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Holiday Dinner Wine Pairings PDF Print E-mail
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Holiday Dinner Wine Pairings


Wine – the perfect complement for holiday meals.  The wine glasses look great on your table, and the wine adds that bit of elegance that helps to make a holiday special.  As the host, a nice glass of wine also helps you to relax briefly between the hours of cooking and the hours of clean-up and has even been known to increase tolerance for visiting in-laws.  As you plan your holiday gathering, following are some suggestions for selecting a wine to complement your meal.  A good wine-food pairing will make both the vino as well as that meal you slaved over taste better- and solidify your position as the host with the most.


A traditional turkey dinner complete with savory stuffing, tart cranberry sauce, rich gravy and more provides a diverse array of flavors to try to match with a wine, but also makes many wines appropriate.

Reds:  Consider lighter, slightly acidic, fruity reds like Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or Chianti.

Whites:  The acidic Sauvignon Blanc or a dry and slightly sweet Riesling pair well, as does the sweet Gewurztraminer.

Goose or Duck

These birds tend to be fattier than turkey and need a wine that can stand up to this richer taste.

Reds:  Try more robust reds, like Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo, or fuller versions of Pinot Noir or Zinfandel.

Whites:  Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely as does the dry Chardonnay.

Ham, Pork Tenderloin and Crown Roast

A sparkling rosé is a good match for these dishes.  Alternately, try one of the following.

Reds:  A lighter Pinot Noir or Beaujolais complements these meals.

Whites:  A dry Riesling works well with pork, in particular.

Roast Beef, Lamb and Venison

Red meat typically pairs best with robust, red wines.  The proteins in the meat have a smoothing affect on the bold tannins in these wines.  While white wines can also be enjoyable, it’s very difficult to put together a stellar match.

Reds:  Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice.  Merlot or bold Syrah also pair nicely.


Local Gifts to Polish Off Your List PDF Print E-mail
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Local Gifts to Polish Off Your List

Six  days and counting until Christmas, and you still need gifts for Aunt Marion in Phoenix, your new sister-in-law, and your Secret Santa pick from your book club.  Oh, and a hostess gift for your boss’ wife…their annual holiday party is tomorrow.  Whether you haven’t been able to locate a unique gift for that special someone or you’re just beginning your holiday shopping, consider visiting one of our region’s local farms for unique local items.

This year the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC) has added a holiday component to their Buy Local Challenge: “think farms” when doing your holiday shopping.  Following are some ideas to jumpstart your gift giving creativity, inspired by SMADC’s 2011/12 Holiday Guide.

Wreaths, Ornaments & Crafts

Holiday decorations make an appropriate present for just about anyone on your list.  Middleton’s Cedar Hill Farm offers custom designed Christmas decorations, as well as a nice selection of hostess and office gifts.   Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm also offers handmade Christmas ornaments.  You can find a selection of Poinsettia at Greenstreet Gardens or Miller Farms.  Make an appointment at Scarborough Farm for unique holiday wreaths, swags, garlands, and centerpieces.  Their collections are adorned with greens, pods, peppers, berries, shells, and herbs, as well as optional ribbons, lights and candles.  Ferny Brae Farm Crafts offers crafts made by hand from their sheep’s wool.  Choose from a selection of angels, snowmen, reindeer, fairies, animals, and sheep.

Unique Gifts

Looking for something a little less traditional?  Serenity Farm, right here in Charles County, offers walking sticks at their farm store.  Or, consider a mohair throw blanket from Tree Stump Acres.  At Finca Serena Alpaca Ranch you’ll find unique alpaca gifts from socks, gloves, and hats to finger puppets and teddy bears.


Wine from a local vineyard makes a great gift for the wine connoisseur, the novice, or anyone who’d enjoy a taste of Southern Maryland.  Local wineries include Fridays Creek, Perigeaux Vineyards, Port of Leonardtown Winery, Roman Vineyard & Winery, and Solomons Island Winery.


To LED, Or Not to LED PDF Print E-mail
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To LED, Or Not to LED


That is the question.  There’s been lots of talk about light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the last few years.  By now, most of us know that they’re more energy efficient, but they also cost more.  So…what’s the deal with these lights and how much energy and money can they really save?

How are LED lights different from traditional lights?

Incandescent bulbs pass light through a filament until it gets hot enough to glow.  Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use a gas reaction to product ultraviolet light that becomes visible with the help of a fluorescent coating.  Both release light and heat in all directions, with CFLs releasing 80 percent and incandescent releasing 90 percent of their energy as heat.  LEDs, on the other hand, create light via the movement of electrons through a semiconductor material.  Light is emitted in a single direction, creating much more efficiency in the use of both light and heat.

What are the benefits of LEDs?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, rapid adoption of LED lighting in the U.S. by 2027 could deliver savings of roughly $265 billion, eliminate the need for 40 new power plants and reduce lighting electricity demand by 33 percent in 2027.

Since it’s the holiday season, let’s look at benefits and savings in terms of Christmas lights.  The Department of Energy estimates a nationwide savings of roughly $410 million in electricity costs if all households switched to LED holiday lights.  To give you a sense of how much extra cash LED lights will leave in your pocket, consider the following:

The cost of lighting one 6-foot tree for twelve hours per day for forty days costs roughly $25.31 with standard C-7 lights, $6.03 with mini incandescent lights, and only $0.56 with LED holiday lights!  There are a few other very tangible benefits of LED holiday lights:

They last longer — with a projected life span of roughly 20,000 hours, or forty holiday seasons.

They’re cooler than incandescent bulbs, reducing risk of injury or fire.

They’re more durable — generally made from solid plastic rather than glass.

Because they require less power, it is safer to connect multiple strings end-to-end without overloading the socket.


Wrap It Green PDF Print E-mail
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Wrap It Green


Wrapping paper looks pretty and is an easy way to conceal gifts, but it can be expensive and it’s not very ‘green’.  Much of the mass-produced wrapping paper we buy and use is not recyclable and will end up in landfills.  Alternative wrapping can not only be more environmentally-friendly and easier on your wallet, it can also display your creativity and style, make your gift stand out, and show you care.

Consider using the following items in lieu of traditional wrapping paper: the comics section of the newspaper, old maps, magazine pages, junk mail, takeout menus, old calendars, brown paper bags, posters, wallpaper, old sheet music, wrapping paper from last year, children’s artwork or coloring book pages, scarves, fabric, dish towels, napkins, handkerchiefs, bandanas, and reusable tote bags.

Get creative!  Consider making the wrap part of the gift…what about a kitchen towel to wrap up kitchen items, or a washcloth for bath soaps?  A beautiful scarf or handkerchief might serve as a nice wrap for jewelry or another small item.  I’m certain Grandma and Grandpa would love to get a framed picture wrapped up in some of little Johnny’s artwork, or perhaps his schoolwork (with an A!).  Think about tailoring the wrap to the recipient.  Select a relevant image or article from a newspaper or magazine and use that to conceal the gift.  My sister loves films — the movie listings from our local paper would serve as an interesting wrap for her gift.  Or, what about making the wrap relevant to the gift — like movie listings used to wrap movie tickets?

Jazz up wrapping by gluing on images from magazines, old greeting cards, or used stamps.  Decorate with buttons or beads.  Consider pine cones, twigs, origami shapes, ornaments, or small toys in place of bows.  I haven’t tried this, but according to The Daily Green, newspaper can be curled and made into a bow by using a scissor in the same manner as you would for curling ribbon.  A little more delicacy is required to ensure the newspaper doesn’t rip.  To finish off your gift – think about using old greeting cards or scraps of paper as unique gift tags.


Download Now for Enhanced Shopping! PDF Print E-mail
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Dowload Now for Enhanced Shopping!

Unless you have your own team of elves, holiday shopping can be overwhelming.  The vast selection of products and retailers — both on and off-line — is mind boggling.  Following is an elite selection of the available Smartphone apps designed to help you choose the best product, get the best price, and remember everyone on your list.

The Find

Scan and compare.  The Find allows you to shop and save money using your Desktop, Tablet, Smartphone, or Facebook and synchs these platforms to allow you to research and buy seamlessly – both at home and in-store.  Barcode scanning technology lets you quickly compare prices, locate alternate nearby retailers, and even map your route.  Also includes the ability to set price watches and share favorite items with friends.  Works with Apple and Android devices.

iGive Gifts

Get organized.  iGive Gifts allows you to neatly organize gift ideas, events, and gifts given and received.  Budgeting software allows you to track your finances for a given event and identify how much budget is remaining.  A shopping list allows you to sort and view not yet purchased gifts by store.   This app costs $0.99.  An upgrade option provides even more functionality.   iPhone compatible.

Coupon Sherpa

No more clipping!  Coupon Sherpa allows you to check for deals at stores near you.  More than 100 coupons are available.  No need to cut or print - the cashier will scan the barcode directly from your mobile device.  Compatible with Apple and Android devices.

Barcode Hero

Get a recommendation from everyday users.  Barcode Hero is an interactive community that allows you to comment on your favorite products and read reviews from other users.  Scan a barcode to quickly locate feedback on an item you’re considering.  Barcode hero integrates with Facebook and Twitter and includes millions of products in over 20,000 categories.  Works with the iPhone.


Helping End Hunger in Southern Maryland PDF Print E-mail
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Helping End Hunger in Southern Maryland

It’s time for the Rise-n-Shine Charity Holiday Arts and Crafts Festival to benefit the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Join us in support of ending hunger and finding the perfect holiday gifts on Sunday, December 18th at My Brothers Place in Waldorf, Maryland from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is $1.00 with a canned good donation or $5.00 without.

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