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The Garden Mix




Nationally renowned garden expert Melinda Myers helps everyday gardeners find success and ease in the garden through her Melinda’s Garden Moments radio segments. Melinda shares “must have” tips that hold the key to gardening success, learned through her more than 30 years of horticulture experience. Listeners from across the country find her gardener friendly, practical approach to gardening both refreshing and informative! On this page, Melinda shares some more extensive garden tips, which expand on the information provided in her one-minute radio segments.

New tips are added throughout each month, providing timely step-by-step tips on what you need to do next in your garden! Visit Melinda’s website www.melindamyers.com for more gardening tips, how-to videos, podcasts and answers to your questions.
Posts from August 2013


Eco-friendly Weed and Moss Control
Tired of cutting or pulling weeds and scraping moss out of the cracks in your patio and walkway pavers?  Enlist the help of some of the new more eco-friendly products. 

Many of the organic weed killers use vinegar, soaps and plant oils to burn the tops off unwanted plants.  Once the tops die the weeds can more easily be removed.  Repeat applications are needed as new weed seeds sprout and perennial weeds grow new tops from their roots that were not killed by these products.
 
Similar products are available to manage moss. Just keep in mind that unless you eliminate the cause, which is usually excess shade, the moss will return. If you can’t eliminate the cause, you may want to embrace the moss as part of the walkway.
 
Eco-friendly products are good solutions for those seeking a more eco, pet and child friendly weed control options. As always be sure to read and follow label directions carefully.
 
A bit more information: Many gardeners are replacing the sand in between their pavers with new products like EnviroSand and Joint-Lock that resist washout and prevent weeds from sprouting. Evaluate cost and time of installation when deciding if this is the best option for you.
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Plastic Lumber for the Landscape
While “milk does a body good,” its’ recycled cartons can also do some good in the garden. 
 
Consider using all plastic lumber, wood/plastic composite or fiber-reinforced plastic lumber for your garden construction projects.  Plastic lumber is constructed from 100% recycled plastic and is often used for docks and decks. 

Wood/plastic composites are usually made from 50% recycled plastic and 50% sawdust or other recycled fiber and often made with a wood-grain texture.  Fiber reinforced is a mix of plastic and chopped or strands of glass fiber.  This is the most expensive, but the strongest of the three. 
 
All three come in a variety of colors, sizes similar to standard lumber, and never need staining.
 
And consider giving milk jugs a second life before recycling. Use them to make a hands-free harvest basket, cloche or soil scoop.
 
A bit more information: Use a milk jug to make a hands-free harvest basket to use when picking raspberries and strawberries. Enlarge the opening at the top, but leave the handle intact. Secure the milk jug around your waist by running a rope or belt through the handle. Now you have two hands free for harvesting and a safe place for your harvest.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Selecting the Best Mulch
You can suppress weeds, conserve moisture, improve soil and save time with one garden resource. And that’s mulch.
 
Consider function and beauty when selecting mulch for your garden. Organic mulches like woodchips, evergreen needles and shredded leaves keep the soil cool and moist in summer, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they break down.

A 2 to 3 inch layer of wood mulch is great around trees and shrubs and for pathways. Woodchips were found to perform well and the mix of bark, twigs and leaves make them more resistant to compaction. Some mulches, like cedar, are naturally long-lasting, extending the time between applications.
 
Consider shredded leaves and evergreen needles for perennials and annual flowers and vegetables. These products look good, break down quickly to improve the soil and do not tie up the nitrogen when incorporated into the soil.
 
A bit more information: Consider price and availability when making your selection. Additional types of mulch may vary by region. Choices may include waste products from local products like cracked pecan shells, oyster shells and peanut hulls. See this Washington State University publication “Woodchip Mulch: Landscape boon or bane” for more information.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Caring for Drought Stressed Houseplants
Summer often has our attention focused outdoors on the garden and other fun activities. Houseplants can often be overlooked and suffer from a bit of neglect. Revive water stressed houseplants with a little TLC. 

Most houseplants are grown in peat based soilless mixes. Once these dry out, they’re hard to rewet. You may have noticed the water running over the surface and down the side of the pot.
 
Start by gently loosening the soil surface with a fork or chopstick.  Then place the pot in a bucket of warm water. Allow the soilless mix to absorb the water. The potting mix will feel moist and there will be no more bubbles.
 
Allow the excess water to drain. Store stressed plants in a cool bright location until they perk up.
 
In the future, use your finger to monitor soil moisture.  Water thoroughly when the top few inches of potting mix are slightly moist.
 
A bit more information:  Make proper watering easier. Place the potted houseplant on a saucer filled with pebbles. The gravel-filled saucer captures and stores excess water below the planter. There’s no need to pour off the excess water. As the water evaporates it increases the humidity around the plant, improving its growing environment.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Eco-friendly Lawn Mowing
Mow your way to a fit body and healthy environment.  
 
Using a push mower instead of a power mower can help reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by as much as 80 lbs a year.  Plus, you burn more than 300 calories for each hour you mow. 

Or consider an electric mower for larger lots.  And if a new mower isn’t in the budget, keep your old gas powered mower running properly to reduce fuel consumption and pollution. 
 
Change the oil, replace spark plugs, clean the air filter and sharpen the blades before the start of each mowing season.
 
And use a funnel when filling your mower.   According to the EPA, 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled every year while refueling lawn equipment. Even small spills can contaminate our soil, water and air. And even a few ounces of spilled gasoline may be enough to contaminate a nearby well.
 
A bit more information: Save yourself some time and further reduce the impact on the environment by growing a No Mow Lawn or Habiturf. No Mow lawns are a mix of fescue and can be mowed monthly to form a stand of turf, once a year, or not at all.  Click here for more information.  HabiTurf™ is a mix of native southwestern grasses that tolerate extreme weather and was tested by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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National Potato Day
Whether you prefer them baked, mashed or fried, include them in today’s meal in celebration of National Potato Day. They are the fourth largest food crop in the world.

These nutrient rich vegetables are not only tasty, but high in potassium and calcium. And, if you limit the toppings, you will get all the benefit without added fat, sodium and cholesterol from the potato itself.
 
Harvest a few from the garden. Use a garden fork to carefully lift a few or all the tubers out of the soil. Once the tops are brown and dried, the potatoes have reached full size and should be harvested.
 
Or visit the farmer’s market if you didn’t grow your own. Support your local farmers and enjoy freshly harvested potatoes.
 
And consider adding this vegetable to next year’s garden. They grow great in containers, raised beds and planting bags. All you need is 6 or more hours of sun and well-drained soil.
 
A bit more information: Red, white, blue and yellow describe some of the potatoes you’ll find at the store or can grow in your garden. Use thin skinned round, red and white potatoes for boiling and stewing. New potatoes are freshly harvested, have a sweet flavor and are also good for boiling and stewing. Russets are a favorite for baking and mashing.

For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Plant and Grow a Sound Barrier
Tired of hearing the drone of passing traffic? I have a beautiful and effective solution. Plant a sound barrier of shrubs, trees and evergreens. 

Plants are effective at absorbing the high frequency sounds, the ones that are most annoying to our ears.
 
You’ll need two to three rows of shrubs and trees to be effective. Start with a row of shrubs roadside. Back it with tall trees. Mix in some evergreens for year round screening.  Once the planting is dense enough to screen the view, it will also block much of the sound.
 
Use a mix of plants. This makes it easier to replace any plants that die along the way. Use ornamental grasses or fast growing trees and shrubs as temporary fillers. Remove these as the other plants reach maturity and start to crowd them out.
 
Plant your sound barrier on a berm for greater noise reduction. It will seem about one third as loud.
 
A bit more information: Always match the plant with the growing conditions. Consider using deciduous trees and shrubs with multi-seasonal interest. Look for those with flowers, fruit and fall color. Add in evergreens for a colorful year round backdrop and noise barrier. 
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Verticillium Wilt
Sudden wilting and death of individual branches of maples, redbuds and other susceptible trees may mean verticillium wilt has infected the plant. 
 
The dead branches may occur on one side of the tree or be scattered throughout the crown.  Have a professional diagnose the problem since the symptoms can be confused with other disorders.
 
Though verticillium wilt is fatal you can prolong the plant’s life with proper care.
 
Remove grass growing under the tree and replace it with a three inch layer of woodchips or other organic mulch. You’ll remove the competition for water and nutrients, while keeping the roots cool and moist. Water trees thoroughly as needed during dry periods.
 
Prune out dead branches as they occur. Disinfect your tools with a one part bleach and nine parts water solution between cuts to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
 
Do not replace dead trees with wilt-susceptible plants
 
A bit more information: Do not use woodchip or leaf mulch collected from susceptible plants. These are a source of future infection. Do replace infected trees and shrubs with resistant species. Here are a few of the verticillium wilt resistant trees and shrubs to consider: Apples, crabapples, pears, hawthorns, ginkgo, hackberry, honeylocust, katsura tree, birch, beech, oak, azaleas, dogwoods, holly, and flowering quince.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Vote for your Favorite Flower (American Garden Awards)
Be a part of the American Garden Awards and vote for your favorite annual flower now through the end of August.
 
Some of the world’s most prestigious breeders are showing off a few of their best at seventeen highly respected public gardens.
 
These include the Compact Electric orange sunpatiens. Good in sun and shade the vibrant color is a standout in containers or gardens. Cherry Zahara Zinnia is a fast growing, long blooming annual that has good disease resistance and is drought tolerant. Surfinia Summer Double Pink petunia is heat and rain tolerant. And the unique red and white flower pattern of Verbena Lanai Candy Cane inspired this varieties name.
 
Stop by a participating public garden and text or mail in your vote. Or visit http://www.americangardenaward.org to see photos of the entries, find out more about each plant and to cast your vote.
 
A bit more information: Last year’s winner was the Santa Cruz Sunset Begonia. This cascading plant is perfect for hanging baskets, containers or mass plantings. The plentiful scarlet/orange blossoms brighten your garden and the plants are tolerant of full sun and partial shade, heat, drought and rain. For more information on last year’s winners, listen to my Melinda’s Garden Moment audio tip.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Eco-friendly Control of Bagworms
Check your trees and shrubs for clusters of needles or leaves bound by silken threads. These are the homes of bagworms. The worm-like immature stage of these insects feed on over one hundred varieties of plants. Early detection and removal will help limit the damage in an eco-friendly way. 

Fortunately, nature helps keep these pests under control. Birds will feed on the larvae. And the much smaller parasitic wasp and flies also help control these pests. If bagworms are an ongoing problem, consider planting asters and daisies near those plants. The flowers help attract the beneficial insects to the plants and help keep the bagworm populations under control. 
 
Remove the bags when they are found. You’ll have the best results by removing them fall through early spring before eggs hatch. Each bag contains 300 to 1,000 eggs, so a bit of handpicking can have major benefits.
 
A bit more information: Bacillus thuringiensis (kurstaki strain) is a naturally occurring bacterium that only kills leaf and needle eating caterpillars.  It is most effective against the young (1/2 inch or smaller) bagworms.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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National Zucchini Day
Celebrate National Zucchini Day, August 8th, by adding fresh zucchini to your relish tray, frying it with onions as a side or by leaving a few of the baseball bat sized fruit on your neighbor’s front porch.  Just be sure to ring the bell and run.

Zucchini is high in vitamin C and very low in calories. Harvest zucchini when the fruit are 6 to 8 inches long. The rind will be tender, seeds small and flavor at its best. Regular harvesting will keep these plants producing. Use larger fruit for zucchini bread and pancakes.  And try a few blossoms breaded and lightly fried.
 
Don’t worry if you didn’t grow zucchini in this year’s garden. Stop by your local farmer’s market.  You can store unwashed zucchini for up to a week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. But try to use it within 2 to 3 days for the best flavor. And plan to add zucchini to next year’s garden.
 
A bit more information: Zucchinis are bush-type summer squash. They work well in containers, mixed with other plants or in a more traditional vegetable garden. Try Butter Blossom for maximum flower production. This variety produces lots of firm male flowers perfect for eating. Remove the female flowers to prevent fruiting and increase production of flowers.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Outdoor Vegetable Cleaning Station
Don’t let your garden soil end up in the kitchen. Instead create a produce cleaning station outside near the garden.

You can purchase a harvest basket or make your own. The idea is to rinse your freshly harvested vegetables in the garden instead of the kitchen sink. This way the soil stays in the garden instead of plugging up your plumbing.
 
Keep in mind many fruits and vegetables store best unwashed. So lightly brush the soil off these before storing. Then take them back outside for a shower right before using them.
 
Consider placing your cleaning station near the kitchen door.  Simply replace the bottom of a wooden container with hardware cloth. Secure the cloth to the sides of the wooden crate.
 
Set the vegetables to be cleaned in the container and rinse. Place the crate over the lawn or a plastic container to catch rinse water. Use this to water containers or other garden plants.
 
A bit more information:  Proper care of homegrown or purchased vegetables can improve your enjoyment and increase food safety. Make sure your counters are clean when cutting and preparing food. Wash produce right before use to avoid bacteria that can form on produce in storage. Trim away and compost damaged leaves.  Visit http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09380.html for more tips on handling fresh produce.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Propagate Trees and Shrubs with Semi-Hardwood Cuttings
Expand your collection of trees and shrubs with semi-hardwood cuttings.

Take cuttings when the new growth has started to harden and turn brown. Use sharp pruners to cut 4 to 6 inch pieces from the stem. Remove flowers, seedpods, the lowest leaves and about an inch of bark from the bottom of one side of the cutting. 
 
Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone for woody plants. Place the cuttings in a container filled with a mix of coarse sand and peat moss or a similar mixture.  Space the cuttings so the leaves do not touch. Water thoroughly and cover with plastic to conserve moisture. Place in a shaded location.
 
Roots should begin forming in several weeks. Gently tug on the cutting. If it resists, roots have started to form. Now remove the plastic bag, separate the cuttings and repot into their own individual containers.
 
Harden off rooted cuttings and plant in the garden at the end of the season or next spring.
 
A bit more information:  Abelia, Artemisia, Camellia, Caryopteris, Deutzia, Viburnum, and Weigela are a few of the shrubs that can be propagated this way.  You may choose to leave the rooted cuttings in the container for the first winter or summer after propagating. Those gardening in cold climates will need to provide winter insulation. Simply sink the pot in the ground or move it to an unheated garage. Water whenever the soil is thawed and dry.
 
For more gardening tips, how-to garden videos, podcasts and more, visit www.melindamyers.com.
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Hit the Mark, or Miss By a Mile?
Critics are saying this skit from last weekend's Saturday Night Live marks a return of the show's political comedy chops. They resurrected the old ABC show, Schoolhouse Rock, and tossed in President Obama's recent executive order concerning immigration, and presented a tutorial on how things work on Capitol Hill. What do you think: does it Hit the Mark, or Miss By a Mile. (I fall in the latter category, but I'm interested to see what other people think.)   Oh, and by the way - if you want to read how the skit is entirely wrong on the fact side anyway, check out this article by ThinkProgress.  
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Black Sea Devil Captured
Researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute announced a fascinating find over the weekend - a video of the rare deep-sea anglerfish, also known as the Black Sea Devil. The film was shot off the coast of Monterey, California, about 1900 feet below the surface. The scientists were very excited, as they believe it's the first video of this species, "alive and at depth." The narration is a little dry, and the fish is not pretty. Still, it is fascinating...   Want some chuckles, though? Check out this little video, called "True Facts About the Angler Fish," produced by the same institute.  
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Forget the Hail Mary - This One's the Rosary!
Okay, sportscasters are given to hyperbole. That I'll grant you. But they may be on to something with the touchdown catch Odell Beckham Jr made on Sunday for the New York Giants against the Dallas Cowboys. One sportcaster calls it, "Impossible!" And watching it in slow-mo, he and everyone else might just be right. And the more amazing part, after the game, Odell told Bob Costas that he and some of his teammates practice catches like that all the time.  Your browser does not support iframes.
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Did She Diss Em or Not?
Some writers are saying that Iggy Azalea dissed Eminem on Sunday at the American Music Awards. She picked up the award both for best rap artist and for best rap/hip-hop album for The New Classic, her debut album. In her acceptance speech, she said, "It means so much that I can stand here against Eminem and Drake and come out with this. It's amazing." Watch and listen...   Some believe that was a shot at Eminem, who definitely took a shot at Iggy in his new song, Vegas, with a lyric that said, "Put that sh*t away, Iggy." But she responded on Twitter after the song was released. And it really does sound like she's just letting sleeping dogs and Eminems lie...   im bored of the old men threatening young women as entertainment trend and much more interested in the young women getting $ trend. zzzz — IGGY AZALEA (@IGGYAZALEA) November 20, 2014
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Cuddle Up to Me - Professionally, Of Course
Some would call Samantha Hess's business an overnight success - but you can't stay overnight. Samantha runs a shop in Portland, Oregon called Cuddle Up to Me - and it's a professional cuddle shop. Stay with me now. For $60, a customer can get sixty minutes of hugging, or as it's been described, "the level of human contact that we want or need in order to be our optimal selves." Sure, it sounds like a front for something, but Samantha says it's a great idea, one that came to her when she really needed a hug. "I was at a place where I thought paying someone to hug me and not have ulterior motives sounded like a great idea," she told an interviewer from The Independent. "I decided why can't this be a thing that we can easily and safely reach for?" It's all on the up-and-up. Everyone stays dressed, hugs and hand-holding are the only items on the menu, and the show is open Monday through Saturday. By the way, Samantha's been at it for a year or so. But all of a sudden, the media are getting hold of the story, and it's gone viral.   What's going on here? If you said professional cuddling… then you are correct. Only on the #RidicuList pic.twitter.com/F2Yq6LPHUB — Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) November 18, 2014
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The Newest Shirt Style - Graffiti!
Frankie J. Grande, the half-brother of Ariana Grande, showed up at last night's American Music Awards in a rather interesting outfit. Skin-tight baby pink skinny jeans - check! Black high tops - check! Puff of pink in his hair - check! And a stop at the local Sherwin Williams to have his shirt and bow tie painted on - check, check and check! After the show, he jumped into a Maytag washing machine and was cleaned up in no time.
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Cutest Picture of the Year?
This might not be the cutest picture of the year, but it sure is a contender. Gisele Bundchen posted this one all over social media yesterday afternoon, as her husband, Tom Brady, led the New England Patriots to a 34 - 9 victory over the Detroit Lions. It's Tom and Gisele's daughter, Vivian, wearing one of daddy's jerseys, watching the game. Mega Cute to the 12th power, easily.     Go daddy go!!! #gopats ❤️💙 Vai papai vai! A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) on Nov 11, 2014 at 10:57am PST
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Celebrity Mean Tweets Are Back!
Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets series just keeps getting better and better. Sure, it's sad that there are so many haters out there, and there's probably something sub-conscious here that encourages the haters to hate more, but... The reactions of some of these celebrities to the nasty things tweeted about them is simply classic. Case in point on this newest installment: John Stamos's reaction to a tweet about his "gross" belly button.  
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Katy Razzes Paparazzi
Katy Perry's fed up with paparazzi, especially the guys who were hounding her every step this weekend in Australia. She's in Sydney on her Prismatic World Tour, and all she wanted was a little quiet time on the beach. Not too much to ask, right? Except for the "perverted and disgusting" paparazzi, salivating at the prospect of a shot of Katy in her bikini that could be sold to the highest tabloid bidder. Katy took to Twitter to fire a cannon in their direction.   pic.twitter.com/rm7kL37Bj2 — KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 22, 2014 She even posted some pictures of the offenders.   THESE ARE A FEW OF THE STALKERS: pic.twitter.com/1JtHSIVuqc — KATY PERRY (@katyperry) November 22, 2014
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Poohphobia Plagues Poland
At first glance, this story reads like something the folks at The Onion would make up. But as you read on and look at the source, it looks like it's a legitimate story. There's a town in Poland called Tuszyn that's looking for a mascot for its new playground. But the town officials categorically rejected Winnie the Pooh.Why? They say the cartoon bear is "inappropriately dressed" and his sexuality is "dubious." You have to read the story. It's laugh out loud funny - and sad, all at the same time. (And if it turns out this ISN'T real - nicely played, whoever pulled this off!)  
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Celebrities Stuck in Traffic
Comedian impressionist Lauren O'Brien posted a video last week of fourteen celebrities stuck in traffic. Of course, she's playing all fourteen, and some of them are pretty good! Decide for yourself - which will be your favorite? For me, it's a toss up between Kristen Stewart and Sofia Vergara....  
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Music Video or Underwear Ad?
Beyonce released a video for her new single, "7/11," over the weekend. They're calling it homemade - it looks like it could have been shot on a cell phone, all around Queen Bey's house, featuring cameos by Baby Blue Ivy and maybe even Hubby Zee. It's energetic, but seems to go out of its way to feature undergarments - on Beyonce and on her dancers. If the Fruit of the Loom people are on the ball, I'm smelling a Super Bowl commercial here...  
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O, Canada, Thank You
The other night, in Toronto, the hometown Maple Leafs played the Nashville Predators. As is custom, both the Canadian and American national anthems were performed. In the middle of the American song, the singer's microphone cut out - and the crowd took over, singing the song loud and proud to the very end. Thank you, Canadians! I can't help but wonder if we could do the same thing for them. Time to brush up on "O, Canada," I guess.  
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Just Face It, This is Funny
You don't have to be a soccer fan, or even understand the sport, to appreciate the fun in this video. It's so well done - a series of penalty kicks will decide the outcome of this "match" between Yale and North Carolina. Watch the action as the incomparable Scott Sterling keeps his goal that hardest way possible. And make sure you pay attention to the announcers - the British accents and expressions really help sell the bit!  
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A Realistically Proportioned Fashion Doll
There's been a lot of pushback recently against the unrealistic proportions of Barbie dolls. Except for those women who slave away to look like human Barbies, real women simply don't look like that. So how would a "realistically proportioned fashion doll" fare in today's toy market? Toy designer Nikolay Lamm aims to find out, with Lammily, a doll based on the proportions of the average 19-year-old woman. To add to the realism, Lammily comes with stick-on tattoos, cellulite, stretch marks, scars and more. Check out the video of a bunch of school kids getting to meet Lammily and compare her to a normal Barbie doll. It's pretty interesting...  
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One Winner Means Lots of Losers
On Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night, Jimmy got to break the news that Chris Hemsworth is People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in 2014. So, he's the winner. Which means, every other man on the planet is the loser. Like Jason Bateman, who thought he'd been invited to appear on Kimmel's show because he was going to get the award. To make him feel better, Jimmy let Jason read his acceptance speech, which he'd prepared in anticipation of winning the award. (For the record, Jason's an underrated comic actor...)  
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Spielberg? Or Squirrel?
This one's a commercial just waiting to happen. Someone left his GoPro camera on the ground near a tree. A curious squirrel approached and decided he must have the GoPro - or, he mistook it for a shiny nut. Either way, the squirrel nabbed the camera and scooted up a tree with it. The footage is pretty amazing, even when the squirrel drops it to the ground. Could be the rodent version of Stephen Spielberg here...  
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Even Worse Than Misfit, These Toys Are Bad
A consumer advocacy group called WATCH - World Against Toys Causing Harm - this week issued its list of the Ten Worst Toys of 2014. The worst, according to WATCH, is the Air Storm Firetek Bow, which can shoot arrows up to 145 feet. There's also the Catapencil, an actual pencil with a slingshot at the top - surefire classroom fun right there. A Battle Hammer designed for three-year-olds - the ones who think they're Thor, I guess. The SWAT Electric Machine Gun was in the middle of the list. Surprising, really, when you consider the manufacturer's warning that it could be mistaken for the real thing by law enforcement personnel. You can check out the full list in this article in The Daily Mail. And check out the video of the press conference...  
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"America Loves You"
Give Jay Leno a hand. He recently visited Afghanistan, performing for the troops in a USO show. He came home wanting to do more. So he and the folks at The Today Show selected an active service member who was also a wounded warrior, and gave him a joy ride to remember. Check out the video as Jay drove Corporal Ethan Laberge on the back roads around Fort Campbell, Kentucky in a brand-new 2015 Dodge HRT Hellcat - the muscle car of muscle cars. And at the end of the ride... You just have to watch it for yourself. And grab a hankie.   Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
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Fearsome Foursome
I just stumbled on this video - it's been floating around cyberspace for a few months - but it's mesmerizing. The quartet is called Salut Salon - based in Hamburg, Germany, they mix classical music with some comedic stylings. Playing another's instrument with her own bow, playing the piano upside down, playing their stringed instruments inverted... They never miss a step or skip a note. Watch it once, and tell me that's enough!  
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"Have Courage... and Be Kind"
Looks like Disney's doing it again, but in reverse. Everyone recalls the classic Disney animated feature, Cinderella. In March, Disney releases the live action version - with a few updates and some computer-generated tweaks - that looks pretty darn good. There is magic in this one... Check out the trailer, and mark your calendar!  
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#TBT: The Carlton Dance, & More
This one's an oldie but goodie - I missed it last year, so maybe you did too. Even if you saw it, it's fun to watch again. Will Smith and his son Jaden visited the BBC's Graham Norton Show and got a little musical. Jaden did a little rap while his dad did some beats in the background. Then Will brought out DJ Jazzy Jeff and the three of them performed the rap theme song from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. And then, a little frosting on the cake as DJ Jazzy Jeff cranked up Tom Jone's "It's Not Unusual." Alfonso Ribeiro joined them, and everybody did The Carlton. Check it out. It's a lot of fun.  
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Seven Feet & Counting
Parts of Buffalo and upstate New York were positively buried in a storm some are calling Snovember early this week. But that doesn't stop the train that is professional sport from rolling, does it? On Tuesday, the night of the storm, 6200 fans made it out to see the Buffalo Sabres in action. And now, the Buffalo Bills and the NFL are looking for some help, digging Ralph Wilson Stadium out from under the snow in time for the Bills to play the New York Jets over the weekend.   Want to work in the NFL? The Bills are hiring snow shovelers http://t.co/qibRAADFm4 pic.twitter.com/NfC1lM56Qe — For The Win (@ForTheWin) November 19, 2014 If you do well, they could pick up your option for future storms and years. Who knows? You could be a Hall of Fame Shoveler at some point in your future. Meanwhile, if you want to get a sense of what it's like to be in the middle of something like that, check out this drone's-eye view of the event...  
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Million Dollar Baby
This could be one of the most insane stories you've ever heard. A pregnant woman from Saskatchewan, Jennifer Huculak, was vacationing in Hawaii when her water broke, and she delivered her daughter nine weeks early. Mom and daughter spent about six weeks in the hospital in Hawaii, and then headed home. Mom had Blue Cross coverage, but the insurance company denied her claim, leaving her with a $950,000 bill to pay. So now, the family is left with three options: continue to fight Blue Cross; declare bankruptcy; or just sit things out to see what happens next. They could of course hit the lottery. That could help.  
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She's Too Young For the Club, and By the Way...
"Hello, Tyga? There's a reality check waiting to be picked up at the front desk." Here's one straight out of the pages of Yeah, I Know It's a Law But Not For Me, RIght? Tyga, the 25-year-old musician, was supposed to play at a club called Greystone Manor in West Hollywood. He begged the club management to allow his 17-year-old girlfriend, Kylie Jenner - one of the offspring of Mamadashian - to attend the show. The management refused, because it's a 21+ establishment. So Tyga pull a no-show, managing to tick off a sponsor big time. Maybe it's a math problem. Who needs to figure out that Kylie has to wait another four years to get into the club because of the laws that govern places that sell booze. And while we're at it, memo to Kris and Bruce Jenner: a 25-year-old rapper is dating your 17-year-old daughter. Look for those Parents of the Year trophies, mailed to your separate homes in the next six to eight weeks.
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