2015 Holiday Gift Suggestions

Milwaukee Christmas treeIt’s Black Friday, when folks trample each other to buy price-reduced manufactured goods so they can give them to family and friends to prove just how much they love and appreciate them. As much fun as that is (and as someone who has worked retail off and on for years and got to watch two ladies nearly come to blows over a scooter, I know my good times), not everyone is hip to getting their friends and family the same gift everyone else is giving to their favorite humans.

Well, that’s why I am here. To point you in the direction of some really nifty finds that you won’t find in all of those fliers and on the shelves of your local big box store.

Obviously, you should totally buy all of my books and give them to all of your friends. But if you don’t want people to get suspicious that you’re not putting any thought into your gifts (but you really would be; I’d vouch for you), you should also check out these authors: Shanna Hammaker, Brandon Ford, Jeremy C. Shipp, Shonell Bacon, and Johi Jenkins. Horror, memoir, mystery, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult…you’re bound to find something for someone or many somethings for many someones.

If you know an aspiring writer (or anyone that uses a writing instrument, really), perhaps check out Roweville Retro and get them a one-of-kind pen, pencil, or stylus. You can even get a custom made creation. Get them that present that other people will be trying to steal from them for years to come.

Speaking of writing, how about encouraging the people you really do like to keep in touch with some spiffy postcards? This is what happens when I keep taking and drawing pictures with no set purpose in mind. I have to find something to do with them and what better use than to remind people that dropping a picture card in the mail and sending it to a friend is still a fun surprise.

But, if you’re looking for better art (and you probably should be), then check out Hannah McFaddon Art. Hannah McFaddon is an amazing artist and now she’s got a whole line of prints available, too. Tea-Rex! Are you kidding me? Absolutely adorable! And guaranteed to be something that a loved one is going to adore and hang proudly on their wall.

So go! Shop! Buy things that people didn’t know they needed and will love to get!


**Yes, I am once again promoting my friends and acquaintances (and myself) for the holidays because I like them, I like what they’re doing, and I think they deserve some spotlight. Go team!

Holiday Shopping Suggestions

flame box elder penNo, do not fear. This is not a post to try to get you guys to buy my stuff (but, still, buy my stuff *coughcough*).

This is a post to draw your attention to a couple of my friends who make some really fabulous things that you should be aware of. These are perfect items to include on your own holiday wishlist or to purchase for friends or relatives.

Seriously. These are great things that you don’t want to miss out on.

RowevilleRetro. Handmade pens, pencils, styluses (stylii?), and other goodies, made from reclaimed materials. The pen in the picture? All mine, baby. It’s flame box elder and writes beautifully. It’s pretty neat to know that I’ve got a pen so unique. Don’t see one you like? You can custom order one to get exactly the pen/pencil/stylus your heart desires. And for a great price! Don’t forget to like them on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter to keep up with latest goodies.

Brush Crush. Hannah McFadden is a terrific artist and now you can own one of her lovely pieces (I’m still making up my mind on which one I want; I want them all!). Inks, oils, pastels, acrylic, watercolor, she’s got skills in so many mediums. Check out her website for more pieces and like her on Facebook to keep up with her latest projects.

‘Tis the season for giving and if you’re going to be giving, then give something good. So, give these good people a look see, pass on the URLs, and, ya know, buy something.


*Full disclosure: None of the people involved in the two shops asked me to do this. This is all me, baby. I’m promoting them on the blog because I like them, I like their stuff, and I already promote them on my personal Facebook and Twitter. In my opinion, they deserve to have lots of people flocking to them to purchase their merchandise. If this blog post (or repeated sharings/likings/retweetings/favoritings/whatever) can help generate that mob, then it’s the very least I can do.

I Take My Green Very Seriously

cloverMy love of St. Patrick’s Day is pretty limited to wearing green. I take that very seriously. I don’t take it so seriously that I’ll make a nuisance of myself pinching and/or chastising people for not wearing green. But for me, myself, the fun of the holiday begins and ends with me finding something green to wear.

This takes some planning on my part because I don’t wear green as part of my every day wardrobe much. I wear a lot of red and blue, black and white and gray, but some colors, like green and purple and orange and brown are in limited supply in my closet (there is almost no yellow as that is my worst color, which makes me sad because I do love it).

So in addition to my limited green to choose from, I also don’t like to wear the same thing every year. That’s just dull. I should be able to come up with something different, even if I’m the only one that’s going to know. Why should I bore myself? I mean, really.

There’s also the little matter of making sure that whatever green I pick, there’s no debate that it is, indeed, green. Remember that in school? If someone wore something that might be more teal or aqua than green, a fight would erupt about whether or not it qualified as green? Yeah, I refuse to be put in that position, whether anyone else is playing this game or not. It matters to me, man.

So keep your green beer and pub crawls and corned beef and cabbage (especially the cooked cabbage because it makes me gag). Just leave me my Irish music and my green.


**It’s worth noting that my short story “Wearing of the Green” in the Yearly anthology is based, at least a little bit, on my dedication to wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not quite so…intense about it, though.**

I Don’t Know How You People Do It

Energizer Bunny

In the next week I’ll have a holiday party, three Christmases, grocery shopping, one floorset shift, and hopefully a haircut.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

And I can feel my anxiety rise every time I look at my calendar.

It’s not that I don’t want to do these things (okay, I’m not a big fan of grocery shopping), but it’s just a lot of me to do in a week. For once, this has nothing to do with my laziness.

I’m an introvert.

Someone explained it that when it comes to social interactions, extroverts take in the energy from being out and about while introverts expend it. As an introvert, this means I will be expending some level of energy for every activity I do the week in question. The routine stuff, like floorset and grocery shopping, doesn’t require as much energy as the holiday party and the Christmases will, but it will all cost me. I’m going to be more than wiped out by the time it’s all said and done.

As an introvert, I require a certain amount of preparation and recovery time from social interactions. Sometimes it’s not much. Sometimes it’s a lot.

This means I don’t go out as much as my friends. I’m not as socially active. I have one friend that I know might be home for dinner one or two nights a week, maybe. She’s always running. After work there are all sorts of activities that she or her husband or her kids are involved in. And that’s great! But I have no idea how she can manage it because for me, it would be so draining that I’d be dead within a week.

She is an extrovert. And I’m little jealous of that.

Being an introvert can be a bit tiring. I don’t go out as much with my friends as maybe I should or maybe I’d like to. There are times when my energy is riding high and I’m good to go. Lots of times, it takes all I can muster just to get through the regular social interaction of my day. As a result, people stop asking you to do things because they know the answer will “always” be no. It’s kind of a bummer.

I’m not trying to whine about it. I’m sure there are bummer aspects to being an extrovert, too. I’m just not sure what they are.

I’m too busy looking on in amazement at how people can be so socially active and not need a day or a weekend or a week (or month, or…) to recharge. To me, extroverts are like the Energizer Bunny, just going and going and going.

Meanwhile, as an introvert, I feel like a dying laptop battery that’s gotta be charged every couple of hours.

I wonder if I can get a replacement off of Amazon.

Making Grinchmas

English: Three Christmas ornaments

I make as many presents as I can for Grinchmas. The present depends on the person. My nieces always get jewelry, but what kind of jewelry varies from year to year (and request to request; I’ve been making them jewelry for years so they anticipate it now). Other folks I try to come up with something unique, but if I can make several for different people, I find that handy.

Last year a couple of my friends got little recipe books that I personalized for them while several of my family members got mason jars that I wrote on with hot glue and then painted silver so the writing would show up. I filled the jars with either tea or hot chocolate and attached candy canes with ribbons.

This year I found a recipe to make dough for Christmas ornaments and decided that would be a good idea. Creative and unique and I could make several of them for different people. Of course I’m making jewelry for my nieces (including the newest one I picked up through my sister’s marriage) and my cousin’s girlfriend, and my mother requested that I sew her some kitty curtains and coasters for her new house (I’ll post an explanation with pictures about all of that later).

While it’s nice to have everything known and lined out and whatnot, I’ve found that once again I’ve put the pressure on myself time-wise. And I even started earlier this year than last year!

Part of the pressure comes from trying to do all of these things between three jobs and writing. The other part comes from the fact that some of this stuff has to be mailed and if I want it there before the holiday, I need to have it done sooner than everything else.

The biggest part of the pressure, though, comes from my brain. I feel like I need to have this done NOW. And I won’t be happy until it is all done. Never mind that I sew by hand and that I have to wait for my charms to arrive by mail and that paint needs to dry. Now. NOW.

It’s like there’s a self-imposed deadline is in my head. More like a clock ticking down to detonation. If I don’t get this all done by a certain time everything will blow up.

The clock was running down for me this past weekend. I could see it in my head, ticking down to Sunday night. Which was kind of silly. Of everything that I still had to do (most of the jewelry and the kitty curtains were already done), only the coasters HAD to be finished (I delivered the curtains last week and I promised the coasters by Tuesday). Most of the ornaments won’t be delivered until Christmas Eve/Day. Of those that have to be mailed, I still have time for that. Ditto with the bracelet I have to make (the one for my niece’s birthday, which is a week before Christmas, is a little more pressing, but not that much really).

So I spent the weekend frantically thinking about all of the things I needed to have done and doing those said things.

Not the most restful weekend, but at least I’m almost ready for Grinchmas.

Now I just need to start wrapping things.

But that’s another post.

The Definitive Grinchmas Post

grinchmas2013The purpose of this post is to concisely explain Grinchmas to anyone who might be curious as to what I’m talking about when I refer to it on Twitter or Facebook (because I’m usually not being an actual Bah Humbug when I talk about it) or tell folks to Rob Whoville instead of one of the standard December sayings. It might also be used as a sort of blueprint in case anyone else would like to celebrate or create their own December holiday alternative.

The Origin of Grinchmas (in a nutshell)– I created the holiday in reaction to the material gluttony of Christmas and the Christians telling me I HAD to say “Merry Christmas”, but shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate it because I’m not Christian.

How I Celebrate Grinchmas:

-I bid people “Rob Whoville” instead of saying “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, or any of the other standard phrases. When the Grinch robbed Whoville, the reaction of the Whos made him realize that Christmas was about more than presents and his heart grew three sizes that day. “Rob Whoville” means more to me than “Merry Christmas”.

-My Grinchmas decorations (which curiously look a lot like Christmas decorations) are put up on December 1st and come down on December 31st, completely contained within the month of December.

-I make as many Grinchmas gifts as I can. The few Grinchmas gifts I buy are bought with gift cards that I earn through a market research program (and those gift cards are specifically for Grinchmas; I don’t consider them mine to use for myself for the most part). The only money I spend on Grinchmas is for any materials I might need to make gifts.

And that’s about it. That’s how I roll in December. It’s the way I prefer to celebrate the holiday season. I can still blend in and do Christmas with my family and friends and such, but for me, doing Grinchmas is much more fulfilling. Instead of going through the motions like I used to do, the motions now have some meaning.

Grinchmas is a made-up thing and I’m sure it will continue to evolve with the years, but these are the basics, the FAQs, if anyone ever asked me about it. I’ll add to this post if I need to.

I don’t think I’ll need to.

My Yearly Descent Into Madness aka Christmas Season

Merry, Merry Christmas

Oh yes. That time of year after my beloved Halloween ends and the jolly faithful completely skip over Thanksgiving and go right to shoving tinsel down my throat.

That time of year when Christians start screaming at me to say “Merry Christmas” but then tell me I’m not allowed to celebrate THEIR holiday (though if I’m going to be honest, folks on my FB started that crap in September; you know who you are). Nothing puts me in the mood to love my fellow humans quite like it.

That time of year when my horror films are replaced with saccharine holly jolly flicks about what a wonderful time of year it is. Six weeks of syrup drizzling all over my channels.

That time of year when Christmas songs start creeping into the playlists on the radio and in stores, gradually building until that’s all you hear because somehow people think that six weeks of this music will put everyone into the spirit instead of driving folks, particularly the poor folks working in retail, to homicide.

That time of the year when most people become obsessed with shopping and deals and getting and spending. So this is more retail PTSD, but when you’ve dealt with as many nasty, rude people as I have all for the sake of some joyous gift-giving holiday, your dislike of crowds, shoppers, and materialism becomes part of your fight-or-flight response.

That time of year when I’m subjected to false-cheerfulness and ho-ho-ho and very special episodes and endless commercials for toys and elves and Santa and white chocolate and peppermint in EVERYTHING.

Oh yes. That time of year.

I wish we could keep Christmas in December so I can eat my damn Thanksgiving turkey in peace.