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White House Holiday Social


By Jueseppi B.




Here’s what we’re doing for the holidays:


Folks across the country are getting ready for the holidays. We’re celebrating here at the White House, too — and we want you to be a part of it.


We’ve launched our 2013 Holidays page. Check it out for exclusive videos, recipes, and more.


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P.S. – Next week we’re holding a meet-up here at the White House for our online followers. Want to be here for it? Click here to find out how.


White House Holiday Social


Apply for your chance to join the White House Holiday Social on Monday, December 16th, 2013

On Monday, December 16th, 2013 we’re inviting our Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter followers to join us for a Holiday Social at the White House. White House Social guests will be invited to check out the décor, meet with the people that helped transform the White House for the holidays, join us for a craft project — and share it all with their followers with the hashtag #WHHoliday.


Sign Up

Sign up for your chance to join other White House social media followers at the #WHHoliday social. In order to apply you must follow an official White House Twitter,Pinterest or Instagram account. After you sign up, spread the word! Let your followers know that you applied to attend the #WHHoliday social.


What is a White House Social?

White House Socials are in-person meetings of people who engage with the White House through social media, including TwitterFacebook and Google+Pinterest andInstagram. Building off of the White House Tweetup series, we’re inviting people that engage with us online on a range of social sites to participate in face-to-face meetings and events.


Past White House Social events have included a Twitter Town Hall with the President, a Tweetup Briefing with Press Secretary Jay Carney, a Let’s Move! Tweetup for the First Lady’s garden harvest, a Republic of Korea Arrival Ceremony Tweetup, a Holiday Open House Tweetup, a United Kingdom Arrival Ceremony Tweetup, a White House Google+ Photowalk during the 2012 Spring Garden Tours, a Pinterest Holiday Social


How do I register?

Registration opens at WhiteHouse.gov/social-apply at 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 8th and and closes on 12:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, December 11th. Tickets are non-transferable.


Do I need to have a social media account to register?

This event is designed for people who regularly interact with the White House via TwitterPinterest andInstagram. Registration is open to those who are active users on these social media platforms.


What are the registration requirements?

Registration indicates your intent to travel to the White House in Washington, D.C. on the morning of Monday, December 16th, 2013 to attend the White House Social in person. You will bear any costs associated with travel and lodging. All guests over the age of 18 will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification (detailed here).


What if I cannot come to Washington, DC?

If you cannot come to the White House in Washington, D.C. to attend in person, you should not register for the White House Social. You can follow the event on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram with the hashtag #WHHoliday.


When will I know if I am selected?

The White House will contact applicants via email with additional instructions to those that have been invited or added to the wait list. If you have been selected, you will be notified no later than Wednesday, December 11th, 2013.



Information on White House Christmas 2013


2013 White House Christmas – Gather Around


The theme for the White House Christmas 2013 is Gather Around, a celebration of coming together with loved ones at this special time of year, and of the stories behind our beloved and classic American holiday traditions. In celebrating heartfelt memories from American families across the country and First Families throughout the years, Gather Around seeks to have us share our stories with one another and inspire us for the season and into theNew Year.


Using thoughtful hand-made volunteer crafts and recycled classic pieces, the Gather Around decorations tell a story with each room and every tree in the White House. Special art displays and Christmas trees made from repurposed books help this year’s theme come alive, and warm, traditional colors inspired by nature help unify the theme throughout the house.


This year’s decorations also honor our military families, a tradition started by Mrs. Obama, whose Joining Forces initiative seeks to honor and support those who sacrifice so much for our freedom.



East Visitor Entrance 
The East Visitor Entrance serves as a welcoming point for guests as they begin their tours of the White House. The walkway leading to the house features lanterns, the two trees that flank the East entrance are complete with gold pinecones and the garland around the entrance is accented by burgundy ribbons.



East Entrance Landing 

The area between the entrance and the East Colonnade is dedicated to honoring our military members and their families. The landing features a tree dedicated to the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and includes ornaments placed by Gold Star families, as well as ornaments representing all five branches of the military. Visitors are encouraged to write postcards thanking our service members serving abroad, and to pledge volunteer hours through Operation Honor Cards in order to give back during the holiday season and the New Year.



East Colonnade 
The windows of the East Colonnade feature evergreen and stained glass wreaths, and at the end of the hallway is a handmade archway made from satin ribbon and chenille stems. Outside in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden sits a Christmas tree wrapped in lights, perched atop a sleigh.



East Garden Room 
The East Garden Room, commonly known as “Booksellers,” showcases stacked books which morph into Christmas trees, and a special book display that spells out the message “Share Your Story.” The east wall of the room features ribbon topiaries of the First Dogs – with a high-fiving Bo and a playful Sunny coming to life to delight the many children that will visit the White House this holiday season.



The Library 
Accenting the many books in the Library is a Christmas tree styled with golden pinecones and burlap ribbon, decorated with poinsettia detail and a burgundy scroll design. A basket at the foot of the fireplace holds ornaments and glowing white lights.



Vermeil Room 
This year, the Vermeil Room houses two Christmas trees, each adorned with wreath ring ornaments wrapped in satin yarn, and small door ornaments made by volunteers.



China Room 
The eight-foot Christmas tree in the China Room is decorated with dangling crystal ornaments, red berries and fresh greenery. The table in the center of the room includes cylinder glass votive holders etched with the words “Gather Around.” Fresh greenery covers the mantelpiece, decorated with red, gold and silver ornaments matching the tree.



Grand Foyer and Cross Hall 
The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall are decorated to celebrate both individual American families and our nation as a whole. The four large Christmas trees decorating the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall are adorned with snowflake ornaments and notes written by volunteers expressing their holiday wishes. Small wooden picture frame ornaments hold silhouettes of landmarks from around our nation including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge.



State Dining Room 
The State Dining Room features two 14 foot Christmas trees placed on either side of the mantelpiece, decorated with tin hearts, painted and decoupaged with the word “gratitude.” The State Dining Room is also home to the famous gingerbread house. Over the course of several weeks, members of the White House pastry team created a 300-pound, edible White House replica. This year’s creation features a mini Bo and Sunny sitting on the front steps of the house lit from within, and a functioning replica of the North Lawn fountain. This year, the gingerbread house rests on a life-size, custom-made hearth fashioned from Springerle Cookies. These sweet treats tell stories through images imprinted on their dough by hand-carved, wooden molds. Framing the opening of the hearth are sugar paste recreations of the tiles commissioned forPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s fireplace. The edible fireplace reminds us of President Roosevelt’s famous “fireside chats” and will certainly evoke memories for so many of their own special moments gathered around a fireplace.



Red Room 
For years, the Red Room has been home to the traditional White House cranberry tree. In keeping with this custom, a crimson and plum-colored flower and fruit vase—hand-made entirely of sugar paste—contains a one-of-a-kind arrangement of scarlet and fuchsia flowers and berries. The Red Room also features round stained glass wreaths hanging in the window bays above two 8 foot Christmas trees. Burlap cones filled with fresh greens and red berry accents decorate the Christmas trees, and gold painted nutcrackers accent the side tables of the room.



Blue Room 

This oval room is home to the official White House Christmas Tree. This year’s tree, like many in years past, features decorations honoring our military families. More than 2,000 distinctive ornaments decorate the 18.5 foot Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Children living on bases across the country created holiday greeting cards, many of which share their favorite holiday traditions. Other ornaments feature photographs of deployment homecomings, celebrating the joyous moment when families are reunited after long separations. These personalized decorations, along with round fabric ornaments featuring the silhouettes of each state and territory, hang from the tree’s branches. The tree also holds small globe ornaments, three-dimensional gold and silver paper-mache stars and ribbons hand-embroidered by volunteers with each state and territory.



Green Room 
Flower ornaments, sugared fruits and lush foliage convey the beauty of nature in the Green Room. In each window bay, 21-inch round stained glass windows with floral motifs hang above an 8-foot Christmas tree. Round disc ornaments decorated with red poppies adorn the trees, along with orange and red felt flowers and faux sugared fruits. Thick fresh greenery along with ornaments decorate the mantelpiece.



East Room 
The East Room celebrates the act of sharing stories through art, and features four Christmas trees decorated with upwards of 120 detailed, unique ornaments created by volunteers. Ornaments include decorated miniature cardboard houses, large hand crafted paper roses and glass bell jars filled with small decorative pieces, such as miniature picture frames of art. On the wall of the East Room sits the White House crèche. The crèche has been a part of the White House holiday décor since it was given by the Engelhard Family during the Johnson Administration in 1967. Originally from Naples, Italy, the Baroque-style set consists of 44 terra cotta and wood figures, some over 300 years old.


For additional information, including the 2013 Holiday Tour Book and instructions on crafts the military children will create today, go toWH.gov/Holidays. Holiday-related content from the White House will be tagged #WHHoliday.


  • The official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room stands 18 ½ feet high and is nearly 11 feet wide. It comes from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA.
  • 24 Christmas trees will be visible on the public tour route.
  • Over 450 repurposed books were used as part of the holiday decorations this year. They will be donated to a local school’s book drive following the holiday season.
  • Approximately 1,000 yards of satin ribbon were used to make this year’s replicas of the First Dogs Bo and Sunny.
  • Over 1,200 Springerle cookies were used on the gingerbread fireplace in the State Dining Room.
  • Nearly 300 lbs. of bread dough were used to make the completely edible White House replica in the State Dining Room.
  • Approximately 70,000 visitors are expected to visit the White House during the 2013 holiday season.


First Lady Michelle Obama Previews the 2013 White House Holiday Decorations

December 04, 2013 | 11:14 |Public Domain


First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2013 holiday decorations and asks every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year, and the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.




Susan K. Donius
December 05, 2013
10:45 AM EST


Ed. note: Today at 4:10 ET, tune in to whitehouse.gov/live to see President Obama deliver remarks at a White House Hanukkah Reception


The First Lady & Bo welcome military families for the first look of the whitehouse holiday decorations

The First Lady & Bo welcome military families for the first look of the whitehouse holiday decorations



The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act Works! ObamaCARES Success Stories: Part Duex


By Jueseppi B.





Let’s Enroll Texas


Real Texans checked out the Health Insurance Marketplace. They share what getting covered means to them. Learn more about your options at HealthCare.gov. Want to share your story? Email lmoskowitz@txchildren.org



Name: Carol T Williams




Occupation: Self-employed, hairdresser


Why is having health care important to you?

I’m 52 years old, and as I’m getting older, I realize that health care is a necessity. I have a history of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure in my family, so it’s important I see the doctor. I’ve been self-employed for thirty years, and whenever I could afford insurance, I would get it. There were many years that I went without it, though.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I’m super happy. With my old insurance plan, I was paying $443 a month for my son and myself, with a $7,5000 deductible. It didn’t even feel like I had insurance. Now, because of subsidies, I’ll pay $165 a month with a very low deductible, and my son will purchase his own insurance through the Marketplace. I used to put off going to the doctor when I needed to because of my high deductible, and now I don’t have to do that anymore.


Getting covered means: a relief. I feel like I don’t have to be scared anymore.




Name: Guy Singer




Occupation: Unemployed


Why is having health care important to you?

Health insurance is important to have to not go bankrupt. It’s also all of our responsibilities to have insurance. We cannot rely on the ER as a line of defense. The emergency room is not a health care room, it is not for getting a physical.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I’m looking forward to getting health care for my son and me. At my old job, I was paying $700 a month with a $7,000 deductible for my kid and me. I felt screwed over by the insurance companies. So when I heard about Obamacare, I knew I’d try to sign up.


Getting covered means: peace of mind.



Name: Einestein Escalona




Occupation: Restaurant Cook


Why is having health care important to you?

Having health care is very important for the future, if any problems arise. I work in Austin, but live in Cedar Park, and it’s possible I could get in an accident when commuting. I’m also getting older, and getting health insurance is a responsibility I take seriously.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I didn’t know what to expect, so I was very happy to know I could get good benefits at an affordable cost. I signed up for a silver plan that will cost me $36 a month with a $900 deductible. Other people I work with are paying for private health insurance plans right now that cost more and don’t cover as much.


Getting covered means: a portal to a better future, security in life, being responsible for myself.



Name: Vincent Lu




Occupation: Musician


Why is having health care important to you?

It’s important for me to have for annual check-ups and in case of an emergency. Since I’m a musician, I tour a lot, and if I were to get in an accident on the road, I’d have to face piles of debt without insurance.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I feel a lot more informed. There’s no reason not to learn more about the options that are out there. I also feel better because I know it will give my mom peace of mind.


Getting covered means: having a safety net.



Name: Amelia Ciskey




Occupation: Insurance industry; teacher; opera singer


Why is having health care important to you?

I ride my bike a lot, so in case I were to get hit or fall, I want to be covered. My ex boyfriend’s appendix burst, and because he had very poor coverage, he had to pay a lot of money. I once slipped in the bathtub when I was uninsured and almost broke a few ribs. It was a reality check that you can’t tell what will happen, that certain things are out of your control.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I looked at the subsidies offered to me because of my anticipated income, and they make it affordable for me to buy insurance. I just graduated with a masters in opera performance, and as I transition from being a student to a professional musician, I won’t have to be worried about not having insurance. Having insurance makes me feel like I can do what I want to do, which is pursue music.


Getting covered means: security. Not feeling helpless if something medically major happens.



Name: Nevyn Langlinais




Why is having health care important you?

Without health insurance I have to forgo certain activities, because if I injured myself, I wouldn’t be able to cover it. Also, I know what it feels like to be a parent and not have health insurance for your family. When you have to decide between paying the rent, putting food on the table, or getting health insurance for your kids, it’s the worst feeling in the world.

How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I’m really hopeful and excited. I had insurance last year, but it expired. The numbers that I’m seeing on the Marketplace are lower and the coverage is better than what I was paying for before.

Getting covered means freedom. Freedom from worry and freedom to risk a little for joy’s sake. I might even go aerial dancing.



Name: Susan Norwood




Why is having health care important to you?

Too many of my friends have been broken by astronomical health care costs. The insurance I have right now is expensive and not very adequate, but I keep it because I’m a little older and a little more fragile.


How did it feel to learn about new health care options available to you?

The prices are much better than I’m paying now. It was all very clear and easy to navigate, and I know have choices. There’s nothing to be afraid of and I know can come back here [Foundation Communities enrollment center] if I have any questions.


Getting covered means peace of mind. Reassurance that I can weather any accident or injury without it breaking me financially.




Name: Brenda Dandridge





Occupation: Certified Nursing Assistant, Pastor’s wife


Why is having health care important to you?

I feel safer when I have health insurance. But my doctor’s fees are so high right now. My premium and deductible are high, but I can’t afford to not have coverage. If I ended up in the hospital, I wouldn’t have enough savings to cover the bill without insurance.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I got some numbers, and they were significantly cheaper than I thought they would be. With what I pay now, it feels like someone else is controlling my life and my money. It’ll be nice to finally get some of that control back.


Getting covered means finding peace.



Name: Mary Kraemer




Occupation: Self-employed, Therapeutic Horticulture


Why is having health care important to you? I am self-employed and I haven’t had health insurance in around 20 years. I’m getting older, and I want to have access to preventive services. I also really need dental work done, but can’t afford it right now. I think it’s awful so many people are uninsured in such a rich country.


How did it feel to learn about the new health care options available to you?

I’m thrilled. I qualify for subsidies and found plans that would cost me less than $100 a month.


Getting covered means a relief.


Texas Governor Rick Perry may not appreciate The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (ObamaCARES)…sure seems like his constituents appreciate it though.



Enroll Now

We’re here to help you on your journey to get covered. We’ll connect you to your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace and let you know what to expect once you get there.





Covered together at last


November 15, 2013


Rita Rizzo and Lou Vincent, from Akron, Ohio, have built a comfortable life together paycheck by paycheck despite one missing piece – affordable health care.


That’s because they’ve been denied health insurance for a decade due to pre-existing conditions. Years ago, Rita had surgery for a hip replacement for which she no longer needs treatment. Lou has diabetes and also takes medicine for high blood pressure.


Rita was recently able to find insurance, but at a steep premium of $400 per month, and an even steeper $6,000 deductible. Meanwhile, Lou hasn’t had any coverage. He pays $170 each month for his blood pressure medicine alone. Rita knew the arrangement just wasn’t sustainable as they get older, but she was growing tired of the rejections from health insurance plans.


But when the Health Insurance Marketplace opened, their pre-existing conditions were no longer a barrier. The couple qualified for a subsidy that dropped their monthly premium down to just $184. That’s only a bit more than what they currently pay each month just for Lou’s medicine.


Finally, Rita and Lou are covered together — at a price they can afford. Imagine their relief.







For Joe, Coverage Saved His Life


November 26, 2013


As a self-employed painter, Joe Lucas says he has always tried his best to make ends meet. Sometimes, that meant going without.


While he was able to secure health insurance through an employer for a time years ago, increasing premiums forced him to give it up. Things went from bad to worse when he suffered an aortic aneurism while uninsured.


Joe knew he needed to do something to cover his health costs going forward. With his pre-existing condition, shopping for health insurance meant monthly premiums of $1,000 or more. Fortunately when the health care law was passed, Pennsylvania began a program allowing individuals with pre-existing conditions to get covered until the new Health Insurance Marketplace opened. Joe says the law helped save his life twice now.


Joe worked with an expert to start his application, but ended up being able to finish the process on his own at home. He had of 35 different plans to choose from and received $233 in monthly financial help to pay his premiums. For the option he settled on, the financial help reduced Joe’s premium from $383 to just $150 per month.


Joe’s new coverage will let him keep getting the annual checkups his doctor needs to monitor his heart. Now, at age fifty, he can focus on his work and not have to worry about seeking treatment only when he can afford it.










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Mulled Rum Punch With Honey

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

I recently posted a recipe for Hot Buttered Rum. With all of this wretched weather, I think another hot and spicy rum drink is in order.

While Paula Deen may beg to differ, not everyone likes butter in their cocktails. For those of you who prefer your spiced rum without the cow, here is a delicious recipe for Mulled Rum Punch.

It’s a perfect treat for the grownups on Halloween!


4 quarts apple juice or cider
1/2 cup honey
24 whole cloves
16 whole allspice
8 2-inch cinnamon sticks
2 whole nutmegs, cracked
1 to 2 cups golden rum
Lemon peel and/or other garnish of your choosing


  1. In a large saucepan, combine apple juice or cider, honey, whole cloves, whole allspice, cinnamon sticks, and nutmegs.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cool, then refrigerate several hours.
  3. To serve: strain and stir…

View original 61 more words

Holidays With Honey – Chatham Artillery Punch

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

punch 2artillery punch

Savannah’s Chatham Artillery is the oldest military organization in Georgia. This punch recipe originated with the C.A. over 200 years ago, and has been served in Savannah ever since. 

When President James Monroe sipped this concoction in 1819 while on a visit to Savannah, he dubbed it ‘suave and deceitful’.

This recipe is for a large party of thirsty revelers.

Warning:  This punch tends to take one by surprise.  Regrettably, the time period between pleasantly buzzed and black out drunk is a short one. Make sure your guests have a designated driver or be ready to insist that they sleep on your couch.

1 1/2 gallons strong tea
1 1/2 gallons Catawba, muscadine or scuppernong wine
1/2 gallon St. Croix rum
1 1/2 quarts rye whiskey
1 quart brandy
1 quart Gordon gin
1/2 pint Benedictine
2 1/2 pounds honey or a mixture of honey and brown sugar
1 bottle…

View original 78 more words

Holidays With Honey – Phyllo Spinach Triangles With Honey (Spanakopita)

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:


It sounds like a lot of you are getting ready for holiday parties. While you have your phyllo dough out, why not try these too? This is my standby winter appetizer recipe. Spinach is in season, and they freeze beautifully!

Yield:  30- 60 triangles


1/3 cup olive oil

2 pounds spinach, washed and drained

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon honey

1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1 pound phyllo pastry sheets


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan, add half of the spinach and saute until spinach wilts, tossing with tongs, about 2 minutes. Remove spinach and squeeze out excess liquid, then chop roughly. Repeat with remaining spinach, using 1 more tablespoon of olive oil…

View original 298 more words


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