New Year, Refreshed Vision

beaverpond

snowed-over beaver pond at my grammie’s house last week – the little hump to the right in the background is their lodge, the dam is on the left but hard to see

Lissa, over at Barnacle Bags, inspired me this weekend because she came up with a word that she will keep in mind for the coming new year.  Take a look at her blog, it’s pretty lovely.

~

My word for the year, or at least for now, will be ‘simplify.’  I’ve always loved simple, clean things and am inspired by  stark white landscapes, pared-down closets with only a few, quality options, lack of clutter.  Oh, clutter, I know you well.  So this year (or, for now) I will work on simplifying, cleaning out and the reduction of all those little noises in my world that begin to drown out the real music when they get out of control.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Inspiration: Heartfelt Gifts , Playing Cards and Calendula

Calendula Salve recipe from Barnacle Bags Blog - click to view!

Beautiful, beautiful.  It’s Christmas-time and having had the very recent experience of battling crowds at our closest Toys R’ Us (and almost not surviving to tell the tale) I feel it’s very, very very (very very very) important to share the importance of giving a gift of time, effort and love over price tags + capitalism.

Every year as the crowds get crazier, and more pepper spray-ier my opinion on this matter gets stronger and stronger.  Our economy is driven almost entirely by a paradigm that seems to say “disposable is good, more is good, spending money equates status and I don’t care where this item came from, as long as it’s cheap.”  Whoa, whoa, whoa America.  Let’s take a step back!

Buying locally, from skilled tradespeople and artisans ensures there is a face and a name to go along with the product you are buying.  If there’s a problem with it, if you have a question about it, or sometimes even if you’d like to know how to make it these people are right there for you, happy to help.  Lissa, from Barnacle Bags, posted this amazing salve recipe (part 1, part 2) for her readers, even though it is a product she’ll presumably be selling.  How can she afford to do this?  Well, most of us DIY-ers turned entrepreneurs have the Achilles heel that we’re actually just super-psyched about the things we make, and want others to experience the happiness, too.  Try it next time you’re at a craft fair – ask someone about their method – usually they’ll tell you WAY more than you want to know!  Also, here’s a super-duper tutorial on playing card notebooks from Malaika at Hand-Me-Down Designs:

Playing Card Notebooks by Hand-Me-Down Designs

I get so sad when I am talking to people who are experiencing major holiday anxiety because of the pressures they’re feeling as a result of living up to ‘tradition.’  Like, they’ve married in to a family that is big in to gift-giving but said family is also really in to procreation so people are taking out big loans in December to cover their ‘tradition.’  That’s not a good tradition!  In our house, BIG Christmases were the way to go when we were growing up in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, we’re all adults now, and have shifted our gift-giving traditions to more family and food-oriented ones.  Every year we get together and eat like crazy on Christmas Eve, special foods we don’t normally cook.  On Christmas morning we do a little gift-giving (stretch it out as long as possible!!) and then we watch some kind of family friendly movie and eat some more food + cookies we don’t normally have.  This year we’re going to add-in some song-singing because the little one (she’s 2 1/2) really loves music.  What’s more special than quality time with family?  Definitely not iPads and Xboxes, that’s for sure.

This year, almost everyone’s getting something handmade.  The money I’ve spent on Christmas presents for the whole family won’t exceed $50.00, but the time I’ve spent making everything is probably pushing 40 hours of ‘after work, TV-watching’ time.  While I know not everyone can knit or crochet, everyone has the ability to do something that someone else can’t.

Are you good at fixing cars?  Making cookies?  Babysitting pro bono?  Building bird houses?  Even if you can’t make a THING to give to someone, consider drawing up a nice ‘gift certificate’ for services you can offer your friends and family in the future.  

And, if you’re lucky enough to have enough income in your budget to really go nuts this time of year, showering out the contents of your wallet at local shops and at craft fairs giving directly to the artisan is going to do WAY MORE for your quality of life and the American economy than waiting in next year’s Black Friday lines at 4am.

If I don’t get to the bloggy-blog before the big man is shimmying down the chimney:  MERRY CHRISTMAS, internets!!