• December 31, 2014

    New Year’s Traditions Around the World

    Happy New Year!

    It’s that time again… time to make changes, start new, and look forward to a whole new trip around the sun.  Of course, something so exciting as starting a new year comes steeped in traditions, superstitions, and downright nutty events.  I have never liked the party scene on New Year’s (too many people, too much booze… what can I say, I’m an old lady and always have been), but I do find the customs and traditions surrounding the holiday fascinating.

    For instance, in the South US, it’s a tradition to eat black-eyed peas. The black-eyed peas symbolize coins and eating them insures economic prosperity for the coming year.  If you are like me, though, you have no idea how to prepare black eyed peas… but, give this recipe  a try and let me know how it works out for you.  :)

    In South America and Spain, it’s believed the color of your undergarments will influence what kind of year you’ll have. Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red and pink will bring love and romance, blue will promote health and wellness, white will lead to peace and harmony, and green will ensure health and well-being.

    Also in Spain, they eat 12 grapes for 12 months of good luck. But there is a bit of a trick to it, to bring a year’s worth of good luck, you have to start eating the grapes exactly when the clock strikes midnight, then eat one for each toll of the clock.  And all of the grapes must be eaten (meaning fully swallowed) before the tolls of the clock are ended.

    In the Philippines, people wear polka dots because the circle represents prosperity. Coins are kept in pockets and are rattled together to attract wealth.

    Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the New Year ball drop in New York, right before midnight. Thousands of people gather to watch the ball in person and on television; they party and kiss under its shining light and start the New Year jubilant and probably hammered.  This tradition is so glamorous and fun that many cities have chosen to follow in New York’s path and drop things that represent different communities in celebration:

    • In Boise Idaho, a car sized potato is dropped from the US Bank building in downtown Boise. Idaho is known for its potatoes, so I guess that dropping a potato makes sense (I wonder, though, if they eat mashed potatoes afterwards?  ba-duh-bum).
    • And in Tempe, Arizona, a Giant Tortilla Chip is dropped (sponsored by Tostitos Tortilla Chips).  Apparently the accompanying party is massive and includes fireworks and, I presume, a lot of salsa.
    • Plymouth, Wisconsin drops an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge from a 100 ft. ladder truck in a tribute to the region’s dairy industry.
    • Perhaps my favorite thing to drop on New Year’s, though, comes from Mobile, Alabama where a 600-pound, Moon Pie is lowered from the RSA Tower.  There is also a Mardi Gras parade where moon pies are thrown instead of (or with?) beaded necklaces.  That’s a party I might actually want to go to.  Ha!

    Despite the charm and hilarity of these traditions, the Midnight Kiss is probably the most widely participated in event of New Year celebrations around the world.  The reason you are supposed to kiss someone at midnight is to ward off a year of coldness and lack of affection.  And probably to ensure you start the year off with fun and excitement. 

    So, this New Year’s Eve, I hope you are all eating beans, wearing colorful (maybe polka dotted) underpants, and kissing someone you love!

  • December 24, 2014

    Throwback Thursday on a Wednesday

    Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

    Since it is almost Christmas and I need a tiny break, I am implementing Throwback Thursday on a Wednesday!  I hope you love it as much as it embarrasses me.

    *grin*

    ThrowbackThursdayonWednesday

    Sorry for the fuzzy looking picture… I scanned a really old photograph and this is the best I could make it look.

    This is a picture of me at Christmas with a pretty traditional tree (for my house growing up).  We used to drive out to the forest and cut our own trees.  My dad would take the tape measure out and we’d find the biggest tree that would physically fit into our living room.

    Sometimes it wouldn’t actually fit… many a year (the one pictured included) we’d have to cut the trunk shorter because the tree was too tall.  There was another year where the girth of the tree was such that nobody could fit on the couch.  It was actually kind of a little joke between my Dad and me to get the biggest tree in the forest and make my Mom crazy at the same time.

    Anyway, I hope y’all have a great Christmas!  Stay warm and safe and don’t drink and drive, kids.

  • December 17, 2014

    Top 5 Christmas Traditions

    Tree

    Ok ya’ll, time for a Christmas Top Five!

    *grin*

    I love Christmas and all of the transitions that go along with it!  Get ready for a few of my favorite things!

    1. Decorating the house

    Decorations

    Santa

    2. Looking at Christmas Lights

    Overkill-Lights

    The Grinch is stealing the lights!  (Hard to see in this picture, I know... but so cute in real life!)

    The Grinch is stealing the lights! (Hard to see in this picture, I know… but so cute in real life!)

    Deer

    In addition to looking at lights, Hubby and I have stepped it up a notch the past couple of years and do Light BINGO!  I make up two bingo sheets with typical decorations (eg: Santa, Snoopy, a nativity, etc.) and then we search out those things.  Whoever gets a row crossed off first, wins!  Fun, right?  :)

    3. Yearly Ornaments

    New-Ornament

    Every year we buy a new ornament for the tree with the year on it. If we go somewhere during the year, we try to get an ornament from that place… this year it came from Canada!

    4. Christmas Music

    5. Wrapping Gifts

    Wrapping-Gifts

    My aunt used to send the most beautifully wrapped packages that made me feel so special since I knew she took extra care to make them look nice. I love carrying on that tradition!

  • December 10, 2014

    Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn

    Chocolate-Candycane-Popcorn-Feature-Image

     

    You know what I’ve noticed about holiday treats?  Most of them are difficult to make.  And they are expensive.  Also, calories.  And sugar.

    So.  Much.  Sugar.

    So, I set out on a quest to make a semi-healthy, inexpensive, beautiful treat that is easy to whip up.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is it:

     

    Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn Recipe

    By Erin Published: December 10, 2014

        You know what I've noticed about holiday treats?  Most of them are difficult to make.  And they are expensive.  Also, …

      Ingredients

      Instructions

      1. IngredientsGather ingredients.
      2. PopcornCover 2 cookie sheets with wax paper. Spread the popcorn out over the prepared cookie sheets in a single layer.
      3. Chocolate-DrizzleUse a double broiler to melt the chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolate over the popcorn.
      4. CandySprinkle the smashed candy cane on top before the chocolate cools.

       

      Pro Tips:

      If  you can’t get the candy cane to stick to your chocolate, go ahead and just mix the candy in with the chocolate before pouring it on the popcorn.  It might not look quite as pretty, but it will taste great!

      Use kettle corn instead of regular popcorn for added sweetness.

      Try different types of chocolate too!

       

    • December 3, 2014

      Giving

      blackfridaycrowd

      Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, the saintly answer to the greed and ridiculousness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I don’t know how long Giving Tuesday has been around, but this was the first time I had heard of it… and I like it.

      I have never been able to understand how people can spend a whole day with family and eat and enjoy the company and share the things they are thankful for and then go to WalMart or Best Buy to buy a bunch of stuff.  The practice makes me sad.  Like, my heart actually hurts when I think about it.  It’s not even about the shopping and the stuff so much as it is how people treat each other when they are out on Black Friday.

      I don’t get it.

      To now have a day that is about doing good and making a positive change in the world we live in, well, it makes my heart hurt a little bit less.

      If you missed the Giving Tuesday memo like I did, don’t fret!  Just like you can continue to shop and get good (probably better) deals after Black Friday, you can also continue to make donations and make the world a little nicer.

      This Christmas season, I am feeling tugs on my heartstrings to give locally.  I look around my community and I see hidden hurts, hidden needs, and real struggles.  I know people who don’t have enough food or money to pay rent.  I know people who can’t afford to heat their homes.  I know people who are sick and hospitalized or hurt and scared for their lives.  So, today, I want to encourage you to give to your community.  Give what you can, even if it isn’t much, because what seems like a little to you might actually save someone else.

       

       Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts.  Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.  Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions.  For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”  Mark 12:41-44

       

      Picture from: The Huffington Post