Holiday houses, holiday heirlooms

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory

A few weeks ago, we asked you to send in photos of your favorite holiday heirlooms, or smartly decorated holiday houses. The following is a sampling of a few submissions. If you want us to add a few more, simply e-mail photos to info (at) houstory.com, or post your image to our Facebook page.

christmas, holidays, family heirloom




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NPR’s Planet Money: ‘Stuff’ has a story

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory

Despite the rain, cold and touch of snow that have set up shop in my community of Eugene, Oregon over the past month, I still enjoy a good bike ride. It was on one of these recent treks, zipping along a trail that shadows the snow-fed waters of the Willamette River, that I heard an fascinating story on National Public Radio’s Planet Money.

Planet Money, T-Shirt, NPR, Houstory

Now, I’m the first to admit that the show’s major topic — the economy — is not typically something I’m interested in. Investments, taxes, mortgages…these are all a great big “yuck” in my book. However, the program has turned these seemingly mundane subjects into ear candy by revealing the hidden stories within the stories. In a lot of ways, I think of it like Freakonomics for your ears.

And like any good storyteller, they put a digestible (human) spin on complex issues. The program segment that recently grabbed my attention was a piece about the manufacturing of a T-shirt. Interestingly, the story protagonist was the T-Shirt itself: Planet Money ordered two sets of the shirt adorned with the show’s logo, and followed the garment’s creation from start (cotton fields in the southern United States) to production (factories in Columbia and Bangladesh) to finish (the customer). One shirt was made for men, the other for women.

Preserve, conserve, #nomorestuff

 

The story is laden with on-the-scene anecdotes, and peppered with astonishing facts, including:

* 13,000 bales of cotton is the equivalent of 9.4 million T-shirts.

* There are 6 miles of yarn in a single Planet Money T-shirt

* The workers who made the Planet Money T-shirt in Bangladesh were making about $80 a month

* 32 people make about 80 shirts per hour in Bangladesh. One sewing line in Colombia had eight people and made about 140 T-shirts per hour.

These facts, coupled with personal, insightful interviews with folks who work the production lines, provided a reminder that essentially everything we own has a creation story that includes actual human beings. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s way too easy to forget that.

What does this have to do with Houstory, The Home History Book archival journal and The Heirloom Registry? Well, nothing and everything.

The nothing is pretty obvious, so we’ll skip that.

Now, onto the everything. This month, as part of its  “No More Stuff/Preserve. Conserve” campaign, Houstory is asking you to slow down, and truly consider what you buy during this season of consumption and giving because not all products are created — or valued — equally.

As this story suggests, product manufacturing is a complicated business. Good (job creation, increased economic opportunities) combines with bad (environmental degradation, unsafe working conditions) more often than not.

I am not proposing that all consumption is bad, or that consumers should dump all that modern life offers and live in a Hobbit Hole. What I’m saying is that this complicated relationship should, at the very least, make us pause before we simply make a purchase online or at the store.

Well, enough about Hobbit Holes and T-shirts. Check out the Planet Money show, and let us know what you think!

Want to make your grandma mad at you?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

Below is a picture of my grandma. We called her Gommy. Some of you may remember her from a post I wrote about a cookbook that was handed down to me that she was featured in. I thought this picture was priceless.

I’m encouraging you to heed Gommy’s words: Save the stories behind your family heirlooms. Take advantage of being around family members during the holidays who can fill in the blanks regarding the precious pieces of your family history. Your distant heirs will thank you for it someday.

grandma, heirlooms

 

 

Need to get in grandma’s good graces? Simply follow the recipe below.

 

family history, heirlooms, family heirlooms

Share your homes for the holidays

Home and the holidays.

The two concepts just seem to go together effortlessly, don’t they? Kind of like awkward conversation and once-per-year family dinners. But it all adds up to the same thing: family history and tradition.

family heirloom, holidays

This year, we are asking you to share some of your family traditions — specifically your holiday family heirlooms and your beautifully (or at least uniquely) decorated houses. Let the Houstory Nation know what is happening out there.

Do you have a favorite leg lamp you break out every December? Perhaps a cookbook or family ornament? Or maybe you’ve spiffed up your house into a frenzy of wintery celebration?

Show us what you have, and we will share them with other Houstorians.

Simply e-mail photos to info@houstory.com by Dec. 15, and we will try to put them up on the Houstory Hearth sometime before Christmas, and share them with our social media audience.

Alright, now that’s out of the way, full disclosure: I’m totally going to steal the following from Cleveland.com, who are doing a similar activity. Why re-invent the wheel, right?

Here are tips they suggest, and we suggest, too, for taking great photos.

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Be sure to include the full names of the people in your photo and the communities where they live. We also need to know who took the picture.

Here are some basic tips that should help make your shots rise to the top!

  1. If you’re outside shooting, it’s always best to have the sun at your back, or maybe off to your side. If it’s behind your subject, the photos won’t look good. If the front of the building faces east you’ll want to shoot early in the day, or morning, if it faces west, then later in the day.
  2. When you’re inside shooting you should have the windows behind you, not behind your subject. If you can see a window behind your subject, you need to move to the other side.
  3. Close ups are good and make very dramatic shots!
  4. If you get a variety of these three things then you’ll have short photo essay that tells the whole story of the event. An overall picture sets the scene, a medium shot , and then a close up tell a powerful story.

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Looking forward to your contributions!

– Mike and Dan