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Several months ago I wrote an article on the topic of creating Gift Baskets for Silent Auctions. There was such a great response to that article, that I decided to re visit the subject.
Non profit organizations are not the only ones who are looking to raise funds by non traditional means. Every day I read a newspaper article or see a poster for fund raisers for individuals within the community who need assistance because a fire has left them homeless or their medical bills from an accident or illness are not being met by their insurance. I saw a poster recently promoting a spaghetti dinner to raise money to assist the family of a soldier wounded in Afghanistan. The family needed help with travel and living expenses. A silent auction is a great way to accomplish the goal of raising money for any good cause.
The first step is to ask local businesses for help. A retailer might be willing to donate an item from their store. For example, a book store may donate a book, a garden center a planter, etc. Ask business people like insurance agents or car sales people. They may not have a product they can donate but they may be willing to donate a few dollars or an item like a bottle wine.
Remember that most banks and the few larger companies in your area are always regularly approached for donations by large non profits and civic groups and they already donate thousands of dollars every year to community events. They have budgets too, so when approaching them for donations, keep your request simple. You can do a lot with a $25 or $50 donation when you are creating themed gift baskets.
When the first items start to come in, see if, by combining some of the items, you can come up with some ideas for themes. Did the bookstore donate a book about gardens or birds or flowers? If so, combine the book with the garden planter and start a “gardening” theme. If the bookstore donated a recent best selling mystery, you can still combine it with the planter but your theme could be a little different. It could be entitled “the weekend”, a little gardening, a little reading, you get the idea. Use any monetary donations to purchase items that will compliment the themes you have chosen.
Some easy themes to design are a wine basket, a pasta basket, a night at the movies basket, an arts or crafts basket and a game night gift basket.
You can buy everything you need to finish off the gift basket such as cello wrap and a hand tied bow at many local craft shops. If you have a gift basket company in your area, ask them to donate their time and expertise.
Networking for fashion designers can be tough to stomach. But when you’re starting a clothing business, making contacts you can rely on, and who can rely on you is critical for your success. Here are Jane’s sure-fire tips for networking, especially for people who hate networking.
When you think about networking, what comes to mind?
Drinking warm beer from a plastic cup smiling at people? No, that was college.
Drinking warm white wine from a plastic cup smiling at people and handing out business cards? Aha, that’s more like it.
And if the idea of networking really does make you want to vomit, read on…
I mean, what do people do with all the cards you hand out? What do you do with all the cards you collect? Going out on a limb here, I’m gonna say… um, nothing.
They don’t get thrown out right away. That would be rude. They just get put in a big pile on your desk. Or get crushed at the bottom of your purse -for a few weeks -or maybe a few months only to remind you of how you should feel guilty about doing nothing with them.
There must be a better way…
Jane’s Brain Tips on Networking… and they’re guaranteed Not To Make You Vomit…
What I call networking is about real relationships, not winning a business card popularity contest. It’s about having someone to call when you have an industry-related question. You want to build a “network” of people you rely on and who can rely on you.
I can just hear you asking… How do I do this, Jane? I don’t know anybody!
1) Pick one (or two) industry related groups and commit to attending regularly. Get on a committee and really get to know some people. This way you’ll have a small group of people who know you and (hopefully) like you – a real asset.
But beware…joining a group only for the contacts is a bad idea. Be sure you’re interested in what you’re doing or it will be painfully obvious to the group – and pretty lame.
2) The point of “networking” events is NOT to meet as many people as possible. The point IS to meet some people with whom you will follow up. I suggest you get the other person’s card and write something about them on it for you to remember later. The day after the event, “maximize the relationship” by getting in touch with the people you met. Don’t just write an email, “Great to meet you last night. Would love to get together sometime.”
3) Send them something useful for their business or their life – an article, a YouTube link, a restaurant recommendation; anything that pertains to them that they’ll appreciate. (Check the back of their card to see what you wrote about them!) Then make a note in your calendar and schedule a date to reach out to them in the future. Which leads to my next point…
4) Dig a well before you’re thirsty. This phrase (from Harvey Mackay) is telling you to be a resource for other people before you call them asking for help. If you make it a habit to help people out without asking for anything in return, it will come back to you.
And the last no puke tip…
5) Once every few months, ask someone you admire or respect for breakfast or coffee. Arrive prepared with questions and try to discover the “secrets” to their success. They don’t have to work in the fashion design industry, you can learn from anyone. It will take about an hour of your time and you might be surprised about how much you’ll gain from these coffee dates. Send a hand-written thank-you note after your meeting.
© 2010 Jane Hamill, Fashion Brain Academy
If you live in the Philadelphia area and are planning a trip that will fly you out of Philadelphia International Airport, or are a traveler that will be connecting through or flying into this airport, you are in for a wonderful experience! Flying, especially these days, can often times be stressful and even a little intimidating with so many new rules and regulations. But Philadelphia International Airport, or PHL as it is also called, has taken many steps to make it really comfortable and convenient for you.
USA Today has ranked Philadelphia International Airport as one of the highest scoring airports in the country in terms of amenities for its passengers and visitors. Some of these include:
Live Music – The Performing Arts Program entertains travelers with an assortment of local musicians, singers and dancers. They even have costumed characters, caricature artists, face-painting and other surprises for special occasions. Performances take place twice a week and daily during the summer and winter holiday seasons.
Culture – Philadelphia International Airport sponsors revolving art exhibitions with displays that change throughout the year to illustrate the area’s unique culture and lifestyle. The airport offers you access to a wide variety of art forms including fine arts, crafts, design and photography by artists from Philadelphia and around the world. Presently, there are only a handful of airports in the world with temporary art exhibitions.
Internet Access – At all of PHL’s gate areas, you can have Wi-Fi access for a fee of only $7.95 for a full 24 hours. You can also charge your laptop at many of the convenient public seating areas and half of the airport’s semi-private pay phones have data ports with work surfaces. If you’ve got a need for more extensive business services, they’ve even created something called ‘Laptop Lane’ which is located just inside the Terminal B checkpoint on the A-B walkway.
Relaxation – Philadelphia International Airport also offers fine dining at its two award-winning Cibo Bistro Wine Bars located in Terminals B and A-West. PHL has even got a Day Spa called Xpress Spa located in Terminal C near Gate C-16 to help its customers weary from travel to unwind with a variety of massages, body treatments or just a relaxing pedicure or manicure. They’ve also got convenience stores and stands located throughout the airport where you can purchase items like as diapers, aspirin, newspapers, magazines and gifts or souvenirs.
Visit Philadelphia International Airport’s website at http://www.phl.org to get information on flights and the convenient Rail Connection to the City which is a service that directly connects the Airport with the downtown area. The fare is only $5.50 each way, and the trains run every 30 minutes and stops at every terminal!
Reportedly, there were three roads to Paradise in early Christendom: the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain, the route from Rome to Jerusalem and the Via Francigena (Frankish Route). Originally the Via Francigena (VF) stretched as a series of trails from Canterbury, England to Rome. Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, who returned via the route in 990 AD, first documented it in a diary. However, some say it existed long before as a major cross-continent trail for kings, traders, artists and invading armies. Today, after centuries of neglect, this historic path has re-emerged from the ashes of historic obscurity.
As the first American to complete the 1155-mile backpacking journey from Val d’Aosta, Italy, just south of the Swiss border, to Rome in 2000, and in 2002 from Switzerland to Canterbury, believe me when I say that this is one journey you’ll carry with you for a lifetime. If you’re in fairly good physical condition, with perseverance and a relatively easy pace, you should be able to trek the entire route in 65-80 days. But then again, who’s worried about speed?
Unlike the frantic itinerary typical of other modern types of travel, this is not a race. It’s a one-step-at-a-time pathway to slow down your mind and open your heart.
Everyone walks at his own pace, either alone or in a group. Following infrequent signposts and an up-to-date guidebook from the Association VF, you can walk 12-20 miles a day. It all depends on the weather, your physical condition and attitude. Equally important is the location of villages and whether they have accommodations or pellegrino or pilgrim-friendly parishes.
When I walked it, for some locals, the pellegrino concept was more foreign than the Euro. I received more than a few strange looks, as this weary, weathered backpacker shuffled into town. On one occasion, a lady nervously clutched her brooch as my friend and I passed her on the sidewalk. Another day, in pounding rain, we were forced to present our credenzialis (with a flourish) to startled polizia officers.
Before leaving, be sure to contact the helpful Association Via Francigena in Rome to request the passport-like credenziali del pellegrino Romeo. Arriving in each village at night, take your credenziali to the church, cathedral or duomo and have it stamped by the priest or even an unassuming archbishop, such as the one who stamped mine in Viterbo, Italy.
En route, this passport has more practical purposes. It’s a great conversation starter, a source of local amazement, and may even open the door for you to sleep for minimal cost in the local parish, monastery or convent. This is an experience not to be missed. Sure, you could sleep in some of the region’s finest hotels, bed and breakfasts or spa resorts. But for me, it was important to stay true to the concept and more memorable to collapse in these historic hostels. The chance to “break bread” and share Chianti with Franciscan, Augustine, or Capuchin monks was preferable to any homogenous, non-descript hotel. (Besides, travelling light with only a small backpack, cruising the local discos was never an option for me. I had nothing to wear.)
Carrying your own pack, you quickly realize what is most important on the trail, and perhaps in your life. Extra weight is equated with more aching muscles and bigger blisters. So, what you don’t need-definitely leave at home. Pack as if you’re going for a weekend hike in the mountains. A stove and tent are unnecessary. Food supplies are plentiful-and exceptional. Take a lightweight sleeping bag, since many villages still do not have extra beds, let alone bedding. Here, again, is where the Association Via Francigena guides shine, especially with their accommodation suggestions.
The best time to go is May-September, but come prepared for hot weather, rain or even snow atop Pass Gran St. Bernard as you enter Italy. If you only have time to walk part of the VF, Geneva is very accessible to Lausanne, about midway on the trail, or Milan for points further south.
As you might imagine, anyone following this trail today is a “pioneer.” Although village priests are generally curious and supportive, many are still unequipped to deal with overnight guests. Sometimes the most opulent cathedrals and richest parishes are less welcoming than the tiniest of crumbling village churches.
There’s nothing more disheartening on the trail than, after walking in the often brutal heat for eight hours, to arrive at an imposing church, present your credenziali to a smiling priest for its stamp, then be told “there’s no room at the inn.” It happens. Don’t be surprised when you’re told “so-and-so” town is just ten-kilometers away. Little do they realize that that means several more hours of trekking in near darkness. But this is the exception.
My fondest memories of the journey were nights spent practicing mangled Italian and awkward hand gestures with curious villagers. There was universal astonishment that someone would walk to Rome, a wide-eyed fascination, and genuine warmth you don’t find among jaded locals in major tourist destinations.
From the simple fruit peddler who wouldn’t accept payment for his apple, to the café owner who treated me to a steamy morning espresso, to the small town priest, his housekeeper and mother who treated my friend and I like royalty and wept when we left, to the local mayor who let me use the village’s sole Internet connection to check my e-mail, to the Sisters of San Guistiniana who took me in for the night and fed me when I could walk no farther, to the amiable WW II paratrooper who’d served with the American Allies who bought me a glass of vino to toast his comrades, these folks were a few of the unexpected treasures along the VF.
So who walks the Via Francigena today? Over four weeks on the trail, I met a total of six others: a Frenchman bicycling to Jerusalem and five German cyclists enroute to Rome.
What is it that attracts today’s pellegrinos to the VF?
It’s still a great odyssey. It’s a chance to shut out the distractions of a busy world. Opportunities for such peaceful reflection should improve with time, as the trail moves away from often-dangerous roads. The Association is working on it. However, be forewarned. Italians push their Fiats to the limit. Some stretches of the path will test your bravery, devotion and sanity.
But the country roads in France and well-marked trails in Switzerland and Southeast England are a pure delight. This is the way to steep in local culture-and travel across time.
The Via Francigena presents many opportunities to discover precious art and architecture, such as Siena’s magnificent marbled Duomo, or its neighboring living museums in Lucca and San Gimignano. It’s a chance to stroll ancient Roman roads. Explore castles, elaborate fountains, frescoes, sculpture and holy relics sequestered in tiny chapels along the way. Experience local festivals, such as the Choucroute (Sauerkraut) Celebration and local harvest celebrations.
Explore traditional Italian delicacies, from Pontremoli’s specialty, the wonderful morsels of earthy fungo (mushrooms) to Rome’s melt-in-your-mouth buffalo mozzarella. All the delicacies from your favorite cooking show are right there: from savory chestnuts at your feet simply for the gathering to the tart Gorgonzola pizzas and gooey fondue of Italy’s alpine north.
Of course, no sojourn would be complete without sampling the most incredible variety of wines. Sip rare local champagnes direct from their caves, savor deliciously chilled vino bianco at corner cafes from Aosta to the Ligurian Sea. Then continue your gourmet quest south with hearty Tuscan rossos, Chianti and refreshing Brunello of Montalcino, as you wend your way toward serene Lake Bolseno.
In Rome, one interesting way to end your journey is to attend the Pope’s public audience held each week. Even for me, a non-Catholic, it was an emotional avalanche. It’s an amazing contrast to walk alone past shepherds and their flocks one minute and emerge in St. Peter’s Square within the hour. Folks had come from around the world, but maybe I was the only pellegrino who’d walked there.
While facing St. Peter’s Basilica, visit the Association Via Francigena’s representative in the Vatican Post Office. There, you’ll receive a hearty welcome and Vatican postcard stamped with your day of arrival. Later, you might be eligible to receive a certificate in recognition of your journey.
Finally, leave yourself open to the “magic” of the experience, the inspiration, your silent companion along the way. Besides relics, relaxation, food and fresh air, you’ll return to your everyday life with an even more precious memento. You’ll change. Life will never be the same. And perhaps you will have found the answers you truly seek.
Buono viaggio! As the Italians say, “Sempre diretto!”
Resveratrol can provide significant health benefits Resveratrol is one of those healthy chemicals that occurs naturally in many plant foods. Technically it’s a nonflavonoid antioxidant that plants produce when they are under attack from bacteria, fungi or other pathogen. It can be commonly found in the skin of red grapes and by extension in red wine as well. It is also produced synthetically and sold as a nutritional supplement.
Laboratory tests using resveratrol on mice and rats have shown it to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and blood-sugar-lowering benefits, which are all major factors in heart disease. But, the question remains, “just how extensive are the health benefits to humans”?
Benefits of resveratrol
With red wine studies, part of the research being done to examine the “French Paradox,” researchers believe that resveratrol may be one of the key components in red wine that helps reduce bad cholesterol, and prevents blood clots as well as blood vessel damage. In fact, this naturally occurring chemical has been linked to reducing or even eliminating:
- All types of carcinogens
- Heart disease
- Risk of stroke
- The impact of radiation on the body
- Dysfunction at the cellular level
In addition, it has been found to:
It’s important to note that most of the research that’s been done with Reservatrol has been on animals and not on humans. In fact, in order to consume the same level of resveratrol used in the animal studies, a person would need to drink from 100 up to 1,000 bottles of red wine each day! These numbers make a good case for checking into the benefits of resveratrol supplements.
It’s been found that oral consumption of products containing resveratrol are well absorbed by humans, however the chemical is very quickly metabolized and eliminated from the body. This is one time when there’s virtually no such thing as “too much of a good thing,” especially since studies have not revealed any negative side effects.
How does it work? In a controlled environment, such as test tube testing, it’s been found that resveratrol neutralized free radicals as well as other oxidants, and inhibited the oxidation of low density lipoprotein or LDL. However, when consumed orally the levels of resveratrol found in humans are much lower than other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and uric acid.
In terms of benefits related to cancer, resveratrol has been identified as a chemical that inhibits proliferation of a variety of cancer cell lines in humans, such as the cancer cell lines related to stomach, colon, prostate, pancreatic, breast and thyroid cancers. In short, it appears to positively impact cancers caused by chemical carcinogens, but it does not seem to have as much impact on preventing the development of lung cancer, which is related to the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke.
How to add resveratrol to your diet
Foods containing resveratrol include grapes and of course red wine as noted above. In addition, grape juice, blueberries, cranberries, bilberries and even peanuts and peanut butter also contain the helpful antioxident. You can also take nutritional supplements to boost consumption of resveratrol. The supplements sold in the United States are made using extracts.
A word of warning one thing that’s important to remember is that since resveratrol can inhibit blood clotting, individuals who are taking blood thinners or anticoagulant drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter medications like aspirin, should consult their doctor before adding a resveratrol supplement to their diet.