Meet Connie Ott, Main Blogger and Editor at MiscFinds4U.com

On December 19, 2013, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

One of the blogging communities I am a member of, Social Fabric, holds a virtual gift exchange at Christmas time.  The gifts we share with one another are blog posts to introduce each other to our readers.  This Christmas, I was lucky enough to draw Connie Ott’s name. I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet [...]

connie ott

photo credit : MiscFinds4U.com

One of the blogging communities I am a member of, Social Fabric, holds a virtual gift exchange at Christmas time.  The gifts we share with one another are blog posts to introduce each other to our readers.  This Christmas, I was lucky enough to draw Connie Ott’s name. I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet her, previously, and now, I’m really excited for you to get to know her, too!

Blogging is a “family business” for Connie and her blogger husband, Steve.  They both contribute to MiscFinds4U, along with several other talented bloggers, but Connie is the main contributor and editor for this wonderfully eclectic blog with something for everyone. She writes about everything from pets to freezer cooking, going green to her favorite techy gadgets, DIY remodeling and decor to entertainment, plus product reviews.  She also hosts giveaways at MiscFinds4U.  As a matter of fact, I happen to know you could have a chance at winning home delivery of what looks to be a decadently delicious, rich and creamy Eli’s Cheesecake if you pop over and enter her current giveaway!

If you follow Connie on Facebook and Twitter or read her blog for very long, you’ll soon discover that she knows how to have fun, has a compassionate heart and that you’d probably be pretty excited to have dinner at her house!  I really enjoyed the post she did about World Market’s Downton Abbey Tea Party.  Connie wasn’t content to just write about the event and do a promotional news post, she immersed herself in her work and had a blast.  Take a look at the tea party she threw for friends and family.  The table settings were perfectly beautiful.  Costumes, food, games and decor all helped to create the authentic “feel” of the event.  Looking at the pictures and reading the post made me wish I had been there!

downton abbey tea party

Tea party attendees — and Connie, as the maid. —  photo credit MiscFinds4U.com

Connie’s compassion rings out through posts for World Vision, Global Giving and others.  Not only can she crochet (I wish I could!), she uses that gift and talent to serve others.  This post is about where to get the free patterns to make the warm hats she crocheted and donated to a local homeless shelter.  Has she inspired you to do some crocheting for a cause, yourself?  Connie posted a list of organizations that accept crocheted items for their ministries and outreaches serving those in need.  Since Connie’s kindness and compassion extends to all creatures (2- and 4-legged), the list even includes a shelter for animals.

crocheted hat

Connie got her “crafty” on and made these warm crocheted hats to donate to a local homeless shelter.  –  photo credit MiscFinds4U.com

 

If you haven’t had your lunch, yet, let this stand as your formal warning!  You’re about to view some mouthwatering recipes, posted by Connie.  Proceed at your own risk. Connie is a vegetarian, but hubby, Steve?  Not so much.  She does some big-batch prep of HIS favorite dishes and freezes them in individual portions for easy serving at mealtime.   Some of my favorite recipes from Misc4U.com the freezer cooking (or OAMC) ones.   I was also drawn to some remakes on classics and of course, who can pass up a good dessert.  I’ve been pinning recipes like crazy, with plans to get them worked into our menus.  Take a look at some of these tasty offerings!

macaroni and cheese

I LOVE this picture! I can almost taste this delectable-looking pasta, just by looking at it. Click the picture to get Connie’s recipe. — photo credit MiscFinds4U.com

 

Raspberry Chocolate Buttercream Cake

Raspberry Chocolate Buttercream Cake — ummm… Yes, please!  – photo credit MiscFinds4U.com

 

Mexican Rice Casserole

This recipe sounds wonderful! Connie calls it Mexican Rice, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s a delicious casserole, laced with chicken, black olives, tomatoes and more.  I imagine it lends itself to all sorts of tasty variations. Plus, it’s a good recipe for the freezer! Love that idea! — photo credit: MiscFinds4U

 

Well, I’m going to “dig” around a little more at MiscFinds4U, but I wanted to make sure you knew Connie.  I hope I’ll run into you poking around over there and that you’ll enjoy Connie’s work as much as I have.   And if you get a minute, I hope you’ll stop by her Facebook page and give hear a shout out.  Tell her Merry Christmas and that Glenda from Busy-at-Home sent you.  Ooooh!  And ask her what’s for dinner!  :)

Merry Christmas, Connie!  I hope it’s blessing-filled!

 ..


Give Love and Hope: Change a Life with One Unique Gift – a World Vision Give Away

On November 27, 2012, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Hand-Carved Salad Servers? A goat and 2 chickens?  A dairy cow?  A flock of chickens?  Do the emotions of love and hope spring up in you, when you think of them? Maybe not yet, but I hope by the end of this post your view of farm animals and hand-crafted gifts will be a little [...]

Hand-Carved Salad Servers? A goat and 2 chickens?  A dairy cow?  A flock of chickens?  Do the emotions of love and hope spring up in you, when you think of them? Maybe not yet, but I hope by the end of this post your view of farm animals and hand-crafted gifts will be a little different; and that your idea of a “gift” is elevated to convey more than momentary happiness or enthusiasm in the recipient.  I hope that you will see how a gift that meets a critical need can send hope, love and a future to a place you’ve never even been, to someone you may never meet, but whose life can be changed by your actions and your unique gift choice.

catalog cover

World Vision's 2012 Christmas Catalog

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that works with children, families and communities in almost 100 different countries, around the world, to help put an end to poverty and injustice.  They provide emergency service to families and children who have been impacted by natural disasters or civil conflict.  They also work with entire communities to develop long-term solutions for poverty and advocate for justice for the poor, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or gender.  In short they bring hope and love into villages and homes where it may not have been experienced in some time.  World Vision is financially transparent and accountable about how the funds they receive are used.  I find that they work with great integrity to share the unconditional love of Christ through generosity and acts of service to those whose needs often go unseen by the rest of us.  I’m so excited to let you know about them and about their Christmas Gift Catalog!

gifts

There are pages and pages, just like this of marvelously practical, uniquely life-changing gifts for you to choose from!

One way we experience the joy of giving is to share a Christmas gift, through World Vision, with a family we will likely never meet, but with whom we can share a small part of all the blessings we’ve been given.  This year we’re so excited to be able to give the gift of a goat and two chickens!  The catalog describes the gift like this:

“Goats nourish hungry children and families with healthy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Chickens provide fresh eggs that are rich in protein and nutrients, and extra eggs and chicks can be sold to pay for basics.

A dairy goat can give up to 16 cups of milk a day. Goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk and is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients that growing children need. Goats are practical animals — flourishing in harsh climates while producing valuable manure to fertilize crops and vegetable gardens.

Chickens are equally easy to raise, and will naturally multiply to impact generations of children. Each family that receives chickens is asked to give back hatched chicks to help another family in need. Chicks require little money, space, or food to thrive and grow — making them an ideal business venture for a single mom or vulnerable family. “

 

There are dozens of possible livestock gifts, but you can also provide a gift that helps drill wells to bring fresh water to a village or one that provides clothing, education, shelter or medicine.  The options are so plentiful and so worthwhile.  World Vision also provides some gorgeous gifts that you can receive when you donate to their Maximum Impact Fund.  Not only will your gift help others in need, but you can receive a beautiful handcrafted gift to share with someone else.

salad spoons

My family was so blessed to have received this beautiful set of hand-carved serving spoons in a handmade fabric pouch. The spoons were hand crafted in Kenya, from olive wood. Donations received when these gorgeous spoons are ordered are used to benefit orphans of the Kamba tribe in Kenya.

 

GIVEAWAY

World Vision is generously sponsoring a giveaway of a set of hand-carved serving spoons, like the ones pictured above.  To enter, simply visit the World Vision website and browse through the online gift catalog.  Leave a comment on this post, telling me which gift you would be most excited to give.  Use the Rafflecopter form, below, to register your entries.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a set of hand-carved serving spoons in order to review them and test them in my own kitchen.  A positive review was not required and no monetary compensation was received.  I was not compelled to make a donation as a part of this post.  It was something we were excited to do, as a family.  As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product and organization.

 

Gifts that Educate and Teach Compassion: Hearts4Hearts Girls Doll Review and Give Away

On October 17, 2012, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

Hearts4Hearts Girls is a charitable doll line and fashion collection from Playmates Toys.  They sell eight authentically dressed, and very life-like, dolls that represent eight different countries.  Each doll has her own “story” which highlights some of the challenges of girls in her own culture and how she is working to overcome them.  These dolls [...]

hearts4hearts

Hearts4Hearts Girls is a charitable doll line and fashion collection from Playmates Toys.  They sell eight authentically dressed, and very life-like, dolls that represent eight different countries.  Each doll has her own “story” which highlights some of the challenges of girls in her own culture and how she is working to overcome them.  These dolls are absolutely beautiful, well-made and the girls in our house have fallen in love with them!  When other little girls are here to play and the dolls are pulled out, the oooohs and aaaaahs begin, even before their outstretched hands have touched them.  I am so impressed with the attention to detail in the outfits.  I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a more well-done line of dolls and we’ll be adding to our personal collection for Christmas.

dolls 1

They're so beautiful! I can't even pick a favorite because each is so special.

 

dolls 2

The attention to detail, whether it's jewelry or embroidery on the clothing, is extraordinary.

 

dolls 3

A gift that is fun, made even better by being a gift that teaches compassion and giving, as well as providing a geography and social studies education opportunity.

 

worldvision

Besides just being beautiful and high-quality, the dolls serve a purpose, above and beyond just playing. For each of these reasonably priced dolls that is sold, Playmates Toys makes a donation to their partner, World Vision, to help children’s causes around the world. They’re priced at only around $27 or $28 dollars, depending on where you shop, and that’s an unbelievable deal when compared to the popular (over $100 each) book series brand of dolls.  I also have a $5 off coupon code for you, that is good for the rest of October!   Enter CODE H4HAUG12 in the promo code box, when you place your order.  (I placed my own order with it and received $5 off each doll I ordered!)  

h4h and lydia

Our four-year-old granddaughter becoming best friends with Lilian!

World Vision is a 60-year-old humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision assists roughly 100 million people in nearly 100 countries throughout all of the regions represented by Hearts for Hearts Girls — Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Americas. The organization provides emergency relief, humanitarian aid, food, clean water, HIV and AIDS prevention education, child sponsorship, and assists in the development of new businesses and communities through their microfinance program.  I’m incredibly excited to be able to give a gift that can help in these worthwhile causes!  Your birthday or Christmas gifts can do the same!  How cool is that?!!!

h4h dolls and big girls

Our nearly eleven-year-old daughter and her friends have been enamored with these beautiful dolls and their stories, too.

 

corbynne and rissa

They were in awe of the beautiful clothes and the cultural details painstakingly applied to each doll.

I’m also enthusiastic about the educational potential of these strikingly beautiful dolls. Each comes with her own story about the country she represents, and as a homeschooling mom, the potential for use in geography studies is apparent.  How much more motivating to learn about the customs, climate, occupations, schools and recipes of the country your doll is from, than to memorize dull, rote facts from a textbook.  It would be easy to build a unit study around the dolls and really make the country “come alive” through hands-on experiences your child will always remember.  Hearts4Hearts Dolls are a great “jumping off point” and visual aid for these studies and having all eight would be a positive investment for any educator.

nahji and katie

Our six-year-old granddaughter was very taken with Nahji and spent hours playing with her.

I knew my granddaughters, ages 4 and 6, would love these dolls; but I did not anticipate the reaction of my nearly eleven-year-old and her friends.  These older girls, who have really moved past the playing with dolls stage, have been enthralled with the Hearts4Hearts girls.  I think the realistic, life-like look of the dolls, the age of girl they portray and their deeply personal stories have been the impetus to thrust them back into the world of dolls.  And as I mentioned, this is a great bonus for me, as a homeschooling mom, because it’s opened the door to some fun geographical studies.

I am so excited to be sponsoring a Hearts4Hearts Girls Doll giveaway to celebrate Busy-at-Home’s 3rd birthday!  Go check out the website, read about the “girls” and in a comment below, tell me which doll you would choose if you win.  Use the Rafflecopter form to register your entries.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

I received Hearts4Hearts dolls to test in my own home and  to gather data for this review.  No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required.  As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product.

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To Highly Resolve

On January 11, 2010, by Glenda Embree- BusyAtHome

I’m talking about something much more powerful than a New Year’s Resolution.  I’m talking about the kind of resolve that doesn’t fade away after the middle of January.  I don’t have any. In my own power and on my own steam, I can’t accomplish anything worthwhile for very long.  The power of Christ in a [...]

Everlasting Arms by Larry Dyke

I’m talking about something much more powerful than a New Year’s Resolution.  I’m talking about the kind of resolve that doesn’t fade away after the middle of January.  I don’t have any.

In my own power and on my own steam, I can’t accomplish anything worthwhile for very long.  The power of Christ in a human life is an awesome force and it occurs to me that all those failed New Year’s resolutions have more to do with not having Him in the planning and implementation, than not having a good resolution.  And, while there will inevitably be “human failure”, to highly resolve means that I don’t have to count on my own power to “make it right” and start again.   “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh,  And strength  to your bones.”  — Proverbs 3:5-8

The Good Shepherd by Larry Dyke

Now, to what I resolve, through the grace of God and no power of my own.  I resolve to see the person, before I see the perceived offense — to consider what their circumstance might be, before I let them know how I perceive that they have messed up.  Lord, when I get chicken nuggets instead of a cheeseburger, give me the calm spirit and words to correct the situation, not belittle the person.  When the order that was supposed to arrive by Christmas, guaranteed, shows up on January 4th instead, remind me that the gift is still special and realistically, no one was  harmed by the wait.  When my order is slow getting to the table, or not exactly as I have ordered it, Lord, I pray that you will cause me to pause for one moment and become acutely aware of the “mere human” before me.  Help me to remember the mercy and grace I hope to receive when I have been “only human”.

The Fisherman by Larry Dyke

I have recently been made aware that it is impossible to know the circumstance that may have led to the minor infraction of another person — the one I have chosen to become so annoyed at and about.  There are a myriad of examples.  Our recent blizzards and snowstorms have rendered many people housebound and their positions at work unfilled.  The duties of a six-person office have often been juggled by three or four people.  Most people won’t see or ever know about the hardship of those dedicated workers, but will focus instead on the inconvenience of the extra time their appointment is taking.

Would you be as upset about a mishandled restaurant order if you knew that your waiter had suffered the loss of a child, recently; or the only car he depended on to get to work and support his family had been totaled in a collision that morning?  How can you know what might be pressing so hard on his heart, that even though he is trying his best, he can’t focus on your order?  And if we did know, wouldn’t you or I respond with compassion and patience?  Unless we are actually foolish enough to believe that a waiter/ service technician/ office manager/ spouse/ child, etc., set out to intentionally target us for irritation, we will move into 2010 with new eyes.  Like the song, Lord, “Give me your eyes for just one second.  Give me your eyes so I can see, Everything that I keep missing.  Give me your love for humanity.  Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, Ones that are far beyond my reach.  Give me your heart for the ones forgotten.  Give me your eyes so I can see.”

Carolina Spring by Larry Dyke

There are multitudes of people who will be willing to berate, belittle, and humiliate those around them.  As Christians, it is critically important that we allow Christ to lead us to do the opposite of what our human nature beckons us to.  More important even than the positive effect we may have on someone who is hurting, is the picture we paint of the One we represent.  Many in this world will only know Christ and Christians by the way we portray them with our words and actions.  Has the world been seeing Christ, lately, when they are seeing you and me?  Lord, please lead me to let my words and actions shine a light on You and Your love and Your mercy.  Let them represent the truth about You and You living in me.  Please give me a soft and compassionate heart.  Let me pause long enough to see a person, someone You created and love, with circumstances I can’t begin to understand.  When I am in a hurry or in a tizzy, wanting my “pound of flesh”, please stop me in my tracks and extend your mercy and grace to the person I am so tempted not to see.

“1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” – Proverbs 15:1-4

“23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” — Proverbs 16:23 & 24

Lord, make my words like honeycomb.  Let them heal the soul and bring health to the bones.  Please put a soft answer in my heart and on my tongue, so those I meet will see You and Your love when they hear me speak.  In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.

(The images used in this blog are original paintings by Christian artist, Larry Dyke.  You can see these and many others at his website.  I find his paintings not only beautiful, but inspirational.)

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