small, white eggs were laid, and hatched into loads of caterpillars.  At one point I had so many caterpillars that they ate my plant down to sticks and stems (not one leaf was left), and I had to load caterpillars up in a box and drive around Tierrasanta looking for other milkweed plants to transfer them onto so they could have food to eat.

Needless to say, all this action was a photographer’s bonanza.  I have nearly 700 photos I have taken over the past 2 years.  I know that this is excessive, possibly crossing the line into obsessive.  There, I admitted my problem, which is one of those 12 steps.  Because of all those photos, I have been putting off writing this because how was I supposed to winnow them down to fit in a blog post?  Ah Ha!! (I thought to myself), the ALPHABET.  Only 26 letters!!  That’s how!

Well, sort of.  I put in two or three photos for some letters, because I couldn’t control myself.  So my alphabet has 52 entries instead of 26.  I know it is a lot (actually 2 times what I planned), but I guarantee that each and every one of them is super cool.  Check them out, be amazed at the beauty of nature, the cycle of life, and one woman’s inability to stop taking photos, no matter how many pics of these little fellas she already had.  And be grateful that she did.

(Click on the images for a better view)

Adult

A - Adult

Babies

B - Babies

Blur

B - Blur

Chrysalis

C - Chrysalis

Count

C - Count

Curled Up

C- Curled up

Dracula

D- Dracula

Eat

E - Eat

Eggs

E - Eggs

Elevated

E - Elevated

Feet

F - Feet

Finger Dancer

F - Finger dancer

Going In

G - Going in

Goin’ My Way?

G - Going my way?

Green Leaf

G - Green

Generations

G- Generations

Hanging Out

H - Hanging out

Holey Leaf Batman!

H - Holey leaf Batman!

Hatchlings

H -Hatching

Incandescent

I - Incandescent

Just J

J - Just J

Kaleidoscope

K - Kaleidoscope

Karaoke

K - Karaoke

Ladder

L - Ladder

Laying An Egg

L - Laying eggs

Most Interesting Caterpillar in the World

M - Most interesting caterpillar in the world

Num Num Num…

N - Num num num

Operation Relocation

O- Operation Relocation

Pair o’ Pillars

P - Pair

Planting Milkweed Seeds

P - Planting

Platform

P - Platform

Praying

P- Prayer

Que Pasa?

Q - Que pasa?

Ring Finger

R - Ring finger

Seeds

S - Seed

Sharp Little Pointy Feet

S - Sharp and pointy

Stripey

S - Stripey

Swinging on a Leaf

S- Sawing off the wrong end

Transferring to a New Location

T - Transfer

Teeny Tiny

T- Teeny tiny

Triple Play

T- Triple play

Ugly Duckling

U - Ugly duckling

Upside Down

U - Upside down

Underneath

U -Under

Very Long

V - Very long

Wings

W - Wings

Whole Mess a Monarchs

W- Whole mess a monarchs

X-Wing Fighter

X -X wing fighter

Yellow is Yummy

Y- Yellow is yummy

Zoom In

Z - Zoom in

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Improving the View from Bing’s Hotel Room

My friend Bing, who I met many years ago when I used to be a scientist, is in Washington D.C. reviewing grants.  He posted this to Facebook about an hour ago.

Bing's hotel room view

He did say that the hotel is in Washington Circle and is close to the White House and other sites in D.C., but still, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him.  So using the magic of Photoshop filters, I’ve created 12 different versions of the view of Bing’s hotel room.  Maybe he can get a hold of a printer and cover the real one with a mosaic of my altered views.  Hey, mosaic, that’s one of the filters I used!  Wow, this post is like a snake eating its own tail…

12 New Views

Colored Pencil

Colored Pencil

Cut out - Black and White

Cut out – Black and White

Fresco

Fresco

Frosted Glass - Blocks

Frosted Glass – Blocks

Glowing Edges

Glowing Edges

Ink Outlines - Black and White

Ink Outlines – Black and White

Mosaic Tiles

Mosaic Tiles

Neon Glow

Neon Glow

Photocopy

Photocopy

Plastic Wrap

Plastic Wrap

Spatter

Spatter

Sumi-e

Sumi-e

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Turning an Antique Printer’s Drawer into a Shelf of Tiny Wonders

My son is a rock hound, as am I, and we have lots and lots of rocks we have gathered over the years.  They are in boxes and bins, piled in trays and bowls, and generally all over the place.  I wanted a small curio type shelf to display some of his rocks and fossils, but I wasn’t having much luck finding a shelf with lots of smallish compartments.  I put it out on my FB page what I wanted, and my friend Tony (see my page The Twelve Tonys) suggested I look for an old printer’s drawer.

Back in the old days, in order to print newspapers or flyers, the type would have to be set up by hand.  Wooden or metal pieces that composed words would be arranged (backwards) to make up a page, which would be put into a press.  Ink would be spread over the type, paper laid on top, and then an impression was made on the paper.  Sounds tedious, and is yet another reason to be glad you live in the digital age.

Printer's drawer.typesetting

Not many people still print this way, and as a result there are, floating about the world, many abandoned printer’s drawers.  I got on Craigslist and found this one in my area, which I purchased.  It was dusty and dirty, and it took a few days to get it cleaned up.

Printer's drawer.1

When it was done I went to Ace and got some hefty hardware used for hanging mirrors to attach it to the walls, and I borrowed my neighbor’s stud finder to make sure I was drilling into wood and not plaster.  This drawer is solid wood with brass strips on the front of each compartment, and it is not light.  Spent some time trying to make sure it would hang level (it’s pretty close!) and then we got to have lots of fun filling it up.

Many of our rocks were too big to put in, as the compartments are not very deep (about an inch).  But we have lots and lots of little treasures that we have saved over the years, and we have managed to fill up most of the slots.

Shelf of wonders.full

There are 13 cats (including a shrine to my first grey cat, Enzo), a Harry Potter box (Crookshanks, Scabbers, wands, and a golden snitch), little metal dreidels, shells, rocks, fossils, bok choy boys, pencil toppers, coins, glass beads, sea glass, incredibly small origami cranes that Emma folded, 3 rat skulls, a little bronze Buddha, go stones, and teeny tiny fruits and vegetables.  I could go on and on.  If you are a friend or neighbor, next time you are over come see our tiny treasures for yourself.  If you aren’t local, be sure to double click on the image, to get a nice close up look at our shelf of wonders.

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