Susan is one of our writers, and Susan loves to sing.  Susan typically keeps her phone on her desk and plays her favorite pop music, as she quietly sings or hums along while personalizing ornaments.  As quiet as her singing is, we all still enjoy listening to her.  At this time of year as we get closer to Christmas, Susan automatically transitions to quietly singing or humming to Christmas music.  Every once in a while someone else on our staff will hear a song or carol they love and shout out, “Turn it up, Susan!”.  And Susan does.  And that person will join in.  Then others will join in.  And before you know it, we all join in! 

Whenever this happens, I look around the room and notice everyone smiling, laughing and really enjoying each other and the work they are doing.  This occurrence only happens a few times a week, but witnessing everyone happily singing Christmas songs and carols together and really getting into the Christmas spirit never gets old, and is just so heartwarming.  

 I don’t know how I recently came upon this article from last December, but when I read it, it made me think about the happiness shared in our workshop while our group singing is going on.  It was too coincidental and too “Christmas season inspiring” not to share.




By Julie ZauzmerThe Washington Post    Fri., Dec. 21, 2018


WASHINGTON—Throughout the month of December, Laura Speranza, alone in her car, sings along to Christmas carols on the radio. She loves “Silent Night” and “O Holy Night.” She does a mean “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Sometimes she even hears her somewhat obscure favourite, “Dominic the Donkey.”

Speranza watches Hallmark movies. She sees those characters gather round the piano, tunefully harmonizing with their families.

“This would be more fun,” she thinks, “to be able to sing along.”

That’s what brought her to the suburban Alexandria Citizens Band’s sing-along at Del Ray United Methodist Church on a wintry night this holiday season. “Are we singing hymns?” she whispers, tripping over the consonants as she takes a hymnal from a pew. “How do you say it, hymns? It’s been so long since I opened one of these.”

The music starts: “Come All Ye Faithful.” A smile sneaking onto her face, Speranza joins in.

There’s something about the Christmas season that makes us want to sing — specifically, to sing together. Other times, we’re too old and too busy and we really can’t carry a tune. Not at Christmas. At Christmas, we sing.

Raucous or rehearsed, pious or irreverent, we just love to raise our voices together in groups at this time of year. Even as Americans grow less religious and less participatory, more likely to spend an evening with our Netflix accounts than our church choirs, the old-fashioned sing-along is having a moment.

“The holiday spirit, the Christmas spirit is all about community building — being joyous together and supporting one another. That’s what we’re trying to capture through community singing,” said Marshall Duer-Balkind. He and friend David Casselly have organized a “wassail,” a traditional door-to-door parade of singers, at Christmas time in Washington, D.C., for six years running. This year, they drew a crowd of more than 80 people.

“I don’t have much musical background. I’m not a great singer. Part of the joy of this is you don’t have to be a great singer to enjoy singing collectively and enjoy being in community with people who like to sing,” said Duer-Balkind, 35, a sustainability consultant who formerly lived in a group house which hosted monthly folk singing nights, where the idea of the wassail was born. “Most people are just there to have a good time and belt it out, and that’s definitely where I am.”

Casselly was in conservatory for jazz saxophone before he dropped out and became a government lawyer; he still plays in a band, sings and dances with folk music groups, and participates in two ritual sword-dancing teams. But he recognizes that singing opportunities for most adults are few and far between.

Most children sing in school. College students can join a capella groups. When those enthusiastic crooners hit adulthood, though, most stop singing.

Christmas time draws them back. “For a lot of people,” Casselly said, “this is possibly the only group singing event they go to all year.”

More than one-third of all Americans say they have childhood memories of carolling, and in any given year, many still participate as adults. One of five Americans who observe Christmas as a religious holiday told Pew Research Center in 2013 that they would be carolling that year, and even 8 per cent of people with no religion said they would go carolling too.

Singing in groups is good for us. It’s in our very makeup. Scientific research has shown that singing with fellow humans confers tremendous benefits that are hard to achieve by belting alone in the shower, or by doing just about anything else with other people. Crafting? Creative writing? In a British study, to name one example of this sort of research, participants who were assigned to sing together felt far closer, faster, to their groupmates than those who scribbled or scrawled.

“There are physiological and brain function reasons for that — there’s something about making the human voice together that has its own unique capacity,” said Kate Hays, a Toronto psychologist who has written about the scientific benefits of singing, from oxygen-rich deep breaths, to cognitive improvement from utilizing little-used areas of the brain, to soothing relief from distressing thoughts. Aware of these benefits, Hays went to a senior citizens’ home last week to sing with the residents.


Carols are one time that scientific and religious consensus agree, Hays said. “There’s a spiritual piece in there too,” she said. “It may be some sense of the specialness of Christmas or of the season that can also bring that sense of connection with other people in doing something meaningful. … I’m thinking of songs like ‘Good King Wenceslas,’ which really have to do with charity in the best sense. Carols can elevate us from some of the crassness of Christmas and all of that stuff.”

Jenny Koch, an urban planner in Washington, sees that remarkable power of group singing on display every month. Four years ago, she attended a sing-along in Portland, Oregon. “I went, ‘Hey, this is kind of magical,’” she recalls. Koch, like many people she knows, grew up singing in church, but no longer goes to religious services. She wanted a place for singing that was secular.

The sing-along series she created, A People’s Choir DC, has been going strong ever since. This month’s event was five days before Christmas at the bar DC 9, a regular spot for her singers to gather, and focused on movie tunes. “It’s nice to bring people together to [sing] in a very different setting, one that’s comfortable for a lot of people, where they can be social and still get that singing out,” she said. Occasionally she’s surprised by the most popular song in a given month: “I played “Mr. Brightsides” by the Killers once. I didn’t realize everyone in the room was going to just lose it.”

By Sunday, the Christmas singing will reach a crescendo — they’ll be packing the streets of Fells Point in Baltimore in the annual caroling extravaganza; sharing every word of George Frideric Handel’s beloved 1742 “Messiah” at the Kennedy Center’s hugely popular annual sing-along; participating with the movie “White Christmas” and thousands of audience members at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

At the Kennedy Center, director of public programming Diana Ezerins says the nation’s preeminent public arts venue is newly recognizing the popularity and the value of group singing. The Messiah sing-along is a longtime favourite; the quirky “Merry TubaChristmas!” which has a sing-along component as well as a huge number of brass instruments grew so popular this year that it moved into a larger concert hall space; more than 500 people will join in a Christmas caroling event for the elderly on the day after Christmas that is also expected to be larger than ever this year.

“For the history of the Kennedy Center, for the most part, our programming, the building itself was designed to sit and watch the experts,” Ezerins said. “We haven’t had much history of being known for offering those types of [participatory] experiences. But certainly when we’ve done them, people show up.”

When the Kennedy Center opens new performance space in September 2019, Ezerins is plans much more participatory programming for the new areas, including more sing-alongs.

“Walk away from whatever drama is happening in your love life. Your work life. On the Hill,” she said. “Be part of the creative fabric of the community of the citizens of this city…. Moments of expression are really important to our identity, to what it means to be an American.”

Those chances for expression, she believes, are also ripe with religious meaning. No wonder they proliferate around Christmas.

“Any act of creativity, once you give yourself over to it, you’re existing on another plane — whether that is someone’s connection to God, or the planet, or whatever,” she said. “I would find it hard to not say that that is spiritual.”



Merry Christmas to all of our friends, family and customers.  Enjoy the season….watch your favorite Hallmark Christmas movies, eat your favorite food, have fun setting up your tree and decorating, celebrate time with friends and family…..and SING Christmas carols with others all season long!!!



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Last month we wrote our Blog about how decorating early for Christmas will make you happier. The good news is that since it is only November 1st, there is still time to experience that early happiness.  Want more good news?  This month we have some fun decorating tips to help you get started!  

Thank you to for contributing this article to our November Blog!




With Christmas time comes a plethora of festive and fun demands. From shopping for the perfect gift for everyone on your list to baking cookies and more, there are many things to do. People all over the world start getting their homes Christmas-ready. Some eager planners start preparation in October or early November, while more traditional Christmas observers tend to start their preparations right after they have finished recovering from Thanksgiving.

Whenever you plan to start decorating, there are a variety of ways that you can approach the overhaul of your home.


Feng Shui for Christmas

If you are an observer of Feng Shui design principles or are looking to maximize the energy and chi of Feng Shui inspired Christmas décor tips, then check out this list below to create an amazing feel of Christmas in your home.

  1. Make your entryway bright and cheery. Your front door is where you will enter all of the special guests that come to your home to help you celebrate the holidays. And though you don’t need to go overboard here, Christmas lighting around your doorway is extremely welcoming and can create tremendous energy for your home. Christmas lights make this strategy easy. A wreath on the front door can complete the look and drive home the feeling of Christmas spirit.
  2. Place your Christmas tree in the fame and reputation space of your home (the southern part of your Bagua) for maximum energy. The color for fame and reputation is red, so this means you can go crazy with those red ornaments and ribbons to help trim your tree. As another option, you can place your green Christmas tree in the family area of your home so that it serves as a focal point in bringing your family together. Remember that green is a symbol of life and growth in your family. So, consider adding some green throw pillows on your couches and chairs as a way to complement the focal point of your Christmas tree.
  3. Everybody loves presents! Christmas time is about celebrating family and friends and is an excellent continuation of the family gathering that Thanksgiving is known for, just a month before the Christmas holidays. Take advantage of sales and your monthly budget to start shopping early so that you can start displaying presents under your tree right away.

Stick to one color theme for Christmas

Today’s Christmas designs continue to leverage the traditional red and green, and that is great for those that want to ensure maximum chi. However, blues, silvers, and other color themes are also popular. The key here is to ensure that you select one color theme and then stick to it.

For example, ensure that your tree decorations, stairway garlands, and additional holiday décor all leverage that main color as the starting point. Though other pops of colors are important here and there. For example, adding a Christmas cactus, explored in more detail here, in your entryway can bring a festive atmosphere as soon as you walk into your home. Maximizing the use of one color will help pull the design together for a more cohesive look.

Christmas lighting is not limited to a string of lights

If you are hosting for the holidays, there is no better way to greet your guests than by some lit lanterns (battery operated lanterns are perfectly fine) to illuminate your walkway. Lanterns with candles in votive holders can create an elegant look, but battery-operated tea-lights will work just as well. If you have a tree-lined walkway, consider stringing lights from tree to tree to create an obvious path that leads to your well-lit entryway.

If you live in a warmer climate and have more flexibility in your outdoor Christmas decorations, gather some mason jars or other decorative glass containers and set them out on your patio table. Containers with varying heights will help add dimension and will look lovely when surrounded by some garland, pinecones, and fake red berries.

This same look can be carried over to the dinner table, and the clear glass containers help ensure that your guests can see one another across the table. If you aren’t interested in the candle look, consider containers that hold round ornaments in the same color as your theme, and set those out on the table. Then, consider stringing some battery-operated white Christmas lights around the bottom of the jars on the table, for subtler illumination.

The use of proper Christmas-inspired lighting can make your home feel more welcoming and spacious. And, for those that have not invested in a substantial amount of Christmas decorations, adding a string of lights here or there as an accent can help you to do more with less. If you have kids, be sure to include them in the decorating process, as they can easily help you to place lights that do not require an electrical connection.


Happy decorating, and Merry Christmas!


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A few weeks ago, I read the article below about how decorating early for Christmas is good for our mental health.  Last year I read a similar article.  Of course as the owner of a personalized Christmas ornament company, I loved hearing this again.  I was originally going to save this article, write a blog about it sometime this month, and post the blog on our site in November.

However, when I went to Costco a couple of weeks ago, I was sooooo surprised to see two aisles of artificial Christmas trees and decorations displayed!  Then last week, I went shopping with a friend and discovered there were others stores as well that already had Christmas decorations displayed!!   In September!

I assume that only those who do NOT decorate their homes for Halloween would even consider decorating their homes for Christmas sometime in October, but hey, if it makes you as happy as this article states, GO FOR IT!

Now I do realize that just because people buy artificial Christmas trees and decorations in September or October doesn’t necessarily mean they put them up this early, but I sure would love to find out if anyone does.  I posted the link for the article I read last year on Facebook.   As I sit here, I am contemplating posting the link to this article on Facebook and again asking for comments on how early our Facebook friends would consider decorating for Christmas.  It really would be fun and interesting to know.

The reality is that I have known people who criticize others for decorating for Christmas too early.  Maybe reading this article will change those people’s minds and encourage themselves and others to think about decorating well before December.  And OK, I get how September and October might be a little too early for most people, but come November 1st????  As I said before….GO FOR IT!  Any excuse to be happy works for me!

Here is the article, and while it is short, the message is clear.  I hope reading it makes you as happy as it did me.


Psychologists Confirm People Who Decorate For Christmas Early Are Happier, So Now You Have Justification

August 16, 2019 by MURPHY MORONEY

 If you were one of those families who had their tree decorated and the Christmas village out and in full swing by Nov. 1, you might be in luck. According to experts, decorating for Christmas early may make you happier, so you might want to consider pulling your garlands and gigantic Santa statues down from the attic a bit sooner.

“In a world full of stress and anxiety, people like to associate to things that make them happy, and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood,” psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told Unilad. “Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extends the excitement!” That seems logical enough.

Pyschotherapist Amy Molin agreed, explaining that Christmas decorations can take you back to a simpler time, at least mentally. “Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past, and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.” She also says that it can help those who have lost someone feel closer to the loved one in question, adding that “decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”



Colin, one of our employees who grew up in Granby, Connecticut, was telling us the fyfe and drum corps he was a member of when he was a kid was celebrating their 50th Anniversary this month!!  “What is a fyfe and drum corps?”, Kristie asked.  While I had heard of fyfe and drum corps, I was really curious to learn more about this type of corps with children members.   Colin explained that his corps was a marching band which consisted of all young people playing fyfes, bass drums, and snare drums.  There were also members who carried flags.  They had their own bus to travel in and participated in parades and other community events all over New England and occasionally other areas.  Colin also explained that this corps, created half a century ago, has a really unique history.  We all found it so unique we decided to share.  First is a summary about the history of Fyfing and Drumming, and then are some of the details about the Marquis of Granby Ancient Fyfe and Drum Corps, which Colin was a member of for close to 8 years.


The History of Fyfing and Drumming

In colonial America, between 1771 and 1786, boys between the ages of nine and thirteen were drafted to serve as fyfers or drummers in a fighting unit. These boys did not carry guns or swords, but fought with their music. The armies of our nation would not have succeeded without these young musicians, as every command was sounded through their instruments, whether on the battlefield or marching down a country road. One called the men to assemble, or summoned the doctor to a wounded solider; another gave the order to advance, retreat or shoot; and yet another called the weary troops together for meals, such as they were. At the end of a long day of battle, the sound of “taps” rang through the night.

A fife (ancient spelling is fyfe, the spellings are used interchangeably here) is a small, high‐pitched, transverse flute that is similar to the piccolo, but louder and shriller due to its narrower bore. The fife originated in fourteenth century Switzerland, and its use was spread throughout Europe by Swiss mercenaries. In medieval Europe, it was used in folk music and dances throughout all social classes. It is often used in military and marching bands. Someone who plays the fife is called a fifer. The word fife comes from the German Pfeife, or pipe, ultimately derived from the Latin word pipare.

The fife was one of the most important musical instruments in America’s Colonial period. Fifes are made mostly of wood, although Military and marching fyfes have metal reinforcing bands around the ends called ferrules, which protect the wood from damage. The fife is loud and piercing, but also extremely small, light and portable. By some reports, a military fife can be heard up to 3 miles away over artillery fire. This makes it very useful for signaling on the battlefield and it’s military use can be traced back to European armies as far back as the 1400s in Switzerland and southern Germany. By the 1500s, the fife was a standard infantry instrument in Europe. Accompanied by a snare drum, the company’s fifer was responsible for conveying orders in battle. These included order to fire, retreat, advance and so forth. The fifers and drummers also gave signals at camp such as the call to arms. While the infantry company marched, the drummer and the fifer set the cadence. During marches, fifers improvised tunes, creating variations on a theme while keeping the rhythm of the march. While the unit rested or camped, the fifers and drummers played music to entertain the soldiers. By the 18th century, military use of fifers was regulated by armies throughout Europe and the American colonies. The rank of Fife Major was introduced as a noncommissioned officer who was responsible for the regiment’s fifers, just as a Drum Major was responsible for the drummers.

By the late 19th century, warfare was changing and fifes were no longer practical as combat signaling devices. British armies stopped using fifers in the 1890s and the United States stopped in 1904. The fife can still be heard in some Appalachian folk music, playing lively dance tunes. American slaves adopted fifes in their musical traditions, which derived from African music. African‐American fife‐and‐drum music was one of the many sources of Blues music. The center of the fife and drum community today is in New England, and most notably in Connecticut. Here there remains an active and enthusiastic group that continues to play fife and drum music in a folk tradition that has gone on since just after the American Civil War. Internationally, the fyfe’s military legacy lives on primarily through historical reenactment Corps in Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


The Marquis of Granby Ancient Fyfe and Drum Corps is an all-volunteer managed, youth corps composed of young men and women between the ages of 8 and 21.

The Marquis (pronounced “mar-kwiss”) is a historical recreation of a military unit of the 18th century, and has maintained historic accuracy with few exceptions.  Founded in 1969 in Granby, Connecticut, the Marquis’ goal was to create a corps that could add both music and pageantry to community events.

The original founders sought to demonstrate the sound and presence of a pre-revolutionary colonial militia sponsored by a titled Englishman, John Manners (thus the English pronunciation of Marquis) who was the titular head of a militia in the colonies before the Revolution. The Connecticut 18th Militia was located in the area we now know as The Granbys, with Joseph Forward as Captain of one of the companies in the militia. Thus, the official name for the present day corps is: The Connecticut 18th Militia, Captains Joseph Forward’s Company, The Marquis of Granby’s Regiment. Captain Joseph Forward is buried in East Granby, CT. One of the ninety-six corps registered with The Company of Fifers and Drummers (headquartered in Ivoryton, CT), the Marquis of Granby is one of a few whose drum major and flag line follows the Von Steuben manual of arms. Von Steuben was the Prussian officer who taught Washington’s troops at Valley Forge the necessity of following precise drill and maneuvers in order to obtain the discipline necessary to be victorious in battle. Each new Marquis member must learn and become proficient in the musket drill before marching or advancing further. The same street discipline of our colonial troops is seen today when one observes the unique marching style of the Marquis with their “high-stepping” and “trooping”. You will not see a member of the Corps talk, smile, or look around while performing (well… hardly ever) as that would not have been allowed in a well-trained military unit in the Revolutionary War

The Marquis of Granby is dedicated to patriotism, honoring veterans and the military, and providing youth members an enriching experience of music, history and leadership.  They take pride in bringing pageantry to events, both large and small, public and private.


It is hard to imagine that children as young as 8 are able to play instruments as they march and remain so disciplined and focused.  If you want to see video of this fabulous group of young men and women, visit!!  Look under Gallery!  Oh, by the way, in case you were eager to know, Colin played the bass drum and even participated with the Corps one year playing and marching in Switzerland!


Fife & Drum Corps

Drummer - Male - Blond Hair

For most parents, August brings with it the reality that summer is soon coming to an end and the time has come to start thinking about getting kids ready to go back to school.  Of course, kids typically don’t want to even think about the start of school and are still hanging on to and relishing in the fun of end of summer vacations and enjoying all of the adventures and excitement of those beloved summer camps!

Yes, those summer camps. Who could forget going to day camp – singing songs, making crafts, playing games, hiking, swimming, and hanging out with friends.  For those kids who were lucky enough to be sent off to sleep-over camps, the memories are probably even more vivid.  Those weeks away from our parents tested our independence and forced a journey of learning how to grow and discover who we were.  It wasn’t always easy to be away from our rooms, our TVs, and the security of knowing mom and/or dad were within calling distance.  But the fun and excitement of forging happy memories and lifelong friendships made up for the nervousness of being away from home.  As with day camps, sleep over camps provided memories of games played, sports participated in, campfires and swimming in pools and lakes etc.  But there are also those recollections of whispering at night to our bunk mates about a guy or gal we had a crush on, lots of giggling, secret telling and planning ways to play pranks on the kids in adjacent cabins.

For those adults who now have kids of their own, the options of day and sleep over camps available to them are a world apart from decades ago.  The choices and specific types of camps can actually be overwhelming.  Whatever really interests your child, there is probably a camp geared toward that interest.  Below are 8 creative and interesting camps that are now available in the United States:

  1. Westchester Circus Arts Camp – Katonah, NY

Got a kid who wants to run away and join the circus? First he’s got to learn the tightropes. Although many camps offer the flying trapeze these days, this particular day camp offers instructions on what little kids need to know to be a big top bigwig: aerial arts, acrobatics, contortion, balance, juggling, stage presence, clowning, and more. Every week-long session ends with a show where campers reveal their brand-new circus skills, complete with lights, music, and popcorn machines!

  1. Wizards & Warriors Camp – Salem, MA

Prep your potions and powers! At this myth-inspired educational camp, run by Guard Up! Family Swordsmanship, kids invent their own characters to role-play in an ongoing, interactive story. No video games or dice here – campers act out the epic tale using their magical skill set, their smarts, and a variety of foam weapons. In addition to battling evil on their quest for treasure, kids will get a chance to participate in spell casting, alchemy, riddle solving, potion making, treasure hunting, and more. They’ll also gain a basic knowledge of subjects like chemistry, mythology, physics, critical thinking, and Latin.

  1. New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Camp – New York, NY

Hosted by the New York Film Academy, this four-week musical theater camp is for kids and teens who dream of performing on Broadway. Campers learn everything from performance skills to self-expression, helping them become “triple threats” with singing, dancing, and acting. They even work one-on-one with Broadway-level professionals! The New York Film Academy also offers summer camps for film, broadcast journalism, 3D animation, screenwriting, photography, game design, and more.

  1. Hollywood Stunts at Pali Overnight Adventures – Running Springs, CA

Pali Overnight Adventures offers 28 camp specialties like Girl Power, Culinary, Fashion, Secret Agent, Comedy, and Wacky Science – but Hollywood Stunt Camp will really catch the attention of little daredevils. Athletic (and brave) kids learn how to tumble, duel, stage fight, and fall from 30 feet – all under the direction and guidance of experienced professionals. Safety is the number-one priority: Mats are omnipresent and the equipment is state-of-the-art. The camp ends with a stunt show spectacular, where the kids show off what they’ve learned by directing and choreographing stunts.

  1. Camp All Star – Sheffield, MA

A program offered by Nike, Camp All Star lets boys and girls choose one of four specialties: basketball, soccer, volleyball, or ice hockey. Campers spend several hours each day participating in drills, training, and games with a college coach. Afternoons are designated to adventurous activities ranging from hiking to rock climbing to yoga – with the exceptions of Wednesdays, when campers head to the local lake! During the evenings, everyone gets together for social activities like campfires and capture-the-flag. Nature enthusiasts will love the views of Mount Everest and surrounding trails – and parents will love the camp’s proximity to Boston, Albany, New York City, and Hartford.

  1. Writopia Camp – Honesdale, PA

Bookworms and writers will adore Writopia lab, a 12-day sleepaway camp in the Poconos. Published authors and playwrights host literary workshops in the morning. In the afternoon, campers take artistic electives to improve skills – think poetry hikes, role playing games, literary sports, zine making, and more. At night, activities like scavenger hunts and campfires give kids a traditional summer camp experience.

  1. Digital Media Academy – Locations across the country

As a STEM summer camp, the Digital Media Academy caters to future designers, filmmakers, programmers, musicians, developers, engineers, animators, and creators. Colleges across the country offer the one-week or two-week camp to kids aged 7-17. Those of all skill levels are welcome, and overnight housing is available for teenage students.


  1. School of Rock – Brooklyn and New York, NY and also in Hoboken, NJ

Does your child fantasize about being a rockstar? Enroll them in one of School of Rock’s music camps in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Hoboken! No matter his/her skill level, your child will improve skills in guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, or vocals. Fun class options include Best of 90s Rock Camp, Queen Performance Camp, 10-Day Songwriting and Recording Camp, and Led Zeppelin Camp. Most sessions end with a live rock show, where campers can show off their newfound skills.


This list is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many more specialized camps to choose from including fire fighting and prevention, virtual on-line, weather, photography, cooking, foreign languages and engineering.  And there are also camps that are offered only to kids with special needs and medical conditions.  I can only imagine that after going to one of these specialized camps, kids will be getting an early start on knowing what they might want, or not want, to do with their lives one day, or possibly learning skills on how to deal with life.  And while this is awesome to think about, I am sure decades from now there will still be wonderful memories of playing games, singing around the campfire, having crushes, missing mom and dad and playing pranks on campmates!


Camp Girl

 Chef Holding Vegetables - Female with Blond Hair Camping Boy with Tent & CampfireTumbling BoyClown with RattlesElectric Guitar with Musical Notes

Last July we wrote our blog about how and when the unofficial holiday, Christmas in July, came to be. Most of us can’t wait for summer to get here, but then July hits and we find ourselves trying to come up with ways to get some relief from the heat. For those who are already dreaming of winter activities and starting to count down the days until Christmas, we recently discovered a fun summer alternative:  Year-Round Christmas Hotels!!    Yes, we couldn’t believe it either.
The news/media company, Simplemost, ran this article about two such amazing vacation spots here in the United States…


         The Inn at Christmas Place

The Inn at Christmas Place is located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. It is yet another hotel where you can go to experience the most wonderful time of the year — no matter what time of year it actually is.
Every room, from a standard guest room all the way up to the Santa Suite, comes equipped with a fully decorated  Christmas tree (of course!) and some rooms even have in-room hot tubs.  
Needless to say, that’s all you’ll need to feel nice and cozy, which is precisely what you crave during the Christmas season, isn’t it?
The hotel offers complimentary hot breakfasts and visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. If your kids had any doubt whether they are naughty or nice, well, they can ask the big man himself.
Naturally, the inn also provides cookies at bedtime for guests with a sweet tooth. After all, someone’s got to eat the cookies on Santa’s nights off!
As far as things to do, you can sit by the huge fireplace in the lobby, take a dip in the pool, or snap an elfie (that’s a selfie with an elf) with any of the Christmas paraphernalia.
Longing to sip cocoa in front of a nice, warm fire right about now? We can’t say we blame you!


Christmas Farm Inn & Spa

If New England is more your speed than the South, then you need to check out the Christmas Farm Inn & Spa in Jackson, New Hampshire.
As the name suggests, it’s always Christmastime at this sweet spot. The rooms in the Main Inn have clever, holiday-themed names, such as “Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” “Sleigh Bells,” “Three Wise Men” and “Blizten.”
Sip a cup of hot cocoa at the Mistletoe Pub, and you’ll feel the warm holiday spirit whether it’s July or December.
But here’s the best part: The Christmas Farm Inn & Spa offers wonderful packages such as their “Annual Journey to the North Pole,” in which guests can enjoy an evening train ride through the White Mountains along with a bunch of elves and, of course, Santa himself.


After reading about these two unique and fun hotels, I have a feeling many others who discover them might agree that celebrating Christmas in July sounds like a good idea. Just think about how much fun our kids and/or grand kids would have at one of these hotels!!  And us too!! While I am one of those who really doesn’t mind the hot weather, taking a short break from the heat and humidity of the summer does sound like a really “cool” idea. And now that I think about it, even during those times of the year when the weather is not hot and humid, celebrating Christmas at a relaxing hotel where someone else does all work involved might be pretty awesome!
What do YOU think?




Today is the first day of June.  Early this morning as I sat in my sunroom staring out at all the beautiful colors in my backyard, I thought of the old expression, “April showers bring May flowers”.   They sure do.  Depending upon where you live, flowers may start blooming earlier than in May, but that seems to be pretty accurate here where we live.  Every year around this time, one of my favorite things to do is relax in my sunroom in the morning with a cup of coffee or in late afternoon with a glass of wine, and admire all the beautiful flowers and flowering plants flourishing in our yard and garden.

I starting to get excited too, thinking about how much my granddaughter loved our daily walks around our garden looking at all the flowers when she came to visit last June.  She kept saying our garden is “sooooo beautiful and colorful”.  And since she will be visiting grandma again in a couple of weeks, I am really looking forward to reliving the experience with her.

As I started getting ready to begin my day, I couldn’t stop thinking about what other things we could do together that she would enjoy.  After breakfast I had to run out to the grocery store and post office, and on my way I drove past the local craft store.  Wait.  I know my granddaughter loves to do art projects.  How fun would it be to bring the beauty of our outdoor flowers INTO the house by making our own flowers which we can then share and enjoy all year long!?

When I got home, I googled “flower crafts” and of course there were so many sites to look at.  But then I found one that was geared toward preschoolers.  PERFECT!  I went through all the choices and picked my 3 favorites.  I made a list of the art supplies we would need and then drove back out to the craft store.  I got home, printed out the directions for the chosen crafts and cleared off the dining room table.  Everything is now laid out, organized and ready to go.

Here is the link to the article in case you also have young artists in your life who would enjoy spending the day indoors making fun “outdoor” arts and crafts:

I know this is going to be a grandma / granddaughter project that will make us both so happy.  No matter how perfect or imperfect our flowers turn out, my granddaughter will know how special she is to me.  And my hope is that this time together will create the most beautiful and colorful memories for both of us!


Coffee Cup - MetalArt & Craft ProjectsLove the Wine Your With with Dangling CorkArtist's Palette with Brushes

One of the best things that has come out of writing these blogs, is that I am learning so many things I did not know before.  For instance, this month I learned that the idea of a day to celebrate mothers not only began in the United States way back in the late 1800’s, but Mother’s Day as we know it today is now celebrated in over 40 countries around the world!

My research revealed that early advocates of Mother’s Day originally envisioned it as a day of peace, to honor and support mothers who lost sons and husbands to the carnage of the Civil War.  Julia Ward Howe, an American author and poet who wrote the song “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and was also an abolitionist and suffragette, thought it would be nice to have a day when women could join together for world peace.   So in 1870, Julia wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation”, a call to action asking mothers to unite. Then in 1873 she campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2nd.

As the call for a Mother’s Day carried on, it gained new momentum due to the efforts of Anna M. Jarvis, who among other things, was a social activist.  When Anna’s mother passed away in 1905, Anna began a letter-writing campaign to try to win the support for a national Mother’s Day holiday.  Anna and a group of friends reached out to influential leaders including William Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Wannamaker, to try to get them on board.  Like Julia Ward Howe, Anna believed mothers deserved their own special day and that it would help strengthen family bonds.  Anna eventually persuaded the church her mother attended in West Virginia to celebrate Mother’s Day on the second anniversary of her mother’s death, the 2nd Sunday of May. Anna’s persistence paid off and by 1911, Mother’s Day was celebrated in almost every state, with flowers quickly becoming a lasting tradition to express love on the occasion. In 1914, Congress passed a resolution designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, “a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” President Woodrow Wilson issued the first proclamation making it an official U.S. holiday.

Today, most countries join the United States and also celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, although other countries celebrate at other times during the year.  Regardless of the day it is celebrated however, the world seems to agree that Mother’s Day is a day to shower mothers with love and thanks for the devotion and care they provide to their children.  The way mothers are thanked varies from country to country, although it wasn’t long before people felt (especially in the US), that the holiday had become more of a profit-making affair as marketers try to play on the emotions of those celebrating their moms as a way to sell goods…especially florists and greeting card manufacturers.  I actually read that at some point Anna Jarvis became so disappointed in the holiday’s commercialization that she spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.

The article, “Mother’s Day Celebrations Around The World” by The Holiday Spot, explains how certain countries celebrate Mother’s Day and what type of “gifts” are typically given.    If you want to read the entire list, here is the link to the article:

I picked out two countries’ traditions which I thought were worth mentioning here…

The kindest…

Mother’s Day Celebrations in Sweden
The Swedish Red Cross sells little plastic flowers on the days leading up to Mother’s Day. They then use the money raised to help needy mothers and their children and will even send mothers with many children on vacation.

And the funniest…

 Mother’s Day Celebrations in Yugoslavia
Mothers’ Day is observed in December. The children sneak into their mother’s bedroom and tie her up in bed. When she awakes she promises to give the children gifts that she has hidden in order to be untied.

However Mother’s Day is celebrated, I am sure everyone will agree that moms deserve to be honored in some way.  I might be in the minority, but the best Mother’s Day gifts I have ever received were hand-written letters from my sons when they were young expressing their love and appreciation for all I did for them.  I would rather have those letters, which I saved and have tucked away in my closet, than any bouquet of flowers or gift card to a spa  or to my favorite store so I could shop for myself (which I DO love to do!)

I just hope every mom in the world gets to enjoy this special day in the way that means the most to her.  Here’s to mothers all over the world!  Enjoy the love, celebrate, and look forward to hearing those very special words, “Thank you, Mom!”

Shopper with Flower Dresslove you to the moon and back christmas ornaments 

Spa Queen

Bed Family with 3 People & Heart

Peace SignGardener with Flower Pot- Brown Hair - Female

Church Family with 3, 4 or 5 People

I recently came across this New York Times article from last year and it fascinated me, because although I am known as the one to typically avoid riding amusement park rides I consider “scary”, I have always been completely petrified of roller coasters.  When my boys were young they used to beg me to ride on roller coasters with them.  I just could not do it.  The climb to the top, the speed of the decline, and all the whipping around is just way too much for me.  I was a good mom though, because I DID accompany them on other rides – like um, say merry-go-rounds and bumper cars!  Go me!

So the article is written about this man, Martin Lewison,  who not only is NOT afraid of riding on roller coasters, he claims he has ridden over 1,800 different roller coasters in more than 33 different countries over the past dozen years!!  How many people can say that??   How many would want to be able to say that?  Just thinking about it gives me nightmares.

According to the article, Martin Lewison is an assistant professor of marketing and management at Farmingdale State College located on Long Island, NY, and on his first day of class he actually told his students, “One of the reasons I took this job is that there’s a theme park (Adventureland) across the street.”  After a while, Professor Lewison actually started walking his classes over to Adventureland for field trips, and presently he works his amusement park knowledge into his curriculum.  He has even created special classes such as Theme Parks and Tourism!

Since all the traveling Professor Lewison does is a bit much on a teacher’s salary, he says he was lucky enough to marry his wife, Dr. Cheryl Lewison, who now travels with him.  Dr. Lewison left a law career to pursue her medical degree and is now an ER doctor.   Thank goodness Dr. Lewison is able and willing to help fund all their trips, especially since they travel to countries like China and New Zealand.   The best part??  She shares his enthusiasm for roller coasters and enjoys keeping track of how many times they have ridden on them.

I wish I could take a survey to find out if most of us are thrill seekers like the Lewisons, or if more are like me who are leery, well ok afraid, to ride on roller coasters and partake in other thrilling activities such as zip lining and parasailing.   I sort of wish I could get out of my comfort zone and experience the thrill and excitement that the Lewisons do, but I guess I will have to settle to just read about them and imagine what their lives are like.

No matter where you fall on the “thrill seeking” spectrum, I encourage you to read the entire article below.  It’s definitely an interesting and thrilling story.


Suitcases for Two People


Zip Line Female with Blond Hair



Parasailing - Male - Blond



Teacher Holding Book - Male with Brown Hair


Lawyer or Judge with Books




Doctor with Pad- Female - Blond Hair






College Boy with Blond Hair










New York Times article…

September 6, 2018

By Corey Kilgannon

“I’ll be honest with you,” Martin Lewison, 52, told his students on the first day of class on Tuesday. “One of the reasons I took this job is that there’s a theme park across the street.”

This might seem like an odd way to kick off the semester, even if Farmingdale State College does sit directly across Route 110 from Adventureland Amusement Park on Long Island.

But for Mr. Lewison, an amusement park enthusiast obsessed with roller coasters, there is no ignoring the fact that Turbulence — Adventureland’s bright green, plunging, spinning coaster — can be seen from the university’s business school.

Mr. Lewison, an assistant professor of marketing and management, walks his classes over to Adventureland for field trips, and works his amusement park expertise into his curriculum. He has created special classes such as Theme Parks and Tourism, and drawn material from his trips as a self-described coaster nut: a serial rider with few peers when it comes to amassing visits to different coasters around the country and the world.

He says he has ridden over 1,800 different roller coasters in more than 33 different countries over the last dozen years, a tally recorded along with other top riders on the website

The constant travel might seem unaffordable on a public university professor’s salary, were it not for the generosity of his wife, Dr. Cheryl Lewison, who shares his coaster affinity and his impressive riding totals.

Dr. Lewison left a corporate law career to pursue medicine, and is now an emergency room doctor at Queens Hospital Center. Her income helps finance the trips.

“I thank my lucky stars every day — I definitely hit the jackpot” in marrying Dr. Lewison, he said. “I remember I told my father that I met a woman who was a lawyer and a doctor. He said, “You marry that girl tonight.’”

Both grew up riding coasters, but their joint pursuit began in earnest in 2007, about a year into their marriage. Early on, they could rack up nearly 200 coasters a year by hitting jackpot sites like Cedar Point park in Ohio, where they could ride a dozen coasters in one trip. Then they began hitting coasters all over the world.

“He said that when we got to 1,000 coasters, we’d stop,” she said, “and conveniently, he forgot.”

They visited 125 last year, Mr. Lewison said, and this year’s expeditions have ranged from New Zealand to the Jersey Shore. In coming months, they plan on hitting amusement parks in the Middle East and Vietnam, not to mention the Halloween festivities at Great Adventure in New Jersey.

They have traveled to China six times and ridden more than 150 coasters there, said Mr. Lewison, who recently tried planning a marathon trip to a series of obscure Chinese parks involving constant flights.

“But my wife said, ‘We’re going to die in a plane crash and people will say, ‘What were they thinking?’” he said

Mr. Lewison grew up in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., cutting his teeth on smaller rides at nearby Palisades Park — which is long gone — and then on coasters such as Lightnin’ Loops at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, the Dragon Coaster at Rye Playland in Westchester County, and the Cyclone in Coney Island.

His obsession blossomed by age 13 when he traveled to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Va., and rode the Loch Ness Monster 22 times in one day, he said.

His coaster craze cooled after hearing about the fire in 1984 that killed eight teenagers at the Haunted Castle at Six Flags, but it resurfaced while he pursued a doctorate in business in the 1990s at the University of Pittsburgh, thanks to the coasters at nearby Kennywood amusement park.

In his Theme Parks class last week, he apologized for not being quite up to speed. Relatives were staying with them in their modest apartment in Forest Hills, Queens, to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament, he explained, “so I can’t get any work done.”

When Mr. Lewison asked the class about theme park experiences, a student described her recent internship as an operator of the popular Flight of Passage ride at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“You worked on Flight of Passage?” said a star-struck Mr. Lewison, who explained that he had ridden it during an event held by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions trade association.

After the student regaled the class with a detailed recount of Disney’s strict dress code and other requirements, Mr. Lewison sighed and said, “It’s going to be a good semester.”

He said he had “a pocket full of Adventureland tickets” and that he planned on dismissing the class early because, “I got a date with a roller coaster I don’t want to miss.”

He drove the few short blocks to the park, with a podcast — the Disney Dish — playing in his car. At the park, he said hello to Paul Gentile and Bob Amoruso, two Adventureland executives who he invites to his class as guest speakers.

Mr. Lewison walked over to Turbulence, a German-made coaster he rode the day it opened, May 22, 2015, for his 1,268th official coaster.

He took off his glasses and rode it, arms shooting up during the drops. He was the only person on the ride in a shirt and a tie.

“It’s got a lot of punch for a small footprint,” he said with admiration back on stable land. “I’d travel 3,000 miles to ride something like this.”

This month’s Blog was written by one of our staff members, Terry.  Since it is March, Terry thought it would be neat to write about NYC’s St Patrick’s Day parade because not only did her mom grow up in Ireland, but she herself grew up in New York!


St. Patrick’s Day is FUN!  That pretty much says it all.  My family and I celebrate this special holiday by wearing green, eating corned beef and cabbage, singing Irish songs, and drinking!

My mom is one of 7 kids, yet she is the only one in her family who left Ireland and came to live in the United States.  She came over on a boat when she was about 19 and spent the rest of her life here; first in Brooklyn and then on Long Island, where she still currently lives.

So while growing up my siblings and I learned a lot about Irish traditions, culture, and about how much Irish people enjoy life.  Since the rest of my mom’s family remained in Ireland, through the years we have had visits from them and had traditional Irish gifts (think everything shamrocks and leprechauns) sent to us on holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day!

The one thing that seems so crazy to me though, is that after growing up and living so close to the city, no one in my family has ever been to the famous St. Patrick’s Day parade held each year in Manhattan.  While I currently live in Maryland, I am still hoping to go one year, but this year I thought it would be interesting to read up and share with everyone who also hasn’t been, just what it is all about.  I mean I have seen the parade on TV, but I never really watched it for more than an hour each year.

Time to learn a little bit about how New Yorkers (and those who visit from other states) celebrate this “fun” Irish Day.


Here are a few things I read on line:

*New York City has a large Irish community, so there’s no wonder that one of the biggest Irish holidays—St.Patrick’s Day—is widely celebrated there. Everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day. And everyone turns out for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the party that follows at the city’s pubs. The parade kicks off on 44th Street at 11am and marches up 5th Avenue to 86th street, passing St Patrick’s Cathedral along the way. Be sure to get there early for a good spot and wear something green! The parade draws about 250,000 marchers and two million spectators annually.

*The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held every year on March 17, (Except when March 17 falls on a Sunday. It is then moved to Saturday March 16 because of religious observances).

*Back in the 18th century when wearing green, speaking Irish, and singing Irish songs was banned, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was founded by a bunch of homesick Irish patriots and military members. Since then the parade has become one of New York’s favorites.

*The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade originated in 1762 and is an enduring, beloved tradition. Over 250 years since its inception, this remains a true marchers’ parade – no floats or automobiles allowed! The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade is billed as the largest and oldest parade in the Western Hemisphere and is truly a monumental spectacle.

*Floats, bagpipers, dancers, and more take to the streets in the thousands to celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland– with plenty of Irish music to set pace! The city itself erupts into celebration, with bars and pubs filled to the nines with people wearing green and orange. Whether you take to the outdoors to watch the parade or watch it from the television of a nearby bar or restaurant, you’re sure to get swept up in the high-energy of the event.

*Millions of spectators gather throughout the day to celebrate the Irish culture. Aside from the parade, several other St. Patrick’s Day events like stand-up comed​y shows, dance parties, and concerts take place in the city. So don’t forget your green shirt and hat, red beard, and your beer or whiskey and join the party!


Maybe next year I will do some early planning and coordinate visiting my mom over St. Patrick’s Day, and finally witness this exciting and fun event in person.  My mom is getting older but maybe I can convince her to tag along…..maybe it will help her relive a little of her Irish childhood.  Erin Go Bragh mom…(Ireland Forever)!


Irish House with ShamrockIrishman with ShamrockIrelandBeer Mug with FrothNew York Big AppleIrish Top Hat & Dangling ShamrocksIrish Dancer in Green & Gold Dress

Irish Dancer with Shamrock

Irish Top Hat on Shamrock Glass

In my experience, there are several aspects to how people feel about watching professional football. There are those who could care less, even if one of the teams playing represents their hometown.  There are those who live and breathe for their favorite team, and will arrange their social lives around their games. And then there are those who are so passionate about football, they will watch as many games during the season as they can, regardless of which teams are playing.

And then…there is the Super Bowl.   Watching this annual championship game has become a tradition in America.  Of course there are still those who have no desire to watch even this biggest football game of the year.  But there will be almost 100 million Americans who WILL watch the game and/or take part in some sort of Super Bowl celebration.  Included in this record-breaking number are the die-hard fans of the two teams playing, those who just enjoy watching any football game, and those who don’t watch many games during the season but love to watch this one spectacular sporting event. I kind of fall into yet another category of those who are not really into football or the championship game itself, but wouldn’t want to miss it just to check out and critique the expensive (about 5 million dollars for a 30 second spot) commercials and the epic half-time show (Maroon 5 will be starring in this year’s performance).

Over the years I have watched the Super Bowl (i.e. the commercials and half-time show) at home with just my family.  Other times I have watched it with a small gathering of family and friends.  And there have been several years when I have attended what I would consider a fun but relatively low-key Super Bowl party.   From what I have learned however, there are lots of people who really go all out and put a ton of thought and effort into throwing full-blown parties.  Super Bowl parties have become such a big deal that I have seen on-line articles to help inspire people to come up with ideas on how to throw the best Super Bowl party possible.  There is advice on how to decorate your home, what type of games to play, and what team apparel to wear.  There are suggestions including why it is best to have a keg of beer so you don’t run out of bottles and cans, and why you should also be able to offer your non beer-loving guests wine and mixed drinks.  And since more food is eaten on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day besides Thanksgiving, there is no wonder why there are many recipe ideas provided so all of your guests stay full and happy.  The biggest surprise is finding recommendations on where to go to purchase the best TV for the event!   So much planning goes into these parties and apparently the celebrating continues on even after the game ends. Who cares if everyone has to wake up early for work on Monday morning?  It seems like nothing will stop the fun!

This year the Super Bowl match-up will be the New England Patriots vs. the Los Angeles Rams.  So when the clock strikes 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, where will YOU be? Even if you have no spectacular party to go to and will just be sitting home alone cuddling with your pet, it sounds like watching all or some of the game, enjoying and rating the costly commercials, and/or experiencing a (hopefully) very entertaining half-time show is the “in” thing to do!  Unfortunately I don’t have a big “bash” to go to this year, but I will have a few friends over and will do what I can to make it an enjoyable evening.  Good luck to both teams!

Beer Mug with Froth Wine Lover Barrel with GrapesDrink - Fun & FancyChef Holding Vegetables - Female with Blond HairTV - Remote ControlNew England Patriots Football

Did you know that the concept of New Year’s resolutions started with the ancient Babylonians about 4,000 years ago!?!?  I read on that Babylonians made promises to their gods regarding things like paying back money owed and/or returning items borrowed during the previous year.  If the Babylonians followed through on their promises, their gods would bestow favor on them for the upcoming year. If not, they would fall out of their gods’ favor – something all Babylonians wanted to avoid.  Similar practices started not long after that as well in other cultures, most or all of them also had ties to religion and gods.

Things are totally different today, of course.  Most of today’s resolutions are made to oneself and focus on self-improvement.  According to recent research found on the Statistic Brain Research Institute website, while as many as 45% of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving their goals.

This low number does not surprise me at all since I am totally guilty of not following through on some of my past resolutions.  Ok, well most of them.  Thinking back, I can remember making resolutions to stay on a diet and eat healthier, exercise more, start reading more books, watch less TV, grow and maintain a vegetable garden, take more time to relax and meditate.  Oh I can go on and on.  I do always believe in myself and really think I will fulfill my resolution goals each year.  I typically do stick to most resolutions for at least a few months, but as each year goes on the “good” behavior always seemed to dwindle.  I will try not to feel too guilty about this since The Statistic Brain Research Institute confirms that I am certainly not alone.

What I do ask myself though, is why? Is it laziness?  Lack of motivation?  Not caring? Or do we all have the best intentions at heart yet life just gets in the way?  I am going with the last reason…or should I say, “excuse”.

Now that I know however, that the world has continued to make New Year’s resolutions for the past 4,000 or so years, I am not going to give up.  The concept has to have lasted for good reason.  And since today is New Year’s Day, I am not too late.  I think beginning today I will make a promise to myself and will commit to following through till the end of 2019.  I will promise myself to exercise 30 minutes a day for a minimum of 3 days a week.

I really think I can do this.  I really do.  Since time will tell, I guess you will have to check in and read our January 2020 blog to see if I actually succeed!  I will at the very least, promise to be honest about it.   Happy New Year and good luck keeping your own promises!

Yoga Figure - Blond

Garden - Love to Garden

Sushi - Rawsome!


Weight Lifter with Black Pants- Brown Hair


We were sitting around our workshop last week taking a little break when one of our elves, Jacquie, asked, “do you consider “The Nightmare Before Christmas” a Halloween or Christmas movie”? The consensus was mixed. Gina then asked Jacquie what she thought. She said at her house it has always been a tradition to watch it around Halloween, but recently one of her friends on Facebook posted how she can’t wait to watch it with her kids over the Christmas holiday; so now she is not sure.

We all thought it was such an interesting topic and decided it is a matter of opinion. When it comes to family traditions, there is no right or wrong answer. Surprisingly, every one of us did admit to having that one favorite Christmas movie we watched each year with our families. While no one claimed “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as their favorite, several of us agreed upon “Miracle on 34th Street”. The other movies that were voted as favorites were: “White Christmas”, “Bad Santa”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Elf”, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  One other thing we shared was that along with watching our favorite Christmas movie during the holidays, there were other activities we felt were treasured Christmas traditions, especially when done with family and friends. These other traditions included making and decorating Gingerbread Houses, mailing out Christmas cards, drinking hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, writing letters to and baking cookies for Santa (those with younger kids at home), sitting together and listening to Christmas carols, and of course decorating our trees!

Jacquie then brought up the “Nightmare Before Christmas” movie again and said she thinks her family might begin watching it both at Halloween AND at Christmas. Why not!? New traditions can become just as treasured as old ones.

After a moment of silence, Jacquie declared that we should start our own tradition with each other. What a great idea!! Since the Christmas season is a very busy time for us here at Ornaments With Love, we decided that after our busy season ends, we will get together to watch one of our favorite Christmas movies! We will start with that. Who knows what other fun activities we might add to our new Christmas movie-watching tradition next year!

The best part about the decision was that we unanimously agreed that “The Nightmare Before Christmas” was going to be the first movie on our list to watch! We will see you soon, Jack Skellington!!

   family christmas tree ornament   Hot Chocolate Family 

Christmas Greeting Couple with 1 Dog or Cat   Cookie Family    Christmas Traditions


Here in the United States when we think about November holidays, I am pretty sure the first holiday that comes to most people’s minds is Thanksgiving.  Which makes sense because who doesn’t love the delicious food and family time that comes along with Thanksgiving?  The irony is that the most important thing about Thanksgiving is that it is a day of thanks.  And I can’t think of anyone who deserve thanks more than our veterans do.  Which brings us to a second November holiday which we should put just as much thought and effort into – Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is observed on November 11th each year and celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans…those we have lost, those who have retired, and those still on active duty. Our own Fred Bell served in the military and I am so thankful and proud of my husband’s service.  We also have several on our staff with family members who have served or presently are serving in the military.  I would guess that everyone is honored to know of at least one veteran…either personally or through a friend.

A cousin of mine is so proud to have a nephew who will be graduating from the Naval Academy next year.  Each year, many men and women begin to serve in the military as either enlisted soldiers or as officers. However one’s service begins, we as a country are so fortunate to gain brave, courageous, and patriotic members into each of our 5 Armed Forces branches:

Army:  Largest Group of Armed Forces. Best known for fighting on the ground.  Includes aviators, air defense, and military support staff.

Marines:  Carry out missions on land, sea, and air.  They are used for quick responses to emergencies at home and around the world.

Navy:   Known for operations at sea.  Sailors serve on submarines, aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers.  And their divers go deep under water to repair ships.

Air Force: Carries out operations in the air to include spy missions, air support, and air combat.

Coast Guard:  Protect America’s 300 ports, coastlines, and waterways.

United States Military Academy Graduate

Navy Ship

Air Force - Ethnic

Coast Guard









It truly is amazing how much dedication, talent, and specialized training there is within each branch.


And now that November is here and we look forward to enjoying a feast of turkey, stuffing, and apple pie with family and friends, I hope we can stop and take time to thank all of our military heroes.  I am sure other countries feel the same way about their own military.  It’s the sacrifice, devotion and love of country that is just so inspiring!


Military - We Honor All Who Served

American Hero Frame Picture opening 1.25" diameter

Yes, yes….I realize we are a Christmas ornament company.  But who DOESN’T love Halloween?  We actually love it so much that one of our staff workers, or as we like to call them, elves, encouraged me to write our October blog about Halloween.

So here I am, and I figured the first thing I would do is write about how Halloween came to be the holiday it is today.   However, I had no idea how many pages and pages of information I would find about its origin.  To make it easy, I have just provided this short recap I found on the History Channel website, and attached a link to the entire article if anyone would enjoy reading about it.   I will take the time and read it myself when I can.  It is never too late to learn something new, right?

“Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.”

I did read a little more of this article to learn that there are countries who celebrate this holiday in different ways.  I am glad that Halloween here in the United States is all about the fun and the costumes.  We actually do sell many ornaments this time of year to moms, dads, and grandparents, etc. who want a special way to remember all the costumes the kids they love wear each year. And hanging these personalized ornaments on your Christmas tree just keeps the fun of the fall/winter holiday season going.  We have many ornaments to help remember the great costumes kids wear today including superheroes, princesses, pirates, unicorns, astronauts, Harry Potter and Paw Patrol  characters, mermaids and dragons!

Pirate on Chest







Paw Patrol Chase - Police Dog




Here at the workshop, we even have several elves who come to work on Halloween in a variety of costumes.  And what would Halloween be without candy?!  We have a wide selection of chocolate and other candy circulating all day long.  What fun!  And while we do work hard like we do every day, we also find time to turn Halloween into a day of laughing, scaring each other, and eating a little toooo much candy.  But it is so worth it.  And since the elf who encouraged me to write this blog is usually the ringleader of the fun, it is not surprising that she felt this blog needed to be written!!



A customer recently asked what our most popular ornaments were, so we decided to post our Top 10 personalized ornaments from 2017 in case others are wondering as well.  What a great way to get an idea about which ornaments to choose for your own family or to give as gifts for those times when you are just not sure what someone else might love.

Our Top 10:

White Door with Pet Dish

Why not include the family pet on our White Door ornament?   This ornament is a great way to record a recent move to a new home or an existing family’s address, or to give as a gift to welcome a new neighbor.








Family Tree

This Christmas tree with 2 cute snow people can be personalized with up to 25 names (or a message up to 25 words) and can be used for grandparents, large families, office groups, teachers or any other large group. Use the yellow star for the date.

Family Tree with Snow Couple








Computer Person

Who can exist in today’s world without being at least a little computer literate? Available in both male and female, the front of the desk has enough room for a name, company name, favorite game or favorite web site and the year.

Computer Person - Male - Brown Hair








College or High School Desk

Know what it’s like to be buried under a pile of books or spend a night on your laptop, drinking coffee to stay awake? Your high school or college student sure does! Our 3D Desk ornament represents everything your student is accustomed to while working hard at their own desk– from their school pride flag to their stack of books to their cell phone and more.

College or High School Desk - 3D








House Family with 6 People and 2 Pets

Our House Family ornament with 2 pets is a fun way to remember life the way it is at home now!  We also have options for 3, 4, 5 and 6 people with no pets, 1 or 2 pets.










Engaged Snow Couple

How can you not enjoy seeing how happy an engaged couple you love is? Dressed in their finest winter scarves and hats, our newly engaged snow couple  is proud and pleased to show their new sparkling engagement ring.









Bed Couple with Pet

How cozy it is to snuggle up in bed on a cold night with your favorite person.  Add in an adorable pet (or 2) and call it a perfect night!








Celebration Champagne

Whether one celebrates a wedding, engagement, new baby or another life event, a champagne toast is always a symbol of congratulations. Our Champagne Bottle ornament with two glasses is a great way to symbolically drink that toast to every lucky couple in your life.









World Traveler

Our World Traveler ornament can tell the story of travels made now or even coming up in the future.  Whether you or someone you care about would love to remember the fun made or are about to make traveling to new and unique destinations, this ornament will surely do the trick!  Bon Voyage!

World Traveler








New Job or Employment

You did it! You finally got that awesome new job!  Get ready to hit the desk from 9 to 5 and remember to fill out your W-2s. It will be worth the effort when you start getting paychecks! Celebrate your new job with our personalized Employment ornament, and don’t forget to add your new company’s name.








So there you have it…our customers’ favorites in 2017.  We hope you agree that these are the best.  If not, our Top 10 ornaments for 2018 will let us know!  


Is visiting all 50 states on your bucket list? It is on mine; and a few articles I have recently read reveals that I am in good company…

There are both domestic and international travelers determined to visit all 50 states. For those who take the challenge very seriously, merely crossing the border or changing planes at an airport doesn’t count; they feel they must either eat a meal, stay the night, or visit a state’s historic spot or monument, such as The Grand Canyon in Arizona. Whatever your litmus test is, this goal can be interesting, exciting and even educational.

There is actually an online community called the All 50 States Club that encourages people to accomplish this challenge. One is eligible to join the club as an Associate Member after visiting 35 states. Continental Members can join after visiting every state except for Alaska and Hawaii, and those who visit all 50 states are automatic lifetime members. The only rule required to add a state to one’s list is that you must put a foot on the ground and breathe it’s air, which definitely makes the goal a little easier to achieve. This rule gets me thinking about Four Corners Monument, where there is a marker at the point where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado intersect. One foot in each state and breathe in! 4 down at one time!

I have actually visited enough states to be an Associate member, so I am going to consider joining The All 50 States Club to give myself the push needed to get to all 50. If anyone is interested in learning more and/or joining here is the link…

Visiting all 50 states is a fun goal to have on one’s bucket list. And while some people may feel certain states won’t have much to offer, my experience so far is that every state has at least a little something special that everyone would enjoy. Might be time to plan the next out of state trip and get it checked off the list!



Search all of our personalized US States and other personalized travel ornaments to help get you motivated…




Road Trip USA California














My girlfriends and I went to a local bar for a late lunch the other day, but apparently we picked the wrong time to go because we could barely talk to one another.  The place was so loud from customers young and old cheering (and sometimes yelling) at the TV screens that were scattered about.  When our server came to our table my friend Susan said to him “It’s just a soccer game, what’s the big deal?”  He looked at us in disbelief and said “Ladies, it’s the FIFA World Cup – the entire world is watching!”. Susan laughed and said, “well apparently we aren’t part of the entire world!”

Although we picked the wrong time to enjoy our typical meal out with lots of “girl talk”, I decided this might be the RIGHT time to add a second blog, about the World Cup, to our site this month.  There was so much more history and information provided on-line regarding this event than I was expecting, so I will do my best to provide an accurate, but brief summary:

The World Cup is the biggest single-event sporting competition in the world.   It is contested by the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body. This soccer championship (referred to as “football” in most other countries) has been held every four years since it’s first tournament in 1930 (except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War).

Teams consists of players representing their own countries who are chosen by each national team’s coach.  The qualification phase takes place over the preceding 3 years of each event to determine which teams qualify for the tournament phase.  After this, 32 teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation, compete in the tournament phase for the title at venues within the host nation over a period of about a month.

The past 20 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight national teams. Brazil has won five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany (current champion) and Italy , with four titles each; Argentina and Uruguay , with two titles each; and  England, France and Spain, with one title each.   What was most surprising to me is that the 1930 World Cup still represents the United States‘ best ever finish at the event, and their third-place result is still the highest finish by a team outside of Europe and South America.

I do have to add that our server was pretty accurate – the World Cup is the most prestigious association soccer tournament and the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. More than one billion people watched at least part of the 2014 World Cup final, according to FIFA.

Wow….ok so I guess my girlfriends and I are really not part of the entire world when it comes to enjoying soccer.  But now I can see why soccer is such a popular sport with all the school children in our country.  Good luck to the teams left in the tournament.   Hopefully the USA will be able to reach their best result yet in 2022.  And after reading so much about the FIFA World Cup, I just might have to watch a game before the tournament ends to see what all the fuss is all about!


See our selection of personalized soccer ornaments for your favorite soccer player!

Soccer - Female Kicking Ball - Green & White - Brown HairSoccer with Field & Star

I remember one day many years ago, a friend asked me if I had ever heard of Christmas in July. “Of course”, I said. After I went home I realized that although I had heard of it, I didn’t really know how or why it started. So I did some research to find out.

Last week I thought about Christmas in July again when one of the girls on our staff asked me what it was all about. I explained what I knew to her, and then sat down and decided to write about it – just in case there are others out there who don’t know the hows and whys….

Christmas in July is not an official holiday. And while I have discovered that there are actually a couple of different explanations about how the tradition started, I will share what I learned the first time I did my research. For countries in the Southern Hemisphere like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, seasons are reversed. So for them, December is a warm month while July is generally the coldest month of the year. For this reason these countries, while they still celebrate Christmas on December 25th, have a second Christmas celebration in July in order to experience Christmas with a winter feel like the rest of us in the Northern Hemisphere do.

Then at some point in time, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere began a Christmas in July tradition as well, just for the fun of it. Over the years different states in America and other countries have come up with their own unique ways of celebrating. People throw parties that may include a visit from Santa, the serving of “cold” food and treats such as ice cream, and the exchanging of gifts. Hallmark will run some of their original holiday television films in July and lots of department stores and retailers will advertise “Christmas in July” sales. Places like night clubs and theme parks will even hold celebratory events open to the public – some will actually ship in tons of snow and attract thousands of participants.

Here at Ornaments With Love, we of course LOVE Christmas! So celebrating our favorite holiday in December AND July would make us happy. Maybe it’s time for us to join in on the fun.  I think this year we will gather with our staff and families and begin our own Christmas in July tradition……maybe just without the tons of snow!



When I started thinking about what to write for our June Blog, the first thing that came to mind was vacations and all the wonderful places most people start planning or have already planned to go to as summer approaches.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to begin.  Sitting on my desk was the Costco Connection that had been delivered a few days prior, so I decided to look through that first.  To my surprise there was an article about vacations in it.  The article however, was actually focused on something I was not aware of…apparently most people do not go on vacations.  It stated that in 2016, 54% of Americans left a total of 662 million unused vacation days on the table.  For the past 15 years the use of paid time off in the United States has taken a nosedive.  One of the biggest reasons is that many out there have become what they call “work martyrs” who are so stressed at work they feel their jobs cannot be done if they leave to go away on vacation.  The irony is that there are studies being done proving that those employees who do go on vacations or at least take “staycations” come back to show an increase in performance and productivity, which boosts morale and creates an overall better work environment.  Having refreshed employees will also result in companies with staffs better able to contribute new ideas and perspectives and be more willing to stay with their jobs for the long haul. The article pointed out that since most “work martyrs” apparently need a big push to get away from their desks and computers, employers need to encourage their employees (and themselves) to use up ALL of their vacation time.

If companies listen and hopefully they will, I am back to my original thought about all the wonderful places we should go.  For me, I vote for a family beach vacation.  My husband I know, would rather we get on his motorcycle and drive around touring some far off city.  Everyone is different of course so I know there will be those of you who would prefer to get on a plane and fly to Europe or Australia or take a cruise to a tropical island.  Or maybe just load up your car or RV and head to the mountains to go hiking and camping.

So yes, June does still make me think of vacations.  But now in a new way.  I hope 2018 is the year which begins the increase in those who refuse to leave any vacation days unused.   So many fun places to visit.  It’s not too late to start planning.  Get up, get out and have some fun.  You deserve that.  Make some memories!


RV - Motor Home

Motorcycle with Rider          Cabin - At the Cabin we do wine thirty...Beach Family in the WaterCruise Family with 4 PeopleAirplane - Silver - 3D

GRADUATION time is fast approaching.  As a mom who has experienced and survived all of her kids’ graduations, I can relate to the ups and downs of emotions that all the moms out there are feeling:

KINDERGARTEN GRADUATION – So cute and so much fun for our kids and for us moms.

MIDDLE SCHOOL GRADUATION – For some kids very exciting.  For others, not so much.  Going off to high school makes some kids very nervous.  And nervous kids equates to nervous moms.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION – Typically very happy times for our kids, but this time moms are the nervous ones…especially moms of those kids who will be going away to college.  How will they survive without us?  How will I sleep at night?  It takes a while to adjust, but we do.  And then before we know it, the time comes when our last one leaves for college….Empty Nesting!  Good Times!  Although not all of us will admit to feeling so happy!  : )

COLLEGE GRADUATION AND BEYOND – It’s a time of pride for us and for our kids – now adults – another new phase of life that is difficult to accept.

So….for those of you who are just starting the graduation process or are in the middle of it, believe me when I tell you that you too will survive.  And so will your kids.  And before you know it, your kids will be showing up at your door with kids of their own.  And you just might need to be the strong support they need as they go through the graduation process with your grand kids.  The traditions and the emotions continue…..

Kindergarten Photo FrameGraduation OwlGraduate in Red Robe - Male with Brown HairGraduate Figure - Female - Blond HairGraduate with Scroll - Male with Blond Hair

Summary of HGTV’s Top 10 Home Selling Secrets

Pricing it right
Find out what your home is worth, then shave 15 to 20 % off the price. You’ll be stampeded by buyers with multiple bids and they’ll bid up the price over what it’s worth. It takes real courage but it’s the single best strategy to sell a home in today’s market. Read more

I have always loved the expression “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”. I guess because like everyone else, I can’t wait for the “roar” of winter to end and the “gentleness” of spring to begin.

I went out on a walk in my neighborhood earlier today, and while it is still a bit chilly, I saw a young girl riding her bicycle, a boy zipping around on his skateboard, and a small group of teenagers throwing a frisbee back and forth to each other. Spring is that exciting time of year when all these fun outdoor activities begin.  It is the time to appreciate the warmth of the sun on our faces and the joys of our favorite hobbies like camping, hiking and boating to start filling up our free time.



At Ornaments With Love, we have customized ornaments to represent all those activities and hobbies that we have been waiting for all winter long.

Start your search and get ready for the sun and the fun to begin!