Browse Cookery Articles

Browse Culture Articles

Browse Community Articles

This is America Charlie Brown, The Mayflower Voyagers

This is America Charlie Brown, The Mayflower Voyagers
A new land, a new life. With help from that round-headed kid and others, the Pilgrims settle into their new homeland and celebrate the first Thanksgiving feast.  - This is America Charlie Brown, The Mayflower Voyagers

The video below is one you may wish to share with your kids, students, or family on Thanksgiving Day.  You may also wish to read "The True Story of Thanksgiving" or take turns with each family member reading a paragraph.  An appreciation for the history of the holiday is essential to being truly thankful.

The True Story of Thanksgiving

Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century (1600s) by men and women, who, in the face of persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe.  Puritans were English Protestants who wished to reform and purify the Church of England of what they considered to be unacceptable residues of Roman Catholicism. In the 1620s leaders of the English state and church grew increasingly unsympathetic to Puritan demands. They insisted that the Puritans conform to religious practices that they abhorred, removing their ministers from office and threatening them with "extirpation from the earth" if they did not fall in line. Zealous Puritan laymen received savage punishments. For example, in 1630 a man was sentenced to life imprisonment, had his property confiscated his nose slit, an ear cut off, and his forehead branded "S.S." (sower of sedition). 

Martyrdom of John Rogers:  The execution in 1555 of John Rogers (1500-1555) is portrayed in the 9th edition of the famous Protestant martyr logy, Fox's Book of Martyrs. Rogers was a Catholic priest who converted to Protestantism in the 1530s under the influence of William Tyndale and assisted in the publication of Tyndale's English translations of the Bible. Burned alive at Smithfield on February 4, 1555, Rogers became the "first Protestant martyr" executed by England's Catholic Queen Mary. He was charged with heresy, including denial of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of communion.

Beginning in 1630 as many as 20,000 Puritans immigrated to America from England to gain the liberty to worship God as they chose. Most settled in New England. Theologically, the Puritans were "non-separating Congregationalists." Unlike the Pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts in 1620, the Puritans believed that the Church of England was a true church, though in need of major reforms. The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious persecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered.  After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims.  On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England to Plymouth, America.

The Mayflower carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible.  The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. This was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford's detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims -- including Bradford's own wife -- died of either starvation, sickness, or exposure. 

When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, they did not yet prosper! The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well.  They were collectivists. Now, "Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives. 

He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. ... Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn't work.  What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation.  While most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years -- trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it -- the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment, “The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years...that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing -- as if they were wiser than God”.

For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and strop much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...that was thought injustice.  That was thought injustice.  The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford's community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?  'This had very good success,' wrote Bradford, "for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.”  In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. ... So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.

The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the 'Great Puritan Migration.'"  So the Pilgrims decided to thank God for all of their good fortune.  And that's Thanksgiving.

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:

Credit:  Library of Congress, Studio Melizo,,

What Affects 1 in 133 Americans?

What Affects 1 in 133  Americans?
Gluten:  Celiac Disease

Gluten:  1630s, "any sticky substance," from M.Fr. gluten (16c.) or directly from L. gluten "glue". Used 16c.-19c. for the part of animal tissue now called fibrin; used since 1803 of the nitrogenous part of the flour of wheat or other grain; hence glutamic acid (1871), a common amino acid, and its salt, glutamate.

Why should I care?  With 1 in 133 people having adverse and allergic reactions to gluten we don't want to cause harm or discomfort to others.  Those working in restaurants, schools, hosting parties, etc. may need too make individuals aware of ingredients.  Yes, in an age of overcautiousness this seems like one more thing.  Despite that fact it is always best to follow the Golden Rule.  If you or your children have celiac disease, the inability to absorb gluten, it is best to be proactive.  For helpful information about this disease and symptoms you can visit the Mayo Clinic

Celiac/Coeliac:  1660s, from L. coeliacus, from Gk. koiliakos "pertaining to the bowels," also "pain in the bowels," from koilia "bowels, abdominal cavity, intestines, tripe" from koilos "hollow," from PIE base *kel- (see cell).

Do you have a guest or customers with gluten challenges?  Do you have celiac disease or think you might?  Then consider using the following foods naturally free of gluten.

- fruits
- vegetables
- potatoes
- yams
- fresh squeezed juice
- most dairy, check labels 
- corn
- rice
- fish
- eggs
- beans
- nuts
- water
- teas, check labels

Look for foods specifically made without gluten, such as breads, tortillas, pretzels, etc.  You may visit the Celiac Disease Foundation for more information and tips.

Gourmet treats by Jesse Bluma @PointeViven

Order online or contact me for catering.

Join the Pointe Viven circle

Sign-up for email updates.

How About Better Parents? by Thomas Friedman

How About Better Parents?

As educator and speaker Stephen Covey promoted, first listen to understand.  We must manage our human habits to communicate and be good citizens.  The topic of education is riddled with emotional complexities, such as who is responsible for student learning.  Listening to, reading about, and discussing topics related to education is key to building strong communities and healthy learning environments. 


Thomas Friedman's article links student learning to parents.  All too often politicians, pundits, principals, and school boards get caught up in blaming teachers for the decline of the culture.  Some of them too afraid to look in the mirror or hold a mirror up to those that vote for them.
Not all scholars and political scientists may always agree with Friedman, yet he does have keen insight into education.  Learning does not take place in the vacuum of a classroom, it is in as good of shape as a society's current political system, civic virtues, families, businesses, entertainment, and mindset.
Perhaps long ago when our culture was different in many ways and more homogeneous we could have put most of the blame on too many inadequate teachers.  We have changed our culture and and allowed our culture to change in far too many ways for that to be true any more.  Below is an excerpt from his article.


How About Better Parents?

In recent years, we’ve been treated to reams of op-ed articles about how we need better teachers in our public schools and, if only the teachers’ unions would go away, our kids would score like Singapore’s on the big international tests.  There’s no question that a great teacher can make a huge difference in a student’s achievement, and we need to recruit, train and reward more such teachers. But here’s what some new studies are also showing: We need better parents. Parents more focused on their children’s education can also make a huge difference in a student’s achievement.

The study, called “Back to School: How parent involvement affects student achievement,” found something “somewhat surprising,” wrote Barth: “Parent involvement can take many forms, but only a few of them relate to higher student performance.  Of those that work, parental actions that support children’s learning at home are most likely to have an impact on academic achievement at school.

“Monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college.  These parent actions are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college,” Barth wrote.  “The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending P.T.A. and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights.”   There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction.  But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers.  We also need better parents.

For the full article:

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:


My Situation with The Situation

Las Vegas Tips
Pointe Viven - Jesse Bluma. All rights reserved.

1.  Prior to visiting search for coupons online for food, entertainment, and activities.

2.  Pack a few water bottles in your checked baggage (double seal in freezer bags), whether hot or cold it is important to stay hydrated with all the walking.

3.  Pack as light as you can to avoid airline charges.  I would recommend including clothing for extreme weather for hot and cold, desert temperatures drop at night even during the summer. 

4.  Leave your belt and coins in your carry on luggage.  This will avoid getting you in trouble with airport security.  Upon arrival you can simply put these on yourself.  

5.  Pack hand sanitizer and carry it with you through casinos, shops, and activities.  

6.  Pack disinfectant spray in your carry on luggage.  Yes, that's right.  The first thing I do when arriving at a hotel room is to disinfect all door handles, TV remotes, light switches, floors, bathrooms, etc.  I also make it a common practice at home and on trips to disinfect the bottoms of my shoes, especially before packing them back in my luggage.  

7.  While visiting the city take stairs instead of the escalators.  This will help keep you fit in a city full of gluttony.  

8.  Upon arrival get your luggage and head to ground transportation at the airport.  The quicker the better, you want to hop on a shuttle bus and start your fun sooner than later.  Purchase both your to hotel and from hotel shuttle ticket at the same time to save a bit of money.  One way tickets are more expensive.  

9.  This is Sin City, that does not mean you need to gamble or pig out.  There is plenty to do besides gamle.  Eating a healthy selection of food and drink is necessary to keep your energy up.  

10.  Remember your cell phone etiquette.  Step to the side away from others to talk on the phone.  Talking on the phone in restaurants, on shuttles, or while gambling is rude and opens you up to identity theft and other crimes.  

11.  Save your energy and avoid higher risk of skin cancer.  Wear sunscreen at the pool and while walking.  Doing indoor activities from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. is a great way to do this too.  

12.  You don't have to bring your Midwest, down South politeness.  This is a big city and you need to use your common sense, be proactive with your safety, and be assertive.  Don't stop to chat with the card flickers, costumed characters, or promoters on the sidewalks.  Always walk with someone or make it look like you are walking with someone.  Walk with confidence, no wallet or purse visible.  Carry your wallet in your front pocket.  

13.  I didn't think I would ever have to say this to anyone.  Don't buy french fries for your children at the airport, spread them on the airport carpet, then have them eat them off the floor.  Disgusting, yet true.  I saw this and could not believe it.  

Paris Las Vegas Hotel
You may be surprised to learn that many of the casinos and hotels in Las Vegas are owned by Caesars Entertainment Corporation.  This includes Paris.  After staying at several hotels in Vegas I would say Paris has one of the best locations, walking distance or short taxi ride to many other casinos, shops, clubs, and restaurants.  

When making your reservation ask for a pool view.

Don't worry about booking your return flight for a time right after your check out time.  Take your luggage to the Paris luggage bellmen.  They will hold onto it while you extend your fun and relaxation, please remember to tip.    

Paris to the right

Paris casino

Paris pool with Cosmopolitan on the right

JJ's Boulangerie at Paris
This is an excellent eatery for a slice of pizza late at night.  There are many other food and drink options.  One special tip is to purchase your coffe at JJ's.  Save the cup and you can get free refills during your stay.

JJ's Boulangerie (Paris) on Urbanspoon

JJ's Boulangerie 

Sugar Factory at Paris
If you enjoy candy, an array of desserts, and a good drink then this is the place for you.  I happened to be there when reality TV star Mike Sorrentino made an appearance (AKA The Situation).  The crowd was energized with anticipation, unfortunately many kids and teens were there with their parents.  We wonder why our society has issues?  OK, that's for another discussion.  

Sugar Factory crepe

The Cosmopolitan
If you are looking for a jewel in the desert, then this is your spot.  Clubs, DJs in the casino, and a young crowd all keep The Cosmopolitan pumping.  It is more expensive, so you can still take advantage of the clubs, casino, restaurants, and shops at Cosmo if you stay at another hotel.  If you are looking for that L.A./N.Y. vibe then this is your spot.    

Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood
Named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, the inventor of the sandwich.  I really enjoyed the Veggie sandwich made with Feta, Lettuce, Roma Tomatoes, Cucumber, Red Onion, Roasted Red Peppers & Mediterranean Dressing.  The Chicken Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken was also excellent, Field Greens & Romaine, Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Croutons & Classic Caesar Dressing.  The Earl of Sandwich has a good selection of other sandwiches, salads, wraps, and breakfast foods.   

Earl of Sandwich (Planet Hollywood) on Urbanspoon

MGM Grand
This hotel and casino may not be the most recent shiny object in Vegas, it does have some good advantages.  The MGM is not centrally located like Paris; however, it does offer many shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.  The Lion Habitat is one attraction to see during the day.  One tip is to stand under the Plexiglas ceiling of the entrance to the Lion Habitat shop.  You can get an awesome view of lions.  

Nathan's Famous at the MGM
If you look for those coupons online before your trip you will probably find a coupon for a free hot dog at Nathan's.  Nathan's originated in Coney Island, New York and has multiplied across the country.  If you avoid eating frankfurters as a regular meal option, this may be your one time to splurge.   These may not be the best dog you will ever eat, yet they are better than a lot of others and it is a good savings.  

Nathan's on Urbanspoon

New York New York
One eatery I would avoid is at New York New York.  You may come across a coupon for New York Pretzel.  Pass on it.  The cinnamon sugar pretzel I ordered did not taste well cooked and did not have a good flavor.

New York Pretzel Co. on Urbanspoon

Guess who was on my return flight home? 

Bai Ling, actress and tabloid headliner 

Jesse Bluma Los Angeles restaurants

All I Want for Christmas...

All I Want for Christmas...BMW 3 Series

Purchasing an automobile is a challenge.  The many brands, designs, and options can be overwhelming.  Here is where my expert knowledge and trusted expertise comes in handy.  Many readers rely on Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven as a source for how-to and where-to regarding product reviews.

Often consumers think a BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works) is out of their price range, and maybe it is for some.  A little comparison shopping and you will probably find yourself nicely surprised.  You might find that you can get the BMW rather than another brand.  The service package is an excellent option, as dealers know how to work on Bimmers (slang pronunciation for BMW).  Most often the customer service is excellent and who can resist free coffee and pastries?  A benefit of purchasing a BMW from a dealer is the option to stop into or call any BMW dealership with any car questions or travel predicaments. 

BMW 3 Series 

- Handling
- Engine power 
- Good fuel-efficiency
- Higher end interior 
- A menu of options and styles 
- Safety
- Comfort
- Designed for drivers of shorter and taller stature 
- Fun to drive

- The 3 Series may not suit a large family
- The horn is a bit far from the circumference of the steering wheel
- Some drivers may prefer the cup holder to be between the front seats, rather than in the dashboard

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:

ADOPT A HERO: Operation Merry Christmas


The Adopt a Hero Program is a dynamic hub that connects people with members of the U.S. military.  The organization has an online form to connect adopters with service personnel. Their website also has a form for military members to sign up to be adopted.  

After Adopt a Hero makes the connection you can simply send items needed such as food, clothing, books, and games.  Below is a photo of one of the care packages I sent to my adoptee.  I sent along some clothes for the colder weather, some sweet treats, and a thumb drive so my adoptee can save his photos and files. 

U.S.  Military Shipping Reminders

1.  Ensure correct recipient address:  The Department of Defense established a mail system of "states" outside the country for those in the military to receive mail via the U.S.  Each of these has a zipcode.
You will also need the correct PSC (Postal Service Center), CMR (Community Mail Room), UMR (Unit Mail Room), RPO (Regional Post Office), APO (Army Post Office) or OMDC (Official Mail Distribution Center) number.  

2.  Pre-weigh the package to ensure it is under 70 pounds.

3.  Check item restrictions:  Military members in some locations, such as those ruled by Islamic law forbid certain items.  Additionally, aerosal cans, tobacco, fresh fruit, vegetables, and plants are not permitted.  Battery-powered items must have the batteries removed.  

4.  Use postal approved boxes, these can easily be purchased at mail centers, office supply stores, and some craft stores.  

5.  Neatly package items.  This is where saving paper and bubble wrap from items you receive comes in handy.  Shipping paper, bubble wrap, and poly-fil help to keep items from shifting and protect the contents.  Do not use duct tape, this is prohibited.  Duct tape often melts and/or does not hold well in transport.  It is best to purchase clear mailing tape to secure all edges and folds of boxes.  

6.  A customs form must be filled out at the post office or mail center.  Remember to have a pen handy to complete the form, the complete mailing address, your address, a list of the items in the package, and an estimated or exact value of the items in the package.  The U.S. Post Office is usually good at making sure you complete the form, so the package makes it to the recipient.  Private mail centers, such as AIM, may not remember.  Make sure in either case you get the form.  I prefer AIM to the post office, my local post offices are not as friendly or helpful.   

Ryan Rust, National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing hopeful, is the founder of Adopt a Hero.

You may also wish to join in and support Operation Merry Christmas.  This is an effort by America 4R Marines to send 5550 Christmas stockings.  You can check out more about this opportunity by following the link below.  

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:


My Talk with The Kitchen Cousins by Jesse Bluma

My Talk with the Kitchen Cousins 

Do these guys look familiar?  You may have seen them on their HGTV show called Kitchen Cousins  (John Colaneri, left, Anthony Carrino, right).  Real life cousins Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri operate Brunelleschi Construction based in New Jersey, USA.  Their designs are often inspired by their roots in Florence, Italy.  Anthony and  John also enjoy preserving buildings with history, one of their projects was to preserve a firehouse.  

I recently got an opportunity to chat with the two about their Thanksgiving plans.  This TV duo comes from an Italian family and it sounds like they are not picky eaters.  The cousins told me "We eat anything".  

Some of their work:

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:


Small Business Saturday® - Join the Day

Small Business Saturday® - Join the Day

Small Business Saturday® is
a day dedicated to supporting small businesses
on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

We’re asking millions of Americans to Shop Small at their favorite local stores and help fuel the economy. When we all shop small, it will be huge.

Join us and support small business!

First there was Black Friday, then Cyber Monday. November 27, 2010 was the first ever Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is the day we celebrate the Shop Small movement to drive shoppers to local merchants across the U.S.

More than 200 organizations have already joined American Express OPEN, the company’s small business unit, in declaring the Saturday after Thanksgiving as Small Business Saturday.

For more info:

Thank you for your business.

Please visit my shop and connect with Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven through social media.

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:


County to grab $73 million from schools, force state to make up for it

County to grab $73 million from schools, force state to make up for it
Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven. All rights reserved.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul?  If anyone is thinking the economy, budget, and spending is getting better they may have to rethink.  Any dynamic suggestions for our state of the state please post below.

· posted by Kimberly Edds, Staff Writer

In a bold move to make up for $49.5 million in tax revenues lost to the state earlier this year the County of Orange will grab $73.5 million in property taxes once destined for local school districts, County Supervisors Chairman Bill Campbell said Monday.

Campbell said that state coffers, not the school districts, will suffer, because a state law mandates that it backfill the reduction in local revenue.

County employees who were scheduled to be laid off December 1 as a result of the county’s $49.5 million shortfall received an unexpected reprieve.

Prop. 98, which locks in a number of school funding formulas, requires the state to backfill the funding cut, said Campbell, who is board chairman.
“We believe the school districts will not be harmed by this action,” Campbell said.
Sundstrom will issue his annual estimates of tax allocations to local jurisdictions today, and they will include $73.5 million less for the county’s school districts.

“Orange County taxpayers are going to be able to keep taxpayer money in the county to be spent on the county services they deserve to have,” Campbell said.
Orange County’s tactics are expected to find few fans in Sacramento, which is facing its own mid-year cuts to schools and other services.

“The county’s intended decision to withhold money owed to schools is not only misguided, but likely illegal,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance. “We are considering all of our legal options in the event that the county attempts to carry out this action.

“I sympathize with the County, and understand why it’s taking such aggressive action,” said Assemblyman Jose Solorio, who unsuccessfully tried to reverse the state’s money grab in September. “But we really need to find a fair solution in Sacramento that works for the County, local schools and the state on an annual basis.”

Join the Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven circle:


Shop Jesse Bluma at Pointe Viven