Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's still 2008 here in Tucson, but it's 2009 elsewhere, so: Happy New Year!!! I hope that everyone here is having a safe and happy holiday.

Chris and I went out for a couple of things and to have dinner at our favorite Japanese restaurant. We were home before 8 and ready to spend the rest of the night at home relaxing! We've both been hard at work for the past week, so it's good to have a quiet night at home, just us and the puppies and some DVDs.

Oh yes! Dad and I finished installing the door. It needs some fancy trim around the outside to hide the fact that the Sawzall doesn't exactly cut straight lines, but it is a sturdy, fully-functional well-framed door. And I helped! My new power drill even came into play, because Dad's was too big to fit between the stud and the door frame. I'm so glad that I bought the one that is "30% smaller and 33% lighter" (or was it the other way around?) because otherwise it wouldn't have fit, either!

I'll be back tomorrow with the return of the Thursday Thirteen.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oh wait, it's a Monday.

I'm having a hard time keeping track of days right now. You see, usually when I dog-sit, it's on a weekend. So Weds-Friday felt more like a Friday-Sunday. This made it very weird when Chris was off on what felt like should be a Monday and Tuesday. It felt even weirder when we spent those two days getting work and errands done. I'm all mixed up.

My Dad came over today and started working on putting up the door in our game room. Chris helped. I mostly... uhm... well, let's face it, I was not very helpful. There's not enough work for three people on a project like that. I did things like held a flashlight and held nails, and did busy-work around the game room. Hopefully the door project will be done tomorrow, and then Chris and I can spend Friday (our next free day) putting up all of the insulation that will be delivered tomorrow. THEN it will be time for putting up drywall. Oh boy!

Really, the only part of this I'm looking forward to is painting the entire room jade green. It's going to be so pretty!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I've got tools!

We went to Home Depot today to buy the things we need for renovating the game room. Along with all the *boring* stuff like drywall and insulation and a door, we bought cool things, like a neon green cordless power drill, and a staple gun. Oh, the havoc I will wreak!

This week is going to be very busy, with renovations, housework, and holiday festivities. As we've done for the past few years, my family will be exchanging gifts on New Year's Day. Chris and I will be cooking the entire dinner, which is kind of a big deal for us. We're used to just cooking for two, not 5 or 6. There's going to be a big roast, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and corn. And presents. Woohoo! Presents!

I probably won't do any beading until Saturday, when I plan to try out the kit that I bought last week.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Where do puppies not belong?

Every now and then I'll forget to shut the bedroom door, and I'll walk in on a scene like this! One or more corgi will have made herself comfortable on the "people bed." And of course, as soon as I walk in, they start acting all cute, because they know they don't belong there, but they just can't help themselves. It's so comfy! And it smells like us!

They also like to help me make the bed. They'll jump up and bounce around on the mattress as I'm trying to straighten out the sheets. It's all very, very cute. (Obviously, I had not made the bed when this picture was taken. I'm a very lazy housekeeper)

Daisy and Maggie turned two a week ago. This is around the time when they should slowly start to calm down, as they're officially adults now. Of course, as herd dogs, they'll always be pretty energetic and bossy. But maybe now they'll start to get the idea that they shouldn't take flying leaps off of the back of the couch onto the floor, and that the kitty doesn't want to play with them, no matter how many times they ask.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm back home!

Hello blogosphere, did you miss me?

I had a great time up in Marana dog-sitting for my friend. Her three dogs were lovely as usual, and kept me nice and warm at night by sleeping next to me. Unlike my dogs, they don't lick my face while I'm trying to sleep, so they're actually allowed in bed with me.

Admittedly, I decided not to even try to get onto the internet while I was there. I knew that if I did, I would get almost nothing done. Instead, I gave myself the very special Christmas gift of an entire day with nothing to do but play Solitaire or work on my book (seriously, I have almost nothing installed on my laptop). So I wrote. My book is 15-16 pages longer than it was before I left on Wednesday.

But I should really be talking about that over on my writing blog, shouldn't I?

I came home to find the beading kit that I ordered from Buy the Kit in my mailbox. I'm not sure if I'm going to start it right away, or save it for the next time that Chris is at gaming and I'm at home. Either way, I am back in the mood to bead. My back and shoulders feel better after a few weeks of barely beading. I'll just have to be sure to treat them better in the future so this doesn't happen again. Less stooping, more stretching!

Chris and I decided to exchange a couple of late Christmas/early New Years Day presents with each other today, so I have a couple more awesome new pretty shinies to photograph. Looks like I really need to get out to the game room and take a ton of pictures.

And now, off to my other blog!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shhh! I'm hibernatin'!

Please don't mind the clutter in this picture, the area around Chris's desk is one spot of the house that I really don't clean.

My kitty Topher just loves paper of all sorts. He likes to chew on it, shred it, play on it, scratch it, whatever. So it came as no surprise to me that he staked his claim on this chunk of brown paper that was used as packaging material in a recent delivery. He kept jumping on it and playing around, to make it make crinkly noises. Then, when he got sleepy, he trampled it down and made himself the perfect little nest... awwww.

I love sleeping critters. They're just so adorable, with the way they curl up, and the content expression on their face. When Topher sleeps like this, he always reminds me of some woodlands critter, curling up in a den to hibernate the cold Winter away.

I wil be up in Marana house-sitting tomorrow, Thursday, and part of Friday. I may or may not have internet access, so I may or may not make blog posts! I just hope it's not cold and rainy while I'm up there, as I was looking forward to a little Christmas hike with my doggie pal Gobi.

In case I'm not around to blog on Thursday, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pretty Shiny Things!

A collection of pretty, shiny things! From left to right, a beautiful hair dangle by Elise Matthesen, my finally-completed faerie button pendant, and the two pairs of titanium/niobium earrings that I bought at the Street Fair.

So, this afternoon I put the bail on my faerie button necklace and slid her onto my standard black Ndebele cord. I'll eventually make a nice green necklace for her, but I do like how the black cord picks up the black accents on the button. I'll also eventually take a nicer picture of her, but it's cold tonight (by my standards), so I wasn't about to go out to the game room to take photos.

After Chris got off of a very frustrating day at work, we decided to go out for food instead of eating in, and while we were out, I had to stop in at the PO Box, because someone reminded me that I haven't been checking it ;) Inside, I found two surprise packages! One held the lovely hair dangle, similar to ones I've admired in the past, and the other held the silver ring from Creative Mode that I included in my T13 jewelry post (I was going to include it in the picture, but I don't have a ring display).

So, a big "thank you thank you thank you" to my anonymous reader(s) who sent me these wonderful gifts! The turquoise in the dangle is the perfect color to go with my faerie costume, not to mention a lot of my day-to-day clothing. And the ring is so wonderfully elegant, just right to go with my Goth and Steampunk clothes. You're too kind and really brightened my day! Also, I promise I'll check my PO Box more often.

I included the earrings because people asked for pictures back when I bought them. Aren't they cool? The blue ones remind me of lightning, and the purple ones are the same style as the aqua-green ones that I bought last year, and match the purple top I was wearing at the fair.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What I did tonight:

Sad to say, but that's every holiday present in the house (not counting whatever Chris has for me). We really cut back this year, and Chris has barely started shopping for his family. Heck, two of those gifts are late birthday presents for my mother-in-law. Nonetheless, they are gifts and they are wrapped!

I'm not big on traditional holiday stuff, so I made due. While wrapping these presents, I had some nice festive cinnamon incense burning, and I went through a few CDs: A Very Scary Solstice by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, the Projekt Dark Noel collection (which reminded me of why I don't listen to it ever), and then because I was out of Christmas music (because the other HPLHS CD is missing), I kicked it old school with some Mary Chapin Carpenter. I also brewed myself some tea, but it was horribly bitter, so I forgot about it until it was also horribly cold. Oh well.

To successfully wrap these presents, I had to make a few sacrifices to the Dark Lord Topher. As a cat, he's naturally drawn to wrapping supplies, especially tissue paper and ribbons. So I gave him some tissue paper that was in a package we received recently, and put it on his cat tree. Then I cut him off some ribbon that was already too damaged to use, and I draped it over him. Plus I let him play in the box that all of the bows had been stored in. The best part was when he jumped onto the tissue paper, with the ribbon wrapped around himself! Ah, kitties. They're entertained by the silliest things.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No Thursday Thirteen this week

I did a "25 random things about me" over on Facebook today, so I don't really feel like coming up with a list of 13 things for today.

Actually, I'm downright lazy today. I've spent the day at my computer, wearing fleece pajama pants, catching up with an old friend who I hadn't spoken to in years. Sometimes, you just need to have a day like that.

I can't believe it's only a week until Christmas! Of course, my family doesn't really do Christmas, and I'll be spending the day at a friend's house sitting her dogs... but hey, it's only two weeks until New Years Day, when we do exchange gifts. I still need to find one more gift for Chris, and then start wrapping everything. I don't have a whole lot to wrap this year, as we purchased fewer gifts than usual (a few nice gifts instead of a lot of silly gifts, basically).

And now, back to being lazy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's in the oven?

A Christmas ornament is in the oven! Ok, it's not very Christmas-y, but both of my parents like dragons, so it's appropriate. And it's a nice Christmas-y shade of green, with gold (and also blue, but maybe the blue is for Chanukkah. It's a mixed-faith dragon). This picture was taken right before I popped it in the oven, in case it doesn't turn out. At this point, it has about another 20 minutes to go, so I won't know for a bit if it's a success or a dud.

I wanted to make more ornaments, and let my friends take their pick at the game tomorrow night, but the vast majority of my clay is rock-hard and/or crumbly. Next time JoAnn's or Michael's is having a good clay sale, I'll go restock. I might also pick up some more rubber stamps, since this was fun and relatively easy to do.

So, first I conditioned the clay by running it through my pasta machine a couple dozen times. This was the only annoying part, as the pasta machine has this seperate handle that goes in a socket, and it's loose, so it kept falling on the floor.

Once the clay was conditioned, I formed it into a semi-square shape and pressed down really hard with the dragon rubber stamp to make a really good imprint. I wanted to make a circular ornament, but I quickly discovered that I didn't have anything the right size to cut out a nice circle, and there's no way I could cut one free-hand. So instead I cut along the outline left by the edge of the rubber stamp. Then I used a tool to smooth the rough edges, and poked a hole in the top for a hanger.

Originally, I was going to just dust it with PearlEx powders, but I decided that it needed a little more, so I picked out a nice blue from my package of embossing powders, because I recalled reading that you could use them to make a cloissone-like effect. Of course, I have no idea where the book I read that in is, so I have no idea how to do it right. That's why I took a picture before baking. It may come out of the oven looking like some sort of mutant dragon freak. I had a little trouble getting the powder to just be where I wanted it, but nothing too bad.

After that, I dusted it with some gold PearlEx, and then used a paint brush to distribute it a little more evenly. I touched it up once more after taking the photo, because I noticed a couple of clumps. Now it has a nice all-over gold shimmer. Well, all over the front at least. I left the back plain.

All in all, including finding my supplies and cleaning up my mess, I think it took me an hour to make, and then 45 minutes in the oven. I'll probably put a quick glaze on it when it's done baking (another 5-10 minutes of work), and then it will be ready to go to my parents' house with me tonight. Yippy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Closed for the holidays!

Erthe Fae Designs is now closed for the holidays! The one exception to this is if you're in Tucson and want to arrange an in-person meet-up to receive your jewelry. Otherwise, I will be avoiding the Post Office until the 27th. I do so hate lines.

I was so excited earlier, because I thought I was all done with my holiday shopping... but then I discovered that my husband's main gift was $15 less than I had budgeted for, so I have to buy him one more little present. Not sure what I'll get him, and I can't even discuss ideas here, because he reads my blog. Hey Chris! Want to drop some hints? Yeah, I didn't think so.

My parents randomly decided to have a Christmas tree this year, so I think I might break out my polyclay and make them an ornament tomorrow. I can't make a beaded one, because their young Siamese-mix kitty Loki likes to play with the tree. Silly Loki! My parents deserve a special ornament, because Dad came over here at 8 o clock last night to fix our furnace, thus saving us from a very cold night. Hooray for Dad! He rocks!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day at the Street Fair

Today, Chris and I went to the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. As usual, it was a fun way to spend a few hours (and some money). I actually managed to buy one holiday present, thus justifying it as a holiday shopping excursion, and not just an excuse to make a lot of impulse buys.

It was a nice day out, not too cold and not too sunny, but close to too windy (one booth actually blew over partway!). The street was packed with people. This is why I prefer to go on Fridays when I can, as there are usually less shoppers out on a Friday. I always manage to get stuck behind slow, meandering people -- or worse, smokers! Bleh!

There was a lot to see today, not just booths (which seemed to stretch farther than usual this year), but also street performers and such. One pleasant surprise was a group of bird of prey keepers who had a booth next to the main performance stage. Not only did they have some sort of falcon and some sort of hawk, but they had a real, live bald eagle. She was huge and beautiful, just an amazing presence.

Although I try not to do too much shopping this close to the holidays, I did pick up a few things (I figure it's OK if it's something that no one I know is likely to buy for me). I got a plate with a beautiful sparkling green glaze on it, two pairs of awesome titanium earrings (one fancy blue pair and one simple purple pair to go with the new purple shirt I was wearing), and Chris got a neat ceramic squid. We'd actually seen the squid at the Reid Park fair last month, but didn't want to carry one on the walk home, so we decided to wait and get one at this Fair. It will look cool hanging up in the game room.

As usual, I saw lots of clothing and jewelry that I wanted, but let's face it, do I really need more of either of those? Chris did his best to convince me to spend more money, but I was having nothing of it!

And of course, when we came home, our puppies were glad to see us, because we'd been gone forever*. All four of us kicked back on the couch with caramel corn (also from the Street Fair) and a silly movie. Don't worry, the caramel corn was for us, not the puppies, they just snarfed up anything that got dropped, and then begged for belly rubs when it was gone.

*Any length of time counts as forever in dog years.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wrapping it all up

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I love wrapping presents. Even though I get frustrated when I don't quite have enough paper, or I tape my hair to the package (hey, my hair hangs down to my waist, these things happen!), or the cat won't stop attacking the curling ribbon, or the bows keep insisting on falling off the package because their glue is drying out, it's still fun.

But as I become more environmentally conscious in my old age (you know, the ripe old age of 26), I'm starting to feel a little guilty about my wrapping tendencies. It's bad enough that so many presents come in an excess of packaging, but now I'm adding to the waste by wrapping everything in shiny paper and then layer on the ribbons, bows, and tags. What's a girl to do?

Obviously, as a crafty girl, I can come up with some clever ways to wrap gifts without adding junk to the landfill. Here are a few ideas; if you have some tips of your own, please post them in the comments section!

-Wrap presents in fabric instead of paper. This works best if the gift receiver is also crafy. But alternately, the fabric can just be saved to wrap future presents!

-Wrap presents with brown paper bags, and then decorate them! This has been a favorite tactic of mine for years. Paper bags are cheap (usually free), sturdy, and can easily be adorned with silly marker drawings, rubber stamps, and stickers. Then they can be tossed in the recycling bin.

-Put the present in some sort of re-usable container. Every year, everyone in my family gets a plastic shoe box full of stocking-stuffer type stuff. Once I've put away all of my holiday goodies, I turn around and fill the shoebox with beads. It's very handy. This year, Mom is talking about "wrapping" a lot of presents in those reusable grocery bags. This is another great idea. They're as cheap as a buck, they're colorful, and they're useful all year 'round. If you want to get fancy, you can search Etsy for reusable bags and get some very creative ones that cost more but can be considered part of the present.

-Look for standard wrapping items that can be re-used. My family usually passes back and forth the same sturdy gift bags and boxes for a few years before they get retired. As long as you tie them shut with ribbon instead of taping them, and use tie-on tags instead of sticker ones, you can get 4-5 or more uses out of a well-made container.

-Instead of bows, decorate your packages with Christmas ornaments, candy canes, or other small items that are festive and useful.

-Recycle and repurpose! Pull all of the tape and tags off of your used wrapping paper and toss it in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Recycle or re-use as much gift packaging as possible. Turn all of that leftover curling ribbon into a cat toy, since the cat is going to play with it anyway.

-Or burn it all. I suppose the smoke isn't great for air quality, but it is fun to toss balls of wrapping paper into a bonfire and watch it get consumed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Volume 5 -- December

Thirteen Things I like to do in December

It's no secret that I don't like Winter very much. I have no tolerance for cold, none whatsoever. Still, this can be a fun month, so here are thirteen things that I do to make December less Dreadful.

1. Holiday shopping! I avoid the crowds at the mall by doing the majority of my shopping on-line and at craft fairs. I just love picking out perfect gifts for the people in my life.

2. Wrapping presents. I'm not very good at figuring out how much paper it takes to wrap something and then folding all of the edges nice and straight like my Dad is (someday I'm going to make him show me how he does it!), but I really enjoy coordinating paper, ribbons, bows and tags for a pretty presentation.

3. Going to the Fourth Avenue Street Fair. This art and craft festival happens twice a year, but I don't always go to the Spring one. They close down Fourth Avenue to car traffic for several blocks and fill the street with booths full of handmade goods. It's a juried show, so everything is high quality, and vendors come from all over the country. Plus the street itself is lined with cool galleries, thrift shops and other neat places. And it's this weekend! Woohoo!

4. Sleeping in until noon with my Topher-cat. I know the weather is getting cold when Topher snuggles up to me all night and through the morning. Now that we have the dogs, I don't get as much quality time with my big, fluffy beast, so it makes me so happy to wake up and find him curled up behind my knees or against my chest.

5. Reading on the couch with my puppies. Now that Daisy has calmed down a bit, both girls like to take turns lying next to me, with their head in my lap, while I read a good book. It's quality bonding time, and they're so nice and warm!

6. Drinking hot spiced apple cider. Whether I microwave a mug of the Trader Joe's pre-spiced cider, or ladel out some homemade that's simmering in a crockpot at a party, there's nothing quite like it to warm me up.

7. Drinking hot chocolate. Also good at warming me up, and it comes with marshmallows!

8. Listening to the twisted Lovecraftian holiday tunes from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society. Those annoying Christmas tunes at the grocery store are so much more bearable when I overlay the parody lyrics.

9. Beading Christmas ornaments. I don't know if I'll get around to doing any this year, since I'm taking a bit of a break from beading... but I just love matching beads to the beautiful colors of glass ornaments and coming up with a little netted cover. I might do one or two for special people this year.

10. Exchanging gifts with friends and family. It's better to give than receive, but it's best when you can do both!

11. Enjoying various treats that only come out for Christmas. Limited-edition flavors of Jones Soda (I like their Mele Kalimaka, which tastes like a pina colada), Mint Truffle Hershey's kisses, chocolate mint candy canes, and so much more.

12. Even better, partaking in homemade goodies like cookies and fudge. Come to think of it, maybe this year I should do a little bit of holiday baking of my own.

13. Kicking back with Chris and the pups and watching DVDs. Ok, I like to do this all the time, but it's even better when it's cold, and we're both wearing warm, fuzzy robes, and Daisy is totally sprawled out across both of our laps, and Maggie is curled up against my hip, and Topher might even be at the edge of the couch, looking vaguely disapproving. Now that's cozy!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

December voting open!

You ever have a day when the internet seems to be out to annoy you? Not only do I keep getting disconnected, and having time-out errors and all sorts of other stupid things, but I can't get this image to load full-size. So if you'd like to see the full-size mosaic, view all the entries, and vote for the Etsy BeadWeavers' Snow Queen challenge, please click this link.

I'm #13, Snowdrop. My entry is far simpler than most of the others, but I'm still happy with how it turned out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go back to glaring daggers at my computer.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Slowly beading.

I'm slowly making progress on my faerie button pendant, and trying to decide what I want to do when I'm done with it. I'm actually almost done with the pendant, and I think I may just wear it on a ribbon for now and come up with a necklace for it later.

There's not a whole lot else going on with me right now, mostly just trying to stay warm and prepare for the holidays. I have 90% of the shopping done for my family, but as usual, Chris is dragging his feet on his family. I try to help by suggesting cool things that I find on-line, but he doesn't think that his family would like most of them. Bah. So I'm leaving it to him, and if the gifts end up being late (again), then at least I can say that I tried.

I'm not sure if I'll be making any holiday presents this year. Time is running out and I don't have a lot of inspiration, and besides, everyone probably has about as much of my jewelry as they can handle!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Volume 4 - Jewelry Edition

Thirteen Things that I wish were in my jewelry box

Ohh, look! I found the other headers on the Thursday Thirteen site, so I no longer inexplicably have a fly on all of my lists. Hooray!

You might think that, being a jewelry maker and all, I already have more jewelry than I could ever want. This simply isn't true. One reason why I make jewelry is that I love jewelry, and I always want more, more, more! So this list will showcase 13 pieces that I love and wish I had.

1. It would dwarf my girly little wrist, but I love Nancy Dale's beautiful Plumage cuff. Before I got obsessed with green, black and purple were my favorite colors.

2. I saw Creative Mode's Secret Sentiment ring on the Etsy front page, and it looked like just the sort of thing I would wear. Nice price, too!

3. I like all of niele's butterfly jewelry, but the Graphium Butterfly necklace is especially eye-catching.

4. MoonLitCreations' Mother Tree with Opal really appeals to my love for dryads.

5. These Dueling Dragon earrings by Misty's Creations are so neat. Actually, I almost bought them for my Mom for the holidays.

6. Morning Glory Designs makes pieces that look like elegant vintage costume jewelry. And Moonlight Bay has kambaba jasper, a stone I like very much.

7. I really like Melissa J. Lee's Ferryman's Coin, and best of all, I could work it into an awesome beaded necklace.

8. Thyme2dream makes so many nice things that it would be easier to say what I don't want from them... but this Lothlorien Spring earcuff is so pretty and such a good price that I'm tempted to buy it right now.

9. Ling Glass makes such lovely pendants with nice, clean lines. I'd probably were this Serenity Teardrop all the time if I had it.

10. I've been wanting this Bearings necklace by The Justified Sinner for a long time, and even on clearance it's just too extravegant to buy on a whim.

11. I have the perfect jacket to wear TotusMel's Victorian Lace Cuffs with. She's another one who makes about a zillion things that I want...

12. Ok, it's a bead, not a completed piece of jewelry, but this is the best raven focal I've seen from KerriBeads yet: Raven Moon.

13. And now I cheat, and say that I really wish that my own Elvensoul necklace was in my jewelry box. Sometimes it's hard to give up the jewelry that I make!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A shorter post

I might have another holiday-related essay-length post or two in me. I've been giving it a lot of thought over the past week. However, today I'm going to keep things short.

You may have noticed a general lack of bead and jewelry related talk around this blog lately. The reason for that is that I tweaked my back/shoulders and I can't bead for very long at a time right now. I need to make a doctor's appointment and get it checked out. Hopefully it is a temporary and easy to fix problem, and not some issue caused by my bad beading posture which I'll have to live with for the rest of my life. I tend to worry a lot about these sorts of things, which is why I haven't mentioned it until now... No one wants to hear me going on about how my back hurts and I'll never be able to bead or dance again, oh no, it's the end of the world!

Of course, I did not do myself any favors by taking Daisy up to the park for a craft fair on Sunday. I spent most of my time straining to keep her from constantly pulling ahead and eating popcorn from the ground. Both dogs really enjoyed the fair and got along with everyone they met, human and canine, but they also went along eating every bit of dropped food they found, and tried to get under peoples' tables. I don't think I'll take them to another craft fair until they've had some formal obedience training, but most people didn't seem to mind their slightly bad manners. Corgi cuteness apparently overcomes a number of flaws.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What are you giving this year?

Now more than ever, people seem to be giving greater thought to what they buy and give as holiday presents this year. Budgetary concerns, ethical concerns, safety concerns, and environmental concerns all factor in to gift giving decisions. Given the state of world affairs, it's difficult to just go out and buy the first thing you see. Especially on-line, I see people being a lot more concerned and conscientious about what they buy.

There are a lot of options besides going down to the local big box store or mall and paying for mass-produced, imported goods. But what is the right option for you? Buy American? Shop Local? Buy Handmade? Buy Green? Make it all yourself?

With many of our nation's jobs being outsourced, and much of our goods being produced overseas, Buy American may hold a lot of attraction for you. Of course, the fact of the matter is that there are somethings that simply aren't made in America. If you want to buy beads, for instance, you're limited to artist beads and a few lines of findings and charms.

If you see quirky little stores closing down all around your neighborhood, Shop Local is probably the best choice. We all want to keep our favorite shops in business, and in this declining economy, small stores need all the help they can get. Of course, if times are really tough in your town, you may not have many cool places left to choose from.

If you like one of a kind presents, Buy Handmade is a good choice to make. As an added bonus, you're often buying directly from the artist, and helping them put food on the table. The difficulty with this one is that some people are remarkably hard to find handmade items for. I don't know who's harder to buy for: the relatives who already dabble in all sorts of arts and crafts and can make almost everything themselves, or the ones who are too straight-laced to be into the kind of off-beat items that I like to buy at craft fairs and on Etsy.

Environmental awareness is big right now, and a lot of companies are capitalizing on this by going green. You may want to Buy Green if you're concerned about issues like global warming and overflowing landfills. You have a variety of options along this theme, ranging from upcycled crafts to items made from recycled materials to reusable items that replace disposables. Just make certain that you're still buying something that the receiver will enjoy, and not just using your gift to push an agenda.

If you're an artist, artisan, or crafter, making everything yourself is often a good way to go. You can personalize the gifts, save some money, and have fun doing it. The only drawbacks are that it takes a greater investment of time than just shopping, and there's always the risk of having one person who doesn't understand the work that goes into a handmade gift and belittles it, making you feel like dirt.

To get super bonus double karma points, you should buy handmade, recycled supplies from an American artist and turn them into personalized gifts for your friends and family. And in fact, if you can do that, I give you extreme kudos and I'd love it if you could post in the comments section and let me know exactly what you're doing.

As for myself, I find that it's impossible to adhere to any one gift-giving trend. I'm trying to be more conscientious about what I buy, but different things are appropriate for different people. It's up to each of us to take a look at our budgets and our concerns, and decide what is best for each of us to do. There is no One True Answer to politcally-correct gift purchasing, and chasing after that false ideal just adds unnecessary stress to what should be a joyous time of the year.