Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What’s Blooming On?

What better way to end the month than with pictures of pretty flowers?

- Lilium 'Navona' -

- Asclepias tuberosa -

- Astilbe japonica ‘Montgomery’ -

- Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade’ -

- Gaillardia Burgundy -

- Gaillardia Dwarf Goblin -

- Morden Sunrise -

- Astilbe 'Hennie Graafland' -

- Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ -

- Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ -

- Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ -

And finally, there’s always the center of my backyard where there is always an abundance of blooms:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dijon-Crusted Chicken Breasts

This is a family favourite that I try to make as often as possible. You don’t have to stick with chicken breasts; any part of the chicken will do. I often use chicken thighs and drumsticks for this recipe, and the outcome is delicious!

Dijon-Crusted Chicken Breasts


1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon reduced-fat margarine


Place the first six ingredients in a shallow bowl. Brush chicken with mustard; roll in crumb mixture.

In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil and margarine over medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side or a meat thermometer reads 170°. Yield: 4 servings.
Editor's Note: This recipe was tested with Parkay Light stick margarine.

(Nutrition Facts: 1 chicken breast half equals 169 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 24 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.)

Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Gem Of A Plant

I’ve never grown most of the plants that I’ve added to my garden this year, so I really have no idea whether they’re worth having or not, whether they’re difficult or easy to care for, or even if I’ll want to continue to grow them.

But I do know one thing:

Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ is one of the most amazing plants I’ve run across in a long time.

It went from this... this...

...within just a few short weeks.

Not only does it grow quickly, it’s not fussy, at all. And the leaves are licorice-scented.

If you’re looking for a gem of a plant, try the Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’. You won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Single Photograph

Yesterday, my older daughter celebrated her 18th birthday; she is now of legal age. An adult. One of us.

It’s really hard for me to believe that she’s already 18. It seems like only yesterday that she was this small:

Small enough to carry in my arms.


The years go by so quickly...much too quickly...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Silliness

The following quotes taken from the Toronto News on July 26, 1977 are actual statements from insurance forms where car drivers tried to summarize accident details in as few words as possible.

Funny Statements On Insurance Claims

- "Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have."

- "The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intent."

- "I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way."

- "In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole."

- "I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident."

- "As I approached the intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no sign had ever appeared before, making me unable to avoid the accident."

- "I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him."

- "I saw a slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car."

- "The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth."

- "I was thrown from my car as it left the road, and was later found in a ditch by some stray cows."

- "A pedestrian hit me and went under my car."

- "I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my head through it."

- "To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian."

- "The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him."

- "The pedestrian had no idea which way to run, so I ran over him."

- "I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment."

How about one more? Sure, why not...

Really Stupid People

- Police in Wichita, Kansas arrested a 22-year-old man at an airport hotel after he tried to pass two (counterfeit) $16 bills.

- A man in Johannesburg, South Africa shot his 49-year-old friend in the face, seriously wounding him, while the two practiced shooting beer cans off each other's head.

- A bus carrying five passengers was hit by a car in St. Louis, but by the time police arrived on the scene, fourteen pedestrians had boarded the bus and had begun to complain of whiplash injuries and back pain.

- Police in Radnor, Pennsylvania interrogated a suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The message "He's lying" was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn't telling the truth. Believing the "lie detector" was working, the suspect confessed.

- When two service station attendants in Ionia, Michigan refused to hand over the cash to an intoxicated robber, the man threatened to call the police. They still refused, so the robber called the police and was arrested.

- A Los Angeles man who later said he was "tired of walking," stole a steamroller and led police on a 5 mph chase until an officer stepped aboard and brought the vehicle to a stop.

Har har har... Have a great day!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today's Trivia - Assorted

Ready for some more interesting but useless information?

Okay, let’s do it...

- For every person on earth there are one million ants.

- Approximately 200,000,000 M&Ms are sold every day in the USA.

- The best-selling candy brand in the world is M&Ms (the above statement proves it).

- Established on May 2nd, 1670, in Canada, THE HUDSON BAY COMPANY is the oldest, continuously operating company on the continent.

- There are 318,979,564,000 possible combinations of the first four moves in chess.

- Elephants only sleep for two hours each day.

- Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

- Think you’ve got it bad? The lifespan of a dragonfly is 24 hours.

- Kids in Canada and the United States spend about $500 million on bubble gum each year. This works out to 40 million pieces per day.

- The most powerful computer in the world is called ‘Blue Gene’. It can perform 280.6 trillion calculations per second.

- Green tea is made from the same plant (Camellia sinensis) as black or oolong tea. What makes it different is the way it is processed.

- The original recipe for Coca-Cola in 1885 contained coca leaves, which are used to produce the drug cocaine. The soft drink didn’t become completely coca-free until 1929.

- The average number of sweat glands in a pair of feet is 250,000.

- The toothbrush was invented in 1498. Early variations on the brush were made of neem tree wigs or miswak, a twig from the Salvadora or ‘toothbrush tree’.

- The blueprints for the Eiffel Tower used more than 14,000 square feet of drafting paper.

- The fork was introduced in England in 1601. Legend has it that when Queen Elizabeth I first used a fork, the clergy went ballistic. They felt it was an insult to God not to touch meat with one’s fingers.

- The energy in an average hurricane that lasts a day could power the United States for three years.

- A raisin dropped in a glass of champagne will bounce up and down continually from the bottom of the glass to the top.

- The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.

- Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.

- If you put a drop of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death. If you miss...

- Vincent Van Gogh sold exactly one painting during his whole life, “Red Vineyard at Arles”.

- The penguin is the only bird that can’t fly but can swim.

- Charlie Chaplin won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

- The Monumental Axis in Brazil is the world’s widest road. Some 160 cars can drive side by side on it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Liliums In Bloom

A have an assortment of liliums growing in different areas of the garden because they are by far my favourite plants. Below are photos of just a few of the pretty flowers that have graced my garden so far. There are still a lot more to come; I will post pictures of them (the lilies) as they bloom.

In the meantime:

Lilium ‘Tiny Bee’:

Lilium ‘Red/White Pixie’:

Lilium ‘Orange Pixe’:

Lilium ‘Pink Pixie’:

Lilium ‘Crimson Pixie’:

Gosh, how I love these plants!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries

I am a big fan of sweet potatoes, and although I have many recipes, below is a quick and tasty way of making them.

Sweet Potato Fries

3 medium sweet potatoes
1 tbsp olive oil (I use canola)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp brown sugar (more if you like your fries sweeter)

- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1/4–inch wide strips. Place them in a bowl, add the oil and toss to coat.

- Sprinkle with salt, pepper and brown sugar. Toss again to coat.

- Spread the fries on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 - 30 minutes, or until done. Turn every 10 minutes while cooking.

It can’t get any easier than this!


Monday, June 21, 2010

New Plants For The Garden

Okay, so here I am again with another batch of plants that have been added to the garden. These days I’m popping into garden centers to see if there are any really good sales going on. Clearance sales would be the best, but it’s not happening yet. In time...everything in time...

Anyhow, here are some new additions:

1) Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’

I thought this plant with dark, bronzy leaves would make a wonderful addition to the garden. So, I picked up one and took it home with me. It’s planted on the left side of the yard near my huge maple tree.

2) Gaura lindheimeri 'Pink Cloud'

Apparently, this plant is known to flower from early summer right through to October, sometimes well into November. How can you resist that? I picked up one and planted it under my kitchen window.

3) Lilium 'Tiny Bee'

I adore liliums and have added quite a few in my garden. ‘Tiny Bee’ caught my eye with its gorgeous bright yellow flowers. There were three of these liliums in one pot; all three are planted under my kitchen window.

4) Chrysanthemum max. ‘Exhibition’

I have a hard time resisting daisy-like flowers no matter how many I already have growing in the garden. I picked up one of these, divided it into two plants and added them both to the new flower bed in the center of the yard.

5) Lilium 'Navona'

This lily was on sale, so I picked one up and planted it under my kitchen window. The flowers are not open yet, but it should happen any day now.

6) Lilium 'Star Gazer'

This is a very popular Lilium – or so I’ve heard. I picked up a container with three bulbs in it and added them all to the flower bed under my kitchen window. I’m curious to see what the flowers will be like.

7) Lilium 'Crimson Pixie'

I only meant to pick up some groceries that day, but when I ran across these lovely plants at the supermarket, I couldn’t resist. I took home two with me and planted them on the right side of the yard. The colour of the flowers is stunning.

Below is an assortment of bulbs that have been planted in different areas around the garden. I’ve only taken photos of the packaging since the bulbs are not quite grown yet.

8) Lilium ‘Tiger Pink’

There were two bulbs in the package; both of them were planted in the middle of the yard.

9) Lilium ‘Royal Sunset’

This package contained 5 bulbs. I planted two in the center of the yard, 2 under my kitchen window and one on the right side of the yard.

10) Lilium ‘Pink Chablis’

The two bulbs in this pack were added to the new bedding area in the middle of the yard.

And that’s it for now, folks. There will be another post or two sometime in the near future about more new plants.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day, Papa

I’m glad that you are finally at peace and no longer suffering...

(My father dancing joyfully at my brother’s wedding February 2006.
One year later, February 2007, he was gone.)

...but, oh, how I miss you...

Happy father’s day...

Amazing Dahlias

Dahlias...I am so in love with them. Look at these flowers:

Aren’t they amazing?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Silliness

Here’s another batch of funny exam answers...

Q. Name the four seasons.
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink.
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed?
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans?
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight.

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed.

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections?
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election?

Q. What are steroids?
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.

Q. What happens to your body as you age?
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental.

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes?
A. Premature death.

Q. What is artificial insemination?
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow?

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow.

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised? (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O and U.

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie.

Q. What is the most common form of birth control?
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

Q. Give the meaning of the term ‘Caesarean section’.
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.

Q. What is a terminal illness?
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head.

Har har

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo Of Bailey

Ferrets don’t know – or care – where you buy their toys, how much you spend on them or how great you think they are. Because the bottom line is that they’ll decide what’s cool – or not.

Bailey has decided that the cool toy of the day is my flip-flop:

Don’t know what he finds exciting about my shoe, but there you have it.

(Just a reminder: Do not let your ferrets play with shoes like this unsupervised. They have rubber in them (something ferrets love to chew to pieces) and your pets will end up swallowing bits and pieces that may get lodged in their intestines.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Today's Trivia - Squirrels

Love them or hate them, squirrels are everywhere; in your garden, on your bird feeders and wherever else food may be available. How much do we know about these cute but pesky critters? Not much. So today’s trivia is all about them...

Some Interesting Things About Squirrels...

1. The sweat glands of a tree squirrel are located on their feet, between the foot pads and on their paws between the toes.

2. Squirrels communicate through a series of chirps. The frequency and the duration of the notes communicate everything from laughter to alarm.

3. A squirrel will break the shell of a nut with its teeth then clean the nut by licking it or rubbing it on its face before it is buried. This action applies a scent to the nut which helps the squirrel find it later, even under a foot of snow.

4. Squirrels are the cleanest animals in the rodent family. If a squirrel's nest becomes infested with fleas or other parasites, it will move to, or build a new nest.

5. Gray squirrels build nests in unusual places; attics and crawl spaces are the most commonly-chosen areas, but automobiles, chimneys, barbecue grills and the underneath of porches have been used.

6. A squirrel’s teeth never stop growing. Gnawing keeps teeth from growing into a squirrel’s neck.

7. When frightened, squirrels dart back and forth to confuse predators. This doesn't work well with cars; most city squirrels don't live longer than a year.

8. The gray squirrel’s diet consists of nuts, seeds and fruit. But it will also eat bird eggs, bugs, and even an animal carcass if there is no other food source available.

9. Gray squirrels bury their acorns all over the place ("scatter hoarding"), then forget where. Forgotten acorns become trees. This forgetfulness is the main way oak and other hardwood forests grow and spread, scientists say.

10. Gray squirrels are called "living fossils" because they haven't changed much in 37 million years.

11. There are about 300 different types of squirrels around the world. In North America there are ten.

12. Squirrels vary in size. A gray squirrel can be up to three times the size of a red one but smaller than a fox squirrel.

13. A squirrel needs about two pounds of food a week. If it can’t find it where it lives, it will move to a new location.

14. Squirrels typically live in tree trunk holes or in treetop crow’s nests. The homes in the treetops are called dreys and can consist of two rooms and a nursery.

15. Mating begins when a squirrel is about a year old. Size weeks after the mating, baby squirrels (kittens) are born.

16. A female squirrel gives birth twice a year – in the spring and end of summer – and has two to five kittens each time.

17. Squirrels can live up to 10 – 12 years.

18. Animals that prey on squirrels include red-tailed, owls, raccoons, wildcats, foxes and opossums

19. No matter how much trouble they cause, because of their silly antics and cute looks, squirrels are among of the best-loved animals.

20. Regardless of the genetics that give them their coat colour, they are all members of the Eastern Grey Squirrel family.

And that sums up this week’s interesting but useless information!