I’m writing this from one of my favorite little coffee shops. It’s a charming home-away-from-home to make a little workstation, as there’s always warm, spicy tea and big windows for taking periodic visual breaks from the screen to look at people bustling about town with their babies, bags, pups, and friends, kicking up the first few autumn leaves on the street and pulling their coat collars closer up their necks. That’s right, kids – Fall is truly here and it’s starting to get cold as fuck. In grand Chicago fashion, we’re not just facing fall – we’re facing a three-day autumn which will then be followed by a six-month long, brutal, colder-than-a-witch’s-titty style winter. While I adore fall, I’m dreading winter, but coffee shops like this make it infinitely more bearable.
I used to have a decrepit little basement apartment in Boston that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. You know how certain places, at the time, don’t strike you as special, and then you find yourself wistfully remembering them later? Yeah, this is that place.
The pipes didn’t just creak, they would bang. All damn night, as the old-timey radiators would produce that hiss of steam heat. I had a sleepover with friends and while I slept soundly through the clanging I’d become accustomed to, they were awake all night, terrified. The building was covered in ivy, which crept down to my windows and wove its little vines around the 1920’s window grates. The kitchen was not technologically advanced, but had a remarkably sunny window and epic counter and cabinet space. The floors were blonde and brown original pine and felt magical underfoot, even in freezing temps. And the bathroom had original black-and-white penny tiles, pedestal sink (I’d imagine some fancy flapper girl getting ready there, though that probably never happened), and a GLORIOUS claw-footed tub with just the right slanted back for soaking in lavender-infused baths while still balancing a book or magazine. At the time, I had no idea this place was such a hub of magic, but by golly it was. I don’t have many pictures from this apartment, save for this one, of my bedroom window on a dreary day. I remember taking it with my digital camera and feeling so cozy (yes, it’s a small pic. Technology, you know…):
The Ritual of Relaxing
During days like this, you could find me one of three places: (1) in the kitchen cooking while listening to The Cure; (2) in the bathtub taking a luxurious soak; or, (3) in the bedroom reading, talking on the phone, or making collages (because I had the preoccupations of a 15 year old, I guess…). I would lay on my bed on such rainy days, steam heat banging and windows open (to hear the plop plop ping ping of the raindrops and get a fresh cross breeze), pull my coziest duds on, and read and sip tea or Cafe Bustelo all afternoon. It was a little ritual that got me through breakups and work challenges, stressful times and occasional illnesses, and would generally recharge me to start the workweek fresh and with renewed vigor. During these times, I would also task myself with fun challenges that truly made me and my life better. There was one month in particular where I had three challenges going all at once: (1) Pack my lunch every work day (It’s no coincidence that I lost 6 lbs during this challenge); (2) Read every book on my bookshelf before I buy or acquire any new ones and donate them to a friend or charity once I finished reading them (that was a truly rewarding exercise, and I did it!); and, (3) Use up everything in my fridge before I go grocery shopping (this led to many interesting meals…).
This unwinding and enjoying my space is a ritual that somehow, I’ve forgotten and neglected. Life gets busy, we cohabitate, and we forget to carve out a niche of space that feels like ours, that feels special. Although it feels like you’re doing nothing, relaxation gives way to so many ideas and much-needed freshness in life, and I find winter to be a marvelous time to turn inward, cultivate those special little spaces and rituals, and get our little squirrel houses in order before the sunshine returns.
Stay in Bed
Perhaps this post is aspirational. As I was compiling these luxe and comfy finds, I was feeling like I was back in that little garden apartment , surrounded by the permission I used to give myself to kick back, imagine, compile, read, and generally enjoy life from the bed. I hope this inspires some of you busy bees to pause a moment, take shelter from the cold, and indulge in pulling on yummy pjs and socks, burrowing in to the covers with a good book (I mean, how can you beat Moz’s autobiography? Right, you can’t) and an adorable mug filled with of-the-moment tea (maple? pumpkin? chai? fuck yes), and a candle that smells like heaven.
// 1. ALAS Lingerie Astronomy Pajama Set // 2. Morrissey Autobiography // 3. Pacifica Tibetan Mountain Temple Candle // 4. Char-Bea by Ashley G. Brushstroke Duvet Cover // 5. Peshtemal Organic Cotton Turkish Fouta + Throw // 6. How to Make Pumpkin Maple Chai Tea // 7. Homegrown Monogram Mugs // 8. Crocheted Tabi Sock by Miakoda in Black //
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