Archive for February, 2016

Happy Leap Day 2016!

February 29, 2016

In order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year, there is one extra day in February every four years.  This year is commonly referred to as Leap Year with February 29th (the actual extra day) being designated as Leap Day.

According to the Gregorian calendar, there are three criteria that must be met for a year to be classified as a leap year:

  • The year can be evenly divided by 4;
  • If the year can be evenly divided by 100, it is NOT a leap year, unless;
  • The year is also evenly divisible by 400. Then it is a leap year.

There are some interesting traditions and custom that accompany leap year:

  • Women can propose to the men.
  • People who are born on February 29 – who are all invited to join The Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.  People born on the 29 generally celebrate their birthdays (during the common years) on either February 28 or March 1.
  • it is considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day.
  • in some places, leap day has been known as ‘Bachelors’ Day’. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.

The Game of Life . . . !

February 28, 2016

The following quotation was immortalized in the movie Forrest Gump when Forrest (played by Tom Hanks) said “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  This statement is generally believed to mean that life is full of surprises and that you never know what will happen next.  Well, in a similar vein, but with a totally different meaning/connotation, I ran across another quotation that posits that we do in fact know what will happen next (the question remains the immediacy with which it might happen).  Just something to ponder this quiet Sunday morning.

“The game of life is a game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.” (Florence Scovel Shinn)

And Then, I Just Stopped!

February 27, 2016

It probably doesn’t happen too often (and I didn’t even know there was a word for this), but every once in a while you just reach the point of aposiopesis . . . and that’s that!


\ ap-uh-sahy-uhpee-sis \, noun;

 1. Rhetoric. a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed.

Chocolate Cake, With a Twist!

February 26, 2016

Happy Friday!  Looking for something to do this weekend?  Here is a recipe that I recently encountered that I can’t way to try out.  And, while they may be slightly labor-intensive, I have always found that the time spent is usually well worth the effort.

Chocolate-Buttermilk Snack Cakes

1 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of brewed coffee, cooled
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1-1/3 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of canola oil
1 large egg

Filling and Frosting
3/4 cup of mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of confectioners’ sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder
Pinch of salt
12 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
Assorted sprinkles

Make the cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously coat your muffin tins with nonstick spray.  In a small bowl whisk the buttermilk with the coffee and vanilla.  In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the granulated sugar with the oil at medium-high speed until blended; beat in the egg.  At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients  and the buttermilk mixture in three alternating batches.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup.

3.  Bake the cakes for about 12 minutes, until risen and a toothpick  inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans for 3-5 minutes.  Carefully invert the cakes onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (this will help them flatten slightly).  Let cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Make the filling and the frosting
4. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, espresso, and salt at medium speed until smooth and thick.

5. Spread the mascarpone filling onto the flat sides of half the cakes.  Top with the remaining cakes and press down to spread the mixture.  Dip one half of each cake sandwich in the melted chocolate and coat with sprinkles.  Refrigerate until set (at least one hour or up to three days).  Serve the cakes cold.


February 25, 2016

Here’s the next installment of manners and etiquette (courtesy of the Goops)?

When you travel in the street,
Are you cautious and discreet?
Do you look about for horses
When your little brother crosses?
Do you go the shortest way,
Never stopping once to play?

Source: Goops and How to Be Them: a Manual of Manners for Polite Infants Inculcating Many Juvenile Virtues Both by Precept and Example by Gelett Burgess.

Some Heavy-Body Acrylic!

February 24, 2016

Duvall - Pearl GardenHere is one of the newer acquisitions to my growing art collection.  This one was created by a fairly new artist (an MBA student who was challenged by a professor to “do something outside your comfort zone”).  Who knew there was a latent artist waiting to explode on the scene with a fresh perspective.  Using heavy-body acrylics, inks, and dyes, Duane is able to create a look of “freshly-painted” or “still wet” in all of his pieces.  It was love at first sight for this one (as are many of my acquisitions).  The artist: Duane Duvall; the title: Pearl Garden; the medium: heavy-body acrylic (and palette knife).  The thickness of the paint also provides this piece with a bit of a 3-D appearance as the images/forms seem to leap right off the canvas at you.

College Basketball 2016, Week Sixteen!

February 23, 2016

127The Spartans avenged their one-point loss to Wisconsin from earlier this season by starting hot and never letting up.  The win vaulted the Spartans from eighth in the Big Ten to tied for fifth (with Wisconsin) and just two-and-a-half games behind the league leader (Indiana) with four games remaining. The Spartans also moved up in the rankings and are now the highest ranking Big Ten team at #6 (B1G has three teams in the top-10).  The Big Ten currently has five (5)  teams in the AP top-25: Michigan State (#6), Iowa (#8), Maryland (#10),  Indiana (#18), and Purdue (#20).

Next up for the Spartans: on the road at Ohio State (tonight) then at home against Penn State (Sunday).  Go Green!

The upsets this week included:
Oklahoma (#3) losing to unranked Texas Tech by two (2) points.
Virginia (#3) losing to Miami (#12) by three (3) points.
Iowa (#4) losing to unranked Penn State by four (4) points.
North Carolina (#5) losing to Duke (#20) by one (1) point.
Maryland (#6) losing to unranked Minnesota by five (5) points.
West Virginia (#10) losing to Texas (#24).
Iowa State (#13) losing to Baylor (#25) in overtime.
Kentucky (#14) losing to unranked Texas A&M by two (2) points in overtime.
Dayton (#15) losing to unranked St. Joseph’s.
Dayton (#15) losing to  unranked St. Bonaventure.
Purdue (#17) losing to Indiana (#22) by four (4) points.
Notre Dame (#19) losing to unranked Georgia Tech by one (1) point.
SMU (#21) losing to unranked Connecticut by six (6) points.
Texas (#24) losing to Baylor (#25).

The close calls this week (won by six points or less [two scores] or in overtime) included:
Maryland (#6) defeating unranked Michigan by four (4) points.
Texas (#25) defeating unranked Kansas State by one (1) point.

Top-25 match-ups won by the higher-ranked team included:
Oklahoma (#3) defeating West Virginia (#10).
North Carolina (#5) defeating Miami (#11).
Xavier (#8) defeating Providence (#23).
West Virginia (#14) defeating Iowa State (#17).
Louisville (#18) defeating Duke (#20).

This is Heavy!

February 22, 2016

While couch-potato-ism is not relegated to any single season or time of year, the colder temperatures of winter certainly don’t encourage people to get up and get active.  So, here’s an interesting infographic that depicts the cost of obesity.

Cost of Obesity Infograph

So, Do You Really Like Star Wars?

February 21, 2016

Yes, the movie has been in theaters for a couple of months now, but can a true fan ever get enough?  Here are a couple of musical medleys that are sure to brighten your day  . . . a vocal, a cappella version (I have long been a fan of a cappella), and a violin a la light saber version.  Enjoy!

Craving a Little Olive Garden?!

February 20, 2016

I’m not sure about you, but Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli is simply out of this world.  Here is a wonderful recipe for this fabulous soup that you can create at home.

Pasta e Fagioli

1 pound of ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks of celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (15-ounce) red kidney beans (with the liquid)
1 can (15-ounce) great northern beans (with the liquid)
1 can (15-ounce) tomato sauce
1 can (12-ounce) V-8 juice
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of basil
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1/2 pound of ditali pasta

1.  Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Drain off most of the fat.

2.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.

3.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.

4.  About 50 minutes into the simmering, cook the pasta in 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat.  Cook for 10 minutes or just until the pasta is al dente, or slightly tough and drain.

5.  Add the pasta to the large pot of soup.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more and serve.