25 e-Card Sites to Use Personally and Professionally

25 e-Card Sites to Use Personally and Professionally lists twenty-five e-card sites offering paid and/or free e-cards that you can use for special occasions or just to say thanks.

Sunday is Mother’s Day in North America and many of us are selecting gifts and cards appropriate for the occasion.

I like to send e-cards and not just for Mother’s Day. I have a subscription to an e-card site that produces some lovely cards for many different occasions and some for no occasion at all that can be sent just because. I use e-cards not only for family and friends but also, sometimes, for clients to commemorate a special occasion in their lives such as an accomplishment like a book launch, or a birthday. You could also use e-cards to thank people who reviewed your book, guest posted on your blog, or allowed you to guest post on their blog as part of a book launch.

So today I thought I’d share with you a list of e-card sites that you, too, can use. Some of these sites are free and others charge a subscription fee. A few of the sites listed below offer both free and paid e-cards.

e-Card Sites

  1. Jacquie Lawson
  2. Blue Mountain
  3. Hallmark e-Cards
  4. card karma
  5. DaySpring
  6. Jib Jab
  7. Nature Canada
  8. American Greetings
  9. 123 Greetings
  10. Someecards
  11. Rattlebox
  12. Smilebox
  13. MoMA
  14. Ojolie
  15. Celebrations
  16. Care2
  17. Punchbowl
  18. Just Wink
  19. Doozy Cards
  20. Regards.com
  21. E-Cards
  22. WWF Free e-Cards
  23. The Nature Conservancy
  24. Fleeting Greetings
  25. SOS Children’s Villages

Do you have a favourite site that should be added to the list? If so, let me know in the comments.

Photo credit: Pixabay

New Beginnings

It’s hard to believe that it’s already the end of January, a whole month in the new year gone already.

New Year’s resolutions? Say what? For many of us, those came to an end weeks ago, and that resolve was replaced with guilt and a sense of having failed, a feeling that we’re incapable of achieving goals because we’re losers with no discipline.

That’s why I hate resolutions. There’s so much pressure put on us to be the new and improved version of ourselves just because the date changes on the calendar signifying the beginning of a new year.

So, if you’re beating yourself up that you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution and you think that you’ve lost momentum, here’s some quotes to inspire you, to spur you on to go forward, to try again, to reach for your goals and achieve your dreams.

Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect. -Alan Cohen

The secret to living the life of your dreams is to start living the life of your dreams today, in every little way you possibly can. -Mike Dooley

Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. -Henry Ford

Begin somewhere; you cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do. -Liz Smith

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember. -Anne Sullivan

The beginning is always today. —Mary Wollstonecraft

The best is yet to be. —Robert Browning

So, feel better now?

Photo credit: Freedigitalphotos.net

Victorian Architecture: Online Searches for Books and Images

Victorian Architecture: Online Searches for Books and Images suggests online sources of books and images on Victorian architecture and provides some examples.

I LOVE old Victorian houses and it’s always been a dream of mine to someday own one.

There’s just something about the quality, the uniqueness, all the wood trim, the winding staircases, the fireplaces, and dusty attics filled with treasures of generations passed, with maybe a secret passage or ghost thrown in for good measure. When I visit museums housed in old houses like this, I just wish the walls could talk and spill their secrets of the joys and sorrows, daily routines and scandals, of their former occupants.

Brantford has many amazing examples of Victorian architecture so, in theory, I wouldn’t have to move far to satisfy my dream, if only I could win a lottery, or finish my book and sell a few million copies?

Check out these houses:

If you’re interested in this sort of thing and/or researching details about old houses for a writing project, like I am, you can get some great information online from sites such as:

And, don’t forget about Google Books and Google News.

Do you have a favourite old house where you live? If so, tell me about it in the comments.

Photo credit: Montgomery County Planning Commission on Flickr

Do Writers Play an Imitation Game with the Truth?

Do writers sometimes embellish or omit facts to make true stories more interesting and if they do, is this acceptable?

Bletchley Park was among the many sights we visited when we lived in England. We spent the better part of a day there and I must confess, although I love history and did the Jack the Ripper walking tour in London twice, not being familiar with the story of Alan Turing and how he helped to decipher the messages sent by the Germans during WWII, I found the excursion rather boring.

We saw the Enigma machine which had been captured from the Germans in WWII and wandered in and out of a couple of the little huts that had been used during the war by people intercepting and attempting to decode the enemy’s messages. There were dozens of these huts as I recall and most of them were in very poor condition evidentially abandoned when the war ended. The edifice of the main building (see the post image) struck me as being a bit of an architectural curiosity and that is about all that stands out in my mind about that day. Well, that and the kids and I sitting in the car bored while my husband eagerly explored the grounds a bit further.

Since then I’ve learned more about the significance of this place and the people who worked there and do regret that I didn’t make more of an effort to savour the moment. But it really wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when we went to the cinema to see The Imitation Game that I learned the whole story, or well, perhaps the whole story of Hollywood’s version.

In The Imitation Game, conflict was created between characters where, apparently, it didn’t actually exist. I won’t go into great detail and spoil things if you haven’t seen the movie and would like to but basically, according to the articles that I will link to at the bottom of this post, the screenplay embellished some facts and left out some others presumably for the sake of entertainment.

This raises many questions in my mind:

  • Do writers have a responsibility to accurately depict historical events?
  • Is it acceptable to embellish and omit when it makes a true story more entertaining?
  • Is it more important to maintain the interest of an audience than to accurately portray every last details in a story?
  • Is it acceptable to embellish and omit minor points in a true story if that helps to keep your audience interested so that they can appreciate the main story, or in this case, the history lesson?

Much like the movie Titanic we know how it ends more or less, but the movie is very well done and I would encourage you to see it if you get the chance.

For More Information

How Accurate Is The Imitation Game?
An Alan Turing expert watches the “The Imitation Game” trailer
The Imitation Game: inventing a new slander to insult Alan Turing
COMPUTING MACHINERY AND INTELLIGENCE By A. M. Turing
Images of Bletchley Park, Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Good in the World

The Good in the World offers a look at some inspiring youtube videos.

It’s been another week of dreadful headlines and acts of violence around the world.

I’m tired of it.

There is so much in life that is good and kind and needs to be celebrated and so today I just thought I would share that. My blog isn’t very popular so I’m not going to overtake the depressing headlines but if you’re reading this, maybe I can just make you feel better, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

And, wouldn’t it be amazing if one of these videos encouraged someone to do something to make this world an even better place!

Photo credit: Pixabay

Happy Holidays!

Whatever your beliefs or customs may be, I’d just like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours all the best that this holiday season has to offer even if “the best” means that you get to sleep in and relax because you don’t do this thing we call Christmas.

And, may 2015 bring you all good things.

I’m taking a break with my family over the holidays but will be back at my desk in the New Year.

Take care.

Shelley

Photo credit: Pixabay

It’s a Wonderful Life – Really!

It’s a Wonderful Life – Really! talks about the holiday movie classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and why people still watch it.

Like one of the telephone call scenes from Brothers and Sisters, emails have been flying back and forth among family members this morning about who wants to attend our local cinema’s showing tomorrow of the black and white holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

We’ve all seen the movie before on the small screen – in black and white and in colour, too, but this is a family holiday staple, a part of our must-do holiday traditions, something we watch annually just as we annually exchange presents.

As I understand it, initially the movie flopped at the box office. I was first introduced to it when I started dating my husband and PBS aired it before the holidays as part of their fundraising appeal. I can still remember one of the women who pushed for donations. I think her name was Goldie and I suspect they had her lead the charge because her voice was so annoying, it made you want to throw money at her just to get her to stop talking! But even Goldie couldn’t dissuade viewers from watching It’s a Wonderful Life and I think PBS knew it!

I think the movie has endeared itself to so many because it explores so many themes that most of us can identify with:

  • Having unrealized hopes and dreams
  • Working hard and not managing to get ahead
  • Being tempted to compromise our beliefs for an easier path in life
  • Having to do the right thing even when it’s difficult
  • Looking out for those less fortunate than ourselves
  • Making sacrifices because it’s the right thing to do
  • Remembering to treasure our blessings

I’ve got a to-do list a mile long for things I need to get done this weekend. I was sick this week with a nasty flu virus that’s making the rounds and it’s put me behind on my holiday preparations as I’ve struggled to stay on top of my work commitments, with minimum energy, so that I could have a break from my desk over the holidays, but I’m really hoping to go to see this movie on the big screen tomorrow.

No matter how many times I watch this movie, and it must be 30+ times by now, I still get a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye when the bell rings (7:38 minutes into the video clip below) at the end. But, shhh! Don’t tell anyone!

Interested in Learning More?

It’s a Wonderful Life on Wikipedia
It’s a Wonderful Life on IMDB
It’s a Wonderful Life on Wikiquotes
It’s a Wonderful Life on Time Life
It’s a Wonderful Life on Turner Classic Movies

Photo credit: By National Telefilm Associates (Screenshot of the movie) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

15 Favourite Christmas Movies

15 Favourite Christmas Movies lists holiday movies old and new.

Like every family who celebrates Christmas, we have our traditions, and one of those traditions is to watch Christmas movies so today I thought I’d share my list with you of the movies we try to watch every December.

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life – We own the original black and white version of this and the colourized version. If you haven’t seen it in colour, check it out. We were amazed by the details that came to life when they appeared in colour. Wait, is that a bell I hear ringing?
  2. White Christmas – The story behind the song? Well, not really, but it’s got George Clooney’s aunt in it, too!
  3. The Homecoming – The world’s introduction to the Waltons. Goodnight John Boy!
  4. Scrooged – Based on A Christmas Carol. Watch out for the flying toaster!
  5. Christmas Vacation – Stars Johnny Galecki before he became Leonard Hofstadter. This movie makes my family look normal – and that’s not easy!
  6. Love Actually – This movie first came to the cinema when we still lived in England. It’s sappy, sentimental, silly, sad and much more. Had to laugh when I watched this “Honest Trailer” for it.
  7. The Family Stone – A good story about a family gathering at Christmas. It’ll make you laugh a lot – and cry. Keep some tissues nearby.
  8. Prancer – If you’re a Sam Elliott fan, you can’t miss this one. A cute family story.
  9. It Happened on Fifth Avenue – An old black and white classic as my husband would say. A slightly different Christmas story that’s sentimental and funny at the same time albeit perhaps a bit far fetched. I guess some of the issues it addresses, i.e. homelessness and unemployed veterans, are current concerns.
  10. Joyeux Noel – A great movie and particularly fitting to watch this year as the world marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.
  11. Black Christmas – I remember watching this one when I used to babysit as a teenager. C-R-E-E-P-Y! A very young Lois Lane plays a part in this movie. See if you can recognize her.
  12. A Christmas Story – My husband doesn’t like this movie very much but I can’t stop laughing when I watch it. If you grew up in the 50’s or 60’s and you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve got to watch it at least once!
  13. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas– One of our dogs looks a lot like Max in this original Grinch classic from my childhood. I’ve always wanted to tie a branch to her forehead just to see what she’d look like! “Pixie… oh, Pixie…”
  14. The Polar Express – A cute movie and a favourite of my choo-choo obsessed two year old grandson!
  15. The Christmas Shoes – Sappy and sentimental this one really tugs at the heartstrings.

Did I miss any of your favourites? Let me know in the comments.

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing Gratitude examines what the author is grateful for and suggest further reading on the benefits of being grateful.

“Whenever we are appreciative, we are filled with a sense of well-being and swept up by the feeling of joy.” ~M.J. Ryan

Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday in October. This is perhaps a little known fact beyond our borders, but in recognition of the American Thanksgiving this week, and well, just because it’s always a good thing to count your blessings, I thought I would write about gratitude today.

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~John F. Kennedy

I’m grateful for the good people in my life, and yes, there are many whose paths I regularly cross, who are related by blood, are connected by shared interests or goals, or are in my life just because, who make me smile and laugh, support and look out for me, and validate my contribution and existence on this earth.

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~Cynthia Ozick

I’m grateful for my good health, and the good health of those I hold dear.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

I’m also grateful for the four legged members of my family. They keep me company when I’m here alone through the day working, they make me laugh, they are loyal, they force me to get off my butt and away from my computer far more than I would otherwise, and they comfort me in ways only they are capable of (sloppy kisses, wet snouts in my ear, leaning into me or sitting on my feet, a warm purring bundle on my lap…) when they know I’m having a bad day.

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” ~Ralph H. Blum

I have many blessings that I am grateful for. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” ~Helen Keller

The Benefits of Gratitude

“Gratitude is the best attitude.” ~Author Unknown

There’s more to gratitude than you might think. Being grateful helps to keep us happy and healthy. Check out these articles if you want to learn more.

A Practical Guide to Gratitude

What is Gratitude?

The Geography of Gratitude

20 Mind-Blowing Facts About Gratitude

The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Photo: Pixabay