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Join me as I fulfill my New Year's Resolution to prepare for Christmas 2009 "all through the year!"

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All Through The Year Letter, February 12th

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Posted 02-12-2010 at 03:46 PM by Sapsorrow

Hello again, everyone!
Well, I bit off far more than I can chew on compiling a list of quick, simple giftable crafts. There are simply too many out there to categorize! So, after three weeks of trying, I'm going to admit defeat and instead share with you my favorite craft project sources (besides looking up craft books on Google Books, of course). Please do email in your favorite sources, just remember to click "Reply All!"

So, what am I up to this week? Enjoying being snowed in along with the rest of the country, it seems! Oh, I have been busy about the upcoming holidays and working on next Christmas. It's "winter end" sale at Land's End time again, and would you believe that swimsuits and spring clothes are included? So I've stocked up on winter essentials while they're cheap. Snowsuits, snow boots, holiday pajamas, etc. We even nabbed adorable spring rainboots for the little ones' Easter baskets!

Ah, yes, Easter baskets! I don't know about all of you, but we're looking forward to it already. We nabbed half peck "bushel style" baskets at Michaels on 40% off sale. These baskets actually look like they'll hold up to berry picking, as opposed to the full priced Easter baskets that look like they're disposable. Lined with bandanas and packed with spring necessities such as Easter dresses (a sweet polo dress from Land's End), rain boots, rain hats, slickers, and for him and I, seeds and gardening items, I'm afraid that there will still be a little too much room for chocolate bunnies, little waxed cheeses, hardboiled eggs, and Annie's cheddar snack bunnies and graham bunnies (like goldfish and teddy grahams respectively, only organic and tastier). We can always make up coloring pages to use up space.

Mathom Tip of the Week
If you don't know what a mathom is, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! No, I won't tell you. It's your responsibility to go read the Lord of the Rings, or Google it if you want to continue being an unwashed heathen ^_~. In this context, I'm using it to refer to stocking stuffers, basket fillers, and all the other small giftables of the year.

The ideal stocking stuffer is small, pretty, elaborately wrapped, and thoughtful. Sound familiar? Sounds like a party/wedding favor to me! Look for discounted favors and favor packaging, even generic candy seems special in a pretty "satin" box or organza bag. There ought to be real deals on these from June into July when the wedding season is over. Also use favor crafts as inspiration, and enjoy every second making them knowing that you won't be making 150!!

Digital Crafts Sources
Martha Stewart ([URL="http://www.marthastewart.com"]www.marthastewart.com[/URL]) - Love her or hate her, the reputation she's received for extremely labor intensive crafts is unfounded. Most of her crafts are simple, quick, extremely giftable, and "assembly line-able to boot!
Dollar Store Crafts ([URL]http://dollarstorecrafts.com/[/URL]) - An entire blog developed on the theme of crafts made from dollar store items! Brilliant!
Make Baby Stuff ([URL]http://www.make-baby-stuff.com/index.html[/URL]) - Don't you just love truth in advertising? Make Baby Stuff is about exactly that: making baby stuff.

Analog Crafts Sources
You know I'm going to say it: your library! But don't limit yourself to the usual suspects. Remember you can check out back issues of the library's magazines such as Real Simple, Vogue Knitter, Martha Stewart Living, BHG, and so on. When those resources are exhausted, look into the CHILDRENS section! The best crafts I've ever encountered, including about a hundred methods of brewing soda, were from kids' books!

Green Tip of the Week
Every year someone suggests "if you must wrap your gifts, wrap them in newspaper," and every year the majority of the people on the planet reject this idea as pretty blatantly depressing. A tree with piles (ok, a modest pile if we're listening to the "wrap them in newspaper" crowd) of newspaper wrapped packages seems a little bit like a bureaucrat's dream world rather than one of sugar plums. Well, let me suggest two festive and green alternatives to the alternatives:

1) Yes, wrap your packages in newspaper, specifically the pure black and white text or figures pages. Then, cut a several inches wide piece of more festive paper and wrap it around your newspapered present like an obi belt. Tie a ribbon or string, ideally recycled, on over this in a third layer. Here are better instructions, and a picture if you're interested: [URL]http://www.marthastewart.com/article/japanese-newspaper-gift-wrap[/URL] (why, yes, that IS Martha Stewart again, fancy that!).

2) Take a cue from The Sound of Music and have your gifts arrive from the North Pole! Wrap them in recycled brown paper from grocery bags, tie them with string, and for a special touch get a set of imitation old fashioned postal stamps from the craft store to decorate them with.

Materialism Check: Are You Speaking The Same Language?
Every year, I ask him what he'd like as a gift. Every year, he dodges the question. For the life of me, I was sure that he just didn't want to tell me what he wanted, that he was embarrassed or didn't want to feel greedy. Meanwhile, he invades my personal space every chance he gets, perplexing the life out of me! He'll say sweet nothings, and I'll do his chores when he least expects it. And every day, we'd wonder if the other person got what we were saying. Well, no, we didn't get what one another was saying! Then one day I'm ditty bopping through a forum and someone mentions "the five love languages" in an offhand sort of way, just tossing out "gifts are definitely my love language." Who what now? Gifts are a language? Love language? Doesn't everyone express love through giving each other little tokens of affection?

As it turns out, no, they don't. We could get into the five "w"s here, or you could check out the original book on the subject "The Five Love Languages" from the library, but I'll give you the basics right now: we all express our feelings (not just love, but I take it that that's what the book dwells on) with five behaviors. To whit, verbal affirmations/praise, physical affection, gifts, "acts of service" (ie chores) and quality time. Even though all of us use all of these languages to express our feelings, we all each have a primary love language. (Not sure what yours or your loved ones' primary love language(s) is/are? Here's a handy test: [URL]http://www.afo.net/hftw-lovetest.asp[/URL] .)

What does this have to do with red letter days and materialism? First off: if your primary love language is gifts, that doesn't make you materialistic or a consumerist. Puritanism is dead already, not every possible inclination is sinful! When your primary love language is gifting, that means that you express your love by giving gifts, and that you best understand someone else's feelings towards you when they give you gifts. Psychologists tell us that the old saw is correct, giving really is better than receiving, and that's especially true if your love language is gifting. So, for the gifter more than any other amorphone, it is the thought that counts. Those that don't see gifts as an exchange of sentiments made tangible don't see anything wrong with exchanging straight cash.

Where it all goes awry is when a gifter loves a talker, a timer, a toucher, or a server. When the gifter in love with a toucher never receives any gifts, but is always being pursued physically, they may feel used and unloved. When the toucher correctly perceives that the gifter values gifts above touch, well, let's just leave the namecalling to imagination. The point is that neither feel loved, and you can see how the same scenario plays out with the other types. So what can be done? A little give and take, so to speak. The gifter may need to get over their feelings about objects that have intrinsic worth when they are seeking to give something to their beloved, and the beloved needs to see the forest for the trees. The gifter who has worked out that their lover is a timer would best express their feelings by giving a gift certificate to a restaurant for a meal together, a bottle of wine to be shared, or a game to be played. This goes against the grain of many gifters because it is blatantly a "gift back" to themselves as well, however ALL gifts are gifts back to the giver, and in this case what matters is correctly communicating to both parties how you feel. The gifter whose lover is a server may give a stocking full of homemade love coupons for doing chores or little acts of kindness. The gifter whose lover is a talker might give a mix tape of songs sprinkled with recordings of compliments or sweet nothings of their own, or they might get a book of questions for a night in getting to know one another better, or just write a letter. As for the gifter whose lover is a toucher, I think we can all figure that one out, but to spell out some possible gifty gifts: a gift certificate for a dinner ordered in, a love coupon for a back rub, a weekend at a bed and breakfast, comfy clothes or lingerie, or possibly an elegantly written scroll of New Year's resolutions including things like "a ten second kiss every morning before he leaves home."

What about all the non-gifters seeking gifts for the gifter? Suck it up already and read the million and a half articles on how to select a gift for a person, or read your lover's wishlist (make them write one)! Croaking about materialism, gold diggers, consumerism or worse 1) is rotting your bond to your beloved, who is naturally feeling unloved by that garbage and wasn't seeing dollar signs to begin with, and 2) saying nothing positive about your feelings. So you say you would walk through fire for your lover, eh? Then why balk if the act that would best express your feelings to them in their own eyes is getting them a tangible symbol of the feelings you're expressing?

Either way: no one has an excuse for feeling guilty, it's just different strokes for different folks.

Tradition of the Week
Forget the crowded restaurants: stay home, dress to the nines, and order a phenomenal fancy pizza or pasta dinner from the local pizzeria for a fraction of what you'd otherwise pay. Queue up a romantic movie of your own, and buy a bottle of wine that you actually like ahead of time.

Homework
* Hit the stores for discounted Valentines Day and Chinese New Year items to supply your mathom stash and have on hand for gifts.
* Treat yourself to one of those fantastic heart shaped boxes once they go on sale. We never seem to pamper ourselves, and if no one else ever buys them for us, we can treat ourselves once in a blue moon.
* Get started planning Easter.
* Have a terrific Valentine's Day!

There, I'm always amazed when I manage to put together one of these!
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