To read about the creation and early history of the American Flag, please click on “New Eyes for Old Glory.”
“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”
‑—Leonardo da Vinci
It’s National Hug Your Cat Day, and we know all you cat lovers out there will be showering your feline friends with lots of extra hugs and kisses (as if you needed an excuse!). But what about those of you who have yet to experience the joy of owning
one of these little fur balls yourself? Well, you’re in luck, too. Because June is Adopt-a-Cat Month! Now…what better day to visit a local shelter and bring home your own little bundle of love.
Are You Ready?
If you’re considering adoption, you might want to start with this 10-point checklist from The American Humane Association: http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/programs/special-initiatives/adopt-a-cat-month/
and Animal Planet’s tips for bringing kitty home:http://animal.discovery.com/pets/10-tips-for-bringing-a-new-kitten-home.htm
Both of these resources can help you decide if and when you’re ready to let the fun begin!
Abraham Lincoln once said, “No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.” Those of you who are already cat people know that you don’t always have to look very hard to find a cat – they have a way of finding you! But thanks to the Spring “kitten season,” it’s likely there are plenty of kittens ready and waiting now at one of your local shelters. By entering your zip code on either of these websites, you can view pictures of kittens (as well as adult cats) right in your own neighborhood.http://www.aspca.org/adoption/cats.aspx http://www.petfinder.com/
In addition to all the fun and love cats bring into our lives, there’s strong evidence that hugging your cat is actually healthy for you, reducing stress and depression and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Children who have had cats as pets seem to have a lower incidence of health issues such as respiratory problems and ear infections. But we don’t need science to tell us that there’s nothing quite like coming home to our furry friends to make any day better!
So now you’ve found the purr-fect cat and opened your home and your heart.
Neither one will ever be the same! Your house is now an amusement park of kitty antics. Your laundry basket, a kitty bed. And your favorite spot on the sofa will always be warmed up and waiting for you when you need it. Just make sure you hide the knickknacks. And don’t expect to sit down at your computer without company at the keyboard. Most of all, get ready to be entertained. Every single day. And we can promise you this…you’ll be laughing a whole lot more from now on…and wondering what you ever did without them!
At bluemountain.com, we carry a large selection of pet ecards, featuring cats and other fun and lovable animals for lots of different occasions, from talking birthday ecards–for our human friends–to sympathy ecards for our beloved furry friends.
May is National Barbeque Month, so it’s time to tie on that apron and fire up that grill! Whether it’s hot dogs and hamburgers, a juicy steak, or mouth-watering shish kabobs skewering all of your favorites, here are some tasty recipes and creative ways to add some finger-licking fun to any cookout!
Location, Location, Location!
Potluck / Block Party
Turn your barbeque into a savory smorgasbord! Pick a bright, sunny afternoon, invite friends and neighbors to bring whatever whets their appetite, and swap recipes as you sink your teeth into plenty of great eating. Not to mention, when the party comes to a close, cleanup will be a snap as everyone takes their serving dishes home. Save Mom some kitchen sink time and serve everything on paper plates.
Beach Barbeque / Park It!
Another fun option—barbequing on the beach. Not only is it a relaxing way to enjoy your feast while you take in the cool lake or ocean breezes, but putting out the fire is easy: just add sand!
Don’t forget, many parks come equipped with built-in grills, too—just add charcoal or other kindling. Plus, picnic tables make it easy to spread out all of the goodies. Just be sure to bring plenty of supplies like barbeque sauce brushes, serving forks and tongs.
Great Grilling Recipes
Tantalize your taste buds with some of these lip-smackers that are sure to fire up any cookout:
Shish kabobs: Whether it’s steak, chicken, seafood, or going green on the grill with veggies from the garden, kabobs are always a fun way to make the most of your barbeque! These recipes from the Food Network give you the basic ingredients for different kabobs and are great inspiration for creating your own!http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bob-blumer/build-your-own-shish-kabobs-recipe/index.html
Savory Sides: From grilled corn and baked beans to onion rings and mashed potatoes, nothing beats a tasty side grilled to perfection and these recipes from the National Barbecue Association will make your mouth water just reading about them! Mac-n-cheese is another quick recipe that’s easy to make and serves as the perfect complement to any cookout cuisine.http://nbbqa.org/recipes-sides-appetizers
Save the Smoke: Just because the fire’s gone out doesn’t mean the fun has to end. While the grill is still warm, why not roast some marshmallows to make smores for this tasty dessert recipe from Mr. Food. Looking for a fun and healthy alternative? Another great dessert recipe, from the National Barbecue Association, Grilled chocolate bananas are sure-fire way to satisfy your sweet tooth!http://www.mrfood.com/Misc-Desserts/Smores-on-the-Grill# http://nbbqa.org/recipes-desserts
Raiding the Pantry: There are all sorts of fun ways to indulge your grilling appetites, even during the off-season. Miss those seasoned burgers and want to taste the flavor? Stock-pile some of your favorite barbecue sauces or even some cup-a-soups you can mix into the hamburger patties before cooking on an indoor griller. It’s a great way to add extra flavor to a cookout classic.
Stocking up for Next Season:
For some, it’s Barbecue Season year ’round, but for many, the season ends with the first flurries of snow. But it’s never too early or late to fill up the freezer for next season. Keep an eye out for when your favorites—steaks, chicken, seafood, and other extras—go on sale. Your taste buds will definitely thank you for it!
The bicycle is a simple solution
to some of the world’s most complicated problems.
May 13th marks the beginning of National Bike Week. It’s the time to get outdoors, get some exercise, and trade in gas for something greener! Besides the fun and fellowship of other cyclists, here are a few of the many benefits to getting your bike in gear.
Bicycling helps reduce the chances of obesity and diabetes, as well as high blood pressure, and improves overall cardio-vascular fitness. It doesn’t take much to help maintain good health, either—only 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise. Not to mention, it can help reduce health care costs in the long term as well.
No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.
With most children driven to school by bus or car and a lack of exercise in their daily regimen, bicycling is a great way for kids to get fit everyday. Just make sure they have locks and cables to keep their bikes safe.
Auto emissions are the largest contributor to U.S. air pollution, with shorter rides as the main culprit. Help save Mother Earth and go green by biking that route instead. The money you save on gas can really add up nicely for any rainy days ahead.
Nothing beats peddling with a pal! Cycling with a friend has several advantages: You motivate each other, take breaks together, and keep track of your mileage together. Simply put, biking is more fun with a buddy!
Re-Cycling Moms: Tikes and Bikes
With parents doing housework and childcare duties in a more eco-friendly manner, many are adapting biking set-ups to cover their daily routines with their kids. Child seats for bicycles are a great way to do just that. Don’t forget bike helmets for everyone on board! Visit your local bike shop to find the most comfortable, safe seat and helmet for you and your little ones. You’ll be taking care of your family as well as the environment.
Bike-to-Work Day is Friday, May 17. As motivated employees embark on their bike routes to work, here are a few things they should keep in mind:
- Biking to work improves company morale
- It saves on gas—the Earth and your wallet will thank you!
- It helps foster teamwork
- Employees who bike to work are healthier physically and mentally, more alert, and more productive, and use fewer sick days.
- Bikes are easier to store and can maneuver around traffic. Just stay safe for yourself and those around you!
Be sure to check out the following guide for other awesome biking ideas, too!
Re-Cycling Moms: Tikes and Bikes: http://blog.bikeleague.org/blog/2013/04/women-bike-webinar-getting-more-moms-and-families-on-bikes/
Bike-to-Work Day: http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/
This year, in celebration of Mother’s Day and moms everywhere, Blue Mountain has partnered with 10 important and deserving non-profit organizations that support women-related causes. Help us spread the love and raise awareness for the health and well-being of mothers and children around the world by celebrating with us and sending or sharing these touching holiday ecards from the following organizations:
Clicking on the image above will direct you to the page at bluemountain.com that showcases each organization’s mission and their individual postcard design that you
Happy Mother’s Day!
A truly special teacher is very wise,
and sees tomorrow in every child’s eyes.
Do you remember your favorite teacher from grade school, high school, or even college? Can you give credit to a teacher who influenced you or your child…or one who helped you or your children discover new directions and paths in your lives? If you can, then you know that teachers deserve more recognition and appreciation than they ever receive. After all, teachers help shape the people who shape the world.
May 7th is National Teachers Day and it occurs on the Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation week. It’s the perfect time to give back to special teachers in your life. In addition to sending a card or a kind note, you might consider one or more of the following throughout the school year:
- Consider supporting an import classroom project or goal
- Volunteer your time
- Donate to a cause the school or teacher supports
- Participate in or support bake sales and school fundraisers
- If you have kids in school, keep them engaged in their studies
and their classroom activities
- Attend open houses and teacher-parent conferences
- Help pass school levies. They’re not just good for the schools
and the teachers, they’re good for the community as well
- Offer to help with classroom basics
When you give your support, teachers don’t feel alone in their endeavors to help our children. Nor will they have to personally take on all the burden of paying for children who can’t afford lunch or those who don’t have enough money for a gym suit. Teachers spend nearly $1.5 billion annually of their own money on school supplies, covering the basics so that every child has the same opportunity to learn and grow. Statistically, 91% of teachers buy basic school supplies for their classrooms!
Teachers do a heroic job of stimulating kids to think on their own…helping them to achieve a sense of satisfaction in a job well done, and cultivating and nurturing the dreams of the students who will lead us into tomorrow. Children may only be one-third of our population today, but they are one hundred percent of our future. Teachers give these children, and us, a chance to strive for a better tomorrow and a stronger humanity.
A Big Thank You
National Teachers Day is an opportunity for you and your kids to thank the ones who taught you to love certain subjects, to help you think for yourself, and to become the person you were meant to be. After all, a teacher made it possible for you to read this blog today. Thanks to teachers everywhere! We honor and appreciate them!
It’s That Day, Again!
Every April 15th (barring weekends), America’s tax season comes to a close. As millions postmark their paperwork, file their taxes online, and make big plans for their refunds, let’s take a moment to explore the history of the day Uncle Sam comes calling and how it evolved over time.
Lincoln, the Civil War, and the Revenue Act
Signed into law by President Lincoln on August 5, 1861, as a means to finance the Civil War, the Revenue Act was the United States’ first federal income tax. Levying the earnings of anyone making at least $800 a year, the measure operated on a graduated scale, imposing the tax on gains from employment, property, imported goods, and vocation.
Over the decades, income taxes would be repealed, then later revived and collected on whatever industries were thriving, such as tobacco and alcohol in 1868. In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court even deemed income taxes unconstitutional because they weren’t proportionate to the states’ populations. It wasn’t until the Corporate Tax Act was introduced by Congress in 1909, later modified into the 16th Amendment and ratified in 1913, that the U.S. tax system we know today was put in place.
Tax Date Shuffle
Originally scheduled on March 1, 1914, approximately one year after the amendment was adopted, Tax Day shifted to March 15th in 1918, then to April 15th in 1955. Although speculation as to why this happened is widespread, it’s believed that the date was moved to accommodate for the intense IRS employee workload. Some have wondered, however, if a possible reason is the increased interest the government can earn when certain taxes are withheld longer and refunds issued later.
- Invest for retirement
- Save for a rainy day
- Pay down debt
- Donate to charity
- Broaden your career skills
- Take that dream vacation
- Weekend shopping spree
- Cup of coffee
Celebrate World Health Day!
Founding and 2013 Theme
When the United Nations was established in 1945, founders felt it necessary to create an internal organization that would continue the important health services offered during both World Wars. On April 7, 1948, the World Health Organization began that mission. During the First World Health Assembly that same year, many felt a day commemorating the founding of the organization and bringing greater awareness of health concerns to the world would be appropriate. On April 7, 1950, World Health Day was born. Known as a day of global observance rather than a public holiday, this year’s theme is hypertension.
Monitoring Your Blood Pressure
In keeping with 2013’s theme, here is some information about hypertension and ways you can control your blood pressure:
- Nearly 1 billion people have hypertension worldwide; two-thirds of whom live in developing nations.
- Men run a higher risk than women of developing hypertension; a family history of high blood pressure can further increase the likelihood.
- Age plays a role, with those in their 50s having five times the risk compared to those in their 20s and 30s.
- Known as the “silent killer” due to the lack of warning signs and symptoms, high blood pressure is the leading, but preventable, cause of cardiovascular disease worldwide.
- Hypertension is known to complicate other types of diseases such as diabetes.
- Other risk factors for hypertension include: obesity, kidney disease, and consuming large quantities of alcohol.
Ways to Control It:
- Exercise, exercise, exercise!
- Eat healthy and avoid sodium
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Say “no” to tobacco products
- Reduce your caffeine intake
- Find ways to relax and avoid stress
- Get regular blood pressure check-ups with your doctor
Here’s To Your Health—Activities You Can Enjoy!
Here is a list of activities to consider on World Health Day in helping to promote a healthy lifestyle:
- Attend a local health conference or fair.
- Start a health workshop in your area.
- Set up a variety of contests surrounding health for kids with prizes for all participants.
- Create healthy games and exercise activities
- Make fliers and pamphlets with fun trivia and health information to hand out in your neighborhood.
- Coordinate blood pressure screenings with health professionals in your area.
- Help promote a healthy diet by organizing a buffet of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious delicacies, and distribute easy and delicious recipes that reflect healthy eating habits.
- If your city has a website, ask if you can advertise any local World Health Day events.
In keeping with the spirit of good health, remember to pass long these helpful tips and encourage others to do the same. Your heart will thank you, and so will others!
Don’t forget…2:00 AM Sunday March 10, marks the beginning of Daylight Saving time, which will end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 3, giving everyone those additional daylight hours they look forward to after these long wintry months!
So hope you remember to set your clocks forward an hour and that you enjoy the extra daylight time now through fall!
If you’re reading this from China, Armenia, Mongolia, or one of many countries that honor International Women’s 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 women 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 (Kiva.org/women 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 to 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.”
For more information on International Women’s Day, please click on the IWD logo above.photo credits: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/