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December Goals

Image of Cat looking at Christmas tree

Last year’s tree. Last year’s #HarperLeeCat.

Oh wow. I skipped November! I mean, I kind of wish we’d all actually skipped November. It was a pretty brutal month. The election and its aftermath really did me in for a bit, and I also gave three conference talks, was interviewed on a local podcast, and organized an unconference from the first weekend of November ’til the first weekend of December. All that’s winding down now, and I’m planning to settle in, get some work done, and enjoy my first Christmas in my little house in my little city.

Here’s a look back at October.

1. Get a bedframe, settle on a mattress, and hang art in the bedroom. Done! Finally! There was more to this bedroom saga that happened throughout October and November, but we have a bedframe, we’re keeping the Helix mattress (with a complimentary topper they sent!), and there is art on the walls. I’d like to get some real window treatments up ASAP.

2. Do an outfit post here! Um, no. I did take outfit photos one day this fall. Just need to edit and post them. I love taking photos, but I have such an aversion to editing, organizing, etc. Anyone else have this issue? Any tips to get over it?

3. Finish my first go at rebuilding this site from scratch. Yes! It’s launched! You’re looking at it! I still need to tweak some styles, but I’m glad to have it out there. I integrated my portfolio and this blog onto one site, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure it’s the best route. But, the beauty of the web (and being a developer), is that it can change and I can change it whenever I want. It’s taken far longer than I thought it would to launch this, but I’m really glad I gave myself the time and space to build this theme from scratch and try a few different approaches before settling. More on this to come.

4. Take some photos of the house and start sharing the process. Nope. Perhaps this month. Or in the new year.

5. Feel relaxed and at home in my space and life. This is a hard one to measure but I’m gonna call it done, but it’s something that I need to continue in the coming months as I’m still dealing with some things that result in pretty low energy levels and unpredictable doctor appointments, on top of the waning northeastern light this time of year that makes it so appealing to stay home in the evenings. So, I’m trying to renew this focus on creating a space — both physical and mental — that feels cozy and nourishing and productive and creative.

Onto December! I’m honestly really hoping to take it pretty easy this month, recover from this busy fall, and enjoy my life. Also, it’s my last month as a 29 year old. Thankfully, we were able to snag flights to Iceland with credit card points, so I’ll also spend December looking forward to turning 30 in Reykjavik. I’m also considering throwing myself a birthday party, but planning parties makes me anxious and we haven’t been here long enough to forge super close friendships yet. Maybe I’ll invite a mix of friends and acquaintances and see what happens. Maybe.

1. Decorate for Christmas! Due to every single weekend being full this season, we haven’t been able to get a tree! I’m excited to check out a local tree farm. I’d love to get a Noble Fir this year, but I’m not sure if they’re available anywhere around Lancaster.

2. Plan time for reflection and planning. For me, this looks like going through Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year workbook every year around this time. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re looking for some guidance around reflecting and planning.

3. Take some photos of the house and start sharing the process. We did so many house projects this year, mostly painting related, and it’s starting to look good. It’s not perfect, and I’ve mentioned before that it’s hard for me to share things until I think they’re perfect, which of course never happens and then I never share. Really gonna try to combat that.

4. Finish painting my office and put it back together. We cleared out the room I use as an office weeks ago and only started painting it yesterday. It’s a small room so this shouldn’t take long. I’m giving myself a chalkboard wall to track some work stuff a la Kathleen Shannon. Also, it’ll be big enough to mess around with chalk lettering.

5. Feel relaxed and at home in my space and life. For the same reasons listed in October: I have some major things coming up that I’ll hopefully be able to share about down the road, but for now I need to focus on taking care of myself and feeling like I’m set up well for dealing with them. Specific things that will help: A tidy space, minimizing stressful social situations, keeping the kitchen stocked, books to read, exercising regularly, and a creative endeavor, such as journaling, practicing brush lettering, or taking photos.

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Reality Christmas

Reality ChristmasWhen the house is a mess. When you’ve lost a loved one. When you’re acknowledging the anniversary of losing someone. When you and your partner are not feeling (or acting) peaceful towards one another. When work is annoying, or you have to work more than you’d like during the holidays. When there’s not enough work and you’re wondering how you’ll afford life. When the news is just overwhelmingly awful. When there’s never enough time. When it feels like your family just doesn’t understand you and probably never will. When you’re far away and won’t be able to make it home to family and friends. When it feels like you’re always waiting, but you’re not quite sure for what. When you know everything is objectively fine, but still struggle with feeling like the world’s falling apart.

All plenty difficult at whatever time of year, but particularly rough now — right before Christmas when it feels like the world is celebrating, happy, and rushing around all around you.

So this is for you. If it’s been a particularly rough year, or if you’re doing fine, but you’re just not feeling it this year. 

Over the Rhine‘s got you. I’ve been listening to their newest album, Blood Oranges in the Snow, since it came out at the beginning of November. In interviews and their show at Underground Arts in Philly, they described it “reality Christmas” music. It’s the internal monologue we have during the holidays that we can’t or don’t articulate. It’s the hard but hopeful stuff.

It’s the messy but inviting house, the burned cookies. It’s the small town gossip who knows everything about you. It’s the poverty-stricken next-door neighbor who can’t afford food, but offers you a french fry when he has them and asks if he can help you when your power goes out. It’s the squalling baby, born under the watchful eyes of livestock in a barn. It’s reality Christmas.

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Have a Peace-Filled Christmas

Listen to what I say: Pray for peace, people everywhere.

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas Day filled with joy & wonder & a clear impression of just how much you are lovedAlso, pie. I wish you pie.

Between hanging out with my family on the farm, reflecting on the beauty & significance of this season, and reading a mountain of books, I’ll be working on redesigning this site, as well as working on launching a new one for my web development portfolio. Exciting things in store! How are you spending your Christmas break?

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Weekend Pairing: DIY Holiday Edition


I had seen this gold leaf pinecone garland weeks ago & decided I needed to make one. Except I skipped the whole gold-leaf process & took a pile of pinecones out back and spray painted them. There. The lazy girl’s guide to DIY Christmas cheer! What’s that? Oh, you’re right. Lazy girls don’t spray paint pinecones at all! Ok then, it’s the DIY Christmas cheer hacker that does that.

After they dried, I screwed in the hooks & tied them to twine. Ta-da! I ended up with three garlands and a ton of extra pine cones, so I picked out the prettiest ones and put them in a vintage milk glass dish I snagged at my favorite thrift store when I was back home over Thanksgiving.

pinecone garland

To be honest, I kind of cheated on the wreath. These flowers are from a friend’s wedding last year. She encouraged us to take as many as we wanted. I’d been wanting a fun way to use them since then & a simple wreath seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I picked up a straw wreath at Joann Fabrics, curled up on the couch with Love Actually, wound twine all around the wreath, and tied on my friend’s wedding flowers. Done!

If you feel so inclined to try any of these, let me know how it goes! I’d love to see what you do with them!

twine wreath

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December Goals & 30 Days of Lists

December Leaves


I’m sponsoring this round of 30 Days of Lists! It’s an easy way for people to document their lives in a super simple way — just making lists. There’s a list prompt for every day, and your lists and/or documenting tools (art journal, pen and paper, blog, whatever) can be as simple or as elaborate as you please. If you want to join in, it’s not too late to sign up!

Yesterday’s prompt was “Before the End of the Year.” Makes sense to make a list of December goals.

  • Reach inbox 0.
  • Decorate our apartment.
  • Plan 2014 with Susannah Conway’s Unraveling the Year Ahead. We did this for the first time last year, and it was really helpful.
  • Go to South Philly to look at the Christmas lights.
  • Spend time in the Lodge at the Waterfront Winterfest.
  • Return to regular yoga practice and/or join a gym so I can run indoors.
  • Spend more time at Indy Hall.
  • Get my ish together for Alt Summit, which is coming right up. This includes launching something, building a Rails app, and finalizing business card designs.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, especially with the Alt and work projects in addition to normal client work, but my list isn’t without plenty of low-stress holiday cheer and reflection. Here’s to finishing strong.