Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Alternative Gift Giving

Desperate for a gift, maybe this Cow Necklace fits the bill.
There may be someone on your Christmas Giving list that is just plain hard to shop for. Don't despair, there are alternative gift choices for that person that seems to have everything or no longer wants anything!

or how about a nice Wide Tie ?
The other side of the coin is to sit down and think about what you are really trying to convey this holiday season. Gift giving is an expression of love, thoughtfulness, and kindness. I always try to purchase something meaningful, but often, out of despair buy something that I fear has little interest. A Soap on a Rope that will go unused hanging in a shower as a show piece for 25 years, only to acquire a nice coating of dust and dirt, seems a waste of a thoughtful gift moment!

Mom giving me a sack of Corn Meal for Xmas.
Why don't we instead select a local charity and make a gift in honor or in memory. Holidays are often tough for those that have lost someone during the holiday season. Sadly my Grandmother passed on Christmas Day and it was her favorite holiday. An "in memory" donation might be the best gift you could make.

My sweet Daisy Doodle, found at the shelter.
Because of my long involvement in Animal Rescue, I tend to donate to agencies that benefit animals. Think about the person you are giving to and if they or the person you are memorializing liked animals. I can't think of a nicer thing to do than to make a donation in honor of a friend and their beloved pet(s).

Local private animal rescue agencies have to spend countless hours begging (and I mean begging) for funding. It's often thought that local SPCA's receive funding from the national ASPCA, Humane Society of the US, or Federal or State funding. They do not. The only situation where a local SPCA receives county funding is when it operates the state mandated Animal Shelter. This is a rarity in Virginia but is actually the case in Charlottesville but funds only cover the collection and housing of animals, they do not cover spay neuter, vaccines, or other humane outreach. Many local humane societies struggle to keep the doors open and giving to them is a direct benefit to your community.

Saved by Animal Control with HOWS involvement.
I seek out agencies that work "in the trenches" or are located in low income areas as they tend to need extra support. Last year Voices for Animals in Charlottesville merged with Houses of Wood and Straw (HOWS) and both groups do amazing work for our local animals. If you have ever been involved in animal rescue, some of the saddest cases are animals left outside 24 x 7. Both of these groups help animals, that in my opinion, are the most needy in our community.

Now you get it ?
This year I received notice that the Humane Society that I worked for 5 years ago was CLOSING. Donations had trickled to a near stop. The group had worked so hard to help the animals that fundraising took a backseat. County shelter euthanasia rates had dropped to historic lows but so did donations. Fortunately, animal lovers heard the cry and donations flooded in. Grants were also written to help fund spay neuter programs. The Pulaski County Humane Society operates in a part of Virginia that has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the state. The last thing this community needs is to have an "in the trenches" group close.

Many privately run animal groups are teetering between opening and closing. This is not an uncommon case since they are rarely supported by local tax revenue like other charitable agencies. Think of how much work could be directed to helping the animals if a regular check came in the mail to support their programs!

Two more of my babies saved by the Humane Society.
I have talked about a non-profit sector that I personally know well but there are many agencies that do good deeds in your own community that can benefit from your charitable gift this time of the year. A meaningful gift is the best gift!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shop online this Holiday Season

It's time for my annual vintage Shop Sale on http://ForsythiaHill.etsy.com. I'm having a sales sweep running from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. I'll be sweeping out the merchandise at 20% off all items in my Etsy Shop.

You might think that vintage is not the appropriate thing to buy someone for Christmas but you can find ~ one of a kind ~ special ~ items!

Like new ~ vintage Roses book.

Vintage Shiny Bright Balls.
Some of my friends like pristine finds and others like shabby chic. Think about how your friend or relative decorates and you can find something to suit their taste that they are sure to love. Nearly everyone collects something!

Screen printed T by PARCELwork.
Check out the Etsyville Team on Facebook and the Charlottesville Etsy Sellers on Pinterest for gift ideas featuring a combination of vintage, handmade clothing, art, t-shirts, pastries, and soaps.

Necklace by Spirit Girl Design.
If you live in Cville, most sellers are happy to meet you with your item so you can see it before purchase and also save you the cost of shipping. All items listed can be purchased no matter where you live! All sellers ship in the US and many ship globally.

Handmade Copper Cuff by Fresh from the Flame.
I hope you will support small business owners this holiday season that offer unique and creative finds!


Leaf Soaps by Indigo Canyon.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A look back at Gardening in 2014

Entryway to our front door, the Rose Trellis 
As Fall of 2014 winds down, I just stashed away my last digging fork and managed to crack my favorite spade shovel in half. At least it was during my last transplant of a native Red Cedar. I only had to use half a shovel for the last scoops of dirt. Such is the life of a gardener, wearing out tools and putting holes in gardening gloves.

One variety of my Grandmother's Peony collection
I seemed to stay around the house a little more this year. This tends to happen as plants get established and regular insect visitors come around more and more. My Grandmother's Peony collection is coming along so nicely that I transplanted (what I hope to be) the white doubles to a new section of my front flowerbed. This bed looked really good this year and pollinators tended to hang out here more than other beds in the yard.

One of our Eastern American Toads on guard for pests
My vegetable garden was a disaster and shockingly the only tomato plants I had success with were in pots or sprung up on their own beside the well fertilized chicken coop. Pepper plants grew and grew producing a lot of fruit this year... I gave up on trying them in the garden and now only grow them in pots on my very hot upper deck. They love to bask in the sun.

Just this year I discovered that Kousa Dogwood bear fruit.
Tiring of planting veggies that never produce or get eaten by critters, I switched my focus to fruit. I now have a nice assortment of Black Raspberries, native Blackberries, and Thornless Blackberry plants. I finally have an Elderberry that has made it past the deer and rabbit nibbling stage and actually saw some berries this year. My lone Blueberry plant is doing very well and I transplanted it to a more open spot, holding my breath that I did not kill another one.  My Fig had a few teeny figs this year as did my favorite grape, the Muscadine. I never have paid attention to the suggestion to dig up old Strawberry plants. I just let them keep laying down new extensions of themselves and seem to have some fruit to enjoy. I even decided to transplant native Strawberries 2 years ago and man have they taken off. I adore them (this is the wild berry that has white blooms - not the yellow blooming tasteless aggressive plant that is most often found in yards).

Freakiest bug of the year, Crowned Slug Moth Caterpillar
The only fruit damages that came about late in the season were to my Sickle Pear tree and my Peach trees. Darn those deer. Obviously someone has been having a good time rubbing their antlers on my young trees. I should have known better to leave them unprotected and alone in the back field - my fault really. They are not dead yet but they might never recover.

Lovely assortment of Dahlia's from Ted's Garden
My friend Ted has an amazing assortment of plants. A collector of Dahlia bulbs, you never know how many or what variety you will discover in late Summer. This is the first year that I noticed he has two Persimmon trees in his yard (the Latin name means, Food for the Gods)! He has been nice to share some fruit with me. In the past I've tried using the fruit in cake and cookies but have never found a pleasing way to use them until this year. They are a great addition to my morning oatmeal and to pancakes! High in Vitamin A & C and found to be a cancer cell killer! Ted's yard bursts with color and variety, I love exploring and each year I seem to find another interesting plant.

Spending Fall on the trails around Monticello
It's always sad to see barren Winter approach but I do love sitting beside the wood stove planning next years gardens and adventures. My garden beds will spring up refreshed full of new grow and energy, I hope to feel the same way!

~ Rebecca
One of the best flowers to grow, Foxgloves

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