Thursday, May 31, 2012

Theme-It Thursday

Jessica Hische
is for Night. 

I love the night sky. Unfortunately I live in a highly-populated area, so there are too many city lights to be able to really see the night sky properly. But the times I have been in the country where it is really dark at night I have been awed by the brilliance of the moon and stars.

This shot of the Pleiades Star Cluster was made using special "narrow-band" filters.

Ed Lunt

And this wallpaper is now my desktop background. I love crescent moons and now I can see it every time I open my computer.


This beautiful photo makes me long for a little cabin where I could sit on the porch and look out at the quiet night and listen to nothing more than the gently lapping water.

And because I love silhouetted trees:

N is for Nail Art. When I started looking at nail art, I found some cute ideas.


I didn't know just how complicated some nail art was. I do love the little watch hanging from the pinkie finger.

And for those who don't have time to do their own nails, you can buy already fancied-up nails. They're called nail chips. You simply glue them to your fingernails and you're good to go. It looks like there's also a little weapon on one of the nails.


N is for Nasturtiums. They are quite the versatile flower. Lovely to look at


and delicious to eat. In soup:

Carrot and Nasturtium Soup

Or salad. 

Nasturtium Salad

And I think Giraffe #60 is serving Nasturtium tea.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

That's Quite a Tower, Eiffel! - La Première Partie


I'm listening to a fascinating account of how the Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 International Exhibition of Paris.

When I started the book, I only expected to hear about the building of the tower. That was enough to get me interested. 

Under Construction, July 1888

 I have always thought of the Eiffel Tower as a magical creation. 

Eiffel Tower

 Especially when lit.

The Eiffel Tower at dusk, from across the Seine.

There was a great deal of opposition to the building of the Eiffel Tower from fellow designers, the French people and even the government. Writer Guy de Maupassant claimed to hate the tower and supposedly ate lunch in the restaurant daily because it was the one place in Paris where he could not see it.

Gustave Eiffel undertook a great deal of study to ensure the stability of his tower. One of the most difficult parts of building the Eiffel Tower was the elevators. The French government wanted to award the contract to a French company, but when none applied it went to the American firm, Otis Brothers & Company. The big problem with building the elevator from the ground floor was due to the curvature of the tower legs.

Phillip McKracke

It was interesting to hear of the interactions of all the people involved in the building of the Eiffel Tower and how their lives were affected by it. And who appeared at the Paris Exhibition. But that's a story for next time.

I don't think Giraffe #59 wants to get on that elevator.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Theme-It Thursday

Jessica Hische
is for Yo-Yo. I'm sure you've played with a yo-yo before. Most kids do. My brother could do a few tricks, like around the world and rock the baby. I was lucky if I could get my yo-yo to come back up properly. But some people go beyond the basics and really make the yo-yo dance. Click on the link to watch this yo-yo champion in action.


Not bad enough I could never do that. What about trying to do it in sync with someone else? Or with two yo-yos at once?


Y is for Yeast. There's nothing quite as good as the smell of something made with yeast baking. My mother was a great baker. She grew up on a farm and her mother baked bread once a week. They kneaded their breads by hand and I did when I was young, Now I use the dough hook on my mixture and it's so much easier.

Here is a recipe I plan to try. You make the dough at night and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning you roll it out, cut into strips, and twist two together to make the shape. Don't they look yummy?

Cherry Danish

Y is for Yellow. When I was young, yellow was my favorite color. I still like it, but it's not a color I wear very often. I wouldn't mind wearing this, though. I got this from Yellow Blog. I didn't even know there was such a site. But I did get some nice pictures for my post.

Yellow Blog

Like this beautiful seahorse. My mother would have loved it.

Yellow Blog

And this beautiful sunset. Or maybe it's a sunrise. I'm not sure how to tell.

Yellow Blog

Giraffe #58 thinks yellow is a great color, too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Did You See That?

The Mad Scientist paid another visit to my class. This time he was talking about optical illusions, something I find fascinating. My students did, too. They counted the towels in this pictures. How many do you see?

Oops! That's not an optical illusion. That's Karl, the Mad Scientist. Here are the towels.

If you guessed two, you were wrong. The lighter-colored towel is really a dog. Of course my class thought that was great. (So did I.)

This optical illusion is one I love because even though I know the two dots are the same distance apart, I still think the two on the right look closer.

Here are a few more optical illusions. In the first, the figures are all the same size. They really don't look it, do they.

This next one has always been a favorite. Can you see the two different women, one old and one young?

And finally, one from an interesting artist, M. C. Escher. I love his works, but you just can't get where you want to go with him!


Can you see the optical illusion in Giraffe #57? It's really a camel. Or is it a camel that's really a giraffe?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Of Automats and Bobby Pins

I've just finished a very interesting book called The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston. It tells the story of Frankie, who receives a scrapbook for her graduation in 1920 and chronicles her life in photos and memorabilia. 


It's fun to see pictures from the 1920s and 30s. Many made me long to have experienced life during that time. For instance, the Automat. Ever since the first time I saw it in a movie I wanted to eat in an Automat.


Sadly, since Automats are no more, I will only get to experience eating in one second hand. In this case, through Frankie.

I remember my mother putting her hair up at night with Bobby pins. These pins were used to keep bobbed hair in place in the 1920s.

Bobby pins came in  black, brown, bronze, blonde and gray.

Nowadays Bobby pins come in as many varieties as one could imagine.




Yes, even giraffes.


Giraffe #56 thinks wearing a giraffe on his head is a fine idea.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Theme-It Thursday

Jessica Hische
is for Veranda. I've always wanted a veranda, although I've always thought of it as a porch. 

Veranda sounds like hot summer evenings with a cool breeze, sitting lazily in a glider/swing with a glass of icy lemonade. So I've decided to upgrade to a veranda.

Now if I'm going to have a veranda, I might as well have one with a lovely view.


I love the blue shutters and chair cushions. They make this veranda look cool and inviting. The perfect place to spend the day. Maybe I'll bring a mattress out and sleep here, too. How lovely would that be?

Avantika Arora

V is for Venus Flytrap, a carnivorous plant that catches insects and other small prey. 

Venus Flytrap

It has trigger hairs that are sensitive to touch.

Trigger Hairs

When the hairs are touched enough to bend, the Venus Flytrap closes on its prey. 

Closed Venus Flytrap

If you grow a Venus Flytrap outside it will get enough insects to eat, but if you grow it inside you are supposed to feed it a couple of times a month. I had a Venus Flytrap years ago. 

I didn't know I was supposed to feed it and I don't think I ever saw it with any insects. But I did like to touch the trigger hairs with my finger to watch it close. Good thing it didn't have teeth or it might have taken a bite out of me.

V is for Violin. The violin is a beautiful string instrument, the smallest and highest pitched of the violin family,

The violin is one of my favorite instruments to listen to. Whether classical played by Sarah Chang:

Or hip hop by Josh Vietti:

Or Irish fiddle by the amazing duo of Neal Pointon and Ciaran Algar. I love it all.

These young men are so good I just have to include another. (Plus I just learned how to embed a YouTube video, so I want to show off!)

Giraffe #55 says he's figured out a way to get with the theme.

Does he look like a V?