Small Things

1 09 2016

Waking up when you didn’t remember it was Saturday

The tea at just the right temperature

The first sip of coffee on a cold, tired morning

When you are alone for the first time in some time, and the room is silent

Coming home, sitting down, removing your shoes and petting the cat

Entering a house from the cold outside when a fire is in the hearth

A bee on a flower, oblivious

A butterfly wafting where you cannot

When the rain starts and the heat is broken

When the rain ends and all is new

Eating the first cherry tomato, warm from the vine

The first flower peeking through the cold ground

The cat lying in the shaft of light; a book on your lap

Taking out the finished pie

A chocolate chip cookie, still warm and melted

The first cookie of Christmas, eaten while leaning against the counter in the warm kitchen

Happening upon a brook in the forest

When you arrive at the beach and hurry out to stand before the waves

A bird landing on a low branch, inspecting you

Wildlife in the garden, unaware you are watching

Walking out of the office on the day before vacation

Christmas Eve at midnight

Christmas Day, before the house has risen

Easter morning sunlight through the church windows





And so it is New Years . . .

2 01 2011
2008 Taipei City New Year Countdown Party: The...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, actually, yesterday was. Now it is January 2nd, and the resolutions tend to fall away like wrapping paper and party hats. Heaving a great sigh, people return to their jobs and brace for the rest of the winter, thinking about summer or maybe an upcoming vacation. Whether or not it snows, the magic of the season just passsed seems lost in the landscape.

What can we do to prolong the joy of Christmas and the determination of New Year’s Day? Perhaps it is our most subtle habits – our comfortable ways of thinking – that sabotage our best efforts to keep Christmas in our hearts and lose ten pounds this year. Maybe, if we defied the depression, rebelled against complacency and encouraged enthusiasm the rest of the year with the vigor we show in the holiday season, our sometimes empty vows to do so would prove true.

Oh, we should probably post our resolutions where we’ll see them, too. What unique resolutions have you made this year?





Thanks All Around

24 11 2010
The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

Image via Wikipedia

This Thanksgiving, you may or may not be looking for some new things for which to be thankful around your table. Whichever the case, allow me to suggest that we can be thankful:

  • That nature is resilient. With all of the scary things we’ve done to it over the centuries, nature still filters our water, produces our oxygen, and takes our breath away with beautiful sights.
  • That we’ve come a long way. Since the beginning of the environmental movement, we’ve risen to the challenges of learning to recycle, slowing ozone loss, and conserving shrinking habitats. Things could be a lot worse, and there is reason to hope that they can get even better.
  • That God provides. No matter what your situation in life, the natural world can and does sustain you and comfort you, giving both literal and figurative nourishment.

And lastly . . .

  • That you’re not a pilgrim. Life was super hard back then, and even in dire circumstances, at least we don’t have to contend with wolves and angry natives as we prepare our harvest feast.

Enjoy the earth’s bounty this Thanksgiving!





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.





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?





Get the most out of your Christmas tree

21 12 2008

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has some nice Tips for preserving the life of your cut Christmas tree–and, perhaps more importantly, how to use your tree once it’s reached it’s end.
Merry Christmas all!





Save Some Dough This December

17 11 2008

. . . And have more money for baking. Glamour magazine’s December issue states that of those readers polled, 55% spend $500 or more on gifts. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on holiday spending (and who isn’t?), try these ideas:

  • Give selectively. I am not the first to lament that Christmas has become an escalating consumer-fest, but have you really considered what that means for you ? I bet you can remember, right now, a recent time you gave a gift to someone and wondered why you needed to. The answer is: you don’t need to! Start your own campaign to give meaningful gifts and to give them meaningfully, which requires a) only giving gifts to those you wish to give to, and b) giving gifts for their significance and not their price or status. Those who love you will understand any reduction in quantity, and those who don’t? They don’t deserve a present, anyway.
  • Give homemade. Simple homemade gifts, elegantly presented, are great for giving to those you know less intimately. It’s a way of being thoughtful without spending too much, and it’s not hard to find ideas that don’t require special cooking or crafting expertise. Consider trying these ideas: Cinnamon and Applesauce Ornaments; Holiday Gift Ideas (scroll down); and Gifts in a Jar.
  • Send an e-card. I know, I know; they’re not made of beautiful paper with glitter, gilt, and ribbons, and they’re definitely harder to display in your home, but e-cards are often free, and the environmental benefit is great. Even if your family won’t stand for such things, send e-cards to your extended friend and co-worker network. It’ll save you money on stamps, cards, and gas to drive to the card store and post office. The Nature Conservancy has some pretty e-cards to get your started. You could even make your own; all you need to know is how to paste a picture into an email!
  • Don’t buy into fancy trimmings. You don’t need the blow-up snowglobes (they reek of planet-wrecking anyway), the timed light display, or even the designer wrapping paper. Try focusing on the spiritual purpose of Christmas, and when tempted, remember that people care more about what is in the package than what it’s wrapped in.
  • Cut down on the little things. Make a few sacrifices in your own life to meet more needs this holiday, especially if current conditions have you strapped for cash. Don’t buy unnecessary luxury goods like liquid hand soap (use a bar); special candy for your home (you’ll likely eat your fill elsewhere); and coffee from coffee shops (buy ground coffee in bulk and brew at home). Think ahead to save even more: can you push your haircut to right before peak holiday party time? Can you do all your shopping online or in one big day instead of making many trips?

One last tip: check RetailMeNot.com for coupon codes before making online purchases. Have a relaxing and simple holiday season!








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