Stepping Away From The Merriment for a Moment

Okay guys, I need to let you know about something that is going on with me right now. Two weeks ago, my mom and I drove down to Lake Wales to spend some time where we lived for so long. We got into town Wednesday afternoon, had an incredible afternoon tea, and then I started calling/texting my dad because we were supposed to be meeting for dinner. After not hearing back from him, I started to get annoyed, but frankly it wasn’t completely unexpected. My dad answers the phone when he is ready to answer the phone, and so to kill time, my mom and I headed out to do some Christmas shopping. All of a sudden my phone starts blowing up from my uncle and my aunt. It turns out there was a very good reason he wasn’t answering the phone. He was dead. Yeah, you read that right. I full on ugly cried right in the middle of TJ Maxx and made a panicked call to Andy; my mom got me out to the car and I managed to get it together to start making phone calls and piecing together what happened.

My dad has been battling a cold for a couple of months now. Turns out it was more than a cold, my uncle had taken him to hospital a couple of weeks ago where they’d given him fluids and meds. Then on Frida,y he’d been very sick at work, needing to sit and rest every half hour or so. Monday he called his boss to say he needed to go to the dentist to get a replacement for his dentures and that was the last anyone heard from him. After a day and a half of no call/no show, his coworkers started calling around to his usual haunts (since he had no “in case of emergency” contact) and realized no one had seen him. Finally the police were called and they went to his house. As far as we can tel,l he passed in his sleep sometime Monday afternoon/evening.

I am so angry right now. Angry at him for not taking care of himself. Angry at myself for not being a bigger pain in the ass about keeping in touch. Angry at the universe in general because he was only 64 and there is no way he should have been gone this soon. Saturday I met his friends at his favorite bar, and we had a last round in his honor. It was incredible connecting with these people I knew only from vague occasional reference. My dad kept everything so compartmentalized that I only was privy to a sliver of what his day to day world was like. I hugged the members of this second family, and I thanked them from the bottom of my heart for taking care of him when I couldn’t be there. He was so loved, and he was so much more complex than I knew. I hate that I didn’t push harder for a closer relationship, that I let myself be content with our couple times a month phone calls and semi-annual get together. As I sit here typing this, his ashes rest on my mantle, and his beloved cat is curled up on my couch. There is never a good time for something like this, but around the holidays is especially hard because this is when we would have been spending time together. So when I post gift guides and holiday fun, it’s because I am desperately in need of a way to step away from this for a bit. I hope you guys will indulge me and follow along, and I’ll do my best to be honest and open with you guys on this journey.

Guest Post with Julie Morris: What to Put on Your Wishlist for Positive Life Changes

Want to Make Some Positive Life Changes? Here’s What to Put on Your Wish List

Sometimes, all we need to make a positive life change is a little push – or maybe some material motivation. As the holidays roll around and you’re creating your wish list for friends and family, you may want to consider how the gifts you receive can spur you into making some life improvements. Here’s what to wish for if you want to focus on self-betterment this holiday season.

If you want to stop eating junk

Is it boring to structure your holiday wish list around eating healthier? Maybe a little bit. But the dramatic improvement in your mind and body you’ll experience when you begin to focus on a healthy diet is anything but. Think about adding a subscription to a food delivery service to your wish list. Blue Apron is a popular choice, as are Plated and HelloFresh. These companies deliver pre-portioned, fresh ingredients to your door with easy-to-follow recipes. It’s the easiest way to cook from home. Not only will you be able to forgo the fast food, but you’ll also save a lot of time that would be spent scouring the internet for healthy recipes and shopping at the grocery. Here’s a solid guide to all the meal kit companies out there.

If you want to work some mindfulness into your life

We could all stand to be a little more mindful – or put another way, live in the present. We spend so much time stressed out and worried about the past and future, we often forget to take time to relax in the now. If you want to be a mindful person, you can wish list some things to help.

Try asking for some adult coloring books (or kids’, for that matter). Coloring is a stress-reducing hobby that lets you disconnect from technology and focus on yourself – if just for a little while. Here are some more mindfulness benefits of coloring.

You can also wish for some books to help you get on a mindful path. Make Peace with Your Mind, The Power of Off, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are some perennial favorites (here are some more). Really, making your home life more comfortable in general is one great way to de-stress. Check here for some items that will make being at home more fun.

If you want to get more organized

Being organized is one of those things that can positively impact many other areas of your life. It all starts with having your stuff together. Your wish list should include closet hangers and organizational cubes, maybe one of these nice Moleskine planners, and even a tracking tag that you can put on commonly-misplaced items for easy location (it works with Bluetooth!). Check here for more great organizational ideas.

If you want to save a little bit of money here and there

It’s not on a gift-giver to help you with your overall finances. That’s a year-round task for you and you alone. But they can give you the gift of incremental, but still worthwhile, savings. Think about ways to save money throughout the year – LED lighting options for your home, rechargeable batteries and battery docks, and long-lasting beeswax candles come to mind. Here are some more ideas.

Gone are the days where you just hope and pray that someone gets you something that you may like during the holidays. Be smart about your wish list. Don’t just pick whimsical items because they are free (to you at least). Make that wish list count, and fill it with items and services that can help you reach your self-improvement goals.


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For The Girl Who Loves To Bake

I started baking as a way to cope with stress a few years back. It’s creative, it’s involved, and the finished results can be used to brighten someone else’s day. You know, providing everything works out and the end results are edible. All bakers have an off day or two. When giving baking inspired gifts, I like to follow one of two tracks. The first, I gift better versions of items I know the person already uses and loves. The second is find something that will make their bakes of choice easier – fun gadgets and the like.

  1. Silicone Pie Crust ShieldWilliam Sonoma
  2. Jubilee Loaf PanWilliam Sonoma
  3. Marble & Glass Cake ClocheTerrain
  4. Garden Measuring MugTerrain
  5. Petalpress Rolling PinAnthropologie
  6. Gilded Botany ApronAnthropologie
  7. The Hot That Count Oven MitMod Cloth
  8. KitchenAid MixerAmazon
  9. Harvest BakewareWalmart

If you’re still feeling confounded by the prospect of shopping for your baker, remember there are plenty of stores that have kitchen sections. A quirky oven mitt and a gift card are always the right size 😉

For The Girl Who Loves Boho Chic

This gift guide is dedicated to the girl who loves to stand at the edge of the sea while the sun sets and the wind blows her hair back. Who has a travel list a mile long. Who spends as much time barefoot as she possibly can. Or… for the girl who just wants to look like she enjoys those things 😉 The bohemian aesthetic has always been one I felt incredibly drawn to. It’s a modern way to feel like a princess from a fairytale in a far away exotic land. Plus, there is the environmental element that has infused itself into a lot more of the “hippy-ish” products. Finding an incredible beauty product is great; finding one that is also cruelty free and good for the environment? Even better. Here are a few boho inspired products that made my little heart go pitter patter.

  1. Among the Flowers Bath KitUrban Outfitters
  2. Fantasy EyelinerLush
  3. Leather Gold Foil Journal Sugarboo & Co
  4. Kalini Antique Brass SconceWorld Market
  5. Tiny Dancer StudsCatbird
  6. Frida Kahlo Flower CrownBloom Design Studio
  7. Beaded Boater Hat – Anthropologie
  8. Blue Diamond Slash Opal CuffFree People
  9. Herbivore Jasmine Green Tea TonicSephora

If nothing here catches your fancy, I highly recommend checking out Etsy. There are tons of incredible artisan gifts, and it’s always nice to support small businesses this time of year.

For The Girl Who Loves Cats

I’m a cat lover, and I’m friends with a lot of other cat lovers, and do you know what we enjoy getting? Cat stuff. Shocking, I know, but we really do. I can’t tell you have many people have given me ironic feline themed gifts hoping to illicit some sort of eye roll, but you know what? That stuff just makes me happy. T-shirts, pins, coffee mugs, stickers… bring. it. on.


  1. The Future Is FelineModcloth
  2. Day & Night Hugging Cat PinGlitter Punk Jewelry
  3. Fat Cat StatuePhenomeGnome
  4. Cat ToteUncommon Goods
  5. Cat’s Meow Stationary SetThink Geek
  6. Cat Salt & Pepper GrinderHot Topic
  7. Straw Cat Ear BowlerAmazon
  8. Shop Cats BookAnthropologie 

Now that being an unabashed fan of felines is downright trendy, there are hundreds of great gift ideas out there. If this list didn’t have anything that caught your fancy, just search “cat” on almost any website and you’ll likely to find something just right.