Handmade Christmas

Will and Maggie wearing their Christmas hatsWe tried to keep Christmas pretty laid back this year so there has been a lot of emphasis on simple gifts that are light on the environment – consumables, gifts of time, and handmade gifts. I was thoroughly delighted to receive a beautiful handmade hat from my sister-in-law, Angel. I have been laboriously knitting hats for myself but am not yet advanced enough to add on ear flaps, which is what I really wanted. It’s also totally awesome that she made a coordinating hat for Will although he’s a little concerned about ruining his manly image.

Other awesome gifts include a handmade tote bag for groceries featuring pockets for six bottles of wine (or other bottled products), reusable nylon bags for bulk items from the health food store, a beautiful set of handmade greeting cards, and of course the traditional Emigh handmade caramels. Yum. Admittedly, I was also delighted with the non-handmade very cool book from Will’s mom entitled “The Carbon-Free Home” which has thirty-six projects that can help you make your home more carbon neutral. (To her credit, she knows the authors so you could say it was handmade by her friends.)

Several of their projects are things we have already written about such as making a potato barrel, building with slip straw, and conducting an electrical consumption analysis. The rest are projects I’ve either dabbled with or thought about doing but didn’t know where to start so I’m super excited to try out projects like converting a nothern window to a cold box or installing a humanure toilet.  I am most excited about building an active solar air heater but we should probably start with sealing all the drafts in our house.  It’s a little alarming to lie in bed and feel a 30 degree breeze coming from the windowsill.  I guess I know where to start my list of New Year Resolutions…

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Dan said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 8:29 am

    Hi Maggie,

    I agree with ‘picking the low hanging fruit first’ when it comes to home energy conservation. There are so many different things the average home owner can do do reduce their energy consumption and thus their monthly utility bills month after month after month after …. 🙂

    Over the past year or so we have collected numerous home energy conservation ideas from not only our own experiences but from many others and have listed all 240+ of them on our home web page here:


    There are 106 ideas that cost absolutely nothing to do and another 74 that are very cheap to so. Go with the low hanging fruit first to reduce the monthly utility bills and with those savings you can help pay for the rent / mortgage or more involved energy conservation measures.

    If you use some energy conservation ideas of your own that are not on our list, please drop us a line as we can continue to share this with every one.


  2. 2

    Maggie said,

    December 30, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

    Hi Dan!
    I like your list of tips. I think it would be even better if you added links to each tip. Most of them are pretty straightforward but even for things like “Cook weekday dinners on weekend” it would be great to have a little article with tips on cookbooks that specialize in cooking advance meals and what dishes tend to freeze the best or keep refrigerated the longest and reheat well. I also get a little frustrated sometimes with tips like “add attic insulation” because I want to know how much to add and what kind and if I should remove the existing insulation if it’s dirty or water damaged or if it matters. And there were a few I didn’t really understand. “Line mattress with thermal sleeping bag?”

    It does look like a pretty exhaustive list of energy conservation tips! My one suggestion for expansion would be to include tips on water conservation, which also feels very important to me. Several of the tips in the carbon-free house revolve around water – rain barrels, native landscaping to minimize irrigation needs, etc. Reducing our water usage reduces energy usage on a community level (less water to be treated, pumped, etc.) and also preserves a precious resource.

    Thanks for the link!

  3. 3

    Angel said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 9:05 am

    I’m glad you guys like the hats. I didn’t realize they would be so immediately useful!

  4. 4

    Dan said,

    January 6, 2009 @ 7:30 am

    Hi Maggie,

    Regarding your suggestion to add links to each tip, it’s kind of hard to do within a spreadsheet list; in fact, I have no idea.

    However, we are writing articles all month (and next) on the suggestions folks have made and contributed to this list, some of which have links to areas on the Internet with more information. It’s taken a year to compile the list; it’s going to take even more to disect each contribution someone has made in more detail.

    As far as water conservation, it’s a separate list. This one is titled ‘energy’ conservation. I’m just a single dude learning as I go. We’ll get there on the water conservation.


  5. 5

    Maggie said,

    January 6, 2009 @ 5:31 pm

    Yeah, I have no idea how to add links to a spreadsheet either. But I’m glad to hear you’ll be writing articles on all the topics with more information. I’m looking forward to reading them and seeing your water conservation list!


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