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Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

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October Thoughts

b2ap3_thumbnail_2015-10-13-12.01.57_resized.jpgOctober is the month that my thoughts are drawn to expecting cooler weather and expecting seasonal change. Because I live in a very warm climate, cooler weather means getting outside and walking more.  Then my memories go back to 2008 and the year my close cousin told me she had just discovered she had breast cancer. That was the year I got the sudden impulse to sign up for the three day Breast Cancer walk in a nearby city.  I remember thinking that there was no way I could ever raise the $2,200 to actually qualify for the walk.  I remember the shock and surprise when people began to donate and help.  I remember the new friends I met as I trained for months prior to the walk.  And I remember the field full of tents where we camped, the blisters, the crowds along the way, the final ceremony in the rain.

All of this was nothing compared to the memories my cousin had of her struggle through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.  Do you have someone that the subject of breast cancer brings to your mind? Perhaps it is you?  October is awareness month and I have become aware of the television commercials about the fight against cancer.  So many people are affected by this disease that it is almost a universal fight, drawing people to lend their support to research, and to the encouragement of our survivors.  

Apple Awards is a supporter of breast cancer research, having developed the pink crystal apple award.  A percentage of proceeds from sales of the pink apple are donated to the cause.  Do you know a donor, a fund raiser, a survivor who deserves to be rewarded for their efforts?  Check the website for this beautiful piece of crystal as a lasting memorial for those October memories....  I haven't done a walk like this since.


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Business Serving Business with Technology


Isn't it nice when people get along and help each other by sharing their talents? (Think how you would like your kids to act...) One great example of this is Apple Awards business relationship with Norvado, Northwest Wisconsin's premiere local broadband technology provider. Their services keep Apple Awards computers online receiving your orders and those VoiP phone systems taking your calls. You can visit their website at or like their facebook page at 

Recently Apple Awards was able to reciprocate in the technology sharing by helping Norvado honor one of their board of directors, retiring after 39 years of service.  Howard Sibbald received a full color plaque fashioned by Apple Awards new UV printer. The printing process used on this plaque is a thick UV ink that is cured with a UV light. The ink hardens to become virtually indestructible. It also withstands almost all cleaning solvents and up to five years of outside exposure and adheres to most substrates. The process produces incredible resolution with crisp and brilliant colors. High quality logos and photographs may be beautifully recreated on name badges, plaques, signs, tiles and more.





Congratulations to Mr. Sibbald for his years of service! Thank you Norvado for permission to use this story, ... and for getting along so well.


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Lighting the Way


I've had a love of lighthouses for years.  I know it's a common obsession that many people have.  Souvenir shops anywhere near water have lighthouse books, pictures, figures, night lights, calendars, you name it...  I'm not quite that bad, having only six or seven collectibles on that theme that I treasure for one reason or another. Most of my fascination with lighthouses is the underlying message that they stand for, that of caring enough to warn.  There are many known dangers in our world and we have a desperate need for lighthouses of all kinds, not just those on the water. To me, lighthouses stand for that larger picture.20150705_133045

Lately I was able to visit the Alki Point Lighthouse.  It's in Seattle and I've tried to tour it before but was never there on the right day.  Tours are on the weekends between 10 am and 3:30 pm, whenever a group collects, and on my most recent visit I was able to connect with one.  The lighthouse is fully automated now, even to the changing of light bulbs, but the tours are conducted by a small cadre of Coast Guard Auxiliary who proudly usher people around and explain the historical aspects.

Alki Point juts out from West Seattle into Puget Sound near shipping lanes and early on the need was discovered to have a warning there.  It started with one landowner who decided to hang a lantern on a pole each night - probably got tired of cleaning up his beach after shipwrecks.  The land was eventually purchased by the government.  As the story goes the price was $9,999.99, the amount that could be spent without legislative approval at that time.  The property now has two residences that house Coast Guard officials and their families, the lighthouse and small storage buildings.  It is fenced with a security system.


At Apple Awards the lighthouse principle and spirit is recognized in a special way.  Having a collection of clip art and award products on which that clip art can be engraved, Apple Awards makes it easy to customize the perfect lighthouse recognition product for the business person, mentor or teacher who has been there to light the way.  Click the image below for details on this award.

crystal round award 16D.jpg 

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Summer Recognition

b2ap3_thumbnail_Facebook-20150712-090850.jpgOrganized sports may be experiencing a temporary lull. Business may be booming and too busy (tourist season) or flat and coasting (not tourist season). Even if this is the case, summer has its moments that need to be recognized and applauded, with or without an award. See if you qualify. 

10 points for each of the following: (200 total points) 


  • You took your family on vacation.
  • You went for a day or more without digital connection of any kind.
  • You endured 90 degrees temps without AC for two or more hours without saying “I'm so hot.”
  • You have eaten half a watermelon in one sitting.
  • You have tried a new summer sport or activity.
  • You watched fireworks on the 4th (July, of course).
  • You have gotten a shorter haircut.
  • You have worn shorts or a bathing suit more than ten times.
  • You have been in a boat.
  • You have watched an early sunrise.
  • You have watched a late sunset.
  • You have had a long, relaxed conversation with a family member.
  • You have read a book.
  • You have washed your athletic shoes (they should need it!)
  • You aren't counting the days until school starts.
  • Your weight has stayed steady, or decreased.
  • You have beach sand in your car.
  • You have eaten an ice cream cone (doesn't count if in a dish)
  • You have taken a picture of the most gorgeous flowers you've ever seen.
  • You have been outside and completely wet (rain, pool, lake, doesn't matter) 


So how did you do?

Less than 50      Hey, it's summer already! Get going.

50 – 100             Better. You're trying, but don't brag.

110-150             You're having a pretty good summer, and still have a month and a half left

Above 150          You rock! There should be an award with your name on it, seriously!





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Who do YOU know?

I have a dear friend who is a high school guidance counselor. She has had this job over the years through many changes of administration and policy. Each year she has a large number of students to meet and encourage. My first thought is that she is there to help them plan for the future – know their strengths, choose a career goal, choose their next educational endeavor. For some, this is what she does. For others she hopes first to keep them in high school long enough to graduate. Over the brief time she has them she must develop a relationship and ask for their trust. She holds her breath as she watches them navigate their own personal mine fields – homelessness, abuse and neglect, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, ridicule, promiscuity, anxiety. Often policy changes leave her with more than she can possibly do and fewer tools with which to do anything. Their situations are on her mind far past the dismissal of the last class.

b2ap3_thumbnail_20150522_141415-1-1.jpgI know a woman who was an elementary school teacher in a small private school. Her example was that of great caring for her students, their families and their greatest good. She dealt with the problems of modern families, showing them compassion, integrity and principles of truthfulness with love. When an administrator was needed for the school, she accepted the position and added that to her teaching role. She left only to become caretaker for her elderly mother. When that was no longer necessary she could have retired, but returned to teaching.

I know a man who teaches music in a high school for gifted students. He holds a second job in music ministry for his church but that doesn't keep him from spending time with his students and knowing them personally. He is fun, energetic, smart and kind and for all of that his students love him. He pushes them to excellence in their band competitions, he spends hours on their special projects and teaches them to view music with high regard. He also takes their problems home at the end of the day. His church family often hears requests to pray for his students.

 It is the end of the school year. May is teacher appreciation month. Who do you know who needs to be affirmed, encouraged or thanked for being who they are and doing what they do in the field of education? What will you do about it?

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Honor a Teacher this Month

Teachers come in all sizes, all ages, from all countries.  They teach so many different things it would be hard to name them all.  In our hemisphere there are many countries having a public school year that ends in the spring, specifically May or June, and here we are in that very time.  Graduation ceremonies are being held and both students and teachers are being honored for their work, and along that line, I have an education story to share with you. It is special to me and you will see why.

For several years I have been getting acquainted with an organization called Asia's Hope.  They establish homes for orphans and children at risk in India, Thailand and Cambodia.  With help from a variety of private sponsors they have built several campuses consisting of from five to ten orphan homes and a school.  Each home houses a family unit of 20 -24 children, a house parent couple and one or two additional caretakers.  The children have this family for life and part of what is provided for each child is a good education.  

On the Asia's Hope campus where I have visited, early grades are taught on premises but older students go to public high school and then to university or trade school, much like the pattern in the United States.  This May many are finishing their school year and getting their class ranking. One home in particular has sent me a "glowing" report of the progress several of their students have made. Three of their students placed 2nd in their classes of over 40, and two placed 3rd in their classes.

Since all of these children are serious students and aspire to be the hope of their country for the future, one of the things they are learning is the English language.  When I first met them in 2011 most spoke no English at all and it was difficult to communicate with them in any depth.  Hugs and smiles were about as far as we could go.  This has gradually changed over the years. Numerous ones are fluent and most understand well even if they cannot speak.  The final announcement from this home was of special note.

"One of our young students has been working to teach English to others at a local school."

A new teacher has been born! This young lady wants to study nursing at the university some day but for now she is sharing her knowledge of English with younger students, which is quite an accomplishment.  Imagine yourself learning a second language well enough to teach it to others.  I am so proud of her!


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The Montana Challenge


A while ago I spent some time in the conference room at Apple Awards and had a look around at the displays on the walls.  This one caught my interest.  It had some statistics for the past year that showed the growth of the business in numbers of new orders and orders in total.  It was definitely an encouraging display for the Apple employees, a confirmation that something is being done right at their workplace.  Those whose business is to recognize others also appreciate that kind of recognition for their own efforts, yes? 

Notable about this display is that orders have been received from every one of the 50 states. That alone is an accomplishment and has a lot to say about the internet, marketing strategy and longevity.  The second notable thing is the number of new orders in 2014, and again, there were new orders in every state.  But my attention was drawn to a large state on the northern border where there were only 2 new orders.  It is true that demographics have something everything to do with this fact but, hey Montana, where are you?  Here is the challenge.  Montana has schools, businesses, and people crying out for recognition so let's see if you can add to that number this year.  I might add that Wyoming, Nevada and South Dakota were not terribly impressive in their contribution to the culture of recognition either.  But change is in the air, right?  




The overall pace at Apple Awards has picked up as their busiest season is getting in full swing.  The increased workload is being countered with the addition of two new employees.  Pam is new to the administrative team and will be busy getting an overview of the various roles.  Toni is already hard at work in the production department, working an order of crystal apples to be etched.  Both of you, welcome to Team Apple! 

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March Madness

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_20150222_082216_410.jpgFor well over a decade Apple Awards has had the privilege of providing awards for the Great Northwest Basketball  league and the hundreds of teams involved in this great organization. Each year they host the Wisconsin State tournament for grades 5 through 8. We have been supplying the awards for this tournament every year since its inception.

This year we are proud to offer them a whole new design, compliments of our new direct color UV Printer. This printer offers an incredibly high quality, full color printing on virtually any substrate including these solid walnut WI shaped plaques and medallions.


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Birkie 2015!

It's almost here! February 19-22, 2015 the races will be run!

I was in Hayward, Wisconsin last week and ski fever was in full swing.  The 50k American Birkebeiner creates a lot of excitement at Apple Awards too since they are located in Hayward and are among its supporters.  This race has been described as a form of citizen olympics because it is open to anyone who wants to compete, from countries all around the world.  It has grown from 30 some skiers the first year to over 10,000 and is a major winter event for the small northern Wisconsin town. 


It's also described as a "lifestyle" that gets people on the Birkie Trail in all four seasons - walking, snowshoeing, skiing, and biking on the associated single track trails as well as the main thoroughfare.  Local residents not only keep the trail groomed and ready but also enjoy it's use as members of the trail association.  My niece and nephew ski the trail regularly with the high school ski team and their parents, owners of Apple Awards, are avid skiers as well.  Last week the discussion was all about snow, and the hope was that more would come before the race.  

To share the excitement with all Apple Awards's clients, Dennis asked that we highlight this year's race in a blog post.  For any of you who want a quick four minute taste of last year's course, you can get it by clicking here.  As I researched the race on Youtube I found there was no way I could stop at four minutes.  I found a video of the 2013 race, the whole first half, with over two hours of snowy woods and thousands of people making their way up and down the hills taken from a hat cam on one of the participants.  

There was already snow on the trail in November this year and we had a great time getting out there, looking at all the beautiful whiteness and skiing.  Well, some of us skied.  I walked and spent a great deal of time in the warming cabin by the fireplace, but even that was fun.  

Here's hoping that all of you are enjoying this glimpse into the American Birkie, and enjoying winter, whatever it's like in your neck of the woods!


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Tag, You're You!

You are you, and there are many places where people need to know who you are and what you do.  Enter name tags.  I have a drawer full of them to prove my point.  Almost every communal activity these days either provides a name tag for it's members or gives them a paper sticky tag (hate those things...) I have ones from several different workplaces, a couple of churches, a women's study group, and some schools. These name tags come from lots of different places but it's hard to match the variety of materials, fonts and fasteners that you can find at Apple Awards.  





Just remember, no matter where you are or what you are doing, BE YOURSELF.


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Let's Color

Today on my other blog ( I went on and on about color and how awesome it is and how it refreshes me.  Then I realized, EVERYBODY loves color, not just me.  And what is one of the first things kids get good at? Well, it's pushing buttons on cell phones and video games but it used to be coloring.  We love color and the special meaning colors take for themselves.  Green and gold for the Packers, red, white and blue for the flag, camo for our troops... you probably remember your high school colors too, don't you?  Mine were gold and black.  (Yes black qualifies as a color, so does white.)

Apple Awards thinks color is important too.  Evidence, the new line of bell awards with colored handles.  Take a look.  


These lovely colors are yours for the asking on handles of all sizes of bell awards.  Whether it's a school color or just a personal preference, the Apple team will be happy to wrap it up for you. And you will be tickled pink... or blue, or green, or red, or gold, or, or, or...

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Winter Networking

b2ap3_thumbnail_everyone-welcome.JPG“No man is an island”, John Donne, right? It's also true that no business is an island.  Behind any thriving business there is usually a network of supporting businesses and individuals.  When one does well, the others also benefit in some way. 

Apple Award's growing success in serving it's customers is largely because of owner Dennis Smith's willingness to call on that network of support.  AA's products depend on good visual representation, both in hard copy and online.  In this post I'm going to introduce the business and the man behind those visuals.  Actually, I'm going to let Dennis do the introduction in  his own words...  

 “There are a lot of steps in bringing something to market. One step is to get photos of all the products for the website and web catalog. About three years ago we started working with photographer James Netz who has offices and studios in both Hayward and the twin cities. ( )  Jim has grown in his ability to do commercial photography over the years and has proven to be able to do a great job with our highly reflective and challenging awards. Jim has been so helpful with his knowledge, experience and professionalism.   Here are some photos of our most recent shooting - our new multi-colored, school teacher hand bells.  One of the perks of shooting with Jim is that he is right next door to the famous West Dairy Ice Cream shop and has been known to spring for an occasional almost sinful treat.  Unfortunately this day they were closed due to the winter season. “



One noticeable item – both Dennis and Jim are including West's Dairy in their supporting network. See how it works?  What interesting business networking have you seen (or tasted) recently?


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Think Pink

Pink has been showing up everywhere the last few years.  I first was inundated with pink before, during and after the 2008 Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk.  I got a pink jacket, a pink umbrella, pink pins, hair bands and well, just about anything there was came in pink. I got some very pink blisters on my feet before I finished the 60 miles.  Advances have been made in treating breast cancer since then but there is still a lot of research to be funded.


In the world of apples, the Pink Lady has become widely available in the fall.  And available all year around, is the Apple Awards Pink Crystal Apple.  With all the beauty and charm of the original crystal apple, plus a subtle pink hue that sets it apart, this apple is joining the fundraising effort for breast cancer research.  Apple Awards will donate 10% of annual sales of the pink apple to the fight to end breast cancer.  

There aren't many of us who haven't felt the impact of breast cancer in one way or another. We all know a friend, a family member, someone at work or school who has gone through the rigors of cancer and it's therapy.  Ownership and staff at Apple Awards is no exception to this and it is with eagerness that this project has been developed and offered.  It is our hope that many of our customers will consider whether the pink crystal apple would be an appropriate choice for their awards needs. Let's just think pink.  





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What They Were Really Doing, Part 2


It's been a month since the boss went away on vacation and i dropped in to see what went on in his absence (see post All in Fun) He's been back for a while now and today he was busy plowing a foot of clean, white snow from the Apple Awards parking lot. Winter cold has descended. But inside the workplace it is warm and busy. One of the warmest commodities is the customer service offered by all working there. Let me give an example.


Apple Awards has gone through several transformations to become what it is at present. In a former stage, in a different location and under the business name Precious Moments, it offered services and products to clients which it has phased out and no longer offers or advertises. Long term employee Stacey had helped a particular client with a complicated, recurring order and had gotten to be a valuable resource for the client.


What to do when the business decision was made not to solicit time intensive orders of this kind any more? Well, you continue to work with a client who has come to depend on your expertise. Every year since, Stacey has worked to fill this order, not only to supply product, but also conferring with the client and helping to organize the order and making sure it is accurate. I happened on Stacey a few weeks ago as she was wrapping up the order – it was her project and she cheerfully explained why she was doing it. It is just the way Apple Awards treats their customers. And that is one of the reasons it is nice and warm inside Apple Awards, in every way.  


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A Relationship is More Than a Building

Famous Daves restaurant destroyed by fire

Photo by permission of Sawyer County Record, Hayward, Wisconsin


Up in flames.  Headlines in local papers on November 3 showed the fiery demise of Famous Daves restaurant in Hayward, Wisconsin. Or rather, the demise of a building that housed the restaurant.  The beautiful location of the first and original Famous Daves BBQ was on Round Lake just a few miles from my home.  Since it opened in 1994 I've eaten there numerous times, had relatives who worked there, and been the recipient of the owner's generosity.  

In the 20 years since it's inception Famous Daves has taken on a life of it's own, become a corporation with publicly traded stock and over 190 franchise locations. It has become a local legendary success story because it all started in Hayward, with a dream. Dave Anderson, who owned only the original location which is now in ashes has encouraged employees with plans to start serving his barbecue recipe out of a pole building on his farm if necessary until the restaurant can be rebuilt.  And if he does, I will eat there, for sure.

It was sixteen years ago that Apple Awards began a business relationship with Famous Daves, one that has continued through the years.  Apple Awards owner, Dennis Smith has this to say about that relationship,

"This restaurant has been a customer of ours for 16 of their 20 years.  We want to show our gratitude and condolences to Dave and all their staff and hopefully will be able to find a way that we can give back and help them rebuild and get their employees back to work."

And when they get back to work, serving the best barbecue in northern Wisconsin,  I'm guessing they will still be wearing name tags like this...


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What They Were Really Doing: Part 1

As promised, here's another peek behind the scenes as to what really happens at Apple Awards when the boss is gone (which, to his relief, is pretty much the same as what happens when he's there.) 


Several clipboards were up on the order board the day I dropped in.  Stacey, Kate and Bill were all occupied at their stations. I thought Kate's project was interesting and different from the "apple" theme I'd seen so often.  

She had a number of metal plates with scrolled edges lined up on her desk and was watching another one go through the laser engraver.  The plates were one element of retirement plaques being made for a major organization in the eastern U.S.  Each one was taking about 10 minutes to engrave and she had over 40 of them to do.  That's a lot of minutes.  



These plaques also had an emblem with a logo, that was to be applied to the circle on the metal plate.  And to finish, the metal plate was to be mounted on a dark walnut wooden base. The many details of this product took a lot of attention and focus (Kate's specialties).

All the information about this plaque, including its custom logo was digitally stored and will be available for future orders as well.  That is one of the conveniences that Apple Awards offers its customers, aiming to please, as usual. 


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All in Fun

October.  This is wedding anniversary month of Apple Award owners, Dennis and Mary Pat Smith.  One of their most appreciated business philosophies is that workers should have time off for creative refreshment and in setting an example they are celebrating their anniversary in a lovely location away from home.  I thought I'd check in to see what is going on at AA while the boss is gone...

I was surprised to find out that the Apple crew knows how to have fun at work especially  even when the boss is gone. "I am really busy right now," Stacey told me. "Got a special project."



Kate was busy too, evidently another special project that needed Stacey's assistance. 


Bill also was doing some... work? 


I was worried that maybe they needed some help, being that they were very "busy" and the phone was still ringing, the computer whirring and apples needing to be glued and polished.



b2ap3_thumbnail_20141016_115407_resized.jpgI did my best. (But you might want to check that one order because I'm not sure if they said 50 apples or 500, and they hung up on me rather quickly.)


All in fun.  Check my next post to find out what they were really doing. 

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Movie Time


School has been in session for several weeks already and teachers and students are settling into their routines.  Thinking of this cyclical process, oddly, made my mind go to stories of teachers I remembered from movies.  My list was not very long, but knowing there had to be more I did an internet search for top teacher movies.  From a couple different lists, I'm going to give you some ideas for that inspirational movie night. Most, if not all of them, present the challenges of teaching, the flexibility and creativity that is needed, and the rewards that come from dedication and persistence in the classroom.

Since I have not watched all of these films you are encouraged to check reviews to make sure they are suitable for your audience.   

October Sky PG-13

School of Rock PG-13

Lean on Me PG-13

Remember the Titans PG

Mr. Holland's Opus PG

Stand and Deliver PG

Dead Poets Society PG

Goodbye Mr. Chips G

Conrack PG

Freedom Writers PG-13

The Great Debaters PG-13

Half Nelson R

Teachers R

Dangerous Minds R

Up the Down Staircase R

To Be and To Have (no rating)

To Sir With Love (no rating))

Blackboard Jungle (no rating)

The Miracle Worker (no rating)

Movies about education and the classroom are always going to highlight the exchange of knowledge and ideas between generations.  School is one place where young people explore the world they are growing into with it's social and cultural issues, as well as it's physical facts. The interactions that students have with teachers are so influential.  

Have you watched any of these movies? Do you have one to add to the list?  What is your favorite? 

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