Christmas Roundup 2011

So it’s that time of year again. Time for the Christmas round up!

I’ve already posted photos of some of the gifts I made but here’s a pretty bowl that I finished in time for Christmas but not in time for that post.

Gave my aunt framed photos of lady-slippers in her yard. One of my

favorite gifts I gave this year!

As for gifts I’ve received, they were all awesome! One of the neatest gifts was from my friends in

Charlotte who sent me a box of tiny little spice boxes and two cook books one of which is cooking for one! And some really pretty snowflakes cut out of wood.

They weren’t the only ones who gave me books. I got two more, though they were officially Hanukkah presents.

Across the Universe

Hardcover and autographed which is awesome.

and this one, which is out of print.

Fifth Life of the Cat Woman

 Looking forward to reading both of them. And, while I’m at the Hanukkah giftlist, I also got a  beautiful locket. It’s copper on a pretty copper chain and there are bits of rosemary inside the locket.

Rosemary for remembrance…..

There were other gifts too, including some Creative Memories things, gift cards, cute note cards and a pretty carved cross. Everything was really great. I’m a lucky girl!

All the gifts I gave this year were either hand made by me, hand made by someone else or purchased locally. I don’t think I had to purchase a single thing outside of my county. So, the goal for the upcoming year will be to do the same thing for every other gift giving occasion in 2012.

Now, it’s time to watch all the Christmas specials I’ve DVRed including the Dr Who special: The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe. Wonder whose going to destroy the world this year.

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This Year’s Gifts

Last year I made all of my gifts for family and friends and this year I have made a good number of them. The rest I have purchased locally. Pretty proud of that, thank you very much!Today I baked cookies and small pound cakes for my favorite bookstore, cafe and a couple other retail places. I was also able to pick up the recently completed pieces of pottery! Only one more to go and it’s finished; just needs to be fired.

The teapot is covered in ladybugs. The lid says “ladybug  ladybug” and the handle says “fly away home”. The bottom is black to match the lid but I didn’t get a shot with that in it. When the lid is on, there are tiny little antenna from the little bug below that make the lid look like a giant bug. Pretty pleased with it!

The mug is for a friend whose nick name is painted on the mug. Actually, he’s not “no fun” at all, but the mug came out quite well. My favorite is the handle that says “Fun? No!” and the straight face smiley on one side.

Lastly is this scarf. Just finished the last bit this morning. It’s quite long and is doubled up in these photos. Two strands of yarn held together. Quite warm as well. I did it in a Farrow rib which, although the fiber lacks stitch definition, adds a bit of stretch width wise and also lays flat. I’ve got it packaged in a cool little 31 bags tote.

Final bowl to pick up this week before the end of the week and that’s the last of it! The last two photos here are of a bowl I finished some time ago that I have just not posted photos of as of yet. It was just for me.

Where do you spend your money?

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a friend about books. Not just reading books but also where to buy them. She was lamenting the plight of our local independent bookseller and how she does not see how they can compete with Amazon and B&N and that she, who is a big ‘buy local’ kinda person, has given in and ordered from Amazon quite a bit. Because money is tight. Because there is free shipping. Because it is 40% off.

Well, money is tight for all of us, that is for certain. But here is a different way to put things in perspective. When money is tight for everyone, and with the exception of the super-rich, it is tight for all of us, we tend to think we have less buying power. Well, we do have less money to buy stuff with, that’s a mathematical reality. But that also means every cent is more powerful in its affect upon the world around us.

This is far easier to see in non-profit areas, such as the church. During the fat times, people can give to multiple charities and it is not as much of a strain. The choice of who you wish to support is not as difficult to make. But, during the lean times, tougher choices have to be made. Do you give to your local congregation? Disaster relief? The arts? World Wildlife? Etc etc. Every dollar has to be thought through and its destination carefully chosen. In turn, each dollar is prized more by the recipient because there simply isn’t as much to go around and you know that if your organization received the donation it was far more likely that the support was genuine, deep and abiding. Organizations in the non-profit field stand or fall in lean times based not on services provided to the money sources but on the quality of life they represent or purpose and meaning they espouse.

Same thing is true of for-profit businesses. Each dollar we spend during the lean times has an impact upon which companies stand or fall.

As of late, there have been many pleas for Americans to revive their interest in choosing to buy American made products over those made in other countries. This is important for the very reason I just stated: each dollar has greater weight, goes farther and has more lasting impact in the lean times. I contend that we need to examine something else which is, most likely, even greater in significance: who are you buying from?

Extra discounts, free shipping and the like are all so very tempting. But what are we supporting? Better said, what are we choosing not to support? I’ll confess that I have an Amazon wish list and there are things I still order from them. But not books. I am slowly whittling away at my book list by ordering them one at a time from City Lights Books here in town. And the same is true for any gift or item I need. If it is at all possible, I will buy it from a locally owned business in the town where I live. If I can, I’ll buy it from someone who made it themselves.

Recently, I purchased an oil lamp for the frequent times the power goes out in this area. I could have gone to Wal-mart and gotten one for fairly cheap, but I went to the local hardware store instead. I chose to buy the same lantern, which was moderately more, and a smaller bottle of oil than I would have purchased at the big store. In the end, I spent the same amount I would have at Wal-mart and ended up with the same lantern and less oil. I’ve used the lantern several times and still haven’t run out of oil, so I didn’t even need the larger bottle I would have purchased at the store where I would have gotten a “better deal”. Wal-mart doesn’t really care that I did not buy from them. The hardware store does.

I may buy fewer books, bottles of oil, odds and ends and smaller portions of the necessities, but I want the money I do spend on these items to help the survival of a local business owner. Is it better for me to be able to buy as much as I want in a gluttony of false purchasing power, or is it better to moderately purchase and do so in such a way that it supports people who live in my own town? Amazon, Wal-mart, B&N and all the other big box companies will not feel the loss of my dollars but the local businesses here will feel their addition. They are investments in the future of their companies and, in no small way, investments in the local communities.

Here’s some other interesting information from the 3/50 Project:

If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. For every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, etc. (and that’s true whether the item you purchase was made in the USA or China or anywhere else, for that matter.) If you spend the same $100 at a national chain store, only $43 stays in the community. If you spend it online, NOTHING returns to the community. Get That? NOTHING. Not A Penny.

So buy a book from your independent bookseller, tools and supplies from your local hardware, cards and gifts from the little shop on the corner, eat at the small owner-operated restaurant, and get produce from the farmer’s market. Use the power of our fewer dollars to invest in local businesses and in our own community.

Christmas Gifts and Books I’m Reading Now

I always think that one of the best things to get for Christmas is a book. And this year I was lucky and got two!  The first one was from my mom and, according to her, I asked for this book.  I don’t remember asking for it but I am sure glad I got it!  I’m a big fan of Tony Blair and I am really looking forward to reading this autobiography.
  
 

 Then, from some of my friends, I got this bible. Now, it is kind of a joke amongst pastors that people give bibles as gifts to people who are professional religious. Gee, just what every pastor needs…a bible…because I certainly didn’t have one already.  However, in this case, this is a very unique bible. It is a graphic novel. It does not attempt to cover every last word of scripture, but it does hit the highlights.  I’ve only had a chance to flip through it but it is pretty good so far.  Great idea! 
 

The Action Bible: God’s Redemptive Story

 

Aside from these two gifts, I’ve got two others on my reading stack now.  Tea Rose is the first one.  This is not a novel I would typically select.  While it is similar in era to many of the steampunk style fiction I love, it is anything but steampunk in all other ways.  However, it is for my book club and it is always good to read things one might not normally pick up. Meeting is coming up fast and I’ve barely started it….

The Tea Rose

 

And Kraken is the other.  I’ve had this one since the summer and I’ve been really looking forward to it.  It’s in the leftover from summer pile which, unfortunately, still has a few things in it. This is also a writer I’m very curious about. China Mieville. Looking forward to this one and now that Christmas is over, perhaps I’ll be able to get to all of these without much delay!

Kraken

 

 

A Journey: My Political Life

Give the Gift of Reading

Since it is December and Christmas is just around the corner, it is that time of the year when we all look for ways to give back, pay it forward, share with others, or however you want to label it—it comes down to giving stuff away. I’ve always love doing the Giving Tree/Angel Tree/whatever-it-is Tree that has the names of children who might not otherwise get a Christmas gift. I’m sure most towns have this sort of thing. You pick a name or, most often, a description of a kid, and buy a gift of some sort for them. This year I opted for the one at City Lights.
Did you know that there are kids who do not own a book? And I mean do not have one single book. And I do not mean that the do not have a book because they do not like to read but because their family cannot spare funds for books. Or perhaps the adults in the home either could not read or their family also couldn’t afford the luxury of books when they were kids.
Growing up, my home was a reading home. I cannot imagine growing up in a home without books and hopefully these will make someone’s life a little brighter.  I know kids would “rather” have toys…at least some certainly would…but I’d like to see a book on a shelf next to a toy.
Something else that is additionally sad to me about the lack of books  (and perhaps reading skills) is that it seems that the cultures or social groups that are the most likely to be book-less are often the very ones who value story and storytelling the most. How ironic.
Anyhow, here’s what I got to give:
Wow, this is one really beautiful book! The pictures look a little bit like woodcuts but the colors are brilliant. Artist is Andrea Wisnewski. Suitable for around third grade, I’d guess.
Another lovely, but totally different style of art.  This one is in both Spanish and English, so it would be useful for someone learning either language or if you had people in the house who spoke one or the other.It’s adapted and (I think) translated by Miguel Desclot and the artwork is by Ignasi Blanch and his work is edgy and almost graffiti like.
This is one of my absolute all time favorite books! Didn’t like the movie they made of it, just for the record. I got this in both the English version and the Spanish version as well. The book is awesome. Enough said!
I’ve never seen this book before. It’s all about numbers. The illustrations are fantastic–yet again in another style altogether from the rest. Author and artist is Peter Pavey and each page is chock full of stuff to look at! This is, I’d guess, about third grade again.
Awww, sweet Old Turtle. An ecology story for kids. When I was on internship at a congregation in Hickory, NC a few years ago we used this book as a sermon.  Not a children’s sermon, but a full Sunday morning congregational sermon. Again, illustrations quite different from the rest. Author is Douglas Wood, who has written quite a few other kid’s books as well.  The artist is Cheng-Khee Chee and it’s pretty amazing stuff! Additionally, part of the proceeds of the sale of this book go to environmental work.
Ok, I’ll admit I am a fan of Robin Hood.  I’ve not always wanted to admit it. But here and now I’ll confess it. Yes, I am a fan. And this is one beautiful book, too.  I was quite tempted to keep it! N.C. Wyeth is the artist for this very familiar story. His artwork is beautiful, of course.  This book is probably for just a little bit older kid–maybe sixth grade or so.
There was one more that I couldn’t find a good image or link for that was a Spanish language earliest reader kind of book. Really cute and Christmas themed.
And, Ok, I’ll confess this, too…since I”m all into confession today….I bought a book for myself as well.
Not only is this a great story which will make for good story-telling later on, it is just lovely. Written by Jeff Brumbeau.  The artist, Gail de Marken, is a quilter as well as painter. Throughout the pages there are just lovely illustrations and tiny little quilts as accents and decorations. I understand that there is a book about making quilts from the Quiltmaker kids books, so I might just have to locate that for myself as well!
So, go buy someone a book! Especially if that someone is a person who might not have any at all!
Happy Advent

Vegetable Fairy

When I came back from lunch today I discovered that the vegetable fairy had visited my desk and left some treasures

vegies

vegies

Two cucumbers and two peppers.
Quite lovely.
I have just realized how many posts I make related to food. Ha!
I am beginning to think that this is part of what living in a small town is all about–and that is just fine with me 🙂
peppers

peppers

Spent most of the day updating the other blogs–the one with sermons and the one with knitting. Now that I am making a serious effort to post something every day, it made sense to try to catch those up as well.
Tomorrow it is off to parts slightly east of here to get the new kitten! I do hope my current cat, Jesse, will get along with him/her when it arrives.

Blueberry Candy

A parishioner gave me fresh blueberries from her garden. I washed them in preparation to freeze them for use in a pie later on because it is too hot and time is too short at the mome

blueberries in the strainer

blueberries in the strainer

nt. But I couldn’t resist eating a handful of them right out of the strainer. They were soooo good that it was like eating blueberry candy.

Visiting friend has departed. Photos of the parkway tomorrow.