Day 15 of Giving: Open your home to small, furry things.

Shira and Dexter

If you and the kids or you and the spouse or you and the kitchen sink were thinking of adopting some kind of purring, woofing creature at any point in the near future – now is probably the time.

Before we talk about why it IS the time, let’s talk about why it MIGHT NOT BE the time.  This is a very important discrepancy:


-DON’T adopt an animal, or worse, buy it from a pet store if you are looking to surprise your son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend for Christmas.  In addition to it being like handing someone a present and saying “Here, this poops, you clean up after it!” it’s also not the kind of thing that is healthy to ‘surprise’ someone with.  After all, you wouldn’t surprise someone with a baby, would you?  No, I think not.  Whether you admit it or not we’ve all seen “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” and, well, you get the idea.

-DON’T adopt an animal because it’s cute.  I have a secret – I am the innkeeper for two very adorable, yet very neurotic, goofy, clumsy, sneaky, obnoxious, cuddly cats.  Sure, Cash is little and Yuna is fluffy and it’s oh-so-adorable until one of them is scratching at the bedroom door at 5am (boyfriend allergic, no sleeping with them!)  At that time of the day they are like little demon shadows whose sole purpose in life is to keep me from beautiful, restful sleep.

-DON’T adopt an animal ‘because it’s Christmas’ because guess what, it’s not going to be Christmas in 6 months and you’ll have a considerably larger pet at that point who may or may not understand that while they grew exponentially, your lap did not.  Which is kind of cute…but…see above.

Classy Cashy and Taudrey Audrey

OK, that wasn’t so bad.  Time for the DOs!

-DO adopt an animal if you and your son/daughter/boyfriend/girlfriend have discussed responsibilities including vet visits, walks, feeding, litter boxes, pooper scoopers, and the average lifespan of Fido and what that means for your traveling, housing and schedules for the next 15-20 years.

-DO adopt an animal if you’ve been thinking about it for awhile, and not just when you saw the weird cage full of cats at Pet Quarters on your way back from the Christmas Tree Shops.

-DO adopt an animal from a shelter, NOT A PET STORE!

-DO adopt an older animal, they’re quite mild-mannered!

-DO adopt an animal if you have $500-$1000 cushion between you and poverty.  Because kitties and puppies do get hit by cars (this happened to me) and they do fall from great heights (this also happened) and eventually your mother is going to be tired of fixing your cat for you (this didn’t happen, thankfully, my mom would literally go to the poor house for her animals, be they hers or anyone else’s)

-Lastly, DO adopt if it’s the right thing for you and you’ve thought about it.  December’s cold, and January only gets worse and you think you get stir crazy in the middle of winter?  Trying living in a little cage during the solstice!  Dark, dark dark.

Mysterious, Fluffy Yuna.

What are some of your favorite animal rights organizations in Southern Maine and surrounding?  I love these guys:

Click to be taken here!

Day 14 of Giving: Music in the home.

If your home is anything like my home, then there’s usually some kind of music playing while cooking dinner, doing the dishes, cleaning, even when Jason’s playing video games.  My young niece has a particular fondness for music.  Before the holiday really gets here, I’m picking up my guitar and learning a few easy songs that we can teach her to fill the cold winter air with sound.  Standards, carols and classics, they’re all welcome under my roof!


…Trying to catch up!  Entires #15 and #16 are on their way!

Day 13 of Giving: Family Time.

Family time a LONG time ago. Leopard vest Audrey on the right.

Guhhh!  So crazy and busy all the time!  By day, I’m an exhausted merch prep assistant.  By night, I’m a crafty lady in pajamas.  So when do I get to hang out with my loved ones?

Carve out a window of time, whether it’s an hour or three, to just relax and spend with family.  Tonight I played Sonic the Hedgehog with my brother, ate dinner with my dad and put my niece to bed after a warm bath!

Ohhh, it was so nice.  And it was free.  How do you like that?

Family Time When Dad Turned 50.

Day 12 of Giving: Take a Minute For You

dog tired. Image by Audrey Hotchkiss.

Wellity, wellity, wellity!  Picnic is over and I am DOG TIRED.  Granted, when I got home I cleaned the living room, tidied up the kitty litter box (gross.  it will always be gross.  i will never get used to it) and did the dishes..but!  I do understand that part of giving to others is giving back to yourself!  Once my antsiness calms down I will definitely take my own advice.  🙂

What is it that you do that totally relaxes you?  Whether it’s an afternoon nap, going for a walk with your family, or escaping to the countryside for a drive — there’s no time like the hectic rush of the holidays to take a half day, a whole day or a weekend to yourself.  Sounds crazy, but you’ll love giving this to yourself!

Day 11 of Giving: Pay it forward, pay a compliment.

Hey guys, …WOW!  Firstly, let me say that the first day of Picnic was excellent.  Kate and I ended it with an embarrassing trip to McDonald’s but seriously – who wants to sit in a place after 8 hours of selling and who wants to cook?  The friendly staff at the McD’s on St. John St., that’s who.  Mmm.  Will we see you tomorrow?  I hope so!  12pm-5pm, come find us and enter the Little Eye raffle!

Secondly, today’s way of giving without really trying is to tell someone something you really like about them.  You could know them really well,  you could just see them walking down the street.  Positive reinforcement worked so well when we were little kids, right, so what’s the difference now?

“I love your coat,” “I noticed you hold the door open for that lady, it was very nice of you,” “You’ve always been a really good listener to me when I have had problems,”  etc. etc.  They may sound cheesy, but if they’re sincere the recipient can really tell.

There was no shortage of complimenting today at Picnic.  What the heck?  Did you guys dress up for this craft fair on purpose?!?  Either that or people were just coincidentally stylish today.  However you slice it, I am doing 2x the amount of planning for my outfit tomorrow, so I look awesome, too.

Time to hit the pillow, I’m beat!

Day 10 of Giving: Little Eye’s Picnic Picture Raffle!

Us at Picnic last year, so festive!

Today’s my day to give a gift to you!  I’ll be giving one lucky Picnic-goer a $25 Little Eye Gift Certificate to use on Etsy, at the Biddeford Art Walk, or for a personalized custom order!

Here’s how it works:

1.  Go to the Picnic Holiday Sale at 34 Gray St (Irish Heritage Center, corner of Gray and State).  The fair goes from 12pm-8pm Saturday 11th, 12pm-5pm Sunday 12th.

2.  Find Little Eye Designs and Kate Sullivan-Jones‘ table and mention the raffle to Audrey.

3.  I’ll take your picture perusing our wares.  (You’re a star!)

4.  Within the week I’ll post a picture to my blog of the winning local shopper who can use $25 however they’d like with Little Eye!


This is going to be fun — really, I’m just looking for an excuse to test out my new D80!

Day 9 of Giving: Learn Something New

Ohh, oh kittens, I am so tired tonight.  I’m also hopped up on epoxy and dazzle tac fumes, as Picnic is quickly approaching.  Will I see you there?  Kicking around some ideas about having a raffle where I take pics of people who visit me, mention the raffle, and let me shoot them!  Then check back on the blog to see if you’re the one who got it!  More to come tomorrow morning.

Tonight (quick) entry is about learning something new.  Learn conversational Portugese (just enough to say hello, how are you, where’s the bathroom, a glass of port, please, etc.)!  Learn a new guitar chord, recipe, dance move.  If you learn it from someone else then you’re giving yourself a present AND them, the satisfaction of sharing their expertise.  Even as easy as watching a documentary about something you never knew you were interested in.

To bed, to bed!

Day 8 of Giving: Naughty or Nice

Bedroom eyes!

I suppose it’s normal that this year the top items on my list are boringly practical:  I need a sweet pair of pajamas to keep me warm, socks to do the same, and a truckload full of underwear so that I don’t have to do laundry for two months if I don’t want to.

But then I got to thinking:  Man, underwear is the best present ever.  Whether you’re the wearer or the watcher, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Let me explain.

We all know that men are like butter in the pan when we don those extra-special drawers.  The ones with the little details that couldn’t possibly be worn practically under skinny jeans, the ones that are a tad-too-scratchy with lace for a full 8-hour-shift at the office.

But too often we forget that for the ladies, wearing a kick-ass pair of skivs underneath (or as) our outfit is like having a special little secret that only we (and maybe someone else lucky) will know about.

Personally, I’ve decided to treat myself to new underwear at least three times a week until Christmas.  This is easy, because I work in Westbrook a short hop skip from the strip, so all these underwear places are readily available.  Might I also suggest you do a search for handmade undies on Etsy?

Here are some possible genres of underwear we should all be treating ourselves to:


Lace. Ooh-la-la! By chickippie.

Silky Satin-y Slippery! By Hopeless.

Sustainable! By brookthere.

Day 7: Swap It!

December is a great month, hands down, probably second only to October.  October’s great because the trees are bright, the air is crisp, and the weather changing is pretty darn romantic.  Oh yeah, and my birthday’s in October.  But December’s great because people are unquestioningly nice at the end of the year.  The crosswalk on Washington Ave. is all of a sudden visible where motorists used to zoom by.  People let each other have parking spaces even if they were there first.  Lots and lots of giving.  Giiiiiive!

But with all this giving of one’s self, giving lovely gifts to other people, you absolutely can’t forget about giving yourself something new, or at least new to you.

So:  swap!  Organize a clothing swap with three of your closest, most fashionable friends.  Have a cookie party and everyone bakes a huge batch and everyone gets to bring an assortment home.  Get together with crafty people and trade unique handmade items with each other. OR do what Heidi Finn and I did tonight…


It's not weird to kiss a camera, is it?

I’m so excited for my new Nikon D80.  And she loves her Toyo 45 CF.  And it’s like we just gave ourselves the best freaking Christmas presents.  EVER.

She and her mother met me in Newburyport, MA tonight (halfway point between our houses) and we traded excellent pieces of equipment.  It was so good to see a Mass. Art face again, and especially lovely to meet her mother!

Visit Heidi’s website and get excited for the future digital love that you’ll be seeing on my blog!


Day 6 of Giving: Gift of Thrift.

Sweet double-cabled wool tunic I've had for a billionty years.

For as long as I can remember, thrift stores, Goodwills, dollar-a-pounds, etc. have been a pastime of searching and finding, uncovering and exploring.  When we were little, Dad lived in the West End of Portland when that thrift shop was where Gorham Bike & Ski is now.  Whoa!  We went there almost every weekend and I tried my hand at collecting salt shakers, crocheted shirts, shot glasses, you name it.


Since then, I’ve honed my craft a little more.  I seek out sets either for use in my kitchen or to resell on Etsy or Ebay to equally discerning buyers.  I look for oddities among the trashpiles of crummy mass-produced dishes in the back of the store.  I’m a boatneck-seeking missile in the ladies’ department.

More sets!

For all that Goodwill (and Salvation Army, and countless others) have done for me, this year I decided to donate all my surplus to them.  I’ve made one run already and plan on making a few more before the end of the year.  You might be asking yourself, though:  Why?

Two reasons.

Reason #1 is that filling your apartment or your home with useless junk from Target may be fun while things are on sale, but eventually the weight of your material possessions will distract you from the person you actually are.  Giving the non-essentials that you’re willing to part with to others will not only be nice for them, but you’ll feel like a snake shedding your skin.

Reason #2 is that you can write all this good behavior off on your 2011 taxes.  Giving for giving’s sake is nice, but let’s be honest, folks, Audrey’s working two jobs, three if you count my brief shifts at the coffee shop here and there, and every little bit helps.  For three bags of books and clothes I got a $100 credit and all I had to do was tell the guy how much it was worth and he signed it for me!  P.S.  You might want to itemize your donations, in case of an audit.

Click here for details on how to figure out how much your clutter is worth and how to donate.  It’s easy.