Winner!!! Giveaway: MaryJane’s Ideabook

And the winner of MaryJane’s Ideabook giveaway is:

Jenny Binus, who said: “I love the Earth. I love being outside, and when I was a kid, my favorite place to go to was my Mimi and GFR’s cabin in the woods. We built it, the whole family, from the ground up. We cut the logs, my dad put on the roof, I helped find the stones for the hearth. It gave me a love of working with my hands and being outdoors. I live in a small town in Pennsylvania now, far from Western Washington, but this taught me an appreciation for the outdoors. I love making quilts for my children, teaching them to bake (both boys), I homeschool, we have a garden that we grow a good deal of our veggies in, and I am looking forward to being outside watching caveman TV (fire) near the creek this summer. I enjoy the feel of bread dough and working with my hands. I teach art classes that focus around using recycled materials and I volunteer filling backpacks with food for kids who don’t have it over the weekend because I didn’t always have food when I was little. My sons come with me, ages 5 and 7, because I want them to learn to care about others for no other reason than it makes them feel good and it’s the right thing to do.”

And the original post for the GIVEAWAY was (thank you to all who participated):

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Allspice Demystified

Allspice … we know it helps give our pumpkin pies that delicious, unmistakable taste. I even used it in my Pumpkin Refrigerator Pickles. But what the heck is allspice, anyway?

Photo by jeffreyw via Wikimedia Commons

 

Take a poll of people in most any setting, and I’ll venture to guess that the most common opinion would be that allspice is a mixture of spices—perhaps cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But when you look for allspice on the spices shelf at your local grocery, you might notice that one option is to buy allspice berries. So there goes the mixture theory …

Allspice—also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento, English pepper, and newspice—actually got its name as early as the 1600s because it tasted like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But those berries you saw on the shelf were actually the dried fruit of the P. dioica plant. And in addition to its use in baked goods, sausages, and curries, allspice has also had an interesting history of non-culinary uses—including one in Napolean’s army. Check out this video from the American Chemical Society to find out more. (Spoiler alert: you’re either going to find the narrator endearingly adorable … or annoying. :) )

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Need a Bathroom?

In our busy world of travel and errands, there’s a universal question that we all must eventually face, especially if we’re the parent of little ones: Where’s the bathroom? Pulling over for a little “hike” in the woods is fine for many of us, but what if there are no woods nearby or your stop requires a little more, ahem, pampering?

Well, if your smartphone accompanies you on your jaunts, there’s an app for that! Airpnp uses your geographic location to give you a list of places to potty, from freebies at coffee shops and stores to private homes that rent out their bathrooms. Private homes that rent out their bathrooms?!

graphic, Airpnp

Yes, that’s right, people actually rent out their bathrooms. Listings on the site include photos, hours of service, and fees, and many boast family-friendly atmospheres or luxurious soaps. The founders, natives of New Orleans, created the app when they realized they could help frustrated revelers find a bathroom during the city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities. Co-founder and “PEO” Max Gaudin says, “You can use Airpnp on your phone via the browser, on your computer, or download our iOS app.” Their playful tagline reads “Urine good hands.” For those of us who sometimes have to really, really GO, this app could turn out to be ….? What would you end the sentence with? Dashing? Continue reading

You’re amazing!

I already know you’re amazing, but here are some honest-to-goodness, scientific-y facts about the human body that make us humans even more awe-inspiring.

Did you know …

* There are over 100,000 miles of blood vessels in an adult human? If all your blood vessels were laid out end-to-end, they would go around the Earth four times.

800px-Nasa_blue_marble

Photo, NASA/ GSFC/ NOAA/ USGS via Wikimedia Commons

* Your intestinal tract, the system responsible for eating and digesting food, is over 30 feet long. (How in the world does it all fit??)

* Nerve impulses travel back and forth to the brain at speeds up to 250 miles per hour (nearly as fast as the fastest race car on record).

* Humans have the ability to read up to 1,000 words a minute.

* Our eyes are so sensitive that, if our surroundings were completely flat, we could see the flicker of a candle at night from 30 miles away.

800px-PikiWiki_Israel_15577_Light_in_Darkness

Photo by israel Silberberg via Wikimedia Commons

* The adult body is made up of more than 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (7 octillion) atoms. (One question: Who counted?)

* Humans have about the same number of hairs on their bodies as chimpanzees. (Ours are just so fine, you can barely see them, thank goodness.)

* Adult humans have about 2.5 trillion red blood cells in our bodies, but the average red blood cell lives only for about 120 days, so our bone marrow produces about two and a half million new ones every second. That’s like reproducing the entire population of Chicago every second.

* There are more living organisms on the skin of one human being than there are human beings on the Earth.

* Each of our bodies has 230 movable joints.

* Our hearts beat about 30 million times each year and our lungs breathe about 192 million gallons of air a year—all without even thinking about it.

Yep, we’re amazing.

Le Printemps by Pierre Auguste Cot (1873) via Wikimedia Commons

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the birds and the …

trinkets? We’ve all heard that some birds, especially crows, are attracted to trinkets. But to hear that a murder of crows (no, not that kind of murder … murder is the term for a group of crows) recognize that trinkets can be a gift of gratitude to us humans … well, that’s a strange bird (or birds, as the case may be)!

Kuznetsova by Repin, 1901

In Seattle, Washington, little 8-year-old Gabi Mann seems to have a flock of admirers, right in her own backyard. It all started when Gabi was just 4 years old, and the neighborhood crows, ever alert, noticed that Gabi tended to drop yummy things to eat. Gabi noticed too, and by the time she started school, she also started sharing bits of her packed lunch with the crows while waiting for the bus. Then, she and her mom started regularly feeding the crows in the backyard. That’s when they began noticing little presents left behind on the feeder … beads, rocks, buttons, and more.

gabi-birds2

Photo, Lisa Mann

So many presents that they now fill a 32-compartment bead storage box that Gabi treasures.

But the strangest present came recently when Gabi’s mom, Lisa, lost her lens cap while shooting photos of birds in their neighborhood. She found it on the rim of the backyard birdbath. When she checked their “bird cam” to see if it was, indeed, the crows who returned it, she saw that one actually spent time washing it off in the birdbath before laying it carefully on the rim for Gabi to find. Now that’s something to crow about!

Gabi and her mom, Lisa. Photo, Lisa Mann.

Read the whole story here. Continue reading

folding paper

I recently discovered a trailer for an amazing-looking documentary about origami, Between the Folds. I’ve watched a few minutes of it and plan to watch the whole thing the next time I have an hour to spare. In the meantime, I thought I’d share it with you. This isn’t your normal YouTube video about folding paper cranes, and in case you’re wondering if origami can capture your attention for a whole hour, here’s your chance …

Watch the full documentary here.

“Much of the beauty that arises in art
comes from the struggle an artist wages
with his limited medium.”
- Henri Matisse
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photo-of-the-day

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Celebrating Women

Sunday, March 8, was International Women’s Day, helping to kick off Women’s History Month in March. Women’s Day has been celebrated in America since 1909 and in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland since 1911. In 1975, the United Nations finally declared it an international holiday.

Companies and organizations around the world and the web are celebrating women, and here are a few of the sites I thought you’d enjoy.

Biographile, Random House’s nod to literary biographies, celebrates with “quotes from 9 literary ladies.”

women

Maya Angelou, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and Margaret Atwood, Biographile.com

Microsoft reminds us that girls like science, too, with their latest commercial:

Visit Microsoft’s Women In Tech site for more information.

The initiative, a collaboration between the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, posted this celebrity-, fun- (and fact-) filled video:

Google featured a doodle of women astronauts, engineers, scientists, and judges, linking to #DearMe, asking women to create a GIF that answers the question: “What advice would you give your younger self?”


What will you do to celebrate Women’s History Month? Continue reading

baby animal name quiz

In keeping with the proverbial madness of the March hare (which, by the way, refers to the phenomenon of bunnies acting bonkers during their spring breeding season) …

Photo by Hardyplants via Wikimedia Commons

I thought it would be fun to quiz you on a few obscure names for animal babes. Take a gander at the list of names, below:

1. Eyas
2. Shoat
3. Leveret
4. Cygnet
5. Sac Fry
6. Yowie

Now, try to match each name to the young animal it refers to:

A. Pig
B. Hawk
C. Swan
D. Salmon
E. Rabbit
F. Sheep

You’ll find answers beneath each photo that follows, so don’t peek till you’ve made your matches.

Photo by Dominicus Johannes Bergsma via Wikimedia Commons

Eyas [ahy-uhs] is a nestling hawk or falcon (eyas is a variant of the Middle French niais, meaning “nestling”).

Photo by a United States Department of Agriculture employee via Wikimedia Commons

Shoat [shoht] is a young pig that has recently been weaned from its mother’s milk.

Photo by JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Leveret [lev-er-it] is a young rabbit or hare, specifically one that is less than a year old.

Photo by Uwe Kils via Wikimedia Commons

Cygnet [sig-nit] is a young swan.

Photo by Fernando de Sousa via Wikimedia Commons

Sac fry [sack fry] is a newly hatched salmon that remains safely hidden in the gravel habitat of its streambed nest until its yolk sac (or “lunch box,” as scientists commonly call it) is depleted.

Photo by Keven Law via Wikimedia Commons

Yowie [yow-ee] is the diminutive version of the old Scottish term yowe, which means ewe. So, “yowie” describes a little ewe.

As a side note, you might be interested to know that “yowie” also refers to a mythical hominid reputed to live in the Australian wilderness—you know, like our Mr. Bigfoot, only he appears to have less hair …

Photo by Somersetpedia.paul via Wikimedia Commons

One last word to the wise: if you holler “yowie!” to summon a lamb, someone may rush to your aid, thinking you’ve dropped a hammer on your toe.

Just sayin’. Continue reading

a tangled web

The Internet is certainly an interconnected web of wonders. Have you ever sat down at your computer to do a quick search for something, then hours later, you emerge from the fog of wandering through an endless trail of treats you didn’t even know you were seeking? If you have the patience, the rewards can be, well, rewarding.

That happened to me recently, while working on an article for the next issue of our magazine. We mentioned a local art venue, Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, in Uniontown, Washington. The Dahmen barn is a beautiful old barn in a tiny farming town about 15 miles outside Moscow, Idaho, that’s been known for decades for its whimsical wagon-wheel fence, assembled by owner and artist Steve Dahmen over a 30-year period. Today, the fence exhibits over 1,000 wheels.

In 2004, the barn was falling into disrepair, so Steve and his wife Junette, also an artist, donated the barn to their community to be made into an art center, providing studio space for artists to work in and sell their creations, a place for local artists and fine craftspeople to sell their work on consignment, a venue for local performing and exhibiting artists, and creative experiences for children and adults through classes and workshops. Read about the transformation of the barn here.

d-barn-1

When working on the article, I poked around their website to do a little research, and saw they are planning an Annual Art Demonstration Day on Saturday, April 11. This year’s theme is books—books of all types, things made from books, or information about books. And that led to an amazing video from bookmaker Randi Parkhurst. I don’t see that Randi is slated to appear at the event, but someone else’s rabbit trail must have led to her video to provide inspiration for those interested in books, or art, or lessons in patience … you see how the tangled web is woven. Anyway, watch this lovely video to the end, and your patience will be rewarded, I promise! Continue reading