9 Days ’til Christmas: Pinned

Santa PinYou know how department stores have pyramids of boxed Christmas pins on display this time of year? Probably people think of them as a cop-out gift. I happen to like them. Above is the first pin I got when I was but a wee lass. It was a decoration on a Christmas present well before I could be trusted around sharp objects. Since then, more pins have followed me home. I inherited a couple from my grandmother when she died. And every couple of years, if I see one I like (some of them are too cheesy even for me) and it’s not too expensive, I buy another. Consider the people in your life. Would they like a piece of Christmas cheer to wear in December? If so, maybe a pin isn’t a cop-out gift at all.

12 Days ’til Christmas: Counting Birds, Give a Little, and More Madness

Northern Flicker

Will you see me?

Christmas Bird Count
Every year the Audubon Society sponsors a “citizen scientist” activity where ordinary folks take a bird census. This helps track how bird species are doing, where they’re moving, and if they’re in trouble or not. This year marks the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count. It runs from tomorrow (December 14) to January 5. Local chapters sponsor a count on different days during the Christmas Bird Count period so check https://netapp.audubon.org/cbcregistration/ to see when your local count will be and to register to participate. If you go, have a good time. Pat yourself on the back for doing a good deed. And, let Quarterly Speed Bump know how it goes (see our “On the Road to…Birdwatching article in our Autumn 2011 issue for more on birding).

Give a Little
It might be fun to spend some money on a good cause as well as doing your Christmas shopping this year. In case you’re looking for places to make a charitable donation this holiday season (maybe in the name of people who have everything they need and don’t want more stuff), the Better Business Bureau has reviews and ratings of national charities with offices in the US at http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/. Doesn’t hurt to check that the place where you’re sending your hard-earned cash will be using is properly.

12 Days of Christmas
There might be 12 days until Christmas but that doesn’t mean today is the First Day of Christmas. Nope the Twelve Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and end on January 5 (Twelfth Night) with January 6th being Epiphany (Twelfth Day). Because we’ve been completely overtaken with holiday madness here at Quarterly Speed Bump HQ, we’ll be blogging the 12 Days of Christmas as soon as our advent calendar posts end.

13 Days ’til Christmas: Make Your Own Book

I suppose we’re getting down to the wire for Christmas gifts. If you’re stumped, why not make your own book with photos and text that you put together yourself. Check shipping dates for companies like Blurb, Shutterfly, and the like to see if it’s too late (I haven’t used these companies so can’t vouch for the finished product) for this year. Or check with your local print shop to see what they can do for you.Calendar
I think a recipe book with family favorites could be a great way to go. Or maybe you have vacation memories to share? A homemade calendar can be nice too. Use your own photos, put in all the special birthdays and anniversaries, and add the phases of the moon (what? calendars should have those!). Many of the print on demand companies have their own templates but you can wing it with your own software (just check to see what the printing company’s specs are first) and printer (if you want to use up a lot of ink).

If you don’t already have the photo-editing software or desktop publishing software, I can recommend what I use to create Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine. The GIMP is a free, open source photo editing program. Scribus is a free, open source layout/desktop publishing software. And, Inkscape is a free, open source vector graphics editor. Scribus and Inkscape also have calendar templates. Just remember that there can be a bit of a learning curve if you haven’t used these types of programs before.

If you do make a book or calendar, have fun. We’d love to see it.