Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Presents That Are Useful

Planning for Christmas this year is going to tricky for many people due to our economy. I have always had a tight budget at Christmas time for some reason anyway. So it is nothing new to me. My husband and I have always had a low keyed Christmas. When we need or want something we usually just buy it then not wait for Christmas. Our Christmas is usually centered around the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and a dinner to celebrate it. So I make our food the focus not presents.

I am thinking of good, practical Christmas presents that would be good for people to give to family and friends in these times. I see all the people rushing to the stores buying those gift boxed things they assemble for customers. They are the type of gift you hate to see under the tree! A cheap knick-knack with some tea bags and candy in a big box with lots of packaging. I hate those types of gifts!!! They are so wasteful. I have come up with great alternatives though. How about these:

A basket (that could be used for the garden) filled with bars of soap, disposable razors, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, chap stick, and body brush or a couple of colorful wash cloths.

A stainless steel mixing bowl with a bottle of pure vanilla, a few packages of various seasonings (buy them in bulk at a Mennonite or Amish bulk foods store and split up for a number of gifts), a jar of Pumpkin or Apple butter, a bag of nuts, baking powder, sugar and a wooden spoon.

A bigger gift for your grown children who live away from home:
A new garbage can filled with household cleaners, paper products, maybe some canned foods, drugstore items, etc. I could easily fill one of them up with products they need or brands they'd like but can't afford.

For the typical homesteader a great gift could be a box of some home canned foods or something you make like soap or a crocheted or knitted hat, mittens and/or a sweater. Maybe some of each!

A tool box filled with some hand tools that are essential for fixing things, like a hammer, pliers, wrenches in different sizes, a utility knife, an awl, a level, measuring tape and some sandpaper.

For a guitar player on your list how about some guitar strings, picks, a guitar strap, sheet music or music book and maybe a battery powered guitar tuner in a new guitar case.

How about going to a local thrift store and filling a box with children's clothing for a family with more than a couple of children? My thrift store has beautiful clothing and if I was a mother now (I am a mother but my son is grown) I'd welcome a gift like that. If all they want is brand new name brands........then something is wrong with them! Wake up I'd tell them! This is the real!

Believe me some people would rather receive a big package of toilet paper or paper towels wrapped up! One year we gave my mother-in-law a big 50 lb. bag of bird feed. She loved it! Kept trying to figure out what was in that present. Or how about a ream of paper for a printer or ink cartridges for the printer? Things people have to buy no matter what. A case of oil, windshield washer fluid, items you keep in your medicine chest, etc. It is fun when you get to thinking about it. A load of firewood is a good gift for someone with a wood stove. I'd love that myself!

Keep these ideas in mind when you are tempted to buy one of those over priced presents this year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What Has Been Happening Lately

We have been so busy this year that I have barely had time to think about writing on here. I have been working for weeks on writing a top notch business plan for my business. I am closing my original business, Peaceful Forest in a couple of weeks. Right now I am just waiting for the paper work to come back from NY state for my new one which is KG Lupole LLC. I am very excited about this as it is proof that my guitar strings store is taking off.....finally! I am planning on meeting with a representative from SCORE. That is a national organization that is made up of retired business people in your community or online, who will assist you in any aspect of setting up or working on your business. From planning it, writing your business plan, getting financing to the actual day to day work of running it. All for no cost. They will mentor you and you can ask questions. I have also been building up my inventory of Curt Mangan guitar strings. In the future I hope to add a few more other brands of strings to give my customers a choice of brands. Have to do it like I do everything, little by little.

Having a business that I can run from my home is a big part of my homesteading lifestyle. Not having to drive to and from a business in town is perfect for the homesteader. I can work on my websites and then run out and work in my garden, kitchen or wherever. Some days, I just run out to my barn and brush my little girls, who's picture is posted above. Horse need attention and when I worked out in the J.O.B. (just above broke) world I had barely enough time to pet one of them let alone a meaningful brushing session!

I am still following my low carb eating plan. Mainly Dr. Atkins' famous plan. It is famous I guess because it really does work. The best thing about it though is that not only do you lose weight on it but you feel so much better. I think it may be the elimination of white flour products, sugar and anything processed. Once they are out of your system you start to feel so much better.

One of the main things us homesteaders do is to build up a storage of our food and supplies in case of any kind of emergency. Food storage proved to be a blessing to us when my husband was in a bad accident at work and we had no money coming in. We ate from our awesome food storage that I had built up from our garden over a period of a few years. When money is tight you can still eat.

Now though, I have changed the type of foods I store to low carb foods. For me, storing beans, rice, white flour and sugar is not something I will be doing. Granted many of the foods I eat now are organic like almond meal, coconut flour, flax seed meal, etc. Those foods cannot be stored for long periods as far as I know right now. So I have to do a little more research in how to do that. I could store almonds by canning them and then when I need the almond meal, grind them. For now though, I like buying Bob's Almond Meal for the convenience and high quality. I do not plan on relying on a freezer to store any foods for storage. As if for any reason your power does go down or your freezer malfunctions you lose all your food unless you can it. In an emergency though, you would not be canning it.

Have a great homesteading today!