Spring is here!

Yesterday marked the first day of Spring, a season of fresh flowers and clean homes.

Yesterday marked the first day of Spring, which means the first day of blooming flowers, pastel colors, and of course, the daunting task of Spring cleaning. Although cleaning your home from top to bottom, corner to corner isn’t an ideal way to spend any Saturday, starting the season off with a clean, organized home can be very refreshing. The key, however, is to enlist others to help. After all, the more hands, the better.

Courtesy of www.womansday.com, here are some things you and your family can do to get your home spic-and-span and ready for Spring:

Bathroom

-Spray tub, shower, and sink with cleansers and let them sit.

-Wash cloth shower curtains – or wipe down plastic shower curtains – and replace shower curtain liners.

-Dust doors, doorframes, shelves, and cupboards.

-Shake out and wash rugs.

-Wipe down mirrors, countertops, toilet, tub, shower and sink.

-Sweep and mop floor.

Bedroom

-Pick up clothes and tidy up dressers and table tops.

-Flip and rotate mattresses, then change bed linens and fluff pillows.

-Wash curtains and wipe down blinds.

-Dust doors, doorframes, shelves, window sills, and furniture.

-Vacuum upholstery, lamp shades, rugs, carpet, and floor under and behind the bed.

-Sweep and mop floor.

Closets

-Organize items such as clothing and linen into categories (i.e. “work clothes” and “sheet sets”).

-Donate old clothing and toys and discard broken toys.

-Purchase storage containers and label accordingly.

Living Room

-Dust doors, doorframes, items on the mantel, TV and electronics, and coffee/end tables.

-Vacuum corners, window sills, upholstery, lamp shades, and rugs/carpet.

-Wipe down windows, TV screen, and glass surfaces.

-Organize video games, DVDs, books, etc. Decide which one to donate or throw out.

-Sweep and mop floor.

Kitchen

-Dust doors, doorframes, cabinets, shelves, chairs and stools, window sills, lighting fixtures, and house plants.

-Vacuum vents and refrigerator coils.

-Wash dishes, stove top, toaster oven, microwave, garbage can, and windows.

-Defrost freezer, throw away unwanted leftovers, clean inside of freezer and refrigerator with baking soda solution, throw away expired products, group together like products, and wipe down outside of the refrigerator.

-Let cleaning products sit in the sink, and then wash and rinse.

-Remove all canned goods and spices from cabinets and pantry and wipe down. Toss expired items and replace lining if necessary.

-Separate junk from useful items in drawers, throw out unused recipes, store clipped recipes in a box or binder.

-Sweep and mop floor.

How to Make Your Own All-Purpose Cleaner

This non-toxic all-purpose cleaner can be used to clean, disinfect, and deodorize a variety of surfaces including stovetops, appliances, and countertops.

All you need is 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, and a spray bottle.

Mix vinegar and water in spray bottle and use as needed.

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Ye Olde St. Patrick

St. Patrick's Day honors a man that preached tirelessly throughout Ireland.

Before you go around pinching those not wearing green, maybe you should read up on St. Patrick and the history behind this green holiday!

St. Patrick was a Christian missionary, bishop, and apostle of Ireland, and ironically enough, was born in Great Britain. At the age of 16, Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders. For the next six years, he worked as a herder in Ireland, turning to a deepening religious faith for comfort. Following the counsel of a voice he heard in a dream one night, Patrick escaped and found passage on a ship to Britain, where he was eventually reunited with his family and began training to become a priest. Once his training was complete, he returned to Ireland to minister to Christians already living there and to convert the Irish.

Patrick passed away on March 17, 461 following 40 years of living in poverty, teaching, traveling, and working tirelessly. He was soon declared the patron saint of Ireland.

Legend has it that St. Patrick baptized hundreds of people on a single day and used three-leafed clovers (more commonly known as the shamrock) to explain the Holy Trinity to the locals. Another popular legend states that St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop with only a wooden staff by his side and banished all snakes from Ireland. The island nation was never in fact home to any snakes, so it’s come to pass that the “banishing of the snakes” was really a metaphor for the pagan ways St. Patrick drove out of Ireland.

Celebrating St. Patrick and his life has become a world-wide holiday, especially in America. Enjoying meals of corned beef and cabbage didn’t actually originate in Ireland, but rather in America. Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick’s Day at the turn of the century. Irish immigrants living on New York City’s Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money, a cheaper alternative learned from their Jewish neighbors.

Cheerful, friendly leprechauns are also an American invention, as leprechauns were cranky souls responsible for mending the shoes of other fairies in Celtic folktales. They were also known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade even took place in America, when Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City in 1762. Today, more than 100 parades are held across the U.S. on St. Patrick’s Day.

The shamrock and Irish music, however, are deep-rooted in Irish history and tradition. At first, the shamrock symbolized the rebirth of Spring, but by the 17th century, the shamrock became a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, the Celts began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride and heritage. Similarly, the Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to another by way of stories and song. After being conquered by the English, the oppressed people of Ireland turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history.

And why so much green? Simply because the shamrock is green and because Ireland is beautifully covered in green.

There’s so much more that can be said about St. Patrick and this holiday, but the important thing to walk away with is to know that this man is worth celebrating!

Something Green is Brewing!

Green beer is the beverage of choice on St. Patrick's Day!

If you’re looking for reasons to get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, here’s one: GREEN BEER!

The following are places in Long Beach that will be serving the green goods:

Alex’s Bar – 2913 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 434-8292

The Auld Dubliner – 71 S. Pine Ave. – (562) 437-8300

The Beach Club Sports Bar & Grill – 5755 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 494-7593

Belmont Brewing – 25 39th Pl. – (562) 433-3891

Brien O’Connors – 4130 Paramount Blvd. – (562) 627-8999

The Brit – 1744 E. Broadway – (562) 432-9742

Clancy’s – 803 E. Broadway – (562) 437-1836

Congregation Ale House – 201 E. Broadway – (562) 432-2337

33 Degrees Harborside Pub – 423A Shoreline Village Dr. – (562) 437-3734

Dipiazza’s – 5205 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 498-2461

El Dorado Restaurant – 3014 N. Studebaker Rd. – (562) 421-2122

EJ Malloy’s – 3411 E. Braodway – (562) 433-3769

The Falcon – 1435 E. Broadway – (562) 432-4146

Gallagher’s Pub and Grill – 2751 E. Broadway – (562) 856-8000

The Gaslamp – 6251 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 596-4718

House of Hayden – 421 E. First St. – (562) 435-5699

Hotel Maya – 700 Queensway Dr. – (562) 435-7676

Iguana Kelley’s – 4306 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 434-0447

Joe Jost’s – 2803 E. Anaheim – (562) 439-5446

K.C. Branaghan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant – 5734 E. 2nd St. – (562) 434-3600

Kelly’s Restaurant – 5716 E. 2nd St. – (562) 433-4983

Legend’s – 5236 E. 2nd St. – (562) 433-5743

Liquid Lounge – 3522 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 494-7564

Michael’s on Naples – 5620 E. 2nd St. – (562) 439-7080

Murphy’s Pub – 4918 E. 2nd St. – (562) 433-6338

O’Connell’s – 2746 E. 4th St. – (562) 433-5068

PB’s Pub and Co. – 464 W. Willow St. – (562) 427-9646

The Pike Bar and Fish Grill – 1836 E. 4th St. – (562) 437-4453

Quinn’s Irish Pub and Grill – 200 Nieto Ave. – (562) 434-2606

Riley’s Pub and Grill – 4133 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 494-4300

The Rhythm Lounge – 245 Pine Ave. – (562) 435-4288

Roxanne’s Lounge – 1115 E. Wardlow Rd. – (562) 426-4777

Shannon’s Bayshore – 5335 E. 2nd St. – (562) 433-5901

Shannon’s on Pine – 209 Pine Ave. – (562) 436-4363

Shillelagh – 2742 E. 4th St. – (562) 916-3288

49’rs Tavern – 5660 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 597-1970

Tantalum – 6272 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 431-1414

Tracy’s Bar and Grill – 5511 E. Spring St. – (562) 421-1726

Thirsty Isle – 4317 E. Carson St. – (562) 421-3571

Thirty Six Thirty Six – 3636 E. Broadway – (562) 438-5365

V Room – 918 4th St. – (562) 437-4396

Have a great time enjoying some green brew, and as always, remember to drink responsibly!

Feed Me, I’m Irish!

Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish often served on St. Patrick's Day.

Regardless of your true ethnicity, everyone always seems to be Irish when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day. Sure, most of us are familiar with the tradition of wearing green on March 17 and have at one time or another purchased a cheesy shirt or obnoxious button saying “Kiss Me, I’m Irish.”

But the day’s traditions go much deeper than that. In preparation for this Thursday, here are some traditional Irish recipes that will give your St. Patrick’s Day some flavor:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Ingredients

3 lbs. corned beef brisket with spice packet

10 small red potatoes

5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3-in. pieces

1 large head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Directions

1. Place corned beef in large pot or Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the spice packet that came with the corned beef. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer approximately 50 minutes per pound or until tender.

2. Add whole potatoes and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are almost tender. Add cabbage and cook for 15 more minutes. Remove meat and let rest 15 minutes.

3. Place vegetables in a bowl and cover. Add as much broth (cooking liquid reserved in the Dutch oven or large pot) as you want. Slice meat across the grain.

Black and White Irish Cream Cupcakes

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter

4 egg whites

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 Tbs. Irish cream liqueur

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 cups buttermilk or sour milk

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 recipe Irish Cream Ganache

1 recipe Irish Cream Icing

Coffee beans, chopped (optional)

Directions

1. Allow butter and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and flour twenty-eight 2 1/2-in. muffin cups (or line with paper bake cups). In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, liqueur, and vanilla. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

3. Transfer 2 1/2 cups batter (about half) to a medium bowl; stir in melted chocolate. Fill each prepared muffin cup about two-thirds full, spooning chocolate batter into one side of cup and white batter into the other side of cup.

4. Bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on racks.

5. Spread Irish Cream Ganache onto tops of cupcakes. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour (or chill in the refrigerator about 15 minutes) or until ganache is set. Spoon Irish Cream Icing onto centers of cupcakes. If desired, sprinkle with coffee beans. Let stand until icing sets. Makes 28 cupcakes.

Irish Cream Ganache

In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup whipping cream just to boiling over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Add 6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (do not stir). Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 Tbs. Irish Cream liqueur until smooth. Cool about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Makes about 1 cup.

Irish Cream Icing

In a small bowl stir together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. Irish Cream liqueur, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Makes about 1/2 cup.

We hope this hearty meal is your pot of gold this St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy!

A New Season

Ash Wednesday signifies faith, humility, and mourning, and marks the beginning of the Lent season.

While we don’t promote any particular religion and as we take a neutral, respectful attitude towards the topic, we can’t help but recognize today as being one of the biggest Christian observances.

Ash Wednesday is the day that kicks off the season of Lent, a 40-day period of prayer, repentance, and self-denial. Christians of different denominations – most commonly that of the Catholic denomination – visit their church and are marked with ashes in the sign of a cross. The ashes symbolize faith, humility, and mourning and regret for the sins they have committed. In response, Christians spend the next 40 days (Lent) as a public penance, as that is what was done by those who committed serious sins in the early days of Christianity.

Beginning on Ash Wednesday (March 9) and ending on Easter Sunday (April 24), Lent is a season of celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent also symbolizes the time in the Bible where Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights before the beginning of his ministry. It was during this time that he also endured temptation from Satan.

Although different denominations celebrate and count the days of Lent differently, the most common way of counting the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday is counting Monday through Saturday, leaving out Sunday as a day for feasting and celebration.

The idea of “self-denial” during this season means different things for different people. For example, some fast (meaning no food or drink with the exception of water) from sunrise to sunset for all 40 days, while some may give up a certain food item or practice for the season. Some of us here at Ernst & Haas are giving up sweets, soda, fast food, coffee, and more. There are a few of us that will be giving up lifestyle practices such as watching television, listening to music, and spending money.

And while some of us aren’t religious at all, the idea of Lent is a healthy way to put our lives in perspective, regardless of our beliefs. We hope that you would join us in an effort to sacrifice something for the cause of self-reflection and self-improvement.