Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

This tree. This beautiful weeping cedar, a graceful perch for so many birds, is dying. It’s just a tree, I tell myself. But nonetheless, for over sixteen years, without any special wants or needs, this tree’s long, downward-growing branches covered with silvery, grey-green bursts of needles created an elegant archway into my garden. Now, it stands almost completely denuded. The arborist came last week, dug around, and shook his head while he uttered, “Probably some type of fungus. It’s a wait and see game, now.” Everyday, I go outside and look at this tree. I examine it for new growth – there is none. I touch the branches – needles fall slowly to the ground. I scratch lightly at the bark to see if there is any green underneath it – there is. There is still hope for this tree.

#1 – “Staying” Green

Planet earth is counting on creative people to save it. Smart concepts such as this “Urban Hotel” illustrate my point. Although you would expect solar-power and rain water recycling systems in these hotels, a unique feature of this concept are the bicycles in the rooms. The bicycles can be used for exploring surrounding urban areas or used for exercising inside the rooms. While exercising, the bikes convert “the bike’s pedaling into kinetic energy to power the room and any extra energy is used to deduct rooming costs.” Make sure to click on the link to view all the features of this earth-friendly concept!

#2 – The Green Gift

My neighbor came to visit the other day and she brought with her two gift bags. One contained my birthday gift and the other one contained another kind of gift. The bag was filled with empty toilet paper tubes. She remembered a comment I made about how I compost toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes. After collecting several tubes, I cut them open, flatten them out and then feed them into my paper shredder. They add much needed “brown” organic material to my compost bin. There are many other items around the house that can be added to compost piles. TLC’s article on 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn’t is a good refresher course for those of us who compost. If you haven’t started composting, please consider it. It’s an easy way of redirecting some of your garbage away from landfills and back to the land.

#3 – When Chefs Get Bored

What do chefs do when they are bored? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would imagine they play with their food! Check out this series of food art photos and see that creativity knows no bounds in the kitchen!

#4 – To Market, To Market

What could be better than going shopping? What about shopping outdoors in the fresh air and sun? Most farmers’ markets carry more than just produce. I love walking up and down the rows of stalls looking at and sampling the fresh seasonal produce. I also enjoy visiting the stands that sell olive oil, soap, honey, hand-crafted and fresh baked goods, plants and flowers. I always make sure to bring my own bags/baskets, cash, and, of course, my camera. For more tips, visit Recyclebank’s 10 tips to Shop Smart at Farmers Markets.

#5 – The Tao of Pooh

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.
“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.
“I am,” said Pooh.
“Oh? Doing what?”
“Listening,” he said.
“Listening to what?”
“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”
“What are they saying?” I asked.
“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you know that already,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he said.

Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh

Happy Earth Day! What about this? Do one thing every single day that is good for the earth!

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Cradled in the arms of trees, the moon rested. Stars and planets hovered subserviently nearby, knowing that the bright light emanating from the full moon dimmed their own magnificence. But, if the truth be told, the moon didn’t want to stand out – he longed to be in the night sky clustered together with the others. He was lonely, but not alone. As the night evolved and the moon rose, he dimmed his light a bit and the stars twinkled with appreciation. The moon’s lesson: it’s not as important to be on center stage as it is to share the stage with others. And, with a little help, others can have their moments to shine.

#1 – Earth Day

Imagine what it’s like to view the earth from the moon. How majestic and pristine our planet must appear from afar. Celebrate our planet on Earth Day, April 22nd. The Nature Conservancy plans on celebrating by organizing a record-setting picnic. If you’d like to be part of the Conservancy’s attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people picnicking in 24 hours or if you want to learn different ways in which you can help our planet, click here.

#2 – Photograph or Painting?

I would be over the moon if I had the talent and patience to paint like Pedro Campos! Using oil paints, the Spanish artist creates amazingly realistic still life paintings that are often mistaken for photographs! Check out his website to view more of his incredible artwork!

#3 – Moonlight in a Jar

Stars twinkle and the moon glows in this DIY project. Mason jars are painted or “dotted” on the inside with glow-in-the-dark paint. They are allowed to dry and then are charged with sunlight or lamplight. I fell in love with these jars when I first saw them and they are definitely on my “to do” list!

#4 – Brain or Moon?

From mental_floss comes this quiz that tests your familiarity of moon and brain nomenclature. For example, is the Dorsum Scilla a part of the brain or a part of the moon?

#5 – Sailing to the Moon
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
Thomas Merton

Look at the moon this weekend and have fun making up your own story about it!

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First impressions of this flower might be: prickly, exotic, and tropical. In actuality, this safflower is soft, familiar, and grown in areas with long dry seasons. The lesson here is that first impressions can be deceiving. Frequently, first impressions are instinctual, emotional, and based on uninformed beliefs. To try to live our lives with more open minds, we need to challenge our first impressions and our long-held beliefs.

#1 –  Life In Chains
How can seemingly cold metal chain evoke such depths of emotion? Korean Artist Seo Young Deok tells stories of emotion by creating realistic human figures out of chains, welding each sculpture link-by-link. His stories are told by the poses of his pieces, the rawness of his materials, and the feeling of incompleteness.

#2 – Small Changes, Big Differences
Have your taste buds ever been unwittingly tricked into believing you’re eating something sinful only to find out that you’ve been eating something healthier? Here’s a list from Greatist of 80 handy and healthy substitutions for you to try in recipes. For example, try substituting meringue for frosting on your cupcakes or crushed flax or fiber cereal for bread crumbs.

#3 – Happy Feet
Some shoes look really comfortable, but when you wear them they hurt. I’m not taking any chances. Even though my son’s wedding is four months away, I’m already breaking in my new pair of high heels. Thanks to The Beauty Department, I learned a few more ways to break in my shoes.

#4 – Must-Have Photography Apps
I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve wanted to take a photo of something and then realized I didn’t have my camera with me. Thankfully, I now have a smartphone with a camera and have downloaded some camera-enhancing apps. Which camera apps are the best? Check out “25 Must-Have Apps For Your Smartphone” from Online Photography Colleges to see which camera apps suit your needs.

#5 – Point of View
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Have a great weekend!

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The world’s other 6,993,541,793 human inhabitants are more like you than you think. People’s emotions, actions and reactions are not so different from one part of the world to another. Cultural and religious customs do exist, but smiling, kissing, and hugging are among the many emotional gestures people around the world share. So the next time you deem someone as “different,” consider all that you have in common, rather than the few differences that separate you.

#1 – What Is It?
The photo above looks like something from outer space, so what in the world is it? Call it what you like: Romanesco, broccoli Romanesco, Romanesco broccoli, broccoflower, Romanesco cauliflower (North America), Romanesco cabbage (French), or broccolo Romanesco (Italian), but whatever you call it, call it delicious! Fresh Romanesco is loaded with Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. The next time you see Romanesco in the market, widen your culinary world and buy it. Prepare it as if you were cooking broccoli or cauliflower – just don’t overcook it!

#2 – Creative Projects
Mark your calendars for noon (EST) on February 24th and help document a global event. Join people from around the world and share a meal with them. Take a photo of you with your meal, mail it to the Art House Co-Op, and be part of an exhibition of people and their food. While you’re signing up for the Meal Project on the Co-Op’s website, check out its other creative community projects: Letters to Home, where you write a letter to your childhood home, and the Sketchbook Project, where artists across the globe donate their sketchbooks to the Brooklyn Art Library to provide artistic inspiration to the public.

#3 – Spread the Mood
According to CEO Peter Bregman, moods are as contagious as colds. In his article “How to Use Your Super Power for Good,” he recounts how his mood changed one day from bad to good based on his encounters with different people. Here’s a quote from the article that focuses on his analogy of moods spreading like colds: Look at it this way: If you catch a cold from someone, does that mean you can go around sneezing on everyone else? You might be able to blame your mood on someone else, but you’re still responsible for what you pass to others . . . Know your emotions, be in touch with your moods, and think of them like the common cold. If you feel infected by bad cheer, take a deep breath, recognize how you’re feeling, and choose not to pass it on. If everyone practiced this philosophy, think about the collective difference it could make in the world.

#4 – In a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .
Photographer Royce Blair captured some of the most awe-inspiring images of the effervescent-looking Milky Way juxtaposed against some of the iconic landscape features of Utah. If you need an escape from work during the day, just sit and gaze at these breath-taking wonders of nature. You’ll soon feel more relaxed!

#5 – Wisdom of the Universe
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.
Joseph Campbell

Why not listen to what the universe is saying to you this weekend? Have a great weekend!

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It was so cold outside that the birds looked all puffed up in their little down jackets. For me, dressing up like Nanook of the North and going out in the freezing cold at midnight is not something I like to do, but the weather forecaster on T.V. said, “There’s going to be a hard freeze tonight.” Difficult as it was to leave the warmth of our home, my hubby and I got out our bin of burlap pieces and clothes pins and went outside to cover our frost-tender plants. While I was outside draping and pinning, I thought about all the homeless people trying to stay warm on that cold, cold night. Shame, guilt, and sadness struck me. Here I was protecting plants when people – men, women, and children – were freezing in the night.

#1 – Ways to Help the Homeless
If you are looking for ways to help the homeless, but don’t know where to start, check out these links:

Donate Old Gear to “Homeless Gear” & Help Keep the Homeless Warmer on Cold Days
35 Ways You Can Help the Homeless
Homeless Teens: How to Help
How YOU Can Help End Homelessness

#2 – Reduce Food Waste
Chef Alex Guarnaschelli offers six tips on how to reduce food waste. And remember that some of the food you waste also can go into compost piles. Want to start a compost pile, but don’t know how? Read Earth Easy’s article on composting.

#3- Date a Girl Who Reads
In the essay below, Rosemarie Urquico espouses the many reasons for dating a girl who reads. I loved it when I first read it – how could I not, since it’s all about reading and writing! Supposedly, it was written in response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date an Illiterate Girl. Make sure you read both pages of Mr. Warnke’s piece.

You Should Date a Girl Who Reads by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

#4 – Repurposing
A while back, I wrote about Pinterest, the online pinboard. Many, many great ideas on numerous subjects can be found on Pinterest boards, but I especially like the ones that display truly creative ways to reuse things.

#5 – Do Something For Someone
“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~John Bunyan

Stay warm!

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Spread joy. It doesn’t take much, really it doesn’t. There are no guidelines, no right or wrong ways to do it, no right time . . . . Occasionally, a little bit of planning is involved, but mostly it’s spontaneous. Do it and let your actions be joyfully contagious!

There is not a finite number of ways to spread joy, but here are a few suggestions:

Be Kind
When you perform acts of kindness, random or specific, you not only do something good for others, but you make yourself feel good, too! Whether your acts are acknowledged or not, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you sent positive energy out into the universe and that you may have made a difference in people’s lives. And if you are ever lucky enough to be on the receiving end of someone’s kindness, pay it forward. Don’t let the positive energy die – keep it going!

In our increasingly busy lives, we often don’t have the time or take the time to really listen to what those around us are saying. With a million distractions at our disposal, do we listen carefully enough to read between the lines or to catch innuendos? By listening to others intently, we are conveying to them that they are important to us and that what they have to say matters. Do not try to multitask, solve problems, interrupt, or even converse – just listen.

I always say that words have power. In high school, a P.E. teacher gave me the grade of  “C” after performing the Cha-Cha in the ballroom dancing section of our P.E. curriculum. When I asked her about the grade, she said, “You have no rhythm.” For decades I shied away from dancing because I assumed I had no rhythm. Now, because I’m old and I don’t care what others think, I dance. In a world of “what ifs” I muse about the difference it might have made if the teacher had only tried to encourage me by saying, “Not too bad! With a little bit more practice, you could be good!” A word of encouragement here and there can create foundations of joy.

Spread joy by sharing yourself with others. Share your time, your energy, your smile, your talents, your heart, your possessions, your money . . . . You are a multifaceted person, so there is much to share!

Reach Out
Reach out to a friend or relative that you haven’t seen in a while or with whom you’ve lost contact. Call, write, email, text – do whatever it takes to let them know you are thinking of them. Far too many excuses and assumptions prevent us from reaching out to others, but all it takes is a simple “Hello” or “I haven’t seen you in ages, but was thinking about you . . .” to reconnect.

Help Others
Helping others in any way, shape, or form is a guaranteed way of spreading joy. Yesterday in a grocery store, a disabled man in a wheelchair dropped his shopping basket and was unable to retrieve it. Those nearest to him ignored him. I went over and offered my help. The smile I received in return warmed my heart. Helping in large scale ways, such as donating and volunteering, are admirable, but the everyday small ways of helping others mean just as much.

Show Gratitude
Keeping a gratitude journal is a nice habit, but don’t keep all those good thoughts to yourself. Being grateful and showing gratitude are two different things. It doesn’t take much – a simple thank you, a little note, a small reminder to a loved one, a touch on the arm, doing something special – there are so many ways to show gratitude.

A sincere compliment goes a long way to spread joy. Compliment someone in their workplace for good service received. Pay a compliment if you notice something different about someone. Leave positive comments for bloggers, newspaper and magazine columnists or any one else whose work you’ve appreciated. Thank your doctor for doing his best to provide you with good care. Why is it so much easier to criticize than compliment?

Celebrate life’s gifts everyday. Celebrate nature – spreading joy is not restricted to mankind. I receive much joy from feeding birds in my backyard. Watching them feed and bathe and listening to their songs always brings me back to the present and to a point of appreciation and celebration of life. Celebrate every occasion possible! Especially celebrate special occasions – don’t let them go by unnoticed. Don’t assume that others know you are thinking about them on their birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, etc. How can they know you are thinking of them, if you never tell them?  Don’t wait to celebrate!

After reading this post, I hope you feel inspired to go out and SPREAD SOME JOY!

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Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” but the older I become, the more this mom views life as a series of never-ending staircases, much like those drawn by M.C. Escher. At particular phases in life, we climb metaphoric stairs and reach the top, only to find that another level exists and another staircase awaits. We learn the rules of the game during each ascent, but discover the game changes at every level.

Parenting is a good example of my analogy: you start with a sweet, little baby, but no sooner do you get a grip on exhausting infant-ways, then your baby walks, talks, and throws tantrums. Mastering potty-training raises cheers and exultations, but creates a degree of independence, which allows your child to leave the safe haven of your arms to go to school. After years of navigating through playground dramas and class projects, you warily enter the hormonally-charged world of adolescence. By the time you regain some balance after the “driving” years, your child moves on to college applications. And before you can decipher the FAFSA form, your child graduates from college and finds a job.

Recently, my youngest child and her friends reached a new level by graduating from college. With high hopes they look to the future with new sets of goals and new sets of stairs to climb. For some of them, their staircases are straight forward – graduate school. For others, the staircases are long and narrow – medical school. But for many of them, their staircases rise, twist, and turn – the path of uncertainty. In the past, a college degree usually led to a job. Not so anymore. For those looking for jobs, the ascent is made more difficult by an extraordinarily bad job market.

For example, a recent ad my daughter looked at quickly excited her, but ultimately discouraged her. It read:

Looking for an energetic, detail-oriented person. Check!
Must be organized and able to multi-task. Check!
Must be a self-starter and be willing to work long hours. Check!
Must be proficient in Word, Excel, and Power Point. Check!
Must have the ability to work quickly under tight deadlines. Check!
Must have a 4-year college degree. Check!
Must have nonprofit experience. Check!
Must have at least five years of work experience. No!

With so many bright, intelligent, and experienced competitors for so few positions, employers have a gourmet assortment to choose from. If all employers hire experienced workers, who will give the inexperienced the experience they need? I will never forget the dentist who hired an energetic, young dental hygienist fresh out of school. I am eternally grateful to him for believing in me enough to take a chance on me. Hopefully, there are other employers out there who can remember what it was like to get their first job and their first vote of confidence, and who are willing to consider vitality and eagerness over experience. My daughter, her friends, and other recent college graduates will need patience and this kind of help to get to the next level. Landing that first job, of course, puts them at the bottom all over again!

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Nelson Mandela

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Hungry? Want to eat something out of the ordinary that will confuse your brain and challenge your taste buds? If the answer is yes, then go find yourself a food truck and sample its tasty offerings or, better yet, go to a food truck festival and indulge in new gastronomical experiences! A long weekend of celebration for my family often means consuming massive quantities of food. My recent trip to Southern California was no exception. At my son’s suggestion we attended a food truck festival at the Santa Anita Race Track. Yes, a race track!

After paying a $5.00 entrance fee, we walked through a long tunnel that carried us under the track. As we emerged from the tunnel and caught our first glimpses of the Festival, we felt like we had entered another world. Picture a racetrack. Now picture an infield, the grassy center of a track, filled with colorful umbrellas, picnic tables, a DJ playing loud music, a bounce house, pony rides, and carnival games! Ringing the infield are over 70 colorful food trucks offering almost every type of food imaginable. This is dining at it’s most unique and is not an experience for the unadventurous or for those with digestion issues!

Immediately ahead of us was easily a two-hour wait for the line of people wanting to place an order at the Grilled Cheese Truck. Although this truck serves grilled cheese sandwiches, most of them are not the type your mom or Denny’s served to you as a child. For example, if you order Mom’s Apple Pie Melt from this truck you’ll get sweet brioche bread grilled with sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized apples, and candied walnuts. Or if you prefer a sandwich with a little kick, you’ll ask for the Pepperbelly Melt which is served on cheddar jalapeno bread grilled with habanero jack cheese, homemade chili, Fritos, fire-roasted salsa, and cilantro lime sour cream tucked inside! This all coming from a chef who got his start with his famous Cheesy Mac & Rib Melt.

While walking the track and taking it all in, I was impressed, not only by the bright-colored and cleverly-named trucks (Let’s Be Frank, Great Balls on Tires, Crepen Around, Shrimp Pimp, etc.), but also by the creative fusion of food styles. Jogasaki Burrito successfully offers a fusion of Japanese and Mexican food. We, unsurprisingly, devoured delicious Sushi Burritos and Spicy Tuna Nachos. At the Calbi BBQ truck, soft corn tortillas carefully cradled Korean barbecued meat and shredded cheese. Not all the food at the Festival was fusion, though. Food trucks serving epicurean delights from Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Greece, Vietnam, France, India were also doing brisk business.

The chefs driving these trucks (literally and figuratively) are not slouches. An article on About.com mentions the interesting pedigrees of some of the food truck chefs in the Los Angeles area – a former chef of Michael Jackson, a former Wolfgang Puck chef, and a chef from Top Chef Masters!

If you’re adventurous and live in or are visiting a major city and you want to get something good, but different to eat, track down a food truck by using your smart phone. There are several apps available which track the locations of food trucks – you can either check the location of a particular food truck or find out which food truck is nearest to you at the moment. Trux Map is an example of a popular one. A word of warning if you seek out a food truck: GO ON AN EMPTY STOMACH!

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Full of gratitude. It’s a reoccurring theme on this blog, as well as a meaningful phrase for one of my dear friends. Because I am grateful to have her in my life and because she’s helped me to rekindle my “spark,” I made her this necklace. With less than one week before Thanksgiving, let’s all make the time to stop what we are doing – planning menus, working, cleaning house, chauffeuring kids, etc. – to reflect on the many things we are grateful for and to show gratitude to everyone in our lives.

#1 – Say Thanks!
Although Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada as a harvest festival, the island of Grenada and the city of Leiden in the Netherlands also celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. But why only say thanks once a year? Here are a few different ways to say thanks or thank you in other languages. You never know when this knowledge might come in handy – maybe even the next time you go out to eat!! Click here to see the entire list.

Chinese (Mandarin) – Xie_Xie (shieh shieh)
Chinese (Cantonese) Do jeh (tou yeh) (formal: thanks)
Czech – Dekuji (deh’-ku-yih)
French – merci (mehr-see’)
German – Danke (dahn’-kuh)
Greek – Efharisto (ef-har-ris-tou’)
Hawaiian – Mahalo
Italian – Grazie (grahts’-yeh)
Japanese – Arigato (ah-ree-gah’-toh)
Korean – Kamsa hamaida (kam’-sah hum-nee-dah’ )
Malaysian – Terima Kasih (“Tay ree ma Kaa seh”)
Polish – Dziekuje (dsyehn-koo-yeh)
Russian – Spasiba (spah-see’-boh)
Spanish – Gracias (grah’-syas)
Swedish – Tack (tahkk)
Tahitian – Maururu

#2 – Paper Art
When I create my cards, I enjoy cutting and manipulating pieces of paper, but here is a series of photos that takes paper art to a whole other level!

#3 – Spells
It’s November and everyone is as excited as can be! Not for Thanksgiving necessarily, but for the release of the new Harry Potter film. You’ll be grateful that you know the difference between the Alohomora spell and the Finite Incantatem spell. Brush up on your knowledge with Wikipedia’s Harry Potter Spells before you see the movie!

#4 -What Money Cannot Buy
The Norwegian writer Arne Garborg once wrote this:
It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything, but not the kernel.

Being grateful means being appreciative – for the what, why, where, and who’s we have in life. We’ve all heard that money cannot buy happiness, but that trend of thought does not stop there. To be inspired by others check out this Marc and Angel Hack Life blog post or check out this site which allows people to post their thoughts on what money can’t buy.

#5 – Gratitude
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Be grateful you have a weekend to enjoy!

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Today’s post is dedicated to the memory of Alicia Rose Parlette who passed away yesterday at the young age of 28. Alicia was a gifted writer, journalist, and was a close friend of my oldest son. Bravely chronicling her diagnosis and ensuing life with incurable cancer in a 17-part series called “Alicia’s Story” for the San Francisco Chronicle, Alicia was and continues to be a source of inspiration for people all over the world. The world has lost a beautiful person and a brilliant spirit.

#1 – The Language of Flowers
Most people will agree that a gift of flowers is a thoughtful gesture. So that you know what your gift is really saying, here are some of the more traditional meanings for today’s popular flowers according to Pioneerthinking.com:

Anemone – Unfading love
Baby’s Breath – Everlasting love
Cyclamen – Resignation and goodbye
Daisy – Innocence
Forget-Me-Not – True love; memories
Gardenia – You’re lovely; secret love
Hydrangea – Thank you for understanding; frigidity; heartlessness
Iris – Faith; hope; wisdom and valor
Jasmine – Amiability; attracts wealth
Lavender – Devotion
Marigold – Comforts the heart
Nasturtium – Conquest; victory in battle; maternal love; charity; patriotism
Oleander – Caution; beware
Petunia – Resentment; anger; your presence soothes me
Rose (general) (red) – Love ; I love you
Stock – Lasting beauty
Tulip (general) – Fame, charity; perfect lover
Violet – Modesty; calms tempers; induces sleep
Zinnia – Thoughts of friends

#2 – A Book to Grow By
Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott wrote a little book called If Life is a Game, These Are the Rules that’s filled with a lot of food for thought. She writes about her “Ten Rules for Being Human.” These rules may seem self-evident to most people, myself included, but I discovered reading about them in detail to be an enlightening experience.

Here are Dr. Carter-Scott’s Ten Rules For Being Human:
1. You will receive a body.
2. You will be presented with lessons.
3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.
4. Lessons are repeated until learned.
5. Learning does not end.
6. “There” is no better than “here.”
7. Others are only mirrors of you.
8. What you make of your life is up to you.
9. All the answers are inside of you.
10. You will forget all of this at birth.

#3 – Make Word Clouds
Sitting at your computer, but need to take a little break? Go to www.wordle.net and make a “word cloud.” You type in the words and decide on font, layout, and colors. A print-worthy word cloud is yours for free.

#4 – Updates & Comments
Here are a few comments and updates from readers:
A. My coworker’s husband who has been eating steel cut oatmeal as per My Most Requested Recipe post has had his cholesterol score drop 34 points since his 2008 results! Way to go Jim!

B. I received a comment from someone regarding an entry I wrote on April 9th. I wrote about about how your garden can help others if you “Plant a Row for the Hungry” and reader Gar offered this additional information:
Another way your readers can help the needy is to visit http://www.AmpleHarvest.org – a site that helps diminish hunger by enabling backyard gardeners to share their crops with neighborhood food pantries.

The site is free both for the food pantries and the gardeners using it.

Backed by Google.com and the USDA, more than 1,600 food pantries nationwide are already on it and more are signing up daily.

It includes preferred delivery times, driving instructions to the pantry as well as (in many cases) information about store bought items also needed by the pantry (for after the growing season).

If your community has a food pantry, make sure they register on http://www.AmpleHarvest.org.

C. It seems a lot of readers did not understand the title of my April 12th post. “Release the Cracklin!” was a tongue-in-cheek referral to the phrase “Release the Kraken!” that the god Zeus yells out in the movies “Clash of the Titans.” A Kraken is a mythical sea monster of gargantuan size. A cracklin’ or crackling is the crispy skin of a pig. I was taking artistic leeway in calling bacon a cracklin’. Okay, you can laugh, now.

D. Although this is not a comment, it is a request from a reader. I have been asked to ask my readers, especially the gardeners out there, if they know of any pest or critter that could be responsible for stripping off all the leaves and flowers on his vegetable plants overnight. Something devoured his plants and he can’t figure out what. He has wired fencing all around his vegetable garden to keep the deer away and he has placed barriers into the soil to prevent rabbits from burrowing under the fence. He thinks it had to be something that climbed over the fence. Ideas, anyone?

#5 – Little Flower
Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.
-Hans Christian Andersen-

Goodbye little flower. Bless you Alicia Rose Parlette.

For more information about Alicia and to contribute to the Alicia Parlette Fund for Aspiring Journalists please go to msparlette.wordpress.com.

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