Valient Viewers of Braver Homes and Gardens

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Start Something that Matters - GIVEAWAY!

Do you have a message to spread or a mission to accomplish but don’t know how? Have you ever wondered if it was possible to help your community or solve a societal problem while earning a living at the same time? Or do you have the next Big Idea but have no idea how to go about implementing it? Is the economy forcing you giving you a chance to reshape your own goals or lifestyle?

My sister, Carrie, and I just finished reading a book that might help. Ever hear of Blake Mycoskie, founded TOMS Shoes? You buy a pair and a pair gets donated to a child in need. “One for one”, he calls it.

His book, “Start Something That Matters” tells the story of how the company was founded and its social mission. Mycoskie also goes on to inspire us to take our passions and DO something with them. Everyone is passionate about something –social justice issues, their faith, a political issue, a favorite charity. We all have great ideas that we’d love to turn into profitable products or a message we’d love to spread.

Carrie has been working in the community service field and decided to enter the corporate world. Here are her thoughts on the book:

"The book was an easy read and very thorough. After reading the book, I found I was comforted in a way I did not expect. My work in the non-profit sector was ending and I was headed for a commission-based job. I thought that non-profit work and corporate sales required two different frames of mind. But I was wrong. When I learned more about Blake and his life journey, I could see the connection between the two. He showed that it is entirely possible to cross back and forth from a steady corporate job to helping start or grow a movement. We can be of many mindsets! There can be balance.

I will say that the tone was, at times, a bit pompous. And some examples were redundant. But if you are in a quandary about whether to stay in the corporate world and you think that doing so means that you can’t do non-profit work or support (or even start!) a good cause, this book will show you that this simply isn’t so!"

As for me, I’m an accountant so I read this like a business book. My take on the book is, if you don’t need yet another self-help, motivational book than skip this one. But if you are looking for a guide for how to begin turning your passion into something that matters, this is a great book. Whether you’re looking to do this as a non-profit/mission based venture or you’re looking to launch a business that is for profit, yet meaningful this book is very helpful.

Although he writes about his social mission of getting shoes to kids who have none, this is really a great explanation of how to market your idea, how to find resources when you’re on a shoestring budget, and how to build trust and rapport, both with your staff and with your customer base. He really explains how to make your mission resonate with others.

I do agree with my sister, though, that the tone is a bit pompous. In all honestly, I haven’t ever bought TOMS shoes and probably won’t. We Americans tend to think that all we have to do to “help” is just throw money at a problem. As in “Hey I just bought a $60 pair of TOMS shoes…now I don’t have to feel bad that there’s kids in the world who don’t have shoes!” Not quite.

This blog is about being brave as a homemaker and a homeowner. Part of why I started my blog was reading the sites of so many “mom blogs”, "hobby blogs" and “homemaker blogs” started by women who just wanted to share what they know with other women! But some of them got a little brave and turned their “mom passions” and “homemaking or hobby passions” into cookbooks, sewing books, or even their own TV shows. If you’re looking to get brave and turn your passion into Something that Matters, check out the book.

Mycoskie’s “one for one” mission works here, too. You buy a book and he donates a book to a needy child. Can’t beat that!

Want a free copy? I’m giving one away. To enter the giveaway just:

1. Become a follower of this blog over on the sidebar.

2. Read any other post on this blog and leave a comment

3. Do something today that matters. Even if it’s just doing the dishes.

The giveaway will stay open through April 19th. I’ll draw a winner randomly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Braver Than Storebought: Swifter Dust Mop Sheets

When I bought my house there was nasty flattened used-to-be white-but-now-it's-grey carpet in my living room.  I told Dad of All Trades that I was going to rip it out and refinish the floors.  "Beeeee careful", he warned in his Dad voice.  "You might not like what you see under there". 

Well, I ripped up the floor anyway with as much pleasure as a little kid gets from ripping off a scab.  And, sure enough, wood floors underneath!  I wish I had before and after pics. 

Anyway, I LOVE my wood floors, although next time, I'd hire a professional to do it.  That floor sander is hard on a girl's arms, let me tell ya!   With no carpeting in the house, I go through a LOT of Swifter floor dusters.  I love them, but it gets expensive. 

But why dust floors when you can sew, right?  Except that sewing generates a lot of scrap fabric.  Like this pile of waste from this project and a pair of pj pants that I made:   

It pains me to have to toss out such big scrap pieces.  Then inspiration struck.  Expensive Swifter dusters....lots of fabric scraps....aha!!  I can make my own duster cloths! 

This was a great project to do in front of the TV since it requires absolutely no brain power.  Added bonus, my husband to be was sitting next to me watching me be so resourceful.

I will, of course, remind him of this resourcefulness when we get in our first fight over how much money I'm spending on fabric. 

I laid out a real Swif*er dust cloth on top of a scrap and cut around it. 

The I did it a zillion times more til my whole pile was cut to the size of dust cloths. 

As you can see, it works famously! 

Of course, not all fabrics would work.  The yellow was fleece and the pink was flannel, both of which will generate enough static to pick up dust.  Satins and other polyesters won't work as well.  But hey, using up some scraps is better than tossing them all in the trash, right!  And it's FREE.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm Back

Wow. My last post was February 7th. That's just sad.  But not because I don't want to blog anymore.  I've just been incredibly BUSY.  My June wedding is fast approaching so I really have to use every ounce of free time wisely and, unfortunately, blogging has taken a seat in the way-back.

(When I was a kid, my family had a station wagon and the coveted seats were in the very back.  And they faced backwards.  You could do all kinds of screwing around back there and Dad couldn't see a thing. It was great!).

So, here's a summary of some of my business:  In the last two months I have been:

Working on carving out some of this mess here - -
 - - into some space for The Conductor to move his things into once we're married.

I planned and hosted a baby shower for my sister.  We did a "First Lady" theme since she was expecting the first girl in our family.  Princesses are SO overdone, if you ask me.

I also welcomed my new niece, Vee.

I went with The Conductor to the wedding of a good friend of his.  Isn't her dress pretty?  She wore her late mother's headpiece, too.  I'm so jealous of them - they live in a city (Grand Rapids, MI), but they get to have chickens!!!

 Isn't her tablescape pretty?  The plant in the glass vase next to the name tag was our party favor. It's an air plant which I've never heard of.  But they really do live just on air.  They don't need water or dirt.  Crazy cool!

Speaking of plants, I've started a bunch of seedlings.  I'm trying not to plant anything that will need much attention come late June since I'll be getting married and honeymooning than.  Most of what I'm starting are flowers and herbs that won't really need me or things that can stay underground for a good long time.

And I've been working like mad doing my wedding stuff.  I'm doing a lot of DIY type things but we're moving at a good clip.  We also finished one of the two classes required by our church.  The first one is a survey to see if both of us are on the same wavelength.  Except for a few "no big deal" kind of differences, we really are in focus. 

So much so, that we can predict the punchlines of each other's lame jokes. 

I'm also working feverishly on making my own dress.  Sewing it will be a breeze.  The hardest part is finalizing the design.  Essentially, anything I see, I could conceivably "do".  So, I can take the neckline from one, the bodice from another, the sleeves from that one, a sash here, a train there, a ruffle from that one, an overlay from over there....and before you know it, I'll have the tackiest dress ever.  It's been hard to edit but I think I'm there.  In the meantime, the petticoat is coming along nicely. 

And, as if I don't have enough on my plate, I had a terrifying encounter with this:

I know....I'm a gardener.  I garden barefoot where bugs are.  I pick plants that have bugs on them.  I've brought produce inside and found bugs on it. 

Bugs are a part of life. 


Yea.  This thing was just.....there....on the middle of the floor.  I have no idea where he came from.  It's still wintery here so there were no windows open or anything.  I don't bring food in there.  Where he came from and where he was going, I have no idea. 

Look at him!  As big as a bobbin.  I am not kidding when I say I spent the next three hours freaking out that he was in there because he's the kind of worm that likes to eat fabric. 

I can handle bugs of any kind in any situation - - but not near my fabric stash.  Ugh!

Anyway, I did get a few more projects done which I will hopefully post about soon.  I'm here, my dear 12 followers!  I've just been crazy busy!