Get a hot cup of coffee or cocoa (and a snack if you like) and settle in for a long entry today. Don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I seem to have a lot to say.
A while back I pledged to make at least 30% of the gifts I give this holiday season handmade, either by myself or someone else. I knew I would likely do better than that but little did I know what life had in store for me. A little digression here for a story…
Last week our family vehicle, a beloved Jeep Grand Cherokee that we have been nursing along the last year or so, took its’ last ride then quit for good. For those of you who are familiar with vehicles and their problems it threw a rod…’bad stuff’ for those who don’t know about vehicles and their problems. My family lives on a very basic budget of limited but steady income and we are so blessed to be owning (ie paying mortgage on) our own home. We have always also been very thankful for our transportation as well, since we live in a rural community where there is no public transportation and we are six miles from town. One does need a way to get to the grocery store or post office or wherever, so we’re feeling a bit stranded these days. We are thankful that our very busy daughter has been sharing her vehicle with us recently to get the places we need to be getting. A new vehicle just wasn’t in our plans or our budget this month (season, year, etc). The sudden loss of our Jeep brought about several good, yes I said good, things….1.)the opportunity to practice thanking God for all things and in all circumstances…wow, it is tough to feel gratitude for the loss of such a costly and necessary thing, but read on for more on why we are indeed thankful 2.) Similarly, the opportunity to truly have faith. Now, I know that everything will be okay in the end. That part isn’t tough for me any longer. But, the feeling stressed and down and not worrying part of having faith is harder for me. As I experienced these things this week I have been able to continually remind myself that having faith entails putting the stress and worry aside. This awareness in the moment is growth for me. 3.) In going through the process of looking at our credit as part of one possible solution to our situation I discovered an old student loan was showing up as delinquent on my credit report when in reality it is being discharged due to my permanent disability. Now, this loan is no small amount since it accrued interest for many years while I was unable to work and it was in deferment (before I became aware it could be discharged). This is a very harmful thing to have on my credit, especially when it shouldn’t be there. So, I have the opportunity to right this situation…an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if our Jeep hadn’t quit (because we don’t buy on credit and I am not very credit-responsible in checking on these things). And lastly, coming back around to the original topic 4.) Since our ‘gifting budget’ got quickly zeroed out and moved over to the ‘vehicle down payment budget’ the percentage of handmade gifts I’m giving has now skyrocketed to approximately 90%, allowing me to surpass my goal by a great deal! Go me!
My challenge…to create appreciated gifts using all supplies and items that I already own or that are free of cost, such as things in nature. So, here’s to hoping my extended family hasn’t found my blog yet because I’m going to share a little bit of what I’ve made thus far.
First, for a 14 year old niece who lives in a different state but has spent many happy times with her grandparents and my family here at Lake of the Ozarks I decided to make something so that she’d always have a piece of the Lake with her.
I chose a few rocks with flat surfaces from our property and decorated them with bright, fun images and inspiring words. On the reverse side of one rock I wrote her a little note. Some of the rocks can either stand up or lay flat and I’m sure she’ll find ways to intersperse them with her favorite things. The tag on her gift bag also has a little gift of two handmade vintage button embellished bobby pins:
Second, for her older brother…guys are just so hard to gift sometimes, especially when it’s handmade. If I knitted I could make a cool scarf or something, but alas I make jewelry and mixed media art. This took some thought. I decided to make a grown up version of a little boy favorite…blocks. I’m still in the midst of creating these, so the photos aren’t finished products.
The map is of the Lake here and the rest of that block has things about the lake like swimming, fishing and boats…images and dictionary definitions. The tall one with sheet music focuses on not only his faith, but also his singing with a prestigious choir. The square block’s theme is reading and has a vintage playing card from an old game that featured authors…this is Mark Twain and notes his two books “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckleberry Finn”. This block isn’t complete yet. The triangular block is simply about life’s “journey” as it states on one side. It has vintage German text as a background (family heritage) and I chose the vintage postage stamp from another country to go with the journey theme and because it matched the shape of the block. I added a textured brass metal corner decoration on the other side. I will be adding one more block since I think decorative items look much better in odd numbers. I’m sure hoping my nephew will like these… my own son thinks they are cool so I’m hoping he will, too.
My older nieces are familiar with receiving my handcrafted, one of a kind jewelry for gifts…they often ask for it on their lists. One niece recently commented on my Facebook biz page about how much she loved a pair of earrings I posted photos of, so I decided to create a pair just for her in the same aesthetic. Here are the earrings she liked (she might find this blog, so I’m not showing the ones I made her)
Lauren, if you are reading, go no farther! To add to her gift loot I made something for her freshman dorm room. It’s an inspiration/photo display where she will hang the soft handspun yarn lengthwise on a wall or across a window and use the vintage embellished clothespins to hang photos or other things from. I created a little hand stamped and hand sewn (though I really don’t sew) muslin bag to present it in.
Now, one of my other nieces has a blog here on WordPress, so I’ve got to be “mum” about her gift until after Christmas. The adults in our extended family decided years ago to draw names for gift giving so we each give and receive one gift. This niece is an adult now and I’ve drawn her name this year. Since each person receives from just one other person I love to make my gift a compilation of gifts to add to the fun. I usually gift at least one handcrafted jewelry item, or sometimes a journal or mixed media piece. I also like to pick up small items here and there in the stores that make me think of that person. Thankfully I had found a few things before the Jeep incident. This year will be no different for sweet Caroline, one of my favorite people in this world.
So, you ask, have you gotten new transportation? Well, not yet. Still having faith, still trusting, still thanking God for these opportunities. We do have a plan that is simply taking a bit of time to come to fruition. And if that doesn’t work out then I’m sure that there is another opportunity that is what is meant for our family. As long as we do the footwork God will handle the plans.
Peace to your hearts, Sara