Tag Archives: Crafts

Cool Cork Crafts~! Easy DIY Ideas…



I saw some cute cork fridge magnets on a fun blog (Student Beans), and decided I would like to include here on my blog. They are charming. A fun way to pass an hour on a rainy day. Of course there are plenty of good ideas for cool crafts to make with wine corks. I figured I’d go hunt down a few more corky craft projects to include with the fridge magnets, and found a bunch of very cool ideas all in one place. DIY fanatic & interior designer Kristi Linaver writes, “When it comes to craft and decorating projects, wine corks are always crowd pleasers. They’re so versatile and have such great texture that adds a touch of nature to any room. If you’ve got a pile of wine corks hidden away, pull them out and get crafting! And if you’re a teetotaler like I am, you might try local restaurants and bars and see if you can take some of their corks off their hands for them. I’ve rounded up 30 different ways for you to craft and decorate with your wine cork stash.” Link to 30 cork projects.

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Is My Back Pain My Own Fault?


strong man and pig postcardI am one of the millions or zillions of people who have a back ache, or can get one easily by lifting or twisting awkwardly.

It would be easy enough to blame the heavy box, or the pillow, or the mattress, or the garden,, the car… or…. or…. you get the picture, blame anything possible. But, I suspect I am really the root of this back problem. Maybe you are young, and thinking back aches are for older people, and this blog post is not for you. But, you read on too. NOW is the time to take care of your back, because back aches aren’t for older people either. Many of us actually CAN do something about the condition of our backs, even if they seem irretrievable. I’ve gotten sick of the back problem, and I’m doing something about it. I’m already starting to feel better, and it has only been about 5 days or reclaiming my rights to my own back.

I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty here, for example my husband has a bad back as a result of a car accident. He broke his spine completely in half, and is paraplegic. But even with a seriously messed up spine, he does everything he can to make sure to keep his body strong and healthy. He is an amazing example to me. He rode a hand crank bicycle 20 miles today. Given what each individual has to work with, we have to do our part to get or keep ourselves as healthy as we can be. Often as we start down this road, we soon learn that we have access to better health than we had formerly believed possible~! Be encouraged~! Catch a strong wind of motivation, and take it to the next level.

Recently, I’ve been waking up with a back ache. I get up an hour early, unable to take staying in bed any longer. Of course that would lead me to believe that my bed is to blame, but that probably isn’t the whole story. Actually, the bed I have is a top recommended mattress for conditions like back pain and arthritis. I just bought it 6 months ago thinking my OLD mattress was causing my back pain. That didn’t solve the problem. Bummer~!

Fed up, I ended up on the Healthy Back Institute website (AKA: losethebackpain.com), and found lots of information that made more sense than killing myself with ibuprophen. I watched some of their videos, and found out that my hips are sinking too far into the mattress. This tends to be true of almost all mattresses (even my tempurpedic) , since humans are generally heavier in this area. A simple solution: I can put a folded towel under my middle, and my spine will tweak a bit less while I am sleeping. I also learned some specific stretches for lower back pain. They have videos about neck pain, sciatica, and more. I’ll be watching more of these videos over time.

I posted a blog last year about doing more core strengthening exercises “Being Spineless“. I would like to inform you that I have developed the habit of doing some of these. But, I need to go farther. Five minutes a day ins’t quite enough. The time that I am spending sitting so much of the day has to be counter-balanced.

While clicking some links on the Back Institute website, I came upon the best lower back pain stretching & strengthening routine I have encountered to date. Just exactly what I needed. It has me quite excited. I plan on having a stronger back in the upcoming weeks and months~! Here’s a link: Great Lower Back Relief Video. If you like this instructor, you can search for more exercises by her specifically. She sure looks fit. It turns out that youtube is a great resource, so do other searches, too~! NOW… remember, you aren’t likely to feel the full benefit of exercise right away. AND… avoid the temptation to do the routine 5 times the first three days. Don’t hurt yourself by stretching as far as you USED to be able to stretch a while ago. (I make this mistake every time; that’s why I’m saying this.) You’ll get back in shape soon enough if you stick with it~!

Hey… recommend more links and resources for back pain relief in our comments section, please~!

(The postcard art in the picture above is for sale at: La Cabane En Voyage. I love this image~! It makes me smile.)

Far From Home: When I Joined Peace Corps Africa


Peace Corps Africa

My blog host (WordPress) has a list called “Daily Prompts“.

These are ideas to inspire blog post topics. I wasn’t looking for the prompt, it found me while I was looking for something else. The topic? “Far From Home; Where have you gone that is far from home”. Man, that took me back in time~! I thought of all the amazing places I have been, and recalled the years prior to these explorations, when I had been so hungry for travel. In one of those hungry phases, I spontaneously filled out an application to join the Peace Corps. It wasn’t a life plan of mine. I just wanted to see more of the world. Well, about 8 months later, I got a call from the recruiter. There would be an assignment opening up in Niger, West Africa. Would I like to go? Well, I gulped, thought about it for a few days, said “YES“, and then hopped on a plane approximately 2 months after that.

Landing in Niger was like getting hit with a blow dryer while standing in an oven. Hot and dry. The landscape is Sub-Sahanan Desert. Think of photos of Ethiopia, and you have the general idea. I stayed there for 2 years. Some of the work I did involved health and nutrition lessons in an all girl’s school. We also had hopes of training these young ladies how to hand-craft all kinds of things as micro-business entrepreneurs. I found the people of Niger to be lighthearted and hospitable. It was a thoroughly amazing experience. I also got to travel to Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Egypt while I was on that continent.

The photo on the top right is my Peace Corps ID…. circa 1998-1990. The photo on the right is from when my Mom came to visit me. She was amazing~! She dove right in, ate the weird food, rode a camel, carried babies strapped on her back, applied make-up to the village girls while holding up a mirror so they could see themselves. We had our feet henna’d. The pattern on Mom’s feet was called zigga-zagga. Wonder how they came up with that name? C’est bizarre….we spoke both Zarma and French in my town (Dosso).

I have been home for 30 years (Imagine that~!), and Peace Corps Niger has left a big mark on my life and my heart. I ended up starting my own hand-crafted micro-business, Hayden Brook Studios. My husband and I make colorful glass jewelry as our primary source of income. You can see the amazing colors of the West African clothing all over our design lines. But beyond that, I still have a heart for helping these far off nations. If I can’t GO, I can still participate~! Brook and I host a website for our ministry called “The Gift List“. It informs and raises funds for amazing projects in these far away places. Just last month Brook and I bought cook stoves for 2 families in Peru~! How awesome to be able to help out like this~! Makes us feel good. And, because we know the person who builds the stoves, we know that ALL of our money is going toward stoves, and not helping some random CEO to get fat off of donations~!

NOW…. Your turn: where have YOU gone….. OR what donations catch your heart? Or, tell me how cute I was when I was 20 pounds lighter and 30 years younger~!