Psssst…! Kermit is totally selling these! They are not up for purchase on his site though, and I haven’t got a link to share, but my best suggestion is to direct message him through Instagram, let him know you are interested in buying one, and give him your email address so that he can send you an invoice. Expect to spend around $105 or so in US monies.
Let’s face it. There was not much to love about 2016. We watched as our beautiful, beloved dreams died one, by one. Whether it was our star men, our poet-bards, our very first motorcycle-riding, purple velvet wearing crushes, our hopes for a magnificent female president, or at least president who isn’t completely bat-shit bonkers, and as of when I began writing this– the loss of my beloved rebel princess, my very first role model–2016 was devastating in so many ways, and saw the end of so many wonderful things.
And so I look to the little things. The sweetness that lightened the burden. The small discoveries that made life easier, or little luxuries that eased a horrible day, a terrible month, or a no good, very bad year.
In no particular order, and for these reasons, here are 16 things I loved in 2016.
(Curious about my picks for previous years? Here’s 2015 & 2014)
Christian Louboutin Nail Polish. Now someone will say to me, “Really, Sarah?” A $50 nail polish?” And yes, I will agree, that’s pretty ridiculous. But the bottle is gorgeous, and the wand is the perfect petite height for my small hands (the stiletto lid is deceiving) and this is absolutely high quality lacquer, very long wearing. I mean, I guess it is. I knit and wash dishes and read books and type and use my hands a lot, and 2 coats lasts me a week without chipping. That’s pretty great, right? I wear it almost exclusively.
Tom Ford Oud Wood Shower Gel. Yeah, so…if you weren’t keen on the thought of a $50 nail polish, you are probably not going to get on board with a $67 bottle of body wash. But this one smells like woods and incense and secret forest temples and is an utter treat. It is my secret weapon in the constant battle of “ugggghh…do I really have to shower today?”
Diptyque Baies candle. I first sniffed this stunningly gorgeous candle whilst shopping at Uncommon Objects in Austin. They had it burning on a counter top near the entrance and I was so enthralled with the fragrant wafts drifting throughout the store that I had actually ordered the candle on my phone on amazon before I made a purchase from the shop I was actually in. Rude! I’m sorry, but I really had to have it. I was so surprised when I read the description for Baies: “a luscious blend of black-currant leaves and Bulgarian roses”. Usually these are not smells that I want anything to do with! But somehow this combines for a strikingly elegant scented object, a sort of woody-musky-green fragrance, that I never ever want to be without.
Owl Moon bloodmilk X Black Phoenix Alchemy collabroative fragrance. From chapter one of bloodmilk’s sister shop, Exquisite Corpse, this is an exquisite, unique scent experience that literally sets my teeth on edge, but sometimes I need that very sort of fearsome inspiration and motivation. With notes described as “dark, rooty, sweet patchouli swirled with honey,” Owl Moon opens with the blackest, earthiest patchouli (before learning of the notes, I actually thought it was vetiver!) and calls to mind cool, moist soil at the base of a pine tree through which all of the busy little night creatures slither and crawl, the pale, ghostly light of the moon glinting off their scales and wings. A yellow-eyed owl, perched overhead, meditates briefly before silently embarking on his nightly hunt; the sour, screechy scent of his nest, littered with rodent bones and pellets, serves as a warning nearby. This is the fragrance of potent night magics, rich and ripe with darkness and feral mysticism. The sharpness of the patchouli streaked with high-pitched honey combine to form an aura that is both graceful and grotesque, sacred and profane. If all of that reads familiar to you, this is exactly what I have written about Owl Moon before, elsewhere, but it’s not plagiarizing if it’s your own words, right?
Hurraw lip balms. Several people mentioned these lip balms in passing this year, but I pooh-poohed them because I thought the name was dumb. Well, turns out I am an idiot. These are amazing. Vegan, organic, fair trade, all of the buzzwords that are bandied about, yes all of those things, but they are also smooth, and not at all draggy or grainy or melty or overly smelly, AND they have options that are not mint or fruit. Also, they are about $15 less than my previous favorite lipbalm, so Hurraw, despite the stupid name, is a win.
Zenmed Anti-Redness Rosacea Treatment. I self-diagnosed myself with rosacea earlier this month, after noticing and freaking out over the course of the year fluctuations and flare-ups of redness and stinging on my face. Based on some suggestions from friends I tried this particular set of products from Zenmed and my face cleared up overnight. That is not an exaggeration or embellishment. It literally cleared up over night. (I also stopped drinking coffee and started taking omega-3s, but I really do think it was this thing in particular that did the trick.) I cannot recommend it highly enough.
And speaking of coffee. I would be remiss in not mentioning cold brew coffee on my list. Any kind, but especially the pre-made stuff in the bottlethat you buy at the store. It was a lifesaver this summer when it was too hot to drink hot coffee, and I was too sweaty and lazy to go through the process of brewing the cold stuff. I’m not really drinking coffee anymore, but it certainly made this past May-August ever so much more bearable!
I think Gardein Breakfast Pockets may be my favorite discovery this year. I’m not one of those people who can eat as soon as I get out of bed in the morning; I need to take my time, sip a hot beverage (now that I’m not drinking coffee, the current beverage of choice is turmeric-ginger tea) and just go about my early hours ver-r-rrry slowly. It’s not that I am not a morning person–I am totally a morning person!– but it really does have to be at my own pace. I try to eat a little something right before my work day starts, and these hand-held little pockets are really delicious. I am also a person who absolutely cannot do sweet things in the morning, so to find a convenience food that isn’t a waffle or a poptart or a cloying breakfast bar is pretty awesome. It’s vegan, but I am under no illusions that it’s “healthy”. With no animal products and at only 200 calories though, it’s good enough for me. (Note: I am not vegan. Not even vegetarian.)
The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer left me speechless. I was certain nothing could ever measure up again, and I was very nearly afraid to start reading something else afterward! The books tell of the mysterious, dangerous wilderness of Area X and the humans exploring it: several decades ago, an inexplicable environmental change occurred and a large swath of land and sea was sealed behind an invisible and largely impenetrable barrier. “Inside it, nature shifted. It grew wild and pristine, dense and fertile—improbably pure, as though nature had said “Enough!” and reclaimed itself.” It’s an uncanny, and genuinely surprising read that haunted me for days and probably will continue to do so for many years to come. With this series The New Yorker refers to Vandermeer as The Weird Thoreau, and …yep. Totally apt.
Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky. I make myself very sad thinking about missed connections. What would life be like if perhaps I’d never gotten to know certain people, if I had carelessly just let those opportunities slip past? Sonya is one of these people. We connected via social media before I even knew they were a writer and I sometimes think…what if I’d totally ignored this weird person who started following me on twitter? What if I wasn’t a nosy so-n-so and took no notice of the fact that they were also a poet? In my reading of Sonya’s book, Salt Is For Curing, it took all that I had not to devour this small book of spooky delights in one greedy instant. I feared that to do so, to ingest all of these potent magics at once, would give me a terribly heartsick sort of heartburn and yet leave me with the very worst sort of emptiness, knowing there is no more to be had. I drew it out for as long as I could stand. It is now in its fourth printing, which I think is basically unheard of for small press stuff, so, congrats my darling Soyna! Even if this is my fourth time saying so.
What Is A Witch by Tin Can Forest and Pam Grossman is equal parts storybook, grimoire, comic book, and illuminated manuscript, What Is A Witch explores the many guises and archetypes of the witch–that ultimate icon of feminine power. The book’s lyrical language of night-song and half-rhymes, when given voice (and it absolutely must be read aloud), becomes a wild, witty, wondrous invocation, threaded throughout with fanciful visions, whimsical allegory, and magical truths. I engaged with its mesmerizing imagery and the poetic spell it cast, and immediately it awoke something within me. I felt it rise within myself, something fierce and surprising and nearly frightening in its power. If you feel yourself similarly compelled, don’t fight it. Go where this book takes you. See what you draw forth from yourself. Don’t be alarmed. Let it change you. This is magic, after all, and we are witches.
It’s not spooky or eerie in the least, so it may surprise you to know that HÆLOS’ Full Circle is my favorite album this year. I know it’s not supposed to work this way, but I made my decision back in February and I’ve heard nothing that even comes close to changing my mind since that time. A sweeping, meditative album, comprised of down-tempo, melancholic dissonance, lustrous synth, and cinematic, kaleidoscopic strings; reminiscent of 90s atmospheric trip-hop, and reverberating with narcotic, late night poignancy, this is the sonic equivalent of the steady, gorgeous thrum and throbbing heartbeat of a hand in your own.
Two of my favorite movies this year would have to be Demon, incorporating Jewish folklore and demonic possession into a tragic tale that’s not quite horror and not quite comedy, but works quite well as precisely what it is not, and The Handmaiden, a gorgeous, deliciously twisted film, by Chan Wook Park.
And numbers 14-16 are a cheat, but maybe more important than anything listed: I loved collaborating with my brilliant, talented, visionary friends on our various projects–we created not just one, but TWO wildly successful Occult Activity Books this year! That’s amazing!
I loved (is loved the right word?) that I knew when a relationship with a particular outlet was no longer working for me and was lucky enough to move on immediately to something not only better, but which also felt tremendously more right for me. Life is too short to be in an uncomfortable situation that makes you unhappy! Also, boo to bullies and blowhards, what ever form they take. I love that I finally knew when to move on, I guess is what I am saying.
And what about you? What did you take comfort in this year? What are some awesome discoveries you made? What are some of your favorites? Tell me all about it in the comments!
*featured heart garland image is, I think, from etsy seller Kirrakai
A new 8tracks playlist for the year’s end;
rifts & shifts & passages.
Artwork by Brittany Schall.
Hypatia, WRAY | Value, Hideous Towns | Abstinencia, Linda Guilala | Pale Surrender, Savage Sister | Eudamonia, Them Are Us Too | These Times, Night School | Horror, Wildhoney | Shiver, FVNERALS | Walk the Water, Casket Girls | White Hot Moon, Pity Sex | From The Outside , Omega Vague | Loom, Somali Yacht Club | Nothing Is Lost, Ultra Material | 39, DRAB MAJESTY | Morphine, Boy Harsher | GODS, Clovvder
A video posted by S. Elizabeth (@ghoulnextdoor) on
Just posted up over on Instagram this evening: the winner of a gorgeous labradorite sprit orb necklace from Flannery Grace Good. Please get in touch with me when you can, Jill!
Thanks so much, everyone, for sharing your magical moments and your enchantments with me–tiny or monumental, natural or digital, sweet stories and tales of truth–all of them, each and every one. What a wonderful way to wrap up the year here at Unquiet Things! Thank you, everyone of you, from the bottom of my heart, and, of course, to Flannery Grace Good who is one of the most fascinating, terrific humans I know.
These “armchair scientists and lovers of the natural world,” make tiny, true-to-life, animal skull reproductions derived from high-resolution 3D scans of original specimens, carefully miniaturized in a digital process, then cast in metal using traditional techniques. Exquisite! Adorable!
We issued a challenge, and many of you answered our fearsome call! Whosoever recorded the most chilling, most eerie, most creepimifying audio would be rewarded with a prize bundle which includes the long awaited re-press of A Blessed Unrest, as well as a “meticulously assorted bundle of charms, artifacts, merch, and media culled from Mer’s vast personal Stash of Strangeness.”
After carefully reviewing your wonderfully sinister submissions, a winner was revealed: BENJAMIN M! Benjamin, please get in touch with Meredith regarding your prize bundle! And many, many thanks to the creepy creators and macabre music makers whose creativity was sparked and shared for this exercise.
In the meantime, in the near future you’d do well to be on the lookout and listen for new sounds from Meredith, who recently played me a work-in-progress sneak preview of her forthcoming badass Harpy music and shared some breathtakingly invigorating art to go with it. Ooof. My heart. My guts. You guys.
if Meredith’s demo(ns) is/are any indication, 2017 is =shaping up to be explosive.
I can’t wait.
A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about related to matters of death & dying & mortality.
As a young girl it was my dearest wish and highest aspiration to swan about in glittering piles of jewels; to own an actual, honest-to-god treasure chest, full of glowing pearls and shimmering gems and all manner of rare, sparkling baubles.
As an adult, not much has changed and I am well on my way to this goal (I’ll get that treasure chest for it all one day, mark my words!) but I have found that in my vast array of frips and finery, I really only wear a handful of things from three or four of my favorite jewelers.
Flannery Grace Good is one of these artists. I originally learned of her work a few years ago through another beloved artist, Meredith Yayanos, who praised Flannery as “…a phenomenal maker of bespoke, commissioned pieces,” and I have been utterly enthralled with her creations and her unique, beautiful vision ever since. I vowed right then and there that I must get to know this brilliant human, and that one day I would adorn myself with her jewels.
I learned immediately that to collaborate on a custom piece of jewelry with Flannery is to trust your heart and guts and sketchy ideas with a fabulous human who is not only a consummate professional, but a genuinely empathetic, compassionate and infinitely creative soul who has the ability to craft tangible, magical works of art from your most nebulous, ridiculous dreams.
This custom ring possesses an eerie stone, a picasso jasper, that reminds me of an autumn forest at dusk. The mysterious moth lady is a fever dream of Flannery’s own creation, based on a bit of preliminary correspondence we had.
My second custom piece that Flannery dreamed up for me was a stunning moonstone necklace with lunar phases engraved on the back.
This is a custom night vision “monocle” designed to help one see in the dark, with translucent white banded agate and topped with an electric yellow sapphire. I can’t quite recall how the idea came about, I think I was beating myself up for not seeing something or something for what it was, and the idea of a talisman for which to see in the dark was born! We chose the stone because it looked like an eerie, milky blind eye; more specifically it reminded me of that iconic image of the creepy blind woman in Fulci’s The Beyond. Etched on the back is “et vident in tenebris” my best approximation of “to see in the dark”, in Latin. (If I got it wrong, don’t tell me.)
If you can dream it, Flannery can coax it to life in her own, inimitable style. (Which, if pressed, I would describe as one part mystery, one part whimsy and all heart.) And that’s not just hyperbole–if there is any artist I know who pours her entire heart and soul into each and every one of her creations, it is without a doubt, Flannery Grace Good.
Born on the day of the dead at the instant of moonrise, Flannery Grace Good has integrated these facets of her persona into the narrative of her creations; in her hands, these eerie instances take fantastical form as one-of-a-kind rings, earrings and pendants, cuffs and bangles, incorporating astonishingly gorgeous hand-picked gems in every hue of the spectrum. Often these works are imbued with extra bits of symbolism and magic, inscribed with emblems and enchantments, sacred scribbles and divine doodles.
Having entered her 20th year of making jewelry just this summer, Flannery shared with me a bit of her history and experiences with the craft. After some initial lessons and silver experiments with her beloved uncle Bubba in New Mexico, she attended college in Colorado to continue her education and training, where she graduated in three years and was valedictorian.
To finance a solo show she is currently working on and which is scheduled for 2017 (“I went looking for you”, dealing with themes of mental illness and addiction, loss and grief) Flannery opened up an Etsy shop this past autumn where you will find all manner of magical adornments, all of them ready to ship!
Pictured above is one of the Spirit orb necklaces; this particular creation is is handmade from Argentium silver and set with a AAA quality labradorite. On the back of each setting is a hand carved symbol found in the Tigris-Euphrates area. It is an ancient symbol that is believed to be a map of the known cosmos at the time. It was drawn in Babylon either around 2300 BCE or 700 BCE.
And if you can believe it, we are giving away this breathtakingly gorgeous necklace! For the opportunity to win, please comment on this post and share a bit of magic with us. Whether it is a story, a spell, a bit of wisdom, a recipe, a poem–whatever kind of enchantment you want to pass on ! You don’t necessarily have to like/share either of us on Instagram, but why wouldn’t you? I mean, we are pretty interesting people! But for the purposes of this giveaway, leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random, one week from today, on Friday December 23rd.