Your Worst Nightmares…Stuffed.

I don’t understand why I just found out about this – it should have been breaking news. My friend should have known. I should have been told immediately.

But alas, I wasn’t told until weeks later.

But at least I was told.

A friend of ours gave another friend of ours a very special Christmas gift.

A stuffed louse.

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That’s right, people. A cuddly, lovable, adorable member of the head lice family. Because apparently this friend believes in immersion therapy to treat one’s fears.

Within seconds of laying eyes upon the creature, I was on the website, mouth agape, in awe of the brilliance of people who could create 150 disgusting…yet adorable plush creatures. And as a bonus, scientifically accurate!

GIANTmicrobes® are stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size!

The core microbial body types (circles, rods, spirals, chains, etc.) are always maintained. But in addition, morphological attributes of real microbes (such as the natural bumps of the rhinovirus, or the strands of flagella on the Salmonella bacterium) are used to create such anthropological features as noses and hair. So while the designs are always intended to be endearing, they are always firmly rooted in science.

I mean really. Who hasn’t always wanted a stuffed Brain-Eating Amoeba?

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And I’m pretty sure you can get put on a Terrorist Watch List for sending one of these in the mail…

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They also have “Oops – I’m So Sorry” presents…

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Their breast cancer cell is pretty awesome, because it can be cured by being turned inside out.

 

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And I might have to buy myself an immunoglobulin. Because I need more of them desperately.

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And I feel like this little guy would make a fantastic Vasectomy Present.

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But if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Gift, they have that, too.

You can either give your special someone a precious collection of Herpes, Pox, HPV, Chlamydia and Penicillin,

heart-burned

 

Or if you’re feeling slightly nicer, a Sperm Cell, Egg Cell, Kissing Disease, and Penicillin.

heart-warming

 

They have so many more furry friends, including Athlete’s foot, Bad breath, Botulism, a Diabetes Beta Cell, Diarrhea, E. Coli (which interestingly looks nothing like Diarrhea), Ebola, Fat Cells, Gangrene, a Pimple, Typhoid Fever, and even…Yogurt? Yes. Yogurt.

And if you need them even bigger, they have them in pillow-sized friends.

I mean, why not rest your head on a giant maggot?? And surely if you sleep on a louse, you can’t possibly have head lice – that’d just be too ironic.

I’m personally kind of in love with this site. So if you need a gift for me, you know where to look.

Disclaimer: I was not requested to share these products, nor does the company know I’m doing so. But they’re welcome to send me a pillow-sized staph infection, if they’re so inclined.

Quick and Easy Last Minute Gift Wrap Idea

I am feeling really lazy this Christmas.

Usually, Chris and I truly enjoy finding some sort of creative way to wrap presents, like the year we made Word Search Gift Wrap. I also usually make my own gift tags, too, but as I’ve already admitted this year, my ability to live up to my Christmas Duties has seriously declined.

So…that means I hadn’t wrapped a single present until late last week…despite Noah’s daily questions, “WHY are there no presents under the tree?” and “Will there EVER be presents under the tree with my name on them??”

I had zero ideas to make them fun this year, until I was walking through Staples.

Every time I pass a display of all of the pretty patterned tapes that Scotch makes, I stop and stare, wishing that I had a justifiable reason to buy them all – a decent use for such gorgeous patterns and pretty colors. I love mixing patterns like a crazy person, so the new line of tapes make me as happy as passing down the scrapbook paper aisle at Michaels.

This time, I had the idea I’d been waiting on.

I didn’t know if it would work, but I was willing to take the risk. I strategically bought 13 rolls of my favorite patterns and took them home to try them out. And, shockingly, it was perfect.

Scotch Washi Tape on Presents

No ribbon? No problem. No labels? No problem. I simply taped coordinating patterns around my presents, then wrote the recipient’s name in Sharpie on the tape.

Washi Tape on Presents

The tapes are called Washi Tape, and are very similar to Painter’s Tape, so when I got my line crooked, it was easy to peel off and try again.

Patterned Tape on Presents

Some patterns covered better than others, but I didn’t mind its translucent properties too much.

Scotch Tape Close-Up

The writing is easier to read in person than it is in the pictures, but the ones that take a bit of scrutiny don’t bother me – after all, people should have to work for their gifts.

Scotch Tape on Presents

….Especially the lucky people whose presents got decorated with the one roll of patterned duct tape that I bought.

Duct Tape to Decorate Presents

So in conclusion, this was the easiest decorating of presents I’ve ever done, the rolls of tape look barely used (as opposed to rolls of ribbon that last for all of one-and-a-half presents), and I’m beyond thrilled to finally be able to use those pretty, pretty tapes.

Scotch Washi Tape to Jazz Up Presents

How did you wrap this year?

The Journey of a Year.

This time last year, I was beginning to realize the layers of beauty in what I call “Double Blessing Shopping”.

I blame this on a blog reader. I learn so much from all of you – if you didn’t keep me informed and educate me on the best stuff, my life would be so much less enriched. But this particular blog reader was Dyan, a missionary in Africa who started a site called Karama Gifts. Learning about their beautiful products and more gorgeous ministry to the women who make them birthed a process and a stirring in my heart.

They were helping women escape from trafficking, from societal shunning, and from poverty by teaching them a skill, paying them a living wage, and ministering to their heart. In doing this, they also created an easy, quick, simple way for me to buy beautiful jewelry, bags, and other gifts to give to my family and friends for Christmas.

And buy I did – I think everyone in my life now has at least one product from Karama.

Shortly after that, I decided to do an exhaustive search, trying to find as many organizations as I could that had this double blessing philosophy, which led to me writing a super-long Christmas shopping guide to tell you about the best products that I ran across.

God was speaking to my heart through these discoveries, and at the same time, He had been prompting me to find a way that I could help The WellHouse, a local ministry rescuing victims of human trafficking right here in Birmingham as well as all over the nation. The discovery of double blessing organizations was one of the pieces that God used to unveil what exactly He wanted me to do – and that was to open Picture Birmingham, where I could sell products derived from my photography and give 100% of the profits to The WellHouse.

Picture Birmingham

It felt kind of crazy of God – I wasn’t exactly looking to create an organization, or really to add anything to my already quite-Thanksgiving-sized plate of life. But it was completely unavoidable. And somehow God has multiplied my time to enable me to do it, although my office looks a bit more tornado-stricken than it used to, and my husband and Siri have to remind me daily to do simple things that just don’t fit into my brain anymore.

But it has been exciting, exhilarating, and downright shocking at what God has done. Since starting in March, Picture Birmingham has been able to donate $5,000 to The WellHouse, and I have had many opportunities to share about their crucial ministry both on social media and in traditional media.

And now that Christmas is rolling back around again, I would ask that you consider adding Picture Birmingham to your list of Double Blessing organizations from which to choose gifts. My list from last year is still fantastic for jewelry and accessories, but here’s what I can add to the product selection this year:

1. Note Cards – Printed on luxuriously thick 100% cotton artisan paper and available in a number of different quantities, these make fantastic stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, and teacher gifts. They come in three different sets – two featuring scenes and sunsets from Birmingham, and one from the Gulf Coast.

All Note Cards

If you would like for me to print customized Christmas cards or if you have specific photos from my collection that you’d rather have on note cards, I can do special orders.

2. Calendars – a collaboration project with Mission Birmingham, this calendar is printed on premium glossy cardstock paper and features a different, beautiful angle of Birmingham each month. Prayer prompts are provided from Mission Birmingham as well, and at the end of the year, you can cut out the images and frame them, if you like.

Calendars

50% of the proceeds from the calendars go to The WellHouse, and the other 50% is donated to Mission Birmingham.

3. Curated Collections – In an effort to help people sift through the way-too-many photos that I’ve taken, I carefully chose coordinating photos for ten different curated collections.

Abstract Beauty Curated

Each of these collections has a theme – Birmingham Landmarks, Abstract Beauty (great for non-locals, as the photos are not location-specific), Railroad Park, Wonders of Alabama, Trains and Rails, and more.

Birmingham's Angles Curated

Each collection contains 3-5 coordinating photos, allows you to choose from five different sizing options, and is 25% off of the regular print price. Starting at just $41, these collections are fantastic for Christmas gifts, office decor, or wall collages.

Waters Curated

4. Gallery-Wrapped Canvases – every print in the shop is available on canvas. The three-dimensional effect of the gallery wrap along with the ready-to-hang ease makes this a fantastic gift.

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Also, if you’re local and one of those people that would rather browse actual products than look on the internet, I will be at West Elm at the Summit on Saturday from 11:00am – 3:00pm – I would absolutely adore it if you came to visit me! I will have prints, canvases, note cards, calendars, and postcards, and will be available to sign them (although I don’t really like writing on them and still think that’s weird. But whatever.)

Thank you so much for your support of my new endeavor – you and I together have helped multiple women find freedom from sex slavery – and that is so very totally worth me having an extra-messy office.