Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chocolate, Chocolate, MORE Chocolate!

February 28 is...

Whoever is responsible for the monthly celebrations has to be a LOVER of chocolate. Why? Because we have already celebrated in this month alone...

February 1: National Dark Chocolate Day & Ice Cream for Breakfast Day
February 5: Chocolate Fondue Day & World Nutella Day
February 14: National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day
February 19: National Chocolate Mint Day

So, today being the last day of February 2014, it is no wonder it has been designated as...

Chocolate Soufflé Day

Though cheese soufflés may be better known, everyone with a sweet tooth will prefer a chocolate soufflé instead! The recipe for soufflé is thought to originate in La Cusinier Moderne, by Vincent La Chappell, published as long ago as 1742. A soufflé is a type of cake made from a custard base and egg whites beaten to a soft peak. It can then be flavored as desired.

Notoriously tricky to make, a chocolate soufflé is certain to impress your guests if you can pull it off. They are well known for collapsing soon after removal from the oven so consider topping your soufflés with fruit or plenty of sauce to hide the inevitable!

What better excuse than Chocolate Soufflé Day to dig in and enjoy a delicious ramekin of chocolate deliciousness?

I would venture to say the Word of the Day: Chocolate fits any day of any month but especially the month of February!

You can even add chocolate to your favorite beverage...What's Your Brew?

Check out Chocolate Strikes Again!

That's it for February!
Next on the Calendar: March is...

Reflections on First Oscars

The first Academy Awards:
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Source: en.wikipedia.org
With today being the eve of Oscar Night weekend, let's step back in time to a few firsts in Oscar, aka Academy Award, history. It is not only interesting, but fascinating, to see the changes that have taken place throughout many decades of movieland.

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 1927 and 1928. It took place on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Tickets cost five dollars, 270 people attended the event and the presentation ceremony lasted fifteen minutes. It is the only Academy Awards ceremony not to be broadcast either on radio or television.

Wings (1927 Silent Film)
Best Picture

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927 Silent Film)
Unique and Artistic Production

First Televised Oscars Opening (1953)

Bob Hope's Oscars opening monologue at the first televised Academy Awards® on March 19, 1953. Introduced by Charles Brackett.

First Oscar Awards Ceremony in Color (1966)

Bob Hope's opening monologue at the first Academy Awards® televised in color, on April 18, 1966.
  • First X-rated film to win Best Picture
    • Midnight Cowboy (1969). It was also the first X-rated film to be nominated for Best Picture & the only one to date to have won it.

 Do you ever wonder "What does it REALLY take to win an Oscar?"

COMPARISON of 1929 to 2013

1st Academy Awards Ceremony:
$5 per ticket
# people attending: 270
15 min presentation

85th Academy Awards Ceremony (2013):

Scalped tickets sold for as much as $30,000 - $40,000
Estimated 77.92 million total viewers
Scheduled for 3 hours

If you missed the link at the beginning of the post, 
click Oscar Night 2014... 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

White Out!

February 27 is...declared White Out!

(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
That is WHITE-Out, not wipe-out, as you would expect on the shores of sunny California! And, what about Florida, the Sunshine State? It is not being neglected a bit by Ol' Man Winter! No mercy. Even when it comes to the succulent orange groves, extra care must be taken to protect the fruit that produces the breakfast drink of all ages.  

In January, icicles clung to oranges in a small grove as temperatures in central Florida dipped into the 20s overnight. Farmers sprayed water on the crops that forms a protective layer of ice to help keep them around 32 degrees as protection from freeze damage. If January wasn't enough, February is trying to challenge those sub-zero temps with record breaking ones of its own. 

This is bone-chilling, teeth-chattering weather. While Alaskans were enjoying a reading of 39 degrees, Georgians were trying to cope with 20 degrees while wishing they were in Alaska! Winter ain't over yet, folks!

49 states hit temps below freezing

Temperatures plunge below zero in many areas as the country goes into a deep freeze. Ice jams continue to cover rivers across the nation as 49 states reach below the freezing mark. TODAY’s Al Roker reports

Some areas are 30 degrees below normal!

Timeline Photo

 Which state missed the sub-zero mark? Only one...the only one possible...

In this state, the month of February is characterized by essentially constant daily high temperatures, with daily highs around 80°F throughout the month, exceeding 83°F or dropping below 76°F only one day in ten.

Remember the Shake, the Hippy, Hippy Shake?

Anyone interested in going to Hawaii?

Mardi Gras

This Day in History: February 27, 1827

 "It took the city of New Orleans to transform the centuries-old celebration of Mardi Gras into America's Greatest Party.

On this day in 1827, a group of masked and costumed students dance through the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, marking the beginning of the city's famous Mardi Gras celebrations.
The celebration of Mardi Gras came to North America from Paris, where it had been celebrated since the Middle Ages. In 1699, French explorer Iberville and his men explored the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. On a spot 60 miles south of the present location of New Orleans, they set up camp on the river's West Bank. Knowing that the day, March 3, was being celebrated as a major holiday in France, they christened the site Point du Mardi Gras.

Enjoy the celebration but not without knowing its history!

Polar Bear, Polar Bear!

February 27 is...
 International Polar Bear Day

 Polar Bear Day celebrates one of nature’s most impressive hunters, and the world’s largest carnivore. When fully grown, polar bears can span an enormous 9 feet (2.7m) in height. 

But, they sure are cute as cubs!

 Just don't make Mama Bear mad!

With this being Polar Bear Day, why not learn about the polar bear and what makes a polar bear a POLAR bear?

Polar Bears natural habitat is the Arctic. Ever wonder how polar bears stay warm? What makes a polar bear a polar bear? Is it the colorless fur? Black tongue? A propensity for eating seals? Turns out, it has to do with hibernation, or the lack of hibernation. Read MORE...

Celebrate Polar Bear Day with warm fuzzies...
hugs, that is!

There is always more than one thing being celebrated on any given day. Visit Awakenings' sister site, catnipoflife for more. 

Next on the Calendar: White Out!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Levi's Birth

This Day in History: February 26, 1829

Today's historical significance focuses on a birth that eventually impacted the entire fashion industry of the world, both male and female, young and old, infant to senior citizen. It is hard to imagine a closet or bureau drawer without the inclusion of BLUE JEANS! It is somehow appropriate that the most American of garments finds its roots in two European immigrants, one a visionary businessman and one an inventor. Blue jeans are as classic to America as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and ice cream! 

On this day was born...
Levi Strauss: American businessman of German Jewish descent
who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans.
His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California.

Birthplace of Levi Strauss
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim (Bavaria), Germany on February 26, 1829 to an Ashkenazi Jewish family. He was the son of Hirsch Strauss and his second wife Rebecca Strauss. At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters traveled to the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City, J Strauss Brother & Co.
In January 1853, Levi Strauss became a USA citizen. When the family decided to open a West Coast branch of the family business, it was Levi Strauss who was chosen to represent the family in the new business. Strauss opened his dry goods wholesale business as Levi Strauss & Co. and imported fine dry goods.The company created their first pair of Levi's 501 Jeans in the 1890s, a style that went on to become the world's best selling item of clothing.
In 1853, the California gold rush was in full swing, and everyday items were in short supply. Levi Strauss, a 24-year-old German immigrant, left New York for San Francisco with a small supply of dry goods with the intention of opening a branch of his brother's New York dry goods business. Shortly after his arrival, a prospector wanted to know what Mr. Levi Strauss was selling. When Strauss told him he had rough canvas to use for tents and wagon covers, the prospector said, "You should have brought pants!," saying he couldn’t find a pair of pants strong enough to last.
Source: Levi Strauss The History of Blue Jeans

Inventing blue jeans was just the start of how Levi Strauss pioneered a brand for true originals. Around every bend of the Levi's® story, innovation and quality is at the heart of everything we do. Here's how we've made history with you...

Happy Birthday, Levi Strauss! 
Long live the fashion of blue jeans!

Nutter Nutty Celebration!

February 26 is...

The topic of nuts started yesterday, February 25 with its celebration being National Chocolate Covered Nut Day, aka National Chocolate Covered Peanut Day. This led to the Goober Pea Meets the Vendor.  How surprising to find that today continues with a different nut so we get to enjoy another nutty celebration!

There is something special about that little green nut once considered food for the rich and chosen few! Legend even has it that the Queen of Sheba restricted the eating of pistachios to the royal court and forbade commoners to grow them! Did you know the first provable historical mention of edible nuts just might be the pistachio? Would you believe it dates as far back as 6760 B.C.? That would mean pistachio nuts have been eaten by humans for almost 9000 years.

Some sites declare today as World Pistachio Day. No wonder since they are definitely enjoyed worldwide and grown in different parts of the globe. These little morsels of nutty goodness are native to the Middle East with the largest producer of pistachio nuts today being Iran. They are also grown in other areas, including California and Mediterranean Europe. Pistachios are also called the ‘green almond’ and are known as the ‘smiling nut’ in Iran and the ‘happy nut’ in China where the Chinese are reported to be the greatest consumers of the nut.
Pistachio Day

Pistachios are not just eaten as a snack – they are also used in cooking, while their sweet flavor sometimes finds them used in desserts, such as the Lebanese dish baklava. You can even find pistachio ice cream alongside more common flavors, such as chocolate or strawberry. Philadelphia’s James W. Parkinson claimed to have invented this divine dish in the 1940s. One question: How did we get to the 1940s before realizing the beauty that comes from combining ice cream and pistachios? How, indeed?! If you feel really ingenious today, test your skills and make your own. Click HERE for a Pistachio Ice Cream recipe.
Power of the Pistachio
Studies have even suggested that eating moderate amounts of pistachios can help keep your heart healthy! Pistachios have more antioxidants per serving than green tea. They are also an excellent source of fiber, copper, manganese, and Vitamin B6.  So, why not grab a bagful today and simply enjoy!

WARNING: Pistachios may have wonderful health qualities but they do NOT come without calories. 

Here are a couple more options to be taken into consideration for today's celebration...

Image Credit: DalBoz


Feb 26 is Nat'l Pistachio Day - take a break and bake a pistachio cake

From eat, live, run - Celebrating life, one crumb at a time.

Pistachio Pudding Cupcakes

 Is your mouth watering yet?

yum, yum, yum . . . yummy!



Next on the Calendar: Polar Bear, Polar Bear!

The Goober Pea Meets the Vendor

A South American native, the peanut arrived in North America via slave ships and in African-inspired cooking on plantations. Slaves sometimes made a little cash growing and selling the famous 'goober pea,' and after the Civil War, when Union soldiers acquired a taste for them, peanuts traveled north.

Goober Peas: America's Favorite Snack Food

There's the vendor...can you smell it? A little bit closer now...can you taste it? Even before that first morsel hits your palate, can you feel the sensations? Oh, yeah! Nothing like the nutty aroma of fresh roasted peanuts. They have been around for a long, long time, first enjoyed by children. One day those children grew up but I dare say probably not a one ever outgrew the love of peanuts.
Street Vendor on the streets of New York City 1900
New York City hummed at the turn of the 19th century. It was not unusual to find vendors on the streets, especially selling peanuts and by the 1940s, they were customary on the grounds of circuses and fairs. This brings back recollections of being a child again. The fun times, times with family, simply good times of childhood. It was not long afterward that the peanut vendors infiltrated train stations where travelers welcomed the fresh aroma and availability of a quick snack.

Peanut vendor near the junction of Washington
and Flatbush Avenues, Brooklyn, circa 1905
Italian vendors were the first immigrants to sell peanuts on the streets of New York City. In fact, after the Civil War, the Italians dominated the retail peanut business. Many stuck with the trade for decades making a very substantial living for themselves and their families thereby leaving quite a legacy.
1910 Peanut Vendor
In the early part of the century, it was not unusual to find young children pushing the vending carts around the city. They worked an average of 6 hours a day often working until after midnight. Wages were not earned for personal use but turned over to 'father'.

Beginning in 1948, the vendors 'push' became more than just peanuts while the wheels were no longer dependent upon human hands to move them along. The evolution of the old-fashioned wooden carts to the stainless steel pushcarts allowed the once only peanut vendor to branch out and sling out an enormous array of different foods. For many on the streets of large cities, this is still their livelihood.
So many choices...where are the peanuts? Sprinkled on the 'dogs',
baked in the bread, nutty pretzels perhaps?
Image Credit: Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News
From cultivation to the vendor to gourmet dishes prepared in the finest restaurant, the "goober pea" has collected quite an historical account along its journey of evolution. Paired harmoniously with chocolate makes it a versatile and beloved icon among the American Classics of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie! Yum! And, of course, don't forget the Chevrolet!

Image Source: www.flickr.com
Let's not leave without mentioning the most iconic peanut, the master himself...Mr. Peanut. Little did he know in the beginning that he would grow into the world's grandest nut company. That is a story unto itself and must wait for its own day! For now, he bids you adieu with only one remaining thought...

Eat more peanuts!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Salty & Sweet!


February 25 is...

A day to enjoy some of life's finest: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't but when do you not feel like chocolate? Of course, this would exclude those who actually do not indulge in chocolate, perhaps some that even experience allergic reactions. For us who are the true chocoholics, chocolate is the bomb, the kicker, the stimulant, an upper, a Mr. Feelgood! Then, to combine it with the salty, nutty nut, you get the crunch along with that smooth rich chocolaty covering. So, what exactly is today? It is...


Milk Pecan Clusters



Milk Chocolate Covered Peanuts
Dipping nuts and fruit into chocolate became popular as early as the 19th century. People even believed that chocolate had divine properties. Nuts themselves have been a staple of the human diet for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans were fond of the walnut, Native Americans enjoyed the pecan, and the Chinese believed the hazelnut was one of the five sacred nourishments. However, the first nuts covered in chocolate were sold commercially in America in 1925, with Goobers being the oldest brand.
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Coated nuts have a reputation for being a snack to enjoy while watching movies, they even go great with popcorn. It’s not certain when chocolate-covered peanuts were first awarded their own day, but it’s thought the unofficial festival originated in the U.S.

Although many brands of chocolate covered nuts are available to buy, it’s more fun – and cheaper – to make your own. All you need to do is to melt some chocolate in a pan, add in the peanuts and stir it all up. To make them extra special, sprinkle them with sea salt. Don't forget to allow the nuts to cool before eating. 

Go nuts and enjoy the day!

 Is your mouth watering yet?

yum, yum, yum . . . yummy!



 Next on the Calendar: Nutter Nutty Celebration

Flaming Cocktails

This Day in History: February 25, 1890

Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
While this day in history does not mark the first "Molotov cocktail" per se, it does mark the birth of its namesake. On February 25, 1890, Vlacheslav Mikhaylovich Skryabin, foreign minister for the Soviet Union who took the revolutionary name Molotov, was born in Kurkaka, Russia. Though he held many notable posts in the Soviet government, he is also  remembered for another reason. During WWI, Molotov advocated the use of throwing bottles at the enemy...bottles filled with flammable liquid and stuffed with a lit rag. Thus, the famous "Molotov cocktail" was born.

A Finnish soldier
with a Molotov cocktail
in the 1939-40 Winter War.
The Molotov cocktail, aka the petrol bomb, poor man's grenade, fire bomb, was first used in the Spanish Civil War before they ever became known as "Molotov cocktails". It has been the weapon of choice for many protests around the world.

They are frequently used by amateur protesters and non-professionally equipped fighters in urban guerrilla warfare. They are primarily intended to set targets ablaze rather than instantly destroy them.

As incendiary devices, Molotov cocktails are illegal to manufacture or possess in many regions. In the United States, Molotov cocktails are considered "destructive devices" under the National Firearms Act and regulated by the ATF.

If you are really interested in a flaming cocktail, stick to this one...BUT even it can be dangerous so leave its concoction to an experienced bartender!

Flaming Cocktails
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org