Winter survival

God, I just hate the winter.  It’s dark, it’s cold, and my body tries to shut down.  The only saving grace about winter is the pretty snow, but even that turns into an annoyance after awhile.  Each year I dread the coming winter.  This year, I’ve very deliberately gathered some things around me that help me cope, and I’ve made sure I don’t run out.

One of my biggest issues is my dry, uncomfortable skin.  I was especially out of my mind last year when we lived in a house with forced hot air heating.  This year isn’t as bad because we have comfy hot-water radiators (my favorite, and a must-have in any house we buy).  But I still need help.

This is a major favorite, courtesy of Sabon NYC. I recently ordered one, but can’t get it open! So for now I’m using something from Target. This is one of the best scrubs I’ve ever used. Not only does it exfoliate, but it also leaves behind a trace of it’s skin-loving oils.


After exfoliation comes more oil. This is the massage oil, as opposed to the shower oil I first used. The shower version is meant to be rinsed off; massage lotion can stay on and be absorbed. And my body just soaks it up.


My face is no exception to winter’s cruelty. Murad products were recommended to me at one of my facial sessions at Massage Envy. I figured it was just some garbage they get a kickback for marketing, but I tried it because the facial gal told me that if I need to put lotion on the second I get out of the shower because of how dry my face already was, I was using the wrong cleanser. And to its credit, this does not cause that to happen. My face still feels moist and supple when I leave the shower.


Then this happens. Toner.


Then this. Renewal complex.


Then this. Night moisture. There is also a day moisture that has 15spf.


Then, finally, the body lotion. This is from Firebird Bath&Body on Etsy. It’s the perfect body butter.


Can’t forget this for the places on my back I can’t reach.


For my hands. Sometimes, even the best lotion can’t stop my hands from hurting. That’s when I pull this out.

So that’s my routine.  Yes, it takes awhile.  Yes, I do it every day.  Sometimes I skip the exfoliation if I’m not feeling well or quite tired.  But without this regimen, my skin dries out so badly that it hurts.  The pain sometimes keeps me awake at night, believe it or not.  How ridiculous is that?  Hate it or loathe it, this is what I need to do to stay properly moisturized.

Notice that I didn’t include prices… dot dot dot



GTFO 2016

I bet they won't even share with that boy.  How rude.

It is just so very me to make my New Year’s post on January 2nd.

Thanks to a glitch in the matrix (or whatever we’re calling our basement server collection), I lost access to this blog for awhile.  And that’s fine, because I’m the only one who reads it.  Ben was kind enough to fix the problem after I went crying to him, thinking I had done something wrong.  For once, I’m not to blame.

I know this will lead to rotten vegetables being thrown in my general direction, but 2016 was actually a damn good year for us.  Ben’s business took off and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon; I studied medieval book conservation and construction in Italy; I met with professors at various universities in anticipation of apply to their PhD programs; my spinal surgery was a success; I joined a band; I set up personal training and have regular gym schedule; Jewel’s House got lots of new fans and donors.  I could go on.

This coming year, we’re planning on buying a house.  It might not actually happen until January of 2018, but we’re doing the legwork in the coming months.  This will mean a facility for Jewel’s House, and lots of space for animals to run.  In addition to the PhD programs, I’m applying to an MA in music, and a vet tech program online through Purdue.  This last is something I think will only help Jewel’s House as an organization, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m also doing a yoga teacher training course this year, which will give me the 200 hour certification, and allow me to teach classes.  And there are just a ton of other great things lined up for 2017.

I really hope this is a better year in general than the last.  But with our anticipated government situation, I doubt it will be.  The best we can do is to make our own lives better.  The president might be a crazy person, but that doesn’t stop us from learning a new language, eating better, adopting a new family member, etc.

Here’s to a better 2017.


Wings of love


Last week we rescued another one-eyed cat from a high-kill shelter in Baltimore.  I figured she wouldn’t last long there, so we sprang her and brought her to a new home with a friend of mine in Tennessee.  Sweet little Caroline remained sweet through the drama of bringing her into our home for fostering, of seeing the ophthalmologist, and of spending the day in a noisy airplane.  She did not say a peep the entire ride, which was nothing short of a miracle.  She dealt with so many changes and scary situations, but still nuzzled me when I held her.  Such a good girl, Caroline!

She is now bonding with her new mom, and even puts up with the resident dogs.  We are all so happy she went to such a good home, and that she is flourishing with her new family.

I’d never been in a small plane like this before, so it was an adventure for me as well.  Once I stopped thinking I was going to die, it became a really neat experience.  We’re both so excited to do more rescue work in the air.

Hazel rides again


I had to lighten this picture a whole bunch, since Hazel is notoriously hard to photograph.  She chose to help me sort through some jewelry I inherited.  I appreciated her help because there was a lot of it.  Plenty of the jewelry made it into an auction to benefit the Springer rescue I work with.  Hazel was happy to lend a hand to a good cause.

She had one of her eyes removed in June, and there were complications.  Our friends at VCA in Gaithersburg MD helped her on the road to healing.  I couldn’t ask for a better vet/ER hospital.  She had another surgery today, and hopefully that will be the end of this issue.  Ten more days in a cone, and then she can get back to being a happy, healthy kitty.

Hazel has been through so much already in her life, from being a stray trying to fight off raccoons, to her body rejecting her teeth, to the eye problem and subsequent complication.  I feel absolutely awful for putting her through weeks of “wait and see” and another surgery, but this issue is one she can fully recover from, so I think I did the right thing.  It’s never easy.  Plus the wound has been pretty hard to look at, and I’m all out of Xanax.  So it hasn’t been a joyride for me either.

Tonight Hazel is in a great mood, playful, feisty, and exploring her living space more than she has in a very long time.  She’s doing really well for a kitty who just had surgery.  Maybe I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing she is feeling better.

Our fall Yankee Candle fundraiser is a go!



Go to and enter our group number, 990103069.  Shop as usual, and items will be delivered to your door.  You don’t have to do anything special aside from entering our group number, and Jewel’s House Animal Sanctuary will get 40% of your total spent (minus shipping).  And free shipping for orders over $100.

Summer is awesome

Ben and I moved our menagerie (3 cats and 2 dogs, of course) to DC this summer, just before I left for Italy.

Read that again.

We moved a week prior to me going overseas for a month.

Why yes, it HAS been a hectic time.


But we’re settling in.  I’m liking DC much more than I thought I would.  My first experience with living in an actual major city was Baltimore, and I thought DC would be much of the same.  For the record, Baltimore is pit.  Just.. don’t go there.  We lived in a great little pocket, but were surrounded by unpleasantness.  And that’s how it goes in Bawlmr.

DC is something different.  Our neighborhood is old, quirky houses with slightly overgrown yards.  I can walk to a small market with the dogs.  I can take the bus from the corner, down the road, and land at Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, World Market, etc.  Then it’s a very short walk to Tiffany’s, Jimmy Choo, and the like.  Not too bad.

One thing I hated about Baltimore was the drivers.  Maryland drivers are the worst I’ve ever encountered in my life, and I’m from New Jersey.  Again, I thought DC would be much of the same.  But people here pay a bit more attention.  The traffic around here isn’t horrific, even at rush hour, and I can get where I need to go at any time of the day with little problem.

Our house was more than slightly overgrown, and it cost $800 for the landscaper to clear things out.  He destroyed the weeds, cut back the bushes and whatnot, and put down mulch.  It was worth it.  I enjoy being outside even more now that it’s cleaned up.  Farming is  going surprisingly well.  Things actually grow here!


My attempt at adding pictures of my garden has failed, and I’m too drunk on migraine medicine to correct the problem.  Instead, enjoy a picture of Matisse, a great cat up for adoption at the Seal Beach Animal Care Center in Seal Beach, CA.







The place where Caesar was stabbed. It is now a cat sanctuary. Rome, Italy.


I’ve spent the last three weeks in Italy doing a course on bookbinding and book conservation.  It’s been a great program.  We have weekends off, which has allowed us to explore Italy on our own.  One of my housemates and I spent two nights in Rome, seeing as many sights as we possibly could.  In addition to the usual tourist-y stuff, we found some silly, off the wall stuff, like this random cat sanctuary.  The cats here are fed and cared for by local vets.  It’s not ideal, but certainly better than nothing.

But as fun as this trip has been, I’m looking forward to getting home.  We moved right before I came here, and I didn’t have time to do much unpacking or (any) decorating.  Making this house ours is something I just cannot wait to start.  I’ve got a new garden to tend to as well.  Music things have been on hold, as have animal rescue things.  And of course there are my own animals, and my sweet Ben.  Was I crazy to leave all that for a month?  Maybe, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn such great skills.  I’m excited to come home and start building books on my own.



Dog things

Sullivan and Maggie

On the 18th we got a new pup.  Maggie is the sweetest, gentlest dog.  Her foster mom called her a “female Bucky”, and I’d have to agree with that.  She’s very calm, and lets you do anything to her.  She just goes with the flow.  Hopefully some of her calmness will rub off on Sully, who earlier managed to launch himself through the air in my direction.  I guess no one told him that he’s 9 years old.

This weekend we have our friend’s dog, Zoey.  She and Sully were fast friends this summer when we first babysat her.  When her dad brought her over, Sully checked her out, but must have remembered who she was, because he didn’t growl at all.  And of course, Maggie was completely fine with this new dog being in her space.  Zoey has since tried to play with Maggie, but Mags doesn’t understand.

I’m trying to take it easy this weekend because I haven’t been feeling well.. AND I nearly sprained my foot (again) last night.  Let’s see how much rest these three allow me.

Long time, no blog

Today is officially fall, and since my last post was in May, it means I managed to go the entire summer without posting.  To be fair, it’s been a busy one.  In order to be closer to Ben’s job, we moved.  Even though we had folks come in and pack for us, it was still the worst move we’ve ever experienced.  The movers were actually awesome, but their company made some fairly ridiculous demands of their time, which impacted us negatively.  Ben and I both did a lot of work ourselves, trying to get everything out the door, as well as cleaning up the house for the landlord.  Our new place is great, but it’s a house that needs quite a bit of work.  Still, it’s bigger, brighter, and the yard is amazing.  The neighborhood is much, much quieter.

We’re in the process of buying our own house.  The process is one of the most annoying I’ve ever encountered.  It was fun.. four years ago when we started looking.  But now, after having my heart broken so many times (don’t even get me started about the farm), I’m just angry.  And being angry does not translate into working well with others, being reasonable about the process, or any of the other things I’d need to do to make this happen.  So, I’ve officially removed myself from the entire thing.  I simply can’t do it anymore.  I’m leaving it to Ben.  And if we aren’t able to move into our own space by the time this lease is up, I’m going to the Bahamas for yoga teacher training.  Not only can’t I participate in this anymore, but I refuse to have anything to do with finding and moving into yet another rental.  Nope.

Bahamas.  Sunshine.  Peace.


Sivananda Ashram, Nassau, Bahamas



SPCA foster kittens

IMG_20150510_190050670Crimson, Clover, and Annie

The SPCA asked me to foster two 3-day-old bottle babies, and how could I say no?  After about four weeks of feeding them every four hours (exhausting), I was finally able to switch them to kitten food from a can.  That very day, my neighbor found a week-old kitten and needed help caring for it.  Since I was already fostering Crimson and Clover, I figured one more couldn’t hurt.  So I took her and named her Annie.  The SPCA accepted her into their program and gave her some much-needed medical attention.  She was so sick!  Once she got better, I introduced her to the other two.  And right now they’re sleeping all in a pile.