Hello September!

Hello SeptemberHello September! So many of my favorite things rolled up into one day. My absolute favorite my daughter was born 13 years ago on this day!  New Month starting on a Monday plus being a Holiday it does not get any better than this?  Lots of fresh new starts to think about today.  Nothing like turning over the page on a calendar & starting off on the right foot with a brand new whole week ahead.  Make it a great Month!


Trans- Siberian Orchestra…I had no idea of their support for the Military.

TSO ConcertTrans- Siberian Orchestra…I had no idea of their support for the Military.

Last night I had the privilege of going to my very first Trans-Siberian Concert. I was so excited you would have thought I was going to the candy store on our drive to the Concert. I have wanted to always go for the past 10 years, my husband could not contain my excitement for this 30 min drive. This year was possible, my girls were finally at the age were they would appreciate it and enjoy!

Right before the show started Al Pitrelli came out on stage with a group of Marines from the St. Louis area. He introduced the Marines to the Audience and told us that with every concert Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) does they donate one dollar to a local charity. They choose to donate to the Marines Toys for Tots programs. They donated over $8000.00 last night. Being a Military Spouse I was impressed TSO would do this. I later learned at every concert they do in the United States they donate to a Military related organization, for example also the USO. So let’s do the Math, they do approximately 70 Concerts here in the United States in November and December and donate one dollar of every ticket sale. This brought such joy to me that an organization supports the military as TSO does.

Just as I thought the concert was about to end, Al came up to the Microphone the words that came out amazed me. Trans-Siberian Orchestra wanted to salute the Military and thank them for their service and sacrifices. Because of every member, present and past thousands of Men and Women have stood up to give us the freedom to perform as we do. At this point I am starting to tear up, that they would recognize all the members of the Military who will not be home with their families this Christmas. I now know why I have loved Trans-Siberian Orchestra for so many years, not just their amazing talent but the goodwill they have towards others.

One of my favorite songs: Christmas Canyon

If you get the chance to attend one of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Concerts I highly recommend it!

The Exchange Awarding Prizes up to $17,000 For Best Homecoming Picture!

AAFESThe Exchange is proud to serve those who serve.  To show their appreciation to all returning troops, The Exchange and vendor partners are saying ” Thanks for your service and your family’s sacrifice.” With monthly prize giveaways, weekly savings and specials. Check out the Homeward Bound events throughout 2014

From Nov. 1-Dec. 31, authorized shoppers can enter the “Homeward Bound” contest by submitting a picture or video of a military welcome home experience, along with a 50-word or less description, for a shot at the $10,000 Exchange gift card grand prize. You never know your  picture may be worth a thousand words,  but in the The Exchange Service’s latest contest a picture and 50 words could be worth $10,000 For the grand prize.  In addition to the grand prize, the second-place winner will receive a $5,000 gift card and third place will take home a $2,000 gift card.

Time to brush up on our Christopher Columbus accomplishments!

1382824_635792539801924_1248041068_nTime to brush up on our Christopher Columbus accomplishments!  It takes true grit to sail off into the unknown. Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus’ voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Host a killer Halloween party with these simple Halloween decorating ideas

Pumpkin by Williamsburg Military Insider

A previous post that was popular. Enjoy!

Host a killer Halloween party with these simple Halloween decorating ideas  from Palm Beach-based interior design firm, Leslie Schlesinger Interiors.

Get your guests spooked out before they ever even enter your home. Start by decorating the trees in front of your home with ravens perched on bare tree branches. Don’t mess with the leaves that have fallen in your yard, they will add to the ambiance. Place pumpkins and gourds of varying sizes and colors beneath the trees and in your front porch or entrance. Spray paint life-sized silhouettes of people onto light-colored curtains (outline/trace the person onto the curtain first with a permanent marker) and hang the curtains on some of the windows that face the sides of your home that guests will see as they approach your home. As night falls, light a few candles in those rooms and it’ll look like you have ghosts peering out your windows, anticipating your guests’ arrival.

If you happen to have, or can find, an old dressmaker’s dummy or mannequin, drape it with tattered cheesecloth or sheets and place it in the entry way to give your guests a frightening greeting as they enter your home. Turn your living room into a haunted one by covering all of your upholstered furniture with plain white sheets à la an abandoned house.

Dim the lights in your home and instead use lots of candlelight, which will create sinister, dark shadows in your home’s corners. Create spine-chilling spider webs by tearing ragged cheesecloth or old white stockings. Hang vintage, yellowed thrift-store curtains on your windows. Pin inexpensive lace to a wall as a backdrop or use lace as an antiquated table cover. Cut true-to-size mice or rats from black construction and tape them to steps, baseboards or other spots where they will startle your guests.

Decorate your entry tables, side tables, bookshelves and fireplace mantle with some of the following items certain to unnerve your party goers:

  • Photocopy 19th-century portraits of somber-faced individuals from history books, mount them on gray mats and set them in antique-looking frames.
  • Use a flea-market candelabra or spray paint wedding cake columns black or grey and use them as tall candle holders for spooky tapered candles.
  • Spray paint plastic party store skulls black for a super-eerie look or cover with a green, purple, orange or red glitter spray paint (whichever color matches your décor best) for a more playful theme.
  • Fill old jars (save your used jelly, fruit or pickle jars; or use mason jars, apothecary jars or “potion” bottles) with food-colored water and twigs, fake bugs, worms, eyeballs, shrunken heads, or whatever fits your theme best.
  • Decorate with twigs, leave them as-is or spray paint them black for a more ominous look, placing them in vases or leaning them against the walls.
  • Turn an old birdcage into a spooky centerpiece by surrounding it with fake ravens and filling it with candles.

Create a vampire-inspired tablescape with a black velvet tablecloth, jars filled with red marbles, red and black dishes, blood red cloth napkins, drip candles on tall, antique black candleholders and mirrors placed underneath the candleholders and jars to reflect the eerie candlelight.

For more design ideas or information about Leslie Schlesinger Interiors, please visit

New Homeowner on your list…Linens or Furniture make a Great Holiday Gift.

3889509_sBuying a home can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a person’s life. It also can be one of the most stressful.

New homeowners are faced with many expenses after buying a home, and the holiday season is a great time to help them out with a thoughtful gift for the place they now call home. The following are some great gift ideas for the new homeowner on your holiday shopping list.

How-to books: Owning a home presents many opportunities for repairs and renovations. Oftentimes, this is a homeowner’s initial foray into do-it-yourself projects, so consider giving a library of instructional books that walk homeowners through some basics, like plumbing, electrical work or basic construction.

• Personalized key chains: A new home means a new set of keys to the front door. Have key chains monogrammed and gift with a bottle of champagne to toast the new residence.

• Welcome mat: Welcome mats can be customized with the owner’s last name, and some customizing services also can print an image on a door mat or a quirky saying.

• Door knocker: Although door bells have replaced door knockers for practical use, a nice metal door knocker still makes a decorative statement on the front door. Have the door knocker engraved with the family name.

• Gift certificate: A new home means new projects large and small. Homeowners will be making frequent trips to the home improvement center, and such trips can get costly. A gift card will help lessen that financial burden.

• Portrait: Give the gift of memories by setting up a photo session with a photographer that enables the new homeowners to have a print made that can be hung up and enjoyed.

• Tool gift basket: Homeowners can always use nails, screws, hammers, picture-hanging kits, painter’s tape, and the other odds and ends that go into making repairs.

• Furniture: Ask the homeowner what room needs furnishing and offer to purchase one or more pieces for the space.

• Linens: Guests might be stopping by to see the new house, so a gift of sheets for the guest room or hand towels will ensure the place is stocked for anyone who drops by.

• Dining out certificates: People who have just moved into a home may be so busy with projects that they don’t have time to make sit-down meals. Therefore, a gift card to a favorite restaurant can provide a welcome respite from takeout.

• Security system: Homeowners who want to protect their new asset may appreciate a home security system.

• Money: Buying a home is an expensive endeavor, and new homeowners may be feeling the pinch of an overextended budget. Sometimes cash makes the most thoughtful gift.

New homeowners are faced with many situations that can be both exciting and stressful as they move into new homes. Many gifts can make the process of settling in that much easier.

Happy Holidays to the New Homeowners!


Did You Know….Merry Christmas Traditons Are Older Than Some Celebrants Might Think

ChristmasMerry Christmas traditions are older than some celebrants might think.  The tradition of lighting up a Christmas tree, for example, dates back to the days before Christmas lights. Before electric-powered twinkle lights were invented and even before electricity was discovered, people used actual candles to adorn the Christmas tree.  As one can imagine, having an open flame next to a dried out tree was risky, so it was customary to keep a bucket of water next to the tree in the case of fire.  As if fire wasn’t enough, the tinsel used to decorate trees was made from strips of sliver and even lead- something that is now known to be a health hazard to adults and children alike.  Although we’ve come a long way since candles and lead, even now trees that are overly dry and decorated with lights that with lights that have frayed wires can just as easily lead to fires.  Plus, plastic tinsel can be a choking hazard for children and pets.  One Christmas staple that has lost its status as a safety hazard is the poinsettia plant.  It has long been thought that poinsettias are poisonous to people and animals. While there is some toxicity to the plant, it would require the ingestion of hundreds of leaves to get a  toxic dose of a plants poison.

Making Your Home Ready for Entertaining Anytime…Is Easier Than You Think


One of the many exciting and sometimes stressful parts of the holiday season is entertaining at home with friends and family. To prepare for their arrival you may be tempted to just clean the kitchen counters, toss a few extra towels in the guest bathroom and ignore the rest of the house. Instead, your visitors will enjoy the party more if they have full access to an open, organized and welcoming home.

Knowing where to start is the most important thing. Lifestyle guru Susie Coelho has provided entertaining tips for the home on HGTV, “Oprah,” “Today” and “The View” and knows just what to do.

Tip No. 1: Food can make or break a celebration. Start your preparations by stocking the bar and cleaning the kitchen. Set the table or buffet before people arrive. There is a good chance some of the seating for your gathering will be located in the kitchen area. Make certain the kitchen is clean and the sink area is cleared of all food prep materials. If your garbage disposal has an odor, your guests will be sure to notice. Before the party starts, drop in a Power Pack of Liquid-Plumr Disposal + Drain Foaming Cleaner and run the disposal. The fresh citrus scent indicates your disposal is cleaned and deodorized, eliminating the chance of an embarrassing lingering smell being sensed by your guests.

“If you decide to host a holiday event or New Year’s Eve party, ask your guests to participate by bringing an appetizer on a decorative platter. This will add different flavors to your event and help encourage conversations about the combination of foods prepared,” Coelho says. Also, encourage them to match the theme of the gathering, like chips and salsa for a Mexican-themed party or olives, hummus and pita bread for a Greek-themed party.

Tip No. 2: Once the space is clean and the food is ready, add simple decor to make the space warm and inviting. When decorating the seating and buffet areas, Coelho suggests going simple with tea lights in glass votive jars and choosing a one or two-tone color palette for dishes, napkins and flowers. “For beautiful ambiance and magical lighting, arrange candles down the center of the table,” she says. “If you want to add some greenery among them for the holidays, you can, but keep it simple.”

In addition to the candles as centerpieces, Coelho also recommends making the food part of the display as well. “Contrast is a buffet’s best friend and you can find it in different heights, sizes, colors of the food, dishes and accessories. I have used everything from fabrics, herbs and pottery to flowers, candles and vases, turned over a dish to get height and used an odd container for display,” she says.

Tip No. 3: The more room you have to mingle, the merrier everyone will be. As people start making themselves comfortable, they won’t just stay in the kitchen. Having all areas of the house clean and open will invite guests to gather and socialize, keeping the party going longer.

One room your guests will be sure to visit is the bathroom. Make certain you have the room stocked with plenty of paper products as well as soap and hand lotion. Consider also placing a decorative candle in the room to add a festive glow for ambiance.

Most importantly, be prepared for clogged drains in the bathroom and kitchen sinks, which could disrupt the flow of the party. “A clogged sink drain always comes at the wrong time,” says Coelho. “To avoid these inconvenient situations, I recommend keeping two products handy at all times: Liquid-Plumr Double Impact Snake + Gel System and Liquid-Plumr Urgent Clear. These products work great for both the bathroom and kitchen sinks to keep them running smoothly.”

Now that you had prepared your home for guests ahead of time, you can enjoy the fun and party the night away.

Happy 4th of July…Some Fun Facts!

Please take a moment to say a prayer for our troops worldwide  – standing watch and protecting everything this day stands for!

Patriotic-Sounding Place Names

Thirty-one places have “liberty” in their names. The most populous one as of April 1, 2010, is Liberty, Mo. (29,149) Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

Thirty-five places have “eagle” in their names. The most populous one is Eagle Pass, Texas (26,248).

Eleven places have “independence” in their names. The most populous one is Independence, Mo. (116,830).

Nine places have “freedom” in their names. The most populous one is New Freedom, Pa. (4,464).

One place with “patriot” in the name. Patriot, Ind. (209).

Five places have “America” in their names. The most populous is American Fork, Utah (26,263).

Fourth of July Cookouts

More than 1 in 4

The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.0 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2011. This estimate represents more than one-fourth of the nation’s estimated total. North Carolina (8.6 million) and Minnesota (7.6 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

6.8 billion pounds

Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2010. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.1 billion pounds).
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service


Number of states in which the value of broiler chicken production was $1 billion or greater between December 2009 and November 2010. There is a good chance that one of these states — Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas — is the source of your barbecued chicken.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Over 1 in 3

The odds that your side dish of baked beans originated from North Dakota, which produced 36 percent of the nation’s dry, edible beans in 2010. Another popular Fourth of July side dish is corn on the cob. Florida, California, Georgia, Washington and New York together accounted for 68 percent of the fresh market sweet corn produced nationally in 2010.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
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Please Pass the Potato

Potato salad and potato chips are popular food items at Fourth of July barbecues. Approximately half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2010.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

More than three-fourths

Amount of the nation’s head lettuce production in 2010 that came from California. This lettuce may end up in your salad or on your burger.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

7 in 10

The chances that the fresh tomatoes in your salad came from Florida or California, which combined accounted for 71 percent of U.S. fresh market tomato production last year.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service


The state that led the nation in watermelon production last year (750 million pounds). Other leading producers of this popular fruit included California, Georgia and Texas, each had an estimate of more than 600 million pounds.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

81 million

Number of Americans who said they have taken part in a barbecue during the previous year. It’s probably safe to assume a lot of these events took place on Independence Day.
Source: Mediamark Research & Intelligence, as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011
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