Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ways To Give This Holiday Season

I love the holidays, and what better way to celebrate the holidays than to give to those less fortunate? There are two causes which I support every year, and both are near and dear to my heart.

The first is Operation Christmas Child. OCC takes up donations of shoe boxes filled with goodies and sends them to children around the world who otherwise wouldn't have a Christmas.

I've participated for as long as I can remember. If you'd like to participate, here's what you need to do:

*Find a shoe box (I usually buy the plastic shoe boxes because the family can use it after to store things in or use to get water.)

*Decide if you want it to be for a boy or a girl and fill it with things!

*Print a label from their website and include a donation for shipping (There is a $7 suggested donation per box. You can even check an option and they'll email you letting you know what country your box went to!)

*Wrap a rubber band around your box and drop it off! National Collection week is THIS WEEK so the sooner you do this, the better! (Click here for locations in your area)

Gift ideas:
small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), etc.

School Supplies
pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Hygiene Items
toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

Hard candy and lollipops (please double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps; sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)

A personal note
In a separate envelope, you may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. (If you include your name and address, the child may write back.)

Things not to include:

Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snowglobes or glass containers; aerosol cans.

My shoeboxes are all wrapped up and ready to be dropped off tomorrow! :)

The second charity I love to support at Christmas is St. Jude's. This is a super easy one to support, and also a bit fun. Answer me a question: What do you do with all of the cards you receive once the holidays are over? Did you know that St. Jude's has a card recycling program? They do! You can mail them the fronts of your cards and the kids at St. Jude's make new cards with your unwanted cards. The cards are then sold to raise money for the hospital. How brilliant is that? You can also purchase the handmade Christmas cards from St. Jude's, they're $10 for a pack of 10. As far as I know you cannot purchase the cards online, so call 1-877-977-7572 to place your order. They take donations year round and have a particular need for Birthday and Thank You cards. Already have your Christmas cards all planned for this year? You can also purchase inserts to put in with your Christmas cards. For a donation of your choosing (though a $5 minimum donation per insert is suggested) you can let your friends and family know that you support a great cause by making a donation in their honor. 

To donate your card fronts, please mail them to:
St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

I'm sure you all have charities that you like to support during the holidays (or year round!) so please let me know what they are in the comments so I can check them out! I'm always looking for new ways to give.

Bah Humbug! ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fired Up Friday

Sorry for the radio silence the past few weeks. I was desperately trying to finish the first round of revisions on my dystopian time travel novel (which I finished at about 10:00 on Monday night) and then I stupidly decided to do NaNoWriMo this year (what can I say, I'm a sucker for The Pain), so I've been a bit busy. I'll be pretty busy for the remainder of the year with the holidays coming up, but I'm going to try to schedule some posts in advance so the blog doesn't just sit empty.

Now on to my Fired Up Friday, which is brought to you today by Fall. Fall is my all time favorite season. I love the colors of the leaves changing, fall festivals, pumpkins, and the crisp, sunny days. The weather has finally started to cool off here in Texas (We caved and turned the heat on last night. Don't judge, it was 34 degrees!) and I am very thankful, those 100+ degree days were starting to make me a little loopy. So without taking up to much of your time, here is why Fall inspires me, brought to you by pictures this week.

Is it weird to be inspired by tights? Because I am. I have bought about six different colors of tights to wear this fall, and I think I need at least two other colors (it's an addiction). Here I am in a dress my husband got me for our anniversary with teal tights. 
As I said earlier, I am digging this cooler weather. High today of 65? YES PLEASE. 
Every year when we carve pumpkins I'm always surprised by how hard and time consuming it is. These are our pumpkins for this year, I did the owl, and my husband did NightMare Moon from My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic.

I love pumpkin anything, pretty much. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie... pumpkin anything. Today I made up a recipe for Pumpkin Harvest Bread, which turned out awesome! I'll share the recipe with you on a later date, but here's a tease picture for now. :)

I love Fall so much I chose to get married in it. My husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary on the 27th. As you saw from the first picture, he got me a lovely dress and I got him a laptop bag. He treated me to my favorite breakfast (Shipley's chocolate filled donuts!) then we drove out to Marble Falls to visit the pumpkin patch there and had dinner at The Melting Pot that evening. The following day we visited San Antonio to go to the Alamo (I've never been, and he's only been as a child) and then spent the day at the Riverwalk. All in all we had a fabulous anniversary and weekend. The rest of the pictures in this post will be of our visit to the pumpkin patch and San Antonio. Hope you enjoy!