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I know, it has been a very long time since you have heard from me. Life has been crazy busy with school starting, driving my step-son to his bus every day, getting my husband ready to go hunting, fall activities and working on fall and Christmas projects. I had a very successful Ladies Only Fall Craft Day, where we made wood pumpkins and cinnamon stick ornaments and since then I have been working on my birch wood ornaments and gift tags! These two projects are very simple to recreate in your own home or you can purchase from me on Etsy by visiting this link, www.bethannerickson.etsy.com!

The Christmas ornaments and gift tags in the following tutorial are perfect for the rustic Christmas tree or rustic themed gift wrapping and will add an unique touch to your wrapping or decorating. They are also very affordable simple and to make.

Supplies:

  • Black Craft Paint or Chalkboard paint
  • Paint brush
  • Wood rounds or wooden gift tags
  • Twine, String or Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Chalk pen or white gel pen
  • Black Sharpie
  • Paper Bag
  • Drill & Drill Bit

Step One: Layout your wood rounds on a covered work surface. I use paper grocery sacks.

Step Two: Decide if you want to paint all of your wood rounds black or leave some of them natural. Paint a black circle that does not reach all the way to the edge on the ones you want to be black. Let dry completely.

Step Three: While you are letting these dry, you can draw or write on the unpainted wood rounds with your black sharpie. As you can see from the pictures, I drew an owl, snowflakes or holiday greetings. The possibilities are endless.

Step Four: When your black paint is dry, use your chalk pen or white gel pen to draw your snowflakes, holiday greetings or other art on top of the chalk paint. Let dry completely.

Step Five: If your wood rounds or wooden gift tags did not come with pre-drilled holes you need to choose which side is the top of your ornament and drill your hole there.

Step Six: Add your chosen twine, ribbon or string through the hole as the hanger and your project is complete!

See, wasn’t that so very easy! Just 6 very simple steps and your project’s ready to go. If you don’t feel comfortable drawing on your ornaments or gift tags you can always buy stickers or rub on transfers that will show up on the black paint or bare wood. You might need to go over the stickers with a coat of Mod Podge to make sure they stay affixed and last from year to year.

Please feel free to comment, ask questions or send me pictures of your completed projects! I would love to see them!

Again, if you don’t have the time to make your own, you can visit my Etsy store to purchase.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the fall weather! This time of year is the perfect time of year for craft projects!

Gifts that give back!

What has Christmas become in your home? Is it all about what you can get instead of give? What do your children think Christmas is all about? I have really been thinking a lot about this lately. I am not perfect in this area, so please don’t feel like I have got it all together. I mean I already have a list on my fridge of gifts that people can get me!

The truth is Christmas in not about getting, it’s about giving! So, what if the perfect gift could also give back to someone one in need? What if it could support a family in a third world country, save someone from sex trafficking, support a village in need, provide clean water, help a single mom or the family next door.

I am making it my goal this year to have my gifts help others. It may not be possible for each and every gift I give to do this, but I know it’s possible for some of them to help others.

I want Christmas to mean something more than just getting. I want it to be about serving, sacrificing, loving and caring about others. I want my gifts to say, I thought of you when I saw this and I wanted to support someone in need.

In the hopes that you will join me in this endeavor this year I have complied a list of places where yo can purchase gifts that give. I have included each organizations mission statement or description as found on their website. Please understand that I have just skimmed through their websites to see what their mission statements say. Please do your own research and make sure you fully support the organizations goals before purchasing.

Prodigal Pottery, www.etsy.com/shop/prodigalpottery

Prodigal Pottery started from the dream to create jobs for women fleeing homelessness and domestic abuse in a safe and therapeutic environment. Kings Home is home and safe haven to over 50 women who are seeking hope and restoration from pasts riddled with abuse and homelessness.

Mudlove Pottery, www.mudlove.com

Through our partnership with Water for Good, every product you purchase provides one week of clean water to someone in need. The Central African Republic is a country in desperate need of hope, love, and basic necessities. Access to safe, clean water has the power to transform communities and save lives.

Mercy Jewelry, www.etsy.com/shop/mercyjewelry

M.E.R.CY Jewelry is a ministry that exists to provide the women a life with dignity. Through this ministry, they hear about Christ's love and His healing

Threads worldwide, www.threadsworldwide.com

Creating life-changing work for women around the world through the fair trade of artisan jewelry.

Love Sees Collection, www.etsy.com/shop/loveseescollection

Love Sees Sterling Silver and Gold Vermeil Jewelry with Love Phrases! The Gift that Gives Back. 10% of proceeds donated to teen suicide prevention and awareness.

Bead for life, www.beadforlife.com

Creating sustainable opportunities for women to lift their families out of poverty by connecting people worldwide in a circle of exchange that enriches everyone.

Feathers & Grace, www.etsy.com/shop/feathersandgrace

We have a profound & beautiful purpose here at Feathers & Grace: To Celebrate, Encourage, Love, and Cherish every beautiful life! With every purchase, you are helping make a beautiful difference in the lives of children and families around the world!

Live Love Studio, www.etsy.com/shop/livelovestudio

We have a big passion to spread goodness to the world in a tangible way. With each purchase, you are providing ONE MEAL to a hungry tummy in East Tennessee Appalachia, through the efforts of Second Harvest Food Bank.

Purpose Jewelry, http://www.purposejewelry.org

Purpose jewelry is handcrafted by survivors of modern-day slavery. 100% of the proceeds benefit International Sanctuary, a non-profit that provides holistic care for young women rescued from sex trafficking.

Mercy INK, www.etsy.com/shop/mercyink

Mercy INK is happy to support the ministry of Restore Elikia, a non-profit in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

 Ten Thousand Village, www.tenthousandvilaages.com

Every purchase improves the lives of makers by supporting their craft and providing a fair, stable income.

Gifts With Humanity, www.giftswithhumanity.com

Gifts With Humanity is a brand of Global Crafts. Our mission is to offer income-generating opportunities to craftspeople in developing countries by following fair trade practices including paying in advance at least the market price for items, ensuring that craftspeople receive payment, and ensuring that the craftspeople work in fair working conditions. We work directly with artisans, craftspeople, and producer groups to achieve these goals and hopefully help improve the lives of some of the people with whom we share this planet.

Cross Culture Market, www.crossculturemarket.org

Cross Culture Market buys hand-made crafts from native artisans through Christian missionaries and humanitarian organizations. We sell these unique products in our store and online at www.crossculturemarket.org. You can find jewelry, home decor, purses, body products, holiday decorations, stationery, gourmet foods and other gifts made in every corner of the globe on our shelves!

serve, www.serrv.org

Serrv is a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

Earth Divas, www.earthdivas.com

Earth Divas, a fair trade company that is 100% focused on providing women in the developing world opportunities to earn a decent wage. We are unlike most businesses in that we exist not to make a profit. Our goal is to pay artisans as much as we can, and if we do show a profit, we give 100% of it to the artisans.

My own Etsy site, www.bethannerickson.etsy.com has a handful of hand beaded snowflake Christmas ornaments, three dollars from each ornament will go to Women of Purpose, Camano Island Chapter, who help bring life, hope and opportunity to women and children in developing countries. Currently this group supports a village in Southeast Asia. Through their financial support, the village of Thongkouang will be transformed into a thriving, self-sufficient community with healthy, safe, educated children. Women of Purpose also supports child protection work in Asia. Both of these programs help to prevent the human trafficking of women and children.

This list just scratches the surface. There are many more places you can purchase gifts that give. A simple google search will give you places to shop right at your fingertips. If you purchase from one of the organizations listed here, please mention you read about them on my blog! Happy Christmas shopping! "He is the reason for the season!"

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A Product Review

The art of making cold brew coffee is a simple task and very easy to accomplish at home. Especially if you have a cold brew coffee filter from CoffeeSock Co.! I received my cold brew coffee filter in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I have been trying it out ever since and my husband Michael has been enjoying the cold brew on his way to work in the mornings.

At first, I was unsure if I would like the cloth filter from CoffeeSock. In the past I have used cheesecloth to brew the coffee, which allowed for quite a bit of sediment to escape from the filter into the coffee and was a hassle to clean up in order to re-use the cheesecloth. I was worried I was going to have the same experience with this new cloth filter, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case at all! CoffeeSock's filter was very easy to clean up and as far as sediment goes, there was practically none in the finished product!

The art of making cold brew is a very simple process and easy to do at home. First I would recommend that you visit, www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeSockCo and purchase one of their cold brew coffee kits or if you already have a mason jar at home purchase one of their cold brew filters.

Next, purchase some whole bean coffee, regular or decaffeinated, I prefer dark roasts, and grind it at the store or at home to a coarse grind. Then place your coarse ground coffee in your CoffeeSock filter and wet the grounds so that they bloom. (CoffeeSock Co. also has these instructions on their packaging for you). Then, close the filter with the strip of fabric at the top by wrapping it around the top of the filter a few times.

At this point, place your filter in your mason jar and fill with cold water. I prefer to leave the glass ring hanging over the top of the jar, so that its on the outside when I close my jar. Another way to complete the process is to put the glass ring around the top of the filter and then submerge the filter in the cold water and put the lid on your mason jar.

Allow your coffee to soak for at least 8-12 hours, remove the filter and its ready to drink. Prepare however you prefer your coffee, cream, sugar, or flavored syrup. You can even microwave the cold brew if you prefer hot coffee. The benefit of cold brew is you get a smoother coffee than with hot brew.

CoffeeSock Co.'s reusable organic cotton DIY cold brew kit (www.etsy.com/shop/CoffeeSockCo) makes the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life! Their kits are also the perfect start to one of our mason jar gift baskets, just add some coarse ground coffee, flavored coffee syrups, a shaker of vanilla or cocoa power and one of our mason jar wraps available at www.bethannerickson.etsy.com and you have a personalized cold brew gift basket ready to give. For more mason jar gift ideas visit our blog post The Art of Mason Jar Gifts.

I highly recommend CoffeeSock Co.'s organic cotton filter for yourself or a friend!

Bonus Idea:

 By experimenting with my organic cotton filter from CoffeeSock, I found that I could brew a large batch of tea, using hot water and a mason jar to make iced tea. I used a berry flavored tea and then added some lemonade to sweeten and refrigerate. Perfect for the Mother's Day BBQ I hosted on Sunday. There are so many uses for your CoffeeSock organic cotton filter that its worth the purchase, even if you are not a coffee drinker!

Coming Next Week: Wedding Dreams: Coordinating the theme of your wedding.

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