Saturday, December 31, 2016

farewell 2016 and taking care of yourself

From what I've seen on social media, it seems a lot of us are glad to see 2016 go. I don't need to rehash world news here, but it was an "interesting" year, to say the least.

I like to reflect on my own life and goals at the end of the year, and also look back at the happenings of the year. There were lots of good times, but some heartbreaking news as well. Though, of course, that's not surprising. It's all part of life.

I find it helpful to journal some thoughts and goals for the New Year instead of making resolutions. Ask yourself what you discovered about yourself in 2016...what surprised you...what held you back? Did anything change for you? How did you handle these challenges?

What are you looking forward to in the New Year - and what are you unsure about? How can you bring more calm into your life, heart and head this New Year? What will you make more time for? 

That's just a few of the many questions you can ask yourself and think about. Two women who really inspire me toward personal growth and self-care are Jennifer Louden and Susannah Conway. If you need inspiration and motivation, I highly recommend you taking a look at these two blogs. 

In the meantime, wishing you all a blessed and safe New Year's Eve. Are you staying in or going out? For the first time in years, we are going out to dinner in Chicago with some friends. We'll be back way before midnight though ~ don't want to be on the roads after midnight celebrations, that's for sure! 

Thank you for your continued friendship and support of my little blog. You all are appreciated and treasured.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

another christmas come and gone

Christmas Day was spent at my sister's house with extended relatives where we had a spiral ham and turkey breast, a variety of side dishes and appetizers, and homemade pies and cookies. Brian had to work a 12-hour shift, so couldn't join us until later in the evening, which was kind of a bummer. But, after being married 32+ years to someone who has worked in the emergency services field, I'm (somewhat) used to his crazy hours and shifts.

Brian, Tim and I had our Christmas celebration on the 26th since Brian finally had a day off. It was perfect: quiet and relaxing. I made a breakfast casserole and a pot of coffee and the three of us sat in the living room taking our time opening presents and demolishing the breakfast casserole. Please excuse our pajamas and bedhead in the photos. ;-)

Brian totally surprised me with a beautiful leather BedStu purse that I had admired when we were on our weekend anniversary trip to Shipshewana, Indiana in September. He actually took a photo of the purse I was looking at and then contacted the store to have them ship it to his work before Christmas. He also surprised me with a handcrafted silver and gold ring that I saw and tried on in a shop in Evanston in October. When I had asked the artist the price and she told me, I quietly put the ring back in its place. Unbeknownst to me, when we were in a coffee shop and Brian left to feed the parking meter, he went into the artist's shop and made arrangements to buy the ring for Christmas. I don't know what's gotten into my hubby ~ he usually doesn't surprise me like this ~ but I like it!

Of course, the kitties were spoiled, too. I got them catnip filled spider toys and catnip filled felt balls, both of which they love. Even Zippo - at age 17-1/2 - chases the balls around for a little bit. If you're interested, the seller is HERE on etsy.

All the Christmas decorations have been taken down but are still sitting all over the bar and floor in the basement, waiting to be packed away. A job I dread doing, but am grateful for a husband who will end up helping me. I know a lot of people keep their decorations and tree up until at least January 1st, but to me, Christmas is over on the 26th. I'm ready for that cleaner, simpler least for a couple of weeks before the remodeling work begins in our house!

Friday, December 23, 2016

just a little note

Sorry I've been MIA...lots of busyness this time of year. I know most of you are in the same boat. 

Not only have I been busy getting ready for Christmas, but we celebrated Tim's 26th birthday this week, too. From cute, fat, drooly baby to handsome young adult in the blink of an eye!

So, from all of us at Comfy House, including Zippo (enjoying his new catnip-filled spider toy that I found on etsy)...

and Monkey (who loves baskets)...

and Clementine, who enjoys watching birds at the feeder...

may you have a most happy and blessed Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

frigid weather, some general chit chat, and a little more christmas

As I write this post, I can hear the winds howling outside my house and I'm watching gusts of snow fly past the window. The sun is shining but the wind chill temperature is already below zero. I know this is a horrible photo - I just grabbed my phone from where I was sitting and zoomed in outside the living room window to capture this photo of the sparrows lining the fence and fluttering about the bird feeder (and the mourning dove sitting on the branch on the left). The birds are all sitting there like the wind is a gentle summer breeze. They must have some good feathery insulation and super grippy claws in order not to blow right off the fence!

Earlier in the day, I went to open the side door (I can't even remember why now) and I heard this ripping sound and felt the door opening slowly. I was wondering what was going on and when I got the door open, I saw that the velvet ribbon from the wreath had adhered itself onto the ice on the inside of the door! The ribbon pulled away from the wreath as I was opening the door.

Inside, the cats and I have a better idea of trying to stay warm and snuggly, especially in the long, dark, cold evenings. I'm not much of a TV watcher so I've been doing lots of reading.

Last night I was reading on the couch and didn't realize at the time that the cats were each perched on the back cushions. When I got up and saw this, I grabbed my phone to take a picture. Zippo was in a hurry to get up and take my warm spot on the couch, so that's why he's blurry. 

On Monday, Brian was working a later shift so we had a chance to go out to breakfast. There's an old-fashioned diner in town that's been there "forever", but yet in the 26+ years we've lived here, we'd never been there to eat. I had a coupon for a 1/2 off breakfast, so we decided to give the place a try. I have to say, I give the place five stars for ambiance because it looks and feels like hometown Americana. But unfortunately, the food wasn't the greatest. Oh well, you live and learn. Sometimes it's fun just going to a new place instead of the usual.

A few more touches of Christmas around my house...a collection of Santas at the end of the hallway.

Every Christmas season, I put this special bunny on Phil's memory shelf. You'll see that on his scarf it says, "Joy Phil". As for the photo of the heart with the hand on it...when Phil passed away seven years ago, Tim painted that heart on Phil's bedroom wall. As an artist, that was Tim's way of expressing his pain. A few years later when we were painting Phil's bedroom, we asked Tim if he wanted to keep the heart on the wall or if we should paint over it. He wanted us to paint over it. So I took a photo of the heart and framed it for Phil's memory shelf.

In the main bathroom, I added just a few simple touches with angels, a bottlebrush tree, and a bathtub full of mini ornaments.

 Hard to believe Christmas is only 11 days away. I got some gifts wrapped today, which is actually a bit of a miracle. You see, I loathe wrapping (and I'm truly lousy at it), so I usually procrastinate and do that at the last minute. I'd like to make a few different Christmas cookies, too and get those in the freezer. 

How are your holiday preparations coming along?

Friday, December 9, 2016

christmas in the kitchen

One thing I hate about running normal errands this time of year is that everyone is Christmas, traffic is insane, stores are crowded, and lines are verrry long. Even on a Friday. The positive? I didn't encounter any crabby people at all today, like I usually do when out in public. Quite the opposite. I saw a middle-aged woman helping an elderly woman who was parked in a handicapped spot, with putting her groceries in her car and taking the cart back to the cart corral for her. In another store, two older ladies were shopping together and laughing. The one said to the other, "See? I needed to be with you today. You always know how to cheer me up and make me laugh." Made me smile while I was shopping. All the store clerks were in good moods, too. 

I put a little of that Christmas spirit (which we need year-round) in my kitchen with decorations here and there. Again, nothing fancy. Just casual, festive and home-y. That kitchen wall will be going bye-bye next month. We're having an eight-foot pass-through cut out in this wall. On the other side of the wall is the living room. The wainscoting and blue walls will be leaving, too. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the display space for the Santa mugs and Christmas glassware.

I recently bought this trio of tealight holders at Crate and Barrel with a 15% off coupon. Good thing is, I can use them year-round, not just for the holidays. Makes a simple, pretty centerpiece.

Reindeer plates and a vintage Marshall Field's crock (both found at Goodwill years ago) on top of the fridge...

Touches of red and white in the china cabinet...

On the wall to the right of the china cabinet, more red and white...

To the left of the china cabinet, my favorite red and white winter mugs came out of storage...

as well as a milk glass piece that's perfect for holding Earl Grey tea bags.

I attempted to make a coffee and tea station on a tray on the kitchen counter, but it turned into more of a catch-all station!

If you're a coffee drinker and have a Trader Joe's near you, I highly suggest this limited Wintry Blend coffee. I normally don't like flavored coffees, but this one's delicious. From the Trader Joe's web site:

It begins with a blend of quality Arabica coffee beans from a variety of locales, including Sumatra and Guatemala. (There are others, too, but telling you where all the beans originate might just give away the secret to our blend, and well, we wouldn't want to do that!) The beans are roasted to a smooth, medium-dark Vienna roast. But since this is no everyday coffee, we didn't stop there.  After the roast comes the intriguing part, the part where whole green and red peppercorns, fresh whole cloves and chunks of sweet cinnamon are added. The coffee isn't flavored; rather, it's spiked with spices. When the beans and spices have been combined, the blend is given a good grind, making prep a snap, and ensuring the spices are evenly distributed throughout.

 I buy several containers of this coffee so that it lasts me all winter, because it's always sold out right before Christmas. And if you're a tea drinker, I suggest trying Republic of Tea's Comfort and Joy flavor. Between this and the Wintry Blend coffee, it's hard to decide which one to have each morning! I found the tea at World Market, but you can also order it online. The cute mugs were purchased at Kohls years ago. The one that says "Nice" on the front says "Naughty" on back. I'm a little of both ~ how about you? ;-)

More snow is coming here this weekend - they're saying 6+ inches Saturday evening into Sunday. And then the bitter cold will hit on Tuesday, with daytime temps in the single digits and below zero at night. These frigid temps don't normally happen until January. I guess that's what we get for having a warmer-than-average November!

Stay warm and cozy...until we talk again.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

touches of christmas and a taste of winter weather

Hello! I'm finally getting around to showing you some of my Christmas decorating. I keep it simple because I'm the only one doing it, and frankly, as I get older, I just don't have the inclination or energy to go all-out with the holiday decorating. Truth be told, after all the decorating was done, I still thought it was too much. In the back of my mind was, "Why did I bother?" I guess I did it for myself, because the menfolk around here don't seem to care either way. 

I took this shot of the front porch last week when the weather was still mild. We had picked up a couple of branches of that gorgeous winterberry at an outdoor market. Nothing fancy - just stuck it in a metal planter with some pine branches (purchased at Home Depot) and called it a day. I didn't know how to preserve the winterberry, so I read online to use a few inches of anti-freeze in the planter. Of course, this isn't a good idea if you have dogs around, since they might try to drink from it. 

The wreath on the front door has now been replaced with a fresh boxwood wreath, which I got at Trader Joes. It's plain - it needs a pretty bow and some pine cones or something else on it, but I haven't gotten around to decorating it yet. Who knows, it may never get decorated. Oh well, it's pretty as-is and will last long past Christmas. Adds a nice winter touch to the front door. In the meantime, this faux wreath is now hanging on the side door. 

We got our first measurable snow storm on Sunday, dumping 5" of wet, heavy snow. The winterberry looked so pretty peeking out from the blanket of snow.

The first snow is always so pretty and peaceful, especially when it outlines the tree branches. Now two days later, most of the snow is melted already.

I smiled when I saw the purple coneflower. It looked like each one was wearing a little pom-pom. 

Back inside, here's what's going on in the living room. This is our official Christmas tree. We haven't put up a big tree ever since Phil passed away. This will be our 8th Christmas without him, which is so hard to believe. The only ornaments I hang on this tree are some of the ones from Phil and Tim's childhood. To this day, I still buy Tim a "son" ornament every year. Hopefully, someday when he has his own place and decorates his own tree, he'll appreciate this special collection of ornaments.

On the entryway table, I kept things simple with just a few woodland decorations.

I also added holiday touches on and around the ladder bookshelf.

A closer look at the shelves: 

A holiday sprig and stash of mini ornaments in the pottery...

A sparkly butterfly handmade by my dear blogger friend, Penny of

An angel under a cloche...

Couple of vintage-looking ornaments peeking out of more pottery...

A picture frame of photos from when Phil and Tim were little, a family ornament and a Christmas candle...

On the bottom shelf, a vintage-looking car ornament (Michaels) and a vase full of blue and copper ornaments.

 Later in the week, I'll show you the little Christmas touches in my kitchen.
See you then!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

holiday time

My family had a different sort of Thanksgiving this year: for the first time ever, we ate at a restaurant! My grandmother and great-aunt were probably rolling over in their graves. I remember Thanksgiving dinners as a kid...grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all gathered at the designated house; the tables laden with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, my great-aunt's famous bourbon sweet potatoes, my grandma's beautiful jello mold, and several different homemade pies. If there were vegetables, I don't remember those. ;-) 

This photo cracks me up...Tim hates when I take his picture, so he had to make a goofy face. Starting from the front, that's Brian, Tim, my sister, her husband, and my cousin. Not shown are my mom, nieces, and my sister's friends that joined us. So, what are my thoughts on eating at a restaurant on Thanksgiving? I didn't care for it. It's just not the same as eating at someone's home. I didn't get to talk to anyone at the other end of the table. Some of us did go back to my cousin's house for wine and chat though, so that part was fun.

I've just started my Christmas decorating and I'm doing it slowly, so no photos of Christmas decor in my home yet. However, this past weekend I went to some nearby antique shops that were having their Kris Kringle days. It was a sunny day, not too cold - perfect for walking around. 

Usually I'm with my husband, mom or aunt, or a friend ~ but this time, I went by myself. I had a pleasant few hours just looking around.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular...maybe some bottle brush trees at a decent price, but none to be found.

There were a lot of Shiny Brite ornaments (not pictured) for $1 - $2 each. Do you remember those? I didn't buy any since we don't put up a big tree anymore, nor do I need anymore ornaments to fill bowls or vases for decor.

Loved this vintage ceramic Christmas tree, but priced at $75, it didn't come home with me.  I thought this was an unusual one with the snowy garland and the woodland animals.

I did find a couple of inexpensive treasures...

This vintage hand mirror, which I'm planning on using in a small gallery wall in my bathroom. I've been collecting various hooks (for necklaces) to use on the wall, and I thought it'd be neat to incorporate some vintage mirrors, as well. 

I also found this adorable vintage pair of carolers. There's space on top of their hats for little candlesticks, but I think they're cute as is.

Hard to believe tomorrow is December 1st already. How are you doing on your decorating and shopping?