25FunExtrasPinterest

As you know, I’m a passionate Compassion International Child Advocate with three sponsored children in South America. As a sponsor, I give $38 per child per month to provide for their education, health, and Christian studies. More important that the financial contribution, however, are the letters I send. The words of encouragement and love mailed half-way across world to children in desperate need of validation. Words that serve as hugs on difficult days and offer glimpses into the life of someone who cares. By far, the letters matter more than the money.

Over my 8 years as a Compassion Sponsor, I’ve picked up a few tips for letter-writing, and now as an Advocate, I am called to support current sponsors and encourage them to make letter-writing an integral part of their sponsorship experience. In doing so, I thought it might be fun to share a few examples of the many “goodies” sponsors can send along with letters. Please note, Compassion restricts “goodies” to: small paper-based items no larger than 8-1/2″ x 11″ and cannot be more than 1/4″ thick. Also, it is a good practice to label all pieces with your sponsor number and the child’s number.

And so, here are 25 Fun Extras to Include in Your Compassion Letters:

  1. Bible Coloring Pages (include 2 – you color one and let your sponsor child color one)
  2. Extreme Dot-to-Dot (great for older sponsored kids)
  3. Bright Pocket Folders (no brads – these are slightly larger than the 8 1/2″ x 11″, but I’ve never had a problem with them going through)
  4. Sticker Sheets
  5. Sticker Dress-up Dolls
  6. Holiday Cards
  7. “Thinking of You” Cards
  8. Letter Templates
  9. Paper Origami Sheets with picture instructions
  10. Color by Number Pages
  11. Watercolor Pages
  12. Hidden Picture Posters
  13. Temporary Tattoos
  14. Card-stock Dollhouses (Found at Dollar Tree)
  15. Travel Postcards
  16. Photos of You
  17. Photos of You when you were your sponsored child’s age
  18. Photos of your sponsored child (They may not have one)
  19. Travel Postcards
  20. Decorative Post-it Notes
  21. Certificates of Achievement
  22. Decorative Band-aids
  23. Paper cut-outs for bulletin boards (stars in above photo)
  24. Small, thin story books
  25. Lacing Cards

For an ever-evolving list of “goodies” to send to Sponsored Children, be sure to follow my Pinterest Board.

 

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27. August 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Sewing · Tags: ,

26quiltsgridbFrom April 2013 to April 2014 I set a goal of finishing 26 quilts to celebrate my 26th year. It was an insane project that truly took me until May of 2014 to complete 100%, and definitely kept me busy – at one point, I was finishing a quilt a week. But, in all of those months of quilting, I can say, without a doubt, I accomplished the goals I set when I first started this project. I am a more confident quilter. I have tried new techniques and, as a direct result of this project, have participated in two quilt swaps (more on these coming soon). I have shared woven love with friends near and far, and in the process, created a plethora of memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Most importantly, I learned so, so much. A few of the tidbits I discovered include:

  • Quality fabric is expensive, but worth it
  • The “simplest” of quilts can be the most appreciated of gifts
  • Seam Rippers are my best friend
  • It’s always a good idea to buy more needles and thread that you’ll think you’ll need
  • Audiobooks are awesome background noise
  • Cats are strongly attracted to quilts – both finished and not
  • Quilting is an excellent ‘escape’
  • free-motion quilting is harder than it looks
  • corner matching can make or break your pattern
  • Like anything else, you can have too much of a good thing (It took me three months after #26quilts to want to pick up another piece of fabric)

While I do not have anything planned for my 27th year, I am still quilting. In fact, I have at least 5 quilts on my list that need to be finished before Christmas. So, all in all, I’m calling this one a huge success. To view a complete list of all 26 quilts, click here. For a glimpse of my upcoming quilting projects, follow me on instagram.

Happy Quilting!

 

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We have an incredibly mild summer in Northeastern Arkansas – and the straw-bale garden has been booming because of it. As I said back when we first planted the garden, this year we moved the location of our straw bales to an area that gets full sun all day. That simple change has made a huge difference in our yield.GardenUpdateS2014_5

Unfortunately, the tomatoes and carrots are the only plants still producing, but despite the loss of the cucumbers and squash, we still had an abundant harvest. I’m fairly sure that the mosquito sprayer, paired with inadequate spacing on my part, is what finally got the cucumbers & squash. Next year we plan to add another 12 bales and have an entire row of tomatoes and then 1/2 a row of cucumbers and 1/2 a row of squash – spacing everything out more and better supporting all of the vining plants.GardenUpdateS2014_1

Thankfully, other than major sprawling from the vines, we haven’t had any real problems with the garden this year. Both the cucumbers and squash produced a ton before finally croaking, and we were even able to harvest some broccoli and cauliflower this year – a first for us. I can confidently say that each year since we first started straw-bale gardening, we’ve seen nothing but improvement. This is still the easiest gardening method I’ve ever tried and the most bountiful.
GardenUpdateS2014_2

So far this growing season, we’ve harvested:

  • 172 tomatoes
  • 12 carrots
  • 21 yellow summer squash
  • 5 zucchini
  • 3 watermelons
  • 4 cantaloupes
  • at least 4 quarts of strawberries
  • at least 4 bundles of asparagus spears
  • 80 cucumbers
  • 5 heads of cauliflower
  • 10 heads of broccoli

That’s more than double what we harvested last year.
GardenUpdateS2014_7
Last night alone, I picked nearly 30 tomatoes. Seriously, I love a good garden-grown tomato & we are up to our ears in them! I’ll be canning the majority of our harvest and plan to share my canning process soon. I also did a bit of pickling with the cucumbers, but honestly, haven’t found that golden recipe for awesome pickles just yet. If you’ve got a favorite pickle recipe, I’d love to know what it is! Mine turn out much too sour or the vinegar is much to strong….
GardenUpdateS2014_4

How is your garden? Do you have any plans for Fall planting?

 

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PoolTurtleAfter a long and unplanned time away from this space, I can finally say that I have found the motivation to return. I never planned to stop posting back in June, but as with most things, once the first day was missed each consecutive day was exponentially easier to miss. Admittedly, I was also a bit burnt out, and had run out of things to say. The space no longer excited me. The goals I once held for this blog were shifting, and I wasn’t sure if I still needed to be here. If I, as a person, got value out of sharing in this space; and if the expense of my time was worth the investment in the long run. I have a feeling this is a process that most creatives, if not most people, go through at least once per major project. It’s not a fun process, and I would be lying if I said I was 100% confident in the outcome or thought that I was completely finished. It’s more of an on-going and ever evolving system of self-analysis; constantly weighing the pros and cons to determine if the majority, even if it’s just a slight majority, still weighs in favor of happiness. And at the moment, it firmly does.

So, thank you for your patience these past few weeks, and for sticking with me as I took some time away. I’m excited to say that I’ve spent the weekend working through my blog goals and crafting several posts that will go live over the next few days. For now, I’m cutting my posting back to three days a week in an effort to prevent future burnout and build upon the motivation that I’ve rediscovered. So with that, I’ll see you on Monday ~ Have a Happy Weekend!

 

I’m continuing my series of copy-able letters to sponsored children. To read more about this series, click here. To view other templates, click the “Sponsor Letter Templates” link under the main blog header (or here, if reading in a feed). Want to pin this template to Pinterest? Just use the “pin-it” button at the bottom of this post. Easy Peazy!

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a letter template, and in all honesty, it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve had a bit of crafter’s block when it comes to dreaming up new templates – and while I’m gearing up to share more templates for older sponsored kids, coming up with ideas is no easy feat. So, friends, if you’ve got an idea for a template that you’d love to see, please leave a comment or drop me an email and share your inspiration. I’m always looking for new themes and for ideas that will help sponsors write more often and with less anxiety.

This time, I’m sharing a pretty generic letter template that, in my mind, would be perfect for an older boy. However, the template is by no means limited to any one group. Feel free to use it as you need it!

GOBTemplate

You can download it from scribd here. If you do not have a free scribd account, and do not want to create one, you can view the template here on Google Docs. 

As I said before, I’m working on turning several of my existing templates into “older” versions.  If you have one that you’d like to see created for an older child, please let me know. Right now I’m just going back through them in a random way, updating whatever speaks to me at the moment. Also, I’d love it if you’d share any suggestions for new templates with me (for whatever age children).

*Please note that I do not encourage you to abandon letter-writing and just send these templates. Instead, these are meant to be used as a guide in building your relationship with your sponsored kids. As you learn more about your child, it should become easier to write them without using the templates. Hopefully, these templates can be helpful in ‘kick-starting’ relationships or  sending short notes when you’re pressed for time.

GirlKit

I’m excited to announce the winners of the June Correspondence Kit!

Congrats to Jonnie!

Be sure to check you email for a message from me (and be sure to check your spam folder, my messages tend to end up there for some reason)– I’ll need to know what kind of kit you’d like (older boy, older girl, younger girl, younger boy, or birthday) and your mailing address.

Everyone else, Thanks again for participating and remember, I give 2 kits away every month & offer them outside of giveaways.

Happy Monday!

It’s the second Friday of the month, and you know what that means: Time for another Correspondence Kit Giveaway! (And also time to get those letters out to your sponsored kids - click here to read about how sponsors all over the world are connecting and writing the second Friday every month)

What is it?

Simply put, a Correspondence Kit is, as the name suggests, a kit to help you with correspondence; specifically letter writing to Compassion Sponsored children. Each kit includes a variety of paper, letter templates, and goodies all for you to personalize and send to your sponsored child. I give away 2 kits on the second Friday of each month.

Types of Kits:

I currently offer 4 gender & aged based kits – Young Boy, Young Girl, Older Boy, & Older Girl. I also offer a netral Birthday kit. The photos below show one girl kit, one boy kit, and the birthday kit.

GirlKit

Each kit will come with an assortment of pattered papers & color copies of the templates I’ve designed and featured on this blog. In the boy & girl kits, there will be enough paper & templates to write your child at least once a month for an entire year. In the birthday kit, there will be enough paper & templates to send a very special birthday packet as well as six months worth of letters.

Each kit will also feature and assortment of goodies that will be age & gender appropriate. These might include: stickers, paper puzzles, coloring sheets, activity pages, gospel tracts, etc.

How to enter:

To enter, simply leave me a comment and let me know that you’d like to win. Easy Peasy!

For an additional entries, follow me on instagramfollow me on twitter, tweet this giveaway, and/or share the giveaway on facebook (you can use the social media buttons at the end of this post). Leave one comment per task you complete to let me know. That’s a total of 4 possible entries.

This giveaway will remain open all weekend, and winners will be announced Monday night, June 16, 2014.

Please note, due to postage costs, this giveaway is limited to those with a mailing address in the United States or Canada.  

Good Luck & Happy Friday!

I’m also now offering these kits outside of giveaways. Click here or on the button in the side bar for more information.

10. June 2014 · 2 comments · Categories: Sewing · Tags: ,

Since day 1, I’ve known that the final quilt would be special; a combination and record of the entire project, made from scraps of each of the previous 25 quilts. 26thQuilt1 So, after completing each quilt, I saved the scrap fabric, trimming the pieces to 2.5″ squares and making sure some of my favorites made it into the quilt that is solely for me. This resulted in a horribly gaudy finished product, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.26thQuilt2 With leftover fabric from each quilt in this 26quilts project, I made a 10″ quilt block, loosely based on the “scrappy trip around the world” pattern. I quilted the finished product in a diagonal pattern across every other row of squares. I absolutely love how it turned out – love, love, love.26thQuilt3 As usual, I backed it with a vintage sheet that just so happens to mimic the diagonal quilting pattern. Finally, I bound the quilt with scraps of bias tape from other projects and called it a day. This quilt is the perfect record of my year of sewing, and I’m so happy to have made it and to have finished my goal.26thQuilt4 While I may not have shared all 26 quilts in a year, I definitely did quilt all 26 in a year -

And that, my friends, constitutes a win! Happy Sewing!

So it appears that the Spring and Summer months are shaping up to be slow reading months around here – and that makes sense to me. In the Winter, the lack of sunshine definitely brings me down, and books make a great escape when I can’t get outside to work in the garden or soak up some rays by the pool. In the summer, I find myself in more of a “doing/going” mood and spend my free time out in the sun: flea marketing, gardening, and swimming – this leaves my commute to and from work and my primary “reading” time; and I take full advantage of it by loading up on audio books galore. MayReadingIn May, I easily checked out half a dozen books from the local library, but ended up finishing only one – an audio book secured through my audible subscription. The three books pictured above sounded fantastic, but just didn’t live up the hype, and I returned them all unfinished. Below are my thoughts regarding the three unfinished books and the one complete read.

The Firefly Dance by Sarah Addison Allen & Others: First off, I totally overlooked the fact that this was a novella of short stories written by 5 authors when I picked it up from the library. I’ve been riding the Addison Allen high and was looking to enjoy more of her southern magical realism when I grabbed this one off the shelf. I made it through the first short story before I put the book down. It just wasn’t what I was in the mood for – no Southern Charm, no magical realism, no way I’ve got time to muddle through this.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker: This one caught my eye from the shelf, and after reading the description in the jacket, promised to be similar to Addison Allen’s writing. And, while the premise is structurally similar, the plot was simultaneously too predictable and too jumpy for my taste. I got about half-way through before giving up and moving on. Overall, I feel like this story should have been broken into 2, maybe 3, different books and expounded into a fuller, richer narrative.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder: Written by a Norwegian writer and translated into English, the plot follow’s the life of Sophie as she is introduced to philosophical thinking and the history of philosophy. Again, the book jacket promised magical realism, yet the book delivered a very elementary explanation of various philosophical schools of thought. I’m not sure how much of my distaste resulted from poor writing and how much resulted from poor translation, but this “adult” fiction felt like it should be on the juvenile fiction shelf. And while I love a good juvenile fiction, this one was definitely not my cup of tea.

Now, for the good:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North: I loved this one, really loved it. It was a fantastic listen on the way to and from work, and fit in with a developing trend in my listening taste: something I’m going to call “lives lived again.” Like my earlier reads, Life After Life and, to an extent, Never Let Me Go, this book deals with choices made, lessons learned, and the impact a single person can have on the grand scheme of things. The reader was perfect for the narrative, and I am hoping and praying that Ms. North decides to write a sequel – it was just that good.

Have you read any good books, lately?

 

 

Quilt 25 was made for my Dad, an avid model aviation fan who is currently really big into electric helicopters. To design this one, I used Quiltography, a sweet design app for my iPad. It allowed me to photograph my current fabric stash and design a quilt based on what I had without wasting any fabric.AirplaneQuilt1 I went with a charm square/layer cake combo design, laid out in a diagonal pattern. It was super fast to put together, and I’l so pleased with how it turned out. AirplaneQuilt3 I bound the edges in a navy blue biased tape to keep with the more manly color scheme.AirplaneQuilt2 I for quilting, I stitched in the ditch along all the charm squares – simple, fast, and fantastic.AirplaneQuilt4 I backed the quilt with some cotton factory-worker shirt fabric from my stash – which was awesome in that it was wide enough to not have to piece the back.AirplaneQuilt5

And that makes 25 quilts blogged and only 1 more to go!

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