Mad Cat Capsule: Thinking About Fall

I’ve actually been thinking about my next capsule for some time. I have my inspiration piece and I’m excited to get started. I’m trying to pace myself this season, though. Usually at this point in the month before changing over my capsule, I’d already be wearing new items of the next capsule.

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But I’m taking a different tactic this quarter. I’ve gathered quite a few pieces but I’m pointedly putting them aside and savoring thinking bout what my Fall Capsule will look like.

What I am doing is paring down what’s in my current capsule. I have already started to take out all the items from Summer (July, August Sept) that I haven’t been wearing as much, or that I’m ready to stop wearing.

It’s a nice time in the capsule process to work with an even smaller closet of clothes. The excitement of the clothes I can revisit in my new capsule is always so fun! I love knowing that I’ll get rid of even more clothing when I go thru everything in storage.

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The anticipation for the next capsule isn’t always my favorite part, but this quarter it is! What’s your favorite part of building a new capsule? Does your favorite part change?

Something New: Hand Poked Tattoos

Disclaimer: This is not a tutorial. I am not a professional tattooer, and I am not giving anyone advice or guidance on this subject. I am only relaying my own experience and documenting my own journey.  

Two years ago I decided that I really wanted to learn how to do stick and poke tattoos.

Stick and Poke is a method of tattooing where one uses a tattoo needle to manually imbue ink into the skin with no tattoo gun or electricity. Stick and poke, or hand poked tattoos, are pretty trendy right now, but it is also an ancient tradition practiced by many cultures around the world. 

To start, I did a ton of research into this craft. I watched videos and read articles, as one should do when their goal is to poke permanent art into another's (or their own) skin. Eventually, I decided I just had to try it, so I invested in a few supplies (some research showed that many can be bought off tattoo websites or amazon) and started practicing. My research showed that practicing on fruits, pig skins, or fake human skins were the most common methods. I chose fruit. After a few months of practice on oranges, I decided it was time to test it out upon myself. 

 I remain super pleased with how my first tattoo came out!

I remain super pleased with how my first tattoo came out!

Since I have several tattoos, I knew sort of what to expect. I had never gotten a hand poked tattoo before, and they are a bit different that machine tattoos, but nothing drastically different in method or pain level. It is much slower, which is why the designs tend to be more simple and the colors less.  

So far, my journey has been very slow going, and each year, I make it a goal to try and do more. After my first tattoo on myself, I did two more on my husband and one on my BFF.  I have plans with a friend starting her own hand poked journey to have a poke party soon, and I'm excited for it! 

As with many of my goals, I'm talking about it here to have a record of it, give myself inspiration and hold myself accountable. I love this space to be able to look back and check how I'm progressing on the things I want to accomplish. 

I'm really excited to hear what people what me to put on them with hand poking! My next steps are to start thinking of ideas and working up sketches. I've tried sketching them before, and it's been in my goals many times, but I hope having an end game makes me stick with it!

 The first tattoo I made on my husband and the my second tattoo ever. 

The first tattoo I made on my husband and the my second tattoo ever. 

Do any readers have hand poked tattoos? What has been your experience with them?

Mad Cat Market

Since I have renewed my love of thrifting, I wanted to have an avenue to pass on some of my favorite finds. A great thing about thifting is that I find a lot of amazing peices of clothing, homewares, and unique items, but the downside is that I can't keep them all. So, welcome to the official launch of Mad Cat Market, an online shop to share my thrifting finds with everyone!

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I view thrifting as a way of saving items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  Things I love to "save" are made of natural materials, are vintage, hand made, or unique. My favorite clothes to thrift are made from cotton, linen, silk, tencel, or other natural fibers. Sometimes I have to pick up a synthetic fiber bc the item is so awesome! For homewares I like porcelain, wood, stoneware, embroidery, wicker, etc... 

One of my goals is to pass along these saved treasures at a reasonable rate. I want these items to be loved as much as I might love them if I could keep them all. I'm using an existing Big Cartel shop and keeping it at the lowest plan, which dictates that my collections are kept pretty small but means I can pass the savings on to the buyers! Each is hand picked and curated and I hope that the shoppers like them!

I also invite everyone to visit the Mad Cat Market instagram. I plan on posting sneak peaks, sales, and inspiration there!

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The current collection is a mix of Summer and Fall transition pieces in a range of sizes and styles. 

I'd love to hear what people like or want to see or see more of! I'd love this space to also become a place where people can let me know what items them might be seeking and a conversation about thrifting and sustainable shopping. This is a new experience for me, so I'm thankful for people bearing with me while I work out the kinks and the mission of this shop! Thanks for checking out the new shop!!

Off Season: gARTen, Asbury Park

On the main street (but not Main Street) of our town, tucked in a lot, beyond a fence, besides an ice cream shop, it the gARTen. Truth be told, I don't know too much about it but I think it's an amazing thing to have in one's town!! I'm not sure who is behind this amazing open air junk art gallery display but I salute them! 

This garden isn't open all the time, I don't know the hours, but that almost makes it more magical. You'll be walking along and see that it's open and pop in as an unexpected treat! The garden is always different, pieces added, pieces missing, and constantly in a state of entropy. At night, it's illuminated by blacklight!

I love that someone (or several someone) is creating these objects and I love that they are made from trash that might otherwise end up in the landfill or even worse in the ocean and on the beach, just a few blocks away. 

The other day my husband mentioned that he read that this art project was in danger so we decided to head over and check it out. Hopefully it won't be for the last time. 

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This art project reminds me a lot of my childhood and early education. Being homeschooled and then going to an alternative education school, we were always making the most of the supplies we had and making things out of "junk".  

We are so lucky to have a an art space like this in our town. These unique spaces should thrive in young cities like ours. We should work to preserve them!

Do you have a unique place like this in your town or city?

August in Review

Phew, is it just me or is time actually moving faster???

August was hot and fast and hard and fun and good. 
Somehow, whether I want to or not, I end up taking a Summer break in Aug. The pace of life is just so frenetic, something has to give and a this blog, or some of my creative outlets are usually what has to be suspended. We got so much done this month, professionally and personally,  and I'm happy with where I am. Overall, August was a good month.

 1) There were a lot of hot Summer #watchercats this month. This one was hanging out on Comstock Street. 2) Not a #watchercat but a watching cat none the less. 3) My own baby, watching. 4) Air conditioned on 2nd Ave. 

1) There were a lot of hot Summer #watchercats this month. This one was hanging out on Comstock Street. 2) Not a #watchercat but a watching cat none the less. 3) My own baby, watching. 4) Air conditioned on 2nd Ave. 

 1) My mom and I saw these sunnies on one of our Wednesday lunch dates. 2) Speaking of my mother, she gave me a clipping of her abundant clematis but this is the first year it's really grown wild! 3) We went monarch hunting and we only found this sweet fellow. 4) Between heat waves, August had rain. 

1) My mom and I saw these sunnies on one of our Wednesday lunch dates. 2) Speaking of my mother, she gave me a clipping of her abundant clematis but this is the first year it's really grown wild! 3) We went monarch hunting and we only found this sweet fellow. 4) Between heat waves, August had rain. 

Although August went at a breakneck speed, I feel like I got a lot done and learned a lot. But now I need a rest. I'm exceedingly excited for Sept, and for Local's Summer. Let's see how it goes. 

Making Habits

A lot of people talk about habits. Habits of Successful People. Habits of Productive People. Habits of Healthy People. I want to be those things! 

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There's also a lot of research and documentation of how to build habits and how to stick with them, and probably most of it is great. I haven't really delved into any of that. I'm sure it would be helpful, but I also think a good way to form a habit is to do them and keep doing them, until they becomes so. We'll see how well that works. 

This Summer I have been on a journey to create some of the habits I hope to adopt. Perhaps my busy season, the high season in the town where I live, my husbands busy season, is not the best time to try making strides in this direction. Despite that fact, I have made strides. For the rest of the year, I plan to work more seriously and devote more mental energy on building new habits. 

I often have so many thoughts or ideas that it helps me to write them down. I love to use this space for things like that. So, here are just some habits I hope to create:

-Morning walks -  This is an old habit that I want to get back into. The Summer saw some progress here but the resent heat waves have driven to indoors. 
-Cleaning routines - There are many that I want to adopt on a more habitual basis. The list is too long to write out here.
-Stretching and exercise - This has been on my list forever. I am not getting any younger and I want to be active, limber, and healthy well into old age. I better get started!
-Morning pages - By all accounts this is a great practice for the mind. It helps stress, creativity, writing skills, dexterity. 
-Work regularly on side hustles - I have a lot of plans, but to make them happen is going to take regular routines, better start making some habits to make that work.   

How do you create habits? What habits do you want to adopt in the next few months? Leave a list in the comments to inspire the rest of us!

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August Plant Update

August was summer's bounty and did not disappoint. So many flowers, fruits, storms, veggies, and sun!! We've gotten to go to the beach, parks, and explore our own backyard. 

 Summer storms.

Summer storms.

 Butterfly bush.

Butterfly bush.

 On our butterfly trek we saw thee delicate flowers. Anyone know what they are?

On our butterfly trek we saw thee delicate flowers. Anyone know what they are?

 No filter!! Bright bright orange!

No filter!! Bright bright orange!

 All the sun flowers. 

All the sun flowers. 

 Found one!

Found one!

 Huge mushroom!!

Huge mushroom!!

The mushrooms near us have been bananas! We have seen so many huge mushrooms making huge fairy rings. Have you had a lot of mushrooms where you live?

What were your plant observations this month?

On Not Being in Vermont

Can you be homesick for a place you never lived? 

My mother and I had vacationed in the same part of Vermont for 17 - 20 Summers (after that amount of time, one losses track!). We spent almost a month there year after year until about 7 or 8 years ago. Bc of work, and wanting to save to buy a house, we decided not to go. It was a tough choice to break the tradition. If we hadn't made that choice, I'd be in Vermont right now. 

Every year, leading up to August, I think more and more about Vermont. I can't completely describe why it's such a special place. It's more than a place to me, in fact, but a symbol of a way of life that I strive for. Vermont to me embodies slow, simple lifestyle, no waste mentality, fresh food resources, community reliance, and a balance between nature, industry, and a peaceful life. 

Obviously that's just want it embodies, to me, not what it actually is. But it is a state that strives to keep big box stores out, to value different and alternative lifestyles, renewable energies, farming, clean living, and statewide community. 

While thinking about it this year, I want my nostalgia to motivate me towards my evolving lifestyle. For the end of August, I'll be meditating on what I want my life to look like for the end of this year, what I want my life to look like going forward, and what that means for this blog space. My time in Vermont will be an inspiration for me.  

Hopefully getting back to Vermont will be part of our near future, but for now, I can use my memories to motivate my present!  

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Is there a place that inspires your day to day? Where is your home away from home?

In Search of Milkweed

We are already thinking about and planning our next year's garden. One big focus we have is attracting more pollinators! We are starting to gather seeds from friends, buying them off the internet, and seeking them out around where we live. 

We recently set out to find some milkweed near us. It was too early for us to gather seeds, but we had fun spotting the plant! We plan to go back later in the Summer or early Fall to see if we can view more butterflies!

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 Monarch caterpillar!

Monarch caterpillar!

 Snail on snail!

Snail on snail!

 Cicada!

Cicada!

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What are some of your favorite pollinator attractors? Is anyone else planning their 2019 garden?

Plastic Free July Wrap Up: Plastic Audit

Now that I have gone all the way through my second Plastic Free July, let's take a look back at what my goals were and how I carried them out!

- Audit my trash for the month of July. I have done this before while I was starting out along my ZW journey, and I do it every once in a while to see where I'm at. This month, I plan to mostly audit our recycling. 
I kept all my plastic trash separate this month, even items that can be recycled. I also brought plastic waste that was generated outside the house, home with me. It came out to one full paper grocery bag for the whole month. 
The biggest plastic waste I had this month were items that I already had but cleaned up and had to throw away or recycle. This contained several recyclable plastic containers, like berry boxes and a flax milk box. There were also a few reusable containers that cracked or broke and I could recycle. We ate out in July and even if we asked we sometimes got condiment containers. We also had a food in a paper boat, but it had a plastic lining. We choose to get milkshake from a place with paper cups, but they changed from waxed to plastic lined so those were waste. 
The items I had the most of when I went back through the bag were plastic bags!! Not grocery bags, of course, but some berry bags, cat litter bags, chip bags, bird seed bags, cheese plastic, etc ... These will all get recycled at a local drop off point. 

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 I HATE fruit stickers. 

I HATE fruit stickers. 

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 We also had a few pens, we are working through allllll the pens we have so we don't buy new. And we went through a weedwacker wire. Is there a none plastic alternative for this?

We also had a few pens, we are working through allllll the pens we have so we don't buy new. And we went through a weedwacker wire. Is there a none plastic alternative for this?

- Take the time to recycle the items that are difficult to recycle. We are donating clothes, dropping off our electronics, bringing our plastic bags to drop off centers, and other annoying tasks this month. We still accumulate some of these items, so disposing of them properly is super important. 
We did so well with this goal! We recycled plastic bags, electronics, dropped off clothes for donation and books to the library! It felt great to send these items to their proper places and get them out of our house!

- Focus on building our garden for this year and years to come! We recently (finally) planted our front bed and now we are hooked! We cannot wait to create more avenues for us to grow our own food and rely less on conventional, and often plastic packed, fruit and veg. 
Our garden is going nuts! One of our favorite things to eat in the summer is cherry and grape tomatoes but we don't eat them often bc they are hard to find without plastic. This Summer, bc or our garden, we are tomato rich!! It's felt amazing to grow our own food this July and we can't wait to garden more and more! 

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- Utilize local farmer's markets! Summer is the best time for fresh fruits and veggies and I want to eat them all! The farmer's market is a great to get them, plastic free!
Partly bc we have grown our own food, we didn't got to the farmers markets too much in July. But we did have a few great visit to get corn and other Summer goodies. 

- Continue to refuse disposable plastics like straws, plastic bags, plastic cups and coffee cups, single use plastic containers, etc... and get better at it!! The more you practice, the easier it becomes!
We did a great job with this in July! Re refused like crazy and made strides to not accept plastic that sometimes slips thru the cracks. We also went out of our comfort zone and got many items in our own containers!

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- Preach! Mostly, I try not to be too preachy about my Zero Waste journey, but PFJ is the perfect time to let people know about the horrors of disposable plastics, give them some insight into my lifestyle and ideals, and to hopefully spark them to think to these ideas!
I think I did more of this this month. And it was good!! We have a few restaurants who know us and ask us questions and help us out. I also talked about my drive for a plastic free lifestyle with family and friends. I posted stories and instas and talked to a lot of people on social media!

Overall, I'm sure happy with Plastic Free July. It wasn't entirely plastic free, but it was a great eye opener and a great step forward!

How was your Plastic Free July? Share your triumphs and fails in the comments!

Bullet Journal Check In: August - A Look Back at Full Pages

It's been a minute since we checked in with my Bullet Journal. I still use it every day and it still helps me feel balanced and productive. My BuJo is not that pretty. I have a minimalist style but my journal is very functional so I don't often take the time to make it look perfect. 

One thing I love about migrating and starting a new month is to look back at completed pages, and trackers! When I did my August monthly spread, I looked back at some full calendar pages, and the first pages of each month.  This journal started this May so I have a few month to look back on. 

 Fabriano grid notebooks are my favorite notebooks to use for bullet journalling so far. The covers of my journals always et super ugly and dirty! I put my coffee cup and my breakfast on them a lot of days. 

Fabriano grid notebooks are my favorite notebooks to use for bullet journalling so far. The covers of my journals always et super ugly and dirty! I put my coffee cup and my breakfast on them a lot of days. 

 The first few pages of my journals are always my index, it was nice that this page was all full by August. I always find stickers and usually stick them in my BuJo. 

The first few pages of my journals are always my index, it was nice that this page was all full by August. I always find stickers and usually stick them in my BuJo. 

 The first page of each month is a monthly calendar overview and my task lists. Here I'll show two months so you can see how I migrate over, or repeat tasks month to month.  

The first page of each month is a monthly calendar overview and my task lists. Here I'll show two months so you can see how I migrate over, or repeat tasks month to month.  

 Both these months were pretty busy and I love looking back and seeing how full they look!

Both these months were pretty busy and I love looking back and seeing how full they look!

One of the joys of bullet journalling is full pages, crossing things off and migrating things to the next month. My journal is never that pretty, I use different pens and it can be messy, I put my coffee cup on it and it gets stains. But I still love the way it looks and find full pages super satisfying! 

If you have full Bullet Journal pages that you love, share them!

July In Review

July went by in a flash. Summer has been mostly mild which might be part of the reason this month felt so easy and went so fast. We did a ton this month, too, so that might be it also!

Tom, our oldest cat, had surgery this month, and he's recovering really well!
We gardened a ton, and ate our harvests!
We visited some new spots in NJ (like the Bear Creek Herbary) and some old spots that we love!
Our friends who only love here in the Summer came back and we had walks, talks, and BBQs!
We went to the beach, took morning walks, and explored our neighborhood!
We spent time with family, exploring, eating and enjoying Summer days and nights. 

 1) Tom and out new chair. 2) Tiny mushrooms that like the shade of our kale. 3) We love this fashionable dill loving caterpillars from our friends garden. 4) A lop to visit. 

1) Tom and out new chair. 2) Tiny mushrooms that like the shade of our kale. 3) We love this fashionable dill loving caterpillars from our friends garden. 4) A lop to visit. 

We saw so many critters this month. We took care of cats, garden, and house. 

 1) Sunset at the Lake with my father. 2) New cat in town. 3) Where is this mini car going and can I go too? 4) Asbury Park does the fourth right. 

1) Sunset at the Lake with my father. 2) New cat in town. 3) Where is this mini car going and can I go too? 4) Asbury Park does the fourth right. 

We saw rain and heat, cool lakes, and cool cars. Pinks, whites, reds of all shades and purple! 

 1) I still want my echinacea tattoo and every Summer is a reminder. 2) I'm smoothie bowl crazed again. 3) Purple at the beach... and 4) a rainbow of tomatoes. 

1) I still want my echinacea tattoo and every Summer is a reminder. 2) I'm smoothie bowl crazed again. 3) Purple at the beach... and 4) a rainbow of tomatoes. 

#watchercats were out in July! I tend to see them earlier in the day or at evening time. In the heat of the day, where do they go?

 1) Almost hidden on Third Ave. 2) A bunny at the bookshop. 3) Chilling at 1104. 4) #watcherdog is watching you. 

1) Almost hidden on Third Ave. 2) A bunny at the bookshop. 3) Chilling at 1104. 4) #watcherdog is watching you. 

Normally in July and August I tend to take a break from the blog, but since I had an unexpected hiatus early this year, and bc I have been so passionate about my content, I have not felt that Summer slump this year. It might seems like something small but I'm so excited about it!

How are you feeling half way thru Summer (or Winter if that's where you are)? July was a breeze. August, how will your winds blow?

Recently Thrifted

Since returning to thrifting, I've tried to not buy too much, not buy things I wouldn't need and use. But the problem with thrifting is that you find so much good stuff! It's really hard to limit myself when I see things that I want to "save". Here are a few recent finds:

I'm not sure what I will use this wooden tray for, but I couldn't leave it behind. 

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Thrifting is great for feeding my love for vintage, collections, and vintage collections! I have a deep love for sheets and bedding from the 60s and 70s. I'n not sure what it is about the cool feel and classic patterns (usually floral) of these that make them irresistible. 

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Lastly, I found an amazing hand knit, square, neck sweater in a confetti of colors. I have been really excited to find hand made items over the last few months. There's something amazing about finding a hand made item and giving it new life. I can't wait to wear this in cooler weather and already have an idea that this might be the color inspiration for my Fall 2018 capsule wardrobe. 

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Knowing that items like vintage sheets, once loved hand made pieces, or interesting homewares, will one day be gone, replaced by cookie cutter, cheaply made, unmindfully or inhumanely mass produced, pre-garbage (kipple, if you will), makes thrifting seem like it an important part of the low impact movement and my low waste lifestyle.   

I've even been toying with the idea of a pop up shop, or online store or something fun to share my thrift finds with the world. Do any reader have online shops? Would anyone be interested in purchasing curated second hand items? Comment below!

So You Forgot Your Plastic Free Kit...

What do you do?!

First off, don't panic. You can still minimize your waste and the most important step is to just be mindful. Because I still often forget my kit, I have some experience in figuring out what to do with out it. 

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Go Without!
First and foremost if I forget my kit, I'll often just not do things that would generate plastic. Sometimes this means not using/eating/drinking/buying whatever it is, but more often, it's just setting aside the idea of the most convenient method. 
Example: If I'm thirsty but don't have my cup, I might choose to get water from a water fountain or coffee in a "for here" cup.

Eat In
Take away is convenient, but if I don't have the plastic free means to take it with me, I might choose to eat in so I don't have to use disposables.  

Eat it All
If I know I don't have a container to bring home my left overs, or compost, I try to think about it before I eat. I'll choose to eat a little less so as not to need a to-go container or doggy bag. 

Foil and Paper
When my eyes are still bigger than my stomach and I do end up having left overs, or when I need something at the store, but don't have my bags, I choose paper or aluminum foil instead of plastic or styrofoam. Choosing a more sustainable, recyclable, or compostable option is better than nothing. 
Example: If I choose to shop but don't have a reusable bag for bulk items, most grocery shops have a paper bag you can use. If you can't find one in the bakery section, ask someone at check out. Same goes for packing up my groceries for transport. At the diner, I'll ask for just a piece of foil rather than getting the bigger more wasteful option. Foil can be cleaned, reused and recycled, paper bags can be reused or put in the compost.  

Choose No Bag
More often than not, I'll just go without a bag if I forget one. We've carried entire grocery orders home in our hands if we forget our bags. You can't do this all the time, but if it's an option, I'll consider it!!

And sometimes, there's nothing you can do, you have to use a plastic cup, fork, portion container, etc... so if all else fails:

Bring it Home
If I have to get a disposable plastic item, even though I tried my hardest not to, I bring it home and reuse or recycle it. I have often been out and been served a plastic fork, despite having brought my own reusable one. I will save that fork, leave it in my bag, car or jacket pocket and reuse it another time. This has come in handy more times than I can count. I still feel bad about having to dispose of it eventually, but at least I know that it got a little more use. 
Example: Reuse plastic cups, flatware, etc... Recycle portion cups, and other disposables at home so you know where they end up, compost napkins, wooden chopsticks, and other single use non plastic items, too!

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Plastic is everywhere and it's really hard to try not to use it. The most important thing is to be mindful of the choices you make and put aside your own convenience. Start where you are and do what you can. Maybe your Plastic Free Kit is just getting started, so you have to use a plastic fork. If you choose to carry that fork in your kit for a while, hooray! Maybe your kit is extensive, but you left it at home, it happens! Maybe you asked for a glass but your drink still came in plastic, oh well, you tried! It's important to remember to learn from these incidents and try for better next time. 

Hopefully these tips will help and inspire those starting on a plastic free journey!
Do you have tips for getting started? Share them below!

July Plant Update

We've been having such a mild Summer, but in July we've seen some very hot days so far. The plants liked it and it was a great month for plant observations. Flowers were prominent but the real stars of July were all the critters!

 Our local garden center is a favorite spot to visit for Summer blooms. 

Our local garden center is a favorite spot to visit for Summer blooms. 

 I love clematis! So pretty!

I love clematis! So pretty!

 Squirrel butt!

Squirrel butt!

 Can anyone tell me what kind of caterpillar this is?

Can anyone tell me what kind of caterpillar this is?

 This bee is doing all the good work in our garden!

This bee is doing all the good work in our garden!

 June bug. 

June bug. 

 Tomato horn worm. 

Tomato horn worm. 

 Police station bunny. 

Police station bunny. 

 Serious tenant #watchercat. 

Serious tenant #watchercat. 

 Our morning glories are finally blooming!

Our morning glories are finally blooming!

 Love these day lilies that were here before we moved in. 

Love these day lilies that were here before we moved in. 

 Our garden, mid July. I will be posting a garden tour, soon! See it in late July in my last post. 

Our garden, mid July. I will be posting a garden tour, soon! See it in late July in my last post. 

What does every else July plants look like?