Thursday, November 11, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 11

Today is day eleven of the 30 Day Giving Challenge and it's also Veteran's Day. I really wanted to do something that would give back to our troops and their families. At first I looked into organizations that I could send a care package through, but honestly, I needed a project that was free, or as close to free as possible! Then I came across this website and learned that US Military bases overseas will accept manufacturer's coupons up to SIX MONTHS past their expiration date at their commissaries!

Since I've been completely slack in the couponing department lately and my coupon binder was in dire need of being cleaned out and I already had stamps and envelopes.... well... this was just the perfect project! After ridding my binder of all my recently expired coupons, I separated all THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY (yes that's right!) of them into seven piles. I wrote a note on an sheet of paper thanking the recipients for their service and sacrifice and then folded the piles of coupons inside. Then I picked seven bases off of the list provided and dropped them in the mail box. I know there is no mail today, but at least they will be ready to go first thing tomorrow morning!

I have to say, that this felt SO much better than putting all those coupons in the recycling bin.. which is what would have happened whenever I finally got around to cleaning out my binder. I will always be slack in this department, and always have expired coupons, so in the future I plan to mail my coupons off to service men and women who can still use them.

Thank you to all of our men and women serving in the armed services. Thank you for your service and your sacrifices and the and never ending support of your families. It is not a sacrifice that my immediate family has ever known, but I am constantly in awe of the strength that military families possess. I'm blessed to call many of them friends and they are friends I look up to with the utmost respect!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 10

I'm really excited about this 30 Day Giving Challenge project! This week, I recruited the girls in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me make blankets for an organization called Project Linus. It's an organization that provides handmade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need.

I wanted to do a blanket project that could be started and finished in an evening. A few years ago I had made a simple fleece tie blanket as a baby gift and remembered that it didn't take much time at all to put together. So, each of the girls in my group, along with myself and my Mom who is visiting chipped in $10 a piece. I went over my total by $12 (oops!... this is what happens when you go to the fabric store w/ a toddler in your tiny shopping cart and have to go up to the counter to have fabric cut four different times because you can't fit it all in your cart in one trip! Ha ha... you lose count!) Anyway... I spent $82.19 including tax for 14 yards of fleece... and we were able to make NINE blankets! So, that works out to just under $10 piece. Five are larger size and four are smaller, but there weren't any requirements on size of the blankets to donate... the only requirement is that they be handmade.

It really meant a lot to me that my friends were so willing and eager to chip in their money and their time to help me with this project. It was a lot of fun. It also felt great to accomplish something from start to finish in one evening! That is certainly not the case with our crocheting projects! I really enjoyed working on this so much, I'm hoping to continue to give to this organization in the future. It was such a simple and easy project that will bring warmth and comfort to someone in need.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Days 6 ~ 9

The past few days were spent doing little things for friends that I hoped would brighten their day. I'm trying to have a good mix of ways to give during this 30 Day Giving Challenge... doing small things for friends and family, taking on some larger projects, donating financially and donating my time. So far it's been challenging, rewarding and also... FUN!

So, on Saturday I stopped at Panera and picked up a bagel pack on my way to work. It was a box full of 13 yummy bagels and 2 tubs of cream cheese and left them on the break room table. I thought that it would be a nice treat for all of my co-workers on a Saturday morning.

On Sunday I mailed a nice card to a long time friend that I don't get to see very often. After going through a difficult patch for a while, I was so happy that things were really looking up for her. I found a card that conveyed the sentiment that I wanted it to and added a little note. I just wanted her to know how much I value our friendship and how happy I am that her life is moving in the direction that she wanted.

On Monday I delivered a vase full of fall flowers to a friend at her office. She was pretty surprised to see me come in! She's been having several rough weeks and I thought that maybe some flowers on a Monday would give a better start to the new week. I also filled out a little card. It was nice because I got to stay and catch up with her for a little bit. Even though she's just getting over being sick and I had to stand on the other side of the conference room and not give her a big hug! ha ha.... but it was still a nice little visit. I value our friendship a lot and I just wanted her to know that I'm always here for her.

And finally, on Saturday at work, I left two boxes of Cheez-it's in my sister-in-law's desk cabinet for her to find today when she got back to work. We work at the same place (she is full time and I am VERY part time). I had to work last Wednesday night. When I was leaving I took a handful of Cheez-its (her favorite snack) out of the box in her desk... but they were really stale! So, I bought her 2 fresh boxes to have on hand and stuck a little sticky note on the box. I think it will be a small gesture that she'll really appreciate.

Tonight I've recruited the girl's in my Stitch n' Bitch group to help me work on a bigger project for my 10th day of giving. I can't wait to blog about it in the morning!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 5

I'm really excited today because after seven long weeks, my neighbors are FINALLY coming home!!! When we moved into this neighborhood we got really lucky to live by some wonderful neighbors... but my neighbor across the street and I became fast friends. She's also my only stay at home mom friend that I have here in Charleston.

Well, her hubby is a pilot in the Air Force, and for the past seven weeks they have been half way across the country for some flight training. It's been super lonely for me here on our little cul-d-sac!!! I've missed them terribly! I'm not sure exactly what time they are getting home today, but I figured that after being gone for so long they would probably enjoy a home cooked meal... that they didn't have to cook themselves!

Today I made some easy chicken and cheese enchiladas. This is my go-to dish if I need to make a meal to freeze for someone. They are really easy to make and since the chicken is already cooked, I can completely assemble the dish and all that the recipient has to do is thaw and bake for 15 minutes! Easy peasy!

For this recipe you need:
1 pkg of chicken (I like to use the chicken tenders)
1 six count pkg of flour tortillas
2 cans of Old El Paso enchilada sauce (I use mild)
1 pkg of shredded taco or Mexican blend cheese

Boil the chicken until fully cooked. Let cool. Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of your pan until it's completely coated. Next, lay a tortilla on a dinner plate and spoon some enchilada sauce onto the tortilla and coat one side. Shred some chicken in a line down the middle of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and roll. Place seam side down in the pan. Continue for all six tortillas. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas in the pan. Make sure all surfaces of the tortillas are fully coated. Sprinkle cheese over the top of all.

If you are freezing this dish to give to a friend, then cover & freeze! If not, bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

Garnish with sour cream and enjoy!

Ready to freeze!

Include instructions and a note!

Make some extra for yourself for dinner... yummy melted cheesy goodness!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 4

Today was day four of the 30 Day Giving Challenge and this evening I participated in the Light The Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last month when I first decided that I was going participate in this 30 day challenge, I almost immediately received an e-mail from my old co-worker, Tara. She was asking if anyone else wanted to join her team and participate in the Light The Night Walk. I honestly thought it was a sign that I was making the right choice to tackle this challenge. Even though at the time I couldn't come up with 30 ways to give, I realized that I didn't have to know ahead of time all the ways I could make a difference. I knew that opportunities would present themselves... and this was a great one!

I signed up, set up my web site and put a post on my Facebook page asking for ten people to each contribute ten dollars to get me to my fundraising goal of one hundred dollars. I wasn't sure if people would want to sponsor me again after I had just fundraised my little heart out for the half marathon I completed with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training in June. But, honestly, after raising $3,100 for the race, I figured $100 would be no big deal. And I was right. Friends and family opened their hearts right away and I raised $106! It was such a great feeling to be able to donate again to an organization that has made a difference in so many people's lives.

Tonight's event was really neat. Each participant got a balloon that had a little flickering light inside. Dawn and I had red balloons to show support, and Tara had a white balloon because she is a leukemia survivor. I felt very proud to be there supporting her.

It was also great to catch up with my old co-workers as we completed the walk. I was really glad that I took the time during a very busy and over scheduled week to take part in something so important. I felt very content on my drive home. I know it's only the fourth day of this challenge, but already I feel like I'm reaping the benefits of giving more than those on the receiving end.... it just does a soul good!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 3

Today is day three of the 30 Day Giving Challenge. Originally, I had something else planned for today... but after having what I thought was going to be an hour and a half long errand yesterday turned into a FOUR HOUR adventure... I decided I wasn't going to leave the house today until I needed to leave for work at 5:00 p.m.! Ha! That errand by the way was picking up some patio furniture that I found for a steal on Craig's List...FINALLY!!!!! I've been searching for something in our budget since the spring. I'll be doing a before and after post on that later... because of course I want to change mostly everything about the set... except for the shape! ha ha

Anyway... Day Three! I decided to pack my husband's lunch today and include a little note inside. Packing his lunch is not something that I ever do. He rarely packs his lunch either. He has a cafeteria where he works and he'll generally go down there and get a salad for a few dollars for lunch, so I just don't worry about it. But... I'm sure that eating at the work cafeteria gets old.

So, last night, I packed him up a container of the cream of tomato & basil soup from Day Two, a bottle of water, some rosemary bread sticks and a few pieces of Halloween candy. I was shocked to get a call from him at 11:00 a.m.! He NEVER calls me from work! Emails, yes... phone calls, no! But he called to thank me for his lunch and let me know how thoughtful of me it was. It made me want to do this for him more often. We have been on such opposite schedules lately and haven't had much time together, so it felt good to be able to show him how much I care with a small gesture that he appreciated so much.

Of course, he actually had a work lunch out of the office today... figures... ha ha... but he'll have an enjoyable lunch tomorrow now instead!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

30 Day Giving Challenge: Day 2

Today was day 2 of my 30 Day Giving Challenge. Since I get together every Tuesday night with a small group of girlfriends to have dinner, crochet and chat .... otherwise known as "Stitch n' Bitch"... hee hee... I thought today would be the perfect time to do something thoughtful for them! I wanted to do something that could make their lives easier and show them how much their friendships mean to me.

Since they all work full time jobs, I decided to make them something they could bring for lunch tomorrow! Since we are always out late on Tuesday night's at the hostess' house... I figured lunch might be an after thought on Wednesday mornings. This afternoon, I made a really easy crock pot soup to give to the girls. I filled a container for each one and tied on some rosemary bread sticks with a piece of ribbon. It was so easy and inexpensive to make and so fun to give them to the girls tonight! It made me sad that I don't think to do random kind things like this for the people closest to me more often! I think that everyone gets so wrapped up in their own lives, that we only give gifts when we are "supposed" to... like birthdays or holidays. I'm hoping that this 30 day challenge will change my perspective on giving and make it more of a part of my every day life!

Easy Crock Pot Cream of Tomato & Basil Soup

3 Cans of peeled tomatoes
1 32 oz. container of chicken broth
1 Tablespoon of garlic powder
10 Fresh basil leaves
1 Cup of cream

Pour the cans of tomatoes, chicken broth and garlic powder into the crock pot. Cook on High setting for 3 hours or Low setting for 5-6 hours. Add basil leaves to the pot for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

Use an immersion blender to blend soup thoroughly. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can pour soup in batches into a food processor or blender. Add cream and blend.
Serve with croutons, bread sticks or a grilled cheese sandwich! YUMMMMM!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thirty Day Giving Challenge

As I'm sure you've noticed (or not if you've stopped reading my blog altogether) I've kind of taken a step back from blogging lately. There have been a few reasons for that.... some I will blog about a little later... but the main reason? I just haven't been motivated to write! I've been getting things done on my list, although admittedly, at a snail's pace! But, mostly, nothing has felt that interesting that I've wanted to write about it. Like, why would anyone want to read a post about how I sent out my son's birthday thank you notes (a full month late) or how I had to call the Children's Museum for never sending our membership cards (this happens with EVERY membership we sign up for... no matter where the venue!). Eh... just seems kind of boring.

I know that the very nature of a lot of blogs (and especially this one) is writing about yourself, but after a while it starts to feel kind of self indulgent. Just very me, me, me... if you know what I mean! So, I've been struggling with that aspect of it. I've also just still been struggling with the whole soul searching thing. I've been feeling really blah about things in my life in general.

SOOOOO.... for November I've decided to shake things up. While I still trudge though all my resolutions that I'm painfully behind on (I am convinced I'm just a perpetual procrastinator to my very core!) I'm not going to blog about most things. Instead, while I'm working on them and crossing them off my list, I'm going to participate in the 30 Day Giving Challenge.

I'm hoping to accomplish a few things with this challenge:

1) Inspire others to do the same
2) Find that part of myself that I seem to have lost ... through giving to others
3) Get creative in my giving. Obviously I can't make 30 days worth of monetary donations!

This challenge has me excited about blogging again and is a great way to tackle thirty days of resolutions!!!! I'm excited to share each days way of giving through blog posts.

Once I get my giving calendar completed I will post it. For day one, I sorted through all of Andy's toys this morning. I sorted through everything in the play room and in the cabinets in the living room. First of all... all of it was A MESS and I've realized I need to add "organize toys" to my list of resolutions... and second of all, I realized we have a lot of STUFF!!! I don't even know where a lot of it came from!!! But I sure do know that it doesn't get played with and we don't need it in this house. Andy is pretty much focused on ONE thing these days as far as playing goes.... TRAINS. It's all trains, all the time. So why keep the other stuff around?? Everything was in great condition, so I brought a giant trash bag filled with toys to Goodwill this morning and I'm hoping they will make another child's holiday a little brighter!!!!