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Archive for the ‘Buy Handmade Pledge’ Category

Even though I never do anything to celebrate ’em, the solstices are two of my favorite days of the year.  I suppose schlepping in the ice and snow to Grandma’s house will count for ‘communing with nature’ in an NYC sort of way, although I’d prefer less asphalt and subways in between.

I am woefully unprepared for the holidays, sort of.  Nothing is wrapped, no gift tags have been made, and even my scarf clocks in at 2/3 completed.  This last part will hopefully be rectified this week–I keep wondering if it’s bad form to take my knitting to therapy (with a halfway har har).  Tomorrow is wrapping and papermaking, I freaking swear, and we should make the mozzarella already.  I mean, seriously.  I have all of these pie-in-the-sky ideas and my follow-through sucks because I get all ‘ooh, shiny’ about new projects.  On the other hand, should you come to my house and need a sticker, sheet of construction paper, or otherwise have a pressing need to make a papercraft, I can actually find what you need.  This is a huge deal to me even though it wasn’t even on the radar before Wednesday or Thursday.  It makes me want to make stuff, y’all.  Just not the stuff I’ve been planning to make for the past month.

I do think, however, that my plans to simplify my life through getting rid of stuff we’re not using is going to be a roaring success.  It’s already looking better in here, and I’ve barely begun packing things away not to mention that nothing has been removed from the premises.  I’ve rearranged some stuff in the master bedroom, a little in the kids’ room, a wee bit in the dining/music/art/Halloween room and sorted through the crafty stuff (I have had to implement a strict ‘if we haven’t reused it in 6 months it must be recycled’ policy about which I have mixed feelings.)  When this whole project is completed, we will have additional space in the kitchen closet for less-used items from our overcrowded cabinets, we will have additional counterspace, and best of all, we will have more space for dried food storage.  In the living room, we will have space for the kids to run around.  In the kids’ room, we will have space for a crib and, ideally, for the baby’s toys.  In the dining room we will have more space for those projects I never finish.  And eventually I will either be able to get into my closet to wear non-yoga pants-and-t-shirt outfits *or* I will be able to turn it into something practical, whatever that may be.  A place to escape from the children?  A super-claustrophobic writing nook?  The possibilities are endless!

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Throughout the holiday season, I have attempted to buy predominantly handmade goods for presents and while I do not have a final tally, I am comfortable saying that I am pleased with how I have done.  Much is handmade, and if not handmade Fair Trade.  I did get some from teh Amazon but that was mostly from smaller sellers therein.  I did not do as much donating this year for the holidays but I did throughout the year so I’m pleased with that as well.  I did, however, end up buying more than I had planned so that is something to work on for next year–remembering that it’s not how much you buy but how much you love.

And so to all of you, I hope each and every one of you is surrounded by people who love and are loved by you, and that your holidays are full of joy.  I am thankful for every comment, every friendship, and every connection I have made here and I hope to see you all in the New Year.  Now that I’ve said that, you’ll be treated to a million posts, of course, but as of right now, my plan is to spend some time in Facebook real life.

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No paper has been made as yet.  Chico’s stocking came home yesterday.  Gift shopping is complete.  And Santa?  In a startling about-face, Lucy is now completely ignoring the fact that she told me she knew we were Santa.  WTF?  Children.

Anyhow, that brings us to this morning.  I have a crisper full of veggies begging to be eaten before they go bad.  This is actually a good thing, since the CSA break has rendered the rest of the fridge pretty barren.  The freezer and pantry are still stocked, thank goodness, but you could land a plane in there with barely any rearranging.  And so a soup is on its way tomorrow.

After some considerable laziness on my part, I finally got the toilet cloth set up again.  Double-washed, everything superfluous pulled out of the basket, the whole nine yards.  Seriously, I’m already doing the cloth dipes and baby wipes.  I have no excuse.

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My resolution for the New Year is to start up the Riot again in earnest.  I think we’ve held steady at our last numbers which were pretty darn close except for consumer goods.  We still don’t take taxis, it’s been two years since we’ve been on a plane, and even our long-distance train travel has been curtailed with the arrival of el Chico Problematico.  Electricity has been holding steady at 9 kwH a day (100 % green power) although it will be higher with the Xmas lights since I didn’t switch to LED this year as I had planned.  The part I’m most pleased with is our food, which has been around 35% local at worst.  And it’s catching–our Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law’s was damn near 100% local and my mom has found a place not prohibitively far away where she can get local produce, meat and eggs when she’s not too bogged down with a lunatic job.  I did a big trip to the bulk store on Wednesday and we are now fully stocked on beans, rice, popcorn, and sesame sticks for Lucy in addition to the nuts and dried fruits we already had.  All we need is a place to find bulk pasta and I will be one happy hippie.

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The Buy Handmade Challenge is over for me as, well, everything has been bought.  Handmade gifts for Lucy, Chico, C, several cousins, my FIL’s partner.  Donations for MIL and step-FIL.  Social justice gear for FIL.  It’s been really nice again to support artisans and fair trade organizations.  I think this will be a nice habit to keep.

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There is still one class  that they haven’t announced the lecture time yet.  I have received my textbooks already.  I find this infinitely frustrating.

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It’s Alive!

I am in an insufferably good mood this morning, which is odd considering the bebe nursed every hour throughout the night.  I’ll be passed out by two o’clock, no doubt, but in the meantime, here is the holiday planning dump.

Lucy and I are making paper today.  For gift cards.  And then we’re going to do some spinning and dyeing for yarn what to tie the cards on with.  It looks as though we may be able to do the entire holiday with leftover and/or reuse wrapping.

Then I am going to drag myself out to pick up a stocking for el Chico since the one we used last year is too small for big clunky baby toys.  It’s the cats’ stocking anyway, and we’re making them each a catnip toy this year so we’ll be needing it.

Lucy has figured out that Santa is really Mom and Dad so we’re far more relaxed this year.  She’ll be able to help with wrapping things for the Bub and the like, and we don’t have to fear the middle-of-the-night peeking.  I think also it’s less of a letdown this young.  She’s so emotional that I really feared a breakdown when she found out.  This way, she’s quite philosophical about it–‘I don’t mind, Mommy, because I always like the presents you and Daddy get for me.’

What else…we are three gifts shy of being completely finished with Xmas shopping.  I am damn well triumphant about this.

And with that I must get up out of this here chair and get cracking.  But first, I have to go bury my nose in the Dragons Blood soap I got from Creative Wanderings because it literally smells better than anything I have ever smelled before.  I want to get a bar for every room in the apartment.  It’s amazing!

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Last night I watched Life and Debt, which is a documentary about the effects of globalization on Jamaica, chiefly the effect of IMF’s lending practices on the people and economy.  One of the lines that stuck with me the most was when the spokesperson for the IMF said that people in the so-called third world deserve the same freedom to buy things that the rest of us enjoy.

Say What?

This hits home this year, especially as we’re coming full-speed into the holiday season.  Over the past, let’s say two years, I have gone from a self-confessed shopaholic to a person more able to assess whether I am buying something because I really want it or just because I want to buy something.  But the holidays have always been a sort of glut.  Much of that is wanting to show appreciation for family and friends, because it feels good to give.  But part is getting caught up in a frenzy, or worse, wanting to make sure not to seem cheap.  Meanwhile, my house is already filled with things we use with varying degrees of regularity.  FIlled, in fact, to the point that we regularly need to pass things along to others and I’m sorry to say, filled to the point that every so often we come across things we have forgotten we even own.

It doesn’t make me feel very free.

Lucy has been listening to the Little House on the Prairie audio books for the past several months.  She sits in bed every night and often puts them on first thing in the morning.  She is as in love with them as I was as a little girl when I would play ‘Long Winter’ by piling all of my stuffed animals and dolls onto my bed and pretending we were huddling together for warmth.  For her part, she pretends to take furs to town to trade for jackknives and candy because her ‘cousins are comin’ for Christmas and those can be their Christmas gifts.’  A jackknife and two pieces of candy.  Can you even translate that into today’s holiday extravaganzas?  Are we really happier now?

I don’t know yet what we’re going to do for the holidays.  I really do want to break this notion that it’s a lousy holiday if one doesn’t get enough gifts (for sure, I sat at a former friend’s house one year and listened to his sister stomp about for an hour because she hadn’t gotten as many presents as she had the year prior, and this was a college-aged person, not a child.)  I also don’t want to buy presents simply because we need to spend an equivalent amount as everyone else.  At the same time, I don’t want to seem cheap or worse, not thoughtful.  It’s gotten so complex over the years, and I really have come to dread the holidays in general.

I do know, as I told C when he got home, that we are paying strict attention from now on to what we are buying.  No more running up the street to the Gap because it is convenient, forgetting their sweatshop labor.  I’ve allowed myself to become complacent.  No more spending money just because there’s nothing else to do.  I’ve allowed myself to use shopping as a hobby more often than I’d like.  And this year, I really want to be able to enjoy the holidays instead of freaking out about the shopping or the money or both.  If I have the freedom to buy things, I have the freedom to not buy as well.  I’m going to try to exercise that one a little bit more.

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I’m taking the Buy Homemade Pledge again this year.  Hopefully we’ll be making some gifts as well as buying.

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Pretty damn well.  Folks who got handmade gifts:

2 aunts, 1 SIL, my FIL’s SO1 niece, 1 daughter, and Lucy’s teachers (made them bookmarks.)  And me!

Folks who got charitable gifts:

both kids, C, the cats, 2 nephews and 2 of Lucy’s cousin

And my gifts were either handmade, from a museum, or from Gaiam.  Yup, I did get a bamboo skirt and an assload of bathroom CFLs.  Awesome stuff!  Because the only thing separating me from full-on hippy is a closetful of tie dye and better taste in music.  Mine, I mean.

Incredibly proud moment:  Lucy asked for octopus cloth TP for Christmas and I managed to find some!  She’ll likely be horrified by TC in a year but for now I am so proud that she wants to use it.  We’re also using mostly hankies instead of tissues.  Next up paper towels.

I did not buy handmade for C because I got him a turntable that converts vinyl to mp3!!! Awesomeness.

The best part was that neither kid got any superfluous gift.  Little for Chico since we still have all of Lucy’s toys (ok, I got him  Johnny Cash onesie and kid’s cd) and mostly books and clothes for Lucy, plus board games and puzzles from us.  And!  The only present of the lot that required a battery is the alarm clock for which we can use rechargeable ones.

And since I’m feeling especially guilty about the amount of waste from the last few days…we are currently running one heater, in Lucy’s room.  We turned one of the main room heaters back on a few weeks ago and turned off the one in our room but tonight we were sweating balls, so we’re going to test this arrangement.  Even with the heater off in the bedroom I’ve had to use footless sleepers under the swaddling to keep Chico from overheating.  It’s craziness.

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7 years ago, my grandfather died.  He was a nice person in addition to having led an impressive life, and I rather liked him.  I did not get to know him as well as I would have liked but I was lucky to get the time with him that I did.  I’ve never much been one for heaven, but he was and so for him I hope there are miles of books for him to read, the finest gardens to plant, and the people who went before him.

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Back before I spiraled into the pit of ennui, I received my order from Creative Wanderings and I am beyond thrilled with it!  Everything is lovely, I am completely addicted to the lip balm, and I can’t wait for Lucy to open her soap goodies tomorrow.  I may even give her the soapsicle today as a special treat!

Jennifer, thank you so much!  I’ve recommended your goodies to anyone and everyone who would listen 🙂

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Please, PLEASE keep me off of that site.  I mean, don’t because I’m finding the coolest gifts there, but after the holidays?  Purge memory.

It’s total crack.

Also, please send thought-vibes to anyone purchasing a gift for me that they find the glory of Etsy, because half of the trouble is wanting one of everything.  I mean, I bought two things tonight under the guise of being presents for the baby.  At least they’re actually for the baby, but still.

Today was a cranky day, and all I’m getting done is shopping for presents.  The house has exploded, hasn’t been vacuumed properly (not dustbusted) since pre-baby, and the only things I’m caught up on are laundry and dishes.  And by ‘caught up on’, I mean ‘not drowning under’.  At least I took a nap with Chico this afternoon so I’m not blank-staring my way through life anymore.

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