Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Inspirational Readings (UU Interfaith Contemplative Service)

I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in my hometown. I just celebrated my one year anniversary of joining. It is an open minded non-judgmental church that I really enjoy being a part of. (I may go further into what Unitarian Universalism is in a later post.) Starting at the beginning of the year, I have been occasionally leading our Wednesday night Interfaith Contemplative services...usually about once a month or so. Essentially, these services are comprised of spiritual/inspirational/etc. readings/poems/prayers/etc. and meditation. It is peaceful, quiet, and a nice way to calm the mind. Following are the readings for my service this evening. So even if you can't participate with my church, you can read and contemplate on your own. Please enjoy.

May the light of truth illuminate our minds,
May the spark of love set our hearts on fire,
May the flame of freedom burn brightly within us.

"Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
 The greatest worth is self-mastery.
 The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
 The greatest precept is continual awareness.
 The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
 The greatest action is not conforming with the world’s ways.
 The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
 The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
 The greatest goodness is peace of mind.
 The greatest practice is humility.
 The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
 The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
 The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.


“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

“Life is available only in the present moment.”

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”

And a man said, Speak to us of Self-Knowledge.

And he answered, saying:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights.
But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart's knowledge.
You would know in words that
which you have always known in thought.
You would touch with your fingers the naked body of your dreams.

And it is well you should.
The hidden well-spring of your soul must needs
rise and run murmuring to the sea;
And the treasure of your infinite depths
would be revealed to your eyes.
But let there be no scales to weigh your unknown treasure;
And seek not the depths of your knowledge
with staff or sounding line.
For self is a sea boundless and measureless.

Say not, "I have found the truth"
but rather, "I have found a truth."
Say not, "I have found the path of the soul."
Say rather, "I have met the soul walking upon my path."
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Blessed is the path on which you travel.
Blessed is the body that carries you upon it.
Blessed is your heart that has heard the call.
Blessed is your mind that discerns the way.
Blessed is the gift that you will receive by going. 
Truly blessed is the gift that you will become on the journey.
May you go forth in peace.

I apologize that I have not included authors of each of the selections. In my rush to prepare, I forgot to copy and paste the original writer!  Some of the readings can be found on the following websites:
World Prayers
Meditations and Prayers from the Unitarian Universalist Assoc.
"30 Life Changing Lessons from Thích Nhất Hạnh" from Purpose Fairy
Wisdom Commons Virtues

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life Goals List (aka The Bucket List)

There are so many things that I want to experience in my life, places I want to go, food I want to eat, and people to see. The following list is a collection of a few of those things, at least what I can think of at the current time. This list is not comprehensive by any means. Things will inevitably be added in the future. Especially the travel lists. I'm the sort that's happy to go anywhere, as long as it is new. You can find adventure anywhere I say, even in small towns a few minutes away. And for your listening pleasure "Cups (When I'm Gone)" by Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect. It seems like a nice song for the theme of today's blog post.

Kristin's Official Life Goals List (doo dee dee doo!)
  • Finish writing my book
  • Get the book published
  • Ride in a hot air balloon
  • Go on an overnight ghost hunt with a professional ghost hunting team
  • See a ghost or experience a supernatural event (or something that cannot be explained)
  • Visit all 50 states in the United States (Not counting flight layovers)
    • Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina
      North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
      South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
  • United States Travel (not a comprehensive list)
    There would be one stop in all 48 contiguous U.S. states,
    as well as Washington D.C.and two stops in California for an even 50 stops.
    • Route 66 Road Trip
    • Smithsonian Museum (!)
    • Niagara Falls
    • Grand Canyon
    • Go to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH again (this time with the family)
    • Salem, Massachusetts
    • Cape Code + Eat a ton of seafood
  • International Travel (these are just a small number of the places I want to go)
    • Ireland
    • Scotland (castles)
    • England (Stonehenge, museums!)
    • Rome, Italy
    • Japan
    • South Korea
    • Hong Kong
    • Great Wall of China
    • Machu Pichu in Peru
    • Iceland
    • New Zealand (Especially the shooting locations from The Lord of the Rings)
  • Learn to play keyboard or piano
  • Learn a different language
  • Take a class with a master photographer
  • Ride in a helicopter over an active volcano
  • Run a 5k race
  • Go hiking in the mountains
  • Eat at a restaurant operated by Gordon Ramsay, Morimoto, Wolfgang Puck, etc.
  • Meet a famous author like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, etc.
  • High five any of the actors from Supernatural (They seem like awesome guys.)
  • Be on television
  • Ride a hang glider

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lights! Camera! Switzerland! Contest Submission

This is my video submission for the Lights! Camera! Switzerland! travel hosting contest at

EDIT: I didn't make the cut for the finalists. They were way out of my league.  Oh well. Life goes on. 

"My name is Kristin. I'm a 28 year old stay at home mom with two kids. But I'd like to think that I'm not your average stay at home mom. I'm an artist, amateur photographer, and writer in the middle of writing my first book. Ever since I was young, it has been my lifetime goal to travel the world and to write a book about it.

Unfortunately, being from a single income family doesn't really give me the option to travel like I'd like to. So I find adventure in my own backyard. I volunteer for local events, like dressing in 1700s style costume for the OK Mozart music festival or being a tour guide for the downtown Ghost Walk in October. I've also been an actress in local productions at a community theater. I absolutely love being out in nature, especially hiking and finding new unknown trails. You can also find me, along with some like minded friends, spending time with my camera in graveyards at night as an amateur ghost hunter.

I love trying out and learning new things... like trying bizarre new foods or joining a local drum circle to learn to play the djembe drum. I'm not perfect at it, and probably never will be... but it sure is fun. And that is why I would love to go to an amazing place like Switzerland with its history, landscapes, and exciting new experiences. Because life always needs a fun, new adventure."

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Almost, Maine" at Theater Bartlesville

I've been a bit busy lately. I auditioned for and got a part in a local community theater production of "Almost, Maine." It is a really funny romantic comedy with a tiny bit of fantasy thrown in. Instead of one big story, it is a collection of vignettes that are all a bit connected. The last time I was in a play was eight years ago right before I had my first kid. It's really hard to believe that it had been this long. Wow. Time sure flies.

I was cast as Marvalyn (Really, who came up with these names?!) who is a lonely girl doing laundry at a boarding house where she and her boyfriend, Eric, are waiting for their house to be repaired. She accidentally whacks Steve in the face with an ironing board and learns about his disability of not being able to feel pain. Hilarity ensues. It was quite a fun part to play. I have also decided to incorporate "Jeezum Crow!" into my everyday language.

Here are some photos from the production. (Courtesy Theater Bartlesville.) Enjoy.

The entire cast and crew of "Almost, Maine"
The entire cast and crew of "Almost, Maine" (The Moose Paddy version.)
Jeezum Crow! I love these people.

Marvalyn decides that ironing is a waste of time...

Time to go. Have an accidental whack in the skull Steve.

This move made rehearsals very nerve wrecking. Tim, the guy who played Steve, kept repeatedly telling me that it really was okay for me to hit him. It took me quite a while to get comfortable with smacking him with a heavy metal ironing board twice in the same scene.

"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Is there any blood?"
"Is there any discoloration?"
"Then I'm okay!"

My turn to get hit in the head with the ironing board!

"Are you sure you're okay? You're just going on and on about crazy stuff."

Curtain Call!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back on 2014 - Part Two

This is the continuation of "Looking Back on 2014 - Part One."


I can't write about July without a mention of Independence Day. For the second year in a row, we had an amazing, fun fourth of July picnic party at my good friends John and Sue's house. They have the good fortune of the fact that their house is not officially in the city limits. And they have a huge backyard, so we can blast off as many fireworks as we want. My mom, aunt and uncle, cousin and her boyfriend, father-in-law, two of John and Sue's sons and their wives, their grandson, and of course, me, my husband and two boys were all there. There was a ton of great barbeque and other food. I was in charge of dessert. I made this beautiful red, white , and blue trifle: white cake cubes layered with strawberries, blueberries, and a delectable whipped white chocolate cream. I was pretty proud of it. We had a TON of fireworks, and it was awesome.

After participating in the African drum circle at my church on a pretty regular basis, and making friends with my fellow drummers, it was fun to find out that we had a gig... kind of. Rebecca, the lady who led the drum circles, had been contacted by the public library about performing and teaching some children for the Summer Reading Program. The library's Summer Reading Program included a performance by a magician, a robotics club demonstration from a local college, and a professional storyteller, among other things. It was a really neat opportunity. So we dragged all the drums, some of which are very heavy, up to the second floor along with our "fun basket" which is full of percussion instruments like maracas, rail road spikes to clink together, tambourines, and medicine bottles filled with beans. We had a lot of kids there that day. There had to have been about 50-ish children in that room, in addition to my own two boys. I did a quick spiel about the history of the djembe drum in Africa (with maps!) and Rebecca did a short introduction to the three main drum sounds. It was very noisy, but fun too. I wish I had some pictures of that event because it was a blast.

August to September

August was a slow month for me. It was also not the best of times for me either. I have struggled with depression for a very long time. I've never been to a psychiatrist and been officially diagnosed, but depression runs rampant in the females of my family. So, it's pretty obvious that I'd have to deal with it at some times in my life. I can usually feel it coming on. There aren't really any words to describe what the onset of depression feels like, but for me I can feel something slowly change in my mind. It sort of creeps up on me slowly over the course of a few weeks, and I descend into this dark place where I don't want to do anything or talk to anyone. I'm also pretty good at keeping up appearances in public, so for the most part I can keep it to myself. Kaleb's homeschooling came to a standstill while I dealt with my melancholy. I spent the majority of my time zoned out watching my shows. I let the housecleaning go, and the house fell into chaos. For a long time, I felt incredibly guilty about it, but I now know that it isn't anything to feel guilty about. I spent the better part of two months stuck in this deep rut, but I eventually overcame it on my own, with the help of good friends and family being around me and giving me support. Now this isn't to say that I won't come down with my depression again. I have been told that it would benefit me to see a doctor about it. I may see one in the future if my depression gets severe enough. Now enough about depressing things. ;)


After finally kicking my depression, I involved myself in more activities including volunteering for the annual Downtown Ghost Walk as a tour guide. It is a unique storytelling event with actors telling ghost stories based on actual local events in historical buildings. My job as a tour guide was to bring groups around down town Bartlesville and give a little historical spiel about each building we went to.

A few of my favorite things about the Ghost Walk were the zombie actors, and the final location on the walk: the old hospital. That has to be the creepiest building in town. Personally, I'd love to get in there and do some ghost hunting. A local ghost hunting group actually did a little "mini ghost hunt" with our tour groups... kind of. (It was actually just a short EVP session.) They later told me that they'd been trying to get in there for years. Apparently, the owner of the old hospital building didn't want ghost hunters there, but allowed Downtown Bartlesville, Inc. to use it for the Ghost Walk. Unfortunately, the building is slated for construction projects in the next year or so. I think they intend on making it an apartment building. (Not sure how that'll work out for the future tennants...)

It being a Halloween themed event, of course I dressed up. I splurged a bit and bought this beautiful Victorian style black dress. I did my hair with some spiral curls and put on some dark makeup. I looked good... or at least I hope I did.


At the beginning of November I went on a hiking trip with my friend, John and my son, Kaleb at Woolaroc. Woolaroc is an amazing place to visit, if you ever get the chance. It has a cultural center and museum, a collection of animals like bison, deer, ostriches, etc. and beautiful, well maintained hiking trails.
It was the first time I really got a good chance to use my telescopic lens on my camera. I've been trying to teach myself photography with my Canon Rebel T3i camera that I received as a gift for Christmas last year. I know I have the eye for it, but getting the camera to do what I want is another thing entirely. Here are some of my favorite photos from that hiking trip. There are a lot more photos at my photography blog:



December was another exciting month for me. Between parades, gift exchanges, Christmas and birthday parties, drum circles, church, etc. I was kept pretty busy. I took the boys to go see Santa Claus on the 6th. Cameron hid in the corner, and Kaleb kept a foot and a half distance from him and would only whisper what he wanted for Christmas to him. It is a bit sad, but I have never been to our local Christmas parade, and I'd never taken the boys either, so I checked that off the to do list. We went the same day right after we saw Santa. The boys didn't know quite what to expect and weren't that excited about sitting in the cold, but they loved it. Especially the part where they got to take home the wads of candy thrown from the floats.

My husband, Greg's company Christmas party is always a big deal and is something I always look forward to each year. It is one of the few times a year that I get to dress up and look fabulous. If you know anything about me, and you've probably noticed from reading my blog, but I love to dress up (even if it's not in costume, and it's just a fancy dress). Every year, Greg's company Christmas party caters in fantastic high quality food and gives out nice (and expensive) prizes. One of the employees also dressed up in this amazing Jack Frost costume. This year Greg actually won $500 from the prize giveaways! We ended up using it on Christmas gifts and bills, but it sure was nice to have that extra money.

My birthday was also this month. I turned 28 on Sunday the 14th. My sister-in-law, Kaitlyn's birthday is the day before mine, and every year it has become sort of a tradition to celebrate our birthdays together. We went on a double date to the Melting Pot on the Friday before our birthdays and completely splurged. I am still in shock about how expensive that place was, but man, was it tasty. I still have fantasies about how tasty that duck was. The fancy mixed drink wasn't too bad either. Kaitlyn gifted me a beautiful hardcover edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and I gifted her a pair of nice knitted fingerless gloves from a cute local shop and two giant bags of Twizlers and Hershey's Pot of Gold candies.
I also signed up for the reddit Secret Santa gift exchange which was tons of fun. We had a gift exchange with my mom, aunt, and my friends John and Sue the Friday before Christmas. It was even better than Christmas. I got an amazing sweater jacket, a book with create your own Shakespearean insults (which is awesome), a couple necklaces, and a warm and fuzzy blanket. Oh yeah, and dark chocolate. We can't forget that. ;)

Christmas itself was anticlimactic, but nice too. We rushed around like headless chickens and finally Christmas arrived and then it was over. I freaked out and worried so much about the state of our house being in the midst of renovations, but in the end it didn't even matter. We had Greg's brothers and their families over along with his dad for a gift exchange and board games for a couple hours. Greg's sister, Kaitlyn, stayed and joined us for dinner along with my mom, my sister and her boyfriend. I made orange glazed roast duck, loaded mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and some other sides for dinner. Afterwards, we strapped ourselves in for a marathon board game session. We played Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, and 7 Wonders. It was a lot of fun, especially to spend time with my sister who I don't really see that often.

And now as December and the year of 2014 comes to a close, I'll be soon leaving with the boys in tow to a party at my friend's house. It is the first time we'll be doing New Year's Eve with John and Sue. Usually, we do something here at my house with board games and wine. ;) I'm looking forward to it quite a bit. My mom, sister Kathryn, aunt Brenda, and friend Michael, in addition to John and Sue's kids, were all invited as well. I'm really glad to have all these interesting people in my life.

I hope to continue to spend time with these people and meet and make new friends as well. You never know what's ahead, and I hope that I have a lot of new and exciting adventures in the year to come.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking Back on 2014 - Part One

So this year has had its ups and downs, but that pretty much sums up everyone's year. I have had a few life changes, and dealt with a few issues here and there, large and small. Here are a few things that happened to me in 2014. So here are a few random memories.


January 2014 was about a year ago, so it is a bit hard to remember what kinds of things happened that long ago. I should really start keeping a journal. Now that I think of it, I think I actually started one, but never kept up with it. Maybe that is something to try to work on this upcoming year. It was also at this time in my life that I was discontented with the church that I was going to and eventually went for the last time in December or January. There were many reasons for doing so, but I'll talk about that another time.

The state of Oklahoma had some really, really cold days, in fact they were some of the coldest days on record, including some days in the negatives.

Kaleb's 7th birthday was at the end of the month. We were going to have a small party at the house and I'd even invited a few kids over, but the dreaded flu knocked the whole family out and the party was cancelled. I was pretty sure that what we had was the dreaded H1N1 that was circling the nation and freaking out the media. High fevers, headaches and other pains, fatigue, and the worst congestion I've ever had. I was sicker than I'd ever felt. Greg had to take two entire weeks off from work. Even though I was just as sick as the rest of them, I ended up being the caretaker, feeding and medicating everyone. Go super mom aka me.


Not much happened in February. It was a pretty boring month. There was a big Valentine's Day party for a local homeschoolers group the Friday before V-Day, but Kaleb threw up in the back seat on the way there. So, we didn't even go. I don't remember going anywhere with Greg to celebrate Valentine's Day, and even if we did go, obviously it wasn't very memorable.


With the warming of the weather, I took the boys out to a beautiful state park about twenty minutes away for a decent day of hiking. I got some fantastic photos and we had a really great time just being outside after being cooped up all winter.

March was also the month that I began to go to the Unitarian Universalist Church. After floundering around spiritually for years, I had finally found a place that really clicked. I also began to participate in the bi-weekly African drum circle that is held at the church.


Another uneventful month. I guess I lead a pretty uneventful life.  We decided to take Kaleb out of his karate class because it was becoming a fight to bring him each time. He held absolutely no interest for it. I started work on our giant backyard garden as the weather continued to warm up.


Cameron's 4th birthday was at the end of the month on Memorial Day weekend. We made up for Kaleb's cancelled party earlier in the year and had a great time with a few of the boys' friends. I had originally made super hero capes and masks and still had them on hand, and the children loved the heck out of them.

By this time, I had gotten to know many of the interesting people that went to the UU church including someone who was the volunteer coordinator for the amazing OK Mozart festival held each year in Bartlesville.


June was the month of the OK Mozart festival. I had signed up to be a costume greeter. Along with about six other ladies and gents, I dressed up in 1700s period costume a la Marie Antoinette and Mozart, of course, with big hair and lots of lace. We greeted concert attendees on their way to the big symphony concerts in the community center. Being a volunteer I received a few perks, one of which was that I was able to sit in on three of the concerts. If I had paid for tickets, I would have had to drop quite a bit of money. After the final concert there was an after party for the musicians and OK Mozart employees and board members. Most of the volunteers weren't invited, but the costume greeters were. I got to mingle with New York Symphony Orchestra musicians, drink champagne, and eat fancy hors d'oeurves. It was a high society-type evening. Am I volunteering next year? Heck yes I am.

Stay tuned for Looking Back on 2014 - Part Two!

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Participated in the World's Largest Secret Santa Gift Exchange

On this little place called the internet, there is a strange and mysterious place called reddit. It's a website that is really hard to explain. It is kind of like an anonymous Facebook meets Pinterest meets news site meets discussion forum. It's a website for everything. Because it is so hard to explain, I'll let CGP Grey from YouTube explain for me in this very informative video:

So, now that you know what the heck reddit is, I can explain reddit's amazing Secret Santa gift exchange. I believe that the Secret Santa event started on reddit around 5-8ish years ago, and over time it has exploded into this massive, crazy thing. Here's a TED talk about how the world's largest Secret Santa was created by the creator himself. The video is about 16 minutes long (just warning you), but I found it really interesting.

The main concept is you sign up with the site, fill out a likes/dislikes section, and answer a few questions about yourself like "What's your favorite color?" or "What is your favorite author or book?" or "What's your favorite movie?" for example. Then you wait until matching day. This year matching day was on December 1st. Some random person will get matched with you, read your info, and "friendly stalk you" online. Meanwhile, you have your own match. (Which is not the same person matched with you.)

The suggested amount to spend on your giftee is around $25 not including shipping, but there are people that go way above and beyond (you'll know if you watched the TED talk above). So if you're lucky you'll get matched with a rich person or celebrity. This year's Secret Santa had Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, and Alyssa Milano among others participating, which is beyond cool.

My own giftee was actually not one person but an entire family of eight people. Six kids! Not exactly a follower of the rules. I much rather would've preferred someone that I could have "friendly stalked" with some interesting interests, but you get what you get. My giftee didn't really fill out their likes/dislikes section either, which left me irritated and annoyed. But, by God, once my brain starts going, the creativity comes out. I opted for a pieced together "family night in" kit. I got all the stuff needed for s'mores, a box of popcorn, a tin of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, a Pictionary card game, a giant Mad-Libs book, and after a quick message to my giftee for information, I got everyone's favorite candy. I was also able to pick up some of these cool Christmas party cracker things for the kids at TJMaxx. To make it more fun I wrapped everything. Even the bag of marshmallows, because be honest... who doesn't like ripping open gifts? I spent around $45. Not bad for gifting to an entire family of eight people.

On your match page on, you are provided with your giftee's address. You must also ship your gift out by a specific date. This year's ship by date was December 19th. I, of course, procrastinated until the very last day. I really hope that my giftee and his family are happy with the gifts.

Anyway, I actually received my gift from my Secret Santa today. They sent me a color changing constellations mug, of which I used almost immediately for a nice cup of chamomile mint tea. Mmmmm. In case you were wondering, I absolutely love me a cup of hot tea. (I apologize for the terrible image quality. These were taken with my phone. Horrible from a self proclaimed photographer, I know.)

 Also included in my Secret Santa box was an envelope with a card. Inside was a note and an Amazon gift card for $10. Remember earlier where I said something about "friendly stalking?" This is where that came into play. My Secret Santa mentioned in their note about using the gift card to buy books for my new Kindle, which I'm sure they found out by searching my reddit history. I had recently posted in the /r/Kindle subreddit about my new Kindle and how excited I was about it. It is really nice to see such a thoughtful/quirky gift.

Overall, I'd say that the whole reddit Secret Santa has been a positive experience. I really enjoyed getting creative and shopping for a complete stranger (or in my case a family of strangers). Plus, I get the advantage of possibly being a Guinness World Record holder. Once they get the final numbers and counts in, it will be the world's official largest Secret Santa gift exchange. And that is cool. I will for sure be participating again.

Just in case you were curious and wanted to learn more, check out the /r/SecretSanta subreddit on reddit. In addition to Secret Santa, they also have various other gift exchanges throughout the year including smaller themed exchanges and another big one called Arbitrary Day. So you don't even have to wait all the way until next year!