Photo Friday: A Quiet Hum

Something has been abuzz beneath my skin for the past few months. I’m not really sure where the feeling came from or when it started precisely, but it’s almost like an itch that can’t be scratched…an unsettling that won’t be stilled. It isn’t an altogether unpleasant sensation, but none the less I’ve begun to half-jokingly refer to it as my “early mid-life crisis.” Truth is, that would be writing it off too simply.

Over the years I’ve struggled from time to time with letting my inner voice speak loud enough to be heard. More recently I have found myself pushing it aside with late nights working…and just the other day, with the hasty decisions to cut off all my hair. But even with a constant stream of activity to distract; softly yet more persistently than I’d like, there remains a humming that won’t go away. Through past experiences, I know that this means that I’m at a crossroads of some sort, and I need to allow myself the time and space to sort things out.

So, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to listen. Today (and this weekend too) feels like the right moment to finally pay attention to whatever that little hum is trying to say to me. I know this all sounds incredibly serious, and I hope I’m not bumming you out on this lovely Friday…but really, I’m looking forward to what’s in store. There are so many possibilities! Once the noise has been made sense of, I know I will be feeling world’s better about the next steps I want to take on this little journey called life. I’m ready!

Does any of this sound familiar to any of you? I would love to hear what ways you have of making it through “crossroads” moments in life with clarity and without losing too much sleep (or sanity). I am sure you have wonderfully inspiring and insightful things to share. You always do! xox Ez

P.S. I recently came across this wonderful post on Verily titled Propelled by Discomfort & Fear. It’s a quick and easy read, and something that will be sticking with me for a long while. Highly recommended.

Photograph by me (Ez Pudewa)

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You

So it started like this:

Do you happen to remember the link I posted to this article by Jess Constable last Friday? Well Friday afternoon over on twitter, all it took was one tweet from Erin followed immediately by Nichole, before suddenly a flood of bloggers raised their virtual hands to say that “Yes, they too were concerned / frustrated / flummoxed about the vast cavern between true reality and the presentation of “reality” on blogs.” That twitter conversation quickly morphed into a challenge spurned on by another post of Jess’ where she shared “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You.” And so today, in lovely little spaces around the web, a handful of brave and authentic bloggers will be adding their voice to what I hope will become a beautiful chorus of honesty and transparency around blogland (yes, lovely readers…you are invited to be a part of this challenge too). I have shared links to their blogs here, and I hope that you will take the time to visit them today or in the coming weeks and encourage and support their openness. This type of authenticity is the sort of things that makes your knees wobble and your “publish post” finger shake. I know because if you read on, you’ll get to see a few of the things I’ve been “afraid” to tell you. And even though I’ve only just begun to put words to this page, my nerves are already setting in. I’m pretty sure that by that time I reach the end, I’ll be having some serious thoughts about deleting the whole thing.

Participating bloggers – Round 1:

Design for Mankind | Little Brown Pen | Beautiful Hello | Curating Style | Sweet Fine Day | The Jealous Curator | Happy Days | Sage & Berries | Really Handmade | Peck Life | Satsuma Press | Rena Tom | For the Easily Distracted | The Hemborg Wife | Vitamini Handmade | Courtney Khail Stationery and Design | Meg in Progress | Dando Photography Blog | Widdershins22 | Alison Citron | Pink Moon Daily | Just Pretty Things | From China Village | Tea with Me | The Darling Ewe | Not Your Average Ordinary | The Electric Typewriter | Elleby Design | Parsimonia {Secondhand With Style} | Life as an Artistpreneur | Hello Cupcake | Dellie | The A & B Stories | Pretty Little Things | Feistyelle | Nib & Zed | Well and Cheaply | I Ripple. I Dance. | Whitfield Awesome Blog | Foxtrot Press | Dry As Toast | The List of Now | Apple Blue | For the Love of | Four Flights of Fancy | Miss Modish | Snapshots & Secrets | Dirty Laundry | Bubby & Bean | Penelope’s Press | Little Nostalgia | Vale Design | Pikaland | Fleurishing | Print Pretty | Vespa Tales | Hazel & Agnes | Amanda’s Musings | Mo’ Funk Designs | Ordinary Mommy | Camp 1899 | In Honor of Design | Liberty’s Yarn | Love, Life & Pictures | Stacey Winters | Owl in the Rain | Living Life Creativel
y
 | Emma Elizabeth Clease | I Live in Vacouver Now | British Cream Tea | Maquette | Little Paper Trees | Change is Necessary for Growth | Practically Perfect | Lovely Indeed | Radiant Republic | Teacher Goes Back to School | Acute Designs | This Little Street | The Proper Pinwheel | Kellee Rich | Gluten Free Travelette | Benbrie House | Sierra BB | Lost in Cheeseland | Going Home to Roost | Creative Soul in Motion | Quietly Fabulous | L’elephant Rose | The Anna Delores Blog | Some the Wiser | JRebecca Style | I Saw You Dancing | Wolfie and the Sneak | Threadbare Supply Co. | Lemonwood and Honey | Lolalina | This Texan Wife | C’est ma Vie |

TIATTY – Round 2 (list found at Mimi + Meg):

Coco + Kelley / Court & Hudson / Sacramento Street / My Cup of Te / Crystal Gentilello / MIMI+MEG / The Decorista / Modern Eve / Apartment 34 / Design Blahg / Vmac & Cheese / Miles to Style / Life in a Venti Cup  / The Zhush / Radiant Republic / Savvy Home / The Doctor’s Closet / Design Manifest / Because It’s Awesome / {extra}ordinary wonders / Sparkling Footsteps / Hitha On The Go / Note To Self / So Much To Smile About / Blogstar / The Goods Design / Style & Pepper / Small Shop Studio  / Long Distance Loving / Maggie Rose Blog / The City Girl In Me / The Best Laid Plans / Concrete Jungle DC / Food Fashion Fitness / East Coast Chic

TIATTY – Round 3 (organized by Lights & Letters)

Jill at Terra Savvy | Erica at The Elbow | Jen at Taking Off the Mask | Kate at Modern Home Modern Baby | Laura at My So Called Sensory Life | Monique at Razing Mayhem | Caroline at Salsa Pie | Leslie at Life In Every Limb | Tammie at Tam.Me | Melanie at Inward Facing Girl | Amy at Old Sweet Song | Michelle at Early Mama | Jen at Jen Epting | Leslie at Lights and Letters  | Sarah at SAWK Photography

But for now, I am encouraged and honored to be a part of this beautiful community of bloggers who are willing to make themselves vulnerable in an effort to make the bigger blogging community a better place. Here goes…

Things I’m Afraid to Tell You:

I like to think of myself as being transparent and genuine on my blog, but regardless, over the years I’ve struggled with how much of the behind the scenes nitty-gritty side of life I should share. I have walked outside of my comfort zone a few time, but the majority of the time I have always erred on the side of posting beauty and inspiration, instead of delving into the struggles or challenges I’ve faced for fear that negativity could quickly consume this space (not from you guys…but from me). I do have a huge propensity to get sucked down into pits of depression and because of this have made a conscious choice to focus on light-hearted subjects and beauty as a daily reminder to myself to always seek that side of life.

However as time has gone on, and with the ever-expanding roster of blogs that are out there showcasing pretty thing after pretty thing, I’ve come to realize that all this beauty can actually have the opposite effect. The always-nice that we see on constant display everywhere we look (from blogs to magazines, etc) becomes frustrating because it doesn’t really look like how our life looks, right? Instead of visiting a blog and feeling inspired, we quite often leave feeling less than, and like our life can never really match up to what we see. As a long-time contributor to this trend of pretty-everything I should know better, but even I get sucked up in feeling like other bloggers are more successful, have better wardrobes, perfectly behaved children, gourmet meals pre-made weeks in advance…they host fabulous parties with every last detail glittered and festooned to perfection, take lavish vacations, sign book deals in their sleep and pose for photo shoots in their immaculately clean designer-decorated homes. Please can I at least get a raised hand if you’re feeling me on this.

The truth that we probably know deep down somewhere is that in nearly every instance we are only seeing a tiny groomed portrayal of life. I know this because that’s what I show you on my blog too (I’m calling myself out on that front). I haven’t tried to be deceptive (I doubt other bloggers have either), but I think it’s human nature to want to shine the best light upon ourselves, and I confess to being afraid of showing you the mundane and ordinary sides of life (I also question how interesting a conversation on unfolded laundry can really be). Ultimately I don’t think it’s inherently wrong or dishonest to show that side, but it is not the full story. And now sitting here and thinking that any of you may have visited this space at some point in time, seen a pretty post or feature and because of it felt anything less than lighthearted or inspired afterwards, makes my heart heavy.

The more and more conversations I have with other bloggers and readers of blogs, the more sure I become of the fact that we are all just a little bit sick of all this perfection. So today I want to begin to shine a light on the other 80% of life. The not so pretty parts, but oh so real parts because I too am a little bit exhausted from the cloud of expectation that I often feel like I’m living under (self-imposed no doubt—but there none the less).

Before I leap out into the abyss though, I want to tell you the reason why I’ve been holding back from sharing any of this. This challenge is called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” for a reason. This is nerve-wracking stuff! Other than worrying that I’ll type all this out only to realize that I’ve created a Wizard of Oz moment where suddenly everyone realizes with shock, that this oh-so-ordinary woman is the person behind the curtain blog, and perhaps not quite so glamorous or fabulous after all. But also because I never ever want to sound ungrateful for this space or the life that I have. I love being a blogger! It has it’s challenges like anything in life, but I know that I’m blessed to get to do something that I’m passionate about every day. Not for one second would I want it to seem that I don’t appreciate it beyond measure. Okay…now that we’ve covered that, we’re good to go! Oh and P.S. You may want to grab a cup of tea or coffee and cozy up…’cause things are about to get wordy.

So the real life truth that I’d like to share today is that while I am fortunate enough to have a blog that brings in an income (again, so, so grateful), I am in no way rolling in “it” (“it” being the proverbial pile of cash that legend might have us believing that bloggers have). The nitty-gritty is that some months have been so tight that I’ve worried about making my rent payment or even buying groceries…a handful of times it’s gotten scary enough that I’ve had panic attacks daily just trying to think of how I’ll make it through. Just admitting that out loud is rather humiliating. Things have gotten steadily more and more stable as time has gone on (thankfully), but I would not be sitting in the position that I am as a full-time blogger if my family hadn’t been willing or able to help me through some financial struggles over the years so that I could continue to work on making Creature Comforts everything that I want for it to be. They have believed in this blog as much as I have which means the world to me.

I also want to be open about the kind of lifestyle I live…to shatter any of the myths about design & style bloggers that are floating around out there (or at least any that might apply to me). Firstly, in order to pursue this blogging dream of mine I’ve had to choose to put aside things like regular shopping trips, I rarely get my hair colored (right now I have 3″ roots), and I never splurge on mani-pedis or other such things. When I do shop for myself a couple times a year, it’s for essentials—usually one or two nice-ish quality items that will last instead of 10 that will quickly fall apart, and it’s usually spurned on by necessity…like when a once-in-a-lifetime trip to NYC throws me into a panicked state realizing that my two pairs of jeans and stack of t-shirts won’t fit the bill. This in no way makes me a “special case” but you can see that it’s not really all that glamorous…and perhaps different than what you could easily imagine my life to be in light of the content that I share in this space. Sometimes I feel like I’ve painted myself into a corner because all the pretty posts don’t reveal any of the behind the scenes struggles. Yes, I blog about beautiful fashion and home goods all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I own them…it means that I love them or feel inspired in some way by them.

Another thing that I’ve just got to get out there while I’m at it, is that I really have no special home decorating skills to speak of…or the budget to decorate with even if I did. My house is small, in a safe neighborhood, and I have a few nice corners inside it that don’t hurt my eyes to look at them, but overall it’s pretty run of the mill. I’ve had to politely turn down home tour requests (so embarrassing) because there’s really not a whole lot to see. My one and only “big” home purchase I’ve made, ever, was last year for a couch from West Elm (It’s one of the only new pieces of furniture I’ve ever owned). A lot of this frugality stems from the fact that I don’t have a single credit card (just a debit card that is connected to my bank account). This means that anything that I want or need, I have to save up the money for. Even though this complicates life, I am so grateful because it also means that I don’t have a mountain of debt hanging over me. The flip side of this of course, is that unexpected expenses like a broken car or health problem can really be a major stress. Attending a conference like Alt Summit nearly knocks me off my feet (the first year I had to get help to make it happen), but I do it because I know it’s worth it. On top of that I feel like it’s doubly challenging because there is an assumption out there that money must be no object to me as a blogger. Maybe for some bloggers it isn’t…and whoever you are, I would love to know your secret, but my reality is that most months I am just grateful that I paid my bills and was able to provide a safe and relatively comfortable life for my daughter.

So yes, I have a simple life without many wordily fineries, but I think it’s a beautiful life. I only realized just recently though that blogging has begun to make me doubt what I have, and the way I live. I mean, shouldn’t I have a magazine-feature-worthy house that would make others envious, or walk around in only the latest and greatest fashion styles? I look at other blogs and think: yes…I have it all wrong, sign me up for a handful of credit cards and let’s start “living right,” but then I come to my senses and realize that what needs to change is this space…the only space online that is truly mine.

From here on out I want to work harder to reflect to you the person who I am beyond just the beautiful things that I love and am inspired by. I want to remember to be proud of where I am today, the way I am caring for my daughter, the hurdles I’ve overcome to get to where I am today, and how hard I work every day to achieve my dreams, etc.. It is so easy to forgot when you’re caught up inside a whirlwind of comparison and expectation. A big part of that change starts here today with me acknowledging these things out loud. Moving forward, I am planning on incorporate more of my ordinary everyday life here on Creature Comforts. I started yesterday by moving all the post from my personal blog over here into my regular content. I came to realize that I was hiding it away in it’s own space for the wrong reasons. I hope this will be a welcome change and that you will enjoy coming along on this journey with me. Of course there will still be plenty of moodboards and favorite finds, diy projects, etc…the things that inspire me will remain a big part of Creature Comforts. I will just be adding more of me into this space here along with it.

If you made it through all of that, wow! You are awesome. Thank you so much or being here today and showing your support. I appreciate it more than I can say! Please don’t forget to visit the other blogs (listed above) who so bravely agreed to take on this challenge today. I hope that you’ll go on an adventure around blogland today that leaves you feeling truly inspired. And finally I want to also encourage any of you who have maybe thought of writing your own “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” post, to just do it! You will feel loads lighter after doing so, and you never know the good that will come from being brave, until you do it! xo Ez

P.S. You are more than welcome to take the button that I created for this challenge (above), and use it on your own blog (no need to credit or ask).

In summary:

So…

 

Comparison is the Thief of Joy from thegreatdivorce, via twitter (via Sarah) | Be True to Who you Are by Kal Barteski (via Arianna)

Simple Berry Coulis

I love berry coulis…which is basically just a fancy-sounding word meaning mashed and strained berries (culinary wizards of the blog world please don’t slay me for my lazy definition). Anyhow, I’ve become rather addicted to the stuff and lately it’s been making my morning breakfast of vanilla yogurt all kinds of perky. The great thing about coulis is that it is very simple to make, you can whip up enough to store and keep on hand for whenever a craving strikes, and it tastes amazing on everything from crepes and yogurt to ice cream. Yum!

I don’t have an exact recipe, so you might want to google one up for reference…but here is my basic process in case you are interested:

  • Pour around 1-2 cups of frozen or fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc) into a sauce pan.
  • Add around 1/8 cup fresh water.
  • Squeeze about 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice into the pan.
  • Add granulated sugar to taste – I used around 4 Tablespoons (sometimes more).
  • Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until berries are soft and easy to mash with the back of a spoon.
  • Place a fine-meshed seived onto a heat-safe dish (such as a glass measuring cup) and carefully pour the hot berry liquid through the sieve in batches, mashing berries against the sieve with the back of a spoon to extract the juices. Discard berry pulp and seeds.
  • Repeat until all the berries have been strained.
  • Pour coulis into an air-tight container or lidded glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Serve chilled or warm. Enjoy!

Farewell to our Friend

Today we learned that my family’s dog Tasha, passed away. My daughter and I feel so fortunate that just yesterday evening we happened to travel out to see my folks, and were able to see her and tell her how much she was loved. Her health had been failing rapidly over the past few weeks and she was no longer able to stand, walk or eat. She was suffering, and I prayed the thing you never want to…that the end would come quickly so that her pain would finally cease. I held her head in my arms and told her that her job here was done…that we would be okay when she was ready to go. She gently wagged her tail and I knew she understood.

You could argue that all dogs are good dogs, but Tasha truly was the best dog anyone could ask for. She gave all of herself to our family and asked for nothing in return. She was the most loyal and cuddly of friends (with only a small penchant for killing chickens—she was a dog after all). We will miss her golden smile and her full-body wags. Our hearts are heavy with sadness today for the loss of our furry friend, but she has left a paw print on our hearts that will never fade. We are so grateful for this little beam of sunshine and the many years we had with her. We will miss you sweet Tasha! xo Ez + Miss K

Do You Know How Lovely You Are

{Image by Parker Fitzgerald – see his amazing Polaroid quote series here}

Hello lovely friends. Today I wanted to take a moment to let you all know how very much each and every one you means to me. When I shared my personal story on Wednesday I really had no idea what to expect. The post had been tumbling around inside my head for ages, and I’m sure I went through every possible outcome at least a 100 times (especially the potentially bad ones). But even with all that, I never realized just how freeing and amazing it would be to finally share my story with you.

I know that this has so much to do with the incredibly generous and supportive people that you are. Your stories, comments, even poetry and artwork sent in response has changed my life for ever. Thank you for reflecting back what I was so hoping to see. Thank you for allowing me to unburden myself, and no longer feel the shame that I had been mostly unconsciously carrying with me for so long. Today I feel lighter than I have in years and I want you to know that you are a huge reason for this. I am eternally thankful for you…yes, YOU!

Have a wonderful weekend filled with joy and laughter my friends! With endless gratitude and love, Ez