Do you have a favorite cartoon character from your childhood– mine is Elmer Fudd.

Elmer J. Fudd was the archenemy of Bugs Bunny, but he also hunted ducks from time to time.  His name came up at the breakfast table this morning. Ducks are swimming in our pool during off-season, and my husband and I jokingly wondered what Elmer Fudd would do. He’s a villain like Yosemite Sam, but Elmer is too dopey to do Bugs much harm.

Elmer speaks in a pattern called rhotacism, replacing his Rs and Ls with Ws.  Watch the road becomes “Watch da Woad, Wabbit.”  “Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.” He also had a trademark gloat of huh, uh, uh. I like the cartoon titles of Rabbit Seasoning and What’s Opera, Doc?

Elmer Fudd

 

 

Edutainment for kids– Harry Potter camp

Doesn’t every working parent love it when their kids enjoy day care– particularly when it’s during a school break? Kudos to my town’s Woodbridge Community Center for putting on Harry Potter camp for kids eight to ten!  At “Hogwarts” kids will transition from muggles (non-magical folks) to wizards! Each “student” will be taught traditional methods of dueling with ancient spells.  Spells are known as defense against the dark arts.  Also included– mind reading (Divination) and Quidditch!

You remember how the first book began– Harry lived under the stairs.

Harry Potter

Do you enjoy hiking amongst wild flowers?

I’m learning the names of wild flowers and became aware that many are so vigorous, they are considered weeds.  A short list include bachelor buttons and alyssum.  Notice all the bachelor buttons in this meadow!  I wanted some of these.

wild flowers.jpeg

I still think they are lovely and don’t mind that they’re mixed into the packets I planted in our yard because they’re strong growers.  A packet or two of different wildflowers will often work better than pounds of seed. Birds love wildflowers, will line up to observe them and eat until every seed is gone. If planting in the wilds, be real philosophical about the seed, the birds, other wildlife, and be prepared to share (a lot). In town or in areas where there is no cover for the birds and the wildflower seed is planted late there is usually a great wildflower show.

 

 

Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday!

Here are some fun facts about Mardi Gras 2017.  It takes place on Tuesday, February 28 (TODAY!), and marks 47 days until Easter. Many people make their own masks for the celebration, starting with a blank form.

mask-poppies-field-red

It takes place the day before the start of Lent, meaning its date is different each year due to the time of Easter.

However, Mardi Gras also refers to the carnival of events that take place beginning on Epiphany (Three Kings Day) until the start of Lent.

The French phrase Mardi Gras translates into English as Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras is known as Fat Tuesday as many countries traditions see people eat rich, fatty foods the day before entering into Lent.

In the UK, many people eat pancakes made from fatty flour, eggs and butter, which used to be banned during lent.

Meanwhile fried bread and pastries made with the same ingredients are often made and eaten on Fat Tuesday in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

As well as eating fatty foods, many people take the opportunity of Mardi Gras to hold parties and carnivals.

One of the most famous is the Brazilian Carnival in Rio where two million people pack on to the streets to sing and dance.

The tradition dates back to 1723 and Brazil welcomes 70 per cent of its tourists during the event.

As well as singing and dancing, revellers wear brightly coloured colours as well as perform the traditional samba.

Another well-known Mardi Gras parade is in New Orleans, which also sees tourists stream into the city.

Starting early on Mardi Gras day, several parades make their way through the French Quarter, where participants where special costumes and masks. Here

My BBQ ribs secret– boil before baking

Do you love BBQ ribs with potato salad, corn bread, and a field greens salad? This delicious dinner can be prepared lighter by boiling the ribs first.

bbq-ribs

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce

Directions:

  1. Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Bring water to a boil, and cook ribs until tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Remove ribs from pot, and place them in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour barbeque sauce over ribs. Cover dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Baked Potato Soup–low calorie

Our daughter, Marla, gave me this recipe for Baked Potato Soup, and it is courtesy of Lizzie Fuhr of Popsugar Fitness. The reason it’s low calorie is that cauliflower replaces the usual amount of potatoes. 

baked-potato-soup

Ingredients

1.    1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets

2.    2 russet potatoes, diced

3.    1 cup low-fat milk (one percent)

4.    2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

5.    1 teaspoon salt

6.    1/2 teaspoon pepper

7.    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8.    1 white onion, diced

9.    3 cloves garlic, minced

10. 4 slices turkey bacon, diced

11. 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

12. Scallions, chopped, to garnish

13. Greek yogurt or sour cream, to garnish

Directions

1.    Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil the cauliflower florets until tender when tested with a fork (about 10 minutes).

2.    Remove the cooked cauliflower from the pot, and boil the diced potatoes in the same pot until tender. Remove from the water, and set aside.

3.    Combine the cauliflower, milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, salt, and pepper in a large blender, and blend until smooth.

4.    In a large soup pot or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute.

5.    Pour the cauliflower mixture and the additional cup of chicken broth into your soup pot with the garlic and onions. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, feel free to add equals parts of milk and broth to thin things out. Turn down to simmer, add the turkey bacon and chives, and cook for at least 15 minutes.

6.    Serve in bowls, and top with the classic toppings of your choice.

Looking up at the constellation Orion

Tonight – or any January evening – look for the constellation Orion the Hunter. It’s probably the easiest to pick out of all the constellations in the winter sky. It’s identifiable by Orion’s Belt, three medium-bright stars in a short, straight row at the mid-section of the Hunter. See these stars? They are easy to spot on the sky’s dome. As seen from mid-northern latitudes, you’ll find Orion in the southeast at early evening and shining high in the south by late evening (around 10 to 11 p.m. local time). If you live at temperate latitudes to the south of the equator, you’ll see Orion high in your northern sky at this hour. Pick out Orion’s Belt and the nearby bright stars in that part of the sky, and you’ve probably found Orion.

orion-sky

Stars in distinct constellations like Orion look connected, perhaps even gravitationally bound, but usually they aren’t. Certainly Orion’s stars aren’t bound to each other by anything but their general location near one another along a single line of sight from Earth. The stars of Orion just happen to make an easy visual pattern on our sky’s dome.

Meanwhile, the stars in Orion and most other constellations are located at vastly different distances from each other. For example, notice the two brightest stars in Orion—Betelgeuse and Rigel.  Betelgeuse is estimated to be located 522 light-years away, while Rigel’s distance is 773 light-years.

Did you attend a New Year’s Eve Celebration?

In spite of our soggy, rainy weather Southern Californians came out last night to celebrate.  There were thousands of  parties to attend, bands to listen to, fireworks to see, champagne to drink, and lots of hugs and kisses.

fireworks.jpg

Here were some ways SoCal brought in the New Year:

1. LONG BEACH: Queen Mary New Year’s Eve: Three and a half acres of the ship’s deck  themed areas.
LONG BEACH: New Year’s Eve Party on Pine with bands and party time.
2. BUENA PARK: New Year’s Eve at Knott’s Berry Farm with Fireworks Show, bands and dancing.
3. COSTA MESA: OC WinterFest New Year’s Eve party with fireworks.
4. ANAHEIM: Disneyland’s New Year’s Eve Fantasy In The Sky Fireworks Spectacular.
6. FULLERTON: First Night. Free Downtown Fullerton street party with bands. Kids bounce houses, small train, face painting and balloon art, food and Fireworks Show at midnight.
7. MARINA DEL REY: New Year’s Eve Celebration with Fireworks. Free event.
8. AVALON: Annual gala with Big Band, formal attire and spectacular bay views from Historic Casino Ballroom.
9. BIG BEAR LAKE: Torchlight Parade held annually on the ski slopes to celebrate the New Year.
10. TEMECULA: Old Town Temecula New Year’s Eve Party with Grape Drop, kids activities and family fun.

Spaghetti with Sausage alla Carbonara– something new with pasta!

Today I asked my husband for a dinner suggestion, and he suggested this–

SPAGHETTI WITH SAUSAGE ALLA CARBONARA

spaghetti-and-sausage-carbonara

INGREDIENTS

·         1 pound sweet Italian sausage

·         1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

·         1 tablespoon unsalted butter

·         1 medium onion, sliced thin

·         1 ½ teaspoons pepper

·         2 bay leaves

·         ½ cup dry white wine

·          Salt

·         1 pound spaghetti

·         3 large eggs

·         ¼ cup pecorino Romano

PREPARATION

FOR THE SPAGHETTI WITH SAUSAGE ALLA CARBONARA

1.   Remove casings from sausage. Using a knife, a fork or your hands on a cutting board, break meat into small pieces. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook on medium-low just until translucent.

2.   Add sausage, mashing and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it is uniformly crumbly and has lost its pinkness. Stir in the pepper and bay leaves. Add wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and discard bay leaves. Season meat to taste with salt.

3.   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large serving bowl with hot water or warm it in a low oven. Lightly beat the eggs in a small dish. Just before pasta is done, return pan with sausage to low heat. When pasta is done, slowly beat about a tablespoon of pasta water into eggs. Then drain the pasta.

4.   Transfer sausage to warm serving bowl. Pour spaghetti on top and toss it with the sausage, slowly adding the beaten eggs. Add salt to taste and fold in the pecorino.

What is it about reindeer that spread holiday smiles?

Have you noticed all the reindeer inspired candlesticks, pillows, mugs, hats, slippers, and sweaters? It’s all fun and reindeer games this season with these whimsical finds inspired by Santa’s furry friends.

Beyond their sled-pulling capabilities and discrimination towards those with red noses, what do you really know about reindeer?

REINDEER AND CARIBOU ARE THE SAME THING.

Historically, the European/Asian reindeer and American Caribou were considered to be different species, but they are actually one and the same. There are two major groups of reindeer, the tundra and the woodland, which are divided according to the type of region the animal lives in, not their global location. The animals are further divided into subspecies, ranging from nine to thirteen depending on who is doing the classification. At least one subspecies, the Arctic Reindeer, is already extinct.

reindeer.jpeg