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Andrea Torri's

Andrea Torri Cell: 480-829-3460

Dear Friends,

It's that most wonderful time of the year! Snow is falling, carols are being sung, frenzied shoppers are out hunting for that perfect gift and families are coming home for the holidays! Set out the nativity, whip up some gingerbread, bust out your tutu and The Nutcracker Ballet! Join with us in a holiday cheer, Christmas time is here! This month in Welcome Home magazine learn to put on a spectacular light show that will be the pride of the neighborhood! Finally figure out how to get your home organized for the season and check out our nifty guide to gift giving that won't have you still hiding from your boss come spring because of a gifting faux pas! Last but not least, discover why Christmas stories are everyone's all time favorites. Merry Christmas and may your home be filled with joy and cheer this very special season! Please enjoy this issue of the magazine! Have a Very Merry December, and as always, Welcome Home!

Andrea Torri 480-829-3460

Welcome Home! Table of Contents Recipe And Design


A tasty recipe and a stylish home design how to.

How To Have A Merry Christmas: On A Budget


Need to downsize Christmas a little this year? No problem!

Awaken Your Christmas Spirit!


Get in the mood for the season with these cute tips.

Christmas Lights


Gift Ideas Seven super important gift giving dos and don’ts!

12 - 15

A Real Christmas Tree Is The Natural Choice. The reasons that going natural is better for everyone!

16 - 17

Christmas Stories: What makes these classic tales so popular?

18 - 19

Products To Love!

Hot trends, technological wonders of tomorrow and so much more!

City Spotlight Flagstaff, AZ. Winter wonderland in the southwest!


All pictures courtesy of unless otherwise noted. Thanks to Wikipedia for Random Fact information and aid.

Editor in Chief - Phly Jambor

The ultimate way to decorate your home!

10 - 11


Welcome Home is for entertainment purposes only. This magazine is not intended to solicit other brokersʼ listings. If you are currently working with another broker, please disregard this information.

Businesses That Make A Difference Burt’s Bees, making a natural difference in the world.

The information provided in this publication of Welcome Home or on any website maintained by U.S. Cybertek, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, agents, representatives, licensors, licensees or employees (collectively Publisher) is intended as a general guide illustrating common methods of common practices, and the publisher makes no warranty or guarantee whatsoever of the safety, effectiveness, or other characteristic of any methods or products described herein. Neither does the Publisher assume any liability for information published in any website or other publication to which reference may be made herein. Readers are cautioned to review and comply with all written instructions, safety bulletins, and other materials provided in connection with any of the products mentioned herein and all products used in connection with any of the methods described. Neither Published nor any of its subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, agents, representatives, licensors, licensees or employees shall in any case be liable to you or anyone else for any loss or injury or any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special punitive or similar damages arising out of your use of or failure to use any of the methods and/ or products described in this publication or any other publication or websites to which reference may be made herein. Publisher disclaims all warranties, and any warranty or guarantee of safety, merchantability, or fitness for any particular purpose lies solely with the manufacture(s) of any product described or recommended or used used in connection with any methods described or recommended.

Recipe and Design Red Velvet Peppermint Cake Fish Bobber Christmas Wreath

Yield: Makes 1 two layer cake

Make this clever Christmas wreath from fish bobbers for your favorite angler.

Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • • • •

1 (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix 3 egg whites 1 1/3 cups buttermilk 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 (9-ounce) package yellow cake mix* 1/2 cup buttermilk 1 large egg 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring 1 teaspoon cider vinegar Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting Garnishes: Holiday Trees, 6 (5-inch) red and white peppermint candy canes, crushed; 12 (5-inch) green candy canes, broken; 12 round peppermint candies

Preparation: 1. Beat first 4 ingredients according to cake mix package directions. 2. Beat yellow cake mix and next 6 ingredients according to package directions. Spoon red batter alternately with white batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Swirl batter gently with a knife. 3. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks. 4. Spread Peppermint Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. (Cake may be chilled up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month.) Garnish, if desired. Serve within 2 hours. Southern Living, DECEMBER 1998

What You Need: •

12-inch wire wreath form

100-light-string of white lights

Spool of silver craft wire (24 gauge)

Assorted bobbers (These are approximate numbers depending on how they are arranged):

1/2 inch (24), 3/4 inch (18), 1 inch (30), 1 1/4 inch (42), 1 1/2 inch (6), 1 3/4 inch (6) and 2 inches (8).

Needle-nose pliers, side wire cutters

3 yards of 3-inch-wide red-white-and-green striped ribbon

Instructions: 1. Wrap wreath form with the string of lights, leaving the plug free. 2. Fold 6-inch pieces of craft wire and hook bobber at fold. Place largest bobbers first, second largest next and so on. 3. Wire the pieces to the wreath form, twisting wires to snag bobber and adjusting and positioning lights between bobbers. Cut wires and tuck ends. 4. Fill in with small bobbers and pull lights into place until wreath is full. 5. Make a large bow and add to the top of the wreath. Add a hanger wire to the back of the wreath. Courtesy of Better Homes and

How To Have A

Merry Christmas

On A Budget

With many Americans now facing greater financial challenges than they were a year ago, the upcoming holiday season may leave us with more feelings of dread than excitement. After all, the holidays are an expensive time of year.  There are gifts to purchase, meals to prepare, and family members to host and entertain.  In spite of all this, it is still possible to have a wonderful holiday season while sticking to a budget.  We'll explain how by breaking things down into the five main areas where our holiday dollars are spent. Gifts: Christmas gift shopping often takes up the largest part of a family's holiday budget.  If you want to save money on gifts, planning is key.  First, create a budget, outlining how much you have to spend and what you want to buy for each person.  Next, watch the sale ads in your local newspaper and check prices online.  Don't forget to keep an eye out for discount coupons or rebate offers that can also add up to additional savings.  Buying online is also a good way to save gas money and valuable time, and it can cut down on impulse purchases, too, since you won't be at a mall, tempted by lots of other things you don't need.  Another great money-saving idea is to make homemade gifts for everyone.  If you aren't very crafty, remember that your time is also a very valuable gift.  Coupon books for services like babysitting, handyman repairs, or yard work are also well received and appreciated. Food: There are many ways you can save money on food at the holidays.  If you are hosting a large dinner, consider making it a potluck where each person contributes a dish to the meal.  This allows everyone to share in the cost and also creates a varied meal where many families' specialties can be sampled.  Another way you can save money on large family meals is by breaking tradition.  Perhaps everyone would enjoy chicken or pasta on Christmas Eve rather than ham or beef tenderloin.  Another alternative to an expensive dinner is to do a low-key brunch on Christmas morning after opening gifts.  This can be a refreshing change for family members who are traveling and need to get on the road early.  If traveling is in your plans, be sure to pack some healthy snacks and drinks for the car.  This will cut down on the expense of fast food at gas stations and restaurants. Entertainment: It's usually easy to cut back on spending for entertainment, if you simply take advantage of free family activities.  For example, take your children to see Santa Claus at the mall, or if you don't have kids, go watch other children tell Santa what they want for Christmas.  If you live in a cold weather climate, participate in outdoor activities like sledding at the park, ice skating on a frozen pond, or building a snowman in the backyard.  Instead of going to the movies, just watch some holiday programs that are broadcast on television during the month of December, or better yet, attend a free holiday play or concert at your local church, community center, or school. Decorations: The best way to save money on holiday decorations is by making do with what you already have.  If you simply must buy some different items, consider buying used decorations from garage sales, auctions, or online sites like Craigslist.  If you can make yourself wait until after Christmas, stock up for the following year by taking advantage of post-Christmas sales.  On December 26 and after, most holiday items can be bought for half or a quarter of the original price. Contributions: Even on the sparsest budget, it is still possible to give back to the community at the holidays.  Many charities and organizations value your time even more than a monetary contribution.  Consider donating some gently used clothing or other items to a homeless shelter, or volunteering your time to serve dinner at a soup kitchen.  Other options might include answering phones at a call center or ringing a bell to solicit donations at a local grocery store or mall.  These are all great ways to give back without dipping into your bank account. With all of these suggestions, we hope you'll realize that it's not impossible to stick to a budget at the holidays.  With a little careful planning and a few minor changes in your activities, you will hopefully find yourself at the end of the season with plenty of good memories, a warm feeling in your heart, and some money left in your pocket. Written by Ellen Bell. Courtesy of

Awaken Your Christmas Spirit! Christmas is a time of year where we get together with our friends, family, and loved ones. Houses are lit up with beautiful lights, a gorgeous tree decorated with family creations and memories, the house smelling of turkey, and the sounds of laughter and great conversation. Christmas can be such a warm time of year, even when it is cold outside. For some however, the holiday season can be a difficult time, depending on their current life situation and mindset. Some may view the holiday season as stressful and expensive in which can create negative emotions in a time where positive emotions are needed. During the winter season, for most, is a time of cold weather, lack of color, a reduction in Vitamin D, therefore an increase of depression can be more likely. Christmas is a time where society brings light and warmth in the cold months to raise spirits higher. The lights people string up on their houses bring color to the outdoors, the gifts are a reminder to still continue giving for the purpose of stimulating them during the colder months when they otherwise cannot spend the time outdoors that they are normally accustomed to.

10 Ways to get in the Christmas Spirit: 1. Go sit on Santa's knee 2. Go tobogganing and bring some hot chocolate and marshmallows. 3. Make a gingerbread house 4. Make a Christmas Ornament 5. Donate to your favorite Christmas charity and GoodWill 6. Go to a Christmas play 7. Play Christmas music in your car 8. Make your own Christmas cards 9. Wear Christmas colors 10. Wish everyone you see a Happy Holiday During the Christmas season, do what you can do to lift your spirits and enjoy the true meaning of the holiday. Allow yourself to immerse yourself in the true meaning of Christmas. May you all have a wonderful and enjoyable holiday. Written by Cheryl Wilms. Courtesy of

Christmas Lights The Ultimate Way To Decorate Your Home! Holiday lights; we have all seen them and most of us have used them before. When it comes to Christmas lights, we often associate those lights with Christmas trees. While Christmas lights are most commonly used to light Christmas trees, did you know that they can also be used for much more? If you are planning on decorating your home for the holiday this year, I suggest you to examine what else Christmas lights can be used for. After a close inspection examination, you will likely see that lights can be used for a lot more than you may have originally thought.

As previously mentioned, when it comes to holidayChristmas lights, we often associate Christmas lights with Christmas trees. This is because most individuals decorate their Christmas trees with holiday lights. What is nice about using holiday lights on a Christmas tree is that the lights come in a variety of different sizes and styles. It is possible to buy Christmas lights with small light bulbs, as well as large ones. Traditional holiday lights come white in color or with a combination of all different colors. In recent years, the demand of different colored lights has skyrocketed. You can now buy single colored Christmas lights or lights with a specific color combination. These types of lights are ideal for those who are wanting to theme their Christmas tree. Although many individuals choose to use holiday lights for their Christmas tree, as mentioned above, there are other uses for them as well. One of those ways is for decorating the outside of your house. Online and in many retail stores across America, you can easily find Christmas lights that are designed for outside use, especially around a house. These type of lights are often referred to as icicle holiday lights. Icicle Christmas lights allow the lights to drape off the side of a home. While it is possible to find multicolored outdoor holiday lights, you will find that they are most commonly sold in the traditional white color.

This idea is often loved by teenagers and other children; many enjoy the bright lights and colors. Decorating your home's bedrooms is a great way to bring the Christmas cheer into a room that you may have otherwise not decorated. As nice as it is to decorate your home for Christmas, you may also want to decorate your office or your workspace. Keep in mind that not everyone celebrates Christmas|>Unfortunately, not everyone celebrates Christmas. This may be a problem, when it comes to decorating your office. However, you may still, in many circumstances, use holiday lights to decorate your office. In most cases, you will find that it is the items that are exclusively Christmas that cause the problems, not the lights themselves. Therefore, if your supervisors allow it, you could easily hang Christmas lights around your office walls or along the sides of your work desk. Isn't it amazing all of the different ways that you can use holiday lights to decorate your home or even your office? What is even more amazing is the above mentioned examples are just a few of the numerous ways that you can use holiday lights to bring the holiday spirit into your home or office.

In addition to decorating the outside of the outside of your house with Christmas lights, you can also decorate the landscape outside of your home. A number of homeowners, each year, decorate the trees outside their home, often exactly like their indoor Christmas tress. Many times, these trees are relatively small in size; therefore, the same types of Christmas lights that can be used on a regular Christmas tree can also, sometimes, be used on an outdoor tree. Decorating the small trees in your yard is a great way to bring a touch of Christmas to your block. You can also use Christmas lights to decorate any one of the rooms that can be found inside your home. There are many individuals who hang Christmas lights along the top of their walls. This is a great way to bring extra Christmas cheer into the room that your Christmas tree is in, as well as other rooms. In fact, you can even use Christmas lights to decorate one of your home's bedrooms. Written by Dana Burnett. Courtesy of


s a e i ft I d

7 Gift Giving Do's and Don'ts Just as a well planned gift can patch up a festering relationship; an ill-planned gift can puncture it. Here are the seven golden gift giving do's and don'ts that, if followed, will ensure a mutually pleasurable gift-giving experience. The Do's - gift ideas worth considering: 1. If you are intending to give gifts within an organization, then DO spend some time catching up on the company's giftgiving policy. By the same token, if you are giving gifts to members of a certain community, then DO find out what's acceptable within that community and what's not - example: gifting a bottle of Champaign to your Muslim neighbor is not the smartest of gift ideas. 2. When coming up with gift ideas, it's imperative to thoroughly think through what you should gift while keeping the recipient in mind. Try to make the gift as personalized as possible by catering to the hobbies and interests of the recipient. 3. Any of the gift ideas that promote sharing are a definite DO. There is nothing like a gift that can be shared among office colleagues or family members - example: plants. 4. Wrapping and presentation is everything. A very expensive and thoughtful gift can lose considerable value if its not packed and presented the way it should. On the other hand, a less expensive gift can appreciate in value in the eyes of the recipient if it's packed and presented well. In order to add some icing to the proverbial cake and to take this gift idea further, try throwing in something extra to complement the gift - example: if you have bought someone a book, buy him a fancy bookmark as well. 5. Donating to charity on the recipient's behalf is a definite DO. However, this gift idea should come with a pinch of precaution - do not donate to a charity which the recipient probably believes is a non-worthy cause. Before donating the money, DO a little digging to find out what kind of charities the recipient believes in. 6. Throw in the gift's receipt along with the gift. This is a controversial gift idea but the reality is that most people prefer to be able to exchange a gift rather than to be stuck with something they don't like and have no use for. 7. Last but not least, if you are giving gifts within the organization then DO keep the whole process discreet. Even if you are giving everyone one a gift, it's always a good idea to keep it hush-hush - it keeps you safe from lethal gossip circles. The theory is also applicable if you are giving gifts to families - even though you maybe close to one or two members of the family, it's always advisable to gift something to everyone in the family.

The Don'ts - gift ideas worth staying away from: 1. In an office setting, don't gift something to someone (especially the boss) just because he/she is your senior and is responsible for your performance appraisal. Yes, gifts are a social lubricant but it should not be (mis)used to get into someone's good books. Historically gifts have been used as an expression of gratitude and appreciation - it's a good idea to try to keep it that way. 2. Don't make the fatal mistake of thinking that the recipient would share your taste in something (like perfume, clothes and books). 3. Do not gift items that make religious, cultural or sexual statements. Gifting lingerie to your female co-worker is probably the worst gift idea of all. 4. Do not feel obligated to return an outrageously expensive gift with an equally outrageously expensive one - this is even truer if you can't afford to do so. 5. Do not postpone buying the gift until the last moment. Think in advance and give yourself time to buy the right gifts for each person. 6. Do not go for the "one-gift-for-all" strategy. This strategy will fail probably eleven out of ten times. It will fail in an office setting and as well as in a family setting. 7. Don't ignore your finances. Giving an over priced gift will not only throw you off balance financially, but it will also send the wrong message to the recipient. An expensive gift to your manager could be perceived as a bribe and an expensive gift to friends and family will put pressure on them to reciprocate the expensive gift. Obviously a gift should not be too cheap either - we all know what kind of message that sends. In summary, the gift-giving process should be a personal one and relegating it to a mechanical process is a disservice to the gift-giving tradition. As Kahlil Gibran beautifully put it, "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give". Written by Ray Horner. Courtesy of

A Real Christmas Tree is the Natural Choice

Each holiday season, shoppers find themselves confronted with a difficult choice: celebrate with a real or plastic tree. What most people don't realize is that the best choice has always been the traditional and natural choice, a real Christmas tree. Real Christmas trees are a benefit to the environment from the time they are planted until after the holiday season when they can be recycled. While they're growing, real Christmas trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen. This helps prevent the earth-warming greenhouse effect. Every acre of Christmas trees grown produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people. In

the United States there are approximately 1 million acres of growing Christmas trees; that means that 18 million people a day are supplied with oxygen thanks to Christmas trees. The farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts. Often, Christmas trees are grown on soil that doesn't support other crops. Artificial trees are a petroleum based product that consume vast resources during fabrication. A burden to the environment, artificial trees aren't biodegradable and will remain in land-fills for centuries after disposal. The average life span of an artificial tree is only six years. Real Christmas trees, on the other hand, are easily reused and recycled.

• •

Christmas trees are biodegradable - the trunk and branches can be used as mulch for gardens, parks or in animal stalls. The mulch provides a protect barrier for the roots of other plants and vegetation while preventing weeds from growing. The mulch then decomposes, providing the nutrients plants need to thrive. Mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. Check with your local department of public works for information. Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially at beaches and on river beds. Sunk into private fish ponds trees make excellent refuge and feeding area for fish. Before recycling, Christmas trees can be used to make bird feeders, adding color and excitement to the winter garden. Utilize orange slices, suet, and seed to attract the birds. They will come for the food and stay for the shelter in the branches.

The practice of using a living tree to celebrate the holidays is gaining in popularity. Living trees have their roots in tact and can be re-planted outside following the holiday.

WHICH TREE IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Balsam Fir As a Christmas tree, balsam fir has several desirable properties. It has a dark-green appearance, long-lasting needles, and attractive form. It also retains its pleasing fragrance. Douglas-Fir The needles are dark green or blue green, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, soft to the touch and radiate out in all directions from the branch. They have a sweet fragrance when crushed. Nationally, it remains one of the most popular Christmas tree species. Scotch Pine Scotch Pine is an introduced species which has been widely planted for the purpose of producing Christmas trees. As a Christmas tree, it is known or its dark green foliage and stiff branches that are well suited for decorating with both light and heavy ornaments. It has excellent needle retention characteristics and holds up well.

Norway Spruce For Christmas trees, overall color of Norway spruce is fair to excellent, but needle retention is considered poor unless the trees are cut fresh and kept properly watered. It is readily identified by its dark green needles and drooping branchlets. Trees have dark green crown with a triangular shape. Needles are 1/2-1 inch long, and sharp or somewhat blunt at the tip. White Pine For Christmas trees, sheared trees are preferred, although some people feel shearing results in trees too dense for larger ornaments. Needle retention is good to excellent. White Pine has very little aroma, but, conversely, is reported to result in fewer allergic reactions than do some of the more aromatic species. Fraser Fir The combination of form, needle retention, dark blue-green color, pleasant scent and excellent shipping characteristics has led to Fraser fir being a most popular Christmas tree species. Fraser fir is a uniformly pyramid-shaped tree. Needles are 1/2 to one inch long, have a broad circular base, and are usually dark green on the upper surface and lighter on the lower surface. Blue Spruce Blue spruce are pretty trees that can grow very large! The bark is thin and gray, with narrow furrows. The crown is cone shaped in young trees, becoming circular in older trees.The leaves are needle-like, long, stout, with the tree’s colors ranging from dull gray-green to bright grey-ish blue. The needles are unique, having several lines of pores and the tip is very sharp. These are very pretty, but not ideal for families with young children. White Fir As a Christmas tree, white fir has good foliage color, a pleasing natural shape and aroma, and good needle retention. Needles are usually 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch long, pointed or notched at the tip, bluish-green when young turning dull green with age.


In selecting a tree, make sure that the "handle" at the bottom is long enough to allow the trunk to fit into you tree stand. Otherwise, it will be necessary to remove large branches near the base, which could ruin its appearance. Make a fresh cut to remove a 1/4" to 1" thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Make the cut perpendicular to the stem axis. Don't cut the trunk at an angle, or into a v-shape, which makes it far more difficult to hold the tree in the stand and also reduces the amount of water available to the tree. If you use a "center pin" stand, make sure the hole is drilled in the stem after it is trimmed Once home, place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can go 6-8 hours after cutting the trunk and still take up water. Don't bruise the cut surface or get it dirty. Trees can be temporarily stored for several days in a cool location. Place the freshly cut trunk in a bucket that is kept full of water. Use a stand that fits your tree. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed. Keep trees away from sources of heat (fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, direct sunlight). Lowering the room temperature will slow the drying process, resulting in less water consumption each day.

Drilling a hole in the base of the trunk does not improve water uptake.

Applying film-forming anti-transpairants to the tree does not have a significant effect on the rate of moisture loss from the tree. These products supposedly block the evaporation of water from the surface of foliage, but in reality they have little effect.

Adding water-holding gels to the stand can actually reduce the amount of water in the stand that is available to the tree.

Do not use additives in the water, including floral preservatives, commercial tree preservatives, molasses, sugar, bleach, soft drinks, aspirin, honey, and other concoctions. Clean water is all that is needed to maintain freshness.

Use of miniature lights will produce much less heat and reduce drying of the tree.

Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set.

Do not overload electrical circuits.

Always turn off the lights when leaving the house or when going to bed.

After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house. Go to and type in your zip code to find a recycling program near you.

Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove of fireplace.

DID YOU KNOW? Over half of a Christmas tree’s weight is water. So, be sure to give it lots to drink during the holiday season. Try to maintain one quart of water per inch of stem diameter in your tree stand – any temperature is fine – and check to be sure that the water is in contact with the stem.

Written by Brenns Hartmann. Courtesy of

Christmas Stories: What Makes Them So Popular?

Christmas Stories are always fascinating, but we hardly try to find out why we have so many stories on Christmas. Elizabeth Harrison's "Little Gretchen and the Wooden Shoe" or "A Christmas Star" by Katherine Pyle gives some of the religious flavor of Christmas. What the stories are actually about? These are not always religious. The mystical power of mistletoe has its origin in the legend of Goddess Frigga and her son Balder. The story unfolds a very important Christian theme, the theme of love and well being of all. One cannot really label the connection as "pagan" as the spirit is highly Christian but the Goddess was a mythical persona.. There are fabulous stories relating the birth of Christ which attract the children most. Mario and Pablo, the two poor brothers and sisters decided to decorate the bed of the baby Jesus

with weeds as they could not afford expensive gifts for Him. The miracle happened when the weeds turn out to be red star shaped flowers. The legend really does not have the name of the flower in it. The name comes from another story. Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first ambassador to Mexico bought the red star shaped flower to U.S. Thus we get the name from this person. The legend is a fine blending of a myth and a reality. The legend of candy cone is highly interesting and secular in spirit. One can trace back its origin in Cologne Cathedra where children were not paying attention to choirmaster on a particular day. The choirmaster gave them long, white sugar candy stick in order to keep them quiet. He knew that giving out chocolates and candies in the church was sacrilegious and so he gave them the shapes of shepherd's cane who went to worship the Christ on the day He was born. Here comes the religious significance of the candy cones. Now the white and red J-shaped candies get always associated with Christmas and the Christian religion as 'J' stands for "Jesus". Many stories evolve round the helping spirit of Christmas. The little migrating birds got shelter from spruce, pine and juniper tree in the midst of frost and snow. The Frost King punished willow, oak and bird trees for their selfish attitude and rewarded the kind trees with green leaves for the whole year and this is the legend of Evergreen Trees. The Christmas spirit is best felt in the legend on nutcracker. It is about the girl Clara and her magical mysterious nutcracker. There is a fight with the Evil and ultimately the Nutcracker Prince takes her to the magic land, the land of hope, beauty and fancy. The ballet of Alexander Drumas Pere has a positive ending in tune with the Christmas spirit- Clara wakes up on Christmas Day and finds herself surrounded by her family. It is the time to be with your closed ones. Mostly the stories have child characters. Dickens's A , Christmas Carols carry the secular spirit of a festival and 'Toinette and the Elves' by Susan Coolidge give us fascinating stories on the event. Some are directly related to the birth of Jesus and some were never a part of the event but later on some religious significance has been added to them to make them apt for the Christmas spirit.. So, what was once sacrilegious now it is a part of the religious custom to have candy cones on Christmas. The stories are perhaps the best tools to convey in a simple language what Christmas stands for . Birth of Christ is just an event and the legends are there to explain why Christ was bought in this world of sin. Hence, fight with Evil and vanity is a common theme for most of the stories. The stories are quite interesting with the essence of mystery, magic, miracle and fancy that they definitely have an universal appeal. They are basically good stories with real characters fighting their bad luck and ultimately meeting their good fortune. The readers get the satisfaction as poetic justice is always done .The world has been divided into black and white or evil and good. There is no modern gray characters and so less complex and easy to understand. Thus they are perfect children stories till date. Why do we really believe all these? Perhaps it is because of the satisfaction we get when the evils are punished or we get the hope of meeting the dream world of Clara in the nutcracker legend. Even if we fail to give a new world to the children we can at least give them Oliver Miller's "Christmas in the Alley".

Written by Sean Carter. Courtesy of

Products To Love In December



There are not too many people in the world that are gingerbread house fanatics, but for those that are out there (myself included) this book is an absolute must have! Tired of constructing the same old little house year, after year? How about a post-modern city loft or a victorian mansion? This book has the blueprints for success and the savvy know how to help you pull off your best gingerbread house ever! Please click here for more information.




Reviewed by Rural Jungle Testing

The Polar Express G-Gauge Train Set by Lionel is the perfect way for families to relive the magical scenes of the hit movie together. Three Polar Express figures are included (conductor, boy, and hobo) and the Observation car has an “disappearing hobo” feature. With a touch of a button, you can hear ‘All aboard for the Polar Express’. Easy-to-assemble G-Gauge track creates a 55” x 72” oval. Set includes: Steam locomotive and tender with details never before seen! passenger coach with two opening doors; observation car with “disappearing hobo” feature and opening door; three Polar Express figures; 12 curved and 4 straight track pieces; RC remote controller; 6 C batteries; 2 AA batteries. Please click here for more


Delight the family this Holiday season with a traditional Christmas Classic: Miracle on 34th street! Six year old Susan has doubts childhood's most enduring miracle Santa Clause. Her mother told her the "secret" about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn't expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department stare Santa who's convinced he's the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all - something to believe in. Give you loved ones the gift of believing this year! Please click here for more information.

Products To Love In December Make your yard the talk of the neighborhood this holiday season by adding in something amazing! Animated Lighted Peanuts Train measures over 13 feet wide. This Christmas Holiday Decoration will delight Young & Old alike. Peanuts appeals to every generation. Happiness is ... The Peanuts Gang! Please click here for more information.

Always wanted that infamous leg lamp from A Christmas Story? Here’s you chance! This Leg Lamp has a sleek attractive curve and design to the leg. It also show cases a golden gallery shade with black fringe, a sexy fishnet stocking, and an elegant stiletto heel. Sure to be the center piece of any front room window. The leg and socket under the lampshade light up independently or together and are controlled by one 3-way switch.Please click here for more information.

Rudolph the reindeer is dashing to deliver your best holiday wishes to friends, family and your business associates. Presented in a "Dashingly Delicious!" gift box, just open the lid to reveal the gourmet assortment of tasty treats tucked inside. They'll enjoy premium Alaskan Smoked Salmon, Brie Cheese Spread, Peppercorn Crackers, Tomato Basil Cheese Biscuits, crunchy Smoked Almonds, decadent Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Mint Snowflakes, White Chocolate Dipped Snowmen, Reindeer Gingerbread Cookies, traditional Shortbread Cookies, and Holiday Cocoa Mix. Each gift box is hand crafted with attention to detail, tied with ribbon and includes a personalized gift card message form you to convey your best wishes. Please click here for more information.

City Spotlight

Flagstaff, AZ Flagstaff, Arizona is a northern town that boasts year-round cooler temperatures than the Phoenix Valley. It's for this reason that Arizonans and other visitors flock to hotels in Flagstaff all year long to take in the sights, sounds, events and a healthy dose of college-town charm. Spring and summer in Flagstaff are a beautiful time of year. In springtime the temperatures range from the high-50s and 60s during the day to wonderfully chilly lows in the evenings. In summer average highs are in the mid 70s to 80s and evening lows are in the 40s and 50s. Both spring and summer are a great time of year to check out Flagstaff's outdoor activities like hiking, biking, hiking, Grand Canyon tours and, of course, walking around the quaint downtown area.   The fall boasts some amazing fall foliage in Flagstaff and nearby in Sedona's Oak Creek Canyon. Lots of visitors leave their Flagstaff hotels early in the morning to take a long, leisurely drive through town and then on to Sedona. The trees in Oak Creek Canyon are among the most beautiful in the country at this time of year; putting on quite a show in breathtaking golds, reds and more.   Winter is a wonderful time to visit Flagstaff because of all the lovely snow! Lots of Arizonans come up to the area just to catch a glimpse of the white stuff for a day. Others hole up in one of many hotels in Flagstaff to spend a few days playing in t powder either on the nearby ski slopes or just tooling around town. And there are plenty of great spots to warm up after a cold day in the snow. The Beaver Street Brewery is a great spot to grab a hot soup or a micro-brewed beer and relax. If cold weather suits your tastes, you'll definitely love this town in winter. Written by Asha Patel, courtesy of

Businesses That Make A Difference

We've worked hard to create products that are honest and authentic, just like us. They reflect the culture that really exists within

our walls — not flashy or fancy, but highly dedicated to doing the right thing for our brand and our loyal consumers. Burt's Bees is a company that cares about its consumers, the environment and the community and, equally as important, we care about each other.

This culture of caring drives our core values of steadfast commitment to The Greater Good, harmonious tension, passionate teamwork and embracing change. It also drives our everyday behaviors and activities. In the stewardship of our brand and the environment, we set high standards, build for the future and never compromise quality. We are dedicated to a debate and decide process, where we confront issues head on, challenge each other constructively and resolve issues amicably. We embrace a can-do attitude where we all roll up our sleeves to pitch in and take ownership, break the mold and celebrate action. And an incredible passion for people exists here, where we always give others the benefit of the doubt, celebrate excellence every day and invest in our growth.

Our culture of caring also influences how we re-enforce our values through our commitment to

health and the environment, our development and recruiting activities, how we measure and reward employees' performance and how we communicate and celebrate our achievements. Check out to find out more.

Random Facts

This month's random fact is one that probably all of us have done at some point or another, but just never really gave much thought to. What is this mysterious thing? Why a snow angel of course! A snow angel is a human-made depression formed in an area of snow in the shape of an angel. Making snow angels is a common childhood game that most (if not all) of us have indulged in at some point in our lives. If you have not, well, it's never too late!

The creation of the snow angel is a simple process. The first step is to find an undisturbed plane of snow. The next step is to lie supine, spread-eagled in the center of the snow. The limbs are then swept back and forth, creating a trough through the snow. When it is finished, the snow angel should have the appearance of an angel, the movement of the arms having formed wings, and that of the legs having formed a gown.

A few interesting facts about snow angels are: In March of 2007, Guinness World Records confirmed that North Dakota holds the world record for the most snow angels made simultaneously in one place. The record breaking event occurred February 17, 2007 when 8,962 snow angels were created by people waving their arms while lying in the snow covering the state Capitol grounds in Bismarck. Previously, the record was held by Michigan Tech University with 3,784 students, locals, and alumni making snow angels on the school football field.

Also did you know that making a snow angel to celebrate a touchdown in American football is not allowed and can be penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct. Wes Welker was fined $10,000 for his snow angel at the Gillette Stadium in 2008. On November 25, 1993 during the annual NFL Thanksgiving Classic football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins, Miami running back Keith Byars flopped down in the end zone after a 77-yard touchdown run and celebrated by making snow angels. The moral of this little tale? If the Pros can do it, you can too! So what are you waiting for? Go find some snow!

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