When our family made the switch to handmade toys for birthdays and holidays, I was around 10. I remember being ecstatic about my new position. See, as an older kid in the family, that made me an elf! <]:) I always loved giving handmade gifts from the time I was little, but they usually disappeared under the wrappings of the store gifts pretty quickly. The idea of having everyone giving handmade meant a whole new experience leading up to Christmas! We were no longer the bored, impatiently waiting kids--we were the crazy, crafty, secretive, winking little elves! No Santa stopping by our house--it was ALL up to us. This put a whole new spin on the holidays!
The other thing I've been loving is the 'freshness' in these dollhouses Stephen has been making.
I watched from the window as he hauled some freshly cut young trees out of ravine. When he brought in the finished (beautiful!!) dollhouses, their bark was cool and still damp with the life that had been so recently in it.
Yesterday, the girls were playing with our first log cabin dollhouse that Dad made for Theresa over ten years ago. It's still sturdy and oh so beautiful! The most coveted toy amongst the little girls. :)
Imagine chubby little hands gripping these real, natural materials as opposed to cheap 'made in China' pieces of plastic. Something you don't need to worry about them putting in their mouths. Something real, that God created naturally in nature, as opposed to something man made in a toxic factory. There just is no comparison! I want all my future babies to have exclusively natural toys! :)
So, I just wanted to share something (one of many!) that I am thankful for this holiday season; and that is that our family shops are finally experiencing some sales! I am so happy! It's a huge dream come true for me! :) I am totally passionate and proud of each and every toy in my Toy Barn and I feel so good having the opportunity to support ourselves by offering something that I feel so good about offering to children and babies!
In the shop lately...
Andrew is finishing up a custom order for a very large (2ft tall) Nativity Creche stable. Just needs us girls to stain it now.
Stephen just finished turning out a chess set on the lathe for a customer who wanted just the pieces. Right now half the set is in the wood cook stove to darken.
Michael has been selling a lot of his spin tops and has been getting efficient at turning them out on the lathe.
His Lord of the Rings Aragorn daggers have also been receiving a lot of attention.
Enough that he and the boys are now (very willingly ;) into making wooden LOTR toy weapon replicas!
And Frodo's "Sting":
We also have Legolas' throwing knifes just waiting on me to wood burn and finish, and lots more weaponry in the draft and planning stages! Johnny has been having as much fun with those as Donna has had with all our pony making. :)
Speaking of which... I've sold four ponies now, and I have been ecstatically happy about each sale! I really feel good about selling those for children to play with. I remember how I felt about my own handmade horse and I pour love for the recipient into each pony that comes off my needles. :)
If you've ever read our beginnings page, I could have added a part right after Dad received his pink slip where I remember him telling Mom that he thought he could be a pretty good toy maker, as a profession. That was the first I'd ever considered making a living building toys. Of course, if you can imagine, as a child I thought that was the most fantastic idea in the world!
Well, a few days ago, Dad was loading the van with boxes of our handmade toys to take to the post office and as he lumbered through the living room carrying a big box containing one of Stephen's log cabin dollhouses, he suddenly gave a jolly "ho-ho-ho" and "call me Santa Claus!" I looked up surprised and suddenly remembered him saying he wanted to be a toy maker all those years ago! Wow.
Yes, this year of 2011 has certainly brought with it a dream come true for our whole family! Last night, as I set our shops up for this year's Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale, I thought of that and decided to use "HOHOHO11" as our coupon codes. (And, as horribly tacky as it sounds, I have to add that that coupon will get you a fun 10% off in both our shops!! :) I know 10% doesn't compare very well with all the sales happening out there, but then, the meticulously crafted, natural, handmade goods can't compare with the things those stores are offering. ;)
Anyway, just find myself feeling so happy and grateful as we enter into both the seasons of our own handmade gift making and a busy shopping season and I wanted to share some of the reasons why. :) And unashamedly want to encourage you to support natural and handmade shops! The extra expense is worth it when you're buying for your future; both in a product that will still be in use 80 years from now, and in the environmentally and FAMILY friendly and conducive method in which the product was born.
Happy belated Thanksgiving as well! I'm thankful for every experience and every sip of air, so I couldn't possibly begin narrowing a statement like that down! (Though I've tried.)
Thanks for your support and MERRY CHRISTMAS to the world!!!! :o)