Monday, October 9, 2017

Columbus Day and My Sister


Source: Pixabay
What do Christopher Columbus and my Sister Sandy have in Common?

In the history books, the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus occurred on October 12, 1492.


In our family, October 12th is more commonly known as my sister's birthday!


When I was a young school girl, we were taught all about Columbus discovering America and memorized an easy rhyme to remember the date:




Nautical Santa Maria Tall Model Ship



“In Fourteen Hundred Ninety Two  
Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue!”

Columbus Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937. It didn't become one of today's 'Monday Holidays' until 1970, so before then it was always observed on October 12th instead of the 2nd Monday in October regardless of what day it falls on.


Monday holidays are days off for banks and the post office and other assorted places. I don't know if most schools today consider Columbus Day a holiday from school, but they did in New York State when we were in school back in the 1950s.




My sister Sandy
When my sister was a small girl, she thought we got Columbus Day off from school because it was her Birthday! We in the family perpetuated this 'myth' until Sandy was probably in the 4th or 5th grade! 

We weren't about to tell her everyone got to have a school holiday for a reason other than her having a birthday. :)





Happy Birthday, Sandy!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Gingerbread House Day ~ A Fun Holiday

Gingerbread House - Source: Wikimedia
December 12th is known as Gingerbread House Day. This unofficial holiday has no known source, but has become a fun day to celebrate.

National Gingerbread House Day is a day set aside for creating a gingerbread house.  Parents and children can have a family activity making a gingerbread house. Or you could bake a large gingerbread house and have a party where the invited guests help to decorate it with icing and candies. The best part is this 'sweet treat' can then be eaten.



Hansel & Gretel


Remember the Grimm Fairy Tale "Hansel & Gretel"? It was published by the Brothers Grimm in Germany in 1812.  The house in the story is a cottage built of bread and cakes, with windowpanes of sugar.  The old lady the children meet is really a 'witch' who built her house of dainties to lure children to her so she could cook and eat them.  That sweet house in the story became the basis of the Gingerbread House popular today. 



What is Gingerbread?

Source: Pixabay

Gingerbread originally meant 'preserved ginger', but today it refers to a confection made up of honey or molasses flavored with ginger and other spices. 

There are other favorite gingerbread desserts in the form of cakes and cookies and the fun gingerbread man.  


 

Gingerbread Holidays


Gingerbread has become such a popular taste treat that it has generated special days throughout the year.  


  • June 5 is now known as National Gingerbread Day, a day created to bring attention to the gingerbread.
  • November 21st is National Gingerbread Cookie Day.  There are ginger snaps and regular gingerbread cookies which can be cut into shapes like Christmas cookies with cookie cutters, including the cutest of all, the gingerbread man or gingerbread boy cookie. 
  • And the holiday we are now celebrating on December 12  - National Gingerbread House Day.


Plush Gingerbread Boy Cookie Doll

Gingerbread Cookie Doll in Crochet
I even created a Gingerbread Boy Cookie Doll in crochet! 

He's handmade using tan acrylic yarn with white yarn 'frosting' around hands and feet. Gingerbread boy features include plastic safety eyes and embroidered mouth. He has two red crocheted buttons down the front. 

Gingerbread boy cookie doll is filled with soft new polyester fiberfill and there is a white yarn bow around his neck. 

Gingerbread cookie doll measures 8 inches tall. He's a sweet gift for Christmas or for any occasion.


Playtime Gingerbread House


Mini Lego Gingerbread House
If you don't have the time to bake a gingerbread house yourself, your children can enjoy building their own gingerbread house out of Legos with this fun set. 

This is a mini set with 54 pieces which measures 2" x 3" x 3" when completed. 

There are also larger Lego gingerbread houses available on Amazon.


Gingerbread House Festivals

Gingerbread House Festival
Gingerbread Houses have generated Gingerbread House Festivals around the country during the Christmas holidays.  I attended one such charming festival in Savannah, Georgia.



Happy Gingerbread House Day


So, enjoy your gingerbread in any form, especially as a gingerbread house on National Gingerbread House Day



(c) 12/3/2016 - Wednesday Elf
 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Thanksgiving Themes

Thanksgiving Dinner from Kitchen to Table

Source: Pixabay
Whether decorating for Thanksgiving Day, preparing the meal, or needing a special host/hostess gift, here are a few ideas with fun Thanksgiving Themes to save you time and tension while preparing for the holiday.



"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" 

                              ---Erma Bombeck



Welcome

 



Welcome your Thanksgiving Dinner guests before they even ring the doorbell with this holiday mat in a Harvest Theme.



  Thanksgiving Dinner


First, Find Your Favorite Recipes!


Source: Pixabay
Any special dinner, especially Thanksgiving, begins with gathering together your favorite recipes. A cookbook devoted just to the 'turkey & trimmings' is particularly helpful. Or you could put together your own holiday cookbook with the recipes you've used & loved from past Thanksgivings.
 
Recipes remembered from the past, like grandma's best pumpkin pie recipe or mom's most used stuffing recipe are important ingredients to enjoying your family's traditional dishes.

Available on Amazon
This 68-page Thanksgiving Cookbook is available in paperback or on Kindle and is filled with both classic holiday recipes and some new unconventional ones to try. 

It includes the traditional ones we all expect for a Thanksgiving Day dinner, plus some brand new food creations that might surprise ~ and delight ~ your dinner guests.




"It took me three weeks to stuff the turkey. I stuffed it through the beak." 

                                              ---Phyllis Diller



Get out the Turkey Roaster...

 

From simple to fancy to a turkey fryer, turkey roasters come in many sizes. I use a small one now, unless the family gathers once again! Stuff the 'bird', put it in your roaster pan, and let the appetizing aromas begin to drift through the house...





"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread and pumpkin pie." 

                                                     ---Jim Davis



The Rest of the Meal

 

Source: Wikimedia Commons
If you're having the traditional Roast Turkey for your Thanksgiving Dinner, you're probably adding other family favorites. Ours were turkey stuffing, of course, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, a vegetable, and dinner rolls




This beautiful 'turkey' plate features a design of a plump American turkey and is perfect for serving the Thanksgiving turkey dinner and for any holiday, fall or winter table.  This beautiful dinner plate is made of earthenware in England by Spode, a company that is well known for quality dinnerware.



Traditional Thanksgiving Dessert - Pumpkin Pie

 

Source: Pixabay

It seems as though pumpkin pie is the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner dessert, but mincemeat pie and pecan pie are also favorite choices. Many other kinds of desserts fit in with this holiday dinner too. What you serve probably depends on where you live and what your family tradition has been. For instance, my friend Sylvestermouse shares a favorite family recipe for pumpkin chiffon pie that she grew up with and uses to this day.





"Thanksgiving Dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-times take 12 minutes. This is not a coincidence."

                                ~Erma Bombeck




After Dinner Cleanup

 

Pumpkin Cotton Dishcloth

Stay in the holiday mood right through the dish washing by using a practical cotton dishcloth in a fun 'pumpkin' color and shape. Hand-crocheted of 100% cotton yarn.


Pumpkin Shaped Potholder

Pumpkin washcloth/dish cloth is found in the Etsy Shop of Coastal Crochet Crafts. It also comes with a matching 'pumpkin-shaped' potholder - perfect kitchen helpers for your holiday meal preparations.


Invited out for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Need a Hostess Gift?

Handmade Turkey-Design Beverage Coasters
This set of four (4) beverage coasters with a design of a turkey is perfect for Thanksgiving and lovely to give as a hostess gift when invited out for Thanksgiving dinner.

The design is created on plastic canvas using acrylic yarn in harvest colors. The turkey design is done in tans and browns with a touch of orange for the beak and legs. Turkey sits on a pretty yellow background. This handmade coaster set is available on Etsy at Coastal Crochet Crafts.




"You can tell you ate too much for Thanksgiving when you have to let your bathrobe out." 

                                                     ----Jay Leno



Have a Happy Thanksgiving!




Related Article:  Our Thanksgiving Memories


(c)  Originally published 11/3/2009.  Updated 11/20/2017


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Honoring my Dad on Veterans Day

My Dad in the U.S. Navy in 1944
In the United States, Veterans Day has been observed on November 11 each year since the end of World War I.  Originally known as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of hostilities in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, it officially became known as Veterans Day in 1954 when President Eisenhower established this day as a National Holiday. 

As we honor … and remember … all who served in the U.S. Military this Veterans Day, I am remembering my dad and his time in the U.S. Navy.


Joining the Service



My Family - Christmas 1943

By the time the United States entered World War II, my dad was already married and father to two children.  He was working for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, NY doing war work and thus was exempt from the draft.  But by late 1944 his brother and 2 of his brothers-in-law were all serving in various branches of the military and he couldn't stand not being a part of the fight for his country.  So one day he simply went downtown and joined the Navy ~ then went home and told my mother!


Basic Training and Beyond


Navy PBY Flying Boat



Dad was sent to basic training in Jacksonville, Florida and later transferred to the Naval Air Station in Hutchinson, Kansas where he was assigned as crew chief and rear turret gunner aboard the Navy's PBYs (Patrol Bomber), training in air-sea search & rescue work. These U.S. Navy PBY Catalina Units were also used as submarine hunters throughout the Pacific during World War II.


My mother, my brother & I were able to join dad after his basic training in Florida, and later be with him in Kansas.  The war ended before dad ever made it overseas, but he was so proud to be in the Navy and part of the war effort.



Favorite Memory

 

Me and my Dad

I have a  favorite memory of a conversation dad & I had many years ago when we were talking about that time of his life.  It went like this:
“Dad, you were in the Navy, right?”

“Right”

“And you worked on airplanes, right?”

“Right”

“And you were stationed in Kansas, right?”

“Right”

“And you were in the NAVY?”

Kansas may be a long way from the ocean, but the Navy wasn't confused. Eastern Kansas was perfect because it was mostly rural with lots of land available in the 1940s, with fairly flat terrain. It also had lots of blue skies and was away from the coast lines for security reasons.  During World War II, the Navy built air stations here to train cadet pilots.

Wartime at Home

World War II In-Service Flag

I heard family stories about that final year of World War II when my grandmother had 3 Stars in her front window, signifying that she had 3 family members serving in the military.  My dad represented one of those stars.




Veterans Day


I'm proud of my dad and all the members of my family who served in the military.  I wish to honor my dad, my family members and all the men & women who have served and are currently serving our country this Veterans Day and every day.



Images:

*Intro image is of my dad in his Navy uniform in 1944.  He was SO young looking!
*Other family images are from my family albums.
*PBY Flying Boat image is found on Wikipedia Commons and is part of the Public Domain.
*World War II In-Service Flag/Banner is part of the Public Domain



(c) Article by Wednesday Elf originally published 11/5/2013.  Updated 11/8/2017

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

National Blueberry Month

Blueberries - Source: Pixabay

July is officially known as National Blueberry Month!

The North American Blueberry Council (NABC) spent decades petitioning to have the month of July declared National Blueberry Month and in 2003 this came about through the the United States Department of Agriculture.  

Canada also made a Royal Proclamation for Blueberry Month in August!

Blueberries, a perennial flowering plant with indigo-colored berries, are often thought to be synonymous with Summertime.  So it seems appropriate for July (a true mid-summer month) to be the month chosen for Blueberry month.

While blueberries are grown in many places around the world, the state of Washington is our nation's largest producer of blueberries!

Blueberries as Food ~ 

 

Blueberries for breakfast taste great in blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and as smoothies.

Blueberries in fruit salad can't be beat. And, of course, keep a bowl of fresh berries washed and chilled in the fridge for a quick, yummy snack.

Blueberries are delicious eaten as a fresh fruit or cooked and/or baked into muffins, pie, cheesecake, pancakes, and cobbler.

A quick search online produces more blueberry recipes than you can possibly try before the end of blueberry season ~ but it would sure be fun trying. Check out some links from this Google search page.


Blueberry Desserts! 


Blueberry-Strawberry Cheesecake Icebox Cake

Also, blueberries make the BEST desserts. 

Sylvestermouse features a fabulous blueberry-strawberry cheesecake icebox cake recipe from the Life, Love and Sugar blog on her Fun Food Guiide.








Blueberries as Crafts


After you have enjoyed eating blueberries in your favorite way, put down that blueberry muffin for a bit and visit some clever Blueberry crafts on the blog post Beautiful Blueberry Handicrafts. Crafters love the color of blueberries for handmade creations.


Plastic Comb Berry-Picker

 

Available on Amazon
In past times, blueberries were traditionally hand-picked with berry-picking rakes. Today, modern farmers use machine harvesters that shake the fruit off the bush of cultivated highbush blueberries.

But for U-pick/pick-your-own farms,  and your own backyard blueberry bushes, a berry-picking rake is the perfect solution.

This clever device has wire or plastic combs for combing off the berries. It makes berry picking for both blueberries and huckleberries effortless without damaging plants or being injured from thorns.


Happy National Blueberry Month!



Whether growing and gathering the blueberry fruit, eating delicious blueberries, or creating blueberry crafts, July is a great time to begin or continue your blueberry infatuation!


Monday, June 6, 2016

June 16 is National Fudge Day

Fudge Candy

Chocolate fudge candy is an American original, thought to have first been introduced in the late 1800s.  The story of the recipe was found in a letter written by Emelyn Battersby Hartridge, a Vassar College student, who wrote about a candy recipe she received from a schoolmate's cousin in Baltimore. Emerlyn, along with a group of Vassar girls, used the recipe to make the fudge to sell at the  Vassar College Senior Auction. It was popular there for many years.  

Later, shopkeepers on Mackinac Island in Michigan made their version of fudge for summer visitors and it is still produced in some of the original shops on Mackinac Island to this day.


What is Fudge?


Fudge is a soft candy.  Most fudge is prepared with sugar, butter, milk and your favorite flavor (such as chocolate... yum). Some recipes use water instead of milk or cream and some types of fudge are made using white corn syrup.


My Favorite Fudge Recipe

 

Scanned page from my Candy Cookbook
My favorite fudge recipe is called Fudge Drops Supreme.  It comes from a 1958 publication by the editors of Good Housekeeping Magazine.  As a young cook, I collected the series of cook 'booklets' that were published then, each on a different food group. From the 'Candy Booklet' came the fudge recipe I've used exclusively for my fudge-making, as I love it best of all fudge I've had. I ALWAYS make this recipe at Christmastime and often use it for gifts to friends and family who (also) love fudge best of all candies. I think it's the 'cocoa' and 'butter' that makes it taste so good!

Source: Amazon

Fudge Drops Supreme

(Makes 3-1/2 dozen)


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup butter (or margarine, but I think butter tastes best)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped toasted almonds (or nut of your choice - I like walnuts best in my fudge)


Instructions:

 

In 2-qt. saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and water.  Over low heat, bring mixture to boil, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.  If using candy thermometer, set in place.  Add the butter; cook to 234 degrees F, or until a little mixture in cold water forms soft ball.  Remove from heat; cool to 130 degrees F, or until outside of saucepan feels lukewarm to hand.  Add vanilla extract and nuts.  Beat until creamy.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.  

*Author Note:  Actually, I don't make this fudge recipe into 'drops'. Instead, I pour the finished fudge into a square 8 x 8 inch pan and cut it up as most fudge recipes are done.  Takes less time than the 'drop' method .... and tastes just as good! But the 'drops' are fun for kids to help with.

 

Kinds of Fudge

 

Chocolate fudge has become a favorite, but there are other types too, depending upon what flavoring you add to the recipe.  There's chocolate chip fudge, marshmallow fluff fudge, fudge with fruit such as cranberries or orange, nutty fudge, peppermint fudge, butterscotch fudge and many, many more. You could add just about any flavoring you desire to a basic fudge recipe.


Cynthia Sylvestermouse shares her mom's favorite fudge recipe - Peanut Butter Fudge.

 

More Candy Days

 

There are several other Fudge Days, such as Nutty Fudge Day on May 12 and Peanut Butter Fudge Day on November 20. There are also many chocolate candy and other candy days throughout the year.  Read a fun list of candy days you can celebrate at June is National Candy Month.

 

Fudge Day


Celebrate Fudge Day on June 16 - and anytime you wish all year long - with a piece (or a pound) of this delicious confectionery, a popular favorite among candy lovers.

(c) Wednesday Elf - June 2016

Friday, June 3, 2016

National Fish & Chips Day

June 3 is "Fish & Chips" Day

 

The history of this holiday comes from Great Britain.  In the late 1800s, trawl fishing became a major part of the industry in the North Sea, making fresh fish available all over, including inland and within the cities. It became known as a meal of the working class, because being 'easily available' meant 'cheaper'.  And being a high caloric meal meant it was filling for the  workers who held physically demanding jobs.

Today fish & chips is popular all over, including in Canada where it is frequently sold from ‘Chip Wagons’, and throughout the USA.


Fish & Chips …. without Chips?

 

Source: Pixabay
I recently went out to lunch with a friend. I ordered fish & chips and the waitress rattled off a long list of 'sides' of which I heard almost none (she talked too fast and not understandably so). Therefore, I just said 'cole slaw', which was the only word I actually heard and a dish I enjoy with fish.

When my order came, the plate had fish and cole slaw and NO french fries (chips). I said 'where's the 'chips' and she said, well that was included in your choice of a 'side' and you said 'cole slaw'.  What?! Wouldn't you assume that if you ordered a menu item that stated 'fish & chips', you'd get the french fries with it and the cole slaw would be the side?

The waitress ended up bringing me a plate of 'free' french fries for the misunderstanding, but I think she entirely missed the point. One doesn't order 'fish & chips' and get only 'fish'. Huh! :-)


Celebrate Fish and Chip Day


So, as you can see, a good way to celebrate this day is naturally by having a platter of fish & chips - order some up from your favorite restaurant (or 'Chipper' in England) or make it yourself at home. Serve with some tarter sauce (popular in America) or with a bit of mayonnaise (in Canada). 





Available on Amazon
After enjoying your dinner, finish up your evening with your children by viewing  this cute animated movie called (what else) Fish & ChipsAn adventure of young fish "fish" and his nemesis "Chips" a cat. The two tear across land and sea and face off for the love of the same catfish and bones of fish's ancestor.  Their hilarious adventures are sure to have both children and adults laughing. 

 (c) Wednesday Elf