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.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.