Summer reading

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I've got quite a few books lined up for my summer reading, and realize none of them really qualify as your typical light beach reads. I will need to fill in with a few of those, as some on my list look like they'll be heavy going.

No reviews here; I haven't read them yet. But as I always like to see what people are reading, I thought you might feel the same.

Our book club is currently reading A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. Because I won't be at the next meeting, I decided to take a pass and spend the time reading one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry. I love his books set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. One of my favorites is Hannah Coulter. But right now I'm reading a book of his agrarian essays entitled The Art of the Commonplace. In it, he laments the passing of the small family farm and shares a vision of what real community can look like. He offers an alternative to the mass consumption, stressed-out urban culture of today.

Here is a poem of his I've always liked.

The Peace of Wild Things 
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Isn't that beautiful? I don't have a similar place to go and lie down, but I can imagine . . .
In our book club, if a book you recommend gets enough votes, and we decide to read it, you are in charge of leading the discussion. Two other books I recommended will be coming up later this year, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. So I want to get started on those. 

The Silmarillion is the story of the events that occur in Middle Earth prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I've already read the chapter entitled Of Beren and Luthien because I read that those are the names engraved under Tolkien's and his wife's gravestone inscriptions. It's quite romantic, and a little unusual in Tolkien's writings as he doesn't have much romance in his books (although you could say his whole genre is certainly romantic in the broader sense of the term).

I chose The Idiot partly because I love Dostoevsky. One of my all-time favorite books is his The Brothers Karamovoz. But mostly I chose it because it contains the famous line "beauty will save the world." Can't wait to read that in context.

I would like to write another book, this one on the importance of beauty in our lives, entitled simply The Beautiful Matters, or Why the Beautiful Matters. I have a small stack of books to read on that subject. I've been perusing them, but I'm thinking perhaps I should just write without being influenced too much by what others have to say on the subject.

This lovely old card catalog is in the library at the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. I would love to have this in my home.
My mom read and then passed on to me the whole Jalna series by Mazo de la Roche. This is the multi-generational story of a family who settled on the early Canadian frontier. I've read three out of the ten books that she had (I think there's a couple more to the complete series), but I'm already a little tired of them. Kind of in the same way I got tired of Poldark and Downton Abbey (not the books, the TV series). Just ongoing soap operas.

When I feel worried or anxious or in need of comfort, I turn to my stack of Grace Livingston Hill for some light and soothing old-fashioned story telling. I've read through the sixty or so books I have of hers and just finished the fourth in my second go-round. Other comforting and well-loved books that I turn to include any by Elizabeth Goudge and, for lighter reading, Miss Read.

I have to keep up with the book club reading also. We move at a pretty fast clip; a new book every two weeks. I'm not a particularly fast reader; I tend to savor every word and stop and think about what I'm reading or look things up as I read. So I'm usually up late reading the night before book club, trying to get my "homework" done! 

What are you all reading this summer? Anything good?

Wait . . . forget everything I just said

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I try ladies, I really do.

But I love pretty things, girly things, pink things . . . and beautiful packaging.

In my last post I shared how I was decluttering my makeup routine. I was doing so well until I tuned into You-Tube. Those makeup tutorials!! And then went to Nordstrom with my daughter for something and passed the beauty counter.

Sigh.

I have reduced the amount of makeup I use. You'll notice most of the above are skin care products or cleansers. But I may as well face it. I'll never be a minimalist in this area.

*****

I give you the lazy woman's method for winding up a skein of yarn.


It works.


Progress on the sweater. It is just about doing me in. I don't think I'm cut out for these kinds of projects.


In happy news, look at what my son, who just moved to Des Moines, sent me for Mother's Day.


*****

More on my decluttered makeup routine

Monday, May 7, 2018

In my last post I talked about decluttering my makeup and beauty routine.

A recent visit to a tea room in Des Moines. I had the lavender sencha tea, in front. Honestly, with the lavender, it felt like I was drinking my bath water!
I tell you what, this new freedom has come in handy as we have recently made trips to visit each of our sons, one in North Carolina and the other in Iowa. Both live in apartments with one small bathroom. There are no mirrors in the bedroom.

Having a simple and quick routine made getting ready easy and fast. I didn't need to pack as much stuff, spend as much time in the bathroom, or try to set up a makeup mirror anywhere.

I was ready quickly and easily and wasn't holding anybody up.

Less is more is sounding more and more appealing. From 30 items to less than 10! (See previous post for my lists.) Only three or four makeup items, including foundation, blush, and lipstick. I'm still thinking about whether or not I can go without mascara. It feels so good to go without it. I can rub my eyes if I want to and I don't have all the trouble of getting it off every night.

The library at the capitol building in Des Moines. Notice the spiral staircase in the back. This place was gorgeous!
I did visit Sephora and the Nordstrom beauty counters a week or so ago with my daughter, and I can't deny I'm like a kid in a candy store at these places. So much fun. I love pretty things in pretty packaging.

But I'm going to focus on good skin care and a few well-chosen essentials. I think about my grandma who had beautiful skin all her life. I'm sure all she used was soap and water. When she was getting dressed up maybe a little lipstick, powder, and a spritz of cologne. That's it. 

One thing that surprises me is that I feel cleaner. Not so much goop on I guess just feels better.

Or perhaps it is the fresh air and sunshine that we're finally enjoying. That feels super-good, too.

Decluttering my beauty routine

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hey blog friends, I'm still here. (I think I said that in my last post.) This winter has not found me much in blogland, and I am woefully behind on visiting.

It's April 17 and snowing here. We keep a fire going every night. We're almost done with our eight cords of wood. I will be wearing my boots and mittens with my winter coat today. Sigh.

I've taken a little break from decluttering my house, but will start up again in a few days as my husband is ready to tackle the basement and garage, areas that I can't really do without his help.

In the meantime, I've been decluttering and simplifying my beauty routine.

The statistics vary, but on average, women use about 16 beauty products a day. (I discovered after counting that I use lots more than that.) The Environmental Working Group says women put over 168 different chemicals on our skin every day (see article here). We spend more than $8 a day on beauty and skin care products (see article here)!!

These are compelling reasons to cut down on what I use, but the main reason is that I was getting overwhelmed by all the stuff crowding my drawers and counters. The other reason is that I am basically lazy. Do I really want to be tied to such an intensive beauty routine? (And I actually thought mine was simple, especially after watching beauty You-Tubers sharing their routines.)

Here is a list of all the products I was using. And yes, most of them every day, even when just going to the grocery store.

Hair

1. Shampoo
2. Conditioner
3. Styling gel
4. Hairspray

Body

5. Body lotion
6. Heel cream
7. Perfume

Face

8. Cleanser
9. Toner
10. Moisturizer
11. Eye cream
12. Primer
13. Foundation (includes sunscreen)
14. Concealer
15. Blush
16. Eyebrow pencil
17. Eyeshadow
18. Eyeliner
19. Mascara
20. Lip balm
21. Lip liner
22. Lipstick
23. Lip gloss

Teeth and Nails

24. Toothpaste
25. Floss
26. Nail ridge filler
27. Nail base
28. Nail polish
29. Nail topcoat
30. Nail polish remover

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. (Eye makeup remover!) And of course, I don't have just one of each of these. Multiple bottles of nail polish and perfume, eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, and lipliners.

And then there's the tools and miscellaneous:

Hairdryer, round brush, comb, flat brush, curling iron, eyelash curler, toothbrush, tweezers, false eyelashes and glue, stick-on fingernails, nail files, etc.

You'll notice a few things missing on the list. I gave up deodorant a couple years ago. (I just don't smell, even after exercising. And yes, I've asked close family members to confirm that.) And razors and shaving cream. I never had much hair on my legs and after getting them waxed a few times, there's really nothing there. Every couple months I might notice a stray hair and I just pluck it out with tweezers. (Okay, that was probably more than you wanted to know.) I also don't use mouthwash. Never liked it, and I figure if I floss every day, I'm okay.

Now, I do like to look nice, and I do have fun with makeup and all the girly stuff. And just because I'm getting older doesn't mean I want to give up. But this is crazy, right?

I have a nice big dressing table area with nine drawers just packed with beauty care products, and more overflowing into my closet area. It was time to get serious and do a complete overhaul. I pulled everything out, and started weeding.

The first thing that I got rid of was old and expired items. A pretty eyeshadow palette I paid good money for? Sorry, that was several years ago. Out it goes. And anyway, do I really want to wear eyeshadow anymore? Remember that old video? "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

I started thinking about what was important to me, what wasn't, what was healthy. I realized a number of products can be multi-taskers, like a cream blush stick can be used as a lipstick too.

And okay, these were fun. But really? Fake, fake, fake. I'm done with that.


I returned these nails and several boxes of false eyelashes (unopened) without a receipt and got a $65 gift card back from CVS. Yay! Those false eyelashes were just too much work. I really don't have to compete with the lady news anchors.

I got ruthless. Do I really need hairpins, scrunchies, hair claws? It's unlikely my hair will ever be long again. Out they went. Do I need those hot rollers, flat iron, two sizes of curling irons? Heat can turn silver hair yellow. I don't want that! (I did keep one curling iron, just in case. The rest of the stuff got donated.)

How many bottles of lotions and creams do I need? One multi-purpose item is enough.

I kept going, turning to some articles online about more natural beauty to keep me motivated. And over the course of a few weeks, I've made some radical changes.

So what does my routine look like now?

Hair

1. Shampoo
2. Conditioner
3. Styling gel
4. Hairspray

Body

5. Body lotion
6. Heel cream
7. Perfume

Face

8. Cleanser
9. Toner
10. Moisturizer
11. Eye cream
12. Primer
13. Foundation (includes sunscreen)
14. Concealer
15. Blush
16. Eyebrow pencil
17. Eyeshadow
18. Eyeliner
19. Mascara
20. Lip balm
21. Lip liner
22. Lipstick
23. Lip gloss

Teeth and Nails

24. Toothpaste
25. Floss
26. Nail ridge filler
27. Nail base
28. Nail polish
29. Nail topcoat
30. Nail polish remover

Simple and lovely.

So, this is what's left:

1. Shampoo
2. Body lotion (fractionated coconut oil)
3. Heel cream
4. Face cleanser
5. Face oil
6. Foundation
7. Blush and lipstick combo
(8. Mascara)*
9. Toothpaste
10. Floss
(11. Nail ridge filler)*
(12. Polish remover)*

How did I go from 30 products to 12? (or 9, as I don't use the items with asterisks every day).

My hair is short and its natural silver color. I get it trimmed every four weeks. (My best beauty tip is get a good haircut that suits you and doesn't fight with your hair's natural tendency -- like fine, curly, etc., so you don't have to spend so much time or products fighting with it). I've always hated spraying hairspray. It sticks all over everything. Hair gel makes my hair feel dirty. And do I really need conditioner? On a day when I wasn't going anywhere, I just used shampoo and skipped the conditioner, hair gel, and hairspray. I just blew it dry using my round brush. And guess what? It looked virtually the same as when I use all the products.

Next, the perfume. I love perfume. I've always worn it every day. But I know more and more people are sensitive to it. Maybe I would be doing everybody a favor if I stopped using it. (I have to say, though, that I still have a couple bottles of my favorites, Angel and Coco by Chanel, for a special occasion.)

I think I'll do another post on my makeup routine, as that's a big one. But I am trying to focus on healthy skin, rather than covering everything up.

I would love to have beautiful bare nails, but I have such a problem with ridges and splitting. I have done gel nails, but . . . the money! The time! The UV lights! The ridge filler I have looks like a pretty coat of natural polish so I'll use that to keep my nails looking nice. If I keep them short that prevents the worst of the splitting and tearing.

I've discovered too that you can use the same product for many different things. I have a bottle of fractionated coconut oil (meaning that it stays a liquid) that I use when I get out of the shower. I use it all over, including on my face, as an all-purpose moisturizer. My cream blush stick can be used as lipstick. A little extra foundation can be used for concealer.

I have to say I still have one eyeshadow palette, one eyeliner, an eyebrow pencil, and some perfume and lipgloss. They're neatly stashed in a drawer in case I go into withdrawal!!! or want to do a little extra for a night out.

I've totally emptied out two drawers, and the remaining drawers are not even half full. Feels good.

What's weird, too, is that I feel cleaner. And a little more bien dans ma peau, as they say

Next post I'll describe how I cut down on my makeup routine.

What about you all? Are you a beauty product lover, or have you gone simple and natural? What is one thing you can't live without?


I'm still here, underneath my pile of stuff. What I've learned.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

It's been a month since I've blogged or visited any of my blog friends. I'm still here. Actually not underneath my pile of stuff anymore, but emerging from it. We've donated three huge loads of stuff, not including furniture, and thrown out even more.

We've been shredding papers like fiends, emptying out one whole file cabinet and a dozen or so boxes of papers that were stored in the basement. Old cross country skis, sports equipment, lamps, china and linens, 80s decor, clocks, baskets, clothes, framed art, you name it . . . they've also been given the boot. If it doesn't spark joy or serve a useful purpose, out it goes. I've had to grit my teeth and override my all-too-present feelings of guilt over and over again. 

But the more I let go, the easier it becomes, and the better I feel. There's a lot more to do, but I'm burned out at this point. I'll come back at it again in a couple weeks with a fresher perspective. 

In the meantime, I present to you some of the things I've been learning during this process.

1. I am not responsible for everyone's stuff.

How did I get to be the caretaker of all this stuff? Loved ones have passed on or moved, and I somehow got all the stuff nobody wanted to deal with. Why? And how did I manage to save every. single. paper. my children ever scribbled/wrote/drew on?

I either agreed to take these things on because I felt that it was my "duty" or because I genuinely wanted to keep them.

But there comes a point when all this becomes a burden and I start to feel resentment at the weight of responsibility. How can I make the decision to save or throw out photos of people I'm not even related to? How do I know if someone else might want this handmade item? Do I have the right to just make the call, and throw it out? Do I need to check with others first, even if they've shown no interest in all this stuff?

I have come to the conclusion gradually that I do not have to sort through every thing myself. Other people can take the responsibility. I can ask them if they want to sort through the stuff, or if not, tell them I'm getting rid of it. 

In the case of my children, I can box up all their stuff and allow them to decide. I don't know what they want to keep or not. I've been afraid they'll just end up throwing it all out, but it's really up to them.

2. Things are not the same as people.

I've held onto so much stuff because it's felt disloyal to give it away. Gifts, handmade items, items handed down. Like if I get rid of them, I'm throwing the person out, or disrespecting them. No. It's just stuff. It is not them. Now, of course, we do want to save some things that remind us of people we love, but we don't need to save everything; how much we save depends on us. But letting go of something doesn't mean letting go of our memories.

This was a gift from a neighbor after the birth of our second child.  I've held onto it all these years because I associated it with my son sleeping as a baby. I realized that letting go of it doesn't mean I'm letting go of those memories. And, to be honest, I never was too fond of Precious Moments stuff anyway.
3. I can make new choices and do things differently.

I have a rare opportunity to start over in terms of decor as we have been redecorating our living room, dining room, and foyer.

I am no longer tied to a certain color/style/decor. I had a very large mural painted on the foyer wall. It was here when we moved in, and has stayed for the almost 20 years that we've been here. The colors and style of it dictated the entire downstairs decor.

Some time ago I asked you all to vote for whether I should paint over this or not. Most of you thought I should keep it, my husband included. But I have to say, I've been very happy to say goodbye.
 All of a sudden, with this gone, all kinds of possibilities have opened up. Instead of being tied to blue and sage and burgundy and yellow, I can do fuchsia and turquoise if I want! 

I also realized I didn't have to keep the art on my walls. Why did I feel guilty about donating it? I've looked at some of it for over 30 years. It wasn't expensive. It's okay to let it go and do something different, even if it takes a while to figure that out. 

So now what? Modern abstract art? Am I a modern abstract art person? I never thought so, but I could be if I wanted.

With some of the older furniture gone, I can do something different as far as style, not just color. I could do farmhouse, French country, mid-century modern, anything. I could do glam, with gold and mirrors and animal print. 

I didn't choose many of the things in my house. They were hand-me-downs, appreciated and loved, but like the mural, I didn't pick them out. Now I have a chance to think about what I like.

It's actually been a good time for thinking outside of the box about a lot of things, letting go of not only things, but of guilt and unrealistic expectations, and old, unhealthy ways of thinking.

*****

I hope to be around to visit my blog friends soon. Thanks for stopping by! xo

More decluttering

Monday, February 12, 2018

The donation truck is coming again today, and we already have another pile in the basement waiting for the next pickup. The more we declutter, the more we find. It really is overwhelming. 


We started tackling the basement yesterday, and it is looking even worse than when we started.

Warning: embarrassing photos.


Please tell me somebody else's basement looks like this!

Many of you suggested that it would be easier to part with things if I took pictures of them. This is especially true of some of my children's things.

A sweatshirt I made my daughter, a crib bumper pad, a sweet First Christmas onesie, and a soft little blanket. You mothers understand.



After I took the pictures, I hardened my heart, and out they all went.

I have a whole cupboard filled with stuffed animals. Then I found these. I kissed three of these dollies goodbye (literally), and shoved the rest in the cupboard with the others. I'll have to sort through these again, but really, I do have to save something for the future grandchildren, right? Or will I want to buy them new stuff? (Probably.)


I'm having book club tonight. We will have to navigate the pile from the laundry room clean out/painting.


Amidst all the mess, there is this one lovely spot . . . 


I'm so happy to have a new table and chairs, and I am super in love with this new chandelier. It was so heavy and awkward it took three of us to get it hung and leveled. Isn't it lovely?

I'm going to put some black and white framed photos on the wall and hang some curtains in here. I have removed all the little picture frames scattered about the house and on the walls, including the collage I made years ago of about 15 photos above the piano. There will be six 8 x 10 black and white photos here (in 20 x 20 frames), and about six in the upstairs hallway. That's it. After donating a whole box of picture frames, I still have about a dozen left. They will probably go in the next round of decluttering.

 I'm still deciding on centerpieces for this dining table. I'm thinking fuchsia peonies in two mercury glass bowls, candles, maybe a long tray. What do you think?

Whatever I do, I'm going to be super careful about what I bring back into the house.

Someone said we spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff, and the second half getting rid of it. It seems so wasteful. And yet, there was a time when we did use the camping gear and hockey gear and cross country skis and bowling balls and Legos and all. And all those old suitcases and Christmas lights. Life just keeps moving on, and our needs change.

We do have room for all this stuff, but why? I see people moving and downsizing and they are totally overwhelmed. We won't be moving for some time yet, but I am thinking and working as if we were putting the house up for sale this year. That way, it will be much easier when we do finally downsize. In the meantime, someone else can enjoy the stuff and we'll be able to enjoy living lighter.

{I just ran across a huge tub filled with letters from my childhood. Remember when everyone wrote letters? Going through those will take some time, for sure.} 

Letting go of possessions and guilt

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Like many of you, I find the beginning of the new year to be a good time for taking stock. And as it has been cold and dark and perfect for nesting, for sitting in front of the fire with a good book or a knitting project, that "taking stock" has included looking around my nest and seeing if it's as cozy and welcoming as it could be.

While I wish I had full-time staff to clean my house (hey, we can dream, right?), I've always loved organizing and decluttering. Lately, I've been taking it to a whole new level.

Finally, after years of needing to spend money on a new furnace, a new roof, a new driveway, etc., I'm going to get my wish of replacing some furniture. You know, the fun stuff.

Now, please believe me, I'm not complaining. I feel very grateful for what I have. But, except for two couches and two chairs, our bedroom set and the mattresses, everything in our house is garage sale or heirlooms (read hand-me-downs). And the furniture we did buy new is at least 25 to 35 years old.

The garage sale/"heirloom" furniture has been re-glued and mended and painted several times over, and I am so ready to say goodbye to it. Suddenly, antique and vintage have become synonymous with wobbly, falling apart, and just plain old.

This rocking chair never did get repaired or painted. It's been sitting in the basement, the object of 20 years' worth of good intentions. Time to let somebody else take care of it.

As much as I'd like to think I could repair this desk and refinish it, this, too, has been sitting, unused, for more than 10 years. Bite the bullet, and pass it on. My parents spent $10 for it almost 60 years ago.

So far I've said goodbye to:

a couch
a dining room table and 6 chairs
a gateleg table and four chairs
2 rocking chairs
3 miscellaneous chairs
a coffee table
2 lamps
a desk
a filing cabinet
a side table

These all found good homes. The couch, which is still in good condition, looks better in a friend's home than it ever did in mine.

In addition, I've let go of:

a filing cabinet worth of paper
2 more boxes of old papers
3 old clocks
3 large garbage bags full of clothing
a box of picture frames
miscellaneous seasonal and other decor

I still have about 12 boxes of old homeschooling papers and old family photos I'm determined to get through. And a basement full of gear we probably won't ever use again -- cross country skis, bowling balls, camping gear, hockey equipment, etc., etc. Also, three huge piles of stuff, one for each kid who doesn't have room in their apartments for all of it. Hey, wait, one of my children has a house. I need to talk to her!

I've also been decluttering my email inbox. I've reduced it from 584 emails to 0! Okay, the zero only lasted a few minutes, but I've been zealously keeping my email inbox down to 5 or less, which is unheard of in all the years I've been on a computer. It's usually always hovering above the 300 mark, even with daily deleting.

I unsubscribe from everything I can, and mark lots as spam, but I still get some ads. Those are easy to delete. I put all my receipts in a separate folder (and just deleted anything older than a year). The majority of the emails sitting in my inbox are from blog friends, and they're so sweet I hate to delete them.

But the ones that come in as blog comments are stored on my blog. Any special correspondence I put in a correspondence folder. I'm going to try and respond to people ASAP, and then delete. It takes a little hardening of the heart.

This is the hardest part of decluttering, and what I've been dealing with, with all the vintage furniture and the photographs and 1st grade spelling lists and friendly emails.

The guilt of letting go of sentimental items.

But I've found that it's the decision to do it that's the hardest. Just like deciding to get on the treadmill. Once I decide, it's relatively easy. Once I decide it's okay to let go of a handmade or sentimental item it really is a breath of relief. It really is amazing how things can get to be like albatrosses around your neck without even realizing it.

I have pictures and I have memories. I don't need to keep every. single. item. anyone has made/given/handed down to me. Yes, of course, there are many things I will keep, but I don't need to keep everything. What a weight off my shoulders to see things going out the door!

And every time I go through this process I think, I'm never buying anything again. Or bringing home another sheet of paper. For example, I've stopped bringing home the little memorial pamphlet things from funerals. What do you do with them? They sit there, and then you feel guilty for throwing them away. Those pamphlets don't really add to the memories you have of a person. So I've stopped bringing them home. I stand at the recycling bin and sort my mail before I even bring it in the door.

But still, the papers pile up.

And cards and thank you notes. Those are so hard for me to throw out. Some I keep, some I throw out, no real method to that, but I can't keep everything. Again, it's hard to throw out a sweet note from a friend. What do you all do??

Right now we are painting. Tomorrow some of the furniture arrives. I am trying to replace with less. For example, I've gotten rid of 15 chairs total, and only getting 8 new ones. It will be so nice to sit on chairs that aren't wobbly or in danger of collapsing under the weight of an unsuspecting guest.

I'm going for what I call rustic glam. Unfinished looking wood and wrought iron combined with faux fur and some bling. Taupes, grays, cream with touches of blush. Lots of candles and pillows. Soft, comfortable, relaxed with a little glamour.

Here's a peek at the new chandelier that will be going over the new dining table. 

from Pottery Barn

It will be a whole new look. It's really been a little emotional, letting go of the old, ushering in some new, thinking about who I've been and who I am now. I'll keep you posted on the process.

And really, if you have any ideas for the sentimental papers, notes, and cards, I'd love to hear. xo

Slow start to 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

Everyone is in organizing/diet/exercise mode. I'm slowly, but not enthusiastically, getting on the bandwagon. I truly took advantage of the twelve days of Christmas, and knit and read and ate leftover Christmas treats in front of the fire well beyond Epiphany.

Well, after all, I was recovering from bronchitis.

But we did finally get all the Christmas decor taken down, and a good cleaning done. I have been organizing and decluttering this week and thinking about new paint colors and furniture for our living room. I am happily pinning ideas.

My vision includes key words like comfort, romantic, glam, and cozy. Taupes, creams, blush. Lots of candles, pillows, throws. And always books. It's been so cold out that, in between the necessary chores and errands, I just feel like hibernating. The room I am envisioning would be perfect for that.

It's snowing again, and as I have nowhere to go today, I will be building a fire early. I have a large knitting project (a cardigan, my first attempt at a sweater) and a book for book club to read, so after my short to-do list is done, I will be sitting cozy.

We have a huge, beautiful yarn store nearby, with a wonderful owner who is helping me with my sweater.


This gal, camouflaged very nicely in my faux fur throw (can you find her little face?) has not been very helpful. She loves to be in the thick of things.


Progress so far . . . 



Winter is really so much nicer when you don't have to go out in it. However, once in a while, there's something worth braving the cold for.

Like this wonderful coffee house, filled with books and antiques and comfortable couches and chairs. We spent a cozy couple of hours here enjoying tea and sweet treats with friends.

Mr. Beautiful, chatting with a friend, in the lower RH corner.
We had just been to the art institute to see a Monet/Church exhibit.


This pic does not do the painting justice. It's Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives by Frederic Edwin Church (1870).


Hope you're staying warm and cozy. I'm thinking hot chocolate here.
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