Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gift Giving

With Autumn's arrival (in most places) it means the count down to gift giving season is here.  The last few years we have really cut back on the gifts we give.  We, like most people don't really need a thing.  As I get older I would rather have your companionship, your friendship and lunch out so we can chat.  However, it is still nice to send something to family and friends far away just to let them know you are thinking of them.  With this in mind I try to send something that will be meaningful, something that helps others.  I believe this post is very similar to one I had last year about this time so I hope you don't mind the repetition. 

I want to introduce you to Casey's Cookies, located not very far from where I live.  Casey is a lovely young woman with developmental delays.  Her parents created this bakery to help employ young adults with special physical or development delays.  It gives these young people a place to work and feel valued, and from what I hear the cookies are delicious.  I sent these out last year and they were a big hit.  Order early so your family/friends have time to savor the yummy cookies before they eat too many sweets during the holidays.

The Women's Bean Project is another non-profit organization helping women who are unemployed or impoverished, make immediate income and prepare them for job readiness.  It is a great organization where you can order some yummy gift baskets or beautiful jewelery.  Please pop in and see what wonderful work they are doing.

Praols story bracelets and more is another fantastic site where you can order inspirational jewelery made with love from Mother's in low income situations.  This company helps these women to stay at home and work so they do not have to pay for very costly child care with there already restricted incomes.

All these companies help people right here in the United States.  But if you are looking for something international you can never go wrong with Heifer International.  One of my all time favorite ways to help on a larger, global scale.  Buying animals, trees or plants to help improve the lives of those impoverished and hungry is an amazing idea.  I usually buy the gift of The Knitter's Basket as this one really speaks to me.  You can make a big difference empowering others and creating a better world with just a small gift.

 Yesterday I went to visit a beautiful new store called Criativity.  It is located in Largo, Fl which is a bit of a hike but I was half way there already so I decided to drop in.  Did you know a baby alpaca is called a cria?  Oh my I was so thrilled with this store, there was yarn, alpaca related clothing, work spaces for workshops, looms and all sorts of fun things.  What I liked most, well besides looking at the yarn was all of the free-trade items they had.  I bought several beautiful felted birdhouses that were really reasonable.

These are made by Wild Woolies, by skilled artisans in Nepal.  Made with sustainable materials in a fair trade production center.  There are so many gorgeous bid houses, some bright and cheerful, some more muted like this one.  I bought several as gifts.

I also bought myself a gift.  This is an Alpaca Nesting Ball.  The owner of this store also has an alpaca farm.  She takes the clippings from the alpacas after they are sheared, and puts them in grapevine balls so birds and other wildlife can use it.  She told me that when she walks around her farm she can see bits of the fiber in nests.  Well I was all over that.  I love fiber and now hopefully the birds and squirrels around me will have some fiber in their nests.

Max was very intrigued with the alpaca smell.  This fiber has not been washed, it is straight off the floor after shearing.  He was very excited and look he is about the same color!

I hung this outside this morning, come on birds and squirrels here you go.  I am not sure Max wants the squirrels to be any more comfortable, they run across the top of our screened in area just to get Max barking.

This store is very new, they have a website but it isn't up and running quite yet.  So if you are interested in the Alpaca Nesting Ball here is their phone number, 727-584-4191.

Hope you have a great day and sorry if I was so long winded.


Bridget said...

Lots of excellent suggestions, I am a fan in particular of the Women's Bean Project and Heifer, but will take a look a the others.

I do love that nesting ball...

Pradeepa said...

The bird house is adorable. I wish I had open space like you so that I could also leave some nesting balls for the squirrels and birds.

kathyinozarks said...

I loved your post Meredith-thanks for all the links, I have always loved Heifer too.Kathy

Pammy Sue said...

That is some fun and interesting stuff! Very cool bird houses! Sounds like it was worth the longish trip and you got some cool and unique gifts for some lucky people at Christmas.

kathy b said...

FUn post Meredith! I always brushed Huck outside year round in the yard. THe birds always came within hours and flew away with golden fluff in their mouths !

Love your gift ideas too.
I am a cookie nut, so I may have to order some of those

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

Brilliant post Mere ... the Knitter's Gift Basket is an awesome thing, been trying to persuade my knitting chums we can raise the money for one :)

Joy said...

What a wonderful post Meredith - my heart is really warmed reading of the good going on out there towards encouraging and improving the lives of others; thank you!
Lovely Max must be wondering about that alpaca smell - who is this stranger in our midst, says he!
Warm hug,
Joy xo

Teresa said...

It sounds like you found some very interesting places! The nesting balls sound cool! All these places to help others. You cannever go wrong with that idea.

Susanne said...

Now those are the kind of trips that are worthwhile. All those shops and businesses are for worthy causes and I don't think the money spent on any of them would be wasted. The yarn ball reminds me of something I read once. I believe it was in a Birds & Bloom magazine, you take all your snippets of yarn tails or small bits of cotton fibers and put then in the hollow of a tree or hang a suet cage and in the spring the birds will use them for their nests. No matter how small, the birds will put them to good use. The acorn is adorable. Nice find. I started the Elise Shawl this evening. I found myself having to rip it out a couple of times before I got it going right. Actually I have been relying on the diagram more than the written instructions. I did find a mistake, row 5 says to ch 5 but the drawing shows only 4 and I went with the 5 as on the 3rd row. I am using Patons Kroy Socks Jacquard Lavendre, it is variegated. I will be sure to post about it, but I am bummed out because I wanted to have a display mannequin and the company that I wanted to order mine from is not ready yet with their website running. The gal said around the first of November I can place my order :(
(((HUGS))) Susanne :)

Teresa Kasner said...

I am so pleased you talked about this.. I agree we need to give things that help people and are biodegradable and help wildlife, too. Win win! Unfortunately, when you're buying for little kids, it's harder, but I'm going to try. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Babajeza said...

Last year I gave my sister and my mother-in-law a goat (in Bangladesh) for Christmas. And Moritz, my son, owns a squaremeter of rain forest in Brasil. :-) I like this idea a lot. Happy gifting. I'm off to Berlin .... :-)

Kris said...

We have really cut back on gift giving too. Love the way Max is looking at that yarn ball!!!!
Great post.

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

I love Largo, they have some really cool places up that way...well use to back in the day when I was there.

Max cracks me up smelling all that fiber. He's so adorable.

Mere, you are always out there in the world doing good and spreading are so awesome!

The fiber thing really does work. I usually save up my small bits of yarn and leave them around in the spring time, I have seen one of my yarns used in a birds nest before, it was so awesome to see that. It was not a natural fiber either, it was plan ole' Red Heart Super Saver...too cute.

Blessings always sweet friend

Grayseasailor said...

Thanks for taking the time to share the gifting suggestions, Meredith! The only one I am familiar with is the Heifer project. My oldest sister gave chickens in our name and I loved the idea that we could be a part of such a positive project! I am off to check out the other links. It will be fun to see if you can spot where the fiber from your fiber ball ends up. (Maybe you can train Max to point to the locations :)
Love with hugs from Gracie

Shari LeBlanc said...

Wow, what a great and interesting post today Meredith. Sounds like some places I would like to check out myself. Thank you for sharing!
The one that really interest me was about the Alpaca Nesting Balls,(not that the others were great but this one is so unique) How cool is that...never seen anything like that and I bet the squirrels and birds are loving you today!
Hugs, Shari


Hello Meredith, Fantastic posting.. The felted birdhouse is gorgeous. Love it.. The Alpacas Nesting Ball is a great idea.. I am sure the birds and squirrels will use it..Have agreat week. Hugs Judy

Lynne said...

Hi Meredith! Wonderful post full of great information. Going to check out all of it. I love that nesting ball too - so cool!

millefeuilles said...

Dear Meredith,

Longwinded you could never be, I believe! I've certainly learnt a thing or two from this post!

Happy autumn to you and your family.


ps You are quite right; we want for so little aside from love and friendship.

Jennifer said...

These are great suggestions, Meredith. Like you, we have cut way back on the gifts in the past few years. We would much rather do something nice for a person than buy more things they don't want, and we prefer it when people do that for us as well. You reminded me of a little restaurant down the street from us which is owned by a young man who happens to have Down Syndrome, but who owns and manages his own eatery. He is very inspiring. He has help from his father but is very capable and his place is successful and popular.

Rose Red said...

Such a great idea to buy things which help out others in this way. Much better than presents which no-one want.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Such a neat idea to hang the fur/wool in the tree for the birds. Don't mind helping out the birds - but we have way too many chipmuncks.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

We have been giving more and more consumables to those we share gift giving with. It seems that so few people need anything tangible...but I can see that your nesting balls would be very popular among the bird lovers we know.


moonstruckcreations said...

What fabulous gift ideas, Im sure people would appreciate them.

I have been making most of my gifts for a few years now, people seem to like them. Handmade chocolates go down a treat with the menfolk!


Tammy said...

I so agree with you on this. Don't need a thing and it is so much better to give back. Great ideas! We went to an alpaca farm this summer so YES, I do know that babies are called cria. In fact, the tour guide gave us a long, funny lesson and at the end asked us 5 questions -- which we all could answer at the time. I'll have to ask Zack if he remembers what we learned. Interesting, fun stuff. Somewhere I have a little tuft of alpaca fur that they let us take. Love the idea of that nesting ball. Jingles would be all over it in no time. :) Hugs and blessings, Tammy

Taciana Simmons said...

Wonderful post my dear friend and I just love the cute nests. I love buyi g fair trade. In fact we ( my husband and I) roast and sale fair trade coffee here in Oregon. Love the feeling to be contributing for a good cause. It's good for the 💜. Love how Max is so curious :) he's a cutie :)