Cheer Du Jour

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

July 24 – National Tequila Day

Tequila Sunrise

Feliz Dia de Tequila! Now, this is one of those holidays that really, really needs to be on a Friday (for full weekend recovery). Listed below are some Tequila facts from the Jose Cuervo website to get you started. According to food.com, during the 1918 worldwide flu epidemic, Mexican doctors prescribed doses of tequila as treatment. So, drink a glass to your health!

Later today, from 6-7 p.m. (PST), BevMo! and Casamigos Tequila will be hosting a Twitter party, and will answer your questions about the drink of legends. Details via MarketWired: To participate, Twitter users must follow @BevMo and @Casamigos and join the conversation by searching and using the hashtag. BevMo! and Casamigos will be tweeting all things tequila, from the best way to enjoy it, to the ultimate tequila cocktails. In addition to the Twitter party, fans will have the opportunity to submit their tequila-related questions answered by Casamigos founders Clooney and Rande.

Of course, the holiday isn’t all about drinking (well, mostly) – tequila is a great addition to many dishes (click here to get some great Tequila Day food recipes from examiner.com).

And, we can’t possibly end the day without singing and dancing to “Tequila” – preferably Pee-wee Herman style (white platform shoes optional):

My Tale of Tequila-Enhanced Table-Dancing (sans platform shoes): As you’ll note in the facts and links below, tequila is not stronger than other spirits. It is not the demon drink that inspired the blurred t-shirts that warn: “1 tequila, 2 tequilas, 3 tequilas, FLOOR”. Respectfully, I have three words to dispute these claims – Carlos n’ Charlie’s. On occasion, I will indulge in one of those salty-rimmed frozen concoctions that masquerade as margaritas. These are usually made from mixes and are very light on alcohol. I had never had pure tequila until that alice-down-the-rabbit-hole experience that was my visit to the Cozumel bar. Carlos n’ Charlie’s has quite a reputation, and I decided to see what it was all about while on a cruise a few years ago. My intent was to sip on a Diet Coke while everyone else got plastered. It was a warm afternoon, and there was a special (warning #1 – beware of the specials!) on an ice-cold frozen strawberry daiquiri. Innocent enough, and the price was barely higher than a soda. The speakers blasted a great mix of music, and the eclectic decor instantly made you feel relaxed and ready to party. A fair few spring breakers were in attendance, as well as a number of people old enough to know better (putting myself safely in that category). I found a table next to a group of people I had met earlier on the ship, all at least 10 years my senior. We settled ourselves in for a good show, being drunk vicariously through those wild young people. Then, a whistle blew, announcing a waitress ready to ply you with a shot of tequila (warning #2 – when you hear the whistle, run the other way). A short while later, the dj got everyone up to form a conga line (final warning – keep your mouth closed at all times during a conga line). As we danced our way through the acres of bar tables and chairs, helpful waitstaff provided a refreshing pour (which is significantly larger than a shot) of tequila. I couldn’t really tell you much more, as the rest of the stay became a blur. I do remember returning to my cabin, wondering how a rose found its way into my purse. The next morning (after a hefty dose of aspirin), I looked at digital photos from the prior evening. Those well-mannered ship mates of mine (the very same ladies who wore Estee Lauder perfume with their pearls, and their husbands who sported the classic knee-sock pairing with their pressed shorts) were captured in infamy. They were dancing on the tables, posing with roses between their teeth, getting up close and personal with the twenty-somethings. Thank goodness, I seemed to be the photographer and remained (upright) on the floor, escaping with nothing worse than a terrible hangover…and a healthy respect for the agave nectar.

Tequila Facts from JoseCuervo.com:

Fact #1  Was there really a person named Jose Cuervo?  Yes. Jose Antonio de Cuervo was the first Tequila producer, obtaining the land from the King of Spain in 1758, before Mexico became an independent republic. In 1795, Jose María Guadalupe de Cuervo made the very first Vino Mezcal de Tequila de Jose Cuervo when he received the first official permit from the King of Spain to produce Tequila commercially

Fact #2  Who was the first producer of Tequila in the world?  Jose Cuervo, of course, since 1795.

Fact #3  Where is Jose Cuervo Tequila really made?  All Jose Cuervo Tequila is made in the central Mexican town of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. According to the DOT (Declaration for the Protection of the Denomination of Origin—this is the Mexican law that oversees the protection of Tequila), only alcoholic beverages made with Blue Agave or agave azul (Agave Tequilana Weber blue variety) grown in the states of Jalisco,Michoacan, Nayarit, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas can be labeled as Tequila. No agave grown outside this region, including other countries, can be used for any product labeled as “Tequila.”

Fact #4  What is Tequila made from?  Real Tequila is made from a plant called Blue Agave. Only the Agave Azul Tequilana Weber variety (Blue Agave) can be used for Tequila. Classified by German botanist F. Weber in 1905, the Blue Agave is commonly mistaken for a cactus, but it is really a relative of the lily (amaryllis) family. Blue Agave is sometimes known as maguey, mexic, pita and teometl.

Fact #5  How long does it take for an agave plant to reach maturity?  Blue agave can take anywhere from 6 to 12 years to mature. This is when the Agave reach their peak in sugars and will yield the most Tequila. The plant is used entirely once and then more agave must be planted to continue the production process.

Fact #6  Is Tequila mezcal?  No. They are often confused, but they’re really not the same at all. For example, Tequila can only be made from the Blue Agave, grown in specified regions of Jalisco, while mezcal can be made from many different varieties of agave such as Mano Larga, Espadin, etc..Tequila is always double-distilled, while mezcal is generally distilled once.

Fact #7  Why is there a worm in my Tequila bottle?  THERE ISN’T. What you have is not a bottle of Tequila. The worm is found only in certain bottles of mezcal. The worm is nothing but a marketing gimmick!

Fact #8  What is a piña?  The piña (Spanish word for pineapple) is the heart of the agave from which sugars are extracted and Tequila is made. The word piña is used because once harvested, the heart of the plant resembles a pineapple.

Fact #9  What is the secret to great Tequila?  Experience, handcraftsmanship and recipes that have been handed down generation through generation. Jose Cuervo has been making Tequila the same way for over 250 years. Carefully choosing the best agaves, meticulous fermentation and distillation, and final processing result in the world’s finest Tequila.

Fact #10  Why is Tequila stronger than other spirits?  It isn’t. Jose Cuervo produces at 38% to 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), just like most spirits. Tequila, however, has a unique flavor and is frequently consumed straight as a shot. This intense taste experience may be what leads people to mistakenly think that Tequila is “stronger.”

Fact #11  Which Jose Cuervo products are gluten-free?  Being straight distilled spirits, all Jose Cuervo Tequilas are gluten free. In addition, Jose Cuervo Authentic Cuervo Margaritas, Margarita Minis, and Golden Margaritas are also gluten-free.

Fact #12  What does “añejo” mean?  Translated from Spanish, “añejo” means “aged.” In Tequila terms, “añejo” is the designation for Tequila that has been aged in oak barrels for at least one year.

Fact #13  What does “reposado” mean?  Reposado means “rested.” Tequila must be “rested” in wood barrels, for a minimum of two months. This is a requirement of the Mexican government. The “resting” mellows and refines the Tequila, producing a combination of superb smoothness and great taste.

Fact #14  What are Normas?  Normas are the standards set by the Mexican government, specifying what Tequila is and how it must be made. Each bottle of real Tequila must have a NOM (Normas Oficiales Mexicanas) 4-digit number on the bottle. This number indicates the distillery where the Tequila is made. Jose Cuervo’s NOM numbers are 1104 and 1122.

Fact #15  Which Tequilas are real Mexican Tequilas?  Real Tequila can only be produced in five very specific regions in Mexico. Tequila received a Designation of Origin (appellation de controlee) in 1997. It’s the same as an appellation for Bordeaux, Bourbon or Cognac. The Mexican federal government has established strict requirements governing Tequila production.

via Jose Cuervo.

Toast birthday girl Amelia Earhart with a tequila cocktail – just be sure NOT to celebrate National Drive-Thru Day after so imbibing.

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July 7 – Tanabata: May Your Greatest Wish Come True!

Tanabata decorations for the Tanabata Festival...

Happy Tanabata! Below is a description of the holiday from Jade’s Escape. For those of us not able to fly to Japan to celebrate this festival, there is Air YouTube. Click here to take a virtual trip to Chuo-dori (note that this footage is from the celebration from 8/6-8/8/09

Tanabata

Tanabata (Photo credit: kansaikate)

, see below for details, and is part 1 of 3). A day dedicated to hopeful wishes sounds like an excellent holiday (please, please Lotto hear my wish!) to me. However, according to Rocket News 24, the trend is that fewer people are following the custom of writing a wish and hanging it form a bamboo plant. Luckily, Calpis (a Japanese drink company) has run a survey and found that 23% of people surveyed answered “yes” to the question: “Did you have a wish written and tied on bamboo come true?“. I’ll take those odds to be a multi-millionaire (or one of my many other wishes), by simply hanging my written wish on a bamboo. Try your luck today (and again on 8/7, it doesn’t hurt to try again!), and let me know if you had success! Even if those stubborn lottery gods don’t grant my wish, I will be thrilled if someone else’s wish comes true. Good Luck!

Happy Tanabata! 幸せ七夕! via Jade’s Escape, 6 Jul

People usually write wishes (お願い) for Tanabata and tie them to a bamboo branch. My wish this year: "I want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam".

People usually write wishes (お願い) for Tanabata and tie them to a bamboo branch. My wish this year: “I want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam”.

People usually write wishes (お願い) for Tanabata and tie them to a bamboo branch. My wish this year: “I want to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Exam”.

There are many festivals celebrated throughout the year in Japan. However many festivals exist in Japan, there is only one fixed festival that honors the representation of stars: hopeful wishes.

Tanabata (たなばた, 七夕), or the Star Festival, is celebrated every year on July 7th all over Japan with local variations. It honors the legend of two lovers separated by the Milky Way. Fortunately, the lovers, Cowherd Star, or Altair, and Weaver Star, or Vega, are allowed to meet once a year on the evening of July 7th.

The legend, which is derived from a Chinese folktale known in Japanese as Kikkoden (きっこでん, 乞巧奠), is about a cow herder named Hikoboshi and a weaver princess, Orihime, who played together so much, they forgot their duties, upsetting the king. In response, the king separated Hikoboshi and Orihimi by a river called Amanogawa River, or the Milky Way. However, Orihimi begged the king to allow her to see Hikoboshi again, so the king set aside one day for them to meet. Though tanabata’s legendary story is one about two lovers, the festival itself is a time where wishes are asked to come true.

During tanabata, people write their wishes onto small and colorful strips of paper called tanzaku (たんざく, 短冊). Once the tanzaku are hung onto bamboo stalks or trees and displayed in their yards and home entrances, people pray for their wishes to come true. The next day, the decorations with the tanzaku are released into oceans, rivers, or streams. Colored streamers are also used to show off the tanabata spirit around the neighborhood. Other decorations include a casting net, or toami (とあみ, 投網), for good luck in fishing and farming, and a purse, or kinchaku (きんちゃく, 巾着), for wealth and good business.

Each area of Japan celebrates tanabata differently. Several areas light torches as part of the celebration, while others use horse-shaped puppets instead of bamboo stalks for displaying their tanazaku. Though tanabata is largely celebrated on July 7th, some areas of Japan celebrate tanabata on August 7th alongside the ancestral summer holiday, Bon (ぼん, 盆), which honors the return of the family’s ancestors. Outside of Bon, some cities couple tanabata with another celebration. Aomori of the Touhoku Region also celebrates the star festival with the Nebuta (ねぶた) Festival, parading lanterns made of papier-mache alongside customary tanabata decorations.

Amongst all of the tanabata celebrations, Sendai of the Miyagi Prefecture and Hiratsuka of the Kanagawa Prefecture are known to have elaborate tanabata events. Because of this, Sendai and Hiratsuka have become tourist attractions during the month of July.

With the exception of the original tale, tanabata is one of Japan’s celebrations where hopes and wishes are requested in full festival fashion.

via Happy Tanabata! 幸せ七夕! | Jade’s Escape.

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June 16th – National Fudge Day

Vegan Chocolate Fudge.

Oh Fudddggge!!!! Ralphie’s classic line always comes to mind when I think of fudge (click here to hear it for yourself). I also think of the dream job championed by the Cheermeister – Fudge Judge. Then, there are the endless batches of fudge to be made for gifts (and Santa, of course, to go with the cookies). Sensing a holiday theme here?

So, it seemed a bit odd to me that National Fudge Day is in June. Then, I remembered all the fudge shops to be found in any given summer tourist spot. You can’t walk down a boardwalk without seeing fudge, t-shirts and “special” tourist info booths hawking time-share demos in exchange for “free tickets to the hottest attractions”. Oh, and of course there is always lots of taffy too, but we missed Taffy Day (May 23rd).

In case you gobbled down said fudge on the way back from your holiday (maybe it was starting to melt?). There is no shortage of fudge recipes available. Click here to see ten drool-worthy fudge recipes on examiner.com – how about bourbon fudge, or peanut butter fudge, or FUDGE ICE CREAM! A friend of mine swears by the Carnation Fudge Recipe, but cautions you must bring the ingredients to a rolling boil and cook (stirring constantly) for the full 4-5 minutes (in other words, follow the recipe). Foodnetwork.com even has a recipe for fudge pie, from who else but Paula Deen?

So, load yourself up with this delicious confection and have a fudgetastic holiday!

Fudge

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June 8 – Best Friend Day

Time to celebrate your best friend! This may be your friend from childhood, your confidant, your spouse/partner, your sibling (or other family member), your furry (or feathered, finned, etc) friend, yourself, etc., etc. In times of great stress, it may even be chocolate! Take time today to relax and enjoy your friendship. Send a free friendship e-card at Care2.com. If you’re feeling crafty, click on this video to learn how to make a friendship bracelet. The title promises it’s “super easy”. I have my reservations…after several aggravating attempts recently to follow “beginner’s origami” demos (and a basket full of crumpled paper and the sting of a paper cut for my efforts). Still, if all else fails, you can twist the yarn (or thread) and make a pretty loop. Coupled with a bottle of wine, your friend will praise your efforts (it’s the thought that counts, right?).

You might also want to spend the day watching an Ab Fab marathon – two besties that never cease to entertain with their hilarious hijinks. Season 2 includes “New Best Friend”, where the unthinkable happens – Patsy and Eddie seek other best friends (spoiler alert – all is well at the end). To celebrate their friendship, watch this clip.

Absolutely Fabulous letters - BBC

Reach out globally later this summer – International Friendship Day is August 4th this year.

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I Hoodie Hoo’d – Did You?

At the stroke of noon, I was outside, doing my part to Hoodie Hoo away the winter. In my enthusiam to participate, I forgot to grab my coat as I went out – and 14F is cold! Still, I Hoodie Hoo’d my lungs out, hoping my lips wouldn’t freeze permanently in mid-Hoo.

We’ll see later this week if our efforts paid off – Storm Q is looming! I think it was a good sign that when I re-entered the building, teeth chattering ever so slightly, OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, for those few people who may just be a tad younger than I) was playing on the intercom. A rare occurence, that surely must bode well for us.

p.s. If you haven’t done so yet, get Hoodie Hoo-ing. Like Happy Hour, it is always noon somewhere in the world. The ritual works as a great stress-reliever, as an added bonus.

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