Advent Calendars 2017: Day 1

Day 1 of our advent calendars.

The jam was DELICIOUS (and so much fun). There was enough to generously use on 3 slices of toast this morning.

This year we purchased:
Bonne Maman mini-preserves advent calendar
2017 Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar
Tsum Tsum calendar

Holiday Give Back: TWLOHA

This is another organization that is near and dear to my heart. My personal life has been touched by suicide, as I am sure many of you have had your lives touched as well. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) started in 2006. I first found out about the organization from my best friend's daughter, and that year we made a donation in her name for her holiday gift. Since 2006, TWLOHA has donated over 1.8 million dollars to treatment and recovery, and has answered over 200,000 email from over 100 countries! Talk about an organization that is literally saving lives!

There are many ways you can give a TWLOHA gift this holiday season. First, is their gift catalog, which I have been looking at for a while to purchase a gift for my oldest daughter. Check out this awesome jacket!

And EVERY dollar that is spent at their online gift store goes directly to funding treatment and recovery.
If anyone is looking for a gift for me, I am LOVING this hoodie!

There are so many wonderful gifts (including sticker packs!!!) at their online store which you can check out here:
Or you can make a donation in a loved one's name!!!! What a tremendous gift giving can make!
You can check out the organization here:

Advent Calendars 2017

As many of you know, we open several Advent calendars each year. As a special preview, this year we will be opening the following advent calendars:

My oldest child chose the Bonne Maman mini-preserves advent calendar. She is 14. How fun will it be to make something with a new preserve flavor each day in December! I am most excited for this one (only because I assume she will share).

My son once again chose the 2017 Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar. I believe we have purchased this one (there is a new one each year) for the past 3-4 years. We did the Lego City one for a few years before that. He loves making all of the new Lego creations!

My youngest chose this Tsum Tsum calendar. This was a surprise because I don't think we own any Tsum Tsums-- at all, so this will be the most interesting because I am not really sure what to expect from it.

Come back on December 1st to see all the goodies that we open!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Kiva: Loans that Make a Difference

Our first stop on our Holiday Give Back tour this year is Kiva!!!!

Years ago, I started with my first Kiva loan. Since then, I have made 11 loans. Last year, each of my kids received a $25 gift card to Kiva, and what fun we have had this year! We kept everything housed under my Kiva account, and the kids each spent time reviewing different people needing loans.

My oldest gave her loan to a textile store, my son donated bulls, and my daughter helped pay the tuition for another child to attend school. We log in each month to see the progress of our loan, and have been able to make additional loans (as what we loaned out was paid out).

Kiva is a great way for kids to connect to the world around them. We checked out books on the "home" countries of our loans, and read more about each location. It has been fun, educational, and a great way to give back!

It only costs $25 to make your first loan, and when that loan is paid back, you can reinvest your funds into a new loan!

You can check out the loans we have made at:

Westchester County Hosts Second Annual Holiday LIFT Campaign

Are you looking for a local way to help out those in need? If you are local to Westchester County, NY, than Lifting Up Westchester (LUW) is a great organization to be a part of! LUW is a nonprofit agency which provides homeless and poverty services to individuals throughout Westchester County. Their second annual Holiday LIFT campaign starts on November 4th-- just one week away!  The campaign offers tons of ways that the community can spread holiday cheer! 

I am so inspired by this amazing organization. Founded in 1979, LUW serves 4,500 men, women and children each year providing 140,000 meals to the hungry and 28,000 nights of shelter to the homeless. How incredible! 

Here are some of the details: 
Holiday LIFT activities will include distributing warm coats and winter clothing, providing 2,000 holiday meals from the LUW soup kitchen, filling and distributing 500 holiday food bags, and wrapping and delivering hundreds of gifts.  It will take an army of volunteers to get it done.

“It’s heartwarming to see the community come together during the holiday season to make sure that everyone has a special meal, receives a small gift or has warm clothing for winter,” explained Anahaita Kotval, executive director. “It’s particularly touching to see people of diverse religious and ethnic traditions helping our clients celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or making a special effort to share their own heritage and traditions with our clients. 

Want to help LUW provide 2,000 holiday meals, fill 500 holiday food bags and provide gifts for hundreds of children and families in need? Here are some ideas:
  • Organize a food drive!!!! (Foods needed most are turkeys, hams, instant mashed potatoes, gravy mix, stuffing, canned vegetables, canned cranberries, cake and brownie mixes). 
  • Did you get a free turkey this year? Why not donate it to LUW?
  • Donate $10-$25 grocery store gift cards! 
  • Donate NEW winter wear like gloves, hats and scarves for residents of the Open Arms Men’s Shelter and Samaritan House Women’s Shelter.
  • Pick up an extra toy while out shopping this year and donate items like sports balls, board games and multi-cultural dolls for the children and teenagers in the Brighter Futures Youth Programs.
  • Donate money online at 

Check out more details on the Lifting Up Westchester website: