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Celebrating “Take Your Dog to Work Day.”

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Ask any pet owner and they’ll tell you—their pets are their family. Our lovable fur babies are like our children, and we love them, and spoil them, to our hearts content. Wanting to take them with us wherever we go is natural, which is why we’re all excited here at Blue Mountain this week because this Friday, June 20th we’re bringing our sweet pups to work with us for Take Your Dog to Work Day.

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Our Senior Editor, Liza McNamara, was kind enough to share some photos from last year’s Take Your Dog to Work Day with you. As you can see, her Old English Sheepdog, Malachi (pronounced Mal-uh-kī), kept things running smoothly around here:

If you’re not familiar with Take Your Dog to Work Day here are some quick facts:

  • Pet Sitters International (PSI) created Take Your Dog To Work Day in 1999 to celebrate the great companions dogs make and encourage adoption from shelters, rescue groups, and humane societies.
  • TYDTWDay encourages employers to experience the joy of pets in the workplace and support their local pet community.
  • This annual event is always celebrated on the Friday following Father’s Day.
  • For cat lovers (and other pets) who cannot participate on TYDTWDay, the entire week leading up to the event, June 16-20, is Take Your Pet To Work Week™.

Not only are we so grateful that we’re able to bring our favorite pals to work with us, but, as animal lovers, we’re happy because the day raises awareness for homeless dogs and is a way to educate people in the company about homeless animal statistics. Plus, it highlights the benefits of pet ownership and the important role pets play in the lives of employees.

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Malachi also won a handsome bag in our raffle, which made him so happy because he knew it would be pawsitively purrfect for his mom to carry a whole lotta’ treats in. The bag reads, “Life is better with a dog.” We couldn’t agree more!

As you can see by these photos, we at Blue Mountain love our animals to the moon and back, and relish any opportunity to have them by our side. If you’re lucky enough to have a pet of your own to love, or had one in the past, then you know how life-transforming they are and the endless joy and amazing unconditional love they give each and every day. How little they ask from us—a belly scratch, a soft bed, a supper dish…and ultimately, love. So often when we adopt or rescue pets, we may think at first we’re changing their lives when the truth is—they’re changing ours.

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.
Here’s a group shot of some of the employees and their lovable pup pals, who participated in Take Your Dog to Work Day last year.

Give your pets a hug from all of us here at Blue Mountain, and if you’re thinking of rescuing a pet, we urge you to take that step and open that door…and let love walk right into your heart.

 

 

Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day.

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Brighten Someone’s Day!

Brighten Someones Day!

Hello, Blue Mountain Friends,

Well, here we are, knee deep in summer!  Isn’t it wonderful?  Like the fireflies that we caught as children, we can release our happy summertime memories and let them light up our days.  Running through the sprinkler, chasing the ice cream truck, or just hanging out with friends, summer was always an enchanting time.  It’s great to celebrate the big events in our lives, but sometimes it’s fun just to appreciate the magic of ordinary moments.

What little things make your day now?  Enjoying summer pleasures with your children or grandchildren?  Baking a cake that turns out just right?  Discovering that the bunnies didn’t eat your petunias?  Finding your lost glasses on your head?   Hearing from an old friend?

Why not be the old friend who lights up someone’s day with an unexpected card?  Here at Blue Mountain, we’ve created a new line of cards for you called “Brighten Someone’s Day,” because that’s just what they do.  From their fresh and cheery art looks to their warm and engaging words, these cards are designed to build more meaningful connections with the people who matter most to you.

Today is a perfect day to tell your friends how special they are, share a happy memory, send a surprise love note,  show your gratitude, or say “hi” to someone–just because.  We hope you’ll take a moment and choose a card to Brighten Someone’s Day.  You never know how much the smile you send can mean to someone today.

Caroline Leech _ Senior Editor
Brighten Someones Day!

Brighten Someones Day!Brighten Someones Day!Brighten Someones Day!Brighten Someones Day!Brighten Someones Day!Brighten Someones Day!

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Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)
Now that we’ve discussed the beauty and impact of generosity and thoughtfulness towards one another in “Random Acts of Kindness: Part 1,” let’s see how we can actually put this lovely concept into motion and make it come to life.

There are a few different ways to do this. You can initiate the act. Or you could perform an act in response to a kind act bestowed on you (which is called “paying it forward”). You could do something nice for your friends and family. Or you could do something nice for strangers. But regardless of which way you do it and to whom, the most important thing is that you do it without any expectation of reward. These are totally selfless acts that are certain to bring you immense satisfaction and pleasure.

We also want to emphasize that these acts do NOT necessarily require large sums of money or a lot of effort. Even the smallest gestures—as long as they’re performed sincerely and without an expectation of recognition or acknowledgement —can result in the greatest happiness.

We’d now love to share a few ideas with you for FREE acts of kindness:

  • Smile broadly and genuinely at someone who passes you by.
  • Hold the door (or elevator) open for the person behind you.
  • Let someone who’s in a rush cut ahead of you in line.
  • Visit a nursing home.
  • Give a sincere compliment to someone who looks like they could use one.
  • Share magazines you’ve already read with co-workers, friends, etc.
  • Bring in your neighbor’s trash cans.
  • Share extra produce from your garden with someone in need.
  • Write a letter to someone who has made a difference in your life.
  • Send someone an eCard (like this free one from Blue Mountain) for no special reason at all.

And here are some ideas for LOW-COST acts of kindness:

  • Leave a heftier tip than usual for your waiter or waitress.
  • Bring a meal to someone who just had a baby or other major life event.
  • Buy a candy bar (or magazine subscription, etc.) that a neighbor child is selling for a fundraiser.
  • Bring donuts or other delicious treat to work.
  • Put lots of pennies on the sidewalk for kids to find.
  • Pay for someone’s coffee.
  • Leave your change behind in a vending machine.
  • Buy an extra ticket and take someone to an event (e.g., movie, concert, ball game).
  • Send a care package to a soldier.

And as a small gift from us to you, we’ve designed a FREE printable that you can download today and give to anyone you choose. It includes 6 different cards that you can fill out and leave anonymously. Look at these cards as your chance to make someone’s day just a little bit brighter!

To download these free printable coupons, simply click on the image, and once the new page opens, right click to print or save the image to your computer.

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

And if you’re wondering exactly how the friendly folks at Blue Mountain use these printables to show each other we care, here’s how (along with the recipients’ feedback):

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

 

 

 

Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)Random Acts of Kindness: Part II (FREE printable)

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Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)
A smile from a stranger…a hug out of nowhere from your child, friend, or family member… a card received in the mail “just because.” These seemingly small gestures aren’t small at all. In fact, they have the power to turn a day completely around, change an outlook, and move the spirit. Science has even shown that being kind can make a real difference in the well-being and health of individuals who practice it and receive it. Another added plus—it’s contagious. Kindness spurs kindness; a single act can influence dozens more.

Random acts of kindness and “paying it forward” have been picking up steam lately
and trending in social media. It may be due to the fact that, while we weren’t looking,
the world took a turn for the worse and seemingly appeared less kind. Children hurting
and bullying children, innocent people gunned-down at the mall, and sweet animals living
at the mercy of cruel hands have all played into this dark cloud sweeping through our daily
lives. Well, take heart—the sun is rising on a new day and the world is picking itself back
up again. People are noticing and making an effort to put kindness back at the top of their list.

While stuck in an elevator, a boy makes a human chair out of himself to allow an elderly lady to sit down while they wait for help…a baseball team adopts a lonely stray pup that wandered onto their field, and made him the team mascot now loved by millions…a stranger pays for a woman’s breakfast “just because he wanted to,”…a wallet is found in the gutter and mailed back to the out-of-town owner… across the nation, people are pulling up to drive-thru windows only to find out that the person before them has already paid for their order. Kindness is catching, and all of us here at Blue Mountain couldn’t be more thrilled because our work is dedicated to helping people connect with others and be lifted up and cared about. You never know what someone else’s struggles may be, and you probably aren’t aware of the immense power your smile and kind words possess, or how your simple gesture can turn a day, or even a life, around. It’s truly magical, and this popular poem is a heartfelt reminder of how one simple act can grow and multiply.

We’d like you to join us in sharing and spreading kindness, so we do hope you will visit us again later this week when we’ll share Part II of this post and give you some ideas (along with some free gifts) of how you can join the kindness journey. Until then, please enjoy this free downloadable wallpaper which is a thoughtful reminder that you have the power within you to make an extraordinary, beautiful difference. To set as your desktop back ground simply click the image, and when the new window appears, right click and choose “set as background.”

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

Anthropologist Margaret Mead once remarked, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” From the kindnesses happening in the world right now, it gladdens our hearts to tell you—she was right.

Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)Random Acts of Kindness Part I (FREE desktop background)

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Renewing Connections with Family (part II)

Renewing Connections with Family (part II)
In our previous post, we talked about ways to reignite friendships that may have gone by the wayside. In this, our second post focused on renewing connections, we’d like to share some ideas around connecting with family members. It’s so easy these days to let time get away from us until we realize that it’s been weeks, or even months, since we last chatted with, or spent time with, our own family. Especially this past winter, when we were all burrowed in our houses and not going out for days at a time.  Well, spring is now upon us and it’s the perfect time for getting back some of that quality time that old man winter stole from us. To get you started, we’ve compiled a few simple ideas you might like to try.

Breaking the ice.
If there are some family members you haven’t connected with in a while, don’t let it overwhelm you. Pick one, and then reach out with a phone call, send an email or an ecard, or write and send a personal note. You don’t have to say a lot, you can simply tell them, “I miss you,” “I’ve been thinking of you,” or even, “How ‘bout that winter? Would love to catch up with you soon.”  To help make it easy for you, we’ve got many eCards and printable cards at bluemountain.com that will bring a smile to the face of anyone you send them to. If you’d like to write your own message, you can use our online stationery, too. Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is just a few short weeks away, so it’s the perfect time to schedule an eCard, write a special letter, or make a phone call to make plans with your mom, grandmother, sister, aunt, or cousin and share in their special day.  No matter which way you choose to connect with your family, the thoughtful act of reaching out is the first step.

Get back to basics.
Put down the smartphones, tablets, and remotes and pick up the family photo albums and boxes of slides that sit on the shelves anxiously waiting to be dusted off and admired again.  Kids love looking at photos of themselves when they were little, and of their parents and grandparents. Grownups, too, love to reminisce and remember places and faces. Pop the popcorn and enjoy sharing stories and memories that make up your family history.

Exercise.
Ahh, spring—no one can get enough of the sweet-smelling air and warmth of the sun, which makes it the perfect excuse to grab a family member or two and get outside. Gather them together and suggest a walk on the park trail or around the neighborhood. Not only will you get exercise, but you’ll have a chance to catch up with each other, too.

“Let’s do lunch.”
This one is easy to say, but oh, how those good intentions are so hard to follow-through on. And it doesn’t even have to be “lunch” per se. The idea is to create a “structured connection”—something you’ll do on a regular basis. So, you may want to schedule brunch with Mom and Dad for every Sunday, or make the last Friday of every month, “Shopping with Aunt Meg Day.”  If you give this a try, then you’ll see all those good intentions come to beautiful fruition.

Whether you give these simple ideas a try, or come up with a few of your own ideas, all of us here at Blue Mountain hope that the spring season inspires you to open up, reach out, and love deeply.

Renewing Connections with Family (part II)Renewing Connections with Family (part II)Renewing Connections with Family (part II)Renewing Connections with Family (part II)Renewing Connections with Family (part II)Renewing Connections with Family (part II)

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Celebrating National Garden Month!

Celebrating National Garden Month!

“April showers bring May flowers…,” and oh, aren’t we all so glad that spring is finally here and the buds and blooms are finally waking up from their wintry naps!  So, how appropriate that April is also National Garden Month, where communities and organizations nationwide celebrate the goodness of gardening and all the healthy benefits that nurturing plants gives us.

Though we don’t claim to be gardening experts with green thumbs, we do have quite a few eCards that are blooming with beautiful floral designs that you might like to send and share with a friend for National Garden Month, as a springtime hello, or to celebrate an April birthday. Our “Blooming Wishes Interactive” eCard (pictured above) makes for a lovely springtime birthday treat that you can personalize with someone’s name. Your friend or loved one will be amazed as they interact with the gorgeous scene that comes to life before their eyes. As the grey skies of a soft April rain waft away, the birds begin singing, and nature’s palette of floral hues open up in all their glory to reveal a beautiful garden. But that’s not all–the garden magically reveals the meanings of the different flowers shown when the receiver hovers over each one.  Delight someone with it during this glorious month!

Celebrating National Garden Month!Celebrating National Garden Month!Celebrating National Garden Month!Celebrating National Garden Month!Celebrating National Garden Month!Celebrating National Garden Month!

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International Children’s Book Day

International Childrens Book Day

It’s a fact: Reading is important to children. Very, very important! Statistics after statistics prove it. But facts aside, the real beauty is seeing the pure, unadulterated joy in a child’s face after having read a good book — or having been read to. Which is exactly why we at Blue Mountain are so thrilled to promote International Children’s Book Day, being celebrated on April 2 this year.

Created nearly 50 years ago as a means to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books, this holiday also pays tribute to all the great authors of those books. Included in this elite group are two of American Greetings’ very own in-house senior editors: Brian P. Cleary and Caroline Leech!

Besides writing for American Greetings and Blue Mountain (which happens to feature lots of really cute Kids eCards), Brian and Caroline are also the award-winning authors of numerous highly successful children’s books. We’d love for you to get to know them a little better. Let’s get started!

Brian P. Cleary
International Childrens Book Day
Brian is shown here (center, in bow tie) with a group of
enthusiastic readers at an elementary school in Germany.

What are the titles of your books? And what age group are they for?
I have more than 50. They are for kids ages 4-10. (Click here for all the titles.)

What are your books about? And do you have a favorite?
My books usually rhyme, and often teach something to the reader. My favorites are Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry and Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book.

How long does it take for you to write a book? And what’s the process?
It totally depends on the book. For example, a picture book with 13 stanzas (sort of like paragraphs for poetry), might take only 2 hours a day for 6-7 days.  Rainbow Soup had almost 5,000 words, and so it took a couple hours a day for a whole summer. As for the process, I can get inspiration from anything from song lyrics to signs to conversations, and I always write notes that I might find useful next time I write. For me, the key is to capture that inspiration immediately.

What do you think makes for a really great story that resonates with kids?
My books usually don’t tell stories per se, but kids usually like stories that either have a central character who is a lot like them, or is a child who has more control of his or her life than the reader does. Harry Potter did a great job of that, and its themes of friendship and loyalty and bravery and overcoming challenge really captivated kids as well as adults.

Will you have a new book coming out anytime soon? If so, can you share a few details?
A book of concrete poems (these take on the shape of the subject of the poem) will be out by summer, published by Lerner Publishing Group. It’s called Ode to a Commode and Other Concrete Poems.

What’s the best part of being a children’s book author? The worst?
It’s great that your work can reach people all over the world. I’ve had books translated into Mandarin and sold in China; I’ve spent time with students and faculty in Germany; and I’ve gotten to visit more than 500 elementary schools in 40 states in the past two decades. In 1996, when a list of the top books of the year (as chosen by 10,000 school children) was published, I made the list alongside Shel Silverstein.  The worst part?  So far, there isn’t one.

Tell us a cute/zany/touching story about a child and one of your books.
One of the many cool things about being a children’s author is the fan mail. This one says: “Dear Brian P. Cleary, I love your books. My name is (child’s name). I go to Jackson Elementary in Morgan Hill, CA. I absolutely love your creativity. I visit your website when I’m done with my homework, or have nothing to do. Your books cheer me up when I’m sad. Your books make me laugh when I’m glad. My favorite book of yours is Hairy, Scary, Ordinary; What is an Adjective? I think your books are very clever. Do I think they’re boring? Never! Even though I’m only in 5th grade, I’m thinking about writing books. Do you have any advice for me? Your friend, (child’s name).”

When you were a kid, what was your most favorite story in the whole wide world, and why?
It wasn’t really a story book, it was called Your Own Joke Book, and it was packed with puns and riddles and song parodies and funny poems that I can still recite to this day.

 

Caroline Leech
International Childrens Book Day
Caroline holding her son when he was four. He’s now 21.

What was your inspiration for writing children’s books?
My wonderful son, David.  I’ve always written poetry, so when I was expecting, writing a poem about what I was feeling for my baby-to-be came naturally.

How did you get from poem to published book?
On a whim, I sent out 10 copies of it to the top publishers. I promptly received nine rejections. Then four months later, I got a phone call from Golden Books, wondering if it was still available. They wanted to turn it into a book. I nearly went into labor on the spot!

What was the book about?
Wonderful You is the story of a mama bear telling her cub all the fun and lovely things they were going to do together. My son is 21 now, and we still look back on it and smile because we did do all those things. (Except inviting a fox for tea, which seemed a little risky.)

You’ve written other books?
Yes, four Winnie-the-Pooh books, a couple of Mickey and Minnie Mouse stories, and some Kate Gleason books — 10 in all.

How did you find time to write while taking care of a young child?
I came up with a very low-tech solution. With Barney on the TV, I used to sit on the couch holding my son in one arm while writing on a clipboard with the other.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes—manuscripts left in drawers never get published. Get your work out there. You may be very happily surprised. Fortune favors the bold!

 

International Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book Day

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Forever Young…

Forever Young...

Whether you’re 35 or 105, the single most important thing to remember is that your chronological age is only a number, plain and simple. In fact, the widespread belief that there’s a peak or prime of life is, in our humble opinion, utterly archaic. Instead, embrace the idea that you can be full of vitality, passion, and adventure at any age!

All of us here at Blue Mountain fully believe this, which is why we were so thrilled to recently celebrate “As Young as You Feel Day.” This fun holiday made us realize that we should all focus on enjoying our lives to the fullest each and every day. And suddenly, our curiosity was piqued. “What specifically makes people feel young?”

So we asked our own Blue Mountain team, and here are some of their answers:

  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Buying a pair of funky-colored, high top sneakers
  • Putting temporary streaks of color in my hair
  • Dipping chocolate cookies into milk
  • Riding a Ferris Wheel
  • Joining the neighborhood kids for a game of hopscotch
  • Doing a cartwheel
  • Singing in the shower at the top of my lungs
  • Dancing the night away
  • Giggling (which can be easily achieved by sending one of our eCards to someone. Send one from our Talking Collection or our Funny Collection today!)

Our conclusion? Never stop enjoying yourself! In fact, treat each single day as the prime of your life. Keep active. Stay positive. And have fun. Lots of it. After all, no matter our age, we should all feel young at heart, shouldn’t we?

And now, dear reader, we’d love to know…“What makes you feel young?” Please leave your answer as a comment below. Don’t be shy now!

 

Forever Young...Forever Young...Forever Young...Forever Young...Forever Young...Forever Young...

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Words Really Do Matter!

Words Really Do Matter!

When you want to convey your feelings precisely, words matter. When you want to express your thoughts clearly, words matter. And when you want to say exactly what’s in the deepest part of your heart, words really, truly, absolutely do matter…to you and to everyone you’re expressing them to.

Which is why we at Blue Mountain recently celebrated Words Matter Week. You see, our editors take a lot of time and painstaking care in crafting that singular perfect message that goes with each and every one of our eCards. As wordsmith experts, they know just how important it is to choose the right words…the right sentiments…and the right message— so you don’t have to (unless, of course, you want to).

For those special times when only you can say it best, we have Printable Cards and Stationery that you can personalize any way you’d like. Then again, if you’d still like a little help along the way, we invite you to read any of our what-to-write blog posts where we offer suggestions, special words, and messaging options for both holidays and those “just because” occasions. We are always here to add that personal touch and make our greetings your own. Happy writing!

 

Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!Words Really Do Matter!

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How to Sign Your Valentine’s Day Greeting

 

How to Sign Your Valentines Day Greeting

Trying to select the absolute most perfect Valentine’s Day card for a loved one is only half the challenge. Once you’ve chosen just the right image and just the right message, then you’ve got to personalize it with just the right wording and closing salutation. If that seems a bit daunting, we can help!

For suggestions on how to write a really meaningful Valentine’s Day message, click here. And for 25 really sweet ideas of how to close out your message, consider these absolutely lovely options:

• Sealed with a kiss
• Your admirer
• Fondly
• Be mine
• Your sweetheart
• Hugs and kisses
• Yours always
• With all my love
• Affectionately
• Lovingly yours
• Forever and a day
• xoxo
• Luck, laughter, and love
• Truly yours
• Missing you
• Now and always
• Sweetly
• With all my heart
• Ever yours
• Adoringly
• Hopelessly in love
• Your #1 fan
• Devotedly
• Yours faithfully
• Always by your side

How to Sign Your Valentines Day GreetingHow to Sign Your Valentines Day GreetingHow to Sign Your Valentines Day GreetingHow to Sign Your Valentines Day GreetingHow to Sign Your Valentines Day GreetingHow to Sign Your Valentines Day Greeting