Feminist Fare Friday: The Christmas Gift Guide Edition

Everyone's got one.

A Christmas Gift Guide that is.

I've got a few ideas that I hope you'll like, and that may make that someone special on your list very, very happy this coming Christmas morning.

So, without further ado, I am going to don my helper shopping elf hat, put on my sparkly shoes and get to it!

(Disclaimer: I have not received compensation for any of these recommendations, they are simply products/people/companies that I think are awesome.)


1. CanvasPop

CanvasPop is a Canadian company that will take any digital file (Instagram, Facebook photos, or from your camera/computer file) and make it into a brilliant piece of artwork for your walls. Get those great shots off your camera and Instagram feeds and display them on your walls. You can make a collage, do a tryptich of canvases, or think big and do a whole gallery wall or series of canvases. They even include the hanging hardware and those little bumper thingies with all of their canvases (it's the little things that make me such a fan). I have one huge wall in our Natural Urban Home that will soon be covered with 6 new canvases and I can't wait to see how it is going to look when they are all hung! And did I mention that their customer service is beyond exceptional? I had already received 3 of the canvases and while the quality of the printing and craftsmanship was excellent, I wasn't 100% satisfied with the size that I had ordered. I called them to see what could be done and within minutes, I had new proofs to approve, a small charge to my Paypal account and new canvases being reprinted for me, exactly as I want them!

If you use this link to order from CanvasPop you'll get a sweet little discount too!


2. Lostmy.Name

For the past few weeks I have been seeing the Facebook ads for this company popping up all over my timeline. I eventually clicked on it one day and it took me to the website where I discovered these super sweet personalized story books. 

I love that this is a company of dads (and an uncle), that they started this as a DIY project, and that they are making magic and memories for kids all over the world. I have ordered one for my daughter and one for my nephew and can't wait to see the look on their faces when they realize that the books are about them! And bonus feature for bilingual kids, you can also order the books in French, Spanish and Dutch. You've still got a few days to get your order in for Christmas as the cut-off date is December 9th. 


3. Salgado Fenwick

I have been a fan of this local #YEG company for years. They are one of the main reasons I visit our downtown Farmer's Market so often in the summer and because of those visits, The Consort and I have a nice little collection of their wearable art in our wardrobes. The two talented women behind Salgado Fenwick make t-shirts, sweatshirts, leggings and pillows featuring their original hand-drawn artwork. Everything is silkscreened in small batches right here in Edmonton, Alberta and sold online, at craft fairs, and at their newly opened brick and mortar store as well. I love that each season they create a new and limited edition collection and I know that I'll continue to add to ours as the years go by! Local, wearable, art - the trifecta of reasons to shop with them!

I call her Zena, eagle warrior.


4. BroBrick Soap

Last weekend I attended the Royal Bison Art & Craft Fair and stumbled upon these soaps. The Consort is a notoriously hard man to buy for, as he is always saying things like, "I don't need anything" and "Don't worry about me"... Why doesn't he understand that I LIKE TO GIVE GIFTS! Anywho.... the one thing he does like is soap, nice smelling, manly soap. And you can't get any more manly then these BROBRICKS. With names like Cedar & Beer, Barber Shop, and Leather Scrub and a tag line that says "Smack the Filth Off!", you really can't go wrong putting a few of these in your man-dude's stocking this year!

BroBrick Soaps


5. One Red Bead

My friend Mandy is an inspiration to me and many others as well. She is also one of the driving forces behind the India Nepal Yoga Project, a grassroots organization that is working to heal the wounds of trafficked girls and women in that part of the world. One of the missions of the INYP is to assist in the creation of sustainable means for the financial future of those effected by trafficking and HIV/AIDS. On her most recent trip in Nepal, Mandy had a dream one night about one red balloon. The next day, after some brainstorming with the INYP group and the residents of an HIV/Aids hospice, they came up with the idea that blossomed into ONE RED BEAD. 

One Red Bead

The red tibetan healing bead is crafted from yak bone and is representative of the precious girl, affected by the devastation that is human trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Not only do the women feel a sense of pride and purpose in hand-crafting these wonderful bracelets, but the bracelet itself offers awareness, hope and support. 100% of the profit from the sale of these bracelets goes directly to help those living with HIV/AIDS and girls rescued from trafficking. This is the kind of giving that truly makes Christmas wonderful. Give a beautiful gift to someone you love and give the gift of hope to a girl or woman a world away. Order HERE. 


There you have it folks.

The 2014 Stay at Home Feminist Christmas Gift Guide!

Now, go get that shopping done so that everything arrives in time.

Merry, Happy!

Natasha*  

guest post: her story matters

The Stay at Home Feminist is a safe place for all. And as such, from time to time, I provide this space to fellow writers who need to share pieces that, for various reasons, they can not share elsewhere. I ask you to welcome them here and be gentle, their stories are personal, they matter and I promise you, there is a real person behind these words.

The following post comes with a Trigger Warning and deals with abusive, stalking and terrorizing behaviour. 

~~~~~

We met through a friend. I had just moved across the country to a strange city in a new province. I had left everything I knew behind me in the hopes of starting fresh and I had to prove to myself that I could go it alone and be completely independent. All I owned was my car and whatever I could stuff in it.

The first time I met him, my new friend and I ran into him on the street. She introduced us and we all briefly chatted before going our own way. He didn’t really strike me one way or another, but I was happy to be meeting new people. Over the ensuing weeks, I saw him on occasion at my friend’s house or out at a bar. Eventually, he and I started dating. I’m not even sure “dating” is the right word - we mostly hung out and went out to clubs. It was never an exclusive arrangement and there were no romantic dinner dates, but it was nice to experience my new city through him.

It lasted only a few weeks. I ended it when I realized he just wasn’t for me.

After I broke it off, he called me often – at least daily, but sometimes more. One night, he called to tell me he got a new roommate: a woman. I didn’t care. He’d go into too much detail about their near-sexual encounters before I’d say, “That’s nice.” and hang up the phone. I didn’t care. I never really had.

One night, he called me and said “I saw you with another guy. Are you dating him?” I told him I was and that he needed to stop calling me. I wasn’t interested in him; it was over. It had, in fact, never really begun.

That night, I woke up to a rock breaking my bedroom window. I knew he’d done it.

I called the police because my landlord needed a report for insurance. The officers came, and after inspecting the window, they asked me if I knew who had done it. I gave them his name. They stopped writing and looked up at me. “This guy is known to us for weapons and uttering death threats. If we bring him in for this, he’ll come after you because we can’t hold him.” Then I watched them leave as I gripped my incident report in my hands. My Super told the landlord that some partiers had done it, and it was fixed the next day.

That night he called. “I see they fixed your window. That was fast.” I hung up.

That’s when I became aware that he was stalking me. He didn’t really try to hide it; I think he enjoyed knowing that I knew. He seemed to enjoy knowing that he literally lived on the periphery of my life, affecting my choices and influencing my movements. He knew I saw him standing across the street staring up at my window. Once, he even sat outside my apartment door for three hours when I was inside – every once in awhile saying something to let me know he was still there.

When I was at a club, he’d stand on the edge of the dance floor and smirk when I noticed him. On one occasion, he followed me into the women’s washroom, grasping my arm as I tried to pull away. The women inside scattered, but security rushed in and took him away.

This happened 10 years ago. I was in my 20s, fiercely independent, and maybe a little bit naïve. When he wasn’t physically barring me inside my apartment, I carried on with my life. I walked alone in my neighbourhood, assuming he was there. I went to movies and clubs by myself. I walked to work, or quickly ran to the coffee shop across the street after dark. Some might say my actions were stupid or reckless. In hindsight, they probably were. At the time, though, I refused to let him win. I refused to live in fear. I refused to let him control me. I was always aware, though, and everything I did was calculated. The times I was most afraid was when I was alone in a subway station – I always stood against the wall, far away from the tracks. I was fairly certain that he wouldn’t do anything to me in front of witnesses, but being alone in a public place was scary, especially a place with high-speed trains and open tracks.

Stalker

I don’t remember telling anyone he was stalking me. I didn’t want anyone to tell me it was my fault. I didn’t want anyone to deter me from living my life. I didn’t want anyone to encourage me to involve the police again. I had figured out a rhythm to my life, which unfortunately, included him.

After close to two years of living my silent hell, I had to tell someone. For my own safety, I told my apartment building Super. We weren’t friends and I didn’t particularly like her, but she needed to know. I needed her to know the day I looked out my window and saw her having a friendly conversation with him. When she came inside, I ran downstairs and asked her what he wanted. She said, “Do you know him? He just applied to live in the apartment next to you.” I felt like I was going to throw up. I reminded her about the rock thrown through my window and said “That was him. He’s been following me ever since.” A quick glance at his rental application revealed that he had used an alias. Her response was swift. She picked up the phone and called the police, telling them everything she knew. They asked to speak to me and I gave them a brief history of his behaviour. They told me they couldn’t do anything unless he was still on the property, but gave me some possible options to help me feel safer. I informed them that I was moving back home – across the country – in a month. They said “Good. Leave in the middle of the night.” And that is exactly what I did.

A few years later, after my son was born, he tried to comment on my blog, saying, “The world is lucky you had a boy. It doesn’t need any more women like you in it.” We traced his IP address across the Atlantic, where I hope he’s stayed. I now also have a daughter.

Rarely, does he enter my mind these days. My days are no longer governed by conscious, calculated decisions to keep myself safe from him. I am, however, often reminded of how he continues to affect me – he’s the reason I don’t publicly share my kids’ names or faces online. He’s the reason Facebook continues to ask me where I live, and I refuse to fill it in. He’s the reason my location on Twitter is vague and encompasses a large geographic area. All these years later, I must protect my kids from his prying eyes. I need to be careful because I know he reads my blog and, probably, all my public social media.

Some may wonder why I am sharing this now, or at all. Why, 10 years later, have I decided to write this all down and share it with the world? My private hell. My past. My present. My on-going need to protect those I love from one single man who isn’t even known to them. My answer is this: I am not the only one. There are scores of women who live in constant fear, tormented at this very moment. Women who must protect themselves the best they can because no one else is. Women who are living their own private versions of hell.

I want you to know we are here. I want you to know that the silent ones have stories that deserve to be told, even when we think no one could possibly care. To my fellow quiet women: your stories matter even if no one hears them, even if you think that no one is listening. They are valid. You are valid. You may not know me, but I care. I care about what is happening to you, what has happened to you, and what continues to affect you.

I’ll admit that part of me doesn’t want to share this – to give him, or any man like him, the satisfaction of knowing that his actions had long-term effects. I don’t want him knowing that I think about him, ever. I don’t want him knowing that he factors into any of my decision-making. It offends me on a deep, visceral level that I need to give power to my experiences – to what he put me through. All told, I came out of this relatively unscathed. I actually feel like I’m a lucky one - so many other women have worse stories than this one. Hell, this isn’t even my worst story, but in some ways, I feel like it’s the most important one – the one I share with so many others. This is the story that so many other women could have written, but they suffer in silence… like I did for so long.

~~~~~

The author of this piece chose to remain anonymous to protect her family. She is unwilling to expose her children to the fire that might reignite in her stalker if she publicly declares that this happened. This fear of repercussions is why stories remain untold, go unreported, and personal, private hells are silently endured every day.

Photo Credit: _namtaf_ on Flickr

Midway

At the beginning of the month, I had this strong urge to do all the daily things. Writing, picture taking, meditation, yoga-ing.

I signed up for my first official #NaBloPoMo, found a lovely little daily photo challenge on Instagram called #thedailybon and made a promise to myself to get at least one 15-20 minute session of meditation in each day.

So, how's it going you ask? Because I know you're all just sitting around waiting for me to hit publish every day, right. RIGHT??!

Well, it's day 15 of #NaBloPoMo and I missed days 9, 10 and 11. I have to chalk that up to the disappointing cancelled mountain getaway weekend and then frantically trying to make up for it by doing ALL THE THINGS with my family over three days. Movies, dinners out, a trip to Toys R Us.... Oh, yes, the guilt was strong in those few days. I swear I have a couple of heavier pieces in the works and a guest post coming up this week.

I am really enjoying #thedailybon photo challenge over on Instagram. I am pushing myself artistically with my iPhoneography and trying to remember all the things that I learned from @motherbumper at Blissdom Canada this year. I case you are wondering, I take most of my shots with Camera+ and then edit with Snapseed.

Here are my faves so far:

#thedailybon

Follow me on Instagram at @StayAtHomeFeminist.

Daily blogging is tough, some days you just really don't want to, others you literally have nothing to write, and sometimes, yes, you get posts that don't have much substance to them. This thing is about more than just churning out words on the screen just because, it's about sifting through the words in our heads and turning them into something with meaning. It's about practice. For me it's about making a conscious effort to carve out my "writing time", and really explore different ideas about writing and actually getting good at this thing.

Thank you for tagging along with me this month.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I haven't meditated yet today.

Namaste,

natasha~