Monday, December 18, 2017

HIstory of New Year's Resolutions.

Design, 2017, 2018, New Year I've often wondered how the tradition of making New Year's resolutions have come about.  Its just something I've done all my life because my parents did it and encouraged me to do it.  Of course, I didn't get good at keeping my resolutions until I got out of the house and gained some self discipline.

The tradition of making resolutions has been a round for a very long time, since the Babylonians.  Their New Year was in mid march when they had a 12 day long celebration during which time they recognized the rebirth of the natural world by planting crops, crown an new king or reaffirm the power of the current king, make promises to their god, and pay back debts. They are said to be the first ones to celebrate the new year and make resolutions.

Julius Caesar moved the new year to January 1st in 46 B.C. because the month of January held special significance having been named after their god Janus.  They believed he looked back into the past year and into the future of the new year.  They made promises for the new year in the hopes he would look favorably at them. In order to accomplish this, he let the previous year go for 455 days.

During the middle ages, it was common for knights to renew their vows of Chivalry and to commit to another year of service.  For early Christians, the new year became a time to think about past mistakes and behavior and to resolve to do better in the new year.  In 1740, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, began holding New Year's services filled with prayer, biblical readings, and singing of hymns held on New Year's eve or New Year's day.

It wasn't until 1813 that the phrase "New Years Resolution" appeared in a Boston newspaper by a writer who commented on people who partied through December but when January 1st came around, they made resolutions of good behavior for the future.

Current figures state although about one third of the population actually makes resolutions, only eight percent follow through on it.  So if you don't succeed in fulfilling your resolutions, don't feel bad.  We are all human. 

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Friday, December 15, 2017

New Years Resolutions

New Year'S Day, 2018, New Year'S Eve  New Year's day signals the end of the Christmas season for most of us.  January first, we will have made a list of things we want to change through the simple act of making a resolution.

Often people throw themselves into making the changes and burn out by March, giving up on the changes.  Making a resolution is like making a promise to change habits but its too hard if your list of resolutions rival the book Gone With The Wind. 

The best way to succeed in fulfilling your resolutions is to remember a few things when setting them.

1.  Keep your list simple.  Look at choosing only two or three of the most important goals so you don't get overwhelmed.  It is often harder to meet goals if you have twenty listed versus only two or three.  In addition, it is easier to focus on a few and do a better job.

2. Choose the ones on the list which will have the most impact on your life such as starting to exercise can improve your health, help you feel better about yourself, help you loose weight and make you proud.

3. Be realistic when choosing the goals.  Sometimes it is better to choose a set of short term goals which lead to one long term goal.  You have to figure out how to accomplish the goal, before setting the first goal towards the over all goal.  Once you meet the first goal, go on to the second goal.

4.  Break each goal down into manageable chunks, such as you want to loose 150 lbs this year.  Start with maybe 5 pounds which is easy to accomplish, repeat.  Or if your resolution is to exercise 5 days a week for an hour each time, begin with something smaller like 10 minutes every day or even every other day. 

5.  Establish a time line as it helps you keep track of your short term goals.  It allows you to plan when each goal should be met and gives you something to look back at to see how you are doing.

6. Write down your resolutions in a book.  Include motivations for the resolutions.  Make it a scrap book filled with pictures, notes on your success, etc.  Its shows your journey towards fulfilling your resolution.

7. Arrange to treat yourself only at milestones so you recognize your accomplishment but don't fall into the trap of sabotaging yourself.

8. Set up a support system so if you get off track, you have someone there to help you when you hit the hard times.  Make sure the people you choose understand they are there to help you with moral support.

9. Never give up.  There will be the occasional slips that happen.  Don't give up if that happens.  Admit it happens and get up and start again.  Unfortunately, most of us think we shouldn't ever mess up and feel as if we're failures when in reality its just a small misstep in the whole picture.

10.  Finally, take charge and be responsible. Do not blame everyone else if you slip.  Admit it and move on. 

I hope this helps those of you who make resolutions and tend to fail.  I still have to make my list but it won't be more than a couple things.  I do not wait for New Years to make a change.  I decide on what I want to do and begin on Sunday morning. 

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Way Word Radio

Hands, Words, Meaning, Fingers  Every Saturday Morning, I get a call from a family member.  Every time he calls, he has a radio show blaring in the background loud enough for me to clearly hear it.  It's called Way Word Radio.

The radio program describes itself as "a public radio program about language examined through history, culture, and family.  

The program looks at the origin of words, sayings, and talks about language that is disappearing due to time.  People call in to ask questions, share things they've found on words or poems.  The program also shares information on laws dealing with names or words.

To be more precise the two hosts, Grant and Martha who examine how the language is changing via pop culture, sports, science, music and the arts, current events, politics, family sayings and language use, proverbs, history of language usage, dialects, regional language usages, etc.

It is quite fascinating. It is not on my local radio station but it is on his.  I get to listen to it when he calls.  Its fun because at time there is silence during the conversation while we both listen to a piece on the show.

Some of the words and phrases they have discussed recently include:

1. In the military if you loose your bubble, you've lost your bearings.

2. Catch you on the flip side refers to the side B of a single.  Records are making a comeback but not everywhere. With digitized music, its no longer recognizable.

3. Death cleaning has nothing to do with dead bodies but with downsizing and getting rid of all the crud people have built up over a life time.

4. The term flea market meaning an outdoor market set up where second hand and discount items are sold probably came from a Dutch term that sounds similar.

5. Scuttlebutt refers to a water filled casket on board ship and is used for gossip usually around a water cooler.

6. Jetsam is the stuff thrown off a sinking ship while flotsam refers to the remains of the shipwreck. 

7. Eavesdropping came about to describe people who stood outside a window to listen in.  Now it just means listening in.

They have earlier episodes on their website broken down by topic so you can listen to the whole thing or to just parts of it.  You can also find them on iTunes, or get their app to listen to their show.  They have a store with swag and a dictionary with some unusual terms, some of which I've never heard of such a Plaming.

Go check it out to see if it is on your local public radio station or just check it out to see if it fullfils your desire to learn more.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Where Do Some of Our Christmas Traditions Come From? Part 2.

Christmas, Decoration, Gift, Hang  Today, I'll provide additional information on where some of our Christmas originated.  Its always interesting to me to find out the history of various traditions.

1. The use of the  Christmas Tree as an evergreen has been around for centuries because it was used to decorate the houses as a reminder that spring would come.  There are stories of the evergreen trees appearing in various celebrations and pictures but Christmas tree appeared in Germany where they were decorated with edibles and small glass decorations by the early 1600's.

The first real use that popularized the tradition occurred in England in the first half of the 19th century when Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's husband) had a tree set up at Windsor Castle in 1848.  A drawing of the family and the tree appeared in local papers and in 1850, the same drawing appeared in an American publication, popularizing the tradition in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

2. Leaving milk and cookies out for Santa may date back to Norse times when they believed that Odin had an eight legged horse called Sleipner.  Children would leave treats out for the horse hoping that Odin would leave gifts for them. The practice became popular again during the depression  because parents wanted to impress on children they should be grateful for anything they got.

3. Apparently, Christmas cards originated in England in 1843 when a civil servant set up the first post office and wondered how he could get common people to start using the service.  He got an artist friend to create the first cards, he sold at one shilling each.  The first card had three panels, two of which showed people helping out the poor while the middle panel showed a large family having Christmas dinner and at the bottom it read "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You".  There were only a thousand printed then but only a few still exist.

It wasn't long before Christmas carols appeared in the United States but they were extremely expensive.  As printing methods improved, Christmas cards became more common and the cost of mailing a card dropped in price so it was more easily afforded.  By the 1870's a man from Germany began mass producing cards so more people could afford them and they took off.   Annie Oakley is responsible for personalized cards when she sent cards from Scotland back to her family in the states in 1891.  Her cards had a picture of herself on the front.

The tradition of placing seals or stickers on Christmas cards began in early 1900's in Denmark as a way of raising funds for charities.  The idea was so successful that four million were sold in its first year.

4.  Christmas candy canes appears to have originated in Germany just over 250 years ago as straight white sugar sticks. The story goes that a choir master in 1690 was worried about his young singers being able to sit through the service so he made the sticks a J shape to remind them of the shepherds with their crooks.   Since the earliest records date from about 200 years later, this is probably not true.

Records indicate they began again in the late 19th century but the red stripes were not added till the early 1900's when they were flavored with peppermint or wintergreen.  In 1920 a man began making them for friends and families but a machine to automatically turn them into the shape J did not come till a bit later when his brother in law designed it.  Eventually the business became known as Bob's Candies which was sold out in 2005.

I hope you enjoyed these stories.  Tomorrow I'm going to look at a program that looks at the origin of words in the English language.  Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Where Do Some of Our Christmas Traditions Come From? Part 1.

  Christmas is rapidly approaching.  Time to pull out the tree, the decorations, even the mistletoe to hand in the corner for Uncle George.  I look at these because its the predominant theme at this time of year.  Look at the stores, the television, even listen to the radio.

I thought I'd take a look at where some of the Christmas traditions come from and add information on their meanings.

1. Mistletoe is found growing on apple, willow, and oak trees.  Hanging mistletoe in the house dates back to the time of the Druids when they believed the mistletoe protected the house and brought good luck.  In addition, Norse Mythology has mistletoe as a symbol of love and friendship thus the kissing under it.

2. Father Christmas, Santa Claus, and St. Nicholas.  St. Nicholas lived in what is now Turkey in the fourth century. He came from a rich family.  The story goes that a poor man with three daughters was sad because he did not have enough money for a dowry for his daughters so they could not get married.  One night, St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the chimney so it fell into a stocking that had been hung to try out.  The man had money for a dowry for his oldest. It happened again for his second daughter at which point he decided to hide and wait until he discovered St. Nicholas was the one dropping the coins.  He begged the poor man to keep it a secret but it got out.  So anytime someone received a gift from an unknown person, they said it came from him.

The other version of the story is that he believed childhood should be enjoyed because many children were working by the age of 10.  So he went around giving out homemade clothing, furniture, and foods.  He was especially known for giving out oranges by putting them in stockings by the fire place.  It is said this is where hanging stocking up by the fire place originated.

The Dutch apparently took St. Nicholas and put their own spin on him as Sinterklaas a man who delivered gifts to those who were good and willow canes and Jute bags to those who were naughty.  In addition, St Nicholas evolved into Father Christmas in Britain, a character in plays from the middle ages but came into his full potential in the 17th century.  Santa Claus is the American version who has been in the states since the 18th century.  it is believed that Santa Claus evolved from Sinterklaas.

3.  Christmas Carols came out of the original religious music in fourth century Rome and were sung at Christmas services in latic.  By the thirteenth century, what we know as Christmas carols began appearing in France, Germany, and Italy.  They were written in the local vernacular and used for all sorts of events and celebrations.

Caroling did not begin till the 19th century in Victorian England when people got together to carol for any celebration.  It became popular for Christmas when the holiday turned more commercialized.

More tomorrow.  I hope you enjoyed this.  Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Room Temperature Yogurts

Raspberries, Yogurt, Nature, Frisch  I love yogurt, especially when its homemade but I don't always have time to make it. That is until I discovered a type that is easy to make, fits in with my schedule so I can have fresh yogurt every day.

There are two types of yogurt.  The first one is the one we are most familiar with.  Its classified as thermophilic which requires a certain amount of heat to set. 

The usual way for this yogurt is to get a variety of yogurt with live cultures, heat the milk, add the starter, put in jars and heat over night until they set.  The other choice on this type of yogurt is to buy a dried starter that is added to the heated milk.  You can get Bulgarian, or Greek, or other variety, each of which produces a specific flavor.

Unfortunately, most of the store bought yogurts use bacteria which lasts only one or two generations but eventually looses its power to regenerate. For the most part the bacteria has been  selected to create a specific type of yogurt so it doesn't have the same staying power as the older types of yogurt. 

On the other hand, if you buy a heirloom variety, you can keep using one batch to start the next batch again and again without having to buy a new starter, every two to six generations.  Heirloom varieties can be either thermophilic or mesophilic

 Mesophilic is a type which sets at room temperature.  This means you just add the starter to milk, let it sit out for a few hours and it sets.  I've been using this type for the past two months and really enjoying it. The variety of yogurt I use is from Scandinavia.

I got my starter from a company on Amazon.  The directions said I should not use boxed (ultra pasteurized) milk but living out in the middle of nowhere, that is the only type of milk I have access to other than the evaporated canned milk.  Both work so I get more of a yogurt drink which I enjoy having with my dinner every day.  It does not work as well with powdered milk.  I think it goes through the milk faster so I have to put it in the fridge much sooner.

When my starter arrived, I chose a packet, stirred it into about 1.5 cups of milk, covered it with a towel and let it set overnight till I had a thick mixture.  I threw it in the fridge for a day or two and then had it.  I love it as its not really acidic.  The variety I selected seems to have a sweetish taste to it.

I grab a cup at dinner time, leave a bit, pour more milk in and cover.  By the morning, I have a nice batch and it seems to be reproducing as well as it did on the first day. This batch is several weeks old and going strong.

Its consistency is much like the yogurt I had in Iceland and Finland at breakfast in the hotels. Since its not extremely thick, I can drink it, use it on my serial, add it to any recipe which calls for yogurt such as bread or cakes and it works wonderfully.  I'm now a believer in this type of yogurt. 

I'd tell you the exact type but I just grabbed a packet and used it before I could figure out which one of the four varieties in the box.  I plan to take some with me this Christmas holidays so I can try it with the milk in gallon containers.

This type does work with soy milk but I don't like the flavor it produces.  I tried it with Almond milk but again it doesn't work.  Next thing on my list is to try the yogurt starter for nondairy milks to see what type of product that produces.  I might try starting some in a day or two.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.