Cheer Du Jour

A little cheer to forget your troubles, and better yet, to toast with a glass of bubbles!

Nov 11 – Veterans Day

Veterans Day Ceremony

To all veterans, you have my most sincere gratitude and admiration. What you do for our country can never be overstated, and yet so often, we are far too understated in thanking you. Though we are inundated with Veterans Day sales commercials, we must remember the true reason for the holiday.

I found an interesting snippet while reading the Chicago Tribune today, in the “Parade” section (also online at parade.com/vets). There are varying levels of investments, but I think we can all start by at least saying thank you when you see a veteran and by sending a card via amillionthanks.org.

Thanks to the Veterans.via parade.com/vets…

Upgrade a soldier’s helmet: For $35, you can provide a service member cushioning helmet pads to help protect against traumatic brain injury.  operation-helmet.org

Foster a companion animal: Pets for Vets pairs shelter dogs with veterans in an effort to ease the emotional wounds of war. Volunteers are needed to offer foster care for rescues, as are professional trainers to prepare the dogs for their new roles.
pets-for-vets.com

Help throw a baby shower: Celebrate an expectant mom whose husband is deployed or injured by sending a gift or volunteering in person at a party hosted by Operation Shower.  operationshower.org

Mail a care package: Look up specific requests for reading material, DVDs, games, and relief supplies from service members in all five branches of the military; pack the items with a letter of thanks and ship them off.  booksforsoldiers.com

Tune in to Tim McGraw: As part of his initiative with Chase and Operation Homefront to provide mortgage-free homes for vets and service members in need, the country star is performing a concert tonight for military families, to air on the Pentagon channel and on his website (8:45 p.m. ET).  timmcgraw.com

Support a Mission Continues fellow: The Mission Continues fellowship program allows post-9/11 veterans to continue serving at home by volunteering for 26 weeks with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and American Red Cross. Your donation can help vets finds ways to channel their skills as they transition back to the civilian world.  Missioncontinues.org

Share your points: Transfer your hotel rewards points to Fisher House Foundation’s “Hotels for Heroes” program, which provides accommodations to the families of military service members who are undergoing medical treatment.  Fisherhouse.org

Offer a vet a ride: Join the VA’s Volunteer Transportation Network and you can drive veterans to and from their appointments for services.  Volunteer.va.gov

Donate gifts for kids in Iraq and Afghanistan: Operation Give collects toys and school and art supplies that our troops can then distribute to to local children in the areas where they are serving.  Operationgive.org

Share your expertise: Sign up to teach a class or be a mentor to wounded veterans interested in exploring business opportunities after they leave the hospital.  100entproject.org

Send a holiday card: To date, amillionthanks.org has delivered more than six million letters to service members and veterans. This holiday season, express your appreciation for our troops with a festive card containing a personal message or prayer, postmarked by December 1.  amillionthanks.org

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July 15 – Return of the Twinkies!

Box of Twinkies

English: Ding Dong

Twinkie

Twinkies are back! Not just back, but storming store shelves today. Hostess plans an initial roll-out of 50 MILLION creme-filled sponge cake wonders just for this week alone. The company has designated this “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” Some of you may have already scored a hit, as Wal-Mart stores had early access.

It was mid-November when the sweet hit the fan – radio stations broadcast the dire news that Hostess was shutting down operations. Like any rational adult, I made a mad dash to my local Hostess outlet store – just in time to see a crotchety, older man snatch the last box of ho-ho’s (I admit to thinking, for just a split second, that perhaps a Jerry-Seinfeld-marble-rye-snatch-and-run was in order. However, with a checkout line of 40+ people, the getaway was challenging…I mean, that of course such action was completely out of line. Following my momentary lapse of conscience, I admitted defeat – proceeding to check all retail establishments along the way home, searching for the elusive blue and white boxes. I searched the aisles, looking behind other brands’ snack cakes, in case someone had squirreled away a package of the good stuff. Not a single fruit pie was to be found. When I returned home, I spied all the postings on e-Bay. Twinkies were suddenly worth their weight in gold. Now, truth be told, I am more of a Ding Dong fan (oh, the chocolate enrobed ring of snack cake perfection), and the coconut-coated Snowballs, but I had become quite attached to the chocolate-filled Twinkie (slightly less calories than my beloved Ding Dongs). It was hard to believe that they were all gone, and I fielded more than a few calls from fellow mourners that day. We consoled each other with the belief that a brand as nostalgic as Twinkies couldn’t be gone forever. They were the stuff of legends, after all, the food that had a gazillion-year shelf life, and could stock yesterday’s bomb shelters and today’s go-bags to sweeten any apocalypse.

This past May, we made our annual trek to Hilton Head, SC. However, we wondered if our traditional stop at Street Meet was in jeopardy. This little gem turns out the most delicious dessert of a fried Twinkie ala mode. Although this definitely is not allowed in my diet (I know it is supposed to be a lifestyle change, but any deprivation of such calorie-laden delights must be a diet), I make an exception for this dish. Of course, I split it, so I’m sure there are hardly any calories (let alone fat grams) in my portion. Thank goodness, the restaurant had amassed a stockpile of Twinkies large enough to carry them through to the return of the Twinkies. As always, the deep-fried golden sponge cake (with its light, crispy batter on the outside to contrast against that airy cake and dreamy, creamy filling, all sopping up the melting ice cream) was incredible. By this time, the news was out that Twinkies would indeed return, so the dessert was extra sweet.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Hostess plans to roll out additional products, aimed at today’s market (smaller portions, lower calories) along with its historic favorites. Also, expect to see Twinkies and their cousins in many new environments, from hotels, to cruise ships, to movie theaters. And, still at Street Meet, I hope!

To celebrate, you may want to try a Twinkie fry yourself. Food.com has a recipe – I haven’t tried it….yet. I’m pretty sure a nice glass of Prosecco would pair perfectly with either the fried or original version. To add to the nostalgic pleasure, watch Twinkie the Kid (below, circa 1985), as he interviews kids to solve the mystery of the creamy middle.

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