Q How did “Frosty the Snowman” become associated with the Christmas holiday?

A: Frosty is one of the most successful additions to modern Christmas imagery. The song, written in 1950 by Steve Nelson and Jack Rawlins, was recorded by Gene Autry. It became the best-selling Christmas record of 1951. Frosty has some of the elements of a fairy tale, with a snowman who comes to life when wearing a magical silk hat. There is also some fairy tale poignancy about him, as Frosty begins to melt in the sun and so must hurry away, promising to return again some day.

A 1969 television cartoon was based on the story, and Frosty has also found his way into Christmas merchandising. There he has appeared as a doll, on coloring books, as candy and in many other manifestations that might have taxed the ingenuity of even the most magical of silk hats.

Q Do you have any suggestions on ways to decorate a rented apartment? We are not allowed to paint or wallpaper.

A: There are ways to personalize and decorate rented spaces, especially if you use your imagination and creativity. When choosing or adding to furniture, find original one-of-a-kind pieces (can be found at flea markets) that have interesting designs or intricate carvings. Find hand-painted chests or furniture. Buy bright throw rugs or hang bold prints and quilts on the walls. If you’re not allowed to hang stuff, use an easel to display pictures and artwork. Use freestanding bookshelves and tables to display collections. If possible, check with your landlord to see if you can paint at least one wall. If you can, choose a bright accent color; if not, maybe hang a piece of fabric on the wall. Use staples to hang it, as they leave small marks that can easily be filled when you leave.

Try placing plants, both hanging and potted, throughout your apartment, and do display china, glassware or other bright collections. Stand-alone decorative screens also add a nice flair to a living room or a bedroom. Keep your eyes open at retail outlets, antique places and second-hand stores. You may be pleasantly surprised at the many decorations you can find for your rented home.

Q Do you have any tips on ways to get a Christmas cactus to bloom?

A: Cool temperatures and long nights are required to get Christmas cactuses to bloom. The temperature range needed for flower development is from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, for a six-week period. If the temperature goes above that range, the plant will need 13 hours of uninterrupted darkness each night. To do this, you can either cover it or place it in a dark room for the allotted time.

While it’s too late to do it for this year’s holiday season, you may also want keep the plant in total darkness (a closet) until buds develop. The best time to do this is usually during late September and mid-October. Once the buds do form, keep the plant in normal light and temperatures.

Q What does “crimp” mean when listed in a pie recipe?

A: “Crimp” means to seal the edges of a two-crust pie by either pinching the edges together at intervals with the fingers or by pressing them with the tines of a fork.

If you have a question for the Farmers’ Almanac write to Farmers’ Almanac, P.O. Box 1609, Lewiston, ME 04241 or e-mail: [email protected]


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