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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Week 13-The Oscars, Day 6-The looks

I don’t know about you but I watch the Oscars just as much, if not more, for the looks the celebrities rock than the actual awards.  Calvin Klein, Chanel, Elie Saab, Van Cleef, Harry Winston, Cartier, Jimmy Choo, and Christian Louboutin are just a few of the names that turn heads on the red carpet.  I love seeing all the great designer gowns and the gorgeous make up that seals the deal for a best dressed look the next morning.  I had the best time at a girl’s night out Mary Kay party tonight with some great women, and am so thankful that make up and fashion can create new friendships.

The best of the best 2011

Mary Kay might have been your grandmother’s make up, it was mine, but not anymore!  They have revamped and pumped youthful, energetic, and fashionable into their line of skin care, fragrances, and make up.  I also learned tonight that Mary Kay is just as green as their Cadillacs are pink.  MK will plant one tree for every 10 flip tops and/or color refill cases that are recycled in 2011.  They have already planted 200,000 trees in Montana with the US Forest Service and the Arbor Day Foundation.  MK is also celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 by setting a goal to volunteer 1 million hours of community service world wide.  There is no better combination than fashionable and responsible!  When an organization is named Fashion Delivers, you know they are going to follow through on their promise to give back to those in need.  FD mobilizes men’s and women’s apparel as well as home industries to donate new items to those who have suffered a disaster and are in need throughout the year.  FD has only been a charity since 2005 but they have donated over $60 million dollars worth of merchandise in those six short years.  That must be why The Wall Street Journal, US Weekly, and NBC have all written articles on Fashion Delivers last year alone.

Mary Kay-Arbor Day Foundation Donation

Fashion Delivers Donation

So here’s to the looks!  You take beautiful women and turn them into goddesses on the red carpet every year.  You may change from one year to the next but the classic little black dress, high heels, and red lips (all together or separate) stand the test of time.  The only thing I can think of that is classier and more timeless than the classic LBD is thanking your community by giving back.

Week 13-The Oscars, Day 5-Actor in a leading role

Yesterday we talked about the women behind all these great movies this past year, but today let’s give the boys a hand.  I mean their roles were no walk in the park.  A guy who cuts his own arm off, a one-eyed-gun-slinging Marshall, a King with a stammer, a Spanish criminal, and the guy who invented Facebook, are all tall order to fill but James, Jeff, Colin, Javier, and Jesse did it.  Men like to pretend like they’re all rough and tough but there’s really a big heart under all those muscles.  I’m thankful that these guys aren’t afraid to be their wonderful, giving, mushy selves.

Here's to you boys!

Mr. Colin Firth has made it known that he believe celebrities should use their star power to highlight worthy causes.  Oxfam International is one of those causes that Firth is a big believer in.  OI is a collaboration of 14 different organizations coming together to end poverty and injustice as a part of a bigger global movement for change.  OI focuses on key areas like agriculture, climate change, conflicts and emergencies, health and educations, and fair trade.  What’s so great about OI is that there is something for everyone to be interested and involved in.  They are working to make the world a better place for everyone.  I like the way you think Colin.  He may not be British like Mr. Firth but Jeff Bridges is no slouch in the charity department.  He founded the End Hunger Network in 1983 because he believed that no child deserved to go hungry.  Today there are still 16.7 million children who are at risk for hunger in America.  President Obama has challenged our country to wipe out child hunger by the year 2015.  Can we do it?  Of course we can!  When you have the star power of Mr. Bridges on your side only good things can happen.

Oxfam International Donation

End Hunger Network Donation

So here’s to you actor in a leading role!  Obviously you’re  handsome.  Obviously you’re talented.  Obviously you’re capable of big things.  The part that’s not quite so obvious is that big heart and giving spirit that is much more important than any physical attributes you possess.  I know as a man you’re taught to bottle up those silly feelings and only let them out once in a blue moon.  Let me remind you that giving is sexy, so very sexy.

Week 13-The Oscars, Day 4-Actress in a leading role

Let’s’ face it, behind every really good movie there is usually an awesome actress.  The women who are nominated this year are beautiful, talented, and extremely giving.  Natalie, Nicole, Michelle, Jennifer, and Annette are all in the running for a tiny little gold man and a lifetime of bragging rights.  Sometimes they are mothers, sometimes daughters, and other times ballet dancers, but I’m always thankful for them.  No matter who they end up playing in the movies, these women play an even bigger role off screen.  Giving back.

FINCA Ambassador Natalie Portman

There are two women who seem to be heading up the pack in this race for best actress.  Natalie Portman may be raking in dollars hand over fist but she’s the first to realize how lucky she is.  Natalie helped launch the Village Banking Campaign for the non-profit Foundation for International Community Assistance, FINCA.  FINCA works to provide financial assistance to low-income entrepreneurs so they can create jobs, build assets and improve their standard of living.  Since their inception in 1984 they have helped hundreds of thousands of people in over 21 different countries.  FINCA has been lending a helping hand in Haiti for over 20 years, long before the earthquake in 2010.  FINCA is in the business of helping other help themselves.

You can bid on this shirt!

Annette Bening is right there with Natalie at the top of the favorites list for this category.  She is also willing to give the shirt off her back to help out.  No really, she is a big supporter of Clothes Off Our Back, which is a non-profit who auctions off the clothes of the hottest celebrities around.  Annette is even giving one of her outfits from the Oscar nominated, The Kids Are Alright.  The auction is on until tomorrow so you still have time to get a little piece of Hollywood and help charities at the same time.  COOB uses the funds raised to give back to a couple of charities that we’ve talked about here like Feeding America and Malaria No More.  Over $7 million has been raised by COOB since 2002 with the help of over 700 celebrities and 300 designers.  Get a new outfit and give back?  Sign me up!

Foundation for International Community Assistance Donation

Clothes Off Our Back Donation

So here’s to you actress in a leading role!  Whoever ends up taking home this very prestigious title is more than deserving on and off screen.  Budding actresses everywhere watch these women perform and aspire to be just like them one day.  If they do grow up to be just like them then they’ll be really successful actresses, as well as incredibly giving human beings.

Week 13-The Oscars, Day 3-The Fighter

Marky Mark may not be a part of the funky bunk anymore but I don’t he’s losing any sleep over it.  Even though I haven’t actually seen The Fighter I’m thankful that such a great true story is nominated for best picture of the year.  And I’m also a little thankful that we get to see the great physical specimen that is Mark Wahlberg without his shirt on for long periods of time in the movie.  Plus I think we can all relate to our families being a little crazy at times.  I mean we love ’em, they are our kin, and they always mean well but you gotta cut the cord sometime.

Marky Mark and the charity bunch

When Mark isn’t making killer movies or producing award winning series he’s starting foundations to help youth everywhere.  No, seriously he is.  The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation works to improve the life of inner city kids, and eliminate any barriers that keep them from succeeding.  MWYF works with other organizations like Boys & Girls Club of America to make the dreams of inner city children come true.  Mark was one of nine children and spent a lot of time at his local club during his childhood, and accredits a lot of his success to the time he spent in such a positive and nurturing environment.  A couple of years ago when they were making The Fighter they auctioned off a walk on non-speaking role in the movie for the charity The Felix Foundation.

Darryl McDaniels put the D in DMC

Co-founded by Darryl McDaniels (of RUN DMC) and Shelia Jaffe (casting director of The Sopranos and Entourage), FF provides enriching experiences and new opportunities for children who are growing up in the foster care system.  Both McDaniels and Jaffe were adopted and realized how they lucky were to be raised by such loving families.  “We were taken home.  We wanted to give back to those who didn’t get taken home…”  Since 2006 FF has sent over 500 kids to Camp Felix in upstate New York for a week or two of basketball, softball, arts, drama, and crafts.

The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation Donation

The Felix Foundation Donation

So here’s to you The Fighter!  You took a true story about life, family, and loyalty and turned it into an Oscar nominated film.  You’ve been called the best sports movie of the decade, hard-hitting, powerful, and remarkable.  But when it comes down to it, The Fighter is just a movie about fighting for the people that you love.  I think these are a couple of great charities worth fighting for as well.

Week 12-The Oscars, Day 2-Toy Story 3

Andy, Buzz, Jessie, Hamm, Rex, and Woody all came back one more time to entertain us before Andy goes off to college, and they got a couple of Oscar nods out of it as well.  Since the very beginning of this trilogy kids big and small have fallen head over heels for these lovable characters.  Plus who doesn’t love a good story with a lesson at the end?  The creators of Toy Story are straight up geniuses and I think the star power in the cast is a tribute to that fact.  I’m thankful for the toys we all had that were our best friends whether they were made out of plastic, stuffing, or even wood.  I would never miss a play date with these guys!

The whole gang!

I think if Buzz Lightyear was a real person, he and Tim Allen would be bff.  Buzz would especially like the fact that Tim is a big supporter of Toys for Tots.  And I know what you’re thinking, no TFT is not just a Christmas time organization.  I mean the key time for collecting toys to give to needy children is October-December but TFT operates all year round.  Since TFT started in 1991 they have supplemented local toy collections with 81.3 million toys valued at $487 million.  That means that 81.3 million children received a toy for Christmas during a time in their lives when they normally wouldn’t have.  Yea, that’s amazing.  We all know that Woody is a cowboy, but Tom Hanks is a space cowboy.  Fact #1-He is a totally bad ass in Apollo 13(also nominated for an Oscar).  Fact #2-He is on the Board of Governors for the National Space Society. NSS is considered to be the voice of all citizens would are interested in life beyond Earth.  NSS is a non-profit whose mission it is “to promote social, economic, technological, and political change in order to expand civilization beyond Earth, to settle space and to use the resulting resources to build a hopeful and prosperous future for humanity.”  I mean is there anything cuter than a little kid saying they want to be an astronaut when they grow up?  I think not!

Toys for Tots Donation

National Space Society Donation

So here’s to you Toy Story 3!  You gave us all a reason to pull out all those childhood toys out of the attic and take a trip down memory lane.  We were right there with Andy on his journey of growing from a boy into a young man, and the effect it had on the toys.  But what did they really teach us in the end?  That sharing is caring and if we open our heart we can sail to infinity and beyond!

Week 13-The Oscars, Day 1-Costume Design

It’s Oscar week!  We’ve already watched the SAG awards, the Golden Globes, and the Grammys, but now it’s time for the whole enchilada.  Seriously, everyone waits all award season long to get to put on that perfect dress, grab their date, and pose for the paparazzi.  These are the pictures that run all year long in the tabloids, TV shows, and our minds.  We also always remember the costumes in a film, well at least I do.  They can really make a good film a spectacular film, and transport you from the comfort of your chair into the world on the screen.  I’m so thankful for the talent and attention to detail that goes into their award winning films.

Will Alice take home the Oscar?

I haven’t seen all the films that are nominated for Costume Design, but the ones I have seen were stellar.  True Grit is new age Western that stars Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf, I mean Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon.  Some of you may have heard that Matt Damon falls in that unique category of incredibly handsome, successfully, wealthy, down to earth, and charitable.  He founded Not On Our Watch along with Brad Pitt, George, Clooney, Don Cheadle and others.  NOOW uses all of its star power to shine a light on international crises and give voices to helpless victims across the globe.  NOOW focuses on mass atrocities and huge violations of human rights.  They work in places in such places as Darfur, Burma, and Zimbabwe, where the need is great but the global attention is minimal.  Damon also was just awarded the Joel Siegel Award last month because he understands the “true value of celebrity is as an enhanced platform to do good works for others.”  Alice in Wonderland is also up for a Oscar in the Costume Design category so it only seems appropriate to keep with the theme of men I’d love to marry, and turn our attention to Mr. Johnny Depp.  Helen & Douglas House is a non-profit based out of the United Kingdom that Depp is a big supporter of.  HDH provides respite and end of life care for children and young adults.  Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice when it opened in November of 1982, and opened in 2004 Douglas House was the first hospice specifically for young adults.  A lot of terminally ill children need medical and emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every single day of the year.  The support HDH provides is worth truly priceless to their families in their time of need.

Not On Our Watch Donation

Helen & Douglas House Donation

So here’s to you costume design!  You made us royalty in The Young Victoria, The Duchess, and Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  You helped us fall in love on the Titanic, be one with the force in the original Star Wars, and become a true Spartan in Gladiator.  Let’s face it, we all wear costumes everyday.  We’re dressed as teachers, nurses, lawyers, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers.  Whatever role you’re playing in life, just be sure you always wear your giving shoes.

What are you waiting for? Put yours on!

Week 12-Places I’ve lived, Day 7-Morgantown, WV

Now that we’ve taken a sufficient trip down memory lane there’s no time like the present to talk about good ‘ole Morgantown.  While it is true that we haven’t been acquainted very long, I’ve had all the time I need to realize what a wonderful place this is.  I think the fact that tomorrow I’ll be volunteering for American Red Cross for the first time speaks volumes about how people in this community come together for a cause.  From the very first time we visited Morgantown it felt like home, and like a community where we could make a difference.

Yesterday I learned about a little charity called CASA when I was researching the cause that Party with Purpose had previously supported.  Well as luck would have it, WV CASA has an office right in Morgantown!  CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates for children and is a national program that was started in 1977 to help abused and and neglected children of the court.  The National CASA Association was officially founded in 1982 and today has over 1,055 programs and 70,900 trained volunteer advocates nationwide.  Tonight as we stopped at Chick-fil-A for a quick bite to eat before the WVU women’s basketball game I learned about another great Morgantown charity, Chestnut Mountain Ranch.  CMR was founded by Steve Finn and his wife Dawn in 2004 on 224 acres only six miles away from downtown Morgantown.  CMR helps educate boys ages 10-14 who are in crisis and in need of hope and healing.  They have a multi-step program that educates the boys and their family, helps them through family counseling sessions, and provides a dorm-life experience in the second phase of the program.  Their mission to restore the entire family starts with building up the young men and teaching the family unit about it’s failures so they can accept them and build a new future.  Who doesn’t love a second chance?

Life on the ranch

WV CASA Donation

Chestnut Mountain Ranch Donation

So here’s to you Morgantown!  You’re not just a college town with lots of selfish twenty somethings students.  Moutaineers have a sense of loyalty to their community that has impressed me even in the short few weeks we’ve been here.  The only thing better than loving the place you call home is being able to be thankful that your home is filled with people who make it a better place.

Week 12-Places I’ve lived, Day 6-West New York, NJ

Don’t let the name confuse you.  West New York is definitely in the garden state of New Jersey, even though you can see most of the Upper West Side of NYC from the streets of W.N.Y.  When we found we were moving to northern NJ for Scott’s job we didn’t have a clue where we wanted to live.  We narrowed it down to a couple of different towns based on interest research and a couple of friends recommendations.  Really, W.N.Y kinda picked us.  There couldn’t have been a better time for us to live it up in the big city.  No mortgage, no kids, and not a care in the world.

SAB & LCB in WNY

Eating and having a good time were two of the main things we wanted to do while we were still young and fancy free in NJ.  The people in Hoboken, NJ have figured out how to party (and give) like rock stars.  Party with Purpose is a non-profit that throws great parties for great causes.  All the proceeds raised at the events go directly to the local charities or the local chapter of national charities.  PWP has helped some big name organizations like American Cancer Society, Alzheimer’s Association, and CASA.  Since PWP started in 2004 they have helped to raise over $200,000 for local causes.  Work hard.  Play hard.  Give hard.  Now that’s the way to live.  Like you might have picked up on before, in our family we like to eat.  We tried lots of new restaurants and recipes while we lived in W.N.Y.  Table to Table makes sure the people of Passiac, Essex, Bergen, and Hudson (W.N.Y.’s county) counties never go hungry.  T3 collects prepared and perishable foods that would have otherwise been thrown away and distributes them to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other centers that serve meals to the hungry.  Places like the local A&P Supermarkets and Trader Joe’s, that we often shopped at, will donate any food they are going to discard to T3.  Waste not, want not.  This is a lesson T3 is taking to heart and using to change stomachs and lives.

Party With Purpose Donation

Table to Table Donation

So here’s to you West New York!  Your weird parking rules and dog parks without grass make you a little confusing, but your New York City views and beautiful sunsets make you charming.  You will always be the place where we made our first home and really learned how to be a family.  You taught us to be resourceful, speedy walkers, and bomb parallel parkers (well one of us at least).  Thanks to you, we know if we can make it there.  We can make it anywhere. 

Week 12-Places I’ve lived, Day 5-Liberty,NC

I can still remember the very first time we drove the 13 miles from our cozy, comfortable house in a very nice golf course community to the house in Liberty.  It was a renovated carpet and tile store and it lacked all the bells and whistles that I had grown accustomed to.  Plus it was 13 miles further from all of my high school friends, which in tenth grade really seems like 130 miles.  I may have not liked it then, but I’m definitely thankful for it now.  The house, the huge garden, and all the charm of the little town have all grown on me over the years.  Ironically, moving to Liberty, gave me just that.

Good 'ole Liberty

The actual town of Liberty may be small but there are some pretty big charities right around the corner.  The NC Zoo is only twenty miles away in Asheboro.  The zoo is supported by the non-profit, NC Zoo Society, which helps to raise funds through membership programs, annual planned-giving campaigns, and many other programs.  Formed in 1968 the NCZS works to conserve wildlife and their habitats across the globe, and help educate and inspire the public about the nature that surrounds them.  You can even support the society by adopting a ball python, chimp, elephant, or a puffin.  Of course by adopting you don’t get to take the animals home, but you do get exclusive photos of your animal and zookeeper’s notes.  You could be on the next big reality series, Zoo Moms 2.

Next stop, Victory Junction!

Victory Junction provides life changing experiences for children with chronic illnesses and other serious conditions.  VJ was built in honor of NASCAR driver Adam Petty and has served over 11,000 children since it’s opening in 2004.  VJ camp is on 84 acres in Randleman, NC which is only about 24 miles from Liberty.  Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, and Darius Rucker are just a few of the celebrities that support VJ and don’t mind saying so.  And Kansas City better watch out cause VJ is rolling in!

NC Zoo Society Donation or Adopt a fuzzy wild child!

Victory Junction Donation

So here’s to you Liberty!  I wasn’t so sure about you at first but you have turned out to be a city of refuge for me.  A place where I can go to recharge my batteries, take a nap, swing outside in the cool breeze, and always have a good home cooked meal.  You are a place where people wave to each other, know each other by name, and love giving back to their community as much as they love the community itself.

Week 12-Places I’ve lived, Day 4-Prague, CZ

Some of you may have caught my little “early life crisis” reference in yesterday’s post and wondered what exactly I meant.  Well you know how people can have a mid-life crisis after they are married with kids where they do something crazy to reclaim the youth they lost?  Well I jumped the gun a little.  I was in the last semester of my undergrad degree, trying to figure out where to go to grad school, and regretting never doing that semester abroad I always wanted to do.  Solution?  Take a semester off and travel all over Europe, live in Prague for three months, don’t work, and spend all the money I had saved.  I didn’t want to be married with children at 40 and abandon them for some pipe dream.  I’m so thankful for my early life crisis and the magic of Prague that transformed me.

Inspiration indeed

The incredible architecture, rich Jewish heritage, and the old world charm of the cobble stone streets seem too good to be true, but they’re not.  It would take a lifetime to discover all the history and intricate detail that Prague was steeped in to become the Eastern European gem that it is today.  The famous author Franz Kafka was born in Prague, or Praha as the locals call it, in 1883.  I don’t know if he would have been a member of the Poets & Writers but it is the largest non-profit literary organization for poets and writers of all genres.  P&W helps fledgling authors by fostering professional development, promoting communication throughout the literary community, and helping create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the most people possible.  P&W makes sure authors know about literary contests and their deadlines, magazines to publish their work in, and new job opportunities.  P&W is the Martha Stewart of support for writers, but without the jail time.

Brooklyn Museum

Another very famous artist from the Czech Republic is Alphonso Mucha who had a exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1921.  The BM is dedicated to bridging the gap between the deep history of the collections and the cultures they represent, and the experience of each and every visitor.  The museum prides itself on having an extremely diverse permanent collection of over a million objects representing almost every culture in the world.  Who knew all that history and enlightening visual art could be packed into the borough of Brooklyn?  Mucha, that’s who.

Poets & Writers Donation

Brooklyn Museum Donation

So here’s to you Prague!  You are the home to two castles, a huge Jewish quarter, delicious beer that’s cheaper than water, and world famous architecture.  I was lucky enough to call you home for a few short months, but really I’ve never left.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for you in some way.  You were the solution to all my problems when, in reality, I had none.  You taught me to slow down, read more, complain less, love deeper, and give more than I ever knew I had.

Most gorgeous sunset of my life in Prague