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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Wreaths Across America

The United States was built on those that protected our great country. From the Revolutionary War to the more present day conflicts it is veterans that have protected our rights. Those vets are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. From the richest among us to the very poor they all serve our great country. They place their lives on the line in the name of freedom. Wreaths across America helps to draw awareness, show all that have passed a great honor and to tell the story of many. 

Wreaths Across America has brought together groups for wreath laying ceremonies at more than 1,400 locations across the United States. These sites are located at both sea and abroad. 

The group strives to teach students, scouts, civic and religious groups around the country. 

Look into how you can get involved in your local area to honor vets or those that have fallen 

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Managing the Unmanageable

Can you imagine trying to heard a bunch of cats?? This task would be very futile and difficult to say the least. As far as I know there is no professional cat herder. However, there are many that are or have tried to manage the unmanageable.

Cats are independent, solitary, and easily distracted creatures. Many humans also have these items in their list of characteristics.

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Citrus at Christmas Time

Christmas has long been greeted with a great variety of citrus. The pieces of citrus fruit seem to resemble shining pieces that bring with them memories of warm sunny days gone by. Many types of citrus fruit comes into season over the cold winter months. Perhaps you all ready knew that citrus fruit seems to be at its best in the cold winter months.

Displayed in large decorative trays, greeting the guest in trays of desserts and piled high in intricate bowls. Citrus fruits were once a luxury that was nearly impossible to get. The average family was not able to see fresh citrus fruit. However, in the southern part of the United States it was nearly against the right of all man kind to not put citrus in the child's stocking

Sweet, seasonal citrus would find its way into the stockings hung by care. The arrival of the citrus season was well welcomed by the Southern part of the United States. The seasonal treats would be hoarded away and offered up as treats in children Christmas stockings. Not all families would be able to reach the fruit until the advent of the railroad. With the invention of the railroad quick transportation was at hand and finally the perishable fruit could be carried to where they lived.

Tradition of Oranges at Christmas::
It was a Bishop Nicholas later known as Saint Nicholas that had inherited a great fortune early in life but rather than use the money on himself he chose to help those that could not help their selves. One family that he helped was a single father and his 3 daughters. Because the small family was poor the girls had no dowries and thus could not get married.

Bishop Nicholas wanted to help and tied 3 sacks of gold together and tossed down family chimney The coins landed in the girls stockings hanging by the fire. Since that time the tradition of citrus being inside of Christmas.

For the cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon zest of two lemons
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice about 2 lemons
1 stick 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the icing:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
4 oz. cream cheese softened
Juice and zest from 2 lemons
Generous pinch of salt
4 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins by using liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extracts and lemon juice, then add one-third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Place the batter into the cupcake tins.
Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Cool on wire rack.
To make the icing: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, thoroughly mix together the butter and cream cheese. Add the lemon juice, zest, and salt and mix to combine. On low speed, add the confectioner’s sugar, one cup at a time until you reach the desired spreading consistency. To finish, frost the cooled cupcakes

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Bill of Rights Day

President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 15, 1941 brought attention to the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. He wanted all to observe December 15th as Bill of Rights day. It would be a day to display the flag of the United States on all public buildings as well as great day to host meetings for prayers and ceremonies called together to observe the bill of rights.

The bill of rights of the United States Constitution is made up of the first 10 amendments. Congress passed the amendments that placed limits on government powers on September 25, 1789. Facts about the Bill of Rights:

  • The bill was introduced by James Madison.
  • There were originally 12 proposed amendments. The two that were left off had to do with number of representatives and how they would be compensated

A Bill of Rights shares the rights of an individual, organization or country that are fundamental in nature. They often set the standards for how one expects to be treated. An individual can create personal bill of rights by stating what they believe they deserve as well as acknowledge that they believe they deserve these rights as well. 

All of us have human-rights that are not earned or deemed but gathered just because we were born. Many do not believe that we all have these rights. Those with mental health issues, low self -esteem, poor individuals are often mistreated by others. There is none of us that must earn our rights. Some of the rights that every single individual deserves are

  • right to change and grow
  • right to take care of oneself, no matter what
  • right to forgive others as well as one self
  • right to give and receive love
  • right to personal space and time
  • right to set and follow ones own set of values and standards
  • right to be in non-abusive environment and relationship
  • right to make own decisions
  • right to make mistakes
  • right to have feelings and fun
  • right to expect honesty from others
  • right to determine and honor priorities in life
  • right to privacy
  • right to say no as well as change my mind
  • right to not be responsible for others actions
  • right to a future
There are times that we may not fully be aware of all the rights that humans are granted. Basic rights may go unnoticed or be unmet Many of us act as people pleasers and use the word "should" often. The good news is that we have the right to recognize , believe and acknowledge our rights.

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Make Reindeer Food

4 cups oat cereal or Cheerios
1 cup raisins
1 cup diced dried apricots
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped pretzels
3 tbsp. margarine, melted (optional)

Place all ingredients in a 2-quart sealable plastic bag, seal and shake until mixed.  Purchase small plastic bags with holiday decorations.  Write the name of one of Santa's reindeer on each bag and fill with snack-sized portions for kids to enjoy

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Leftover Christmas ham casserole

6 slices bread, buttered on one side and quartered
6 eggs, plus 6 extra egg yolks
150ml cream
2 stalks fresh thyme, removed from stalk
1 silverbeet/spinach leaf, roughly torn
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
150g ham off the bone
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 tbsp hot English mustard

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Grease baking dish and arrange bread standing up with some crusts on top and some down bottom.
Weave in alternatively as evenly as possible the spinach, tomatoes and ham.
Whisk eggs, cream, mustard, thyme and pepper. Pour over the top of mix, sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes. Check for done-ness with a fork – the egg should be cooked right to bottom of baking tray. Serve hot or cold.\

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Breakfast Tater Tot Casserole #Recipe

1lb ground pork breakfast sausage (or cubed ham or bacon, whatever you like best)
2 -4cups shredded cheddar cheese
2cups milk
2lbs frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Spread the sausage, bacon, or ham evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Spread cheese over meat. I use 4 cups of cheese, but you can use less if you prefer to reduce the calories.
In large bowl, beat together milk and eggs. Pour over cheese. (May be refrigerated overnight at this point).
Top with frozen tater tots.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Some ovens may take more or less time. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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Jello Christmas Trees

green snack packs
pipe cleaners
pom-pom balls
hot glue/hot glue gun

Turn your Snack Pack cups upside down and carefully dab a small amount of hot glue onto the top back and free the end of your pipe cleaner onto the glue and begin wrapping the pipe cleaner to the bottom at an angle. One will not be enough so glue your second pipe cleaning next to where your first one ended and secure the end with glue towards the bottom.
Glue a large yellow tinsel or regular pom-pom ball to the top of the tree and the littler ones and gems all over the outside of the tree.
Let your glue dry for a few minutes and they’re ready to enjoy!

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Tip for Freezing Cold Weather Safety

Brrrrr!!! It's Cold Out There.

It's that time of year when the weather turns freezing cold. I am not a big fan of the cold weather and if you live in an area where winter happens yearly and it has not showed up yet,,, just wait it soon will. We have all ready had a few days of terrible weather and several more to come I am sure. So what can we do to be ready for the cold weather??

Listen to the weather forecast. Whether it be on the radio, t.v. or on the internet the knowledge the source has to share will help you be aware of what is to come. Be sure to listen for wind chill warnings. Warnings are issued when significant wind shields are expected. Knowing what to expect will help you plan ahead and be prepared.

On days when it is very cold, or when the wind chill is significantly low plans should be made to ensure any safety issues that may occur. Schools will hold recess inside, outside workers should be scheduled warm up breaks, and those involved in winter rec should limit time spent outside In addition, knowing the weather conditions should help one dress for the weather.

Dressing for the weather is primarily to dress warm. Layers will help with cold weather and having a wind resistant outer layer will help to keep one warm. Cold weather accessories include hats, mittens or gloves, scarves and something to help keep face warm Another concern is what you wear on your feet. Warm and waterproof footwear should be donned in the extremely cold weather. Ensuring that all exposed skin is covered, feet are warm with the extra care taken and layers are worn will help keep you from freezing.

Keeping active while out in the cold freezing weather will help you generate body heat. But beware that frostbite and hypothermia may occur in the extreme cold. Children, elderly and those with circulation problems are more susceptible of the cold. In addition the use of alcohol, tobacco and certain medications can make one more susceptibility to the cold.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

How to Make Paper Garland

Garland has been part of the magic of Christmas for many years Construction paper garland are easy to make and thrifty as well. By simply cutting strips of paper, stapling the ends of the first cut together to form a circle and looping the next strip to connect it and following the pattern stapling the ring ends together can help add a bit of charm to Christmas. 

Why not make you own?? Have you ever made this before?? 

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Roasting Chestnuts

Roasting chestnuts oven an open fire or stove is part of the German Christmas tradition. America adopted the tradition of roasted chestnuts and made them part of the American holidays. The aroma of the roasting chestnuts wafts through the air at Christmas Markets in Germany and the United States. While harvested in fall months of September and October chestnuts is a staple food especially enjoyed during winter months.

Chestnuts are a richly nutrition food source. Hosting many minerals and vitamins as well as being high in fiber and low in fat.

The tradition of roasting chestnuts during the holidays may travel back to the 16th century Rome. Vendors would sell them on street corners during holiday months.

To roast chestnuts they must be first cleaned or rinsed in water and dried off.

2 lb chestnuts
1 tbsp melted unsalted butter

preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
carefully with a serrated knife, make an "X" on the curved side of every chestnut, being sure to just pierce through the shell (reaching the nut, but not making an "X" in the nut - however if you do that is OKAY).
Next soak the nuts in water for about 30 seconds.
Drain and pat dry.
Place nuts on a baking sheet and toss with melted butter.
Place foil over nuts and poke holes through foil which will allow steam to escape.
Set chestnuts on middle rack in oven for about 25-30 minutes. Removing foil after 20 minutes.
Remove chestnuts from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle and crack open.
Devour immediately, or bring to room temperature and store in fridge until ready to use.

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Recalling Pearl Harbor in 2018

The Hawaiian harbor that once hosted an abundance of pearls was also the place of one of the largest natural harbor in the state of Hawaii. Pearl Harbor today is the number one visitor destination on Oahu. The site of an active military base for many decades is the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet and National Historic Landmark. In addition the harbor plays host to four unique attractions that help tell the story of the War in the Pacific during the Pearl Harbor attack. Moreover the harbor shares the accomplishments of a previous generation.

The lives of many were changed that fateful day December 7. 1941 during the Pearl Harbor attack. Those who fought in the war, those lives affected by the war, their children, grandchildren, and the generations to come. The memories of the fallen are celebrated

  • Five minutes before 8 am hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds about the island of Oahu. Not just one plane but 360 warplanes came to attack that day. The surprise assault would attack the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. It would be the straw that broke the camels back and draw the U.S. into World War II
  • That early Sunday morning found many military personnel on leave to attend religious services off base. The planes had been sited by a radar operator heading toward the island from the north but instructed not to sound alarms the Japanese air assault was devastating surprise.
  • The bombing left the Pacific fleet in shock, destroyed and severely damaged. Five battleships, three destroyers, seven other ships and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. More than 2,400 Americans killed and another 1,200 wounded. 
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Oh Christmas Card

As I sat in a business waiting for my turn I noticed on the wall a great amount of Christmas cards. Sadly, I have not participated in mailing cards out for quite some time. Instead, I send out texts or facebook personal messages during the holidays. Due to time constraints this is how do it but would love to do it a different way if only I had more time. Do you send Christmas cards out to friends and family??

Remembering loved ones at Christmas times shows them that you are thinking about them. Some are sent to bring a bit of cheer to friends and family members during the holidays. Others , like those businesses often send carry holiday messages to show customers and employees appreciation. There are even those that send Christmas cards to stay in touch and welcome in the holiday season and end of the year.

I love to share messages with all those that I love during the holidays. Some are private messages and others are random group messages. Thinking of what to say in the cards sometimes comes easy and other times is harder. If you are struggling with what what message to share in the card that you send here are some ideas:

  • Have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
  • Wishing you all the best that a holiday could offer.
  • Peace, joy, and love to you and your family.
  • May your Christmas season be filled with joy and light!
  • Hope your stocking is stuffed full of joy this year.
  • Sending you glad tidings this holiday season.
  • Thinking of you this Christmas. “Yule” be on my mind. 
  • Hope your holiday season is bright enough that you need sunglasses!

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Its Beginning to Smell a Lot like Christmas

Our senses of taste, smell, sight, and hearing all seem to bring along memories with them. Christmas time is one event where the senses help us return to some happier or sadder moments but always nostalgic periods of time in our life. The memories of years gone by can literally travel to our brains via senses. Thus allowing us to recall memories of past years for years to come.

One common theme that our senses seem to pick up and bring memories rushing back is food. Scents of grandma's cookies, the fresh Christmas tree, spiced apple cider and the list goes on. Store bought candles, sprays and air fresheners are designed to deliver a chemical fragrance to help bring back the scents of past years. However, they do not always get the job done and leave a chemical smell in the air often.

This year try a fresher approach with these ideas:

Since the middle ages spicy citrus has become a holiday scent that all have enjoyed. Clove oranges is an intoxicating scent and look very decorative as well. These oranges are easy to make and if you choose to go a bit different try a grapefruit or apple. Simply poke some holes into the rind with a toothpick or pin and then insert individual cloves into each hole. The choice of how many cloves you use as well as the design is your choice.

Another way to help liven up the smells of Christmas awakening those memories of days gone by is by using simmering pots. Not only a replacement for air fresheners the DIY project will fill the entire home with a delightful aroma The scent is long lasting and even stays around a bit after the pot stops simmering. `Simmering pots are a great way to add moisture to the air. Leave on for a few hours replacing water as needed. The aroma will wafer through the house as well. Perhaps the worst part is having to clean the pot afterwards.

  • 1 pomegranate, quartered
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 tsp. ground cloves

Place all ingredients in a pot, cover with water, and simmer on low on your stove. Cover with more water as needed.

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gingerbread history and a tasty recipe

It was the crusaders who first brought ginger from the Middle East during the 11th century. The good thing was it was affordable to everyone therefore gingerbread could be found in many homes. A variety of gingerbread recipes were thought up and shared. Some recipes included almonds, stale breadcrumbs, ginger, rosewater and sugar. The gingerbread would be pressed into molds and made into shapes ranging from queens and kings to religious symbols. After baking the cookies may be decorated according economical class.

Gingerbread recipes would see changes. One change was to remove the breadcrumbs and substituted with flour. To make the gingerbread dough lighter the recipe would also include eggs and sweeteners. Gingerbread men cookies were popular with all classes and sold at fairs and popular events as well. In addition magicians and witches created gingerbread men as love tokens for young ladies who would try to trick a young man into eating it and falling in love with her. Perhaps the cookie was good was to be loved in many different ways.

America, 18th century the gingerbread cookie is gaining popularity in America. The first president of America, George Washington would dine on his mothers gingerbread cookies while visiting her. The recipe she used was from Marquis de Lafayette and the name of the cookie became known as Gingerbread Lafayette. The recipe would be passed down to the next generations for time to come.

It would not be until around 1875 that the gingerbread man cookie would become a popular treat. With the story about a "Ginger-Bread Boy" who runs away from his pursuers and in the end was eaten by the sly fox also came a bit of popularity for the cookie.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
In a large bowl or mixer beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
Add molasses and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, but should be returned to room temperature before baking.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place 1 portion of the dough on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the dough and rolling pin. Roll dough to 1/4” thick. Use additional flour to avoid sticking. Cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters. Space cookies 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies). Remove the cookies from the oven and allow the cookies to rest until cookies are firm enough to move to a wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before decorating or frosting.
Makes 24 5-inch tall cookies.

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FIggy Pudding

The song says
"Oh, bring us some figgy pudding, oh, bring us some figgy pudding, oh — "

But how can we bring some figgy pudding if I am unaware of what it is. So let me tell you what Figgy Pudding actually is:

Figgy Pudding:=== has also been called plum pudding or Christmas pudding. The British Christmas tables will all have figgy pudding to serve. The recipe contains no figs or plums. Rather during the pre-Victorian era dried fruit was known as raisins. The dish is a British style pudding It is a steamed cake full of raisins, currants and brandy.

16 ounces dried figs
1 3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a a medium saucepan, heat milk and chopped figs over medium-low heat but do NOT bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. The the milk will soften the figs.
In a medium bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs one minute on high. Reduce speed to low and add butter, bread crumbs, orange peel, and warm fig mixture. Slowly incorporate flour mixture. Beat until just blended.
Pour the mix into the greased bundt pan. Level top as much as possible. Cover the mold with a piece of aluminum foil greased on one side, greased side down. Place the mold in a roasting pan and place on oven rack. fill with hot tap water 2 inches up the side of the mold. Bake for 2 hours or until the pudding is firm and it is pulling away from the side of the bundt pan.
Remove the pudding from the water bath. Remove the foil and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert bundt pan onto a serving plate and remove mold. It should come away easily.

Serve with a hard sauce.

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Southern Illinois fun places to stay and activities to do

One of the hidden treasures in the state of Illinois in my opinion is "Little Egypt" So you have never heard of it before?? May I ask if you have ever been below Chicago?? One of the Midwest's best kept secret is southern Illinois. The natural beauty and deep history offers it a bit of uniqueness.

Southern Illinois is a great place for those that like to climb. There is natural areas to get the same workout others get in the gym. Places by the name of Cedar Bluff, Drapers Bluff, Jackson falls, Fountain Bluff, Giant City and Cahokia Mound

Many think of Illinois and the many rows of corn that grow there. Illinois is also home to more than 20 wineries and vineyards. Southern Illinois plays host to two wine trails Come for a visit and while you are here you may want to sleep in a tree house

IF you were like me then you had a tree house as a kid. These homes are perfect to live out a childhood dream by sleeping in the treehouse. Each treehouse is equipped with a bathroom, kitchenette, heating and air conditioning. However, if the tree house sleeping is not for you then try staying in one of the many log cabins originally built in 1852.

So get out there and come visit Southern Illinois

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Eggnog Bread Pudding #Recipe

cups cubed (stale) French bread
4 eggs
2 cups prepared eggnog
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup golden raisins, optional
3/4 cup egg nog
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter

Generously grease a large (6- to 7-quart) slow cooker with softened butter (or spray with nonstick cooking spray).
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and blend in the eggnog and brown sugar until well combined. Whisk continuously while streaming in the melted butter, then mix in the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the bread cubes to the bowl and use a large spoon to stir until all of the bread is soaked with the eggnog mixture. Gently mix in the raisins, if using.
Transfer the mixture to the prepared slow cooker and smooth the top into an even layer. Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours, until just set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Just before the bread pudding is done, prepare the Eggnog Syrup. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the eggnog and the maple syrup. Bring to a simmer, watching closely stirring occasionally, and adjusting the heat as necessary. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes until the mixture is reduced and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted. Allow the syrup to slightly cool and serve it warm over scoops of bread pudding.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ding a Ling Day

 That's right it is Ding a ling day. The day is a chance to reach out to that individual that you my not have talked to for quite some time. 

Do you recall the days when the phone seemed attached to you?? I know many still think it does with all the cell phones and all but back in the day before cell phones. Back when the phone was attached by  cord to the wall. Yes, there were phones that could be carried around the house but even those had to be hanged up occasionally I recall my teenage years where mom would ask " are you going to get off that phone" Yes, I called my grandparents, friends, boyfriends and the list went on. But like time and phones that over extension of time on the phone has fade and the time I spent on the phone has shrunk. 

We all know it happens. Sadly its true that we somehow lose tract of individuals that we love. Old friends, distant relatives, former colleagues or other important individuals. Reaching out to those you love may loom over ones head and seem a bit daunting but it is truly easier to do than not to do Perhaps while you are thinking about them you are thinking about you as well. 

Today, take some time and call up that person or people you spent your time talking to. I am sure a reunion of sorts will help make your holidays just a bit brighter. 

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Lady of Guadalupe

In 1531 the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego as he was crossing a hillside near present day Mexico city. Imagine an average peasant man seeing the appearance of a dark skinned woman speaking Nahuatl, Juan Diego's native language. The woman asked Juan Diego to build a little house on the hill. Diego tried to relay the story to his local priest a couple of times. Doubt filled the bishop asked for proof.

On December 12th the lady appeared again to Juan and asked him to gather some flowers at the top of the hill. This seemed to be a strange request as it came in December when flowers were not in season. However, Juan Diego did as he was instructed and went and located an array of Castilian roses. 

The lady with the request helped him arrange them in his cloak and he returned to the bishop with them as evidence. As he was with the bishop the flowers tumbled out and when the men looked they were able to view a life size image of Virgin Mary on the inside of the cloak. The image became known as Our Lady of Guadalupe. While the Roman Catholic church did not declare the event a miracle it did however change the culture of the western world. 

Communities in Mexico, Latin America and the Southwestern United States hold this image of the Virgin Mary as a very dynamic and powerful figure. The image appears every where and on everything. Buildings, sides of trucks, tattooed on individuals are all common places for the image. In addition it is a strong statement of both America's Christian right and Catholic gang members. 

It is believed thru the image the virgin offers protection, listens to believers sorrows and alleviates their pain. The image can help to precede faith of believers by interceding on behalf of those who ask her for blessings. Spanish Missionaries were able to tell the story of the Lady of Guadalupe to the Aztecs during the 16th century. Thru the story many Aztecs were converted in beliefs away from the many gods that were worshiped. 

Today, some see the Lady of Guadalupe less than a religious symbol an more of general cultural symbol. The Lady represents as the champion of the underdog. A win for the Indians and all those that lack power in society. Therefore the Lady of Guadalupe remains relevant in the world as long as there are those that suffer.

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Reindeer Chow #Recipe

9 cups Chex Cereal any variety will do
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup seasonal M&Ms

Pour cereal in a large mixing bowl. Next, prep a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, set aside.
Place chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter in a large microwave safe bowl.  Cook for 1 minute and stir. If it's not completely melted put it back in for up to 30 seconds more.  Once it's melted, add vanilla and mix.  Pour it over your Chex Cereal and mix with a spatula until well coated.
Take a large plastic Ziploc bag and place powdered sugar inside, then add chocolaty cereal.  Close and begin to shake it up so that all the squares are evenly covered with sugar.  Place the Reindeer Chow on the baking sheet and let it cool. Once you're ready to serve, add holiday M&MS or other season candy and chow down!!

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Red Velvet Cake Trifle

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce red food coloring (use 2 ounces if you desire a deeper red color)

1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) tub mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
sliced almonds- about 1 cup
shaved dark chocolate- about 4 ounces
mint leaves & fresh cranberries for garnish, optional

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13-inch pan generously with cooking spray; then dust lightly with flour.

2. Prepare cake: With an electric mixer, blend butter and sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Sift together flour and salt; set aside. Mix the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda and vinegar in a separate bowl. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the butter mixture. Mix well after each addition. In a small bowl, mix red food coloring and cocoa powder; add to the cake batter and mix just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. You don't really want the cake to be soft and super moist, so be sure to bake it until it tests done.

3. Prepare simple syrup: In a small saucepan, bring sugar, and water to boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar completely. Stir in vanilla. Let cool.

4. Cut the cake in half and cut one half into chunks; brush with cooled syrup. You likely won't need more than half of the cake for the trifle. Save the rest of the cake for another purpose.

5. Prepare whipped layer: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium and slowly pour in whipping cream. Continue beating until mixture resembles soft whipped cream.

6. Assemble the trifle: In the bottom of your trifle dish, arrange a single layer of red velvet cake chunks. Spoon about 1 1/2 cups of the whipped topping on top of the cake cubes. Next, sprinkle almonds and then shaved chocolate. Keep repeating layers until you run out of room in your dish. Garnish with mint leaves and fresh cranberries, if desired.

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Hunting Safety Tips

Hunting has always been popular. In the days gone by it was to help gather food for the winter months. Today, the goal of hunting has changed to make it more of a sport. Whether you hunt to fill the freezer , for the fun and sport of competition or a bit of both hunting can be very thrilling. However, if you are not educated with hunting safety tips it also has a potential to be dangerous.

There are a number of factors that may go into any hunting accident. A few of the most common include :

  • Unsure of what is located around or beyond the target can cause a serious accident. 
  • Not following regulations set up for safety. This may include aiming in unsafe directions, careless about crossing the fence or difficult terrain or any violation can cause severed injuries even death
  • One of the most common cause of hunting accident injuries is due to inexperience. 
  • Not inspecting the gun may lead to malfunction. If the gun jams or misfires it can lead to the gun not functioning properly. Gun knowledge is required for hunting. 

Hunting is a way of life but also a sport in its own right. Because of this hunters need to be fit. At time hunting may take one to the deep forest, snowy regions or desert area. If the hunter is not in shape it can lead to heart attacks due to the amount of weight that must be carried as well as long walks that may be included in the hunt. Moreover hunter safety includes the fitness of the hunter

Other Safety Tips you may want to follow include:
  • Staying hydrated helps keep dehydration away. It is very important to drink plenty of water. Avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs while hunting as this can lead to misjudgment. 
  • Wearing brightly colored clothing tht is specifically designed for hunter should be wore .This will help others be able to see you and not mistake you for game. 
  • Making sure your hunting equipment is well maintained Firearms should be carried in proper cases. 
  • Hunting with at least one other person should be an important practice. 
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Introducing Antarctica

Antarctica is the southernmost continent as well as the fifth largest. The South Pole is located in the Antarctic region. A

The Antarctica Treaty came into effect in 1961. The treaty was created as a combined effort of 12 countries that was interested in the continent. The countries that agreed Antarctica would be used for peaceful purposes only included

  • Argentina                    Australia 
  • Belgium                      Chile
  • France                          Japan
  • New Zealand                Norway
  • South Africa                 USSR
  • USA 

Antarctica is the home of the penguins with eight of the eighteen species of penguins in the world call the Antarctic and subantartic regions home. 

Antarctica is as dry as any dessert. Most desserts are sandy and hot but that does not define a dessert. A dessert is defined as a landscape that receives little precipitation. It does not rain or snow in Antarctica helping to define Antarctica as a polar desert. Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, highest and driest continent on Earth. The extreme temperatures stay cold enough constantly to freeze water. Thus making Antarctica a forest of ice sheets, glaciers and icebergs.

Only about 1 % of Antarctica is permanently ice free. The continent is primarily covered in ice with an average thickness of 1.6 km. This ice accounts for about 90% of the world's fresh water.

Unlike many other places on Earth there are no indigenous population. Scientists are stationed at research bases across the continent but no one has a permanent home in Antarctica. Summer months may see a population of four to five thousand residents during summer but that number decreases  to around 1000 residents during the harsher winter months. Summer months share continuous sunlight and winter will bring no sunlight at all. All though some scientists will stay in Antarctica for years.

The South Pole sits right in the middle of Antarctica. The longitude lines meet at this point and forces the area to be inclusive all time zones. There are no permanent residents in Antarctica with one of its two season having more residents than the other. Those that live and travel to the continent follow the time zones of their own countries.

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