Saturday, December 31, 2011

Use What You Have, Parts 8 - 12

There's been some serious elving going on around here, and not only by me! Better yet, it all involves using what we already have on hand. And most of it is rapidly approaching beautiful.

Last week, a classroom full of kindergarteners made holiday candles from some surplus glass baby food jars.

No matter if it's Christmas, Hanukkah, or Solstice that you celebrate, your holiday table can always use a hand-painted candle!

Speaking of glass, my mother-in-law did some creating of her own and used some of our extra syrup bottles to make this snazzy fruit bowl.

Who can resist a clementine when it's so cheerfully presented in this bowl?

Given my weakness for fabric, it was only a matter of time before these charming scraps became something useful. This time it's in the form of burp clothes.

And a throw quilt!

But the most festive display of all this craftiness can be pinned to a visiting friend who brought with him (no lie) wire cutters, ribbon, and a backpack full of creativity all the way from Chicago (thank you, AS!). Here's what we whipped up one afternoon.

Recognize the greens? Some of them are from our yard, bushes around town, and this lovely tree.

I'm still so surprised at how charming leftovers can be!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

That was fun.

A friend sent me the link for these zesty paper snowflakes (thanks, NH!), and we just had to give it a try:

Soon we had a whole pile of snowflakes waiting to adorn our home.

Who knew it could take only 10 minutes to transform a plain wall into a festive display with a little help from the recycle bin, scissors, and an iron?

Here's the basic tutorial. Go!

Monday, December 19, 2011

our upcycled tree

Over the years, I've had my issues with Christmas. Not the birth of Jesus part, I'm fine with that. It's the consumerism, the crowds, the forced busyness that stuns me into inactivity every year. Last year I did find some solace in focusing on the aspects that I enjoy: music, stories, crafts. I grudgingly decorated and undecorated the tree that Music Man and the kids cheerfully brought home.

This year, the tree just got better. It got upcycled!

Huh? I know, it's baffling.

The story goes like this: a few hours after leaving a playdate, my friend calls me and says "I've got an idea!" Turns out her family celebrates Christmas early (tree, presents, and all), then leaves town for two weeks (bathing suits, dog, and all), not returning till the beginning of January, when her (by then) brittle, shedding tree is not a festive sight. Our family doesn't really get around to tackling a tree till mid-December when the string of concerts is finished.

Her idea was for our family to key into her house,

undecorate her tree,

take it to our home,

and POOF! the tree celebrates its second Christmas of the year!

Slightly grinch-like, but I like it. Hey, the grinch is green, after all.

(Thank you, S and family! I hope you are warm, relaxed, and tan, this Christmas!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

and then I thought I'd never run out

A while back I inherited a large collection of sewing thread from Music Man's grandmother, and I acknowledged that I never thought I'd own that much thread. But I loved it! All those spools of possibility, lined up neatly by color.

And now with my latest blitz of markets, I've been having a 5am date with my sewing machine, a 1pm date, and an 8pm date, squeezing in a hour or two of creating when the kids were sleeping or at school. The biggest surprise in all of this elving, was how much I loved it! The hum of the sewing machine when all else is silent......ah....

The second biggest surprise was how much thread I was using. It seems I was always using up a spool and needing to replace it. I quickly tossed the empty spool aside and grabbed a replacement. After awhile, I noticed a growing pile of empty spools. The kids counted 15 used spools of thread!

Then I did some math: 15 spools of thread, at about 300 yards each, is 4500 yards, which is 13,500 feet, which is about 2 and 1/2 miles!

I've used 2.5 miles worth of thread.

I'm not quite sure what to think of that. But now I'm feeling the need to put those adorable empty spools to good use. Any suggestions?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Redeeming the space

I love it when people turn something old, broken, and vacant into something warm, full, and darn near magical.

That's what MIX is doing. They are redeeming the space.

The edgy, empty space in our city's downtown that used to hold the Mongolian Grill (which, by the way, provided our family with a few tasty and healthy meals over the years) is being invaded with some jazzy new ideas from the ladies that run MIX and a handful of other local thinkers with a heart for cottage industries, local food, and creative fun.

It's called the Mix Marketplace.

Picture an indoor market, with snazzy lighting,

jazz piano music,



honey, jewelry, green gifts,

sweets, pork,

and a whole lot more. Very eclectic, as I happened to notice what the vendors were wearing: galoshes, bow ties, yellow gingham aprons, high-heeled boots, knitted berets, suit vests, earrings made from dried tomatillo casings, upscaled sweatshirts.

What a fun evening! Oh, and the ticklish tidbit that I overheard one vendor say to a customer: "They are such smart animals! Have you seen them with a bowling ball?"

After this blitz of holiday markets is over, I'm excited to see what settles into the space. I'm staying tuned!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Got gift bags?

(photo courtesy of Abi)

If you are trying for a simpler, trash-free holiday like I am this year, bop yourself on over to 29 diapers for a chance to win a set of 3 Fabric Gift Bags. My friend Laura (of 29 diapers) is hosting an online giveaway bonanza this season and is featuring The Eventual Farmer today!

I've been elving like a crazy woman in the past weeks, getting ready for some fun seasonal markets, but hope to catch my breath soon, and post updates of all of our non-market related adventures (bathroom remodels, thread usage, and our cheerful Grinch roleplay). More in the coming days, I promise!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Really? An online farmers' market?

Yes! It's called Lunasa, and their mission is to make local easy.

And it's super easy.

Normally you have to be a member to purchase goods from their website, but they also have a handful of Open House Markets for anyone to come, feel, taste, and buy.

The most recent one was last night, and I was there as a vendor, wearing my Eventual Farmer hat, er, ... apron.

The goods are available online for pre-purchase. Or you can just come to the market and make your choices then.

The market is held twice monthly in an aging warehouse, which, despite the semi-truck loading docks

and decrepit doors,

added to the overall charm of the event.

Lunasa exists because people believe in it. Oh, and did I mention the beautiful apples,

hardy root veggies,

enchanting cutting boards (from reclaimed urban lumber, I might add),

fragrant samples,

notecards hand painted with Michigan wildlife,

Lithuanian bread,

mittens in the shape of my home state,

and live music?

But I think my favorite moment of the event happened just a few minutes into it, when I heard the vendor behind me say to a customer, "I'm sorry but I only have seven varieties of hummus here tonight."

Keeping your dollars local just got easy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm dreaming of a green Christmas...

Green Christmas

(adapted by The Eventual Farmer with the help of facebook friends)

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas,

Just like the plants I plan to grow

Where the compost’s hissin’ and children listen

To hear Al Gore’s scary show

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

With every Christmas e-card I write

May your gifts be local, trash-free

And may all your Christmases be green.

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas,

With consumable or homemade gifts to give

May you choose a replantable tree

And may all your Christmases be green!