Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Urban Homestead Series

A Low Energy, Simple Afternoon and Low Impact, Simple Gifts

I got home from work one afternoon last week and while it was hot, humid and bright outside, inside was cool, dim and refreshing. I took advantage of the calm and soothing atmosphere and decided to have a low energy afternoon. Instead of turning on my laptop, a couple of lights and putting music on, I left everything shut off.

I did switch on the radio, but I used my wind up one. The only thing in my place that was plugged in was the fridge, cordless phone and alarm clock.
(The pictures are a little dark because I didn't use any flash, to give an idea of the natural light in my place at the time.)

Breathing a deep sigh of peace I set myself to some pleasant tasks.

First I took down the yarrow and mallow hanging up to dry, removed the flower tops and leaves from their stems and placed them in labeled jars for storage.

Then I wrapped up a birthday gift for a young boy. I found a wooden sailboat and toolbox craft kit at a kid's consignment store in my neighbourhood. I thought it was a good choice since the boy's father is a very talented woodworker and this would make for a nice project that they could do together. I used a colourful silk scarf and bright yellow ribbon to wrap the gift in.

Speaking of gifts, this weekend I gifted a friend this sweet trinket box that I bought secondhand. I wrapped it in a lacy scarf and tied it with a cream coloured ribbon I had saved. The card was also bought secondhand. (Thrift stores are great places for stationary and unused cards. It's nice to have a stash on hand when I don't have time to make my own.)

I know many people worry that giving second hand gifts is tacky and cheap. I think that if I'm able to thoughtfully choose something that is appropriate to the person, then why not? What I like about second hand gifts is that there is usually little to no packaging. This way I'm not giving someone a big pile of garbage to deal with along with their present. Also, second hand gifts are often unique and one of a kind. (Handmade gifts are awesome too, and I like to give those whenever I can!)


Thrift Store Junkie said...

I'm right there with you. I also posted about unique gifts from thrift stores on my blog . Especially if the friend likes vintage. You can't buy vintage new!

Tricia (Little eco footprints) said...

I think giving second hand gifts is a lovely idea. I currently only have the courage to give second hand gifts to close family.....I gave my Dad a lovely antique photo frame for his last birthday.

I still worry that friends would just think I was being cheap. Maybe one day.

I would love to recieve a second hand gift. I would appreciate that much more thought and effort had gone in to buying it in comparison to buying something new.

Your simple afternoon sounds lovely. I think i need one of those...

Amber said...

Hi Thrift Store Junkie. Thanks for stopping by. Vintage finds are so great! Isn't it interesting how items considered 'vintage' or 'antique' are desired and sought after, but 'second hand' is more often seen as cheap. Is it just the passage of time that increases the value of items? And how much time needs to have passed before something is considered valuable again? 10 years? 25? 100?

Hi Tricia, I still hesitate when giving second hand gifts sometimes. But then I remember that my friends and family know me and know what I'm about. (I.e. they put up with me and my weird ways! ;) ) But I also hope and expect that the people in our lives are willing to help us to live from our values with encouragement and acceptance.

I also think of the hidden 'gift' behind the gift. With a second hand item there is no extraction of new resources, no water use, little to no packaging and when you buy second hand you aren't supporting a market for new consumer goods. I think of this as a gift to the environment and our common future. Of course that might not always be apparent to the person receiving the gift, but I still think of it as a gift no less. And the more people like you, me and Thrift Store Junkie that take the step and give with this intention, the more we will make that hidden gift visible!

SoapBoxTech said...

The obvious thought you put into gifts pretty much negates any possibility of being `cheap or tacky`.

Yan Naing said...

Christmas is for children. But it is for grownups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.Keep it up Nice blog.