Category Archives: Leigh AAR

More Cookies – Dark Chocolate and Dried Cranberry

I hope you have been enjoying some of our holiday traditions and memories. Unless you are Marilu Henner, “one of only 12 people in the world diagnosed with hyperthymesia, also known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory,” you probably don’t remember all the gifts you received as a child during the Christmas holiday.

Oh, I am sure you remember the big ones, like your first bike, or maybe a special electronic device, or a piece of jewelry passed down from a relative, but not every gift. But I bet you remember your family traditions with no problem at all – like opening gifts on Christmas Eve, or midnight services, or the special ornament that you made your mother, that always had a special spot on the tree. Traditions, no matter what the holiday, are the threads that bind families together and one part of family traditions is the food that we eat. I have already shared my family’s Stack Cake which my mother frequently made, along with Orange Slice Cake. But the holidays weren’t complete without cookies. Continue reading

Grammy Nominees

Here are the nominated songs of the year, several which have been featured before on the blog. Of course you know that I love Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger. And Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me is a definite ear worm but then again so is the anthem, We Are Young by Fun. Which is your favorite?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5Il3whipgw[/youtube] Continue reading

Celebrating Veterans Day

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZSLPzUQcOI[/youtube]

Yesterday was Veterans’ Day but many will be off work to celebrate it today. Veterans Day always falls on November 11. If I knew why we celebrated on that day, then I had long forgot it. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month came word that guns of World War One had stopped firing; the war that ripped Europe to pieces had come to an end. Originally, November 11 was called Armistice Day  Per Wikipedia in 1945 WWII veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. Weeks led a delegation to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of National Veterans Day. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985.  In 1954 President President Dwight Eisenhower, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954 and Congress amended the law to replacing Armistice  with Veterans.

Numerous other countries like United Kingdom, France, Belguin  also have celebrations honoring their veteran but is called Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to November 11 Armistice Day.

Here in America Memorial Day is to honor those who have died for their country, and Veterans Day is more to honor the living who have served. And you might ask how you can do that.

Bryan Black in this article from 2010 talks about 5 Simple Ways to Thank a Veteran Today

1. Say Thank You – Just the simple act of saying “Thank you for your service” goes a long way with veterans. Throw in a handshake too, you’re bound to see a smile on their face, which will make it all worth it.

2. Volunteer – Do something for the veterans in your community. Seriously, what’s an hour of your time for the sacrifices they’ve made? Check out uso.org for ways that you can help. At the least, drop off an anonymous letter at your local VA thanking a veteran; it will get to the right person.

3. Donate – Make a small donation today to any of the fantastic organizations out there that help veterans each and every day.

4. Pay for Lunch – One of my fondest memories while serving was actually when a complete stranger came up to a group of three of my buddies and I and paid for our lunch. We were in our Dress Blues eating at a Friday’s in the airport on our way out to San Diego. He simply walked up said “We appreciate what you guys are doing (pointing to the table of three other men appearing to be traveling on business), this one’s on us.” Offer to pay for a veteran’s meal today.

5. Never Forget – One of the biggest things you can do, and I think all my veteran brothers will agree with me here, is to make the most out of the opportunity you’ve been given. Our freedoms have been paved with the sacrifices of our soldiers and they did so for all of us to enjoy this great country; let’s not forget that or take it for granted.

USA Today newspaper agrees with most but Sandra Block in her article is  more pragmatic stating,”While symbolic measures are no doubt appreciated, veterans need much more than a standing ovation and a pat on the back. Many are suffering from traumatic physical and emotional wounds. Civilian jobs are scarce. More than 135,000 veterans are homeless.” And while we all want to help, many make donations to charities that spend more on themselves than money for veterans.

From the same article Ms. Block gives some sound advice:

Don’t respond to phone solicitations unless you already have a relationship with the charity, Borochoff says. Those calls are typically made by fundraisers, which means only a fraction of your contribution will go to veterans programs.

•Don’t give money to people who solicit for contributions outside retail stores or on the street, even if they’re wearing a military uniform. There’s no way of knowing whether the money is going to vets — or even if the individual asking for funds is really a veteran, Borochoff says.

•Don’t give because you received something in the mail. Some charities send prospective donors flags, desk sets, blankets and other premiums. These organizations hope recipients will feel compelled to send in a contribution to pay for the items, Borochoff says. “If you start getting a lot of unordered merchandise, (the charity) is probably really inefficient.”

•Don’t be misled by impressive-sounding names. Just because a charity is named after a well-known admiral or military hero doesn’t mean it’s a well-run organization.

These charities received a A or A+ from CharityWatch.org:

Armed Services YMCS asymca.org

Fisher House Foundation fisherhouse.org

Homes for our Troops homesforourtroops.org

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund semperfifund.org

Intrepid Fallen Heroes fallenheroesfund.org

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society nmcrs.org

National Military Family Organization  militaryfamily.org ,

Operation Homefront operationhomefront.net

What ever you do today, do something meaningful for a veteran from the simple “Thank You” to donating money or volunteering your time. I know that I speak for many here at AAR when I say Thank You to all the men and women who serve or have served in our armed services.

– – Leigh AAR

P.S. I know the video states 2010 but it is still meaningful today.



Daylight Savings Time

One of my favorite days of the year is coming up, the Sunday that we fall back, and I gain an extra hour. Before I stated working weekends this extra hour was extra time spent sleeping or doing just nothing. Now on Saturday night I enjoy going to bed knowing I have an extra hour to sleep before my alarm clock goes off for work or if I am reading a good book, I know that I can stay up a little longer.

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