Fair Trade subscription box review

Instagram is my social media preference for many reasons. I seriously think it has taken the place of blogs in many ways and with so many gorgeous images to look at on a daily basis, it's easy to see the appeal. One of the things I love about Instagram is how quickly I can find other people, blogs and companies that share the same passions I do by searching through hashtags. 

Many people have found me through some common hashtags I use on Instagram: 


And I have found many companies through hashtags they use:


One such company that I connected with was Box of Blessings by International Blessings, a fair trade subscription box. Sarah Barnett, the founder of the company reached out to me through Instagram about trying their Box of Blessing. My love of fair trade products knows no bounds, so I was delighted to learn about a new subscription box focused exclusively on it.

The subscription can be for 1, 3 or 6 months. Each box contains 3-4 handmade items or pieces of jewelry made from around the world from impoverished nations, empowering artisans to earn a sustainable wage through admirable means. The best part is the little card inside which tells you about where the product came from and the people who made it. It's a great way to feel connected to your purchase and the artisans who created it.

And if all that wasn't awesome enough, they also donate 10% of all proceeds to a poverty fighting cause every month. All of that information is right inside the subscription box.

I received the June subscription box and I was delighted with what I found.

A gorgeous green stone ring and wooden bracelet made in Old Delhi India by a group of nearly 80 artists with Matr Boomie.

There was also a set of hand-blown glass earrings hand made by an Ecuadorian widow names Aida Males.

All three items showed great craftsmanship and are just stunning to see. They've all become regular staples in my wardrobe.

If you are interested in trying out fair trade, consider subscribing to a Box of Blessings and enjoy ethical accessories delivered straight to your door from around the world. And be sure to tell them The Acting Mom sent you!

p.s. Visiting a fair trade workshop in Uganda changed my views on ethical fashion.

All opinions in this post are my own. I did receive the product for free in exchange for sharing my opinions with all of you.
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And then we quit homeschooling.

We've homeschooled for two years. Kindergarten, first grade and then kindergarten again, with a little preschool thrown in for the two youngest. There were lots of worksheets, nature hikes and thousands books read in those two years. It was wonderful to be on our own schedule and pace as we adjusted to being a family of six. Homeschooling allows for a lot of flexibility and we needed that.

It was the best decision for our family at the time. We knew we would take the kids education a year at a time. While we love the idea of home education, we also know there is a lot of value in them being taught by others and learning different points of view. Craig and I had decided long ago that we wanted the kids to have a public school experience and that time is now.

We are quitting homeschooling for the upcoming school year. The kids are enrolled and ready to start school in four weeks! They couldn't be more excited about this new venture and I'm doing a little freak out as I look at uniforms, school supplies and packed lunches. Eeekkk!

Trusting someone else to watch my kids for eight hours a day is something I haven't done in my seven years of parenting ever. EVER. I've been solely responsible for my kids 90% of the time, with Craig doing the rest. This is going to be a huge adjustment and I'm having a bit of a panic attack knowing I'll have a second grader and a kindergartener. To be honest, it's also hard to let go. I've been in control of the kids day in and day out and relinquishing that to a stranger is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. Parenting is hard! Can I get an amen?

I am excited about what the kids will learn and how they'll grow this next year. And the friends they will make! This will give me more one-on-one time with my two youngest, helping them grow and flourish. It will also open up time for me to rehearse and memorize lines for my theatrical endeavors, which I'm loving.

Overall, this is going to be awesome! It's a big change for our family with a lot of adjustment, but I'm excited to see how different we will all be in a year. Here's to a new year!

p.s. Did you know I have a website just for my acting endeavors?

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Making do (family of 6 in 1,200 sq ft home)

Living in a 1,200 square foot home as a family of six has it's challenges. Almost a year ago I shared my frustrations with living in tight quarters with a large and active family. We aren't your typical drop all the kids at school on the way to the office kind of family. Every aspect of our lives centers around these 1,200 square feet and we are doing our best to make the most of it.

Instead of continuing to bemoan my current confinement, because let's face it: I'm human and I like to whine. I've decided to create living areas in the space I have. One space we had overlooked in the previous six years we have lived here was our screened in patio. It seemed too small to really do anything with, so it stored random chairs and kids toys as we passed through it from the house into our yard.

With my renewed attitude to make do, it was time for a facelift! While Craig was at work I attacked the project with vigor and was determined it would be finished by the time he came home. I took what we had, grabbed some spray paint, a few ideas from Pinterest and got to work with a $150 budget.

I spray painted the existing table we had black and the two plastic chairs we had blue. These pops of color tie nicely with the shower curtains I purchased at Target to hang as outdoor curtains. Because they are made for the a high moisture environment, I thought they would be great with their hems, pre-made hole and mildew resistant material. I don't sew and the less work I had to do the better. I threw them up with some tension rods and called it a day.

The table is surrounded by the freshly painted plastic chairs, 2 metal Ikea chairs that were gifted to us with new grey stripped cushions and a custom made pallet bench made by my husband. Our new seating area is placed on top of an $18 solid grey outdoor rug from Home Depot. Talk about a bargain of a price and it helps to ground the space, making it feel more intentional. 

A burlap table runner from a friend's wedding centerpiece is topped by a white tray, green lantern, wine bottle wrapped in twine and a couple of candles from Ikea. I encourage the kids to add their summer discoveries like shells, drift wood and a baseball from their first Flying Tigers baseball game to the tray. It's a fun way to allow their personality into the space and adds a touch of whimsy to the centerpiece. Even though we are outside, a plant in a yellow pot adds another element of interest to an unused corner.

This is a kid space, so storage is a must. A green washtub from Ikea holds miscellaneous outdoor toys and a vintage metal magazine holder stores boots and muddy shoes right next to the door. The magazine rack has been sitting in the garage for a year after I abandoned it from another project. I love that it has been a given a new life. A shabby chic rocking chair was lovingly made by a friend and was my birthday gift last year. It's a sweet touch to the space and provides extra seating.

To finish the space off, we surrounded our tiny patio with a garden managed by the kids. We let the kids decide which plants we purchased at Home Depot and is absolutely lovely to look out at while enjoy dinner in our new space. My six year old son is very proud of his little garden and keeps it watered with our rain barrel.

I really do love how the new space turned out and it feels like we have added a new room to our home. This $150 and woman-power were well invested. It's brought a new energy to our family and a little more breathing room on those stir-crazy days. 

We have started house hunting, because while we love our addition, this space doesn't meet our family's long term goals. After 6 months of searching the housing market, we haven't found the perfect home that meets our needs and our budget. So we will continue to improve the space we have while we wait for our dream home to fall into our laps!

p.s. Do you remember when we set up the nursery for our 2 sons from Uganda?

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