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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Acorns and Potato Flowers Acorns dangle from oak trees to kiss summer flowers goodbye. With the weather still summery warm, it’s hard to believe that in nine days, fall officially begins. My backyard reflects the coming change. Summer vegetable plants look forlorn and have slowed down their production. Bird feeders require almost daily refills. Squirrels scamper back and forth on the branches of my Japanese maple tree, looking for food and breaking branches as they go. The seasons of my life seem to pass by faster and faster. I’m reluctant to let another season in my life go by, but fall approaches and it deserves to be fully appreciated.

#1 – Foiling Squirrels
Snack Bag Squirrel Deterrent If you look closely at this picture you’ll notice two shiny decorations. As mentioned above, the squirrels have been wreaking havoc in my Japanese maple tree. One night while watching television and eating Skinny Pop with my husband, I came up with an idea. Many snacks, like potato chips and popcorn, come in Mylar bags. Instead of throwing the empty bags away, I rinsed them out and cut them open along the sides. Using clothes pins, I fastened the bags in strategic places to my tree. Every couple of days, I try to outwit the squirrels and move the bags around. So far, so good – no new piles of broken branches on the ground. The only downside to this is trying to explain the “decorations” to visitors.

#2 – Ten on One Page
Infographics Infographics make complex or large amounts of information more understandable. Lifehacker’s Top 10 Infographics and Cheat Sheets That Make Life Easier provides information ranging from how to remove stains to what to do when you get pulled over!

#3 – Print Ads
Clever Ads Maybe I like these 24 Clever Print Ads because I know people in the advertising business or maybe it’s because I’m intrigued with the idea of communicating messages via images. Using the power of a single image, see if these ads grab your attention.

#4 – Do You Eat Store-Bought Cereal Every Morning?
enhanced-buzz-16162-1375889707-9 Well, if you do, you may want to think twice before you discard empty cereal boxes. As seen in this BuzzFeed article 31 Things You Can Make Out of Cereal Boxes, a little bit of cardboard goes a long way!

#5 – Take Charge
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Jim Rohn

Enjoy these last days of summer!

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Garden Spider Image Helen, named after the main character in a children’s book, makes picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers in my garden a challenging experience. People with arachnophobia would avoid this task, since Helen, a large garden spider, has woven a three-foot by six-foot web around the plants. As I look at her work, I recall reading Be Nice To Spiders to my children several decades ago. The storyline revolves around Helen, a spider, who provides many useful services to a zoo. My quandary is what I should do with my new pest-guest and her giant web? Should I destroy it and relocate her or should I just leave her alone and let her do her job?

#1 – Time to Move On
Left undisturbed, Helen, the spider, moved on within two days of my discovering her. Perhaps it was the constant clicking of my camera shutter that annoyed her? How do most of us know when it’s time to move on in our lives? Marc and Angel Hack Life wrote an article titled 9 Reasons It’s Time to Move On that’s filled with insightful and motivating thoughts.

#2 – Chalk It Up!
DIY Chalkboard Projects Chalkboard paint projects are popping up everywhere, from walls to furniture to wine glasses. There’s no reason not to have fun with this product. Here are a few articles to rev up your creativity:

8 Easy Chalkboard Paint DIYs to Try
20 Ways to Use Chalkboard Paint
22 DIY Chalkboard Projects

#3 -Something to Smile About
Mona Lisa image Here’s a short and fun art history lesson by art historian Kathy Galitz. Watch this 3-minute video from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she examines the meaning of smiles during different time periods. We can never learn enough about the world of art, can we?

#4 – Mom’s Recipes
Hand-Written Dutch Apple Cake Recipe I felt like I had discovered lost treasure, when I stumbled upon this flickr site. Someone named Phil scanned and shared all the recipes in his mother’s extensive recipe collection. When I look at the images of handwritten recipes on worn index cards and yellowed newspaper clippings, I appreciate the slice (pun intended) of history and nostalgia that they represent. Plus, I’ve found a few more recipes to try!

#5 – Catching Love
“The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself like a spider in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.”
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Enjoy your weekend!

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Carpenter Bee Bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz-bzzzzzz . . . ah-choo! A large black bee darted quickly in and out of squash blossoms. If a bee could sneeze, I imagine this one would, because it was covered from head to tail in pollen (click on the photo to see all the pollen). After hearing gardeners complain of low vegetable yields due to lack of pollination, I’m happy to have this bee in my garden. However, I’m not so thrilled to learn that it’s a carpenter bee, the type of bee that burrows into wood!

#1 – The Ultimate Packing List
If you are planning on doing some serious traveling, you will want to check out The Ultimate Packing List for Full-Time Travel by the Professional Hobo. She lists what she takes, why she takes them, and where you can purchase these items.

#2 – The Second Time Around
Repurposing Ideas If you have imagination, most things can have more than one life or one purpose. Some of the ideas in the article Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff I’ve seen before, but that’s probably because they are really great ideas and have been well-circulated. Thanks to creative people who continually find new ways to reuse things!

#3 – A Slice of Time
Chinatown Sunset, 2013 by Fong Qi Wei Photographer Fong Qi Wei places an emphasis on time in his collection of work called Time is a Dimension. His photographs reveal landscapes, cityscapes, and seascapes during a 2 to 4 hour period, rather than just a moment in time.

#4 – Shelf Life
This infographic reminds me of my daughter. On occasion she’ll call to ask if I think a particular item in her refrigerator or pantry is okay to eat beyond its stated date. If you, too, are confused with all the dates marked on food packaging, then make sure to read the section at the bottom titled, “What’s the Deal With Expiration Dates?”

The Shelf Life of Food

#5 – Life
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith

Have a great weekend!

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Praying Mantis ImageOh! Hello, young praying mantis. Would you mind holding that pose while I run inside to get my camera and tripod? Minutes later, I came out to find my new garden friend still sitting there on a leaf by my front door. As my camera lens zoomed in on him, I saw one of his five eyeballs rotate towards me and I noticed the slight up and down bobbing of his curled tail. I’m still experimenting with the macro aspect of my new camera, but fortunately I’ve found a “willing” subject to pose for me!

#1 – Praying Mantis Trivia
Praying Mantis Image In case you’re like me and you think it’s always good to know a little something about everything, here’s some interesting information about these fascinating creatures from the site ThePrayingMantis.org:

A. The word “mantis” comes from the Greek word meaning prophet.

B. The earliest fossils of the praying mantis are from Oligocene, a geologic epoch dating around 23 to 34 million years ago.

C. The praying mantis has excellent eyesight and can see up to about 50 feet away.

D. The praying mantis is the only insect that can rotate its alien-like head almost completely around!

E. In most mantids there is one ear in a form of a small slit near the legs and has two eardrums and tuned to 25-60 kHz, which allows them to hear the ultrasonic sounds of bats as they near so they can dodge them quickly.

F. The praying mantis is actually more closely related to the cockroach than to grasshoppers!

G. A State Insect? Yes, it is true. The European Mantis (mantis religiosa), a native of Southern Europe became the official State Insect of Connecticut on October 1st, 1977!

#2 – A Happy Home
Entry way bench No matter where you live or what your state insect is, being happy in your home adds joy to life. The site Hooked on Houses posted this list of 10 Ways To Be Happy At Home:

1. Stop resenting what your house isn’t and start appreciating what it is. There is always something to be thankful for!

2. Respect it enough not to clutter it up with things you don’t really like or need.

3. Have a comfortable chair in a quiet corner where you can read and recharge.

4. Turn the TV off and your favorite music on.

5. Keep fresh flowers on your kitchen windowsill in glass jars or bud vases.

6. Try eating dinner by candlelight, with music, for no special reason. And use your best dishes.

7. Create character where there isn’t any – crown molding works wonders!

8. Surround yourself with your favorite “happy colors,” whether they’re trendy or not.

9. Display something from your childhood that you treasure.

10. Don’t try to replicate the look of a model home. Strive to create spaces that exude warmth, love, comfort, and peace.

The author then asked for readers’ input which led to an additional 20 More Ways To Be Happy At Home.

#3 – The Pixel Painter

Art by Hal Lasko

Art by Hal Lasko

97-year-old Hal Lasko is an incredible and inspirational man. He is now blind and deaf, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what what he loves to do – create art. An online article about Lasko says this: Using an outdated version of Microsoft Paint, Hal Lasko is able to create anything from pixelated nature-inspired sceneries, animal portraits or abstract pieces. Building works of art pixel by pixel is a time-consuming process, but 97-year-old Grandpa says he has learned to be patient and never rush the creative process.

Prints of Mr. Lasko’s art are for sale with 10% of the proceeds going to Veterans of Foreign War programs.

#4 – Mah Jong Addiction
Mah Jong After my husband helped my mom upgrade her computer software, she complained that she didn’t like the new computer Mah Jong game he installed. There was one specific version she liked for its layout. After some searching, he found a compatible version for her to try. She’s very happy with it, but the only problem now is . . . he and I can’t stop playing it. Rev up those brain cells and try playing this Mah Jong game, but tell yourself you’ll only play it once! Click here for a link to a video on how to play the game.

#5 – Life
“Don’t go through life; grow through life.”
Eric Butterworth

Have a great weekend!

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Bathing Birds The lyrics “Splish, Splash, I was taking a bath . . . ” played in my head as I watched a Mourning Dove and a Lesser Goldfinch shake and shimmy while bathing in the cool waters of my backyard fountain. With triple-digit temperatures predicted for the next couple of days, I have no doubt that the fountain will be a HOT spot for my backyard friends!

#1 – Hot Weather Tips
Hot days create dangerous conditions for pets. If you have a pet, refresh your hot weather knowledge by reading these articles:
ASPCA’s Hot Weather Tips
Keep Your Pet Cool During Dog Days of Summer
How to Cool Your Cat Down in the Summer

#2 – Travel Smart

Travel Tips

Use straws to bring small amounts of liquid with you

Whether traveling near or far, you are sure to find at least one travel tip you’ll want to try from the article 14 Clever Travel Hacks To Make Your Trip Awesome.

#3 – Can You Unlock the Lock?
If you’ve ever imagined yourself being as clever as Sherlock Holmes, you’ll want to try playing CombinationLock. With a timer ticking away, you’re given clues to determine the lock’s 3-digit combination. Additional clues can be requested to make the game easier and an additional reel of digits can be added to make it more challenging.

#4 – Unwoven Light
Soo Sunny Park Art Installation Artists push boundaries to find ways to express themselves and to interpret the world around them. American artist Soo Sunny Park used chain link fencing and iridescent Plexiglas tiles to create an ethereal fantasy of light. She says of her artwork Unwoven Light, installed at Rice University in Houston, Texas, “Like a net, the sculpture is a filter that is meant to capture the light that is already there and force it to reveal itself.”

#5 – Your Journey
“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you’ve lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”
― Asha Tyson

Have a great weekend!

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The Bee and the Blue Hydrangea Bees busily buzz from cluster to cluster of brilliant blue hydrangeas. How’s that for a bit of alliteration? I unexpectedly spent my morning chasing bees. My goal of taking photos of hydrangeas morphed into something else after I saw bees flying around the blossoms. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could capture an image of a bee?” I thought to myself. After a moment of wishing I’d read my camera manual, I took aim at the buzzing noise around me. About a half-hour of truly living in the moment and a hundred photos later, I accomplished my goal. But, wait! What about getting even closer . . .

#1 – Earth Album
Earth Album Get a closer look at the world by going to Earth Album. This site lets you explore the world without packing any bags or leaving home. All you have to do is click on a spot anywhere on the site’s world map and, thanks to Google and Flicker, photos of the area appear. Because the photos come from Flickr, the images will change from time to time – a great reason to revisit the site!

#2 – Eat Your Oatmeal
Steel Cut Oatmeal "Cupcakes" I received an email from a reader the other day, thanking me for sharing my story about having genetically high cholesterol. Six months ago she received a bad lab report. Her total cholesterol was 251 with her HDL at 70 and her LDL at 163. Remember LDL is the “lousy” one. She read my post My Most Requested Recipe and faithfully followed my steel cut oatmeal “cupcake” regime, exercised more frequently, and watched what she ate. It all paid off. Her most recent lab work reflected a 34 point drop in her overall cholesterol and a 29 point drop in her LDL. Her testimony confirms the role soluble fiber plays in the battle against high cholesterol. Eating soluble fiber and making other lifestyle changes can make a difference in your health. Another reader wrote to tell me a similar story after she advised her husband to follow my recipe and months later he “waved his lab report around like it was a medal!”

#3 – Removing Rust Stains
The first sign of lovely spring-like weather leads to one thing: it’s time to spruce up the yard. Last weekend after moving some large potted plants off my concrete patio, I noticed that the metal pots had left ugly rust stains on the pavement. After quickly researching ways to remove rust stains from concrete, I selected a method using natural ingredients that I already had at home. I squeezed some lemons and asked my husband to pour the juice over the spots. About 10 to 20 minutes later, he scrubbed the areas with a stiff brush, and then hosed them off. Most of the rust stains were gone, but a few stubborn areas remained. Since I had run out of lemons, I told my husband to try using distilled white vinegar. He repeated the process using vinegar and it worked like a charm. Two words of caution: Scrubbing can abrade and remove some of the concrete and be aware of the fact that acid can be detrimental to nearby vegetation, so be careful of any undiluted acid running into bedding or lawn areas.

#4 – Happiness Is . . .
What can one learn about himself while living isolated in Siberia for six months? French travel writer Sylvain Tesson lived as a hermit in a hut on the edge of a lake in Siberia for that amount of time. During that time he “discovered space, silence and solitude.” Watch “Happiness is . . . escaping to a cabin in Siberia” and listen to him describe how his life changed.

#5 – You Already Have It
“We all possess exactly what we need to be our greatest selves and it is (about) listening to our instincts.”
Usher

Enjoy your weekend!

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weeping cherry

Photo by Linnell Chang

Tucked away and wrapped around the scars of sawed off limbs, lays an oasis of flush, verdant growth. Young leaves glow brightly as the sun weaves its way through heavy branches and highlights this little piece of heaven. Despite its injury and its scars, this tree found the strength and the resiliency to prove that it’s still alive and beautiful. Alexander Pope said it best, “Hope springs eternal.”

#1 – From the Brink of Extinction
Imagine your excitement if you were an exploratory botanist and you noticed a tiny plant that had been thought to be extinct for the last 60 years growing on the steep slope of a volcano. Read the article about this amazing discovery on Mother Nature Network.

#2 – A Poet Who Knows It  
Whether you have a daughter or not, you will appreciate poet Sarah Kay’s heartfelt, sometimes rambling, but always thought-provoking TED presentation titled “If I Should Have a Daughter . . . “

Here are some examples of her thoughtful prose:

“Getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”

“Put the star in starting over . . . and over.”

“There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

#3 – Art and Nature

Artwork by Moki

Painting by Moki

German-based artist Moki combines humans with nature in some of her artwork. Learn about this talented artist and see more of her incredible art by clicking here.

#4 – With a String of Lights . . .
With a string of lights you can do a ton of fun and interesting things – well, at least the 46 Awesome String-Lights DIYs For Any Occasion that are shown on BuzzFeed. I really think the doily wedding garland is cute, but there are just too many clever ideas for me to choose a favorite!

#5 – The Negative Is the Positive
“Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.”
– Unknown

Have a wonderful weekend!

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