Have you been naughty or nice? Tomorrow is Santa’s List Day!

Santa ClausBy DeDe Hausmann

I didn’t believe it either but it’s FOR REAL!!!   According to reliable sources via the internet, December 4th is when Santa Claus decides who goes onto the NAUGHTY or NICE lists.  Yep, he’s making those lists and checking them twice, three times or more and deciding who’s been GOOD or BAD!  He’s got to have time to decide what to bring to all the boys and girls of the world and I think he’s pushing it.  Considering there are over SEVEN BILLION people world-wide, as of September, 2012, then he’s got a massive job on his hands!!!!  I sure wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.

Some feel that you can’t change Santa’s mind regarding one’s status after December 4th but others beg to differ.   Of course I think that most parents are those that are begging to differ and they don’t even bother to bring up SANTA’S LIST DAY.   If our kids were still little, I sure wouldn’t!  I remember when I was a wee one that my parents often reminded my FOUR brothers and I that Santa knew whether we were GOOD or BAD clear up until Christmas Eve so we’d better be good! That did wonders especially with my youngest brothers, at least up until they were maybe 6 or 7.  After that, forget it!  They were back to their normal, “get into mischievous often”, selves.

Now if you’ve done the UNTHINKABLE and let the cat out of the bag regarding SANTA’S LIST DAY then you might consider telling your children that there’s ALWAYS WIGGLE ROOM— meaning you need to encourage them to be on their best behavior for you have a DIRECT LINE OF COMMUNICATION to the guy in the red suit and he will gladly give your kids’ gifts to good little girls and boys who really deserve them!!! LOVE IT!  Make ‘em sweat a little.

So parents, it’s up to you what you tell your kids regarding SANTA’S LIST DAY!!!  My suggestion is to USE IT TO THE FULLEST AND GIVE THEM A LITTLE WIGGLE ROOM.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

(and remember the true meaning of the season!!!)

Stay Home Because You Are Well Day

MP900316497By Mary Nicholson

Little did I realize when given this what I thought would be a fun topic how hard this is going to be to write.  It’s not that the topic is complex; the title pretty much explains it all.  The difficulty arose when I thought things through, remembering that the boss will most likely read this.  Uh oh!  What to do, what to do?

A little more research on the topic did provide some history and insight about this day.  Stay Home Because You Are Well Day has been around for more than a decade, and was created, along with many other zany holidays, by Tom Roy, a radio personality in Pennsylvania, and his wife, Ruth.  November 30, the official Stay Home Because You Are Well Day, is also Tom’s birthday.  This wasn’t the first holiday created by the Roys.  It all started with Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day, which is always February 20. Citizens are asked to go outdoors at high noon (local time) and yell “Hoodie-Hoo” to chase winter and make ready for spring, one month from now.  And according to Tom, it always works!  For more about the creators of this “holiday”, check out this article.

So what would you do if you got a “free” day and stayed home because you are well? For me, it depends on who else in my house is taking advantage of that day.  If I’m on my own, the conversation in my head would go something like this:  “Oh boy!  A whole day!  I could go to the gym, get all the laundry done, bake bread, finally organize my closet, lose 20 pounds, take items to Goodwill, finally get the crud off the shower walls and doors, vacuum/clean every square inch of the house (including those dreaded blinds), get the holiday decorations down from the attic, and cook a wonderful, FoodNetwork worthy dinner.”  Here’s reality:  “Oh boy!  I don’t have to get up with the alarm clock!  Let’s have a leisurely breakfast, toss something dirty into the washer, do a few Sudoku puzzles, and then just one more, go to the gym, and then go shopping”.  But you know what, either way, I had a great Stay Home Because You Are Well Day.  Cheers to you!

Farm-City Week

People love to shop for clothes and eat! We love the variety of food we can taste and the styles that clothing stores offer. Who is to thank for all these wonderful products – it starts with farmers!  National Farm-City Week is celebrated this week. This year marks the 57th anniversary of the annual celebration. As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal think about these things which you are grateful.

Farm-City Week celebrates the partnership between farmers and their urban colleagues who help prepare, transport, market and retail the food and fiber farmers grow for America’s consumers. Did you know that nearly 1 in 20 workers in our national economy plays a role in getting food and fiber from the farm to consumers?

Many people are now two, three or even four generations removed from life on the farm. People do not completely understand and lack the first-hand knowledge of how their food gets from the farm to their plate.  National Farm-City Week helps call attention to the agricultural community and the origins of products we enjoy daily.

Although the number of farms in the United States has declined over the years, agricultural production continues to meet the needs of a growing population. Today’s farmer grows twice as much food as his or her parents did, but uses less land, water and energy to do so.

Some ways Farm-City Week is being celebrated in communities across the country are hosting farm days at schools, farm tours, banquets and proclamations. Farm-City Week can be celebrated throughout the year too! I urge you to visit a modern dairy farm with your family if you have never stepped foot on one.

Consider adding the farmers and all those who helped get the food you will eat this holiday season to your list of people to give thanks.

More info about National Farm-City Week is available at farmcity.org . Test your knowledge and take a farm city quiz as well!

Smile if you love it

By Mary Nicholson

Often on our blog posts you’ll find references to dairy products of one sort or another.  Well, this blog contains a totally different dairy product – the “Milk of Human Kindness”.  Taken from William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, that phrase simply means kindness and sympathy shown to others.  It’s not something you’ll find in the grocery store, nor is it regulated by the USDA.  So what’s this all about?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 is World Kindness Day, and that’s certainly something we can all be a part of. The World Kindness Movement was formed in 1997 in Tokyo.  The United States was one of the founding members, along with Japan, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.  Along with the original countries, Brazil, France, India, Italy, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Scotland, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are current members.  The cosmos bipinnatus was adopted as the official flower of the World Kindness Movement.

So how can you make November 13 meaningful?  It’s pretty easy, really.  It’s not about solving issues as big as the unrest in the Middle East or world hunger.  Wouldn’t it be great if those problems could be solved with just a bit of kindness? World Kindness Day is more about simple forms of kindness, such as smiling at a stranger, giving a compliment to someone, or holding the door open for the person behind you.

You might be surprised how contagious a smile can be.  I dare you to watch this and not at least crack a smile.  There are many reasons why smiling is good for you.  Around our house, my husband has a phrase he uses, especially with our son when he was a teenager.  There may have been a discussion with differing opinions and disagreement, but when my husband would say “Smile if you love it”, it never failed to ease the tension and put at least a smirk on the face of said teenager.  If you’re still not convinced, walk into a nursing home and smile.  That could be the highlight of someone’s day that lives there.  As the song goes “when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you”…  This could be one of many theme songs for World Kindness Day, couldn’t it?

If you need some ideas, check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s website.  There are a lot of great stories and videos about peoples’ kindness to others.  And on November 13, let’s toast the day with the milk of human kindness.

Pizza Month

By Brittni the Intern

One of the oldest and most loved foods is Pizza.  October has been designated as National Pizza Month to celebrate the history and love of this delicious food.  Pizza is one of the most popular foods eaten by Americans.  Whether you like pepperoni, veggies, pineapple, or even just cheese, there is a pizza out there that satisfies nearly everyone’s taste buds.

Pizza has been in existence for centuries in many different forms.  In fact, most pizzas started out as sweet treats instead of the savory dishes we commonly eat today.  Pizza started out as a “peasant’s” food.  It was commonly sold on the streets to lower class people.  It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that pizza was prepared by chefs and then it became a staple for all!

Pizza eventually made its way to America via Italian immigrants.  Vendors would walk up and down streets selling pizza to anyone who would buy.  However, pizza was mostly only eaten by Italians.  It wasn’t until the 1940’s that pizza became more popular with other nationalities.  Troops stationed in Italy during WWII became tired of the boring food they were fed and tried the common Italian cuisine.  Since then, pizza has found a home in American kitchens.

According to the website,  Pizza Marketplace, there are over 70,000 pizzerias in the United States alone; and 9,000 of those restaurants are in New York.  Many changes have occurred since the common pizza was served only to poor people of Italy.  Americans order over 3 billion pizzas each year and the average American eats 46 slices of pizza annually.

Pizza has become a staple in the American diet.  Through all the changes and travel pizza has made over the centuries, it still has a place in our hearts, and our stomachs.  What better time than National Pizza Month to satisfy the taste buds with one of the nation’s favorite treats.

Fall Festivals and Farm Fun!

Courtesy of GOODEnessGracious.com

By Mary Nicholson

The dog days of summer are now behind us, and maybe we’ll have an Indian summer yet.  But there’s no doubt that it’s fall – time for football, turning leaves, campfires, and fall festivals.  What a great time of year for a little day trip!

Apple orchards have always been a favorite with my family, although this year might be a little different.  The mild winter combined with the hard frost might make apple picking a little slim this year.  So before you head out the door, check out what’s going on with your favorite orchard.  At many orchards, there’s so much more than apples!  Some have corn mazes, hay rides, homemade pies and other baked goods, and even live music.

Many of us thought the drought of the summer would certainly affect the fall colors of the trees.  The last 2 weeks I’ve spent a fair number of hours behind the wheel, and I’ve seen some spectacular colors that I really didn’t expect to see.  What a pleasant surprise!

There are also a great many fall festivals all around the state.  Here’s a handy guide to find one that’s close to you.  There are so many different kinds of celebrations that involve everything from covered bridges, corn, and harvest to the Renaissance, beans, cars, and even Elvis! There’s certainly something for everybody.  The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival is known outside of Indiana.  Growing up in southern Illinois, I’d even heard about it!

Courtesy of GOODEnessGracious.com

One thing that’s not really a festival, but certainly worth a little drive, is a farm tour at Kelsay Farms in Whiteland.  Have you ever seen a working dairy farm?  Here you can see just how milk gets from the cow to your grocery store.  And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see a calf!  Open daily from October 8 – 19th, and all weekends through October 28th, there are other special activities including a corn maze, a baby barnyard, corn hole games, pumpkin bowling, hayrides, and the MooChoo Express.  You can even go trick-or-treating in the corn maze on October 27!

That’s another favorite thing about autumn – Halloween is right around the corner.  More about that another time!

Moldy Cheese Day?

By DeDe Hausmann

You know that there seems to be a day for just about anything.  Well hold onto your hats for -October 9th has been designated as NATIONAL MOLDY CHEESE DAY!

OK let’s make it clear.  Some natural cheeses are injected with a Penicillium Rogueforti Bacteria to produce a mold spore that helps the cheese ripen and develop a distinctive flavor, as in Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Maytag and other cheeses.  And most cheeses have a small amount of internal and surface mold that we don’t see.  BUT if you purchase a cheese and it later develops a mold while it’s refrigerated at home, that moldy area on that cheese is NOT OK to eat!

Mold can develop on any cheese once the product is exposed to air.  Shredded, cubed and sliced cheese can develop mold faster than chunks of natural cheese because they have a greater surface area.

To help delay the formation of mold on cheese, make sure you store the cheese in air-tight packaging.   Once the cheese is exposed to air though, expect mold formation to begin.

And once that mold forms it can spread quickly throughout the cheese.

Do know that you can eat cheese from a chunk of cheese that has mold spores on it.  JUST DO NOT EAT ANY OF THE MOLD.   Cut the mold out of the cheese making sure not to touch the mold with the knife.   If I find mold on a natural cheese, as in cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, and Swiss, I cut a wide area around the mold and ditch it immediately and then clean the knife WELL before using it again.

So what happens if you find mold in a liquid-based cheese (or other dairy) product?  This includes cottage and ricotta cheese, sour cream and yogurt.  The mold can and will contaminate the liquid that flows throughout the product so do not eat any of it.  Pitch it out!

Make sure to check the package dates on cheese products.  If I plan to keep a cheese around for a while, I chose a package with a date far in the future.  If I’m preparing a dish with cheese for immediate use, I don’t worry with that.

So you’ve learned that it’s OK to eat naturally moldy cheeses, as in Blue, Roquefort or Gorganzola, but if your Cheddar, Colby, Swiss or whatever develops mold after it’s opened and stored, remove all the mold and more before consuming! If by chance there’s lots of mold, go by the old saying, “when in doubt, throw it out”!

And if you are a cheese lover like me you rarely will find moldy cheese in your refrigerator because you eat it before mold can form!  I LOVE CHEESE, DON’T YOU?!