NEED. WANT. CRAVE.

I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It must be my nesting instincts or some such thing, the Solstice-y need to put more light into these dark days? But I am all about cozifying (what? It’s a real thing. Only legit stuff here) and this list, well, just you try to not feel all warm and fuzzy.

1. Hot Chocolate. ALL OF IT. The switch has been flipped and it’s all I want in the world. Moonstruck is close and is the good shit.

courtesy; Moonstruck

courtesy; Moonstruck

2. The Curly Girl Book. This is a revelation for me. I asked my friend about her amazing curly hair, she demurred, and then she came clean and loaned me this book. Honestly, I never thought of myself as the kind of person who would sit down to read a book of this nature (I did not watch the DVD, though so I still have that), it seemed like a lot of steps, maintenance. It’s really not, though. It’s what my hair has always wanted…

curly girl

3. A Very She & Him Christmas. Yep, here I am, that person. I don’t care, this album is catchy and it’s our new, Contemporary favorite. Just try to get these song out of your head. Hubbs and I love M. Ward on his own and now he is with us all year long.

A_Very_She_and_Him_Christmas

4. The Wonder Years! This is firmly planted in the “WANT” category. So, you know all of that music that totally made this show? Acquiring all of those licenses is what has kept the series from being released for purchase for all of these years. Now that it is out there in the world, I can’t afford it. Story of my life. But it will be mine, OH YES. It will be mine.

WY_Complete_Series_Shot_290x390

5. Bed linens. I don’t do Black Friday. I value my face too much and also my sleep. But, coward that I am, I am all about Cyber Monday and if I am shopping for any of the myriad of things in my life that I should really be buying on sale, bed linens is it. Our bed is awesome however, it is very thick. I cannot just go to Ross or TJ Maxx and find some cheap sheets. This beast of a thing requires deep pocket sheets and those are neither easy to find, nor are they cheap. But on Cyber Monday, I can buy two sets. Also pillows at Macy’s because fo’ reals, ya’ll, we need to be cycling out our pillows way more often than we (the Royal “we”) originally thought. I got this little diddy for $30.

P.S. For the record, if you own the Tempur Pedic Cloud Luxe in the queen size, It’s 13″. This information is not easy to come by, so I thought I would put it out there if by chance it helps one of you.

P.P.S. If you don’t own one, maybe you should? Soft enough for Hubbs, firm enough for me, it’s perfect for both of us.

6. Fraiser Fur candles.But also, these soy Roland Pine candles. I have had mine for two years and they are impressively fragrant, even when not lit. They are a luxury expense, but when you want the pine smell inside and the tree is no longer putting out, these candles are the way to go. Though next time, I think I may try one with a wood wick, have you heard of these? The wood wick simulates a fire, how cool is that?frasier fur candle

TAKING CARE OF YOU

heart

Courtesy; Fancypants

This sounds like common sense, I know but we can all use the reminder. My Need. Want. Crave. posts are my own attempt to slow down and ask myself on a regular basis what I am really needing on a very regular basis and hopefully it inspires you to do the same, even if you aren’t needing or wanting ice cream in your coffee (who DOES that?) or crazy (awesome) house slippers.

Not that we judge those who do, thankyouverymuch.

So I noticed in the crazy busy flurry of last week; family, holiday and holiday-related events, that I was not pushing as hard as I normally do and that as a result, the things I chose to do were mindful, thought out and well enjoyed.

A while ago, we talked about How Many “Tabs” we are keeping open at any given time in our minds and how a little planning helps us focus on what we need to and keeps away all of those distracting, downer feelings of being overwhelmed.

Having a plan, even a loose one, for the big things in life and the small, does wonders for empowering yourself and combating stress.

I thought ahead about how much time I have, my level of commitment and level of fussiness (check out my Potluck Finest post for tips!) that I was willing to put into cooking and event planning and I came up with a plan. Friends, darlings, I am so happy to report that it helped me SO MUCH not to cry or lash out at those I love. In fact, for one family event, I won the cocktail contest AND I went in with 5 pounds of pulled pork and left with none. It was a “Tapas Party” (because it’s now a cocktail potluck.) At lunchtime. Every year. Tapas are fabulous, but I promise you; a cheese and charcuterie plate at lunchtime, mixed with vast amounts of wine, only makes my family hangry and after last year, Hubbs refused to come again unless there was “real food.” I cannot tell you how happy it made everyone for there to be real food there. There was dancing. You know the kind.

I planned effortless dishes and drinks that required next to no supervision. As a result, I was able to relax.

I did karaoke.

And that is all I have to say about that.

There is NO WAY on Earth that we can stop the barrage of life from coming at us all at once, but loves, comrades, brothers and sisters, we can plan. Let’s all try! We can have our ducks in a row, we can estimate what is coming at us and we can be that asshole brown-noser from school.

We can brown nose life.

It will not stop all stress or prevent us from being blind sided from time to time, but it will help us to enjoy the present. It will help us to free up time and since Winter is the time to be really gentle with ourselves, we will need that time to focus on ourselves.

Here are my usual “be gentle to myself” suspects:

Dog walks. Every day that I can, no matter the weather. The outdoors and the social interaction are the best ever for clearing the mind. Honestly, if you ever want to practice your networking skills, the dog park is THE place to start.

Acupuncture. Sure, I still tense up when she goes to poke that thin skinned place behind the knee, but I leave feeling great. Those 20 minutes when I am laying there like a pincushion are so refreshing. Not even kidding.

Writing. For you beautiful people and for myself.

Running. Currently trying to fit more of that in my life.

-Finding ways to spend time on my appearance. I would file this under “pride of ownership” and not selfishness. It makes a person feel a bit more confident when you are actively doing things for yourself. I thought it was ridiculous when a friend loaned me a book about maintaining my curls (whole books have been written about this! With chapters!) but you know something? It works. One less thing I have to worry about and it makes me feel pretty.

-A sleep ritual: About an hour before I go to bed, I make myself some tea. I wash my face and brush my teeth, I get comfortable. No electronics in bed, I call up the doggie and I may find something soothing on tv. If there’s nothing on, I may listen to the radio, reading is the magic bullet, though. I read until my eyes close on their own.

Most importantly, if you need this quality time for yourself, don’t make other plans. Tell everyone that you are busy, it’s not always easy but your life will improve as a result.

How do you get life under control?

NEED. WANT. CRAVE. THE HAPPY/ S.A.D. EDITION

When the excitement of Fall begins to give way to the business of prepping for the Holidays and the dark, dank months of Winter ahead, anyone that has lived in the Pacific Northwest for more than one of the notorious cold seasons knows to begin preparing for combat.

The enemy is silent. Perhaps the most devious enemy of all; Our own brains!!

You may know that it rains a bit here, but what you may not know is that because of all the clouds and greyness, Vitamin D deficiency is a real thing here which means that Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D.) is real, too.

Most people I know feel it somewhere on the lower end of the sliding scale that goes from laziness all the way up to thoughts of suicide.

I know, right? You can blame your laziness on the rain! Everybody does it… I actually blame everything on the rain because it lasts until July 5th. You know, long enough to have us all wearing jackets on the 4th and then the next day, BAM! Sunny gorgeousness! We have a love/ hate relationship with weather. We’re kinda famous for it. We are willing to put up with so. Very. Much. In return for our legendary summers.

Sigh.

So anyhoo, I would like to first offer my combat strategy for the ninja attack that S.A.D. can be:

  • Exercise. Since I have lived in Oregon, I have had to get serious about exercise because it is numero uno in my line of defense.
  • Go Outside. Exercise is very helpful with this.
  • Take your vitamins. I do Vit. D and Iron (as prescribed by my Doc), but find Vit. B complex and fish oil helpful, too.
  • Happy light. You are hilariously naïve if you think that you are going to get all the light you need naturally in these months. In fact, I giggle at you…But really, try it for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • This is self-care season. If there is any better way to combat the forces of depression, it’s focusing on yourself. I love a mid-winter steam and massage. Literally feel your bones warm up. Take care of yourself.
  • Creature comforts. Eating well, tea, cozy winter slippers, warm and festive gatherings with friends and family, a fire, a steam (I can really not recommend that enough), a glorious, glorious pampering foot spa, whatever. Spoil yourself. Now is the time and like the Wu-Tang Clan, your mental health ain’t nothin’ to f*ck wit.

So now for those creature comforts. For happiness this week, I need:

1. THIS AMERICAN LIFE. I do data entry for a living and if I don’t have music or Ira Glass, I will loose it all over this cube.  This_american_life

2. SURFER SALVE. It’s amazing, it’s Hawaiian and you can put it on anything. I use it for everything from bug bites and burns to my dog’s dry skin. There are other salves out there, sure, but none are Surfer Salve.

Surfer-Salve-Tubes.4

*PROTIP; buy it in bulk and have it on hand like I do, or give it away as gifts like I do. Either way, buy enough to make the price of shipping from Hawaii worth it.

3. BRAISED SHORT RIB RAGU. Because DERR! That’s why. Holy Mole!

Braised Short Rib Ragu on Polenta with Gremolata 2 500

COURTESY; CLOSET COOKING

4. SUPERFEET INSOLES. Don’t you judge me. Old people are SO not lying to you when they tell you that you will ache as you get older. At 34, I have chronic back pain. 3 things help me to mitigate this; acupuncture, exercise and these insoles.