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Avec Amour : December 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top 5 Gifts that Give Back

Christmas Presents. I just spent 5 hours shopping, spent more money than i want to talk about, and i am still not done shopping for Christmas presents.

Don't get me wrong - i LOVE giving gifts. I would actually rather spend all my money on my friends and family then get something for myself. However, while sitting in a sea of full reusable shopping bags, I couldn't shake the fact that i was spending a lot of money. And all for people who were just as fortunate as i am - we all have new, fashionable clothes, and at least one type of Apple product.

But in the spirit of the season, most people are looking for ways to give back - Here are some ways that some of my friends and myself have chosen to give gifts that give back this year:

1. Mocha Club/FashionABLE

Chances are, you've heard me talk about Mocha Club at one point or another. It's a charity that encourages people to give up 2 coffee drinks a month (a $7 per month donation) to help those in need in Africa. This can mean clean water, education, health care, or food and shelter. They also have a retail store that sells everything from hoodies to comedy cd's.

My new favorite sector of Mocha Club is called FashionABLE - they've created sustainable business for women in Africa. The women hand make these scarves, and all of the money goes to them and their community. I've already bought a couple of these for myself, and have a few on the way for Christmas gifts this year.

2. Hatian Creation

If you don't know my roommate, she is moving to Haiti in about 6 months to work with a missions organization for at least 2 years. Her heart is in Haiti, even if her mind isn't already. The other day she posted a link to Hatian Creations, and they have adorable bags for sale. Once again, these are hand made by women, and is creating a good life for them. 

If Haiti is on your mind to support, i highly suggest my roommate Ashlee as the recipient of your support - here is here blog if you wanna hear more about her upcoming mission adventure

3. Invisible Children

Most of you have probably heard of Invisible Children - they've been on a mission to free the child soldiers forced to fight in the civil war in Uganda. Many of my friends (including my best friend Ashley!) have been roadies and interns for IC, raising awareness and support. They have all sorts of t shirt type merch, plus they have dvd and hand made bracelets (made by the kids that the dvd's are about). Pretty cool stuff,

4. Tom's Shoes

Tom's Shoes - every hipsters dream. These shoes are mostly cloth, and super trendy. Not to mention, they look great with skinny jeans. The best part about Tom's Shoes, is that for ever pair of shoes you purchase, a second pair is made and donated to a child in need. They call it "one for one" - and i call it awesome. 

5. Charity: Water

Clean water. It's such a simple concept to us, but so many people in the world are unable to get clean water in their village. More people die from lack of clean water than war every year. I just learned that Charity: Water has merchandise - cool stuff like phone covers, bracelets, and some hoodies and t's. The organization raises money for villages in third world countries to dig wells; this way the village has access to the clean water they need. 

My friends Jonathan and Lindsey are skipping the gift part of Christmas this year - just asking friends and family to help them raise $5,000 to build a well in Africa. They are trying to raise the funds by the end of February. (Did i mention how proud I am of them?)

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hurrication: Part III

2005: Katrina and Wilma

Like i said earlier, Katrina hit us as a mere tropical storm (Floridian translation: typical summer rainstorm with a little extra wind). We almost couldnt believe that the same storm we walked through the middle of to get to class, ended up causing so much damage.

In October, PBA got a Fall Break - this translates into Private Christian School 4 day weekend for no apparent reason. Of course, a 4 day weekend is always ok with me. At the time i worked for a church with my friend Jonathan Frazier (whom i just call "Fraz" - and whose grown up photog work you can see here), and it was about 45 minutes away on the interstate. We were both logging a lot of miles on our cars, and one of the families saw the need and gifted us a mini van free of charge! The only catch; the minivan was in Indiana. This didnt stop us - we just planned Road Trip '05 (aka, RT05). 

We bought one way flights to Indianapolis, arranged for a friends dad to pick us up, and plotted our trek back to Florida in less than 4 days: this included staying with a friend of a friend in Nashville, seeing Team Bama II in Birmingham, Savannah for Fraz' soccer game, and sleeping in Jacksonville our last night before heading back to Palm Beach to resume real life again.

I was thrilled. This was my first long road trip that didn't involve a youth camp or less than 2 hr drive - it entailed multiple stops and adventures for sure.

Night 1: Indy/Nashville

Top Left: me mapping out our route; Fraz enjoying a frosty
Bottom Left: NINJA TRAINING; ....it was 53 and we're from Fl. we were freeeeezing.

Slighty rocky start.... a busted iPod, no CD's, coudln't stay awake, despite the frigid weather, and animal crackers (which we named "the revolution") were our only source of energy. But we arrived at our destination and each of us separately fell in love..... with Nashville.
Believe it or not.... my first time EVER seeing Fall Leaves!!!!!

There isnt really any reason that we both fell in love with Nashville in those short 6 hours. But enough i guess to where we both applied to transfer the next year - Well, i filled out my application but never sent it in. Fraz applied, got in, and moved less than a year later. it was the first of many Nashville trips for me.

The rest of the road trip seemed like a blur after Nashville, but we still had a blast. I think we spent most of the 
 Sunsets in Savannah      more driving... weird.

Our ghetto iPod player.

those are sad faces. not monkey faces.
sad for our little road trip to be coming to an end....
....or so we thought.

Our last night on the trip, we got the phone call that Hurricane Wilma was rapidly approaching, and that campus was shut down. again. at that point, Hurrication 2005 began. Or RT05 continued... whichever way you wanna think about it.

This lead to even more driving. But this time, all within the state of Florida. Satellite Beach (Jonathan's hometown), Orlando, Tampa, and St Augstine packed full of friends.
        Orlando visiting Mandi   Tampa with Fraz' highschool friends

St Augstine
"i wish i knew how to quit you"

We got to continue our adventure for another full WEEK. That's right, once again, a long weekend turned into 10+ days. I feel like i could write pages on this. But for your sake, i wont :)

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Hurrication: Part II

September 2004: Hurricane Frances (and consequently Jeanne, and Ivan... and later Karl). 

It was 3 weeks into college, and only 2 days after our labor day weekend holiday, that we were alerted that Palm Beach Atlantic University would be evacuated in the anticipation of Hurricane Frances. In the true college spirit, one of the guys in our group of friends stood on a chair in the Caf (read: dining hall) and announced that we would be leaving in 3 hours and driving to Alabama. and that anyone was welcome to join us. That night, we each packed a duffel, and prepared for a few nights of adventure in another state. 12 of us divided up into three cars and made the 12 hour drive to Birmingham.

And boy, was it an adventure.

Top: Deutschle, Otown, Meadows, Ben Friday,
Mid: Amy, Kim, Brook, Tiff, Me,
Bottom: Dave Bley, Matt, and Nate

That was our crew. Unfortunately, this is the only photo that exists of the 12 of us. This is mainly due to the fact that i was the only one to take photos on the trip... and my camera erased itself on our second to last day of the trip. Yes, i cried.

At this point, our weekend trip turned into 10 days - power had been lost at the school, and we were offically on a new type of school holiday: Ladies and Gentlemen, we were on Hurrication. Hurrication became one of the best things ever. We were gifted 10 days, worry free, to frollick around another state... and not have to make up one day of class? This was delightful. The news got even better with the threat of Ivan and Jeanne - they weren't allowed to let us back onto campus until after all had passed; this became a 15 day vacation we would never forget.

The family we stayed with, the Friday Family, were one of the most hospitable families ive ever been blessed to know. They housed, fed, and entertained 12 college kids for more than 2 weeks. They sacrificed their personal space, own beds, time, and most likely their sanity; They gladly gave up their picturesque movie theater style basement for us to watch Top Gun on repeat, and lay in their backyard reading God's word and talking to eachother. On top of all of that, we got to go to the Birmingham zoo, horseback riding, home cooked family dinners, dozens and dozens of chocolate cakes, an Auburn football game (the first one of the season, and my first college game ever!), and spend 4 days at a lake house, playing boats, jet skiis and rope swings. This was heaven.

Our crew grew by three, when a trio of other PBA Hurrication orphans drove through birmingham looking for a place to stay for the night. At this point, the local media got word of Team Bama (the nickname that had developed) and wanted to interviewed us and run a news story on our journey and stay in Alabama. 

Most of us and one of the newbies (Reid!!) the night we got interviewed.

From that news exposure, many members of the community started to cook us dinner, send cookies, and even give the family money and gift cards to help compensate. For the entire 15 days we spent away, i spent a grand total of $50. Needless to say, 12-15 college coeds in close quarters lead to many quarrels, but only ones that made us close knit friends and left hilarious stories to be told for years to come. It was such a blessing of a trip for all of us, and something i'll remember forever. 

After being back at PBA for only 2 weeks, we were evacuated for another long weekend, but this time only journey across the state to Fort Myers. The only truly noteworth story from this trip was the prank phone calls i endured, that ended with me being pretty annoyed at some of the Team Bama boys. But regardless, we still had a great time with our friends :) And couldn't wait for the next hurrication to happen.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Invention of Hurrication

***Hurricane Katrina, known to the East Coast of Florida as Tropical Storm Katrina, was just another rain cloud that passed us by. It took place during our Welcome Week at School, and i still mourn for the families that endured the treacherous storm as it passed through the gulf and landed in Louisiana. I have been beyond blessed never to have to endure a storm like that, nor would i want to. I do not write any of this blog with disrespect to any who have survived, and i completely understand the severity of the situation***

When i was a little kid, i was obsessed with the weather - specifically hurricanes. I told my mom that if i wasn't a lawyer, i'd be a weather girl (funny, neither of those happened). But I would force my family to tune into the Weather Channel for the Tropical Update at the :50's of every hour for my 8 minute fix of named storms, dropping barometers, and new predicted paths. The idea of evacuating or stocking up the hurricane survival kit was thrilling to me. I would count down the days until the first week of June when Publix would start to provide this years updated chart of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico; brand new maps just begging me to start plotting points in different colors from my 10 pack of Crayola Markers.

Every year i would just hope i would be able to experience a tiny bit of what a real storm was like. I remember my grandparents telling me about the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and my Dad telling me about Hurricane Donna in my own hometown. He said that when the storm got close and the eye was approaching, all of the water was drained from the river that runs just a couple from my home.... i still can only imagine what that would look like, and wish i was there to see it.

At 6 years old, i waited in anticipation of Hurricane Andrew. I starred out of the sliding glass windows in my living room, "X"ed with duct tape, hoping for a few gusts of wind or maybe a big tree branch to fly by. Obviously having no idea what kind of destruction could have come on us, i actually prayed that it would stay a strong storm until it got to Fort Myers. Unluckily for my imagination, but very luckily for my family, friends, and hometown, Andrew barely sprinkled on the West Coast. Infact, the most devastating thing that happened to my home during Hurricane Andrew was the fact that someone told my mom a trick to getting duct tape off of windows was peanut butter. We put peanut butter over the tape.... and ended up having to clean up peanut butter, and still spend a ton of time scraping tape from our 4 large sliding glass windows (note: apparently this method has worked for others... but unfortunately not for us :).

I wouldn't experience another hurricane again until i was 18 years old and packing for college when Hurricane Charley hit Fort Myers in August 2004. I packed for 3 days in a house with boarded up windows (aka, no light), no power or air conditioning. Definitely no fun, but my dad and sister and i did get to go outside during the height of the storm and jump just to see how far the wind blew us the other direction. My house and family were fine, other than a few shingles, but it was more of an annoyance than anything else.

I had no idea that in the next 26 months of my life, i'd experience 8 more hurricanes; and would have a blast with every single one.

The next few blogs will be the chronicles of my Hurricane journeys throughout college; otherwise known as Hurrication.

(Note: this link is to urban dictionary. but i have no doubt that PBA students created this word)

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