Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chicken Kapama

This is a popular Greek recipe that I have enjoyed my whole life. My mother made it for her family and now I’m making it for my own. This freezes very well, so make a huge batch for future meals.

Chicken Kapama

1 3 to 4 lb chicken cut into serving pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 can 6 oz tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup water
3 sticks cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 cup onions, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 pound macaroni
1 cup grated kefalotiri
(You can use parmesan or romano cheese instead)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cinnamon. In a Dutch oven, melt 2 T butter and brown chicken until golden on all sides.

In a bowl combine tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and water and pour mixture over chicken. Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaf.

In a medium-sized frying pan, melt 2 T butter and saute onions, and garlic until onions are wilted. Add to chicken.

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender, 50 -60 minutes. In the last 20 minutes, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and empty into serving dish.

Brown remaining butter and pour over macaroni. Place macaroni on a large serving platter. Place chicken and sauce over macaroni and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Source: The Complete Book of Greek Cooking

(FYI: Kefalotiri is a Greek cheese that is pale yellow in color and has irregular holes. It is a hard cheese made from sheep and goat's milk. Kefalotiri is generally used as a grating cheese and served on top of cooked dishes. It has a strong flavor and sharp aroma.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Real Life Ugly Duckling Story

Over the years, when I was still living in Montreal, I bumped into many of my childhood friends. Most of them recognized and remembered me, and most of the time I recognized and remembered them – unless they had changed drastically, which isn’t often the case since many of us don’t change all that much, we just become older versions of ourselves. But once in awhile a person’s appearance changes so much as the years pass that you would never be able to link the two versions (child and adult) together. Such is the case of one of my childhood friends that I did not see until I was in my late 20s. When he was a kid, he was a scrawny, buck-toothed, silly and awkward boy who didn’t rate anywhere on the ‘cute kid’ radar. He was a lot of fun, and one of my favourite friends, but hardly adorable. He wasn’t one of the little boys you would expect to grow up to be a handsome man.

But oh my...

One day while I was scanning items in a supermarket aisle - near my 30th birthday – I felt eyes upon me. Moving my head back and forth while pretending to check out items, and hoping that my peripheral vision would catch a glimpse of the gawker, I noticed a man had stopped a few feet away, just staring at me. It was early afternoon on a weekday, a time where most stores are quiet, so it was just the two of us in that aisle. There was no doubt his eyes were fixed on me; I felt my cheeks getting very hot as I became self-conscious of his blatant gazing.

I wanted to move out of that aisle but I wanted to move out with poise, slowly, calmly, without showing any sign that he had in fact intimidated me. I had no idea what had possessed him to stop and stare. Was he some guy who routinely tried to meet women in a supermarket? Was he a creepy character that I should be concerned about? Would he follow me around the store? To the cash? Into the parking lot? I didn’t know. What I did know is that he was making me nervous. Still, I wasn’t going to grant him the satisfaction of watching me flee in fear. I decided I’d turn around and look at him straight in the eyes as I walked right past him. And when I did turn to look at him as I moved past him with my shopping cart, I found myself face to face with one of the handsomest faces I’d ever seen. My heart skipped a beat (or two or three...), my eyes got big and round and my legs turned to jelly. I could hardly breathe. Or move. Or take my eyes off him. Now I was staring.

That’s when he said my name.


Huh? He. Knows. Me. ! This gorgeous hunk of a man knows me? ! How? From where? And how could I not know him? Who could possibly forget someone who looks like this?

“Do I know you?” I asked.

“Yes” He smiled. And the universe shook. I swear there was a halo around his head. “From a long time ago.”

Oh, how blessed those days must have been...

When he told me who he was, I had to remember to put my jaw - that had nearly dropped to the floor - back in place. This dazzling, tall, dark, eye-catcher was the same scrawny, buck-toothed, corny boy that I had spent many days playing with as a child. The ugly duckling story that I had read as a child sprung to mind. Here I was standing before a classic example of a complete – and stunning - me-ta-mor-pho-sis.

Reduced to the awkwardness of an adolescent, I nonetheless tried to retain my composure and make casual – and coherent - conversation. It took tremendous effort to stay focused. As he spoke, telling me a little bit about himself and his news, my mind wandered off and I could barely make out what he was saying; I was too preoccupied, wondering if I looked okay, chastising myself for not having taken more time to fix my hair or polish my make-up or dress nicer. What was I thinking coming here without making more of an effort on my appearance? A girl should be prepared at all times; you never know who you’ll bump into at the supermarket, right? I was even filled with anxiety when I couldn’t remember whether I had any pimples on my face or if I had recently plucked my eyebrows or shaved my legs or put on deodorant.


It turned out he was still single and lived close to my home in the same neighborhood. OHMYGOD. Then he asked about my situation by using three words that had never sounded so obscene in my life: “Are you married?” No? Maybe? Kind of? Sigh… Yes. (Damn it) I was incredibly alarmed to find myself more annoyed at having to admit I had a husband – what kind of person was I? - even though the marriage was a fiasco and a terribly unhappy one. So instead of speaking about a husband that was obviously more of a nuisance in my life than a source of happiness, I focused on my daughter instead, chatting away, hoping to direct the conversation away from the ‘man’ in my life. If I could avoid answering questions about my partner, I wouldn’t have to deal with saying wonderful things about him that I didn’t feel, and I wouldn’t have to concentrate on making sure my eyes and facial expression were up to par with my lies.

After we said good-bye, wishing each other well, I floated through the rest of my shopping spree, imagining all kinds of scenarios that were not appropriate of a married woman, feeling tingling sensations that screamed x-rated. I never saw him after that, which was for the better, but I think about him now and then, and hope he is doing well.

So while some of us do not change all that much as we age, others go through a complete transformation, the man in the supermarket being a fine (oh so fine…) example of that. I would never have recognized him had he not recognized me, and I figure he knew who I was because I was still quite recognizable, albeit an older version of myself. I just hope I made as much an impression on him as he had made on me. One can only hope.

(And just for the record, my second marriage is a match made in heaven because I'm with the most amazing man in the world, so I wouldn’t hesitate to answer that I’m married if I bumped into this man now. Just sayin')

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lovely Crocus

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
~ John Burroughs ~

This year was the first time I’d ever grown crocus. And I’m so glad I decided to because they are simply lovely.

I love the white ones the most; they add a subtle touch of elegance to the garden.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Silliness

It’s time to tickle the funny bone...

Role Reversal

A reporter was doing a story on gender roles in Kuwait several years before the Gulf War. She noted then that women customarily walked about 10 feet behind their husbands.

She returned to Kuwait recently and observed that the men now walked several yards behind their wives.

The reporter approached one of the women and said, "This is marvellous. Can you tell the free world just what enabled women here to achieve this reversal of roles?"

"Land mines," said the Kuwaiti woman.

The Master Samurai

Back in the time of the Samurai there was a powerful emperor who needed a new head Samurai so he sent out a declaration throughout the country that he was searching for one. A year passed and only 3 people showed up: a Japanese Samurai, a Chinese Samurai and a Jewish Samurai.

The emperor asked the Japanese Samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be head Samurai.

The Japanese Samurai opened a match box and out pops a little fly. Whoosh goes his sword and the fly drops dead on the ground in 2 pieces.

The emperor exclaimed: "That is very impressive!" The emperor then asked the Chinese Samurai to come in and demonstrate.

The Chinese Samurai also opened a match box and out pops a fly. Whoosh, whoosh goes his sword. The fly drops dead on the ground in 4 pieces.

The emperor exclaimed: "That is really very impressive!" The emperor then had the Jewish Samurai demonstrate why he should be the head Samurai.

The Jewish Samurai also opened a match box and out pops a fly. His flashing sword goes whoooooooossshhh whoooooooossshhh whoooooooossshhh whoooooooossshhh whoooooooossshhh. A gust of wind fills the room, but the fly is still alive and buzzing around.

The emperor, obviously disappointed, asks: "After all of that, why is the fly not dead?"

The Jewish Samurai smiled, "Well, circumcision is not intended to kill"

Friday, May 27, 2011

Video: Mama Cat Hugs Her Kitten

I stumbled across this video and had to share it with all of you, especially those of you who love cats.

Sweet, no?

Boston Fern

I’m a little undecided on how I feel about ferns. On one hand, I really like them because they’re interesting and very different from the regularly-available plants at the local greenhouses such as the usual selection of African Violets, Dieffenbachias, Aglaonemas and Dracaenas. But on the other hand, I don’t seem to like them enough to want to grow them on a permanent basis inside my home. They fall into the ‘try it at least once’ category; the types of plants that I’ll grow once (and only the ones that appeal to me) to gather hands-on experience about their needs and never bother to replace if they die (with or without my help). I don’t know why this is. They’re certainly popular enough. And quite attractive. But there’s just something about them that doesn’t pique my botanical interest. Aside from the Platycerium bifurcatum, the staghorn fern, that I think is a really cool-looking plant. And Asplenium nidus, Bird’s Nest Fern, also very cool.

Caring For A Boston Fern

Regardless of how I feel about this group of plants, the Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis', native to the American tropics and subtropics, definitely deserves to have a profile dedicated to it on my blog. It’s an extremely well-liked houseplant that is often found growing in hanging baskets in homes and offices.

Although ferns are a very ancient family of plants and one of the earth’s oldest (long predating dinosaurs, never mind humans), the Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' is a fairly recent discovery. It was a mutation that was discovered in a shipment of Nephrolepis exaltata to Boston from Philadelphia in 1894, thus its common name. Because of its graceful, arching fronds and delicate foliage, it proved to be an immediate success and quickly became a favourite. It has become one of the most popular houseplants on the market.

Depending on who’s telling the story, the Boston fern can be very easy to grow or very difficult. I know many indoor gardeners that will argue emphatically that the Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' is as carefree as it is popular. I personally don’t agree; I consider it a bit of a challenge and wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner or give it as a gift to someone who is very inexperienced with indoor plants. Yes, I’ll concede that they’re not really hard to grow indoors, but because they will not tolerate neglect at all, they’ll prove to be quite exasperating unless you fulfill their needs completely. And although you may manage to keep them alive with slapdash care, they certainly won’t look their best.

Okay, so what do they need?

To start, Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' needs ample humidity; this is absolutely essential to its survival. The average home usually does not offer the amount of humidity that this plant desires, especially during the winter months when the heating system is turned on, so you will have to remedy the situation. Add a humidifier nearby, place the plant on a pebble tray filled with water, double-pot and fill the spaces in between the containers with sphagnum moss and keep it moist at all times, group plants together to form a microclimate with higher humidity or grow the plant in a room naturally higher in humidity. If you are growing quite a few plants that require above average levels of humidity, consider purchasing a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the air. This will help you determine whether your plants are receiving adequate humidity and what type of action you should take if they aren’t.

Despite popular belief, Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' is not a good choice for a dark, shady location. On the contrary, this plant requires a lot of light. Place your plant near a window where it will receive plenty of indirect light. Some direct sunlight from an east or west-facing window during the fall and winter seasons is handled well, but you must protect your Boston fern from the hot rays of direct midday sun during the summer months. The windowsill of a window facing north is also an ideal location.

Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' likes its soil damp but not soggy. Use an airy, fast-draining medium and keep it moist at all times. Water thoroughly until it runs out of the drainage holes; allow the plant to dry partially before watering again. Check on your Boston fern regularly if it is sitting in a room that is warm; it will dry out much faster and may need to be watered more often. Reduce watering in the winter when growth slows down, but never allow the plant to dry out completely. If the soil becomes too dry, the fronds will die back.

(Note: I have not tested this plant in hydroculture yet, so I can’t comment on it. If you have successfully converted one, share your experience.)

Like all its cousins, this fern prefers to be grown in an area that is slightly cool. The best temperature range is between 16°C (60°F) – 21°C (70°F), with slightly cooler levels at night. The plant may tolerate a location that is as high as 24°C (75°F) if the humidity is kept very high, but it will suffer and decline if the temperature rises any higher. Keep your plant far away from heat sources and circulate the air to keep it fresh. Open windows regularly and run floor or ceiling fans. Wash the leaves often to keep pests at bay, especially spider mites. Feed with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength every two to three weeks or once a month during the growing season; do not feed in winter.

If you’re going to grow only one fern, then this is the one. Nephrolepis exaltata `Bostoniensis' may be inflexible about its needs, but if you can fulfill them, it will grow beautifully inside your home. Fresh air, bright light, moist soil, cool temperatures and ample humidity – is that too much to ask for?

Video Of Cute Fuzzies

I recently ran across this video on YouTube, and being the ferret lover that I am, I just had to share it with all of you.

Even if you’re not a fan of ferrets, you have to admit they’re kind of cute.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tune Time - Rasputin

"Rasputin" is a 1978 disco hit single by the Germany-based pop and disco group Boney M., the second single off their hugely successful album Nightflight to Venus. The song is a semi-biographical song whose subject and namesake is Grigori Rasputin, a friend and advisor of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family during the early 20th century. The song variously sensationalizes Rasputin as a playboy, mystical healer, and political demiurge.

(Info above is from Wikipedia)

Rasputin - Lyrics

There lived a certain man in Russia long ago
He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow
Most people looked at him with terror and with fear
But to Moscow chicks he was such a lovely dear
He could preach the bible like a preacher
Full of ecstacy and fire
But he also was the kind of teacher
Women would desire

Lover of the Russian queen
There was a cat that really was gone
Russia's greatest love machine
It was a shame how he carried on

He ruled the Russian land and never mind the czar
But the kasachok he danced really wunderbar
In all affairs of state he was the man to please
But he was real great when he had a girl to squeeze
For the queen he was no wheeler dealer
Though she'd heard the things he'd done
She believed he was a holy healer
Who would heal her son

But when his drinking and lusting and his hunger
for power became known to more and more people,
the demands to do something about this outrageous
man became louder and louder.

"This man's just got to go!" declared his enemies
But the ladies begged "Don't you try to do it, please"
No doubt this Rasputin had lots of hidden charms
Though he was a brute they just fell into his arms
Then one night some men of higher standing
Set a trap, they're not to blame
"Come to visit us" they kept demanding
And he really came

Lover of the Russian queen
They put some poison into his wine
Russia's greatest love machine
He drank it all and he said "I feel fine"

Lover of the Russian queen
They didn't quit, they wanted his head
Russia's greatest love machine
And so they shot him till he was dead

(Spoken:) Oh, those Russians...

The real Rasputin

Link To Article: Top 10 Gardening Mistakes

I ran across this interesting article that I'd like to share with my blog visitors. It might prove useful to some of you. I know I've made many of the mistakes listed.

Top 10 gardening mistakes

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bulbs, Bulbs, Bulbs

With the weather not quite up to par, the gardening season took a little longer getting started this year. And the bulbs were no exception, especially the ones in front of my home that don’t get as much sun as the ones in the back. But when they did decide to finally brave the elements and rise, they were spectacular. Below are photos of the lovely flowers along the walkway.

The more bulbs I plant, the more I fall in love with them. It’s a wonderful way to bring in spring.

Words Of Wisdom

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If I Go Missing...

Looks like it’s shaping up to be a beautiful day, perfect for gardening, so I’m going to head over to this place:

Can you say garden center?

Whenever I enter one of these places, I can’t seem to find my way out. Tell my family I love them if I go missing...

Broccoli Casserole With Cheese

Another amazing recipe from 400 Calories or Less, and a wonderful way to get the family to eat some broccoli. Delicious!

Broccoli Casserole With Cheese

2 10 oz. packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
2 t lemon juice
½ c crushed seasoned stuffing
1 T low fat margarine, melted
¼ c shredded low fat cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put broccoli in an 8 inch square baking dish sprayed with Pam. Mix soup and juice and pour over the broccoli then mix stuffing crumbs and margarine and sprinkle over the casserole.

Cover and bake 30 minutes then uncover, sprinkle with cheese, and bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

So Rapture Is Now Coming In October

Here we go again...

Harold Camping just doesn't know when to quit. Ruining lives twice is not enough. May as well go for a third, eh?

Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October

I hope people are a lot smarter this time. I really do.

So Here We All Are. Still.

Hello world!

I see Tommy and Billy. Susie and Mary. Tina and Johnny. Oh, and there’s Jimmy and Debbie and Cathy, too! Hmm... Looks like we’re all still here. Hallelujah! Praise the merciful lord who has found it in his heart to grant us more time to become ‘good’ Christians. Not just any old Christians, mind you, but the good kind.

Okay, so the world didn’t end. Now what? Is Harold Camping going to predict another ‘the-world-is-ending-so-become-a-good-Christian-and-repent-to-save-your-soul’ date? Hasn’t he done this before? (The world was supposed to end in 1994.) When will he get it right? And why aren’t his predictions coming to pass? Is he mistaken? Confused? Lying? A false prophet? One of the not-so-good Christians?

And what happens to people who gave up their life’s savings thinking that they wouldn’t need them? Folks who quit their jobs? Didn’t save up for college tuition for their kids? Quit living? Walked away from everything? Said good-bye to everyone?

Do they go back to work? Rebuild their lives? Do they continue to live on the sidelines while they wait for the world to end next time? Again. Or do they lose their faith and go on to live full and prosperous ‘not-so-good’ Christian lives?

Should I care? I don’t know, probably. Do I? No, not really. Okay, maybe just a little (mostly the really vulnerable people). Still. Individuals who have chosen to follow Harold Camping, and sound the holy trumpet alongside him, have done so of their own free will (or so I hope). And now that the world hasn’t ended and they’re forced to go on like the rest of us, they’ll just have to go back to whatever life awaits them. Good or bad. Richer or poorer. Job or no job. Savings or no savings. And how they choose to live from now on is entirely their business – and their problem.

I sound a little heartless but that’s because I personally think that this group’s mentality stinks from here to high heaven. The very idea that God would only choose to save ‘true believers’ (good Christians) irritates the bejesus out of me. I do not for one moment believe that God divides us into groups. Good Christians. Bad Christians. Non Christians. True Believers. Non-believers. And I certainly don’t believe that God concentrates only on Christians when he never introduced any type of organized religion to begin with. They’re all created by man, so it would be pretty arrogant of anyone to believe that their “man-made” religion is the one that is favoured. I mean really, people, get off your holy high horse. If God decides to beam people up to heaven, they’ll just be good people from all walks of life, some of them atheists. It’s all about how you live your life, how well you’ve treated fellow human beings, not what religion you follow.

Furthermore, I don’t know why these fanatical Christians dragged the bible into this as a way of validating their (didn't happen) prediction. The Bible itself is pretty clear about Armageddon: Matthew 24:36 says, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

No one. Not even God’s son.

Except for Harold Camping, of course. He knows. Uh-huh...

So the world goes on. Looks like I’ll have to do that laundry, after all. Darn.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tiny Blooms

“There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we
are simply not patient enough, quiet enough to pay attention to the story.”

~ Linda Hogan ~

Even the tiniest blooms bring a garden to life.

Aren’t these tiny little things simply adorable?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Silliness

Let’s start the day with a smile...

Naming the Twins

A pregnant Irish woman from Dublin is involved in a car accident and falls into a deep coma. Asleep for nearly 6 months, when she wakes up she sees that she is no longer pregnant and frantically asks the doctor about her baby.

The doctor replies, "Ma'am you had twins! a boy and a girl. Your Uncle from Cork came in and named them."

The woman thinks to herself, "Oh No, not my Uncle... he's an idiot!"

She asks the doctor,"Well, what's the girl's name?"


"Wow, that's not a bad name, I like it! What's the boy's name?"


Chewing Gum

A Canadian is having his breakfast (coffee croissants, bread, butter and jam) when an American man, chewing gum, sits down next to him.

The Canadian ignores the American who, nevertheless, starts a conversation.

American: "You Canadian fold eat the whole bread?"

Canadian (in a bad mood): "Of course".

American: (after blowing a huge bubble) "We don't. In America, we only eat what's inside. The crust we collect in container, recycle it, transform them into croissants and sell them to Canada." The American has a smirk on his face.

The Canaidan listens in silence.

The American persists: "Do you eat jelly with the bread??"

Canadian: "Of Course."

American: (cracking his gum between his teeth and chuckling). "We don't. In America we eat fresh fruit for breakfast, then we put all the peels, seeds, and left overs in containers, recycle them, transform them into jam to Canada.

The Canadian then asks: "Do you have sex in America?"

American: "Why of course we do", the American says with a big smirk.

Canadian: "And what do you do with the condoms once you've used them?"

American: "We throw them away, of course".

Canaidan: "We don't. In Canada, we put them in a container, recycle them melt them down into chewing gum and sell them to America."

And here's a funny picture to end this post...

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Great Post About Growing Up In The 70s

I really enjoyed this post about growing up in the 70s. If you have a moment, check it out. It's very interesting.

Head over to: Is it amazing that kids from the 70s survived?

Dog Returns Home After Storm With Two Broken Legs

A sweet story...

Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata

To say that all the houseplants I’ve grown over the years have been treated equally would be a lie. I do tend to favour some more than others. For different reasons. I usually have a preference for the more attractive plants that have colourful and interesting foliage, or the more unusual ones like the Adenium obesum and the Beaucarnea recurvata with their eccentric, bulbous base. Sometimes I’m partial to plants that belong to a group that I happen to be collecting at the time. For example, for awhile I was on the lookout for Dracaenas, hoping to add as many different ones to my home as possible. Throughout that period they were in the spotlight, so I paid a little more attention to their needs. During another ‘neurotic’ phase, I starting bringing home a variety of spider plants (Chlorophytum) that ended up in hanging baskets in front of almost every window in the house.

Then there was the African Violet phase, which lasted for a few months. After many years of taking no interest in them, I picked up a few in hopes of finally getting at least one of them to bloom for me - something that doesn’t seem to happen readily in my house. In all honesty, it’s my fault that these pretty plants fail to flower, because I eventually lose interest in them and stop providing the care they need (adequate light, sufficient humidity), so they don’t reward me with flowers, which I deserve. But whenever the desire to try again hits me, I promise that “I’ll do better this time” and “stay focused on their needs” and “commit myself to this mission”, and I do – for awhile. Then I neglect them. Again. And they refuse to flower. Again.

So I’m keen on attractive plants, weird and unusual plants, and plants that happen to fall into the ‘craze of the moment’ category. But I also have a tendency of eventually favouring certain specimens that I previously didn’t like, but do now, simply because they’re the ‘more behaved’ plants (growing happily while making very few demands). As a result, I may purchase a plant that I’m so-so about and it may end up becoming one of my most cherished (and pampered) simply because of its uncomplicated demeanor. This doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.

One of those so-so purchases that moved up the plant chain because of its simple nature is the Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’. It’s not that I didn’t like this Peperomia whenever I saw it at local retailers, I did; it just never was on my list of ‘must have’ plants – until I brought one home. And the only reason I brought one home in the first place is because it looked so healthy and attractive when I first spotted it, I just couldn’t help myself. Well, it turned out to be much more than just another pretty face; the plant became one of my top performers, and one of my most cherished specimens. So plants that suck up to me by being ‘good’ have found a winning approach, and it scores them a few points – and a little extra TLC.

Care Tips For Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegata

Commonly-referred to as the ‘variegated baby rubber plant’, which can be quite confusing to a buyer since it has no relation to the actual ‘rubber plant’ (Ficus elastica), Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ is a very popular indoor favourite that belongs to the pepper family, Piperaceae, whose best known species is Piper nigrum (Black Pepper). Black Pepper is a flowering vine that is cultivated for its fruit, which is generally dried and used as a spice and seasoning – pepper.

The Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ has more than 1,000 cousins in its Peperomia clan; the majority of the species are native to the tropical areas of Central and South America, but a few grow naturally in Florida. Visually, Peperomias vary greatly in appearance; there are trailing, bushy and upright types with foliage that also varies greatly in colouring, variegation, texture and size (from one inch to six inches long). Leaves can be quilted or smooth, variegated or plain and succulent or thin – even hairy.

The glossy, oval, fleshy and multicoloured leaves of the P. obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ come in shades of dark green, olive green and creamy white. This attractive plant is often used in dish gardens, bottle gardens and in other situations where space is limited. In addition, during holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter and Mother’s Day, you may find a Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ planted snugly beside a Kalanchoe and an Ivy in a gift basket. This is a very common, popular houseplant that can be found almost anywhere – greenhouses, supermarkets, big box stores – and throughout the year.

Robust and easy to care for, about the only thing that this plant is at risk of is rotting from over-watering. Because of its small root system, it’s best to choose a shallow pot to grow it in. Together with that, use an airy, fast-draining potting mixture that will prevent the sensitive roots from growing in a waterlogged container. Always water with care. Allow the growing medium to dry out considerably between each watering session, but never allow it to dry out completely to the point where leaves wilt. P. obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ can handle under-watering much better than it can handle over-watering, but not if it becomes chronic. If you allow the soil to dry out completely too often, the plant will drop healthy leaves, which can be quite alarming. During the winter, be extra careful not to over-water. As an alternative, grow this plant in hydroculture; the plant converts and adapts quickly and effortlessly to the water-based system.

P. obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ grows well in a variety of light levels, including shade, but does best in a bright location that receives some direct sunlight. You can grow your plant in a location that offers bright, indirect light and it will do fine, but the preference is a spot where a little early morning eastern or some late afternoon western sunshine is available. Although it will tolerate it, don’t place P. obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ where it’s too shady; the variegation of the plant will be lost. You may have to protect the plant from the direct rays of the sun during the warmer summer months; watch your plant for signs of discontentment.

Average household temperatures between 16°C (60°F) – 24°C (75°F) are fine. The plant prefers to be kept warm; always protect it from cold drafts. Do not expose to temperatures below 10°C (50° F). Humidity is not critical; the dry air of a heated home is tolerated extremely well. Wash the leaves of your plant with a soft cloth occasionally to keep them clean, shiny and free of pests.

In time, especially if grown in areas where light is inadequate, your P. obtusifolia ‘Variegata’ will become tall and leggy. You can prevent this by regularly pinching back the plant to keep it bushy. In addition, trim back young plants a number of times to encourage them to branch out. You can start new plants with the cuttings; they root easily in soil and in water.

Although they are capable of being attacked, Peperomias in general are not very susceptible to insect infestations of any kind, which makes them that much more desirable as indoor plants. While researching for information, I also discovered that one of the things these plants can suffer from is a plant virus called ringspot. Symptoms include distorted leaves with necrotic or chlorotic lesions on them; infected foliage usually falls off the plant. The treatment recommended is to destroy infected plants. (I’ve personally never experienced this virus with any Peperomia so I cannot advise further. If anyone has further information, or has dealt with this problem, please share some experience.)

I suppose it’s easy to favour houseplants that don’t give you a hard time – like the beautiful Peperomia obtusifolia ‘Variegata’. Pick one up if you haven’t already; you’ll be happy you did.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tune Time - Rock Me Gently

Rock Me Gently, a Billboard #1 hit for Andy Kim in 1974, has been called the "ultimate bubblegum teen-pop radio entry" of its time. I don’t remember liking this song back in the 70s as much as I like it now. I must be feeling a little nostalgic in my middle age years...

Chickens In Residential Backyards

Well, it’s official: chickens are legally allowed on residential properties in my beautiful city of Kingston, Ontario.

I’m almost tempted to do this, although the thought of more chores on my list of endless chores leaves me exhausted. I’m curious to see if any of my neighbours get into this. It should be interesting.

If you’re into this, and your city allows it, here is a website packed with useful information: BackYardChickens.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

I first discovered ‘Jack Frost’ in my friend Joy’s garden in the summer of 2009, the year we moved to Kingston, Ontario. And from the moment I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to add this to my own garden. And I did, last spring. I ran across a batch of these lovely plants at Home Depot and treated myself to two. They were quite small at the time, and even when the gardening season ended, they hadn’t grown all that much. It was only their first season, so I didn’t expect anything different.

But this year...oh my... Not only are they growing like weeds, which has me convinced that they will be much larger, they are also producing the prettiest bright blue flowers I’ve ever seen. And what’s most impressive is just how blue they truly are; the closest I’ve ever seen any flower get to the colour blue.

Isn’t this plant just awesome?

Even without flowers, Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ is a stunning plant with its heart-shaped, delicately veined leaves. It’s a very easy to grow perennial, and a perfect choice for those shady areas.

Words Of Wisdom

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

This is such an awesome, low fat beef stroganoff from a super awesome food blog. The recipes on this wonderful site are all under 400 calories and very easy to prepare – my type of cooking!

Beef Stroganoff


1 lb. lean ground beef
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
1 t oil
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c white cooking wine
1 can low fat cream of mushroom soup
½ c light sour cream
1 T Dijon mustard
4 c cooked egg noodles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 13×9 pan with Pam.

Cook meat in a skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink, separating the pieces as it cooks. Drain liquid and fat from meat and set meat aside.

In same skillet add mushrooms, onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes. Add wine and reduce heat and cook another 3-4 minutes then remove from heat and stir in soup, sour cream and mustard. Return beef to pan and mix well.

Put noodles in the baking dish and then pour beef over the noodles. Mix well. Bake uncovered 30 minutes.


Original recipe can be found here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This May Be The Last Monday’s Musings Post

You heard right, folks: this may be the last ‘Monday’s Musings’ post. Not because I don’t want to write any more ‘Monday Musings’. Not because I’m planning (at least not yet) to change Monday’s theme. Not because I’m planning to cut down how many posts I add to this blog. And certainly not because I’m planning to quit blogging. Nope, nothing like that.

This may be the last ‘Monday’s Musings’ post because it may be the last Monday.


In case you haven’t heard, and most of you must have by now, the world is ending on May 21st; just a few short days from now.

Be afraid. Be very afraid...

According to 89-year-old Harold Camping, Christian preacher and founder of the California-based religious broadcasting network, Family Radio, Jesus is returning this coming weekend. Judgment day will begin on May 21, 2011, and on October 21, 2011, the world will end for good.

Therefore, whatever you’re doing on May 21, make sure you wrap it up before 6 PM; that’s when it all begins. A massive earthquake will trigger enormous destruction and the world will cease to exist as we know it. In the midst of all the devastation, the Rapture will happen and Christians - yup, only Christians - will be snatched up and transported to heaven. But not all Christians; just the really good ones. And what, you ask, will happen if you’re a bad Christian or a non-Christian? Well, you’re pretty much doomed because those who remain behind will have no hope of salvation.

But don’t fret. You still have a few days to clean up your soul and get in good with God. Like Charlton Heston said in the movie ‘The Greatest Story Every Told’ where he played the role of John the Baptist: “Repent! And thou shall be saved”

Personally, I prefer the way Jim Carrey mimics Heston in the film “When Nature Calls”:

In any case, make sure you get to a local church this week to convert to Christianity. And don’t forget to add “spend some time repenting” to this week’s agenda. Just in case.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”

~ E.E. Cummings ~

Nothing says spring quite like tulips.

It was worth waiting so many months for them to bloom.