Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Handmade and Current Works in Progress

I just wanted to talk a little about why I even bother to make handmade as much as possible.  Of course, the the most obvious is the personal satisfaction - the creative outlet - the joy.

But what I want to talk about today, is the fact that how we choose to spend every cent can be an act of resistance or an act towards changing our economic systems.   Who we support with our dollars means everything.  So many people think their actions will not matter - but that is crazy thinking.  If we all stopped buying at Amazon, then Jeff Bezos would stop being the richest person in  history, the CIA would stop paying him, he would cease to own the Washington Post, and he would stop buying out smaller companies.  One person should never have so much power.  Ultimately, though, the power is in our hands.  I know this hard but it is so possible.  I think our income may have us very close to the poverty line for a family our size - but we are hardly poor (to me poor means without hope).  It is truly a matter of priorities for most (not all - there are many that are not as healthy as we are, don't have any hope in their lives - for many cheap is truly the only option.   Please don't think I am judging. )

So, when I create from raw materials, I am supporting the maker of those raw materials and the business I purchased them from.  I definitely don't choose to buy those materials from Amazon (although I have, such as paper - and I am committed to not doing so again).    I sometimes buy my yarn from Knitpicks and although, I would much prefer to buy from local stores and small fiber farms, with the amount of knitting I choose to do, I could not afford to do so.  However, when possible, I do often buy yarn from my local yarn store in Belfast.  Her prices are not any higher than most online stores.  This way I support a shop on Main Street, I support an individual that is sharing her passion with others.  In addition, when I attend a fiber festival I enjoy supporting the local vendors depending on what my budget can afford, which is such a treat.   I am also challenging myself to use up textiles that I come across that would have otherwise been trashed, such as when our children out grow their jeans, recycled jars that can be made into holders, and bits of old clothes that can be used to make quilts.

The pictures above are my works in progress.  The first is my first handmade holiday gift.  It is a pair of socks for Mike.  Although he sees me knitting them now, he will for sure have forgotten about them by Christmas.  The pattern is free from Purl Soho and I am using some yarn I had purchased this past December.  My goal is to finish by February 15th or sooner.

The other is a gift for Emmy for Valentines Day.  She was looking over a Rite Aid flyer that came in our mailbox and saw stuffed animals holding candy boxes and thought that would be a wonderful Valentines Gift for herself.  I commented that it would be so much better to have a handmade little animal holding a small box of sweets.  So, a Valentines Day cat is in progress.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and what you are making.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Handmade Holiday 2018

So, has anyone started making lists and started in on their first handmade gift for 2018?  

I dedicated one of the three moleskin notebooks our oldest daughter, Abby, gave me for Christmas to make lists and keep track.  

I am going to be honest, here.  January, February, and March are very hard months for our family financially.  These are our businesses slow times.  I have been very negligent about saving money for the slow times.  This year I am committing myself to not spending anything for just this year unless absolutely necessary.  And, when business gets busy, to save money for these down times.  

So philosophically, of course, I believe wholeheartedly in handmade gifts.  I avoid big box as much as possible.  We enjoyed shopping in nearby downtown Belfast this past Christmas season and supporting local merchants.  But, ultimately as much handmade that can be made would be best as long as the recipient is going to appreciate it.    So back to being honest.  This past December, as our business was busy, I bought several gifts at Amazon - uggghhh!  Amazon is something I am committed to not using at all this year and instead, to plan ahead and support local small businesses or simply go without.

I also love making - that is another reason for a handmade Christmas.

Finally, I am challenging myself to use the materials and supplies I have on hand for making.  If I really dig and am creative, there should be few items I will need to buy.

And, I am going to share one of my harder goals for this coming year - to not buy any of the beautiful magazines - just for one year.  (I actually do like supporting those small businesses and the inspiration is wonderful.  This is going to be a very hard one for me!)   We need to get our finances in order and I know that I have a stack of back issues that have plenty of use still left in them.  Many projects and ideas I have yet to use.  I also have plenty of crafty books that I can find more than enough ideas.  Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the overwhelming amount of ideas on Instagram or Pinterest.  

I look forward to your sharing.  Let's use #handmadeholiday2018 if you like to share that way.

Warm wishes,

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Handmade Christmas for 2018

So I got very few handmade gifts done this past Christmas and I am determined to do better this coming year.

The first step is for me to make a list of the people I want to make something for... and then write next to their names something that they could use or would like - that something, being something either Mike or myself could make.

The next step is to pick one person/project on the list and come up with a plan for that project.  For example, if it is a knitted item then I would need to search for a pattern and make a materials list, buy the materials if I don't already have them (although I would really love to use up my stash), and set myself a time frame to get that one project finished.  

Would you like to join me?  I am going to use one of the moleskin notebooks Abby gifted me for Christmas, and devote it to Christmas 2018 and start in on the first step.  I hope to begin on the first gift by this coming Monday.

Warm wishes,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Baby Goats and the War Machine

We weren't planning on baby goats this spring as Mike made a separate fenced in area and shelter for our buck and we moved him over the very end of October or the beginning of November.  But, this must have happened right before.  God must have known I needed baby goats this spring - they are just the sweetest.  Yesterday we let them and their mom free range around the yard.

On a separate, not so sweet note, is this ridiculous war in Syria and it seems as though the administration is about to expand our involvement.

Please do not believe the main stream media without checking out facts for yourself.  Don't even believe your politicians and intelligence agencies without seeing physical proof.

Please read through these articles and if you agree, contact your representatives and senators and demand that the United States stop arming the so-called rebels, stop escalating our involvement in Syria, let Assad stay in power for now, and get back to the negotiating table.  There is no proof that Assad was behind the chemical attacks.  Why would he have?  He was about to get everything he wanted - The Trump administration had just said the US wouldn't advocate for his removal, Syria and Russia and perhaps the US to some degree as well, were making huge gains in pushing ISIS out, and they were about to resume peace/negotiation talks.  

Really dig into the origins of the Syria war.  It was probably not an uprising from within.  The likes of the United States, with our so-called allies, Saudi Arabia (does that make any sense???), Turkey and Qatar supported the uprising that eventually over the years attracted members of Al-Qaeda and other radical organizations.  Our country, because it is controlled by the wealthiest few, loves war to fund all the corporations and  loves the prospect of putting a pipeline through Syria.

Do you know that Syria was a secular country where women had equal rights (rare for a middle eastern country), people could practice their chosen religion in peace, education was free, and there was a good free health care system.  Of course, you couldn't challenge Assad politically, but I don't believe that is reason enough for us to challenge him.  Think of how many other countries commit horrific evils to their people, yet we do nothing, for example Saudi Arabia.  I am not advocating that we should do anything, but I am just arguing that there is no justification for regime change in Syria.

Please just remember that our government told us that the Iraq war was justified, that there was proof of weapons of mass destruction.  They lied to the American people.

Here are links to some good articles:

Sorry for the heaviness but I feel that it is so important.

Warm wishes,

Sunday, March 19, 2017

This Weekend

I treated myself to a $3.99 bouquet when food shopping on Friday and I am so happy I did.  Flowers make me feel so happy.  

On Saturday, we boiled off some sap from Friday's run.  It was only about 3 gallons of sap, so we just did it on the stove.  I baked two loaves of bread and Abby made a cake.

Part of our payment for working at our neighbor's organic farm on Tuesdays and Thursdays is food.  They had some local frozen lamb shanks which I have never had before.   They are cooking all afternoon today.  I also added vegetable stock, red wine, onions, garlic, potatoes and carrots.

Yesterday and today the sap is flowing a bit more, so Mike is boiling the sap outside.  He made this from metal roofing and we have our roaster pans holding the sap and then we bring it into the house to finish it off.

The view of our back yard today.  Tomorrow, though, is the first day of spring!

Today with it warming up a bit, I was able to clean out the chicken coop.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

By Faith

So our family has settled into our new little homestead here in Maine.  We love the house, the land, our neighbors, and our intimate church family.  However, our business has slowed down to the point in the last couple of years that we simply are not able to really "get by".  We have never gone hungry, but it just seems as if it should not be so, and not responsible to continue with such uncertainty.  We have opened ourselves up to the possibility that we are being moved in another direction.  While we keep our business going, either Mike or I will be working two days at an organic vegetable farm just one mile up the road.  That will help just a bit but really we are opening ourselves completely up to what God has to offer us in terms of vocation and employment.  To be honest, I am tired of being stressed about finances and wondering which bill I can pay on which day and if we are going to have enough sales tomorrow to go food shopping, for example.  I am tired of not being able to afford to go to the dentist.   I trust in God but I also know that we are to use wisdom and to listen.  So I open myself up and I pray for guidance and wisdom and for clarity that either our business provides or that new opportunities make themselves apparent.  So keep our family in your prayers and let me know how I can pray for you as well.

Warm wishes,

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Summer Fun

This summer my plan for our family was to have fun when possible.  Summer is just so short that we have all the other months to work more.  Of course, our business requires at least 40 plus hours a week but we are afforded flexibility to choose when we work those hours.  We have a very modest unpredictable income but there really are so many possibilities that don't require a lot of money.

Like so many other places around the county, this summer has been extra hot here in midcoast Maine. 

We feel have been swimming at a state park just 7 miles from us nearly every very hot late afternoon.  We like to go after the crowds have left and the sun isn't as likely to burn.  These visits to the lake have resulted in meeting two homechool families that live in a nearby town and already Sarah has connected with one of the girls.  Truly an answer to prayer.

We enjoyed a family gathering at my Mom's in Connecticut.  My mother and aunt surprised Mike and I and our children still at home, by flying Nolan and his wife up for the weekend.  They live in Virginia and it had been nearly a year since we had seen them.  What an amazing surprise.  The last picture was taken at that gathering of us with our seven children and two spouses.  (There was a tropical theme for the get together.)

So this past week, we went to a state park in New Hampshire and stayed two nights in one of their cabins.  Part of the trip's purpose was to meet my mother on our last day so that Abby could spend a week with her in Connecticut.  The state park was a good midway point.  The park was just wonderful!  The lake was beautiful and the walking and hiking excellent.  

Not to mention the weather - oh the weather this summer.