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  • Writer's pictureMary

The November List

Jasper's first Halloween was a good one. He tolerated his puppy-eared bonnet for much of the day, and we spent several hours outdoors enjoying the great weather.

It's funny how the start of the holiday season has moved all the way up to Nov 1st over the years. Even Mariah Carey says so.

I sometimes think of November as the Thursday of the year. We're not quite at the end of something, but we can see it just ahead, and that sense of an impending end can make me feel introspective and (prematurely) nostalgic. Add to this the increased hours of darkness highlighted by the rude and sudden end of daylight savings time.. it's a mood.

It's also true that there is so much activity during this time. Our garden is going into hibernation, dropping the last of this year's growth. The holidays are at our doorstep, and my shop will be getting busier (hopefully!). So while there may be a quieter feel to the shorter days there are plenty of goings-on to look forward to and tasks to tackle.

This month, I'm hoping to spend time sitting at my desk and making plans, try out new handmade projects, and clear out clutter from my home so I can bring more festive decor in. Here's my November list:

Honor previous wishes

Speaking of introspection, I recently rediscovered on my phone a note that I'd jotted down on March 17th of this year. At the time, I was beginning to come out of the fog of new motherhood and to imagine and hope for the near future. I'd held off making general goals for 2021 during my pregnancy, planning instead to embrace the uncertainty and remain open to the ways my life would change once Jasper was born. Here's what I wrote in March:

Bake birthday cakes. Wear earrings again. Plant flowers. Learn a new skill. Go to the library. Leave behind what should be left behind. Paint my nails. Make so much pottery. Sit outside with coffee. Read. Knit.

Turns out I've lived by these goals, save the earring wearing and nail painting bits. This list must have been lingering at the back of my mind all this time. I know that some of them seem trivial, but when I read it I can recall what my thoughts were then. I wanted to make joyful celebration a more commonplace occurrence in our home. I hoped for a world where I didn't always need a mask in public - earrings with a mask on feel silly, so if I were wearing earrings again it might mean that I wouldn't have a mask on all the time. I wanted to put time and energy into our garden, and cultivate beauty in our outdoor space. I wanted to find the courage to quit my job. I wanted to take time for myself and make sure that the me I knew before motherhood hadn't gone away. I wanted to keep growing my craft, learning new words and new things, and to do it while keeping my hands busy.

When I saw this note again I immediately gave myself a pedicure. A mani will have to wait for a Thursday, after which I get four days before I'm back on the wheel and messing it right up. It was nice, for my feet to feel put together, and to pick out an autumnal shade of deep brick that I like a lot.

So this month, and for the rest of the year, I'm going to continue to live by these hopes that previous version of me had, and honor her wishes.

Make a wreath!

I'm so excited for this DIY because we didn't get to decorate the home at all for the holidays last year. I've already ordered my wreath making supplies and started collecting pinecones that have fallen from the tree in our backyard. Come time to put things together, I'll take a trip to Trader Joe's and pick up some evergreen stems to use.

Decide on Thanksgiving dishes

This was always a big deal for us pre-COVID because we have multiple celebrations for both Thanksgiving and Christmas and all of them are pot-lucks. We're not sure what Christmas will look like this year, but we know that we'll be spending Thanksgiving at Kev's parents' home where they will host a small get-together. (My side of the family, being Chinese immigrants, never really adopted Thanksgiving as a major holiday, but we do try to get together, give or take a week, to share a meal.)

Albeit a small gathering, I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this year because Jasper will get to meet his cousins Nathan (2 yrs) and Maya (1 yr) for the first time. The next generation will be represented at this meal, and I'm really looking forward to getting together with family after so long.

Start planning Jazzy's first holiday season

Never too early to start making holiday traditions. Besides, they aren't traditions until you've gotten a few repetitions under your belt. This is what I had in mind when I said I want to spend quality time sitting at my desk. This month, I'll be researching holiday inspiration and taking notes on both my computer and my notebook.

Prep the house for winter

There's opportunity at the end of each season to declutter and rearrange, to reset the energy of the home. I think it's become especially important to stay on top of decluttering now that we have a baby whose clothing, books, and toys can so easily accumulate. For me, preparing our home for winter this year means:

  • Putting up my DIY wreath

  • Taking out our votive candles

  • Cycling out clothing that Jasper's outgrown and donating what we don't want to keep

  • Unpacking winter clothing out of vacuum sealed bags from our April 2020 move (yes, long overdue)

  • Covering the outdoor units of our central air system

  • A last round of weeding in our garden, side, and front yard

  • Plenty of spinning of our compost bin before the contents freeze over

  • Putting away the patio furniture

  • Taking our potted plants back indoors

  • Planting tulip bulbs

  • Stocking the pantry with canned beans, canned fish, broth, a good olive oil, and tea


I realize that November's list does not include anything Mammoth & minnow related. Rest assured that I will continue to make pottery throughout the month. I'm going into this holiday season with my head down, and I'm working hard to get things made and sent out as quickly as possible. I plan to regroup after Christmas, so that I can take stock of what this year has meant for my business as well as set goals and make plans for next year. As always, this will be the place for those first thoughts.

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