I know this is one of the busiest times of the year for many of you, so save this one for the plane or car ride, or if you need a break from the family cheer. And, because it is the holidays, I'm starting off with a special this-edition-only topic ...
- Years ago, we got smart about gifting in our family after we spent one too many holidays opening gifts for HOURS. Now, we pick names, set a dollar limit, and send out wishlists. I usually put practical items on my list. If I were to do an extravagant indulgence list, here are a few things that would be on there:
-Frederick and Mars incense and beeswax candles (OK, fine! I ordered these for myself already. But only because they were on sale.)
-Seed + Mill Vegan Tasting Pack (I love their halva!)
-Death Star Disco Ball (I'm pretty sure I NEED this.)
-Towel Warmer (how wonderful would it be to have a heated towel every time you step out of the shower?)
-Faye Orlove's Celeb Goddess Tarot Deck (I've been looking for a tarot deck that speaks to me.)
-Frida by Ishiuchi (such an expensive book, but I love the photos of her clothes.)
-Blue chalcanthite crystal. (I'd prefer a natural one to one grown in a lab, but they are all gorgeous!)
-Gemini Espresso Maker (The GREEN one only at MoMA.)
-This incense hut. (Right now I put my incense on the brick fireplace ledge. Something more secure would be helpful.)
- Crystals, witches, and tribal magic. Lately, I've been into non-science-y solutions and remedies. It's my equal and opposite reaction to all the medical information I've consumed this past year. Guess I'm seeking balance in the force. Here are some interesting resources I came across in my search for woowoo healing: Crystal Cactus, Hauswitch, Blackbird.
- Living in Massachusetts. We were the first state to pass a bump stock ban -- in just 34 days -- after the Vegas shooting. We just took over the top spot in the national health rankings. We've had universal health care coverage since 2006 and will continue to have it even if when the individual mandate is repealed by Congress. My state senator, Julian Cyr, lead the passage of a bill to study single payer health care in our state. We just got top honors as one of the states best prepared for disasters. There's a reason we say, "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts."
- Sea Oak pilot on Amazon Prime. Oh my word! I should have known that George Saunders would bring the weird and Glenn Close would make it spectacular. It was just announced that none of the Amazon pilots were picked up, even this one. So enjoy the tiny bit that we have.
- The Pink Dragon Temple. What a magical structure!
- The Last Jedi. I do not care one bit what anyone says, I LOVED IT! So many surprises sprinkled around all the things you want from a Star Wars movie: laser sword battles, punny wink wink nod nod dialogue, the struggle of good vs. evil, fun new worlds to explore, and Chewbacca (true story: the first time I saw The Force Awakens, I thought Chewy had died in an explosion and I worried about it so much that I barely paid attention for the entire last third of the movie. Also, I had a Chewy action figure when I was a kid. He will always be my favorite.)
- The holiday cheese board. The Mr. is the chef in our family but I have been assigned the cheese board the past few years. And this year, the CRUDITE platter has been added to my list of responsibilities. I always overdo it and am trying really hard to keep it to a few quality items, arranged in dramatic fashion, of course.
- New winter solstice celebration. We've never really done anything celebratory to mark the important milestone of having made it through the darkest days. This year seems like a perfect time to start. We'll light a fire in the fireplace. Keep all the artificial lights off. Light our candles. What do you guys do?
- Glitterizing my 25 cent yard sale plastic llama.
- "The Secret History of Cricket Magazine, the 'New Yorker for Children'." Did you know this magazine is still being published? I don't think I had a subscription to it, but I loved reading it in the library.
- The Millions' A Year in Reading series. I barely read any books this year. Or I should say *finished" them. I'm jealous of these people who had a purposeful reading year -- so much so that they have themes and categories to discuss. (I very much like Scaachi Kohl's list.)
- End of Year Lists. Here's a few I really enjoyed:
-The Gannet's Best Food Writing of 2017
-The 50 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017
-The 19 Best Sentences of 2017
-The Most Underrated Movies of 2017
-Book Riot's The 2017 Oscars, But for Books
-The 30 Best Book Covers of 2017
-The Best Movie Trailers of 2017
-The Sunday Long Read's Best of 2017. (And subscribe to the newsletter here.)
- Kaskade's Christmas. A good addition to the non-traditional Christmas music collection. Wish it was a little less traditional carol-y.
- This "Winter Feels" playlist on Spotify. Not one of these songs is something I would normally listen to, but taken as a whole, it's great background music on a cold, grey day.
- So many kickass podcasts.
-Someone Knows Something. I binged all three seasons in a row! Unsolved mysteries at their best.
-Slow Burn. I clearly had no idea how Watergate actually went down. This podcast has left me agape -- so cray-cray!
-"The Sorting Hat" episode of Hidden Brain. All about personality tests. I'm an INFJ. I am also qualified to administer the MBTI.
Eating + Drinking:
- "Eating Cheese Every Day May Actually Be Good for You." This is THE highlight of 2017 for me, folks.
- Fat Balls. Admittedly, I haven't actually made these yet, but I think they will be good nourishment snacks to stock the freezer with in preparation for my surgery.
- Local honey. The Mr. and I both battled colds recently. I drank lots of my go to tea with honey. I found a local farm that produces honey from bees who use the natural flora out here.
- New words.
-anomie. noun. lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group
-bicameral. adjective. (of a legislative body) having two branches or chambers
-canard. noun. an unfounded rumor or story
- "Tips for Keeping Houseplants Alive This Winter." I failed at this last year and lost most of my succulents. I'm determined to nurse the replacements through this winter.
- Tree incense. I've always thought incense was a little too hippy dippy, but I love how this seven tree sampler makes my house smell like a forest.
- Candle focusing. Staring at a lot of flames these days.
- Jólabókaflóð. I am so wishing I had learned about Iceland's Yule Book Flood in time to incorporate it into our own family celebration this year. I love the idea of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then curling up in front of the fire to read them right away.
- Heidi Rose Robbins' (of the Radiance Project podcast) daily instagram posts about the position of the moon and it's impact on our lives that day.
- Satsuki Shibuya's fascinating system of organizing her time. based on a point system that takes into account the amount of energy it would take to recover from an interaction (doctor's appointments to speaking to a large group.) Also, the Golubka Kitchen Self-Care Interview Series always ends with Joan Didion's travel list and a question around what the interviewee would put on their own list.
- Free and Native. I'm not sure how I eventually clicked over to this site but I am now reading all her back posts, clicking through her Pinterest boards, and scrolling through her IG feed. This recent post may be especially helpful right now: "Ayurveda Tools During the Holidays."
- Tinnitus. Do you have this problem? I think I've had a slight ringing in my ears for a long time, but lately I've really noticed it. My family doesn't have the best hearing so maybe I have hearing loss. Or maybe it was the dental work I had last year. Or this lingering cold that won't go away. In any case, these are some interesting ways to handle it.
- Drybrushing. I was a failed drybrusher -- having tried it maybe six times in the past -- but the habit never stuck. I got myself a good brush and have found a place for it next to my toothbrush so I can actually remember to do it.
- Black tourmaline. I bought one to live in front of my TV, which is the only place Donald Trump can enter my cozy abode. It absorbs that nastiness right up. These days we need all the protection we can get.
Planning + Organizing:
- Jamaica. Because of my surgeries, we won't be able to go to Jamaica in March like we planned. It will be the first birthday in seven years that I spend in the US. We had booked a return to our favorite resort Couples Negril. I'm sad but I know we'll go back the following year instead. AND, we are taking my niece to Jamaica for her 18th birthday/graduation present this summer. More on that after I finalize the details.
- Kurgo reversible dog coats. Stephen has three of these. They provide a layer of warmth without being bulky, as well as a layer of protection when it's actively snowing or raining. They are really easy to put on and to clean. If you are looking for a good solid coat for your dog, check them out.
- Musher's Secret. Stephen is not the kind of dog that tolerates shoes. The Mr. mentioned he was whimpering and favoring his paws during their morning walks so I got out a tub of Musher's Secret, which is self-descriptive. Mushers use it on their sled dog's feet to protect them and keep those little snowballs from forming. Seems to be working!
- Holiday bandana. Stephen came home from the groomer's with a jaunty little scarf the other week and I decided he needed one for the holidays. He looked so cute. I found this terrific one on Etsy.
- Brave Paul Ryan is thinking about not running for re-election. Once again, let's all remember this story about Ryan doing a low-crawl in his backyard to avoid reporters. Soon he'll be low-crawling out the backdoor of the Capitol, a glib smirk on his face and his pockets filled with cash. Bet he'll steal his beloved gavel and take it with him. Let's all make sure Iron Stache takes his seat!
- Critical Reading/Listening
"I Study Liars. I've Never Seen One Like Donald Trump." "Most humans, most of the time, believe other people. That's our default setting. Usually, we need a reason to disbelieve." SO MANY REASONS!
More Perfect podcast. Season two's "American Pendulum" episodes about the Dred Scott case are haunting. The gerrymandering episode is also very informative.
"This Impeachment Carol is Everything!" EVERYTHING!
Use these words as much as possible: fetus, transgender, diversity, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based, and evidence-based.
- "It's a Gay, Gay, Gay Government." Palm Springs just elected an all LGBT City Council.
- "Mimi O'Donnell Reflects on the Loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Devastation of Addiction." This is beautiful. And heartbreaking.
- Lindsay Jean Thomson's 14-part (so far) series about her battle with breast cancer while in her 30's. I also follow her on Instagram and she's very open in her instastories. Very inspiring!
- "The Dark Side: An Oral History of the Star Wars Holiday Special." "Lucas told us Han Solo was married to a Wookiee but that we couldn’t mention that because it would be controversial."
- "The College Student Who Decoded the Data Hidden in Inca Knots." Discovery! Puzzles! Smart people!
Hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and stress-free holiday!