Thursday, December 31, 2020

i wish for you...

Here we are, the last day of 2020. I know we are all glad to bid adieu to this year, so I won't belabor the point.

Looking back over this year, there were some unexpected, painful issues (and some scary diagnoses from friends and family), deaths of acquaintances and friends, disappointments and hurts from loved ones. But that is life. We can't expect to go through life unscathed from hurt and pain. We can, however, choose how we deal with these things. Prayer, meditation, journaling, talking with a good friend, therapy ~ whatever it takes to help us through.

Life, of course, is balanced with happy times and there were plenty of those, even in our Covid and nasty election filled year. The best thing that happened in 2020 was our trip to California to see our son, Tim. It was right before Covid really hit the US and any restrictions were in place. When we had made our plans to see Tim in early March, we hadn't realized it was California's rainy season. Nor did we see a pandemic looming on the horizon.

Turns out, the timing on our trip was for the best. By the time we got home, Covid hit the poop-fan. I still remember getting home from the airport and going to the grocery store for needed items. We walked into the store at 10:30 PM and it was packed. The bread section was wiped entirely clean. The produce section didn't even have bananas. There was no toilet paper. We thought people were going crazy, just like they did at the end of 1999. Remember the Y2K panic?

I have been working on end-of-year journaling and setting intentions and goals for the new year. It's been popular the last few years to choose a word to focus on for the year: A word that guides with intention and positive change. Do you choose a word? I did so a couple of years ago and it lost the luster (or maybe I did) after a few months. I might try it again for 2021.

No New Year's Eve celebration here for us. Just another day. When Brian gets home from work, perhaps we'll have a little something to eat, have a glass of wine, relax a little bit, then go to bed at our usual time. 

My wish and prayer for all of you for 2021 is ~

Enough love to sustain you through all your hard days.
Enough kindness that it spills over to those around you.
Enough strength to face whatever comes your way.

Thank you all for your friendship and kind comments.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

quiet christmas

I don't know about you, but I'm glad Christmas is over. It's not just this year; I feel that way every year. I think it's just all of it...the decorating, the list making, the present buying (finding the "perfect" gifts!), the wrapping, the did-I-forget-anyone feeling, the card sending, the baking, the anticipation, the missing loved ones that are no longer with us, the get-togethers. Though we didn't do that this year.

Don't get me wrong; our Christmas day itself was lovely. I made my annual breakfast casserole and we also indulged in an almond Kringle while opening our gifts. Of course, the cats were included. Later in the day, we had a video call and gift opening with Tim. We were hoping he could come home for Christmas, but he had to work.

Brian is usually stumped what to get me for Christmas, so this year I helped him out. I have a favorite artisan shop in a nearby town that carries a unique selection of handmade and vintage finds. A few weeks before Christmas, we browsed the shop and I pointed out some of the items I really liked. I stepped outside and let Brian shop and pick a couple of things while I waited. One of the items he chose was this handmade bracelet. He also chose a beautiful, soft winter scarf made in Germany that I was eye-balling. He did good!

Best of all, Brian surprised me with a writer's medic bag. (By the way, my shirt says, "Eat, drink and be meowy." It's a Life is Good shirt.)

This gorgeous leather bag is handmade by Galen Leather in Istanbul, Turkey. It unfolds to showcase places for pens, journals, and writing essentials. A friend of ours had posted about this bag on Facebook last month. Her husband had given her this bag for her birthday. I had commented on the post how much I loved the bag. Brian saw my comment and took it from there. πŸ˜‰ 

Here's a little history behind the bag.

Brian's hard to buy for. Not because he's picky. Far from it! He's non-materialistic. He loves books though, especially anything about Chicago or his favorite sports team, the Cubs. I ended up finding several Chicago books he amazingly hadn't read yet.

The end!

All the Christmas decor is taken down and packed away until next year. I was tired of looking at it and the house started feeling cluttered. Since our winters are mostly dismal and it gets dark at 4:30, I'm leaving up fairy lights and candles to cast a warm glow.

We have a big winter storm heading our way this afternoon. The first snowfall of the season. They're saying our area will get whopped with snow with ice mixed in, plus winds up to 30 mph. Power outages are a possibility. And it figures: Brian has been on vacation these past two weeks and he goes back to work tomorrow morning. I worry when he has to travel in this kind of weather, especially since he has a 25 mile commute. 

I hope to be back with an end-of-year post on New Year's Eve. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

almost christmas

How are everyone's Christmas preparations going? Are you done with the present buying, wrapping, Christmas card sending, decorating, and baking?

I made two kinds of cookies last week and put the dough balls in the freezer. This morning, I baked all the cookies and after they were cooled down, packaged them into pretty tins and delivered to four neighbors.

I haven't wrapped a single gift yet. I'm still waiting on two more Christmas presents to come in the mail. Sure hope they arrive on time! Otherwise, admittedly, I'm a procrastinator when it comes to wrapping. I don't enjoy it, so I put it off as long as possible.

Last week, on a brilliantly sunny but COLD afternoon, Brian and I took a trip to Brookfield Zoo. We hadn't been there since our boys were little. The reason for our trip this time was bittersweet.

Every year, Wake the Nation puts up a Christmas tree at the zoo, along with the hundreds of other trees that are sponsored by other groups or individuals. Wake the Nation is a non-profit organization that brings drug awareness and education to the community, as well as providing support to those suffering with addiction and their loved ones.

As a lot of you know, our oldest son, Philip lost his battle to addiction in September 2009. He was just 21 years old. We have Phil's photo and ornament put on the Wake the Nation Christmas tree every year. Volunteers from Wake the Nation do a wonderful job of decorating this tree with loved ones ornaments and photos every year.

In all the years that we've had Phil's ornament and photo a part of this tree, we had never seen it in person. We've only seen photos that were posted on the Wake the Nation Facebook page. It was hard to see this tree in many young people's beautiful faces and smiles, knowing that they were all no longer part of this world. Of course, it was especially hard seeing our son's name and photo on this tree.

In other goings-on, I had a lovely tea-and-chat visit with my aunt the other day. We hadn't seen each other since Labor Day, so it was wonderful to see each other in person again. We were careful...we've both been recently Covid tested (both negative), we socially distanced, and we didn't hug each other. Such a strange and unnerving time we're living in.

I won't be posting again until after Christmas, so here's hoping that all of you stay healthy and well and make the best of your holiday, no matter how you're celebrating it this year.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

touches of holiday cheer in my kitchen ~ and letting go of the thief of comparison

Hello there, friends! Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post about my living room. The blogging world and social media in general can be both a blessing and a curse. It's easy to get sucked into the comparative trap, especially this time of year with all the holiday house tours. I took a look at a few of them and yes, the houses were stunning. Huge, perfect houses with perfect decor. And therein lies the problem: perfection. Social media presenting the facade. Don't get me wrong ~ I love me some decor eye candy. Some of this "perfect" decor can even be inspiring. We just can't let it be the thief of our own joy. Let's sit on the front porch in the sunshine with our coffee, thinking about all that for awhile. πŸ˜‰ For real though, is is sunny and 52 degrees F here in Illinois today, which is rare for December. It feels more like a spring day. I'm taking full advantage of it today as rain and snow move in starting tomorrow. Yucky, cold, depressing weather.


I digress. Back to Christmas decor...

You won't see my house on any Big Blogger house tours. I'm fine with that. I love my small, cozy house; even the outdated kitchen. I know my cabinets need updating and that we need a backsplash and new countertops. The faux wood trim around the window has to go. Recessed lighting would be a bonus. That will all happen in due time. In the meantime, this room is the hub of our home. It's the place where good, nourishing food is made and served; board games are played; and intimate conversations over tea and coffee are had with friends.

I keep my kitchen table decor simple since the table is small. It's easy to remove the placemats and runner and push the centerpiece to the side if we want to play backgammon, Scrabble, Yahtzee or Double Shut the Box. 

Here's another view of my kitchen. I like having a large enough kitchen to have a small table and chairs; however, this is our only dining space. We don't have a separate dining room.

Now for the small personal touches of Christmas:

Christmas mugs hang on the mug rack...

The china cabinet on the outside...

and looking inside.

I picked up this little pine tree at Trader Joe's the other day. I guess you can tell I rather fancy that store, seeing their hand soap and tea are on the cake plate, as well. The ornaments on the tree were passed down to me from an elderly woman who is a long-time family friend. There's an entire bag of these tiny wooden ornaments ~ soldiers and snowmen and angels and rocking horses. I believe she said they originally came with a small tree that she decorated every year. The milk glass cake plate belonged to my great-aunt who passed away years ago.

Santa mugs on top of the stove; Christmas glasses and a Marshall Field's cookie container tin the nook above the microwave. All items were thrifted years ago.

I love anything Marshall Field's. The store is near and dear to my heart. I have fond memories of shopping at one of the suburban locations with my maternal grandma. It was always considered one of the classiest, customer-service driven stores with high quality merchandise. The flagship store was on State Street in Chicago, though I only visited that location a handful of times. I ended up working at the suburban location when I was a teenager. I have never stepped foot into a Macy's store since they took over Field's in 2006. It's just not the same.

Vintage nesting Santas are on top of the fridge. There's two more of them, but three were enough for this space.

Decor on the shelf by the table. As most decor items in my house, everything here was thrifted over the years. 

I purchased these handmade wooden votive holders yesterday from a local artisan. She delivered them to my doorstep. Aren't they beautiful? I love supporting local, independent artists when I can. What I really like about these is that they're not too Christmas-y. I can use them all winter. They're on the ledge of the opening that's between my kitchen and living room.

Our homes, our decor, are personal. It doesn't matter if we follow the latest trends or have the most up-to-date furniture and decor. What matters is that we decorate with what we love; what brings a smile to our faces and a sense of peace and welcoming when we walk through the door.

Be safe, be well, do more of what makes you happy. 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

christmas in my living room

Hello friends, hope you all are well and doing the best you can during this pandemic. Just about every day I hear about someone else I know that's Covid positive. Even for those of us who are (thankfully) not ~ and I know that could change on a dime ~ sometimes the stress and anxiety of living through this tough time can get unnerving. 

Thanksgiving this year was just the two of us at home. We found a stuffed turkey tenderloin at Trader Joe's, and then I made mashed potatoes, bourbon corn casserole, Brussels sprouts with pecans, and cranberry-orange relish. After that delicious meal, we went for a quick walk, then came back home to have a Zoom meeting with extended family. It was lovely, but different

The day after Thanksgiving, Brian brought up the couple of boxes of Christmas decor from the basement and I laid most of it out on the coffee table. The next few days were spent putting touches of decor around the house; mainly in the living room and kitchen. Nothing fancy with my Christmas decor. I like to keep it as simple as possible. To be honest, the first couple of days, I was ready to throw my hands up and say forget it. Between removing regular decor and bringing it all down to the basement (lots of trips), and playing around with where to put all the Christmas decor in the house, I was getting frustrated. Some people find this relaxing and enjoyable, I know. The funny thing is, I usually love puttering with decor. But this year...I just wasn't feeling it.

Now that it's done, I am enjoying it, so it's all good. Thought I'd show you the simple touches around my small living room. This is the "entryway" when you come in through the front door. We've been putting up a table top tree for the past 11 years instead of a regular sized tree. In the past, we put the tree on top of the buffet in our living room. But we got rid of the buffet this year and now the only place we had room for even a tabletop tree was the bench in the entryway.

The teardrop shelf you see on the wall to the left holds a vintage Christmas postcard.

I love these vintage wooden Santa bells that I found last year in an antique shop.

Brian's coworker gifted him with this pretty cardinal lantern that lights up and has sparkly glitter floating around.

Just one Christmas pillow on the sofa this year. Oh ~ I moved the sofa from its original diagonal position to under the opening where the old sofa used to be. It works much better for the room this way. That ugly IKEA chair you see poking out will hopefully soon be relinquished to the basement. I've been looking everywhere online (including FB Marketplace) for a blue velvet armchair. No luck so far. The few chairs I found that I did like were overpriced.

The corner stand is new. I ordered it online from Target.

This is one of the Christmas decorations that truly means something to me and gets displayed every year. I got it at a craft fair back in the early 90's.

Sorry for the angled photos of the fireplace, but our living room is so small, that if I backed up enough to take a straight-on photo, I'd crash into the coffee table. Even if I moved the coffee table, there's the couch. Though I suppose that would result in a softer landing. I shouldn't even joke about that. I've tripped over things and fallen three times within the past couple of months. I'm notoriously klutzy and all three times, I wasn't being mindful. Trying to do several things at one time and not paying attention to the task at hand. No worries, I'm fine. 

 I kept the mantel simple with bottle brush trees and angels on one side of the mirror.

Wish the fairy lights were brighter for my daytime photos, but it's been sunny here the past few days so the lights don't show up. That's OK ~ I'll take the sunshine any day!

The table beside the couch holds a vintage sleigh and ornaments...

while the shelving unit above the table gets a little bit of adornment.

I'll be back soon with photos of Christmas decor in my kitchen. Thanks for stopping by! 
Be well and safe. πŸ’“