Fair Trade Options for Christmas

In the last few weeks before Christmas, many of us will be buying extra to prepare for  holiday gifts and baking. For those who are interested in finding fair trade options, here are just a few you can easily order online. (This is written primarily for Canadian shoppers, but I’ll try to make note of American and European options where possible)

Clothing
Mec has a (small) selection of fair trade clothing for both men and women, including some mens shoes. They also stock organic and recycled options.

Nomads Hemp Wear sells both men’s and women’s fair-trade clothing.

Nomads fair trade fashion if you live in the UK, or don’t mind paying £ and international shipping, Nomads offers a wide selection of women’s clothing.

Prana has both women’s and men’s fair-trade clothing, as well as recycled and organic options.

Patagonia offers men’s and women’s clothing that is certified for fair-trade sewing.

Accessories
Ten Thousand Villages (again! they have almost everything!) has socks, scarves, hats, bags, wallets, jewelry. Unfortunately, there’s not as much selection for men’s items.

Shoes and Boots
Oliberté produces all of its shoes in a fair-trade certified factory. You won’t find running shoes or winter boots here, but they do carry a selection of light-weight boots and shoes (mostly leather or suede). Three of these men’s shoes models can be found at Mec.

Tea*
Ten Thousand Villages also carries fair trade tea (and coffee). I particularly like the giftability of their Friendship Teas that come packaged in tins.

David’s Tea has some fair trade options. Their blog claims up to twenty. However, I could only find a couple of fair-trade labelled options online. Perhaps they carry more in store?

Chocolate*
Ten Thousand Villages carries Divine brand Mint and Ginger things and adorable collections of assorted mini chocolate bars, among other things.

Amazon is worth searching, several brands of fair trade chocolates can currently be ordered from this convenient site. I particularly like this boxed sampling collection by Green and Black’s Organics.

Galerie au Chocolat (aka Jelina Chocolatier) carries some fair trade options (and is made in Canada!)

Mec carries a selection of fair trade goodies. So while you’re restocking the camping gear and preparing for a cross-country bike, buy some chocolate!

Baking Supplies*
Ten Thousand Villages has most of your baking needs ready to deliver to your door: spices, sugar, molasses, baking chocolate, chocolate chips.

This list is far from exhaustive. If you have favorite fair-trade products or stores, feel free to add them below.

*It’s worth checking your local drugstore, dépanneur, or grocery store for fair trade options, especially for chocolate, coffee, cocoa, and sugar. On rare occasions, I’ve found such prizes as fair trade bananas!

Also, I didn’t list amazon for every item. It’s a little unpredictable what you can and cannot find, but it’s always worth giving a search there too, especially if you find yourself on Amazon as often as I do.

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“Unpaid” Work

The following is a journal excerpt from 2012. Unfortunately, I didn’t date it exactly. But it’s a train of thought I’ve kept in the back of my mind since then:

“Since graduating, some obvious obligations have come about, such as earning a living. As with many people, I can be someone of extremes.

However, when a few weeks ago, I sketched out my schedule for a mishmash of part-time jobs for the coming summer and discovered, I had booked potentially a 50 hour work week [plus commute times], a thought hit me. Perhaps I need to make time to continue pursuing things other than income. Money isn’t the only thing that can be shared. God’s created me to enjoy writing, music, art, sports, and people; even though these interests rarely earn me money to give away, they are assets God considered worth making in me. So I gather, they’re things worth investing time, energy, and effort in. They are work worth sharing and doing even though they don’t earn money.”

It’s worth noting that I didn’t need to work 50hrs/week to cover living expenses. I’m not suggesting we go in debt, but I could have stayed well within my means and diverted several hours to other “work”.

(Thankfully, in the end, a family I was supposed to babysit for cancelled, so my schedule was less hectic than expected)

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Photo Credit: Pixabay, artbaggage

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills (Historical Kindness)

An interesting little tidbit of history

Kindness Blog

In times gone by, amidst widespread poverty, the Flour Mills realized that some women were using sacks to make clothes for their children. In response, the Flour Mills started using flowered fabric…

With the introduction of this new cloth into the home, thrifty women everywhere began to reuse the cloth for a variety of home uses – dish towels, diapers, and more. The bags began to become very popular for clothing items.

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour MillsAs the recycling trend looked like it was going to stay, the manufacturers began to print their cloth bags – or feedsacks – in an ever wider variety of patterns and colors.

Some of the patterns they started using are shown below

Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Flower Sack Dresses From the Flour Mills Over time, the popularity of the feedsack as clothing fabric increased beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, fueled by both ingenuity and scarcity.

By the time WWII dominated the lives of Americans, and cloth for fabric was in…

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Believing vs. Living — : Storywise : (check it out if you like!)

I love this post by Storywise. It’s so on point. The difference between knowing about God, and knowing him, is obedience–trusting what God says enough to do it and then getting to taste the results and see that he really is good.

An exerpt from George MacDonald’s “Donal Grant”: “He is a well-meaning man,” she said to herself, “but dreadfully mistaken: the Bible says believe, not do!” The poor girl, though she read her Bible regularly, was so blinded by the dust and ashes of her teaching, that she knew very little of what was actually in it. The most […]

via Believing vs. Living — : Storywise :

A Little Europe In Our Backyard

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Giorgio, Old Port Montreal. Photo by Tegan Wiebe, 2011.

Hooves clop along the cobblestone paving with a carriage rolling behind. The driver and I exchange nods as the carriage passes. I pause to fill my lungs with the sweet air of vacation and new experience, condensed into one afternoon. But after having trolled around for the better part of the afternoon, tilting my head back to see the top of Notre-Dame Basilica‘s two steeples, watching a man riding a unicycle in a no-car zone, and walking past historic architecture, my stomach tells me its time to move on.

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Notre-Dame Basilica, Old Montreal.

I find a road running beside a quay and begin walking East, peeking up streets looking for restaurants. At the first street I come to, I glance up: a red sign leans out from a stone wall and says “Rue de Vaudreuil” in white script. The street it labels is paved with brick. At the end, it turns sharply avoiding a stone building of four towering floors, lined with latticed windows: the lowest ones capped with burgundy awnings. Connected buildings line each side of the street forming an unbroken brick and stonewall from the end to myself. No restaurants down there. But it’s not long before I cross in front of a stone archway, opening into a dim courtyard, and surrounded by old buildings. I enter to explore and find my search rewarding: red letters spelling “Giorgio” hang from an iron ornamented sign. Imagined or real, I can taste Tortellini Portobello salivating in my mouth. I think I’ve found what I’m looking for. Once the real dish is in front of me, I let my thoughts drift back over the day. Cobblestones. Brick. Lamp stands. French signs. Italian food. It feels like half of Europe has dropped by. I have to remind myself; I’m 20 minutes from downtown Montreal. Of course the European feel of Old Montreal is in keeping with its history. Although it’s gone through several forms of itself, and exchanged French and British rule, since its founding, Montreal has remained European throughout. In 1642, French Catholic settlers arrived on the shores of the St Lawrence River and built a village of temporary shelters called Ville-Marie, soon changed to Montreal. Some of the settlement’s street grid is still visible.

Français : Plan des rues de Ville-Marie en 167...A sketch of Ville-Marie’s streets as they were in 1672. Drawn by François Dollier de Casson. Image via Wikipedia

Early in its existence, Montreal had unsettled relations with the Iroquois and English and felt the need to defend itself. So whether with wood or stone, between 1680 and 1717, Montreal was a fortified city. This state of defense changed in the 1800s, when immigration from England, Scotland, and Ireland caused the population of Montreal to explode; to accommodate the expansion, the city took down its stone fortifications. This action removed the barrier not only between danger and Montreal, but also between the suburbs and Old Montreal: the district where the bourgeoisie lived and ran their businesses.

In the mid to late 19th century, rapid industrial development arrived in Montreal. The Old Port saw merchandise delivered by train from across North America and by boat from across the Atlantic. By 1964, at which point Montreal’s downtown had shifted further inland, Old Montreal was titled a historic district, preserving the district from being swallowed by Montreal’s modernization. As a result, we can still see some of Montreal’s earliest buildings. One such example is the St-Sulpice seminary. Built in the 1680s, it is the oldest building in Montreal. That said, it is not the oldest piece of architecture; there are archeological remains for even older sites located in the basement of the Montreal Museum of Archeology and History, Canada’s largest archeological museum: its basement houses remains of a Catholic cemetery that was created in 1643, built only a year after the French settlers arrived. Also, near these ruins, lie more recent remains of The Royal Insurance Building, which housed a custom’s office from 1871-1917. With so many buildings created by first-generation immigrants from Europe and a mandate to preserve this district’s history, it no wonder it feels like there’s a little bit of Europe living in our backyard.

For more Old Montreal information and images feel free to read on:

Food, Activities, History: http://gocanada.about.com/od/montreal/tp/Old_Montreal.htm
Image Gallery: http://www.hanifworld.com/Montreal-Pictures.htm
Old Port Information: http://www.quaysoftheoldport.com/home.html

For more articles on Montreal areas see:

http://www.montrealites.ca/habitat/choosing-a-neighborhood.html

Sources * http://www.vieux.montreal.qc.ca/eng/accueila.htm * http://pacmusee.qc.ca/en/home * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Montreal