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.
The Thanksgiving Table
Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing.
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.
It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts. There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.
I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.
I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.