Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bead for Life

Back in March my daughter and her friends watched the Kony 2012 video on Facebook. For days we talked about what we could do to help. After a little research, we discovered that only about a third of any donation to Invisible Children would actually go to helping communities and people in Uganda, while the rest would be spent on filmmaking and campaigns to raise awareness.

I was fortunate, then, to find this blog post by Lela Barker of Bella Lucce. Lela has traveled in Africa and in her post she shares another way to directly support families in Uganda through a nonprofit called BeadforLife. They have income generating programs for women in Uganda and also offer entrepreneurial and vocational programs as well as health and affordable housing programs. Purchasing BeadforLife's products supports fair wages for women who generally live on $1 a day, and 93 cents of every dollar donated goes into Ugandan communities.

We decided to order some of their beads to have our own beading party. The photos on the site are pretty, but the beads are stunning in person. They are made by hand from paper and no two are exactly alike (click here to watch a video showing how the beads are made). I think the girls at our party spent just as much time looking at the beads as they spent on their creations. They mostly made earrings, though there were also bracelets and necklaces. (We purchased additional beads, ribbons, elastic stretch line, and findings separately.) The loose beads also come with a packet of information, including hang tags you can include with your creations to explain the origin and significance of the beads.

I'm so glad that Bella Lucce (and Lela) shared this resource so we were able to support the women of Uganda in such a creative way. I look forward to future purchases of their beautiful beads and jewelry.

If you'd like more information about BeadforLife, including the online catalog of their loose beads and jewelry, visit their site at

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feature in Indie Business Blog

I was honored to have the GCDSpa Facebook page featured in the Indie Business Blog on Monday. Donna Maria had been discussing the proper use of avatars to represent small businesses, and she used our page as an example! Thank you, dM!

Indie Business Blog is a super resource for the small business owner. Donna Maria writes about social media, leadership, fitness, and other issues that impact entrepreneurs. You can also follow Indie Business on Facebook!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Perfect Pear Candy Favors

Perfect Pear Candy favors contain 2 ounces of pear jelly beans and a pair of Swiss petite pears. Each favor is $3.75 each, which includes personalization on the fold-over tags. Choose from 6 different tag designs. Assembly is included. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Design Palette: Rose Campion

Back in February I created a video showing where I get a lot of my color inspiration. As I was taking yet another photo tour of my garden, I decided to create a blog series to post some of the palettes I love.

Today's inspiration is the Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria), a plant that could be found in English cottage gardens in the 1600s as well as the gardens at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. I love the muted, almost celadon, silvery-sage green of the stems and foliage paired with the plant's incredibly bright pink-to-fuchsia blossoms. Here's one possible palette, followed by some of our favors that feature these colors. 

Want more inspiration for your event? Check out our Rose Campion board on Pinterest! 

Perfect Pear lotion favors with sage bows

Fuchsia lingerie favors with sage green bows

Girls Night Lip Balm Favors with Petals bows

Lavender toss in hot pink sachets with custom tags

Apple theme favors with mint green bows

Bridal shower favors with hot pink bows
Working on an event with these colors? I'd be happy to help! 

Do you grow Rose Campion? What do you think of these colors together? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Be Extraordinary

Last month I posted some photos of my daughter's semi-formal attire, which was definitely not "regular." She wanted to go to her first semi-formal dance as Big Bird, so we put together a dress with feathers and added coordinating accessories. It was interesting to drop her off and see the reactions of the other kids (and parents). Almost everyone got a kick out of it and several of the kids even wanted to get their picture taken with her. (I guess the feathered headband was just Vegas enough to make a great photo op at their casino-themed dance.)

At the dance, one girl told my daughter, "My mom would never let me wear that." That really struck me. We made sure to follow the dress code, so the dress length and design were within the school's guidelines. I can't think of any reason that someone wouldn't allow their daughter to go to a dance in a bright yellow dress and orange sneakers...except that she stood out (pretty dramatically) from everyone else.

You know how parents are always saying they know what's best for their kids? I realized a while ago that I honestly don't always know. I have my own ideas about things, my own taste and opinions, and every decision I make on their behalf is made through my eyes, even when I try to keep their best interests in mind. In this case, I'm pretty sure that this is the right thing to do, to support my daughter as she chooses to be different and to stand out. But I'm absolutely sure that making her wear what I like because I'm embarrassed by her choices would be the wrong thing to do. Why limit her to my sense of fashion or cripple her with my anxieties?

What if you make your kids live up to your expectations and they are capable of going much higher? What if trying to do someone else's best makes you miss out on an extraordinary best that is yours alone? Consider that you have a chance to be extraordinary. What would that mean to you?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Katie Kisses Marriage Good-Bye

I can't say that I was shocked when I heard the news about TomKat two weeks ago. But Katie Holmes' decision to file for divorce from Tom Cruise still seems a bit like the end of a fairy tale, even if we rarely expect Hollywood actors to have the "happily ever after" they dream of. 

I follow celebrity relationships out of professional interest, since celebrity weddings have a huge influence on the industry. I've started to notice the same influence when it comes to divorces; the trend to celebrate a divorce with a party was popularized by celebs (remember way back to the "tacky" celebrations of Shanna Moakler or Danny Bonaduce?), and the latest twist--couples celebrating their divorce at a party together--also came from celebrities (namely Karen Elson and Jack White).

Last week I asked friends on Facebook what they thought about Tom/Kat and celebrity relationships in general: do they inspire you? Are they discouraging? Do they have any relevance to our lives? The responses vary: some of us have kept up with the news, riveted as Tom/Kat's latest settlement news was announced this week. Others wonder what took Kate so long, citing Tom's "wacky" behavior. And still others said it doesn't make any difference in their lives. (If you want to add your opinion on Facebook, you can visit our conversation here.)

I would guess that our small group at Facebook is representative of the wider world, with some of us following out of curiosity (or with the obsessive attention usually reserved for royals), and others scarcely noting another Hollywood breakup. Maybe our fascination comes from the fact that for many Americans, divorce is a result of money troubles. We probably figure that a net worth of $250 million (Cruise's estimated estate) should "buy" an easy life and stable marriage. Even if this feels like just another inevitable celebrity split, we probably wonder how much better our own relationships might be if we had their money and vacations and "stuff." 

Do you follow celebrity weddings and divorces? Do you think they're relevant to our lives at all, or are celebrity lives so different that we can't compare? What do you think? 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Do Not Stop

I'm always learning something from my kids, and this week's "lesson" was from my son. Tristan started playing the flute a year ago, and with his music teacher away for the summer, I've taken over teaching duties. It's been more than 20 years since I took music lessons, myself, but I know enough about reading music to keep him going for the summer. Last week I assigned a particularly difficult piece and when I sat down to listen, he wasn't able to play it through. He repeated it several times but still made a few mistakes. He was frustrated and even got a little teary when he realized he wasn't going to be able to get it perfect that day. I assigned it for a second week and we moved on to another piece. 

All week long he practiced that piece. When I was watering the garden outside his bedroom window, I would listen to him practice. He'd yell out, "Does that sound right?" and I'd say, "Not yet," and sing the melody to him to remind him. He'd keep practicing. After days of playing, he finally got it right. He was so excited to be able to play it, and I was glad that he stuck with it!

I know too well how hard it can be to stick with things. I've been working on my website for the past two months and I'm having to learn new software in order to complete it. Some days I really enjoy the process, but there are other moments when I just want it to be done! It's hard not to understand something the first time I read it. It's frustrating to work at things a little at a time. Sometimes progress is so slow it is tempting to stop. Tristan's experience was a great reminder:

Do you find it hard to keep working on long projects, too? How do you keep your "work in progress" progressing without giving up? Please share your thoughts!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Cilantro Limeade

Mixing up the salsa yesterday I remembered how much I love the flavor of lime with cilantro. I wondered what they'd taste like in a drink, so I took the extra fruit and herbs and stirred up a quick limeade that was so delicious, I knew I had to share it! (Of course I'm not the first person to "discover" this; there are lots of other recipes online. My quick version makes just one serving, but it would be simple to make by the pitcher, too.)

juice of 1/2 lime (and extra slices for garnish)
1-2 Tbsp sugar
5-6 sprigs of cilantro (or more if you love it!)
seltzer water

Squeeze the lime juice into a glass. Add the cilantro and sugar and use a muddler or spoon to crush the cilantro leaves. Fill glass with ice, then top off with seltzer. Stir to combine and add extra sugar if necessary. 

Mine was kid-friendly, but you can also top the ice with a shot of vodka or gin before adding the seltzer. 

I like the idea of using herbs in drinks like this (the lavender lemonade we made a few years ago was really tasty, too). What's your favorite summer drink?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fresh Salsa, Take II

Last month I shared how to make a potted herb garden. I hope you planted one of your own! My cilantro is starting to go to seed, so I picked a bunch of leaves today while I still had the chance. I love making fresh salsa; in fact, I shared one of my favorite salsa recipes last fall.

I wanted to start with that same tomato-onion-citrus combo, but this time I made some changes to the veggies and herbs for different color, texture, and flavor. I think I like this one even better than the original and I'd love to know what you think! You'll need:

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 medium cucumber, chopped (I scooped out the seeds first)
1/2 jalapeƱo, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 or 2 (or 3 or 5) cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1/4 tsp cumin (optional)
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

Combine all of the veggies, squeeze lime juice over all, stir in herbs and salt, and allow to chill for at least an hour. This is delicious as a dip or on top of burritos, grilled fish or chicken.

Just like last time, my kids prefer this blended (what can I say, they don't like "chunky" salsa). After blending it looks a bit like guacamole with a very thin consistency. Try replacing the avocado with a chopped mango or peach. Or replace the avocado and cucumber with two cups of chopped melon! I'd love to know your favorite way to make salsa!

Make sure you have some cilantro left for tomorrow's recipe. I "discovered" my new favorite drink today while playing with the herbs. Here's a sneak peek:

(Oh, and if your cilantro is going to seed, make sure you keep some of the seed pods for future recipes. That's coriander, and I'll be sharing a recipe for it this fall!) 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Kiva 35

This morning I made my 35th loan at Kiva! Martha, a retailer in Costa Rica, received a $25 loan. The 32nd - 34th loans were made back in May to Elizabeth, who runs a general store in the Philippines; Elena, who used the loan to purchase perfumes, creams, cosmetics, and clothing in Ecuador; and Elisabeth in Rwanda, who sells food, water, juice, soap, and lotions.

If you haven't heard of them, you can learn more about Kiva here. I've also blogged about Kiva a couple of times. Oh, and here's another. If you're hesitant about making loans through Kiva, here's what you need to know: 

  • 100% of your donation will fund loans. Kiva does NOT take a cut. They are supported through lenders' additional donations (you can choose to add funds to this to cover administrative costs) and through grants, etc. 
  • 450 volunteers and 154 field partners in 62 countries help to make this organization a success
  • $326 million in loans since 2005
  • The repayment rate is currently 98.97%

That last point means there's a good chance that the money you lend today will come back into your account later. And as the loans are repaid, you can lend that money over and over again. According to Kiva, I've lent (and re-lent) a total of $900 in the past three years. Even my tiny business and modest donations add up! Do you want to get involved? For a limited time, Kiva is giving away free trials. Click here to get started. And then come back and leave a comment so we can all find out who you helped!

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Wrong Mistakes

This seems funny because there's no such thing as a "right" kind of mistake to make. Or is there?

I make lots of mistakes, all the time, every day, and most of the time I don't beat myself up about them. I realize that it's just gonna happen because I'm not perfect, but also that it's necessary to make them. Making mistakes means I'm trying new things and learning. So if that kind of mistake is "right," what kind would be wrong? 

Maybe it's what George Bernard Shaw said: 

A repeat mistake is "wrong" because it means you haven't learned from your experiences. I make this kind of mistake, too, and this is the kind I regret. I guess some lessons are just harder than others. You have to work on some things over and over again to get them right. I am definitely still learning. Which is why my absolute favorite quote about mistakes is still Anne of Green Gables

No mistakes yet! What do you think? Do you find that some of your mistakes are "right" and some are "wrong"? 


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