my week in objects (mostly).

    February 24, 2017

    five little things that made my week.

    1. this postcard.postcard_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_7242

    {one postcard for a senator, one postcard for a friend. i was one of the friends!}

    2. this jumpsuit.buttons_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_7246

    {one word: buttons. never taking it off.}

    3. these longies.wool_pants_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_7254

    {couldn’t resist keeping a little pair around. silas has worn them all week long.}

    4. this box.cookies_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_7236

    {sometimes you just hafta.}

    5. this curtain.curtain_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_7256

    {for not flying off the rod every time a toddler tries to run away with it.}

    other things:

    more buttons. (it’s a theme.)

    searching for unicorns.

    anne of green gables would approve, yes?

    protest dolly! (and so many other sweet things being auctioned off to support civil liberties!)

    historical roots.

    love needs to win.

    save americorps.

    cloth diapering with diaperkind.

    February 22, 2017

    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    This post is sponsored by Diaperkind, an online shop and cloth diaper service for New York City.

    My name is Erin, and I’m a cloth diaper enthusiast. Promise, I’m not a weirdo. I’m not going to wax poetic about the beauty of the diaper change, but opting to use cloth diapers has been one of the easiest ways our family has found to cut down on the waste that we produce. And, well, that’s been kind of beautiful.
    We used Diaperkind, a New York City diaper service, for all of our diapering needs with Faye, and we recently started our service up again when Silas was born. 
    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    Yes, it’s very sweet to wrap a bit of organic cotton around a tiny bum, but the very best part about cloth diapering is knowing that the enormous bag of diapers we dirty each week is headed to a washing machine and not a trash can. The truth is, even disposable diapers marketed as green alternatives use sodium polyacrylate gel, a petroleum product that doesn’t break down in landfills. Cloth diapers are gentle on baby bottoms and gentle on the environment. They’re hands down the most eco-friendly option out there (and if you’re able to launder them yourself, they’re the cheapest option, too). Since we don’t have a washer or dryer in our apartment (or building), we rely on Diaperkind’s Weekly Cloth Diaper Service.
    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    Diaper Service 
    As service subscribers, managing cloth diapers is as easy as getting our diapers into the diaper pail after changes, getting the diaper pail out the door on pickup night, and keeping a rotation of diaper covers washed, dried, and at the ready. Using Diaperkind’s Weekly Prefold Diapers Service means that each week we put our pail of dirties outside our apartment door and someone from the service swings by to pick them up and deliver a bag of freshly cleaned ones. 
    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    Even for a family like ours, with two working parents, we’ve found using cloth diapers to be super simple. It’s a many-times-a-day habit that we (and the other caregivers in our life) got used to quickly. Still, like many things related to parenting, cloth diapers exist in a bafflingly tricky-to-talk-about space. For folks who use them, the choice seems relatively mundane—like deciding to use a swaddle, or breastfeed—but I’ve found that for folks who don’t use them, misconceptions abound. I’m here to tell you, cloth diapers are just diapers that get washed instead of thrown away. Cross my heart, they’re not scary and we’re not super humans for using them. 
    Pictured above: The Diaperkind prefold diaper (Diaperkind Weekly Prefold Diapers ServicePre-fold Diapers for Home Launderers). 
    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    I love the analogy that Diaperkind co-founder, Liz, uses to explain the cloth diaper work load: “We often tell people to imagine it like washing dishes: Sure, sometimes they are really gnarly after they’ve been sitting in the sink overnight, but no one would ever really consider replacing all of their dinnerware with paper plates! Why? Because it’s just not that big of a deal to wash them and the experience of using something non-disposable is far better.”
    Pictured above: The Diaperkind fitted diaper (Fitted Diapers ServiceFitted Diapers for Home Launderers).diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    Diapers and Covers
    Diaperkind offers two models of cloth diapers for their service customers and in their online shop. There’s the classic prefold diapers that we use (available in either conventional or organic cotton options), and a new fitted diaper with a contoured shape that doesn’t require folding. (We took the fitted diapers and cloth wipes for a test drive recently, and they’re both terrific.) Both diapers get secured with diaper clips and both get used in conjunction with a waterproof cover of your choice to ensure everything stays dry (and contained).
    Pictured above: Flip Diaper Cover.diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    There are tons of different cover options in the Diaperkind shop. They run the gamut from 100% wool covers to waterproof covers with snaps and waterproof covers with velcro. Many of the covers are adjustable and made to expand along with the growth of the baby so that you don’t need to buy new covers each time you size up with diapers.
    For pattern-phobes like me, there are plain, neutral-colored covers and for folks who want something a bit more playful, there’s no shortage of cheery designs.
    diaperkind cloth diaper service | reading my tea leaves
    Creams and Cloths
    I get a lot of questions about non-toxic diaper creams and I find Diaperkind’s philosophy on this to be incredibly refreshing. Like me, they recommend a coconut oil-based cream and sell one that they call Organic Coco Balm. In case of diaper rash (something I admit we’ve had to deal with only when we’ve occasionally used disposable diapers while traveling), they sell a basic zinc-oxide-based Rash Relief Cream in their shop. 
    For folks using cloth wipes (or for cleaning up any particularly impressive poops) Diaperkind recommends their Castile soap cleaner—Sudsy Bottoms Foaming Solution—for easy cleanups. Diaperkind service customers can subscribe to the Diaperkind Weekly Cotton Wipes Service and home launderers can buy a pack of 12 Cotton Wipes for washing at home. 
    Extra Help, Etc.
    If cloth diapering is still seeming daunting, Diaperkind offers a monthly hands-on Cloth Diapering 101 class in their Brooklyn space. For folks who aren’t local, Diaperkind isn’t only a diaper service for families living in New York City, they also offer private consultations to help families around the country get set up for home laundering. And they stock Pre-fold Diapers, Fitted Diapers, and Cotton Wipes in their online shop for home launderers looking to get started. For anyone with gifts on the brain, Diaperkind sells Gift Certificates that can be applied to their shop or weekly service fees.
    Pictured above: Silas hanging out on a Kaiser Natural Lambskin from Diaperkind.
    If you’re interested in giving cloth diapers a shot, mention “Reading My Tea Leaves” at checkout to receive either 50% off your Diaperkind diaper service registration fee, or 15% credit back on your first retail order of $100 or more. Details here
    PS. If you have any other questions about my experience with cloth diapers, shoot! We’re in the thick of middle-of-the-night changes right now, so I’ve got diapers very much on the brain.
    This post is sponsored by Diaperkind, an online shop and cloth diaper service for New York City. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.

    life in a tiny apartment.

    February 20, 2017

    life in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves Tip #148: Illusions of sparsity.

    I have a theory that each of us, depending on our tastes, or habits, or customs, is comfiest with a particular ratio of stuff to space in the place we call home. Whether we live in 250 square feet or 2,500 square feet, I’d hazard the guess that we’d want that home to be more or less the same percent full. The theory goes that someone who likes a spare kitchen table top is going to like it as well in a spacious home as a tiny one. Someone who finds a certain kind of ecstasy in opening a closet and being able to move the hangers freely on the rod, is going to want to experience rapture whether the closet in question is tucked into a tiny space under the stairs or exists as a room of its own.  

    Everyone’s ideal ratio will be different and life in an imperfect world means that most folks won’t enjoy their perfect ratio all of the time. My point here isn’t about prescribing which percentage full is the right percentage full and then feeling miserable about our failures (though masochists, feel free), it’s about identifying what that percentage might be for me (or you), and trying to maintain it as best as possible. 

    The maintenance bit can be hard, especially for folks who cherish relative sparsity but who find themselves in a relatively small space. For one thing, ten books on a small shelf takes up a greater percentage of that space than ten books on a massive shelf and sometimes you have ten books to love, size of shelf notwithstanding. And then, of course, families grow and apartments do not. Apartments and houses and the places that most of us call home typically exist with firm, physical boundaries. No matter how much we might try to cram objects (or people) into our homes, it’s not bursting seams we come up against, but solid, immoveable walls. The ceilings only go up so high and the walls extend only so far. 

    I write about the concept of gatekeeping quite a bit in my book, so I’ll try not to rehash that all here, but welcoming a fourth human into our home has gotten me thinking about how to honor my own limits for filling up a space while making sure we have what we need for a growing family. An infant is a tiny human with mostly tiny needs. For the moment, we haven’t really had an onslaught of anything but dirty laundry. (And we wouldn’t want to throw the literal or figurative baby out with the bath water.) Still, honoring my ideal percent-full requires a certain amount of vigilance and a certain amount of creativity. 

    Rather than only abandoning boxes of belongings or children curbside, as we navigate this latest transition, the most helpful practice has been revisiting what we keep where. There are places in our apartment where I prefer a far smaller ratio of stuff to space and others that I don’t mind having more filled. Over the past month I’ve done some shifting around, filling up some small corners of the apartment, while choosing to maintain the sparsity that I find calming in other, more visible or frequently used places. I can live with a kitchen table that has a pair of candlesticks on it, and maybe a small vase of flowers, but add much else and I start to feel crowded. Give me a lamp and a book on my bedside table and I’ve hit my percent-full limit. But where there’s a door to close, on spaces like closets and cabinets, I can squeeze in more without feeling squeezed myself. I don’t mind so terribly, for instance, when a linen closet shelf gets filled to the brim with cloth diapers, but I do mind when a dresser drawer becomes impossible to open. Cramming baby bottles onto a shelf already full of cups makes the space feel chaotic, but rearranging the contents of the cabinet to make a dedicated space for bottles, and I can breathe easier, even if that cabinet is more full than I’d otherwise hope.  And if moving another wine crate under the bench means maintaining a neat entryway and gaining easy access to the diaper bag, and swaddles, and baby wraps at the same time, well then I’ll take it. Everything’s temporary, anyway.

  • snuggly_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6905

    my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week.1. this book.{for keeping my attention.}2. this chalk.{for offering beauty even in broken bits.}3. this napkin.{borrowed from a friend when i forgot a burp cloth. thank goodness for…

    February 17, 2017 56 Comments
  • news_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6882

    habit shift: pay for real news.

    Growing up, endeavoring to start a neighborhood newspaper was a fairly common pastime for me and my sisters. Struck by an urgent need to report on bunny rabbit sightings or baby squirrel nests, we’d…

    February 14, 2017 68 Comments
  • soup_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6858

    my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week. 1. this honey jar.{filled up with soup.}2. these coloring pages.{because people are creative and good.} 3. these swatches.{for helping me narrow choices. none of the above ended up being…

    February 10, 2017 13 Comments
  • self_care_two_ways_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6838

    self-care, two ways.

    It’s February in the year 2017 and if ever there was a time for acknowledging that we need to be gentle with ourselves, it seems this is it. Self-care is having a moment, you…

    February 6, 2017 21 Comments
  • print_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6819

    my week in objects (mostly).

    five little things that made my week.1. these peaceful bums.{all framed up and on display.}2. this tiny table.{and chairs. for offering a place to play.}3. this little bud. {for opening.}4. this bandana.{for being so good at…

    February 3, 2017 15 Comments
  • flowers_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_6775

    my week in objects, mostly.

    five little things that made my week.1. flowers.{delivered to my door. not once, but twice. an embarrassment of riches.}2. blocks.{and the papa in our house playing with them.}3. old things in new places.{apartment rearranging…

    January 27, 2017 38 Comments