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“Bringing in the May” and Spring Flowers

Definition: The first day of May which has always been strongly associated with flowers and frequently includes the giving of May Day Baskets.

Provenance: Celebration of May Day began as pagan festivals, celebrating spring and fertility. May 1 was one of the most important holidays of the year for the Druids of the British Isles; they believed that the day divided the year in half. When the Romans came to occupy the British Isles, they brought new traditions. Their early May was devoted to a 5-day celebration called Floralia in honor of Flora, the goddess of flowers. Ancient customs that still survive in various parts of the world include the dawn gathering of blossoms, flowers, and branches;  the decking of and dancing around a maypole; the crowning of the Queen of the May; the Morris Dance (men dancing together in animal costumes); the making of garlands; the hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of friends and neighbors; washing one’s face with May dew which supposedly has the power to maintain/restore beauty–according to American folklore, girls living in the Ozark Mountains believed that washing their faces with this dew would help them to find and marry the man of their choice.

may day baskets2

Image Credit: anoteoffriendship.blogspot.com

May Baskets are not only a celebration of spring but a celebration of giving. The basket filled with flowers–and sometimes other small gifts –is quietly, and supposedly secretly,  placed on someone’s doorstep or hung on his/her door knob. Especially popular among children and young adults.

1. How to Care for Cut Flowers:

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Image Credit: http://www.rosefloral.com

–Because they require a healthy environment, be sure that your container is free from the bacteria that can clog the stem, preventing circulation of water and nutrients. Scrub or rinse containers with mild solution of chlorox bleach before or after each use. Also give your flowers clean well-ventilated air, as smoke and other pollutants will shorten their lives.

–Flowers respond to the temperature of the water they are placed into.  Warm water encourages them to open/grow; and cool water slows their development, adding longevity.

–Always cut stems on an angle while under running water, exposing a larger surface. Use a sharp knife, as snipping stems with a scissors can pinch off the channels through which the water is conducted. When cutting tulips, removing all white portions of the stem will allow better fluid intake.

–Remove all foliage from stems which will be under water, as this will discourage bacteria from forming.

–Flower preservatives can prolong the life of your flowers. Most of them contain ingredients which keep the flowers’ energy level high (sugar), inhibit the growth of bacteria, and lower the Ph factor, enhancing water/nutrient uptake. Follow the instructions carefully.

–Many flower arrangers have their own “tried-and-true” methods of extending flower life. These range from bleach, sugar, crushed aspirin, pinch of salt and baking powder, soda, and copper pennies to various combinations.  Some claim that using hairspray on the blooms will extend their attractive lives.

–Take care when combining daffodils in a bouquet, as they exude a sap that clogs the stems of other flowers (especially tulips) that can cause the other flowers to wilt.  If you do include them, first soak them in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar for at least 12 hours to leach the harmful sap out of the stems.

–Keep flowers away from direct sunlight, drafts and heating/air conditioning vents; don’t set on top of TV; don’t place close to burning candles. They will enjoy being spray misted.

–Every 2 or 3 days give flower stems a fresh cut, clean out the container, and replace the water/solution to increase hydration.

–Remove flowers that wilt early from an arrangement because they give off ethylene gas (used in commercial ripening) which will cause the remainder of the flowers to wilt sooner.

–Mist full strength lemon juice on gardenias to prevent them from browning.

–When using tulips in an arrangement, dip tulips which have reached the openness you desire into beaten egg whites to prevent their opening any further.

2. Wholistic:

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Image Credit: www.nrgetics.com

–Health Benefits–The presence of flowers improves emotional health and helps to relieve stress. A team of researchers at Rutgers University explored the link between flowers and life satisfaction. The recently-published study showed that 1. Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness–a universal reaction; 2. Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods; 3. Flowers make intimate connections, their presence increasing contact with family and friends. The study also concluded that flowers are a symbol for sharing, especially the sharing of space.

3. Tips:

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Image Credit: howtopreserveflowers.com

–When working with gardenias or stephanotis, you can prevent browning by first wetting your hands so that the oil from your skin will not touch the petals.

–If you plan to eventually dry your flowers/arrangement, look for plants that are interesting in shape, texture, or color once dried. Choose plants that will retain their shape and not fall apart or disintegrate.

–If you have no commercial preservative, make your own by placing 1 teaspoon sugar and a few drops of chlorine bleach into the water.

–To straighten bent tulips, wrap the stems tightly in damp newspaper, secure with a rubber band, and stand in lukewarm water with light directly above them for a couple of hours.

–Because tulips continue to grow even after being cut, it is best to change water and cut stems daily.

4.Wacky Facts:

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Image Credit: caminhospagao.blogspot.com

–The Pilgrims of the New World observed May Day for awhile until Governor John Endicott (a Puritan) ordered all Maypoles burned down.

–May Day in England is a bank holiday; in France, it includes a procession for the Virgin Mary.

–May baskets can be made or constructed of almost anything–paper or plastic cups, oatmeal boxes, cartons, baskets, vases, pitchers, construction paper, grocery store berry baskets, flower pot, small pail, watering can…  Decorated paper cones used as flower containers are called tussie mussies.

–In 2010 Girl Scouts in West Bend, Wisconsin made May Day baskets containing fresh flowers for the surprised residents of local hospitals and nursing homes. It was such a success that they have continued each year.

–Leaving an anonymous May Day Basket is considered “a random act of kindness”.

HAPPY MAY DAY!

ECO-CONSCIOUS ENTERTAINING TIPS FOR EARTH DAY

Entertaining that is eco and socio-conscious as well as healthy  does not have to consist of brown invitations, brown napkins, brown bags, brown rice, and brown breads. It is possible to have a party which is green and glamorous–as well as multi-colored! And to be aware of what you are buying, using, doing and its impact on the environment and on others.

INVITATIONS AND DECORATIONS

Here are some wonderful ideas for your eco-conscious party.  Electronic invites are not only easy, but very environmentally friendly Arranged centerpieces of fresh or dried fruit or vegetables (edible), as well as flowerpots and small trees (reusable), make wonderful spring and summer decorations. Send these gifts home with guests or deliver to a hospital or nursing home Create entirely edible centerpieces, using (takeout) chopsticks skewered with fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses Use decorative cloth napkins–or bandanas. Tie them with bamboo, hemp, or raffia Large leaves can become place cards when written on with non-toxic ink Collect wine corks to use as place card holders; slit and insert paint chips or cardboard with guest’s name.

FOOD AND DRINK

Look for foods which are organic (regulated by USDA), biodynamic (sustainable, self-contained system, where everything on the farm is re-used or recycled), and/or sustainable (sustains rather than degrades the environment, and is economically viable).  If at all possible, THINK and BUY LOCALLY. Saves transportation costs, supports local economy, stays fresh longer, and tastes better. Local organic eggs and artisanal cheeses are widely available throughout the year For drinking, serve filtered ice water in pitchers rather than bottles; use organic teas and fair trade coffees; purchase local (if possible), organic wines and liquors. 50 states now produce their own wines. Look for beverages in recyclable glass bottles.  Prepare the meal around one main dish, which incorporates various fresh vegetables and/or fruits, such as gazpacho with various toppings. Prevent waste by purchasing and preparing food in appropriate quantities. Offer at least one dish for vegetarians, which is free of animal fats/products. Barbecue with grass-fed beef and sustainable seafood for better taste as well as greener event.

PARTY FAVORS

For a final eco-chic touch, send guests home with seed packets, bulbs, small potted plants or their own bandanas, soybean or beeswax candles. Homemade cookies, jams, small breads, vinegars, and pickles all lend a nice homey touch.

FUN IDEAS AND TIPS

Combine your party with a Spring Clean-up event for your neighborhood, local park, school or playground, nearby empty or parking lots, or with an exchange or tag sale to help your guests with their spring house and garage cleaning Organize a salt or honey tasting ,which also educates guests about the various ecological and taste choices available For a really special event, purchase and release butterflies indigenous to your area and beneficial to the environment Live music will save electricity, and using your iPod will provide music without lots of gear.  Use beeswax or soy candles and organic soaps in powder room/guest bathroom  Have your event during daylight hours to conserve power For green chic, try recycled cardboard made into everything from vases and bowls to tables and room dividers. Objects made by Liquid cardboard(tm) are 100% recycled and recyclable–even the glue is vegetable.

DON’T FORGET THAT EARTH DAY 2015  is Wednesday, April 22!

SPRING FLINGING

It’s a sport!

It’s a toy!

It’s a yo-yo!

Yes, it’s just a string and a spool! –A spherical spool attached to one’s finger with a cord that is looped around the grooved middle of the spool. When run up and down the cord with skillful throws and jerks, the spool takes positions and does tricks.

It’s been around since ancient Egypt and was played with by Greek youths in 500 B.C. There are reports that Napoleon and his army played with yo-yos just before the Battle of Waterloo. The yo-yo was very popular in the Philippines, and it was a Filipino American, Pedro Flores, who made the yo-yo popular in the United States and the rest of the world in the 1920’s. He sold his company to D.F. Duncan, Sr. who trade-marked the name “yo-yo” and set up his factory making wooden yo-yos in Luck, Wisconsin, which then became the “Yo-yo Capital of the World”.

Contemporary yo-yo culture, however, now includes innovative techniques, sophisticated technologies, large online communities, yo-yo collecting, and international competitions for individuals and teams. Most competitions consist of two parts—compulsory tricks and freestyle. Yo-yo enthusiasts are making efforts to include yo-yoing as an Olympic sport.

Major technological innovations since the 60’s include the automatic return and the ball-bearing yo-yo. Other innovations include the transaxles, free-spinning plastic sleeves, friction pads and O-rings, wide variety of shapes, and materials improvement. A number of yo-yo accessories are available as “after-market” modifications—players buy items, such as ceramic bearings, friction stickers, brake pads, or weight rings, separately from the yo-yo to augment performance over the original model shipped from the factory.

Today’s yo-yo manufacturers feature new materials from titanium to exotic woods; unique names such as Oxygene and Syzgy; and limited editions like “Ride the Void”. Recent innovations include an aluminum body, the auto-return clutch system, and a brake pad response system. China has become the top selling yo-yo market.

How to Select a Yo-Yo:

  • There is no single best yo-yo. Certain shapes and models are better suited to various tricks and to different styles of play, as well as different skill levels.

General Guidelines: Skill Level

  • For Beginner—Select standard fixed axle with a take-apart design (so one can more easily untangle knots) and an auto-return mechanism.
  • For Intermediate—Select transaxle yo-yo, as longer spin times make learning tricks easier.
  • For Advanced—Select ball-bearing yo-yo.

General Guidelines: By Style of Play/Tricks

  • Imperial or Standard—Best for looping, as having weight towards the center gives increased stability in the air.
  • Butterfly—Best for string tricks, as the wide gap makes it easier to catch the yo-yo on the string.
  • Modified—Good for both looping and string tricks, as the weight around the rims creates the extra circular inertia that causes the yo-yo to sleep long.
  • Off-string—this yo-yo requires two hands, as the string is not attached to the yo-yo. The Chinese Diablo is a giant version of this type.

Use:

  • Adjust string according to your height.
  • Find the correct string tension for each trick.
  • Basic yo-yo techniques include sleeping, looping, freehand, and off-string.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Do not overtighten a take-apart yo-yo.
  • New strings are safer and perform better. Replace string when it looks dirty, shows signs of wear, or feels stiff or hard.
  • Help maintain wooden axles by placing a small amount of wax on the last few inches of the axle end of the string.
  • Placing a couple of drops of light oil on a bearing yo-yo will help it to sleep and return better.

Wacky Facts:

  • The yo-yo is said to be the first toy to fly in outer space. In 1985 NASA sent a basic spinning yo-yo on the Space Shuttle Discover to see what effect microgravity would have on it. In 1992 the yo-yo again made its way into space on the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
  • The highest priced yo-yo, signed by Richard Nixon(!) and presented to country music singer and fiddler Roy Acuff at The Grand Ole Opry in 1974, was auctioned off for $16,029.00.
  • In 1968, activist Abbie Hoffman was cited for contempt of Congress for “walking the dog” (a yo-yo trick) during a session of the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities
  • Many yo-yo en

FOR THE IDES OF MARCH: CAESAR SALAD

DEFINITION

A classic Caesar Salad is made of romaine lettuce dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, egg (raw or lightly coddled), Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, parmesan cheese. This mixture is tossed in a wooden bowl, then sprinkled with croutons, adding texture.

PROVENANCE

The Caesar Salad is generally believed to have been invented in Tijuana, Mexico, on July 4,1924 by Cesar Cardine, an Italian immigrant and restaurateur. Originally, the leaves were arranged on a plate so that they could be eaten as finger food.

Greatly enjoyed by Mrs. Wallis Warfield Simpson (later the Duchess of Windsor), she helped to popularize it both in the United States and Europe. Julia Child , also a Caesar Salad enthusiast, has said she was served by Cesar Cardine himself when she was a child.

In 1956, three years before Cardine’s death, the master chefs of the International Society of Epicures in Paris proclaimed the Caesar Salad to be “The greatest recipe to originate from the Americas in 50 years”!

In the late 70’s Caesar Salad was discovered by the fast-food industry, resulting in an amazing increase in the production of romaine lettuce–from almost no production in the 70’s,  to the cultivation of more than 16,000 acres in the 90’s, to today’s growing of over 80,000 acres.  With his sister Rosa, Cardine produced Cardine’s Original Famous Caesar Dressing which is still available today.

HOW TO SELECT MAIN INGREDIENTS

  • Romaine Lettuce (sometimes called Cos Lettuce because it came from the Aegean Island of Cos)–Look for boldly colored, firm heads, heavy for their size and with tightly closed leaves. Select heads that have been cut close to the leaf stems. Avoid heads that are wilted and leaves that have brown edges, rust, or holes. Large white milky ribs and some leaf tips on outer leaves can be quite bitter.
  • Eggs–Purchasing eggs from cage-free, organically-certified and organically-fed chickens will help to assure quality and freshness while significantly reducing any potential of salmonella poisoning.
  • Croutons–For authenticity, prepare croutons from a loaf of rustic Italian bread.

HOW TO STORE MAIN INGREDIENTS

  • Romaine Lettuce–Rinse and dry the lettuce, place in plastic or special “greens” bag for refrigeration up to one week.
  • Eggs–Store eggs in coldest part of the refrigerator and never leave unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Throw out any eggs which have an odor or any cracks or breaks.
  • Croutons–Croutons will last about 1 week if stored in an airtight container on shelf or in refrigerator; up to 6 months if stored in a freezer in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. If croutons contain butter, store in refrigerator or freezer to avoid rancidity.

HOW TO USE

  • As an appetizer course, a salad course, an entree for lunch or dinner
  • Dressing sometimes includes pounded anchovies or anchovy garnish, garlic, Dijon mustard, blue cheese, and/or capers.
  • Salad variations include grilled chicken, bacon, meat, shellfish or fish.
  • Buon appetito!   Cin-cin!

WHOLISTIC  CONCERNS

  • Although the primary Caesar Salad ingredients are very healthful, questions remain about the safety of eating raw eggs. The major concern is contracting salmonellosis (from the salmonella bacteria), which can result from the improper preparation, handling, or refrigeration of infected eggs. It is uncommon and, in healthy people, it is usually a benign, self-limiting illness.
  • Raw eggs should not be used in any food prepared for pregnant women, young children, or those whose health/immune systems are compromised.

TIPS

  • There is a special tossing technique used at tableside which requires the tosser to skillfully break 2 eggs onto the romaine, then gently roll over and round the leaves.

WACKY FACTS

July 4 is National Caesar Salad  Day.

The Ides of each month was a standard way of saying the 15th of the month And the Ides of March was originally an especially  festive day, celebrating the God Mars. On this day In 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death, after having been forewarned by a seer on his way to the Senate. Subsequently The Ides of March has become a symbol of foreboding, as immortalized in Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar–“Beware, the Ides of March.”

According to the Guinness Records, in October 2007, Tijuana Mexico broke the world’s record for the largest  Caesar Salad, weighing  in at over 2 tons!

“Bewitched”  had an episode about Samantha’s  attempting to make a Caesar Salad and having to call on Julius Caesar for help.

http://www.thequlaipedia.com

International Business Protocol

By Dawn Bryan, best-selling author of “The Art and Etiquette of Gift Giving” and “Elite Etiquette”, and founder of Qualipedia ™

It is very easy to unwittingly offend your international business prospects. Many global marketing efforts and contract negotiations have been destroyed by the unintentional blunder.

Being too late or too early for an appointment, using the wrong form of address, improperly receiving a  business card, shaking hands, bringing wine to a home dinner, insulting with your choice of business gift, using a “hard sell”,  or even eating everything on your plate could ruin your negotiation…and reputation. Americans most often make mistakes with meeting/greeting rituals; eating/dining; giving/receiving;   and not recognizing significant taboos. And, when setting up or responding to a meeting request, remember that many Europeans and South Americans write the day first, then the month, then the year when using numbers.

Meeting/Greeting Rituals
Although handshakes are standard greeting gestures among Europeans, the gesture is generally more formal and more firm—except for the lighter touch of the French. Usually those of higher rank and women are expected to extend their hand first. Asians will often greet you with a gentle handshake; however, the bow is more traditional and more respected. Learning how to bow, including depth, eye contact, etc. is very important. Some South Americans can be effusive and take a long time to greet, believing that this conveys respect for the other person.  In many cultures, it is good manners to shake hands with everyone in a group/room upon arrival as well as departure.  Many European and South American women kiss each other on alternating cheeks. In Brazil, a third kiss between women bestows “good luck” in finding a spouse!

Be sure to use the proper form of address when meeting—or greeting: there are many different customs. For example, Europeans rarely use first names until they know the person well; unlike the United States, titles, especially academic titles, are always used.  Asian names are usually listed in a different order from Western names. In Japan, use last names plus San meaning “Ms.” or “Mr.” The Chinese are very sensitive regarding status and always use official titles, such as “Committee Member”. Titles are also important in some Central/South American countries: in Panama the title Licenciado is used for anyone with a bachelor’s degree. In Norway, lawyers and clergymen do not use titles, although government officials do.

Learn the business card protocol for each culture. Your card should have the other person’s language printed on the back and that side should be presented to her/him. The presentation itself is important, particularly in Asian cultures where it is given with a proper bow. Do not just quickly stuff someone’s card into your pocket or bag. Always treat another’s card with respect, taking the time to read and appreciate it. When you meet with several people, be sure to give your card to each person lest you slight someone.

Eating/Dining
Whether you are a host or a guest, you should be familiar with the local food, drink, punctuality expectations (local time), when and how to conduct business, and appropriate seating. In some cultures, guests are expected to arrive late—don’t be offended at your Spanish associate’s late arrival. In others (Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden), tardiness is considered very rude. In Italy, the more important the person, the later he/she may arrive to a business meeting. Europeans are generally not fond of business breakfasts.

Learn when and how to correctly order and eat difficult or new foods. If possible, practice eating in the style of the other person—European, American, chopsticks.

Giving/Receiving
In some countries, such as Norway, gift-giving is simply not a part of doing business, whereas in many other cultures (Japan) it is an integral part of the process of learning about the other person. In China a banquet is an acceptable business gift.

Some business gifts are not presented until negotiations have been completed (Latin America), others at the beginning (Korea).Some countries (Australia) have very strict quarantine laws regarding even wood products and many foods.

To avoid looking cheap, do not give logo gifts unless they are of excellent quality and the logo is subtle.

If bringing flowers to someone’s home, be certain that the color, number, or actual type of flower is not offensive: in many countries certain flowers and colors signify death.

Taboos
Do not be impatient when dealing with cultures such as Saudi and Russia. Russians prize patience as a virtue and some regard compromise as a sign of weakness.

It is usually inappropriate for a foreign business woman to invite her male counterpart to a business dinner unless other associates or spouses attend.

Do not dress casually for a business meeting, and, if a woman, probably best to wear a skirt.

Never say “no” to the Japanese and understand their aversion to the word. (This maintains harmony and saves face.)

Arab World – Do not give or present anything with your left hand; give an alcoholic beverage or bar gift; or show the sole of your shoe.

If you would like to hear more about international business protocol, please tune in to Success Express at Big Blend Radio and my recent interview:  http://www.bigblendradio.com/April-18-2014.html

CHOOSING CHOCOLATE

Called “food of the gods” by the Aztecs, the best quality chocolate is made of the highest quality beans and ingredients, with no fillers, waxes or additives. It can be expensive, but one taste will prove its worth to you.

Choose, according to taste:

  • Dark Chocolate can contain from 62 to 85 percent cocoa paste (pure pulverized cocoa beans). Chocolate labeled “bittersweet” contains about 35 % and “semi-sweet” about 15%. Bittersweet and semi-sweet are often used interchangeably in cooking. The term “dark chocolate” describes any sweetened chocolate that does not contain mild solids.
  • Milk Chocolate contains either condensed or dry milk as well as 30–40 percent cocoa. Typically much sweeter than dark chocolate, less than 30 percent cocoa may mean that the chocolate is too sweet.
  • White Chocolate contains a blend of milk, cocoa butter (fat), sugar and sometimes flavorings like vanilla. It contains no cocoa solids and does not taste like chocolate, as it gets its name from the cocoa butter it contains. Beware: the cheaper varieties will have most or all of the cocoa butter replaced by vegetable fats.

How do you recognize good chocolate?

As with most good things, the more senses that your chocolate appeals to, the better…

By Appearance: Smooth texture, evenly colored; no air pockets or cracks, surface should not be dull or have streaks or dots (chocolate bloom or fat bloom). This occurs when chocolate has been stored in too humid or too warm temperatures.

By Aroma: Sweetly fragrant while being unwrapped; Lack of smell may indicate a lack of flavor. You may detect also vanilla, berry, caramel or roasted nuts. Burnt, musty, or chemical smalls are not acceptable.

By Touch: Should feel silky, not sticky; As it is the only food that melts at body heat, it should just begin to yield to the warmth of your finger; it should snap cleanly, not crumble.

By Mouth Feel and Texture: Most of our taste buds are on the front of the tongue, so the taste explosion should begin immediately;  It should be smooth and buttery, gently dissolving into a creamy liquid; If waxy, it may indicate that the cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat;  Should not feel grainy or gluey.

By Flavor: Quality chocolate will be bittersweet, fruity and spicy with a good balance of acidity. The flavor should linger for several minutes with a clean aftertaste. It should not be overpoweringly sweet

How Do I Store Chocolate?

All chocolate should be well wrapped and stored in a cool (60-70degrees F.) dry place with good air circulation and odor-free environment. Keep away from direct heat and sunlight. White and milk chocolate can only be stored for about 10 months because of the milk solids they contain. Never store chocolate in plastic wrap–it gives the chocolate an unpleasant taste.  It should always be consumed at room temperature.

Podcast: Cracking the Code on Elite Etiquette – Jennings Wire

Please enjoy a recent podcast interview with Dawn Bryan and Annie Jennings of Jennings Wire on proper etiquette.

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Highlights from the conversation include:

  • How would you define “etiquette” for the 21st Century? What is Elite Etiquette?
  • What are some of the unspoken, unwritten rules, customs and traditions? When do they apply?
  • What if you make an embarrassing protocol mistake in your business communications?
  • In new experiences, what do most people worry about doing wrong?
  • Why do some businesses ask to have a MEAL with a job candidate before making an offer?
  • What does the gift you give say about you? How is it a reflection of who you are as a person?
  • Why is it important in this rapidly changing, social media world to learn about etiquette and protocol?

Listen to the full podcast HERE

Full article HERE

 

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