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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Category — Blog

Dinner, Rolled Up!

Dinner, Rolled Up!

If you’re tired of the same old pizza night, why not switch it up and roll it up, by making it a Stromboli night? You may recognize the word Strombli, that delicious Italian turnover chock full of meats and cheeses — with all the goodness of a pizza in a spiral of delicious flavors.  Originated in Sicily, a Stromboli usually consists of Italian ingredients, rolled into dough and baked. But there are so many ways to get creative, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one style. Use your imagination, and refer to our easy grid to help you create your  masterpiece.  Make a few for game day, or get the kids involved for a fun family night activity!

  1. Start with one package of your favorite pizza or bread dough, approx. 20 oz.
  2. Stretch out the dough on a lightly floured surface, shape into a 10″ x  14″ rectangular, as if you were making a pizza.
  3. Using the chart below, add your fillings.* Leave a 1″ border around the dough.
  4. Roll up like a log the long way, gently sealing the ends. Place seam side down on a non-stick,  lightly-greased baking sheet.
  5. Brush with egg wash, and top with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, or in the case of the Reuben, use caraway seeds (optional). Make a few small slits to vent.
  6. Bake at 375º F for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with any dipping sauce, spread or condiment you desire!
Name Spread dough with a thin layer of Add Meat Cheese Add ons (any or all!)
Italian Crushed garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with oregano and Parmesan cheese 6 oz. each thinly sliced deli capicola ham, Genoa salami, slicing pepperoni 6 oz. sliced smoked Provolone Roasted Red Peppers, jarred Italian fried peppers in oil, chopped basil leaves, sliced black olives. sliced red onion
Greek Crushed garlic and olive oil, sprinkled with Greek oregano 6 oz. chopped, cooked chicken breast 1/2 cup crumbled feta and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, kalamata olives, sliced red onions
Pesto Chicken Basil pesto 6 oz. shredded rotisserie chicken 6 oz. shredded mozzarella 1 cup chopped steamed broccoli florets
Mexican Chunky salsa, any variety Seasoned taco beef (as if making tacos)  6 oz. pepper jack  Black beans, green chilis, chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped red onions, corn, cilantro
 Reuben Thousand Island dressing 8 oz thinly sliced corned beef 8 oz. sliced deli Swiss cheese 10 oz. well-drained sauerkraut
 Cheesesteak Melted garlic butter 8 oz. Sliced deli roast beef 6 oz sliced deli white American cheese Green bell pepper strips, sliced red onion
 Breakfast Melted butter Cooked bacon, crumbled, deli ham, or any breakfast meat of your choice, 4 eggs, scrambled 8 oz shredded cheddar Green bell pepper strips, cooked home fried potatoes

 

*You can add more meat, cheeses or fillings, to your taste. These are guidelines. Any of the above can also be turned into a vegetarian option by simply omitting meat. Try roasted vegetables, assorted cheeses — use your imagination!

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What’s so great about winter?

What’s so great about winter?

Many of you love winter and many of you hate winter. No matter which side of the coin your opinion falls, we thought it would be fun to share with you what our staff considers to be the best part about winter:

Fluffy, wonderful snow that dresses up the landscape.

Cozy sweaters.

Warm beverages.

Thick blankets and a movie.

Florida.

Cold, crisp days (no bugs!) and blue skies.

Growing daylight.

Snowstorm anticipation.

Tranquility.

Fires in the fire place.

And of course our one winter hater said – Spring!

What would you add to the list?

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Take Our Money-Saving Challenges!

Take Our Money-Saving Challenges!

The Beauty Products ChallengePlastic bottles of body care and beauty products
Many of us have closets and cabinets full of beauty products that we don’t use. Abandoned shampoos, conditioners, lotions, hair sprays, anti-frizz serums, gels — the list goes on and on. Maybe we didn’t like the smell or the way it performed, but we are saving it anyway because it seems wasteful to throw it away. Think about it: if each item averaged a $2 price tag (which is a conservative estimate), it would add up to quite a bit of your money for items you’re simply storing. Yet we head to the supermarket or drug store and buy more.

What if you challenged yourself to use up each of those products before you bought more?

You can also repurpose some of them. Let’s face it, soap is soap, and many companies simply repackage virtually the same formulas to get more of your money. If you don’t like a shampoo, why not put it in a soap dispenser in the bathroom for hand washing? Use unwanted hair conditioners for shaving your legs, which leaves them soft and smooth. Or donate items to your local homeless shelter.

The Cleaning Products ChallengeHouse cleaning products pile on white background
Keeping things clean is big business. What’s under your sink? Chances are you’ve got more cleaning products than you realistically need.

What if you pledged to use them up until the containers were empty* before buying more? 

These are also items that can be donated to animal shelters, senior centers and more. We have great ideas for natural cleaning products that you can make yourself!

The Plastic Bags ChallengeSmall Plastic Bag
Plastic bags from the supermarket seem to be a necessary evil. And many of us save them with the good intention of using them again. But often times we forget, or get lazy, and before we know it, that bag or drawer of plastic bags is overflowing.

How about using every single one until they are gone? 

  • Tuck a few in the back seat of your car for use on each shopping trip (and use them at every store, not just the supermarket),
  • Start whittling away at your stash by:
    • Putting a few bags near the litter box for scooping (check for holes), or taking a some with you on walks with the dog.
    • Lining your bathroom and other small trash receptacles with them instead of buying liners.
    • Using them for packing ice when bringing coolers to the beach.
    • Using them for wrapping wet bathing suits or other damp clothes from the gym or pool.
    • Having the cashier wrap leaky meat packages with your recycled bag rather than using another plastic bag.

The “No Spending For A Day” ChallengeA man opening his wallet
Can you go an entire day without spending a dime? We don’t mean the money you spend on essentials to keep your household running, like gasoline or groceries, or paying bills. Rather, that miscellaneous, non-essential spending, the kind that gets away from us: Dining out/fast food, movies and other entertainment, tobacco, alcohol, coffee and lattes. You get the idea.

Did you know that the average American worker spends $14.40 per week on coffee alone, not including coffee made at home? Imagine if that money was put in your bank account each week. That’s almost $800 per year in savings.

Of course it requires planning. You’ll have to shop ahead, pack lunches, etc., but it can be done! Why not get the kids involved, and make it a fun family challenge?

 So, what do you think? Can you do it? Let us know in the comments below how you fared after taking any one – or all –of our challenges. And share your results, and any other ideas, with us!

*Recycle containers when possible. Read labels for proper disposal.

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Comet Lovejoy Moves Close To Earth January 7th

Comet Lovejoy Moves Close To Earth January 7th

The New Year’s comet, Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, named for amateur Australian astronomer, Terry Lovejoy, is glowing green throughout January and can now be seen from latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere as it moves its close to Earth (at 43.6 million miles away). It should be visible starting Wednesday, January 7, 2015, with the best dark-sky viewing time from the end of twilight until moonrise.

While the comet is visible to the naked eye, you will still need binoculars or a telescope to view it, especially for those in well-lit areas, and you’ll need to know just where to look: Locate the constellation Orion in the sky — the comet’s path will be to the right of it. Click here to view the path the comet will take (Chart courtesy of SkyandTelescope.com).

Sky and Telescope reports, “although the comet begins to recede into the distance after the 7th, its intrinsic brightness should still be increasing a bit; it doesn’t reach perihelion [closest approach to the sun] until January 30th.”

During the next two weeks, the comet crosses Taurus, Aries, and Triangulum, rising higher in the early evening.

For more information and photos on Comet Lovejoy, visit SkyandTelescope.com. For more information about comets, click here.

Happy viewing, and let us know if you catch a glimpse of the comet!

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10 Things To Do In January

10 Things To Do In January

Now that the holidays are over, and we head into the thick of winter, you might be asking yourself, “now what?” Here’s a list of 10 things to do for the month of January that will not only keep you busy, but may even improve your mood! Try one, or all ten!

  1. Write thank you notes. It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, but if you buy yourself some beautiful notes and a nice pen, it can actually be a therapeutic task. Find a quiet spot and take a moment to thank those who made your holidays special this year.
  2. Visit a dog park. Even if you don’t own a dog, pick a sunny day (bundle up if it’s cold) and head to your local dog park. If you do own a dog, he’ll love it. Watching dogs frolic is very entertaining and doesn’t cost a dime.
  3. Buy yourself (or someone else) some flowers. The supermarket has small, inexpensive bouquets that can really brighten up your desk or someone else’s day.
  4. Visit your local library and get a library card. You may think in this digital age, you have no use for a library, but you’d be wrong. Your local library has a lot of great offerings: DVD rentals, books on tape/CD; you can borrow magazines, read the paper, use the computer — all to borrow free of charge. And all those books! They’re just waiting for you to check them out (when’s the last time you read a good book?) Ask the librarian for recommendations or check out their reading lists.  Also, check the notices board to see what fun events are going on.
  5. Take a cooking class. You can meet new people and learn a new signature dish to impress your friends.
  6. Take down your holiday decorations. Just do it. But feel free to keep the lights up.
  7. Toss everything in your fridge and pantry that expired in 2014. That includes vitamins and supplements.
  8. Delete shows you DVR’ed over the summer to make room for new shows you want to record this year.
  9. Ask your bank for a free check register and start keeping track of every dime you spend. Say “yes” to printed receipts at every checkout, and log your spending activities at the end of each day. Even if you don’t balance your checkbook each month, or even use checks anymore, this is a great way to start 2015 off on the right financial foot.
  10. Check with your town offices to see if they offer adult education programs. There’s usually something for everyone. Why not investigate a foreign language, take an art class, or learn a musical instrument? Some classes may even be free. Try something new and meet new people!

Share your ideas with us on how you plan to stay busy this winter.

 

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Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne

As you ring in the new year at the stroke of midnight, you may find yourself singing that famous New Year’s anthem, Auld Lang Syne, written by Robert Burns back in the 1700s.

Even though we sing it, not many of us really know the lyrics or what they mean. The Scottish tune translates to, literally, “for old times’ sake,” and is about remembering friends from the past, and not letting them be forgotten.

Despite its association with New Year’s Eve, Auld Lang Syne was a song that had nothing to do with any holiday. It was Guy Lombardo who popularized the song when his band played it between programming during a live radio broadcast in New York in 1929.  The band played Auld Lang Syne right at the stroke of midnight, and a tradition was born.

So here are the lyrics to that famous song:

Auld Lang Syne
by Robert Burns

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

CHORUS
And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We wish a very happy New Year to our friends from the past, and to new ones in the future, from all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac.

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Top Baby Names

Top Baby Names

According to the official web site of the Social Security Administration, the following names were most popular in 2013:

Male Name Female Name
1 Noah Sophia
2 Liam Emma
3 Jacob Olivia
4 Mason Isabella
5 William Ava
6 Ethan Mia
7 Michael Emily
8 Alexander Abigail
9 Jayden Madison
10 Daniel Elizabeth

 

Most popular names over the last 100 years (1914 – 2013): the male name Michael has held the top spot most often (44 times), while the female name Mary has been ranked number one 42 times over those years.

In 1914, these were the top 5 names:

Male Female
1 John Mary
2 William Helen
3 James Dorothy
4 Robert Margaret
5 Joseph Ruth

 

From the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, page 167.

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‘Tis The Season To Say Thank You

‘Tis The Season To Say Thank You

At this merry time of year, all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac would like to extend our well-wishes and appreciation to you, our web visitor and reader of the Farmers’ Almanac. While it’s sometimes hard to grasp how quickly time flies, it’s always good to find the time to thank the people who help make our publication and web site successful.

2015 marks the Farmers’ Almanac’s 198th edition! We are already planning on how to celebrate two centuries worth of publishing in a few years. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send us a note or email, but plan on being part of a big celebration.

We hope that 2015 brings you much happiness, health, and prosperity and that you continue to find our site and publication helpful and useful.

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac

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Let It Snow!

Let It Snow!

After I took my first “header” last week (a scary misstep on a patch of ice in front of my apartment), I started thinking about my relationship with winter.

It’s important to note, for the sake of this story, is that I live in Maine, where weather is a hot topic. And around winter time (which officially starts on Sunday, 12/21), even more so. The local weather forecast is the lead story in each night’s news broadcast (above all other stories), and everyday conversations float toward the topic no matter what the season.

While winter is seemingly our longest season here in the Northeast, usually extending from early November to mid-March, you will not hear me complaining. It is true that you might hear me chime in with others who are complaining, with a standard, “Brrr, it’s cold!” or “oh no, is it really going to snow?” and a convincing look of worry, but the truth be told, I don’t mind winter one bit. I actually enjoy it. Even when I’m sprawled on the sidewalk, red with embarrassment, hoping no one saw anything.

When the Farmers’ Almanac called for lots of shovelry for this coming winter, I was thrilled. Not only do I enjoy cooler weather, but when the first snow flies, I mark it on my calendar. When the forecast calls for snow, I get goosebumps. I love how quiet and peaceful things become in a snowstorm, where the hustle and bustle of everyday activities seem to fade at the first hint of falling flakes. Do I like to drive in a snow or ice storm, you ask? No, I do not. I’ll get that right on the table. But in all fairness, I’m not a fan of driving through thunderstorms either.  Driving aside, when it snows, things seem to turn slightly magical, almost as if nothing bad can happen. Things that are dirty and ugly disappear under the blanket of white. The general mood of things changes, making it the perfect time for a book, a cup of hot cocoa, and a chance to hunker down with the kittens and my Slanket (basically a blanket with sleeves). And when I hear the sounds of the hard-working plow guys clearing paths in the distance, I feel a sense of comfort.

I also find that even if my vehicle gets stuck in that beautiful snow, all is not lost because inevitably, someone appears from out of nowhere to help. Your wheels can be spinning and wildy going nowhere, when suddenly, reassuring voices and strong hands are pushing you to freedom.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility that one of your neighbors has even shoveled your walkway or dusted off your windshield, too. The Good Samaritans and Guardian Angels seem to appear when it’s snowing. It seems to gently bring out the good in people.

And of course Christmas, the holiday of goodwill and cheer, is my favorite of them all, in part, because of snow.

So, let it snow, I say.  But you might want to check back with me in March to see how I’m holding up.

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.