•Basketball was born on December 1, 1891, in Springfield, Massachusetts. After hanging two half-bushel peach baskets at opposite ends of a gymnasium and listing 13 rules (most of which still apply today), YMCA instructor James Naismith (a Canadian!), created a non-contact team sport with a lot of running, shooting and jumping.
•Get candles to last longer by keeping them in the regrigerator (not freezer), wrapped in foil or plastic. This prevents the wicks from absorbing moisture and they will burn longer.
•The first wick candles were used by the Romans, who used tallow and beeswax as their candle fuel. The ancient Chinese made beeswax candles, and they and the Japanese also made wick candles out of insect bodies and seeds.
•Soy candles create less soot than paraffin candles. Also scented candles create more soot than unscented ones.
•The classic caesar salad cotains 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.
•Caviar has a high amount of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which increases tolerance to alcohol, thus supposedly decreasing a hangover.
•Cashmere is naturally a light color, with white being the most valuable because it takes less color to dye it. As dye changes the feel of a fabric, a garment requiring more dye will often be less soft than lightly colored materials.
•Always store champagne in a dark place! Light is an enemy of wine. Also, keep it away from vibrations, such as those from washing machines or refrigerators. Ideal storing temperature is between 53–59 degrees.
•Sparkling wine started being produced in the early 1500s by Benedictine monks around Carcassone in France. From there, the process for creating sparkling wine would evolve for several centuries. Dom Perignon was a part of that evolution, but he certainly did not start it all.
→Whacky Fact: Dom Perignon, originally frustrated with the bubbles in his wine, called it “mad wine”.
→Whacky Fact: In the Middle Ages, persons who drank too much alcohol, passing out, would often remain in a comatose state for day–probably due to the combination of excess alcohol and lead poisoning from pewter tankards. People would watch the victim for several days, hoping the person would awaken, which they sometimes did. Hence our tradition of the “wake.”
•A raw chestnut that is fresh will not float, and it is NOT soft to the touch.
•The chestnut’s burr (covering) is so protective that chestnuts in the area affected by the Chernobyl disaster remained free from contamination!
•The modern tradition is most closely linked to the Germanic custom of decorating “paradise trees” for the Feast of Adam and Eve on December 24th. Germans brought the first Christmas trees to America in the 1700s, but they didn’t catch on until the 1850s, when President Franklin Pierce had the first White House Christmas tree.
•The word “chocolate” most likely comes from a combination of Mayan and Aztec words, indicating its origin as a drink from Mexico, Central and South America.
•There are many classifications of corkscrews. A very detailed and helpful database called SCReW (the standard corkscrew reference work) has been developed to assist corkscrew collectors in classifying the wide world of corkscrews. http://www.corkscrewnet.com/WorkingWithCS/Classification/UsingSCCSPart2.htm
•High quality crystal will be clear/translucent and have a nice sparkle. Other things to look for include smooth, precise cuts and edges, uniform shape, thin walls and a crisp ring when you tap the rim.
•Do not put crystal in the dishwasher. The heat and abrasive detergents are not good for it.
•When an acidic drink (juice, wine, soda) remains in a crystal glass, lead leaching occurs.
•Fool is a classic British dessert, which dates to the early sixteenth century, and takes its name from the French verb “fouler”, meaning “to press” or “to crush”. It originated as stewed fruit mixed with custard.
•When caring for ice skates, always put the blade guards on when walking off the ice. After arriving home, wipe blades down to dry them, letting them warm up at room temp (gradually, not near a heat source). Do not store those new skates with the guards — they can trap moisture and cause rust. Blade soakers can be purchased to aid in drying the blades.
→WHacky Fact: Ice skating has a patron saint–St. Lidwina!
•Linen is stronger than cotton, crisp, hand-washable, and stains remove relatively easily. Linen does, however, need ironing. No “hairs” should be sticking out if it’s good linen.
•Ancient Romans used linen table coverings. European aristocracy used them in the twelfth century; and in the Middle Ages people began using napkins instead of tablecloth edges to wipe their hands and mouths. Usage became common practice in the 18th century.
•Cave drawings in Norway reveal skiing existed as long as 5,000 years ago. In the 1700’s, cross-country skiing evolved into a sport in the Telemark area of Norway. The rest of Europe became interested in the sport in the 1800’s, and the first competitions were held mid-century.
•To care for a new sled, wax the runners with ski wax (check with the manufacturer to make sure this is advisable for your particular sled) will improve performance. Metal runners may rust. Remove the rust with steel wool and a chemical rust remover if that’s not enough. Wood sleds may benefit from being oiled–check with the manufacturer.
•In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt went bear hunting. His companions shot and killed several bears, “Teddy” did not,in fact Teddy refused. A Washington Post cartoonist illustrated the President with his bear on a tether, to which a Brooklyn couple responded by making and selling a stuffed toy bear they named “Teddy’s bear”.
•The basic umbrella was invented over 4000 years ago and used in Egypt, Greece and China, designed to provide protection from sun and heat and is now usually referred to as a parasol.
•Crushed velvet is created by twisting the velvet cloth when it is wet to get that crinkly look and feel.
•Velvet should be dry cleaned, but it can be steamed, carefully, with the use of a velvet board, which prevents the steamer from crushing the pile. Store it in such a way that creases will not form as creases and folds in the fabric will flatten the pile, or cause it to become lumpy.
•Velour may have a feel similar to velvet, but it is knit, not woven,
and it is stretchy. Take care when reading European materials and
websites, as “velour” in French often refers to true woven velvet.
•To tell if your watermelon is ripe, position the melon two inches from your ear, thump or tap it with your free hand. If not ripe enough, it will sound solid; if too ripe, it will sound thick; if perfect, it will resonate as hollow.
•Soap and a scouring Pad are a wok’s worst enemies
•The yo-yo is believed to have originated in China, but the first historical mention was a 500 B.C. vase painting of a Greek youth playing with a yo-yo.