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.




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.



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






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.




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.

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.

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

Visit 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.



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





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








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…

  • treeTake 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.”
  • butterflyBring 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 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!





happy stpat“Luck o’ the Irish to ye!” We’ve all heard that phrase countless times. But have you ever wondered why Irish lads and lasses are known as the lucky ones? Like many Irish sayings, those lighthearted words actually have a deeper meaning.

While the “luck of the Irish” currently refers to good fortune, the phrase wasn’t exactly complimentary when it originated during the 1800s gold rush in America. Many prosperous miners were Irish, so the “luck of the Irish” carried a bit of a dark or jealous tone, as if to say their success was simply a lucky break. Still, Irish eyes were smiling all the way to the bank—and, as we see on St. Patrick’s Day, their celebratory spirit hasn’t been broken.

Maybe that’s because the Irish know that the true treasures in life have nothing to do with gold. Love, friendship, happiness and peace are the most common themes of Irish toasts and blessings. However, as in the “lucky” expression above, some of their favorite sayings aren’t always as simple as they seem.

Here are some interesting classics…

“A guest should be blind in another man’s house.”
(A grateful guest would never talk ill
about how a host runs his household.)

“Put silk on a goat, and it’s still a goat.
(Even if you disguise the truth, it’s still a lie.)

“As the big hound is, so will the pup be.”
(Like father, like son)

“Never dance in a small boat.”
(Don’t tempt fate.)

“Here’s to your coffin. May it be built of 100-year oaks which I will plant tomorrow.”
(May you live a hundred more years!)

 A few favorites…


“There are good ships, and there are wood ships, and ships that sail the sea.
But the best ships are friendships and may they always be.”

“I have known many, liked not a few, loved only one, so this toast is for you.”

 And one last blessing with an interesting twist (literally):

May those who love us, love us.
And for those who don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he can not turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we may know them by their limping.
May you live as long as you want,
and never want as long as you live.



03082013_woman_american_greetingsIf you’re reading this from China, Armenia, Mongolia, or one of many countries that honor International Womens Day (IWD) as a national holiday, enjoy your day off! Yes, it’s that big of a deal in some areas of the world…while many others are still struggling to attain what IWD was originally created to do—advocate equal rights for women.

Fortunately, thanks to historical strides like the 15,000 women03082013_astronaut_american_greetings who marched through New York in 1908, demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights, IWD is predominantly a celebration of women. This year, all over the world, there will be theatrical performances, poetry readings, songs, films and visual arts shows honoring and celebrating women and their accomplishments. And since it was founded in 1910 (by Clara Zetken, Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Economic Party in Germany), the amazing achievements of women continue to soar—
from becoming powerful political leaders to billionaire entrepreneurs (Spanx anyone?).


Whether you acknowledge IWD by donating to a cause ( helps women obtain loans and invest in their futures), putting on red lipstick for the Rock the Lips campaign “to help women around the world create better lives,” or simply by appreciating the amazing women in your own life, this is a day of motivation and inspiration for everyone. IWD reminds us that we are all capable of reaching higher, doing better and making a positive difference in the world, regardless of our gender.

While IWD can be acknowledged with flowers (the symbol of the day) or free cupcakes (in England), many people view it as an opportunity 03082013_bridge_american_greetingsto improve lives—not just for women, but for the world. The “Join Me on the Bridge” campaign for women’s equality started with Rwandan and Congolese women meeting on a bridge to join their two countries to demonstrate that women could build bridges of peace. This year, women will march on bridges in London, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto and New York.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

~Gloria Steinem

For more information on International Women’s Day, please click on the IWD logo above.

 photo credits: