Chocolate as we know and love it began in Southern Mexico where it was first enjoyed as a fermented beverage as early as 450 BC. The Aztecs believed that the cacao seeds, from which chocolate is made, were a gift from their God of Wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. The seeds of the cacao had so much value to the ancients that they were even used as currency. [One hundred seeds could buy you one turkey!]
As the new year approaches, we all take the time to think about things we would like to improve or focus on for ourselves in the new year. How about making some resolutions for your home? It makes sense to enhance the area you spend much of your year in. Feel free to add some or all of these suggestions to your resolution list.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly…! Tis the season to be—damaging your door with Christmas decorations! Well, it’s that time of year again when we all decorate our house to the nines and the winter weather blows in and makes a mess of all the pretty decorations. My personal nemesis is the wreath that I hang on my door. It seems that the wind is always making it crooked and twisting up the lights. Here are a few out-of-the-box ideas to try to minimize the frustration of hanging your wreath on the door.
Whether you are one strand kinda person or tend to cover every possible area with lights, it's important that you hang your decorations with care, so you can admire them standing up.....not flat out on your back. We surveyed over 100 elves for the best tips and tricks to make sure you, and the surfaces you use, hold up well year after year.
A few things to consider before you start decorating. Knowing what surfaces you will be working with will help you determine what instruments you will need to help hang, fasten or drape decorations on. You should also determine if this is an area that you will use year after year, you may want to use better quality nails or fastening items if you plan on leaving these things in place for future holidays. If you will be removing nails afterwards make sure you have the proper items to fill the hole.
We all know jack-o-lanterns. However, in the early 1500s, the term ‘jack-of-the-lantern’ was applied to people, not pumpkins. It originally meant ‘a man with a lantern’ or a night watchman. In its earliest recordings, the term was used to encompass the mysterious lights sometimes seen at night over bogs, swamps, and marshes. These ghostly lights are caused by nothing more than the ignition of natural gases created by decomposing plant matter. However, for centuries before the scientific explanation was known, ancient people made up stories to explain these jack-o-lanterns, hinkypunks, corpse candles, will-o-the-wisps, fairy lights, and fool’s fires.
Sarah Lockwood Pardee married William Winchester, magnate to the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, in 1862. Now, most people know of the Winchesters for the Model 73 Rifle, better known as ‘The Gun that Won the West,’ released in 1873, but Sarah Winchester is responsible for one of the single most fascinating homes in the United States. After her husband’s death from tuberculosis in 1881, Sarah inherited the Winchester fortune, purchased an eight-room farmhouse in San Jose, California, and started building in 1886.
The Fourth of July has come and gone. I hope everyone had a great holiday! I spent my time traveling from one picnic to another, enjoying the company of friends and family alike. The benefit to this day and age is the delicious blending of cultures that’s going on in the area. However, it did lead me to an interesting discovery—German potato salad.
We’ve all heard the legends of Saint Patrick. He was kidnapped from his home in Britain, sold as a slave, escaped, hitched his way home aboard a pirate ship, and returned to Ireland later to bring them Christianity. Interesting guy, right?
If you’re anything like me, you’re of the belief that Valentine’s Day was invented by candy companies and bored housewives. I personally camp out with all the beleaguered husbands and boyfriends, watching the weeping masses pass by the heart-frosted window panes. In the interest of giving my outlook some support, I investigated it this year.
It’s that time of year again and A.B.E. Doors and Windows is of two very different minds. Ninety percent of our employees [and customers] are delighted to see the return of Girl Scout Cookies. Meanwhile, our office manager, Shannon is in mourning for the next nine weeks. Being a troop leader and with two children in Girl Scouts, Shannon looks at the time between January 17 and March 10 with dread. For her, it’s a time of freezing her buns off at cookie booths and making endless change for $4.00 boxes. For the rest of us, we’re delighted to see the return of our favorite flavors.
It’s that time of year again. We’ve put up our tree, our wreath, our many [many] lights. The tree is lit, the house is lit, the whole neighborhood is lit. It’s nice to admire our beautiful handiwork from the front yard. It’s nice to come home after work to our beautiful well-lit house. It’s nice to—hold up… Why isn’t the garage door opening? Why isn’t the remote opening the door? Guess the universe wanted you to have a little more time to admire your beautiful decor.
“There's no place like home.”~~~Dorothy-The Wizard of Oz
According to AAA, the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve will see the highest number of people traveling. Over 93 million people will be making their way to visit loved ones near and far. Unfortunately, this time of year also sees an increase in home break ins. Let's not let that information deter you from leaving your home. A little planning and common sense will ensure your home and your family stay safe during this busy time of year.
Although it may be tempting, don't broadcast your travel plans on social media. You never know who may be following your page. Let's not give any criminal a heads up to your activities. Those pictures of you and all the cousins wearing matching PJ's can wait till you return.
The use of lights on a timer inside the home is an excellent deterrent, as most burglars will look for signs of no one being home.
We all enjoy the lights, ornaments and merry decorations that brighten up our homes during the holidays...until it's time to take it all down and store it for next year. Let's help you store those items with ease so next year you won't be wrestling with a ball of lights.
Before you begin, examine your storage materials that you currently have on hand. Make sure boxes still have secure bottoms and handles that are strong. Ensure that you have enough containers in case you have purchased new lights or have received ornaments as gifts. The end of the year is a great time to pick up new containers and bins, but you can easily store your treasures with items you already have on hand.
The key to storing lights is all in the wrapping. Start with a heavy piece of cardboard and slowly wrap each strand around it. Each piece can be then slid into a box for storage. Another idea is to wrap them around a heavy duty hanger. When finished, they can be hung in a spare closet or rack in the attic. If you have extension cords that need to be stored, inserting them into a paper towel tube is a great organizing trick. If you have an extensive outdoor light collection, investing in a storage spool is an option. Spools can hold up to 200 feet of lights and are easy to carry and unwind.
A clever alternative to wrapping each ornament in tissue paper is found by nestling them in a cardboard divider. If you don't want to invest in a pre-made container, you can easily make one by using larger plastic cups with cardboard dividers in a storage bin. Smaller trinkets can be stored in egg cartons or clear shoe boxes. As you put away your ornaments, examine them to make sure they are not broken and make repairs if necessary. Now is also a good time to assess your collection and pare down or donate items you have not used in a while.
Wreathes and garland present an interesting challenge in that there is never a box quite big enough to store them nicely. Think vertically on this one and utilize a garment bag. Attach the wreath or garland to a sturdy hanger and slip it into the bag. DIY with a hanger poked through a garbage bag and cinch it tight at the bottom.
Although they come out of the box with ease, getting your artificial tree back in the box is often a wrestling match. Pinterest user Time with Thea used an old bed-sheet as a way to wrap it up neatly. Once in the sheet, it is secured by tying the ends together. For larger trees a pillow case can come in handy to hold the top portion.
Before you stash all your trimmings away, take a look at your storage area. Make sure it is clean, free from any potential water damage and not in an area that heat may damage any of your decorations. Stack heavy boxes on the bottom and allow some room to maneuver items with ease. If you have the space, storing items on the floor they are used on can save time and avoid injuries from carrying boxes up and down stairs.
Congrats! You are all set for next year. Reward yourself with a hot chocolate and don't skimp on the marshmallows.