Favorite things

Riley photos


  • Berry wreaths
  • Clear glass vases or jars, especially with something interesting filling them
  • Tiny white Christmas lights, used year round as backlighting
  • Bread fresh from the oven, lots of butter
  • Anything from Pottery Barn
  • Cooking magazines
  • Traveling anywhere with Rob
  • A quirky sense of humor
  • Sentimental anything….music, movies, commercials, cards
  • Quaint towns that make me think “I could live here!”
  • Warmth
  • Soft gingerbread cookies
  • The shared look between lovers that tells each of you that you know the other’s thought
  • The fragrance of home baking – anything from the fall…apples, pumpkin, spices, all those comforting aromas
  • Beautiful beaches
  • Frank Sinatra’s music
  • King crab legs cracked open by my husband and dipped in melted butter…heavenly!
  • Cranberry colored paint on walls with white trim
  • Family photos
  • Cilantro, basil, and rosemary…fresh herbs in salads and soups

The comfort of ritual

Every morning I do the same thing: I let the dogs out, push the brew button on the coffee maker, begin my day’s routine. Routine gives order and rhythm to my progress. Yet much of my routine is ordinary…just the regular steps required to get myself out the door in the morning.

Then there are the moments of my day that are about ritual. There is a subtle difference between routine and ritual in my mind. Both are words that describe repeated events. Yet “routine” captures the ordinary, “ritual” describes a more deliberate and elevated experience. Although commonly associated with religion, “ritual” can refer to any repeated behavior. For me, rituals represent choices that are about comfort, serenity, peace.

Lighting a candle at dinner, choosing soft music, brewing an evening cup of tea, reading something inspirational…these are all rituals in my day, small luxuries that soften the hard edges of life. One of the best ways to infuse a sense of serenity  is through scent. I have a special herbal soap that takes me (however briefly) to spa mode as I use it. One of my husband’s rituals is to light incense or a scented candle when he comes into the living room. Music can also contribute to ritual. My husband and I love classic Frank Sinatra and music of that era and frequently choose that genre of music to play during dinner. Or on a Saturday afternoon, the tunes may be classic rock and roll, Johnny Cash, Jack Johnson, or Southern rock …each type of music evoking a different mood, unique to the day.

Rituals can be simple, yet significant.  When my husband is home,  one of our favorite meals is a plate of fruit and cheese and a bottle of wine as we watch the sunset. Or we watch an evening sitcom with the dogs curled up beside us. Sometimes we look at each other and say, “this is the good stuff.”

Rituals slow me down, make me more contemplative. Rituals soothe me when I’m anxious, warm me when I’m chilled, and remind me that days are not meant to be just routine. There is a void in life that only the addition of ritual can fill.