For the past few months we’ve been talking a lot about how we spend our time at home and how important it is to be more deliberate and creative about it. How quality time feels like something we have to really chase down or plan for in ways that we didn’t before Oliver. I remember a few years ago — a year ago, even — writing about our leisurely weekend mornings, crawling back into bed at 11 am for a second cup of coffee and the newspaper, just appreciating the light move across the room while discussing our day. Those days now seem further away than they are, and can seem as though they’re permanently behind us. Which is fine (and also not fine). But the thing I’ve been noticing, and which doesn’t feel as fine, is how much of my down time at home, especially at night, is spent “decompressing” on my phone. Eventually we started thinking about how to make the bedroom more of a quiet, spacious, tech-free place that we each want to spend time in, and finally we set about doing just that. To try to get back to breakfast in bed every now and then, to talk about our day instead of staring at our phones. We made some big changes in the bedroom (and made breakfast in bed) and I’m excited to show you around. (If Oliver will allow.)
When we bought our house a year and a half ago, we didn’t give much thought to the bedroom. There were other rooms that needed a little help and although I wanted to paint the walls a lighter color, it never felt like a priority. The ceiling fixture was a very basic situation — the same one I think I had in most apartments throughout my twenties — and we had a very small rug from our old house that we laid at the foot of the bed. It all… worked (if only just). But as we began talking about ways to make our bedroom more of a place we actually wanted to spend time in, we had some concrete ideas and reached out to my favorite home lighting and furniture store, Rejuvenation, for some help.
First up: dealing with the phones (and clutter) on the nightstands. I’d convinced myself for some time that my phone needed to charge and rest on my nightstand because it was my alarm clock, but let’s be real: Oliver is my alarm clock and looking at my phone right before bed and first thing in the morning was causing a lot of stress and anxiety.
Some of you may have seen Andrew Sullivan’s recent piece on social media and our obsession with being plugged-in and engaged with our devices at all times. He calls it the “epidemic of distraction.” While his experience of this is certainly severe, I recognized much of what he described in myself — in the sense that I pride myself in being a multi-tasking machine, while that tasking is typically at the expense of feeling present in the same room with Sam or having the space I need in my mind to dream up new projects. Sullivan notes, “Every hour I spent online was not spent in the physical world. Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual interaction I was not involved in a human encounter” and I think this really captures the gist of it. While we’re often physically together in the bedroom, if one of us is on our phones, we’re not fully there with the other. And when time together is so precious these days, it’s just a waste not to be all in.
So the phone (usually) charges in the bathroom now and I have the handsome Toledo Alarm Clock in its place for those moments when I want to quickly check the time. It’s taken some adjusting and I still find myself reaching for the phone out of boredom or if I’m having trouble sleeping, but ever-so slowly I’m picking up my book or, frankly, going to bed earlier. Both good things. We decided to continue de-cluttering the nightstands by installing a pair of Cypress Articulating Sconce Plug-Ins (you can put these up yourself!) in place of our clunky Ikea table lamps that were there previously. Without all the cords and the bulky lamps, there’s so much space for little things that make me happy to look at: fresh flowers and a tiny jewelry box. And more books.
Next up: our ugly ceiling fixture. Tudor houses are rightfully known for having small rooms and our bedroom is no exception; I really wanted to install a bit of a statement piece, but we ultimately needed to find something that didn’t have too large of a footprint so as not to overwhelm the space. And we found just the thing! Hello, Cedar and Moss Conifer fixture: I love your little pop of shine and airy linen shade.
Last, we really wanted to address the cozy factor, or lack thereof. The small rug at the foot of the bed was replaced with the super soft Citra Hand Knotted Rug, which now spans a large portion of the room. I love its subtle color palette and so far it hasn’t been shedding like crazy (big bonus). For a little color, this Italian velvet pillow in one of my favorite mustard colors is a new addition to our spare bedding. Oliver’s a big fan of dragging his books in and sitting on the soft carpet to read (translation: flip madly, throw frequently) and loves squishing his face deep into that soft velvet pillow. Suffice it to say, we’ve been all in on this change.
Now that we finished the room, it seemed only fitting to celebrate with breakfast in bed. To pull it off with busy schedules and a baby in the house, I made the waffles the night before and froze them (yes, you do indeed hear Sam wondering if we’ll ever have fresh waffles again). And Sam set up the coffee so it was all ready to go. Then the next morning when Oliver was down for his first nap it went something like: QUICK warm the waffles and whip up some yogurt and honey. It’s go time!
So maybe the ship hasn’t completely sailed on these kinds of mornings. Uninterrupted quality time is something that used to happen to us – a passive occurrence. Now, it can happen… it’s just gonna take a little work. We’re tasked not only with finding quality time but with creating it, too. A big undertaking and certainly a work in progress, as it always is. I’d love to hear if any of you have had success getting rid of technology from the bedroom and making it a cozier space, and what’s worked for you. As for recipes to kick start your own breakfast in bed, I made my Everyday Whole Wheat Waffles (and actually subbed in buttermilk instead of the whole milk – they were fantastic). I added a little honey to a bowl of plain yogurt and sprinkled fresh pomegranate seeds on top. Coffee with lots of cream and fresh orange juice and we were set.
And as for something nice to jump start a refreshed bedroom, Rejuvenation has been kind enough to offer one reader of A Sweet Spoonful a chance to win $250 to spend in their store or online. Check out how to enter below:
All photos in this post were taken by our friend Gabe Rodriguez of Gabriel Boone Photography. We were a little worried that it could feel a bit awkward crawling into bed and inviting Gabe over, but he’s such a pro, and we were lucky to have him step in and make our bedroom look so lovely.
It turns out that returning from a sunny honeymoon to a rather rainy, dark stretch of Seattle fall hasn't been the easiest transition. Sam and I have been struggling a little to find our groove with work projects and even simple routines like cooking meals for one another and getting out of the easy daily ruts that can happen to us all. When we were traveling, we made some new vows to each other -- ways we can keep the fall and winter from feeling a bit gloomy, as tends to happen at a certain point living in the Pacific Northwest (for me, at least): from weekly wine tastings at our neighborhood wine shop to going on more lake walks. And I suppose that's one of the most energizing and invigorating parts about travel, isn't it? The opposite of the daily rut: the constant newness and discovery around every corner. One of my favorite small moments in Italy took place at a cafe in Naples when I accidentally ordered the wrong pastry and, instead, was brought this funny looking cousin of a croissant. We had a wonderfully sunny little table with strong cappuccino, and, disappointed by my lack of ordering prowess, I tried the ugly pastry only to discover my new favorite treat of all time (and the only one I can't pronounce): the sfogliatelle. I couldn't stop talking about this pastry, its thick flaky layers wrapped around a light, citrus-flecked sweet ricotta filling. It was like nothing I'd ever tried -- the perfect marriage of interesting textures and flavors. I became a woman obsessed. I began to see them displayed on every street corner; I researched their origin back at the hotel room, and started to look up recipes for how to recreate them at home. And the reason for the fascination was obviously that they were delicious. But even more: I'm so immersed in the food writing world that I rarely get a chance to discover a dish or a restaurant on my own without hearing tell of it first. And while a long way away from that Italian cafe, I had a similar feeling this week as I scanned the pages of Alice Medrich's new book, Flavor Flours, and baked up a loaf of her beautiful fall pumpkin loaf: Discovery, newness, delight!
I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.
This time last week I was up in the Skagit River Valley sitting in the early fall sun eating wood-fired bagels and chatting with farmers, millers and bakers at the Kneading Conference West. I made homemade soba noodles, learned the ins and outs of sourdough starters, and sat in on a session where we tasted crackers baked with single varietal wheats. It was like wine tasting, but with wheat and the whole time I kept pinching myself, thinking: THESE ARE MY PEOPLE! I don't get the opportunity to be a student much these days -- usually on the other side of things teaching cooking classes or educating people at the farmers markets about whole grains and natural sugars. So to just sit and listen with a fresh (red!) notebook and a new pen was surprisingly refreshing. I miss it already. Thankfully, this cookie recipe has come back as a memorable souvenir, and one that is sure to be in high rotation in our house in the coming months.
Strolling New York City streets during the height of fall when all the leaves are changing and golden light glints off the brownstone windows. This is what I envisioned when I bought tickets to attend my cousin's September wedding earlier this month: Sam and I would extend the trip for a good day or two so we could experience a little bit of fall in the city. We'd finally eat at Prune and have scones and coffee at Buvette, as we always do. Sam wanted to take me to Russ and Daughters, and we'd try to sneak in a new bakery or ice cream shop for good measure. Well, as some of you likely know, my thinking on the weather was premature. New York City fall had yet to descend and, instead, we ambled around the city in a mix of humidity and rain. When we returned home I found myself excited about the crisp evening air, and the fact that the tree across the street had turned a rusty shade of amber. It was time to do a little baking.
I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam's not feeling great and my energy's a little low so it hasn't been quite what we'd envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I've done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment -- it just hasn't come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it's now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it's been one of those weekends -- the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there's nothing I'd rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we've been having lately.