Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And, Now for a Bit of Levity


This is titled, Mrs. Brown gets a Bikini Wax and maybe considered a bit risky.
So don't tell me I didn't warn ya!

Earthquake near Chalk River, ON Nuclear Power Plant 3/29/11

3.5-magnitude quake near Ontario nuclear facility - Canada - Canoe.ca

The Gardening Shall Begin

Yesterday was the first day I felt like maybe Mother Earth was starting to awaken from her frozen nap. It's wasn't because of the sunshine, as there was not much. No UV warning from Environment Canada that's for sure. They are the watchdog for skin cancers with their warnings of the UV index and the sometimes "we got the weather right" national weather forecasts. By afternoon it was just grey, overcast and had a cold wind blowing in from the northwest. Required me putting up my hood and putting on my thick winter gloves. I don't think we were ever on the plus side of the thermometer. It was cold, windy and not alot like Spring.

But... I still felt as though the world was awakening. Maybe it's the birds. More birds have returned from down south and a more diverse gathering of birds are at our bird feeders. Whole huge flocks are stopping by. The robins are definitely back and are building their nests. The wild beautiful call of the Canadian geese is heard everywhere. You are turning to scan the sky to find them as they fly overhead in their "V" formations.

So what was it which found me out in the garden wandering and looking and feeling? Was it those little nubbins of rhubarb I saw poking up from the soil? The harbinger of Spring to a gardener? Or, was I just so tired of winter I had to be out and about "doing" in the garden. I weeded, I pruned, I turned some soil and then I turned the compost pile. And, it felt dang good!

Here I stand, my arms flung wide, yelling out loud ...... "WELCOME SPRING!"
Psst.... and don't be dragging your feet anymore. Okay?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Congratulations Neil Young



Neil Young appeared at the Juno Awards for the first time in nearly three decades Saturday to accept the adult alternative album of the year prize at a dinner gala. The 65-year-old Toronto-born rock legend received a standing ovation from the assembled crowd at the Junos. He just recently won a Grammy in the States in the best rock song category for "Angry World," a tune from his album "Le Noise."
His new album, "Le Noise" is absolute Neil Young. If you are a fan... it's a must buy or, even if you aren't a fan.... you should listen to this album.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Computer Crashes and Pictures

I had a crash on my computer couple of months ago and like everyone said and I didn't take notice of.... "do yourself a favor and backup your files".
Well I didn't.
It took me forever and a day to rebuild the computer from the ground up.
(You're looking at someone who has never had any training in doing this sort of thing, so I had my work cut out for me.)
I thought thru the crash and burn scenario and then the entire rebuild that somehow, someway I had been able to save some of my files.
It took me a long time to figure out yes they had gotten saved and then took another long while to find where those files had gotten stored. Just a couple of days ago I found my pictures.
Most important to me were the pictures.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words.
Whoever "they" is... they are right.
I was going thru those pictures and came upon some shots of last year's garden.
Man oh man does it look lush and healthy.
I am starting to get excited about this year's garden.

Doesn't it look good? I only hope this year's garden follows in the same vein.

PS Seedlings under the lights now include; cabbage, brussels sprouts, marigolds, peppers, swiss chard, another type of pepper, dill and parsley. Ground is tarped where we will be tilling for some in-ground gardens. We will be doubling our garden space this year. I must be mad to do this I keep telling myself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring's Seedlings 2011
















I finally got my arse in gear and started some seeds for this year's veggie garden. I have been very lucky and have had approx. a 100% germination rate with all my seeds. If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you will know I seed save from one year to the next. (At least I think I have written of this more than once.) With that being said.... here's a couple of pictures of my "lil babies".

Monday, March 21, 2011

Blah and Phooey!

Phooey? Yup you got that right. Phooey!
After a week of semi normal temperatures heralding Spring's possible arrival, this morning it is snowing.

Oh no, I thought we were done with the white stuff???!!!???
It's not like it's a light little flake falling out there.
No it's those huge fluffy flakes which accumulates inches in mere minutes.
It's only been snowing about 2 hours and we have about 10 cms already on the ground.
That's roughly an inch an hour.

The ground where you could see green grass everywhere, well mostly brown grass, just yesterday is now covered in a blanket of white.
Phooey!

And, to prove I am really actually looking forward to Spring and all that entails, I have posted some outside (phooey) and inside (Spring has sprung) pictures for your enjoyment.
That's a morning dove and a house finch digging through the snow for bird seed. Picture is a bit blurry as it's snowing! Notice the amount of snow....?
And, the seedlings I am showing under my grow lights are brussel sprouts and cabbage which popped up yesterday. Nice, eh? A big happy sigh :)


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring's Vernal Equinox and the Full Moon

Spring begins with the vernal equinox on March 20 at exactly 7:21 P.M. EDT.

The vernal, or spring, equinox is the point at which the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator from south to north, signaling the beginning of nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere. The word “equinox” is derived from the Latin for “equal night” and is used now because the days and nights are of (nearly) equal length. Enjoy the longer days!

In winter, I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way:
I have to go to bed by day.

–Robert Louis Stevenson (185094)


The Moon

As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter. This full moon and whatever you want to call it is the last moon till 2029 which will be this close to the earth.


Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Late...

I am sorry I have been a bit under the weather with a sinus headache today.
I have since the age I can remember clearly (approx. 4 or 5) suffered with sinuses.
I almost always get them when the weather is going to be changing.... a high to a low pressure system (or, is that low to high?) causes me to want to drop right off the face of the earth. I have been known to say.... just chop my head off and I'll feel better. Oh the pounding...

I had a pre-planned get together with a friend today and it's all I could do to make it thru our luncheon.
I suffered in silence, only mentioned it briefly once. Then carried on.
After she left.... I went to bed in the hopes I would have a new head when I awoke.
Nope didn't happen. Still have the headache.

I am signing off as my eyes are blurring.
Hope this weather system passes soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally remained a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.

Today, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.

Chicago is famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week!

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Now each year in New York City nearly three million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants.




Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Corned Beef with Cabbage and Irish Whiskey - Day 4


This traditional Irish dish is the centerpiece for many a St. Patrick's Day table. Corned beef takes a long, lovely simmer with potatoes, cabbage, carrots and here with Irish whiskey.

3 pound corned beef w/spice packet
1 head of cabbage, core left in and cut into eighths
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 - 5 Carrots, Peeled and chopped
1.5 fluid ounce of Irish whiskey





Place the beef brisket and contents of the spice packet into a pot and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for about 2 hours. Add the cabbage, carrots and potatoes, and simmer over low heat for 2 more hours. Stir in the whiskey when it is almost done. Check the water level occasionally and replace as needed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Leprechauns - Day 3


The Legend of the Leprechaun
By Sheri Amon

Oh, the leprechaun, a mysterious fellow,
An Irish fairy he be.
An unfriendly sort who keeps to himself,
A miserly fellow is he.

Making shoes for his living, not a bit does he spend,
Instead stores it all in a pot.
At the end of the rainbow his hiding place is,
And to find it will bring you good luck.

If you happen to hear a shoemaker's hammer,
tis the sound that a leprechaun makes.
Find him and corner him,
he'll tell you his secret,
If a stare you can maintain.

Look not away for this fairy is tricky,
He'll attempt to sway your glance.
Gone will he be, look away for a moment,
And you'll lose your one only chance.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 2 - Guinness

Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake

(makes 6+ servings)

Ingredients:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness

Directions:
1. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, sugar, and butter and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
2. Melt the chocolate in the cream in a double boiler.
3. Cream the cream cheese.
4. Mix in the sugar, chocolate, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and Guinness.
5. Pour the mixture into the spring form pans.
6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 60 minutes.
7. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 60 minutes.
8. Let it cool completely.
9. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Week of all Things Irish



I am 1/2 Irish and 1/2 Italian. (Wonder what I will do for an Italian week and when I'll be doing that?) and thought a week of blogging about Irish things would be a nice.

Hmm.... leprechauns? Irish whiskey? the band U2? Guinness beer? a recipe for corned beef and cabbage? St. Patrick? soda bread? favorite actor, Liam Neeson?


And, to start this week off here is the finale from the show Riverdance.

Erin Go Bragh! (Ireland Forever)






Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nuclear Power Plants

My dear sweet niece asked a question of me. We had been emailing about the Japanese earthquake. Here is what she asked specifically.... "What could trouble with their nuclear plants mean for us??"

Here's what I wrote her.
All nuclear plants are boiling water reactors. They use water to cool the reactors. To cool the reactors, you need power. So, here's the story and the way in which this disaster is occurring.
After the quake the reactors shut down due to the loss of their offsite power due to a malfunction.
That triggered the emergency diesel generators to startup and provide backup power for plant systems. About an hour after the plant shut down, however, the emergency diesel generators stopped, leaving Units 1, 2 and 3 with no power for that all important cooling function.
The nuclear plant brought in mobile generators to restore the power supply, but pressure inside of Unit 1 continued to increase. Which meant it was not being cooled.
Early today the plant said it had lost the ability to control pressure at the No. 1 and 2 reactors.
Now if you followed all of the above, here comes the worrying part.

NORMAL OPERATIONS
* In a reactor operating normally, pumps circulate water through the reactor core to keep the rods from overheating. The temperature inside a reactor operating normally is about 550 degrees F (285 C).
* When a reactor shuts, pumps continue to move water over the fuel rods. The electricity to run the pumps usually comes from off-site power supplies brought in by transmission lines.
But, if the power lines fail, the plants have more and other on-site power sources, including backup diesel generators and batteries. Which as we now know are no longer working.

Okay here is the bad part.

An unchecked rise in temperature (no cooling happening) could cause the core to essentially turn into a molten mass that could burn through the reactor walls. This may lead to a release of an unchecked amount of radiation into the containment building that surrounds the reactor. And, thus to the outside. Which is what they are saying this morning has happened.

The outer structure of the building that houses the reactor appears to have blown off, which could suggest the containment building has been breached. (a reactor is usually built within walls and then placed with another set of walls. So walls within walls as a safety measure.)

Earlier a plant operator released what it said was a tiny amount of radioactive steam to reduce the pressure and the danger within the reactor was minimal because tens of thousands of people had already been evacuated from the vicinity. How far is far enough away?

Okay so now you have an unknown amount of radiation leakage which can cause radiation sickness. Below is what that is all about and why the world is worrying.

Radiation sickness is generally associated with an acute (a single large) exposure. Nausea and vomiting are usually the main symptoms. The amount of time between exposure to radiation and the onset of the initial symptoms may be an indicator of how much radiation was absorbed,as symptoms appear sooner with higher doses of exposure. The symptoms of radiation sickness become more serious (and the chance of survival decreases) as the dosage of radiation increases. A few symptom-free days may pass between the appearance of the initial symptoms and the onset of symptoms of more severe illness associated with higher doses of radiation. Nausea and vomiting generally occur within 24–48 hours after exposure to mild doses of radiation. Radiation damage to the intestinal tract lining will cause nausea, bloody vomiting and diarrhea. This occurs when the victim's exposure is 200 rems or more. The radiation will begin to destroy the cells in the body that divide rapidly. These including blood, GI tract, reproductive and hair cells, and harms their DNA and RNA of surviving cells. Headache, fatigue, and weakness are also seen with mild exposure. Moderate exposure is associated with nausea and vomiting beginning within 12–24 hours after exposure. In addition to the symptoms of mild exposure, fever, hair loss, infections, bloody vomit and stools, and poor wound healing are seen with moderate exposure. Nausea and vomiting occur in less than 1 hour after exposure to severe doses of radiation, followed by diarrhea and high fever in addition to the symptoms of lower levels of exposure. Very severe exposure is followed by the onset of nausea and vomiting in less than 30 minutes followed by the appearance of dizziness, disorientation, and low blood pressure in addition to the symptoms of lower levels of exposure. Severe exposure is fatal about 50% of the time.

Then I went on to say why I favored solar power above and beyond nuclear power. Did you know? The American government is talking of building nuclear power plants in California. Isn't there a major fault line located along about the entire coast line called the "San-Andreas" fault?

Does anyone else remember the 1979 movie, "The China Syndrome" with Jane Fonda and Micheal Douglas?

Friday, March 11, 2011

This is too funny....

www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLLy_1Z8LgY

Just make sure to turn down the sound before you start the video.
The wind blowing makes the video's sound hard to hear.
It can become a nuisance.

Enjoy and marvel.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Discovery's Landing

http://bcove.me/cafo82gr
The last return trip of the shuttle Discovery from space.
Now it's off to the Smithsonian for this old girl.
I for one am glad she's going to a good retirement home.
Bet she has lots of visitors.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Noticing Veggie Prices in Stores?

The Pacific’s cold La Nina brought chilly weather to the West. Then there was in the north, the negative Arctic Oscillation allowing the freezing polar air mass to sink south, into the United States. Followed by to the east, the Atlantic was in the grip of a lethal weather pattern—the negative North Atlantic Oscillation which was driving the cold all the way to Florida.

The Florida crop was frozen in January, so consumers turned to supplies from Arizona and Mexico. Then in early February, Mexico and the Southwest were hit with the worst freeze in over fifty years. The final straw was the Groundhog Day blizzard which killed all the tomato crops in Florida and Mexico.

The major casualties of all this ugly weather have been beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, squash, and tomatoes. And eggplants: Just try to find eggplants! The lettuce is being salvaged by stripping off the damaged outer leaves, so expect to find smaller heads at your grocery stores.

This shortage is not just in America. Globally, this has been an awful year for vegetables. Last October, the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper was reporting a shortage of tomatoes in the Middle East, where the vegetable is a staple in the local diet. The price of tomatoes had tripled in Turkey and increased eightfold in Israel. The newspaper also reported that Egyptians were staging street protests over the cost of tomatoes.

Here’s the good news. The next harvest of vegetables should begin to appear in stores in late March. Spring is coming and the deadly weather trio is backing off: The La NiƱa is fading and the NAO and AO are positive.

Most of the crop supplies will be recovered by April, although you may have to wait until May for juicy beefsteak tomatoes. Meanwhile, the tough little cabbages survived everything that Mother Nature cooked up. I am thinking cole slaw, cabbage soup and ,cabbage rolls are going on my dinner menu here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vinegar Tips Continued

Kitchen

  • Trash disposal cleaner – Mix one cup vinegar with one pitcher water and freeze in the refrigerator. The vinegar ice cubes can then be run through the disposal and flushed with cold water. You will have cleaner and odor-free garbage disposal!
  • Refrigerator cleaner - Mix equal parts of water and vinegar for a cleaning solution. Alternatively, place a cup of apple cider vinegar inside the refrigerator to absorb the odors in two day’s time.
  • Wood Cutting Boards – If you run out of baking soda, substitute full-strength white distilled vinegar for odor-free and germ-free cutting boards.
  • Brass polish – Make a paste by mixing one teaspoon salt, one cup vinegar and flour. Apply the vinegar paste directly on metal cooking pots and pans and let it stand for 15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse with lukewarm water and then polish until these are sufficiently dry to hang.
  • One of the best vinegar uses in the kitchen, however, is as “green” ant and insect repellent. Just wash kitchen counter-tops and cabinets with vinegar to repel ants and insects.

    Lawn and Garden

  • Grass killer – Grass is good when it grows where you want them to. For undesirable grass growth, however, pouring full-strength white distilled vinegar will curb it. This also goes for weeds in plant plots; just pour on their tops though.
  • Soil Acidity Enhancer – Mix in 1 cup of vinegar into a gallon of tap water, which can then be used to water acid loving plants.
  • Flower Preservative – Instead of just plain water, add 2 tablespoons each of sugar and vinegar for every quart of water. This mixture ought to keep the flowers longer.
  • Arguably, the best use for vinegar in the garden is as alternative plant fertilizer. Just combine water and vinegar in 8:1 ratio in one mixture. In a separate container, combine sugar and water in 1:8 ratio. Then combine the two mixtures together and use as plant fertilizer. Only apply as long as necessary to revive plant health.
  • Monday, March 7, 2011

    SOAP SAVER

    Buying a bar of soap may not be expensive, depending on the brand, but what do you do with that little sliver too small to use? You throw it away.

    Don’t do that. Save it. I know this sounds a little crazy and maybe a little extreme, but, remember you are saving those pennies.

    • Take the soap pieces and put them into a zip lock bag. And store in a cool dry place.

    • When the bag is full, put the pieces into a double boiler and melt them, slowly. Pour the mixture into a nonstick baking dish and let set. If you don’t have a nonstick baking dish, then lightly grease a glass dish. Use olive oil, preferably, not shortening or butter.

    • Cut into squares or rectangles and wrap individually with cling or saran wrap before complete hardened. I waited too long and I had to reheat it so I could cut it.

    • Optional, after the soap is melted add a little food color, or if you want a scrubbing bar, add some oatmeal. Not the quick cooking kind.

    This works, even if you buy different brands of soap, it will all mix together.

    You can make soap last 50% longer. When you buy your favorite soap, open both ends of the paper of each bar. Soap should dry for 30 days and it will last 50% longer while in use. As it is drying, place in the linen closet, dresser drawer, or wherever, it acts as a sachet.

    Hope these help you save some pennies. Because you know every penny counts.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    John Travolta Dance Scene in 'Michael'


    It's Saturday and it's raining outside...bear with me here.

    Do you remember this scene from Micheal?
    It stars one of my favorite actors, John Travolta?
    All the women in the bar are attracted to him like bees to honey and, boy does that piss off the men.

    Anyway....
    I like where the waitress dances through the scene about 3/4 of the way through the song and joins the throng.
    She's got a tray loaded with beers and doesn't drop nary a one. Yeah, yeah, yeah.... I know it's Hollywood.

    This movie is 15 years old, can you imagine?
    I love it's sound track... in fact got it on CD.
    Also have the DVD. Or, is it a VCR of the movie?
    I can't really remember as it was a long time ago and far, far away. 


    addendum: Jan. 7, 2014
    Since I posted this, I have come back to find the video no longer plays.  
    Hope this works for you instead; 

    Copy and paste the link into your browser. 

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glz1OfXbc_0

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Recent Baking







    I realized the other day, I haven't posted anything about food and my endeavors for quite awhile.
    I just downloaded a few pictures that DH has been taking. (He's really proud of what I can do in the kitchen. Which makes me pleased and happy someone appreciates my baking skills)
    The pictures are of;
    A blueberry (diabetic) pie with meringue topping.
    An artisanal whole wheat/olive oil bread.
    An I got nothing special in the pantry pie.
    Loaf of caraway rye bread.
    All were very yummy and nothing went to waste.
    Or, I should say... they all went to my waist! :)

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Ever Been to Talk to a Politician?

    Politician, hmm.....what a topic for today.

    I am going to have to go and talk to our local MP, well his assistant anyway. MP stands for Member of Parliament for my American followers. I have never ever, ever had to do anything like this before in my life.

    Anyone got any hints or, tips on how-to?

    Since I tend to get tongue tied in times of stress and am also a bit reclusive and shy.... should I take note cards to refer to? A planned speech? Do I dress up? In a dress (egad!) and heels? Oh no way can I do that. It's just not me. But, then I guess jeans are sort of out of the question.... or, are they? Kidding, here just kidding. I guess dressing as though I were going to work would suffice????

    Anyone got any hints or, tips on how-to?

    See I am already getting stressed as I am repeating myself. I got to go and relax.... I really am stressing.

    Little old me...

    My photo
    Canada
    An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.

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