Archive for March, 2012
A few weeks back, I attended the the SBDC GrowSmartTM program, created and conducted by the Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network and co-sponsored by Georgia Power.
In honor of small businesses and National Mom and Pop Business Day, I encourage you to shop with VoiceQuilt’s Foodie neighbors.
Emily G’s: What’s not to love about gourmet jam that can be slathered on croissants, paired with cheeses or used to create margaritas? Shop online or visit one of many retail locations.
Garlic Clove Foods: Add a new twist to dinner with whole grain Garden Pilaf that takes less than 20 minutes to make. There’s a gluten-free version, too. Shop online or visit your local Whole Foods.
Pine Street Market: Are you a meat connoisseur? Pine Street Market ships artisan meats such as salami, bacon, sausage and pancetta nationally. Or, if you’re local to Atlanta, check out one of Rusty’s butchering classes!
Pure Bliss Organics: Forget Zone and Cliff bars. Pure Bliss offers organic granola, energy bars and nut mixes that will keep you healthy. Shop online or visit one of many retail locations.
VoiceQuilt is honored to be a small business graduate of the SBDC GrowSmartTM program. We hope you’ll support our small business neighbors – and indulge your “inner Foodie” – in honor of National Mom and Pop Business Day.
Dara McMillan is a former hospice worker that now owns a home modification company called My Accessable Home. A ways back, she offered insights on “Compassion Fatigue”. Since March is a peak month for depression, we asked Dara to share some tips.
Have you ever been extremely exhausted after a long day? Of course you have…we’ve probably all been there at one time or another. Usually, a good meal and a restful night of sleep refreshes us enough to get up the next morning and go back and do it all over again.
There is, however, a difference between normal fatigue and extreme burn-out. The latter is also known as Compassion Fatigue.
So what can you do if you recognize these symptoms in yourself?
1.) The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. Now, you can focus attention on self-care.
2.) A good second step is seeking out and using some simple strategies for nurturing yourself. Here are tips I’ve learned from a Martha Beck certified Life Coach, Candace Kortovich.
Candace recommends taking a moment in a quiet place to think about what makes you happy–what makes you smile….
No, she’s not talking about winning the lottery or having a new car show up in your driveway (although, that would be pretty amazing, I have to say.) She’s talking about identifying small, simple ways you can feel happiness and peace.
Did you know that your senses can provide pleasure when you are consciously aware of the experience?
Think about two or three smells, sights or sounds you love to experience.
• One of Candace’s clients loves the feel of climbing into a bed of freshly washed sheets.
• Another feels peaceful whenever she hears the wind chimes playing on her patio.
• Another loves the smell of freshly cut grass.
What sense experience holds special meanings for you? Close your eyes. Think about it and feel it. Then consciously commit to experiencing this peaceful, happy moment anytime during the day as your special gift to you.
As you do, you’ll be giving yourself the gift of self-care… on a budget!
P.S. Feel free to contact Candace Kortovich for more self-coaching tips at
Over the weekend, we re-tooled VoiceQuilt’s web application so that it’s completely FRIENDLY to mobile phones and tablet devices. It’s a project that started several weeks ago – partly because a gift giver named Kristin agreed to talk with me after creating a VoiceQuilt keepsake gift for her sister’s birthday.
Now, Kristin is an on-the-go entrepreneur (check out her company, Modern Day Masala) and very facile with technology. Instead of emailing friends and family to call in and record messages, she messaged everyone on Facebook. Then, she sent a VoiceQuilt Sharing email to her sister, displaying the voice message toasts, tributes and favorite memories.
The glitch occurred when Kristin’s sister opened the sharing email on her iPhone. Because iPhones and iPads don’t support FLASH (the technology that used to be in VoiceQuilt’s message center), she was unable to play the messages in VoiceQuilt’s Sharing Center. To get around this, Kristin downloaded a free VoiceQuilt mp3 and emailed it to her sister. Then, her sister opened the VoiceQuilt mp3 in iTunes.
Needless to say, I was mortified when I heard Kristin’s story.
At VoiceQuilt, we pride ourselves on being easy to use. Anyone, anywhere in the world can call in (or Skype) a VoiceQuilt message; most VoiceQuilts include voice message toasts, tributes and favorite memories from toddlers as well as seniors. So, we needed to address Kristin’s issue, providing access to gift givers and gift recipients on-the-go with smartphones or tablet devices.
As of this weekend, I am delighted to report that we’ve done it. Kudos to Perry Flinn, VoiceQuilt’s CTO, for a job well done! And many thanks to Kristin for sharing her story!
In honor of World Poetry Day on March 21, we decided to take a peek at how VoiceQuilt gift givers weave poetry into their keepsake gifts.
According to VoiceQuilt’s customer database, hundreds of VoiceQuilt messages include the word “poem” or “poetry” in the title. Many are labeled “Birthday Poem” or “Anniversary Poem”. A portion also include the phrase, “We wrote this poem” or “An original just for you”. Some gift givers even record a poem as their outgoing message – the message callers hear before they record their voice message toasts, tributes and favorite memories.
When we do final quality testing on keepsakes, we often overhear snippets of poems like “A Grandmother” by Djean Whitney
“A grandmother is a remarkable woman.
There a wonderful combination of
warmth and kindness, laughter and love.
They overlooks your faults, encourages your dreams,
and praises your every success.
A grandmother has the wisdom of a teacher,
the sincerity of a true friend, and the
tenderness of a mother….More”
If you’ll forgive me, I feel bitten by the poetry bug:
“To celebrate Poetry Day, we’re all in accord.
Find a special verse to record.”
For most of us, March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day. However, that day is also National Quilting Day….
A cancer survivor talking briefly about “Ribbons”…
Another quilter, sharing how a close friendship inspired “Soul Sisters”…
Another talks about expressing loss through “Love Lies Bleeding”…
The AAQ is is a nonprofit dedicated to documenting, preserving and sharing the rich oral history and cultural heritage of quilts and their makers. These quilts above were collected as part of a 2010 fundraising contest called “Alliances: People, Patterns and Passion”. (We at VoiceQuilt were honored to donate voice message recording services.)
For the 2012 contest, the AAQ has asked quilters to explore the form and meaning of “Home Is Where The Quilt Is“.
We’re looking forward to learning more about quilters and their artistic inspiration!
Earlier this month, I had a fun conversation with Dave, a VoiceQuilt gift giver in Houston. Dave created a 50th birthday photo show for his wife, Alie, using VoiceQuilt toasts and tributes as the soundtrack.
Dave ingeniously sent out emails to close friends and family three months before Alie’s birthday, asking everyone to reserve the date. In the email, he also invited everyone to record birthday toasts for Alie. He made it clear that he would be using the voice messages as the soundtrack for a SURPRISE photo show.
As the party date approached, Dave listened to the VoiceQuilt toasts and tributes online. Then, he ordered a VoiceQuilt flash drive and used the Apple Final Cut program to mix VoiceQuilt message soundbites with Alie’s favorite music. He added this audio as the soundtrack for a photo montage. Dave mentioned three of his favorite VoiceQuilt messages:
* Alie’s father, sharing the details of his gruff exchange with a New York baby nurse shortly after Allie was born;
* Alie’s mother, sharing details of her 12 year old’s artistic range – murals, T shirt designs and dance competitions;
* A close friend recounting the story of Alie as a teen, initiating a tug-of-war with a purse snatcher. (Listen by clicking on the message just below the photo of Alie as a young child above!)
At the party in early February, 150 guests laughed and cried while watching the photo show. Dave wasn’t sure which story elicited the biggest reaction. However, he DID know that he achieved his goal of something “big but different” for Alie’s 50th.
Many thanks to Dave and Alie for allowing us to share the story!
Welcome to our guest blogger— Christine, a close friend of our VoiceQuilt family.
As I sat down to write this post, I made myself a cup of tea and logged on to Pinterest for some inspiration. Full disclosure, this is pretty much what I do every morning. The second thing I did was get up from my laptop and make myself an egg white omelet. First Rule of Pinterest: You will get hungry.
For the uninitiated, Pinterest is online bulletin board where users “pin” links to recipes, organization ideas, travel locations, diet tips, home improvement projects, and CRAFTS for later reference…or not… “Membership” is by invitation only, which I suppose makes it all the more exclusive and special.
For the experienced pinner, Pinterest is of a whole world of time-sucking, creativity-inspiring, family-ignoring fun!
Hello, my name is Christine and I’m a Pinterest Addict.
Ten Signs You Might Be a Pinterest Addict:
1. You have a wreath for every occasion (Presidents Day, Groundhog Day, Arbor Day…)
2. You are afraid to throw anything away because you know you are just a glue gun and some gold leaf away from the most amazing wedding shower centerpieces known to woman (that no one you know is even close to getting married is of no consequence).
3. At least one meal a week is nearly unrecognizable to your family. “How do you know you don’t like Kale if you’ve never tried it?”
4. Your idea of a fun holiday activity with the kids used to be this:
5. You haven’t eaten a meal in your dining room in months as it has been completely overtaken by floral wire, empty toilet paper rolls, fabric remnants, and old tree branches – all just waiting to be properly and attractively grouped and categorized, with help from your “Organization” pinboard.
6. “Just one more Click for Next Page and I’ll go to bed…
7. In your heart of hearts, you know that at some point you will attempt to electrify an artful grouping of mason jars to form the perfect rustic chandelier for your as-yet-unbuilt outdoor living space.
8. Since January, you’ve been selecting your wines based on those with real cork, not synthetic so you can make these adorable cork Christmas trees for next year!
9. With every project you complete, you immediately think to yourself “I have to take a picture of this with my iPhone so I can put it on Pinterest!”
I really did make this! Click here for instructions for No Sew Roman Shades.
10. You know your sister-in-law is considering redoing her bathroom because of all her shower tile samples posted to her new “Master Bath” pinboard.
And because with all addictions, the first one is free, believe me when I tell you that you absolutely MUST try this recipe for Cheddar Ranch Bacon Pulls.
You can read more from Christine at her blog: JustAnotherManicMommy
We are continuously amazed by the creativity of VoiceQuilt gift givers…
Brian wanted to make both of his parents feel special as their 70th birthdays approached. He signed up with VoiceQuilt and used our email template to ask 120 friends and family to call in and record 70th birthday toasts, tributes and favorite memories. Brian collected over 100 voice messages, ranging from adorable phrases from an 18-month-old granddaughter to heartfelt tributes from a 99-year-old friend.
Brian ordered a VoiceQuilt CD for himself. That way, he could select specific messages for the soundtrack of a photo montage he was creating for the 70th birthday party. At the same time, he asked us to ship a Keepsake Box to the family reunion hotel in Florida. Can’t wait to hear about the celebration…
Believe it or not, March fourth has been designated as “Hug a G.I.” Day. Who knew! (Sources tell me that “G.I.” originated as an abbreviation for galvanized iron. The troops picked up this nickname during World War II, presumably when so much of their equipment was made out of the stuff!)
At VoiceQuilt, we’re always looking for new ways to thank the troops. In honor of March 4th, we hope you’ll hug a favorite soldier – or volunteer with one of these terrific military non-profits.
Operation Homefront provides emergency assistance to military service members and their families. VoiceQuilt’s very own Jay Shaffer is a former Operation Homefront Board Member here in Georgia. We’ve recently been involved in an Operation Homefront Georgia fundraiser. We hope you’ll check them out here.
Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc
This organization is a nation-wide non-partisan group of women that provide services ranging from sewing adaptive clothing for wounded soldiers to cookie drives for troops serving abroad. Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. also promotes patriotism and assists other veteran organizations. Check out ways you can get involved here.
Operation: Care and Comfort
Thanks to Operation:Care and Comfort thousands of care packages and thank-you letters have been delivered to military personnel in combat zones since 2003. Groups like the National Charity League, Inc. work with the OCC to deliver entertainment bags and thank-you messages; corporations like Old Navy work with OCC to deliver donated clothing to the troops. Check out ways you can support their work here.
However you choose to commemorate “Hug a G.I. Day”, we wish you a fun and meaningful weekend!
P.S. Rhonda (the female hugger above) created a virtual birthday party for her deployed spouse (the male hugger above) by skyping a photo show with VoiceQuilt messages. So clever!