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November 2019


A Special Supplement to

Mountain Statesman Lewis County Community Guide The Record Delta

2019 Magazine


To our valued advertisers,

In business, there’s nothing more important than building strong relationships with clients. The holidays are the perfect time to share our gratitude and warm wishes with the people who do business with us throughout the year. At this special time of the year, we would like to express our sincere appreciation for the trust that you have placed in us. When we think of all the benefits of being in our business, we quickly think of our relationships with great customers like you. Thank you for giving us the chance to do what we enjoy!

4 Give the gift of good manners

To our cherished readers,

8 Great gifts for people who help you year-round

5 Tips for baking better Christmas cookies 6 Incorporate eggnog into your holiday brunch 8 This year’s hot holiday gifts

During this season, we take time to reflect upon the good things we have ... like our partnership with you, those who read our papers. We hope that you have enjoyed the products that we put out each week, from our community papers to our theme magazines; By appreciating our print and digital offerings, you encourage us to put out a better product each week and challenge our advertisers to place their message in front of you as often as they can to secure your business with them. Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to publishing a community papers that you will be proud of for years to come.

10 Hearty lasagna can feed holiday crowds

To our tireless staff,

15 Wrapping gifts is a very old tradition

Without you, we would not be able to achieve any degree of success. Your dedication and effort are most certainly appreciated. You have helped us shape our business and for that, we are extremely grateful. As we approach Thanksgiving, remember to give thanks for all the good things in your life and never take anything for granted. As the Christmas and Holiday Season arrives, let the magic of the holidays bring you joy and happiness with your family, friends and loved ones and may the New Year bring you good health, good fortune and good times. There is truly no place like “home for the Holidays”! Sincerely,

11 Tips for safe holiday entertaining in pet-friendly households 12 The origins of Christmas Caroling 13 Prepare the fireplace for holiday decorating 14 Learn the meaning behind the menorah 16 How to make holiday wreaths the easy way 17 Decorate with a nose toward inviting holiday aromas 18 Cooking for a holiday crowd 18 Deliver delicious brisket for the holidays 19 How to simplify holiday hosting on the day of the party 20 Eco-friendly gift options

James Austin Publisher

21 Christmas tree tips and tricks 21 Christmas tree recycling


22 Keep safety in mind when decorating for the holidays

Copyright November 2019 Mountaineer Newspapers Inc.






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2019 Magazine

Give the gift of good manners


he holidays are a time for giving and gathering with loved ones. Because the holiday season is such a social time of year, it can be wise for celebrants to revisit social manners in the days ahead before the holiday party season hits full swing. Practicing good manners is especially poignant during the holidays to keep the spirit of compassion and goodwill alive.

Host/hostess gifts

A gift is a great way for holiday celebrants to express their appreciation to holiday hosts. It doesn’t have to be a lavish gift; a bottle of wine, baked goods or a decorative trinket each make for thoughtful gifts.


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Accept gifts with grace

Whether you planned to exchange gifts or not, if someone gives you a gift, accept it with a smile and express your appreciation. It may not be what you need or desire, but do not let the gift-giver think you are unhappy with the gift. It’s alright if you have nothing to give in return. Don’t feel as though you have to rush out and get a reciprocal gift.

Say “Please” & “Thank you”

People can get into the habit of falling into the holiday shopping rush, forgetting manners when in crowds. Remember that everyone is in the same boat, which probably involves racing against the clock to accomplish holiday tasks. A little patience, a smile and some polite words can go a long way toward making shopping a more pleasant experience.

Be helpful to others

Consider those people who may have a difficult time getting holiday shopping or other jobs done, such as an elderly neighbor or a friend who is feeling under the weather. Find out if you can maximize your trip to the mall or supermarket by getting them some things they need.

Ask before bringing a guest While the more the merrier is often the case, be sure hosts are fine with an extra guest or two. Remember, he or she may have gifts planned for those in attendance, and an unexpected face may lead to an embarrassing shortage of treats. Manners and etiquette can make the holiday season even more enjoyable.

2019 Magazine

Tips for baking better Christmas cookies


ookies and other baked treats are everywhere come the holiday season. It’s not uncommon to give cookies as gifts or arrive at holiday gatherings with cakes and other decadent desserts. Cookies are a classic holiday treat, and some families even build entire traditions around baking Christmas cookies. Novice bakers making cookies for the first time may be a little overwhelmed when perusing recipes. Baking is a science, and sometimes it takes practice to get the results just right. However, there are some tips that can help yield better, buttery bounties.

Handle butter with care

Butter can make or break a cookie recipe, as butter is often the glue that holds the cookie

together. Therefore, it is key to follow the directions carefully regarding how to handle butter. says to leave butter at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes to properly soften it. This takes patience, but fiddling with butter too much can damage its delectable integrity. While purists may say butter is best, margarine may be an acceptable substitute if it has a high fat content; otherwise, cookies may spread out and flatten. When it comes time to cream the butter with sugar, be sure to do so thoroughly to incorporate air into the butter and remove the grainy texture of the sugar.

Measure flour properly

Measuring flour the right way can ensure cookies come out right. The Cooking Channel says to spoon the flour lightly into a dry measuring cup, then level it off with a knife. Do not dip the measuring cup into the flour or tap the knife against the cup. This will pack too much flour into the measuring cup and result in dry, tough cookies.

Slow down the eggs

Add eggs one at a time to make sure each will emulsify properly with the fat in the butter. Adding eggs en masse may cause the emulsification to fail.

Chill out

Carefully follow recipes that call for chilling cookie dough. This process is important for making sliced and shaped cookies. By chilling, the dough becomes more malleable for rolling and even slicing.

Use a bottom rack

Too much heat may compromise the integrity of the cookies. The food experts at Delish say to try moving cookies onto a lower rack in the oven if they aren’t retaining their shape when baked. Put an empty cookie sheet on the top rack. That will block the cookies from the most intense heat that rises to the top of the oven. Mastering cookies takes a little patience and some trial and error. Once bakers get their feet wet, baking Christmas cookies becomes even more special.

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2019 Magazine

Incorporate eggnog

into your holiday brunch


ood is a big part of the holiday season. Big meals are typically the focal point of holiday gatherings with family and friends. Seasonal beverages also have a special place at holiday dinner tables and parties. This holiday season, hosts can incorporate a beloved beverage into their holiday brunches by whipping up the following recipe for “Baked Eggnog French Toast with Cranberries and Apples,” courtesy of Betty Rosbottom’s “Sunday Brunch” (Chronicle Books). Baked Eggnog French Toast with Cranberries and Apples Serves 6

Glazed Cranberries and Apples 2 cups apple cider 6 tablespoons light corn syrup 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 8 tablespoons unsalted butter,diced 3 Golden Delicious apples (about 11⁄4 lb.), peeled, cored and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

(see note 1)

⁄2 cup granulated sugar, plus more if needed


Eggnog French Toast 12 thick (3⁄4-inch) bread slices, cuton a sharp

diagonal from a day old baguette (see note 2) 21⁄2 cups purchased eggnog

(see cooking tip)

⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Pinch of ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter Confectioners’ sugar

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1. For the Glazed Cranberries and Apples: Whisk together the apple cider, corn syrup and brown sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the butter until melted. Remove from the heat and set aside. 2. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add the apples and sauté, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and granulated sugar, and stir until cranberries begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Stir in the reduce cider mixture and cook until the mixture has reduced to a syrup-like consistency, about 6 minutes. Taste and stir in more sugar, if desired. (The cranberries and apples can be prepared 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, over medium heat.) 3. For the Eggnog French Toast: Arrange the bread slices in a 9-by-13-inch shallow baking dish. Whisk together the eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture over the bread. Cover the pan

with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours, or overnight. 4. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 450 F. Butter a large, rimmed baking sheet with some of the melted butter. Using a metal spatula, transfer the bread slices to the baking sheet. Brush the bread with the remaining melted butter. 5. Bake for 10 minutes, and then turn and bake until golden brown on the outside and still soft inside, 5 to 6 minutes more. Watch carefully so they do not burn. 6. Arrange 2 slices on each of six dinner plates and mound the warm fruits on top. Dust generously with confectioners’ sugar and serve. Note 1: If using frozen cranberries, defrost and pat dry. Note 2: You also can use a good, crusty sourdough bread; cut 3⁄4inch slices from it, and if they are large, cut them in half. Cooking tip: If eggnog is not available at the supermarket, whisk together 4 egg yolks, 1⁄2 cup sugar and 2 cups light cream to blend. Then proceed with the recipe.

2019 Magazine

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2019 Magazine

Great gifts for people

who help you year-round


he holiday season is a time to connect with loved ones. Families gather during the holiday season, and friends reconnect.



he holiday season is synonymous with many things, including exchanging gifts with friends and loved ones. Each year, certain items prove more trendy than others. Get the scoop on the gear and gadgets that are bound to be on the top of wish lists this year. Amazon Echo Show 5: This is the latest incarnation of the Echo Show at a more affordable price point than past incarnations. The screen is a smart display and enables users to make video calls, play games, watch videos, check the weather, and control smart home devices. A new privacy feature allows users to turn off the camera and microphone when the device isn’t in use. Battery pack case: There’s no need to waste time sitting by the phone charger waiting for popular iPhones to revive their batteries with a battery pack case. A charging case provides extra talk time or video streaming and fits comfortably on various models. VicTsing Wireless Shower Speaker: Whether a friend or loved one is practicing for a night out at karaoke or enjoys getting pumped up in the morning with upbeat tunes, a waterproof shower speaker is a hot gift. It can stream music or bluetooth over calls from a phone.

Fitbit fitness tracker: A Fitbit product is certain to be a winner for fitness enthusiasts. The Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband is an affordable option capable of tracking workouts. It also can sync with a phone and is water-resistant. Blink XT Home Security Camera: People with security on their minds, including those who want to keep tabs on their homes while they’re at work or on vacation, may cherish this security camera. The newest version is weatherproof and has cloud storage. Motion detection will set off an alert on a person’s phone or tablet in real time. Tile Trackers: Handy Tile gadgets connect to keys, bags and other belongings that frequently go missing. Simply connect to the app and the device will ring, identifying the location. The upgraded version covers 200 feet and has a louder volume. iRobot Braava Robot Mop: This powerful robot will mop and sweep tile and hardwood floors. Pair it with the traditional iRobot vacuum and an entire house can be cleaned without lifting a finger. These are just a handful of the items that will be coveted this holiday season.

Tradition reigns supreme for many people during the holiday season. Exchanging gifts is one tradition that transcends religion, as people who subscribe to various faiths exchange gifts with their loved ones during the holiday season. When making their holiday shopping lists, shoppers should make sure they don’t forget the various people who help them throughout the year. Small tokens of appreciation during the holiday season can help mailmen, teachers, hairdressers, and others know they’re appreciated. The following are some gift ideas that can help the people who help us throughout the year. Mailman Mail finds its way into the mailbox even when the weather outside is frightful. Mailmen spend much of their workdays outdoors braving the elements, so a gift that helps make their time outdoors more comfortable makes sense. But before gifting their mailmen, shoppers should know that there are rules governing the gifts that the mailman can and cannot accept. According to the United States Postal Service®, mailmen can accept gifts worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion. However, carriers are forbidden from accepting cash and cash equivalents. In addition, mailmen cannot accept more than $50 worth of gifts in a calendar year. Moisture wicking shirts can help mail carriers stay warm on cold days, and they’re designed to quickly move moisture away from the body to the outer layer of the shirt. Such shirts can be

worn beneath carriers’ uniforms to keep them warm and dry on cold days. Shoe inserts, a basket of sunscreen and some healthy snacks that can be eaten onthe-go are other great gifts for mail carriers. Hairdressers Hairdressers go to great lengths to make people look good throughout the year, and those efforts should not be forgotten during the holiday season. Many hairdressers use supplies, such as scissors, they purchase on their own. A gift certificate to a salon supply wholesaler can make for a welcome gift. For those who want to pamper the people who pamper them, a gift certificate to a local spa can make for a wonderful gift for hairdressers this holiday season. Educators and Caregivers Educators and caregivers, which includes teachers, babysitters and daycare staff, do a lot for children. Their efforts should be recognized during the holiday season. School systems and daycare facilities may have rules in place governing which items staff can accept, so inquire about such policies in advance of the holiday season. When gifting babysitters, make sure gifts are age-appropriate. If a babysitter is a minor, cash may make for the best gift. For teachers and daycare workers, consider a gift certificate to a well-regarded local eatery or a school supplies store, as many teachers purchase classroom supplies with their own money. Come the holiday season, shoppers should make sure they gift the people who help them and their families throughout the year.

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2019 Magazine




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Hearty lasagna

can feed holiday crowds


illions of people take to the roads, rails and skies to make it home for the holidays. Plenty of hosts and hostesses open their homes to well-traveled relatives and close friends during the holiday season, sometimes providing accommodations for several days. During this season of entertaining, it is helpful to have several go-to recipes that can feed a houseful of guests on hand. The recipe for “Lasagna With Broccoli and Three Cheeses” from “Real Simple: Dinner Tonight, Done!” (Time Home Entertainment) from the editors of Real Simple is sure to stick to guests’ ribs on wintry nights. With only 15 minutes of preparation time, this dish gets popped in the oven and can be enjoyed an hour later. Lasagna With Broccoli and Three Cheeses Serves 4

1 15-ounce container ricotta 1 pound frozen broccoli florets — thawed, patted dry, and chopped 21⁄4 cups grated mozzarella 1 ⁄2 cup grated Parmesan Kosher salt and black pepper

1 ⁄2 8 2

16-ounce jar marinara sauce cup heavy cream no-boil lasagna noodles tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the foil 4 cups mixed greens 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Heat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, broccoli, 2 cups of the mozzarella, 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper. In a small bowl, combine the marinara sauce and cream. Spoon a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles, a quarter of the remaining sauce, and a third of the broccoli mixture; repeat twice. Top with the remaining 2 noodles and sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄4 cup of mozzarella and 1⁄4 cup of Parmesan. Cover the lasagna tightly with an oiled piece of foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more. Toss the greens with the oil, lemon juice, and 1⁄4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the lasagna.

2019 Magazine 11

Tips for safe holiday

entertaining in pet-friendly households


he holidays are a time to spend with friends and family. Celebrating and entertaining are large components of what makes Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years festivities so enjoyable. Holiday hosts with pets must consider companion animals when planning the festivities. The holiday season brings added dangers for pets. The American Veterinary Association notes that, by keeping hazards in mind, pet owners can ensure their fourlegged friends enjoy the season as much as everyone else. Secure the tree. Securely anchor the Christmas tree so that it won’t tip over on anyone, including rambunctious pets. Also, stagnant tree stand water can grow bacteria. If a pet should drink the water, it may end up with nausea or diarrhea. Replenish the tree basin with fresh water daily. Skip the candles. When creating mood lighting, opt for electronic or battery-powered lights instead of open flames. Pets may knock over candles, and that can be an instant fire hazard. Keep food out of reach. Situate food buffets beyond the reach of hungry and curious animals. Warn guests to promptly throw out their leftovers so that dogs and cats do not sneak away with scraps that may cause stomach upset or worse. Real Simple magazine warns that fatty foods can promote pancreatitis — a potentially dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that produces toxic enzymes and causes illness and dehydration.

Small bones can get lodged in a pet’s throat or intestines as well. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Exercise caution when baking sugar-free desserts. The artificial sweetener xylitol can cause dogs’ blood pressure to drop to dangerously low levels. Xylitol is found in some toothpastes and gum, so tell overnight guests to keep their toiletries secure to avoid accidental exposure. Be cautious with cocktails. If the celebration will include alcoholic beverages, the ASPCA says to place unattended adult beverages where pets cannot reach them. Ingested alcohol can make pets ill, weak and even induce comas. Be picky about plants. Mistletoe, holly and poinsettias can be dangerous in pet-friendly households. These plants can cause gastrointestinal upset and may lead to other problems if ingested. Opt for artificial replicas instead. If guests bring flowers, confirm they are nontoxic to pets before putting them on display. Watch the door. Guests going in and out may inadvertently leave doors open. In such instances, pets who get scared or are door dashers may be able to escape the house. Put a note by the door to watch for escaping pets. Designate a safe space for pets. If the holiday hustle proves too much for cats, dogs, birds, and more, give the pet a safe, quiet spot away from the crowds. Holiday hosts should factor in pet safety when they open their homes to guests.

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2019 Magazine

The origins

of Christmas Caroling

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he festive nature of the holiday season makes it an ideal time to sing, especially in groups. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that caroling, a tradition that dates back many centuries, ultimately collided with Christmas. Caroling and Christmas caroling are two different things. According to, the origins of modern Christmas caroling can be traced to wassailing, a term that has evolved for more than a millenium. What started as a simple greeting gradually became part of a toast made during ritualized drinking. Time magazine notes that the word “wassail,” which appeared in English literature as early as the eighth century, eventually came to mean the wishing of good fortune on one’s neighbors, though no one can say for certain when this particular development occurred. During medieval times, farmers in certain parts of Britain would drink a beverage to toast the health of their crops and encourage the fertility of their animals. By 1600, farmers in some parts of Britain

were still engaging in this ritual, and some were by now taking a wassail bowl filled with a toasting beverage around the streets. These wassailers would stop by neighboring homes and offer a warm drink, all the while wishing good fortune on their neighbors. During this period, wassailing had nothing to do with Christmas, but that began to change in Victorian England, when Christmas became more commercialized and popular. It was during this time when publishers began circulating carols, forever linking the tradition of wassailing with Christmas. Christmas caroling as Victorian Englanders knew it might have fallen by the wayside. But while carolers may no longer go doorto-door singing Christmas songs and wishing their neighbors good fortune, those intent on seeing the modern manifestation of this tradition that dates back more than a millenium may be able to find some carolers at their local mall or church.

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2019 Magazine 13

Prepare the fireplace

for holiday decorating




jolly holiday season can be made even more merry with a roaring fire. Homeowners often build holiday tableaus around the fireplace to serve as festive backdrops. The mantle and the fireplace itself also may be a prime spot to dedicate to decorating this time of year. Even though Christmas tree fires are rare, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, when they do occur they’re likely to be serious. That is why trees and other flammable decorations need to be kept clear of gas and wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. In addition, many other guidelines should be heeded to ensure fireplaces and holiday decor safely coexist this season. Read labels on decorative items carefully before decorating. Be sure to only select items that are flame-resistant or retardent. Cherished collectibles and other items should always be kept far away from open flames and heat. It pays to have a fireplace inspected and cleaned for use prior to operation, advises Doherty Insurance Agency. Rely on a trained chimney sweep, and have the fireplace and

chimney inspected and cleaned at least once per year. Even though it may be picturesque, do not place wrapped packages or gift boxes near the fireplace, as they tend to be highly combustible. Keep presents and other flammable items at least three feet away from the fireplace. Do not be tempted to dispose of wrapping paper, boxes or even a Christmas tree in the fireplace. Wrapping paper contains additives that make it burn at high temperatures. A Christmas tree hasn’t been properly seasoned and could be a fire hazard and potentially contribute to excessive smoke and creosote. Keep decorations that kids will be tempted to touch away from the fireplace so kids do not hang out near the heat and open flames. Fireplaces are often a focal point of holiday decorating and entertaining. Homeowners who want to incorporate their fireplaces into their holiday decor must emphasize safety when doing so.

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2019 Magazine

Learn the meaning behind the menorah


he menorah is perhaps the most recognizable symbol of Chanukah. Displayed in homes, and often in windows, each year, the menorah is a nine-branched candelabrum that symbolizes Chanukah and much more. Menorahs have been part of the Jewish faith since ancient times. Isaiah 42:6 indicates that the menorah is a symbol of the nation of Israel, and its mission is to be a “light unto nations.” After being liberated from slavery in Egypt, the Jews were commanded by God to make the original menorah, which at the time featured seven branches. The seven arms were believed to refer to the seven days of creation. The menorah was lit every evening and cleaned every morning. The wicks were replaced and fresh, consecrated olive oil was put into the cups to keep the flame alive. After the Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and desecrated by the Romans, there remained only enough sealed, consecrated olive oil left to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days, giving the Jews enough time to make new consecrated oil. This became known as the Chanukah miracle. While the original menorahs were seven-branched, the Chanukah menorah, or

Chanukiah (Hanukkiah), became a nine-branched version lit only during the holiday. According to the Jewish holiday site Breaking Matzo, celebrants light a new candle or wick on each night of Chanukah. The ninth night, called the Shamash (“helper” or “servant”), is used to light all the other candles or oil lamps. To be kosher, the Shamash must be placed on a different level than the eight other candles. After both temples were destroyed, a new tradition developed in which Jews did not replicate anything from the destroyed temples. As a result, menorahs used in many Jewish services, apart from Chanukah, no longer had seven branches. Six-branched menorahs became popular in some synagogues. However, the Jewish Virtual Library indicates that some rabbis have gone back to seven-armed menorahs for regular services because the modern ones are electrified and, therefore, cannot possibly be duplicates of the original Temple menorah. Lighting the Chanukah menorah gives celebrants the ability to embrace the holiness of the holiday and take a small part in Jewish history.

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2019 Magazine 15

Wrapping gifts is a very old tradition


he holiday season is rife with tradition. One of the most recognizable traditions involves wrapping gifts. While the wrapping paper many gift givers use today is a relatively recent phenomenon, the tradition of wrapping gifts is centuries old, with some historians even suggesting it dates back to ancient times. The Children’s Museum of IndianapolisŽ notes that many ancient cultures celebrated various holidays that included exchanging gifts, adding that it’s very likely that, even in ancient times, gifts were wrapped to surprise their eventual recipients. Bojagi is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth that might have begun being used some time during

the Three Kingdoms of Korea period, which began in 57 BC and ended in AD 668. The Japanese tradition of furoshiki, which can be traced back to the 17th century and possibly as far back as AD 710, involves using a traditional wrapping cloth to transport certain items, including gifts. As for the gift wrap familiar to today’s holiday celebrants, that traces its origins to the early 1900s. The Children’s Museum of IndianapolisŽ notes that Eli Hyman and Morris Silverman founded the first gift wrap company in the United States in 1903. Unfortunately for gift givers back then, adhesive tape had not yet been invented in 1903, and wouldn’t be for another 27 years.

Did you know?


ome holiday traditions, such as holiday lighting displays, are impossible to miss, while others are more subtle and possibly even unknown to many celebrants. One tradition that falls into the latter category involves the placing of oranges into Christmas stockings. The origins of Christmas stockings are rooted in legend, and one of the more popular tales involves a widowed father of three beautiful girls. According to, this father was struggling to make ends meet and was concerned that his financial struggles would affect his daughters’ ability to find a spouse. As the legend goes, St. Nicholas was wandering through the man’s town and heard of his concerns. Recognizing that the man was unlikely to accept charity, St. Nicholas slid down the chimney of his house and placed three gold balls in the girls’ recently laundered stockings, which were hanging by the fire to dry. The value of the gold balls, which were discovered the following morning, was enough to ensure the girls could eventually wed. So what does that have to do with oranges? Those who wanted to replicate the tale could not so easily come upon gold balls to place in stockings, so they chose something similar in appearance: oranges.

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2019 Magazine

How to make holiday wreaths the easy way


here are many different ways to decorate homes and businesses for the holidays. Tall evergreen trees are among the most visible symbols of the holiday season. However, wreaths hung on doors, windows or fences also are ubiquitous this time of year.

One of the easiest ways to make a wreath is to design it around a circular floral foam form. Gather supplies to make the wreath. For traditional wreaths, supplies will include sprigs of evergreen (real or artificial), ribbon, floral wire, bows, and artificial berries. Working around the foam form, arrange the boughs of evergreen, using the floral wire to wrap or pin into the foam itself. Keep the layers coming until you get the desired coverage. Embellish with a ribbon or place a bow. The blog A Piece of Rainbow says that creating a wreath jig is an easy way to make a wreath. Cut a dollar-store laundry basket bottom from the top ring to make a template,

on which you can place wreath-making materials so they keep their circular form. Use floral wire or natural jute string to tie the materials together. Experiment with fresh evergreen, twigs, holly branches, or whatever materials you choose. Thick card stock also can serve as the wreath template. Attach artificial flowers or leaves, spray snow, ornaments, or other items to the card stock ring with a firm adhesive. Many craft stores sell wreath forms made of natural vines that have been strung in a ring. These can be decorated in their entirety or left a little sparse to let the natural twine show through. Wreaths may seem like complicated creations. But a little imagination and the right materials is all it takes to create a homemade wreath.



Wreaths adorn homes primarily during the holidays of Easter and Christmas. Wreaths have also been worn around the head or neck in ceremonial events around the globe for centuries. It is believed the first wreaths date back to ancient Greece and Rome. Members of the Greco-Roman society were known to hand-make ring-shaped items using fresh tree leaves, small fruits, flowers, and twigs. Oftentimes these headdresses symbolized a person’s social status. Others suggest wreaths evolved to become a Christian symbol of immortality.

Regardless of how wreaths are viewed, many people like to display wreaths for the holidays. Wreaths can be purchased premade, but making a wreath on your own can make the holidays even more fun.



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2019 Magazine 17


with a nose toward inviting holiday aromas



oliday decor is as much about the sights and sounds as it is about the scents of the season. Few things evoke the holiday spirit as much as the aroma of fresh evergreen or spicy cinnamon and cloves. Incorporating inviting aromas into holiday decor can make homes feel even more special. Filling a home with fragrant decor takes a little ingenuity and planning. Here are some ideas to incorporate the scents of the holiday season into your decor. Use a real Christmas tree. An easy way to create a pine-like scent indoors is to select a real Christmas tree. Ask the tree farm which varieties are the most fragrant. If a fresh tree is not possible, fill a decorative basket with pine cones and evergreen boughs for that woodsy appeal. Create a seasonal scented simmer. Take to the stove to make a homemade air infusion from ingredients in and around the house. Simmer pine branches, citrus peels, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and whatever else can be placed in a pot or slow cooker with water. The scents will permeate the house for hours if enough water is added to the mixture.

be found at various stores during the holiday season. Select among popular holiday aromas like pine, cinnamon, apples, and Christmas cookie varieties. Utilize essential oils. Natural food stores and other retailers may sell essential oils, which can be diluted and sprayed on surfaces or into the air. Exercise caution around upholstery, or test for staining before use.

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Spend more time in the kitchen. Add delicious scents to the home by way of freshly baked goods or holiday meals. Nothing beats the smell of cookies right out of the oven, and the scents can linger for hours. Make beeswax ornaments. Add scented oils to melted beeswax and pour into molds. Hang these creations as ornaments on trees or in other areas of the home. Craft some “gingerbread� ornaments. A mixture of cinnamon, applesauce and glue can be used to make ornaments or gift tags that resemble gingerbread cookies, and these ornaments have more staying power than actual cookies.

Make holiday sachets. Some of the same ingredients for the holiday simmer can be dried and sewn into sachets. Add ribbon and hang on real or artificial trees. Or tuck the pouches into various areas around the house.

Design a pretty pomander. Stud an orange with cloves. Cut off the top of the orange and hollow out a place for a small tea light. The warmth of the flame will produce more scent.

Experiment with scented candles. Scented candles can

Rich and inviting aromas can fill a home with the holiday spirit.

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2019 Magazine

Cooking for a holiday crowd


ecorations and shopping draw much of the attention come the holiday season, and rightfully so. But many people’s fondest holiday memories occurred around the dinner table during meals with friends and family. Holiday foods tend to be rich, flavorful and time-consuming to prepare. However, all the effort is usually worth the satisfied smiles on the faces of loved ones. Planning holiday meals is challenging, and hosts often doubt if they have enough food for everyone. No one wants guests to leave feeling hungry, nor do they want to have tons of leftovers, much of which will inevitably end up in the trash. Determining how much food to serve involves figuring out a few key items, including the mix of guests (ratio of children, men and women), the length of the occasion, the timing of the event, and the type of meal one plans to serve. For example, if the holiday gathering is an after-dinner cocktail party, hosts can get away with offering very little food. However, hosts of holiday dinners have a lot more food to prepare.

To get started, consider these general guidelines, courtesy of and The Spruce, a home living resource. Think about which foods you plan to serve. Popular foods tend to go more quickly than other items, so serve more than the general portion guidelines suggest. Shellfish appetizers, roasted or mashed potatoes, wings, and slices of rich meat are examples of popular fare. The more foods you offer, the smaller the portion sizes can be. But because guests will likely want to try all the offerings, expect the average person to consume more food per individual when several foods are offered. Most people will eat two to three portions each of appetizers or snacks. In fact, appetizers (for a hungry crowd) may be consumed in greater abundance than subsequent courses.

Deliver delicious brisket for the holidays


eef brisket is a relatively inexpensive, yet highly versatile cut of meat. It’s equally at home in a pastrami or corned beef sandwich as it is on Christmas and Chanukah holiday tables. When cooked correctly, brisket is tender and delicious.

Brisket comes from the area of cows or steers ages two and up, or veal ages two to four months, according to the recipe and cooking technique resource Food Fire Friends. The brisket can be found right above the leg in the area between the front legs. Brisket is essentially the lower chest, or pectoral region of the animal, responsible for holding up the weight of the cow. As a result, this is a dense and tough muscle area with a lot of connective tissue. Thanks to its density, brisket

requires long cooking times at relatively low temperatures to produce a tender, boldly flavored beef dish. Brisket is best smoked or braised, which means simmered in a small amount of liquid. Most briskets will have a layer of fat on the surface. Better Homes and Gardens magazine says that this should be sliced away before preparing the brisket. Try using brisket in place of a rump roast in this recipe for “Beef Roast with Dark Rum Sauce” from “CrockPot® 365 Year-Round Recipes” (Publications International, Ltd.) from The Crock-Pot Kitchens. Keep in mind that brisket will require long cooking times in a slow cooker and may need to be cut in half to fit into the pot.

Average portion sizes for each guest include: 3 ounces of dips; 3 ounces of salad; 6 ounces of meat or main entrée; 5 ounces of starch; and 11/2 pieces of dessert. These estimates can be used to calculate how much food will be needed. Think about adding “safety” items to the menu that can be pulled out in a pinch and don’t require much prep work. These can include cheese and crackers, extra bread, nuts, olives, or pretzels. Hosts who are overly concerned that guests may go overboard can tame portion sizes by hiring servers who can oversee buffet lines. Otherwise, serve guests plated meals directly from the kitchen, from which hosts can dole out the right amount of food to ensure everyone gets enough to eat.

Beef Roast With Dark Rum Sauce Makes 6 servings

1 teaspoon ground allspice 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1 beef rump roast or beef brisket (about 3 pounds) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup dark rum, divided 1/2 cup beef broth 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 whole bay leaves, broken in half 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/4 cup lime juice In a small bowl, combine allspice, salt, pepper, and cloves. Rub spices onto all sides of meat.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Sear beef on all sides, turning as it browns. Transfer to CrockPot® slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup rum, broth, garlic, and bay leaves. Cover; cook on low 1 hour. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/2 cup rum, brown sugar and lime juice, stirring well. Pour over roast. Continue cooking on low 4 to 6 hours for the rump roast (cook on high for 5 to 6 hours for brisket), or until beef is fork-tender. Baste beef occasionally with sauce. Remove and slice. Spoon sauce over beef to serve.

2019 Magazine 19

How to simplify holiday hosting on the day of the party


ome the holiday season, many people look forward to gatherings with family and friends. Such gatherings are often held in private homes, and that means someone must take on the task of hosting. There are many advantages to hosting holiday gatherings. Hosts won’t have to travel during a notoriously busy time of year to take to the roads and sky. Hosts also won’t have to book hotel rooms or arrange for other accommodations, saving them money and time during a season that tends to be expensive and packed with social engagements. As the day of their holiday parties draws near, hosts can take several steps to make the day of the party easier, allowing them to spend more time with their family and friends.

Choose the right menu. The right menu can go a long way toward making hosting easier on the day of the party. Various factors, such as food allergies and the size of the guest list, must be considered when planning a holiday menu. As hosts scour cookbooks for the right foods, look for recipes that don’t require everything to be done on the day of the party. Prep work tends to take as much, if not more, time as cooking the foods. So look for recipes that allow you to do most, if not all, of that prep work in the days leading up to the party. Clean the common areas. Guests likely won’t be spending time in every room of your house during the party. So when it

comes time to clean, focus on the common areas where guests will be. Living rooms, dining areas and restrooms should garner the bulk of your attention when cleaning. If guests might be wandering outdoors, make sure leaves and dirt have been cleaned off of patios and decks. Plan a playlist in advance. Expect to be busy on the day of the party, even if the party is catered or all the food prep was done long before the first guest arrived. Because you will be busy welcoming guests, you likely won’t have time to set the musical tone for the party, so do so in advance of the big day. If you want to stick to holiday music, many streaming apps offer various stations that play holiday music exclusively. Simply choose a station you like and then begin playing music when the first guest arrives. Make a list of supplies and check it twice. About two weeks before the party, sit down and make a thorough list of everything you expect to need. Include food, beverages, dining needs (i.e., plates and silverware), and entertainment. A couple of weeks before the party, purchase items that won’t spoil, such as beverages like water, soda, wine, and beer and extra utensils if necessary. Doing so saves time during your grocery store trip the week of the party. Holiday hosts can take several steps in the days leading up to their parties to make hosting easier once guests arrive.

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2019 Magazine

Eco-friendly gift options Purchase experiential gifts When making holiday shopping lists, think of gifts that offer experiences rather than material goods. Gifts that involve experiences, such as going to a sporting event or attending a play or musical, decrease reliance on wrapping paper. Such gifts also reduce clutter in the recipient’s house and conserve the resources otherwise used to manufacture alternative items that would have been purchased. Experiential gifts that also tap into environmental pursuits, such as touring with an animal rescue group, or accommodations at a carbonneutral hotel can be an added bonus. Opt for locally made gifts


he saying “the more the merrier” certainly applies during the holiday season. But during a season of big gifts, extra food and travel, “more” can exact a heavy toll on the environment. According to Stanford University, Americans generate 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve than during the rest of the year. While no one wants to take anything away from the spirit of holiday season, everyone can take steps to make the holidays more eco-friendly. In fact, there are various eco-friendly gifts that can make great presents and benefit the environment at the same time.

Select gifts made by local artisans or companies that operate domestically. This cuts down on the carbon emissions from having to ship products from long distances or even overseas. Give climate-friendly stocking stuffers Companies like Cool Effect offer gifts for those looking to offset carbon emissions through clever funding. People can buy and offer gifts that correlate to packages like Costa Rican wind power or the

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“poo package,” which funds biogas digesters for family farms in India that capture methane emissions from cattle dung. Get crafty Gifts from the kitchen or ones made by the giver can be crafted from sustainable materials. They also show how you care by taking the time to customize a gift for the recipient. Avoid gag or useless gifts Select gifts only with utility in mind. Skip purchases that are made only to beef-up the look of presents under the tree or to make it appear that gifting was more generous. Items that a person cannot or will not use will ultimately be relegated to the trash, which is wasteful. Wrap in reusable materials Fancy wrapping paper certainly looks nice, but choose other materials that can be reused. Look for decorative tins, boxes, fancy gift bags, and other items that can be reused for years to come. Sustainability is possible during a season of excess when gift givers shop and wrap gifts with the environment in mind.

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Christmas tree recycling Christmas tree tips and tricks


hristmas trees are an iconic symbol of the holiday season. Whether they are personal trees nestled in the corner of a living room for families to enjoy or towering evergreens serving as the focal point of a town square, Christmas trees are a wonder to behold. Many people have fond memories of time spent around the Christmas tree sharing gifts and family traditions. Live trees and their pine-like aroma can be especially nostalgic trees to include in holiday plans. The National Christmas Tree Association says that approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States every year. North American trees hail from all 50 states and areas of Canada. While freshly cut trees can be particularly beautiful and aromatic additions to the season, they require a bit more work than artificial trees in order to remain beautiful and thrive throughout the holiday season. Maintenance can help keep Christmas trees as perfect as possible. · Even though it is tempting to buy a real tree as early as possible, their shelf life is limited even with the best care. Dural Christmas Tree Farm advises that, under the best conditions, a real tree should last up to four weeks before drying out. · Consider the needles when looking for a real tree. Pull your hand toward your body along the branches. If many needles fall off, the tree is past its peak. · Think about the room in which the tree will be located. Leave at least 6 inches between the tip of the tree and the ceiling, accounting for the height of the tree stand as well. · If needle retention is a goal, the Scotch pine variety has the best needle retention and a high survival rate, lending to its popularity, offers Precision Tree and Landscape. Douglas fir and balsam fir are other durable trees. · If possible, buy a freshly cut tree from a reputable nursery or tree farm, advises The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Many pre-cut trees sold elsewhere were likely cut weeks before and may not be fresh. · Cut the bottom of the tree trunk before bringing it home to facilitate the uptake of fresh water daily. Trees can absorb as much as a gallon of water in a day, so make sure the tree gets fresh water every day. · Keep trees away from as many heat sources as possible and away from direct sunlight to prolong longevity. · According to Karabin Farms in Connecticut, to make a Christmas tree last longer, boil a gallon of water and then dissolve one cup of sugar in the water. Allow to cool. After freshly cutting the trunk, pour in the warm sugar water. Continue to add fresh, cool, plain water to the tree stand afterward. Once needles begin to fall off with frequency, the tree is reaching its prime. Remove it so it does not become a fire hazard.

2019 Magazine 21


hen choosing a real Christmas tree for holiday celebrations, consumers should think about the many ways that trees can be repurposed after the holiday season. Some towns collect discarded trees to use them for various purposes. However, homeowners can get in on the action as well. The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers these great ideas for post-holiday tree use. · Prop up the tree near a bird feeder to provide another perch and shelter to birds that stick close to home in winter, such as chickadees and finches. · String the tree with various treats for birds and put it in a sheltered location. Ideas include homemade suet, cranberries and millet. · Mulch the tree and use it in the garden in the spring. · Use boughs to insulate perennials in the garden. · Keep some branches to use as kindling in a wood stove or fireplace, or as aromatic logs for next year’s yule fire. · Sink an old tree in a personal pond. Fish and tadpoles will live and lay eggs around this sheltered area. · Collect some pine needles and sew them into fabric packets to make scented sachets for closets or drawers. There are many imaginative ways to come up with handy uses for Christmas trees once the holiday season ends.


2019 Magazine

Keep safety in mind when decorating for the holidays


ecorations help make the holiday season a magical time of year. Stores are awash in color and twinkling lights, and similar imagery is on display in private homes. Designing holiday displays can be a great way for families to spend time together and kick off the celebration. In fact, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International, around 90 percent of Americans decorate their homes for the holidays. When trimming the tree and decorating this holiday season, families must keep safety in mind. A little planning and some precautionary measures can ensure displays are enjoyed all season long. Travelers Insurance offers the following holiday decorating safety tips. · Do not overload outlets. Plan displays according to the number and location of available outlets. · Never exceed the maximum number of light strands that can be attached together. · Use lights and products that have been tested for safety. Certification marks like UL,

ETL and CSA are from nationally recognized laboratories. · LED lights should be used whenever possible. Such lights consume less energy and run cooler than other bulbs. · The ESFI says candles start almost 50 percent of all decoration fires. Minimize the risk by using candles only when they can be monitored. Artificial candles can be used in place of real candles. · Check for freshness in live trees. A fresh tree will last longer and is less of a fire hazard than an old tree. · Place Christmas trees at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces and heaters. · Use decorations that are non-combustible or made from flame-resistant materials. · Pay attention to the age recommendations of decorations to see if they can be used in homes with young children. Some items, however common, are choking or strangulation hazards. · Avoid putting small, “mouth-sized”

decorations near the ground or on lower limbs of trees, where young children can easily reach them. · Exercise caution when hanging decorations at high heights. Make sure the ladder is secured and have a spotter who can hold the ladder and pass items up safely. · Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. · Exercise caution when decorating near power lines that extend to the house. · Keep hung stockings far away from open flames so they do not catch any errant embers. These are just a few suggestions for decorating a safely for the holiday season.

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2019 Home for the Holidays Magazine  

2019 Home for the Holidays Magazine