operation christmas child.

I've blogged about Operation Christmas Child before. I'm a huge fan.

And here's why - because packing a shoebox is easy AND fun. Its tangible, its not expensive, and its something that even kids can understand. And when they can help pick out gifts to fill a shoebox for a child their age, especially when those gifts include such basic things like soap and pencils, the giving to the poor becomes something direct and concrete.

Many years ago, I used to take my kid brother (he's 20 now) to the store and let him pick out gifts to fill a box for a child his age. If I lived closer to Jake, Ally, and Cameron, I'd do the same thing.

But my favorite OCC experiences are always with the Bridge Kids. Last year, they had so much fun filling shoeboxes:

We've been talking about them this year for several weeks now, and the kids have raising money to help with the cost of shipping boxes. One child donated his entire savings, and another little girl is always on the lookout for "money for the kids who don't get Christmas presents," (even going through her mom's purse!). They're stepping up, and I'm thinking of challenging the adults to try to out-give them!

Check out more stories about Operation Christmas Child here:

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christmas is coming.

I got so excited when I saw these knee socks in Target today - bring on the holidays!

Can you tell they have fur on the top?

(And please ignore my big fat calfs.)

quote canvas.

I love quotes, and lately have been trying to figure out ways to incorporate more words around my house. So when I saw the tutorial for this quote canvas, I knew I was going to have to steal the idea.

I chose a line from Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And here's the end result:

The concept behind making this is pretty straightforward, but be forewarned - its a long, somewhat tedious process.

I started by laying out the quote, in the font I wanted, in Microsoft Publisher (which I use for layout stuff all the time). The tutorial above mentioned having your final image printed on a large paper at a copy shop, which I seriously considered doing, then decided I was too cheap and printed it out on four separate pieces of paper instead. This meant I had to cut and fold and tape them all together, which was a pain. But it was also free.

Once it was ready, I laid the combined papers on top of my canvas, and taped the top it securely, and the bottom a bit more loosely. Then, I moved a piece of transfer paper around underneath the difference sections and just traced the outline of the letters with a pencil. This part takes a little while.

When I was done, I lifted the paper, only to discover that I had missed a couple words and letter details (like the circle inside an "o"). This is why I would recommend only detaching the bottom of the paper, and keeping the top securely attached, because I can only imagine how impossible it would have been to line everything up twice.

Then came the really tedious part. I started by tracing the letter using a black sharpie (because I don't trust that I have a steady hand with a paintbrush). Once that was done, I painted around the letters with a really small brush. Then I did it again, because the whole thing really needed two coats. It took several hours to do both coats, though that might be because I went really slowly to avoid mistakes.

I made a few mistakes anyway, but I just went back with some white paint to touch them up. This also helped me get rid of any accidentally pencil transfer marks in the whites of the letters.

I really love the end result, so I think I'd be willing to do this again, though I'm not going to walk around and offer to do it for just anybody. For a Christmas or birthday gift, maybe. Hmm....

For more DIY inspiration, visit A Soft Place To Land.


I added a couple new sections to the sidebar there at the right - a couple of projects I'm either working on currently, or want to be doing soon, and a few recipes that are next up on my list of things to try.

using what i have.

In the two and half weeks in between finding out I would be getting laid off, and accepting a job offer with CBN, I went on a complete spending freeze - not spending any money I didn't have to. I still wanted to make stuff and be creative, so I finally (after three years) started exploring all of the wood scraps in the loft above my garage.

Here's one of the first projects:

Can you tell what it is? Its kind of a long box (you can see it filled in the photo below). I saw something like this once before (I have no idea where) and have wanted one for the long time, but I never saw it for a price I was willing to pay. So I made one myself.

I cut down pieces of wood that I could using my miter saw and a borrowed jig saw, then worked with Victor in his workshop to cut everything else and assemble it together (much easier with a nail gun). The only money I spent was for the thin wood pieces on the bottom - we added them to keep the sides from bowing in, and provide more support for the bottom. All four sides and the main bottom piece were from my loft.

I love how versatile this is, and I have lots of plans for fun things to add. Soon, I'll exchange the summery candles for silver painted pumpkins.

Check out more great DIY projects at A Soft Place To Land and Reinvented!


Edit: This is the video from the service at my brother's church (Northland in Orlando, FL) where I first heard this song. The video behind the singer is absolutely amazing.