Homemade Dog Food Recipe

How to Give Up on the Kibbles and Bits Dog Diet and Embrace Nutrition

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
Homemade dog food ready to serve
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I guess there’s no sugar-coating it; I do dote on my dogs. Which is not such a bad thing. Heck, I like dogs more than I like most humans. Cats? Not so much. But dogs? Yep. I am always looking for ways to make things better. Already I have gotten away from store-bought treats an make them chicken jerky in my food dehydrator.

So the next step? Well, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed read an article about all the bad stuff that goes into your favorite Kibbles-n-Bits type of commercial dog food. It’s pretty crazy. What the heck is a meat by-product anyway? If it is not meat, just say so. Well, long story short, a bit of research and imagination got me to this first stab at a homemade dog food recipe.

Homemade Dog Food Ingredients

This is my first take at the recipe and it is subject to change according to my ever-changing whims. Note however, there was nary a complaint when I served it up!

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 lbs. broccoli, carrots, cauliflower (in a frozen bag or regular produce, your choice)
  • one chunk of ginger, grated, about as big as your thumb.
  • 2 oz. olive oil
  • 1 lb. chicken livers
  • omega 3 source, I just threw in a few capsules
  • pumpkin seeds, about 30 or so

Preparation

This is simple. Just put your very large sauce pan or Dutch oven on the stove and cook everything together. The dogs really don’t care but the meat should be well-done.



I hope you and your dogs will enjoy this homemade dog food recipe. As with all my culinary concoctions, feel free to adapt and make substitutions. Life is good. Appreciate the pups.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

No-Knead Skillet Focaccia

This Organic Italian Bread is Suitable for a Dipping Sauce or As-Is

Photo of Kelly R. Smith   by Kelly R. Smith
No-knead skillet focaccia
No-knead skillet focaccia
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Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread similar in style and texture to pizza; in some places, it is called “pizza bianca”. Focaccia can be served as a side dish or as homemade sandwich bread.

This recipe is rich with olive oil (which keeps it extra moist), topped with fragrant lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, and rosemary, and baked in a skillet to give it a perfectly golden, crispy crust.

You will be using an oven-safe skillet for this recipe. A cast iron skillet is best for achieving a super-crispy crust (and an effort-free way of getting a bit more iron into your diet)), but any oven-proof skillet will work.

Focaccia Ingredient List

Note: Use organic ingredients whenever possible.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink or Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 package Fleischmann’s RapidRise yeast (or comparable)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (straight from my herb garden)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (I just picked one off my Improved Meyer Lemon tree in my garden)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Chopped fresh basil to taste, if desired


Preparation Steps

  1. If you have a food processor, put the flour, salt, and yeast in it, fitted with the blade attachment, and pulse to combine. Add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Pulse until a rough ball of dough forms, about 15 (2-second) pulses. If you don’t have one, mix by hand in a mixing bowl.
  2. Drizzle 2 teaspoons oil in a large bowl. Flour your hands, scoop the dough out of the food processor, and form into a smooth ball. Put the ball of dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so it’s coated on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it sit at warm room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of the oil into your cast iron or other ovenproof skillet and rub it well over the bottom and sides. Punch down the dough and place the dough in the skillet. Coax and stretch the dough to cover the bottom of the skillet until it reaches all the way to the edges. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest at warm room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 450°F.
  4. Lightly dimple the surface of the dough with 2 knuckles. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over the dough so that it pools in some of the indentations and lightly coats the rest of the surface. Sprinkle with the rosemary, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, basil if you opted for it, and a bit more salt if desired. Of course, if you have high blood pressure, don’t.
  5. Place your skillet in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 400°F. Bake until lightly golden-brown. Start checking at 20 to 25 minutes but it may take longer than that.
  6. Remove your skillet from the oven and cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Focaccia is best eaten when warm, but is also good at room temperature. If the crust gets too soft, reheat in a 350°F oven to crisp it up.



See, making no-knead skillet focaccia is a breeze, although it sounds very ooh-la la and exotic. The grocery store certainly prices it that way. But, throw off your consumer price shackles and make your own. Don’t be afraid to modify and experiment.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

8 Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

And How to Grow Hibiscus for Tea at Home

by Kelly R. Smith

Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
Dried hibiscus flowers for healthy tea
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Hibiscus tea (sometimes called “sour tea”) might not be so well known in the USA but it certainly is in other parts of the world. I’ve been drinking it for a few years now, both for the taste and the health benefits; it’s another item in my toolbox to keep my blood pressure in a reasonable range.. I add it to the grounds of my cold brew coffee maker, sometimes with fresh mint from my garden. Yeah, I know; wild, living on the edge. There are several hundred species of hibiscus plants that vary by the location and climate they are grown in, but Hibiscus sabdariffa or roselles is most commonly used to make hibiscus tea. As a bonus, they are stunning in tropical landscape plantings. But we are here to talk about the health benefits of hibiscus tea.

Health Benefits of Hibiscus Tea

  • It lowers blood pressure. This is a big one for me. All blood pressure medications have side effects. For me, I take lisinopril, an ACE inhibitor. It causes coughing and the feeling of being lethargic. Rebekah Edwards says, “A 2013 review by the University of Arizona discovered that hibiscus tea is used in 10 or more countries as a normal hypertension treatment without any reported adverse events or side effects — except in extremely high doses.”1
  • It’s packed with antioxidants. What are antioxidants? They are molecules that help fight compounds we call free radicals, which inflict damage to your cells. The National Library of medicine noting their study says, “Hibiscus anthocyanin extract has reducing power that is approximately 2-fold that of the synthetic antioxidant, butylated hydroanisole.”2 Other than hibiscus, many other foods contain them; tart cherries are a good example.


  • It supports healthy cholesterol and triglycerides. Dyslipidemia is a type of disorder that is characterized by noticeable changes in plasma lipids or lipoproteins, including two you are probably familiar with: cholesterol and triglycerides. As with blood pressure, hibiscus tea’s ability to reduce high “blood lipids” also extends to those with diabetes. A 2009 study had diabetes patients drink hibiscus tea two times a day for a full month and they found a significant increase in HDL (good) cholesterol and a marked decrease in total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.
  • It may help to lower blood fat levels. The National Library of medicine citing a study of sour tea (ST) and black tea (BT) says, “The results of the present study showed that ST has a significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes.”3 Many studies have shown that hibiscus tea reduces blood cholesterol and triglycerides in people suffering from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. That said, other studies have shown conflicting results. Obviously, more research is needed in the general population.
  • It prevents oxidative stress. Like most healthy teas on the market, hibiscus is chock full of antioxidants that combat free radical damage caused by substandard nutrient diets and frequent exposure to dangerous chemicals. These antioxidants are found primarily in the anthocyanins of the plant, the natural pigments that give this flower its brilliant red color.
  • It may boost liver health. Your liver is essential to your overall health. Some of its jobs include producing proteins, secreting bile, and breaking down fat. One small human research study found that supplementing with hibiscus tea raised the antioxidant load in the bloodstream as well as reducing compounds that contribute to oxidative stress that damages cells.
  • It shows promise in fighting certain cancers. Although this idea is only starting to gain traction, there is already some evidence to support hibiscus tea’s anticancer power. It has been shown that hibiscus extracts cause apoptosis, or cell death, in leukemia cells. Although the exact mechanisms behind this aren’t clear as of yet, this could be a promising step in the ever-going fight against leukemia, which affects about a quarter of the children and adolescents currently struggling with cancer.
  • It reduces obesity and related risks. How? Human and animal studies have found a link between hibiscus tea and an elevated metabolism. Hibiscus extract may even inhibit you from absorbing as much starch and sucrose as you might from a typical meal. One study in particular gave 36 overweight participants either hibiscus extract or a placebo. After 12 weeks, hibiscus extract reduced body weight, body fat, body mass index and hip-to-waist ratio


Growing and Preparing Hibiscus for Tea at Home

Test your soil pH in a well-draining area that receives full sun at least six months before planting if possible, and, if needed, amend it using elemental sulfur or dolomitic lime to adjust the pH to between 6.1 and 7.8. The do best in humus-rich soil and full sunlight.

Harvest your flowers after they have bloomed. You want the calyxes (the main body of the flower). They should snap right off. Once you have your harvest, complete the steps to prepare and dry them. This video explains it in detail.

How to process hibiscus flowers for tea

Can you benefit from hibiscus tea? Of course! There’s something for everybody and if you grow your own supply you will save money and be certain it is organic.

Others are Reading

Reference

  1. .Rachael Link, Dr. Axe, Hibiscus Tea: The Antioxidant ‘Therapeutic Agent’ You Should Be Drinking, https://draxe.com/nutrition/hibiscus-tea/
  2. Taofeek O Ajiboye, et al, National Library of medicine, Antioxidant and drug detoxification potentials of Hibiscus sabdariffa anthocyanin extract, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21314460/
  3. Hassan Mozaffari-Khosravi, et al., National Library of medicine, Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19678781/


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Recipe: Chicken Jerky for Dog Treats

Save Money with a Sharp Knife and a Food Dehydrator

by Kelly R. Smith

Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
Chicken jerky in dehydrator for dog treats
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I know, you are probably looking at this and saying, “What? Chicken jerky for dog treats? Is that not just a wee bit indulgent?” Sure you’re right, but hear me out. It’s all about the money and the nutrition. Dog treats are like mattresses; the mark-up on them is outrageous for such a common commodity. Why? Because they can get it. And the nutrition? Just look at the ingredient list on the box. Now look at the ingredient list on a package of raw chicken pieces. No contest.

I have tested this out on our four rescue dogs Eddie, Frankie, Maggie, and Sammie. Why do their names all end with “ie?” I don’t know; another mystery of the universe. Anyway, offering them a commercial treat in one hand and a homemade one in the other, they choose my cuisine every time. Not to pat myself on the back, of course.

What You Need to Make Chicken Jerky

This is fairly easy. You will need a food dehydrator. Depending on the size of your dehydrator you will need skinless chicken pieces. For example, I use an Ivation 6-Tray Food Dehydrator. It’s a commercial version, but reasonably priced. It holds about 2 pounds of chicken. Or beef. Or lots of sliced apples. You get the idea. Yes, this is most likely a model that a prepper or homesteader would invest in. You will also need a very sharp knife and a large cutting board.

Making the Jerky

The process here is straightforward. In fact, it is the same as my teriyaki beef jerky recipe, omitting the marinade overnight step. Of course, if you are making it for you, knock yourself out. Better still, make 3 trays for Fido and 3 for you. That’s called humane, I believe.

Make the slices about 1/4 inch thick. As far as length of the strips go, 3 inches is good. Dogs are more into the dog treat itself, not the specific size. Arrange slices on your dehydrator trays, allowing some space between pieces for air circulation. Set the timer for 8 hours but begin checking it at 6 hours. You will know when it is done but the longer you go the crunchier it will be. That’s up to you and your furry friend. The picture below is our “done.” Compare it to the raw picture at the top of this page.

Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat
Dehydrated chicken jerky, preserved and ready to eat

That’s about all there is to making chicken jerky for dog treats. Store them in the refrigerator and be generous. Your pup may even deign to share with you… if you’re a good human.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Ham and Onion Quiche Recipe

Perfect for Breakfast, Brunch, or Dinner

by Kelly R. Smith

Ham and onion quiche served up
Ham and onion quiche served up!
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Who doesn’t like quiche? It’s easy to make, versatile, and works for any meal. How about after a long weekend workout or a post New Years Eve brunch? The ingredient list is easy to procure if you don’t already have it on hand. As far as ingredients and spices go, there’s no limit that I’ve found. All you really need are eggs and cheese. Heck, you don’t even need a crust if you are on a low-carb regimen like the Atkins diet. To explore a broad range of possibilities, check out a quiche cookbook. But I digress. Let’s jump into my ham and onion quiche recipe.

Quiche Ingredients

  • 1 frozen pie crust, thawed, or make your own
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (whole milk is richer)
  • Kosher or pink salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cooked ham
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Parmesan last night, but it’s your call.)
  • 1 or 2 green onions, chopped (hint: reserve the root section with about 3/4 inch of the onion. Plant it in a pot or your herb garden, roots down, covered with 1/2 inch of soil. 99% chance it will sprout.)


Ham and onion quiche done!
Ham and onion quiche done!

Preparation Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375⁰ F.
  2. Whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and milk, in a mixing bowl.
  3. In the crust, make 2 layers; each has half of the ham, half of the green onions, and 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over it evenly.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over it evenly. Note: as you see in the picture above, I used an oven-safe skillet to hold the pie tin because it was SO full. If you have egg mixture left over, that’s OK; cook it up separately. Waste not, want not.
  6. I baked mine for an hour to perfection; I suggest you start checking after about 40 minutes. If the top jiggles when you shake it, it’s not done.
  7. Remove, cool for a few minutes, and enjoy!


That’s all there is to this easy ham and onion quiche recipe. It may be fairly basic but it’s not hard to see the many possible variations you can come up with depending on your mood. I’m a big believer in experimentation in the kitchen.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Comfort Food Your Kids Will Eat

by Kelly R. Smith

Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
Homemade mac and cheese comfort food
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This Homemade mac and cheese is one of the favorite comfort foods in our humble abode, right up there with my ranch dressing cheeseburger. Even picky kids love it so you can slip in some vegetables if you like (hint, hint). It takes a little longer to make than that boxed stuff, but you have to ask, what is that yellow powder anyway? Soylent yellow? As with all recipes, I use as much organic ingredients as possible, and out of my own garden when possible.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rigatoni or the pasta shape of your choice. I like whole wheat but hey, you’ve got to get the kids to eat it, right?
  • Organic butter for your baking dish
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2” squares or shredded
  • Kosher or pink salt to taste
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if you can find it + a hand-full; I sometimes substitute shredded Swiss for the Reggiano
  • 7 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 35 organic basil leaves, cut into strips, more or less according to your taste. This is just one more reason to keep an organic spice garden. If you don’t have, or can’t find, fresh basil, use basil paste.
Fresh organic basil leaves
Fresh organic basil leaves


Preparation

  1. Cook your pasta to al dente texture.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Drain your pasta and rub organic butter liberally in a 9” X 13” Pyrex® baking dish and add the pasta.
  4. In a saucepan, combine the mozzarella, 2 cups of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Half-and-Half.
  5. Simmer, stirring often, until it’s a nice gooey mess!
  6. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Salt with caution if you have high blood pressure.
  7. Turn off the heat; stir in the tomatoes and basil.
  8. Pour the mixture all over the pasta and mix it in.
  9. Top with the hand-full of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  10. Bake for 18 minutes, spoon it out, and enjoy!.


One of the things I like about this recipe is the fact that there a multitude of different ways to modify your ingredients, depending on the whims of you and your family. For example, how about changing up your cheese? Adding blue cheese will give the dish a funky edge that goes well with a red wine. The shape of the pasta? Adding in your favorite spices? It’s your call with this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

The Health Benefits of Quinoa

Vegan Protein, Slow-Burning Fuel, Easy Preparation

by Kelly R. Smith

Cooked red quinoa, ready  to serve
Cooked red quinoa, ready to serve
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Runners, cyclists, and other athletes for that matter, need extra protein in their diet plans compared to their sedentary counterparts. Protein is an essential component in repairing the muscles which break down when working out.

To compound this issue, many people have adopted vegan/vegetarian diets, whether for health, religious, or trendy reasons. This makes it problematic to include a full range of nutrients, proteins and other amino acids in their meals on a daily basis. Ample protein is just one of the health benefits of quinoa.

So, Eat Quinoa for Protein

One of the simplest (and tastiest) ways to add essential amino acids (proteins) into your diet is to eat organic quinoa. This supergrain (pronounced keen-wa) is widely recognized as a “super food” by athletes, foodies, nutritionists, and others.

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, or goosefoot) is not in actuality a true cereal grain, but rather a “pseudo-cereal”; it is a food that is cooked and eaten like grains and has a similar nutrient profile. But from a botanical point of view, quinoa is closer to beets, chard, and spinach, and in fact the leaves can be eaten as well as the grains.



This is an very easy food to cook, just like rice, in fact. It can be eaten by itself or in a variety of dishes. It has long been traditionally cultivated in the Andes mountains located in South America. Fora long time in the past, production dipped as the invading Spanish Conquistadors forced the indigenous Inca Indians to grow potatoes instead. Horses weren’t the only thing they brought to the New World.

Nutritional Overview of Quinoa

There are several varieties available and they average an impressive 16.2% protein. To make a comparison, rice averages a meager 7.5%. It also contains an impressive amount of Lysine (398mg), folate (19% RDA), thiamine (13%), Manganese (58%) and vitamin B6 (11%).

To make matters even better, it ranks 35 on the glycemic index. Now compare that with basmati white rice at 58. A lower ranking means it is a slower-burning food. This makes it a natural choice to fuel endurance sports such as distance running.

Lysine is Important for Active People

The University of Maryland Medical Center says, “Lysine is important for proper growth, and it plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy. It also helps the body absorb and conserve calcium, and it plays an important role in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendon, and cartilage.” It can promote wound healing by helping to create collagen.

Additionally, it may:

  • reduce anxiety by blocking stress response receptors.
  • protect against and treat cold sores by blocking arginine.
  • improve calcium absorption and retention.


How to Cook Quinoa

This grain is easy to cook; most varieties only take 10 to 20 minutes to cook. Just combine a 2 to 1 water/quinoa ratio. Check your package to make sure.

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the quinoa.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Eat it by itself, your recipe, or add it to a salad.

It is also very adaptable to baking. For example, as an ingredient when baking bread. Because of the health benefits of quinoa, it is under consideration as a strong contender for a crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights. It has been designated as a “super crop” by the United Nations because of its potential to feed the hungry masses across the globe.

Further Reading



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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Grow Your Own Orange Tree, Harvest Citrus Fruit

When Life Gives You Oranges, Make Orange Juice!

by Kelly R. Smith

Making fresh orange juice
Making fresh orange juice
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This article was updated on 12/31/20.

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When my daughter Shannon was very young, she had an appetite for oranges that the local grocery store markets as “cuties.” In reality, they are a type of Mandarin orange. Just easy to peel. This caused me to embark on a journey to plant one fruit tree each year. Year one was that Mandarin orange tree, planted in the back yard.

The next year it was a Republic of Texas orange tree (pictured below). In the photo above, you might notice that the rinds darkened a bit from a slight freeze, but the insides remain fine. This tree bears fruit in the summer and by early December it’s ready for picking. No rush though; the fruit will hang there in suspended animation for months.



Choosing Your Fruit Trees

Many people make the mistake of seeing a tree at Walmart, Home Depot, or some other big box store, buying it, planting it, and then wondering why they never get any fruit. Well, it’s because these trees are sold irrespective of customer location. What works in upstate New York does not work here in south Texas. It is all about the growing zone — how freeze-tolerant the tree is. For example, consider the avocado tree. It is a southern tree but some species do well in moderate freezes.

Republic of Texas orange tree
Republic of Texas orange tree

The best bet is to go to a local nursery, after you do your initial research. They have a vested interest in the community and will likely want to keep a customer base. There are other resources to consider. Here, we have Randy Lemon, graduate of Texas A&M, who does a local radio show. I’ve listened to his weekend show for years and I have to admit, I wasn’t totally onboard initially because he poo-pooed organic, but now that his advertisers have began offering organic products, it’s all good. Imagine.

The bottom line here (I know you’ve been waiting for it) is that it is always a good time to put in your own fruit trees. You might be a prepper or not. You might trust organic produce at the grocery store or not. You might just want to save money. Regardless, there is a lot to be said for self-sufficiency. And, if you’ve got the real estate, why not?

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Delicious Foods To Eat For Weight Loss

by Kelly R. Smith

Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
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You might think, like many people, that losing fat weight is always about specific food deprivation and sticking to a banned list. Generally, the list consists of foods that you love the most. Strategies like intermittent fasting really do work; I’ve been doing it for a couple of months and have lost over 10 pounds. But frankly, it’s just not for everyone. But what if I told you about some delicious foods that are assumed by some to be on the banned list but shouldn’t be? Well, it’s true.

Make the Switch Back to Whole Milk

Dairy fat bad; 2% good. Right? So everyone says. In a study by the American Journal of Nutrition, they concluded that, “We observed that higher intakes of high-fat dairy products but not of low-fat dairy products were associated with less weight gain,which seemed to be driven by intakes of whole-fat milk and butter.”1 Why is that? Essential fatty acids are removed when the milk is skimmed. This is the component that can help you feel fuller more rapidly and stay full longer with full fat products, which cuts down on habitual, excessive overeating. Also, when individuals reduce the fat in their diets, they tend to replace it with sugary beverages and other refined carbohydrates.

Spreads Made From Nuts

Peanut butter, Nutella (chocolate hazelnut), and other nut-based favorites deliver healthy fats and an impressive amount of protein and fiber, as well. Peanut butter offers a blend of 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons along with 2 grams of fiber. The Harvard Gazette reported regarding a study, “The regular nut-eaters were found to be more slender than those who didn’t eat nuts, a finding that should alleviate fears that eating a lot of nuts will lead to overweight.”2 The best way to get nuts into your diet other than toast spreads for breakfast is snacking on a couple spoonfuls of nut butters in between meals to control your appetite. That’s good news for me!

Pasta Is Your Friend

Low-carb diets like the Atkins and Ketogenic diets will help you lose weight lightning-fast, but they have their own issues. They are not really “lifestyle” diets; they are restrictive and what about when you eat out? They rely on ketosis, a normal metabolic process that will cause even teetotalers to blow positive on a breathalyzer test. But whole grain pasta takes a long time to digest, leaving you with a steadier source of fuel to support energy levels.

Get Cracking With Eggs

They are high up there in high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. They are a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food when it comes to both snacks and meals, such as a big omelet. They come in at just 70 calories each so there’s no reason not to enjoy the whole egg, yolk and white combined (shell excluded of course). Yes, egg yolks are a significant source of your dietary cholesterol, but recent studies have now proven that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol than was once thought. The most recent evidence suggests that eating whole eggs (in moderation) is safe, and some studies even demonstrate that they may assist in your weight loss when they are eaten in lieu of refined carbohydrates.

Chicken on the Dark Side

You should remove the skin but dark meat poultry (leg and thigh) tends to be more tender, juicy, and rich in flavor than its white meat counterparts. This requires not only less butter or oil to cook it up with, but also less of your favorite sauce or creamy condiments that your breast meat requires. To make things even better, it’s a great source of lean protein that will leave you more satisfied at meal time, so you will be less likely to overeat later. Chicken also makes great jerky if you have a food dehydrator.

The Decadence of Dark Chocolate

One or two squares of this rich, satisfying chocolate will reduce your stress levels and help to curb cravings for other sugar-loaded treats as well. High stress levels has been known lead to cortisol hormone spikes. These increase your appetite and emotional eating behaviors. The desirable benefits of dark chocolate (not regular candy bars) are specific to the concentration of cocoa flavonoids. These have been shown in studies to have multiple health benefits, such as improving blood flow to the brain and reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels, blood sugar and blood pressure. The higher the percentage of cacao, the greater the benefits.



References

  1. Susanne Rautiainen, Lu Wang, I-Min Lee, JoAnn E Manson, Julie E Buring, Howard D Sesso, American Journal of Nutrition, Dairy consumption in association with weight change and risk ofbecoming overweight or obese in middle-aged and older women:a prospective cohort study, https://watermark.silverchair.com/ajcn118406.pdf
  2. The Harvard Gazette, Research also shows people who eat nuts weigh less, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/11/eating-nuts-reduces-risk-of-death/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

A List of Random Trivia Facts

Increase Your Brain Content and be the Life of the Party

by Kelly R. Smith

Do you know your trivia?
Do you know your trivia?
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Ads we feature have been independently selected and reviewed. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission, which helps support the site.

This trivia list was updated on 01/06/21.

Do you like trivia? I love it. My wife (She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed) hates it; too pedestrian, and should I point out, trivial? (See what I did there?) My mother was the trivia boss; nobody could whip her at the game of Trivial Pursuit. In this post I list some of the tidbits that I find interesting as I stumble across them them. I’ll be adding them as I discover them so come back often. You might also enjoy New Years Eve trivia!

Regarding Food & Beverage

Q. Where did Doritos come from anyway?

A. Shortly after Disneyland opened in 1955, the founder of Frito-Lay opened “Casa de Fritos,” a Mexican-style restaurant in Disneyland’s Frontierland. When a vendor noticed the cooks dumping stale tortillas in the trash, he gave the kitchen a little tip: fry them, season them, and sell them as chips. Of course, they were a big hit, and the iconic snack was unofficially born. The VP of Frito-Lay fell in love with the repurposed snack and christened them “Doritos”. The chips proved to be so popular, they were rolled out nationwide in 1966.

Q. Where was Russian dressing invented?

A. Russian dressing was invented in Nashua, New Hampshire, by James E. Colburn who started selling the salad dressing at his store in 1910. By 1914, Colburn began manufacturing and distributing it to retailers and hotels. The condiment came to be called “Russian” since the original recipe included caviar, a staple of Russian cuisine. The dressing is made with a mayonnaise-ketchup base, often complemented with additional ingredients such as pickle relish, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, chives, mustard, and additional spices.

Q. Which of these foods, peas, potatoes, squash, could not have been eaten at the first Thanksgiving?

A. It turns out that our “traditional” Thanksgiving feast may not be as traditional as you might think. Many of the foods we associate with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner were not yet available for “The First Thanksgiving”. Turkey was not the star of the feast either. Instead, venison headlined the meal, although there was a healthy selection of seafood, fowl, and fish. There was no cranberry sauce, no pumkpin pie, and no potatoes. The potato had not yet been grown in North America. There was no gravy either, since they didn’t yet have mills to produce flour.

Q. Introduced in 1954, what was the entrée in the very first frozen “TV Dinner”?

A. The TV dinner owes its existence to Thanksgiving, an order miscalculation, and a salesman named Gerry Thomas. In 1953, the folks at Swanson overestimated how many Thanksgiving turkeys they would sell, leaving the company with an extra 260 tons of frozen birds sitting in ten refrigerated railroad cars. To get rid of them all, salesman Gerry Thomas came up with the idea of filling aluminum trays with the turkey – along with cornbread dressing, gravy, peas, and sweet potatoes. They were sold for 98 cents, and thus, the TV dinner was born.

Q. Breakfastofchampions.com is the official website of which breakfast cereal?

A. Wheaties is well known for featuring prominent athletes on the exterior of its package. The company first sold the product as Washburn’s Gold Medal Wheat Flakes in 1924. After an employee’s wife won a renaming contest, it called the cereal “Wheaties.”The brand adopted the “Breakfast of Champions” slogan in 1933, and in 1934 the Wheaties box featured its first athlete, Lou Gehrig. Its boxes have since been graced by hundreds of other athletes including Michael Jordan (who has appeared on the box 18 times — more than any other athlete).

Q. Which fast-food chain introduced the controversial “Double Down” sandwich?

A. Who needs burger buns when you can use fried chicken instead? We are, of course talking about KFC’s legendary Double Down sandwich. The Double Down is an iconic sandwich with fried bacon, melted cheese, and BBQ sauce all sandwiched between two pieces of chicken fillets. When it was first introduced, it caused a lot of curiosity, because KFC basically replaced the usual burger buns with actual chicken, and deep-fried at that. Genius! It’s not surprising that the limited time sandwich is one of KFC’s bestselling and controversial products ever. No veggie vegan burger here, folks!

Q. Which of these is part of a wine bottle AND a football term? Tackle, punt, rush, or safety?

A. A punt is the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle. Historically, punts were a function of wine bottles being made by glassblowers. The seam was pushed up to make sure the bottle could stand upright. Bottles nowadays are much stronger and machine-made, so the punt is simply part of wine-bottle tradition, though some say it helps collect the sediment as wines age. It’s also thought that the punt consumes some volume of the bottle, allowing the bottle to appear larger for the same amount of wine, which may impress the purchaser.

Regarding Politicians and Politics

Q. What is Senator Mitt Romney’s first name?

A. Romney’s real first name is Willard. He was named after J. Willard Marriott, founder of the Marriott hotel chain, who was Mitt’s father’s best friend. Romney’s middle name, Mitt, comes from his father’s cousin, Milton, who played quarterback for the Chicago Bears back in the 1920s. Romney became governor of Massachusetts in 2003 and ran for the Republican nomination in the 2008 election, losing to candidate John McCain. He made a second run for the U.S. presidency in 2012, but was defeated by President Barack Obama in a tight race. He returned to public office in 2019 as a U.S. senator from Utah.

Q. Which Vice President famously could not spell the word “potato”?

A. In 1992, Dan Quayle altered 12-year-old student William Figueroa’s correct spelling of “potato” to “potatoe” at a school spelling bee in Trenton, New Jersey. Quayle was widely lambasted for his error. What most people don’t know is that Quayle was looking at a flash card provided by the school that had the “correct” answer on it, spelled incorrectly.

Q. Which president cancelled Thanksgiving?

A. Thomas Jefferson was so adamantly against Thanksgiving that he refused to declare it a holiday during his presidency, and many say that he called the holiday “the most ridiculous idea ever conceived.” Most historians agree that Jefferson really refused to declare the holiday because he believed in the separation of church and state, and thought that the day of “prayer” violated the First Amendment. It wasn’t until 1863, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a federal holiday, that it was officially scheduled to fall on the fourth Thursday of every November.

Q. Whose ghost did British Prime Minister Winston Churchill reportedly see in the White House?

A. Stories of a ghostly President Abraham Lincoln wandering the corridors and rooms of the White House have persisted for more than a century. Presidents, first ladies, guests, and members of the White House staff have claimed to have either seen Lincoln or felt his presence. A well-known ghost story was reported by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was a guest at the White House. After a long bath, and naked except for a cigar, Churchill walked into the adjoining bedroom — and there was Abraham Lincoln at the fireplace. Churchill said, “Good evening, Mr. President. You seem to have me at a disadvantage.” He reported that Lincoln smiled softly and then disappeared.

Q. Who was president of the United States for eight hours on July 13, 1985?

A. On July 13, 1985, when President Reagan underwent colon cancer surgery, Vice President George H. W. Bush became the first “acting president” of the United States. Reagan sent letters to the speaker of the House and the Senate president pro tempore advising them he “will be briefly and temporarily incapable of discharging the Constitutional powers and duties of the office of the president” and thus “Vice President George Bush shall discharge those powers and duties”. This transfer of power lasted all of eight hours — from 11:28 a.m. until 7:22 p.m. Various press reports say that for most of his tenure as acting president, George H. W. Bush played tennis.

Q. Who is the only First Lady that did not change her last name upon marriage?

A. Eleanor Roosevelt was the niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt were 5th cousins, once removed, and had known each other since they were two. They were married on March 17, 1905, in a ceremony that featured Theodore walking his niece down the aisle. When asked for his thoughts on the Roosevelt–Roosevelt union, Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is a good thing to keep the name in the family.” Eleanor is the only first lady to not change her last name upon marriage.

Q. The line “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is included in which of the following?

A. This iconic line comes from one of the best-known speeches in American history. On November 19, 1863, in what would become known as the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln expressed his conviction that the Civil War was the ultimate test of whether the Union created in 1776 would survive, or whether it would “perish from the earth.” The dead at Gettysburg had laid down their lives for this noble cause, he said, and it was up to the living to confront the “great task” before them: ensuring that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Q. What were George Washington’s last words?

A. George Washington died on December 14th, 1799, of a throat infection. He passed away in his bedroom in his home at Mount Vernon, with Martha sitting at the foot of his bed. His last words followed instructions he gave his secretary, Tobias Lear, to “have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the vault in less than three days after I am dead”  After Lear confirmed that he understood his mentor’s final wishes, George spoke his final words: “Tis well.” Martha passed away on May 22nd, 1802, about two and a half years after George died.

Regarding the States

Q. Which state’s capital does not begin with the letter “P”?

A. Many people, if put on the spot, would probably assume that Philadelphia is the capital of Pennsylvania. It’s not necessarily a bad guess considering Philadelphia is the most populous city in the state, and once served as the capital of our nation. The city of Lancaster served as the capital of Pennsylvania from 1799 to 1812, after which the capital was moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. With a population just under 50,000, Harrisburg is the 13th largest city in the Commonwealth and the 38th-most populated state capital in the country.

Q. Which of Georgia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont was NOT one of America’s original 13 colonies?

A. Vermont was NOT one of the original 13 colonies. The United States of America initially consisted of 13 states that had been British colonies until their independence was declared in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies consisted of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The 13 colonies were divided into three geographic areas consisting of the New England colonies, the Middle colonies, and the Southern colonies.

Regarding Cities

Q. Which resort city was named after the abundance of trees that grow in the area?

A. Nestled in the heart of the White River National Forest and surrounded by the peaks of the Elk Mountains, Aspen is well known as an iconic ski destination for the rich and famous. It was founded as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom, and was later named Aspen for the abundance of aspen trees in the area. Now known as a world renowned and luxurious ski area, Aspen is also a popular summertime destination with outdoor adventures like running races, hiking, and biking. “I came to Aspen for the winter, but stayed for the summer,” is how many locals respond after telling about the years they have lived in Aspen.

Q. Which U.S. city is known as the “City of Brotherly Love”?

A. In 1682, William Penn founded the city of Philadelphia to serve as capital of the Pennsylvania Colony. The name he gave his city combined the Greek words for love (phileo) and brother (adelphos), setting up its enduring nickname “The City of Brotherly Love”. Coincidentally, the term “Black Friday” originated in Philadelphia, when it was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in 1966 to describe the chaos caused by massive traffic jams, car accidents and congested sidewalks that resulted from the shopping day after Thanksgiving.

Q. Where are the US towns are named “Turkey?”

A. There are four small towns in America that are named after the nation’s favorite bird.  There is Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina, Turkey Creek, Louisiana; and and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, and let’s not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!

Q. On which Hawaiian island is Pearl Harbor located?

A. Pearl Harbor is located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It is located roughly 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland and about 4,000 miles from Japan. Pearl Harbor of course was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on this day, 12/07/41. The Japanese bombings of Pearl Harbor was a pivotal point in world history and President Franklin Roosevelt would famously describe as, “a date which will live in infamy.” Today, Pearl Harbor remains an active military base, and the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet.

Q. What is the capital of the U.S. state where the country’s deepest lake is located?

A. With a depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest lake in the world. Crater Lake is located in south-central Oregon, and Salem is of course, the capital of the state of Oregon. Crater Lake rests in the belly of a dormant volcano. The volcano once stood 12,000 feet tall, but it collapsed after a major eruption 7,700 years ago. The lake is known for its vibrant blue color and purity. Because there are no inflowing streams, the lake is fed solely by rain and snow. According to the National Park Service, it is the cleanest and clearest large body of water in the world.

Regarding Celebrities and Showbiz

Q. Whose 1993 autobiography titled “Private Parts” was released as a movie in 1997?

A. Private Parts is a 1997 biographical comedy film about radio personality Howard Stern, who stars as himself. The film is an adaptation of Stern’s best-selling 1993 book of the same name. The film follows Howard Stern’s life from boyhood to his rise to success in radio. Stern and several of his radio show staff star as themselves in the film, including newscaster and co-host Robin Quivers, producers Fred Norris and Gary Dell’Abate, and comedian Jackie Martling. The film also stars Mary McCormack, Allison Janney, and Paul Giamatti.

Q. Who was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2020?

A. Michael B. Jordan has been crowned 2020’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Michael B. Jordan began his career as a model and actor, landing roles in television shows like “The Wire” and “Friday Night Lights”. Jordan garnered acclaim for his role in the film festival favorite “Fruitvale Station” and for his role as a boxing protégé in “Creed”. His biggest role to date is his portrayal of supervillain Erik Killmonger in Marvel’s “Black Panther“. Previous title holders of the award include John Legend, Idris Elba, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, David Beckham, Chris Hemsworth, Adam Levine, and Channing Tatum.

Q. What real life figure did Leonardo DiCaprio portray in the 2004 movie “The Aviator”?

A. The Aviator is a 2004 epic biographical drama film directed by Martin Scorsese, staring Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. The film depicts the life of Howard Hughes, an aviation pioneer and director of the film Hell’s Angels. The film portrays his life from 1927 to 1947 during which time Hughes became a successful film producer and an aviation magnate while simultaneously growing more unstable due to severe obsessive–compulsive disorder.

Q. Which “Saturday Night Live” cast member was shot and killed by his wife?

A. In 1986, Phil Hartman joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, and was on the show for 8 seasons. Hartman played a wide range of characters including Frank Sinatra, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Ed McMahon, Barbara Bush, and many others. Hartman married his third wife Brynn Omdahl in 1987 and they had two children. Their marriage was troubled by Brynn’s drug use and Phil’s constant absence from home. In 1998, while Hartman was sleeping, his wife shot and killed him, and later committed suicide. It was later discovered that Brynn had alcohol, cocaine, and Zoloft in her system. Phil Hartman was 49 years old.

Q. Who is remembered for the catchphrase “Say good night, Gracie”?

A. This line is spoken by George Burns in the TV show “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show”. George Burns and Gracie Allen met in 1922 while they were both touring on the Vaudeville circuit. After falling in love and getting married, the two developed an act together. By the time they brought their act to TV in 1950, the two were a huge hit. The end of every show became a catchphrase: George and Gracie would come out and do some jokes until it was time to close the show, when George would turn to his wife and tell her, “Say goodnight, Gracie,” and she would simply reply, “Goodnight.”

Q. What is the maximum amount of money that a contestant can possibly win in a single game of “Jeopardy!”?

A. Although it’s never happened, the maximum winnable sum in a single game is $566,400. A single contestant would have to sweep both boards, find all three Daily Doubles – in the top tier and at the end of each round – make them true Daily Doubles and then wager everything in Final Jeopardy! The contestant would have $35,600 after Jeopardy, $283,200 after Double Jeopardy, and $566,400 after Final Jeopardy. The highest one-day winning total was $77,000, a record set by contestant Roger Craig on September 14, 2010.

Q. Which band had a No. 1 hit on the “Rocky III” soundtrack with the song “Eye of The Tiger”?

A. “Eye of the Tiger” is a song by the rock band Survivor. It was the theme song for the film Rocky III, and was recorded at the request of Rocky III star, writer, and director Sylvester Stallone, after Queen denied him permission to use “Another One Bites the Dust”. “Eye of the Tiger” was nominated for the 1982 Academy Award for Best Original Song (the only Oscar nomination for Rocky III), but it lost to “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman. The song was also nominated for the 1983 Grammy Award for Song of the Year, but lost to the Willie Nelson hit “Always on My Mind”.

Q. At 8 minutes and 36 seconds, what is the longest single ever to reach #1 on the Billboard chart?

A. “American Pie” is a song by Don McLean that was a No. 1 hit for a full month in 1972. It is the longest song ever to top the Billboard Hot 100, at a whopping eight minutes and 36 seconds. The 45 RPM single had to be split into two parts, and some DJs only played one side or the other, although many played the uninterrupted album version which includes no fewer than six verses. The repeatedly mentioned phrase “the day the music died” refers to the plane crash that killed rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1959.

Q. What was the fictional town where “The Andy Griffith Show” was set?

A. Mayberry is a fictional community that was the setting for the television sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show.” The show starred Andy Griffith in the role of Andy Taylor, the widowed sheriff of the slow-paced town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Mayberry is said to be based on Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. Mount Airy is also known as Mayberry and called by both names by its residents. According to show episodes, the community of Mayberry was named for fictional founder Lord Mayberry. Purportedly, Andy Griffith himself chose the name of the fictional community.

Q. What was the title of the first video ever posted on YouTube?

A. YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the first video titled “Me at the zoo” to the website on April 23, 2005. The 19-second clip shows Karim standing in front of the elephants at the San Diego Zoo saying “the cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long, um, trunks.” He ends the video simply by stating: “And that’s pretty much all there is to say.” The video doesn’t look like much, but it sparked a revolution. A year after “Me at the zoo,” Karim and his fellow co-founders sold the platform to the social media Google for a whopping $1.65 billion.

Q. Who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Gandhi in the 1982 film of the same name?

A. Gandhi is a 1982 biographical film based on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. It tells the story of Gandhi and his struggle to win independence for India through nonviolent civil disobedience. To embody Mahatma Gandhi, producer and director Richard Attenborough turned to British actor Ben Kingsley, whose father came from the same area in India in which Gandhi was born. The film was a commercial success and received a leading eleven nominations at the 55th Academy Awards, winning eight including for the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Ben Kingsley.

Q. Which television show premiered on the same day that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik?

A. On October 4, 1957, the day Leave It to Beaver premiered on American television, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. Sputnik was a polished metal sphere about the size of a beach ball. It measured 23 inches in diameter, weighed 184 pounds, and circled the Earth once every hour and 36 minutes traveling at 18,000 miles an hour. The U.S. government and scientific community were caught off guard by the Soviet achievement, and their efforts to catch up with the Soviets heralded the beginning of the “Space Race.”

Q. What was the first TV series to be filmed before a live studio audience?

A. Premiering in 1951, I Love Lucy was the first television series to be filmed in front of an audience. This was made possible by the idea of Desi Arnaz to use multiple cameras. This implementation allowed the show to benefit from the strengths of both stage plays (live audience) and film (camera angle options, point of view, etc.). This approach produced a marriage between cinema and theater; television and plays. Shows that subsequently adopted this concept include All in the Family, Cheers, The Jeffersons, Seinfeld, Friends and Full House.

Q. Which band sued Nike after they used the song “Revolution” in one of their commercials?

A. In 1987, the Beatles filed a $15-million lawsuit to halt the use of the band’s 1968 recording of “Revolution” in a Nike running shoes TV commercial. Declaring that the rock group doesn’t “endorse or peddle sneakers or panty hose,” the three surviving Beatles filed the lawsuit objecting to Nike’s use of the song, claiming that the band hadn’t given their “authorization or permission.” Nike stopped running the ads early in 1988, and the “Revolution” lawsuit was settled out-of-court the next year on terms that have been kept secret since.

Q. What were the final words written down by Walt Disney prior to his death?

A. The final words written by Walt Disney were “Kurt Russell”. In 1966, as Disney was suffering from lung cancer and nearing the end of his life, he scribbled down the name “Kurt Russell” on a piece of paper in his office and died soon after. At the time, Russell was a child actor for the studio and had just signed a lengthy contract, according to Disney historian Jim Korkis. To this day, no one knows exactly what Walt Disney meant or intended, including Kurt Russell himself. Walt Disney died on this day in 1966, ten days after his 65th birthday.

Q. Which man was the second person to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine in Great Britain?

A. To be or not to be vaccinated, that is the question. William Shakespeare has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. (Yes, you read that right.) The historic name is shared with the second man in Great Britain to receive Pfizer’s approved COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. The 81-year-old man – Bill to his friends – lives only about 20 miles from the actual Bard’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. The historic importance of the moment and the historic name sparked some fun on social media calling the inoculation, “The Taming of the Flu.”

Q. Which classic Christmas film opens at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

A. Miracle on 34th Street is a 1947 Christmas film that stars Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City, and focuses on the effect of a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real Santa. Miracle on 34th Street was shot on location in New York City, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade sequences filmed live while the 1946 parade was happening.” The film has become a perennial Christmas favorite.

Q. The U2 song “Shadows and Tall Trees” is taken from a chapter title in what famous book?

A. The song “Shadows and Tall Trees” is one of U2’s earliest recordings. The song was inspired by William Golding’s dystopian novel Lord Of The Flies. “Shadows And Tall Trees” happens to be the name of the seventh chapter of the book. In 1978, U2 went into a studio in Dublin to record their first demo tape. During that session they recorded three tracks, “Street Mission,” “Shadows and Tall Trees,” and “The Fool.” They became the first songs used to try to gain the Irish rock band a recording contract. “Shadows and Tall Trees” was the only song from the demo tape to be included on their debut album, Boy.

Q. Which musician sold his entire songwriting catalog in December 2020 for over $300 million?

A. Nearly 60 years after writing such classics as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” Bob Dylan has sold his entire songwriting catalog — more than 600 songs — to Universal Music Publishing Group in a deal reportedly worth more than $300 million. The deal with Dylan may be the highest price ever paid for a musician or group’s songwriting rights. Universal will now collect money any time another musician covers any of those songs, and it will earn revenue for allowing the songs to be used in commercials and movies as well as when the songs are streamed or sold commercially.

Q. Who rode a horse named Trigger?

A. Trigger (originally named Golden Cloud) was a palomino horse made famous in American Western films with his owner and rider, cowboy star Roy Rogers. When Roy Rogers was preparing to make his first movie in a starring role, he was offered a choice of five rented “movie” horses to ride and chose Golden Cloud. Rogers eventually bought him in 1943 and renamed him Trigger for his quickness of both foot and mind. Trigger was ridden by Rogers in many of his motion pictures, becoming one of the most famous horses in film entertainment.

Regarding History

Q. What French explorer claimed what is now Canada for France in 1534?

A. French navigator Jacques Cartier was sent by King Francis I to the New World in search of riches and a new route to Asia. He led three major North American voyages, and his exploration of the St. Lawrence River allowed France to lay claim to lands that would become Canada. On July 24, 1534, Cartier planted a cross with the words, “Long Live the King of France” on the shores of Quebec, thus claiming the region for France. Cartier is also credited with the naming of Canada, which is derived from the Huron-Iroquois word kanata, meaning “village”.

Q. Which iconic event in American history took place on December 16, 1773?

A. On December 16, 1773, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians boarded three British tea ships and dumped 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British government responded harshly, and enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts. The Tea Party became an iconic event which escalated into the American Revolution.

Q. Which song was originally written for the Thanksgiving holiday?

A. “Jingle Bells” is a classic song sung at Christmas time, but it didn’t start out that way. First published in 1857, it was written by James Lord Pierpont, to celebrate Thanksgiving — not Christmas. Pierpont wrote a song called “One Horse Open Sleigh” for a children’s Thanksgiving play. When the song was reissued two years later, it had the more familiar title of “Jingle Bells.” Although “Jingle Bells” is now a Yuletide staple, there is no mention of Christmas anywhere in the song. The holiday ditty became associated with Christmas decades later.

Q. Which insect inspired the term “computer bug”?

A. The first “computer bug” was, in fact, a literal bug. Computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, coined the term bug in 1947 after operators traced an error in Harvard University‘s Mark II computer to a moth trapped in a relay. The moth was carefully removed and taped to the machines’ log book. Grace Hopper added the caption “First actual case of bug being found”. This was the first time anyone used the word “bug” to describe a computer glitch. The engineers who found the moth were the first to literally “debug” a machine.

Q. Who wrote the Gettysburg Address?

A. No, not a trick question. While subsequent presidents have all enjoyed significant assistance from speechwriters in crafting their messages, President Abraham Lincoln took a more hands-on approach and is one of the few presidents in U.S. history to have written the entirety of his speeches and remarks.

Q. Who was the first person to break the sound barrier?

A. On October 14, 1947, U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier. Yeager piloted the rocket-powered Bell X-1 to a speed of Mach 1.07, becoming the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound. In order to reach its testing altitude, the X-1 was air-launched through the bomb bay of a Boeing B-29 Super Fortress, and then used its four-chambered rocket engine to climb to 43,000 feet, exceeding 660 miles per hour. Chuck Yeager, who was later immortalized in the film “The Right Stuff,” died last night at the age of 97.

Q. Sarah Fuller made history as a female kicker for which college football team?

A. Sarah Fuller made college football history last month as the first female to play in a Power Five college football game. The Vanderbilt University senior made her historic debut as a kicker for the Commodores in their face-off last month against the University of Missouri Tigers. The soccer player was recruited after members of the squad’s special teams contracted the coronavirus. On Saturday, Fuller continued to make history. This time, she converted two extra points for the Vanderbilt Commodores, becoming the first woman to score in a Power 5 college football game.

Q. Which product was advertised in the first television commercial in 1941?

A. The first official paid television advertisement was broadcast in the United States on July 1, 1941 over New York station WNBT (now WNBC) before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. Before the game began, TV viewers saw a 10-second advertisement for Bulova clocks and watches. The ad showed a clock and a map of the United States, with a voice-over that says, “America runs on Bulova time”. Bulova paid $9 to run the spot that was seen by about 4,000 people in New York.

Q. When and how did Santa Claus start to be portrayed as he is today?

A. In the early days, Santa Claus was depicted as tall and gaunt, and in some cases, he appeared as a spooky elf with a bishop’s robe and animal skin. In 1931, Coca-Cola illustrator Haddon Sundblom redesigned Santa’s image to use in the company’s magazine ads, and that is the figure recognized today as the jolly old fellow.

Q. How did the United States Playing Card Company contribute to the war effort in WWII and help POWs?

A. During World War II, British and American intelligence agencies joined forces with the United States Playing Card Company to create a very special deck of cards. The cards were handed out for Christmas to help prisoners of war escape  Nazi POW camps. Individual cards peeled apart when moistened, to reveal maps of escape routes.

Q. Which Christmas song was banned in Boston by the Roman Catholic Church in 1952?

A. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” was commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue to go along with a postcard designed for a holiday giveaway. Everyone loved the song when it was released in 1952, except the Roman Catholic Church. When first released, Jimmy Boyd’s record was banned in Boston by the Roman Catholic Church on the grounds it mixed sex with Christmas. Boyd made worldwide news when he went to Boston and met with the leaders of the Church to explain the song. The following Christmas, the ban was lifted.

Q. Which war ended on Christmas Eve?

A. Christmas Eve marks the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. On December 24, 1814, in Ghent, Belgium, the United States and Great Britain came to terms ending two and a half years of fighting the War of 1812. The treaty restored relations between the United States and Great Britain, and foreshadowed more than two centuries of peaceful relations between the two countries. Unfortunately, it took a month for news of the treaty to reach the United States during which American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, and the British won the Battle of Fort Bowyer.

Q. What is the best selling Christmas song of all time?

A. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby is not only the best-selling Christmas single, but also the best-selling single of all time, with sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide. Taking into consideration the sales of cover versions, the number jumps to over 100 million units. The song was listed as the world’s best-selling single in the first-ever Guinness Book of Records (published in 1955) and remarkably still retains the title more than 65 years later. Mariah Carey‘s 1994 track “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is the 11th best-selling single of all time.

Regarding Geography

Q. Which of the Great Lakes is the only one located entirely within the United States?

A. The Great Lakes are a series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the upper mid-east region of North America that connect to the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence River. They are lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes that is located entirely within the United States; the others form a water boundary between the United States and Canada. The Great Lakes are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total area, and second-largest by total volume, containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water by volume.

Q. What was on the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial before it was built?

A. The Tidal Basin, which is the center of the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival and the setting of the Jefferson Memorial, was originally a popular beach that once featured a cabana and diving platform. At the time,  this summertime swimming hole was a “whites only” facility.  After much debate over establishing a similar beach site for African Americans, it was decided that the Tidal Basin would be closed to everyone instead.

Regarding Countries

Q. How many time zones does China have?

A. China is a huge country with only one time zone! That means that in some parts of China, the sun doesn’t rise until 10:00 in the morning. In the past, China has had five different time zones. This lasted until 1949 when Communist leaders decided having one time zone for the entire country was a good idea. Since then, everyone in China is using official Beijing time.

Q. Which country could fit inside Central Park in New York City?

A. Central Park is located in New York City, and has an area of 1.3 square miles. Shockingly, the entire country of Monaco could fit inside of Central Park with plenty of room to spare. With an area of .78 square miles, Monaco is the second smallest country in the world, after Vatican City, and roughly 60% of the size of Central Park. With a population of 38,300, Monaco is also one of the densest countries in the world. Monaco is famous for its lavish wealth, casinos, and glamorous events such as the Monaco Yacht Show and the Monaco Grand Prix.

Q. What is the estimated population of the United States?

A. According to the United States Census Bureau, the population of the United States is currently estimated at 330 million. The population of the United States is equivalent to 4.23% of the total world population. Overall the U.S. remains the third most populous country in the world, behind China (1.44 billion) and India (1.38 billion) and ahead of Indonesia (274 million). According to the agency, the U.S. experiences one birth every 8 seconds; one death every 12 seconds; one international migrant (net) every 47 seconds; with a net gain of one person every 16 seconds.

Regarding Nature and Health

Q. Sunlight is credited for increasing the body’s levels of what vitamin?

A. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to solar rays. If you spend the bulk of your time indoors, you may not produce much vitamin D on your own. Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods, but you can get the nutrient from fortified milk, fortified cereal, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones because your body requires it to absorb calcium. Recent studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

Q. In humans, which gender has XY chromosomes?

A. The sex chromosomes are referred to as X and Y, and their combination determines a person’s sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex. Females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. In humans, the presence of the Y chromosome is typically responsible for triggering male development; in the absence of the Y chromosome, the fetus will undergo female development. The XY sex-determination system is found in humans, most other mammals, some insects, some fish (guppies), and some plants (Ginkgo tree).

Q. Russia’s current coronavirus vaccine shares its name with which of the following?

A. Sputnik V (V for vaccine), is the trademarked name of Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine. In a nod to last century’s Cold War space race, the Russians named the vaccine Sputnik V after the world’s first satellite named Sputnik. Sputnik V has received some questioning from scientists around the world as the vaccine was approved following less than two months of human testing. Russia is not the only world power to draw on outer space for inspiration in naming COVID-19 treatments. In the United States, the Trump administration launched the initiative named “Operation Warp Speed.”

Regarding Irony & Miscellaneous

In 1567, the man said to have the longest beard in the world died after he tripped over his beard running away from a fire.

Q. Which branch of the US Military operates the American Toys for Tots charity?

A. Toys for Tots is a program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks. In 1995, the Secretary of Defense approved Toys for Tots as an official activity of the U. S. Marine Corps and an official mission of the Marine Corps Reserve. Since its founding, The Toys for Tots Program has collected and distributed more than 584 million toys to 265 million children. To make a monetary donation to the program, visit their website at https://www.toysfortots.org

Q. What was the first song to be played in space?

A. “Jingle Bells” was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed prank by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra. In 1965, shortly before Christmas, the astronauts reported that they spotted a UFO entering the Earth’s atmosphere and that it was moving away from the North Pole and headed south. Before the people at NASA’s Mission Control became too shocked, the astronauts started playing the song “Jingle Bells.” The astronauts joined in with Tom Stafford shaking the sleigh bells he had smuggled aboard and Wally Schirra playing a miniature harmonica.

Q. Bill Lear, founder of the Lear Jet, is credited with inventing what music playback format?

A. William Lear, the man behind LearJet, was also the inventor of the 8-track cartridge tape system. The 8-track tape is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that was the preeminent portable and car audio format of the 1970s. The main advantage of the 8-Track tape cartridge was that it did not have to be “flipped over” to play the alternative set of tracks. Eight-track players became less common in the early 1980s, with cassette tapes surpassing it in popularity. Throughout his career of 46 years, William Lear received over 120 patents.


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.