Weekend Reading

By Kate Riley October 13, 2017

I’m a very positive and upbeat person, but the last two weeks have dealt me a few serious blows. The inconceivability of the Las Vegas shooting. The devastation from the Wine Country wildfires. And my best friend diagnosed with a serious stage of cancer. Please 2017, tell me you’re done delivering bad news.

I hate to be a Debbie Downer especially when most of you are preparing for the holidays, creating, decorating, living your lives. I’ve been reading your posts about home renovation and fall home tours and Halloween decorations. They make me smile, knowing so many of you are making your homes beautiful and enjoying this time of year.

Sorrow hits us all at different moments and while we’re feeling it we still watch the rest of the world going on around us, and it’s surreal when you’re stuck in the middle of an ongoing sad situation. This last week my town has felt like a war zone with the smoke in the air and the stories of evacuation and destruction. From my porch, I can see the smoke and ashes have settled all over my home. Never have I been so touched by tragedy as in the past week. The stories I’m hearing all day from friends and neighbors are overwhelming, recounting the harrowing stories of escape and the incredible amount of devastation.

I went to my regular fitness class this morning in an attempt to feel normal again, and it helped seeing some favorite faces. Still, we’re all so mournful because these wildfires have touched all of our lives. Everyone knows so many families that have lost absolutely everything. The encouraging words people are saying include “I’m just glad to be alive” and “we will rebuild”. The wildfires aren’t contained yet, but we hear the aircraft flying overhead and it keeps us hopeful. It will probably be a decade before my beautiful Sonoma County returns to its former glory. I will be involved and in the trenches of the rebuilding efforts.

I’ve been out of it for a few weeks due to the circumstances but I know you all understand why. I will remain strong and continue to blog about home design and DIY projects. Thank you all for extending love and support here and on Instagram and Facebook, I do appreciate it so much.

Favorite links from the week below:


This dark and dramatic tablescape is fresh take on Halloween.

Will’s beach house kitchen is perfection.

People painting their walls white for Instagram. :)

A family friendly farmhouse renovation.

I find this tip so helpful when it comes to removing clutter.

I love this striking vertical stack bond tile installation.

Definitely trying this refreshing sangria recipe.

These baked donuts look delish (just need that donut pan!)

Inside the Wine Country fires.

This travel Instagrammer makes me laugh.



  1. Our hearts are broken for all of you and your beautiful area. When the unexpected happens it’s hard to stay positive and focused – but we understand and only wish you peace and strength during such a trying time.

  2. So much good stuff in the midst of the bad. That travel instagrammer is hysterical! The doughnuts- hello! Doughnuts. And perfect for fall. That farmhouse amazing! On the other side, the fire…wow. We have been to Napa and Sonoma many times over the years and I just can’t get over it. I know it can be rebuilt and all of that, but it is just so sad. And the people who have died…just tragic. Praying for continued progress in stopping the fire and safety for all. Blessings.

  3. I know how you feel. We have friends and family who have lost homes, pets, dreams, income. We are still breathing the smoke daily down by San Jose. I have difficulty breathing from smoke triggered asthma, and have smoke induced migraines. Everyone in our family seems to have a headache, constantly, that never goes away. The kids’ have anxiety because they can’t go out even at school; it all reminds us constantly. It feels like there is no safe space as I have family that has been in the path of hurricanes recently, friends who have lost family members and homes to hurricanes, and seeing this continue, the people in places like Puerto Rico still struggling, the fires still burning…it’s too much sometimes. Thank you for saying what is happening to you and your family, for not acting like everything is normal because sometimes seeing blog after blog of just decorating is too much. Being human, having human pain and sadness and problems is what makes a blog real- not just a slick marketing gimmick. It’s what makes readers want to follow a blog. Lately I’m skipping the blogs that just have pretty pictures. It seems so unimportant and trivial when so many people are experiencing such turmoil.

    • I hear you Natasha, when there is so much suffering around you it’s so difficult to talk about material things. Life will go on, it takes a lot of strength. I’m trying to be sensitive to everyone’s needs and I’m being pulled in a million directions. Thank you for your real perspective.

  4. You are the one and only blog that I read each and every day. I know that we don’t know each other personally, but sometimes, I do feel like I know you very well. I hope just hearing from a stranger how much joy you have brought to my life will lift you up just the tiniest bit. It’s been a painful year for so many on so many levels. Sending love from New Orleans! XOXO

  5. The tragic series of events have been overwhelming. We are heartbroken for you and your community. I am so thankful for the stories of selfless acts of kindness and bravery. It truly has been such an emotional time. I, too, am wishing you peace and strength. God bless you and your family and your best friend.

  6. What’s happening in your part of the world is awful. Witnessing these things and talking with people directly affected is very stressful. You are a victim too, now. Don’t discount that. And remember that actually going through these events is only stage one. Right now everyone is pulling together and coping together. In the weeks and months and years to come, that might not be so easy. It will take a long, long time to rebuild and some people’s lives will be changed by this. My advice form Chch is be kind to yourself, keep talking openly, allow others to feel however they feel, allow YOURSELF to feel however you feel. There will be anger at some point. That’s OK. And keep doing what you’re doing – going to regular classes and trying to feel normal!

  7. I live in Las Vegas and have lots of family in No. CA. My nephew and family live in Napa. My heart continues to break everyday, but at the same time my resilience grows. I understand ~ one day at a time. The love and support are overwhelming. We are all stronger than we know. No apologies ~ do what feels right. Your (and your family and friends) well-being is most important. Nothing else matters.

  8. I’m so sorry for everything you’re going through – as the rest of us read about the devastation and death that the wildfires are leaving, it’s incomprehensible. And then to receive the awful news about your friend too. Thinking of you during this tough tough time.

  9. You need to take care of yourself first. Prayers for comfort and peace.

    • Thank you Patty, I am and trying to be strong for all of those around me. It’s a lot to bear. I appreciate your concern and comment.

  10. Kate, I’m so very heart broken for your beautiful area too and can’t even imagine all the devastation and destruction left behind. Life in general seems to be in chaos lately with all the hurricanes, shootings, and natural disasters. That’s when we have to keep our faith strong and look UP, which I know you do. Hugs my friend!

  11. I’ve had years like the one you’re having this year – where everything seems to be going wrong, and it stinks, plain and simple. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of this loss and sadness around you, but I’m hopeful that you will be a part of the light that brings it back to life. I’m hopeful that you’ll be encouraged by the power of human kindness that seems to shine its brightest when things are the darkest. Hang in there Kate. :-)

  12. It’s ok to vent, you have every right.
    I am here in Southern Marin with lots of friends up North who have been direct hits of these tragic fires.
    Keep safe.

  13. Sometimes it seems that the whole world is falling in your head, and you unfortunately are right in the middle of it this time. I have had years like that, too, but it eventually passes. Many lives will be forever changed by the hideous events of this past month, true. I fervently hope that these events will open the eyes and minds and hearts of those in positions of power to make changes in society and laws fossil fuel consumption which will make the world a better place to live for everyone. I wish you and all those around you peace, hope and love.

  14. I looked at all of the Wine Country fire pictures. So sad. Prayers for you Kate that you might have happier times ahead. Vikki in VA.

  15. Dear Kate My thoughts are with you and those in CA affected by these fires. I am sorry to hear about your friends cancer, sending prayers. It has been a rough time for so many. At times like these it helps to hear about something positive. A former marine who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan is running 30 marathons in 30 days to help other vets. RobJonesJourney.com

  16. Thank you for the lovely words about our kitchen! Sorry to read about your friend, as well. Sending healing thoughts.

  17. I’m so sorry. Sometimes life just sucks! I’m in Houston and while all the flooding and 5 days of torrential rain fell, I was trying to care for my dad (and 2 kids and hubby) who had cancer among other health issues. It was nerve wrecking. Then I was diagnosed this summer with skin cancer and it may have spread to my lymph nodes. I goin for another scan tomorrow. All the while life keeps going on. Kids go to school and have massive amounts of homework. Neighborhoods get cleaned up. Life continues but I too feel what you are feeling. I’m 34 and these last few years have sucked. I’m so ready for a new year.

  18. The pictures of the fires gave me chills. I live in Kelowna BC Canada and this summer was the worst fire season we’ve experienced. So much destruction, its devastating. I’m so sorry yiu and your beautiful area suffered in such a horrific way.

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