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Back to School — Another Fresh Start!

Back to School    Another Fresh Start!Even before the leaves have dressed up in their sparkling fall colors, the preparation begins.  Stores offer their best selections of colorful notebooks, glittery pencils, and backpacks with favorite cartoon characters or sports logos.  Everything is fresh and new again, another year will soon begin.

Can you recall that first year, that first time when you were just a little kid lacing up your new tennis shoes or Buster Brown’s and getting ready to walk or ride the bus with a whole lot of strangers?  You were probably a bit wary as your mother packed your little lunch pail with a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks.  You hoped she’d put in a cookie for good measure.

School!  It could be a bit daunting.  Big hallways!  What if you got lost?  What if you couldn’t find your way to the bathroom?  What if your teacher didn’t like you?  There were so many things to wonder about.  Perhaps you could fake a tummy ache.  After all, your mom wouldn’t want you to go to school if you were ill.  Yes, that could be the thing to do!

When you finally got to your classroom, you were impressed by the brightly lit room, the colorful bulletin boards that looked like there might be some fun things to do, and the corners of the room devoted to wonderful books and arts and crafts.  This might not be so bad after all!  This was looking good.  Wow!  You could hardly wait for school to start!

Whether you’re sending a little one off to school this year or you’re a teacher getting ready to go back for a new year, or you simply enjoy the memory of school days, from those early years, to those high school events, or college days, there’s something wonderful about going back to school.

This fall, encourage the back to schooler in your life with eCards from BlueMountain.com and consider re-creating some “back to school” moments of your own by signing up to take a class, or learn a craft, or begin a new project.  After all, you can still make your mother proud.  Besides you’d love one of those cool new notebooks!

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Hurricaine Katrina Remembrance Day (8/29)

Hurricaine Katrina Remembrance Day (8/29)“Hurricane Katrina brought many days of struggle and sorrow; yet, we also witnessed extraordinary acts of courage and kindness.” – President George W. Bush (Office of the Press Secretary – August 25, 2006).

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina blew onto U.S. soil and became the most costly and one of the most deadly natural disasters in U.S. history. Total property damage was estimated around $81 billion, and the devastation stretched from Florida to Texas, pummeling the Gulf Coast.

Federal disaster declarations covered 90,000 square miles of the United States, an area almost as large as the United Kingdom. The hurricane left an estimated three million people without electricity. Even today, the economic, environmental, political, legal and population impact to the region is substantial.

Let’s also remember that many people “stepped up” during those frightening days. Today is a day to not only remember those who were lost, but to celebrate and thank the many brave people and unsung heroes that helped the Gulf Coast residents get through the chaos and rebuild afterwards.

Thank you to the men and women who worked diligently to evacuate the threatened areas before the storm arrived. Thank you to the first responders and good Samaritans that risked their lives during the storm to rescue those left behind. Thank you to the emergency crews and aid organizations that cared for those who lost so much in the storm. Thank you to our fellow Americans and those in other countries who donated so generously to help in the aftermath.

As we remember the victims and show gratitude to those who assisted before, during and after one of the worst natural disasters ever to ever hit the U.S., let us also celebrate the human spirit and our faith in each other as human beings.

Today, a lot of work still has to be done – “normal” will not come back to some Katrina-affected areas for many years to come. However, residents won’t give up. They continue to rebuild, to dream, and to hope.

As President George W. Bush also noted on August 25, 2006, “Those days tested our Nation, and they revealed a resilience more powerful than any storm.”

Remember that Katrina wasn’t the first disaster, and it won’t be the last. When tragedy strikes, you can make a difference by supporting aid agencies such as the Red Cross (www.redcross.org) with donations and time. We can all make a difference in each other’s lives!

Sources: wikipedia, nola.com, georgebush-whitehouse.archives.gov

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Happy Birthday Mother Teresa

Happy Birthday Mother TeresaHappy birthday to the woman who gave her life to God and her love in service to the poor and needy of the world, Mother Teresa!  Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia (formerYugoslavia) to Nikollë and Drane Bojkaxhiu.

Gonxha, or “little flower” in Albanian, was the youngest of three children who sought a holy life as early as her teenage years when she joined Sodality, a youth group in her local parish.  This involvement sparked interest in missionary work, whereby she joined the Sisters of Loretto, an Irish Catholic missionary devoted  to working in India—what she referred to as her first “calling”—and changed her name to Teresa (after Saint Thérèse of Lisieux).

Among her many roles inIndia, Mother Teresa (Sister Teresa at that time) taught geography and catechism at St. Mary’s High School inCalcutta.  She later became principal of St. Mary’s, but in 1944 had to give up teaching due to tuberculosis.  During a train ride toDarjeelingfor her yearly retreat (this time in order to rest), Teresa was blessed with her second calling in life, her self-described “call within a call”: to live and work among the poor. She left the Sisters of Loretto in 1948 and pursued her new calling.

Continuing her educational work, Teresa learned basic medicine and treated the sick in their homes.  Not long after, former students of hers followed hew work and treated men, women, and children who had been rejected by area hospitals.  As the needs of the sick and poor grew and more help was needed, Mother Teresa founded several organizations devoted to the cause:

  • Missionaries of Charity in 1950
  • The Missionaries of Charity Brothers in 1963
  • The contemplative branch of the sisters in 1976
  • The contemplative branch of the brothers in 1979
  • The Missionaries of Charity Fathers in 1984

The Co-Workers of Mother Teresa and Sick & Suffering Co-Workers were also established for those of many faiths who shared her mission.  She also formed the Lay Missionaries of Charity and the Corpus Christi Movement for Priests in 1981.

Mother Teresa’s beacon of light was not without its share of extreme darkness, however.   From as far back as when her work among the poor and needy began, she confessed to experiencing an undeniable inner feeling of separation, even rejection, from God.  She called it “the darkness”.  Yet it was this very feeling that helped establish an even greater sense of communion with God.  By experiencing this intense sense of despair, she was able to help those who felt it even more.

Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997, and was recognized both at the time of her death and years later by Pope John Paul II for her holy work and devoted service.  A woman of unwavering commitment, her life presented more than an example, but rather a model of compassion, charity, and love to all of whom she touched, healed, and loved.

If you share Mother Teresa’s birthday, have a blessed and happy birthday!

Sources: motherteresa.org and ewtn.com

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Holiday: Happy Hug Day!

Holiday: Happy Hug Day!It’s HUG DAY!  Yes!  That’s right!  It’s the best day of the year because you can walk up to anyone, almost anyone, and give them an adorable embrace for no reason at all and then move on…with a smile on your face.  If you look back, they’ll have a smile on their face too.  You know they will because we all need a lot more hugs in our lives.

One statistic says that we need at least twelve hugs a day to simply stay reasonably balanced.  Twelve hugs!!  Okay, most of us are operating under a severe hug deficit.  Perhaps you could include dog or cat hugs, but when possible, go for actual people hugs.  After all, it’s Hug Day!!

You may remember a delightful piece that Shel Silverstein wrote in his book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, called Hug O’ War.  It’s a great little poem about how hugs are much better than tugs, because with giggles and grins, everyone wins.

It’s an inspired thought and one to pick up on today as you go about your business.  Carry a sign if you have to, “No tugs, just hugs.”  Who knows you might actually start a hug swarm, a hug mob where people are suddenly dancing in the street.  They may come up to perfect strangers and hug them as though they mean it.  In this temporary insanity, they may see all people as worthy of something as valuable and as friendly as a hug.  We may even have to call the hug police.  They’ll be out looking for those who try to skip out on Hug Day.

Fortunately, they won’t have to arrest you.  You’re a great hugger!  In fact, you’re one of the best huggers around and so it will be natural for you to get out there and do your part to celebrate the day.  Remember, No tugs, just hugs!   Oh, don’t you feel better already?

Happy Hug Day!

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Remembering Woodstock

Remembering Woodstock1969 was a monumental year in the United States: man set foot on the moon for the first time, demonstrators continued to protest the Vietnam War, hippie fashion was in style with peace signs and long unkempt wild hair adorned with anti-establishment phrases, and one of the greatest music festivals of all times was held – Happy Anniversary to WOODSTOCK!

Held August 15-18, 1969, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”. The epic music celebration was held at Max Yasgur‘s 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, which is southwest of the town of Woodstock. The organizers assured the town of Bethel to expect no more than 50,000 people. We know now that they were a bit “far out” on their numbers!

Over 100,000 tickets were sold well before the weekend of the festival, rendering them useless as swarms of people overtook the concert grounds for the one of the grooviest events ever. The paid event became a free public concert. In the end, the peaceful hippies numbered half a million and the festivities were greeted with  rain, mud, traffic jams, and some of the coolest musical performers ever to gather in one place. How cool? So much so that Rolling Stone Magazine included Woodstock in the list of “50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll”.

Thirty-two acts performed over the course of the four days. The line-up included  acts such as Ravi Shankar, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Santana, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Janis Joplin with The Kozmic Blues Band, Sly & the Family Stone, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Joe Cocker, The Band, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha-Na-Na, and Jimi Hendrix.

Two “soundtrack” albums came out of the event. The first was Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More, and Woodstock 2. Both albums included band performance and recordings of stage announcements between songs.

Too bad to those who declined to play the festival – you know what they say about hindsight! On the dubious list of those who “passed” on Woodstock: Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jeff Beck Group, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Byrds, The Moody Blues, Joni Mitchell and Roy Rogers. Major bummer, man!

 Average 1969 Cost of new house = $15,550.00
Average 1969 Income per year = $8,550.00
Average 1969 Monthly Rent = $135.00
Average 1969 Cost New Car = $3,270.00
Average 1969 Price of Gas per Gallon = 35 cents

Value of “being there” for the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair = priceless.

 Those who were there will forever remember and be changed by the way the music brought everyone together.  According to Michael Lang, Woodstock Ventures festival producer, “That’s what means the most to me – the connection to one another felt by all of us who worked on the festival, all those who came to it, and the millions who couldn’t be there but were touched by it.”

Have you been to Woodstock?  Share memories of good times past with the friends who shared this historic and monumental experience with you – Send a BlueMountain.com ecard to let them know you care.

Who are your favorite bands and songs from Woodstock? Share in the comments section!

Sources: thepeoplehistory.com, woodstock.com, wikipedia, woodstockstory.com

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Happy Birthday Julia Child!

Happy Birthday Julia Child!Her family and friends called her “Juke”, “Juju” and “Jukies”, but the world knows her as TV chef and author, Julia Child. Julia Carolyn McWilliams was born in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. The oldest of three children, Julia had a privileged childhood and stood out among her peers as a wild prankster who towered over everyone else at the height of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Julia met Paul, the love of her life, while they were both working for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS). The happy couple was married in 1946. When Paul was reassigned to a post in Paris, Julia bid “bon voyage” to the U.S. for a temporary post in France. There she fell madly in love with French food, and began living with an enthusiastic joie de vivre for the country.

Her passion for French cooking led her to the world-famous Cordon Bleu cooking school, where she spent six months cooking with the finest chefs in the country – most of which were men! When she graduated, this culinary tour de force wanted to give the world a taste of what she was cooking! Julia mixed it up with fellow Cordon Bleu students Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle to form a cooking school called L’Ecole de Trois Gourmandes (The School of the Three Gourmands).

Wanting to wish “Bon appétit” to mainstream America, the trio adapted French cuisine for mainstream Americans by collaborating on a two-volume cookbook. The 734-page, 3-lb cookbook was released in September of 1961 under the title “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”. The book was considered groundbreaking and remained the bestselling cookbook for five straight years after its publication.

Julia promoted her now-famous book on a Boston public television station. Introducing the world to her trademark blunt manner and hearty wit, she gained an immediate fan base by humorously preparing an omelet on air. This landmark first for Julia led her to host her own TV series on cooking for WGBH in 1962. Her beginning salary? $50 a show – this was later raised to $200 per show, plus expenses!

The French Chef TV series, like “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, gave us a new way of looking at food and made Julia a celebrity. The French Chef was eventually syndicated to 96 stations throughout America.

The “set” for all of her television shows – Julia Child’s Kitchen – was designed by Paul Child and is now on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Julia is still in the public eye today. In 2009, the feature film Julie & Julia made its way to the big screen. Starring Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Amy Adams as writer Julie Powell, the movie covers Powell’s attempt to cook every recipe in Julia’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year, while blogging her entire experience. Child and Powell are also the inspiration for the popular current blog www.ayearwithjulia.com.

So as we bid you adieu, tell us – what is YOUR favorite French dish?

Know someone who shares Julia’s birthday?  Send them warm and delectable birthday wishes with Blue Mountain eCards. Happy Birthday Julia Child!

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Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!

If you’ve been on Blue Mountain recently you’ve probably stumbled upon our newly created premium eCards and postcards… but what the heck are these new products and why were they created in the first place?  We’re delighted to share that these original innovative greetings were inspired by you, created for you, in hopes of offering you new and exciting ways to communicate with loved ones.

So here’s how it started… judging by your feedback on our Blue Mountain Facebook fan page, you were looking for a quick and easy solution to posting a simple message on your friends Facebook walls – such was the inspiration for our new line of premium postcards. Additionally, we created a new and improved eCard experience that not only eliminates additional clutter on the page, the eCards actually immerse your computer screen for a captivating experience we think you’re going to love!  Check out some of our favorites below and be on the lookout for our new premium Halloween eCards coming soon.

A Bewitching Birthday

Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!

Magical Fairy Birthday

Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Birthday Miracles

Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!

Don’t Forget the Freebie!:  As a sign of our appreciation for your insightful feedback we’d like to give you the opportunity to try our new products absolutely free for the next 2 weeks!  Click on the image below to start sending today.

Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!

Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!Introducing Premium eCards and Postcards + Free Stuff!

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Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!Happy birthday to the master of cinematic suspense, Alfred Hitchcock!  Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, or “Hitch” to his friends and colleagues, was born August 13, 1899, inLeytonstone,England(just outsideLondon) to William and Emma Hitchcock.

The youngest of three children, Alfred grew up in a strict Roman Catholic family.  Despite a few stringent rules, including reciting the events of his day each night at the foot of his mother’s bed, Alfred experienced a fairly normal childhood.  Educated at

St.IgnatiusCollege, he went on to study engineering and navigation.  One of his first jobs was working for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company, during which time his interest in film began.

He first got work drawing sets and met Alma Reville, an editor, who was only one day younger than Alfred. Laboring further down the food chain than her, they never spoke to each other until the director of the film they were working on got severely ill and Hitchcock was called upon to finish the movie.  He and Alma married in December 1926 and had a daughter, Patricia.

After a number of stops and starts at directing, Hitchcock began his filmography with The Lodger, The Lady Vanishes, and Rebecca.  But it wasn’t until Saboteur in 1942 that studios began placing Hitchcock’s name before the title (i.e. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho).

It’s been said that Hitchcock prided himself on directing and preferred studios for shooting rather than filming on locations because it enabled him more control over the filmmaking elements.  He also made a point of making an appearance in most of his films, which became something of a trademark for Hitchcock.

Not to limit himself to film, Hitchcock also made a name for himself in television in the 1950’s and 60’s with Alfred Hitchcock Presents.   He directed many of the half-hour episodes and played host every week during its run.Happy Birthday Alfred Hitchcock!

Years later, when given a Lifetime Achievement award in 1979, Hitchcock kidded that he must be nearing the end of his life.  He died the next year of kidney failure on April 29, 1980, in Bel Air,Los Angeles,California, a man of the world and a cinematic legend. 

Know someone who shares Alfred’s birthday?  Send them a frighteningly exciting birthday eCard and make their day!

Sources: PBS.com, biography.com, imdb.com

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Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate! Happy Book Lovers Day!

Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!You may be able to remember your first time.  You waited with great anticipation, wondering just how it would feel when you first entered the room.  You thought about what it would be like, how you would contain your excitement as you let your fingers run over the spines of your favorite characters?  You might not have known the authors by name yet, but you knew that your relationship had already begun, you were hooked and this was going to be a lifelong passion.  Books were in your life to stay!

The first library or bookstore visit was an occasion.  It was something to celebrate.  You knew you were going to have to make choices, big choices.  It was something like choosing the best chocolate from the box and not knowing exactly what would be inside.  Would you get one that was kind of nutty and fun?  Would you get one that was beautiful on the outside, but rather lackluster on the inside?  Oh, no matter!  You were there and the adventure was simply unrivaled.

Sure, you’ve calmed down now.  You’re not quite as carried away with the chance to add a new book to your shelf and yet, something lingers, some sense of awe at what the bookstore beholds.  By now, you’ve read the kind of romantic fiction that melts away like chocolate drops on a summer day.  You’ve read nonfiction that gave you pause, a lot to ponder, something you simply had to digest.  Yes, it’s still a candy box moment.  Whether you can wander through the specialty books wrapped in gold foil or embossed with intrigue, or whether you look for the simpler sustainable styles, this is your world.

The book lovers, and you know who you are, never quite get over the thrill of winding their way through the stacks, wondering just which one will be the most exquisite, which one will be chocolate decadence.  No matter!  You know it’s there and with your experience and diligence, you’ll soon be quietly slipping between the covers with a little mocha blend close at hand.  Enjoy!  You deserve it!

Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!Holiday: Books Are Like Chocolate!  Happy Book Lovers Day!

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Holiday: Happy Friendship Day!

Holiday: Happy Friendship Day!The Lens of Friends

The word “friend” is probably laden with as many nuances of meaning as the word “love.”  After all, we have a wide variety of people in our lives that we might by some definition call friends, and we have a host of people to whom we attach some semblance of love.

Some people are friends by virtue of proximity, meaning you see them at exercise class every week or you see them sitting in the same pew at church on Sunday’s, you exchange a few pleasantries, learn each other’s names, and are in some measure, friends.

Some people are the lifelong buddies of days gone by.  They know everything about you, or at least who you once were. Sometimes they remember things you had long ago forgotten, and actually wish they would forget too, when their old information about you no longer fits who you are today.  Still, these are the people who are gold, the ones carved with lasting memories, the ones who remain in your heart forever and no time or distance can break the bond.

Then, there are the current friends, the “real” friends, the ones who lift your spirits when life turns upside down, or who catch you off center and make you laugh in spite of yourself.  These are the inner circle friends, the ones who have permission to enter the sacred spaces of your heart and who safely and lovingly remind you of all that is good.  These are the friends as Albert Schweitzer once said who are near when a light goes out.  He said, “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.  Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

No matter what lens you use to see the friends who surround you, they are all important.  They all remind you that every experience in life is more beautiful when it is shared with a friend, with someone we love.   Give a warm shout to your friends today and thank them for being such a wonderful part of your life.

Happy Friendship Day!

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