Bite Size Cake

Pinterest – Love that place. Let me say right off, if I’m not following your boards, holler at me.  The more people you follow there, the more you’ll see and learn about. (Seriously, leave your link below.)

Instead of just “pinning” and never actually doing, I’ve been working putting my Pinterest account to work.

 

heart bite size cake with logo

 

For years I have dipped Nutter Butter Cookies in white chocolate or almond bark.  Something about this combination is very irresistible.  Any time they are a simple treat, but at Halloween, they can be ghosts.  At Christmas, they can be snowmen (cut a miniature Reese’s Cup in half for the hat.)  Great fun for the kids to make and decorate.

 

Easy Desserts

Here is my Pinspiration:

 

Here is what I came up with:

When I was experimenting on some recipes for my son’s wedding shower, I came across the above dessert.  I laughed and thought why not and why had I not thought of that earlier?  My only concern was the cake drying out.  My nephew and I started experimenting.

You’ll need:

Small cookie cutter any design (we used a tiny heart)

Wax Paper

Sara Lee Frozen Pound Cake

White Chocolate or Almond Bark – melted**

Fun Sprinkles

 

We sliced the thawed cake an 1 ½ thick and then took our little cookie cutters and cut out as many heart shapes as we could out of each piece, placing them on wax paper.

We melted our Chocolate in the tray that it comes in just as directed on the package and using a fork, we gently put the hearts in the chocolate.  We were careful to get it completely covered and then placed on wax paper to harden.  We topped them off with the sprinkles.

They were absolutely delicious! He said they reminded him of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes.

Our wedding shower was going to be big (we were expecting 50-60 guests,) so I had wondered if they would be ok overnight, in case I needed to make them a day ahead.  I literally left these on the wax paper overnight, covered them up and the next day they were still delicious! Storing them in an air tight container will be perfect for them.  I wouldn’t suggest refrigerating them as it can dry out the cake.

 

**use this type of chocolate for other things like pretzels, Ritz Crackers with peanut butter in the middle, etc.  lots of uses! THINK Homemade Gifts!**

 

 

I believe this is a PinWin but feel free to let me know your thoughts.

 

To see all of my Fun Foods, Weekend To Do’s and more, follow me over on Pinterest.

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Back to School 2014 UPDATE

Back to School is such an exciting time.  It is also stressful for many parents as they get the ginormous list of items that are needed each year.  It seems that it is continuing to grow. 

Slide1

 

 

Thanks to you and your generous giving, we are able to help several hundred kids each year go back to school with the necessities.  While you may not realize it, this is a HUGE thing that you do!  Donations were down a bit this year and we were concerned that we might not be able to do as much as we usually do.

Thanks to you we were able to do more this year!

Thank you for giving of yourselves this year to help encourage children to do their best this year.

Thank you for praying over this event and spreading the word so that others can get involved and give.

Thank you for your monthly support that allows us to do more than we ever thought possible.

Thank you!

Slide2

We had a few events where we gave them out with a few churches that go out into the community and pick up kids that want to come to church, but don’t often have a way.  That is always fun and I’m thankful for churches that still provides transportation to anyone that wants to attend, but wouldn’t be able to because of transportation issues.

Each year, one of the things I look forward to is personally handing out the bags in neighborhoods that have a great need.  Yep, you read that right – I go out and deliver them personally.  This keeps my heart tender and on the lookout for other ways to encourage the discouraged.

My plan of leaving early that Saturday morning and getting them handed out before the heat set in fell through.  After 3 evening of 3 to 4 hours of sleep, I was simply exhausted and took my time getting ready.  I smile at that thought because I had no idea that God was putting me right where HE wanted me and at just the right time.

I got to the neighborhood around 11:30ish. I saw one of the Mom’s sitting on her porch.  I decided to see if I could find some kids and then I’d come back to her.  The heat had all of the kids indoors that day.  I drove back to the mom sitting outside.  Got out of the car and then realized that she didn’t look too happy.  As I got closer to her, she recognized me.  She gave me the biggest hug! I told her what I was doing and she said that everyone would be thrilled as they truly needed help this year.

She also told me that she was just sitting on her porch wondering and praying about what she was going to do due to an emergency situation that had just come up.  She had no food and nothing for her daughters very first day of school.  We talked for a little bit.  I told her that she had some hard choices ahead of her but “for right this moment” let’s go hand out school supplies.  So we left and spent the next 3 hours individually handing all of the bags full of supplies.  I decided to let her hand out the majority of them.

People hugged her, thanked her and the kids were super excited! They laughed and shrieked with delight.  I got several hugs as well.

 

Slide3

 

May I remind you – when your world is falling apart, do something for someone else.  It will help!

In the car we laughed and giggled with delight.  At one point she said “Wow, you get to do this every day” and I laughed and said “Yes, I do.  Still not as much as I’d love to, but yes.”  We discussed my “day job” and the fact that I volunteer for Spreading Joy just like everyone else does.  It’s an honor to do this.

YOU – yes, Y O U can do the same! Spreading JOY daily is fun!

Knowing the situation at hand and the tough decisions that are going to be made, I took this young mom shopping for groceries.  I let her out, allowed her to shop and I went to a neighboring store for school uniforms for her daughter.  4 Shirts, princess underwear, shorts, pants later, she had several outfits for her first week of school.  I returned to the grocery store and she had filled her buggy. I looked and there wasn’t “anything fun” there.  I couldn’t let that happen.  So we went down the cracker/cookie isle and I asked about the favorites.  We tossed in a few more things and then checked out.

I helped her take her groceries in. We talked for a little more and then I prayed with her. Trusting the situation to the Lord, asking for wisdom, strength and courage to step out.

Had I left that morning as planned, I would not have seen her sitting out on the steps.  I would have missed the opportunity to really bless this family.  While I had no idea, God knew.  I’m just thankful to be a vessel for His service!

Thank you for being a huge part of this journey this family is on! Thank you for handing out hope with us again this year! Thank you for caring for others and for doing what you can to help.

 

back to school items in bag 2014

 

Thank you for your donations and prayers to make this possible.

Thank you for Spreading Joy with us and for doing so daily!

YOU Matter, YOU are Spreading JOY!

 

Here is a link to some of the other major events we’ve been part of over the years.

Here is a link to our some of our accomplishments.  No way could we list them all as we truly do strive to make a difference daily for someone.

What’s next you ask?  Well….Christmas, of course!  Would you start giving now?  Will you start planning now?  Will you be part of Christmas JOY this year? Here is a look at last year’s Christmas Update. 

Thank you in advance for your love, prayers and support. 

 

 

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Homework is a Cinch with these Apps

Apps to help with Homework Organization, ReferenceBack to school and tight schedules are upon us again!  Getting back into the swing of things can be challenging after a long wonderful summer of great fun.  Thanks to technology and some awesome apps, organizing homework, planning and even having wonderful reference tools can be as quick as a tap of the finger!

Don’t you just love technology?

Here are some awesome apps you can check out:

Homework – 

1. HomeWork app to keep track of your homework and Timetable.
2. The app has five(5) main screens:
– Main Menu
– List with all homework assignments, sorted on date, with counters for the amount of homework not “done” yet.
– List with all Exams, sorted on date,
– Timetable for the current day
– Timetable for the current week
3. You can define your own subjects/lessons.
You can define the start and end times of the lessons.
Up to 20 lessons per day.*click the link above to download & read more

 

My Homework – Student Planner -

What makes myHomework the best student planner for school or university?

* Beauty, Simplicity, and Reliability – myHomework has a modern design and simple interface making it easy for anyone to use. Our apps fill their role as a planner without network connectivity.

* Amazing Anywhere – With highly rated apps for your phone, tablet and a wonderful website, it’s the most complete on the go planner experience anywhere.

* Price – It is FREE and an ads-free experience is just $4.99/year across all of the apps and website.

*click the link above to download & read more

 

Top FREE Educational Android Apps – 

From music, drawing, spelling to algebra and every SINGLE thing in between, this link provides you with all of the FREE top Educational Apps that Android provides! Happy Browsing!

 

Top FREE Reference Android Apps – 

This selection includes dictionaries, sky maps, encyclopedias, thesaurus and many many other FREE Reference Apps!

 

 Getting these apps is easy and wonderful when you are using a tablet like Verizon’s Ellipsis 7! 

 

Everyone loves the ease and convenience of a tablet but many are under the assumption that they are very expensive or that the more affordable ones are very low quality.  That is simply not the case.

Verizon has a very affordable yet high quality tablet called the Ellipsis 7. Right out of the box, you’ll love the sleek, slim and extremely portable design.  It’s sports an awesome HD Screen and is pretty smart. Powered by Android Jelly Bean, with features such as voice search and Google Now it learns how you use the tablet.  It’s even able to provide meeting and event alerts to keep you organized and on top of your schedule.

verizon ellipsis 7verizon ellipsis

 

Typically the Ellipsis 7 tablet is just $49.99 with a 2 year agreement, but for a limited time it is FREE from Verizon with a 2 year agreement.  This makes is affordable for anyone and everyone.

Want your parents to be connected to their grandchildren but don’t want to invest in a laptop?  This would be simple for them to learn and with it’s camera will allow everyone to share photos back and forth.

Needing an inexpensive but dependable tablet for your school aged child? This would be a perfect fit.  With all of the amazing apps out there, home organization as well as some fun learning apps will be a snap for them.

Check out the Ellipsis 7 Tablet by my friends at Verizon here

My friends at Verizon gifted me with this awesome tablet in exchange for an honest review.  I’m not required to give a positive review and all thoughts are my own. Each Friday our #VZWBuzz team hosts an informative chat on Twitter with awesome prizes.  You can RSVP and get more info here.

I’m thankful to be able to DONATE this tablet to a Youth Group that is near and dear to my heart. It will be used as a giveaway to bring great joy to the person that wins it. I just love Spreading Joy to others….don’t you?

 

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Easy Wooden Frames

Pinterest – Love that place. Let me say right off, if I’m not following your boards, holler at me.  The more people you follow there, the more you’ll see and learn about. (Seriously, leave your link below.)

Instead of just “pinning” and never actually doing, I’ve been working putting my Pinterest account to work.

The Mr. and I worked on this project together! Was great fun!

Wooden Frames

Here is my Pinspiration: 

(I’ll wait a moment while you check it out)

 

Here is what I came up with:

 

Handmade Wooden Frames

 

 

We did exactly what she said, with the exception of screwing in all the bases to the backs.  We did a few, but ended up just using the wood glue and it is holding just fine.

What you’ll need:

Purchased (1) 1 x 12 x 4 at Lowe’s and had them cut it every 8 inches.

Purchased (1) 1 x 3 x 6  at Lowe’s and had them cut it every 7 inches. The wood was literally a buck and change. Very inexpensive.

You’ll also need Burlap ribbon, Twine, Metal clips, super glue gel, Stain, brush and good wood glue (which you may have all of these laying around.)

Step 1 – We glued the smaller piece at the bottom back in the center.  Sanded down the sides for a smoother edge and stained them.

 

back of frame with logo

 

Step 2 – Once they Dried, The Mr. drilled 2 holes in the top for the bow, but if you use some super glue or strong glue you can possible avoid the drill all together.  But since this project was for us both to work on it worked out perfectly.

 

frames

 

Step 3 – I made cheater bows by making cutting my wired burlap ribbon into 14” long, folded both sides to the center and secured with hot glue from the glue gun. I squished it in the middle and glued that too.  I then cut another piece of burlap and put it around the middle to help it look happier. The twin goes in the back through the bow before you glue the middle on, so that you can secure it to the frame.  Or if you want, you can simply hot glue it to the frame or use super glue gel.

Step 4 – Use the super glue gel to secure your clip and you are finished.

 

frame finished 1

 

 

My bows suck, but yours may not.  I will likely purchase a few burlap bows when I give these as gifts or have some really crafty person in my world make a few for me.  If you make these, you’ll have to show them to me! or if you can help me with my bow making issues, please share your tips with me!

Again, at about $4 a frame, very inexpensive and they look really good.

You can use this frame to print encouraging verses, quote and other great inspirational sayings.  I have pinned many here that you can choose to print out.

I believe this is a PinWin but feel free to let me know your thoughts.

 

To see all of my Fun Foods, Weekend To Do’s and more, follow me over on Pinterest

 

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10 Basic Social Media Tips

10 Basic Social Media Tips

 

10 Basic Social Media Tips:

  1. When leaving a comment on a blog, make sure you leave your @twitter name so if the owner wants to reach out to you, they can easily do so.  This will also help to grow your account with people that are willing to interact with you.
  2. Find a #hashtag that works with your brand and use it.
  3. View Social Media as building relationships and be courteous.  Don’t use it to air out dirty laundry or attack others.  There are some great friendships that can be formed when you use Social Media properly.
  4. Many people focus on the numbers – focus on engagement.  You don’t have to follow everyone back, but engage (as much as possible) those that ReTweet and converse with you.
  5. Platforms: Use what you love. If you don’t love it, don’t use it & don’t worry over it.  It’s just that easy.  Don’t over complicate things.  What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa.
  6. Everyone has their own opinions about “when” you should tweet/post – Post when it’s convenient for you.
  7. To Automate or Not – – This reminds me of the “mommy wars” – do what works for you. Simple isn’t it?  Don’t get caught up in what is right or wrong, or feeling bad because you do automate.  As long as you try to always reply with a thank you and remember to “engage” your community, automation isn’t a bad thing.
  8. Just because someone claims to be an expert, they may not be. Do your homework and check out their experience.  If they tell you they can help you have 10,000 twitter followers and they only have 937, then you know they have no clue what they are doing.
  9. Find your voice on Social Media and ENJOY it! When it becomes stressful or a headache, consider stepping back and taking a break for a bit.
  10. Have FUN!

 

There are a bazillion, million-trillion Social Media tips out there, but if you follow these 10 basic principles, you’ll have a better handle on Social Media than most.

Now…your chance to sound off:

What tips would you add?

Do you have a published article about this? PLEASE leave it in the comments below and encourage everyone who reads this post.

 

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Organization and Technology

 

using technology to keep on trackMany people make resolutions each year and those same people sometimes find themselves wondering where the time went and how in the world they missed their goals.

It could be a goal of getting fit, getting organized, spending more time with the family or even being kind to themselves.

Whatever goal you’ve set, have you considered the technology you have right in the palm of your hand to help you reach and maintain those goals?

Let’s look at a few:

Getting Healthy:  

  • Daily Ab Workout (free) – Just what it says
  • MapMyRun GPS Running (free) – A tracking app that keeps up with your distance, pace and calories consumed/burned
  • Nike Training Club (free) – This app has over 100 featured drills that will help build your strength as well as endurance. You can also Track your progress and workout history.
  • Nike+ Running (free) – This app helps you to map your trail as well as distance, time and pace to record your progress.
  • My Net Diary (free) – Has a barcode scanner which allows you to track calories by scanning items.  You can record your exercises and it has various exercises listed for you.
  • Lose It (free) – Lose it helps you track your calories by scanning the barcodes of items.
  • My Fitness Pal (free) – Has a huge database of food to easily track your calories. With the bar code scanner you can easily track your calories.  You can diet with friends and encourage each other.  The report features are nice so that you can see everything in a glance.

 

 

Getting Organized:

  • Evernote – (free) from jotting down notes, blog ideas etc, you can organize as well as retrieve most things with this handy app.  It will sync with all of your devices.
  • CardMunch – (free) this is a business card reader that will scan and convert your business cards into address book contacts.
  • DropBox – (free) share documents, video files – etc. , keep necessary documents handy for instant access.
  • Instapaper – (3.99) When you want to save web content to read later, use this handy app to save them into one area to read later.

 

Miscellaneous Apps:

  • Life360 (free) – Very cool app that keeps families and close friends connected by being able to see where everyone is on a private map. Group and one on one messaging, emergency button and gps tracking.
  • My Verizon Mobile – Instant account access from phone or tablet.  You can easily update your account, monitor your usage and messages as well as pay your bills and more.
  • Lettrs – Sending a paper letter through snail mail & using technology to do so is amazingly simple. This free app lets you compose and send or you can post it as an open letter for everyone.  It’s handy, easy and fun

Family Game Apps:

Here is a link to some of the other apps that I adore

What are your favorite apps for helping you reach your goals?

Is there one that isn’t listed here that you just can’t live without?

Do you use technology to help meet goals and stay on track?

Share your thoughts and app suggestions in the comment section below and thank you for Spreading Joy to others who may not know about the apps that you love.

 

I’m part of the VZWBuzz Lifestyle Blogger Team.  For more helpful tips, hints and helps, please check out the weekly #VZWBuzz Twitter chat each Friday at 3pm EST as well as the Verizon Insider.  Good stuff! 

 

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

learned from walter

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

After a few long weeks of chaos, busyness and not enough time with the Mr, we decided to have a date “day.”

This consisted of using some gift cards, lunch, movie, more shopping, coffee, dinner and a trip to the bookstore.  Side note: No date is complete without a trip to the book store.

Not knowing what was playing, I briefly viewed the comments about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and thought it looked like a good movie, and besides, who doesn’t like a little day dreaming? Ok – another side note – that small statement just cause a brief moment of song “I like dreaming….dreaming can make you mine…”  (Does anyone else have that issue where random words and phrases will just cause them to break out in song? Surely I can’t be the only one.)

ANYWAY…..

Without ever seeing previews or anything about the movie, we start out on our date.  Movie time rolls around and Ben Stiller – I must tell you young man, I was completely impressed.  Not to many movies resonate with me like this one did….but then again, you might be surprised to know that I’m a horror flick chick, so we are ALL thankful that horror, shoot-‘em up movies DON’T resonate with me….mostly….usually.

Again… ANYWAY…. (sorry…sorry back on track)

This is an awesome movie that simply encourages you to LIVE.

Many people have the bucket lists, but what are you doing to work on it? Are you saving some for that big trip? Are you exploring some states around you so that you can enjoy adventures in all 50 of the United States?  What are you doing to reach those goals?

Here are 10 things that I took from the movie:

  • Live.  Simple hmm? Do something that you love doing today.
  • Love.  Gosh – simple too? Let those that you love know it!
  • Explore – You don’t have to travel to Greenland or Iceland like Walter did, unless you want to – but explore! Every one of us have “historical” areas near us – Go…explore…have fun!
  • See.  Seriously – do we really see the beauty that is right around us?  Walter was completely surprised by the photo on the negative.  Open your Eyes!
  • Think of Others – Yep, that was there too! Walter brought back a skateboard for a friend from his journey.  Talk about Spreading Joy! He was thinking of others while he was on the mission to find the negative
  • Inspire. You never know who you will inspire.  Walter would have never been able to get into the helicopter with a drunken pilot if it weren’t for some kind words. A simple thank you inspired me to give a name to what I love doing – Spreading Joy.  Inspire Others!
  • About Courage. Courage comes when you need it, if you just take the first step.  Step out. go ahead… you’ll be just fine.
  • About Fear. If you think you are the only one that battles this beast – you’d be dead wrong.  We are all fearful. Be Bold!
  • About Assumptions. Don’t assume.  What you think you know or just saw, might not be what the actual truth of the situation is. Don’t assume.
  • About The Moment. Sometimes we need to just “enjoy” the moment. Don’t capture it with a photo, don’t record it – just ENJOY it.

 

Those were just a few things.  You may have seen different things and if you did, I hope you’ll share. Go see the movie or rent it when it comes out.

 

Quote:

“Beautiful things don’t seek attention”

(My memory is horrible, I need to watch it again and add some of my favorite quotes to this page. Will likely do that – what were yours?)

 

 

Disclaimer: this is in NO way a Movie review.  Ben Stiller didn’t ask that I do this, and I haven’t received any kind of compensation for this article on his movie.  This is just a summary of a movie I saw with the Mr. on a random date and the things that I took from the movie.  You are free to leave your comments about the movie – good or bad, just keep it nice.  Everyone sees things differently.  I’d like to see how YOU see things.  Did I miss something?

What did you see? What was your favorite quote/quotes?

JOYn the conversation.  Do you have an actual review to this movie? You can feel free to leave the link in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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Tragedy turned to Triumph

So Shines a Good deed in a weary world

 

You work hard to make ends meet.

You have little children that depend solely on you.

You can’t do much for them, but you decide to go and enjoy an inexpensive but fun meal at a local burger place.  You load the kids up in the double stroller and you walk there, singing and enjoying the time together.

You order your meal, get the kids situated and simply enjoy this time together….right?

Amazing how quickly circumstances can steal the joy of a fun meal right out from underneath you.

This is a true story.  The mom came out after her meal to find that her stroller had been stolen.

It wasn’t a BMW type stroller that was valued at $500.00 but it WAS hers and it was in excellent condition.

There isn’t extra funding to simply go right out and purchase another one.  There isn’t even a car for “quick” transportation to go and pick one up; because that is the reason she was on foot to begin with.

Can you imagine her shock when she, with two young children in tow.  One probably on her hip, the other, holding her hand and her stroller is gone?

Can you imagine the tears of frustration stinging her cheek? Can you imagine the disbelief running through her heart?

 

That’s where YOU come in.  YES…you. 

Every day, ordinary Spreading Joy Heroes! 

I find out about this, I take a few days and tell everyone I know and with the help of social media, and a few friendly phone calls – funds for a new stroller have been raised!

See what you did? Well, if that wasn’t blessing enough, there was extra given.  After speaking with the kind young mom, I found out that the kids birthdays were approaching.  PERFECT – I thought.

The extra can help to get them extra gifts for their birthday.

Tragedy turned into Triumph…

As you see, Spreading Joy is not just book bags filled with school supplies and Christmas Gifts to forgotten kids, but it’s much more than that.

It’s caring….every day! 

It’s spreading joy to others every day.  It’s taking the little that a LOT of us have, and doing something great with it.

Thank you for being a HUGE part of what we do!

Some give because they realize how great they are blessed.

Others give because they’ve “been there, done that” and KNOW how huge $10 gift is.

Others give because they want to show God’s love to those around them.

Regardless of the reason – THANK YOU!!  Thank you for being a huge part of Spreading Joy and impacting this young mom’s heart forever!  I’m sure her heart smiles each time she thinks about how people she didn’t even know came to her aid.

YOU are amazing at Spreading Joy!

Thank you for your financial gift and partnering with us to impact the hearts of others! Thank you for Spreading Joy across America with us! Thank you for your monthly support!

Have fun Spreading Joy!

Giving – Christmas JOY 2012

Christmas Joy

A time where we do what we can, where we are with what we have for some awesome ladies and their children.

We’ve hosted a Christmas Bash for the ladies and children of a local Women’s shelter for several years now and love it each time.  Watching these kids grow up has been a huge blessing to my heart and seeing them a few times a year reminds me that all the work, the emails, the asking for donations is completely worth it.

Putting together this event is hard work, but it’s always done with great love.  I’m thankful for the many many people that worked hard to make it possible and for the amazing financial donations that came through to bring Christmas to these kids.

We don’t get to select the toys, the food and drinks as we simply graciously receive what is given to us and turn right around, dress it up and pass it on with some fun and encouragement.  This year was no different!

There were over 170 total people in attendance this year.  The biggest we’ve ever had.

Everyone received a delicious meal from Olive Garden as well as the option of enjoying hot dogs, sloppy Joe’s, a wide variety of desserts, including gourmet cupcakes from Gigi’s of South Park and drinks.  There was no shortage of food and everyone ate to their heart’s content.

We split the parents and children so that the shopping could begin.  The excitement was high and soon the wrapping, laughter and fun would continue!

The kids shopped for 30 different candies! They were allowed to go through the shop twice and even received “extra” of some other candies! Their bags were HUGE when they finished!  They heard the Christmas Story, about how Jesus came as a baby; the shepherds visited and worshiped Him.  I love being able to share this with them as children can understand but also so that they can see that no matter what, children CAN make a difference and regardless of what kind of job you have, you matter.  The shepherds were the lowliest but on that night; they were the first to see the miracle of Christmas.

We then treated the children to a board breaking demonstration.  My son is a black belt in tae kwon do and connected the breaking with the fact that we have to trust God.  We don’t know what is going to happen when we “try” but trusting God will get us through.  The wood is pretty thick and he did three separate breaks.  1st break was with 1 piece of wood, 2nd was with 2 and then 3rd, using his elbow, was with 3 pieces of wood.  The kids were thrilled and many of them have a reminder of this because Todd signed each piece of wood for them putting his life’s verse on there for them to be reminded that God already KNOWS what we need.

WHILE all of this was going on, the ladies were hearing some encouragement of their own, shopping, wrapping, laughing and hearing a few stories of my youth from my cousin.

We talked about what we are becoming and how we can’t always see it or realize it but we ARE becoming so much more than we ever realized.

After all of this was done and the presents were wrapped and securely bagged away, we allowed the kids to walk through and pick out a toy or 2.  I love that they can have a small gift to take home with them.  None of the children complained about what kind of toys we had and so many were bubbling over with joy and happiness and were giddy with delight.  One little girl ran up to me and hugged me, exclaiming “Merry Christmas Ms. Marie!” I just hugged her and smile, fighting the tears, I whispered Merry Christmas!

Before allowing them to leave, I showed the mom’s the type of wood that was broken by banging it on the side of a pew.  They have requested a board breaking demonstration for THEM next year!  I hugged every single person as they were leaving, giving each child a pack of Reese’s Cups of their very own.  They are always soooo thrilled to get these and I will always be delighted to give it to them.

We were also able to give each family a bag of food to take home with them too, which was very much needed as well as a gift bag for the mom’s.

I can’t thank everyone enough for the help that was given, the financial contributions that are made by our Monthly Donors as well as those that faithfully give for each even that we host. 

Those that collected toys – you have no clue the impact on these hearts! Thank you!

Those that gave a financial gift – thank you for being a huge part of what we do and for continuing to support us!

Pastor Taylor and the members of New Grace – Thank you for helping, supporting us and for allowing us the use of your facility.  Your prayers and support are a huge blessing.

Thank you Olive Garden for the amazing meal that you provided for us and to the others that donated food for this event!

For those that gave their time and used their voice, thank you!

Thank you for Spreading Joy and for how you care!

Please watch the video below and see the smiles that you gave! I pray your heart is flooded with great joy knowing that you are the reason these kids are having a better Christmas then they normally would have. 

 

 

 

Thank you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Inexpensive yet Heartwarming Gifts

Christmas is a time for giving, loving and sharing. 

If you are like me, you have so many people you want to give to but finances just don’t allow you to give at the level your heart desires.  Instead of cutting people off of your list, adjust it a little bit with some inexpensive gifts that are easy to make and will warm the heart with fond memories.

Practical, easy….memorable…let’s get to it hmm?  (Read all the way to the bottom to see how easy it is to make gifts dipped in chocolate, I think you’ll be surprised.)

Talk about fun ways of spreading joy – this will be great fun!

Inexpensive, Easy yet Heartwarming Gifts:

 

  1.  Notes in a Jar – This gift can last an entire year long! A gorgeous jar from the dollar store and 365 notes, quotes, smiles and virtual hugs will warm hearts each day for an entire year!  You can easily doll up the jar with ribbon found in the dollar store as well.  Using notes like “Cause JOY”, “You Matter” to inspire them or use your favorite quotes.  If you know they love the Bible, mix it up with your favorite encouraging Bible Verses.
  2. Framed Photo – Give a gorgeous photo of the family that is already framed.  Take a beautiful sunset/sunrise photo and add a quote to it and frame that.  If they love the ocean or mountains, use a picture from there, add in a verse or quote and frame that.  Every time they look at it, joy will fill their heart with thoughts of you!
  3. Cup of Joy – Take a gorgeous coffee cup, tea cup and saucer and fill it full of sweet treats, coffee, coffee creamers etc for the coffee enthusiast in your world.  It will serve double duty as it holds some delicious treats as well as provides them a cup of warm thoughts throughout the year.
  4. Homemade Treats – Easier to do than you realize! Bake up a batch of brownies, chex mix or even dip some pretzels, marshmallows or Nutter Butter cookies in chocolate and drizzle with favorite sprinkles for a sweet gift.  You can get the little kids involved here and have a day of making memories as well as gifts.  The sky is the limit with these delicious gifts!
  5. Heartwarming, hand written letter – Sometimes there is just nothing better than a hand written letter of thanks, love and appreciation.  It can be read and re-read anytime!  You’d be surprised a just how heartwarming this gift truly can be.
  6. Photo Collage – We love photos and when you add 3 or 4 in one, the smiles just get bigger.  Make a photo collage of your times together, the parties or celebrations.  Do one with kids through the years, skipping a few years in between so they can see how they’ve grown.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this will surely be priceless!
  7. A box of Kisses – With the decorative boxes that are available these days, this will be super easy and bring lots of smiles each time a kiss is unwrapped.  Find a cute box, fill full of kisses and toss in a handwritten card and you are handing over a gift of love!  Mix it up by giving “hugs and kisses” together.
  8. Handmade Ornament – For the crafty types, this is quite an easy gift.  Me, not so much, but some of them, I feel like even I could do.  Take a clear round bulb, square or whatever you have, toss in some gifts you’ve cut off a garland, some shiny gift filler, or write on it with paint pens and poof, you’ve got an awesome gift that will be treasured each Christmas.
  9. Gifts in a Jar – Brownies, cookies, soups and spices can be amazing gifts when you toss all the dry ingredients in a jar, attach instructions and package in a fun, creative way.  Thousands of recipes will provide HUGE smiles as they are being prepared! If the jars are too expensive, use some Ziploc bags and then place in a Christmas Cello Bag that you get 10 in a pack from the dollar store.
  10. Personalized Cookie Plate – Using a Christmas plate from the dollar store and some markers, and a little baking in the oven, you can personalize this gift and then add some cookies you’ve prepared just for them.  The plate can also have a memory such as hand prints, feet prints etc.  When you combine a foot with 2 hands, you have an instant angel for Grandma and Grandpa.  Be sure to jot down what year and the age of the child.
  11. The Write Stuff – Give a nice journal and gel pens to someone.  On the first page tell them how thankful you are for them and that you hope they can fill this journal with warm thought s from their grateful heart.
  12. Board Games & Snacks – inspire a time of food and fun with friends with this gift. There is nothing like game night! Great laughter, lots of memories and some whining….if you are like me and lose most of the time.  PRICELESS!
  13. Note Cards and Stamps – A gift that will keep on giving! The stamps will cost the most, but you can get the cards for a buck at the dollar store.  Package it in a nice cello bag and know that your gift will encourage more than the one you gave it to.
  14. Fuzzy Socks & Lotion – What a nice treat for the often forgot about feet.  Use jergens or another non girly smelling lotion just in case someone is particular about smells, toss in some cute fuzzy socks and you’ll be warming hearts as well as feet.
  15. Cocoa – A cup, chocolate dipped spoon, chocolate dipped marshmallows, chocolate dipped peppermint stick and you’ve got a sweet treat!
  16. Strawberries and Chocolate – After you’ve dipped your strawberries, place them in some mini cupcake liners, put in a cute Christmas box and you’ve got a sweet treat that is sure to impress!
  17. Candies in a Jar – You’ve seen it in Cracker Barrel and other country stores, talk about easy to make. Purchase some fireballs, m&m’s, reese’s pieces or other old fashioned candy and toss it in a jar, add ribbon and card and instant goodness! Did I mention fireballs?
  18. Fudge a little bit – I’ve never made fudge but hear that it’s really easy.  Pour it into metal cookie cutters or muffin liners, wrap and you’ve got a perfect little gift that is sure to please.
  19. Personalized Survival Kit – By personalized I mean things that the recipient will adore, personalized. For instance, one year the kids got their dad a survival kit, it included his favorites & things he uses often: Honey bun, Starbucks cold coffee, BC Powder, cassette tapes from the thrift store, tie (also from the thrift store), note pad, pens, Sponge Bob stuff, gum, mints, and other things that I can no longer remember.  Point is – everyone has little things that they love and adore, why not package it up and make is special just for them.
  20. Video One True Media will take your pictures and make them into an amazing video for FREE.  What a gift!  Have fun gathering up all the memories and preparing them for a video that will easily import over to youtube.

There you have it! 20 easy, peasy ideas that are sure to warm the heart.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that people will love the fact you took the time to put something together like this for them.

Enjoy Christmas and other times of gift giving without the unnecessary guilt, even times of simple laughter together is a priceless gift that will last for a lifetime.

May I add in one more?  A Bonus:

The Spreading Joy Daily book, pair it with a mug, Reese’s Cups or just a note will be a gift that keeps on giving. You will be empowering others to make a difference without breaking the bank.  It’s filled with practical ideas for each day and you’ll find that as you make a difference, your heart will be flooded with great joy!  (PS, all proceeds goes right back into making a difference for others….double the joy.)

 

Ohh, I almost forgot –  Giving chocolate dipped items is really as easy as melt, dip, decorate and package.

 

Many of these white chocolate bars or milk chocolate bars have their own microwavable dish so the cleanup is easy.  For about 10 bucks, you can get 2 blocks of these melting candies, package of marshmallows, pretzel rods, graham crackers or my personal favorite Nutter Butter Cookies, dip, sprinkle with fun and package for gifting.

I’d love for you to post pictures of what you’ve done over at our fan page – http://facebook.com/spreadingjoycorp

Also if you have a link on easy gift ideas, please do feel free to share it below in the comment section so others can be inspired and encouraged!

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Thank you for your efforts in Spreading Joy and making a difference!