Tag Archives: bags

Santa Monica Smiles

Yesterday we decided to climb out from under the wrapping paper remnants & crushed gift boxes and take a stroll around Santa Monica to deliver the blessing bags we assembled last week. I wish we had hundreds more of them, but we agreed to find five recipients and hand them out along with a smile.


Next we saw a gentleman sitting on a park bench with a big suitcase and a Subway sandwich he was about to unwrap. The kids were running a little ahead of us and were skipping and screaming near where he was sitting. He looked up and shouted “Get your family away from me!” a couple times. Of course, we have our children’s safety in mind at all times, so we quietly walked by him and sought other folks in need of a little blessing. I look back and should have maybe went over to him alone and just placed a bag on the bench where he was sitting, smiled and walked away, but at the time I was a little put off by his outburst.

We moved on and I noticed a man with a big McDonald’s bag who was handing out hamburgers by the dozens. Some people were sleeping and he kindly left them a sandwich on their belongings. I saw him hand one to a sweet woman who responded with the most grateful smile and immediately followed it up with a blessing bag. She was so darling and thanked me so genuinely.


She didn’t even study what was in the bag, but immediately said, “Oh, I can use everything in here!” She embarrassingly asked me for a quarter…she said, “I know I’m not supposed to ask you for money, but do you have a quarter for the bus?” I fished around in my wallet and handed her two.


She was so sweet and interested in the kids {who, at first, stood over by Jay, but then made their way over to us} and asked how old they were. She said that was so nice that they came out to do this because surely they would rather be doing something else. I wanted to stay and chat with her….listen to whatever she had to say and take in as much information about her that she was willing to share.

Was she a mother? A sister? A wife? A Widow? A grandmother?

What brought her to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica overlooking the pier, the ferris wheel and the big blue Pacific?


I wished her a blessed day and we proceeded to leave three more bags on the meager belongings of two neighboring bench mates and a man on the grass who were taking naps under the late December Southern California sun.



This is truly an eye opening experience and I’m so glad the kids were along and we could do this as a family. I am forever changed after speaking to this woman for only a few short minutes. I hope that when the others awoke from their slumbers that they felt loved and acknowledged when they laid eyes on their hamburgers and gallon ziplocs filled with small tokens from our family.

We look forward to making this an annual thing. Next year we’ll make up many more and focus on the streets of Hollywood.

Here is a link to last year’s post of what exactly was in the bags. {this year we added a bottled water, walnuts, trail mix and a pair of men’s socks}

Thank you to Leslie at Top of the Page and Julie at Joy’s Hope for sharing this act and opening my eyes to a way to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Here is the blessing bag post ~ as shared by Leslie.

I share this experience because I want to record it and remember it in years to come. I want to recall my exact emotions and the joy that it brought to these complete strangers just minding their own business on {their} park bench. I share this experience because it is so awesome and I want to encourage YOU to think about linking up with some friends and assembling some bags, now or next year, and give all the glory to HIM.

Yesterday was perfect.

Let’s Do This


This week I felt like I was on a see saw ~ lots of ups and downs.


Not that I am any busier than anybody else, I just {thought} this was going to be the week when I baked, wrapped, cleaned, organized…

There was lots of stress and anxiety and LOTS of back & forth this week, but the highs definitely outweighed the lows.

Like when I took my first solo trip to {Justice} to procure a few items on Elliott’s Christmas list ~ uh, that place is insane…a peace sign and glitter EXPLOSION up in there. But I had fun browsing {alone!!} and finding some cute starter stuff for her. She’s going to die when she sees a half dozen Justice boxes under the tree ~ I asked the lady for separate boxes to spread out the smiles on Christmas morning.

Or when I put another Pinterest recipe to the test and realized the cuteness factor way outweighs the easiness factor…wait, super cute AND easy? L.O.V.E. **Note: I tried a new variety of Hershey’s kiss tonight…the cookies n cream. Don’t know that I even knew those existed, but they caught my eye at Target today so I grabbed ’em. They DO NOT need a full 6 minutes in the oven, though! Maybe more like 4.5 to 5 minutes because they certainly lost their shape and started to ooze after 6 minutes, but still worked out just fine. I am addicted to making these and am going to try the chocolate ones with mint truffle inside next!

Then there was the Christmas Pot Luck at church which I SO needed on Wednesday night! Loved chatting with and getting to know my sweet RCIA sponsor better and sampling the oodles of home cooked dishes.

Today’s highs take the cake though…I was out on errand duty EARLY and went through the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf drive-thru before I hit I-5. As I was in the long line waiting to pay, I decided that I was going to pay for the woman’s order behind me. When I got to the window I told the guy and he said, “Uh, her total is $15-something…she has three large coffee beverages.” I told him to go ahead…and he asked me if I was sure and I said, “Yes, I just want to spread some Christmas cheer.” and his reply was, “Let’s do this!”. I have no idea what her reaction was, but it was fun and I drove off with a big smile.

Then, my friend, Vicki, and I decided to go in together and do some Blessed to Bless bags {this was one of the things on my [2011 holiday to-do list]}. We both shopped for about six items, split them up and filled our gallon ziplocs. All I need to do is print off a little card to slip inside and they will be ready to load into the car and share with those in need.

Here are the items that we included:



Trial size lotion

Carmex lip balm

Granola bar

Mandarin orange cup w/ a plastic spoon wrapped in a napkin

2 Slim Jim meat sticks

6 Ricola cough lozenges

2 Wisp toothbrushes {disposable}

Trial size toothpaste

Mini hand sanitizer

Several Wet Ones

Juicy Juice juice box

We bought eight of each item so that will give us both 4 bags each…just the right amount to get us hooked and want to make more, I’m sure.

Awesome stuff right there.

Here is an example of another Blessed To Bless bag:


There were a couple more {highs} this week, but I am going to have to keep those under wraps for a bit, but CANNOT wait to share.

The only way that I have been getting through each day is drawing up a list of what MUST {no ifs, ands or buts} get done THAT particular day. I simply have not been able to think ahead at all! This has been working for me so I will keep it up since the next 8 days aren’t looking any less hectic.

In the words of the CB&TL barista, “Let’s do this!”.

Bring on the week before Christmas.

One day at a time, please.

Flip Flop Fiestas ~ Activities & Favors

Happy Friday, floppers!


We’re getting closer and closer to putting together the perfect, budget-friendly birthday party…let’s chat about what we’re going to do at the party and what our friends will take home with them.

Part 5 ~ Activites & Favors

I think it’s important to keep the party flowing so that the guests don’t get bored. A good length for a party is 2 hours when the kids are 5 and under, I think. Having some simple games or crafts that go with the theme is fun and gives the little ones something to take home to remember the party. For preschoolers, just some coloring pages {that can be downloaded from the internet} and fat crayons displayed in a small tin bucket is enough. Pin the _________ on the _________ is a good old-fashioned party game. Grab some poster board and freehand a picture. Cut out the part that the kids will {pin on}. Use a bandana as a blindfold, spin them around and see who gets the closest. The older kids think this is fun! We have a small game of rubber horseshoes that I picked up at Home Goods for Elliott’s 2nd Western themed party. The little cowboys and cowgirls had a great time tossing! Bubble machines always provide hours of fun for the younger party goers, too!

I swore I would never do this, but we finally caved and rented a bounce house for Elliott’s 4th birthday. It had a basketball hoop inside so that added a new dimension for the older kids. I bought several small balls at the dollar store and threw them inside. Little Tikes makes a small jump house, too, that I borrowed from a friend. These are great because they fit in the garage if rain or cold weather decides to come to the party!

If you have a pirate party, you can do a treasure hunt and have small trinkets waiting in a treasure chest for the partygoers at the end of the hunt. If your little rockstar or girly girl is having a spa party, pick up a few fun nail polishes and have them soak their piggies in little plastic wash bins from the dollar store and do quick pedis. {you could embellish some inexpensive flip flops for them to put on after they’re all polished and those could be the favors. But we’ll get to favors in a minute.}

Bake some sugar cookies and have the kids frost and sprinkle them. Or do the same with cupcakes…this can be both an activity to fill time and their birthday treat! Put frosting and sprinkles in little bowls around the table and give each child a knife and let them go to town {remind them to not lick the knife until they’re done frosting ~ no double dipping! ;-)}

Pick up some pizza dough at your local pizzeria or even Trader Joe’s and separate it out into individual size balls. Let the kids roll out their dough, add sauce and toppings and watch it bake in the oven. Again, this will give them a little cooking lesson AND also be their lunch.

The Dollar Tree has some foam door hangers that are really cute. Pick up some {puffy paint} or foam stickers, Elmers glue and some glitter or glitter glue and have them create a personalized sign for their bedroom door.

If your fiesta is in the warmer months, pick up a slip and slide and you can be guaranteed lots of laughs, giggles and screams of delight. If you’re having a Hawaiian inspired luau, teach the little {keikis} to hula or have a contest to see who can hula hoop the longest.

I would say that one or two quick games and/or crafts is sufficient. You don’t want to pack too much into the party! Again, if you Google it, chances are that you can find oodles of ideas for games and activites to suite your theme.

I have found, too, that opening the gifts with all the guests there is overwhelming and can get out of control. I prefer to wait until all the guest have gone, take a breath and then tackle the gift pile. It makes it much easier to write down who gave what for the thank yous!


Last but definitely not least are the favors or goodie bags…

I LOVE putting together the favors. I wish I could send every kid home with an awesome schwag bag, but the budget steps in and brings me back down to reality! I like to pick up little things here and there when I see them on sale or clearance. Generally, I like to keep the favors useful…like a little t-shirt or hat. I keep my eyes peeled for clearance rack goodness at Target or Children’s Place. I’ve been known to give little swimsuits as favors, too! Hey, when they’re $2.48 at Target and they’re adorable, why not?

In the past I’ve gotten small colorful paper shopping bags at either Wal-mart or Michael’s, printed labels, stuffed them and had them serve as part of the decor!

I always include a little note to thank the guests for coming in the goodie bag.

Candy leis are the perfect favor for your luau party.

If you’re having a wide range of ages and both girls and boys attending your party, you may just want to skip goodie bags and do a {candy bar} instead. What kid wouldn’t love to select their own mixture of confections and take it home to enjoy for days {or weeks} after the party. Get some toothbrushes and tie a {thanks for coming} note around them to go with their sweet treats.

To save time and money on the bags, just display the trinkets in a glass vase or jar and have the guests take one as they leave.

Again, if you do a craft, that can easily serve as the party favor, too! If you have lots of balloons, tie one around their wrists as they walk out the door. Because a red balloon is a sure sign of a good time!


This is the final part of Flip Flop Fiestas…I hope you’ve enjoyed reading. I could look at party & wedding blogs all day! I love to pull inspiration from different places and see what I come up with. Get a composition book or journal and jot down ideas as you see them. If you see some cute decorations or favors somewhere and aren’t quite ready to buy them, scribble down the store so you can check back down the road ~ who knows, your items may even be on clearance. {insert *happy dance* here!}

Happy planning!