Thursday, December 22, 2016

welcome to my little Christmas tour...

Hello friends,
I want to take a moment to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your gracious visits to this little blog of mine. Lately I've been so affected by the beautiful comments left on my recent posts. It's hard to express how much it means to write a post like my last one and then to read such soulful responses afterwards.
I feel like we really have a special community of women who stop by and share their wisdom here, and I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have you in my world. I do know how busy your life is and I truly appreciate the time it takes for you to read my posts. And then--to take time to share your own views and personal experiences. Well, it's something I never take for granted. 

So today I thought I'd post a few Christmas pictures of my house and we can pretend that you're here sipping a glass of wine and walking around with me. 

It's been quite awhile since I've done any kind of tour, especially in this house. 

So here it is, nothing fancy. 
Just an update on some of our progress. 

If you're new here,
you might not know we bought this 1960s house as a fixer upper, in a cute neighborhood that's walking distance to the beach. 

And we've been slowly transforming this 2365 square foot house into a home that feels like us. 

 One of the first projects we completed--it took over a year--was this fireplace wall with the rustic wood shelves.

This is our living room.
We were watching Bing Crosby in White Christmas-- when I snapped this picture with my phone.  I literally watch this movie a few times each year because I love that 'sisters' scene with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. 
Do you know which one I'm talking about?

My dad made those miniature barn doors that cover the TV and a year later he helped me transform an old wood remnant I'd had for years into a mantel. 

Then after he headed back to Sacramento, I added all the molding to the fireplace using my new miter saw. 

One thing I haven't told you--because I hate to toot my own horn--but I've posted a few of my DIY projects on HomeTalk and you'll never believe this--I still privately question it--but I've gotten over 42 thousand views on this fireplace makeover--and 473 thousand views on my Cottage bedroom makeover. 

Which makes me love the DIY community even more, because we're all a bunch of creative nerds in search of inspiration ya know?

On my spare time I've been adding planks to the walls in the house. 

I'm so grateful to have a mantel for our stocking now...

And on the opposite side of the fireplace wall my Dad added bookshelves around the entry which has been a great use of space. 
I don't usually show this side of the room because we still haven't re-done our staircase
 (which is actually not even code because of its wide iron posts)

When you head down the hallway you walk right into 
our kitchen.
It's the one room that we will be totally re-doing someday so I've only done some cosmetic things to it.

The one bathroom that's downstairs...
 in gray with lots of white subway tiles and dark grout in the shower. 
Love it.

This is actually a second "master bedroom" next to this bathroom.

Here's a peek at it now: our recently transformed 
The room that I painstakingly covered in vertical planks. Individually. 
Yes, that means one at a time.
Is there medication for this type of DIY behavior?
I'll show this entire room when our furniture gets here.

But I am pretty proud of these matching bookcases that I made in here.
 They came out pretty good for a novice like me.

Now, moving upstairs:
Our master bedroom...
I kept the Christmas touches subtle in here. I love this Pottery Barn pillow in reindeer toile.

When in doubt tuck in some green berries with your flowers.

BTW--this is the DIY monogramed headboard I made, another surprisingly popular HomeTalk project. 
I still love it because it's so comfortable to read in bed now.

Our guest bedroom has deliciously dark walls.

At Christmas my vintage Charles Dickens books are proudly displayed...
and oh, and my biggest, most exciting discovery this year...

I finally found it!!!
 After walking into every used bookstore and quietly checking the aisles 

(think John Cusack in the movie Serendipity)

I found a vintage copy of the first Nancy Drew book I ever read..ah, so many tender memories of my girlhood.

(so now you know what a nerd like me gets excited about)

I'm a big believer in surrounding ourselves with objects that tell a story about us. You agree?

Sorry to bombard you with all these pictures, I do hope you can upload this post--I'm never sure how that works. 
But I certainly thank you for stopping by.
And now, I'm off to gallantly Christmas shop 
on December 22!

I'll be signing off for a time.
wishing you a peaceful Christmas filled with love,

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

important Christmas thoughts at six in the morning

It's still dark outside as I write these words.

It seems that I woke up this morning thinking about the young woman I talked to last night after yoga class.

And all of a sudden it seems important to write this post.

It happened as the class was emptying, I had asked her a quick question about her tattoo and before I knew it we were talking about loss and sadness and Facebook feelings.
Before this I only knew her from a distance, as a smiling, cheerful ball of energy waving at her friends when she entered the studio.
I'd never been part of her universe before this moment.
But here in the dimly lit silence of the empty studio it was just her and I and the yoga teacher.
When suddenly her effervescent mood softened into something serious.

"I get depressed during Christmas," she shared.

Of course she said a lot more before this but it was these powerful words that drew me to her. Once upon a time I used to be around a lot of sad, vulnerable people and the holidays were hard on them; but that's another story.

So I ask her, "Have you experienced a loss during the holidays?'

"No" she answers sweetly. "But I don't have any kids, and it's really hard for me during the holidays."

"Oh. Well...that's a loss.." I say gently.

And she instantly looks back at me.
"Yes, you're right. That is a loss."

And truthfully, she looks relieved.
She tells me that Facebook is especially painful for her to look at right now.

And we continue to talk about other things that are hard for us to see. Anything about Alleppo and dying children. Anything about neglected animals. And especially for her right now, we come back to those happy, gushing Facebook pictures.

I want to tell her that being one of those sensitive souls is a wonderful quality but it requires that we know ourselves really well. That we recognize those certain 'triggers' that can affect us--especially when we're feeling vulnerable.

Because the worst thing that can happen when you're struggling with loss and sadness during the holidays is feeling bad about feeling bad!

My god. If this is you, please find someone you can really talk to, some like-minded person who accepts you, exactly where you are. Because when you're sad the last thing you need is someone telling you that "you're just being too sensitive."
Or, even worse, are things like "what's wrong with you?"
As if having raw, tender feelings is a bad thing.

I feel a special kinship for people who walk around with a heavy heart, and a nagging feeling that something is wrong with them because they're not being 'happy.'

If you can relate, please know you're not alone.
All your feelings matter. And when you give yourself permission to know them all, they will  begin to make sense.
I learned this inside the session room. Where I-- thank god--spent time on both sides, as the helpee and the helper.
And believe me, your painful feelings will transform into something that feels easier to bear... if you're curious about them.

I wish I could tell my new friend all this. 

That no matter what you see on someone's outside, on the inside we all look the same.
And--- there's no one living some perfect life out there, no matter what you're seeing on FB or social media. Although it's easy to question this when you're going through your own tough time.

Which is why I suggest  to her that it might be a good time to lay off Facebook right now. Especially when you're seeing all these perfect looking Christmas images--and photos of big, happy families. It's too easy to compare your own life with these images and feel worse. Not only can it distort your perspective, FB has even been linked to depression.

I think I mentioned this as we head to the door, because when I'm leaving she says,

"I am so glad I talked to you tonight."

And when she smiles I know what she means. Our short conversation felt like a little gift, one of those impromptu moments of realness at the end of a busy day.
And more than anything it humbled me.
Because I thought I "knew" this person. And honestly, I'd even felt vaguely ignored by her in the past, which had led me to unconsciously judge her.
Only I had no clue who she really was.  
Isn't it interesting how we do this in life? Go around making assumptions about other people?
The truth is, I knew nothing about her heart or about her struggles or her private pain. And these are ... the real ways we come to know the deeper person.

So I'm thinking about all this over my morning coffee.

And this conversation reminded me of all the people right now that are quietly dealing with some kind of struggle, maybe they're physically sick or maybe... just sad. 

I'm thinking about other people who--like my yoga friend-are dealing with loss--and that no matter how current or distant that loss may be--Christmas time can trigger old tender feelings.

So today let's be aware of this while we're talking with others.
Shall we?
Especially when we're in our own happy bubbles, let's keep our sensitivity close by...just in case.

For me personally, I'll be walking around with this beautiful Christmas message in my head:

love and peace to all my dear readers,

P.S Can you relate to this post?

I'm sharing this post with a few friends:

Inspire Me Tuesday
The Scoop #254

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I spy christmas details: easy little DIY projects ...

I spy Santa boots.

Well actually you might remember the thrift store boots I sprayed gold for my Fall door display?

I ask you. Why buy a pair of new, shiny red boots when you already have an old pair just waiting to be re-sprayed? This time in a bold happy red.

Then I used these four items:

1. thrift store boots sprayed red
2. fresh and fake greens
3. strip of fur I bought at Joann's fabric store
4. set of battery operated LED lights (I bought mine at TJMaxx for $6.99-it's 10 feet long too)

And now....transformation time!

1. Obviously you'll need to spray your thrift store boots bright red
2. I filled up the bottom of the boots with some brown Kraft paper I already had-- but you can use whatever you happen to have to stuff them.
3. Then I used fake and a few real branches--just stuck them inside with the battery operated lights

4.  I cut the strips of fur and wrapped each boot, tucking the tops of fur inside and using white masking tape to hold the ends together.

And ta daaaaaa......

This is such a cute little project and I think every house with kids needs to have a pair of Santa boots around, so I hope you let me know if you make your own!

My next easy project happened by chance. My boxwood bushes needed a haircut and I had all these fresh clippings leftover so....

I removed all the fake boxwood off these little wreaths I already owned. I was actually ready to throw them out (the greens looked too plastic) and basically I just started cutting and sticking the pieces of real boxwood into the cracks. When they didn't fit easily I used wire.

At the end I started using fishing wire to catch the pieces hanging out.

In case you're curious the wreaths are about 6 inches in diameter...

and when I was finished I put them on my front windows to add a little color.

I've been having fun decking the halls around here...

How's your December going?

I'm off to take care of a few errands myself
but I hope you found a little inspiration here today.

As always, I'm so grateful for your visits.

peace and love,


I'm sharing this post with friends:

home for Christmas blog party

Friday, December 9, 2016

on the topic of gratefulness (and changing your life)

Hello dear friends ...has it really been weeks since I've been here?

Sigh, I haven't been a very good blogger lately and I've missed sharing with all of you.

And frankly, it's hard to know where to begin after all this time--I wish we could share a pot of coffee and catch up the proper way, but I'll start by plopping you into the middle of my personal December challenge.

And I hope there's something here that you can use in your own life.

I've always found December to be such a special month and yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in a constant sense of busyness where I find myself looking at the calendar, and wondering where the days flew by.

Does this happen to you too? Well, I don’t like that feeling of not fully remembering these precious hours or days of my life.  So I've been consciously doing a few things differently this season.

One of the changes I'm making this month has to do with my focus on being grateful.

My inspiration for my "gratefulness challenge" came to me after I listened to Brother David Steindl-Rast interviewed by Krista Tippett in her On Being podcast series. 

I was so intrigued-- not just by this man's incredible life—but by his suggestions on how to practice gratefulness in our daily lives. Yes, that's what I like. Easy to use ideas that I can incorporate into my day.

I was so impressed by the depth of his work in this field, and because I worry that the topic of gratitude is in danger of becoming a pop cultural fad, I thought I’d share a few of his ideas with you today.

becoming aware of your fountain bowl

First of all it helps to be aware of what gratitude actually feels like when we’re experiencing it—in our bodies and our minds---and Brother Steindl-Rast uses a few words to explain his two components of gratitude, called gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Have you ever stopped to think about how "gratefulness" actually feels---so you can recognize it when it's happening?  The reason this is relevant is because we now have so much research telling us the profound impact gratitude has on our happiness.

Brother Steindl-Rast uses the analogy of a fountain bowl brimming with water to talk about how we experience gratefulness. So that we can think of ourselves as being this fountain bowl that has the ability to fill up with these wonderful sensations of joy and gratitude.

Most of us can recognize this experience as a warmth or a glow of happiness that expands inside of us although at this point, it's still what Brother Steindl-Rast calls “unarticulated joy,” because our feelings ("the water inside the bowl") are mostly quiet and still.

However, similiar to water when it reaches the top and begins to gush over, becoming louder, bubbling and glistening---so do our emotions get stronger, letting us know that we’re feeling something positive and good. 

This is his analogy of gratitude welling up in our hearts and overflowing into joy. He calls this the ‘thanksgiving’ component of gratitude.

But here's the crucial part.

In our day-to-day living we need to be aware of how our bowls can change their size. When we keep a small, humble bowl size, it is able to be filled up easier. And we’re able to walk around feeling in touch with gratefulness and joy for even the littlest things.

However, when we fall prey to consumerism and comparisons to our neighbors—our bowls become harder to fill up; the water is there but it can never reach the top and spill over if we are always seeking more quantity, if our bowl is always growing wider and deeper with all our wants and dissatisfaction.

It’s a simple analogy. But I love this visual image because it stresses that living a grateful life is a chosen response. We can chose to stay aware of our fountain bowl size. We can chose to remain aware that real joy comes from quality not quantity as our water level inside our fountain bowl reminds us.

But what happens when life gets hard? And when gratitude simply feels out of reach,?

For those who struggle to feel gratitude Brother Steindl-Rast makes this distinction.

Not everything that’s given to you—can be something you can be grateful of, he says, certainly  war, violence, sickness… are a few things you would never consider a gift. 

So when people ask him,

“Can you be grateful for everything?”

“No, not for everything,” he says, “But in every moment.

This is how it works.

The Stop-Look-Go practice

for feeling gratefulness in our daily life


This only takes seconds. But it's a game-changer. Because when we’re rushing though our day, busy juggling our lists and schedules it’s impossible to appreciate any opportunity for gratitude. That's because we’re not grounded in the present moment. So the first thing we need to do is simply stop.


This is when we ask ourselves this one question.
“What is the opportunity in this-given-moment?
Only this moment. Right now.

This is the stage of ‘beholding.’  This is when we look, listen, and attend to the moment in front of us, with the purpose of discerning the opportunity for gratefulness.

Remember that surprise is often the beginning of gratitude.
Think of the uniqueness of the moment and ask yourself.

What is the opportunity I can take away from this?

Brother Steindl-Rast reminds us that even in the most difficult situations we may ‘see’ an opportunity to learn something.
To Understand.
To grow in a deeper way.
Even to take a stand on a topic that matters to you.


This is the action step.
The crucial step that changes your life.
If you can see the opportunity, then you simply act. Do something with it. You avail yourself of this opportunity and as Brother Steindl-Rast says,

“If you try practicing it at this moment, by tonight you will already be happier because the immediate feedback is joy.”

Clearly Brother Steindl-Rast and his message about gratefulness touches something deep inside us. We sense truth in his words and that’s why an astonishing five million people have listened to this Benedictine monk’s Ted Talk. 

I think the longer we live-the more we recognize that life is messy and inherently out-of-our-control-- but the mere act of choosing our response to any situation empowers us, it offers us a tremendous way to grow. 

So this is what I've been doing this month.

Nothing too intense; I’m keeping this casual:

I’ve been waking up earlier than usual for a little yoga and meditation time.


I’m trying to actively use the Stop-Look-Go in my daily interactions


I begin each day using Brother Steindl-Rast’s own words to remind myself not to take anything for granted:

        Try saying this a few times over your morning coffee. It's pretty powerful.

Well friends, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. In the meantime, you can follow me on instagram (gwenmossblog) where I'm currently more active.

Love and Peace to you all


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