The HOPE Chain: 25 Advent Activities

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25AdventActivities_FeatureLet’s face it, the Christmas season often brings a very full calendar that can sometimes leave our hearts feeling empty.  The word, Advent, means “to come” and our hope and prayer is that your hearts will make room for both Jesus’s coming and family connection.  Traditions matter, no matter the age. They provide a strong anchor of family identity and also make the season special.  If your family is longing for tradition and fun, here is a great place to start.

This year we’ve teamed up with 7 other fabulous bloggers,  to create a unique Advent activity, The Hope Chain. This is one of those old-school link chains, and the activities listed each day only require 15 minutes or less.

As parents, we love the idea of traditions and of a fun Advent activity calendar, but often we get overwhelmed before we even start!  This Hope Chain makes it easy with minimal supplies Pula Pula Inflavel needed and all the activities already provided for you (just add your family!).  You won’t regret taking the few minutes to print this out as it will give you memories that will strengthen the roots on your family tree.




What it is: An Advent chain with one activity for each day of December leading up to Christmas that promotes fun, connection, and faith.

How to use it: Print + cut the activities into strips. Form the strips into a chain in order (they are numbered). Each day (carefully) tear off the bottom chain as a family and do the activity listed when you have a 15 min. window. Start on Dec 1st and continue for the 25 days of Advent, ending on Christmas day.

Hashtag: We’d love for you to hashtag your family doing the advent activities throughout the season. Use the hashtag #thehopechain

Supplies Needed: A printer, paper, a stapler  or tape, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas book, a copy of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas poem, brownie mix, green food coloring, a jar, one string of Christmas lights for each child, glitter or a small can of gold or silver paint, one candy cane per person, hot chocolate, large marshmallows, a Sharpie pen, Christmas cookies, popcorn, Christmas candy

Download My HOPE CHAIN




Because these bloggers are so much fun, each one has a different design of The Hope Chain. You can choose the one that fits your home décor and colors best!

Take your pick and HAVE FUN celebrating
this most wonderful time of the year!

**All links will open in a new tab. Pick the best to match your decor.**

Krista Gilbert

Alexandra Kuykendall


Tammy Strait


Allison Hendrix


Jamie Ivey


Elisha Joyce


Jessica Wolstenholm


Positive Message Tees w/a Purpose


If you are visiting from another site, WELCOME!

We create hand stamped, personalized jewelry and positive message tee shirts.  Words and people are our passion and we love being a small part of people’s unique stories.    You can find out more about me here, but really, I’d like to know more about YOU!  Connect with me on social media and introduce yourself.


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Do ONE Thing

This was handposted inFundraising,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,personal journey

photoI sat at my computer staring at the image of the little boy, Aylan, washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean, and I knew I couldn’t look away any longer. We like to look away don’t we? But deep inside we know we can’t– our hearts can not lay dormant but must awaken and feel. The pictures are real human beings. This was a mother’s precious son whom she fed and rocked to sleep night after night and now would Jumping Castle never get the chance again. I made myself keep reading, and I read story after story of families that were risking everything because of Syria’s Civil War and the powers of ISIS. It is devastating to find out that 2,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean in the first eight months of 2015 alone. Fathers, daughters, friends, sons.

These 12 million Syrian refugees are fleeing for their lives and do not know where they will go. They are not looking to just better their lives, but literally to save their lives. It is so. many. people. Families that are sleeping in dumpsters and dodging bullets. People crossing into a new country in the middle of the night and mothers snuggling their children tight for fear they will be taken. How can we reconcile how they are living with how we are living? I’m thinking about getting my Pumpkin Spiced Latte this morning, and they are on the Egyptian shoreline waiting to board a smuggler’s dinghy in complete desperation. God wants more from me, from us.

I can feel so small when I see the magnitude of the crisis and can be fooled into thinking that I can’t make a difference. But, I was reminded of the words of Ann Voskamp… each one, DO JUST ONE THING. Together, as we lock arms in solidarity and love, all of our “do one thing” actions will pronounce loudly that we are with you. We want to welcome you. We will take care of you.


So, today on 9/11, as we remember those that lost their lives to terrorism, let us honor them by taking care of those that are affected by terrorism today.  We are encouraging you to DO ONE THING. If you purchase this necklace, we will donate one blanket through World Vision to a Syrian Refugee in your name. Because you acted, one little girl will be warm through the winter night and the necklace will always remind you that YOU, right where you are, can make a difference.

I want to leave you with a prayer from Lynn Hybels that I pray will become your prayer: “God, what is mine to do? None of us can do everything, but we can all do something — big or small, according to what we’ve been given. And if we all do something, we can change the stories being lived out across deserts and oceans, at country borders and in the hearts of men, women and children just like us.”

Other ways to help:
***Consider signing this Petition to President Obama and Congress for the US to resettle 65,000 Syrian Refugees by 2016.
***Join the We Welcome Refugees site to find out ways to support and advocate for Syrian refugees.
***Donate directly to World Vision, World Relief, Samaritans Purse, Unicef, or other agency.
***Pray for the Refugees and for those on the front lines.


So grateful to be “Doing ONE thing” together,


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This was handposted inBusiness Moments,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,personal journey,stories about our jewelry














I love words.

Especially words with multiple meanings.

So when we started making this Bouncy Castle sweet horizontal bar necklace I wanted to make one with just the right word.

I spent some time thinking about a word that had dimension to it.  That meant something more than just the first meaning that comes to mind.

When it came to me I knew it was mine.


As an adopted child I was always told that I was chosen.  My parents chose me to be theirs.  And sometimes that was cool.  They did a good job of loving me unconditionally, and my mother and brother were both adopted too so I was in the right club.  That someone chose me, after all, was enough when I was little.  It took until 11 or 12 until I realized that being chosen meant that my biological parents chose me not.  Hmmm.

There were plenty of things during the ensuing years, teenage and beyond, that cemented the unchosen in me.  I unknowingly over time let being not chosen define me.  It was the squeakiest wheel  inside of me and I worked REALLY HARD to be the kind of person no one could possibly not choose. Perfectionism was the poison that drip. drip. dripped into my marriage, parenting and friendships.  Exhausted to be accepted, I organized date nights, playdates, meals for families that needed one, etc… All noble enough but never really done with any motivation other than gaining importance for myself at the heart of it.  Then it all began to unravel in big and small ways and the controlling compulsion that drove me broke down in a puddle of “I can’t do this anymore and why did no one play along with me”???

That’s when I was chosen again.  When I found out that God chooses us all.  He creates, loves and CHOOSES us to be a part of His amazing family.  This family full of all types of broken-but-loved-dearly people that ACCEPTED me most when I was just being me.  Silly me.  Lazy me.  Grumpy me. Tired me.  No make-up me.  Can’t control a single thing me.  And this family just took me in and had space for infinitely more tired souls. And there was more unconditional love than I could even take in.  No earning your way into this family though, you just fall into it, spent and ready for a new adventure just being you.

Chosen.  That’s my word.  I love what it means to me.  What it means for everyone.

There’s a song by Hawk Nelson called “Words”.  I love the lyrics, you can hear it here:

What’s your word?


—Sister Sledge


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A Birthday Blessing

This was handposted inBusiness Moments,personal journey

little Lo

This sweet girl just turned 18.

 I honestly cannot account for the passing of that much time with her already.  Suddenly it felt like too much time had slipped away without being marked.  So, on a spontaneous get-away to the coast, the pieces of my family that could be present took turns walking along the shoreline  with this daughter of mine.  Her Sister, Aunt, Grandpa, Grandma, Dad and I. Each of us taking a space of sand with her… telling her what they loved about her, saw in her, dreamed for her– and then passing her off to the next waiting family member who would walk with her and do the same.

It wasn’t comfortable.  We all Bouncy Castle had to step into a vulnerable place where feelings reside and acknowledge that a change was occurring.  That the little girl had somehow grown up before our eyes and a new thing was about to begin.  But I am so very glad we did.  I can’t think about it, type it or talk about it without a lump clogging my throat and tears stinging my eyes, but I am grateful we took the time and the risk to speak into her life. Because I know there will come a day when something her Grandpa said to her will be the sure-thing she stands upon during a hard time.  Or that heart her sister drew in the sand that said “I love Lauren” will pop into her memory like a big hug from home.  Her Dad’s heartfelt words will make her smile.  Her Grandma’s encouragement will make her brave.  Each person’s love a sure stepping stone in her path just when she is looking for the way…

Graduation will be here much too soon.  Then summer will slip by and college will start.  And our family of 5 will be down to 3.  We’ve done this before with our son.  Things change and we adjust, and our children go and do what we’ve been training them to do all along– live independent lives– but not without regrets and sadness and wishing for bits of the past.  Things just won’t be the same again.  Sure we will have texts and visits and calls, and great family moments,  but we won’t have the endless days that go on forever when your kids are small.  We won’t have the family vacations that just happened because we all had the same schedule.  We will have to be intentional.  And we will appreciate each other a little more.

I have the tendency to look back and wish I had done things differently.  This special memory goes  in the column of things I could never regret.   We celebrated family, a precious girl and a bright future. We marked a moment that none of us will forget and started a tradition.  I hope I’ll be brave to do more of that.  I hope you are encouraged to be brave too!

brave locket

WISHfully yours,



comfort food

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So there are days when all the things that need you seem to rebel against your every attempt to tame them.

You try to do it right and it just ends up sideways.

You forget every blasted password to every blasted place you should be able to be in order to accomplish anything.

You don’t link the pin on pinterest to the website page.  And you don’t do it again the next time.

Your business partner extends so much grace, you wish you didn’t need it all so badly.

The middle schooler needs editing Bouncy Castle For Sale help on a loooong story.

Yesterday’s attempt at laundry is still in the washer.  wet.

Your college student is off to Hawaii for five days for a friend’s wedding with just some change in his pocket and not much in the bank.

That super recipe you decide to try from whatever place you see it just isn’t super.

Every alive thing brings in half a tree worth of leaves on their shoes/paws every time they enter the house.

You haven’t finished your Bible study lesson and you are the leader.

Your husband decides to work on the budget.

the universe conspires against you and wins, yelling “sucker” over its shoulder at you as it dances out of sight

so you MAKE CHOCOLATE PUDDING and serve it piping HOT with a huge mound of WHIPPED CREAM.  and you are 8 and don’t have a care in the world again.  and tomorrow is a new day. and you know you can be brave.













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the MAMAS who clean together…

This was handposted inBusiness Moments,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,personal journey,Products,Uncategorized

Our business was born during a day of housecleaning.

During a walk with our dogs, we had mourned the days when we had jobs that warranted hiring people to keep our homes tidy for us and how the feeling of “everything clean at once” was not happening now that we were stay at home moms.  Oh, everyone was fed and clothed and breathing, but our homes would get vacuumed and dusted or the kitchen was clean for 30 minutes, but never all at the same time. So we thought we’d try cleaning both of our homes TOGETHER at the same time in one 5 hour period of time.

And it worked!  I would vacuum and dust at her house while she cleaned the kitchen, bathrooms and floors and we would swap roles at my house, spending 2.5 hours on each home.  Of course Jumping Castle the day before we would do laundry, change sheets, put away mounds of toys and shoes and junk and HAIR ACCESSORIES in preparation for our cleaning day.  The point is IT WORKED!  And we chatted while we worked and asked important questions and caught up on each other’s daily lives.

Here’s the thing… when your friend is vacuuming in the other room you CANNOT stop and chat with your mother on the phone for 45 minutes.  While she dusts you don’t get rabbit-trailed into another side project when you should be scrubbing the tub.  You use every loving minute of that 2.5 hours to stay completely focused so that when times up your house is totally clean!

Those were purposeful days.  And on one such day, during a hypothetical conversation about how we would spend all of our time when our youngest kids went to school full time in the fall, our business was born.  And now we don’t clean house together anymore, we just don’t really have that luxury of time.  But I miss those days spent serving my best friend and being served by her.  Rich times indeed!


be YOU tiful

This was handposted inBusiness Moments,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,personal journey,Products

So often we go through our days chasing down someone else’s life.  Trying to be like them.  To accomplish something they’ve already mastered.  It just hit me that while it is wonderful to stretch and grow and try new things, we shine brightest Bounce House For Sale when we are fully engaged in the business of being ourselves.  So do YOU today… the best version of YOU that YOU can present to the world.  Authenticity is beautiful.  YOU are they only person qualified on this earth to be authentically and genuinely YOU.

Oscar Wilde said ” Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

Go “be YOU tiful” today!


Click here to order!


Summer + Mint = Mojitos!

This was handposted inBusiness Moments,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,Parties,personal journey


In the Pacific Northwest we love our weather year ’round, but nothing beats our SUMMERS!  On one summer afternoon on Priest Lake with Hammergirl, we had a utopia moment at Cavanaughs… two tall, iced, glasses of huckleberry mojitos!  We toasted our day, our families and our blessings.  Mojitos have been the “it” summer drink for me since then.  I grow some mint, muddle it with lime and simple syrup and add some soda and rum (not required, just preferred).  Of course, it all must be served over ice.  This process can be labor Chateau Gonflable intensive when having a crowd, so the other evening I made my simple syrup and infused a bunch of mint leaves in the boiling sugar-water for 5-10 minutes.  I juiced a bunch of limes and made a pitcher ahead of time.  It was delicious!   Just remember to add the soda (you can use sprite or 7 up) after all of the other ingredients so it doesn’t all fizz over when stirring 🙂  I don’t have a “recipe” but just mixed to taste, I don’t think you can mess these up!



Sistersledge (Kristin)

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One At A Time…

This was handposted inHand stamped personalized jewelry,Products,stories about our jewelry,Uncategorized

This past weekend we were able to attend a graduation party for the daughter of some good family friends of ours.  I had talked with the mom earlier in the week and told her that we wanted to make Emma a special necklace.  The necklace you see pictured is the result of our conversation and we couldn’t love it more. Let me tell you a little bit about Emma and her family.

A couple summers ago Emma went on a mission trip to China and worked in an orphanage there.  While she was there, one little girl captured her heart, and when Emma returned home she approached her parents about adopting little Mia.  “One at a time” Emma thought.  We can be overwhelmed when we hear the number of orphans in our world, and yet, the only way to change it is one at a time.  Emma’s dream became her parents dream too in time and they set out to adopt this special little girl.  As they began the adoption process, they were faced with roadblock after Hüpfburg roadblock.  At one point, it looked like they would not be able to adopt Mia and so they began pursuing another little girl to adopt in China.  Well, in God’s perfect plan, the barriers were lifted to adopt Mia, and this family was now adopting TWO little girls at the same time!  Here is a picture of Emma with the two girls…

This story moves me in two ways.  One… to see a young girl want to change the story of orphans and to see them in families.  Two…that our friends were willing to listen to their daughter’s dream and have it become their own.  When I saw their Christmas card this year, I couldn’t help the tears from streaming down my face.  Aren’t they beautiful?I love how God makes family in all different ways.  They were willing to set aside their worldly dreams and desires and instead chose to adopt these precious girls.

This family now has six children from ages eighteen to four.  Emma, and her 16-yr-old sister, Maddie, are going back to China this summer for over a month to work in an orphanage devoted to children with Brittle Bone Disease.  With some of the children they even have to be careful on how they pick them up and hold them as their bones can break that easily.  It is so inspiring to me to see the hearts of Emma and Maddie…when most teenage girls are only concerned about boys, tanning and the next party, they are serving “the least of these”.  James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God is this, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

We have decided to offer this necklace on our website and donate $5.00 for every adoption necklace sold to “The Jeremiah Project“, an organization devoted to helping families financially to adopt.  Check out the necklace here.

One at a time.   We have the power to help change people’s stories.   Where do you feel called to serve?  Who is your ONE right now?



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What I Wear

This was handposted inBusiness Moments,Hand stamped personalized jewelry,personal journey,Products,stories about our jewelry

Before we started this business 5 years ago I (Sister Sledge) NEVER wore necklaces.  Really.  Something about costume jewelry reminded of the plastic beaded necklaces I used to paw through in my mom’s jewelry drawer, and they never impressed me much (sorry mom).  My hubby gave me a pearl necklace on a nice gold chain one year because I thought I wanted it.  I’d put it on for a bit and feel fussy.   I mostly would wear my wedding rings, my family ring and a smile :).  However, when we stumbled upon this personal, classic style of jewelry I knew I needed to own it, wear it, love it.  So… in honor of still loving it after all these years I thought I share with you what I wear.  It Castillos Hinchables won’t be earth shattering, you’ll wonder if I should have lots more pieces, and I’ll agree.  But much like the plumber with leaky faucets, I often forget to make my own something new while making things for others.  I really do fall in love with the new designs people ask for but more often than not you’ll find me wearing the same things. 

Love this one!  My kids on the 1″ sweet circle with the framed cross, our established date and the old couple’s ( Tony and I) initials.  I wear this in bits and pieces, too, depending on the day… just the kids, just the cross, just the initials, or all together in a happy jumble.


You know how parents say they don’t have a favorite kid?  Well, this is currently my favorite kid!  We just started carrying this awesome chunky chain and I reach for it most days lately.  We’ll have it on the website soon, for now you can get it by contacting us personally.  Photographing jewelry keeps me very humble and frustrated, but I think you can see our swirly heart charm, my hubby’s first initial, our last initial and my first initial on the circle pendant and our kids on the square pendant.  The pearl is the topping.  YUMMY!

This is my happy place.  We call this category of necklace “simply special” in our shop for good reason.  I love the special simplicity and reach for this on my I’m-wearing-sweats-cause-I’m-sure-if-I-do-I’ll-work-out-today days and dress up days alike.

I am curious sometimes what a shoe designer would be wearing on her feet  if I ran into her at Starbucks, and am disappointed when the salesperson at the GAP isn’t sporting something  currently sold off the rack at that very store so I can leave with the look.  If you’d like to take any of these necklace designs home with you, just click on the photo, it will take you right to the store!  So, if you are at all like me, I hope I satisfied a tiny question for you.  If you aren’t there is one thing I would like you to know… I don’t immediately look at your neckline when I see you at Fred Meyer wondering where your cute As You Wish Design necklace is, I am genuinely happy just to see you.

What’s the random picture of my family doing at the bottom of this blog?  Well….  they are WHY I wear what I wear.

– Sister Sledge (Kristin)

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