Monday, December 09, 2013
Holiday greens hold many meanings, perfect for season of hope
By Margaret Realy
If you celebrate Christmas then you have had Christmas trees, wreaths or garlands in your home at some time in your life. Beyond the Yuletide festivities, evergreens also have symbolic meaning. Collectively, evergreens for early Christians symbolized everlasting life because their boughs stay green all year.
A wreath, being a circle, has no beginning or end and symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. The wreath when decorated with evergreens, which are symbolic of life itself, points to God’s gift of life even when the world is dark.
Many kinds of evergreens are used when we make or buy wreaths, swags and garlands. Each type of evergreen has its own symbolic meaning.
The most commonly used evergreen for wreaths is balsam, which has the symbolic meaning of eager anticipation. Also frequently used in garlands as well as wreaths and swags are fir boughs symbolizing a lifting up, and pine which holds the meaning of eternal life. Spruce boughs represent hope in adversity.
Cedar is one of the more fragrant and longer lasting evergreens and indicates incorruptibility and healing, and so it is associated with eternal life through Christ.
Juniper symbolizes protection, and that they do well. If you’ve ever had to trim juniper branches you know how prickly and harsh they can be; a great shrub to plant under windows to ward off intruders.
Holly carries a few different symbolisms. In the “language of flowers,” it means to foresee, as in to understand in such a way as to predict, to prophesy. Holly is used as a reminder of where Jesus’ birth and life will lead; its prickly leaves are reminiscent of the crown of thorns and the red berries of the blood he shed upon the cross.
There are other non-evergreen plants often used in Christmas decor. Bay laurel symbolizes a just reward, a victory over death. The delicate white-berry mistletoe is said to represent overcoming difficulties. And the ivy holds one of the dearest images; that of clinging to God. It also symbolizes protection, joy and fidelity.
The herb rosemary carries legends as well as a symbolic meaning. Rosemary was common in Mary’s time and it is said that not only were its fragrant branches laid with the straw of the manger, but that Mary would also lay the freshly washed clothes of the infant Jesus on rosemary bushes to dry. The fragrance of this herb symbolizes remembrances, calling to mind the life of Jesus from the nativity manger to the empty tomb.
So now, when you look at the shape of that decorated tree, the wreath on the door or the evergreen arrangement on your table, you know they say more to you and your guests than Merry Christmas.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Can you believe how the month is going by so fast...Just 21 days left to shop before Xmas...I decided on the smaller stores to browse in..like Marshalls or Target which is my favorite..I am back on the veggie plan. I failed miserably when it came to adding breads or carbs if you will. I've begun to add a twist of lemon to my water for a snappier taste. Leslie is my niche at this time for a new mix to my exercise goals.
Thought you might enjoy listening to some holiday music which plays on without joining.
Smiles to add for the holiday season:
Amusing warning signs.....
At a Music Store in Nottingham, UK : Out to lunch. Bach at 12:30. Offenbach sooner.
In a dry cleaner's shop in Portsea, Portsmouth, UK: Drop your trousers here.
In a department store in Vancouver, Canada: Bargain Basement Upstairs.
In a restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia, USA: Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.
In a restaurant window just outside Brixham, Devon, UK: Don't stand there and be hungry, come in and get fed up.
In a health food shop window in Los Angeles, USA: Closed due to illness.
In a pub in West Sussex which is non-smoking: If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.
In a Laundromat, seen in Portland, Oregon, USA: Automatic Washing Machines: Please remove all your clothes when the light goes out.
Listen to Christmas tunes while Christmas shopping :
Grilled Vegetable Gratin~Crowd Pleaser~yummy!
This hearty dish is made with pasta and grilled vegetables and topped with melted cheese.
Yield 8-10 servings
Time 2 hours
•Wok or large saucepan
•Large gratin dish or casserole
Ingredients ◦2 large eggplants (2 pounds)
◦2 large bell peppers
◦2 large red onions, peeled and sliced
◦3 cloves garlic, chopped
◦2 T olive oil
◦4 c tomatoes, peeled and chopped
◦3 T fresh basil, chopped
◦3 T parsley, chopped
◦1-2 t fresh oregano, chopped
◦salt and pepper
◦½ c dry red wine
◦1 pound rigatoni
◦½ pound mozzarella, grated
Directions Slice the eggplants lengthwise, into ½-in slices. Salt each slice on both sides and let sit for 30-45 minutes, until sweating a tan-colored water. Rinse each slice for just a second and pat dry.
Quarter the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and stems.
Brush eggplants and peppers with olive oil and grill over charcoal: eggplant, until tender, peppers (skin side down), until charred. Put the peppers in paper bag for a few minutes, then remove the skins.
Cut eggplant and peppers into wide strips and set aside.
Heat 2 T olive oil, then sauté onion and garlic until golden. Add 3 c tomatoes, the herbs, salt and pepper, and the wine. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350° and oil the gratin dish.
Cook the rigatoni until just al dente. Drain and mix with tomato sauce and grilled vegetables.
Pour into gratin dish, sprinkle with remaining tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Bake until very hot and cheese is beginning to color, about 30-40 minutes. If you like a brown, bubbly gratin topping, place under the broiler for a minute.
Notes After putting the gratin together, you can set it aside to be baked later that day.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Some laughs to share before the holiday!
Ode to Thanksgiving
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
T ... Turkeys, table-spreads, being together,
H ... Happiness and homes to protect us from all weather,
A ... Aunts and uncles, a reunion in Fall,
N ... Nieces and nephews, family members all.
K ... Kind-hearted kin coming over for dinner,
S ... Surely you'll have fun, but you won't get thinner,
G ... Gourds and pumpkins, mouths open wide,
I ... Indians and Pilgrims we remember with pride,
V ... Very special times-there could even be snow,
I ... Imagine what it was like at Plymouth long ago,
N ... Never forget how the settlers led the way,
G ... Giving thanks and blessing this special day.
Now Where is That Turkey?
Two pilgrims go out hunting. One has two blunderbusses.
The second pilgrim asks, 'Why do you have two blunderbusses?'
The first pilgrim explains, 'I usually miss the first time I shoot. By taking two I can shoot again.'
The second pilgrim thinks for a while and then says, 'Why not just take the second one, and only shoot once?'
Real Questions Asked on the Butterball Turkey Cooking
Is it OK to baste my turkey with engine oil?
Should I carve my turkey with a 16in Redmax or should I get out my Stihl Electric Chain Saw?
How do I get my Chihuahua out of the turkey. (Her dog jumped up on the kitchen table.)
Should I leave the giblets in their plastic bag during cooking?
How long should I cook my turkey on the car radiator?
50 minutes at Mach 1 should do it!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
A smile to share before Thanksgiving..Enjoy!!
Dear Family & Friends,
I know that you were eager to accept our family's invitation to Thanksgiving dinner when you found out that the famous Martha Stewart would be joining us. However, due to scheduling conflicts beyond her control, Ms. Stewart finds that she is unable to grace our table this year. With that in mind, there will be a few minor changes regarding the meal and decor, as outlined below. Please be aware of them, and adjust your appetite and dress appropriately.
1) Our driveway will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After several trial runs and two visits from the fire department, it was decided that, no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.
2) Once inside, please note that the entry space will not be decorated with swags of Indian corn and fall foliage. Instead, we included our dog in decorating by having him track in colorful autumn leaves from the back yard. The mud was his idea.
3) The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this is Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the paper SpongeBob dinner plates, the leftover Halloween napkins, and our plastic cup collection.
4) Our centerpiece will not be a tower of fresh fruit and flowers. Instead we will be proudly displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper and pine cones. The artist assures me it is a turkey, albeit one without wings, legs, or a beak.
5) We will be dining somewhat later than planned. However, our daughter will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure she will be happy to share every choice comment her mother made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims, stuffing choices, the turkey hotline, and, especially, her husband. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 7:00AM upon discovering that said husband had only remembered to pull the turkey from the freezer at 6:00 AM, and that the thing was still hard enough to cut diamonds.
6) As an accompaniment to our daughter's recital of these events, I will play a recording of Native American tribal drumming. Curiously, the tribal drumming sounds a great deal like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, but that only enhances the holiday appropriateness. If our daughter should mention that we don't own a recording of Native American tribal drumming, ignore her. She's only nine; what does she know?
7) A dainty silver bell will not be rung to announce the start of our feast. We have chosen to keep our traditional method of assembling when the smoke alarm goes off.
8) There will be no formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask all the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door. And I would like to take this opportunity to remind our younger diners that "passing the rolls" is neither a football play nor an excuse to bean your cousin in the head with bread.
9) The turkey will not be carved at the table. I know you have seen the Norman Rockwell image of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. Such a scene may occur somewhere in America , but it won't be happening at our dinner table. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in the kitchen at a private ceremony. I stress "private", meaning Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children, or older, helpful grandparents into the kitchen to check on my progress. I have a very large, very sharp knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win the battle. When I do, we will eat.
10) For the duration of the meal, we will refer to the gravy by its lesser-known name: Kraft Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you
regarding the origins or makeup of the Kraft Cheese Sauce, smile kindly and say that you know the answer, but it's a secret that can't be revealed to them until they are 18.
11) Instead of offering a choice among 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and dog tongue marks. You still have a choice: take it or leave it.
That concludes our list of alterations. Again, I apologize that Martha will not be joining us this year. Come to think of it, she probably won't come next year, either.
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