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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Handmade with Love

Last fall, we had discussed the fact that there was too much 'junk' coming into this house by way of cheap toys and goods made in China. We had a discussion with the kids about how buying from China was supporting the communist regime that was martyring fellow believers as well as not paying a living wage to workers and providing them with safe working conditions. We have been buying fair-trade coffee and spices through our co-op for a long time, but the purchase of other items that were not 'fair-trade' seemed counter-productive. Plus, the cheap stuff was not lasting and we worried about things like lead contamination and other chemical poisonings.

Our kids, known to really get on a band wagon if they like the tune, committed to not buying anything from China anymore. They even suggested we ask our extended family to give the money they would spend on gifts to missions. So we sent out a letter explaining why we refused to buy from China anymore and asked people to either makes homemade gifts or give the money in our honor. It went over like a lead balloon. Still, we stuck to it and the few people who went along with it ended up loving it. My brother and his son made Joe a walking stick with his name branded into it. His wife, who is very creative, made the girls all manner of frilly things that they adore and cherish. My best friend made me a hand-painted ceramic plaque if the 10 Commandments.

We bought a case of cds from Evan Levine and gave them as gifts, so the money went to support his family in Israel. We also made some handmade items to go along with the cds. Gary brewed homemade pops in 6 flavors, and it was really good if you drank it right away (we followed the directions but some of the bottles exploded after a few weeks and when we researched it with the Encyclopedia of Country Living, she warns of just that and says to drink it right away). I made homemade candies using the Enjoy Life chocolate chips that we buy in bulk (fair trade) and they were a real hit! We found a template online for a small candy box, and for the adults I made 6 different candies in mini cupcake papers. They looked just like a box of Whitman's! The kids got candy bars which I made by melting the chips and pouring into a new soap mold (it said handmade or natural, both being correct) and then adding rice krispies, peanuts, or caramel to the warm chocolate. We wrapped the bars and made our own labels, and they were quite impressive!



Still, after the holidays I was a bit despondent that more people didn't embrace the hand-made gift idea, especially in this economy. I seemed to once again be a weirdo with a weirdo idea. But then I got a wonderful handmade gift in the mail from my dear friend Bren. She had called to talk about anything and everything, and asked me what colors my kitchen were. I told her I didn't really have colors, it was more of an old time general store (or like the inside of Cracker Barrel). She made a mat for my table, and even without any colors to go by, she made it to match my tableware PERFECTLY!!!!!!!!



I was so blessed by that gift...but she wasn't done! She secretly put my name up for a random act of kindness, and yesterday I opened another surprise package to find this wonderful clothesline mini quilt. I had no words- just tears of appreciation. The card said it was a hug, and it truly felt like one. Thank you to Linda for the precious gift (in the exact colors to match my wall- how do you people DO that?!?) Incidentally, Bren was blessed right back by receiving an unexpected hug herself! Yah is so good to us to give us one another.



So now my vigor for the handmade is renewed. I have been working on perfecting my own recipe for hand cream (which my husband says truly smells good enough to eat) and I think I've finished tweaking my lip balm recipe, so next Hanukkah I will be masking skin care baskets for everyone (and not having to worry that they don't explode;). I'm already looking forward to having produce to share and learning to crochet properly so I can give a washcloth with homemade soap to every bride-to-be (all my cousins seem to be getting married). And as Linda said in her note, when you are making something for someone, you pray for them and think of them with every stitch. Isn't that a million times better than communist junk?

4 comments:

Linda said...

Amy I'm so glad the parcel arrived safe and sound and that you like it. It truly was a joy to make it for you and such a blessing for me to be able to do it for someone I didn't know. I always thought I'd done well raising 4 kids, so when Bren told me you had 7 I knew straight away that it needed to be a clothes line filled with laundry to hang in your laundry room.

Jeannie said...

I am so happy to see you posting again! I have decided to go on a blogging diet for now.. until I can feel where the Lord leads me, just really feel in a rut now a days... sorry to hear about the farm drama and the houses and what not.. I can some what relate when we bought our four little acres over a year ago there were minimal houses.. now they sprung up like cookie cutters... so so sad... anyhow please keep posting as much as you can I will surely enjoy the visit the next time I pop over..

Tracy said...

Excellent post Amy, love the pictures as well!!

Cheesemakin' Mamma said...

These handmade gifts are adorable! Your chocolate looks great, too. I love making my own chocolate, then I know what is in it and I can eat it guilt-free!

Great to hear from you my blog. Thanks for the gardening tips!

Blessing,
Jackie