zero-waste halloween.

    October 17, 2017

    We recycled Faye’s red ladybug in March. Five months post-Halloween and she was ready, so we removed the sparkly ribbon, folded the cardboard shell in two, and popped it into our recycle bin. Over the summer, when murmurings of Halloween started up again, she announced that she wanted to be a ladybug again, only this time, a blue one.

    This weekend we went to an art supply shop and bought two colors of blue paint, Faye’s choosing. We used leftover black paint to make the spots. Yesterday I supplemented our weekend paint selections with some blue glitter paint to satisfy a yen for sparkle. Tomorrow we’ll string on some blue ribbon, and because at age three ladybugs become slightly more concerned with anatomical accuracy, we’ll pair the wings with black long johns, last-year’s black hat— snug, but serviceable—and call her finished. (Silas is going as an chartreuse-bodied bug with his own set of wings.)

    I’m a holiday enthusiast. And so despite the fact that Halloween isn’t exactly a healthful, zero-waste experience, on this one day a year, we go for it. Yes, there are a lot of individually wrapped candies, but a once yearly transgression doesn’t have to mean a year’s worth of guilt, especially because with a little forethought, Halloween can be a fairly low-impact affair. Less waste, if not zero.

    I wrote last year about bringing a bit of fall-ish magic into your home, zero-waste style. Here, a few ideas for sourcing Halloween costume elements, without needing to raid the costume shop or store a shop’s worth of costumes in your home:


    + We tend to start our costume search by rooting through the recycling bin. I especially like going this route because a costume made of recycled materials is a costume that’s easily….recyclable. Sure, Faye’s costume lingered for a few months post-holiday, but it was relatively unobtrusive while it was hanging on a hook in her room and very easy to part with when the time came. Recyclable materials to consider: Cardboard, egg cartons, packing peanuts, aluminum foil, bubble wrap, empty toilet paper rolls… the fun never ends. (Wink.)


    + Thrift stores are filled with costumes or costumes-to-be this time of year. My nephew was a bumble bee a few years ago, and he wore a thrifted bee costume, complete with antennae. When the holiday was over, back to the thrift store it went. If your kid has their heart set on a costume that’s somewhat less homespun than some cardboard ladybug wings, swing by a thrift store—or a friend’s closet—to see if there’s something there that could strike their fancy but that wouldn’t necessarily require buying anything brand new. Once the holiday is over, chat with them about passing it along to someone else.


    + I’m a big fan of costumes that are mostly….not costumes. Faye’s wearing a base of perfectly great pajamas as her ladybug body. She’ll wear them until she out grows them and then they’ll fit Silas, and on and on we’ll go. (If you’re on the hunt, City Threads, Hanna Andersson, Mabo, Petits Vilains, Rudy Jude, Arq, and Primary are a few favorite kids brands that make simple basics in solid colors that are great for costumes and for every single day.) In addition to a solid base, we use all sorts of things that we’d otherwise wear normally: winter hats, bonnets, scarves, tights, etc. Paired in the right combination, and seen with a little imagination, just about anything becomes a costume. For the very littlest trick-or-treaters, a costume that makes good use of a baby wrap (we have this one) is a thing to try. Silas might be too enthusiastic about the evening to be contained, but we’re hoping he’ll decide to be a snug little bug this year.

    What about you guys? Genius costume ideas?

    life in a tiny apartment.

    October 16, 2017

    sick day in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves#157 Give Yourself a Sick Day

    I spent much of my childhood engaged in long drawn-out games of make-believe. Some of these games featured bucolic scenarios of apple picking or making feasts of mud soup for a celebration, but for the most part I pretended to be in the grip of tragedy. The scenarios I acted out with my best friend, Allison, were particularly bleak. Someone or another was usually in the midst of perishing from consumption or scarlet fever. (One winter, when Allison was unfortunate enough to come down with scarlet fever for real, we were thrilled by the diagnosis.) In our games we readied imaginary medicines, stoked imaginary fires, and brought another blanket to pile atop the stricken friend, no matter if we were playing in the middle of August’s hottest days. There was much hand wringing over each other’s imagined imminent demise.

    We can unpack the psychology of a childhood spent play acting suffering at another time, but the memories of those imaginary sick days come to mind on the mercifully rare occasion when someone in our apartment is, indeed, ill. Mostly because there’s an awful lot of bustling around the place while the poor suffering soul is laid up smack in the middle of it.

    So, how to have a sick day in a tiny apartment? Here goes: 

    Get out: We get by mostly by having as many healthy people as possible leave the apartment for as long as possible. This is our strategy for surviving life in a tiny apartment generally, but when someone’s not feeling well, we try especially hard to make sure that those who can are spending long days out of the apartment.

    Distract: Getting sick with little guys underfoot is a challenge regardless of the space you live in, but not having a bedroom door to shut, or a way to create a little physical distance can complicate things even more. When we have to be inside, we try to center the healthy person activity in just one spot—like the kids’ bedroom, or the corner with our kitchen—to try to afford the person who’s under the weather the space to rest. When a parent is sick, we find the best way to give that person a little space is to distract the rest of the family with an activity that’s fairly all-consuming like a baking project, or fort construction, or, even, a bubble bath. Build an epic enough fort or draw a bubbly enough bath, and someone might even be able to sneak in a nap.

    Quarantine: Containing germs when your sick bed is feet from the kitchen table is paramount, but we find that practicing regular good hygiene, like washing hands frequently, washing bed linens often, and putting a trash bin next to the bed to catch extra tissues, helps us from infecting the whole apartment when one of gets sick.sick day in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves


    For the curious:

    + The only storage in our tiny apartment bathroom is a partially broken mirrored medicine cabinet from the 1960s. We use that for toothbrushes and toothpaste and a few other toiletries, but our medicines and bandaids, thermometer and nail scissors, we keep out of reach of the kiddos in a wall-mounted first-aid box. It’s been the perfect small and simple solution for our needs. Maybe for yours, too.

    + We try to use washable hankies for day-to-day nose blowing, but when we’re really under the weather, we indulge in disposable tissues to keep laundry and germs under control. For when we do have a box in the house, this linen tissue box cover solves the dilemma of the ever-ugly tissue boxes. 

    What about you guys? Sick day challenges in your spaces? (Can I interest you in some elderberry syrup?)

    Tiny apartment survival tips #1-156, RIGHT THIS WAY.

    my week in objects (mostly).

    October 13, 2017

    five little things that made my week. 

    1. this umbrella.

    {and a rare moment of weather-related preparedness.}

    2. these moody hydrangeas.
    {for being even prettier all crisped up.}

    3. this relocated diaper pail.
    {because moving it to the other side of the dresser made all the difference.}

    4. these play silks.
    {in the colors of fall.}

    5. this organza scrap.

    {for muffling the door slams.}

    other things:

    native land.

    inflatable luggage.

    revive the ancient dream of knowing everything…”

    worn in new york.

    museums + snacks.


    a reminder.

    you are rarely presented with even a single good option.

    the man in the hotel room is to blame.

  • make-believe: dreaming.

      We’re in that period of sleep post-baby where I’m starting to feel like I can’t even remember what it’s like to sleep through the night. Close your eyes in the evening and don’t open…

    October 11, 2017 17 Comments
  • zero-waste progress report.

    A few months ago, at a dinner out, Faye popped her head over the top of the restaurant booth and saw the party next to us drinking from cocktails with plastic straws.  “That’s not…

    October 10, 2017 34 Comments
  • my week in objects, mostly.

    five little things that made my week: 1. this apple cider in this mug.  {because for a day there it was cool enough to warm it up and have a snuggle.} 2. this tub…

    October 6, 2017 12 Comments
  • baby proof: baby proofing.

    We’re in it. That mildly mind-wrecking moment when the tiniest human among us is making daily work of investigating every nook and cranny in our apartment and identifying for us yet another potentially hazardous corner…

    October 4, 2017 32 Comments
  • habit shift: natural cleaners.

    I’ll begin by stating the obvious which is that I have neither a degree in chemistry, nor a desire to wax poetic about the joys of house cleaning. I have a house that often…

    October 2, 2017 33 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week. 1. this sweater.    {i’ve got some colorful plans for you, little bud.} 2. this book. {spotted on the sidewalk by a little friend who insisted upon rescuing it…

    September 29, 2017 22 Comments