Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cold Comfort Charms

She made a promise to herself to keep her own well-being sacred.

A friend passed along that quote to me recently and I've been keeping it under my pillow ever since.  It really says so much about how we must protect our fragile souls from the things that want to steal our peace of mind these days.

So many times this month I wanted to write about my new autumn tablecloth, or tell you about a new fragrance I discovered or a place I visited.  But I held back because of the events that occurred recently, including last week's terror attack, which made me feel that writing about perfume or small domestic details seemed frivolous and silly.  The stuff of ordinary life pales in comparison to the innocent lives lost in horrendous hideous ways for no good reason at all.  And yet, I found the world only paused for a moment...and then marched on.  I even heard a newscaster sum up the week with "It was a good week", after having reported on the NYC attack in detail for two days straight.  "Breaking News" becomes "Old News" as quickly as a coin toss.  I don't get it.

Maybe we are numbed by it to a degree - so many random attacks and yet we are still required to go to work and the Christmas ads still have to roll out on television.  I worry about my upcoming visit to NYC to see the Downton Abbey exhibit but if I don't go then I hear that oft-said refrain over and over, "Then they win".  But carrying on is difficult and I'm more worried than ever about my nephew who lives in Brooklyn and I want to know where everybody is at every single moment.  So I decided that instead of writing about my lovely linen tablecloth, I would write about the things I do that soothe me and take the edge off when I feel unnerved.  But naturally, most of my cold comfort charms do include domesticity, beauty...and of course, perfume.

On the Homefront (it is a war out there)

Keeping my house warm at night is always a comfort.  Boosting the thermostat slightly above where I have it typically set, helps me feel safe by reminding me that I am warm inside despite the cold world we live in.  I will pay the extra's worth it.

Lighting - being a single mom all my adult life, I learned to be electrically frugal due to necessity.  But having my lights on, not just in the corner where I am perched, gives me a feeling of comfort.  It may be dark outside, but inside it is bright and warm.  I can look down the hall from my bedroom and see the small bathroom light glowing and another one in the hall too.  Ditto, the expense.


I have always enjoyed background music while I am home but now I eschew anything that isn't lilting and soothing.  This often means more Mozart, Vivaldi, and Chopin.  I don't want pounding noise reaching out to grab me or bizarre and strange lyrics calling out my name.  Give me the strains of classical sounds or orchestral pieces by Montovani and Norman Luboff.  Call me a square...don't care.

My Bed

Having a beautiful supportive bed with lovely cozy blankets and pillows can never ever be underestimated.  Falling into your bed's arms every night will help you rest from any worry-overload or sadness that seizes you.  And it shouldn't cost a lot to outfit your bed with fluffy pillows and warm covers.  Home Goods, TJ Maxx, and their ilk offer affordable bed linens with an ever-changing stock.  Keep looking for the right stuff.

Beauty Routines

I step up my beauty action when I am stressed.  It reminds me that no matter what the world is dishing out, I can still take care of me.  This is not the time to stop using that foot smoother in the tub or to skip flossing.  Au is actually the perfect time to escalate your routine.  Pick up a few envelopes of mask when you pick up your toothpaste.  Keep your nails polished and pretty with a new upbeat color.  Use your moisturizers and take care of your skin even if you don't feel like it.  Looking after ourselves with exquisite attention is one thing we can control in an upside-down world.


Nothing helps with anxiety like escaping into a good book.  I just re-read Jane of Lantern Hill, an old childhood favorite by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  The story is full of marvelous advice that has stood the test of time and by allowing myself to surrender to the story, my fears and concerns were eased. Libraries are filled with shelves of fiction that nobody reads anymore.  Some of my library's stacks contain real gems and it is where I first became acquainted with Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Gaskell.  Some terrific innocent fiction was written by now-forgotten authors in the 40's and 50's.  Find a novel you can drown in.  At least for a few hours.


Good smells are mood changers.  Favorite perfumes are comforting, especially if they remind you of someone beloved.  Make sure that your home has a scent imprint.  I like lavender in my upstairs rooms and lemon or oranges in the kitchen.  Bake brownies or make stew.  Fill your house with happy scents.  We need it more than ever.

And new tablecloth.  Always looking for the Holy Grail, I happened upon a linen embossed cloth for a round table.  Round cloths are very hard to find and to stumble upon such a fine one in a beautiful fall-like color had me handing over my credit card -  I knew I couldn't walk away from it.  Now on  my table, with autumnal candles and a bowl of fruit, the vignette I created has become the sentinel of my fall.  I didn't want to spend the money but it was money well-spent - it is an heirloom.  But more importantly, it is one of those small things that remind me that despite all the vagaries of our world, we just have to continue making our little corners worth coming home to.  We can make ourselves worth coming home to as well.  And in the process, we keep our well-being sacred, despite what's going on out there.

What are your Cold Comfort Charms?

Note:  My tablecloth above (but round).


  1. What a lovely and much-needed post, Donna. Here in snow country (we already have 10 inches!) I keep candles in the windows, a stack of fiction and nonfiction and seasonal scents in my home and perfume (currently wearing Serge Leutens Un Bois Vanille).

    I'm intrigued by the idea of having lavender scents upstairs - I'd love to do that. Do you have a candle you particularly recommend?

    My default sound is *silence* - after so many years of living in a city with jarring sirens and chaos having the house quiet enough to hear the birds and rain is a luxury to me - along with our ticking grandfather clock. I want to experiment with classical music, however.

    These days I have no taste for any sort of crime or suspense novels and am currently reading the new Leonardo da Vinci biography by Walter Isaacson.

  2. I'm with you Donna! I think anything that we can do to create Havens of peace and harmony in our homes is a good thing! One of the smartest things I ever invested in was a little electric fireplace that is in my bedroom. I have one in my living room too. And when I get home to fight off the encroaching gloom and darkness of winter I turn them on and they send a cheery glow all around. Something about that flickering fire reminds me that there is hope and light in the world, and reminds me that everything is not dark! Thank you for these wise and wonderful suggestions, I love them! Karen

    1. Karen! You have a new blog! This is thrilling news indeed!

  3. Great advice...brighten the corner where you are! A fire, some tea in a favorite mug, a cozy throw, music (piano and classical), and a good book. Another shooting today...where will it end and when will we learn? Can't control the world, but for bit, we can make our homes our heaven.

  4. This is such a comforting post. There may be horrible and unspeakable events occurring everywhere in the world but we can control what happens in our own homes. I plan on implementing your ideas.

  5. home as haven :: now more than ever is its importance. ♥

  6. I love Elizabeth Gaskell, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Emilie Loring... going to look for Barbara Pym now. Thanks.

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  8. Hello Donna - This is my first visit to your blog and I want to tell you that I enjoyed this post very much. I can relate to everything you wrote - except perhaps the perfume, as I am allergic! But I too find warmth and light very comforting in the winter months, and I share your belief that they are worth the expense. Conversely, I find that when I feel cold and shivery (which is often in our drafty old farmhouse) my anxiety increases dramatically.

    I love reading old books as well. One which helped me to feel warm last winter was "The Country of the Pointed Firs." This book celebrates friendship between women and it was delightful to me.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  9. Very solid comforts all, and especially suited to a cold climate. A big comfort of mine is settling in with my handful of favorite blogs, all of which I've followed for years and feel such interest in! Thank you Donna for all of the lovely posts; I'm always delighted and anticipatory when I see a new one. I hope you never let the world's events stop you from sharing your feminine pleasures, and your memories. We need beauty and escape! Your tablecloth is simply elegant.

    I so enjoyed L.M. Montgomery's Emily Starr trilogy. Another cozy read is Harriet Beecher Stowe's The Pearl of Orr's Island. I second Laura Jeanne's suggestion of The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett. My Kindle is filled with free novels for young women from the 19th and early 20th century. There are so many happy books available filled with uplifting messages; it's a treasure trove of optimism and a reminder of higher things.

  10. Oh, I "plumb forgot" ;-D

    Warmest congratulations on your upcoming role as a Grandmother!! You will be a most wonderful one.

  11. an enjoyable post, which gave me food for thought: did I in fact have any wee things that I do when stress sets in? Not really. You have inspired me to look at my life to have some anti-stress rituals. I am from New Zealand. It is horrifying to see what is happening in parts of the world.