What Is Kwanzaa?

All about KwanzaaDo you have any idea what Kwanzaa is?

I have always been interested in other cultures and traditions, which is one of the reasons  I studied humanities in college. I love to see what brings people joy, reverence, reflections, sorrow, nostalgia, and elation. December is a month that typically focuses on Christmas, and on Hanukkah to a smaller extent. But for years I’ve been hearing more references to Kwanzaa in pop culture than ever before, and I decided to do some research for an infographic about Kwanzaa.
All You Need To Know About Kwanzaa [infographic] Via: DegreeSearch.org
Kwanzaa (spelled Kwanza in African countries) is a non-religious holiday celebration of the harvest which runs from December 26th to January 1st. An estimated 18 million people worldwide and 5 million Americans (2.1% of U.S. adults) say they plan to celebrate Kwanzaa. It is a celebration of the harvest and African heritage. Customs include traditional music, dance, art and readings of prose or poetry with a focus on celebrating origins and ancestors.

One of the awesome parts of being a social media manager is leading the content strategies for our company blog. We use a lot of infographics to promote our blog and educate our readers. I wanted to find a topic that an infographic hadn’t been created for yet. It was fun to find out more about Kwanzaa, because most of what I knew about Kwanzaa was from this spoof video:

Do you celebrate Kwanzaa?

PS – A few people have asked me if Mormons celebrate Kwanzaa. As far as I know, very few do. It’s considered a secular holiday, and it honors traditions of African ancestry. Just as a Christian might make an observance of Passover, some Mormons observe Kwanzaa.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Thanksgiving…Tomorrow

Happy Thanksgiving

Tender Tennessee Christmas?

Since Taylor has been with his airline, he’s had relatively good luck with having holidays off. Sometimes he’ll miss an “eve” but make it for the “day,” or part of the accompanying weekend. For Thanksgiving, he had three days off. He flew in to ONT Wednesday morning at 4 am, and flew out of LAX Friday morning at 4 am. It is difficult to spend so much time commuting, especially because it typically involves pickups/dropoffs at early and strange hours. Since he’s been in MEM, he’s had much better luck jumpseating on FedEx than on Delta….and those flights are usually during the inconvenient hours.

Last week he got his December schedule, which made us happy and sad. Happy because he has 16 days off (for the first time since he was domiciled at DTW). Sad because he is scheduled on 4-day trips over both Christmas and New Years. He’ll be overnighting in Nashville Christmas Eve, and Knoxville New Years Eve. It doesn’t make sense for Rosie and I to fly out to be with him….he’s flying multiple legs December 24, 25, 31 and January 1. My first (sarcastic) thought was “Another tender Tennessee Christmas,” a song I love off of Amy Grant’s Christmas album. Amy makes it sound so idyllic…for Taylor it will mean nights alone in a Hampton Inn or Fairfield Inn.

Come on weatherman,give us a forecast snowy white.
Can’t you hear the prayers of every childlike heart tonight?
Rockies are calling, Denver snow falling,
Somebody said it’s four feet deep.
But it doesn’t matter, give me the laughter;
I’m gonna choose to keep

Another tender Tennessee Christmas,
The only Christmas for me.
Where the love circles around us like the gift around our tree.
Well I know there’s more snow up in Colorado
Than my roof will ever see,
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me.

Every now and then, I got a wanderin’ urge to see
Maybe California, maybe tinsel town’s for me.
There’s a parade there, we’d have it made there;
Bring home a tan for New Year’s Eve.
Sure sounds exciting, awfully inviting,
Still I think I’m gonna keep

Another tender Tennessee Christmas,
The only Christmas for me.
Where the love circles around us like the gift around our tree.
Well they say in L.A.it’s a warm holiday;
It’s the only place to be.
But a tender Tennessee Christmas is the only Christmas for me.
(Ohh, you know I wanna be home.)


Thanksgiving Dinner with my in-laws was lovely. Especially the stuffing. And the jello. And the mashed potatoes and gravy. And the spinach souffle. And the glazed yams and apples. And the turkey. And the sweet rolls. And the pumpkin pie.

And the best part? My skinny pants still fit the morning after!

Hope all of you had a great holiday with your families. Now….bring on Christmas!

CALoween 2009

There’s something really nice about celebrating Halloween in a place where it’s warm. All growing up, I remember Halloween night being bundled up in parkas or raincoats, covering up my costume….coming home with a bag of soggy candy. For the two years I lived in California, I decided that I preferred warm, sunny Halloweens. We went last year while living in Michigan, and had a great time trick-or-treating through La Verne. When Rosie had a day off school last Friday, I decided to get in a little family and friend time in California.I pulled Rosie out of school a little early on Wednesday. We drove up to SLC, parked our car, went through security, and made it to our gate just as the plane was boarding. We were assigned seats together, and the flight was just long enough to finish my Entertainment Weekly, drink my Coke Zero, and browse some of the Delta entrainment options. We arrived at LAX around 4:00 pm, and hoped to zoom up the 405 before traffic got too congested. Unfortunately, I went with a super-cheap car rental company, and it took almost 40 minutes for the shuttle to pick us up. At least we had a good view.I had a handful of problems with our rental car company. First, I’d rented an “intermediate” vehicle…and they wanted to give me a PT Cruiser (my least favorite car to rent, usually rated as an economy or compact) I knew I’d be doing a lot of driving over the weekend, and said I’d wait a few minutes to see if a car I liked better was turned in. A Toyota Matrix drove in, and I was happy with that car. About 35 minutes later, and after an argument over my method of payment (strange online reservation didn’t run my card correctly), I pulled out of the rental agency nearly 90 minutes after landing. By then, it was too trafficky to get on the freeway. We went to the Trader Joe’s on Sepulveda to pick up $14 of groceries to avoid eating out for most of the trip. Rosie got her California Rolls and mini merengue cookies, and I got my 4-cheese sourdough bread, Popchips, and Sweet Savory and Tart Trek Mix. We drove over to Dockweiller beach just as the sun was setting. We snapped a few pictures and ate some sushi at the beach.

When we got back in the car, the center console of the car had blown a fuse: no radio, clock, A/C power, etc. There was NO way I’d be able to handle a trip without a way to charge my phone on the road, let alone have no access to the radio. We went back into the rental car agency, explained the problems, and waited for them to figure out what to do with me. They said I could pay extra to get a nicer car…I said that was unacceptable. I talked to the manager, and he eventually let me WAIT for another Toyota Matrix to get vaccummed out and ready to rent. As soon as I got in the car and reached for the seatbelt, the plastic casing for the door frame snapped off! I went back to the rental agent, told him I was fine with the broken doorframe, but I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be charged for the damage. 3.5 hours after we landed at LAX, we were finally on the 405 up to Palmdale.

We stayed with my blogger friend Heather (aka Hizzeather). We’ve been friends online for a year, but only had met in person one other time at her wedding reception. It was so nice to finally have some quality bonding time with her. Between our blogs and Facebook, I feel like we know each other quite well…but it all comes together when you stay up till 2 am in your silly PJs, eating junk food, watching “The Office,” and gossiping about scandalous blogs.

In the morning, Heather’s husband Cody made us some delicious pumpkin pancakes. The we played some games on the Wii, and I have to admit it was nice to play games other than Wii Sports 🙂 Heather and Cody were preparing for their ward Halloween party, so Rosie and I left Palmdale in the early afternoon. We didn’t have anything planned until the evening at our former ward’s Halloween party, so we had some time to kill. I got some advisement from Cybele at Candy Blog for the best places in the San Gabriel Valley to get Japanese candy. First we went to Pasadena, where we picked up a couple things at Japanese-style combini Famina!. We continued down Colorado to Federico’s Bakery. I was introduced to their marzipan princess cake by my dear Lizzie, and no trip to Pasadena is complete without this slice of heaven. Next, we drove into San Gabriel to Mitsuwa Marketplace. I was pleased to find their sizeable assortment of Japanese candy at a reasonable price. I picked up several hard-to-find flavors of Hi-Chew, Ramune and Mango KitKats, gummies, Pocky, and fizzy candies. I look forward to reviewing these on my other blog, Nicole Rates It. We spent a little too much time candy shopping, because by the time we reached the freeway it was well into Friday traffic. It took about 75 minutes to get from Pasadena to La Verne. By the end of the drive, we were a little stir crazy.
We immediately raided my mother-in-law’s costume stash, and headed to the ward halloween party. Baked potato bar, costume contest, indoor trick-or-treating to the decorated classrooms, and catching up with old friends and ward members.

Pretty kitty and sinister villain ( Me and my brother-in-law Nathan)
Nathan the Villain and Sophisticated Dayna won 2nd and 1st places in the costume contest

I was so tired by the time the party was over, I could barely make it back to my in-law’s couch to sleep (I was running on about 3 hours sleep). In the morning, I met up with Liz for breakfast at Coco’s (sadly, no pictures). I had pumpkin pancakes again….delicious! I then ran a few errands, and then took Rosie and Nevaeh to meet up for tea in San Dimas with our friend Kevin.

After tea, we went back and prepared for the Halloween festivities. Neither Rosie nor Nevaeh were satisfied wearing the same costume trick-or-treating that they wore to the ward party. They dug up some bobby-soxer costumes and modeled them for some pics.

When Taylor’s sister Janelle made it to LV, we drove over to Lissy and Tyler’s to get the twins ready for trick or treating. Eleanor made some adorable witch costumes, that could only possibly have been cuter if they’d kept the witch hats on.

Sarah, Rosie, Phoebe, Nevaeh – the 4 cousins

We went trick-or-treating in some of the finer spots in Pomona, including the liquor store and the dollar store. Fearing for our safety, we collected candy in a residential neighborhood till the twins were exhausted. Afterward, we went back to have some homemade apples cider and sort through the candy treasures.

The last spot for festivities was in Burbank. I met up for dessert with my fellow Keaneheads Elizabeth and Kathryn. I had an assortment of fresh sorbets (lime, tangerine, blackberry) and the others ate decadent chocolate souffle. Rosie said it was the best dessert she’d ever had (and it should have been good….the price wasn’t on the menu and it ended up being $10!) They couldn’t stay long because they were off to a big mid-Singles party. We said our goodbyes and I drove to our amazingly cheap $27 3-star Priceline hotel.
With the daylight savings change, my alarm went off earlier than I’d expected. I was wide awake, and figured I’d just check out and get to the airport. We had planned on the 7:15 flight back to SLC, but made it on the 6:05 am flight just as they were closing the doors. We arrived back in SLC just in time to zoom down to Spanish Fork for church.

None Were With Him

A video and excerpt from one of the most beautiful talks from last week’s General Conference by Jeffrey R. Holland:

“Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christ’s lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. As we approach this holy week—Passover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tomb—may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,” for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Midweek Miscellany

Last night was the NKOTB concert in Greenville. I went with Rosie and my friend Mariesa. We stopped by Five Guys for dinner on the way there. We completely missed the opening act, but we’d never heard of the band either. When we walked in, they upgraded our seats from first row balcony to lower bowl. The show was similar to the one in Detroit (the opening set was different) and we had better seats. It was fun having an adult friend come with me…one who remembered the glory days of Jordan, Joe, Donnie, Danny and Jon. Rosie got her gigantic NKOTB button that she paid for with a gigantic handful of ones and change. She also decided that Donnie is her favorite New Kid…which I hope doesn’t mean she’ll go for the rappin’ bad boy types of boyfriends in the future. If you don’t want to wait for my picture mega-post, feel free to look at the album on Facebook.

Tonight Taylor and I had a bit of a tough emotional day. We made sure we had some alone time to eat some dinner at Chick-fil-a and walk around Target. I decided it’s no fun to go to Target when you feel guilty buying even a $5 DVD that you’ve been looking for for years. There’s some cute spring stuff right now that I just had to walk by without gazing at.

Tomorrow night is a big event for work. I’ll get to help set up, meet a lot of important people, eat good food, help clean up, and hopefully be out of the venue by 10 pm. It’s going to be LONG day.

I have been getting back to my musical roots this week…like the stuff I grew up listening to before I had my own specific music tastes. My dad was my biggest musical influence growing up, and this is what I’ve been reaquainting myself with: Beatles, Monkees, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Dave Clark Five, Wings and Crosby Stills and Nash.

Lately I’ve been getting LOTS of requests from marketing and promotional companies who want me to mention their products and services on my blog. I usually decline (I don’t get any compenation out of it) but occasionally one seems like a worthy enough cause to bring mention.

Today’s featured good cause is the Fresh Air Fund. Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities. Whether its a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of their camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities. They are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations to keep our vital programs flourishing. For any of you interested Mid-North Atlantic folks, you can host a Fresh Air Kid. All others who would like to donate, you can do so through this link.

Happy St Patricks Day!

This morning, my twitter message was :

Cuteculturechic feels pretty lucky today: I’ve got a job, got the gospel, got a great family and great friends. The rest is just icing on the cake!

This year’s St. Pat’s will be a lot different from last year in Boston. I’ll be working for the day (with my Irish coworker), then taking off an hour early to go to GREENville, SC to the New Kids on the Block concert with Rosie and Mariesa. It’s going to be a good day. I know it.

Best wishes to all for a happy day!

A Pilot Family version of the Christmas Card

from our family to yours! May the joy of the season bring you bountiful happiness, humorous company, good food, safe travels, much eggnog, joy and the spirit of the season!
The Bullock Family

What to pack?

Earlier this month, I posted about my intended gypsy lifestyle for the remainder of the month. I will be leaving Detroit today, and will not return until December 28/29, depending on flight loads. Above is a picture of (a new version of my) trusty silver suitcase. It has traveled with me for over 40,000 flight miles and 3,000 road miles with me this year. It’s a the Swissgear Zurich 20″ pilot case in metallic pewter from Target. Before I was the wife of an airline pilot, and traveled by air infrequently, I would buy the super-bargain luggage from department stores. For $69.99, you could get a 5-piece set in a myriad of colors. Perfect, right? It only took about 3 trips by air before the wheels and handle were shot. I decided that I would invest in a great carry-on bag, since checking luggage on a standby flight is a non-rev faux pas.

This morning I’m flying to Portland, OR. The typically temperate December weather that I remember as a child will not be the reality this weekend. Heavy rain and snow showers are predicted tonight. Salt Lake City weather will vary from the 20’s to the 4o’s. And I won’t be in California for 10 days, and the forecast out that far predicts average temperatures in the 60’s to 80’s. I have very limited space to pack for very different climates. For a girl who’s a mad travel junkie, here’s what I’m wearing and packing in my limited space:

On me:
Black half-zip sweater
Long sleeved tee
Black casual trousers
Two pairs of socks
Keen Ashland shoes (comfortable for walking long distances, but all-weather)
Parka, gloves, scarf and hat (which stuffed into a tote bag make a decent pillow)

In the laptop case:
Tucson, my trusty laptop
Meds, cold remedies, motrin, kleenex
3 magazines
Ipod and headphones
My quart-size zip-top bag with my less than 3 oz. toiletries
Snacks and gum

In the suitcase:
1 pair of jeans
1 sweater
4 short sleeve shirts
1 dressy shirt
2 shades, black and red
Underclothes and socks
1 dress, with hose and slip
1 pair dress shoes
Toiletry bag with dry makeup, floss, toothbrush, etc
Glasses in a case
Small Christmas gifts

During the summer, I’ll include my swimsuit and some capris. I’ve almost got this packing down to a science. Any other tips for packing in with limited space?