and the winner is (part II)…

So someone said, “What about the photo cards?” We get A LOT of photo cards at our church mainly I think because there’s a couple in the church that run this sort of business and they probably give everyone a discount so it’s somewhat economical. Another reason (my personal reason) is because they’re quick and easy– you don’t have to sign the card. Just slip it in the envelope and address the outside and you’re good to go. If you do like I do, you don’t even have to address the envelope, you just print out labels from a database and SWEET– slap that label on there, some postage, if necessary, and you’re DONE. I don’t even lick the envelope– just tuck that baby in! Kind of looses the personal touch that way but HEY, we’re all busy people and I supposed it’s better than not sending a card at all, right?

So on to the photo card awards…

These first two didn’t actually come from our church family. They are family members who had to put postage on their cards and mail them. KUDOS! I still don’t have my Christmas cards in the mail and Christmas is only a week away. And I should just add a note here: People who include their pets in their photo card— VERY BRAVE PEOPLE indeed, especially when the pets are cats! So Chris & Rachel, you get the VERY BRAVE PEOPLE award. :)

thank you Sally
and Chris & Rachel, Cody & Candy

The next 3 are the only portrait photo cards we received– seems landscape was the way to go this year.

thank you Millers, Farmers and Petersens
(you’ll be seeing the Petersen’s card again in just a bit)

This next group is what I call the “significant event group”. They all had significant events in their lives in 2009 and captured that event in a photo. I guess you can call going to the city of Hampton and sitting in front of the fountain a significant event. LOL There was a tie in this group, I just couldn’t decide. I really, really love the Beck’s the best, but then when I think of all those Rossiters getting to go see the Mouse– that’s just GREAT! So my Significant Event award goes to the Becks and Rossiters.

thank you Drinnons, Blantons, Becks and Rossiters

These next two groups get a design award for originality in size. This is the first year I’ve seen these two different sizes and I really, really like the second size (appox. 6 x 7.5).

thank you Davis’, Stokes, Holcombs, Taylors and Stokes
(you’ll be seeing the Holcomb’s card again in just a bit)

This group gets what I call the proud parent &/or grandparent award. Overall winner in this group has GOT to be the Trimbles for getting all those grandchildren together in cowboy/cowgirl outfits. GREAT JOB Trimbles!

thank you Pattersons, Trimbles and Ashmores

The next group get the sepia award. The one is def a sepia type photograph, the other is a similar look with a green tint– I just put them both in the same category.

thank you Snyders and McCollums

The next, and final group get what I call the Back to Nature award. I love outdoor photography and it’s just so difficult to get the right setting at the right time with the right lighting. KUDOS to the Feltens– you pulled it off!

thank you Carters, Taylors, Gatlins and Feltens

Now for the runner up and winner of all the photo cards received to this point. I’m having a difficult time choosing between the two. It seems that college sweatshirts was a theme in at least two of the cards this year, the Holcombs and the Petersens. I love the unique size of the Holcomb’s card and the fact that they have mostly Georgia shirt on with the Tennessee side of the family sandwiched in the middle– scary place to be! I love the color coordination of the Petersen’s shirt with their card and the way the guys are both in gray and the girls are all in navy. I’m having such a difficult time choosing I think I’m just going to have to forgo the runner up category and declare a tie in the winner category.

So, this year’s winners in the photo card entry is officially a tie between the Holcombs and the Petersens– CONGRATULATIONS ALL!

thank you Holcombs

thank you Petersens

A CARROT, AN EGG, AND A CUP OF COFFEE

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as when one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil – without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.

The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.

The carrot went in the water strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level?

How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches. When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling. Live your life so at the end, you’re the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying.

May we all be COFFEE!!

and the winner is… (Part I)

Each year, at our church, the teens do what they call a Christmas card distribution. It’s a system where church members bring in Christmas cards for other church members and then on a given night the teens sort them by families, bundle them and each family is able to pick up their bundle, take them home and enjoy seeing all the beautiful cards and greetings from friends. It’s a great postage saver too :)

This year was no exception and I thoroughly enjoy opening the envelopes, going through the cards one by one and picking my favorites. I decided to publish my favorites here. If you didn’t make the cut, not to worry, I appreciate your card too, they just can’t all be favorites you understand.

First of all, let me just say that I’m kind of partial to glittery cards. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because they remind me of snow and snow men and I’m kind of partial to them too.

thank you to Ricky & Cindy
and Berry, Paula, Leigh & Zach Davis
for the “glittery” cards

That being said (that I’m also partial to snow and snow men) we have the following favorites:

thank you to the McDowell family
(whose card is not only snowmanish but glittery as well– KUDOS!),
Shirley
and Stephen & Shirley (I REALLY like this one!)

As a graphic designer I’m really into fonts and text art so these immediately grabbed my attention. I’ll have to say though that the first really captured my attention for all the wrong reasons. It took a second look before I realized that “M” was really a “M”– looked like a “H” to me. Not good design or maybe it’s just my old eyes.

thank you to The Dixon’s, David, Sheila, Derk, Megan & Desirae,
Bob & Ann Hartman
and Darlene Williams

It’s always fun when I get cards with my friend’s names on them. I have a friend named Noel and a friend named Joy. Oh what fun they must have with their names at this time of year.

thank you to Myrtle Joiner & Francis Matthews for the Noel card
and Wright & Carole Garbutt for the Joy card
(I may have to do something fun with these)

I got two cards exactly alike– this almost always happens. But I like them so I’m posting them here too.

thank you to Larry & Lynn, David, Sarah & Rebekah
and Jim, Margaret & Elisabeth Conley
(again– snowflakes and I LOVE the message too, “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.”)

This one is a favorite because of the message as well, “Jesus What a wonderful name… What a perfect Savior… What a reason to celebrate!” AND, it’s made by the same designer that our own Christmas cards were made by. Walmart, right Helena?

thank you to Helena & Ryan Kurucar

I liked this one for it’s rustic appeal. Oh yeah, and there’s the snow thing again. LOL

thank you to the Blacks

Now for the awards:

If I had to give an award for year after year performance it would have to go to Terri English and her father Billy. Terri always gives LANG type cards. Sometimes they are really LANG, sometimes something similar. This year’s is made by Saltbox Illustrations. I want to say that’s a division of LANG but I’m not quite sure about that. The cards as well as the envelopes they come in are equally special. She may get them 1/2 price after Christmas, I don’t know, but no doubt she still spends a lot of moo-la on her cards and it’s shows — much appreciated Terri.

thank you to Billy, Terri English
(you should note that the envelope comes complete with snowman)

And for this year’s RUNNER UP, that award goes to my dear friend Sherri Carter for her cute, square (love the shape) card that glitters, has a snowman and embellishments– how COOL!

thank you to Mike, Sherri, Blake & Megan Carter
(the artwork kind of looks like my own)

And the winner is: Jerry & Jane Hendon for their uniquely shaped glittery snowman Christmas card– a Hallmark card. You pushed all the right buttons and rang all the right bells and whistles. I LOVE YOUR CARD!

thank you to Jerry & Jane Hendon

I don’t know why anyone would write an entire blog post about Christmas cards, maybe it’s just that I appreciate them all so much and appreciate the fact that we have so many loving and caring friends that would spend the money and their precious time to send us a Christmas card, even if they didn’t have to put postage on it. Thank you all!

a MUST READ by Ben Stein

The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish, and it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautifully lit-up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are — Christmas trees. It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they’re slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. I shows that we’re all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

It doesn’t bother me one bit that there’s a manger scene on display at a key intersection at my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, fine. The menorah a few hundred yards away is fine, too. I do not like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat. Or maybe I can put it another way. Where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we used to know went to.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,
Ben Stein

For more writings by Ben Stein go to Ben’s House.

How many other things are we missing?

11bd2fb41Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. A young man is playing his violin.  He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3 year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.  This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:
The musician played.. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.

1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

He collected $32.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments …..

How many other things are we missing?

Temple Professor Says Starbucks Sells People a Lifestyle

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A Temple University professor has released a book about Starbucks, based on years of research at outlets all over the world.

The author concludes Starbucks is not really selling coffee, but a lifestyle image: [we DO sell coffee!]

“If you read the signs at Starbucks and if you read their own advertisements, this is a lot of what they’re selling is all these different things, in the cup.”

History professor Bryant Simon spend 15 hours a week in Starbucks. [what a job!] He visited 425 of its stores in nine countries, but mostly in Philadelphia, and he concluded that people go for much more than coffee:

“For instance, we had this real need for community, we had a real need for safety, we had this real need for predictability, we had this need to give ourselves treats.”

Simon’s book “Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks,” explores what our purchases say about us.

Starbucks, he says, provides a cheap status symbol and the illusion of community, though he believes true connection cannot be found in an international chain.

source: KYW NewsRadio

I have long said that the cup sleeve is just that: a “status symbol”. They’re really not necessary on most drinks in my opinion, just straight up coffee and teas. However, if we ever run out, people go bizzerk! Status symbol: I agree!

Coffee may offer a form of dental care

The saying may have to be changed to “a cup of coffee a day can keep the mug_1507_19375976_0_0_7019177_300dentist away.”

Wired Magazine recently published an in-depth look into the ingredients in a cup of coffee and one of the elements had something to do with dental care.

Trigonelline, an alkaloid, is found in the typically caffeinated drink and apparently helps fight “the Cavity Creeps,” states the magazine.

While trigonelline does give coffee its taste, it’s also true that it helps fight off cavities from glomming on to one’s tooth. It technically prevents the bacterium Streptococcus mutans from attaching to the teeth – a process which left untreated will form cavities.

However, it’s also true that excess coffee drinking can stain one’s teeth, a condition some have treated through cosmetic dentistry.

Still, it may be best to stick to traditional dental care with a toothbrush rather than a daily stop at the local coffee shop.

The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet and visiting your dentist regularly to maintain optimal dental health.

source: DentalPlans.com


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