Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Gift of Homemade and Etsy

I am fortunate to come from a family that appreciates and often prefers homemade. For my family and me, homemade means sharing a piece of yourself with someone you love. By sharing your special gifts with someone, you are putting good energy into the world.

I am not sure if the appreciation for homemade is what has created a family with mulitple talents or I just come from an amazing family, but each person in my family has their own unique specialities.

My first experiences with homemade were from my mom who stayed up late at night to finish sewing Easter dresses for my three sisters and me. I also remember my mom making tons of mini bread loaves (she reused cleaned out canned goods for the baking pans) as gifts for friends at Christmas. As little girls, we had the job of making the hot chocolate recipe which my mom would bottle up and give with the bread. My grandma had a special tradition of crocketing a gift for each of us six kids every year. It was always fun to see the first girl open her gift because you knew you had the same gift, just in a different color. My dad and brother Danny are woodworkers and one year my dad made me a side table for my bedroom. They have both made cabinets and other beautiful pieces. My son Alexander is now following in their footsteps with woodworking. My other brother Mike refinished old furniture for a while and redid an old desk of my godmothers that my son still uses today. His wife creates the coolest birthday gifts for the kids and one year made a quilt for me! My grandpa was a gardener and he provided our summer vegetables until his death. He had the unique gift of making each of us feel like we were his apprentices in the garden. My older sister Sherry sews, crochets, scrapbooks and much more. Robyn is amazing at counted cross stitch which she does on Christmas stockings and frames her other masterpieces as wedding, Christmas and birthday presents. Stacey is the queen of scrapbooking and finds the most creative ways of putting photos together. One of my favorites is on a flower pot.

One year when Steve and I were first married, we decided to make our Christmas gifts for each other. I cross stitched a musical page of the song These are a Few of My Favorite Things and he wrapped a little tiny box and put a bow on it with a note that says something like "Never open this box, but just know that whenever you hold it, you will feel my love." It is still one of my favorite gifts from him.

When my children were younger, it was difficult to have a strong connection to my family in Wichita because of the distance and lack of time together. However, every year we made Christmas gifts for them. It was my way of letting my kids connect to our extended family and it worked. As we made a project for someone, they would ask questions about that person so they knew exactly how to decorate it. My kids have always made gifts for my husband and me. In fact, one year my daughter was terribly insulted when her Brownie troop had her make Mother's Day gifts. For her, this has always been such a personal thing and she couldn't believe they were telling her what to make for me. She gave it to me and said, "This is from them." Then she handed me another gift and said, "This is from me!"

I think the stronger your ties to homemade, the more difficult it is to buy commerical items as gifts. When you bake a birthday cake for your child, you are not only providing the food for a party, but you are geniunely connecting yourself to the person you are giving to. When you crotchet a dishtowel for yourself or someone else, that connection is there each and every time it is used. When you wear a dress made by your mother, you know her love is with you everywhere you go. When you look at the collection of gifts your children have made for you through the years, you see the love they had for you at each stage in their life. I feel very fortunate to look around my house and see all the wonderful things that the special people in my life have created for me.

In the spirit of sharing our gifts with others, my older sister Sherry has taken the homemade pledge and also has two shops on Etsy. What I like about her shop is there is always something new. So, check her site often for new and exciting things. If you can't make homemade yourself, her site gives you the option of still giving homemade to those special people in your life. She does outstanding work and when possible, tries to reuse fabric and other materials from anyplace she can. A few months ago we needed a purse for a little girls birthday party. We shared what we were looking for and she found the perfect fabric. It was in a shirt her daughter had outgrown! Please check out her blog where she explains her new Etsy shop where she will be making shopping totes. I bought the first one! Don't worry, there will be more soon. On her other Etsy shop, she makes baby toys, blankets, pillows, hats, scrapbooking materials, and much more.

http://ificouldsetmysoulfree.blogspot.com/2008/07/arte-y-pico-award-and-my-new-etsy-shop.html

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5974897