Day 22, 23, 24 and 25. What? I got busy.

Four more ways to give!  In rapid succession, it’s cold out and the covers are calling my name!

Good as a side, or as the whole.

#1 – Eat well.

Eating well can mean eating delicious things (like I did all weekend) that aren’t so good for your body but are good for your soul.  Then balance that out with eating well for your body.  Like delicious spring greens with blackberries, pine nuts and blue cheese pictured above.  Well rounded, not fatty and so delicious!

#2 – Tell the truth.

Not just to others, but to yourself.  I don’t think this needs any explanation.

#3 – Rebuild bridges.

Ghosts from the past are scarier when they remain as ghosts.  Does it really serve you to hold on to negative feelings forever?

annnd…#4.  You guessed it.  Buy from artists!

Mass media, big box stores and ironically, the internet, are dehumanizing our everyday experiences.  Regain some of your human experience by supporting the arts.  Pictured above is one of my newest listings, a pendant with an arctic fox in it and on sale with coupon code GETITGONE at checkout.

Day 21 of Giving: Uhhh…Sweets!


Peppermint Bark Snowflake $2.50 by cakesandmorewi on Etsy

Thank goodness my new day job has dental benefits, because seriously, Little Eye loves chocolate.  And candy canes.  And more chocolate.


Low Carb Almond Cookie Mix in a Jar $6.00 by MamasLoveinaJar on Etsy

There are literally thousands of listings on Etsy for delicious sweets, cookies, fudge, soaps that smell like candy that you’d probably try to eat if you didn’t know better, truffles, trifles, chocolate covered fill-in-the-blanks and more.  And look at all that stuff in your pantry – sugar, flour, …turn it in to something worthwhile!

Then share.  With me.  So we don’t all get enormously huge before January!


Day 20 of Giving: Drive Carefully.

The gift we give today is pretty serious – it’s making sure that others are healthy, happy and safe to enjoy their holidays by making sure we responsibly enjoy our own.

Firstly. We are SO LUCKY to have a white blanket of snow covering Maine, even in the South!  Of course with your snow tires (or four season tires) your Maine car is equipped with the necessary precautions to prevent skidding, bumping, crashing.  But that guy coming down the straightaway that you’re turning on to…does he?  Tuesday evening brought a beautiful (heavy!) snowfall to the Portland area that resulted in a 17-car-pile-up near Deering Oaks and countless other accidents.  Personally, as I was driving home in my equipped, yet somewhat finicky sedan, a zippy motorist crossed the straightaway with only 15 or so feet between me and him – my antilock brakes take at least 20 feet to be effective!  And pedestrians, use CAUTION.  Just because someone could potentially brake from the distance you’re planning on crossing at, just assume that the car will slide and swerve and may not do what you’re thinking it will.  Remember snow?  It’s slippery.


In my mind, there is absolutely no excuse for excessive drinking and driving.  It’s taken way too big of a price for me to really, truly know this.  So if you’re going to parties between now and the New Year and want to enjoy beverages, here are a few ground rules your mother, teachers and friends probably already told you but if you don’t listen I will personally break your knee caps so you can’t get in your car.  (Not actually true, but I’ll definitely take your keys).

#1.  Designated driver.  I personally think this rule of thumb is a sham.  DDs always end up getting persuaded to ‘have a drink!’ by their increasingly sauced friends and, who wants to go to a party with a large group of people they may or may not know and not taste a little liquid courage?  Sometimes this works.  I have friends who don’t drink but like going to parties.  This works.  Couples who can actually stick to this plan have some success.  This works.  But if this seems like kind of a bummer, please see Rule #2 + #3.

#2.  Taxi cab!  Sure, you may have to wait awhile and hey, it may cost $20 to get across town but stop being such a miser, Scrooge, it’s Christmas!  Leave the house with cash so you are not in a bind later when you’re contemplating a hackney driver and also leave a nice tip for the fellow or lady working on the holiday.  Split the cab with people who live close so it’s not such a pain in the wallet.  $20 is totally worth avoiding thousands in lawyer fees, losing your license or killing yourself or, worse, one of your friends.

#3.  Stay awhile!  Eat something!  If you’re planning on leaving the party at 1am after the big toast and a little dancing, stop your intake and start your snacking a few hours before.  You’ll still have good bubbly champagne feelings but when it’s time to drive you’ll be in much better working order.

#4.  Be nice to the dry.  If someone doesn’t want a drink, don’t get all excited because you are and think it’s the best thing in the world.  Some people don’t!  As someone who ‘takes it easy’ at parties and usually switches to tea after 2 drinks, tops, I just want to let you all know that you *don’t* get more and more awesome as the night wears on…it’s actually the opposite.


Have fun, but above all, be safe!

Day 19 of Giving: Wrap It Up.

Wow!  I’ve really let the days get ahead of me.  Here I’m writing an entry for days ago!  Still, get ready for a power-packed day of entries so that I can enjoy my Christmas Eve with family without feeling like I didn’t do what I said I was going to do.  🙂

Day 19 reflects on my activity last night of sitting on the living room floor (hardwood, ouch) surrounded by reused paper, ribbons and bows from last year.  Half the fun of receiving and giving gifts is making an event out of it.  Presentation, as in sales, is everything.  But you don’t have to break the bank or widen that footprint in order to do it!

Do you have a ‘nook’ anywhere in your house/apartment?  Do you love breathing air and drinking fresh water?  Then what you’re going to need to do is save these things on Saturday you used to wrap up your presents throughout the year:  birthdays, bar mitzvahs and yes, Xmas 2011 (whoa!).  Because seriously, who wants to pay $4.99 for a tube of shiny paper that will end up crumpled on the floor by noon on the 25th.  Not me.

I had a few pristine sheets of tissue paper in red, green and white that were the ‘top layer’ for several prezzies.  We had a big tube of shiny red paper with snowflakes on it that mysteriously ended up in our possession (I don’t normally do shiny, since it’s triple the environmental impact or some other fudged statistic like that) so I wrapped a present in it that would’ve busted through the tissue paper otherwise.  Simple gold ribbon tied the packages tight and I made little tags from paper left over from a wedding invitation order I made in 2009.  I cut strips of the paper, stamped it in gold with a Christmas tree stamp, wrote the recipients name under the tree and hole-punched at the top so it could fit through the ribbon.

Annnd…our family is celebrating Christmas on the 24th because my Dad works for the volunteer EMT in Yarmouth on Saturdays so he can’t be sure if he’ll be needed for a call or not on the 25th.  I like to think of that as a little gift in itself, of course my dad would wave his hands in the air and tell me to can it if he heard me say that.  So on the night of the 24th when all that paper ends up strewn about, I will definitely be hunched over collecting pristine scraps.  Then I’ll reuse packaging Etsy orders, wholesale shipments to any number of Maine shops, and who knows what else.

Pictures of my eco-econo-wrapping to come – don’t want to ruin the surprise!

Day 18 of Giving: Make a Friend.

Summery Friends

Sometimes the idea of meeting new people, cooperating with and listening to them for more than the polite couple of minutes, can be daunting.  I’m as good as the next guy at saying hello, shaking hands firmly yet demurely (not a limp fish, not a bear paw) and moving on my way.  But to actually give of yourself and receive of someone else is quite the commitment.

At the Biddeford Art Walk on Saturday Kate and I were lucky enough to attract the whirring, busy bee energy of E.B. who was an 8 year old (I think?) who seemed to know anyone and everyone who was hip, productive and somewhat known in the town of Biddeford.

E.B. helps Kate to look awesome

Her energy was captivating and inspiring.  Imagine your acquaintances, friends, etc. live on a shelf in glass jars.  When you see one, you take down the jar and release all the information/emotions/connections associated with that person.  The cool thing is the shelf isn’t finite.  If you make one too many friends it’s not like one of the glasses will edge off the shelf and fall.  The shelf just gets bigger!

So, because of E.B. I urge you all to take a breath the next time you meet someone new, steady yourself, and give that social transaction more than the attention it deserves.  It’s a gift for you and them!

Day 17 of Giving: Go for a walk with someone awesome.

A fitting follow-up to the gluttony episode.  However.

Going on a walk gets the blood flowing this cold time of year.  You could walk through the city, through the woods, or around the block.  But wait, why would you go on a normal walk…

Click here for all walk-related directions.

…when you can do the BIDDEFORD ART WALK?  That’s the thing!  11am-8pm tomorrow, Main St. in Biddeford.  Check the link.  We’ll see you there.  Hint:  last craft fair of the season, from 6-8pm I will be WHEELING and DEALING because Momma’s gotta buy some oil!

Day 16 of Giving: Shrimps and Cheese.

For my vegan friends out there, I apologize heartily for leaving you in the cold on this one.  Although I bet there are some similar carob-scarfing, bulgar-munching fantasies that relate to what’s about to follow.  I give to you:  the gift of being a total and utter pig.

Will Gattis knows how to indulge. On two White Russians! Good job, Will.

How did this start?!  My holiday indulgences as a child were gummy fruit slices, sugar cookies and those swirly, shell-shaped hazelnut Guylian chocolates (Grandmaman and Grandpapa would always send TONS.  Hey, it was the 80s, we were living it UP!).

Then, as I grew older and my palate refined, sweets and candies were replaced with the sophisticated medley of fancy olives (with pits), cornichons, roasted red pepper, antipasti etc. etc.  Ohh, how classy, Audrey.

You little devils, you.

In my early 20s I discovered what my friends and family were raging on in previous holiday parties:  cocktail shrimp platters and deviled eggs galore.  Brie, Camembert cheeses with vino verde and bacon wrapped scallops.  A warning to you, this particular grouping is especially dangerous to indulge in if you think there might be a line for the bathroom at any point later in the evening.

Well, congratulations, Audrey, you figured it out:  people love food around the holidays.  And it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself to indulge, layer on the blubber for the coming cold months, and not feel terrible about it.  It’s a survival mechanism people!

Thursday night I found myself decked out in holiday glory at my company’s holiday party literally eating a wedge of brie like a piece of pizza.  Mind you, I wasn’t even aware this had happened until my coworker pointed it out today:  “I’ve never seen anyone eat cheese like Audrey!”  What?  I had a drink in one hand and a tiny little plate in the other.  How else am I supposed to eat it?!  Unless an alien springs from my abdomen (covered in deviled eggs and cornichons) to help me spread it around on a cracker, that’s how I have to eat it!

So, bowels be damned for the next week and a half.  It’s time to indulge!  And that’s probably one of the best gifts we can give ourselves:  a free pass on a 4,000/cal./day diet.

Bowels be damned! Tara eats the cheese cake out of the fondue pot. Note: untouched apple slices next to cheese. Related: Tara is going to kill me.

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.