Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! What To Eat For Good Luck On New Year's Day?

Although I am not at all superstitious...except for avoiding black cats, always keeping a rabbit's foot in my pocket, picking up pennies on sidewalks, trying not to hear thunder in February, never drinking bourbon while eating bananas, or milk with fish, etc., etc....I do follow the old Southern tradition of ALWAYS eating black-eyed peas, cornbread, and greens (the color of money)...cooked with ham hocks (because pigs always go forward since they cannot see or walk backwards) for good luck and prosperity in the new year. Besides, I like these healthy dishes. What do y'all eat on New Year's Day? Please page down or scroll down to the bottom of this page to see my animated Happy New Year's Card.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Scents That Trigger Happy Memories?

As pictured above fragrant pomanders made with oranges and cloves hanging around our house perfumed the air. Other favorite spice aromas in the kitchen came from ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. The smell of freshly cut cedar which we got from our woods for our Christmas tree and door wreath was pleasantly pungent. Colorful fruit bowls of oranges, tangerines, satsumas, and apples were a feast for the eyes and nose and tongue. The wonderful smell of a huge ham covered with whole cloves and brown sugar baking on Christmas morning was mouth-watering. Southern-style fruitcakes packed with pecans and saturated with good bourbon gave off delicious smells when the tins were opened on Christmas Day. Which Christmas scents trigger happy memories for you?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kenny G and Winter Wonderland Christmas Display Video

This is a cool video with a Christmas lights display nicely sequenced to Kenny G's famous version of "Winter Wonderland". Turn up your speakers and enjoy and get yourself a dose of "Christmas Spirit".

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Porch Poinsettias and Ambassador Poinsett

The history of the poinsettia: The plant we know today as the poinsettia has a long and interesting history. The fact is, that lovely plant you place in your home during the holidays was once used as a fever medicine! Native to Central America, the plant flourished in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The ancient Aztecs had a name for this plant found blooming in the tropical highlands during the short days of winter:cuetlaxochitl. Not merely decorative, the Aztecs put the plant to practical use. From its bracts they extracted a purplish dye for use in textiles and cosmetics. The milky white sap, today called latex, was made into a preparation to treat fevers. Joel Roberts Poinsett: The poinsettia may have remained a regional plant for many years to come had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 - 1851). The son of a French physician, Poinsett was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825 - 1829) by President Madison. Poinsett had attended medical school himself, but his real love in the scientific field was botany. (Mr. Poinsett later founded the institution which we know today as the Smithsonian Institution). Poinsett maintained his own hothouses on his Greenville, South Carolina plantations, and while visiting the Taxco area in 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms he saw there. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began propagating the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens. Among the recipients of Poinsett's work was John Bartram of Philadelphia, who in turn gave the plant over to another friend, Robert Buist, a Pennsylvania nurseryman. Mr. Buist is thought to be the first person to have sold the plant under its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima (literally, "the most beautiful Euphorbia"). Though it is thought to have become known by its more popular name of poinsettia around 1836, the origin of the name is certainly clear!

Friday, December 12, 2008

"A Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote (Click On This Title To Read It)

Every Christmas season for about the last 30 years I have found time to pull out my thin copy of Truman Capote's extremely touching, bittersweet classic "A Christmas Memory" to re-read. It is a short, simple and beautifully written account of a poor, young and unwanted boy in rural Alabama during the Great Depression, and his special relationship with his elderly distant cousin he called "Sook", and his memory of a wonderful Christmas they created and shared together. Reading this makes the "giving spirit" of Christmas come alive. Click on the word "Christmas" in the title above to read it and warm your heart.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Santa Claus: The Coca-Colarized Version Americans Love (Click This X)

In 1931 the Coca-Cola Company commissioned the famous illustrator Haddon Sundblom of Michigan to create some advertising that would encourage customers to drink Coca-Cola in the winter instead of just in hot summer weather. The focus was on showing Santa Claus drinking Coke at Christmas and depicting Santa in a new American style very different than European art versions of St. Nicholas and Father Christmas. Those old world art versions of Santa were NOT fat and fact, he was shown as tall and skinny, and his facial expression was dour and frightened children, and those costumes were not colorful enough to suit Coca-Cola's ad campaign. Voila! Sundblom created the classic fat, jolly, smiling Santa in red and white clothing that Americans came to love and know even today. The bottle of Coke in Santa's hand is from what began in Vicksburg in 1894. (See my post on this down below.) Click on the title at the X above to go to the Coca-Cola Coke Lore site to read all about this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell To Fall..Autumn Leaves Video Sung By Eva Cassidy

The strong thunderstorms that swept through this part of Mississippi today have stripped almost all of the fall leaves off. Due to strange climate patterns and irregular rainfall this year our fall colors here were rather disappointing. This song, "Autumn Leaves", is one of my favorites and is sung by the late, great Eva Cassidy who had a purity of voice very rare and beautiful. Turn on your speakers and click the arrow. Enjoy!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Random Act Of Kindness With A 42 Cent Stamp: Update: This Program Has Ended

Update 12-18-08: It has been brought to my attention that this particular card program has ended due to insufficient organization, deadlines, security concerns, and other factors. Thus do NOT send a Christmas Card to the address below as it will NOT be delivered. A Wounded American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20307-5001 It is sad to me that this good program has ended. Too many formerly positive things in this country have gone away and/or now broken.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Let's Say Thanks To Our Troops Overseas Card Project (Click This X)

Xerox has a really cool site for its project to send FREE and QUICK thank you cards to individual soldiers serving overseas. See the soldiers above holding their cards. The art on these various cards was created by kids all across America, and you can select from a menu of messages you want written on your card. Regardless of how we may feel politically about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers deserve our thanks and support for all they are doing. Especially during this holiday season, I'm sure a soldier would get a kick and a smile to receive a card from us. Click on the title of this blog above to go to the Xerox card site and send a card. It is so easy and just takes a second to do.