A while back, I wrote here about how I thought it would be cool to start taking photos of wildlife. In particular, I was considering the use of trail cameras, so I could capture images of them without disturbing their environment too much.

desert landscapeWell, I got sidetracked, as I often do, and never really followed through with that plan. The other day, though, I came across a related idea that I had not considered before: shooting video with dslr.

Most of us, I’m guessing, are familiar with digital SLR cameras, the heir of the 35mm film cameras used by professional and avid hobby photographers. What I didn’t realize is that you can create high-quality movies with them, as well. In fact, many independent film makers use DSLR’s for much, if not all of their work.

This struck me as really cool, and probably a more enjoyable way to scratch my photography itch than just putting up automated cameras to take pictures out in the desert. Of course, it will likely make getting photos of coyotes or other animals more difficult, but I’m sure I can find any number of other neat subject to immortalize with my (yet-to-be-purchased) DSLR.

If you are at all acquainted with the American Southwest, my home, you’ll know that the landscape is chock a block with stunning vistas. While it might seem like this would not be a great subject for filming, adding the frequent weather changes could lead to some very interesting shots.

Obviously, I’ll be starting from scratch with all of this, so my research will extend beyond finding a good camera for the purpose and into learning effective video techniques.

In any case, I’m more optimistic that I’ll stick with this new interest, and will try to keep you posted on my progress!

As I’m sure you gathered from my last post, I am interested in trying to stay fit and healthy, and my relatively tiny abode doesn’t necessarily make that very easy.

Besides exploring fitness equipment possibilities, I’ve also been thinking about the air quality in my apartment. With only a couple of windows on the same side of the building, it’s proven difficult to create effective air flow, and of course, I’m not too keen on opening them when it’s 100 degrees outside!

With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about buying an air purifying machine. I’m hoping to find a small one that will I can squeeze into a space in my home, yet will still do the job.

As soon as I started doing some research, I immediately came across HEPA filters. Here’s a video that explains what they are and why they’re worthwhile:

If you want to really want to dig deeper on what makes HEPA so effective, check out this story on the CNET site. I thought it explained the science behind the technology very effectively, and help persuade me that they are the way to go.

In addition, I a nice little article on Good Housekeeping that provides many tips on selecting an air purifier. The author’s recommendation to stay clear of ozone-generating devices (the ones that use an electrostatic charge to extract dust from the air) was a genuine revelation to me. Apparently, the ozone these machines produce is actually a lung irritant! Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

Finally, I landed on the Consumer Reports website, which went into even greater detail on what I should consider when picking out an air purifier. Additional points they cover are operating costs, maintenance requirements (i.e., changing filters), and noise. That last one is a biggie for me, as I don’t want this thing making a racket when I’m trying to relax.

At this stage, I believe I’m ready to head over to that online mega-retailer (the one that has an “A” and a “Z” in its name!), check out some actual customer reviews and pricing, and make a decision. In the meantime, if you’re considering buying an air purifier, as well, check out some of the resources I listed here. Thanks for reading!

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the bigger challenges I have with my living quarters is space. This was one of the reasons why I didn’t opt for a stand mixer for my kitchen: there’s just no place to keep the thing when I’m not using it.

row boatOn the other hand, as I’ve also mentioned, I rather like to keep myself to myself. As a result, my small apartment is normally not much of an issue for me.

Lately, though, I’ve been thinking more about trying to get more exercise. I do like a good, long walk, but in this desert country, there are many days when being out under the blistering sun just isn’t a good idea.

This problem has me pondering the idea of buying a piece of fitness equipment for my home. As with the mixer, though, the space problem rears its ugly head. Whatever I buy has to have a relatively small footprint.

After considering a number of different types, I’m starting to lean towards a compact rower. These come in a variety of styles, and many fit into my budget well enough. They also fold up and store in several different ways. Most fold vertically, so they take up less floor space, while a few actually collapse low enough to slide under a bed.

I know what you’re thinking: if she can’t find room for a countertop kitchen appliance, where the heck is she going to keep a rowing machine? Well, the truth is, all I typically use my bedroom for is sleeping and dressing, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to find a corner suitable for storing the equipment when I’m not exercising.

So, the next step was to learn more about how to select the best rower for my needs. I found a great article on the site WorkoutTrends.com that provided some excellent tips.

For example, I hadn’t realized that there are different technologies used to create resistance in these machines, thus simulating the effort it would take to actually move an oar through water if you were rowing an actual boat. The article does a great job of listing the pros and cons of air, magnetic and hydraulic resistance machines, which should help me narrow down my options pretty quickly.

Overall, buying a rower is going to be a pretty hefty investment, but if it’s a choice between a one-time hit to my budget, risking heat stroke when it’s 100 degrees in the shade or, perhaps most frightening for a self-proclaimed recluse like myself, going to a GYM, I’m confident this is the right move for me.

Honestly, I’m not much of a cook. There: I said it.

I do enjoy good food, though, and it tends to taste even better when it’s within my budget. But I also want it to be simple and easy to prepare.

Lately, I’ve been making a number of things that require mixing, such as brownies, pudding, and so forth. However, I don’t own an electric mixer, so I’ve been using a spoon or spatula to get the job done.

Not surprisingly, I’m getting a little tired of this, and figure it’s time to invest in the proper tool for the job.

After doing a little bit of research, I quickly determined that one of those big countertop mixers was serious overkill for my purposes, regardless of how impressive they appear to be. Nope, a handheld one looks like the best choice all the way around.

The following video confirmed my thinking about buying a handheld one:

It makes a pretty strong case for a stand mixer if you’re a serious chef, but I’m not, and the point about saving space is important to me, considering my tiny kitchen.

So, off I went to further research hand mixers. The Consumer Reports buying guide brought up a number of points I may have missed.

For instance, it talked about stability, noting that some handheld mixers feature a little slot so it can rest on the lip of the bowl while it’s working. This will help keep the bowl from spinning, and potentially flying across the counter … yikes!

Another thing to consider is the ergonomic aspects of each model. Since I’ll be holding it in my hand while it’s running, being able to maintain a secure and balanced grip is obviously important.

Eventually, I found a review of about a dozen models on the Good Housekeeping website that was very helpful. I was pleased to see that their list included more affordable brands like Sunbeam, as well as top-of-the-line ones such as Kitchenaid, which should help me pick a mixer that fits my budget without too much trouble.

While I haven’t made a decision yet on which model to buy, I feel much better prepared now. For us folks who don’t normally spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and aren’t inclined to bake our own bread or make cookies from scratch, a hand mixer is a great economical option. Couple the savings with easier storage when not in use, and it’s a no-brainer, at least for me.

Spying on Coyotes

I was out for a drive last weekend, and caught a glimpse of a coyote. No great surprise in our part of the world, really, but it got me thinking about how the perceived distance between our so-called civilization and raw nature can vary radically from one moment to the next.

CoyoteThink about someone from Churchill, Canada, for instance. They may be sitting in their living room, watching a documentary about polar bears on TV. They hear a noise outside, look out the window, and discover a polar bear mother and her cub ambling through their back yard.

This is an extreme example, of course, but it’s also one of the things that attracts people to places like the National Parks in the US: the opportunity to see a wild animal up close.

For me, though, there’s something attractive about capturing a moment in nature, then sharing it with others. I’ve never done much photography, but after spotting that coyote, I got to thinking about trying my hand at taking pictures of wildlife.

The truth is, though, that I’ve got what I think is a healthy fear of encountering animals face-to-face on their own turf, so I’d rather take my photos either from a very safe distance, or possibly by remote control.

This led me to doing some research on what are commonly called trail cams. These are cameras that you mount on trees or other objects near places wildlife frequent, and usually feature a motion sensor so it automatically takes a picture when something moves in front of the lens. I’ve checked out several websites, including http://bestdeercamera.com, and am quite taken by this idea.

Of course, I still have some more research to do. For one thing, I want to make sure I’m doing this legally. There are most likely some regulations on how and where I can position these cameras, and I’ve no desire to end up on the wrong side of the National Forest Service and a state department of natural resources.

I’ll also need to learn more about how to find the best places for these cameras. Obviously, this will vary from one type of species to the next, but this will be at least half the fun of doing it.

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about this potential new hobby of mine. I’ll keep you up-to-date as I dig into it more.



My name is Susan, and I’m an introvert.  I live quietly in the American Southwest, just me and my tropical fish.  Other than making small talk with my coworkers during the week, I have almost no social life.  I prefer to remain at home pursuing my many hobbies and interests.  When I do venture out, I prefer solitary walks or occasional drives through our beautiful desert and mountain countryside.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I’m happy … extraordinarily happy.  And I know there are other people like me how are happiest on their own, and find interacting with the rest of society very stressful and uncomfortable.  Perhaps my approach to living seems eccentric or odd to you.  You are free to draw your own conclusions, but all I know is that I’m at my most content when I’m alone.

In this blog, I’ll be sharing how I live and thrive as a solitary single in a loud, crowded world.  This won’t be a bunch of posts about psychological or mystical mumbo-jumbo, although I’ll likely write about mindset a little bit.  My real focus is to provide practical help to others who want to pursue a life similar to mine.

Thanks for stopping in, and I hope you’ll pass this way again soon.