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There’s one thing I look forward to every year as Christmas preparation starts in earnest.

Craft show season.

I’m not crafty, but my mother knits sweaters and has been doing the local craft fair circuit since I was about ten.

So I’ve grown up around craft fairs and they feel like home.

One of my favourites is the Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale at the Ottawa Mennonite Church (1830 Kilborn Ave) which runs every Friday and Saturday in November.

Briefly, Ten Thousand Villages create opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products here through long-term, fair trading relationships. A non-profit program of the Mennonite Central Committee, it buys from close to 100 artisan groups in over 30 countries, then sells their products in their network of stores, online shopping, and Festival Sales across Canada.

I first discovered the show about 15 years ago. My first major purchase was in my mid-twenties.

This is Bill, our traditional Indonesian CD Holder.

This is Bill, our traditional Indonesian CD holder.

It was a hand-carved wooden Indonesian CD holder. We call him Bill.

I’d been eyeing Bill for a few years. But he was beyond my budget so I just appreciated him from afar. At both their stores and their shows.

But then at one show I found him half price due to cracked skull. Wood, dry air … splitsville.

Whatever. The crack was in the back and Cracked Bill just sort of added to the piece.

He’s held a place of honour in my home ever since.

In our current Canadiana themed living room I like to think he’s guarding the board books that are stored in that Quebec Butter Box and is ready to prove that, when needed, hippos aren’t the only thing that can go Berserk.

Also, in case he gets lonely, he’s joined annually by our Christmas tree, which is decorated with many ornaments bought at the Ten Thousand Villages Sale the year we bought our tree.

So imagine my excitement when I received an invite from The Mother of Adventure‘s Sonia Mendes to attend as an Ottawa Blogger to check out their new Foodie Friday event this weekend.

That’s the new bit that’s exciting to me – who hasn’t been to the show in a couple of years – they are adding a series of free special events.

Next Friday (November 14) is a Fair Trade Fashion Show from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and the following Friday (November 21) is a Handbell Choir Christmas Concert from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

So you can watch the show, and then get some Christmas shopping done.

That’s certainly what I did Friday.

Gingerbread House by Catherine Beddall

Gingerbread House by Catherine Beddall

I got there and entered the draw for this amazing Gingerbread House done by Catherine Beddall of Catherine’s Cakery.

I haven’t heard, so I’m guessing I didn’t win. But she DID take the time to give me a mini tutorial on how to properly ice cookies. I’m excited to give this a go this Christmas season.

I also sampled Equator Coffee’s Christmas Brew Ho Ho Jo and Zatoum Olive Oil.

Before leaving the foodie event, I had the chance to meet a few other local bloggers: Sonia, who I mentioned, and Rebecca from A Little Bit of Momsense.

It was my first experience meeting other local bloggers in real life.

And with that milestone out-of-the-way?

I went shopping!

Ten_Thousand_Villages

I ended up with coffee for my “take themselves super seriously; we don’t do Folger’s; and you are due to bring your swank purchase by Nov. 20” work coffee club.

The title of my awesomely intending to impress brew: “Freakin’ Good Coffee” from Equator Coffee. I like the confidence.

I also picked up two bracelets for my girls and a book for me called “The World Needs Your Kid.” (Published 2010).

The back cover highlighted “how the Dalai Lama has observed that the greatest challenge facing our time is that we’re raising a generation of passive bystanders.”

The book is written by Craig and Marc Kielburger and (Carleton Grad) Shelley Page.

For those unfamiliar with the Kielburgers, they founded an organization called Free the Children which aims to empower children to help children.

I’m looking forward to reading it.

So that was my night at Ten Thousand Villages.

The show runs Fridays and Saturdays until November 29.

If you’re in Ottawa, check it out.

Disclosure: I got a goodie bag of treats from Ten Thousand Villages as a thank you for attending and promoting the event. The opinions and views are my own.

For anyone curious about the contents here it is:

Thank you!

Thank you!

My husband is psyched about the sugar for his coffee and smoker endeavors; my five-year-old ate the chocolates; and we are all sharing the dried fruits. My two-year-old simply demanded I put her to bed last night. Sorta nice she noticed my absence rather than the loot bag.

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