Today is #GIVINGTUESDAY! Give AND buy pretty things to help my mom finish kicking cancer’s butt!

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This has been an intense few months…not just because of Halloween!  My mother, Iris, had a recent surprise bout (and defeat!!) of  a wicked rare form of cancer this year. She’s had some health stuff pile up as a result of her surgery, and the bills are..impressive. Here’s a pretty way to shop for $WINTERHOLIDAY presents and generate donations for her!

Some of you may have seen Bravelets – bracelets and necklaces in varied styles that bear the slogan “be brave.” Money raised from these sales goes to varied fundraising efforts…and this one is very important to me.

Bracelets purchased on this page will generate donations to my mother to help her with her medical bills …even with Medicare, that stuff is *expensive*.

Today, all purchases on the Bravelets page will generate ***$20*** in donations, not just $10! So if you’re looking for a shiny present as a $WINTERHOLIDAY gift, please consider clicking and shopping here. That would be awesome of you.

THANK YOU!!!! (And yes, please consider boosting the signal!) ‪#‎GIVINGTUESDAY‬

https://www.bravelets.com/b…/help-iris-kick-her-cancer-bills

$WINTERHOLIDAY shopping? Here’s some awesome stuff you should buy!

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We temporarily interrupt your ALL HALLOWEEN ALL THE TIME postings to bring the following to your attention..

I’m a big, big believer in shopping locally and in supporting artists by buying their work directly.  And so, la!  My annual Buy This Stuff post!  🙂  Pleeeease be sure to click on all the links below if you want to learn more about these artisans!

BOOKS

    • Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway) by Jason Michael – A charming tale told by a cat about what it’s like to be adopted into a new family.  Proceeds of this story of a special sort of blended family are being donated to two animal charities in Virginia.  This would be a lovely bedtime story book.
    • True Haiku for You:  A Daily Dose of Spiritual Growth by Jason Michael – A book for the adults!  “Begun as therapy writing in 2001 after the death of his father, and inspired by watching Dr. Wayne Dyer’s PBS special, There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, Jason’s “Haiku Project” has amassed some 4400 haiku to date and there’s no end in sight. True Haiku for You is a collection of 366 haiku primarily on inspirational, motivational and spiritual themes designed to be a daily reminder of our self-worth, of our need to persevere, and of our innate ability to overcome any crisis. Meant to be read one haiku per day True Haiku for You strives to be a reminder that God is all around us, without and within.”  (I also love this book.)
    • Acting Out Yoga books by Danielle Palli – If you’re looking for new ways to get your youngsters moving around and trying new things, you should really consider buying one (or both!) of these two books.  Harvir in the Amazon follows the adventures of Harvir the ferret in the Amazon rainforest; Anna in Paris recounts the journey of another ferret, Fondue, and his wanderings through Paris.  Both ferrets make use of yoga poses throughout their travels, and kids are encouraged to try out these poses as well!  The Acting Out Yoga series is an innovative introduction to yoga for both the storyteller and the story listener!  An additional bonus is that portions of the purchase price are also donated to children’s charities – Harvir proceeds go to a nonprofit organization that provides much-needed school supplies and medical care to young children in the Amazon Jungle, and Anna purchases support the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County!

JEWELRY

    • Belethil – Home of the best dang elf ear jewelry you’ll find.  Alanya makes absolutely gorgeous stuff and her stock fluctuates often..there’s not a lot posted in her Etsy store right now, but watch that space, folks.  And if you want something custom made, you’d best contact her ASAP..demand for her work is pretty heavy!

ART STUFF

    • Celtic Art Store – I discovered this artisan at a local Ren faire last year.  I was feeling completey overwhelmed by the crowd and the day, and when Erin invited me into her booth to trace a knotwork pattern with a small instrument, I had ZERO interest in complying.  That said…wow, did it help my brain calm down and focus.  A lot.  It’s like walking a labyrinth for those of us that have no time and no access to a labyrinth.  🙂  These bits of magic are called Mandalynths, and they’re truly great for helping with stress, anxiety, autism, ADHD and PTSD.  (Click on the type of pattern to see which version is recommended for what ails ya.)  You’ll also find a new-but-growing line of glass dome jewelry in this brand spanking new web store!
    • Ego Likeness – You’ve rocked out to their music …now bring them into your home.  The majority of their art is done on old book covers and combines varied mediums into some truly interesting images.  If you’ve seen the band in person, this is the art they’re selling at their merch table.  I’m not going to link to their art because there’s too dang much to choose from. Just go to their store and start looking.  (Sometimes there’s jewelry available as well.  There isn’t right now, but if you like stuff that incorporates animal skulls, you should keep an eye on this space.

OTHER AWESOME STUFF

    • Shadow Elements – Mary creates some of the best cat beds out there.  She uses organic buckwheat, and you can purchase varied covers to fit your and your kitty’s needs.  Pair it up with a soothing travel dream pillow and case for your own snoozing needs!  (The pillows are not currently listed, but let her know you’re interested and she’ll hook you up!)  Mary also creates lovely stained glass pieces and an assortment of tote bags for your gifting needs!

There is NO way I can list every awesome person I know that creates fantastic things.  😦  But this is a good start!  🙂

Hope the start of your $WINTERHOLIDAY season treats you gently! ❤

…Oh, Christmas Tree.

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“I think it would be nice to totally redo the Christmas tree,” my husband mentioned as we drove back from one of his family’s many holiday gatherings.  “I’d like it to have ornaments that are new, and that are just about us.”

It was sweet.

And I kinda wanted to scream.

Since the crumbling of my first marriage, and the lack of space for a full sized tree in my varied living situations, I’d been buying ornaments for my FutureTree.  Some women have a hope chest.  Some women dream of the names of their children-to-come.  Me?  I had two bins of autumnal décor that I was hoping very much to finally open and share with Dustin, my soul mate, the love of my life…and he had just voiced a desire for something that had nothing to do with my FutureTree dream.

So I did what any rational adult would do in this situation.

…I waited for him to go to work, and I set up his gloriously huge Christmas tree all by myself.

The job of tree set-up has generally fallen to me for most of my adult life, but I’d forgotten how heavy a non-tabletop-tree can be.  I ended up pushing its storage bin up the basement stairs with one hand while clinging to the railing with the other to prevent both me and the bin from falling backwards, sorted the branches by their colour stickers, and …realized I had no idea how to get the lights on the trunk of the tree to light up.

After an hour of fighting with lights, I chose to just light the layers of branches.  One of our household cats leapt into the middle of the tree to supervise from within as I returned to the basement to retrieve my FutureTree ornaments.

People talk about their holiday traditions – visits with family, singing carols to strangers – but this solitary act of decorating a tree?  This is my tradition.  Invariably, the other people in my life don’t have time, don’t want to be bothered, and so, generally speaking, I’d find myself alone in a room, setting up a     not-quite-adult tree and adorning it with bits of my childhood.  Wooden ornaments my mother painted 40 years ago, left behind in the divorce, and that my father tried to throw away…skeletons and bats, gifts from friends…a cornhusk doll given to me when my first poem was published…they all made their memory-filled ways to the branches of my small tree, to be taken down..oh, eventually.  “If I’m putting it up? I get to decide when it comes down,” I announced one year when questioned about why there was still a Christmas tree in the living room in March.

I looked at FutureTreeNoMore, at the glorious size of it.

I pulled out the first box of ornaments.  The sales tag on it was from 2007.  The next one read 2008, and so on.  Boxes of grandiose hooks I’d almost forgotten buying, bearing glass beads and composed of silver swoops of wire, connected the black and orange spheres to the tree’s branches.

And I cried.

I thought about the frantically lonely child in her room, mourning her parents’ divorce and clinging to the past by putting those wooden ornaments on a tiny trash picked tree that she’d set up in her bedroom.  I thought about the years when I didn’t bother with a tree at all because I was renting a room in a friend’s house and isn’t Christmas about people more than it is about a fake bit of woodland, anyway?

I thought about my coworkers back in Pittsburgh and how we had successfully orchestrated putting up a non-sanctioned Christmas tree outside our office last year, about how much joy there had been in that bit of ninja decorating.

I looked at FutureTreeNoLonger, and all of these tiny glass promises I’d been making to myself for so many years.

I sniffled and hung another glass piece of candy corn on the tree.  Looked at the clock.  Realized I was out of time.

By the time Dustin walked through the door, all of the boxes and bins had been put away.   I took him by the hand and guided him into the living room, ready to apologize for what I’d done.

A smile lit up his face.  “I had no idea you could even lift that thing up the stairs!  It’s lovely!  I love it.”

“You really don’t mind?”

“Honey!  No!  I wanted to do it, I just…it’s a lot of work.  How long did that take you?  It usually takes me most of the day.”

I let that thought sink in, the realization that he was saying his tradition was also to do this alone.

“95% of the things you see have never been used before,” I told him. “It’s almost like buying new…”

“Perfect!  That’s perfect.  Thank you.”

I hugged him again…and tried to be gracious when he ducked under the tree and figured out how to get the trunk lights to work in less than thirty seconds.

As we’ve been moving through our first December together as a married couple, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I don’t have a lot of happy holiday memories, or examples of, “This is how my family celebrated the season.”  In 2013, I had some powerful ‘a-HA!’ moments of understanding more of the ways my fractured childhood created my fractured adult self, and how much I need to unlearn old coping skills because they don’t help me anymore.  I spent so many holidays feeling alone, unconnected to the people around me, setting up private Christmas trees, wishing I knew how to do it better.

I think I’m finally figuring out how to do that.  And it definitely means sharing the tree duties next year.

Happy holidays, y’all.

cool stuff you should buy for someone for the holidays

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So this post is wicked late.  I usually do this for Cyber Monday sale pushing.  Alas!  However, if you’ve ever had reason to buy shinies for a loved one, you should know about the following folk, because every single one of them is awesome and creates lovely items.

* Natural Charm – jewelry
Julie takes things like flowers, clay, maps, candy, herbs, and such, and creates beautiful wearable bits of art with them.  Her first few creations were inspired by a desire to preserve flowers by turning them into handmade beads, and (because I am wicked hard on my jewelry) I can tell you that her work holds up superbly to daily wear.  Peruse her Etsy store, or ping her about doing custom work…you will LOVE her work.  (She also has a discount code on her Etsy store RIGHT NOW, so you should go take advantage of that.)
White Rose Petal Rosary     New York Heart Map Pendant   Paprika Pendant

* Capsulariums by Laurel
Should your taste run to the more elegantly macabre, allow me to direct you to peruse through Laurel’s “capsulariums.”  She uses the bones of mice and other small critters to create truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of art.  The detail is stunning.
Graveyard Visitor II     Devil Stag     Vertebrae Earrings

* Belethil  
Alanya is one of those artists that’s been truly amazing to watch over the past few years.  Her Etsy store is currently filled with higher-end items; you’ll see that she has a custom option, but that may need to wait until after the holidays.  Waiting is, however, very very worth it.  And if you’re looking for elf ears, you truly can’t do any better than to buy a set from Alanya.
Larimar and pearl bun cage     Hypoallergenic niobium maple ears     14k gold necklace with opal and diamond

* Elemental Sage
I
f your taste runs more to crystals, beads, stretch bracelets, and earrings, allow me to direct you towards Lori’s shop.  I’ve the good luck to own several of Lori’s pieces, and she will absolutely spoil you as far as the quality of her creations.  One purchase from her and you’ll be back.  Because you can’t do any better.  🙂
Tree of Life: Sunstone     Twilight Goddess: Moon Goddess earrings with genuine Amethyst beads     Chakra Eternity: Stretchy Bracelet in Rainbow glass and silver beads

* AF Metalsmith
.
..Last jewelry link, I promise!  But!  If you have a love of Celtic knotwork, you don’t want to miss Amanda’s work.  (Yes, she does other things, but I’ve always been pretty fixated on the knotwork critters!)  She also has a lovely selection of rings, bracelets, and ‘wingnut’ jewelry that makes her work both beautiful and memorable.  You’ll find that several of her pieces may be purchased in varied metals, and some of the pendants can be customized so that your favourite critter is at the top of the circle.  🙂
Three Dragons- a Pendant with Celtic influences     Wingnut- a Playful Pendant     The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars- a stackable Trinket Ring set    Bronze St Brigid's Cross Pendant- cast

* Shadow Elements
Mary’s creations run from buckwheat pet beds (which I highly recommend) to gorgeous stained glass stars and lamps to tote bags.  I love her work, and I think you will, too.
Organic Buckwheat Hull Pet Bed - large (Read my POLICIES BEFORE BUYING)     Design Your Own Moon Phase Lamp     Yew Cyanotype Jacket

* Sidhefire Arts
Should your shopping tastes run to the clay side of the force, you would do well to peruse Sherry’s virtual store.  Her work incorporates classic historical shapes as well as modern themes popular amongst geeks and pirates…and I would be very happy indeed to someday have a kitchen filled with her plates, bowls, and mugs. 🙂
Handmade stoneware pottery Release The Kraken purple cup     Handmade pottery amphora (Greek inspired)     Celtic knotwork raku handmade ceramic vase

* That Harp Guy
Sometimes you meet someone that completely, utterly blows you away with the gorgeousness of her or his talent.  Gaffer is one of those people.  He touches his harp strings, opens his mouth, and he takes your breath away.  I cannot recommend highly enough his music as a gift for yourself, your loved ones, your friends…he’s just amazing.

* SJ Tucker
You might say I’ve saved the best for last.  Feel free..I won’t stop you. 🙂
SJ Tucker, ‘s00j’ to many, pirate captain to many more, is a vocal treasure.  Her music ranges from book soundtrack to pagan to folksy to laughter, and I’m truly not sure where to best direct you to shop first.  So go visit her music page here – http://music.sjtucker.com/indexpage – and take some time to get acquainted.  Fans of Cat Valente’s books may recognize a title here or there.  Bandcamp is awesome in that you can buy just a few tracks at a time, so go ye and create a mixtape of your very own, filled with s00jy goodness..or go back to the main page and buy a real-world CD.

waiting for Santa

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When I was a kidlet,  the animated films of Rudolph and Frosty were mandatory viewing in school.

I feel thoroughly cheated that I only discovered the Addams Family Christmas episode last year…!

Happy holidays – whichever you celebrate – and may there be much mistletoe smooching and gothmas goodness for you and yours!