National Geographic’s ‘Almanac 2021’ Invites Conversation and Critical Thinking [REVIEW]

Birds-eye view of a man standing on Grand Canyon. (Photo courtesy Noelle Otto, Pexels/Canva)

Do you sometimes wish you had a way to determine what the coming year will bring? Now you don’t need one! National Geographic’s editors keep their fingers on the pulse of our world and beyond to cull together loads of thoughtful, fascinating insights each year and they assemble it all in one volume for our perusal, Almanac 2021.

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Six Ways to Chill Out on National Relaxation Day

Relaxing in a hammock

Take time to chill out and relax. Your heart deserves it. (Photo courtesy Canva)

If you’re like us, you like to get things done. Whether we’re managing people on the job site, delegating tasks, streamlining processes, and plowing through our email inbox or at home cleaning the house, organizing the closets, bathing the dog and ironing the clothes, we all have those check lists of chores we feel compelled to accomplish before we fall in bed utterly exhausted. And while there is satisfaction to be gained from those accomplishments, finding time to relax, unwind, and chill out is actually still quite productive. Read more of this post

National Geographic’s ‘The Splendor of Birds’ Is Simply Breathtaking [REVIEW]

Blue-Footed Booby

The blue-footed booby is only one of the many birds featured in National Geographic’s The Splendor of Birds. (Photo courtesy National Geographic)

Birds. There is something truly special about these creatures that captures the imaginations of all of us. Whether we’re feeding ducks at a park or hummingbirds nectar outside our window, watching predatory hawks soar high in the sky or an ominous flock of grackles loom overhead on power lines like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock film, or laughing at the antics of waddling penguins and precariously poised flamingoes, these winged animals are everywhere and yet each is stunning in its own way. Over the years, National Geographic has shared our fascination with them, and now they are revealing all their hard-won wisdom and stellar photographs and artistry in one incomparable volume, The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs from National Geographic.  Read more of this post

Big Bone Lick State Park

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On our first day of vacation, we awakened to a gorgeous, sunny day in Cincinnati. Clear, azure skies seemed filled with promise, and after sitting through a three-day convention in Dayton, we wanted to stretch our legs a bit. So we packed a picnic lunch and drove south 30 miles along I-71 to Union, Ken. to investigate a park we’d never visited before.

The drive alone delivered a beautiful respite from the city. We left behind the skyscrapers and smog of downtown Cincy and within minutes we found ourselves surrounded by rolling hills, shady groves and green pastures. Long white picket fences separated family farms and hand-painted signs offered fresh eggs for sale. We had entered “God’s country,” as we heard one woman call it later that day.

A big wooden sign surrounded with flowers and decorated with mammoths and mastodons welcomed us to Big Bone Lick State Park, “birthplace of American vertebrate paleontology”. We headed straight for the visitor’s center to get a lay of the land, which proved to be the best initiation to Big Bone Lick. There we gathered a map of the park and perused the museum that educated us about the history of the area, then we began our journey back in time along the Discovery Trail that recreates the savannah as it once was.

Some 20,000 years ago, a huge glacier stretched from Wisconsin down to the Ohio River. As time passed, the ice receded and soon giant sloths, bison, mastodons, mammoths and other beasts gathered to drink and feed among the salty bogs there. Because the soft land sucked at the feet of these creatures, many animals got caught in the mud and mire and died. Their massive bones would later be discovered by scientists excavating the area. A diorama showcases this scene in vivid detail.

Today, however, the marshland has all but disappeared, leaving behind only one salt-sulphur spring, rolling grasslands, mounding flowers and lush forests that are home to a bison herd, deer, countless insects, amphibians and other wildlife. As we hiked along the Bison Trace trail, the day began to warm up, but the towering deciduous trees offered a shady reprieve from the heat as we enjoyed a meandering hike through the woods.

If you visit, be sure to wear good hiking shoes, because the ground along the hiking trails can be slick, muddy and rocky in places, and some points deliver a rather steep climb. Still, the scenery is beautiful and offers a lovely diversion to an urban lifestyle. On our next trip, we want to camp out for a long weekend, bring our swimsuits to relax by the pool and don our visors or hats and test our putting skills on the 18-hole miniature golf course.

Big Bone Lick State Park offers so many amenities there is truly something for everyone. Fishermen can enjoy bank-fishing on the 7.5-acre lake which is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish. Athletes will love the tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, softball fields and horseshoe pits. To make the camping experience even more pleasant, the 62 spacious campsites offer utility hookups, grills, a playground, showers, restrooms, laundry facilities and a grocery store.

When you go:

  • Grounds are open year round, from daylight until dark.
  • Museum and gift shop are open between April—December, Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Campgrounds are open April 1—November 15. Check-in time begins at 2 p.m. and check-out time is 1 p.m. Make camping reservations by calling 1-888-4KY-PARK or visit www.parks.ky.gov.

© 2011 Jadeworks Entertainment

Celebrate our planet this April

April 2011

Earth Day is in our hands 2011

Earth Day is celebrated worldwide on April 22, although it may be commemorated on other dates in your community.

Dear friends,

Despite tax season, April is a fun month. The weather is generally a little warmer, spring is officially in full swing, and people’s spirits are generally much better than they were during the chilly winter months. Plus there are several great events to look forward to!

As we’ve told you before, one of our favorite charities is the Nature Conservancy, whose motto is “Protecting nature. Preserving life.” This year in celebration of Earth Day (on April 22nd), they are encouraging all of us to get outside, have fun and explore nature as a family. They’re also urging people to “picnic for the planet,” by hosting picnic meetups in 199 cities around the globe.

The Earth Day Network is also urging people to pledge to live and act sustainably. You can find great resources about how to reduce your carbon footprint on their Website, find ways to get involved and can even make donations to the cause.

But Earth Day also means the release of a brand new film from Disneynature, African Cats! The film follows two feline families striving to make a home in the wildest place on earth. See African Cats during opening week, and Disneynature will make a donation in your honor to protect the savanna these cats call home. And before you watch the movie, be sure to visit the African Cats Website for educational information and downloads that can help you teach your children about the science and geography themes in the film.

And if you’re in Cincinnati, you can join us down at Sawyer Point at noon on Saturday, April 16th for the 41st Anniversary Celebration of Earth Day! There will be tons of stuff to see and do for the entire family, including animal presentations featuring an aquarium and petting zoo, a rock-climbing wall, great food and live music.

Then, on Friday, April 29th, head on down to Great American Ball Park for UC Night at the Reds! The Reds will take on the Florida Marlins and the park will be packed with UC alumni. Buy reduced rate tickets, then be sure to show up early for the pre-game activities and FREE giveaways in the Reds fan zone!

The reptile house at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms

Color explodes at the Cincinnati Zoo during Zoo Blooms throughout the April 2011.

Get out your garden gear and prepare to plant a tree, because the 29th is also Arbor Day. For those of you who aren’t sure what the Arbor Day Foundation is or how the day gained popularity across America, you can check out two articles Jathan wrote last year about the trees in our lives and the origins of Arbor Day on his philanthropy blog, Some People’s Lives.

April is also a great time to start planning your summer garden. You can visit the Cincinnati Zoo for ideas during the entire month of April as the park explodes with color during Zoo Blooms. This event always fuels our imaginations, particularly since spring makes us anxious to plant tons of herbs, veggies and flowers of our own. Because we plant the majority of these plants in containers, be sure to watch for a future blog post about that. We’ll give you some great tips on gardening, including inexpensive ways to make your yard look phenomenal!

And in case you missed them, be sure to explore our site for great food ideas, including everything from kitchen basics like heart-healthy Chicken Broth to our favorite Southern Fried and Southern Barbecued Chicken recipes. Then check out family favorites like Tomato Soup with Mozzarella Croutons, Classic Cinnamon Buns and No-Bake Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Cookies. If you love Italian cuisine, try our authentic Italian Minestrone and Rigatoni with Rapid Ragu. For something spicy, kick up the heat with Hoppin’ John, a traditional Southern dish with just the right amount of heat. There’s something for everyone on Jathan & Heather!

So what are you waiting for? Get outside, commune with nature, plant a tree, take a picnic, watch a game, or plan your garden. It’s spring, and there is no better time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Love,
Jathan & Heather

p.s. Watch the preview to African Cats below!