Cairn Terriers


Gracie sunning on the deck

I have been proudly owned by two cairn terriers in my lifetime, over a span of 28 years, and fully expect to have the pleasure of loving at least one more.  Having recently lost our sweet girl Gracie I am still very tender-hearted, but wanted to write and expound on the attributes of these dogs, small in stature but so very big in heart.

Webster defines the cairn terrier as-

“One of the oldest of the terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognized as one of Scotland’s earliest working dogs. The breed was given the name cairn, because the breed’s function was to hunt and chase quarry between the cairns in the Scottish highlands.”

Indeed, they are known for their ability to catch rats and small rodents.  I think one of my cairns’ favorite pastimes was chasing squirrels.  Thankfully they never quite succeeded in catching one, but came awfully close on more than one occasion!  We have always had cats, but cat chasing was reserved for the “outdoor” stray cats, and not our own.  The game was certainly in the chase, because our cairns were far too gentle to ever hurt any cat.  In fact they are perfect companions for other family pets.

And as you can imagine, going after quarry in the cairns would involve digging and a willingness to go underground.  For this reason cairns excel in earth dog trials, and are listed as one of the eligible breeds to compete in these AKC events.  While my girls never competed, my first cairn Tessa could turn dirt faster than I could with my best shovel.  If I could have just taught her how to dig where I needed a garden planted…

Cairns have a rough, weather-resistant coat that comes in a variety of colors, and can include any color except white.  Many are brindles, with a variety of colors in their coat.  They are one of the few dog breeds that are said to be good for folks that have pet allergies, registering on the “low” end of the allergic scale for most people.  I can attest also to their ease in grooming.  And hey, a little dog that I can bathe in the kitchen sink is the dog for me!  They average in size from about 12-17 pounds.

By far their greatest attribute, though, is their winning personality.  They are feisty, independent, extremely intelligent, and robustly active.  They are perfect as a child’s pet, because they can handle both the roughhousing and high energy level that children naturally have.  My first cairn played with the neighborhood children for hours, chasing a ball and going down the playhouse slide with the kids.  So cute!

Both of my cairns showed an absolute fascination with fetching.  Cairns learn quickly, and once taught will fetch a ball or toy for hours, so be prepared.  They do need to be actively played with and/or walked every day due to their high energy level.  They slow down a little when older, but not much.  That said, they rest as hard as they play, and are not nervous dogs that stay constantly underfoot.

Most famous cairn ever?  No doubt the dark cairn terrier that played Toto in the 1939 movie the Wizard of Oz.  And cairns have played in many movies.  In fact here is a list of just some of the movies they have played in.  See some of these movies and their adorable pups!

So, if you are looking for a small breed dog that’s easy to keep and has the most wonderful personality, think about getting a cairn terrier.  I promise they will win you over with their scruffy charm.  And if you have any questions about these great little dogs just ask.  I will be more than happy to respond!

“Remember, it is not how much you love, but how much you are loved by others.”-Wizard of Oz, 1939

Fence Painting

Final-Paint-SamplesIt seems I have been consumed lately by yard projects.  I blame it at least partly on my husband, as he started the push last fall to improve our landscape, especially our back yard, before we are too old to comfortably complete major projects.  Last weekend I took a break from heavier work – like laying flagstone pathways – to do some faux fence painting.  I say faux because I “created” the gate I wanted with paint, over and beyond the gate that existed.

I have chosen a color palette for my revamped yard, just as you would for a room in your house.  I use my new colors for hardscape, furniture, planters, and plants.  So far I am in love with my choices, which include blue, purple, and lime green.  I also have plants that are a soft gray blue color, like the spruce and fir trees we cannot grow in Texas, but can replicate somewhat with other plantings (at least in color).  My colors are:

Glidden-Regal Purple 56RB 09/302
Behr-Laser P350-6
Behr-Big Chill 490-3

For me the color scheme was somewhat easy, as purple (like my purple irises) and blues have always been my favorite flower colors.  So I just decided to focus on those colors (with the lime for contrast/pop), and develop a plan from there.  Here is my gate before painting.  Pretty sad, and I cannot even see the rusty Texas star on the center of the gate.  It looks especially bad against the new flagstone walkway I laid a few weeks ago.

Final-FenceThe first task was to paint the fence and gate the gray-brown shade, the same as the trim on my house.  And here is the template I drew out on freezer paper for the arch in the top of the gate.  I also create my sewing patterns from freezer paper.  I taped it onto the fence and used some blue chalk, again a sewing supply, to trace out the arch pattern onto the wood.

Final-Fence-TemplateLast but not least I used a plumb line to make a straight line for the left edge of the gate, since of course our fence boards are certainly not straight!  Once my pattern was marked on the brown fence/gate, I painted the bright blue faux gate, then added my rusty Texas star back to the gate, only in its new position.  There – done!  So much cleaner!  My husband now wants me to paint our other side yard gate.

Final Gate

I intend to order some dummy black hammered metal hinges online as a final touch to the right side of the gate.  You could really use paint to create anything on your standard privacy fence.  What would you like to create?

Texas Springtime

Final-Redbud-TreeEastern Redbud Tree

The days have been speeding by, and suddenly spring is upon us.  The best sign of this is the bluebonnets that have begun to bloom with abandon.  In just a couple of weeks the hillsides here will be literally carpeted in the most lovely shade of blue.  It really is a stunning site to see, and something that we wait for yearly in central Texas!

In my own yard my 20 year old eastern redbud tree is in all it’s glory with profuse tiny fuschia pink blooms.  The fog several days ago really brought out it’s glory, only exaggerating the pink blooms against the misty sky.  What a wonderful sight!

Final-Coral-VineCoral Vine

Other plants already in bloom in my yard include my coral vine (trained as shrubs), my succulents. the pretty delicate blooms of oxalis, and the clusters of blooms on my native blackhaw viburnum.  The lambs ear plants are not blooming yet, but they are beautiful year round here, and in another couple of weeks my iris will be alive with deep purple blooms.  Those are my very favorites.  I hope you are enjoying Spring wherever you are.  What are your favorite springtime plants?




Product Photo Props


Now say that three times – real fast! But seriously, though, there is much to be said for giving some creative time to selecting the props that you use in your product photography. I am fortunate in that I don’t typically need props for my products, other than engaging my pets as models. But what do you do if you really need to “stage” your products to show them at their best?

My first suggestion is to just take a look around you.  You know your product, so look both online and in brick and mortar stores to see how your product type is displayed, and decide which models would serve you best.  Magazines are also a great source of inspiration.

Black-mannequin-DSC02490Great Jewelry Display

For example, do you sell jewelry or clothing?  Would a mannequin like the one above work well for an overall jewelry display?   For individual jewelry pieces, would a beautiful slab of stone, or a piece of tile or wood work as a backdrop for your products?  Look at products sold on Etsy.   Which photos catch your eye and make you want to purchase?  Taking great photos for online selling is essential, but before the product shots you need to gather the props.

Final-White-Fudge-NewRound White Plate, Vase, and Paper Lace Props

My daughter recently asked me to assist with some photography of her food (sweets) that she wants to sell online.  The first thing I did was search for some great props.  What a fun assignment!  I found plates, cups, silverware, and a couple of pretty little dish towels that work beautifully to help show off the fudge and other sweets she wants to sell.  I even used a very small vase and some rosemary twigs from the garden for some of the photo shoots.

Small-Fudge-Honey-400pxWhite Oval Platter and Celtic Honey Jar Props

For one set of photos I used some little vintage children’s blocks with lettering.  Search your home and what you already have on hand, or borrow items from family or friends to use as props.  The photo above has a Celtic design honey jar from Scotland that I have owned for many years.  You can find amazing things at antique shops as photo props; the little bit of nostalgia they provide for photos makes them quite charming!

Final-Food-PropsColorful Food Props

Have fun gathering!


Heart to Heart


It is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, the day of romance and love.  My husband and I, having just celebrated our 27th anniversary, spent our Saturday quietly, getting good rest after some hard work in the yard.  The photo above is of two of my irises, preparing to bloom soon.  And somehow they reminded me of the two of us, steadfast through the seasons.  While our lives may not be as exciting and fast-paced as they once were, we are both perfectly content with our slower pace and our time spent together.  We still enjoy a nice dinner out, working together on projects, and watching old classic movies on TCM.  And laughing, lots of laughing.  And while our lives might seem dull to some, we know with certainty that we will be together for the remainder of our time on this earth.  Not that it’s all been perfect; no marriage is.  But we have weathered the good and bad, the ups and downs, and like my irises continue to enjoy each new season.  Now where are those rocking chairs?