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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 04/17/12

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SNOW WHITE COCOA RECIPE!

This recipe comes from www.happyhomefairy.com .  Who doesn't like a new hot chocolate recipe.  On a cold day, there is nothing better on a cold night!

Snow Cocoa





This is one of my FAVORITE drinks to make during the winter time! EVERYONE goes nuts over it! In fact, our women’s ministry at church just did a big Christmas event and we served this delicious-ness and so many people have asked for the recipe I figured I’d better blog about it!
But, I have to tell you. I am so bad at remembering to take pictures. I even made this drink the other night for our Christmas caroling outing and I forgot to snap a shot of it.
So I borrowed this pic of Hot White Chocolate Cocoa from The Food Channel – just so you could get a little visual. :-) If you click the picture, it will take you to their recipe for Hot White Chocolate Cocoa.
My recipe is different – and I love that it’s called Snow Cocoa. Very fitting for this time of year!
Snow Cocoa
Ingredients -
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 6 cups milk (I usually use whole milk or 2%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz pkge white chocolate chips (try to use Ghiradelli if you can – YUM!)
Directions -
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Heat on low for 2-2 1/2 hours or until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot.
  3. Stir well to blend.
  4. Enjoy from a Snowman mug on a chilly day.





Click the image to find out how to make this adorable mug!
Happy Snow Cocoa-ing! :-)

GHOST TOWNS THAT STILL EXIST, BUT ONLY FOR ITS RESIDENTS, THE GHOSTS THEMSELVES!!!

    A Ghost Town is a place that no longer exists. For some reason, and many times unexplained reasons, the people of the town leave and never return. The town is left to rot and be forgotten. But, a lot of these places allow you t come and visit, to step on the land that is no longer wanted, and to learn the mysteries behind their disappearances. Here is a list of some of the best Ghost Towns in the United States.

Roanoke Island, North Carolina

    The Lost Colony. Everyone knows that the first settlers in the new world created colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth, but there was also a colony on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. History tells of a woman, named Virginia Dare, who settled there with her family. Sir Walter Raleigh had led ships there. It would be the first settlement on American soil, but it was short lived.
    That's because everyone disappeared!
    To this day, scientists and historians have given answers to what happened to the people of Roanoke, but none can say for certain that their answer is the correct one. It is as if the people just vanished.
    Visitors to Fort Raleigh (the only thing the settlers left behind) ca walk the area and learn about Virginia Dare and her family. Sir Walter Raleigh and his plans for the new world, Native American tribes in the area, and you can speculate on the disappearance of an entire town.


Centralia, Pennsylvania



   Centralia, Pennsylvania. I can give you one very good reason to visit the abandoned ghost town; Silent Hill. Centralia, Pennsylvania was a prosperous mining town until 1962 when a mine fire got out of control. It created sink holes that apparently still burn today. The damage and the danger forced people to leave the town and it became a ghost town.
    Silent Hill, the movie, was based on Centralia, Pennsylvania. The town of Silent Hill was destroyed because of a mine fire. The town is covered in fog and falling ash. The video games and the movie are wonderful works of horror and seeing the town that inspired the film of Halloween, would be perfect.
    You can take a drive through Centralia, and stop and walk around. There are no tourist sights, but in some ways, that makes it better.





Bodie, California



   Bodie, California. In the 1800's Bodie, California was a town of ill repute. The founder, having struck gold, built the town and it grew. It is said that the run of gold and alcohol was deadly for the townspeople and they were always getting killed. It is now a rubble of buildings barely standing.
    But, don't forget to look out for ghosts. There are stories of a maid in the Cain house who committed suicide and still haunts the place. And, of course, plenty of strange sounds and noises.
    You can visit Bodie and explore the mess that it is now. It is a park now, and preserved for tourists.


Bannack, Montana



    Bannack, Montana. Bannack was another mining town that turned to dust by the 1940's. Like Bodie, the old town has been turned into a State Park for visitors. An added bonus is that area is supposedly haunted. A vigilante named Henry Plummer, who killed hundreds of people, reportedly haunts the town. And a young girl who drowned is often seen.
    You can visit Bannack and explore the building that have been preserved. Just watch out for Henry Plummer!



St. Elmo, Colorado



   St. Elmo, Colorado. Yet another mining town turned ghost town. Silver and gold abounded and St. Elmo came to life. Trains came in, bringing goods, but by 1922 the last train left. There was no one left in St. Elmo.
    That is except the ghosts. All the typical scary sounds and happenings have been reported here. From crying children, to items being placed where they shouldn't be. Doesn't make it any less interesting though. If anything, those things are more likely to happen to you when you visit, than seeing an actual ghost. Makes the trip more exciting that way.
    You can visit St. Elmo anytime you want. Pass through by car or stop and walk. There are many sights besides hoping for ghosts, trails to hike and mountains to climb.




Tombstone, Arizona



   Tombstone, Arizona. Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral are famous parts of Tombstone's history. Considered one of the deadliest places to live, Tombstone was known for its ruthlessness. Gangs roamed the streets and killed at will. Everybody was probably drunk.
    Tombstone isn't a ghost town per se, because the people turned it into a tourism spot. However, it does look like one. The buildings have been preserved as they once were, so it's like walking into the old west. Visitors can walk around and explore. The town's saloon plays music for dancing, and you can even stay in town. If you dare. Because Tombstone is also haunted. The OK Corral is haunted by ghosts, and it is said the streets are the most haunted. You can see a woman wandering the streets, and hear gunshots in the night.


Deadwood, South Dakota



   Deadwood, South Dakota. The home of Wild Bil Hickok and Calamity Jane. Can't seem to escape the old west towns. They've seemed the most likely to disappear once the gold run out. At least the ghosts stick around for your enjoyment.
    Like the others, Deadwood flowed with silver and gold and prospered for years. Then it died. It is now a National Historical sight for you to visit. However, unlike the other mining towns, Deadwood has preserved its history but also added to the commercialism by putting in a casino.
    For the ghosts, go to the Bullock Hotel. It is considered one of the most haunted buildings in the world. The owner still haunts the place, and has been seen or heard numerous times over the years. From voices, to the shower turning on, to dishes smashing, to electronics turning on by themselves. There is a tour of the hotel, or you could just spend a night there and see what happens. Do some gambling first, just in case.


QINGMING FESTIVAL FROM CHINA!




    The Qingming Festival is a traditional Chinese fest on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5th of the Gregorian calendar. Astronomically, it is also a solar term. The Qingming festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (Taqing, "treading on the greenery") and tend to the graves of departed loved ones.
    Qingming has been regularly observed as a statutory public holiday in Taiwan and in the Chinese jurisdictions of Hong Kong and Macau. Its observance was reinstated as a public holiday in mainland China in 2008, after having been previous suppressed by the ruling Communist Party in 1949.
    The holiday is known by a number of names in the English language:




  • All Souls Day (not to be confused with the Roman Catholic holiday, All Souls, Day, of the same name)
  • Clear Bright Festival
  • Ancestors Day
  • Festival for Tending Graves
  • Grave Sweeping Day
  • Chinese Memorial Day
  • Tomb Sweeping Day
  • Spring Remembrance
    Tomb Sweeping Day and Clear Bright Festival are the most common English translations of the Qingming Festival. Tomb Sweeping Day is used in several English language newspapers published in Taiwan.





Origins

    Qingming Festival is when Chinese people visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors. Traditionally, people brought a whole rooster with them to the graves visited, but the occasion hs become less formal over time. The festival originated from Hanshi Day, (literally, a day with cold food only), a memorial day for Jie Zitui or Jie Zhitui. Jie Zitui died in 636 B.C., in the Spring and Atumn Period. He was one of the many followers of Duke Wen of Jin before he became a duke. Once, during Wen's nineteen years of exile, they had no food and Jie prepared some meat soup for Wen. Wen enjoyed it a lot and wondered where Jie had obtained the soup. It turned out Jie had cut a piece of meat from his own thigh to make the soup. Wen was so moved he promised to reward him one day. However, Jie was no the type of person who sought rewards. Instead, he just wanted to help Wen to return to Jin to become kind. Once Wen became duke, Jie resigned and stayed away from him. Duke Wen rewarded the people who helped him in the decade, but for some reason he forgot to reward Jie, who by then had moved into the forest with his mother. Duke Wen went to the forest, but could not find Jie. Heeding suggestions form his officials, Duke Wen ordered men to set the forest on fire to force out Jie. However, Jie died in the fire. Feeling remorseful, Duke Wen ordered three days without fire to honor Jie's memory. The county where Jie died is still called Jiexiu ("the place Jie rests forever").






    Qingming has a tradition stretching back more than 2,500 years. Its origin is credited to the Tang Emperor Xuanzong in 732. Wealthy citizen in China were reportedly holding too many extravagant and ostentatiously expensive ceremonies in honor of their ancestors. Emperor Xuanzong, seeking to curb this practice, declared that respects could be formally paid at ancestors' graves only on Qingming. The observance of Qingming found a firm place in Chinese culture and continued uninterrupted for over two millennia. In 1949 the Communist Party of China repealed the holiday, Observance of Qingming remained suppressed until 2008, when the Party reinstated the holiday, in Hong Kong and Macau this practice has been uninterrupted for two millenia.





Celebrating Qingming

    The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honor their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and /or libations to the ancestors. The rites have a long tradition in Asia, especially among farmers. Some people carry willow branches with them on Qingming, or put willow branches on their gates and /or front doors. They believe that willow branches help ward off the evil spirit wanders on Qingming.
    On Qingming people go on family outings, start the spring plowing, sing, dance. Qingming is also the time when young couples start courting. Another popular thing to do is to fly kites in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese operas. Another common practice is to carry flowers instead of burning paper, incense or firecrackers.





    The holiday is often marked by people paying respects to those who died in events considered sensitive in China. The April Fifth Movement and the Tiananmen Incident were major events on Qingming that took place in the history of the People's Republic of China. When Premier Zhou Enlai died in 1976, thousands visited him during the festival to pay their respects. Many also pay respects to victims of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and the graves of Zhao Ziyang and Yang Jia in areas where the right of free expression is generally recognized, as in Hong Kong. In most areas of China such observances are suppressed and all public mention of such subjects is taboo. In Taiwan, this nations holiday is observed on April 5th, because the ruling Kuomintang moved it to that date in commemoration of the death of Chiang Kai-shek on April 5th. The holiday is nevertheless observed in the traditional manner with families gathering to honor their own ancestors, visit and maintain their family shrines, and share traditional meals.





    Despite having no holiday status, the overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asian nations, such as those in Singapore and Malaysia, take this festival seriously and observe its traditions faithfully. Some Qingming rituals and ancestral veneration decorum observed by the oversea Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore can be dated back to Ming and Qing dynasties, the oversea communities were not affected by the Cultural Revolution in Mainland China. Qingming in Malaysia is an elaborate family function or a clan feast (usually organized by the respective clan associaiton) to commemorate and honor recently deceased relatives at their grave sites and distant ancestor from China at home altars, clan temples or makeshift altars in Buddhist or Taoist temples. For the oversea Chinese community, the Qingming festival is very much a family celebration and at the same time, a family obligation. They see this festival as a time of reflection and to honor and give thanks to their forefathers. Overseas Chines normally visit the graves of their recently deceased relatives on the nearest weekend to the actual date. According to the ancient custom, grave site veneration is only feasible ten days before and after the Qinming Festival. If the visit is not on the actual date, normally veneration before Qingming is encouraged. The Qingming Festival in Malaysia and Singapore normally starts early in the morning by paying respect to distant ancestors from China at home altars. This is followed by visiting the graves of close relatives in the country. Some follow the concept of filial piety to the extent of visiting the graves of their ancestors in mainland China. Traditionally, the family will burn spirit money and paper replicas of material goods such as cars, homes and phones and paper servants. In Chinese culture, it is believed that people still need all of those things in the afterlife. Then family members start to take turns to kowtow three to nine times (depending on the family adherence to traditional values) before the tomb of the ancestors. The Kowtowing ritual in front of the grave is performed in the order of patriarchal seniority with the family. After the ancestor worship at the grave site, the whole family or the whole clan feast on the food and drink they brought for the worship either at the site or in nearby gardens in the memorial park, signifying family reunion with the ancestors.