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Save the Whales!
Posted by emcdonough, 2/14/2014 10:28:08 AM
"Save the Whales" is probably a phrase you have heard before and most likely brushed off as just another bumper sticker, lacking serious undertones. In reality, it is a very serious issue and everyone needs to take part in educating themselves and raising awareness in the history behind the phrase.

My recent enlightenment on this issue happened when I decided to watch the film Blackfish, a film that I sadly missed at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. I heard buzz about the film since it's premiere at the festival but was hesitant to watch it at first because I knew the subject of animal cruelty would be addressed. I finally made the decision to turn it on the other night while cooking dinner. While at first I wasn't fully paying attention, treating it as background noise, I soon became completely enveloped in the film.

The film documents the history of aquatic theme parks, more specifically MarineLand and SeaWorld, and their capture and treatment of Cetacean animals. To begin, it is important to stress just how intelligent these animals are. The film focuses on Orca's, also known as Killer whales, and with each piece of new information I found myself astounded. The brain of an Orca is identical to a human brain, except it has an additional lobe dedicated to emotions. Therefore, they have the same send of self and relationships as we do, but with more heightened emotions. They are in no way ignorant animals, unaware of their surroundings, solely fueled by instinct. In fact, they are exactly the opposite.

There is a great example of the strength of Orca relationships during the film when individuals speak of what happened when they were captured. MarineLand send out a team using a boat and helicopter to extract baby Orca's to bring back to the park. The boat fiercely followed a pod of whales that were trying to escape. When they came to a fork in the water, the Orca's broke off into two groups. The whales without young went to the right as a diversion and the whales with young went underwater and to the left. Unfortunately, the helicopter caught on to their plan and alerted the boat.

During the capture, the remaining Orca's stayed in the water near the boats crying out to their young. The men were astounded that they did not swim away. One particular man interviewed in the film who was present on that day said it was the most devastating thing he had ever witnessed, and while he continued with the job, he could not help from crying. He stated it was exactly like kidnapping a human child. What is even worse is, a mother and son Orca traditionally spend their entire lives together and he does not ever leave her side.

This tearing apart of the mother-child relationship is witnessed throughout the entire film. At the SeaWorld theme park, higher ups pay no mind to separating the mother Orca from a newborn if they feel it would make them more money to be put somewhere else. Whenever this occurred, trainers testified that the mother or child stays completely isolated in their new location, crying out loudly for hours, searching for their missing companion. They stated the sound was unlike one they had ever heard, and it was heartbreaking.

Besides the trauma of separation that occurs when animals are taken out of captivity, the conditions that they are placed in are so far from their natural habitat it is blood curdling. Imagine living out your entire life in a cup, your arms barely able to fully stretch to each side, just thinking about it makes you uncomfortable, right? Not to mention once they are placed in captivity their lifespan is cut in half and their dorsal fin collapses. That is the life that these poor animals lead, while SeaWorld and its supporters make false statements that the conditions are ideal and the whales are happy.

This lack of personal space causes the whales to vent their aggression through violent, aggressive acts towards other whales and also their trainers. This cabin fever has been the cause of many injuries and deaths. In the film, their is plenty of live footage of whales attacking each other, killing each other and also killing and injuring their trainers. SeaWorlds response to this? That the trainers are at fault.

And what is all this for? Money? A few tourist laughs? An attraction that involves keeping an animal prisoner in unfavorable conditions is certainly not something we should be supporting, especially when it is the cause of someone's death.

There is one Orca in particular named Tilikum that has lived in captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near Iceland when he was 2 years old, held in a cement tank for close to a year awaiting transfer and has been used to entertain tourists ever since. Furthermore, he is being used for reproductive purposes and has fathered the majority of new whales at the park. A normal person would ask, "Why on Earth would you want to create offspring using genes from a known killer?" Only SeaWorld has the answer to that question and they have refused any comment on the film and the questions it raises. 

Tilikum is being imprisoned for these purposes because he is 12,000 pounds which is considered a large whale and in America, the bigger the better. At SeaWorld, more pounds equals more money. Unfortunately, because of his lethal history, he is kept in solitary confinement in a dark, small pool; only let out a few minutes each day to bow at the crowd during one of SeaWorld's circus acts.

Below you will find a petition to free Tilikum from captivity. I encourage you to sign it and pass it along and to also watch the film Blackfish. Further information can be obtained from organizations such as Save the Whales and GreenPeace. I suggest doing a Google search of "Save the Whales" and see all the options available to support the conservation of these wonderful creatures. Every signature counts.

Petition to Free Tilikum:


Category: Specials
DIY Mason Jar Christmas Gift
Posted by emcdonough, 12/11/2013 09:16:31 AM

Christmas is in the air! For those that have just started their shopping, or are just wrapping things up, here is an effortless DIY gift for anyone on your list! Inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing, a Moon Jar (also known is a Dream Light), is unique and adds charm to ones home.

What is it you ask? It is a clouded vessel of dull light that is meant to mimic the light of the moon. It creates a relaxing ambience and is a great option for a night light.

Here is what you will need:
Modge Podge – either Gloss or Matte, depending upon the look you’re going for. I used gloss for mine.



Closed Vessel - I chose a blue Mason Jar

String of battery powered Christmas Lights – Make sure the battery pack fits through the lid of  your vessel!

Batteries – To power your Christmas lights

Hot Glue Gun & Hot Glue – To attach the Christmas Lights to the lid of a Mason Jar. Hot glue is not the only thing you could use to do this but I find it to be the most effective.

Step 1
: Paint the inside of the Mason Jar with the Modge Podge.

Step 2: Immediately fill the jar with glitter before the Modge Podge dries, put on the lid, and shake the jar so the glitter covers all sides.

Step 3: Pour out the excess glitter and allow the Mason Jar to dry with the lid off. I found mine didn’t fully dry until 24 hours later.

Step 4: Put batteries in the string of Christmas Lights, put the lights in the jar and super glue the battery pack to the lid.

Step 5: Turn Christmas Lights on and close jar on lid.


That’s it! You now have your own Moon Jar and a memorable DIY gift for friends, family and co-workers alike!


Category: Specials
Local Attraction - Corning Museum of Glass
Posted by emcdonough, 11/19/2013 09:00:22 AM

Although Corning is not exactly a local attraction for Rochester, the 1 and 1/2 hour day trip is definitely worth it! People come from all over the world to experience what the Corning Museum of Glass has to offer. The Corning Museum of Glass, CMOG, is home to the largest collection of glass in the world. The pieces held within its walls range back over 3,500 years to present day. The museum also has an adjacent studio that offers classes for students of all ages. Class options range from glassblowing to bead making to cold glass sculpting. I recently had the opportunity to attend a weekend glassblowing session and it was fantastic!

The class started off slow. The first two hours focused on teaching students how to hold their tools, gather glass from the furnace and be aware of their surroundings. Once students felt comfortable with the basics, they were allowed to independently create a glass flower – quite an object to start off with! With each object the same teaching method was applied; the instructor would make a sample to show the process then the students broke up into groups of 3 to each create their own version.

I truly admired the fact that the teachers allowed us to work so independently. It gave students the opportunity to really rely on themselves and absorb the skill; not something you always experience in a beginner class. I have some glassblowing training and my previous instructor did not let me hold the pipe alone and certainly did not allow me to gather my own glass from the furnace.

By the end of the weekend, a student walked away with a glass flower, snowman, paperweight, drinking glass and a wealth of new knowledge. Each piece was meant to teach the student a different glassmaking skill. The flower was meant to teach about manipulating glass, the snowman about rounding and smoothing glass, the paperweight about using molds and mixing colors and the drinking glass meant to teach how to blow a glass bubble and turn it into a vessel. As my instructor said, “You always remember your first bubble.”

The class was incredibly enjoyable and informative and students were very supportive of each other, always clapping when one finished a piece. It is hard not to bond with your fellow students when you are relying on them to shield your arm from the 1,000 degree glass you are molding! I encourage anyone who is nervous or does not feel physically able that they definitely are! The teachers are very accommodating and the age range in my session was 24 to 65 years old.

If you are interested in pursuing a class at the CMOG Studio, I highly suggest booking in advance. The classes only allow a few students and they fill up quickly. Please follow the link below for more information:

Category: Specials
City Dining Cards have come to Rochester!
Posted by emcdonough, 11/14/2013 12:50:32 PM

We are so excited that City Dining Cards have finally come to Rochester! If you haven't heard about them yet, they are the great new way to discover and enjoy your local restaurants and bars at a discounted rate. The packs first began in Buffalo in 2010 and since then have grown into thirteen cities around the world such as London, Chicago, Pittsburgh and New Orleans.

Dave Horesh, City Dining Cards regional manager, was quoted saying, "We have decks in cities like Philadelphia and Boston, and I think there are a lot of restaurants in Rochester that are on par with the big cities and if this a mechanism that the restaurants can use to bring somebody in that might otherwise be going to the mall to eat, then we're doing a good thing for small businesses in Rochester."

While the packs provide great discounts for the consumer, they also give back to the community but supporting local vendors and various charitable organizations. Each pack only promotes locally owned businesses, 5% of their Rochester sales go to Foodlink, Inc. and they are printed on eco-friendly FSC certified paper!

There are currently dining cards and drink decks available but there are also novelty items available such as Rochester Wrapping Paper, notebooks, 585 Fridge Phrase magnets, cutting boards and bottle openers.

A pack of City Dining Cards costs $20 and contains 50 cards each worth $10. Participating restaurants can be found on the City Dining Cards website and they include State Street Bar and Grill! The cards are available for purchase online until the end of 2013 and are valid until the end of 2014. 

A pack of City Drink Deck Cards costs $10 each and contains 25 cards each redeemable for a buy one get one drink offer. Same purchase and expiration rules apply. 

If you would like to purchase a pack of City Dining Cards, or any of their other items, please follow the link below.
Category: Restaurants
DIY - Thanksgiving Banner
Posted by emcdonough, 11/13/2013 08:49:14 AM
The countdown to Thanksgiving has begun! If you are the host this year, you officially have 15 days to prepare for your guests. There is a lot to think about when hosting the Thanksgiving Feast - food, drinks, table settings, decorations, etc. I recently have been researching different decorations and table settings to inspire our followers design decisions this holiday season. There is one banner in particular that I really enjoyed and I decided to try to recreate it myself. The final outcome of my banner is not identical to the image, I chose to add my own twist and you can too!

The top image is the inspiration and the bottom image is my interpretation - paper Turkey is optional ;-)

To create the banner, you need several things:
Thick white paper
Black ribbon
A glue gun
Decorative ribbon for the embellishments

1. Print out or draw your letters onto your thick paper, the font I used is called "Didot"

2. Cut around the letters in whatever shape you choose, I created my template in Photoshop first and then placed each letter in the template and printed them so that I could just cut around the shape

3. Starting at 20 inches in, begin to attach your letter cutouts to the ribbon

4. Using your glue gun, glue your black ribbon to the top edge of your letter cutout, I spaced each cutout 5 inches apart on the ribbon

5. Repeat until each letter is glued to the black ribbon

6. Clip a clothespin to left and right corner of each cutout (mine are mini so you can't see them too well, but they're there!)

7. Cut your decorative ribbon in 30 inch strips and attach to each end of each banner

8. Then hang and enjoy!

Please note that using a curling iron to curl your ribbon will not work! I learned that the hard way :-)
Category: Events, Wedding Planning
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