Tag Archive | creativity

You are Salt

Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 5:13-20

Sermon excerpt:

Salt doesn’t wake up one morning and try to figure out what to study in college. It doesn’t make a career choice or check the classifieds. Salt is just salt … it has some sodium and some chlorine … it’s salt.  All it does is what salt does. It just does what comes naturally to salt. It doesn’t do something else.

If you were to sprinkle salt on your french fries and instead of making them salty, it made them sweet, we wouldn’t say “This salt has lost it’s saltiness.” We would say: “That’s not salt! That’s sugar!”

If salt doesn’t do what salt naturally does – if it does something else – then it’s not salt. If it doesn’t have the qualities of salt, then we don’t call it salt.


8 Ways to Save

8: Send Christmas cards over the internet. They sing, they dance, they have a million different themes! Some are free. Some companies charge per card sent. Other companies offer their services for a monthly or yearly fee. Investigate to see what might be the best choice for you.

7: Make homemade cards. Yes, this is a lot more work than the store-bought kind. But it can also save you money, and it is a greener choice. Use card-stock with a family photo on the front; or make collages from old Christmas cards or calendars; or use the artwork of your little ones to adorn your cards. In whatever way you design your cards, they are a more thoughtful way to greet friends and loved ones this holiday season.

6: Give thoughtful gifts of time, services, or assistance this holiday season. Give a coupon for a car-wash, baby-sitting services, or something else that would brighten their day.

5: If you are part of a large (or even medium-size) extended family that gives Christmas gifts every year … it might be time to consider having a name exchange instead of expecting everyone to buy gifts for everyone else. Have everyone draw a name from the hat and get a Christmas gift for that person. My extended family did this with great enjoyment for a number of years. Although, in addition to buying gifts for the name we drew, each family also bought gifts for all the little ones, so they would have more treasures to open.

4: When I’m invited to a gift exchange, the host or hostess almost always says something like, “Bring a gift of about $10 for the gift exchange.” Why can’t we suggest (or request) a similar limit at our large family gatherings. My extended family on one side had a $15 maximum spending limit for our gift exchange for as long as I can remember. Since we also exchanged names, it meant that we had a wonderful and enjoyable afternoon of opening presents by the Christmas tree at my grandmother’s house … and no one had to spend more than $15 to participate.

3: Don’t buy more decorations. Or, at least, don’t buy new ones. Shop for gently used or vintage Christmas decorations at estate sales, rummage sales or flea markets. Check with older relatives and see if they have decorations that they have replaced and are no longer using. (They’ll be as delighted to clean out the attic or basement as you are to take and use their older treasures.) You can even make handmade Christmas decorations with anything from edible goodies to evergreen branches you cut out of your own yard. Let your imagination get to work and see what you come up with … at little or no cost!

2: Make a list and check it twice. When you go out to make the inevitable holiday purchases, plan ahead. Make a list of people you need to buy for, write down a few notes and ideas for things you might want to get them, and list a FIRM budget for each gift. Most importantly, when you actually start shopping, don’t be derailed by all of the wonderful sales. It’s great to find a gift for someone on your list at a bargain price; but, too often, we find wonderful sale prices on things we want for ourselves. Stick to the gift list!

1: Give edible gifts. You can make baked goods in fairly large quantities, then mix and match a few different ones to create a tin of Christmas goodness. Or make a big batch of jam or jelly; one batch will be enough for quite a few people on your list.

Tomorrow: 7 Wraps for Gifties

See you then.


9 Bargain Gifts

9: Stainless steel water bottle or reusable / travel coffee mug. Not only are these reasonably-priced gifts, they’re also a green gifts!

8: Make or buy a fleece lap blanket. Choose fleece that has colors or patterns that are reflective of the recipient.

7: Make a Gratitude Jar. The jar itself can either be something artistic – as one that is pottery or ceramic – or can be something as simple as a Mason jar like those used in canning. Decorate with ribbon, fabric, beads, or anything that will make the jar reflective of the personality of the recipient. Inside the jar, place small slips of paper: on each one hand-write an example of those things for which you are grateful about the recipient or those things of which you are appreciative about the person to whom you are giving the gift. Don’t forget: the more specific your gratitude statements are, the more thoughtful the gift.

6: Shop at home stores for bargains on cloth placemats or cloth napkins with napkin rings. Usually, the out-of-season patterns can be found quite inexpensively. If you sew, you can make the placemats or napkins. Depending on your crafting skill, you could even make the napkin rings.

5: Give a nice plant to the green thumb on your list. For those who don’t have much skill in growing things, consider giving a no-fuss plant like a cactus or an aloe plant. For the sustainable-living folks on your list, consider some bamboo.

4: Got a guy on your list? Get him a multi-tool. The price will vary based on the number of tools, but they are usually in the $10-$15 range.

3: For the gardener on your list, investigate heirloom and rare seeds at SeedSavers.org

2: Food gifts are always a winner. Consider cookies, candy, cheese balls, or dips. Deliver them a day or two before Christmas, so your recipient can share them when family and friends gather.

1: If the recipient collects something specific, or has a specific interest, consider getting a Christmas ornament that reflects their interest.

Tomorrow: 8 Ways to Save

See you then.


11 Eco-friendly Gifts

Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

11. If it truly is the thought that counts, then give thoughtful and meaningful gifts that have lower price tags for both your wallet and the environment. Offer coupons for childcare or petcare or lawncare or household work or a car wash. Give a gift that shows the person that you’re thinking about their needs.

10. Give gifts that make use of services instead of products: a massage, a manicure or pedicure, piano lessons, French lessons, cooking lessons. Better yet, give in the name of your recipient to organizations like Heifer Project International; they’ll receive the gift of knowing that somewhere in the world, a family’s life is richer and healthier and more secure because of them.

9. Give the gift of an experience: a theatre production, a concert, a museum visit, an ice-skating adventure. Either give tickets so they can go and take someone; or go with them and let your gift be the gift of time spent together with you.

8. Give antiques or heirlooms or treasured personal items: your grandfather’s watch, your great-grandmother’s brooch, a crystal vase that your parents brought home from their trip to Ireland. Not only is this a wonderful way of recycling, but it is also a way to make your gift a meaningful one.

7. Grow your gifts. Give several lovely little pots of different herbs, or one beautiful, larger pot with several kinds of herbs in it. You could combine plants of oregano, basil and thyme for an “Italian Seasoning” herb blend. Consider the recipient and then choose plants accordingly.

6. Christmas is one of the best times to give edible gifts. Edible gifts are such a treat that we who receive them come to look forward to them from year to year, allowing them to become part of our own holiday traditions. I still firmly believe that every Christmas holiday season should include my Aunt Trudy’s peanut butter fudge and Sally’s extraordinary divinity. They are treasured parts of my Christmas tradition. But don’t worry if you can’t master these difficult delicacies. Every December issue of home-keeping magazines, as well as the Internet, is full of recipes for cookies, cakes, candies and other delights that are easy to make. A little research and you’re all set. But don’t limit yourself to sweets: make homemade salsa or humas or other savory gifts.

5. Consider buying gifts that are made from recycled materials: purses made from candy wrappers, earrings made from reclaimed glass. There are as many gifts to choose from as there are things to be recycled. Check around and find artisans who work with recycled items; not only are you reducing your total Christmas footprint, but you’re helping do reduce waste in landfills.

4. Buy local. Shop local craft fairs or find local crafters and artisans: woodcrafters, potters, metalworkers, etc. If an item has been made locally, then it doesn’t have to be shipped, which means it doesn’t have as large an ecological price tag. Plus it supports local industry.

3. Every time I unpack my winter clothes, I see the scarf Kathy made for me and I think of her with affection. Do you knit? Crochet? Work with beads? Make jewelry? Make candles? Sew? Write poetry? Then give a one-of-a-kind gift that tells the recipient that this was made especially for them.

2. Give gifts of the bounty of the harvest: local delicacies like honey or maple syrup, or something from your summer garden that you’ve preserved (dried, canned, frozen): tomatoes, peppers, garlic, fruit, etc.

1. Regift. There. I said it. I know there are some who might look down on this idea, but this is a wonderful way to recycle. Why clutter up your living space with things that (while well-intended) are not something that you are inclined to use. Why not regift them, and provide them a good home to someone who will enjoy them? After all, isn’t that what the original giver intended? Just make sure you are a thoughtful regifter, doing your best to insure that the original giver does not wind up with wounded feelings in the process.

Whatever you choose to give, consider the method of production, the method of purchase and the method of delivery. Buying something for a friend far away? Maybe it’s better to buy online and spend a few extra dollars for gift wrap, instead of having the item shipped to you only so you can turn around and ship it again. Think about your gift-giving choices – and their implications – this season.

Hope you discovered some good ideas. Tomorrow, we’ll have 10 Green Ideas. See you then.


12 Days of Something

I think it must be a requirement that those of us who love cooking and baking and crafting and home-keeping must also love Christmas. If you are not an avid blog-follower, you may not have noticed that the Christmas season brings out the creativity in so many of us!

Well, I may be accused of following in the footsteps of those who have gone before me … but nonetheless, I have given into the temptation of posting my very own “12 Days …” list.

As I pondered what sort of subject this list might focus on (and thus, what sort of title to give it), I first thought that I would investigate and report on the 12 Days of Sustainability, and so spark a conversation on green Christmas ideas.

But perhaps, considering the current economic climate, it might be better to blog about the 12 Days of Penny-Pinching. The conversation that would follow might inspire each of us to make Christmas more meaningful and less materialistic.

Focusing on either of these would require ruling out the 12 Days of Crafts, the 12 Days of Baking, the 12 Days of Handmade Gifts, and so many others that I was looking forward to exploring.

Just when frustration had me on verge of giving the idea up entirely … divine inspiration struck. And when divine inspiration comes knocking, the only appropriate answer is “yes.”  (For further examples, see Luke 1:26  and Matthew 1:18)

And so, without further ado, let me present: THE 12 DAYS OF SOMETHING.

I admit, it’s a little vague. But my creativity does not recognize boundaries, so I have chosen not to impose any!

We begin tomorrow with “12 Tree Facts to Consider” … so get ready to talk trees. See you then.


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