Friday, February 28, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 28 2014

Floral Design Day

Floral Design Day is a day to celebrate floral design as an art form.
It is celebrated every year on Feb 28th. Proclaimed by Governor Weld of Massachusetts in 1995.

As someone interested in Floral Art we thought that you would be interested to learn a little bit about Floral Design Day.

The original idea behind Floral Design Day, was an unique way to celebrate a special birthday of Carl Rittner, who founded our school.

Mr. "R" as our students affectionately called him, founded The Rittners School of Floral Design, in Boston, over sixty years ago, and was a pioneer in floral art education. Through the years, his humor, patience and wealth of floral industry knowledge have had a marked impact upon thousands of students from all over the globe.

So it was particularly meaningful when Gov. Weld of Massachusetts proclaimed Floral Design Day as part of Mr. Rittner's special birthday celebration.

The idea of a holiday that celebrates floral design as an art form, is a wonderful one whose time has come. And so, Mr. R and the rest of us here at Rittners, wanted to see Floral Design Day continue to be observed as an event in its own right.

Floral design is a proud art form that has spanned thousands of years, with a diversity of styles reflecting varying social, religious, and cultural trends.

Floral art is a very unique art form in that it plays an important role in our social interactions, for decorating, establishing and maintaining relationships, and generally enhancing the overall quality of our lives.......

The floral industry is a multibillion dollar industry that brightens our lives at such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines' Day, Mother's Day & Secretaries Day as well as on an every day basis, and in so doing, contributes to our economy.

Besides which, making floral designs is a lot of fun and makes us feel good!!

Here are just some of the possible ways to celebrate Floral Design Day:
  • Visit some flower shops. Compare the styles of floral designs and the materials used. How are they similar? How are they different?
  • Check out some flower shop web sites online. Compare the styles of floral designs and the materials used. How are they similar? How are they different?
  • Go to your local museum. Look for paintings containing flowers and floral art.
  • Make a special effort to bring flowers into your home this month.
  • How about a few flowers for your place of business? Don't they create a nicer environment?
  • Send flowers to someone you love.
  • Take your local florist to lunch.
  • Send flowers to your local florist!!
  • Send flowers to someone you may not be close to. Perhaps the friendship may grow.
  • Give some flowers to your boss.
  • Buy some books with pictures of Floral Art.
  • Try your hand at making a few floral designs yourself. Need a little online help? No problem. Visit the Floral Education Center section of our web site for some free lessons.
  • Take a flower arranging course, or perhaps a class in color or interior design!
National Chocolate Soufflé Day

A real chocolate pick-me-up - February 28 is National Chocolate Soufflé Day!

Soufflés may be the only thing to rival the kind of lift many women achieve with gallons of hairspray - not to mention the fact that they taste like heaven.

The flavorful base is usually made with a French crème pâtissière (pasty cream), but the secret to this lightly baked cake is whipped egg whites.   The name comes from a French verb, souffler, which literally means to "blow up" or "puff up," and that's exactly the magic that happens when you bake custard and egg whites together.

Your best bet for baking individual or even one large chocolate soufflé is the ramekin. When you're ready to take them out of the oven, it will be puffy and fluffy - and then deflate a little about ten minutes later. But, don't worry! It's supposed to do that.

Get fancy and even if you're not in trouble with your significant other, make them feel special and bake an individual chocolate soufflé for your sweetie. One little investment of your time can go a long way.

National Tooth Fairy Day

When it comes to holidays, February 28 isn't your average, run-of-the-mill special day.Not only is it National Public Sleeping Day, Feb. 28 is also National Tooth Fairy Day! Hooray!

Tooth Fairy
This annual "holiday" celebrates one of children's most beloved visitors, the Tooth Fairy. While Santa Claus brings gifts and the Easter Bunny brings eggs of all shapes and sizes, the Tooth Fairy has a pretty popular arrangement with children all over the world.

When a baby tooth falls out, either on its own or with a little help, children simply place the tooth underneath their pillow. Once the child is fast asleep, the Tooth Fairy will make a special trip in the dark of night, pick up the tooth and leave a little gift in its place, which is typically some hard-earned cash! Today also serves as a reminder for parents to encourage children to take care of their teeth and keep them in tip-top shape.

While many folks around the world know the importance of the 3 R's, surely the wise and magical Tooth Fairy recycles and reuses all those pearly whites? And just in case you miss this one, National Tooth Fairy Day is also observed on August 22.

National Public Sleeping Day

If the winter blues have you down in the dumps these days, this may be your lucky day! And if a little nap sounds perfect right about now, go grab your blankie! February 28 is (National) Public Sleeping Day! Hooray!

While the origins of this annual "holiday" are unknown, chances are pretty good the creator was probably just as tired as the rest of us. While sleeping on the job is not recommended, anyone can celebrate National Public Sleeping Day. Whether you choose to do it on the bus, on the train, in the cafeteria or in the confines of your own home, a little snooze may just be what the doctor ordered!

So turn off all those handy-dandy electronic gadgets, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door, turn off the lights and get ready to enjoy an afternoon siesta. When you wake up, chances are pretty good you'll be refreshed and ready to get back to work. Just remember - it's back to the old routine tomorrow!

Rare Disease Day

Rare Disease Day is an annual, awareness-raising event co-ordinated by EURORDIS at the international level and by National Alliances and Patient Organisations at the national level. 

The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

The campaign targets primarily the general public but it is also designed for patients and patient representatives, as well as politicians, public authorities, policy-makers, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.

Since Rare Disease Day was first launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, more than 1000 events have taken place throughout the world reaching hundreds of thousands of people and resulting in a great deal of media coverage.

The political momentum resulting from the Day has also served for advocacy purposes. It has notably contributed to the advancement of national plans and policies for rare diseases in a number of countries.

Even though the campaign started as a European event, it has progressively become a world event, with over 70 countries participating in 2013. We hope many more will join in 2014. Our objective is for the WHO to recognize the last day of February as the official Rare Disease Day and to raise increasing awareness for Rare Diseases worldwide. 

A disease or disorder is defined as rare in Europe when it affects fewer than 1 in 2000.

A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the USA when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.

One rare disease may affect only a handful of patients in the EU (European Union), and another touch as many as 245,000. In the EU, as many as 30 million people alone may be affected by one of over 6000 rare diseases existing.
  • 80% of rare diseases have identified genetic origins whilst others are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.
  • 50% of rare diseases touch children.
Characteristics of rare diseases
Over 6000 rare diseases are characterized by a broad diversity of disorders and symptoms that vary not only from disease to disease but also from patient to patient suffering from the same disease.

Relatively common symptoms can hide underlying rare diseases leading to misdiagnosis and delaying treatment. Quintessentially disabling, the patients quality of life is affected by the lack or loss of autonomy due to the chronic, progressive, degenerative, and frequently life-threatening aspects of the disease.

The fact that there are often no existing effective cures adds to the high level of pain and suffering endured by patients and their families.

Common problems faced
The lack of scientific knowledge and quality information on the disease often results in a delay in diagnosis. Also the need for appropriate quality health care engenders inequlities and difficulties in access to treatment and care. This often results in heavy social and financial burdens on patients.

As mentioned, due to the broad diversity of disorders and relatively common symptoms which can hide underlying rare diseases, initial misdiagnosis is common. In addition symptoms differ not only from disease to disease, but also from patient to patient suffering from the same disease.

How can things change?
Although rare disease patients and their families face many challenges, enormous progress is being made every day.

The ongoing implementation of a better comprehensive approach to rare diseases has led to the development of appropriate public health policies. Important gains continue to be made with the increase of international cooperation in the field of clinical and scientific research as well as the sharing of scientific knowledge about all rare diseases, not only the most “recurrent” ones. Both of these advances have led to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

However, the road ahead is long with much progress to be made.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 27 2014

International Polar Bear Day

A lot of animals serve as indicators of the world’s ecosystem. Just by studying certain animal species, our attention is focused on environmental problems we unconsciously created in our industrial developmental processes. Bees, for one, had called mankind’s attention on the harmful effects of insecticides. Polar bears, on the other hand, remind us of the harmful effects of climate change.

There is no record found as to the origin of this special day. It is, however, observed and supported by various animal and environmental groups. This day celebrates the existence and value of the world’s largest carnivore which can grow as tall as nine feet and weigh 1,400 pounds. Polar bears live at the North Pole region and are native to Alaska, Greenland, Russia, Canada and Norway.

The International Polar Bear Day is observed to prevent their extinction caused by loss of sea ice habitat through climate change. According to the World Wildlife Fund Canada, increased industrial activities on oil and gas are also causing threats to the polar bear population. Polar bears, generally left handed, are nature’s most impressive hunter but are also being hunted but men.

Polar bears are important indicator of the well-being of the arctic ecosystem. Because of this, the Polar Bear International was created with the purpose of saving them by saving their sea ice habitat. This is currently the world’s leading polar bear conservation group actively supporting the observation of the International Polar bear Day.

Observance can be done by volunteering or donating to the Polar Bear International. Visiting local zoos and studying polar bears by watching nature television channels is another way to observe the day. If qualified, joining Project Polar Bear contest in America and Canada would be great. Checking websites on Polar Bear Day and joining activities are also highly suggested.

National Chili Day

In countries having four seasons in a year, food cravings must be varied and largely influenced by the weather. But for those having only two seasons, the range of food choices generally remain constant. Is it possible for anyone to enjoy a bowl of red in countries located at the Pacific’s Ring of Fire? How would you feel having one when it’s only the shade of the coconut trees protecting you from the hot searing summer sun?

There is no available official record as to the origin of the fun day. Even the origin of chili is surrounded by myths and legends. The oldest recorded myth is in 1600’s, when Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun, was believed to preach Christianity to the Indians through astral body projection. It was during her return when she brought with her the recipe for Chili Con Carne.

Another was in 1723, when Canary Islanders came to San Antonio introducing various chili menus. This legend is supported by J. C. Clopper who wrote in 1828 about his encounters with chili food in his visit to San Antonio. In 1880,  San Antonio market started having chili stands selling bowls of red. Finally, chili manufacturers in Texas, in 1977, lobbied to have chili proclaimed the official “State Food” of Texas.

Chili is a comfort food during the winter season. In return to this benefit, the National Chili Day, which is always celebrated in the year’s coldest month, pays tribute to the humble chili. Chili, when eaten, brings warmth to the body. It is also known to be an aphrodisiac and labelled by Spanish priests in the olden days as the “Soup of the Devil.”

Chili can be prepared in so many ways. The most popular chili creation is the Chili Con Carne which was, in 1893, featured at the World’s Fair in Chicago in. Having its origin from the Mexican, Native American and Spanish culinary tradition, it is now a staple winter food and may be prepared Texas-style, Mexican-style or vegetarian. To recognize it, all people need to do is partake of a meal with chili.

National Kahlua Day

It’s National Kahlua Day! Kahlua is a rich, creamy alcoholic liqueur from Mexico. People enjoy it straight up, on the rocks, and mixed in coffee or cocktails (like the White Russian). Kahlua is also used to flavor desserts such as ice cream, cakes, and cheesecakes.

The word “kahlua” means “house of the Acolhua people” in the Nahuatl language. A company named Domecq has produced the drink since 1936 and named it for the native people of Veracruz. Kahlua is made with rum, Mexican coffee, sugar, and vanilla.

To celebrate National Kahlua Day, mix up your favorite Kahlua cocktail or bake a divine Kahlua-flavored cake to share with friends!

National Strawberry Day

Seeds on the outside, sweet on the inside - February 27 is  National Strawberry Day!

Even if these little red fruits bursting with sweet perfection aren't in season, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy them today!

A gift from Chile in the 1700s, garden strawberry plants made their way to North America in the 1750s. The plant is fairly easy to grow and doesn't seem adverse to flourishing anywhere in the world. If you'd like your own homegrown strawberries this summer, make sure your plant has full sun and sandy soil - and your dogs don't eat off all the berries before you can pick a few.

If fresh strawberries aren't at their best in your grocery store, don't forget the many accessible forms you can always get your hands on. Frozen and dried strawberries can help in a pinch if you're creating in the kitchen. Strawberry preserves, ice cream, yogurt, smoothies and milkshakes are nothing to shake a stick at either.

But if you are one of the lucky folks who stumbled on some great fresh strawberries, you can whip up a strawberry pie, shortcake or even a simple dish of strawberries and cream.

National Day of Action

For the past nine years, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) has called upon the Peace Corps community to unite for a National Day of Action.  On that day, all supporters of the Peace Corps are urged to reach out to their members of Congress to support a strong and vibrant Peace Corps.

2013 saw the largest Day of Action so far.  Along with lots of communication from all around the country, over 90 advocates were on Capitol Hill. Coming from 25 states, our advocates participated in nearly 150 congressional meetings, including 88 constituent meetings and 43 meetings with new members of Congress.  On top of that, information packets were distributed to all 535 congressional offices.

As one participant in 2013 wrote:
“It is encouraging and inspirational to see the bi-partisan support for Peace Corps among our legislators and to see the deep commitment to Peace Corps among RPCVs of all decades.  Peace Corps matters!”
No Brainer Day

In case you haven’t heard, February 27th is No Brainer Day. Since some of our daily tasks require little thought and we go about our day set on auto-pilot, it’s no wonder we have a No Brainer Day.

Since little is known about the origins of this particular just-for-fun “holiday”, how about we designate No Brainer Day as a worldwide working holiday, paid of course. It should be celebrated only during work hours, with plenty of free food, drink and entertainment on hand. Of course it goes without saying, no actual work is allowed.

So go ahead - give your brain a rest and celebrate No Brainer Day today! Then tomorrow, it's back to work we go!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 26 2014

Inconvenience Yourself Day

Inconvenience Yourself Day is celebrated on the fourth Wednesday of February. The day is an opportunity to focus on inconveniencing ourselves instead of inconveniencing others. Inconvenience Yourself is a way of living. It includes not only how people behave, but also recognizing and acknowledging the actions of others.

The concept is simple, the idea is embraceable, and it certainly seems like common sense. But in the shuffle of day-to-day activities, people get lost in their busy lives and forget how their actions affect others.

"Think about the last time you cut someone off in traffic or hurried out the door without holding it for the person behind you…it probably wasn't intentional nor did you even notice there was anyone so close behind," says Julie Thompson, creator of Inconvenience Yourself.

The idea behind Inconvenience Yourself encourages people to pay attention to their own actions, understand how their actions affect others, and adjust which actions have a negative impact on people they encounter.

Inconvenience Yourself is a way of living. It includes not only how people behave, but also recognizing and acknowledging the actions of others. This everyday concept has been recognized by Chase’s Calendar of Events and has received national attention. Celebrated on the fourth Wednesday in February, the day is an opportunity for people to focus on inconveniencing themselves instead of inconveniencing others. It is also a day to recognize and acknowledge those who inconvenience themselves for others. Acknowledgment can be verbal, a note, or some small token of appreciation. The concept has been embraced by businesses, teachers, children and parents.

A child can inconvenience themselves by being responsible, dependable and polite. A teacher can incorporate the concept through education and by reinforcing values. Students can learn classroom citizenship to help prevent bullying. A business can integrate the idea into their customer relations and customer service standards.

Thompson explains, “Many of our actions seem to say we think we are more significant than the next person; that our lives and schedules are more important than some else’s. We often inconvenience other people to make our own lives easier and don’t give a thought to the impact of our actions on others. This movement is a way to recognize how we can positively change the way we go about our lives.”

Stories from children, teachers and business owners who have inconvenienced themselves for others can be found on the Inconvenience Yourself website. Thompson also encourages people to share their stories to help spread the idea. For more information about how Inconvenience Yourself can change lives, business or classroom activities, visit

About Inconvenience Yourself: Inconvenience Yourself™ was conceived in 2006 after Julie Thompson observed that many people forget to think about how their actions affect other people. In the fast-paced world in which we live, with schedules overflowing with commitments, people go about their lives without recognizing that what they do impacts other people. Inconvenience Yourself™ is not intended to suggest that people become completely self-sacrificing. Instead, it encourages people to pay attention to their own actions, understand how those actions impact others, and adjust actions which have a negative effect on others.

Levi Strauss Day

February 26,1829, was the day Levi Strauss, pioneer of blue jeans and founder of the company that still bears his name, was born. Although Levi's jeans were long seen as the quintessential American article of clothing, Loeb Strauss (his given name) was a Bavarian-born Jew from the town of Buttenheim, who arrived in the United States with his family only in 1845. His father, Hirsch Strauss, had died two years earlier, and his mother, Rebecca Haas Strauss (Hirsch’s second wife), sailed with her younger children and stepchildren to join two of the older sons, who had already set up a dry-goods business in New York.

By January 1853, 23-year-old Levi headed west to San Francisco, to seek his fortune by opening a branch of the family business to sell clothing and accessories to the California Gold Rushers. In 1872, one of his clients, Jacob Davis, a Reno, Nevada, tailor, sent Strauss a letter, describing how he used copper rivets to strengthen the stress points of the work pants that he fashioned out of fabric bought from the Californian. Davis suggested that the two seek a patent for the riveting method – a patent that was granted on May 20, 1873. The rivets were fastened at the corners of the pockets and the base of the fly.

By then, Levi Strauss was already an established member of San Francisco society, active in the city’s first synagogue, Congregation Emanu-El, and other institutions. Davis joined him in California, where he oversaw the tailor shop Strauss established for the production of the “XX” model of “waist overalls,” as these trousers were then called. (In 1890, the year the firm became incorporated, it also replaced “XX” with “501,” arguably the brand's most popular style that is still sold today.) The cotton denim itself was originally produced by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Until the 1920s, Levi’s jeans were sold mainly in the West, and served for the most part as work clothes. Soon after, they started making their way east, mainly with vacationers who had encountered them at dude ranches they had visited. In World War II, they became an item rationed to defense workers, and to conserve thread, the company was forbidden from applying the decorative double arch stitching on the rear pockets of the jeans, which had by then become something of a trademark. (They had the arches painted onto the pockets for the duration of the war.)

As for the company’s founder – Levi Strauss died on September 26, 1902. Because he had never married and did not have a family of his own, Strauss left his business and estate to his four nephews, the children of his sister Fanny and her husband, David Stern. That estate was valued at $6 million, or some $160 million in 2013 terms. In addition to what he bequeathed to family members, he also bestowed gifts on the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum, the Home for Aged Israelites, the Roman Catholic and Protestant Orphan Asylums and the Emanu-El Sisterhood, among other beneficiaries.

By 2010, Levi Strauss & Co., which had gone from being family-owned to being publicly shared, was once again a private company, controlled by relatives of Levi Strauss’ nephews. The firm employed more than 16,000 people worldwide, and raked in $4.4 billion in revenues.

National For Pete's Sake Day

If you happen to be a certain age, chances are pretty good you have heard or even uttered the phrase, "for Pete's sake." One day a year is actually dedicated to that once-common phrase. February 26 is For Pete's Sake Day! This annual "holiday" was created by the folks at Wellcat and is listed on Chase's Calendar of Events.

The phrase was commonly used as a substitute for the more offensive phrase, "for God's sake" or "for Christ's sake" and was said when someone was surprised, annoyed, frustrated or irritated. And in case you are wondering who the heck Pete is, you aren't alone. While some believe Pete may refer to the Apostle Peter, others suggest the phrase evolved from older phrases, "for the love of Mike" or "for pity's sake."

In honor of For Pete's Sake Day, check out a few other common phrases and idioms from the past.

Famous Phrases and Idioms from Days Gone By
  • Honest to Pete
  • Heavens to Betsy
  • A Doubting Thomas
  • Cup of Joe
  • Peter Out
  • Moaning Minnie
  • Debbie Downer
  • Johnny on the Spot
  • Jack of all Trades
  • Charlie Horse
  • Round Robin
  • The Bee's Knees
  • As Busy as a Bee
  • The Cat's Meow
  • Cat Got Your Tongue
  • It's Raining Cats and Dogs
  • Barking Mad
  • Something to Crow About
  • Bats in the Belfry
  • A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush
  • For the Birds
  • As Cute as a Bug's Ear
  • Snug as a Bug in a Rug
  • Chew the Cud
  • 'Till the Cows Come Home
  • Stubborn as a Mule
  • When Pigs Fly
  • In a Pig's Eye
  • Pig in a Poke
  • Straight From the Horse's Mouth
  • To Hell in a Handbasket
  • Shake a Leg
  • A Foot in the Door
  • Put Your Best Foot Forward
  • Goody Two-Shoes
  • Chip on Your Shoulder
  • Play it by Ear
  • Wet Behind the Ears
  • Red-Handed
  • By the Skin of Your Teeth
  • Short End of the Stick
  • A Sticky Wicket
  • No Rest for the Wicked
  • Your Name is Mud
  • Cool as a Cucumber
  • As Keen as Mustard
  • Spill the Beans
  • A Penny for Your Thoughts
  • A Watched Pot Never Boils
  • Get Your Dander Up
  • Lose Your Marbles
  • Bite the Dust
  • Hit the Hay
National Pistachio Day

Get crackin'! February 26 is National Pistachio Day.

It’s not every day that a simple nut has its own dedicated advertising campaign, and a cheeky one at that, but the humble pistachio is more than deserving.

Pistachios require a little elbow grease to eat because the greenish edible seed is encased in a harder outer shell that you have to crack open. There are many tips on how to do this, some more practical than others. The least labor intensive way is to simply wait. Pistachio shells will open easily if they’re fully ripe. The same effect is achieved by roasting.

If the nut doesn’t yield from its shell easily, you can always use half of a shell from an already cracked nut to help. The half shell acts as a lever; insert it into the opening of the whole, unopened nut and twist. This should release the pistachio from its shell.

Because pistachios have been around since as early as 7,000 B.C., they have a lot of historical significance and symbolism. In Iran, they’re known as the "smiling nut." In China, they're called the “happy nut.”

One of the earliest desserts made with pistachios was baklava. This Middle Eastern pastry often features a nutty component, such as roasted pistachios. Making baklava at home can be time-consuming and sticky (so props to you if you give it a go!). Here’s a quick cheat version:

Mix chopped, roasted pistachios with some honey and cinnamon. You want the mixture to be thick, not runny. (Orange blossom honey works great here.) Then, lay one sheet of store-bought phyllo dough on a flat work surface and brush it with melted butter. Add a second layer of dough, and cut it into 3-inch squares. Lightly brush a large muffin tin with melted butter and lay a square into each opening. Spoon in the pistachio syrup and bring the sides of the dough up around it. Pinch the edges closed so you’ve got a little parcel. Brush the tops of the parcels with more melted butter and bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven until the phyllo dough browns. This will take about 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 25 2014

National Chocolate-Covered Nuts Day

It’s National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day! Nuts have been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were fond of the walnut, Native Americans enjoyed the pecan, and the Chinese believed the hazelnut was one of the five sacred nourishments. People also believed that chocolate had divine properties.

The Aztecs and Mayans prepared drinking chocolate for all their sacred rituals. In the 17th century chocolate became a very fashionable drink throughout Europe and people soon learned that everything tastes better when it’s covered in chocolate. By the middle of the 19th century it was a common practice to dip items like pretzels, nuts, and fruits into melted chocolate.

Celebrate National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day with your favorite chocolate and nut combination!

National Clam Chowder Day

February 25 is National Clam Chowder Day. While New England doesn't have a monopoly on clam chowder, it is probably the most recognized regional style of this soup. However, there are many variations of chowders from region to region that are distinctively sourced and flavored.

So that we’re all on the same page, here’s a crash course in clam chowder:

New England Clam Chowder: This popular, stick-to-your-ribs soup is cream-based and thickened by the starch from potatoes or crushed oyster crackers. Other base ingredients include onions, celery and bacon.

Manhattan Clam Chowder: Tomatoes set this version apart from its New England cousin. They're used in lieu of the cream.

Hatteras Clam Chowder: This favorite from North Carolina's Outer Banks has no cream or tomatoes in it, so the broth is clear.

Minorcan Clam Chowder: Further down the coast in Florida, chowder junkies can’t get enough of this spicy version. It’s tomato-based, like Manhattan-style chowder, and also has corn in it. What sets it apart from other chowders is the addition of a spicy pepper called the datil. They grow readily in northern Florida and give Minorcan chowder a distinctive kick.

As for the clams you’ll see in these different chowders, the most commonly used are littlenecks, longnecks, cherrystones and the quahog varieties. If you’re making chowder at home, use whatever is freshest in your seafood market and you can’t go wrong.

World Spay Day

Spay and neuter: it’s a proven means of saving lives. Tuesday, February 25, 2014 is the 20th annual World Spay Day, a campaign by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society International (HSI) to raise awareness of spay/neuter as a solution to animal overpopulation.

According to HSUS, an estimated 6-8 million homeless kittens, puppies, cats and dogs enter animal shelters in the United States every year. The majority of homeless animals in the U.S. represent puppies and kittens of pets accidentally or intentionally allowed to breed. About half of homeless animals are adopted, while 2.7 million adoptable pets are euthanized.

Worldwide, street animal overpopulation is often addressed by local authorities through the use of electrocution, poison or other methods that are ineffective as long-term solutions. World Spay Day globally promotes the benefit of spaying and neutering as permanent, effective methods of birth control, ensuring that those animals will not add to the population by continuing to reproduce.

World Spay Day events in the U.S. and around the world include low- and no-cost spay/neuter clinics, veterinary services for low-income families, fundraisers for spay/neuter programs, and educational efforts.
"By informing others of the importance of spay/neuter, you become an important part of the solution." — The Humane Society of the United States
For more information, visit

Monday, February 24, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 24 2014

National Tortilla Chip Day

Kids and adults love tortilla chips. Since tortillas are such a popular snack, that they are honored on their own special day. February 24 is National Tortilla Chip Day.

Tortilla chips are a nationwide sensation, and many households are never without them.

Can you believe that the tortilla chip is so popular in Texas that in 2003, Texas became the official state snack?

What exactly is a tortilla chip?
A tortilla chip is a snack food made from corn tortillas that are cut into wedges and then fried. Corn tortillas are made of corn, vegetable oil, salt and water.

Although tortilla chips are considered to be a Mexican food, they are popular with most people who have ever tasted them.

What is the origin of the tortilla chip?
It is said that Rebecca Webb Carranza invented tortilla chips in the 1950s. Carranza and her husband owned the El Zarape Tortilla Factory in Los Angeles and were among the first to automate the production of tortillas. The machine often produced rejected tortillas. Carranza decided to use them instead of throwing them away. She cut the rejected tortillas into triangles, fried them, and sold them in a bag for a dime. They cost more today in the grocery store, but they are worth every penny.

Tortilla chips soon became a nationwide snack. They can be eaten alone or served with salsa, chili, guacamole, cheese dips and a variety of other appetizers.

To celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day is quite easy. Buy a bag of your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy them with your favorite dip. Share with family and friends for a great celebration.

World Bartender Day

The bartender is everyone’s favorite person on a night out. They will keep you well supplied in beverages – probably of an alcoholic variety – at any bar or pub you happen to visit, as long as you have enough money and aren't too drunk to be served!

World Bartender Day is the day to appreciate the staff in your local bar. They work hard to keep their customers happy and often don’t get paid very well! Remember to always be friendly to the bartender, especially by being patient if you have to wait to be served. Give the bartender a smile and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – the bartender will appreciate it and you are more likely to get better service next time you buy a drink. Most importantly, if you’re in a country where tipping is expected, make sure you tip appropriately!

Anyone want a drink?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 23 2014

The Great American Spit Out

Operation Fresh Start: Pitch the Dip

Are you ready to step up to the plate? On Sunday, February 23, join Quit Tobacco – Make Everyone Proud for the Great American Spit Out, and pitch the dip.

By participating in Operation Fresh Start: Pitch the Dip you’re accepting the mission to become tobacco-free. It’s one of the toughest operations you can undertake, but the reward for a successful mission is a better life.

But what’s so bad about smokeless tobacco? Where there’s no smoke, there’s no fire, right? Wrong. Cancer of the mouth, tongue, cheek, gum, throat, esophagus, stomach and pancreases are all cancers caused by smokeless tobacco. Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on your mouth – tooth loss, receding gums, stained teeth and bad breath. You don’t always get three strikes when it comes to your health.

Tips on carrying out Operation Fresh Start during the Great American Spit Out:
  • Instead of using a nicotine patch, think about using nicotine gum or a nicotine lozenge. You’ll need something else to do with your mouth instead of putting in dip.
  • Make a list of what’s most important to you, and look at it every day. Watching your daughter grow up, reaching a tenth anniversary, smiling with a full set of white teeth – all of these are being jeopardized by smokeless tobacco.
  • Exercise is one of the best ways to keep a craving at bay. Working out regularly will make you healthier overall and help you beat your nicotine addiction.
  • Find a support group and talk to someone about quitting. You’re twice as likely to be successful in your mission if you get support.
The rate of smokeless tobacco use in the military is at 12.8 percent, that’s nearly 10 percent higher than the civilian population. Make it your mission to start fresh and become an example for those who look up to you. Visit to learn more and knock your quit attempt out of the park during the Great American Spit Out.

Curling is Cool Day

Although some fashionistas may be disappointed to learn this particular holiday has nothing whatsoever to do with hair, today's holiday has everything to do with a team sport that, at first glance, some may consider a bit peculiar.

Curling, a sport that began in Scotland centuries ago, is actually played during the Winter Olympic Games. In fact, curling is actually considered one of the fastest growing sports in America!

Curling is Fun
In a nutshell, four players on two teams slide eight heavy polished stones across ice toward a target at the other end of the ice. And just in case you are wondering why a broom is used in curling, sweeping makes the rock travel a longer distance and curl less. The goal is to get your stone closer to the center of the target. The team with the highest score total, wins.

Curling was invented in medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541. Two paintings, 'Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap' and 'The Hunters in the Snow' (both dated 1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder depict Flemish peasants curling—Scotland and the Low Countries had strong trading and cultural links during this period, which is also evident in the history of golf.

Evidence that curling existed in Scotland in the early 16th century includes a curling stone inscribed with the date 1511 uncovered (along with another bearing the date 1551) when an old pond was drained at Dunblane, Scotland. Kilsyth Curling Club claims to be the first club in the world, having been formally constituted in 1716; it is still in existence today. Kilsyth also claims the oldest purpose-built curling pond in the world at Colzium, in the form of a low dam creating a shallow pool some 100 × 250 metres in size.

The word curling first appears in print in 1620 in Perth, in the preface and the verses of a poem by Henry Adamson. The game was (and still is, in Scotland and Scottish-settled regions like southern New Zealand) also known as "the roaring game" because of the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble (droplets of water applied to the playing surface). The verbal noun curling is formed from the Scots (and English) verb curl, which describes the motion of the stone.

In the early history of curling, the playing stones (or rocks) were simply flat-bottomed river stones that were sometimes notched or shaped; the thrower, unlike those of today, had little control over the stone, and relied more on luck than on skill and strategy. Additionally, because of the variance and inconsistency found in the size of river stones, the velocity of so-called curls varied hugely.

It is recorded that in Darvel, East Ayrshire, the weavers relaxed by playing curling matches. The stones they used were the heavy stone weights from the weavers' warp beams, fitted with a detachable handle for the purpose. Many a wife would keep her husband's brass curling stone handle on the mantelpiece, brightly polished until the next time it was needed.

Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the 16th and 19th centuries, as the climates provided good ice conditions every winter. Scotland is home to the international governing body for curling, the World Curling Federation, Perth, which originated as a committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, the mother club of curling.

Today, the game is most firmly established in Canada, having been taken there by Scottish emigrants. The Royal Montreal Curling Club, the oldest established sports club still active in North America, was established in 1807. The first curling club in the United States was established in 1830, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the 19th century, also by Scots. Today, curling is played all over Europe and has spread to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Korea.

The first world championship for curling was limited to men and was known as the Scotch Cup, held in Falkirk and Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1959. The first world title was won by the Canadian team from Regina, Saskatchewan, skipped by Ernie Richardson.

International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

On the “heels” of Pet Theft Awareness Day and Love Your Pet Day, today is going to the dogs! Literally! Today is National Dog Biscuit Day also known as International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. While the origins of this annual "howliday" are unknown, February 23 pays homage to man’s best friend. Yessir, dogs really do get their day today!

The History of Doggy Treats
Canines have enjoyed treats for centuries, although earlier versions were quite a bit different than today’s variety. Dog treats used to include stale, moldy bread, rotting leftovers and rock-hard biscuits made out of grain. Pretty "ruff", right? But American James Spratt changed all that on a trip to England in the mid-1800s when he saw hungry, stray dogs scavenging for leftover food. It wasn’t long before he developed a cake-like biscuit comprised of meat, grains and vegetables called “Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes” and the rest, as they say, is history. Then in 1908, the F. H. Bennett Biscuit Co. of New York developed hard-baked, bone-shaped biscuits comprised of various minerals, cow’s milk and meat products, the Milk-Bone.

Doggy treats have come a long way over the years. Today’s treats come in a slew of flavors, shapes and sizes. Whether you buy them in a box or at a gourmet pet food store, nothing gets more tails-a-waggin' than a little treat to eat. Doggy treats not only taste good, they can help clean dogs’ teeth and be used as a reward for good behavior too.

National Banana Bread Day

Go bananas over this sweet, sweet bread because February 23 is National Banana Bread Day!

If you've got a bunch of bananas wasting away on your counter and you're thinking about giving them the heave-ho, STOP in the name of banana bread! You'll never have a better excuse to grab a fork and mash up old bananas than this moist quick bread.

When baking soda and baking powder gained popularity in the 1930s, the landscape of breads, cakes and cakey breads changed forever. Although there is evidence that housewives in the 1700s experimented with a type of banana bread using pearlash, both Pillsbury and Chiquita published recipes for banana bread in 1933 and 1950, respectively.

The home baking revolution that swept the U.S. during the early 1960s carried banana bread on its wave of explosive popularity, and it soon became a staple in households everywhere. Variations including raisins,chopped walnuts or pecans and chocolate chips also continue to thrive.

Get even funkier with your banana bread making and bake peanut butter banana bread, featuring one of the best combinations known to man. It's a little bit fruit serving, a little bit of protein, and a whole lot of love.

Play Tennis Day

Sports activities are good as they prove to be good exercise for all people of all ages. A wide array of choices make sports a very entertaining activity as well. Health conditions and body built are important factors to consider when choosing a sport. But nothing beats availability and convenience. If you want a large group game, you can always learn basketball or baseball. But if you’re contented with one or three, tennis is just right for you!

The first observance of this fun holiday has not been recorded. However, this date is the anniversary of the lawn tennis being patented in 1874 by Walter Wingfield of Pimlico, England. Its purpose is to play tennis and promote this game.

On this day, many schools and sports organizations conduct games worldwide. Tennis is a sport that people usually play individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). This game is always part of any school’s varsity game listings for competition with other schools or locality.

If this day turns to be sunny, playing a set of lawn tennis with friends would be a good way of celebrating the day. Otherwise, watching tennis games on the television or playing online tennis games would be alternatives. Sending ecards or tennis crossword puzzles to friends on the fun day will surely help in the awareness objective of the day.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 22 2014

George Washington's Birthday

George Washington (1732-99) was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War (1775-83) and served two terms as the first U.S. president, from 1789 to 1797. The son of a prosperous planter, Washington was raised in colonial Virginia. As a young man, he worked as a surveyor then fought in the French and Indian War (1754-63). During the American Revolution, he led the colonial forces to victory over the British and became a national hero. In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution. Two years later, Washington became America’s first president. Realizing that the way he handled the job would impact how future presidents approached the position, he handed down a legacy of strength, integrity and national purpose. Less than three years after leaving office, he died at his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, at age 67.

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, at his family’s plantation on Pope’s Creek in Westmoreland County, in the British colony of Virginia, to Augustine Washington (1694-1743) and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708-89). George, the eldest of Augustine and Mary Washington’s six children, spent much of his childhood at Ferry Farm, a plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. After Washington’s father died when he was 11, it’s likely he helped him mother manage the plantation.

Few details about Washington’s early education are known, although children of prosperous families like his typically were taught at home by private tutors or attended private schools. It’s believed he finished his formal schooling at around age 15.

As a teenager, Washington, who had shown an aptitude for mathematics, became a successful surveyor. His surveying expeditions into the Virginia wilderness earned him enough money to begin acquiring land of his own.

In 1751, Washington made his only trip outside of America, when he travelled to Barbados with his older half-brother Lawrence (1718-52), who was suffering from tuberculosis and hoped the warm climate would help him recuperate. Shortly after their arrival, George contracted smallpox. He survived, although the illness left him with permanent facial scars. In 1752, Lawrence, who had been educated in England and served as Washington’s mentor, died. Washington eventually inherited Lawrence’s estate, Mount Vernon, on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia.

In December 1752, Washington, who had no previous military experience, was made a commander of the Virginia militia. He saw action in the French and Indian War and was eventually put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. By 1759, Washington had resigned his commission, returned to Mount Vernon and was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he served until 1774. In January 1759, he married Martha Dandridge Custis (1731-1802), a wealthy widow with two children. Washington became a devoted stepfather to the children; he and Martha never had any offspring of their own.

In the ensuing years, Washington expanded Mount Vernon from 2,000 acres into an 8,000-acre property with five farms. He grew a variety of crops, including wheat and corn, bred mules and maintained fruit orchards and a successful fishery. He was deeply interested in farming and continually experimented with new crops and methods of land conservation.

By the late 1760s, Washington had experienced firsthand the effects of rising taxes imposed on American colonists by the British, and came to believe that it was in the best interests of the colonists to declare independence from England. Washington served as a delegate to the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia. By the time the Second Continental Congress convened a year later, the American Revolution had begun in earnest, and Washington was named commander in chief of the Continental Army.

Washington proved to be a better general than military strategist. His strength lay not in his genius on the battlefield but in his ability to keep the struggling colonial army together. His troops were poorly trained and lacked food, ammunition and other supplies (soldiers sometimes even went without shoes in winter). However, Washington was able to give them the direction and motivation to keep going.

Over the course of the grueling eight-year war, the colonial forces won few battles but consistently held their own against the British. In October 1781, with the aid of the French (who allied themselves with the colonists over their rivals the British), the Continental forces were able to capture British troops under General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) in Yorktown, Virginia. This action effectively ended the Revolutionary War and Washington was declared a national hero.

In 1783, with a peace treaty signed between Great Britain and the U.S., Washington, believing he had done his duty, gave up his command of the army and returned to Mount Vernon, intent on resuming his life as a gentleman farmer and family man. However, in 1787, he was asked to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and head the committee to draft the new constitution. His impressive leadership there convinced the delegates that he was by far the most qualified man to become the nation’s first president.

At first Washington balked. He wanted to, at last, return to a quiet life at home and leave governing the new nation to others. But public opinion was so strong that eventually he gave in. The first presidential election was held on January 7, 1789, and Washington won handily. John Adams (1735-1826), who received the second-largest number of votes, became the nation’s first vice president. The 57-year-old Washington was inaugurated on April 30, 1789, in New York City. Because Washington, D.C., America’s future capital city wasn’t yet built, he lived in New York and Philadelphia.

The United States was a small nation when Washington took office, consisting of 11 states and approximately 4 million people, and there was no precedent for how the new president should conduct domestic or foreign business. Mindful that his actions would likely determine how future presidents were expected to govern, Washington worked hard to set an example of fairness, prudence and integrity. In foreign matters, he supported cordial relations with other countries but also favored a position of neutrality in foreign conflicts. Domestically, he nominated the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Jay (1745-1829), signed a bill establishing the first national bank and set up his own presidential cabinet. His two most prominent cabinet appointees were Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), two men who disagreed strongly on the role of the federal government. Hamilton favored a strong central government, while Jefferson favored stronger states’ rights. Washington believed that divergent views were critical for the health of the new government, but he was distressed at what he saw as an emerging partisanship.

In 1796, after two terms as president and declining to serve a third term, Washington finally retired. In his farewell address, he urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards domestically and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. The address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.

Washington returned to Mount Vernon and devoted his attentions to making the plantation as productive as it had been before he became president. More than four decades of public service had aged him, but he was still a commanding figure. In December 1799, he caught a cold after inspecting his properties in the rain. The cold developed into a throat infection and Washington died on the night of December 14 at the age of 67. He was entombed at Mount Vernon, which in 1960 was designated a national historic landmark.

Washington left one of the most enduring legacies of any American in history. Known as the “Father of His Country,” his face appears on the U.S. dollar bill and quarter, and hundreds of U.S. schools and towns, as well as the nation’s capital city, are named for him.

International Sword Swallowers Day

International Sword Swallowers Day celebrates the art of sword swallowing. As some might think, the true act of sword swallowing is not an illusion. Though sword swallower doesn't actually swallow the sword, they do open the esophagus to the point where the sword can pass through down to the stomach. The first known sword swallowing is said to have occurred in in south India before 2000 BC. Do not attempt to celebrate this holiday at home. Except for the extremely few true professionals, it's better to be a spectator than a participant. ;)

International Sword Swallowers Day was first celebrated in 2007 and is organized by Sword Swallowers Association International, SSAI, and is co-sponsored by Ripley Entertainment. The month of February was chosen for this holiday because February is National Swallowing Disorders Month month and the events associated with this holiday help to raise money for esophogeal cancer research and to fund treatment of sword swallowers who are injured in the course of their work.

World Thinking Day

World Thinking Day is a day of friendship, advocacy and fundraising for 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world.

On 22 February each year, Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world celebrate World Thinking Day by:

  • Learning about their international sisters in designated focus countries for the year
  • Read more about international Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting
  •  Doing fun and educational activities based around an advocacy theme for the year
  • Find out about this year’s theme
  • Fundraising for the World Thinking Day Fund
  • Find out more about fundraising on World Thinking Day
  •  Earning the World Thinking Day badge
  • Find out more about the badge programme

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have been celebrating World Thinking Day since 1926 and it has been an important fundraising day since 1932. Read all about the history of World Thinking Day.

In 1926, delegates from around the globe met in the USA and agreed that 22 February would be known from then onward as a special day for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts all over the world.

Camp Edith Macy – now called Edith Macy Conference Center – in New York state, USA, was the venue for the fourth World Conference of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement in 1926.

A special day
Conference attendees agreed that year that there should be a special annual day when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world think of each other and express their thanks and appreciation for our international Movement. This was called Thinking Day.

The delegates chose 22 February as the date for Thinking Day because it was the birthday of both Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout Movement, and his wife Olave, who was World Chief Guide.

A birthday gift
Six years later in 1932, the seventh World Conference was taking place in Bucze, Poland, when a Belgian delegate pointed out that a birthday usually involves gifts, and so girls could show their appreciation on Thinking Day by offering gifts to our international Movement by fundraising or making a donation.

Olave Baden-Powell wrote to all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts later that year to tell them about this idea and to ask them to spare a penny to help support Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting around the world. Scroll down to read Olave’s letter.

International aspects
Much later in 1999, at the thirtieth World Conference in Dublin, Ireland, delegates from around the world decided to change the name of the day from Thinking Day to World Thinking Day, to better emphasise the international aspects of the day.

The fundraising aspect of World Thinking Day that began in 1932 is still an important funding mechanism for WAGGGS today, and it helps to keep the Movement going.

National Cook a Sweet Potato Day

National Cook a Sweet Potato Day celebrates these tuberous roots that should not only be eaten during Thanksgiving and Christmas but year round. Sweet potatoes are a very good source of beta-carotene, vitamins A and C, and vitamin B6. The natural sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream so you don't have to worry about any spikes. Sweet Potatoes are typically baked or boiled and are extra tasty served with cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, brown sugar, or melted marshmallows. They may also be eaten as sweet potato pie, fries, or chips.

Five Food Facts about Sweet Potatoes

  1. Sweet potatoes are the 6th most important food crop in the world.
  2. Asia accounts for 90% of the world consumption of sweet potatoes.
  3. George Washington Carver helped to develop the primary adhesive used for postage stamps from the mucilage(sticky film) of  sweet potatoes.
  4. Sweet potatoes are actually tuberous roots which are considered one of the worlds most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom.
  5. Despite the physical similarities of yams and sweet potatoes. They actually are not even closely related. Yams are actually closely related to grasses and lilies.

National Margarita Day

We pay tribute and honor the margarita on this special day of celebration.  We so deeply respect and value its place in our history that we have set aside Feb. 22 of every year as National Margarita Day.

Loved and consumed by millions, friends and families around the world honor this sacred tequila, triple sec and lime drink every year on February 22.

There is much debate as to the exact individual responsible for inventing the classic margarita, although it was during the 1930’s or 1940’s.  Frozen margaritas were invented later in 1970’s when an inventive bartender converted a soft serve ice cream unit into a frozen margarita machine.  Whether you prefer a classic margarita on the rocks or frozen, it is the most common tequila based cocktail in the United States today.  Hence National Margarita Day!

Are out looking for the best margarita?  Best is relative!  The margarita has developed into so many different flavors and varieties, each differing slightly depending on region.  A few of the more popular flavors include Strawberry Margarita, Mango Margarita, Limeade Margarita, Watermelon Margarita, Pomegranate Margarita, Raspberry Margarita and Blackberry Margarita.

National Margarita Day was started to celebrate the margarita, plain and simple.   Friendship, good times and memories of somewhere warmer are all great reasons to enjoy a margarita.

Open That Bottle Night

Since the millennium, one night in the dull, dark month of February has been immeasurably brightened for wine-lovers by the creation of a special day to celebrate cherished bottles of wine, champagne and spirits. Open That Bottle Night is dedicated to making sure that those bottles of fine wine put away for a special occasion, are used and enjoyed.

Created in 2000 by ‘Tastings’ columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, ‘Open That Bottle Night’ is an annual occasion that aims to motivate people to reconnect with each other over a bottle, and create good memories with friends and family.

Tips to help you make the most of your designated bottle include:

  • Serve the wine – both red and white – at cellar temperature, around 55 degrees.
  • Have a spare bottle – in case your chosen wine has been stored a little too long.
  • Use a cork bottle-opener with two prongs, and practice first!

Walking the Dog Day

February 22 is “Walking the Dog Day.” Not only is walking the dog great exercise for you, but it is one of the best activities you can share with your dog. According to, most dogs have the ability to travel up to 15 miles a day.

A dog who does not get enough exercise may exhibit signs of frustration and destructive behavior such as barking, chewing, digging, and running away.

Furthermore, walking the dog is great exercise for you, gives you an opportunity to socialize with the people in your neighborhood, and also allows you to bond with your dog. Make sure to respect your neighbors’ yards by carrying plastic bags to pick up your dog’s waste while you are out walking.

Start with just a 20 minute walk per day and in no time you and your dog will be in shape, happier, and will look forward to your daily walks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 21 2014

International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17 November 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.[1]

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000 February to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka (near High Court), which is the capital of present day Bangladesh.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999 (30C/62).On 16 May 2009 the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/61/266 called upon Member States "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world". By the same resolution, the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 as the International Year of Languages, to promote unity in diversity and international understanding, through multilingualism and multiculturalism.
Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
—from the United Nations International Mother Language Day

National Sticky Bun Day

Enjoy a sticky bun today, and celebrate along with the rest of the nation. Sticky buns are loved by children and adults. February 21 is National Sticky Bun Day.

What exactly are sticky buns?
Sticky buns are the same as cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns are delicious dessert or breakfast pastries made with leavened dough. Traditional sticky bun recipes call for a glazed topping with pecans, maple syrup or honey, cinnamon, and butter.

Even though sticky buns are usually eaten as a breakfast food, know that a sticky bun is good at any time.

What is the origin of sticky buns?
  • The Ancient Egyptians were the first people to add honey and nuts to their bread. Glazed pastries have been popular ever since.
  • German settlers in Pennsylvania created our modern-day sticky buns. The pastries were originally called “Schnecken” and are still considered a Philadelphia specialty.
  • Sticky buns are now popular all over the world.
Use a quick and easy recipe to bake some fresh sticky buns to share with friends and family. You can also pick up a batch from your local bakery if you prefer not to make your own.

Single Tasking Day

Attention multitaskers. If doing more than one thing at a time is part of your daily routine, hold on to your keyboard, telephone, handy-dandy gadget and/or mobile device. It's Single Tasking Day, an annual "holiday" that encourages folks to slow down and tackle one thing at a time.

While some observe the event on February 21, the Chase Calendar celebrates Single Tasking Day on February 19th. But regardless which day you celebrate, can you imagine what life would be like if you could complete one task at a time? No more trying to finish 20 things at once.

Let's be honest. Most of us are overworked, underpaid and over-stressed. There simply is not enough time in the day to get everything done. The thought of being able to actually complete a thought, a sentence, a task, project or activity without interruption, sounds absolutely divine! Researchers have found that the human brain is unable to focus on two or more tasks at once. And studies suggest multitasking actually lowers productivity. Being able to take your time to do one thing at a time means less stress and fewer mistakes.

If only every day could be Single Tasking Day.

Card Reading Day

Today is "Card Reading Day," and even though the origins of this unique holiday are a bit tenuous, most believe it refers to greeting cards. So if you're one of those sentimental people who save their greeting cards from year to year, today's the day to get them out and enjoy the sentiment all over again.

I can't help but wonder however, if the true origin of this day didn't refer to Tarot Cards instead. After all, the English idiom "It's in the cards" most likely refers to the reading of these fortune-telling icons. You can make up your own mind.

Locomotive Birthday

In 1804, the first self-propelling steam engine or steam locomotive was tested at the Pen-y-Darren iron-works on its normally horse-drawn tramlines. The machine was designed by Richard Trevithick. He had built his first road steam locomotive at Camborne in 1801, and another road machine in 1803, which ran several times in London, before he turned his attention to railways. The railway engine at Pen-y-Darren was able to pull a load of 15 tons at a speed of about 5 mph. However, adhesion was a problem as the iron wheels slipped on the iron rails. Further, the cast-iron rails of the tramways of those days were not strong enough to support the weight of his new machine and the experiment was soon abandoned.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Holidays and Observances for February 20 2014

Love Your Pet Day

On the "heels" of Valentine's Day, another special day in February is dedicated to love. Get ready to pamper that pooch or cuddle the kitty, folks! Feb. 20 is Love Your Pet Day, an annual "howliday" devoted to all our furry friends.

Love Your Pet Day
For many of us, pets are valued members of the family. They give us unconditional love without asking too much from us in return. Whether you prefer dogs, cats, rats, horses, birds, ferrets or pot-bellied pigs, pets bring so much to our lives, dont they? Love Your Pet Day reminds us to do something special for our two or four-legged friends.

Adopt, Adopt, Adopt!
Love Your Pet Day is the "purrfect" time to adopt an unloved, neglected and/or abused animal from the local shelter. Each year, millions of beautiful dogs and cats are euthanized waiting for special people to give them "furever" homes. Please consider opening your heart and your home to an animal in need. Visit your local animal shelter and give a pet a once-and-forever home - before it's too late.

How to Celebrate Love Your Pet Day
  • Change your Facebook or Twitter pic to a photo of your beloved pet or an animal that is urgently awaiting adoption.
  • National Dog Biscuit Day is coming right up. Why not celebrate early and whip up a few homemade doggy treats and treat Fido?
  • Take an extra long walk with Fido in honor of the occasion.
  • Surprise Fluffy with some catnip in honor of Love Your Pet Day.
  • Make it Movie Night with flicks all about pets. Just make sure to have some extra Kleenex on hand! 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, Buddy, Benji, Beethoven, Garfield, Hachi: A Dog's Tale, Homeward Bound, K-9, Lassie, Lady and the Tramp, Marley & Me, Old Yeller, Secretariat, That Darn Cat, The Aristocats, Turner and Hooch
  • Why not treat Fido to a brand new bowl? The Slo-Bowl, created by the creative folks at Kyjen, is not just any doggy dish. According to an online interview, this "natural, healthy and playful" bowl not only helps pooches prevent bloat and obesity from gobbling up their food too quickly, the unique designs make eating way more fun and enjoyable. Instead of scarfing the food down in one ginormous mouthful, Fido gets to hunt for his food. Eating has never been more fun with the colorful, top rack dishwasher safe Slo-Bowls.
National Cherry Pie Day

If your sweet tooth has been aching lately, today may just be your lucky day. Today is National Cherry Pie Day! This annual food holiday is celebrated each year on February 20th.

To make a good cherry pie, you’ve got to start with the right cherries. Bing, Lambert, Montmorency, Rainier and Royal Ann are just a few types available. Each have their own distinct characteristics, but most are farmed on the west coast. While it’s not quite cherry season just yet, pie cherries can be found almost year round in the frozen section of your grocery store.

The best kinds of cherries for pies are tart and a little sour. Bing, Morello and Montmorency cherries are some of the better options for pie since they hold up well in the baking process and have a great tart flavor.

Whether you prefer your slice cold or warm and/or topped with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, who can resist the sweet yet tart cherry filling surrounded by a delicious, flaky pie crust? And February is also National Cherry Month.

Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I actually “invented” the cherry pie, which happened to be her favorite pie and George Washington’s too. Come to think of it, isn’t there some reference to Washington and a cherry tree? And since Americans celebrate Washington’s birthday in February, perhaps the timing of this food holiday is just a coincidence?

National Handcuff Day

It's on this date in 1912 that the US Patent office issued patent 1,017,955 to George A. Carney for a "swinging bow ratchet - type" adjustable handcuff. Before that handcuffs were heavy and bulky and there was no standard style. Carney's design was always ready and was light weight compared to older models. Since that patent, most modern handcuffs around the world have been made with the same swing through design, with minor modifications. The Carney Patent was bought by The Peerless Handcuff Company of Springfield, Mass., and the first models were manufactured for them by Smith & Wesson.

Why is there a National Handcuff Day
There are National days for donuts, potato chips, silence, clam chowder, and the Tooth Fairy, so why not a National Handcuff Day? Handcuffs are a necessity in a modern society. Police, jails, prisons, and other law enforcement agencies could not function without the modern handcuff. They are easy to use, reusable, and inexpensive. Also, there are many collectors who try to preserve the history of handcuffs, and escape artists have entertained people for over 100 years trying to escape from them.

National Hoodie Hoo Day

Today is National Hoodie-Hoo Day. Sounds like a made up Dr. Seuss sort of thing, but Hoodie-Hoo day falls on the 20th of February every year and is celebrated at high noon. This is a particularly fun day for preschoolers and preschool teachers alike, because at noon on Hoodie-Hoo Day, you go outside and yell, “HOODIE-HOO!” at the top of your lungs to the sky.

Why? To scare away winter and bring on spring, of course.

Hoodie-Hoo day is an actual copyrighted holiday developed by, and is only celebrated in the United States.

What makes National Hoodie-Hoo Day such an awesome day?

For teachers, you can incorporate an entire weather unit filled with sensory play, scientific experimentation, and lots of cloud watching.

For students, you get to yell and not get in any trouble at all, learn about all of the cool things in the realm of weather, and make art projects like puffy cloud painting and tin foil lightning bolts.

So, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, and you hear the call of, “Hoodie-Hoo!” off in the distance, it’s not a strange new breed of owl in trouble, it’s more likely a group of children yelling at the sky to scare winter away. You might want to join them.

World Day for Social Justice

The United Nations' (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.

Many organizations, including the UN and the International Labour Office, make statements on the importance of social justice for people. Many organizations also present plans for greater social justice by tackling poverty, social and economic exclusion and unemployment. Trade unions and campaign groups are invited to call on their members and supporters to mark the day. The Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions declared that the common slogan would be "Social Justice and Decent Life for All!".

Schools, colleges and universities may prepare special activities for the day or plan a week of events around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Different media, including radio and television stations, newspapers and Internet sites, may give attention to the issues around the World Day of Social Justice.

It is hoped that particular coverage is given to the links between the illicit trade in diamonds and armed conflicts, particularly in Africa, and the importance of the International Criminal Court. This is an independent court that conducts trials of people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 and resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. At this summit, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.

Nearly 10 years later, the UN's member states reviewed the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action when they gathered at a session of the Commission for Social Development in New York in February 2005. They also agreed to commit to advance social development. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day

“Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” is an outreach program held in collaboration with the Girls Scouts and the Women in Science and Engineering Program. This event takes place during Engineers Week in February. Girl scouts are invited to learn about opportunities in the field of engineering and science.

Started in 2001 as a joint effort between NSPE, IBM, and National Engineers Week Foundation, "Girl Day" 2013 marks the 12th year of a special focus whereby women engineers, and their male colleagues, have the opportunity to introduce more than one million girls and young women to engineering. More than just one day, Introduce a Girl to Engineering is a national movement that shows girls how creative and collaborative engineering is and how engineers are changing our world.

US Post Office 222nd Birthday

On this day in 1792, President George Washington signs legislation renewing the United States Post Office as a cabinet department led by the postmaster general, guaranteeing inexpensive delivery of all newspapers, stipulating the right to privacy and granting Congress the ability to expand postal service to new areas of the nation.

William Goddard, a Patriot printer frustrated that the royal postal service was unable to reliably deliver his Pennsylvania Chronicle to its readers or deliver critical news for the paper to Goddard, laid out a plan for the Constitutional Post before the Continental Congress on October 5, 1774. Congress waited to act on the plan until after the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Benjamin Franklin promoted Goddard's plan and served as the first postmaster general under the Continental Congress beginning on July 26, 1775, nearly one year before the Congress declared independence from the British Crown. Franklin's son-in-law, Richard Bache, took over the position on November 7, 1776, when Franklin became an American emissary to France.

Franklin had already made a significant contribution to the postal service in the colonies while serving as the postmaster of Philadelphia from 1737 and as joint postmaster general of the colonies from 1753 to 1774, when he was fired for opening and publishing Massachusetts Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson's correspondence. While postmaster, Franklin streamlined postal delivery with properly surveyed and marked routes from Maine to Florida (the origins of Route 1), instituted overnight postal travel between the critical cities of New York and Philadelphia and created a standardized rate chart based upon weight and distance.

Samuel Osgood held the postmaster general's position in New York City from 1789, when the U.S. Constitution came into effect, until the government moved to Philadelphia in 1791. Timothy Pickering took over and, about a year later, the Postal Service Act gave his post greater legislative legitimacy and more effective organization. Pickering continued in the position until 1795, when he briefly served as secretary of war, before becoming the third U.S. secretary of state. The postmaster general's position was considered a plum patronage post for political allies of the president until the Postal Service was transformed into a corporation run by a board of governors in 1971.