The holidays are just around the corner! We're hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and boy, do I have some cleaning to do!
I'm feeling grateful this year -- with two successful surgeries in the review mirror and a Democratic-controlled House ready to fight for us in the new year! I'm stronger than I was last year at this time and, dare I say it, more hopeful!
So let's get to it! Here's my annual special edition post with extra gifting and holiday-ing information for you.
Gifting: (A list of all the things I would love to give and receive that don't make it to my actual practical wish list in real life.)
- Himalayan salt and grinder. I mean, it's adorable.
- A candlelier. We lose power out here more than anywhere else I have lived -- even with those ice storms in Pennsylvania. This could come in handy while looking cute at the same time.
- This brightly colored acrylic Chinese checkers set. My Nana and I played this game all the time. She passed away eight years ago yesterday. This set would be a good way to keep her spirit (and she was SPIRITED) present.
- These Spanish wine glasses. Clean lines and a low-center of gravity. Perfect for your drunk friends!
- Make Ink: A Forager's Guide to Natural Inkmaking. I love the idea of making pretty colors from things I find on my walks. (And this article details an impromptu foraging trip the author took with some fans in Central Park.)
- This yellow cereal bowl. Something sunny for the morning! (Or to put your ice cream in!)
- This silky eye mask. Sleep is priceless, no?
- This gorgeous wool blanket.
- A spoon carving kit. There was a class earlier this fall at The Plant Workshop where people could learn to do this. I'm totally regretting not going!
- This super expensive coffee table book of Françoise Gilot’s travel sketchbooks. I know, who buys these books?
- These espresso cups.
- Ceramic quahog shells AND a Mooncusser green lobster kitchen towel. Both from Adorn in East Orleans.
- Immune Zoom tincture. Anything to avoid those nasty winter colds!
- This set of Laguiole Jean Dubost knives in mariner BLUE STRIPES.
- Appalachian Heirloom Sweet Flint popping corn. "When was the last time you tasted popcorn that left impressions of sweet corn and honeysuckle rising from toasted corn, and a final palate statement of pure sweetness?" SOLD!
- These cozy cabin socks. Actually, I might buy these for myself.
- "It's Go Time; Your Thanksgiving Game Plan Starts This Weekend." My sister usually hosts Thanksgiving, but because of travel limitations with one of our family members, we're hosting it at our house. Chef responsibilities will be shared between my sister and The Super Mr. So much to do before then!
- "The Cranberry Cantos: Thanksgiving Poems for Family and Friends." I love this collection of poems, especially "Yam." "The potato that ate all its carrots, can see in the dark like a mole." Share a few with your family and friends or play the audio links while everyone sits down to eat.
- A grazing table. We are totally doing this for our Christmas celebration. Instead of bringing out hot appetizers over the course of the afternoon, we're going to set up everything in one shot, including my cheese board and crudité trays.
- Holiday movie guides. Last year I tried watching all of the new Hallmark Christmas movies and FAILED. I was completely holiday-movied out by December 2! This year I am being selective. Here are a few guides to help you cull through the 657,324 movies set to air this season.
*"All the Details on Hallmark's 37 New Christmas Movies." The boys are coming over for an afternoon of the Hallmark Christmas Movie Drinking Game (and some Golden Girls monopoly) by the roaring fire. God help us!
*“A Definitive Guide to 2018’s Made-for-TV Christmas Movies, Divided by Trope.“ I am partial to the "An event planner didn't plan for THIS" movies.
*Check out Linda Holmes' (host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour) Twitter feed for her ratings before each new Hallmark movie premieres. She uses a 5 tree rating system. (Also her tweets about her dog, Brian, are wonderful!)
"Every Single Shiny New Christmas Movie for 2018." This list is probably the LEAST overwhelming so if you just want the highlights, read this one.
"Lifetime's Christmas Movie Line Up." To be honest, I tend to like the Lifetime movies better than the Hallmark movies -- not quite so saccharine -- and there is usually at lease one jaded, bitchy, and/or murderous character.
- The mid-term election results!! Currently I am working on my Nancy-Pelosi-Grabs-the-Gavel-From-Paul-Ryan's-Quivering-Hands-and-Saves-the-World-on-CSPAN viewing outfit. Stephen is planning to wear his American flag cape.
Here are my three take-aways: 1. With over 100 women headed to Congress(!), I've made a commitment to read a little something about each of them, starting with this one. 2. And nine scientists! May we all return to data and thoughtful analysis and critical thinking. 3. Our voting process needs a serious overhaul! Florida, you keep effing this up. Get it together, Becky!
Also, R. Eric Thomas ranked all the voting stickers (personally, I liked #37 Du Page County, Illinois, the best!)
- Awe. Do yourself a favor and take some time to read this article! "A growing body of research suggests that experiencing awe may lead to a wide range of benefits, from happiness and health to perhaps more unexpected benefits such as generosity, humility, and critical thinking." This is what I live for! The spice of life. The special sauce. If nothing else, it can make you feel like you have more time. And who doesn't need that??
- All those kick-ass people who gave their time, energy, and resources to election campaigns for progressives. I don't have the words to express my gratitude to our fellow citizens who pushed hard for our candidates and are STILL at it in some places.
- Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. I watched this on Election Day. It was fascinating to watch her larger-than-life persona in her performances juxtaposed against her time with her family in Jamaica.
- The Miniaturist on Masterpiece Theatre. The girl-in-a-pearl-earring-Rembrandty costumes alone are worth it! It's a slightly spooky story with a surprise-after-surprise plot. And ends up being very girl power. Not your typical MT crusty, dusty old fare.
- Bodyguard. I don't think I moved a twitch during the first 20 minutes of the first episode or the last hour of the finale. One review I read was spot on with this quote: “As the credits rolled, I snouted for more like a truffle-hunting pig.”
- Homecoming. I listened to both seasons of the podcast so I was curious how this would play out visually. Honestly, I was a little bored through the first two episodes -- stick with it until it picks up in episode three. Also, I miss David Schwimmer (and are we all loving him as Mean Ross on Will & Grace this season or what??) And that last scene during the credits is sort of explained here.
- A Very English Scandal. Warning: a dog dies. Otherwise, it's VERY entertaining. Hugh Grant is charmingly naughty as usual and the storyline is cray-cray. I mean, this line: "You have put that stupid babbling man in a court with a gun and a motive and a dead dog, and on top of that, he's a bloody fairy! He will love it!"
- This year's advent grab bag for my niece. I love gathering little gifts for my niece to open each day of December leading up to Christmas. She's at college this year so she'll get her bag of fun at Thanksgiving to take to school with her. I'll share some of my favorites with you after she's opened them all.
- The Snagglepuss Chronicles. Yes, it's a comic book. But it's main character is Snagglepuss! And he is a gay Southern playwright! Heaven's to Murgatroyd, how did I not see that before!
- Reading lists. While looking for inspiration to get back into reading, I've decided to tackle this World Reading Challenge and give myself two years to finish it. There are 52 books -- including War and Peace -- so this might be an ambitious timeline. And I've only read five of the books listed.
I'm also creating a list of 10 books to read in 2019 that are focused on animals (like Sy Montgomery's books), nature (like Tristan Gooley's), and Cape Cod. I'll post it here in January in case you want some inspiration for your own reading list.
- Sister Carol. Thank you, Solange, for recommending her. "The World Needs Love" is the reggae remake we all need.
- Michael Lewis' The Coming Storm on Audible. It's clear that major storms are becoming a part of our expected weather patterns and it is so important to have excellent data -- available to the PUBLIC -- to understand what is happening. I'm (even more) freaked out now after listening to this. (Note: you can get this as one of the two Audible Originals you now get for FREE with your membership.)
*Keeping Shop (especially the one with our locals from The Captain's Daughters.) It's not easy having a shop out here and it was really interesting to hear their origin story.
*The "White, Evangelical, and Worried About Trump" episode of The Daily. That conversation she has with her father floored me.
Eating + Drinking:
- Nuttzo. I love nut butters and am trying an experiment this year to see if eating more of them lowers my cholesterol. This version has cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and flax seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds. All good stuff! However, if you don't get those chia seeds out of your teeth right afterwards they balloon in size in your mouth.
- Dark Salted Brown Butter Chocolate. Tastes like a salted buttery rich chocolate -- so decadent!
- Cinnamon Churro Marshmallow Rice Treats. Rice Crispie treats and churros in one? Yes, please!
- How to have our yard qualify as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (life-long Ranger Rick super fan here.) Did you know the US has over 40 million acres of LAWN? We have had all sorts of animals in our yard since we moved here. We're surrounded on three sides by small stretches of natural wild habitat, which used to freak us out as former city-dwellers. There are only two or three things we need to do/add from the requirement list to be certified.
- The difference between a bearberry and a cranberry. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I came across a patch of what I thought were cranberries on one of my walks. I thought it was strange that people hadn't picked them yet, since they were much easier to get to than the cranberries in the dunes. Turns out there was a reason -- they were bearberries (slightly smaller, harder, and mealy-ish inside.)
- "November Prepares Us." I love this idea from Chinese medicine that winter starts at the beginning of November. And that all we need to focus on in November is to do less, cook slowly, and give thanks.
- Local off-season gatherings and events. Someday I will write a Love Letter to Provincetown, in the same vein as my 2011 Love Letter to Gay Men, but, for now, I'll just gush about the creative people who live in this town who create wonderful spaces and events for us to enjoy when no one else is here. The Canteen's Winter Lodge and Holiday Market, Spindler's 20 Thursdays, and Relish's pop-up in the center of town are three things I'm really looking forward to!
- Dr. David Agus. I watch him on CBS This Morning Saturday and he is always enthusiastic about whatever health research development he's sharing with us. And he wears adorable sweaters and is super nice and just makes you want to be his friend.
- Delde Pen Bag. I own two of these (light blue and pale yellow) and think they are the BEST pen bags out there. First, they hold a lot of pens and, second, the top portion slides down over the bottom turning it into a very useful pencil cup.
- These beautiful bird feather bookmarks by Momoka. Another part of my strategy to get back into reading is having something beautiful tucked in to the pages to see every time I sit down to read.
- CarbonKlean Peeps eyeglass cleaner. You know how hard it is to clean your glasses and you always end up just spreading around the smudge?? Friends, this is your life saver. I have no idea how it works but it totally removes Stephen's kisses. And the best thing? You clean both sides of the lens at the same time.
- Moving to CBS This Morning. Years ago, we left The Today Show because Trump was always on spouting loud nonsense (and this was before he entered politics) and because of how badly they treated Ann Curry. We quickly became Good Morning America fans UNTIL Chris Christie bullied Sunny Hostin. So we're over at CBS now and it's less frenetic, there's less hyperbole, and it's just CALMER.
- Missing items! The Borrowers seem to have moved in to our house. I'm missing a number of things that were all last seen in the same corner of the bedroom (but went missing at different times!) I've looked everywhere and, unless Stephen is squirreling these things away under the bed, I'm at a loss as to what happened to them. WHERE ARE THEY?
- Evening routine. My evening routine has generally consisted of brushing and flossing my teeth and getting a glass of water for my nightstand. I love this idea of adding a few more things to that list, including expressing gratitude for what happened during the day and setting an intention to remember your dreams. I'd also add one more: remind yourself to NOT spend time thinking about major life decisions during the middle of the night. Everything is better in the morning.
- Brazil nuts. Only eat one or two a day to get your selenium (apparently you can OD on it if you eat more than that). Why? Selenium helps balance your thyroid, helps prevent skin and breast cancer -- "particularly for people genetically predisposed"-- and helps eliminate heavy metals (especially mercury) if you eat a lot of seafood.
- Using Ayurveda to avoid winter weight gain. I'm a little late to this having already started the winter warmth layer around my middle. There are lots of tips in there that are pretty easy to do and I'm focusing on the no snacking rule. Snacks are my favorite, of course, because everything I like is bad for me. This article about healthy eating in general using Ayurveda principles is also helpful. #8 is my worst habit.
Planning + Organizing:
- Refreshing the emergency kits and go bags. Winter storms can get pretty bad here -- the winds are intense and it's not uncommon to lose power. Recently, we've also been getting tornado warnings, which is a whole different situation to prepare for. We already have a Storm Prep list on the frig that helps us remember what needs to be done (including unplugging the microwave, which we lost during one power outage). I find this article, "Dressing for Disaster," extremely helpful in creating preparation plans for evacuating your home quickly. And I recently bought this document fireproof pouch, and have filled it with all our important papers.
- Did you plan what you were going to do with the money you won from those big lottery jackpots? I surprised myself with what I came up with! My plans seemed to go in concentric circles, radiating from safety and security for myself, my family, and my closest friends (everyone's debt gets paid off! houses for everyone!) to economic prosperity for our community (housing for seasonal workers and year-round renters! seed money for year-round business owners! buying all the art from the local artists!), and then saving the world (a better health care system for Jamaica! funding for climate change scientists and genetic research! save all the dogs!!).
- Lyme disease in dogs. Stephen is regularly vaccinated for Lyme disease (because they have one for dogs, but NOT PEOPLE. What?). Even so, he tested positive for exposure two years ago and then again this year. Turns out, the vaccine itself can cause a false positive result, which was the case for Stephen. We had to have his blood tested twice, one month apart. So very, very glad he does not have this debiliating disease!
- Biofilm. You probably already know this, but you really need to stay on top of washing your dog's water bowl. That slime that you feel on the sides is gross bacteria. The article recommends soaking in a bleach solution once a week, too. Which, of course, I will now start doing.
- An update on Stephen's taurine test. Thought you all might like to know that Stephen's taurine levels are in the normal range! So he is not in danger of having a heart issue caused by eating a grain-free diet (as I talked about in this post.) Again, not an inexpensive test but worth it to this Dog Mama who can now rest easy at night.
- "Jamaica resorts facing a 'historic' sexual assault problem." I hate sharing this, but because we stayed at one of the resorts where one of these happened, I'm feeling a little bit shook.
- "How Toto's 'Africa' Became the New 'Don't Stop Believin.''" "The whole weird history of American culture is in this song somewhere."
- "When a Stranger Tries to Destroy Your Life." Maybe think twice before leaving that comment on the interwebs.
- "'Love Forever, Louise': The Mystery of Room No. 1046." This is the weirdest mystery I've ever read. Someone needs to do a podcast on it!
Thanks again for reading! I'll have a special photo-only post next Thursday for you. Remember, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow so prepare yourself for some weird stuff happening!