Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Recently got to see a tree decorated with real candles. Mildly terrifying. Totally beautiful. 

Wishing you a week that can be described the same way, whether you're spending your time celebrating the holidays, gearing up for the new year or a mixture of the two!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Support Great People, Finish Your Holiday Shopping - Accomplish All The Things!

Happy Holidays, all!

If you're anything like me, you had the best intentions of being done with all your shopping by Thanksgiving and keep realizing that there's someone else you need to buy for. So, in the interest of being helpful and giving a big THANK YOU to all the amazing companies and individuals who donated to the RAINN Down Hope Dinner Auction (still a few days left to participate!), I present to you a list of awesome people and places who probably have the perfect gift you're looking for.

How could I not kick this off with a suggestion to buy people books. OF COURSE we should all be buying people books. But when you're trying to decide on that perfect tome this holiday season, start with these phenomenal authors:

And then, for any music lovers out there, there is the great Carole King, who donated a signed CD for the auction. You can't go wrong with getting her music for a loved one.

Know someone who likes spectacular photography? Check out Kerri Socha's work!

Trying to find the perfect gift for a theater lover? The Kennedy Center has got you covered.

Looking for a unique present for the relative who has it all?
Mission Cute

For the sports enthusiast:
Harlem Globetrotters
New York Jets

Know someone who loves SF/F? Even if the cast & crew of SyFy's Haven hadn't donated two signed DVD sets, I'd be telling you that if you're not watching that show, you should be. If you are watching that show, you know I'm right. Seasons 1-4 are on DVD now.

Know someone who doesn't need any more clutter in their lives? Give them an experience:
The Chew
Live with Kelly & Michael
Six Flags Great Adventure
Spirit Cruises

For those in the New York area:
The Argyle Grill
Berger Bros Digital Photography & Video
Camelot Specialty Limos
Captain Bill's
Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery
Design Masters Salon
Gemaginations, Ltd.
Great South Bay YMCA
Hotel Indigo East End
The Lobster Roll
Magic Paws 
Mulberry St.
Ghosts of New York Walking Tours 
Pindar Vineyards
Pugliese Vineyards
Racine Salon & Spa
The Rinx
Riverhead Tanger Outlets
Torta Fina Bakery
United Skates of America
Willy Nilly

Have you found yourself in Portland, Maine? Visit these places!
Gelato Fiasco
Vena's Fizz House
Westin Portland Harborview

Know someone who drops their phone with the frequency that I do? (The frequency in question being rather high.) Check out Otter Box.

Finally, if you have anyone on your list, who needs anything at all. I can't imagine you wouldn't be able to find it at TJ Maxx/Marshall's/HomeGoods.

All right, now I need to go get a few more gifts for folks. So, off with you! Finish your holiday shopping! Support those who do good!

And have a lovely afternoon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

RAINN Down Hope Recap: The Picture Edition

Hello all!

I figured the following awesome pictures merited a special weekend post. I am so honored to have been in the presence of all these people only a week ago. 

I can say, without doubt, that on any day that seems even a little gloomy, I will be coming back to these pictures to bask, not only in the generosity of these folks, but how happy they look while offering it. 

Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

RAINN Down Hope Recap!

Hello all and a very happy Wednesday to you!

So, as many of you know, this past Saturday was the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner Auction and once again I have been left floored by the goodness of people.

To begin with, the generosity of donations. There were seventy-five baskets and twenty door prizes, making for a total of ninety-five gifts to win. The vast majority of these were donated by local businesses, large companies and a number of individuals looking to do good. (Check in next week for a complete list of donors - it's a great way to get ideas for your holiday shopping!)

And then there were the people. This year we came in at around 130 attendees - many attending for the second year in a row, as well as bringing some new faces. In some ways this is a "you had to be there" situation, as I find it hard to properly describe the feelings of love and camaraderie that permeated that ballroom.

Many of these people have never been directly touched by the crimes the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network works so hard to prevent, but still they came out on an extremely cold and rainy night to give of themselves. They do not need to be personally effected in their every day lives to understand the importance of RAINN and the necessity for survivors of these crimes to have access to the help and support they need.

While I think it's important to stay up to date on what's going on in the world, I find the news difficult to watch. To have twenty-four hours of a constantly updating roll of horrible events is wearing. Reading it can provide it's own challenges, particularly if you choose to read it online, as then you run the risk of getting sucked into the comments section. Rarely does any news article go unscathed by some depressing or infuriating response.

These things can warp your view of reality, can leave you with the feeling that this world is a lost cause. However, thanks to these events, I can say with confidence that such a feeling is a wrong. The bad exists, of course - and is frequently heart-breaking - but as long as I know people who are so willing to support not only loved ones, but people who they've never met and likely never will, I can't help but believe that this world is full of hope.

If I had to take any guesses as to what the secret of living a happy life is, I'd have to say surrounding yourself with good people. People who are willing to put others first and people who you are willing to put before yourself. People who are willing to give of themselves and their time and their resources.

Which brings me to an important point - the fundraiser has surpassed it's goal!! Between the money already reflected on my RAINNmakers page and the few checks I still need to send in, we are at a total of $10,780 raised! Also, there are still nine days left on the campaign, so if you're interested in making a donation, you've got time - just head over here and do your stuff!

I am so insanely grateful right now. And, once again, I find myself in the perfect frame of mind to enter the holiday season and I will do my best to carry the feelings from Saturday night into the new year.

Hope to have some pictures to share from the event soon. Check back in!  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Almost Time!

Greetings all and a belated very happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrated last week!

Sorry for the brief radio silence. Between the start of the holiday season and preparing for the auction, every day is something akin to me waking up and running through the hallways, arms waving, rambling incoherent bursts of anxiety and excitement. You know, just being the usual calm, cool and collected. 

I had a lot of things to be thankful for this year, but without a doubt my biggest debt of gratitude goes to all those who have supported this month's event - both in person and from a distance. 

Though it is certainly not the first time I've experienced this, it never fails to overwhelm (in a good way) to see so many people going out of their way to offer support, no matter what is going on in their own lives. Knowing so many people who are willing to put others first makes it pretty much impossible to lose hope in this world. 

The dinner auction is this Saturday! *cue arm waving and ramblings* I am so extremely excited for this night. For one, I need to get the auction baskets out of the house. I'm pretty sure the house is beginning to sink into the ground under the weight of everyone's endless generosity. Far more importantly, is that I get to be in the same room as a good percentage of the most wonderful people I've ever had the privilege to know.  

In addition to being able to give our donation to RAINN next week, supporting sexual assault survivors over the holiday and into 2015, the end of the auction will also mark the beginning of having regular writing time once again. So many things to look forward to!

Also, more reading time! I'll definitely be hitting up Jeff Guinn's The Autobiography of Santa Claus again, but I'd love some more holiday reading suggestions. Leave them in the comments!

If you're interested in donating to RAINN through the RAINN Down Hope Event, you can do so at my RAINNmakers page

Also, vote here for RAINN to be Mission Cute's January Nonprofit Partner! If RAINN gets the most votes, then 50% of Mission Cute's January proceeds will go straight to the organization.

Look for an recap of the fundraiser next week!