Sunday, December 18, 2011

4th and Final Sunday of Advent

Light the last of the four candles! Next week is Christmas. 

Most people/churches have a 5th candle in the center of the wreath, usually larger and it is lit on Christmas Sunday.

Source/Photo credit:,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

got lemon cupcakes?

Today is your day, National Lemon Cupcake Day!

 Photo credit:,

Happy 220th anniversary to our Bill of Rights!

Today is Bill of Rights Day

The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. 

These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and reserve some powers to the states and the public. 

While originally the amendments applied only to the federal government, most of their provisions have since been held to apply to the states by way of the 14th Amendment.

The amendments were introduced by James Madison to the 1st United States Congress as a series of legislative articles. They were adopted by the House of Representatives on August 21, 1789 and came into effect as Constitutional Amendments on December 15, 1791, through the process of ratification by three-fourths of the States.

Originally, the Bill of Rights included legal protection for land-owning white men only, excluding African Americans and women. It took additional Constitutional Amendments and numerous Supreme Court cases to extend the same rights to all U.S. citizens.

The Bill of Rights plays a key role in American law and government, and remains a vital symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. 


Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.



Source: Wikipedia,

Photo credit:,, Feather Pen,;

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

National Violins Day

The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola, cello, and bass.


The violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the type of music played on it. The word violin comes from the Middle Latin word vitula, meaning stringed instrument; this word is also believed to be the source of the Germanic "fiddle". The violin, while it has ancient origins, acquired most of its modern characteristics in 16th-century Italy, with some further modifications occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Someone who plays the violin is called a violinist or a fiddler. The violinist produces sound by drawing a bow across one or more strings (which may be stopped by the fingers of the other hand to produce a full range of pitches), by plucking the strings (with either hand), or by a variety of other techniques. The violin is played by musicians in a wide variety of musical genres, including Baroque music, classical, jazz, folk music, and rock and roll.
Violinists and collectors particularly prize the instruments made by the Gasparo da Salò, Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati families from the 16th to the 18th century in Brescia and Cremona and by Jacob Stainer in Austria.
The earliest stringed instruments were mostly plucked (e.g. the Greek lyre). Bowed instruments may have originated in the equestrian cultures of Central Asia, an example being the Kobyz (Kazakh: қобыз) or kyl-kobyz is an ancient Turkic, Kazakh string instrument or Mongolian instrument Morin huur:

Turkic and Mongolian horsemen from Inner Asia were probably the world’s earliest fiddlers. Their two-stringed upright fiddles were strung with horsehair strings, played with horsehair bows, and often feature a carved horse’s head at the end of the neck. The violins, violas, and cellos we play today, and whose bows are still strung with horsehair, are a legacy of the nomads.
Source: Wikipedia
Photo credits:  Violinist Jascha Heifetz, perhaps the most memorable of the Golden Age soloists and a so-called "classical" virtuoso who was actually a household name in many American communities,;; Israeli violin virtuoso, conductor, and master-instructor. He is widely considered as one of the preeminent violin virtuosi of the 20th;Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Kyoko Yonemoto playing Paganini's Caprice No. 24 on a violin, Wikipedia;

got cocoa?

Today is your day! National Cocoa Day!

December 13, 2011 is

National Cocoa Day

It’s National Cocoa Day! Nothing warms you up better on a cold winter day than a nice cup of hot cocoa! Cocoa, the dried, fully fermented seeds of the cacao tree, is the basis for cocoa powder, which is used to make the hot cocoa beverage we all know and love. Did you know that monkeys were the first creatures to discover that the cacao plant was edible and quite tasty? Over 1500 years ago, monkeys began to consume the pulp of the plant and spit out the beans. Humans soon began to follow the monkey's example and the rest is history. Cacao trees are grown all over the world, but it is believed that the first cacao trees grew in South America. Cocoa is similar to wine in that its flavor differs depending on the location where it is grown. It's a good thing that cacao trees are plentiful because approximately 300 to 600 cocoa beans are needed to make just two pounds of chocolate! To celebrate National Cocoa Day, make your favorite type of cocoa to enjoy. For a holiday twist on a traditional cup of cocoa, try adding a candy cane.

Happy St. Lucia Day!

Happy St. Lucia Day, December 13th. 

This day dedicated to the Sicilian martyr St. Lucy, and is traditionally celebrated in Scandinavian countries and Italy on December 13th, and represents the start of the holiday season. 
It is sometimes called the Festival Of Lights because the girls dress up in the community to give out food/drink or as a procession. Boys sometimes get involved, dressed in white (s0metimes red) with a cone hat and are called "Star boys". 
The Legend
Saint Lucia was Italian, a Sicilian martyr. So how did an Italian girl-turned-saint come to be honored in Sweden? There are various stories about Lucia with one basic storyline - her father dies, her mother is ill and is healed and they become Christians, that Lucia devotes herself to her faith and brings food and drink to Christians in hiding, and later she refuses to marry a pagan suitor that her father had arranged, she is sentenced and killed for the marriage refusal and acknowledgement of her Christianity beliefs, which was illegal. 

One of the most common story is as follows: Lucia was born of wealthy, noble parents about 283 AD in Syracuse, Sicily. Her father died when she was very young. When her mother fell ill and her death appeared imminent, the desperate Lucia took her on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Agatha, where miraculous healings were rumored to take place. An angel appeared to her in a dream beside the shrine and she refused to compromise her virginity in marriage. The mother was healed and both women became Christians. Together they pledged to use their wealth to help the sick and the poor.
Meanwhile, at the time, Sicily was under the rule of an emperor, and Christianity was forbidden in favor of pagan gods. But the devout young Sicilian virgin held to her faith and distributed food to the homeless and starving.
Many of those poor families sought refuge in caves, and at night, Lucia would make her way through the passageways with armfuls of bread, food and drink and supplies. She wore a crown of candles on her head to light the way, leaving her hands free to carry the food and supplies.
Lucia vowed to remain a virgin. But before her father died, he had arranged her marriage into a pagan family, a deal that Lucia had no intention of honoring. Her betrothed, however, demanded her hand as his bride. In a rage, the suitor took his revenge and reported Lucia's Christian faith to the Roman officials. On Dec. 13, 304 AD, Lucia was led before a court where she was sentenced. She was tortured, the guards dragged her away with great difficulty, poked out her eyes, tried to burn her at the stake per the court order and she was finally killed by the sword in the throat of one of the soldiers to stop her from talking to the crowd. 

Later she was venerated as a martyr and saint, and the day of her death, Dec. 13, was named Saint Lucia's Day.
As Christianity spread through Europe and into Scandinavia, though, the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice had to be replaced with a Christian celebration. In keeping with "timing is everything," winter solstice happened to fall on Dec. 13, so Saint Lucia was the natural replacement holiday choice.

The legend of this celebration was cemented when a terrible famine came to the Province of Varmland in Sweden during the middle ages. The poor village was starving to death. But on Dec. 13 of that year a large white ship was seen coming through the night across Lake Vanern, with a beautiful young woman standing on the bow. She was wearing a brilliant white gown, and a ring of light encircled her head. 
The country people boarded the ship to find that its cargo was food, clothing and supplies. They quickly unloaded it, and as they carried the last baskets away the people looked back to see that the ship was no longer there. 

Probably, it had been a much-needed supply ship from another province. But many felt in their hearts that it was a gift from Saint Lucia, and as the story spread, celebrations of Saint Lucia's Day began. Even after the calendar was reformed and winter solstice fell on a later day, the 13th of December remained the celebration of Saint Lucia.
Through the years, symbolism includes the bright shining candles, reminds us to be the light in the darkness. (Lucia/Lucy means "light"). And her offerings of food and drink remind us to be giving and kind to others. The white gown symbolizes the young woman's purity and the red reminds us of her martyrdom.
In families, the tradition is to have the oldest daughter brings coffee and St. Lucia buns (or ginger cookies or croissants, etc.) to her parents (and siblings) while wearing a candle-wreath and singing a Lucia song. 
St Lucia buns/Lussekatter (Saffron Buns)

Song for Santa Lucia - Swedish Version

Natten går tunga fjät rund gård och stuva; kring jord, som sol förlät, skuggoma ruva.
Då i vårt mörka hus, stiger med tända Uus, Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.
Natten går stor och stum nu hörs dess vingar i alla tysta rum sus som av vingar.
Se, på vår tröskel står vitklädd med ljus i hår Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.
Mörkret ska flyta snart urjordens dalar så hon ett underbart ord till oss talar.
Dagen ska åter ny stiga ur rosig sky. Sankta Lucia, Sankta Lucia.

-from Maia Mittelstaedt 

Santa Lucia(English translation)
Night walks with heavy tread
round farm and byre, 
dark sun-forsaken earth
shadows attire.
Then in our winter gloom
candlelight fills the room:
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

 Silent and dark the night
now hear descending
rustle of wings in flight,
all darkness ending. 
Then she comes, dressed in white, 
head wreathed in candles bright: 
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Shadows will soon be gone
from earth’s dark valley
wonderful words anon
us cheer and rally. 
Day will soon dawn anew
in skies of rosy hue: 
Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia!

Source: Wikipedia,,
Photo credit:, Wikipedia,, Wikipedia,, Flag of Sicily -Wikipedia,, Flag of Sweden - Wikipedia, clipper -,,,,

Monday, December 12, 2011

got fruit?

Today is National Ambrosia Day.

What is ambrosia? A basic fruit salad plus extras. Some people add sour cream, whipped topping, mini marshmallows, coconut and suddenly, you'd have ambrosia, named after the "food of the gods" in Greek mythology.

The word "Ambrosia" is derived from the Greek word "ambrotos", meaning immortality. It is was a combination of fruit, olive oil, honey, water, barley and cheese. 

However, Ambrosia as it is know today, dates back to the late 19th century and originated in America. One of the earliest printed recipes appeared in a recipe book published in 1877. 

Photo credit:; Gingered Ambrosia,;;

Today is National Ding-a-Ling Day

National Ding-a-Ling Day is celebrated on December 12th of each year. It appears to be linked to the 1972 hit record for Chuck Berry, “My Ding-a-Ling”.

The song tells of how the singer received two silver bells on a string from his grandmother, who calls them his ding-a-ling. According to the song, he plays with it in school, and holds on to it in dangerous situations like falling after climbing the garden wall, and swimming across a creek infested with snapping turtles. In the final verse, Berry admonishes “those of you who will not sing” and concludes that they “must be playing with [their] own ding-a-ling”.
The lyrics with their sly tone and innuendo (and the enthusiasm of Berry and the audience) caused many radio stations to refuse to play it, and British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned. Moreover, pop critics generally dislike the song (especially the fact that it was Berry’s sole #1 single in his career) and say that it is unworthy for someone who was so important in early rock ‘n’ roll (Alan Freeman once introduced the song by saying “oh Chuck baby, how could you!?!”). Nevertheless, Berry still likes it and on the recording calls it “our Alma Mater”.

The censorship of this song has continued decades later. In one case, for a re-run of American Top 40, some stations, such as WOGL in Philadelphia, replaced this song with an optional extra when it aired a rerun of a November 18, 1972 broadcast of AT40 (where it ranked at #14) on December 6, 2008. Among other stations, most Clear Channel-owned radio stations to whom the AT40 ’70s rebroadcasts were contracted did not air the rebroadcast that same weekend, although it was because they were playing Christmas music and not because of the controversy. Even back in 1972, some stations would refuse to play this song on AT40, even when it reached number one.

"My Ding-a-Ling" lyrics:

When I was a little biddy boy 
My grandmother bought me a cute little toy 
Silver bells hanging on a string 
She told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling

My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling 
My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling

Then mama took me to Sunday school 
They tried to teach me the Golden Rule 
But when the choir would stand and sing 
I'd sit there and play with my Ding-a-ling-a-ling 

My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling 
My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling

Then mama took me to Grammar school 
But I stopped off in the Besta Beau 
Every time that bell would ring 
 Catch me playing with my ding-a-ling

My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling 
My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling

Once I was climbing the garden wall, 
I slipped and had a terrible fall 
I fell so hard I heard birds ring, 
But held on to My ding-a-ling
Once I was swimming cross turtle creek 
those snapping turtles were snapping at my feet 
Sure was hard swimming cross that thing 
with both hands holding my ding-a-ling
This here song it ain't so sad 
The cutest little song you ever had 
Those of you who will not sing 
You must be playing with your own Ding-a-ling

Source: Wikipedia,,
Photo credit:;;

National Poinsettia Day

December 12, 2011 is

National Poinsettia Day

Celebrate National Poinsettia Day! Although poinsettias are native to Mexico, 90% of all poinsettias are now exported from the United States. The Aztecs considered poinsettias a symbol of purity because of their brilliant red color. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, introduced these gorgeous flowers to the United States in 1820s. While visiting Taxco, Poinsett found the flowers growing on a hillside and sent some of them to his home in South Carolina. The flowers grew well in his greenhouse and Poinsett began distributing them. The name “poinsettia” soon became the accepted name of the flower in English-speaking countries. To celebrate National Poinsettia Day, purchase a beautiful poinsettia plant for a friend or for yourself!

got poinsettias?

All year long there’s hardly a poinsettia to be found, and then suddenly the holiday season rolls around and POOF these bright red plants are showing up in homes and offices all over the country. 

Where do they all come from? Well, Mexico and Central America, actually. (And you thought that was a rhetorical question.) They are native to that part of the world and were first introduced to the United States by a minister named Joel Roberts Poinsett, who also gave the plants their common name. 
We celebrate poinsettias each year on the day of Poinsett’s death, December 12th. If you haven’t already jumped on the poinsettia bandwagon this year, take today to buy one for yourself or a friend for a little flowerpot-full of festive fun.

Source: Ultimate Holiday site
Photo credit:;

Sunday, December 11, 2011

3rd Sunday of Advent

Photo credit:

I see the moon, do you?

Source/Photo credit: Тази вечер имаме невероятно пълнолуние! Погледнете навън! ♥ Аз обичам...

3 Women’s Rights Leaders Accept Nobel Peace Prize

Left, Leymah Gbowee in September; 
center; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, on Friday; 
right: Tawakkol Karman in Sana, Yemen, on Friday.   
In a ceremony in Oslo that repeatedly invoked gender equality and the democratic strivings of the Arab Spring, the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was presented to three female activists and political leaders on Saturday for “their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights” as peacemakers.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three women from Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberiathe first woman to be elected president in modern Africa — her compatriot, the peace activist Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner.  

 Wangari Maathai

They were the first women to win the prize since Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004. 

Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men, and Friday’s decision seemed designed to give impetus to the fight for women’s rights around the world.
Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, one of three joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize,
gave her speech to the audience during the award ceremony in Oslo. 

Photo credit: Trio photo: Left: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times; center: Jane Hahn for The New York Times; right: Yahya Arhab/EPA; Wangari Maathai -; Nigel Waldron/Getty Images

got mountains?

December 11, 2011 is

International Mountain Day

It’s International Mountain Day! This day was designated in 2001 by the United Nations General Assembly to create awareness about the important role that mountainous regions play in the global ecosystem. Mountains are essential to the world’s freshwater supply. They also safeguard many natural resources and protect communities against natural disasters.
The symbol for this holiday consists of three equilateral triangles on a single horizontal line. The left triangle has a blue diamond shape at the top, representing ice and snow on mountain peaks. The middle triangle has an orange circle, representing the resources that are continuously mined from the inside of mountains. The triangle on the right has a small green triangle at the base, representing the crops that grow on mountains. To learn more about this holiday and the events going on in your area, check out the official website.

Happy 65th birthday Unicef

United Nations Children's Fund (or UNICEF) was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. 

In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on this old name. 

Headquartered in New York City, UNICEF provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development Group and its Executive Committee.

Source: Wikipedia
Photo credit:

Total lunar eclipse today

Total lunar eclipse today in Egypt and Middle East / Eclipse totale Lunaire aujourd'hui en Egypte et au Moyen Orient

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy b'day to poet Emily Dickinson today

‎"Beauty is not caused. It is." - Emily Dickinson
Source: Brainy quotes