July 2014 - Rachel Teodoro

My word for my Uganda trip is Excess

At the beginning of the year, I saw a lot of bloggers coming up with words for the year.
The purpose of choosing a word was to announce to the blogging world and their readers what they would spend the year focusing on.
My Pretty Pennies chose courage

I loved the word gaudeamus {let us rejoice}

In preparation for my vision trip to Uganda with a team of 12 from our church, our team leader asked us to come up with three goals for our trip.  A spiritual goal, a behavioral goal and a knowledge goal.

I spent some time praying for God to make those goals clear to me because on my own, I was coming up empty handed.  He gave me one word.  Excess.


By definition excess is an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted or desirable.

Pretty much sums up everything about America to me.
Pretty much sums up everything about my life.  

I have closets full of clothes and shoes.
Pantries and cupboards full of food.
I see a good deal and I can't just buy one, I have to buy multiple so that I don't miss out on a good deal.
Excess.

I have the same 24 hours in the day as everyone else and while I sometimes wonder where my time goes, I do still have plenty of excess time in my day that I fill with TV watching or piddling on the internet.
Excess.

I'm praying on this word.
I'm seeking out what God wants me to learn about it and how excess pertains to my life and what I can do to change my behavior.

I know that the people in Buliisa, Uganda will teach me a thing or two about excess.
I'm looking forward to it.
In the meantime, will you continue to keep me in your prayers as I travel and learn and listen?
I will update if I am able on my instagram page.
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I'm leaving for Uganda today

I don't know when it all started, but I know that I had a heart for Africa as far back as elementary school.

I remember sitting on a picnic blanket with my best friend eating cherry tomatoes fresh from our garden and having as much of a deep conversation about world issues as you can as a child who hasn't reached double digits yet, about starving children in Ethiopia.

Several years later in middle school youth group I remember listening to a missionary from Sierra Leone share her experience in pictures and being engrossed by her stories.

In high school I had filled out the paperwork for a mission trip to Africa with Youth With a Mission,
I even got my pastor recommendation letters, but after I spent hours writing and rewriting my donor letters,

I just couldn't manage to find the courage to send them out.


Perhaps I was worried that I wouldn't receive the funding for such an expensive trip.

Maybe it was fear of rejection.

Quite possibly it was just too overwhelming for me to think of a little Indiana girl like myself taking a trip alone, not knowing a single person and being so far out of my comfort zone.

It could have been a combination of all three.

Three years ago, as a church, we had the opportunity to come along side World Vision as they started a new area development project (ADP) in Buliisa, Uganda.

Pictures of children in need of sponsorship were plastered around the sanctuary.
Child sponsorship had been on my heart for quite some time.
My parents have sponsored children with World Vision for as long as I remember.
I grew up seeing pictures of our sponsored children on the fridge.
As we walked around looking into the eyes of children in need, reading their story, looking at their birth dates, all five of us settled on a little boy named Moses.

Moses was just a few months older than our youngest son Owen and he was from a family of five, just like our family.

Moses had the most adorable face and these big brown blood shot eyes.
It could be that he had been crying when the picture was taken,
{I'm told that getting their pictures taken for sponsorship can be quite scary}
or it could be because it was noted in his description that Moses was in unsatisfactory health.
Regardless, we chose Moses.

That day our small church joined in sponsoring over 100 children in this rural Uganda village.
Over the past three years we have sent letters to Moses.

We have stuffed envelopes with stickers and prayed for Moses and his family.
We have thought about him on his birthday and we have received letters from him with the most adorable scratch pencil drawings.

Around Christmastime last year, Moses sent our family a letter that was a fill in the blank questionnaire.

One of the blanks had the question "what would you like to ask your sponsored family?"
Moses question was loosely translated to say "why you no come visit me?"

Ugandan children walking for water

This week I will have the opportunity to meet Moses and his family.
I will get the chance to visit with him, see their community, spend time in their schools and churches
.
I am traveling with a group of 12 from our church.
This group consists of a family of three (mom, dad and 13 year old son), a dad and his 11 year old daughter, several husband and wife teams, our head pastor, a school principal and myself.
It's an eclectic group.
I know all of them but not really.

And if I can be honest, the group dynamics is one of the things that makes me the most nervous.
Would you pray for me as I head out on this trip?

The travel is long, the risk of illness is huge, I'm leaving my family behind and joining a group that I don't know all that well and I am jumping so far out of my comfort zone I hardly know what to do with myself!

I am more than ready to finally be able to take this trip.
Twenty years ago, it obviously wasn't in the plans,
but today, today it is!
Today I go.

I'm told that internet is spotty at best.
But if I have the opportunity, I will post any pictures and updates on my instagram page.
You can follow me at HolyCraft1
I will use the hashtag #ugandavisiontrip
I will covet your prayers and I am excited to share with you my experience in the field!

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Shops and things I love this summer and a giveaway!

With my kids at home, I've had far less time this summer to shop
and run from store to store.
I have been relying on on-line shopping because it's quick and easy,
and I have eaten up anything that is going to save me time or energy.
I rounded up a few of the companies and products I have tried and want to share them with you.

There are lots of flower delivery companies out there and I have used a few of them.
This summer though, I had the opportunity to try out Bouqs and was super impressed!
Not only were the flowers gorgeous, they lasted forEVER.

For someone who loves fresh flowers, it was nice to get something that stayed fresh for a really long time.  
It's always nice to send flowers just because.

I'm kind of a big fan of the Ranunculus in case you were wondering.


Know what gets me to love a company even more?
Witty advertising and down to earth people.
It's what drew me into to order from Bouqs in the first place.
Seriously, watch the video.
You won't be disappointed and you will love the company even more.

After spending six weeks working on my son's vintage airplane room,
I drooled over this light switch from Uncommon Goods.
I mean, seriously, how awesome is that?!
I finally got around to ordering it and it's even more awesome in person.

Never one to order just one thing from a company, I also put this cardboard Rhino head in my cart
and this wood bowl.
 I went back and forth on this wood bowl and ended up taking it out of my cart more than once.
I didn't buy it, but I am putting it on my wish list.


Uncommon Goods is such a fun store to shop in.  
I love the handmade selection of goods they offer, but most of all, I love the one of a kind gifts {great place to shop for birthday gifts for that hard to buy for person!} and personalized items that you can find.  You are sure to find something you have never seen before.

This summer all three kids went to summer camp.
It's inevitable that something will get lost or left behind,
but the odds are much better of getting your things back if you label your items.
I used labels from label-land.com and could not have been more satisfied!
It made packing a breeze, and instead of hand writing on every item the kids brought, I could just put a label on it.  It took two seconds and looked way better than my sharpie scrawl.
My favorites were the stick-n-wear labels.


Several months ago, I was asked to be a part of a panel called The Passion Panel for Onlineshoes.com.
I have been to several meetings at the Online Shoes headquarters in Seattle and I must say, it's a pretty awesome company.


I have ordered several pairs of shoes, received some swag
and have had the opportunity to try out their customer service {it's amazing}.


I have been dying my hair since I was in high school.
Mostly because my hair is super thin and flat and it needs a little damage.
I must confess though, as of late, it's because I have grey hair popping in.
I blame it on the children.

Anyways, I had a super coupon for this John Frieda color glaze hair gloss and have used it for the past four months and LOVE IT!
Every few weeks when I remember, I put this on in the shower and leave it on for three minutes.
It's helped my color last WAY longer!

Have you met Sophie yet?
Sophie is our three year old golden retriever and we love her lots and lots.
What I don't love is the amount that she sheds.
I get these fur balls that float around like tumbleweed on my floors, especially during the summer.
See all that fluff next to Soph?
That's her fur that I brushed out with the Miu deshedding tool.
The brush works by pulling out the undercoat of hair that sheds and leaves the topcoat healthy and shiny.
And it means less fur tumbleweeds on my floors.


Last month, my oldest son got his braces off.
How cute is he?!
He asked me if he could whiten his teeth after he got his braces off.


Braces tend to discolor your teeth a bit, so I obliged and got him Smile Brilliant teeth whitening system.




Share your favorite on-line company with me.
I just may feature them in a round up next month!
disclaimer: this post contains some affiliate links.  I may get a kickback or have received compensation for reviewing a company.  Don't worry, I wouldn't recommend anything I didn't love.  Promise.
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Garage Sale Finds Friday and my reason behind being a garage sale slacker

Welcome to another week of garage sale finds Friday,
where I share with you some of my favorite garage sale finds from the week.

Let me start off by saying that this summer has been so busy for me that I am off my garage sale game this year!  We went on vacation to Maui {I know, cry me a river!}, the kids have each individually gone to summer camp and camp pick up is, you guessed it, on Saturday mornings, and next week I leave for Africa.

Hitting garage sales just isn't happening as much as I would like with my schedule, so these posts are happening far less often than normal, but my summer is pretty much awesome, so deal, 'k?. K.

Up first is this metal vase {50 cents} of day lilies from my garden, but first purchased from a garage sale for $2 for the plant. I love buying plants at garage sales, especially once they start growing and blooming and sprouting off new plants that I can dig up and spread around my yard.  Yeah for garage sale plants!

I also picked up this cool jug for $1 and this mini screen door for $2.


Fun fact, my favorite color is red.
I loved this red lantern.
In fact, it's about the thirty third red lantern I have owned.
I paid $1 for it.


Check out this super rad, heavy as all get out, faux port hole frame.
I am not quite sure what I am going to do with the inside of it, but for $5,
I wanted to give it a chance.


Remember my vintage snow ski's from a few weeks back?
Check out their new friend, vintage radio flyer sled.
I see these wooden sleds at garage sales all the time, but I rarely want to pay what they are asking.
I snatched up this guy for $5.
He's going to look pretty awesome at Christmas with a wreath on it don't you think?


Never one to get tired of vintage books, I grabbed these four books for 50 cents each.
I'm sure one of them is a rare first edition copy worth millions.
Not to worry, in about five minutes it will be ripped up, folded, torn, glue gunned or mod podged into something totally unrecognizable.


And finally, my daughter is the collector or mirrors.
Sort of like the wicked step mother in Sleeping Beauty but not wicked and not a step mother.
So really, not like that at all.
Anyway, she wants to give this baby a coat of paint and for $3,
I say go for it!


Those were my finds.
If you have been missing my weekly garage sale finds Friday posts, 
just do a little search on the sidebar.
That should tide you over.

And because I need to live vicariously through all of you actually having the opportunity to go to garage sales, what did you find?
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Have a staycation with your kids (shhh, they might learn something too!)

We are deep into summer and I have three kids at home.
I'm hearing rumblings of "I'm bored" nearly every day.
Regardless of how many times I mention cleaning as an option, 
that just doesn't seem to snap the boredom out of them!
I'm doing my best to regulate screen time and appreciate the beautiful weather that we are having, but there are times when we all need to just zone out and relax on the couch together.
I love being able to incorporate some sneaky learning time in when I can too.
Not being from the great state of Washington, I didn't have the opportunity to learn much Washington State history as a kid.  My kids know a thing or two about Lewis and Clark, though I am sure to learn something myself watching this Lewis and Clark documentary with them.  It's always fun seeing places we have been and learn the history behind them.

I've had several friends road trip with their families to Yellowstone.  While we won't be making it this year, I would love to learn more about America's oldest and most visited park.


Having just returned from a family vacation to Maui where my kids snorkeled and played in the water, I'm sure my kids would love to watch The Blue Planet.


I've also been meaning to watch Blackfish.  
I hear it's a fascinating documentary.

I love to travel and have been laughing out loud as I watch An Idiot Abroad.

My sister in law says that she uses Netflix when she prepares to go on a trip with her two girls.
 Last year before they went to The Big Island, they watched several documentaries on Volcanoes of Hawaii.

Even if you don't have the opportunity to travel this summer, you can spend an afternoon traveling from the comfort of your own home.
I follow up our at home learning with a trip to the library where we stock up on books on the same subject. 

Do you have any tips to keep your kids learning throughout the summer?
What are your boredom busters?
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Painted chevron tote bag


I recently found this small vintage zippered bag for a quarter at a garage sale.
It was plain.
And boring.
And cheap.
The cheap part is what made me buy it!
I knew I could snaz it up a bit.


I had frog tape shape tape leftover from a project last year.
It worked perfectly!
Just lay out your shape tape,
and remove the adhesive backing pressing down to seal the edges.


I used paint I had on hand.
I am a big fan of navy right now.
Especially with the clean white.
I let the paint dry and  removed the tape.


Now I have a much funner tote bag to put in my purse to keep the things that like to hide from me.
You know, things like your chapstick and pens!

What things hide from you in your purse?
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5 simple steps to decorating a fabulous locker with Locker Lookz

If you have a tween or teen daughter, you will be their hero if you read these 5 simple steps to decorating a fabulous locker with the help of LLZ by Locker Lookz.

Last year, my daughter had a locker for the very first time.
She was so excited to decorate it and put her own mark on it.
We spent hours decorating her locker last year.
Mostly because someone in the locker above spilled a nasty beverage that left the whole locker sticky and smelling like...well, you don't want to know.

Seriously, this is her locker after it has been cleaned.
It was nasty.

At the end of the school year, Isabella had to remove all of her decorations even though she would get the same locker the next year.
It took her longer than she would like to admit to remove the adhesive paper she lined the walls of the locker with and take down all of her decorations.


This year we learned about LockerLookz.
In under 10 minutes, and in five easy steps, we were able to decorate my daughter's locker
and we didn't need a single pair of scissors!
  Not only is LockerLookz easy to install, it's also easy to remove.  
There is no adhesive to damage your locker surfaces, just super strong magnets that are included!

Ready to get started?

Step 1: Apply your wallpaper.
The decorations fit most standard size school lockers {12"x18"x36"}, 
so there was no cutting or measuring.
The super strong magnets come with the wall paper and hold the paper in place.


The wallpaper comes with perforated cut outs in just the right places.
This one at the back was in just the right spot for a hook.
Seriously, this stuff is too easy to use!
I remember having to get an exacto knife and cut and measure around this hook. 
It took forever!
This time we just popped out the panel where the hook was.
It took seconds!


Step 2: Put in your rug.
My daughter picked out this green rug so that it would be a fun pop of color contrasting with the blue paper.


Step 3: Set up your shelf.
I know I shouldn't be surprised at how nicely this shelf fit,
but holy cow, it was like I measured it and made it!
I don't know why lockers don't come with a shelf already built in.
It makes so much more sense that way.
I'm sure it was a man who designed lockers.


Step 4: Hang your chandelier.
Yep, a chandelier.
For your locker.
How awesome is that?!


It even has a motion sensor so it turns on and off when you open and close your locker.
It's hung with a magnet on top.
And that bad boy is so strong, it's not going anywhere!


Step 5: add your accessories.
How cute are those flowers???
 And the mix and match dry erase board and locker bin are pretty awesome too!


I think this locker is ready for the new school year!


Best part is, she loves it!
You can purchase LockerLookz at Michaels, AC Moore, Staples and Meijer


LockerLookz is hosting a fun design your own locker contest on Instagram.
Grand prize is a $250 Visa gift card for a back to school shopping spree.
Each week 1 winner will be chosen to receive their full locker design 



2. Go to LockerLookz.com and create your dream locker design using the design your own locker feature.
3.Post your locker design on Instagram and use the hashtag #LLgirlz and tag @LockerLookz

The contest ends on August 29.
You can find the official contest rules here.

Need some inspriation?
Follow LockerLookz on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram


Come see some of the other looks you can make with LockerLookz.

Disclosure: I was selected to review this product as a part of a Blueprint social campaign. All opinions are 100% my own. I wouldn't share something I didn't like.
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Maui with kids-my top picks for things to do on a budget!

I've had a few requests for me to recap our recent family trip to Maui.
We took all three of our kids {15, 12, and nearly 9} for 8 days on one of my favorite islands.
I'm no stranger to Maui.
This was my third visit in 18 months,
however, I don't usually bring the family with me!
I was excited to take them and show them around.
My favorite part of the island would have to be Wailea.
Probably because I know it the best.
When I was only 17, my parents took my brother and me to Hawaii and we spent three weeks hopping from island to island.  I remember loving Maui then! 
One of my favorite memories is when my brother {who was 14 at the time} and I wandered down from the beach that we were sitting at
{it's now home to the Four Seasons-though there was nothing there on our visit}
and stumbled on one of the most amazing resorts that I had ever seen.
We rode the water elevator, went down water slides and floated through the lazy river.
That is, until we got stopped for not having guest bracelets!
That resort was The Grand Wailea
and though the resort has grown a bit, it really hasn't changed too much in nearly 20 years.
Staying at The Grand Wailea was top priority for me, but the prices are crazy expensive!
We felt like one night was more than enough and really all the budget would allow.
And quite honestly, after all the fun we had in 24 hours, one night was plenty.
The kids will even tell you that.
A few tips if you are staying at The Grand:
1. Bring your own floaties and water toys. The resort charges a ridiculous amount and doesn't provide any floats, even for the lazy river, which for some reason is sort of shocking to me.
2. Ask the bell hop if any boogie boards have been left behind.
Sometimes they have and you are free to use them for your stay.
3. Have on hand lots of $1's.
I've stayed at a lot of upscale resorts and I expect to tip for service, though on this visit, I felt like the valet, bell hops and service staff lingered longer than they should have for a tip.
Long enough that my husband literally felt uncomfortable.
4. Use the free bikes for the most amazing bike ride through Wailea and Makena.
This has been one of my favorite things to do in Wailea, though a resort that caters to families doesn't offer bikes for kids, which is sort of unfortunate.
5. Be prepared for sticker shock!
Fruity drinks from the super fun swim up bar can run you around $22.
If you are staying in Wailea, don't miss out on walking the coastal nature trail.
It's a gorgeous walk along the beach and by the resorts.
I've seen some amazing things while walking this trail.
Some of my favorite were the huge stingrays playing by the rocks for hours.
They looked like sharks in the water.
Take a drive to the black sand beach {Naupaka beach} and play in the tide pools.
Spend some time at turtle town
Take some time to explore Keawala'i chruch built in 1832.
Drive through the lava fields to La Perouse Bay

There is some great snorkeling at Ahihi-Kinau reserve though the parking isn't great.
There is a super delicious Jawz fish taco truck almost always parked outside of Big Beach.
I recommend the fish tacos, but if you are visiting Maui with kids, I don't recommend swimming or using Big Beach.  It's fun to look at, but the waves break incredibly hard on the shore and people get hurt there nearly every day.

We always make it a habit to stop at Lapart's ice cream at the Shops at Wailea.
And you can't go to Hawaii with out getting shave ice.
I recommend Ululani's in Kihea.
The final week of our trip was spent at a condo in Ka'anapali with my parents.
In true frugal form, I found a large suitcase in the free box at a garage sale, and loaded it up with 50 pounds of food and not enough bottles of sunscreen
 {our family of five went through a bottle of sunscreen a day}.
We paid the $25 check bag fee, but left the bag at the resort for our return trip home.
The savings we got from packing food justified $25, but not $50 had we brought the bag there and back.
Some of the food I brought were bagels, english muffins, peanut butter, jelly, pizza sauce, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce,  cream cheese, crackers, block of cheese, shredded cheese, tortillas, and lots of snack foods like beef jerky, nuts, chips.
The ice packs I packed with the cheese worked great on our 6 hour flight to the island.
And while at the resort on the first night, our small hotel mini fridge held the cheese that we brought just fine.
I have stayed in Ka'anapali before and remembered a few things from my stay.
One thing was how much wetter this side of the island is than the south side.
There was rain nearly every day, but it was quick rain usually.
The longest it rained was a half an hour and it was still fairly warm.
I also remembered how much I loved Kapalua bay.
We spent at least four of our days at Kapalua and snorkeled with turtles every single time.
I liked that the bay was protected by two reefs on the ends forming a cove.
It was very calm for the kids.
There were shady spots, and lots of sand too.

We also tried Napili bay
and black rock beach
Napili bay is another coved bay like Kapalua perfect for first time snorkelers and kids.
When we snorkeled at black rock beach, we had to watch out for cliff jumpers and if was far too crowded for my liking, though we did see some pretty awesome fish and sea turtles.
It is fun to head to black rock beach just before sunset and watch the cliff dive ceremony.
I love the Kapalua coastal trail!
 It's an easy trail with amazing ocean views along the way.
You can start at Kapalua bay and end at the Ritz Carlton.
It's a great place to watch the sunset.
And weddings.
In a single night we saw four weddings!


You can also find a few great places off of the bay for cliff jumping.
Though jump at your own risk!
There are a lot of coral reefs and the swims to a place to get out of the water can be long.


When the evening cools, I would recommend going into Lahaina to shop around.
Visit the banayan tree
and make sure to grab a window seat at the Lahaina pizza company.
You can watch the surfers and boats at sunset.
You can also pick up your shave ice at Ululani's.
Since we had a condo, we didn't eat out much.
Though I would recommend trying Ono tacos.
We also picked up the most delicious fresh guacamole at The Farmer's Market.
We had a fairly low key vacation in Maui.
We didn't plan any excursions or activities and every day, we played it by ear.
I think one of the biggest mistakes you can make when traveling with your kids to Maui is over scheduling.
There are lots of activities you could do, but while you are busy doing those, you may be missing out on the amazing little things, like building a sand castle on the beach, or snorkeling with sea turtles.
And those activities don't cost you a dime!
Did I miss anything?
Would you add any tips for traveling to Maui?
I would love to hear them!
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