The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

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Thankful Thursdays November 26th Edition

What better Thankful Thursday than the original – Thanksgiving.  This is a VERY special episode edition of Thankful Thursdays, as I decided to primarily post linksturkey that focus on saying Thank you, showing your gratitude, about giving back and a way to change the way you think about the holidays.

So before you go into a food-coma from all of the dishes that make your family’s Thanks-/friends-giving special, I hope you’ll take a moment to enjoy these 6 links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday and accept my heartfelt thanks!

Thankful Thursdays: My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.

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Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

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How Will You Contribute/Share Your Kindness?

Friday, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. 

I’ve been looking forward to this day for almost a year, having just missed it last year. Not be deterred, I printed a reminder and put it in my new day timer right away.

I know this blog is about Appreciation first and foremost, but I’ve always felt that kindness can beget gratitude/appreciation, and that showing/expressing our gratitude can also trigger kindness. Kind of makes a nice circle don’t you think?


Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

World Kindness Day, was first introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, a coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  This group’s primary objective is to “foster goodwill among the broad community – local, national, and international – by way of kindness and in so doing, create greater understanding and cooperation between all people and all nations throughout the world.”  (You may be familiar with one of the US delegates, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.)


All in all, it’s a day to inspire individuals to share kindness
and strive to create a kinder world.



What can I do?

On this day, I encourage you to show kindness to your friends, family, loved ones, colleagues and strangers.  Your act can be big or small. Really anything that shows your appreciation or kindness to another person will do.  I’ve been planning on what I’m going to do on the 13th for a while, but have put together a list of 12 things that may help inspire you to take part in this truly special day. (FYI: The tasks I’m going to do are those in Green.)  Here’s a list of actions you can take:

1. Write 5 Thank you notes to those who have made an impact on my life or have recently helped me  (You didn’t actually think I could forego my tried and true way to share my appreciation. These notes will also be more of the Just Because type vs. due to a recent interview or act of assistance.)  Like this idea, but need help writing one? Visit these 2 of my prior posts for tips:

PB Envelope & TY CardWriting a Memorable Personal Thank you note

Writing a Just Because Note

2.  Feed meters or pay for someone’s coffee. (I don’t drink coffee so the latter half of this is harder for me personally. I did do it once, though I did not stick around to see the recipient or if the barista simply drank it.)

3.  Make food and distribute to office mates or friends – It’s best to share with someone who knows and trusts you vs. a stranger. (Be sure to include the recipe!)

4.  Surprise someone in your network with a reference on LinkedIn.  You likely have many in your LI network or otherwise whom you could write a glowing recommendation.
So often it’s their request that prompts us to help, why not surprise her/him before they have to ask. (You can also offer to provide/write one even if you’re not on LinkedIn.)
Idea courtesy of
Jenn of Work Wonders Coaching.Jar of Hearts

5.  Put 25 – 50 paper hearts or smiley faces in a box/jar. On the back of each one, write something that is special about your lover or a good friend. Give her/him the box and tell her to pull out a heart or smiley face anytime she gets lonely or wants a pick me up.

6.  Have an Amazon account?  Did you know that you can donate money to your favorite US non-profit through Amazon Smile.  Amazon will donate 5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. I just set this up and it took less than a minute!

7.  Since World Kindness day is so close to Veteran’s Day – Send a special note to a veteran, soldier or wounded military personnel. If you don’t know any personally, here are two links to make a connection:

Write a letter to a deployed or wounded member of the military through Operation Gratitude. Soldiers say that’s the most meaningful part of care packages they receive.

On Facebook?  You can send your thanks to military members through Military Facebook pages.

8.  Say thank you to those that you see every day, but whom may not work “with” you.  Everyone is important from the office security guard and the person at the front desk to the mailroom clerk and cleaning staff.  Get to know their names and greet them by name. It also never hurts to say thanks for their services as you likely would have a completely different office without them. Plus we all like to feel that our efforts are appreciated.

9.  Looking for something on the Internet?  Instead of simply turning to that popular search site, use Goodsearch to search the internet, play games or answer survey questions.  50% of their ad revenue and/or 1 cent for every search is donated to charity.

10.  Printing some coupons before you go on a shopping spree? Print out a few extra (when you can) and bring them along.  You can surreptitiously leave them in the store for others to find, or hand out to a fellow customer who looks like they could use one for their purchases.

11.  Create some inspirational quotes or signs and place them around the office or in your colleagues’ work spaces.  You never know when someone may need that pick-me-up.

12.  Make an impact for those who need help by visiting Free Rice, a United Nations Food Program that donates rice to hungry people when you interact with the web site. 



It’s Good for You!

Now of course, while I want to promote World Kindness Day, I do believe that showing kindness deserves more than just one day to share or celebrate it. Kindness and gratitude should be shared as much as possible, all year-long.  Plus did you know that it’s been scientifically proven to be beneficial to do so?  A great reference I found was Amy Morin’s Forbes article about 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude.  Here are my top three from the article:

  • Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.
  • Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people…
  • Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends…


Will you celebrate World Kindness Day and help make the world a kinder place?
What ideas to you have to show your kindness, random or deliberate? Share them with me and my followers!

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Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead – Keep on Remembering and Appreciating Those Who Have Passed

A time to remember those who we’ve lost through a celebration of the dead.

Today starts this year’s Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead festivities.  Celebrated in central and southern Mexico on November 1st and 2nd, Mexican’s believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31st, and that the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) come to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy food, celebrations and alters created in their memory.  All told, it’s an opportunity for relatives to honor their deceased loved ones.

I’ve long loved this holiday, in part due to the pageantry of the images and symbols, but I love the idea of having “another day” with those we’ve lost – even if simply a day set aside to celebrate their lives with a festival.

Some key symbols:

Edible Sugar Skulls (sometimes made of chocolate) many will have the names of the dead decorated on them as well.

Edible Sugar Skulls (sometimes made of chocolate). Many will have the names of the dead decorated on them as well (see top right).

Alter with the image of the deceased, marigolds, sugar skulls, candles and pan de muertos.

Up close shot of pan de muertos (Recipe below!)

Up close shot of pan de muertos (Recipe below!)



The History

According to Wikipedia, scholars have traced the festival back to a pagan observance dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuatl or the Lady of the Dead. In fact the natives believed that death was a continuation of life and it was embraced. They also felt that life was simply a dream and that only when one died, were they truly awake.

The altars and items displayed are to encourage visits by the departed’s souls and to allow the souls to hear prayers, anecdotes and fond memories. It’s believed that the souls will eat the spirit of the food and beverages presented and those celebrating will consume the physical ones. In some instances, families also lay out blankets and pillows to allow the souls to rest before their long journey back to the after world.

Source: Taza Chocolate

Source: Taza Chocolate




Up until a few years ago, I’ve felt that this holiday wasn’t as big of a deal in the US as it was in Mexico.  However over the last four years, I’ve personally seen a surge in Day of the Dead costumes at #Halloween. I’m not sure this translates to a surge in celebrating it, but I do know of a few local festivals supporting the holiday.  One local chocolate maker, Taza Chocolate, who sources their chocolate from #Mexico, holds an annual Día de los Muertos festival each year. This year marks their 5th Annual event.



The Book Of Life

Source: 20th Century Fox

In 2014,  The Book of Life, created and written by Jorge Gutierrez and Douglas Langdale, and produced by Guillermo del Toro, was released.  An entire movie around the Day of the Dead?!  I was ecstatic when I heard about it.

This is an animated film that focuses on a love story and the importance of Dia de los Muertos.  While “primarily” targeted to children, the plot is applicable to all. It reminds us of the importance of keeping those who have passed away in our memories, and that we should continue to celebrate their lives.  It also helps us remember that those who have come before us, can help shape who we will become. (That tradition theme is strong here.)  There’s a bit more to it, but I don’t want to ruin it for you! I promise it’s worth seeing!

I was awe-struck by the images in the Land of the Remembered. Each balloon sugar skull, character, and fiesta scene captured how I’d like draw and showcase the Day of the Dead symbols  — that is if I had any artistic talent!  It was creative and whimsical, and made me want to join in their fiesta. I was especially enchanted by Maria, Manolo and La Muerta.  It’s really a film for all ages, and each time I watch it, I see something new.  Read more about the Book of Life here.



Have I peaked your interest enough to try making one of the mainstays of the holiday — pan de muertos (translation: bread of the dead)?   This is a yeasty, sweet egg bread flavored with anise. (Just a touch of the licorace flavor – I still think you’ll like it if you’re not too in to licorice.) I think it’s great and many enjoy having a #PSL (that’s shorthand for the “hot” Pumpkin Spiced Latte) with it. Straight coffee will do as well!

I’d found and tried this recipe on It’s adapted from Richard Sandoval and Maya Restaurants in NYC.  You can click here to see the recipe or use the version below:

Pan de Muertos

Total Time: 3 hrs 40 mins  Makes: 2 loaves
See picture above for how it will look when done. (Sorry I don’t have step-by-step pictures)


  •  1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed
  • 1/2 ounce (2 packets) active dry yeast (I used Fleischmann’s)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling the bowl
  • 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water


  1. Combine the sugar, salt, anise seed, and yeast in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the milk, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is just melted; DO NOT allow it to boil.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the dry mixture and mix well with a wire whisk.
  4. Stir in the eggs and 1-1/2 cups of the flour and beat well.
  5. Add the remaining flour, little by little, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured wooden board and knead it until it’s smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, about 9 to 10 minutes.
  7. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise in a warm area until it has doubled in size, about 1-1/2 hours. (It took the full 1-1/2 hours for me)
  8. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  9. Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 pieces. Cut 3 small (about 1-ounce) balls from each half and mold them into skull-and-bones shapes. Shape the large pieces of dough into round loaves and place the skull-and-cross bones on top.
  10. Place the breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them rise another hour.
  11. Brush the loaves with the egg yolk mixture and bake.
    Halfway through baking, about 20 minutes, remove the loaves from the oven and brush again with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar. Return to the oven and bake until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about another 20 minutes.

Offer up to those who have passed and enjoy. (You’re allowed to eat it!)

Do you celebrate those who have passed?  Do you celebrate Día de los Muertos?
Let me know if you like the recipe!
I also hope you’ll do more research into this great holiday after reading my post!



Special thanks to, Taza Chocolates, Wikipedia, artisfun, chowhound, 20th Century Fox for helping with details within this post. 

handwriting the TY1


Revered or Distained Writing the Interview Thank You Note by Hand

Recently I went on 12 interviews over the course of three days.  If we’re looking at good etiquette that’s 12 handwritten thank you notes due within 24 hours of the interviews.

Lest you think I’m complaining sharing this quantity, I was not.  I was extremely grateful and definitely encouraged and motivated by these opportunities… especially since two companies were ones I’d long admired, and held dream opportunities.

When it rains it pours – I think it truly does when it comes to good fortune.
Once I started setting up interviews, several more came up. 

My advice: Ride that positive wave when it’s presented to you.

I know, I know. Many of you think I should have simply thought of taking care of these via quick Emails simply saying, “thank you for your time and consideration yada yada yada.

In fact, at one interview where the manager did not have a business card, her colleague quickly chimed in, “Email me and I’ll forward her Email to you.”  YIKES!  I may have blanched slightly when she said this.  While her offer was kind, sending a thank you note via Email is really not me. I think that hand writing these notes shows extra care and your attention to detail.

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Thankful Thursdays October 22nd Edition

Happy October everyone. Halloween is just around the corner (and so is Dia de los Muertos)! I love this month — fall has finally kicked in, the leaves are changing and everything seems to be ‘pumpkin’ flavored.  Plus the smell of burning leaves and wood stoves…… ahhhhhhh.

This month’s Thankful Thursday is a little different in that the first three ideas/pieces are taken from a great post by Katie Dupere that I found on Mashable. I loved her research (and compilation) about putting an appreciation twist to Halloween so much that I had to share some of it.  She listed six ideas and I shared three of them, but I have provided a link to her complete list too.  As each is a story in itself you’ll see why I needed to pass it along.  


Time to sit back and enjoy these five links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Thankful Thursdays September 24th Edition

Happy September everyone (and a goodbye, to the official end to summer – sigh…).  Today I have SIX great links to share with you as we transition into fall’s cooler and shorter days. 

Sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Goodbye Lovely Summer

Alas summer has ended and fall has started today.  I’m a little sad.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of fall.  I appreciate the feeling of starting anew (sort of second new year if you will), the changing leaves, the pumpkins, Dia de los Muertos, football games, the Head of the Charles Regatta and even that soft oversized sweater.

But oh the sweet days of summer when all seems right in the world. Visions Memories of languid days spent on the beach, sunsets, tans and swimming, oh glorious swimming in the ocean. (The last I will miss the most.)

So just a quick tribute and farewell to my favorite season with a picture collage and quote.

“By all these lovely tokens September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather And autumn’s best of cheer.”
~ Helen Hunt Jackson

Summer 2015 RecapFrom Left to Right, Top to Bottom Row by Row:
Row 1: 1. Let the games begin. Heading to MV on the boat,  2. An understated Memensha Sunset,  3. An unexpected surprise in nature uncovered during a walk,  4. SUP for 2 hours!
Row 2: 1. Dinner trying to escape,  2. Caught and enjoyed by sunset,  3. The Ag Fair flower exhibit,  4. Sunrise on vacation (Yes! One of my 101 goals accomplished!)
Row 3: 1. Beetlebung with Blanc De, Blue and the lanterns,  2. Found art on the beach,  3 & 4. Fireworks captured in August (the best time)
Row 4: 1. Waning July sunset,  2. SPOTTED! Art on the unexpected palette (Read More),  3. A last Monarch butterfly this past Sunday 9/20,  4. Ferry Goodbyes (The wake on the last trip this summer.)


Oh what a season you’ve been.  Thanks summer. Can’t wait to see you again next year.

 – TAF


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