it’s that time again…

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I always promise myself that I will be organised at Christmas time, that I won’t be scrambling around in a mad rush and I won’t be forced into buying things that compromise my values because I’ve run out of time! Alas, I am rather behind schedule and my list of things to make is gigantic… we are half way through November and shit is getting real in my sewing room.

I am quite the overachiever and apparently love nothing more than a late night sew-fest and the pressure of doing things at the last minute. As much as I hate it, I can’t seem to shake my ways. Oh well.

I’ve talked so many times before about buying nothing new at Christmas and supporting handmade and so on and so on. Apart from the fact that a Christmas-crazed shopping centre is my absolute worst nightmare, I love the feeling of really thinking about presents and putting the effort into cutting and sewing and making and giving something genuinely unique. I’m not sure if the people on the receiving end of my gifts feel this way… but it’s the thought that counts, right? This year I am going about Christmas in my usual fashion, however we are buying a couple of things for the girls – a wooden kitchen, a bike for Birdie and maybe a scooter for the Pixie. Unfortunately I can’t make these things. I did try to purchase the wooden kitchen secondhand but have had trouble finding what I am looking for. Two years ago we gave the girls a beautiful waldorf style doll’s house and I was lucky enough to find this on my local buy swap and sell site! So if you keep an eye out – you do find.

This year I’ve been making star garlands, pictured above, little shorts, and crocheted tiaras mainly. Most of the little folk in our circles will be receiving variations of these this Christmas. I’m also planning on making a dress each for Birdie and Pix, and something else… I haven’t fleshed out the list properly yet. I make all my family granola every year so will also be continuing with that tradition.

This is also my first year to make teacher gifts now that Birdie is at kinder! I am yet to decide what to do for our teacher folk, I’m thinking granola or a star garland. Any tips?

What are you making? Are you a mad shopper at Christmas? Do you write lists? How do you keep the madness at bay?



ditching the big guys


I went to a major supermarket yesterday. It’s something I still haven’t quite worked out how to avoid completely, but something I do a whole lot less of these days. When I was zooming up and down the aisles it dawned on me that it wasn’t long ago that I did all my food and grocery shopping there. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Birdie four and a half years ago that I started reading more and moving slowly towards a more sustainable, local and community driven life.

It is such an inner battle for me going to the supermarket these days. The things I buy there are now limited to things like toothpaste, tuna, cheese, yoghurt, oats, some nuts/seeds, spices, special ladies items, overnight nappies and… chocolate. That’s pretty much it.

Yesterday I found myself in the nut aisle and was outraged. At least half of the nut shelf was suddenly occupied by the supermarket’s own [cheaper] brand. Over the years everyone has noticed the homebrand of the supermarket slowly nudging in, haven’t you? Changing colours like a chameleon: look I’m red and white! Oh, don’t look at that cheap guy, come over here to me young lady, I’m exactly the same thing but look, admire my fancy pants packaging, look deep into the colours of my fancy homebrand packaging, don’t look towards the other brands… I’m just quietly sidelining the shelves. If I could just… elbow my way… Oh HELLO THERE! How did I end up here, right in the middle of the shelves? Where’s everyone gone? Oh goodness, what a surprise! Now you have no choice but to pick me, no matter what colour my packaging is… do you want… me in brown with fancy font… or… me in red… or ME?

Gosh it made me stamp my feet a little louder down that aisle! The thing is, I can’t even remember which brand I used to buy, but I know it wasn’t there anymore! Same for the sustainably fished tuna (if there is such a thing)… I have to stand in front of the shelves for five minutes trying to find the two cans that are squished into their tiny allocated spot while the supermarket’s own brand screams at me. Go away!

Changes have happened slowly in my kitchen over the last four-ish years, but they sure have happened.

I first changed my fruit and veg to a local fruit and veg shop when we moved out of the city five years ago. Then I took it a step further and now get my fruit and veg weekly in a box from an organic co-op. I was vegetarian for a while there so meat wasn’t an issue, but when I started to eat meat again, boy, what a conundrum. I now travel about twenty minutes from home with a friend and we buy our meat at a lovely free range butcher about once a month.

With these small changes it has meant that our diet has gone from 100% non-organic to around about 60-70% organic. I go all over the place for my shopping now. What I can’t get (due to availability OR price) at our co-op, I sometimes buy at one of a few organic shops that I frequent. I am buying a lot more things in bulk – flour, canned legumes, fruit.

Initially I got so overwhelmed seeing how people organised their food and where they bought from and so on. I didn’t know where to start. I’ve learnt when trying to change anything in my life, that it helps to start slow, to make small changes and soon those small changes accumulate until you look back and don’t recognise the place you began at!

Coming towards the end of the year, what are you going to change for 2014?

On Wanting

It’s hard not to want things. Want, want, want. It’s a horrible feeling, to be left, wanting. Especially at this time of year when shops are screaming at you, the television is reminding you of all the things you need, people around you are talking about all the things they are buying, and Christmas is looming. I have been trying desperately to avoid spending money on things, particularly at this hectic time of year when it would be much quicker for me to run out to the shops or order things online. There are so many wonderful and beautiful gifts out there, the thought of it is overwhelming.

However, a while ago I decided to have a Buy Nothing New Christmas. At that point I didn’t even have a sewing machine… it’s crazy what happens when you put something out to the universe. I now have a couple of sewing machines, a weekly sewing circle with other beautiful crafty women from my family, an enormous collection of vintage and thrifted fabric, and a growing pile of things I have made or modified.

A skirt - my Gran drew me the pattern!

Laptop cover made from an old woollen jumper which I felted

Cutlery roll - idea from Little Eco Footprints

Baby's bib - idea from The Crafty Minx

Boy's bib

Op shop dress - was size 18 with sleeves...!

I am slowly learning how to use the machine and thread the needle and fix mistakes (many) and so on. My workspace is also all set up – albeit on the kitchen table, will have to do something about this…

I was at the op shop the other day and saw a very cute medium sized 1970’s table for $15. I have since been having visions of this table set up with my sewing machine in our spare room in front of the window where the spare bed currently is. I have also been imagining the bed packed up underneath the house… And a vase with fresh flowers on the table… And people sleeping in our lounge room when they come to stay… And me with a cup of tea at said table sewing harmoniously in the mint green room while Baby is sleeping… I have not mentioned any of this to Prince Charming as yet…

I have also been thinking about the amount of things we are constantly buying, and the impact this has on both our purses and the environment. I’ve been finding much inspiration online at blogs such as Ecomilf and Down to Earth which has left me considering extending my Buy Nothing New Christmas to a Buy Nothing New 2011 (at least the first 6 months)… I am still thinking about the logistics of this and am feeling a little apprehensive… will keep you posted!