Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

COMMENTS: 44

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

I’ll never forget the time when, a few weeks after Hudson was born, Aron walked into our tiny Manhattan studio apartment to find me rocking back and forth like a madwoman on the sofa—at the time convinced that it was perfectly normal to just pretend to have a rocking chair to soothe our colicky infant. We didn’t have room for one after all, and the yoga ball just wasn’t cutting it. Our eyes met and I suddenly realized how crazy I must have looked. We both burst into laughter. (Moments later, of course, I passed Hudson off to Aron when he, no doubt, started performing some other version of a soothing-jiggly-bouncy dance that was no less ridiculous. Probably right before I crept through our closet, past Hudson’s mini-crib, to get to the bathroom.)

Ah, the crazy things you do in the name of sleep.

It all passes, and you look back with humor and nostalgia at what would once induce panic and weepy tears. We survived (thrived mostly) in that 500-square-foot space, the three of us. And I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in minimalism. But there was often a sense that it would be so different (i.e. easier) if we had more space.

Yes and no, is what we’ve learned since moving to a larger home in California. We still have to do the jiggly-bouncy-crazy dance (and now while smiling reassuringly at a toddler) but now we can get help from a rocking chair. There’s still that sense of fear that strikes about six weeks in: “will we ever be able to go outside past 8pm again?” (of course, yes), but now we can eat outside in the backyard. When she cries, it still sounds as loud as a chainsaw (to her own parents’ ears), but we no longer feel like we have to jump at the slightest peep out of courtesy to our neighbors. Thank goodness for not sharing walls. No matter the circumstances, new parenthood seems to come with its own dizzying combination of joy and anxiety, and often a bit of isolation.

More than ever, I’ve discovered, it’s important to love where you live—and find comfort in your home.

Here are ten things making motherhood sweeter at home these days…

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

Her big brother, who has been more patient and tender than I could have ever imagined. “Her name Skyler.” “O want to pet her head?”—whereby “o” he means “u”—is the greeting Hudson offers enthusiastically to everyone who passes.

Fresh, white sheets for snuggling (and petting her head and nursing and napping and, more often than I’d like, not sleeping at night). I can’t tell you how good it feels to come home from the hospital and lay down (and lay your baby down) on crisp, clean sheets. And because it’s hard to keep them that way (hello, spit up), I got an extra set. Still, I like white for those precious newborn photos (and the spit up doesn’t even show!)

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

Fresh flowers and natural light. The illusion, at least, of calm. (And isn’t it amazing what natural light can do for your mood? It’s so refreshing and uplifting to get outside!)

A stack of thank you cards. Because, fortunately, people have been incredibly kind and generous and because, unfortunately, if there aren’t cards nearby I’m apt to forget to thank them. (Even though I’m sure friends and family would give a new mother a pass.)

Soft blankets.

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

Baskets. Baskets, galore. I can’t stop bringing home woven jute baskets. They help me carry away messes in a hurry to look presentable and they’re by my side with water (I get so thirsty when nursing) and snacks (I’m obsessed with these dried fruits for my sweet tooth) and entertainment. I love that they have handles for moving one-handedly (the manner in which so many things get accomplished lately, it seems).

A foot stool or ottoman for balancing little people on my knees and helping me to sit back and stop slouching while feeding Skyler. I’ve literally placed some version of one near every chair I tend to camp out on. (Can’t get enough of the jute.) It’s also just right for lounging on our slightly narrow couch if given the chance to binge-watch The Americans.

Our swing. (This is new to me and has been such a relief. We seem to make motion-loving babies, only this time I’m not walking around New York City for hours and hours every day.) And a video monitor so that I can be in the backyard or Hudson’s room while she’s in said swing. Or—eeps!—in her own room. With a lovely, full-size crib.

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

A partner to share it all with. A daddy to love them, and to play “shark attack” over and over (and over) in the “tiny pool” with an incredibly energetic toddler while I sneak off to soothe a sleepy baby. Obviously in a category of his own.

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home

All of the items linked can be found at Target. Also pictured, from Target (their Threshold collection has been amazing lately): Ceramic White Vase /  Decorative Linen TrayRound Rope Mirror / Nate Berkus Scissors (in store) / Nate Berkus Pool towels (in store). On me: Micaela Tee (Anthropologie) and Zara Jeans (similar to broken-in style by JCrew).

family  Ten things that make motherhood sweeter at home This post is sponsored by Target. The adventure begins here: Discover all Target has to offer for your baby registry and throughout your motherhood journey.

All opinions expressed are my own.

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Ladybugs

COMMENTS: 12

home family  Ladybugs
home family  Ladybugs

Last year, around this time, we were just planning our garden: planting citrus trees and succulents, and making room for plots of Sungold tomatoes. We were also hoping to address an aphid problem. One way to do so, is to encourage beneficial insects—like ladybugs and lacewings—to take care of them, rather than use pesticides. Sounded good to us!

But even more appealing, to be honest, was the chance to play in the garden with Hudson—who was, at the time, just getting really excited about dirt and worms and rolly-pollies and the like. He would surely love to release ladybugs!

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Ikea Hack: Office Bookshelves

COMMENTS: 14

home  Ikea Hack: Office Bookshelves
home  Ikea Hack: Office Bookshelves

When we first moved into our home, I talked about my fondness for the Dieter Rams’ Universal Shelving, sold by Vitsœ. And we came quite close to calling the company to get started. You might recall that I said they made a great case for starting small with the “starts-cheap-but-gets-exorbitant-quickly modular system.” They really did. But I still couldn’t do it. The shelves and E-track were reasonable, but the drawers (which I really wanted) started in the $800-1000 range (each).

Lo-and-behold, Ikea came through again. Their STOLMEN closet system bore some striking resemblances. The only issue: the shelving system is designed as a closet system, so everything is centered along long axis poles that you fix to the ceiling or wall, to allow for hangers extending out on both sides. However, if you’re hoping to store books on the shelves, you want those shelves to back up flush to the wall to keep things from falling backward into a large gap. If all of your shelves are the same width, no problem. If you want to include deeper drawer units, here’s how you might avoid this…

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Shopping Sacramento: Scout Living

COMMENTS: 9

home  Shopping Sacramento: Scout Living
home  Shopping Sacramento: Scout Living

I’m still pretty fresh when it comes to unique , local shopping in Sacramento (and am open to suggestions!) despite having lived in Midtown for one year after college. But one spot I’ve returned to on multiple occasions now is Scout Living. (We found the Eames chair that some of you spotted in our dining room there!) It’s definitely my favorite shopping find so far.

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Small space living

COMMENTS: 6

home  Small space living
home  Small space living

We’ve just stepped off the red-eye from a week in New York City, and I must say that the task of unpacking our overstuffed luggage is feeling a little daunting at the moment—perhaps the reason the simplicity of this 580-square-foot cabin, the home of Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser (aka Pete Campbell), is piquing my interest right now. It may also have something to do with having just left Manhattan where we were reminded of our own time spent as a family of three in an apartment just under that size. (Although, on this visit, we stayed in a wonderful one-bedroom-apartment we found on the brilliant site Kid & Coe… more on that soon enough.)

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Try this: Wreath-making tutorials

COMMENTS: 7

home  Try this: Wreath making tutorials

I wish I could say I made this Bay Leaf wreath (shown smelling wonderful on our Thanksgiving table last year before it went on to adorn our door for far too many months), but I bought it.

Not once, but twice, this year I’ve purchased materials with the best of intentions to make a wreath: first a wire wreath form—with this succulent wreath in mind (we have the materials in our yard); and then a dried grapevine wreath with the impulsive thought that Hudson and I would hot-glue his stash of mini-white-pumpkins to it. I brought it home only to remember that… oh yeah… I don’t have a hot glue gun.

home  Try this: Wreath making tutorials

So while I’m sort of a DIY-fail, I really do have the best of intentions! And I’m assured that making your own wreath can be very simple. I’ve been collecting inspiration for those of you with more follow-through: if I were to make a wreath this year, here’s where I’d look first.

Oh Happy Day: 3 wreaths to make for the holidays
Design Sponge: Bits & Bits wreath (pictured twice) and Bittersweet & Rosehip wreath
Kinfolk: Holiday wreath & card holder
Martha Stewart: Corn Husk Wreath (she, of course, has many useful tutorials)

And for backup? A for-purchase Olive branch or Bay Leaf wreath would be lovely throughout the holidays.

Try it. Then let me know how it went so I can continue to be a vicarious DIY-er?

[All photos, except top (our last year's Thanksgiving table), from the listed sources.]

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Moving down the Chore List: Baskets

COMMENTS: 9

home  Moving down the Chore List: Baskets home  Moving down the Chore List: Baskets

Tackling the chore list is a moving target. I realize I do okay when it comes to daily maintenance, not so good when it comes to weekly deep cleaning. We’re lucky to have help twice a month in that department now, so you can understand if it tends to slip off my radar from time-to-time.

But I love the basket trick: At the end of the day, grab a basket and go through the house to pick up all of the misplaced items and then redistribute to rightful places. I’ve actually started using two baskets—one for Hudson’s things (the majority) and one for everything else. If he’s already asleep, I tend to leave his basket just inside his bedroom door.

Of course, all the better if the baskets are pretty! We tried to bring home as many baskets from Bali as we could, but they’re not so easy to pack. Here are twelve great options (row by row, left to right) you can order online:

home  Moving down the Chore List: Baskets Handwoven African Horizons Baskethome  Moving down the Chore List: Baskets  // Woven African Knitting Basket // West Elm Curved Basket // Land of Nod Charming Baskets // Serena & Lily Round Belly Baskets // Serena & Lily Senegalese Baskets  // Nate Berkus for Target Chevron Storage Basket  // Crate & Barrel Sedona Totes  // Ikea Magga Basket // Tanzanian Iringa Basket sethome  Moving down the Chore List: Baskets  // West Elm Graphic Printed Baskets // World Market Amelie Basket 

Also, be sure to check out the woven collection at Jjangde Goods (not pictured). About to launch, Jjangde connects local women entrepreneurs to the global marketplace (though you can find some items on Etsy). Profits from the goods go to fund schools and employ the women in the communities where the goods were made and are starting small with one community in Senegal in West Africa.

What tips would you share for conquering the chore list?

P.S. A link for a printable chore chart.

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21 Wallpapers for Kids’ rooms

COMMENTS: 15

home family  21 Wallpapers for Kids rooms

home family  21 Wallpapers for Kids rooms
Though wallpaper can be a daunting commitment, I love the way it can dramatically transform a child’s room. And ever since leaving behind Hudson’s mini-crib space (though we took some of the paper along with us), I’ve been wanting to paper an accent wall again.

Top:  Whitby in Lido; 2nd image, clockwise: Habitat / Dogs / Collette / Great Meadow Mural

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Our Dining Room (& our dining room table search)

COMMENTS: 24

uncategorized home  Our Dining Room (& our dining room table search)

I was talking to some friends about our progress moving in and how, a year later (almost to the day), we still feel like there’s a lot to finish. There’s a momentum to furnishing a place and ours has died. That’s okay—I like the idea of taking one’s time rather than rushing through the fun of decorating (to a degree) and there is the practical matter of cash flow to consider, but I do wish we could go back to that early-on momentum and borrow some of it to finish a few spaces.

Right now, the room we keep talking around in circles is our dining room. You see part of the room the minute you walk through the door (that’s the view, above), and I love it! Because we hardly ever sit in there, the most visible bits stay pretty clean—clear of the stuff you typically set down when you walk in the door (that tends to pile, instead, in our kitchen). So I’m pretty happy with this half of the room; all of the natural light makes it bright and inviting and I’m glad our couch from New York has a place to rest. Anyway, I keep hoping to share some after photos of the whole room, but since I don’t know when that will be… let’s move onto the “before.”

uncategorized home  Our Dining Room (& our dining room table search)

The other half is definitely a “Before.” Most of the time, it’s filled with boxes and backpacks and scooters and helmets and strollers and… a whole lot of junk. There are two empty pieces of furniture backed into the corner—because we’re not sure what to do with them. We know we want to install a light fixture that hangs over the table, but what should it look like? And then there’s the dining table. Aron made that leaf for our old one (which we found at a thrift store when we were first living in Los Angeles, ten years ago) and we usually only use it under a table cloth, but I’ve been keeping it in because (a) I don’t mind the two-tone so much and (b) we’ve learned that we like the look of a long table in here (this is roughly 100″).

Finally, the black storage isn’t really right anymore for the style of our new home; it was better suited for our apartment in New York.

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An 80-foot slide. In their house.

COMMENTS: 11

new york design  An 80 foot slide. In their house.
new york design  An 80 foot slide. In their house.

I can’t get over this: the David Hotson Architecture group designed an 80-foot slide inside a New York City penthouse, called Skyhouse, to take residents from the attic (where a hole is cut into a vertical glass partition) to the ground floor, four levels down.

The whole place is incredible—the views alone are enough to make your jaw drop, nevermind that there’s also a 50-foot climbing wall on a central beam that extends up from the living room and a stainless steel slide! The building itself dates to 1896, a beaux-art skyscraper with a dramatically pitched roof, but you’d never know it from the interior.

new york design  An 80 foot slide. In their house.
new york design  An 80 foot slide. In their house.

Can you imagine?! The designer notes that guests have the option of using yellow cashmere blankets to speed-up the ride down. I guess if it’s too much, you always have to the the option to get off on the third floor. Eek!

P.S. My favorite NY real estate storyModern architecture in Manhattan, and an underground house in the Swiss Alps.

[All photos via David Hotson, seen first on Handmade Charlotte]

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Memory lane: Our first apartment

COMMENTS: 5

home  Memory lane: Our first apartment

Aron and I took a little trip down memory lane on our last trip to Los Angeles…

This is the first apartment Aron and I shared—on Ogden in the Fairfax district.

I lived in that large, Spanish-style apartment, just up the block from CBS Studios, alone at first as a graduate student at USC. I was about six-months into the Comparative Literature PhD program when Aron came down from San Francisco and moved in. It was a giant one-bedroom with an amazing layout, but it seemed small at the time. (Funny, considering our five years in 500-square-feet.) Six months later, as he began medical school at UCLA, we moved around the corner to a two-bedroom on Genessee.

home  Memory lane: Our first apartment

I remember pushing our things (literally) around the block and being asked whether we were selling our records. We looked like a walking yard sale, we had so barely bothered to pack up.

home  Memory lane: Our first apartment
home  Memory lane: Our first apartment

I went back through our old photos and it’s amazing how few we have of it, especially considering we were there for four years.

It was here that we got engaged (nearly eight years ago)!

home  Memory lane: Our first apartment

Where was your first home away from home (other than the dorms)? What was it like? There’s a great book called My First New Yorkhome  Memory lane: Our first apartment where artists, actors, writers and the like recount their early days and first homes in the city. No matter where you are though, it’s something you’ll never forget.

P.S. Favorite shops in Los Angeles (and now this one, too) and my pick for pizza in the city.

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Dry blooms

COMMENTS: 8

home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms

Since the last rain, our succulents and cacti have been putting on quite a show. It came as a bit of a surprise. I had no idea that “hen and chicks,” for example, already so-flower like with their rosette of leaves produced such bright pink stalks of flowers.

home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms

Not to be left out, a carpet of sedum blooming in yellow.

home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms
home  Dry blooms

The cacti’s blooms are far more short lived. We get to see them primarily in Aron’s parents’ yard—they have an incredible collection.

home  Dry blooms

But even our very tiny purple cactus seems to be crying out “look at me!”

They’re making up for all of our unhappy (failing) houseplants.

P.S. We’re just back from Paris! Looking forward to sharing some favorite photos soon, as well as to wrapping up our Bali Travelogue.

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Would you iron your sheets? Do you?

COMMENTS: 16

uncategorized new york home  Would you iron your sheets? Do you?

Speaking of our New York apartment

Pop the champagne: we have finally closed the sale on it. Despite finding a buyer within the first two weeks of listing it last year, and then finding another the week after Hurricane Sandy hit, we endured months of obstacles to get to the point of finally saying “sold!” just over a couple of weeks ago.

Now that I’m sure I won’t jinx anything, I can look back and say aloud what a pain in the arse it is to hold an open house—especially when the entire house you’re selling is visible the moment you walk in the door. It was only two weeks, but during those two weeks the apartment was listed, we had someone coming to see it every day.

Let’s just say that I finally understand why anyone would iron their sheets.

uncategorized new york home  Would you iron your sheets? Do you?

I remember reading in shelter magazines, like Domino, that ironing one’s sheets was something one does—and being a bit shocked. And then, Martha Stewart dedicated a portion of an eponymous episode to showing off an amazing rotary ironuncategorized new york home  Would you iron your sheets? Do you? at which she liked to sit and press sheets during restless nights.

My first thought was ‘that sounds like hell.’ Sleeplessness and  ironing?! But for years I’ve wondered about the secret to a well-made bed—the kind that you’d find in a fancy hotel (and the kind that someone wants to see in a home they’re considering buying)—and I’m afraid pressed sheets, as unrealistic as they may be, might be the answer.

Sigh…

P.S. We cheated: I took our sheets to a launderer to have them pressed before the photographer came, and then slept without pillowcases, and went over the top edges of the sheets with an iron every morning while Hudson was strapped in his high chair. Did I mention it was a pain in the butt?

[Photos: The NoMad Hotel; The Wythe Hotel, via CN Traveler]

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Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

COMMENTS: 1

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

Remember the faux-door moulding we created in our New York apartment? We used used a combination of crown moulding and miter cuts to add a little architecture. (You can see the “after” behind Hudson in this photo, and the “before” here.)

R and R Designworks, on Etsy, has created an inexpensive DIY kit that seems like a terrific, alternative solution.

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

They’ll work with you on walls, too. I’d love to see someone with the proper style of home go all out and do something like this…

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

home  Faking it: Door and Wall Moulding

P.S. More photos of our NY apartment; and our current bedroom and kitchen.

[Photos from top: HitherandThither/RandRDesignWorks/West Elm/West Elm/Ewering/ArchiExpo]

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Life’s Measuring Stick

COMMENTS: 14

family design  Lifes Measuring Stick

family design  Lifes Measuring Stick

I knew as soon as we moved into our house that I wanted to track Hudson’s growth on a wall or door-frame. But I’m not 100% positive that this will be the home we live in all of the years he’s under our roof. I looked at a lot of options for wall-mounted growth charts, thought of making my own, and landed on Baum-Kuchen’s Life’s Journey Measuring Stick. We’ve tacked it up on the inside of his closet door, so that it hangs vertically, but you could even lay it out on the floor to measure each month or year and then fold it back up to safely store.

Yesterday, when I told Hudson “You’re 21 months old today!” he knew just what to do. I couldn’t believe it! He ran over to the door-frame, backed up against it, and waited for me to place a book on his head. He tried to steal my Sharpie (frightening thought), which made me think I must have let my hand slip. But no, in fact he grew roughly another inch last month!

family design  Lifes Measuring Stick

Slow down, kiddo!

[top photos via Baum-Kuchen; bottom from my iPhone]

 

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Where do you buy art online?

COMMENTS: 16

home design  Where do you buy art online?

I just saw on A Cup of Jo that 20×200 has closed its (virtual) doors. We’ve ordered a few prints from there recently—including the Sharon Montrose Flamingo pictured—and I had half-a-dozen more saved away in a mental pile of consideration. I’d found it to be a great source of affordable art (particularly photography) and had been checking back over the past few weeks hoping that the “we’re taking a break”-notice was not going to become a permanent break. So disappointing!

Some paintings we’ve found at the Alameda Flea recently are my most-treasured purchases thus far, but what are your favorite online sources of art? Who are you noticing on Etsy lately? I’ve pinned a few favorites to my photography and eye candy boards, but am generally slow to commit.

P.S. Funny enough, Joanna mentions Banquet as an alternative to 20×200. I just hung their cacti print this past week! You can see it on my Instagram—a rare non-Hudson photo.

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Case Study Pots and Snake plants

COMMENTS: 11

home  Case Study Pots and Snake plants

We just potted our Snake plant and I love how easy-to-grow and architectural it is. I just saw that West Elm’s blog, Front & Main, featured one the other day.

What are your favorite houseplants? Also, we just picked up these beautiful Case Study planters by Modernica from Room & Board. Does anybody have a good source for straight-sided black and white pots like these (or like these ones by Architectural Pottery)? We keep getting outbid on Ebay—it’s incredible how expensive they can be!

home  Case Study Pots and Snake plants

By the way, our Ikea Chair-hack was featured on iVillage!

Have a great weekend!

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