Weekend Shenanigans

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It was a slow, rainy weekend. I knew going in there would be little in the way of excitement or plans. A little Thanksgiving prep (grocery shopping and cleaning and planning), a lot of laundry and fort-building. It was quiet time, which everyone needed. But I’m always surprised by how lethargic this type of time makes me feel. I suppose it has to do with social interaction. Being in the house and not interacting with many people makes me feel completely drained — I suppose I am more on the extroverted side after all! It’s a huge change from this summer, where we would find ourselves surrounded with neighbors and friends at the playground even when we didn’t plan official social engagements. I would always walk back with Andrew feeling like my energy had been renewed (and my mood).

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That’s not to say that spending time with just my immediate family is not completely and totally gratifying — it is!!! But after a few days of indoor time, I crave a different kind of banter. I think I’ve always been that way, becoming crabby as a child if kept indoors too long. I’m still not sure if it has more to do with fresh air or fresh people. It fascinates me, this introvert-extrovert thing, and I tend to believe the “continuum” theory of it, that we fall somewhere in the middle on a scale from extrovert ——— to ——— introvert. Anyway, Emil and I got out of the house on Saturday morning for a little Mama-Emil time at the Science Center (his choice), then I took Oliver out for hot chocolate on Sunday morning. Both were really gratifying experiences, as I rarely have the opportunity to give one child my full attention. They are each so different in such wonderful ways, all three of them! I really enjoy learning what is going on inside their heads.

DSC_0007DSC_0012DSC_0027DSC_0028IMG_0640DSC_0063Really looking forward to the holiday season now! Hope you enjoyed your weekend and are getting those fat pants ready for some pie!

Happy Friday!

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Hoping to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend before the holidays hit us full force! Milo was pretty sick on Wednesday afternoon and night, so he stayed home from school on Thursday and I really enjoyed his company. Nicest, most pleasant sick person ever. Hands-down.

Here are some links from around the web…

Speaking of sickies, how cute is this whale tissue holder?

Are you a gloves or mittens person? I’m into gloves — I need my fingers separate please! But these make me wish I were a mitten gal.

And while we’re on the topic of knits, how cute is this little sweater?

And knitting… if I could, I would make this pronto for our living room.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner… do you have a menu planned? If you need inspiration, be sure to check out BonAppetit‘s Thanksgiving site — amazing!

What’s really in that pumpkin spice latte… gross.

These shoes are on my wish list for Christmas. Oh, I love them so!

And the best for last: I keep coming back to read Jess’s hilarious account of what she overhears her three oldest boys talking about (and she has four boys now!). Read it for a good laugh!

Montessori-Inspired

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Flower arranging!

Sometimes my boys come home from school and immediately want to recreate a lesson they have had in school that day. Recently, Oliver came home itching to show me flower arranging. It was one of the last warm days before we had freezing nighttime temperatures, so we went out to the potted flowers leftover from the summer and cut all of them to bring inside (since they would be frozen and dead over the course of the next few nights anyway). He clipped the flowers himself, choosing different colors, lengths, and textures.

After he brought them indoors, he instructed me through the whole process. I was unable to get photos of that day because it was dark so early. But then he told me he wanted to do it again, so I picked up some flowers at the grocery and we went through the process again while it was still light out.

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I wondered what it was about flower arranging that made it lesson-worthy in Montessori, so I looked it up. And come to find out, there are so many things it teaches! First off, there’s cutting and measuring, estimating and pouring. Aside from all that, there’s the appreciation for beauty in one’s environment. I don’t think it’s ever too early to teach something like that — that caring for our spaces and paying attention to details makes us as humans feel relaxed and joyful. A little vase of flowers on the kids’ play table brings such cheer on a cold and gloomy day!

DSC_0035DSC_0036 There will be spills! There are always spills. “Well, that’s what the towel is for!” he told me, and cleaned it all up himself.

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Oliver showed me the process: measuring the stems against the vase to see where to cut, then cutting above the bowl, then placing each stem into the vase. Afterwards, cleaning up, and finally the best part: choosing a location for the flower arrangement!

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Measuring the stem

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 So focused!

DSC_0073I loved this lesson, and I know Oliver did too based on how many times he has repeated it at home. I am really loving the Montessori method in general so far. There is a precision that I can really appreciate, but it is forgiving and understanding of every stage of development. I am learning so much along with my children. Such an inspiring process!

Dress That Mama

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Staying cozy and warm in layers lately — a henley layered under a denim shirt under a chunky knit vest, and my little guilty pleasure, the warmest, softest cashmere socks inside those boots! I got them on sale (I cannot justify spending more than $10 for socks) from Need Supply last spring, which is clearly when I needed them least. But man was I glad I had them once it got really cold around here. NOTHING else is keeping my feet warm enough. Plus, what’s better than warm soft things on your feet? Not much, I think.

Fricassee of Chanterelles (with Shitake Mushrooms…)

DSC_0078I just wanted to share this recipe for Fricassee of Chanterelles (a cream and white wine sauce with onions, garlic, and mushrooms over pappardelle noodles) from Bon Appetit Magazine. I couldn’t find chanterelles, so I used shitake mushrooms instead and it still turned out amazing. I used a bit less butter in the preparation, but everything else was followed spot on. Delicious!

What are you eating lately? For us, it’s lots of French food!

Weekend Shenanigans

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What a surprise we had with the snow this weekend! I was hoping to hang around the house with the boys this weekend, so when I heard we would have snow, I hunkered down and prepared for everything a cozy, laid back weekend contains: the first fire of the season, homemade spaghetti sauce, baking, and plenty of tea and coffee. I always get so excited for fireplace season — I just wasn’t expecting it this early! It doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving is still on the horizon, frankly, it feels like Christmas.

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On Saturday morning, all three boys and I bundled up and raked leaves our leaves into the street in anticipation of the snow. I was so impressed by their hard work. Oliver, when he sets his mind to it, is the hardest worker! He was out there for hours, hell bent on getting every single last leaf into the street. Emil too! Milo was our apple collector — his job was to pick up all the frozen fallen apples which we kept stepping onto and rolling around nearly falling, like a bunch of giant green marbles were underfoot.

We finished the job just in time; the first flakes started falling, but soon stopped, waiting for Sunday to really let loose. Still, it was cozy, so we enjoyed the fire.

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Late Sunday afternoon we had all the fun, just in time for Andrew to join us in a snowball fight… like father, like son. Oliver helped me bake a pumpkin pie, and Milo read 1,209,999 books.

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The boys destroyed the house several times over with their crazy games, but they cleaned it all up each time. We also had our very first “family meeting,” on Sunday evening! We discussed the past week, parent teacher conferences, set goals (just individual responsibilities for the upcoming week), and talked about what we are looking forward to in the coming months. Milo impressed us by his insight and taking full responsibility for a few things he’s been struggling with lately, and saying it out loud seemed to be really good for him. We actually had a group hug afterward and I must say, it was kind of amazing! We are going to try very hard to have these meetings every Sunday (especially after reading this). As the boys get older, I think it is so important that they understand their place in and contributions to this family, and what our family stands for and believes in. Perhaps it will help us remain close even as we face their adolescence. Yep, I’m already thinking about that.

DSC_0033But for now, Mr. Fantastic (he was playing dead).

Have a great Monday.

Favorite Places: K Hall Designs

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With the holidays coming up, I thought I would share a few of my favorite stores around St. Louis. I try to support our local stores because I truly love this city and think that the cute little local places have the most character! K Hall Designs is first up.

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K Hall Designs was started by Kelley Hall-Barr in 1998 as a soap and candle maker, and has evolved into one of the best home, apothecary, and body care product stores around. Inside is an eclectic mix of soft knits and linen clothing, warm wool blankets, plants, decorative items, and all sorts of great gifts. Last year I got Andrew a vintage-style phrenology head sculpture for his office and a really cool shoe polishing kit for a stocking-stuffer.

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I love their candles and decorative home goods. Interesting pieces with a vintage feel are incorporated with classics — the office supplies are pretty and practical.

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Baskets. HUGE baskets. DSC_0018

And naturally, they sell Barr-Co products, which smell good and clean and grown-up, not cloyingly sweet. I am bonkers over their Oatmeal hand soap and Milk bath salts.

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Right now they have all kinds of beautiful sweaters and knits in stock. It was near impossible to arrive, take pictures, and leave without touching everything!

K Hall Designs, 8416 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO 63144 — (314) 963-3293

Monday – Saturday, 10 – 6, Sunday 12 – 6

Master Bedroom Re-Do

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What seems like forever ago, I finally said enough. Enough of the pink track lighting from the nineties, enough of the old stained carpeting, enough of the off beige-y green color of the walls, enough of the full-sized box spring and mattress on the floor serving as our bed. Enough!

Convincing Andrew was not easy. He is a guy who cares nothing of luxury, and would be content with the cleared-out room below and a sleeping bag:

DSC_0136But somehow, some way, I convinced him that maybe it was time we had a relaxing space just for the two of us; in particular, a queen-sized bed that we would both fit comfortably in. There up on the third floor, with two nice walk-in closets and a full bathroom. There with the skylights and beautiful natural lighting all day that the jungle of plants I have accumulated appreciate. I had in my mind the clean, simple space. It just took a while to get there.

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The first step was clearing it all out for painting. Since we would be ripping up the carpeting and replacing it, it made sense to paint first.

And of course, as soon as the furniture was moved out, the boys saw the potential!DSC_0144DSC_0151DSC_0187

After I painted while the boys were in school (it took 3 coats!), I ripped up the outer edges to paint the trim. Next, Andrew replaced the light fixture with a simple white flush mount. Finally, we had new carpet installed (we thought about refinished the wood floors underneath, but quickly realized that it would be much too noisy to walk around up there if we didn’t have the sound barrier of carpet — plus, it’s so cozy!). After that, we finally bit the bullet on a new bed!

Are you ready to see it?

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I used Benjamin Moore’s Simply White on the walls and ceiling. The dresser is an antique hand-me-down from my mom, and the bed is from Crate & Barrel.

I love how it turned out! DSC_0018DSC_0019DSC_0023DSC_0020DSC_0021

I scored the vintage art deco lamps from Little Shop Around the Corner, a shop near the Missouri Botanical Garden which takes donations and resells them to support the Garden’s research. My lovely friend Ingrid let me use her membership for a nice discount, too! The bunny vase is from Anthropologie and the side tables are old, from Target. The hand mold to hold rings is from one of my favorite stores (which I will feature tomorrow) here in St. Louis, K Hall Designs.

DSC_0025DSC_0027DSC_0029DSC_0022DSC_0030I love that the footboard that comes with the bed has storage — we are keeping books and  a few other little things there for now, but it would also be a great storage spot for extra blankets.

And that’s all! I’m so happy that we have a nice space now that finally feels finished!

Dress That Mama

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Do you knit? I don’t, but now I’m thinking I may have to learn how! I’ve recently discovered Wool & The Gang, a London-based company which uses sustainable (environmentally and person-friendly) methods for making clothing — you can support a member by buying from “The Gang,” or you can order a kit to make your own. They have knitting supplies and even a way to ask for help in your knitting if you are struggling with something.

Oh, and the packaging is pretty cool:

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I had my eye on this knit vest (with fringe!!!) for a while and finally when it went on sale I jumped at the chance. I must say, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It is definitely a statement piece, but one which fills me with fond thoughts of my mother in the seventies wearing her long sheepskin hippie vest. SO great! And when I put this on paired with a slinky cotton dress, granny boots, and a great necklace, I felt pulled together.

In fact… out and about, so many people kept coming up to compliment my outfit — especially the vest. The older ladies especially liked it (which makes me smile). One woman asked if she could touch it, ha! I said yes.

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And I think the reason this outfit works so well is that it is all neutrals but there is so much texture (the different knits, the bulk of the chunky knit, the fringe) that it is still interesting. For me, it would have missed the mark with too many different colors. I’m planning to pair this vest with a plain white t-shirt and jeans, or maybe be brave and see how it goes with overalls.

Have a lovely day!