Holidays

Bring on the new year…

The Christmas season is officially over. You know how you can tell? Because the kids have played with all their toys and are now bored. Commence the bickering! The tree has yet to be packed away. And I don’t care.

I got an extra special gift this year. The flu. Awesome. Parker had it Saturday of last week. Christmas Eve was Alexandra’s turn. But mine was saved for Christmas Day.  At least I didn’t have to cook. We were invited to eat with friends, but I stayed home…holding down the couch.

Ipod

iPod Touch

She got her iPod Touch but not before I made her suffer a little. I wrapped it in her old cell phone box, then placed that in a box, which I wrapped, and repeated two more times. There was confusion, then tears of joy. Priceless.

Giant sock monkey

Giant sock monkey

Her big sis was responsible for finding this giant sock monkey. The boots are hers. She didn’t need anything else!

Shop til you drop

She’s out for the count

A trip to the mall to spend gift cards and cash…we shopped til we dropped. Which in 7-year-old time is approximately 2 hours. If we are lucky.

I woke from my flu coma on Friday, walked outside to the garage for bottles of water, and spotted these loving sights in the backyard:

Frost on branch

Winter branch

The sunrise shining through sleeping leaves. Today is the day He has made.

Sunrise

Sunrise

Now, bring on the new year!

Categories: December Daily, Holidays, In the Moment Photography, Joy, Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quick Food Gift: Christmas Crunch Recipe

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON | I’ve wrote how I am not  in the mood for the holidays this year. I am not a Grinch, I am just not feeling it.

I know I am not alone. Right? Anybody?

I have given myself a hall pass this year. I don’t have to host a cookie decorating party. I don’t have to over-decorate my house and take pictures that are Pin-worthy.

I think Pin-worthy should be added to the dictionary.

The same goes for baking, Advent calendar gifts, books creatively and neatly wrapped under the tree (’cause they’ll get peed on), or custom designed Christmas cards which involve an ill-planned photo shoot, matching envelopes and a trip to the USPS for decorative stamps. Nope. I’ve done none of it.

I am cool with it. So, stop calling me a Grinch.

But, if I  feel up to it I will make another batch of this Christmas Crunch to hand out to neighbors this weekend. If I don’t, I won’t beat myself up about it.

Christmas Crunch recipe

Christmas Crunch

QUICKIE HOW TO | Pop a large bowl of plain popcorn. I use the popcorn that comes in a jar, pour some in a brown paper lunch bag, close bag and use the “popcorn” setting in the microwave until you don’t hear popping noise. Melt some Almond Bark. (I used vanilla flavor, but chocolate would be yummy too.) Pour Almond Bar over popped popcorn and stir. Work quickly to keep the Almond Bark from setting up. Sprinkle in some festive sprinkles and red/green M&Ms, stir. Spread out on wax paper to let it set up. Once set, gently break apart, then package in cute bags. Hand out to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors. Sit back and enjoy the oohs and aahs.

Categories: Food, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Awesome gift giving guide that does good.

‘Tis the season to give…right? So, what do you get friends and family who have everything? Or, say, “I don’t need anything.” Which is true.

Most of us don’t need a thing. Not so true for others around the world.

The dilemma of the season: Give something special to our loved ones, because we love to give, but also give to those who are in need. The solution? Give gifts that give back in some way.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking this holiday season…drum roll, please… my Awesome Gift Giving Guide That Does Good:

charity gift giving guide

****

MERCY HOUSE |  Mercy House Kenya provides a safe place-a guarded home with 12 maternity beds, maternity care for young women with no place to go, provide rape and abuse counseling, spiritual support, job skills and living skills education, women can stay 2-4 years, but the goal is to help the girls get “one their feet”. Full disclosure: This is a charity I support regularly.

GIVE BACK | “Online shopping through the GiveBack Mall provides cash-back to your foundation account for purchases from over 500 online retailers. Merchants reward GiveBack members with 2 to 40% of an item’s purchase price into their account.”

PHILANSHOPIT | “Philanshopit was born when two friends wanted to combine their love of fashion and their passion for philanthropy. Hanna and Aubrey founded the company to allow customers to purchase socially responsible items without sacrificing style.”

HEADBANDS OF HOPE | “Right before my 20th birthday in the summer of 2011, I did an internship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina.

 
During my internship, I saw that girls loved to wear headbands after losing their hair to chemotherapy. Being a young girl presents many struggles with self-esteem already and losing their hair as a result of a life-threatening illness is traumatic. Not only do they have to face the risk of losing their lives, they feel that they lose a part of their feminine identity. ” Founder, Jessica (Jess) Ekstrom. Buy a stylish headband and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer.

ROOZT | “We exist to inspire, empower, and connect brands with everyday people to be catalysts for positive change through online shopping… Because changing the world should be fun!” You can handpick your own collection of items you love, supporting a cause you are passionate about…creating your own movement. Or, visit other like-minded people and purchase a special gift. My movement for Women Empowerment can be found here.

WORLD VISION | World Vision “…provides emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, work with communities to develop long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocate for justice on behalf of the poor.” Sponsor a child, provide medical care, give a goat, chickens, ducks, clean water, a well, and so much more.

LIVE FASHIONABLE | “The fashionABLE mission is to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job. We offer opportunity to everyone, with a primary focus on empowering women. When we invest in a woman, statistics demonstrate that she will have a life-changing impact on her family and community… and herself.” Also have an awesome blog for the hip and trendy.

FEED A MOTHER | “Mali is one of the least developed countries in the world. In rural areas, over half of the people are living in poverty and are food insecure. When hunger strikes, women and children are affected the most. Malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children, draining them of the potential to develop into healthy and productive adults.”  Your gift will feed a pregnant or breastfeeding mother in Mali for an entire year so that her child can grow up healthy and strong.

TOMS MARKETPLACE | Because TOMS believe commerce can be about more than profits, they created a Marketplace for other social entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their products that make a difference.

TOMS SHOES | One for One®. You buy one pair, they give one pair. Pretty simple. They now have winter boots. “On their own, shoes have a limited ability to change a life. But when combined with programs run by our Giving Partners, they can become a powerful tool in helping create opportunities for a better future.”

Although I  post about many different things in my life, the underlining theme of Got2havefaith is faith and giving. It is two things that I try to keep constant in my life, because nothing else is constant in life. I may not talk openly to family and friends about how or where I give.

I give quietly.

But, my desire is always to give back. I have many blessings in my life; and what better way to celebrate and give thanks for that than to help others. Every year I look for unique ways to do that. I hope that you find inspiration in the Awesome Gift Giving Guide That Does Good I have provided above.

There is Black Friday, Small Business Satruday, Cyber Monday and now…Tuesday is #GivingTuesday. Thank you.

*I was not paid for endorsing any of these wonderful do-gooders.

Categories: Faith, Good things, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thank goodness for dogs | Intentional Gratitude

Two years ago, around this time, two dogs came to live in our house. We were shocked by the sudden lost of my hubby’s dear friend, Ed. We were even more shocked by his will. He left his dogs to us.

We had lost our beloved beagle just a few months earlier. The last thing we wanted was to replace her with another dog…let alone two.

One dog is a white toy poodle named Rocco, weighing about 9 pounds and without an ounce of house training. The other being an 85 pound black lab with an uncontrollable, intense bark, appropriately named Thor.

Parker, our 6-year-old, was completely afraid of Thor. Understandable since Thor was almost as tall as she was.

To make a long story short…Parker and Thor become BFFs (she often uses him as a pillow while they watch TV together). We spent hundreds of dollars on dog training services to control the barking (after two years I actually see hope that it is working). We’ve cleaned up a lot of poodle poop & urine (and occasionally still do). We  (hubby and I) take a daily dose of allergy pills. We have re-seeded many, many spots of our backyard, and replaced many dug up plants (Thor is a digger). Being named after the god of thunder, doesn’t stop Thor from barking at it. Rocco owns many cute sweaters that he proudly wears in the winter…strutting his stuff.

These dogs have become a part of our family.

black lab

toy poodle

black labAt night, Thor takes up guard position in the hallway, just outside the girls’ bedroom doors. Rocco still sleeps in his crate because he can’t be trusted not to urinate (or worse) on everything. Thor and Rocco meet me at the top of the stairs when I come home from work…or from anywhere. Thor “talks” to me then. I don’t know if he is cursing me out for leaving, or saying “I missed you”.

We are thankful for these dogs. Although they have their bad habits (don’t we all?). We still love them and couldn’t imagine not having them around.

Ed knew what he was doing when he left the care of his dogs to us…Or, is it the dogs who take care of us?

>>> A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Studies show that people who write 3 things they are thankful for every day are 25% happier. So, write it down and get happy!

Christmas at the farm Ann Voskamp, along with Liz Curtis Higgs, is hosting a free webcast called Christmas at the Farm on November 21 at Noon ET. “Unwrap the full love story of Christmas”.

Categories: Christmas, Holidays, Joy, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Thanks Intentionally.

About four years ago we started a November tradition of giving thanks intentionally. To make it more fun for the girls, I try to come up with a different way to display our thankful list.

The first year we made a turkey “stuffed” with blessings. Year two was a thankful tree. Year three was a thanksgiving basket.

This year I was stumped, that is, until I clicked over to a blog I hadn’t read in a long time: A Little Grace and Mercy.

Apparently, her family has the same tradition of giving thanks. So, this is our Gratitude Web. The photos are mine, the idea is all A Little Grace and Mercy.

thanksgiving craft

Displayed on our dining room wall

thanksgiving craft

Lots of gratitude

thanksgiving craft

One of my favorites so far…

thanksgiving craft

Fun fabric bunting I sewed

We will be adding to the thankful web throughout November. It’s a month of gratitude…intentionally.

>>> Scientific research shows that giving thanks for just 3 things a day makes you 25% happier. A month long giving thanks fest brought to you by the Joy Dare. What are you thankful for? Write it down…and get happier.

Categories: Faith, Holidays, Joy, Thanksgiving | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

20 Carved Pumpkins…

carved pumpkins

Some people act surprised when they find out I don’t like to carve pumpkins for Halloween. It surprises me that they think I enjoy it.

Maybe it’s because I was scarred for life by a 4th grade teacher who made his students close our eyes while sticking our hand in a pumpkin full of slimy pumpkin guts….gross. (Or maybe it’s because I stink at it.)

This weekend a dear friend hosted a pumpkin carving party. Imagine how excited I was. My kids were excited.

pumpkins

Love the Red Rider wagon!

We brought 6 pumpkins; hauling them to the friend’s house in the wagon.

Six was ambitious on my part.

After carving two pumpkins myself I can now say I am a pumpkin carving convert.

pumpkin carving

*****

See, it turned out cute! The pumpkin…and the kid!

carving pumkins

One eyed monster.

Parker was a great helper retrieving the slimy guts.

carving pumpkins

She’s a little irritated that I am taking pictures right now.

Alex carved 3 pumpkins but would have carved 6 by herself.

zombie pumpkin

Nom, nom, nom…

A zombie pumpkin….of course.

Between everyone at the party there were 20 carved pumpkins.

cemetery pumpkin

RIP pumpkin

Pretty cool for someone who didn’t think she liked to carve pumpkins.

*****

BTW, December Daily is gearing up to start. If you want to know more about celebrating the magic of the season that is glorious December, check out Ali Edwards’ guided prompts and scrapbooking products. But, honestly, you don’t need to use the products to participate or document the magically season. Just create something.

Categories: Holidays, Joy, Life | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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