Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Handmade Cards?

On Monday I wrote a post explaining why you should send a greeting card, regardless of whether it is handmade.  This a follow-up post answering why handmade cards are so much more meaningful than commercial cards.

Whether you make the card or you buy it from someone who did, time and effort went into the production of the card.  The card wasn’t spit out of a machine making countless card clones (nice alliteration, eh?)  In fact, most handmade cards are probably a “limited edition” (only made until the crafter runs out of supplies) or entirely one of a kind.

Not only did the crafter put effort into making the card, but the buyer (or the creator) put effort into figuring out what sort of card the recipient would like best, along with some extra time and money into getting that card.  Although handmade cards often speak for themselves, the value of the card is bumped up considerably if you write a heartfelt message inside the card instead of just signing your name.

The great thing about handmade cards is that they can stick around for a long time.  Facebook posts are all to soon lost in the deluge, e-cards are smiled at and deleted a week later, standard greeting cards are thrown away, memories of a phone call or an in-person conversation will fade but not so with handmade cards.  They are put on bookshelves where the recipient will smile and think of the sender whenever they see the card.  Even when the card is banished to the memory box it can still be enjoyed every time it is pulled out and is unlikely to be thrown away.

So why handmade cards?  They are gifts in and of themselves: gifts from the crafter, gifts of time, effort, or money from the giver, and gifts of encouragement and smiles to the recipient.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Greeting Cards?

Since I have a business selling handmade greeting cards I thought I’d answer the question: why handmade cards?  Well, another question needs to be answered first: why greeting cards in general?

I believe there are degrees of the effort we put into wishing someone Happy Birthday (this will be the example for this post, but replace it for whatever fits you – thank you, congratulations, etc.)  The easiest way is to text them or post a message on Facebook.  The next easiest way is to send them some sort of e-card.  After that comes sending a standard greeting card, then comes talking to them in person or giving them a call along with buying and sending a meaningful greeting card.  Giving a gift can be placed anywhere in this list depending on what the gift is, how meaningful it is to the recipient and how much time, effort, or money the giver put into acquiring it.

What is the difference between a “standard greeting card” and a “meaningful greeting card”?  A meaningful greeting card is one that will propped up on the table and won’t be thrown away for several years.  It could be saved because it was especially beautiful or funny, or maybe it was because the message you wrote inside was especially meaningful.  A standard greeting card is just like all the other cards the recipient will receive - nothing (apart from your signature and perhaps a laugh or “aww” after reading the printed message) sets it apart.

I put giving someone a call and sending a meaningful greeting card on the same level.  Both of those take time (and perhaps a small amount of money or precious cell-phone minutes) to complete.  Either is the absolute best way to show someone that you care (short of throwing them a party or taking them to Europe!)

If the message isn’t meaningful and the card isn’t representative of the recipient’s personality then the difficulty of wishing someone happy birthday is between that of sending an e-card and giving the person a call.  Even then, a standard greeting card is still more meaningful then a Facebook message or an e-card. 

Stay tuned for a post on Wednesday answering the question "Why handmade cards?"

Friday, September 23, 2011

Forgotten Word Friday: Acerbic

Forgotten Word Fridays are an attempt to bring some vocabulary back into my life and into the world.  Most of these words are not used in everday speech but they could be found in tests such as the SATs.  I choose these words when I find them in whatever book I'm currently reading and am not sure of their meaning.

.Word: Acerbic

How it's pronounced: Uh-sur-bick

Meaning: Acidic in temper, mood, or tone. (Merrium Webster)
1. sour or astringent in taste: Lemon juice is acerbic.
2. harsh or severe, as of temper or expression: acerbic criticism

Where I found it:  I found this while reading Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.  Katniss (the main character) has to yell, “People of Panem, we fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice!” into a camera to rally the people of Panem.  After summing up all the anger she can muster and yelling the line:

There’s a dead silence on the set.  It goes on.  And on.  Finally, the intercom crackles and Haymith’s acerbic laugh fills the studio.  He contains himself just long enough to say, “And that, my friends, is how a revolution dies.”  - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (page 72.)
(In other words, Haymitch’s laugh reveals that Katniss is a horrible actor and her speech wouldn’t rally Eskimos to build igloos.)

Word picture:  Word pictures are sometimes used to help recall a word.  Sometimes they can be incredibly funny or… as I’m doing it… just part of a sentence to help you remember.

Assure Bick = acerbic

“Could you assure Bick that the consequences will be less severe (acerbic) the sooner he turns himself in?”

How to impress your friends:

At school: "Ms. March’s criticism of my paper was acerbic.”

Politics: "Don’t you think the Judge’s decision for the death penalty was acerbic?”

For parents: "There will be acerbic consequences if you disobey us.”

Think of all the things that could be acerbic!  Your mother’s expression, your enemy’s comment, the recent hail storm, somebody’s punishment, consequences, criticism, or a poisonous drink.

How would you use "acerbic" in everyday life?  If you use it in an everyday blog post I'll link back to you here in this post =]

Monday, September 19, 2011

I just wanted another bottle of water…

You know those people who seem to give much more than you asked for?  You ask for the newest matchbox racing set – they give you a kid-friendly riding jeep.  You ask for an iTunes gift card, they get you an iPhone.  Well, I asked for a bottle of water.

See, I was at a craft fair this weekend, selling my handmade cards and other craft items.

My table filled with handmade cards.
Cool ironing board with my book folding, origami lucky stars, and a jar of 1001 origami cranes.

My table where people could write a letter or make a coloring page to be
sent to Operation Write Home so a hero could be encouraged.
Business had been rather slow for all the vendors, but it seemed to be picking up.  I didn't have a canopy like all the other vendors so I was grateful for the clouds blocking out the sun's heat.

My mom stopped to check in on me at one point and I asked her to get me another bottle of water and as she was walking away she said “watch out for the wind.”  It was a little breezy, but it didn’t seem too bad until WHOOSH.  All my cards, falling off the table.  Business cards flying.  Origami lucky stars falling from the sky… or rather the ironing board.

Tiny origami lucky stars in glass ornaments.

At that point I was just dropping anything I could gather into plastic Wal*Mart bags.  Thank goodness some friends had arrived earlier and had stuck around, because they were a great help making sure nothing was damaged.  Moments after all the loose cards were gathered into a plastic baggy I could feel a few drops of rain and so we immediately took all the permeable items to the vehicle… and then the ironing board… and then the tubs.  By the time only my desk was left out it had started to pour. 

Because we threw everything helter-skelter into the vehicle there wasn’t room left for me so I went to stand under the church awning to wait it out.  After five minutes it showed no sign of quitting and was getting worse, so I ran around to see if any venders needed help (everybody seemed to have their things under control.) 

I was drenched and didn’t fancy setting my cards up only to have it rain again OR to have the wind blow my cards into a nice puddle of water so my family headed home.   Thirty minutes later the rain had stopped and I couldn’t help laughing to God “goodness me, I only asked for a bottle of water… not a whole lakeful!”

I can’t help thinking God is like that person who gives so much more than we ask for… so much more than we deserve.  Sometimes it’s funny, like a lakeful of water instead of a bottle full, but often it’s more serious like forgiving our sins.  I often ask “God, please forgive me for Sin X” and God says, “Child, I will forgive you for Sin X, and I’ll also forgive you for Sins A-Z that you didn’t even know about.”  We ask for the crumbs of His mercifulness and he feeds us a full meal.  And, really, with all He has done for me, I don't think too much water at an inopportune moment is something I am worthy of complaining about.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Forgotten Word Friday: Ameliorate

Classic books can be hard to get into, hard to keep reading, and sometimes hard to understand, but one of the things I love about them is their wealth of Forgotten Words.  Those words like alacrity, perspicacious, and vermiculations.  I keep a Post-It note by my bed so I can write them down.

It wasn't until I was browsing through SAT prep materials months ago that I realized how limited my vocabulary is.  I am an avid reader and writer, but most of the words I had never come across before.  My question is when did we lose sight of these words?  Most Young Adult books today don't use these words and I wonder why.  Was it because teens no longer used them that YA authors stopped writing with them?  Or was it because YA books and the internet stopped using interesting words that teens no longer say them?  I can't help but wonder.

Last night I came across the word illimited and realized that I really want to get back into studying vocabulary.  I think what might help me become better at this is to write the occasional blog post about words I discover.  I wanted to start with illimited... until I looked it up and realized that it only meant "incapable of being limited."  Makes sense!  So I decided to start with ameliorate.

Word: Ameliorate.

How it's pronounced: uh-meel-yuh-rate.

Meaning: To make better or more bearable. To improve.  (Merrium Webster)

Where I found it:  I re-discovered this word while reading Chapter 45 (Troy's Romanticism) of Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy.  The second paragraph reads:
"There is always an inertia to be overcome in striking out a new line of conduct - not more in ourselves, it seems, than in circumscribing events which appear as if leagued together to allow no novelties in the way of amelioration."
I found this sentence hard to understand, but a paraphrase might be,
"There is always a resistance to change that needs to be overcome when doing something in a new way.  The resistance is not so much as in giving up our own resistance to change, but in limiting events which seem to be joined together to ensure that nothing unusual happens in the way of improvement."

Word picture:  Word pictures are sometimes used to help recall a word.  I'm terrible at coming up with them but here's one I thought of when I first learned this word.


AMALIE got high RATINGS because her key word methods IMPROVED/AMELIORATED the vocabulary of participants.

How to impress your friends:

At work: "Man, I really hope this meeting will ameliorate the work conditions around here."

Politics: "Does anyone really believe that the President's new bill will ameliorate our economy?"

For parents: "Your grades need some major amelioration before we'll even consider letting you go to that party on Friday."

For teens: "Dude, they've really ameliorated the quality of their pizza!"

How would you use "ameliorate" in everyday life?  If you use it in an everyday blog post I'll link back to you here in this post =]