Posts by April M. Williams

Posts by April M. Williams, speaker, author and coach

Fine Featherheads Hair Extensions Jewelry Clothing and More

My friends at Fine Featherheads surprised me with a cool swag bag! Guess what was inside?

April M. Williams wearing Fine Featherheads Native earrings

April M. Williams wearing Fine Featherheads Native earrings

The Native Earrings are a unique combination of 3 natural, maroon, and turquoise feathers. The dangly pair touch my shoulder with the feather itself just over three inches long. Since each pair of earring is made with unique feathers, no two are identical.

The Fly Ties are soft stretchy hair ties that will not damage your hair extensions. Fly Ties can also be used as bracelets.

Orchid Fly Ties from Fine Featherheads

Fine Featherheads are best known for their feather hair extensions and ship both retail and to salons around the world. Dakota and her partner Ryan visit campuses and beauty shows near and far. Check out their Fine Featheheads blog to read about their adventures.

Who are the Fine Featherheads? Fine Featherheads was first born in early 2010 when founder Dakota Hills started selling feathers at concerts and farmers markets in Boulder, CO with her sister Dana. Dakota quickly saw the greater potential of these beautiful creations and started visiting salons across the country to show off her product. The product literally sold itself and word spread like wildfire.

Now Dakota has a whole staff and the Fine Featherhead Family assists her with production, packaging, shipping and customer service. Check out the Fine Featherheads on Facebook.

Visit the Galapagos Tortoise at the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki

The Honolulu Zoo is a family friendly stop right across from the Diamond Head side of Waikiki Beach. The zoo recently underwent extensive renovations. One of of my favorite exhibits is the salmon colored flamingos just inside the front door. The birds get their crimson color from the shrimp they eat.

The slow moving Galapagos Tortoises are another must see. These ancient giant’s shells are three feet in diameter. They lumber around the grassy area and climb upon the logs or each other.

Next to the tortoises are the monkeys. Often the various primates get other neighbors riled up and create a cacophony.

Williams Family at the Honolulu Zoo

Plan a couple of hours to visit the Honolulu Zoo. Limited public parking lot is adjacent and street parking is available.

Galapagos Tortoise at Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo is located at Honolulu Zoo 151 Kapahulu Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815.

View McHenry County Pictures on Pinterest Board

Pinterest is the hottest new social networking site where members can pin pictures to a virtual bulletin board. Share you pictures with friends and repin others pictures too.

Orbing at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois

We created a Pinterest McHenry County board for McHenry County pictures. Check out our pictures and please suggest additional pictures to include.

Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas at Pillars of Honor

I met Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas at the Pillars of Honor program in Elgin honoring local veterans. These two gentleman shared a couple of their stories with me.

Andy Balafas was a teenager when he joined the Army then decided to make a career of it. He was just 19 years old when he attended jump school. Andy is the first to admit that this program was physically taxing. During his career, he made an impressive 7 jumps.

Angelo Diliberti also attended jump school, though not until he was 47 years old. In his long career in Special Forces, he completed over 100 jumps.

Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas at Pillars of Honor

Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas at Pillars of Honor

Angelo’s most memorable jump occurred during a demonstration at Cantigny with the Airborne Reserves. A sudden wind gust yanked his parachute off course in the cramped drop zone and he found himself dangling with his shoot entangled in the trees.

Angelo attended President Eisenhower‘s funeral, attending to General Omar Bradley for the week.

Angelo is Commander of the St. Charles Amvet’s Post and a member of the Amvet’s District staff.

Thanks to all our veterans and service people who protect our country.

Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas talk with April M. Williams

Army Veterans Angelo Diliberti and Andy Balafas talk with April M. Williams

Pillars of Honor Brings War Memorial to WW2 Veterans

More than thirty World War 2 veterans were the heroes at a Pillars of Honor program hosted by Elgin’s Gail Borden Library. Family, friends and community members gathered to show respect for these local men and women, former Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Frances Mai-Ling, an alternative-classical pianist, set the mood performing original compositions.

The packed room enjoyed period songs before a mixed branch color guard presented the colors. Guest speaker Lt. Kevin Milligan, US Navy, thanked the vets for their service and shared stories from his four tours overseas.

Pillars of Honor

Vets and families viewing a model of the Washington, DC WW2 Memorial

On display was a scale model of the World War 2 Memorial on the mall in Washington DC. This is the original model Senator Bob Dole presented to Congress to gain approval for the memorial. Many of these veterans are unable to travel to the memorial and the Pillars of Honor program brings the memorial to them.

Dessee Dye

Retired Army veteran Jessee Dye. His son shows photo of his Dad as a WW2 medic

We met Retired Army medic and author Jessee Dye. His son showed us a photo of his Dad back when he was a medic in Europe.

To date, fifteen Pillars of Honor programs have shown appreciation for our vets with plans to continue at least one a month. Follow Pillars of Honor on Facebook for details on upcoming programs.

United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps

The United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. Governor Neil Abercrombie participated in the ceremony wearing, of course, an Aloha shirt. See the series of event photos on Facebook shot by Rick Li.

New "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

According to the Post Office, Carl Herrman created these stamps using photos by Ric Noyle. The five colorful Hawaiian shirts on the page range in hue and bold designs. The red shirt depicts Kilauea, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The blue and orange shirt shows off exotic Bird of Paradise flowers. Two other shirts feature surf boards and surfers. The last shirt sports sea creatures.

Governor Abercrombie at the unveling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

Governor Abercrombie at the unveiling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps. Photo credit Ricki Li @hiishootstuff

This is not the first stamp to feature Hawaii people or places. The 41 cent stamp pictures Diamond Head Lighthouse on Diamond Head Road just east of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

Diamond Head Lighthouse

Diamond Head Lighthouse across from Diamond Head volcano on a steep Pacific Ocean cliff in Honolul, Hawaii

These are just a few of the stamps featuring Hawaii people, places or lifestyle.


Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant

We had lunch at Happy Buddha Vietnamese Vegetarian Restaurant in Barrington this week and look forward to a return visit. This tiny diner shares a building with a computer repair business. Look for the McDonald’s next door as a landmark.

Happy Buddha opened 7 months ago as a vegetarian only restaurant. Many patrons requested items with meat and a non-vegetarian section was added to the menu.

We started our meal with a pot of green tea and vegetarian spring rolls filled with soy shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts, mint, lettuce and rice vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper. A dish of peanut dipping sauce came on the side. These were a delicious blend of crunch and smoothness.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Hot Green Tea

The lunch menu includes many choices reasonably priced at $6.95. We both chose pho from the regular menu, a broth with rice noodles and vegetables served with bean sprouts, bay leaves and lemon to add yourself. I had the vegetarian version while my partner had the beef version.

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

Vegetarian and Beef versions of Vietamese Pho soup

I also tried the avocado shake which I highly recommend. The generous serving was so thick it towered over the top of the glass. While we usually thick of avocado as an ingredient in Mexican foods and salads, my son has used them as an ingredient in his smoothies for several years.

Happy Buddha is alcohol free. Two Vietnamese sisters run the restaurant and be aware of possible language barriers. Be patient as the confirm your order with you. Service was attentive on our visit. If you have a party of six or more, they request you call in advance.

Happy Buddha on Urbanspoon

POW/MIA Tragic Realities and a Love Story

On a warm December morning, we met Carole and Jim Hickerson at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were invited to attend an Arrival Ceremony for the recovered remains of six World War II and Vietnam War military personnel. Their transfer cases would then delivered to the forensics lab for identification, family notification and burial. Carole and Jim retired to the island of Oahu and attend a half dozen of these solemn ceremonies each year.

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony Hickam AFB

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony for U.S. military personnel at Hickam AFB December 9, 2011

It is important to this pair to pay their respects to those who gave all for their country and they attend as many Arrival Ceremonies as their schedule permits. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband, a Marine pilot, came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the years her husband was missing in action, Carole was frustrated by the lack of transparency from the U.S. government. There was no communication on the progress in finding and returning those service personnel who were unaccounted for during the war. While her husband was missing, she designed the image which later became the well known graphic on the black POW/MIA flag. She is quick to note she is not responsible for creating the flag itself.

Around 1970, my Godmother, Joyce Mary Moses, gave me a silver POW/MIA bracket inscribed with a soldier’s name and the date he went missing in action.

“Lt. Roger B. Innes, MIA 12-27-67″

Carole Hickerson was instrumental in developing the POW/MIA bracelet program to build awareness and public support for the return of our soldiers. I wore this bracelet for many years until the metal fatigued. In March of this year, I visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C and found the name Lt. Roger B. Innes etched on one of the panels.

Roger B. Innes , a solder killed in action, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

The name, Roger B. Innes, a solder killed in action during the Vietnam War, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

Carole and her current husband Jim met through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.

Jim Hickerson, a U.S. Navy Captain, was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Carole stated while Jim was a prisoner of war, his then wife “decided not to wait for him.”

Now retired from the Navy, Jim is active with the privately funded Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island. He enjoys military history and all the back stories that make the past come to life. Jim shared this story with us:

“A girl was buried on the U.S.S. Utah which sank on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the twin daughters of the ship’s captain had died and the captain brought her remains aboard prior to the attack. The ship was prepared to sail the next day and the grieving father planned to bury his daughter at sea. The ship never sailed out of port. It was one of the many ships bombed and sunk just after dawn that day. The captain and his daughter’s body were forever entombed in the wreckage. Jim says this back story came out when the surviving twin visited Ford Island later in her life.”

Carole and Jim are celebrating 37 years of marriage. Congratulations to you both!

Honolulu Marathon Vista Along Pacific Ocean in Hawaii Kai

The Honolulu Marathon offers 26.2 miles of beautiful scenery for participants. The event held annually in mid December attracted over 22,000 entrants this year, about half of which came from Japan.

The event begins at Magic Island where runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes gather at the starting line. At 5:00, fireworks burst through the dark sky as the marathon begins. The masses move as one for the first mile or so then begins to spread out.

Downtown, Honolulu City Lights festival is in full swing. Honolulu Hale is decked out with lawn displays, twinkling lights and towering Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus wave as we go by. Iolani Palace is festive with red and green lanterns throughout the grounds.

As dawn breaks, we are on Kalakaua Street along the Pacific Ocean in Waikiki. We pass the statue of Duke Kahanamoku and the Healing Stones in front of the Waikiki Police Station. The first elevation begins along the side of Diamond Head volcano. Once at the top, we are on the way to a long loop through Hawaii Kai. The last leg takes participants back up a hill, through Diamond Head neighborhood ending at Kapiolani Park at the edge of Waikiki.

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

Cafe Firefly Coffee Shop Algonquin for Work or Relaxing

Cafe Firefly in the heart of historic downtown Algonquin is the perfect place for a few hours of work on your laptop or relaxing with friends over coffee. Owner and head baker Allie Gilberts ensures the customer favorites such as Hello Dolly bars, Strawberry – Lemonade cupcakes and biscotti are always plentiful. <Update: I understand the new owner is Wade Merritt.> Daily specials change and may include cupcakes, cookies, scones and bar cookies. Several sandwich choices are on the menu for those with a heartier appetite. Drink selections include a variety of coffees, smoothies and hot chocolate.

Service is friendly and attentive often remembering your previous order. Tables and chairs are perfect for working or informal meetings. Log in to your laptop or tablet with the free wi-fi.

Curl up with a thick book on the couches near a corner wall of windows and soak in the natural light. When the weather is temperate, take your order out on the patio and watch the downtown scene pass by.

Allies’s Cafe Firefly treats must spark creativity. Recently a guitarist quietly strummed as I reconnected with a friend. Open mic nights draws locals with various talents.

Follow Cafe Firefly on Twitter, Facebook and check in using FourSquare to earn loyalty bonuses.

Allie GIlbert's coconut lime cupcakes at Cafe Firefly

Allie GIlbert’s coconut lime cupcakes at Cafe Firefly

Cafe Firefly on Urbanspoon
Cafe Firefly on Foodio54

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