Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today's Trivia - The Resourceful Human Brain

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch study at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are witren, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amazing, isn’t it?

(Incidentally, the message above is not accurate; Cambridge University did not conduct such a study. Not that it really matters.)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Book It – The Third Deadly Sin

This week’s featured book:

The Third Deadly Sin
Author: Lawrence Sanders


A bone-chilling thriller about a "Hotel Ripper" stalking New York’s city streets after hours with a Swiss Army knife, and the retired cop named Edward X. Delaney determined to catch the killer.

My Comments:

There was a period where I was zipping through Lawrence Sanders books like mad. His stories are first rate suspense, and the characters come to life in your mind, so it’s easy to get addicted to his writing style. It’s been years since I read one of his novels, but this one still remains my top choice. You will adore the detective and all his quirky habits, but most important, you may find that you even like the killer.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ruby Tuesday Blooms

“Earth laughs in flowers.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson -

The pretty little blooms of the Helenium ‘Ruby Tuesday’

It’s the end of January, so we’re that much closer to better days...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day

Hey, it’s National Chocolate Cake Day, folks! Celebrate! Indulge! Pick up a fork (or a BIG spoon) and take a bite out of something as scrumptious as this:

Nom nom nom...

Sunny Side Up

"When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn
descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when
they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese
poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times
the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity
of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance."
- Thomas Merton -

This week’s end of the week smile is an adorable photo of a father and child...

Awww, shucks...

Tradescantia Zebrina

Formerly known as Zebrina pendula, this trailing plant is usually referred to as ‘wandering Jew’. Although much less common, other names include inch plant (or inchplant), purple wandering Jew, silver inch plant and wandering zebrina. Native to Mexico, this is a popular houseplant that is grown for its attractive foliage. The top of the fleshy leaves is green (older growth) and purple (new growth) with two creamy silver stripes; the lower leaf surface is a deep purple. (Some sources suggest that the undersides are a magenta shade but I just don’t see it; it looks purple to me with perhaps a tiny hint of red.)

The attractive foliage is not its only appeal; T. zebrina is a long-time favourite because it’s quite easy to grow. This is a great plant for a beginner to start with, and a terrific choice as a gift. It grows quickly, propagates easily (roots form practically overnight (yes, I’m exaggerating) in water) and looks spectacular when properly cared for.

Perhaps one of the most important requirements to keeping a T. zebrina happy is sufficient light. It is not a rumour that this lovely plant will tolerate low light, but it is a rumour that it will thrive in such a location. This Tradescantia prefers – and needs – some direct sun, but will grow happily in a spot that offers at least filtered sunshine. In dim areas, the leaves will grow smaller and the plant will get leggy. Also, sufficient light is needed for the plant to retain its purple color; in too much shade the leaves will revert to a green shade.

A standard all-purpose houseplant soil is fine; keep it moist at all times. Do not make it a habit of under-watering, which will cause the leaves to dry to a crisp. You can over-water this plant, but only if you grow it in a compact, slow-draining medium in a dark area. T. zebrina grows rapidly, and if it basks in the sun in a container that’s just the right size (not too big), it will be thirsty enough to dry out its soil quite fast.

In addition to being beautiful and easy to grow, T. zebrina is also wonderfully versatile when it comes to growing methods and their mediums. You can grow it in soil (as is stated above). You can grow it in Hydroculture, which only requires tip cuttings that have rooted in water to be transferred to clay pellets. And you can grow it directly in water - indefinitely. Cuttings rooted in water can be left there if you choose to grow this plant that way. Just make sure to change the water regularly to keep it fresh.

T. zebrina grows rapidly when it is watered properly, when it is provided with enough light and when it is fed regularly. If grown in soil or hydroculture, feed your Tradescantia once every 2 – 4 weeks during the spring and summer seasons. If you are growing directly in water, fertilize very lightly (dilute to 1/10th the recommended strength) and very infrequently (once a month, or once every six weeks, is enough).

Cool to average home temperatures, 13ÂșC (55°F) - 24°C (75°F), will keep your plant happy. T. zebrina can tolerate (and survive) much lower levels (close to the freezing point), although I wouldn’t recommend long-term exposure to very cold temperatures. Dry air is handled well, but higher humidity is much more beneficial.

Give your plant a shower every now and then to remove dust from leaves and to keep pests at bay. Pinch regularly to keep it bushy and attractive. If your Tradescantia becomes leggy, prune back hard to promote new, compact growth. There’s no need to discard the cuttings; use them to start new plants.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tune Time – Happy Together

I really love this song, which goes all the way back to the 60s from The Turtles’ album of the same name. It was the group's only chart-topper, reaching #12 on the UK Singles Chart in April 1967. Happy Togehter has been featured in many movies, television shows and television commercials.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nifty Pics – Weird and Wacky Hats

Photographs are so appealing to the eyes that just about any theme you put together with them will draw some interest. And maybe a chuckle or two...
(*all photos are from the internet*)

Words Of Wisdom

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Blogger Commenting Issues Possibly Resolved

I'm not sure if the problems are completely resolved, but I was finally able to comment on some blogs I couldn't comment on before, so here's hoping the issues have been dealt with, or are at least almost over. I have reverted my commenting style back to the embedded form (commenting form is right below each post) and we'll see what happens. If I notice that the problem reoccurs, I’ll revert back to a popup window for commenting as I’ve been doing for the past few days. For now, let’s try out the embedded from, and take it from there.

Today's Trivia - The M&M in M&Ms

No doubt you’ve had sleepless nights wondering what the M&M in M&Ms stands for. Well, toss and turn no more, dear readers, because here is the answer:

In 1941, Forrest Mars Sr. (of the Mars candy company) teamed up with Bruce Murrie (the son of Hershey president William Murrie) to develop a hard-shelled candy with chocolate at the center. So...the two Ms are the first letters of two surnames. Woopty-do, right? Kind of anticlimactic, isn’t it?


Forrest Mars Sr. got the idea for this candy in the 1930s, during the Spanish Civil War, when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate surrounding the inside, preventing the candies from melting.

When operations were started, the hard-coated chocolates were made in five colors: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet. They were served in a cardboard tube (similar to Smarties). During World War II, the candies were exclusively sold to the military and were part of a United States soldier’s rations.

By the way, the “M” printed on the M&Ms was originally printed in black. This was changed to white in 1954.

So, now that you have the answer, you can finally get some sleep...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book It – And Then There Were None

This week’s featured book:

And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie

Overview: (from Agatha Christie website)

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Soldier Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they start to die...

My Comments:

It’s very rare I ever read a book twice (I have way too many waiting to be read and just can’t spare the time)...unless, of course, it’s as remarkable as this fast-paced murder mystery, which I’ve read three times (the first time was in my teen years). This is the first book I read from Agatha Christie, and the reason I became a huge fan of her stories. Years later, it still remains my favourite of her novels.

If you’re looking for a really great whodunit, this is the book for you. And if you can figure out ‘who’ and ‘how’ before the author spells it out for you, you are a super sleuth!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Elegant White Flowers

“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”
- Robert Brault -

White in the garden is one of the most elegant shades. This is the lovely Acea rosea ‘Chaters Double Mix’.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy National Hugging Day

In case you didn’t know, today is National Hugging day; a day where people are encouraged to show more emotion in public. It was created by Rev. Kevin Zaborney in 1986. He chose January 21 because it’s midway between Christmas and Valentine’s day, a period where people are at an emotional low.

Hugs are good for us; they are a positive contribution to our emotional and physiological well-being. Studies show that hugs can build a good immune system, trigger the release of healthy hormones , decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improve overall mood, increase nerve activity, and a host of other beneficial effects.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and hug someone (although I’d ask first if it’s a stranger).

Saturday Silliness

Time for some humor...


A farmer got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding, and the trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed and, in general, began to throw his weight around to try to make the farmer uncomfortable.

Finally, the trooper got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing that he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head.

The farmer said, "Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?"

The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said "Well yeah, if that's what they are - I never heard of circle flies."

So the farmer says, "Well, circle flies are common on farms. See, they're called circle flies because they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse."

The trooper says, "Oh," and goes back to writing the ticket. Then after a minute he stops and says, "Hey… wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse's ass?"

The farmer says, "Oh no, Officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horse's ass."

The trooper says, "Well, that's a good thing," and goes back to writing the ticket.

After a long pause, the farmer says, "Hard to fool them flies though."

It's All Free

An 85 year old couple, having been married almost 60 years, had died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years mainly due to her interest in health food, and exercise. When they reached the pearly gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen and master bath suite and Jacuzzi. As they "oohed and aahed" the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.

"It`s free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."

Next they went out back to survey the championship golf course that the home backed up to. They would have golfing privileges everyday and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth.

The old man asked, "what are the green fees?".

Peter`s reply, "This is heaven, you play for free."

Next they went to the club house and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the cuisines of the world laid out.

"How much to eat?" asked the old man.

"Don`t you understand yet? This is heaven, it is free!" Peter replied with some exasperation.

"Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol tables?" the old man asked timidly.

Peter lectured, "That`s the best part...you can eat as much as you like of whatever you like and you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."

With that the old man went into a fit of anger, throwing down his hat and stomping on it, shrieking wildly. Peter and his wife both tried to calm him down, asking him what was wrong. The old man looked at his wife and said, "This is all your fault! If it weren`t for your blasted bran muffins, I could have been here ten years ago!"

Friday, January 20, 2012


Native to the rainforests of South America, mainly Peru, Fittonias belong to the family Acanthaceae (Acanthus), which contains about 250 genera and 2500 species. This family includes familiar indoor favourites such as Aphelandra Squarrosa (Zebra Plant), Crossandra Infundibuliformis (Firecracker Flower), Hypoestes Phyllostachya (Polka Dot Plant) and Strobilanthes Dyerianus (Persian Shield), some of which are not the easiest to grow with their need for high humidity.

Fittonias are highly-prized for their ornamental foliage. The plants are easily recognized by their network of white, pink or red prominently-veined, oval leaves and fuzz-covered stems. Although they are extremely attractive and difficult to resist at the greenhouse, these cool-looking specimens can prove quite challenging if you do not meet their care requirements.

What makes Fittonias a little more difficult than many other popular houseplants is their need for a high level of surrounding humidity and a constant temperature, both of which are often difficult to provide in the average home. But since they are often sold for just a couple of dollars in 4” pots, you may want to give these decorative plants a try.

First and foremost, a high level of humidity is absolutely essential and cannot be compromised. Fittonias cannot tolerate dry air and they will deteriorate quickly if humidity levels plummet. If your home resembles the Sahara Desert, remedy the situation by adding a humidifier nearby, by placing the plants on pebble trays filled with water, by double-potting and filling the spaces between the containers with moist peat, by grouping plants together to form a microclimate with higher humidity or by growing the plants in a room naturally higher in humidity, such as a bathroom. You may also want to consider growing your Fittonias in a terrarium or in a bottle garden.

As much as humanly possible, maintain a constant temperature. Depending on the source, recommendations differ on what the ideal temperature range should be for Fittonias. My suggestion is to grow these plants where levels are between 18°C (64°F) and 23°C (73°F) - not too cold and not too hot. A slightly lower temperature may be tolerated but it should not be allowed to drop below 15°C (59°F). Additionally, because the leaves of Fittonias are quite thin, I’d also recommend avoiding hot, dry locations that can cause rapid transpiration (the evaporation of water from the aerial parts of plants).

Pot up your plants in an airy, fast-draining medium and always keep them evenly moist during the spring and summer seasons. Reduce watering in the winter when growth slows down. Never allow the plants to dry out completely or they will wilt considerably. If this happens, water thoroughly; your plants will bounce back quickly. Always use tepid water.

One feature that makes Fittonias very attractive houseplants is their ability to tolerate low light quite well, and continue to look good. This is quite true, although I wouldn’t place these plants – or any other for that matter - in very dim areas. Place your Fittonias in moderately-lit areas such as up against a north window or in any shady section of your home near decent lighting. Aside from direct sun, every other level of light can be handled.

After a year or two, your plants may begin to look unattractive. No problem. Just take cuttings, which root easily, and start new plants. The growing tips of older specimens should be pinched off regularly to keep the plants shrubby and attractive.

Fittonias In Hydroculture

The union of these plants and the hydroculture growing style is truly a blissful one - after the dramatic conversion. Fittonias literally faint when they are transferred from soil to clay pellets, as you can see from the image below.

If you can handle the emotional transition, which is temporary, the end result will be worth it. Hydroculture will eliminate the water juggling act; no more over or under watering.

To reduce the extensive wilting that these plants can suffer, scrub the roots completely free of soil and place the stems in a glass of water until new roots develop. Once the water roots are formed, transfer to the clay pellets.

Or, pot the plants up immediately in the clay medium, but keep the water level high enough so that the roots are constantly immersed. When the water roots emerge, lower the water level.

No matter which style of conversion you choose, try to provide high levels of humidity during this period to help your plants get through the transition with as little stress as possible. And, if you are immersing the root system directly in water until new roots form, change the water regularly to keep it fresh.

It’s best to try and maintain constant temperatures and high humidity, both of which will keep your plants much happier. Many sources also suggest that the miniature-sized (or dwarf) Fittonias are easier to grow, so you might want to start with one of those. I’ve grown many different kinds – large and small – and honestly don’t see a difference. They all seem to require ample humidity to grow happily.

Sunny Side Up

“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.”
- Jim Henson -

This week’s sunny side up is a video of my two favourite muppets, Statler and Waldorf (the hecklers on the balcony), competing with comedian Milton Berle for the last laugh...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tune Time - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

If you were around in the 70s, there’s no doubt you are familiar with this pop song from ‘The New Seekers’ that originated as a jingle in the groundbreaking 1971 "Hilltop" television commercial for Coca-Cola. It is a positive message of hope and love that is sung by a multicultural collection of young people standing on top of a hill. The full-length song, which dropped references to Coca-Cola, became a hit record, reaching #1 in the U.K. and #7 in the United States.

So many years have passed and I still enjoy listening to it.

And here’s the Coca Cola version:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today's Trivia - What’s In A Name?

Many familiar fictional characters are only known by their nicknames. But what are their actual names? The list below provides the answers...

Television, Film

The Lone Ranger - John Reid

MacGyver's first name - Angus

Peppermint Patty from Peanuts - Patricia Reichardt

The Professor (Gilligan's Island) - Roy Hinkley

Shaggy (Scooby-Doo) - Norville Rogers

Snuffleupagus (Sesame Street) – Aloysius Snuffleupagus

The Wizard of Oz - Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs

The White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland 2010) - Nivens McTwisp

Comic Book Guy (The Simpsons) - Jeff Albertson

The Man With the Yellow Hat (Curious George) - Ted Shackleford

Bull (Night Court) - Nostradamus Shannon

Game show host Guy Smiley (Sesame Street) - Bernie Liederkrantz

The Skipper (Gilligan's Island) - Jonas Grumby

Cookie Monster (Sesame Street) - Sid

Casper The Friendly Ghost - Casper McFadden
Bernie Liederkrantz

Toys, Games

Barbie - Barbara Millicent Roberts

Ken (Mattel doll) - Ken Carson

Monopoly policeman - Officer Edgar Mallory

Monopoly mascot Rich Uncle Pennybags - Milburn Pennybags

The patient in the classic Operation game - Cavity Sam

Cavity Sam


Cap'n Crunch - Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch (His ship is the S.S. Guppy)

Michelin Man - Bibendum

Mr. Clean's first name - Veritably

Rich Uncle Pennybags from Monopoly - Milburn Pennybags

Pillsbury Doughboy - Poppin' Fresh (He has a wife, Poppie Fresh, and two kids, Popper and Bun Bun)
Mr. Veritably Clean
And finally, here's a trivia bonus: In a Sesame Street scene that never aired, Snuffy's parents announced they were separating. But in testing, children were too devastated by the news, so the idea was scrapped.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book It – The Help

This week’s featured book:

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

Overview: (from the author’s website)

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

My Comments:

This is one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It is the story about African American maids working in white households in Jackson Mississippi in the early 1960s. Writing from the point of view of numerous characters, and combining fact and fiction, Kathryn Stockett has done a remarkable job of weaving a tale that depicts a turbulent era. At times humorous and fun, at other times serious and intriguing, this is an unforgettable story. If you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy today. But be careful; once you start this story, you won’t be able to put it down...

25 Things That Make Me Smile

Below are a few things that put a smile on my face...

1) Butterflies

2) Greeting cards

3) Bubble baths

4) Scented candles

5) Receiving mail

6) Baby feet

7) Lightning

8) New books

9) The smell of cookies baking in the oven

10) Spring’s first sprouts

11) Candy shops

12) Finding an old toy from my childhood

13) The sound of autumn leaves crunching under my shoes

14) When someone gives up their seat to someone who needs it

15) Strolling through thrift shops

16) Bees

17) Dragonflies

18) Baby animals

19) Dr. Seuss stories

20) Silly slippers

21) Babies wearing sunglasses

22) Lit birthday candles

23) Old photographs

24) Rainbows

25) Elderly couples walking down the street holding hands

What makes you smile?