Colorful Catrinas

My youngest daughter just returned from Mexico where she has been doing her culinary practice at a wonderful colonial restaurant for the past four months.  Among the things she brought me upon her return were these cute little skeleton dolls fashionably dressed in fancy attire and plumed hats. They are known as Catrinas and are an important part of Mexican culture.

I had seen these dolls before at souvenir shops and in magazines and had always thought that Catrinas (or Kalakas as they are sometimes called) were associated with ancient Mexican Day of the Dead traditions but I was wrong.    

I was surprised to learn that they have a very interesting and more modern history which is linked surprisingly to Frida Khalo and her husband, artist Diego Rivera.   

Catrina started out as a political cartoon created by Mexican cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada during the early 1900’s for one of his political pamphlets.  Originally dubbed Calavera Garbancera (roughly translated: the chick-pea selling skeleton or the chick-pea vendor) Posada’s cartoon was meant to satirize the poor peasant class of Mexicans who put on airs of rich European dandies and adopted the dress and mannerisms of the European upper class, thus rejecting their own native origins and heritage.

Posada died quietly without the fame or recognition that he deserved and it wasn’t until many years later that his fancy skeleton lady became a beloved symbol of Mexican culture when famed artist Diego Rivera painted his iconic mural entitled Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.   Catrina is the central character in his mural and she is surrounded by influential figures of Mexican history. She is shown wearing a quetzal feather boa around her neck and a fancy plumed hat on her head. Rivera painted himself as a small child standing next to her and holding her hand. Behind him is his wife Frida Khalo who has one hand resting on his shoulder and in the other she is holding a ying/yang symbol. It was Diego Rivera himself who coined the term Calavera Catrina which means the the dapper skeleton or the dandy skeleton. In Mexico and in some Central American countries the word catrin means a dandy or someone who is dressed to the teeth in the height of fashion. Catrina is the feminine form of the word.  

I must add that Catrina is meant to be a colorful, happy and fun folkloric figure and is not in any way related to the darker and more sinister cult figure of Santa Muerte.  In Mexico they make Catrinas out of many different materials, the favorite being paper mache which is then painted brightly. Here’s a paper mache Catrina riding a bike.  

This one seems to be yelling, or perhaps singing   

Sometimes their clothes are made out of fabric and lace and bits of feathers.

Other Catrinas are made of clay. There are even some Talavera ones like this catrin and catrina sitting on a park bench, but Talavera catrinas are very expensive.  Maybe on her next trip to Mexico she can get me this adorable couple that was displayed in a store window.  

There was a huge array of them at the store where my daughter purchased a few and it was difficult to choose. 

This one looks like a turn of the century school teacher to me These are my two favorite of all the ones she bought me. They’re very elegant ladies made of clay.  The black birds are just decorative but I thought they were cool because they look kind of gothic. They had other catrinas where the birds were brightly painted like Amazon parrots.

I sense the start of a new collection.


Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage



Lace Hearts


I’ve been working on Christmas ornaments for the past couple of months. This year I decided I’d make my own ornaments and decorations because the colors and styles that are available in my area aren’t too varied or interesting. I think that one of the main drawbacks here is that everything has to be shatterproof due to the tile or terrazo floors that most folks have in their homes (including me).  That really limits the selection because plastic just isn’t as pretty. Everyone knows that the most beautiful ornaments are made of glass.  Also, all the stores here seem to import the same items and carry the exact same stuff in the same colors: gold, red, green, silver. I have plenty of those colors from years past but this year I’ve been on the lookout for pastel colored ornaments. I searched high and low for anything in soft pink, aqua or white but I was unable to find much in those shades. So I had no choice but to make them myself. In addition to recycling last year’s ornaments and painting over them (that’ll be the subject of a future post) I also dug deep into my bag of fabric remnants and came up with these puffy little lace hearts to hang on the tree. I used plain fabric in white and pink as the base and then sewed lace scraps over that. The hearts are lightly stuffed with quilt batting and then embellished a bit with pearls and rhinestones or whatever else I could find in my sewing box. A thin satin ribbon on top makes them “hangable” so they can be used on the tree.


I don’t know how many I made, I sort of lost track because I would sit and sew in the evenings while I relaxed and watched tv or Netflix. I ended up with so many that I gave a few of them away to friends.


I made two different sized heart templates out of newspaper. One was wide and short and the other was narrow and longer. All the hearts were made with those two templates.lace-hearts




This ivory mesh fabric that I used for these hearts is woven with real silver wire thread. It’s hand made by artisans in Egypt.








img_1874I already have more than enough to hang on the Christmas tree but I think I might just keep on making them because they’re so easy and fun to make. I can fill little baskets with them or just give them away as gifts.


Joining: Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Halloween in the Guest Bath

6.JPGI usually don’t decorate any of the bathrooms in my home for any holiday. I’ve always thought that a tablescape and a pumpkin or two  were quite sufficient for Halloween.  I don’t know why I had the sudden urge to decorate the guest bath/daughter’s bath with halloween items this year. I can’t really say that I decorated it,  but I did want to at least give a nod to one of my favorite times of the year. 1That little plastic jack-o-lantern soap dispenser was a cheapie item that I got at the grocery store a couple of years ago pre-filled with soap. I hadn’t expected it to last this long since it was so inexpensive, but lo and behold…it’s still intact and quite refillable, it pumps out soap perfectly.

4.JPGThis glass vase is usually filled with seashells the rest of the year. The black and silver spider is from the Bombay Company and it’s part of a set of six. They’re fun because the legs are flexible and you can put them into all different positions.I’ve been searching Ebay for a couple of years now to try and find more of these but haven’t had any luck.




9This little raven watches from his perch and greets guests with a beady eyed stare.  Always sitting, never flitting. Watching, watching…evermore.


12.JPGOn the other wall, halloween knick knacks replace the every day figurines that usually fill this shelf and black and orange towels substitute the usual green ones.









DNA Tests And a Bit Of Ancestor History



I usually post about home related topics and gardening, but this week I wanted to talk a little bit about my DNA test results, which I am really intrigued and excited about.  I just got back the results of my second test a couple of weeks ago and boy were they surprising this time!

First let me go back a couple of years to when my son decided to get tested with a company called 23andme. These people not only tested his DNA for ethnicity but at that point in time they were also testing for any possible genetic propensities to a huge number of illnesses.  After seeing the results of my son’s test and arguing back and forth about what he likely inherited from his dad and what he inherited from me, my curiosity was piqued and I just had to know.  The only way to find that out was for either my husband or I (or both) to get tested as well. Hubby immediately balked at the idea, as I knew he would. He stated in no uncertain terms that he thought DNA tests were dumb and a waste of money. Furthermore, he had no desire to know what his ethnicity was. I, on the other hand was itching to find out and I went ahead and ordered a test kit at that time and sent my sample off to their lab for processing. When I got the results back a few weeks later, I was not surprised by most of it but a little bit confused by the trace amounts of DNA that showed up from places that were completely foreign to me. (clicking on the photos will make them larger)test1

My father is a Christian Maronite from Lebanon so it was to be expected that the test showed an almost 36% of Middle Eastern and North African DNA. North Africa includes Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, all majoritarily arab countries so that part of the test made sense. It also showed roughly a 40%  European ancestry mostly from Southern Europe and that was further broken down specifically to the Iberian Peninsula and Italy with just a sprinkling in of Northern European. The Iberian portion wasn’t a revelation because my mother’s maiden name is Portugese and she is descended from two Portugese brothers who travelled to South America and settled in Ecuador in the 1600s. There are also several Spanish surnames in our family tree on my mother’s side. What really took me aback though, was the Italian bit. There had been persistent rumors in our family that we were “Italian” but nobody could really say for sure how that happened. There are no Italian surnames in our family that I know of. However, there was an old family rumor that there had been some shennanigans going on with one of my great-great-great grandmas who had an affair with an army general of Italian ancestry. I had always brushed it off as fantasy and had never believed it.  But if the story is true, then I guess we all carry the evidence of her indiscretion. Another non surprise was the 16.8% of Native American and Yakut DNA that showed up in the test. My mother is from Ecuador and despite her blonde hair, light skin and light eyes, this DNA was contributed by her and by her mother before her and so on. My mitochondrial DNA (A2p) was identified as being Native American, specifically Inca. So I can be certain that this came from my maternal grandmother.test 2

The small percentage of Yakut (a Siberian group of people)  isn’t surprising either because as the theory goes, America was first populated by people who crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia and travelled downward from there.

A Yakut Girl (Source: Pinterest)

A Yakut Girl (Source: Pinterest)

What I found very interesting was the trace amount of DNA from Oceania that 23andme identified. What?? How did THAT get in there?  After doing a bit of research I discovered that among people with Inca ancestry it is not uncommon to find Polynesian DNA as well. This is because Easter Island, or Rapanui as it is called in the language of it’s inhabitants, which is located off the Coast of Chile, was populated entirely by Polynesian peoples who crossed the Pacific Ocean eastward in canoes and settled there hundreds of years ago. Being expert navigators many of them continued on from there to mainland South America where they mixed with the Native American inhabitants of the continent, thus contributing Polynesian DNA to many of the Inca people. Who knew. The test also identified a small amount of Sub-Saharan African DNA, specifically pinpointed to West Africa but they didn’t specify which country. I discovered that the majority of people who have Iberian ancestry also carry trace amounts of African DNA because of the very close proximity of Morocco to Spain. During the period of Al Andalus, which was the Islamic period of Southern Spain and Portugal, many moors crossed over from western Africa through the Strait of Gibraltar and into Spain. The kingdom of Al Andalus flourished for over 700 years but this all changed when the northern rulers Ferdinand and Isabella aka as “The Catholic Kings” from Aragon and Castille conquered the Southern part of Spain and expelled both Jews and Muslims from what would be known from then on as strictly Christian lands. Many of them however converted to Christianity and stayed put, gradually mixing into the general Christian population. BTW this was the same Ferdinand and Isabella who funded Cristopher Columbus’s expedition in 1492.

Fast Forward a couple of years to 2016. I dicovered that DNA tests can be addictive. Seriously. I was browsing through Amazon one day looking for something else, when much to my delight I saw that they were advertising Ancestry dot com’s DNA test for only 89 dollars. I thought…what the heck,  I’ll order it and see if the results match up with my 23andme test. But this time some of the results were very surprising.


While the overall percentages were roughly the same i.e. 36% middle eastern, 43%  European, and 17% Native American, this test showed zero Polynesian ancestry (so much for my Easter Island explanation)  and only a 1% amount of sub-Saharan DNA specifically pinpointed to Mali in addition to the 2% North African.  That’s not unexpected because Mali shares a border with Algeria…again, an arab country.

ancestry test 3

It was Ancestry’s breakdown of my European DNA that confused me the most. They identified it as mostly Italian/Greek with only 3% Iberian. Greek?? Now, I am certain there are no Greeks in my family. Or are there? Well maybe. In the late 1800s there was a large influx of Greeks into Lebanon and there is also a large Greek Orthodox community who settled there hundreds of years ago. So it’s entirely possible that the Greek ancestry comes from my Lebanese side. But, how is it possible that there is such a large amount of Italian ancestry and so little Iberian?  Very odd indeed. Aside from my alleged cheating great great (great) grandma in the 1800s, I am unaware of a single Italian person in my family. Ancestry’s test detected no Scandinavian/Eastern Europe DNA but I know for a fact that my great grandmother Julia’s mom was from Denmark and her last name was Eskildsen. That’s where my mom’s blonde hair likely comes from as well as that bit of Ashkenazi that both tests detected.

ancestry test 4

Ancestry dot com also identified a 4% of DNA from the Caucasus region which they indicated could be from Syria, Turkey or Armenia. 23andme didn’t catch that, they just lumped it all together as Middle Eastern. It makes sense though, considering Lebanon’s proximity to Syria as well as the strong Turkish influence over the entire middle east during Ottoman rule which only recently ended in the early 20th century.

Since both tests yielded very similar results in the overall percentages of each ethnicity, but significant differences in the detailed breakdown, I am not quite sure which one I should believe. My son says he trusts the 23andme test more. For no particular reason. But I am inclined to believe the company who has the larger data base to draw from…which would be Ancestry dot com.  Or maybe I should just believe whichever parts I like best from both tests.


One of the more interesting things that the first of the two tests showed was my percentage of Neanderthal DNA. Apparently pretty much everyone with European ancestry carries at least some Neanderthal DNA handed down to us from the days when Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals interbred upon encountering one another in Europe. My Neanderthal DNA is less than 4% which is about average. I would really love for hubby to take this test because I am almost certain that his Neanderthal DNA has to be pretty close to 100%.  At least, that’s what his behavior seems to indicate at times. Hehe.


A Weird Ebay Experience

The photos of my waterlilies don't have anything to do with this post but they are colorful, aren't they? hee

The photos of my waterlilies don’t have anything to do with this post but they are colorful, aren’t they? 

I’ve been buying things on Ebay since about 2001 or so. My friends and family laugh because I have been able to score some pretty good deals over the years. I actually buy pretty much everything on Ebay mostly because it allows me to shop from home and my purchases are delivered right to my door. Can’t get more convenient than that. Also, alot of things aren’t available locally so it’s nice to be able to purchase them online.  I would say that about 99% of my Ebay purchases have been satisfactory. Last month I was browsing Ebay looking for a few things that I wanted to buy, among them a small shelf for my bathroom that I intended to paint ivory to match the mirror above the vanity. So after searching for a few days I came across a listing for one of those little vintage 70s shelves at the starting price of 99 cents plus 20 dollars for shipping. That sounded about right and it was more or less what most sellers were asking for these little shelves…..about 20 to 25 dollars shipping and all. The description said that it was chipped but I figured that was ok because I was going to paint it anyway and the chip probably wouldn’t be visible. I placed my bid and won, as nobody else bid on it. A couple of days later I get a message from the seller informing me that she (I’m fairly certain it’s a she) was unable to ship it out for the price that was listed on the auction page and seeing as how I won it for only 99 cents, could I send her X amount of additional money for shipping otherwise she would have to cancel the sale. In almost 15 years of buying on Ebay, this was a first.  So, I messaged her back and told her that no, I wasn’t willing to pay more than 20 dollars for shipping and that it wasn’t cool to cancel and refund for this reason as now I would lose money on the currency conversion (twice) because I pay with an international Paypal account and I am charged a conversion fee for every conversion into dollars or back. Next thing I know, I get another message from her this time in an unpleasant and sarcastic tone, telling me that the “math” was easy, she wasn’t making any profit from the deal, Ebay was charging her a fee and it would be stupid for her to lose money just so that I could get a “tacky shelf “. (Yes, those were her words) She accused me of not being understanding and then told me that I obviously had difficulty “doing the math” being from Florida and all.  I really have no clue what being from Florida has to do with doing math…I’m not from Florida and have never lived there, although my Ebay courier service is located in Miami and that’s where my Ebay purchases are delivered and then forwarded to me. So she must have assumed that I lived there. Whatever.

Wanvisa water lily

Wanvisa water lily

I messaged her back and in my politest tone told her that it’s not my responsibility to “do the math” because I’m not the seller. It’s actually her responsibility to calculate all her costs before posting a listing on Ebay. I told her that a business transaction was a business transaction and didn’t carry with it a responsibility for the buyer to be understanding. It is also a violation of Ebay rules for a seller to ask a buyer to send additional money on the side and that in skimming over her feedback score, I noticed that I was not the only person that she had done this to. But in any case, if she wanted to cancel the transaction then go ahead. That spurred a barrage of insults in her next message where she called me among other epithets an “entitled jerk” who was unecessarily stalking her feedback.  I ended up just ignoring her and her rants and had to wait 5 days for Paypal to issue me a refund.

Well, it was a no brainer that I was going to leave this seller  negative feedback considering all the uncalled for insults, my loss of money and her violation of Ebay rules. I thought that would be the end of that. No so.

Antares water lily

Antares water lily

When I went to leave the feedback, I noticed that she had written a lengthy comment on her Ebay profile page where she had included my Ebay seller ID, my husband’s full name that appears on our Ebay account and our Florida shipping address. I was horrified that anyone would be deranged enough to do this. She had put all this personal and confidential information in a paragraph stating that she was selling stuff on Ebay to help someone that had cancer, and that my husband HATED (she wrote that in capital letters) cancer victims. And that he liked to STEAL from cancer victims. (again in capital letters) She also admonished buyers not to be cancer victim haters like XXX XXXX (My husband’s name)  WTF?? I had no idea what she was talking about or how the subject went from a failed transaction into a supposed persecution of cancer victims but I immediately telephoned Ebay to alert them because posting personal information is a serious violation of Ebay policy and grounds for suspending the seller. They gave her 24 hours to remove it. Thankfully she did, but now she has replaced it with something about being a cancer fighter and about the “sub-human” buyer who hates people with cancer and who left her negative feedback.  Talk about lunatics.  Sadly she doesn’t seem to realize that her ridiculous rant will only scare away potential customers because it makes her sound quite deranged and it calls even more attention to the negative feedback comments (mine was not the only one)  that might otherwise not even be seen. In the end, I will just buy another shelf from one of the many pleasant and polite (and sane!)  sellers on Ebay and she will have to live with the negative feedback.

Wish I knew the name of this one

Wish I knew the name of this one

Tuscan Trip

tuscany 2

My daughter left for Italy a couple of weeks ago, this time she’s staying in Siena where she rented a delightful little second floor room from an elderly Italian lady in an old Tuscan house right across the street from her school. Italy is like her second home and she actually lived in Urbania for a time while studying Italian. She speaks it fluently but still likes to return as often as she can and take additional classes.  I kind of think the classes are just an excuse because she really spends most of her time travelling around with friends. A few days ago she sent me some pictures of her little rented room. It’s small but cozy and has quaint old world wooden shuttered windows that overlook rooftops and a nearby square.


The bathroom is a mix of old and new. They’ve tucked a full sized bathtub in a little niche underneath gorgeous old rafter beams.



I love the brass fixtures


This little carved wooden shelf holds knick-knacks and bath accessories


There’s a washing machine conveniently located in the bathroom right next to the sink, which I kind of think is a pretty good idea.


I’m somewhat intrigued by the two glasses and picnic basket on top of the washer though.  Maybe some folks enjoy having a little glass of refreshment while they wait for their laundry to be done….I’m guessing? Or maybe it’s just for decoration. Either way it’s a pretty and colorful washer top.


I’ll bet this bathroom is never stuffy with a window that opens up like this one!


I was curious about that antique metal pot on the marble window ledge. I thought it held towels and reckoned it was a cute idea. I asked my daughter about it and she said it actually holds a roll of plastic bags.


Here’s something we don’t see much here in Costa Rica, or in the United States for that matter. A bidet. They’re very common in Europe as well as in some Latin American countries. When we lived in Ecuador, every house had them.


I don’t know about the painting but I am really coveting this antique frame.



Speaking of antiques, there was a large antique flea market in Siena last Sunday which is held on the third Sunday of each month. I gave my daughter a list of things to look out for, the most important being antique silver ex-votos. Italy is the best place to shop for religious art. I was counting the days til the flea market and I anxiously questioned her about it Sunday evening and as it turns out, she didn’t go! She went to visit friends in Bologna instead. Go figure.  Only a 20-something-year-old would forgo a flea market full of antiques and treasures waiting to be discovered and opt for a day trip to a nearby town instead. Arrrghh. In an attempt to pacify me, she did ask at a nearby Catholic shop where they indeed had some beautiful ex-votos but of course they cost five times as much. And they weren’t antiques. Or even silver.


The rest of the time that she’s not in class or on day trips visiting friends, she’s at the local ice cream shop enjoying one of these award winning treats. Too bad she can’t bring one back!


Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage 

Bedroom Evolution


A couple of weeks ago I was looking through some files on my desktop computer and was pleasantly surprised to find several folders of old pictures that I didn’t even remember I had. Among the things I found were some photos of the main bedroom up at the mountain house in various stages of completion starting from the time we purchased the half finished house back in 2012 to other more recent pictures that I snapped at the beginning of this year which show the bedroom in it’s present state after various tweaks and changes. It’s amazing just how much junk  cool stuff one can accumulate in such a short period of time. I think I must have started snapping pictures from the moment we purchased the house because there are several photos that were taken before the bedroom walls were even completed and the entire room was still at the mercy of the howling wind and frequent thunderstorms. I remember being relieved when all the walls were finally done.


Not that it made a whole lot of difference though because the windows were not installed until much later so the room was still very drafty. So much so, that I ended up reducing the size of the windows that had been drawn in the original floorplan because they really did make the room too cold and houses don’t have heating systems here. The lack of central heating is usually not a problem because it’s pretty warm in most parts of this country, heaters aren’t often necessary. But in higher altitudes it can get quite nippy especially at night, so some folks do have portable heaters just in case.


Once the construction work was done, I dusted the cobwebs off a hand carved Louis XV bed and matching dresser which we had purchased many years ago in Ecuador for the guest bedroom.  They had been in storage gathering dust after we moved to Costa Rica.


The white lace curtains were also taken out of their plastic storage bags (finally!!) and hung. My mother had purchased them for me in England when she lived in Europe in the 1980s but she had bought me so many that there were some that I had never even used. Finally I had enough windows for all of them after all these years!  Other lacy panels in different designs were hung in the downstairs bedrooms.


The two inexpensive little wooden tables that serve as nightstands were eventually painted yellow. Those were purchased locally.


The small window above the bed had originally been a floor to ceiling window and it was one of the ones that I decided to reduce in size. That left a sort of awkward niche in that wall that was just large enough to fit the headboard in to. I don’t really like that niche but I figure it could have been worse.


I eventually added an antique Persian carpet which is a deliciously warm treat when the tile floors get too cold. The Capodimonte wash stand in the corner was another gift from mom and was purchased in Italy years ago.


Several left over fringed scarves from Egypt and beaded shawls from India were also unpacked and now do double duty as window treatments. I hated to see them packed away and was glad to find a use for them. One can never have too much fringe or bling, I say.


Last year I decided that the all white walls needed a little bit of color. I actually like white…I like it for about a week and then I become so bored with it that I could scream. So I painted the niche behind the bed in what I thought was a soft pastel aqua shade. At least that’s how it looked in the can, but once it was on the wall it was a different story. It was more like Easter egg blue, which is great on eggs but it was hideous on the wall. I hated it from the moment I applied the final brushstroke. I was only able to live with it for a short time before I had to repaint it in something less loud. Yellow turned out to be a much better choice.


And so I figured I was pretty much done but now all these months later the bedroom is about to go through yet one more metamorphosis. I’m currently in the process of re-painting an old bedroom set that used to be in my daughter’s room at our city house. It’s a beautiful solid wood set that was also purchased in Ecuador years ago. Now that we have recently remodeled our city house and one of my daughters has moved to her own place I’ve ended up with a bunch of extra bedroom furniture. I briefly considered selling it or putting it in storage but I think it will actually be a better fit up at the mountain house. It’s actually quite a nice bedroom ensemble which just needs a bit of TLC.  Problem is…I’m painting it white, go figure.  Ah well. I’ll guess I’ll just have to wait and see how long it’ll be before it gets repainted once more.


Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Joining Show And Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Surprise Tomatoes


A humble little tomato plant sprang up among my Amaryllis bulbs recently. I have no clue who planted it, I know I sure didn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised when I spied the little plant last month even though I was doubtful as to whether it would set fruit or not. But set fruit it did! I’ve counted 35 tomatoes so far and they’re still coming.


My courtyard at our city house has red brick pavers set on the ground and there are only a few small patches of soil where I have plants that will tolerate alot of rainfall. The rest of the courtyard plants are in pots. A couple of months ago I had to enclose the area around my Amaryllis bulbs with garden mesh because my kitties insisted on using it as a litter box. The mesh effectively stopped them from going in there anymore, but I have the feeling that that’s why that lone tomato plant is now going overboard with the tomato production. It had lots of  kitty fertilizer. I also kind of have the feeling that that’s how the seed got in there in the first place. Ewwww.


Today when I went to pick a few of the tomatoes that had ripened I discovered that a large green spider had woven a beautiful web right in front of the two largest, ripest ones. I didn’t have the heart to disturb him. He seemed so watchful, holding perfectly still just waiting for his lunch to fly by. So I left those two tomatoes for another day.


I did get some nice plump ripe ones from a neighbouring branch, which  quickly became part of a delicious spaghetti sauce.


Crazy Creepy Crawlies

CIMG8597 (1024x768)

This is the craziest thing ever. I woke up this morning and found this on my porch up at the mountain house. At first I thought it was dog poop and silently cursed the dog who dared leave his calling card on my porch.  But then I noticed it was moving so I went outside to get a closer look and realized that it was dozens of centipedes!  They reminded me of beached whales and I wondered what in the world they were doing all piled up on top of each other, sometimes holding perfectly still and other times waving their legs around as if in a frenzy.  Apparently they do this during the rainy season. They all pile up and they move as one body. When they want to move from one place to another they ALL go, sort of like leap frog. The ones in the back walk over the ones in the front and move to the front of the pile. Then the ones who are left in the back do the same thing. This is how they move around and they never separate from the pile.

CIMG8598 (1024x768)

There was another mound of centipedes very near to the first mound that was on my porch. By noon, these guys had dispersed but the ones on the porch had moved forward about three yards. It took them over four hours to cover that distance as a group, whereas if they’d just walked individually it would only have taken them a few seconds. Amazing.

Mardi Gras Bead Ceiling Lamp

ceiling lamp

Since the day I brought home a brass plated lamp with gray glass inserts about 25 years ago I’ve had to hear hubby’s snarky comments about how ugly it was. I originally bought it for our bedroom and it hung there for a time, but over the years it changed places until it finally ended up in my daughter’s bedroom.  I honestly didn’t think the lamp was all that bad but I decided to give it a make over of some kind because it had begun to look boring and outdated. I had purchased some Mardi Gras beads some time ago to make an outdoor chandelier for the garden but I bought too many of them and I had dozens left over. Since this lamp was in my daughter’s room, it didn’t have to be formal or serious looking.  Whimsical would do just fine and would also fit quite well with her decor. Or lack of it.  Mercifully, she likes just about anything and rarely complains which is why the lamp was in there in the first place.

So here’s what I started out with. The first thing I did was to remove all the gray glass inserts.


I had about a million Mardi Gras beads. Well okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but there were alot of them.


I wrapped the arms of the lamp in beads first of all. I used a hot glue gun to glue the strands in place and I just dabbed glue randomly as I wrapped. My burnt fingertips can attest to it.


The lightbulb sockets were beaded next



I briefly thought of re-installing the glass inserts but that was the part that hubby disliked most. I think he had an aversion to the mouse gray color which had at one time matched our mouse gray carpet. So I made new inserts out of parchment paper.  I have to admit that they were a real pain in the neck to glue into place because the parchment wouldn’t conform to the curve of the metal frame and it would end up looking warped. I had to re-glue them several times before I got the hang of it. Sort of.



Pay no attention to that deep fryer lurking in the background. I never eat fried foods. Cross my heart.


Almost done!



I hope that with this make-over hubby’s criticism of my taste in lamps right will be nipped in the bud once and for all.

BeFunky_Ceiling lamp 2.jpg




Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage