Archive for the Holidays Category

Making and Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Holidays, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Lifestyle with tags , , , , on December 27, 2013 by Pat Hansen

New Year (IMG_1436) (HubSpot)We are almost at the time of the year when people make promises to themselves in an effort to enrich their lives and self-improve during the New Year. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, quit smoking or save some cash, there are some universal tips that will help you keep your New Year’s resolution.

  • Make it something you really want. Don’t make it a resolution that you “should” want or what other people tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values.
  • Limit your list to a number you can handle. It’s probably best to make two or three resolutions that you intend to keep. That way, you are focusing your efforts on the goals you truly want.
  • Be specific. To be effective, resolutions and goals need to be very specific. Instead of saying or thinking, “I need to exercise more”, exchange it with, “I’m working out at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30 p.m.”
  • Resolutions ListMake a plan. Rather than stating one daunting goal, create a series of smaller steps to reach it. Have an action plan and figure out exactly what you want to do. For example, if you want to exercise regularly but love spending time with your friends, getting the group together to walk regularly could give you a short-term payoff and help you to meet the long term goal.
  • Automate. Automating financial goals can maximize your odds for success without you having to do anything. If your goal is to save $3,000 this year, calculate the amount out of each check, then arrange to have it automatically deposited into your savings account each time you get paid.
  • Be prepared to change some habits. One reason that resolutions fail is people don’t change the habits that sabotage them. One approach is to realize that all you ever have is the present moment, so ask what you can do now that will get you closer to your goal. It could mean trade-offs such as sacrificing an hour of couch time for your new goals. That’s how you get resolutions implemented.
  • Goals (7K0A0223) (HubSpot)Write down the goal and visualize it regularly. Writing and visualizing are effective tools for fulfilling a goal because they fix it firmly in the subconscious. If you write down your goals, put them in a prominent place where you will view them regularly, such as on the fridge or on own your desk.
  • To tell or not to tell? Having someone hold you accountable can be a powerful tool. Skip the naysayers, but if you have one or two people in your life who will act as cheerleaders or coaches, share the goal with them.
  • Forgive yourself. If you fall off the wagon, jump back on. Many people fall into the trap of believing that if they stumble, they should give up. The truth is you don’t have to wait for next year or for some magic moment. Instead, realize that slipping is part of the process; then get back to your goals.

Happy Holidays

Posted in Holidays with tags , on December 24, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Happy Holidays

Decorating with Boughs of Holly

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , on December 20, 2013 by Pat Hansen

For centuries, Europeans have decorated their homes and churches with greenery at Christmas. The tradition predates the Christian era. Pagan societies like the Romans, the Celts and the Norse observed Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, by decorating with cuttings of holly, ivy, bay, fir, rosemary, laurel, boxwood, mistletoe – any plant that remained green when woodlands and fields turned brown and bare. Holly, with its bright red berries and shiny green leaves, was perhaps the favorite ornamental.

Holly (kfjmiller | morgueFile)

(Photo credit: kfjmiller |

For the Romans, holly was sacred to Saturn, the god of agriculture, whose late December holiday, Saturnalia, provided the occasion for a week of raucous revelry. The Druids believed holly repelled evil spirits and protected people from witches and mad dogs – a superstition that persisted throughout the medieval period and caused many to keep holly in their homes or wear it on their clothing as a charm against witchcraft.

Early Christian leaders tried without success to stamp out these pagan rituals and decorating customs. The more pragmatic among the clergy decided to convert the holly tree to Christianity by attributing Christian symbolism to its prickly leaves, or the crown of thorns, while its crimson berries became the drops of blood on Christ’s brow. Its capacity to remain green all year long became a metaphor for eternal life after death.

Holly is decorative in another way—its wood is hard, close grained and when the tree is cut during winter, almost white. These features make it ideal for furniture makers to use for inlay. The wood is also good for making musical instruments and piano keys. American holly, plentiful along the Eastern Seaboard, can grow as tall as forty or fifty feet, but few have trunks thick enough to yield more than small pieces of wood. Of 300 species of holly, about fifteen are native to North America. The most common of these is known as American holly. Its berries are poisonous; only the females have berries.

Holly Plant  (hotblack |

(Photo credit: hotblack |

Ever since Christmas carols began in the fifteenth century, holly has figured prominently in their lyrics. The ever-popular “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” has been sung since the Renaissance. In old England, more than the halls were decked with holly boughs. In some towns, so were the streets. A half-century before Columbus brought news of a new world across the sea, Englishmen were erecting upright timbers in the streets and adorning them with boughs of greens. For most Englishmen and most who immigrated to the colonies, Christmas decorations meant indoor greenery.

Though no written sources describing colonial Virginia Christmas decorations have been discovered, historians have concluded that the usual English traditions continued in the colonies. Virginians considered themselves English in every sense of the word—clinging to Old World traditions while trying just as hard to keep up with the latest London fashions.

English prints of the eighteenth century picture holly arranged in pretty vases, stuffed into crude pots or stuck between the wooden muntins and the windowpanes. Decorating impulses did not stop with houses and churches; taverns and eating places had their share of greenery as well.

By the 1800s, holly was known as the “Prince of Evergreens”. It was everywhere—its prickly sprigs were wedged behind picture frames and clocks, twisted around the chains of chandeliers, arranged in vases, fastened to the tops of draperies and even stuck into holiday dishes as a garnish. Some of Virginia’s earliest Christmas trees were holly.

Not until the early twentieth century did magazines and decorating guides begin to encourage women to adorn the outside of the house as well as the inside with wreaths of holly or other evergreen. The days before Christmas were spent cutting cedar pine boughs and holly for decoration. All the windows had holly wreaths and Christmas gifts were wrapped in holly patterned papers tied with red ribbons.

WreathHolly wreaths were among the earliest Christmas decorations used at Colonial Williamsburg. When the restoration project funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. opened to the public in 1934, there were no decorations at all on the exhibition buildings at Christmas. No one had anticipated guests during the holidays. When guests did come, and they came in great numbers, the subject of appropriate Christmas decorations was raised. The next Christmas, plain wreaths made of holly and other native evergreens were hung on the doors of some buildings, followed the year after by the fruit-bedecked versions that have epitomized the Williamsburg Christmas ever since.

Fire Safety for the Holidays

Posted in Around Your Home, Electrical, Holidays, Home Safety, Lifestyle with tags , , , on December 4, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Live TreeMore than 33 million American homes have a natural tree for the holidays (per the U.S. EPA). Nothing compares to the fragrant scent a natural tree provides. The scent and atmosphere provided by a natural Christmas tree brings back cherished memories of Christmases past.

Choosing a Christmas Tree

If you are cutting down your own tree at a Christmas tree farm, you know how fresh the tree is. If you choose a tree at a local Christmas tree lot or a nursery lot, you need to choose a fresh tree by looking for the greenest tree with the fewest brown needles; however, many shipped-to-lot trees have been colored prior to shipping. This is a common practice and will not negatively affect a tree’s freshness.

  • Perform the “drop test”. Raise the Christmas tree a few inches and drop it on the stump end. Fresh, green needles should not drop off. Take hold of a branch and lightly pull your hand toward you allowing the branch to slip through your fingers. Most, if not all of the needles, need to stay in place. The trunk should be sticky to the touch.
  • Tree BaseInspect the tree’s base. Make sure the “handle” (the first eight inches of the stump) is relatively straight. This part of the tree is extremely important when securing the tree in a stand.

Keeping your Christmas Tree Fresh: Water, Water, Water

  • Refresh the tree by making a straight cut, taking one inch off the bottom of the stump and immediately place in water. This will improve water uptake.
  • Place the tree in a stand that can hold at least 1 gallon of water. Expect the tree to take up additional water. Water the tree until water uptake stops.
  • Always keep the base of the tree in water. If the base dries out, resin will form over the cut end and the tree will dry out quickly. You don’t need to add anything to regular tap water. Research has shown that plain old water will keep a tree fresh; no additives are necessary.

Christmas Tree Fire Hazards:

  • Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Do not have lit candles near the tree. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
  • Inspect Christmas tree lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in insulation, broken or cracked sockets and excessive kinking or wear before putting them on the tree. Only use lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
  • Power, Surge ProtectorDo not link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect lights to a power strip equipped with a circuit breaker and surge protection. If you are building a new home or remodeling, determine the most likely spot for your Christmas tree and install a switched outlet. No more crawling behind the tree to turn on Christmas tree lights!
  • Do not leave holiday lights on unattended or overnight.
  • All tree decorations should be non-flammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.

Christmas trees accounted for 230 fires between 2006-2010, resulting in 4 deaths, 21 injuries and more than $17.3 million in property damage (per the National Fire Protection Association). The most common causes of tree fires are shorts in electrical lights or open flames from candles. Well-watered trees are not a problem; the drier the tree is, the more likely it is to catch on fire.

Follow these precautions and have a safe and happy holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted in Holidays with tags on November 27, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Everyone at Robert R. Jones Homes wishes you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving

Now Is The Time To Order That Fresh Turkey

Posted in Dining with Pat, Holidays, Local News, Worth Repeating with tags , , on November 13, 2013 by Pat Hansen

If you are thinking about a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, now is the time to order. Roperti’s Turkey Farm is one of a few turkey farms still operating. It has been family owned and operated for over 40 years. Currently, the 2nd and 3rd generations are operating their farm in Livonia, Michigan. Unlike Amish farmers who sell their turkeys to stores, Ropertis only sells the turkeys at their farm.

Turkey (Scott Bauer |

Large white turkey
(Photo credit: Scott Bauer |

The five acre farm operates much as it did 40 years ago with the exception of growing its own corn, wheat and oats. Today, the family purchases the grain it feeds its large Wilford White turkeys. Wilford turkeys are a large breed of turkeys that are very breasty and meaty. They get the turkeys from their grower in Zeeland when they are 8 to 9 weeks old and weigh about 2 pounds. The turkeys are picked up around the last week in August and are available for sale from October 1st through December 23rd.

The secret to good tasting turkeys is the right diet. In fact, the company motto distributed in neighborhoods in Oakland and Wayne counties, tells customers the importance of what a turkey is fed. “Remember, fresh is not the secret. The secret is what they’ve been fed.” Their turkeys are fed corn, wheat and oats, mixed with a high-protein mash, from the time they arrive until the last two weeks before they are killed, when they are fed nothing but corn.

But there is something else . . . they are uncaged and free to roam the 5 acres, enjoying the sunflowers that are grown for natural shade. They aren’t under stress from crowding or caging. Today, we call it “free range” and “organic” but that was how all responsible farmers cared for their livestock 50 years ago.

More about Roperti turkeys:

  • They cook faster than regular processed turkeys because there are no preservatives or chemicals in their system.
  • They are fresh dressed, just 24 hours before you pick them up.
  • Guaranteed to be juicy and tasty – first time customers always tell the Ropertis that they never knew turkey could be so good.

The busiest time of the year for the Ropertis is the four-day period immediately before Thanksgiving, when about 4,000 of the turkeys are killed and dressed by the family and a seasonal staff of 35 employees who set up a production line.

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving Feast

Besides getting turkey ready for the roaster or deep fryer, the family also sells turkey, smoked for 12 hours, right on the premises, using apple and cherry wood with a little wet hickory thrown on top.

Ironically, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner the Roperti family takes a pass on turkey. As Christine Roperti, the owner says, “My family has seen too many turkeys at that point and would hang me up like a dead turkey if I put a turkey on the table.” “For Thanksgiving, we have filet mignon, lobster and stone crabs and key lime pie my niece sends up here every year from Florida. She sends us the stone crabs and key lime pie in exchange for a turkey, of course.”

Location:  34700 Five Mile Road, Livonia, MI; 734-464-6546
Between Farmington & Levan, on the north side of Five Mile Road

Hours: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., daily and weekends

Price: $3.39/per lb for Tom or Hen

How To Make Your Carved Pumpkin Last Longer

Posted in Holidays, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Worth Repeating with tags , , , on October 23, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Did you carve your pumpkin, creatively, last year only to have it rot days before Halloween? What causes the pumpkin to decay? There are several primary causes of “pumpkin rot”:

  • Dennis Haunted House v23 (Gene Granata |

    Photo credit: Gene Granata |

    The intact skin of a pumpkin protects it until you carve it. Then, various organisms (fungi, bacteria, molds, protozoans and insects) can get inside and break it down.

  • Oxygen in the air can also easily enter and break down the pumpkin.
  • Simple dehydration (drying out) will begin the moment the pumpkin is carved.

All of this will turn a happy pumpkin face into a sad old man in a short period of time.

How to stop pumpkin aging:

  • Sterilize the pumpkin’s carved surfaces to kill fungi, mold, bacteria and bugs.
  • Seal the surfaces to prevent drying and to keep out new little organisms.

Essentially, it is like embalming your pumpkin. Follow these simple steps:

  • Remove dirt; wipe the exterior surfaces of the pumpkin clean using a damp cloth.
  • Make a bleach solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach per quart of water and put it in a spray bottle.
  • SPumpkinspray the pumpkin inside and on all areas of the pumpkin with the solution. This will kill much of the surface bacteria and mold that causes rotting. This is best done outside and away from children and pets.
  • Let it penetrate and dry for about 20 minutes.
  • Next, rub all of the carved or cut surfaces with petroleum jelly. This will keep out new bacteria and molds as well as dramatically reduce the dehydration.
  • Wipe away excess with a paper towel.
  • Keep your pumpkin out of direct sunlight and try to keep it as cool as possible, but above freezing.

A little, simple Halloween magic with household items will make your Jack O’Lantern last longer.

The American Flag: Proper Care and Treatment

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays, I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags on June 12, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Memorial Day, for many homeowners, is the first celebratory day on which we hang our flags. However, many of us are unfamiliar with the proper display, care and disposal of the American flag.

American Flag (Gerd Altmann |

Photo credit: Gerd Altmann |

CARE AND RESPECT: The American flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect. The flag represents a living country and, as such, is considered a living thing.

  • Always display the flag with the blue union field up; never display the flag upside down, except as a distress signal.
  • Always hold the flag carefully; never let it touch anything beneath it – the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
  • Always carry the flag aloft and free; never carry it horizontally.
  • Always keep the flag clean and safe; never let it become torn, soiled or damaged.
  • Always dispose of a flag properly; preferably by burning it.
  • Always treat the flag with respect. Never use it for advertising purposes. Never embroider it on household items or pieces of clothing. Never use it as part of a costume or athletic uniform. Exception: It is proper to attach a flag patch to the uniform of military personnel, fire fighters, police officers and members of other patriotic organizations, provided the patch is properly affixed. (Note: “properly affixed” is best understood by referring to the flag code.)


  1. Two people face each other, each holding one end of the flag. Stretch it horizontally at waist height and fold in half lengthwise.
  2. Fold the flag in half lengthwise again; the union (blue field) should be on the outside with edges held together.
  3. One person holds the flag by the union while the other starts at the opposite end by making a triangular fold.
  4. Continue to fold in triangles until the flag resembles a cocked hat with only the blue field showing.
Fold American Flag (Richardw |

Photo credit: Richardw |


  • The American flag, adopted on June 14, 1777, is the fourth oldest national flag in the world. Denmark’s flag, adopted in 1219 is the oldest.
  • A flag expert is called a “vexillologist”.
  • The blue field on the American flag is called the “union”.
  • On Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), to honor all who died in battle, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff for the remainder of the day.
  • Since 1834, the American flag has flown continuously next to the grave of the Revolutionary War hero, The Marquis de Lafayette, near Paris, France.
  • June 14th was proclaimed Flag Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. While Flag Day was a popular celebration in scores of communities for many years after Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation, it didn’t receive its official Congressional designation until 1949.

DISPLAYING THE FLAG PROPERLY: Because the American flag is the symbol of our country, it should always be displayed in the most prominent, most honored position. No other flag should ever appear more important.

  • American FlagOn a wall: When the flag is displayed on a wall, it should be displayed with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • In Multi-National Flag Displays: In the United States, the American flag is to be displayed first –“ to its own right” – followed by the flags of all the other countries (at equal height and in alphabetical order) to the left (observer’s right) of the American flag.
  • Among Subordinate Flags: When the American flag is among a group of subordinate flags, such as state and organization flags, the American flag should be at the center and at the highest point, the position of prominence.
  • Displayed from a staff: When displayed from a staff, the flag should hold the position of prominence, in advance of the audience and to the speaker’s right (facing the audience). If other flags are also displayed, they should be placed to the speaker’s left.
  • On a pole: When several flags are flown from the same flag pole, the American flag should always be at the top, except during church services by naval chaplains at sea when the church pennant may be flown above the American flag on the ship’s mast.
  • Among peers: When flags from two or more nations are displayed, the flag code forbids the display of any nation’s flag in a position superior to another in time of peace. Therefore, each flag should be approximately equal in size and flown at the same height.
  • On the lapel: When the flag is displayed as a lapel pin, it should be worn on the left lapel, near the heart.

Explore the Paint Creek Trail

Posted in Dining with Pat, Holidays, Local News with tags , , on May 22, 2013 by Pat Hansen

Paint Creek Trail (Cjunker1 at English Wikipedia |

Photo Credit: Cjunker1 at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you are looking for an outing this up-coming Memorial Day weekend, consider walking or biking on the Paint Creek Trail. The Paint Creek Trail connects the communities of Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township, Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion in Oakland County, Michigan. It is an 8.9 mile linear park and was the first Rail-to-Trail in the State of Michigan. It was converted to a trail from the former Penn Central Railroad.

The non-motorized trail is 8 feet wide and has an all-weather surface of crushed limestone which was chosen because it is an environmentally friendly surface for the trail’s close proximity to Paint Creek. If you like to hike, jog, bike, ride a horse, cross-country ski, fish or just watch nature, the Paint Creek Trail is for you.

The Paint Creek Cider Mill, a favorite stop along the Paint Creek Trail, is now open year-round, 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

Paint Creek Cider Mill (AcrylicArtist |

Photo Credit: AcrylicArtist |

Bike Fixit Station: The Friends of the Pint Creek Trail donated their first gift to the trail – a bike fixit station located at the Paint Creek Cider Mill. Cyclists can inflate their tires and make adjustments or repairs utilizing the tools attached to the station. In addition, with an iPhone or Smartphone bar code scanner app, cyclists can scan a QR code and read repair instructions onsite.

Trail Hours: 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. daily

Parking: The Paint Creek trail offers 8 parking locations:

Rochester: Visitors may park at the Rochester Municipal Park, located off Pine Street north of University, and west of Main Street (Rochester Road).

Rochester Hills: A 12-space lot is located on the north side of Tienken Road just west of the Paint Creek Trail between Livernois and Rochester Road. A portable restroom is also located at this site from May-October.

Oakland Township: Four parking lots are available:

Dutton Road: The first is located on the north side of Dutton, west of the Trail, between Livernois and Orion Rd. This lot is the smallest of the parking lots as it only fits 5 vehicles.

Silver Bell Road: This lot is located on the south side of Silver Bell, west of Orion Road, approximately one mile north of Dutton on the Trail.

Gallagher Road: This lot is located on the north side of Gallagher, just west of Orion Road, approximately 0.6 miles north of Silver Bell on the Trail.

Paint Creek Trail Office: This lot is very close to the Gallagher parking lot. It is located at 4480 Orion Road in Rochester and is at the corner of Orion and Gallagher; this is a public parking lot that can hold up to 80 vehicles.

Orion Township: Parking is available at the intersection of the Paint Creek Trail and Clarkston & Kern Roads. There are two parking areas at this intersection. The parking area south of Clarkston and west of Kern is suitable for horse trailer staging. A restroom is also located at this site.

Village of Lake Orion: The Trailways Commission owns a 12-space paved parking lot located behind the Atwater Commons Plaza. The Plaza is located at the corner of M-24 and Atwater. The parking area is located behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken, near Converse Court and is marked with signage.

The Art of Pisanki Easter Eggs

Posted in Around Your Home, Holidays, Lifestyle with tags , on March 27, 2013 by Pat Hansen

The centuries-old art of pisanki is a wax-resist method of dying Easter eggs, much like batik. The word comes from the verb “to write” – as the designs are not painted on but written with 100% pure beeswax. Every Eastern European country has its own version.

Pisanki Easter Eggs (kakisky |

Photo credit: kakisky |

Eggs are a symbol of spring and rebirth around the world and they have become a symbol of Easter and the Resurrection. In Eastern Europe, decorating eggs during the long, cold winters in anticipation of warmer days and the end of Lent became an art form. The symbols, colors and styles all differ by country and even by region within a country. What remains universal is the drawing or writing on a hard-cooked egg, raw or blown egg with melted beeswax using a stylus known as pysak.

Pisanki Easter Egg (lukeok |

Photo credit: lukeok |

How Pisanki Are Made: Beeswax is heated in a small bowl or jar lid on a stovetop or hot plate, and then scooped up by the stylus as needed. The molten wax is applied to the white egg by rotating the egg, not the hand. The egg is then dyed one color. More wax designs are applied and the egg is dyed another color, and so on. The dye sequence is always light to dark. After the final color, the wax is removed by heating it gently over a candle flame and rubbing off the wax with a cloth or paper towel. The intricate designs and the beautiful colors are now revealed.

The Gift of Pisanki: Pisanki are typically made to be given to family and close friends as a symbolic wish for the gift of life. They are hollow so they can be displayed all year and saved from year to year, ensuring good health and prosperity. The krasanki, or solid color eggs, are made to be eaten. The eggs that have been blessed on Holy Saturday are considered sacred and their shells are never thrown out. Instead, they are buried in the garden or crop fields in hopes of a good harvest. The water used to cook the eggs is also saved to water fruit trees to ensure sweet fruit. At the traditional Polish Easter breakfast after Mass, a blessed egg is shared by the family while exchanging good wishes.

The Polish Art Center located at 9539 Jos. Campau in Hamtramck, carries a full line of pisanki supplies along with many Polish treasures. They also offer classes in pisanki egg decorating for ages 6 years and older. Their website is:

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