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 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 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.

December Kick-Off: 25 Ways to Give Without Really Trying

L.L. Bean Nalgene tree a couple years ago...

Call it…a happy holiday ritual.  Or chalk it up to my need to regroup and refocus at the beginning of winter, the end of a year.  However the story goes, Audrey gets really methodical this time of year.  Married with an effort to do a better job of tending to my little blog garden in my personal patch of the interwebs, this month I’ll be bring you 25 Ways to Give Without Really Trying -or- 25 Ways to Show People You Care About (Including Yourself) That You Actually Really Do.

None of this really has anything to do with money (er..until sometimes at the end of the post).  Which is funny, because here is the perfect internet forum for me to generate revenue for myself on top of the day job (which is essentially a warehouse sized closet, which I will have to tell you about later!  It’s terrific).  So while I’m out busting my buns making monies at craft fairs and holiday events I’ve decided to use the internet for good this year…not that I’ve ever used it for evil.  That I can remember.  (Hint:  never Facebook drunk).

So, without much further ado, WAY #1!:

Visit with someone. For me, my friends and family are a diaspora of busy-body workaholics.  As you can imagine, this doesn’t leave a lot of time to visit with each other which, c’mon people, is really what this time of year is all about.  Even if just for the body heat!

Shira is so god damn gorgeous.

It doesn’t matter how close or how far away they are.  Last year, Shira and I were planning on visiting Jet in California.  That woulda been nice.  But the months zoomed by and we all forgot.  Well, I live in Portland and Shira’s in Boston and even THAT has been a struggle.  Seems forgivable?  Leshbomb lives TWO BLOCKS AWAY from me and we haven’t had a visit since our impromptu get-together one night when I ‘had to get out!’ and she ‘had to get a ride!’ home from a night of clinicals at the hospital.  That was…two months ago?  Seriously, what is stopping me from walking up there with a plate full of gluten-free cookies and saying a quick hello?

L to R: Shira, Jet (in frame), Audrey

Think of someone you adore, close, far, or really far away.  If they’re tooooo far away why not try a phone call just to check in and see how their life is going?

In business news today (because obviously I can’t go without) I was featured in this bone-chilling but completely beautiful treasury on Etsy:

“Bare Branches” pin, $3.