Monday, February 28, 2011

book reviews!

The intro to this devotional book, Voices of the Faithful book 2 by Beth Moore is great as the author shares the purpose for the book. I was drawn to the book because I have been involved in missions, but loved that she stresses that one of the goals is to connect Christians everywhere and "ditch the 'us and them' mentality." another goal is to motivate others to serve missions if one feels a call, but also reminds us that as christians, some are called to other areas of service. wherever we serve, we need the support of other Christians and that is offered in the book! Both introductions note that the book is a great place to begin to pray for missionaries serving now, to have a specific person and place to pray for each day as one reads the devotion. Imagine if all of us reading this book would pray for each author as we read! What an amount of prayer for these amazing missionaries! The devotions are short, less than a page each, with a scripture verse and a simple guide to prayer. They are separated by month into themes, such as prayer, God our loving Father, divine appointments, etc. devotions bring you into the lives of missionaries for a tiny taste of their service. This is a great devotional guide for those with a heart for missions, whether you have served or not, and those who want to focus your prayer life on missions and make a difference in the lives of missionaries today! I would definitely recommend this book, whether you are just beginning to attempt daily devotions, or just want to add a missions focus to your current devotional time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Charlatan's Boy by Jonathon Rogers was a funny, sweet story of an "ugly" boy and his journey through life as an orphan found by a showman trying to make money off a gullible public. It has a great ending I didn't expect at all! And Grady is a wonderful character, with a sweet, friendly heart yet lonely and wondering where he fits in and being betrayed by his only "family". I would recommend this book to any age reader! I enjoyed it as an adult, and think even younger readers would enjoy it as a read-aloud. I agree with other reviewers that though published through a Christian publisher, it's not an overtly Christian book and I think could be popular among secular readers as well, though I think if you read it with a faith perspective there are parallels that could be drawn. Overall an enjoyable book.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry is a great book to learn about racial injustice in the south through the story of a young girl who witnessed the bombing of her church and the deaths of 4 of her friends. This is a very readable history of this woman's life and how she was personally affected by the treatment of blacks in the south. I did not feel like the author wanted me to feel guilty for being white, but more like she wanted to get readers thinking about what we do now to love others around us (of any race!). I would recommend this book to anyone interested in stepping into the shoes of someone who lived these injustices; it is simply written and appropriate, I believe, for even younger readers to use as an introduction to the subject.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Foldable Grocery Bags and Produce Bags!

So everyone has seen the re-usable grocery bags at all the grocery stores... ok, really ANY store sells them now! And you've all heard the hype about how we should all use re-usable bags and help save the environment... have you also heard of how those bags probably have all kinds of bacteria in them?  As cheap as they are, I don't imagine they are easily washable- I have a collection of my own and haven't tried that yet, though they get sprayed with Lysol occasionally... Anyway, I stumbled upon this tutorial from Yarnkgeek (promise, no knitting or yarn involved in this one!) for folding grocery bags.  There are a few other tutorials around too, but this seemed to be among the simplest for me (and plus she doesn't mind if one sells things made from her tutorial... hint hint... let me know if you are interested!).

Here's how mine turned out:

From the tutorial, you can get 2 bags from 1/2 yard!  And they fold up nice and small!

They fold up nice and small (see, about 5 1/2 inches). I have grand plans to make myself more and get rid of my old germy ones. Since these are just cotton, you can chuck them in the washer!  I also plan to make up some kind of little pouch to store them all in. Handy dandy!

I used fabric I had for these (from my Grandma!) but you could buy cheap amazing fabric and make it gorgeous! 

I also thought these produce bags were so cute, so I tried out another tutorial from Daisy Janie.

The 2 sizes of loops allow you to cinch it closed!

And til I make my little pouch, i just folded up the produce bag and tucked it inside the grocery bag! 
So go GREEN and sew up some cute bags!

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Purses!

I made a few purses over the last week or two...
First up is my ABSOLUTE favorite bag EVER (sorry runarounds... love you too!).  Its the No.22 Pleats Shoulder Bag designed by  It's HUGE!

I added 2 inside pockets to mine, and am completely LOVING it!

Sparkly buttons!

See how teensy tiny my diaper clutch (on left) looks in there?!
 Since you can't really appreciate how big it is in these photos, check out the link to her etsy shop here; she has great pics that really show off how gorgeous and humongous it is!

Next up is the Aivilo Charlotte Designs Gathered Purse, which is another favorite after seeing it in person!
Its for my lovely cousin who actually picked out the fabric!

It has pockets running the entire length which can be customized to fit cell phone, diapers, wallet, pencils, etc.  (I'll do this one differently next time around... I didn't really like the big diaper pocket, though I didn't test it out...), and....

a matching button closure (my first experience with covering buttons... LOVE IT!).

It's a pretty large bag too!
 And also by the same designer, Aivilo Charlotte Designs, a convertible wristlet!
Zipper pocket
Cash and credit card pockets
If you look closely, you can see the little wristlet strap sticking out on the right. With this one, you also have the option to change the strap to make a mini purse (one strap to each side). Great size to grab and go with enough room for money, cell, and more.  It's bigger than I thought it would be! I think I personally will whip one up to stash my wallet, checkbook, etc in to help organize my larger bag or make it easier to sneak out the door when I finally get a trip out alone!

And of course, just for fun...

Mini Runaround!

Mini Runaround 2!

And 2 more full-size Runarounds for the portfolio...
Stay tuned for the smaller version of the Pleats Shoulder Bag, as well as pricing in case anyone wants one of anything shown!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Diaper Drive (and the Amazing women that made it happen!)

My facebook friends are probably aware I ran a little diaper drive a little while back. In a previous post, I wrote about my time in Honduras, mostly spent at an orphanage called Emanuel Children's Home. When I was there, the Home's policy was not to accept infants and toddlers as the amount of staffing was just not appropriate for such young children (and to be completely honest, was not adequate for older children either!) and there were no extra funds to provide such staff.
There have been amazing changes recently, in great part due to a wonderful woman Vivian who donates her time to act as director of the Home, as well as to people here in the states, especially Bill and Rona who spend so much time raising funds, planning, coordinating and organizing trips and work projects, writing newsletters and doing sooooooo many awesome things to help the Home. I have, unfortunately, not made it back for several years now, and am pretty sure I will barely recognize the place with all its new buildings, programs and children! 

One of the biggest changes, and the one that inspired the Diaper Drive, was the construction of the Sala Cuna, the building that houses the infants! Thanks to the aforementioned hard workers and wonderful donations from both the US and Honduras, there is now space for 10 babies, but only enough funds for staffing for 4. This is such an amazing accomplishment and a blessing for these babies; though there are excellent children's homes in Honduras, there are also many with very poor conditions.  How wonderful to be able to give babies an amazing home before they suffer through more years of poverty!

The Home currently has 3 babies in the Sala Cuna; disposable diapers in Honduras are expensive and the Home is unable to purchase them for daily use.  As many mothers in Honduras do, they buy (by our standards) inexpensive flat fold diapers and pins for at home use, with NO covers.  I know that many of you cloth diaper-ers do this at home, but I honestly cannot imagine having to be continually changing diapers as soon as they wet to avoid wet bouncers, exersaucers, swings and carpet!

So I put out a call on my yahoo co-op for diaper fabrics, as well as a few other co-ops I'm a part of as well as on facebook for used cloth diapers to send to those beautiful babies! And to my great surprise, I very quickly got responses!  And even greater suprise: I got boxes in the mail! I was honestly flabbergasted that these women would be willing to send hundreds of dollars worth of cloth diapers to a person they'd NEVER EVEN MET! Thank God for their willingness to trust a stranger because those diapers were AMAZING! And while the vast majority were used in excellent condition, some were (or at least appeared to me!) to be new!  And one woman sent something that hadn't even crossed my mind (though I use them myself and love them), a HUGE stack of fabulous cloth wipes! Yummy luxurious sherpa, cotton velour and flannel ones that made me want to run out and buy new fabric for my own set! I wish I'd taken some photos before I shipped them away so you could appreciate this wonderful gift, but alas, I didn't. 

Rona, however, has sent me a few photos of these beauties in use on the beautiful camara-shy babes! 

Lauren (2 year volunteer) and one of the baby girls.

The 2 little girls with Lizzeth Thomas (whose husband is one of the founders of the Home) and Lauren (2 year volunteer).

So much much much thanks to you, lovely ladies, for your wonderful generosity!

And once again, to see more pictures of the beautiful kids at Hogar Emanuel and of the home itself, to support the Home financially (you can make a one time donation, or choose to support a child or staff member monthly), or to find out more information about joining a work group or recieving the monthly newsletter, click here go to the Hogar Emanuel website.

Several of the women have etsy shoppes where you can check out their beautiful handmade items! Click on the shoppe names to check them out! (they did not know when donating that they'd be getting a smidgen of free advertising!) If you make a purchase (or even if you don't) let them know how you heard about them and how much you appreciate their wonderful gift!

Stefanie's shop is called Itty Bitty Bums and she sells wonderful cloth all-in-two diapers and diaper covers, in adorable prints!

Sharon's shop Junktique offers gorgeous handmade Cutie-Patootie diapers as well as patterns and diaper making supplies. (I've seen her seconds and they are fabulous so I can only imagine...)

Gretchen's website is Small Wonders Wipes and she sells the fabulous reusable cloth wipes she donated to the Home along with her diapers (FOUR boxes full!), as well as flannel recieving blankets, and bibs!

Karen does not have a home biz, but was gracious enough to send EIGHTEEN!!! washed but UNUSED Fuzzibuns! I seriously swooned when I opened the box! (Ok, that happened with everyone's donations, but...)
Her daughter does have her own shop called Panhandle Girl for handmade soaps, cremes and lip balm!  You can get 3oz soaps in ten yummy scents like  Cowgirl Love Patchouli and Hard Candy Peppermint, or purchase it in a slab (12 bars worth!) She also has 2 scents of body creme, lip balm, and 2 options for easy gift giving like the Vinyl Fever Gift Basket below.

So thanks again ladies and the rest of you, feel free to go check out their shops!