Archive | November, 2013

Kaley Cuoco’s Birthday

bigbangNovember 30 is Kaley Cuoco’s birthday! She is best known for her current role as Penny on CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory.

Kaley Cuoco was born on November 30, 1985 in Camarillo, California. Cuoco took up tennis when she was only 3 years old and became a nationally ranked amateur tennis player. She took lessons from Kathy Bryan, mother of famed twin tennis duo Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan, and has been one of their longtime friends. She began acting soon after that and made her first big acting debut in the movie Virtuosity in 1995 alongside actor Denzel Washington.

As a child, Cuoco appeared in six Barbie commericials, and was home schooled on the set, graduating high school at age 16. That same year, she took a starring role in the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules as the blonde bombshell daughter of John Ritter. She won a Teen Choice Award for this role, but the show was cancelled soon after the untimely death of Ritter. Following the cancellation of 8 Simple Rules, she took various roles in lesser-known television shows and films before landing the role of Billie Jenkins, a powerful young witch, in cult TV hit Charmed. The show’s producer stated that Cuoco’s role was originally brought on to create a spin-off for the show, but this idea never played out after Charmed was completed.

Cuoca began starring in the role of Penny in The Big Bang Theory, which has skyrocketed her into stardom, in September 2007. She plays a sassy ditzy aspiring actress who works at the Cheesecake Factory and lives across the hall from two nerdy scientists. Cuoca received $60,000 an episode at the show’s start, and now makes $350,000 per episode along with co-stars Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki. In the show’s seven seasons, she has received several awards for portraying Penny, and has also hosted the People’s Choice Awards and the Teen Choice Awards.

Since being on The Big Bang Theory, Cuoco has starred in a few movies and also became a regular in Priceline commercials alongside William Shatner. She also announced her recent engagement to pro tennis player, Ryan Sweeting.

Sources: Wikipedia, TV Guide

 

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Show Us Your Team Spirit or Wet Pets

Team Spirit BlogGet into the game! Dress in your favorite team’s colors or gear, snap a pic and share it with us for a chance to win! It’s time for the hours you’ve spent in the bleachers or as an armchair quarterback to pay off. If your photo comes out on top of the Leaderboard when the clock hits zero on January 31, you will win an amazing prize pack worth $100!

Wet Pet Blog

Nothing is funnier than a wet pet. Whether they’re in the bathtub, frolicking on the beach, or slipping into the pool, soaked animals make us smile. So, send in those drenched doggies, glistening guinea pigs, and clammy cats for a chance to win big! The wet pet with the most votes on January 31st will be the cover dog of our Wet Pet Calendar and get a fabulous prize pack from Calendars.com worth $75! The top 18 will be featured in the 18-Month WET PET Calendar from Calendars.com!

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Square Dance Day

squaredanceNovember 29 is Square Dance Day, so grab your partner and get ready to dosey doe! Square dancing usually involves four couples, or eight dancers, who all face each other in a square shape, with one couple forming each side of the square.

Square dancing originated in Europe in the 17th century, and was brought to the United States by Irish, Scottish, and English settlers. Square dancing has evolved into many different forms over the years, some including more dancers and a “caller” to call out cues and steps to dancers. One thing all square dances have in common is that they are all lively and energetic dances, and square dancing has been linked by medical studies to having many health benefits. A half hour of spirited square dancing can burn 200 to 400 calories.

This spirited dance is still largely popular in the Western and Southern United States, and gained recognition with its association with the romanticized version of the American cowboy. Lloyd Shaw began heavily promoting the Traditional Western Square Dance in the 1930s by gathering traditional dance steps from callers all over the country so the dance could be standardized, preserved, and taught to anyone willing to learn. Since the 1970s, the International Association of Square Dance Callers has promoted this standardization, making it easy for anyone to learn the traditional dances. The Square Dance has been named the official state dance of 19 states in the United States.

If you would like to learn how to square dance at home, check out this video!

Sources: Wikipedia, Enfield Patch, Holiday Insights

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James Naismith Dies

University of Kansas basketball team in 1899 with coach James Naismith.

University of Kansas basketball team in 1899 with coach James Naismith.

On November 28, 1939, James Naismith, better known as the inventor of basketball, died.

Naismith was born in Ontario, Canada in 1861. He attended McGill University in Montreal and became one of their all-star athletes, participating in Canadian football, lacrosse, soccer, rugby, and gymnastics for the school. After receiving his BA is Physical Education, he became McGill’s first Athletic Director, but left the school to become a physical education teacher at the YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891.

Because of the extremely cold New England winters, Naismith’s students were confined to the indoor gym and thus became too rowdy to handle. The head of the Springfield YMCA Physical Education gave Naismith 14 days to come up with a game that would occupy the students as an “athletic distraction” and would also keep track athletes in shape. He also specified that Naismith create a fair game that would not be as rough as other sports. Naismith was inspired in his game creation by a game he used to play as a child called, “duck-on-a-rock.” Players would throw a small rock at a “duck” placed on top of a larger rock in an attempt to knock the duck down. The three main components of the game were team spirit, marksmanship, and passing. He thought these three qualities would be a perfect way to distract the unruly students while maintaining a high level of physical activity.

The first game of basketball was played with two peach baskets fixed 10 feet above the ground, and a soccer ball. After making a few changes, like changing the baskets out for hoops with nets, Naismith wrote the 13 basic rules of basketball. Basketball was made international in 1893 by the YMCA movement. Naismith joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1898 and the men’s basketball program there started, just six years after Naismith wrote the official rules for the sport. Ironically, Naismith was Kansas’ only coach with a losing record in the game.

Basketball was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1936, and since then Naismith has received many awards and had basketball awards named after him. He retired from his duties at Kansas state in 1937, with almost 40 years as a member of the faculty and athletic direction under his belt. He died just 2 years later in 1939 from a brain hemorrhage in Lawrence, Kansas.

Sources: About.com, Wikipedia, Buzzle

 

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Pins and Needles Day

November 27 is Pins and Needles Day! When you hear “pins and needles,” you probably think of the common phrase used to describe waiting in anxious anticipation of something or that feeling you get when one of your limbs “falls asleep.” Pins and Needles Day was actually created to commemorate the opening of the pro-labor union musical Pins and Needles on November 27, 1937.

In the late 1930s, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union was holding their meetings in New York’s Princess Theater. The union soon decided to sponsor an inexpensive revue starring union workers. Pins and Needles spoofed current events in a critical yet lighthearted way from a pro-union stance. The show evolved and skits were adjusted to stay topical with what was going on in current events at the time. It became so popular that the workers were able to quit their jobs to perform on a full-time schedule. In 1938, the cast performed the revue at the White House for President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The show closed on June 22, 1940 and ran for 1,108 performances. Now that’s something to celebrate!

Unfamiliar with the musical? Think of Pins and Needles Day as a day of anxious suspense or nervous anticipation… for the approaching holidays perhaps.  Or you can celebrate paresthesia, the tingly, prickly sensation you get when a limb  “falls asleep” and recovers from numbness, as this feeling is often referred to as feeling like “pins and needles.”‘

…Or if you like to sew and, thus, frequently use pins and needles, celebrate that: sew something!

Whichever option you choose to celebrate, Happy Pins and Needles Day!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Wikipedia

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Shopping Reminder Day

Christmas is in one month, so it is fitting that November 26 has been labeled, “Shopping Reminder Day.”

Gather up those Christmas wishlists, slap on your most comfortable sneakers, and head out into the ominous world of holiday shopping. If you start now, you will beat the last-minute rush and save yourself severe amounts of stress. If you would rather not go through the physical activity of traveling from store to store to find all your loved ones’ presents, remember the wonderful world of online retail exists to quell some of your shopping woes. Just be sure to order your gifts early to allow enough time for them to be shipped to you.

Looking to save some cash this holiday season? Find holiday shopping tips and tricks at goodhousekeeping.com and realsimple.com. Then head to the National Retail Federation’s website for even more tips, including time-saving and safety tips.

Happy shopping!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Cute Calendar

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National Parfait Day

FreshFruitParfaitNovember 25 is National Parfait Day! Literally meaning “perfect” in French, parfaits are the perfect way to make any sour day a little more sweet.

Parfaits originated as a frozen dessert in France in 1894, and were traditionally made with sugar syrup, cream, and eggs. Parfaits in the United States differ slightly, but many different takes on the parfait have been created. You can go with a more desert like parfait that layers ice cream, parfait cream, Jell-O, and whipped cream or the slightly healthier option of yogurt layered with granola, nuts, and fruit! Just as long as you create a sweet and creamy concoction in a tall glass, your parfait can include pretty much anything.

Here are some of the most scrumptious parfait recipes we could find – celebrate by trying one out!

Sources: Punchbowl, National Whatever Day, CNN Eatocracy

 

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Guys and Dolls Premieres

guysanddollsOn November 24, 1950, the musical Guys and Dolls premiered on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre. The musical was based on two short stories by Damon Runyon - ”The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown” and “Blood Pressure.” It ran for 1,200 performances and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It was the fifth longest running musical in New York City in the 1950s.

Damon Runyon was well-known for his stories highlighting the culture of Broadway in New York during the 1920s and 1930s. He often wrote humorous fiction pieces about gangsters, gamblers, and hustlers and used a mixture of formal language and colorful slang in his written dialogue. Realizing that the characters Runyon created and the tales he spun were the perfect basis for a musical comedy, a team of New York creatives banded together to bring the musical to life.  Songwriter Frank Loesser, producers Cy Feuer and Ernest Martin, book writer Abe Burrows, and choreographer Michael Kidd were all native New Yorkers who related to the characters of Runyon’s stories and knew other New Yorkers would as well if they brought his stories to life.

The story followed the blossoming romance between gambler Sky Masterson and Salvation Army-esque missionary Sarah Brown. Nathan Detroit, another gambler, strikes up a wager with Sky, betting Sky that he won’t be able coax a “doll” of Nathan’s choice to go to dinner with him in Havana. The doll Nathan chooses is the very pious Sarah. Nathan’s side story involves the tricky set up of a floating craps game and his rocky love life with his fiancée of 14 years, Miss Adelaide, who is determined to marry Nathan. Other lively characters from sassy showgirls to avid gamblers fill in the missing pieces of the musical to round out an ostentatious and timeless show.

Guys and Dolls was met with immediate approval and success, and has been reprised both on the big screen in 1955 featuring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra and in productions all over the world, including some more recent Broadway revivals.

Sources: Wikipedia, PBS

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When is Thanksgiving in 2013?

November 28, 2013

Learn more about Thanksgiving.

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Eat a Cranberry Day

cranberryNovember 23 is Eat a Cranberry Day! Cranberries are small deep red-colored fruits that commonly grow on shrubs or vines in bogs in the Northern Hemisphere.

Cranberries might be small, but their long list of health benefits earn the cranberry “superfruit” status. Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins that inhibit bacteria related to UTIs, gum disease and stomach ulcers and are loaded with antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may fight off heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Cranberry came from the word “craneberry” which is what European settlers first called the fruit because the long stem and flowers on cranberry bushels resembled the head of a crane.

Celebrate by eating as many cranberries as you can and by reading up on this superfruit’s health benefits. Follow these links to learn more:

Also, be sure to try out some of these various cranberry themed recipes!

Sources: Wikipedia, National Whatever Day

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