Valentine’s day and chocolate have coincided for dozens of years. But how did chocolate make the journey to how we know it today? The sweet treat is said to have originated somewhere in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago, when the cultivation, use, and cultural embrace of cocoa started in Mesoamerica. From there it moved north to both Mayan and Aztec cultures where many historians have determined that cocoa was used primarily in drinks.
Explorer Hernan Cortes brought cocoa beans back to the old world where he presented them to Spanish King Charles V. Chocolate then traveled from Spain to France, England, Germany, Italy, before appearing in the United States sometime around 1755. Through these travels, the word “chocolate” has influenced language across the globe, perhaps impacting the English language the most.
Ten Facts About the Word “Chocolate”
- The Nahuatl people of Mexico and Central America are ultimately responsible for the word “chocolate” as we know it today. They called it chocolatl, the edible substance made from the seeds of the cacao tree. When Spanish explorers encountered chocolatl, they mixed it up with the name of the drink made from cacao, cacahuatl.
- The current earliest sense of the word, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), refers to “a beverage made from the seeds of the cacao tree, thanks to Spanish explorers that denoted the word incorrectly.
- When speaking about a particularly toned man in France, one might refer to his six pack as his tablettes de chocolat, literally his chocolate bars.
- A “Chocoholic” is someone who can’t get enough chocolate. The term was first used in 1961 when one journalist in California asked, “Would you call a person who is over fond of chocolates a chocoholic?” Regardless of whether his question was a joke or not, the term caught on and is still used today.
- Chocolate-houses came into fashion in the late 17th century as a place for people to buy chocolate beverages. Although this term is no longer common, it lets us know of the cultural and social importance of chocolate in the 1800s. You might compare this to the coffee houses of today.
- British Rhyming Slang also included references to chocolate in the early 1900s. For example, “I should cocoa” was slang for “I should say so.” Also, the phrase “chocolate frog” was rhyming slang for “dog,” meaning informer.
- Chocolate related compounds have also come into use, like “chocolate-boxy” used to describe the stereotypical romantic pictures found on chocolate boxes of the Victorian era.
- The OED also records chocolate as a verb, although it is rarely used. For instance, a quotation from an 1850 work called Eldorado reads “We across the moonlight, chocolated the comedor, or dining-hall.”
- The Oxford English Corpus tells us that the top four words used with “chocolate” are “cake”, “bar”, “chip”, and “cookie”, while the most frequent modifying adjectives are “hot”, “dark”, “white”, “milk”, “rich”, and “delicious”.
- Production of Hershey’s chocolate bars started the same year he opened his new factory, and in 1937, he and his product were referenced in George Gershwin’s They All Laughed.
We’d love to hear your interesting facts, history, or figures about the language of chocolate. Please, feel free to drop us a line in the comments below. In the mood for a weekend retreat or romantic getaway? Be sure to check out Cedar Creek for all of getaways year round. Make your reservation today! We’ll be sure to keep a slice of one of our decadent chocolate desserts warm for you.
The love of your life just proposed, and while it is hard to take your eyes away from that beautiful ring, people are now beginning to ask you about your wedding plans. Unfortunately, many newly engaged couples like yourself are busy working or in school and cannot find the time to plan a dream wedding.
Because of this, hiring a wedding planner has become a popular wedding trend to ensure that the details (big and small) are properly taken care of in a timely manner, thus relieving many angst-filled brides of their stress. However, choosing a wedding planner is not an easy decision, and several should be interviewed before a decision is made.
To ensure that you choose a wedding planner that is right for you, Cedar Creek offers the following questions to help aid in the interview process:
- How long have you been in business & how many weddings have you done?
- How many weddings do you average a year?
- Is this your full-time or part-time job? Do you foresee any conflicts in this situation?
- What services do you offer?
- Do you double book weddings? Will there be any conflicts on the day or weekend of my wedding?
- What is your preferred form of communication?
- Have you coordinated weddings based on the style of interest I have expressed?
- How much of my time do you expect planning my wedding will take?
- Can you work within my budget?
- Do you charge for the initial meeting?
- Do you provide a contract?
- How often will I be billed?
- Do you require a deposit to get started?
- When is the final payment due?
- Do you charge for travel or is it included in your fee?
- Are there any additional expenses outside of the package/hourly fee I might incur?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Do you have a preferred vendors list?
- Are you available for all meetings with the caterer, location and other vendors?
- Do we pay you one fee and then you pay the vendors, or do we pay the vendors individually?
- How many people from your staff will be on hand during the wedding?
- Will you attend the rehearsal?
- Will you personally attend my wedding?
After each interview is complete, take a moment to ask yourself:
- Did you feel heard?
- Does the planner understand your vision?
- Did we get a strong sense she will work with your budget?
- Was there a good connection and did your personalities mesh well?
Trust your instincts. If an interview doesn’t feel right, then maybe that person just isn’t a good fit for you, and that is okay. It is very important to take the time you need to find a wedding planner who is compatible with you and your fiancé.
We hope this helps, and remember that Cedar Creek provides a romantic setting for a truly unforgettable destination wedding. We are a picturesque option for celebrating everything from the rehearsal dinner to the ceremony and reception, as well as delicious on-site catering, wedding cake bakery, and overnight accommodations. We enjoy working with wedding planners and are ready to assist in creating a magical experience for you, your family and your guests. For more information about the wedding options available for you, please click here.
Most of us have already chosen our New Year’s resolutions, whether it’s eating healthier, becoming fit, or saving more money for your retirement. But for those in the world of business, resolutions are more like goals. Has your company set strategic goals for your company in 2014?
From setting goals and providing clear directions for achievement, Cedar Creek would like to offer four strategies to help make 2014 the best year for your business.
Strategy 1: Select Impactful Goals for Overall Business Focus
A lot of us get stuck in the same trap year after year – we make personal resolutions that we have trouble fulfilling. If you’re not careful, the same can happen for owners and managers trying to set goals for their business.
Take time to select goals for your business that really matter, and more importantly, make sure they can be accomplished. Often times, company leaders set goals that are either shallow or won’t have any real effect on your long-term vision. You can avoid these problems by identifying your company’s challenges. If you’re trying to increase sales, set smaller goals that will directly impact growth to the bottom line. If you’re struggling to retain employees, you may want to set smaller goals that will make them stick around longer.
Goals shouldn’t just be meaningful. They should align with other parts of your business, like your vision, mission, and values. Goals that don’t align with these principals will most likely fall by the wayside or distract you from other opportunities. Corporate retreats and business meetings can help you get away from everyday distractions and keep your team focused. Feel free to give Cedar Creek a call to see how our meeting rooms can provide you with the flexibility needed for meetings of any kind.
Strategy #2: Create Daily Processes to Help Reach Fulfillment
Process is something that makes a lot of businesses flourish, whether it’s workflow, employee onboarding, or billing. Stay simple in your goal setting by ensuring that they’re easy to memorize and integrate into processes. The best goals are memorable and measurable.
Broad goals are the worst goals. Think about the goals we’ve made in our pasts, like “graduate college” or “make the varsity team.” The problem with these is that the bar is set too low. What kind of college are we talking about? Is it a community, private, or state college? And do you want to graduate with a 3.5 or 4.0 GPA?
A better goal format would be something like: “grow our client list by 50” or “build team morale to retain 85% of our current employees.” These are simple goals that use numbers, helping you remember and measure outcomes.
Strategy #3: Be Transparent with Your Employees
Speaking of increasing your employee-retention rate, you might want to consider sharing your goals with your team. Even better, ask them for some constructive criticism to help you decide on your goals. This gives employees a clear understanding of what you’re seeking to accomplish and how they can help you along the way. Plus, employees like to have a say in where they think their leaders should aim. It’s been found that transparency correlates with employee happiness.
Sharing your goals gives employees accountability and added support. Also, once you let everyone in on your goal, then you are committed to that goal and are more likely to remain consistent with that commitment. There’s no better way to get employees in on the conversation than to schedule some time for group activity planning. Cedar Creek offers a wide variety of recreational activities, whether it’s our low ropes confidence or the 9-hole golf course.
Strategy #4: Identify Distractions Before They Cost You
We briefly mentioned how distractions can derail you from the task at hand, but we didn’t bring up how powerful it can be to say “no” to something that will get in the way. This is most important for new entrepreneurs that are often easily pulled from their mission and vision. Even the most positive of distractions can make you stray from your primary goals; it’s important to recognize these before it’s too late.
So, what’s the bottom line?
The best goals are specific, measurable, and attainable. With these three attributes, you’re just that much closer to achieving what you decide to set for 2014. If you determine that you need to take your meeting out of the office, give us a call. For over 10 years she has been assisting Cedar Creek clients put together successful meetings to help them achieve their goals!
As always, feel free to share your goals with us in the below comments. Oh, and good luck in the New Year!
You’ve been put on the spot, with no way to back out, and now the responsibility of planning this year’s annual family reunion lays heavily on your shoulders. What do you do? Where do you begin? More importantly, how on earth are you going to find the time and money to plan such a large event?!
First, take a deep breath. You have been paid a high compliment by your family who has acknowledged your abilities as a leader, capable of making considerate decisions and the ability to follow through with concrete plans and strong organization. Now take another deep breath and realize that your family has not asked you to do this alone, but to spearhead the event with the autonomy to delegate responsibilities as you see fit. This is your time to shine and with our simple steps you are sure to be a success!
- The First Step: Make an invitation list to ensure that no family member is left out of the festivities.
- The Second Step: Gather communication preferences for families. Some members prefer phone calls or texts, others email, with the more traditional members preferring mail.
- The Third Step: Determine a date. Family reunions typically are held during the warm summer months when school is out of session and companies are more accepting of employees taking time off for vacations. More importantly, outdoor weather allows the younger generations the space to burn off the extra energy they have in abundance.
- The Forth Step: Determine a budget. By determining a budget FIRST you are then able to determine location and activities.
A growing trend among families is having the annual reunion at an all-inclusive property. From meals and lodging to activities, all-inclusive properties typically takes the stress of the planning off the family’s checklist and divides the cost equally among all the participants.
- The Fifth Step: Determine a location. Another benefit of all-inclusive property is the ability to cater to a wide range of group sizes. “We have organized reunions for groups of 20 all the way up to 450,” said Jennifer Buwalda, Manager of Meetings & Events at Cedar Creek. “The biggest request from families is the ability to spread out and give each other the chance for a little privacy every now and then. Family time doesn’t mean ‘together all the time.’ It is important to have personal time as well.”
- The Sixth Step: Determine meals. With food allergies, preferences, and beliefs, planning and cooking meals can be exhausting. At Cedar Creek, all meals and snacks are homemade and made according to your specifications. If 3 of 400 cannot have nuts, then a meal will be prepared for them. If 20 out of 50 are vegetarians, then a meal will be prepared for them. In addition, all meals can be served buffet, boxed, or plated based on your itinerary.
- The Seventh Step: Determine activities. This is the final, and probably one of the most important steps in planning a family reunion because of the age and ability difference. All inclusive properties are an excellent choice because of the breadth of activities found onsite for families. At Cedar Creek, families can enjoy golf, fishing, hiking, biking, swimming, an outdoor movie theater (we will play your requests!), bonfires, lawn games like badminton or croquet, brewery tours, and more. Cedar Creek can also coordinate several offsite activities including winery tours (we are 10 minutes away from some of the best wineries in Missouri’s robust wine country!), shopping excursions, and sightseeing.
Family reunions are an invaluable way to reconnect with distanced loved ones, rekindle relationships, and share a common heritage. They are meant to be enjoyed and to create new memories. We hope these simple steps help during your planning process, and should you need more advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
It seems like the holidays come sooner and faster every year. From the minute the pools close on Labor Day, stores begin pushing out Halloween candy, Thanksgiving and Christmas décor, and in some extreme cases, Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs. Truly, the stress of the holiday rush, coupled with your numerous holiday responsibilities, can make the season less than merry and bright.
Taking time for yourself is important. Everyone acknowledges this, but far too few actually take a moment to breathe and reflect on what’s most important, enjoying time with friends and family.
To relieve the stress and anxiety this holiday season, Cedar Creek offers some helpful tips.
Take A Moment in the Sun
Sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin, and can help relieve season affective disorder (SAD). Break away from holiday tradition by having Cedar
Creek set up a day bonfire for you and your guests on one of our patios and include 2nd Shift beer, coffee, cocoa, s’mores, and more!
Walk Away Stress
Walking releases endorphins to the body. Endorphins not only block pain, they’re also responsible for our feelings of pleasure. Cedar Creek’s 9-hole golf course and nature trails are the perfect outdoor activities to chase away stress while bonding with friends and family.
You’ll wind up tired and maybe even broke if you say “yes” to every holiday request that comes your way. Be realistic with yourself about what you can do and what you want to do.
Say “no” to:
- Holiday parties by thanking the host and stating that you are unable to attend due to a previous engagement or private family time.
- Expensive gift giving by setting a budget or by creating a memorable holiday experience instead.
- Unwanted houseguests by suggesting area hotels with reasonable rates. Cedar Creek offers a variety of lodging options from cozy lodge rooms to the Stately Manor House.
- Cooking by suggesting a restaurant or another family member taking their turn for this year’s festive holiday gathering.
Remember, the most valuable gift you can give your friends and family this holiday season is your time and attention.
Your friends and family like you for just being you. It does not matter if the house is a mess, the food is late, or if the holiday décor is not completely unpacked. Forget the little stuff and focus on what you want to achieve this holiday season.
Turn Up the Music
Anxious? Listen to your favorite music, whether it is holiday, country, rock, rap or jazz. Research shows that listening to music can improve the function of the body’s immune system and reduce levels of stress. On weekends, Cedar Creek proudly features lives bands as well as organic grove jam sessions for guests to come out and play some great tunes!
Hopefully, with these tips, the holiday season will be enjoyable for you and your loved ones. Cedar Creek can help by offering an excellent place to escape, relax, and rejuvenate. Give us a call and we will turn the sheets down on your bed and have Chef Marcie prepare you a warm cup of hot cocoa.
There’s con carne, steak fajita, white, Texas, green pork, five bean, turkey, and vegetarian – all of which are just a few delicious options that make up the wonderful world of chili. One thing is for certain, there’s no shortage of chili recipes across the country, with many states laying claim to the title of champion.
The Incan, Mayan, and Aztec Indians created chili thousands of years ago. They used a mixture of meat, beans, peppers, herbs, and spices long before Columbus’ arrival. But how did this ancient mixture become ever so popular? We have the cattle driver to thank.
The cattle drivers and trailheads of Texas use to roam the land in search of those that would be interested in buying their livestock. You can imagine how hungry a day on the trail could be, and in the depths of their hunger, they’d gather wild oregano, Chile peppers, wild garlic, and onions and mix it together with one of their own cattle – or jackrabbit, armadillo, or rattlesnake.
Want to brew up a batch of “original Texas chili” for your next party or event? Cedar Creek’s Chef Marcie Robinson’s chili is a family recipe that has won local chili cook-offs two years in a row.
“I have been making chili this way my entire life. I serve it for my own family and for our guests at Cedar Creek. My sister once entered the recipe in a chili cook-off and won, then modified the recipe the next year by adding jalapenos, and won again!” laughed Robinson.
Called “Chili for a Crowd” the recipe is as follows:
- 5 lbs. ground chuck
- 1 T. salt
- 1 T. pepper
- 1 med. Onion, chopped
- 1 lg. can tomato juice
- 2 cans lg. red or kidney beans (1 can of each also works!)
- 2 cans chili hot beans
- 1 can tomatoes and green chilies
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 pkg. chili seasoning
Brown ground chuck with salt, pepper and onion. Drain off fat. Add tomato juice, kidney beans, chili beans, tomatoes with green chilies, tomatoes, and seasoning. For a spicy chili add another can of tomatoes with green chilies.
Chili is one of the best dishes you can make for corporate retreats, weekend getaways, family reunions, or just about anything that involves a group of people. It’s easy to transport, gets even tastier as the hours pass, and most of all, is downright delicious. Local breweries and beer companies have also played a part in chili cook-offs and large events. Some even use beer in their recipes. Last but not least, don’t forget to offer toppings, as many people are very particular about how they “take” their chili, kind of like coffee drinkers! Some like cheese, oyster crackers or tortilla chips for crunch, sour cream or milk to make it creamier and balance the heat, and chives, onions or jalapenos for some extra zest.
Many corporate retreats at Cedar Creek enjoy the soup and sandwich bar at Cedar Creek for their lunch fare. One of the most popular recipes on cold fall and winter days happens to be a white chili that Chef Marcie has been cooking for the past 22 years at the Chalet.
The kitchen at Cedar Creek is always a bustle of activity creating savory food and sweet treats for our guests. Whether it is a corporate retreat, a family gathering, a weekend getaway, or even a day outing to our Western Town, we will greet you with an inviting smile and serve you with the best of hospitality.
The fall weather is here again – time to pull out the hoodies, sweaters, and gloves as we embrace the crisp nip in the air. It’s also time to turn on the oven for our favorite comfort foods, not to mention the only thing people actually think about come October – pumpkin carving.
You’ve seen all the designs, from the scary to the cheerful to the comical, and more complex carvings are appearing more and more. Now, you can find stencils of almost anything, namely pop icons for the most complex pumpkin designs. But what’s a person to do when they’re faced with such a task for the first time? Thankfully, Cedar Creek is here to help you with the process, from tool selection to giving it light. Plus, your next St. Louis weekend getaway can be a pumpkin carving expedition at Cedar Creek.
Step 1: Invest in the Right Tools
You might find a lot of the pumpkin carving tools lying around your house. Expert favorites include a paring knife, a scraper or spoon, an X-acto knife, a linoleum cutter, and a fine line drawing marker.
Pro tip: grab yourself a nice warm beverage like hot chocolate, tea, or coffee, and queue up your favorite horror movie. This will give you the inspiration you need to carve the most perfect pumpkin.
Step 2: Drawing the Design
Using a thin waterproof marker is the best way to sketch or trace your design onto the pumpkin. Reason being, it’s the easiest way to wash the design right off the skin when you’re finished carving. When choosing the pen, be sure to choose a color that will hide easily. Cedar Creek lodge likes to use brown, but almost anything will work aside from the common mistake of using a black Sharpie.
There are also a lot of designs you can print and transfer over to the pumpkin. To do this, pin the design on the skin of the pumpkin and use a sharp object to puncture holes through the design into the pumpkin. Your traditional wooden skewer will do the job.
Step 3: Cutting Off the Top
Before attempting this step, grab some newspaper and place it over the surface of the table to avoid too much of a mess. Use your knife to cut a large hole in the top of the pumpkin. Make sure it’s large enough to place your whole hand in comfortably, ensuring that you’ll be able to reach the bottom with ease. Also, cut at an angle toward the center of the stem to create a shelf that will hold the top of the pumpkin.
When the lid has been removed, you can start to remove the goopy stuff and save the seeds for roasting in the oven. Next, take a spoon or your scooping tool and scoop around the inside of the pumpkin. A little elbow grease will clean out any of the leftover goopy stuff while providing a thin enough wall (about an inch or so) for carving.
Step 4: Carving
Carefully carve out your design using different sizes of X-acto blades and linoleum cutters. You can get the best effects of shading and value differences by carving at different depths of the pumpkin walls.
Start from the center of the design and work your way out, finishing with the larger areas. Consider the area of the design that is the most difficult and start there. When you’re finished, you can go back and decide which areas you’d like to carve a bit deeper – eyes and teeth always look great fully removed.
Check the progress as you go by dimming the lights and shining a flashlight through the inside of the pumpkin. This will help you get a much better idea of what needs additional shading or carving.
Step 5: Preserve Your Masterpiece
At the end of the day, your pumpkin is a piece of fruit that will eventually become garbage, but there are a few things you can do to extend its life. First, apply lemon juice to the cutting surfaces to fight oxidation and mold. Then, spray a light coat of vegetable oil to hold in moisture on the surface. Store in a cool place and wrap in plastic when not on display.
Step 6: Give it Light
Using a candle to light your pumpkin? Consider carving a bit deeper through your design. Also, poke holes in the top or leave a small opening for the candle smoke.
Cool Pumpkin Designs
Have any additional ideas for designing the coolest pumpkin on the block? We’d love to hear them. Aside from that, good luck in your efforts! Below are a couple of Cedar Creek’s most favorite pumpkin designs for some more inspiration.
For us, Cedar Creek is a beautiful, special place full of our most cherished memories. As a couple, we’ve been going there since the beginning of our relationship, and although it feels like home, every time we go our experience is even better than the last.
With two kids, it’s hard to have time to slow down and make time for just us. It’s such a treat just to be able to go on a scenic walk, or stay up late and have a glass of wine and site by the fire and talk. There’s a stillness and a tranquility there that brings us back to our roots and our center. Cedar Creek helps bring clarity to the simplicity of life, which allows us to rediscover one another and get back to the strings of our marriage.
Cedar Creek is a gorgeous, relaxing place, but it’s also a lot of fun. Whether we’re playing golf, hiking, or exploring the Western Town, we’re able to laugh and just effortlessly have a blast. Cedar Creek is just magical; going there transports us to a different place where we can truly focus and enjoy one another.
After looking at a handful of destination wedding venues, choosing Cedar Creek was a no-brainer. Jennifer and the team went above and beyond to customize my entire wedding experience. From the food to the setup to the accommodations, everything was tailored to what I wanted and what our large group needed.
As weddings typically go, something of course went wrong. There was a huge storm the night before and setup had to be postponed. However, Cedar Creek’s team rose to the challenge and everything went off without a hitch. As a bride, it was an incredible feeling to know that everything was taken care of and that I could focus on our big day.
The wedding couldn’t have been more beautiful. For the ceremony, I walked across Cedar Creek’s picturesque bridge with the sun shining down and the water gleaming. It was truly a scene out of a movie. The toasts were given with a beautiful sunset as the backdrop, and we were able to dance the night away beneath the stars.
Along with the amazing Cedar Creek team, another benefit was that everything we needed was in one location. Our guests could all stay at Cedar Creek in Cedar Lodge. And, the bridal parties got to stay in the Little Lodge and Manor House, which allowed my groom and I to spend more time with our family and close friends.
I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful, stress-free day, and I have Cedar Creek to thank for my amazing wedding experience.