Day: November 3, 2015


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I’ve always enjoyed decorating for the different holidays and seasons in addition to entertaining and having friends over. So I am pleased to be able to share some ideas to liven up any autumn decorating and entertaining you may wish to do   I find it enjoyable to come up with something different every time, and the rewards are well worth it.

Fall is officially upon us, and it’s not just the leaves that are turning. Our thoughts are also turning, from barbecues and pool parties to fall soirées and Thanksgiving Day feasts. Looking for some ways to spice up your fall fetes?

Whether you are new at entertaining or are an experienced host or hostess, parties and gatherings always go better when you prepare for them. Whether it’s combing recipe books and websites in an attempt to try out new dishes or carefully considering how much space you have for entertaining, thoughtful planning is the key to a successful event:

During the summer heat, we find ourselves barbequing and preparing simple dishes so we can keep the stove off and the kitchen cool. But colder weather brings with it the chance to use our stoves to cook up some amazing meals for our guests. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, cooking-wise, during the fall season.   Dishes that feature pumpkin or sweet potato are a perfect way to usher in the cooler months.

With so many holidays in fall and winter, people can easily become overbooked. Select your guest list carefully to ensure an interesting and diverse mix of guests. Have a look through your social media feeds to see who had interesting experiences over the summer that you think others might enjoy hearing about.

If you plan to fall entertain, particularly during late fall, get your invitations out as soon as possible. Doing so will usually result in a better turn out.

When entertaining this fall, remember the dining room table isn’t the only place to display beautiful decorations. The buffet table or sideboards are the perfect places to go for pizazz and gusto! For an eye-catching display use hurricane vases, tall decorative vases or even baskets to display long loaves of bread, tall branches or branches from your changing foliage trees in your yard. Remember it doesn’t have to be formal. Fall is all about bringing nature indoors and celebrating the changing seasons with your friends and family.

It is also interesting to note that the beauty of fall decorating is that it can stay up all season. No worries that you aren’t entertaining, for those of you with a formal dining room. Decorate the table as if you are expecting to have a dinner party! The beautiful colors, organic centerpiece ideas, and inspiring elements will create an autumn theme you will love throughout the entire season.

There’s nothing more festive than an autumn moon, so hold your party on or around an evening when the moon is full and bright. Full moon dates this fall are October 8 and November 6. If it’s not too cool, serve cocktails or dinner outside. Drape throws in seasonal colors over the backs of the chairs for those who get chilly.

Fall weather can be tricky, so keep your eye on it as the date of your event approaches. If you live in an area where the weather in late fall can range from warm to downright wintery, don’t plan on being able to use your yard or unenclosed patio (or your grill) for entertaining your guests.

Welcome your guests with a drink that puts them in the mood for the cool, crisp days of autumn. Try a Spiced Pear Collins, which is made with gin, pear puree and rosemary.

Heat up a pot of mulled wine or spiced cider on your stove and offer a mug to your guests as they arrive. The drink is a welcome warmer after a cold trip and the scent of spices permeates your home, setting a wonderful mood.

Tip: If you plan to have an alcoholic hot beverage, make another pot of a non-alcoholic brew. Kids and guests who don’t drink will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Serve warm, earthy nibbles with squash, pears, fennel, figs, apples and other fall flavors. Butternut squash soup served in shot glasses and garnished with sage is a classic autumnal touch that looks beautiful passed on trays. Garnish your dishes and serving trays with edible fall leaves.   Serve your nibbles on leaf-shaped serving platters and choose linens in autumnal shades like gold, rust and pumpkin.

Richer meats and heartier vegetables lend themselves to slow cooking methods and advance preparation. If you’re planning a multicourse meal, start prepping foods a day or two in advance so that you aren’t franticly chopping and dicing the day of your event.

When you think of dessert at a fall gathering you probably are only thinking about what to serve, but don’t forget about creating a fall themed table that draws in your guests. Dark browns, chocolate inspired colors married with beige, and natural colors are a great backdrop for your yummy desserts. Decorate with a burlap fabric tablecloth and layer with napkins and dessert plates that compliment your delicious treats!

Create a playlist that reflects the sounds of the season. It’s a subtle but instrumental (pun intended) touch. Songs to consider are “Autumn Leaves” by Nat King Cole, “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire and “Forever Autumn” by the Moody Blues.

Reflect the bounty of fall with floral arrangements that include seasonal vegetables and herbs like chard, beets, purple artichokes, fennel blossoms, rosemary and purple basil.

Use lots of candles to make everyone look and feel gorgeous. Place votives in groups on tables to draw people together as though they’re gathering around a hearth.

As each guest leaves the party, thank them for coming and send them home with a warm hug and a thermos filled with cider or a classic caramel apple. Nostalgic touches always make people smile.

Remember to relax and have fun. If you don’t have a good time at your autumn fête, your guests won’t either.

Kathy Kiefer


Election Day in United States

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Election Day in United States

Election Day in the United States of America is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. It can fall on or between November 2 and November 8. It is the day when popular ballots are held to select public officials. These include national, state and local government representatives at all levels up to the president.

On Election Day, citizens of the United States of America can vote by popular ballot for candidates for public offices at local, state and national levels. In even numbered years, federal elections are always held. In years divisible by four, presidential elections are always held. Elections for local and state officials may be held in odd or even-numbered years, depending on local and state laws.

The way in which people vote, depends on the state in which they live. In Oregon, all votes are cast by post and all votes have to be received at a given time on Election Day. In the state of Washington, nearly all people vote by post and the envelopes containing the voting papers have to be postmarked with the date of Election Day. In other states, people vote at voting stations, where long queues can form.

In 1792, a law was passed allowing each of the states to conduct presidential elections at any point in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December. This was the date when the meetings of the Electors of the U.S. president and vice-president, known as the Electoral Colleges, were held in each state. A date in November or early December was preferable because the harvest would have been finished, but the most severe winter storms would not have begun.

As long distance communication improved and became quicker with the advent of trains and telegraphs, allowing each state to conduct its elections at any point in a period of more than a month, became outdated. The results of the elections that were announced earliest could influence the outcomes of elections held later in the permitted period.

In 1845 the United States Congress chose a single date for all national elections in all states. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was chosen so that there would never be more than 34 days between Election Day and the first Wednesday in December. Election Day is held on a Tuesday so that voters will not have to vote or travel on Sunday. This was an important consideration at the time when the laws were written and is still so in some Christian communities in the United States.

For federal offices (President, Vice President and United States Congress), Election Day occurs only in even-numbered years. Presidential elections are held every four years, in years divisible by four, in which electors for President and Vice President are chosen according to the method determined by each state. Elections to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate are held every two years; all Representatives serve two-year terms and are up for election every two years, while Senators serve six-year terms, staggered so that one-third of Senators are elected in any given general election. Many state and local government offices are also elected on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost saving, although a handful of states hold elections for state offices (such as governor) during odd-numbered “off years”, or during other even-numbered “midterm years”.

Election Day is a civic holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, and the territory of Puerto Rico. Some other states require that workers be permitted to take time off from employment without loss of pay. California Elections Code Section 14000 provides that employees otherwise unable to vote must be allowed two hours off with pay, at the beginning or end of a shift. A coincidental federal holiday, Democracy Day, has been unsuccessfully proposed.

In modern times, the United States is no longer primarily an agrarian society, and Tuesday is now normally a work day throughout the country with most voters working on that day. This has led activists to object to Election Day being on a Tuesday on the grounds that it currently decreases voter turnout. They advocate either making Election Day a federal holiday, as in the Democracy Day proposal, or allowing voters to cast their ballots over two or more days. The United Auto Workers union has negotiated making Election Day a holiday for workers of U.S. domestic auto manufacturers. Some employers allow their employees to come in late or leave early on Election Day to allow them an opportunity to get to their precinct and vote. Activists encourage voters to make use of early voting and postal voting facilities when available and convenient.

Most states allow for early voting, allowing voters to cast ballots before the Election Day. Early voting periods vary from 4 to 50 days prior to Election Day. Unconditional early voting in person is allowed in 32 states and in D.C.[8] Also, most states have some kind of absentee ballot system. Unconditional absentee voting by mail is allowed in 27 states and Washington, D.C., and with an excuse in another 21 states.[8] Unconditional permanent absentee voting is allowed in 7 states and in Washington, D.C In Oregon and Washington State all major elections are by postal voting, with ballot papers sent to voters several weeks before Election Day.

Elected offices of municipalities, counties (in most states), and other local entities (such as school boards and other special-purpose districts) have their elections subject to rules of their state, and in some states, they vary according to choices of the jurisdiction in question. For instance, in Connecticut, all towns, cities, and boroughs hold elections in every odd-numbered year, but as of 2004, 16 have them on the first Monday in May, while the other 153 are on Election Day. In Massachusetts, the 50 cities are required to hold their elections on Election Day, but the 301 towns may choose any date, and most have traditionally held their elections in early spring, after the last snowfall. In the area where I live and vote in Virginia, (Alexandria City) this year there are several candidates running for the House of Delegates (Mark Levine, Charnile Herring, Sean Lenehan and Andy Baker) as well of the State Senate George Barker and Joseph Murphy) to represent Alexandria, and a plethora of candidates for the Alexandria City Public School Board to choose from.  Alexandria City will also be electing (or re-electing Bill Euile) a Mayor and several members of the City Council.  Each candidates platform is so to that person, that one has to go with whom they can totally trust to represent their best interest(s). It can be difficult if you like more than one person, and what they stand for. But ultimately you can choose only one. In different jurisdictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia there are local and state wide referendums on the ballot (issues such as gun control, funding matters on transportation, and so on). Some of these referendums are local matters and others are on the state or federal level. Also, in the Alexandria City Public Schools, the students all learn about voting and the democratic process, by getting to vote for their favorite lunch menu item(s).   And the overall winner becomes a the next day’s lunch menu.

Kathy Kiefer