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In Search of The Perfect Handbag

I’m searching for The Perfect Handbag.

I know (almost) exactly what I want.

I can’t find it.

I wish I could design my own bag.

Except …?

I don’t know how to sew or work with leather.

I want a large, distressed leather, tote bag.

I like the idea of a distressed caramel colored leather, but a distressed dark brown might work.

I don’t want it to look western and cowboy-ish.

I’m a beach girl.

The Perfect Handbag needs to be large enough to fit all my stuff inside, plus a lens or two.

A nice, buttery, leather would be perfect … as long as it isn’t too heavy.

I want the purse to look BETTER as it ages and gets marked up.

I like the look of this tote by the Whipping Post:



But, although, I want the outside to look tote-ish –

I want pockets … lots of pockets.

Tote bags, generally, are lacking in pockets.

I want at least one, if not two, pockets on the outside.

(Quick access to a cell phone!)

I’d also like a divider pocket with a zipper on the inside.

Without a divider, the bag is just one large SPACE.

It becomes impossible to find stuff when you need it.

Although, a divider probably would mean it’s not called a tote?

Should my imaginary Perfect Handbag be a messenger bag instead?

I want it to have a detachable strap so I can wear it crossbody when I need my hands.

(Also because of my bum arm.  I can’t carry anything with my right arm or on my right shoulder.)

Does such a bag exist?

Do any of you know of anyone who makes, reasonably priced, good quality, leather goods?

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Seven Random Thoughts

•  The Kentucky Derby is quickly approaching.  I need to get my act together?  I wish I liked bourbon.  I really, really, do not like bourbon.  How am I going to get through a trip to Kentucky when I don’t like bourbon?

•  Someone asked me why I wanted a Midori when I can keep all my “notes” on my phone.  I was completely digital.  Awhile back my phone crashed.  All my “recoverable” notes … weren’t recoverable after all.  I still keep a ton of stuff on my phone, but I’m glad I have a back-up plan.  I like my small (passport sized) Midori so much, I’ll probably eventually get the standard Midori Traveler’s Notebook too.

•  I might be a stationery addict.  Just a little bit.  I’ve always loved book stores, and nice notebooks, and good quality paper.  If I had no budget restraints, I would probably collect a room full of beautiful notebooks and journals … preferably handmade from places all around the world.  There’s just something about a beautiful, blank, book waiting to be filled.  (Of course, I would love to travel around the world collecting all those journals as souvenirs from my adventures!)

•  I’m not a pen addict, but I know a few people who are.  I do like pens.  But, if I find one I like I tend to stick with it.  The only exception is probably the Lamy Safari fountain pens.  (They’re inexpensive as fountain pens go.)  Lamy releases new colors periodically and I find myself collecting the various colors.  The ink is the same in all of them, but the exteriors are different colors.  I think they release certain colors in limited editions?  I don’t follow it that closely, but if I see a new color I try to add it to my collection.  They make nice, affordable, gifts too.  I don’t own a single super-expensive pen and I don’t feel the need to.

•  I still had a “land-line” phone until last weekend.  I kept meaning to get rid of it, but I never seemed to get around to it.  Anyway, now that it’s disconnected, I’ve realized how many companies/people normally call me on that line.  Still, I should have gotten rid of that phone line a decade ago.  Do you have a land-line?  If so, why?

•  My arm has been bad lately.  Paul Newman and I have been discussing the ever-looming 10th surgery.  I can never get over the fear I have and actually do it.  But, when my pain level gets super high, I do find myself considering the possibility.  I know my doctor wants me to do it.  And, Paul Newman does too.  But, I’ve been through a lot and I don’t know if I could handle more.  I also worry something could go wrong.  What if I couldn’t shoot again?  What if I lost my (already limited) ability to manage a camera?

•  Today I’m going to make a better jingle bell attachment for my door.  Fred knows to ring the bells when he wants to go outside.  When I first came up with the idea, I wasn’t sure it would work.  But, Fred learned what to do very quickly.  I’d like to put together a more permanent attachment now that I know it will be well used.

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Fred’s Weekend

My weekend was centered around Fred’s weekend.

Fred spent Saturday training.

Fred didn’t have the best behavior last week.

Fred The Newf 24 weeks © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Fred The Newf looking handsome at 24+ weeks.

Last week, Fred experimented with ignoring me.

He pretended to be deaf to commands.

He was, at times, out-right stubborn.

He tested me over and over again.

I was very eager for Fred’s training session on Saturday.

The trainer told me Fred is doing great and, basically, I’m expecting too much for his age.

But …?

I then told the trainer Fred had been the perfect puppy …

He nodded and said, “Yes, but now he’s approaching six months of age and this is what they DO at that age.”

So …?

My puppy is no longer perfect, but I love him anyway.

On Sunday, I took Fred for a long car ride.

We went up to Santa Monica to Palisades Park to play.

Fred The Newf at Pacific Palisades Park in Santa Monica

Fred had a great time.

Palisades Park is full of tons of people, dogs, bikes, and sounds – loud cars, horns, sirens, etc.

I don’t think Fred had ever experienced so much stimulation at once.

And ….?

He was awesome.

He heeled perfectly.

He was great with all the people and dogs he met.

He listened to me … almost 100% of the time.

In fact, he was better behaved than many dogs we met who were much older than him.

I even asked him if he was willing to pose for a few shots with my new extra wide lens.

Fred was more than happy to oblige.

Fred The Newf looks extra giant!

I think Fred likes the idea of a lens that makes him look more gigantic than he already is.

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Midori Passport Notebook

Warning:  Lots and lots of photos in this post!

In my quest to be more organized, I began looking for a small notebook to carry with me everywhere.

I decided to try out the Midori Passport Size Traveler’s Notebook.

I LOVE this notebook … more so, because I’ve personalized it.

(Yes, that’s what I’ve been doing each night this week while my arm kept me up till all hours!)

Here’s a quick shot of my (passport size)  over-stuffed Midori:

Midori 1 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

You can see I added a “charm” to the front to customize it.

My original intention was to use this book to jot down quick thoughts, and to-dos while on the run.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Midori Notebooks, they originated in Japan.

They’ve been around for a long, long, time.

They were, originally, designed to be carried by people while traveling.

(To hold passports, airline tickets, souvenirs, journal notes about a vacation, etc.)

They come in a small, passport, size like mine – and a long, thin, standard traveler’s size.

Midori’s have become incredibly popular with both men and women in recent years.

There are a lot of people who now make various versions of fake Midoris … called “faux” doris.

A Midori is basically a piece of leather and an elastic band – it’s a very rudimentary notebook.

You can buy various inserts for a Midori, depending on how you plan to use it.

For example, you could buy a calendar insert for it if you wanted to use it as a planner.

(Mine is not going to be used as a planner.)

Inserts are available on Amazon.  A lot of Etsy shops make various inserts for them also.

The leather gradually becomes more and more beat-up … which is part of the Midori appeal.

The pages frequently stick out a little from the leather cover and also get beat up … again, part of the appeal.

It’s sort of an “Indiana Jones” type look.

When an insert gets full, you can pull it out of the book and archive it or throw it away.

Just slip in a new insert and you’re ready to go.

I took some very rushed, pretty terrible, photos of how I set up my Midori.

On the inside cover, I used an adhesive backed pocket to hold notes.

Midori 2 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

On the opposite side, is a small zippered compartment for receipts, etc.

Next, I covered a plain brown, kraft paper, pocket folder with scrapbook paper so it would look nicer.

Note:  You do not “have to” decorate Midori notebooks.  A lot of people use them in their most basic form.

Midori 20 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I don’t usually like pink, but I think it looks nice with the dark brown leather.

Here’s a photo of the inside of the pocket insert which I also covered in scrapbook paper.

Midori 19 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Even in a small notebook, it’s handy to have a lot of pocket options.

After my array of pockets, I have a total of three paper inserts in my Midori.

Most people probably only use two because the passport is a very small notebook.

The three inserts I chose are 1) lined paper, 2) plain white, unlined paper, and 3) graph paper.

The insert covers were plain, so I decided to spruce them up by covering them in various papers.

On the left side of the next photo you see the back of my pocket kraft folder.

On the right is the cover of my first paper insert.

Midori 5 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Open the cover of Insert #1 and you will see this:

Midori 6 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I figured I would start off the “real” part of the notebook with a few uplifting quotes.

Turn the page and, on the right, the lined pages begin …. and they will remain decoration free for writing.

Midori 7 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

On the inside of Insert #1’s back cover, I covered up “the boring” with this:

Midori 8 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

And, on the very back of the cover, I again used the same paper I previously used to cover the kraft pocket insert.

The front cover of Insert #2 has a different paper in a complimentary color scheme.

Midori 9 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

The back of Insert #1 and the front of Insert #2.

My second paper insert is filled with plain, unlined, paper.

The inside front cover of Insert #2 now looks like this:

Midori 10 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Turn the page, and the plain paper of Insert #2 begins on the right hand side.

I love having some unlined paper available, and with me, whenever I need it.

Midori 11 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I decorated the inside back cover of Insert #2 to look like this:

Midori 12 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I used a variety of scrapbook paper and project life cards for most of the decorated areas.

In the next photo, you see the back cover of Insert #2 and the front cover of Insert #3.

Midori 13 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

The back cover of Insert #2 and the front cover of Insert #3.

Insert #3 is graph paper.  I think it will come in handy for recording work mileage, expenses, etc.

I decorated the inside cover of Insert #3 to look like this:

Midori 14 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

The first pages look like this:

Midori 15 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

After that, the remainder of Insert #3 is standard graph paper.

The inside back cover of Insert #3 looks like this:

Midori 16 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

The back cover of Insert #3 looks like this:

Midori 17 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Finally, we come to the end of my Midori Passport Notebook.

It ends with a couple business card holders.

I also have the Midori pen holder attached to the back cover.

Midori 18 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

I love my little – but chunky – very overstuffed, Midori.

It easily fits in a handbag and/or my camera bag.


There’s just something about it.

It feels good to hold and it’s great to write in.

Midori 1 © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

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Feeling Crafty

I’ve had the craziest week.


On top of the craziness, I decided to work on a craft project in my spare time.

I have no spare time.

Oh, and also, my arm is currently not connected to my body.

(If you don’t follow me normally, you can better understand what I’m talking about by clicking here.)

So much pain!

And, also?

No sleep!

Anyway, I was so busy I haven’t written a proper post for today.

(And yesterday’s post about Fred went up much later than normal.)

But, I’m hoping to tell you all about my craft project in tomorrow’s post.

I wanted to wait until I have photos to share and I’m not quite done with it yet.

It’s an easy project anyone could make.

It also could make a very nice gift for someone.

Mine isn’t turning out perfectly, by any means.

I’m proud of it anyway.

I feel a sense of accomplishment as I see it coming together.

Stay tuned, and please come back tomorrow to hear all about it!

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Fred Update – 24 Weeks Old

Several of you have asked for a Fred photo.

Here’s a quick iPhone photo of Fred The Newf looking very Goofie-Newfie yesterday:

24 week Old Fred © 2015 Suzanne Haggerty W

Fred The Newf  —  24 Weeks Old

Fred loves his stuffed roadrunner.  He carries it around with him a lot.

Fred has seen REAL roadrunners, but he seems to like his toy roadrunner best.

Sometimes Fred looks very regal and majestic … but, obviously, not in the above photo.

I’m going to take Fred to the vet to be weighed this week.

All I really can say at this point is – Fred is gigantic.

(He’s big even by Newfie standards … he seems to be taking after his Very Large Newf Dad.)

I get interesting reactions when people meet Fred.

People assume he’s an adult because of his size.

People who are afraid of dogs are REALLY afraid of Fred since he’s so big.

I keep saying, “He’s only a puppy – he won’t hurt you.”

People who are familiar with the Newfie breed (and their very sweet temperaments) tend to squeal loudly, in delight, when Fred approaches.

I have several house projects in progress right now.

Fred either scares the workers to death …

Or, if they offer to pet him, covers them with love, affection, dog hair, and slobber.


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Texas, Then Home

I had a nice, but busy, few days in Texas.

I shot a lot of portraits.

I explored some architecture.

I visited my college-aged son and spoiled him with some nice meals out.

I walked a lot.

I attended the Fort Worth Main Street Arts Festival.

It was a lot of fun.

They even had live music.

Usually, at most art festivals, there’s a lot of the same old stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised, and a bit intrigued, by some of the art I experienced in Texas.

I love seeing people express their creativity in unique ways.

(I didn’t take many photos of the art booths because I was trying to rest my arm.)

Fred The Newf and I were overjoyed to see each other again when I got home.

He was spoiled rotten in my absence.

(But he tried to make me feel guilty for leaving him anyway.)

I gave Fred a lot of pets and hugs.

He gave me a lot of slobbery kisses.

I also returned home to an “extra” physical therapy appointment.

I might have yelped when Paul Newman touched my arm.

Embarrassed, I immediately apologized.

(He apologized too … even though he had barely touched me.)

Traveling is never good for my arm.

Now, I’m back to work and,

Simultaneously, trying to get caught up with life.

There’s always so much to do and so little time!

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The Derby Dress!

Yesterday, as I frantically tried to get my Texas details in order ….

I came across the perfect dress to wear to the Kentucky Derby.

You may remember, I’ve already purchased a gigantic purple Derby hat.

Finding a dress to go with it has been much more difficult than I expected.

Derby dresses are supposed to be spring-ish and ladylike – very Southern Belle-ish.

And …. finally!


I’m thrilled I finally found something.

It’s in my closet and waiting for Derby.

I think I’m going to wear nude shoes with it.

It’s such a relief … the Derby is only a couple weeks away!

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Packing – Again

I’m about to leave for a few days in Texas.

I stayed home for five months and now I’m cramming three air-o-plane trips into a four week time period.

I’ve been in town for a whopping four days.

I’ve tried to fit two weeks of STUFF into those four days.

(I haven’t even had a chance to take any photos of Fred!)

Yesterday began with a biopsy on my leg.

(I’m sure I’m fine … I’m a melanoma person/surviver so my doc is very diligent about such things.)

The day ended with an army of police and emergency vehicles all over my neighborhood.

Apparently, an underage party at a neighbor’s led to chaos, injuries, and drunken stupidness.

(Remember those days?)

In any case, I’m not taking my computer on the Texas trip.

I’ll be back next Tuesday.

If I can, in the meantime, I’ll post a photo or two and/or possibly a brief post via my phone.

If nothing else, I’m sure I’ll be on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.

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Outgrowing A Home Office

I work out of my house.

My work no longer fits inside my house.

In fact, it hasn’t for awhile.

My cramped quarters, and less than ideal set-up, affects my productivity dramatically.

When I first began working from home, I was working part time.

Now, I’m continually stressed out by my lack of space.

Also, people think it’s okay to interrupt me because I work out of my house.

After all, I’m HOME aren’t I?

I don’t have a solution yet.

Rent in Southern California is VERY expensive.

But, I need a working studio – badly.

This has been an issue I’ve been struggling with for the last year.

Recently, I lost a bid on an $80,000 job.

I was bidding against one other photographer.

I was told the client preferred my work.

But …?

The other photographer prints all of his own work and his cost was substantially lower than mine.

I have to pay a middleman to print for me.

I can’t compete on really big jobs without printing my own photos.

Commercial, large format, printers are extremely expensive.

They’re also HUGE …. the size of a large couch.

In my current situation, I don’t even have a place to put one.



Have you, or someone you know, gone through anything similar?

I’m so frustrated and I don’t have a solution ….