Food Allergy Hate – #Write31Days

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Food allergies… well, simply stated, they stink.  It stinks to be the kid who can’t have what other kids are eating (and talking about eating).  It is not fun to be the parent who has to say no, read every ingredient label, have conversations at every restaurant, or continuously go through “the list” with family members when you vacation or the kids are sleeping over.  It is not fun to be the person throwing a dinner party, only to find out you have to change your entire menu because of an allergy issue that can’t be resolved by simply having a separate dish.

It isn’t fun for the family members who have to give up their favorite food because the newest family member has a severe allergy.  It isn’t fun to know that you are the kid responsible for making the class “allergen free”, which is why you’re class can’t have cupcakes delivered for their birthday or peanut butter and jelly in their lunch box.  It isn’t fun to be the kid sent to sit at a separate table in the lunchroom, to sit by yourself… when your classmates are seated together.  It isn’t fun when you don’t get to eat your candy while out trick or treating, because mom has to check it first.  Or, that all of the candy you collected was for “fun” and will be thrown out… as mom pulls out the bag of candy that she prepared just for you.

It is not fun.  Not for anyone.

I have a friend who loves seafood, but her husband is allergic.  We went out for seafood on day.  When she was done, she promptly headed to the restroom where she washed her hands, faced, brushed her teeth several times, and removed the top layer of the two shirts she wore.  When she got home, that top shirt went right to the wash, her hands would be washed again, and then she could greet her husband with a hug/kiss.

I have another friend, she has a gluten allergy.  I’ve sat next to her in a restaurant when the waiter asked her “is this a preference, or an actual allergy” when she shared her allergy and questioned items on the menu.

A mother I know constantly shares accounts of the attitudes she gets about her son’s potentially deadly peanut allergy.  These attitudes include family members, immediate family members.  People who are unwilling to read labels, because they don’t understand that just because it doesn’t have peanuts IN IT … doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been exposed to peanuts in the factory.  They don’t understand (or choose not t0) what a “peanut free kitchen” is and why it is important.

I was speaking with a woman who was planning a dinner party, and she mentioned in a huff that she had to make sure everything was gluten free because a certain person was attending… as she rolled her eyes.  Following her statement with a verbal tirade about how there is no such thing.

I can’t wrap my head around the attitudes that people have toward those with food allergies.  The allergy itself is not day at the park, going out to eat is a hassle, it really is an inconvenience for everyone.  The people who have the allergy are fully aware this, they don’t need attitude thrown at them.  At the same time, these are still people who want to be social.   So the question is… do you really want that person at your dinner party, or do you want the tai chicken with peanut sauce?  Which is more important to you?

Do you want your child to have is best friend at his birthday party sleepover, or is it more important to have eggs the next morning for breakfast?

For me?  I’d rather have the people.  I can eat what ever I want, whenever I want.  I’m happy to skip the allergy laden food, if it means I can include more people in my life.  I’d rather know that a child is safe in my care, even if it means taking out all the peanut butter and cleaning down my kitchen a few times before the birthday party commences.  I’d rather spend the extra time or money selecting a treat the whole class can enjoy together versus singling out one student who can’t partake.

When we take the food allergies of another person seriously, and put the effort to ensuring we do not put them in harms way… we are saying I LOVE YOU.  I CARE ABOUT YOU.  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME.  YOUR SAFETY IS MY PRIORITY.

As a parent, when you go above and beyond to accommodate my child’s needs… that is love.  If you love my child well, I am going to love you.  You will have stolen my heart.

As a person, when you accommodate the needs of one of my family members or friends, that is love.  Even if you don’t know them well, you are saying I love you enough to care about those who are important to you.

Adult Coloring Books – #Write31Days

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Look what I found at PUBLIX!  I am super excited about this little find.  I actually grabbed it a few weeks ago, and my intention was to color it.  I had been going back and forth between using colored pencils, markers, or pens.  The pages are thick and single sided, which even brought to mind using watercolors for some of them.

Reality was that I just didn’t have the time to get started on anything, so it sat on my desk.

Today, I had a bit of free time.  I plucked the booklet off of my desk and began thumbing through the pages trying to decide my plan of attack.  Did I want to treat this as a coloring book, working my way through the pages?  Or, would I pick a few pages out and spend a little more effort on staying in the lines.  If I did this, I could potentially frame the pages and hang them as art pieces in my house.

However, to my surprise, I didn’t want to color a single page.  As I looked through some of the intricate designs I had an epiphany!   I could use the pieces for inspiration for a few quilling projects.  I think for now, I just want to work on some of the individual images.  However, I may then piece them together and create a picture/scene of some sort.

I’m curious if anyone else has ended up using the adult coloring books for something other than a relaxing color session?

What About Me? – #Write31Days

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To those who know me, I love anything arts and crafts.  I love to craft with paper, or grab a paint brush and create something new to hang in my house.  My home is filled primarily with pieces of art that have been made by various family members.  Occasionally, I will head out with some friends to one of the “sip and paint” style events.  You can bring food and drink, socializing with your friends for a ladies night out… while you paint. 

Painting is not something new to me, I take to it pretty easily but even more so when I am being given step by step instructions. 

A friend invited me to a “sip and paint” party at a local studio, we were going to paint an Octopus on these cool boarded plaques.  There were about six women seated at my table, and despite the instructors best efforts these various octopi couldn’t look any more different from each other if we tried.  Well, maybe if we painted them different colors would could get one step further.

The instructor would pass by and comment on my octopus. 

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”

“That’s really good.  I like how you painted the tentacles.”

“I love the detail spots you added.”

“Wow.  That’s coming along so well.”

Let me key you in on something, I really do not like public affirmations like that.  I don’t.  I get embarrassed easily (shocking, I know).  It makes me uncomfortable for others who may be struggling.  I am also highly critical of myself and would prefer to float under the radar… or I’m too busy fretting over that mistake no one else notices but is staring me in the eyes challenging me to “fix it”.

After her first few passes and comments, the gal sitting next to me was starting to feel something about the attention.  Kindred to my own soul, she made funny comments about it.  Not directly TO me, but in my range of hearing.  I’d laugh about it, because… well… she was funny.  I’m down with self deprecation, so I chimed in a bit myself.  She laughed.  I laughed.  Then just as the tension was dying, the teacher would whiz by again commenting on my octopus.  The cycle would start over. 

Finally, she began to speak a bit louder to ensure the teacher heard her.

What about me?  Am I not doing a good job?  Is she the teachers pet?

While her tone suggested she was saying these things in jest, we all know there is usually a bit of truth in these types of comments.  The teacher was not picking up on it, but I already had.  So I began complimenting her on certain aspects of her piece.  I pointed out a detail that she added that I had skipped because I didn’t think I would do it right.  I  shared that I was worried about messing up the piece.  The one of the other gals chimed in, complementing another facet of her finished piece.

It is hard, when you are trying to do a good job.  We seek encouragement so that we know we are on the right path.  If we have put in a lot of effort, we desire someone to notice it and appreciate that effort.  That’s a lot to handle and balance with being humble.  It is a check to our pride, graciousness, and humility.

Sometimes, it’s more than just a painting or a task we completed.  We just want to be acknowledged as a person.

There are times, however, where the Lord doesn’t want us out in front of the pack.  He doesn’t want us waving our arms, bouncing in our seats, shouting “look at me”.  In fact, he wants our work to unknown… no credit, pats on the back, accolades.  In a world that is giving prizes for participating, picking weekly superstars, and overloaded recognition we can begin to expect it within all the facets of our lives.  Then, when it doesn’t happen … we take it too personally.

I wonder though, if we are supposed to give the Lord the glory in ALL THINGS… why do we demand such accolades for ourselves?  Why do we demand to be seen, even when He clearly is asking us not to?

Lord, let my human fleshy needs take a back seat to your wonderful righteous glory! Amen.

Couples Valentines Day Party

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I love a good party, a time to fellowship with friends or family.  If you are looking for something special to do with your small group, bible study group, or even just your close group of friends (or relatives), consider hosting a small Valentines Party!

If you are on a budget this can seem like a daunting task, but I assure you that there are ways to make it happen even on small budget.    This year won’t be our first party, and what I have learned is to start small and build each year.  To begin this year’s planning process, I start with an inventory of what I already have.  Figure out what I need to buy, and finally I consider what things I would like to add to our inventory.

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Our first party consisted of chairs scattered about, a fun game, and desserts.  We started the party a bit later in the evening, allowing the couples to head out for a nice dinner and join us for dessert a little later.  This year, we’ve planned a full meal.  This meant I was going to need more table setting decor and less room decor.

In order to keep the decorations & supplies affordable I shop at:

  • The Dollar Tree
  • Target (in the $1-$3 bins)
  • Oriental Trading

Also, because I know we will have future parties, I like to shop after Valentines Day for upcoming year’s decor additions.

To keep my sanity in order, when it comes to the food:

  • Some items are homemade
  • Some items are store bought & altered
  • Some items are purchased from local bakeries and restaurants.

Another option is to find a local caterer who will handle all the food preparation for you, and it isn’t as expensive as you would think.  If you have a mom friend who loves to cook (and is great at it), you could hire her to do the catering too.  This can turn into a blessing for the both of you.

I don’t like to plan a party that makes me crazy, I like to plan a party I can enjoy from beginning to end.

This year, I also partnered with Family Christian in order to showcase some of their great Valentines Day related items.

I even scored a GREAT deal when I found a slightly banged up lighted sign from Christmas, which actually fit our party decor!

A Good Party Starts with a Great Invitation

Since our party is for couples, I was only sending 1 invitation for every 2 physical guests.  I decided that it made more sense to hand make an invitation versus order something printed online.

I printed the party invitation on white paper, in red ink.  At Target, I purchased a book of stickers, 1 package of square doilies, and a package of cards with matching envelopes.  I used a glue stick and stamps I already had on hand.  For just $3.00 in supplies, I was able to hand craft eight invitations.

A Good Party Captures Memories

At our first party, I built a “Kissing Booth” and put together a few photo props.  At one point in the evening we took several photos of each couple.  After the party, I took those photos and made photo strips out of them (like you would receive in a photo booth in a mall or theme park).  This year I, I decided to go with a theme more akin to a Valentines Dance.    I purchased props from The Dollar Tree, Target, and even made a large polaroid frame by hand.  Oriental Trading had inexpensive silver foil drapes and an awesome valentines border.  I paired this with strung felt hearts I had on hand from a previous party. 

A Good Party Is a Lot of Fun

Besides capturing memories with the photo booth, we also have a lot of fun by playing games.  A group favorite is the not so newly wed game, where we all answer questions about our spouses.  Dry erase boards and markers can be purchased at most Dollar Tree stores.   I found a great set of cards with questions at Home Goods.  This year I added in Couples Mad Libs (I loved playing these as a kid), which will be scattered about our dining table to use throughout the evening.  I’m also working on a Jenga Truth or Dare Game I found on Pinterest!  If you are going to have games, you must have prizes.  I drove to a nearby Family Christian store and picked up a few home decor items and a set of Mr. & Mrs. Coffee Mugs.  We also have a couples gift exchange!  I found the cute gift bags at the Dollar Tree. 

A Good Party Has Good Food

With the internet we have access to websites that can help us plan out a great menu.  This year I am planning a Pear and Asiago Salad, Chicken and Artichoke Pasta with Grilled Asparagus, Fresh Bread, and for dessert Red Velvet Cake.  In previous years, I have leaned toward desserts only which included cupcakes, cheesecake, chocolate covered pretzels, and even cake pops.  Websites like Pinterest make it a lot easier to not only find recipes, but also themed food ideas too.  You can even find a full planning page on how to throw your own party from start to finish.  I like to mix it up, coming up with an idea that is totally my own.

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Since this year we decided to have a sit down meal, instead of desserts or finger foods, table decor was added to our supplies this year.   Many components of the decor were diy projects that used inexpensive items like doilies, ribbons, and candles with holders from the dollar tree.  I did invest in a few nicer silk peony flowers, I wanted to ensure they would last through the years.  We added in faux flower petals, table scatter, and a cute runner from Target.  But, my absolute favorite are the milk bottles!  Not only are they cute and perfect for holding our Love Potion Punch, but when we dual purposed them as place cards!

I paired up decorative Valentines paper plates, which are more than enough for the salad with a heartier piece of china for the main dish.  Cute napkins, matching plastic ware for utensils, and disposable cups make for easy clean up.

A Good Party Doesn’t End

Predating our Valentines Day party, our good friends have a Christmas Party each year.  Truth is, we all enjoy spending time together but it gets hard with kids and life in general.  That was when the Valentines Party was born, we didn’t want the party to end.  At the end of the Christmas Party our hosts always sent us home with a great little favor bag.  We decided to do the same.  Our favor bags are little mini date night bags, something the couple can use at home to keep the romance going.

The gift bags and tags are from Target, as well as the candies and the tropical scented candles.  I ordered some mini bath salts from one of my favorite Bath and Body companies, Jordan Essentials.  As a fan of the show Shark Tank, I remembered the episode with the Kisstixx (two lip balms, one for him and one for her, that compliment each other).   From Home Goods, I added in the card game for couples, and finally added a CD of long songs from the local Family Christian store.

I must admit, most favor bags are not quite as generous.  When Family Christian was looking for a  way to promote their Valentines products, and I had already been working with them for book reviews, I jumped at the chance!  So, a big thanks to Family Christian for providing the prizes and CDs for the favor bags! 

I have a big heart for couples continue to build their relationships over time, we need to support strong and health marriages.   To give back to other couples, just as others have blessed us is a great thing. 

Official Family Christian Blogger

#Write31Days – Post 6 – Sweetest Day

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I don’t think there is anyone who is reading this that isn’t familiar with Valentines Day, a time when we declare love in our romantic relationships.    It has gone on to include gifts between parents and their children, card exchanges in classrooms with small parties, and even friends will celebrate their affections for one another.
Recently, the holiday “Sweetest Day” was introduced to me.  To be totally honestly, I had not clue what it was about.  Being someone who likes to research I took on the task of learning about this holiday.  The origins were not quite what I expected.  I assumed it was a pre-Valentines Day type thing…. or that it was simply about being intentionally kind to one another.   Since I was unfamiliar with it, I assumed it was fairly new and probably one of those made up holidays to increase retail sales.  Although I wouldn’t complain if I had the chance to swing by a confectionery for a free gift.
In my research, I learned that it was a midwest thing… being from the south… that explains a lot.
I also learned it goes back to the 1920s and all began out of an act of kindess and compassion toward the “least of these”, the orphans & shut ins from around Cleveland.  A local candy store owner gathered friends and families and delivered sweet little gifts to those who were being overlooked, forgotten about, or had fallen on hard times (this was during the depression).  The idea stuck, other people starting pitching in, and it spread into neighboring towns, cities, and states.
What an AMAZING idea!
And, since I like to PARTY…. why not invite some friends to join YOU and plan a SWEETEST DAY party.  Sweetest Day is the 3rd Saturday in October, so you still have PLENTY of time to plan!
Sweetest Day is on the 17th of October.  Consider one of the following party types:
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  1.  Prepping Party on the 16thgather with your friends, put together your sweetest day gift bags, while fellowshiping, munching, and praying over the recipients.  Then you (and your family, or your friends) can deliver them to recipients on the 17th.

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  1. Sweetest Day Party on the 17thperhaps your church could host a fun day at the church of games, activities, food, etc. and invite groups of disadvantaged children from your surrounding neighborhoods to celebrate together

Don’t forget about the kids who are in hospitals or centers that care for children removed from their homes. You can call ahead and plan something with their coordinators to ensure the gifts are approved, and you know how many to plan for.

Or, your heart might be calling you to celebrate with the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  There are also the men, women, and youth who are in prisons and detention centers who could use a little extra love and encouragement.

If you are going to have a party, think SWEETS but don’t forget the healthy foods too!

If you are celebrating with friends, you might want to have a more indulgent menu of desserts and treats while you prepare your gifts.  However, I am sure that hospitals, nursing homes, children’s centers, and even prisons are not going to be keen on a bunch of junk food!  Apple slices with caramel dip are a great balance and still a sweet treat.  Don’t forget about your friends who need a little salt with their sweet!  Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods are easy, quick, and tasty!

Online retailers, like Family Christian, have items for various age groups and interests.

When putting together gift bags for kids, you may want to consider some of the following ideas:  (Click any photo for more options and suggestions)

coloringpagesbarnbear biblekids

Velvet Wall Posters, Coloring Books are always kid friendly and enjoyed.  Stuffed animals like bears, are a great companion to cuddle into.  Sharing the New Testament with kids in an easy to read format, that has colored illustrations, is a wonderful way to share the Gospel with those you are reaching out to.

books

If you can find out the ages of the children you will be visiting, and gender in some cases, you can also bring a gift of books!  It encourages reading, something they can take with them when they move, and with many great Christian titles you can leave them with a gift that will not only be enjoyable but point them toward Christ.

If you are reaching out to the elderly, some great options include:

largeprintbible

Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not have Bible available for their residents, and if they do… they are usually ones that are donated from personal libraries or a church has purchased new ones for their pews.  This means they are rarely large print Bibles.  If the resident brought one with them to the facility, it is possible that it too is not a large print Bible.  When speaking with volunteers at a local center, large print Bibles were a top request!

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A CD of Hymns might also make a great gift, as most of our older generations grew up on these songs as part of their Sunday worship and even weekly family devotion time.

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And never underestimate the joy a few hand drawn pictures from your children, or the ones in your church!  Take a collection, I am sure moms have a few they can spare.  Or have a party at the center, bring the kids and let them celebrate along side the older generations.  Prepare some sing along songs, have crafts on hand to do together, and check with the facility about any dietary restrictions on food brought in.

tracts

For Larger Gifting … a simple snack size candy bar, lollipop, or individually wrapped cookies and snack packs can be paired up with tracts.  They cover a variety of topics, come in different languages, and there are versions for adults and children too.  They are also inexpensive, a pack of 25 tracts can run you less than $3 per pack!

Some additional thoughts, as you consider the least of these:

A trip to a prison, may have much more stringent rules on what you can and cannot bring it.  These rules may very from prison to prison.  So, you are best to contact them ahead of time and get a list. Due to the number of inmates, you may also want to look for something that you can buy in bulk and give everyone the same thing.

Also keep in mind that addiction recovery centers & mental health care facilities may not allow any outside materials due to the nature of their residents conditions.

If you would like to reach out to women, men, or family shelters (particularly abuse shelters) may ask to pick up your donation to distribute themselves, due to the security and protection of their guests.