candy cane

Candy cane
Candy-Cane-Classic thumbnail.png

A traditional candy cane
Alternative names Peppermint stick
Type Confectionery
Place of origin Germany
Main ingredients Sugar, flavoring (often peppermint)

candy cane is a cane-shaped stick candy often associated with Christmastide,[1] as well as Saint Nicholas Day.[2] It is traditionally white with red stripes and flavored with peppermint, but may also be a variety of other flavors and colors.

Origin[edit]

An early 1900s Christmas card image of candy canes

According to folklore, in 1670, in CologneGermany, the choirmaster at Cologne Cathedral, wishing to remedy the noise caused by children in his church during the Living Crèche tradition of Christmas Eve, asked a local candy maker for some “sugar sticks” for them.[3][4][5][6] In order to justify the practice of giving candy to children during worship services, he asked the candy maker to add a crook to the top of each stick, which would help children remember the shepherds who visited the infant Jesus.[3][4][5] In addition, he used the white colour of the converted sticks to teach children about the Christian belief in the sinless life of Jesus.[3][4][5] From Germany, candy canes spread to other parts of Europe, where they were handed out during plays reenacting the Nativity.[4][6] As such, according to this legend, the candy cane became associated with Christmastide.[1]

The earliest verifiable reference to stick candy is a record of the 1837 Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, where confections were judged competitively.[7] A recipe for straight peppermint candy sticks, white with coloured stripes, was published in 1844.[8] The “candy cane” is found in literature in 1866, though no description of color or flavor was provided.[9] Its earliest known association with Christmas was in 1874,[10]and by 1882 canes were being hung on Christmas trees

1122 spring cypress rd spring TX 77373

Green Monday and Cyber Monday

Green Monday is an online retail industry term similar to Cyber Monday. The term was coined by eBay in 2007 to describe the best sales day in December, usually the second Monday of December. Green Monday is defined more specifically by business research organization comScore as the last Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas.

Image result for green Monday

In 2009, $854 million was spent online in the US on Green Monday, with sales in 2011 reaching $1.133 billion. In 2012, Green Monday topped out at $1.27 billion, up 13% from 2011 and the third heaviest online sales day for the season behind Cyber Monday and Dec. 4, 2012 (which had no marketing tie-in), according to comScore. In 2014, Green Monday online sales grossed a record $1.6 billion, albeit still lower than Cyber Monday’s $2.68 billion during the same year.

Employers and online shopping

U.S. employers have been cracking down on employees using company equipment and company time for non-work-related purposes, including Cyber Monday. As of November 2011, 22% of employers had fired an employee for using the Internet for non-work related activity; 7% of human resource managers surveyed had fired an employee for holiday shopping; and 54% of employers were blocking employees from accessing certain websites.  According to CareerBuilder’s annual Cyber Monday survey, more than half of workers (53%) say they spend at least some work time holiday shopping on the Internet, up 3% from 2015. Of this group, 43% spend an hour or more doing so, compared to 42% from 2015.

Image result for CYBER MONDAY IMAGES

Other countries

Argentina

According to Argentine press, Cyber Monday was celebrated on November 11, 2014, and marked a tenfold growth in users taking advantage of online sales over the previous year.

Canada

Cyber Monday came to Canada in 2008. The National Post featured an article, in the November 25, 2010, edition, stating that the parity of the Canadian dollar with the US dollar caused many Canadian retailers to have Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales of their own. According to the article, an estimated 80% of Canadians were expected to participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Speculation has been made that with all major US television broadcasters—which are typically available to Canadians—emphasizing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for stores that are also doing business in Canada, Canadian retailers needed to mimic sales offerings in order to keep Canadian dollars from being spent in the US.

By 2011, around 80% of online retailers in Canada were participating in Cyber Monday.

Chile

Chile’s first Cyber Monday took place on November 28, 2011. The companies participating in the event are participants in the Santiago Chamber of Commerce’s Electronic Commerce Committee. In 2015 the Chilean Cyber Monday had 85 stores participating, 390.000 transactions and US$83 million in sales. 36% of that was mobile. In 2016 Cyber Monday will be held on November 7. 140 companies are registered as official partners.

Colombia

The first Cyber Monday in Colombia took place on November 26, 2012. It was organized by the Colombian Chamber of Electronic Commerce and sponsored by the Ministry of IT and Telecommunications.

India

India got its own version of the Cyber Monday (Great Online Shopping Festival) on December 12, 2012 when Google India partnered with many e-commerce companies including Flipkart, Snapdeal, HomeShop18, Indiatimes shopping, and MakeMyTrip. Google said that this was the first time an industry-wide initiative of this scale was undertaken. In November 2015, Google announced that the event would not be repeated.

Japan

Amazon.co.jp announced it registered as Cyber Monday with Japan Anniversary Association in 2012. Amazon.co.jp ran the Cyber Monday Seven Day Sale from Dec 10 through December 16, 2012.

(information From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

 

CHRISTMAS TREE

Christmas tree

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Glade jul by Viggo Johansen (1891)

A young woman decorates the Christmas tree, painting by Marcel Rieder (1862–1942) from 1898

Christmas tree in Bethlehem, behind it Church of the Nativity, 2014

Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer such as sprucepine, or fir or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas. The modern Christmas tree was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) and early modern Germany, where Protestant Germans brought decorated trees into their homes.[1][2] It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany[1][3]and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.[4]

The tree was traditionally decorated with “roses made of colored paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, [and] sweetmeats”. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garlandsbaublestinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem, respectively, from the Nativity.[5][6] Edible items such as gingerbreadchocolate and other sweets are also popular and are tied to or hung from the tree’s branches with ribbons.

In the Western Christian tradition, Christmas trees are variously erected on days such as the first day of Advent or even as late as Christmas Evedepending on the country;[7] customs of the same faith hold that the two traditional days when Christmas decorations, such as the Christmas tree, are removed are Twelfth Night and, if they are not taken down on that day, Candlemas, the latter of which ends the Christmas-Epiphany season in some denominations.[7][8]

The Christmas tree is sometimes compared with the “Yule-tree”, especially in discussions of its folkloric origins

History[edit]

 

Possible predecessors[edit]

From Northern Antiquities, an English translation of the Prose Edda from 1847. Painted by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

The relevance of ancient pre-Christian customs to the 16th-century German initiation of the Christmas tree custom is disputed. Resistance to the custom was often because of its supposed Lutheran origins.[12]

Other sources have offered a connection between the first documented Christmas trees in Alsace around 1600 and pre-Christian traditions. For example, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient EgyptiansChinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time.”[13]

During the Roman mid-winter festival of Saturnalia, houses were decorated with wreaths of evergreen plants, along with other antecedent customs now associated with Christmas.[14]

The modern Christmas tree is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, wherein Viking and Saxon worshiped trees.[14] The story of Saint Boniface cutting down Donar’s Oak illustrates the pagan practices in 8th century among the Germans. A later folk version of the story adds the detail that an evergreen tree grew in place of the felled oak, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven.[15][16]

Alternatively, it is identified with the “tree of paradise” of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.[10][11][17][18][19][20]

At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor appears referred in the Regiment of the Order of Cister around 1400, in Alcobaça, Portugal. The Regiment of the local high-Sacristans of the Cistercian Order refers to what may be considered one of the oldest references to the Christmas tree: “Note on how to put the Christmas branch, scilicet: On the Christmas eve, you will look for a large Branch of green laurel, and you shall reap many red oranges, and place them on the branches that come of the laurel, specifically as you have seen, and in every orange you shall put a candle, and hang the Branch by a rope in the pole, which shall be by the candle of the altar-mor.”[21]

Modern Christmas trees originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther, who is said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree.[22][23][24]

The first recorded Christmas tree can be found on the keystone sculpture of a private home in Turckheim, Alsace (then part of Germany, today France), dating 1576.[25]

Georgia[edit]

Chichilaki, a Georgian Christmas tree variety

Georgians have their own traditional Christmas tree called Chichilaki, made from dried up hazelnut or walnut branches that are shaped to form a small coniferous tree. These pale-colored ornaments differ in height from 20 cm (7.9 in) to 3 meters (9.8 feet). Chichilakis are most common in the Guria and Samegrelo regions of Georgia near the Black Sea, but they can also be found in some stores around the capital of Tbilisi.[citation needed] Georgians believe that Chichilaki resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, because Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates St. Basil on January 1.

Poland[edit]

There was an old pagan custom, associated with Koliada, of suspending a branch of fir, spruce or pine called Podłaźniczka from the ceiling. The branches were decorated with apples, nuts, cookies, colored paper, stars made of straw, ribbons and colored wafers. Some people believed that the tree had magical powers that were linked with harvesting and success in the next year.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, these traditions were almost completely replaced by the German custom of decorating the Christmas tree.

Estonia, Latvia and Germany[edit]

Girl with Christmas tree, painting 1892 by Franz Skarbina (1849–1910)

Customs of erecting decorated trees in wintertime can be traced to Christmas celebrations in Renaissance-era guilds in Northern Germany and Livonia. The first evidence of decorated trees associated with Christmas Day are trees in guildhalls decorated with sweets to be enjoyed by the apprentices and children. In Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia), in 1441, 1442, 1510 and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays in their guild houses in Reval (now Tallinn) and Riga. On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square, where the members of the brotherhood danced around it.[26]

Bremen guild chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree decorated with “apples, nuts, dates, pretzels and paper flowers” was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members’ children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day.[27] In 1584, the pastor and chronicler Balthasar Russow in his Chronica der Provinz Lyfflandt (1584) wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated spruce at the market square, where the young men “went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”.

After the Protestant Reformation, such trees are seen in the houses of upper-class Protestant families as a counterpart to the Catholic Christmas cribs. This transition from the guild hall to the bourgeois family homes in the Protestant parts of Germany ultimately gives rise to the modern tradition as it developed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

18th to early 20th centuries[edit]

Germany[edit]

A little Christmas tree on the table, painting by Ludwig Blume-Siebert in 1888

By the early 18th century, the custom had become common in towns of the upper Rhineland, but it had not yet spread to rural areas. Wax candles, expensive items at the time, are found in attestations from the late 18th century.

Along the lower Rhine, an area of Roman Catholic majority, the Christmas tree was largely regarded as a Protestant custom. As a result, it remained confined to the upper Rhineland for a relatively long period of time. The custom did eventually gain wider acceptance beginning around 1815 by way of Prussian officials who emigrated there following the Congress of Vienna.

In the 19th century, the Christmas tree was taken to be an expression of German culture and of Gemütlichkeit, especially among emigrants overseas.[28]

A decisive factor in winning general popularity was the German army’s decision to place Christmas trees in its barracks and military hospitals during the Franco-Prussian War. Only at the start of the 20th century did Christmas trees appear inside churches, this time in a new brightly lit form.[29]

1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD SPRING TX 77373

 

blackberry

The blackberry is an edible fruit produced by many species in the genus Rubus in the family Rosaceae, hybrids among these species within the subgenus Rubus, and hybrids between the subgenera Rubus and Idaeobatus. The taxonomy of the blackberries has historically been confused because of hybridization and apomixis, so that species have often been grouped together and called species aggregates. For example, the entire subgenus Rubus has been called the Rubus fruticosus aggregate, although the species R. fruticosus is considered a synonym of R. plicatus.[1]

Cultivated blackberries are notable for their significant contents of dietary fibervitamin C, and vitamin K (table).[10] A 100 gram serving of raw blackberries supplies 43 calories and 5 grams of dietary fiber or 25% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) (table).[10] In 100 grams, vitamin C and vitamin K contents are 25% and 19% DV, respectively, while other essential nutrients are low in content (table).

Blackberries contain both soluble and insoluble fiber components.

A bee, Bombus hypnorum, pollinating blackberries

Blackberry leaves are food for certain caterpillars; some grazing mammals, especially deer, are also very fond of the leaves. Caterpillars of the concealer moth Alabonia geoffrella have been found feeding inside dead blackberry shoots. When mature, the berries are eaten and their seeds dispersed by several mammals, such as the red fox and the Eurasian badger, as well as by small birds.[8]

A basket of wild blackberries

Blackberries grow wild throughout most of Europe. They are an important element in the ecology of many countries, and harvesting the berries is a popular pastime. However, the plants are also considered a weed, sending down roots from branches that touch the ground, and sending up suckersfrom the roots. In some parts of the world without native blackberries, such as in AustraliaChileNew Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest of North America, some blackberry species, particularly Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) and Rubus laciniatus (evergreen blackberry), are naturalisedand considered an invasive species and a serious weed.[4]

Blackberry fruits are red before they are ripe, leading to an old expression that “blackberries are red when they’re green”.[9]

In various parts of the United States, wild blackberries are sometimes called “black-caps”, a term more commonly used for black raspberries, Rubus occidentalis.

As there is evidence from the Iron Age Haraldskær Woman that she consumed blackberries some 2,500 years ago, it is reasonable to conclude that blackberries have been eaten by humans over thousands of years.

1122 Spring Cypress rd  Spring TX 77373

WHISKY

Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Various grains (which may be malted) are used for different varieties, including barleycornrye, and wheat. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels

It is possible that distillation was practised by the Babylonians in Mesopotamia in the 2nd millennium BC, with perfumes and aromatics being distilled,[9] but this is subject to uncertain and disputed interpretations of evidence.[10]

The earliest certain chemical distillations were by Greeks in Alexandria in the 1st century AD,[11] but these were not distillations of alcohol.

The medieval Arabs adopted the distillation technique of the Alexandrian Greeks, and written records in Arabic begin in the 9th century, but again these were not distillations of alcohol.[10]

Distilling technology passed from the medieval Arabs to the medieval Latins, with the earliest records in Latin in the early 12th century.[10][12]

The earliest records of the distillation of alcohol are in Italy in the 13th century, where alcohol was distilled from wine.[10] An early description of the technique was given by Ramon Llull (1232 – 1315).[10] Its use spread through medieval monasteries,[13] largely for medicinal purposes, such as the treatment of colic and smallpox.[14]

The art of distillation spread to Ireland and Scotland no later than the 15th century, as did the common European practice of distilling “aqua vitae”, spirit alcohol, primarily for medicinal purposes.[15] The practice of medicinal distillation eventually passed from a monastic setting to the secular via professional medical practitioners of the time, The Guild of Barber Surgeons.[15]The earliest mention of whisky in Ireland comes from the seventeenth-century Annals of Clonmacnoise, which attributes the death of a chieftain in 1405 to “taking a surfeit of aqua vitae” at Christmas.[16] In Scotland, the first evidence of whisky production comes from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where malt is sent “To Friar John Cor, by order of the king, to make aquavitae”, enough to make about 500 bottles.[17]

James IV of Scotland (r. 1488–1513) reportedly had a great liking for Scotch whisky, and in 1506 the town of Dundee purchased a large amount of whisky from the Guild of Barber Surgeons, which held the monopoly on production at the time. Between 1536 and 1541, King Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries, sending their monks out into the general public. Whisky production moved out of a monastic setting and into personal homes and farms as newly independent monks needed to find a way to earn money for themselves.[14]

The distillation process was still in its infancy; whisky itself was not allowed to age, and as a result tasted very raw and brutal compared to today’s versions. Renaissance-era whisky was also very potent and not diluted. Over time whisky evolved into a much smoother drink.

With a license to distill Irish whiskey from 1608, the Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world.[18]

In 1707, the Acts of Union merged England and Scotland, and thereafter taxes on it rose dramatically.[19]

A man pours some whisky into a flask in this 1869 oil painting by Scottish artist Erskine Nicol.

After the English Malt Tax of 1725, most of Scotland’s distillation was either shut down or forced underground. Scotch whisky was hidden under altars, in coffins, and in any available space to avoid the governmental excisemen or revenuers.[14] Scottish distillers, operating out of homemade stills, took to distilling whisky at night when the darkness hid the smoke from the stills. For this reason, the drink became known as moonshine.[20] At one point, it was estimated that over half of Scotland’s whisky output was illegal.[19]

In America, whisky was used as currency during the American RevolutionGeorge Washington operated a large distillery at Mount Vernon. Given the distances and primitive transportation network of colonial America, farmers often found it easier and more profitable to convert corn to whisky and transport it to market in that form. It also was a highly coveted sundry and when an additional excise tax was levied against it in 1791, the Whiskey Rebellion erupted.[21]

The drinking of Scotch whisky was introduced to India in the nineteenth century. The first distillery in India was built by Edward Dyer at Kasauli in the late 1820s. The operation was soon shifted to nearby Solan (close to the British summer capital Shimla), as there was an abundant supply of fresh spring water there.[22]

In 1823, the UK passed the Excise Act, legalizing the distillation (for a fee), and this put a practical end to the large-scale production of Scottish moonshine.[14]

In 1831, Aeneas Coffey patented the Coffey still, allowing for cheaper and more efficient distillation of whisky. In 1850, Andrew Usher began producing a blended whisky that mixed traditional pot still whisky with that from the new Coffey still. The new distillation method was scoffed at by some Irish distillers, who clung to their traditional pot stills. Many Irish contended that the new product was, in fact, not whisky at all.[23]

By the 1880s, the French brandy industry was devastated by the phylloxera pest that ruined much of the grape crop; as a result, whisky became the primary liquor in many markets.[14]

During the Prohibition era in the United States lasting from 1920 to 1933, all alcohol sales were banned in the country. The federal government made an exemption for whisky prescribed by a doctor and sold through licensed pharmacies. During this time, the Walgreens pharmacy chain grew from 20 retail stores to almost 400.[24]1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD SPRING TX 77373

TEQUILA

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila] (About this sound listen)) is a regional distilled beverage and type of alcoholic drink made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 km (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the central western Mexican state of Jalisco. Aside from differences in region of origin, tequila is a type of mezcal (and the regions of production of the two drinks are overlapping).[1] The distinction is that tequila must use only blue agave plants rather than any type of agave.[1] Tequila is commonly served neat in Mexico and as a shot with salt and lime across the rest of the world.

The red volcanic soil in the region around the city of Tequila is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.[2] Agave grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands Los Altos region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.[3]

Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of GuanajuatoMichoacánNayarit, and Tamaulipas.[4] Tequila is recognized as a Mexican designation of origin product in more than 40 countries.[5] It is protected through NAFTA in Canada and the United States,[6] through bilateral agreements with individual countries such as Japan and Israel,[6] and has been a protected designation of origin product in the constituent countries of the European Union since 1997.[6]

Tequila contains alcohol (also known formally as ethanol) and is most often made at a 38% alcohol content (76 U.S. proof) for domestic consumption, but can be produced between 31 and 55% alcohol content (62 and 110 U.S. proof). Per U.S. law, tequila must contain at least 35% alcohol (70 U.S. proof) to be sold in the United States.[7] THANKS TO wikipedia.

 

1122 Spring Cypress rd Spring Tx 77373

VODKA

Vodka
Monopolowa Baczewski.JPG
Place of origin PolandRussia[1][2]
Main ingredients Alcoholwater
Vodka bottles on display

Large selection of vodkas and spirits at a store in Sanok, Poland

Vodka (Polishwódka [ˈvutka]Russianводка [ˈvotkə]) is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol, but sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Traditionally, vodka is made through the distillation of cereal grains or potatoes that have been fermented, though some modern brands, such as CirocCooranBong, and Bombora, use fruits or sugar.

Since the 1890s, the standard PolishRussianBelarusianCzechEstonianHungarianIcelandicLatvianLithuanianNorwegianSlovakSwedish and Ukrainian vodkas are 40% ABV or alcohol by volume (80 US proof), a percentage widely misattributed to Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev.[3][4] Meanwhile, the European Union has established a minimum of 37.5% ABV for any “European vodka” to be named as such.[5][6]Products sold as “vodka” in the United States must have a minimum alcohol content of 40%.[7] Even with these loose restrictions, most vodka sold contains 40% ABV.

Vodka is traditionally drunk “neat” (not mixed with water, ice, or other mixer), though it is often served freezer chilled in the vodka belt countries of Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine. It is also used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the Vodka martiniCosmopolitanVodka TonicScrewdriverGreyhoundBlack or White RussianMoscow MuleBloody Mary and Bloody Caesar.

While most vodkas are unflavored, many flavored vodkas have been produced in traditional vodka-drinking areas, often as home-made recipes to improve vodka’s taste or for medicinal purposes. Flavorings include red pepper, ginger, fruit flavors, vanilla, chocolate (without sweetener), and cinnamon. In Russia, vodka flavored with honey and pepper, pertsovka in Russian, is also very popular. In Poland and Belarus, the leaves of the local bison grass are added to produce żubrówka (Polish) and zubrovka (Belarusian) vodka, with slightly sweet flavors and light amber colors. In Lithuania and Poland, a famous vodka containing honey is called krupnik.

This tradition of flavoring is also prevalent in the Nordic countries, where vodka seasoned with herbs, fruits and spices is the appropriate strong drink for several seasonal festivities. Sweden has forty-odd common varieties of herb-flavored vodka (kryddat brännvin). In Poland and Ukraine, a separate category (nalyvka in Ukraine and nalewka in Poland) is used for vodka-based spirits with fruit, root, flower, or herb extracts, which are often home-made or produced by small commercial distilleries. Their alcohol contents vary between 15 and 75%. In Estonia, vodkas are available with barberry, blackcurrant, cherry, green apple, lemon, vanilla and watermelon flavors.[41]

More recently, people have experimented with producing more unusual flavors of vodka, such as extremely hot chili flavored vodka[42] and even bacon vodka.[43] In most cases, vodka flavoring comes from a post-distillation infusion of flavors. Through the fermentation process, grain mash is transformed into a neutral alcohol beverage that is unflavored. The process of flavoring vodka so that it tastes like fruits, chocolate, and other foods occurs after fermentation and distillation. Various chemicals that reproduce the flavor profiles of foods are added into vodka to give it a specific taste.

1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD  SPRING TX 77373

Mole

Mole (/ˈml//ˈmli/ Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmole]; from Nahuatl mōlli, “sauce”) is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red/colorado, yellow, green, almendrado, de olla, huaxmole, guacamole and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut and such spices as black peppercinnamoncumin, and chocolate.

History[edit]

Woman cooking mole at a small restaurant in San Pedro Atocpan

Two states in Mexico claim to be the origin of mole: Puebla and Oaxaca[1] The best-known moles are native to these two states, but other regions in Mexico also make various types of mole sauces.[2]

Moles come in various flavors and ingredients, with chili peppers as the common factor. However, the classic mole version is the variety called mole poblano, which is a dark red or brown sauce served over meat. The dish has become a culinary symbol of Mexico’s mestizaje, or mixed indigenous and European heritage, both for the types of ingredients it contains and because of the legends surrounding its origin.[2]

A common legend of its creation takes place at the Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla early in the colonial period. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns panicked because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, including chili peppers, spices, day-old bread, nuts, and a little chocolate. They killed an old turkey, cooked it and put the sauce on top; the archbishop loved it. When one of the nuns was asked the name of the dish, she replied, “I made a mole.” Mole was the ancient word for mix; now this word mostly refers to the dish, and is rarely used to signify other kinds of mixes in Spanish.[2][3]

A similar version of the story says that monk Fray Pascual invented the dish, again to serve the archbishop of Puebla. In this version, spices were knocked over or blown over into pots in which chicken were cooking.[2][4] Other versions of the story substitute the viceroy of New Spain, such as Juan de Palafox y Mendoza in place of the archbishop.[5]

Selling mole mixes at the Feria Nacional del Mole in San Pedro Atocpan

Modern mole is a mixture of ingredients from North America, Europe and Africa, making it one of the first intercontinental dishes created in the Americas.[6] Its base, however, is indigenous. Nahuatl speakers had a preparation they called mōlli ([ˈmoːlːi]), meaning “sauce”, or chīlmōlli ([t͡ʃiːlˈmoːlːi]) for chili sauce.[7][8][9] In the book General History of the Things of New SpainBernardino de Sahagún says that mollis were used in a number of dishes, including those for fish, game and vegetables.[10] Theories about the origins of mole have supposed that it was something imposed upon the natives or that it was the product of the baroque artistry of Puebla, but there is not enough evidence for definitive answers.[11] Coincidence or not, the word “mōlli” seems to resemble the Portuguese word molho, which means “sauce”.

While chili pepper sauces existed in pre-Hispanic Mexico, the complicated moles of today did not. They did not contain chocolate, which was used as a beverage, and in all of the writings of Sahagún, there is no mention at all of it being used to flavor food.[12] Most likely what occurred was a gradual modification of the original molli sauce, adding more and different ingredients depending on the location. This diversified the resulting sauces into various types.[8][9] Ingredients that have been added into moles include nuts (such as almondspeanuts, or pine nuts), seeds (such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, or squash seeds), cilantro, seedless grapes, plantains, garlic, onions, cinnamon, and chocolate. However, most versions do not contain cinnamon or chocolate. What remained the same was the use of chili peppers, especially anchopasillamulato and chipotle, and the consistency of the sauce.[8] The true story of how mole developed may never be truly known, as the first recipes did not appear until after the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. The Nahuatl etymology of the name probably indicates a Mesoamerican origin.[2]

 1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD SPRING TX 77373

Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead (SpanishDía de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican heritage elsewhere. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. In 2008, the tradition was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.[1]

The holiday is sometimes called Día de los Muertos[2][3] in Anglophone countries, a back-translation of its original name, Día de Muertos. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a public holiday. Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. Gradually, it was associated with October 31, November 1, and November 2 to coincide with the Western Christianity triduum of AllhallowtideAll Saints’ EveAll Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.[4][5] Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars called ofrendas, honoring the deceased using calaverasaztec marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.[6] Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

Scholars trace the origins of the modern Mexican holiday to indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years and to an Aztec festivaldedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl. The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed into other deep traditions in honor of the dead. It has become a national symbol and as such is taught (for educational purposes) in the nation’s schools. Many families celebrate a traditional “All Saints’ Day” associated with the Catholic Church.

Originally, the Day of the Dead as such was not celebrated in northern Mexico, where it was unknown until the 20th century because its indigenous people had different traditions. The people and the church rejected it as a day related to syncretizing pagan elements with Catholic Christianity. They held the traditional ‘All Saints’ Day‘ in the same way as other Christians in the world. There was limited Mesoamerican influence in this region, and relatively few indigenous inhabitants from the regions of Southern Mexico, where the holiday was celebrated. In the early 21st century in northern Mexico, Día de Muertos is observed because the Mexican government made it a national holiday based on educational policies from the 1960s; it has introduced this holiday as a unifying national tradition based on indigenous traditions.[7][8][9]

The Mexican Day of the Dead celebration is similar to other societies’ observances of a time to honor the dead. The Spanish tradition, for instance, includes festivals and parades, as well as gatherings of families at cemeteries to pray for their deceased loved ones at the end of the day.

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages, as well as photos and memorabilia, of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them. Celebrations can take a humorous tone, as celebrants remember funny events and anecdotes about the departed.[13]

Mexican cempasúchil(marigold) is the traditional flower used to honor the dead
Cempasúchil, alfeñiques and papel picado used to decorate an altar

Plans for the day are made throughout the year, including gathering the goods to be offered to the dead. During the three-day period families usually clean and decorate graves;[12] most visit the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried and decorate their graves with ofrendas (altars), which often include orange Mexican marigolds (Tagetes erecta) called cempasúchil (originally named cempoaxochitlNāhuatl for “twenty flowers”). In modern Mexico the marigold is sometimes called Flor de Muerto (Flower of Dead). These flowers are thought to attract souls of the dead to the offerings. It is also believed the bright petals with a strong scent can guide the souls from cemeteries to their family homes.[14]

Toys are brought for dead children (los angelitos, or “the little angels”), and bottles of tequilamezcal or pulque or jars of atole for adults. Families will also offer trinkets or the deceased’s favorite candies on the grave. Some families have ofrendas in homes, usually with foods such as candied pumpkin, pan de muerto (“bread of dead”), and sugar skulls; and beverages such as atole. The ofrendasare left out in the homes as a welcoming gesture for the deceased.[12] Some people believe the spirits of the dead eat the “spiritual essence” of the ofrendas food, so though the celebrators eat the food after the festivities, they believe it lacks nutritional value. Pillows and blankets are left out so the deceased can rest after their long journey. In some parts of Mexico, such as the towns of MixquicPátzcuaro and Janitzio, people spend all night beside the graves of their relatives. In many places, people have picnics at the grave site, as well.

Families tidying and decorating graves at a cemetery in Almoloya del Río in the State of Mexico, 1995

Some families build altars or small shrines in their homes;[12] these sometimes feature a Christian cross, statues or pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pictures of deceased relatives and other people, scores of candles, and an ofrenda. Traditionally, families spend some time around the altar, praying and telling anecdotes about the deceased. In some locations, celebrants wear shells on their clothing, so when they dance, the noise will wake up the dead; some will also dress up as the deceased.

Public schools at all levels build altars with ofrendas, usually omitting the religious symbols. Government offices usually have at least a small altar, as this holiday is seen as important to the Mexican heritage.

Those with a distinctive talent for writing sometimes create short poems, called calaveras (skulls), mocking epitaphs of friends, describing interesting habits and attitudes or funny anecdotes. This custom originated in the 18th or 19th century after a newspaper published a poem narrating a dream of a cemetery in the future, “and all of us were dead”, proceeding to read the tombstones. Newspapers dedicate calaveras to public figures, with cartoons of skeletons in the style of the famous calaveras of José Guadalupe Posada, a Mexican illustrator. Theatrical presentations of Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla (1817–1893) are also traditional on this day.

Modern representations of La Catrina

José Guadalupe Posada created a famous print of a figure he called La Calavera Catrina (“The Elegant Skull”) as a parody of a Mexican upper-class female. Posada’s striking image of a costumed female with a skeleton face has become associated with the Day of the Dead, and Catrina figures often are a prominent part of modern Day of the Dead observances.

A common symbol of the holiday is the skull (in Spanish calavera), which celebrants represent in masks, called calacas (colloquial term for skeleton), and foods such as sugar or chocolate skulls, which are inscribed with the name of the recipient on the forehead. Sugar skulls can be given as gifts to both the living and the dead. Other holiday foods include pan de muerto, a sweet egg bread made in various shapes from plain rounds to skulls and rabbits, often decorated with white frosting to look like twisted bones.

The traditions and activities that take place in celebration of the Day of the Dead are not universal, often varying from town to town. For example, in the town of Pátzcuaro on the Lago de Pátzcuaro in Michoacán, the tradition is very different if the deceased is a child rather than an adult. On November 1 of the year after a child’s death, the godparents set a table in the parents’ home with sweets, fruits, pan de muerto, a cross, a rosary (used to ask the Virgin Mary to pray for them) and candles. This is meant to celebrate the child’s life, in respect and appreciation for the parents. There is also dancing with colorful costumes, often with skull-shaped masks and devil masks in the plaza or garden of the town. At midnight on November 2, the people light candles and ride winged boats called mariposas (butterflies) to Janitzio, an island in the middle of the lake where there is a cemetery, to honor and celebrate the lives of the dead there.

In contrast, the town of Ocotepec, north of Cuernavaca in the State of Morelos, opens its doors to visitors in exchange for veladoras (small wax candles) to show respect for the recently deceased. In return the visitors receive tamales and atole. This is done only by the owners of the house where someone in the household has died in the previous year. Many people of the surrounding areas arrive early to eat for free and enjoy the elaborate altars set up to receive the visitors.

In some parts of the country (especially the cities, where in recent years other customs have been displaced) children in costumes roam the streets, knocking on people’s doors for a calaverita, a small gift of candies or money; they also ask passersby for it. This relatively recent custom is similar to that of Halloween’s trick-or-treating in the United States. Another peculiar tradition involving kids is La Danza de los Viejitos (the dance of the old men) when boy and young men dressed as granpas crouch and then jump in an energetic dance.[15]

Some people believe possessing Day of the Dead items can bring good luck. Many people get tattoos or have dolls of the dead to carry with them. They also clean their houses and prepare the favorite dishes of their deceased loved ones to place upon their altar or ofrenda.

 1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD  SPRING TX 77373

Best Cardio Exercises and Workouts

Cardio exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your body, whether you want to lose weightburn fat, or generally improve your health. You can use machines like a treadmill or an elliptical trainer, or you can create your own workout at home with a variety of cardio exercises like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or burpees. Anything that gets your heart rate into your target heart rate zone will work, but there are some workouts that give you a little more bang for your buck.

There’s no “right” cardio exercise, and the best choice for you is the one that is the most challenging, but that you can perform safely and enjoy. Exercises that intervals and circuits can help you get the most bang for your time spent.

The workouts below offer new and unique ways to get your heart rate up, burn more calories, and get in great shape.

40-20 HIIT Circuit Workout

HIIT Circuit Workout
 Long Jump. Ben Goldstein
  • Duration: 35 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: A step or platform

Why It Works

This workout takes traditional interval training and turns up the heat by shortening the recovery intervals between exercises.

How It Works

  • Cumulative intensity: The cardio moves include a range of exercises from long jumps to burpees. Because the intensity is cumulative, you should feel breathless by the end of each circuit.
  • A very short recovery time: You do each high-intensity cardio exercise for 40 seconds, then rest just 20 seconds. When you do all four exercises, that comes out to four minutes of work. You can stick with that or repeat the circuit for a longer workout.
  • Activating your fat-burning hormones: Whenever you get into your anaerobic zone (it’s hard to speak in full sentences due to how taxed your breathing is) your body produces growth hormone and adrenaline. You burn more calories during the workout and you get a great afterburn.

With four total circuits, you’ll burn tons of calories. The variety of the workout and the exercises keeps things interesting.

Try it:  40-20 HIIT Circuit Workout

30-60-90 Mixed Interval Workout

  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: Any cardio machine or activity

Why It Works

This workout includes high-impact, high-intensity exercises done in a format designed to get you out of your comfort zone, burn more calories, and increase your anaerobic threshold.

In this workout, you’ll be switching between intervals of 30, 60, and 90 seconds with equal resting periods. This means you’ll work at three different levels of intensity:

  1. Moderate intensity: A moderate intensity is around a level 6 on a perceived exertion scale from 1 to 10.
  2. High intensity: You can’t sustain this for long because you’re well out of your comfort zone, around a level 8 on the perceived exertion scale.
  3. Very high intensity: This is the shortest interval and the one that takes you to a level 8 or 9, which should be in your anaerobic zone.

By focusing on all levels of intensity, you’re training all of your body’s energy systems for a comprehensive, calorie-burning workout.

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: A treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike
  • Why It Works

This series includes four different workouts that show you how to change the settings of some of the most common cardio machines in order to get you the most out of your workouts.

By changing your speed, resistance, and/or incline, you challenge your body and burn more calories.

How It Works

  • Workout 1: This treadmill workout has you increasing and decreasing your incline throughout the workout to help you burn more calories and stave off boredom.
  • Workout 2: This uses an elliptical trainer. You’ll gradually increase your resistance/incline for six-minute intervals, then drop down for two minutes, giving you a killer interval workout.
  • Workout 3: You’ll spend two minutes increasing resistance on a stationary bike, two minutes reducing resistance, and then one minute pedaling with high resistance to really get your heart rate up.
  • Workout 4: Skip the gym and get outdoors to do some walking, jogging, and sprinting to get your heart rate up.

Elliptical Interval WorkouT.

  • Duration: 40 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: An elliptical machine

Why It Works

The elliptical can give you a great workout, but if you’re staying at the same level of resistance the entire time, you’re not doing your body any favors. The best way to get more out of your workouts is to change your settings throughout the workout to work harder and push your body out of its comfort zone.

How It Works

  • Varying levels of intensity: During this workout, you’ll increase and decrease your resistance levels, pushing you to work harder and then recover enough to get ready for the next push.
  • Varying intervals: Some intervals are one minute and some are two minutes.
  • Steady state intervals: To give you a break, there are steady state recovery intervals throughout the workout to help you catch your breath.

High Intensity Aerobic Intervals

  • Duration: 64 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: Any cardio machine

Why It Works

High-intensity workouts are great, but you want to work at different levels of intensity throughout the week. This workout includes moderate-intensity intervals, but you’ll stay in your aerobic zone, meaning you won’t have to go breathless. This makes the workout longer and a little more comfortable than the other high-intensity workouts.

How It Works

  • Ten different intervals: Each interval is four minutes long.
  • Moderate intensity: For each four-minute interval, you’ll work just out of your comfort zone, around a level 6 on the perceived exertion scale. You should be working hard, but be able to sustain this level for the full four minutes.
  • Two-minute recovery: There are two-minute recovery intervals in between each work set. Take the speed, resistance, or incline down to a comfortable place so you can fully recover.

As you get tired, you may need to slow down or lower your incline or resistance to maintain the suggested levels of exertion. It’s normal for that to happen, so don’t feel like you have to stay at the same level for every interval.

Tabata Cardio Workout

  • Duration: 35 minutes
  • Fitness level: Advanced
  • Equipment: None

Why It Works

Tabata training is one of the best cardio workouts, taking you through very short, very intense intervals that only last 20 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much, but put together four exercises with only 10 seconds of rest in between and you’ll really feel this.

How It Works

  • Four Tabatas: There are four complete Tabata cycles, each with four different high-intensity, high-impact exercises.
  • Four minutes: You’ll do each exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10, and then move on to the next one. After completing the four exercises, you’ll repeat them again for a total of four minutes.
  • Ten-second rests: Take full advantage of these, but realize you probably won’t be able to catch your breath in 10 seconds. That’s how you burn calories and build endurance.

Outdoor Circuit Workout

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Fitness level: Intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: None

Why It Works

Outdoor workouts tend to revolve around a few basic activities—walking, running, and cycling. Those can all be effective calorie-burning exercises, but one way to ensure that is to try adding some intensity to your usual routine.

How It Works

Being outside challenges your body in a different way than machines do, so you’re already increasing your calorie burn. The following can add to that:

  • Steady-state cardio: You’ll walk or run for a period of time, keeping the intensity moderate and focusing on your aerobic zone.
  • Short bursts of speed or hills: Every so often, you’ll pick up the pace or head up a hill (if you’ve got one nearby) to push yourself out of the aerobic zone.
  • High-intensity exercises: Finally, you’ll stop during the workout for things like push-ups, long jumps, and other high-impact moves to take you even further out of your comfort zone.

Not only will you get a great workout, you’ll have some fun by trying something totally different.

Make Your Own Workout

  • Duration: Up to you
  • Fitness level: Beginner/intermediate/advanced
  • Equipment: None

Why It Works

Sometimes, the best workout is the one you make up on the fly. Just doing anything different for your body can help you make changes and see better results from your workout.

Ideas for Your Workout

  • Choose your exercises: Go through a list of cardio exercises and pick 10 moves to try.
  • Warm up: Make sure to start with a five-minute warm-up before going into the higher intensity exercises.
  • Start your timer: The easiest way to do this kind of workout is to do the moves for a set period of time, like 60 seconds.
  • Rests: Rest briefly between exercises and repeat all of them for a longer workout.

Feel free to mix and match your favorites for your own personalized workout. Try making a playlist of your favorite music to kick start your workout. 1122 SPRING CYPRESS RD  SPRING TX 77373