Friday, April 18, 2014

Tulips Are Blooming In...

Springtime breezes bring up a cheerful flower that's surprisingly durable: the tulip

These blooms, from the genus tulipa, come in a whirlwind of colors. Once planted, the bulbs will produce a flower, year after year. In fact, some countries produce swaths of blossoms every spring. Holland is famous for its multi-colored tulip fields, which are a major tourist draw. Like here.

Although tulips were raised in Persia, much earlier, they aren't mentioned in print until 1559. They gradually gained prominence and interest until their peak in the early 1600s, when tulip-collecting became a frenzy. Tulip bulbs then were literally worth their weight in gold! They were also used as a kind of currency.
     Eventually the speculating imploded, and tulip bulbs became affordable for everyday people. They've remained especially popular in the Netherlands, one of the countries most involved in the mania; in fact, many cultivars are known as "Dutch tulips." You can see the world's largest permanent display in Holland at the Keukenhof.


 Growing up in Michigan, we often visited Holland in springtime for the tulip festival. Fields of blooms, wheel-turning windmills, and pretty Dutch girls sweeping the streets, wearing klompen (wooden shoes). The song they sang still reverberates:

"Tulips are blooming in Holland -- Michigan..."

Today, a ten-dollar bill will buy a whole basket of tulip bulbs -- most are 50 cents or less a bulb. Although they're easiest to find in the fall, just before the first snowfall, you'll find tulip bulbs now, as well. Dig a shovelful of dirt, then plant them in clumps. Or throw them up in the air, then dig holes and plant them where they fall. You won't see growth until next spring...but it will be worth waiting for.

Even better, plant tulips near hibernating bushes and perennials. They'll be a cheerful show while more warm-weather greenery are growing into place. Then the leaves will gradually fade from sight, while summer flowers start blooming.

While you're waiting, there's always:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

He's Right!

(You can buy this wonderful metal plaque here.)

Makes Sense...

...I know this from experience. Why didn't I just check His road map, the Bible, along the way?!?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five Things Learned from Mr. Bean

 What can you learn from a gawky misfit who loves to shove his way to the front, play mean tricks on people...and who's obsessed with a three-wheeled blue car?

Plenty, it turns out.

Mr. Bean has been duckwalking his way through Rowan Atkinson's imagination since Atkinson was studying for  a degree in Electrical Engineering at Oxford. Bean (yes, his first name is "Mister") came out of an early comedy sketch. In his television series, he literally falls out of the sky, while a choir intones (in Latin): "Behold the Man who is a Bean."

If you've never seen Mr. Bean episodes, you're in for a treat. His pushy, juvenile ways are very, very funny. (Mr. Bean episodes can be accessed via Youtube here.)

I've learned a few things from this strange little man.

*Don't be afraid to improvise. When Bean's suitcase can't hold a pair of long-legged pants, he turns them into shorts. When he can't find a paintbrush, he uses his Teddy. And when that takes too long to paint his apartment, he plants a large firecracker in the paint can. (Okay, that is a little weird.)  The point: he's not afraid to try something unusual. Often it works!

*Frugal is as frugal does. Mr. Bean takes advantage of sales. He's careful to spend only what he can afford. Which means that his main present in his Christmas stocking is...the second one! ("Christmas socks," he exults, as he tries them on.) He also wears the same outfit, over and may get a little boring, but it becomes his trademark look. (And saves money, to boot.)

*Take joy in the little things. A fish sandwich enjoyed on a park bench (albeit from a live goldfish!); a cupcake, topped with a cherry, munched in the park. Christmas carolers at your door, and a platoon of marching soldiers. Mr. Bean enjoys it all.

*Value the people in your life. This lesson's learned the negative way -- Bean is more apt to take advantage of his friends...the dentist...his fellow churchgoers and exam-takers. If only he showed a little more consideration, he wouldn't be alone so much of the time! (Or get his car smashed up as often.)  Truth is: we need others, just as much they need us.

*Be yourself. Maybe Bean is strange -- but his odd dealings with life's problems have translated into dozens of episodes, both live and animated, plus two popular movies. (It also gave Atkinson entree into other movie roles, including his James Bond-mocking stint as Johnny English.) The series won several international awards, and is considered one of the most popular English comedies ever.

In 2012, Atkinson announced that Mr. Bean was retiring. "The stuff that has been most commercially successful for me – basically quite physical, quite childish – I increasingly feel I'm going to do a lot less of," Atkinson told the Daily Telegraph's Review. "Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their 50s being childlike becomes a little sad. You've got to be careful."

He's got a point...but I'm going to miss Mr. Bean.

Easter Bunnies...From Marshmallows!

Additions for your family's Easter baskets can start to be pricey. These Easter bunnies are easily made from plain ol' marshmallows; they're a cheerful addition to Easter table decorations, too.

EASTER BUNNIES (from Taste of Home)

  • 2/3 cup vanilla frosting
  • 30 large marshmallows
  • Pink gel or paste food coloring
  • Red and pink heart-shaped decorating sprinkles
  • 60 miniature marshmallows 
  1. Frost the tops of 12 large marshmallows; stack a large marshmallow on top of each. Quarter the remaining large marshmallows; set aside for ears. Tint 1/4 cup frosting pink. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; place pink frosting in bag.
  2. Pipe a ribbon between the stacked marshmallows for bow tie. With white frosting, attach red hearts for eyes and a pink heart for nose. Pipe pink whiskers and smile.
  3. For ears, pipe the center of quartered marshmallows pink; attach to head with white frosting. With the remaining white frosting, attach the miniature marshmallows for legs and tail. Let stand until dry. Yield: 1 dozen. 

More bunny ideas here and here, too. Even marshmallow bunny paws.
Guess people really like these little guys! 

P.S. This is a crossover post from my articles at the Holiday Goodies blog.    Enjoy...

Can I have a marshmallow, too?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Have A Headache...


Taxes, reports, a quilt to embellish and finish for a challenge. Oh yes, and schlep Daughter #1 to the doctor's office this afternoon. (Her shoulder is really healing nicely, after surgery in January.)

Why do I have to take time to sleep?

Why do we have to pay taxes?

Why did I procrastinate on some of this stuff?!?

We've been watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000 a lot lately. It actually makes more sense during times like this -- especially at 1 a.m. in the morning. Or 2 a.m. Or 3:30 a.m.

Don't ask how I know that.

 (This is my favorite one. Yes, it's really silly.)


This song is dedicated to those of you out there in similar predicaments:

Now get to work. And give me a call at midnight, if you're still up. We'll go out for coffee or something.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Stuff on the Way to Other Stuff: Well, That's Spring

Eight inches of snow yesterday, with a nice thick coating of ice, as well. Friend Jo and I went to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum's "Sunday at the Museum" talk about "Men with Quilts." My colleague Steve was one of the co-presenters. He did a great job, but we left soon after. 
     For one, I'd been up working until 3:30 a.m. that morning. (And dozed off a few times -- sorry, Steve.) For another, the snow was coming down fast. It was a good thing we did -- we came across two multi-vehicle crashes, with a sprinkling of in-the-ditch accidents, as well. I was grateful to finally make it home. 
     Had to take a car to the dealer this morning, and I got there 30 min. late -- Denver was riddled with accidents. Now, though, the sun's out, the streets are nearly dry, and the snow is melting fast. I'm glad I didn't plant yet - temps went down to 17 or so last night. By the end of the week, it should be back up in the 60s or 70s.
     Spring? Winter? Welcome to Colorado in the springtime. 

Now on to the Stuff:

The best chicken breed for the apocalypse. (From Backyard Chickens)

 Get your date  something she'll never forget -- a fried chicken prom corsage!

Two interesting questions. What advice would you give? (From Making Sense of Cents)

When the 'check engine' light comes on, DON'T ignore it... or any of those other pesky routine maintenance issues for your car. (From Donna Freedman)

Ten inspiring spaces for small balconies. (Apartment Therapy)

 Also good -- Gardening without a garden, using your patio or balcony. (Also from AT)

A genius poker player who's being sued -- looks like he may have been cheating. Speaking of:

The German champions of the Bali worldwide bridge tournament have been deposed, as well-- turns out they were convicted of cheating. What tripped them up: communicating by coughing. One of the American team they beat got suspicious when those coughs signaled certain actions -- and their fraud was confirmed by videotape.
    What's extra sad: these Deutschers were respected doctors at home. Why did they do it??

The oldest-ever message in a bottle.

Five recent cases of looted art being recovered. If you enjoyed Monuments Men, you'll find these interesting.  (Also - the Nazi art stash just found, hidden in a German apartment.)

Easter basket goodies that won't bust your budget. (From Monroe On A Budget)

And from yours truly --

Men, Women and Money. (From Midlife Finance)
The world according to Suze. Orman, that is. (Also from MLF)

Daffodils, for beauty and income.    (From Penny Thots)

Rhubarb - the springtime special.   (Also from PT)

Have a good week.