We have July 4th; Australians have January 26th. Happy Australia Day!
January 25, 2009
We have July 4th; Australians have January 26th. Happy Australia Day!
January 25, 2009
In the Chinese calendar, today (Jan. 26) begins the Year of the Ox, also known by its formal name, Ji Chou. 己丑
The Chinese calendar has been in continuous use since about 2600 BC, predating the Western Calendar in present use by more than 2,000 years. The Chinese calendar, begun by Emperor Huang Ti, is also a yearly one, with the start of the year based on the cycles of the moon. As a result, the beginning of the year can fluctuate from late January to mid-February. A complete cycle takes 60 years, made up of five cycles of 12 years.
The Chinese calendar names each of the 12 years after an animal. According to legend, Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him just before he transitioned out of his earthly life. Only 12 actually showed up to bid him farewell, and as a reward, he named a year after each of them, in the order they arrived to send him off. According to Chinese tradition, the animal that rules the year in which a person is born has a profound influence on their personality.
The Ox is the sign of prosperity that comes through fortitude and hard work. Being born under this sign indicates a born leader who is quite dependable and possesses an innate ability to achieve great things. These people tend to be dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, those born under the Ox are unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring almost any amount of hardship without complaint.
Ox people need peace and quiet to work through their ideas, but they can be stubborn, so when they’ve set their minds on something, it can be very difficult to convince them otherwise. An Ox person has a very logical mind and a systematic approach to whatever they do, though they have tremendous imagination and an unique appreciation for beauty. These people tend to be extremely intelligent, but they speak little. When necessary, however, their words are eloquent.
People born under the influence of the Ox are kind, caring souls, logical, positive, filled with common sense and with their feet firmly planted on the ground. Security is their main preoccupation in life, and they are prepared to toil long and hard in order to provide a warm, comfortable, stable home for themselves and their families. Strong-minded, stubborn, individualistic, the majority are highly intelligent individuals who know their minds and don’t appreciate being told what to do.
The Ox works hard, patiently, methodically, reflectively, and intelligently. Tenacious and self-sacrificing, these people enjoy helping others, but also have very active minds.
Rarely driven by the prospect of financial gain, the Ox is not extravagant and the thought of something like piling up credit card debt makes them quite nervous. The possibility of taking a serious risk could cause the Ox sleepless nights.
Those born under the Ox tend to be truthful and sincere, so they find the idea of wheeling and dealing in a competitive world distasteful. They are welcome almost everywhere because of their honesty and patience, and are reported to have the most beautiful of faces in the zodiac. They have many friends, but are wary of new trends, even though they can, every now and again, be encouraged to try something new. People born in the year of the Ox make wonderful parents and teachers.
It is important to remember that the Ox people are sociable and relaxed when they feel secure, but occasionally a dark cloud looms over such people and they engage all the trials of the whole world and seek solutions for them.
Barack Obama was born August 4, 1961, making him both a Leo and an Ox.
Because people born under the Ox tend to love stability and tradition, they are most comfortable, at peace, and happiest at home. They tend to prefer the color violet. Appealing gems and stones are jade, emerald, moss-agate, and lapis-lazuli.
Great gift ideas include kitchen accessories, gardening books, cookbooks, and bonsai trees.
Hobbies they tend to enjoy include bodybuilding, baking, gardening, music, and sewing.
Anything that enhances their home environment will likely be appreciated by people born under the Ox. If they venture away from home for a vacation, though, it’s generally to do some hiking or rock climbing.
January 24, 2009
I’ve mentioned before that as a marketer, I have no general opposition to sales and entrepreneurship. Making things and selling things – it’s a large part of what makes the world go around. Michelle Obama’s anger irritation with the Ty toy company, though, is understandable – even warranted – in my opinion. I went back and reread the story, and Michelle’s own word for Ty’s actions was “inappropriate.”
Those who claim that Michelle and Barack used their daughters as part of their political campaign are misguided. How soon they forget Barack’s anger when the cameras followed him and Sasha through their Chicago neighborhood on Halloween. The girls are smart and beautiful – and a cherished part of what makes the Obama family so special. The two times we’ve seen them boldly and publicly were Election Night and at the Inauguration, as we should have.
If you want to talk about displaying kids for political gain, you need look back no further than Sarah Palin dragging her infant son around till all hours, only to have her youngest daughter care for him. And the pregnant daughter and fiance-by-force. And the son in the military. Give me a break, you folks who can’t/don’t/won’t see reality for what it is.
One question in the midst of the commentary was how the Obama girls are being harmed by these dolls. The mere fact that their father is now the most scrutinized man on the planet will affect these girls’ lives in ways unimagined, and in ways far more sustained than having toy likenesses made of them. But that doesn’t make Ty’s position right. It’s hard to argue that this is anything other than profiteering by Ty.
Not sure whether it warrants a full-fledged boycott, but I know I won’t knowingly be buying or recommending Ty toys as stocking stuffers anytime soon.
Just my two cents, for what their worth.
UPDATE, 25 Jan. 3:06 p.m.
Not being the denizen of the Internet (or the blogging world) that I am, my sister hadn’t heard or seen any of the bruhaha surrounding the Obama girls dolls. Her opinion, succinct and common-sense as ever: Michelle and the Obama family have much bigger/more important things to worry about. These dolls are the least of their concerns, and she would have been much better off just letting this go without any public comment. My sister may have a point…
January 24, 2009
The dictionary defines “sense” as any of the faculties (sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell) by which the mind receives and perceives information about the external world or the state of the body. Each of us tends to favor one sense over the others when it comes to calming effects, stimulating creativity, and simply enhancing the enjoyment of life.
Here are some ideas for creating a stocking that appeals to all five senses.
One is this great book called Crave the Feast of the Five Senses by Ludo Lefebvre.
iPod touch – Millions of songs. Thousands of movies. Hundreds of games.
Digital camera with YouTube capture mode allows you to shoot video for easy online sharing
Kaleidoscope – All these kaleidoscopes are hand-crafted in the U.S.
Nature sounds – Create your own CDs or MP3 playlists with royalty-free music and sound-effects from this site
Rain-forest friendly coffee beans – appeal to both taste and smell
The traditional scarf/mittens combo
Even more traditional slippers
January 23, 2009
Ask anyone who sews how much fabric they have, and you’ll hear variations on the same answer:
“Piles and piles!”
“Too much to sort through!”
“Enough to open my own store!”
Now, ask them how the store their fabric, and you’ll get almost as many different answers as people you ask.
I may have mentioned that my very first paying job when I was 16 was at House of Fabrics at Park Central Mall in Phoenix. It’s long-closed, but the fabric from my time there lives on – that red courderoy fleur-de-lis stocking is made from baby cord I once upon a time intended to use for a jumper! Today, the majority of my fabric is intended for Christmas stockings … but there’s still a lot of it, much of which has followed me from Phoenix to Tucson to New Jersey and back to Phoenix.
How you store your fabric has a lot to do with two things:
You will increase the life of your fabric by taking the time to properly store it, ensuring that it’s in an optimal environment.
Specific Suggestions for Fabric Storage
Web Resources for Fabric Storage Solutions
January 22, 2009
Once upon a time, a lovely maiden had an extra basket lying around the house, just collecting dust from sitting on her dirt floor. She also happened to have a stockpile of extra spices, fruit, dried venison, and other sundries. “What can I do with all these excess foodstuffs?” she wondered to herself. “And what about this basket that keeps tripping me up every day as I head out to milk the goats?”
One day, a handsome, strapping stranger came to town and proceeded to build a home just o’er the hill and across the stream. “I must welcome the virile newcomer to town before witchy Esmerelda gets her claws on him,” the maiden thought aloud. “I wonder what I can take over to him as a welcome gift, as my baking is atrocious – not even the goats will eat my biscuits,” she muttered as she again tripped over that blasted basket. Ahhh…the basket!
And that is how gift baskets were born.
No – not really. Well, maybe!? In my thorough 5-minute search, I unearthed absolutely no information on the history of gift baskets … so voila … I fabricated a plausible explanation of my very own.
Gift baskets have come a long way since our merry maiden’s time. Gift basket services litter the Web now, and you can spend into the hundreds of dollars on a single basket.
One innovative holiday spin on the gift basket idea is creating themes for your Christmas stockings! Rather than fill your loved ones’ stockings with random goodies, you can single in on a particular passion, and fill the stocking with items that all relate to that pursuit.
Here’s my tiny stab at the no-doubt endless ideas for stocking themes:
In case you’re still not convinced a themed stocking is a good idea, here are a few reasons to consider it:
January 21, 2009
Typical traits …
Friendly and humanitarian
Honest and loyal
Original and inventive
Independent and intellectual
On the dark side …
Intractable and contrary
Perverse and unpredictable
Unemotional and detached
Aquarius is a fixed air sign. Gifts that correspond with “fixed air” will do the job if you want to seduce, attract, or show your Aquarius how much you value him/her.
The generally individualistic Aquarius is associated with all things future-oriented, including science, technology, and radical political change. (Hmmmm … I wonder if they’re throwing a collective party right now?) They often pursue an eclectic mix of quirky hobbies and interests, both physical and intellectual.
Aquarius is generally associated with vibrant colors, like purple and electric blue,as well as shades of neon green and blue; it is also linked with geometric patterns and designs.
Although Uranus, Aquarius’ ruling planet, is associated with bright, splashy colors and patterns, Aquarians often prefer monochromatic clothing, usually basic shades of green, blue, or purple, though some eccentric Aquarians dress a bit oddly and may adopt very nontraditional style. Aquarians prefer themes that include space (e.g., planets, galaxies, stars) or suggest science, technology, and the future.
Gemstones associated with Aquarius include aquamarine, garnet (January), and amethyst (February).
Typical Aquarius trees include pine, rowan, and ash. Plants and flowers include hemp, sorrel, moss, and pansies. Aquarius-associated foods include spinach, sorrel, and parsnip.
Because your Aquarian is likely to love hi-tech/electronic products, futuristic and innovative gadgets always make wonderful Aquarius gifts. Things like:
Even something as ordinary a mug for the car will be greatly appreciated if accompanied by a thoughtful little poem.
Just keep in mind that it’s not the packaging that matters to an Aquarius man, but rather the time and effort you spend selecting a unique, innovative gift you know he will love.
Female Aquarians love jewelery. With amethyst as their birthstone, you have an extensive variety of items from which to choose, like pendants, rings, and earrings. Other ideas include:
If you still haven’t seen the gifts that will please your Aquarian, click here for more ideas …