our favorite {potatoes}

potatoes

 

 

I wanted to share this simple yet delicious recipe as I have had a couple of requests for how to make our favorite potatoes.  If you are like us and try to eat seasonally, and you live in the northern hemisphere, potatoes are likely to be on your menu a lot in the coming months.  This is one of our favorite recipes for adding them to almost any meal.  You simply need enough potatoes to feed your crew – I often use red, yellow or a mix of the two sliced about 1/3″ thick, enough olive oil to toss said potatoes in, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, as well as a bit of fresh rosemary.  The two tablespoons of butter are optional- but not in this house…

Preheat your cast iron pan (or any metal pan or cookie sheet) in a 350? F oven for about ten minutes.  Toss all of your ingredients together in a bowl and then pour them into your preheated pan.  Return the pan to the oven and cook until the potatoes begin to soften- usually about 20 minutes.  If you want to add a bit of butter like we do, take the pan out, give the potatoes a bit of a stir, add the butter and then stir again.  Return the pan to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  You want your potatoes to be soft and nicely browned.  I tend to cook them in the top half of the oven but I cook with a gas oven so it may be different for an electric one.

When I take them out of the oven I use a finishing salt and just sprinkle a bit on top before serving.

 

Another couple amazing looking recipes~

These winter squash look amazing

How about roasting peaches?

This caramel apple dessert is another use for your cast iron pan.

And what about a roasted salad~

Bon appetite!

x

the gift of {giving}

donation bag

 

Hi friends,

Autumn has truly arrived here on the farm.  If there was any doubt, it was removed this past weekend when the winds whipped the leaves in a frenzy and the power was lost for about 24 hours.  As I have been on my own with the boys for the past 8 days we were left to get the generator running, light candles and make sure the fires were going.   This is indeed my favorite season as I am a nester by nature and love a good “batten down the hatches” day.  I feel incredibly blessed that when the weather turns our family has a place to go that is warm and dry.  I feel blessed that our pantry is never bare and we never go to bed hungry.  And while this is an issue for some year round it seems that with the colder weather it is brought to the forefront and seems more prevalent- more pressing come late autumn and winter.  Thus, after being inspired by another creative soul I spent today doing a bit of shopping.  I really (really really really) want to make this holiday season one of giving and selflessness- of kindness towards our fellow man and doing what we can to bring comfort and joy to those that need it.

We put together these little comfort bags- a small collection of things I imagine those without a home or a stable income could use.  We often come across people in our community in need and while it is easy to hand a dollar or two to a stranger, I felt that it was more important to take the time to put something together that would not only be useful but let them know that we had thought of them.  I intend to offer these bags without expectation and am prepared to be turned down.  However as I hope that for the most part they will be well-received and that if nothing else, they will bring a bit of joy to someone we don’t even know.

I really want our boys to become men of integrity as well as men who feel the pull to leave the world a better place because they were in it.

dream big.  do good.

x

{tiggy & grace} pop-up

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I am SO excited about opening the shop my friends!  It seems like it has been forever and I have been thinking about what I really wanted to share.  I have added some things that I hope you will love as much as I do.  There are some incredible drinkable vinegars which are absolutely perfect for the holidays- especially if you love the idea of enjoying cocktails with friends but don’t want the alcohol.  With a bit of ice and some carbonated bubbly water – plus your favorite Ludlow shrub- you have a gorgeous delicious cocktail!

 

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I have also added some fun colored canvas market bags- simple and sturdy and colorful for the darker days of winter.   They are spacious and perfect to bring shopping and make a wonderful gift that is earth friendly to boot!

 

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I was fortunate enough to be able to find (through a friend) my all-time favorite shears.  I keep mine in the kitchen and they come in handy for a multitude of tasks- most often cutting herbs and flowers from the gardens. They are pretty and sharp and a great tool to keep handy.

 

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While in France this summer I picked up some of these darling “homemade” canning jars- the sides say “fait maison” and while I brought home some for myself, I wanted to share some with you as well.  While you could definitely use them for canning, they are also a great size for storage in your pantry.

 

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I’ve also added tea towels!  Made from the same fabulous linen that my napkins are made out of, these tea towels are larger and so useful in the kitchen.  I use them to cover fresh bread before dinner or to line a bowl before putting rolls in it.  They are of course useful towels as well~  They measure 16″ by 24″ and are rough edged like the napkins.

 

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I’ve also added one of our current favorite teas – Harney & Son’s “Paris”.  #2 drinks it every evening and has grown into quite the tea man since Paris came into our lives.  I adore the tins as well as the beautiful tea bags as it makes brewing a cup of tea feel special~

 

The shop will open WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30TH and will remain open for three days.  As I so enjoyed the feel of the pop-up in the past, I wanted to return to that as we approach the holiday season.  Many of the things in the shop would make wonderful gifts for Christmas so come see what’s new and hopefully you will find something you love!

See you Wednesday!

http://tiggygrace.bigcartel.com

 

 

 

{autumn} has arrived

autumn drive

 

Autumn has arrived, and with it the incredible colors that she brings.  We have had a beautiful last week or so and I am enjoying every moment of it.  We wake to thick fog covering the farm making it difficult to see from one end to the other.  It often burns away during the day, leaving us with brisk sunshine- my very favorite weather.  I have noticed that it begins to move in again as the sun is setting – creating this misty dream-like haze over the gardens.

I am enjoying time in the kitchen when the weather is cold.  I love cooking things that take a long time and make the house smell delicious.  I always find myself nesting this time of year- thinking of the coming holidays, making mental meal plans and this year, opting for small and quiet rather than big and boisterous. As my husband says, it is early and things could change but, for now, I think I would prefer to keep it low-key and peaceful this season.

We have a number of things we have been working on lately which has kept me from doing much blogging. We recently purchased a little house in North Seattle that is in the process of being painted and getting ready to rent.  She is a sweet little 1947 bungalow and we call her Wedgewood House.  I can’t wait to share more when she is ready and if you know someone looking for a rental in the Seattle area, send them our way!

As soon as Wedgewood house is completed we will finally break ground and get our deck and doors off the kitchen underway.  I am SO excited about this project as it will be a space that I imagine I will use every day. With it being off the kitchen and partially covered it should be a place that we can use much of the year.  I know that come spring we will eat most of our meals there when the weather permits~

I am also excited to open the shop for a three day pop-up in the next two weeks.  It is long overdue but I am hoping you enjoy the new items and are able to find your old favorites as well!  Stay tuned as I will announce the dates here on the blog a few days before she goes live!

There is something about foraging that appeals to me on a deep level.

A sweet Autumn post with a recipe that looks delish!

This treat would be very popular at our house!

Homemade candybars?  What’s not to love?

{hello} October

 

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In my mind October sounds like Autumn.  September still rings with the sound of warm afternoons, sunshine and those last few weeks of summer.  But October.  October tends to be associated with words like blustery and cozy and nesting and soup.  In October I tend to take stock of things- I make lists.  I clean out and tidy up.  I part with things no longer useful to us and stock up on things we may need for the coming months. Maybe it is a part of our nature, preparing for those long cold winter months where the weather isn’t welcoming and the idea of going out in it isn’t all that appealing.  There is something wonderful about sending people off to school or work for the day and then having the house to yourself, to put things in order, plan meals and feel productive.  Add to that a great playlist in the background, a few gorgeous candles burning and a fire going and you have what I would consider the perfect Autumn day~

I made THIS delicious soup last week.

I love a SIMPLE LOAF filled with spices.

I will be making THIS chai today- as chai is one of my favorites.

Have a wonderful October mes amies!

x

 

the {patio} project

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{found} 

Hello friends and happy {rainy} Saturday!

We are in the process of beginning a project here on the farm that I have been dreaming of for the past five or six years.  It has been something that I have wanted to do but other things seem to keep coming up instead. However, we are now past the planning stage and beginning the actual installation of a gorgeous set of French doors off the kitchen that will lead to a partially covered two-level deck and patio.  As I LOVE being outdoors as much as possible whenever the weather allows, this addition to the farm will enable us to dine outdoors much easier.  And I can’t tell you how excited I am to begin mornings sitting outdoors enjoying my coffee, tucked under a blanket in the cooler weather, my feet in the sun when it shines.

deck wall

 

Some of you may remember this photo of the south side of our home- a wall that is high and flat and has no interest.  It is the perfect spot to add an outdoor living space being just off the kitchen, with southern exposure and yet shady in the summer when it warms up.

 

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{found}

Our home has flat roofs but I wanted to add a slight pitch to the covered patio for interest and drainage.  I have always loved metal roofs- our barn has one section of them- and so I was excited to add a bit to our home.  This is what we hope to use.

 

 

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{found}

We have opted to use a decking material that will be easier to maintain.  We are going with a light gray which should look nice with the white accents.

 

 

lights

 {found}

 I am considering using these sweet rustic lights instead of a larger light feature in the covered area.  I haven’t decided yet but as we would rarely use proper light in this area (opting for candles and light from the fireplace instead) I am thinking I may prefer the ambiance of these lights.

 

 

fireplace

{found}

Finally, in phase two we will be adding a patio adjacent to the deck with a fireplace.  I like the height of this one as well as these paving stones.

 

 

I’m so excited to have a project like this to focus on as the dark wet months approach.  Come springtime it should be ready to enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

{Going forward with a new heart} & I hope you will come along

 

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I realize that this post is long overdue.  I still can’t believe it has been over a month since I returned from my trip.  I have wanted to share every incredible detail with you since I returned, but I have been having a difficult time trying to sort out all of my thoughts and memories from that life-changing time in Africa. I will tell you that it was so much more than I expected, I fell in love with the people and the place and I am already counting the days until I can return.  There seems to be so many “parts” of the trip- but one part has occupied much of my thoughts and time since I returned, and that is what I most want to share with you today.

 

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{a classroom- which is filled with children wanting to learn}

 

Education.  While we aren’t a family who pushes our children towards schooling we do encourage a love of learning.  We do a lot of research around here, as well as reading and asking questions about things that intrigue us.  For us, learning opens up a whole new world, it expands the possibilities and improves conditions.  There are so many ways to change the world, but for me education is the start of it all.

 

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{Dr. Isaac- the man behind the mission and someone I am so very grateful to have met}

 

While I was in Africa last month I met some amazing people with big dreams.  I also learned a lot about the plight of those in the outlying rural areas of southern Uganda.  When I have the opportunity to immerse myself into a culture that is drastically different than my own, I tend to absorb as much knowledge as I can and my brain immediately goes into problem solving mode.  I ask questions- a LOT of questions, and gather information on existing conditions as well as potential solutions.  I visit with people, find someone to translate if possible and really try to “hear” what it is the people in these difficult situations feel and think.  I put myself in their place and imagine how I would feel and what I would want to change.  I respect that different cultures may cope with things differently than mine, and so I don’t judge.  I hug as many children and women as I can and I smile as much as possible.  However it is always difficult to see suffering.

 

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{it’s a bit blurry but I absolutely treasure this photo}

This was especially true in a children’s hospital that I visited.  To see those mamas holding their beautiful children, so very sick and weak- it was a place I couldn’t even imagine having to be.  Their strength and love of their babies carried them through while they sat sharing a bed with another mama and her babe, sometimes for days on end.  It captured my heart. Their resilience as they watched children around them get better, or get worse must be heart wrenching.  But they were bound together, by love of their child, in a place where help wasn’t always available and the future was unknown.

 

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So I asked questions.  A lot of questions to my host, whom I have grown so fond of and gained so much respect for.  Why are they here?  What is the leading cause of illness?  What can be done?  How many are lost.  That one nearly sent me to the floor, my knees locked so not as to buckle at the thought.  When you read the numbers, hear the stories, it is easy enough to separate one’s self from it.  Especially when you are 7000 miles away from it all.  However, when you are standing there, in a ward with 20 beds filled with mamas and babies, two nurses and not enough plasma or medication for anyone, trust me- it does more than touch you.  It changes you.

 

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I also visited “the slum”- from here on out referred to as “the challenged community”.  I had heard so much, about danger and disease and sadness.  Driving up my stomach was in knots, so nervous at what I would find.  But I learned something that day.  Perception is an incredible thing.  Where one person sees danger and despair, another sees hope and joy and potential.  I was that person.  Yes, I saw dire living conditions, lack of food and garbage everywhere.  I saw bloated bellies from lack of nutrition, signs of AIDS on little heads and tattered clothing.  I also saw smiles- smiles that would light up the night sky.  I saw mamas carrying their wee ones on their back while washing or cleaning or cooking.  I saw children asking, no – begging.  But while one would think that they would be begging for food, or money or even something to play with, one would be wrong.  What they all asked for were school fees.  $20 a term.  $60 a year.  to. go. to. school.  And I remembered all the days my boys complained about going to school, and I thought, if only they knew…

 

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Home again, having had time to process it all and gather my thoughts, talking to some amazing people on the ground in Uganda and coming up with a plan.  I finally feel like I can do something.  For those of you who know me, you know how passionate I get about things that I truly believe in.  I truly believe in this.  I believe that education is the fundamental requirement for change.  I think that by educating people we can help them improve their situation.  I think that giving people things solves something in the same way a bandaid helps a cut.  However, I want to avoid the cut in the first place.

 

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{happy children living in truly challenging conditions}

 

My plan is twofold.  The first part is educating children.  I think that learning to read and write and do math is a step towards making a better life for themselves.  Educating children will empower them to in turn create a better, more productive society in their little village and beyond. It will provide confidence and allow them to dream.  And dreams are important and something that too few of the children I met have.

The second part of the equation is educating people- most likely the majority being women- on the importance of sanitation.  Do you know that most of the ailments that the children I saw in that children’s hospital were due to diarrhea, which most commonly occurs by the spread of disease that originates in human and animal fecal matter?  Do you know that much of the transmission of such things is due to lack of clean water, both for drinking and for washing?  And would you believe that many of the children in that hospital will be helped, only to return to the same conditions that they had been exposed to, and will end up back at the hospital again in the future?  It is a vicious cycle that really seems so solvable in my mind.  It is all about EDUCATION- educating people about how to keep things sanitary.  The importance of latrines and keeping fecal matter away from human access.  The importance of clean water and clean bodies.  The importance of proper nutrition on developing bodies and pregnant mamas.  And while this all seems like common sense to those of us living in modern civilization, for people living in remote areas with little education it is something that needs to be learned.  And I don’t mean just telling them what needs to be done.  I mean a team, working together, comprised of a doctor, educated volunteers and village elders, all of whom believe in the value of making these changes for the betterment of the village.  

 

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 {changing conditions such as these will make a vast difference in the health of the people in these communities}

And so we are doing a pilot project.  Dr. Isaac and Sharon, Godfrey and a number of other volunteers, whom I will introduce you to soon.  50 homes.  50 families.  Each hand picked based on need, willingness to change and conditions.  Each home will be thoroughly documented, from physical conditions and current nutritional intake to the health issues of the residents.  Photos will be taken, a map of the villages and the homes taking part will be created.  The team will then work together to educate the residents and help them make the changes necessary to improve their conditions, but also be available to assist in implementation of the changes.  People will be encouraged to work together to clean and build and support one another.  There will be ongoing support, a doctor will oversee the physical wellbeing of the residents in order to assess what conditions are contributing to any medical conditions.  Nutrition will be taught with a focus on the importance of proper nutrition for children and pregnant mothers. And hopefully, if all goes as we are praying it will, when this test group is finished, ailments will be down, sanitation will be improved and the people that have taken part will go forward living a healthier life.

 

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The emphasis of this program will be empowerment of these communities, giving them self-sufficiency by introducing healthy practices that will then give them the opportunity to look beyond just sustaining life, but actually building a life that offers more than simply surviving.

The work that has already been done is amazing.  The team has been out conducting community meetings and the response has been incredible.  People gather to listen to Dr. Isaac share the importance of hygiene and nutrition.  They discuss things as a group and make plans.  I loved what Dr. Isaac sent me in an email after the first meeting~  “They gave us seats but we didn’t take them up. We sat with them down because we didn’t want to look so special. We sat down In grasses like they did.”  He sends updates nearly every day with what has been done, how people have reacted, and the teams surprise at the unexpected moments that arise when meeting with families.  Below are a few bits and pieces of what has transpired since the beginning just a few short weeks ago~

“we have been in the community today and we had a meeting with our first group. it was so nice and they are really very interested in our program. we shared a lot and agreed that we shall be having two general meetings in every month and then for the rest of the days, we shall be doing family support activities. we shall be doing home visits and guiding families at family level and when we have the general meetings, we share the experience and also discuss new topics to put in practice. Kim, this was very nice and the community was so warm. on the spot, we noted that jiggers and bed bugs are a very big problem in this group. we have offered to help them have insecticides to spray and then we shall go on addressing the other issues.”

“the youngest girl prisca was so irritable with un-consolable crying, just looking at her feet, they were swollen. I examined her and i noted that clinically she had protein energy malnutrition(PEM) I realized she never gets any balanced diet with enough proteins, she has never had a chance to take milk  apart from breast milk which she no longer gets.she has never had an egg. we therefore gave some little money so that they can buy her some milk and eggs so that she can recover from this condition.”

(which led us to our newest project which I will share soon!)

 

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So, for now, I will be in fundraising mode.  I plan to re-open the shop with more inventory soon and ALL PROFITS will go directly to this program.  I will be looking for other ideas and am always open to suggestions.  You will find a lot more photos that are updated regularly on our FACEBOOK PAGE. Please head over and “like” us to be a part of it all.   I plan to go back in 2014 to take part in the meetings as well as capture it all on film.  By then the pilot program should be making a drastic impact on the communities it is a part of.  I can’t wait to see it for myself.  I hope you will join me on this amazing journey- it promises to change lives- and the future of the people involved.  You and I will be changed as well~

x

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 {a simple place of worship and one of the most peaceful places I have ever been}

 

 

 

Wishing you a {happy} weekend

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The weekend has arrived- the first since the boys went back to school this week.  I’m pretty sure I am more tired than they are, but why that is I don’t have a clue.  So far everyone is doing well, adjusting back into the routine known as “our lives” and coming home happy.  It feels good.  We are looking forward to a quiet few days around here- not a lot to do and the weather that invites relaxation, movies and warm food. Mr. Taylor and I will be celebrating our anniversary this weekend- most likely just hanging out together, seeing as we really do like each other quite a lot.  He makes me laugh, and he’s smart and such a great husband and father.

I hope that whatever you are planning this weekend, whatever your weather may be like, whether summer has decided to stick around for a while, autumn is attempting to push it’s way in or spring has sprung- that your weekend is wonderful.

x

A {Winner}

 

 

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Hello friends~

 

I apologize for not getting this posted yesterday!  #4 helped me by picking a number and I am excited to announce that Shari of Abundant Picnic is the winner of the Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays} course!  Shari- please email me at kimberlytaylorimages@gmail.com with your email information and I will pass it along to Jeanne.  I know you are going to love it!  For those of you who didn’t win, you can still join in on the inspiration.  Simply hit the “Buy Now” button on the bottom of THIS post to make sure you don’t miss this fabulous opportunity!

Happy Tuesday~

 

 

A {Poppy} exchange

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Hello friends and happy Saturday~

 

As some of you know, I love poppies.  I tend to snap photos of different varieties of them when I am out and about.  I have grown them in our gardens for a number of years now, and am not even sure where my first seeds came from.  Over time they have begun to cross and combine and I  now have a nice little collection of pink/lavender/fuscia singles and doubles that I harvest every year.

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When I was in France visiting a dear friend this month we came across one perfect little poppy growing along her pasture fence- a new addition for them.  It was similar to mine, and yet a different color all together.  I was excited and asked if she would exchange seeds when she had enough to share.  I would love to send her some of mine and add her little Normandy poppy to my collection!

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{I added these little gems this summer}

This morning while making coffee and emptying my dry poppy pods it occurred to me.  I have occasionally sent out seeds to friends who have been kind enough to share photos of them growing in their gardens (my friend Alexis had hers grow to nearly 7 feet in San Diego!!).  But how great would it be to do a poppy seed exchange?  I would be happy to send a little package of my seeds in exchange for any poppy seeds you have harvested.  You can see the variety I have in my gardens here, and if you grow them and harvest your seeds it would be wonderful to exchange a few.  What do you think?

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Have a wonderful weekend and for those of us who haven’t yet started school, enjoy these last few days~

x

 

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Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays}

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I wanted to share an inspiring opportunity with you that I know many of you will love.  Some time back I was a part of a fabulous online course called Creatively Made Home, which was hosted by Jeanne Oliver and included some pretty inspiring women.  I loved the interaction with the women who participated as well as sharing a part of what made our home special to us.  I am really excited to tell you that Jeanne is hosting another course and the line-up is FANTASTIC!  The women taking part in this series are absolutely wonderful inside and out.  This course, “Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays}” will be filled with ideas and inspiration for your home during the holiday season.  The timing is perfect as it is early enough to really begin to figure out what it is that make the holidays special to you and your family, and how you can create a feeling of magic in your home.

 

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The course description from Jeanne~

 

Join eight of my friends and me as we celebrate loving on your home, friends and family through the holidays.
You will be encouraged as you hear honestly from each woman about the times things did not go as planned during their holidays.
You will hear honest discussions about their own journey of hospitality.
You will walk away inspired as you hear about the traditions and special moments from their childhood and how they create special moments with their families today.
You will be able to watch beautiful videos with gift giving ideas, decorating projects and favorite family recipes.
We all want to create authentic moments with our friends and families.
We all desire for the ones we love to leave our homes knowing that they were welcomed and loved.
My hope is that this course will help you slow down and find the joy and beauty in the holidays.
*****
*There will be 30+ project videos
These will be incredible videos that include everything from cooking, gift giving and decorating
*Tons of beautiful house photos from each of the nine women
*Supply Lists and PDFs for each project
*A digital recipe book of the recipes shared in this course

 

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I am also excited to be giving away one spot in this course. Simply leave a comment in the comment section and I will draw the winner this coming Sunday, August 25th.  If however you want to get in on an early bird savings, Jeanne is offering the course for $48 from now until Monday August 26th.  After that, the course will run $58.  When you register you will have access to the course for ONE FULL YEAR- plenty of time to get through the content and create the holidays that you have always wanted.

You can sign up for the course by using the paypal button below.

 

 




 

 

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and I left a bit of my {heart} there~

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There are so many wonderful things I want to share with you.  Right now I am in the process of trying to sort them all out and figuring out how to share them in a way that will let you truly understand all of the beauty I saw while in Africa.  I know that there will be posts that are more specific in the coming weeks but I want to begin to share some of the beauty I saw.  It feels a bit scattered still, but seriously- the photos are so – I can’t even find a word to describe them- beautiful or incredible doesn’t really capture it in my mind…

I want you to know that it was an incredible trip to a place that I immediately fell in love with.  While the trip itself wasn’t as long as I had anticipated it would be, I have no doubt that I will return there within the next year.  The beauty and joy of the people there completely captured my heart and I have already begun working on a plan of my own, a plan that I feel so passionate about.  I met some incredible people who both inspired and motivated me to do something. I  left knowing that I was given this opportunity in order to open my eyes to the power I have to make a difference in the life of someone I don’t even know.  I saw a world where daily life is a constant struggle, and the idea of material goods doesn’t really amount to much but things like food and school fees are everything.  I met women who work so incredibly hard every single day to make sure that their families were cared for and I wanted to carry some of their burden.  I saw children carry heavy jerry cans of dirty water long distances every day and my mama heart wanted to do it for them.  I saw mothers sitting in a children’s hospital, two and three to a bed holding their beautiful but terribly ill children for days on end and I had the opportunity to tell them, face to face, that I thought they were the strongest women I had ever met; that I couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be in a hospital with not enough plasma or medication.  Where most of the children’s IV ports are in their heads as their little veins are simply not healthy enough to insert them in their arms.  Where each ward has upwards of 20 beds – and remember, a bed holds 2-3 children with their mamas at a time- and two nurses on staff.  And my mama head thought “truly, how can this be?”.  You can see a video of where I was HERE.

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I visited a place where people lived in the meekest of conditions- referred to as a slum by many but I really dislike that word- so that Edwin and I could distribute water filters.  Thanks to your support I was able to bring 29 water filters with me on this journey, and five of them ended up here.  And while I had been warned that it would be incredibly difficult, I insisted on going.  And me being me, I also insisted on interacting.  So Dr. Isaac (Edwin’s brother for whom I am so incredibly grateful and excited to work with again in the future) said that I must cut all my nails and remove my ring and if I were to hug those children and hold their hands I was not to touch ANYTHING on my face until I had returned home and thoroughly washed.  And I was NOT to kiss a single child’s head- this was non-negotiable.  And so it was done and off we went.  My stomach was in knots on our way as I was so worried that I would cry and I desperately did NOT want to cry.  And then we arrived, and truly, all I saw was beautiful smiling faces.  Yes, conditions were beyond what anyone should have to survive in, but they were surviving.  Children were without parents in some cases, and yes, that broke my heart a little.  But when  I pulled out the fruit leathers, I was surrounded and loving every moment of it.  It was magical- it truly was.

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So I want to thank you- all of you who sent me grace, and prayed for grace.  Because it worked- it truly did. There were times when I felt so – giddy is the only word I can really find to describe it, or maybe joy-filled – and I wondered more than once if something was wrong with me.  I wondered why I wasn’t sad, why I wasn’t crying and feeling helpless.  But then I realized- how could I be sad when those around me weren’t? Yes, their life was hard, but it was their life, and when a chance to smile or feel happy arose, they grabbed it.

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I will be sharing more over the coming days and weeks as I get through the hundreds of photographs I took. Every time I see them it brings me back to that place and even though I knew I would love it, I had no idea how deeply it would bury itself into my soul.

x

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{the day} that they became a family

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Dear friends,

It is 9:30 pm here but it might as well be 2 am, completely exhausted as I am.  It has been an incredible day, for the most part impossible to put into words that would truly capture the magic that I feel filled this place today.  I can’t begin to describe what it felt like to see 8 beautiful faces at the gate, each with a simple bag in hand- a bag that held all of their worldly belongings.  Everything they owned.  In a bag- a small bag.  Can you even comprehend what that would be like?  Personally I couldn’t fit my toiletries into one of those bags, better yet my entire world.  And yet, there they were.

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 I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to stand outside the gates of the very first place that they could really call home.  A place where they wouldn’t sleep on a dirt floor in a log and mud hut with a rusted tin roof.  A place where the people you lived with really are your family- not by birth, not by blood, but by divine intervention.  But there they were, waiting so patiently to enter, to sit around a table and be welcomed, to hear what life would be like in their new home, and finally, to be welcomed into their new rooms, complete with beds with mattresses and bedding, a metal box to hold their own towel, toothbrush and toiletries, a wash basin and a mosquito net.  On the top of each bed, a name plate hand-painted and laminated by my dear friend April who lovingly created each one.

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The evening was spent learning the ropes, unpacking their bags and putting their possessions in their metal boxes (which are 2 feet long and 12 inches high), finding common ground with “new siblings”, washing up before dinner, sharing a family meal made by the two “Aunties”- both named Sister Aida and both absolutely loving and wonderful around a long table in a thatched-roof hut.

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After dinner it was back to the children’s house where I found my way to the girls’ rooms- two rooms connected by a doorway with no door, three beds in each.  As one bed has yet to receive it’s resident I claimed it as my own and the girls joined me for snuggles with Hope and Desire sang songs and danced for us.  Sweet Hadeja took a cherished handmade necklace out of her metal box and carefully placed it on my neck.  She had given me one of the only things she had- and I was touched more than I can ever explain.  I then took out my packages of glow in the dark bracelets and we had such fun putting them on everyone’s wrists (Sister Aida included) and then turning off the lights to dance around.  You can imagine how difficult it might be to settle them down after that, but these girls, they are gems.  After a short while they were all in their beds- which were now decorated with all of their glowing bracelets-  waiting for me to tuck them in.  I had an idea and ran into the main house to ask mom if she had the hand-knitted bears she had brought.  I grabbed 5 of them (5 girls and 1 boy arrived today) and brought them back to the girls rooms’.  You have NEVER heard five little girls squeal and giggle as much as these girls did over those little bears.  I gave them each one while tucking them in, kissing them on the forehead and telling each of them how incredibly happy we were that they were there.  When I left Sister Aida was tucking them in for the night as well and all was quiet.  Absolute heaven.

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{faces}

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For those of you who follow along on Instagram and Facebook these photos aren’t new.  However I wanted to share the faces I have come to love over the past week.  These children are so filled with smiles and exuberance and endless giggles.  They screech and hide behind the bravest of the crew and then come forward in an attempt to show bravery.  Never have I seen anyone with less and yet rarely have I seen anyone happier.  For those of us living in very different circumstances it is so difficult to imagine, and yet, when I leave here I hope to bring some of what brings these little people joy home with me.  They have life.  Each day they get is a gift.  Every meal is a blessing.  I think they are thankful and that is something I want to be more of.  Thankful.  They are generous little souls, sharing their laughter and love freely- and I am feeling incredibly thankful for my time with them~

Who says Disney is the {happiest place on earth}

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Hello friends,

I wanted to share a bit of what I have been completely blissed out on these past two days.  These are only iPhone pics but that is because I didn’t want to overwhelm them with the big camera until they were a bit used to my face.  I must tell you I am completely smitten by these gorgeous children.  The village is filled with them, calling out “Mazungu!” (thanks Shelly!) – their term for a white person.  Some come running up, full of smiles and wanting to hold my hand or touch my white skin.  If someone has already claimed both hands, and arm or a bit of my shirt to hold onto will do.  Some approach smiling shyly but when I turn to say hello they scamper away giggling.  Others- young babies mostly- simply cry when they see me.  :)

As we are still working on the project and the kids haven’t yet moved in, I have been spending time with some of them in the village and also at the orphanage right next door.  Yesterday I posted a video of children singing on Instagram.  (kimberlytaylorimages) Front and center was Vanessa- a child that I was determined to get to smile at me, even if she was only 3- the cursed potential crying age…  :)  I returned today as the children had performed at church and said that they would sing for me while I recorded them with my camera.  It was beautiful- those sweet voices singing about their belief in Jesus, so pure and genuine.  Afterwards they organized a soccer football match for me to watch, and while they were organizing teams the girls taught me some foot games and hand games- like we did as children (tell me you remember “miss mary mack mack mack all dressed in black black black…).  These games however were done in Lusoga, so I didn’t understand a word.  I am finding that I wish I could speak the language as I can only imagine what those cheeky children are saying about me knowing I haven’t a clue!  :)

So Miss Vanessa found her way to me this afternoon while I sat watching the match.  I tried not to pay too much attention for fear of scaring her off.  Before long, however, she had made her way to my lap, where she promptly fell asleep.  Bliss I tell you, pure bliss.

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{Africa 2013}

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Hello friends~

It’s hard to believe that after all of the months of planning and preparing, I am a mere two days from leaving home and embarking on this incredible adventure.  My bags are mostly packed, preparations have been made for when I am away from my boys (thank you Nannie and Grandpa Rick!) and I think I am ready to go.  I’m pretty sure you have some idea of how excited I am to arrive in Africa and start loving on those kids.  I am really hoping to take you along on the journey and while I don’t know how much blogging I will be doing, I will try my best to instagram as much as possible- you can find me at kimberlytaylorimages  – and posting on my facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/KTI.kimberlytaylorimages

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I hope that you will follow along and share in this amazing journey.  I promise to share my photos when I return.  Thank you endlessly to all of you who have supported this endeavor from the beginning- from your kind words, encouragement and donations.  I hope you know how much your love means to me.

See you when I return my friends!

x

 

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{A Winner!}

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I apologize for not getting this done yesterday but alas, I couldn’t seem to step away from the gardens- even with this heat!  The winner of the fabulous Raven + Lily wristlet is Rachel Schindler!  Rachel- if you would be so kind as to send me your mailing address via email at kimberlytaylorimages@gmail.com  I will get it sent out to you!

Have a wonderful week!

x

 

Fabulous {wristlet} give-away!

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Hello friends,

 

After all of the recent emails asking for YOUR help, I would like to do something nice for you.  I have been so appreciative of all of the wonderful support, kind words and encouragement- it means so much.  I have less than a month before I depart and have finally been able to really focus on the packing, the collecting of items I plan to bring and the preparing to be away for three weeks (not a small endeavor with this little farm and all of it’s inhabitants).

 

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I’d like to introduce you to Raven + Lily.  I came across a wonderful source for items that were created by women, for women to empower women world-wide.  You can learn more about them here.  I bought this little wristlet and while I love it, I plan to purchase another for myself.  I love supporting such an amazing company and hope that you will visit their website to learn more.  They have some wonderful items available and doesn’t it feel good to know that the treasure you are purchasing was made by women who were compensated fairly for their work?

 

If you want to be entered into the draw to win this sweet bag leave a comment.  I will draw a name on Sunday!

Good luck,

x

 

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A Fabulous Offer from {Tippy Stockton}

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Hello friends,

I am still trying to process and wrap up the auction details but want to say once again how incredibly grateful I am for your continued support.  You are all amazing.

 

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I also wanted to let you know that there is still time to pick up something lovely for yourself or as a gift and contribute to the children’s home in Uganda.  My sweet friend Patricia at Tippy Stockton has been offering to donate 25% of her sales this week to the home.  Today is the last day and if you still want to contribute, you can head over to her site and see her gorgeous pieces!

 

Thanks again friends,

x

 

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