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Have you ever dreamt about traveling the globe and seeing how other cultures celebrate the Christmas holiday?  Maybe you can not afford the price of the ticket, do not want the hassle of hustling throughout a busy airport during the holiday season, or you just do not have the time in your schedule.  Whichever may be your reason or excuse…no worries I, The Pilot,  will bring you the Christmas Around the World…Holiday of Lights!   As you may not know, “no one does the Christmas Holidays like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI)” in Chicago.  The Museum of Science and Industry presents  a-one-of-kind seasonal celebration”.  This event runs from November 14, 2013-January 5, 2014, the Hours are from 9:30am-4:00pm and it is located at  5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637.  This is one of those “don’t miss events!”.

According to the MSI, this event “began in 1942 with a single tree dedicated to the Allies of world War II.”  Now it has developed into quite a dreamy celebration and can turn even the old curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge, into a believer of the holidays without the visits (lol) {taken from the novel by Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.}

FYI: Curmudgeon: “a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person (www.dictionary.com).”

FYI: A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens is the depiction of a crotchety stingy man who did not believe in the “holiday spirit”, so he was visited by the spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Future…the old grouch! (lol).  Later, through these introspective visits he transform into a kind, generous and loving person towards his fellow human and learns to LOVE the holidays!

Back in 1942, I am sure the lighting of the tree must have been some awesome affair but now the grand “45-foot Grand Tree with 30,000 lights and 1,000 ornaments; is surrounded by 50 smaller trees decorated by volunteers by the ethnic communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions”.  Have you ever wanted to see how other cultures danced to celebrate the holidays.   Yes, there will be Performers of Choral and Dancers performances on certain weekdays and on the weekends!

Today, I am sure the troops would be awed at this grand presentation…I have no doubt that the troops would love all of the tree displays from around the world and all of their cultures would feel appreciated.

FYI: The Allies was the name used by countries fighting in the Second World War (WWII) against the Axis. The Allies included Britain, France, Russia,  Poland, Nationalist China, Belgium (although it remained neutral), Canada, Finland, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway, Denmark, Greece, the British commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, India) and the USA.  The Axis included Germany (Austria) , Italy, Japan, Romania satellites (Hungary and Bulgaria).  Eventually over 50 countries fought on the Allied side. Thus making it a true World War (taken from various sites).

When people are asked what is your favorite holiday of the year, I am sure the majority of responses are “The Holidays”, of which we readily know to mean (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years).  However specifically most claim Christmas as their favorite time of the year!  Why not, with its festive foods, sparkling drinks, joyous music, decorative colors, and gift giving traditions–which makes it one of “the most wonderful time of the year”!

Well my visit to the Museum of Science and Industry definitely placed me into the holiday mood.   I realize, as I type this blog, there are some that do not care for the world “holiday”, and instead prefer for the world “Christmas”.  However, I make great attempts to be cognizant of different cultures and traditions and hope to be “inclusive” and not ethnocentric.  I have come to understand that fear-or xenophobia-makes holidays less “happy” for others if they are not recognized…after all it is about “peace on earth and goodwill towards men”–all men (and in men it meant humankind).

FYI:  According to the biblical scripture of the King James Version: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”, is what the heralding angels said to the shepherds tending their sheep on the day we celebrate the birth  (Luke 2:14).

FYI: Ethnocentrism: Belief in the intrinsic superiority of the nation, culture, or group to which one belongs with the tendency to evaluate other groups according to the values and standards of your own ethnic group; especially with the perception and conviction that your own ethnic group is superior to the other groups.

FYI: Xenophobic: hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers and of their politics or culture which may be different than yours.

After a bit of research I learned that “Beginning in the mid-20th century, as the Christian-associated Christmas holiday became increasingly secularized and central to American economics and culture while religio-multicultural sensitivity rose, generic references to the season that omitted the word “Christmas” became more common in the corporate and public sphere of the United States, which has caused a semantics ( the study of linguistics ) controversy, translation, a disagreement of meaning, that continues to the present.”

By the late 20th century, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and the African American cultural holiday of Kwanzaa began to be considered in the U.S. as being part of the “holiday season”, a term that by the beginning of the 21st century would become equally or more prevalent than “Christmas season” in U.S. Sources, to refer to the end-of-the-year festive period. “Holiday season” has also spread in varying degrees to Canada and Australia, however in the United Kingdom, the phrase “holiday season” is not widely understood to be synonymous with the Christmas–New Year period, and is often instead associated with summer holidays.  I found this interesting to learn that in the world not everyone celebrates “Christmas” per say.  This could be due to the fact that not all of the world is “Christ”ian.

FYI:  Hanukkah: “The holiday originated when Judah the Maccabee and his followers reclaimed the temple in the village of Modi’in from Syrian King Antiochus IV. The temple was cleansed and prepared for rededication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means “dedication.” When the sacred temple Menorah (candelabra) was relit, there was only enough sacred oil to burn for one day. Yet, according to tradition, the oil miraculously lasted eight days until more purified oil could be found.  A lesser known story from the Apocrypha tells of the beautiful widow Judith who plied enemy Assyrian General Holofernes with cheese and wine until he fell into a drunken stupor. Judith beheaded the general in his sleep, and his soldiers fled in fear, thus saving her people from the Assyrians. This story is the subject of much renowned artwork.  In remembrance, a candle is lit each of the eight days of Hanukkah. Children receive gifts of gelt (in remembrance of the coins minted by the new independent Maccabee state) or money and play games of dreidel (a spinning four-sided top.) The tradition of receiving a gift on each of the eight days of Hanukkah is fairly recent. Since Christians exchange gifts at Christmas, Jews have come to exchange gifts other than coins at Hanukkah, which comes at the same time of the year (hanukkah-greeting.com)”.

TIP: You will also see this holiday spelled Chanukkah and perhaps even Hannukah due to different translations and customs.

FYI: Kwanzaa: “Kwanzaa is an African-American cultural holiday conceived and developed by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga, was first celebrated on December 26, 1966. Kwanzaa is traditionally celebrated from December 26 through January 1, with each day focused on Nguzo Saba, or the seven principles. Derived from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits”, Kwanzaa is rooted in the first harvest celebrations practiced in various cultures in Africa. Kwanzaa was born out of the whirlwind of social and political changes of the sixties decade. The sixties represent one of many eras during which the African and African-American struggle for freedom and self-identity reached its historical peak, spawning multiple revolutionary movements.  By creating Kwanzaa, African-Americans sought to rectify the cultural and economic exploitation perpetrated against us during the months of October, November, and December (the Christmas season). During this season, corporate America typically ignored the quality of life concerns of African-Americans, yet encouraged participation in the commercialism of Christmas (kwanzaa.123holiday.net)”.

TIP: Kwanzaa Seven Symbols: 1. Mazao: Fruits, Nuts, and Vegetables,  2. Mkeka: Place Mat,  3.  Vibunzi: Ear of Corn,  4.  Mishumaa Saba: The Seven Candles, 5.  Kinara: The Candleholder,  6.  Kikombe Cha Umoja: The Unity Cup,  7. Zawadi: Gifts.

However, I do give fair recognition of the word Christmas, as well.  Did you know that Christmas meaning is “Christ’s Mass”?  Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus to the Mary as a fulfillment of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecy. The Bible contains two accounts which describe the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. Depending on one’s perspective, these accounts either differ from each other or tell two versions of the same story. These biblical accounts are found in the Gospel of Matthew, namely Matthew 1:18, and the Gospel of Luke, specifically Luke 1:26 and 2:40. According to these accounts, Jesus was born to Mary, assisted by her husband Joseph, in the city of Bethlehem.  According to Biblical research, the birth took place in a stable, surrounded by farm animals. A manger (that is, a feeding trough) is mentioned in Luke 2:7, where it states Mary “wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (KJV); and “She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them” (NIV). Shepherds from the fields surrounding Bethlehem were told of the birth by an angel, and were the first to see the child. Biblical verses also holds that three kings or wise men (named Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) visited the infant Jesus in the manger, though this does not strictly follow all biblical account. The Gospel of Matthew instead describes a visit by an unspecified number of magi,  sometime “after” Jesus was born while the family was living in a house (Matthew 2:11), who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus. The visitors were following a mysterious star, commonly known as the Star of Bethlehem, believing it to announce the birth of a king of the Jews. The commemoration of this visit, the Feast of Epiphany celebrated on January 6, is the formal end of the Christmas season in some churches (wikipedia and other web research sites).

FYI: Feast of Epiphany “One of the oldest Christian feasts (celebrated since the end of the second century, before the establishment of the Christmas holiday), Epiphany (which means “manifestation” or “showing forth”) is sometimes called Twelfth Day, Three Kings’ Day, Día de los Tres Reyes (in Latin America), the Feast of Jordan (by Ukrainian Orthodox), or Old Christmas Day (The Free Dictionary).” “Christians celebrate 6 of January as Epiphany because it’s considered the day the three Wise men (Magi) visited Jesus in Bethlehem  The other reason it’s called Epiphany is because it signified the revelation of God to mankind in human form (Answers.com).”

The song: We Three Kings of Orient AreI shared with you the appropriate lyrics as each King presented their gifts to the baby Jesus!

FYI:  “The famous American carol We three Kings of Orient was written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins. The minister is reputed to have written the carol We three Kings of Orient are for the General Theological Seminary in New York City as part of their Christmas pageant. The lyrics of We three Kings of Orient are are extremely traditional which makes the latter day fashion of referring to the carol as We 3 Kings of Orient are quite bizarre! www.carols.org.uk

FRANKINCENSE

Frankincense to offer have I Incense owns a Deity nigh Prayer and praising, all men raising Worship Him, God most high”

MYRRH

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Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb”

GOLD

“Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain Gold I bring to crown Him again King forever, ceasing never Over us all to reign”

The gifts that were presented to the baby Jesus by the Three Kings were a blessing, it is written that with those gifts the family of Jesus were able to flee from danger.

You may ask what is the difference with “gifts” and “presents” ?  Well according to an article I read.  “the word gift has a current common meaning of ‘something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance.’ It denoted a specific act of putting something in someone else’s hands, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.  Later around the 1300s, the word began to assume a more general meaning of an object freely given to another person.”

Whereas, present  was imported was imported into English from Old Norman also called Old French). Present originally meant the same thing as the adjective present , ‘being there.’ It was used in the French phrase mettre en present, to mean ‘to offer in the presence of.’  By the early 1300s, it became synonymous with the thing being offered. (Present did not acquire the sense of ‘the present time’ until the 1500s.)

Now, we have other terms used from gift giving in the modern era.  For example “re-gifting” is almost akin to recycling a gift, instead of returning a gift to the merchandiser, you instead would gift it to another person…hopefully not the same person which presented you the gift in the first place (lol).

FYI: “Re-gift. A more recent evolution of the term came in the popular word regift.  The word refers  to the common practice of giving away a gift that you received from someone else, like candles, bubble bath, “and ugly sweaters (lol)! dictionary.com

FYI:  In other countries, secular processions or parades featuring Santa Claus and other seasonal figures are often held. Family reunions and the exchange of gifts are a widespread feature of the season.

When can you open the gifts?!

Gift giving takes place on Christmas Day in most countries. Others practice gift giving on December 6, Saint Nicholas Day; and January 6, Epiphany; or the day before Christmas, December 26.

How do you say Merry Christmas in…

Season’s Greetings كل عام وأنتم بخير  – Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese) –  祝聖誕節快樂 Chinese (Mandarin) –  祝圣诞节快乐 Danish – Glædelig Jul og Godt Nytår Dutch – Prettige feestdagen Fijian – Bula Vinaka Finnish – Hyvää Joulua ja Onnellista Uutta Vuotta French – Joyeuses fêtes German – Frohe Feiertage! Hindi – uoo”kZ dh ‘kqÒdkeuk;sa Icelandic – Gleðilega hátíð Italian – Buone Feste Japanese – メリー クリスマス Korean –    즐거운 연휴 되시길 바랍니다. Lithuanian –  Linksmų švenčių! Norwegian – God Jul og Godt Nytt År  Persian (Farsi) تبریکات فصلی  Portuguese – Boas Festas Romanian – Crăciun fericit Spanish – Felices fiestas Swati –  Tilokotfo taKhisimisi Swedish – God Jul och Gott Nytt År, Maligayang Pasko in the Philippines   – See more at: http://www.lingo24.com/useful-phrases-seasons-greetings.html#sthash.0hABZfvH.dpuf

Ways to say “Merry Christmas” or “Season’s Greetings” in such languages    as Afrikaans, Danish, Hindi, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swahili, Thai, and more.

Language Merry Christmas
Afrikaans Gesëende Kersfees
Czech Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny          Novy Rok
Danish Glædelig Jul
Esperanto Gajan Kristnaskon
Finnish Hyvää Joulua
French Joyeux Noël
German Froehliche Weihnachten
Greek Kala Christouyenna
Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka
Hindi Bada Din Mubarak Ho
Icelandic Gledileg Jol
Irish Nollaig Shona Dhuit
Italian Buon Natale or Buone Feste          Natalizie
Japanese Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu          Omedeto
Korean Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Latin Natale hilare
Lithuanian Linksmu Kaledu
Maori Meri Kirihimete
Norwegian God Jul
Polish Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Portuguese Feliz Natal
Russian Srozhdestovm Kristovim
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Swahili Kuwa na Krismasi njema
Tagalog Maligayang Pasko
Thai Suksun Wan Christmas
Vietnamese Chuc Mung Giang Sinh
Welsh Nadolig Llawen

Happy Holidays[edit]

For other meanings of “Happy Holidays”, see Happy Holidays (disambiguation).

In the United States, “Happy Holidays” (along with the similarly generalized “Season’s Greetings”) has become a common holiday greeting in the public sphere of department stores, public schools and greeting cards. Its use is generally confined to the period between United States Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. American use of the term “Happy Holidays” to replace “Merry Christmas” dates back at least to the 1970s[53] and was a common phrase relating to the Christmas season at least going back to the 1890s.[54] The term may have gained popularity with the Irving Berlin song “Happy Holidays” (released in 1942 and included in the film Holiday Inn).

A Jerusalem bus wishing pedestrians a Hanukkah Sameach, a Happy Hanukkah, in December 2010.

In the United States, it can have several variations and meanings:[citation needed]

  • As “Happy Holiday”, an English translation of the Hebrew Hag Sameach greeting on Passover, Sukkot, and Shavuot.
  • As “Happy Holiday”, a substitution for “Merry Christmas”.
  • As “Happy Holidays”, a collective and inclusive wish for the period encompassing Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Winter solstice, Christmas Day (The Nativity of the Lord), Boxing Day (St. Stephen’s Day), the New Year and Epiphany.

Which should I say, that will not offend anyone?

As “Happy Holidays”, a shortened form of the greeting “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

The increasing usage of “Happy Holidays” has been the subject of some controversy in the United States. Advocates claim that “Happy Holidays” is an inclusive greeting that is not intended as an attack on Christianity or other religions, but is rather a response to what they say is the reality of a growing non-Christian population.

Show me the money…when should I start spending?

In the United States, the Christmas/holiday shopping season, during which a quarter of all personal spending takes place, is traditionally considered to commence on the day after American Thanksgiving, a Friday colloquially known as either Black Friday or Green Friday. This is widely reputed to be the busiest shopping day of the entire calendar year.

FYI:  However, in 2004 the VISA credit card organization reported that over the previous several years VISA credit card spending had in fact been 8 to 19 percent higher on the last Saturday before Christmas Day (i.e., Super Saturday) than on Black Friday.

A survey conducted in 2005 by GfK NOP discovered that “Americans aren’t as drawn to Black Friday as many retailers may think.”, with only 17% of those polled saying that they will begin holiday shopping immediately after Thanksgiving, 13% saying that they plan to finish their shopping before November 24, and 10% waiting until the very last day before performing their holiday gift shopping.

According to a survey by the Canadian Toy Association, peak sales in the toy industry occur in the Christmas and holiday season, but this peak has occurred later and later in the season every year.

In 2005, the ceremonial kick-off to the Christmas and holiday season for online shopping, the first Monday after US Thanksgiving, was named Cyber Monday. However, although it was a peak, that was not the busiest on-line shopping day of that year. The busiest on-line shopping days were December 12 and December 13, almost two weeks later; the second Monday in December has since become known as Green Monday. Another notable day is Free Shipping Day, a promotional day that serves as the last day where a person can order a good online and have it arrive via standard shipping (the price of which the sender pays) prior to Christmas Eve; this day is usually on or near December 16.Four of the largest 11 on-line shopping days in 2005 were December 11 to 16, with an increase of 12% over 2004 figures.In 2011, Cyber Monday was slightly busier than Green Monday and Free Shipping Day, although all three days registered sales of over US$1 billion, and all three days registered gains ranging from 14% to 22% over the previous year. Analysts had predicted the peak on December 12, noting that Mondays are the most popular days for on-line shopping during the holiday shopping season, in contrast to the middle of the week during the rest of the year. They attribute this to people “shopping in stores and malls on the weekends, and […] extending that shopping experience when they get into work on Monday” by “looking for deals, […] comparison shopping and […] finding items that were out of stock in the stores”.

In Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Christmas shopping season starts from mid November, around the time when high street Christmas lights are turned on. In the UK in 2010, up to £8 billion was expected to be spent online at Christmas, approximately a quarter of total retail festive sales.  Retailers in the UK call Christmas the “golden quarter”, that is, the three months of October through December is the quarter of the year in which the retail industry hopes to make most money.

In France, the January sales are restricted by legislation to no more than four weeks in Paris, and no more than six weeks for the rest of the country, usually beginning on the first Wednesday in January, and are one of only two periods of the year when retailers are permitted to hold sales.

In Italy, the January sales begin on the first weekend in January, and last for at least six weeks.

In Germany, the Winterschlussverkauf (winter close-out sale) was one of two official sales periods (the other being the Sommerschlussverkauf, the summer sales). It began on the last Monday in January and would last for 12 days, selling left-over goods from the holiday shopping season. However, unofficially, goods were sold at reduced prices by many stores throughout the whole of January and by the time that the sales officially begin the only goods left on sale are low-quality ones, often specially manufactured for the sales. Since a legislative reform to the corresponding law in 2004,season close-out sales are now allowed over the whole year and no more restricted to season-related goods. However, voluntary sales still called “Winterschlussverkauf” take place further on in most stores at the same time every year.

In Sweden, where the First of Advent marks the start of the Christmas and holiday season, continuing with Saint Lucy’s Day on December 13, followed up by Christmas before the Mellandagsrea (between days sell off) begins on December 27 (nowadays often December 26 or even December 25) and lasts during the rest of the Christmas holiday. It is similar to Black Friday, but lasts longer. They last 34–35 days In Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia, holiday sales starts in the middle of December and last for at least one month. (wikipedia.com).

Why do we meet under the mistletoe for that  K I S S ?

The mistletoe is a seasonal costume plant by the Gauls. The Druids — for thusly are their priests named – hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree that bears it, as long as that tree be an oak…. Mistletoe is very rarely encountered; but when they do find some, they gather it, in a solemn ritual….”After preparing for a sacrifice and a feast under the oak, they hail the mistletoe as a cure-all and bring two white bulls there, whose horns have never been bound before. A priest dressed in a white robe climbs the oak and with a golden sickle cuts the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then they sacrifice the victims, begging the god, who gave them the mistletoe as a gift, to make it propitious for them. They believe that a potion prepared from mistletoe will make sterile animals fertile, and that the plant is an antidote for any poison. Such is the supernatural power with which people often invest even the most trifling things” (Natural History, XVI, 249-251; translation by David Beaulieu).
There is another take that “The variety common in Europe was imbued with religious significance by its ancient denizens. We find the source of “kissing under the mistletoe” in Celtic rituals and Norse mythology. In Gaul, the land of the Celts, for instance, the Druids considered it a sacred plant. It was believed to have medicinal qualities and mysterious supernatural powers. The following reflections from the Roman natural historian, Pliny the Elder is part of a longer Latin passage on the subject, dealing with a Druidic religious ritual:The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”  We moderns have conveniently forgotten the part about plucking the berries (which, incidentally, are poisonous), and then desisting from kissing under the mistletoe when the berries run out!

Most types of mistletoe are classified as hemiparasitical (i.e., partial parasites). They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis. But these mistletoe plants are parasitic in the sense that they send a special kind of root system (called “haustoria”) down into their hosts, the trees upon which they grow, in order to extract nutrients from the trees.

Therefore, forget about creeping on the stairs to take a peek to seeing “mommy kissing Santa Claus“…kiss all year round sans the plant! (lol).

FYI: I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus (This Christmas song by by Tommie Connor was first recorded by Jimmy Boyd and hit the top of the charts in 1952.)

What about the trees!

No one for sure knows when and where the first Christmas tree was created. However the origin of Christmas tree can be traced back to 16th century Germany. From there it spread to Eastern Europe and then to the United States and then soon all over the world (hubpages).

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.”

A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as spruce, pine, or fir traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. If real trees are using for decorating purposes care should be taken to look it fresh all time. For this, the cut portion of the Christmas tree should be kept in water.  An artificial Christmas tree, usually made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is a man-made replication of such a tree and is often used instead of a live tree in order to retain the Christmas spirit and decorations without the care and maintenance of a cut tree.  Artificial Christmas trees are suitable for both indoor and outdoor decorations (wikipedia.com).

The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or other foods. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there are a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

Alternatively, it is identified with the “tree of paradise” of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.

MSI: BRINGS YOU AROUND THE WORLD IN LESS THAN 80 DAYS! (LOL)

Now back to the trees at the museum…when I visited the MSI, I saw so many trees that I wondered if I was in a beautiful magical forest !

I decided to take photos of the representing country and a special ornament on that tree!  Afterall the trees were all the same size and color’ but what stood out were the unique ornaments on those trees!  I also decided to fastidiously search through copious interesting facts and information about each representing country to supplement the photos.

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(DYK): In India, Christian households, preparations for Christmas begin at least a month in advance. People get their homes whitewashed and indulge in spring cleaning of the house to give it a fresh new look. Ladies start preparations for the traditional Christmas cake which is anxiously awaited not just by the entire family but also by the neighbors!! Christmas Day called ‘Bada Din’ (Big Day) in Hindi is a national holiday in India and people from all religions join their Christian friends to make the most of the joyous celebrations. Instead of having traditional Christmas Trees, a banana or mango tree is decorated. Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes. Customs for Christmas celebrations vary in the vast expanse of India.

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(DYK):  In Sweden, the Swedish Christmas celebrations begin with the first of Advent. Saint Lucy’s Day (locally known as Luciadagen) which is the first major Christmas celebration before Christmas itself. Around Christmas time in Sweden, one of the biggest celebrations is St. Lucia’s Day (or St. Lucy’s Day) on December 13th. The celebration comes from stories that were told by Monks who first brought Christianity to Sweden.   Electric candles and glowing stars are placed in almost every window in December month in Sweden. Families sometimes have goats made of straw in the house to guard the Christmas Tree! Straw is used as a decoration in homes, to remind them that Jesus was born in a manger. Christmas Tree decorations that are made of straw are also very popular.  Although December 25 (juldagen) is a Swedish public holiday, December 24 is the day when Santa Clause Jultomte (or simply Tomte) brings the presents.

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(DYK): In the Netherlands (also called Holland) on December, 5th children leave clogs or shoes out to be filled with presents. They also believe that if they leave some hay and carrots in their shoes for Sinterklaas’s horse, they will be left some sweets. Children are told that Zwarte Piet keeps a record of all the things they have done in the past year, in a book, and that good children will get presents from Sinterklaas, but bad children will get chased by Zwarte Piet with a stick! They organize their St. Nicholas (Sinter Klaas) festival: the old bearded man traveling by boat and accompanied by many black aids, who distributes gifts to good children. Dutch people reserve the big gifts for Kerstmis Time because they profit for some great bargains after Sinter Klaas.  The Christmas season wraps up after the new year with Epiphany, or “Driekoningen”, on January 6. Children dress up as the Three Wise Men and travel in groups of three carrying lanterns, re-enacting the Epiphany and singing traditional songs for their hosts. In return they are rewarded with cakes and sweets.

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(DYK):  Christmas in Puerto Rico is  the period is quite long as  it extends from early December to mid-January. The air is filled with typical songs such  as the Aguinaldos ..People visit friends and family in the asaltos in which they go from house to house singing and partying. Typical instruments such as the guiro,  the cuatro and the guitar are used to make lovely music.The hosts lavish their visitors with food and drinks and later join the group as they move to another house.  Puerto Ricans usually put up a nice Christmas Tree with all the trimmings–a custom  obtained from American influence. As in most things, Puerto Ricans have adapted American  customs while keeping their own in typical celebrations, For the next 5 days Puerto Ricans and children in particular prepare for another festivity of Puerto Rican  culture…The Three Kings’ Day on the 6th of January…the Feast of the Epiphany,  celebrating the visit to the Christ Lord by the Magi bringing presents from the Far  East..The kids will cut some grass and place it in a small box and put it under the  Christmas Tree waiting for the Kings to bring them presents –the Camels will need a lot  of grass to feed after their long trip from the Orient.

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(DYK): In Canada houses, shops and streets are decorated with lights. Canadian people decorate their house with a Christmas tree, a Christmas wrap, a Christmas Crib… After the “Midnight Mass” people have a Christmas Eve with their family. Turkey and the Christmas log are the essential ingredients of a Canadian Christmas Dinner.   At Christmas Canadians eat sweets called Barley Candy and Chicken Bones! They are really sweets made by local candy companies. Barley Candy is usually on a stick and is shaped like Santa, reindeer, snowmen, a tree and other symbols of Christmas. Chicken Bones a pink candy that tastes like cinnamon. You melt them in your mouth and once melted, they reveal a creamy milk chocolate center. “Sinck Tuck” is a festival started by the Inuit that is celebrated in some provinces of Canada. Many Canadian families have cookie-baking parties. They bring a recipe for Christmas cookies, bake them and then exchange them with the members of their family. At the end of the party, each family goes home with a variety of different cookies to enjoy over the Christmas season. This celebration consists of dancing and gift exchanging. They send greeting cards to their friends and family who live far away. Many Canadians open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some only open their stocking on Christmas Eve. Others choose one gift to open, then save the rest until Christmas Day.

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(DYK):  In Thailand It is true to say that no nation likes to celebrate more than the Thais and so it didn’t take long for the seasonal celebration to take hold, this may come as a surprise to some, particularly as over 90% of the population is Buddhist and Christmas is a Christian festival. However, it is worth remembering that the Christmas celebration has ancient roots in the winter solstice, and revelries involving holly, mistletoe, candles, feasts and gift-giving existed long before the Christian tradition.For the Thais, December 25th is not a public holiday and so school and work life will continue on as normal. Some Thai families will give their children gifts on Christmas morning and share a celebratory evening meal – although, this is more likely to be a Thai curry rather than the traditional Christmas fare of roast turkey.

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(DYK): In Greece the Christmas period begins on Christmas Eve and ends at the Epiphany. Christmas is less important than Easter.  On Christmas Eve, children, especially boys, often go out singing ‘kalanda’ (carols) in the streets. They play drums and triangles as they sing. Sometimes the will also carry model boats decorated with nuts which are painted gold. Carrying a boat is a very old custom in the Greek Islands.  If the children sing well, they might be given money, nuts, sweets and dried figs to eat.  Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Greece, but they aren’t traditional. Instead most houses will have a shallow wooden bowl with a piece of wire is suspended across the rim. A sprig of basil wrapped around a wooden cross hangs from the wire. Some water is kept in the bowl to keep the basil alive and fresh. Once a day, someone, usually the mother of the family, dips the cross and basil into some holy water and uses it to sprinkle water in each room of the house.  The main Christmas meal is often Lamb or pork, roasted in an oven or over an open spit. It’s often served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables. Other Christmas and new year foods include ‘Baklava’ (a sweet pastry made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey), Kataifi (a pastry made from a special form of shredded filo dough and flavored with nuts and cinnamon), Theeples (a kind of fried pastry). A traditional table decoration are loaves of ‘christopsomo’ (Christ bread). It’s a round sweet loaf and the crust is often decorated with what the family do for a living (if you’re a fisherman there would be fish, etc.).

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(DYK): In Columbia, while Christmas decorations may be put up as early as the beginning of November. The unofficial start of Colombian Christmas festivities takes place on December 7, Día de las Velitas, or “Day of the Candles.” At night, the streets, sidewalks, balconies, porches, and driveways are decorated with candles and paper lanterns, which illuminate cities and towns in a yellow glow to honor the Immaculate Conception on the following day, December 8. In many cities, and even in small rural towns, neighborhoods get together and decorate their whole neighborhood or street, turning streets into virtual “tunnels of light.” Many radio stations and local organizations hold contests for the best display of lights, making the competition for the best light show a serious event.

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(DYK): In Finland the Christmas season starts from December or even in late November, when shops began advertising potential Christmas gifts.  Christmas decorations and songs become more prominent as Christmas nears, and children count days to Christmas with Advent calendars. Finnish people clean their homes well before Christmas and prepare special treats for the festive season. A sheaf of grain, nuts and seeds are tied on a pole, which is placed in the garden for the birds to feed on.  Animals are given their own Christmas in Finland, with farmers sometimes hanging a sheaf of wheat on a tree to be eaten and pecked at by the birds. Nuts and pieces of suet are also hung on trees in bags from the branches.Spruce trees are cut or bought from a market and taken to homes on or a few days before Christmas Eve and are decorated.  Christmas gifts are usually exchanged after Christmas Eve dinner. Children do not hang up stockings in Finland but Joulupukki visits the household, maybe with a tonttu to help him distribute the presents.

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(DYK): In Romania Christmas and mid-winter celebrations last from 20th December to 7th January. The 20th is when people celebrate St. Ignatius’s Day. It is traditional that if the family keep pigs, one is killed on this day. The meat from the pig is used in the Christmas meals., on December 24th, there is a Christmas candle burning until the morning of December 25th. The singing of carols is a very important part of Romanian Christmas festivities. On the first day of Christmas, many carolers walk through the streets of the towns and villages, holding a star made of cardboard and paper on which are depicted various scenes from the Bible. Romanian tradition has the smallest children going from house to house, singing carols and reciting poems and legends during the whole Christmas season. The leader of the group carries with him a star made of wood, covered with metal foil and decorated with bells and coloured ribbons. An image of the Nativity is painted on the star’s centre, and this piece of handiwork is attached to the end of a broom or other long stick.

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(DYK): In Lebanon, over 30 percent of the population follows Christianity, and Christmas is an anticipated affair every year. People decorate their houses and malls with Nativity Cribs and also attend Midnight Mass across various churches in Lebanon. People celebrate Christmas Eve by lighting firecrackers, ringing church bells, and shooting guns off into the air (for similar customs, see shooting in Christmas. Many attend special religious services, such as Midnight Mass. Some churches also hold special concerts featuring Christmas carols on this evening. On the morning of the festival, families get together and meet up for a brunch or lunch. Common elements present at the feasting table are coffee liquor, traditional coffee, mezze platters, sugared nuts and dates are kept on the table as a part of the Christmas feast. Before the meal commences, the young and old sit at the table, join hands and chant a small prayer for the Lord’s wellbeing before beginning to eat.

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(DYK): In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents.Christmas is merely commercial significance in Japan. Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day. It is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance! The traditional Japanese christmas food is christmas cake, but it’s not a rich fruit cake, but is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream. Parties are often held for children, with games and dancing. Japanese Christmas Cake is a sponge cake decorated with trees, flowers and a figure of Santa Claus.This festival represents Saint Nicholas and it is an opportunity to offer gifts to small children.  Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th.

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(DYK): In Belgium there are two main languages, Flemish and Walloon (a version of French). The two languages are spoken in different regions of the country. In Flemish Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Vrolijk Kerstfeest’ and in Walloon ‘djoyeus Noyé’.  Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages. On Christmas Eve (‘Kerstavond’ in Flemish and ‘le réveillion de Noël’ in Walloon), a special meal is eaten by most families. It starts with a drink (apéritif) and ‘nibbles’, followed by a ‘starter’ course such as sea-food, and then stuffed turkey. The dessert is ‘Kerststronk’ (Flemish) or ‘la bûche de Noël’ (Walloon) a chocolate Christmas Log made of sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate butter cream and made to resemble a bark-covered log. Small family Christmas presents are also given at Christmas too, under the tree, or in stockings near the fire-place, to be found in the morning or opened on Christmas Eve.  The traditional Christmas breakfast is the same as the normal Sunday breakfast eaten throughout the year. This is freshly baked crusty rolls (bakeries do their best trade on Sundays in the Flanders region) with butter & cold meats and/or jam, followed by pastries (like Danish pastries) called “koffiekoek(en)” (meaning coffee cake(s) as they are normal eaten with a cup of coffee!). In Walloon districts (the south of Belgium), a special sweet bread called ‘cougnou’ or ‘cougnolle’ made in a shape that is supposed to be like baby Jesus is eaten for Christmas breakfast.

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(DYK): In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th.   Mexican Christmas festivities start on December 12, with the feast of La Guadalupana (Virgin of Guadalupe), and end on January 6, with the Epiphany. Mexico’s Christmas traditions are based on Mexico’s form of Roman Catholicism and popular culture traditions also called Las Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for a room in an Inn. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns.  Since the 1990s, Mexican society has embraced a new concept linking several celebrations around Christmas season into what is known as the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.  At midnight on Christmas, many families place the figure of baby Jesus in their nacimientos (Nativity scenes), as the symbolic representation of Christmas as a whole. In the center and south of Mexico, children receive gifts on Christmas Eve and on 6 January, they celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, when, according to tradition, the Three Wise Men (3 Wizard Kings) brought gifts to Bethlehem for Jesus Christ. Santa Claus (or Santo Clos, as he’s known in Mexico[38]) is who brings the children their gifts, but traditionally the Three Wise Men will fill the children’s shoes with candies, oranges, tangerines, nuts, and sugar cane, and sometimes money or gold. For the Three Wise Men gave Baby Jesus Gold for his future.

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(DYK): In the Czech Republic Christmas Eve (24 December) is celebrated as Štědrý den, which means “Generous Day”, when the gifts are given in the evening. The 25 and 26 December are Public holidays in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia, but Vánoce (Christmas), is most commonly associated with the 24th.  According to tradition, gifts are brought by Ježíšek, or “baby Jesus”. Fish soup and breaded roasted carp with special homemade potato salad are a traditional dish for the dinner. The gifts are surreptitiously placed under the Christmas tree (usually a spruce or pine), usually just before or during dinner. Children have to wait for the ringing of a Christmas bell (one of the decorations on the Christmas tree) – the sign that Ježíšek (little Jesus) has just passed by – to run for the presents. That happens at the end of their Christmas dinner. There is a rich tradition of hard baked Christmas sweets (Cukroví).  Other Czech and Slovak Christmas traditions involve predictions for the future. Apples are always cut crosswise: if a perfect star appears in the core, the next year will be successful, distorted star means a bad year or illness, while a cross may suggest death. Girls throw shoes over their shoulders – if the toe points to the door, the girl will get married soon. Another tradition requires pouring some molten lead into water and guessing a message from its shapes.

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(DYK): In Bulgaria, Christmas (Bulgarian: Коледа, Koleda or more formally Рождество Христово, Rozhdestvo Hristovo, “Nativity of Jesus”) is celebrated on 25 December and is preceded by Christmas Eve (Бъдни вечер, Badni vecher). Traditionally, Christmas Eve would be the climax of the Nativity Fast, and thus only an odd number of lenten dishes are presented on that evening. On that day, a Bulgarian budnik is set alight. On Christmas, however, meat dishes are already allowed and are typically served.  Among the Bulgarian Christmas traditions is koleduvane, which involves boy carolers (коледари, koledari) visiting the neighbouring houses starting at midnight on Christmas Eve, wishing health, wealth and happiness a. Another custom is the baking of a traditional round loaf (пита, pita). The pita is broken into pieces by the head of the family and a piece is given to each family member, a valuable possession, and a piece for God. A coin is hidden inside the pita and whoever gets the coin, he or she will have the luck, health and prosperity in the coming year.

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(DYK): In Ireland it is extremely popular on Christmas Eve to go for “the Christmas drink” in the local pub, where regular punters are usually offered a Christmas drink. Many neighbours and friends attend each other’s houses for Christmas drinks and parties on the days leading up to and after Christmas Day. Santa Claus, often known in Ireland simply as Santy or Daidí na Nollag in Irish, brings presents to children in Ireland, which are opened on Christmas morning. Family and friends also give each other gifts at Christmas. The traditional Christmas dinner consists of turkey or goose and ham with a selection of vegetables and a variety of potatoes, as potatoes still act as a staple food in Ireland despite the popularisation of staples such as rice and pasta. Dessert is a very rich selection of Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, and mince pies with equally rich sauces such as brandy butter. Christmas celebrations in Ireland finish with the celebration of Little Christmas also known as Oíche Nollaig na mBan in Irish on 6 January. This festival, which coincides with Epiphany, is also known as Women’s Christmas in Cork & Kerry.

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(DYK): St. Nicholas also visits Hungary on the 6th December. In Hungary he is known as ‘Mikulás’. Children leave out shoes or boots on a windowsill to be filled with goodies! Presents might also be brought by Télapó (Old Man Winter).In Hungary, celebrations begin with Christmas tree decoration and gift packaging during daytime on 24 December, then comes a family dinner with traditional Christmas meals. The day is otherwise a fast-day. In the evening (Christmas Eve, in Hungarian: Szenteste) the Angel or the Little (Baby) Jesus (Hungarian: Kisjézus or Jézuska) delivers the presents.  In some parts of Hungary, a traditional supper called fish soup halászlé is served at Christmas Eve meal, although it is also consumed at other times of the year.  The main Christmas meal, which is also eaten on Christmas eve, consists of fish and cabbage and a special kind of poppy bread/cake called ‘Beigli’.  In Hungary, Christmas Eve is very important and is called ‘Szent-este’ which means Holy Evening. The Midnight Mass service is very popular in Hungary. Most people go to Church after their Christmas meal.People spend the evening with their family and decorate the Christmas Tree. Sometimes only the adults decorate the tree (without the children there), so when children come in and see the tree, it’s a great surprise and they are told that angels brought the tree for them!  On Christmas Day people visit their families.

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(DYK):  In Lithuania Christmas Eve (Kūčios) is a more important day than Christmas Day. Kūčios is also the name of the big Christmas Eve meal which families have together during the evening of Christmas Eve. Kūčios is also the last day of Advent, so it is important and special. But before the meal can be eaten, lots of preparations have to take place. The whole house is cleaned, the bedding is changed and everyone washes and puts on clean clothes ready for the meal. Many Lithuanians used to go to the bathhouse to be cleaned before the meal. Some people thought being clean helped to protect them from evil or diseases during the coming year. During Christmas Eve, working men would put away their tools and clean the cattle pens and farmyard, etc.   Stra is a traditional decoration. Is it normally spread on the table top and then covered with a clean, white tablecloth. The table is then decorated with candles and small branches or twigs from a fir tree. The straw reminds people of the baby Jesus lying in a manger. A superstition says that if you pull a piece of straw from under the tablecloth and it’s long, you will have a long life; but if it’s short you will have a short life; and a thick straw means a rich and happy life!

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(DYK):  In Denmark most people go to a Church Service on Christmas Eve about 4.00pm to hear the Christmas Story. When they get home the main Christmas meal is eaten between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. It’s served on a beautifully decorated table. Most people, after dinner, dance around the Christmas Tree before they open their presents.  Most families have a ‘ris á la mande’ (a special kind of rice pudding, made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present. On Christmas day people meet with their family and have a big lunch together with danish open-faced sandwiches on rye-bread. In Denmark, children believe that their presents are brought by the ‘Julemanden’ (which means ‘Christmas Man’). He looks very similar to Santa Claus and also travels with a sleigh and reindeer.  He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding and is helped by ‘nisser’ which are like elves.  Christmas Parties are held from 1st November to 24th December where a good time is has by all.

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(DYK): In Kenya, as in most of Africa, Christmas is celebrated in the traditional style on December 25, and this is a holiday along with December 26. The Kenyans call Christmas ‘Krismasi’ and decorating churches, stores and homes is a highlight along with shopping and gift exchanges. The religious part of Christmas is stronger in Kenya, most people go to church this day. The churches are decorated so, the most used decorations in the country are flower, green plants and balloons. Of course there aren’t too much pine trees in the country, so there aren’t so much Christmas trees, and these some are fake (from plastic) of course. Even where you can see a plastic tree, you will see a few plastic snow too. Houses are decorated with flowers and green plants just like the churches. After going to church, the second important is to have a big dinner with family and friends, roasted goat meat must be eaten this evening. And giving gifts is just the third in Kenya On Christmas Eve there are carolings and church services and children visit homes to perform and are given gifts of goodies or money. The traditional Christmas dinner consist of pilau, puddings and cakes. Look here for more information: http://travel.mapsofworld.com/kenya/christmas-in-kenya.html

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(DYK) In China Christmas Day is not a holiday, Christmas is celebrated in Chinese cities. This festival was imported into this country by foreign missionaries. For the Chinese people who celebrate it, Christmas is a religious event.  A tradition that’s becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is giving apples. Many stores have apples wrapped up in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because in Chinese Christmas Eve is called ‘Ping An Ye’ (which means quiet or silent night) and the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping Guo’ which sounds similar.One a few people have a Christmas Tree (or celebrate Christmas at all!). If people do have a tree it is normally a plastic one and might be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns (they might also call it a tree of light). The Christmas Trees that most people would see would be in shopping malls!

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(DYK): In Wales Christmas is celebrated over a twelve day time period (the twelve days of Christmas). Some of the celebrations were religious and others were secular. Before Christmas the tradition was to decorate homes with fresh mistletoe and holly; mistletoe to protect the home from evil and holly as a symbol of eternal life.   The custom in many parts of Wales was to attend a very early church service known as “Plygain” (daybreak), between 3am. and 6am. Men gathered in rural churches to sing, mainly unaccompanied, three or four part harmony carols in a service that went on for three hours or so. The custom managed to survive in many country areas, and because of its simplicity and beauty is being revived in many others. This is also the time of wassailing. A huge bowl would be filled with hot apple cider, mulled wine, spices, beaten egg whites, sliced apples, oranges and currents. To the greeting, “Good Wassail” A mug of Wassail is served to all who enters the house during this time. It is considered bad luck to refuse a mug of wassail.

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(DYK): The Christmas in Belarus is celebrated actually twice since it’s a Catholic country, on the 25th of December and on the 7th of January respectively. Christmas in Belarus is in the middle of winter and therefore the people of Belarus have a traditional white Christmas. Christmas in Belarus has been celebrated in their traditional ways since immemorial times. Christmas tree is decorated in a traditional manner and the various ornaments are gorgeous. Some of them are even hand crafted. Minsk is beautifully adorned with various Christmas lights and other ornaments. There are innumerable Christmas trees with red five-armed stars at the top decorated the streets named after the political leaders. Christmas gift giving is not common. During Christmas festive season in Belarus there are elaborate feasts where boiled rice is taken with raisins and honey, several pies as well as gammon and a goose. Along with these, dishes are also made out of mushrooms; the herring, vereschaka, boiled fruits, oats kissel are the other traditional items in the Christmas feast and to make it more taster nuts and raisins mixed are added to the several dishes. Christmas in Belarus today, is quite an elaborate affair. Kaliady is a pagan festival celebrated at the end of the year. People dress as animals and other beasts carrying the sun and the goat’s head in their hands,  The master of the house visited during Kalyadavanne is supposed to treat the group with sausage, snacks, and sweets.  But today, Christmas in Belarus has come back to stay as many young adults are finding solace in Orthodoxy, Catholic and Protestant belief.

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(DYK):  In Finland, Christmas is celebrated from 24th to 26th December. It is a major festival of the country and people celebrate it on a grand scale. As per the Finnish people, Santa Claus lives in Korvatunturi (Lapland), located in the north part of the country. Talking about other Christmas traditions in Finland, they begin much before the actual date of the festival. First Advent i.e. the first Sunday in December marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  The day before Christmas, people clean their homes and prepare special dishes for the festival. They cut the fir trees and take it to home, by sleds. They decorate the fir beautifully, using several decorative ornaments. Finnish people have a tradition of tying a sheaf of grain, seeds and nut on the pole. These things are placed in the garden, for the birds to feed on them.  They also lit candles on the Christmas tree and decorate it with paper flags, tinsel, fruits and candies. On the Christmas Eve i.e. 24th December, Finish people prepare a sumptuous meal. Their main traditional dish for the day is boiled codfish, served snowy white and fluffy. They also have roasted fresh ham and vegetables and roast suckling pig. Some of their other special dishes are kinkku (ham), riisipuuro (rice pudding), piparkakut (ginger bread cookies), kalja (Christmas brew), joulupulla (braided sweet white braid), porkkanalaatikko (carrot casserole), lantuulaatikko (rutabaga casserole) and joulutortut (pastry with cooked prunes).Another popular tradition associated with Finnish Christmas celebrations is the singing of Christmas hymns. People exchange gifts and cards on the festival and wish each other by saying ‘Hyvaa Joulua’, meaning Merry Christmas.

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(DYK): In the Ukraine the central tradition of the beautiful Christmas Eve celebrations in Ukrainian homes. The dinner table sometimes has a few wisps of hay on the embroidered table cloth as a reminder of the manger in Bethlehem.  In the Ukraine, Father Frost visits all the children in a sleigh pulled by only three reindeer. He brings along a little girl named Snowflake Girl. She wears a silver blue costume trimmed with white fur and a crown shaped like a snowflake.  An interesting aspect of Christmas in Ukraine is the bringing of a wheat sheaf into the house as a reminder of ancestors and the long tradition of agriculture in Ukraine. The sheaf is called a didukh. Those who are familiar with Ukrainian culture will understand the importance of grain to Ukraine – even the Ukrainian flag, with its blue and yellow colors, represents golden grain under a blue sky. Christmas is a joyous day which opens for Ukrainian families with attendance at Church. Ukrainian Churches offer services starting before midnight on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning. Christmas supper, without Lenten restrictions, does not have as many traditions connected with it as Sviata Vechera. The old tradition in Ukraine of giving gifts to children on St. Nicholas Day, December 19th, has generally been replaced by the Christmas date.

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(DYK): In Italy, Natale lasts three days, from December 24th till 26th. However, Natale traditions vary from one region to another one and, depending on the region it is Babo Natale (Father Christmas) or the “Gesu Bambino” (Little Jesus) who brings gifts on December 25th. The Italian Christmas dessert is “Panettone”. Having cribs in your own home became popular in the 16th century and it’s still popular today (before that only churches and monasteries had cribs). Cribs are traditionally put out on the 8th December. But the figure of the baby Jesus isn’t put into the crib until the evening/night of December 24th! One old Italian custom is that children go out Carol singing and playing songs on shepherds pipes, wearing shepherds sandals and hats. Christmas lasts from Dec.16th- Jan. 6th. People do all kinds of things. At first they have a cannon fired in Rome from the Castle of Saint Angelo. They have a large ornamental bowl which is filled with wrapped gifts, and when the families get together they take turn getting a gift until there is none left.

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(DYK): In Guatemala, Most Guatemalans, like other Latin-American counties, plan and build, with the entire family, a Nativity Scene called a “Nacimiento” or “Belen”. Although it is originally a Spanish tradition, many indigenous (Guatemalan) elements are now used in the design and construction of the Nativity scenes. The “Nacimiento” is normally put under the Christmas Tree. One unique characteristic of Guatemalan Nativity scenes is the use of sawdust dyed in many bright colors.On Christmas Eve families celebrate together and eat the main Christmas meal. It is made of several traditional dishes, but it always includes some Guatemalan tamales. In some regions they are made of corn and other of rice or potatoes. They can be sweet or not, and have several different ingredients inside like olives, prunes, peppers, chicken or pork.  Everyone waits until midnight to light hundreds of fireworks or firecrackers to celebrate the birth of Jesus. A family prayer is said around the tree and it is the custom to open the presents shortly after midnight.

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(DYK): Weinhachten in Germany lasts two days. On December 26th they visit their family and their friends. Christ-Kind offers gifts to the children on December 24th families and friends. In some parts of Germany, children write to the ‘Christkind’ (‘The Christ Child’ in English) asking for presents. The letters to the Christkind are decorated with sugar glued to the envelope to make them sparkly and attractive to look at. Children leave the letters on the windowsill at the beginning of or during Advent.Germany has also a Saint Nicholas festival on December 6th.  Christmas Eve is the main day when Germans exchange presents with their families.  Santa Claus or Father Christmas (der Weihnachtsmann) brings the presents on December 24th. December 6th is St. Nicholas’ Day and “der Nikolaus” brings some small gifts, such as sweets and chocolate, to the children. He comes in the night between the 5th and the 6th and puts the presents into the shoes of the children, who usually place them by their doors on the previous evening. In some regions of Germany, there is a character called “Knecht Ruprecht” or “Krampus” who accompanies Nikolaus (St. Nicholas) on the 6th of December.

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(DYK):  In South Korea, although  Christians today comprise only around 25% of its population, South Korea  recognizes Christmas as a public holiday.  Korean non-Christians who otherwise  go about their daily routine on December 25 may engage in some holiday  customs such as gift-giving, sending Christmas cards, and setting up  decorated trees in their homes; children, especially, appear to have  embraced Santa Claus, whom they call Santa Grandfather. The Christmas carols are the same as those in the United States, only that  they are sung in Korean.  Local dishes such as ddeok guk (rice-cake soup),  bulgogi (barbecued beef), naeng myeon (clear noodles made from  sweet potatoes or green mung beans), and the ever-popular gimchi (spicy pickled Chinese  cabbage) may be served for Christmas dinner along with fruit and assorted  sweets.  Korean Christians celebrate Christmas similar to the way it’s celebrated in the West, but since it’s primarily a religious holiday in Korea, there is considerably less fanfare and presents. Some families do put up Christmas trees, people exchange presents, and stores do put up holiday decorations, but the festivities start much closer to Christmas day. Grandpa Santa is popular with kids in Korea (Santa Harabujee) and he wears either a red or blue santa suit. Kids know him as a happy grandfather figure who gives out presents, and stores employ Santas to greet shoppers and hand out chocolate and candies. People in Korea usually exchange presents on Christmas Eve and instead of piles of presents, one present (or a gift of money) is customary All in all,  there is definitely a strong American influence behind the Korean celebration  of Christmas.

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(DYK)) In Egypt, most Egyptians today are Muslims therefore they do not celebrate Christmas as such although they do commemorate the birth of Jesus, but they celebrate the festivals Eid – ul – Fitr and Eid – Ul – Adha.  On Christmas Eve, Egyptians go to church wearing new clothes and Mass goes on until midnight. Bells are rung to mark the end of the service and people go home after they receive the special bread called ‘qurban’ (meaning sacrifice) at the end of the service. This bread has a Holy Cross in the middle and 12 dots to represent the 12 apostles.  Christmas is celebrated as a public holiday, especially for the Christians. Since Christians believe that Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt for fear of Herod’s plan, the Coptic churches are decorated with candles and lamps on Christmas to remind the Coptic Christians of when Joseph lit candles to keep Mary warm during the birth of Jesus.  Then they eat a special Christmas meal at home called ‘Fata’. This meal uses bread, rice, garlic and boiled meat as its main constituents. In the morning, people visit their friends and neighbors and exchange ‘kaik’ (a type of shortbread) that is eaten with a drink called ‘shortbat’.

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(DYK): In Iceland, there are lots of customs and traditions about Yule in Iceland. The Yule season consists of the following traditions.  In Iceland there are 13 santa clauses called the Jule Lads: Stekkjastaur, Giljagaur, Stúfur, Þvörusleikir, Pottasleikir, Askasleikir, Hurðaskellir, Skyrgámur, Bjúgnakrækir, Gluggagægir, Gáttaþefur, Ketkrókur and Kertasníkir. So Icelandic kids get 13 little presents. One other big Yule custom is the coming of the ‘Jólasveinarnir’ or Yuletide Lads. These are magical people who come from the mountains in Iceland and each day from December 12th to Yule Eve a different Jólasveinn (Yuletide lad) comes. Jólasveinar first came to Iceland in the 17th century as the sons of Grýla and Leppalúði, a couple of child-eating, bloodthirsty ogres!  The Jólasveinar are thought of as playful imps or elves who like lots to eat and playing little tricks on people. They leave little presents for children in shoes placed on the windowsill. If children have been naughty, they might leave a potato or little message telling them to be good. They start going home on Christmas Day, with the last one leaving on Þrettándinn. Presents might also be brought by Jólasveinn (Yule Man). Finally, Icelanders open their Christmas presents on the 24’th not the 25’th.

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(DYK) In the United States, the traditional Christmas tree is held in high regard. It is beautifully bejeweled with Christmas ornaments, candies and a star tree topper that corresponds to the star of Bethlehem. The other things that are used in the Christmas decorations are sprigs of holly and mistletoe, Christmas lights and Santa idols. There is also an exchange of gifts and chocolates between people on this occasion. An exclusive Christmas Day parades with colorful display of bands and dancers makes Christmas special in the country. The carols and are also an inevitable part of the celebrations.  Also, there are several traditions that are uniformly followed by all the Americans. These comprise of the traditional Christmas tree, Santa Claus with this reindeers, Christmas cards, Yule log, and mistletoe.  Christmas is a widely celebrated festive holiday in the United States. The Christmas and holiday season begins around the end of November with a major shopping kickoff on Black Friday, the day after the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving, though Christmas decorations and music playing in stores sometimes extend into the period between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Many schools and businesses are closed during the period between Christmas and the New Year’s Day holiday, which is a time commonly used to spend time with family, return unwanted gifts at stores, and shop after-Christmas sales. Most decorations are taken down by New Years or Epiphany. Other observances considered part of the season (and potentially included in non-denominational holiday greetings like “Happy Holidays”) include Hanukkah, Yule, Epiphany, Kwanzaa, and winter solstice celebrations. No matter what country, nationality, tribe or kinship the holidays is wonderful for family, friends and mere acquaintances.  My childhood memories about the holidays are warm and happy.  I remember bumbling into the family room Christmas morning with a big smile, yelps, and laughter.  Below is a decorated tree, not as grand as by the Museum of Science and Industry; but just as lovely!

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I KNEW THAT IT WAS OFFICIALLY THE CHRISTMAS SEASON ONCE WE AS A FAMILY WATCHED THE FAMILY CLASSIC STORY TIMEMeet me in St. Louis” with Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien.

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in sweet home Chicago…en blanc…

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Shhh…Le Dîner en Blanc  is a secret…no, not cloak and dagger, just an elegant affair for the “invited”.  How does one get that coveted invite?  Well, get the 411 from an actual member, me the Pilot.  Sit into the Co-Pilot seat next to mine and enjoy the Dinner of the year.  I like everyone else, enjoys a good meal; but Dîner en Blanc is more than a “good” meal, it is the eleganza extravaganza of dining!

About a year ago, after viewing the television program, Top Chef Masters I saw a segment in which the contestants had to prepare a 3 course meal for a dinner party of thousands at an undisclosed secret location.  The event was entitled “Dîner en Blanc”.  It seemed quite wonderful; an event that the invitees came dressed to impress in their “best whites”.  After a bit of research I was able to learn that it was a concept which began in France, of course, one of the cradle-rocks of extravagant elegance.  Last year I published a blog post about Dîner en Blanc, this year I am publishing another post…but this time as an attendee, as opposed to a researcher of classy fashionable events.   This year will be Dîner en Blanc’s 25th anniversary! , It now has events in more than 40 cities, in 15 different countries, across 5 continents.  Reportedly, it hosts the event for over 10,000 members…not invitees, remember each member is asked to invite at least one guest…Wow that is a lot of white or should we say blanc!

Now a little of the history, how did it all begin…well I will type it verbatim, because it is quite an enchanting story:

Dîner en Blanc began by Frenchman François Pasquier, it began as a friends and family affair and later blossomed to an extravagant event.  “in the summer of 1988, Pasquier had just returned to Paris after a few years abroad and held a dinner party to reconnect with friends.  So many wished to attend that he asked them to convene at Bois de Boulogne  dressed in white, so as to be recognizable to one another. Each attendee was also asked to bring a friend. The evening was such a hit that guests wanted more friends to join-in the following year and thus was born the concept of Dîner en Blanc (chicagodinerenblanc.info)

FYIBois de Boulogne is a former hunting ground for the Kings of France, the Bois de Boulogne has become the largest spot for relaxation in the West of Paris.

Pictured on the left:  François Pasquier………………..pictured on the right:  Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi

“Later, following in father’s footsteps, Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi then came together to create Dîner en Bland International, a Dîner en Blanc® organization that would promote the history and philosophy of this event through hosts worldwide, and create an international network of diners and Dîner en Blanc® enthusiasts.  Through the technology (facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) the event may have changed over the years; but the principles fuelling this fantastic event have not; diners continue to gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a high-quality meal with good friends at the heart of one of the city’s most beautiful locations (dinerenblanc.info).

 I decided I want to learn even more; so I researched it further online and signed-up “tout de suite” ( French for “right away”) to be on the waiting list to attend the next event in Chicago.  If you like to attend the next Diner en Blanc with me, whether or not you live or like to visit the beautiful city of Chicago, visit www.dinerenblanc.info, find the country of your choice and use the drop down box linked to your country to select the city of your choice…select “Chicago” and come to visit me, the Pilot:)

Registration to Le Dîner en Blanc ® takes place in 3 phases:

  1. Phase 1: Dîner en Blanc ® members from previous years, and close friends of the organization
  2. Phase 2: Friends recommended during the Phase 1 registration process
  3. Phase 3: Guests who have signed up to the waiting list.

By signing up to this waiting list, you will receive an invitation to register in Phase 3.

In phase 2 and 3:
  • The number of places is limited, and take place on a “first come, first served” basis.
  • Invitations will be sent out
  • ’48 hours” prior to the opening of each particular registration phase.

Chicago’s event was just as beautiful, but to prepare for it we had a lot of work to do…to do it just “right”, or should I write do it just “white”.  First, we had to acquire all of the required accoutrements (personal clothing and accessories) for Dîner en Blanc.

First was “the dress”…

not what I wore, but next year you will catch the Pilot in the one on the left…it is so cute I could do a Arabesque, Pirouette, Releve`,  Frappe`, Grand Plie  (classic ballet moves)!

FYI: When you begin learning the steps and poses of ballet, you will realize that most of them have French names. King Louis XIV of France started the first ballet school, the Royal Academy of Dance, in 1661. Most of the French terms have been carried throughout the years.

A few of the ladies can even can rock a more modern twist to white/blanc “outfits”…just keep it chic, tasteful and elegant at all times.

semi-formal  but fully cool…………………..dashing formal attire …………………….chill causal look

men can be in their “dressed white attire” as well…well, why not, a white “affair” takes more than one it takes two to make an affair complete.

Second cause a little foot traffic with your foot wear.

You will be a “shoe-in” to be invited back if your wardrobe is elegant, so take the time to  select the perfect outfit!

TIP: bring two pairs, one for what could possible be a long walk to the secret location, the other white shoes is when you are there and ready to strut in white!

 Crazy-selling White Color SHOES Wedding Dress shoe Women's Shoes High-Heels shoes Ladies Party shoes

FYI: the pair on your right is priced at $22.73 at goodhappy (dhgate.com),the TOMS crochet espadrilles approximately $70.00 but remember the Toms “With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.  ®”  you can purchase the  (farfetch.com).

Never forget the topper or chapeau (French for hat) or if you are very adventurous transform yourself into Marie Antoinette…didn’t she have a “French Connection” lol!   Next  Dîner en Blanc I plan to wear a fascinator, a fascinator is usually bigger than a barrette, modern fascinators are commonly made with feathers, flowers or beads. They need to be attached to the hair by a comb, headband or clip. The fun, fanciful decoration is often embellished with crystals, beads, or loops of ribbon, and attaches via a comb or headband; some have a small, stiff, flat base that can be secured with bobby pins. They are particularly popular at premium horse-racing events and of course at an elegant extravagant events, such as Le Dîner en Blanc . 

FYI: Marie Antoinette became Dauphine of France. Marie Antoinette assumed the title of Queen of France and of Navarre when her husband, Louis XVI of France ascended the throne upon the death of Louis XV in May 1774 (Wikipedia.org).

fascinate with a Fascinator…………..don on an ostentatious Hat…………wig everyone out with a Wig!

TIP: Fascinated with fascinators then visit ebay.com and toggle through an array of fascinators now, so that it will arrive on time before your next event (unlike my fascinator which arrived a day late; although I paid to have it arrive one-day-air, 3 days before the event)…lesson learned).

After you have your wardrobe prepared, now you can focus about your meal…the dîner.  You can purchase a meal through the official website of Le Dîner en Blanc, and click onto their online store and purchase a meal or you can prepare, yes, cook your own a day prior to the event…remember you will know of the “event” 48 hours before-not of the “location’; but the date and time of the event itself…so be sure that you have saved the contact information so that your “spam box” or “junk box”, is not concealing your invitation in the spam folder.  Do not let Spam treat your dinner of the year like “junk”…that would definitely be “malchance” (French for misfortune).  Remember you need to pack a Table, Chairs (preferably white/blanc, along with the other paraphernalia.  For example as in my September 16th post there are rules you must abide to, it may seem a bit restrictive; but rules were meant to keep the spirit alive of the vision of nuit d’amélioration, or in English,  Night of Enchantment of a true Le Dîner en Blanc!

 I got these rule verbatim from their website so if you do not believe me visit it for yourself…I encourage you to…

1.  Seats are allotted on-site in a very specific manner.

2.  In order to participate, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the official websites’ waiting list.

3.  Once confirmed, the presence is mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as the event is held regardless of weather conditions.

4.  Colour of attire and table setting; white only.

5.  Table setting is symmetrical with men seated on one side and women on the other (Women also have priority on the better view).

6.  Participants arrive and depart at the same time by chartered bus or organized public transportation.

7.  Depart with one’s belongings, leftovers and trash, leaving the place as clean as it was upon arrival.

So, if you think you can adhere to the rules…then go to Neiman’s or another high end department store with elegant attire (I love ebay myself!).  Also, according to the website you must bring a few things…

1)   A table, two (blanc/white) chairs.

2)  A picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.

3)   Wine or Champagne , if allowed.  Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.

4)   Participants must wear white and be dressed elegantly.

Now, you know the rules, what to bring, what to wear, and

5)  Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.

If you are still in doubt…because after all, if you are blessed enough to eke out an invite, you are sure to have HAUTE FUN; then what should you N O T do in order to tag that invite next year.  Here are a few tips I was able to garner:

1. No t-shirts and sports tops

2. No Sports shoes, gym shoes, or caps (baseball-type)

3. Drink with moderation!!!

4. Bring a large white garbage bag for clean up…your place must be clean as it was upon arrival (lets keep Chicago beautiful).

sshhh…you will only know of the exact location of the event until just before it is scheduled to occur! (hush-hush).

NOTE: Since attendance is mandatory once you are invited…you may run the risk of no other invitation being extended if you do not attend …Therefore if  you are not able to attend GIVE THE INVITE TO SOMEONE ELSE INSTEAD lol lol the Pilot..they do however take  attendance meticulously (it is a well organized event).

The organizers of Diner en Blanc’s  main rule is that we should “recall the elegance and glamour of court society.”

FYI: elegance:  el•e•gance: quality and refinement.

FYI: glamour: glam•our: the quality of fascinating, alluring, or attracting, especially by a combination of charm and good looks.

Now you have the rules, the “do’s” and “do not’s”, now I will take you through the process.   After we received our invite we searched for the folding table (24′-30″) and 2 chairs we found a great set from Crate & Barrel (a bit pricey, but I plan to attend next year as well…maybe even in Paris!) , a white table cloth or white sheet (we saved money by purchasing a nice flat sheet from Target).  We delicately bubbled wrapped my mother’s antique crystal cut wine glasses.  We caught a phenomenal sale at Macy’s for the flat ware…remember no plastic allowed, our cloth napkins, all match perfectly with the white flat sheet we used as our table cloth, and we foraged and found in our cupboard a beautiful glass-cut center-piece, our flowers we brought sat charmingly inside…Garden Spray Roses are always a crowd-pleaser!

After gathering all of the  “requested/required”  components you should be getting increasingly excited; and may be getting a little apprehensive, and ask yourself…did I remember everythingwhat if I forgot something; do as the Pilot and crate a checklist!

Plan the three meals, as you would any meal; but this one make sure it is elegant and fabulous…check-out one of my older post on Progressive Dinners for great suggestions and menu ideas.

Appetizers or Starter, may I suggest something tasty and light…make enough to share with your neighboring tables…lets get the conversation started with the “starters”!

Seafood and Avocado / fruits de mer            Chicken/fruits de mer et d’avocat         Vegetarian crostini/vegetarian

Now prepare an Entrée or Main Course: Prepare something scrumptious and well seasoned to add spice into the night:)

From Top left Linguini with fresh herbs, Fennel Chicken & Risotto, or Spiced Lamb with mint Couscous to spice up Diner en Blanc.

Then never forget the well deserved Dessert or Last Course, whether it is a little or a lot, from just fresh fruits on skrewers to a fanciful Fruit Tart…go French it will go well with atmosphere (dj playing French music, jugglers and other performers  entertaining invitees) oh la la  très chic.

FYI:  très chic can translate to mean “very stylish”!

or try a Dessert on the LEFT: something a little more complex like a gluten-free dessert.  I learned that “If you suffer from acne, ADHD, autism, fibromyalgia, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid  arthritis, constipation, or even depression it may be recommended to follow a diet containing no gluten.   Research is also showing that patients who suffer from autism may benefit from a gluten free casein free diet (www.the-gluten-free-diet.com).”

Dessert on the RIGHT: something for Diabetics a Fruit Dessert Recipes www.diabeticlivingonline.com

Nonstick cooking spray

  • 2  eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups assorted fresh berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and/or sliced strawberries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Lightly coat six 6-ounce individual Quiche dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk until light and frothy. Whisk in milk until combined. Add flour and baking powder; whisk until smooth.
  2. Divide berries among prepared Quiche dishes. Pour batter over berries. (Batter will not cover berries completely.) Bake about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm. If desired, sift powdered sugar over each serving. Makes 6 servings.
Diabetic Exchanges:
Serving Other Carb (d.e.): 1.5, Fruit (d.e.) 05

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:

Servings Per Recipe: 6, pro.: (g) 5, carb.: (g) 26, Fat, total: (g) 2, sodium: (mg) 86, fiber: (g) 3, chol.: (mg) 71, cal.: (kcal) 141, sat. fat: (g) 1,

My sister and I ordered the on-line basket, and it was délicieux (French for delicious).  The organizers at Diner en Blanc made arrangements with LM Restaurant Group to provide French picnic baskets for two, which made it convenient for us to select our basket which we purchased, in advance from the online e-store for pick-up at the event (just that less to carry to our secret destination). We ordered a Monceau Basket offering Poulet (French for Chicken) and drank Welch Alcohol-free Sparkling Wine, white/blanc, of course which we got from our local grocery store Meier’s.

TIP: Be sure to use your “google-translate” to know just what meal you are purchasing on-line.  In our case, we have religious dietary restricts and do not consume swine/prok/pig.

FYI: Leviticus 11:7 7 “And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.”  8 “Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.”

Deuteronomy 14:8 8 “And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.”

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What is next you ask, after meeting with our fellow invitees also dressed in whites in a designated place, bumbling onto public transportation (CTA), and making a bit of a stroll to the undeclared the secret location.  Then, as the good campers we were, we began to set-up our tables and chairs and then elegantly dressed them with all the flair of any grand event.  As we sat and ate our luxurious meals,  I took note that most tables were lavishly and ornately laid out.  Everyone was quite friendly and gushed at our table as we admired theirs as well, this added to the camaraderie of invitees in white, all part of the great secret.  As we sat back in our white chairs and regaled one another of how we learned of Le Dîner en Blanc: I knew I wanted to come again next year and invitee my closet friends.  I understood why I saw a sea of white clothing lifting their glasses in merriment, I then knew we were at a very special event.

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Below is an outline of the nights event which made for a wonderful  Le Dîner en Blanc

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My assigned group met at Union Station in the Grand Hall which is very grand indeed, it lived up to its name with the marbled floors, walls, and large columned entrance; it was very exciting as we heard the clicking of heels on the marble, as our group size quickly multiplied.

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…as we gathered our “intel” from our assigned Table Leader, the lovely Kim Nelson,  we were just as clueless, as we were at the beginning… however, I would challenge you that this intrigue, is part of  what makes Le Dîner en Blanc so alluring and provocative.  While in Union Station, I loved meeting my fellow invitees and sharing in their experience of as well of feeling apprehensively cautious  and eager simultaneously.

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Since I had not taken public transportation in ages, I had no idea of  the cost of a fare for an Adult…$2.25 (when paying cash).

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as we boarded the CTA Bus many of the invitee were quite helpful and aided those with carts mount the steep bus stairs.   It was fun finding seats on the bus, it reminded me of high school when you would jockey to sit next to your friend or sibling.   In the end, I was just happy to find a vacant seat without toppling over onto the floor or into another passenger (lol).

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As we marched down the streets of Chicago, we were stared at and questioned repeatedly by passer-by curious as to just who we are…I was frequently questioned, “are you in a wedding party, performing for an event, lost a bet…ha ha ha.  I answered all that asked, and eagerly gave them my cards with my website address…whenever they asked “how can I be invited, you guys look soooo nice?”

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 Fortunately, I brought my white sandals as well…because we did have a bit of a trek to our secret destination (…are we there yet? lol)

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Actually, I enjoyed the walk, it did allow me to appreciate just how beautiful Chicago is when the sun begins to set.  The cool breeze of the September evening was perfect for the event.

I must say that we were happy when we arrived at our destination and saw that we were surrounded by so many historical Chicago landmarks!

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The WGN Building, according to Robert L on Yelp, “The offices for the Chicago Tribune and the studios of WGN Radio are housed within the building. The front of the building has rocks cemented into the front from historic places all over the earth including the Great Wall of China. There is even a moon rock cemented in. Gothic style architecture and the history of this building make this another Chicago landmark.

“The Tribune Tower is a neo-Gothic building located at 435 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It is the home of the Chicago Tribune and Tribune Company. WGN Radio broadcasts from the building, with ground-level studios overlooking nearby Pioneer Court and Michigan Avenue. CNN’s Chicago bureau is located in the building. It is listed as a Chicago Landmark and is a contributing property to the Michigan–Wacker Historic District. (Wikipedia.org)”.

 The Monument to Jack Brickhouse,  which was “created by Jerry McKenna and sponsored by the American Brain Tumor Association, was dedicated on North Michigan Avenue just south of the Tribune Tower in 2000.  Etched on the bottom, in brass, is Brickhouse’s catch phrase: “Hey-Hey” (efreak78 on flickr).

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The biggest, brightest jewel in Chicago’s architectural crown belongs not to some glass and steel skyscraper, but to an historic office building with wedding cake flair and a clock tower. The Wrigley Building is actually two buildings joined by a 14th floor skywalk and a street-level arcade. Its gleaming white façade is an icon of the city, even when the quarter million terra cotta tiles are lit in different colors by banks of floodlights (chicagoarchitecture.info)

As, we finally arrived at our secret location, I agreed that Le Dîner en Blanc kept its promise to be prearranged at a beautiful location!…but no time to lollygag and being awed by the surroundings…setup must begin; afterall we did come to Dîner…en Blanc!

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as my sister elegantly arranged the table with our dinnerware, utensils, and decorations…I trotted off to pick up our meal; this was not a secret-we ordered the chicken!

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As we laid out our meals and popped our corks…we were being entertained as if we were visitors at  Château de Versailles court yards in France with jugglers,  clowns, and angels running around with ribbons as if she was a rhythmic gymnast.

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later we danced the night away with more familiar tunes…every one enjoyed dancing…perhaps it was the sparkling wine;)

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As we feast the night away we  enjoyed every morsel of our chef inspired meal…was it the long wait, the bus ride, or the long walk laden with our tables, chairs and other table settings.  I would say not, the meal was delicious and the company (both new and old friends) was delightful as well.

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As we were eating and drinking we decided to maneuver around all of those tables and meet more people, as we did I took my camera and take photos of the beautiful people and comment on their beautiful outfits.  On a separate note, do you know how difficult it is to find a “blanc” outfit after Labor Day.  I once heard someone say that wearing white after Labor Day is a fashion faux pas (French for a slip or blunder in etiquette) .

Since I love to research , I learned that there are several possible school of thought of why this apothegm was based on…

FYI:  Climatic Factor: The first logical reason is that white is a color to be worn in the summer. This is because it reflects sunlight. Dark colors absorb light and in turn make you feel hotter. This same theory can be reversed and can be applied to wearing white in winters. White absorbs the cold and makes you feel colder than what you’d feel in darker shades. So basically, darker shades provide more warmth in winters. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html

Symbolic Factor: Another explanation behind this rule could be symbolic in nature. After Labor Day, the Navy swaps its white uniforms for blue ones. Additionally, the affluent class wore white when they vacationed in the warmer regions during winters. Hence, white was considered the ‘color of leisure’. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html
Cleanliness Factor: White is one color that gets dirty very easily. Winters are usually wet and cold, therefore anything white can get very dirty and will take a lot of time to clean. This is definitely a logical reason, but logic doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with fashion every single time. Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/why-not-to-wear-white-after-labor-day.html

But I met a few ladies that looked white hot in their white/blanc, especially after labor day…take a look at the photos below!

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We met a great  and ever so sweet couple who were our table mates, we laughed and dined all night long.  The couple on the left, were so sweet to pose for me, a perfect stranger.  However, through the enchantment of Dîner en Blanc we are now better acquainted (lol).

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…with lights a glowing into the night we raised our napkins into the air…ahh that is why they specifically asked invitees to bring “cloth napkins”…and not paper (yes cloth made for a more dramatic exhibition when we twirled in the golden lit air!

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at the end of the evening came the long awaited traditions of “sparklers”…no it is not just for kids…

As the night waned away we danced into the night, not so much a star-filled night; but definitely bright white-filled one.

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Every thing sported their blanc  (so appropriately!

FYIThe Dog Days of Summer comes from the the Northern Hemisphere is a period from about July 3 – August 11th.  The name “Dog Days”  comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, was somehow responsible for the hot weather.  Sirius is the brightest star in the Canis Major (Big Dog) Constellation.  Sirius is the brightest star besides the Sun and rises and sets with the sun during the “Dog Days” period, so people believed that it helped contribute to warmer temperatures during this time.

Since I am not into any deity in control of the weather, other than God (who created the earth)., I thank Him for allowing me to be able to attend such a beautiful  event and meeting such beautiful people, and eating such appetizing food.

Also, Thank you to the Chicago Hosts,  James, Roger, Vivian, Lauren, Rebekah, Annette…great job or should I say “merci bons amis” (French: Thank you good friends).  Until we meet again!

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FYI:   Auld Lang Syne” (Scots pronunciation: [ˈɔːl(d) lɑŋˈsəin]: note “s” rather than “z”) is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it as a close to jamborees and other functions.  The song’s Scots title may be translated into English literally as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”,  “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”.  (Wikipedia).

 

Happy New Years!

 

I remember as a young child seeing a cartoon image of an old man with a very white long beard and cane walking next to a curly haired baby wearing a pinned diaper (before disposable diapers LOL).  Even as a child I surmised that the old man symbolized the “old” year that we were leaving, and the baby represented the “new” year that we were approaching!

FYI: “The use of an infant as a symbol of the start of the new cycle that begins with the passage of the year dates back to ancient Greece. The festival of Dionysus, who was the god of wine, song and merriment let us not forget, was a big thing for the Greeks.”  The baby was a symbol and a herald for fertility of the crops. The Egyptians were also fond of holding a ceremony of rebirth that involved the use of a young baby.  In fact, there was a specific ceremonial ritual involving a young man and an older bearded man carrying a baby inside a basket that was discovered on the lid of a sarcophagus that is now on display in a museum (Timothy Sexton).

However, we now know that the New Year is a start of new begins; thus the New Years Resolutions!

According to the Squidoo, the Top Ten Most popular New Year’s Resolution:

  • 1. Stop Smoking
  • 2. Get into a Habit of being Fit
  • 3. Lose Weight – the Battle of the Bulge
  • 4. Enjoy Life More
  • 5. Quit Drinking
  • 6. Organise Yourself – this is one of the keys to reaching your goals
  • 7. Learn Something New
  • 8. Get out of Debt
  • 9. Spend More Time With Family
  • 10. Help People

Basically these are pledges for us to “improve” our lives!  However one that I would add which should be the most important of them all and will undoubtedly lead to THE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT OF YOUR LIFE:

     *Build a closer relationship with God.

FYI: “A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year and new beginnings. People committing themselves to a New Year’s resolution generally plan to do so for the whole following year. This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous.  The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  The Romansbegan each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named” (wikipedia.com).

TIP: we should be weary of how and who we worship…it is surprising how much our celebrations are tainted with pagan symbolism…

RING IN THE NEW YEAR WITH A NEW LOOK…A DEAD RINGER!

The New Years not only brings the beginning of a “new Year”; but it also is the beginning of a new possibilities!  Time to forgive and forget…and remember the fun you had at the New Years Eve’s celebrations you will either host or attend.  However, before you begin, lets begin at the beginning. THE LOOK!  I am not sure why…but BLACK will always be the look for an elegant posh affair.  Whether you wear it long or short–you will be wearing it elegantly.

If you want to try something unique for the new year wear your black with a bold color racing around your waist (left picture), or cinched and draped on one side with a jeweled accent (right picture), these looks may accentuate the smallest part of your body.

Hey it is a celebration afterall, so let’s rock what celebrations are about…sparkle!!  whether you wear glitter, rhinestone, or swarovski crystals…shine the night through!

FYI: Swarovski is the luxury brand name for the range of precision-cut lead crystal glass and related products produced by companies owned by Swarovski AG of Feldmeilen.   These are valuable due to the precision cutting and the beauty of the glass (directhit.com).

Leather and Lace or maybe rock both, like the picture to your left; why not arrive floating in like the Princess you are…and party the night away…you are sure to be treated like like the Queen of the party (as you should be treated)…

Accessories can give you access to a finished “outfit”: One cute look, is to pair a sparkle dress with dark tights…dark tights hide legs that are not yet ready to come out to party but; draws the attention to “the dress”!

 

“MAKE” THE NIGHT A SUCCESS…”MAKEUP” CAN HELP!

Ready to makeup with someone before you enter the New Year in 2013…face them with either a muted made up face like the ones above; or glam it up and “over-the-top” like those looks below!

“EYE” have it!  This New Year’s Eve get a laser focus on your “I”….after all is that not what will be stared at when you get that first kiss of the New Year 2013!

even if you are deliciously chocolate Brown……………..or snow flake White

and what if you are tawny spicy Spanish………………..or delicately porcelain Asian

no matter what your ethnicity…THE EYES HAVE IT!

Nars, Chanel,  Bobbi Brown, or M.A.C wear something to spark up the stroke of midnight…*SpArKle*

Yes…you should even sparkle from your ***Eye Lids to the Finger Tips ****even if it is just for one night, the night New Year’s Eve!

MEN: IT’S TIME TO MAN UP AND DRESS UP!

AS FOR THE MEN…YOU JUST NEED TO WEAR A SUIT…YOUR MOST DASHING…AND A BREATH MINT (may I recommend: spearmint flavored Breathsaver)FOR THAT STROKE OF MIDNIGHT KISS!

Honestly men, if you expect your lady to look the part…you have to compliment her look too.  Whether it is a Black Bow Tie with Black Jacket, a Windsor  Tie, or a Black Bow Tie with White Jacket…wear your look as if you are ready to “bring it” to “ring in” the new year!

…of course men, you should be well groomed too, this means clean shaven or close shaped hair…(nothing wrong with a 12 o’clock shadow on the right face) lol!

Now, that we are ready to celebrate…let’s consider celebrating with “class” and not drinking until you are on your a$&! (lol).  New Years’ is unlike any other holiday; because the real celebration is on the “eve” not so much on the “day” itself.  Therefore, before you attend a party that you plan to drink, be responsible and eat a healthy meal before the festivities.  Although hor dourves may be served; eating a full meal will aid to absorb the alcohol better than a quick nosh (a Yiddish phrase meaning to snack; to eat a little something; to munch, to graze) at the event.

FYI: “Unless you are intending to get really drunk, try drinking one standard drink (can of beer, shot of hard liquor)per hour, which is about the rate at which your liver can keep up. For most people, the most pleasant moment is when the first one kicks in (BAL around .05), and drinking more at that time just moves you away from the “sweet spot.” At one per hour, your blood alcohol level will tend to stay in that range, resulting in more pleasant feeling and less likelihood of doing something stupid. (How to Prevent a Hangover)”

Therefore some TIPS:

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1. Avoid drinking alcohol all together. There are many drinks that you can consume, for example “Sparkling Wines” with 0% alcohol.

2. Do NOT drink excessively! Please drink slowly and combine with water (Have one glass of water after each alcoholic beverage. Doing so keeps you hydrated and can also slow your alcohol consumption).

3. Eat a healthy meal before you go out that evening and even after (Eating food helps to reduce the acetaldehyde in your stomach, and it is the acetaldehyde that is thought to be the main cause of hangovers. Eat a proper meal, not just a greasy snack.

4. Because alcohol removes the potassium out of our bodies we need to replenish it so eat a yellow banana to help cure that “hangover” blues. Also, they are a natural antacid that aid to fight nausea and stomach pains.

5. Honey helps burn off alcohol faster. It can be suggested to eat toast(carbs) with Peanut Butter (protein) and a smear of Honey.

6. Artichokes are believed to help liver digest alcohol. Another “A” vegetable is: Asparagus, which helps a queasy stomach.

7. Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey in green tea.

8. Raw Eggs with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of White Wine Vinegar, with Salt and Pepper for taste (eggs have cysteine which is a chemical that breaks down alcohol).

9. Ginger Teas (especially if you wake up with nausea from the night before).

10. Avoid smoking. Smoking constricts your lungs and decreases the oxygen flow to your blood stream.

11. Take a walk in the fresh air to keep your head clear. This will help you to access more oxygen to help break down the alcohol toxins.

12. Cheese and nuts are good foods to eat because the high fat content slows the absorption of alcohol. When in a bar, eat slowly while you drink.

2013. Please remember that coffee will NOT settle the stomach (Caffeine can also lead to diarrhea and a stuffy head when combined with alcohol)! LAST TIP BEFORE THE NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION……BEFORE YOU LIFT THAT FLUTED GLASS TO AULD LANG SYNE>>>

Be careful with the bubbly. Champagne and sparkling wine can literally go straight to your head. Studies have shown that the effects of bubbles in alcohol increases the delivery of alcohol through your system and cause you to become intoxicated faster.  If you can resist, perhaps leave the champagne for the toast and drink a different alcohol for the rest of the event (wikiHow.com)!

Lastly, my final “tip” before you get too “tipsy” is:  TIP:  Choose light liquors (for example, vodka or gin) over dark liquors (for example, brandy or whiskey).  Light liquors have fewer “congeners” (a minor toxic chemical element of alcohol that gives it its distinctive characteristics), which contribute to hangovers. Overall, alcoholic beverages with more chemicals produce worse hangovers, and red wine is one of the worst culprits. One study found that hangover symptoms varied by the type of alcohol consumed:

**(in order of decreasing severity) brandy, red wine, rum, whiskey, white wine, gin, vodka, and pure ethanol.

The best  advice or   T I P   is   N O T   to drink at all and have a good time with family and friends the natural way…getting drunk on happiness and love for one another, and forget about the past, to live in the present; and look forward to the future!!!

As the song is sung…

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

Chorus: For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp! And surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine; But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn, frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! And gies a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught, for auld lang syne.”

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Later added the lines  attributed to the courtly poet Sir Robert Ayton (1570-1638).

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never thought upon,
The flames of love extinguished,
And freely past and gone?
Is thy kind heart now grown so cold
In that loving breast of thine,
That thou canst never once reflect
On old-long-syne………………………..

I AM STILL NOT SURE WHAT ALL THOSE WORDS MEAN;…BUT I KNOW I WISH EVERYONE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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ARRIBA   ARRIBA   TO   ARUBA!

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Now as we fly over the beautiful skies high above the Caribbeans; we see many small polka-dots that are in fact islands; but where shall we land next…Jamaica, Bahamas (all of those wonderful places we have been before–and loved it!), …now where shall we land our plane next—-yes ARUBA .  What of this apparently beautiful island?

Well according to research, I learned a few facts about Aruba.  First, is that it “is 20 miles island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located  about 7 miles north of the coast of  Venezuela and east of Colombia.  It is referred to as the ABC Islands.

FYI:  Aruba together with Bonaire and Curaçao,  forms a group referred to as the ABC islands of the Leeward Antilles, the southern island chain of the Lesser Antilles.  Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Antilles are commonly referred to as the Netherlands Antilles or the Dutch Antilles.” (wikipedia)

Pictured above is ARUBA in relations to South American, as you can see it is nestled just south of Venezuela and north of  the other Caribbean Islands, much like a small package or gift to us, the passengers and crew members aboard the “Pilot to the World”.

…now above is a closer look of the island of ARUBA; it seems indeed a wonderful place for Tourist such as oursleves looking for something unique…”unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism, as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. It has a land area of about 69.1 square miles and is densely populated with a total of 101,484 inhabitants last counted at the 2010 Census.  Also, what is most beneficial is that it lies outside the hurricane belt!”

FYI: The hurricane belt is an area in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, which is prone to hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 through November 30…with September being the most active and May being the least). So we are travelling in a good time frame:)

Brief facts about our new destination of Aruba:

‘Aruba is widely known for its white sandy beaches on the western and southern coasts of the island, relatively sheltered from fierce ocean currents, and this is where most tourist development has taken place! The northern and eastern coasts, lacking this protection, are considerably more battered by the sea and have been left largely untouched by humans.”  Therefore, we shall spend our time on those western and southern coasts…because safety is enjoyment and it is why we vacation!
Area: 74.52 sq miles (193 km²)
Currency: Aruban florin
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 108,141 (2011) World Bank

What we should know about spending MONEY?: The Aruban Florin AWG

 AWG is the 3 letter currency code representing the currency of Aruba which is commonly known as the “Florin” (pictured above).  “The exchange rate of the Aruban florin has remained steady in recent years at 1.78 florins to 1 US Dollars.   Because of this fact, and due to a large number of American tourists like ourselves, many businesses operate using US dollars instead of florins, especially in the luxury hotel & resort districts.”…and that is where we plan to book our stay.  As my dear mother stated “live like a pauper and vacation like a QUEEN!”.
FYI:  “Pauper” is a very poor person that is living a meager (lacking fullness or richness) life.
           “Queen” is a woman, or something personified as a woman, that is foremost or preeminent in any respect.

What Language may we hear spoken while in Aruba?

Now, when we are in Aruba we should now what languages may be spoken (regardless if we can speak them of not….knowledge is POWER): “On the Caribbean island of Aruba, there are many languages spoken. The official language is Dutch, and schools there require students to learn both English and Spanish.  Although French and, to a lesser extent, Portuguese are also present on the island. However, the mother tongue and primary vernacular of almost all Arubans is a local creole language known as  “Papiamento“, according to  the Government it is an Afro-Portuguese Creole”

TIP: Whenever one reads or hears the word “Afro”  as a prefix of any nationality or country, to my experience, it is used to denote someone with also a African of Black desent (for example Afro-American or Afro-Latina).

FYI: Papiamento is a creole language with roots mainly from Portuguese, and to a lesser extent, from Dutch and English, and originated in the 16th century as a means of communication among slaves and slave drivers.

Selected Aruban Papiamento phrases (to aid as we experience the bueatiful island):

Papiamento Spanish Portuguese Dutch English
Bon dia Buenos días Bom dia Goedemorgen Good morning
Bon tardi Buenas tardes Boa tarde Goedemiddag Good afternoon
Bon nochi Buenas noches Boa noite Goedenacht Good night
Bon bini Bienvenido Bem vindo Welkom Welcome
Danki Gracias Obrigado Dank u/Dank je Thank you
Ayo Adiós Adeus Tot ziens Good-bye
Pasa un bon dia Que tenga un buen día Passa/Tenha um bom dia Fijne dag Have a good day
Con ta bay? ¿Cómo estás?/¿Cómo te va? Como está/vai? Hoe gaat het? How are you?
Mi ta bon (Yo) Estoy bien (Eu) Estou bem Met mij gaat het goed I am fine
Cuant’or tin? Cuanto ora tin? ¿Qué hora es?/¿Qué horas son? Que hora tem?/Que horas são? Hoe laat is het? What time is it?
Mi por papia Papiamento (Yo) Puedo hablar papiamento (Eu) Posso falar papiamento Ik spreek Papiaments I can speak Papiamento
Si Sim Ja Yes
No No Não Nee No
Aruba ta bunita Aruba es bonita Aruba é bonita Aruba is mooi Aruba is beautiful

What should we do while in Aruba!

Now that we are acquainted with a few words and catch phrases that will allow us to get around comfortably as tourists while in Aruba, we can better absorb some of the local culture. Luckily most hotels and restaurants proudly display the local Artworks and Exhibits that appear to have continual expositions throughout the year.  There are weekly outdoor markets showcasing local handicrafts from the local artists.  Many products are proudly labeled “made in Aruba”, and it is included with the edibles and collectables, and handicrafts.  All these items can make interesting souvenirs for our friends and family back home. What is most thrilling are the Carnival theme nights; with their delicious and sumptuous buffets.  We will love that fact that there are a great dinner options for tourists, like ourselves, to get our fill of the variety of the local cuisine.  If we wish, we can try your hand at the popular casinos tables, even the gaming chips reflect various cultural elements (although I strongly recommend doing this only as a form of entertainment and not a means of gaining wealth)…let’s spin the wheel of fortune for fun!

Therefore, lay back relax and take in all of the beauty that is ARUBA! or we can sit back with your friends and instead of taking in a picture show, which we can do anywhere, take in the: mise en scène !

Okay, so now who would not want to go to a beautiful location with its white powered sugary beaches, with crystal blue clear waters?!  As one of the most popular of the Caribbean islands, Aruba is the farthest west of the Dutch “ABC” islands.  Located only 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela.  One thing that becomes apparent is that Aruba is not: a lush, tropical destination. If fact, the desert-like terrain is quite the flat and arid with scattered fields of cacti and aloe vera plants, similar to New Mexico or Arizona.  Strange to share the experience, on the same Caribbean island, of visiting a white powdery sand beach along side turquoise blue colored waters then visit brown grainy sands with sprouting prickly cacti!

FYI:  Cacti (plural of Cactus) are almost exclusively New World plants. This means that they are native only in North America, South America,  and the West Indies.  The Tehuacán Valley of Mexico has one of the richest occurrences of cacti in the world (the earlier name of Mexico City) means “place of the sacred cactus.” The coat of arms of Mexico to this day shows an eagle, snake, and cactus.).

Well just how beautiful is it…have you ever heard the saying…”this looks like it could be a postcard”!?  Well, Aruba is an island for lazy beach days and energetic late party nights, so we took other’s recommendation and made Aruba a land-based vacation (translation not our usual  cruise).  Because of the fact that it is a relatively long flight from the US,  we should allow ourselves to spend at least a five nights’ stay.  This will enable us enough time to relax and enjoy the pleasures of this unique island

So grab your family members,  girlfriends, boyfriends …even your enemy, which will become your best friend after your stay in Aruba; and walk the powdery beaches together (LOL)!

During the dim warm Aruban’s Nights or the sun bright Days any hotel you select, like the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino for example, will sure to be lustrous, relaxed and lush!  Aruba has several beaches, the calmest being Baby Beach, located on the far southern tip of the island near San Nicolas.  The most popular beaches in Aruba are on the Southwest end of the island, where the major hotels are poised.  The most popular beaches are  Palm and Eagle Beaches!

…other points of interest that may be interesting

DIVI DIVI TREE

I am sure that we will get a chance to picnic under those divine divi trees with my Co-Pilots and Passengers:) …seems like a perfect “natural” beach umbrella for a  beautiful island such as Aruba!

Divi Tree in Aruba

Divi Divi trees (like the one pictured above), may be strange to us as tourist but they are quite a common site in Aruba, they grow at a forty-five degree angle because of the wind that constantly blows .  Another interesting observation is that any attempts to plant this tree in other parts of the world have proved futile – then it seems that the Divi Divi is most comfortable in Aruba! .  In Aruba, lost tourists are told to follow the Divi Divi trees, as they always point to the hotels (ask.com). LOL what a sales pitch (lol).

FYI: Divi Divi Tree are trees that behaves like a compass.  It always points in a south-westerly direction because of the trade winds (ask jeeves).

NATURAL POOL

Natural Pool in Aruba, also known as “conchi” or “Cura di Tortuga” these are a uniquely formed from sets of volcanic rocks encircling a small depression.  Aruba Natural Pool is a natural attraction on the eastern side of the island.  The location of the Natural Pool is close to the Quadiriki Caves and therefore is surrounded by some of Aruba’s most rugged terrain…so let’s step carefully!  Also, it will be wise for us to take  plenty of water, sunblock and shoes that are made to get wet.


Along the island’s windward coast we will  find this natural delight with its huge volcanic rocks that are jutting like razors from the water!  Separating the Natural Pool from the rest of the sea, those rocks do not hinder it’s salty flavor, however it does allow the Natural Pools to attain a crystal clear appearance.  As we peek around to find the Natural Pool, which wa in a hidden spot surrounded by rock cliffs; we should feel lucky that  it’s a natural pool that is formed on the edge of the sea, because this makes it protected by the high cliffs and thus is an ideal spot to swim away from the open water.  Also, it’s really a beautiful and romantic getaway.

…if you are “friendly” you will want to take that cooling dip with a group of friends new and old……but if you are getting “frisky” you may want to take that dip when it is quite deserted with a party of 2! (splish splash!).  It is estimated to measure at about 23 feet at its longest stretch and 16 feet at its deepest depth…so if you are not a great swimmer take caution to these facts further it is imperative to know that when the sea is at it’s roughest, forceful waves can dump into the Natural Pool from the sea and render a weak swimmer helpless!  Therefore swim with sense.

NATURAL BRIDGE

The Aruba Natural Bridge was a tourist attraction that was formed naturally out of coral limestone.

Natural Bridge

Though Aruba’s most photographed and largest Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005, the Baby Natural Bridge next to it still thrives as a tourist attraction; additionally the park features rock outcroppings, boulders and crevices between the various formations which create micro-climactic conditions that support unique examples of indigenous flora and fauna; as a result, the park is the habitat of several animal species found only in Aruba including two snake and lizard species; you could easily spend several hours here so consider taking the hiking tour or you can sit down with the Pilot and wonder at one of God’s wonders!   WEBSITE: http://www.arubanationalpark.org

FYI: Flora: The plants of a particular region or period, listed by species and considered as a whole.
Fauna: The animals of a given region or period considered as a whole.

HOOIBERG ARUBA

The Hooiberg is probably one of the first things you’ll notice when our plane lands in Aruba.  Not because this “mountain” is so tall (541 ft.), but because the rest of the island is so flat.  Climbing the Hooiberg  is a nice little adventure, especially for the kiddies (this is one of those times you can tell your children “go climb a rock” and not worry so much that they will actually do it (lol).  There are 561 concrete steps, some with rails, and a few rest stops. When we reach the summit there will be is a log book to sign (so practice your John or Jane Hancock).  From the peak, it is rumored that we will apparently be able to see Venezuela so don’t forget to pack our pair of binoculars!

 

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Hooiberg is a volcanic formation which 165 meters above sea level, and is located almost in the center of the island and can be seen from virtually anywhere.  Named for its shape (hooiberg means “haystack” in Dutch), this 541-foot peak lies inland just past the airport.  It’s the 3rd highest peak on the island.  The biggest tour operators in Aruba is the DePalm Tours , they offer excellent half day tours in a comfortable well conditioned motor coach.  The most popular tour is the Jeep Safari.  We are driven in an open-air jeep along the islands beautiful countryside, bouncing along the desert terrain (get ready to get bounced out the Rock Club ).

FYI: Translated into English as ‘haystack,’ this hill has long been a popular outdoor location for visitors and Arubans ALIKE!

GUADIRIKIRI CAVE ARUBA

The Guadirikiri Cave is located on the east coast of Aruba in Oranjestad.  Although there are several caves in the area, the Guadirikiri Cave is famous for its two chambers that are illuminated by sunlight that shines through holes at the top of the cave.  Be careful of the bats…(doesn’t that second picture look like a bat-image (l0l)…where is the Dark Knight when you need him (lol).

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These caves are likely one of the only attractions in Aruba to be completely overrun with cockroaches.  So for those squeamish about such things, like your Pilot make sure to wear closed-toe shoes for la cucaracha(Spanish for cockroach).  You will not be sorry (yikes).  The combination of ancient history with the natural wonder of these Aruba caves make Guadirikiri an impressive stop on any tour of the Caribbean.  The history behind it is actually and ancient folklore: ” somewhat dubious folk tale relates to a daughter of an Indian chief who fell in love and was imprisoned in the cave as her paramour was not acceptable to her father. Her beloved one was imprisoned nearby, in Huliba Cave (Tunnel of Love), but both lovers managed to meet underground. Both reportedly died in the cave and their spirit vanished into heaven through the holes in the roof of the cave.”

TIP: This folk tale has a ring of authenticity; because we know that there is no such thing as “spirits” left here on earth. The Bible is very plain.  Look at this text:  According to the Bible it reads that: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7

DePALM ISLAND

De Palm Island is Aruba’s only all-inclusive destination at an affordable all-inclusive price. …much to the liking of the Pilot and her crew.  So let us, Snorkel in an underwater paradise rich in spectacular coral formations and colorful fish.

A stunning white coral-sand beach, palm trees, mangroves, a natural pool and pristine turquoise water are just a ferry ride away. De Palm Island offers spectacular coral formations complete with a huge variety of tropical fish including the friendly blue parrotfish.  No worries as they say on the island, all snorkeling equipment and instruction will be provided. The highlight of our De Palm Island trip will definitely be Snuba!  Snuba (SNorkel+scUBA)! Aruba’s most popular underwater activity. Explore the beauty of Aruba’s underwater world in the most convenient way. ‘Go Beyond Snorkeling’ and breathe easily underwater without wearing heavy restrictive scuba diving gear.  After our snuba experience, let’s take advantage of an open bar with snacks. Cabanas and lounge chairs are provided tpp.  Swim, snorkel, or just simply chill!

MALMOK BEACH

Malmok Beach is for the more serious diver amongst our group; not in need of a large sunning beach.  Malmok Beach is a narrow stretch of sand beside shallow, clear waters where  visitors can snorkel among reefs and sunken wrecks. Steps lead down to Boca Catalina Bay, which is small, secluded and perfect for a private swim…which is also perfect for a “honeymoon”.

Read more:  Cheap Honeymoons in Aruba | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_7282744_cheap-honeymoons-aruba.html#ixzz2EDo7nfVq

Powder soft white sand, with a lot of pebbles and stones, and superb swimming / snorkeling in peaceful water….little wonder why Aruba is perfect for not only a Destination Wedding but a sweet honeymoon as well.  Although there are no facilities, the beach huts do however offer shade and escape from the bright sun.  Thankfully it is accessible by car (there’s plenty of parking), taxi, or a 10 minute walk from the last bus stop on Malmok.  Swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing, jet skiing, scuba diving or any other water sport you can think of can be enjoyed on Malmok Beach. Beautiful bays along this white coast line make it a wonderful place for enjoying frolicking, swimming and snorkeling. There are several fish that are active along the shoreline and are a sight to see.   Also, Malmok beach, has a  reef with turtles and other reptiles so crawl onto the beach and enjoy God’s handiwork.  The colorful and exotic fish each can be viewed any time during the entire year and make for a wonderful treat to watch and no longer wonder why it was fun to finding Nemo (lol)!

ARASHI BEACH

Arashi Beach is really the most northern swimming beach on the island, very near the California LighthouseArashi Beach is one of the most photographed beaches in the whole Caribbean, especially during the sunset hours. (www.snorkelinginaruba.com).  Besides that then know the sun setting will lend itself to a beautiful photograph of you on the beach (say cheese!).

This beach has white powder sand.  Recently upgraded with palapas and beach huts for shade, and plenty of parking.  Arashi Beach is one of Aruba’s more secluded stretched of white sand. Although “arashi” means storm in Japanese, the waters are calm, and the swimming and snorkeling some of the island’s best.   One word of warning: because Arashi is at the end of the island, the waves can sweep you further out if you are not careful. Be wary of getting so far out you are over tired. Because it seems to stay quite shallow for quite some distance from the shore, it can be easy to over extend yourself.  SWIM WITH CARE; ALTHOUGH YOU SWIM WITH THE FISHES, YOU ARE NOT A FISH TOO!

EAGLE BEACH

Eagle Beach Aruba was recently named one of the top ten beaches in the world with its white sands and crystalline blue waters!   Miles of white powder sand and friendly surf.  Lots of motorized watersports (jet skis, etc), or just lay out like a crab for the sunning in the sun…ps SUN BLOCK!

Eagle Beach is a beach and neighborhood of Oranjestad, Aruba. The neighborhood is famous for its many low-rise resorts and wide public beach.  It has soft white sand and has been rated one of the best beaches in the world.   The sunsets and views of the crystal-clear waters you will see on Aruba in the Caribbean Islands.  It is one of two beaches in Aruba that allow nudity, the other being Baby Beach (sorry no pictures OR Facebook, myspace, Twitter or posting Instagrams photos please  ( lol) www.wikipedia.com

FYI:  Instagram: It is the hottest iphone startup right now it’s a simple photo-taking and photo-sharing app that has taken over Silicon  Valley and is filling our Twitter feed with fun, cute photographs. (businessinsider.com)

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram-2010-11?op=1#ixzz2Enn9wech

<a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g147249-d150447-Eagle_Beach-Palm_Eagle_Beach_Aruba.html”><img alt=”Photos of Eagle Beach, Palm/Eagle Beach” src=”http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/02/46/72/6e/overview-of-eagle-beach.jpg”/></a><br/>This photo of <a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g147249-d150447-Reviews-Eagle_Beach-Palm_Eagle_Beach_Aruba.html”>Eagle Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor

TAKE A TOUR OR ANY TYPE OF EXCURSION…DON’T BE BORING BECAUSE ARUBA ISN’T….

Aruba is a great place to tour: with Island Tours, Jeep Tours, Sail, Snorkeling and Scuba Tours, and all kinds of Underwater Tours available to you…couressty of De Palm Tour company call 582-4400 or visit then online at www.depalmtours.com  Although you might be tempted to stay on the beaches, be sure to take a tour of the island (drink it all in…)

Ride it by yourself  on a segaway, or three of a kind on a trike or even ride it 6 deep in a jeep…just ride in Aruba (vroom vroom)

 SegaWaying                                                       Trikes  Riding                                     Jeep Tours

FYI:  Segway is a two wheeled electric vehicle that a person rides standing up and controls much like a motorcycle, however there is no foot brake, only a hand break.
FYI: Trike Bike is a three wheel motorized bike “tri” being the operative word meaning 3.  Like a motorcycle but a bit more comfortable and safer.
                         Wind Surfing                                                                    Kite Surfing
Because of the strong trade winds, Aruba is also one of the world’s top windsurfing spots!
TIP:  Which do you prefer as a beginner Wind Surfing vs. Kite Surfing.   Wind surfing: The basic skills can be learned in a few hours, but this depends on sufficient wind. More advanced techniques, such as planing and jumping, can take a long time to master.  and as to Kite surfing you have to learn how to control a power-kite before you’re allowed into the water, but once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll progress faster than in windsurfing and you need less wind to be able to go out.
Scuba Diving Tours in Aruba                                                                         Snorkeling in Aruba
TIP:  Scuba diving is a form of underwater diving in which a diver uses a scuba set or tank to breathe underwater (swimfins are employed to enhance propulsion).  Whereas, Snorkeling (British spelling: snorkelling) is the practice of swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a diving mask, a shaped tube called a snorkel, and usually swimfins as well. In cooler waters, a wetsuit may also be worn. Use of this equipment allows the snorkeler to observe underwater attractions for extended periods of time with relatively little effort.  However both primary appeal is the opportunity to observe underwater life in their natural setting!

THE GOLD MINE RANCH HORSE BACK RIDING TOURS

Have you ever watched one of those ads on television or watch a motion picture where you saw a couple horse riding on a beach?  Well now is your turn…lights, camera…giddy-up!  Visit one of the most popular horse ranches in Aruba!

If you can’t get enough of the the animals try visiting Aruba’s Farms…
Keep your head above it all at an Ostrich Farm in Aruba… or flap your wings to a ….Butterfly Farm in Aruba!
 

OKEANOS SPA

Okeanos Spa at the Aruba Renaissance Resort offers spa treatments to relax and renew. Try a couples massage on the private Renaissance Island…say ahhh that feels so good…and mean it (lol)!

Relax and lay on your tummy or back  at a spa while in Aruba…my suggestion get painted green, after all it’s hip to GO GREEN!
After a DAY of fun, and AFTERNOON of relaxation; do not gamble on your NIGHT try visiting….

CASINO AT THE HYATT REGENCY

Experience Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort & Casino, with luxurious pampering and exquisite touches that enhance every moment of our vacation in paradise.

Aruba’s lively nightlife has earned it a reputation as the Las Vegas of the Caribbean. Many resorts have casinos for gambling, live music, cabaret shows and dance clubs. For a moveable party, Aruba Adventures offers several all-you-can-drink party cruises. The Bon Bini festival in Fort Zoutman is held every Tuesday night year-round. It is a folk event celebrating Aruban music, local cuisine and crafts. Late nights of reveling are another trademark of this party destination.

NIGHT LIFE IS THE BEST LIFE…(let me qualify this by writing stay with a group of friends you know very well)

Tattoo Party Cruise http://www.arubaadventures.com

The Tattoo Party Cruise has a Dj, live music, and great food. They play all kinds of different music genres which includes disco music from the ’70s to Latin music. They sell cheap drinks which cost between $1 and $3 a drink. The Tattoo Party Cruise is a 4 hour cruise which starts at 8 p.m. and lasts until midnight. You start the night off with a buffet dinner, then you can dance on the upper of lower deck to different types of music. There is also a water slide on board, so you can make a nightly splash.

Banana Bus http://www.bananabusaruba.com

The Banana Bus is a fun and exciting bus excursion which drives you to 3 different bars. One of the bars is the famous Carlos N Charlies. The cost to ride the bus and go to the 3 bars include one drink at each of the bars. The Banana Bus picks you up at your hotel and drops you back off at the end of the night.

Blue

Blue is a bar which is located in the lobby of The Renaissance Resort. Along with serving drinks, they serve very light meals. Blue is open daily between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight. This is a great bar to go to where you can enjoy the ambiance.

TIP: Be careful and be safe…all vacations have a factor of risk; but not knowing who you are partying with is reckless…stay with friends throughout your nights!

HUNGER YET…I KNOW I AM; LET’S TRY SOME TRADITIONAL ARUBAN FOODS…

Aruban food is great because of its global infusion of African, Spanish, French, Dutch, Indian, and Chinese cuisine (all my favorite flavors). These traditions were brought from the many homelands of this region’s population. The gastronomy of the island is based on products such as fish and seafood cuisine which are rich, quality and cosmopolitan, where in addition to the typical gastronomy of the island, you can enjoy international cuisine.

Among the typical dishes of the island are the keshi yena, a typical dish consists of seafood (of course we are surrounded by beautiful waters) and plenty of cheese on top, the stoba Kreeft, a stew of lobster, crepes, crab meat, fried fish, fillet of puppy shark, turtle soup and the goat stew, if you want a different menu than fish or seafood.  Also, bati bread, a kind of bun corn and plantains, fried bananas.   Other traditional Aruban cuisine includes dishes with goat meat, stoba – stew pots filled with vegetables that are locally grown – fish and maize. These days, some of the most common ingredients in meals include beef, chicken, rice and fish.  A favorite snack is known as pastechi, a pie that’s been filled with beef or cheese look out below!

Flavorful Beef                                                                   Spiced Chicken

Chicken Roti (Indian flat bread)                    Pastechis, a popular Aruban snack (the turnover).

FYI: Aruba has a highly influenced Caribbean and Spanish cuisine, so finding their version of the empanada was easy. A pastechi is a delicious and economical snack. Very similar in style to the empanada, but with a pie like crust, the pastechi is the simplest introduction to Aruban cuisine.  They remind me of our Honduran pastelitos…hmmm “Pastechis”…”Pastelitos”!

Beef Stew and Beans and Rice         Funchi (is the yellow mound it is a classic dish of cornmeal porridge).

FYI: Funchi: Any food that has a strange name will often appeal to travelers, like me.  Based on corn meal, this is a common dish served as an appetizer. Think of it as Aruban polenta (Polenta is coarsely or finely ground yellow or white maize (cornmeal) used as a foodstuff. It is cooked by boiling to a paste in water or a liquid such as soup stock) ; the corneal is poured and stirred into boiling water seasoned with butter and salt. It is left mushy and served into a mound; almost like a jello-like substance with a rich taste.  Remember the old commercial for Malt O Meal “Hey Mikey, try it you’ll like it”…in this case or may like it! LOL)

Below is a tradition of Aruba called “Pan Bati” courtesy of GiddyUpGo

This is tasty and reminds me of flour flitters from Honduras (except for the vanilla which sweetens it)!

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, then gradually add water until the batter is slightly thicker than pancake batter.
  2. Turn on your pancake griddle, adding a little spray butter to prevent sticking.
  3. Pour the batter on the griddle. When the Pan Bati is a golden color on one side, flip.
  4. Remove from the griddle when the Pan Bati is firm and golden on both sides and keep warm until ready to serve.

Below is a typical meal from an average restaurant in Aruba…the mainstay…fresh seafood!

I hope you love cheese especially Dutch Gouda (Aruba is a Dutch colony afterall) because most of the traditional dishes are smothered with it!!!

Aruban Curry Goat Stew is “the other red meat” lol!

Traditional Aruban cuisine includes dishes with goat meat, stoba – stew pots filled with vegetables that are locally grown – fish and maize. These days, some of the most common ingredients in meals include beef, chicken, rice and fish. A favorite snack is known as pastechi, a pie that’s been filled with beef or cheese. Also, many food chains featuring international foods such as those from Italy and China have become much more popular. Many of the foods in Aruba are imported.  Aruban cuisine draws from the delicacies of countries around the world, including the Netherlands, South America, Europe, the Caribbean, and even from the native people of their own island.

FYI:  Aruba is home to a multicultural population that is reflected in its cuisine.

Aruba’s national dish is Filled Cheese Shells called Keshi Yena. Get the taste in your own kitchen with this recipe.

Keshi Yena (Aruba). Photo by GiddyUpGot

FYI: Keshi Yena: Once again, don’t be fooled by the strange name; this dish is extremely delectable. This is a popular dinner choice with a strong Dutch influence. The infamous Edam cheese is the star center of this dish; baked with either meat or seafood in a brown sauce. It was famously known on the island as a poor man’s dish used as a frugal dish during earlier times

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat. Then add the onions and sauté until they turn a golden brown color.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, except for the cheese.
  3. Butter a baking pan and line it with slices of Gouda. Then pour the chicken mixture on top, and top with the rest of the cheese slices.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, then put it under your broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to start browning the cheese.

Ajaca: Traditional food eaten during Christmas in Aruba, it is made of plantains and stuffed with chicken or beef (Photo:Mourinhospenis.tumblr.com)

Aruba. Christmas traditions around the world is there foods in my country of Honduras it is “tamales” in Aruba there are called “ajaca”.  Regardless of their name what is constant is their deliciousness, wrapped in banana leaf as it was a “gift”!  This is something my mother made for the holidays too!

Kesio: To end the culinary Aruban experience, one must end it in sweet temptation with a taste of Kesio, consider it the Aruban flan. This sweet dish is made from sugar, eggs, vanilla and two types of milk; a perfect delicacy served in many restaurants. Sweethearts in the romantic mood often share this delicious sweet treat in the romantic ambiance of the island spirit.

…with its strong Dutch influence we will find a variety of pastries and goodies for desserts (sweets for the sweet!).

Soenchi

Rum Bread Pudding has that Carribean rich flair…after which try a kiss of Soenchi‘s Aruban Cuisine.

Soenchi are basically Meringue kisses – Local recipes are frequently well-guarded secrets!

Instructions

Ingredients

Soenchi

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • A drop of red or green food coloring
Preparation Directions

Preheat oven to 250°F.

  • Beat until stiff and dry:
  • 1 egg white

Gradually stir in:

  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • A drop of red or green food coloring

Soenchi should be lightly tinted, never boldly colored. Drop by teaspoonfuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about one hour. Permit to cool and serve at once. If neglected, soenchis absorb moisture and become sticky.  After eating these you will love kisses too:)

Simple, yet delicious…bananas-sweet bananas

Banana Na Binja!  Photo by GiddyUpGo  food.com (basically Plantains and brown sugar, butter, port wine and cinnamon).

CHEERS (English)…SALUD (Spanish)…SANTÉ /A LA VOTRE (French)…SALUTE /CIN CIN (Italian)…PROOST (Dutch)…NA  ZDROWIE (Polish)…SKÁL (Islandic)…SEI GESUND (Yiddish)…ΥΓΕΙΑ (Greek)…Å’KÅLÈ MA’LUNA (Hawaiian)…GESONDHEID (Afrikaans)…干杯 /GāN BēI (Chinese [Mandarin])…MABUHAY (Filipino/Tagalog)..לחיים/L’CHAIM (Hebrew)…

As for the typical drink, it is necessary to emphasize the Aruba Ariba cocktail consisting of tequila, banana cream, triple sec, rum, vodka, lemon juice, orange, pineapple, Grenadines and cherry.  But remember my motto: Drink but not until you stink (lol)!

FYI: The Apostle Paul says drunkenness originates from one’s sinful nature (Galatians  5:21). He says Christians are not to be drunk with wine, but rather be “filled  with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Read more at Suite101:  What Does the Bible Say About Drinking? | Suite101 http://suite101.com/article/what-does-the-bible-say-about-drinking-a164414#ixzz2EoSVPOjS
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Aruba Drinks 2

…there are many local drinks that are refreshing and can be served sans the alcohol…yes a”virgin”!

FYI:  sans:[sanz; Fr. sahn]  French word for “without”.

TIP:  non-alcoholic beverage (also known as a virgin drink) is defined in the U.S. as a beverage that contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.

However before you leave all nice and tanned try a Brown Lady…much like the Pilot! (lol)!!  Interestingly, Aruba’s legal drinking age is 18!

                                                Brown Lady
Ingredients (serves 1)
  • 1 oz (2 Tbsp.) Vodka
  • 1 oz (2 Tbsp.) Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1 oz (2 Tbsp.) Ponche Crema
  • 1 oz (2 Tbsp.) Kahlua
  • 2 oz (4 Tbsp.) Coconut Cream
Preparation Directions

Combine all ingredients in blender with a 12 oz. cup of ice and blend till it becomes a cream and serve.

TRADITIONAL  CLOTHING

The traditional clothing in Aruba is not to be worn but to be viewed and awed (unless you have the body for it and then you are stilled awed by the Pilot)!

Aruba’s Miss Universe 2011 National Costumes (Left Photo)…However, we shall dance the dance the dance of the Folks Dancers…so let’s join in to the numerous festivals, celebrations and parties!

TIPS OF THE DAY AND INTERESTING SIDE NOTES

1.  Drinking Water: Aruba’s water meets the highest quality standards of the World Health Organization and is distilled in the world’s second largest desalination plant.

2.  Your cell phone will work There but check on roaming charges.  Contact your local service provider before traveling to Aruba.

3.  To change florins to US dollars, divide florin amount in half and add 10%.  This formula will be especially useful when shopping in supermarkets.

4.  Drinking age is 18.  Gambling age is 18.  Identification may be requested in both cases.

5.  Prescriptions – Be sure to bring all your prescription medicine with you.  Foreign prescriptions cannot be filled in Aruba.  It will be necessary to make an appointment with a house doctor who can provide you with a local prescription for your medicine or an equivalent, if not available here.

6.  Average temperature year-round is in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (about 30 degrees Centigrade).  It is a good idea to bring a sweater or sports jacket for breezy evenings and air-conditioning.

7.  There is daily bus service all along the hotel strip.  Fare is US $ 1.50 / one day or $ 2.30 / round-trip.

8.  Passports is required of U.S. and Canadian citizens.  A departure tax of $34,25
per person is imposed upon departure.

BEST TIP: One -If you can, fly to Aruba mid-week and leave mid-week. Weekends are peak travel times so flights are more difficult to get, and they are more expensive. Also, the airport in Aruba – while very modern – is not large and gets crowded pretty quickly. If you fly there for example on a Wednesday and leave on a Wednesday the crowds will be far fewer and you’ll definitely have a more relaxed time coming to and leaving Aruba. You also might save some money on your airline tickets.

After all that is said and done, don’t you want to lie your well scrubbed body down on soft white sugary and sandy beaches and then dip your carefully manicured toes in turquoise waters?
SO LET’S DO IT, LET US “ARRIBA” TO “ARUBA”…LOSSELY MEANING :

Rise up let’s go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link

FALLING IN LOVE WITH FALL

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Perhaps no one loves the changing of the seasons more than I.  The smell of the crisp leaves burning to an ash from your neighbors’ yard, the crunching of the dried fallen leaves under-foot as you kick-step your way down a winding path that is littered with Autumns’ foliage.  Also, the chill in the air that signals to all, that winter is soon to make its  d’ebut into the year.  As this time comes near many of us query to oneself, “why do we get or are so blessed with this bounty of colors?”  I am sure that most of us have learned while in Sabbath School, that God created the earth and all that is therein… But still how does it happen, through what wonderous of creation and  science.

As I am have learned (and I am sure you did too), in Grammar School your teacher taught you that “leaves make food for the trees”.  Then some kid in class probed “O’kay, but why are leaves green sometimes and change colors later?  Another student analyzed, with the mind of only a 7 year-old could,  and queried, “is it because they have finished feeding the trees?”.   The teacher would give a small grin and tilt her head and responded to us, “not quite; but the leaves that do change colors in the fall, do so because of a chemical called “chlorophyll”.  Then as the teacher peered into our inquisitive faces, she knew she captured our interest, and further taught that “chlorophyll is the pigment that turns the green leaves their green color AND makes food for the trees,  during the Spring and Summer the leaves of trees are able to receive more light because the days are longer; then later chlorophyll begins to disappear;  and during the Fall-when the days become shorter, they get less. light…and this is how we get the other colors:  yellow, brown, orange and red.  Our teacher went on to state that “these colors where always there during the summer; but the green covered them up!  Of course, as a child, I thought that my Teacher, next to my mother, must me the smartest person in the whole world! LOL! 

However, if my small trip down Memory Lane, did not help you; here is a poster I found that may help you understanding why we get these beautiful colors in the Fall or Autumn.

FYI:   “According to Wikipedia, Autumn is is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter, in September (Northern Hemisphere) or March (Southern Hemisphere) when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier…According to United States tradition, autumn runs from the day after Labor Day (i.e. the Tuesday following the first Monday of September) through Thanksgiving (i.e. the fourth Thursday in November), after which the holiday season that demarcate the unofficial beginning of winter begins..”

YKSD Physical Science Chapter 6 Introduction, “How Matter Changes

(ykonline.yksd.com)

Simple right, or not so simple…well to educate you more. now some Hight School stuff, which I shall attempt to make it as simple as possible.  You heard the term “the darker the berry the sweeter the juice, well there is something to that because sweetness means sugar, and sugar means photosynthesis.   Darker leaves and fruits have more sugar and thus more process of photosynthesis.

In photosynthesis there are three distinct phases. These phases include receiving light, converting it into  nutrients and releasing waste products back into the atmosphere.  According to Dictionary .com, photosynthesis is the complex process by which carbon dioxide, water, and certain inorganic salts are converted into carbohydrates by green plants, algae, and certain bacteria, using energy from the sun and chlorophyll.

1.   Receiving Light:  In the first phase of photosynthesis, a plant absorbs ambient light. The amount of light the plant can absorb depends on its  pigmentation; darker colored plants can absorb more light.

Read more:  Explain the Three Stages of Photosynthesis | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7598064_explain-three-stages-photosynthesis.html#ixzz28uqQk5oj

2.  Converting it into nutrients:  In the second phase of photosynthesis, a plant converts absorbed light into  chemical energy.  According to David Clark, professor of Microbiology at Southern Illinois  University, plants facilitate a chemical reaction involving light, soil  nutrients and water during this phase that includes splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

3.  Releasing waste product back into the atmosphere: In the third phase of photosynthesis, a plant takes carbon dioxide, or CO2, from the atmosphere to aid in the chemical reaction.  Light is not necessary for this process, known as CO2 reduction, and  this phase leads to the production of carbohydrates.  The plant releases a  byproduct, oxygen, back into the atmosphere as waste.

FYI:  The chemical process for photosynthesis: 6 CO2 + 6 H20 + (light energy) + C6H1206 +  602

Photosynthesis means “putting together with light.” In photosynthesis, plants  use the energy of the sun, water and carbon dioxide from the air to make their own food, which they use to grow. In the process, they release oxygen, which is  part of the air we breathe in, as well as sugar, which is the plant’s  food.  Photosynthesis is vital for all living things by maintaining the oxygen level of  the atmosphere.   So take a deep breath! (lol)!

Read more:  Explain the Three Stages of Photosynthesis | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7598064_explain-three-stages-photosynthesis.html#ixzz28ur0GIgf

Leaves on plants and trees can’t change color unless they are exposed to light. Choose a tree with large leaves that changes color in the fall, such as maple  place it near a window that receives sunlight then place another similar in an area that does NOT receive sunlight…notice after a week the growth…that is why we should all take another deep breath and be thankful we have trees with leaves.

Autumn leaves

All the science aside, we know that a leaf changing color is part of a chemical reaction.  Above is an example of how a leaf gradually changes its color from Green to Yellow, Orange, and Brown…then falls when dead and at its darkest color.

Varying fall temperatures and precipitation amounts affect the intensity of colors (Kate Smith).

Leaf color chart

FYI:   Leaves of many plants will vary significantly — from gold to orange to crimson — depending upon the ratio of carotenoids to anthocyanins in each leaf.  carotenoids (which produce yellow, orange and brown colors) and anthocyanins (which provide reds and purples) (syracuse.com).

Finally enough about biology, chemistry and all other sciences…lets get to STYLE;  and how it changes as the season changes…is that a science too!  During Fall you may notice certain things falling away as well as the leaves fall to the ground.  The end of summer signals a time to say good-bye to Tank Shirts, Shorts, and Flip-Flops….and hello to Sweaters, Long Pants, and Boots!  The great thing is that you are covered stylish and cute.  Also, time to take care of your skin and hair.

Falling in Love with your inner Fashionista

Fall is a wonderful season but it is a cooler season…therfore you got to get cool with your fashion!  As Fall falls away, we reflect on the season’s harvest of our lives.   As the leaves turns colors so does our wardrobe. The colors of our wardrobe change to deeper tones as well as autumn’s colors change for the season.   This is the time of the year where the root vegetables become more  abundant, with their substantial nourishment to replenish us from a summer of long sunny days and expansive activities.  Now we turn to indoor activities instead of those that relate strictly to outdoors.

Now is the season of our content and comfort…our comfy comfort that is…  Ladies can swaddle themselves in scarves, hug themselves in oversize sweaters, pull-overs and ponchos.

Blend the traditional Fall colors of  Midnight Black, Chocolate Browns, Smokey Grays and Dark deepest Blues with a POP of color to draw visual appear and flair (much like the photograph to your Right).

or…pair a bright colorful corduroy skinny pant with an oatmeal colored bulky Cable Knit Sweater like the one on the Right!

Whether you wear these bold tones with a Corduroy longer maxi skirt or with a Knit Mini with Bright Tights…this is the look to “fall” for…

…word on the street is…that you stay warm; but look hot in the Fall season.  Remember a woman does not have to show cleavage, legs or any kind of skin to be sexy; her self confidence, security in herself, and intelligence allows her to show that and more!  In other words do not confuse “sexy” with “slutty” (lol)…no one needs to see your boob tattoos–keep it under wraps like a gift (lol).

black, blonde, dark, fall 08, fashion, girl

Rock the look of a Cropped Jacket…whether it is corduroy, wool, or  leather… this look can imbue the colors of fall and elongates your torso (now shorties like me can appear leggy) lol!

whether you wear your cropped jacket with a bright skirt, blue denim or with Shorts & Tights, feel free to add accessories that pulls the look together.  For example a knit cap and scarf is not only whether appropriate; but fashion apropos!

So ladies head on out to T J Maxx, Target, Marshalls and The Rack®  and grab a corduroy Cropped Jacket, Dark-wash Pants, snuggly long scarf, and an oversized slouchy handbag…don’t forget a pair of Dark Brown tortoise-shelled pair of shades…now you got the look of Fall!

However, just before Fall, or pre-Fall sometimes called “indian summer”, you may still get away with cute sweaters with scarves,  gloves and hat to boot!  Just remember besides styling, staying warm should be your main objective.  Because smart and intelligent ladies dress warmly and care more about their health and less about having their chest on display—-but you can still do it with flair and pizzaz!

Think you have to be skinny to wear “Skinny Jeans”; don’t Fall for it…but rock it!

Great thing about Fall, if you are like me and not at your desired weight, Fall allows you to cover-up and “hide-out in the open” (lol)

Now, plus-size comes in cute Fall clothing too.  Psst…grab a flared leather skirt for all parties you plan to attend.  These skirts are so “in” and “hip” at the same time and can be paired with virtually any Top, Shirt. or Turtle-neck Sweater.  Lastly, “stand to attention” with the Military look–but rock it in a different color than green while making the other ladies “green with envy” because of your fall stlyle (lol)!

Grab a Fall fashion plaid shirt in several colors (slip on a lace body shaping tee with it to feminize the look)…and buy a sweater that has a modern construction like the one pictured to your Right.

Luckily accessories see no weight (lol)!

Just as there are colorful pops of color in the Fall…I will suggest to let your accessories pop too!

Large oversized Bags, Purses, Handbags  and Clutches are the look for the Fall season, and the reason:…where else can you store your extra tubes of lotions, creams,  lip balms and mittens, ear muffs, scarf and Hand Sanitizer!

Your handbag or purse does not have to be the only thing that POPS; but your footwear can too (wear this Fall looks above on a causal days with skinny jeans or pants).

…Or put your feet in a dressier shoe, one that fully covers your feet or strap on some boots!

…to heel or not to hell, that is the question….I will let you decide.  As for me being 5′ 3″ I need to heel (well a little heel about 2-3 inches of it)

One look that is in vogue are shoe boots…I suggest purchasing those with traction–since afterall…safety is always best!

Fall into an updated makeup look with vibrant & cool colors for the Fall season!

…bright and vibrant colors is beautiful on any and all skin tones and colors…therefore if you are “white” as a Snowflake to dark brown as a Hershey bar…you can rock the POP!

Just a suggestion…if you POP the Lip Color, you can go easy on the cheeks.  Remember the Lips needs to be at the center stage to truly POP!

However, I am an eye person and I know that the “eyes have it”.  Although the “smokey eye” is still in vogue–it is less smokey and has a bit of sparkle for the upcoming season of shine!

When smokes get in your eyes

FYI:   Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. It was sung in the original show by Tamara Drasin. It was originally recorded by Gertrude Niesen, on October 13, 1933. I remember listening to it sung by Nat “King” Cole (performed in 1946).

~~~~~~Evening Look~~~~~~~~~~~Daytime  Look~~~~~~~Shadow & Sm. Liner Brush

Here is step-by-step diagram on how to get that look…

(glam s.c.a.m. beauty).

May I suggest using quality products like “Nars” or “Bobbi  Brown”.  You can find these great Fall colors for a great price at Sephora®!  Using quality brands allow the look to last longer and not absorb so quickly in your skin as the evening goes into night!

If you have almond-shaped eyes…lucky you–if not–time to do make-up tricks to “get it got it”!

TIP the Nail tip with saturated colors of Fall on a nude nail color bed…may I recommend a new brand I found “Essie ®“…loooooooove it!

This look is eye catching yet professional enough that will not offend the sensibility of your supervisor at work…she may even ask you…”where did you get that look?”

Tips for Fall: Don’t let your skin fall away from its summer glow!

As grasses and flowering plants contract, wither and drop their fruits so do we, we become a little dryer, our bodies’ conserve energy, require more and deeper rest.

1. Wear sunscreen every day :  Yes, in the colder seasons like Fall or Winter the sun is still out there; and although you may not be exposing as much to it as you would in summer, the dangers to your skin are still there (Yahoo).  A dermatologist, Dr. Jeanine Downie, says that: “You should be wearing an SPF 30 every day, not only to protect against skin cancer but to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and uneven skin tone.”It is important not to “forget that applying sunscreen once a day is not enough you should reapply every couple of hours! (Perfect Locks)  Also, “Just because you may not be laying on the beach in the Caribbean it doesn’t mean you can forget the sunscreen for the next 6 months. Sunscreen is a daily essential, so don’t set it aside. (about.com Skin Care).

FYI: Despite the lack of sun some of us might be starting to experience, you still need to exercise caution when it comes to protecting your skin from UV rays.  Winter doesn’t necessarily signal a break from sun exposure, especially for those who exercise or work outdoors. UV rays penetrate through clouds and overcast skies, and reflect off waters, cement, sand, and even snow.  It is important to note that some of the most common sites of skin cancer lesions are the areas of the body that endure year round exposure, such as your hands, face, ears, and the left arm of drivers in most countries (some countries it is the right arm like our neighbors across the pond…e.g Great Britain).  Continue using SPF rated products (vashonorganics.com/education).

2. Body Care:  “You will want to find a shower gel that is “soap-free” as well as hydration.  In the Fall and Winter, I like to put away the gels and bring out a creamy body wash. (about.com Skin Care).  Summertime shower gels are fruity and sweet smelling and we love them.  However, the extra alcohol used to give these cleansers an aroma may be detrimental to your fall skin care. In Fall and winter use products that are gentle and without fragrance. For example, milk bath and creamy shower gels the work best during the colder seasons. Celebrate the season with skin care products that contain oatmeal or pumpkin in them (Yahoo).  “Ditch the soap. Fragrant soapy scrubs might feel (and smell) wonderful after a day at the beach, but they leave your skin dry. When Fall arrives, switch to a soap-free hydrating cleanser. It’s time to put away the gels and bring out the creamy body wash

TIP: Avoid baths and showers that are too hot, and cool the water before you get out. Your skin will retain more moisture this way and you won’t go through the temperature shock so much when you get out (beautytipsonline.com).

TIP: A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy (webmed.com/health-beauty).

2.  Exfoliate regularly: The summer sun and chlorine may have left your skin feeling dry and flaky. Start the new season off with a full-body exfoliation session ( A Womans Health Magazine)   According to Dr. Fusco: “A good exfoliating agent will slough off the dull top layers, minimizing wrinkles, acne, and dry spots to reveal new, healthy, glowing skin.” You don’t have to exfoliate everyday- perhaps only 2-4 times a week.  “I think oily based scrubs are perfect for Fall and Winter because you are getting the exfoliating benefits with the extra bonus of hydrating oils. And when it comes to oily scrubs, the choices are endless! (about.com Skin Care).  Also, it will improve your skin as it brings healthier cells to the surface of your skin. Use an oil-based scrub instead of a salt scrub to protect your skin in the fall season. Avoid massaging your skin vigorously when exfoliating your skin (eCellulities.c0m).  It may look odd and gloopy, but an oily scrub is an excellent product to use for sloughing away dead skin cells and tiny bumps on your legs, arms and tushy.

TIP:  Avoid exfoliators with large crystals or chunks, as they are too abrasive. Use products with the tiniest beads possible to successfully exfoliate without destroying the surface of your skin (sheknows.com/beauty-and-style).

TIP:  Another tip to aid in the removal of toxins from the skin this Fall is to use an exfoliating loofah while bathing. Loofahs help to remove dead skin cells that accumulate on the skin’s surface, help to open your pores and can also increase blood circulation, all of which will aid in the faster elimination of toxins exiting through the skin’s surface (vashonorganics.com/education)

FYI:  Harsh soaps full of dyes and fragrance can often strip your skin’s essential oils, leaving your skin dry and cracked (vashonorganics.com/education).

3.   Keep it Moist:  Moisturize EVERYDAY I cannot stress this enough; if you want to keep dry skin at bay, you must hydrate your skin on a daily basis. The best time to apply your lotion is right after you have dried off after your shower or bath. Seal in the moisture that is already been absorbed into your skin ( A Womans Health Magazine).

3.   Switch from lotion to cream. Shower, dry and dress is the summer routine. For good Fall skin care that should change to shower, dry, moisturize and dress. Add plenty of moisture to your body every day (Yahoo) As the air becomes drier, your skin needs a thicker moisturizer. Creams provide a stronger oily barrier, which means they both reduce water loss from the outer layer of skin and provide hydration to this layer of skin at the same time (A Womans Health Magazine).

TIP: When you wash your face with a cream cleanser, you will not have to worry about it stripping the natural oils from your skin (voices.yahoo.com/tips).

4.     What you eat and drink influences the condition of your skin: It is a well-known fact that staying hydrated by drinking water can only do good things for your skin. What you may not know is that adding antioxidants to your skin care and diet will “will help to combat free radical damage, reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and inflammation,” says Dr. Jessica Wu. Eat brightly colored fruits, vegetables, and olive oil and use topical products that contain vitamin A (retinol), vitamin E, vitamin C, and coffeeberry on your skin. (perfect locks)

TIP: When you don’t drink enough water and fluid volume becomes diminished, the ability of the body to remove toxins through urination is also decreased. These toxins must then be eliminated in other ways such as through the skin. The increase in body toxin levels can also cause headaches and fatigue.  However, no matter how much water you drink, some toxins will still try to exit the body through the skin (vashonorganics.com/education)!

I read a great article that I will like to share and it reads: “To promote inner harmony and clear skin, the time of the autumnal equinox is a traditional time to adjust our dietary intake and pursue some form of internal cleansing with herbs, juicing, or modified fasting. Eliminating all sugar, wheat, dairy and fried foods for 2 or 3 weeks is very helpful for decongesting your system and cleansing and will noticeably increase your energy and sense of clarity. Drinking burdock (Arctium lappa) tea, an alterative and liver support, is noted for promoting clear skin. I have found Healthy Skin Tonic or Burdock-Red Root Compound very effective for general support of organs of elimination and lymphatic system cleansing. Taking elder flower (Sambucus nigra) tea helps support the skin’s elimination functions, helpful in preventing or eliminating papules, milia and retained sebum in the fall when we generally perspire less and there is contraction of the tissues. Keeping well hydrated internally and humidifying room air will help prevent the tendency to develop chapped skin and dry, uncomfortable nasal passages. Do keep exercising to keep your system from feeling sluggish – Tai chi or qigong are wonderful for staying energized and fit in the dark months (eco-beauty.com/skin-care-fall-winter).”  For more suggestions see “Autumn Health Tips at ElisonHaas.com website.

Because of the onset of dry Fall and Winter, don’t forget about your lips and skin around your eyes in your fall skin care regimen.  The delicate skin around your eyes can be impacted by Autumn and Winter dryness because they do not produce oil or moisture like the rest of the face, so  make sure you’re using a moisturizing eye treatment cream for the skin around your eyes. (Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6606899)

P.S. Don’t forget the Lips: Use Lip Balm. It’s good to use a lip balm with SPF as it will protect your lip from the sun, wind, and cold. Usually, the lip skin becomes chapped in colder months. By using a lip balm, you can easily avoid dry and chapped lips. “Use a non-petroleum based lip balm for best results (A Womans Health Magazine).

TIP: To remove any unwanted dry skin off of your lips, you can exfoliate them with your toothbrush when you brush your teeth.  In a pinch, add a dab of Vaseline to protect them (beautytipsonline.com).

TIP:  Good ingredients to look for in lip products are jojoba oil, shea butter, avocado oil, and mango oil. These moisturizing lipids can work wonders to keep your lips luscious  (vashonorganic.om/education).

P.S.  Don’t forget your Hands:  Dead give away of the cooler weather are hands with dry cracked cuticles.  And many times your regular hand cream isn’t heavy-duty enough to tackle those super dry cuticles.   But by investing in a cuticle oil,  you can quickly take care of the cracked skin and avoid that painful condition that is so wide-spread in the colder months.

TIP:  Simply apply oil onto your cuticles and rub in. Do this a couple times a week for best protection.  Be proactive in your nail care by apply a drop of cuticle oil to the nail beds and rubbing the oil into the cuticle at least once a week.

FYI: Hands that may have been damaged from UV rays this summer need extra care to stay soft and moist during the dry season .  Your hands also need special attention and specific products because the skin on the hands tend to be thinner than on the rest of your body, and is often exposed to more drying agents.

P.S. S.S.  Don’t Forget your Feet:  Repeat after me, “I will not let my feet go without proper care this Fall and Winter”.  Say it, and mean it.  Your feet are going to be stuck inside your boots and heals for months to come…no more freedom of the flip-flops,  and if you continue taking care of them and exfoliating them on a regular basis, you will have no problem popping back on your sandals when the time comes.

Plus, having nice feet just make you feel good, so grab a foot scrub and brush and keep it in your shower.  My all-time favorite is H2O Plus: Pumice Foot Scrub.  Scrub your feet 1-2 times a week and you will enjoy soft feet that will not  snag your blanket (lol).  Ouchie!

Oh yes Ladies and Gentlemen treat yourself to a Spa Treatment during the Fall, you and your body will thank me!!!  Your body needs to detox, de-stress, and it is deserving (lol)!

During the dry season of the Fall and Winter you may begin to notice not only a drying of your body; but that of your hair as well…and this can lead to shedding which means more hair is Falling out in the Fall.  Therefore you may want to change your Hair Care treatment like you change your products for your skin (afterall the scalp is skin too).  Rock a new look or Update your old look this Fall

…whether you add length for a longer style hitting your back or keeping it simpler with a just past shoulder length…

or even shagging it out to your neck or selecting a chic look shorter pulled back behind the ear

Hair can be used here to accentuate your gorgeous facial features, illuminate your skin color  and make you smile with approval when you look into the mirror!

MEN,  it is the season to PREP for the Fall PREPPY LOOK!

Now there is a look called “Urban Preppy”..it is has traditional tailored construction with a dash of cool.  Clean straight lines are in style…fabric with tweed, wool, corduroy, and leather.

 

Pull out of he back of your closet…or head out to T J Maxx, Marshall, Target or The Rack® purchase a Cotton button-down Shirt or a Cashmere Turtleneck, Wool Argyle Sweater or Chunky Cashmere Cardigan, Dark Wash Denim Trouser or Corduroy Pant,  Tweed or Houndstooth Jacket, and a Houndtooth scarf with a Leather Jacket or  Pea Coat.

The above is an example of the Argyle Pattern.  (Can be displayed in Pullovers and Socks).

Above is an example of the Houndstooth Pattern (Can be displayed in Jackets and Ties)

Above is an example of Tweed (Can be displayed in Coats and Jackets)

Above is an example of Corduroy (Can be displayed in Pants and Jackets)  Don’t forget the gold framed Aviator Shades or the iconic Tortoise-Shell Rayban® sun glasses to put the look in prospective.

Thank you to the influence of television programs/shows like “Mad Men” and Gossip Girls”; because no more sloppy looking sagging jeans that placed mens underwear on display and over-sized white t-shirts.  Now, men are dressing smart and dapper…so bye-bye super baggy & sagging low riding jeans “hello” Skinny or Straight pants.

FYI:   Sagging began in prison, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent suicide and their use as weapons. The style spread through rappers and music videos, from the ghetto to the suburbs and around the world.

Now, it is cool and laid back…and chilled out!  You can take this look from the College Campus to the Board Room!

don on a Driver style cap:                            cap it with a hunting-inspired Scottish Walking Hat

Harris Tweed Ivy Cap - Credit: MensHats.com                            Borsalino Casual Hat - Credit: DelmonicoHatter.com

..why not try on a Wetherby style hat:             or tip your hat with flair with a Fedora:

Still Life Wetherby hat - Credit: StillLifeNYC.com                               

Only men that are not afraid of looking good can pull off these looks…I find it reminiscent of the 1940s…..all the way smooth as jazz!

Fall Time: Things to do in the Fall without it being a season that is a total fail!

1. Read a good book or better yet “the” Good Book!

…no excuse you can now read a book on your tablet or a kindle®

FYI:  Non readers or poor readers often have low opinions of themselves and their abilities.  Feelings of isolation and have low self-esteem can surface.  As we live in an age overflowing with information, reading is the main way to take advantage of it.  “Reading, like no other medium, can transform your life in a flash, and you never know which book, at which time in your life, might be the one that rocks your world and inspires you to grow in ways you never thought possible.”  Also, another benefit of reading is that it  builds your vocabulary from book reading.  Further,  reading gives you an insight into the diversity of ethnicity of people, their customs and their lifestyles. You’ll become more aware about different places and their codes of conduct in those places.—Burke Hedges.

2. Start a Scrapbook or Create a “Vision Board”.

FYI:  Vision Board (similar to the one pictured above) is simply a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It consists of a poster or foam board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become. The purpose of a vision board is to activate the law of attraction to begin to pull things from your external environment that will enable you to realize your dreams (By Tristan Loo).

3. Clean /and/or Organize a room in your house.

FYI:   It is said that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, although this is NOT a direct quote from the Bible.  According to the fourteenth edition of ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable,’ it is an old Hebrew proverb used in the late 2nd century by Rabbi Phinehas ben-Yair. First attested in the United States in the ‘Monthly Anthology and Boston Review’ . The proverb is found in varying forms.”  However, come-on you know that a clutter unkept house is akin to a clutter and unkept mind.  For example in you had a meeting with a lawyer and his or her office was cluttered and disorganized; would you be comfortable with him or her handling your concerns?  I think not.

4. Begin a Work-Out Program and Start Eating Healthier and Drinking more Water.

FYI:  According to studies from the Mayo Clinic ” if you are worried about heart disease? and are  Hoping to prevent high blood pressure? No matter what your current weight, being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good,” cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly, which decreases your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.”.

FYI:   Eat healthy to combat diseases like type 2 diabetes. Obesity is a major risk  factor in this disease. According to the American Diabetes Association’s  website, other complications affiliated with type 2 diabetes are heart disease,  blindness and kidney failure.  Decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes by consuming food and beverages that are  low in sugar. Eliminate food and drinks  made with high-fructose corn syrup. Substitute with herbal tea and water. These  healthy alternatives help lower calories and are refreshing. Also, eat salads,  raw or steamed vegetables, and whole grains.  Most healthy foods have low to no cholesterol. For instance, fresh fruit and  vegetables have zero cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association’s  website, high cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease. Your arteries may  slowly develop a buildup, which narrows the arteries. Narrowed arteries can lead  to a heart attack or stroke. An active digestive system is another reason healthy eating is important. Avoid  constipation by including whole grains, like whole-wheat bread and oatmeal for  fiber, in your daily eating plan. Other high-fiber foods include fresh fruits  and vegetables, as well as beans, such as kidney, black and pinto.

Read more:  Why Is Eating Healthy So Important? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4696584_why-eating-healthy-important.html#ixzz29CPRJEoZ

Being overweight can be an unpleasant and embarrassing experience. Unwanted fat  deposits on the thighs, stomach, and back may leave you feeling self-conscious  and depressed.

FYI:    How much water do you need to drink? At least twenty percent of the water you need comes from the foods you eat. The rest comes from the beverages you drink. Some experts believe you can estimate the amount of water you need by taking your weight in pounds and dividing that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces you may want to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you might want to drink at least 80 ounces of water or other fluids per day. Other factors include amount of physical activity and the climate where you are located.  The lungs, muscles, brain and blood are all composed of water and they must be  properly hydrated to ensure their functioning. Additionally, water is needed to  regulate body temperature.

Read more:  Why People Should Drink More Water | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_6172398_people-should-drink-water.html#ixzz29CKYft9B

Discussing eating and drinking there are certain Foods and Drinks that are very complimentary to the Fall Season.

What is Falling into the Pot in the Fall Season!

Time to warm-up “ike the spy who came in from the cold”… may I suggest a Stew or Soup!!!

FYI:  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1963 Cold War spy novel by British author John le Carré. It has became famous for its portrayal of Western espionage methods.

Is Chili a stew or a Soup?  After doing a little research I discovered that Stews are heartier, thicker, and more flavorful than soups, with so many ingredients introduced; chili would have to be a Stew in my humble opinion.  Therefore, chillin’ with Chili can take off the chill of Fall (lol)!

I must confess after tasting “Turkey” Chili…I will never go back to beef (and of course swine or pig is out of the question).  Add to Turkey Chili, a sprinkle of 3 shredded Cheeses (namely Sharp Cheddar, Parmesan, and  Gruyère), a tablespoon of  finely chopped Scallion Onions, and a dollop of Crème Fraîche.

do not care for that fowl…then try Chicken…

White Chicken Chili Soup Recipe

                                                White Chicken Chili Soup

Ingredients for white chili soup:

1 pound boneless chicken breast

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion diced,

4 garlic cloves diced,

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon anise seed

1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

3 15 ounce cans cannelloni beans

1 cup chicken broth

1 7 ounce can diced green chilis

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup dry white wine

shaved parmesan cheese

chopped cilantro

Instructions for white chili soup: 1. Rinse chicken pieces and remove skin. Chop into 1 inch size pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 2. In a large pan….Saute onion olive oil along with the oregano, cumin, anise seed,and red pepper flakes until slightly softened. 3. Add chicken to the pan and saute for another 5-10 minutes. 4. Drain the juice from the cannelloni beans. Save 1/2 cup of the liquid from the beans. Add this liquid, beans, chicken broth, green chilis, and whipping cream to the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. 5. If desired, top with shaved parmesan and chopped cilantro.

While on one of my vacations I visited France and visited my, then boyfriend’s family, his mother prepared a delicious Soup called French Onion Soup (the best I ever had)!

Yes underneath that crisp French Bread and Cheeses is a savory soup that is riddled with onions and other tasty seasonings..so eat it with a “Fork” on top than use a “Spoon” on bottom!

…and for dessert Fall into a pot of Chocolate Fondue…

FYI:  Fondue is Swiss in origin and is a baked soufflé-like dish of hot liquid in which small pieces of food (in this case fruits, cakes and marshmallows) are cooked or dipped: beef fondue; chocolate fondue.

…and it can be quite romantic too ( yet another method to stay warm in the chilly Fall season=Fondue>>>>>>just kidding I meant Romance)!

Now that we have discussed the Science, Skin Care, Fashion, and Dishes of the Fall season…we know it is a time of “coming to the end” as we will “lose an hour” (you remember daylight saving…fall backward and Spring forward),  we know that when coming to any “end” you should look back in reflection and reevaluate your past actions and decisions as you look forward to what is new!

The Beauty of Fall…allows one to easily fall in love with Fall!

So, as you walk through the Fall leaves, drink in the fresh crisp air, think not of chemistry; but of the wonderous of creation and of our God and His beautiful handiwork…think of Fall!!!!

Fall is a great time to settle back and reflect on your life!

Link

HONDURAS!

ahí los vidrios

Flying over the bluest blue oceans I was wondering where shall we land next; where should our next destination be now?…feeling a little homesick I decided to land in my home country—Honduras!  Afterall, should not the Pilot visit where she first took her scheduled flight!?!  I love Honduras and all the memories of childhood.  Nestled in my mother’s arms I felt the safety love and security which one feels as a child with loving parents.  Therefore there is little wonder why I long to revisit my homeland!  Oh how I hope, it will still be the beautiful land from which I remember as a child?  I hope it will.  As I search for the coordinates, the very name- Honduras- evokes memories of delicious foods, wonderful scenery, and loving family, friends and neighbors–I knew I must make this special visit meaningful.

First some facts about our destination to paradise.  Geographically, Honduras is at the heart of Central America, and is quite unique (other than being the birth place of the Pilot), it has both shores on the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.  Further, attributed to it uniqueness, Honduras has borders with three of its sister countries in Central America: Guatemala and El Salvador to the west, and Nicaragua to the southeast.  Also, it is the most mountainous country in Central America, and yet the only one without any active volcanoes.  Additionally, the Bay Islands of Honduras enjoy a privileged geographic location that puts them on the south-eastern end of the great Meso-American Barrier Reef,  which is the most bio diverse barrier reef in the World!  (travelpedia)

Honduras is home to a wide range of ethnic and indigenous peoples

As you view the old black and white photo pictured below, you can surmise that I do not appear to look like the phenotypical Spaniard.   It is important to learn that Honduras was home to several important indigenous cultures, most notably the Maya.  Although, much of the country was conquered by Spain, which introduced its now predominant language and many of its customs in the sixteenth century. It became independent in 1821 and has been a Republic since the end of Spanish rule. (wikipedia)

FYI: Maya a member of a major pre-Columbian civilization of the Yucatán Peninsula that reached its peak in the 9th century a.d. and produced magnificent ceremonial cities with pyramids, a sophisticated mathematical and calendar system, hieroglyphic writing, and fine sculpture, painting, and ceramics.

Further background of what makes Honduras so special.  During the first millennium, Honduras was inhabited by the Mayan civilization in the western part and other Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures in the rest. Columbus  (yes, “the” Christopher Columbus) first explored the country in 1502, and Honduras became a  Spanish Colony. Honduras, with four other Central American nations, declared its independence from Spain on September 15, 1821 to form a Federation of Central American states. In 1838, Honduras left the federation and became independent.

Over 90% of the seven million people in Honduras are mestizo.  This means that they have a mixed ancestry of Europeans and natives.  There are also 7 minority groups including native tribes and Garifunas, descended from African-Caribbean slaves.  The largest indigenous group is the Lenca tribe, known for their distinctive pottery. Many Honduras call themselves indios, or Indians.

Read more: Honduran Americans – History, The colonial era, The independent republic of honduras http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Honduran-Americans.html#ixzz26vrb7VIB

FYI: a person of racially mixed ancestry, especially, in Latin America, of mixed American Indian and European, usually Spanish or Portuguese, ancestry, or, in the Philippines, of mixed native and foreign ancestry.

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Interesting Basic Facts about our newest destination: HONDURAS

Official Name: República de Honduras
(It was formerly known as “Spanish Honduras” in order to differentiate it from British Honduras, which is now Belize)
Population: 7.5 million
Capital: Tegucigalpa
Area: 112,492 km² (43,433 sq miles)
Currency: Lempira (HNL)
National Holiday: 15th of September
Calling Code: + 504
Time Zone: GMT-6
GDP: Total – US$ 15.288 billion (2010)
GPD: Per Capita – US$ 1,912  (veinte mundos).

Basic facts are important to know when traveling, although you are a “tourist” you do not necessarily want to look and act like a tourist.  No problem since you will be traveling with a catracho!

A “catracho” is a Honduran. The expression comes from Nicaraguans mispronouncing the name of Honduran General Xatruch, who in the 1850s beat back the numerous attempts of a North American adventurer bent on colonizing Central America and turning it into a collection of slave states. His defeat was and continues to be a huge source of pride for Honduras. Well done, amigos! (Hungry Passport).

Now, how shall we navigate throughout this wonderland/homeland I have set down upon?!

It is true that Spanish is the official language of Honduras. Although Spanish is the primary language, English is spoken widely in the North and on the Bay islands of the coast of the Caribbean (and the Bay Island is where we shall be spending much of our time).  (“World Travel Guide”)

Other languages spoken:

  • There are 10 individual languages listed in Honduras. Some of the Amerindian languages include Garifuna, Miskito, Tol and Pech.
  • Bay Islands English– over 10,000 people speak an English-based Creole along the Caribbean shore of Honduras. It shares similarities with Belizean Creole language.
  • Arabic – there is a large Arabic population living in Honduras, most of them are of Palestine descent (over 150,000 inhabitants). They are fully integrated in the country and played an important role in the country’s economic development. Today there are over 40,000 Arabic speakers in the country.
  • Other important immigrant groups that have maintained their language are Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and Armenians.

Spanish dialects and variations:

  • The Spanish spoken in Tegucigalpa is the norm for Honduran Spanish; however this Spanish has many influences from more rural forms of Spanish due to strong migrations to the city.
  • Northern Honduran coastal Spanish has developed with influences from the British (that occupied the surrounding area), local tribes, as well as the large population of people of African descent. In some cases in the north, Spanish is only spoken as a second language.
  • Spanish in the interior of the country has a less pronounced accent. The aspiration of ‘s’ , for example, is less pronounced.
  • Honduras has bilingual (Spanish and English) and even trilingual (Spanish, English, German/Turkish)  schools and numerous universities.

These words are some slang words used in Honduras and therefore may be useful to know.  Some may also be used in neighboring El Salvador and elsewhere.

  • Bolulo – bread roll
  • Trucha or pulpería – corner shop
  • Relajo – mess
  • Jura – police patrol
  • Pisto -money
  • Birria – beer
  • Maje – dude
  • Cipote(a) – kid (male, when it ends with “e”; and female, when it ends with “a”)

With the largest region of tropical rainforest in the Northern Hemisphere, mango groves, beautiful beaches and coral reefs, Honduras has much to offer in natural beauty, other than the Pilot (lol).  Added to that is a rich cultural heritage of both native and Spanish influences, one that can easily see how Honduras is becoming an eco-tourism mecca. Known for being less westernized and commercialized than other Central American countries, like for example Costa Rica, Honduras is attracting those seeking a more authentic travel experience…like what we are seeking to discovery!

FYI: The term westernization means “to influence with ideas, customs, practices, etc., characteristic of the Occident or of the western U.S.”

In part because of the lack of Westernization, it may be more difficult to find eco, sustainable, or community based tours online before you arrive in Honduras.  Often the owners of hotels are able to help find local options…so no need for us to worry.  Below are a few of the different locations we shall visit while our stay in Honduras. (Honduras Wiki).

Since Honduras is a country of diversity,  depending on your tastes you can have a variety of experiences.  All locations below have the 3 lodging options that meet our needs for some of the most popular Honduran destinations: luxury, midrange, and budget.

Honduras is hot and humid almost year-round so bring a large selection of swim wear…and by the way get swimming lessons, if you are not able to swim.   Temperatures vary by altitude rather than season. The average high temperature nationwide is 32°C (90°F) and the average low is 20°C (68°F). Temperatures are coolest in mountain areas.

Where shall we go exactly…with so many choices?!

So, where shall we stay while on our visit, due to the fact that it has so many many choices depending on your taste…:

What is your flavor??…?

Do you want to lay out onto the white crystal-like  Beaches and Coasts located on the – Bay Islands, Cayos Cochinos, Roatan Island (where scuba-diving, coral reefs, fishing is preferred), and the Gulf of Fonseca.

Then when you grown weary of the Beaches, why not tarry in the Cities, Towns, and enjoy the regional folklore – Comayagua, Garifunda Communities, Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, Trujillo  (local customs, museums, music, gastronomy abound).

But if you are open to adventure, thresh through the Lowland and Jungles – Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Cacao Lagoon, or Pico Bonito National Park (if you get a chance please be sure to visit the Parque Nacional Montana de Celaque has one of the highest mountains in Honduras and is home to a beautiful cloud forest. The small town of Gracias is about 6.5 km away from the park entrance….you will thank me).

FYI: A cloud forest is similar to a rainforest, but at high altitudes.

If your brain is what requires  stimulation, visit the Historical Heritage of – Copan, Omoa Fortress.

Lastly in you really want to see “what is up” climb unto the Highlands – Lake Yojoa, Celaque National Park, Ocotepeque (thermal baths, hiking, bird watching called ornithology…).

However our first visit should be the town where I was born, La Ceiba.  Why La Ceiba?…not only was I born there but; La Ceiba is a gateway to the Bay Islands and the Rainforest, also, La Ceiba is well known for its nightlife.

ROATAN  the largest of the three bay islands, Roatan is a short ferry ride from the main land.  The island offers a true Caribbean experience with snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

on my last visit to Roatan, what was most notably were the crystal clear waters…I explained in glee “I see fish people”

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wow, I was glad I got a pretty pedicure…LOL!

COPAN RUINAS Known as Xukpi in the Mayan Empire, Copan Ruinas is a popular tourist attraction in western Honduras. An easy 1 km walk from town brings you to the ruins where you can choose to take an organized tour.  I suggest booking a tour at your hotel or resort (even asking a nice waiter or waitress).

…From gorgeous reefs to verdant rainforest and ancient Mayan ruins, Honduras has awakens the adventure travellers desires. (Imagine Costa Rica, only quieter and cheaper.).  Roatan and Utila are two of the world’s top scuba destinations; so take a lesson before you book one of these excurions.  If you fly right into Roatan and staying on a resort, I wouldn’t hesitate to say you  are totally safe while on vacation; but lets keep it “Pilot smart”, here are a few TIPS:

  • Don’t flash jewelry, cellphones, watches or wallets.
  • Don’t hike alone in remote areas; as the Pilot always suggest Travel in Groups…especially with your friends.

Yes there is so much to do and so many places to visit within your visit…for example here are some of my TOP PICKS:

1.  LITTLE FRENCH KEY:  A private island retreat in Roatan island.  Both eco friendly and mystical, this place is built with kindness to the environment and people in mind, Little French Key is where you get back to your essence. Roatan is an uncommon place to rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually.

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2.  SANDY BAY BEACH (where my dear sweet mother lived as a child) The property is unique to Roatan. Just off the main road to a private beach area. This area is part of the Roatan Marine Park preserve. The reef system parallels the white sand beach of Sandy Bay. The closest swim to a underwater ecological paradise teaming with tropical fish and corals. This area is a quiet tranquil area of Roatan without high end hotels and condos

3. BAY ISLAND UNDERWATER MUSEUM: An awesome snorkeling adventure at the depth of a swimming pool. The Bay Islands Underwater Museum will take you on a guided snorkel tour of one of the most beautiful reefs in the Caribbean and so much more! Discover Mayan artifacts, a Spanish Galleon ship wreck and the Treasure Chest. This is fun for the whole family. The Bay Islands Underwater Museum is an experience you will never forget.

the world’s largest underwater sculpture museum while at the Bay Islands…it is a must see!

*The Bay Islands of Honduras are gems in the Western Caribbean, providing a different culture and scenery to that of the mainland.  The islanders of UtilaRoatan and Guanaja are all proud of their British heritage, and these English speaking islands have become a true favorite for both leisure travellers and diving fans, as well as for investors looking to purchase a piece of paradise to retire in.

4. COXEN HOLE’s FINS AND FLIPPERS is a Private island off of Coxen Hole. snorkeling, beach massage. Shuttle from Roatan cruise pier every 30 minutes.

5. WEST END, Roatan

6. COPÁN one of the most impressive ruins of the Maya civilization, known for the quality of its sculpture

beautiful beaches as well as Hot Springs to sooth the soul and the soles of your feet! lol

You can find good hotels even in small towns if you are willing to pay a bit more (Honduras is not really an expensive country). Nevertheless a visit is worthwhile, especially to the ancient Maya ruins in Copán, the colonial towns of  Gracias and Comayagua, and the fantastic Caribbean Coast.

<a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g292019-d1441401-Fins_n_Flippers-Roatan_Bay_Islands.html”><img alt=”Photos of Fins ‘n Flippers, Roatan” src=”http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/8b/29/8d/the-reef.jpg”/></a><br/>This photo of <a href=”http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g292019-d1441401-Reviews-Fins_n_Flippers-Roatan_Bay_Islands.html”>Fins ‘n Flippers is courtesy of TripAdvisor

6. WEST BAY Roatan has a tranquil tropical island feel…translation easy breezy!

7. UTILA is the smallest of the Caribbean Bay Islands and it is said to offer more inexpensive travel options than Roatan

The world’s second-largest barrier reef runs alongside Utila island, and teems with varied and awe-inspiring marine life (Central America Travel).

Other cities or places to visit …the Hot spots:

  • Tegucigalpa (Spanish pronunciation: [teɣusiˈɣalpa]) — the capital and largest city of Honduras with an international airport.
  • San Pedro Sula — located in the Sula Valley in the northwest corner of the country, this is a major transportation and economic hub.
  • La Ceiba — port city on Caribbean coast with great beaches and daily ferries to the Bay Islands.
  • El Progreso — located at a strategic crossroads where major highways towards Comayagua, San Pedro Sula and Tela all converge.
  • Comayagua — the former capital of the country is today a quiet colonial town with a beautiful cathedral, notable Spanish architecture and an historic town centre.
  • Gracias— a pleasant colonial mountain town; nearby Parque Celaque is home to the highest mountain in Honduras set amongst wonderful cloud forests.
  • Puerto Cortes — the main harbour town on the Caribbean coast.
  • Tela — an old city with a beautiful sandy coastline and is also home to the second largest humid tropical botanical garden for commercial plants in the world.
  • Santa Rosa de Copán — temperate mountain city in the western part of the region, and the nearest place of any size to Copán.

 What shall we eat…lets go local?!

The Honduran “Plato tipico” is the most famous lunch. It consists of rice, beef, fried beans (frijolitos), and fried bananas (tajaditas). If you are lucky, it will also come with chimol, a fresh, non-spicy salsa made of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice.

No,  this is not your ordinary  Pico de Gallo its CHIMOL!  Basically it is like the Mexican  “Pico de Gallo” but: without the the spicy chili and sweetness of fruits. We will typically use it with grilled meats, assada,  but goes well with most any meal!

Say Good morning  or Buenos días Honduran style …with a Baleadas are a Honduran original. A baleada sencilla (simple) consists of a thick flour tortilla filled with fried beans, cheese (queso), and a type of cream similar to sour cream but not sour (crema or mantequilla).  A baleada especial usually also comes with beans and cheese in it also you can sometimes get avocado or even meat (I would urge you to use Beef, Chicken or Turkey…no swine please).

Other choices are tacos and enchiladas, but do not expect them to be like those in Mexico. The tacos are meat rolled in a corn tortilla and deep fried. The enchiladas are a flat fried corn tortilla topped with ground beef, cheese and a red sauce….below is an example of what my mother oft prepared when there was not much in the left…little that we knew we were eating like Princes and Princess…and it was good!

My mother made this for us all the time; she called it  Enchilades (she used ground beef…no pork for her family).

Other mainstays include atól, corn soup (roots in Mayan cuisine. They are a sort of thick drink often eaten with a spoon.);  mondongo; and tamales.  Also, the diet of the Garifuna is based largely  on cassava, a   starchy root that is similar in texture, consistency, and  taste to the  potato that we all know. The Garifuna create combinations of cassava, coconuts,  plantains,  avocado, pineapples,  and meat, sometimes  all in the same stew. A favorite is Machuca, a stew of fried fish and mashed plantains in a coconut base.

Cassava root and cassava boiled and served as a meal. (my mother will utilize this in most soups and stews.

Machuca Stew (Left Picture)….. Atol de elote (is based on fresh corn (elote) and has a wonderfully fresh flavor)

Tamales are a White masa, and Red masa (add achiotoe with the sauce or gravy from your chicken) wrapped in a Banana Leaf with the chicken that you stewed, olives, white potatoes, garbonzo also called chickpeas, white rice, among other ingredients.

Mondongo soup is a tripe soup in a tomato base with corn, plantian, potatoes and yucca.  It is also loaded with local vegetables and home grown spices and seasonings.

Tapado De Pescado, is a traditional stew made from fish or meat, sowly cooked with cocount milk & plantains.

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In Honduras, a “pastelito” is a lunch time favorite to order. Pastelitos consist of a flour or corn tortilla filled with either beef or chicken, as well as potatoes and various spices. They are folded in half and then deep fried (Corn to your left, the filling, and Flour to your right).

The staple of the mestizo Honduran diet is Rice and Beans .  My mother has always enjoyed using chicken as well…con pollo!

TIP: Use coconut milk to stew the rice and beans…this adds a smooth creamy flavor!

Oxtails (tail of an ox or steer) was prepared many times in my home…even today I see this as a special treat…made during the holidays and my birthday!

Another typical meal which my mother prepared quite often was flitters  (this could be eaten as a side dish for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner).

my mother called these “johnny cakes” a bread-like rolls and /or sandwich pockets from South and Central American food called arepas.

Pictured to your right are what my mother called Sweet Banana, the middle Yellow Plantain, then Green Plantains on your left.

Ripe Banana Plantain………….Yellow Plantains……………..Green Plantains (left)

Pictured in the center of the bunch (in the upper center photo) are Yellow Plantains

When you are Honduran an over ripe banana…meant Banana Bread or Plátanos Fritos (Fried ripe plantains) o your right!  When you are poor ecomomically you can actually be rich in resourcefulness; and my mother was a resourceful woman.  Afterall it is said that” necessity is the mother of invention”?!

Coco (Coconut) Cake with Yucca for dessert was a common but savory treat……Banana Cake, on your right  (with a little whip cream to top)

Nances are a fruit that taste tart, yet has a sweet undertone.  In some areas Nance fruit is called “craboo”.

Mango, If you grew up in Honduras hearing the dropping sounds of Mangoes are common and seemed to be quite annoying when I was a child…little did I know, that as an adult in the USA I will craze it so (oh how I long for those sounds of childhood)…!

When there was an important affair in the family during the summer months, my mother prepared a Fruit Basket.  Now this was not any traditional basket like they design at Edible Creations; no my mother bought a melon-baller and tenderly balled out perfectly rounded melons of all kinds (Cantelope, Crenshaw, Honeydew, Santa Claus and Watermelon).  Then she placed all inside an excavated Watermelon; along with Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries. oooooh what a treat!

Tamarind Drink is made from the Tamarind  seed; which can be made into a very refreshing and tasty drink!

Horachata Drink is a drink that is basically soaked rice water with spices such as cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg!  My mother would always place a stick of cinnanon into the drink…afterall she knew a thing or two about presentation!

Pinapple Drink: My mother would soak the rind of the pineapples, after serving the meat of the pineapple, to prepare for us a Sweet Piña Drinks in the Summer ater we played the day away outside.  It was as though I had extra energy to jump rope with my friends:)

 

Fruit Drinkwhen Holiday season arrived my mother would prepare a apecial fruit drink, (with fresh Fruits of various kinds, Seagrams’ Ginger Ale, Sprite and other secrets).  As a child I would drink this as it was water…not quite understanding the time it took to prepare. Just understanding the main ingredient was  her “LOVE“!

my favorite drink of all time is CoCo water….basically it is the juice from the coconut plant

whether it is your normal coconut……………………………. or the “young” coconut

our Lemonades; where actually made of Limeade………….Guayaba Drink (she made it fresh)

Despite their unlovely exterior, the inside is sweet and soft.

According to authoritative internet sources such as Wikipedia, the lychee tree originated in southern China, but grows well in semi-tropical and tropical regions. An added bonus is the nutritional bonanza of a lychee: nine lychee provide 100% of the recommended
daily allowance for Vitamin C, along with a variety of minerals.  If you happen to find some lychee north of the border, I suggest you use a sharp  knife to open the tough exterior, as well as for dislodging the stony pit. The center somewhat resembles an almond, but it is bitter, although edible.  Of  course, if you live in Honduras, the closest thing you will find in the stores  to a sharp good blade is a machete.

What shall we wear…when it is time to celebrate?

     

Traditional Honduran Dress….Mayan Girls in traditional wear…..Traditioal Garifuna “punta” instruments

young children dressed in traditional clothing……Ms Honduras dressed in National Costume (2010)

Honduras Independence Day festivities start early in the morning with marching bands. Each band wears different colors and features cheerleaders. Fiesta Catracha takes place this same day: typical Honduran foods such as beans, tamales, baleadas, cassava with meat, and tortillas are offered.
Important Celebrations

Some of Honduras’ national holidays include Honduras Independence Day on 15 September and Children’s Day or Día del Niño, which is celebrated in homes, schools and churches on 10 September; on this day, children receive presents and have parties similar to Christmas or birthday celebrations. Some neighborhoods have piñatas on the street. Other holidays are Easter,  Mauny Thursday, Good Friday, Day of the Soldier (3 October to celebrate the birth of Franisco Morazán), Christmas, El Dia de Lempira on 20 July, and New Year’s Eve.

Travel Tips

• Purified water is used in big-city hotels and restaurants, but bottled water is definitely recommended for outlying areas for Travel:

• It is not recommended to buy much food in the streets (people who are selling food just by the sidewalk). Remember Honduran food can be spicy too, so be careful if you are not used to it.

• Many travel agencies and different places will tell you that Honduras is a dangerous country concerning illnesses, this is not true. People are just as ill all over Latin America (nothing out of what is normal), just take the necessary precautions.  HIV is a problem in Honduras so be careful as you would in your own country.

• Use caution when traveling alone in Honduras, at night its best to take a radio dispatched taxi no matter what part you’re in.

• Use common sense at night. Foreigners are sometimes robbed on the streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula at night by thieves who stake out areas in front of tourist hotels.

Honduran Americans are a very diverse group. They include those of Spanish,  mixed, Mayan, black Carib, African, Palestinian and Chinese   ancestry, among  many others. They have made important improvements in their own standards  of living, major educational and professional achievements, and important  cultural contributions to American society.  In the future, they must face  the challenges of prejudice from some Americans and overcome a history of  poverty.

Read more: Honduran Americans – History, The colonial era, The independent republic of honduras http://www.everyculture.com/multi/Ha-La/Honduran-Americans.html#ixzz26vq5cCpM

 Miss Universe Honduras 2010 Pictures

Miss Universe Honduras 2010 Kenia Martinez’s Crowning Moment

Miss Honduras 2011, Keilyn Gomez

Remember in order to appreciate life you must enjoy the richness it has to offer…so go lay on a beautiful beach, eat exotic foods, meet new people and enjoy HONDURAS!

If you believe that: DIVERSITY IS A BEAUTIFUL THING…

visit

Honduras!

Link

As I was watching one of my favorite television programs last week, as I was doing my normal channel surfing, I stumbled upon “Bravo’s Top Master Chef“.    This program begins with certain challenges that each Chef/contestant is required to perform.  One of the challenges, that evening was to prepare a “picnic-type 3 meal preparation on one day…that will be served on the very next day.  After much toil and labour the Chefs, along with viewing audience, which included me…discovered that the picnic was in fact a flash mob picnic a la………. Le Dîner en Blanc®  

FYI: Flash Mob: “a group of people mobilized by social media to meet in a public place for the purpose of doing an unusual or entertaining activity of short duration.”

although, I never took French classes in High School or College, it was evident that it translated to “Dinner in White” (I did however spent 3 weeks in Alsace-Lorraine, France oo-la-la).  I have heard of “Black and White parties” before; but this seemed something much more unique and special.  The Diner en Blanc, was held with elegantly dressed men and women in an all white setting; the picnickers set-up their tables with Linen Table Clothes, laid out their Silverware or Flatware (NO plastic cutlery) and placed China Plates with Stemmed Glasses and Goblets in their  correct and impeccable order —not like any picnic that I ever attended.  My picnics have been more in the line of an itchy blanket, beef Hot Dogs,  BBQ Potato Chips and flavored Soda Pops, with paper plates and napkins and plastic sporks (lol)!

FYI: spork (combination of a spoon and fork).

It all seemed quite fun and recherché as the French would say…After learning of this Dinner in White by pockets of conversations from the guests that were in attendance on camera.  I learned that this was a secret event; it began in France, and has now grown to being held in 5 continents!…what is Dinner en Blanc…So, I decided to do my research: a Dinner in White event is where “Thousand of people, dressed all in white, and conducting themselves with the greatest decorum, elegance, and etiquette, all meet for a mass “chic picnic” in a public space.  Over the course of an evening, the diners enhance the function and value of their city’s public space by participating in the unexpected.  Beyond the spectacle and refined elegance of the dinner itself, guests are brought together from diverse backgrounds by a love of beauty and good taste.  Le Dîner en Blanc recalls the elegance and glamour of court society, and diners engage one another knowing they are taking part in a truly magical event.  There are no disruptions: no car traffic, no pedestrian traffic, except for the occasional amazed and astonished looks from passersby at the scene unfolding before them. And we, as they, wonder whether it’s all not a dream…” (dinerenblanc.com).

FYI:  Recherché:  marked by such rare and exquisite quality that it is known only to connoisseurs, affected: marked by excessive refinement or exaggerated importance.

Seems quite fasinating…no?…the answer is YES.  Thank you, François Pasquier (who began this whimsical affair reportedly over 20 years ago), now it has blossomed into a guest list of over 15,000 a year.  Now, due to the growth of the interest and fascination, it has fueled from a spark, to a flame! Though the art of technology  the event may have changed over the years, the principles of this fantastic event have not; Diners continue to gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a high-quality meal with good friends, at the heart of one of a particular city’s most beautiful locations. ”

Something akin to a flash mob for Foodies like me….

CHICAGO (The Daley Plaza)

NEW YORK (Lincoln Center)

PARIS (du Louvre)

SINGAPORE (Art Science Museum)

  

Select an outfit that is stylish, chic & whiteBring a Picnic Basket with elegant foods….Bring a folding table (24-30), 2 folding chairs

 

Pack a white linen table-cloth…………. Silverware, China plates, Stemware: NO plasticware..Set your table accordingly (perfection)

Arrange your table as if you are setting up for Prince and Princess (afterall you are Royal!)

Bring with you Appetizers that are scrumptious mouthful bites of little pieces of delights!

Select Entrées that are bursting with flavor as well as satisfying…to get you through all the evening festivities!

ah ah ah…please do not forget, like any other event there is a finish…bring a Dessert for the deserving!

hopefully there is just room enough to pack a bottle of Sparkling Wine for your toasting…remember NO hard liquor!

So, now you want an invite too!  Well I learned that there are a few rules you must adhere:  I got these rule verbatim from their website so if you do not believe me visit it for yourself…

1.  Seats are allotted on-site in a very specific manner.

2.  In order to participate, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or get on the official websites’ waiting list.

3.  Once confirmed, the presence is mandatory, regardless of weather conditions, as the event is held regardless of weather conditions.

4.  Colour of attire and table setting; white only.

5.  Table setting is symmetrical with men seated on one side and women on the other (Women also have priority on the better view).

6.  Participants arrive and depart at the same time by chartered bus or organized public transportation.

7.  Depart with one’s belongings, leftovers and trash, leaving the place as clean as it was upon arrival.

So, if you think you can adhere to the rules…then go to Macy’s or another high end department store with elegant attire!  Also, according to the website you, as the guest , must bring a few things…

1)   A table, two (blanc/white) chairs.

2)  A picnic basket comprised of quality menu items and a china dinner service including proper stemware and flatware.

3)   Wine or Champagne , if allowed.  Beer and hard alcohol is prohibited.

4)   Participants must wear white and be dressed elegantly.

Now, you know the rules what to bring, what to wear, and

5)  Originality is encouraged as long as it stays stylish and denotes taste.

If you are still in doubt…because after all if you are blessed enough to eek out an invite and you are sure to have HAUTE FUN; then what should you N O T do in order to tag that invite next year.  Here are a few tips I was able to garner:

1.   No t-shirts and sports tops

2. No Sports shoes, gym shoes, or caps (baseball-type)

3. Drink with moderation!!!

4. Bring a white garbage bag for clean up…your place must be clean as it was upon arrival.

sshhh you will only know of the exact location of the event until just before it is scheduled to occur! (hush-hush).

NOTE: Since attendance is mandatory once you are invited…you may run the risk of no other invitation being extended if you do not attend …Therefore if  you are not able to attend GIVE THE INVITE TO ME INSTEAD lol lol..no, no they take a copious attendance.

The organizers of Diner en Blanc main rule is that we should “recall the elegance and glamour of court society.”

FYI: elegance:  el•e•gance: quality and refinement.

FYI: glamour: glam•our: the quality of fascinating, alluring, or attracting, especially by a combination of charm and good looks.

Therefore, if you get that coveted invite, purchased the white attire, packed your elegant dishes, and are now waiting to be notified of the exact locale…remember when you are raising that champagne glass in your grande finale toast “take it all in… and take many fabulous photographs of you and your friends (new and old)! Lastly remember to…

be cool…cool as blanc.

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Where shall we land and visit next, on our virtual adventure…next stop down under in North America!  Los Cabos, Mexico – land of BB  (Beautiful Beaches).    When most of my Co-Pilots jump into their seats next to mine, they know that they can  anticipate a gentle  glide onto some runway into a landing strip to paradise!  After a bit of research I learned that it “is” one of the locales with the most beautifully pristine beaches; yes next destination….

                 Los Cabos, Mexico!

   

¡Venga Conmigo!

Los Cabos is on the Pacific side of Mexico (Los Cabos refers to the area that comprises most of Baja Penisula, an area of Mexico).  Actually, it is located at the southern most tip of the Baja California Peninsula.  The word Los  Cabos. or The Capes, as it is called in the English language, has some of the Best beaches in the world, and thereby has fun & exciting water sports as well.

Imagine jetting through the crystal clear waters in  as you take in the beautiful scenery along Los Cabos!  What makes Los Cabos so special in Mexico,  is it it’s prime location on a map, or the spicy delicious platters of exotic foods, or the romantic Spanish langauge, or the local friendly people dressed in colorful festival clothing always throwing their heads back in an infectious laughter as you listen to toe tapping music in the background… ?  Is it possible that it is all of the above, conspiring into making you not feel like a stranger; but the Guest of Honor in Mexico!

As you can see from th picture of the Map Los Cabo, it is a first stop in a long line of other wonderful possible destinations (Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen),   on the other side of Mexico they are other fun filled getaways too (Mazatlan, Puerto Vallerta, Manzanillo, Ixtapal, and Acapulco) But what is that little red dot at the tip on the other side?  Ahh that is where we are landing next LOS CABOS!!  After much research we have learned that Los Cabos is in the Country of Mexico, the State of Baja California Sur, and the Municipal seat of San Josè del Cabo and right at the resort corridors that lies between the two.

FYI: All Mexican states ar divided into municipalities then they are sub-divided into Burroughs (except Mexico City; that is called a Federal District).

One of the Passengers in the airplane yells out “why Los Cabos, and not any other destination…after all Mexico is a big place ?!”  As I peer out of the Pilot’s window I see that Mexico flanks the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean…that is a lot of waters… and water means beaches…destination>>>>>> FUN!

As we land,  you as the Co-Pilot and other passengers stroll to select which luxury hotels or Resorts & Spas, you plan to check into,  since they are so plentiful in Los Cabos…it can be easy to see that the business of Tourism is one of economical importance  in Mexico.  The sun is bright, the hotels are luxurious, the waters are crystal clear, the food is great and the people are friendly!  (what is there not to fall in love with…)

…and the sports.  I know that Mexico won the gold in the 2012 Olympics games; but their real sport is in the water, not the football field!

 

From swimming with the Dolphins, to encountering some of the finest Snorkeling and Scuba Diving down deep (it is about a 15-25 minutes boat ride from downtown Marina).

TIP:  Jacques Cousteau christened Los Cabos “the world’s aquarium” and anglers called it “the world’s greatest fish trap”.  Today Los Cabos welcomes nearly two million visitors annually.

NOTE:  Jacques Cousteau (1910-19970) was a well known French naval officer, author, and undersea explorer: he developed the Aqua-Lung.

FYI:  Angler: is a person who fishes with a hook and line.

 

 

book an encounter to fish with the sharks (although some have been known to swim with the sharks…I do not recommend it lol)!!

…if swimming is not your strong sport; you can always tour The Arch in Los Cabos.

FYI: El Arco (the Arch) is a distinctive rock formation at the southern tip of Cabo San Lucas a popular area for sailors.

TIP: The Arch is a  known “hangout” for sea lions…you can find some of them “just chillin’ ” on the rocks.

FYI: What is the difference between Sea Lions and Seals?  Well, both seals and sea lions, together with the walrus, are pinnipeds, which means “fin footed” in Latin.  Sea lions (eared seals) have ear flaps, while true seals (earless seals) have  ear holes.  Also, Sea lions have long, smooth whiskers, specialized hairs used for tactile  sensations.  Seals have crimped or beaded whiskers.
Read more:  Difference Between Seals & Sea Lions | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5568331_difference-between-seals-sea-lions.html#ixzz261Qty9VE

The signature Los Cabos landmark is El Arco, a natural stone arch at the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula. The Arch marks the meeting of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, each an unpredictable shade of blue or green. Large swells boil up where the two ocean currents collide. Vistas of The Arch and Cape Saint Luke’s long arm encircling San Lucas Bay dominate the view from miles away. The bay is usually crowded with fishing and sightseeing boats, sailboats, jet skis, yachts, kayaks, and the occasional cruise ship or warship. In the daytime it’s a postcard seascape, at night a panorama of glitter on dark velvet. (cabo Bob’s Lost Cabos).

okay if looking at sea lions do not do it for you…then go Whale Wathing, these beautiful creations can be quite fascinating and allows you to tell your friends that you had “a whale of a time in Los Cabos”  (use the tour group, this way you are with people that are trained,  informed and understand the waters)…Whale Watching Expedition in Los Cabos | Whale Watching Tours in Cabo  (mycabostours.com).

In Los Cabos you can take the kids with…after taking them with you , you can then take them to the WATER PARK in Los Cabos…this is “your” time too after all!

TIP: Some of the waters in Los Cabos may be quite rough for surfing…so a walk to the restaurants after a long day of sightseeing  may be in order…and oh what a treat…

The Pilot has given a menu of some of the most popular and tasty meals you will sure to find in Mexico while having fun in Los Cabos.  Whether you are eating in one of the beautiful hotels or resorts…you can also stroll down the market place and sample the street vendors and local supermarkets.  The foods may look strange, smell unique or different than what you are accustom; but I urge all my passengers  to try different foods and drinks…that is what an adventurer does…commit to bask in the glory of what the world has to offer !

Mexican Dishes are the most popular international foods in the USA!  We know this because when someone has a taste for Spanish foods—you will hear them shout “lets get Mexican!” (discarding that Spanish Foods can also comprise of European, Central and South America).   It is little wonder why all cultures and people enjoys Mexican dishes, since Mexican food continued evolving as new products and techniques were introduced into Mexico from different places. We can find recipes and ingredients originally from South America, the Caribbean and even Africa.  Mexican cooking makes use of  native elements  ( such as peanuts, vanilla, beans, coconuts and tomatoes) to produce tasteful meals.  Although, with the arrival of specialties like lamb, beef, wine, vinegar and cheese from Spain (brought by the conquerors), the Mexican cuisine evolved, by integrating these European elements into their own traditional meals.

The Mexican cuisine eventually met the cuisine from the north, and Tex-Mex food was created. Tex-Mex food is a blend of flavors and recipes from the Mexican, Texan and American cultures. Today we can find several different kinds of foods Mexicans eat, from Enchiladas, Tacos and Burritos to other cuisines; that may not have been created in Mexico but has the flavor, spices, and seasonings of Mexican Flavor!

Forget about Taco Bell,  Spanish cooking can be much healthier with fresh ingredients, with food from organic and local farmers!  To your left is a Fish Taco with frisee lettuce and crispy radishes.   If  yu are not in the mood for healthy alternatives, try the typical tacos you will get at the local street vendors…check out the CARNE ASADA TACOS WITH CILANTRO & ONIONS to your right!!!

Regardless of the foreign elements present in Mexico’s nouvelle cuisine, the main ingredients remain the same recipe after recipe.  You and I may fry chicken…but in Mexico they will not only fry it but stew it in a post of sauces, spices, and seasonings (it is kicked up a notch).  The most common ingredient used in Mexican food is corn.  whether corn is grilled, boiled, fried, or baked it is made delicious with the right seasonings and spices…muy delicioso!!!

The next most popular plant in Mexican cooking  is the  Plantains. 

FYI:  Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa.  Plantains are similar to the common banana in shape and texture, but are wider with lower sugar content. Unlike the banana, considered a fruit or dessert item.  The popular green ones, weedy plants are native to Europe and Asia, but now grow practically anywhere in the world where there is sufficient water.

They come in many varieties and will range from the Green being  starchy and hard to the Yellow being sweet and soft.  Now Plantains can be food almost in most countries, from North America, Central America, South America, Cuba, Africa and India.  If you visit the Caribbean you are sure to find Dishes with these popular food item.  However, the preparation may differ in other countries the basic of peeling remains the same.  See Below for a Tip

TIP:  How to Peel a Plantain…not like your regular Banana (lol)!

  

To peel green plantains, cut a small slice off each end. Cut the plantain in
half across. Use the point of a very sharp knife to make four cuts through the
skin lengthwise down the whole length of the vegetable. Take the point of the
knife and pry up one corner of one of the strips of peel. Pull off the strip. It
may be easier to pull the strip sideways rather than down the length of the
plantain. Repeat with the other strips of peel. If you want to use the peeled
plantains whole, simply cut off the ends and make the four cuts down the whole
length of the vegetable. It may be a little difficult at first, but preserve and
it will become easier. The peeled plantains are ready to be sliced, then fried or baked.

…after all of that peeling, frying and eating  in Los Cabos it is time for dessert…but for that you need a refreshing drink before your eat.  Try a tall cool drink of  HORCHATA .  

In Mexico, horchata is one of the most common aguas frecas and is ladled from large glass jars set in ice (although in some establishments you will find it in a fountain drink that continuously stirs so that patrons do not get that “settled” grainy rice taste).  Horchata is a milky white, sweet beverage that was introduced to Spain by the Moors. The original Spanish version is made with ground tiger nuts and is especially popular in Valencia.  In Latin America, where the tiger nut is not commonly available, pulverized rice is used (what 4 eats).

 

at your right is a typical prepared glass of it with a dusting of cinnamon powder on top for aesthetic.   Mexico-Oaxaca: tinted pink with a dollop of the pureed fruit of the prickly pear cactus (tuna in Spanish).   However, in other countries they can add their own spin to the drink.  For example, in El Salvador: it is flavored with ground morro seed (from the calabash tree gourd) and various spices. Then in Nicaragua and Honduras: flavored with ground jícaro seeds (from the calabash tree gourd) and cocoa.  Other possible additions can be: a squeeze of lime juice, ground nutmeg, ground allspice all can add to the unique flavoring.  Also, you can use evaporated milk, instead of plain milk, for a creamy richer taste (whats4eat).

TIP: Now, you can purchase Horchata de Arroz in a Package that is a Mix…this is simpler than soaking rice in water overnight!  And after all there is so much to do Los Cabos that over night is not a viable option (lol)!

FLAN is another popular Mexican dessert, it is a silky smooth custard dessert that can be enriched with fruits, caramel, or chocolate.

FYI: In Ecuador, especially on the coast, it is very common to find flans made with pineapple, coconut, mango, or other fruit.

Tres leches literally translated “three milks” (called so because it is soaked and soaked in three kinds of milk: Evaporated Milk, Condensed Milk, and Whole Milk.  According to wikipedia there is deputes of the origin of this smooth dessert.  As with all other desserts, there are different variations…Following the same recipe for the cake, but soaking it in a mixture of water, rum or brandy, and sugar, it is called pastel borracho (drunken cake). It is popular throughout Mexico and Central America in this form.  In the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico, it is common both ways but mostly popular using Cream of Coconut instead of Condensed Milk or both.  In my opinion, any way you make it…it is sweet goodness:)

When you are in Los Cabos, or for that matter any part of Mexico. you will find many Bakeries.  In those little neighborhood panadería (bakeries in English), you will discover all kinds of baked sumptuous goodies.  Some you may recognize and others that will be new to you…do not be afraid to try different treats…I know I am not…(lol)!

Sweet Mexican Conchas*************************Bunuelos (Christmas doughnuts)

 

 Empanadas**********************************Churros dipped in chocolate…can you say…YUM!

FYI: An empanada (or empada, in Portuguese) is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries in Western Europe, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia. The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese and the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.   In Brazil and Honduras, a variation of “empanada”, is called “Pastel” and it s a very common day-by-day food, you find a variety of stuffings.  The bolani is an Afghan variant of the empanada.  In Argentine empanadas are often served at parties as a starter or main course, or in festivals. Shops specialize in freshly made empanadas, with many flavors and fillings.  As you can see it is popular throughout various countries like Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Hispanic America, North America, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Haiti. —No wonder everyone loves them…so it is not just me!!!

In the evening or the next morning you may want to try a special drink to ease you into the night or day and not leave you jumpy like coffee or some teas….time to try—-

Mexican Hot Chocolate. journeys back thousands of years to the Mayas, Aztecs and other Central American Indians.  Molinillos are available in most Mexican markets and online (see images below).

Frothing Mexican Hot Chocolate_ForkFingersChopsticks.com

a  cup of water

1 stick cinnamon

5 cups milk

2 (3 oz) disks Mexican chocolate (Ibarra), rough chopped small

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder, optional

2 – 3 dashes cayenne powder, optional

Whipped cream, garnish

Ground cinnamon, garnish

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water and cinnamon stick to boil; continue to boil until liquid turns brown and reduces to about 1/2 cup. Meanwhile, rough chop chocolate,  smaller pieces melt faster.
  2. Reduce heat to medium, add milk and heat. When milk is on the brink of boiling, add the chopped chocolate and use the molinillo or wooden spoon to stir and break up large pieces of chocolate until it is melted. Add vanilla and taste. Add optional ingredients – coco for a deeper chocolate taste and cayenne a dash at a time, for a spicy bite.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick. Use the molinillo to make frothy. Serve hot alone or topped with whipped cream, a sprinkle of ground cinnamon or cayenne.

Variation:

Milk:  Soymilk, almond milk (I prefer soy, it is healthier with less fat).

NOTE:  from the blog entitled: “Fork, Fingers, Chopsticks

this is the suggest retail brand………………………….these are Molnillos (frothers)

The most wanted Mexican candy is the one made for special religious celebrations. The “Calaveras de Azúcar” , these are tiny skulls made of sugar, decorated with brilliant, festive colors. They are placed on the dead people’s graves on the Dia de los Muertos (day of the dead), to commemorate their lives. The decorations are so great that many people consider them art pieces instead of candy!

FYI: “Historically, it has been a fusion of both Judeo-Christian ideologies and a
synthesis of the indigenous-American vision of Death and the hereafter. Such
pre-Columbian cultures that honored and revered their departed loved ones,
beckoning and summoning the return of those bygone spirits who have passed on,
include the Aztecs, Maya-Quiché, Toltecs, Purépechas, Olmecas, Zapotecas,
Tlaxcaltecas, and the Mixtecas, all of México, the Yucatán Peninsula and parts
of Central América.” researched from various articles and all content @ mexico.com.

TIP: “The Bible tells us NOT to honor the dead; they are ‘resting’ or ‘sleeping’ in the grave.  At Ecclesiastes 3:20 the Bible tells us: “All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust”.   This is the purpose of the resurrection that Jesus Christ taught his followers.   Jesus said, at John 5:28, 29– “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment”.  The only death Christians should honor is the Memorial of Jesus Christs’ Death. “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Paul said: “For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) “As often” need not mean many times a year; it can mean annually over a period of many years. If you commemorate an important event, such as a wedding anniversary, or if a nation commemorates an important event in its history, how often is it done? Once a year on the anniversary date. This would also be consistent with the fact that the Lord’s Evening Meal was instituted on the date of the Jewish Passover, a yearly celebration that no longer had to be kept by Jews who had become Christians.”

Now that we have taste the taste in Los Cabos…let us dress the part.  I have always enjoyed “theme” dressing and I love to be daring and different as well.  When I am in a different country or part of the world I like to dabble in the custom outfits.  Of course I want to be respectful and not be annoying and look like a caricature that will insult the locale people of the region.   I still pack touches of the traditional wear!

NOTE:   A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person, animal or object to create an easily identifiable visual likeness and can be offensive, if not treated with sensitivity.

a few youg ladies in traditional wear……………….performers and dancers in more elaborate and ornate wear! Olè

…and of course like any celebration one will show their local pride and wear clothing to “represent”! ¿De dónde es usted? (where are you from?)

Michoacan Traditional Dress

Michoacan Traditional Dress (left)………….Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (right)

Campeche Traditional Dress

Campeche Traditional Dress………………..Charro Suit (generally worn on the Day of the Dead)

¿Qué Hay De Nuevo?

or take a modern approach; but keep it local with a modern  “guayabera” men’s shirt.  wear in long or short sleeved (top off it off with a straw fedora…keeping it  cool)

…and ladies, keep it modern too; with an embroidered brightly colored dress

with the spanish  flavor but still in fashion!!!…or a cute vintage-styled look—very boho chic, if you are feeling less comfortable with the length pull on a pair of cut-off blue jean shorts!

Be sure to bring some loot for all of the souvenirs you plan to bring back to your friends and family back home.  After asking ¿Cuánto Vale/ Cuesta Eso? (how much is this?)..be sure to haggle a bit…everything can be negotiated in Mexico!

Now that we enjoyed the flavor and warmth of Los Cabos with all its fun Activities, delicious Foods,  &  artful Clothing; we have all  gained a sense of the Mexican spirit.   We are ready for our next adventure.  However, we can not yet driven down the runway without our last  Adios Amigos  to our new family in Los Cabos!  All of us are yelling “Mucho Beso y abrazos, (many kisses and hugs) Los Cabos” as we taxi down the runway…until we return again!

¡Hasta luego, Mexico!

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I was recently on a cruise vacation; aboard one of the largest cruise ship of the World…The Allure of the Seas, one of the ports of call, actually the first , was Haiti.  When I first learned that the first port was Haiti I was a bit cautious…had not Haiti experienced a terrible earthquake not long ago; why visit a place of devastation?  I decided to delve in some copious reading for my research.  After viewing a few videos on YouTube and reading a couple of articles suggested by Bing , I gravely learned the following: “The Haitian government reported that an estimated 316,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. The government of Haiti also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.” …then I really had to question;    Is this really  where we were headed on our Western Caribbean tour!

  

                                                                                                                                                                                                Flag  adopted on Febuary 25, 1987

Also, an interesting  fact which I learned was that Haiti’s regional, historical, and ethno-linguistic position is unique for several reasons.  It was the first independent nation of Latin America and the
Caribbean, the first black-led republic in the world!, and the second republic in the Americas when it gained independence in 1804 as part of a successful slave revolution lasting nearly a decade!

* Haiti is a survival country and has overcome many obstacles than natural disastrous calamities…but a few disastrous historical events orchestrated by man, as well.

*  The Spanish exploited the island for its gold.

         *   Europeans brought with them infectious diseases that were new to the Caribbean, to which the indigenous population lacked immunity

  Although one of the greatest historical events also had some devastating events:  “Haiti is the only contemporary nation born of a slave revolt. Historians have estimated the slave rebellion resulted in the deaths of 100,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 white colonists, as well as many free people of color!”

FYI: The United States President Thomas Jefferson continued an arms and goods embargo against the new country. Due to the pressure of southern Congressmen, who feared their slaves being encouraged by the revolt.

Historical factual note is that In February 2010, the eight-page document containing the “official”  Declaration of Independence, which was believed to have been destroyed or thrown out, was found by a Canadian graduate student from Duke University in their Britain’s National Archives. Coming as it did soon after the 2010 devastating earthquake, the discovery is seen by many to be providential.

Note:  Providential:  of, pertaining to, or resulting from divine providence,  opportune, fortunate, or lucky!

Since I love history I thought, yes indeed this would be a great first stop indeed!

After reading further I learned that in Haiti there will be quite a few things to do, according to the TravelAdvisor  the top 5 places for you to visit and enjoy while in Haiti are:

  1. BAAIN BLEU, JACMEL (known for its freshwater pools)

…if you have never taken a refreshing dip in fresh waters there is nothing like it…not the salty ocean, not a chlorinated pool can compare!

2.   THE CITADELLE, CAP-HAITIEN (Historic landmark and point of interest).

…this was an important city during the colonial period. After the slave revolution, it was the first capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri
Christophe.

3.   DRAGON BREATH ZIPLINE, LABEDEE (one of the most daring zip lining experiences).

4.   HAITIAN CULTURE TOUR, LABEDEE

Haitian’s deeply depends on it income from tourist and sells artifacts, stages performs, and sells traditional cuisine!

5. NATIONAL HISTORY PARK, CITADEL, SANS SOUCI, RAMIERS

The Sans-Souci Palace was the royal residence of King Henri. The buildings were among the first to be built after Haiti’s independence from France.

Labadee is a wonderful port to visit, as a first port of call, although there is the aftermath of the earthquake, Labadee is a private resort leased by Royal Caribbean International (RCI), which had generated the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986. It employs 300 locals, allows another 200 to sell their wares on the premises, and pays the Haitian government US$6 per tourist. The resort is connected to Cap-Haïtien by a mountainous dirt and gravel road. RCI has built a pier at Labadie capable of servicing the luxury-class large ships, completed in late 2009.  Attractions include a Haitian market, numerous beaches, watersports, a water-oriented playground, and the popular zip-line.

…also Labadee offers its cruisers free buffet meals and a fresh beverages while onshore (unlike the other ports of call) and shopping in their local courtyard.

Haitian Cuisine  Situated on the island of Hispanola in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean, Haiti’s cuisine is immersed in different cultural influences that are unique to the region.  With its rich history that includes French, Spanish, African and American elements, this western section of Hispanola contains a unique culinary world that remains distinctively Haitian.

Fresh fried fish of the seas!………………………………………Goat with Peppers and Spices.

Frying Plantains

It is “national dish” is the du riz a pois or rice & beans…Of course smashed fried plantains.

Stickky Toffee Pudding for dessert  *(add pralines)…authentic traditional Ginger Ale

This classic Haitian condiment can be found on every table, sometimes even when there isn’t a table, the jar to your right is Picklese (a.k.a. Pikliz). The liquid is used as a hot sauce; in other dishes the thinly sliced vegetables are a sort of slaw/pickle condiment for meat or vegetable preparations.

Soup Joumou is a traditional soup very popular and native to Haiti, traditionally served on New Year’s day in celebration of the country’s independence. On January 1, 1804, newly freed  slaves consumed the once forbidden dish by their masters after running the French off the island. Soup Joumou is a vivid soup made from butternut squash or pumpkin and always contain meats (beef or pork…I would strongly suggest beef ), hearty autumn veggies, such as potato, celery, parsley, carrots, onions, etc…

It is also a tradition for family members and friends to exchange a bowl of this delicious soup on New Year’s day to show appreciation.

Certain other the locations’  tradition:  tips to keep in mind.   Do not be the Ugly American.

FYI: The term “Ugly American is a stereotypical representation of an American tourist as a brash and insensitive philistine; from a title of a novel (1958) by William Lederer and Eugene Burdick.

* It is consider rude not to thank the bus or taxi driver

* Hats must be taken off when entering a house.

* Passing between two people talking is considered very rude.

* Haitians expect haggle when making a purchase.

* Man always shake hands on meeting and departing. Men and women, women and women kiss on the cheeks.

* Visitors to a household, never leave empty-handed, or without drinking, coffee or tea.

* When entering a yard, Haitians shout Onè “Honor” and the host is expected to reply respè “Respect”

BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON TO VISIT HAITI AND BUY ARTIFACTS, FOOD, AND DRINK ; IS TO PLACE MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY TO THE THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST…

THEREFORE DO NOT HAVE ANY HESITATIONS AND HATE ON HAITI! SOMEONE OVER THERE IS WAITING TO WELCOME YOU IN…!!

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Hawaii is typically recognized by its eight main islands: Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe. Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Niʻihau.

There are 8 islands that consist of what constitutes the Hawaiian Islands (located in the North Pacific Ocean):

1.   Kaui: From the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon, Kauai will enchant and rejuvenate your senses.

2.   Oahu: Home to the majority of Hawaii’s population.  Oahu offers amazing attractions and a warmth of lively activities from entertainment and historic sites.

3.   Molokai: Visit Molokai and travel to an island steeped in Hawaiian tradition and surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty.

4.   Lanai:  Lanai is a romantic getaway full of untouched tranquility where you will find secluded resorts and off the beaten path attraction.

5.   Maui: From it heavenly beaches to its scenic wonders Maui is a favorite Hawaiian destination for romance, spontaneity and fun.

6.   Kaho’olawe:  The only inhabited island of the Hawaiian islands.

7.   Hawaiian Island:   Also known as the Big Island.  It provides a cast canvas to discover a variety of inspiration, natural wonders, including an active volcano.

8.   Midway:  Is an incorporated territory of the United States (meaning it is controlled by the United States; but are “not” part of the United States).

the state of Hawaii recognizes 137 “islands” in the state, which also includes the Midway Atoll.   An island in this sense may also include much smaller and typically uninhabited islets, rocks, coral reefs, and atolls. For that reason, this article lists 152 separate islands (but also names smaller island chains such as the French Frigate Shoals, which includes 13 islands of its own). Some of these are too small to appear on maps, and others, such as Maro Reef, only appear above the water’s surface during times of low tide. Others, such as Shark and Skate islands, have completely eroded away. The majority of the Hawaiian Islands are uninhabited; Niʻihau is the westernmost island with a permanent population. All the islands west of Niʻihau—those categorized as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands—are unpopulated and recently incorporated into the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

FYI:  Hawaii is one of two states that do not observe daylight saving time, the other being  Arizona. Hawaii is also one of two states that are not in the  Contiguous United States, the other being Alaska.  Now a few facts about the Great State of Hawaii:

*The population of Hawai’i is 1,360,301 (taken in 2010).

*The length of Hawai’i is 1,522 miles (2,450 km).

*The Capital of Hawai’i is Honolulu (it is also the largest city in Hawai’i.

*The state flag of Hawai’i is: 

What traditional clothing to Wear while in Hawaii…

…if you are FEMALES AND MALES:

                          Day Time Wear                      Evening Wear                         Beach Wear

...or iF you are a couple---why not dress in the same print...IT CAN BE ENDEARING!!!

What to Say when you are in Hawaii…

  WORD/PHRASE:                       MEANING:

1.    A hui hou                                                    Till we meet again

2.   ‘Ae                                                                 Yes

3.   Akua                                                              God

4.   Aloha                                                            Love, affection; greeting, salutation; Hello! Good-bye!

5.  Aloha au ia ‘oe                                             I love you

6.  Hoaloha                                                        Friend

7.   Kanikapila                                                   Musical jam session

8.   Lei                                                                 A necklace of flowers, leaves, shells, feathers, given as a symbol of affection;

9.   Mahalo                                                         Thank You

10. Pehea ‘oe?                                                    How are you?

What is there to Do while in Hawaii…

okay…now for the fun part of Hawai’i…enough of the facts now for the FUN!

If water is your sport…than you are in for a treat or rather a feat (lol)

Water sync paddling &quot;Waikiki&quot; (Bobby Duncan Photography) Tags: ocean beach water fun hawaii women paradise waves waikiki oahu board tan paddle bikini tropical twopiece 2011 paddleboard hulagrill tropicalbreeze

Water Surfing                                                                                         Paddle Boarding

Wind Surfing                                                                                         Outrigger Canoeing

Jet Skiing                                                                                                 Water Skiing

ROMANCE      IN   AND    OUT     OF THE WATER!

What is there to Eat while in Hawaii…

Popular Hawaiian Dishes

Clockwise from top: Lomi Lomi Salmon, Tuna Poke, and Chicken Char Siu

Lomi Lomi Salmon The popular luau dish is named for the Hawaiian words for rub, massage, or knead. Traditionally, the salt is rubbed onto  he salmon, and the salmon, onions, and tomato are then massaged together with your hands. We opted for a tidier preparation.  Soaking the diced white onion mellows the flavor by taming its sharp bite.

Tuna Poke In this sushi-like dish, raw tuna is marinated in soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil, and served atop cucumber slices as a finger food. Be sure to use sushi-grade tuna, as the poke isn’t “cooked” with citrus juices as in seviche.

Poi This Hawaiian national dish is made from taro root, a starchy tuber early Hawaiians brought with them from Polynesia.  Poi  is considered a traditional Hawaiian food because it was eaten before the cuisine was influenced by the Western world. Taro is boiled, peeled, and pounded into a paste (the white or pink flesh often turns purple when cooked).

   

This is the old-style haupia, and many in             Malasada, egg-sized balls of yeast dough that
Hawaii still make it from scratch like this.             are deep fried in oil and coated with sugar.

FYI: Haupia is a staple dessert of luau.
It  is creamy and rich like pudding but firm enough to make in a mold, like
jello. For a luau, the haupia is usually poured into large rectangle pans and
then cut into squares and served.

FYI:   lu·au:  /luˈaʊ, ˈluaʊ/ Show Spelled[loo-ou, loo-ou] noun

1. a feast of Hawaiian food, usually held outdoors and usually accompanied by Hawaiian entertainment.

2. a cooked dish of taro leaves, usually prepared with coconut cream and octopus or chicken.

On my very first visit to the beautiful state of Hawaii…

I had this delicious frozen famous Hawaiian treat!

What is there to Drink while in Hawaii…all these drinks can be consumed as “virgin”!

                  Mai Tai                                   Blue Hawaiian                     Hawaiian LavaFlow  

Bacardi light rum                                1 oz light rum                       1 oz light rum
Amber Curacao                                    1 oz blue Curacao                1 oz Malibu Rum
Amaretto                                               1 oz cream of coconut,        2 oz Frozen Strawberries
two limes                                               such as Coco Lopez             2 oz Coconut Cream
splash of grenadine                            2 oz pineapple juice             2 oz unsweetened Pineapple Juice

jigger of passion fruit puree & Pineapple juice         * pineapple & cherries for garnish

On a personal note, I would suggest that all of the above beverages be drunk without any type of alcohol, spirits, or strong liquor. I truly believe that one can enjoy themselves without the use of strong drink.  The best times of your life, including my adventures have been without the use of drinking!

* “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
Proverbs 20:1-3   (basically I believe in MODERATION…a drink here and there is fine; but not until you are a Drunk…it’s just not cool)

No matter which island you decide to visit or how you plan to dress, speak, eat or drink…just remember to enjoy yourself and your fellow travel mates, and the friendly people of Hawai’i!

and be sure to shot

A L O H A !