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Tuesday, May 29, 2007


On September 12, the day after our country was attacked, Carolyn Blashek tried to sign up for the armed services and was denied. She decided she had to do "something" and so she began in a small way, collecting donations and sending care packages and letters to our troops abroad. From that inspiration, came Operation Gratitude, now on all-volunteer organization that continues to support and lend comfort to our troops. To date, they have sent out an phenomenal 223,000 care packages to the troops ... and counting.

On Saturday morning, my husband and I volunteered for the first time at the California Armory not far from our home to "work the assembly line" in the ongoing effort. When we walked into the big factory facility, we were greeted with hugs and friendly introductions. The place is one well-oiled machine, set up to put out more than 8,000 care packages in one day through the efforts of volunteers like myself. We were shown what to do, my husband volunteering to do some heavy lifting of boxes, while I worked with approximately fifty others, putting batteries, then bags of Corn Nuts into the boxes that were people-powered, moving the boxes from one station to another. Once the boxes were filled, they were people-powered speed-wrapped and then labeled.
The neat thing is that these care packages go to individual soldiers. They get to enjoy items from home, like popcorn, dvd's, much needed batteries, new socks, candy, Girl Scout cookies, toothpaste, hand cream, TY toys for the children, among other things. There are 60 sponsors who donate a minimum of 10,000 items each, the huge armory walls are lined with donations, and I stood in the middle of all this, thrilled and humbled to be a part of such a good cause. Here's just a small sampling of what the assembly line looks like -- there's about 300 people working together at one time.
After a few hours, announcements were made. "One thousands boxes packed and ready to ship" and by the end of the day, we had reached our goal of 8,000 boxes. The problem facing Operation Gratitude now, is the mailing costs. Since the Post Office raised their rates, it now costs this non-profit charity $10.00 a package to send overseas. That's $80,000.00 in shipping costs alone for the day I worked. Here's a picture of a Marine getting the news that he "won" a brand new car which he'll receive when he returns home. He's to be married soon.
It's something I wish I'd known about before as we
have always sent our own care packages when we knew of a particular soldier's needs. Now, we'll be joining in Operation Gratitude on a regular basis and we're happy to do it.
If you'd like to send a donation to help with shipping costs or know someone who can, this is definitely a worthy, noble cause. Information below.
MEDIA ALERT: Operation Gratitude Fourth Annual Patriotic Drive Kicks Off During Memorial Day Weekend
Organization to send 50,000 Care Packages to Support Our Troops
During the Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-27, Operation Gratitude, the nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, will commence its Fourth Annual Patriotic Drive, to assemble and mail over 50,000 care packages to reach deployed troops by July 4th.
Operation Gratitude's ( ) mission is to put a smile on a service member's face, lift morale, and express the appreciation of the American people for the sacrifices of the men and women defending our freedom. To date, Operation Gratitude has sent more than 211,000 care packages to troops deployed in harm's way. For more information on Operation Gratitude's program to Support Our Troops, click here: Operation Gratitude
On Saturday May 26 and Sunday May 27, members of Operation Gratitude's 3500+ Volunteer Corps, along with Military personnel will start the Drive to assemble and ship at least 50,000 Patriotic Care Packages filled with Flash Drives, Phone Cards, DVDs and CDs, Mr. Potato Heads, Beanie Babies, Candy, Gum, Cough Drops, Girl Scout Cookies, Bandana Cool-Ties, Skin Care Products, Coffee, Greeting Cards, Batteries, Energy Drinks, T-Shirts, Socks and assorted Snacks. During the Press Conference scheduled at 11:30 am on Saturday May 26, the organization's Founder, Carolyn Blashek, will reveal the exciting new item created exclusively for our troops to be shipped in all Operation Gratitude care packages this year!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Double Finales this week! Who are you voting for?

I'm making a prediction based simply on my own personal favorites. Yes, I admit I'm hooked on Dancing with Stars and Idol. And I do have my favorites.

I've loved every minute of Dancing with Stars! It's entertaining and I can sit back and marvel at how far the celebrity competitors have come. In the scheme of life it's not important, but I don't apologize. It's my hour or two of enjoyment away from the computer. And those are the ONLY reality shows I do watch. I enjoy Smallville, Grey's, Lost and Desperate. With books of authors we automatically buy, we call them Auto-buys, so with TV shows I automatically watch, I call them Auto-View. My DVR is set for those shows.

So, here's Apolo. For a guy who never danced before, his competitor spirit shined thru this season. He's got good moves, on the dance floor and in the short track arena. I love the athletic mentality of no defeat, no surrender. Each week, he and Julianna came back with dynamite performances. Julianna is an amazing choregrapher! I think they are the youngest couple from all seasons -- and I'd be surprised if they didn't win. Kudos to Joey Fatone and Leila Ali too - they're great entertainers as well.

Here's Apolo Anton Ono competing as a short track speed skater.
He's got my vote!

Now on to American Idol. I have to say I was stunned when Melinda Doolittle was voted off, but I know she'll be around. She's too talented not to be in the public eye. I'll buy any record she makes. And equally, I enjoy Jordin Sparks. She's multi-talented and has a broad range. Not to mention, she's adorable, vivacious and personable. She's young too -- at 17 I don't think I've seen a more poised young woman. So my vote and my prediction goes to Jordin.

She's the Las Vegas odds on favorite right now. But who knows -- this year's talent and the ratings for Idol have been mediocre. Except for a few like Melinda, Jordin and Blake, there hasn't been too much to get excited about.
So, who has your vote?

Monday, May 21, 2007

"Non-writing" News from a Proud Aunt!

I have to say I'm thrilled that my nephew is helping UC Irvine win the most games in their baseball history this season. Here's the little boy whom I'd watch play T-Ball, now contending for a College Conference Championship, his team ranked #10 in the Nation. In high school, Eric broke loads of records, won MVP awards, batted 480 and and pitched an outstanding game to win the High School City Championship in Dodger Stadium. Now, he's pitching with the big boys -- a Freshman who'd fought his way to the position of starting pitcher toward the end of this season and is yeilding a 3-0 record! It's a joy to watch him play.
Eric Pettis #55 UC Irvine

Saturday, May 12, 2007

New Contest and Happy Mother's Day!

Be sure to enter my new Between the CEO'S Sheets Contest to win a $20.00 Borders Gift Card and two selections from my backlist of Desires! Contest ends July 1st. Just click here
to ENTER and good luck! I really just love this cover!

And wishing you and all the devoted, hard-working, loving, kind, compassionate, diligent, beautiful mothers out there - a joyful day
You deserve it!

Friday, May 11, 2007


If you received my newsletter yesterday, then you'd know that my next Desire, June's BETWEEN THE CEO'S SHEETS is set on Catalina Island. My hero, Wade Beaumont is a yachtman and sailed over to the island on business, with Gina Grady, his one-time love, who is now his personal assistant.

I've visited Catalina Island many times
both in my youth with the Girl Scouts and as an
adult, riding over on the Catalina Express, enjoying the 22 mile boat ride to come upon the cresent-shaped bay with its small strip of beaches. I have fond memories of Catalina, and I think many southern Californians hold the island with possessive pride in their hearts.

As you can see, the pics of Catalina Island are amazing, a virtual paradise just minutes from the big city, the harbor, Avalon, named for an Arthurian legend, means just that, "paradise". The turqouise waters in the bay are so filled with marine life that it's been called southern California's largest aquarium.

But now, as I watch the news reports on TV this morning, I see that the island is engulfed in flames, a wildfire breaking out, causing 3300 inhabitants along with tourists to be evacuated, waiting in long lines on the shore to be taken to safety. Ferry-like boats filled with fire engines and paramedic equipment have made their way ashore as the local small island fire-fighting forces were simply overwhelmed by the intensity of the fire. Being so far from the mainland, has made fire-fighting efforts difficult to say the least. I can only hope that the fires are contained quickly and that the island is not destroyed. I pray for the safety of all inhabitants and the firefighters and first response teams on the scene.