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May Birth Flower

For those of you lucky enough to be born in May, your birth month flower is the lily of the valley. Did you know that lilies of the valley are highly poisonous? Until just now, I didn’t, and I talk about flowers all day every day here! It’s true what they say that you learn something new every day! Here are a few interesting facts about the lily of the valley Lilies of the valley grow naturally in Northern Asia, Europe and in the Appalachian region of the United States The lily of the valley is often also called “Mary’s Tears,” as many stories claim that the origin of the flower is that it rose from the ground in the place where Jesus’ mother, Mary’s, tears fell to the ground. In Germanic mythology, the lily of the valley is symbolic of life and represents the goddess of spring, Ostara. These flowers always head the feast of Ostara.  When Britain’s Prince William married Catherine Middleton, her bouquet contained lilies of the valley.  In France it is a tradition to sell lilies of the valley tax-free on May 1, as a celebration of French Labor Day, and of spring.  Majalis, the scentific name for the plant, means “of (or belonging to) May” Happy birthday to our May babies! Don’t forget to stay away from your birth month flower – it’s...

Rules for Mother’s Day

Well, Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. Yes, the one day out of the year where you need to step outside of yourself and show appreciation to that woman who gave you life. I have decided to pass along some wisdom for a smoother day and a happier mom. You wonder from whence this wisdom is derived? Well, I have been a mom for 18 years, with 5 kids, and have had a mom for XX years. I also feel that giving birth to a child over 10 pounds (oh he owes me big time!) qualifies me to dispense advice :). I have chosen to focus on some things to not do on Mother’s Day: -DO NOT forget your mom on Mother’s Day. It’s as simple as that. There are reminders everywhere–stores, television, the internet, the newspaper. If you know ahead of time that you will be in a remote location with no cell service or you have a premonition that your dialing finger will be incapacitated, call ahead of time. The day doesn’t matter as much as the thought! -Don’t show up to your mom’s house asking what’s for dinner. No, no, no, that is the day for you to finally cook something for her or take her out! She will not really care what it is, make her a sandwich, bring over pizza, or take her to lobster. The idea is to get her out of the kitchen. And DO NOT leave her a mess. Oh, and if you get pizza, splurge a little and get the breadsticks (Moms like breadsticks). -Taking your mother to the local warehouse store...

Take Your Child To Work Day

Every year, the fourth Thursday in April is “Take Your Child to Work Day.” This year that falls on April 25, and GiftTree is excited to participate! Take Your Child to Work Day was founded in 1993, originally called “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.” It was created by the Ms. Foundation for Women and Gloria Steinem. The program was intended to be a nurturing experience for girls, who historically were excluded from the professional workplace. It was seen as an opportunity to give girls a self-esteem boost and a glimpse into a traditionally-male world. The Ms. Foundation sent literature about the program to schools, and held the day on a traditional school day in hopes that schools would encourage participation. Most schools were very hesitant to encourage the program initially, as it was geared solely towards female students. Growing voices called for the inclusion of male students, and in 2003 the program was officially expanded to include boys as well as girls, becoming “Take Your Child to Work Day,” a more gender-neutral and all-inclusive name. The newly restated goals of the program are to give children a glimpse into all kinds of career fields while they are still young enough to be more flexible in terms of gender roles. Since the expansion of the program, schools have increasingly encouraged participation and more and more workplaces also have begun to encourage employees to bring their children to work. Don’t forget to take your son or daughter to work on April...

Welcome, Baby Rainier!

On behalf of everyone here at GiftTree, I’d like to say welcome to the world to baby Rainier! GiftTree’s own blogging extraordinaire, Robin Crocker, and his lovely wife Amy, just welcomed their second child, baby Rainier. We are all so excited for you and wish you the best as you begin to get acquainted with your newest family member. Congratulations, Robin and...

This Day in History: April 15th, 2013

We are all aware that today is dreaded tax day. Don’t forget! (Honestly if you forgot until now, you better just go ahead and file for that extension). But this day 101 years was MUCH more dire. It was on this day in 1912 that theRMS Titanic’s maiden voyage sank into the North Atlantic shortly after its departure. 1522 people perished. (It wasn’t until a few years later in 1997 that Titanic the movie perished in the cultural consciousness shortly after its release) The “unsinakble” ship launched from Southampton, England, en route to New York City on April 12th. At 11:40 PM pm on April 14th, it struck a massive underwater iceberg; it sank only two hours later. Now it has been a century since this fateful wreck, which spawned endless moral metaphors and philosophizing about man’s hubris and arrogance being undone by natural forces. Yet, true to form, the human race rises again to attempt the impossible: in February the International Business Times reported that an Australian Billionaire has set to rebuild the Titanic for another voyage in 2016. Passengers are already offering $1 million dollars for a seat aboard the Titanic. If you were lucky enough to win the lottery, would you press your luck again and climb aboard the Titanic II? Sounds like cheating fate to me…. Happy Tax and Titanic(s) Day!...

Featured Employee – Konnie Kitt

This month we are featuring Konnie Kitt, from the Customer Service Department! Konnie has been with GiftTree a little over a year, and we are so lucky that she found us! She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy day to answer our important questions: What’s your favorite thing about working for GiftTree? First of all, I am part of a great company, what amazing people to work for and with!!! Secondly, I love helping people send gifts for the happiest of happy occasions and the saddest of sad occasions. It really is true that we sell feelings, not gifts. I also enjoy that my days are never the same. Variety is fabulous! Describe your perfect day. A perfect day would probably entail a long nap, a long bath, and all the junk food I can eat without calories. In the real world, however, probably doing anything with my hubby and kids because I know I am going to laugh, and laughing charges my batteries! If you could only see black and white, and ONE color, which color would you choose to see? Even though purple is probably my favorite color, if I could only see one color, it would have to be red. I can’t imagine not seeing red. Would you rather spend a weekend at the beach or in the mountains? Hard choice! I really dislike being cold so I would probably say beach, but I also love to ski and love the sights and smells of the mountains. Hmm, a bit wishy-washy on this one! You are famous around here for your...

Fun Runs!

Spring has officially sprung! It may not seem like it in some areas, I personally saw an amazing amount of snow on a road trip recently, but it is actually time for the seasons to change. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the flowers are blooming, the trees are beginning to bud, and the grass is turning green. People are beginning to come out of hibernation and venture outside for activities. For those of us who enjoy running, this is the time that we wait for all year. The temperatures are getting warmer, but not unbearably warm, just comfortable enough once the body is warm and active. I see many people out on the road and trails running, after being trapped inside a gym on a treadmill for most of the winter. This is the season when organized racing begins in most parts of the country. These races range from distances of 5 kilometers (approx. 3 1/2 miles) all the way to marathons, which are 26.2 miles. (There are ultra-marathons that range all the way to 100 miles, but they seem to be held in very limited areas). I have not been a runner for long, and actually participated in my first 5k as a walker. Which brings me to the purpose of this blog: spreading the word that one does not have to be a seasoned runner, or even very athletic at all to participate in one of these events. Most of the “fun run”s out there have a walking division, as do the longer events (which are recorded, but only to a certain time limit). Basically, a running...

St. Patrick’s Day Cookies

  Maybe it’s just me, but one of my favorite ways to celebrate any holiday is to turn it into an excuse to bake something delicious and fun. St. Patrick’s Day is no exception! What a great excuse to break out the green food coloring and shamrock cookie cutters! Here is a fun recipe for some delicious St. Paddy’s Day cookies: Cookies: 1 1/2 cups butter, softened (not melted!) 2 cups sugar 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt Directions: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they are smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then, stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill the dough for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 °F. Roll out the dough on a surface sprinkled with a mixture of powdered sugar and flour. Use your favorite shamrock, leprechaun or other St. Patrick’s Day-themed cooking cutters to cut the dough into shapes. The cookies should be one inch apart on your cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes until you see them turning a light golden color on the edges. Do not decorate them until they are completely cooled! Icing: 3 tablespoons meringue powder 4 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 6 tablespoons water (add them one at a time, not all at once, because the amount needed may vary) Green food coloring Directions: Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat on high for at about 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Divide and color as desired....

Say Cheese!

When I think of the perfect food, there is only one that comes to mind… cheese! It can be used for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert. It can be paired with wines, added to sauces, melted into fondue, topped with fruit, put in sandwiches, mixed with pasta and put in desserts.  Not only that, but cheese is used in every day lingo. From “Say Cheese” to “The Big Cheese”, it’s obvious that in terms of world food domination, The Cheese Stands Alone. One cheese in particular I’ve been interested in lately is Goat Cheese. Just this past weekend, we whipped up a delicious spring salad with creamy goat cheese dressing (get the recipe here) to accompany our steaks. It was a huge hit!  Goat cheese is a very creamy, rich cheese and also pairs well with fruit. In particular, I LOVE the combination of goat cheese with fig, and plan on making a fig and goat cheese pizza with arugula this weekend (get the recipe here). Yum! Exploring the world of cheese can be a bit overwhelming, but a delicious journey. Not sure where to start? The Artisan Cheese Hamper is the perfect solution. Full of handcrafted cheeses from around the world, it also includes an upscale collection of gourmet treats to pair them with. Bon...

Taste Your Way Around the Pacific Northwest

Oregon and Washington have an established reputation for some of the best wine in the world.  If you are fortunate enough to live or visit the Pacific Northwest, you have a unique opportunity to make a trip out to wine country and explore the  dazzling array of  top-notch wineries each region has to offer. Oregon’s Willamette Valley region is home to over 200 wineries & tasting rooms, and carries some of the best Pinot Noir you can find.  This area is perfect for a day trip, with many wineries being a stone’s throw away from each other.  Friendly wineries and gorgeous views aside, the wines in this region are simply some of the best, and are home to popular wineries such as Erath, Argyle, Domaine Serene and Sokol Blosser. The Columbia River Gorge wine region is the epitome of what the Pacific Northwest culture is all about. Surrounded by waterfalls and mountain views, this region is host to a plethora of different wine varietals, due to its ideal growing location.  Along with an abundance of award winning wineries, the Gorge is famous for its outdoor activities including hiking, white water rafting, wind surfing and skiing.  An ideal weekend getaway spot, the Gorge is the perfect choice for a Bed & Breakfast stay. The next stop on our tour is the beautiful Walla Walla valley. This farming town of 30,000 has exploded in recent years with new tasting rooms and vineyards, quickly making it a tourist destination for wine lovers. Fondly referred to as the “Napa of the North”, this is the perfect region for discovering the talents of local winemakers and enjoying...

Valentine’s Day Stats

Just what are we buying for Valentine’s Day? The History Channel has compiled the following information about what we send to our loved ones. 141 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion. (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.) (Source: Hallmark research) Over 50 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the observance, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight. (Source: Hallmark research) Research reveals that more than half of the U.S. population celebrates Valentine’s Day by purchasing a greeting card. (Source: Hallmark research) Candy is Dandy 1,241: The number of locations producing chocolate and cocoa products in 2004. These establishments employed 43,322 people. California led the nation in the number of such establishments with 136, followed by Pennsylvaniawith 122. (Source:http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/cbptotal.html) 515 locations produced nonchocolate confectionary products in 2004. These establishments employed 22,234 people. The total value of shipments in 2004 for firms producing chocolate and cocoa products was $13.9 billion. Nonchocolate confectionery product manufacturing, meanwhile, was a $5.7 billion industry. 3,467 Number of confectionery and nut stores in the United States in 2004. Often referred to as candy stores, they are among the best sources of sweets for Valentine’s Day. The per capita consumption of candy by Americans in 2005 was 25.7 pounds. Candy consumption has actually declined over the last few years; in 1997, each American gobbled or savored more than 27 pounds of candy a year. Flowers The combined wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2005 for all flower-producing operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $397...

A Little About Cupid

One of the most culturally-recognized icons of Valentine’s Day is Cupid. Today we view him more often than not as a chubby cherub with a little red bow and arrow. However, the roots of Cupid lie in Greek and Roman mythologies. While “Cupid” is the Roman name, the Greek myths use the name Eros. Though the Greek mythologies differ from earlier to later, the most common representation of Eros is that he is the son of Aphrodite, who is the goddess of love and beauty. Eros was known for interfering in the romantic lives of gods and mortals alike. Another ancient source, Hesiod, wrote about Eros as a primordial god, rising from the darkness and mating with Chaos in order to create the human race. The myth most commonly associated with Eros/Cupid is that of Eros and Psyche. Jealous of her beauty, Aphrodite had commanded Eros to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous creature. Instead, Eros is stricken by her beauty and falls in love with her. After a cruel intervention from Psyche’s jealous sisters, Eros leaves her wandering the earth seeking him. She appeals to Aphrodite for help, who gives Psyche a series of challenges to face. After completing them, Psyche is made immortal and she and Eros live together happily and have a daughter, Hedone. Interestingly enough, the chubby cherub Cupid who we most often see today was not brought into being until the Renaissance, when the mythological figure was adapted to meet the day’s popular artistic trends. Happy Valentine’s...

Groundhog Day

Happy February 2 everyone! This day has come to be known as Groundhog Day. As you well know, if the groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow, six additional weeks of winter are said to be in store. If he does not see his shadow, it is said to be an early spring. Groundhog Day as we celebrate it originated as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 1700s, but has its roots in ancient European weather lore, where a badger was used to predict the coming of spring. Originally called Candlemas, our Groundhog Day is celebrated in locations all over the world. The most famous Groundhog Day celebration is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, which was glamorized by the 1993 Bill Murray film. Another fun fact? The National Climatic Data Center has reported that Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions have been accurate 61.7% of the time. Happy Groundhog Day! Let us watch and wait, and see if Phil gets it right in...

How Sweet is Your Love?

Tell us the story of how you two lovebirds met for a chance to win an entire basket filled with gourmet chocolates from popular brands! To enter, click the link here  & follow the instructions. Sharing is encouraged so don’t forget to Share the Love by sharing on your wall, re-tweeting & +1’ing for some EXTRA entries. The person with the most entries wins! Contest closes Sunday February 3rd at midnight PST. The winner will be announced on Monday February...

Share The Love – Valentine’s Day 2013

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! Join us each week as we count down to the big day with romantic-inspired tips, discounts, contests and more! Click here to enter! Valentine’s Day is all about spreading the joy of love and kindness. We want to hear how kindness has touched your life. Share your own personal story of kindness with us to win this Valentine’s Day Gourmet Gift Basket filled with the best in gourmet indulgences. One entry per a post and additional entries given for every share, re-tweet, or +1, because as everyone knows, sharing is caring! Contest closes Sunday, Jan. 25th at midnight PST. One winner will be chosen at random on Monday, Jan....

Chocolatier Keepsake Chest

Guest Blogger Tracey Graham Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, I grew up with a love for books. Since there was no television station that transmitted to our home, my family would sit around the living room each night to read out loud.The stories would range from adventure, to sci-fi, to teen romance books (this last to be read when dad was not home). Now that I’m older and have a family of my own, I look back on these nights with the hope that my little family will always be as close as these books kept me and my sisters. I found the perfect gift to send to my sisters…. It’s the Chocolatier Keepsake Chest. The box itself is made to resemble a book, and is just the perfect reminder of warm nights by the fire with our family. My only problem is choosing which set of chocolates to send to my sisters. I think for my sister who traveled Europe, I will send the World-Famous Chocolates, and for my sister who would rather read about traveling, I will send the Godiva Chocolates. Either way, I am anticipating that these gifts will bring back these same memories to my...

Learn Something New this New Year!

All around the world, people gather together every December 31 to celebrate the passing of the old year and the commencement of the next. This New Year’s Eve, dazzle all of your fellow party guests with your amazing knowledge of New Year’s celebrations past and present! Kick back with a holiday-themed Personalized Wine Gift, a West Coast Wine Quartet or a festive Champagne Toast to Health, and cheers! Did you know… ⁃    The first year a ball ever dropped in Times Square in New York was in 1907. It was composed primarily of iron and wood and weighed 700 pounds. ⁃    The first record of a New Year’s celebration dates back almost 4000 years to ancient Babylon, when the first new moon following the vernal equinox was celebrated. Although in March, this was still considered to be a new year by the Babylonians! ⁃    It was after the creation of Julius Caesar’s version of the Roman calendar that January 1 became the official “New Year” marker. “Januarius” as they called it was named after the Roman God of Beginnings, Janus, who had two faces, allowing him to look back into the past and forward into the future. ⁃    Pigs are considered to be a symbol of prosperity and progress in some cultures. Pork is a common New Year’s dish in Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal, among other countries. ⁃    A Swedish  and Norwegian tradition involves placing a single almond inside a rice pudding. Tradition dictates that whoever finds the almond is sure to receive a year of good luck. ⁃    Perhaps the most unique New Year’s celebration is held...

Playing Santa Claus

For me, the single most enjoyable thing about being a parent is getting to play Santa Claus. I think every kid loves Christmas. Presents, cookies, family…what’s not to love? Nobody ever tells you, though, just how much you’ll love Christmas when you become an adult, and for entirely different reasons. The feeling of carefully selecting gifts for my children is so rewarding. I can look at a gift and imagine the way their eyes will light up when they see it. Christmas has become about that to me; the ultimate goal at Christmas is for my children to be happy. There are so many things to give thought to in order ot make Christmas the best it possibly can be. Which Christmas movie will we watch on Christmas Eve? “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was always my favorite, but they seem to like “The Santa Clause” more. Which cookie shapes will we use to make Santa’s cookies? Ethan prefers the reindeer and Caroline the snowman. It’s tradition that the kids always get a new pair of pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve, so choosing just the right pair is tough, too. There are so many things to consider without even considering the Christmas gifts. Christmas goodies are a must-have! Kids love treats, and with the Fresh Fruit & Cookies Basket or the Tempting Treats Tower, you will be absolutely stocked up on treats . I know I always spend time pondering which goodies to fill stockings with, or just how much candy is too much! With these great gift ideas not only do they get tasty treats, but they...
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