Christmas Charcuterie Board

This Christmas charcuterie board is one of my favorite Christmas food boards! It’s a dessert charcuterie board full of cookies, candy, and other seasonal treats! Make this Christmas candy charcuterie board for your next holiday gathering!

WHAT IS A CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE?

This is it! Day 12 of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies series! It’s been so fun sharing some of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes with you the past 12 days, and don’t worry I’ve got lots more cookie goodness in the works coming up soon! In the meantime, I’ve got just the solution for your holiday snacking needs — this dessert charcuterie board filled with lots of cookies, candies, fruits, and everything salty, tangy, and sweet! It’s the best way to showcase all the holiday treats you’ve been working on this season, and such a fun, festive way to keep your Christmas crew happy!

10 min · 396 cals per serving · 15 servs Read full directions

  • INGREDIENTS (17)
  • NUTRITION FACTS
5Cutout Sugar Cookies
5Gingerbread Crinkle Cookies
3Christmas Cookie Cake (slices)
5Cranberry White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
8Cinnamon Palmiers
5Chocolate-Covered Oreos
4Peppermint White Chocolate Sugar Cookies
1 cupHoliday Marshmallows
6Graham Crackers
4 ouncesWhite Chocolate Pieces
½ cupHoliday M & Ms
7Candy Canes
1 cupSugared Cranberries (see note)
2 tablespoonsJam
¼ cup sprinklesNonpareils (and/or sanding sugar)
¼ cupFrosting
addRosemary (or dried citrus, for garnish)

Nutrition

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 396 kcal | Carbohydrates: 57 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 18 g | Saturated Fat: 9 g | Cholesterol: 24 mg | Sodium: 219 mg | Potassium: 35 mg | Fiber: 0.5 g | Sugar: 39 g | Calcium: 20 mg | Iron: 1 mg

by Chenée Lewis of cheneetoday.com

Source: Christmas Charcuterie Board – Dessert Charcuterie Board – Chenée Today (cheneetoday.com)

New TSA PreCheck Scam Hitting Travelers This Year. 

Travelers with suitcases walking through a crowded airport terminal.

© Getty Images

Once an obscure program, TSA PreCheck has gained a lot of popularity due to travel rewards credit cards that offer credits for signing up. Unfortunately, that popularity has a downside: scammers.

Just in time for holiday travel, scammers have started targeting travelers with phishing emails and fraudulent websites aimed at TSA PreCheck renewals. The goal is to get both the renewal fee and your personal information for potential future fraud.

We talked to former FBI analyst Crane Hassold, who now works as the Director of Threat Intelligence at Abnormal Security, for more information about how to spot these scams and what to do if you find yourself the target of one.

Detecting TSA PreCheck scams can be tough

Perhaps the most troubling part of these new scams is that they’re so detailed. Hassold says scammers have taken a lot of time and effort to make accurate fakes that closely mimic authentic TSA emails and websites. This can make it hard to tell if you have a legitimate website or a fraudulent one.

“Unlike other scams we see every day, these TSA PreCheck scam emails are actually quite sophisticated,” said Hassold. “The normal red flags we tell people to look out for aren’t really there.”

On the plus side, Hassold says there are still things you can look for to decide if you’re taking the bait of a scammer. The most obvious will be the email address of the sender. You should also watch out for payment requests that seem off.

Actual emails from the TSA will be sent from a .gov email address, while these scam emails are sent from a .com address,” said Hassold. “Also, official payments for government services can generally be made using a variety of methods, but the only payment method for the ‘application fees’ requested in the scam is PayPal.”

Since the TSA is a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), you may also get emails or notifications from DHS. These should also have the .gov address.

Given how hard it can be to tell a fraudulent email from a legitimate one, the best advice is to avoid using in-email links to access your account. Instead, use a trusted search engine to go directly to the TSA or DHS website.

As with TSA email addresses, the official website will have a .gov domain, rather than a .com or .org. You should also look for the lock icon near the website bar in your browser to ensure you’re on a secure website.

Once you click on the Apply or Renew links on the TSA website, you’re taken to the Universal Enroll page. This is a part of the DHS website and should contain the DHS.gov domain.

Report account fraud to the police and the FTC

Despite your best efforts, you still may wind up the victim of one of these sophisticated scams. When asked about what to do if you suspect a scam, Hassold agrees with the advice from the TSA that you should follow these steps:

  1. Report the fraud to your local police department
  2. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission website (ReportFraud.ftc.gov)
  3. Alert your credit card issuer or bank about the fraudulent charge

That last step is especially important if you want to get your money back. The TSA website specifically says that the TSA isn’t responsible for reimbursing anyone who attempts to enroll or renew a TSA PreCheck account through a fraudulent website.

Scammers may be getting smarter, but there are still things we can do to stymie their efforts. With a little extra vigilance, you can avoid becoming a victim of fraud this holiday season.

Ascent© article written by Brittney Myers.

Source: New TSA PreCheck Scam Hitting Travelers This Year. Here’s How to Avoid It (msn.com)

Top Baby Names in 2021

A newborn baby wrapped in a swaddle with a

It’s official: Olivia and Liam are the most popular baby names of 2021. The top ten baby girl names remained relatively constant since last year, with the exception of a few minor swaps. But there was some exciting movement on the boys’ side, with a pair of new names – Levi and Asher – entering the top ten.

BabyCenter’s baby name rankings come from hundreds of thousands of parents who share their babies’ names with us in real time, making them a more up-to-the-minute look at what’s trending. One note before getting into the full results: For the first time ever, we’ve chosen not to combine spelling variations of the same name in the rankings. That means you’ll see Sophia and Sofia on different spots in the list (number 5 and number 22, respectively), as well as Oakley, Oaklee, and Oakly; Jackson and Jaxson; and many more versions of similar names.

We know for many parents, there’s a lot that goes into deciding what to name their child, from family history and special meanings to even sound and spelling.(For example, a recent BabyCenter survey revealed that 40 percent of parents decided to skip traditional spelling when choosing their baby’s name.) Spelling matters – even the tiniest differences – and we see that, so, every version of a name now has its own spot in the rankings.

No new baby girl names cracked the top ten in 2021, though we did see some small shuffles in popularity: Charlotte moved up two spots from number 8 to number 6, while Amelia rose from number 5 to number 3. Ava, Sophia, Isabella, and Mia each dropped one spot. If you read the top ten list of baby girl names aloud, you’ll notice a similar sound in the final syllable of eight of the names – the “ahs” definitely still have it.

The competition was a little fiercer on the baby boy names side of the column this year: Liam is the most popular name, followed by some familiar names from years past, but two new names entered the top ten: Levi jumped from number 16 to number 6, and Asher soared from number 22 to number 8. Oliver and Elijah traded spots in the number 3 and 4 places, and Mateo and Logan left the top ten.   

This year’s fastest-rising baby girl names were Raya (up 53 percent), Alora (up 32 percent) and Ariya (up 27 percent); while Onyx (up 44 percent), Koda (up 38 percent), and Finnegan (up 35 percent) saw the biggest jumps on the boys’ side. Many of these names had already been climbing the ranks in our mid-year baby names trend report from this summer. We also saw lots of short and sweet names like Jack, Leo, Isla, and Ayla trending up.

Gender-neutral and unisex baby names (Finley, Tatum), along with names inspired by nature (Willow, Ivy, Sage) and pop culture (Daphne, Chadwick) were some of this year’s biggest baby name trends. We also saw a spike in baby names that channel strength, optimism, and resilience – a testament to being born in the middle of a pandemic, we suspect.

TRUE POPULARITY

RANKGIRLSBOYS
1OliviaLiam
2EmmaNoah
3AmeliaOliver
4AvaElijah
5SophiaLucas
6CharlotteLevi
7IsabellaMason
8MiaAsher
9LunaJames
10HarperEthan
11GiannaMateo
12EvelynLeo
13AriaJack
14EllaBenjamin
15EllieAiden
16MilaLogan
17LaylaGrayson
18AveryJackson
19CamilaHenry
20LilyWyatt
21ScarlettSebastian
22SofiaCarter
23NovaDaniel
24AuroraWilliam
25ChloeAlexander

Article by Amy Cassell for babycenter.com

To see 75 more top names, click the link below.

Source: Baby names: Popular baby boy and baby girl names in 2021 | BabyCenter

5 States with the Worst Worker Shortages

A help-wanted sign is displayed at a gas station in Mount Prospect, Ill.
© Nam Y. Huh, AP

Businesses are struggling to hire workers across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, constraining an economy that’s still recovering from the health crisis.

But the worst U.S. labor shortage since at least the 1990s is far more dire in some states than others.

Employers in Massachusetts, West Virginia and Maryland are having the toughest time finding workers while those in Nevada, Wyoming and Hawaii are facing the fewest obstacles, according to a Moody’s Analytics study of Labor Department figures released for the first time last month. Friday’s jobs report will showcase the latest employment data nationally.

Here’s a look, in order, at the five states with the most severe worker shortages in September and the five with the least severe deficits, based on their openings-to-hires gaps:

5 states with worst worker shortages

Massachusetts

Job openings rate: 8.1%

Hires rate: 4.1%

Gap: 4 percentage points

The state has recovered substantially from the pandemic and most students have returned to its many colleges. That’s fueling more demand for goods and services and creating more job openings but most of those students aren’t part of the workforce, Kamins notes. That labor pool is still diminished as residents care for kids or stay cautious about going back to work because of COVID-19.

In Auburn, Atlas Distribution, a wholesaler of beer and beverages with 100 to 200 employees, has about a dozen openings – for warehouse workers, merchandising specialists, delivery drivers and helpers, says company Comptroller Jackie Faron. If Atlas schedules five interviews, perhaps half will show up, Faron says.

In Weymouth, George Washington Toma TV and Appliance has a similar number of openings but just 50 employees, so it’s having a harder time keeping pace with demand. The store, in turn, closes earlier during the week and no longer opens at all on Sunday, says CEO George Toma.

“We didn’t really have a slow season,” Toma says, adding that November was off the charts. “It’s not even Black Friday anymore, it’s Black November.”

West Virginia

Job openings rate: 8%

Hires rate: 4.6%

Gap: 3.4 percentage points

West Virginia is graced by a stunning natural landscape and vibrant tourism industry that fuels customer demand and job openings. But it was hit with the nation’s largest population decline from 2010 to 2020, losing 3.2% of its residents amid the coal industry’s decline and opioid overdose epidemic. That means there are fewer potential workers, Kamins says.

Compounding the labor shortage is the state’s status as a retirement haven, with about a fifth of the population over 65, putting more pressure on health and other services. Yet most of those older residents aren’t part of the workforce, Kamins says.

Maryland

Job openings rate: 7.3%

Hires rate: 3.9%

Gap: 3.4 percentage points

Southern Maryland is a bedroom community for Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia, and many of those district and Virginia employees have been working from home in Maryland, Kamins says. That stokes demand for services during the day without supplying a similar boost to a workforce still suffering from COVID-19-related impediments.

Jamison Door Co. in Hagerstown, could use about 15 workers, says company Chairman John Williams. “Our business is really, really good,” he said of the firm, which makes doors for the cold storage industry. Its products are in demand, he says, because the pandemic has changed the way people ship, order, and buy food.

But he adds, “It’s difficult just to attract people to talk.”

The company has raised pay, and the lowest-wage job now earns more than $20 per hour, To help allay fears of the virus, Jamison even has brought in mobile units to provide vaccinations or booster shots to workers who want them.

“We’ve tried every way we know how” to recruit workers, Williams said. “Some people will actually accept a job, work for a week and be gone…The work ethic of old seems to be not as strong.”

Michigan

Job openings rate: 7.6%

Hires rate: 4.3%

Gap: 3.3 percentage points

The state, which lost residents from 2000 to 2010 as the auto industry was pummeled by foreign competition, had among the slowest growing populations over the past 10 years. The industry’s chip shortage also has dampened job openings during the pandemic, but not enough to offset the slow-growing labor force, Kamins says.

Minnesota

Job openings rate: 6.2%

Hires rate: 3.1%

Gap: 3.1 percentage points

Demand has held up better than nearby Chicago while the state has endured among the sharpest slowdowns in population growth last year, Kamins says. 

Article by Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

Source: Massachusetts tops 5 states with the worst worker shortages. See where your state ranks. (msn.com)

Christmas Day 2021 Traditions

A beautifully lit Christmas Tree with an abundance of presents underneath, adjacent a decorated fireplace.

Christmas Day, which falls on the 25th of December each year, is a time when Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a time for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all.

When Is Christmas Day?

Here are upcoming dates for Christmas Day:

YearDate
2021Saturday, December 25
2022Sunday, December 25
2023Monday, December 25

Why Do We Give Gifts At Christmas?

Opening gifts might be one of your favorite parts about Christmas, but have you ever wondered why we receive presents on Christmas, or why we have Christmas trees?

The tradition of giving gifts to our loved ones at Christmas is meant to be a reminder of the presents that the Wise Men gave Jesus (Frankincense, Myrrh, and Gold). In the United States, buying Christmas gifts became popular in the early 1800s. During that time the lower class celebrated in the streets and demanded that the wealthy give them food and drink. In response to this, the wealthier residents of the city strove to reinvent Christmas as a holiday centered around home and family.

The Toy Connection

In the 1820s, the American toy industry started to grow, and after the Civil War, these novelty consumer products increased in popularity. While parents initially tried to focus on the spiritual side of Christmas, it became increasingly difficult to limit what toys and books children could access. To maintain control, parents started buying products to teach and entertain their children. In response to this trend, retailers started actively marketing Christmas gifts at the beginning of the twentieth century. Over time, gift-giving traditions grew into what we are familiar with today.

Why Christmas Trees?

Germany is heralded as the birthplace of this tradition, which started in the early 16th century when devout Christians would build pyramids of wood decorated with evergreen boughs to celebrate the holiday.

Why Do We Decorate Trees?

Some historians contend that decorating the Christmas tree extends back to the 7th century to a monk who went to Germany. He brought a tree for the people to decorate with simple, white candles. It wasn’t until 1610 that tinsel (made with pure silver) was added to the tree.

Eventually, the Christmas tree made its way to England where decorations became more ornate, with glass beads and hand-sewn snowflakes. In the 1800s, the tradition of decorating the tree crossed the Atlantic and settled into American homes ever since.

Source: Christmas Day 2021 Traditions, Recipes, and Lore – Farmers’ Almanac (farmersalmanac.com)

Pfizer Says Booster Neutralized Omicron but Variant May Elude Two Doses

Pfizer Says Booster Neutralized Omicron but Variant May Elude Two Doses
© Amir Hamja for The Wall Street Journal

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE said that a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine neutralized the Omicron variant in lab tests but that the two-dose regimen was significantly less effective at blocking the virus.

A third dose increased antibodies 25-fold compared with two doses in the Omicron variant, the companies said. Still, two doses may prove effective in preventing severe illness from Covid-19, they said, because immune cells are able to recognize 80% of parts of the spike protein that the vaccine targets.

The results were issued in a press release by the companies, and weren’t peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal.

The findings from the companies’ early study, and one by scientists in South Africa, suggest that three doses will be needed to produce a similar immune response against Omicron as was provided by just two doses in earlier strains of the virus.

It also bolsters the case for repeated and periodic boosters to maintain people’s immune defenses against an evolving Covid-19, the companies said.

“This is very positive news that should make everyone even more motivated to get vaccinated” and get a booster, said Pfizer Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten.

The companies’ current vaccine will provide a strong defense against Omicron, especially if people get a booster shot, Dr. Dolsten said. The three-dose regimen, he added, could provide stopgap protection against Omicron through the winter and until a new vaccine targeted directly at the variant would be ready if needed.

Pfizer and BioNTech are working on an Omicron-specific vaccine that they hope to have available by March 2022 if the variant becomes widespread by then. Researchers started working on the new vaccine on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, shortly after Omicron was identified.

The vaccine trains the immune system to fight the virus by generating immune-system soldiers known as antibodies, which attach to the virus and prevent it from replicating in healthy cells. The vaccine also produces other immune-system fighters called T cells that can kick in after infection to help target and clear the virus, preventing more serious disease.

Pfizer and BioNTech said that the parts of the virus targeted by vaccine-induced T cells are mostly unaffected by Omicron.

Dr. Dolsten estimated there is a greater than 50% chance that Omicron becomes the dominant strain spreading in the U.S. by the spring, though it is too soon to know with certainty, he said.

Article by Joseph Walker for The Wall Street Journal

Source: Pfizer Says Booster Neutralized Omicron but Variant May Elude Two Doses (msn.com)

How to plant climbing roses

(Note: This article is from an English publication.

U.S. readers should avoid planting roses in winter).

If you love climbing roses, squeeze more of them into the garden by growing climbing varieties. Plant them now, and come summer, they will clad walls, archways, and pergolas with curtains of flowers that fill the air with scent. 

There is a wide variety of climbing roses to plant – here, we take you through which climbing roses to plant, where to plant them and how. Although the methods below don’t differ too much from planting roses that aren’t climbers, we do have expert advice about climbing varieties to impart.

Which climbing roses to plant?

If you are looking for rose garden ideas, take the time to choose the climbing rose that ticks all your boxes. The color of their blooms varies, of course, but so does the hue of their foliage, their height, health, flower shape, and their scent (some don’t smell at all). 

Many flower once in summer, while others bloom non-stop until the frosts. Some have single or semi-double flowers that give bees access to nectar; a few are thornless, making them ideal for archways; and a select handful will bloom on a north-facing wall.  

These climbing roses are some of the best climbing plants you can put into your backyard – and are from the world-famous David Austin nurseries.

‘New Dawn’ (pale-pink), ‘Sombreuil’ (cream), and ‘Climbing Étoile de Hollande’ (crimson-red) are all excellent scented climbers that reach around 15ft (4.5m). Shorter options that manage 10ft (3m) or less include Climbing Gertrude Jekyll and Strawberry Hill – two beautifully fragrant pink cultivars. 

If you prefer the more informal habit and flowers of rambling roses, Trevor White’s ‘Francis E. Lester’ is a fantastic choice. Having a profusion of pink and white single blooms that scent the air and feed bees, followed by orange autumn hips, it is hard to beat. 

When to plant climbing roses

For the best in English garden ideas, containerized climbing roses can be planted at any time of year, but for the healthiest plants, opt to buy ‘bare root’ between November and March. Bare root climbing roses are cheaper and create a more robust root system. They are sold without soil, direct from specialist rose nurseries or by mail order, during winter. Plant them on a day when the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged.   

Where to plant climbing roses

Amongst the best climbing plants with flowers, climbing roses like rich, well-drained, moist neutral to alkaline soil in full sun. To prevent disease, it’s best to choose a site that hasn’t recently had roses growing in it. 

How to plant climbing roses

Use these steps to plant climbing roses successfully.

1. Prepare climbing roses for planting

Soak the roots of your bare root rose in water for an hour. 

Prepare a hole that’s wider and deeper than the rose’s roots; loosen the ground beneath very well with a fork, and dig in well-rotted manure or organic compost. 

2. Feed the climbing rose’s roots

Sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi onto the roots while holding the rose over the hole. This will stimulate root growth, creating a more robust plant. 

3. Check the soil level

The graft (the bulbous join between the roots and the stems) should be 2in (5cm) below the surface.

Now backfill with soil. Then – to prevent air pockets – gently press down the soil with your foot. Finally, water in. 

How to care for climbing roses

Feed after pruning with rose fertilizer and give a liquid tomato feed fortnightly in summer at half the recommended dose. 

Mulch annually in March, by placing a layer of well-rotted manure or organic compost around the plant. 

Use companion planting: growing climbing roses with perennials, rather than cultivating them en masse with nothing but other roses, helps to reduce disease. Salvias (such as ‘Cerro Potosí’) are especially good as their sulphur content is thought to prevent rose sickness. 

Deadhead repeat-flowering climbing roses to stimulate more blooms. But don’t behead once-flowering roses that produce autumn hips. 

Prune roses, including climbers, in January or February, and prune rambling roses in autumn, after their show of hips has finished. Stay safe by using sturdy ladders and shoes with good grip, and never prune climbers when you are tired. 

Article by Hazel Sillver for Homes & Gardens

Source: How to plant climbing roses (msn.com)