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My First Love

Blog by Tracey Graham I remember well growing up, my dad was the strongest man I knew. I’d seen him carry oil barrels on his shoulders when we would go to his job. He worked two jobs to support our family and never once complained. In fact, he is known as a man of few words. So early on I learned to really listen when he spoke to me. When it came time for my sisters and I to date, well he wasn’t ready to think of us growing up. Our boyfriend’s would have to come to dinner before they were allowed to take us anywhere. My dad would sit in his chair, literally growling at the boys, scaring them into running out of our house and we’d never see them again. Finally, when I had moved out of the house and began dating in earnest, I thought I had found true love. He was a hard worker, just like my dad. And when he would forget a date, I would chalk it up to him having to work and just being busy. He proposed to me, and of course I said yes, because I loved him he was perfect. He went to my parent’s house with me to dinner to ask my dad for my hand in marriage. My dad sat there growling at him and never actually answered him, but I’d seen this before and so I thought nothing of it. The day arrived of my wedding, and there I was waiting with my dad to walk down the aisle. He turned to me and said “Would...

Gratitude and Remembrance: A Veteran’s Day Story

As the 11th of November approaches, the thoughts of most Americans turn toward the three-day weekend and the excitements and stresses of the holiday season to come. We are fortunate to live in such a society, where the worry about armed conflict is completely eclipsed the comforts of pumpkin spice lattes and an anxiety about shopping lists. However, this extraordinary privilege can sometimes leave us blind to price of our comfortable existence. War was certainly not on my mind during my sojourn in France, and it was the last thing I wanted to think about after a long day of climbing around Mont St. Michel, but nevertheless I found myself being driven through the Breton countryside toward a small piece of home in the form of the Brittany American Cemetery. A staid looking French woman and an affable gentleman, whose French was tinted by a distinct New Jersey accent and whose straight posture immediately identified him as an American Serviceman, greeted our party. They told us the remarkable story of the cemetery, how this piece of land, still surrounded by war-torn stone barns, was given to the United States by the French people in gratitude for service in the World Wars, how the United States government had paid for every widow and mother of a man interred there to visit their loved ones’ remains and how the old woman fondly remembered the American GIs coming through the village at the end of World War II with candy and chocolate for the grateful children. To me though, the truly extraordinary aspect of the cemetery lay in the bucket of roses...

November Birth Flowers: The Versatile Chrysanthemum

I feel very lucky to have a November birthday. It’s perfectly nestled between Halloween and Thanksgiving, so I always have something festive to look forward to during this time of year. But it’s not just those of us who were born this month who are lucky! Our friends are also very fortunate because the November birth flower is the lovely chrysanthemum, which makes the November birthday gift one of the easiest to shop for. The cheery, multi-colored blooms can be arranged in countless bouquets that say anything from “I love you” to “You’re a great employee” and the flower is so abundant at this time of year that you needn’t agonize about picking the perfect present; just choose from one of these gorgeous GiftTree bouquets: The Autumn Burst is a great seasonal arrangement that will complement their fall décor as well as celebrate their special day. Our Harvest Happiness Centerpiece makes a fun alternative to a traditional flower bouquet and looks great on the table at a birthday dinner. This Birthday Wishes Bouquet is the perfect office gift. The pink roses and yellow mums will brighten their day and the included balloon will let all their coworkers know that today should be a celebration! For a bit more of a romantic, feminine touch the Loving You Bouquet featuring purple mums sends a heartfelt birthday greeting. The pink and white Cotton Candy Bouquet looks good enough to eat and is a perfect gift for the young or young at heart. Chrysanthemums come in a variety of colors, including deep purple and bright green. These stylish hues feature in our fragrant...

Election Day

Blog by Kirian McClure Election Day is almost upon us! I’m surely not the first to tell you that this is an important election, one that folks on both sides of the ticket are fired up about.  You probably didn’t come to this blog to read about politics, but regardless of whether your chosen candidate wins or loses, as dusk falls on Election Day a good chunk of country will be out celebrating.  In the other half disappointment will reign supreme. Know someone who’s very invested in the race? You can help take the edge off with some unique gifts from Gift Tree ideally suited salve the wounds of defeat or bolster the euphoria of victory. The great thing about champagne gifts is they can be both an amazing addition to a winning party or if the pangs of loss ring true, serve as a fantastic consolation prize! Cheers to You Champagne Basket – your choice of One Domaine Ste. Michelle or One Moet & Chandon along with a substantial assortment of gourmet foods and treats and a personalized hanging tag. Dom Perignon Champagne – the world’s premiere champagne is perfect for the worlds biggest party on November 6th that arrives in luxury and adorned in a signature gift box. As is par for the course for November, food and feasting is a traditional staple of election night in America and Election Day parties are common events throughout the country. Even if you don’t consider yourself aligned one way or the other Gift Tree can supply a range of attractive gifts sure to establish common ground between even the...

Daylight Savings Time

Blog by Kirian McClure Daylight Savings Time is a controversial concept to say the least.  Most folks recognize it as the twice a year act of remembering to move our clocks forward an hour on March 11th and back again on November 4th. But where did it come from and why do we have it at all? To find the origin we need to go back several hundred years, to when Benjamin Franklin was living in Paris as an ambassador to France, years after drafting and signing the declaration of independence. Franklin was fascinated by the problem of ill-spent resources and lost time, he knew that if people rose earlier and went to bed earlier that the energy costs of lighting and heat would be much easier to digest. However, the solution to such an issue eluded him until the outbreak of World War I some 150 years later. In an attempt to conserve coal usage by cutting down on hours of artificial lighting, Germany became the first country to implement mass-scale time changes. The United States was right  behind in 1918 when a handful of states chose to opt-in. A renewed need for resource rationing in World War II led to the U.S. government making it mandatory year-round until the war’s conclusion, when daylight savings time observance again became optional. Today only Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands choose not to participate in daylight savings time. Does changing your clocks actually make a difference? The answer is a definite yes. But whether that difference is a good or bad...

November: A Reason to Celebrate!

Blog by Linda Wallace We all know Thanksgiving is coming up, and it is certainly November’s most well-known holiday, but I found a whole lot of other (and sometimes downright bizarre) reasons to celebrate in November! Nov. 1st: All Saints’ Day (formerly All Hallows Day) Nov. 2nd: All Souls Day.. It is known in Mexico as el Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and the whole month of November is especially dedicated to praying for the dead. Nov. 6th: Election Day Nov. 10th: The birthday of the United States Marine Corps Nov. 11th: Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations and various European countries (including France and Belgium) to commemorate World War I and other wars. It is known as Veterans Day in the United States. Nov 14th: World Diabetes Day Nov 17: The Leonids meteor shower reaches its peak around this day! Nov 19th: International Men’s Day Nov. 20th: Transgender Day of Remembrance (which has occurred each year in the United States since 1999). Nov. 21st: National Adoption Day Nov. 22nd: Thanksgiving The Great American Smokeout sponsored by the American Cancer Society occurs on the third Thursday of November, one week before Thanksgiving. Smokers are encouraged to quit smoking for these 24 hours, in hopes that they will quit forever. This year it falls on November 15th. But there is no need to stop there! Here are some reasons to celebrate all month long! Native American Heritage Month Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month COPD Awareness month National Novel Writing Month Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Peanut Butter Lovers Month National Good Nutrition Month National Pepper Month National Sleep...

All Saints Day

Blog by Kirian McClure Halloween has come and gone. Despite the cries of candy-induced belly ache’s that may claim otherwise, the season rolls onward.  While Thanksgiving is still several weeks away there remains one important holiday worthy of consideration in between, that being All Saints Day. Originally referred to as “All Hallows Day,” the first of November has traditionally been marked by a day of great feasting in remembrance of all the great saints of history. Whether you identify as religious or not, these venerated individuals were men of good will and strong character who have lived and died throughout the ages, both remembered and forgotten.  While food and revelry is an intrinsic part of All Saints Day celebrations, fresh flowers are also often present in the festivities. Maybe there is someone in your life who you feel has the traits of a saint, or perhaps you’re simply interested in commemorating the holiday itself. Either way Gift Tree has you covered with a variety of floral arrangements sure to evoke a “saintly” ambiance: The Magnificent White Lilies bouquet makes an ideal candidate for this as the main flowers signify both purity and virtue and with a presentation that accentuates its full and lush look. If that seems a little old-fashioned to you, consider the Heavenly & Harmony arrangement, a full bouquet that truly shows your spirit while retaining a comfortable sense of humility. Another popular floral arrangement that may be a bit easier on your wallet is the Beautiful in Blue bouquet, which features fresh white roses and lilies with attractive blue accents designed to create a festive feel...

A Halloween Night Tale

Blog by Kirian McClure The children were restless and their breaths quick in the chilly night air as they approached the long winding driveway that snaked around and up the hill. The dark seemed to swallow it up after only a few feet and they looked back and forth, meeting each others eye’s with a nervous jitter.  A tunnel of scraggly trees buffeted all sides of the road, their spindly branches hanging above, seemingly grasping at whomever passed beneath.  They had worked for weeks to prepare for Hallows Eve, enlisting overworked parents in stitching together costumes of cowboys, ninjas, video game heroes and even one of agent 007 himself.  The anxious anticipation of the nights events had made them restless and none had gotten any sleep the night before. For days prior each child had begged their parents to let them go alone until their folks, exhausted by the constant petitioning, finally relented. At long last, here it was. No one moved to step onto the narrow road that stretched before them, they all stood frozen and staring into the darkness. The children had purposely gone later so as to avoid all the troublesome packs of younger children and this strategy had apparently paid off, as all they could hear was the light scraping sound of wind blown branches. The haunting caw of a single crow, perched somewhere in that forest of shadows, cut through the silence and briefly startled one of the older kids.  This path was notorious among the kids, it had a long history of strange tales that no one could ever seem to confirm or...

Princess Addie

Blog by Grace McKnight Halloween has never really been that big of a deal for me, I don’t really like to dress up, besides I cannot stomach paying $60.00 for a costume that looks like I made it myself. I hate handing candy out, either I don’t buy enough or I buy WAY too much and then im sitting at home watching “scary” movies, shoveling Snickers and Twix in my mouth! I don’t like Halloween parties, they are always really lame or really rowdy. In general, it’s safe to say that I’m just not all that impressed with the whole scene. I DO like to decorate my tiny little apartment however, with spider webs in the corners of the ceiling, they are so authentic you would almost think they were real….and  I LOVE carving pumpkins. I usually carve pumpkins at least 3 or 4 times during the month and it’s such a blast that I do not mind when they rot so quick. My baby sister and I sit out in the front yard for a couple hours, I cut she cleans, we usually have a pumpkin guts fight, and then we roast the seeds for a snack while we watch a movie. This year we made a vampire family and a pumpkin that had a few too many Bloody Mary’s. 😀 This year my precious little sister, Addie who is 14 and has Down syndrome wanted to be Cinderella. Well… it’s really difficult to find those kinds of costumes for the short and round, so since my Grandmother used to make wedding dresses for a living, I asked...

Halloween Memories

Blog by Stacey Keller Growing up, there was one family tradition which meant the world to me: Our annual trip to the Sauvie’s Island Pumpkin Patch. The annual Pumpkin Patch trip was not just a blip on the annual radar, but instead the grand highlight of the autumn. All year long I would look forward to it. A trip to the Pumpkin Patch came with the promise of fun. Every year I would burst out of the car, ready to experience everything Sauvie’s Island had to offer. The first stop was to visit the corn maze, where I could happily spend an hour lost and never feel I had wasted a second. The very thought of it brings back the sweet smell of the cornfields and the triumphant feeling of emerging out the maze victorious. After the maze it was time to cut a bucket of sunflowers and mums to bring home, and to peruse the market for fresh berries. The highlight, of course, was tromping through the muddy fields on a mission to find the perfect pumpkin. It was a short walk to reach the pumpkin fields, and I will never forget stepping around that last bend and seeing a sea of orange stretching out to meet me. Only once I got a little closer did the orange sea begin to part, and I could see a million individual orange spheres of all shapes and sizes just waiting to be discovered. It was not possible to simply choose the first pumpkin you stumbled across. It was absolutely necessary to wade into the depths of the field and see...

Ghost Story

Blog by Robin Crocker On a dark and stormy Friday night in rural New England, right around the end of October, the two teenaged brothers John and Bryan King were out driving around looking for an entertaining start to their weekend. As they drove through the rain, their path stretched into the countryside, and suddenly, after not seeing anyone for miles, down the road there appeared a girl, about their age, completely drenched with rain. They stopped the car and asked if she needed a ride – she readily accepted. The boys thought it strange to come upon a thing like this, but they wanted to help. And maybe this was the adventure they were looking for. She climbed in the back of the car and told the boys about a fight she had had with her boyfriend a couple of hours before. At the end of it he had kicked her out of the car and sped away, leaving her in the mud, the cold and the rain. At this point, one of the boys offered her his new black pea-coat.”Thank you,” she said. “You’re very kind.” The three talked on for a while. She introduced herself as Evangeline and said she lived just over the other hill. She showed them they way to her place, and they eventually came to an old country house, all lit up like a jack-o-lantern in the night. She seemed excited to finally be home. The three stepped out of the car and onto the long walk up to the front door. John rang the door bell, and a friendly old woman...

The History of the Jack-o-Lantern

Blog by Robin Crocker It’s Halloween time and we all participate in some pretty kooky traditions. Ever wondered where the tradition of Jack-o-Lanterns started? Where did we ever get the silly idea to put candles in a pumpkin?? Well, it turns out that back in the 1800s, in the land of our forefathers (England, Ireland, Scotland) there was (and still is) the festival of Samhain. Traditionally, the time of 31 October and 1 November is the time when faeries and spirits are believed to be the most active – and lanterns are used to light one’s way on the dark night of Samhain, to memorialize the spirits, or to protect oneself. But what about the pumpkin carving? Carving faces into pumpkin is actually a totally American concept, adapted from the old world where they would use whatever the had they most of…… usually turnips! That’s right, turnips. To keep the spirits happy, they would carve faces of faeries and spirits into the turnip, place a candle inside, and place the turnip-o-lantern in their windows or stoops, just like we do today. Immigrants from Ireland and England brought the tradition over to North America where they found pumpkins that were larger and easier to carve. And that’s how the jack-o-lantern came to be! The truth is stranger than fiction. Happy...

Halloween

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. Carving pumpkins, dressing up, watching scary movies, I love it all! Once October 1st rolls around, I am dragging out the Halloween decorations and tuning into my favorite Halloween station on Pandora. Around mid-October, my house is covered in hanging bats, grinning pumpkins, and hairy spiders. This year I am really into incorporating fall colors and accents in with my traditional Halloween décor. I have dried autumn leaves sprinkled around my tabletops, small pumpkins on top of my bookcases, and fresh fall flowers in Halloween-themed vases on my end tables. If you are like me and love the mix of fall elegance with fun Halloween spookiness, then you will love the seasonal bouquet options at GiftTree. From pumpkin options like the Perfectly Pumpkin Bouquet and Country Pumpkin Bouquet, to the adorably sweet Candy Corn Delight Bouquet, GiftTree has something for everyone’s taste. My personal favorite is the Ghostly Gardens Bouquet, which combines a cute little ghost and headstone with oak leaves, roses, birch branches, and more.  So many fun ways to celebrate the haunting...

Memoires et Millesimes: French Wine and Me

As an adept Francophile and amateur oenophile, I could give an entire lecture on the exceptional quality of French wine, the folk philosophy of terroir that has produced grape varietals and blends perfectly suited to the microclimate of each region or strict laws of the Appellation d’Origine Controlée (Name of Controlled Origin) that oversee the integrity of each regional blend, but in the end, the exciting eccentricities of these delightful grapes can only be described by throwing up one’s hands and proclaiming “It’s French!” So how do I convey my love for French wine without resorting to tautology? I tell a lot of stories. However, since wine is much better experienced than discussed I prefer to give gifts. Here are a few of my suggestions for gifts that will truly embody l’esprit française to your lucky recipient and will help them create their own stories to tell. On a rare sunny day in March I took a train from Paris through the countryside made famous by the likes of Monet and Van Gogh to meet up with some friends for a “a French hike.” I was expecting a ten-mile wilderness excursion like the ones I am used to at home, but I quickly realized that a French hike consisted of a half-mile stroll along the river followed by a three hour picnic complete with lively conversation and seemingly bottomless glasses of Beaujolais-Brouilly. You can set the tone for a similarly jovial dinner party with our Classic French Duo, which includes a bottle of that Beaujolais and a bottle of Chardonnay sure to please any palate. And even when it’s...

12 Weeks of Giving

For the next twelve weeks, we want to give you holiday cheer!  Each week leading up to Christmas will be new and exciting as we give away different prizes for each ‘themed’ week. Make sure to “like” our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and Google+! Post, comment, share and like,  and each week, we will make your holidays MERRY & BRIGHT! To kick things off with the 12 weeks of giving, and in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month GiftTree invites you to share how Breast Cancer has made an impact on your life. Share stories (on our blog, or on our facebook wall), pictures, and words of encouragement! Make sure you follow the link below for the chance to receive beautiful PINK prizes ALL WEEK LONG! GiftTree’s 12 Weeks of...

Happy Birthday!

Birthdays, everyone has one. Some look forward to them, others try to avoid them at all cost. Me? I like to say that I am somewhere in the middle, but in reality I love a good party and while I truly love everyone giving me presents (What? At least I am honest about it!), the whole getting older thing seems to be getting scarier and scarier every year. I know I have nothing to really worry about, it is a natural part of life and I know where Ill be when its all said and done. So many great things come with getting older, wisdom, life experiences, great memories. I guess getting older isn’t all that bad. So what if my hair turns gray and I get crows feet. Who cares if it takes me a little longer to get from point A to point B. So far life has been great, and that is worth celebrating! Check out our Birthday Gift Collection, after all, who is going to turn down a...

My Favorite Wine & Food Pairings

I know that some people can be intimidated by wine. There are so many choices, so many things to remember, and so many varietals to pick from that it can be hard to know where to start. I talked about common wine terms and my own personal wine journey. Now I’d like to dig a little deeper and talk about wine pairing. Wine pairing with food can be a great way for you to see how different one glass of wine can be when tasting on it’s own, and then tasting with food. Below are some of my personal favorite combinations of food & wine pairing. Remember, not every meal needs to match perfectly with a wine. Drink what tastes good to YOU, and have fun experimenting with different combinations! Spicy Food:  Gewürztraminer or Riesling. Both are sweeter whites that work well with spicy foods. The sweetness of the wine cuts the heat of the spice. Seafood:  Chardonnay. In my opinion, lobster with drawn butter and a glass of chardonnay is the absolute perfect combination! I also drink it with crab, white fish and salmon. Steak:  Cabernet or Malbec. The tannins in these two bolder reds cut the richness of the meat. Yum, yum! Pizza:  Pinot Noir. Now this might not work for everyone. However, I prefer my pizza with red sauce, pepperoni and mushrooms. The pinot complements everything perfectly, especially earthy type foods such as mushrooms. Dessert:  Moscato d’Asti. It’s nice and light, low alcohol and won’t overwhelm your taste buds. It complements most desserts, but allows the dessert be the star of the show. For other great...

GiftTree’s White Water Rafting Trip 2012

GiftTree has done it again!!  Since the 2011 epic rafting trip was such a wild success, GiftTree decided to treat us to another great summer event!  It shall henceforth be dubbed “The Epic Rafting Trip of 2012 (Where no one died, but a few made valiant attempts),” otherwise known as “TERTO2012WNODBAFMVA”  Just rolls off the tongue… This year I knew what to expect–it was no big deal.  I was a pro.  Class IV and V?!  Child’s play!  I could do this with my eyes closed. I spent the week leading up to the trip encouraging everyone else to go–telling them it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys with a flask of whiskey.  “NO ONE ended up in the water last year,” I told them.  (Okay, so maybe there was one or two people…)  “We had a KID with us last year!  Come on–you can do it,” I boasted.  I mean, come on–if I survived then anyone can do it.  (Insert ominous music here.) This year GiftTree decided to one-up their efforts from last year and rented a party bus to drive us to and from.  We all arrived at the office around 7:10 AM, clutching our coffees, energy drinks, or other choice beverages, some of us still wiping the sleep from our eyes.  We were promptly herded onto the bus and not wasting any time “TERTO2012WNODBAFMVA” began!  The ride up is a bit of a blur for me, and I’m fairly certain I was in and out of comatose for most of the 2 hour drive.  I gathered this based on the pool of drool staining my...
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