In Search of Comfort

64 Arts

I have always loved the weight of a big, fluffy comforter on me while I sleep. Even as a teenager, in the heat of a 106-degree summer with no air conditioning, I’d sleep with the lightest nightgown I owned, wrapped in the comforter with an oscillating fan on high pointed straight at me.

For the early parts of my semi-adult life, I had the usual 20-something kit of discount-store specials and whatever someone might have given me and I still had that same comforter from my Mom’s house.

When I married my second husband, he owned his own home and was agreeable to me redecorating, within reason. Color me ecstatic!

Turned out ‘within reason’ meant no changing the furniture, the wall colors or moving any of his stuff.

But I was still in an optimistic mood so I decided I could work within those boundaries.

I had a vision for the bedroom: garden, but not floral. Sage greens and botanicals, and I knew the exact comforter that would be perfect for the room–even though I’d never seen it before.

On our “honeymoon” (another story for another time) took us past an outlet mall on the way home so we popped in for some window shopping. Walking into the Wamsutta outlet I squealed.

There it was, high on a shelf: my comforter.

Wamsutta Garden Comforter

Wamsutta Garden Comforter

I never did get anywhere else with the house in the 3 years we were together. I had plans to update the kitchen, he liked them until I talked about tile. I wanted to replace the knobs on the cabinets. Veto. When we split, I kept the comforter.

Midway through my 4 years of living on my own I decided it was time for a new look. Botanicals were soon to be retired for something else. Something spicy. Something bold. Something red.

Some would say red is the wrong color for the bedroom. In fact, that feng shui research I was doing last week said exactly that–it’s too spicy a color for true rest and relaxation.

Not for me, for me red is a warm color and I’m cold-natured. It’s just the think to keep me toasty warm and cozy. Furthermore, it’s a sensual color fitting for a boudoir, especially when the theme is more Moroccan than red light district.

The only problem was finding that perfect comforter. What lengths did I go to? Department stores, discount stores, outlet stores and mall. Specialty stores were searched and I even went out of state, took a 5-hour drive to the nearest IKEA in the interest of interior decoration.

While that trip did yield a set of sheets and a couple of blankets all in the deep red that I was craving, the comforter options we less than comforting. Still, it was a start and by then it was summer, so the light blanket did the trick while the search continued.

Of course I searched online numerous times until one day, as fall waned, I hit the jackpot on Bless that big red O’s online heart and their $2.95 shipping, too! I’d finally found it. Who cares if it was only available in King and my bed was a double? Not me! I’ve never been fond of covers that didn’t cover the sides of the bed, anyway!

The Red Bedroom

The Red Bedroom

Between Overstock, IKEA (also responsible for the end tables slightly visible in this picture), Bealls outlet (the lamps), Big Lots (the curtain panels–the left one is covering nothing, our new-old home has some funny ideas when it comes to window placement), and Marshalls (the curtain panel that is covering my blond-wood headboard) and a trip to JoAnns for fabric (in my apartment I couldn’t paint, so I draped the walls with panels of gold and burgundy voile; this house we can and do plan to paint the bedroom an antique gold) I got just the room I wanted.

I suppose if there’s a takeaway from all of this it’s

  • a) don’t let anyone tell you a color is wrong for the bedroom
  • b) never give up–you will find the comfort(er) you’re looking for

The Chef’s Knife


It’s tough to cook much without a good knife, that’s just the way things are. And, in a lot of ways, it’s true: you get what you pay for. But sometimes, just sometimes, you get more than you expected.

When I was in School, along with uniforms and books, part of our fees went towards a rather spiffy knife kit. Included in this kit, obviously, was a very serious chef’s knife. And in this case, very serious translates to pretty big and heavy. Now, it’s true that women are making serious inroads into the professional kitchen arena but many things continue to default to male. Take chef’s jackets, for one: they look great on a man, second only to a double-breasted suit, probably, but on most women they need serious tailoring to be anything close to flattering. Chef’s knives, by and large, are made for men’s hands and I have tiny, girly hands, so using that knife for 2 years, straight, meant plenty of blisters.

Now, sure, I could have gone out and bought a smaller knife, we even had a specialty cookware store in town that carried some real beauties. But, as much as I wanted to stand out to my instructors (and I did, make no mistake) that wasn’t the way I wanted to do it. Call it stubborn, but I stuck it out with that massive knife and I still use it on big jobs at home because it is such a workhorse, even if it still hurts my hand.

Of course, part of that is because of how we were taught to hold the knife. While most people, myself included, would just hold it by the handle, that’s actually NOT the best way to work a blade. Think about it: a knife like this is 2/3 blade and 1/3 handle. Even though the manufacturer does an excellent job of balancing the two parts, it’s still uneven and if you hold the knife by the handle alone you don’t have as much control as when you place your thumb and first joint of your index finger on either sides of the blade and grasp the handle with the remaining 3 fingers. Try it for yourself, with this grip the knife becomes an extension of your arm and weilds greater force.

The idea that bigger, and more expensive, isn’t always better came to a head last year while I was browsing the kitchen-ware section of IKEA. On their wall of tools I saw a cute little utility knife that had the shape of a classic chef’s in a much smaller package. It was all of $7 so I thought I’d give it a try. To my unending surprise, this little mini-chef (as I like to call it) is lightweight, sturdy, comfortable for my little hands and keeps an excellent cutting surface. It’s been my workhorse for a year now and I only wish the nearest IKEA weren’t 4.5 hours away or I’d surely have given more of their knives a test.

About the only downside is the length of the blade when dealing with large veggies, like squash or leeks and the like. The longer blade allows for a good reach and a rocking motion to really power through some produce at top speed. But since this only matters, for me, when I’m prepping a ton of mise en place for a party or holiday dinner, it’s not too big a deal (and it’s not like I got rid of my big knives).

A few more tips from Knife Skills 101

  • A falling knife has no handle.
  • More accidents happen with dull blades than sharp ones.
  • Knife Skills Practical Exam: if you cut yourself, you fail.