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Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

A Tribute to Grampa Rasmussen, Determination, and Survival

DELIKATESSE FOR LUTEFISKELSKERELutefisk History:

Lutefisk (pronounced LEWD-uh-fisk) is dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution for several days to rehydrate it. It is rinsed with cold water to remove the lye, then boiled or baked, and then served with butter, salt, and pepper.

The finished lutefisk usually is the consistency of Jello. It is also called lyefish, and in the United States, Norwegian-Americans traditionally serve it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In many Norwegian homes, lutefisk takes the place of the Christmas turkey. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, you can find lutefisk in local food stores and even at some restaurants. It is a food that you either love or hate, and, as some people say, “Once a year is probably enough!”

During the fall in Wisconsin, people watch their local newspapers for announcements of lutefisk suppers, which are usually held in Norwegian churches. Usually every Norwegian church will host at least one lutefisk supper between October and the end of the year. The dinners have become so popular that lovers of this special cod dish drive great distances, and these are not just people of Scandinavian descent.

The history of lutefisk dates back to the Vikings. On one occasion, according to one legend, plundering Vikings burned down a fishing village, including the wooden racks with drying cod. the returning villagers poured water on the racks to put out the fire. Ashes covered the dried fish, and then it rained. the fish buried in the ashes in the ashes thus became soaked in a lye slush. Later the villagers were surprised to see that the dried fish had changed to what looked like fresh fish. They rinsed the fish in water to remove the lye and make it edible, and then boiled it. The story is that one particularly brave villager tasted the fish and declared it “not bad.”

Norwegian-Americans believe that lutefisk was brought by their ancestors on the ships when they came to America, and that it was all they had to eat. Today the fish is celebrated in ethnic and religious celebrations and is linked with hardship and courage.

 

 

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How I enjoy holidays parties without food guilt.

by Isabel De Los Rios
Just too good not too re-post…
Today I want to share with you how I keep up my healthy eating regimen even during all the holiday parties and events.

Actually, the strategies you’ll find below are NOT just specific for the holidays, you can use these methods for any social gathering and party that you may be attending.

Just last Saturday, I hosted my own little party for the parents from my kid’s school. It was really great. A lot of us only see each other during drop off and pickup so it was nice to get to know the other parents outside of the school parking lot.

Many of these parents don’t know me at all…so they don’t know how passionate I am about nutrition and health or that we are completely gluten free and don’t eat any processed food. My goal for the party was to choose foods that would make everyone happy, without having to resort to unhealthy “party” foods.
isabel
Here is what I served:

Corn chips (organic, non GMO) and home-made guacamole
Rice crackers and goat cheese
Raw cheese platter
Veggies and Greek Yogurt Dip
Fruit salad

The party was a huge hit! By the amount of food that was left (almost none) and the wonderful compliments I received, I could safely assume that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the food and did not go home feeling lousy.

Now, a party at my house would be super easy to work with, BUT what if the party you’ll be attending is not quite an Isabel bash? What do you do then?

Here are my top 3 strategies for surviving your next social event or party. These are methods I personally use all the time so I am always excited about any social event or gathering regardless of the food being served.

1. Offer to bring something to the party. I very rarely go to anyone’s home without bringing something homemade (and my friends and family really look forward to it). The host or hostess is always so grateful and at least I know, if nothing else, I can eat the item I brought. Many of the items that I served at my last party (shown above) are also some of the items that I bring to parties. I have also been known to make cocktail meatballs (made from grass fed beef), chicken skewers (made from pastured poultry) or smoked salmon on cucumber slices. You may want to give your hostess/host a few options and see which one appeals to him or her the most. (Tip: Guacamole and fresh veggies is almost always a huge hit everywhere I go!)

2. Eat before the party. Do not arrive starving! If you really don’t think the party will offer anything that is an acceptable option for you, eat beforehand so that you are not partying hungry. If someone asks why you’re not eating, you can use any of the following responses and none of them would be lying: “I had a really late lunch and I’m not quite hungry yet. Everything does look great and I’ll be sure to try something out,” OR “I’m definitely going to grab something here in a sec. Thanks for asking,” OR my personal favorite, “I get pretty sick if I eat any wheat or dairy so I try and stay away from it. I definitely would not want to get sick at this great party.” As far as I’m concerned, none of those are rude, nor are they lies (especially the last one!) I actually use a very similar response for my children, “My kids get very sick if they eat wheat or dairy so I try and keep them away from it.”…No more explanation needed. I find that the people that truly care for you will want you to be healthy and would never want you to get sick, especially at their party!

3. Focus on something else besides the food. This is where having 2 toddlers really comes in handy (so if you want to borrow mine, please let me know). Many times, I really can’t even focus on the food and what’s being served because I need to tend to my children (every parent reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about). But, you may not have kids, or you may be attending this particular party without them. Focus on catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a long time, engage in conversations you don’t have the opportunity to have otherwise, and maybe even get your “groove on” on the dance floor (c’mon, what’s a party without dancing?). Keep your focus on the true goal of the party and that’s to enjoy yourself with family and friends, not to focus on what food is being served or what you should or shouldn’t be eating.

And most importantly, I want you to NOT beat yourself up if the party just doesn’t go the way you wanted. Maybe you had one too many cocktails, maybe the brownies were just too good to say no to, or maybe you just ended up eating every single thing that came in your direction. Leave that party behind you and move on. Today is another day and another opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle. One party will not make or break your weight loss goals or your health.

The most important thing you can do is see it as one night or just one party, and not as a reason to let all of your healthy efforts go to the way side. I know this time of year can pose some challenges, so arm yourself with the tools above and remember that this season is about happiness, joy and the togetherness of family and friends.

In health and happiness,

 

 

 

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Retailers Get Tables Turned On Them For Black Friday

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Marketing Agency Lets Retailers Know How Their Customers Feel   

 As more and more shoppers head out to beat the holiday rush to get discounts on ‘the world’s greatest gifts’ for those on their shopping lists, Black Friday sales continue to increase each year. This, in itself, may not seem like news until you look at where this is happening. What IS surprising is that this sales juggernaut is not just taking place in the United States anymore. Rather, Black Friday is now becoming an accepted, highly effective sales tool for retailers throughout Canada.

An over-simplified distinction between the U.S. and Canada is that while Americans tend to adopt Canuck ideas, and, even people, Canadians are more likely to adapt an idea from elsewhere by making slight alterations…thus making it somewhat unique in their own way.  Case in point, Black Friday, which started off as a holiday sales event tied-into the U.S. Thanksgiving, is now becoming a part of the Canadian sales culture—despite the fact that Canada’s Thanksgiving Day takes place almost six weeks earlier.

“As recently as just two years ago, there were probably only a few dozen early-adopter businesses participating in Black Friday marketing in this country. This year, however, we expect almost a majority of retailers to participate based on last years’ observation and the abundance of TV, radio, print and online advertising we’ve been seeing this past week,” said Andrew Sharpe, founder of Vancouver-based marketing agency Brandspank.

And while retail sales on Black Friday in Canada have increased, the sales have not been restricted to traditional advertisers, like retailers. In fact, retailer marketing agency Brandspank has leveraged the idea of a Black Friday sale by adapting it into a B2B promotion.  The result is #BrandspankFRIDAY and it’s targeted squarely on retailers; the promotion provides them with a chance to save up to 40% off the agency’s most popular marketing services—including websites or experiential campaigns. It literally reverses the roles for retailers by allowing them to experience what their own customers usually experience—deep discounted savings.

To promote the event, Brandspank is employing some marketing techniques that retailers are quite familiar with—including an eCommerce site (http://bit.ly/1950neN), flyers (http://bit.ly/1aSYsxL), relationship marketing and online advertising…not to mention posters in the storefront windows of their boutique office located in a shopping mall.

As a marketing agency, Sharpe and his team were very familiar with the toll Black Friday can put on a retail organization, as well as the heightened stress that is experienced by the marketers within those retail organizations.  And it is for this reason that Brandspank felt that retailers deserved a little bit of retail therapy themselves.

“Most retailers are usually on the giving end of a Black Friday sale. So we wanted to give these retailers a chance to experience the same sense of satisfaction and excitement that their own customers experience during their own sales.” Sharpe went on to say, “Given the success that our retail clients have had with Black Friday, we felt it was only fitting for us, a retail marketing agency, to create an entire promotion featuring the lowest prices of the year on our most popular services…for a limited time, of course.”

With the invasion of Black Friday into the Great White North, and it now being embraced by non-traditional service providers, it appears that in the coming years this particular time of the year could even surpass Boxing Week as Canada’s premiere sales period.

About BRANDSPANK

Brandspank is a user-experience marketing agency specializing in the retail sector. They combine shopper marketing with storytelling to help retailers to make their brands more engaging—both in-store and online.  Staying true to their retailer-focused niche, Brandspank has created a working boutique at the front of their offices—located in a shopping mall.  For more information about Brandspank, call 604-608-0880 or visit www.brandspank.net

 

 

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Perspective

So, I Don’t Have a Fireplace Anymore

Well, I guess technically I do, but it’s a propane thing we leave on the back patio for those evenings we want to keep our feet warm while we look at the stars.

My real wood burning fireplace was left when I gave my house of 23 years to my then wife and kids..

Let us just say that that house is where my friends Rob and Leslie shared life with us for years as we were all growing up to be “adults.”  Rob had his love that he worked so hard for, and I had mine.  We ended up marrying both of our “projects” and having lovely children and reasonably happy lives.  Probably far happier in retrospective, than they were while we were going through some of the trials, but isn’t that the way of life.  If anyone described childbirth accurately, nobody would ever have sex, but after its over, the memories are warm.

As far as Leslie is concerned, I’m surprised we stayed such good friends, as I called her Stephanie half the time.  Through the magic of FaceBook, we got to know each other again pretty well the past couple of years.

I am writing by the grace of Harrys Hof Brau, by the beautiful fireplace that they have provided. Today it is apparently exclusively for my self centered solace.  I am in shock.

I got the news today that one of my dearest and oldest friends, Leslie, has passed on.  She was not in the best of health, but the circumstances have left us all numb.  She was walking up a staircase, fell backwards and never recovered from her coma. She was in her 40’s with a loving husband and two wonderful kids. I was the “best man” at their wedding.  It is a pretty stark wakeup call, but if nothing else it helps put things in perspective.  It is skillful to consider these things when we are caught up in our own “shit.”

I sit in frustration for my current wife, as she desperately struggles to understand why my daughters, their aunts and uncles, etc. cannot get along long enough to have a holiday meal together. This is the kind of shit that would have occupied my thoughts for the majority of the day.

I also sit in humble appreciation, by the fireplace at Harry’s, that we have houses to invite people to, that we have reasonable health, and that we have good friends.  Especially when we lose one so suddenly and tragically, it makes all of the dribble regarding where we spend Thanksgiving seem incredibly inconsequential.

Be nice to people, hug everybody you see.  We have no idea when our number will be called, and if they went by merit I’d be long gone so count every day as another opportunity to make things right.  You might not ever get there, like I might not ever get there with ex in-laws or my girls, but one thing is for sure.  If you don’t try, you sure as hell won’t ever do it.

God be with you Les.  You will be missed by more than you can count. God be with those you left behind, because your absence will be felt more than you ever could have known.  I’ll miss your FB updates.  Love you ‘sis.

Her last post on FB http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElrHsX3ysIk&feature=share

 

 

 

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“There will be no charge for anything. We are happy to help.” Huh?

Every once and a while someone does something really kind to restore my… OK I can’t say the words. I have very little faith in “humanity” with the garbage going on in Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, you get the picture.

Every great now and again someone does something truly compassionate and professional and it deserves mention. Not just by way of thanks, but due to the aforementioned countries and the miserable self serving nature of so many of our species. We owe it to each other to be mindful of the compassion that does exist and give that some press as well.

This Thanksgiving we had the kids over for a fine pig-out; ate till we hurt and then had desert – the usual. Next morning we were in our little enviro-Prius headed up to the wine country. I always bring my very new and very expensive camera with me when we go to the wine country. It was raining though, so I decided to pop that in the hotel safe and just shoot with my iPhone to keep my “Ferrari” dry.

Days pass, wine flows, spa treatments and gastronomic delights are had, and finally the hotel bill is paid. On the way out of Sonoma we stop for a breakfast of Jazz and eggs only to find that Guy Fierri had beaten us to the punch. Triple D indeed is everywhere in the Sonoma area.

Blissfully deserted roads lead us past the resplendently sunlit SF Marina all the way to our little Woodside turnoff. The car is parked, I run (bags in hand) to the door with a comfort stop in mind. The wifes bag goes on the bed, my bag goes on the chest in the office next to – oh shite – the empty camera case. Remember the part where I said I put the camera in the hotel safe?

Comfort stop quickly forgotten I yell out the window for the number of the Lodge we stayed at, half in terror that I’m going to get a “what camera?” response. I fear that I’ve travelled too often and become somewhat jaded. There is some solace in the fact that the staff had seemed genuinely nice in general, particularly the girls in the spa; not the snooty “Bitchy Barbie’s” one can often encounter in such places.

Instead the response I get from the desk of the Renaissance Lodge in Sonoma http://www.thelodgeatsonoma.com/ was “we’ll send someone right up to check on that for you.” In the interim the call is immediately connected to the Concierge, Cindy Riggs, who listens to the situation and agrees to contact FedEx to arrange the return of my abandoned baby. Cindy then offers to call me back with details when available and takes my number.

Still slightly trembling, half expecting the “what camera?” I wait. Thanksgiving in Sonoma is the busiest weekend of the year. Thoughts are running rampant with visions of crowds still checking out demanding her time, housekeeping staff grinning sleazily as they slip my “baby” in with the soiled sheets for a quick trip to the laundry room where, yes, the parked pick-up truck is then loaded with a mysteriously wadded bed sheet… oh the agony of the human mind. Then, barely a half hour later…

the phone rings, it is Cindy. “Mr. Ulrich we have located your camera and given it to housekeeping…” AHAA just as I feared – the swine “and they will be making the arrangements to have it shipped to your home.” Oh. This feels better. “I’ll call you with the details.”

Within another half hour she calls with the details. I ask for her address to send her a little “thank you” and she declines.

I ask her what the shipping charges will be and am pleasantly shocked to find that there will be none. Same question regarding having the thing boxed up, insured, etc. “Mr. Ulrich, there will be no charge for anything, we are happy to help.” When is the last time you have heard that? There are no words that could make a 30 year road warrior (me) and a 25 year corporate travel manager (my wife) any happier.

The FedEx tracking number, address confirmation, and shipping details arrive minutes later via email. Along with them arrives an official statement from The Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma thanking us for our visit, and for allowing them to be of service.

In this era of hidden costs and baggage charges it’s nice to see that the art of actually caring for people and showing honest compassion to a weary traveler is not dead. It lives in Sonoma.

Thank you Cindy.

 

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