a new kind of Christmas

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This holiday season a lot of my friends took part in unconventional traditions. You can add me into this group, too. Rather than boarding a plane and heading back to the Motherland (Wisconsin), I found my mom picking me up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Arriving in Charlotte wasn’t even the end of it; from there we drove 2 hours west to their new home in Hendersonville, NC.  After a week with my family in Hendersonville, I can report back saying Christmas wasn’t any different from other years (other than the fact that I didn’t get to see Matt). We still watch an uncountable amount of Christmas movies, drank a great deal of Brandy Old Fashioneds, went to Mass on Christmas Eve and waited to open gifts on Christmas day afternoon.

Growing up you can only imagine Christmas at your house, with that special dinner, opening gifts, etc., but once you hit a certain age that all changes. I now see and understand that it doesn’t matter where I celebrate Christmas as long as family and your loved ones surround you Christmas is the exact same. Do you feel that Christmas can only be special by celebrating it a particular way?

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy New Year!

flag day

a little history

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I never knew Flag Day was such a big deal. Matt gave me the suggestion to write a post about Flag Day to inform people on what it is. After accepting his idea on the blog post, I realized that I had no idea what Flag Day really was either. Flag Day is actually really interesting and I am happy to hear what I’ve learned with you.

June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress adopted a resolution stated the design of the American flag, “that the flag of the United States shall be of  thirteen stripes of alternate red and white, with a union of thirteen stars of white in a blue field, representing the new constellation.”  Though the Continental Congress fought for this resolution the observance of the adoption of the flag was not seen in their lifetime. Although there are many claims to the first official observance of Flag Day, all but one took place more than an entire century after the flag’s adoption in 1777.  Both President Wilson, in 1916, and President Coolidge, in 1927, issued proclamations  asking for June 14 to be observed as the National Flag Day. But it wasn’t until August 3, 1949, that Congress approved the national observance, and President Harry Truman signed it into law.

Now to some present day facts:

The National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution as part of its observance of the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.

Dimensions are enormous: 30 by 42 feet. Fashioned of red, blue and undyed wool, with cotton for the 15 stars, the banner was planned as a bold statement to the British who were sure to come. When they did come in September 1914, Key witnessed the forceful — but unsuccessful — bombardment of the Fort. As the story goes, thus inspired, he wrote his famous words on the back of an envelope. Various Reisterstown residents, some years later, undoubtedly had chats with Francis Scott Key, Jr. and his famous father when the two came shopping in the village from Key Jr.’s home, “The Elms,” several miles up Westminster Pike.

This flag was turned over many years later to the Smithsonian, after a $7 million restoration — thanks in part to designer Ralph Lauren — now is displayed in a temperature-controlled chamber.

 

beignet

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Remember back in February when I was talking about the new goodies called croknots, cronuts, crodolis and so on? Well I am ready for a new treat, the beignet, which I am sure you’ve heard of. This treat is a New Orleans classic. Now, I’ve never had one, but I can only picture what it tastes like. To me, a beignet is a cross between a funnel cake and a donut. Beignets were also brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. These are fried fritters which are often a treat. Sometimes they may be savory dishes as well and may contain meat, vegetables, or fruits. From what I understand, the beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar.

Later tonight I will be making a pit stop at the ever-famous, Café du Monde, and I am sure it is going to be a highlight of this New Orleans trip! Café du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination that specializes in the powdered sugar beignets.

I am beyond ready to experience some New Orleans tradition!

Derby Days

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It’s that time of year again and Spring is finally in the air. Let’s greet the Kentucky Derby with welcome arms. Sure the Derby is about horse racing, but it’s really about fashion and tradition. The Kentucky Derby is a chance for every female to express her inner Southern Belle so take notes and never hold back when planning your Derby fashion pieces!1125-girls-next-door-derby-hats_bd

Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is believed to bear good luck!  The long-established fashion was started by the women. But, over the last few years, many men have taken part in the tradition as well.  Wearing a hat is much like getting into costume, you might be pleasantly surprised to see what type of character you become. From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits.  In the clubhouse and paddock, women of grace and taste sport classy, fashionable styles. In the infield, the headwear has tendancy to take on a zealous character.

With tradition comes a Mint Julep. The Mint Julep has been the traditional beverage of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Early Times Kentucky Whisky has been privileged and honored to be a part of that tradition. The Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail has been “The Official Mint Julep of the Kentucky Derby” for more than 18 years.

When celebrating the Derby this weekend be sure to toast your inner Southern Belle with a Mint Julep.

holiday traditions

Everyone has different holiday traditions and I am always interested in hearing about them. This year I will get to experience new holiday traditions. This holiday season marks a new chapter in my life. From here on out I will be celebrating two ways: once with my family and another with Matts. As I know my family’s traditions, I am excited to learn about the new ones I will encounter with Matt and his family. Below Matt tells us about his family’s traditions. Is it Christmas yet?

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

Christmas, edt

guest blog presented by: Matthew D. Shalbrack
You can find Matt on Twitter: @hamsterjockey; insta: hamsterjockey, make sure you follow him

With the holidays quickly approaching, Kendal Ann wanted me to share some of the holiday traditions that my family and I partake in each Christmas. Christmas has always been a big festivity for my family. Each year, we put the tree up, make cookies, go to my Grandpa’s on Christmas Eve, go to midnight mass and then open presents. I get excited for Christmas each year and I’m even more excited for it this year because it’ll be Kendal Ann and my first Christmas together. So many memories will be made! I cannot wait. Here’s a rundown of the main Christmas traditions that I have with my family and ones that Kendal Ann will be a part of this Christmas season as well!

The first weekend in December

On the first weekend in December, my Mom, Dad and I put up our Christmas tree. The type of tree we use varies – a few years ago we used an artificial tree while last year we used a real tree. We have boxes on boxes on boxes of ornaments that we put up each Christmas. Each of these ornaments has a meaning and it’s hard to not get a little misty-eyed while remembering the memories that each ornament possesses. We use colored lights instead of white lights and we sometimes put gold garland around the tree as well (I’m not the biggest fan of this to be honest). But besides spending time with my family, my favorite thing that we do when we put up the tree is listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas CD. On a boom box mind you.

The weekend before Christmas

During the weekend before Christmas, my parents and I always make Christmas cookie cutouts. We roll and knead the dough, bake the dough and then DECORATE DECORATE DECORATE! We have the same old cookie cutouts that we use each year and we use the same sprinkles, but the designs are always different. I have a tendency to put too many sprinkles on my cookies, but I’m okay with that. It’s always great fun and this tradition goes back to when I was just a wee little tike. Can you guess what is playing in the background as we do these cookies? The Charlie Brown Christmas CD obviously.

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, my family has a whole conglomerate of traditions that we take part in. In the early afternoon, we go over to my Grandpa’s house with most of the Shalbrack clan (except for my relatives who live super far away) and we all get together and have dinner. The same thing usually happens each year in terms of eating. My cousin eats all sorts of hors d’oeuvres and then she can’t eat the actual dinner. After we eat the meal, the cousins and I go upstairs and claim out spots in the living room. My cousins and I actually sit in the same spots year after year. It’s great. While we are sitting by all the presents and snooping, the parents are downstairs doing the dishes and cleaning up. After about 30 minutes, my uncle comes upstairs and turns on, you guessed it, the Charlie Brown Christmas CD for us to enjoy until everyone decides to come upstairs. Once everyone is upstairs, we pass out gifts, open them and shoot wrapping paper balls into the garbage bag. After we finish at Grandpa’s, my parents and I head back home to prep for the midnight (10:30 p.m.) mass at church. My Mom is a part of the choir, so she has to get there extra early, so my Dad and I always go later and sit in the choir loft with her. Once mass finishes, we scurry home because Santa has already dropped presents off (my house is obviously one of the first ones he hits). We open presents, listen to more of the Charlie Brown Christmas CD and then we go to bed.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, my family and I have breakfast together and just relax for most of the day. We have a dinner with my Grandma early in the afternoon and that’s about it. Christmas Day for us is all about relaxation and enjoying spending time with one another. It’s great and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Well there you go! You know have a firsthand look into what my family does during Christmas. I cannot wait for Kendal Ann to be a part of these festivities this year! What do you do for the holidays? What things are different and which things are similar to the ones that I have listed?

giving thanks round 3

30 days of thankful, edt. 3

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

As a little recpa, Last November one of my friends was talking about her 30 Days of Thanks project and I wanted to hop on board. Now let me get this out of the way by saying, the idea that being grateful for 30 days is ridiculous; you should be grateful every day, not just for 30 days. That’s the problem though. We know we should be grateful every day, but we aren’t. That’s why 30 Days of Thanks was a project I took under my wing this November.

I understand that you should be grateful every day thing; however, I recognize that doesn’t always happen in my life. I’m working on that. I hope by the end of 30 Days of Thanks project, I will stick to it every day, not just the 30 days that are in November. Alas, every project must start somewhere, so here it goes. Here is a recap of the first 10 days in November.

So here is is friends, these are my last days of  30 Days of Thanks project. I must say, it sounds easy to find one thing to be thankful for everyday, but I wanted to look for more than the easy answers. Every day I am thankful for something and here are some…just to name a few!

11/21- Appreciation

Appreciation goes a long way in the work place. Today, I am thankful for these tiny thank yous and little signs of appreciations from the team I work with. My boss will often go out of her way to show her appreciation or say thank you to me, which is amazing. My team, doesn’t usually do that, but today it was apparent that they were making an effort and wanted to show their gratitude for one another. Seeing these smalls gestures and hearing thank yous gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Let’s keep these up, team. Today I’m not only thankful for y’all, but the work you do with and for me and he attitudes possessed today. Thanks!

11/22- A Simple Hello

Today I am thankful for simplicity. After leaving the Hoodie Allen concert Zach and I got on the metro to head back home. Zach and I were talking to one another and more people would board the train as we got closer to our destination. A man said a simple hello, which sparked a conversation between us and another person. In that moment four strangers were riding the metro in a deep conversation. Those moments are simple. I am thankful for little things like this. These moments make me see that mankind isn’t totally terrible and there are decent people left in the world, we just need to find them.

11/23- The Badgers & Wisconsin Pride

With a heart that bleeds red and white (blue and gold & green and gold) for the badgers and especially Wisconsin, I will always have state pride. Sure it’s hard to be in dc when my badgers are playing the biggest game (minus the rose bowl) of the season, but I feel right at home when I see badgers walking around town. The bars are filled and people are getting into the game. Every year the badgers fight for the Paul bunion (sp?) axe against the gophers. Honestly, it’s not even a fight anymore, they really just let us have it. I am thankful for Wisconsin state pride and my badgers. Great game and thanks for keeping the axe in Madison!

11/24- Surprises

Today, it’s surprises. I love surprising people, and I love being surprised. For a little background, I was going to stay in DC for thanksgiving, but last minute I found a crazy cheap ticket. My boss told me to take it, fly home and enjoy the holiday with my boyfriend and family (thank you!). Originally I was going to surprise the whole family, but I told my parents and we kept my sister in the dark. After meeting up with my parents and doing a little holiday decorating, we made it over to my sisters new house (congrats) for dinner and (for me) to meet her new boyfriend. She was thrilled, and totally surprised. The best part about a surprise is seeing someone’s face light up with a gorgeous smile. The genius happiness makes the room glow and when you’re in that presences you can help but smile yourself. Today, I have a lot to be thankful for.

11/25- A Classic Date

I am thankful for a boyfriend has an unconditional love. I am thankful for my person to be so good to me. Today was classic date night. Matt and I started dating while he was on a visit from Tennessee, so we never had the chance to do the “classic date”, ie, I will pick you up at 8, talk to my parents while I am finishing getting ready, go to dinner and a movie, but today that changed. When Matt arrived he had gorgeous flowers in-hand when he greeted me. He was a gentleman and opened all my doors, kissed me on the cheek and wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. Today I am not only thankful for the classic date night, but also for Matt. #CTBOT I love you.

11/26- The Ability to Work from Home

This week I am working from home, thanks to my awesome boss. I saw an opportunity for a chance to go home and because I asked here I sit. I sit at my kitchen table with my puppy at my side, the fireplace on working. Working from home is a blessing. I couldn’t be more happy or thankful for this opportunity.

11/27- My Aunt

My Aunt Loy is a remarkable lady. Today I am thankful for her and all the bits of knowledge, wit and life experience she has to share with me.

11/28- Family Traditions

Thanksgiving is always different in my family. Sometimes it’s just the 4 of us, sometimes it is with relatives and other times we open or home to neighbors and friends. This year, it was the four of us and my aunt. We always do a few things on Thanksgiving regardless: a last minute grocery store fun, watch football and the parade, make home made rolls and enjoy a holiday movie. Today I am thankful for my family and our little quirky holiday traditions.

11/29- Family Memories

Today I had the opportunity to not only make memories with my family, but also with Matt’s family. Today I am thankful for the opportunity to remember our memories and to reminisce. I am also thankful to make new memories with another family as well as reminisce on their family traditions and memories.

11/30- Unspeakable Moments with Friends

Today I am thankful for the unspeakable moments that I am thankful for. It’s that text message received, a the way a friend smiles when you are talking, a simple let me get the first round. These are thankful moments. The moments with friends shall never be forgotten during the holiday season. Friends are the family you choose, so choose them wisely and most of all show your appreciation and gratitude. This one for you kiddos and our moments!

the world series

the history of the world series

you can find me at: @K_AnnM | Insta | LinkedIn

The World Series is underway. We are a few games in and it is a breathtaking game. There is still no outcome of who will win and come out on top. It is a fist clenching series, which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

To me, the World Series are an important time in baseball, and I would argue that any baseball fan feels this strongly about the World Series as well. The World Series isn’t about your team, it’s about the game…okay, okay it is a little bit about the teams, but if your team doesn’t make it, then it’s absolutely about the game. It’s about the beauty of uncertainty, power, the excitement and the fans. Sometimes there is an underdog who takes it all; honestly it’s about the game.

There were other postseason championships that took place as early as 1884. These were World Series, too, matching the champion of the National League against that of the American Association, but when the latter circuit folded in 1891, there was no interleague postseason contest until the warring AL and NL came to a peace agreement in 1903. The World Series is Don Larsen’s perfect game. The Babe’s called shot. Willie Mays robbing Vic Wertz.

The World Series is about the best of the best that season. Each year, teams play each other in hopes that at the end of the season, they will play in the championship. The World Series is a best of seven series that celebrates our national pastime. I would say this is an event every year which is as an important as any holiday. This is as important as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve and even the Fourth of July. Just  like the start of any season, we are anxious with anticipation; we are anxious for the World Series. I am more anxious for the World Series than I am for Christmas Eve.

For a little history, many changes were on the horizon and in 1901, the American League was established much to the dismay of the senior circuit. Suddenly, baseball found itself engaged in a “civil war” as both rival leagues competed separately for the fan’s loyalty and attention. Two years later, a truce, previously known as the “National Agreement”, was redefined outlining baseball’s employment, salary and travel requirements. The 1903 compromise produced the business blueprint for major-league baseball and resulted in a merger that has lasted to this day. Once again, Boston and Pittsburgh, the top American and National League teams, found themselves competing against one another in the first official “World Series”.

in closing, I read an article the other day that just about sums it all up. The article was found on Slate.com and called, Why Kids love Baseball, by Jordan Ellenberg.

I tried to make my son into an Orioles fan, like me. But the day at Miller Park he saw Carlos Gomez steal second, then third, then break for home, scoring on a wild pitch, like he was playing Atari baseball against a team of hapless 8-bit defenders, he became a Brewers fan for life. (To be precise, he describes himself as 70 percent Brewers, 30 percent Orioles.) We get along fine, in our mixed household. The inconsistency of our rooting interests doesn’t bother him. If there is a lesson baseball can offer us, it’s one about our deepest commitments; that they’re arbitrary, and contingent, but we’re no less committed to them for that. If I’d been born in New York, I might have been a Yankees fan, but luckily for me, I was born in Maryland, so I’m not. Jerry Seinfeld once remarked that baseball fandom, in the age of free agency, amounted to rooting for laundry. That’s not an insult to the game, as Seinfeld, a giant Mets fan, surely understood; it’s a testament to its deepest strength. My son’s love for the Brewers, like mine for the Orioles, is a love with no reason and no justification. True love, in other words.

There you have it folks. You just love the things you do, and there is no changing it. To me, baseball is something I will always love; baseball was the first thing I fell in love with. It is like true love.

homecoming blues

Winona State

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Homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back alumni of a school. More often than not, homecoming refers to a tradition in many universities, colleges and high schools in the States. The tradition includes activities for students and alumni, such as sports and culture events and a parade through the streets of the city or town.

photo 1Waking up bright and early Saturday morning to be greeted by sisters wearing the exact same outfit it always a treat, especially when it’s bringing your school closer. But what is Homecoming without a little friendly competition. One of my favorite parts about Homecoming (other than the football game, of course) is the parade. As a member of Delta Phi Epsilon, we always participate in the parade, whether it was decorating a float or walking to show our spirit, you better believe we were there. This year, the Deephers are the 83rd organization to walk in the parade, though it’s a long haul it will totally be worth it once you see their float.

Though I am not heading back to Winona for homecoming this weekend I can still celebrate here in DC. You better believe I will be sporting my WSU apparel and rocking a purple hair bow come Saturday. Plus with the Warriors current record of 4-2 the Warriors photo 2have a pretty good chance at beating Wayne Sate on Saturday for our annual Homecoming Football game.

Did you know?

The NCAA recognizes the University of Missouri as the birthplace of homecoming.