post

Be an Angel Day

Be an Angel Day “Thank heaven for angels who help us fly when our wings are too tired.”

Today marks “Be an Angel Day,” which celebrates making the world a better place through acts of kindness, care and support. It’s pretty fitting that this day falls within national friendship week because we all know that friends are angels in disguise.

Anyone can be an Angel, and sometimes just a smile can lighten the heaviest heart. Here are some simple things that anyone can do to brighten someone’s day.

  • Call someone you have not talked to in a long time, and spend some time catching up.
  • Let go of old hurts and practice forgiveness in all your relationships.
  • Bake some cookies, or make a meal and invite your neighbors over.
  • Help out your older neighbors by grocery shopping, or taking out their trash.
  • Invite an unemployed friend to share in a special dinner or function and take care of the cost.
  • Send a card just because. It’s sure to brighten someone’s day to know they are being though about.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank.
  • Offer to babysit for a couple so they can share a night out.
  • Donate money or goods to a local charity.
  • Call an old friend and catch up with an ol’ fashion gab session.
Be an Angel Day Be an Angel Day Be an Angel Day Be an Angel Day Be an Angel Day Be an Angel Day

post

RAMADAN (7.9)

RAMADAN  (7.9)

Sunrise to Sunset

Throughout the next 30 days, over 1.5 billion people around the world will be observing Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, with adults fasting and praying from sunrise to sunset.

In North America this year, Ramadan begins at sunset on July 9, but there are some years when it falls in the middle of winter! This is because, for those who don’t follow an Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a moving holiday that shifts about ten days every year based on date of the new moon. Despite the changing dates, the strong traditions of Ramadan remain the same: there is fasting, prayer and the practice of selflessness.

Fasting and Other Traditions

Fasting is one the Five Pillars of the Islam religion and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. For Muslims, it’s a way to sacrifice earthly pleasures, share the sufferings of the less fortunate and more deeply appreciate the bounties of Allah. Only adults are expected to fast, but children enjoy the other traditions including the excitement of sighting the moon and sharing special meals.

A typical day of Ramadan begins just before sunrise with a meal called Sahur, followed by the first of five prayers, which are offered all day long. And then the fast begins. Throughout the day, Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. In fact, some people are so enthusiastic about helping others during this month, they barely have time for themselves.  But since Muslims believe they will be rewarded more than 70 times over for good deeds during Ramadan, this is well worth the effort. At the end of each day, the fast is broken at sunset, often with social dinners or “lftar parties.” And then remainder of five prayers is offered, usually at a Mosque.

Eid-ul-Fitr

The month of Ramadan ends with a festive celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr (commonly called “Eid”) which often lasts three full days.  Muslims get together with family and friends, share gifts and eat delicious dinners. Or they take a short vacation…before patiently waiting for the next year.

Overall, Ramadan is a very special time of brotherhood and customs that brings about a feeling of closeness, community and religious commitment, which is a wonderful experience for Muslims of all ages around the world.

RAMADAN  (7.9)RAMADAN  (7.9)RAMADAN  (7.9)RAMADAN  (7.9)RAMADAN  (7.9)RAMADAN  (7.9)

post

CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH

CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH

 

A Little History…

Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed many African Americans, slavery itself wasn’t abolished altogether. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, declared the end of the Civil War, and read aloud General Orders, No. 3, that all slaves were freed, creating a ripple effect across the country in what has become known as Juneteenth.

Celebrated the following year, in 1866, Juneteenth became a day similar in festivities
to the Fourth of July, with prayer services, inspirational speakers, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and merrymaking which included food and drink, dancing, storytelling, and other exciting events.

 Celebration Ideas:

Here are a few ideas to jump start your Juneteenth celebration, both in educational and entertaining ways:

Host a day-at-work seminar: Invite guest speakers knowledgeable of Juneteenth
and its timeline to talk to your company’s employees in order to familiarize them with
the observance and its meaning. Create a theme and post your company’s involvement
on its web site.

Community involvement: Organize events at your local schools and libraries. Create interactive displays that can educate participants on the origin of Juneteenth and its evolution, and ask local businesses to sponsor these events.

Plan a picnic: Land in parts of Texas purchased by ex-slaves, known as “emancipation grounds,” was later turned into Emancipation Parks in such areas as Houston, East Austin, and now Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia, Texas. Host your own outdoor gathering with food and festivities to celebrate the day.

Contact Congress: Although it was made an official holiday in the state of Texas on January 1, 1980, Juneteenth has yet to receive national recognition. Several U.S. Senators, public officials, and other outspoken individuals have been working to ensure that Juneteenth becomes an officially recognized national holiday, similar to Patriot Day or Flag Day. Show your appreciation for these men and women by contacting them and supporting their efforts.

CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH

post

A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE

This Memorial Day, as we honor our fallen men and women in uniform who have served since America’s birth, let us take a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom for all.

The following poem pays tribute to those who have given their lives so that others may pursue America’s great promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE

Fallen For Freedom

With every fallen hero,
And every sacrifice,
Each man and woman serving
Knows freedom has its price.

As stars and stripes fly higher
Over lands, both far and near,
New generations take the pledge
To protect what we hold dear.

And should that mean they offer up
Their lives for liberty
Their sacrifice is not in vain—
For freedom isn’t free

And so today we honor those
Who have been laid to rest—
Remembering that these brave souls
Gave better than their best.

~Brian MacDougall

 

A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTEA MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTEA MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTEA MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTEA MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTEA MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE

post

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH

The Academy of American Poets created National Poetry Month in 1996 to build awareness of the rich heritage of classic and contemporary poets and poems and their impact on our culture. Celebrated by bookstores, libraries, schools, and bloggers, the hope is that more of us will become aware of the joys of poetry.  Celebrated Poet, Billy Collins, wrote this somewhat humorous piece about our desires to understand poetry.

“Introduction to Poetry”

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with a rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

~Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States 2001-2003

Billy Collins writes, teaches, and inspires all of us with his gifts of poetry. From Shakespeare to Milton to Dr. Seuss, we have a long and diverse heritage in the art form
of poetry.

So, what can you do to honor and participate in National Poetry Month? How about carrying a poem in your pocket? You could either write a piece yourself and share it with others, or you can find a poem from one of your favorite classics and sit with it, enjoy its mood and intention, and write it in a card to give a friend.

Look for poems on themes that make you happy. Poems exist on every subject imaginable. Find a good poem on love, or marriage or raising children and then write it down in your journal or on a note card and post it on the refrigerator.

Look for poetry books at local bookstores or visit websites. Encourage people in your family to try their hand at writing a poem, perhaps about a favorite pet or cooking dinner together. Any topic that brings a new light on the everyday moments can be fun to share.

Be more intentional about reading poetry newsletters, writing reviews, or letting publishers know that you appreciate the genre of poetry and want to see more books on the subject. Let a poem walk through your mind, do a little dance, and give you some new insights today.

 

NATIONAL POETRY MONTHNATIONAL POETRY MONTHNATIONAL POETRY MONTHNATIONAL POETRY MONTHNATIONAL POETRY MONTHNATIONAL POETRY MONTH

post

PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner

PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner

The Seder Dinner

Got matzah? That’s a good start in preparing for Passover, which begins at sundown Monday, March 25, and continues through Tuesday, April 2, this year. But many other additional foods and items are needed to perform a Seder (meaning “order” in Hebrew), the annual ceremonial dinner held on the first two nights of the holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt.

 The Seder Plate

The focus of the Seder table is the Seder plate, which can range from a laminated preschooler’s Passover art project to elegant glass, silver, ceramic, or metal interpretations. http://www.moderntribe.com/judaica/passover_store/seder_plates_store

All Seder plates must feature areas for particular, required religious symbols that include:

  • a green vegetable (to be dipped in saltwater reminiscent of the tears
    shed in slavery)
  • roasted shank bone or poultry neck (representing the sacrificial lamb)
  • hard-boiled egg (a sign of mourning)
  • charoset (a mixture of apples, nuts, and wine resembling the mortar
    used by slaves to build Egyptian structures)
  • bitter herbs (often horseradish, as a reminder of how harsh life in
    servitude was)
  • a bitter vegetable (often romaine lettuce, which has bitter roots —
    another sign of how difficult living in captivity was)

These icons remain on the Seder plate while portions of certain symbols are set out on the table for all to eat at times specified as the Seder progresses.

Seder Readings

Throughout the Seder, each participant reads from a Haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”), a booklet of the Seder blessings, Exodus story, and Passover songs in a specific order. The basic content is the same, but all kinds of Haggadahs are available to present it. http://passoverhaggadah.com/

The Four Cups and Matzah

Along with consuming the ritualistic foods and then a full dinner, each person drinks four glasses of wine, celebrating freedom and four aspects of God redeeming the Jewish people. The Seder ceremony ends with the eating of the afikoman, a portion of matzah that has been hidden and found during the evening in a fun effort to involve the children. This matzah is eaten last, after dessert, so that the ‘taste’ of the Seder ceremony remains with participants.

 Other Traditions

Although age-old traditions provide the framework of the Seder, contemporary variations can bring personal relevance to the event. Some people include an orange among the Seder foods, honoring the fruitful role women and homosexuals play in Jewish life. Others place an olive on the Seder plate to signal hope for world peace. Vegetarians replace the shank bone with a roasted beet. No matter how the ritualistic symbols are displayed or interpreted at the Seder, they are indeed food for thought on this very special holiday.

For delicious charoset recipes, go to http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/passover/charosetrecipes

Visit bluemountain.com to see a large selection of Passover and other holiday, birthday and non-occasion ecards. To send the Passover card shown, click here or on the image above.

PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner PASSOVER: The Seder Dinner

post

PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week

PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week

Christians around the world receive palm fronds today in many churches to symbolize the palms that were waved at Jesus and were laid in his path as he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection.

Referred to in many churches as Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday falls the week prior to Easter and marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Psalms 118:26

PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week  PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week  PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week  PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week  PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week  PALM SUNDAY: The Beginning of Holy Week

post

WHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood Board

WHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood Board

The warmest thoughts come with Springtime…of sunshine, blue skies, warm breezes, and dancing butterflies. It’s a time for long walks, meandering bike rides, and opening up the house to let in the freshness of the cool spring air, which is filled with the sounds of children finding their way outdoors again and lawnmowers humming along on Saturday mornings.

It’s a time for putting away the heavy sweaters and bringing out the tees, trading snow shovels for garden hoses, woolen hats for umbrellas, boots for tennis shoes, and roasts from the oven for hamburgers on the grill.

There’s fishing to do, baseball to play, wooded paths to hike, books to read, hammocks to hang, naps to take, and swings that have sat quietly for far too long.

It’s Springtime…what makes yours special?

In the mood board: “Day Brightener Postcard” from bluemountain.com

 

 

 

WHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood BoardWHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood BoardWHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood BoardWHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood BoardWHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood BoardWHAT TO DO IN SPRING: Mood Board

post

CELEBRATING SPRING!

CELEBRATING SPRING!

Ah, springtime! Something in its name gives us hope. We can literally see the barren earth come back to life. The faded grasses turn green again and daffodils, those ambassadors of sunshine, dot the landscape.

March 20 brings new life to our spirits as we are awakened by the Vernal Equinox and the sun begins to shine more brilliantly on our upturned faces. As it begins to melt our cares and woes, we’re touched by its magical warmth. It gently persuades us to release the bonds of winter and to usher in the newness of spring.

How can you bring that feeling into your life right now? Well here are a few ways to add a little bit of springtime to your heart and home today…

  • CELEBRATING SPRING!      Take a good walk and breathe in the fresh air. Remind yourself of those things that make you feel strong and energized and make a plan to pursue more of those things in the weeks ahead.
  • While you’re out there, wander around the outside of the house and see if there’s a good spot for a flowering potted plant or a new bush that will brighten the landscape.
  • Get out those plant magazines, or visit a local greenhouse and start making plans for a little herb garden or a potted plant bearing fruit or simple flowers. (You’ll really be glad you did.)
  • If it looks like winter will not be leaving your neighborhood for a few more weeks, then inspire yourself with the home magazines that abound with ideas to refresh and renew your home and spirit.
  • Of course, the proverbial spring cleaning is one that always makes you feel refreshed and renewed as you give good stuff away to Good Will or other organizations and make room for the things that are really important to you. Get the whole family to help you “lighten up.”
  • CELEBRATING SPRING!      Bring some springtime color inside. Change out the pillows on the sofa or your bed and add a splash of color with flowers or birds and butterflies.
  • Put away the darker shades of winter in your candle and accessories collection and find a few vibrant shades in yellows, pinks, and blues to lighten up your home in a fresh way.
  • Send a happy little note for Easter or Spring to your friends and family, via bluemountain.com. Share a smiling face, a chirping bird, or some other budding bit of joy and let them know you’re thinking of them at this happy time of year.

The best part of spring is that it offers the opportunity to take advantage of all the things that make us feel alive and well. Little touches of color, thoughtful cards and notes to friends, planting seeds of hope…these are the things that bring more sunshine into our lives. The sun of the Vernal Equinox is not just on the equator–it also fills our hearts. Happy Spring!

 

CELEBRATING SPRING!      CELEBRATING SPRING!      CELEBRATING SPRING!      CELEBRATING SPRING!      CELEBRATING SPRING!      CELEBRATING SPRING!