Why Roses?

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”

– Alphonse Karr, A Tour Round My Garden

The National Retail Federation projects that American consumers will spend an average of $143.56 on Valentine’s Day. Total spending is expected to reach some $19.6 billion.

Nineteen. Point. Six. Billion.

Let that sink in for a moment.

But how did red roses come to be the flower associated with red roses.

In Victorian England sharing emotions and affections was at best a difficult thing. It just was not considered acceptable to flirt openly and even some forms of conversation were frowned upon. The Victorians used bouquets of flowers to express feelings to their loved ones in a system that became known as “floriography.” There were even special dictionaries to guide one in the understanding of the meaning of certain types of flowers.

During this time, roses became to be seen as a symbol of romantic affection.

Tomorrow, on Valentine’s Day, it’s Rose’s turn.

 Cover Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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I’m Sorry

thanksgiving1

It’s not you, it’s me.

Or something like that.

When we relaunched this blog in October we had high hopes for where it would take us. But the blog just isn’t going where we thought it would and it’s taking a bit more time out of our daily schedule that we’d like it to. With the holidays coming up it’s just going to be one more source of stress.

We’re not saying we won’t be back. But we’re taking the rest of 2016 to regroup, rethink, and perhaps…perhaps…relaunch in the new year.

Best to all.

Thanks for stopping by.

Do you still send Christmas cards?

vintagecard

With email and Facebook and texting the sending of letters by U.S. Mail has certainly decreased, and along with that the sending of Christmas cards.

The custom of sending cards at Christmas dates back to 1843 England when Sir Henry Cole, an Assistant Keeper at the Public Record Office (now the Post Office) had an idea along with his artist friend, John Horsley, to design and sell the first Christmas card for about a shilling (about 8 cents in today’s economy). By the early 1900s the custom of Christmas cards had spread across Europe and was especially popular in Germany.

The U.S. saw the beginning of Christmas cards in the 1840s, but they were too expensive for most people to afford. Louis Prang, a printer originally from Germany, started the first mass production of Christmas cards in 1875. In 1915 John C. Hall and two brothers launched Hallmark Cards.

Christmas cards are still fund to send, and in this electronic age they’re fund to receive.

Did you send cards this year?

What’s the deal with fruitcake?

fruitcake

Fruitcake. You either love it. Or you hate it. Or you use it as a doorstop.

There’s no middle ground.

On the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson once said that there was only one fruitcake and that it had been re-gifted around the world for years.

True, the density and high sugar content in fruitcake inhibit the growth of bacteria. That only intensifies if it’s soaked in alcohol. The general rule of thumb is that you need to make a fruitcake three to four months before it is to be consumed. But some fruitcake afficionados wait as much as a year or two. But don’t freeze it because, believe it or not, it won’t keep as long.

If you love fruitcake, maybe it’s because you grew up with it. Or maybe you grew up in Claxton, Georgia which claims to be “The Fruitcake Capital of the World.”

If you must have fruitcake, and if you must bake your own, keep in mind you’re too late for this year’s holiday celebrations. But here are some recipies to consider.

The New York Times has the recipe for White House Fruitcake. That’s the name, not an editorial comment about any past or present occupant.

Food.com has a no-bake fruitcake recipe by Paula Deen. It may shock you to know there’s no butter involved.

You might want to try the Backhouse Family Fruitcake offered by Martha Stewart.

Then there’s Alton Brown’s Free Range Fruitcake shared by the Food Network.

Epicurious gives us Mrs. Mackinnon’s Christmas Fruitcake.

If you try one of these recipes or find your own, come back in a year or two and let us know how it turned out.

Finding the Perfect Gift for Him

christmasgifts

Sometimes the most stressful part of the holiday season is searching for that perfect gift. When you’re looking for that item for the man in your life you might think another tie, another power tool, or even socks and underwear.

Sure, those are all practical, thoughtful gifts. But maybe, just maybe there’s a little something special you can find for him. consider these choices.

transporterNone of us will likely be around when transporters actually…um…materialize, but your man can share the experience with these LED coasters that simulate the Star Trek transporter experience.

 

 

 

jerkygramIt’s the ultimate in snacks. Try sending him a beefy pick-me-up in the form of a Jerky Gram. Choose from Exotic Meats, Bacons or even Booze-Infused.

 

 

 

 

whiskeyOr maybe you can give him his own personalized Whiskey barrel from Uncommon Goods.

 

 

 

 

 

droidFor the Star Wars fan, why not give him the BB-8™, the app-enabled Droid™? The advanced intelligence and interaction is unlike anything previously experienced in a robotic toy.

 

 

 

ducttapeAnd, if you’re looking for practical, what’s more practical than duct tape? Give him the chance to always be prepared by carrying duct tape on his keys.

 

 

This holiday season, think outside the box.

He’ll be glad you did.

Vintage Holiday Toys

Toys these days are great. Whether your child is into cars or dolls or video games, the choices are endless.

But nothing quite beats the classics. Here are some of our favorite toys from the 1960s.

larrythelionLarry the Lion
In 1962 Mattel introduced Larry the Talking Lion. Larry was a plus toy with a pull string that made his mouth move while he uttered different sayings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fleacircus

 

 

 

 

 

Flea Circus Magnetic Action Game
Each player attempts to make their mad magnetic fleas do a five out of a possible ten circus tricks in this 1965 game from Mattel.

 

 

 

spirographSpirograph
Kenner, Inc. first introduced Spirograph in the United States in 1966. It’s a geometric drawing toy that uses plastic gears to create shapes. Now a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc., the Spirograph was re-launched in the U.S. in 2013 by Kahootz Toys.

 

 

 

creepycrawlersCreepy Crawlers
Also known as Thingmaker, Creepy Crawlers were introduced by Mattel in 1964. The Thingmaker has a series of die-cast molds resembling bug-like creatures. A hot liquid called Plastigoop is poured into the molds which are heated over an open-face hot plate oven.

 

 

 

secretsamSecret Sam Secret Agent Kit
The Secret Sam Secret Agent Kit came in its own plastic briefcase which concealed a camera, weapons that could be assembled to make larger versions, and a series of plastic bullets.

No doubt most of these toys would no longer pass the safety or political correctness tests.

But kids of the 1960s seemed to do just fine with them.

Why the Cornucopia?

cornucopia

Origins of the cornucopia go back to ancient mythology. It was the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, most of all those associated with the harvest or spiritual abundance.

Here in America, the cornucopia has become associated mostly with Thanksgiving. The display usually consists of a hollow, horn-shaped basket filled with an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

Want to make a cornucopia of your own? Check out these resources.

Martha Stewart offers instructions to make a handmade cornucopia from raffia. Then she recommends filling it with wheat stalks, squash, apples and pears.

Make it a family project. KidzWorld gives instructions to make a cornucopia from breadstick dough that’s edible when you’re through with the display.

Favecrafts walks you through the instructions for making a cornucopia including suggestions for how to modify a craft store cone-shaped basket.

LilyShop offers instructions for three different types of cornucopia, including making one from pizza dough.

Artists Helping Children suggests several ways for kids to make a cornucopia. Check out the felt one made for holding silverware or a cornucopia wall hanging.

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.
– Henry David Thoreau