Books Are Pretty

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Simply Green Giving.

The problem with these glossy, stylish lifestyle books, even the organic ones, is that you have to have a certain level of income to be able to afford the level of Simple Living portrayed in most of them. One of my favorite book review comments, and oh, do I wish I could remember who said this, described the recipes in one of Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks as being "perfect if God is coming to dinner." Anybody else, though, is not worth the effort.

But celebrity green lifestylist Danny Seo's environmentally conscious book Simply Green Giving seems, for the most part, to be genuinely creative, making gift tags, wrapping paper, and handmade gifts out of items even the most broke among us have piling up in the garage somewhere. Better yet, most of the crafty ideas he employs requires zero artistic talent.

It was so inspiring to see that I could make snappy looking gift ribbon out of old VHS videotape that Christopher and I immediately blew the whole idea of thrifty creativity by jumping in the car and zooming off to the craft store for string. And then of course we each needed our own craft box, which couldn’t be taken home devoid of crafts, so we filled them with crayons, fingerpaint, and Christmas ribbon, and defeated the whole purpose of the book right there in Aisle 29, the handmade soap section.

In an effort to assist you with not being like us, we spent the afternoon working on two crafts that are easy and cheap to do – gift labels out of business cards and soap. The gift labels, which were made using two business cards, old fabric from a soap wrapper, an old gift bag from Alex’s birthday party, a hole punch, white glue and string, turned out pretty good, as you can see.*

The soap was even more fun, but expensive, because I got carried away and bought clear glycerin soap blocks, lilac soap dye, lilac/vanilla soap scent, alphabet tiles, and soap molds. But I had the bright red satin ribbon, (which goes so well with lavender!) a bamboo skewer for poking a hole in the soap to thread the ribbon through, a Pyrex measuring cup, and a microwave, so I felt inexplicably justified in purchasing the items to make this project. The idea is to use craft store alphabet tiles, pouring the melted soap into the soap molds, filling it halfway, putting the alphabet tiles in to spell out the gift recipient’s name, then pouring more melted soap on top and freezing it again.

Except when I got the alphabet tiles home I realized that I had bought long skinny alphabet stamps instead of short flat tiles, and could not use them. The soap with the ribbon through it looks very nice, though, and if I’d bought the right thing I’m sure it would have been great. But it isn’t a complete loss. I can use the alphabet stamps to find fall leaves and stamp someone’s name onto them, another of Seo’s ideas, using the leaf as a gift label. If our neighborhood had trees, that is.

All in all, this gave me a lot of good, economical ways to wrap presents for the upcoming holidays, as well as providing a few hours of creative activities for Christopher.

If you’re a crafty person who is on a tight budget, and can restrain yourself in a craft store, you can find lots to work with using this book. And if your budget isn’t so tight, you can go wild in thrift stores, stocking up on gift-giving supplies for months to come.
Simply Green Giving
By Danny Seo
September, 2006 by Harper Collins
Hardcover, 144 pp
ISBN: 0-06-112277-4

*Glue the business cards together. Let dry. Glue the fabric or decorative paper onto the business cards and let dry. Fold card in half. Punch a hole in the folded corner with a hole punch. Run string through it. Voila!

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