Love Ideas



We all love hand-made personalized gifts.  They are very special and one of a kind.  We think of the giver every time we use them or see them.

One of them is my daughter’s creation.  She makes beautiful crafted all-purpose cards especially for me that I save for special weddings and occasions. She makes the cards using good white stationery stock and flower and botanical prints by Pierre-Joseph Redoute which she orders online. She uses a glue gun and craft-store scalloped scissors to cut the print. The cards are blank inside for a personal sentiment, but the touch I love most is that she glue-guns a ribbon on both front and back of the card which is tied in a bow and closes and opens the card. She also makes mailing labels for envelopes matching the flower on the card and sometimes I get an added boost of matching printed address labels. These cards are special and people have called me to thank me for the card as much as the gift.

The other gift that people and myself find handy is making personal-use business cards. You can buy the packaged plain business cards at a store like Office Max - I bought a package on sale - 1,000 cards for ten dollars and I use the matte finish. My own card has a clip-art picture of a house and our name, address and phone number. There is room to put an email address, too. For close friends, I add my cell phone - that’s about all you can add and still have it look nice. For gifts for friends, I put a clip art of their passion - a flower, a heart or something meaningful and personal to them; or their initials, and add their address and phone number and email address. You can find business card holders on sale and when i do, I buy a bunch. They are usually around $3.00. I print up an amount to fit in the holder - usually it’s two sheets worth - which hold 10 cards each - or 20 cards to a holder. If the recipient loves them and uses them, I keep the info saved in my Word program and can easily print more if they need them or change their information. It’s only the cost of the ink and couple of sheets to do that. I use mine all the time, when I meet people and they want either my phone or email, it’s easier to give them a card. Also, in a crowded store, when the salesperson asks for phone and/or address, I just put the card in front of them so the whole waiting line doesn’t have to hear it.

The third gift is my personal favorite; a memory book for children or grandchildren. They have some really nice ones for $10; make sure it is a nice sturdy one. When our family all relocated around the same time, I found tons of old report cards, school pictures, mementos, certificates and cards that I had saved in the attic. When we all packed things up, no one wanted the ‘junk’ as they called it. I put everything in one big box and moved it with me. After the move, I took the ‘junk’ box out, which were really family memories of the kids’ growth and accomplishments. I sorted them into 3 piles, one for son and one for daughter–and one for combined memories of their formative years (grandparents, parents, pets, house pictures, etc.)  I recopied some of them to a smaller size so the book would not be so voluminous!  The whole project took me 3 months and I worked on it a little each day: I have to say I looked forward to creating it each day, reliving those memories.  Also:

• In the beginning of each book, pictures of grandparents & parents weddings, dates, pictures, and houses. I brought the pictures I wanted to use to a store to copy them or you can copy them at home if your copier does a good job. It might cost about the same.

• Both books had the same beginnings of history until it came to the part when each was born.

• The next portion was of their own history from pregnancy to birth including photos. Then their school years. I selected specific award letters, or special reports or school activities about and copied and reduced them so I could fit many in places on the pages.

• I copied quotes and special readings from the internet and pasted them alongside pictures and events and awards.

• Each portion of ‘personal’ notes were just for them personally.

• The last section was ‘where they were now’ and included degrees, special interests, new houses, new babies, etc.

It helped my own project that I sent a book to my sister for her to make for her daughter. She and I shared this memory-lane project and she found pictures I didn’t have and vice versa. I was able to discard the ‘junk’ box once I had copied and pasted all the memories in the book. Although I knew both my son and daughter would enjoy receiving this ‘memory’ and collection of family pictures, I had no idea how revered and special it would become to them. They showcase them and take these books out all the time to look at old pictures–aunts and uncles and old cars and houses we lived in.

The last gift selection is not a DIY, but a gift idea. Hand-made items such as needlepoint and yes, they are special gifts from the heart and hands, and cherished. I do not do needlepoint, crochet or knit. What I do, is attend our own as well as other church craft fairs where neighbors and friends portray their handiwork for sale at most reasonable prices. I have purchased a hand-knit sweater ($8.00) and a matching shawl ($8.00); hand-knit bags ($10.00) and many other lovely scarves, aprons, baby clothes, blankets, home and holiday gifts for $10 and under. Don’t pass by church craft sales - stop and shop; they are one of a kind and professionally hand-made. These ladies know their trade.  Happy gifting!

© Marie Coppola Revised December 2016




As an Human Resource (HR) administrator, I became aware of many office "relationships".  Although it is estimated that 1/3 of office relationships end in marriage, they rarely did in our company  and most of them ended as a mini-soap opera which usually had high ratings for as long as it lasted. Even after the 'in-house general public' lost interest in the details, it still resounded in the halls at mention of a name:

"Is Hector* in Finance still after Giselle* in Graphics?"

Gossip dies slowly. Even after people leave the company, their names echo in the halls. And at lunch. Or in meetings.

It truly is not a good idea to date at the office. We are there to work, and budding relationships interfere with that mindset. If one has the misfortune to actually be in the department of the 'lovebirds', it can cause tension, stress and bad feelings amongst the group.

Especially if Giselle* takes longer lunch breaks with Hector*, or if Hector goes by her desk or office ten times in one hour.

And if Hector has supervision over Giselle, anything he does can be construed as favoritism. "Was Giselle's raise higher than mine?" "I think Giselle had more days off than I did," or "Giselle spends a lot of time of the phone with Hector while WE are we doing her work!" Infatuation or love does funny things to people. And love is better pursued out of the office than in the office. It simply does not belong there.

Many employees, in counseling conversations would confess their 'office' romance - perhaps because as HR administrator, this information is confidential and not to be repeated. Here are some dark aspects of a company or work romance. The situation is not an actual one but and been changed, but basically is the same idea.

An unattached department head's interest in an unattached subordinate caused a discriminatory problem and charge that she favored 'him' by giving him a promotion that had not been 'posted'. "'He" was given special training and seminars to gain the position," that was not posted nor offered to them". "'He' was given 'special projects'" and his car was seen overnight at her house.

Other details and allegations were made. The new manager eventually was transferred to another department and the department head was relocated. HR offered the remaining department employees further training and education.

The reason why many companies have rules against relationships in the office is due to facts similar to the scenario above. It is not uncommon. If the department head is worth keeping, they have to relocate her. The same with the man in his new role as a manager. That means juggling departments and groups and office space and many other details that can be costly to the company.

If they are not worth keeping, they may be let go and they might turn around and sue the company. The co-workers might sue the company for discrimination. Companies do not like lawsuits. This scenario costs lots of money and time - and companies are in the business to make money, not spend it on employees' personal lives or trying to right personal wrongs. As a result, they make rules against relationships in the office and sometimes banning married couples working in the same department.

Companies also experience work violence which, unfortunately, is also not uncommon. Threats or vindictiveness against an ex-love interest are out there. Some even experience bodily threats and/or shootings. Love or lost-love are strong emotions that can be triggered if the stress of seeing that person every day is heightened in drama. The whole department - no, make that the whole company - can be targeted and put at risk.

Be friendly at work, but not too friendly. Companies have lawful access to your emails so keep them business-like and not sappy love notes. You could be admonished for it. They have the right to do so. And who wants their personal life to be the talking points of the day.   If you do end up in a work relationship, take it away from the office and not in the office.  The best advice is: "Leave your personal life at home and focus on your job."  It could end in marriage OR unemployment.

*Names and situations are not true identities nor true examples.

Marie Coppola © Revised  May 2015

"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." ~Phyllis Theroux

Changes in the world aren't limited to fast-evolving technology. Many people communicate today by sending email or texting messages. What impact do have these forms of communication have on our interpersonal skills today and how do they change our relationships?

The increase in text messaging has increased over the past few years. It's quick, hip and fast. Emails are similar. You get one and instantly return a reply just as quickly. You get right to the point and feel that you have "communicated". Most times it's a short reply answering what the e-mailer asked or a brief acknowledgement that you received it; a few sentences that don't seem to convey or warrant a thought process.

The thought behind text-written sentences is hidden even more by the cryptic codes and abbreviations that texters and even those using IM, SMS, emails, cell phones, iPhones, Blackberries, etc., all use when sending brief messages. Acronyms play a big role and this "shorthand, online jargon, and leetspeak" are a language onto themselves. "Emotions" can be expressed usually by smiley face emoticons or "shouting" which is not proper etiquette - expressed by typing in ALL CAPS. For example, I was waiting at the store, and YOU NEVER SHOWED UP. 🙁

Imagine Robert Browning sending text love messages to Elizabeth Barrett Browning when he became interested in her poems. What if Robert had texted to Elizabeth: "CUL8R CUZ ILY 4EAE" which means for those who don't text, "See you later because I love you forever and ever." I wonder if their relationship would have progressed into one of the most famous courtships in literature history.

What has happened to handwriting as a communicative tool? It's a sad fact today that children usually are not taught cursive writing in schools. USA Today reports that penmanship is left behind as states assign dominate class time for literacy ~~  handwriting is not a priority. Many children today cannot read handwriting let alone write it. Although 90 percent of teachers surveyed said that they do teach handwriting, they say they spend 60 minutes a week or 15 minutes a day teaching it.

Anyone who has been taught the Palmer method of handwriting spent more time than that learning to write. The Palmer Method was developed by Austin Norman Palmer around 1888 and became the most popular handwriting system in the early 1900s. It lasted until displacement by the movement to teach printing instead of cursive as the dominant handwriting style for students. And they all print today.

Besides being a deterrent in not being able to sign and write out a check or sign a will, handwriting is a personal signature reflection of a person. What would handwriting experts do without them?

The lost art here is the personal, intimate handwritten note or letter. There are directives today in busness to add a special touch to your customers so that a 'relationship' is formed for future or referral business. In these down economy times, an added word of concern or personalization makes you feel that someone in business is looking out for your welfare. Notes or brief letters to customers have become an 'in' thing to do. They do make a difference even though you are aware that it is a business ploy since a handwritten note on your birthday or on a holiday adds a specialness even to the business relationship.

Even more so is this intimacy enjoyed through people we love as well as friends, acquaintances or budding relationships. A hand-written note is a personal reflection from someone expressly centered on you.

 A posted hand-written letter received by you can lift your spirits on a congratulatory event, enjoying appreciative thanks for something, an invitatin to a special gathering, or commisserating with something you have lost. You might have a milestone birthday or anniversary, have been recognized for something out of the ordinary, or simply receive something that someone thought you might want to know about. When you receive these special remembrances, you usually leave them out on the mantel for some time and relive the special, good feeling you got when you received it. As Liz Carpenter remarked, "What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters. You can't reread a phone call".

There are many reasons to revive letter writing. Anyone who has letters from a loved one tied together with a ribbon, or a shoebox of notes and letters from the past, or letters written during a separation relive the experience of visiting them once again. I save every handwritten note that was ever written to me. A few were the last communication I received from a person, and some were recognition laurels I didn't realize I had done and some were silly, past experiences that still bring a smile to my face. They are all special to me.

"What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp". ~Author Unknown

There is hope in bringing back handwriting as the Palmer method is experienceing renewed attention. Because the Palmer method has a focus on shoulder and arm movements, it is helpful for many with limited movement of the fingers.working in facilitated communication for the disabled. The focus on shoulder and arm movements, it is helpful for many with limited movement of the fingers.

Perhaps, too, it will help others with limited use of conversational communication to again express words of intimacy.

"The best time to frame an answer to the letters of a friend, is the moment you receive them. Then the warmth of friendship, and the intelligence received, most forcibly cooperate". ~William Shenstone

© Marie Coppola May 2013



Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them,and they bless you, the giver.” Barbara De Angelis

How do YOU communicate kindness and love?

No, we’re not talking about greeting cards here. Although, Hallmark makes a good profit on all those cards most of us send to loved ones. Just for the greeting card record, here is a list of the top 5 holidays, excluding Christmas, for sending greeting cards:

#1: Valentine’s Day -144 million greeting cards (It’s also the 2nd most celebrated holiday in the U.S. after Christmas)

#2: Mother’s Day - 133 million cards

#3: Father’s Day - 94  million cards

#4; Easter - 54 million cards

#5: Halloween - 20 million cards

Sending greeting cards can express the card’s sentiments for you - but you can communicate love and kindness in other ways. Here are some ways to give the best you have because you care.

1) Visit a friend in need, who could really use a visit and LISTEN to what he or she is telling you. Just listening, without interrupting, is one of the best ways to care about someone. Don’t offer advice or opinions. Just listen.

2) If someone tells you a juicy tidbit of gossip, don’t repeat it. Let it die with you. Gossip is hurtful and serves no purpose to repeat it. The old adage, ‘Don’t believe anything you hear and half of what you see’ is a good one.

3) Make a phone call to an ill, homebound person and just say hello. It will mean much to them and willl uplift them. Better yet, stop in and see them - and bring them a treat; a flower or a sweet. Or bring along some home-made chicken soup. The real treat is seeing you and having company.

4) Help out a frazzled mom and offer to take her kids to the library or some other function. It’s an hour or two out of your time; it will mean the world to her.

5) Visit one of the nursing homes and bring some travel toiletries or small gifts. Some of the live-ins there may not have had a visitor like you for years.

6) Listen patiently when your next-door senior neighbor complains yet again about barking dogs. It may be the only communication he has had all day.

7) Give the woman in church who is celebrating her 80th birthday - a hug. She may not have been hugged in a long time. It’s a gift she will remember. Elderly seniors who live alone are usually in need of affection and hugs.

8) Write a heartfelt letter to someone who has done a kindness for you. Don’t email or call your thank you. Write him or her a note or letter - hand-written messages are becoming a rarity - and are special to the receivers.

9) Invite a recent widow or widower over for dinner. They are not used to eating alone and will welcome the invitation.

10) Check your pantry for extra cans that may be expiring in the next months. Donate them to a Helping Hand or Outreach program. These organizations pass foodstuffs quicker than they will expire. You may end up throwing them away — and someone will be extremely grateful for them.

11) Surprise a special child or your own or grandchild and plan a drop-in lunch visit at their school. Watch their eyes light up when they see you walk in. Small children thrive when you show them special attention.

12) Valentines come in packages and contain just a happy greeting - no mushiness. Buy a couple of packs and send them to everyone you know who is alone, divorced or widowed. Valentine’s Day can be a lonely one for singles and unattached folks. It will uplift them. And you, too.

Small acts of kindness may be the best that you can give.  - it costs very little when you care and share your love.

© Marie Coppola,  January  2017 revised