GirlKit

Thanks to everyone who entered this month’s giveaway.I am excited to finally announce the winners of the June Correspondence Kits!

Congrats to Sam & Maegan!

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.

26. June 2015 · 3 comments · Categories: Compassion · Tags:

It’s the second Friday of the month, So, I’m really late on posting this, this month – I thought I had this post scheduled and turns out I didn’t. Ooops. Anyway, good news is that it’s time for another Correspondence Kit Giveaway – and since I’m a bit late, I think I’ll give 3 away this month! (Don’t forget it’s 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. (But I’m giving away 3 this month – yay you!)

Types of Kits:

I currently offer 4 gender & aged based kits – Young Boy, Young Girl, Older Boy, & Older Girl. I also offer a neutral 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 29, 2015.

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 also offer these kits outside of giveaways – and ship them all over the world. Click here or on the button in the side bar for more information.

The week I got back from Ecuador (back in April), my Dad and I planted our strawbale garden – and man has it taken off. Before I share some progress photos and stats (scheduled for next week), I thought it might be fun to run through the basics of this year’s spread. StrawBaleGardenPlanting2015_ - 2After last year’s boxed in beds, we still had loads of great compost ready for planting – unfortunately, as compost tends to do, it had shrunk quite a bit. So, to bring up the level of the beds, we supplemented the compost with 2 additional strawbales that had been setting out all winter. We shredded these bales and stuffed them in the boxes where more dirt was needed. Afterwards, we topped the boxed beds with a thin layer of garden soil to help stabilize the new plants. In these boxes, we planted 6 tomatoes, 4 cucumbers, and 3 yellow squash.

StrawBaleGardenPlanting2015_ - 1And, like last year – and every year we’ve been strawbale gardening – we doubled the size of our beds. Last fall we bought 14 bales and set them out parallel to the boxed in beds. They composted all winter, and were prime for planting this spring. In these, we 3 zucchini plants.

StrawBaleGardenPlanting2015_ - 4The tomatoes and yellow squash have taken to their new homes brilliantly, and the boxed in beds are quickly converting to actual soil-filled raised beds, which is the long term goal. 

StrawBaleGardenPlanting2015_ - 3All in all, it’s looking to be a very promising year in the garden. And I’m super excited to start harvesting tomatoes – BLT sandwiches are calling my name!

Have you planted a garden this year?

 

24. June 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Sewing · Tags:

HelenDuffel_ - 2Just like I did for my Ecuadorian kids, I made Helen Angela a duffel bag that matches her quilt. I started by using this pattern and leftover fabric from her quilt. Since it had been a couple of years since I’d made Helen’s quilt, and I didn’t do so great of a job keeping the scraps, I did have to supplement some of the duffel bag fabric with coordinating colors (especially for the lining). But man, I LOVE this pattern, and I LOVE the bags it makes. I love them so much that I’m picking out fabrics to make one for myself. 

HelenDuffel_ - 1All in all, the bags are much easier to make than expected, and extremely useful. Plus, they hold way more than you’d think (with a pocket on each end and a trolley sleeve in the middle), and are a breeze to carry through the airport – and to cram into overhead bins. This duffel is perhaps the most patch-worked one I’ve made thus far, and while the patchwork takes forever to piece – think giant jigsaw puzzle where you don’t really know what the final picture is supposed to be, but you do know the size – I think it might be my favorite one yet.  I packed all of the clothes I took Helen in her bag, and she was ecstatic to receive it. I’ll be sharing more about what I took Helen and our day together in the coming weeks, but until then:

What fun things have you made lately?

22. June 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Peru 2015

PeruFlight

I’ve been home from Peru for just over one week – and it’s different this time. This past trip with Compassion International itself was very different. It’s hard to put into words, but while the poverty was similar (not the same, because poverty is never the same for anyone), but the feeling of the trip, the meshing of the people traveling with me, that was so very different. And that feeling, more than anything I saw or heard, impacted me in a way I did not expect, and in a way I could not prepare for – and in all honesty, I’m still trying to sort out what the lesson in it all was. On each of the previous Compassion trips I’ve taken, I’ve felt a connection fairly quickly – an “ah-ha” moment where it’s like “ok, this is why I’m here.” And that didn’t happen this time. Which means I’m still processing what it all means to me. So, dear readers, I say all that to say this – I’m sorry I’ve been absent lately. I appreciate you sticking with me, and I’m working on getting back to a regular posting schedule – but I am still sorting through a bunch of stuff from Peru (and personally) that may make posting a bit sporadic for the next little bit. But, I hope you’ll continue to come to my little corner of the internet and check in, and that you’ll find something useful and encouraging while you’re here.

18. May 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Peru 2015

IMG_2332

It’s weird – this preparing for Peru. I knew it would feel rushed – having just gotten back from Ecuador a little under 2 months ago, but this feels nothing like what I expected. It’s already so different from Ecuador – so, so different. I have done so much less preparing – both physically and mentally. I actually haven’t even purchased my plane ticket to Miami yet. And yet, there is a peace about this trip that I didn’t have with either Ecuador visit. There’s this prevailing calm that assures me it will all work out in the end.

Part of that calm, a small part probably because let’s face it – the biggest part of the calm is completely God, is coming from the fact that after each trip I learn so much…and I continually tweak my traveling, and in that way, each trip gets easier. Peru is no different. This time, I’ll be:

  • taking 1 checked bag (not 2)
  • Visiting 1 child on fun day (not 3)
  • Possibly booking a flight with a layover instead of a direct flight to MIA – we’ll see, not totally sure on this one
  • bringing more family/home visit gifts (I wish I had taken more “hostess” gifts to Ecuador, but I just didn’t have the room)
  • buying actual headphones for the plane – my ears can only take so much of the earbuds.
  • carrying a digital scale for luggage on the return trip
  • taking my letters from Helen Angela to look at with Helen Angela
  • packing with a color scheme in mind – this worked so well last time!
  • pre-loading audio book after audio book for the plane – 7ish hour flights are ugh.
  • taking my phone battery booster – because audiobooks
  • writing to my Helen Angela while I’m waiting to meet her – because this is my tradition and I love it.
  • packing peanut butter just incase

When I sat down this past weekend and started my packing I had a small panic moment thinking I wasn’t going to be able to fit everything in a single checked bag – but that fear is unfounded. Even after packing everything I’d planned on putting in my checked bag, I have 7 pounds of room available – which means I can move some of the items from my carryon to the checked bag and still be fine.  I cannot imagine how light it will feel to travel with a single checked bag – again, from here it’s feeling like a calm sigh.

I’m continually amazed at how each of these Compassion trips have been exactly what I needed, when I needed it – and I know Peru will follow that pattern, and, I’m really looking forward to immersing myself again.

 

SpringFlingMini_ - 1 (1)

Just before I left for Ecuador, I finished up this pretty little quilt for another one of the mini-quilt swaps I signed up for through instagram. This time, the theme was Spring, and my partner had requested bright, non-pink colors. It took me a while to decide on a pattern, but once I did, it all came together in a matter of hours.SpringFlingMini_ - 1

I started by searching my pinterest board for mini-quilt inspiration. When I came across this pin, I knew I had the winner. Using Lori Holt’s book Quilty Fun, I followed the instructions for her tulip row and modified it to include 5 tulips instead of 11 – the perfect size for a mini-quilt. a From there, I searched through my stashed fabric for bright, spring colors that did not include pink – which was harder than I thought it would be. I settled on a couple of yellows, oranges, greens, and purples. SpringFlingMini_ - 2

I backed the quilt with a minimal daisy-like printed fabric that also screamed spring w/out being overly pink, and added my “label” written at the bottom of the bright oragne binding. For the quilting, I thought it would be fun to try out a raindrop pattern that’s been floating around in my head for a few weeks.  All in all, I absolutely love how it turned out – and completely wanted to keep it for myself…which, I have learned, is the sign of a project well-done.

SpringFlingMini_ - 3What fun projects have you been working on lately? I’ve got a couple more quilts/quilting projects I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks as I prep for Peru – some new ideas and some old. I can’t wait to share them all with you. And I’d love it if you link to your own projects and let me see what goodies you’ve been crafting.

Once again I find that I have no idea how to begin this post – or even the words to use to describe the amazing experience that was Ecuador. I know I left part of my heart in South America, and in all honesty, most days the trips I took there feel more like a weird, wonderful dream than reality. I got to see my sponsored children again. I got to speak with them, hear their own voices, give them hugs, and show them love in person. I held their hands in mine – and once again utterly left my heart with them.

There’s no way I could convey the full range of emotions felt from this trip in a single post – so, just as I did with my last trip, I’m attempting to share in a series, breaking it down day-by-day or story-by-story; but bear with me, these words are hard to write and even harder to share…

——————————————

[Long post alert – consider yourself warned]

Day 1: Travel from Northeast Arkansas to Central Ecuador, 2630 miles. 

I’ll be honest, Day 1 is a total blur. I went to sleep around 9pm only to wake up at 1am to get ready to make a 1.5hr drive to the airport to catch a 5:44am flight from Memphis, TN, to Miami, FL. I juggled 4 bags that were packed to the absolute limit – in fact, I was mentally preparing to pay the $200 over-weight fee because I had packed them so full.

Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 2I got to the airport at 3ish, it might have been closer to 3:15…I really don’t remember. I do remember that I had to wait in the lobby for a bit because the bag-check didn’t open until 4am – so that was fun. But, once it was open, I was in for my first blessing – underweight bags! Between the two checked bags I had 5 whole pounds to spare. 5 pounds! I’m telling you, that’s a miracle. I had those bags soooo full of gifts for my kids and the kids of other sponsors. But God is good – and he makes room (and weight) where there is none.

Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 3So, groggily, I boarded that first flight – and got to see the sunrise from above the clouds, which, by the way, is always the best. I’m totally not a morning person – AT ALL, but man, a sunrise above the clouds is just hard to beat – because it means I’m traveling, and traveling is always worth it. If I could only make a living out of visiting my Compassion kids and traveling to new places (without having to give up so much in order to accomplish it) …. but I digress. 

Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 5

I remember 2 things main things about Miami: It was hot (especially since I was wearing like 3 layers of clothing – no room in the suitcases, remember) and I was starving. My TSA precheck didn’t show up on my ticket from MIA to Quito, so I ended up having to go through the long security line which took about a half-hour. By the time I made it to my gate it was around 9am. I’d already been awake 8 hours and hadn’t eaten before I left the house because I didn’t want to get sick on the plane – it takes a while for me to really be able to eat breakfast and I always get a bit queasy in the mornings – especially on early flights. So I waited until I got re-checked and found the right gate before I got any food. Fortunately, there were several restaurants around my gate, and I found the most amazing ham and cheese empanadas. Seriously, they were so good! After breakfast I began the long waiting game until my friend Deb (who was also going on this trip) arrived in Miami – around noon.Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 4

I met up with Deb for lunch, and then we joined the rest of the Compassion group for the 4 hour flight to Quito. All in all, there were 32 of us on this trip. I got an aisle seat on the flight (yay!) and was again pleasantly surprised when the middle seat ended up being vacant, the in-flight movie was “The Theory of Everything,” and the lady in the window seat was the sweetest little abuela who only spoke Spanish. The cool part is, I actually carried on a conversation (all be it limited) with her! She told me that she was headed home from visiting her daughter and grandchildren in St. Louis, that they were sad to see her leave, and that she only gets to see them about once a year. I told her we were lucky to have just the two of us in a row, and that I lived somewhat close to St. Louis. We didn’t talk much, but man – it was really awesome to be able to understand even just a small amount of what she was telling me. I cannot wait until I’m more fluent. Being bilingual is going to be amazing.

Once we landed, went through immigration and then customs, we still had about an hour bus ride to the hotel. One of the other ladies on the tour got herself a luggage cart to navigate customs, and she was super nice and got me one, too – which was amazing because I was starting to feel the altitude lugging the 4 bags around. For just $2 each ($5 in MIA), the carts were a welcomed relief. I was actually a bit worried about the altitude – especially when I started to feel it so bad just by moving my suitcases from baggage claim to the customs line; so the fact that she offered to get me a cart was so incredibly nice of her and a huge help to me. After getting through customs and loading our bags on the bus, we headed to the hotel.

It was around 11pm before we made it to the hotel for the night. Fortunately, the plan was to spend two nights in Quito before leaving for Otavalo, so I didn’t have to re-pack my bags. Also, there was a pretty fantastic bathtub in my room – which I made good use of. I slept so good. So, so, so good. It’s amazing how well you can sleep after being up a solid 24 hours. Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 6The next morning I woke up to the most amazing view ever – seriously, do you see that mountain? For a girl who comes from flat – F-L-A-T – flat 250ft above sea level Mississippi Delta flat – the mountains of Ecuador amaze me every time. In the daylight, seeing them again made me feel like I was home. Like a part of me that I didn’t know was wandering was finally home. And I thought, Yes. This is right. I am here and I am home. 

We ate breakfast at the hotel and then boarded the bus to go to EC148 for morning worship. Let me just say, if you want to truly feel God in a worship service, it’s hard to beat a worship service in a developing country – in a language not your own – when you feel the praise in your spirit because your soul understands what your ears do not.

We fully participated in the worship service – an entire hour of standing praise and worship (where I both felt God and felt the altitude). This was the worst day for altitude, and I did end up taking an Excedrin migraine in order to prevent the horrible headache I could feel coming my way. All in all though my altitude sickness this time was considerably less than last time – I drank a ton more water – and people take it from me – that helped so much!

 

Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 7

Anyway, back to the worship service – which was fantastic. I actually understood about 40% of the songs, and more than that if they used the projector and I could read what they were singing – and then, then I started to be able to hear it, too. My ears adjusted to the speed and my mind caught up and it was so great. I knew what they were singing – on both an outward and inward level. I knew as a believer and I knew as a student of the Spanish language. Want to talk about powerful – when those worlds collided – I have no words. I was just exactly where I was supposed to be in the exact right moment. I will never forget that feeling.

After worship service, we followed all the children to a local park for children’s church. The church is renovating their property to make more classrooms, but currently uses the park for Sunday morning children’s church. Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 8

For children’s church, the universal appeal of puppets became apparent very quickly. The lesson, on obedience, was part of a series of lessons the church had been presenting over the past several weeks. The key verse was Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” There was even a fun little song to go with it talking about how we should listen to our parents, teachers, and leaders.

Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 9

After the puppet show, we had some unplanned time to play with the kids – which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Karen, pictured below, sought me out during the lesson and stuck pretty close during the play time. She was the sweetest little girl and let me practice some of my limited Spanish. I cannot stress what a difference it made to be able to somewhat communicate with the locals on this trip – language is such a blessing that we take for granted every single day. In 2013, playing with the kids was fun, but also frustrating because of the language barrier. Being able to break that barrier, even in the tiniest of ways, was so great. Sitting there with Karen, I learned that she did not have a sponsor – and felt the need to ask her project about it. Turns out, Karen isn’t in the program. She’s a local girl that attends the church service, but her family is blessed and her income level is too high to qualify for sponsorship. (Which, as it happens, is just like the last shy, sweet girl in a white dress I met during a church service in Ecuador – there may be a pattern developing here…)Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 10

From the church we headed to the northern part of Quito, to visit the iconic Virgin Angel and have lunch a Pim’s – a fantastic restaurant that overlooks all of Old Town and the north side of the city. The views were amazing, and food delicious. Our drink options were soda or water – and it was fun to see that while they didn’t know what “orange soda” was, they quickly recognized “Fanta” – and by the way, glass-bottled Fanta at 9,350 above sea level is sooooo good. I’m not a huge soda drinker, but man, I could have a bottle of that a day…. so long as it came with the view ;)Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 11 Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 13 Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 12

After lunch, we drove to the other side of Quito to visit the equator. Unlike my trip in 2013, this time we saw a different equator tourist attraction. This one was smaller, and seemed more like a Route 66 side-of-the road type attraction. It was interesting though – it had more of a local history feel to it. They had built a traditional hut on site, had several artifacts, preserved anacondas and giant spiders, and a mural of how to shrink heads. Did I mention it was an interesting place? The tour guide also demonstrated the Coriolis effect which was awesome – and made for some great videos. Also, I totally got sunburned – leave it to me to forget the sunscreen on the day we actually visit the equator. Ecuador2015Day1&2_ - 14Finally, we ended the day back at our hotel with a very nice meal in one of the banquet rooms. They served traditional potato soup (which if you like potato soup, was delicious) and very pretty desserts that were chocolate and some sort of fruit – they were yellow, but not lemon. Anyway, after supper, I went back to my hotel room and rearranged my bags – we were leaving for Otavalo the next day and had the option to leave some of our bags in Quito at the hotel. Since most of my bags were actually gifts – and I wouldn’t be needing any of them in Otavalo, I was able to leave everything but a single rolling carryon, and that was so nice. Having to just juggle a single bag made my logistics so much easier – I had seriously dreaded lugging the gifts around all week. Now, not only was my luggage lighter, but so was my spirit. This was such an excellent start to the trip.

After typing all of this, it’s a bit hard to believe we did so much in one day. Also, I’m once again amazed at how much you can forget in just a few short weeks. I had to ask fellow travelers where we ate for supper because I truly could not remember – which is so crazy to me. Anyway, I’m hoping to share a day of the trip each week, so check back next Tuesday for more :)

 

GirlKit

Thanks to everyone who entered this month’s giveaway.I am excited to finally announce the winners of the March Correspondence Kits!

Congrats to Breanne & Sarah!

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.

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). We’re running a week late this month due to my trip to Ecuador – sorry for any inconvenience.

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 neutral 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, May 11, 2015.

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 also offer these kits outside of giveaways – and ship them all over the world. Click here or on the button in the side bar for more information.