2019 Lists: Books Read


My main reading goal this year was to have finished five books that gave me trouble over the last few years. Meaning, I started the book, and then put it down, and then never got to the end. Whether the story was boring, or the content seemed too daunting, or perhaps I wasn’t in the right headspace to tackle the thoughts or the writing at the time–whatever the reason, the goal was to finish five such titles before the year’s end.


I finished exactly one of those books: The King of Elfland’s Daughter. Which was a sort of excruciating read and if you ask me, there wasn’t nearly enough of the titular daughter in it! No matter. It is done and finished and I need never look at it again. As for the other four books, well. That just didn’t happen.*  But I did supplement with at least 70 other books that I wasn’t even supposed to be reading!

*I think I will try to work at least one of each in over the next few years.



In previous years I’d gotten quite a bit more reading done, but this year I was actually writing a book…and so for a good chunk of the year, the writing took precedence over the reading–reading for pleasure, anyway. There was a lot of reading for research, which just isn’t as fun. Even when the research-reading is something that you are interested in and have a passion for! Whatever “It” is, if you’re obligated to be doing It, It’s never as fun as the stuff you’re not doing. That’s just how it works!

Anyway, that project, while not completely finished, is a good 75% done, and after working on it in late spring-all summer–early fall, I felt it was finally safe to start reserving books at the library again. I’m afraid that for a few weeks there, I might have gone a little nuts.


library 2 library 3

With regard to my 2019 reads*, reviews, and resulting recommendations? Well, I’ve probably reviewed them already at Haute Macabre or will be doing so shortly, but feel free to peek over there under the “stacked” tag if you are curious about my thoughts of any of these.

However, if you want to skip all of that and get straight to my favorites, I will recommend the following because they were fantastic and might even warrant a second read some year in the far-flung future.

*read by me in 2019, though not necessarily published in 2019

Fiction picks of 2019
The Ten Thousand Doors Of January by Alix Harrow
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Frankisstein by Jeannette Winterson
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Non-fiction, Essays, and Memoir Picks of 2019
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Body Horror: Capitalism, Fear, Misogyny, Jokes by Anne Elizabeth Moore
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
Waking The Witch by Pam Grossman. I am not sure why this title didn’t show up in my Goodreads imagery above, maybe I forgot to record it? One thing I definitely did not forget to do though, is write a pretty detailed book report on it for Haute Macabre earlier this summer!

What did you read in 2019 that you would recommend to a friend? Or possibly recommend to a friend who also happens to be me?

2019 Lists: Film & Television Consumed


Throughout the year I keep an ongoing list in google docs of all of the movies and television series I have watched, and then I unceremoniously dump in on the blog here for posterity. This is not necessarily media that was released during 2019 (although some of it was) but 2019 was the year that I got around to viewing it. I don’t suppose this is of interest to anyone but me, but I do like to keep a record of how I spent (wasted?) my time during the year.

Standouts and favorites are marked with an asterisk, but I think what I loved the most were a handful of fantastical, eerie, enchanting television shows, and I am fairly certain they were all on Netflix: The second seasons of The OA and Dark, as well as the first season of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. In terms of film, I really did love Knife + Heart, and Into the Spiderverse was surprisingly awesome and a total treat for the eyes.

What were your film and television favorites from 2019?

dark crystal

1/? finished Castle Rock S1
1/? Into The Spiderverse*
1/? Started True Detective S3
1/? More Frankie and Grace S?
2/5 Russian Doll*
2/6 Velvet Buzzsaw
2/15 Suspiria
2/23 Valerian
2/23 Lego Movie
2/24 The Hangover
2/27 Sorry To Bother You*
3/4 Tale of Tales
3/? The Little Stranger
3/7 Captain Marvel
3/9 The Order S1
3/10 The Nun
3/? The OA S2*
3/23 Us*
4/? Killing Eve S2
4/? Game of Thrones
4/3 Crimes Of Grindlewald
4/5 Akira
4/6 Blade The Immortal
4/7 Sabrina Season 2
4/11 Shazaam
4/29 Avengers Endgame
5/9 Pyewacket
5/12 Down A Dark Hall
5/16 The Favorite
5/17 Big Little Lies S1
5/18 Fleabag S2
5/20 Crazy Rich Asians
6/? Good Omens
6/12 Dark Phoenix
6/13 Maleficent
6/15 Always Be My Maybe
6/24 started Schitt’s Creek
July? Midsommar
July? Dark S2*
July? Stranger Things
8/6 What We Do In The Shadows S1*
8/6 Greta
8/23 SheRa S3
8/27 Dragula S3
9/6 Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance S1*
9/? Carnival Row S1
9/20 Happy Death Day 2U
9/26 AHS S9
9/27 The Accountant (don’t ask)
9/29 Training Day (also don’t ask)
9/29 Knife + Heart*
10/? Barry*
10/? Peaky Blinders S5
10/? Marianne S1
11/? The Good Place S1
11/? Toast of London S3
11/? Derry Girls S2
11/? NOS4A2 Season 1
12/? Castle Rock S2
12/? Lodge 49 S1
12/15 The Mandalorian S1
12/21 Ready Or Not
12/23 Cat’s Eye
12/24 The Rise Of Skywalker


Currently: End Of 2019 Edition But Don’t Call It A Wrap-Up Because Nothing Is Wrapped Up


In previous years I have done year-end, wrap-up sorts of things on this blog, but you know– I just don’t feel like it this go-round. And not even because I’m feeling low, or that there’s not much to report on. There was quite a lot! It’s been an interesting year for sure–some of it maybe more than I even bargained for. But I guess we can never really know what we’re getting into, what’s in store for us.

I guess I’m feeling, well, that I know what I accomplished (and what I didn’t)  in 2019 and maybe I just don’t need to talk about it or share. And it also occurs to me that many aspects of my year remain a work in progress. I haven’t wrapped up much of anything at all! And I’m okay with that! And I will probably even change my mind next year, if indeed in 2020 I have a list of things to share. But eh, this year I will give it a pass.

Instead, just a few diary-like peeks into the last two months, a record of days.


As I have done previously in the past few years, anytime I am between more exciting projects, I feverishly knit a few squares for my baby sister’s divorce blanket. Her divorce was final two years ago, so as I say every time I bring this up– I really need to pick up the pace. I know! Also, the woman is almost 40. But I can’t not think of her as my baby sister.





In November I had a week to myself and I treated myself to a Fuck Off World! weekend, which I have written about before, but in recent years I like to think I have improved the formula. It still involves solitude and massive amounts of puttering, but instead of eating caveman frat-bro meals (I still love you though, Cheeto-burrito!) I have been trying to treat myself better by treating myself to proper meals. So I guess this is a “Fuck Off World! weekend–But Make It Fancy.”

Above is a bowl of porridge which you probably do not need a recipe for, a lunch of burrata and tiny tomatoes, broiled salmon and garlicky mashed potatoes with kale, and a loaf of cranberry-ginger bread that I made in an attempt to use up leftover homemade cranberry sauce. The recipe is actually for muffins, but I feel very this way about muffins ( but substitute muffins for froyo and donuts for ice cream) so I do not make them. Also, during Thanksgiving, someone complained about my cranberry sauce being too bitter and I’m still feeling peevish about that…don’t complain about my food to my face!

golden milk

I am always intrigued by trendy hot drinks. I mean, I am also always late to the party, so golden milk was probably trendy in 2017, but whatever. Unfortunately, every time I have been out and about and ordered golden milk at a coffee shop, it’s always been pretty awful. Chalky and somehow both overly sweet and bitter at once. See how I did that? I waited til I was out of earshot to complain! Anyway, last month I found a recipe for it over at Pick Up Limes and it was actually really lovely! I’d also love to give her chai hot chocolate a try. Maybe later in January, while we still have some chilly days. Though it’s going to be 80 degrees on January 2nd, so who knows? That’s what AC is for, I guess.

Although I have not begun to read them, I am super excited about both of these books! Emma WhispersRed has put out an ASMR guide/memoir (?) called Unwind Your Mind and one of my favorite bloggers, The Ghost In My Machine has published a really fun looking little book, Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark. I initially found The Ghost In My Machine after hearing about The Elevator Game (where did I first hear about that? Probably Tanis, a podcast that freaked me out so badly that I had to stop listening for a while, and I never did pick it up again.)

Not pictured and which I actually am currently reading and which seems very, very valuable thus far: Pixie Lighthorse’s Goldmining The Shadows, a book for personal and collective healing. It’s available on Kindle Unlimited right now, and I have highlighted the heck out of it, but there’s just something about having a physical copy to flip through and underline with a pen held in your hand, marked passages to come back to again and again for revisiting and reflection.

Here is a quote that I loved, and which may not mean much taken out of context, but then again, maybe it will mean a great deal to you. It’s a powerful thought:

“No amount of punishing yourself will ever result in peace.”

I just purchased the book itself, and two more copies for future gifting.


Lastly, …speaking of gifting. Or rather, not gifting. Or rather, agreeing not to gift and then sort of gifting anyway: this year, in our house, we decided not to exchange gifts. It’s too much pressure and sometimes it feels a little wasteful (especially when you’ve gotten someone a gift, “just to get them something”) and it just ends up not being very much fun. Don’t get me wrong, I like gifts, and I am pretty sure that my partner does as well. But I think we have discovered that we prefer random, “just because” gifts, not this fraught, enforced tradition of family gift-giving that happens around the holidays.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get his family on board with this idea, but since we are the bosses of our own household, we decided we’d control what we could, and concede where we couldn’t, and it would be ok. And it was! And after all that, we decided that we would purchase a Soda Stream-esque “sparkling beverage maker” (it’s actually by Kitchen Aid) as a gift “for the house.” We drink a lot of fizzy water in this house, and we thought it might be good to cut down on the cans and the packaging we consume, and the waste we create but also and more importantly I refuse to drink even a single drop more of a beverage that refuses to pronounce itself correctly.

Yes, these are the hills that I will die on.

As the last few hours of 2019 crowd in and remind me of all that’s left undone for the year year, I do not want to let this moment pass without thanking you for peeking in and reading here at Unquiet Things; for encouraging me and supporting me, for challenging me, for being my friend, or at least a sometimes acquaintance! Thank you and all the best, most wonder-filled of wonderful to you and yours–this year, next year, and always.

How To Wear A Farewell (To 8tracks)

HTW feature

I reckon I was not surprised to get an email yesterday from my favorite “mixtape” site, 8tracks, informing its users that within less than a week’s time, they’d be shutting down.

I’ve loved 8tracks ever since I first discovered it and it’s been the sonic palette upon which I painted a lot of my feels over the past decade, both those of profound melancholic and wild, ecstatic delirium. But nothing lasts forever, I suppose.

I used to make a habit of creating an ensemble for every mix I made, but then when Polyvore disappeared (ugh, so many shutting of doors in recent years!) I let that fall by the wayside. I haven’t much of an excuse as I found a site that’s every bit as good as Polyvore, but somehow… it’s just not the same.

In the spirit of those good old days though, here’s an farewell ensemble that I put together to pair with the last mix I created at 8tracks. Details can be found at urstyle.

P.S. I’ve just spent the last 8 hours importing all of my 8tracks mixes to Spotify, which I realize isn’t ideal, but it’s the best option I’ve got for now. You can find me here.

P.P.S. Curious about the art I used in my 8tracks mixes? I share a little bit about that over at Haute Macabre today!


10 Things That Keep My Spirits Up As Winter Darkness Descends By Allison Felus

Snow sucksIs it profoundly uncool to talk about how often I look at my blog’s stats? I guess I just like to know where people are coming from and what they are interested in, I can’t help it! It’s probably less uncool than googling yourself, though? Right? Which I don’t do…but that’s only because I have a very common name and there’d be no point in digging through all of the search results, heh. Otherwise, I’d probably be looking myself up on the internet all of the time.

It was one morning that I was poring over the statistics for Unquiet Things I saw that one of the referring sites was an actual website–a proper blog– and this always excites me. (Mostly my referral stats are just pinterest or tumblr, or what seems like shady fake traffic sites.) When I peeked in at some of the content, I was so pleased to find out there was a real human behind it, with real thoughts and feelings that I could oftentimes very much relate to! And that is how I first became aware of Allison Felus, and whose thoughtful, balanced, and informative writing I often find myself returning to because I find it so wonderfully warm and restorative– and I am so happy she is sharing her spirited voice and thoughts today at Unquiet Things, in our last Ten Things of 2019!

Allison Felus is a writer, musician, and psychic living in Chicago. Find her online at Queen of Peaches or check out her latest zine, The Last Band of My Youth . Read further for her ten things to keep your spirits up as the winter darkness descends.

Alison Felus

I grew up in Indiana and have lived in Chicago for close to two decades now. So it feels a bit disingenuous to complain about the winter. It gets cold here! It’s dark and it snows a lot! That’s what it does! I feel like such a whiny baby for even making an issue about it. I mean, I guess I could move somewhere else? But my family ties are in the Midwest and my day job doesn’t afford me the ability to work remotely, so really, I just have to make the best of it.


Smelly Things

So much of my resistance to winter centers around the physical hardships it entails. Unshoveled sidewalks make getting around the city on foot so much more difficult and time-consuming. The harsh temperatures wreak havoc on my hair and skin (both the harsh outdoor cold and the harsh indoor radiator heat). The hours of darkness trigger my SAD. So anything that provides a little bit of sensory pleasure in the midst of all that is, to me, worth its weight in gold. Knowing that gorgeous bath products await me in the shower is sometimes the only thing that gives me enough motivation in the morning to stumble out of bed and into the bathroom.

I find it increasingly difficult to deal with LUSH’s sales tactics anymore (the emotional labor it requires, as Victoria of EauMG has so aptly put it), so though I will occasionally cave in for the sake of a bottle of Rose Jam shower gel, my main bath-time love these days is Paintbox Soapworks

I started buying my partner their shaving soaps a few years ago when he was finding it more difficult to source the brand he always used to use, and that was gateway drug enough for me. My love for all their products has blossomed into a genuine obsession since then. (I’m wearing their Mandinka perfume oil as I type this, in fact.) The seasonal blends are always impeccable; this fall’s What the Moon Brings and Cathedral of Pumpkins were big loves, and I’m still hoarding the last dregs of a bottle of the Kamasi Washington-inspired Secrets of the Sun lotion from this summer’s release. Between seasonal offerings, though, I gravitate toward anything scented with the previously mentioned Mandinka as well as Blackbird, Whiskers, and Nekisse.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


I love coffee. I just do. I’m not really a snob about beans or specific methods of preparation (this tender essay “The Case for Bad Coffee has long stuck with me). I’m just grateful that I live in a world where it’s abundant and readily available. However, I seem to have inherited my grandmother’s sensitivity to caffeine. (I remember being horrified as a teenager when I heard her say that the caffeine from even the tiniest piece of chocolate would be enough to keep her up all night.) I’ve never been a multiple-pots-per-day drinker, but when I started to notice that even a cup or two in the morning would be enough to disrupt my ability to fall, and stay, deeply asleep, I mourned having to give up that bit of morning pleasure.

I tried every possible substitute–tea/matcha, hot chocolate/ceremonial cacao, Dandy Blend, even a DIY carob-based concoction that I dutifully mixed up myself from a combination of powdered roots purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs. Until I realized, uh, decaf coffee exists.

The overly, unhelpfully logical part of my brain protested a bit–“if the whole purpose of drinking coffee is to get the energetic and cognitive boost from the caffeine, then what is the bloody point of drinking decaf?!” But eventually, I realized that it was never actually about the caffeine; it was about the ritual of it. Boiling the water, grinding the beans and scooping the grounds, waiting patiently for it to brew, then pouring it, hot and fragrant, into a treasured mug. So now I allow myself to enjoy the ritual for the sake of itself. These days I just make the generic Whole Foods decaf in a French press and finish it with a plop of coconut cream. It’s just so brilliantly comforting on a cold morning.

light box

Light box

Does a light box actually do anything? Is it just (“just”) the placebo effect? To me, it’s a bit like the old saw about it being better to believe in God on the off chance that God exists than to not believe in God and risk the consequences of unbelief, eg, there’s no real downside to using a light box if it does nothing while there’s a whole lot of upside if it actually does. And in fact, I do know that any time I start having a really whiny emotional meltdown about something seemingly insignificant, my partner is usually right when he (gently) asks me if I forgot to use my light box that morning.

I have a Verilux HappyLight, and I just turn the thing on in the bathroom, perched on a shelf, before I get into the shower so that my eyeballs are absorbing its rays while I towel off, get lotioned up, and whatnot. I’m also just constantly amused that it looks like an iPad whose sole function is to glow bright white.


Commute Soundtrack

Astrologically, the new year isn’t really until mid-March. Personally, my own new year, my birthday, is in mid-February. Academically, my partner, who teaches college, begins his new year in mid-August. But music, for me, is the one place where January actually does feel like the new year.

I’ve been compiling and writing extensive liner notes for my own personal Best of the Year mixes since 2004. (Here’s the 2019 edition!) So I spend much of early December listening back to the music that was meaningful to me throughout the previous eleven months. By the time I’ve posted my latest installment to all my socials, though, it’s a relief to my ears to abandon those songs for a while (no matter how much I love them) and start totally fresh. Since I mostly stick to new/contemporary releases for my year-end mixes, this also becomes a time for me to dip into music that’s much older or otherwise oddball and non-mixable.

Late December/early January is also the time when my commute to work can feel most miserable. It’s deeply cold, I’m bundled to my eyes, everyone is packed like sardines into the train, the Chicago skies are often leaden and grey. But, this liminal time on the train is simultaneously so, so precious to me. It’s a place where I’m temporarily free and truly alone, despite the crowds. I’ve left home and all its chores and distractions, and I’m not yet at my office where e-mails and conversations and meetings demand my constant attention. The train is one of the few places in my life that’s, oddly, just for me. So it becomes an opportunity for me to really sink into music, one of the most important, most sacred things in my life.

I can never accurately predict what kind of music is going to hit me in January, what kind of energy is going to be needed to sustain me through those bleak mornings. In recent years I’ve had major love affairs with stuff by Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, Chris Stapleton, Helen Merrill, Sammy Davis Jr., Black Sabbath, Chris Whitley, Jason Falkner, and Tim Hecker. All I know is that my heart will know it when I find it, when the promise of getting to live in a particular sonic world for 40 minutes will be enough to motivate me out the door and on my way



Haha, OK, so let’s be for real now. Therapy is obviously a must, all year round, of course, but never more so for me than in the winter.

I’ve been in therapy off and on (but mostly on) since I was 25. I’ve been lucky enough to have good health insurance that’s made that level of commitment to my mental and emotional well-being affordable and accessible, and I never take that for granted.

Earlier this year, after well over a decade of more traditional talk therapy, I switched to working with a Jungian practitioner. I took the leap not long after I turned 40, as a way of acknowledging my growing sense that the way I take care of myself in the second half of my life is going to require a radically renewed commitment to inner accountability. So, sometime in late summer, as the shadows began to get longer and deeper earlier in the evening, I prepped my new therapist for the fact that the winter can be a difficult time for me and that I would likely need some extra help and support to get me through it. Her response was nothing short of revolutionary: “what if instead of trying to fight or resist it, you accepted the suffering you experience during the winter?”

My whole spirit released a level of tension that I didn’t realize it had been holding onto. Wow. Accept my own suffering? Rather than running away from it or otherwise attempting to bypass it? A challenging notion, to be sure, but one that holds the promise of a kind of radical reclamation of my all-too-human dark side that I’d previously been missing out on due to my unconscious internal insistence that life must feel “good” in order to be valid.

It remains to be seen how I’ll feel about this approach as the calendar ticks through the darkest and coldest months ahead. But actively preparing to get my Persephone on has already helped me feel a little better about facing down the darkness both within and without.

buddha hall altar offerings


This is where I extol the virtues of meditation and talk about how, after years and years of practice, meditation gets super easy and is definitely something I do consistently every day, right? LOL, wrong, so wrong.

Look, yes, I’ve had some sort of meditation practice since I was fairly young. I briefly attended karate classes at a local rec center when I was in middle school and somehow, even in the extremely square environs of Northwest Indiana in the early ’90s, the teachers were able to convey to us some basic notions about the power of our thoughts and the possibility of focusing our own internal energy. OMG, hearing all that, I was hooked. I’ve actively sought out so many different methods and techniques and approaches to meditation since then. Truly, meditation is one of my greatest passions in my life. But if you think for a damn moment that there aren’t straight-up WEEKS when I’m like, “nah,” well, then, my Gemini-rising-ass distractibility would like a word with you.

That being said, aside from an equally important journaling practice, meditation is basically the only place where I can access that elusive state of being where I’m able to both accept myself as I am while also tinkering under the hood, so to speak, to tweak the internal mechanics that drive me. Which is an important place to go to if I’m meant to make friends with the messages that my winter-specific misery is trying to send me.

second sleep

Second Sleep

Have you all heard about the concept of second sleep? I love it so much. The idea is that in times before electrical lighting, most people went to bed not long after the sun went down. So in the winter, that means they were going to bed fairly early in the evening, and after sleeping for those first several hours, they’d wake up for a while in the middle of the night before going back to bed again until sunrise. In those precious midnight hours, they would read, pray, or have sex (basically all my favorite things).

I definitely don’t go to sleep when the sun goes down, but even just acknowledging these archaic rhythms is enough to inspire me not to resist my impulse to go to bed early. I was such a confirmed night owl throughout my youth that I long felt like going to bed early was some kind of indication that I’d lost my edge or otherwise gone soft. But, I also LOVE to sleep and need to get plenty of it to have a baseline level of coherence and emotional stability, so the more I thought about it, I figured what could be more badass (and frankly even anti-capitalist) than going to bed super early and then reclaiming a few stolen moments in the middle of the night untouched by the demands of the outside world?

In the years when I was drinking fully caffeinated coffee, I would dread waking up in the middle of the night, because that usually meant my thoughts and my heart were racing and that I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep easily and would be a groggy mess by the time I had to officially get up for work. But now that I’ve weaned myself off that caffeine cycle and have learned to trust my body’s signals a bit better, I almost look forward to an hour or so of overnight wakefulness. It gives me a weird freedom, an “I’m alone at the bottom of the sea where no one can find me” vibe.


The gym

BIG eye roll here. I’m your typical unathletic book nerd who has always dreaded all manner of sweat and exercise and frankly anything that required extra physical exertion. But the (boring) fact remains that everything in my life functions a little better when I’m getting some sort of regular movement in. During the warmer (or at least non-snowy) months of the year, I walk outside a lot. I’m lucky that Chicago is a pretty great city for getting around on foot, so I take advantage of that by, say, getting off the train a few stops early in order to walk a few extra blocks when I have the time to do so. But even with decent winter boots, getting around on snowy, unevenly shoveled sidewalks can be treacherous, so I definitely make more of an effort to get myself to the gym this time of year to compensate.

After years of punitive exercising meant to neutralize or ideally reverse caloric consumption, I finally realized that the best reason to get to the gym for 30 minutes or whatever is actually for my MENTAL health. It’s undeniable how much less prone I am to having random meltdowns or temper tantrums or can’t-get-out-of-bed doldrums when I’ve raised my heart rate beyond its resting state a few times a week. Plus, much like my daily commute on public transportation, the gym is one of the few remaining places where I get to have uninterrupted time to myself where I’m responsible to/for no one else. If I’m not listening to whatever my weirdo winter soundtrack is, I’m probably putting a dent in my podcast backlog, usually listening to the latest episodes of big faves Rune Soupor Against Everyone with Conner Habib.

bday magic

Birthday magic

I share my birthday date with Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, and Yoko Ono. Pretty auspicious, right? I remain obsessed with my birthday in a way that I think most people probably get over by the time they’re, oh, 12 or 13. But I genuinely still look forward to it every year. I get excited about it and I make sure everyone around me knows when it’s near. Part of it, I’m sure, is that I’ve internalized a lifetime of messaging that says I shouldn’t make too big a deal of myself, so my birthday provides this one socially sanctioned time when I’m allowed to celebrate not my talents or accomplishments or most lovable qualities but the MERE FACT of my existence. How wonderfully refreshing, right? “I was born and I’m still alive—give me cake and presents about it!”

But it’s also, as I mentioned above, my own personal new year, and as such a time of intense reflection for me. Oh sure, I’ll idly set new year’s resolutions and half-hearted, drunken intentions on December 31. But when those quickly reveal themselves to be utter shit, I have the opportunity in the intervening 50-ish days to think more deeply about what kind of energy I truly want to cultivate in the next year of my life.

This also is the time when I’m willing to splurge on every possible kind of bodywork and spiritual and esoteric guidance. In Chicago, I’m devoted to Vita Lerman for shiatsu, Nancy Cole for reflexology, and Jana Robison Cheffings for massage. For tarot readings, I look to Angie Yingst or Angeliska at Sister Temperance Tarot online; for psychic wisdom, Lisa Rosman of Ruby Intuition or Erin the Psychic Witch. Booking one, or several, sessions with these magical healers around my birthday is a perfect thing for me to look forward to in that post-Christmas/New Year’s letdown and before the tantalizing promise of Spring.



How incredibly obvious, right? It’s almost not even worth mentioning, especially to the crowd that gathers here at Unquiet Things. But, books! Books take on an especially magical–borderline talismanic–quality during the winter, don’t they? A to-be-read stack that feels depressingly overwhelming in warmer, busier months can suddenly become SO cozy and inviting in the cold darkness.

When friends are all hunkered down in their own houses and there are fewer reasons to venture outside to be sociable, what could be more inviting than the promise of losing oneself for a few hours in the pages of a fabulous book? The condo I live in is on the third floor of a lovely tree-lined street, and before we even moved in, I was already fantasizing about putting a couch in the sunroom so that I could recline under the windows and gaze out into a winter wonderland while curled up under a blanket with a book. Which is indeed a favorite activity, especially on long, lazy weekend afternoons.


I read way less fiction these days than I generally care to admit, but if I’m going to dive into a novel or a series, it usually happens during this winter window. (I think back fondly on the year I gulped down the entirety of the Dangerous Angels series one snowy January.) Maybe this will finally be the year I read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer or Emily Wilson’s lauded translation of The Odyssey? Looks like I’m gonna have plenty of time, soon enough, to figure that out.

Find Allison Felus: website // blog // instagram

Night Time Routines & Rituals For Sleep Seekers And Dream Gazers

 Sleeping Beauty by Edmund Dulac

Sleeping Beauty by Edmund Dulac

If I were to wait for someone to ask, “oh, Sarah, won’t you divulge your bedtime routine and rituals to us?” Well, I imagine I would be waiting a very long time indeed because unfortunately, no one ever asks me those kinds of questions. But I do enjoy talking about all things bed and sleep and dream-related, so I won’t let a little thing like lack of inquiry or interest stand in my way!


It’s funny how a lot of those zodiac memes like the above have us Taurus folks sleeping and napping all the time, our persons permanently parked in beds beautified by our need for comfort and luxury. That’s not me at all! Well, yes, yes, I like the beautiful bed part of that assumption and ok, sure, I have been known to hit the snooze alarm a few times– but I am not one to lounge and linger in bed once I am already awake. Once I am up, I am up! Otherwise, if I lay in bed not sleeping, I just start to feel antsy and peevish.  And RE: naps–I nap maybe once a year, at most. I understand that naps can be restorative, a good form of self-care, and for some individuals a necessity, and I truly do not begrudge anyone their naptime…it’s just…I’d rather be doing something. Anything. Even just puttering around! But preferably knitting or reading. Or cooking or watching a creepy film! To me, those things are almost as relaxing and recuperative as a nap, but I actually have something to show for it at the end of an hour– whether it’s a few chapters read or a few more inches completed on a handknit shawl.

I suppose that puts me in uncomfortable territory regarding our addiction to productivity culture and how we determine our worth and value based on our output and deliverables and what not. I don’t mean to do that. What’s right for you is right for you. For me, personally, napping feels like a waste of my time, and I’d rather waste my time while I’m conscious.

As I don’t nap, and I don’t linger in bed– I don’t spend much time in the bedroom other than my 6-8* hours of sleep at night. I don’t even read in bed! So the time I do spend in the bedroom is pretty special, and I like my environment and my rituals and routines surrounding that time to reflect its importance to me and to be optimized for how I like to best use the room: SLEEP.

* I was routinely getting 6-8 hours of sleep until about 2 months ago, at which point I cut it down to five. The reason for this is because I wanted extra time in the morning while it’s quiet to get in some more reading and start the day on my own terms, doing the things that I like to do. Now I am reading that 8 hours of sleep is pretty non-negotiable if you want to avoid many deleterious effects to your health. Yikes. I’ve got to re-think everything! And I guess that’s what happens when you try to get more reading done

Paolo Roversi for dazed-confused-july-2013-10

Paolo Roversi for Dazed & Confused

As the day comes to a close, but there are still a few hours left before I plan to turn in for the evening, I have a handful of pre-pre-bed items that I like to take care of. If I typically cozy up in bed around, say, 11PM, I will get to these things around 9:30 or so:

-Clean up the lingering dishes in the sink. When I stumble from bed in the morning and attempt to orient myself to the wakeful world, the last thing I want to do is be scrubbing sharp knives or stacking clanking piles of plates in the cupboard. For you, this may mean something different. Folding the laundry, tidying up, whatever. The things that need cleaning up and clearing away so that you don’t have to look at them first thing in the morning. It’s easy to say, “ugh…can’t that wait til tomorrow?” Sure it can. But then …you have to do it tomorrow. Take five minutes and do it now, instead.

-Fiber and bedtime vitamins! Yeah, I know, adequate fiber intake isn’t very glamorous, but I feel like once you reach a certain age (I’m not sure what that age is, but I am guessing I am there now) it’s just a fact of life. I mix the powdery stuff with water in a charming spring green juice glass embossed with enchanting scroll-y motifs, and pretend I am drinking a magic potion. Spellwork to keep my innards working!

-Put my phone on the charger and curl up to do something gentle and quiet for an hour, with  a cup of tea (or sometimes a glass of wine, but I am trying to break that habit.) For me, “gentle and quiet” might mean reading or working on a hands-on type of project. Sometimes this is knitting, but I feel like maybe that is not the most relatable thing to keep bringing up, so let’s say that you’re preparing your overnight oats or packing a lunch for the next day, instead. Some people might take this time to journal or write in their planners for the next day. I think the point is to start letting your brain wind down, and you probably don’t want to do this in front of a television or phone screen.

Mert & Marcus for Vogue Paris.

Mert & Marcus for Vogue Paris.

When I feel my eyes begin to grow heavy, or perhaps I’ve noticed that the hour is beginning to draw late, I have another handful of habits and practices I walk myself through before tumbling into bed:

-A skincare routine, which–I know, I know, every blogger and Instagrammer and Youtuber has got a skincare routine, and you probably don’t need to hear about one more, so I won’t bother going into that (unless you are curious? Let me know in the comments and we can tackle that in another post!) My skin has issues with redness and inflammation, and all of the products that I use are geared toward addressing that. It’s nice to go to bed with a face free of makeup, or, if like me you don’t wear much makeup, free of the grime of the day, pampered and anointed with nice, calming balms and salves.

-Cozy pajamas. I used to be super self-conscious about the size tags in my pajamas. Why? Who is even going to see that, and why on earth are they looking down the back of my pajama pants? And furthermore, if there is any time that you want to be comfy, it is definitely when you are trying to fall asleep at night. Nowadays I buy my pajama bottoms up to two sizes larger than what I might normally wear because, friends, I want elasticity and stretch. I do not want a seam caught up in my booty and suffocating my nethers all night long and I’m here to tell you, that does not lead to restful sleep. Buy your jammies for comfort! I cannot stress how much I love my Sudara pajama bottoms. I could probably wear them as loungewear if I were someone who lounges in public or actually even left the house in any capacity. But I also love this spooky-cute pair that I got from Target in October for 365 Halloween sleepy feels.

-Light stretches. I still don’t do any actual yoga. I’d love to start. Maybe in 2020, who knows! There are quite a few “yoga for sleep” videos on Youtube, which I’ve never actually followed along with, but there are two stretches in particular that I like and actually do, while lying in bed: the supine spinal twist and what I believe is called the “reclining goddess pose.” Again–I don’t know yoga, I don’t do yoga, but I think I am doing these correctly and most importantly, they just feel like a nice, much-needed unknotting before sleep.

Perla Maarek for l'Officiel magazine

Perla Maarek for l’Officiel magazine

Some sensory ambiance that helps send me off to dreamland, once I have settled in:

-Sounds. I don’t like to sleep in complete silence, and I love the sound of rain, so that’s my preferred lullaby. Sadly, it does not rain every night– nope, not even in swampy, humid FL. So we tune in to a rain channel on Youtube, darken the screen, and set a timer on the tv, and allow the pitter-patter of rain on celluloid windows lull us to sleep at night. Alternately, when I am sleeping alone, I play Mortiis’ Født til å Herskewhich is one long eerie song, split into two tracks, of the gloomiest most monotonously marvelous dungeon music. Or if I’m not quite sleepy enough and I need a little extra help along the way, I will plug in some headphones and put on the WhispersRed ASMR channel on Spotify.

-Scent. I like a bit of fragrance before turning in for the evening, but your mileage may vary on this point. I think it’s either a lovely way to calm your senses with a soothing aroma or, the chance to try something fun and new and let it completely influence your subconscious for a few hours. I have written about some of my favorite night-time scents on my personal blog, in the past, and these scents are still some of my favorites! To this, I will add that LUSH’s Sleepy lotion is the loveliest sweet lavender scent to slather yourself in before burrowing under the covers.

-(Inner) sight. If you find your thoughts racing and anxious before bed, you might employ a bit of visualization. These are two unrelated (I think) techniques that I learned from my therapist, but I typically bundle them both together at bedtime. First, I think about all the things that are plaguing me, and I open the hinge of my skull and pluck the items out, one by one (I imagine them as little people, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, wriggling with outrage!) I then plop them one by one into a jar, plink! –I envision an empty Claussen pickle jar, for some reason– screw the lid on tight and stick in the refrigerator overnight. Plague me no more, petulant pickle people!

After I’ve ousted the rabble from my brain, I take a moment to imagine somewhere that I find deeply peaceful and soothing. I breathe deeply and spend time in this space. This is a technique that my therapist encouraged me to practice with regard to finding a “safe space,” but I also think of it as a space for giving my mind a bit of tranquil beauty before slipping away to dreamland. I have for some reason chosen to conjure forth imagery of places I’ve never actually traveled, but after months of nightly visits, I don’t feel like that’s exactly true anymore. They feel very real to me now.

S. Elizabeth bed

S. Elizabeth bed 2

S. Elizabeth bed 3

-Touch/feel. This is the year that I finally committed to giving our bed situation an entire overhaul. We had been sleeping on a mattress that was very, very old, and it was time to put the old gal to rest, so to speak. We replaced it with an Airweave mattress; which, if you’re interested, is a Japanese mattress brand–and it must be noted that this thing is very, very firm. I’m still not decided on if I love it or not but I am the kind of person who will stubbornly and relentlessly stick to a decision that I made no matter what, so I guess this mattress is here to stay. I will say that it is great for sleeping on, but not so much for lounging on, so it will definitely propel you out of bed in the morning. And because it is so firm, and in case you are wondering, it is also great for other things that people might do in the bedroom…but I’m not here to talk about that. (Not today, anyhow!)

We treated ourselves to super luxurious bed linens–actual linens— from House of Baltic Linen, and I will be completely honest with you here: they are not inexpensive and you are probably going to wait a very long time for them to arrive, but they are worth every penny. Even my partner, who would normally never notice such a thing, remarked dreamily after climbing into bed “…these are so nice…” They are absolutely SO NICE.

I previously had a glorious William Morris duvet cover, but I have discovered that I utterly loathe the hassle of dealing with duvets, and I also felt that it was almost a little too colorful for the space I was trying to create, so I found a nice, lightweight linen quilt from Brook Linen. I have the black variant–which, while I didn’t want too much color, I also didn’t want to summon my inner angsty goth teen with pitch-black bedding, either–but it’s been washed a few times and has faded to a nice neutral charcoal, and it is precisely what I envisioned that it should look like. Not a Crayola explosion but not too crypt-y, either. Maybe even a little boring. But that’s ok, I’m trying to fall asleep in here, after all.

For pillows, we have a bunch of old raggedy things that lay there during the day just for looks, but as far as functional nighttime cushions for sleep, I also have a bunchy, insanely heavy buckwheat pillow for me to hug to my chest while I am sleeping, and memory foam Ghost pillows for our heads. I first slept on a Ghost Pillow at Maika’s house and it was a revelation. I immediately fell so profoundly in love that I had ordered one as soon as I woke up the next morning. Highly recommend!

another nightstand

Upon my nightstand is a small stack of books including a dream dictionary, and:
Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey by Alice Robb
A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming: Mastering the Art of Oneironautics 
Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936-1940, Carl Jung

as well as Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker, which is not pictured above, because I am currently reading it, and like I mentioned, I don’t read in bed, so it’s not even in the bedroom at the moment. Thus far it is an alarmingly eye-opening read, although the author himself has suggested that if you find your eyes slipping shut and you nod off while reading it, he is fine with that, too! All of these pages are kept company by a small but splendid altar cloth from Poison Apple Printshop, a gently-scented moon phase candle from DeuxMoons, and a gorgeous third-eye sleeping mask from Sleephammer.

Also not pictured is my dream journal, which doesn’t actually live on my nightstand. I record my dreams at the kitchen table, oddly enough. And I will share that I am not sure what initially prompted me to do this, but I take my glasses off while I am writing out my dreams, and because my vision is so poor, I have to scrunch my face down to about a half an inch from the page while I am scribbling. I look like a grade school kid taking a test and trying to make sure that no one is cheating off me, I’m sure it looks pretty ridiculous! Somehow, though, when I remove my glasses and everything becomes unfocused and insubstantial, it opens the pathways for better recall of that unconscious territory I had just been visiting. It’s a peculiar little trick that works for me!

Additionally, Naomi Brodner has a wonderful Dreaming 101 class offered via ritualcravt, where she shares some more helpful thoughts in this vein and some incredible insights and information in general. At Luna Luna magazine, Lisa-Marie Basile has some lovely ideas for keeping a dream diary, as well as other beautifully-written rituals and practices involving your dreams. Looking to the tarot to interpret some of the baffling and bizarre questions raised by your dreams? Well, perhaps you can ask Acanalogue!


dreamshelf 2

A moment of whimsy a few months ago inspired my desire to build a dream-shelf/altar (which I did not literally build, it came from West Elm) and which I have stocked with scents and oils that I use before bed, I have adorned with dreamy crystals and quartz with properties to assist in untroubled sleep and lucid dreams, and I have bedecked with blooms, that, while perhaps not associated with sleep, are shades of color that I find soft and soothing. A surreal little tintype by Wenzdai rounds out the menageries, to remind me of the important symbolism to be found in the strange stories my brain cooks up while I am slumbering.

One last thing that may be of use–do you perhaps talk in your sleep? Do you wake your partner up with your babble, but in the morning, no one quite remembers exactly what was said? Well, like they say, there’s an app for that! Do they even say this anymore? I am so out of touch. Anyway, I don’t talk in my sleep but my little sister carries on entire conversations that sound so clear you would swear there is someone else in the room responding to her. She began using a sleep recorder app so that she can eavesdrop on her nocturnal ramblings, and she routinely shares them with me for help with interpretation, or mostly, I suspect, for a laugh. She’s given me permission to share this one, (the sleep-talk is right in the first 8 seconds, afterward it’s just snores and mumbles.) She’s pretty clear and lucid sounding, so I thought this was a great example of what you might capture on a recording but of course, your mileage may vary–you might be a mumbler or a whisperer. Or a shouter! I’m excited for you to find out.

It’s a good time of year to cozy up and hibernate for a while, and while you certainly don’t need any of the things I’ve listed above for a good night’s sleep or to gain entrance to the Land of Nod, and I am in no way an authority on these matters, listed above are all of the rituals and practices that routinely help me get to the world of dreams and wake up rested afterward. Let me know if any of this helps you–or if you have any tips or tricks of your own up your cozy pajama sleeves!

Bonus! If you are looking for a few nocturnal luxuries for yourself or a friend– earlier this week I shared a wishlist of sumptuous sleepy-time favorites…!

A similar version of this article was also published at Haute Macabre on 12/17/19.

A Sleepy, Relaxed Hexmas List

sleepy hexmas

I can’t even remember the last time I put together a list of fripperies! I say, it’s been much, much too long.

The theme for this year’s Hexmas holiday wishlist is “Hexmas Sleepies”, I guess! These are a few things I have either been lusting over, or, I have purchased and highly recommend, and they all seem to fall into that category of “soothing balms for frizzled folks” and for wrapping up the day on a lovely, luxurious note, before bed.

1.  Silk Ines pyjamas from Morpho and Luna. This moody floral pajama set is from Morpho and Luna’s 2017 collection and the design is apparently a modern interpretation of the mythology of Persephone and Demeter. For two whole years now I keep peeping at them but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger yet.

2. Unwind Your Mind. This is the book that ASMRtist Emma WhispersRed of YouTube just released and if you haven’t fallen asleep to the sounds of her brushing someone’s hair or perhaps her guided meditation with Tibetan singing bowls, you’re really missing out. My copy is sitting atop a stack of books as tall as I am, but I’ll get to it soon, I promise!

3. Antoinette Incense burner from Catbird NYC I just think this looks really neat. And none of my incense burners look quite like this!

4. Hinoki Onsen Shizumi Luxury Bath Salts with Japanese cypress oil.  These gorgeous bath salts are on my list as a “congratulations, you did it!” gift to myself, but I guess I haven’t done whatever must warrant doing because I still don’t have them. I will report back.

5. LUSH Sleepy Lotion At first sniff, you almost think this wonderfully purple lotion is going to be too sugary, but somehow it’s not. Sleepy is a lovely lavender whose sharp herbal edges have been tamed by rich and subtly sweet tonka, and trust me, you need the matching shower gel to go with this as well.

6. Parachute Turkish Cotton Waffle Robe. This robe is an INVESTMENT. It is the most incredible thing you will ever put on your body and I cannot sing its praises enough. If you have never ever before paid attention to anything I was trying to convince you of, hear me now: this robe is as luxurious as it is practical and you need it in your life.

7. Kindred Black Immortelle I have a few other offerings from Kindred Black and I am so impressed with the quality of the oils and the beauty of their packaging, and I feel like their immortelle oil belongs on my shelf (along with the jojoba, argan, and zdravetz, which I own –and love!–already.)

What’s on your Hexmas list this year?

Interview with Jordan Shiveley of Dread Singles and Voidmerch


At Haute Macabre this week, I interview Jordan Shiveley, who I am definitely in no way obsessed with, no way have you seen me RT thousands of his eerie Dread Singles tweets and I can guarantee you have never seen me wearing one of his magnificently peculiar Voidmerch tees or using them in my How To Wear posts.



Get the Big Mood shirt here!

A Mystery Partially Solved–Maybe?


This past weekend at Haute Macabre I shared a list of eyeball fodder in which I reveled in revealing the artists responsible for certain artworks and photography that I’ve been collecting over the years, originally found on the internet uncredited or with the credit info incorrectly attributed (I am not sure which is worse? Both instances are annoying)

The above image, well, that remained a mystery. At that point in time, I’d had no luck and no leads, and was hoping that if I shared it, a reader might see it and say, “oh! I know something about that one!” It was a long shot, but you never know if you don’t put it out there…so it’s a shot I took.

This morning I had a response from an Instagram person indicating that the model gazing into the mirror is 90s fashion model Debbie Deitering and this looks to be part of an ad campaign from 1993 shot by Mikael Jansson (see below.) Since this particular image is so difficult to track down, they surmised that perhaps it was an outtake. Hm. I wonder! It is the closest I have gotten to an answer in four years, but still, I would like to know definitively.

I have attempted, in a limited sort of way (agents/agencies, intermediaries, social media) to contact those involved so that I might be able to get an answer and set the matter to rest once and for all. I shall report back as I know more!


10 Things: My Bougie Holiday Wish List + Stocking Stuffers (Courtesy Harlow Skalwold)

bougie featureWhen my friend Harlow reached out to me to suggest a “bougie holiday wish list” for Unquiet Things, my first thought was “what a fantastic idea! Harlow has got freaking amazing taste and I can’t wait to see this list!” My second thought was “wait… what exactly does ‘bougie’ mean, anyway?”

It’s a little embarrassing, but much like when people refer to things as “basic”, or before that when people mocked those they referred to as “hipsters,” I for some reason struggled with these concepts and it took me a long time to figure out what those terms meant, if they were “bad,” and, was I any of those things– and furthermore should I even care if I am? I think the answer is yes I probably am and no I most certainly shouldn’t.

So…bougie. I hear people say that a lot. Still not sure I totally get it. I think it probably means more than one thing, and it’s not always negative or positive or both or either, and it’s become sort of a catch-all phrase that everyone uses to indicate that someone might be all about some pretentious, consumerist stuff and things? That’s what I’m going with for now. (And that…certainly describes me.)

At any rate! However you might want to label this list* (and truly, once you catch your breath from all the gasping at all the gorgeousness, I think you will find it transcends labels) Harlow has curated some extraordinarily beautiful, darkly luxurious indulgences here and I want every single one of them. Scroll further, and I am sure that you will agree.

*So if by “bougie,” we mean AWESOME and HELLA EXPENSIVE, then ok, yes. 
spiritsSeedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits Trio
Nothing says bougie yet sober like a $36 bottle of nonalcoholic distilled “spirits”. For the holiday season they have special on all three varieties!
Not that these folks are fooling around either, with product descriptions touting distillates of Jamaican allspice berry and cardamom soaked in oak and cascarilla barks, or “A floral blend of hand-picked Peas & Hay from founder Ben Branson’s Farm…”
Fancy craft cocktails, I may be back.

The Prepster Backpack | 3-Day Emergency Bag
First-aide essentials, tech gear, food, water, AND luxe comforts (including premium teas, chocolate, and toiletries), all in a water-resistant canvas and leather metal-framed backpack. I’ll take the one with the big black cross on it, please. Bougie and ready for the first 3 days of the apocalypse.

valleyVALLEY Eyewear DAGGER – Gloss Black
Every witchy goth and dark boheme has been drooling over this eccentric Aussie eyewear brand for a good couple of years now. Owning a pair says, I have an income, and I’m not wearing cheap plastic frames anymore, bitches.

moss CCWDMOSS B02MS19 / Witch Bag
Crafted from supple calf leather and human hair, this made-to-order handbag is aptly named. Footwear and accessory designer Andrey Moss is the artist behind the covetable indie brand most people have never heard of. Obscure, handmade, luxurious. Dark bougie delight.

19-69 Female Christ Eau de Parfum
I just want this perfume for its name, the perfect minimalist bottle, and the fantastic story behind it. I’m pretty sure that in itself is fairly bougie.

Hood London Maila Bonnet
This amazing wool knit widow-peaked bonnet is offered by Adèle Mildred and Gabrielle Djanogly’s new luxury hat label, Hood London, which can safely be described as Addams Family haute couture.
You may have heard illustrator and costume designer Adèle Mildred’s name pop up in fashion circles over the past decade. Her career began in Los Angeles with Emily the Strange and continued onto celebrity tailoring, and textile design for films. She later left for London to run the couture atelier for esteemed milliner Stephen Jones before moving onto her own projects. In addition to Hood London, Adèle has her own line of sunglasses, and her paintings are shown in galleries around the world.
Take my money, but know I would kill for your resume.

Vera Balyura is clearly excited about these loafers, and frankly, so am I. Comfortable, casual, yet makes you look like you give more fucks than just throwing on a pair of running shoes. Plus celebs seem to adore this Brooklyn indie designer, as the list of her famous fans just goes on and on…

Alexander McQueen Skull Folded Umbrella
Because it’s an insanely iconic McQueen piece. Fashionistas of any stripe would recognize it immediately. That skull. Often copied, but never the same. Is it so iconic that it’s become basic? I don’t know, but I want this umbrella with every ounce of my black heart.

Did I say I needed an umbrella? What I really need is this incredible fur coat. I would like to live in nothing but Ann Demeulemeester’s inspired androgynous clothing lines, but I’ll settle for just this one jacket.
These are the most expensive joggers I have ever seen in my life. But that drape! Those pockets! I would wear them every day and feel like a million bucks- for just over a grand.


Stocking Stuffers

MyTinyTokens 6 Dice Gaming Set, stainless steel – ‘Center Arc’ balanced metal dice

Le Labo PALO SANTO 14 vintage candle

Brooklyn Candle Studio Apothecary Match Bottle – Black

Aesop São Paulo Travel Kit

Vivienne Westwood VW +5 Bottle

Find Harlow Skalwold: website // instagram

1 2 3 4 5 74