For the second year in the row, we got a living tree as our Christmas tree. Last year, we got a more traditional fir, and planted it in a corner of the back yard in January. This year, we picked up a kumquat tree. It's really great-looking, covered in tiny orange fruit and will nicely replace the old kumquat tree that didn't make it in our back yard. (I think I've learned enough about taking care of trees in the last year to make sure this one survives.) Here is our kumquat decorated for Christmas in a sunny corner of living room.
For additional decoration, I took some fallen branches, spray painted them gold and strung them with some tiny lights I got at Ikea a few years ago.
That was about the extent of our decoration, except for a wreath on the front door, which I made last year out of spray-painted zip ties, and some colored LED lights on the front porch. We kept it simple, but our house still felt festive.
Gift-wise, Dakota and I received several excellent items that will make 2008 our greenest year yet. These included some gardening and green roofing books, a log with which we can grow our own shiitake mushrooms and, most exciting, a chicken coop! I should say, a custom-made chicken coop, hand-crafted by Dakota from left-over cedar pulled from his workshop. Check out its lovely design.
Before Christmas, we had been talking about getting chickens, but hadn't really officially decided whether to get them or not. So, the coop was a complete surprise. But, a great one.
You'll be hearing a lot more about backyard chicken prep on this blog in the coming months.
In terms of gifts for friends and family, I tried to make as many as possible. I went on a knitting frenzy--mostly hats--and sent those off to various cousins and friends in colder climates. I also got a wood-burning tool, which I used to decorate wood picture frames and a cutting board. Wood burning is hard, but some of them came out okay. And then we gave donations to relatives who have all the "stuff" they could ever want. Dakota gave my mom a gift certificate to the micro-lending site Kiva.org, which has been getting tons of press coverage lately. It was actually started by some guys I know from Stanford, and it's great that they're doing so well. (I think Kiva was even on Oprah!)