Why We Celebrate Memorial Day
We all know and enjoy Memorial Day as the beginning of the summer season and the time for barbeques, parades and a three-day weekend. But do we remember the holiday for what it really is?
Originally known as Declaration Day and established in 1866 by veterans of the Civil War, the first of the national summer holidays was planned for the end of May because it was assumed that all over the country, at that time of year, flowers would be in bloom. Placing a flowered wreath on the headstones of those who died in war became the traditional way to honor those who gave their lives for our country.
The first Memorial Day was a day of remembrance and mourning for the over 30,000 killed in the Civil War. After World War I it was expanded to cover all wars that the United States had been involved in. We now recognize those who served in the Second World War, Korea, Vietnam and now the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It was made a national holiday in 1971.
Although over 25 communities nationwide consider themselves to be THE home of Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC is where the official services are held every year.
Although we have come to believe that it is only Arlington where the President honors those who have died in service, it was only after the death of President John Kennedy, who was buried there, that the location became synonymous with Memorial Day celebrations.
Although wreaths of a variety of flowers, greenery and ribbon are used today, in the late 1800's children and women created personal tributes with black ribbon. The Poppy flower is the recognized symbol of Memorial Day, especially in California where they are in full bloom in late May.
This year President Obama will celebrate Memorial Day in Illinois, at one of the many sanctioned veterans cemeteries throughout the country. Although most of our recent Presidents have laid a wreath at Arlington, our current president wants to honor those most recently fallen victim to war, including Iraq as well as soldiers who died at the Fort Hood massacre who are buried there.
Whatever your plans for the holiday, enjoy family and friends for the cookouts, beach days and lazy afternoons, but keep in mind the real reason we as Americans celebrate this date. - SEW
15 Things That Waste Our Time
A few months ago, allnewsnoblues.com had a feature on Marcie Carson (far left) and Aimee Grove, two working mothers who have a fun and informative blog (www.womoments.com), and are working on a book called "WoMoBook."
As they will tell you on their blog, "We've known each other for over three decades, which means our friendship has survived some pretty serious life hurdles beyond motherhood: headgear, leg warmers, idiotic high school indulgences (many of them involving fashion or pillaged booze), college frat parties, the urban singleton years, and now it’s deadlines and diaper dookie."
We loved this recent piece written by Carson because it points out things we ALL do that waste our precious time. So, with the blessing of the WoMo ladies we're republishing the piece. Enjoy:
Let’s face it: with the working mom (WoMo) struggle and juggle, we get overwhelmed. And grrrr... change is hard, I get it. But life’s waaay too short to bother with these NOT OKAY distractions. How many of these things do you do?:
1. "Yes." Being agreeable and available all the time isn't fair to you, or that wee one. Say "no" now and then — to your job, your hubby, whoever is expecting too much from you. Uh, yourself, maybe?
2. Hair Maintenance. Blowdrying, ironing, curling, coloring. Argh. And what about all that nasty hair removal? Legs, pits, brows and vuh-jay-jay. Necessary? Yes. Still doesn't make it okay.
3. Tech Chatter. When we give people an open forum to share anything, we’re bound to get anything, including some freaks. Don’t get pulled into cyber time sucks. These include: the “comments” section on blogs (erps. biting myself in the arse here), healthcare forums (unless you’re prepared to consider cancer or autoimmune disease as a diagnosis for your ailment), and girls, even Twitter and Facebook can suck the life out of you. And by the way, immersing ourselves in the luxurious "necessity" (and feeling of connection) with that smart phone is great, but what we’re really doing is building a wall between us and the real world. If the communication isn’t urgent (like a call from a sick friend or a fire at the office), I say lose the phone and participate in the moment!
4. The Family Bully. Maybe it's an in-law or your own mother who holds your life in a vice — whoever it is, take this little piece of advice from a WoMo who knows: You wouldn’t put up with this crap from a stranger, why are you taking it from someone who “loves” you?
5. Worrying. We worry about our kiddos, sure. That's Mother Nature. But let's stop worrying about what other mommies think. That's high school. Leave perfection to the women who have more time: coiffed hair, manicured nails, fancy party cupcakes, picture perfect holiday cards, gifts and goodies for every occasion… need I say more? Embrace your imperfect-ness. It looks good on you. Remember, there's badness lurking underneath every perfect exterior. Just consider this...
6. Flesh-casing garments. Sure we look better in Spanx, but after spending 15-minutes wrangling our bodies, we’re late. And horribly uncomfortable. Save the tight stuff for special occasions only.
7. The Wrong Job. Spending hours toiling away at job you hate is an energy drain you can’t afford. Prime that resume and make some changes. You’ll be glad you did.
8. Hangovers. Hey, a nice mutual shot among friends is a great way to celebrate just about anything. Likewise for that forth glass of vino when we’re out with girlfriends. Beyond that, we’re only asking for trouble.
9. Bad Television. Don't hate me. I LOVE reality shows too. But there's got to be a limit for consuming exceedingly bad TV. Admit that it's addictive and don't be a junkie. Jersey Shore?... come on people!
10. Meetings. Ask yourself: is this really necessary? If not, skip it. If we just stop sweating the small stuff and asking the wrong questions, we might actually have time to focus on tasks that will really make things happen.
11. Returning. I CANNOT possibly put into words how much I personally hate returning items. Buyer's remorse? Horrible gift? Thought it looked fab in that dark, cramped dressing room (with the skinny mirror)? Or worse, returning that late night online shopping buy. Aahh. Kill me now.
12. Guilt. Use it or lose it. If you can’t use guilt to make the necessary changes in your life to feel better…well then, lose it altogether! Guilt is what happens when we don’t change something that needs to be fixed. Either that or the expectations aren’t realistic.
13. Waiting. Got a boss that should reward you, but isn’t? Craving a date night (uh, sex) with the hubby? Want to go to the gym? In need of a girl’s night? Don’t just stand there waiting for someone else to make a move, get going! And tell that doctor you made an appointment for a reason.
14. Movies. Speaking of date night, stop going to see remakes and sequels and make one of your own. Let’s be honest, date night is an invitation for sex. Skip the courting formalities and remind your hubby that you’re a sure thing. Grab a drink or dinner and go straight to the good stuff.
15. Driving. If you can text during your commute because you're at a stand-still on the freeway, adjust your schedule by an hour. If you're day has you darting about town like a FedEx driver (only you're delivering children instead of packages), adjust their schedule. Face it: we spend hours in our toxic car-bubbles. Change the timeline or invest some time in finding carpools.--Marcie Carson.
Locals Bring Baby Items to Guatamala
Still, for the last few months there have been boxes of diapers, stacks of blankets and booties and suitcases full of lotions and soaps in the sprawling Danville home she shares with her husband, Jake. The president of a local mother’s group dropped off ten bags of clothing and blankets this month.
The loads of baby items recently went to Guatemala City for teen mothers who otherwise wouldn’t have supplies for their babies. It was in 2002-03 when the Hamblin couple spent 18 months in Guatemala on a humanitarian mission with their Danville church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
While visiting orphanages in Guatemala City, the largest city in Central America, where 70 percent of people live in dire poverty, they became involved in outreach to the poor. They also learned about the extreme circumstances in orphanages there. Newborns, infants and children are without basic needs: diapers, pins, clothing and blankets.
It is not uncommon to see a newborn wrapped only in newspaper, departing the hospital in a young mother’s arms. The need for supplies for young moms is great: In Guatemala City alone there are three clinics for pregnant teens. It became Hamblin’s mission to bring necessities, as well as comfort to the children, especially infants in orphanages of Guatemala.
Committed to Pan-en-la Boca, (or bread in the mouth in Spanish) a feeding program founded by her friend, Evelyn Candland of Danville, Hamblin and others have made two return trips to the orphanages. While visiting, they confer with local doctors who serve the poor, including Dr. Ernesto Velasquez. “Whenever possible, we have tried to help him help the vulnerable young women, infants and small children there,’’ she says.
Earlier this month, the Hamblins and others went on a third trip to Guatemala City with six pieces of luggage packed to capacity with the kits. Some of the items were purchased, other were handmade.
Hamblin had sewn baby blankets of flannel, while others knitted booties and caps. Cash donations have come in to help pay for some items, others were contributed by friends and well-wishers as far away as Idaho and Utah, she says.
Diapers in bulk lots of 8 dozen per pack were ordered from a Utah company and bars of soap were bought in bulk. Approximately 100 mini layettes of every color will go to the mothers of newborn infants in Guatemala.The cost to put together each kit is about $25.
Additional people from Danville and Alamo who also went on the trip, brought 200 pairs of shoes for children of the orphanage as part of an Eagle Scout project.
Purrfume Party to Benefit Cat Group
Laurie Stern makes perfumes at her El Cerrito home with the pink jasmine, spearmint, peppermint, lavender, honeysuckle, gardenia and other items she grows in her backyard garden. Stern has 12 perfumes, three body frostings, five hydrosols, also known as floral waters, and five bath salts that she sells online and from her home.
And because her business is named Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery, after her two beloved cats, she also has a catnip hydrosol for kitties. We asked Stern 10 more questions about her love of cats and flowers and how she will put on a kitty tea party June 5 to beneift the Friends of Roman Cats group. Here is what she had to say:
LS: I have always loved to make fun and beautiful things out of amazing, luxurious materials. I made one-of-a-kind lingerie pieces for high-end boutiques. Then I started my wedding flower business, which began as a small flower stand in Kensington. That business was very successful, but after 15 years I wanted to do something that didn’t require me to wake up at 2 a.m. and work 80-hours a week.
ANNB: How did you get involved with Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery?
LS: I spent several years experimenting with essential oils from all over the world. I kept a journal of how the scents of various essential oils made me feel, and I read every perfumery book I could find. My favorite is The Art of Perfumery, written in 1855. I was completely intrigued by the romance and mystery of perfumes made during what I call “the golden age of perfumery.” I put my perfumes in antique French bottles and tucked them into silky purses with pretty ribbons. Making these gifts represents a coming together of all my passions: my love of flowers, animals, Victoriana, of collecting little jewel boxes and antique bottles, and making unique gifts out of beautiful materials. In 2007 I started Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery.
ANNB: Purrfumery stems from your love of cats. Have you always been a cat lover and who are Velvet and Sweet Pea?
LS: I have always been in awe of animals and I particularly love to celebrate cats. I have had too many kitties to count and I have five now. I have always been involved in local animal rescue projects and cat adoptions. I would love to see a more humane world and I think it starts with the individual. Velvet and Sweet Pea are two of my kitties. I like to say that anything is possible because Velvet and Sweet Pea came from horrible beginnings and now they’re running a perfume business.
ANNB: We understand you have an amazing garden at your home. What do you grow?
LS: My husband, Gary, is a landscape architect. Together he and I created my Perfumer’s Garden. We grow citrus, herbs, roses and about 20 varieties of scented geraniums. I adore the scent of jasmine and roses, so there is plenty of jasmine. We also grow spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, lavender, lemon verbena, gardenia, and irises.
ANNB: What do you do with the items you grow?
LS: I use many of the plants and flowers in my perfumes and other personal care products. I infuse organic alcohols with honey, vanilla, and roses and I also hand-tincture many of the geraniums. I make moisturizers from the beeswax from our bees and jasmine. I also teach classes on making scents from items in your garden. Each of my products is almost entirely organic and I don’t use any animal products – ever. Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery received a “Leaping Bunny” certification 2 years ago, which certifies that I do not do animal testing and that none of the ingredients I use have been tested on animals by the companies we buy from.
ANNB: Tell us more about your work against animal testing.
ANNB: What do you love most about what you do?
LS: Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery embodies all that I love: perfume, the natural world, sensuality, and kitties. The hours I have spent learning the art and craft of perfumery have been some of my very favorite moments. Making perfume is very meditative and solitary. I also love my social events, like my Kitty Tea Parties and classes, when I get to meet others and share my perfumes with them. A big part of my work with the Purrfumery involves educating perfume lovers about what is in the perfumes they wear. I believe it’s important to know.
ANNB: We understand you are holding a Kitty Tea Party on June 5, tell us what that is.
LS: This is a very special event because it benefits Friends of Roman Cats, a San Francisco-based group that helps homeless and feral kitties in the United States and abroad, especially in Italy, and provides emergency funds for surgeries and other veterinary care. The group also leads tours of gardens and community cat colonies in Venice, Florence and Rome. We sit among the roses in bloom and enjoy high tea and yummy, homemade desserts - this time it will be vegan blood orange and almond scones, Russian perfumer tea cookies with patchouli, lemon rose dew drop cookies, and our famous jasmine and orange blossom chocolate truffles. We also give each guest a Purrfumery goody bag filled with delectable scented treats.
ANNB: What is your connection to the Friends of Roman Cats?
LS: FORC does a tremendous amount of work here and abroad to fund Trap-Neuter-Release programs and support No-Kill laws for homeless and feral cats. That means they are always looking for ways to spay-and-neuter homeless and feral kitties and release them back into the community, rather than euthanize them. They also have a fund to help people pay for veterinary care, which is amazing because sometimes caring for a sick kitty can be very costly. I have supported FORC for years because I have always really believed in their mission to help stranded and sick cats. I have wanted to have a benefit for them for a while. Recently, I turned to FORC to help me provide love and care to a family of cats after their owner died in March. The June 5 party fee of $25 benefits FORC. I will donate 20 percent of everything sold in the Purrfumery that day to FORC.
ANNB: How can people find your products or more about the Tea Party?
No Kirstie Alley Collection for this Woman
This is my 30th week on the Weight Watchers program. I am really happy with my progress, despite gaining weight while on vacation in April. This last week I lost 1.2 pounds for a total of 36 pounds.
Wine and Music Under the Stars
Wente Vineyards in Livermore has nine artists lined up this summer. Starting the series off will be The Frey on June 17.
Other performers headlining will include Liza Minelli on June 24, Barenaked Ladies on July 20, Huey Lewis and The News on August 10, Chris Isaak on August 19, ZZ Top on August 25, Earth, Wind and Fire on August 30, Willie Nelson on September 13 and rounding out the series, Harry Connick, Jr on September 21.
Wente offers many dining choices as well as terrace seating.
The Mountain Winery in Saratoga is well known for their summer concert series, which also feature not only musicians, but some of the best stand up comedians in America, inclduing Chelsea Handler. The winery offers their concert dining packages that include a threeicourse prix fixe dinner and choice of wines from their private reserve. Other pre-concert options are available.
Mountain Winery has scheduled more than 60 acts this summer. This is truly a "something for everyone" concert lineup that features classic rock, country western, pop and legends such as Diana Ross and Ringo Starr.Most performances start at 7:30 and again, ticket prices vary.