friday goodness, gifts that give back & other awesome miscellany

Hello, my darlings.  I have so much to share with you as we round out this week, and it includes much goodness.  So let's dive in, shall we?

First of all, this has been an great week:  I'm finally, officially in the Christmas spirit.  Click over to Bliss Your Heart to see the evidence.

Secondly, also on Bliss Your Heart, I've posted some of my favourite computer-created gifts that I've given over the years.  So if you are looking for something thoughtful and last-minute to stuff a stocking or give to your kid's favourite teacher, please take a look.

Now. Thirdly:

The lovely folks over at have asked me to share their suggested gift guide, a list of organizations with whom they work and for whom they advocate, and whose products can help change the world.  Having purchased some gifts from some of these organizations myself this year, I was only too happy to do it.  And so, without further ado:

First, the organizations we actually visited in Kenya:

Amani Ya Juu -- This is a "sewing and reconciliation project for marginalized women in Africa," and they are seriously fantastic.  When we visited them in Kenya I bought a ton of stuff from them -- and have bought even more since returning to the US.  They have everything from jewelry (including the brightly coloured bracelets above) to quilts to placemats to Christmas ornaments, and the quality is exceptional.  Best of all, they have an online store.  You can read all about them here, and shop their products here.

The Leakey Collection -- This is another organization we had a chance to visit with in Kenya, and they're also highly terrific.  Based in the Rift Valley, they use natural elements such as fallen wood, grass and porcelain, to make beautiful jewelry and other products.  You can see and shop their products here.

And now, for other amazing organizations:

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV infection and eliminating pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention, care, and treatment programs, is offering M*A*C Cosmetics and Fidelity Denim's Special Edition Women's Jeans to help fight pediatric AIDS.

Charity: Water is a not-for-profit whose mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.  They have an awesome online store selling everything from notepads to hoodies to bracelets to portable speakers, and profits are used to support their work.  Go take a look.

Comfort the Children International is an organization focused on educational, environmental, economic, health and community development in Kenya to create sustainable change.  They're selling these very cool reusable coffee sleeves, made by a group of women in Kenya to help provide their children an education.  This would be a perfect stocking-stuffer for the coffee junkie in your life, and look! It's good for the environment! 

Product (RED) -- This organization (which is allied with ONE) partners with many brands you probably recognize.  By purchasing specifically branded (RED) products, 50% of those profits are donated by (RED) to The Global Fund, specifically for the purpose of fighting HIV/AIDS.  And seriously, you likely already use many of these brands:  Gap, Apple, Converse, Starbucks (Starbucks!), American Express -- and the list goes on and on.  Please go take a look, and consider shopping at these brands for specifically (RED)-branded products.  I've actually purchased several gifts from here this year.

(And now, permit me a bit of a sidebar:  how adorable is this (RED) video?

 Too adorable, is what I'm saying.)

And finally, click here for a free download of Joy to the World by the David Crowder Band on the ONE website.  Just because ONE is awesome.

With that, I'm off for the weekend, folks.  But stay tuned, next week begins 12 Days of Chookooloonks: for 12 days straight I will be offering some pretty fabulous giveaways from some pretty fabulously talented folks.  I can't wait to share them with you.

Have a great weekend, friends.


SongNo caminho do bem by Tim Maia.  Hat tip to my friend, talented photographer Xanthe Berkeley, for turning me on to this song.