Category Archives: arts and culture

Southern Pies by Nancie McDermott

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So happy to receive Nancie McDermott’s awesome cookbook Southern Pies! THERE WILL BE BAKING DONE HERE. 😀

Website: http://www.nanciemcdermott.com/cookbooks/southern_pies.htm

Twitter: @nanciemac

And great pie vs. cake issue of Our State: North Carolina
magazine!

Website: http://www.ourstate.com/

Twitter: @ourstatemag

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Holidays at the White House 2013: Gingerbread White House, the National Tree, Decorations


Building the 2013 Gingerbread White House

As part of White House holiday tradition, the State Dining Room is home to the famous gingerbread house. Over the course of several weeks, Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and his talented team created a 300-pound, edible White House replica. This year’s creation features a mini Bo and Sunny sitting on the front steps of the house lit from within, and a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain. Dec. 9, 2013


National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 2013

The President:

“Merry Christmas, everybody! Well, this show is always a great way to get in the holiday spirit. Every year, I rehearse my own little act, just in case. But it seems like, yet again, they couldn’t find space to squeeze me into the program. (Laughter.) You are lucky I’m not singing.

First of all, let me thank Secretary Jewell and welcome her to her first Christmas Tree Lighting. She is doing a great job for our national parks. She used to run one of America’s biggest outdoor recreation companies, and now she’s charged with protecting the great outdoors for all of us. So we appreciate her and we want to thank Neil Mulholland and the whole National Park Foundation and National Park Service team for helping to put this beautiful production together.

Let’s also give it up for Jane Lynch and all the great performers who are doing an incredible job putting us in a festive mood tonight. (Applause.) And to all Americans who are here today and watching at home, we are so glad to be part of this wonderful holiday tradition.

For 91 years, the National Christmas Tree has stood as a beacon of light and a promise during the holiday season. During times of peace and prosperity, challenge and change, Americans have gathered around our national tree to kick off the holiday season and give thanks for everything that makes this time of year so magical — spending time with friends and family, and spreading tidings of peace and goodwill here at home and around the world.

And this year, we give a special measure of gratitude for Nelson Mandela, a man who championed that generosity of spirit. (Applause.) In his life, he blessed us with tremendous grace and unbelievable courage. And we are all privileged to live in a world touched by his goodness.

Each Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child who came into the world with only a stable’s roof to shelter Him. But through a life of humility and the ultimate sacrifice, a life guided by faith and kindness towards others, Christ assumed a mighty voice, teaching us lessons of compassion and charity that have lasted more than two millennia. He ministered to the poor. He embraced the outcast. He healed the sick. And in Him we see a living example of scripture that we ought to love others not only through our words, but also through our deeds.

It’s a message both timeless and universal — no matter what God you pray to, or if you pray to none at all — we all have a responsibility to ourselves and to each other to make a difference that is real and lasting. We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper.

And so in this season of generosity, let’s reach out to those who need help the most. In this season of reflection, let’s make sure that our incredibly brave servicemembers and their families know how much we appreciate their sacrifice. And there are several military families and servicemen and women here tonight. We are so grateful to you for all that you do. (Applause.)

In this season of hope, let us come together as one people, one family to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to keep America the land of endless opportunity and boundless optimism for which we’re so thankful.

So on behalf of Malia, Sasha, Marian, the First Lady Michelle, plus Bo and Sunny, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season. God bless you. God bless our troops. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)”

Source: http://1.usa.gov/IMcFlN


First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decorations

The First Lady:

“And that actually brings me to this year’s official White House holiday theme, which is “Gather Around: Stories of the Season.” This holiday season, we’ll be focusing on the stories behind classic American holiday traditions — traditions celebrated here at the White House and across the country. Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays.

And that starts with all of you — literally. In fact, when visitors arrive, the very first thing they’ll see is a tree decorated to pay tribute to our Armed Forces. This tree, graced with special Gold Star ornaments, tells the story of some of our greatest heroes: Those who gave their lives for our country. And any Gold Star family who visits the White House can create their own ornament to honor their loved one. In addition, everyone who visits this White House this year gets a chance to fill out an Operation Honor Card pledging to serve their community in honor of our military families, your servicemembers, your veterans, whoever you choose, just find a way to serve.

We also have an entire room — it’s right next door, it’s the Blue Room, one of my favorite rooms — dedicated to the idea of gathering around our military. The tree in that room is decorated with holiday greeting cards drawn by military children from bases all across the country as a way to celebrate their parents’ service. And they’re beautiful, they’re really sweet cards.

So that’s how we’ll be honoring our veterans and servicemembers and their families this holiday season. And I would ask during this time that every American find a way to honor these great Americans, not just during the holidays, but every day. And let us never forget the debt that we owe these men and women and their amazing families.

As for the rest of the house, because there is more, we have a number of special touches that build on our “Gather Around: Stories of the Season” theme. In the East Garden Room, you’ll see Christmas trees made entirely of stacks of books. You may have seen those coming in, they’re very cool. In the Cross Hall, you’ll see trees reflecting the idea of gathering around our heritage. They’ll be decorated with ornaments representing great American sites like the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, and there’s some silhouettes of people you might know today in history, so you guys will look and see if you recognize anyone.

And of course, we have our usual first dog display. This year, Bo will be joined by his little sister Sunny, our new pup, and the two of them will be surrounded by books. And I was surprised to see last night, this year they actually move. They’re mechanical. This is a new step. We’re stepping up in the world of Bo-and-Sunny honoring. And these are just a few of this year’s highlights.

Although people who visit the White House will see dozens of trees and wreaths, they’re going to see thousands of ornaments and they’re going to see a gingerbread house that weighs about 300 pounds — it’s pretty big — some of the best sights they’ll see are kids enjoying all of this just wonderful glory. Some of the best times in this White House is just watching the faces of kids as they walk through this house and count the trees and look at the ornaments.

And none of this would be possible without the 83 volunteers like Diane who came from all across the country to help us decorate, once again, sacrificing, leaving their families — because they start decorating this house the day after Thanksgiving. It would not be possible for us to do all of this without our volunteers. They are a pleasure to work with, they are high-energy, they are positive. And just look around. I mean, every year they just outdo themselves. So we are just so grateful for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Now, over the course of this season, about 70,000 people will come to see our holiday decorations — not bad. And I can’t imagine a better group of people than all of you to be our very first guests. Don’t you feel special? No one has seen these, not even the President has seen these. (Applause.) He hasn’t seen them yet. You guys are the first.

And truly, it is a treat to make you all the first every season, because you all do so much for us. And we are so proud and so honored and so grateful. And we just want to give you a chance to bring your families in to just get a little special something just to remind you just how special we all think you are.”

Source: http://1.usa.gov/191xLqu

West Wing Week 11/15/13 or, “We Will Stand By Your Side”

Welcome to the West Wing Week, your guide to everything that’s happening at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and beyond. This week, the First and Second Families honored Veterans Day, the President traveled to New Orleans and to Cleveland to speak on the importance of infrastructure to job creation, signed the EpiPen Law, discussed immigration reform with Faith Leaders and attended the 5th Annual Tribal Nations Conference. That’s November 8th to November 14th or “We Will Stand By Your Side.”

First Lady speaks at Careers in Film Symposium, 11/8/13

The First Lady:

“So you all have had a chance to learn the nuts and bolts of the movie business from some of Hollywood’s most respected leaders. But here’s the thing: These folks know that it doesn’t just take technical knowledge to succeed in the movie business. That’s one of the important points we want you all to take away. It’s not just about being a good actor or knowing how to create the best special effects. It’s also about things like grit. It’s about determination, resilience. Because all of those character traits — the ability to overcome adversity — all of that are some of the traits and skills that have made the folks on this stage successful in life. And that’s what I want you guys to understand.

Talent comes and goes. But it’s your ability to dig deep when things are hard and make things happen for yourself — that’s the difference between just an average life and success. And there are many examples up on this stage….

Because no matter what kind of neighborhood you come from, no matter what obstacle you are facing in your path right now — I don’t care what’s happening to you today, you can always find something that you’re passionate about. You can always find something worth working for in your life.

And once you find that passion, whether it’s film — maybe it’s science or business, maybe it’s teaching — anything, you have got to get your education…. And getting your education means doing everything you can. It is on you….

….And if you do that, if you own your education and you don’t let any excuses get in your way, no obstacle block you, then I guarantee you can achieve anything that you put your mind to. As Gayle once said — she said, “Confidence comes by doing and doing and doing. That’s the secret.” And she said, “You can’t get confident without working hard. That’s the key to everything.”

The President works hard. Everybody in this room — every intern, every person with a light or a camera, they get up and they work hard. That’s the difference. So I want you all to have that confidence for yourself.

And I hope that this day here in the White House showed you that if you can walk into the White House and sit in the East Room with all these stars and greats, that you can do anything. Do you realize that? You have been in this room in this house with all of us. So you can do anything. Can you just own that for a minute? Stand up a little straighter. (Laughter.) Own it. I spent the day at the White House with the First Lady and with all these stars and actors, and I held it together. (Laughter.)….

And promise me that you will do everything you can in your powers to get the education that is right before you. Because there are kids all over the world that would love to trade places with any single one of you, because they don’t have a fraction of the opportunities that kids in America do, kids like all of you. So promise me that you will take this seriously. Take your lives seriously. Own your futures, because we all did.”

Opening a bottle with Hatful of Rain

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Well, not literally with them, but with their bottle opener. 🙂

Here’s some music from my favorite folk group:

Title song from album “Way Up On the Hill”

Latest release, “The Exit Song

In conversation at Union Music Store studio

Website: http://www.hatfulofrain.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hatfulofrainband

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Hatful_of_Rain

Label: http://unionmusicstore.com/

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the White House, 5/28/13

“We’re all part of the same ohana“: Remarks by the President at AAPI Heritage Month Celebration

“But it’s more than food and family — because generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders helped build this country, and helped to defend this country, and to make America what it is today. It’s a history that speaks to the promise of our nation — one that welcomes the contributions of all people, no matter their color or their beliefs, because we draw from the rich traditions of everybody who calls America home. “E pluribus unum” — out of many, one.

And the artists joining us today exemplify that creed. So we’ve got performers like Karsh Kale, who fuses the best of East and West, mixing eclectic beats with the sounds of his heritage and creating music that’s distinctly his own — that’s a trait, obviously, that’s distinctly American. We’ve got musicians like Paula Fuga and John Cruz, whose work represents the spirit of my native Hawaii and reminds us that we’re all part of the same ohana. We have authors like Amy Tan, who uses her own family’s immigration story to trace the stories of others. She makes out of the particular something very universal.

We value these voices because from the very beginning, ours has been a nation of immigrants; a nation challenged and shaped and pushed ever forward by diverse perspectives and fresh thinking. And in order to keep our edge and stay ahead in the global race, we need to figure out a way to fix our broken immigration system — to welcome that infusion of newness, while still maintaining the enduring strength of our laws. And the service and the leadership of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have proved that point time and again.

So we take opportunities like today to honor the legacy of those who paved the way, like my friend, the late Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, the first Japanese American to serve in Congress — and to celebrate the pioneers of this generation, like Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, one of the first female veterans elected to Congress. (Applause.) And one of my favorite people right now, Sri Srinivasan, who has just been confirmed. (Applause.) Here’s Sri, right here. (Applause.)

I was proud to nominate Sri, and he was just confirmed unanimously to become the first South Asian American federal appeals court judge. (Applause.) I was telling his kids, who are here today, if he starts getting a big head, walking around the house with a robe — (laughter) — asking them to call him “Your Honor” — (laughter) — then they should talk to me. (Laughter.)

In every election, at every board meeting, in every town across America, we see more and more different faces of leadership, setting an example for every young kid who sees a leader who looks like him or her. And that’s a good thing. We’ve got to keep that up. We’ve got to do everything we can to make sure everybody works hard, everybody plays by the rules, everybody has a chance to get ahead — to start their own business, to earn a degree, to write their own page in the American story — that the laws respect everybody, that civil rights apply to everybody. That’s who we are at our best and that’s what we’re here to celebrate. That’s the challenge that I believe we’re going to meet together.”

Full text: http://1.usa.gov/158OgNv

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company performs at the White House as part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebration.

Author Amy Tan at the White House AAPI Heritage Month celebration.

Paula Fuga and John Cruz perform at the White House AAPI Heritage Month. celebration

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: news, fact sheets, guide of federal resources, information for limited English-proficient persons, related videos: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/aapi

The White House Steinway Piano

Go inside the White House with White House Curator, Bill Allman, as he talks about one of the White House’s most recognized artifacts, The Steinway Piano and learn about the famous piano that has helped to establish the East Room of the White House as a focal point for the performing arts.