The Season of Giving is at the Door

The time around Christmas is known to be the season of giving. Although I believe that all seasons should be seasons of giving (really), I understand that the culture of consumerism that surrounds winter holidays will be practically impossible to root out all at once. People still buy and give gifts (I am guilty of that as well..). However, what if we could invest money to causes that go beyond just profiting a company? What if I could buy goods, and know that the money invested will go directly to individuals and communities that created them? These thoughts inspired me to create a list of online shops that not only offer amazing hand-made products, but encourage and empower talented artisans, contribute to alleviate poverty and hunger, and build stronger communities by making a long lasting and sustainable change.

So folks, if you are starting to look for goods to share with your loved ones, or would simply like to contribute to a good cause, consider exploring these wonderful companies.

 

Fashion:

Della

FEED

Krochet Kids 

Sseko Designs 

FashionaABLE

CYNY (Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself)

Dsenyo 

1000 Shillings 

Accessories:

Better Life Bags 

Akola 

Noon Day Collection

Baby:

HaitiBabi

Home Goods:

Anchal Project 

All Across Africa 

Feed My Starving Children 

Bath & Body:

Thistle Farms 

Alaffia

Other:

Raven + Lily

To The Market  

 

What companies do you know of that use profits to empower and build stronger communities? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

Love,

A

P.S: Also, to hear a lovely song click here.

 

Our Trip to Puerto Rico

Hi folks! So as some of you may know, July was the month of our wedding – and our honeymoon! What a busy month it has been…With all the planning, long work hours and sleepless nights we were looking forward for our first trip together! For our honeymoon, Erick and I wanted to go on an adventure – somewhere not too far, yet different from where we live. We wanted mountain hikes, Spanish Colonial architecture and empty beaches all in one experience – and we got it! Erick and I travelled to a small PR island called Culebra for 5 days. There, we stayed in a small cottage that we found on homeaway.com. During our stay there, we explored the empty Zoni beach, took a boat ride to Culebrita island (which is even smaller), hiked up to see the light house, snorkeled in crystal clear waters, witnessed little sea turtles hatch and enjoyed beautiful sunsets. After getting our golden tans (and burning a little) we traveled back to the main PR island. There, we rented a car and drove all the way to the top of El Yunque, to stay in our idyllic cottage, right in the heart of the rainforest preserve. The house was magical…every night we fell asleep to the sounds of the coqui and every morning we ate breakfast in the lush garden behind the house, while observing little lizards make their way under our feet. Hiking the numerous trails and swimming in the La Mina falls alone at 7:30am was a priceless experience! Waking up early was always a good idea, as we avoided crowds. One day we decided to drive to Old San Juan. We loved every bit of it – the colors, the music, the food, the heat! On the way back, we concluded the day with a refreshing dip in our private pool, to the sound of the coqui…A perfect honeymoon to say the least!

We’ve posted some photos from our trip on our Instagram account, but I though I’d create a more extensive post about our adventure, so here are some more photos from our trip!

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xx,

A

“Seek Beauty in People”, She Said

Today is the birthday of the most important woman in my life.

My mother, my best friend, my role model.

With everything she is, my mother embodies grace.

My mother teaches me what it means to live unconditional love.

Her words never fail to encourage and uplift, and her loving eyes overflow with strength and courage.

My mother teaches me the infinite joy of sharing, caring and devoting ones life to serving others.

And even when her body grows weary, her spirit continues to love, cherish, and sacrifice.

My mother teaches me that when you love, you give the benefit of the doubt. She teaches me forgiveness.

My mother teaches me to appreciate and be grateful for the smallest things. She can find beauty even in the daily routine.

She tells me to seek beauty in people, no matter how good or bad they are to you (because people are never bad themselves, their actions are).

Through her life, my mother shows me that gentleness and vulnerability are not weaknesses – they are the essence of womanhood, strengths that will carry you through, virtues that will save souls.

Today is the birthday of the most beautiful woman in my life.

My best friend, my role model, my mother. Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 10.11.55 AM

Love,

A

In the Midst of Uncertainty

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

~ Isaiah 40:31

This is the promise I cling to in the midst of uncertainty.

 Waiting on the Lord,  being in tune with the Creator of all things, praying for wisdom, and guidance...For I trust that He shall renew my strength, I shall not faint, I shall not be weary…

The unknown is very uncomfortable, yet necessary to live by faith. Weighting the pros and cons may help make the right decision, yet sometimes taking a leap with faith is what the Lord wants us to do! No relationship can be built without trust, and so it is with Christ. Taking the risk without any guarantees, don’t we all do that at some point or another? But how much more comforting it is to do so knowing that just like in prior personal experiences, you are not alone, “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Love,

A

Breathing in Montreal

From experience, I know that we tend to appreciate people and places once we lose sight of them. That is why this time, I decided to do things differently. In just a few weeks, I will be leaving this cozy, vibrant and life-filled little island of Montreal and moving to another beautiful place yet to be discovered. In the time I have left, I commit to spending time with people that matter the most and re-visit the places that stole little pieces of my heart. Leaving. Starting over…Or more like turning the page and starting a new chapter. Yep, that’s what I will be doing – I will be starting a new exciting chapter in my life with my dearest friend and companion – my amazing husband-to-be. With a hopeful heart I look forward to what the future holds, and appreciate every moment, every breath that God is giving me…here, today. Indeed, it is a priceless gift!

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Love,

A

Spring Palette

Spring has finally arrived…Gentle rays of sunshine caress the last bits of ice that cover the fresh fragrance of the humid soil. The pleasantly warm breeze plays hide-and-seek in the naked branches…and very soon we will be surrounded by deep greens and colorful blooms!

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What does your spring look like?

Love,

A

Winter is a Hot Cup of Cocoa

It is finally March break. It is time a for staying in and watching movies, for checking off the things on that list that we usually don’t have time to do and taking naps in the middle of the day, time to time of course. We are hoping that with each day, the snowflakes will melt and awake the beautiful green pastures with all their fragrances. We are dreaming about the hot summer sun and are earnestly waiting to feel that warm wind on our cheeks. Let’s hope all of that is just around the corner! But until then, let’s enjoy the simple joys that this white season has to offer:

That view from your window of big fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky slowly, slowly as you sip that cup of ginger tea…

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Those city rooftops covered in a white blanket, making you feel like you live in a winter wonderland…

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Those silly looking unfashionable winter clothes you absolutely must wear to avoid freezing your limbs off and catching a cold…

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The warmth of a hot cup of cocoa, after a long walk home from work (because city buses run late)…

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Those cold winter days you decide to stay in and cook new recipes (because you got inspired by Julie and Julia the night before)…

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 Although it can feel like there is no end to it, winter remains a wonderful season, don’t you think so?

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Love,

A

Our First Work is With the Heart

I do not usually post personal testimonies. But God has been gracefully working out things in my life and I felt it was important to share my testimony. So here it goes…
There are days when I feel like God is silent. And lately it’s been the opposite. God is slowly opening my eyes to a harsh reality about myself.. He is using different people and circumstances to show me the bits and pieces of my identity that must be changed – transformed, in order for Him to fully use me to His glory. I am starting to realize that for years I have been neglecting my personal relationship with God by keeping myself busy serving, or doing things that I believe are what God wants me to do (but does he really?). The spirit of service that is given from above should not replace our precious quality time with the Creator. By neglecting my relationship with God, I am neglecting His will for my life, as well as ways He can use me to truly reach others for Him. It is a painful experience to realize that all these years, all I have been doing is keeping myself busy away from God, making the same excuse:”Well, I am busy serving other…isn’t this what Christ wants us to do? Isn’t this how we testify about who Christ is?“. No, it is not…In Proverbs 3:6 it says:

“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Prioritizing time with God is giving my heart to Him, day by day…In order to let Him guide my steps, my words, and my actions, I must first place my trust in Him, and that requires knowing my Savior. In Christ’s Object Lessons (p.97), E.G White states:

“As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart.”

My prayer is that we may take time to know our Creator, and let Him mold our hearts according to His will, so we can truly reflect His love to those who surround us.

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Love,

A

Winter Blues

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs, “Winter Sunshine”

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Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. It is no season in which to wander the world as if one were the wind blowing aimlessly along the streets without a place to rest, without food, and without time meaning anything to one, just as time means nothing to the wind. ~Edith Sitwell

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Winter came down on our home one night quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow, and we, we were children once again. ~ Bill Morgan, Jr.
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 Stay warm, sip tea, cuddle.
 Love,
A