How I Got My Green Groove Back

OR: Some Happy Hippie Habits I Still Have

On Sunday I posted a rather woe-is-me piece about how I’ve lost my eco-friendly “religion” as of late (I’ve been a slacker, I’ve been in a new place – and I haven’t been adhering to my usual routine of kind-to-our-plantet practice).

It’s true.  I’ve shopped at Walmart, we’re going through roll after roll of paper towels around here, I’m drinking Keurig coffee and so on… It’s embarrassing.  Happy HIPPIE Rose is my blog after all, this is a place where I post about loving the earth and being green and all that jazz.  I’m a self-proclaimed hippie and if I expect people to trust my advice or try out my tips, there’s a certain point to which I need to practice what I preach!

And really, I usually do.  I’m blaming it on our move and all the commotion of living our of a hotel, visiting family for a week, and now moving in with my cousin and acclimating to his routines and what not.  I won’t re-hash it all – go read the post for yourself if you want to revel in my failure.

(I’m also being pretty overdramatic.)

I know I’m super far from a failure right now.  As was pointed out in the comments on Sunday, it’s not a terribly huge crime I’ve committed here.  It’s life, it happens.  My intention was actually never to lament, but rather to come clean and then take it from there.  So Sunday I ‘fessed up.  Now, we’ll be moving forward.

After be-smudging my good hippie name, I did make the self-defensive claim that not everything has gone to hell in a handbasket.  There are, actually, plenty of things I’ve kept up with and am doing now that are mighty green.

Today, lemme brag on those! 

I love the earth, I am a legit hippie.  There are easy, fun, money-saving ways to run a home and live your life that are kinder to the earth than some of the typical American practices.  Especially when it comes to chores, I love to keep a tidy home in crunchy fashion – using hippie cleaning methods.

duck face all in the rubber gloves, after a crazy night of chores – i was sweating so hard from cleaning!

For one, rags – not paper towels.

rags are reusable and that’s rad

Paper towels are pricey.  And they’re wasteful.  Landfills are clogged with paper towels, paper plates, paper napkins.  If I must buy some kind of paper product (that’s a disposable version of something that totally exists in reusable form), I at least go for the recycled materials version.  Depending on what the use of the paper item was, when you’re done with it you may be able to recycle it – so keep that aspect in mind if the paper-made route is one you must go.

But really, rags love messes.  Rags are the best!  They work better than paper towel, and you just wash them.  It’s nice.  I get so annoyed at the paper towel commercials that equate rags to smearing bacteria all over your home.  UGH.  Common sense goes a real long way.  If you’ve just used a rag to wipe up some raw chicken goo, how abouts you retire that one to the dirty laundry hamper and not rub it on the counter until it’s been properly laundered.

It’s home cleaning 101.  It’s how people have been tidying up for years, centuries!  It’s not rocket science.  I’ll elaborate more on a paper towel based rant some other day, because I feel like I could go on and on about all of the anti-rag marketing and propaganda out there that’s just so bunk.

Use rags.  Wash them. Apply common sense.

You know what really helps the cleaning process?  A solution that’s antibacterial.  Like say, white distilled vinegar (WDV).  WDV is amazing.  It kills germs, it cleans up all kinds of messes, stains, spills, grease, gunk, and more.  Yeah, it smells strong at the time of use – but as it dries it is 100% odorless, colorless, and unnoticeable.

vinegar is heaven’s nectar. it does everything!

I use WDV everywhere.  Dishes, laundry, surfaces, mopping solution, the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room.  Anything that can be cleaned, I involve WDV somehow.

Remember my old Tide Challenge?

our current laundry room set-up. tide + wdv = a cheaper, better way to do every single load!

(I bought a big jug of liquid Tide, very pricey and wonderful smelling laundry detergent – and as an experiment, I diluted it with WDV for every load of laundry to see how far I could stretch a bottle).  Here’s the premise of the challenge, a midway update post, and finally – the results post.

Check those out to read all about the magical laundry powers of WDV.  Detergent, microbe killer, disinfectant, funk eliminator, fabric softener… it does it all.  And in its wake it leaves clean-smelling, lovely, soft clothes.

Speaking of reusable rags and WDV, let’s talk about mopping.

If you so much as own a Swiffer, I don’t even know if we can be friends.  Swiffers are so so so so bad.  They’re evil!  They create so much waste, and why?  For what?  It’s lazy and ridic.  You can get a mop with the exact same function as a Swiffer (the spray with the little pad on a stick that you use instead of the old school rope mop or the sponge and squeegee kind) that – get this – uses a reusable pad on the bottom.

Instead of those pre-soaked Swiffer pads that cost a fortune, are chock full of chemicals, clog up your garbage can, and eventually our whole planent with all of those dirty pads – just use a mop with a washing fluid chamber that squirts out a little stream of cleaner and houses a cloth pad on the bottom that you simply wash and reuse.

I used to have a Lipman spray mop back in Hawaii, with reusable cloth pads.  I liked it just fine. When we arrived in Western New York, I needed a new mop, though. (The Lipman worked just fine, it was packed up and it’s in the Pacific Ocean on a ship somewhere, with the rest of our belongings).

me, going nuts, with my awesome new mop

Totally coincidental to my viewership of Celebrity Apprentice (really, I didn’t realize it was the same mop from the show until just now as I was looking it up online and saw Lou Ferrigno pics), I am now the proud and ecstatic owner of the O-Ceder ProMist spray mop.

i love celeb apprentice, but did not love lou. he was actually super annoying. but, he’s repping my new mop, so i gotta give him credit for that. i love this mop!

It caught my eye because it was the cheapest one of its kind in the store.  And boy oh boy am I so glad I took this baby home!

There’s a microfiber pad that easily sticks to the bottom, I bought a secondary pad for a few dollars – so if one’s in the wash, I can still mop it up.   And in the RARE case that a mess deems you must mop with something disposable, they do sell paper pads that fit as well (but don’t do that, just wash the reusable ones).

I LOVE THIS MOP!

best mop ever

It’s great.  It’s so sturdy, the head pivots so nicely.  It’s incredibly easy to use, and it’s so eco-friendly.  I fill up the cleaning fluid tank with a simple mix of WDV and water.  WDV is the perfect mopping solution, you know.  It kills the germs, it cleans, the floor will sparkle and shine – withOUT the stick left behind from Lysol or whatever other chemical mopping stuff you use.  And yes, it smells wacky… but as soon as it dries there is no scent.  None!

look at the shine on that floor – nice!

machine washable. very very easy.

Okay, I think you get my point about the cleaning.  It’s so easy to do, y’all.  Being green is not hard, it’s not always expensive or scary.  I know that when you’re in the grocery store and you see the free range organic food, it costs more than the hormone-filled antibiotic-ridden regular version.  The monetary commitment to an eco-friendly life can seem daunting. But that’s only for certain types of green living.

For most of the things I do around the home, I actually save money.  

WDV is way cheaper than any fancy cleaning product you can buy.  Samesies with baking soda (another awesome cleaning agent that works miracles).  Buying something once, like a rag or a towel and then being able to re-wash it and use it for a really long time is epically cheaper than going through disposable stuffs.

You get the idea?  I hope.

Now.  I know I mentioned food.  So there’s a couple more things I’ll sling into this post.

We feed our dog fancy food.  As in, organic doggie food.  I don’t believe in making him eat that corn-filled, horse meat, food colored, toxic fake garbage that’s all fillers and no nutrients.  We were so blessed at the ole MCBH Commissary, because they carried Organix brand dog food and it only cost a dollar more than the typical on-the-shelf doggie food crap.

Specialty dog foods can be very pricey and you may have to go out of your way to get your hands on them.  I understand that’s not feasible for everyone.  But check this out… Purina has a new label of food out, and although it’s pricier than the typical bag of Beneful, it’s still very affordable.  No corn, no fillers, no super duper garbage – and it’s made by Purina (my cousin works there, as does my Uncle Bobby, we love Purina around here).

jj’s new food, yummy!

JJ loves it!  He eats it right up, and we’re able to easily find it in the dog food section of our local grocers.   It’s called “One Beyond” and the commercials are super cute too (they always advertise for it on Hulu, I’ve noticed).

And finally.  I know in Sunday’s post I lamented about drinking coffee from the Keurig.  The uber-wasteful single cup coffee dispensary that makes you a solo cup of joe, out of a single disposable plastic-y cup.  Oy, the waste.  So much garbage, so much packaging.  It’s convenient and lovely and delicious – yes.  But the hippie in me just feels like such a heel.

So, I went old school and busted out the regular coffee pot.

i can make coffee the regular way

It’s a lot less wasteful, as long as we drink all that we end up making.  Coffee itself is such a slippery slope of hippiedom anyways… from fair trade, to poor work practices and shady farming, etc.  So I won’t get into that side of the bean in this post.  I’ll just tackle my end, the making and drinking side of the story.  And yes, I’m still imbibing in the Keurig-made stuff (it’s what we have in the house), but I’m not exclusively drinking Keurig and I intend to make my way back to the good ole brewing pot.

So there you have it!

Yeah, I’m not as super duper green green green as I had it when we were in Hawaii.  I’ve slipped a bit, I’ve let some things slide.  I’ve had to make accommodations and adjustments because of moving.

It is what it is.

But I’m turning it around.  And hey!  Even on my worst days, I was still maintaining some very clutch eco-kindly habits.  Some is better than none, every little bit really does help.

So as I continue to get my green groove back, I’ll keep y’all in the loop.  The tips and tricks I learn, I’ll pass on.  Because let’s be real, I didn’t invent this stuff – not by a long shot – other hippies taught me, and thus I want to teach you.  And if you have some good tidbits, tell me!  Shoot me an email or let me know right here (happyhippierose@gmail.com).

I’m always looking to build up my repertoire of hippie living.  So go out, get some WDV and a spray mop and clean with kindness.  Happy Housekeeping, y’all!

As always, thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

Image Sources for the ones that are not my own:
Lou Ferrigno with the mop
O-Cedar ProMist mop collage

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Whew. What An Amazing Weekend – Women Of Hope Retreat 2012

I spent this past weekend on the North Shore with 140 of God’s LOVEliest women at my church’s 2012 women’s retreat!

the women of hope

I’m fired up, filled to overflowing, loved, happy, encouraged, humbled, grateful, and … exhausted!  Hence, this post isn’t the actual rundown post.  No, this weekend was so full of post-able pieces of wisdom, insights, joy, fun, photos, and good ideas it’s going to take me a hot minute to compile it all together.  I think I’ll actually make a few posts.

I was so honored to be on the ministry team, working at the event.  I was in charge of the tie dye event and I came up with/led some ice breakers.  I want to post about the group bonding games we did in hopes that others could take the ideas and use them for their own events (Annmarie and I co-led the ice breakers and we are oh so clever, we invented our own games for the ladies to play!!).

The ministry was amazing.  We had devotionals, testimonies, teachings, praise and worship, prayer, prayer and more prayer.  Eight women were baptized in the ocean! EIGHT! Countless women had their faith renewed, re-ignited; sins were purged, the enemy was attacked, others were forgiven.

ocean baptism - amen!

The theme of retreat was LOVE.  We are Lovely, Overcoming, Victorious, and Eternal.

I learned so much, I just feel so pumped up.  I’ve been falling off in my obedience and commitment to God, and this weekend really gave me a chance to dig in and reconnect.  I was able to lay a lot of my own junk down and serve my God, happily.

So, there is MUCH to share, much to say and much to show.  Just give me a few days to collect my thoughts (and notes – I used like seven different notebooks, so everything is all scattered and out of order)… and a series of posts will ensue!

camp mokule'ia is amazing.

If you have any requests of stuff you’d like me to talk about, lemme know.

Oh, and the location!  The location was epic.  Camp Mokule’ia is peaceful and amazing.  The new direction of the facility is to live and run the operations of the camp in a way that is most kind to the land it’s on.  Sustainable living is totally promoted with a new gray water system, aquaponics, composting, gardening, and beefed up recycling.  A hippie like me couldn’t be more excited, especially because Camp management bases all of their green-inspired efforts in Scripture!  I’ll be interviewing the owner of the Camp and giving a full explanation of all their new eco-friendly installations, what the impact has been like, the theological inspiration for the efforts, and how camped have been responding.  So rad, right!?!?

I’m excited to get cracking.  Love to all of my sisters – thank you for a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

she’s going the distance…

She’s [not] going for speed.

Oh man, did I go running yesterday.  Yesterday evening, actually. I had an epic run! 

Did you read Friday’s blog, about how I was reading the awesome marathoner-in-training blog (SmilesAcrossTheFinish) and in doing so I got all pumped up to train harder?  (Woah, I just went all blog-within a blog-within a blog, there. Woah.)

we headed out right as the sun was setting, a perfect time to go

So yeah, for those who aren’t caught up on my crappy ramblings: I’m feeling all driven to try and run harder.

Before we go any further, YES, I love Cake.  And if you think I mean the baked batter with buttercream, while you are correct (I love that cake), I really meant Cake.  The title of this post is from a Cake song.  They’re totally in my list of top 25 all time bands.  I should totally make that list sometime.

Anyways, about running: given my current health dilemma and meds, I’m not sure how consistently dedicated I will end up being, but I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna give it the ole college try and then some.  I’m totally down to play through the pain.  And while I honestly do keep my health in consideration, I don’t want to use it as an excuse or to sell myself short.  It’s a rather delicate balance.

I have a goal for workouts per month, and I really want to push myself, even on those days I feel crappy or am having pain.  Sometimes, running or working out, even helps the pain.

I mean, if ever there was a girl rip roarin’ and ready to push the limits, ignore doctor’s orders and warning, disregard the notion of resting/taking it easy, and push through pain because she has the world’s highest pain tolerance – it’s ME!

I was honestly motivated and I had an AMAZING Friday-evening run.

me, making a REALLY weird face before i go running

weirdo

jj lookin' so so fresh

We ran for 63 minutes without stopping.  That may seem really small and insignificant to you, but for me – that was one whopper of a run!  I didn’t walk AT ALL.  And neither did lil’ pooch.

I won’t tell you how far I actually made it during that time.  That would be too embarassing. But, I did discover some nuances about my threshold and I feel like I have a baseline to start from.  I feel so pumped, that I actually want to go running now.

For everyone motivating me, THANK YOU!  I feel so good, and I hope the momentum keeps pushing me forward.

post-run stretch, feeling like a champ!

are you okay?

I went on a run (okay, a jog with some walking) with the pooch this afternoon.

When I started, I was going down the mountain my house is on, and I saw this car parked in the grass, off the side of the road.  It was a very weird place for a car, and it kinda stuck out as odd to me.

But I just ran on by.

the view on my run (right in our neck of the woods)

I use a stopwatch when I run. So on my way back up to my house, I knew for a fact it had been 38 minutes.  And that same car was still there.  The driver, a lady, was on the phone.  She was doing that thing you do when you’re having an intense convo and you press your hand/finger over the ear the phone isn’t up to, to better enhance the hearing in the phone-ear.

She was frowning.

It all felt odd.

I ran past her.

I kept going – but, mentally, l took pause: what if something was actually wrong? What if she needed some kind of help?

So turned around and ran down over to her window. And I asked her: “are you okay?

She immediately smiled.  Her frown immediately turned into a smile.  “I’m fine, I’m just on a break from work.  Thank you for asking though, how thoughtful!”

from the top of the hill/mountain - looking down. taken a week or so ago.

Seriously, don’t all go nominating me for the Nobel Peace Prize or anything. But I did have one of those sappy, altruistic moments where I genuinely asked myself what kind  of world would we live in if every time we saw someone frowning, or saw someone who seemed out of place, lost, or in a weird situation and we just took two seconds to ask:

Are you okay? 

I know, I know… some folks don’t want to be bothered.  And it could get annoying.

But for those times something IS wrong, or for those times you really were in distress: how amazing would it be to have someone just ask if everything was alright?

….


12 things everybody ought to know about artificial food coloring, a guestpost by rebecca from die, food dye!

Today I am so honored and excited to introduce everyone to a lovely and talented guest blogger:  Rebecca from Die, Food Dye! has so graciously written up this super helpful, informative list about food dyes and additives, providing us all with info that is so needed to know.  And just in time for the holidays, she’s suggested some places where dye-free gifts may be purchased. 

So please give a warm, happyhippierose welcome to Rebecca and today’s post:

….

12 Things Everybody Ought To Know About Artificial Food Coloring

Food coloring tested on animals has shown some scary results, and yet the FDA continues to approve their use in foods, drinks, medications, and personal care products.  It should be the other way around – instead of approving chemicals until they are proven unsafe, the FDA should protect our food system from additives until these chemicals are proven safe.

Hind sight is 20/20 for sure – Since we discovered our daughter’s food coloring sensitivity (and mine),  I’ve learned so much about food additives and the “Big Food” industry.  Their bottom line seems to be in direct conflict with Americans’ health, especially the most vulnerable among us.  And they’re using us as their guinea pigs.

Next time you go grocery shopping, bring your values with you, and think about this –

  • Artificial food coloring used to be made from coal tar;  Now it’s made of petroleum, propylene glycol (anti-freeze), carcinogenic contaminants such as benzene, and parabens.
  • Food coloring has been linked to mood swings, headaches, rashes, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, bed wetting, sleep disturbances, aggression, eczema, cradle cap, ear infections, chromosomal damage, diabetes, obesity, and cancers.  Some scientists believe it has implications in fertility, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.  If you’re a parent, or trying to conceive, avoid food dyes.
  • Not everyone is affected by synthetic food coloring, and not all dyes affect people the same way.  For instance, some people are allergic to red dyes, but blue dyes do not bother them.  Some have a very different reaction to yellows than to reds.  Also, varying combinations of dyes have differing affects on the same person.
  • The affects of food coloring can start minutes or hours after ingestion, and can last for 2-3 days.
  • Petroleum food dyes are found in sports drinks, coffee creamer, marshmallows, canned vegetables, canned fruits, maraschino cherries, spice mixes, toothpaste, mouthwash, jellies, chips, crackers, juice, fruit chewy snacks, cereal snack bars, pastries like Pop Tarts and doughnuts, soft drinks, pudding & sugar-free pudding, gum, condiments, ice cream, yogurt, hot chocolate mix, sausages, farmed fish, pickles, breads, sauces, vitamins, medications, candy, cereals, gelatin, cosmetics, and some crafting kits.  You can check ingredients in cosmetics and personal care items here: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep.
  • In the US, synthetic food dyes must be individually listed by name on food labels, and will appear as a color name followed by a number.  Examples are Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Green 3, Blue 1, and Blue 2.  These may be listed in other countries with an “E” followed by a series of numbers.
  • Red and yellow dyes are used in pet foods such as cat treats, chew hides, sausages, “cookies”, “smoothies”, and gourmet pet “candies”.  These do not add any nutritive value to Fluffy’s and Fifi’s diets, and may be causing their hot spots, rashes, paw-biting, vomiting, fatigue, reproductive problems, and loss of appetite.
  • Be aware during special celebrations…Synthetic food coloring is added to some beers (not just on St. Paddy’s day!), liquors in brightly colored cocktails, cake, pie crusts, ice cream, popcicles, baking supplies, candy, chocolates, cookies, sprinkles, chips, lemonade, powdered drink mixes, juices, tea, mashed potatoes, stuffing mix, temporary tattoos, face paints, and spray tans
  • You can make your own natural food coloring.  Some natural sources of dyes are fruits and vegetables, annatto, carmine, beet juice, elderberry juice, chlorophyll, paprika, turmeric, red cabbage, saffron, and hibiscus flowers.  Some people have allergic reactions to annatto and carmine, so use caution when adding them to your diet.
  • Other countries either use natural food colorings, or place a warning about hyperactivity on the front of synthetically-dyed product labels.  In fact, some large American companies already sell dye-free versions of popular products in other countries.
  • You can order naturally-colored holiday candies such as candy canes, caramels, chocolate assortments, and lollipops at www.NaturalCandyStore.com and www.IndieCandy.com.  These two retailers are having daily holiday specials right now, are active on Twitter and Facebook, and can usually ship to the US by the holiday if you order by this weekend (check their sites for specifics).  You can also find plenty of dye-free seasonal goodies at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

I envision a day when healthy foods will be the “norm”, and cheaper than processed “food.”  A small shift in consumer preference is enough to make big food manufacturers take notice.  Send tweets to manufacturers asking them when they’ll ditch the dyes.  Share this information with friends, doctors, parents, grandparents, teachers, restauranteurs, school officials, store owners, and lawmakers.  Vote with your dollars…and let your voice be heard!

For more information, check out studies referenced by the Feingold Association  (www.feingold.org) and the Center For Science In The Public Interest (www.cspinet.org).  For help adjusting to life without food coloring, visit my blog at www.DieFoodDye.com.  Follow @DieFoodDye on Twitter, and interact with other dye-sensitive folks on the DFD Facebook fan page.

…..

Thank you so much, Rebecca!!  There is always so much to learn, it’s great to get these applicable tips to help sort out the action plan.  It’s easy to know about wanting to do something, but hard to know where and how to start.   Now, I feel so motivated to keep fighting the good fight against dye.  

Do you react to food dye? How? Leave me a comment to discuss! I personally have a strong reaction to artificial dyes, Red 40 being the worst of the worst.  This is an issue that gets me so heated up, so quick! 

Please, check out a couple other great ones from Rebecca’s blog… 

As always, thanks for reading!  I’ll be back tomorrow with some super easy DIY crafts/decor ideas.  xoxo, hhr

not just for inmates and foreign kids: it’s good to give, part one!

It’s Good To Give. Part 1

So I know I’ve already posted about a couple of the venues for holiday giving that we’ve participated in this year (we, as in Duggs and myself) – holiday gift bags for local lady inmates, and making some amazing shoebox care packs for Operation Christmas Child.

But our holiday giving this year isn’t just for inmates or kids in faraway lands!  We’re getting into other forms of giving, some that impact our communities.

Here what’s we’re doing… and how you can do so in your very own land:

Holiday Cards

Who doesn’t love a sweet cheerful card?  I know it can seem weird to send out an anonymous card, but for someone in a tough spot, a random act of kindness can mean such a big deal.  Really!

I think it may already be too late… but just in case it’s not, you can send a card to a Wounded Warrior at Walter Reed Hospital:

Holiday Mail For Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

Now, the rep I spoke with on Friday said that it was basically the last day to have cards/mail post marked that could get to an injured service member in time for Christmas… but hey, it didn’t sound like a hard deadline.  And what’s the worst that could happen?  It gets there a couple days late?  I say go for it, but I am a bit of a rule-bender.

I’ve been making these cute Christmas tree cards at home:

easy and cute, just write the message on the back

I’m checking in with the VA hospital out here today just to make sure, but I plan on bringing in the cards to them.  You can also make some easy “happy holidays” cards with paper snowflakes and blue markers, or Hanukkah cards with Stars of David and some gold glitter for gelt.  Easy-peasy, yeah? I’m planning a seasonal craft blog later this week, and then I’ll give the step by step how-to.

I really wanted to send cards to anonymous wives/spouses/caretakers of Wounded Warriors this year.  But .. I got on the idea too late.  I haven’t been able to find a program that has anything like that in place, now.  The good people at Operation Homefront have emailed with me about possibly gearing something up for next year.  How awesome would that be?!?!

Make some cards.  Buy some.  It doesn’t matter.  And take a few minutes to write a friendly message and then bring them to people who could use a smile: your local hospital, your local old folks home, the local businesses you support and enjoy; maybe it’s not a stranger, but someone you know who could use a smile? Cards are so easy and so nice. Bonus points for using recycled materials.

Toys for Tots

The United States Marine Corps Reserves run the annual drive to collect toys and stuffed animals every year.  This year, my friend Becky (who is one of the most generous people I know!!) sent me some toys to donate at a local Toys For Tots drop-off out here.

(also: Hallmark channel is airing some sort of Parade tonight that goes to benefit Toys for Tots, so tune into that too!  That sounds fun.)

But like I said, my friend Becky sent me a box of toys to give out.  So Duggs and I decided to chip in our own toys, and bring them all together to the drop off.  The one at our bank is due by this afternoon, so either before or after our big doctor’s appt run for the day, we’ll be going by there.

toys, that will go to tots! thank you becky!!

It’s easy to find your own local drop off, and really… toys don’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to drop off half a dozen Leap Pads to make a difference (and if you did, could you please give me the location and time of your drop-off?  haha, I kid.. I kid…).  A little goes a long way, think of how great it feels to just make one child smile.  Aww.  That warms your heart, admit it.

Hawaii Food Bank

The good people at Hawaii Food Bank make sure that hungry families are fed.  This is so amazing and important.  We will be giving food to their drive for this year.  I love picking out some of my personal faves to share with others.  Like those Annie’s Organic Pasta Stars.  I always donate those!

I actually love to donate high quality food.  Just because one is having a tough time financially doesn’t mean one wants to be unhealthy.

But that’s nit-picky.

In all earnestness, I suggest finding your local food bank and making an edible donation today!

Can you tell that I like to give things, rather than money?  I do like to work with charities where I can make or buy items to give.  I can be picky about charities to donate to, and so giving a tangible item is nice.  It feels controlled.

But some forms of giving just go the farthest when you make a monetary gift.

Doggies!

I plan to give some cash money to our local Humane Society, the Hawaiian Humane Society (note, NOT the national one, that’s a different beast altogether, ya feel me?).  I can’t even click on the Humane Society’s webpage without getting all misty-eyed.

Another great one is Hawaii Dog Foundation, where our very own JJ came from.

Is there a local shelter or rescue in your area that needs soem support?  (I mean, what animal rescue doesn’t need financial aid, overpopulation and crappy owners have made un-homed pets a crisis in our country).

And So On…

I’m thinking that’s about it for this year.   But ya never know!  I’m such a tenderhearted sucker, I end up always trying to give, give, give to everyone.

If you’re stumped on a gift for someone, you can always give a donation to a cause of their liking in that someone’s name.  Or you can choose a cause of my liking, and then I can barrage you with thank you emails!

It really is better to give than to receive.

I do so want everyone to enjoy whatever presents they hopefully get this year, but please, don’t scrimp on the giving either.  I know it’s hard times, I know it is.  But when times are tough, we just have to dig deeper.

You can do it!

So… Where are you giving to this year?  What are your charitable holiday plans? 

Tell me all about them, and maybe others reading will want to join in with you too.

As always, thanks for reading everyone!  Happy Giving!

xoxo, hhr

seven extra years of life: happy cancerversary to me!

I’ve had Seven Extra Years, and Counting… SEVEN!!

Last weekend was my SEVEN YEAR CANCERVERSARY.  Yes, it’s been seven whole years since I finished treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Just, WOW.

my cancer certificate: december 3, 2004.

I don’t have the right words, really.  To say that I’m happy, or to say I’m grateful just isn’t enough.  Mere words like thankful, elated, indebted, honored, or humbled, are all accurate, but aren’t exacting or strong enough.

It’s a wordless kinda feeling.

On Cancer:

Cancer was weird.  It was a weird time in my life.  It was a difficult, and kinda scary time that was full of procedures and medicine, doctors visits, worry, lots of shots.  I did chemo.  I did radiation.  I had surgeries.  I was bald.  I was scared. I was strong.

And of course, as trite as it sounds: cancer changed me.  It really did, though.  I emerged from the fight as a kinder person, a nicer, sweeter, more appreciative-of-the-small-stuff person.  I like post-cancer Rose much better than her pre-cancerous bratty counterpart.

Cancer brought my family closer.

Cancer brought me back to God, and I had never been closer in to Him than during that time.

Eight Years Ago:  (it’s eight years ago, because the fight took a whole year)

I remember going to the appointment with my Aunt Sheila and Uncle Tim, in my pink velour track suit, and finding out I needed chemo and I was going to lose my hair.  I was on a boat in Polk County with my then-bf Rick and our pal Critter, when my surgeon called to give me my pathology results and told me I really did have cancer.

We had this meeting, my boyfriend at the time, Rick, and four of our closest friends: Chas, and his then-girlfriend Jess, and Richard Mack and his then-girlfriend, Jessica.  Chas and I were running for Student Gov’t Pres and VP and Richard was our campaign manager.  The cancer diagnosis came smack dab in the middle of our campaign.  We had to figure out what to do.  It was crazy and intense, and so surreal.

(all my pics from back then were prints, no digi.  and they were all stolen.  i wish i had pics of those days i could pop into my blog, here. boo.)

I’ll never forget the people that saved my life.  My family and friends, the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. My sorority and the whole Greek system.  My friend Jessica who got her church to donate $3k towards my treatment fundraiser.  Total strangers just giving to keep me alive.  It was amazing.  I was on the receiving end of so much… it’s impossible to ever give back enough.  To ever be thankful enough.

In Seven Years…

I’ve done a lot.  I’ve tried to make the most of my extra life, of my bonus months, days and hours.

I graduated college.  From UNF, with a BA in English and Poli Sci.  I had a 3.8 GPA.  That’s an accomplishment I’m durn proud of!

go ospreys!

And for the record, I literally invented the SWOOP!  Anyone from UNF will know what I mean.  I promise, I am the creator and inventor of The Swoop!  I used to do it at half time during basketball games to pump up the crowd.  Anyways! Moving on…

After cancer, I got this sweet tramp stamp to signify my accomplishment:

yeah. i'm an english major with a grammatically incorrect tattoo.

I went nuts for a while.  I had some rockin’ good times!

woo. party. good times. fun.

when i say i went nuts, i really mean it.

the infamous cactus feet incident. oh man.

this was the spring break right after i beat cancer, i'm in pink in the middle there.

oh man, i'm in the bottom left... we were nuts!

I lived in this awesome apartment with all my best friends.  1308.  We had way too much fun, and engaged in far too many shenanigans.  It was such a great era.

I worked for Merrill Lynch for a while.  I did somethingerother with some mutual funds. It was boring and kinda tricky, and in a cubicle.  I liked the people I worked with, though.  I loved them, actually.

the bull!

my team did super mario bros. for halloween one year. it was awesome.

I lived in Jacksonville for a while after UNF.  I loved my friends, and I just had a fun, good life.

I dabbled in modeling.  But that didn’t go very far.  Oh wells! I tried, hehe.

I quit the cubicle and became a beach lifeguard, again.  It was my first and most favorite job of all time.  I will always love it.  So yeah, in 2008 I quit ML and went back to  the beach.  It was so fun!

Then I decided to try and grow up some more.  I went back to school, for nursing.  I worked super hard.  I graduated from Remington College of Nursing with a 3.1 GPA.  Nursing school was seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done, academically and mentally.  It was tough!  But I was good at it.  I loved it.

nurse rose!

In the past seven years, I’ve dyed my hair an awful lot!

I’ve traveled: Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Hawaii, the Northeast, NYC a bunch of times, Vegas, and more…

I got back into surfing.  I learned yoga.  I taught myself how to paint, sorta.

I started teaching CCD (Catholic Sunday school, basically) in Jax, and continued it once I moved to Hawaii.  When I left the Catholic church, I taught Children’s Church at my non-denom place of worship.  I like working with kids so much.  I want to be a pediatric nurse some day.  Or a best-selling writer.  Or both!

I met, fell in love with, and married the most wonderful man in the whole universe.  I love you so much Duggs, and I am so very blessed to have found you and to be your wife.  You’re the best!

I started a tie dye business.  And this blog.

tie dyeing back at my dad's house, years before i went pro

I’ve had some ups and downs with my health in the last seven years, yeah.  I’ve had a few surgeries.  I’ve logged some hospital time, it’s true.

post-op in 2009

It would be impossible to have seven years of only happiness, that’s not real.  There have been challenges, and hard time.  Sadness. Loss.  Frustrations.

But that’s the cool thing about surviving cancer: it really toughens you up.  And it teaches you this resolve to get through any and everything.  And for me, I’ve learned to do it with a smile or with a joke.  I’ve learned to do it with the help of those who love me, the help of strangers too.  And with faith in God that it will all be okay.

For seven extra years of life, I am so absolutely thankful and happy.  I try to live a life that shows how grateful I am, and one that aims to make the most of every day, of every opportunity, just of everything.

So here’s to seven more years!  Or seventy more years!  Or even just seven more minutes of this wonderful and precious life.  Every breath is worth it, and every moment is a gift that I am forever grateful to have.

as always: thanks for reading! xoxo, hhr

christmas in the pokey

I’m talking about bringing the holidays into the big house. Jesus’ birthday in jail. Holly Lock up! Jingle bells behind bars. And so on…

Incarcerated Christmas

the wccc in kailua

But seriously, all joking and cheap attention-grabbing aside, it’s been a good week with great acts of giving to chat about.

The Women’s group at my beloved church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe, aptly called the Women of Hope, recently participated in an interesting Christmas-related drive.  We collected hygiene items, basic toiletries, some chocolate and other simple, nice, feminine gifts to help supplement the holiday presents female inmates will receive this year at the Women’s Community Correctional Center in Kailua.

I know that might sound weird to some.  In fact, a couple people have expressed to me how odd they find this idea.  But Prison Ministry is no new concept, and well, people in jail are still people.

A rant on my personal beliefs:

As an American, I believe in our corrections system.  I believe that jail can and should rehabilitate people so that after serving sentences they can return to society.  How is that to happen if incarcerated people are treated like lepers?  Aren’t given any love? What’s the motivation to get out and assimilate into law-abiding culture if the average American won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.

I believe that love goes a long way in the rehabilitation process.  And that it’s a necessary ingredient in creating well-adjusted citizens, in general.  We all need love.

Now, I know that folks are locked up for a reason.  They’re not all lily white and innocent.  I get that, c’mon, I’m far from dumb.  But people are people.  And people need love.

And pssst Christians, we’re called to love everyone!  Even those behind bars.

/soapbox.

Onto the gift giving:

I am so humbled and honored by the friends who came by my house and dropped off items to give, the people who literally wired money to me and sent me carepacks of toiletries.  I’ve literally been bowled over by the generosity I’ve witnessed this holiday season.   Even in the toughest of times, people are still finding a way to reach down and give out.  It’s so beautiful and amazing.  And I’m just honored to be a part of this.

There are roughly 300 women in the Kailua WCCC at any given time; currently there are about 260 lady inmates.  Every single one of them, even those in lock down units, will receive a gift bag this year for the holidays.  The donated hygiene items will be essential for many of these women.  And for too many, it will be the only gift they receive all year.

I am so spoiled with love.  I literally cannot imagine spending a whole year in a place as dark, scary and lonely as prison and then only being loved on once.   It breaks my heart and it makes me wonder about the crime cycle and the derivatives of criminal activity.  The optimist prime in me knows that love and kindness can break that cycle, and prevent people from going down that road in the first place.   I mean, I obviously have no study to cite on this one, but I just imagine how broken and angry, how lash-y out-y I’d be if I was relegated to a cell and ignored.

My friends gave me all kinds of goodies, shampoos and nice lotions.

salon samples of super high end products, nice!

kenny helped buy all of these bottles, thank you kenny! i think maggie's are in here too. you two ROCK!

We collected all the items at the Women’s event held on Monday, An Evening In December.  It was an awesome night of praise, worship, fellowship and a fired up message from guest speaker/local celebrity Dawn O’Brien, from FM 99.5 “The Fish.”

On Wednesday, Pastor Tami, the women’s pastor at HCKB, drove all of the goodies up to the WCCC where my friend Chiffon and I met her.  The two Pastors from the Correction Facility’s Chapel, along with a couple inmates came out to the car to get everything from us.

tami's car was stuffed!

We all held hands and prayed together in the parking lot.  Seeing the excitement and glee come over the faces of the ladies receiving these gifts was priceless.  That was my Christmas present right there.   They called me “sister,” and they asked God to Bless me.  I have no idea who they are, or what anything in their past could be…. but when they thanked me, and prayed with me and called me sister, I had never been more affirmed of the importance this type of giving, ever.

the entrance of the facility

chiffon and me, by all of the stuff!!

chiffon, one of the women's pastors, me, pastor tami from church, and pastor tami from the wccc

I’m also feeling really called to go work in the system, hopefully with women or at the youth facility.  Getting to meet the Pastors who work inside the jail and talk to them, and hear their excitement at new volunteers was really motivating too!

To everyone who bought items, gave money, brought things in: THANK YOU SO MUCH!  It was truly a successful drive, and the holidays of so many women will be blessed.  They also will use some of the items to gift to women when they get out, as they go to a halfway house or what have you, so these blessing will keep on going and keep on giving, all year long!

And for reading my little blog, as always, thank you!!

xoxo, hhr 

post-thanksgiving catch up

Hi everyone!!  I’m here, I’m doing okay.  Let me catch everyone up on the holidays, my health, and just my overall happyhippiness.

I’ve missed you dear bloggy-readers, (all seven of you, ha).  To those who’ve missed me and checked in on me, thank you.  And to those who just read, I’m thankful for you too!  (((hugs)))

Today’s post is a long one, but I think it’s a real gem.  Enjoy!

Post-Thanksgiving Catch Up

Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Duggs and I woke up, put on the parade and got to cooking, baking and smooching.  Yeah. We smooch a lot. I love watching the parade, just so I can get all annoyed at it’s cheesiness and weirdness, it’s so so so commercialized it’s just like a two mile long inflatable advertisement.  Bee tee dubs, when I just wrote advertisement, I totes pronounced it the Brirtish way in my head, so please do so while reading.  It’s much more sophisticated.  Ad-vert-is-ment.

Moving along…  So ole Duggs and I baked and cooked, and it was fun.  Christmas music was playing and I was just so happy.  I LOVE the holidays.  I miss my family, but to celebrate the entire holiday season with my husband: amazing!! what a gift!!

We spent the day with some great friends, here on base.  The Tanners (of course, we heart the Tanners so hard!), our friend Chiffon came and our friend Dana. So six people total.  Luckily, we cooked for about thirty, so the leftovers abounded! Score!

me and ole stinky duggs at thanksgiving dinner and he made a weird face to ruin my photo. thanks a lot duggs.

duggs and his man-friend, jed, at turkey day

the spread of amazing food. such a bountiful feast.

ashley was kind enough to purchase special doggie thanksgiving dinners for the pooches. they went totally nuts. it was great!

dana and chiffon were our other guests. this isn't a great photo bc chiffon isn't looking, but i didn't want to leave them out of my recap!

On Being Thankful

I have so much to be thankful for now. It would take up shifty-five blog posts to even list it all.  I try so hard to focus my daily prayer on thanksgiving year-round.  This season is a great opportunity to reflect on our blessings, to immerse in gratefulness for what we already have.

Also coming along with this season: the temptation to want want want, to shop, to desire things.  The temptation to become materialistic is immense.   In order to shop for others, we see many other things we want.  I’m going to write another blog about gift-giving and my process and etc.

But to summarize the concept of being thankful on Thanksgiving: I am.

  • Thank you God, for life, for your Grace, for everything.
  • Thank you family, thank you friends, for your love.  I need you all so much.
  • Thank you kind strangers, the little random angels that were at the right place at the right time to just get me through.
  • Thank you people who have allowed me to learn, facilitated the improvement of my health, offered me comfort.
  • Thank you United States Marine Corps for training my husband, bringing hom home safely, for putting a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, for taking care of our medical needs.
  • Thank you Hawaii for being beautiful.
  • Thank you church family for loving me, fostering my faith, giving me chances to love on my community and do good works, teach children, help those in need.
  • Thank you tie dye customers for your support and belief in me.
  • Thank you Cletus, for teaching me a special kind of love I never knew.  I miss you greatly  and severely.
  • Thank you JJ, how would I have ever survived this year without you?
  • Thank you Matthew Duggan, your relentless love, patience, care, charm, wit, strength, protection and devotion keep me alive in every literal and metaphorical way. I love you so much.
  • I am so thankful for TV, giggles, my warm and safe home, snacks, cold clean water, hot clean water, the Bible, Scentsy warmers, baked goods, art, music, I could go on and on and on…

Catching Up

So after Thanksgiving, we spent Saturday watching the MICHIGAN/ohiostateblah game at my pal Trish’s house.  Since the game came on at 7:00am here, we had a breakfast party!

trish and me on gameday

a rather sassy photo of me with like one third of duggs back there.

Thanksgiving weekend was a mix of awesomeness and awfulness.

Awesome, because Duggs got a 96 from work (four days off!).  I really wanted to hike one day, maybe snorkel. The weather wasn’t suited for it though, it was rainy and dreary most of the time.  I prefer exploring Hawaii on super sunny days!

It was awful because of how I was feeling.  My ear and thus my face/under-eye-area/cheekbone all started hurting.  All the plans we had for the long weekend were dumped and we spent the whole time, sans Thanksgiving Day and the Michigan game, planted in front of the TV.   We actually went on a huge movie streak and I did some Christmas-crafts, card designing, and present planning.

So… I just had to take it easy.  Rest.  Lay down.  All of which I really don’t care for.  I’m a mover and a shaker, a dancer and prancer.  I was in a lot of pain, and just really not doing well.

On Sunday night I got ambitious.  I know know know I’m not supposed to so much as touch a drop of alcohol.  And while I don’t really mind being dry, every now and then I just miss it.  That missing it has become harder around the holidays.  Spiced wine.  Eggnog. New Year’s champagne.  I cannot partake in any of it and it’s bumming me out.

Sunday night I told Duggs that I wanted to try some wine.

Sweet Duggs went out and picked up a bottle of red.  A nice pinot noir.  I had about half a glass, was enjoying it.  Then bam! All of a sudden it hit me and it was all over from there.  My throat was burning.  My tongue, swelling.  I was getting hot and clammy and I was so incredibly nauseous I couldn’t move.  We busted out the saltines and ginger ale, and I just held on.  We prayed. We prayed so hard.  And eventually, it came to pass.

Because of the porphyria, my liver just cannot metabolize ETOH like a normal liver could or would.   My doctor suggested it may have been the red wine, and that if I’d like, I can try something different.  However, that risk of feeling  acutely crappy is pretty impressive.  I felt MISERABLE.  Like, downright awful.

On Monday morning, I woke up feeling better.  I went on a decorating and cleaning rampage.  I gave this house the deepest cleaning I have since Homecoming!  I was on hand and knee scrubbing out every nook and cranny.  This place is sparkling. Seriously.

look at the shine off that floor! and this was taken a day later, even.

I cleaned so hard I was sore the next day and I chipped my nail polish, *gasp*, the horror, I know.  Don’t worry, I fixed them on Tuesday.  Monday night I started slowing down and the pain started creeping back.   I assume I pushed myself a bit too hard on Monday.

i stole this idea from my friend trish and i think it's so cute. i'll opine on gift wrap at a later time.

kitchen table, set for xmas

Tuesday.  I woke up feeling okay again.  My ear was hurting a bit, but I decided to push through and go for a run.  Post-workout I felt amazing!  Runner’s high, endorphines, it’s all good and they really do make me feel better.  It’s natural pain relief.

i fixed the nails i chipped on monday

After lunch my friend Lynnie called, and as we were chatting I decorated the Christmas Tree, lights, ornaments and all.  I’m so proud that I cranked it out in like two hours!  I had a lovely catch-up with my darling pal (thanks for calling, Lynn, I love you!).

this year's tree!

my fav ornament, courtesy of my friend krista! LOVE!

winnie-a-pooh (how i used to say it, so it's my family name for sweet ole winnie)

i like my own reflection in the ornaments. sigh. my vanity is an issue i need to work on.

Then… it hit me.  A wave of pain came over me that was so incredible all I could was just lay on the couch and text. I was texting Duggs explicatives.  We discussed going to the E.R.  I didn’t know what to do.

I realized my super tight sports bra was still on from my run.  The straps pull hard on my shoulder, which then trigger neck and ear pain.  It sounds weak, or maybe bizarre.  But this whole area of my body is so tender, inflamed, wacky, that even a simple touch like a shoulder squeeze can set me off into barrels of pain.  Hours of uber tight sports bra = crazy amounts of ouch.

I just layed out on the couch.  I cried.  I packed myself with ice. And I just hoped and hoped it would go away.

here i am, tuesday late afternoon, icing and praying ... laying in the worst pain it's been in a long time.

It was bad.  We (Duggs and I) discussed going to the E.R.  My two main docs are both out on holiday leave though, and I so hate to go to the ER blind, without someone who knows the particulars of my case to be there to help out.  (And that’s not snotty… someone unfamiliar with porphyria could accidentally make me super ill, or even kill me; also, explaining my whole medical history takes an hour, the meds I’m on are staggering and I hate explaining them all, and I just get stressed out dealing with new hands in the mix – which I know is inevitable – but it is what it is).

Tuesday evening I felt the worst, strongest, most direct pain I’d felt in a long, long time.  I could have sworn an ice pick was being jabbed into my ear and going through to my cheekbone and under my eye. Just miserable.  I couldn’t concentrate, think, do anything.

I decided to stay home, to ride it out.   I posted this on FB the next day:

it’s been a really rough week/ten days. i was miserable on thanksgiving – but i was having such a nice time with my friends – i didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. the whole long weekend was ROUGH. it’s just been crappy lately.

i’m staying positive and optimistic, and my faith is really getting me through. my lovely amazing husband helps a lot too ♥

but, i’m being honest: it’s been rough. i’m not well, and i’m not sure what we’ll try next, what there is to try next. all my docs are on holiday leave till next week =(

….

[thank you miles!!] i know i’m known for being so cheerful and upbeat, but there comes a time when i have to just be honest and admit that’s it’s been harder than i make it seem.

something HAS to give, i just know it. God has brought me through many many challenges before, and i just know He’ll do it again. and through every struggle i’ve endured, amazing good has come from it. so my hubs and i just keep examining and seeking… looking for the good that will come out of this, the lessons we can learn, the path this is leading us down. and well, we have ideas, but we’re still in the weeds. hindsight is always 20/20, so once we’re out of this, i’m sure we’ll have gained much from it. it’s just no fun going through it!

…it’s tough. but when bad things happen, when times get rough, He pulls me out and dusts me off and shows me some good that has come of it. even cancer.

loss is hard to understand. death, pain, suffering…

but i trust Him. that was my prayer last night. i was literally ailing, just tears rolling down my face from the pain and the anguish and frustration of being in so much pain for so long. and i just prayed, “i trust You. now, get me through this, please.”

so we’ll see. cancer made me a better person, times a million. i was just rotten beforehand. mean, bitchy, bitter, jealous, etc. cancer slowed me down, gave me appreciation – made me NICE. i’m tellin ya… i wasn’t always sugary sweet.

Wednesday was much better.  Still in pain, but it was calming down.  I was starting to rope it in and get ahead of it.

hi, wednesday morning!

I worked on some crafts, took it easy, and just tried to focus on feeling good and calm, asking peace into my body.  Inviting Grace to just come in and soothe.  And it started working a little bit. Thank God.

a cup of tea is oh so nice.

Wednesday afternoon Duggs and I had doctor’s appointments and errands.  During and afterwards my ear was just aching.

my fun outfit for rainy cool wednesday

We came home and had a veg out night, and I just had to ice and take it easy.  It’s just been a rocky road lately.

Thursday. 

Today is Thursday.  I woke up feeling alright and I’m trying to be productive.  I’m doing lots of chores, working on a romantical surprise for Duggs, sprinkling some more Christmas flavor around the house.

this me and the pooch right now. hi!

I have a lot I want to talk about, but I don’t want to have this textual diarrhea and blurt it all out in an unthoughtful manner.  I need to write and edit before I post.  I’m thinking about opening up the floodgates to some feelings I’ve been plastering in for a while.

Losing my health is something worth grieving.  I’ve been really emotional lately whenever I think of past memories that highlight my vitality and strength, like my English Channel Expedition, for example.   On a related note, I actually went swimming recently and I was so slow.  It left me sad and longing for when I was quick, sure of my physical self, toned and in shape.

But, it’s not a total wash. Not by a long shot.  I’m still so very able-bodied and well in many many ways.  I must keep that in mind, be grateful for the many parts that do work, and the oddles of things I can do.

On the worst of days, this medical malady of mine is debilitating. Sure.  But I have okay days, good days and wonderful days on which I’m able to do quite a lot.

I have no idea how I could maintain a work schedule while I’m in this condition.  My docs don’t consider me stable enough to work, and it’s hard taking criticism from people for not having a job.  It’s been really hurting my feelings lately.  I WISH I was working right now, I WISH I was doing what a normal, healthy person of my age would be doing.

Similarly, we want to start a family soon.  But with my meds, it is out of the question.  And there’s no end in sight.  I have no idea, no clue, how long I’ll be on these meds or when something will work.  Family planning is 100% on hold now.  And after the miscarriage, it’s hard to have zero clue when we can try again.  It’s very painful, and I don’t think many people realize how that feels.

So yeah, I have more to say, but I want to say it carefully and tactfully.  In the meantime, at least I’ve come this far in opening up my vulnerability and being honest about what’s really going on.  I am happy, and positive, optimistic.  I do smile.  But I also cringe and cry, I worry and I get upset.  I feel loss and sadness, and most often: physical pain.  There’s two sides to this whole thing, and I think I can show both now.

As always – thank you for reading !! xoxo, hhr 

P.S.  I totally have so many blog posts I’m just dying to type out and put up! More fun stuff, less heavy stuff, too.  Like: Holiday craft and gift ideas, more cruelty-free product reviews! Christmas tie dye, Making your own giftwrap (a fave of mine for years now!), etc.  I want to post about giving, and what orgs Duggs and I are giving to this year.  So, I’ll try and get back on a more regular blogging schedule, I mean it.

operation christmas child: cute crafts that bring big blessings, you can help too!

Operation Christmas Child

I’ve totally found the most perfect charitable project for my skill set: Operation Christmas Child!  The important part is that it’s an awesome project, delivering gifts to children in serious need.  The fun part is that I get to make care packs, and not just regular care packs, Christmas care packs!  How perfectly rad is that?!?!

And there’s more… you can help me! 

christmas care packs for an amazing cause

Samaritan’s Purse is a world-wide ministry that brings food, medicine, clothes, vocational education, supplies, and love to the world’s most vulnerable populations.  Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is a project that delivers hand-packed boxes of small toys, candy, clothes, toiletries, personal letters, and The Gospel to children in 130 different countries.

My church, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay (HCKB), is participating in OCC this year with a pledge of 3,000 boxes!  National collection week is later this month, and our boxes are due by November 20.  (Boxes are actually collected year-round at Samaritan’s Purse HQ, but HCKB’s 2011 drive has a hard deadline).

the OCC pod at church, handing out empty shoe boxes and then collecting the full care packs

so much empty space that needs to be filled with OCC boxes - this whole pod needs to be packed!

This video moved me to tears when they played it during our Sunday service a couple weeks ago: 

So how can you help?  My church is shy of their goal.  We haven’t turned in 3,000 boxes yet.  Duggs and I made two, and while we wish we could make a million boxes, we have financial limitations of our own.  Here’s where I’m asking people for help:  if you would like to fund a box and send me some cash money, I’ll do all the legwork and handicrafting! I’ll shop, decorate, pack and pray over a box that will have your name, contact info and any personal touches you’d like me to include (if you want I can put pics of you in there, we have a photo printer, and if you give contact info some children will write back as pen pals).

It’s up to you how much you’d like to spend per box, and you can pick if you’d like it to be for a boy or a girl, and what age group.

you decide!

Samaritan’s Purse does ask that $7 be included with every box to help cover the shipping and handling, so please keep that donation in mind as well.

If you’d like to just donate directly to the organization, you can always just do that.  Go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ/ and you can give money online to help kids get boxes that way.

I know there are so many charitable organizations to work with, and there are so many projects this time of year.  I know that so many of you are tapped out and pulled in many directions.  Please don’t feel like I’m panhandling… I’m just putting the offer out there: if you’d like to fund a box, I’d love to put it together for you.   Matthew and I had such a great time making our boxes this past weekend, we’d be honored to keep it going.  Something about OCC has seriously touched my heart and I just feel so compelled to do as much as I can.  If even just one more child gets a box, that’s a great thing to me.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve picked some kind of service project to do at the holidays. It used to be because my Mom made me… but the tradition stuck and I’ve kept it up as an adult, happily!  Since being married, my hubs has gladly jumped on board (thank you Duggs, for sharing your hard-earned money with those less fortunate than us). This year, making the boxes and having such a hand in the actual gift the kids will get, felt so special to me.

I love how personal OCC is.  I like actually selecting the items, the possibility of being pen-pals, that every single box will be unique.  OCC is specialized, it’s different, and I really know and believe in my heart that these boxes will have a great impact on the children who receive them.  Based on the religious nature of the project, I know it’s not for everyone.

I’m so pumped to work on the boxes, to give these kids a smile, and to offer them the hope and peace that is the love of God.   In the darkest of places, God’s Light is needed the most!

….

Check out the boxes we already made: 

i busted out the glitter glue, of course!

our boxes are going to mongolia, so i looked up how to write "merry christmas and happy new year" in mongolian cyrillic!

tie dye was included!

all the goodies we packed on in

costume jewelry!

we wrote personal little notes and included pics of our lil fam

packing it all in there was no easy feat. but i mean, i am a care pack expert.

i used every inch of space i had

As always, thanks for reading and looking at my photos.  If you are interested in funding a box, we have just less than two weeks to get it done!  Email me: happyhippierose@gmail.com or just comment here.  THANK YOU!!