Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Gifts

When your daughter is the only grandchild on both sides of the family, she usually becomes inundated with gifts galore.  This has happened every year since she was born on both Christmas and her birthday. I wanted our gifts be handmade and have meaning.
Here's what she got from mom & dad.

I asked her in the summer if she could have something knitted what would it be.  She said "a rainbow blanket."  Here is what manifested after a couple months and thoughtfully completed Christmas Eve.

I think it came out wonderful and the perfect size for cuddling under.
The happy colors bring automatic smiles.

The other gift from us was one I had my eye on for a while - a Baby Krsna doll made in true Waldorf style.  He is so adorable and so full of love.  Leslie of Govinda's Peace Farm created him with natural materials and wool from her own protected sheep.  Her farm and family are a true testament to simple living and high thinking. To have such a wonderfully handcrafted baby Krsna that one can hug and continue the process of bhakti in a simple, loving way, seems to be such a blessing!  My little one's name means the one who serves the beautiful and playful pastimes of the Divine.  She has already begun her service by making a baby crib from a fruit basket we received.

The director of the preschool my daughter went to asked if anyone would like to participate in the Holiday Project.  It is a special organization that helps to coordinate visits to the nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and other institutional settings on holidays.  Since I knew that we could not go on Christmas day, I asked if we could send some gifts along. 

hand made cards

rainbow bookmarks

We sent some clementines, hand drawn cards, and made some bookmarks from school watercolor pictures.  We hope our small homemade gifts brightened up their day and let them know that people were thinking of them.

I hope your Christmas was full of love and I wish you a most splendid New Year in 2011!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gift of the Gita

Gita Jayanti is a celebration of the advent of the Bhagavad Gita.
It was spoken over 5000 years ago by Krishna to his devotee and friend Arjuna
on the battlefield of Kuruksetra.

On this day around the world, many recite its 700 shlokas (verses) and also
perform ritual fasting to concentrate their hearts and minds on this transcendental message.

In a nutshell, the Bhagavad Gita describes the Supreme, the living entities (souls), material existence,
and the nature of time and karma. 

What great souls have found a deep philosophy for life from the Bhagavad Gita?

Albert Einstein: When I read the Bhagavad-Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous.

Mahatma Gandhi: When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and I see not one ray of hope on the horizon, I turn to Bhagavad-gita and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. Those who meditate on the Gita will derive fresh joy and new meanings from it every day.

Henry David Thoreau: In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us.

Rudolph Steiner: In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad-Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.

Aldous Huxley: The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. It is one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.

Madhvacarya: The Mahabharata has all the essential ingredients necessary to evolve and protect humanity and that within it the Bhagavad-Gita is the epitome of the Mahabharata just as ghee is the essence of milk and pollen is the essence of flowers.

"One may cleanse himself daily by taking a bath in water, but if one takes a bath even once in the sacred Ganges water of Bhagavad-gītā, for him the dirt of material life is altogether vanquished."
-Gita Mahatmya verse 3
So in this season of giving and the advent of the wonderful, I would like to extend this gift of the Gita to anyone who would like one.
Leave a comment and I will get in contact with you to send you a book.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Handmade Gifts in the Round

Here's a couple handmade gifts me and my daughter have made, which just happen to both be round.

We started the process the week of Thanksgiving because I wasn't sure how long it would take for the fruit to dry.  It's quite easy and I think would be enjoyable for any child...especially the spice sprinkling.

An apple already drying out

Spices:  Whole Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg

I poked holes with a bamboo skewer first, then we put in the cloves
Sprinkle Time!

Almost Done
The apple was also joined by a lemon and I would have to say that the lemon is probably a better choice.  We let the pomanders dry in a hanging paper sack with some more spices.  We shook them everyday. It's been about 3 weeks and the lemon is done. I will wrap them in some lightweight fabric and they will be ready to give.  My daughter's class made them last week, so it looks like I will get one made with love too!

Felted Soaps
I have seen these many places and they are usually out of my budget for soap.  My daughter was gifted a $14 one from Anthropology and she loves it.  After all the soap is gone, you can cut it open and use it for a little pouch to keep treasures.

We have a bag of wool roving scraps and this is what we used for covering the soap.  I found a good bargain on an all-natural traditionally kettle made vegan soap  with no preservatives or EDTA from Sappo Hill in Oregon for under $2 a bar.   They are such cute and fresh smelling round disks.  We picked almond and it seems like a good choice to mask any wet wool smell.

Sappo Hill Almond Soap Disks
1st layer - Remember to rub gently!
Many layers later - One rainbow and one cool blue

I'm not a master felter but I think I'm getting a better hang of it. All you need is hot water, soap, some towels, and maybe a little extra bubble wrap to aid in felting and keep your whole area from becoming terribly wet. Felting does take a proper technique and using the same kind of wool fiber will help it felt properly.  Most of all, it takes patience and gentleness at first.  I think anyone would love a felted soap bar and it's easy to make a different one for each person's liking.

I hope you are having fun with all of your homemade gifts.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stones and Plants

Two weeks of advent are almost gone...the festivals of both stones and plants.
Here's some pictures of our progression this year.

Stones & Shells
I love our conch shell from our Deity Altar
Little Stones arranged in front of large white crystals in
a rainbow of colors

Rosemary Topiary and the advent spiral apple
Before we came to our Waldorf school, we had not been very big on celebrating the traditional holidays as it was not really within the Vaisnava spiritual tradition.  Other than family obligations of gifting, we did not set up a tree or decorate our home.  I grew up in the Catholic tradition and yes, we celebrated Advent and Christmas Eve, but it seemed much overshadowed by the gifts on Christmas morning.
I appreciate the anthroposophical view of each of the weeks, with light and consciousness growing
as the days occur.

After the advent spiral in the kindergarten, my daughter came home and made her own with cedar, marigold petals, shells and stones and a red candle in the middle.

A Mini Advent Spiral

Tomorrow I will post some of the handmade items we have made as gifts.