Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!

It’s been said that if we truly counted our blessings, we may never again have to think about our sorrows.  Counting blessings is like stacking up reasons to be grateful.  If we planted a flower, for instance, for every time we were conscious about our sense of gratitude, many of us would have an incredible garden to behold.  Some of us though, may look around and wonder why nothing ever seems to bloom.

Charles Dickens reminded us to “reflect upon our present blessings, of which everyone has many, not on our past misfortunes, of which everyone has some.”  Getting your gratitude garden to grow may be as simple as that, reflecting on your present blessings.  If you offer thanks for your family, your health, your work, your faith, or some other area of your life, you may find more seeds of joy than you expected.  You may have a million reasons to be thankful.

Has anyone done something nice for you in the past few days?  Have you shared your talents and your ideas with another?  Have you had a chance to shop for something new, walk peacefully along the road, undisturbed and quiet?  Have you been able to take a class, go to a movie, worship as you please?  If so, then today, you have delightful reasons to be grateful. 

As we come to Gratitude Day, let’s open our hearts to all that we have and hold  closely those things that strengthen our lives and make the ride worthwhile.  When we think about it, we may discover we have an abundance of reasons to declare our joy right out loud. 

If your list begins to run dry, remember all the people who are grateful today because they know You!  No doubt, they are offering thanks for wonderful you at this very moment!

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Happy Birthday to Beautiful You!

Celebrating another birthday?

It’s not always easy to get excited about birthdays, especially when you’re milestone ones get to be bigger and bigger.  After all, at sixteen you were excited to finally be able to drive the car.  At eighteen, you could go off to college or start your first real job.  Those were fun birthdays to anticipate.  When it got to be your 30th and your 40th, you took those “over the hill” jokes pretty well, knowing you still had lots of time on your side.

What about now?  What about those birthdays that put you into yet another decade that takes more than five fingers to count?  Those birthdays may seem a bit intimidating.  Well, let’s look for the sweetness that those birthdays bring, the reasons to celebrate and enjoy the glow of those yet beautiful candles.

For one thing, if you’re still here, it probably means your work on this planet isn’t done.  You’ve still got a mission, a job to do and God is making sure you have all the time you need to get it done.  He’s still surrounding you with friends to encourage you, children and grandchildren to remind you of where you’ve been and how far you’ve come, and precious peaceful moments to simply reflect on all the good things life has brought your way.

You’re a shining and loving and beautiful example to a lot of people.  Your smile alone makes a difference to those around you.  You beam a little extra light and love their way and they forget all about their own problems because you’ve helped them to realize the joy that friendship brings.

There’s no one who can bake a pie like you can or tell a story with that same sparkle in their eye.  You have an enticing magical light that has grown more vivid over the years, partly because you’ve come to know and understand yourself a little better with each birthday candle.  You’re an amazing person, a real work of art and no matter how many birthdays you celebrate, it will always bring joy to the hearts of those who know you and who love you…just for being wonderful you!

Happy Birthday…celebrate it with great joy!!

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It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month

Over eighty United States congressmen and women; Nobel Prize winners; Pulitzer Prize winners; Oscar winners; Tony award winners; not to mention countless key military figures and frontiersmen.  These are just a handful of the achievements made by a multitude of Hispanic-Americans over the past two centuries.  But it wasn’t until 1968 that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, which later broadened into National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

Every 15th of September through the 15th of October, Hispanic-Americans are recognized for their leadership and pivotal roles in shaping our society.  From the days of our country’s fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War to modern day mavericks who revolutionized the world of entertainment, Latinos have oftentimes been at the forefront of many breakthroughs:

  • General Bernardo de Gálvez, who aided General George Washington during the Revolutionary War with a supply of arms, money, and other essentials.
  • Post-Civil War, irrigation techniques, which were deemed necessary inAmerica’s Western territories, were learned from Mexicans.
  • Since the Revolutionary War, Hispanics have carried a proud tradition of serving in each war theUnited Stateshas participated in, with thirty-eight Hispanics being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor throughout that time.
  • The archetype of the cowboy—or vaqueros—from the Old West derived from Hispanic culture.
  •  César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers Union, which gave harvest workers the means to negotiate labor contracts with growers of produce.
  • Famous Latino sports figures include: Roberto Clemente (baseball) , Lee Trevino(golf), Esteban Bellan (first Hispanic major league baseball player), and Nancy Lopez (golf).
  • In the world of entertainment, Cuban band leader and producer Desi Arnaz (I Love Lucy) pioneered the “three camera” technique for filming a TV sit-com that became the industry’s standard. 
  • Rita Moreno, the first Hispanic (and second ever) to win an Oscar (West Side Story), a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy (for guest hosting The Muppet Show).

And the list goes on…. As clearly evident, Hispanic-Americans have not only helped lay the foundation for our country, but have played active architects in every facet of its design, both practically and recreationally.  Through ingenuity, innovation, and an unyielding strive for independence, Hispanic-Americans have been the bellwethers and keystone figures in our past and present who will undoubtedly serve as beacons to our nation’s future. 

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933896.html

http://www.ma.iup.edu/Pueblo/latino_cultures/contrib.html

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/hispanic-heritage/when-is-hispanic-heritage-month.html

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Patriot Day 9/11

“On … Patriot Day, we remember and honor those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We will not forget the events of that terrible morning nor will we forget how Americans responded in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the skies over Pennsylvania — with heroism and selflessness; with compassion and courage; and with prayer and hope.”

~ Excerpt from a proclamation by President George W. Bush, 2002

On this day that many Americans refer to as 9/11 or September 11th, the flag of the United States of America should be displayed at half-mast on the homes and in the hearts of Americans. Nearly 3,000 people died in the surprise attacks and the economic impact was immense. The attacks have greatly increased attention to national security in the United States.

Patriot Day is a day to take a moment to thank the brave men and women of that fateful day, and of our everyday lives. It’s a special time to stop and say “thank you” to the police officers, fire fighters, EMT’s and military personnel who guard our communities and our nation. It’s a time to remember that the term “hero” applies to these everyday individuals, more so than to comic book characters, sports stars and entertainers.

 It is also a day to display and salute our American flag, which represents the fabric of our country and our national character. The 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and 50 stars on the blue square are a symbol of our unity and our perseverance. On Patriot Day, we fly it at half mast to honor our country and those lost on this terrible day. Americans are strong. Americans are free. Americans have always come together for one another in times of great distress. President George W. Bush said it best, continuing the excerpt from above:

“Americans also have fought back against terror by choosing to overcome evil with good. By loving their neighbors as they would like to be loved, countless citizens have answered the call to help others. They have contributed to relief efforts, improved homeland security in their communities, and volunteered their time to aid those in need. This spirit of service continues to grow as thousands have joined the newly established USA Freedom Corps, committing themselves to changing America one heart at a time through the momentum of millions of acts of decency and kindness.”

 Let us remember those we lost. Let us be diligent in keeping each other safe. Let us hold our families a little closer, and our friends a little bit more dear. And let us move forward into the future as a stronger, kinder and more aware nation.

Please take a moment now to remember those we lost that day, and God bless America.

  http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/patriot-day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Day

http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/911/about.html

http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/blpatriotsday.htm

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Labor Day Recipes

Held on the first Monday of September, Labor Day in the United States of America originated as a way to celebrate the strengths and contributions of labor unions to the United States economy. This day of rest unofficially signals the end of summer, the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons, and serves as a marker for the fashion-forward to stop wearing the color white.

So how do most Americans celebrate this day? Parades, relaxation and cookouts are all favorites! If you have picnic plans for Labor Day, we’re here to tempt your taste buds with a few festive favorites. Are you hungry yet? If not, you will be by the end of our delicious list! Try ‘em out and then tell us what you thought in our comments section!

 STARTER/SIDE:

All-American Potato Salad

  • 2 pounds Yukon potatoes (3 to 4 medium), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 small minced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise + more if needed
  • 3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

 Place potatoes in large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium high heat; add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring once or twice, until potatoes are tender.

 Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. Add vinegar and, using rubber spatula, toss gently to combine. Let stand until potatoes are just barely warm or almost fully cooled, about 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together onion, pickle relish, mayonnaise, mustard powder, celery salt, garlic and onion powders, parsley, and pepper. Using rubber spatula, gently fold dressing and eggs into potatoes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour; serve.

 (Potato salad can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. (Recipe from http://joelens.blogspot.com/2011/07/all-american-potato-salad.html)

 MAIN DISH:

BBQ Ribs

  •  3 slabs sm. to med. size pork ribs
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 c. A-1 steak sauce
  • 1 c. Kraft Barbeque Sauce
  • 1/3 c. liquid Hickory Smoke
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 3 tsp. onion salt
  • 2 tsp. black peppers

 Use 7 lbs. charcoal briquettes and 1 lb. of wet hickory chips. Wash – rinse ribs. Place in large pan. Sprinkle garlic, onion salt, pepper evenly. Cover with lemon juice and hot sauce. Let set in cool place several hours or overnight in refrigerator.

 Heat grill, preferably with charcoal briquettes – hickory wood. Wait for coals to turn white. Place meat on grill, turn often. If flare-up of flame douse with clear water. The meat should cook slowly with a cover to absorb ample flavor.

 Mix all sauces in bowl. When ribs begin to get tender, brush ribs on both sides. When meat begins to pull away from bone, remove from heat. Preserve remaining sauce.

 (Recipe from http://labor-day-weekend.com/labor-day-weekend-party-planning/recipes.htm)

DESSERT:

Fruit Cobbler

  •  1/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh peaches, pitted and sliced

 Melt butter or margarine in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Set aside to cool.

 Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix in milk and vanilla. Pour batter over melted butter.

 DO NOT MIX OR STIR. Spoon fruit with juice over the batter. DO NOT MIX OR STIR.

 Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 minutes.

 (Recipe from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe-Tools/Print/Recipe.aspx?RecipeID=12521&origin=detail&&Se)

  REFERENCES (BlueMountain.com is not associated with any of these websites)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labor_Day_(United_States)

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/labor-day

http://www.newsgates.com/labor-day-weekend-2011-%E2%80%93-all-about-labor-day-weekend-facts-and-united-states/

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Your September Birthday–A Star Is Born!

You’ll have a star-studded birthday!  September finds you walking in the midst of enchanting fall flowers in a wide variety of colorful asters.  Your birth flower, the aster,  means star, so it adds to the special quality of your birthday month.  Of course, along with the asters, comes your birthstone which is the Star-Sapphire in its vibrant blue colors.  Demonstrating its powers of wisdom and purity, the sapphire was the choice of ancient Kings.  It was said to protect its wearers from slipping into the grips of envy, or from being poisoned by snakes.  Second only to diamonds for its lasting beauty and hardness, it brings the gifts of sincerity and faithfulness to your birthday sign.

Yes, you’re a star!  You lead with your heart, think clearly about the matters at hand, and reign with kindness over all your relationships.  You are patient and practical, refined and gracious, and have a touch of aristocratic reserve.  Your powers of observation are also outstanding and people come to you, seeking your guidance and wisdom.  In other words, you rock!  

Like the star that you are, you know the best ways to make an impression and to keep your light shining.  You have many talents and it’s not surprising to see you do incredibly beautiful things with your hands.  You love to display handmade treasures to remind others of the gifts that come from nature and from the heart.  That being said, you’re not exactly ready for the farm life and to live off the land.  No, you are fond of being one of the trend setters, one of the people in the know, so you’re more comfortable in a thriving community. 

As you celebrate your birthday month, hold your head high, walk joyfully into the days ahead and let your considerable light beam into the lives of others.  The stars will come out to applaud your day.  Shine on and have a Happy Birthday!

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Back to School — Another Fresh Start!

Even before the leaves have dressed up in their sparkling fall colors, the preparation begins.  Stores offer their best selections of colorful notebooks, glittery pencils, and backpacks with favorite cartoon characters or sports logos.  Everything is fresh and new again, another year will soon begin.

Can you recall that first year, that first time when you were just a little kid lacing up your new tennis shoes or Buster Brown’s and getting ready to walk or ride the bus with a whole lot of strangers?  You were probably a bit wary as your mother packed your little lunch pail with a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks.  You hoped she’d put in a cookie for good measure.

School!  It could be a bit daunting.  Big hallways!  What if you got lost?  What if you couldn’t find your way to the bathroom?  What if your teacher didn’t like you?  There were so many things to wonder about.  Perhaps you could fake a tummy ache.  After all, your mom wouldn’t want you to go to school if you were ill.  Yes, that could be the thing to do!

When you finally got to your classroom, you were impressed by the brightly lit room, the colorful bulletin boards that looked like there might be some fun things to do, and the corners of the room devoted to wonderful books and arts and crafts.  This might not be so bad after all!  This was looking good.  Wow!  You could hardly wait for school to start!

Whether you’re sending a little one off to school this year or you’re a teacher getting ready to go back for a new year, or you simply enjoy the memory of school days, from those early years, to those high school events, or college days, there’s something wonderful about going back to school.

This fall, encourage the back to schooler in your life with eCards from BlueMountain.com and consider re-creating some “back to school” moments of your own by signing up to take a class, or learn a craft, or begin a new project.  After all, you can still make your mother proud.  Besides you’d love one of those cool new notebooks!

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