Calming Fragrances for a More Peaceful Home

Calming Vanilla for your Home

Create a soothing home environment with a Vanilla scent

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. As such, I think it’s really important to create some quiet alone time at home to get centered and calm. It’s key to also have a specific place in your home where you can create a sense of solace, escape and relaxation.

One of the things that can help is bringing fragrance into your home. It’s another element that can provide pleasure, everyday comforts and create a sense of happiness.

Aromatherapy is a proven technique that appeals to one of our most powerful and often neglected senses.  In an effort to ensure your holidays are as stress free as possible, consider bringing the following into your home in the form of essential oils, candles, and potpourri:

Cinnamon has both a stimulating and calming effect. It has been useful in treating depression, as well as uplifting those experiencing anxiety.

Lavender is known for its sedative effect on the nervous system, reduces emotional stress and tensions. It can also relieve anxiety, solve problems of insomnia and ease depression.

Jasmine is calming and balancing to the sympathetic nervous system and may be an aphrodisiac. It is used as an antidepressant, allowing those who are sad to be uplifted as it induces warm calming emotions. It is also used to prevent mental blockage, nervousness and sadness.

Sandalwood has neurological sedative effects on the mind and quiets mental activity. It pacifies anxiety, anger and rage, and  induces sleep.

Ylang Ylang calms anger and releases tension. It has been known to lower blood pressure and ease muscle spasms.

Vanilla has a calming, relaxing and comforting effect. It often has a sweet aroma that reminds people of happy memories of home and childhood. It is rich, warm and sweet and is a type of orchid.  It  relieves stress and is also thought to be an aphrodisiac.

What are some of your favorites?

Holiday “Entertain at Home” Photo Contest

Enter to Win by submitting your Enterain at Home photo

Enter to Win by submitting your most inspiring “Enterain at Home” photo!

As mentioned previously, my personal passions have helped me build a belief system about how specific “Home” and “Gift” products can add pleasure to your daily life. I truly do believe that color, smell, taste, and touch are integral aspects of a more pleasurable life: especially during the holidays!

So I’d love to get inspired by your ideas! Post your most inspiring photo of holiday decor (that is your own photo): and you’ll have an opportunity to get an extra special gift. The winner will win a $20 gift card from Pier 1 Imports! (We have not been paid by this company for this contest, and nor is this contest in any way sponsored by Pier 1 Imports. We just really love their merchandise!)

You can post your photo on our Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/everydaycomforts

or Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/everydaycomfort

Please be sure to post your photo using the hashtag #holidayhome, and if on Twitter, please reply to @everydaycomfort

Only one entry/post per person allowed. You must have taken the photo and own the right to post it online; photos taken by others and owned by others are not allowed. Please post your photo on our Facebook or Twitter page by midnight on December 20, 2013. The winner will be notified by January 1, 2014 by EverydayComforts.com.

* Please Note: Anyone found to create multiple accounts on Facebook or Twitter for the sole purpose of multiple entry in this contest will be found ineligible to win; and may have their accounts suspended due to Terms of Service violations on both social networks.

Collecting Holiday Moments, Away or At Home

Winter Home for the Holidays

Yellowstone Cabin- Courtesy of VRBO.com

I love travelling with my family for the holidays. But I love staying at home too and inviting people over, just as much.  This led me to wonder: what are some of the most memorable photos, the most miraculous moments that you’ve collected with those that you love?  Are they at home or when you’re travelling or are they both?

I was thinking about this recently, when I saw a morning news show interview with a philosopher and filmaker who was talking about inspired living and his study of awe.  Jason Silva has become known recently, for his YouTube video series, called “Shots of Awe.” In one video in particular, he talked about childlike states of wonder.  And I couldn’t help but think about how much we love to travel and experience new things, new places, new possibilities as a way of returning to a more open, childlike state of discovery. Perhaps that’s why it’s nice to go on a vacation for the holidays with family, as you get to experience new things together, and appreciate each other as well as the beauty of life.

In Jason Silva’s video, “Ignite Your Childlike State of Wonder,” I thought this idea regarding inspiration was so apt, especially for the holidays. Haven’t we also sometimes returned to a place we knew in childhood, and seen it differently? Or perhaps went home and appreciated it again, and just walked around and looked up at the stars at night? I think the secret to a happy life may just be in taking that spirit of possiblity and wonder that you might experience as a child or while traveling, and try to experience and appreciate what you have right in front of you, at home.

Cozy Autumn Comfort

Cozy Autumn Comfort

There’s something about Fall indulgences. What’s yours?

Happy November! It’s time to get warm and cozy by the fireside. Do you ever feel like you’re too busy for a little self-indulgence? Perhaps this will help inspire you to take a moment to enjoy the joys of Autumn.  Top decor tip of the week: use brown, orange, gold and red accessories in your room to ensure your space feels inviting and comfortable. And vote for your favorite autumn inspiration here:

~ Environments of Delight and Home Decor

Living Room Home Decor for Everyday Comforts

Cozy Vintage Chic Living Room, courtesy of ApartmentTherapy.com

As long as I can remember, I have been more excited about pillows, candles, home decor, furniture and decorative accessories than shoes and apparel. Where the gender stereotype is that men are obssessed with electronic gadgets and women with stillettos, I’ve always been more apt to spend my paycheck at a Vintage Antique Market than at a Nordstroms at the Mall. There is something special and exciting to me about creating special moments, events, pleasurable environments and atmospheres of delight.

Because of this, my personal passions have spilled over into a belief system about how specific “Home” and “Gift” products can add pleasure to your daily life. I love interior design, cooking, gardening and bath/body products because it’s an extension of my creativity that contributes to my happiness. I can create atmospheres of beauty and pleasure where there was none before; and it serves as a vehicle of both expression and comfort. Because of this I truly do believe that color, smell, taste, and touch are integral aspects of a more pleasurable life.  As such, I’m obsessed with everything “Home.” Continue reading

~ Discovering Cupcakes and Other Delights

Everyday Comforts: Cupcakes are a simple pleasure

Cupcakes Provide Pleasure and Comfort With Every Bite

Cupcakes are something I can believe in. And I’m not alone.  I’ve recently read articles in various national magazines about the growing trend of “Cupcakeries.”  It seems that they are becoming the new decadent dens of delight, for those seeking solace. In these recessionary times, people seem to be spending more in small increments, rather than going on a cruise to Cabo.  Simple pleasures such as sugary baked-goods, luxury home products, and spa items that create  “staycations” are on the rise. So is it possible that comfort-related products and businesses might be  recession-proof ?  

Looking at baked goods, for example: it’s a true phenomenon and there’s evidence that it’s just begun. “Sprinkles” Cupcake stores are expanding to over 10 retail locations by the end of this year. Originally just a Beverly Hills store, the company exploded after Oprah raved about it; and after it was mentioned in celebrity magazines as Suri Cruise’s favorite birthday item (her parents got them shipped across the country, when they were on a film shoot). Martha Stewart’s cupcake cookbook was on the New York Times’ best-seller list for months. There are multiple TV programs running on various cable networks called “Cupcake Wars,” “Cake Boss,” and even “DC Cupcakes.” It’s also a growing area in small businesses and blogs. Sunset Magazine recently focused on mobile gourmet food companies, such as high-end Cupcake and Ice Cream  trucks (in addition to high-end “roach coaches”). It’s exploded in big business this year, too: “Cinnebon” is expanding their footprint internationally and has recently added cupcakes to their menu. 

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~ Music is Happiness Food for the Soul

Everyday Comforts: Music is one of life's little pleasures, simple joys and treasures!

Music is truly a simple joy and a source of everyday happiness.

I must admit, I’ve always loved music. Music=Happiness to me. From the time I sang as a young child with my Dad, to my stint as a college DJ: music has provided me with a huge amount of pleasure. I hope to discuss many different senses in this blog, but for the moment I hope to explore my love of music: and how the digital age provides an abundance of discovery and access to pleasure.

I believe music to be the poetry of our modern times, that helps to connect us and share emotional experiences. And it’s also a potent antidote to daily stress.  I have diverse musical tastes and find music exploration to be mentally and creatively expansive.  As such, I have become a bit of an aficionado of social music discovery sites, like Pandora, Last.fm, iLike (and others, like Slacker and MOG)!  I’ve discovered alot of artists I might not have otherwise heard of, through others that have similar eclectic-but-specific tastes.  And I’ve been able to help people discover a few favorite musicians of my own liking! This sharing/social aspect is wonderful.

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~ Daily Doses of Happiness and the Happiness Project

Everyday Comforts: Life's Little Pleasures and Treasures

Happiness and Everyday Comforts can sometimes be found in a book. Especially when you're reading it at the beach!

 I’ve recently been reading a great book , called “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.  The book and the happiness project blog have alot of great ideas for how to achieve happiness in modern times.  What’s interesting to me, is the book hits upon many of the themes I’ve been writing about here in my Everyday Comforts blog, and it’s especially relevant with the current economic downturn.  Within its very appeal, it underscores current cultural shifts and how people are thinking about what they need.

I didn’t know about the Happiness Project book or blog , when I started writing my own blog in January, 2009. Is this a case of cultural synchronicity at hand once again? Or is it  just a coincidence that this book was recently on the New York times best seller list?  Hmm, maybe I do have my finger on the pulse of cultural trends, after all! Or maybe I’m just like a lot of other people, seeking joie de vivre in everything I can!

The Happiness Project is recommended by Everyday Comforts

the Happiness Project is an Everyday Comfort that inspires

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~Ten Things for Daily Happiness

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

Picture of my dog max in a summer garden.

In my last post, I talked about how we need to simplify our lives, integrate a habit of simple joys and surround ourselves with things that bring us comfort. Here’s what I count on daily, to add quality to my life: what about you? Please feel free to share your own suggestions.

1. Walk by the beach, and listen to the sound of the ocean

2. Use soaps and products with lavender, or that smell like fresh laundry and flowers

3. Listen to some amazing music and sing along very LOUDLY while no one is around; alternatively, remember to laugh at myself  occasionally

4. Eat well: enjoy fresh food, and make really enjoyable delicious things at least once a day

5.  Spend a few moments admiring a garden or a beautiful park (ideally while enjoying a picnic lunch)

6.  Take a long walk with my dog and spend at least 30 minutes playing with him, talking to him, and petting him generously

7.  Giving a quick call to family and friends: there’s no time to connect with people you love like today

8.  Admire things that inspire me and give me solace in my home (like art, home furnishings, perfumes, movies, music, etc.); and think of how to make my environment more enjoyable by appealing to the senses

9.  Read positive quotes and take a brief moment for meditation over my morning coffee, and then do ONE random act of kindness for a stranger during my day

10.  Take ten minutes to focus on the things and people that I love, and say thanks for “3 things that I’m grateful for” before I go to sleep

~Are Simple Pleasures A Necessary Thing?

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

Focusing on things that bring us pleasure is much needed in these times

I was viewing a philosophical video essay recently with a very interesting premise.  It was that “The Pursuit of Happiness is a Moral Obligation” versus a selfish desire.  The idea is that how we act and what we do impact not only our own feelings, but that of others. So why impose anything other than happiness, laughter and joy on others? It is a conscious choice that we can make.  Even a leading psychologist and scholar, Martin Seligman, has suggested that happiness is a like a muscle: that we can consciously strengthen with daily exercise.  So it’s best for ourselves and it’s best for others,  but how do we achieve this in these complicated times?

In reflection on my own life, I realize that I’ve often been too focused on the end result versus my journey there.  Perhaps I’ve been a lesser person than I could be, in terms of my not only my own happiness but also my impact on others. There have been so many times that I have denied myself pleasure for the sake of discipline and staying focused on career, personal goals and finances, for example.  And if I grew frustrated or tired, it showed. Gratification and balance were always delayed. Somehow, I thought that was what an admirable, hard-working professional should be: persistant and stoic no matter how tough things got. Who has time for pleasure when there’s so much to DO?

I think the best analogy I’ve seen or read has to do with allowing some “white space” in your life.  In the same way that graphic designers know that art needs to be balanced with an adequate amount of white space to be effective and uncluttered; I think we as individuals need white space in our lives for solace and pleasure to rejuvenate ourselves.

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