Category Archives: Lifestyle / Travel / Life Hacks/ Information

Carnivorous Plants – Beauty, Intrigue, and so much Fun~!

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It all started at Musikfest, when Brook and I bought a venus fly trap for $8. It came in a plastic “to go” cup with a lid on it. We brought it home and stuck that plastic cup into this gorgeous goblet (see photo). What a fun plant to own~! It has been a conversation piece with a show and tell action. Touch inside the traps, and they SNAP shut, surprisingly fast. We have laughed and practically squealed with guests as they tickle these pouches shut.  Our fly trap has grown and prospered… and eaten up the little bugs that used to hover around our plants. Venus Fly Trap ImageWe have gotten 4 of these for Brook’s Aunt for Christmas. Why 4? We have a $20 cap on pollyannas… they are small… and they cost $5 each. I’d have gotten her a $20 BIG monster, but couldn’t find one on short notice. I actually found her’s at Lowes. They come in a plastic terrarium box (see photo). When I took a closer look at these boxes, I noticed that there are maybe 6 different kinds of carnivorous plants illustrated here. So that got me curious…. what would these sketches look like in a photograph?Carnivorous Plants in Commercial  Packaging

Driven by curiosity, I went to my handy dandy “pinterest” account (pinterest is like a social network for images), and was able to find hundreds of images of amazing carnivorous plants. I saved over 200 images to my pin page~! Click here to see over 200 images of carnivorous plants .  But, I am including plenty of pictures here…. because WOW~!

Somewhere in these pictures, I think I saw that there are over 600 different kinds of carnivorous plants. The most common themes are what I’m calling goo-drops, pitcher plants, and traps. The pitchers contain fluid with digestive properties, like stomachs. The goo types are sticky fluid that must look like refreshing dew droplets, but catch insects. The traps end up being a bit like cages. On some level it is a bit sad. I found myself feeling bad for the trapped bugs in the photos, but I confess… less so for the bugs who used to torment us in our kitchen.

I won’t claim to be an expert~! That could happen in time, but it isn’t likely. I just think these are outrageous, and wanted to share them.  Here we go… with comments…

Let’s start with some PRETTY PITCHERS:

Carnivorous PlantPitcher plants are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap. {Putting in the kitchen window, to keep out flies}Fanged pitcher plant (Nepenthes bicalcarata) - The tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes) of Asia are amongst the largest and most spectacular of all carnivorous plants (4), being equipped with large, modified, pitcher-shaped leaves with which to trap and digest small organisms (5). These deadly traps hang from coiled tendrils, and are filled with acidic digestive juices. In order to prevent the digestive liquid from being diluted by rainwater, the pitchers are covered by small lids as they growCarnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plant

Here are some of the sticky “Goo-Drops” plants.

I gotta say, these photograph great~!

Sundew (carnivorous plant)

Sundews - Carnivorous plants of Australia

Gilles Tran © 1993-2009 www.oyonale.comClimbing Sundew by Wolfgang Glowacki, Tasmania. Carnivorous plants that live on the bodies of dead insects..yummy.

Drosera capensis  Sundews are carnivorous plants that utilize sticky drops of mucilage to trap and asphyxiate insects. Enzymes are then released to break down and absorb the prey.  Image

Kihokki, Arto Raappana (Drosera rotundifolia)sundew carnivorous plant

OH NO~!  

LOOK OUT LITTLE FRIENDS~!

Watch this free instructional Twig video about Carnivorous Plants

Nepenthes Flava (Carnivorous plant)http://endangeredspeciesprintproject.blogspot.com/2010/04/endangered-strangers-rafflesia.htmlCareful Froggy, thats a carnivorous plant your hiding in!

Don’t these next few look particularly fierce?~!

FANGS~!

Nepenthes hamata, carnivorous pitcher plant

The amazing Carnivorous Plants of the world

The Cobra Lily:

Darlingtonia Californica - Carnivorous Pitcher PlantCarnivorous Darlingtonia Californica is undoubtedly one of the coolest looking plants on the planet.

I’d love to have a “caption contest” for this next fierce guy~!  Is he really vicious?

Or is he a plush muppet with string teeth?

AND…..

WHAT oh WHAT is he SAYING?

Hydnora Africana _ Carnivorous Plant

Is this one pretty, or scary~!~?

Drosera regia: carnivorous

A pitcher full of water,

getting ready to make soup for dinner:

An inside look at carnivorous plants - SaraceniasSOUP’s ON~!Nepenthes sibuyanensis: insect-eating carnivorous plants in the liquid in their “wells”. Anecdotally the largest can hold 3.5 liters. water and rodents were found within them.

BIG and little….

pitchers come in ALL sizes:

Nepenthes robcantleyi 'Queen of Hearts' is a tropical pitcher plant (carnivorous plant)

Miniature Carnivorous Nepenthes Pitcher Plant Terrarium - www.missmossgifts.com/shop/tiny-carnivorous-pitcher-plant-terrarium/Homage to the Curious      Did you know that pitcher plants were so beautiful?    http://lilabdesign.com/portfolio/homage-to-the-curious#

Charming in Terrariums:

Homage to the Curious  http://lilabdesign.com

Deluxe terrarium with mosses and carnivorous pitcher plants.  Large enough to really hold the light among the leafs and lovely landscapingAdd (fake) bird eggs and carnivorous plants to make your Terrariums more interesting. (remember to fertilize)

Carnivorous plant terrarium, with upright growing sarracenias, sundews, and mosses. Vessel by roost.

Garden Show~!

Plant show in Seattle.... Preparing Carnivorous Plant Display by NextGenGardener, via Flickr

Books and Carnivorous Plant Clubs…

A whole sub-culture I never knew about~!The Savage Garden, Revised: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants

Victorian Carnivorous Plant Society

Worth Attention… USPS STAMPS~!

Carnivorous Plants / Insects  United States, 1981

Too CUTE to be DEADLY:

Drosera rotundifolia (the common sundew or round-leaved sundew) is a species of sundew, a carnivorous plant often found in bogs, marshes and fens. One of the most widespread sundew species, it is generally circumboreal, being found in all of northern Europe, much of Siberia, large parts of northern North America, Korea, Japan and is also found on New Guinea.Such a stunning shot of :: Drosera roraimae, Sundew, tepui "B", Canaima National Park, Bolivar, Venezuela ::D. Prolifera by ramamayoor - see others on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/57225267@N06/

Butterwort - carnivorous plant

Too ELEGANT to be DEADLY:

Carnivorous Plant I - Photography by Nancy MuellerCarnivorous Plant by njchow82, via Flickr

For the collector:

Spooky Plants for the Creepiest Centerpieces. Create a surreal scene with the flamelike stems of ‘Sticks on Fire’ Euphorbia tirucalli and a container of carnivorous plants. Here, Cobra plants (Darlingtonia californica) arch over smaller Venus flytraps and pitcher plants. Finish off the display with Swiss cheese vine (Monstera obliqua), planted in a low bowl so its leaves creep out onto the table.

This display of exotic insect-eating plants won Hampshire Carnivorous Plants another RHS gold medal and the coveted Tudor Rose Award in the floral marquee section.

Grow your own from seeds… warning: it takes time, but is said to be a fun growth process.

Desktop Carnivorous Plant Set Link

Click here to see over 200 images of carnivorous plants. When you follow the link, I’d like you to know that I didn’t write the captions on the photos. I’d also like you to know that many of these photos are actually links that will take you to the original sources. Some are plant experts. Some are nurseries who sell plants. Some are amazing photographers… and more. The links can lead to more fun, information, and beauty. Click TWICE to follow the links.

ALSO….DON’T FORGET TO CLICK IN THE TOP RIGHT HAND CORNER OF THIS PAGE TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG~! We add posts once or twice a week, and we can email you an alert when we do.

See more of our quirky “lifestyle/ travel/ information” posts by clicking here~!

AND…. make sure to LEAVE COMMENTS~!  I love that~!

Stunning Photos of Snowflakes and a Snow Flake Guide

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Last winter I went outside with my dogs at 11PM for the last pee-outing of the day. It was snowing, and cold, and I dreaded that I had to go out. BUT THEN…. as I was outside I noticed that the snow looked particularly sparkly. I bent down to take a closer look, and was astounded at billions upon billions of individual snowflake crystals  settling in layers upon the ground.  They were many different shapes….  many perfect and unique flakes were easy to see. (Lots of pictures below~!)

Where we live in Pennsylvania, we often get a winter that some folks sarcastically call “wimper”. We don’t always get to appreciate these stunningly perfect flakes. But, I found that each snow storm that came last winter, if I would put out my arm, I would see wonderful little flakes settle upon my sleeve. And…. on the ground even more so. It was so marvelous, I literally cried at God’s extravagance. More than we can possibly take in. Piles upon piles of these lovely crystals getting buried under more generally ignored beauty.

Well, it is snowing again, right now. I just went out and enjoyed more snowflakes. Please join me this winter, if you live in or visit a snowy region, in rejoicing in the glory and wonder of snowflakes.

Here is a guide I have copied from Cal tech, featuring macro lens photos by Kenneth Libbrecht and Alexey Kljatov,  so you can appreciate them a bit more:

Snow Flake Guide (from Cal Tech):

Stellar Plates
These common snowflakes are thin, plate-like crystals with six broad arms that form a star-like shape.  Their faces are often decorated with amazingly elaborate and symmetrical markings.stellar plate snowflake
9852597126_97a078c7f2_cstellar plate snowflake
Sectored Plates
Stellar plates often show distinctive ridges that point to the corners between adjacent prism facets.  When these ridges are especially prominent, the crystals are called sectored plates.Sectored Plates snowflake
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)
Stellar Dendrites
Dendritic means “tree-like”, so stellar dendrites are plate-like snow crystals that have branches and sidebranches.  These are fairly large crystals, typically 2-4 mm in diameter, that are easily seen with the naked eye.
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)Stellar Dendrites snowflakes
Fernlike Stellar Dendrites
Sometimes the branches of stellar crystals have so many sidebranches they look a bit like ferns, so we call them fernlike stellar dendrites.  These are the largest snow crystals, often falling to earth with diameters of 5 mm or more.  In spite of their large size, these are single crystals of ice — the water molecules are lined up from one end to the other.
Fernlike Stellar Dendrites Snowflakes
Hollow Columns
Hexagonal columns often form with conical hollow regions in their ends, and such forms are called hollow columns.  These crystals are small, so you need a good magnifier to see the hollow regions.Hollow Columns Snowflake
Hollow Columns Snowflakes
Capped Columns
These crystals first grow into stubby columns, and then they blow into a region of the clouds where the growth becomes plate-like.  The result is two thin, plate-like crystals growing on the ends of an ice column.  Capped columns don’t appear in every snowfall, but you can find them if you look for them.Capped Columns Snowflakes
Capped Columns Snowflakes
Double Plates
A double plate is basically a capped column with an especially short central column.  The plates are so close together that inevitably one grows out faster and shields the other from its source of water vapor.  The result is one large plate connected to a much smaller one.  These crystals are common — many snowflakes that look like ordinary stellar plates are actually double plates if you look closely.Double Plates Snowflakes
Double Plates SnowflakesDouble Plates Snowflakes
Simple Prisms
A hexagonal prism is the most basic snow crystal geometry (see the Snowflake Primer).  Depending on how fast the different facets grow, snow crystal prisms can appear as thin hexagonal plates, slender hexagonal columns (shaped a lot like wooden pencils), or anything in between.  Simple prisms are usually so small they can barely be seen with the naked eye.
Photograph by Alexey Kljatov (ChaoticMind75)Simple Prism SnowflakeSimple Prism Snowflake
Triangular Crystals
Plates sometimes grow as truncated triangles when the temperature is near -2 C (28 F).  If the corners of the plates sprout arms, the result is an odd version of a stellar plate crystal.  These crystals are relatively rare.
Triangular Crystal Snowflakes
Triangular Crystal Snowflakes
Bullet Rosettes
The nucleation of an ice grain sometimes yields multiple crystals all growing together at random orientations.  When the different pieces grow into columns, the result is called a bullet rosette.  These polycrystals often break up to leave isolated bullet-shaped crystals.
Bullet Rosette Snowflakes
12-Sided Snowflakes
Sometimes capped columns form with a twist, a 30-degree twist to be specific.  The two end-plates are both six-branched crystals, but one is rotated 30 degrees relative to the other.  This is a form of crystaltwinning, in which two crystals grow joined in a specific orientation.
2-Sided Snowflakes
2-Sided Snowflakes2-Sided Snowflakes

SNOWFLAKE CHART:snow chart - types of snow

Sources:
The photographer of many of these snowflakes, Kenneth Libbrecht, has written a field guide to snowflakes, and has printed other books, too.  Here is a link to the books~!
Here is a link to the snowflake guide page, too. You’d want to visit this site and consider buying the guide books, since there are sooo many more flakes I did not include. You can also see how blobby and ugly artificial snow looks. God does a much better job of making snow~!
The other photographer, Alexey Kljatov (aka ChaoticMind75) is an artist and photographer from Moscow, Russia. In an ongoing series entitled Snowflakes and snow crystals, Alexey takes macro shots of natural snowflakes from right outside of his house. I have used the TwistedSifter Blog post as a resource for the photos by Alexey. Link to Twisted Sifter here.
PLEASE TELL ME SOME SNOWFLAKE STORIES in the comments section~!~!

Rent a Tree House~! Or Build Your Own….

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This made me smile.  (And I love to smile~!) You can rent a treehouse at this resort near Seattle. But these guys also will design and build a treehouse for you. Here are some wonderful pictures of charming tree houses. I want to LIVE in one of these; they are SO cool~!

upper-pond-sh-2burl-sh-2trillium-sh-3bonbibi-sh-4pond-room-sh-1temple-sh-1bonbibi-sh-3brew-house-sh-2brew-house-sh-3irish-cottage-sh-1irish-cottage-sh-4jacks-treehouse-sh-1jacks-treehouse-sh-2TreeHouse Point…. rent a treehouse link.

Nelson Treehouse and Supply… build a treehouse link.

Life Hacks to Get Organized and Clean

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Life Hacks~!

There is no doubt that being clean and organized helps us to be happier.

It preserves a sense of order, making life seem more safe and predictable. But, a college dorm-mate of mine once said, “Floor space is wasted space“. I agree with her, too~!  LOL~! While I sometimes live more like that dorm-mate, I crave cleanliness and order. So, sometimes I find life hacks worth remembering. Here are some I’ll pass along, and maybe even try myself!

organize cords

organize shirts in drawershow to clean a blenderpost-it cleans key boardtake-a-picture-of-the-name-cardclean shower headfolding fitted sheetspot boiling over

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Source: Lifehack.org.

Life Hacks – to make life easier

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I saw a long list of “life hacks” the other day, and decided to look up the term on wikipedia. Seemed obvious, and I was correct: “Life hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way, variably a Juggaar, might be called a life hack.” (Quote from Wikipedia, Click Link to See More).

There is a whole website dedicated to life hacks. Guess what it is called….. yup, Lifehack.org. They have a huge following, so most of you have probably “been there- done that”. But, maybe not. I’m going to limit myself to including only 6 life hack photos in this post. But, I suspect I’ll post more in the future, since they can be pretty practical~!

12 13

84-write-random-letter-1024x44591-iron-inside-out96-drop-the-battery80-take-a-picture-of-your-fridge

Feel free to share some of your good tips or good website links in the comments section~! We never know which ones will stick, right?

Far From Home: When I Joined Peace Corps Africa

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Peace Corps Africa

My blog host (WordPress) has a list called “Daily Prompts“.

These are ideas to inspire blog post topics. I wasn’t looking for the prompt, it found me while I was looking for something else. The topic? “Far From Home; Where have you gone that is far from home”. Man, that took me back in time~! I thought of all the amazing places I have been, and recalled the years prior to these explorations, when I had been so hungry for travel. In one of those hungry phases, I spontaneously filled out an application to join the Peace Corps. It wasn’t a life plan of mine. I just wanted to see more of the world. Well, about 8 months later, I got a call from the recruiter. There would be an assignment opening up in Niger, West Africa. Would I like to go? Well, I gulped, thought about it for a few days, said “YES“, and then hopped on a plane approximately 2 months after that.

Landing in Niger was like getting hit with a blow dryer while standing in an oven. Hot and dry. The landscape is Sub-Sahanan Desert. Think of photos of Ethiopia, and you have the general idea. I stayed there for 2 years. Some of the work I did involved health and nutrition lessons in an all girl’s school. We also had hopes of training these young ladies how to hand-craft all kinds of things as micro-business entrepreneurs. I found the people of Niger to be lighthearted and hospitable. It was a thoroughly amazing experience. I also got to travel to Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Egypt while I was on that continent.

The photo on the top right is my Peace Corps ID…. circa 1998-1990. The photo on the right is from when my Mom came to visit me. She was amazing~! She dove right in, ate the weird food, rode a camel, carried babies strapped on her back, applied make-up to the village girls while holding up a mirror so they could see themselves. We had our feet henna’d. The pattern on Mom’s feet was called zigga-zagga. Wonder how they came up with that name? C’est bizarre….we spoke both Zarma and French in my town (Dosso).

I have been home for 30 years (Imagine that~!), and Peace Corps Niger has left a big mark on my life and my heart. I ended up starting my own hand-crafted micro-business, Hayden Brook Studios. My husband and I make colorful glass jewelry as our primary source of income. You can see the amazing colors of the West African clothing all over our design lines. But beyond that, I still have a heart for helping these far off nations. If I can’t GO, I can still participate~! Brook and I host a website for our ministry called “The Gift List“. It informs and raises funds for amazing projects in these far away places. Just last month Brook and I bought cook stoves for 2 families in Peru~! How awesome to be able to help out like this~! Makes us feel good. And, because we know the person who builds the stoves, we know that ALL of our money is going toward stoves, and not helping some random CEO to get fat off of donations~!

NOW…. Your turn: where have YOU gone….. OR what donations catch your heart? Or, tell me how cute I was when I was 20 pounds lighter and 30 years younger~!

Our Seagulls in Morro Bay

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My brother and I stayed in Morro Bay, California, while we were visiting Dad for his 75th birthday celebration. We had our very own Flock of Seagulls who would visit our hotel balcony every morning and night. We named them, and gave them nutritious snacks. It gave us such joy to bond with these guys. In a strange way, they were the icing on the trip.

Click here to see the video.

Mountain of Gold – California Vacation

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Montana de Oro State Park,

Los Osos, California

I had the great joy of getting to visit this stunning place with my family. We found a lovely tide pool, got soaked by a crazy cool blow hole, and ran the dogs around a dramatic Pirate’s Cove. What a great day~!

Joseph at Montana de Oro

Click on here to go to our youtube home movie.