The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for (Pissed Off) Nasty Women and Bad Hombres

If you’re anything like me you realize, now more than ever, that perhaps the last thing I need in my world is more stuff.

You know what I DO need? Equal rights. Civil liberties. To feel safe. To BE safe. For those people who have been targeted by hate speech this election cycle to feel (and truly BE) safe. To support those organizations working so hard, every day, to be sure that our rights are not stripped away, one by one.

Dear Santa: All I want for Christmas is for our country to not be blasted back to 1950s America or, worse, 1930s Germany. But how do you ask Santa for that?

It’s a different world, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far: the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for (Supremely Pissed Off) Nasty Women and Bad Hombres. 

GIVE TO ORGANIZATIONS WORKING TO PROTECT OUR PLANET AND OUR PEOPLE: This year, I’ll be asking for donations to be made in my name and will be donating in honor of others to local and national organizations that support those who will find themselves most vulnerable under our new administration. Check out Trump’s first 100 days action plan to see which people and what causes (hint: THE EARTH) are going to need some serious help. A few ideas:

  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): My guess is the ACLU is going to be busy over the next four years, protecting the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center: This organization combats hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation, particularly focusing on hate crimes and white supremacists.
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): Not only can you donate in honor of someone or give them a membership, but the NRDC also has some great gift options, making this a good option for kids, too. Who doesn’t want to support the bees or the polar bears, right?
  • Planned Parenthood (here’s the Indiana/Kentucky chapter, but you can select your own chapter when you donate online): I owe PP a personal thank you for the many years where my full-time jobs didn’t offer me health insurance. An extra fun fact: not only can you donate on behalf of your Great Aunt Tessy, but you can also donate on behalf of someone you don’t even know, like, oh, your women’s rights-attacking governor (*cough cough Mike Pence cough cough*). They will receive a thank you note from the wonderful people at PP. I can’t wait for Governor Pence to get his card from my donation in his name!
  • A local organization serving refugees, like Exodus Refugee Immigration in Indianapolis, which is also one of the primary assistance organizations serving Syrian refugees coming to Indiana.
  • Any organization, like the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition (ADAC), serving the 581,000 kids who will no longer be protected from deportation under the immigration policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama executive order that Trump has stated he will immediately get rid of. These kids deserve our protection, not to live under the constant fear of deportation.
  • And now I’m realizing there are too many to list: GLAAD, Lambda Legal, Indiana Transgender Wellness Alliance… So many amazing organizations working so tirelessly. What organization are you excited about donating to this holiday season? 

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS: If you are going to buy “stuff” for people (or just stuff in general), consider these ideas:

  • Open for Service: A worldwide community of diversity-supporting businesses, churches, organizations, employers, and consumers to celebrate inclusiveness regardless of politics. Sounds good to me!
  • Amazon Smile: Anytime you purchase from Amazon, go to instead to support a non-profit of your choice. I have a friend who is sticking a note into the gifts of all of her relatives this holiday season, letting them know that their gift also supports Planned Parenthood. 🙂

PAY FOR QUALITY NEWS SOURCES: You know how we’re lamenting “fake” news sources and how awful the media is? You can make an impact by PAYING FOR YOUR NEWS. Subscribe to a newspaper. Support NPR. Journalists who have actual resources behind them are going to become a national treasure. Beyond content, paying for your news also provides money for copy editors and fact checkers; keeps editorial separate from ad revenue; gives resources for in-depth reporting on major issues; and allows papers to hang onto experienced reporters and editors.

  • My favorite news sources: The Guardian, Washington Post, New York Times, and Christian Science Monitor. Where do you get your news?
  • NPR Membership: I love NPR. I love Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne, I love considering all the things every afternoon, I want to marry both Terry Gross and Ira Glass. I feel like I learn something every time I listen. I’ll be asking for a renewed membership to WFYI, our local station. If you can pay $10 a month for Netflix, you can pay at least that much to support a free press, amiright?

DON’T LEAVE THE KIDS OUT: As the mother of two small boys, I want them to know what it means to be the change they want to see in the world. I want them to know they have a voice and how to use that voice to speak against injustice and hate, every time they see it.

  • Expand a child’s library – and mind: Check out the amazing reading list offers at the bottom of this page, which gives tips for how to speak to kids about protesting. Particularly beautiful is A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara, which my toddler will be getting in his stocking. I’m really hoping he gets I Am Rosa Parks and a few others from the Ordinary People Series by Brad Meltzer.
  • Couple one of the NRDC’s Green Gifts with a game or toy. Help your favorite kid Bee a Hero, then bust out a new related game, like Hanna Honeybee by Haba. (My husband asked if anyone has created a global warming/rising sea levels game yet).
  • Retool your advent calendar tradition to give back to a local organization: Pick an organization in need of supplies (we’ve picked an organization that serves foster kids). Then each day leading up to Christmas, have your kids pick out one item to put in a box. Each day, you’ll watch the bounty grow. After Christmas, wrap up your box and drop it off at the organization together.

20161013. Christmas gift stockpile has begun: bong(o) drums, a hand-knitted lion, and maybe the coolest board book I've ever seen. 211/365. #365days

My pledge this holiday season and beyond: do what I can to support those made most vulnerable by this election cycle and current events. I can’t think of a more loving gift than to extend that gift to others.

The Sweet Daily Grind of Vacation

Vacation life, in bullet point and photo form:

    • Christmas vacation started with a wonderful visit from my parents. It was the perfect combination of fun things to do and straight chilling out. We wandered around Nashville, Indiana; watched football; ate homemade chili and egg casserole and cinnamon rolls and WAY too much chocolate, beer, wine, and Bailey’s (family tradition); watched a really excellent version of A Christmas Carol; enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies (ahem…. Die Hard 2, of course); perused the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s contemporary floor; and, of course, opened loads of presents.
20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: adorable whale rattle and fox baby booties, our new family photo, my lovely parents, me and my mom, and Boombox scanning the presents.

20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: Our present-laden tree, my new chalkboard drawing with Die Hard quotation, Chris and his new handknitted hat, anatomically correct gingerbread men, and Birdie getting cozy with my dad.

    • Yesterday, I took the tree down so we could start Ambitious Vacation Project of 2013 (TM): replacing the carpet in our living room with laminate flooring. I am currently typing from a couch in the middle of a mostly empty, very carpetless room. With all the animals we have – plus adding a kid into the mix – the carpet is just gross. It will be AWESOME once it’s done.
20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

The living room before.

20131226. Family room, mid-carpet removal.

The carpet comes up!

    • In baby news, if you see a pregnant woman (aka ME) waddling along, it’s not because her belly is so giant she’s about to fall over. It’s because her back hurts so badly it has become difficult to walk. Unfortunately, this pain is most exacerbated by bending over to do work (picture weeding in the garden or – here’s the unfortunate part – pulling staples out of the floor or moving heavy furniture to allow for laminate flooring to be laid). So I felt pretty useless today. I like to be able to help, to DO, and I’ve never really had a health problem that seriously kept me from being able to do the things I want to do.
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Instead, I’ve been reading a lot, doing yoga, running errands, and finishing knitting projects, like this cabled baby blanket.

    • In other baby news, I’m starting to feel like I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET THIS BABY. Like, I’m ready. And I’m starting to feel excitedly impatient. Seven weeks and counting!

20131225. Whale rattle.

Today was the quintessential vacation day:

    • I started with day two of morning yoga, which is helping the back out and generally making me feel better about my suddenly unwieldy frame and non-existent stomach muscles.
    • Over coffee, I ordered seeds for the 2014 garden. This is always one of my favorite winter activities: dreaming of springtime’s seedlings poking through the soil, hot summer breezes playing through the bean blossoms, bees buzzing, and chickens scratching through thick grass.

20131227. 2014 garden dreaming!

    • I also did an inventory of the seeds I already have from the past few years. Yikes. I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” per se, but I’ve got quite a seed library going.

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

    • It was a balmy 45 degrees today, so after a shower, Birdie and I went for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood, then I ran some errands (including a treat Starbucks run for me and my hard working husband) with my coat unbuttoned, my window down (a little), and Birdie as my co-pilot.
    • Following some afternoon baby book reading, Chris and I tucked into spicy turkey chili and fresh broccoli. YUM.

Not usually one to photograph my food, but dinner tonight was kind of the bomb. Turkey chili and broccoli, what?!

Now? Now it’s movie and snuggle time in our deconstructed home. For posterity’s sake, here’s what’s on tap for the 2014 garden, thanks to a Seed Savers Exchange gift card from my in-laws. Great Christmas gift, am I right?

  • Sunflower, Autumn Beauty
  • Radish, Plum Purple
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Aji Cristal
  • Pepper, Black Hungarian
  • Onion, Yellow of Parma
  • Lettuce, Forellenschluss
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Edmonson
  • Cucumber, Double Yield
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood
  • Bean, Ideal Market
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Asian Green, Mizuna
  • Arugula

Giving Thanks, Days 19-22: Everything’s Coming Up Christie

It has been a really stellar week or so. The anticipation of getting to see my parents and family, some amazing new opportunities coming to fruition, and the promise of some good old fashioned baby showering have really buoyed me lately.

Day 19: THANKS, COUCH, FOR ALL THE COZY WINTER GOOD TIMES. Both Birdie and I seemed to be feeling a little under the weather/exhausted by Sunday. I was exceedingly thankful to my couch and to the fact that I didn’t have to be on my feet, doing much of anything all day.

We're both feeling a little meh today, I think.

Day 20: HAPPINESS, THANKS, AND EXCITEMENT FOR NEW OPPORTUNITIES! I’ll give more details soon, but some really awesome, amazing, dream things are happening lately. It’s left me feeling breathless and nervous and generally thrilled.

One hint:

201306. Harvesting bok choi.

Day 21: THANKS FOR MY FAMILY AND BEING ABLE TO SPEND THE HOLIDAYS WITH THEM. I love my parents a whole lot. I haven’t seen them since our wedding, and I really can’t wait to spend the next several days with them. Every time we visit, it’s true vacation mode time – lots of eating, TV watching, relaxing, reading, maybe a walk or two, shopping, eating some more… and did I mention relaxing? We are good at vacation time with the ‘rents.

I love spending time with them. They’re my best friends. And this year, there’s the added bonus of getting to see aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins and little ones, both at Thanksgiving and the baby shower my mom is throwing for us.

day 3 - mom, dad, and flowers.

day 7 - mom at spirit island, which wasn't actually an island.

071224. me and mom, the cold, and a tree.

mom and me. 2003.

090814. dad and me.

2012023. Dad's day cross stitch.

Day 22: THANKS FOR PAINLESS TRIPS TO THE BMV. In my continuing quest to change my last name, I’ve gotten the chance to visit a number of government offices. The BMV? MUCH better than the Social Security Administration. MUCH MUCH.

However, do you think the guy could have taken a slightly less serial killer-y picture of me? Oh, well. With today’s trip, now I just have to do cleanup for the rest of m name change stuff: bank, health insurance, doctors, etc. But the big/official stuff is DONE!

Seriously, DMV picture taker dude? We couldn't have done a slightly less serial killer-y retake?

Giving Thanks, Days 16-18: I Have a Bit of a Christmas Problem

Confession: I’m one of THOSE people. You know, the kind of person who loves the fact that the grocery store was playing Christmas songs the weekend after Halloween. Who has a Nutcracker Ballet Pandora station that gets frequent play between early-November and late-December. Who gets so sad at the thought that Thanksgiving and Christmas are close together this year, thus minimizing prime Christmas-tree-enjoyment. Guess which one of these I am?

DAY 16: THANKS FOR THE SMILES, NEIGHBORHOOD. I’m a sucker for streetside senses of humor. This adorable little guy makes me smile every time I’m stopped at the light down the street from my house. Which is often.

My hood.

DAY 17: WAY TO GO, CHRISTMASTIME, WITH ALL YOUR GLITTERY LIGHTS AND GLASS GLOBE ORNAMENTS AND NUTCRACKER SUITES. So what if it’s not Thanksgiving yet? Our tree is now decorated, and it makes me exceedingly happy to have those lights all aglow each night. Every year around this time, I think I’ll want to keep it up until February, but every year I somehow come to my senses around New Year’s Day and get the tree back into the basement, ready for next year.

20131122. Christmas tree goodness.

DAY 18: Finally, I’M REALLY THANKFUL WE LIVE EXACTLY WHERE WE DO. Seriously, we somehow found the perfect house for us. Like Chris said yesterday, “Things just seem to work out for us.” He’s right, they really do.

This little place was the second of many that we visited back in spring 2011, and it quickly became the house against which we measured all others in our price range. “This one’s all right…. but it’s not as nice as that second one we saw.” We’ve made an awesome home, and I never want to leave.

The latest step in house evolution: we finished the nursery closet, just in time for our upcoming baby shower!

20131123. Finished nursery closet!

20131123. Finished nursery closet!

20131125. The beginning of a library.

Our baby library begins, thanks to gifts from my brother and sis-in-law and my own bookshelf. I’ve never noticed how CREEPY that picture of Shel Silverstein is on the back cover of “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

My Psychic Powers

Over the holidays, we found one of the Christmas cards I gave Chris in 2011. Note that we had not planned yet on chickens, and we hadn’t even discussed a puppy until, oh, September or so of this year. I’m psychic!

20130105. I'm psychic! My Christmas card to Chris in 2011 (note we had not planned on chickens OR a dog by Christmas last year).

(And, yes, generally speaking, Chris gets at least one cute animal card for every holiday or birthday. It’s kind of my thing).

Resolutions 101, or How 2013 Will Be the Year of Juice

I used to be one of those lofty resolution makers. Every year, I’d wax poetic about how I was going to lose 10 pounds, do 50 situps a day, ride my bike every day, eat nothing but green things for the entire month of January, etc.

Having a new puppy, though, I’m learning a lot about positive training. Basically, you want to set your puppy up to succeed, encourage her profusely when she does… and when she doesn’t do what you want, you ignore it and move on.

It’s like this bolt of stupid came shooting down from the heavens and illuminated my whole lofty resolutions bullcrap I’ve been pulling for the last decade. Shouldn’t we all be setting ourselves up to succeed? Shouldn’t we be using positive training on ourselves, making baby steps towards the things we want and the people we want to be? And why do we feel the need to default to extremes (“You WILL do this, you WON’T do this”), only to feel utterly crappy about it when we (of course) can’t possibly live up to these insane shifts in behavior we’ve tried to demand of ourselves? I say “bolt of stupid,” though, because none of this should have been an epiphany at all.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, getting back to resolutions, in the interest of setting myself up for success, I decided I will only make resolutions I know I can keep. Drum roll please… My resolutions for 2013:

      • Drink more juice. No, really. I got a juicer for Christmas, and carrot/ginger/pear is my jam.
      • Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy (and figure out a way to be able to participate in said apprenticeship if accepted).
      • Take a trip with my honey (like, a real vacation, not just down the road for a day or a long weekend), maybe to the Rogue farm out in Oregon.

There are a couple of others, too, but they aren’t really for public consumption. I’ll let you know when I achieve at least one of them, though!

In other news, we had a lovely New Year’s Eve at our neighbors’ house, and today we had our first four-egg day!

20130103. Happy New Year! Our first 4-egg day!

Pink, green, brown, and white! All four girls laid an egg today.

20121231. We're the creeps who bring eggs and bubbly for the NYE party hosts.

What? Doesn’t everyone bring a six-pack of eggs along with a couple of bottles of bubbly for their NYE hosts?

Suffering from Snow Blindness

On Christmas night, we got hit with about 9″ of snow, along with gusting winds and a blizzard warning. They weren’t kidding – our cars had cornices by the 26th! The weather outside was frightful, but the fire was delightful. Not only did we have some corn for popping, but we also had fixins to make a mean Mai Tai. In other words, we survived just fine, thanks for asking.


20121226. The shoveled snow pile. Christmas night blizzard.

20121226. Our cars have cornices! Christmas night blizzard.

Car cornice!

20121226. There is a car under there, I promise. Christmas night blizzard.

There really is a car under there.


Snow day with my best girl.

Birdie kept completely exhausting herself in the snow. Exhausted puppy = adorable, well-behaved puppy.

Just as the snow started getting doggified in the backyard yesterday afternoon (you know – packed down, a little muddy, and, ahem, COLORED in certain spots), the weatherman told us we might get another 1-2″ last night. Yeah… more like 4″ on top of what we already had. I know, I shoveled that beautiful fluff!

Last night:

20121228. Snowy evening.

Did I mention beautiful? What a wonderful sight to wake up to this morning.

20121229. So we got a tad more snow last night.

20121229. So we got a tad more snow last night.

20121229. So we got a tad more snow last night.

An Intimate Familiarity with Where Your Food Comes From… or TMI?

We sold our first half-dozen eggs yesterday! Not only can people come visit our backyard and meet the chickens from which their eggs came, but they can even use the handy dandy little chicken egg decoder to learn who laid which egg. Snazz, AMIRIGHT?!

20121223. First egg sale - know where your food comes from.

And then I was thinking, is that too much information? Do people WANT to know which specific chicken laid their breakfast? *I* think it’s awesome… but then again, I’m a little weird.

Anyway, of course, as Chris said, “It will only take us NEVER” to actually turn a profit on these five little chicks, but that was never really the point.

20121223. First egg sale - know where your food comes from.

The next chickens, though? Bring it. No darling freeloaders allowed!

Also, Christmas Eve = up early to tend to chickens and play with puppy. Feed chickens pumpkin and juicer pulp, purchase hay bale for the chickens in preparation for what may be a good winter storm Christmas night. Put together Christmas stocking for Chris. Sand and prime office walls (which we are in the midst of demolishing and making pretty again). Put turkey chili in the crock pot. Make Christmas playlist for tomorrow, then head to the liquor store and grocery store for very important stock replenishment. Block print more chicken egg cartons. Wait for boyfriend to get home to skim coat the office walls, eat chili, watch a Christmas movie, and share a fine bottle of Three Floyd’s Alpha Klaus.

This is my first year EVER not visiting family for Christmas, and I’m keen to start our own traditions. We will continue my family’s tradition of BAILEY’S IN THE COFFEE Christmas morning (a fine, fine tradition), and I think chili is a great addition, particularly since we may be snowbound soon enough. Tomorrow, I’ll make cinnamon rolls from scratch, and we’ve saved a number of our favorite Christmas movies to watch. I miss my family, but I’m also thankful to be relaxing with my honey, not worrying about the menagerie, and getting some big projects done.

“Walking ‘Round in Women’s Underwear,” Happy Solstice, and the Latest of the Duh Vignettes

Ever since I was a little kid, whenever it really starts looking seasonal out, the following song goes through my head. As a kid it was just funny – walking ’round in women’s underwear? how silly! – but I love it now that I’m older because, essentially, it’s about proudly and unabashedly cross-dressing (with your co-workers, even!) to a favorite Christmas tune. What’s not to love, am I right?

What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that we woke up to a winter wonderland this morning (and I also happen to be walking ’round in women’s underwear, but that’s a different story).

20121221. Snow banks and chicken wagons.

Snow banks and chicken wagons – the wind was brutal last night and today, and I had to refresh the frozen chicken waterer four times today.

20121221. I have a remarkably steady hand. The chickens' first snow.

Notice there are no chickens out yet. Smart girls stayed inside and cozy for quite a while this morning.

20121221. With all the wind, I blocked off one side of the coop's ventilation with a towel.

This is our first cold weather with the chickens, and I was really glad I covered one side of their ventilated roof with a towel. It has been SO windy, the entire coop would have been snowed under!

I also keep hearing that chickens are supposed to slow down or stop producing as daylight hours wane. We assumed we wouldn’t see an egg until the spring thaw, our girls were so… REMEDIAL about the whole thing. Our first chicken laid her first egg one month ago today; Boo followed soon after, then Edgar waited until two days ago. Beaker apparently felt like a total loser for not having laid anything yet, so, on the shortest day of the year, she defied all wisdom and gave me her first little pink egg. I am pretty sure this is proof-positive that our chickens are weirdos. Lovely, endearing weirdos.

20121221. Beaker's little pink egg.

12/21/12 – the world didn’t end, and Beaker’s egg laying began.

20121221. Shortest day of the year, and Beaker decides to lay her first egg.

Go, Beaker, go! They finally braved the cold to scratch around in the straw.

Finally, the latest in the ‘Duh Vignettes’ series relates to selling eggs. We bought a bunch of blank cardboard egg six-packs so we can start selling to friends on a small scale. Since they are blank, I want to spruce the cartons up a bit, and I was lamenting to Chris how ridiculously expensive it is to have your own stamp made via the place I bought the cartons from (really? $45 for my own stamp? that’s cray).

Cue “duh” moment: I Google “custom stamp making,” and come across the following Pinterest board in, like, one of the first links: HELLO! I took two block printing classes last year. I have block printing supplies, including corkboard. Block printing is basically creating a giant stamp, for goodness sakes!

Hell, WE TALKED ABOUT MAKING STAMPS IN THE DANG CLASS. What is wrong with me?! So tonight I plan on drawing out a nice little stamp of a chicken silhouette in a space helmet for the tops of our cartons (and maybe a few others). Lovely, right?

20121221. Oh, right. This is what cold feels like.

So finally, on this last day of work, this first day of winter, and this first blast of cold weather and beautiful snow, I think I’m in the Christmas spirit. Who’s with me?

The “Duh” Vignettes, Edition One: The Grass Is Always Greener

A friend recently asked me if our girls’ eggs taste immensely different from store-bought eggs. To be honest, they don’t.

Wait, what? No, really. Don’t get me wrong – they taste fantastic, and they are about as fresh as you can get. They are also a lot stronger-shelled than store-bought eggs, and we often have to use a butter knife to break through the inner layer once we’ve cracked the shell.

Maybe it’s the fact that we have typically bought “higher end” eggs and not the 69 cent/dozen ones in the white Styrofoam containers. Maybe it’s because the chickens haven’t really been free ranging as much since the weather got colder. Who knows.

Anyway, this conversation got me thinking about fresh food for the chickens during the winter. I’ve been feeding them the pulp from my juicer, which they love, but how could I get them free range goodness without having to freeze my ass off supervising them in the open air?

Then it hit me, my greatest “duh” moment of late: open your eyes, girlfriend, and look at what’s right in front of you!

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

DUH! Green stuff everywhere!

We planted winter rye this year as a cover crop in a couple of beds, just for kicks. A local farmer was telling me that, in the spring, I’ll likely need to cut it back before turning it under, it grows so voraciously. Or, instead, I could use it as a tasty green thing to supplement the chickens’ diet all winter long.

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

Say it with me: DUH.

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

The chickens are not complaining about my recent discovery, although they did seem a little ruffled it took me so long.

In other news, we are trying to get into the holiday spirit over here at Space-Farms. For a variety of reasons, this season has been fairly stressful and a tad devoid of holiday cheer.

However, we both get over a week of much-needed time off work starting December 24, and I think the break alone will give us time to think, enjoy life, and maybe start considering some plans for the future.

20121208. Boombox hates everyone when we put the antlers on him.

Boombox is in the spirit!

20121215. We had an extra card and couldn't figure out who to send it to.

What should one do when one has an extra Christmas card and no more people to send it to in his/her address book? Why, Google “White House address,” of course! I hear Michelle has a thing for chickens.