Thursday, December 31, 2009
Hello Loyal Readers in blogland. We thought that in celebration of 2010 we would leave you with some interesting facts about New Years. Thanks to The Huffington Post.
• In medieval times, the beginning of the New Year was celebrated on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation or Lady Day until Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian Calendar in 1582, a system used to this day which configured the 365 days of the year to accommodate a seven-day week. It wasn't until 1752, however, that England and America recognized this new system.
• The month of January gets its name from the Roman god "Janus,'' or "Januarus," a god said to have two heads and two sets of eyes, each facing the opposite direction., one looking back the other forward. From this, the New Year tradition of welcoming the future and saying goodbye to the past was conceived.
• The most popular song associated with New Year's Eve "Auld Lang Syne'' (which translates to "old long ago''), was originally an anonymous 15th century poem, when it first turned up in a book of Scottish poetry by George Bannatyne under the title "Auld Kyndness Forgot''. Another version was published in 1711, "Old Long Syne'' (believed to be Francis Sempill), and in 1724, Allan Ramsay turned it into a song, Auld Lang Syne'' in the "Tea Table Miscella''; before Scottish poet Robert Burns added two verses (3 and 4), which was then published 5 months after his death in 1796 in a collection entitled Scots Musical Museum.
• In 1837, Charles Dickens ruminating on the ringing in the New Year wrote in Sketches by Boz: "We measure man's life by years, and it is a solemn knell that warns us we have passed another of the landmarks which stand between us the grave. Disguise it as we may, the reflection will force itself on our minds, that when the next bell announces the arrival of a new year, we may be insensible alike of the timely warning we have so often neglected, and all the warm feelings that within us now.''
• Beginning in 1886, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers while parading through the streets of Pasadena, Calif., in celebration of the ripe orange crop, which was then followed by a polo match, a tug of war, or greased pig-catching competition.
• In 1901, after the Tournament of Roses Association created the idea of having a college football game, Michigan and Stanford squared off on the campus of Throop Polytechnic Institute on January 1, 1902. The Wolverines crushed the Cardinals 49-0. It was such a lop-sided game that polo was once again brought back the following year; and from 1904 through 1914, Roman style chariot races were held.
College football returned to stay beginning in 1916.
• The New Year's Eve tradition of sipping champagne at the strike of midnight is thought to have originated with the French
• Another tradition holds that Wassail, a drink served on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, comes from an old Gaelic word meaning "good health.'
• Christmas and New Year's eve prior to dawn of the 20th century were closely linked; so much so that in 19th century New York, legend has it that Santa Claus often arrived on New Year's Eve and would leave by wishing Happy New Year, not Merry Christmas, according to Stephen Nissenbaum, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts and author of the book, "The Battle for Christmas." "What's happened over the past 175 or so years is that alcoholic public revelry once associated with the entire season (including Christmas Eve and Day) has become isolated from the rest of the season and is now limited to New Year's Eve.'' Nissenbaum said.
• December 31, 1906 Adolph Ochs, publisher of the New York Times, dropped an illuminated globe from the top of his new building, Times Tower in Times Square on New Year's Eve. This public relations innovation marked the beginning of an annual ritual.
NOTE: The only time the ball didn't drop from Times Square on New Year's Eve (since 1907) were two years during World War II: 1942 and 1943 due to a wartime dim-out.
• December 31, 1929: Guy Lombardo, age 37, and his band, the Royal Canadians make their debut at the Roosevelt Hotel Grill in New York City, a two-tiered room with a second dance floor while reviving "Auld Lang Syne; and from that point on, it becomes America's signature song on New Year's Eve. The venue would become a mainstay until the Roosevelt closed in 1959; and Lombardo and the Royal Canadians moved to the Waldorf Astoria.
• December 31, 1948: CBS broadcast's the first televised presentation of a New Year's Eve celebration from Times Square.
• December 31, 1972: For the first time in television history, Guy Lombardo has competition on New Year's Eve, when NBC and Dick Clark, the worlds oldest teenager, debut with New Year's Rockin' Eve with guests the Three Dog Night, Blood Sweat and Tears, Billy Preston, Al Green, and Helen Reddy.
• December 31, 1976: Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians perform on New Year's eve for the final time; he died November 5, 1977 age 77 from kidney and heart failure.
• December 31, 1995: The New Year's Eve ball in Times Square for the first time goes high tech, when a laser lowers the ball, replacing the six man crew using a pulley.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Start your party with the invitation! Too many people don't know they can set the mood of the party well before it happens. Don't just say, "You are invited to a tree trimming party." Instead try, "It's our Deck The Halls Decorating Extravaganza and your invited!" See you are already looking forward to it.
Plan your meal/food at least one week in advance and make sure at least 50% of it can be prepared in advance so that you have the chance to enjoy your own party.
To add a festive touch to a simple glass votive try completely covering it in a tacky craft glue and rolling it in glitter or tiny beads. Use your imagination, the possibilities are endless! Try stripes or patterns!
Start with a square piece of paper. We used a 12x12 piece of blue patterned scrap booking paper. For a a sturdier snowflake use a heavier weight paper. If you want to make a placement or charger you will need to work with a piece of paper approximately 3-5 inches bigger than the finished size. Finally, always remember to use very sharp scissors and be careful!
Carefully unfold your snowflake and TADA!!!! To finish your snowflakes, iron them on a medium setting with no steam on both sides. You will be surprised at how flat and sturdy they become. For an extra touch, try using spray starch. You could also laminate them, punch a hole in the top, and hang in windows or from the ceiling. You could also use them for doilies or placements.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
-For good luck kiss the oldest person in the house on Christmas Day and the youngest in the house on New Years Day.
- The 1st commercial Christmas ornaments were hollow and brightly colored and were filled with treats like candy and nuts.
-Ancient Romans sent good wishes by exchanging wreaths made from bent evergreen branches.
-Celts hung mistletoe in there homes to ward off evil spirits.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
WHAT! I thought you were taking it out!
Have you ever forgotten to defrost your bird before the big day? Or thought it was completely thawed and it wasn't?
Submerge your turkey (still in the wrapper) in cool/cold water. You can use a cooler, a five gallon, or whatever is handy. Be sure the water covers the entire bird.
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound :
4 to 12 pounds - 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds - 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds - 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds - 10 to 12 hours
Cranberry sauce doesn't always need to be served in the shape of the can it came out of. Try making festive cranberry minis. They look adorable and taste so much better than a slab of the other stuff.
Take out a muffin tin and place a paper liner in each cup.
1 can- crushed pineapple in juice
2 packages- raspberry gelatin
1 can- whole cranberry sauce
2/3 cup-chopped walnuts
1 chopped apple
Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice for later use. Add enough water to the juice to equal 2 1/2 cups. Pour into sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Stir in remaining ingredients and spoon into the muffin tin. Allow to cool for 2 1/2 hours or until firm.
Before you serve them, remove the paper liners and you have precious individually sized servings!
Does Aunt Ethel always arrive late to Thanksgiving dinner? Accommodate for late arrivals by planning a cocktail hour. It will give you and your guests a chance to relax before the big feast! Try our festive cocktail, The Celestial Fizz.
We can't take all the credit for this one. We thank Craig Cooper from Chicago!
Celestial Fizz Cocktail
Combine 1.5 ounces cognac, 1/4 ounce good orange liqueur (like Grand Marnier), and because it's Thanksgiving 1 ounce of 100% pure cranberry juice (not cocktail). Top with champagne and garnish with a cranberry baton.
To make a cranberry baton, simply skewer several fresh cranberries onto long toothpicks or skewers. For a festive baton, alternate white and red cranberries!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
:::WARNING:: Don't mix any of the following with dirty dishes!
1. Baseball Hats- Benefit: They retain their shape but please no dirty dishes in the same cycle!
2. Rain Boots- Benefit: No more smelly rubber boots. Remove the liners and lay horizontally.
3. Flip Flops- Benefit: Clean and sanitary summer footwear. Just hook on tines on the top rack!
4. Hand Tools- Benefit: Anything with a metal or plastic handle comes out spotless. Don't try this with wooden handles and make sure to towel dry as soon as you take them out!
5. Ceramic Cabinet Knobs- Benefit: Clean and good as new! Place them in the silverware tray for best results.
6. Hairbrushes- Benefit: The gunk is gone. This works best on those made of plastic or nylon without any wood or natural fibers!
7. Shin Guards, Knee Pads, and Mouth Guards- Benefit: No more stinky hockey bags on the porch! Toss them on the top rack.
8. Action Figures and Other Small Plastic Toys- Benefit: Germs be gone! Throw them into a mesh lingerie bag to contain them and put them on the top rack.
9. Garden Tools-Benefit: Pesticides and manure away! Just remember don't mix these with dishes or wash anything with a wooden handle.
10. Potatoes- Benefit: Makes preparing large batches easier. Again place them on the top rack with a rinse-only cycle (no soap).
Give them a try tonight!
Have you always wanted to start your day off like Joan Crawford, a little tipsy and a lot bitchy? This next tip will do it! The famous Morton's Steakhouse Bloody Mary.
1 ounce Absolut Peppar Vodka
1/3 cup Bloody Mary Mix
Pour the vodka and mix into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 times (no kidding)! Strain the mixture into tall Collins glasses filled with ice. Now comes your personal touch. Be creative with your garnish: Gherkins wrapped in prosciutto; lime slices; anchovy stuffed olives; celery stuffed with chive cream cheese; or asparagus and blue cheese skewers.
Don't forget we are a party planning blog so invite some friends over and collect the car keys! Be responsible. Never drink and drive (or vote Republican)!
Have you ever purchased new scissors (or thermometers, children's action figures, small electronics, etc) that have been sealed in a clam shell package? What is a clam shell you may ask? It's that thick, government-grade plastic retailers use to vacuum seal items in to prevent theft, but it ends up preventing anyone from getting at the damn thing! We have a solution which we have been testing in our labs for a several weeks and it doesn't involve scissors, a knife, explosives, or a chain saw! Yes, boys and girls a standard rotatory can opener! Who would have thought.
Make sure your can opener is not dull (like you) before you start. Turn the package over so that the front is facing down. Secure the can opener to the top right edge. Cut all the way around the outer border of the object. Ta-da you're in!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Hello Loyal Blog Readers,
Kathleen and I have been doing this blog now for almost a year. Each time we gather, we ask ourselves, does anyone actually read this? So, do you? It would boost our spirits and it would encourage us to blog more frequently if we knew that we had a few fans out there. If you read our blog, please leave a comment or three for us and even become our first "follower"!
Kathleen, Michael, and all the staff in Colchester!
P.S. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
Are your scrapbooks busting at the seams? Have concert tickets lying around? Try our great idea for perserving your favorite music memories. Take your favorite concert ticket stubs to your local copy shop and have them laminated. Punch a hole in the top and loop a piece of ribbon through it! Tada, you have yourself a one of a kind bookmark for your favorite gothic novel! Make it your own by adding additional touches like beads and other notions.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Guess what we found out? Ok, you can stop guessing; you're annoying your co-working in the next cubicle! If you need directory assistance you can get it for FREE! Yes boys and girls FREE! Instead of dialing the expensive 411, dial 1-800-FREE-411! We read about a guy who found a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint that he used to frequent in college using this tip!
Trying to reduce the size of your behind or any other part of you for that matter? Bring your trusty roll of Bounty the next time you visit your favorite pizza joint, hell, try it on your Chinese (or Cantonese or burgers or mac n' cheese or any other fattening entree) even though we only tested on pizza. Our Colchester lab has confirmed that blotting your pizza (or fattening entree of choice) can wick away up to 30 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving! Your saddle bags will thank you!
Are you already thinking of warmer weather as we welcome in Fall? Do you want to guarantee your flower bed will be the talk of the town next Spring? Our experts in our Colchester greenhouse have determined that you must plant your Spring bulbs in September. Not October, not November, but SEPTEMBER! They will have stronger, brighter blooms than bulbs planted later in the season. Who knew?
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
We just got off a conference call with Zeke, our style maven! He was calling from our northern Singapore office to report on the hottest back to school fashion trends of 2009! Say goodbye to neon pink! Bright colors are out this season. 80's inspired punk rock pieces will be wardrobe staples this year. Hot colors will be: blacks, greys, dark reds, blues, tweeds, metallics, and leather. Zeke says if you desperately need color, try throwing in some bright, mustard yellow accents and accessories!
Zeke also reports that extremely skinny and tight fitting jeans for both the guys and the gals will be on fire this Fall! Pair them with your favorite Converse high-tops for a fabulous updated 80's look! The great thing about Converse sneakers is that you can either decorate and customize them with fabric paint, markers, and other notions yourself, or if you some extra cash, you can log onto Converse's website and customize a pair online. Finally, if pants aren't your thing, then remember that skirts and dresses should fall no shorter than mid-thigh this season. Toss out those skanky micro-minis you filled you closet with last year, and lord knows that with their tiny size you could stock pile quite a few!
Finally, Zeke tells us that layering is once again the will be HUGE like Texas hair! Speak of the devil, he did mention that big hair is making a comeback! Amp up the volume and go for a tousled, messy look!
Hoping you don't die from the H1N1 this fall? So do we! Start your defense stategy by having fun with hand sanitizer! Studies say that washing hands will be the number one best defense against the disease. Try adding glitter or your favorite essential oil to the bottle for a personal touch! For the office pain-in-your-ass who is too cheap to buy his/her own hand sanitizer, keep a seperate bottle in your desk drawer that you have tinted with food coloring. Believe me that cheap skate will run to the store to buy his/her own when their hands turn purple. You could always ham it up by telling them a symptom of the virus is purple hands!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Feeling glum chum? Life getting you down? Claustrophobic? Stressed? No worries loyal blog readers, Feng Shui to the rescue (add dramatic echo for effect)! Mirrors are considered the "aspirin of Feng Shui". Why, you might ask? Instant positive energy is created by brightening dark spaces and making your house or apartment look more expansive! Does science have Feng Shui's back? Why yes they do. The reflection of light and spacious effect creates a feeling of well being and reduces stress better than a Prozac! Will someone take away the wire hanger and give Mommie Dearest a damn mirror!
Feeling broke? Tempted to wade into the your local shopping mall fountain to collect all the pennies small children and the elderly throw in? Well, you don't have to wish for riches anymore! Feng Shui says you'll earn more money if you place your own small fountain by the front door of your house or apartment. The fountain "opens" the opportunities for money to flow right in! Feng Shui says that water represents "luck, energy, and wealth". Think we're full of it? Scientists say the water creates negative ions which trigger that feel-good serotonin in your brain. What this means is that when an opportunity arises you will be more likely and have the extra energy to go after it!
Feeling loved? No? Arrange your pillows in pairs in the corners of your sofa. Suddenly, you will start feeling more secure and relaxed. Think it's a load of bull? Think not. We have scientific confirmation! Psychologists agree that just looking at them in this arrangement promotes calmness and security!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Who can afford a pedicure these days? Yet this time of year we are flashing our feet for the whole world to see. Don't be a flip-flop freak! Give yourself this easy, inexpensive pedicure at home. Soak your feet in a bowl of full-fat milk for at least ten minutes. The lactic acid helps your skin to hold water which reduces those cracks in your heels and gives them a more youthful appearance. If you really want to add a touch of lux, add a cup of rose petals. The petals contain Gallic acid which will tighten and tone those tired soles. Go from freak to chic in no time flat!
Thin down your arms with a few over-sized bangles or bracelets! Weight yourself down with them. They will add "visual weight" to help slim down and balance your arms. Anything to take peoples attention away from the bat wings is great!
Wonder where your waist has wandered off to? So do we. Pin an over-sized sparkling brooch on the side of your waistband or pin it to your belt if your wearing jeans. Your waist will suddenly reappear! Remember, the brighter the better and nothing smaller than three inches.
Shrink your Buddha belly with several long chains! Longer necklaces help to elongate your torso and slim your silhouette. You can also draw attention away from your round face with a drop pendant. It helps to define your jawline and helps to camoflague your worst features!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Do you cut out the ads for the yard sales you want to go to, but always end up with scraps of paper all over the mini van? To avoid having to cut out all the little ads in the newspaper, or wasting time copying them to a sheet of paper, here's an idea: take a piece of Scotch tape and place it over the ad then use your fingernail and press down on the ad. Then carefully lift the tape and place the tape on a piece of paper. All the information will be transferred to the tape. When arranging them on your paper try to put them in order of location to streamline your trip.
When shopping for specific items such as baby furniture or small kitchen electrics, remember that many items may of have been recalled by the manufacturer. Before you head off , call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or visit their website to get a list of products you should avoid.
To avoid theft, ask at least 3 or 4 friends to help monitor your sale. Also set up a "check out" area that all customers must go through before leaving the sale.
Two things Kathleen hates:
1.) When people haven't taken the time to clean items being sold in the sale.
2.) When items aren't ticketed.
Two things Michael hates:
1.) Yard sale banter. You don't have to tell me your life story when browsing my sale. I don't care that you had to work on Saturday or that your grandmother likes teddy bears. Just buy it!
2.) People who want to buy everything including the clothes off your damn back! No, my polo shirt isn't for sale; no, the cats in the window are not for sale! It's the damn stuff on the tables! With the price tags right, Kathleen?
Two things we love:
1.) Well organized sales with distinct groupings of items. The "department store" feel!
2.) When the sellers take the time to supply plastic bags, wrap up breakables, and offer to help bring cumbersome items to your car, etc.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Do you love those exotic varieties such as maitake, oyster, shiitake, and portabello? Guess what? Not only are they almost double the price but they are not as healthy as the generic white button ones sold in your local grocery store! These provide more immunity-boosting antioxidants and nutrients! Take that!
Strap on your... apron (get your mind out of the gutter) honey it's time for us to get down with some klever kitchen kitsch!
-Slippery cutting board? Save your digits and your counter tops by placing a damp towel under your cutting board. This helps to prevent it from sliding all over your work surface!
-Are your lemons to firm? Try popping them in the microwave for 10 second increments. This will help to break down the fruit's cells making them easier to juice! Also don't forget the old tip of rolling them on the counter before slicing them to help release the juices.
-Unruly herbs? Try using a rubber band to bunch herbs such as chives or parsley together when chopping. Try using a pair of kitchen shears to chop them instead of a chef's knife. It's easier, faster, and you won't be cleaning up herb debris for days!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Add interest and a touch a fun to your next table-scape with this great idea. Try elevating serving dishes and platters using stacks of brightly colored ribbon. Stack three or four spools from largest at the bottom to the smallest at top. Try using glass plates to help show off this bright spring tip!
Save your stamps and your guests the hassle of keeping track of paper invitations. Send them online directly to their cell phone using the website http://www.socializr.com/. These digital invites can be saved to their cell phone's calender. You can event add festive songs and video too!
Hors d'oeuvres: Plan on people eating between 4 to 8 if your cheap and not serving dessert after the meal. If you decide to be Daddy Warbucks and splurge on dessert, then plan on about 4 per person.
Drinks (the stronger the better): Plan on 3 to 4 drinks in a 2 to 3 hour time frame, that is, of course, if you aren't attending a kegger at your local frat house!
Glasses: Plan on approximately 3 to 4 glasses per person. People get lazy or just too drunk and loose track of where they put their damn glass! You can imagine you could spend all night washing glasses or you can come up with some creative ways for each of your guests to identify his or her glass. For example, hand each person a sticker as they arrive and ask them to stick it on their glass.
Ice: Plan on 1 pound per person. You'll need keep bottles chilled and guest will need it in their glasses.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Lip gloss is notorious for disappearing quicker than an appletini on a Friday night! What can you do to keep it from wiping away so quickly? Try applying two coats. Apply the first coat and blot if off. Then apply a second generous coat. The first coat will color your lips; the second will seal the deal!
How is a label-whore to survive this tough economy? Just because the economy is plunging it doesn't mean your neckline can't! Try browsing the racks at your local thrift-store for some great deals. Just follow our tips:
1.) Set a limit of $10 or $20. You would be surprised at how much that can get you!
2.) Try shopping on a Monday. The most donations are recieved over the weekend and the staff does not have time to put it all out on the sales floor.
3.) Look at the label, not neccessarily for the name (whore!); but the crisper the label the less often the garment has been worn.
4.) Try shopping at stores near colleges. As the school year draws to a close students begin shedding their belongs to make the load lighter on their journies home. Many times these items are current, barely used, and in great condition!
5.) If your looking for furniture or linens, remember to bring along a tape measure to ensure that these items are the correct size.
With the long cold winter coming to end, I am sure you are losing sleep over where you are going to store your priceless, cashmere sweaters. No, I am I alone in this? Try your freezer and no, I am not crazy; I swear! Your cashmere goodies looks like a Thanksgiving Day feast to wool-munching pests like moths. Try placing your sweaters in a zip-top, freezer bag wrapped in cotton batting to absorb any excess moisture. The Arctic conditions will kill off any harmful munchers and keep your sweater fresh!
Have you ever been out to dinner or running errands when a button pops off your pants or shirt? We have a wonderful easy fix that will have you back in action quicker than ever. Try peeling away the paper from a twist tie and insert the wire into the button holes and through the fabric; twist away! If you can't find twist ties, try keeping a small spool of thin floral wire in your purse or murse; it'll also do the trick.