The Daily Bug

January 2008 - New Beginnings

By: palmettobug53, 2:32 PM GMT on December 30, 2007



January is named after the Roman god, Janus. He was pictured with two faces; one facing forward, the other, backwards. He was the god of doorways, gates, beginnings and endings, planting and harvest, marriages and the past and the future.

January is a time when many of us re-evaluate our lives. We make resolutions. We may not keep them all but we at least take the time to think about what we should do, for our health, wealth and happiness. And, if we're lucky, and really commit ourselves, we manage to make one or two of them stick.

January is also a time when nature starts to spring forth with new life. With cold weather, snow and gloomy skies surrounding many of us, we eagerly anticipate the first buds of flowering trees and shrubs, the peeping forth of those early spring bulbs and the arrival of migrating birds that herald warmer temperatures.

And, though we should never completely forget our preparation and evac plans, it's still a bit early to worry too much about hurricane season!

This may be a work in progress for a week or two, as I'd like to find some more January facts and trivia links to post. If any of you have, or find, anything interesting about January, post away!



January Facts, Customs and Traditions

Famous January Birthdays

This Month In History - January

Another list of January History Facts

Famous January Deaths

January Gardening Tips

January Gemstone: The Garnet

January Flower: The Carnation

Alternative January Flower: The Snowdrop
This one is used less than the carnation, but I have seen it listed as the January flower.

January is National Eye Care Month, National Blood Donor Month, Hobby Month, Hot Tea Month, Oatmeal Month, Prune the Fat Month and Soup Month

January 2008 Calendar

Unique and Bizarre January Holidays

SC Calendar of Events

Plant of the Month: Beauty Berry

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!

For Gam's daughter Betsey and grandson Baron:

Christmas Roast Beast

By: palmettobug53, 7:24 PM GMT on December 23, 2007

roast beast

Wish me luck! I'm off shortly to continue the hunt for my Christmas Roast Beast! He seems to be an elusive creature this season but I am determined to bag one!

This is a little late for a Christmas dinner receipt blog but better late than never, I suppose. There are some humdingers on my 2005 Christmas receipt blog, if you care to go back and peruse them. Sorry about the lack of pictures, but there was a bit of hubbub and confusion in early 2006, re: the use of images and hotlinking, etc. I deleted a bunch of images on my blogs, when that came up.

Here is Bug's Christmas Roast Beast receipt:

1 roast beast (cheaper cuts work very well!)
1 can french onion soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
a can or two of water, or more, depending on how much gravy you want. Gravy can be thickened with flour/cornstarch, after the roast and veggies are removed from the pan.
3-5 carrots, peeled and chopped
4-5 potatos, peeled an chopped
a couple of medium onions, peeled and quartered
3-4 stalks celery, chopped
Adolph's or other meat tenderizer.

Sprinkle roast with tenderizer and stab repeatedly with a fork. Turn over and repeat. Put the roast in an appropriately sized roasting pan and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then, dump in the soups/water. Stir a bit. Cover and cook for about an hour at 350º. Check roast. Add water, if necessary. Add veggies around the edges of the pan. You may need to lift the roast up, and get some of the veggies underneath. Recover and continue to cook at 350º for another hour or until the veggies are done. Meat should be fork tender. (Sorry, I'm not one of those people that serve beef red or pink in the middle. I want mine cooked through and DONE!)

When beef and veggies are done, remove from pan to serving platter. Thicken gravy in the roasting pan, on top of the stove, if necessary.

Serve with rice, green beans and whatever side dishes you fancy. What with all the veggies from the roasting pan, hubby and I find that green beans and rice are enough for us. I do have half a cream cake for our dessert. If hubby keeps his fingers out of it!

You can use more or less veggies and a smaller/larger roast, depending on how many people you're feeding or how many leftovers you want. You could switch out some of the veggies for others, if you would like to play around with the receipt. You could substitute cream of celery for the cream of mushroom. Or use golden mushroom instead of regular.

Bug's Green Beans:

Get the cheapest cans of beans you can find BUT they must be labeled as "Blue Lake" green beans. This is a variety of string beans that has a better flavour, than just plain string beans.

Drain liquid from cans. Peel one small onion and drop in pot. Put beans in pot. Flavour with either smoked ham hocks, smoked neckbones or something called "ham base", which you can find in the grocery store where the bouillion and broths are found. (For the vegetarians out there, you can use smoked dark meat turkey). Fill pot with fresh water to cover beans. Bring to a full, rolling boil then cut to simmer and cook for at least an hour. Add salt/pepper to taste.

I've had many, many compliments on my green beans at potlucks at work. I've even been asked if they came from my garden! Everyone is shocked to find out that they are canned. One girl at work has even quit putting up green beans in the freezer, because she liked mine so much. She said it was much less trouble. And after picking beans and helping my mom snap, blanche and put stuff up in the freezer every summer, as I was growing up, I have to agree. It's MUCH less trouble!

These beans also turn out very well done in a crockpot. Nothing is different, as far as the recipe goes. You're just doing them in a crockpot instead of a pot on the stove, though you do cook them longer. Just cook on high for about 4 hours. Which is how I do them for potlucks at work. Get to work, throw everything in the crockpot, plug it in and by lunchtime, they're ready. BTW, I had next to no leftover beans last Wednesday, after our Christmas luncheon at the office.

Note: I have not had the same results using frozen beans from the store. They tend to get too soft and mushy. You CAN use this seaoning/cooking method with home frozen or fresh green beans. The whole thing is based on remembering how my mom cooked those beans we had put up all summer!

So, here's the place to share the receipts for your favorite dishes for Christmas or after, or to find something new to try. And don't forget to post your faves for using up the leftover turkey or ham!

♫ ♪ Noel, Noel... ♪ ♫

By: palmettobug53, 2:40 PM GMT on December 16, 2007

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It's that time of year, isn't it? Whether you're in the car, at work, shopping, at church or at home, Christmas music is playing everywhere. It's on the radio, TV, playing in your Ipod or home stereo; even in those mental loops inside your head. ("Oh, man... why can't I get that stupid 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus' thingy out of my head? It was cool at first but It's been three days now! ARGH!")

Whether they're the traditional religious songs from church or from an old Perry Como record, songs from holiday movies or old TV Christmas specials, everyone has their favorites. I rather like them all, myself. As most of you probably know, my hearing is shot, so I am no longer able to listen to them, as I would love to do. I used to have several records that I would put on the stereo during the week or two before Christmas. It really put me in the mood. I miss that. My Christmas soundtrack these days is all from memory and I've been walking around for the last day or two with "Silver Bells" looping through my head. So, I'm not completely without Christmas music! I just have to jump start myself to another song every now and then! LOL

I do hear complaints about the fact that they start playing Christmas songs everywhere so early that, by the time Christmas arrives, many people are just about sick of them. That's a real shame, too. There are some very lovely Christmas songs out there. Do they tend to play the same ones over and over? There ought to be enough of them to provide some variety. And enough singers to give different takes on the same songs.

Anyway, I'm just going to let everyone talk about their favorite Christmas songs, who sings them and maybe your memories of caroling, singing with your families or whatever other Christmas musical memories you may have.

(And it's about time for me to replace "Silver Bells" with something else! LOL)

Nutty As A Fruitcake

By: palmettobug53, 2:42 PM GMT on December 09, 2007

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Ah, the much maligned fruitcake. This is the time of year when all the fruitcake jokes come out of the closet. I truly don't understand why everyone puts them down so badly. There are so many varieties of fruitcake, that there should be at least one version out there to suit everyone's taste. The dark ones. The white (or blond) ones. Heavy. Light. With or without bourbon or brandy. There are chocolate fruit cakes and fruitcakes made with a spice cake batter. Plain or dusted with confectioner's sugar. Covered with marzipan. Made into bars or cookies. In the English style, with icing and decorations. Or the German version, Stollen.

What set me off on doing a blog about fruitcakes? Watching a show on the Food Channel the other night. The Secret Life of Food, with Jim O'Connor. It was the Christmas special, The Secret Life of Christmas. In one segment of the show, they visited Bailey Mills B&B, in Reading, Vermont, to cook a fruitcake with the proprietor, Barbara Thaeder. She is trying to gain some respect for the fruitcake. I must say, her receipt looks absolutely YUMMY! Lots of dried fruits soaked in brandy and Triple Sec. And, if those candied fruits are what turn you off about fruitcake, there are none in this receipt. (This is probably airing in your area. I'd recommend that you try to catch it! They did a lot about the history of the different foods eaten at Christmas time. Very interesting, indeed!)

Fruitcakes date back to the Roman times but did not become what we recognize as "fruitcakes" until the Middle Ages. Crusaders returning from the Holy Lands started bringing back dried fruits from the Mediterranean. They DO keep well (especially when soaked with alcohol) which was a consideration in these pre-refridgeration times.
I don't think I've ever met a fruitcake I didn't like. To me, there's nothing like sitting down on a cold winter's evening with a bit of fruitcake and a glass of wine. Does that make me a fruitcake, too?

The standard in my father's family was my Granny's fruitcake. Her's was a basic pound cake receipt, with raisins, pecans and some of the candied fruit chunks. She did not pack the cake with fruit and nuts, so it was light and not as dense as some versions. Her's would have been considered "Blond".

My father, however, developed a taste for Claxton's fruitcake. Now, this one is so pack jammed with fruit and nuts that the cake batter just serves as a mortar to hold them together. Very rich and very heavy. I still buy two of the small ones every year. One for me and one for Dad.

Claxton Bakery, in Claxton, GA, and Collin Street Bakery, in Corsicana, TX, are a couple of the oldest fruitcake purveyors in the U.S., probably due to the high availability of pecans in the South. There are dozens of other sources of fruitcake, if you don't care to make your own. Notably, many monastaries and religious houses have gotten in on the act; the Trappists, in particular.

So, if "store bought" fruitcakes don't tickle your taste buds, try making one of your own. There are enough receipts out there online, that I'm sure you could find just one that you would like!

The Fruitcake from Wiki

Monastary Greetings

Gethsemani Farms

Bailey Mills B&B "The Fruitcake Show" Includes pictures and The Recipe.

Claxton Fruit Cakes

Collin Street Bakery

The Society for the Protection and Preservation of Fruitcake

THE Best Fruitcake Recipe You Ever Tried!

Christmas Customs and Traditional British Christmas Cake Recipe

Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake Recipe This one or the Bailey Mills' recipe are sure winners! NOT what you usually think of, when you are talking about fruitcakes. Very scrumptious sounding!

Honor Thy Fruitcake

Razzle Dazzle Fruitcake Recipes

Fruitcake Is No Joke Article from the Houston Chronicle 12/7/07 with receipts for Figgy Fruitcake, as well as Candied Citrus Peel (my Granny used to make these!) and Dried Fruit and Nut Cake.

Bug's Big Adventure - Part 5 - The Final Chapters

By: palmettobug53, 10:55 PM GMT on December 01, 2007

Day 9 - Home, Sweet, Home.....

Another early awakening. This time, it was 4 a.m.! You older folks on here will understand exactly why I woke up that early, so I won't go into details! Suffice it to say, that once I was up, I didn't want to go back to sleep. I knew we would be coming into Charleston Harbor shortly and I wanted to watch. Taking care of my morning ablutions as quietly as possible, so as to not wake up Hubby, I prepared for the day and slipped out of the cabin.

The ship was very quiet at that hour and I saw no one until I got up to Deck 10. The staff was already getting things ready to set out on the buffet and there were a few passengers up and sipping coffee. I got my cup and headed for a seat in the forward dining area to see what I could see.

We were almost there! The lights of Charleston were twinkling in the darkness and I could just make out the water below, slowly going by. I tried my best to make out what was what, but I'd never seen Charleston from this aspect before. Yes, I had been out as far as Ft. Sumter several times and was familiar with the Charleston skyline from the water. In the daytime. But this was totally different. Familiar landmarks were disguised by the darkness and it was difficult to discern anything that struck a chord. I finally spotted the Ravenel Bridge. I had particularily wanted to see it this morning, as it is lit up at night, except during turtle nesting season. I was very disappointed to see that it was not. I'm sure it would have been an inspiring sight. (I found out later that they cut the lights off around midnight.)

As we got closer in, I was able to figure out that "That is probably White Point Gardens, with the Coast Guard station over on the left", "That looks like the cruise terminal" and "Those towers over there must the the Wando Terminal". Leaving the dining area, I headed up to the sunning deck. From there, I could make out the Customs House, which was lit up, and further back, the various church steeples: First Scots Presbyterian, St. Michaels and St. Philips. More and more early risers were finding their way up top for coffee and a first view of Charleston.

The ship slowly started her turn before docking, so that she would be facing the harbor. It amazed me that they were able to handle this behemoth and bring her to a stop with nary a bump. Looking over the side to see brownish-green water churning, I knew I was home. What a change from the crystal clear turquoise and aqua of Bermuda! And I could smell the distinct aroma of Charleston Perfume, our pluff mud.

Deciding it was about time to check on Hubby, I headed back down to the cabin. He was just getting dressed. We had put most of the luggage outside our cabin for pick up, the night before. We packed up all the last bits and pieces in our carryall, before going to meet Dad and SMom for breakfast. It's a good thing we were up early. By the time we got back upstairs, it was getting crowded. As far as I know, none of the other dining areas were open and they also did not have all the serving stations up and running. Just the basic breakfast bar.

After breakfast, we did a last sweep around our cabin and headed down to wait with Dad and SMom for our deck to be called to leave the ship. If we had packed everything into a couple of bags, we could have done the Express Disembarkation around 7:15. SMom says she told me but with my hearing, I must have missed it. You can do the Express, if you are able to roll or carry all of your luggage yourself. Live and learn, I guess.

So we waited. And waited..... Finally, about 9:45, they called our deck. Getting an elevator was fun, with so many people trying to leave. One last swipe of our key cards and we were headed down the gangway. Then, it was into the luggage pickup area. It was controlled chaos. We were assigned a baggage handler with a cart and started looking. We had tied ribbons on the handles of our cases, so as to be able to locate them a bit easier. I might consider buying a set of RED luggage, if we ever go again. Everyone had black! Despite that, we were able to spot our bags fairly quickly, get them loaded up and into the line for Customs.

Our neighbor was supposed to pick us up. SMom had reached them by cell phone early on Saturday to tell them about the delay in arrival and found out that they had a christening to attend at an early church service Sunday morning. So, we planned to catch a cab. If I had had any idea I would have needed it, I would have jotted down my favorite cab company's phone number before we left home. We flagged a cab but he was already engaged. He called dispatch for us.

While we were waiting, a group of women stopped to ask us about what happened and why we were late. They were booked on the Majesty for the cruise that was to have left the previous day. Their eyes grew as big as saucers as we told them all about the sea rescue, the engine problems and the bad weather. One of the women remarked, "With bad weather like that, I'm glad I wasn't on board!"

The cab arrived and we were able to squeeze us and all the luggage inside and get headed for the house. Once there, I unloaded the bags Dad and SMom had loaned us, they got everything in the car and headed home. I had planned on having Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday to get things put away, get laundry done, get groceries (I hadn't shopped the week before we left) and have a little breathing space, before heading back to work on Monday. Instead, I was having to try to cram it all in, in one afternoon. And to top it off, Thor and Daisy were giving us the cold shoulder for having left them for a week!

It was a wonderful trip, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, Bermuda was beautiful and I even found the rough weather to be exciting. But it was good to be back home. In our own house. Eating our own food. Sleeping in our own bed. And taking a shower in our own bathroom, which doesn't shift underfoot!


Epilogue - Misc. Odds and Ends

This is just a final entry so that I can just add some thoughts and observations about our trip.

Unlike the U.S., Bermuda is clean. I mean CLEAN! I saw very little litter on the sidewalks, the roads, bus stops or roadsides. I don't really recall seeing any in or around St. George. And NO dog poop! On the bus ride to Hamilton and the Dockyard, I did see some litter as we were coming into Hamilton. But nothing like what you see here in the States. It made me ashamed to think about how filthy our country is. It's not that hard to NOT litter.

Evidently, Bermuda does not have squirrels. If they do, I never saw one. And there were next to no pigeons. I saw two in St. George; one at a time. And at the ferry dock in Hamilton, I saw a small flock of perhaps 15 or 20. That was it. I see more than that on a daily basis, when they're trying to suck down all the birdseed from my feeders. I saw no stray dogs or cats. The only two cats I saw, were in St. George and it was obvious that they belonged to the house whose wall they were lounging on. I saw maybe three dogs, all on leashes with their owners. I saw no sea gulls, no pelicans. In fact, other than the chickens, the few pigeons and the flocks of little sparrows, I saw no birdlife at all. And no animals, other than the carriage horses, the aforementioned cats and dogs and then the goats and cows on the back side of the island from St. George. And another weird thing: I did not see the first fly. I thought those things were like cockroaches: everywhere. I can understand a paucity of native animals, being isolated as they are. The low level of birdlife might be explained by the isolation. Maybe they get blown out to sea too often to proliferate? But no flies?

Despite the invasion of tourists, the locals were all very pleasant and helpful; very friendly, very gracious. Coming from a tourist town, I know what it's like to deal with all of those out-of-towners, some of whom are not very nice. Hubby and I made a point of saying, "Good morning" or "Hello, how are you?" or something along those lines, when we went into shops or at least smiled and nodded, as we walked past. We made small talk on occasion, with some of the local residents, when we ran into them.

John, the carriage driver who gave us a tour our first day, always waved when he saw us. How he managed to remember us, out of the swarm of strange faces he sees, I'll never know. If you ever go to St. George, be sure to look him up for a tour. He was very good.

We ran into a woman taking up donations for Bermuda's Literacy Program on King's Square, Wednesday I think it was. We talked with her for a few minutes, asked her about the Literacy Program, made a donation, told her where we were from and how much we were enjoying seeing Bermuda.

Then there was the lady manning the Globe Hotel and gift shop. And when we mentioned we were from Charleston? She was delighted! We tied right in with the exhibit they had going on, about the blockade runners. If there hadn't been other customers in there, I'm sure we could have talked for quite some time!

There was the lady that sat next to me on the bus to Hamilton. I'm not sure if she was headed to work, to shop or if she had some special event to go to (she was dressed up), but we made small talk until she reached her stop. Again, very gracious and pleasant, despite the fact that there were so many tourists, the locals could barely get on the bus.

We met some nice people onboard, too. We spent time with two couples, in particular, up on the Sun Deck. It turned out, they were from Columbia, SC. Hubby was comfortable with them, which was a relief. He has his routine, his circle of friends and places he goes and he's not comfortable at all, stepping outside of that. He hit it off with these two fellows, which made me happy. Us wives could come and go, doing our own things, and the guys would sit at their table, talk and people watch.

And then there was the guy from Myrtle Beach that looked JUST like my brother! Looked like him, walked like him, talked like him and even acted like him! I'm sure he and his wife thought all four of us were nuts because we goggled everytime we ran into the two of them! We did tell him why, though. It was uncanny! I told his wife that you know, you always hear that everyone has a double somewhere. If her husband ever goes to Sumter, SC, he's liable to run into "himself"! I kept calling him "My Other Brother". LOL

The staff onboard were amazing. Our steward always had a smile on his face and did a wonderful job, keeping the bed changed and the cabin/bathroom clean. Our towels were always folded up into animal shapes on our beds, when we'd return for the night. The bed was turned down and mints on the pillow. The wait staff and dining staff were exceptional. I'll never know how they managed all of what they had to do and do it with a smile. I never saw any of them flustered or in a bad mood. And I never saw any of them spill anything, even during rough seas! The mixologists (Samuel and Terestor) in the Polo Club were very professional. It wasn't Samuel's fault that I didn't care for my martini. The Bloody Marys were excellent!

We did not wind up being party animals. Even though we were not on our usual schedule, like we are at home, we somehow ended up going to bed early and rising early. You'd think, with not having to get up and go to work, we'd cut loose! Come 8:00 or 9:00, we were barely able to keep our eyes open. And I did enjoy sleeping to that gentle rocking, while that ship was underway. My head would hit the pillow and I was GONE!

I did no shopping onboard. They had lots of expensive perfumes, clothing and jewelry and souvenir type items. There were a few bargains to be had but nothing that I really wanted or had any use for. I wasn't going to buy just for the sake of buying. And you wouldn't believe the number of folks snatching that stuff up, like it was the only place in the world they could get it. And I'm not just talking about things with the NCL logo or Bermuda/Caribbean themes. Most of it could have been bought back home. I guess the duty free shop made sense, if you drank the high end liquor they carried. Even so, there was a limit to how much you could purchase in the duty free shop.

St. George does not offer much in the way of shopping, other than shops geared towards tourists, with tourist merchandise and at tourist prices. At least, I didn't see any. I'd imagine, that you might do better in the Hamilton area, somewhere where the locals shop. It's probably the same in any tourist destination. I know it is, here. Everything in downtown Charleston now, is all high end boutiques and places like Talbots, Saks, Banana Republic, expensive antique stores, etc. Or shops with tourist stuff. To get good deals, you have to get out of town, in either West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant or North Charleston. And you can find things that are evocative of Charleston and her history in those areas, without paying the tourist's prices downtown. It has always boggled my mind, that people will come all the way to Charleston and shop like a maniac at stores that they probably have back home. I don't get it.

Anyway, I really didn't go with the intention of doing a lot of shopping. I did want to get some things, as mementos of our trip. I mainly wanted to SEE everything. That was the highlight of the trip for me, other than having some time with Hubby, away from the usual routine of the work week. And having some time with my Dad. Our visits are usually just overnighters or maybe a couple of days. With him living 3 hours away, we don't get together as often as I'd like It was nice not to be rushed, for once.

I missed not being online. I missed not being able to check the weather, except by looking out the window. I'd have known that bad weather was looming, if I'd been online. There's nothing I could have done about it but I do like to know what's coming. I missed not checking in on the blogs. Not that I would have spent a lot of time online, even if it had been more reasonably priced. I had Hubby, Dad and SMom to do things with and I wanted to spend time with them. Even if we didn't stay together as a group all day, every day. We did meet for breakfast every morning and we did plan things together. But we also had a lot of free time, to do whatever we wanted, whether it was to take a nap, curl up with a book, explore, go to shows, do crafting or just sit on the Sun Deck and people watch.

I do regret was that it was a bit too chilly for me, to break out my bathing suits and soak up some sun. There were quite a number that did but they must live further north than we do. My blood is just too thin. The sun would come out, it would get warm and I'd start thinking about it. Then, it would cloud back over and turn chilly again. The wind was almost constant up on that sunning deck while we were underway. And I didn't want to spend time on the sunnning deck while we were in port. I had things to do and people to see! It would have been tolerable if the sun had stayed out long enough. But it never did. It was like that the whole time. Sun for a little while, then clouds, then some sun. And always, the wind or a really stiff breeze. 68º to maybe 72º/73º or so was the average high and it would drop down to maybe 60º to 65º at night. SMom suggested the hot tub but it always seemed to be crowded with strangers who had had a drop too many or were in the process of getting there. Not my cup of tea at all.

I was surprised to learn that you can spend U.S. dollars in Bermuda. You don't have to change your money or deal with trying to convert dollars into Bermudan money or vice versa. Everything I saw had U.S. prices on them. You paid in U.S. dollars and got U.S. change back. Barring a few instances when we got Bermudan dimes or nickels. I would have loved to have gotten my hands on some Bermudan paper money. It is gorgeous. Makes ours look dowdy in comparison! LOL

Anyway, I guess that's it. It was lovely, we had a great time and we may go again someday but there's just no place like home!

SCNorthAugustan was nice enough to share this link with us:
Link This has his recounting of the cruise. His pictures are very good and he was even able to get some of the rescue!

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.