Archive | February, 2014

Drink Wine Day

winelovers calendarFebruary 18 is Drink Wine Day! Whether you’re a fan of red, white, or sparkling wines, today is the day to pop the cork and enjoy.

Made from fermented grapes and other fruits, wine is an alcoholic beverage that has been made and consumed for thousands of years. The earliest appearance of wine was in about 6000 B.C. Legends and stories abound with ancient humans becoming intoxicated off of fermented grapes, so it wasn’t long before people began to toy with the fermentation process, eventually creating wine. The first wine was created in the Eurasian state of Georgia, and soon spread to the Balkans and Ancient Greece and Rome. It wasn’t long before the rest of Europe began to catch up, and wine was eventually brought to the New World. Grapes grown for wine now cover about 20 million acres across the world. The top two wine producers in the world are typically Italy and France.

vineyards calendarThe health benefits of wine have been promoted for years. When consumed in moderation, some experts have said that red wine can improve heart health, prevent the formation of kidney stones, and inhibit the development of certain cancers. It can also boost immunity and increase bone density. Too much alcohol consumption is dangerous for your health, but a glass of wine now and then never hurt anyone!

You can celebrate today any way you like just as long as you’ve got a glass of wine in your hand. We suggest going to a local wine bar for a tasting or sampling of several different wines. If you’ve got a lot of free time today, you could even travel to a nearby winery and become educated on how wine is made from start to finish. Another excellent way to celebrate is to stop at a grocery or liquor store, pick up a few bottles, and host your very own wine tasting party at home!

Happy Drink Wine Day!

Sources: World’s Special Days, Examiner.com, Punchbowl

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National Café au Lait Day

coffee calendarFebruary 17 is National Café au Lait Day! Café au lait is a French coffee drink, consisting of coffee with hot milk added. The name is literally translated from French as “coffee with milk.”

We’re not sure why this day was chosen to honor this delicious coffee beverage, but if you need a pick-me-up, then today is the perfect day to celebrate! In Europe, café au lait is usually prepared using an espresso machine, mixing espresso with steamed milk. To contrast, in the United States, café au lait is usually made using a dark roasted drip or French press prepared coffee with steamed milk added.

The beverage gained a significant amount of popularity in New Orleans, where the well-known cafe, Café du Monde, located in the French Quarter, serves a popular version which includes the addition of chicory to their coffee. The chicory has a slightly bitter flavor that offsets the taste of beignets, which are deep-fried pastries covered in powdered sugar. Though café au lait has become a favored coffee drink for many, there are some who think adding milk to your coffee detracts from the flavor of the coffee too much. French author Honoré de Balzac once called café au laits a “ludicrous” drink.

While we suggest going to your favorite coffee shop to get a café au lait today, you can also make this caffeinated drink at home. Here are a few recipes for you to try out:

Sources: Wikipedia, Food.com, Examiner.com

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Do a Grouch a Favor Day

grouchFebruary 16 is Do a Grouch a Favor Day. Is there someone in your life who constantly has a sour face on? Someone who passes the time with pessimism? Someone whose spirit animal is Grumpy Cat? Today is the perfect day to bring a smile to someone’s face who can be classified as having a “perma-frown.”

The origin of this holiday and why it falls on this particular February day is unknown, but we think it’s a great chance to make the world a little brighter and a little less grim, even if it is for just one person. Now, we’re not saying we haven’t experienced our own form of grouchiness from time to time. Sometimes you don’t get enough sleep or the sunshine hasn’t been out in days or your boss, significant other, parent, teacher, or whoever else just won’t stop nagging you. Everyone has their grumpy days, and everyone appreciates it when someone does something nice for them, so why not use the latter to help cure the former? Find a way to alleviate the situation of that person who seems like they’re angry at the world today.

Whether you buy this person a gift, big or small, lend an ear to their problems, or just give them a sincere compliment, anything can be helpful in making a grouch less grouchy. Even if your attempts fail, at least they’ll put a smile on your face.

Now get out there and turn some frowns upside down!

Sources: Holiday Insights, Examiner.com, Yahoo

 

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First Teddy Bear Sold

charliebearOn February 15, 1903, the first Teddy bear went on sale at a toy store in Brooklyn. The name ‘Teddy’ was borrowed from the nickname of then president, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy bears have since become one of the most popular stuffed animal gift items to signify love, congratulations, or sympathy.

Roosevelt traveled to Mississippi in November of 1902 to help settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. After the issue was resolved, Roosevelt went on a hunting expedition to relieve stress. In this famous incident, Roosevelt’s hunting guides had tied an injured black bear to a tree for him to kill. Though the details about the incident are unclear – like the age of the bear or the exact reason behind Roosevelt’s reaction – the most popular consensus is that upon seeing the bear, Roosevelt said he did not hunt prey who could not fight back and let the bear go. Clifford Berryman, who was a political cartoonist, witnessed the incident and based what was to become an extremely popular cartoon off the event. He titled it “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” and it featured Roosevelt in hunting garb ordering a small bear cub to be released. It was published in the Washington Post a few days later, and the name ‘Teddy bear’ was spawned from this.

The original teddy bear cartoon featured in the Washington Post.

The original teddy bear cartoon featured in the Washington Post.

Morris and Rose Mitchom were toy store owners and inventors who owned a small store in Brooklyn. Inspired by the popular cartoon, the two decided to create a replica of the bear in the cartoon and dubbed it ‘Teddy’s bear.’ Because they feared the president would be offended by the use of his name in correlation with a stuffed toy, they wrote and asked his permission. Several months later, the president finally responded, giving the Mitchoms permission but also expressing his doubt that the name would actually boost sales. He was wrong.

They displayed two bears Rose sewed in the window and both were snatched up in no time. People were soon requesting more be made, and the ecstatic Mitchoms promised to produce more. After a while, they began solely producing the popular toy. Roosevelt and the Republican party adopted the bear as their campaign symbol in 1904, and they were displayed at all White House functions. The original teddy bear is now on display in the Smithsonian Museum.

Sources: Examiner, Wikipedia, History.com

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Ferris Wheel Day

ferris wheel modelFebruary 14 is Ferris Wheel Day! This day celebrates the rotating wheel-shaped amusement ride featuring seats or capsules which stay upright, allowing riders to have a slow, elevated view of wherever they are.

Ferris Wheel Day is celebrated on February 14 as an homage to the Ferris wheel’s creator, George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., who was born on this day in 1859.  He created the original Ferris wheel in 1893 for the  World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This original Ferris wheel, also known as the Chicago Wheel, was 264 feet tall and was built to rival the Eiffel Tower, which made its debut a few years earlier in 1889 at the Paris Exposition. The original wheel held 36 cars, each able to hold 60 people, making the capacity for the wheel 2,160. It would complete two full revolutions in 20 minutes.

www.richard-seaman.com

The Singapore Flyer, the tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

The Ferris wheel has since become the single most common ride at state fairs across the United States. Ever since the original wheel was built in 1893, Ferris wheel creators have constantly tried to outdo each other in order to have the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. There have since been eight tallest-ever Ferris wheels, and the current record holder is the  Singapore Flyer which was opened in March 2008 and stands 541 feet tall.

Though state fairs are not commonly opened during this time of year, there are several permanent Ferris wheels across the world that are typically open year-round. If you’re not near one of these wheeled wonders, you can reminisce about the last time you rode a Ferris wheel and plan your next fair visit and subsequent Ferris wheel ride.

Happy Ferris Wheel Day!

Sources: Wikipedia, Holiday Insights, Yahoo

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World Radio Day

radio calendarFebruary 13 is World Radio Day! This day was created to raise awareness about the importance of radio and the significant role it plays in transmitting information, especially to those who are vulnerable or who are in remote communities without access to other communication devices.

World Radio Day was created on November 3, 2011 during the 36th General Conference of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), and the idea for the day was initially proposed by the Spanish Radio Academy in September 2010. The decision to celebrate the day on February 13 was made to commemorate the anniversary of the day the United Nations established United Nations Radio in 1946.

The discovery of radio waves was made in the mid-19th century, and the invention of the radio itself came in the late 19th and early 20th century, with a plethora of scientists contributing to its eventual creation and evolution.

Radio has since become the most used and easiest way relay information, to provide interchange between social groups, to save lives during natural and human-caused disasters, and to educate scores of people across the globe. It gives people everywhere the ability to widely engage with others discuss topics that effect them, and allows journalists to have a platform with which they can report news and stories.

Every year, World Radio Day is celebrated through planned activities and events put on by organizations and broadcasters around the world. UNESCO has used the day to follow through with their commitment to promote human rights and gender equality issues.

You can celebrate by tuning in to your favorite radio station and listening to music, news, talk shows, and whatever else you desire to hear.

Happy World Radio Day!

Sources: World Radio Day, UNESCO.org, Wikipedia, Time and Date

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Charles Schulz Dies

peanuts2014.plannercomp.inddOn February 12, 2000, cartoonist and Peanuts creator Charles Schulz died. He has come to be known as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, with many famous cartoonists since then citing him as a major influence on their work.

Born in 1922 in Minnesota, Schulz had an interest early on in life in sketching and comics. His family owned a very unusual dog named Spike who was known to eat weird inanimate objects like tacks and pins. Using his strange family pet as inspiration, Schulz often drew cartoons of the dog, and submitted one to Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, which they subsequently published. The drawing was captioned, “A hunting dog that eats pins, tacks and razor blades is owned by C. F. Schulz, St. Paul, Minn.” and “Drawn by ‘Sparky.’” ‘Sparky’ was a nickname given to Schulz by his uncle as a child. It was derived from Billy DeBeck‘s comic strip, Barney Googlein which there was a horse named ‘Spark Plug.’

Schulz was drafted during World War II, but during his service time, he never once shot his gun. When he returned from the war, he began cartooning regularly, and started a one-panel joke strip called L’il Folks. The series ran for three years in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and it was here that he first introduced a character named Charlie Brown, and a dog that closely resembled Snoopy. Charlie Brown was a somewhat autobiographical character for Schulz. In school, he was the youngest in his class, and thus very shy. He sold one of one-panel cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post in 1948, which was the first of 17 cartoons the publication would print of his. Schulz first attempted to syndicate his cartoon through the Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1948 as well, but was not successful.

peanutsdtd2014boxmech.inddBy 1950, Schulz had developed his cartoon into a four-panel strip and approached the United Feature Syndicate. They were interested, and after renaming the strip Peanuts to avoid confusion with other strips with names similar to L’il Folks, the new strip made its first appearance in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950. Peanuts slowly turned in to one of the most popular comic strips of all time, and at the height of its fame, it was published in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries, in 21 different languages. Schulz drew the comics for over 50 years, producing around 18,000 strips. He only took one vacation from drawing the strip for five weeks during his 75th birthday. During this time, reruns of his strip ran. It is estimated that Schulz earned around $40 million per year, accounting for the strips themselves, product endorsements, and other revenues.

He announced his retirement in late 1999, after finding out that his diagnosed colon cancer had metastasized. He died on February 12, 2000, after complications arose from his cancer. The last original Peanuts strip was published the day after his death, proving the late cartoonist’s prediction that the cartoon would outlive him. As well as being one of the most successful comic strips of all time, Peanuts was adapted for television and the stage, and his work inspired many great cartoonists who came after him. Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson, said of Schulz’s creation, “Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip, so even now it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes. The clean, minimalist drawings, the sarcastic humor, the unflinching emotional honesty, the inner thoughts of a household pet, the serious treatment of children, the wild fantasies, the merchandising on an enormous scale — in countless ways, Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.”

Sources: Wikipedia, Biography.com, Huffington Post

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Taylor Lautner’s Birthday

taylor_lautner300February 11 is Taylor Lautner’s birthday! The actor is best known for his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight film series.

Lautner was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1992, and began practicing karate heavily at the age of six. Within just one year, he was winning tournaments. After meeting the found of  Xtreme Martial Arts,  Michael Chaturantabut, he attended one of his karate camps and trained with him for the next several years. He received a black belt at the age of eight and won several junior world championships. Chaturantabut, who played the Blue Ranger in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescueconvinced Lautner to try out a career in acting. Lautner was already very active in many extracurricular activities at school, so he often flew back and forth from Michigan to Los Angeles for auditions before his family finally relocated to California.

After a string of minor television roles and voiceover work, Lautner landed his breakthrough role as Shark Boy in Robert Rodriguez’s The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-DFor three months, he lived in Austin, Texas while filming the movie. Three years later, in 2008, Lautner was pushed by his agent to go to an open casting call in Portland for the first screen adaptation of the widely popular Twilight series. The young actor auditioned for the role of Jacob Black, the Native American friend of the lead character, Bella Swan. With no knowledge of the series or the character, Lautner went into the audition and read lines with Kristen Stewart, who had already been cast in the role of Bella. He landed the role, not knowing that it would quickly propel him into celebrity status.

twilight calendarThe Twilight saga followed a love triangle between three characters – Bella, a human, Edward, a vampire, and Jacob (portrayed by Lautner), a werewolf. Though it was not given favorable reviews by critics, the movie was a commercial success due to its cult following, grossing $392 million worldwide. The adaptation of the second film was immediately picked up, though the director was hesitant to recast Lautner in the second film because of the major physical changes his character went to between the first and second part of the saga. To avoid being recast, Lautner gained almost 30 pounds of muscle to get himself into proper shape. He went on to star in the following four Twilight movies, which grossed a total of $3 billion worldwide. His role as Jacob Black built up a significant fanbase with people of all ages rooting for “Team Jacob.”

Lautner has taken on a few other projects including roles in romantic comedy Valentine’s Day, action flick Abduction, and comedy Grown Ups 2, though none have been as commercially successful as the Twilight series. Voted as one of People’s “100 Most Beautiful People” in 2009, Lautner has also been romantically linked to other young celebrities like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. In his spare time, he roots for some of his favorite sports teams like the University of Texas Longhorns and University of Michigan Wolverines and has been known to make home movies with his Shark Boy co-star, Taylor Dooley.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

Sources: IMDB, Wikipedia, Biography.com

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National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

creamcheesebrowniesFebruary 10 is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day! Regular brownies are already a delicious chocolate baked confection loved by many, but the addition of the somewhat savory and tangy cream cheese takes the popular dessert to an even more delectable level.

Desserts going by the name “brownie” have been around since the 1800s, but brownies as we enjoy them today can be traced back to 1906. The cake-like treat made its debut in 1906 in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. This first recipe, however, was much less sweet than brownie recipes that exist today as it only called for two squares of baking chocolate. As our sweet tooth has evolved over the years, so has the brownie, going from just a simple semi-sweet chocolate cake to elaborate chocolate confections loaded with extras. Popular additions include nuts, caramel, peanut butter, peppermint, fruit, and that extra something that makes this day so special – cream cheese.

Cream cheese is a very soft and mild cheese that is often known for its more savory qualities, but it is often used in other desserts. It is most often used in cheesecake, but when added to brownies, it gives the dessert an extra tart taste and makes the texture slightly more squishy. In addition to giving regular brownies another complementary flavor, when swirled in with brownie mix, it makes the treats have an attractive “marble” pattern.

To celebrate this sweet holiday, try out some of these various cream cheese brownie recipes!

Sources: Bubblenews, Punchbowl, Examiner.com

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Toothache Day

February 9 is Toothache Day – ouch! Toothaches are a sharp pain in the mouth, often centered around the tooth or gums. Why would anyone want to celebrate that?

The origin of this day is speculated to correspond with the day the Hershey Corporation was founded. Hershey is the largest producer of chocolate in North America, so the origin of this day coinciding with Hershey’s beginnings in 1894 makes sense. February 9 is also known as St. Apollonia Day. In 249 A.D., Apollonia, who was a Deaconess in Alexandria in Egypt, was attacked by a mob who knocked out her teeth. The Egyptian government had given the group permission to burn anyone who would not give up their Christianity. Refusing, Apollonia threw herself into the fire and took her own life. She was then made the Patron Saint of dentistry and toothaches.

Toothaches can be caused by any number of things, but the most common are cavities, wisdom teeth coming in, gum disease, a cracked tooth, infected dental pulp, jaw disease, or tooth root exposure. They can also be caused by more serious things such as heart problems like angina or a myocardial infarction, causing a referred pain in your mouth.

To celebrate Toothache Day, educate yourself on what you can do to keep yourself from going through this pain. Here are just a few ways:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day.
  • Flossing regularly.
  • Use mouthwash.
  • Eating foods that are beneficial to tooth health and consuming water with fluoride added.
  • Staying away from detrimental foods like those high in sugars.
  • Do not smoke.

Sources: Examiner.com, Holiday Insights, Gone-ta-pott

 

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