10 eggs
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, cooked
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
6 oz seasoned croutons stuffing mix
Grease 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Blend eggs, milk, dry mustard, and garlic powder. Layer sausage then cheese in pan.

Pour egg mixture into prepared pan. Top with croutons. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, bake uncovered at 350 for 55 min.

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Christmas Tree of Life
Nearly every society has at some point venerated the tree as a symbol of fertility and rebirth, or as a living link between the heavens, the Earth and the underworld. In the ancient Near East, "tree of life" motifs appear on pottery as early as 7000 BC. By the second millennium B.C., variations of the motif were being carved into temple walls in Egypt and fashioned into bronze sculptures in China.

The early Christian fathers were troubled by the possibility that the faithful might identify the Garden of Eden's trees of life and knowledge, described in the Book of Genesis, with paganism's divine tree and sacred groves. Accordingly, in 572 the Council of Braga banned Christians from participating in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia- a popular winter solstice festival in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture, that included decking the home with boughs of holly, his sacred symbol.

It wasn't until the late Middle Ages that evergreens received a qualified welcome from the Church, as props in the mystery plays that told the story of Creation. In Germany, mystery plays were performed on Christmas Eve, traditionally celebrated in the church calendar as the feast day of Adam and Eve. The original baubles that hung on these "paradise trees," representing the trees in the Garden of Eden, were round wafer breads that symbolized the Last Supper.

The Christmas tree remained a northern European tradition until Queen Charlotte, the German-born wife of George III, had one erected for a children's party at Windsor Castle in 1800.  The British upper classes quickly followed suit, but the rest of the country remained aloof until 1848, when the London Illustrated News published a charming picture of Queen Victoria and her family gathered around a large Christmas tree. Suddenly, every household had to have one for the children to decorate.

It didn't take long for President Benjamin Harrison to introduce the first Christmas tree to the White House in 1889- a practice that every president has honored except Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1902 refused to have a tree on conservationist grounds. His son Archie defied the ban and smuggled in a small tree that he decorated and hid in a closet in the upstairs sewing room.

Source: Getty Images
An engraving published in the 1840s of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert created a craze for Christmas trees.

For more information on the history of the Christmas Tree and more information on  Christmas Traditions in the White House
Kiss Me under the Hemiparasite
Mistletoe.  The word conjures winter holidays, office parties, stolen kisses and romance. But appreciation of the plant is no modern thing. Mistletoe has played a part in fertility rituals for thousands of years. Two thousand years ago the Druids, in what is now Britain, venerated the plant when it grew on an oak. When they found it, they dressed in white, harvested it with a golden sickle and sacrificed two white bulls. Or so says the great Roman Pliny the Elder, who died in AD 79, in his "Natural History". The Druids believed that mistletoe could make barren animals fertile and that it was an antidote to all poisons. The plant's ability to live off other trees awed the earliest agricultural societies. Mistletoe became a go-to plant for sacred rites and poetic inspiration.

The typical mistletoe you see in stores and books has red berries and is probably common European mistletoe. But there are many other species, perhaps 1,300 in all. Despite the association with winter, many of them grow in the tropics.

All mistletoes are parasites and grow on other plants, stealing water, minerals and other nutrients from their hosts. To a botanist, "mistletoe" refers to a way of life rather than to a particular family of plant.

Mistletoes save themselves the arduous task of climbing up trees. They prefer to start at the top. To do this, they co-opt birds who deposit the mistletoes' sticky seeds when they clean off their beaks on the upper branches. But how do plants survive up there with no contact with the ground to get water or food? In fact, way up in those lofty heights there is water and food aplenty. To get at them, the mistletoes sink their roots into the branches and simply suck out what they need. They are photosynthesizing for themselves, at least, so the host tree is "only" short of water and minerals. That's why scientists call them "hemiparasites" and not true parasites. But that's not much help to the tree. Over the years, the number of mistletoes in its crown multiplies. Some trees are absolutely covered with these parasitic plants, and in large quantities they can be dangerous. The constant bloodletting weakens the tree, which, incidentally is also getting increasingly robbed of light. And as if that were not enough, the mistletoe roots massively weaken the structure of the wood in the branches, which often breaks after a few years, reducing the size of the crown. Sometimes it all gets too much and the tree dies.

Mistletoes live on the stems of trees as hemiparasites, which means they are capable of performing photosynthesis but nonetheless rely on their host for water and nutrients.

Mistletoe in Dallas Texas, stays green long after the host trees have shed their leaves, making them easy to see, like tangled mini-shrubs.

Mistletoe growing in a tree in Australia. The foliage color of this mistletoe resembles the host plant, but the leaf is entirely different. Sometimes mistletoes are hard to spot.

For more information on mistletoe.

Thanks for reading
and Happiest of Holidays!     


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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