Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nuts about Generosity

Its craft time people! Do crafts go with the "Living Generously" topic this page covers? well, I think it does, or at least sometimes it does, and here is why.  Crafting can be a part of frugal living (or it can be a tremendous strain on the budget, it all depends on how you craft.). For me, I tend to be the most creative when I'm solving a problem, and for many years of my adult life, solving problems typically had something to do with finding a way to make do with what I had.  And...some of my favorite ways of doing things have come of those times, so I like to share them, because they helped me to still satisfy my generous heart even when times were the toughest.  Frugality and Generosity are not always the first two words we put together. I want to change that and prove that living frugally can lead to living more generously.  Here's an idea for gifts that I hope you'll love. You'll be able to make the packaging out of items you probably already have at home! And you'll be able to make a small, yet thoughtfully elegant gift for just a few dollars.

Let's get Nuts!

Nuts are a simple and elegant gift that is often quite costly.  Using the recipe we shared in Gg's Kitchen, you'll be able to produce 1 pound of sugar and spice and everything nice for around $8.00. Compared to the $30 or more per pound you'll pay for mail order nuts in the blandest varieties, this is the most frugal (and tasty!) way to send a very special gift.

Now lets make our packaging pretty

What you'll need:

scrapbook paper
paper crimper
hole punch
string, ribbon, or raffia

This project is fun because you can so easily change the size of your packaging by using whole or quarter sheets of paper.  The pictured package was made from a quarter sheet and holds a nice handful of nuts, a single serving type quantity. Use a whole sheet of paper for a gift containing multiple servings.

1. Place your sheet of paper upside down on your work surface, and roll the left and right edges in towards each other, overlapping a quarter inch, and press to create folds. Secure edges together with glue. (I like using a fast drying paper glue that does not wrinkle the paper, but a glue stick or elmers is fine too.)

2. Apply glue to bottom edge, let dry. 

3.  Crimp bottom edge.

4. Pinch sides of flattened paper to open the tube you have created, and continue to pinch, creating a nearly triangular shape. (think those little tubes of sour cream they serve you with a baked potato at Wendy's, or the frozen grape juice treats they serve in school lunchrooms). Flatten edge and slip under a hole punch, punch hole in center, or for added interest off to the corner. 

5. Fill your container with nuts, popcorn, candy, a small inedible gift, or any other item you would like to present in fun, unique packaging! I suggest using a plastic bag or other food grade wrapping to contain a food gift inside the tube. 

6. Attach a coordinating gift tag through the hole punch using string, ribbon, or rafia, and present your gift! 

Beautiful, inexpensive, unique, and keeps great surprises! 

Monday, December 3, 2012

World AIDS Day

World Aids Day 2012 photo by Smith Family Photography

World AIDS Day

Does it seem like you've heard a lot of information about HIV/AIDS today?  There's good reason for it.  Sunday, December 2 was World AIDS Day and so the topic is being heavily covered world wide.  

AIDS is no respecter of persons. There are no economic, race, sexual orientation, or income barriers to contracting the HIV virus, only educational and social barriers to preventing infection.  
In India, Educational and Social Barriers contribute to many aspects of disadvantaged life in the rural areas such as Tamil Nadu where our non-profit partner Gingham Project does the majority of their work, but no disadvantage is greater than that of the HIV orphan.  In a culture where social status dictates much about daily life the HIV orphan has no social status, even religion has abandoned these faultless children.  But there is good news! Organizations like Gingham Project have taken notice and found ways to help, but they can't help without YOU.  

Donations made to Gingham Project directly fund projects to feed, shelter, and clothe children effected by the HIV/AIDS virus, and to educate and create economic opportunity within the at risk community.  You can read more about Gingham Project by clicking on the Gingham Project link on this page, or any of the links within this post.  

You have many choices about how to distribute your charitable donations this year, and you can hardly make a bad choice, but I sincerely hope you'll give at least a small share to Gingham Project this year.  A simple $1000 will build an education center (locally called a tuition center, though it is free of charge to attend) and help to pay a teacher. The last center Gingham Project built has become SO popular that a safety hazard has been created by the dozens of children cramming their little bodies in to learn each day.  Will you help? 

Donations can be made directly to Gingham Project via the pay pal button on the Gingham Project link, OR you can help by making some of your gift purchases through Generous Giant and choosing Gingham Project as the beneficiary of your spending.  Thirdly, you can purchase some fantastic earrings (perfect stocking stuffers) direcly from the Gingham Project's Payvment Store on Facebook.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

I can do hard things

I can do hard things 

 I Can do Hard Things

I can! And I will! Have you ever said this to yourself? But you know you can, right? You've already done many, many difficult things in your life, no matter your age. YOU, by virtue of being a living, breathing, thinking being, have done hard things! Have you forgotten this is true? Give yourself the gift of acknowledgment. Acknowledge your past, acknowledge  your present, and acknowledge that your future is EXACTLY what you've been built for. YOU can do hard things! And so can I.
I love this inspirational piece which was designed by Gg and Jeraly  as the result of a voting contest.  Our facebook fans submitted some of their favorite inspirational phrases, and we put it to a vote. "I can do hard things" took the lead immediately and easily won the contest. Why? I wondered to myself does this phrase hold so much power for us? Well...I think its because it gives us permission to acknowledge that sometimes, life is stinkin' HARD! But...the phrase then also gives us encouragement to go on anyways, and not just endure, but endure well! Dare I say...CONQUER?  The thought makes me smile. :)

Are you currently facing difficulties?  You are not alone, you are lovable, and worthy of giving and receiving love.  Be YOU and be the BEST YOU you can be.  Be generous in patience, be generous in kindness, be generous in your opinions, and watch how those around you lift you, and carry you up that mountain. You can do hard things, and you can make the hard things easier with just a little bit of generosity, towards yourself, and those around you. Its life changing.


Want a daily reminder you can wear? Click on the photo above to order our hand stamped washer on waxed cotton chord at

Friday, November 30, 2012

ReStore the Giving

Make your Home a Castle of Giving:

If you're anything like me, this is the time of year when I start thinking about how much STUFF I have and how I don't want anymore STUFF to clutter up my home.  As The Fly Lady, Marla Ciley  says, clutter steals happiness, and who wants their happiness stolen? Not me! 
As I go through household goods, building materials, hardware, etc, its sometimes difficult to know what to do with all that?  Garage Sales are fine for many, but they feel like alot of work with not alot of reward for me. I prefer to donate. Now, what if I could make my home a virtual CASTLE of giving? Well, guess what? I can! And so can you.
And the best part, is, you can do it by either donating items no longer needed, OR purchasing items you find yourself in need of. That means if you're not in the position to donate, but still want to help, and have some home projects to complete Habitat for Humanity's ReStore has the perfect opportunity for you to make generous living a literal part of your home life. How? 
Items are brought TO ReStores, then they are bought FROM ReStores, generating much needed money for Habitat for Humanity building projects! Need more information?  Check out this two minute video from Habitat for Humanity's ReStore official site where you can read about how ReStores work, what they raise money for, and where your nearest ReStore is located.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tax Deductible Contributions to 501(c)3 organizations

Tax Deductible Contributions to 501(c)3 organizations

 the season for making gifts to charity and you may have some questions about what makes your gift tax deductible. First, the disclosures: The Generous Giant is not a financial advisor, and cannot give any tax advice. Please see your financial advisor to determine what deductions you may or may not be able to take.

Even though I can't give tax advice, I can point you to some widely available information regarding charitable giving. Two frequently asked questions are "what is a 501(c)3 charitable organization?" and "How do I know if my donation is tax deductible?" We found the best answers to these questions on the official website of the Internal Revenue Service: and 501(c)3.0rg

What is a 501(c)3 organization? A 501(c)3 can represent a wide variety of entities each of whom maintain their existence according to a stated mission.  Those missions can also range widely. In short: " an entity must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals."

And what makes a contribution to one of these types of entities tax deductible? Again, you'll need to check with your financial advisor on your own deductions, but here are some rules the IRS made available to you with a simple search of the website (this according to the latest update made September 12, 2012):  To be deductible, charitable contributions must be made to qualified organizations. Payments to individuals are never deductible. SeePublication 526Charitable Contributions.

There are some limits on how your contribution might be deducted, for example, if you receive something in exchange for your contribution, your total contribution may not be deductible. Your tax advisor will have the best answer for you, but here's the general rule: If your contribution entitles you to merchandise, goods, or services, including admission to a charity ball, banquet, theatrical performance, or sporting event, you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received..

There are some additional things you'll want to keep in mind. Keep a record of your monetary and non-monetary contributions, and be prepared to fill out some special forms to include with your itemized deductions. 

All in all, deducting charitable contributions is not difficult, but there are some hard and fast rules that your financial advisor can help you navigate. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Charitable giving outpaces economic growth

Wow! We certainly live in a time when one might expect charitable giving to be down, but according to this article on AdvisorOne, not only is giving not down, but gifts are outpacing economic growth!

According to author Micheal S. Fisher (heavily citing the Atlas of Giving), this year's expected giving of nearly $360 billion dollars outpaces last year's giving by nearly $38 billion dollars.  And so where is this money coming from? It may or may not surprise you that 75% of donated dollars are coming from individuals just like you and I.  Corporations will donate about 5%, with the remainder coming from foundations, bequests, and other similar giving tools.

Want to know more?
Check out the links below.

Atlas of Giving

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday Somethings

This week we have seen emotions swing with the pendulum of prospective change. Fear, anger, disappointment, elation, confidence, excitement.  Many of us have felt one or all of these sentiments as America chose its leader for the next four years.  While we here at Generous Giant don't aim to be political, we do aim to be aware of the events happening around us.  It is without judgement that we watch and listen and simply observe the goings on.  As many of our friends became distraught at the prospect of four more years of what they had viewed as failed leadership, we saw others come out to encourage and comfort.  One of the favorite reminders we saw was a quote attributed to James E. Faust that reminded us that our success as families, and our success as a society had more to do with how we lived in our families, than whom we voted for, or how that person chooses to lead.  As the quote gained in popularity throughout the week, it was great to observe this wonderful reminder being shared and shared again.  It was wonderful to see so many comforted to be reminded that success starts at home.  Last week's challenge (which sadly was deleted and is unrecoverable due to formatting changes made to our Generous Giant blog) for living in generosity was to observe the tone of your own internal conversations.  Was it fearful? Negative? Insulting? Or are you habitually a kind person, even unto yourself?  If you can answer that you are in fact habitually kind, we congratulate you! What a wonderful trait to possess. Have you always been this way? Or is it a learned habit? But if you found instead that your thoughts lingered in the realms of negativity, what did you notice about this habit? Were there specific activities or places that prompted this kind of internal discourse? I challenge you to observe the pattern, and then to prepare to change it.

Success does indeed begin in the home, and by my thoughts, success at home begins with love at home, and love is best given by one who knows love.  This is a journey my friends, and it has a beginning and a destination.  Will you join us on our journey to discover love in our hearts and spread it through our homes, into our communities, and over the world?

We hope you do.

For today, start the journey with a promise. A promise to love yourself more, by using kind words.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Generosity is relative

Yesterday was somewhat of a milestone for Generous Giant, we finally were able to bring together Generous Giant and Chef Tess Bakeresse to open and begin expansion on Gg's Pantry.  This has been a long time coming, something Chef Stephanie Petersen whom I also call friend, and I have been discussing and preparing for, for nearly a year (maybe longer!) As wonderful as it was to finally put into place the Chef's fabulous spice line (seriously, your mouth will water just reading the descriptions) the best part of the day was spending time with a dear friend and sharing ideas and thoughts.

One of the topics that came up during our wonderful visit was the idea of relativity.  You know, wealth is relative. I think we all accept that as fact.  What is wealthy in one part of the world may be very small means in another. But Generosity is relative too.

I was once stuck in a place where I knew I wanted to be able to give to my community, but I had no financial resources with which to do so. I knew I had a generous heart, but I feared that my financial circumstances would not ever allow me to satisfy my desire to give. And then a good friend pointed out that serving others with a happy heart was generous. That preparing a meal for another in need out of my small means was generous, that offering forgiveness to someone I had felt wronged by was the very definition of generosity!

We each have within us the capacity for living generously.  It is not simply the giving of money, though money does further the ability of organizations to do the good work they are engaged in, it is the giving of one's heart.

This Holiday season, we are going to celebrate the Giving Heart.  We hope that those of you able to give monetary gifts will do so and that our non-profit partners will benefit from your giving. But we want all our friends to know that generosity is relative to your capacity to give, and sometimes all you  have to give is your heart...a gift more generous than any dollar amount.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What is generous living?

Living generously is a lifestyle, and anybody can live it.  Its about being kind. seeing the best in people, seeking to be a positive part of our community.  Its about philanthropy of the heart and mind, not just the wallet.