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. 😉 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 I love my small, cozy house; even the outdated kitchen.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. 


  1. Girl, you need to stop following those blog hops. For real. I used to and they are all about the look and I know how easy it is to get caught up in it. That is why I stopped. So I get it. Your home is perfect for you and Brian and the kitties. And it is REAL. That is the best part about it. You live in it and it is true to the name of the blog. :)

    So I will make you feel good about yourself- I am rewriting my book. It sucked. It did. BIG TIME. Long story. But it was a pooper. And now I've been rewriting all afternoon and my Word is not responding. Because my seven year old laptop is not cooperating. LIVING THE DREAM OVER HERE. :)


  2. Hi Melanie - I didn’t realize that you had a blog. Loved that you shared your home and Christmas touches with us. I can’t wait to read more posts!

  3. I love your first paragraph, Melanie, and am right there with you! I wish it hadn't taken me so long to stop chasing what I saw on home tours. And when somehow this last year I got over that I discovered what I really liked for myself. I'm a slow learner.

    But I've always felt that you have a talent for arranging your things--styling them I guess it's called--that looks professional. And I know that someday you'll get the kitchen you've been wanting. You had so much expensive exterior house maintenance work done this year! But your kitchen is charming, just as it is. I would step in your kitchen and want to wander around looking at each little detail, each vintage thing you've slowly collected over the years. I see little stories in the vignettes around the room that I'm sure you could tell me. Those are the things that interest me. And you know I'd be looking through your cookbooks too! And I'd hope you'd have a bowl of some of your delicious winter soups keeping warm on the range. But mostly it would just be fun to sit at your table and talk--I do miss having space for a table in the kitchen. And seeing your sweet kitties, that would be nice. Enjoy your comfy house, it will be lovely to sit by your fire when that snow comes, even though I know you hate it! Stay well, Melanie.

  4. Why did you feel the need to point out flaws? I can’t see any. Everything is lovely and cozy. Have a blessed Christmas.

  5. Hello. I absolutely love the pictures of your cozy, comfy home! It makes me wish you were my neighbor - I would certainly come over for a cup of something delicious and a chat at your kitchen table. I love all of the very special Christmas decorations. Those votive candle holders are stunning. Thank you for sharing your home with your blog friends!

  6. Your house looks wonderful, Melanie! Home sweet home!

  7. I love your home because it looks "lived in". So many of the houses I see make me wonder how they actually live there. Or if they have children or pets. Your votive candle holders are gorgeous. Love them. Enjoy your beautiful and cozy home. Merry Christmas!

  8. That was a lovely view of your home. I so loved it. I think what makes a home are the things we love- memories, pictures, things that make us happy.

  9. I love homes that are filled with memories and things that just strike one's fancy. I'm so eclectic in the way I decorate my home. Comfort first and foremost. Your is the kind of home that I would love to sit and have coffee or tea, and hear the stories behind your mementos and your thrift finds.

  10. Hi Melanie. I love your kitchen, it's cute and cozy. You may not have a dining room but your kitchen is spacious. I think a buffet or hutch against the long wall in your kitchen would look nice. Plus think of all the storage it would provide. I love Trader Joe's too. Haven't been in awhile. Only going to the grocery store every other week. Glad you enjoyed a sunny day. We got lots of snow where we live today. So pretty.

  11. I enjoyed this tour of your home. Everything looks so pretty, with just the right amount of Christmas decorations. I love that beautiful large milk glass plate with the fluted edge, with your little live Christmas tree on it.

  12. I love a kitchen that has a dining table in it! Your Christmas touches are wonderful.

  13. This is one of my favorite posts from you dear friend! I love your upfront honesty - always - and this time you really hit the nail on the head when it comes to living in small houses. . . . . .as do I! Our neighborhood is quickly turning into one of brand new, million dollar plus, 'grand mansions' - probably close to 50 having been built just this year during the pandemic! We are approached almost daily by someone wanting to buy our 1,400 square ft cottage on a 1/4 acre lot. . . . so they can knock it down and put up a 2-3 storey mansion!

    Meanwhile, like you, I love my smallish space and, although I too would enjoy a new kitchen, at this point in time I'm happy to live with what I have. We too have a table in the kitchen, plus a moveable island - it's probably the room I spend most of my time in.

    Your decorations for the holidays are lovely, just enough and so pretty - especially love the votive holders and the nesting Santas.

    Enjoy your coffee outdoors while the weather is friendly - I do that also on the front porch - often watching the very young couples jogging around the cul-de-sac before heading back to their nearby million dollar mansions!!!

    Hugs to you and Brian, enjoy each day, stay well and have a lovely Christmas.
    Mary XX

  14. You are real and very honest with your thoughts in this post. I think we all love the beauty of feeling like we are looking through a magazine when we see the bigger bloggers beautiful perfectly decorated homes. In reality most of us do not live like that. I certainly do not in my 870 sq. foot home. I love your kitchen and all your sweet decor. It is cozy and pretty. I have so many favorite memories of shopping at Marshall Fields and going to the Walnut room at Christmas with the girls all decked out in their Christmas dresses to see Santa and have breakfast. I was so sad when Macy's bought them out and you are right it has never been the same. Our beautiful weather left us and now the reality weather is moving in this weekend. Stay cozy and warm in your cozy home. xoxo Kris

  15. Melanie, I normally don't like the look of brown wooden cabinets. But in your kitchen they look cozy and beautiful. And those shiny floors! In fact I'll go so far as to say that I think your kitchen with it's browns has to be the most impressive kitchen in those colors I've ever seen, and that's saying a lot since I look at kitchens online every single day! I love in kitchen dining. I hate separate dining rooms. So inconvenient for the cook. And the coziness factor is just nonexistent I have looked at Christmas blogger tours this year and I found all their decorating a bit depressing. Didn't pin a one of them! They always look pretty much the same and I didn't think they were cheerful in any way at all. I would love to have your kitchen.

  16. Mel your kitchen is perfect. So clean and inviting. I love it’s energy. Perfect spot for a chat and a good cup of coffee or tea.
    I remember going to the Marshall Fields on State St on one of my first business trips. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We only had Macy’s here in New York. I, like you worked there as a teenager.
    I love how you balance your decor. It takes thought.
    Have a good weekend!

  17. I love your home! I love it because it isn't "all that". I find comfort in a smaller home and a less open home. Christmas has become a buying frenzy and a decorating frenzy to the point that you can't even see the tree and every surface is covered. I'd much, much rather look at homes like yours. In fact, I've pretty much left any decor sites because it's unrealistic and just too much. I find there's more interest in looking on Redfin or Zillow at homes for sale that actually have walls left, cozy areas and realistic living arrangements. I'm so done with the huge one space over decorated homes. Yours is beautiful! Don't compare. There's no comparison to real vs fake.

  18. Dear Melanie ~ your home is comfy, cozy and lovely. You have a knack for decorating, creating your own style.

    I live in a small cottage built in 1951, 675 sq ft. We moved in here in 1973. It's home sweet home to me, a little haven from the crazy world we live in, especially during this time of covid. Have a wonderful Christmas celebrating love, life and all that is good in it. Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  19. It was great seeing the little Christmas touches you have around your home. Most important are the memories those small items bring to you and your husband. I can tell by your words that you enjoy your home and that is all that counts!
    It is a lovely, comfy home!

  20. Hi Melanie, I rarely even look at big, picture perfect blogs. Awhile back I was on IG looking at a blogger with a beautiful home, then she showed her laundry room basement. At first I thought she was couponer as there were about 50 laundry detergent jugs scattered around and the floor was mid-calf high in laundry. She explained the jugs were mostly empty and the laundry was clean but she was too busy to throw away the empty detergent jugs and to fold the clothes 😳
    So when I do see those perfect homes, I wonder what they have hidden and also what their debt might be.

    Anyway, I like your home so much, I think if we traded places, I would be as comfortable in your home as I am in mine.
    We need new countertops too but the choices have me so confused. What are you leaning toward?

  21. And P.S. I was never in a Marshall Fields, but that little crock is so nice. I see why you keep and display it. 1981 is our Bobby’s birth year .

  22. Your kitchen is lovely. I don't know why people rush every few years to change everything.

    The hardwood floors are fabulous too!

  23. Mel I saw your blog title and of course I had to click on. The thief of joy is absolutely those comparisons we make with others, I so agree. It's funny because I feel that way too. And even though I am someone who gets replenished from tapping into the creative process I still can have a reaction to seeing all that perfection everywhere. I think with age we learn the importance of slowing down and that means we won't be on anybody's Christmas blog tour because we're not going to rush and decorate so early in the month. I'm finally ready to post some photos and tomorrow is Christmas. I think that's funny. I guess I'm a tortoise in the race of life. hahaha


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