Handmade with Love

This year, I'm committing, as much as possible, to only giving homemade, homegrown gifts. Partly for budget reasons, and partly for the principle. There's something about giving something you have crafted with your own hands, or nourished over time... Even the smallest, simplest items feel special when they are handmade, infused with love and intention.
Last weekend, we had my parents over to honor my father's birthday. This man loves plants. As a child, I spent many a Saturday alongside him, pruning and weeding the meticulously crafted landscape around our home. Over the years, he's maintained glorious orchid collections and practiced the Japanese art of Bonsai. His love is deep - even after suffering a debilitating spinal chord injury over a decade ago that left him with the use of only one arm, my daddy is still propagating and styling bonsai trees.

So when I saw Japanese moss balls - a planting style derived from bonsai and known as kokedama - on my Pinterest feed, I knew what I wanted to make for my father's gift. They were super easy (I followed the directions here) and affordable to make; and he absolutely loved them! I used young ferns that I dug from my yard, and potting soil I had on hand. My purchases were peat moss, new garden twine, and sheet moss - about $12 at Lowe's. Of course, I practiced first and made one for myself with a bulb I had on hand. Kokedama can be hung with twine, like I did the ferns for my dad, or they can sit in a bowl or on a saucer, which is how I left mine. I just love these, and I even have materials left to make more!

At our gathering, I had a (belated) birthday gift for my mother too. For her, I embroidered a flour sack towel with a cute little hen and chick design from Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection. My mother is an avid cook. To her, making a pot of soup from whatever is on hand is the definition of pure joy! I spent as much time by her side in the kitchen as a child as I did by my father's in the yard. She taught me how cooking and creativity go hand-in-hand just by doing what comes naturally to her. Hence, a kitchen towel, stitched with love for her French-country inspired kitchen, seemed an ideal gift. I wrapped it simply and tucked a small bag of saved loofah seeds into the ribbon, as my mother has raved about the homegrown sponge I gifted her at the holidays. A gardener herself, now she can grow - and ultimately gift - her own!

What are your favorite handmade, homegrown gifts to
give (or receive)? I'd love to hear your ideas!

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