Please tell me if you know one person on the face of this earth who doesn’t go into absolute happy-fits when they see a ladybug – seriously – do you know of just one?

If you do, then you’re a rare bird because these little bright red orbs of delight never cease to pop a happy into my day.  And did you know that these little boogers pack a boat load of symbolism underneath those shiny red wings?

Here’s your history lesson for the day:

Throughout the centuries, ladybugs have always made farmers happy, as their arrival announces a huge decrease in the aphid population.  Keeping it simple here, no aphids = no crop damage = more crop yield = more produce = more income and fuller bellies.  Good start, no?

The whole world seems to have a happy connection with ladybugs!

* The Irish view ladybugs as a symbol of protection (although they’re not big enough to hoist a shotgun on an intruder or anything).

* Asian lore says that if you catch a ladybug and release it, this crafty little critter will fly off to find the love of your life, whisper your name in said life-love’s ear, and hence inspire them to find you and proceed to commence establishing a love connection that will last forever (or something along those lines)

* There seems to be a Swedish belief that if a ladybug lands on a girl’s hands and begins to crawl, it is measuring her hand for wedding gloves and she will marry soon.

* In the Burgundy region of France, it is believed that if a ladybug lands on a woman and she counts the number of spots on its back, this will fortell the number of children she will have.

Protection, good luck, good weather, good marriage – this little bug inspires wonderful thoughts around the world.  So why not greet your out of town wedding guests with a Love Bug Welcome Bag! (Oh my we’re going to have fun with this one!).

Let’s center this bag around one special take-away favor – Love Bug Magnets!  They come packaged in the cutest little picket fence box and their spots are hearts!  How perfect! And you can find them for under $3.00.   Practical, cute, useful, colorful and filled with love and luck!

If you’ve got tons of money to throw around, you can find a million seven different lady bug-themed products to buy.  But if you’re like most of us, you want to do something cute and special and full of lasting memories without breaking what’s left of the bank.  Let’s make a stop at the local arts and crafts store to get started…

You’re going to need to pick up a few small, white craft shopping bags.  They’re pretty cheap, and if you’re buying in bulk – say, 50-100, find the manager and ask for a discount.  Shoot, worst he can say is no, right?

And we’ll need to decorate the outside of that bag.  Here are a few suggestions:

Buy a ladybug craft punch (you can order one from HSN).    Punch a ladybug border around the top, then fill the bag with  red tissue for that peek-a-boo ladybug effect.  OR, you can punch bugs out of red craft paper and glue them around and about the bag.

Buy some black and white polka dotted craft ribbon.  It’s pretty cheap, too.  Glue it in a border around the top of the bag, or use doublestick tape.  Here’s a hint – cut the ribbon just a bit longer that the diameter of the bag, then fold each end under at the point where the ribbon meets.  Too much troube?  Then tie a loopy bow around one of the handles – that works well, too! 

Purchase some craft foam in red and black, and make yourself some easy Ladybug critters to adorn your gift bag.  Or cut out a ladybug tag, poke a hole at the top, and write a little welcome note for your guests using a white pain pen – perfect touch!

bug

Now for the contents!

Get some green shred from the craft store – or use green tissue to cushion your contents.  Green complements red – and makes the whole presentation POP!

  • Candy’s always nice for a quick pick me up – chocolate ladybugs anyone? These are available from The Chocolate Store.
  • 

  • Want to add that straight-from-the-heart homemade touch?  Ladybug cookies!  Here’s a cute idea (plus recipe) from Taste of Home.
  • 

Finishing up…

Add a couple of bottles of water, a free map of the city from your local Chamber of Commerce,  and you’re wedding welcome bag is ready to go.

How fun!  And see – you don’t have to load it up with stuff – just a few, thoughtfully creative goodies and you’ve said your “Thank You” in a truely heartfelt way!

Celebrating Ladybugs and Good Luck for your wedding today!

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!


Ho-Ho-Ho!  I just read Reality Steve.  This caused me to want to talk about Christmas because Reality Steve just informed me that Bachelor Jake might only be 5’8″ tall.  Being 5’11” and, now quite suddenly, a former Jake devotee (yes, the husband knows), I’m crushed.

Which brings me to Christmas.  I really did do an eco-Christmas thing this year.  One teeny tiny live tree (or formerly live tree-before it was chopped off at the knees).  Home made ornaments (they’ve been around for a while), nature’s bounty provided the greenery (along with some old, non-homemade ornaments from the Dollar Store and some recycled ribbons from Christmas Gifts Past).  Here are the pics (and no, I’m still not a professional photographer so, well, sorry).

There’s actually all kind of memories and trips and gifts and Things from Gardens Past in those ornaments.  Maybe one day we’ll talk about them.  But not today.  I’m still crushed about Jake.

Who knew he was short?

Celebrating Christmas Memories today, as they briefly distracted me from my irrational heartbreak.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday.

Holy crud! It took me a good ten minutes to convince me to go outside, get in the car, and drive 20 miles to work.  This is what greeted me in my 2008 Honda Refrigerator…

One would THINK that, with a few shivering minutes of car-warming that number would improve.  Oh no.  Down to 16 once the wheels began to roll.

Then there was the gas station.  Lucky in the draw this morning, I needed gas.  Local Citgo.  Plug in card, remove v e r y  s l o w l y (my little act of rebellion at the gas pump – makes me happy).  Punch in billing zip code.  Stupid screen says “flip lever, see cashier”.  One quick check reassures me that there is no lever.  60 yard walk to the cashier in his little cage (he was inside, I was outside).  Mildly apologetic and blamed gas pump issue on weather (o-yeh-shure).  Click, click inside the heated cage – look, cock head – click click he goes again while I try to graciously remove the icicle from my nose.

“Now – we should be good!” he says proudly – completely ignoring the fact that he’s inside and I’m outside so there’s really no “we” to “good” at the moment.

They tell me the wind chill is ten.  I think it’s more like one,  heading south.

60 yards back to the car.  Pump no workie.  60 yards back to the cage.  More clicks, more head cocks – “Try it now”.

60 yards back to the car.  Pump no workie.  60 yards back to the cage (I notice that he’s mysteriously disappeared from view).  Walk up to window, look down, he’s on the floor adjusting the heater.  This is so not funny.  I knock on window.

“Hey!  This is not a fun game and I don’t want to play anymore!”

The head cock this time was combined with a scowl, not from empathy but from the dawning knowledge that he’s going to have to come outside with me.  Karma sucks, doesn’t it?  But sometimes it sucks for other people, and that makes it periodically fun.

He dashed the 60 yards to the car, fiddled with the pump and the buttons at lightening speed, dashed back to the cage (I’m catching on by now – I haven’t moved) – passes me without saying anything – goes back inside to his heater and says through the little speaker – “Try it now”.

I did.  It worked.  I’m here and with that we end our temporary blog hiatus with renewed vigor for an interesting 2010.  Here are my New Years blog resolutions:

1.  I will blog at least once a week (probably more – but I don’t want to set the bar too high.  Might be other interesting things I need to do “out there”.)

2.  I will remain positive about everything no matter what the cost.

3.  I will try my darndest to provide you with interesting content.  (Unfortunately, that actually means what’s interesting for me – but maybe you’ll like it?)

So Joyeux 2010 to all and remember – we’ll be trying to Celebrate Something (interesting, not interesting, benign, totally kool – you name it) Everyday!

I think this is cute – enjoy!

Celebrating new babies today! (I just found out my friend is pregnant with her first – woo hoo!)

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Every year around this time I get questions about how to cook asparagus.  Don’t know why, just happens.

So to go on record for posterity and eternity, here are my thoughts on asparagus (and if you’re one of those people who turns up a nose, I ask you to think again).

Firstly and formostly (yes- spell check and I both know that’s not a word), forget right now that canned asparagus even exists.  Even if you’re having a dry spell on the fresh stuff, never, ever, ever turn to the can.  I think there are support groups available if you’re having trouble with this.

Buying

It’s true what they say about studying the tippy-tops of asparagus.  Look for tight, perky tops (and get your mind out of the gutter).  Wilted, gushy tops are the signal to step away.  You want tight and perky tops. Check?

Big ‘n Fat vs. Lean ‘n Mean

Big and fat usually = tough and fibrous.  But there is hope, and we’ll discuss that in a minute.  If they have perky tops and you’re asparagus ravenous, go ahead and purchase.  Details shortly.

Lean and mean = tender, crisp and easy to prepare (as long as they have – you guessed it – perky tops).

Prep

Fill a sink or a big bowl with fresh, cold water and dump in the asparagus.  Let it languorously soak for a good five minutes.  Drain and rinse.

For lean and mean stalks, simply snap off the tough bottom portion by holding stalk in one hand, grasping the bottom end between thumb and index finger, and bend until it pops off.  Asparagus is real smart.  It knows where to snap off at the tough part.  Amazing!

For big and fat stalks, you’re going to need to grab a sharp paring knife and pare down the stalk to the more tender park.  Then cut off the fibrous ends.

Roast or steam?

Big and fat = best for roasting

Lean and mean = best for steaming

So how?

Here are my favorite ingredients for cooking asparagus.  Funny thing – you can mix and match any of the below to make great asparagus.

  • Diced red and yellow bell peppers
  • Cavendar’s seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • butter
  • minced garlic
  • minced red onion

Roasting ideas for big and fat

  • Drizzle olive oil over the stalks and rub them around until entirely coated in a lite layer.  Place in a single layer in a Pyrex baking dish.  Sprinkle with Cavendars, roast 5-8 minutes at 350 degrees (please pre-heat the oven).  Test for fork tenderness.  Drizzle with lemon juice before serving.
  • Pour some olive oil in a big plastic bag.  Add minced garlic (the kind in the jar is fine), a pinch or two of Kosher salt, and some melted butter (that’s right – butter).  Dump in the asparagus – shake wildly – remove, layer in pan and proceed as above.

Steaming ideas for lean and mean

Lay asparagus spears in single layer of pyrex baking dish.  A cool way to do this is half and half – place half of the asparagus, cut end to the outside of the pan, and then meet on the other side with another row of asparagus, cut end out.  Seems to protect the tender young ends.

In a bottle (or something handy), mix 8 tbsp. of water with 3 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, pinch of kosher salt, and about 1/4 cup of minced red and yellow bell pepper.  When thoroughly mixed, pour over asparagus.  Seal dish with good quality plastic wrap.  Stick it in the microwave, and nuke for about 2.5 to 3 minutes on full power.  Allow to set for about 3 minutes, then carefully remove the wrap (there’s some mighty hot steam in there – don’t burn yourself).  Then serve either warm or at room temperature.

Leftovers?

Make a marinate of olive oil, cavendars, minced red onion and either some balsamic or red wine vinegar.  Marinate overnight and then chop up to use in a salad (yum!).

Celebrating Asparagus Aspirations today.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Hint/tip:  Looking for a neat-o and nifty dinner party favor?  Purchase some of these little cuties and mix about 1 tsp. Cavendars seasoning per favor into olive oil, fill and present – tasty and useful! 😉

If you’re reading this, then you survived Thanksgiving.  Hope it was great for you.  Here’s the short list from mine (and also an apology of sorts for not posting in FOREVER):

  • We hosted
    • Which means two pre-Thanksgiving weeks of mad cleaning and cooking
      • Husband will happily quote my mantra during that time for you – “If it’s considered a SURFACE, honey, CLEAN IT!” (he is now traumatized by base boards, btw – his therapist is DElighted!)
  • 11 guests, 3 dogs, 2 kittens
  • 1 awful, awful, awful computer virus that took 7 days to fix (a HUGE thank you to the developers of Security Tool virus.  I hope you rot in some truly nasty, hot place for 15 years without water or food while having to stare at the same Viagra ad you kept popping up on my computer every single solitary day – seriously).
  • Menu:
    • Appetizers:  veggie tray, fruit tray, stuffed brie (Thank You Whole Foods), Georgia Peach and Vidalia Onion spread (thank you creme cheese – you will always be my most trusted friend), Marinated Shrimp Salad with artichoke hearts
    • Main Event
      • Turkey and Ham
      • Mama’s dressing (there is nothing like it on this earth – passed down from generations and I still don’t know how to make it)
      • Cranberry sauce and cranberry relish
      • Two – count ’em – two kinds of gravy
      • Relish tray with black olives, sweet tiny pickles, corn relish, and mild chow chow (I am SO into trays at big feasts – adds color and yum-pop)
      • Stuffed eggs
      • Fresh creamed corn with roasted red peppers (email me for the recipe – amazing!)
      • Fresh pink-eye purple-hull peas (say that 3 times real fast)
      • Roasted asparagus
      • Sliced Tennessee Tomatoes (the Thanksgiving miracle – they were GOOD)
      • Marinated cucumbers
      • Garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes
      • Green bean casserole
      • Fresh, home-made crescent rolls
      • Sauerkraut (a concession I make every year in order to stay married)
    • And dessert – home-made pumpkin pie, fresh Georgia Mountain apple pie, chocolate bundt cake

Did I miss anything?  Probably.

Now as you may suspect, I’m a little testy right now looking for whoever made the nasty decision to cram Thanksgiving and Christmas into the last two months of the year.  But here’s what’s coming up –

  • Decorating the world’s tiniest live Christmas tree (after the above, I’m into small and quick-but-to-the-point)
  • Stalking orphaned-but-fully-developed Magnolia trees in Northeast Georgia – going natural with the decorations this year.  Pictures to follow.
  • An ornament exchange for the liddle kiddles
  • One big Holiday Feed for work (which will also include the aforementioned magnolia leaves and yes – pictures to follow)

So bear with me.  This year I’m the Anti-Consumer Christmas Decorations Warrior and I promise to bring you along on the journey.  Mama Nature offers waaaay too much good stuff for free.  You just need a glue gun and some determination.

Celebrating the crammed-together-holidays – and still trying to make them special while remaining sane (whatever the heck that is).

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

I love the quirky turkey in the middle of the table.  Bought him two years ago at the Dollar Tree to take on the plane with us Thanksgiving Day as we escaped to Turks & Caicos.  His dollar-self will be with me forever!

 

that even though I haven’t been blogging here since early January, some of you kind peeps are still reading  – from all over the world no less!  Whoa!  Thank you!  (I may just need to clone myself and get back to blogging again.)

I see there is a lot of international interest in wedding favours.  So – until I figure out the clone thing – let me point you to this site for wedding favours – some really cute and clever wedding favours if I may say so myself!  Kate Aspen – the lovely company in the business of saying thank you to your wedding guests in a graceful and elegant way – now has a website just for brides in the UK!

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I know you’ll find something you love!

Happy browsing!

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