10 Aug
2015

Happy S’mores Day, Y’all!

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Every diabetic’s favorite hol­i­day is com­ing up…S’MORES DAY!!!  In case you’ve been liv­ing under a rock in Tian­jin, a s’mores has three ingre­di­ents: gra­ham crack­ers, toast­ed marsh­mal­lows, and melt­ed choco­late bars.

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Anthro­po­mor­phized food is actu­al­ly kind of ter­ri­fy­ing.

It is total­ly rec­om­mend­ed that you get cre­ative with your s’mores ingre­di­ents!  Sub­sti­tute peanut but­ter cups for choco­late bars!  Or cut open a banana length­wise, scoop a bit out, fill it with choco­late  and marsh­mal­lows, then wrap in tin­foil and put it in the embers of your camp­fire for a few min­utes.  Instant­ly your s’mores is now healthy (and gluten free)!!!

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The first offi­cial s’mores recipe was pub­lished in Tramp­ing and Trail­ing with the Girl Scouts in 1927, but culi­nary his­to­ri­ans believe the tra­di­tion began much ear­lier than that.  Leave it to the Girl Scouts to make every­thing offi­cial!  You’ll always want “some more” of this deli­cious treat, and if you’re eat­ing it cor­rect­ly it’ll sound like s’mores!!!

s'mores kitty wants more s'mores.

s’mores kit­ty wants more s’mores.

Most chil­dren don’t know how to eat healthy, I was no excep­tion.  Often­times, when deprived of camp­fires in the win­ter, I would microwave choco­late chips and marsh­mal­lows in a Pyrex mea­sur­ing cup, then dip gra­ham crack­ers in it.  Some­times, I skipped the gra­ham crack­ers alto­geth­er and just dug in with a spoon.  MMm­m­m­m­m­M­M­mm

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8 Aug
2015

Sneaky Zucchini!

If you are a gar­den­er, farmer, or zuc­chini enthu­si­ast, then you’re prob­a­bly ready to cel­e­brate Nation­al Sneak Some Zuc­chini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day on August 8.  Each year, like a plague upon their hous­es, neigh­bors with abun­dant har­vests rush upon bare porch­es adorn­ing them with fruit (yes zuc­chini is a fruit)!  One must employ great stealth not to be seen.  After all, we want peo­ple think­ing, “What the hell is that?  Is that a zuc­chini?  Whose zuc­chini is this?  Is it my zuc­chini?”  If one doesn’t employ great stealth, then the jig is up!

This is the least sneaky of all the zucchinis...

This is the least sneaky of all the zuc­chin­is…

So, here is some advice for any novice zuc­chini sneaks:

If you need some stickies to leave notes on your zucchini, we've got them!

If you need some stick­ies to leave notes on your zuc­chini, we’ve got them!

  1. Remem­ber to har­vest some zuc­chini blos­soms.  By har­vest­ing the zuc­chini blos­soms you will reduce the over­abun­dance that nor­mal­ly results from grow­ing zuc­chini.  Zuc­chini blos­soms can be eat­en raw, fried, or stuffed and cooked.
  2. Even one zuc­chini plant will pro­duce a moun­tain of zuc­chin­is!
  3. Be cre­ative.  Don’t just lob a zuc­chini onto your neighbor’s porch like an apa­thet­ic kid on a paper route (unless you hate them or some­thing).  Inter­net leg­end says to leave a bas­ket under the cov­er of dark­ness, but that seems too sim­plis­tic.  Have fun with it!  Wear a dis­guise, dis­guise your zuc­chini, leave a note, don’t leave a note, leave a recipe…the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.
  4. How­ev­er you decide to leave your zuc­chini, your neigh­bors will be thrilled to share in the fruits of your labor.  Shar­ing is cool and so are you.  Per­haps you should share your favorite zuc­chini recipe too.
Zucchinis in disguise!

Zuc­chin­is in dis­guise!

Here are three won­der­ful zuc­chini recipes to try if you’re one of the lucky ducks that gets free zuc­chini!

Baked Zuc­chini Sticks

Zuc­chini Frit­ters

Zuc­chini Olive Oil Cake

Existential crisis weenie dog: I DON'T KNOW WHAT I AM ANYMORE!

Exis­ten­tial cri­sis wee­nie dog: I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM ANYMORE!

6 Aug
2015

Raise your glass of BootRear to Piers Anthony!

headshotI found that I sim­ply couldn’t take fan­ta­sy seri­ous­ly, so it became humourous, and con­tin­ued from there.”

If you’re a fan of fun­ny, pun­ny fan­ta­sy sto­ries, you prob­a­bly are very famil­iar with Piers2236-75561 Antho­ny. His Xan­th book series is well known to be painful­ly packed with puns. They’re hilar­i­ous and won­der­ful and light and fun, but if you’re some­one who takes per­son­al offense at some­one rear­rang­ing the Eng­lish lan­guage, this series is prob­a­bly not for you.

There was a point in my life that I would proud­ly be able to say that I had read all of the Xan­th books. that was back when there were only 28 or so. There are now a whop­ping 39 books in the series. With like 5 more in the works already. Part­ly, this is because fans of puns send them all to Mr. Antho­ny, hop­ing their own unique word play will end up in his next books. So I’m sure he has a mil­lion books’ worth of mate­ri­al by now.

xanthIf you are a fan of light reads that will pull you in but also allow you to pick up and put down when­ev­er you want, Piers Antho­ny books are so total­ly for you. If you’re not into the pun thing, don’t wor­ry, he has a mil­lion oth­er non-Xan­th sto­ries.

My par­tic­u­lar favorite is the Incar­na­tions of Immor­tal­i­ty series. Each book in the set is about one of the immor­tals; Death, Time, the Fates, the dev­il, etc. They’re very fun and fast. Per­fect for air­planes or bus rides.book

The point is, this guy is some­one who you should know about. And now you know a bit. the next step is to pick up one of his mil­lion books and give him a try!

Have fun!

4 Aug
2015

National Farmer’s Market Week

IMG_0001You know what would be so yum­my right now? A fresh, crisp sal­ad made from local­ly grown greens and the best toma­toes you’ve ever tast­ed.

Or may­be a nice bowl of fresh blue­ber­ries with cream?

Crisp pep­pers! Cool cucum­bers! Car­rots! radish­es!

Farmer’s Mar­kets are one of my very favorite things about sum­mer. I am 100% more like­ly to buy veg­eta­bles when I can get them out­doors from a local farmer. And it’s not entire­ly because I’m a snob and like my veg­gies pure and sim­ple. It’s not entire­ly because I want to sup­port my local farm­ers, although I super duper do. I think it’s real­ly most­ly because sim­ply going to a farm­ers mar­ket inspires me to be over­ly healthy for at least a day or two. So I feel all alive and fresh and I buy one mil­lion toma­toes and 5 bundles of kale.

Pitts­burgh has a pret­ty rad selec­tion of farm­ers mar­kets. If you’re will­ing to trav­el, you can pret­ty much find a farm­ers mar­ket some­where every day of the week.

tomatilla

Tomatil­los are awe­some.

I think the thing I love the most about farmer’s mar­kets (aside from them being like, good for your kar­ma or some­thing) is that I always end up find­ing a veg­etable that is new to me that I just HAVE to try and cook. I mean, now that we have a Mar­ket Dis­trict, we can get pret­ty much any veg­etable we want at any point in the year. (Which is hon­est­ly a lit­tle scary, guys. I mean things have grow­ing sea­sons for a rea­son.) But far before Mar­ket Dis­trict had caught on, I met my first tomatil­lo at a small farmer’s tent in Oak­land. It changed my life.

Nation­al Farmer’s Mar­ket Week is August 4th through 10th. I chal­lenge you to go to at LEAST one farmer’s mar­ket to cel­e­brate!  Buy some­thing rad­i­cal­ly new and strange.

Or just buy some toma­toes, because farm grown toma­toes are seri­ous­ly the best thing in this world. end.

Click here to see a list of Pitts­burgh Parks’ 2015 Mar­kets! 

28 Jul
2015

Beatrix Potter: Our Spirit Animal

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Beat­rix drew the ani­mals she observed through­out her life

Beat­rix Pot­ter, the mas­ter­mind behind The Tale of Peter Rab­bit, lived a qui­et way life, appre­ci­at­ing sim­ple plea­sures.  She shared the­se sim­ple plea­sures with the mass­es.  She was born in Lon­don on July 28, 1866 and lived a lone­ly and shel­tered Vic­to­ri­an child­hood.  Her par­ents dis­cour­aged her from mak­ing friends her own age.  Beat­rix had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing famous artists, politi­cians, and thinkers, but this means lit­tle to a young girl who just wants a friend.  She was edu­cat­ed at home by gov­erness­es.  Hav­ing lit­tle oppor­tu­ni­ty to make friends, nature became her one true friend for the rest of her life.
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Beat­rix spent sum­mer hol­i­days with her fam­i­ly in an area of the coun­try known as Lake Dis­trict.  She drew from a young age, observ­ing her pets, oth­er ani­mals, and plants.  She devot­ed much of her life to farm­ing and coun­tryside con­ser­va­tion, prob­a­bly due to her ear­ly life and love of her mem­o­ries at Lake Dis­trict.

Beatrix Potter's house

Beat­rix Potter’s house

A bit of a late bloomer, Beat­rix did not begin her career as a children’s author and illus­tra­tor until she was 35 years old.  She was quite ded­i­cat­ed to her vision of Peter Rab­bit.  More than six pub­lish­ers reject­ed The Tale of Peter Rab­bit, so she print­ed two hun­dred and fifty copies pri­vate­ly.  Beat­rix was inter­est­ed in all aspects of book pro­duc­tion, from the con­cep­tion of the sto­ry, to the bind­ing.  She made her books as cheap as pos­si­ble to reach as many chil­dren as she could; after all, they could buy it with pock­et change.  Her books were tiny to accom­mo­date her read­ers’ tiny hands.  By the end of 1903, over 50,000 copies of Peter Rab­bit had sold.  The pub­lish­ers that reject­ed this clas­sic tale must have been regret­ting their rejec­tion.
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Being a keen busi­ness­wom­an, Beat­rix paid close atten­tion to what her audi­ence desired.  She looked for inno­v­a­tive ways to cap­i­tal­ize on her cre­ations.  Short­ly after pub­lish­ing Peter Rab­bit, she cre­at­ed a Peter Rab­bit doll, which was fol­lowed by wall­pa­per and a board game.  She test­ed her prose on her friends’ chil­dren who were always thrilled by her tales.  The mer­chan­dis­ing began with Beatrix’s inter­est in find­ing new ways to expand her imag­i­nary world.  Her tales have been trans­lat­ed into over 35 lan­guages and have been pub­lished all over the world.

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Beat­rix always wrote what she knew and was inspired by real ani­mals and their unique per­son­al­i­ties.  The real Peter Rab­bit was Beatrix’s pet, “Peter Piper.”  She often sketched him in front of the fire lying on the hearth rug.  The Tale of Ben­jam­in Bun­ny is mod­eled after her first pet rab­bit who she smug­gled into the nurs­ery in a brown bag.  His name was “Ben­jam­in H. Bounc­er” and he was fond of treats and hot but­tered toasts!
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Beatrix with Peter Rabbit

Beat­rix with Peter Rab­bit

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The Tale of Jemi­ma Pud­dle-Duck, is based on a farm duck who often scam­pered off to lay eggs in secret nest­ing places.  Some­times Beat­rix had to use a hen to sit on Jemima’s eggs.  Jemi­ma was always scam­per­ing off some­where, neglect­ing her eggs.  Beat­rix blend­ed fan­ta­sy and real­i­ty flaw­less­ly.  Her imag­i­nary world was filled with truth.  This tale in par­tic­u­lar is so close­ly asso­ci­at­ed with Hill Top Farm that it has been described as a “poem of the farm itself.”  The farm’s idyl­lic land­scapes are still rec­og­niz­able today.

For the last thir­ty years of her life, Beat­rix focused on pre­serv­ing her beloved land that inspired so many sto­ries.  She pre­served Lake Dis­trict for future gen­er­a­tions and ensured the area would be untouched by devel­op­ers.  In her sev­en­ties she wrote, “as I lie in bed, I can walk step by step on the fells and rough lands, see­ing every stone and flower…where my old legs will nev­er take me again.”  Towards the end of her life she stat­ed, “If I have done any­thing — even a lit­tle — to help small chil­dren appre­ci­ate hon­est, sim­ple plea­sures, I have done a bit of good.”

Beatrix at her beloved Hill  Top Farm

Beat­rix at her beloved Hill Top Farm

Beat­rix Pot­ter has done quite a bit of good.  We at Kards Unlim­it­ed love her to pieces!  She shares our love of ani­mals, nature, sim­plic­i­ty, gar­den­ing, chil­dren, and imag­i­na­tion!!!  We have a com­plete col­lec­tion of her tales that includes even more infor­ma­tion on this amaz­ing woman’s life.  Did you know she was engaged and with­in a mon­th her fiance died?  Yep, that trag­ic bit of infor­ma­tion is in the book, along with much more!  If you have kids, or you are a kid at heart, the­se tales will warm your soul and make you want to find ani­mals to observe!  So come in to KU, grab a sketch­book, then go back out and bond with nature!  And if this post gave you the gar­den­ing itch, we sell “Gar­den-in-a-Bag,” it makes gar­den­ing a sitch.  Go forth into the world and make Beat­rix Pot­ter proud on her birth­day!!!!
beatrix-potter

23 Jul
2015

A Tribute to Daniel Radcliffe

Today’s Daniel Radcliffe’s birth­day and we want­ed to cel­e­brate the won­der­ful man he is.

Here he is rap­ping Eminem.

Here he is walk­ing like, a bil­lion dogs.

Daniel Radcliffe films a scene on the set of the motion picture "Trainwreck" in Bryant Park. CREDIT: Abaca USA/AKM-GSI [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Daniel Rad­clif­fe films a scene on the set of the motion pic­ture “Train­wreck” in Bryant Park. CREDIT: Aba­ca USA/AKM-GSI [Via Mer­lin­FTP Drop]

Here he is um, being HARRY POTTER.
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Angsty Har­ry was my favorite

Don’t you just want to be BFF with him?

Happy Dan

He gives to great char­i­ties, and look, here he is with a cute PUPPY!

Puppy

I have no idea what this pic­ture is for/about but I don’t real­ly care.

He’s weird, but he’s my kind of weird.

Dan bongos

To con­clude, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAN!

21 Jul
2015

Zoo Keeper Week

I went to the Zoo just about every year when I was a kid. But for some rea­son, my most vivid mem­o­ry from the zoo is scrap­ing my knee and cry­ing by the polar bears. It was a great time.

How­ev­er, when we were choos­ing blogs this mon­th, I just knew that I need­ed to write some­thing. Because despite not real­ly being like the most enthu­si­as­tic per­son when it comes to zoo vis­its, I can per­son­al­ly tell you about my time at Steve Irwin’s house.

Okay, no. That’s a lie. I was at his Zoo. But he grew up there! At the zoo! his house is on the prop­er­ty! He got to wake up every morn­ing and feed those croc­o­diles.
Crikey!

The day I was at Steve Irwin’s zoo, it was pret­ty cloudy. So my pic­tures aren’t the best. But I want­ed to share them with you, because it was super cool to be walk­ing the same ground that Steve Irwin walked on. In Aus­tralia. Oh, hey. did I men­tion that I went to Aus­tralia? yeah­h­h­hh.

Any­way, here are some pic­tures of Steve Irwin’s back yard. Lit­er­al­ly.

steve jumps

There were pic­tures of Steve every­where.

koala inside

We got to pet this guy.

koala in a tree

So sleepy! .…Which was most­ly what they were like the whole day.

roo heaven

You get to just wan­der loose with the Roos

kanga kisses

Roo Kiss­es!!

feeding me

I got to feed the lit­tle guys! And also scritch them.

croc

no, that is not a real croc. It IS, how­ev­er, a life-sized mod­el. OMG.

croc in water

This crock is about to get fed. in front of us.

croc feeding

That real­ly brave guy is hand­ing the giant male croc meats. From his hand. He does it mul­ti­ple times a day, but he was still ner­vous as hell.

 

20 Jul
2015

Who Said That? A Guide to Ventriloquism Week

The late, great Edgar Bergen and his pal Charlie McCarthy

The late, great Edgar Bergen and his pal Char­lie McCarthy

Pret­ty much every­one knows what ven­tril­o­quism is, but in case you don’t, ven­tril­o­quism is the art of throw­ing one’s voice.  The abil­i­ty to speak while appear­ing not to speak.  Great ven­tril­o­quists can have full con­ver­sa­tions with thin air!  Can give life to oth­er­wise inert objects!  (Usu­al­ly a pup­pet of some kind, but it’s fun when it’s some­thing else too!)  Ven­tril­o­quists, in short, make bor­ing (and, depend­ing on the pup­pet, some­times creepy) things fun!

Nation­al Ven­tril­o­quism Week is coor­di­nat­ed through the Vent Haven Muse­um in Cincin­nati.  William Berg­er, a Cincin­nati indus­tri­al­ist, found­ed the muse­um using his large col­lec­tion of ventriloquist’s dum­mies that he had accu­mu­lat­ed over many years and busi­ness trips.  The week is cel­e­brat­ed on the third week of July every year (that’s the 19th through the 25th this year).

Even if you can’t make it out to Cincin­nati for the cel­e­bra­tion, appre­ci­ate the fine art of ven­tril­o­quism by see­ing a show or watch­ing one on Net­flix if there isn’t a live one con­ve­nient.  Or prac­tice some ven­tril­o­quism of your own!  You nev­er know when it might come in handy!

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