Our Year Of Living (Beautifully) Without WalMart

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our Advent calendar came in the mail today! yay!

Marci made this for our family. It is our advent calendar forever and always and we will cherish it greatly.

This year is the first time I have been able to prepare in advance to have a full celebration of Advent. Many activities are planned for each week. A special gathering each Sunday night (where we will learn about the festivals and share thoughts from the week prior, as well as work on our prayer flags we will be making, and time for reflection and sharing about each element as we learn about them and honor them....among many other ideas....i will of course share with everyone.... i am soooooooo excited to be doing this)

The Verse the idea comes from is:

The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Roots, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit by whom we live and grow.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
Animals of farm, field, forest, air, and seas.
All await the birth in greatest and in least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.
The light of love, the light of thought, to give and to understand.

Each night of advent Sebastian will draw a verse pertaining to that week's festival from the stocking and will read it and we will share our thoughts on the topic....

We will begin our advent next Sunday evening beginning with the Festival of Stones....

The first Week of our Advent is the Festival of Stones.... During this week we honor the stones of the Earth and how they help build our lives. How buried deep in the cold ground they are the bones of the Mother Earth.....

The color of our prayer flag for that week will be Red and the symbol is a moonstone mandala....

The Second week of Advent is the Festival of Plants.

During this week we honor the place of plants in our lives and the life of the earth. We will do activities and have verses that reflect on our dependence on plants and green things....

(during this week we will plant our bulbs for next spring, among other things)

The prayer flag color for this week is Green (of course) and the Symbol is the Tree of Life...

The Third week of Advent is the Festival of Beasts (animals). During this week we honor the spirits of the animals of the world and their wisdom and ways of being.

If all goes to plan, this will be the week we will receive our new moonstone animal family member. We are looking to get a cat or kitten so that we can extend our lives to a pet.

We will also go meat-free during this week and much more again after.

Other activites will include feeding our yard squirrels some acorns we gathered on a picnic in yellow springs, as well as making pine cone bird feeders to hang from our tree....and reading animal stories....

The color of the prayer flag for the week is Yellow and the symbol is Ta, the Wind Horse....

The fourth week of Advent is the Festival of Humankind . In this week we will honor our fellow human beings and learn to more peacefully coexist with each other and all people.....

Activities will include Charity, Helpfulness, Giving, and Kindess ........

The prayer flag color for the week is Blue and the symbol is Om.

The Fifth and final bit of our Advent will be (something i kinda made up) the Festival of Soul....There are a few days between the last Sunday of Advent and Solstice itself, which is on Tuesday....And still a few more days between Solstice (the 22nd) and Yule (the 25th)....So on this week, we will learn about the Yule festival and what it means (Yule literally means "Wheel" as in the turn of the Wheel of the Year.)....

Activities will include the Decorating and Lighting of our tree on Solstice, and all the yummy lovely goodnesses of the Yule celebration, with presents, music, movies, good food and treats, and of course Santa's visit!

Following Yule, we will hang our Prayer Flags we have made in order to set our intentions for Good Fortune in the coming year....

I am excited about the Season this year. I feel I am doing a great thing in honoring this time of year and its significance as well as creating memories, gifts, magic, and knowledge for the children to remember, cherish, and enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Art Cabinet

I LOVE the art cabinet. It is one of my proudest Mothering thingies. I first read about this in the book (that i LOVE) Mrs. Sharp's Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach. (Someday I will blog about the book. Till then, you'll have to find it on your own. Its card catalog number is: 646.78) SHe called it a "Rainy Day Cabinet" filled with things to amuse the children on a rainy day.

The idea is to make a cabinet where your kids can always find what they need to create art-type projects and crafts. One centralized location for all their fanciful needs. And as they grow it is more and more invaluable. I have had mine since Sebastian was very small, I would say three, if I remember correctly.

It is pretty uniform at this point. Sometimes I add new things that I didn't have before. But normally I just stock up on things during Back To School and at Tax Time when we have a bit of extra money. But the possibilities are endless, and the value is immeasurable.

The cabinet itself was Sebastian's Great-Great Grandparents'. When they passed, it is the thing I picked for our family (without knowing about the art cabinet quite yet)....I started it then, when Bastian was three....Not even knowing I was doing it. It sat by My desk in the old kitchen and i put my envelopes in it and stuff and Bastian's coloring books, and odd stuff. I have always kinda had a school/office supply jones....

I decoupaged it and really started the Art Cabinet in earnest in the fall of 2006 when we moved to the Basement Apartment in Greeley. When we went for Bastian's School supplies i resolved that that weekend was THE weekend and the art cabinet would be born.

I would encourage every mother and other to make one. Even for yourself, as a creativity haven. It is amazing to have everything in one place. And, I believe, it is an INCREDIBLE parenting tool, for the littles. I know that Bastian feels pleased to've had one his whole life. It really is a special thing.

Here is what is in ours....(and on ours....and yes, i just cleaned it out and organized everything...it is NOT always like THIS....)

On the top are containers for:

  • Pens

  • Pencils

  • Colored Pencils

  • Sharpie Markers

  • coins/money

  • one small container for "Stuff"

The camera also resides on top (we had a time this afternoon when we thought the camera was gone! yikes!) normally. As do wallets, and all sorts of junkola...but not this day :) on closer inspection i also see the HOTSAUCE for cursewords....(which are almost nonexistent now, thanks to the HOSSOSS)

On the Top Shelf inside are:
  • Index Cards/Post-It notes (for scribbling, mostly ha...and at back to school time you can get the packs of index cards for a quarter or less...)
  • crayola markers
  • beads
  • glue gun/glue sticks
  • stampers and stamp pads
  • stapler and staples
  • watercolors
  • oil pastels
  • modeling clay
  • The TAPE (having the tape in one place is incredible in itself)

Normally I also have Elmer's school glue and Rubber Cement, but at the moment it appears that we are out....( i think i might i remember a cataclysm with the glue-all....)

On the second shelf are Mostly my stationary and things. What a great thing, eh? To have all this in one place. Mostly I have bought vintage cards and stationary at thrifts and yardsales, etc. VERY cheaply. For pennies, really, at the most. By the bag for a buck or less, preferably.

On This shelf are:

  • Envelopes (Normally Long AND short, but only short today....i think maybe it might have something to do with glue-all)
  • Extra Index cards (looks like I need to stock up....I had, but gave some to charity with a stack of school supplies)
  • Packs of Recycled Looseleaf paper (watched it go from $3.29 to .63 cents...yay)
  • cards, cards, stationary, cards, stationary....Sorted by different occasions (in another fit of organization, of course)
  • my BIRTHDAY BOOK....one of my favorite things....It is sorted by month and then has a page of numbered "days" of the month where you write the birthdays in it. It helps, because I really do aspire to send cards. It's something that makes me happy.
  • the multitudinous address labels aforementioned....

Third shelf down is The Children's Shelf.... Can you imagine having something like this when you were little??? Did you? Lucky duck!...

  • The tin is my FAVORITE mucha...The Zodiac...this is maybe my favorite tin of them all. Inside it is full of Crayola (only! and the extras from when we go to Frisches) Crayons...Bliss!
  • Coloring books
  • The white box holds a project I have been working on since I was pregnant with Sebastian, that I will complete, I HOPE before Fred's Birthday next year...It is an Alphabet/Color Book.....I am sure I will blog more about it soon...
  • Construction paper (lots! always!)
  • The brown box is full of stickers (see earlier blog "frugal hack: FREE STICKERS") and in the ziplock baggie are even more stickers that wouldn't fit in the box for size.

Fourth Shelf holds the box i created to hold my beatiful magazine clippings in. The plan is to get another box for the littles with pictures they love in it someday..... Under it is the "fancy paper". I like to stock up on "scrapbooking paper" at the craft stores when they are on sale. I won't pay over 10 cents/ sheet, though. I am cool like that. The other thing on the shelf is a HUGE box of old printer paper that our old neighbors were throwing away a couple years (!) ago when we lived in the basement apartment. A couple years and we haven't even made a Dent in it.

The bottom shelf (which is broken and sure, yeah sure, i am gonna fix it...) is loaded with Highlights magazines from when Bastian had a subscription from grandma mae for a couple/few years and some that Jonathan's grandma had held onto since he was little and others we have found at yard sales, etc. Also a Big stack of Humpty Dumpty and Jack and Jill magazines from the 1960's....awesome!

I imagine we can only branch out in our new home. (the manifestation is a craft ROOM with LOTS of closet/cabinet space) To fabric crafts/knitting/sewing/painting for ALL :)

Thank you for sharing...Go forth and make your own Art Cabinet, mothers and others!

***BONUS picture....the side of my fridge that sits next to the art cabinet***

frugal hack of the day---***FREE STICKERS!!!***

I have collected Frugal/Helpful Hints every since I have been a Mother/housewife. Sometimes I magically get the wherewithall to use them. Today was one of those days, so I am passing on my experience/idea to you just in time for the holidays....We are all too poor to be ashamed of homemade, ingenious, sweet gifts, aren't we???

Start of 2009, we Moonstones dedicated ourselves to contributing more of our (not much) money to charity. So we scoped out our favorite charites and started saving mailers of who we wanted to give to. I have even more ideas of how to do this, but after our experience in this, we have taken a break from mailing money to charity, and just contribute when we are asked in person, and things like that.

We gave (pretty tiny amounts, really, but what we could) to perhaps five charities in the first couple months. (I won't name them i guess....) Environmental charities, a couple animal charities and a couple diseases....

THEN THE FLOOD OF MAIL..... I don't have to tell you if you've been through this. But I was SHOCKED at the amount of mail that has poured into this house DAILY from this. And especially infuriating are the ENVIRONMENTAL charities....I wish I had the gumption to make a stack to photograph....One day I did take a picture when the stack for that DAY was especially high....

I was just flabbergasted and astounded. It was really bad that the charities we had JUST sent (a TINY amount of) money too, IMMEDIATELY sent mailers asking for MORE money and for RENEWALS....

Then millions of other charities started in. A deluge. Deluge is not too dramatic a word for this.

And they sent STUFF....Paper stuff mostly. Notepads, Greeting Cards, Calendars, all sorts of ephemera. We COULDN'T give more. And we certainly couldn't give to all of the charities that sent us STUFF. The amount of address labels alone could wall paper our kitchen!

Most of all of it ended up in the recycling bin. I just WONDER about the multitudes who do not recycle. This charity mailer thing has to get pared down!

But the reason we are here, is my frugal hack. STICKERS!!!!

Some of the address label sheets had stickers embedded in them. And some just had the little pictures before the name/information. These made perfect FREE stickers for fred and bella (and bastian if he wants!) to play with!!! yay!

We are renting this house, we are planning to move in a year and half. I will NEVER mail 85,342,609 letters to use the address labels. So i kept a FEW (maybe a hundred ha) of my favorites (the exception being the Peta Labels that say "Steffani Moonstone" :)

Cut out all the rest of the little pictures and stickers, recycled the slough, and Viola! Free Stickers for littles!

I don't know about you, but I would not be in the least offended if someone gave my children these stickers for a gift. They are an ingenious present. Nor would I in the slightest ashamed to put them in a cute little box and give them to any other child.

We are all too broke for shame and offense, are we not???? These stickers are a WIN WIN WIN :)

Remember when we were young children? The THRILL of STICKERS!!!! Unmatched. As bribing tools, collectables, etc. etc. etc. Remember sticker books?!!! You could easily make a quick "Sticker Book" out of construction or other paper.... :)

There are stickers in this box of animals, flowers, all different holidays and times of year, fruits and vegetables....all sorts of things...Hundreds of stickers!

Enjoy! :)

(People who say "I don't have time to cut out stickers".......Think of the time, even slight that you are working to PAY for anytime you would ever buy stickers....)

The (million---no exaggeration) Address Labels that i still have left.........plenty!

shirt i made.....my bf severus....

(such a fangirl!)

jonathan ran off the pic on transfer paper and i put it on my just-off-color pink Mossimo longsleeve cotton shirt.....