Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Search Engine

I wanted to let you all know about a new search engine (as good as google, yahoo, etc) that donates up to 80% of the $$ generated from users clicking on the sponsored links to a rainforest protection program run by the WWF!! Also, all of their servers are run on green electricity, so they do not cause any CO2 emissions!!! Check them out by clicking the link below. If you like the idea, make them your new homepage and tell everyone you know! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Award!

Teresa over at Life Homesteading and Everything gave me this award 11 days ago but have just gotten around to it now... THANKS Teresa!! I am honoured!

The rules to this award are to list 10 things and 10 blogs that make you happy.


1) Snow days like yesterday! We got 30 cm of snow in the night and the University was closed...a great day to go for a walk, make some soups and work on my thesis... This is the view from out our back door in morning!
2) Cooking! It is so relaxing and rewarding. My body always feels better with a home cooked meal! This is a cream of broccoli soup I made last week...delicious and not a lot of cream!
3) My fish tanks...I already posted about those here and here.

4) My blooming orchids! I took these photos this morning...I love the light that reflects from the snow.
5) My first cup of coffee in the morning.

6) Singing birds when I walk to work.

7) Sunshine streaming in my window in the morning.

8) Swimming. I do this at least twice a week and it is so relaxing and calming. I LOVE being in the water!

9) Practicing Yoga. I am taking this amazing Vinyasa Flow class twice a week and I supplement with some Ashtanga 1-2 times per week. It is so calming and invigorating at the same time. My body and soul thank me every time I do it.

10) Last but definitely not least....being madly in love with Diego even after 7 years!

Blogs that make me happy.

1) Lisa at Eco Yogini. She is always so informative and candid. Her honesty is refreshing! :)

2) Barb at Mammy's Love. Her journey through whatever life throws her way is inspiring!

3) Sherrie at twenty-two pleasant. Her energy level, recipes and craftiness keep me coming back for more. Not to mention her cute little boy P...and Boy #2 on the way! :)

4) Vickie at Frenchy Addict. I strive to have her outlook on life now and keep it as I age. Not to mention she is such a talented knitter!

5) Sarah C at Blooming Where I am. The anecdotes and things to be thankful for really make you be thankful for your life and surroundings!

6) Little House in the Suburbs. SUPER Informative on anything from making your very first vegetable garden to homemade beauty products and cinnamon toast!

7) Cake at Whistling Leaf Blower. I love reading about her adventures and great recipes! Cosmo always makes me smile!

8) Parikha at Sixoneseven. Great recipes, gorgeous knitting ideas and beautiful baby D.

9) Ingrid at Words Starting wiht "P" are Cute. A very talent woman, spinning her own yarn! Any news on the newt?

10) Teresa at Life, Homesteading and Everything. Back at you Teresa! I love your blog...the homeschooling stories, anecdotes, recipes, all keep me fed and laughing!

Don't feel like you have to play along but I wanted to let you all in on a little piece of my happiness! :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010


It has been a while since I posted a photo of our favorite fish tank...much has happened in our lives the last year which means it got a little neglected. I still changed the water but it was starting to look sad. So over the Holidays Diego and I decided to dedicate some time (and $$) to making the kitchen tank look beautiful again!
Diego and I built the canopy (the top part that holds the lights) and stand in 2005...our 1st carpentry project together! It took 2 weeks because the tank is 6 ft long and 2 feet wide (and 2 feet tall!), so it needed to be huge and well...we didn't know that a 2" x 4" is actually 1.75" x 3.5" so we had a few issues. Regardless, it turned out and now we have a beautiful stand and workstation...this is my workstation, so I am looking at this as I write! I love it! It makes me HAPPY! :)
This is our giant clam (Tridacna squamosa) which we have had for a year in another tank but decided it was high time for it to be front and centre (it is the size of a football!)! This is not your typical clam, most live in the sediment and filter particles out of the water for food. This one does filter particles BUT it also photosynthesizes like plants! Which means it needs light to survive! In it's beautiful mantle (the purple part) it hosts symbiotic algae cells. Symbiosis describes a relationship between 2 organisms where both organisms benefit and in this case the algae (called zooxanthella) provide sugar (product of photosynthesis and the basis of metabolism) to the clam in exchange for nitrogen and other nutrients the algae need to grow! Corals have the same relationship with the same type of algae and they too capture particles to supplement their diet. I think they are among the coolest things ever! (**Note: I say this A LOT when it comes to anything alive in the sea or on land...I LOVE the natural world and am fascinated by no matter how often I say it, I mean it!).

Here is a little tour of our tank. The blue fish you see perched at the beginning is a bicolour blenny, the only other fish we have are 2 clownfish and a Hippo Tang (that is very shy so is not in the video).

The other REALLY COOL thing we got recently was a rock that is covered with a species of hard coral called Porites that has Christmas tree worms, barnacles and (here it comes...) the COOLEST filter feeding crabs! Check out the video! (My apologies for the blurry parts...).

The crabs live in holes in the rock/coral and have modified antennae that look like combs that they sweep through the water to capture passing particles!!! They then take their "net" to their mouth and just clean it off and stick it back out to catch more! They are so CUTE! The video gets in nice and close to one of them. We have 4 living in our rock. Two that have spotted claws like the one in the video and the 2 others have stripes!
The Christmas tree worms, are tube building filter feeding worms. They come in many colours, on our rock we have blue, white and brown, and red ones. You cans see a blue one at the beginning of the video on the bottom right of the rock. You will see some blurry and not so blurry close ups of some of the worms. You can see that they have a spiral top that is wide at the base and tapers as it gets to the top. If you have seen Avatar, you have seen these as terrestrial plants that when touched retract into their tube. These "plants" in the movie look EXACTLY like these worms. Although, I was perplexed at what these "plants" fed on in air...the delicate feathery top of these worms is designed to capture small passing particles in the water, not in air. The entire surface of the feeding appendages (feathery top) are covered in tiny hairs called cilia (the same kind that line your lungs) that move the food down to the worms mouth at the centre of the base of the feathery top. They actually do retract very quickly into their tubes, like the plants in Avatar, to avoid being eaten by passing fish. They are actually light sensitive (as well as motion), so if a fish passes overheadand and casts a shadow they will retract.
Last but not least, the barnacles! You can see one feeding on the bottom left of the screen as the video zooms in on the crab. It too is a filter feeder...can you tell that there is lots of food in the water column in the ocean? So many organsms make a living capturing suspended particles from the water column! Barnacles are cool in that they are a crustacean, like the crabs, but they have built an outer shell that houses a little shrimp-like animal inside. The little barnacle lays on his back inside the shell and uses a modified arm that acts like a giant fan that they stick out to capture passing food. Also, relative to their body size, barnacles have been deemed the organisms that have the longest penis in the world! Why is this you ask? Well since they live attached to the bottom, their nearest neighbour could be quite a distance away (ie: a few centimeters) so to be able to reach them...they have a really long penis!

Although marine tanks are AMAZING, there are many sustainability issues that surround the industry. Suffice to say in this post that we only buy tank-bred or sustainably harvested fish, corals and other invertebrates. The majority of our corals were grown here in Halifax and our rocks handmade by a close friend. I will save the issues and more eco-friendly options for another post.

Well that's it for today! Have a great weekend!! :)