Autumn Pastimes

17 11 2010
Macro pinecone

Image via Wikipedia

If you grew up in a temperate region, you had leaves falling at this time of year. Do you remember jumping in the leaves? Do you remember raking up the leaves into the biggest pile you could, only for the reward of jumping headlong into their earthy mystery?

Perhaps you didn’t have leaves, but you loved collecting pine cones.  You’d bring them inside and show an adult, as proud as if you had made them yourself. Or maybe  you played football every Thanksgiving, reveling in the crisp air and muddy ground.

Harvest time, no matter where you live, has magical powers. If you don’t believe this,  you may need to spend more time remembering how it used to be. Once you’ve done that, pick an activity and help encourage a child who may not know what wonders await outside, even as the days grow shorter.

Rake the leaves, even if you know you’ll have to do it again later. Glue some leaves together into beautiful placemats. Pick up the pine cones, and proudly display them on your Thanksgiving mantle. Head out for some football and return, out of breath, with rosy cheeks.

Seasonal pastimes are as close as your memories.

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Eco-friendly Christmas Gifts

7 11 2010

I’m brazenly breaking my own rule about discussing Christmas before Thanksgiving. However, it’s fun and often necessary to think about the presents we’ll give to others well in advance – especially when making them. In that spirit, I give you a sampling of ideas you could use with little prior crafting or cooking experience. All are a great way to reduce the price tag and wastefulness of holiday gift giving.

  • A Storybook Life has an easy-peasy idea for ornaments or gifts that look and smell fantastic.
  • Right@Home is the source for simply elegant jar gifts. Not seen on that page are their inventive cocoa mix jars.
  • Consider gift baskets! My husband and I had a fun and impromtu date night one Christmas making a basket for extended family members with dollar-store items. There was something in it for everyone, and the creativity involved kept us entertained.
  • For many more homemade gift ideas, visit Martha Stewart’s Santa’s Workshop.

Obviously, the degree to which a handmade gift is also environmentally friendly depends both on the source and type of materials needed and the alternative gift you would have given. Some things to consider:

  • Source. Do I or someone I know already have some or all of the materials I need, or things I could substitute for them? Not consuming new materials is always the gentlest choice for the earth.
  • Type. If you must purchase materials, are there some that are made of recycled goods, and/or that can be reused or recycled when the recipient is done with them?
  • The Alternative. What would you likely have given that person instead? Would this object require more energy waste or pollution than what you will make?

Finally, if you are interested in reducing the “stuff” focus of your holiday season, check out this refreshing guide from Postconsumers.

Do you have any signature handmade holiday gifts?





Making It Yourself

1 11 2010

Let necessity be the mother of your inventions. When you have a need or want but would rather not spend, see what alternative you could make yourself. Examples:

  • Recently, I was bored with my selection of pants, so I dug out the pair I had been unhappy with and figured out (with not much formal sewing knowledge) that I could make a little alteration. Voila – favorite new pants!
  • Since all the billboards began popping up in September, I’ve been craving a pumpkin spice latte. Today I realized that there are usually internet instructions for store-bought favorites. Sure enough, I give you: DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte. It is cheaper than Starbucks, if you have the ingredients on hand and use the rest of the pumpkin for something else.
  • Finally, something I can’t wait to try, courtesy of Martha Stewart: accessories made with old jewelry and ribbons.

One caveat: these do-it-yourself projects can become addicting. That being said, do you have any good and crafty links to share?








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