ugly does a body good

Have you ever wondered what the world’s ugliest color might be?

Photo by Yanns via Pixabay

Yeah, no … I really hadn’t either.

But, leave it to science to sniff out a seemingly silly subject and say it’s so.

Such is the case with Pantone 448C, otherwise known as Opaque Couché.

This is it, they say—the world’s ugliest color:


Well, approximately, anyway.

Frivolous as this finding may appear, it’s making the news because the Australians have pinned down a way to put it to good use …



If you feel a certain zeal for Zentangle, then follow me along another winding path …

Image by LittleGretchen via Flickr

to the Spirograph!

You might recall this mesmerizing pastime from childhood, complete with little plastic gears and multi-colored pens.

With all of the recent buzz about adult coloring books and Zentangle, it’s no surprise that the Spirograph is finding its way back into fashion.

“The only toy I still have from growing up is a Super Spirograph,” shares Heather Holm of Spirographic Art. “I was already a teenager when I got it, so that would have been in the early 1970s. My sister had a regular Spirograph, and we both loved it, so when the Super Spirograph came out, I had to get one. It has survived many moves and a fire … now my son enjoys playing with it too. One day he observed, ‘Whoever invented this was a genius.’”

Heather is such a passionate proponent of the Spirograph and all of its gorgeous geometric possibility that she dedicated her entire website to the art—tutorials, tips, product reviews, and coloring pages.

A variety of Spirograph kits are available from vendors like Amazon, from travel sized sets to super deluxe versions with a dozen or more discs in different shapes and sizes. To get an idea of how hypnotically creative you can get with circles and spirals (stick with the video to the grand finale), watch:

And, of course, how sweet is this? Cookies with Spirographic icing designs …

Do you remember Spirographing? Do share …

Mom, I’m fine!

For all of you moms who’ve found yourselves perched in an empty nest,

Photo by Laura Hartog via Flickr

wondering what your kids are up to today …

(Insert wistful sigh here.)

Meet Jonathan Kubben Quiñonez from Brussels, a 27-year-old traveler who steadfastly keeps his mom in the loop, no matter where in the world he happens to land.

From the top of a pyramid in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula,

Photo courtesy of

to the sea floor of Colombia’s San Andrés Island,

Photo courtesy of

Jonathan lets his momma know he’s alive and well.

“Quiñonez quit his job, sold his car, and ventured out to see the world. However, after arriving in Cuba, the first stop on his round-the-world trip, he had a hard time getting in touch with his family,” reports Travelweek. “So the intrepid traveler came up with a genius—and heartwarming—way to let his loved ones back home know of his whereabouts: by starting up an Instagram account and posting photos of himself in new locations, holding up a sign that reads ‘MOM, I’M FINE.’”

Share Jonathan’s Instagram adventures with your kiddos and see if they catch the hint!

Photo courtesy of

Yarn addicts, this one’s for you!

If you love needlework, most likely, you’ve knitted or crocheted a gift for a loved one. Potholders, shawls, throws, even sweaters.

But maybe you really, REALLY love needlework and have always longed for an even bigger project. Well, sisters, I’ve got one for you … dare we call them car cozies?






or how about a bike cozy?


or even a bus cozy?


Coffee with that cream?

­­Have you ever ordered a (carefully considered) cup of barista-brewed coffee

(you know, the kind with one of those fancy Italian names that end with –o)

and strolled over to the cream counter to add a dash of dairy?

Photo by Toshihiro Oimatsu via Wikimedia Commons

Surely you have.

And you likely took an absentminded glance at those shiny silver thermoses to check the fat content, splashed a dash in your cup, and moved on with your day.

“Hold it right there, sister,” say the folks at Organic Valley.

Photo courtesy of

“What if the tables were turned?” they ask.

What if, instead of first choosing your coffee, you considered your choice of cream and went from there?

Hmmm …

It’s a question that rivals the chicken and the egg.

But the farmers behind Organic Valley’s cream insist that their pasture-raised cows are THE key to great coffee. Without it, the coffee would be, well, just coffee.

“To prove it, we launched a backwards coffee shop in some hip neighborhood in New York City with the help of Organic Valley dairy farmer Gerrit van Tol,” explains the company. “See what happens when we sell Organic Valley Half & Half to the foodies of Manhattan …”

Isn’t Farmer van Tol a doll, y’all?

And who wouldn’t love having a Holstein barista at home?

Better yet, a Heritage Jersey!

COMING SOON TO A BACKYARD NEAR YOU! (If I have anything to say about it.)

In the meantime, sign up for Organic Valley’s e-mail newsletters to receive news, recipes, coupons, and more charming videos about organic farms in action.

Project Sunroof

Have you volleyed around the idea of going solar?

Photo by Unsplash by via Pixabay

If the venture seems a little too “out there” or overwhelming to pursue, you might be interested in a free online Google tool called Project Sunroof.

The tool “helps homeowners explore whether they should go solar or not” by offering a birds-eye view (aka high-resolution aerial maps) to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential “without having to climb up any ladders.”

Photo by Joan Sykes via Geograph

(I couldn’t resist that photo!)

Anyhow …

Currently available in 42 states, the tool searches your address and, if it’s available, comes up with a basic analysis of how much sun your roof gets and what sort of solar installation might work as well as prospective costs and savings. You can also tweak the estimates based on your actual electricity usage and other parameters. If you’re interested in exploring more, Project Sunroof will help you find local installers who could give you a more accurate quote.

If your address isn’t accessible yet, fear not—Google plans to reach all 50 states this year.

Try Project Sunroof here.

Are you a sheddie?

Are you a sheddie?

If the image below strikes your fancy, then you are, dear, you are

Photo by Mira (on the wall) via Flickr

“Sheddie” is one of those catchy British terms that means, loosely translated, shed enthusiast.

If you are, indeed, a sheddie, then you might also identify as an outpostie, shackie, coopie (I’m just making those up as I go, in case you were wondering).

In England, it seems that there’s a sizeable population of sheddies—enough to support a site called Readersheds, which celebrates every conceivable style, shape, and size of shed from the traditional to the unconventional.

Photo by RobArmstrong2 via Pixabay

Readersheds showcases sheds a-plenty, but its crowning achievement is its annual Shed of the Year competition, which kicks off each year in May.

The man behind Readersheds, known simply as Uncle Wilco, is the head judge and founder of Shed of the Year. A passionate sheddie since his youth, he claims to have made it his mission “to open the eyes of the world to the importance of the shed.”

Photo by Antranias via Pixabay

This year, a panel of judges has selected a shortlist of public shed submissions for each category:

  • Unexpected
  • Eco Cabin
  • Summerhouse Workshops
  • Studios Pub/Entertainment
  • Budget
  • Historic
  • Unique

“Now it is up to you to decide on the winners from each one,” they invite. “Take a look at the sheds our panel of experts have selected to represent each category before voting for your favourite. A final judging panel will then pick an overall winner, whose creation will be crowned Shed of the Year 2016, later this Summer on the Channel 4 show Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year.”

Here’s a clip from the 2015 show:

Voting (which can be done here) closes on June 8, but if you miss it this year, keep up with Readersheds on Facebook so that you’ll be ready for next year’s contest.

Photo by Efes via Pixabay


veggie musicians

Some people see things like, say, a carrot ocarina …

And ask, “WHY?”

But creatively kooky musicians like Junji Koyama, in the clip below, look at garden-variety veggies and ask, “Why the heck NOT?”

It’s all in the way you look at—or listen to—it.

“Vegetables have a few qualities that make them ideal for instruments,” writes Dan Nosowitz of Modern Farmer. “They’re cheap, readily available, and many (especially root vegetables like carrots and turnips) can be easily carved and whittled.”

Not to mention, veggie instruments can actually pipe out some pretty remarkable sounds.

In the next video, you can hear the mesmerizing melodies of the world-traveling Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna, a group that has been making music with the likes of leeks, cabbages, turnips, carrots, and onion skins for over 15 years.

Why not?

So, if you’re feeling crafty while harvesting your first carrot crop of the season, check out this tutorial for making your own root recorder:

Farmgirl Emoji

As the popularity of texting skyrockets, so does the population of emojis that inhabit the techno-sphere.

Not exactly sure what an emoji is?

Don’t worry—it’s a term used most liberally among the teen set. An emoji is, in its most basic form, a smiley face, like this:



Of course, emojis run the gamut of expressions these days and even include limitless other varieties of people, places, and things.

For instance, “I’m in the mood for pizza,” could be summed up like so:


With such a plethora of modern pictorial shorthand out there, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the emojis representing women and girls are, in a word, dated.

“When it comes to emojis, women can be brides or princesses, paint their fingernails, get a haircut, and go dancing in a red dress. If those sound like roles determined by the patriarchy, well, it’s not a new complaint,” writes Karen Workman of the New York Times. “But it may be changing. Google wants to add 13 emojis to represent women, and their male counterparts, in professional roles.”

A recent proposal from a team of Google employees was submitted to the Unicode Consortium, an organization responsible for the approval and subsequent web-wide unleashing of emojis.

According to Workman, “The proposed emojis include women in business and health care roles, at factories and on farms, among other things. Google wants the organization to approve them by year’s end, but the process of getting new emojis onto keyboards is a long one.”

(Who knew the world of silly smiley faces could be so convoluted?)

But, let’s back up a few paces … did you read what I read?

Yup—women on farms.

A farmgirl emoji!

Awww, just look at her:


Rumor has it, she’ll have her own tractor emoji too, and we’ll be on the lookout for both later this year.

In the meantime, watch this video by the folks at Always to glean a dash of enlightenment about the potential power of the humble emoji …

Kulning with Heidi

Kulning (pronounced just as it looks) is a Swedish term that describes a unique form of singing used by Scandinavian herding girls who live in the high mountains with the dairy cattle during the spring and summer months. Think Heidi.

“The herding girls who drive the herds to the summer alpine pastures live in relative isolation and use kulning to communicate with each other and with their flocks over great distances,” explains musician and self-proclaimed history geek Sheila Louise Wright. “It is used to send the herds out in the morning, to call them back in in the evening, to entertain oneself while alone in the forests and meadows, as a means of scaring off predators, and as a means of communication with other herders.”

Families would traditionally have their own signature songs that were recognized by their herds. Wouldn’t it feel amazing to be in a beautiful setting with only your cows and belt out the sound of kulning? I’m game. How about you?

Here are a couple more kulning renditions: