Christmas trees are a little controversial. I mean, harvesting a tree for no other resource than it's beauty is extremely wasteful and pretty indulgent when you think about it. But, it's a difficult symbol to let go of. For these reasons, a couple of years ago Ian and I decided that we would start a new holiday tradition.
We would purchase a live tree from a nursery, decorate it for Christmas and then plant it on Mom and Bruce's property when the season was over.
It wasn't feasible to begin this in Korea, for obvious reasons, so this year was our first chance to keep our promise to ourselves. We went over to the Portland Nursery and talked to the folks about having an Evergreen inside. It turns out, that they shouldn't hang out indoors too long; in fact, you really don't want to pass ten days. The temperature and light change is pretty stressful for the tree. Luckily, we're more of a "grab a blanket" than "turn on the heater" couple, so our apartment isn't oppressively warm (most people would probably call it cold). We also put the tree in front of a window, so that it would get all the light available, of course we also had our neighbors in mind and wanted to join the neighborhood by having a tree in the window for all to see.
We waited until today to pick up the tree. Ian got it after work. It's pretty heavy, so it was rather amusing getting it up the stairs.
Actual size. Propped up on boxes to be seen out the window.
It's pretty weird to have a tree up with no furniture and a totally unorganized apartment. But, I'm very happy to have it. We couldn't make use of the other Christmas decorations Mom gave us because there's no place to put anything. Just piles of stuff. We'll have to throw a party next year.
At $60 for a 4' Douglas Fir, a live Christmas tree is definitely not the more affordable option. I suppose a fake tree might be more cost effective while still considering the environment. But, this tree will get to live on and serve its purpose (creating fresh air and a habitat) for the rest of its natural lifespan. Plus, since it's alive and well, I like to think that its really confused about why its so dressed up.
We'll get to see our trees get bigger and bigger and serve birds and other animals on Mom and Bruce's property. In that way, our holiday traditions will be present year 'round, and that alone is good incentive for the extra cost.
For more information about live Christmas trees, check out your local nursery or go to livingchristmastrees.org
Projects are officially under way around the apartment and where there was once clean, empty floor space there is now, well... this.
Ian is cleaning and refinishing the steamer trunk that his parents gave us. When the living room is put together, it will act as a coffee table.
The kitchen isn't fairing much better right now.
I made these ginger butter cookies by adding fresh ginger to the simple butter cookie recipe in the Betty Crocker Cookbook. I sliced some candied ginger and put a small piece on top of each.
And, though I won't go into specifics (since it's for Christmas), I'm learning to use this guy.
It's difficult for me to get in to the Christmas spirit this year. I'll be working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I'll miss out on a lot of the holiday get togethers. It's also very difficult to decorate a home that isn't furnished. But, we're making the most of it. We bought a live, potted Douglas Fir the other night. Live Evergreens can't be inside for very long, so we're picking it up next Wednesday or Thursday. We met Mom in Centralia and she gave us some of the Christmas decorations we had over there along with some hand-me-downs and those will go up next week with the tree.
For now, we have this swag up in our entry to make the place smell a little Christmas-y.
Let's take a second to be really honest about travel. Most people have dreams of leaving their homeland. Most people have a list of foreign places they want to see.
Most people don't want to designate a bunch of time to seeing your photos or hearing all your stories. There could be a lot of reasons for this. People don't know where to begin and it can be really hard to relate. No hurt feelings intended; those are just the facts.
In honor of those facts of life, I've compiled a 90 second video of photos from our travels. This particular video is of all the "party photos" we took of ourselves. You know, heads squished together, one arm outstretched holding the camera. It started because we were often by ourselves when we traveled. Two is not the best number for taking photos, so we started turning the camera on both of us simultaneously. It slowly evolved into a meme in our personal lives and we made sure to get one in front of places worth photographing.
Anytime other travelers would see us do this, they'd offer to take our photo for us. We'd sometimes oblige, but often we found ourselves explaining that, "It's just something funny we do." People never really got it, and for good reason. When you take these photos, you can hardly see what it is that's so awesome in the background. But for us, having taken plenty of photos of the awesome things/places themselves, that was just the point.
I'm particularly happy that Vimeo chose that flattering shot for the video's cover and that I messed up the edit for the end of the music. Practice is needed, but I hope you enjoy it.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. -Henry David Thoreau
How many things are there which I do not want! -Socrates
Through return to simple living comes control of desires. In control of desires stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored. -Lao Tzu
We have a dream of a life that is good for us, our fellows our society and the natural world. Through a concerted effort, goal setting and lifestyle overhauls, we will make this a reality. This blog helps to keep us accountable to ourselves and to you.
We're back! After a year teaching in Korea and a long, winding adventure of a trip home, Ian and I have come back to the Pacific Northwest to put down some roots. We're not done traveling, but it's nice to have a place to call home that's surrounded by family.
Now we're in Portland trying to live local, simple and sustainable lives. Follow us while we get back to nature and common sense living in Stumptown.