Smile, it’s amazon

Confession: One of the things I have shifted toward a lot in the last two years is buying online. My husband makes so many purchases for his business that it’s decidedly worth it for us to pay for Amazon Prime – which includes free two-day shipping on countless items.

I have many friends who shop this way too.

Our family recently had a complex argument about whether it was more fuel-and-energy efficient to buy online or in stores. (This was after I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver, and was thinking more about the energy costs associated with getting things to my house.) Our argument went something like this:

  1. You save gas if you stay home.
  2. But someone has to deliver the items to your house. Same diff, right?
  3. But if he didn’t deliver them to your house, he would deliver them to the stores, right? And then you would go get them – twice the gas.
  4. But he is bringing them to you in small sets, as often as once a day, not with boxes and boxes at a time like an efficient shopping run (you) or a big store delivery (them).
  5. But he is making his round of deliveries around town anyway, and you are on the way.
  6. But seriously – stopping at every house to make individual deliveries?

Okay, I’m convinced. I think it is less energy efficient to have everyone stay home while several trucks run around town delivering things. No wait. That sounds like a GOOD plan. Gaaahhhhh! Meanwhile my husband and my oldest son, who are both smarter than I, are convinced that the difference is either negligible or in favor of home delivery. I hate when they do that.

What do you think?

Alternately, we could do both – run around town making errands and sit at home shopping online.

Yeah, that would work. Efficiency shmiciency.

Okay, I am sorry to disappoint you but that is not the point of this post. That whole discussion was a bunny trail from my real point, which was this:

What I’m about to say may be old hat to you, but I must be sure. Did you know that when you make purchases on Amazon.com, you can make them via Amazon Smile, which donates money to a nonprofit of your choice? The nonprofit must be registered with Amazon Smile, but you can then choose it from a list of charities, schools, and other organizations. My choice is Faith Builders Educational Programs, which runs the Christian day school my children attend. That means every time I make a purchase, a small percentage of my total is earmarked as a donation and given to them. It’s not a lot, about half a percent, but it adds up when many people do it.

Amazing!

The nice thing is that it’s not a different store, or a different way of shopping. It’s just a different way of accessing the Amazon site. I have Amazon Smile pinned to the taskbar of my computer, so each time I open Amazon I’m already set to go, and all my purchases count. I don’t have to do anything extra.

And no, I do not make ADDITIONAL purchases just to donate. I’m not that stupid, er, devoted, or whatever you want to call it.

In a nutshell, if you’re an Amazon shopper, please check into it. There are many good places registered there, such as Fair Play Camp School, Bald Eagle Boys Camp, Christian Aid Ministries, Amish Mennonite Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, Open Hands, crisis pregnancy centers, and many more. If you don’t already have a non-profit of choice, you are cordially invited to pick Faith Builders as well. We would not mind.

Good hunting,

Shari

PS – Unfortunately, no one is paying me for this pitch.

Giveaway: Linette’s Boredom Jar

People of earth, I bring you tidings of great joy.

If you are a reader of my comment section, you’ll recall some of us were talking about Linette Horst’s Boredom Buster Jar, and what a lifesaver it would be for the summer. After communicating with each other, Linette and I have decided to let you in on the fun.

Linette spent hours gathering more than 300 ideas for summertime activities for her own children, and one other family she loved. Then she realized other moms could benefit from her list as well. She gave a few sets as gifts, shared them with extended family, and so on.

Her activities include things like doing a chore, making a craft, playing a game, doing something outside, researching a new idea, or having fun with food. Most ideas are free, most use supplies commonly found in a household, and adult assistance is minimal. The activities are designed for ages 4-12; so obviously younger children will require more assistance than older ones for things like reading a story or making cookies. Only a few ideas are duplicated.

Linette is concerned about sending glass jars in the mail (running the risk of breaking them), and about cutting thousands of slips of paper. So what we are offering is the colorful, full-page list of ideas, for you to cut up into your own jar. However, if you know Linette personally and would like to arrange a pick-up for a filled glass jar, she would be happy to negotiate on that.

Linette is offering one package free of charge on my blog (winner chosen at random). She is selling additional packages for $10. I think that’s a great price for what the set includes:

  • Thirteen colorful pages with over 300 activities
  • A supplies list for items you might not have on hand
  • An adorable vinyl decal to put on your own jar (“Mom I’m Bored” as pictured)
  • Free shipping to anywhere in the United States

This would make a wonderful gift for a young family – perhaps for a busy mom-friend, your pastor’s wife, a secret sister, your children’s Sunday school teacher, or anyone else you’d like to bless. If you save the slips of paper, you can use them again and again.

I received a Boredom Jar as a gift from Linette and I’m so excited to let my children start using it. Plus my house will get cleaned along the way, from what I can tell…

If you would like to order a set for $10, please contact Linette Horst at randyandlinette@aol.com. Put “Boredom Jar” or something similar in the subject line, to avoid the suspicion of being a spammer. (You wouldn’t want that.)

If you would like to enter the giveaway drawing, please leave a comment below. I always like to require something of you when you enter a giveaway (nothing ventured, nothing gained) – so this time, please tell me one thing your children are good at doing on their own: something fun/ creative/ thoughtful/ skilled/ helpful/ or anything like that. If you do not have children, think of “the children for whom you intend this jar” and tell me what they’re good at.

And yes, you can wait to order your own set until you hear if you won this giveaway. {Grin.} Again, the email address for contacting Linette is randyandlinette@aol.com.


Giveaway ends in one week, at midnight on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Open to any person with a US mailing address. Please note that neither giveaway nor purchased set includes a glass jar. Feel free to share with friends who may be interested. Winner will be chosen by random.org.

T-shirt dresses for little girls

Confession: I love to sew, but when it comes to little girls’ dresses I’m a cheater. I often start with a T-shirt.

IMG_1506

Do you gals do this too? My sis-in-law Kim is the one who taught me how, and got me hooked on it.

All you have to do is buy a T-shirt for a couple of dollars, new or second hand, and raid your fabric stash for something coordinating. You can use a plain T and smarten with a fabric flower for a little pop of color and texture…

IMG_3065

Aw, she grew up! This picture was taken last fall.

Or buy a polo for a dressier look.

IMG_1542.2

Cut the shirt off short, for a high-waisted look. Nothing worse on this pattern than having the skirt starting down around her hips.

Now it’s time to choose a skirt! You can go a couple of ways: a slim, flared skirt, or a gathered waist.

IMG_1525

For a perfect fit, measure the width of the T-shirt at the bottom (it’s usually 12 inches, in Kelly’s 5 T size), and cut fabric to match. Don’t forget to figure seam allowances, for a total of 13” or so. Now flare the skirt wide—I like it about 22” wide at the bottom.* This is important so your little lady has wiggle room to sit modestly/ run/ climb trees/ things like that.

(*I mean on both front skirt and back skirt, for a total of 44″)

I kept the skirt too straight on this one from last year—you can see it pulling up around her legs instead of draping nicely. She couldn’t wear it very long.

IMG_3076.2

Sew the skirt seams first, then stitch the finished skirt onto the T-shirt bodice.

I usually prefer the look of a slim tapered skirt, unless I’m trying for something sweet with ruffles. Gathering fabric onto an already loose T quickly becomes elephantine, so be carefuland add a tie-belt to tuck in the fullness.

IMG_1513

(Simple tip: Use store-bought ribbon for a belt, melted at the ends with a flame to prevent fraying.)

T-shirt fabric can stretch when sewn, but sewing it against a durable cotton fabric actually holds it in place very nicely. Pin it in plenty of places to make sure, before you sew the waist.

Hem up the skirt, and add embellishments if you like. A flower, a pocket, rickrack, whatever you please.

IMG_1517.2

Yes, I pulled that blue one out of the laundry hamper for this picture. Sorry about that.

And now all your sewing problems are solved, right? Unless you have brainless moments like I do, and still sew an occasional seam inside out, with the raw edge on the right side. Ugh. Been there, done that.

But most times? Easy peasy. And you have a whole new dress without worrying about sleeves or necklines or facings. Awesome!

I am not very good at explaining these things, so if you have questions please ask.

Mod-Podge-n-Yarn candle holders

Guess what?

all three

I just found a cheap, simple, and thoroughly cute craft for any occasion. Found, I say, not invented. My mom introduced me to it over Thanksgiving, but our original source is my friend Renee Shafer (A Beautiful Captivation), and her sister Andrea Graybill.

closeup

Renee made these for a bachelorette party two years ago already, so … let’s just say it takes some of us a while to catch on. She and her sis also made them in fall colors this year. My mom, organizing a family craft, chose Christmas colors to match the season.

I think they’re darling.

You will need:

Balloons – any color
Yarn – any color
Mod Podge
Styrofoam plate
Latex gloves (optional)*
Battery-operated tea light

Blow up a balloon. Cover your workspace with newspaper or something disposable to catch drips. Pour some Mod Podge onto a Styrofoam plate and dip your yarn in it to soak, wrapping and crisscrossing it around the balloon. Hang up to fully dry. Pop balloon. Insert a battery-operated tea light into the yarn globe and hang somewhere pretty.

*(We did ours barehanded, but we were sick of Mod Podge by the time we were done, and picked shreds of it off our hands for the rest of the day…)

white one

Now I think that’s a pretty awesome craft, and customizable for any size and season. Thanks again to my mom and Renee Shafer!

portrait against wall

*****

Posted with permission.

If you want some inspirational words for moms in the thick of it, don’t miss this beautiful post of Renee’s: “Why NOW is the Time to Speak.”

Handmade notes of Thanksgiving

Confession: Sometimes I am tired of confessing my idiocies.

If you’re tired of hearing of them, don’t worry—you’re not nearly as tired as I am of committing them. I told Alison this week that “any organizational/ navigational skills I have are a desperate attempt to get a handle on my naturally forgetful and scatterbrained self. True story.”

I planned and planned and over-planned this week. I planned for the ultra-special lunch exchange at my boys’ school; I planned the dishes I’ll bring to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house; I planned the brunch I’m hosting on Saturday; I planned ahead for Christmas. I bought supplies. I made lists. I stocked my fridge and checked my ingredients and made food ahead of time and got on top of everything…

And then this morning.

Ryan woke me in good time and I, exhausted from a late night and then a wakeful session with my crying foster son, fell back to sleep. At 7:37 a.m., I re-woke and staggered out of bed, and as I entered the bathroom this thought came to me, jangling: “What about chapel with the junior high girls, hmm?”

Oh NO!!

Ten bright-faced girls were counting on me to show up. I needed to leave at 8:20, 8:25 at latest. I needed to pack two lunches, prepare my own body and heart, dress and comb and feed two preschoolers, and – oh, newsflash: I had utterly forgotten to brainstorm, research, and concoct the Thanksgiving Craft I promised those girls this morning. I had no idea what we were making.

I panicked.

I spent the whole time I was washing, dressing, and combing groaning to God to help me. I thought and thought. Thanksgiving turkeys? No supplies on hand. Pumpkin praise? I did that with them last year—and I don’t have enough pumpkins. Something with fabric? But what?

As I stepped out of the bathroom, I had another thought… (I need to check that doorway; maybe God is sending me brainwaves and reminders as I pass through…?)

Just this.

card 1

Paper? Check. Sewing machine? Always ready. Scissors and glue? Available at the school.

Oh thank you God thank you thank you.

I still could never have made it without my husband’s generous help through our children’s morning routine. And my hair looked {still looks} like something a pig sat on. And, mercifully, I entirely forgot that I’d done a similar craft with these girls before. And my foster son messed his diaper halfway through our session and I had to put him in the hallway so we could breathe for those last minutes.

But I showed up. And I got to coach them on the sewing machine and oh, we had fun. Some of these pictures include their work.

Here’s how:

1. Fold a paper into a basic card shape.

{This card is made from 12×12 sheet cut in half. Tri-fold to form a pretty flap.}

trifold card

2. Cut or tear a rectangle of colored paper for the face of the card.

3. Machine-sew the colored paper to the white.

{Brown thread looks pretty too.}

card 4

4. Add cut-out shapes to suit the season… leaves, pumpkins, candles.

{Use small stencils or cookie cutters for easy templates, or just have fun freelancing.}

card 3

5. Write a word or two on the card’s cover.

card 2

6. Add a message inside and share with someone who’s blessed you.

card inside

Let your children join you in Thanksgiving. They’re not too little to snip and glue, nor too young to express gratitude. You can handle the sewing machine, or farm it off to your teenage daughter, or skip it entirely.

It’s the season to give thanks. Start with God, and then those He’s placed near you—and if He has preserved your sanity and given you ideas when you don’t deserve them and helped you through harried mornings, say it again. Oh, thank you, thank you…