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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: December 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

TOP 10 NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS!







   New Year's Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes. This is a list of the ten most popular New Year resolutions.



Newyears


10. Reorganize Life
   On just about every New Year resolution top ten list, organization can be a very reasonable goal. Whether you want your home organized enough that you can invite someone over on a whim, or your office organized enough that you can find the stapler when you need it, these tips and resources should get you started on the way to a more organized life.


9. Be More Charitable
   A popular, non-selfish New Year’s resolution, volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time helping out at your local library, mentoring a child, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use your help.


8. Learn Something New
   Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Perhaps you are considering a career change, want to learn a new language, or just how to fix your computer? Whether you take a course or read a book, you’ll find education to be one of the easiest, most motivating New Year’s resolutions to keep. Challenge your mind in the coming year, and your horizons will expand.



Nyc New Year's

7. Get Out of Debt
   Was money a big source of stress in your life last year? Join the millions of Americans who have resolved to spend this year getting a handle on their finances. It’s a promise that will repay itself many times over in the year ahead.


6. Stop Drinking
   While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are not equipped to make such a drastic lifestyle change all at once. Many heavy drinkers fail to quit cold turkey but do much better when they taper gradually, or even learn to moderate their drinking. If you have decided that you want to stop drinking, there is a world of help and support available.


5. Enjoy Life More
   Given the hectic, stressful lifestyles of millions of people in the world, it is no wonder that “enjoying life more” has become a popular resolution in recent years. It’s an important step to a happier and healthier you!


4. Stop Smoking
   If you have resolved to make this the year that you stamp out your smoking habit, over-the-counter availability of nicotine replacement therapy now provides easier access to proven quit-smoking aids. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and failed, don’t let it get you down. On average, smokers try about four times before they quit for good.



Happynewyear



3. Lose Weight
   Weight loss is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Setting reasonable goals and staying focused are the two most important factors in sticking with a weight loss program, and the key to success for those millions of people who made a New Year’s commitment to shed extra pounds.


2. Get Fit
   Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies show that it reduces the risk of some cancers, increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better.


1. Spend Time with Loves Ones
   Recent polls conducted by General Nutrition Centers, Quicken, and others shows that more than 50% of people asked, vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends this year.






HISTORY OF AULD LANG SYNE!









   The traditional song for bringing in the new year in most English speaking countries is "Auld Lang Syne". The song is well known and sung at the stroke of midnight as the new year is ushered in. The words were passed down orally and written down in 1788 by Scottish poet Robert Burns. Robert Burns is usually given credit for the poem, but some lyrics appear to have been taken from an earlier poem by James Watson. The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" is also used in similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570-1638), Allan Ramsay (1686-1757), and James Watson (1711) as well as older folk songs predating Burns.
   It soon became traditional in Scotland and the British Isles for the folk song "Auld Lang Syne" to be sung to commemorate the beginning of the New Year. As the people from that area of the world emigrated to other places and to the United States, they brought the tradition with them and it became an American tradition. Although the song is widely known, must of us don't understand the meaning. The song title "Auld Lang Syne" can be translated to long long ago or days gone by. Matthew Fitt, a Lowland Scots/Lallans poet and novelist, uses the phrase "In the days of auld lang syne" as the equivalent of "Once upon a time..." in his retelling of fairy tales in the Scots language.





   The meaning of this popular Scottish New Years Eve song " Auld Lang Syne" is about old friends who have parted and meet again. To celebrate their long friendship, they share a drink together and reminisce of memories from a long time ago. The main message is that we should not forget our old friends and should celebrate a reunion with them.
   The opening verse: "Should old acquaintance be forgot / and never brought to mind? / Should old acquaintance be forgot / and days o' lang syne?" is the one most of us know and remember. These lines ask whether one can forget the days that have gone by and the friends with whom those days have been spent. The next verses recall those days.
   There is some doubt as to whether the melody used today is the same one Burns originally intended, but it is widely used both in Scotland and in the rest of the world.
    Guy Lombardo, famous Canadian band leader, is often credited with popularising the use of the song at New Year's celebrations in America, through his annual broadcasts on radio and television, beginning in 1929. The song became his trademark. In addition to his live broadcasts, Lombardo recorded the song more than once. His first recording was in 1939. Though there are earlier newspaper reports of the song being sung in American and across the ocean to celebrate the New Year.

TOP 10 NEW YEAR TRADITIONS!







   Just as the parties from Christmas begin to dwindle, preparations are started for the celebration of New Year. It is a time when even the least-likely party-goer will ready himself for a night of booze, singing, and food. This list looks at 10 of the most common and interesting traditions of New Year from around the world.




10. First Footing
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   First-footing is an ancient European New Year’s custom that continues into the present in many areas. The first person to enter a home after midnight on the first day of the year should be a male, preferably with dark hair. Blondes may have been associated with Vikings – visitors who never brought good luck. The first-footer should carry a gift, such as a coin for prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavor, or whiskey to represent good cheer. The first-footer can be a resident of the house, but must not be inside during the hour leading up to midnight. No fair stepping outside and coming back in again!




9. Irish Wind
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   There is an Irish tradition of predicting the political future of the country by checking which way the wind blows at midnight on New Year’s Eve. If the wind is from the west, there is a chance that good fortune will reign that year. If the wind is from the east, however, the British will prevail. Mistletoe was handed out to ward off bad luck, and single women put a sprig of mistletoe under their pillows in hopes of catching a dream about their future husbands. Another tradition peculiar to Ireland is pounding on the doors and windows of the house with bread. This practice was to chase out evil spirits and ensure bread for the upcoming year.



8. Lavish Parties
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   Madeira, a Portugese island, holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the most lavish New Year’s party. In 2007, 8,000 fireworks per minute made up the display in Funchal, the capital city, for a total of 600,000 fireworks. Visitors from around the world fill the tiny harbor, where the dazzle is reflected. In 2009, the government is spending 12,000,000 Euros to ensure the most spectacular celebration anywhere in the world. Other famous fireworks displays take place in Rio de Janeiro, Sydney harbor, and, of course, New York City, were visitors watch the descent of the giant six-foot crystal ball marking the last moments of the old year.



7. Ancient History
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   New Year’s is the oldest holiday still being celebrated. The Babylonians celebrated the new year as early as 4000 B.C. At that time, the new year began on the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox. The celebration continued for eleven days, with each day having a different purpose and activity. Then, as now, resolutions were made. A common Babylonian resolution is to return borrowed farm equipment. At this time each year, the king was stripped of all power to undergo a ritual of humiliation, in which he was hit by the priest and separated from everyone for three days to pray. When he reappeared, ceremonies of restoration were performed to ensure that nature would support him during the coming year.




6. Imperial Ball
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   Austria has one of the most glamorous of New Year’s celebrations. At the Imperial Ball, a tradition of the Hapsburg dynasty that has continued for hundreds of years, dancers wear white gowns and black jackets. At midnight, “The Blue Danube,”is played. The Strauss operetta, “Die Fledermaus, is performed each New Year’s Day. Celebrants dine on suckling pig – considered good luck. The tables are often decorated with candy pigs. Children pour molten lead into a tub of water. A soothsayer then reads the shape of the lead. It is considered bad luck to find that your lead resembles an old woman.



5. Chinese New Year
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   By the Chinese calendar, the year 2009 is actually 4706, a year of the ox. Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. In 2010, it will fall on February 14. Firecrackers and noisemakers will chase away evil spirits. The fabulous dragon and lion will dance in the streets. People will wear red, the most auspicious of colors, and red envelopes with lucky money will be given to children. Tangerines are often given for good luck, but odd numbers are unlucky, so the tangerines are given in pairs. The third day of the new year is the day the mice marry off their daughters, so people go to bed early, so they don’t disturb the mice.




4. Japanese New Year
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   It is traditional in Japan to spend a full week preparing for the new year to arrive. The house must be thoroughly cleaned, so that no evil spirits can linger. All debts must be paid. And most importantly, all disagreements must be resolved and forgiven. Before midnight, 108 bells ring, to symbolize the elimination of 108 troubles. With no troubles, disagreements, debts, or disorder to contend with, all are free to welcome in the new year with every expectation of peace and prosperity. The day after New Year’s is First Writing Day, when people write their hopes and dreams for the new year.



3. Emancipation Day
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   For African Americans, New Year’s Day has a special significance, and is often called Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves from bondage, was read in Boston. Today, many African-American families hold “watch services” on January 1. Traditional foods include black-eyed peas, collard greens, ham hocks, and macaroni and cheese. The uniquely African-American celebration, Kwanzaa, continues over seven days starting December 26, so the New Year’s celebration is often part of Kwanzaa’s way of reconnecting people with their African roots. Kwanzaa began in the United States in the 1960s, and is not celebrated in Africa.



2. Auld Lang Syne




“Auld Lang Syne” has been called the most familiar song to which nobody knows the words. But this year, you will! Written by Robert Burns and first published after his death in 1796, the song became an instant standard in 1929 when Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played it on New Year’s Eve, broadcasting from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. The title literally means, “Old Long Time.” Roughly translated, here are the words:
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for days of auld lang syne.
We two have run around the hills
And pulled the daisies fine.
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot
Since the days of auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream
From morn till the sun was down.
But seas between us two have roared
Since days of auld lang syne.
So here’s a hand my trusty friend.
Give us a hand of thine.
We’ll take a good-will drink again
For auld lang syne.


1. First Baby
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   Using a baby to symbolize the new year has been controversial from the beginning. Many cities watch for the first baby of the new year, to shower him or her with gifts from local merchants and lots of media attention. But parading a living baby through the streets brought disapproval from Greek mothers as early as 600 B.C. Egyptians also used a live human baby to symbolize the birth of a new year. Early Christians disapproved of the practice, but its popularity eventually overcame all objections, and the symbol remains one of the most popular. Today’s baby is traditionally a diapered boy with a sash labeled with the number of the upcoming year he represents.






5 NON-ALCOHOLIC DRINKS TO SERVE AT YOUR NEW YEAR'S EVE PARTY!







   Celebrate and stay sober while ringing in the New Year with these holiday drink recipes:


Golden Fruit Punch Recipe



Golden Fruit Punch Recipe






  • 21 Servings




  • Prep: 10 min. + freezing




  • 10 10

    Ingredients

    • 4 maraschino cherries
    • 1 medium navel orange, thinly sliced
    • 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
    • 1 small lime, thinly sliced
    • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
    • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
    • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen pineapple-orange juice concentrate, thawed
    • 2 liters diet ginger ale, chilled

    Directions

    • Arrange fruit in a 5-cup ring mold; add 3/4 cup water. Freeze until solid. Add enough water to fill mold; freeze until solid.
    • Just before serving, in a punch bowl, combine juice concentrates with 2 cups water. Stir in ginger ale. Unmold ice ring by wrapping the bottom of the mold in a hot, damp dishcloth. Invert onto a baking sheet; place fruit side up in punch bowl. Yield: 21 servings (4 quarts).


    Cranberry Festive Sparkler


    Cranberry Festive Sparkler



    makes 1 serving

    Ingredients:

    8 ounces Ocean Spray® Cranberry Juice Drink, any flavor, chilled
    2 ounces sparkling water
    Lime wedge, garnish

    Directions:

    Fill a tall glass with ice. Add cranberry juice drink. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lime wedge.



    Effortless Eggnog Recipe


    Effortless Eggnog Recipe




  • 16 Servings




  • Prep/Total Time: 5 min.




  • 5 5

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 gallon cold milk, divided
    • 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant French vanilla pudding mix
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Spice Islands® pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    Directions

    • In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup milk and pudding mix until smooth. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the remaining milk. Refrigerate until serving.
    •  Yield: 16 servings (2 quarts).


    Mulled Pomegranate Sipper Recipe


    Mulled Pomegranate Sipper Recipe


  • 16 Servings




  • Prep: 10 min. Cook: 1 hour




  • 10 60 70

    Ingredients

    • 1 bottle (64 ounces) cranberry-apple juice
    • 2 cups unsweetened apple juice
    • 1 cup pomegranate juice
    • 2/3 cup honey
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 3 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
    • 10 whole cloves
    • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel

    Directions

    • In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine first five ingredients. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange peel on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a bag. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 1-2 hours. Discard spice bag.
    •  Yield: 16 servings (about 3 quarts).


    Citrus Wassail Recipe


    Citrus Wassail Recipe


  • 13 Servings




  • Prep/Total Time: 25 min.




  • 25 25

    Ingredients

    • 8 cups unsweetened apple juice
    • 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
    • 2 cups orange juice
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

    Directions

    • In a Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.
    • Yield: 13 servings (about 3 quarts).






    Friday, December 30, 2011

    WHAT MAKES A NEW YEARS EVE PARTY, A PARTY TO REMEMBER!










       Having the perfect New Years Eve party that will be enjoyed by all isn’t always something easy to do. You have to do a great deal of hard work and study to try and make your event one which will be talked about by all of your friends. You would like the party that you plan to have all the things that you want and so much more. This will probably be the equation which will end up getting you the most spectacular New Years Eve party that you can be proud of.
       Whenever you are looking to have your event stand out from all the rest, you need to do a couple of things initially. You want to think of ways that you can bring some fun and excitement to your wonderful occasion. You need to add some pizzazz to your party so that you are able to take your invited guests by surprise. You want them to be thrilled by coming to your party. Simply by incorporating some of the sparkle that you want, you’ll be bringing life to it for everybody.
        The most that you are able to do for your New Years Eve party to be special is always to plan it thoroughly. You’ll do more planning than you’ve ever done before simply because you would like this time to be unique. You would like your New Years Eve party to be the most talked about event of the year. You need to put a good deal of your heart and soul into this so that you’re giving it your all and ending up with the best-finished product that you are able to have. You will have something that you can be proud of and feel good about.





    Plan Your New Years Eve Party Well

       Having everything planned out is the best method to run a well-organized New Years Eve party. You will have particular times for everything. You would like to have a time schedule and make sure that everyone follows it. This will give you the best results because you’ll have a time for every thing so that you’re not missing anything or running behind schedule.
       You might want to add a few surprises into your party planning. Throw in some sort of fun and excitement that will grab your guest’s attention. You’ll want to bring some excitement like a special guest. This would mean that perhaps you bring someone that your friends and family have not seen in a long time. Maybe this individual is a long time friend that you have not seen in a lengthy time. You might also want to hire an entertainer which will bring some life to the night. You need to consider the kind of party you’re having so that you can bring in the best entertainment which will add the most profit to your night., for example maybe a highland piper wearing full tartan and kilt.
       The most important thing is to have your guests leave with the feeling of a fantastic time. You would like them to talk about the night for a long time. Of course you would like your guests to be saying great things about it and not saying how boring it was or that they had a lousy time. Getting some thing that will be a surprise or fun for the guests will probably be the one factor that can grab their attention and get them motivated to have fun.






       Another aspect to consider is preparing food for a New Years Eve party. You want to make certain that you’re planning the best menu that you know your guests will absolutely enjoy. You need to consider the people which are coming and what you believe will likely be the best meal for them. You might want to add a couple of of the usual menu favorites to the menu. Consider comfort foods and party foods at the same time. Bringing these ideas together will get your partygoers gathered around the food table.
       The correct drinks will also be a good idea for your party. You would like to give your guests a great choice which will leave them feeling good and having a great time. This is the most important factor about your party and that is to make sure all your guests have fun. You’ll feel like you had the ideal party with great success when you hear that you had the most talked about New Years Eve party.





    Preparing Food For A new Years Eve Party

        Preparing food for a new Years Eve bash can be a good deal of fun or it can be a great deal of stress. It can even be a combination of the two. Those that are experienced at throwing parties might have the ability to plan a menu for their New Years Eve party and execute their plan with ease while still enjoying the celebration. However, those who don’t have a great deal of experience hosting parties might have difficulty preparing a menu and may feel a great deal of stress on the day of the party. In either situation, it’s wise to begin preparing the food for a New Years Eve party in advance to guarantee your guests appreciate the food at the party. This article will offer some suggestions for preparing food for a new Years Eve party.
       Whether you are an accomplished chef or a novice cook, preparing food for a new Years Eve celebration can be rather a challenge. One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is what kind of food you will like to prepare for the guests. You might opt for offering a sit down dinner early in the night and light snacks and desserts afterwards. Likewise you may opt to provide a dinner buffet early in the evening and snacks and desserts all through the remainder of the night. Alternately you may choose to skip dinner because the celebration will likely start late in the evening and simply offer an assortment of sweet and savory appetizers throughout the evening. Once you’ve selected one of these choices you can make other decisions such as what types of foods to provide and how much meals to organize.





    Hot or Cold food for a New Years Eve party

       Regardless of the types of foods you determine to offer, you will also have to make choices concerning the planning of the meals. The simplest, but also possibly the most expensive, preparation option would be to have the celebration catered. In this situation you pay a caterer to organize and deliver all of the food. They will also most likely supply the equipment for keeping the foods hot or cold if necessary. This is an outstanding choice for hosts who don’t want to invest a great deal of time preparing meals for the party and who don’t wish to have a great deal of responsibility related to food preparation on the evening of the party.
        Another option for preparing food for the New Years Eve celebration is to prepare all of the food in advance. With just a little research you will surely find a large number of recipes for items which can be prepared ahead of time. These recipes could include items which could be served chilled, room temperature or hot. For items which ought to be offered hot, you will only have to worry about reheating the meals on the night of the party. Getting ready the majority of the food for a New Years Eve event ahead of time is a great idea, and will really help to enable the host to indulge in the festivities on the night of the party.
       Yet another less popular choice is to prepare all of the food during the celebration. This helps to guarantee the food is all fresh and is served at the right temperature but it’s also a good deal of work for any host. The host will not likely have a good deal of time to socialize with all the guests simply because she will likely spend a great deal of time in the kitchen, busy getting ready the food.
       When planning your celebration, you could also consider hosting a potluck New Years Eve party. This significantly simplifies the food preparation procedure for the host. In the event you decide for a potluck, it is essential for the host of the party to coordinate with the guests to determine who will bring what to the party. This is essential simply because you don’t want everyone to provide a dessert. Likewise you don’t want everybody to provide an entrée either. Ideally a couple of individuals will put together entrees and the remainder of visitors will provide side dishes, salads and desserts for the celebration.

    TIME BALLS, FROGS, ACORNS AND PICKLES, WELCOME THE 2012 NEW YEAR!









       On December 31, 2011, people all over the world will welcome in the New Year watching the 2011 Time Ball drop in Times Square in New York City or by dropping objects like pickles and acorns to pursue prosperity in 2012. Many celebrations focus on time balls to calculate and welcome the New Year. Other towns and cities across the country drop a variety of items, according to local tradition or just plain tradition. Talbot, Maryland will feature a Crab Drop at its first night celebration, Mobile, Alabama will drop a twelve foot moon pie at its New Year's Eve celebration, and Atlanta, Georgia, will drop an 800 pound peach at its celebration to ring in 2012.






    The 2011 Times Square Time Ball

    The Times Square ball that will drop on December 31, 2011, measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11, 875 pounds and is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles of varied sizes. The crystals produce millions of vibrant colors and countless patterns, and the New Years Eve celebration at Times Square produces millions of excited spectators to count down and welcome the New Year.



    New Years Eve Celebrated in Times Square is a Century Old Tradition

       People celebrated New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it took until 1907 for the tradition of the New Year's Eve Ball to begin. In 1907, the first New Year's Eve Ball which measured five feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds descended from the flagpole on top of One Times Square. Jacob Starr, a young immigrant metalworker, built the ball from iron and wood and lit it with one hundred 25 -watt bulbs. For most of the Twentieth Century, the company that Jacob founded, Artkraft Strauss, lowered the ball every year.
       The New Year's Ball has descended every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, when officials cancelled the ceremony because of the wartime dimming of New York City lights. Despite the absence of a ball, crowds still congregated in Times Square and welcomed the New Year with a minute of silence. After that chimes rang from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower, a continuation of earlier Trinity Church celebrations where crowds gathered to "ring out the old, ring in the new."





    Ball Dropping Symbolizes Time Passing

       The idea of a ball "dropping" to symbolize time passing goes back into the mists of time far distant from Times Square to Greenwich, England. The English installed the first time ball on top of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. The time ball would drop every afternoon at one o'clock so that the captains of nearby ships could accurately set their chronometers which were essential to navigation.
       After the time balls had proven themselves at Greenwich, about 150 of them were installed around the world. The United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. carries on the tradition. Every day at noon a time ball descends from the flagpole. In Times Square every year a time ball descends on the stroke for midnight to symbolize the coming of the New Year for over one billion excited people around the world.





    People Drop Everything from Pickles to Acorns to Welcome the New Year

       Millions of people watch the time ball drop in New York's Time Square and millions more watch more unusual items drop to welcome in the New Year before their eyelids close over the New Year.
       Mount Olive, North Carolina, is celebrating its thirteenth annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop on December 31, 2011, at the corner of Cucumber and Vine Streets. The New Year's Eve pickle descends the Mount Olive Pickle Company flagpole at 7 p.m. midnight - that's 7 o'clock EST-which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time. Festival organizers say "that way we are official, we shout Happy New Year! and we don't have to stay up until midnight!"
       Since 1992, Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, has earned its title, "The City of Oaks," by literally dropping an acorn as a symbol of new beginnings every New Year's Eve. The 2011 Acorn Drop marks the 20th Anniversary of Raleigh's First Night New Year's Eve Celebrations and the Acorn Drop. The acorn weighs approximately 1,250 pounds and measures about ten feet, and instead of investing in a gigantic acorn storage unit 364 days of the year, the town of Raleigh proudly displays the acorn in Moore Square. Then on New Year's Eve, technicians transport the acorn by crane to participate in the midnight count down.






       Eastport, Maine, is ringing in the New Year with its seventh consecutive year of New Year's Eve festivities with the Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop. To honor both the United States and Canada, the first drop will be a Canadian maple leaf to honor Eastport's Canadian neighbors and then a giant sardine will be dropped at midnight to commemorate the regions historic sardine fishing and canning past.
    Crowd waiting for ball to drop


    Pittsburgh Raises the Ball

       Pennsylvania has numerous towns and cities that drop a variety of objects to welcome in the New Year. Hummelstown drops a lollipop. Duncannon drops a sled, Richland drops a cigar, Steelton drops an entire steamroller and Frogtown, a frog.
       In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a 1,000 pound ball titled "The Future of Pittsburgh," will ascend 74 feet at midnight on December 31, 2011, to the top of Penn Avenue Place as people count down the passing of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. Organizers of Pittsburgh's First Night. Family celebration decided to raise the ball instead of dropping it as a symbol of Pittsburgh's revitalization and the hope of a Happy New Year and prosperous future.
       But no matter where a town drops an item or if it is a peach or a pickle, the sentiment is the same, "Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!"

    TOP 10 PRESTIGIOUS BOTTLES OF CHAMPAGNE!







       No other drink on Earth can capture the romance and euphoria of a single moment of celebration into such a tangible act as when the seal of a bottle of champagne is broken. The cork pops, the bubbles fizz and the wine bursts out of the bottle with the enthusiasm of lava erupting from Krakatoa. Like all good wines, champagne possesses the depth, character and prestige to command a special place on the dinner tables of many royals, celebrities and businessmen in the uppermost echelons of society. Because of its unparalleled position in the global wine market, this list focuses exclusively on sparkling wines from the Champagne region of France, there are no Cavas, Sekts or Spumantes to be seen here. Oh – and happy New Year! Hopefully you are able to enjoy some delicious champagne while reading this New Year’s list.




    10. Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill
    Screen Shot 2011-01-01 At 3.30.17 Pm


       This very unique prestige cuvée was introduced, in 1984, by Pol Roger, in honour of their most loyal and ardent customer, Sir Winston Churchill. From the time he ordered his first case of the 1895 vintage, in 1908, right up until his death, in 1965, the former British Prime minister insisted on drinking Pol Roger champagne at every occasion. So much so, that in the time of war, borrowing one of Napoleons slogans, he stated that “In defeat I need it, in victory I deserve it”. His love affair with the wine was further enhanced in 1944, while attending the British Embassy’s Armistice Day party in Paris. Here he met the stunningly beautiful Odette Pol-Roger, who as Grande dame of her family’s champagne house, captivated a fascination from him through her charm and finesse. After this meeting, she would send a case of his favorite vintage to him every year on his birthday. In the last ten years of his life, he managed to work his way through over 500 cases. As a sign of respect, after his death, all Pol Roger bottles bound for the U.K. would receive a black border around the label. This Sir Winston Churchill cuvée has been created to reflect a personal style the great man most adored, possessing a rich and full-bodied flavor. Usual retail price is around $215.



    9. Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon White Gold
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       This huge 3 liter Jeroboam of Moët & Chandon’s prestige cuvée, Dom Perignon, appeals to the more extravagant and cavalier of Champagne buyers who love to show off in front of their friends and family. The primary factor commanding the enormous price tag starting at $11,200 lies in a plated white gold bottle sheath, as opposed to the actual wine itself. The 1995 vintage, of which there were only 100 produced, is laser engraved with the Dom Perignon label, and is available to purchase at Harrods, London, for just over £7,750 [$12,000.] The Jeroboam is four times larger than a standard champagne bottle, of which the more ubiquitous 1999 Dom Perignon is priced at around $150. And just for the record, it is pronounced “mow-ette” not “mow-eh”.



    8. Krug Clos d’Ambonnay
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       Krug, one of the more exclusive champagne houses, unveiled this extraordinary Ambonnay cuvée to the world, in 2008. It is an exception to Krug’s unique and traditional style of champagne cuvées because it is produced from a single grape variety, a single year and a single vineyard. Although it was preceded by the 1979 Clos du Mesnil, which is of a similar nature, Krug’s prestige cuvée and main product line, the Grande Cuvée, is a non-vintage blend of up to 50% reserve wines. As the Clos d’Ambonnay name suggests, the grapes are sourced from a tiny 0.685 hectare Grand Cru vineyard near the village of Ambonnay, Montage de Reims. With production limited to only 3,000 bottles, and a price tag of $2,500+, this is certainly not your average bottle of bubbly. It is, in fact, Krug’s only blanc de noirs cuvée [white wine made with red grapes] at 100% Pinot Noir. The Krug family actually purchased the Ambonnay vineyard in 1984, but did not announce the acquisition for more than twenty years, until they were ready to reveal their first vintage from this vineyard, the 1995 Clos d’Ambonnay.



    7. Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque
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       For a short time only, this particular brand of bubbly offered an experience to its purchasers like no other witnessed in history. One hundred very wealthy clients from across the globe were invited to spend the day at Perrier-Jouët’s headquarter’s, the Maison Belle Époque, to create their very own personal cuvée and receive a champagne experience dedicated solely to them. Patrons were taken on a guided tour of the premises by the Maison’s 7th Celler Master, Hervé Deschamps. After the perfect blend had been selected, their twelve champagne bottles, designed by the exquisite artist Émile Gallé, were allocated an optimum spot in the Maison’s cellar to age for several years. The sets were sold for $50,000 each. Like Moet and Chandon, Perrier Jouet is pronounced “zhew-ette” not “zhew-eh”.



    6. 1928 Krug
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       To give you an idea of significance, the exquisite 1928 vintage Krug was described by the Head of Sotheby’s Wine Department, Serena Sutcliffe, as “one of the greatest champagnes ever made”. In 2009, a standard size 75cl bottle was taken from the “Krug Collection” [the Krug family’s ultimate library of wines] and auctioned off in Hong Kong for $21,200. Previously, in 2004, another bottle, signed personally by the brothers Henri and Remi Krug, was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in London for $2,100. Joseph Krug, the grandfather of the brothers, once stated that engineering the 1928 vintage from the outstanding variety of grapes available to him at the time was one of his greatest achievements. It was served for King George VI and his guests at the first royal banquet at Buckingham Palace after the Second World War had ended in Europe, and featured at the great Millennium tasting of champagne in Sweden, 1999.

    5. Louis Roederer, 1990 Cristal Brut
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       Cristal, for many wine lovers, is the most opulent prestige cuvée. The most widely accepted theory over the wine’s origin rests with the paranoia of Alexander II of Russia. During the late 19th Century the political climate in the Tsar’s home country was becoming increasingly unstable. Fearing an assassination attempt using the dark glass of a wine bottle to conceal a weapon, he commissioned a Flemish glassmaker to create a clear, flat bottomed bottle. Due to the intense gas pressure, all champagne bottles needed to have a bell shaped bottom to avoid the glass breaking. To overcome this issue the Flemish glassmaker had to use a type of lead crystal to make the bottle, which resulted in the wine becoming known as “Cristal”. As a result, this champagne has a truly royal and exclusive heritage, which is reflected in the superior presentation of the bottle. A bottle of Methuselah [8 times larger than standard size] 1990 Cristal Brut Millenum cuvée was sold at Chrisites, New York in 2005 for $18,800.



    4. Hiedsieck 1907 Diamant Bleu cuvée
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       Now this vintage cuvée has some serious history to brag about. During the middle of the First World War, the wooden freighter Jönköping was chartered on a course from the Swedish port of Gävle to deliver fine spirits and wine to the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. On 3rd November, 1916, en-route to its destination, the ill-fated ship was struck on its hull by a projectile fired from a deck gun on the German submarine U-22. Predictably, the vessel flooded and began to sink, eventually falling to its final resting place 67 metres below the surface of the Baltic Sea. Onboard were over 2,000 bottles of Heidsieck 1907 Diamant Bleu cuvée. The ideal storage conditions of the cold, dark and relatively low pressure sea floor preserved the bottles for over 80 years, until the shipwreck was discovered by Swedish divers, in 1997. In a moment of pure excitement, members of the diving team opened some bottles to test their quality, and were elated to discover the content was delicious. The rest of the bottles have been sold in various auctions around the world, averaging a price of $3,700 each. That makes this bottle of bubbly an ultimate purchase for many wine collectors.



    3. Ca. 1820 Juglar cuvée
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       In July 2010, Swedish divers discovered a collection of 168 bottles of champagne on a shipwreck 55 metres below the surface of the Baltic Sea. Although the exact vintage of the champagne is unknown due to extensive label damage, many experts agree they originate from the early part of the 19th Century. The extremely cold and dark storage conditions of the sea floor preserved the bottles in ideal conditions for the duration of the 150+ years during which they were lost. Quite astonishingly, when initial tastings were conducted, it was discovered the sparkling wine was still drinkable. Further examination, in November of 2010, revealed that, of the bottles discovered, only three originated from the world famous Veuve Clicquot Grand Marque. The other bottles were produced by the now defunct champagne house Juglar. Local authorities have recently decided to auction off all of the bottles. They are expected to sell for in excess of $62,000 each.




    2. 1825 Perrier-Jouët
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       Seventy feet underground, deep within Perrier-Jouët’s cellars, resides a collection of champagne second to none on Earth. Since the earlier part of the 19th Century, the prestigious champagne house has saved and stored bottles of wine from its greatest vintages. In the third month of 2009, twelve of the world’s top wine tasters were invited to a very special tasting session. Twenty bottles from different vintages were taken from the cellar and opened in a once in a lifetime event. One of these bottles was the oldest drinkable wine on Earth, the 1825 Perrier-Jouët. At the time there were only three bottles of this vintage in existence, of all which resided in the same cellar. Once the cork had been popped by cellar master Hervé Deschamps, the legendary tasters which included such distinguished wine personalities as Michel Bettane, advised the wine had lost most of its fizz but was still a very enjoyable beverage, with a distinctive flavor of truffles and caramel. Other vintages at the tasting were the 1846 and 1874, the latter of which was still very sparkly.




    1. 1893 Veuve Clicquot
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       In July of 2008, while hiring a locksmith to cut a key and open an antique piece of furniture in the Scottish residence of Torosay Castle, owner Chris James discovered a treasure chest of alcoholic delights. The crown jewel of this discovery was a bottle of 1893 Veuve Clicquot in near perfect condition, including the famous hallmark yellow label. After also finding a bottle of claret, brandy and a port decanter, it became fairly obvious that the aged sideboard was a personal drinks cabinet that had been locked since the late 19th Century. Upon contacting the Grand Marque Champagne house directly, Mr. James was informed it was the only known such bottle in existence. It is considered by many to be priceless and is now on display at the Veuve Clicquot visitor centre in Reims, France. Ultimately, champagne is all about exclusivity, and by that measure as there is only one example in existence, this bottle of 1893 Veuve Clicquot is the most exclusive champagne in the world.

    CHOCOLATE NEW YEAR'S HOURGLASS RECIPE!







       COUNTING DOWN the minutes until the start of 2012 will be sweet indeed…if you include this chocolate treat among your festive decorations! The hourglass confection is the work of our kitchen crew, who reveals that the design tastes as good as it looks. That’s right—it’s completely edible! And, though it appears time-consuming, the figure is easy to make.Mostly, it’s a matter of forming cones from chocolate using kitchen funnels, then assembling the pieces.


    Chocolate New Year's Hourglass Recipe





  • 1 Servings




  • Prep: 45 min. + chilling




  • 45 45

    Ingredients


    • Materials needed:
    • 1 pound white candy coating, melted
    • 1/2 pound milk chocolate candy coating, melted
    • 2 large pretzel sticks (each 7 inches long x 3/8 inch wide)
    • White candy coating curls and shavings, optional

    • Two plastic funnels (each about 4 inches wide)

    • Waxed paper

    • Masking tape

    • Small metal spatula

    • Bowl

    • Cup or glass

    • Sharp knife

    • Pastry brush

    • Serving plate

    • Foil doily (optional)

    Directions

    • Directions: Place waxed paper over tube end of each funnel; seal with masking tape. Spoon white candy coating into funnels and spread with spatula as shown in photo A at left, forming an even layer on all surfaces.
    • Invert funnels over a bowl and tap gently to release excess coating. Turn upright and balance funnels in cups or glasses. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Repeat coating and chilling process twice (tube ends should be completely filled after all layers are complete). After the third layer, chill for 15 minutes or until completely set.
    • Remove tape and waxed paper from tube ends. Gently push shell away from the tube end toward the cone. Holding the outside of the funnel with one hand and the inside with the other, twist shell a quarter turn to release the funnel (see photo B above right). Place cone side down on waxed paper. With a sharp knife, cut ends to within 1/4 inch of cone and discard; set cones aside.
    • Draw two 6-inch circles on a piece of waxed paper and place on a greased baking sheet. Evenly spread thick milk chocolate candy over each circle (see photo C above right). Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Remove waxed paper; return circles to waxed paper and set aside.
    • Dip pretzels into milk chocolate coating and place on waxed paper to set. Drizzle with white coating.
    • ASSEMBLY: If desired, place doily on serving plate. Place one chocolate circle on doily, smooth side up. Brush the edges of one cone with white coating and attach to chocolate circle.
    • Brush a small amount of white coating on the tube end of one funnel; attach tube ends of both funnels together (see photo D at right). Hold for 1 minute; let set. Brush edges of second cone with coating and place second chocolate circle on top, rough side up; let set.
    • With a sharp knife, cut pretzels to fit between the circles, about 6-1/4 inches. Brush milk chocolate coating on pretzel ends and attach to each side of hourglass. Garnish top and plate with curls and shavings if desired. Yield: Yield: 1 hourglass.

      Editor’s Note: White and milk chocolate confectionery coating is
    • found in the baking section of most grocery stores. It is sometimes labeled
    • “almond bark” or “candy coating” and is often sold in bulk packages of 1 to 1-1/2 pounds. Finished size: Hourglass is 6 inches wide x 6-1/2 inches high. the white confectionery coating with food coloring to match the decorating scheme for your party. You can also make matching “glasses” for each guest. Simply follow the instructions and use slightly smaller fun funnels, remembering not to break off the long narrow ends that
    • form when you pour chocolate into the funnels. They will serve as stems for the glasses. Also, make smaller chocolate circles to serve as glass bases.