Monthly Archives: November 2007

Going Loonie

I wrote this a while ago. Thankfully, since then I have stopped these little excursions.

 Going Loonie

As I unload my items for the cashier, I am overcome with guilt. Am I over-indulging my child? Are these dollar store excursions sending her the wrong message? Are these bargain shopping sprees programming my child to consume, consume, consume? As I fumble in my purse for $30, I catch the lady behind me glaring at my purchases and my shame is reinforced. I can almost hear the lady whispering: “Tisk. Tisk. Tisk.”  

By Christina Friedrichsen

 

It’s raining. Not a warm rain. The cold, stinging kind. My four-year old is ricocheting off the walls with boredom and I have the perfect solution. The dollar store.

I mention the words and in thirty seconds flat, my daughter is dressed and waiting at the door. To her the dollar store is just another word for paradise.

We arrive, and our eyes dilate under the spell of 100,000 things that cost only a buck. We take a deep breath, and succumb to the scent of Brand Newness. Subtle hints of polyvinyl chloride and molded plastic, blend with bubblegum, jujube and top notes of air freshener to create an elixir that goes straight to our heads. I ask the cashier if this fragrance is available in a bottle. She leads me to aisle five, but I only find cheap vanilla and a floral perfume that smells like a funeral parlour.

Next to eau de funeral home, I find a pregnancy test. A pregnancy test, for a dollar? Even though I don’t need one, and will never need one again (we hope) I am tempted to buy a few just because they’re only a dollar.

Three aisles over is what we came for. I tell my daughter she can choose one package of stickers, and that she’s better off getting the 1,022 Barbie ones (sure, they’re tinier than freckles, but they stick really well to hardwood floors), than the package with only 10 SpongeBobs. She chooses Little Mermaid, and throws in a package of smiley faces.

“Oh, what the heck, it’s only a dollar,” I tell myself.

Next, we head to the section that has colouring and activity books. I marvel at the selection. This could keep her occupied for at least a week. She puts three books in her cart and I add two more, just in case this rain keeps up for a few days.

After adding five cans of Play Dough (the ones we bought last week dried out), a magic wand, some Silly Putty, two plastic dinosaurs, a doll, a miniature doll house, a hula hoop, bubbles, a ball, two packages of beads, and a Kitkat, we head to the check out.

As I unload my items for the cashier, I am overcome with guilt. Am I over-indulging my child? Are these dollar store excursions sending her the wrong message? Are these bargain shopping sprees programming my child to consume, consume, consume? As I fumble in my purse for $30, I catch the lady behind me glaring at my purchases and my shame is reinforced. I can almost hear the lady whispering: “Tisk. Tisk. Tisk.”

When I get to the car I check the bill, just in case the cashier miscalculated. I wasn’t planning on spending $30. Did I buy that much stuff? I sure did.

We get home and you’d think it was Christmas. My daughter excitedly empties the bags on the floor. She can’t decide what to play with first so she plays with everything. I decide not to intervene because it feels good to see her have so much fun.

Half an hour later the ‘tisk, tisk, tisk’ returns and this time it’s louder than a jackhammer. My child has blown through three activity books, one package of stickers, half a chocolate bar and an entire jar of bubbles. She’s dumped the Play Dough on the floor, and she’s back to ricocheting off the walls, except this time she’s wearing a hula hoop and brandishing dinosaurs with very pointy tails.

I’m now convinced that these trips to the dollar store aren’t as harmless as I care to admit. Buying toys (most of which are plastic) that my daughter doesn’t need isn’t exactly an earth friendly act. Sooner or later these little playthings will end up in a landfill somewhere, leaching toxins into the environment.  And what kind of poison is belched into the air when this stuff is manufactured? What about the people being paid a pittance in dingy factories to make this stuff.

Also, I am greatly concerned about what I am teaching my daughter about consumption. Don’t worry if it breaks, dear, we’ll buy another one. Tired of the Barney colouring book? That’s okay, we’ll buy you the Barbie one and three more just so you won’t get bored. And the stickers you blew through in thirty seconds, well, there’s plenty more where they came from.

My child is only four. It is not too late for her. It is not too late for me.

Next time it rains I’m getting out the flour, the salt, and the food colouring. My daughter is going to learn that the best play dough in the world cannot be found in a dollar store, but at home, inside a kitchen where mother and daughter have flour in their hair and food colouring all over their hands.

And when we’re done making play dough animals and she’s back to bouncing off the walls, I’ll join her. Who says going loonie has to cost a dime?

An epiphany during lasagna and green beans

Today, it came to me while I was scarfing down my lunch of leftover lasagna and canned green beans:

What is my highest goal as a writer?To help others stay true to their own individuality. In doing so, I stay true to my own.

My handmade, crocheted Christmas

This essay of mine appeared in the Globe and Mail last year around Christmastime. I still believe in its message wholeheartedly. 

 MY HANDMADE, CROCHETED CHRISTMAS

(Featured in the Globe and Mail)

There was a yearning inside me that was so strong, I could taste it. It was a yearning for simplicity, authenticity, and a complete lack of sophistication – and it tasted like mincemeat pies.

by Christina Friedrichsen

There was a time when I snubbed crocheted dish cloths and Christmas ornaments made out of pipe cleaners and googly eyes. There was a time when concrete-floored church halls smelling like mincemeat and mothballs made me turn up my nose. Not any more.
I have grown to love church bazaars with the fervour of a pastor at the pulpit. Why?
Recently, I had to purchase a baby’s first Christmas gift. I felt a fair bit of pressure to find something good. I figured one of the big box stores specializing in toys and baby things would be my best bet. By the time I weaved my way through the crowd of pleading children and ornery parents to the baby department, my nerves were crackling like a fire in the hearth.   
The towers of toys, the screaming kaleidoscope of primary colors, the frenzied staff who were always at least five aisles away, the massive signs prodding me to buy, buy, buy, all made me feel like I had just eaten 4,000 gummy bears laced with caffeine.
And it made me feel nostalgic for the Christmases I knew as a kid. The ones before big box stores, branding and Bratz Dolls. The ones before sleek marketing campaigns and Don’t Pay for Three Years. By the time I flew through those automatic doors into what seemed like the freshest air I had breathed in years, there was a yearning inside me that was so strong, I could taste it. It was a yearning for simplicity, authenticity, and a complete lack of sophistication – and it tasted like mincemeat pies.
The next morning, I loaded my three year-old into in the van and headed to the nearest church bazaar. Not only did I need a dose of homemade goodness, my little girl needed a taste of Christmas sans commercialism.
The familiar scent of Bibles, pews and perfumed elderly women welcomed us as we opened the heavy wooden doors to the church. A white sheet of paper with an arrow pointing down led us to the basement, where silver-haired ladies served warm slices of apple pie and coffee in Styrofoam cups. In the corner, elderly men manned tables selling used books and rummage sale items. But the craft tables were what we were there for.
My little one made a beeline for the tables with crocheted Santa brooches and snowmen made from pom poms. To her, this place was just as good as any mall or big box store. Better, because the sweet ladies couldn’t stop telling her how cute she was. And they couldn’t stop giving her things, like suckers, and tiny toys and ornaments to put on our tree. I think she got at least 100 smiles in half an hour, and a heaping bag of what she called “treasures”- all for free.
I bought myself an afghan that morning in bold colours that do not match my living room. I’m absolutely certain Nate Berkus would not approve. And I’m also certain that the kind lady who spent her days knitting it wasn’t calculating her hourly rate when she stitched away because she only charged me $25.
“I enjoyed doing it,” she said, as she handed it over. It is now a permanent fixture on my couch and the coziest blanket I’ve ever owned. The only problem is that my cat has claimed it for herself and she growls at me when I get near it.   
Since that inaugural craft bazaar of the season, it’s become our Saturday morning ritual to visit as many bazaars as we can. It’s my goal to do as much Christmas shopping as I can there. Anything to keep me away from malls and jammed parking lots and salespeople who wear microphone headsets.  
Just recently, my mother started joining us and our Saturday ritual has become more than a shopping experience: It has become a time for bonding between mother and daughter and grandmother. It has become a time of making memories; ones that I hope will glow in my little girl’s heart for years to come.  
As I sit here, with my new blanket around my shoulders and my crocheted granny slippers on my feet, I raise my glass of eggnog to the afghan and tea cozy makers of the world. I raise my glass to the mincemeat pie makers and the Christmas ornament makers who give away their handmade goodies to little girls who smile at them.   
I raise my glass to all that is authentic and unhip.

Give me nature baby!

I interviewed author Richard Louv yesterday. His book Last Child in the Woods is receiving huge press. I can’t wait to recieve a copy of his book! What a great guy, great message. He’s had 3,000 requests for speaking engaments in the last two years. I felt so fortunate to snag an interview. Check him out here: http://www.thefuturesedge.com

Burnt as hell

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This is why the smoke detector went off tonight.  (First picture.) It was a recipe from the internet. So, I threw them all in the composter and proceeded to make a second batch. They were bloody amazing. First time I’ve made pita chips, but now i am sure they will be a standby in this household. Everyone loved them and what a wonderful way to use up stale pitas. Just brush with melted butter/olive oil/garlic powder mixture and bake at 375 for eight minutes (not 15 minutes at 400!). Second batch shown on right. YUMM!

How rich are you?

I’ve really enjoyed the comments made on this article. Thoughtful Canadians! And I do feel rich! I love life! That is my definition of rich.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourview/2007/11/how_rich_do_you_feel.html

Elements

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Just enrolled in a Photo Shop Elements night course at Fanshawe. I can’t wait! I was playing around with Elements today with one of my photos. I like how the paint tray turned out. It looks like it would make a neat painting.