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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Update on Fair Trade Christmas

Well, I must confess that Black Friday deals did get me off track a bit for my Fair Trade Christmas plan.  I can just about guarantee that a few purchases were far from fair trade.  I got caught up in the sales, the ads, the frenzy of it all.  At some point during the day, it hit me just how far off the mark I had gone.  Fair trade hadn't even crossed my mind until that point.

So, today I went to check out Global Village in Peoria Heights.  It is a fair trade treasure trove!  I did not realize until I went there that the focus of the store is fair trade!  In case you are thinking that fair trade is more expensive--think twice!  I found a lot of reasonable prices.  What can you get there?  Chocolate, coffee, soaps, purses, scarves, decorative objects, linens, musical instruments, dog collars, cards, mittens, clothes...  LOTS of things.  The cool thing is (in addition to them being fair trade) many of them are one of a kind.  You can get a truly unique gift there!  If you are looking for anything that has a plug-in or screen, you will not find it there.  Though, they do have some baskets woven from telephone wires in Africa...  It is neat that you can see what country most items were made in.  My daughter picked out a gift for a friend's birthday while there--a really cute kid's purse made in Guatemala.  Global Village is a small shop chock full of really neat items!  A great stop for holiday shopping that can make a big difference!

One of the biggest challenges in shopping fair trade is for toys.  The best I know of are some European toy companies with good reputations for making safe toys.  Does anyone know of some good resources for fair trade toy shopping (that are also made from safe materials)?  If so, please clue me in!

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anne AshLee's 7th Birthday Party--A Little House Birthday

We have been listening to the Little House series of books for a while now, and as an educator, I was thrilled when Anne AshLee wanted to have a Little House themed birthday party.  She wanted it to be authentic so I found myself getting every Little House cookbook and craft book the library system had.  We chose a few recipes:  Laura's Heart Shaped Birthday Cakes, Popcorn Balls (which actually did not turn out as balls for me, but they were still yummy!) and Lemonade.  We read the picture book of A Little House Birthday, and "Pa" organized the sack races and played guitar while we sang songs from the Little House songbook.  We were very fortunate to be able to have this party at a local pioneer park--the homestead cabin was so neat!  The "settlers" were really able to see what a pioneer home was like.  The park ranger led them in making cornhusk dolls and took them on a hayride.  Our wagon had shocks on it, and we talked about what it must have been like to ride in one of these for 4 months with no shocks.  Each child got a pioneer bonnet or straw hat to wear, clove candy sticks, and a (used) copy of Little House on the Prairie book.  The moms and kids had a lot of fun!  One friend commented that is was the most educational birthday party she had ever been to-- Mission Accomplished!  History can be fun!

On the flip side, pioneer cooking is not to be taken lightly.  I used kitchen tools I have never used before.  I can cook, but am not big on cooking "from scratch" so I found myself about to lose my mind the night before.  Laura's heart shaped cakes were really butter cookies-- there HAD to be a misprint in the recipe because you couldn't roll the dough into anything!  I just kept adding butter until it would stay together--3 sticks later, I had dough!  With frosting and sprinkles on them, most kids thought they were great.  I vowed to never make another birthday cake again...

The party was a lot of fun to plan, and my daughter really enjoyed coming up with ideas she remembered from the books.  We had a great time, but next year, I am thinking something small and low-key....

Pictures from the party in the next post!

Anne AshLee's 7th Birthday party

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Fair Trade Christmas

Do you ever feel like every time you turn around, you are seeing the same thing.  Something you may have given little thought to before is suddenly there everytime you turn around.  For me, that is fair trade.  In case you are not familiar with the term, fair trade means that the people who made and produced the item were properly compensated for their work.  I see at Forest Park Nature Center that October was Fair Trade month and they are featuring some really neat fair trade products at their trail store (chocolate, jewelry, gifts, coffee, etc).  Then I see an article in a magazine about child laborers worldwide and how many children worldwide work in sometimes dangerous occupations for little compensation.  Then I find out about a market in Peoria Heights that features fair trade products.  OK God--I get it.

I have always cared about the environment and try to make earth friendly choices in shopping and lifestyle.  I have not given fair trade as much thought until this.  I think God is challenging me to do so.  It makes total sense to me-- I should buy products where those who produce them are fairly paid for their work.  I don't feel it's ethical for me to get something for cheap because someone worked for wages that don't even provide them enough food to eat, much less to live on.  However, our consumer driven society has created a global system which often does just that.  It takes some searching to shop fair trade.

Thus, I have issued a challenge to myself.  I am going to do my best to make it a fair trade Christmas.  I am going to try to find environmentally friendly, fair trade gifts to give this Christmas.  I will keep you posted on how it goes!