Meet Nina: Owner of Ukranian Bead Jewelry!

When Nina was a little girl growing up in Ukraine, she never dreamed she would make a career of creating handmade jewelry!  necklaceforblog

She actually focused on management and literature during her time at school.  After graduation, she worked as a journalist for a while.  Eventually Nina  began working at a jewelry supply store where she sold beads and taught others how to make beautiful jewelry.  

One day she realized that she could go beyond teaching others and actually make money by selling her own handmade jewelry.  She started out selling her creations in local exhibitions and craft fairs.  One day she met an American man named David.  David told Nina about Etsy and how she could grow her business by selling here jewelry online.  From there, Nina started her shop: Ukraian Bead Jewelry.    

Now, Nina’s primary income is from her sales on Etsy!  For Nina, her business is not only about making money.  She wants to add beauty and joy to the world through her jewelry.  Prices range from $8-$99 so that her jewelry is accessible to a variety of people.  Nina has so many unique pieces! 

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Shop to Give – Many Choices at Tiffany Twists!

Tiffany, owner of Tiffany Twists, developed an entire line of jewelry called Nests of Hope in order to give to charity!

Tiffany donates 50% of the purchase price of these items to charity.  Which charity depends on the particular item you purchase.  

A couple are listed below, but there is so much more to see!  Check out all of these listings to see what other charities you can support by shopping at Tiffany Twists.  

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When you purchase this item, 50% of the price will be donated to either Autism Speaks or The Autism Society (your choice). 

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When you purchase this item, 50% of the price will be donated to Susan G. Komen

 

Meet Wendy and Lucas: Owners of Good Common Sense!

GCS Photo Wendy and Lucas began making bath and body products a few years ago when money was tight.  It began as a way to save money, but as they learned more about the process and ingredients it developed into a passion.  

One year, Wendy and Lucas decided to give handmade lip balms and lotion bars as Christmas gifts.  They were delighted by the positive reaction they received from their family and friends.  This is what inspired them to turn their hobby into something more! 

 

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Wendy began researching safety and proper manufacturing practices and even took some classes.  She discovered natural replacements for the chemicals we use every day and began to implement them in her creations.  Her philosophy is if you put good in, you’ll get good out.  This is why Wendy is devoted to using the best ingredients available for the skin care products she creates.  

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Eventually, the couple decided to take the plunge and start a business selling their handmade products.  Lucas worked hard on the branding of Good Common Sense.  They began by selling at local craft fairs and later launched their online store.  Wendy has since quit her full time job and is now devoting her time to growing Good Common Sense even further.  In the future, Wendy and Lucas hope to sell their products to physical stores where consumers can buy them locally.  Their ultimate dream would be to have a local shop where they create and sell their products so that customers could observe the handmade process as they shop! 

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Prices range from $2-$50, so there’s something for everyone!  To show their appreciation, Wendy and Lucas offer a 10% discount when you use the coupon code THANKS.  

 

We Are Not Toilet Paper!

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My 18 month old son and I listen to a lot of children’s music during the day.  One of the CDs we listen to has this song on it, so I have been hearing it a lot over the past few weeks.  In the song, it says “God keeps me.”  I heard this phrase a lot growing up but I never really understood what it meant, and it never occurred to me to ask.  I feel kind of silly admitting it because it’s such a simple phrase, and I’m not sure why it took me almost 30 years to grasp the meaning.  

One day this past week, I was folding the laundry and singing along when it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t understand the meaning.  I started asking myself a bunch of questions and and answering them all inside of my head.  I suppose you could say I had a little dialogue with myself.  

 

“What does it mean to keep something?” 

“Well, it means you don’t get rid of it.”

“Why do we keep things?”

“Because we value them or have some kind of attachment to them.”

“Why do we get rid of things?”

“Usually because they’ve served their purpose or are no longer wanted.”

 

And so on it went until I finally had a lightbulb moment and finally came to understand what this very simple phrase actually meant.  So I will do my best to explain my thoughts on it here. 

Think for a moment about something that belongs to you which you would really like to keep.  It could be your husband, your house, etc.  Why do you want to keep it?  Probably because it’s worth something to you / means something to you / holds a special place in your heart, etc.  How do you treat this thing?  Do you treat it with care?  Do you do something to show that it’s yours?  For instance, marry the man you love to show the world he is yours?  Have the house in your name to show your ownership of it? 

Now think about toilet paper – a consumable possession that you really only need temporarily.  Once used, it’s discarded.  I doubt many people value it enough to write their name on it.  

Once we trust Christ as Lord and Savior, we belong to him.  We are set free from satan’s grasp.  Christ keeps us from that point forward.  What does that mean?  He doesn’t let us go.  We are His for eternity!  He seals us with the Holy Spirit to show his ownership and to guarantee that we will spend eternal life with Him.    

We are not toilet paper!  Isn’t that exciting?  God doesn’t view us as a consumable possession.  He actually values us!

He doesn’t throw us away.  He will never discard us like trash.  He doesn’t “use” us by taking advantage of us and then abandoning us after he’s gotten what he wants.  He keeps us because he truly loves and cares for us!  

So in a nutshell, to me this phrase seems to encompass our assurance of salvation.  

For reference, see the following: Ephesians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 1:20-22, Philippians 1:6, Jude 1:24

Bacon and Basil Yum Yum Pasta

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Ingredients: 

16 ounces bacon

1/4 cup butter

1 cup onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 (1 ounce cubes) frozen basil, thawed (*see below*) – or 3 large handfuls of fresh basil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cajun seasoning

12 ounces Farfalle (bow tie pasta)

3 cups chicken broth

1 can diced tomatoes

*I like to grow basil during the summer and I love having “fresh” basil to use year round.  I discovered that I could put it in the food processor with just a little butter or oil and then pour it into silicone ice cube trays and freeze it.  Then I have it available all year round.  That’s what I mean by one ounce cubes.*

 

Instructions:

First, cook your bacon whichever way you want.  I suggest baking it while you prepare the rest of the dish. 

Melt butter in a large nonstick pot and saute onion about 5 minutes.    Add garlic, basil, and the rest of the spices.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in uncooked pasta and reduce heat slightly.  Cover and allow to cook, but stir frequently so that pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot.  Once pasta is tender, stir in tomatoes.  If any liquid remains, continue to cook over low heat stirring frequently until sauce is reduced to your desired consistency.  Crumble the cooked bacon into the pasta and stir.  

Serve warm and top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Maple Sweet Potato Muffins with Cashew Butter

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This recipe was born because we had too many sweet potatoes and cashews that needed to be eaten.  I wanted to make something semi-healthy for my toddler to eat, so I used twice as much sweet potato puree as flour and also used a lot of cashew butter to up the calorie content with a healthy fat.  If you make these, don’t expect a super sweet, cake like muffin.  It’s more like a sweet potato soufflé in muffin form, and is not super sweet.  My toddler, who can be very picky, loved these!  I made some mini-muffins and some regular size.

Ingredients:

2 cups sweet potato puree

1 ¼ cup cashew butter

3/4 cup maple syrup

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Mix 1st 6 ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix last three ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add dry mixture to wet mixture and beat together to form the batter.  Prepare your muffin tins by using cupcake liners or by greasing them.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 40 minutes for regular sized muffins, or for approximately 25 minutes for mini muffins.  

 

Meet Amanda: Owner of Merchant3114!

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Amanda, owner of Merchant3114, discovered her love for crochet while dabbling in other sewing crafts.  After several years of making gifts for friends and family, she decided to turn her hobby into a business.   

The most popular items in Amanda’s shop are her ponchos, but she loves to experiment with making different items, so her shop is full of variety. 

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Prices range from $2.50 to $48.  Amanda offers a 10% discount to her Pinterest and Facebook fans.  She also has a clearance section in her shop where all items are marked down to 50% of the original price.   

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Amanda desires to honor God through all of her business interactions.  As she continues to grow her business, she hopes to eventually create and sell her own designs and patterns.  She even has a dream of owning a local yarn shop where she would sell hand dyed or hand spun yarns alongside mainstream retail yarns.