Friday, January 17, 2020

words are beautiful

While reading today's email edition of Mindful News, I followed a link to Joanna Goddard's blog, A Cup of Jo. She wrote an article called, What's the Most Beautiful Thing You've Ever Read? 

I was immediately intrigued. I have a fascination with words. Obviously, one of my passions is writing. I'm a voracious reader and keep a running list of beautiful passages I find in books. I do the same with quotes. I enjoy poetry readings. The library and bookstores are two of my favorite places.

As of right now, Joanna's blog has 1157 comments in response to her question! I've only had time to go through a handful of the comments and I've found some real goodies. Of course, those have been copied and pasted into a Word document so I can refer back to them when I so desire.

I thought it'd be fun to ask you ~ my readers ~ what is the most beautiful thing you've ever read? Please share with all of us. It can be lines from a book, a particular quote, a poem, song lyrics, a Bible verse...whatever words have moved you.

{My current reads}

I'll start out by sharing a few of my favorite, beautiful words with you. I had a hard time picking out what to share. There's so much!


Why do people keep asking to see God's identity papers when darkness opening into morning is more than enough?
 (Mary Oliver)

We would be together and have out books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright.
 (Ernest Hemmingway)


The blueberries were ready now, soft, inky, desperate to stain. And there was the snow, outside my window, smothering the earth. I imagined that all things in life had their singular drives - to stain, to smother, to support, to survive, to nurture. The sink said, Splash me, and the oven said, Stuff me, and the refrigerator, the caretaker, hummed, I am here, I am here. I stood in the middle of my kitchen like the clever oiler of their machinery, but a piece of me wished to be elsewhere. A piece of me wanted to walk into the snow, to disappear slowly from view, to draw around myself in a watertight line. 
(Nora Seton, The Kitchen Congregation)


Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

OK, your turn!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

winter wellness

Now that winter is in full swing, I know many people who are sick: Colds, flu, a lingering virus that produces a chronic cough. My husband and I haven't been sick in years. I attribute a lot of that to our healthy lifestyle and wellness tips, so I thought I'd share some of them with you:

Wash your hands every single time you walk in your house from being out in public. Washing your hands with warm water and soap (skip the antibacterial stuff) is the most important thing you can do to keep germs from spreading. Store cart handles, public bathroom faucets and handrails, keyboards and desks are the worst for germ-laden surfaces. 

Keep your hands away from your face. Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth ~ or else use a disposable tissue.

I can't stress this enough: eat a healthy diet. By that, I mean real food. Stay away from fast food, prepared foods, sugar, and frozen grocery store dinners.  As Robert Lustig, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco says, "If I could suggest one change to someone's eating habits for health, it would be to eat real food."

(Organic chicken cooked in the Crockpot with tomatoes, coconut milk, onion, garlic & ginger - topped with cilantro; basmati rice with sauteed barberries, onion and saffron; broccoli sauteed in coconut oil)

 Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits (click here for which produce you should be buying organic), some whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and limited dairy. If you choose to eat meat, try to buy grass-fed, local meat or choose organic at the grocery store. If you eat fish, make sure it's wild-caught, not farmed.

Certain supplements can help boost your immune system, especially in the winter. Most of us in the more northern climates are lacking in vitamin D, due to the lack of sunshine. Elderberry is powerful in preventing colds and flu or lessening symptoms. You can find it in syrup or capsule form. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin C by eating citrus fruits (and they're at their peak in winter!) and if not, take a supplement. You can also look into zinc, echinacea and other immune boosters such as organic mushroom blends. Make sure when you're buying vitamins and supplements, that you get a good brand. Google the company and see where their products are sourced from and manufactured. You want to buy from a reliable company and one that doesn't use unecessary fillers and binders in their products.

Get moving. Bundle up and go outside for a walk ~ it feels good! You not only get the physical benefits from walking outside, but the mental perk, as well. Park far away from stores when you're running errands. If it's simply too cold to walk outside, go to a huge store and walk up and down every aisle and circle the perimeter of the store a few times. If you live near a mall, go indoor mall walking. Use stairs, not the elevator. Practice yoga to improve flexibility, balance, strength and respiration. When you're in your house, maybe even doing some housework, turn on some music that makes you move. 

Practice meditation. It lowers your blood pressure, improves heart rate and breathing, relieves tension and tightness from muscles, reduces stress, improves sleep, and boosts the immune system.

Diffuse essential oils. For winter wellness, try a couple of drops each of cinnamon, clove, orange, eucalyptus and rosemary. For respiratory illness, try a mixture of peppermint, tea tree, lemon and eucalyptus. If you have pets in the house, please check with your veterinarian first about diffusing oils. Some vets say it can be dangerous for them to inhale.

Keep hydrated. Drink a lot of filtered water (I keep sliced lemons in mine for a little bit of flavor) and herbal and green teas (unsweetened, of course). Stay away from sodas, even diet ones which are filled with artificial sweeteners and are linked to numerous health conditions.

To your health! 💓

*Disclaimer: the information in this post and on this blog is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition or treatment.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

new year's eve

It'll be a quiet New Year's Eve here, but that's nothing new. We prefer it that way. We'll order Thai food and watch a movie, and then Brian is going to bed early. He has to get up in the middle of the night to go to work. 

Earlier today, I read of typical New Year's Eve celebrations in Sri Lanka and Haiti. In Sri Lanka, the holiday is actually celebrated in April - after the first full moon. It's a three-day celebration spent with family, playing games and cooking together, visiting friends and family, then going to the temple to chant and meditate. It's a time to stop the busyness and focus on what matters most. In Haiti, most people go to church in the evening.

What a difference from how most Americans celebrate New Year's Eve! 

New Year's Eve always makes me think about a family friend. Thirty-two years ago, while driving home from dropping his wife off at work (it was actually very early morning on New Year's Day), he was hit by a drunk driver and killed. I was in the hospital at the time, five months pregnant with Philip and very sick. (I had hyperemesis gravidarum.) I wasn't told the news until I got home. My mom thought it'd be too upsetting to me while I was in the hospital.

There is never an excuse to drive intoxicated, especially these days with Uber and Lyft. Set up a plan ahead of time to have a sober Designated Driver. There's also cabs, buses, and trains. The Metra line here in the Chicago area is giving free rides on New Year's Eve after 6:00 p.m.

Love, peace, good health and happiness to you all in 2020.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

a whirlwind of holiday activity

Hi there! How was your Christmas or Hanukkah? My celebrations were good, though truthfully, I'm glad it's over for another year. Every year just seems to be too much in every which way. I'm glad I decorated less this year but next year I vow to say no to most party invitations. I am peopled out! Too much socializing for this introvert.

Christmas Eve, we went to my cousin's house. We witnessed the most beautiful sunset on the way. This photo was taken out the car windshield. (No worries, I was the passenger.)

 I didn't take many photos at my cousin's house as I kept my phone mostly put away in my purse, but I did manage to get this one of Hank the dog kissing my mom. The funny thing about this photo was my mom was scared of going to our relative's house because of her two pit bulls. Turns out, they were incredibly sweet and my mom fell in love with Hank.

Christmas morning, it was just the two of us and the kitties. This was the first time in 31 years that we didn't have any children at home with us on Christmas morning. This was our 11th Christmas without Phil and as most of you know, Tim moved to California last month.

 I still made my traditional breakfast casserole. And I poured my coffee into my new thermal Dunkin' Donuts commuter mug. That was one of Brian's presents to me ~ with a DD gift card inside. I love their coffee and it just so happens that our little town just opened a store right up the road from our house. I didn't know until I saw it on social media from someone else, that DD discounts their coffee if you bring in your DD commuter mug to get it filled.

With our temps being almost 60 degrees on Christmas Day (!!), we later took our usual walk around the neighborhood to get a little exercise, then my mom came over for pizza. After she left, we video-chatted with Tim and opened up our gifts to each other.

All over social media, I've seen memes and people talking about how the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is one is sure what day it is, everyone is tired of heavy foods and cookies, and binging on Netflix seems to be the norm. I can relate to the too much heavy food and sweets, but otherwise I've actually been pretty busy since Christmas: Christmas clearance shopping (we buy our Christmas bags and wrapping paper, and calendars and planners for the next year all at 50% off the day after Christmas); taking photos and listing items to sell on social media; taking down all the Christmas decor and getting it packed away, plus donating a ton of Christmas decor that I no longer felt a need to keep; and deep cleaning and setting the house back to its "rights".

We took a day trip to our favorite antique store where I found this large, awesome jar for only $8 and we also tried Afghan food for the first time. I had the vegetarian platter which was amazingly delicious, especially the baby pumpkin which was cooked with honey and onions. Entrees are served with traditional Afghan basmati rice - topped with raisins and carrots. 

New Year's Eve is coming up in a few days. But that's no big deal for us. We'll most likely just have a quiet night at home. Brian's back to work super early on New Year's day. 

My hope for all of us for 2020 (sounds so futuristic!) is much love, many blessings, peace, and good health. God bless you.

Monday, December 23, 2019

getting by and happy holidays

Everyone is familiar with the lyrics from "With a Little Help From My Friends". It is so true, isn't it? Friends that we've known since childhood, friends that we've met in our neighborhood, friends that we've met online, friends that we've met in book clubs or yoga class or church or whatever group you may have joined: They are all precious to us and hopefully provide some of the spirit boost that we all need, especially at this time of year.

This was my first time meeting in person with these lovely ladies. (That's me with the light hair and glasses peeking out waaay in the back, middle.) As an introvert, totally out of my comfort zone to join a big group. In fact, I went home with a massive headache and swore never to join such a big group again, but it was incredibly lovely getting to know some of these ladies. Unfortunately, what we have in common is that we've all lost a child due to drugs. One of the women in this group has actually lost two children due to this horrible disease of addiction.

This smaller group of friends is more my speed. 😉 As always, I'm poking my head into the photo, on the left this time. About five women who normally join this group were missing, but we meet every equinox and solstice for a Women's Circle and dinner. This group of women are the most supportive and uplifting women that I've ever met. And we couldn't all be more different: married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay, lawyer, doula, yoga instructor, social worker, writers, office workers, business owner, moms of biological children, moms of adopted children, childless. The woman in the front, middle with dark hair and glasses is my First Best Friend. We met when we were three years old and still have a very strong bond. The blonde woman with the green scarf in front was my first yoga teacher who is now a good friend.

We've had the most beautiful weather here for the end of December...lots of sun and temperatures in the 40's and even low 50's yesterday.

Brian and I took time to recharge in nature yesterday with a walk in the State Park.
It actually smelled like spring out there, even though it was the first day of winter.

This was an accidental shot with my phone during yesterday afternoon's walk in the State Park. I didn't even know I took it until I looked through my phone's photos. I thought it was cool how I accidentally captured the moon and the sun at the same time.

Thanking you all for your friendship and love...I'm so grateful for all of you. May your holiday season be filled with peace, love, and blessings.


Saturday, December 14, 2019

o little christmas tree and a little something new

It's hard to believe that Christmas is just 11 days away. I went to a Christmas party last weekend and have two more parties this week. Have had gatherings with friends at a wine bar, tea-and-talk, and dinners, so it's already been a busy month. 

Our weather still continues to be all over the place; some days with sun, others with rain or just simply gray and dreary, and temps anywhere from the teens to the 40's. No snow though! Looks like we probably won't be having a white Christmas here in IL. 

Even though it's cold, Brian and I like to bundle up and go for brisk walks down to the lake when he's home from work. 

 There are hundreds of Canada geese on the lake...this was just a small bunch in the photo. 

 In my last post, I mentioned that we put up a small tabletop tree instead of a big one. I didn't show the tree in my last post because it wasn't decorated yet. Here it finally is, but you might notice that the lights don't go all the way to the top. There's a story behind that. I had decided that this year I wanted simple white lights, not colored ones like we put up every year in the past. I got a box of little white lights from Wal-Mart and they were way too bright. I wanted soft light. So back they went. Then I found soft white lights at Target and we tried those. The bulbs were too big for the little tree. It looked terrible. So those went back, too. I was done looking for "the perfect lights". I told Brian we'll just use what we have. So we got out the strand of colored lights, Brian wound them around the tree (he does the lights; I do the ornaments) and...they came up short. He said we needed another strand of lights and would re-do the whole tree and my reaction was, "No - I am DONE with lights!" Then he said he would take off the strand of lights and re-string those to try and make them go to the top. I just laughed and said forget it. Martha Stewart isn't coming over and I'm not a Big Blogger whose decor has to be absolutely perfect for photos and social media. It's one of those things where "good enough" is just that.

I'm putting my Christmas cards in this white box this year. We've only received a handful, but the quantity usually picks up as Christmas draws near. Do you still send Christmas cards? I sent out about 15 this year. I only send them to friends and family that live far away, or that are going through a particularly hard time.

All these items under the console table were vintage finds over the years, except for the tall wooden Santa. He was found at Goodwill many years ago. That little cardboard tube Santa by the sleigh holds matches. And the collection of four Santas on the yellow suitcase are actually wooden bells. One of my favorite vintage Christmas finds from last year.

 And now for a little something new...we had points from our Visa card that we had to use by the end of the year or else we'd lose them. We looked on the web site and couldn't find anything that we wanted or needed for the small amount of points we had. Then we came across this red Le Creuset tea kettle. Brian drinks tea in the morning (I like my coffee first thing in the morning), but we both like herbal tea in the late afternoon or evening during the cold weather. And I'm a big Le Creuset fan ~ plus red for my kitchen ~ yes! 

Have you have a fun and blessed weekend!

Friday, December 6, 2019

christmas decor at comfy house

Hello friends! Thanksgiving has come and gone and it was one week ago today that Tim left for California. He had a good road trip, stopping at cool restaurants along the way in Oklahoma (Don Thomas in Pryor where he claims had the best biscuits and gravy) and Texas (The Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery in Amarillo), and making a four-hour stop at the Grand Canyon. Tim took photos of the Canyon with his "real" camera (he's a professional photographer) so I can't wait to see them when he gets his computer set up and has time to work on his photos.

The first few days after Tim left were hard. I had terrible anxiety the whole time he was on the road, but he was very good at keeping in touch with me. Then I was sad for a few days. But now that he's there and seems very happy, I'm feeling settled and relieved. Sure, I miss him...but I'm just happy that he's happy. 

Most of you that have followed my blog over the years know that I'm not real big on Christmas, especially since Phil passed away in 2009. Plus, with getting older, I just don't have the desire to decorate for the seasons much anymore. It's so much work and there's so much crap  stuff to store. I've been purging and donating Christmas decor every year for the past few years. We don't put up a big tree ~ too much work and no desire. We do put up a small tabletop tree but that's not decorated yet, so no photos of that to share right now.

Here's what I've done this year in the living room. I decided to go with with a natural theme...greenery, pine cones and touches of aqua, silver and white.

I may or may not hang some kind of banner from the mantel.

I love bottle brush trees and wish I had more, but I couldn't find any in the stores this year. Sold out early? These were some from last year.

Aqua baubles adorn the vintage pottery...

I saved most of the red decor for the kitchen...

When it came time to decorate the china cabinet, I didn't like the look of the dark wood on the back of the middle shelf. Previously, I had yellow and blue print scrapbook paper taped on the back. But, of course, that didn't go with Christmas decor, so I took it down.

 I tried a couple of different Christmas scrapbook papers and they didn't look good ~ they were too "busy". Then I spied aTrader Joe's bag with a simple Christmas design. It hit me - I could use that!

 OK, so I didn't measure and I didn't line the patterns up either, but I hope no one looks that close. ;-) It's funny...I'm a perfectionist in general, but not when it comes to things like that.

 Looks like I need to iron my table runner. Oh well!

 Looking from the kitchen into the living room.

The only decor in the main bathroom...touches of pink and green go well with the dark gray walls.

A little bit of decor on the dresser in the spare bedroom...

Lastly, the end of the hallway wouldn't be complete without my aunt's reindeer and sleigh that she gave me many years ago that she made in a ceramics class.

Thanks for visiting and have a wonderful weekend!