Monday, December 31, 2018

so long, 2018

Here we are again ~ the end of another year. We made it! Through all our tribulations, trials, blessings and victories, we made it. I always like to reflect back on the year and ponder over all the happenings and then set my intentions (not resolutions!) for the new year. 

One thing's for sure: Life is uncertain and heartbreaking. This year alone, two friends passed away from cancer and one from heart disease. Two more friends were newly diagnosed with cancer and are still battling that horrible disease. My aunt had surgery for thyroid cancer. My cousin's little girl was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. A new friend's son committed suicide. An online friend's son was killed in a car accident. 

At the end of last year, I wondered how my cats would do in 2018. Zippo was old and had thyroid and kidney disease, as well as eye problems. Clementine was newly diagnosed with kidney disease. As it turned out, my sweet Zippo passed away this November at the age of 19-1/2. I know he lived a long, good life with us, but it was still one of the most grievous things we've gone through. 

When you're a homeowner, something is always breaking, needing replacing or repairing. This year, our central air conditioning conked out - on one of the hottest days this summer. Our dishwasher also needed replacing; in fact, we got a new one just a few days ago. In May, I came home one day to find half the gutters and soffits on the south side of our house ripped off and hanging on the ground. And in November and December, we had our old, rotting front porch and deck ripped out and replaced with Trex decking. I don't want to show any before and after photos of that right now; I will write a post and post photos in the spring when the landscaping looks better and we're able to put plants on the porch, etc. Right now everything is so muddy.

Not everything is gloom and doom, of course. There were a lot of blessings this year, too. Besides all the times I got together with family and friends, I got to meet up with one of my dearest friends who lives in Canada, when she was in Wisconsin this summer. 

After over a year of searching the house, I found my lost anniversary band. 

For the first time, I did a freelance job as a beta reader ~ and loved it. 

I went to a couple of workshops because there's always room for learning, growth and self-improvement. One of the workshops is a writing one and will continue into the new year.

 I also had some sessions with a life/wellness coach to help with my anxiety. I learned more about practicing mindfulness in those sessions. Did it help? In some ways, yes and in other ways, no. 

The other major event that happened in our family this year was that Tim moved out and into his own apartment. It was a positive move for all of us.

What are you doing tonight for New Year's Eve? Brian and I are staying in. We had takeout Thai food for dinner and will have a glass of wine while watching a Netflix movie. We'll probably be in bed by 11:00 p.m. 

Thank you for reading Comfy House for another year. I am so thankful for all the friendships that I've made through this blog. May 2019 be a year of much love and good health for all of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

christmas recap

It was a lovely Christmas season around here, starting out on the 22nd at my First Best Friend's house. Ten of us ladies gathered for our Winter Solstice dinner and holiday celebration. We do this at the start of every season and these Circles are always one of the highlights of my year.

I told my First Best Friend that walking into her beautiful home is like being enveloped in a big hug. It feels safe, peaceful, welcoming and loving. She said that was the best compliment she could ever receive about her home. 

Christmas Eve was celebrated here at Comfy House with extended family: My mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece, cousin and two sisters-in-law. I was too busy to take many photos, but I like this one I captured of my mom, niece, and sister.

Tim came over Christmas morning and the three of us spent a couple of hours hanging out in the living room, eating breakfast casserole, drinking coffee, opening presents, and just hanging out. Phil is always especially missed at times like these. It should be four of us on Christmas morning.

Of course, the kitties got some presents from Santa, too ~ new catnip toys. There's a matching "naughty" toy go with this "nice" one, but I let Tim take that one home for his roommate's wild and crazy kitten.

Tim and his new Planet Express hoodie...

Brian looking at one of his presents (with Monkey looking on)...

Brian gifted me with several lovely gifts, including this sterling silver necklace from Blue Nile. (Cat hair not included.) I've told Brian numerous times that I have enough jewelry and don't want anymore, but he loves buying me special pieces (especially from Blue Nile) on occasion. Who am I to argue?

Later in the day, Tim went back to his place and Brian went to the nursing home to visit his dad. It was just me and the cats at home and I was alright with that. It felt good to put my feet up and just relax.

As I say every year at this time, I'm glad the holiday season is over. I took down all the Christmas decor on the 26th because to me, Christmas is over ~ and by that time, I'm tired of looking at all of the holiday decor. I know some people follow the Twelve Days of Christmas philosophy and I do get that, but I'm not one of those people. 

When Brian and I were packing all the Christmas decor back up, I took the time to go through the leftover decor in the storage bins (the stuff I didn't use) and ended up donating so much that we're down to two storage bins instead of three! I've slowly been putting the house back together these past few days and I'm loving the cleaner, uncluttered look.

Hope your holidays were wonderful!

Friday, December 21, 2018

winter solstice

Today is the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. The longest night. I'm not a big fan of winter and I used to dread this day, but I'm learning to embrace the coziness and be grateful for the dark; the time to go quiet, to reflect, to go within. It's actually a time of celebration, traditionally with feasting, singing, dancing, fires and spending time with loved ones. I'll be doing just that tomorrow night at my First Best Friend's house. 

I saw these marvelous words and beautiful illustration on Facebook and thought they were worth sharing with you all:


Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself. 
And we as natural human animals are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow. 
But many find the descent into their own body a scary thing indeed, fearing the unmet emotions and past events that they have stored in the dark caves inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have so carefully and unkindly avoided. 

This winter time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this period of descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light. That true freedom comes from accepting with forgiveness and love what we have been through and vanquishing the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure back from the cave of our darker depths.

This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back & chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul. 
A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love.
A period of reconnecting, relearning & reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance. 

This modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, bad food and consumerism. 
And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and people are left feeling as if there is something wrong with them, that winter is cruel and leaves them feeling abandoned and afraid. Whereas in actual fact winter is so kind, yes she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards the darkness and potential death of what we were, but this journey if held with care is essential.

She is like a strong teacher that asks you to awaken your inner loving elder or therapist, holding yourself with awareness of forgiveness and allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, rage, laugh, & face what we need to face in order to be freed from the jagged bonds we wrapped around our hearts, in order to reach a place of healing & light without going into overwhelm. 

Winter takes away the distractions, the noise and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth.

•illustration by Jessica Boehman•
•words Brigit Anna McNeill•

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

best reads of 2018

How can it be only one week until Christmas? I'm pretty much ready except for wrapping gifts, which I always procrastinate on since I dislike it so much. How about you - are you done with everything?

I had a goal of reading 50 books this year. I've read 46 so far, so I have four more to go in less than two weeks. We'll see! I read more non-fiction than fiction this year, but my favorite novel was Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo. The story is in three parts; each story is about the residents on each floor of a three-story apartment building in Tel Aviv. This author draws you in right away and grabs you by the heart. His writing is deep and compelling. Brian read this book after me and he was immediately hooked, too.


Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. She writes about the hard stuff ~ but at the same time, is laugh-out-loud funny. I didn't care for her book before this one (Hallelujah Anyway), but Almost Everything was back on track with what I expected from Lamott. I was flagging pages with sticky tabs as I was reading and by the time I was done with this book, it looked like the book had grown little feathers.

My dear friend, Dewena of Dewena's Window recommended this book to me, as we have a lot of the same tastes in reading. The author weaves tales of her mother and friends and relationships as she finds comfort and comraderie in her kitchen. It's like you pulled up a chair in your best friend's kitchen.

Who doesn't love Susan Branch, the American author and watercolorist? You're probably familiar with her paintings on notecards and calendars and journals and maybe you've even seen some of her cookbooks, but have you read any of her books? Her trio of stories: The Fairy Tale Girl, Martha's Vineyard - Isle of Dreams, and A Fine Romance - Falling in Love with the English Countryside are so enchanting and home-y, that I wanted to crawl inside the books and never leave. I rarely pay full price for books, but I did with these three, as they are books to be treasured over again. The best part is that she's in the middle of writing book four in this series! I can't wait to add it to my collection. And if you're not familiar with Susan's blog, you can find it here. It'll give you a little taste of her writing and illustrations. You'll want to pay a visit to Martha's Vineyard and knock on her door. 

Please share your favorite reads of 2018!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

christmas in comfy house

The past few years it's been the same thing: Brian drags up the containers of Christmas decor, I dig through the contents, and end up with Christmas explosion all over the coffee table and floor. I wander back and forth between our small living room and kitchen, trying to decide where to put each item. And because space is lacking and I have too much Christmas crap (I did start a donation bag), I get frustrated and crabby. Yes, that is a pile of lemon thins and biscotti with two cups of tea on the coffee table amongst the mess. Mr. and Mrs. Claus needed a break.  

I don't do a lot of Christmas decorating; it's mainly just the living room and kitchen. The older I get, the less I want to do. In fact, I may have muttered, "I don't know why I bother" when I was in the midst of my frustration. But once it's done, I do enjoy it.


I have a fondness for vintage Christmas items...I saw this little Santa Claus tube in a shop and wondered what it was. I opened the top and - surprise! - there were matches in it. So cute amongst my Christmas candles.

It's been cloudy and gloomy for days, so the photo quality isn't the best in this post, but if I waited for the sun, I wouldn't be posting until who-knows-when.

See the yellow Pyrex bowl on the bottom of the cart with the wood beads in it?

It's a garland ~ another recent vintage find. I thought I'd be using this garland on the fireplace mantle, but it didn't happen. No matter, they look pretty just plopped in a bowl.

I've had these Debbie Mumm snowman plates for over 20 years. 

Not much going on in the china cabinet. The Meow bowl on top belonged to Zippo. 💔

Both the wooden pointing hand and the wooden Santa bells are also recent purchases from two different antique stores.

Moving on to the living room. Please overlook my paint-stripe-window on the buffet...I was experimenting with chalk paint and didn't finish...

The silver snowflake stocking holders were 75% off at Bed, Bath and Beyond after last Christmas. I put them on the mantle this year and realized I needed something for height in back of the snowflakes. I immediately thought of tall silver candlesticks. I looked in my candle box and didn't have any, so I stopped into Goodwill one day when I was out. I didn't want to pay full price for candlesticks that I was only going to use for Christmas. (Side note: I haven't been in Goodwill in ages. I rarely shop there anymore for several reasons: the store near me is now mostly junk; I don't go in there unless there's something specific I'm looking for since I'm working on clearing stuff out, not dragging so much in; and I can't stand the smell in there. There's some kind of funky odor that all the Goodwill stores have and it permeates everything. And the chemical air freshener that they pump through the store makes me feel sick. I can't buy clothes there anymore, as these odors are so embedded in the fabric, that no matter how much I soak the clothes, wash them and air them out, I can't get the smell out.)

Anywho! I found just the tall silver candlesticks I was looking for. And only 99 cents each.

I had to leave the candlesticks outside all day to air out that funky Goodwill smell, but they're all good now and gracing my mantle.

A vintage sleigh with ornaments and a bottle brush tree for the side table...

White and silver for the ladder bookcase this year...

The metal folding houses on top are from the Target Dollar Spot. The twin bird pottery vase on the middle shelf is my newest McCoy find.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might've seen my new bench from Joss and Main. We don't have a foyer in our home; when you walk in the front door, you're right in the living room. There used to be a console table in this space, and while it looked nice, I always wished for a bench where guests could sit down to take their shoes or boots off and put them back on. It was hard to find a bench that we truly liked and that had space underneath for a shoe/boot tray. This is not a sponsored post, just my honest opinion. We're very happy with this bench. The quality is wonderful and the bench is very sturdy.

As for Christmas decor in the bedrooms, I left the master bedroom alone, but put a few things on top of the dresser in the spare bedroom. A collection of Christmas mice...

and a child figurine reading A Christmas Story, as well as the book in miniature.

The hallway bath got a couple of bottle brush trees and mini ornaments in the tub.

Our front porch and deck that were under construction are now finished, so all I need to pick up is a Christmas welcome mat and a pine wreath for the front door. How about you ~ are you done with your Christmas decorating?