December'ing on a high note and wintery feel-goods
It’s December, and that can kick up a lot of feels for everyone. This is the time of year when self-reflection and introspection come into focus and the pressure to count our wins and tally up our achievements can feel kinda overwhelming. I will be the first to admit that I tend to be hard on myself this month and fixate on my shortcomings. In a culture that pushes constant self-improvement, my moral obligation to “do the work”, “fix this” and “heal that”, can feel like an impending doom spiral - perpetually longing for a promised state of enough-ness but never quite reaching the proverbial finish line. Add the dizzying effect of our political, social, and environmental war zone and it’s hard not to feel totally disenchanted.
If you are starting to wonder if I’ve gone all Ebenezer Scrooge on you with this newsletter, please stick with me. I promise some heart-exploding, hallmark-worthy bits are in store.
This year was hard for me. Probably my hardest year yet. I lost my little brother in early 2022 and my world completely flipped upside down. I came back to Wisconsin to be closer to my family and had to confront a lot of uncomfortable truths: immortality, loss, grief, pain, sorrow. But I also witnessed something so beautiful it continues to shake me to my core: LOVE. The outpouring of love I have felt this year from friends, family members, neighbors, and my Midwest community has replenished my heart in ways I didn’t know possible. It showed me what genuine care feels like and renewed my faith in the goodness (dare I say greatness) of humanity. In a world that can feel divisive and at odds with one other, I am here to personally remind you that there is a lot of good floating out there too, and I want to celebrate that this month.
This December, we are choosing to shine a light on the good. This isn’t to be remiss or avoidant of the strife, but to give everyone a permission slip to let some light shine through.
We’re rounding out the year on a High Note and encourage you to do the same. In the following weeks, we’ll be sharing personal interviews, guest edits, photo reels, and feel-good holiday rituals to sprinkle some sparkle on your holiday mood.
Shine On, friends 🌟
2022 High Notes
Friend Favs: The Holiday Edit
I’m convinced the best recommendations come directly from our friends. I can’t tell you how many text chains are shaped by conversations spanning beauty, skincare, local restaurant recs, style advice, and where to stay while traveling. You get that no-nonsense, unfiltered, unedited, love-it or list-it real talk which I find super refreshing, not to mention trustworthy. Confidants is all about discovery, so we thought it would be fun to start a forum where we bring our Confidant crew into the fold. From Kristen Goodwin, our trusted advisor on all things beauty and skincare to Shaina Anderson, a true culinary savant and one of the most thoughtful gift-givers we know — there is an abundance of treasures to be shared and discovered. I still remember when Shaina gifted me my first box of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes and a whole new world blossomed.
So starting this week, we’ll be focused on things that are bringing our community JOY this season. From favorite holiday rituals to curated giftables, we hope these recommendations spark a little something within you. If you have something you’d like to contribute, please reach out! We’d love to hear from you.
So without further ado, here’s this week’s Friend Favs roundup:
Storied Giftables, curated by Sara Osias
Hi new best friend, I’m Sara. I live for trying new things and exploring new places. I do judge a product by its packaging and dream of one day running my own hotel. In the meantime, I oversee all things experiences for the hotel brand, Auberge Resorts Collection.
Sarah Espeute’s tablecloth embroidery which is made in Marseille.
These ceramic vases by Alison Owen.
Loving this embroidery artist who takes vintage photographs and turns them into new masterpieces. The texture is epic. Would love to do this on a friend or wedding photo!
All things by Artist, Cara Reid.
Wearable poetry by Kelsey Armstrong. Handmade in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (think shrinky dinks made into epic bracelets or earrings).
Nostalgic Rituals, curated by Liz Atchison
I’ve spent a lot of time as of late finding intention in the small day-to-day moments. I’m a mom of two, yogi, top 40 junkie, and love some good quality time with friends and a glass of wine.
When it comes to holiday joys, it’s pretty minimalistic for me. I really lean into the senses. I swap all hand soaps to pine or fir scents. Tea. So many candles. I play with lighting (it’s so dark out it’s the perfect season to lean into light creativity) So many cozy blankets. Holiday movies and Christmas jazz. Home-made simple syrup for cocktails (1:1 honey + water) and this Cinnamon Rosemary Old Fashioned. Recipes that go against my regular eating routine and are grounded in nostalgia.
Sacred Blossom Tea - Local midwest tea I visit at the summer markets to stock up for winter. Great flavor palettes!
‘Sota Cracklers! - MN made soy candles with a crackling wood wick; the perfect way to stay cozy during the winter months. A candle that sounds like a fireplace?! What more could you want.
Holiday Scented Foam Soap - There is something special about the scent of pine; a small simple touch while washing hands goes a long way towards joy.
Faribault Blankets - This blanket is the actual best. Warm. Cozy. You can’t go wrong!
My favorite tradition is actually from Bryan’s grandma. she’s no longer with us but we get one of these crystal ornaments each year, it’s become an incredibly important thing to me.
Like always, we love ending our notes with inspiration, so here are some of the people, places, messages, and musings that are inspiring us lately ✨
This new hospitality venture is the answer to all my modern bohemian dreams.
Loving this holiday shimmer and smoke makeup tutorial.
This crafted door display takes holiday decorating to new heights. Gorgeous.
Dolly Parton just joined TikTok, what a holiday charmer.
This message of wanting to share more of the messiness of life is so relatable. Same, same, same, same. (thx Sara)
A Solid Negroni made with Campari, French Gin, Jello, and Clarified Orange. YUM.
I recently discovered Anj through Lauren and instantly felt enchanted by her work and aesthetic. From photography to food to non-linear storytelling, everything she touches is brimming with authentic expression, sensory stimulation, and absolute beauty.
She started @hiaj.eats a few years ago to honor what she calls “simple home cooking” to see what food could be, on a plate, without a bunch of background noise. She recently created these recipe cards filled with so much care, thoughtfulness, and stories of personal significance. Recipes pre-orders and other prints are available on her website. What a JOY.
Thanks for being here! If you have friends who would love this, please send it on- we’re excited to expand this community. xoxo - Your Confidants, Fenny & Katie