Category Archives: WildlyLived


It doesn’t matter how many times I see my writing in some sort of published form, the thrill never gets old. As I’ve been focusing on travel writing lately, I’m pleased to present a round-up of my published travel writing … Continue reading

The Second Rule of Petsitting…

The pets are always hungry.

Why is this such a problem, I hear you asking. Well, let me put it to you this way:

Sometimes, when it’s very early in the morning, and I am, say, going to the bathroom, I can hear the cats circling outside the bathroom door, meowing piteously as if they haven’t eaten in days, pacing back and forth like very small, yet no less threatening jungle cats, and I think to myself, “If I were dead right now, you’d be eating my corpse, wouldn’t you?”

Yeah. They would be.

Petsitting isn’t all fun and games, dragging a feather around the house for a cat to bat or throwing a stick for a dog to fetch. It means putting an animal’s needs before your own, so that when you wake up in the morning, you drag your bleary-eyed self over to the various cans of cat food sitting on the kitchen counter and mix up a bowl of their diet-specific meal complete with medicine, or slip on farm boots to stomp out to the coop and scoop up some grain to throw in with a handful of chicken treats, all before you sit down to your own breakfast.

These animals are unable to get this food for themselves. They’re dependent upon you for their food and water. It’s really an awesome responsibility, as in the original meaning of the word, awe-inspiring, that you, a third party, has been trusted with the care of another animal which is primarily taken care of by the first party. The trust that person must have in you, and by extension, that animal!

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In addition to feeding them first, be aware that pets have their own feeding schedule. Some households are quite lax about this – “We feed them anytime after 7 p.m.” – but some households and animals, whether for medical or emotional reasons – have a strict routine that must be adhered to. No deciding to go out for a drink after work unless you first stop at home to take care of Rover and Daisy. No sleepovers at someone else’s house unless you’ve first checked it’s okay with the owners to either bring Fido along or leave pets at home alone, and don’t forget you need to either bring their things with you or be back at home early in the morning for feeding time.

If you’re not used to considering anyone else’s needs but your own, the time commitment around meals can be a real adjustment, so make sure you understand the owner’s requirements for their pet’s mealtimes before taking on a job that won’t work with your schedule.

My First Two Weeks in New Zealand: a social media round-up

For those of you who haven’t quite gotten the hang of this website yet, it has 4 different parts:

WildlyMade – a catalogue of my photography and other art projects
WildlyRead – a blog of book reviews and other literary-related thoughts
WildlyTraveled – adventure stories

And last but not least, WildlyLived, which is sort of the one ring to rule them all. It has its own posts about my life (see the house/petsitting series I’m currently flogging blogging), and I try my hardest to do occasional round-ups of the things happening on all of the other sites, too. For instance, this is a round-up of the posts I’ve done about New Zealand in the past almost two weeks that I’ve been here.

You can also see photographs of my trip on my Instagram account or on my WildlyMade New Zealand catalogue of images.

You can also follow along on Facebook, on my new page, WildlyTraveled.

Because social media FTW.

The Second Rule of Housesitting…

The Second Rule of Housesitting

If the first rule of housesitting is that something always goes wrong, then the second rule of housesitting is that the homeowners always come home early.

It never fails – whether they’ve gotten the flight times wrong, decided to return a day early, or – horrors – you’ve gotten the day mixed up yourself, odds are, the homeowners will return not only when you least expect it, but most definitely when you’re least prepared for it.

Take, for instance, the time I was housesitting and had enjoyed a late night out. The animals were taken care of, the house was even clean, but as I got home after midnight, I kicked my heels off in the living room, slung my wrap over the back of a dining room chair, put my purse on the kitchen table, and left my dress on the bathroom floor after changing into pajamas. Normally, even in my own home I’m not this messy! But for some reason that night, I came home exhausted and didn’t take the time to be tidy. I was under the impression that the homeowners were coming back the next afternoon, so to my mind, I had the morning available to pick up after myself and throw the sheets in the wash. I had already cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and vacuumed the floors. But that was a little difficult to prove to the homeowners when they came home at some point during the wee hours of the morning! I woke up and nearly had a heart attack when I saw their luggage in the living room (next to my heels, of course). Luckily, that wasn’t the first time I housesat for this particular couple, so we had a chuckle about it later when they expressed their surprise at my uncharacteristic mess, and I vowed to never be so slovenly again.

This is how spotless I try to leave a room, after I've stayed there.

This is how spotless I try to leave a room, after I’ve stayed there.

Of course, sometimes even when you’re doing the right thing by cleaning the house, you can still get caught in the act. I was housesitting for a couple with a new baby, and decided to do a deep clean of their entire downstairs, especially the kitchen and bathroom, as a present for them before they got home. For those who don’t know, a deep clean is when you start from the top down, first cleaning top cupboard doors and handles, then removing everything from all countertops, wiping down the countertops AND washing the items that go back on them, then wiping bottom cupboard doors and knobs, then finally sweeping and mopping or vacuuming the floor. Take it from this former house cleaner – it takes a lot of work to deep clean a room. Once again, my intel had led me to believe that the family was due back mid-afternoon, so you can imagine my surprise when they walked in at 11:30 a.m.! As this occasion was pretty far into my housesitting career, I was as prepared for this situation as I could have been. I had actually just finished all of the cleaning, even the mopping, and had been in the process of taking out their garbage. I went ahead with that, then quickly shoved my remaining unpacked items into my bag and skeddadled so that they could settle back into home. But can you imagine the mess their house would have been in if I had been only halfway through that humongous project?!

The law of averages states that something will always go wrong with a housesit. If the only problem is that homeowners come back early, that’s easy enough to prepare for by making sure the house stays neat and tidy while you’re there, and that (whenever possible) you’ve finished almost all of your chores either the

night prior to or several hours before the family is due home. A little preparation can save you a heart attack, or at least a lot of embarrassment!

Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter Tea Party

birthday selfieIn August, I turned 30. I’ve known a lot of people who had/have a problem with this milestone. I am not one of those. I do feel the passage of time, and I do examine my dreams and aspirations, revise my goals, and question my decisions, but I’ve been doing that for years and will never stop, so turning another year older, even 30, wasn’t something I was too freaked out about. Instead, I decided to use my 30th birthday as an excuse to throw a themed costume party. An Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter Tea Party, to be exact.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll is one of my all-time favorite children’s classics. The other is Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Oh, I also like Louisa May Alcott’s Little Men and and Eight Cousins and Gene Stratton Porter’s A Girl of the Limberlost and Her Father’s Daughter, along with countless others, but those two hold special places in my heart because of their mix of the real and the fantastic. I love what a source of creative inspiration those two particular books are for art mediums of all kinds. I love how they blend the lines between daydreams and every day life. I love how wise and silly they are. And I like to think that I’m trying to shape my own life to reflect what I love about those two books in particular. So, for this year’s party, it was Alice. Maybe at a future date, it will be Peter.

This way.

A not-so-hidden fact about me (if you know me IRL) is that I love planning parties. A friend and I recently planned another good friend’s baby shower (Woodland Creature theme), I’ve hosted countless themed dinner parties over the years, and someday I hope to start a yearly Midsummer Night’s Dream party (once I’ve settled somewhere). Planning my own 30th birthday party began as all those others did – with a Pinterest board.


Luckily for me, I also have talented family and friends, so though we had limited time (about 3 days) in which to pull this off, with the help of my parents and my BFF, we were able to host a party where we made most of the food, all of the decorations, and entertained 20-30 people over the course of an afternoon. My mother painted the gorgeous Cheshire Cats on the cornhole boards, while my BFF made the signs directing people to the house. My father created the flower arrangements, the decorations, put the signs together, and dug holes in dirt and gravel to place them along the roadway. I live on a long, curving, forested country road, and so we had three of these signs along the way at points where people tend to get lost.

Knock, Knock, Motherf*cker.

Knock, Knock, Motherf*cker.

Those flamingos are a gift to myself that keeps on giving, btw, as I’ve already used them to prank friends twice since the party.

Enjoy the party photos, and a HUGE thank you to all of my friends and family who made the day so special!