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2012–The Year in Review

2012  The Year in Review

A Year That Touched The Human Spirit

What a year it has been! From milestone celebrations and technology innovations to inspiration amidst devastation, 2012 was a year jamming with jubilee, packed with athletic prowess, and electrified by an awe-inspiring election. Here’s a glimpse at just a few of the year’s highlights:

 Celebrating—British style!

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated Her Majesty’s 60-year2012  The Year in Review reign withroyal fanfare along the Thames River and brought out the festivities like nothing the British had done before! It was matched only a few months later by the glory of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where athletes in countries from around the world competed in the spirit of unity under the motto: “inspire a generation.”

Stop the Presses! High-Tech Takes Over!

2012  The Year in ReviewBoth Encyclopedia Britannica and American magazine Newsweek announced plans to cease publication of their print editions. The 2010 edition of the renowned encyclopedia was the last for the educational staple, with Newsweek set to stop its presses with its December 31, 2012 edition. With technology now at our fingertips, both companies are making the move to mobile in this digital age.

Forces of Nature

During the darkest hours of Hurricane Sandy, the brightest spirits shone through with neighbors helping neighbors and multiple acts of heroism saving numerous lives. Despite limited resources, nothing could suppress the human spirit as it strengthened survivors’ resolve and blessed them with an “attitude of gratitude” for everything they had.

Mother Nature also revealed a wonderful side—as she2012  The Year in Review never ceases to amaze us with her awesome spectacles—captivating us with a total solar eclipse on November 13. Mostly visible to our friends Down Under, it crossed the South Pacific, passing over the northern tip of Australia, traversing thousands of miles as viewers took in this solar event.

Election Season

2012  The Year in ReviewFour major debates, two political conventions, countless ads, and campaigns trails full of hand-shaking and smiling for cameras were all a part of this year’s road to the White House. As voters tuned in to see where the candidates stood on important issues, polls were ready to gauge public opinion every step of the way. In the end, President Obama reclaimed the Oval Office as election night came to a close.

bluemountain.com Gets a Makeover!

You spoke, we listened! Thanks to customer feedback, our user-friendly site got even friendlier. With a new design layout, navigational tools, and familiar favorites still available, Bluemountain.com is better than ever and we’re hoping to make 2013 our best year yet!

What events from 2012 are most memorable in your mind?

 

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“WHAT TO WRITE…” Thank You Notes

WHAT TO WRITE... Thank You Notes

Now that the holidays are over, you probably have lots of reasons to be grateful to others. And since it’s the little things in life that make a huge difference, taking the time to write a warm and thoughtful thank you note is always nice. Of course thank yous are appropriate all year round, so we’re including some ideas here to help you get started on any kind of message of thanks.

Reflect on the person and situation you want to address. Is this someone you feel especially close to? Is the thank you for a gift or is this about a person’s generosity or thoughtfulness throughout the year? If it’s the latter, remind them of how often you notice their generous spirit or willingness to do kind things.

Think about what the thank you is for. If for a gift, is it clear to you that they took time to choose it? Was their gift a reminder that you’re special to them? Is this for something nice they did for you or someone you care about? When you start answering some of these questions, it will help you develop some ideas of what to say.

WHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesAddress them in a warm and personal way, thanking them for the specific gift or special thing they did. If they’re someone close to you, you can mention that you’re thankful for the gift, etc., but more than that, you’re thankful for their friendship, which you cherish all year through.

Let them know what the gift means to you. Did you eat the cookies they gave you right away or share them with your family? Did you wear the new scarf to work and everyone commented on it? Did their hospitality allow you to truly relax and enjoy yourself? Let them know that this gift has meaning for you.

You can then finish your note with a comment on how their gift or thoughtfulness makes you smile each time you think about it or let them know it added special meaning to your day.

The most important thing to remember is to be sincere…and to be yourself. Whether you go the traditional route or if funny is your thing, your appreciation will show through no matter which words you choose. So relax, and remember, too, that your note of thanks will start the year off right for both of you!

Finally, here are a few more idea starters that work well for many occasions:

Simply grateful for special people like you.

Your help was such a blessing.

Thankful, appreciative, grateful…that’s me because of you.

Thanks for all your special (caring) ways.

So lucky, so happy, so grateful for you.

Thank you for taking the time to be so thoughtful.

Could you have been any nicer? Don’t see how!

Thanks for thinking of me in such a special way.

Thanks…it was wonderful…just like you!

You’re a real sunshine-bringer!

You totally “out-niced” yourself!

Visit bluemountain.com to see a wide range of styles and designs in thank you ecards
and stationery.

WHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesWHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesWHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesWHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesWHAT TO WRITE... Thank You NotesWHAT TO WRITE... Thank You Notes

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December 26: Boxing Day

December 26: Boxing DayBoxing Day is traditionally the day after Christmas. It was a custom in the UK for tradesmen to receive “Christmas boxes” that contained gifts and bonuses. Servants of the wealthy were usually given this day off to visit family and the boxes they received sometimes contained food leftover from the previous day.

Today, Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in many places such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Australia. Its name has been changed to Day of Goodwill in South Africa and it is known as St. Stephen’s Day or The Day of the Wren in Ireland. In other European countries, it is simply celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.

Over the years, the holiday has become a major after-Christmas shopping day, due to reduced prices and sales similar to those of Black Friday.

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Christmas Around the World

Christmas is celebrated in so many different ways. From colorful decorations to festive food and music, various countries and cultures all have their own special ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. With Christmas just days away, we’d thought it’d be fun to share these snapshots of Christmas from around the world:

In Dublin, Ireland, Nollaig Shona Duit lights up the road. It means ‘Merry Christmas’ in Gaelic.

Christmas Around the World
(I Eat My Pigeon)

In Germany, star lamps are a traditional decoration that can be seen hanging all over town. These beautiful glowing lights were found in a Christmas market in Hamburg.

Christmas Around the World
(Kristi Fuoco)

In Mexico, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without ponche, a warm tropical punch made with cinnamon, guavas and other fruits.

Christmas Around the World
(The Mija Chronicles)

Christmas isn’t a public holiday in most countries in Asia, but you’ll still find stores stocking special Christmas snacks like these found in Taiwan.

Christmas Around the World
(27°72’N 85°37’E)

South Korea celebrates Christmas with Santa Haraboji or Grandfather Santa. This figurine of Santa wears a ‘gat’, a traditional hat worn by men during the Joseon Dynasty.

Christmas Around the World
(The Korean Way)

In the southern hemisphere, Christmas comes in summer. Here’s Papai Noel (Father Christmas) wearing his swim trunks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Christmas Around the World
(Daily Rio Life)

Tell us—What’s Christmas like in your corner of the world?

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Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve TraditionsIt’s always special when you celebrate the Christmas season–and especially Christmas Eve–with your own mix of old and new traditions. These may vary from home to home, and culture to culture, but most have significant meanings that have survived through the ages. The traditional red and green colors of Christmas actually stem from the mythical properties of Christmas foliage.

Holly Wreaths

For instance, the holly bush was thought to be the one that was never consumed by fire as God talked to Moses on the top of Mt. Sinai. The holly wreath then is thought to invite God’s spirit–and especially the spirit of Baby Jesus–into our homes. That’s why it’s became so important in some cultures to hang a holly wreath on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Trees

Bringing a beautiful lush evergreen tree into the home, and with it, good fortune, was originally a German tradition. The custom eventually led to lighting the tree with candles on Christmas Eve. Adding a beautiful star to the top of the tree was a reminder of the star the wise men followed to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.

Yule Logs

The ancient Vikings taught us about the Christmas Eve yule log, which was thought to bring warmth and sustenance to the home all year, especially if the log was received from a neighbor or a friend. Today, that tradition has been updated to serving a Yule Log cake in the spirit of warmth and friendship. It is sometimes part of an elaborate Christmas Eve meal that families enjoy before going to traditional midnight services at church.

Poinsettias

The lush reds of poinsettias were introduced through Mexico and have become increasingly popular over the years. The star-shaped blooms represent the ancient star that lit the way for shepherds and kings in their journey to Bethlehem.

New Traditions

Christmas Eve is a great time to start your own traditions as well. Perhaps you can combine versions of those from ancient cultures with your own. You can always create new ones like making a charitable donation or helping others in need, to making predictions for the coming year, to reading Christmas stories or watching a favorite Christmas movie before going to bed.

So whether your family opens gifts on Christmas Eve or you save them for “Santa” and Christmas morning, remember that the greatest gift of Christmas is the celebration of love. Gather your family and friends together, celebrate the traditions that are most important to you and share in all the joys of this happy and beautiful season.

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Classic Christmas Movies, Songs & Stories

Classic Christmas Movies, Songs & StoriesWhat would Christmas be without those memorable holiday movies, music, and stories to help celebrate the season? Break out the eggnog and fire up the Yule Log as you reminisce with some classic favorites.

Movie Greats

Enjoy the memories as you snuggle up with loved ones to watch film classics like 1947’sClassic Christmas Movies, Songs & Stories Miracle on 34th Street and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Have some fun by turning the holiday season into a “12 Days of Christmas Movies” marathon leading up to the big day…and after! You can start out with It’s a Wonderful Life to remember all that’s good in the world, then follow it up with A Christmas Story to add some holiday humor. And, of course, what would Christmastime be without a visit from the Peanuts gang in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Why not pop some popcorn, and, as you snack, string some together with festive cranberries to make a festive garland for your tree.

Classic Songs

Classic Christmas Movies, Songs & StoriesWhether enjoying the wintery weather with a group of carolers or cozying with friends and family by the fireplace, nothing celebrates the season like harmonizing to classic Christmas songs. Tune up that yuletide tradition with a twist on the classic favorite Twelve Days of Christmas. Simply write the different parts of the song on slips of paper (“three french hens,” “five golden rings,” etc.) and have each singer draw one. Of course those are the parts they’ll sing during the chorus.) With plenty of other greats to choose from, including Deck the HallsSilent Night, and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, your repertoire will be set for the season.

Favorite Stories

Remember when you were little, how much fun it was to sit in your parent’s lap as theyClassic Christmas Movies, Songs & Stories read The Night Before Christmas to you before bed? Keep that special tradition alive byhaving your little ones cuddle up in your lap as you read their favorite Christmas stories. Perhaps they like The Sweet Smell of Christmas or The Christmas Story. Whichever they choose, spruce up the delivery by adding voices appropriate for each character. It’s a great way to make warm memories with your little snowflake!

Celebrate this Christmas season by taking a snowy stroll down memory lane, or creating new traditions to pass on to generations. Favorite films that bring a smile to your face, sweet-sounding carols, and stories that warm the heart are all a part of what makes Christmas so memorable for those both young and young at heart.

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A Patriotic Christmas eCard

A Patriotic Christmas eCard

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams.” Those are words from a favorite Christmas song for many and they seem so fitting for the 100,000 or so men and women who are still serving their country far from home this holiday season. They, and all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom are the reason we can be together with the rest of our loved ones celebrating this special time of year.

We’re proud to have created this beautiful patriotic design that reminds us that Christmas is more than the hustle and bustle, the twinkle and glow, the presents and parties…it’s about home and love, peace and joy, and hope and faith in each other.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

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Christmas Etiquette

Christmas EtiquetteIt’s Christmas…the season of warmth and cheer! You may find holiday gatherings, parties and potlucks a bit overwhelming at this time of year, but it always helps to remember how much a little thoughtfulness and good manners can add to the season.

Here are a few ideas on keeping the season merry and bright:

Christmas Cards

  • Paper cards should be thoughtfully selected for each recipient, signed personally by your own hand, and genuinely sent with a heartfelt wish.
  • Send your family letters only to the select few on your list who really know you and would appreciate hearing about your accomplishments and how tall your children are now.
  • Be sure to personalize your ecards with a simple, but special message to keep them warm and sincere for the holidays. If you don’t know what to say, click here to see our blog on that very subject!
  • Make sure you match your cards (paper and/or ecards) to your recipients– faith-based sentiments should go to those who would appreciate them. It’s best to stick to general sentiments (“Happy Holidays, etc”) for your non-Christian friends.
  • Make sure humor cards are tasteful and will make someone smile or laugh.
  • Remember that the best cards always come with a simple note, even if it’s just the word “Love” followed by your name.

Christmas Gifts

  • Respect your own budget and select or create gifts that you are genuinely happy to give.
  • Never “re-gift” in the same circle of people to avoid giving someone a gift they gave you the year before.
  • Remember that any gift you give with love is valued and appreciated by others. From cookies you bake to hand-made crafts, the whole idea of gift giving is an expression of genuine love and kindness.
  • Remember that it isn’t necessary to match or “out-give” someone else. You simply need to embrace the truth that it is the thought that counts.
  • If you wonder whether you need a gift for someone, err on the safe side, and give something simple like an ornament or a favorite recipe.
  • Always be grateful to others no matter what you receive expressing smiles, thanks and hugs for their generosity to you.

-Christmas Parties

  • Do take a little gift to the hostess of any party you attend. Holidays are busy for everyone and those who choose to open their homes and hearths to you deserve
    a little extra gratitude.
  • Remember to send a warm note of thanks when the holidays are over to all those people who made your season merry and bright. We’ll have some tips for you about what to say in your notes in our upcoming “Thank You” blog on Dec. 28!
  • Be the best guest possible—offer help where you see a need and don’t overdo the alcohol–being a good guest is part of the joy of any celebration.
Christmas Tipping
  • Although holiday tipping is never required, it’s always appreciated and shows that you’re pleased with the service rendered. Obvioiusly, if you don’t feel it’s deserved, then, by all means, don’t tip.
  • When tipping someone you see on a regular basis (housekeeper, caregiver, manicurist, etc.), you should always include a thank you card or note with a personal message.
  • Again, for those you see on a  regular basis, you should tip what would be considered the cost of one “session.” (If you see the same hairdresser once a month, your tip should be equal to the cost of one appointment.) Nannies, housekeepers, etc. generally receive one week’s pay, while the standard for paperboys, trash collectors, etc, is usually between $10-25.
  • Public servants may not accept cash gifts, so your mail carrier or child’s teacher might appreciate a book, gift certificate, chocolates or perhaps a hand-made gift (as long as the value does not exceed $20.)
  • A good rule of thumb is to use your best judgement on what you tip and to whom. If you’re not certain, check with friends or look online to see what’s standard in your community.
However you celebrate Christmas, share it with love and joy. Remind yourself that there’s a spirit of genuine friendship and community at Christmastime that’s even more special at this time of year. Embrace that spirit and join in the fun. After all, it’s part of what makes this such a happy season!
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Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays!

Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Our wonderful furry friends warm our hearts all year…but even more so when Christmas lights twinkle, fireplaces crackle and the whole world feels like a Norman Rockwell painting. Somehow we’re reminded of bringing our pets home for the first time…the licks, snuggles, paw shakes and playful moments we enjoyed with them as they explored their new surroundings. We rewarded their good behavior, loved them and bonded with them. Now we’re rewarded as they wait patiently by the door to greet us or as they rest contentedly in our laps. The affection they give us never wanes and no matter how we spend the holidays, our pets provide us with the unconditional love and warmth we cherish, year after year.

Great Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers

We can indulge that nostalgia this Christmas by treating our dogs or cats (or other pets as well!) to some yuletide delectables or special toys. The irresistble taste and aroma of the treats will keep them begging for more and the toys will bring them many more hours of happy playtime. Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Or why not treat them to a new collar, bowl or placemat, personalized just for them.

Decorating the tree always brings back fond memories, too. Garland, ornaments, and strands of brightly colored lights turn a plain tree into something truly magical. Hanging personalized pet ornaments Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! is a great way to include the family pet in this celebration…just press Max’s paw into the clay, add his name, bake and hang!

Don’t forget family photos! What holiday photo is complete without the family pet? This year dress Fido or Fluffy with a sprig of holly on their collars or put them in a pet Santa hat to make the moment unforgettable.

Of course, there are so many wonderful pet eCards and gifts for pet owners as well…many that can be personalized with their pet’s photos and names!

For a truly memorable Christmas season…why not adopt or foster a shelter or rescue pet and give it the warm, loving home it longs for. There are so many of these animals that need help and the vast majority of them make wonderful companions. It might be the perfect way to start the new year.

Holidays are where the heart is, and having our pets with us during Christmastime makes it an especially joyful occasion. As we celebrate the season and get involved in the hustle and bustle, let’s remember to make some special time for those furry loved ones who calls our hearts their homes.

Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays! Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays!