Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday Suggestions

I had big plans to put together this beautiful, comprehesive, online shopping list of small sellers and crafters. I was going to contact those I wanted to list, get permission to use photos, list shipping specials, all kinds of good stuff.

Life got in the way. Thanksgiving came...I'm still, after 6 week on and off, fighting this cold (flu?, who knows!) that's kicking my butt, ahem!

Anyway, it's Cyber Monday today, thebiggest online shopping day of the year, so, instead of completely admitting defeat (who, me, human, needing rest, not doing it all? never!), I thought I post a few links to some of my favorite sites and sellers, so, without further ado:


If you haven't visited Amanda Blake Soule's rich blog about life and family, click the link just above and take a peek. I get so much from just reading her wise words each week. She's also written 2 books:

Handmade Home & The Creative Family

I have The Creative Family and I love it (thanks mom!). Lots of sweet simple projects to do for and with your children, written in a moving, accessible style.

I haven't gotten my hands on Handmade Home yet (budgets, budgets, sigh!), but I have read some great reviews, and I expect it's equally good.

Great gifts for the families with children in your lives, especially those seeking beautiful simplicity.

Anything on Etsy!

If you haven't visited Etsy, the great site for handmade items, check it out, now! What a great bunch of amazing artisans....lots of cool, neat stuff! You can also get some great vintage buys here, if, like me, you like the feeling of history that comes with something that has a past.

Some of my favorites on Etsy...

Gaddy Nipper Crayons

These are great fun for kids...crayons in all kinds of neat shapes, big and easy to grab for small ones. I purchased some earlier in the year as a gift, and one for Helena too...she loved it! I'm a big fan of giving consumable items as gifts...part of my no clutter goal...and art supplies top my list!

I have more I could add, but my day just got fuller...oh life! Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Many Gifts

This has been such an incredibly full, full year. So many changes, so much good. I have so much to be grateful for. I work at being consciously grateful for my many gifts everyday. Thanksgiving seems like a good day to put it out there, though. I think I'll add to this last over the next few days.

  • My health...down with this cold, but not out!
  • The health of my family and friends
  • My amazing husband and daughter
  • Friends I can call on when I need to
  • All the wonderful people in my life, not sure I could even count them all
  • Our 2 furry friends, so much comfort, so much love, so much silliness
  • Patrick's new this economy, wow!
  • Patrick's first raise...again, in this economy, wow!
  • Being able to cut down on my work hours and home school Helena
  • Our new house
  • Having good food, clothing, shelter (see above:-)
  • Having enough to share
  • Spending a relaxed Thanksgiving with some of the best of friends
  • Having Thanksgiving with friends I don't need to scour the house for (see above :-)
  • Changing the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
  • Love
  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Believing that I can affect my reality in a positive way
  • Feeling grown up and competent...sometimes, anyway :-)
  • Creativity that wants to overflow...need to find a space for it!
  • New connections with people that I think will become great friends
  • Sunrise today
  • Waking up to a clean kitchen
  • My favorite black tea in my favorite cup

Do you have a grattitude list? Post a comment, I'd love to read yours!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holidays, Shopping and Meaning

The holidays are upon us! So quickly, it seems, November is already drawing to a close, and the year will soon be ending.

This time of year always brings up ambivalent feelings for me. I love the spirit of the holiday season, and, to a certain extent, I love the gift giving aspect of it. But somehow, ever since I transitioned from childhood to adulthood (and thus left some of the magic behind?), I have a certain hollow feeling as we move into this time of year.

Helena and I will be volunteering next with our local homeschooling group to make pies for the Red Cross, which will be delivered to people who need. I'm excited about this! This aspect of service is something I want more consistently in my life, and one that I definitely want to instill in Helena from an early age. It feels good, it helps, and it reminds me of how small my own inner world is (which I can get so wrapped up in at times, ad nauseum) and how much more there is out there than me. This opportunity to get together with others and do something that helps feels magical to me...there, it's coming back a bit!

The gift giving aspect weighs me down, still. But I had an idea...of how it would mean more to me.

I really want to give more handmade items...would love to make all of my own, but life intervenes and that isn't always realistic (we just moved, and I still can't get to my sewing machine!).

So in light of this, I thought it would be wonderful to give more items made by other small artisan business, and even just items, not handmade, but sold by small sellers. I had a small Ebay business a few years back that did a modest volume, and that income was a real help to our family.

So, to get to the idea, I would love to feature, over the next few weeks, listings of individual sellers with handmade items or just small, mom & pop type online shops. I have a few things to sell myself, not much these days, but it is so fun to make a sale!

If you are one of these sellers, or know of someone who would be interested, please contact me. I would love to ad you to my posts. I'll do my best to market this, and would ask that everyone who participates spread the word in what ever way they can: blog, facebook, twitter, email lists, word of mouth....anyway that you usually connect with customers.

Connecting with and supporting others is such a warm, holiday feeling to me! Here's to a season of love and support!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homeschooling Helena

I have been thinking, a lot, on what it means to home school Helena. On what should be included in our routine, what do I want for her?

I was home schooled myself, back in the dark ages of homeschooling, when few people had heard of it, and people turned and stared to see us out and about with mom during school hours.

My parent's homeschooling style for us would definitely fall under what is termed today as "unschooling," which can be loosely defined as a philosophy of allowing the child to learn through natural life experiences. This style allows the child to lead the learning process by choosing areas of interest to focus on rather than following specific curriculum

On reflecting upon my experiences growing up in this way, I have mixed feelings. In life I always come back to wanting some kind of balance, in this case between the looseness of this style and something more directed. Extremes never sit very well with me, and this seems to be no exception.
It's nearly impossible for me to think about what I want for Helena without reflecting on what I think I would have wanted for myself, and here are some of the things I've come up with so far.

Structure vs Looseness: I do believe that Helena is already learning so much through everyday life, and yet I think she would benefit, even thrive, with some regular, somewhat structured learning. She's a little Virgo and seems to crave routine and structure...something I have a love hate relationship with myself. So finding a balance there seems rather crucial to me. In this I will take some of her areas of interest, and create some structured activity around them...this sounds tricky as I describe it, but I think it can be done.

Regular social activity: Helena is a very social person, likes to play and engage more than not. We lived a very rural part of San Diego county when I was growing up, and I did feel very isolated. I think there is something to be said for time alone, and I value very much the fact that I can be quite content occupying myself for long periods of time, but I also think I would have thrived better with more, regular contact with people outside of my family. I'm less concerned with Helena's ability to interact well with others, she already thrives in this way. I simply want to be sure to provide for this need.

Adult Role Models: This is a really key piece that was lacking for me and that I really want to provide for Helena. As mommy to a female child and as primary educator, (whichever style of homeschooling I choose to follow), I'm very cognizant of the fact that I have a strong influence on Helena. To a certain extent this is natural, but I want to be very sensitive to the fact that she needs to have other views of life and the world than mine presented and modeled for her. Especially as she nears her teen years (sniff, sniff, can't believe in some ways that I'm even thinking that way already), I want her to have other opinions to try on and consider and embrace if they resonate with her.

I think this list will go on and on, but these things are at the forefront for me right now. This will be an interesting journey, to be sure.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Extra Blankets???

Saturday I was googling for sewing blogs to fuel my fire (which doesn't need much these days!), and found Rachelcoxdesigns. She does some beautiful work, so go on over and take a peak. But my eyes were drawn to the button on the side, which looks like this. I've since added it to my blog as well.

As previously mentioned, I'm in the unpacking and sorting phase of moving and am aware of an overabundance of things, many different kinds of things. One category is blankets. Somehow (Patrick!) we have accumulated a lot more blankets than we can use in the foreseeable future. That's my new criteria, by the way. If I like it and can imagine using it in the forseeable future, it can stay, otherwise, bye bye!

But I digress. There are so MANY worthy causes out there, but this one really touched me at this moment. This is a project to send blankets to the children of teen mothers in the Kentucky Appalachians, to some people with so very little. The idea of anyone being cold, especially someone small, makes my heart ache. How fortunate I am to have something that will help here. My box is nearly packed, will go out this week.

If you have extra blankets, I have the address, email me or you can also contact Rachel Cox through her blog. They can be handmade or just any blanket in good condition provided they're not wool (an allergen for some), and size twin or smaller.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Little Etsy Shop

My Etsy Shop

And yes, I do mean little. I have a whopping 3 items for sale. But I figured mention of it was in order.

You see, in my quest for "finding myself", i.e., what's the work I love, I have several times read that one should look back to childhood for clues.

I have always loved to make things, paint things, sew things, otherwise create things. I can remember one December when I was about 8 spending hours painting pictures on leftover board ends from shelves my dad had made....I gave them as gifts to my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I doubt any of these are still floating around but the memory of creating them, of finding the boards, spreading newspaper all over the green shag carpet in my bedroom, of mixing my own paint colors, that memory is vivid and fresh.

My intensely practical nature has led me in many other work directions....being a starving artist, or a production artist never seemed for me....

But at this point in my life, a new year has begun (birthday this week), and it just seems time to jump in.

I have a zillion ideas of things to make...not always much time, but here, at least, are a few of my creations if you'd like to take a peek.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Our new home is coming together very slowly. Partly, because we've all been sick for the past few weeks, Helena and I during and after the move and Patrick just after. I'm not sure what we have, it's mostly cold/ fever or other flu symptoms, but it hangs on like an $&%!. I haven't felt this consistently tired and run down in I don't know when....

Anyway, as I was saying, in part because of our illness, and in part because I have been, frankly, appalled by the volume of stuff we have, it's taking some time to settle in. And it's only been about 10 days, so I guess I need not expect too much at this point.

Patrick looked at me the other day and said that it feels like we have already unpacked everything we need, so what is all this other stuff still in boxes? This, coming from my darling pack rat, was unexpected, and also echoed my own thoughts.

So with that in mind, I've decided to make this an intentionally slow settling process. This time around, and, blessedly!, with the support of my spouse, I want to really consider the things which occupy our space and how and if they really work. And then let a lot of them go.

To add some interest to this, the previous owner of our home left (with our consent) some things behind for us. This list ranges from some cleaning and canning supplies to furniture, to this gorgeous, vintage, just tuned up (can you tell I'm just itching to use it?) sewing machine.

Many of the things that were left here have already left to go on to new homes. But it has been interesting to live with the items that lived, at least for awhile, in this new home of ours before it was ours.

Today I find myself rather frazzled, unfocused, unsure of where to start with the unpacking and sorting process. We hit the kitchen and bathroom first, since these are utterly essential, and these two rooms are shaping up nicely. Bedrooms, beds at least, needed to be accessible, and this too is working. Logic seems to dictate that I focus on the office and living room next, but the spare room is calling me...

The "spare room" which has a guest bed, but will also be my sewing room, I think, is going to top the list. I think I will feel so much better about wading through all the rest of the stuff if I can just do some creating here and there.

So I think I'll work at this with the "pay yourself first" philosophy. I'll let you know how it goes.