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{Giveaway} Faith, Hope, and Love Prints

Living & Giving

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Happy Friday! Sorry that this post is getting up pretty late in the day, but Caleb just wouldn’t let me be great. Now that he has simmered down a bit, I felt like this was a good time to whip out my laptop.

In Tuesday’s post, I talked about why I love visual reminders to help me keep the faith when life gets challenging. I’ve never been big on prints and that was mainly because I didn’t get the point of them.

“So, I just frame paper?” Hmm.

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Caleb’s Charitable Birth Announcements

Living & Giving, Motherhood

I used to hate getting my mail. It always seemed like nothing but endless bills, junk mail, and random offers. Recently though, wedding invitations, thank you cards, and birth announcements have started to break up the clutter of blah being delivered by my mail lady. I love receiving these little bits of sunshine and have tried to step up my correspondence game. So, before Caleb arrived, I already knew what kind of birth announcements that I wanted to mail out.

Many of my friends and colleagues have used Tiny Prints for their cards, so I snagged a credit for the site on Zulily and got to shopping. I had no idea that when I was ordering Caleb’s birth announcements that I would be helping children in need. However, that is exactly what happened when I selected these cute cards from Tiny Prints for our friends and family.

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Tiny Prints has a collection of birth announcements and stationery that helps to support the work being done by Baby2Baby, a non-profit organization that provides low-income children, ages zero to 12, with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. While I didn’t intentionally select this particular design for that reason, it serves as an added bonus.

I am so grateful that our family was both blessed with items that we needed and also in a financial position to buy anything that we didn’t get as gifts. I can’t imagine the stress and worry that many parents face when it comes to preparing for a new baby. Organizations like Baby2Baby serve a very important role and deserve all of the support that they can get. To learn more about the work they are doing, visit their website baby2baby.org.

Learn more about Tiny Prints partnership and check out all of the items in their charitable collection here.

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When Spring Doesn’t Get the Memo

Living & Giving

This morning, I woke up to a snow-covered balcony and plenty of flurries falling from the sky. *checks calendar* Yep, it’s March 23rd, but it’s also March 23rd in Chicago. As such, spring’s true arrival seems to be a bit fluid and totally up to Mother Nature. So, while I’ve been shifting my wardrobe to brighter colors and neutral heels, winter has not-so-politely asked me to pump my brakes.

Sigh.

In an effort to not be so bummed (or pissed) about this, I’ve decided to think about five things that I can do to keep my sanity during this transition period between winter and spring.

1. Load up on hot cocoa. Ever trying to wean myself from coffee, hot chocolate has become my go-to drink when I need to warm up and treat myself at the same time. The Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate Mix ($10.50) from Lake Champlain Chocolates is sure to make you feel warm on the inside while also supporting fair trade. Anyone else a fan of spicy chocolate treats? I’ll talk about my obsession with cocoa chili powder another day.

Photo Jan 18, 10 08 22 AM

Warmer days (and drinks) in Miami

2. Invest in an incredible throw. Curling up on the couch with a cozy throw is one of my favorite things to do. In fact, it’s basically a must-do on Sundays. While perusing Instagram the other day, I stumbled across some beautiful alpaca wool throws made by Sackcloth & Ashes ($99-$109). For each blanket that you purchase, they will provide one to your local homeless shelter.

3. Brighten my space with some beautiful blooms. I’ve been on a hunt for tulips and peonies to brighten the mood in my apartment. I’ve also been lusting after this bouquet from Flowers for Dreams, a Chicago company that makes a donation to local charity with each order. Pretty, right?

Medium Spring Bouquet, $55

Medium Spring Bouquet, $55

4. Flip off the frigid temps with a brightly-colored mani. After a season of “Lincoln Park After Dark” and similar shades, my digits are ready for lighter colors. I chose a stone gray polish over the weekend, but I’m eyeing something a little more fun like this yellow from Pear Nova for my next trip. If the sun won’t come to me, I’ll create my own sunshine.

"Heavy Meadow" by Pear Nova, $11.50

“Heavy Meadow” by Pear Nova, $11.50

5. Spread some warmth with cold weather supplies. If you still need to break out your gloves, hats, and thick socks, then you know that those without homes/living on the streets still need those items as well. Reach out to your local shelter or community housing group to donate any cold weather items that you can.

What’s it like in your neck of the woods today? If it’s still cold and snowy, how are you coping with this transition period? Any additional tips to share?

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Gifts That Give Back Under $50

Gifts That Give Back, Living & Giving

Happy Sunday! We’re in the home stretch now for holiday shopping, especially if you’re planning to purchase items online. In my second gift guide, you will find items that folks ranging from foodies to techies will love. My favorites? The Giving Keys sweatshirt and the LSTN wooden headphones. Check out the roundup below.

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1. This book is what happens when celeb chefs unite for children, $26

2. A must-have item for the resident do-gooder in your crew, $50

3. Of course charity:water designed a cool wooden phone case, $35

4. How about pairing these winter mugs with a hot cocoa kit, $48

5. These six lip colors help support the MAC AIDS Fund, $40

6. Smell good and do good with this perfume from Clinique, $38

7. Give the gift of snuggle with a cute throw, $30

8. A little pop of color in the home is always a good thing, $38

9. These chocolates are almost too pretty to eat (almost), $30

10. Zebra wood headphones make a great gifts for music lovers, $50

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P.S. Looking for charitable gifts under $25? Here you go.

Gifts That Give Back Under $25

Gifts That Give Back, Living & Giving

Happy Holidays, everyone! With two weeks until Christmas, we are deep into gift-giving season. Every year, I come across gifts that give back, but I’ve never compiled an official gift guide. That ends today (obviously). I’ve compiled three guides designed to meet various budget needs.

First up, gifts under $25.

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1. The cutest moccasins for your favorite little one, $21

2. A little ankara makes this tee perfect, $18

3. Gold leather earrings perfect for a night out, $24

4. This handmade teensy beanie makes a great baby gift, $23

5. Kiehl’s is giving its famous crème the “Norman Rockwell” treatment, $18

6. May your note cards be merry and bright, $12

7. “Build your tomorrow” with a little arm candy, $15

8. Give these cool pencils and support Kenyan children’s education, $10

9. EOS and Nicole by OPI bring you the best stocking stuffer, $10

10. These unique coasters support Haitian artisans, $20

The UNICEF note cards are my favorite for sure. See anything on this list that you like? The next two guides are on their way. Stay tuned!

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Where Has The Passion Planner Been All My Life?

Living & Giving

I like to make big plans. In fact, I make so many big plans that I actually have an execution problem. Meaning that, I probably only execute 25% of what I think about. This isn’t the blog post to discuss why that is. However, if you’re interested, you can read my post about my challenge with finishing what I start. Because of this issue, I’ve been trying all types of things to get me from the big idea to the actual “doing.”

I keep a day planner but have found that it doesn’t always help me work backwards from big idea to the little tasks that I need to complete. I keep a notebook for the doodling and idea brainstorms but then get annoyed that there’s nowhere to jot down dates and actionable timelines. I make weekly to-do lists broken down between home, personal, passion, and community but always end up with something falling through the cracks. So, here I am with one day planner, one notebook, one half-checked to-do list, lots of big ideas, and no true (paper-centered) way to keep everything together.

Until…

Last night, one of my Facebook friends shared a link to the Passion Planner project on Kickstarter. From the name alone, I was intrigued. I clicked the link and was led to the brilliant video below.

WHOA. My brain started shouting from the rooftops, “This is IT! You need this!” And, that brain shout was actually followed by a verbal gasp and loud “Oh my God. YES!” To break it down for you, the Passion Planner brands itself as “the life coach that fits in your backpack.” It is essentially a sketchbook, day planner, journal, and inspirational source all in one. For a notebook-loving, day planner-toting, scribbler queen such as myself, this idea is pure gold. I needed in.

Apparently, my reaction was not that uncommon considering that this project has received nearly $300K pledges and over 9,300 backers – including me. Last night, I immediately ordered one for myself and am anxiously awaiting its arrival in January 2015. I’ve never made small plans but I haven’t been to good about executing the large ones. I’m so excited to have this tool in my future world.

In the words of Daniel Burnham, Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.

Amen.

To learn more about the Passion Planner, you can head to the website. If you’re on IG, you might also be interested in their feed. There are lots of great motivational quotes shared on a regular basis (@passionplanner).

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Volunteering in the ‘Burbs

KB's Journey, Living & Giving

Six months ago, I swapped my Chicago (proper) address for a suburban one (*sobs*) and have been adjusting to life ever since. There are many practical reasons why I chose to move to the suburbs, but the most important one was my husband’s declaration that he would never live in the city of Chicago. I begged and tried to sell him on the virtues of my hometown, but it was a no go. I get it.

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So, now I’m out here and am trying to substitute many of my favorite Chicago (proper) activities with acceptable suburban versions. I know where I can get jerk chicken (25 minutes away) and found a great nail spa in town. One of the things that I was really concerned about was finding volunteer opportunities out here. While there’s a tendency to think that the suburbs are perfect, the truth is that many people out here need assistance as well. So, how could I help in my new neighborhood?

Well, the first sign that I received was the sight of a food drop-off bucket for the Self Help Closet & Food Pantry of Des Plaines in a grocery store across the street from our house. This is probably my favorite way to give back because I can just buy extra staples or canned goods on sale and place them in the container. I found out that the Food Pantry has regular volunteer opportunities so I hope to help out there one day.

Another opportunity that I’m really excited about is the Breakfast for Baby activity hosted by my local Salvation Army chapter. On the second Saturday of the month, families with little ones under a year old can come out for breakfast and the opportunity to “shop” for diapers and other baby supplies.

Between the above opportunities and the listings on the Hands On Suburban Chicago website, it makes me feel better to know where and how I can give back to my community. This isn’t to say that I won’t ever volunteer in Chicago (proper) again. I love my city too much to do that. Besides with my annual service challenge on the horizon, I need all of the service learning projects that I can find! More info on that to come. Until then…

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Image: Daily Herald

Laced Up and on the Move

Living & Giving

I have been trying to become a true runner for yearssss. Last year, with my sister’s encouragement, I finally completed a 5K during the AIDS Run Walk. It was a sweaty, ugly completion, but at least I crossed the finish line. With my 2013 accomplishment in mind, I jumped at a couple of opportunities to get my reignite my interest in running while supporting two separate but worthy causes: fighting hunger and supporting children’s hospitals.

After completing my first 5K!

After completing my first 5K!

Today marks the beginning of the Miracle Marathon, a cool event to support my local Children’s Miracle Network hospital. Before you fall out of your seat, this is not a traditional marathon. Instead of running a bajillion miles at one time, everyone just commits to run one mile/day from September 16th to October 12th (my birthday!). If only all marathons could be so simple, right?! I’m looking forward to this running event because it is such a simple idea and will help keep me on track for the next item on my fall race agenda.

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That item would be Run 10 FEED 10 on October 19th in Chicago. I have a confession about this event. I signed up a couple of years ago but never ran it. *winces* So, I have to redeem myself and prove that I can complete a 10K, even if my legs and lungs turn against me. I’ve been doing training runs, but am nowhere near where I need to be. Thank God for my trusty dusty training plan. It is giving me the confidence that I need to prayerfully knock out these miles.

With all of this running, I have been on the prowl for a great pair of running shoes but I’ll save that for another post. In the meantime, I would love to hear any suggestions for becoming a better runner. Help!

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Domestic Violence Resources in Chicago

Domestic Violence, Living & Giving

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This week, the topic of domestic violence has been ALL over the media thanks to TMZ’s release of the video capturing Ray Rice attacking his wife, Janay. Much has been said about the NFL’s reaction, Janay’s statement on Instagram, and why Ray did what he did. I haven’t really joined these discussions and I probably won’t. However, a few things come through the conversations loud and clear. Domestic violence is incredibly personal, painfully real, and swept under the rug way too often. I didn’t need a video to tell me that though.

 Thankfully, there are many organizations that work very hard to help those dealing with domestic violence escape and recapture control of their lives. Below I’ve rounded up a list of resources here in Chicago. I pray that this list helps someone. Please share and consider giving back with your time and money to help these groups continue this work. For them and the women that they help, this isn’t just this week’s “water-cooler topic.” This is their life. Please show your support.

 

Organizations

Between Friends
P.O. Box 608548
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 274-5232
http://www.betweenfriendschicago.org/

Between Friends is dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and abuse by providing education, support, counseling and advocacy services to individuals and families affected by abuse.

 

Mujeras Latinas En Accion
2124 W. 21st Place
Chicago IL 60608
(773) 890-7676
http://www.mujereslatinasenaccion.org/

Mujeras Latinas en Accion provides domestic violence and abusive relationship counseling for women.

Family Rescue
9204 S. Commercial Avenue, Suite 401
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 375-1918
http://www.familyrescueinc.org/

Family Rescue is dedicated to eliminating domestic violence by providing comprehensive support services and shelter to victims of domestic violence, particularly to abused women and their children.

House of the Good Shepherd
P.O. Box 13453
Chicago, IL 60613-0453
(773) 935-3434
http://hgschicago.org/

House of the Good Shepherd offers an intensive residential recovery program for women with children who are struggling to overcome the trauma of domestic violence.

Rainbow House
4149 W. 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60623
(773) 521-1815
http://rainbow-house.org/

Rainbow House has two locations and offers intervention, counseling, and advocacy services for women and children affected by abuse.

Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC)
1116 N. Kedzie, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60651
(773) 489-9081
http://cawc.org/

CAWC provides a shelter for women and children, and counseling, advocacy, and a 24-hour hotline for those affected by domestic violence.

Hotlines

Chicago Domestic Violence Help (24 hours/day)
877-863-6338

The Domestic Violence Help Hotline provides referrals (counseling, shelters and legal services) to victims of domestic violence throughout Illinois. The Hotline is operated by The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.

Family Rescue (24 hours/day)
800-360-6619

Cook County Domestic Violence Hotline(24 hours/day)
800-603-4357

Legal Resources

Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse
555 W. Harrison, Suite 1900
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 325-9155
http://www.dvlcchicago.org/

LifeSpan Center for Legal Services & Advocacy
70 E. Lake Street, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: (312) 408-1210
http://life-span.org/

Life Span provides comprehensive services for women and children ranging from counseling and criminal court advocacy to legal representation in all types of family law cases.

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Photo: Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs