Teaching Children to Give Gifts with Meaning

I can’t disclose everything quite yet, but I can share that we are actively pursuing adoption.  Actually, we have been doing so for some time now with many “ups” and “downs” along the way, something I suspect is rather typical.  So, you can imagine this changes our perspective greatly regarding life in general, especially during the holiday season and especially as it pertains to children.  Just the basic awareness of so many children needing a healthy family is enough to bring me to tears every. single. day.

Teaching Children to Give Gifts with Meaning

I can’t hide the burden blazed on our hearts nor can I explain it all in one simple post.  We really don’t know what will come of our heart’s desires, but I’m pretty certain that’s not important right now.  So, while we don’t know all the details of how God will use our family, we certainly are willing to be a vessel used for greater purposes than self indulgence.

Which brings me to what we’ve been teaching our six-year-old this Christmas season… to love others in every way capable.

A sweet friend of mine shared a book recommendation that has quickly grown to be a favorite of mine.  It’s called The Sparkle Box and has a sincere message to children and adults.

The Sparkle Box is an amazing book for teaching children to give with purpose

The lesson taught throughout the story is to love others by giving where needed and with purpose.

The giving is done is small acts of kindness, but in the end those gifts are something done (and given) to Jesus.  The story talks about how the fictional boy’s mother records acts of kindness that the family does throughout the season.  She writes them down on individual pieces of paper and tucks them inside the box.  On Christmas morning, they reflect back on those deeds and teach their child that those are gifts given to Jesus.  It’s a sweet story with a powerful impact.

Giving gifts with meaning this season

The book includes your own sparkle box, should you want to do the same thing with your own family (and it most certainly is not too late!).

What will you put inside your Sparkle Box this season

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed what we have implemented this December – our own sparkle box.

Our family Sparkle Box for teaching children to give with meaning

I  keep it out, so as not to be a secret (and to remind me to write down our love gifts).  In the beginning of the month, it served as a reminder for me to begin scheduling and preparing room on the calendar for extra ways to serve others.  BUT, it didn’t take long for this to become front and center in our daily thinking.

In fact, we’re trying to get creative and recently had opportunity to provide needs for an orphanage associated with my daughter’s school.  It broke my heart to read their “gift” requests.  No one asked for a toy or other wishful wants, but rather for needful items you and I take for granted every day.  Toothpaste?  Underwear?  These sweet people are just asking for daily necessities of living.  It took less than a millisecond to decide this cause was a part of our Sparkle Box adventure.

orphans in need

In fact, we’re more aware of the needs around us than ever before.  I won’t bore you by sharing all our acts of giving thus far but I will say one thing we learned… it takes intention to step outside the usual, but once you do, it’s impossible to ignore the tidal wave of opportunity.

As for the slips of paper and writing pen, I just tucked a few inside an old tea canister and put that next to the sparkle box.

Part of our family's Sparkle Box this holiday season

Hidden paper and pens alongside the Sparkle Box

I’m so thankful my friend shared this book and concept with me.  I truly hope some of you find this as inspirational as I have!  You can order The Sparkle Box online through Amazon HERE for your own household or as a gift to someone else this Christmas.  It’s really not too late to start this tradition for 2014 and continue for years to come!

An awesome gift for those wishing to teach children the importance of giving with love

As for our family journey… all the recent times I’ve been a severely absent blogger were (and will continue to be) related to the many involved processes of adoption.  No, I simply can’t blog as consistently as I’d prefer.  However, I know there will come a day when every frustrating adoption detail is long forgotten and far outweighed by the precious child we get to welcome home.  Again, I  must remain carefully guarded in what I share, but I will update as allowed!

Much love to you and yours this holiday season!


Replace Gift Ribbon with Washi Tape and Save Time!

Follow me on Instagram lately?  If so, you saw my mini light-bulb moment when I ran out of gift ribbon last week… duh, why not use washi tape?!!

Using washi tape to replace gift ribon is both useful and beautiful, not to mention simple and smart

Although born out of necessity, it really does save time!  Think about all the simplicity in zipping a piece of washi tape around a stack of presents and slapping a bow on top.  So easy and equally as festive as ribbon but much less fumbly (word?).

Use Washi Tape as ribbon

Got a stack of gifts wrapped in boring paper?

Dress up boring wrapping paper with washi tape!

Use washi tape to easily string ’em together while also adding a festive embellishment!

Brilliant idea - use washi tape to replace gift ribbon!

It’s easy.  It’s festive.  It saves times (my main goal lately).  And it’s worth sharing with you.

Really, there’s nothing more to say, so I’ll leave you with this image to remember washi tape during your next wrapping session.

Using washi tape to replace gift ribon is both useful and beautiful, not to mention simple and smart!

Happy wrapping days! :)


Labeling Party Stemware with Washi Tape

Heads up, Friends!  I have another organizing post for ya over at I’m an Organizing Junkie.  This time I’m talking about the world’s easiest way to label drinks for a party or holiday gathering (aside from writing on plastic cups with a Sharpie).

Washi Tape Stemware Labels

It also happens to be the cheapest glass marker/label/charm I can find.  Each festive stemware label is less than a penny!  In fact, you could probably tag all your stemmed glasses for less than a penny using this simple trick.

Hopefully you’ll find this timely for Thanksgiving Day and the Christmas parties thereafter.  Wishing you a lovely weekend to enjoy with those you treasure most!




Dear Mothers… When Organization Seems Impossible

Good morning!  I’m geared up to accomplish much this weekend before November is the same vapor that October has turned into.  The cool breeze that has finally swept through middle Florida has invigorated me to tackle the to-do list, but that’s not always the case.  For those with young children, somedays are busy enough prior to the project list… meals & shopping & potty training & spilled milk & jelly smeared fingerprints & on and on I could go.  But wait, what am I saying?  You don’t need that reminder, you’re living it right now!

Dear Mothers... When Organization Seems Impossible

To you, sweet Mamas, I have dedicated a post.  To you, sweet homemakers, I have shared some personal thoughts.  Your days are filled with a higher calling and I’ve written a small collection of words that I pray minister to your heart.

I blog for several reasons and one is to encourage others; what I wrote HERE for I’m an Organizing Junkie is my virtual hug of compassion.  It’s not theologically deep (as that is not my working relationship with OrgJunkie.com) but it’s something I’ve covered in prayer, hoping to realign perspective for even just one exhausted Mama.  Head on over (or click HERE) if you’re needing an extra dose of encouragement this weekend!  (Please share the article too, if you know a friend or two who would benefit!)


Fall Coffee Station & Decoration

I have a terrible habit of welcoming people into my home and then forgetting to offer them a drink.  It’s either a mental block or early dementia but it’s ridiculous!  So, I created a permanent drink station on my kitchen island and then tweak the decorating details with each new season.

Beautiful beverage station on her counter top decorated for Fall

I’m not joking when I say, I could literally serve a five-course meal to guests and completely forget about offering a beverage to them.  Thankfully, my husband and now even my daughter are quick to make this most basic gesture of hospitality.  Because of those two, no one leaves here parched.  However, my side-kicks aren’t always around when I have company in the kitchen.

That said, I created this very obvious drink station smack in the center of the kitchen to act as a visual reminder.  Literally, it’s a visual aid for me.  If I still fail to inquire about what my guest would prefer to drink, the drink station picks up the slack by becoming a conversation piece.  Once the conversation starts, a light turns on and my mental block is hurdled long enough for me to say, “what can I get you to drink?”

Beautiful beverage station on her counter top

It’s silly, but I get caught up in the many details of hostessing and forget the most basic of all needs and one of life’s most simple comforts – water (or coffee, or what-have-you).  After all, everyone is more comfortable making small talk while holding a cup of something liquid and then taking a sip during the conversation pauses.

Enough about my hostessing faux pas and let’s get on to the details.  Here’s my countertop display.  I splurged on the Pottery Barn galvanized stand after seeing this beautiful display from Stone Gable years ago.  My seasonal “fillings” are usually something inexpensive and/or whatever I have on hand.

coffee or tea fall drink station

Speaking of inexpensive “fillings”, part of my Dollar Store Decor fall mantel shelves include a little banner I printed on fake leaves (this tutorial coming soon per your reader request!).  The $1 package of leaves came with so many, I had more than enough for scattering around the bottom of each tier wherever I found a blank space.  They are surprisingly noticeable and festive at the same time!

Dollar Store Decor on Fall drink station

My goal of this station is to have everything one would want for coffee or tea, except the creamer.  I keep that in the refrigerator for obvious reasons.

The bottom tier, in front, holds a sugar bowl of organic sugar, which has an off-white color tinge that adds to my rustic Fall colors.  There is also a little shaker of cinnamon for the deluxe coffee drinkers.  Stir spoons rest inside the creamer pitcher.  Finally, behind those few essentials is a mason jar filled with candy corn for added Fall flare.

fall drink vignette

My favorite embellishments are the “gimme some sugar” spoons that rest inside the creamer jar.

gimme some sugar spoons for drink station

I mean, how cute are these?!!  I may stash a few away for this year’s stocking stuffers!  I also have my eye on the “just brew it” spoon for stirring our french press coffee every morning.  AND, they’re on sale right now… honey are you reading this ginormous gift hint I’m sharing?!! 😉

gimme some sugar tea spoons

The mugs I’ve had for years and years and years.  I bring them out each Fall for a little seasonal color change.  I don’t usually keep different colors of dishes according to the season; that involves a little more effort than I care to devote to plates and mugs.  However, these happen to be an original set of mugs from our early marriage years, so I decided to put them on display since they match the autumn theme.

fall mugs

On the back side of the stand holds more mason jars, each filled with a different variety of tea.  Obviously, the coffee pot or my french press doesn’t fit on the stand.  They’re off to the side, where you can’t see them in this picture.

indivdiually wrapped tea bags in glass jars

I picked up a few galvanized jars from the dollar spot at Target for my tea canisters.

galvanized lids mix well with other metal colors on this fall drink stand

You’ll notice I didn’t have trouble mixing metal types.  Galvanized or gold (seen in the background above), it doesn’t matter.  In fact, I’m reading and seeing trends of metal mixing all over the decor world.  I’m all for this concept!  I like to think that using what I have is on par with style; but even if it isn’t, I would still display out of gratitude.  So, don’t be afraid of metal and texture mixing my friends!

drink station

Finally, I used a $1 glitter leaf from the Dollar Tree as a “topper” to my drink station.  It ties the theme together lovely without a huge investment.

fall drink station using Dollar Store Decor

It was shorter than I wanted, so I hot glued it to an upside down plastic ice-cream cup (shown below). Then I hid the yellow cup with a few flowers tucked around the base.

hot glue and an upside down plastic cup boost this piece of fall decor on a beverage station

prop hiding on a fall drink stand

Hiding the details makes it all the more pretty without any cost investment (faux flowers I already had too).

fall drink station using Dollar Store Decor

Finally, I put a bowl of fresh fruit on the side mostly because I couldn’t find any place better in my kitchen, but I’ve grown to like this addition.  It’s on the bottom tier and is at the perfect height for my six-year-old to be reminded of healthy alternatives for snack time. :)

brilliant idea to use fresh fruit on coffee or tea bar

So, whatcha think?  Anyone can make a drink station out of anything, if inclined.  We have friends that dedicated an entire drink zone in their kitchen/dining room that is more than inviting.  It’s all about using the space you have and filling it with things you love or need.  In my case, I love coffee & tea but also need a reminder to offer a beverage to company.  Win, win!  Making things useful and beautiful, this time to improve my hospitality skills. :)

Speaking of coffee (read that as Starbucks)…


Happy Birthday Starbucks Giveaway from UsefulBeautifulHome.com