my week in objects (mostly).

7.31.2015

five little things that made my week:

1. this tiny kettle.
kettle
{just right for camping and everyday.}

2. these pom-poms.
poms
{because they were just what i was looking for.}

3. this tiny tote.
tote
{because i need another canvas tote like i need a you-know-what, but this one was smaller than usual and just right for a junebug.}

4. these photobooth photos.
photobooth
{because of all of the people in them.}

5. this tiny headlamp.
lamp
{for not being lost, afterall.}

other things:
pinhole cameras via kelly.
there's a packing list to admire.
digital nomads.
oh my gosh: #findthegirlsonthenegatives
107°!!!
ordering food in other languages.
indigo beach dreams.
soap nuts!
'maters (+ fried cheese).
test-kitchen approved camp gear.
illuminating endangered species.

PS. August's newsletter will be wending its way to you on Sunday. I think I've finally really found my groove with this one. Sign up HERE if you haven't already.

baby proof: teething.

7.30.2015

baby proof: teething | reading my tea leavesWar and Teeth.

Love in the Time of Teething.

A Tale of Two Teeth.

That a novel based solely on the tumult of teething hasn't made into our literary canon can only mean that the great writers didn't spend nearly enough time with teething humans. Surely even a novella would offer comfort to bleary eyed parents. Reading the dramatic arc of someone else's struggle to soothe a puffy gummed human would assuage doubts of one's own parental failings and offer reassurance that one's sweet baby did not indeed become irrevocably possessed in the middle of the night. Or, if there was no questioning that that did indeed happen, that the parent would at least not feel alone in the struggle.

Last night the waking hours began with a long mournful cry that surely woke the neighbors in the highrise across the street to say nothing of the neighbors directly below us. It wasn't the usual sort of cry, pitiful and whimpering. It was a howl. A head-thrown-back wail turned into a croaky yawp. Faye's tiny fists gripped the crib rails and her shock of sweaty hair was knotted into an unruly pompadour above her face, clearly beet red even without the light turned on to confirm.

That we're currently enduring a New York City heatwave wasn't helping matters. In the semi-darkness that's a city living room with only sheer curtains, I walked our girl to the freezer where I commenced to partake in the most necessary and least environmentally trick in the book. I opened the freezer drawer and literally stuck her inside, balancing her enormous cloth-diapered bottom on the fridge door.
baby proof: teething | reading my tea leaves
She clung to my neck and cracked a smile when she spotted the bag of frozen blueberries on the fridge door. She began to oooh in spite of herself. And so despite the hour, which was wee, we sat on the apartment floor together and ate frozen berries. I mama-birded tiny bites of frozen strawberries and wiped her back and my own neck with a cool cloth.

When Faye'd had enough of the berries, we returned to the freezer and wrestled a frozen blue fish teether from underneath the ice trays. The teether is a recent aquisition—along with fancy mayonnaise and sour cherry compote—gained from my sister Cait emptying her fridge before her move cross-country. It worked wonders last night though on other nights we've had similar luck with frozen cloths for sucking and chilled rubber spatulas. We've tried homeopathic tablets which seem to do more to make us feel proactive than anything else, but I'll take it. I haven't yet embraced my full hippie parentdom and gone for the amber necklace, but I haven't ruled it out either.


Mostly, I've found that taking a minute to go all in helps the most. On nights when a tooth is working its way up through those tender gums, I've found that embracing the fact that it won't be business as usual helps me about a million times more than trying to pretend otherwise. Frozen strawberries on the middle of the floor in the middle of the night? You betcha. As my Dad would say, "We do what we do."

And as far as the next great teething novel? Here's my vote for Zen and the Art of Teething in a Heatwave.

Just this week, Courtney posed the same question on Instagram, and there's some good advice there, but if you have teething tricks or tips up your sleeves, in the name of love and wisdom, let us know in the comments.

More posts about baby stuff, HERE.

growing a minimalist wardrobe: camp edition.

7.29.2015

growing a minimalist wardrobe: camp edition | reading my tea leavesCamp clothes aren't really a separate category in my personal wardrobe. Mostly because I don't spend the majority of my time at camp. When it's time to head to the woods, I pull a little bit from everywhere. An everyday t-shirt or two makes its way into the bag. A few things that might be otherwise described as activewear come along too. A few cozy essentials that might best fall under the category of loungewear. A super simple dress or two in case we decide to reenter civilization.

If ever there was a time to embrace the concept of a minimalist wardrobe, a week or so in the woods is probably it. Even when you're car camping, and have a little bit of extra room in the trunk, it's nice to have a super simple wardrobe that means your bag won't get too unruly after a week or two on the road. Since we'll have a rental car with us, we're packing two duffle bags that we can unzip easily and rifle through without too much mess-making.
growing a minimalist wardrobe: camp edition | reading my tea leaves
Mostly, I try to keep the things in my camp bag limited to what's comfortable, cozy, and convenient. Arguably good rules of thumb for everyday. For a week or two in the woods, especially, its nice to have clothes that pull their weight and do a little bit of extra work for you. I took advantage of Patagonia's summer sale to snag two hard-working tank tops that I've had my eye one. When you're only packing two tank tops, making them ones that come with built-in bras and moisture-wicking fabrics helps keep the number low. If they get stinky or sweaty, I can give them a quick wash with camp soap and hang them to dry over night. Likewise, I've decided to bring along just one pair of quick-drying shorts that I can wash in the evening and hang to dry overnight if need be. For cool Maine mornings and evenings, I've got leggings and warm pairs of woolly socks ready to go. My trustiest fleece sweaters made the cut, too. I've had both of them for years and years and they're honestly as good as new and as warm and versatile as ever.

We won't be going on any truly intense hikes during this trip, but we definitely plan to be out and about and generally getting a little dirty. The perfect excuse to rely on the old-school comfort of a new pair of sandals that can get wet, take for a hike up dusty trail without too much trouble, and that look dy-no-mite paired with socks. #camplife. My last pair of camp sandals finally bit the dust years ago, and James lost the sole on his last pair during a hike along the Oregon coast, so we both decided this trip merited replacement pairs. Don't worry: I got silver and he got black, so we're not exactly matching.
growing a minimalist wardrobe: camp edition | reading my tea leaves
For the curious, here's what's going into my bag (specifics where possible!):

+ 2 pairs of shorts (these + cutoffs).
+ 2 breathable tank tops w/ built-in bras (this + this).
+ 3 t-shirts (these).
+ 1 pair of leggings (similar).
+ 2 fleece sweaters (this + this plus a few years).
+ 1 button-up (this)
+ 1 pair of jeans (similar)
+ 2 simple dresses (this + this).
+ 15 pairs of underwear (of all (solids and) stripes).
+ 2 bras (this + one sports bra).
+ 2 pairs of camp socks (similar).
+ 1 pair of sandals (these).
+ 1 bandana (this).
+ 1 beanie (older than the hills).
+ 1 pair of jams (this + this).
+ 1 bathing suit.

Otherwise, winging it! What are your camping wardobe must-haves?

For more minimalist wardrobe posts, head HERE.

family camping trip: planning.

7.27.2015

planning a family camping trip | reading my tea leavesWe've finally settled on a destination. Maine. It's not a place we've never been, but it is a place that we like to return to, and besides, everything's new with a Junebug along for the ride.

We've got a rental car squared away. A campsite booked. Hidden swimming holes and scenic overlooks to find. And a few nights left unplanned just to keep things interesting. We figure that as long as we've got the gear in place, we can handle a few last-minute arrangements.

Viewed one way, camping is the ultimate in minimalist vacations. Just you, the woods, and a few small things for maintaining safety and sanity in the wild. A trip into the woods means living with only the essentials. Nothing too fancy and nothing superfluous. Just a thin piece of waterproof fabric between you and the star-filled sky. A tiny camp stove, a skillet, and a bit of ingenuity will get you dinner. A cooler can stand in for a fridge.

But the rub comes with the fact that most of the time we don't live in the woods. We live in an apartment. And though our needs are few, we have things like a refrigerator and a bed and stove to use on a daily basis. When you live out of the woods most of the time, a camping vacation can paradoxically feel like an exercise in needing more than usual, not less. Suddenly the very things that allow you to live with only the essentials for a week or two can make you feel like living with extras the rest of the time.
planning a family camping trip | reading my tea leaves
It can feel like maybe camping vacations are better for people with things like garages and sheds and ...closets. Places where a few boxes of supplies can take up a relatively small amount of space for much of the year and provide whole weeks of enjoyment once the weather warms and the itch for a change of scenery grows too powerful to ignore.

But the truth is that we've managed to keep a modest collection of camping supplies even in our tiniest apartment. A tiny tent, sleeping bags shoved into small spaces, and a small collection of essentials designed to be carried on our backs has meant that we haven't gotten too overwhelmed by camping gear and that we've been able to take a few pared down trips in the meantime. Still, we began to wonder if camping with a child would mean needing to be a bit more prepared.

The planning began in earnest last week with a spreadsheet. And three columns: Have, Buy, Borrow.

James sent me an invitation to edit the spreadsheet. Normally this is the kind of thing that makes my heart swell. Opposites attract, sure, but sometimes it's nice to have a husband cut from the same cloth.

But when I opened the spreadsheet, the columns that James created glared back at me. No: the rows. There were a lot of them. From plates and cups to coolers and tents and ground coverings. It looked like a lot of stuff. But at the same time that I felt like our packing list might have gotten a little out of hand, it was easy to think about camping with a baby and wonder if our tiny tent actually was too tiny. If our diminutive cooler was impractical, our backpacking camp stove inadequate.

It's easy to get carried away, and really easy to start feeling like nice to have is the same as necessary to have. Looking over the list, it looked like we were going to have swap our rental car for a minivan just to fit all of the stuff.

But we reassessed. We got our tiny cooler down from the top of the closet and decided we could probably swing it. We set up the tent we've used for two and decided it would work for three. We decided our decade-old sleeping bags are still hanging in there just fine. And what's a stroller muff if not a sleeping bag? We've gotten a few new things that will make the trip just a little more pleasant, but other things we've decided to just wing it without. Sure, it'd be awesome to have a rubber tub to bathe our bub, but it's also possible to shower her monkey-style in the campground bathroom. Larger cooler? Amazing. Trying to store it after we get back? Not so much.
planning a family camping trip | reading my tea leaves
Our trip will likely be a little scrappy. We'll make a few meals over the campfire, but we'll also be gentle with ourselves and rely on a few dinners out. Peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of bread will mean that no one will go hungry, regardless of available dining options. Anyway, this isn't a post about having all the answers. It's about not having all the answers but going for it anyway. I'll report back, fear not.

Here's to adventure.

For the curious:
A similar tent.
Our tiny stove.
Similar sleeping bags.
Similar air mattresses.
Our camping kettle.

my week in objects (mostly).

7.24.2015

five little things that made my week.

1. these mini sunglasses.
sunglasses
{because even though someone won't deign to wear them, i'm gonna keep at it.}

2. these popsicle sticks.
popsicle stick
{because i see something icy in my future.}

3. this stainless steel bowl.
bowl
{for being heroic at keeping salads and grapes and great big slices of watermelon cool in the fridge. too. hot. to. cook.}

4. this tiny toilet.
toilet
{because every throne needs a heart.}

5. this bag.
bag
{because my mom and dad are in town for a few days, so things around here are equal parts crazed and wonderful.}

other things:
one of my favorite blog series is back.
wines to drink with ice cream. don't mind if i do.
champagne in the wild. found via kelsey.
foxy.
the smartest way to take a vacation.
repotting made easy. spotted via shayna.
forever a toolbox devotee.
muffle your subgenual prefontal cortex. or, get outside.
tryin' it.
FOH.
hipcamp! discovered via joanna.
fuh-reezing.

PS. if you haven't already: don't forget to enter the storq giveaway. hugs for bums, boobs, and tootsies.

storq: an intimates giveaway.

7.22.2015

storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
From the makers of the some of the most versatile and practical maternity clothes out there, comes underwear. With the latest addition to their line, Storq helps expecting and brand-new mamas to feel a little bit more comfortable in their own skin with versatile and comfy-as-heck underthings.

Storq's new intimates collection includes a pair of socks, a bra, and undies in their signature super-soft black modal. Storq intimates are all made in the USA and include, "maternity and nursing unders and bras with no snaps, flaps or bows—just soft, curve-hugging coverage with all the comfort you want when expecting or nursing."

Available as a bundle or a la carte, they would make the perfect special treat for a mama-to-be, or a mama-already who just needs a little extra TLC. Fourteen months on the job, and I've still been relishing the soft, sexy, adaptability of this trio.

This week, Storq is offering RMTL readers the chance to win an Intimates Bundle, including bra, underwear, and socks.
storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
Here are the details:

BRA
The Storq Bra has soft cups that can accommodate "a bosom in flux" and that pull aside for easy nursing access. The soft, generously sized cups can also easily fit nursing pads and the bra has adjustable straps that make it easy to get a comfortable fit. Best of all, according to yours truly, the bra itself is sexy in its simplicity. It's not so precious that you wouldn't want to wear it during those early weeks of getting comfortable with nursing, but it's also not so utilitarian that you'll feel frumpy. And as a working mom who's still nursing a just-about fourteen month-old, but no longer pumping, I'm especially grateful for a bra with a cup that's flexible enough to get me through the work day. #ifyouknowwhatimean.

+ 95% modal 5% spandex
+ No underwire or things that poke
+ Pulls aside for nursing
+ Cups can comfortably accommodate nursing pads
+ Adjustable straps
+ Flexible cup size

storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
The underwear might be made for newbie moms, but I wouldn't blame you if you invested in a few pairs for any old time. The low-rise, tagless briefs with a thick self-fabric waist band is designed to hug your curves no matter the size of your belly. And a generous bottom means you'll be cozy and covered. If you ask me, they're like a hug for your bum.

+ 95% modal 5% spandex
+ Low cut brief
+ Full back coverage 
+ Self-fabric waistband 
+ Minimal seams

storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
SOCKS
Those Storq women know from socks. This pair is perfect. Comfy, not dowdy. Middle-of-the-night pacing has never been so cozy.

+ 64% micromodal 35% nylon 1% spandex
+ Ribbed crew socks
+ One Size
storq intimates | reading my tea leaves
For a chance to win an intimates bundle,  sign up for the Storq newsletter—an inbox addition you'll never regret—by submitting your email address in the giveaway form below. The giveaway will close on July 28 at midnight ET. One randomly selected winner will be notified by email. Open to US readers only.

This post was sponsored by Storq. Thanks so much for supporting the smart, independent brands helping to change the way we think about fashion. (Photos of me by James.)


life in a tiny apartment.

7.21.2015

life in a tiny apartment: summertime plants | reading my tea leaves
Tip #127: Indoor/Outdoor Houseplants.

I've got a fickle relationship with my houseplants. On one hand, I want a house that's filled up with green things. Life! Breath! Fresh air!  On the other hand, too many green things inside can start to make me feel hemmed in. If fact, while I often like photographs of plant-filled places, I know the reality is that I would feel claustraphobic with that much greenery.

Then there's the problem of plants growing. The nervy little buggers don't stay tiny. They get bigger. They need repotting. A branch gets too heavy and it needs rerooting. If you're like me, you might even find yourself married to a biologist who makes friends with the greenhouse keeper at the college where he works and suddenly you find yourself with a sill full of shoots and no where else to put them.

For awhile I handled my plant phobia by bringing in only temporary fixes. But a well-placed plant or two? A delicate fern? A drapey string-of-hearts? A scultpural snake plant? They can do the trick to liven up a place. Especially when given a little breathing room to make an impact.

In the summertime, I solve the plant encroachment problem by moving things around. No one ever said that a houseplant has to be housebound, so I embrace the idea of indoor/outdoor houseplants instead. Plants that can take the heat get moved out to the outdoor window ledge. Others find new homes on the estivating radiators. I've written before about thinking seasonally in a tiny apartment—advocating the idea of using a new season as an excuse to switch things up a bit—even if that only means moving a plant to a different perch.

In our place, the extra inches we've gained on our indoor sill by letting our jasmine plant soak up some outside rays has made the whole place feel brighter. And the plant itself has been able to get some much needed fresh air and sunshine. (We'll leave it out until the temperatures dip to encourage blooms in the winter!) Renewal all around.

Right now I've got a few little crystals on our sill, just one houseplant, and a much-needed fan. When I return the plants to their sills come cooler weather, I'll give them a good hose down in the kitchen sink first. And come winter, I'll be ready again for the extra dose of green.

For the curious:
The Sill is a favorite spot for plants that are already potted. Otherwise, check out your local nurseries for healthy looking plants. (I suspect that at least 75% of supposed-brown-thumb problems are related to starting with a less-than-healthy plant.)
+ The terracotta planters I used to pot my herbs are lovely indoors or out and they come already aged.
+ Connecticut's Ben Wolff pots are some of my very favorites. The pot on our radiator started out white but has turned into the most beautiful sandy brown over time.
+ If you're looking for a tiny planter, this white pot with built-in drip plate is simple and sweet for small plants.

Tiny apartment survival tips #1-126, RIGHT HERE.

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