Archive for August, 2010

What, No Corkscrew? No Problem!

August 31, 2010

The next time you find yourself with an unopened bottle of wine and there is no corkscrew to be found, fear not!  Follow these three steps and you should be able to safely extract said cork!  I have never been without a corkscrew myself, but I have had an occasionally “stubborn” bottle of wine where the cork is so firmly set that through only the most herculean of efforts was I able to uncork the bottle.  I’ll have to give this remedy a trythe  next time I run in to one of these difficult corks.

1.  Remove the foil covering and wrap the bottom of the bottle in a thick towel.
2.  Striking firmly, repeatedly hit the bottom of the bottle flush against a hard, vertical surface that has a little give.  A tree trunk is perfect.  Indoors, cushion the bottle in a shoe and hit it against a wall.  The cork will start to protrude.
3.  After the cork is about halfway out, carefully pry it out with your hand.  (If the drink is carbonated, wait 15 minutes before prying.)

Source: Gary Vaynerchuk, host of

If This Doesn’t Make You Smile . . . !

August 30, 2010

Happy Monday!  Hopefully this will put you in a great frame of mind as we begin a new work week.  I found this both charming as well as inspiring and it immediately brought a smile to my face.  Hmm, for some reason I’m wanting to sit down and play my piano.  Enjoy!

Did You Say Shrimp AND Bacon?

August 29, 2010

Why yes I did!  I ran across this recipe today in my Men’s Health magazine.  I’m going to add this to the lineup for later in the week.  But before we get to this recipe, here is a wonderfully inspirational quote for all you perfectionists out there:

“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one would find fault with what he has done.”  (Cardinal Newman)

Shrimp and Spinach Salad with Bacon Dressing

6 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces (What? Only six?)
1 red onion, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper to taste (I’m thinking a little cayenne pepper would spice this up nicely)
2 Tablespoons pine nuts
3 Tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil (optional)
6 ounces baby spinach
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced (I’m thinking that I could probably do without the egg.)

1. Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the bacon pieces until they are crispy (5 to 7 minutes). With a slotted spoon, transfer them onto a paper towel.
2. Add the onion and mushroom to the hot pan and cook them until the onion begins to brown (about 3 minutes). Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add them to the pan along with the pine nuts. when the shrimp are pink and firm (2 to 4 minutes), stir in the vinegar and mustard, and season again with salt and pepper. If the pan looks dry, add a splash of olive oil.
3. Divide teh spinach and eggs among four plates and top with the hot shrimp mixture, some of the dressing from the pan, and the bacon.

This Is Flippin’ Good!

August 28, 2010

The following videos are simply amazing. Damien Walters is one athletically talented lad. He is fun and exhilarating to watch. Precision choreography and beautiful execution . . . no surface is safe!   Jackie Chan, look out, this guy is incredible!  I know that Eveready has the Energizer Bunny, but they may want to offer this guy a contract as well!  He keeps going, and going, and going . . . I’m curious about how many tries it takes to get it right!  Probably not too many . . . he’s awfully good!  Speed, stamina, height, distance . . . he has it all; wow!

Here’s the link to his 2010 video.  His 2009 video is below.  Enjoy!

Gymnastics, fantastics;
all tumbling, no bumbling;
tight places, open spaces;
off the walls, never falls;
from the roofs, no reproofs;
jumping, hopping, never stopping;
energetic, and athletic;
somersaults, as well as vaults;
entertaining, no restraining;
having fun, until he’s done!

You Don’t Say!

August 27, 2010

You say tomato (long “a”), I say tomato (short “a”).  The English language is complex and there are often times alternative ways of pronouncing words.  But have you ever run across someone that just gets it plain wrong?  Or how about spelling?  Are there some words that you just never seem to remember how to spell?   This is what makes a standard dictionary an indispensible addition to your bookshelf (home and/or office).  Or better yet, bookmark one of the free online versions (,, etc.) for easy access or availability.  For issues of grammar and usage, an equally indispensible book to keep handy (in my humble opinion) is the Gregg Reference Manual (they also have an online version that you can purchase).  Bottom line, for spelling, pronounciation, grammar and usage . . . when in doubt, look it up!


\awr-THOH-uh-pee \ , noun;

1.  The study of correct pronunciation.
2.  The study of the relationship between pronunciation of words and their orthography.


\awr-thog-ruh-fee\, noun, plural -phies for 3–5.
1.   the art of writing words with the proper letters, according to accepted usage; correct spelling.
2.   the part of language study concerned with letters and spelling.
3.   a method of spelling, as by the use of an alphabet or other system of symbols; spelling.
4.   a system of such symbols: Missionaries provided the first orthography for the language.
5.  an orthographic projection, or an elevation drawn by means of it.

Zucchini Recipes!

August 26, 2010

As summer draws to a close, here are a couple of recipes (a soup and a dessert) to help you use up any zucchini that you may still have in your gardens.  This first recipe is courtesy of Elise Bauer ( — Spicy Zucchini Soup.  This recipe is quick and easy and very flavorful (the jalapeno adds just the right amount of spiciness, in my humble opinion). 

And, for dessert, why not try these Ginger Zucchini Cupcakes with Orange-Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting?  (Courtesy of Natalie Maxwell [the Daily Crave blog].)  I’m pretty much a sucker for anything containing ginger and cannot wait to try out this new cupcake recipe!    What better way to consume your vegetables than through your dessert?

If you are a food lover, I would highly recommend that you bookmark these two sites ( and

The Birth of the Private Eye (in the U.S.)!

August 25, 2010

Did you know…

… that today is the birthday of Allan Pinkerton, (1819)? In 1850, Allan Pinkerton founded his detective agency, Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency, based on his own incorruptible principles. Pinkerton became famous when he foiled a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln.  

(Courtesy of Audri and Jim Lanford.)

“Vice may triumph for a time, crime may flaunt its victories in the face of honest toilers, but in the end the law will follow the wrong-doer to a bitter fate, and dishonor and punishment will be the portion of those who sin.”

— Allan Pinkerton

Architectural Art, Part II!

August 25, 2010

Here is the second 8″x8″ square that I purchased last month.  The artist: Larry Fox.  The medium: wood.  The Gallery: the Artisan Design Network.  The location: Traverse City, Michigan (downtown on Front Street).  The colors, the flow, the dimensionality (i.e., the depth) make this piece a beautiful compliment to my other piece by this artist.  But now that I think of it, every piece that was displayed  would have been a beautiful compliment to any other piece . . . some better than others (of course), but the style, expression, and simplicity are what set these apart (in my humble opinion) . . . and I just like them!  I’ll just have to pick up some more the next time I’m in town.

Are You Thirsty?

August 24, 2010

As the oppressive heat of summer continues, staying hydrated is the ultimate goal.  How do you quench your thirst?  Water is my beverage of choice, but here’s a graphic by Philip H. Howard (Assistant Professor, Michigan State University — Go Green!) that shows us just how many choices (besides water) we really have when it comes to a satisfying cool beverage (soft drinks).  Despite the plethora of choices, a few conglomerates stand out as the leaders — Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper (together they account for nearly 90% of the beverage market).  Wow!  Click here for a larger (easier to read) version. 

“Soda, soda everywhere, and many drops to drink!” 

I do enjoy an occasional soda, but for me, water is still the drink of choice — it must be the runner in me — nothing hydrates better than the requisite amount of water each day.  I used to drink a little soda(okay, maybe a lot) each day, but I have recently weened myself down to just an occasional taste every now and then.  My soda of choice: Coca Cola . . . but in a pinch, any wet will do!

Listen Up!

August 23, 2010

How well do you listen?  I mean really listen?  Has this become a lost art?   Here are a couple of quotations about listening — I know that this is one area in my communications skill set that could always use improvement.

“We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking.” (Unknown)

“Be different — if you don’t have the facts and knowledge  required, simply listen.  When word gets out that you can listen when others tend to talk, you will be treated as a sage.”  (Edward Koch)

Were you aware that silent and listen are spelled with the same letters?

Here are some tips to help you improve your listening skills (courtesy of Dr. Larry Alan Nadig’s website).

  • Paraphrase — shows your understanding of the message.
  • Reflect back the other person’s
    • Accounts of the facts.
    • Thought and beliefs.
    • Feelings and emotions.
    • Wants, needs, or motivation.
    • Hopes and expectations.
  • Look for the feeling or intent beyond the words.
  • Inhibit your impulse to immediately answer their question.
  • Know when to quit using active listening (you may have to respond with your own message).
  • If you are confused and don’t understand what they are telling you, say so; get clarification.
  • Active listening can be effective in certain situations.
  • Use eye contact and “listening” body language.
  • Be empathic and nonjudgmental.