Friday, September 23, 2016

Reflections on a New Season

image via

Lately, I’ve had the overwhelming urge to simplify my life.  The prospect of moving will do that to you.  When your life is about to be packed up, you suddenly realize how much stuff there is. 

Typically, when we’ve moved internationally we have 30 days in temporary housing while our belongings are shipped to the new location.  This time, the boys and I are going to stay with my parents in Chicago in the interim which makes packing all the more complicated! So many moving parts, especially with two kids.  

This is the perfect time to reevaluate and streamline things a bit.  Therefore, the idea of minimalism is utterly appealing.  I wholeheartedly adore the idea of creating a home, closet and life that is intentional and less cluttered (literally and figuratively). 

Perhaps you’re also feeling the same way with the change of seasons? I know that usually prompts me to reevaluate things a bit. 

I stumbled upon this beginner’s guide to minimalism which provides wonderful and thought provoking questions to help kick-start living a simpler life and thought I would share here to chronicle what I hope to be a new focus.  Join me?

  • Which 3-5 things are most important to you in life? Does the way you spend your time reflect these?
  • What part of the day do you usually look forward to the most? Why?
  • How does your living space make you feel?
  • How many hours per day do you spend feeling rushed, stressed or anxious? What (or who) is causing that?
  • What is your favourite place in your house/apartment? Why?
  • How often do you do things just for fun?
  • What activities always leave you feeling fresh and re-energised?
  • Which of your commitments (side projects, clubs, memberships, etc.) truly add value to your life and which don't?
  • If this week had an extra day, how would you spend it? How good are you at saying no?

Hopefully I’ll be back next week once we can get settled in a bit to a new routine.  

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thomas' Nursery

I’m a bit in denial that we will be moving at the end of this week.  There are so many things to do before then!  But before everything is packed up, it was important to me to document Thomas’ nursery.  It is such a special room because it is his first.  
I'm so grateful that I had taken the time to photograph James Robert’s room so that even after we moved, I could remember fondly all of the details (more on that here). And I couldn’t not do that for Thomas!

We currently live in a rental, so decorating this nursery had more restrictions in terms of what I could change and do.  Also, because I knew we would be in it for a limited time, I didn’t want to invest heavily or make too many holes in the wall.

Many of the pieces in his room are repurposed from James Robert's nursery or other rooms from our previous house.  The nursery together organically mixing what we had on hand which further supports my theory that if you only buy what you love, it will have longevity and you'll always be able to find a spot for it. 
I got lucky with the natural grass cloth wallpaper in this room.  It adds a lot of texture to the space and allowed me to get away with less on the walls.  I love how cozy it feels!

My original inspiration was here. And the end result is close to what I had in mind.  It is simple, mostly neutral but full of sentiment.  For example, the print is a special prayer from Brim Papery and the cable knit blanket from Boll and Branch is a sweet gift from Thomas' Aunt and Uncle.  

I did get a few new items for Thomas' nursery such as the crib sheet; I'm absolutely smitten with the bunny crib sheet from Pehr Designs. 

And I love using fabric bins to add additional pattern to the room. I was gifted a collection of small gray and white ones which house toys and little baby gear (similar size and pattern here).  I use the larger size for a hamper.  Also, I can't underestimate the power of adding plants to a room.  Not only is it a boost for air quality, but it makes everything else come alive too.
The salt lamp really is one of my favorite things in the whole room.  It has the perfect amount of soft light so that when I turn it on for middle of the night nursing sessions, it doesn't completely wake either of us up.  Plus I love the idea that the negative ions released are able to promote sleep, increase the levels of serotonin in the brain and calm allergy and asthma symptoms.  All great things for a nursery.

I can hardly believe how little Thomas seems in his birth announcement already; I love the way they turned out.  They are from Minted. 

Most importantly, Thomas really started to thrive in this little room and it has been a space of such sweet memories.

I've included as many of the sources as possible below, but as always, please feel free to email me questions or leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

Ikea Dressersalt lampBallard Design MirrorCrib, Custom bed skirt and bumpers, Pehr Design Bunny Crib Sheet, Pehr Designs ABC fabric binStuffed Bunny, Custom Glider, Ikat Ottoman, Brim Papery Print, Boll & Branch Knitted Throw Blanket 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

The mornings have been wonderfully crisp the past few days and just begging for a warm breakfast. I've been itching to make baked oatmeal after having it at a girlfriends house for brunch.  It's cake-like, but much healthier! 

There are many versions of baked oatmeal, but I couldn't resist making it with pumpkin to welcome the fall season.  It made the house smell incredible and it was sooo good that we made it twice this week.  I'm sure that I'll be experimenting with other flavor combinations soon. We ate it warm the first day, but it can keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and also be enjoyed at room temperature.  It's a great make-ahead breakfast you can enjoy all week.  Having something healthy pre-made on busy mornings makes me so happy. 

The pumpkin baked oatmeal is 100% toddler approved! It was not only easy and fun for James Robert to help me make, but he gobbled it up every morning this week without knowing how healthy it is! And I love it because it feels indulgent and keeps me satisfied well into the morning.  

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal Recipe:
(adapted from Apple of My Eye)

2 1/4 cup old fashion oats (you can use quick cook, but decrease cooking time)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice)
1/2  teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar lightly packed
1 1/2 cups of milk
1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chia seeds

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2) In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients (oats, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar, chia seeds)
3) In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients (milk, pumpkin, egg, vanilla, honey)
4) Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until incorporated
5) Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish 
6) Bake for 50-60 minutes 

P.S.  My other favorite slow cooker overnight oatmeal recipe is here

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nautical Fall Look-alike

I picked up this nautical inspired skirt the other day at H&M and was really impressed with the fabric weight and fit (it looks better than the online pictures).  A day later, I saw this image in the J.Crew catalog and did a double take!

Very rarely will I find a look-alike that I like as much, but this comes really close for a fraction of the price.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Hitting the Refresh Button

The best $3 I ever spent was on a 1 hour foot massage (somewhere in rural China).  That lady worked magic on my weary travellers feet and I’ve yet to match that experience spending 20 fold the amount.  
Lately, I spend a lot of time standing.  I may not be exploring new places (more like pacing in circles to calm a crying baby or chasing a toddler) but my tootsies could use a respite all the same.  

For about the same amount of cash, I have come close to finding a method to refresh my feet that may not be as memorable, but comes close to being as rejuvenating as my travel experience.  

Lemon, epsom salt and some warm water (perhaps with a glass of wine on the side) are a wonderful soak that not only make your feet feel pampered, but promotes overall relaxation. On the particularly long days, it feels like hitting the refresh button.  This has been one of my favorite little ways to use 5 minutes for self-care which is so desperately needed as a new mom.  

What are your favorite little luxuries? 

P.S.  Now that it's September, one of my favorite Fall nail colors is Essie's Chinchilly

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pure Michigan Tradition

August in Northern Michigan is the perfect bookend to summer.  The tradition of gathering at the lake each summer with our extended family was made even more special this summer as Thomas was introduced to the bunch.
Of the many things we enjoy about Northern Michigan, there is a beach close to our family's home that has been the highlight of family memories for decades. I have been taking a picture of James Robert in the same spot every year since he was born; I was so sentimental about taking both boys there for the first year of pictures with two! 

To get a toddler and a baby to look at the camera was challenging, but boy will I treasure these pictures as the first in the series of both of my babies.

As soon as I snapped about 10 photos of the two of them, James Robert bounded down the beach to run in the water and throw rocks. I sat nursing Thomas and took did my best to soak in the memories.

P.S. It's so fun to look back at the other pictures in this series over on our family blog, here, here and  here

Friday, August 19, 2016

Snapshot Vol. 2

We've been enjoying our annual trip to Northern Michigan with our extended family this week. There are twenty of us (eight kids) and three dogs all in tow!  This year, James Robert has been enthralled with the lake and spent hours playing and splashing with his cousins.  It's really a sweet to see another generation enjoy this special place. Tommy is the youngest cousin and getting so much love from all of the bigger kids.

Reading: Lately, I've been reading baby books, most notably Colic Solved as we try to help Tommy feel better.

Listening: I've been listening to In the Garden of Beasts on Audible when I wake up to nurse Tommy; it's non-fiction and very compelling.

Eating:  We've been on a sweet potato kick.  This sweet potato hummus is better than any store bought we've tried.  And I have been loving these sweet potato breakfast bowls as a very satisfying start to the day that is healthy and dairy/grain free.

Playing: These water balloons are such a hit; the kids couldn't get enough of them this week!

Coveting: I am amazed at so many baby items that have changed over the last 3 years.  That or my taste has changed dramatically.  I'm not going to replace all my old stuff, but if I could, I would buy the Baby Bjorn seat (so much better looking and practical since it folds) and I have been hearing such wonderful things about the DockaTot that I would love to try that too.

Watching: I'm SO excited to move back to the US so I get all of the TV shows I want to watch this fall.  But in the meantime, thank goodness for Netflix.  I finally watched Out of Africa (such a classic) and it was beautiful. I can see why it has been so well loved.

Loving: Instagram Stories are so fun; I feel like it's bringing such a candid and real aspect to that platform and I can't get enough.  Also, I'm loving this wave spray; it smells fantastic!

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