Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Book Review: Close to You

Hi Friends! Remember how I had a long list of mostly serious books to read at the beginning of the year, and mentioned I was going to need to work in some lighter reads for fun? Well, I found a good one! Close to You by Kara Isaac comes out April 26th, and you will definitely want to put it on your summer reading list!

When Howard books told me about this story, I jumped at the chance to read it. Both my sister and my cousin lived and studied in New Zealand in college. I'm the only one in my immediate family who hasn't been there, so this was my imaginary ticket! The main character is smart and funny kiwi Allison Shire who keeps on keeping on in the midst of her life's biggest disaster to date. At the moment, that means this scholar, with a doctorate in literature, is leading tours all over New Zealand with groups dressed entirely in Lord of the Rings garb and speaking Elvish.
Meanwhile Jackson Gregory has signed up for the ultimate LOTR fan club tour in order to schmooze his great uncle into investing in his business--an investment he desperately needs. The only problem is, Jackson knows nothing about The Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit. Perfect. 
If you've ever wanted to traipse all over New Zealand, if you've ever had a career disaster (like both of these main characters), if you've ever read a Lord of the Rings book (or seen the movies), or if you just like a good love story; you will love this book! It is well written, with a great setting and fun characters. This is Kara Isaac's first book. How I love to see people succeed! 
Happy reading!

** Howard Books gave me a free copy of this book for my honest review. All opinions on my blog are my own. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sole Hope

Hi Friends! We are on Spring break this week and loving it!  Trees are starting to come alive with new leaves and even some blossoms. I love spring because it's like all of nature is coming back to life. It's so exciting to see something new. Along those lines, I have discovered something new (well, new to me). It's an organization called Sole Hope. They are based in Jinja Uganda and they are helping to solve a unique problem. Several years ago a couple read about how many people in Africa are infected by jiggers, a sand flea that burrows into toes and the webbing between them, and then lays thousands of eggs. These fleas in the feet are very painful and and lead to other diseases. They looked at all the angles of solving the problem and then created Sole Hope. They bring in people who have jiggers (or travel to them), and clean their feet, remove the jiggers, and provide education about how to keep from getting them. Then each person is given a new pair of shoes as well as a foot care kit, and finally their house and property is sprayed with a pesticide that kills the jiggers to eradicate them and keep everyone healthy. Watch their video here for a peek into what they do!

One of my favorite parts about the organization is that they employ local shoe makers to make the shoes that they distribute. I read once about how some well-meaning shoe companies had actually hurt communities by giving everyone a pair of shoes, putting the local cobblers out of business and causing them to have to move elsewhere for work. Then when those shoes had been worn though there was no where to get shoes. I love this more sustainable approach. Best of all, they invite people like you and I to be a part of this process. The shoes are all made out of recycled blue jean or denim. In order to make shipping as efficient as possible, Sole Hope asks groups in the U.S. to get together and have a "Shoe Cutting Party." Last week we had a cutting party and it was fun and easy! We gathered up our old jeans that have been waiting for a project such as this. The fronts of these pants are pretty worn,

but the backs are still in great shape, perfect for cutting out shoe pieces! If you don't have jeans, you can also just buy a few XL pairs at the thrift store. 

So we rounded up our jeans, 

ordered a party pack with the patterns and instructions (order a cutting party here), and invited friends to come over and trace and cut. 

For each pair ten pieces get cut out of denim

and two pieces get cut out of plastic milk jugs, as heel supports.

Then all those pieces get pinned together and labeled,

and put into packs of 10 in a gallon size bag. Everyone that comes is asked to bring just $10 help cover the cost of paying the shoe makers in Uganda, and shipping the materials. Best $10 you'll spend!

When you see how much trash there is just between all the seams, buttons and pockets, you realize how efficient it really is to cut them here and ship only the needed pieces. We saved the pockets for a later project...stay tuned :)

I have already planned a second cutting party, and I'm thinking this will be something we do on a regular basis.  I love their awesome holistic model. Check out Sole Hope's website here. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Let's Make Rabbits

Hi again! I didn't think I'd be posting again before Easter, but we just read the cutest book, and since it's about rabbits, I thought I'd share it during Easter weekend (even though we know Easter is more than bunny rabbits and peeps). We have read lots of Leo Lionni books, but somehow I'd never seen Let's Make Rabbits. It's a sweet book about two rabbits, one pencil-drawn, and one scissor-cut. You know how I love a craft inspired by a children's book! 

As soon as we turned to the first page, and I saw the scrap paper, I thought of this pile of papers I had left over from some projects we did this fall. The paper we used is handmade in India, fair trade paper from Equal Exchange. I can't see it there now, you might only be able to order it at Christmas time...anyway it was perfect for this book craft.

Pencil draws a rabbit, and scissors cuts one out of scrap paper. I held some graph paper over the picture and traced each of the pieces to make patterns for our own scrap rabbits.

I wrote on the pieces so we would know which side was "face up." Then we traced the patterns face down on the back of the paper we wanted to use.

Then we cut them out and used a glue stick to stick them together. 

don't forget to make a carrot!

It's fun to have some indoor actives this year, since we got another 8 inches of snow this morning... 
We had to cancel our egg hunt, and instead we said "Let's make rabbits!"

Wanna make some? Well hop to it!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Penguin Foods

Hi! Happy Spring! Our's is off to a chilly start with more than a foot of snow yesterday. Since Easter is this weekend, I thought I'd share another creative way to eat those leftover hard-boiled eggs. You know we like to do low key theme days around here. It usually just involves me realizing we have several things that go together and then gathering them up the night before and checking Pinterest for a food inspiration. We recently did a penguin day. I gathered up books, stickers, a puzzle and a book on tape, and just let the boys choose what they wanted to do.

For lunch they had a boiled egg turned into a penguin, as well as crackers with cream cheese, carrots, and olives. The egg's wings and head are held on with toothpicks, so just have kids watch out for those : )

For the crackers we just spread cream cheese on and stuck on the head, wings, beak and feet. Easy and fun! I hope you have a wonderful easter weekend.

Jesus loves you to death....and back. : )


P.S.- If you are looking for other post-Easter ideas for using up hard boiled eggs and way too many peeps, you might like this post or just search "eggs" at the tops of the blog, for all the fun Easter stuff we've done.  : )

Monday, March 7, 2016

No Sew Quiet Book

Hi Friends! It's been a long time since I posted something crafty. I made a little quiet book for a special two-year-old and I thought I'd share it with you. I love finding ideas on Pinterest for stuff like this so I want to share mine in case there's an idea that would help someone else. In the past I've sewn together quiet book pages (see some here), but sewing takes a little longer, so I put this whole book together with felt and hot glue. Yep--it's a NO SEW! I found this little canvas book at Target and thought it would make a great quiet book. The pages are a lot more durable than the felt base I've used in the past, and the rings pop open so I could take out the pages to glue them and just pop them back in in whatever order. I also kept out a few pages, so I could make some new pages and trade them out (hypothetically). 

I ironed on the tree decal and jut hot glued the flowers. I used permanent markers to write "Quiet Book." On other pages I used fabric markers, but having done both, I would recommend Sharpies rather than fabric markers. The fabric markers bled a lot and the Sharpie was much cleaner. 

Ribbon rain

The car is two layers with a space for the ribbon to run in-between so that it can move back and forth. The car wash is a t-shirt sleeve cut into strips.

The sock monkey doesn't do anything. I was going to make it a puzzle with a barrel of monkeys on one page to hold the pieces, but ended up just gluing it all on. The pom pom is fun to pet. 

The mail box has letters and you could always add new ones or paper ones as well.

The frog's tongue is elastic so you can stretch it and slurp in the fly. It's fun to use these giant googly eyes too. The fox is playing peekaboo behind the tree.

Laundry pages are really popular it seems. It's fun to take the clothes out and clip them on. I used a little piece of clear vinyl to make the window, and left the washer open on the right side to slide the clothes in and out. 

The last page is a bowl full of cherry pom poms and a pie crust with a lattice that she can weave.

Hopefully our little friend will enjoy her quiet book. Hot glue is amazing. And between the ready made canvas book base, and the hot glue, this was a pretty fast project. Which just happens to be all I have time for these days. : ) It feels good to make something fun again though. That's all for today!
I hope that you are well! 

Know that you are LOVED!

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