Monday, April 22, 2013

The Real Cost of Handmade

(Climbs up on soap box)

I make a lot of the gifts that I give.   I knit these gifts.  I crochet these gifts. I sew these gifts.  I do some other kind of craft to make these gifts.  I am lucky to be blessed with people in my life that appreciate handmade items, but there is a negative connation that is sometimes associated with handmade/homemade gifts.  I will discuss that a bit further down. 
First I will tell you about my handmade gift-making process.
I want to tell you about my sister’s apron that I made for her for Christmas, even though I have no pictures to show you.  Although my sister knows the value in handmade gifts, this is the perfect example to show you my complaints with the common misconception.
Where the idea came from?
My sister is a chef, and I see her years down the road with little ones around her and she is in the kitchen baking.   In this mental picture of her, I see her apron.  It is an apron of a mom and aunt, not a chef.  It is a vintage style apron that has apparent wear to it.  I knew that that apron needed to be handmade, and I wanted to be the one to make it.
Next Steps?
I gathered the materials.  I did this well before Christmas.  I found the perfect pattern in October, and it was on sale for $1!  I continued to check fabric sales and found this light blue plaid with cherries pattern.  It was on clearance, and I bought the fabric and other materials for around $9! Total score!

This pattern was out of my league.  I am a beginner seamstress, and I needed help.  Luckily, I have a friend whose mom helped me.  She was amazing and I can say without a doubt, that Becky would not have an apron without her.  She and I spent about 14 hours working on the apron.  Part of that was due to the fact that I am amateur seamstress, and the other part was the dang bias trimming the skirt had.  What a pain!  I made my teacher take $20 for helping, although she deserved much more than that.
This is where the negative connotations or common misconceptions come in.
1.      People think handmade gifts are cheaper.   This is the one that bothers me the most. Handmade gifts are most certainly not cheaper.  I will explain. Yes, the cost of my materials and my tutelage came to a total of $30!  That is a great deal for a normal Christmas present.  But if you add in my time at an average hourly wage of a woman in the US which is $23, in case you are interested.  The total cost of my present soars to $352.00!  I will not even factor in the opportunity cost, remember Economics?  Things/activities that I had to give up in order to make this apron.
2.      People think that handmade gifts have less meaning or less thought.  No, I didn’t run out some corporate powerhouse and fight the crowds to get you the same gift that thousands of others will open on Christmas morning.   Instead, I thought about what I wanted you to have, and I took the time to make it.  TIME, not MONEY.  Money is a renewable resource.  More money can be made each day.  It can be saved and multiplied.  TIME is another story.  It is not a renewal resource; it can’t be saved or doubled.  In fact, time is slipping away from all of us.  And I chose to spend my precious fleeting time to make this gift for you. 
3.      People think that handmade gifts are not the same quality.  Well, this could be true depending on the skill level of the crafter.  But for the most part, the skill that we crafters have is amazing.  And even if it is not perfect, the time and love that went into it make any gift worth treasuring.
4.   People think that handmade gifts are not to be used.  This could not be further from the use.  I want you to use that dishcloth that I made you, until it is ratty and gross.  And then, I want you to tell me that you need another.  I want you to put that tiny sweater on that baby, I don't care if he throws up on it or stains it.  In fact, I would rather it be that way.  I want to know that you loved your gift  And if you love it, you will use it.  And it will show signs of use, and you will eventually need another one.  I know this, I look forward to it.

Obviously, this is a subject that I feel passionately about.  So you may be wondering how I deal with the people in my life that don’t realize the value of handmade? 

Easy, I buy them stuff. I don’t waste my time of making them something they will not appreciate. 

Why would I do that, when I know...

That Holly loves custom made character hats in the winter?
That Becky needs an apron for this future vision I have of her?
That my mom needs new crocheted towels for her kitchen?
That Terri loves the crafts that I put in her Christmas basket?
That Sandy loves the scarves and cowls I give her to keep her warm?
That Justin appreciates having a character doll that no one else has?
That Andrew loves his tank slippers so much that they are on display during the summer months?

I am busy crafter, so I craft for those who love receiving handmade gifts.  And the others, I simply will let the big box stores with their unoriginal gifts do their part.

(Steps off soap box)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Hot Pink Gardening Gloves

I have mentioned before that my dad has a green thumb; actually I think he has an entire green hand.
It is no secret that I had grown weary of apartment living.   I had become restless and very jealous of my friends who lived in houses; friends who had front yards for decorations at Christmas, real front doors for displaying wreaths, and backyards for the warm weather enjoyment and gardens. 
So upon moving to a house, one of the first things that I did was start to plan a garden.  So I called my dad, the expert.  We had several conversations about what I would plant, how I would plant it, and what I would do with the harvest. 
Finally, the time came to plant last weekend.  My dad came up to help, and he brought all kind of stuff with him.  The only thing that I had to provide was the plants, so Saturday morning, dad and I went and picked out my plants. 

 I naively thought we were just going to use regular dirt, but there is a certain mixture and a method to the dirt.

There is a lot of talk of raised gardens and things like that, and this method is very similar.  These pots will help me control the water that the plants get during the hot summer.  And hopefully, I will be able to keep little critters out of my garden by using this method. 
I planted tomatoes, jalapenos, cucumbers, and zucchini in these pots.
On the back porch, I have 3 smaller planters.  One of them holds sweet mint, and the two pictured below hold lettuce, rosemary, basil, and pineapple sage. 

Here is a pic of me and my dad after a morning of gardening.  You can’t see my hot pink gardening gloves, but they are really dirty.   It was a great time for me, and I think my dad really enjoyed teaching me how to do this. 

Here’s to fruitful summer!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A New Diet

I sometimes like to press pause in my busy life, and take a moment to reflect.  And I was doing that this afternoon, drinking my afternoon smoothie, reading an old blog post, and realized that I have been drinking green smoothies for almost a year.

So as I am nearing my one year anniversary of green smoothies, I would like to notate the things that I eat on a regular basis now, that were NOT in my REGULAR diet prior to the smoothies. 

-bananas (of course, I occasionally ate bananas before, but not nearly as much as I do now)
-strawberries (same as bananas)
-cranberries (delish in a fall smoothie)
-pineapple (I had never bought a pineapple before I started making smoothies)
-oranges and tangerines (the one I had with lunch today was amazing)
-Brussels sprouts
-turnips (my dad has been trying to get me to eat turnips for years)
-onion - (I still only like onions when they are roasted or fully cooked, but even this is major progress)
-Bell peppers – (same as onion)
- broccoli – I would this every now and then, but now I love it steamed, roasted, dehydrated, etc
-rutabaga – my mom has been making this for years, and now all of sudden I love it
-okra – same thing as rutabaga
-zucchini – I are squash before, but I have discovered a passion for this food.  Lets put it soups, breads, muffins, roast them, hash

I look at this list above and wonder what in the hell did I eat if I didn’t eat any or much of the above.  I don’t know the answer to that, except that it probably wasn’t good.

I am going to continue to try new things, and see what agrees with my taste buds.