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Whether or not you really care, there are certain topics that the people in your life will talk to you about that you have to listen to and act interested in because it is just a part of maintaining that relationship. In many cases, it's hearing about people's work life or children. With my mom, it's her dogs (and a thousand other topics). With my dad, it's how much his furniture is worth on ebay (and a thousand other topics). 

With my husband, it's a breakdown of his workout class every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday morning. He literally came home today and told me how much faster he jump roped (jumped rope?) than everyone else in the class. Unfortunately, I'm getting worse and worse at feigning positive reinforcement. I think he didn't buy it when I smiled and said, "That's so great."

LETTERFOLK.

Buy me here.

Buy me here.

I need one of these for my house...or two or three. Now that I've seen it, I'm pretty sure that it's the only thing that will make me happy in life.

Message me for my address if you want to send me one. I'll take The Writer Oak (or The Writer), s'il vous plait. Then I can spend all day worrying whether or not my notes are clever without trying too hard. Something to help along my ulcer.

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I'm sitting at a coffee shop and eavesdropping (obviously) on some sort of business conversation between a man and a woman. In regard to something that I didn't hear, the man uses this analogy to emphasize the impossibility of whatever it is he is talking about:

It's like riding a unicycle. It just does not work. You need two wheels to get going.

He does know people ride unicycles, right? I so hope this lady he's talking to can ride a unicycle.

TGIF-ART: Animal party.

I'm making a half-hearted attempt to resurrect my TGIF-Art "series" in order to motivate myself. I put together some of my favorite animal characters with some new friends. Enjoy. Or not.

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2015.

- - - - - - - 3nd Annual HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE for the "?" on your list - - - - - - -

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1. BODUM COFFEE COPPER COLLECTION There's no reason that only your french press should look like a french press.

2. 2016 ANIMAL PORTRAITS CALENDAR Each month is a portrait of an animal in human clothes. Enough said.

3. WRITE-ON THANKS & BLANKS It's always good to have notecards handy and HelloLucky has more cards that I want than people I want to write to.

4. MATCH JAR I have a soft spot for decorative matches and you should too.

5. S'WELL TEAKWOOD WATER BOTTLE  Besides being nice to look at, S'well plants a tree for every water bottle sold. So, if you buy a different water bottle, just make sure you also buy a tree to plant at the same time.

6. SKOSHBOX This is a monthly subscription box that sends Japanese candy + treats. No need to drive across town for Pocky anymore.

7. STRIPED MARBLE + WOOD BOOKEND Your books will never fall over again if you use these correctly.

8. X3 WATERING CAN You can either water your indoor plants with style or pretend you're the Tin Man from Oz.

9. EVERYDAY SAC This is a multipurpose bag, but I think the main draw is that you can easily clip it to your bike. I won't stop you from using it as an oversized lunch sack though.

10. THE CHOCOLATE ROOM SAMPLER I'm not a big hot chocolate drinker, but this mix is so good that I recommend you buy it for someone that likes hot chocolate or that you can't think of a gift for.

It must be magic.

Every now and then, you pop into a creepy bait & tackle shop in upstate New York so that your best friend can by 25 cent romantic novels for a bachelorette party she's throwing and you come upon "It Must Be Magic" with a handwritten inscription stating that it's from the local school's 4th grade class of 1959. You ask her to purchase it for you because you don't have a quarter and you have to own it. So your best friend buys it for you because that's what best friends are for.

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Even though I'm currently trying to minimize the amount of seemingly unnecessary items in my life, sometimes you just have to add to that pile.

SOUTHERN HIGHLANDERS.

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My friend Bill asked me to work on a mark for his fishing group - Southern Highlanders. There was a lot of inspiration from patches and old school boy scout badges, which seems fitting for a band of guys setting out into nature led by Bill the Eagle Scout. I may not be a Southern Highlander myself, but I look forward to getting a hat or t-shirt with the emblem and sewing my patch onto something and pretending like I am.

A thought.

I once had a friend who said they were going to call me "tomorrow" with some information -- and then I didn't hear from them for several months. They said that each passing day made them more embarrassed that they hadn't contacted me until they felt unable to say anything at all. Instead of the passing of time creating more pressure to do something - they felt increasing pressure to not do anything. The information they were giving me was not important and them not relaying it was of zero consequence so I merely rolled my eyes at their unnecessary and exponentially increasing anxiety about the matter, but I also realized how much I can relate to the idea of it in so many facets of my life. Rarely it's a phone call to someone, but sometimes it is literally that.

For the matters that are important, I'll follow up on you if I don't hear anything. When they are not, I'll roll my eyes in the least judgmental way possible when you allow yourself to be on my radar again. And, for myself, I need to remember that a passing day is only pressure to begin and not reason to finalize or hide from an ending.

CLEANSE.

I just completed a 2 week cleanse (one where you eat food)*. I've done this particular cleanse a few times and it always leaves me feeling refreshed, invigorated, and just generally better. I'm trying to pay more close attention to my body and, when my allergies are flaring or my skin is acting abnormally, I'll do a cleanse to give myself a fresh start. The first 2 days are torture (think Boo Box and you are Glenn Close in pirate drag), but the last few though I haven't watched this movie can best be summed up by that scene in Titanic where they are standing at the helm of the ship. 

I eat fairly healthily and treat my body relatively well on a regular basis, but I never stick to as strict a diet as I am on this cleanse so by day 14 I'm kind of king of the world. There are a lot of things I love in life and most of them are food related, but, if you are what you eat, try not to turn yourself into a Sausage Egg McMuffin with Cheese.

So if you are in need of some healthy recipes or inspiration for a balanced lifestyle, these are some of my favorite places to look: My New Roots, Naturally Ella, The Hungry Australian, and A House in the Hills.

*I purchase the 365 Whole Body Cleanse that comes with a regimen of Fiber, Milk Thistle, and an herbal supplement while eating a diet of only fruits, vegetables, nuts, and brown rice as my only grain because of its high fiber content and some science reasons why that's helpful blah blah science blah.

GO TO HELL, 2015.

It's funny how the first of the year can bring such a strong feeling of possibility. Even writing down the same unsuccessful resolutions you've written down for the past 5 years somehow sidesteps the depression it should evoke and instead is wrapped in optimism as you say out loud, "This is the year."

And maybe if I treated every day like I do January 1st (or if every day treated me like it was January 1st - not literally because that would mean hours of cooking Japanese food), I'd have better luck. I'm not a risk-taker. I'd like to be because it's hard to get much done without at least tiptoeing out of your comfort zone, but I hate to fail and there's usually a possibility of failure when trying new things . . . but this year . . . this is the year that I wake up everyday and think about what I could do and try to make my life fulfilled.

. . . but then yesterday my upstairs neighbor's pipes burst and flooded my kitchen in a very traumatic event and other disappointing news was delivered and I've cried at my desk more than 3 times and and and and now I feel like 2015 is doomed. So far, this year is NOT coming up Milhouse.