make your own: epsom salt soak.

    February 22, 2018

    epsom salt soak | reading my tea leaves If you have Epsom salts and you have a tub filled with water, then you have yourself an Epsom salt soak. But the tricky thing is making sure you let yourself indulge. Draw the bath, pour in the salts, test the water with your toe and sink below the surface of the water. Feel the ripple up the back of your spine as you settle into it. Put away your phone and open a book instead. Get lost in it for a few minutes. epsom salt soak | reading my tea leaves

    Every winter I forget about Epsom salts, and every winter I’m reminded. Thank goodness. 

    This week I hauled this empty glass jar out from under our kitchen sink, filled it up with salts and returned it to its rightful spot next to the bathtub where I can reach for it without too much trouble in the middle of a perfectly ordinary weeknight. The idea that a bath full of magnesium sulfate could replenish and restore tired muscles and a fatigued mind feels hopeful, yes, but the fact that a huge bag of Epsom salt can be found at any regular old pharmacy for just a few dollars is even better. It’s a rare wellness treatment that feels utterly unattainable. Once you commit to getting yourself in the bath, you can start to get fancy. Add rose petals and a scoop of dried calendula to a cloth bag and let the bath water run over it. In other words, make a flower tea and steep in it.epsom salt soak | reading my tea leaves

    We’re heading toward the end of the February. This week we’ve had unseasonably warm weather to bask in but no doubt there are sleety storms still to come and weeks more to go before we can put our winter layers away for good. Let’s all commit to Epsom salt baths. If you have access to an herb shop or natural food store selling rose petals or calendula, consider buying a few tablespoonfuls to add to your bath.epsom salt soak | reading my tea leaves

    Epsom Salt Soak with Rose Petals and Calendula

    + Mix together equal parts Epsom salts, rose petals, and dried calendula. 

    + Put mixture into a simple cloth bag for steeping.

    + Run bath water over the bag and luxuriate in an herbal bath for winter-weary bones.

    baby proof: bundling, part ii.

    February 21, 2018

    I wrote about wintry bundling layers when Faye was 18 months old, but now that she’s nearing the three and three quarters mark and I’m in the middle of the second winter spent bundling up two little guys for adventures outside of our tiny apartment, I thought it might be helpful to share an update on bundling.

    It’s been decades since someone else wrestled me into winter layers, but my memories of getting bundled haven’t faded—the itchy layers, the general bunchiness, the elastics that were too tight, the elastics that were too loose, the tyranny of turtlenecks, the indignity of camisoles—I remember all of it. I especially remember feeling exhausted before I even made it out the door and dreading the process of peeling back the layers when I came back inside. Cut to dressing my own kids, and it’s no surprise I’ve been interested in making the process as painless as possible. Layering on hats and scarfs and woolly layers still requires a bit of stamina and we’ve endured a layer-related meltdown or two, but I have found a few items and a few strategies to be particularly helpful. In case anyone else is interested in simplifying getting bundled up with kids, here are a few things I’ve embraced along the way:

    What we have:

    Hat, Scarf, Mittens

    Our general rule is to keep just one hat, one scarf and one set of mittens for each kid. (Faye has an additional too-small-for-her red cap that she still sometimes likes to wear), but by and large the one for one ratio means it’s easy to keep track of everything and we don’t get bogged down in too much conversation or negotiation about getting bundled. I’ve opted for warm woolen accessories with strings that tie under chins and strings attached to mittens to keep them from disappearing. We keep everything in a cloth bag that hangs next to our apartment door and accessories get returned there as soon as we come back in from outside. At thirteen months, even Silas knows where to stick his scarf when we return home.

    Base Layers

    Because New York City apartments tend to err on the very warm side, we tend to focus on adding additional outer layers instead of too many base layers (see below!). Still, Faye has a really great pair of merino long underwear that fit snugly and comfortably underneath under her regular clothes. Coupled with snug camisoles that don’t bunch, they’ve been perfect base layers for staying cozy. 

    Woolen Overalls

    This winter we’ve embraced the utter joy of woolen overalls for layering over any manner of everyday clothes. (We have these for Silas and these for Faye.) In our experience, the overalls have been especially terrific at extending the life of cotton leggings or tights that might otherwise feel not quite warm enough for winter. With a pair for each kid, we didn’t have to reinvest in additional cool weather pants—they just wear the same thick overalls on top of the clothes they were wearing in the fall. The thick wool is excellent at repelling water and regulating body temperature and even if they do get a little damp, they still keep everyone warm. We chose dark colors to hide playground stains and we keep them in a wooden crate under our couch for easy access when heading out of the house. They’re hands-down the most practical and most-used kids clothing item we’ve invested in. If I sound like I’m making a hard sell, that’s because I am. These things are the best. (When Silas was an infant, we used this wool coverall that kept him cozy in the carrier. Just like the overalls, I could put that over whatever he was already wearing and rest easy knowing he was plenty warm enough. I only wish we’d had it when Faye was tiny, too.) 

    Warm Jackets

    Since Faye was first born, we’ve invested in just two down jackets. The kids have worn them roomy in their first winter and fitted in their second winter. (This winter Faye’s very much embraced a wool coat that we found on sale at Mabo last winter. I never intended it to be an everyday coat, but she loves it and so it is. Worn over her woolen overalls and thick wool sweater, it keeps her plenty warm and awfully cheery.)

    Waterproof Layer

    We have a hand-me-down pair of insulated winter snowpants that Faye has worn out in the snow a few times, but the wool overalls layered with a waterproof mud suit has stood out as our preferred combination. I love the practicality of a full-body coverall that can keep away water and mud and make it so we don’t spend time any time worrying about how much a winter coat or pair of leggings may be getting muddy beyond recognition. (As a family without a washer or dryer in our apartment building, it’s especially nice to have a barrier from the wet and dirt.) We have a suit from Splashy that was affordable and has served us well. It’s not insulated itself, which I rather like. That way we can zip it over a down jacket and woolen overalls in the winter and over fewer layers in the spring and it acts as a perfect protective layer. I like to think of it as a smock for the great outdoors. 


    Both of my kids are in hand-me-down boots for winter—Silas is in leather boots, Faye is in rubber rain boots and thick socks. We’ve muddled along just fine with both, which is to say that neither have been totally perfect in every single scenario, but chasing perfection isn’t really advisable. If you are looking for new rain boots, I love the classic Aigle boots that Misha and Puff has in stock. 

    Other things:

    Some folks are rightly concerned about PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals) in waterproofed clothing. They’re not great for people or the environment and so it’s wise to find options that don’t rely on them. (Greenpeace launched a related Detox the Outdoors campaign in 2015 to address the hazards PFCs pose and the role of outdoor gear companies in fixing them.) A few alternatives:

    + Splashy suits like the one we have used to be made with PVC (another material I try to avoid), but they’re now made water-resistant with the use of Polyurethane-treated nylon. 

    + L.L. Bean snowbibs like the hand-me-down pair that we have are made of a coating-free polyester.

    + Polarn O. Pryet one-piece shells are all PFC-free.

    + Faire Child is a Canadian children’s brand making beautifully designed waterproof outerwear from a PFC- free material called Sympatex. Their coverall looks terrific.

    What about you guys? Any winter bundling tricks we should know about before spring?


    February 19, 2018

    A reminder to get yourself someplace warm in February, even if it’s just a greenhouse.

    What’s your favorite warm-up spot? Despite a lifetime spent mostly in the Northeast and mostly having a tough time in February and March, I’ve never been good at planning a wintry escape. What are your favorite sunshine-y places in wintertime?

    PS. I curated today’s Daily Good newsletter, if you’d like to check it out!

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