Random Acts of Kindness

I love Random Acts of Kindness.  It really does lift your heart and spirit.  And it does the same for the person you do it to.  You never know the effect it can have on another person.  What if they are going through life feeling utterly alone and then you ask them how their day is.  That can be a powerful thing and can change their life for the better by that one act.

I hate to say, but I will be turning 35 this July.  It is hard to believe I will be 35 soon.  I have decided to do 35 acts of kindness by my 35th birthday.  I started making a list so I would have some ideas.  At first it was only a list of 9 things and I was a little nervous I wouldn’t make it.  Within the day I had 35 things on my list.  I think this will be easier than I thought.  I have a feeling once this really starts going more and more will come more naturally and I will exceed the original 35.

Some things I knew about such as leave money on a gas pump or bringing cookies to a neighbor.  Other things were new like leave wipes on a changing table or write a letter to an elderly person through Love for the Elderly I am enjoying finding new ways to show kindness to each other.

I will try to update you as I go along these next 3 months.  I will say I already can cross one off my list!  Last night Alex and I went for a walk.  We saw a man walking his dog.  I have never seen him before and normally I would do a friendly smile and be on my way.  Last night we stopped to say hi and ask a couple of questions about his dog.

What will you do this week to make someone smile?  Will it be to hold a door open for someone?

Make it a great day,

Jen

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Jewelry making

I have found a new hobby.  My husband is going to ban me from entering any store that has crafts in them.

I have always walked by the jewelry section thinking the beads they have are always so pretty and fun.  I decided to look into it and see how it goes.

I first tried a bracelet with stretch cord.  That entailed stringing beads on and then tying knots in the cord.  Then I used clear nail polish as a glue to hold the knots together.  That was it.  Super fast and easy.

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I then tried using wire with a toggle clasp.  I first bought some random wire at Wal-Mart.  It kinked a lot!  I was having a hard time and was ready to give up and never make wire jewelry ever again.  I did some reasearch on the wire and found one that was the world of difference.  It moved freely and making loops to go into the crimp beads was a breeze!

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Here is how I made the bracelet:

I was at my kitchen counter, so I used a towel to keep the beads from rolling everywhere.

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I took one end of the wire and attached one of the toggle clasps.  I used a small crimp bead to secure it on.

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Then, I started stringing my beads.

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I found this charm at Michaels.

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I then finished stringing the rest of my beads.

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Once everything was on it was time to attach the other toggle clasp.  I put on a crimp bead then the clasp.  I looped the wire back through the crimp bead and through the first bead.  Once the wire was pulled through to the correct length, I cut the excess wire.  Then I used my pliers to secure the crimp bead.  It was a little more, and there were mistakes made, but I am happy with it.  I can’t wait to see what else I can come up with the wide variety of beads out there.

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Make it a great day,

Jen

Spending wants vs. needs

‘Tis the season for holiday shopping.  I went out Black Friday shopping this year and spent less than I ever had in previous years.  My list is smaller for those I buy for now.  And that is the day I would normally buy clothes for myself because they would be on sale.  Not because I needed them, but because an Under Armour hoodie was only $30 and it was a good deal.  Really?!  Not the best reason to buy things.

I don’t have the extra cash these days after paying daycare and a new truck payment, so I only bought one shirt for myself for $13.  Big spender!

Paul and I went to the salon two weeks ago for a date.  I am shocked that my nail polish is still on.  I have never had regular polish last this long.  So, here I am looking online at Ulta to see about getting the base/topcoat and a new color to do it at home.  That is saving money in the long run as it would be cheaper to do it myself than pay someone, right.  I then thought, Do I really need it?  The answer is NO.  I do not need new nail polish.  I need food and to pay my bills so we have a roof over our head.  Now, yes I can afford the polish, but that is not the issue running in my head at this moment.

Do I need to buy nail polish to make my life happy and full of purpose?  Do I need nail polish when I can give that $20-$30 to someone in need so they can eat that day.  Do I need to feel pretty when someone else doesn’t feel warm from sleeping outside in a cold Minnesota night?

I do feel the need to simplify.  I do feel the need to cut back and try to find more ways to give more.

We are all here on Earth for a reason.  To love and serve one another.  We are not here to collect material things that serve no purpose.  I am not saying I will never buy nail polish again.  But I am saying I will think twice before buying things.  And I will try to help others more.  Maybe I could take my need for nail polish to those less fortunate.  Maybe the local shelter would like to have a manicure night were we just sit around and paint our nails.  I am sure they would like to feel pretty as well.

Think of others this holiday season.  If all you have to give is a kind smile and a warm greeting, that would still lift someone’s spirit.

What would you like to do to give this holiday?

Make it a great day,

Jen

Be kind

We have all heard of the mid-life crisis.  Is there such a thing as the 1/3 life crisis?  Where you are only a third of the way through and something needs to change.  If so, I feel like I am about to be in it.

I have been feeling the need more and more to give back, to help those in need.  I found a shelter near me that I can volunteer at.  I have been finding ways to do small acts of kindness.

Most recently, the Bearfoot Baker had a post about giving back with cookies.  A cookie truly can change the world one person at a time.  It is gratifying for the cookie baker to give to someone.  It lifts us up to put a smile on someone’s face as we give our creations away.  And it also lifts that other person up when they receive our cookies, especially for no other reason but to say Hello, I am thinking of you today.

This weekend I made some toffee snickerdoodle cookies.  I had Paul deliver some to the neighbors across the street.  And last night Alex and I brought some to my younger brother for #giveafriendacookie.  If you are looking at a way to give back, try this out.  Bake some cookies and drop them off where ever you see fit.  With a friend, neighbor, police station etc.

My 1/3 life crisis:  I am feeling like I need to build the relationships in my life that I have neglected.  Life is short.  We don’t know how long we have here on Earth.  I put off so many things, or make excuses of why not to do something.  I have missed out on getting to know those close in my life, and that is my fault.  I need to focus on them and not stay in my comfortable bubble at home.

I heard on a podcast this past week:  What would your judgement look like if your life ended today?  There wouldn’t be room for “I will volunteer next month when I have the time, or I will call her tomorrow”.  What would it look like today.  Have you done good things in your life?  Have you helped others like God wants you to?  We are put here to love one another and I think we forget that as we are going through our daily lives.  How many times have we said we will do something when we are less busy next month, next year.  Is what we are doing now more important than helping others?  Is it better to stay in our comfortable bubble or should we use our strengths to help lift others up?

These are all the things that have been consuming my thoughts lately.  I feel like I need to be more present with my family and friends.  I should find ways to use my talents to help lift other’s spirits.

I started reading Jen Hatmaker’s book Interrupted.  Yesterday I was reading a chapter where she talks about the word new.  We may have been practicing our faith, but is there a new way that would better help those around us?  Then on the way home there was a car in front of me that said New Way.  Ok, I see the sign loud and clear.  Time to make some New changes in life.  Time to cherish my husband, love my family, and lend a helping hand to those who need it.

Time to start living a new life.

As it states in Matthew 22: 37-39  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Plain and simple.  We are here to love one another.  Be kind to your neighbors and the people around you.  It is time to put that into action.

Make it a great day,

Jen

Carmel Apple Cupcakes

I had a request for 3 flavors of cupcakes for a friend’s boy’s 2nd birthday.  One of them was Carmel apple.  This is Paul’s favorite cupcake.

It is an apple cupcake with caramel in the center.  Cream cheese frosting with caramel drizzled on top.  Need I say more?

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They take a little time as you have to grate the apples and make your caramel sauce, but it is worth the time.  I did the caramel sauce the night before due to time.  I used this recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  Caramel sauce is tricky.  It takes some time to make.  I liked this one the best so far.

I used the cupcake recipe from Georgetown Cupcakes.  I bought their book several years ago and still love it.  I prefer to use Gala apples.

I am amazed at how many recipes there are for cream cheese frosting.  Every one is a little different.  I am trying to simplify my recipes.  The pumpkin cupcake and carmel apple cupcake both called for cream cheese frosting, but were different recipes.  I decided to use one recipe for both.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups powdered sugar

Mix cream cheese and butter till smooth.  Add vanilla.  Add sugar in three batches mixing well between additions.  Mix on high for another minute or two.

I always like to give my frosting an additional mix on high for a minute or two to help it be a little more fluffy.  I do this as well with my buttercream.

When the cupcake was cooled I used my filling tip to inject some caramel sauce in the middle.  I piped on the frosting.  Then I used my new tipless bag and filled with caramel sauce.  I drizzled the sauce on top.

Last step, Eat!

I will continue to make these as we love them so.

Make it a great day,

Jen

 

 

Halloween treat bags

We have recently changed daycares.  I am surprised at how well Alex has adjusted to the new setting.  With him being shy around new people we thought there would be some transition time.  But, he has proved us wrong.  From day one it seems as if he has been going there the whole time.  It is such a big relief as making the decision was very hard for us to make.  We knew he would benefit from the new place for the preschool aspect.

Halloween is the next week so I thought it would be fun to give his new friends a treat.  I found a printable from here  It was such an easy craft to make.  We will send them to daycare on Halloween.  I will also bring a couple to his friends in the neighborhood.

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Put five pumpkins in a snack bag and staple the tag to the top.  That’s it!

There are so many different printables out there for you to choose from.  If you don’t get a lot of trick or treaters this would be a good idea as well.  I would recommend using the wrapped candy if you are going to pass out to the kids as parents wouldn’t feel comfortable giving the pumpkins to their kids if they didn’t know you.

Make it a great day,

Jen

Donating cookies

I bought a new cookie cutter set the other week from Michaels.  It is the Sweet SugarBelle milk and cookies cookie cutters.  She did a similar set to these years ago and I have always liked the idea and have wanted to do them.

I was off for 3 days from work and had some left over royal icing, so I decided to make some cookies just to try out the cutters.

I tried the tipless bags again for the milk cookies.  I am still unsure how I like them.  The concept is great of not having to use a tip.  But I then used my PME tips for the cookies and it went smoother.  It could have been because I had to make a fresh batch of royal icing, or that my flood consistency was better.  Or it also could have been because I was in a better mood the next day.  Some days your head is not in the game and I do feel like it shows in your cookies.

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So, here I was with a bunch of cookies and no one to give them to.  I remember hearing you can donate them to the local fire station.  We have one a mile away.  So, Sunday morning I gathered Paul and Alex up to drive over there to drop them off.  We rang the bell, but no one answered.  I was discouraged when we got back in the truck to go home.  Here I had a plate of cookies I wanted to give away and now was bringing them back home.

We were in our neighborhood and I saw the family a few doors down getting in their van.  We have only smiled and waved to the family before, never struck up a conversation.  I told Paul to stop the truck, got out and gave the cookies to the boy, got in the truck and drove the 3 houses down to our home.

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Paul came in a few minutes later stating the dad just stopped by.  He tried to catch us before we left.  He wanted to say the cookies looked so nice and thank you.  And guess what, it was his birthday that day!  What are the odds that we would stop and give that family cookies without thinking and for it to be his birthday.  It made our day!

I am so glad I could put smiles on that family’s face Sunday.  Cookies truly can make a difference in people’s lives.  That is why I will continue to bake.

Make it a great day,

Jen