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    National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    October 4th, 2013 Konnie Kitt

    October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This special month dedicated to those who have been affected by breast cancer was first celebrated in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and the company now known as AstraZeneca. It was established to remind everyone that mammograms are the most effective weapons in the fight against this disease.

    We are all affected by breast cancer, or will be at some point in our lives. Whether you have struggled with a family member or a friend who is dealing with the disease, have dealt with it yourself, or whether it is something you will deal with in your future, we all will be touched somehow or another. In the United States, this year, approximately 232,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 39,000 women will die from breast cancer. With the current detection methods and advancing treatments, the death rates have been decreasing since 2002. Such good news!

    Recently, my 90 year-old grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery, and is currently more active than she has been in years. I recently had a childhood friend who passed away from breast cancer. I, myself, had a mammogram come back abnormal about 2 months ago. I had to have a biopsy, which came back clear, but it sure made me think. I did a lot of reading, a lot of soul-searching, and a lot of praying while I waited for results. It also made me a lot more dedicated to the fact that I will be tested every year, without fail!

    This is a month to pay tribute to those who have lost the battle with breast cancer and to celebrate those who have and are waging the war against this powerful disease. Whether you want to give a gift, a card, a phone call, or a hug, that special woman (or man, as they can be diagnosed as well) will appreciate the thought and the gesture. And wear that pink this October!

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    Back to School

    September 5th, 2013 Konnie Kitt

    My children would absolutely hate me for wanting to blog about this subject, but, like death and taxes, it must be done. Parents and retailers everywhere are already thinking about this upcoming event. I am not speaking of Labor Day or Grandparents Day. Nope, the day that makes children everywhere quake and parents do a little happy dance??? BACK TO SCHOOL! (Screaming, rioting, gnashing of teeth).

    When my children were little, money was extremely tight so I would spend most of the previous school year and the summer searching ads, trying to find the best deals on clothing and school supplies. I would just keep a spot where I would put all the pencils, crayons, paper, etc to pull out when the backpack was ready to be loaded. One of my biggest problems is that I hide things too well and often can not find all the things I put away, at least until all of the kids have graduated from high school!! I seriously think that I will be able to donate all those “well-hidden” items and supply an entire school! But, oh, I loved the challenge of the 1 cent sales at the office supply chains or scoring a brand new box of crayons for a quarter!

    Now, when it came to back-to-school clothing, we would accumulate the requisite socks, underwear, and shoes, along with new shirts, pants, and skirts all throughout the summer as the sales presented themselves. The clothing was then put away at the top of the closet of the child, not to be touched (under penalty of Mom’s stink-eye) until school reconvened in the fall.

    As we near that bittersweet time this year, are you a hoarder like me, or do you simply go out in one fell swoop and purchase everything at once? Are your kids getting older so the list from the schools nearly requires a second mortgage on your home? Do any of you, like myself, have a first timer in college? Wow, that is an eye-opening experience! I am just dreading the fact that one book may cost more than I have actually spent on supplies in the last 13 years!

    Here’s to you parents! When they head out the door that first morning, take a few minutes to sit and just enjoy the peace and silence. Just think, you have about 9 hours until the homework and projects begin!

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    Celebrate August

    August 10th, 2013 admin

    For those of you lucky enough to have been born in August, you are in good company. August is a month with a fascinating history. Next time you are asked about your August birthday, impress your audience with your knowledge of the month:

    -August is Panini Month. Yeah…. you need to know, because those things are delicious.

     -The middle of August is normally when the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower appears for viewing

     -August is Goat Cheese Month. You should have goat cheese on your paninis. Happy birthday!

     -August is also Happiness Happens month. Do goat cheese and paninis make you happy?

    -August is named after Augustus Caesar, Roman leader who experienced a number of military triumphs in this month of the year. Also named after him is Caesar dressing – you can put some on your panini. You’re welcome.

    -August’s birth flower is the gladiola.

     -The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held the first week of August each year. Hey, paninis with goat cheese make good travel food.

     Now your brains are a little fuller with some August facts. Happiness happens – enjoy this lovely end of summer month! With panini!

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    Friendship Day

    August 2nd, 2013 admin

    I believe in showing appreciation to our loved ones every chance we get. Small things even, like saying “I love you” or sending a quick text in the morning to tell someone “Have a great day!”. We shouldn’t only show our love on holidays that are specifically for an individual. But if we’re honest with ourselves, showing our love or appreciation either doesn’t come easily or can be simply forgotten. As humans, we are just always so busy, which makes holidays great because we can take time and shower someone with kindness and love. People will claim a lot of holidays are created by “Hallmark” and the retail industry to make money, but does it really matter? When it comes down to it, holidays are FUN! And even if we happen to always show how much we care about someone, it’s just nice to make a day even more special for the people we love!

    With all that being said, I have to admit . . . I LOVE HOLIDAYS! Sometimes I look up random holidays on the internet for fun, almost every day is National/International “this” or “that”. The upcoming holiday that I’m super excited about, but just recently found out existed, is Friendship Day! Okay, so maybe this actually was a holiday created by Hallmark many, many years ago, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. The holiday falls on the first Sunday of every August, which means this years Friendship Day is just a couple days away, on August 4th. There are so many ways to show our friends we are thinking of them and Friendship Day gives us a reminder that even our friends should be told we care. I think friendships can sometimes be one of the things we forget to celebrate. We call people our best friends, hang out, and have a good time – but how often do we do something a little different and thoughtful?

    My best friend and I have been friends for over 15 years. We went through Elementary, Middle, and High School together. We’ve had our ups and we’ve definitely had our downs. After High School we went our separate ways and spoke every few months on the phone and sometimes on social networks, being that we always lived in different states. But our friendship has always been strong and real, because those real friendships never go away. I’ll always remember the silly weird things we’ve done and all the hard times we’ve both endured, survived, and helped each other through. At times I don’t feel like I show how much I appreciate her, especially when she’s done so much for me. So earlier this year, when she retired from the Airforce, I decided to surprise her with a couple of fun gifts not only to show that I was thinking of her but also so that way she could have something to remember those moments of becoming a civilian again.

    The first gift I got her was the Be Happy Bouquet which I added a balloon to. The bouquet I chose is one of our many amazing gifts that are hand delivered by our fantastic design centers located all over the country. I had to order the gift last minute because the date wasn’t set in stone on when she would sign her retirement papers. I ended up ordering the flower arrangement the same day she actually signed the papers. Now you may be thinking it must have been hard to get this arrangement out on such short notice . . . but it wasn’t!!! I ordered early that morning and she received it later that afternoon. I was so excited all day long, because she wasn’t expecting it at all and I couldn’t wait to see how surprised she was! I chose the Be Happy Bouquet because it’s one of my favorites. It’s bright, cute, and .  . well . . . happy! I think it’s one of the best bouquets to give friends in general. In fact, most customers who order this gift give it to their friends on their birthday. Not only is it adorable, but it’s also reusable, which is cool because when the person you get this for uses the mug, they’ll think of how you got them something so thoughtful and nice.

    I remember my friend texting me with how surprised and stoked she was to get it – she even texted me a photo with the arrangement and the next time I was on Facebook, I saw that she posted it online as well. Not only did it make her happy, but it made me feel better knowing I was able to find a way to show my appreciation for our friendship and my excitement for her to come home.

    She was leaving a couple days later and heading back to our hometown, but I knew I wouldn’t see her right away. I live about thirty minutes away from her parents home, where she was staying temporarily. Since she was getting in late I sent her a wine basket to her parents home from our warehouse. I didn’t have time to bring it to her myself so shipping it through Fed-Ex was very convenient. My friend was once again surprised and her whole family pulled out wine glasses, popped the two bottles of wine, and celebrated her homecoming. It was a hit! Once again, pictures were posted on Facebook, so even though I wasn’t there, I still got to enjoy her and her families celebration as well.

    When my friend got her own place closer to me, I of course went to visit. By the time I had a chance to visit, her apartment was pretty much all unpacked and everything in their place. I sat in the kitchen while her and her boyfriend very nicely made lunch. As they were moving around the kitchen I noticed they were using the basket, from the wine gift I sent, to hold fresh fruit on their counter. And as she reached for a glass in her cabinet, I saw the Be Happy mug with the rest of her dishes. These gifts that I ordered online made a way into her home and a part of her everyday life. That, with the memory of surprising her when she least expected it, was completely priceless.

    As Friendship Day nears, remember that even the smallest things make a big difference. You can completely turn someones day around, put a smile on their face, and make them feel incredibly special. Our friends – who can be someone we’ve known since childhood, family, co-workers, or someone you just recently met – all deserve to be thought of, even if it takes an International holiday to remind us to do something a little different.

    Our gifts, no matter what you choose, will make someone feel deeply appreciated. We have flower arrangements that we can deliver the day you order them and we have so many items that can be shipped, like gifts that you can personalize or engrave, gourmet baskets with reusable and stylish baskets/carrying cases, and so much more! Whether you’re ordering a gift for Friendship Day or even just ordering a gift on any ole day just to surprise someone, you will be able to find that special something here. I know this because I have experienced it myself again and again.

    Like I’ve said before, we all get busy, so take a moment and show someone that you’ve been thinking about them by sending them something special and heartfelt, because believe me, it’s such an awesome feeling knowing you made someones day!

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    My Favorite Turnover Recipe

    July 26th, 2013 admin

    Bear with me, I’ve got a sweet tooth today. I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “Oh man. I reaaaally could use a blackberry turnover.” Nevermind that it’s something resembling 6am, and nevermind that they aren’t traditionally a breakfast food. This morning my brain was not to be dissuaded. A turnover I want and a turnover I must have! Sadly here I am at GiftTree, writing to you all about turnovers instead of baking them… but I assure you that when I get home, I will be whipping up a batch of these, which is a great (and also SIMPLE) recipe for blackberry turnovers.

    Here’s the best reason this is a simple turnover recipe – for your turnover crust, you’ll just use a simple Pillsbury Grands (or similar) biscuit dough. The recipe should make 16 if you use all of the biscuits. And the turnovers can be frozen to eat at a later date, too.

    Ingredients:

    Pastry crust:

    2 – 16 oz. Packages of Pillsbury Grands refrigerated biscuit dough

    Filling:

    4 cups of blackberries

    ½ cup of sugar

    Icing:

    3 oz. Cream cheese, softened

    1/3 cup powdered sugar

    2 tablespoons of water

    2 tablespoons flour

    1 tablespoon sugar

    1 tablespoon brown sugar

    2 tablespoons butter, softened

    ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (no imitation extract – it matters!)

    ¼ cup butter, melted (keep separate from the softened butter)

     Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350*
    2. Place the biscuit dough on a flat surface and roll the biscuits out until they are flat, then set them aside
    3. To make the filling, sprinkle the sugar over the berries, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to get the sugar to stick evenly to the berries. You can add slightly more sugar to taste if needed.
    4. Blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar and water together in one bowl
    5. In a separate bowl, mix your flour, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract
    6. Cut the butter in the flour/sugar/vanilla mixture until the entire bowl is a crumbly consistency
    7. Pick up your rolled-out biscuits. Put a generous spoonful of the berry filling in the center of each biscuit.
    8. You have two options with the icing – You can add a dollop of the icing inside the turnover at this point with the berries, or alternately you can wait until you’re done and then use a pastry bag to ice the outside. My preference is to take a dollop of the icing and put it on top of the berry filling inside of the turnover.
    9. Fold your full turnovers over to create a half-circle shape, and seal the edges by folding them over and pinching them together
    10. Dip the turnovers (carefully, as they are now full!) in the flour/sugar/vanilla mixture to get the outside coated in it
    11. Place the turnovers on a nonstick or greased cookie sheet
    12. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden, then cool for at least 20 minutes
    13. ENJOY your blackberry turnovers!

     

     

     

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    I Scream, You Scream….

    July 19th, 2013 admin

    Did you know that July 21st is National Ice Cream Day? Maybe you did: considering that 90% of the United States eats ice cream, but did you know why? Back in 1984, our president at the time, Mr. Ronald Reagan, not only declared that the 3rd Sunday in July be National Ice Cream Day, but also declared the whole month of July as National Ice Cream Month! Pretty awesome, right? He said that these events should be celebrated as well. Well, I agree with him. Ice cream is wonderful. It’s one of those rare foods that you can eat when you’re feeling sad or down, and it can actually make you feel better! At least, it works for me. My favorite ice cream in the whole world is Mint Chocolate Chip, with lots of chocolate syrup. Kind of boring one, I know, with all the interesting different flavors of ice cream that exist today. A few interesting flavors? Bacon, Crab, Garlic, Green Tea and Oyster. None for me, thanks, but to each their own. Know somebody that loves ice cream so much that they deserve a gift on National Ice Cream Day? Get them GiftTree’s Engraved Ice Cream Bucket with Scoop (Gift #6894) for just $39.95! A metal alloy container that keeps their ice cream chilled while they eat it, it’s the perfect fit for a pint of their favorite Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs ice cream. Comes with a lid and a scoop, all contained nicely in a cute GiftTree gift box. And the best part? You can have the side of the Bucket engraved!! With a maximum engraving area of two lines, and twenty characters on each line, it’s perfect for a name, a date or a short message (like Happy Ice Cream Day!). That ice cream lover in your life is about todiscover who the coolest person in theirs is!

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    Songs of Summertime!

    July 16th, 2013 Konnie Kitt

    Summer. Just the word makes me want to shirk all of my responsibilities and head out to go camping or go to the beach or just lie around and become stagnant! I think this all results from the summers when I was in school. I would pretty much get out of school on the last day and not really think about deadlines or lessons or anything serious for almost 3 full months! What I failed to realize at that age is that adults don’t get summer vacations! All disappointment on that note aside, summer is such a great time of year! The weather is warm, for the most part and the world is beautiful. A little bit of sun will provide that Vitamin D to boost the spirit and nothing beats a good water-fight.

    I checked Billboard.com for the best songs about summer and thought I would share them with you. See how many you recognize and, maybe, take a listen and see if these ditties will get you in that summer mood. (And there is no coincidence that The Beach Boys are a frequent repeat on the list, who could keep from feeling joy when listening to their amazing summer songs?)

    30. “Surfin’ Safari” The Beach Boys

    29. Summertime” Billy Stewart

    28. “Wipeout” Fat Boys and The Beach Boys

    27. “Cruel Summer” Bananarama

    26. “Summertime Blues” Eddie Cochran

    25. “A Summer Song” Chad and Jeremy

    24. “Suddenly Last Summer” The Motels

    23. “Surfer Girl” The Beach Boys

    22. “Summer Breeze” Seals & Crofts

    21. “School’s Out” Alice Cooper

    20. “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” Nat King Cole

    19. “Summer Love” Justin Timerlake

    18. “Saturday in the Park” Chicago

    17. ” Summer Girls” LFO

    16. “California Girls” The Beach Boys

    15. “Summer” War

    14. “Under the Boardwalk” The Drifters

    13. “Summer of ’69″ Bryan Adams

    12. “In the Summertime” Mungo Jerry

    11. “The Boys of Summer” Don Henley

    10. “Summer Nights” John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John

    9. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” Sly & the Family Stone

    8. “Surfin’ USA” The Beach Boys

    7. “Summertime” DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

    6. “Endless Summer Nights” Richard Marx

    5. “Surf City” Jan & Dean

    4. “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini” Bryan Hyland

    3. “Wipe Out” The Surfaris

    2. “Summer In The City” The Lovin’ Spoonful

    1. “California Gurls” Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg

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    Summer Festivals

    July 15th, 2013 Konnie Kitt

    Summertime! It is so fun to take road trips and discover new and interesting things. I have decided that everyone should attend a small town festival this summer, just to try something or experience something that was unknown previously.

    I remember several years ago, driving in to go camping at Bear Lake, Utah. We were hauling a boat behind a pick-up and hit the main street in Garden City. What we didn’t realize was that we pulling in just as the Raspberry Days parade was beginning! We stayed and watched the parade, though we didn’t know anyone, but that was about the only option. We got to see the Raspberry Queen and her court, along with some of the local, colorful characters. It was also amazing, after the parade to realize that everything in the town was made with raspberries during the festival. From shakes to yogurt, from honey to syrup, from candy to fruit leather, there was not a food item that seemed to escape the little red fruit.  There were local artisans selling their wares along the thoroughfare. What a fun and interesting time. And, just think, we would have missed it if not driving through on this particular weekend. What a great way to experience a small town!

    I have researched some different festivals around the country, and would hope that if you are in the area, you might participate.

    — We are a bit late for this one, but I am certainly putting this on my calendar for next year. In Avon, Ohio, in June they hold the Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival. the festival honors the history of this town that has been named the “Duct Tape Capital” of the world. There are sculptures and fashions made from this multi-purpose tape as well as a parade and games.

    —    How about the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado in September? Visitors can sample over 2000 different American beers. there is also a competition for domestic breweries.

    —     The Minneapolis Aquatennial is held in July. This 10 day festival includes sand castle building, beach volleyball, and even a milk carton race.

    —     The Bristol Renaissance Faire is held from July until fall in Bristol, Wisconsin. The faire is based upon historical activities such as jousting tournaments, reenactments, and stage shows. The costumes are very elaborate. One might even come upon a wood sprite patrolling the grounds.

    —     The Delmarva Chicken Festival runs in late June in Show Hill, Maryland. There is a car and truck show, a fun run, and of course, lots and lots of chicken. Visitors get the chance to see the world’s largest frying pan!

    —     Weatherford, Texas hosts the Parker County Peach Festival every July. Along with peaches from all over and the many different recipes, i.e. cobbler, ice cream, juleps, smoothies, and pie, there is an arts and crafts festival. A bike rally is held that serves peaches at the pit stops.

    —     The Banjo Jubilee Jazz Festival is held in early September in Palo Alto, California. This festival features workshops, jam sessions, and a banquet.

    —     Try out the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Michigan this year in late June/ early July. The event focuses on electric and jam bands.

    —     Eugene, Oregon hosts the annual Faerieworlds, music and arts festival. The entire festival is based on faerie lore. Plan to hear music and see dance performances. One of the main focuses is on using recycled materials, compostable foodware, and employing organic and vegetarian food vendors.

    —     If you happen to be in Vermilion, Ohio in the late summer, you must attend the Woollybear Festival. There is a costume contest where children and pets dress as the woolly bear caterpillar. The caterpillar is celebrated for its weather forecasting abilities, based upon the amount of black versus orange in the band on the caterpillar’s body, determining the severity of the winter.

    This is just a sampling of some of the wonderful events that can be attended during the upcoming summer months. Check your local chamber of commerce to see if your town, or those in the surrounding area host a quirky and exciting festival. Get out and enjoy the world around you!

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    Summer Food

    July 9th, 2013 Alicia

    Summer time is in full swing, and we love this time of year! Swimming, picnics, outdoor activities and best of all, summer food. There is nothing better than a good bbq, a nice cold beverage, friends and sunshine! Some of the best things about summer food is that most of it doesn’t require you to slave over a hot stove. Easy summer meals are a must, and when we think of a perfect summer food, the avocado comes to mind. We love it sliced, diced, wrapped up, and especially made into guacamole. Mmmm! Another summer favorite for us is fresh crab. While we love it anytime of year, we especially love crab in the summer, dipped in melted butter, messy and succulent (butter running down your chin and all). Keeping some of our favorite food in mind, we wanted to find a unique way of blending our favorites, with a fresh twist. Lucky for us, we found the PERFECT recipe from Foodandwine.com. Chilled Avocado Soup topped with Crab (get the recipe here). Pair it with some crusty french bread and a chilled bottle of white wine and you have yourself a light and refreshing summer night meal!

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    July Birthdays

    July 8th, 2013 Konnie Kitt

    I was born, smack-dab in the middle of July. Don’t believe me? Try the 15th. I always loved having a birthday in the summer because the possibilities for something fun to do or party ideas were endless. The only downfall, and I have heard this from other people who celebrate summer birthdays, we never got to have a birthday party at school! We never got to take treats to our class or we simply got lumped in with the other summer kids for a general party for all. But, my consolation was always that I was half a year away from Christmas so the gifts were available more than just once a year.

    I did some research into July birthdays and probably learned some things about myself in the process. Of course, at the age I will be turning this year, I should have figured myself out by now!

    People who were born in July are: Bubbling with enthusiasm. Friendly in nature. Quiet and retrained. Deep thinkers. Have a good sense of humor. Loving and caring towards near and dear ones. Sharp minded. Sensitive. Fun. Forgiving in nature. Unpredictable at times. Stylish in dress. Peace lovers. Spiritual at times. Dedicated and hard-working.  At least that’s what “they” say. There are a few of those that would seem doubtful for me **cough, cough** (quiet and restrained), but generally pretty accurate.

    The birthstone for July is the Ruby. I have always loved this stone. It is red, but contains undertones of pink, unlike the Garnet that is deeply red. The Ruby is considered the stone of contentment. Symbolizes success, devotion, and integrity. Ancient lore is that ruby is capable of reconciling lover’s quarrels.

    - A ruby engagement ring expresses passion and promise of the heart. It brings peace of mind, stimulates sexuality, removes evil and impure thoughts, banishes sorrows and prevents nightmares.

    - A heart shaped ruby, attracts love when worn over the heart in a red velvet bag filled with seashells.

    July’s flower is the Water Lily or Larkspur. The water lily symbolizes purity of heart and larkspur represents lightness, levity, ardent attachment, and fickleness.

    July’s trees (I really didn’t realize we had trees, but okay) are the elm and cypress. The symbolism behind these include strength of will and intuition.

    It is always fun to find out who shares my birthday so after searching, I share my day with Rembrandt, Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, and Jesse Ventura! Who could ask for anything more?

    July birthdays are coming up, remember to honor your loved-ones with something. A gift is always fun, but a card or a phone call will always make someone feel special. Of course, in this fast-paced world, even a text would work, or set up a time to skype with the birthday boy or girl. Birthdays are the celebration of someone coming into the world and landing in your life. Let them know you appreciate that.

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