Beautiful snow crocus bring color to the garden...finally!

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog sc real tight blThe beauty of a snow crocus is unparallelled in the spring garden. Photos by Doug Oster

For a week, tightly budded blue flowers waited for the right moment to unfurl. The arrival of the snow crocus is a welcome one, especially after the winter we just had.

I need more flowers though, and the blooms teach an important lesson each spring. They reveal where to plant more bulbs.

A garden journal is a great way to keep records and remind you where to plant more of what you need in the fall.

I've kept records since the mid-1980's and have recorded my thoughts in everything from a date planner, published garden journal to an old notebook. That's why I put together A Gardener's Notebook. It's a place to write down what's going on in the garden. There are fun gardening stories inside along with plenty of garden tips from myself and co-author Jessica Walliser (who is also my radio partner).

The best way to use a garden journal is to have it where you'll be at the end of the day with a pen close by. I've been looking through a lot of my old journals as I prepare for the gardening season. Even though all the garden information is wonderful, all the entries about my kids growing up are priceless. The journal is filled with happening that you wouldn't take a picture of or make a video. Little slices of life which are fun to look back on.

Here's how to get mine.

I'll be writing in my journal about how these snow crocus flowers nourish the soul.

I can't wait to plant more in anticipation of next spring.

blog sc backlitAs the sun sinks low into the west, the flowers become luminescent.

blog sc vertI must plant more of these. I need a sea of snow crocus next spring.

blog tight sc bloom 31514The flower will only be around for a couple weeks, but it's welcome sight after a long winter.


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It's #AlexanderMcQueenDay on Twitter

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .


While many are marking the luck of the Irish today, the fashion world is saluting the life of the late designer Lee Alexander McQueen (pictured above, courtesy of Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images). Alexander-McQueen-shoes

He died in February 2010, when he was found hanging in his London home. It was ruled a suicide. McQueen would have turned 45 years old today.

In recent days, fashion fans have taken to Twitter to encourage people to commemorate the late designer's birthday by using the hashtag #AlexanderMcQueenDay. The goal: get the phrase trending on social media so his birthday won't be forgotten. His legacy and designs never will be.

Photo above right: Shoes from Alexander McQueen spring-summer 2010 ready-to-wear fashion show. Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images)


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Empty Netter Assists - 03-17-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-Dave Molinari's recap from yesterday's game. "I don't think there are any moral victories here. We have to be light-years better." - Craig Adams.

-The Philadelphia Inquirer's recap. "Our power play has been together for three years now, and everybody knows exactly where to go, so it's pretty easy." - Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds on his team's special teams success.

-The (Cherry Hill, N.J.) Courier-Post's recap. “It proves we’re a good hockey team. We already knew that, but you come out with four points against the Penguins in a home-and-home, back-to-back, it’s two big victories for us. We realize that and have to move on to the next one.” - Flyers goaltender Steve Mason.

-The Associated Press' recap. Sidney Crosby was held without a point in back to back games.


-Mike Lange's goal calls.

-Evgeni Malkin lugged the puck up ice as Philadelphia's Andrew MacDonald defended:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Matt Niskanen speaks:

-Welcome back Beau Bennett and Kris Letang ... to practice.

-Crosby saw plenty of Flyers forward Sean Couturier this weekend.

-The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assigned goaltender Eric Hartzell to the Wheeling Nailers.

-An overtime goal by Dustin Stevenson gave the Nailers a 3-2 win against Reading Royals. Hartzell made 25 saves in the victory.

-According to a report in the Czech Republic, former Penguins forward Petr Sykora has retired. Sykora, 37, last played for Bern of Switzerland's NLA in 2012-13 and last played in the NHL for the Devils in 2011-12. Spending two season with the Penguins, Sykora played in 157 games with the Penguins and scored 109 points. He also appeared in 27 postseason games for the Penguins, scored 10 points and was a member of the club's 2009 Stanley Cup championship. Arguably, Sykora's most notable moment with the Penguins came in the 2008 Stanley Cup final when he scored a goal in the third overtime of a 3-2 win at Detroit in Game 5. In addition to the Penguins and Devils, Sykora spent time with the Might Ducks, Rangers, Oilers and Wild franchise. In 1,017 career NHL games, he scored 721 points:

-Happy 44th birthday to former Penguins forward Patrick Lebeau. A free agent signing in October of 1998, Lebeau appeared in eight games for the Penguins in 1998-99 and recorded one goal. The following season, he joined HC Ambri-Piotta of the NLA in Switzerland.

-Happy 51st birthday to former Penguins defenseman Tom Thornbury. A third-round pick of the club in 1981, Thornbury's entire NHL career amounted to 14 games with the 1983-84 Penguins in which he recorded nine points. Midway through the 1984-85 season, he was dealt to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for Brian Ford.

-Happy 35th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Andrew Ference. An eighth-round pick in 1997, Ference spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 1999-2000, Ference appeared in 30 games and recorded six points. In 2000-01, Ference saw action in 36 games and netted 15 points. During the 2001 postseason, he saw action in 18 contests and recorded 10 points. Ference finally broke through as a full-time NHLer in 2001-02 by seeing action in 75 games and scoring 11 points. After 22 games and four points in 2002-03, Ference was traded to the Flames in exchange for a third-round pick. He currently plays with the Oilers. In 163 career regular season games with the Penguins, Ference scored 36 points.

-After the Jump: Marian Hossa returns to the lineup while Jordan Staal keeps scoring.

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Talkin' Bout Practice - March 16

Written by Sam Werner on .

IMG 6314Ladies and gentlemen, it's football season.

Well, sort of. Pitt held its first spring practice of the 2014 season tonight. If you missed it in today's paper, here's a look at the five biggest questions Pitt will look to address this spring.

Now, here are a few notes and observations from today's session...

- Pitt practiced today in just helmets (and, you know, other clothing, but no pads). This is the first of three NCAA-mandated helmets-only practices. The second one will be Tuesday's, and then the third one can be at any point during the spring.

- There were a good number of visitors at today's practice, including 2013 signees Phillipie MotleyShane RoyMike GrimmAlex Bookser, and Dennis Briggs. Former quarterback Tom Savage was also in attendance as he prepares for May's NFL Draft.

- The following guys are coming into the spring with lingering injuries that may hold them out of practices: LT Adam Bisnowaty (back), OL Gabe Roberts (shoulder), LB Zach Poker (shoulder), DE Devin Cook (knee) and WR Kevin Weatherspoon (foot).

- Bisnowaty sounds like the most serious of the injuries, with the lingering back issues that has hounded him for a while. That said, Paul Chryst was still optimistic that he would be able to return in some capacity later this spring.
"Obviously we want to get something out of him, but it's still the spring and not at the expense of any type of setback," Chryst said. "You don't really know, so you just kind of keep taking it practice by practice and see what he can end up giving us. We'd err on being caution with Biz. He's a young player, but he's played alot of football."

- With Bisnowaty out, redshirt freshman Jaryd Jones-Smith got most of the first team reps at left tackle. As with all personnel things at this point, it's so early that everything must be taken with a huge grain of salt, but Paul Chryst said after practice that he envisioned Jones-Smith and TJ Clemmings getting most of the reps at tackle with Bisnowaty out. John Guy and Carson Baker were the two tackles on the second team.

- Along that vein, it seems like Dorian Johnson is settling in at guard. I know there was initially some question as to whether he would settle at guard or tackle (and it's still early enough that he could go either way) but he spent today's practice at the left guard spot left vacant by the graduation of Cory King. I think Pitt's ideal starting line next year would be Bisnowaty-Johnson-Rowell-Rotheram-Clemmings.

- In addition to Tyler BoydManasseh Garner and Ronald Jones got the first reps with the first team today. Garner is moving towards being more of a true receiver this year, and coaches have been pretty effusive in their praise of Jones as he comes back from last year's suspension. I wouldn't be surprised if these were the first three receivers on the field next season. Chris Wuestner and Dontez Ford got the first reps with the second team.

- We all had a bit of a laugh when Trey Anderson was the first quarterback to get first team reps in offensive drills, but, alas, there will be no quarterback controversy as Chad Voytik took over with the first unit after only a few snaps with the second team.

- Jones and Boyd got most of the action as punt returners during special teams drills.

- I should also note that, despite Chris Haering now being special teams coach, there wasn't a big difference with how practices were run with regard to special teams. It was still a team effort, coaching-wise, with everyone helping out.

- One thing I was interested this spring is how Chryst would divide his time, now that he's the quarterbacks coach. He definitely spent more time with Voytik and Anderson than other position groups today, but also bounced around to the other position groups during individual drills. He did spend most of the practice working with the offense.
"I want to make sure that those guys [the quarterbacks] get a little break from me too," he said. "I still want to be around, see what's happening with other position gruops and all that. I feel good with the number of coaches around and [quarterbacks GA] Jon [Budmayr] that I can balance it out pretty good."

James Conner has apparently changed his number to 24. When asked about possibly playing defense this year, he said he would do whatever the coaches asked of him. But it does sound like any defensive work Conner does will be on a situational basis at most.

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No wayback machine needed, Peabody & Sherman No. 1

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


“Mr. Peabody & Sherman” sped to the top of the weekend box office with an estimated $21.2 million, putting its gross so far at $63 million. 
It vaulted ahead of the second “300” and newcomer “Need for Speed” starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and lots of cars you and I will never be able to afford. Or drive at 230 mph. 
Here are the early numbers, courtesy of Rentrak which tracks the box office:
NeedforSpeed31. “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” — $21,200,000, bringing its total so far to $63,179,916.
2. “300: Rise of an Empire” — $19,105,000, for $78,310,553 to date. 
3. “Need for Speed” — $17,808,000.
4. “Non-Stop” — $10,615,305, for $68,805,115 since release.
5. “Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club” — $8,300,000.
6. “The Lego Movie” — $7,705,000, for an impressive $236,931,928 since it hit theaters in early February.
7. “Son of God” — $5,400,000, for $50,874,708 since release.
8. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” —$3,640,000 from just 66 locations, for $4,778,940 in limited release.
9. “Frozen” — $2,117,000, for $396,356,000 since Thanksgiving. It arrives on DVD Tuesday, so it may or may not hit $400 million in North America. 
10. “Veronica Mars” — $2,021,000. 
In case you’re wondering when the “Grand Budapest Hotel” will open in Pittsburgh, the answer is Friday, March 21, although so far it’s listed only at AMC-Loews at the Waterfront and the Manor in Squirrel Hill. The image below, of Adrien Brody, is from the Wes Anderson movie.


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