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.
Healthy Comfort Food
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)