Eco-Friendly Homemade Gifts

Eco-Friendly Homemade Gifts - Blog Post Header

Are you tired of buying gift cards for your friends and family during the holidays? Do you want to give them something special that will be easy on the environment as well as your wallet?

Check out these books available from the JMRL catalog for ideas on eco-friendly DIY gifts for this holiday season (or next year!):

Half Yard Gifts by Debbie Shore – Contains 22 projects to sew using fabric scraps and give away, each made using less than half a yard of fabric, and provides easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step photography for creating a vast array of meaningful gifts.

Jewelry Upcycled! by Sherri Haab – Offers instructions and color illustrations for projects that demonstrate how to transform recycled materials (metal, plastic, glass, fiber, and other found objects) into beautiful jewelry pieces.

Wise Craft by Blair Stocker – With an emphasis on recycling and transforming, this innovative book shows crafters how to infuse old items, such as thrift store staples and fabric scraps, with new life.

A Greener Christmas by Sheherazade Goldsmith – A collection of simple, seasonal projects reveals how to create an eco-friendly Christmas celebration, including instructions for craft, gardening, gift, decorating, cooking, and entertaining projects.

Upcycling Celebrations by Danny Seo – A use-what-you have guide that presents over 100 projects for creative “upcycling,” in which used and recycled products are crafted into decorative items for celebrations and gift-giving.

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Anna Getty – Provides advice on how to best choose a tree (real or fake?), organize and recycle post-holiday, and create gifts and recipes that use less and mean more.

The Organic Artist by Nick Neddfo – Offers information on making art supplies such as paint, paper, pens, pigments, and prints from ingredients in the natural world.

“I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”

xmasBooks on Tap read  “A Christmas Memory”  by Truman Capote at  Champion Brewery on December 1. The highly autobiographical short story was first published in Mademoiselle when Capote was 32. In it, the narrator recalls the excitement of preparing and distributing Christmas fruitcakes with an elderly relative when he was about six in Monroeville, Alabama (the setting of To Kill A Mockingbird, where Capote grew up with Harper Lee). Young Buddy and cognitively-impaired Sook form a bond in opposition to the other, “responsible” members of the family and only make the fruitcakes for their friends, strangers all. From the couple with the broken-down car to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, these friends form a chosen family, all of whom have shown more kindness to the pair than the family with whom they live. These friends see Buddy and Sook as capable. The two screw up their courage to ask intimidating bar owner Haha Jones to sell them a bottle of liquor. Touched by their vulnerability (or reluctant to count out the many pennies the pair earned by squashing files), Jones gives them the liquor in exchange for the promise of a fruitcake. While we never learn how the other recipients feel about their fruitcakes, we do know that Buddy and Sook are fiercely disappointed in all family gifts, except the kites they make for each other. They didn’t want prosaic underwear, they wanted the glamor of the Baptist windows and the rarity of satsumas (oranges, but translated as plums in a Japanese edition). Earlier, we read The Strange Library by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who likes “A Christmas Memory” so much he translated it himself. At the end, the narrator describes the lasting effect his relationship with Sook had on him and the rootlessness her death caused him to feel. Many readers found the ending sad, but others thought it was the natural course of a full life and not tragic. All agreed that the ending saved the story from full-on sentimentality.

Everyone who came to the meeting (which was held shortly after the anniversary of Capote’s Black and White Ball) enjoyed the story. Most people had not read Capote’s other works, aside from In Cold Blood, but some looked forward to his appearances on Johnny Carson’s The Late Show and one actually saw Capote on Fire Island. Our readers responded to the evocative first-person storytelling that celebrated real life, despite the economic  hardships of the Great Depression and the ire of other members of the household. Buddy and Sook work hard for months to accumulate the funds they need to bake and mail the fruitcakes, each dime and piece of tin foil taking on outsized importance. We debated the sentimentality of the story, whether it romanticized a difficult time, but others were able to overlook that because of the beauty of the relationship between Buddy and Sook. We all agreed that short stories require a different talent to celebrate “a lifetime in 20 pages.”

More Information:
A Christmas Memory movie starring Geraldine Page, narrated by Truman Capote (partial)
A Christmas Memory starring Patty Duke
“A Christmas Memory” read by Truman Capote
Two short stories also featuring Buddy and Miss Sook
Truman Capote and Nanny Rumbley “Sook” photo
Author biography
Capote on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (minute 45.52)
Other works

American movie adaptation of The Dinner by Herman Koch

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