Monday, March 31, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 31 2014

César Chávez Day

César Chávez Day is an official state holiday in the U.S. states of California, Colorado and Texas. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of César Chávez's life and work. Many, but not all, state government offices, community colleges, and libraries are closed. Many public schools in the state are also closed. Texas also recognizes the day, and it is an optional holiday in Arizona and Colorado. Although it is not a federal holiday, President Barack Obama proclaims March 31 as César Chávez Day in the United States, with Americans being urged to "observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez's enduring legacy." In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado).

As a senator, Barack Obama made a call in 2008 for a national holiday in Chávez's honor, saying: "Chávez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farm workers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what César Chávez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make César Chávez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union." (Senator Barack Obama March 31, 2008) Grassroots organizations continue to advocate to create a national holiday. On March 30, 2011, President Obama reiterated his support for the cause: "César Chávez's legacy provides lessons from which all Americans can learn."

A model curriculum for teachers shows how students can learn about César Chávez's legacy through his work with other immigrants, farm workers, and how his work relates to the modern world.

César Chávez Day has been celebrated in Reno, Nevada, since 2003. A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada's governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31 as César Chávez Day.

Eiffel Tower Day

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower's designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers.

In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel's plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world's tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.

Eiffel's tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would be structurally unsound, and indignation from others who thought it would be an eyesore in the heart of Paris. Unperturbed, Eiffel completed his great tower under budget in just two years. Only one worker lost his life during construction, which at the time was a remarkably low casualty number for a project of that magnitude. The light, airy structure was by all accounts a technological wonder and within a few decades came to be regarded as an architectural masterpiece.

The Eiffel Tower is 984 feet tall and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns that unite to form a single vertical tower. Platforms, each with an observation deck, are at three levels. Elevators ascend the piers on a curve, and Eiffel contracted the Otis Elevator Company of the United States to design the tower's famous glass-cage elevators.

The elevators were not completed by March 31, 1889, however, so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower's stairs with a few hardy companions and raised an enormous French tricolor on the structure's flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform. Eiffel and his party descended, and the architect addressed the guests and about 200 workers. In early May, the Paris International Exposition opened, and the tower served as the entrance gateway to the giant fair.

The Eiffel Tower remained the world's tallest man-made structure until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Incredibly, the Eiffel Tower was almost demolished when the International Exposition's 20-year lease on the land expired in 1909, but its value as an antenna for radio transmission saved it. It remains largely unchanged today and is one of the world's premier tourist attractions.

National "She's Funny That Way" Day

On National "She's Funny That Way" Day we pay tribute to the women that make us laugh. Show appreciation for the humorous side of women, the things they do and say. Watch a female stand up comedian, rent a funny movie or if you're a women be extra funny today. Some humorous women on TV, both past and present, include:
  • Lucille Ball
  • Carol Burnett
  • Jane Curtin
  • Tina Fey
  • Chelsea Handler, 
  • ne Kaczmarek
  • Betty White
  • Amy Poehler
  • Gilda Radner.
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Whoopie Goldberg
  • Roseanne Barr
  • Phyllis Diller
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Minnie Pearl
  • Margaret Cho
  • Wanda Sykes
  • Sarah Silverman

National Bunsen Burner Day

National Bunsen Burner Day is celebrated on March 30th of each year in remembrance of Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen, a German chemist who invented the Bunsen Burner.

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen (30 March 1811 – 16 August 1899) was a German chemist. He investigated emission spectra of heated elements, and with Gustav Kirchhoff discovered caesium (in 1860) and rubidium (in 1861). Bunsen developed several gas-analytical methods, was a pioneer in photochemistry, and did early work in the field of organoarsenic chemistry. With his laboratory assistant, Peter Desaga, he developed the Bunsen burner, an improvement on the laboratory burners then in use. The Bunsen–Kirchhoff Award for spectroscopy is named after Bunsen and Kirchhoff.

National Clams on the Half Shell Day

National Clams on the Half Shell Day is celebrated on March 31st of each year.

In culinary use, within the eastern coast of the USA, the term “clam” most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria. It may also refer to several other common edible species, such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, and the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica. Another species which is commercially exploited on the Atlantic Coast of the US is the surf clam Spisula solidissima.

Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried; the method of preparation depends partly on the size and species of the clam. They can also be made into clam chowder (a popular soup in the U.S. and Canada) or they can be cooked using hot rocks and seaweed in a New England clam bake.

Stuffed clams are also known as stuffies. They are popular in New England and consist of a breadcrumb and minced clam mixture that is baked on the half shell of a quahog hard shell clam. Other ingredients typically found in the basic breadcrumb mixture are: meat such as sausage, bacon or chorizo, peppers, lemon juice, celery, garlic, spices and herbs. There are many different recipes for stuffed clams; many restaurants in New England have their own variety, as do many home cooks.

National Crayola Crayon Day

Binney & Smith, Inc. put Crayola Crayons on the market. On March 31st in 1903 the company began selling their Crayola Crayons to the public. They came up with the brand name Crayola when they put the French Words Craie (chalk) and ola (oily) together. The first Crayola crayons came in a box of 8 and sold for 5 cents. Today, Binney & Smith produce about 7 million crayons every day in 120 colors. The average American child uses 730 crayons by his 10th birthday. It’s no surprise that a study shows the smell of Crayola crayons is one of the twenty top scents recognized by adults in the U.S.

Crayon Facts and Trivia:
  • Did you know that Americans buy 2.5 billion crayons a year? And that if you laid them all end to end — the crayons, not the buyers — they would encircle the Earth more than 4 1/2 times
  • The hundred billionth crayon made by Crayola was Periwinkle Blue.
  • Crayola crayons come in 120 colors including 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, 8 yellows, 2 grays, 2 coppers, 2 blacks, 1 white, 1 gold and 1 silver.
  • The first box of Crayola crayons was sold in 1903 for a nickel and included the same colors available in the eight-count box today: red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black and brown.
  • Kids, ages 2-8, spend an average of 28 minutes each day coloring. Combined, children in the U.S. spend 6.3 billion hours coloring each year.
  • Douglas Mehrens uses more crayons annually than anyone else in the world. The Phoenix-based artist goes through about 24,000 a year, many of them melted, to complete his works.
  • Binney & Smith, maker of Crayola products, produces nearly 3 billion crayons each year, an average of twelve million daily. That’s enough to circle the globe 6 times. It would take about 400 million crayons to go around the world.

National Tater Day

National Tater Day is an unofficial food holiday set aside to celebrate the potato. It is celebrated annually on March 31. While it is a day set aside for potatoes, this day may have come about because of a different food celebration that occurs just days later. On the first Monday in April each year, there is a local observance for sweet potatoes in Marshall County, Kentucky. It has been an annual day for sweet potato celebration since the 1840's. The sweet potato is one of the main cash crops in that area.

The potato is the leading vegetable crop in the US, with 41.3 billion pounds produced per year and over 1 million acres of cropland dedicated to potato planting.

The exact reason that National Tater Day came about is unknown. It is also unknown who had the idea for National Potato Day. The history of the potato goes back over 2500 years. Archaeologists have found evidence that potatoes have been grown since 500 BC. The Incas grew and worshiped potatoes.

Potatoes sustained the economy in Ireland for centuries. In fact, the Irish were so dependent on potato production that when a great famine wiped out potato crops in the mid-1800's, close to one million people died and others were forced to migrate to North America and Australia to survive.

Americans did not start to use potatoes as a food until the 1870s. Prior to that, potatoes were primarily considered livestock feed. In 1872, the Russet Burbank potato was developed by horticulturalist Luther Burbank. He developed a hybrid potato that proved to be more disease resistant. He introduced it to farmers in Ireland to help stop the blight in that country. He also introduced it to Idaho farmers, thus beginning a boom in the Idaho potato industry after it had failed in that area nearly forty years earlier

National Tater Day is celebrated by consuming potatoes in any of the many ways they can be prepared. Potatoes come in many different varieties, including russet, red, white, blue/purple, yellow and fingerling. Each of these kinds of potatoes offer the consumer several different preparation ideas. Yellow potatoes are commonly used for potato pancakes, red for roasting for salads, russet for oven fries and baked potatoes.

World Backup Day

If you haven’t backed up your digital data yet, you are a fool. No offense. Seriously, though, it is so, so, so easy to lose everything. And guess what: A lot of people who want you to buy stuff have made up a holiday around the concept. Think Valentine’s Day, only this time it’s a good idea. Happy World Backup Day, everyone! Marketing scam or no, we urge you to celebrate.

Backing up your data isn't just practical — say, if you want to transfer everything from your current computer to a new one — it’s an incredibly important safeguard against total digital loss. Whether you get hacked, your hard drive crashes, or you accidentally spill a cup of coffee across your keyboard, you’ll want to make sure that a copy of your collection of Skrillex albums and selfies are safely stored elsewhere for retrieval.

Here are some ways to back up your computer and prevent digital loss. Of course, this isn't a comprehensive list, so go ahead and hit us in the comments with your best techniques.

The Old Standby: The External Hard Drive
One of the simplest ways to back up your computer is to clone a copy of everything you have onto an external hard drive. If you own a Mac, it’s as easy as hooking up a drive via USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt and firing up Time Machine, which you can find on the right side of the menu bar. Click the “Backup Now” button and Time Machine will make a copy of everything on your machine. It’s a painless process, though the initial backup will take a while. If you don’t want to deal with wires, you can set up a Wi-Fi enabled hard drive like Apple’s Time Capsule or Seagate’s GoFlex Satellite.

Windows users have a few more options, depending on which OS you’re running. Windows 7 users can use the simple Backup and Restore tool, located in the Control Panel under System and Maintenance. Windows 8 users need to do a bit of digging to back up a carbon copy of your computer system. You can set up a backup with File History — found in Control Panel’s System and Security — but that won’t make a complete clone. For that, you’ll need to go to the Windows 7 File Recovery link, located at the bottom left corner of the File History page.

Need help looking for a hard drive? We've reviewed a bunch of them.

The In-Crowd Option: Take It to the Cloud
If you don’t have the funds to throw down on a drive — or don’t trust yourself with one more piece of breakable/losable gadgetry — you can always back up your data to the cloud, as the cool kids are doing these days. There are plenty of services that let you back up all of your data via the internet. Take, Mozy for example. The company offers automatic online backups of your entire system, and throws in file syncing, too. And it’s pretty affordable at $6 a month for 50GB of storage and one computer. Plus, you can access your files on you mobile devices through the company’s iOS and Android apps.

(CrashPlan and Backblaze both sponsor World Backup Day. Both of their services are highly regarded and just as, or more, affordable than Mozy. But it felt a bit sleazy to plug them so directly, so we’re putting them here.)

The advantage to using these services is that you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking a physical drive. It’s also very unlikely that a highly-rated company would lose your data — and if it did, you could reasonably expect that it would go out of business. Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless. The disadvantages: Online services might be unavailable due to maintenance, and there’s always the possibility of your account getting hacked. Plus, you’re signing up for yet another bill.

The Cheapskate’s Option: Dropbox It for Free
Dropbox isn't built as a backup service, but it’s not a bad option for safeguarding your most important files without spending any money. You can sign up for a free account, which gives you 2GB of storage. Refer your friends and Dropbox gives you another 500MB for each person. Or you can always pay $10 a month for 100GB of storage, but that kinda defeats the whole “free” thing.

You won’t be able to store your personal app data, like the information you have stored in your Contacts or in an offline calendar system. And 2GB isn’t a ton, but it should be enough to back up key files that you want to make sure never to lose — like your novel-in-progress or wedding photos. The good thing about Dropbox is that you can sync everything across different devices, all in one easy-to-manage Dropbox folder on your computer. And the more devices sync, the less likely you are to lose your data. Once you put a file into Dropbox, it syncs to all of your other computers (that are connected to Dropbox), and backs up a copy of that file on those devices as well. Dropbox also lets you look back on older versions of files or even deleted files.

If you’re a loyal Google, Microsoft or Apple user with all of your documents and files in a single companies’ products, then you can get good free file backups from them. Google Drive, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and iCloud all do the trick. Naturally, someone who lives in Google products will benefit from a paid Google Drive storage system, and SkyDrive is great for Windows, Office and Windows Phone users. Of course, you can always go iCloud for your Mac and iOS data. You’ll want to decide which free service works best for you depending on what other products you use. But you’ll want to make sure you have another backup in place (see below).

Back Up the Backup
The best way to make sure that you don’t suffer a huge digital data loss is to back up your backup. If you use iCloud to back up your photos and documents, it’s best to have those same photos and documents on another cloud service or hard drive (or both). Apple’s developer community has been especially outspoken about the difficulty of working with Apple’s cloud system with stories of data loss and corruption. It’s just not reliable as your sole backup. Your account can get hacked on any online service and an external hard drive can go bad or break. You should also consider having an offsite backup, like an external hard drive stored at your office or a storage locker or a trustworthy friend or relative’s house. No plan is totally bulletproof, but you can add extra armor to your backup plan by having more than one system in place.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 30 2014

Grass Is Always Browner On The Other Side Of The Fence Day

Do you consider yourself an optimist or pessimist? Is the glass half-full or half-empty? If you tend to think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, don't forget you still have to mow it! And speaking of grass...March 30 is the Grass is Always Browner on the Other Side of the Fence Day.

The Grass is Always Browner on the Other Side of the Fence Day reminds us to stop and reflect on our many blessings. While a relationship, job, living and/or financial situations may not be perfect, today is the perfect day to appreciate the things we have as well as the very special people in our lives who we hold near-and-dear to our hearts. Just because something or someone may sound perfect, things are not always as they seem.

This holiday was created to honor the people who never left their old life just because they thought the "grass was greener on the other side." It was also created to inspire people to be happy with what they have, rather than selfish and greedy and envious of other people.

National Doctors Day

National Doctors' Day is held every year on March 30th in the United States. It is a day to celebrate the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its' citizens. The first Doctor's Day observance was March 30, 1933 in Winder, Georgia.  Eudora Brown Almond, wife of Dr. Charles B. Almond, decided to set aside a day to honor physicians. This first observance included the mailing greeting cards and placing flowers on graves of deceased doctors. On March 30, 1958, a Resolution Commemorating Doctors' Day was adopted by the United States House of Representatives. In 1990, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to establish a national Doctor's Day. Following overwhelming approval by the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, on October 30, 1990, President George Bush signed S.J. RES. #366 (which became Public Law 101-473) designating March 30th as "National Doctor's Day."

More than the application of science and technology, medicine is a special calling, and those who have chosen this vocation in order to serve their fellowman understand the tremendous responsibility it entails. Referring to the work of physicians, Dr. Elmer Hess, a former president of the American Medical Association, once wrote: "There is no greater reward in our profession than the knowledge that God has entrusted us with the physical care of His people. The Almighty has reserved for Himself the power to create life, but He has assigned to a few of us the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained." Accordingly, reverence for human life and individual dignity is both the hallmark of a good physician and the key to truly beneficial advances in medicine.

The day-to-day work of healing conducted by physicians throughout the United States has been shaped, in large part, by great pioneers in medical research. Many of those pioneers have been Americans. Indeed, today we gratefully remember physicians such as Dr. Daniel Hale Williams and Dr. Charles Drew, who not only advanced their respective fields but also brought great honor and pride to their fellow Black Americans. We pay tribute to doctors such as Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk, whose vaccines for poliomyelitis helped to overcome one of the world's most dread childhood diseases. We also recall the far-reaching humanitarian efforts of Americans such as Dr. Thomas Dooley, as well as the forward-looking labors of pioneers such as members of the National Institutes of Health, who are helping to lead the Nation's fight against AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening diseases. These and other celebrated American physicians have enabled mankind to make significant strides in the ongoing struggle against disease.

However, in addition to the doctors whose name we easily recognize, there are countless others who carry on the quite work of healing each day in communities throughout the United States -- indeed, throughout the world. Common to the experience of each of them, from the specialist in research to the general practitioner, are hard work, stress, and sacrifice. All those Americans who serve as licensed physicians have engaged in years of study and training, often at great financial cost. Most endure long and unpredictable hours, and many must cope with the conflicting demands of work and family life.

As we recognize our Nation's physicians for their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury, it is fitting that we pay special tribute to those who serve as members of the Armed Forces and Reserves and are now deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. Whether they carry the tools of healing into the heat of battle or stand duty at medical facilities in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere, these dedicated physicians -- along with thousands of nurses and other medical personnel -- are ital to the success of our mission. We salute them for their courage and sacrifice, and we pray for their safety. We also pray for all those who come in need of their care.

In honor of America's physicians, the Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 366 (Public Law 101-473), has designated March 30, 1991, as "National Doctors Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim March 30, 1991, as National Doctors Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fifteenth.

National I Am In Control Day

The National I Am in Control Day is celebrated every year on the 30th of March. This day originated on the very day in the year 1981 when the then Secretary of State – Alexander Haig made the statement “I am in control here” in response to an interview regarding the assassination bid on President Ronald Regan in which he was wounded. So this is the day to get in the grip on you. This is the day to put your foot down and take control of your life. Show people that you are not a mess.

The out-of-control feeling happens to everyone at least sometime in life. Your work and home get so tangled that you feel you are on the edge. There may be days on end when everything seems to be malfunctioning – the printer is out of paper, the clocks are down without batteries, the kids have messed up the carpet with glue and glitter and so on. On March 30th, take the time off to set all such mess right. Get rid of all the clutter. Tell everyone to behave. Work it out with your family on how to make things run more efficiently and get them to stick to the plan.

Pencil Day

Today is Pencil Day! On this day in 1858, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the first-ever patent for a modern pencil with an eraser attached to it. Hymen Lipman created the wooden pencil and received high praise for how easy it was to use for writing and drawing.

Did you know that a single wooden pencil can write 45,000 words or draw a line that is 35 miles long? A pencil can also write under water, upside down, or in zero gravity. Manufacturers painted the first pencils yellow because the color was associated with royalty and honor. People quickly began assuming that yellow pencils were the best type!

To celebrate Pencil Day, set aside your laptop and use a pencil and paper to write today!

Take a Walk in the Park Day

March 30th celebrates Take A Walk In The Park Day.  After a long busy day, a calming and therapeutic way to relax would be a nice, long, leisurely walk in the park.

Taking walk at a local park is definitely a good way to clear one’s mind from the stresses of the day, re-energizing yourself and at the same time and helping to improve your health.

It may be a good idea to take your camera with you during your walk as parks offer many of the beauty’s of nature.  There is the possibility of capturing some great photographs of birds or other wildlife, flowers, budding trees, clouds or the sunset.

Today, on Take A Walk In The Park Day, call a friend (or walk alone if you like), find a walking trail in a park near you, relax, walk and enjoy nature’s beauty and being outside.

National Turkey Neck Soup Day

March 30th is National Turkey Neck Soup Day

Who doesn’t love the week after Thanksgiving when we can enjoy that wonderful, comforting delight – Home Made Turkey Soup. Well, you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy it. Most butchers carry turkey necks which means we can now indulge ourselves in this cherry pleasure.

Despite the fact that we are a few days past the Spring Equinox, there are still a few chilly nights ahead of us. What better than a bowl of homemade turkey neck soup; even better if accompanied by fresh, crusty homemade bread.

A specific recipe for turkey neck soup is not really necessary. It can be one of those “clean the refrigerator,” sort of recipes.

Begin of course, with a large pot of water, several turkey necks, an onion or two, cut into quarters, several cloves of squashed garlic, some chopped celery, or the root end of a head of celery, and herbs of choice. No salt yet. Bring to a boil without a lid, then reduce the heat to maintain a rapid simmer and cover with a lid. Leave to it’s own devices until the meat is falling off the bones. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a while for safety’s sake.

Remove the necks from the pot and leave until they are cool enough to handle, then pick all the meat possible from the bones, chop it and set aside. Strain the broth and discard the now spent vegetable material. Clarify the stock if you wish. Taste the broth. If it seems a little on the wimpy side, (which it very well may, being that most turkeys are fed on growth stimulant hormones instead of grain and bugs these days,) you may wish to “kick it up a notch” with the addition of a bit of powdered chicken bouillon.

You are now ready to proceed with the completion of your soup. Add what ever you please: a hand full of beans, fine, but if they are dry beans, don’t add anything else until the beans are tender or the other things will be mush.

You can add a hand full of rice or lentils or split peas or pearl barley; a bit of pasta is a good thing, carrots, potatoes, celery, more garlic, more onion but chopped this time, some green beans, just about anything. I never add beets because they turn the soup a really nasty color. Do you make good dumplings? If so, they would be a wonderful addition at the last minute.

You now have a wonderful, nurturing and comforting soup.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 29 2014

National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

Lemon has never been this luscious - March 29 is National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day!

Following on the heels of Black Forest cake day, cleanse your chocolate, whipped cream and cherry-covered palate with the sweet taste of lemon chiffon cake.

This cake was invented by Harry Baker, a insurance salesman turned caterer, in 1927. He kept the recipe to himself for 20 years before selling it to General Mills. Betty Crocker soon released 14 recipes and variations in a pamphlet in 1948.

Chiffon cake gets its name from the lighter-than-air texture the cake is famous for. The secret to its airy success is its lack of butter. This might upset some of you, but never fear, it is still one seriously great cake.

Stiffened egg whites are folded into the cake batter because it is difficult to achieve an incredibly light cake with a fat like butter involved. And, no butter means that this cake isn't going to dry out anytime soon.

The unique structure is a combo of batter and foam cakes, using vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder to achieve a fluffy, but incredibly moist texture. Because of this, it's a good idea to refrigerate chiffon cakes - and it gives you an excuse to use pasty cream, fresh fruit or ice cream fillings.

When compared to cakes with butter in their batter, chiffon cakes are lower in saturated fat. The lack of fat also means a lack of rich butter flavor, so don't forget to amp up the flavor of your fillings and icing.

That's not a problem for this lemon-orange chiffon cake, which pumps up the flavor with orange juice, orange zest and a citrusy sweet buttercream frosting.

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

March 29th celebrates the American dream – it’s National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, an annual holiday that celebrates the millions of hard working folks that own small businesses. Today serves as an important reminder to support all those small business owners and keep Main Street in business.

In 2011, there were more than 27 million small businesses in the United States, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Not only do mom and pop businesses help our economy work, they keep Americans working! In fact, more than 60 percent of all new jobs are created by small businesses! “Small businesses play a vital role in the economic well-being of our nation.”

Whether it’s been in the family for generations or is a brand new start-up, owning your own business is a dream and ultimate goal for many Americans. And consumers' support is paramount to their success. Whether you are looking for a particular product, a great place to eat, a fun night on the town or a special service, stop by your local family-owned store today and help keep American strong!

Smoke and Mirrors Day

Smoke and Mirrors Day, sometimes referred to as Festival of Smoke and Mirrors Day, is celebrated on March 29th of each year.

Smoke and mirrors is a metaphor for a deceptive, fraudulent or insubstantial explanation or description. The source of the name is based on magicians’ illusions, where magicians make objects appear or disappear by extending or retracting mirrors amid a confusing burst of smoke. The expression may have a connotation of virtuosity or cleverness in carrying out such a deception.
In the field of computer programming, it is used to describe a program or functionality that does not yet exist, but appears as though it does. This is often done to demonstrate what a resulting project will function/look like after the code is complete — at a trade show, for example.

More generally, “smoke and mirrors” may refer to any sort of presentation by which the audience is intended to be deceived, such as an attempt to fool a prospective client into thinking that one has capabilities necessary to deliver a product in question.

Texas Love the Children Day

Texas Loves Children, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve case outcomes for abused and neglected children by enhancing the quality of legal services they receive. The most important decisions about an abused or neglected child's future are made in court. TLC exists to help ensure that those decisions are the best possible for the child.

Texas Loves Children, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was founded by Barbara Elias-Perciful in 1995 to provide specialized training about child abuse issues to Dallas judges and attorneys. Barbara had been practicing business litigation at the Dallas firm Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, L.L.P., when she took a probono court appointment to represent an abused child. The heartbreaking situation—a 12-year-old girl who had been methodically sexually abused by her father for years—was made even more desperate when Barbara saw the lack of tools, research, and expertise readily available to assist judges and attorneys handling these cases. Shortly thereafter, Barbara left the law firm and opened a private practice devoted exclusively to representing abused children. She then established Texas Loves Children, Inc. (TLC) to provide highly specialized training to the legal community on complex child abuse issues, subjects not typically covered in law school. For overt 15 years, TLC has sponsored high-quality training seminars on critical legal, medical, and mental health issues for judges, attorneys, CPS workers, CASA volunteers, and law enforcement personnel.

In May 2004, Texas Loves Children launched the Texas Lawyers for Children Online Legal Resource and Communication Center program — an interactive online legal resource center designed to bring training and information to the fingertips of judges and attorneys across Texas. TLC later expanded the Online Center to include a Communication Center with communication services enabling judges and attorneys to access colleagues, experts, and mentors. In November 2007, the Texas Supreme Court’s Permanent Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families selected TLC’s Online Center program as one of its Texas Court Improvement Program projects for improving the court system’s handling of child abuse cases. During 2008, TLC replicated its Online Center model for California’s Administrative Office of the Courts. California’s Online Center now serves over 3,500 judges, attorneys, and child welfare workers. This collaboration marked a momentous leap in realizing TLC’s goal of creating a national network of Online Centers that work together to help children by sharing information and best practices. TLC has also created Online Centers for Florida and Alabama. Today in Texas, over 2,000 Texas judges and attorneys trust TLC’s services providing critical updates on new developments in the field, a complete, consistently updated law library, and secure communication services. These legal professionals estimate that they handle the cases of over 105,000 Texas children annually.

In August 2009, TLC’s Founder and President, Barbara Elias-Perciful, was honored by the American Bar Association as the Distinguished Lawyer recipient of the 2009 Child Advocacy Award for her service on behalf of abused and neglected children, largely due to her work with TLC. This prestigious award is based on an individual's personal achievements and impact in helping abused and neglected children. Ms. Elias-Perciful was honored in a ceremony during the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago. For details, please click here to see the ABA's announcement of the award.

In November 2010, TLC was honored with the 2010 Award for Excellence in Social Innovation by the Dallas Center for Nonprofit Management for the impact of the Texas Lawyers for Children Online Legal Resource and Communication Center in helping abused and neglected children. The award recognizes TLC's Online Center project as “a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient and sustainable…and demonstrates significant positive change around a specific social issue.”The 1-minute video on the home page describes TLC’s mission and was shown at the award ceremony in November 2010. Click here for further details about the award.

Texas Loves Children is confident that with the continued involvement and support of the community, its vision will be achieved—that abused children nationwide are protected from further harm.
Earth Hour

Niagara Falls Runs Dry Day

1848: Niagara Falls stops. No water flows over the great cataract for 30 or 40 hours. People freak out.

The falls were already a tourist attraction by 1848, and villages had grown up on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the river to accommodate the sightseeing throngs. Residents also built waterwheels to harness the Niagara River’s power to run mills and drive machinery in factories.

An American farmer out for a stroll shortly before midnight on March 29 was the first to notice something. Actually, he noticed the absence of something: the thundering roar of the falls. When he went to the river’s edge, he saw hardly any water.

Came the dawn of March 30, people awoke to an unaccustomed silence. The mighty Niagara was a mere trickle. Mills and factories had to shut down, because the waterwheels had stopped.

The bed of the river was exposed. Fish died. Turtles floundered about. Brave — or foolish — people walked on the river bottom, picking up exposed guns, bayonets and tomahawks as souvenirs.

Was it the end of the world? Divine retribution for what some folks thought was a U.S. war of aggression against Mexico? Theological explanations abounded, because western New York state had been a Burned-Over District for half a century, with recurring waves of religious revivals and the rise of several new denominations and religions.

Thousands of people filled the churches to attend special services. They prayed for the falls to start flowing and the world to continue, or for salvation and forgiveness of their sins as the Last Judgment approached.

No one knew why the falls had stopped. The telegraph was still a new invention. Railroads served towns on both sides of the river, but the tracks were unreliable, and Buffalo — the nearest big city — was three hours away even when the trains ran on schedule.

But it was from Buffalo that word eventually arrived that explained the bare falls and dry riverbed. Strong southwest gale winds had pushed huge chunks of lake ice to the extreme northeastern tip of Lake Erie, blocking the lake’s outlet into the head of the Niagara River. The ice jam had become an ice dam.

And just as news traveled inward, news also traveled outward. Thousands came from nearby cities and towns to look at the spectacle of Niagara Falls without water. People crossed the riverbed on foot, on horseback and in horse-drawn buggies. Mounted U.S. Army cavalry soldiers paraded up and down the empty Niagara River.

Dangerous as that all may sound, for there was no telling when the rushing waters might return, one entrepreneur used the hiatus to do some safety work. The Maid of the Mist sightseeing boat had been taking tourists on river rides below the falls since 1846, and there were some dangerous rocks it always had to avoid, Now that the river was not running and the rocks were in plain sight, the boat’s owner sent workers out to blast the rocks away with explosives.

March 30 was not the only dry day. No water flowed over the falls throughout the daylight hours of March 31.

But that night, a distant rumble came from upriver. The low-pitched noise drew nearer and louder. Suddenly, a wall of water came roaring down the upper Niagara River and over the falls with a giant thunder.

The ice jam had cleared, and river was running again. Nothing like it would ever happen again.


The Army Corp of Engineers turned off the American Falls (the U.S. side of the river) in 1969. They built cofferdams above the falls to divert all the water to the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. (Well, it was all the water not already diverted for hydroelectric generation.)

The corps was looking for a way to remove the rocks that have piled up at the base of the American Falls, threatening some day to turn the waterfall into rapids. Nothing doing: The engineers decided it just wouldn't be practical, and that removing the accumulated talus could undermine the cliff behind it and even speed the crumbling process.

They turned the river back on.

Brother and Sister Day

Brother and Sister Day is celebrated on the last Saturday in March each year.  The idea for this day came from a woman who realized-too-late-when her brother died, that she had never let him adequately know how much he meant to her.

Two years later, she proposed establishing a simple, non-commercial day on which brothers and sisters could make it a point to connect, or reconnect, acknowledging all they share.  “Because life is too short,” the woman said.  “I don’t want other people to miss what I missed.”

The idea of this day is to keep is simple and sincere.  A few ideas on how to celebrate are:

  • Spend a minute (or more) thinking about your brothers or sisters
  • Get together with them
  • Call or send an e-card, email, or letter
  • Do something special or helpful for them

Friday, March 28, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 28 2014

National Black Forest Cake Day

Chocolate, cherries and whipped cream, oh, my! - March 28 is National Black Forest Cake Day!

Calling this traditional German dessert a Black Forest cake, which is a cherry torte on steroids, is a lot easier than the original moniker: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

If you're still mystified and/or drooling over what this confection consists of, it's essentially layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries, with additional whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings liberally slathered on top. A tart cherry liqueur is also included in the mixture to amp up the sour cherry flavor.

You'd think it was named for the Black Forest mountain range in southwestern Germany, but the moniker is actually because of the liqueur extracted from tart cherries. The cherry pit flavor and alcohol give the cake a distinctive taste. Here in the U.S., we typically leave out the alcohol, but in Germany, the liqueur is a mandatory ingredient - otherwise the cake can't be sold under the Black Forest name.

Make a slightly more streamlined version of Black Forest cake for a supreme treat that will find its way to your dreams. One thing is for sure, this is one forest you'll want to get lost in.

National Something On A Stick Day

Something on a Stick Day is observed on March 28. The holiday celebrates things on a stick like popsicles, corndogs and marshmallows. The celebration of Something on a Stick Day is really easy: 1. get a stick; 2. push something on it; 3. have fun with your creation! 

Skewered foods are a popular example for things on a stick. A skewer is a thin metal or wood stick used to hold pieces of food together. They are used while grilling or roasting meats, and in other culinary applications. 

Small, often decorative, skewers of glass, metal, wood or bamboo known as "olive picks" are used for garnishes on cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. Many types of snack food are sold and served "on a stick" or skewer, especially at outdoor markets, fairs, and sidewalk or roadside stands.

Weed Appreciation Day

March 28th is Weed Appreciation Day, a day reserved for honoring the lowly weed.

You're thinking: Why would I celebrate weeds?

Well, there are many qualities about weeds to appreciate. For instance, some weeds have medicinal value. Others are extremely nutritious food for humans, birds and insects. Weeds are pioneers in land restoration. Some weeds have even have given mankind some very great ideas for inventions. Yes, really.

This isn't a holiday like the Fourth of July, so a fireworks celebration is out of the question. There are some small ways to honor the weeds on Weed Appreciation Day.

Whether you love them or hate them, weeds are powerful botanical pioneers, capable of restoring devastated lands that have been ravaged by nature or war. On the other hand, they are capable of taking over and destroying ecosystems.

For centuries, mankind has stomped, slashed, burned, and poisoned weeds. One of humanity's longest wars is and has been with these plants who were living peacefully on the land. Weeds have been ripped from their homes so that mankind could reclaim land for their own purposes.

This enormous foe, the weed, is so powerful that it is one of the primary reasons for the development of a 15 billion dollar pesticide industry. Even if you hate weeds, you've got to appreciate that kind of power!

When soil has been devastated by war or a catastrophic event, weeds are the first species to colonize. As mentioned earlier, these plants are powerful. They are adapted to survive these inhospitable environments.

There were some interesting projects instituted under President Franklin Roosevelt during the USA Dust Bowl era in the 1930's. Among the projects, one entailed large trenches being dug so that pioneer weeds could begin the work of restoration.

Weeds add vegetable material to the soil, shading it thereby helping it to retain moisture, also offering wind protection. The weeds, even when they die, provide a way for nutritious debris and new seeds to collect. I've watched this in the far section of my yard. The debris allows more moisture to be retained making a new environment for more new plants. Often there are several weeds growing at the base of an old dead one.

The other great things that weeds do is tell you things about the soil condition. For example, when wild mustard thrives in the soil, then phosphorus must be present. On the other hand, if Lamb's quarters are thriving, soil phosphorus may be very low. Salinity in soil is reflected by ample growth of Foxtail Barley. Some plants are nitrogen fixers, like some Clovers, improving the soil quality with their presence. Other very deep rooted plants are able to bring up nutrients from deep in the earth.

You can see from these examples, weeds can alter the environment in beneficial ways, both on cultivated farms and in natural environments.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 27 2014

National Spanish Paella Day

Invite the whole family and then some for a pile-on paella party - March 27 is National Paella Day.

Not only is this dish rich in a multitude of flavorful ingredients, but paella is just bursting with a storied heritage as well. None of the three varieties are the same, so you'll have plenty to keep you occupied today.

Originally created in Valencia on the east coast of Spain, it has been called Spain's national dish by non-residents, but proud Valencians refer to it as one of their main symbols. Varieties include Valenciana (no surprise there), de marisco (seafood), mixta (a mixture of meat and seafood) and vegetariana (vegetable).

Valencian paella typically combines short-grain white rice, chicken, rabbit, snails, butter beans, great northern beans, artichokes, tomatoes, rosemary, sweet paprika, saffron and garlic. Seafood, as you can guess, substitutes fresh fruits of the sea for the meat and beans. And somewhere down the line, people living outside of Valencia mixed the two recipes together, creating mixed paella.

Making paella involves toasting a layer of rice at the bottom of the giant paella pan over an open flame or burner. The name of the crisp rice that sticks to the bottom of the pan is socorrat.

Try paella with poblanos for a spicy dinner. One thing is for sure - with paella, you won't need side dishes for the one-pan meal that makes enough to feed an army.

Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day

Today is Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day! What country music song always puts a smile on your face? Perhaps it’s Johnny Cash's "Every Time I Itch I Wind Up Scratching You," Kenny Chesney's "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," or Homer & Jethro's "She Made Toothpicks Out Of The Timber Of My Heart." Today is the day to pay tribute to these unique songs!

Country music evolved from Appalachian folk music in the 1920s and became a nationwide sensation in the 1940s. The Grand Ole Opry radio station in Nashville, Tennessee began broadcasting weekly concerts that showcased all the different genres of country music—hillbilly, honky-tonk, bluegrass, western, rockabilly, gospel, and more.

In honor of today’s Reason to Celebrate, put on your cowboy hat, get out your banjo, and belt out your favorite quirky country music song!

Viagra Day

On this day in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves use of the drug Viagra, an oral medication that treats impotence.

Sildenafil, the chemical name for Viagra, is an artificial compound that was originally synthesized and studied to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a form of cardiovascular disease). Chemists at the Pfizer pharmaceutical company found, however, that while the drug had little effect on angina, it could induce penile erections, typically within 30 to 60 minutes. Seeing the economic opportunity in such a biochemical effect, Pfizer decided to market the drug for impotence. Sildenafil was patented in 1996, and a mere two years later–a stunningly short time compared to other drugs–it was approved by the FDA for use in treating "erectile dysfunction," the new clinical name for impotence. Though unconfirmed, it is believed the drug was invented by Peter Dunn and Albert Wood.

Viagra's massive success was practically instantaneous. In the first year alone, the $8-$10 pills yielded about a billion dollars in sales. Viagra's impact on the pharmaceutical and medical industries, as well as on the public consciousness, was also enormous. Though available by prescription only, Viagra was marketed on television, famously touted by ex-presidential candidate Bob Dole, then in his mid-70s. Such direct-to-consumer marketing was practically unprecedented for prescription drugs (now, sales and marketing account for approximately 30 percent of the pharmaceutical industry's costs, in some cases more than research and development). The drug was also offered over the internet–customers needed only to fill out an "online consultation" to receive samples.

An estimated 30 million men in the United States suffer from erectile dysfunction and a wave of new Viagra competitors, among them Cialis (tadalafil) and Levitra (vardenafil), has blown open the market. Drug companies are now not just targeting older men like Dole, but men in their 30s and 40s, too. As with many drugs, the long-term effects of Viagra on men's health are still unclear (Viagra does carry warnings for those who suffer from heart trouble), but its popularity shows no signs of slowing. To date, over 20 million Americans have tried it, and that number is sure to increase as the baby boomer population continues to age.

National “Joe” Day

On the heels of Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, March 27 celebrates several non-traditional holidays. Not only is it Viagra Day and Quirky Country Music Song Titles Day, March 27 is also National Joe Day! No "jo-ke!"

While the origins of this annual holiday are unknown, chances are pretty good someone named Joe came up with the idea! Whether you enjoy the day by drinking a steamin' cup of Joe or celebrate with all your friends named Joe, today is dedicated to all things Joe!

Joseph is one of America's most beloved names. Many actors, sports legends, politicians, phrases and establishments have had the popular moniker. According to Baby Name Facts, Joseph was the fifth most popular name in America during the early 1900s. In 2011, the name ranked 22nd in popularity.

Famous & Infamous Joes
  • Joseph - Bible
  • Vice President Joe Biden
  • Joseph Lieberman - politician
  • Joe Stalin - Soviet Union Premier
  • Joltin' Joe DiMaggio - baseball legend, married to Marilyn Monroe
  • "Broadway Joe" Namath - football player
  • Joe Theismann - football player/actor
  • Joe Montana - football player
  • "Shoeless Joe" Jackson - baseball player
  • Joe Frazier - boxing champion/actor
  • Joe Paterno - disgraced college football coach
  • Joe Giradi - baseball player
  • Joey Bishop - actor/comedian
  • Joe Pesci - actor
  • Joe Don Baker - actor
  • Joe Penny - actor
  • Joey Lawrence - actor/producer
  • Joe Piscopo - actor/writer
  • Joseph Fiennes - actor/director/producer
  • Joe Simpson - father of Ashley and Jessica Simpson
  • Joe Mantegna - actor/producer/director
  • Joseph Bologna - actor/writer/director
  • Joseph Bottoms - actor
  • Joe Costner - actor and son of Kevin Costner
  • Joseph Kennedy - father of John F. Kennedy
  • Joe Cocker - singer
  • Joe Walsh - Eagles guitarist
  • Joey Fatone - 'N Sync singer/actor
  • Joe Jonas - singer/actor
  • Joe Perry - Aerosmith guitarist/songwriter
  • Joseph Barbera - cartoonist/producer/writer
  • Joe Cool
  • Joe Blow
  • Joey Buttafuoco - known for his highly publicized affair with Amy Fisher, who shot Buttafuoco's wife
  • Joe Schmo
  • G.I. Joe
  • Joe the Plumber
  • Jos E. Banks
  • Joe Mama
  • Cup of Joe
  • Trader Joe's

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 26 2014

Manatee Appreciation Day

Manatees are aquatic mammals known for their immense size and jowly appearance. Manatees might not make the list of cutest animals, but enough manatee enthusiasts exist for there to be a Manatee Appreciation Day.

Manatee Appreciation Day is devoted to raising awareness about these quirky creatures. Unfortunately, manatees are endangered. Although hunting manatees is usually illegal, they continue to be poached for their meat and hide. Also, manatees are often fatally injured in collisions with boats. It is important to increase manatee awareness so that these fascinating animals will continue to exist in the future.

Manatee Appreciation Day events usually take place in areas with large manatee populations, such as Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean. Zoos and marine biology centres may offer special manatee-related programming on Manatee Appreciation Day. You can celebrate Manatee Appreciation Day anywhere by researching manatees, starting your own awareness campaign, or donating to manatee conservation programs.

In the past, the manatee was hunted for its meat, fat and hide, but today is protected by several state and federal laws. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 make it a crime to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammals, including the manatee. If convicted at a federal level, violators face a fine up to $100,000 and/or prison time of up to one year. In addition, the manatee is protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. Anyone convicted under this act faces a $500 fine and/or jail time up to sixty days.

Because manatees are such gentle, friendly creatures, people often make the mistake of trying to interact with them in the water. Also, because manatees make their homes in the same waters that people use for recreation, they are at risk for injury and death from being hit by boat propellers and other water craft. It is incredibly important that when playing in these areas to be mindful of the manatee and do your best to avoid any kind of contact whatsoever with these animals.

Dos and Don’ts:
  • Don’t enter any area designated as a manatee sanctuary for any reason.
  • Don’t pursue a manatee in the water.
  • Don’t disturb a resting manatee. Doing so is unlawful.
  • Don’t ever attempt to feed a manatee or give it water. Doing so “tames” a manatee and interferes with its ability to survive on its own.
  • Don’t ever attempt to touch a manatee for any reason.
  • Don’t attempt to corner or surround a manatee.
  • Don’t ever attempt to separate a calf from its mother.
Taking part in any of these activities can interfere with a manatee’s natural existence. If manatees become dependent upon humans for food, water or entertainment, it could eventually lead to their death. But we don’t mind people getting close enough to film these gentle giants, and your kids should get a kick out of this video as the manatees frolic in their own weird way…

Legal Assistants Day

This day honors those skilled persons who work hard and  perform a variety of support jobs for supervising lawyers.  Legal assistants work diligently behind the scenes and are continuing to assume new responsibilities  in legal offices.

From the American Bar Association: "A legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible." Under this definition, the legal responsibility for a paralegal's work rests directly and solely upon the lawyer.

National Make Up Your Own Holiday Day

Today is Make Up Your Own Holiday Day! If you've been following our daily Reasons to Celebrate, then you know how many interesting and unique holidays there are in the world. Today is your chance to make one up!

Establishing an official national holiday is not an easy process. For example, in the 1800s Sarah Josepha Hale decided that our nation should observe a national day of thanks. She wrote countless letters to politicians, governors, and even the president. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln agreed to Hale’s proposal, but Thanksgiving did not become an official national holiday until 1941!

To celebrate Make Up Your Own Holiday Day, come up with a creative, meaningful, or quirky idea for a holiday. Invite friends and family over tonight for its first annual celebration!

National Nougat Day

National Nougat Day is one of the many food holidays celebrated in the United States. National Nougat Day is celebrated on March 26th each year. 

Nougat is a light, chewy, pink or white confection or sugar paste. It is similar to caramel in its consistency. It can contain chopped nuts or dried fruit. It is often found inside of candy bars but can also be seen in other food creations such as cheesecake and ice cream. Nougat can be made by a home cook but is considered somewhat challenging to make. Nougat is made of sugar, corn syrup, honey, egg whites, salt and vanilla. It can be eaten by itself or made into a candy bar by adding nuts to the nougat and coated with melted chocolate.

Although nothing is known on how or why National Nougat Day was started, there is some knowledge on the history of nougat. Most historians feel that nougat comes from Ancient Rome. One offering Romans made to their gods included a sweet made from honey, almonds and eggs. Torrone, the Italian word for nougat, was first documented in Italy in 1441. It was made for the wedding of Francesco Sforza and Maria Bianca Visconti in Cremona.

To celebrate National Nougat Day, people can look up the romantic history of nougat. The celebration can also include buying a candy bar that contains nougat. People who like a challenging recipe can make some homemade nougat and share it with friends and family. There are no official celebrations for the national holiday.

National Spinach Day

Celebrate your inner Popeye and pop open some spinach - March 26 is National Spinach Day!

Not only is spinach crazy good for you, but there are a multitude of delicious ways to enjoy this leafy green. See how many you can try today, and you'll be feeling as healthy and buff as the famous sailorman.

Spinach originated in ancient Persia, eventually making its way to Italy in 827 and finally gracing European tables in the 1300s. Its appearance in early spring made this a fast favorite when other vegetables were scarce during Lenten diets. For this reason, spinach has the great honor of being mentioned in the first known English cookbook.

When Catherine de'Medici became the queen of France in 1522, she insisted that spinach be served at every meal because she loved it so. Today when you hear of spinach dishes referred to as "Florentine," that is because Catherine was born in Florence.

Spinach is available in a variety of types: Savoy, flat leaf and semi-savoy. Savoy is a nice dark green color with curly leaves, sold in fresh bunches. Flat leaf shows up mostly canned, frozen, in soups or baby food. Semi-savoy is a hybrid variety with crinkly leaves and appears fresh and processed.

Spinach Festival Day

In 1936 the Winter Garden Chamber of Commerce organized its first Spinach Festival. Bushels of spinach surrounded the platform, and people dressed as Popeye and other Popeye cartoon characters danced with joy as the band played “La Paloma.” Texas Governor James V. Allred proudly proclaimed Crystal City as “The Spinach Capital of the World” that same year.

Virginia Speedy was the first Acelga Queen. Princesses were Evelyn Moore, Dorothy Cox, Charlotte Spun, Lanice J. Parsons, Marianne Reeves & Ruby Englert.

The first festival was a great success and the tradition of the annual event held until 1941 when World War II ended all festivals.

In 1982, forty-one years later, the Spinach Festival was revived. On March 6, 1987 Crystal City Festival Association President Mike Delgado presented a letter from President Ronald Reagan to the residents of Crystal City recognizing it as the nation’s leading producer and shipper of spinach in the world.

The Crystal City Festival Association commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Popeye statue during the Spinach Festival on November 12 – 15, 1987, and the entire community responded with enormous enthusiasm to the unforgettable celebration. During the Festival, Delgado unveiled a proclamation from King Features Syndicate, Incorporated wherein the President of the Board, Joseph F. DiAngelo, promoted every resident of Crystal City to captaincy in Popeye’s crew. Dignitaries from all over the United States, as well as special guests from all parts of the world, have gathered to pay special tribute to the Spinach Capital of the World and its patron Saint Popeye.

The Crystal City Spinach Festival is a family-oriented celebration of Crystal City’s agricultural heritage and is held every second weekend in November. More than 60,000 people come to Crystal City to celebrate during the three-day event that includes a parade, free musical entertainment by famous and soon-to-be famous musical groups, a spinach cook-off, 5K run, custom car show, dance contests, arts and crafts, sports tournaments, beauty pageant, carnival, and much more.

In 1996 the Festival was chosen as one of the top 200 events by Special Events Network magazine on their “Coast to Coast” event map, and has also been mentioned in issues of Texas Highway and Texas Monthly magazines, and has been recognized by the publishers of the Special Event Industry and Event Business News, two leading publications in the special event industry.

Sometime during 1936 Ernest Mortenson of the Winter Garden Chamber of Commerce suggested sending a note of appreciation to E.C. Segar for his promotion of spinach through his Popeye cartoons. E.C. Segar was the originator of the famous spinach-eating hero of the high seas. He replied to the Chamber letter, assuring them that spinach was his favorite food and that he wanted all his children to enjoy eating this nutritious food. His letter was printed in the local paper – the Zavala Sentinel – and eventually found its way to the San Antonio Express News. A reader of that paper, O.P. Schnabel, suggested that a Popeye statue be built funded by public donations. Plans for the statue were made and sent to Segar for approval; he loved the idea of having a statue that would symbolize the nutritional value of his beloved spinach. He sanctioned the creation of the statue in Crystal City, and drew a special cartoon with Popeye, Olive Oyl and Wimpy coming to the Crystal City Spinach Festival.

On March 26, 1937 the Popeye statue was dedicated and Schable visited to help dedicate the scultpture “To All The Children Of The World.” Two local beauties, Marion Brennan and Doris Williams, posed on the Popeye statue for National Geographic Magazine.

Segar never had the opportunity to visit the testament to his enduring cartoon character, though, as he died in 1938 of Hodgkin’s Disease at the age of 44.

Purple Day

Purple Day is an event designed to raise awareness of epilepsy. Beginning in 2008, people are encouraged to wear a purple-coloured item of clothing on March 26. Purple and lavender are often associated with epilepsy, as for example in the wearing of a lavender ribbon.

Cassidy Megan of Nova Scotia, Canada created the idea of Purple Day in 2008, motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. Cassidy's goal is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came on board in 2008 to help develop Cassidy's idea, which is now known as the Purple Day for Epilepsy campaign.

In 2009, the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation and Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia joined forces to launch Purple Day internationally. The combined efforts of AKF and EANS have led to the involvement of numerous organizations, schools, businesses, politicians and celebrities around the world. On March 26, 2009, over 100,000 students, 95 workplaces and 116 politicians participated in Purple Day.

In March 2009, the official USA Purple Day Party was launch was organized[clarification needed] by the New York-based Anita Kaufmann Foundation - a charity dedicated to educating the public about epilepsy. Canadian Paul Shaffer of the Late Show with David Letterman was one of many special guests that attended the official launch at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York City. Paul Shaffer's cousin is an epileptologist in Toronto, Canada. Mr. Shaffer is familiar with some of the barriers that affect person's with epilepsy and wanted to attend the event to offer his support for Cassidy Megan's campaign 

As the global sponsors of Purple Day, both organizations are committed to partnering with individuals and organizations around the world to promote epilepsy awareness.

Deirdre Floyd, President of the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia and Chair of the Purple Day for Epilepsy Campaign, member agency of the Canadian Epilepsy Alliance says: “ "We are very proud of Cassidy Megan, and after reading various email postings we know her Purple Day for Epilepsy Campaign is making a difference to help others internationally to bring epilepsy out of the shadows. “ The Purple Day New York Party is the perfect way to get the message out there —with the help of some incredible celebrities to boot."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Holidays and Observances for March 25 2014

American Diabetes Association Alert Day

American Diabetes Association Alert Day, which is held every fourth Tuesday in March, is a one-day, “wake-up call” asking the American public to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This year, Alert Day will kick-off on March 25 and we will continue our campaign through April 25. 
In 2013, on Alert Day, we had over 39,000 people take the risk test and during the month of March, we had over 148,000 with 37 percent of them being at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. We are excited to once again encourage the public to take the risk test by driving them to Facebook where they can also ask questions, engage with our community, and share the test with friends and loved ones. For every Diabetes Risk Test taken, Boar’s Head Brand® - a leading provider of premium delicatessen products - will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association starting March 25 through April 25, 2014, up to $50,000. 
The tagline for our 26th Annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day will be “Take it. Share it. Step Out.” We will not only be encouraging the public to take the risk test and share it, but we will be asking them to start living a healthy and active lifestyle. One way to do this is by joining one of our Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® events nationwide. Our Step Out events happen mainly in October and what better way to get active now than by gearing up for a walk event in your area. 
Why is Alert Day important? 
Diabetes is a serious disease that strikes nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States, and a quarter of them—seven million—do not even know they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have prediabetes, which puts them at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. 
Unfortunately, diagnosis often comes seven to 10 years after the onset of the disease, after disabling and even deadly complications have had time to develop. Therefore, early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment and delaying or preventing some of its complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death. 
The Association has made a strong commitment to primary prevention of type 2 diabetes by increasing awareness of prediabetes and actively engaging individuals in preventative behaviors like weight loss, physical activity and healthful eating. Alert Day is a singular moment in time in which we can raise awareness and prompt action among the general public – particularly those at risk. 
Who should participate in Alert Day? 
Everyone should be aware of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes. People who are overweight, under active (living a sedentary lifestyle) and over the age of 45 should consider themselves at risk for the disease. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and people who have a family history of the disease also are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented or delayed by losing just 7 percent of body weight (such as 15 pounds if you weigh 200) through regular physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week) and healthy eating. By understanding your risk, you can take the necessary steps to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. 
What will happen on Alert Day? 
For 26 years, the American Diabetes Association has set aside one special day for people to learn if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States, but it can be controlled with knowledge and healthy behavior. From March 25 through April 25, the Association will be encouraging the public to take the Diabetes Risk Test, as well as to share the test with everyone they care about - friends, family members and colleagues. As previously mentioned, the Association will be encouraging the public to start living a healthy and active lifestyle by asking them to join a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes event in their area. With each person that takes the test, knows their risk and gets started living a healthy and active lifestyle, the Association is that much closer to stopping diabetes. 
The Diabetes Risk Test asks users to answer simple questions about weight, age, family history and other potential risks for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Preventative tips are provided for everyone who takes the test, including encouraging those at high risk to talk with their health care provider. 

International Waffle Day (Våffeldagen)

As it turns out, waffles are such a popular world-wide phenomenon, that they merit two days in the calendar to celebrate them.

Waffle Day began in Sweden as Våffeldagen, actually due to confusion between the Swedish “vårfrudagen” meaning “Our Lady’s Day” which falls on the same date. The day historically marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated by the eating of many waffles.

The alternative Waffle Day began in the USA and honors the anniversary of the patenting of the first US waffle iron invented by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York and is celebrated on 24th August.

Whichever day is picked to honor it however, the waffle is certainly deserving of celebration. The remarkable dough-based griddled cakes can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, snack or dessert. And then there is that whole other business of the potato waffle, different but still delectable.

Take this day to explore the variety that the world of the waffle has to offer you: tuck into American waffles topped with fried chicken or alternatively stacked and drenched in sugary maple syrup for breakfast; enjoy a Brussels or Liège Belgian waffle dusted with confectioner’s sugar or coated in chocolate or cream, or travel east and sample a soft and sweet Hong Kong waffle laced with the flavors of peanut butter or honey melon. We could waffle on forever…

National Day of Celebration of Greek & American Democracy

Greek Independence Day: A National Day of Celebration of Greek and American Democracy, celebrated on March 25, evolved in order to give recognition to the many contributions made by Greek Americans to our society. The foundation for Greece’s impact on the American society, perhaps, is evident in ancient Athens' practice of democracy over 2000 years ago. According to “A Blupete Essay on Democracy,” this is the first democracy ever recorded. Could this have later sparked the development of a long-lasting friendship between 2 great nations?

The old Greek proverb, “The passion for freedom never dies,” has been historically reflected in Greece’s fight for independence over 179 years ago. The support of Americans during Greece’s quest for independence has reinforced friendship between the 2 nations, a friendship that is based on mutual respect, shared values, and common goals.  

National Lobster Newburg Day

Lobster Newburg is a dish full of history. The recipe was developed in the late 19th century at the one of the most famous eateries on the planet.  Delmonico’s opened its doors in the heart of the New York financial district in 1837.  The iconic establishment on Beaver Street, long known for its succulent steaks, is still a fashionable dining destination today.  But Delmonico’s is much more than an old-fashioned steak house.  It is also the home of several gastronomic firsts – it was the first formal dining restaurant in the United States, the first to serve hamburger, the creator of Baked Alaska, the creator of Eggs Benedict, and of course the creator of Lobster Newburg.

Lobster Newburg is itself a fantastic bit of culinary lore.  As the story goes, a wealthy sea captain and regular patron of Delmonico’s came in one night in 1876 announcing that he had discovered a new preparation for lobster. Ben Wenburg called for a chafing dish and demonstrated his new recipe on the spot.  Chef, Charles Ranhofer, and owner, Charles Delmonico, were suitably impressed with Wenburg’s creation.  Ranhofer tweaked the recipe and added “Lobster a la Wenerg” to the menu soon after that fabled night. The creamy lobster concoction was an instant hit with diners.  Then the story takes a dark turn. Delmonico barred Wenburg from the restaurant after the two quarreled. Over what, no one knows.  Wenburg was thus deemed persona non grata and the dish he helped create was renamed Newburg.  Despite its sordid past, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the Delmonico’s menu.

Now that we’re done with the history lesson, you may be asking what exactly is Lobster Newburg? Put simply, it is pure decadence.  It is lobster with a sherry and cognac infused, egg-thickened cream sauce.  Trust me, you don’t want to count the calories on this one.  Suffice it to say you’ll have a log a few hours on the treadmill to work off a Newburg.  That said, every day is a good day for lobster.

I have to admit, I’ve never made Lobster Newburg before.  I haven’t even tried it in a restaurant, so the first thing I had to do was to go in search of a recipe.  I settled on the Lobster Newburg recipe from  I followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of adding a squeeze of lemon at the end and serving it over parpadelle instead of toast points.  I served my Newburg with a heaping helping of asparagus to help ease my unhealthy conscience.  Coincidentally, asparagus also goes really well with a rich creamy sauce.

And the verdict… I loved it!  The rich, luscious sauce paired with the sweet tender lobster was a brilliant combination.  That said, if I were to make it again, I’d serve it as an appetizer.  A little bit of rich is fantastic, too much is just too much.  The other thing I might do is to replace half of the cream with lobster stock to turn it into an almost-any-day pasta sauce.  It also occurred to me that crab, prawns and perhaps even scallops would pair nicely with the Newburg cream sauce.

So there you have it… 134 years after its first appearance Lobster Newburg is still winning fans.  You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Delmonico’s.  I think the next time I’m in New York I’ll have to make a pilgrimage to the home of the original Newburg.  Maybe I’ll try the Baked Alaska while I’m at it.

Old New Year's Day

It's Old New Year’s Day! Although the Gregorian calendar was created in 1582, many countries chose to ignore it for several hundred years. Instead, they used “Annunciation Style dating,” which recognized the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25) as New Year’s Day.

England didn’t adopt our modern-day Gregorian calendar until 1751. Russia held out until 1918! In fact, people in Russia, Switzerland, Macedonia, Georgia, Belarus, and Serbia still celebrate the Old New Year.

Plan a grand feast with family and friends to celebrate the occasion. Happy Old New Year!

Pecan Day

The pecan tree is the only nut tree that’s native to North America.  It is believed by some people that Pecan Day commemorates the day that George Washington planted pecan trees–which were gifts from Thomas Jefferson–at his home at Mount Vernon. However, there are historians who strictly oppose that view. Those are probably the same historians who note that we also celebrate a National Pecan Day on April 14th. So, you know, what happened then, huh? Anyway, we’re pretty sure that all historians agree that a   pecan pie is the perfect way to celebrate either holiday.

Those who visit the Mount Vernon Estate may have noticed the majestic pecan tree on the grounds of the estate. 

The 140 foot tall, 160 year old pecan tree stands tall next to the mansion and overlooks the Potomac River.

This just isn't any old tree — it has some historical significance to Mount Vernon. 

Today marks the anniversary of the planting of pecan trees by George Washington at Mount Vernon. 

"What is nice about the tree is that Washington is the first person to plant it in this country," said  Dean Norton, Mount Vernon Estate horticulturalist. "He mentions in his letters his desire to grow more. He grew some in the botanical garden and planted pecan nuts in the nursery." 

Thomas Jefferson sent George Washington a bunch of pecan nuts from Philadelphia in the late 1700's, Norton added. 

This particular tree is a seedling pecan tree not grown to produce hearty pecans, said Norton. Most pecan trees in the country are grafted for nut production. Still, visitors from the two largest pecan producing states visit the Estate to catch a glimpse of the tree, said Norton. 

“The two largest pecan states in the country are Texas and Georgia,” said Norton. “We get people coming from those states to check out the tree.”

If you look closely, you can see that the tree leans slightly towards the Potomac. This was the result of a storm of “Biblical proportions” during the early 1900s that bent the tree about 40 degrees. 

"The tree was about 40 to 50 years old, so they put it on a winch and pulled it up to a point," said Norton. "They used wires that were attached to concrete blocks in the ground." 

There were two pecan trees on the grounds of the Estate, but one was knocked out during Hurricane Isabel, said Norton. 

Does this tree still produce pecans? Yes, it does, said Norton.

"It still produces pecans, but no one would make a pecan pie with them," said Norton. "Every third year we get a good crop." 

International Day of Remembrance of Slavery Victims and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is on March 25 each year. It honors the lives of those who died as a result of slavery or experienced the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. It is also an occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice.

Various events are held on the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. These include memorial services and vigils for those who died in slavery, as a result of the slave trade, or from campaigning to end of slavery. In addition, African-American inspired music is performed and exhibitions of art and poetry inspired during the slave trade era are opened.

This day is also an occasion to educate the public, especially young people, about the effects of racism, slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. Educational events are held in schools, colleges and universities.

About 17 million people were transported against their will from Africa to North, Central and South America during the 16th century and up until the 19th century. Millions more died while being transported to the Americas. This mass deportation and resulting slavery are seen as one of the worst violations of human rights. Some experts believe that its effects are still felt in Africa's economies.

Slavery was officially abolished in the United States on February 1, 1865. However, racial segregation continued throughout most of the following century and racism remains an important issue today. Hence, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is an occasion to discuss the transatlantic slave trade's causes, consequences and lessons. It is hoped that this will raise awareness of the dangers of racism and prejudice.

On December 17, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was first observed in 2008.

International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members

March 25 is the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members. This date is the anniversary of the abduction of Alec Collett, a journalist who died while working for the UN.

The UN promotes the International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members to encourage governments to do more in their power to protect UN personnel in their jobs.

The day is also a moment to remember UN personnel who have been abducted whilst doing their job, such as journalist Alec Collett. Collett worked for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East when he was abducted by armed gunman in on March 25, 1985.  His body was found in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in 2009 and eventually returned to his family.

Over the years, many UN personnel have been kidnapped while working for the UN and many more continue to face threats to their freedom and security.  According to the UN’s Department of Safety and Security, at least 28 UN civilian personnel were detained or arrested in 2010 in cases that were considered job-related.

The UN’s International Day of Solidarity with Detained and Missing Staff Members was created to bring awareness to these kidnappings and to call for governments and communities to protect UN workers.

National Agriculture Day

National Agriculture Day (March 25) is a time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture. Every year, producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America join together to recognize the contributions of agriculture.

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) is an organization uniquely composed of leaders in the agriculture, food and fiber communities dedicated to increasing the public awareness of agriculture's vital role in our society. The Agriculture Council of America and the National Ag Day program was started in 1973.

ACA believes that every American should:
  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced.
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
  • Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy.
  • Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry.
National Medal of Honor Day

The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress to US military personnel only. There are three versions of the medal, one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version.

The Medal of Honor was created in 1861, early in the American Civil War, to give recognition to men who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity" in combat with an enemy of the United States. There have been 3,468 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with more than half of them presented for actions during the four years of the Civil War.

The Medal of Honor is usually presented by the President in a formal ceremony at the White House, intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.

Tolkien Reading Day

Although founded in 2002, the First Tolkien Reading Day wasn’t until March 25th 2003. This is because a journalist from New York enquired as to whether or not there was such an event for Tolkien in January 2002 and the society liked the idea so much they adopted it – although they didn’t have time to prepare anything for that year and postponed it.

The society chose an important date from the book for the reading day. March 25th is the Downfall of Sauron.

In recent years The Tolkien Society have provided information packs, bookmarks and posters for schools taking part in this event. They have also provided free posters for events held by libraries and the general public taking place near to the event, rather than on the 25th.

With the popularity of the Lord of The Rings film triliogy firmly influencing the popularity of the books, Tolkien Reading Day was set up with hopes of getting even more people reading and discovering that there is much more to Tolkien than just The Lord Of the Rings.

Typical events consist of readings and discussions, but some groups re-enact scenes from the Lord of the Rings books.