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Happy New Year!  Want to have a healthy, wealthy and happy year?  Start by dining on black-eyed peas.

At exactly midnight, like millions around the world,  we brought in the new year with a kiss and a champagne toast.  The other New Year’s Day tradition we followed was one that filled our spirits and stomachs with good luck.  We hosted our traditional New Year’s Day dinner. It was a satiating feast of  black-eyed peas, cabbage, cornbread and, instead of the traditional chitlins, ham or hog jowl or fatback, we served baked salmon.

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Black-eyed peas and cornbread with greens—collards, cabbage, mustard greens or a green salad—are a longtime tradition embraced by many in the United States from the South. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been a part of the Southern tradition for more than 200 years and considered good luck for at least 1,500 years.

The tradition may have traveled to America with the Sephardic Jews around the 1730s when they settled in Georgia. It was a tradition to eat black-eyed peas in celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Initially black-eyed peas were used as food for livestock, therefore, the crop was ignored by General Sherman’s troops during the Civil War and became a major source of food for surviving Confederate soldiers.

Why is the meal considered good luck?  The foods symbolize money and prosperity throughout the year. Black-eyed peas are associated with coins or pennies. Greens, the color of money, represent paper dollars. Cornbread symbolizes  gold. Black-eyed peas eaten with tomatoes represent wealth and good health.

There are several other traditions associated with the good luck meal. Adding a shiny penny or dime to the pot just before serving is one. When served, the person whose bowl contains the penny or dime receives the best luck for the New Year. If the person swallows the coin, naturally it’s an unlucky start.

Many believe you must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to have prosperity throughout the year. Happy eating and happy New Year!

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Lupita Nyong wears Calvin Klein made of 6,000 pearls.

Lupita Nyong’o wears Calvin Klein made of 6,000 pearls.

When you’re invited to a stylish event, you need a stylish look. What to wear? From time to time, you just have to wear a gown to a gala.  Need inspiration?  Turn to the doyennes of divine gowns–the women who walked the red carpet during this year’s Oscars. Take a look.  You should get a few fashion-forward, head turning ideas of what to wear to your next gala.

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Oprah in Vera Wang

Reese Weatherspoon wearing Tom Ford

Reese Witherspoon wearing Tom Ford

Julianne Moore wears  Chanel

Julianne Moore wears Chanel

Jennifer Hudson wearing Romona Keveza

Jennifer Hudson wearing Romona Keveza

America Ferrera in Jenny Packman

America Ferrera in Jenny Packman

Kerry Washington wearing Miu Miu

Kerry Washington wearing Miu Miu

Cate Blanchett in Maison Marginal by John Galliano

Cate Blanchett in Maison Marginal by John Galliano

Zoe Saldana wearing Versace

Zoe Saldana wearing Versace

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab

Lady Gaga wears Alaia

Lady Gaga wears Alaia

Tonight is the big night.  It’s time for Hollywood’s most prestigious and talked about event.  It’s Oscars time.

The red carpet is down. Ropes and stanchions are in place. The media is set.  Fans are seated.  Rain is falling.  But on this evening, nothing is going to dampen the spirits of the bevy of star-studded celebrities being honored.  Before Neil Patrick Harris takes center stage as host of the 87th Oscars on ABC live starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT, let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on—right now!

We reached out to one of Hollywood’s premiere producers, the founder of FGW Productions, Stephanie Frederic.  Here are a few of her exclusive photos she shared with us from her prized position on the red carpet.

Stephanie Frederic

Stephanie Frederic and Oscar

Stephanie Frederic and team (left to right) Yvonne Jimenez, Cyndie Wade, Stephanie and Gilbert Rios

Stephanie Frederic and team (left to right) Yvonne Jimenez, Cyndie Wade, Stephanie and Gilbert Rios

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Live from the Red Carpet

Fans Wait

The Fans.  Ready!

Set

Set!

Media Set...

Media Set…

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Extra Reports

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Media Preps….

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Oscar Takes Its Place….

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep

Terrence Howard star of "Empire" on FOX TV

Terrence Howard star of “Empire” on FOX TV

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wil.i.am

Go!

Go!

People put a lot into creating awe-inspiring events. Months, weeks, days and hours are needed to plan the perfect affair that grabs attention and impresses. Much is involved: creating amble ambiance, selecting the site, developing the guest list with the right mix of personalities and interests, booking the entertainment and planning the menu. Why the effort? To imbue guests with memorable experiences that linger with them long after the event ends.

Nature is notorious for creating big events effortlessly, compared to people. Yet the results are the same.  Most nature events are stunning. Like any events, some leave bad impressions. They include the destruction left behind after a hurricane, typhoon, and tornado; or the parched landscape created by draughts. Many leave breathtaking impressions:  a rising sun peaking through glistening, dew-filled trees; a sunset filling the horizon; or a rainbow stretching across the sky.

Nature’s masterpiece event is fresh snow falling quietly on a landscape or cityscape.  For a moment, life comes to a full-stop. We watch. We are entertained. We experience something special. Then the snow stops. The event ends. Impressions abound.  Memories last.  What an awesome experience!

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Winter.  This year, a mean polar vortex has left a trail of record-low temperatures across the United States.  It’s lethally cold outside.  Inside, something hot is needed.  Try a beautiful, body warming drink with lineage—hot chocolate.

More than a child’s drink, hot chocolate is a steamy drink with a heavy history dating back more than 3,000 years.  It started when the Olmec of Mexico first cultivated the cacao plant, then created a paste and mixed it with water.  Xocolātl was what the early chocolate drink was called.

From the Olmecs to the Maya civilization to the Aztecs, hot chocolate made its way to Spain where it spread throughout Europe and the world.

According to History.com, “Thomas Jefferson was so impressed with the drink that he wrote to John Adams in 1785 saying, ‘The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the preference over tea and coffee in America…'”

For your next event, whether a party for plenty or an intimate dinner for two, add a little hotness to the menu.  Hot chocolate tastes good with designer good looks.

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Photo: Smores Hot Cocoa from minimalistbaker.com

PearTwist

Already.  Christmas has come and gone.  Soon those decorated trees will disappear.  Let’s take a last look at the trees that decorated our homes, offices, and open spaces all over the place. Until next year…

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The National Tree Washington, D.C.

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Rockefeller Center Tree New York City

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National Harbor Tree Maryland

Book Tree

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Our Home Tree

Menorah

It began at sunset yesterday, December 16.  Jewish communities around the world joined in celebrating Hanukkah.  Also known as the “Festival of Lights,” during the eight-day celebration families gather to light the menorah, enjoy holiday foods, recite prayers, play games and exchange gifts.  While Jewish holidays don’t have associated colors, blue and white (often silver) are common to Hanukkah.  Some say because those are the colors of the Israeli flag.

Like many celebrations, Hanukkah has many traditional elements.  At the heart of the holiday is the nightly lighting of the menorah, a candelabra that holds nine candles.  Foods include latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganyot (jelly doughnuts), both fried in oil.  Singing songs around the menorah and playing with dreidels are part of the family fun. Chocolate candy money, known as gelt, is given to children. That stems from the long-ago tradition of handing out gifts of gelt, the Yiddish word for money.

Happy Hanukkah!

Conferences and conventions are megawatt events.  How do they happen?

Bēhance, an online platform showcasing creative works by individuals and companies, holds its annual 99% Conference from May 3 – 4 in New York City.  Based on the Thomas Edison quote, “genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration,” the conference is a source of creative best practices inspiring participants to turn their ideas into actions.

Our Pear Twist team figured you might be interested in seeing how a creative operation puts together a conference.  On the eve of opening day, Bēhance gives us a visual glimpse of their prep work.  And we’re sharing it with you in case you missed it on their blog.

Here’s how creatives do conferences:  Behind the Scenes – Preparing for 99% Conference! | Behance Team Blog.

Washington, D.C.’s annual “nerd prom” or the Oscars of politics, took place last night in the city.  President Obama and the First Lady joined ABC late-night talk show comic Jimmy Kimmel and 2,000 others for the 98th Annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner held at the Washington Hilton.  The President and Jimmy Kimmel delivered funny, edgy jokes to a packed room of senior Administration officials, members of the media, Washington newsmakers, politicos from across the country and Hollywood celebrities.

Everyone showed up as invited guests by the media outlets hosting the 200 tables.  Newt Gingrich, George Clooney, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Rev. Al Sharpton, Kim Kardashian, Mary J. Blige, New Jersey Governor Chris Cristie, Barbara Walters, Anne Curry, John Legend, actor Kerry Washington, and cast members from the television shows Modern Family and Glee were a few of the many who attended Washington’s night of comic relief.

What was served besides jokes?  Here’s the menu:

Salad: Black Lentil Terrine with lump Crabmeat, Tango Green and Red Artisan Greens, Red and Yellow Tear Drop Tomatoes — drizzled with a Dill Vinaigrette

Bread Presentation: Seven-Grain Rolls, White and Wheat Rolls; Sourdough Rolls, Flatbreads and butter

Entrée: Texas Rubbed Petite Filet with a Calvados Demi, paired with Duo of Jumbo Shrimp seasoned with Red Curry; Roasted Haricot Verts, Baby Pepper, Patty Pan Squash; Tasso Mache Choux Risotto

Dessert: The Galaxy — Rich Chocolate Truffle Mousse layered with Chocolate Genoise and Almond Macaroon, Ganache Truffle Center finished in a chocolate glaze, garnished with fresh raspberries

Freshly brewed regular and decaf coffee; variety of regular and herbal teas

Wines: Estancia Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon

After dinner, everyone dashed off to one of the several hot after parties.WHCA’s black tie fundraiser supports scholarships for aspiring journalists and presents awards to correspondents for excellence in the profession.  See who and what the celebs wore here.