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It's that most wonderful time of the year! Snow is falling, 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 and get to singing along with Burl Ives! Join with us in a holiday cheer, Christmas time is finally here! This month in Welcome Home magazine learn the Do's and Don'ts for a stress-less holiday. Finally figure out how to keep your waistline in check at holiday parties so you are not sweating it come New Years! This year discover the tropical island delights awaiting you for Christmas. Last but not least, rediscover the 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with our delightfully modernized version. 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!

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Welcome Home! Table of Contents 4

Recipe And Design A tasty recipe and a stylish home design how to.

5 Christmas Do’s and Don’ts Set yourself up for success this holiday season. 6

Weight Loss During Christmas 3 strategies to keep your waistline trim.

8 In The Kitchen. Christmas favorite: Gingerbread Trees with Lemon Icing. 9 Health and Wellness. Swimming, make like a fish for a healthier life. 10

Top 10 American Christmas Traditions

12

The Remake Before Christmas

From cookies to stockings, and a few in between.

A slight modernization of the beloved classic. 16

Fruitcake Is Edible & Delicious. Who knew?

18

Christmas Vacations Tropical islands await for your Christmas pleasure!

20 Products To Love! Hot trends and technological wonders of tomorrow. 22 City Spotlight Aspen, CO - Winter fun in the beautiful mountains. 24 DIY Project - December Check out this avant garde project - Party Animal Cutlery! 25

Businesses That Make A Difference Falling Whistles: whistling for change and peace.

Welcome Home is for entertainment purposes only. The advise contained therein is not in anyway intended to substitute for that of trained professionals. Please read responsibly.

All pictures courtesy of sxc.hu or bing.com unless otherwise noted. Thanks to Wikipedia for Random Fact information and aid.

Editor in Chief - Phly Jambor 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 Snowy Chocolate Baby Cakes

Pinecone Gnome Ornaments

What You Need:

Ingredients 1 (18.25-oz.) package devil's food cake mix 1 (16-oz.) container sour cream 1/2 cup milk 1/4 cup butter, melted $ 2 large eggs $ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Winter White Glaze Garnishes: red cinnamon candies, fresh mint leaves*

Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat first 6 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer just until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium, and beat 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured (12-cup) muffin pans. 2. Bake at 350° for 20 to 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes). 3. Arrange cakes upside down on a serving platter. Spoon Winter White Glaze over cakes (about 1 Tbsp. per cake), spreading with a spatula to thoroughly cover cakes. Garnish, if desired. Southern Living, DECEMBER 2008

• • • • • • •

Cream-color felt Wooden balls: three 1-inch-diameter and three 3/8-inch-diameter Three 1-1/2- to 2-inch-long pinecones Chenille stem: white Wool roving: light gray and/or curly white wool Hot-glue gun and glue sticks Sewing needle and cream thread

Instructions 1.

2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7.

8.

Cut three felt triangles measuring 3-3/4 inches on each side. Fold each triangle in half; blanket-stitch together long edges to make a hat. Cut three 1/2×6-inch felt strips for scarves and fringe the ends of each strip. Hot-glue a 1-inch-diameter wooden ball to the flattest end of each pinecone to make the gnome head. Hot-glue a 3/8-inch-diameter wooden ball to each 1inch ball for a nose. Cut the chenille stem into three 4-inch lengths; fold one end of each length over slightly. Bend stem at a right angle 1 inch from other end; hot-glue 1-inch angled portion to a head. Fold up a cuff on bottom edge of each hat. Hot-glue hats to the heads over the chenille stems. Wrap and hot-glue a scarf around each gnome's neck (you do not need to tie the scarves). Hot-glue a small piece of wool roving or curly wool to each gnome's cheeks and under the nose, as desired. Bend the hats as desired. Sew a short length of thread to the back of each hat for a hanging loop. Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.com


Christmas Dos and Don'ts for a Wonderful Holiday Experience

What's your plan for Christmas? Are you all set for the celebrations? Sure, you will be because Christmas bells have already started to jingle. But, if you have forgotten some vital points amidst the hustle and bustle of the festivities, then take a look at the tips for Christmas Dos and Don'ts given below. It will help you have a fun-filled merrymaking time with your family, friends, near and dear ones and colleagues. The tips are as follows:

However, do incorporate a few new recipes to earn that ‘Wow'.

Christmas Dos:

There are some things that you need to avoid for an experience of cheerful Christmas celebrations. If you are wondering what that can be, take a look at the points below:

With little attention and smart choice, you can make a difference. Whether it's about shopping, dinner, party or home decoration ideas, you can always give Christmas festivities a personalized touch. Some points which can enhance your joyous mood are listed below. These are: 1. Finish your Christmas shopping in advance: whatever you want to buy for yourself or others, make sure that it's done well in advance. It will give you ample of time to explore varieties and pick the best for everyone. 2. Attend Christmas parties: check out the list of parties that you think are worth visiting. Dress according to the occasion. Have a smiling face and interact with every person in a positive way. 3. Invite guests over dinner: send out Christmas invites to your guests for a dinner party at home. Keep your menu simple.

4. Go for theme decoration ideas: give your home a refurbished look. Think of a theme and decorate it accordingly. It will definitely add to the mood. Christmas Don'ts:

1. Don't go for complicated recipes: if you want to make your Christmas holiday simple yet fun, don't try to experiment too many things with dinner menu. Try to do something different, but keep in mind that it's not time consuming. 2. Don't opt for last minute party plans: parties should be well organized and planned. For this, you need to have sufficient time. If you couldn't come up with an idea before, don't bother yourself with last minute hassles. 3. Don't gossip with colleagues at office Christmas party: you might get carried away with Christmas party ambiance at office, but do remember to keep yourself away from any kind of gossip. Because, it can bear some unfavorable reverberations. Written by Christmas Carnivals. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


Weight Loss: 3 Strategies To Handle Holiday Parties The holiday party season is upon us! Last week I went to my first holiday party, not counting Thanksgiving of course. It got me thinking about what strategies I use to manage my eating during these “potentially” treacherous times. There are 3 basic strategies. First of all, you can “save up” calories by not eating all day, knowing there will be lots of goodies. This strategy is similar to the Weight Watchers™ point system, where you save points and use them whenever you want. So you can starve yourself all day and use them all in one sitting if you want. I think this is a BIG mistake. If I go to a holiday party starving, I am AT the appetizers almost before I get in the door. Then it just keeps going all night because there is more a feeling of needing to catch up. To me, starving yourself all day is a form of deprivation, which sets

you up for binging at night. It is almost like a oneday mini-diet. The second strategy is just the opposite—do NOT starve yourself all day long, but rather eat moderately so that you don’t go to the party totally starved. This is the strategy I recommend most of the time. If you eat moderately during the day, you will not feel deprived when you get to the party. You will be more able to pick and choose. Even though there will be visual cues to eat, you will be more able to eat mindfully, enjoy the food and focus on TASTING the foods that you really want. Then you can still have the things you want, and are less likely to overeat. And I don’t mean just having a taste of something, although sometimes that is all that it takes to satisfy.


The secret is trying foods if you really want them, not necessarily finishing them, but really getting a taste so that you don’t feel deprived. I will often take a lot of different foods just because they LOOK so good. But I only eat the ones that really TASTE good and that I WANT at the time. I try not to eat foods that I don’t really enjoy - just because it is there. If you eat mindfully and stay conscious, then eating MORE of the same thing doesn’t add any more to the experience – it only adds bulk. The problem with most holiday foods is that they are laden with carbohydrates, which sets you up for continuing the cycle. So make sure you get adequate protein to help control your appetite and get back to eating normally the next day. If you overeat, relax and learn.

Use this information to make your choices the next time you are in that situation. Don’t yell at yourself or use it as an excuse to binge. A few holiday parties can be handled quite nicely if you stay calm. Remember that there will always be more chances to eat successfully and feel good about it. So don’t get too down on yourself if you happen to overeat at 1 event. Oh, I almost forgot – my third strategy? Skip the party! Some holiday parties have simply outlived their usefulness. You go every year and dread it. You have my permission (not that you need it) to do something kind for yourself and skip it this year. Use the time to do something that is more relaxing or enjoyable to you. Here’s to happier holiday parties, Carol Written By Carol Solomon. Courtesy of Isnare.com


In The Kitchen

Gingerbread Trees with Lemon Icing Directions: For the cookies: • • • • • • • • • •

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon coarse salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 large egg 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

For the icing: • • •

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar Sanding or coarse sugar (optional)

1. Make cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until creamy, 3 minutes. Add egg and beat to combine. Add molasses and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour (or up to 3 days). 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. With a sharp knife or cookie cutter, cut dough into small 2-inch-wide triangles. Arrange triangles, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are firm and golden at edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. 3. Make icing: In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth. Drizzle icing over cooled cookies and sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Courtesy of marthastewart.com


Health & Wellness

Swimming Swimming is one of the most popular forms of aerobic exercise, and it is an excellent activity for anyone who wishes to get fit and stay active. Swimming exercise uses more of the overall muscle mass of the body than almost any other form of exercise, and people get an upper-body workout and a lower-body workout, unlike running or biking or other activities like tennis, where you get a good workout in just the legs. In addition, as with most aerobic exercise it is believed to reduce the harmful effects of stress. Overall, swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Because the density of the human body is approximately similar to that of water, the body is supported by the water and less stress is therefore placed on joints and bones. Since then the buoyancy of the water protects the joints, water exercise is a particularly good choice for people who are overweight or who are prevented from taking part in other activities because of injuries or other physical limitations. Therefore, swimming is frequently used as an exercise in rehabilitation after injuries or for the disabled. It's also safe for older people and pregnant women. For most adults, the upper body is the weakest part of the body. Swimming exercises the arms and upper body more than the legs. In competitive swimming, excessive leg muscles can be seen as a disadvantage as they consume more oxygen, which would be needed for the muscles in the arms, although this depends on the swimming style. While breaststroke generates significant movement with the legs, front crawl propels the body mainly with the arms. Sometimes the swimming consists of swimming laps using a conventional stroke, such as the front crawl; other forms can include different forms of exercise performed in the water, such as water aerobics. Specifically, swimming and other forms of water exercise, such as water aerobics, offer remarkable cardiovascular benefits and are one of the few forms of exercise that work out the entire body. Swimming is primarily an aerobic exercise due to the relatively long exercise time, requiring a constant oxygen supply to the muscles, except for short sprints where the muscles work anaerobically. Particularly, water aerobics put a lot less stress on the knee and hip joints than running or many other aerobic activities. If you put people in the water, they don't have that pounding and compression on those joints, so they're able to exercise much more pain free. Moreover, if the water is warm, water exercise is good for people with arthritis. Swimming and water aerobics are excellent and popular forms of exercise for the elderly, so long as the primary focus for exercise is not to improve osteoporosis. Written by Jonathon Hardcastle. Courtesy of Isnare.com


Top 10 American Christmas Traditions Every family has different traditions during the holiday season. For some families, one holiday tradition may include an uncle getting dressed up as Santa Claus. In another family, Christmas Eve dinner may top the tradition list. Some traditions are passed on from generation to generation, while others are created as families grow and change. While there is no way to create a comprehensive list of traditions, the following list highlights ten traditions that are representative of American families celebrating Christmas.


Number 10: Caroling. This tradition may not be as popular today as it once was. Perhaps it’s because too many people live in the suburbs, where houses are far away and neighborhoods are not as close knit as they used to be. But singing among family members and classmates still tops the hearts of many folks. Many of us can remember caroling around the nursing home with our friends or bundling up to hit the streets on a cold winter’s evening.

Number 5: Eggnog. This holiday treat is often linked to Number 6, and perhaps is a lot of the problem with Number 6.

Number 9: Greeting Cards. What American holiday would be complete without greetings cards? The first Christmas card appeared in London in 1843 and became popular in America around 1875. Today many families send Christmas cards to their friends and family across the United States and even around the world. Some busy families include personalized letters reviewing the past year for their loved ones, while other families prefer to send cards featuring a recent family photo.

Number 3: Stockings. Each Christmas season, stockings can be found throughout American homes. Stockings may include gag gifts, like coal, or little gifts, like candy, CD’s, and socks. Either way, hanging a stocking from the fireplace mantle is as much of a part of Christmas as Santa Claus and Rudolph.

Number 8: Shopping. Christmas shopping season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving and continues until Christmas day. To some folks, it’s the most enjoyable part of the season. To others, shopping is one big necessary headache. Internet shopping has recently changed the face of holiday shopping forever, and men across world have been cheering! But no matter how popular internet shopping has become, nothing can compare to an old fashioned holiday shopping trip to see the lights, hear the bells, and smell the holiday excitement. Number 7: Movies. For many families, the month of December becomes one long trip through Christmas movie nostalgia. Not only do the TV channels rebroadcast all of the old favorite Christmas movies, but the true movie-fan family also has DVDs and tapes of all their own favorites. Whether you fancy Rudolph or George Bailey, movies help families gear up their Christmas spirit in the days leading up to the festive day.

Number 4: Cookies. For children and grownups alike, this may be the best Christmas tradition of all. Every holiday season, children of all ages bake up an assortment of their Christmas cookie specialties, while the rest of the family anxiously waits to taste their wonderful creations.

Number 2: Christmas lights. Speaking of Santa and Rudolph, how else can they find your house on Christmas Eve without a little help from decorations all over your abode? The brilliant colors and cheer of Christmas decorations on a home is enough to warm the heart of even the biggest Grinch. Just be careful not to pull a “Clark Griswold”! Number 1: Christmas Tree. Besides the manger scene, there is not a better known symbol of Christmas than the Christmas tree. Trees around the United States are fully decked out in lights, ornaments, and a star on top, waiting for Santa to come and fill the underneath with presents for the entire family. Whether your favorite Christmas tradition made our list or not, the most important thing to remember this holiday season is to make cherished memories with your loved ones. Celebrate deep-rooted traditions and continue to create new holiday traditions to share with your family and friends.

Number 6: Party. Christmas parties have become an essential part of the American holiday season, and the office Christmas party is a notoriously good time. The Christmas party can be one of two things. One, the party can be the chance to see old friends and colleagues, and make new ones under the mistletoe. Or the Christmas party can be a chance to create stories for the rest of the office to share over the New Year. Written by Thomas Easterday. Courtesy of Isnare.com


Twas The Remake Before Christmas

Many of the most popular movies of all time are remakes (Ben Hur, Titanic, The Magnificent Seven, Robin Hood) so we know it can be done well, and there is nothing wrong with the idea in principle.  It can be done badly though - for every 3:10 to Yuma there is a Halloween II.  Sometimes the filmmaker is tempted to mess around with the story, to put his stamp on it, and they end up ruining it – Tim Burton for example, changed the ending of Planet of the Apes, leaving out the iconic Statue of Liberty scene, and replacing it with one that makes no sense at all.  The recent remake of The Wicker Man left out the actual wicker man – a decision so unpopular they had to refilm it to put it back in for the DVD release.   


There are several classic movies that, in my opinion, are crying out for big budget Hollywood remakes - The Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Gone with the Wind  mainly because the old acting style and dialogue now seems quite dated, but also because they would benefit so much from modern production values and special effects.  In popular music some of the biggest hits over the years have been remakes (cover versions).  The best ones are those that bring something different to the song to set it apart from the original – Jimi Hendrix's guitar in All Along the Watchtower,  the synths disco beats in You were always on my mind (by the Pet Shop Boys).  Some cover versions were big hits even though the original was quite obscure (Torn by Natalie Imbruglia and Tainted Love by Soft Cell come to mind) but serious music fans do tend to get a little sniffy when people cover the classics especially if the performer is considered mainstream.  The only way to get away with it seems to be to do it as a joke - Rolf Harris did "Stairway to Heaven" and the Muppets did "Bohemian Rhapsody" -  but when someone takes on a classic and tries to do it seriously, the response tends to be "why?" So why then, do people not remake poetry?  It seems as though poetry is sacred in some way, but can it really be true that every poem ever published is already perfect, and could not be improved by a second poet coming along and tweaking a few words, and adding a line here and there?  This brings me to "The Night before Christmas".  Everyone loves this poem, and it is perfect in every way and could never be improved, right?  Well, before you answer, try reading it aloud to a five-year-old, as I did recently.  The beautiful structure and rhythm of the poem was rather spoiled by me having to stop every few lines to answer questions: "Daddy, what's a sugar-plum?" "Why was mamma in her 'kerchief?" "Who is St Nicholas?"


"Why did he throw up the sash? Had he eaten too much sash?"  Okay, I made that last one up, but the poem really is filled with difficult phrases like "the lustre of mid-day", "his coursers they came", and "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow".  It is also full of ideas that are now out of date - Santa is referred to as St Nicholas, he is dressed in fur, he is an elf, and worst of all, he is a smoker! As I was reading The Night before Christmas to my daughter then, I was thinking to myself "Some modern children's writer should rewrite this, take out the archaic words, and update the references so that we recognize Santa."  Then I thought, "Hang on, I'm a modern children's writer, I should do it!"  So I did.  I am fully expecting the traditionalists out there to be horrified by the idea, and I am prepared (well, maybe half-prepared) for a torrent of abuse from them, and possibly death-threats.  My response to them is that if you don't like the updated version, and you and your young children are happy with the original, just ignore me.  The original is still there, and it will never go away. Twas The Night Before Christmas Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that old Santa Claus soon would be there. The children were sleeping all snug in their beds, With sweet dreams of Christmas time filling their heads. And mamma in her nightdress, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. I went to the window - oh, what would I find? I opened the curtains and threw up the blind. The moon shining bright on the new-fallen snow Lit up very clearly the scene down below. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a magical sleigh, pulled by magic reindeer. When I saw it I was excited because I knew that the driver must be Santa Claus.


More rapid than eagles the reindeer they came, Santa whistled, and shouted, and called them by name! "Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!" As dry leaves that get caught in a gust of wind fly, When they meet with an obstacle, climb to the sky. So up to the house-top the reindeer they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and old Santa Claus too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney old Santa Claus came with a bound. He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a traveller, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly! He was chubby and plump, and I have to admit, That I laughed when I saw him, I could not help it. A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose! He sprang to his sleigh, gave a whistle, and grinned, And away his sleigh flew like a feather on the wind. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" Written by Paul Perro. Courtesy of Articlesbase.com


Fruitcake Is Edible & Delicious.


A look of horror covered the five-year-old's face, as he blared "Eeeewwww!", backing away, fearfully. "Honey", his embarrassed mother chided, "That's not nice." "What is it!?", the terrified youngster cried. "It's my fruitcake", the hostess of the Christmas party muttered, her forced smile barely hiding her displeasure, as she pulled the offered slice away. Needless to say, it was several years, before the offending child's family was invited back to the boss's annual soiree. Of all the foods traditionally carted out during the holiday season, the fruitcake is probably the most mysterious and misunderstood. Candy canes, gingerbread, turkey, and ham all make a certain sense-even eggnog has its seasonal logic-but the fruitcake, this brown, twelve-pound pile of cookedtogether leftovers weighing down the center of the table (which, legend has it, will still be fresh a hundred years from now) always seems to confuse and bemuse you, with its sheer oddity. And, though you always avoid it, at first, the politeness of such gatherings demands that you eventually taste it. The funny thing is, when you finish that first slice, you invariably find yourself back at the table for seconds. Maybe even thirds. There's just something about it. It's like a funhouse for the taste-buds, a different experience with every bite. Yet, when you leave the party, you swear you'll never touch fruitcake again-ever. Admit it. You've always wondered-what kind of demented cook ever concocted such a confection? Like most of our traditional holiday foods, fruitcake has its origins in ancient times. According to whatscookingamerica.net, the earliest reference to fruitcake dates back to ancient Rome, describing a

recipe that included pomegranate seeds, raisins, and nuts, baked with a barley mash. During the Crusades, spices from the Far East were added, along with honey and dried fruits. Fruitcake was a staple among those who took long journeys-soldiers, hunters, and traders-as it remained edible for extended periods. In the 1400's, fruitcake became a popular treat in Britain, as the spices and dried fruits became available from the Mediterranean, and prices dropped. By the 1700's, in Europe, fruitcake was associated with end-of-year rituals, and recipes became localized. Ceremonial cakes were baked, filled with a variety of local crops, as a way of celebrating the year's good fortune. The cakes were saved over the winter and then eaten in the spring, just before planting new crops, in the symbolic hope of another successful harvest. It's assumed that some recipes began to include liquor, as an extra preservative. Urban legends abound, about fruitcakes passed down through families, from generation to generation, lasting a hundred years or more, but there seems to be no hard evidence to back up such claims. Today, of course, the addition of spirits to recipes is more for flavor than preservation. It may be the oddest-looking food served during the holiday season, but fruitcake has a long a noble history. And it's OK if your five-year-old is frightened by the sight of it. That just leaves more for you. And once you've had that first piece‌

Written by J Gardener Courtesy of Isnare.com,


Christmas Vacations on Tropical Islands!

Christmas is just around the corner and if you want to get away from home during this holiday season, it’s time to make plans to ensure a stress-free Christmas vacation! Some people may traditionally prefer to go where the snow is, where it’s freezing, and where Santa has no problems wearing ultra-thick clothes.


I recommend going where the sun shines the whole day, where you can frolic on white sand beaches and swim in the warm sea, where you can go shopping in exotic stores wearing only a pair of sandals and Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.

Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands and you’re in for a big surprise. Dubbed as Europe’s winter playground, Tenerife, is referred to as the island of eternal spring. It is home to Spain’s 2nd highest peak, the Volcano Teide, has a flourishing national park, and of course some of the archipelago’s best beach hideaways.

Already excited? Well, read on and find out more about these 5 islands that you’re bound to want to visit during the Yuletide season.

Activities: Visits to archaeological sites, art and natural history museums, explore the Guimar Pyramids, nudist beaches, visit the national park

Solitude In Fiji

Ave. temperature during Christmas: 19°C-23°C

Explore one of The Pacific’s beautiful and more popular islands, Fiji. Be right on a tropical island and not miss Christmas at all! You can easily go to Christmasfocused community activities if you really miss the yuletide season and experience Christmas with a Fijian twist. And if you really want to get away from it all, just go to the beach or laze in your very own bure ( thatched hut ) Activities:diving, beach, spa, snorkeling, island cruise, wildlife exploration. Ave. temperature during Christmas: 23°F -29°F Exotic Seychelles Seychelles was once referred to by British General Charles Gordon as the site of the Garden Of Eden and it’s difficult to disagree with him. Its pristine white sand beaches, turquoise blue water, and exotic blend of flora and fauna can easily make you think that this is the garden the Bible refers to. Activities: beach, diving and snorkeling, sailing, honeymoon, wedding, island hopping. Ave. temperature during Christmas: 24°C-31°C

Holidays Down Under – Fraser Island Australia If you want to be just a stone throw away from the Great Barrier Reef, be ensconced in wildlife, explore tropical rain forests and laze on pristine beaches, Fraser Island is the place to be. This World Heritage Site is rich in flora and fauna and is the world’s largest sand island. Activities:wilderness safari, rainforest treks, dolphin watching, camping, fishing. Ave. temperature during Christmas: 20°C-29°C The Caribbean Beat In Barbados It’s the Caribbean island where dignitaries such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton indulge in holiday pleasures. And you too can go this Christmas and see what the island has to offer. Bask in the beauty of this delightful Caribbean island; experience its very unique culture which was formed by the distinct and unique influences of the British and the Africans. And laze on its 95 kilometers of unspoiled white sand beach.

Tenerife Spain – Cultural & Wildlife Vacations

Activities: beach, water sports, underwater exploration by submarine, golf, cave exploration, island safari.

Who says the whole of Europe is a winter wonderland during Christmas? Go to

Ave. temperature during Christmas: 24°C-28°C Written by Amiee C. Bernard. Courtesy of Isnare.com,


Products To Love In December As a child the Christmas season didn’t really begin for me until my dad brought out The Norman Rockwell Christmas Book. Brim full of gorgeous illustrations and stuffed to the gills with delightful stories of Christmas’ past, I treasured (and still do as a matter of fact) the time spent letting my imagination blossom with the christmas spirit and abiding hope in goodness this truly beautiful book brings. So if you are still looking for that special something to get your Christmas spirit started, look no further! Please click here for more information.

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Reviewed by Rural Jungle Testing

Tired of being the loser of your office or friends annual Ugliest Christmas Sweater contest? This year it’s in the bag! Check out the Alex Stevens Polar Bear Hula Hooping Ugly Christmas Sweater. If that’s not enough “ugly” for you be sure the check out their rather extensive collection of eyeball searing, blindness inducing, Christmas themed ,truly hideous sweaters! ;) Please click here for more information.

Place one of these Robin Reed Handmade Crackers at each place setting for decoration, then pull it open with a friend and share the fun. Each Concerto cracker contains a party hat, snap and a numbered whistle. Each whistle plays a different musical note. The set includes a numbered badge for each person, a music sheet with corresponding numbers and a baton for the chosen conductor. Put it all together to create your own fun-filled, melodic (or chaotic!) orchestra. Please click here for more information.


Products To Love In December Elf on the Shelf : A Christmas Tradition plus bonus Official "An Elf Story" DVD From the Manufacturer Year after year, children and adults alike are baffled by the mystery of how Santa really knows who's been naughty or nice. After much urging by the elves and Mrs. Claus, Santa has allowed his biggest secret to be revealed in The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition . Touted as "The best thing since The Night Before Christmas" this gift set includes a light skin, blue eyed North Pole pixie-elf, hardbound children's book and keepsake box. Children can register their elf online and receive a special response from Santa. Please click here for more information.

Arthur Christmas reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child's question: 'So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?' The answer: Santa's exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the center of the film is a story about a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns. Please click here for more information.

This exclusive Ghirardelli gift tower, a consistent Wine Country favorite, is available with free shipping Milk chocolate with caramel, dark chocolate wafers, milk and dark chocolate covered pretzels, double chocolate hot cocoa, milk chocolate hazelnut crisp, Twilight Delight dark chocolate and dark chocolate with caramel, milk chocolate with sea salt and almonds, chocolate chip cookies, white mocha coffee drink mix and a Creamy Devotion milk chocolate bar are hand-packed in six elegant boxes. This gift is a great value, perfect for family and friends. Please click here for more information.


City Spotlight

Aspen, CO


After a day on the slopes, you may be wondering what there is to do for the rest of the evening. Well, don’t use up all of your energy, and leave the slopes early enough to get in a short nap – you will need all of the energy you can muster for the Aspen nightlife. No matter how much skiing you get in or how many of the runs you have mastered, you have not truly experienced Aspen until you venture out after dark! Aspen has three basic areas: downtown, the West end, and the East end. The town is remarkably small, considering how many people venture here each season – but surprisingly, everyone and everything just fits. The town is actually small enough to leave your car parked at your lodge or hotel and walk anywhere that you want to go. In fact, this is recommended. Not everyone pays heed to this advice, which can make driving around and parking very difficult. You can also take a free shuttle from one mountain to another, take the Roaring Fork Transit Authority Bus, or go to the Rubey Park Transportation Center to get a ride anywhere in the valley. Don’t worry about getting lost. The town is well laid out. Starting on the West end, you will find a quiet Victorian neighborhood. While this is a residential district, where locals live, you will also find many hotels and condos on the West end, particularly on Main Street. You will also find the Aspen Meadows Conference Center and Hotel. This is a 40-acre area where you will also find the Aspen Institute, the Music Tent, the Harris Concert Hall, the Paepcke Auditorium, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, the Hallam Lake Nature Preserve, and the Aspen Center for Physics. In the East end of Aspen you will find another residential area, as well as the Roaring Fork River and the Aspen Club and Spa. The East end features more forests than the West end, which has been developed a great deal more. Between the West End and the East End, you will find downtown Aspen. Downtown is where most of the action is. Featuring old Victorian buildings, downtown Aspen boasts pubs, restaurants, shops, and everything else you could ever possibly need – all housed in beautiful historical landmark buildings. Down the valley a ways, you will find Snowmass Village. To the west, you will also find Roaring Fork Valley. These two villages are compliments of Aspen, and you should take the time to visit them as well. Written by Burt Cotton, courtesy of Isnare.com


DIY Project - December Party Animal Cutlery You’ll need: • • • • •

Wooden Utensils Plastic Animals Epoxy Glue Sandpaper Newspaper

1. Cover your work area with the newspaper. 2. Cut the plastic animals in half, I used a kitchen knife, so no need for a saw. 3. Sand the utensil and the halves of the animal that you will gluing together. 4. Use an epoxy to glue one animal-half to the front of the spoon or fork, and one half to the back. 5. Let dry throughly. 6. Enjoy!

Courtesy of fun.kyti.com


Businesses That Make A Difference

In 2008, a young traveler named Sean traveled through eastern Congo to learn about a war he knew nothing about.

He spent the day with the boys, trading stories, laughter and tears. One boy told him of children too small to carry guns being sent to the front lines, armed with only a whistle.

History tells us that all great shifts

After he and his partner worked with the UN to have the boys released, he went home that night and wrote the Falling Whistles journal. A single story of a single day. It was originally sent to about 80 friends and family, who forwarded it around the world. Thousands of strangers wrote back asking: what can we do?

Just a few days later he found himself in a military encampment, where he met five boys being held prisoner by the national army. The boys had been child soldiers, taken from their homes and forced to fight for two different rebel groups, until one night they escaped and ran to the national army for refuge. Now in the hands of their own military, they were being treated as enemies of the state.

When he arrived back on U.S. soil, he wanted to tell everyone about what he had seen: the deadliest war of our time still unfolding - unnoticed and unchallenged. But war isn’t so easily brought up in casual conversation. Then a friend Marcus gave him a unique gift: a whistle on a chain. Worn around his neck, it sparked interest everywhere he went.  That’s when they realized:Their weapon could be our voice.

have small beginnings. Peace in Congo, or peace anywhere for that matter, won't come in a single dramatic leap. It will be the accumulation of millions of steps, day after day, away from oppression and toward liberty. Run with us. - See more at: http:// www.fallingwhistles.com/our-storyindex#our-story-5


This month's random fact will strike terror into the hearts of every person that hears the word: Fruitcake!

Fruit cake (or fruitcake) is a cake made with chopped candied fruit and/or dried fruit, nuts, and spices, and (optionally) soaked in spirits. A cake that simply has fruit in it as an ingredient can also be colloquially called a fruit cake. In the United Kingdom, certain rich versions may be iced and decorated. Fruit cakes are often served in celebration of weddings and Christmas.

In the United States, the fruit cake has been a ridiculed dessert. Some attribute the beginning of this trend with The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. He would joke that there really is only one fruitcake in the world, passed from family to family. After Carson's death, the tradition continued with "The Fruitcake Lady" (Marie Rudisill), who made appearances on the show and offered her "fruitcake" opinions. In fact, the fruitcake had been a butt of jokes on television programs such as "Father Knows Best" and "The Donna Reed Show" years before The Tonight Show debuted.

Since 1995, Manitou Springs, Colorado, has hosted the Great Fruitcake Toss on the first Saturday of every January. "We encourage the use of recycled fruitcakes," says Leslie Lewis of the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce. The all-time Great Fruitcake Toss record is 1,420 feet, set in January 2007 by a group of eight Boeing engineers who built the "Omega 380," a mock artillery piece fueled by compressed air pumped by an exercise bike.

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