Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

I said a Christmas prayer for you
Because the season's near
I didn't ask for riches
But for gifts so much more dear.

I asked for joyful gatherings
With your family all around
And for carols to inspire you
With their old familiar sound.
I asked for quiet moments
In your heart on Christmas morn
For a special time to celebrate
The Savior who was born.

I asked for friends to send their best
That you might know they care
I asked for peace and love and hope
And I know God heard my prayer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Scent of Christmas

During the holidays we are taken in by the scent of a fresh cut Christmas tree.  There are many candles, room sprays, and oils that try to mimic the scent, but nothing replaces the real thing.  Unfortunately, 'real' Christmas trees aren't always the best choice in some homes.  Here's an excellent alternative:  Evergreen boiling blocks. 

Next time to pass your local Christmas tree lot, stop and ask for a few of the end cut pieces.  With every tree purchase, the tree merchant will typically give the trunk of the tree a fresh cut.  These end cut pieces are loaded with natural oils. 

Place 1-3 cut pieces (depending on size) into a pan of simmering hot water.  Within minutes, the room will begin to fill with the scent of a fresh cut tree. 

You can also use these end cut pieces in other ways - drill a small hole at one end of the piece and loop a piece of twine through the hole.  If you have forced air heat, you can secure the piece inside of your floor heat vent.  As the warm air passes over the block of wood, the oils will be released. 

This is a great 'green' way to fill your home with the scent of the holidays and best of all, it's free!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade

Sunday afternoon, we attended the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade, in beautiful downtown Rochester, MI.  This was the 60th Christmas Parade to make its way down Main Street. 

It was our first time attending the parade in person.  We usually watch it on television - but this year we decided to see it for ourselves up close and personal.  Here are a few photos from the parade: 

The crowds were growing by 1pm - waiting for the 2pm parade kick off

A color guard kicks off the parade

It's official!  We have a parade!

There were several marching bands.  I love the sound of a marching band playing Christmas songs!

The Michigan Leader Dogs made their appearance.  Such cute pooches!

These good folks are the 'Scrubs' from a local hospital.  They do a well choreographed routine with their wheelchairs. 

Dancers, singers, and more made their stop in front of the television cameras. 

The temperatures were much warmer than normal, so we had no snow.  It didn't stop this happy snow person from prancing down Main Street

The theme of the parade this year was six decades of Christmas.  These guys represented the hot toys in the 80s.. Pac Man and He-Man. 

My dear friend Erin Nicole was in charge of the "Prize Patrol" during the WXYZ TV coverage of the event.  She gave away GREAT prizes!

This huge Nutcracker was having a hard time staying balanced as he strolled down Main Street.  It was actually quite funny to watch!

There's a 'tea party' organization in Rochester (not of political affiliation) that teaches little girls the social graces of being proper.  They were dressed in their formal wear to welcome in the season. 

Channel 7, WXYZ-TV, the nations 11th largest news station, has covered the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade for many, many years.  

Alicia Smith, anchor of the morning news, showed off her dancing talent, performing in a number with the Rochester Ballroom dancers. 

This little girl was a big fan of Alicia.  She was wanting to meet her so we made sure she had her wish come true.  She was adorable and just awe struck to meet Alicia in person. 

Not a great picture. but Santa arrived on is big float, along with Mrs. Clause.

The same little girl who wanted to meet Alicia, also wanted to meet Dave Rexroth, our Channel 7 Chief Meteorologist.  Dave is always warm and welcoming to fans of all ages. 

The best part of any parade, is when Santa arrives!  Santa has made his official arrival in Rochester during the Christmas Parade for the last 60 years!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Light Up the Season

We recently attended a tree lighting event in downtown Detroit to kick off the holiday season. 

The 60-foot tree Norway Spruce was put into place earlier in the month and decorated with over 3 miles of lights and adorned with huge decorations.  The tree is located at the Campus Martius Park, in the heart of the city and stands to welcome the holiday season and visitors to Detroit. 

The entire downtown was filled with people as Santa and Mayor Dave Bing flipped the switch, and the tree came alive in beautiful color. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  It's time to deck the halls, be jolly, and spread holiday cheer! 
It's time to decorate the tree, bake the Christmas cookies, make wreaths, and string the lights. 

Here's to a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Today marks the day when we pause to reflect and celebrate all we are thankful for.  It's a day of feasting and sharing  our bounty with those we love.  It's a day to recognize and express gratitude. 

When I take that pause to reflect on what I'm thankful for, I find myself most thankful for those people that are in my life and share the blessings of friendship. 

While many reflect on their lives and will at some point say, "I'm so lucky..."  I've learned that 'luck' has nothing to do with it.  I firmly believe that God brings people into our lives (and sometimes removes them) for a reason. We always grow, we always learn, and when we open ourselves, we become more self aware through the blessings of friendship. 

To all my friends and family,  I'm thankful for you.  I'm blessed that you're in my life. 

Wishing all a warm, and Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Make it a Magical Holiday

I have to admit, I got rather excited when I received the notification on my iPad that the December issue of Martha Stewart Living was available for download.  The December issue is always one of my favorites and signals that I can legitimately start thinking about the holidays!

The iPad edition is sporting two covers - "Make it a Magical Holiday" and "A Joyful One Too!."  I'm making the assumption that the print edition will carry the same two covers. 

Inside, the contents feel almost nostalgic to me, with a look and feel that reminds me of the classic December issues of years gone by; what I refer to as "Classic Martha."  As I paged through the contents on my iPad, I was delighted again and again with each swipe to the next page.  From selecting the perfect Christmas tree, to a galaxy of stars holiday theme, there is something for everyone in this issue. 

The December issue of Martha Stewart Living hits newsstands on Monday, November 14. 

As much as I enjoy my iPad edition of the magazine - I'm looking forward to sitting down with my print version.  It's a ritual I always enjoy.  I'm counting the days until I decorate!
Note:  The magazine cover photos above were taken from my iPhone, shooting the screen of my iPad.  The color quality was difficult to maintain. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Lets Have a Parade!"

America’s favorite holiday tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, will celebrate its 85th anniversary on Thursday, November 24, 2011 with new giant character helium balloons, new floats, and of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has become the benchmark for pageantry and the official kick-off celebration to the holiday season.

Before the event kicks-off, the ribbon must be cut and the iconic words, “Let’s Have a Parade” must be shouted, as has been the tradition since the very first parade in 1924. This year, executive producer of the parade Amy Kule will be joined by kids from Tuesday’s Children, a family service organization dedicated to those impacted by the events of September 11th. The ribbon-cutting is meant to signify both a moment of remembrance and serve as an uplifting tribute the lives lost on that fateful day.

The 85th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature 15 giant character balloons; 44 novelty/ornament balloons, ballonicles and balloonheads; 27 floats; 1,600 cheerleaders, dancers and performance group members; 800 clowns; 11 marching bands; a host of celebrity performers, and the one-and-only Santa Claus.

Since its first national broadcast in 1948, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been the nation’s star attraction. One of the country’s most viewed events, millions of families tune-in from coast to coast to watch the telecast.

The parade will step off this year at 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will travel down to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South, before making a right turn to march down 7th Avenue to 42nd Street. The parade will then turn east towards 6th avenue where it will march down the Avenue of the Americas. At 34th Street, the parade will make its final turn west marching in front of the world’s largest department store, Macy’s Herald Square. The festivities will kick-off at 9:00 AM sharp!

A Brief Parade History

The parade in 1924 was called "Macy's Christmas Parade" although it took place on Thanksgiving Day.  It was later renamed the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.   Live animals including camels, goats, elephants and donkeys were a part of the parade that inaugural year.  The original parade route started at 145th Street and Convent Avenue and traveled 5.5 miles to 34th Street and Herald Square. 

In the first Macy's parade, horses pulled the elaborately decorated floats through the streets of New York.  In 1925 and 1926, bears, lions and tigers were added to the live animals used in the parade.  The practice was discontinued because some animals scared children along the parade route.  In 1927, Macy's replaced the live animals in the parade with its now signature giant helium balloons created by famed puppeteer and Macy's designer Tony Sarg.  The first balloons included Felix the Cat, The Dragon, The Elephant, and the Toy Soldier.

In 1928, Macy's began the practice of releasing the giant balloons at the end of the parade.  Equipped with return address labels, in 1929 Macy's began offering prizes for the return of the giant balloons.  In 1931, Clarence Chamberlian, an aviator flying above New York City caught the pig balloon in mid-air in order to the claim the $25 reward money.  The practice of releasing balloons was discontinued in 1933. 
The 1933 edition of the parade was the first-ever recorded for newsreels and subsequently shown in theaters around the world.  This was also the first time Santa Claus led the parade instead of ending it. From 1934 to present day, Santa Claus has taken his honored place at the end of the parade.
The parade was canceled for three consecutive years, 1942-1944 due to World War II.  At the start of the war, Macy's donated the balloons (that were made of rubber at the time) to the government's rubber scrap heap in a ceremony held at New York City Hall. 
In 1947, the holiday classic, "Miracle on 34th Street" brought the parade's magic to the big screen.  The success of the movie led NBC to begin telecasting the grand spectacle nationwide.  NBC has been the primary broadcast network of the parade since. 
Due to a helium shortage in 1958, Macy's inflated balloons with air and hoisted them on trucks with cranes for the journey down Broadway. 
In the 1980's, smaller 'novelty' balloons were introduced, including Macy's stars and the 30 foot triple-scoop ice cream cone.  "Falloons" were also introduced at this time.  A combination of float and cold air balloon, Falloons highlight the creative genius of the Macy's Parade Studio located in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The 1990's saw the parade balloons adding new characters from the Internet, video games and contemporary cartoons.  These new balloons keep the parade current and relevant to the younger, video savvy spectators.
In its 85-year history, more than 350,000 Macy's employees have participated  in the parade.  More than 50,000 clowns have delighted millions of children along the parade route.  The one-and-only Santa Claus has never missed the annual parade event, which ushers in the holiday season.
Photos courtesy of Macy's, Inc.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best of Martha Stewart Living: Holiday Handbook

If there's one thing that traditionally signals the start of the holiday season, it's when the special holiday issue from Martha Stewart Living hits the newsstands.  Yesterday, my friend Elaine emailed and told me she found the issue at Costco.  Today, I found it at Target.  The official newsstand date is Tuesday, November 1st. 

This year, the holiday issue is a little different than in years past. The introductory letter on page one describes the publication as a 'bookazine' which is fitting, given the high gloss sturdy cover and higher quality paper for the pages.   This issue, titled, "The Best of Martha Stewart Living Holiday Handbook" brands itself as a collector's edition, and I have to agree.  Anyone who enjoys the Martha Stewart way of Living will want to add this to their stack of "keepable" magazines (sorry.. 'bookazines'). 

As the title indicates, this is a "best of" issue, with some of the holiday best from the last 20 years of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  From holiday spirits (in terms of cocktails) to keep your guests merry, to classic Martha decorating ideas for the home, trees, and more, this issue is a fine holiday resource and truly is a handbook of how-to inspiration. 

MSLO has another special issue in the works; the 20th Anniversary special issue of Martha Stewart Living.  While not much has been said about the issue, it is due by the end of the year.  I would anticipate it to be available for the holidays (a nice stocking stuffer for the Martha-ite in your life).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beekman Book Signing to Benefit Wisconsin Church

Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge will be heading to Wisconsin November 19 and 20 to attend a special dinner in their honor, and sign copies of their popular new cookbook, “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook.”

The dinner and book signing events will help support community outreach programs and the operations budget of Saint Boniface Episcopal Church in the city of Mequon, where Dave and Jackie Purcell (the parents of Josh) have been members for over a decade.

Parish Rector, Father Kenny Miller, met Josh and Brent for the first time last December.“ We immediately had an entrepreneurial connection, “ said Fr. Kenny. “Much of Josh and Brent’s business model, and who they are as people, translates well to how we in the church try to reach out to people in the communities.” Fr. Kenny found the two season run of “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” impacted him as a person and as a priest. “If you genuinely try to share your story or in the church’s case, God’s story, with the people you cross paths with and you are authentic in your care and love for those around you, you by an unconscious choice, share love, God’s love and draw others closer to you and to God.”

Father Kenny hopes the events will raise awareness about Saint Boniface. “it is my hope that with God’s grace and their [Josh and Brent]help, more people will discover the great secret of Mequon: Saint Boniface Episcopal Church. We are a welcoming, open community that welcomes all of God’s children, just as you are.”

“All are welcome, all have a place, all have a name.” Wonderful words for the LGBT people everywhere who often feel a spiritual disconnect with a church community because of ‘who they are.’

Josh, an Episcopalian, has attended St Boniface in the past and is looking forward to returning. “Saint Boniface is a welcoming environment to all persons, of all faiths and beliefs, and has built a very vibrant community,” Kilmer-Purcell says. “They perform valuable community services, and Brent and I are thrilled to help them raise funds in any way that we’re able.”

Brent, Fr. Kenny Miller and Josh

Event Details:

Saturday, November 19, 2011, 7:00 PM:

Space at the $100 a plate dinner is by reservation only, with every plate also receiving a signed copy of the “Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” and a complimentary package of the original Beekman 1802 Goat Milk Soap. There will also be three silent auctions of an array of Beekman 1802 products, some of which are exclusive only to the Beekman 1802 Mercantile, located in Sharon Springs. This event is open to parishioners and the public. Space is limited and reservations must be made in advance. Please contact the Saint Boniface Church office Monday thru Thursday, 9 am – 2 pm to make your reservation. 262-242-2994 The dinner event will be held at the church. Copies of the best-selling book, “The Bucolic Plague” by Josh Kilmer Purcell will also be available for sale and signing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM:

Following the 10:00 Christ the King Sunday Service, Josh and Brent will sign copies of the “Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” in the Narthex from 11:30 – noon. This time is reserved for parishioners only. From 12 noon to 2 PM, the book signing will be open to the public. Several groups of Beekman 1802 products will also be on display and will be offered as raffle prizes. Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event.

While David and I are unable to attend this specific event, we are planning a visit soon to see Jackie and Dave as well as attend services at Saint Boniface. We are both excited to meet Father Kenny and experience for ourselves the “all are welcome” spirit. We hope you will do the same.

“All are welcome.” Words of hope. Words of love.
For more information on Saint Boniface Episcopal Church, click HERE to visit the website

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Martha Stewart Then and Now - Entertaining

In 1982, Martha Stewart became a household name with her first book, "Entertaining."  Today, Martha makes her mark once again with the publication of her newest book, "Martha's Entertaining, a year of Celebrations." 

For those that love 'classic' Martha - this book is for you.  THIS is the Martha Stewart we grew to appreciate all those years ago. 

Martha's Entertaining is not a rewrite of the original Entertaining book; rather, it's an updated look at entertaining with classic, breathtaking elegance. Martha opens her homes for her readers as she shares a very intimate and personal look at entertaining throughout the year. 

Beautifully written and beautifully photographed, this book is sure to be the new classic standard. 

I was pleased to hear from my friends at Barnes and Noble - they sold almost all their inventory in just a few hours.  This book is sure to be on it's way to the best seller list!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

A genius.  A great man.  A visionary. 
Rest in Peace.
Steve Jobs

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Building Walls

 Saturday, October 1st, David and I participated in our first volunteer adventure with Habitat for Humanity - Detroit.  The event, coordinated by our ABC affiliate in Detroit, WXYZ - Channel 7 and Habitat was called the Build up. 

In January, Channel 7 launched an incredible program called "Detroit 2020."  This program is designed to UNIFY the community for the common good,INSPIRE the community to serve in their own way to help Detroit make a comeback, and ACT - encouraging the citizens of Detroit and the surrounding region to get involved in making positive change for the city.  This multi-year program looks at where we've been, where we currently are, and at all the possibilities for the future.  Anything is possible if we all make "Unify, Inspire, Act" our own personal creed. 

Channel 7 made a call to action to the community to volunteer a portion of their Saturday to help build walls for two houses that will soon be built for deserving families in Detroit.  They took that call to action to Twitter and Facebook as well.  Channel 7 was a ground breaker in the utilization of social media to interact with viewers using the Twitter hashtags #backchannel and #EarlyRisers. 

The response was overwhelming.  The #backchannel, #EarlyRisers, and the community at large came forth in large numbers to participate in the event.  125 volunteers lifted their hammers and did their share to make a difference. 

When David and I first heard of the Build up  I knew that I wanted to do something more than give of my time.. I wanted our company, which specializes in logo-wear, promotional items, and event planning to play a part.  I sat down at my computer and started to create a logo for the event. 

The logo, found at the top of this blog post, symbolizes that a single home, for  deserving family can help lift the entire community.  The logo was accepted by Habitat for Humanity and Channel 7.  We then worked with our partners at the Embroidery Shoppe in Westland, MI to donate tee shirts to all the volunteers who registered and worked that day.  What a thrill it was to see so many people in their t shirts! 

In our business of logo-wear and promotional items - it's all about building team spirit and giving something back to those that give of themselves.  The shirts were a small token of thanks for an incredible team of people from all walks of life, in and around the city of Detroit.

Here are several photos from the event: 

The crowd gathered early... at 7:30 a.m.  It was a blustery, wet, cold day!

A proud moment for me was seeing the large banner hanging in the warehouse, with the Buildup logo on display.

One of our morning anchors, Alicia Smith gathered a group to provide some direction for the day.  This build up was her brain child to bring the Twitter family together to ACT together for the common good of the city.

Assignments were given and the work started! 

Walls were being built and stored for use in the next two Habitat for Humanity home builds.  The gentleman in the grey t shirt in the photo above was tireless in his work on Saturday.  He was a super volunteer!

Teamwork was key.. and in this case, steel-toed boots were also a sure bet!

David and I were loading these 13 foot wall headers into a large semi and being filmed for a story and an upcoming commercial.

Do these jeans make my butt look big? :-)

When walls were raised and transported outdoors.. there was such an incredible feeling of accomplishment. 

A true highlight for me was meeting some of my Twitter friends that I talked to every single morning.  We finally had the chance to meet face to face.  Left to Right - Todd, Michael, Me, Ken, and Dan.  Amazing guys that I look forward to waking up with every weekday morning.  We call ourselves #TeamAmigos and we truly are.

The #TeamAmigos took a photo with our two lead news anchors, Stephen Clark and Alicia Smith.  They really know how to rally the troops!  David joined us for this photo as well. 

I can't even begin to explain how good it felt to participate in this event.  Knowing that the work we did will help a family be safe, give them a 'hand up' in these tough economic times, and better their future meant the world to be.  You can't help but feel grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Understandably, we get caught up in in our daily lives and think we do not have time to volunteer for a good cause.  Find the time to give.  If even an hour - your time makes a difference.