Monday, December 31, 2018


Pop your top, and flip your lid!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

If You're Happy and You Know it

A few months ago, I came across this quote:

Happiness is a great side effect but it makes a lousy goal.
-Mike Rowe 

Followed by a jaunty quip about how it's a good thing to have it, but not to make it your main focus, because you'll fail.

Does it make a lousy goal?  And will you fail, though?  What if it doesn't?  And what if you didn't (respectively)?  I happen to think happiness is a wonderful goal.  To achieve happiness in our lives in spite of our challenges, and the unpleasantness we can all face, to me, is great success.  What better goal is there, then, if not to live a life in happiness inviting others to experience it with you, holding space for their sorrows, and lifting them when they're down?  What better goal than to be of service to one another?  I honestly don't think there is one, but I understand how this notion of happiness as the end goal can seem problematic. 

In every area of life, we run into trouble when we over-complicate things.  

Look at what we do to love!  We over-complicate our relationships to an absurd degree, and then conflate that with love, because we (most of us, I think) haven't figured out that something can be both simple, and awesome at the same time.  No, we must make it a HUGELY deep, and sophisticated concept to the point where it does seem fictional, and legendary, and perpetually out of reach for the masses, because something that feels as good as joy, and love can feel incredibly intimidating if you're not ready to receive it, become it, or pay it forward. 
By perpetuating the myth that happiness is this colossal concept of perfect contentment, we end up pushing it away, and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy where it remains comfortably out of grasp.
We've been conditioned to treat happiness like some fleeting, unattainable outcome.  First of all, happiness does not equal a problem-free existence.  Happiness does not mean a life free from sorrows.

Happy literally means: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.  

Nowhere in that definition does it say, "All of your problems have magically disappeared!" or, "You must experience happiness 100% of the time, all day long, everyday, for the entire year, and every single year thereafter for the rest of your life in order to qualify as having lived a happy life."  If that's closer to the definition people are using to measure their happiness against, of course we are going to buckle under that pressure, and gloriously fail at reaching the end-goal of happiness.  I've already failed it today, myself, and some of you probably have too!  Do I believe we're not going to live happy lives because of it?  Nope, and it certainly doesn't mean any of us should stop making moves in order to exist in pleasure, contentment, and dare I say it ... actual joy.
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.  
-John Lennon 

Friday, December 21, 2018

In the Bleak Midwinter...

Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Merry & Bright

As the year winds down, it seems we are bombarded with pumpkin or peppermint everything, and the hotter the better!  So, for anyone (like me) needing a recipe for something bright, crisp tasting, and a little bit different...

Here's what you need:
(All fruit is frozen) 
  • Bananas 3
  • Cranberries 2 cups
  • Mango Chunks 3 cups
  • Raspberries 2 cups
  • Ginger Root 1" knob, grated
  • Shredded Coconut 1 Tbsp (+ extra for garnish)
  • Full-Fat Organic Canned Coconut Milk 2/3 cups
  • Pure Organic Maple Syrup 1/4 cup
  • Water 1 cup

Here's what you do:
Throw everything in a large blender, and blend the hell out of it.  Pour, sprinkle with a pinch of extra coconut shreds, serve & enjoy!

When using all frozen fruit like I am, you may need to give your blender intermittent rests, and add a little more water.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more water, or use fresh bananas rather than frozen.

This recipe makes about 64 ounces.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

So Long, Farewell ...

If you missed your chance to geek out with Worldbuilders over the last two weeks, you can always support their charitable efforts through the Worldbuilders Market, or support Heifer International directly all year long.  If you like to get a little something in return for your giving, I suggest swinging through Heifer's virtual gift shop where money from sales go straight to the makers (I recommend the Confetti Farm Animal Ornaments because turquoise cows, and hot pink pigs speak to my soul on a truly profound level).

Another charity worth checking out, if you haven't already, is new kid on the block: BStrong.  Polarizing Real New York Housewife, Bethenny Frankel, has always known how to leverage her exposure, and popularity for maximum benefit, but she really hit her stride when she expanded into disaster relief after watching the chaos that followed Hurricane Maria (2017), and the lackluster response the region received.  Love her, or hater her she is dedicated to getting cash into the hands of people who need it most, and uses her voice to educate donors on how to spot a less than charitable organization, and how some of the ones we've been led to believe are the most reputable only deliver pennies on the dollar to those in need.  I really think this is one to watch.  I personally feel completely comfortable donating money to her disaster relief initiative, with the boots on the ground belonging to volunteers, and the transportation covered by generous vehicle and space donations, I believe any money received is going exactly where it needs to be going.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

It's a Wrap! -- Winter Craft Project

I thought with schools about to press pause for winter break, that's a lot of days with a lot of hands with nothing to do until Christmas morning in some households (you can only bake, and decorate so many batches of cookies).  Also, with a lot of families looking for ways to minimize screen time, it can be fun to sit down together, and make some ornaments for your tree, or tabletop decorations.  I first learned about yarn wrapped sheep from The Inadvertent Farmer, during my search for a craft my niece could tackle ... Leave it to little folks to ask, "What else could we make?"

This is my answer to that. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Bookworm's Favorite Holiday Tradition + Gift Guide

Every year around this time, ye olde Jólabókaflóðið (Jolabokaflod: Christmas book flood) posts get passed around social media, telling tales about cold Icelandic nights, and cozy Christmas Eves spent snuggled up with chocolate, and books ... As idyllic a way to spend the holiday as it sounds, I wanted to know more.  Is this really a tradition?  How did it get started?  
A lot of people point to WWII era rationing for the reason Jolabokaflod exists, since there were few restrictions placed on paper, and really, what's a lovelier paper gift to give, or receive than a book?  But I wasn't so sure it was quite as simple, or as new as all that, and while you can certainly read about its rise to current popularity, here, I kept digging.  

Thanks to Alda Sigmundsdóttir, I learned about a little something called kvöldvaka, or evening wakeIn her post she tells us of a rich history in Iceland where people gathered together for work, worship, entertainment, and education through story telling, the sharing of folklore, traditions, and more (I'm particularly enchanted by rökkurstund / twilight hour).  If spending time through the winter months looked anything like this, it's little wonder that a culture based on that would lead the scoreboard of most books per capita until recently being edged out of first place by Britain.

With that in mind, I know there are a lot of Americans who would be delighted to begin their own Jolabokaflod, and kvöldvaka family customs, so I've put together a little list of a few personal friends of mine.  With this gift guide we are supporting up and coming authors, independent artists, and self-publishers who are all just trying to make their dreams come true, which, to me, makes the purchase of these books a lovely gift to both the recipients, and the authors.
(alphabetically by first name).

Allison DeBoer Criswell

This book is quite literally, everything you need to know about college writing, and a crucial tool for any student (or regular folks) out there looking to brush up their skills, especially in academic writing.

Autumn Toennis
Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing (Pre-order)

The above anthology includes work from multifaceted talent, Autumn Toennis, who, as far as her readers are concerned, is quite possibly made of magic.

Gerri Ravyn Stanfield
Revolution of the Spirit: Awaken the Healer: An Invitation to Radical Healing

On the smörgåsbord of the self-help, and healing genre, Holistic Medical Practitioner, Gerri Ravyn Stanfield serves us soul food with this book.

Jen Brady
To Write of Hope (40 page debut collection of poetry + photography)

Path of the Brave (Second poetry + photography collection)

Jen Brady's poetry is also featured on track #4 of Hannah Busse's debut album: Underneath Our Surface.

José Rafael Prieto
Soul (Debut novel)
     Kindle Edition

A true Renaissance man, as a novelist, and poet, José Rafael Prieto, offers a rich, enveloping, and lyrical experience to the reader.

Philip Kramer
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Northern California: Section Hiking from Tuolumne Meadows to Donomore Pass 

Adventure and travel photographer, Philip Kramer, stumbled into writing quite by accident, but judging by his debut publication wherein he shares his wealth of knowledge on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, in a laid back, friendly, yet experienced manner, he's definitely hit his stride!  You can read more of my hype, here.

Trish Nichol
The Mechanics of Dreaming 
     Cover art by: Autumn Toennis

In her own words, "I am a rambler, a roamer, an anywhere I lay my head is homer."  Daydreamer extraordinaire, Trish Nichol, has compiled her debut collection of poetry to whet the imagination of her readers, while she works out the details of what is practical and absurd.  

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wondrous Wrath

Glittering sunlight
Crone Beira's deluge