Friday, December 16, 2011

the joy and the struggle

Hmmm, the Christmas season. 
I love the preparation for Christmas. I (generally) love baking, making and thinking of people I love as I think of gifts for them. 
I don't love trying to think of presents when I am uninspired... the "I'm only getting you this because I am expected to get you a present" present. I don't love creating handmade things and gifting them to unappreciative people who think I have taken the 'cheap' option by 'doing the homemade thing'. 

For anyone who doesn't know- many crafters don't necessarily craft for thrift now- my mum always made our clothes because it was cheaper (and I assume, for personal satisfaction!)- that isn't true these days. If I make myself a shirt, say, it will cost more that I could pick one up at a chainstore or op shop for, for sure. The pattern, the fabric, the time, the's not about thrift (it can be and that's pretty fun too)- it's about creativity and my spirit, as I have said here before.

I digress. What I don't love, is when gift has turned to expectation. Joy and celebration turns to stress and busy-ness. Thoughtfulness has turned to obligation. 
We don't get junk mail but I do see the piles that arrive at my work at this time of year- it's nuts. Really. And when did gifts for children get so massively out of proportion? In my opinion. I don't intend to judge other peoples practice, just expose the tension in my mind.
I could go on, this churns me up abit, but I wont.

I don't love so many people encouraging consumerism in my children- I don't like 'what do you want for Christmas?' but I dislike 'what are you getting for Christmas' even more. I have an 11 year old son and a 9 year old daughter. If you have hung around here abit you may realise we live relatively simply. 

I don't want to drown my children in stuff (there bedrooms get messy enough as it is!). But I also don't want them to feel like they are (and we are) total freaks because they haven't got their own laptop, iphone, ipod touch, playstation, tv in their room... whatever. There's plenty of time for those things, isn't there? 

Sigh, I really struggle with this. I read an article about a bloke who is a professional 'declutterer'- or something like that- he said children's rooms are interesting, it's often the parents who want to hang on to the toys but as he encouraged them to get rid of some of the stuff in the kids bedrooms every single time he would witness a child come in to their clearer room and dance!

I don't really want to teach my children to value their possessions above their relationships, but I have never heard some random stranger ask 'who are you going to spend time with this Christmas'.  I also want to demonstrate generosity and thoughtfulness to my children; my discomfort with all the 'stuff' isn't just about the huge drain on financial resources (although- I don't think there's any need to go into further debt over your kids Christmas presents, just quietly!) I hope they see and value the time I spend making jam and understand that that is part of the gift.

At 9 and 11 I reckon my children are now at a more 'peer influenced' age, so how do we parent so they are not excluded from there peers whilst upholding our values and what we think is important. I don't know what gifts our children will be getting from us for Christmas. Our family present from the 'in law' side of the family is a family ticket to Puffing Billy. Great present, we are going to have our 'big day out' in January probably.

I find the comparisons hard too. What are your kids getting? What did you get? My kids get home grown fruit and vegies, parents who hang out with them a decent amount, meals around the table, family games...I can't wrap any of that and put it under a tree but they are some of the things we have decided are important. 

Another article I read recently was by a Palliative Care nurse who said that many peoples dying 'regrets' are remarkably similar- they wish they had spend time with their friends more, maintained a bit of silliness (!), gone  abit slower... and the one that challenges me- had the courage to live according to their convictions- be who they are- rather than live according to how they thought other people expected them to live.

What a big rant, I didn't intend to rave on, there's alot banging around up in my head today and no other adults around- so I chose to 'chat' to you!

I'd be really happy to have a conversation about this stuff- does anyone else on the planet find the excess difficult? Wonder how to 'do' balance? Or do you all love the Christmas spend up? Am I just over thinking it all? 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Christmas baking has commenced. I made over 50 of these for the volunteers at my work, boiled fruit cake made in muffin pans decorated to look like a pudding... not my usual kind of baking but they were well received. I also made gluten free mince pies, the filling was good (apparently, I don't eat the stuff) but I need to work on my gf sweet pastry. I have more to bake and sew before Christmas...I need to start a list!

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Monday, December 5, 2011


I have been really excited about my toiletry bag. I haven't wanted to show you because it was a present- but it's been given now, so it's show and tell time!
Of course it's my next project from "You Sew Girl" for my Tanya and Nicole Challenge.
I wish you could feel it- it's 'crisp', not crunchy or stiff, or flimsy but suitably substantial...guess what...that would be the interfacing, I may be at risk of becoming a bit of an interfacing nerd! But I think it really does give it a wonderful finish. 
Lots of people who I have showed it off to have picked it up and felt it and commented about how smart it felt (I didn't bore them with too much about interfacing!). 
I found the pattern easy to understand and I am less daunted by zips than I used to be (the method of putting this one makes it accessible for anyone who can sew a straight line). I was thankful my machine doesn't tend to mind a bit of bulk at times and I found sewing the binding on was not problematic, but I am familiar with binding from my quilting- not that I have all those angles and turns when quilting. I machine sewed  both sides, and while I wasn't 100% happy with some bits I was happy to acknowledge that the 'overall effect' is what counts and don't think the dodgy bits were too noticeable- this is something that will improve with practice and I will get some more practice because I have three more on the go. Surprisingly both my children have put their orders in for one which was rather flattering- they are generally not overly forthcoming with praise or affection for some of my crafty projects!

Don't you love it when you have a gift that you reckon the giftee is going to love. These are some things I photographed while at her house on the weekend- see where I got my colour inspiration?