Sunday, December 11, 2011

it's a nifty thrifty Christmas.

We decided to cut back on the amount of money we spent on Christmas gifts this year.  We were motivated for several reasons, but this challenge has turned out to be a blast.  I still made many wonderful gifts through my Creative Memories business (custom calendars and personalized boxes of note cards) and Mike will still be baking his wonderful bread. 
But eight people on our gift list are in for a wonderful treat. Over a two week period I went to our local resale shop called Nifty Thrifty and did the bulk of my holiday shopping.  And not only that, I told myself there would be a $10 limit for each person.  The photos below show the amazing "finds".  Each photo shows the collection of items I grouped for each lucky recipient.  For real, all are now wrapped and under the tree --- and the combined price tag was under $80.

This adventure made me feel nifty... and thrifty.

dare to be unconventional.

I got the idea for this post when I was raking leaves at the new house with the first snow fall.  I meant to get the leaves picked up earlier this fall.  It just never happened.  I heard that 'snow was coming' so I popped out of bed on Saturday morning and started trimming back the peonies.  I had not worked for 15 minutes when the first fluffy flakes began to fall. I kept thinking to myself 'I hope nobody sees me out here or they will think I am crazy'... But then I realized that I was loving every minute of feeling the big snowflakes hit my face and felt like I was intimately involved in the sacred changing of the seasons.  I felt like I was participating in an exhilarating outdoor winter sport, staying warm and toasty in the cold with the aggressive physical raking and filling the pickup with my bounty.  At the end of the morning I was hoping I can rake leaves at first snowfall next year too!

In honor of this splendid event, I decided I would make a little list of other unconventional things we should try - and ENJOY:

Sleep until noon.

Send Christmas Cards two months late.
(I have had people thank me for this because they said they actually have time to read & enjoy it then. ha.)

Don't attend every single sporting event your kids are in.
(Use the time to bless your whole family by working on your family photos or planning a special meal.)

Grill in the middle of a snow storm.

Spend a fraction of what you usually do at Christmas by being clever.

I can recommend ALL of the above from personal experience.  Dare to do it differently.

Friday, December 2, 2011

how to be a lady.

Daughter Emily told me about a charming book she has been reading to the girls in her junior high classroom. As soon as I could get my hands on a copy of How To Be a Lady by Candice Simpson-Giles, I have been reading it to the girls at the dinner table.  The author shares common sense wisdom for everything from carrying a purse, to setting a table and etiquette on a date. The girls are listening, and so are Mike and I.

Most of the helpful instruction is given in one or two sentence blurbs like: "A lady never asks her friends in need what she can do for them.  It is better for a lady to respond to a need she sees than to expect a friend to come up with a job for her."  Or "A lady knows how to make and accept an apology."

This week I let the girls pick a section to read and they happened to select "How to Deal with Divorced Friends."  I appreciated the wisdom so much that I wanted to share the whole section:

Candace Simpson-Giles says "A lady regrets seeing any loving relationship break up, especially if she considers both persons to be her friends.  However, her regret is for their pain, not for her own.  She does not take sides in the marital strife; she does not carry tales back and forth between opposing camps.             If her friends are recently divorced, a lady does not attempt to put them in situations - a small dinner party, for example - where they will be forced to encounter each other.   She tries to maintain communication with both parties, but she understands that she is now friends with two people, not a couple.   Maintaining these friendships may require twice as much effort - and twice as much time.             After a reasonable amount of time has passed, however, a lady may feel free to include both friends in the same event, especially when a good many other people are involved.   To forestall any anxiety, though, she is thoughtful enough to make sure both parties are informed ahead of time.  She also makes sure that her guest list includes other single people, so that the divorced person does not feel like a fifth wheel."

Such lovely advice.  I am happy to print this because I am sorry to say that I have learned that people need some help to be graceful in these circumstances.  Mother Rabbit also wants to salute her friends that have known how to manage this delicate place with love and grace.