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 weird...no 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!