Catching my breath

I usually take the tree down Dec. 26, but the girls are fond of this one, so it's still up.

I usually take the tree down Dec. 26, but the girls are fond of this one, so it’s still up.

It seems like it’s been a whirlwind the past week or so, getting Christmas preparations nailed down, visiting with family and friends, addressing last minute holiday cards (whoops) and enjoying time with my husband and girls and kitties. It’s been slightly stressful and super fun.

I was hoping I’d have my act together enough to put up a real post today, but … well, life is in that weird in-between space, where I’m catching my breath and acting like I’m still on vacation even though it’s business as usual. I’ll have my act together next week. All of that is just to say that today we have updates because that’s all I’ve got in me.

(Know your limits. That’s totally zero waste, right?)


The gifts I brought to work were better received than I’d dared to hope. My coworkers seemed to like both the sugar scrub and the jam. One of my Millennial boys was all, you’re giving me cherry jam?! in a tone that suggested I was really giving him a car. The consensus on the sugar scrub was A) the jar was cute (yep) and 2) that I was incredibly clever for “making” such a thing (perhaps if they knew how easy it was to knock out, they’d reconsider).

Oh, and no one said anything about my lack of cards or labels or embellishments. And bonus: I got to work before most of the staff, so I could just drop gifts on their desk and shoot them an email. It was like my Christmas wish came true.

Anyway, I’m filing this particular win away for next year … or for whenever I need a quick gift.


We did pretty well on the gift front overall. I’ve already talked about how my girls are darlings and have low expectations — this is why you set the bar low early! (Free parenting tip.) Gifts were fairly low waste: Books (purchased at Powell’s in Portland — now that is a bookstore!), art supplies (some less waste than others), jumper cables for Abby (ask me how she melted hers later), Rogue One tickets (printed on the computer), a new sweatshirt for Johanna, that sort of thing. For their stockings, I hit the bulk aisle for candy, which I decanted into smaller jars (we’re 17 and 12, so it’s not like there’s a mystique to uphold), as well as tossed in the traditional orange in the toe. Each kid also got a pair of socks from Blue Q. Low waste and I like that a percentage of the proceeds go to Doctors Without Boarders.

The girls also are now proud owners of HydroFlasks. That is going to make everyone’s lives much easier.

Wrapping consisted of well-worn gift bags, newspaper (and some crappy washi tape) or jars and/or fabric. Kinda boring, but it did the trick. I have a worn out flannel sheet that I had hoped to make into reusable gift bags, but I never got there. I think that’s a project for another time — like in the summer or something, when the pressure is off.


We went to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, and my brother-in-law’s house Christmas Day. My mother is crazy and didn’t want me to bring anything for dinner (that was awesome, actually. We had tacos, cheesecake and pumpkin pie. So basically the perfect meal). At my in-laws’ annual gathering, it’s just informal finger food, so we brought a pasta salad (low waste) and a pastry dessert (zero waste). Food seems to be the least of my worries at this point. It’s just kind of everything else.


Clear cuts are so much prettier when it snows.

Clear cuts are so much prettier when it snows.

When I was buying the girls’ candy at the store, a new checker commented on how much he liked my jars. I was all, well, it’s much easier to get home and just toss them in the cupboard … and I’m trying to reduce my trash. He nodded and was like, that’s really smart.

So I have a new best friend.

That was Friday after work. On Monday, I did my weekly grocery trip, and found myself in front of the meat counter after a long hiatus. There were three clerks behind the counter — one was our sly Mr. Plastic, who was dutifully ignoring me. That made me laugh. Don’t worry, dude, you’re doing me a favor. And the young kid who stepped up to help was all, oh, yeah, just put that container on my scale, and then filled it with chicken (Abby is in the mood for a braised chicken soup this week. Who am I to crush dreams?). And THEN, because apparently he didn’t think he had been awesome enough yet, told me that he appreciated that I brought my own container.

Are you kidding me? How many best friends do I need?


Emboldened by all this container-love, I decided to scope out the sprinkles situation in the bakery. Johanna has been in the mood, and I thought that maybe we could get some bulk sprinkles if we asked.

Well, disappointment: The lady very nicely told me that I could pick out packaged sprinkles (who knew they had packaged sprinkles in the bakery?) and she would put those in my jar. I was like, um, then what happens to the container? She said it would go in the trash.

Johanna looked at me with those blue eyes, and I … asked her for ideas on reusing the container. I can put my hair ties in it, she said immediately, because Abby is always stealing them.

We bought the sprinkles. Which she put into a jar once we got home and yes, that container now holds her hair ties. Not a perfect solution, but sometimes it feels good to say yes.

Next up: It’s hard to believe we’re looking at a new year.