the lotus momma

the lotus momma

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I'm asking: Do you have no-cost solutions for spring cleaning closets?

Staying home with newborns, amongst so many other things, means no more sheath dresses and no more suits.  My closet has not gotten the memo.  It also doesn't know that I'm no longer pregnant and in need of my maternity clothes.  It has already received and swallowed up my  new "mommy wardrobe" of leggings and tunics.  Something nees to be done.   

So when one of my favorite blogs has a post on spring cleaning your closet, I naively think "perfect" and click away.  My enthusiasm does not last long.  The tips and tricks are rediculous for those of us who proudly live in a small space and/or on a budget.  For example, to increase my space, I could just convert one of my extra rooms into a closet!!! (why didn't I think of that?);  I could put down a beautiful rug and hang a chandelier to make my closet feel more luxurious and less stressful (I don't even have space/money for these in my living room); or I could buy hundreds of dollars worth of new organizing products to convert my closet into a more workable space.  Fail.

Despite what I am sure were the best intentions of that author, I decided that I need to proceed with common sense, no-cost set of rules and am looking for you input.

Check out my before (feel free to judge harshly):

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

mourning my cubicle

For those of you who have seen my last few offices, I have an admission.  I am not that clean and I am not that organized.  My home life has always been more of the organized chaos, "I know where everything is", kind of environment.  I don't know when or why it happened, but sometime when I was developing my office/cubicle persona, I 1. realized how much time we spend in our offices (most of our awake time) and 2. REALLY enjoyed having my own space.  You see, I have never, not once had my own room and now I was treating my offices as that haven.  So like any self-proclaimed nerd, I began buying my own office supplies (who didn't love back-to-school time? new folders? new pens?)  At some point, I went further, transitioning into interior design--incorporating paint, fabric, art!  I know.  It was a bit ridiculous.  But it was mine.  It was beautiful to me. And where I shared every other space in my life and so had relinquished complete control, here I was organized and comfortable, the person I wanted to be in all aspects of my life.

And now I work at home.  My office is my living room.  If I dropped my child off every morning at someone else's home, I would expect it to be neater than organized chaos and so I feel like it needs to be perfect.  But the space is not mine alone.   I share it with a family I love.  It is obviously not fair to my DH to make him feel like he can't really live in the space.   And so now I mourn my office and find myself negotiating a new self-awareness.  It never occured to me when I decided to stay home and become a nanny that I would be losing my office.  It now seems symbolic of the question I find myself asking often as a stay-at-home mom--how do I keep myself?

Monday, February 21, 2011

quick fix: drafty windows

At the beginning of winter, as the handy one in the household, I dutifully covered my windows with plastic to keep the cold air out and our heated air inside the apartment.  However, the rented apartment windows were obviously bought on the cheap and the layer of plastic stood no chance.  I know the next best thing to installing new windows for our landlord (no chance!) is to install heavy, lined curtains, but don't want to make the investment since: 1.  we don't know for sure we will live here through more than one winter, 2.  that is the only window in the back of the row house apartment, so heavy curtains would block our only natural light, and 3.  they are expensive!

I could have hoped that spring air would come as quick as the groundhog predicted (we got a few days of it), but began getting desperate for more warmth in that corner as the transition from DLO's bassinet to crib is imminent. 

Of course, you may be all set for this year...if that's the case, bookmark this one for next winter :)  For me, it was time for a quick fix...

I purchased a few yards of cheap white fleece online.  Fleece is ideal for this project because it has some stretch, so does a great job sealing the cold air out with just a few nails (I used 14 total on a very tall window).  [Of course, you could use any color you already have or like with your decor.  I think thick flannel would also work well with this project and lend a lodgy, winter feel.]  I started at the top in the center and worked my way down.  It fans a bit, but I like the decorative, yet unobtrusive look (see the close-up photo above) and I certainly appreciate the warmth and filtered sunlight (see after photo above).  I had a little bit of leftover fabric at the bottom, but instead of cutting it off, tucked it into the window sill, getting a little bit of extra wind-block at the base of the window.  Next time, I will intentionally purchase/use extra for this purpose. 

I will repurpose the white fleece for another project (saving $ and the earth!).  If the kids were older, I would have had them paint it first (like a hung art canvas) and then repurposed it for artsy throw pillows in DLO's room.

14 nails (if purchased separately would have been under 25 cents; I had a large container laying around from other projects, so free for me)
1.5 yards of white fleece (I bought online for $4 per yard, with shipping cost $12)
hammer (whatever you own or can borrow, will do)

total price: under $15 (under $10 if you live close to a fabric store)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

chocolate: for better and for worse

For better:

If you are going to indulge in chocolate gifting for valentine's day, why not go for something a bit more special than a drugstore boxed selection?  Here are four chocolate's I wish I was getting for the holiday (or really anyday!). 

For worse:

You would think, based on my comments above that I was a reasonable chocolate eater, holding out for "special" and dutifully snubbing pedestrian chocolate-eating opportunities.  I would have you seriously fooled.  Not only would I eat nearly any chocolate in front of me [except for this chocolate-sauced beef strip I recently saw on semi-homemade...bleck], I would eat nearly any sugar put in front of me.  Like many Americans, I seem to be completely addicted to sugar and unsure how to break the habit.  Oh sure, I know how.  Everything in moderation. 

However, the amazing treats I highlighted above would be consumed in this fashion if they entered my home (assuming most of them come in packs of four): 1. eaten immediately--to show gratitude to the gift-giver, of course; 2. shared with the gift-giver--I am not greedy; 3. eaten after dinner--need something sweet to make me feel like I finished the meal; 4. eaten for breakfast the next morning--I simply could not resist.  Then, they would be gone.  And, worse yet, I would already be searching for the next sugar fix.  This is not the example I want to set for my DLO and nannychild.  I also know that this path is only setting me up for serious health-problems.   

Working at home both eases the challenge and has set me up to face new problems as I strive to bring balance to my diet (and life).  On one hand, I don't have the ever-beckoning call of the office vending machine, meetings with sugary treats, and shared goodies in the kitchen.  On the other hand, if something is in my house, it doesn't cost me any money to go and finish it off.  When I take the kids out for walks, for some reason I feel like I deserve a treat for venturing out of the safety and relative-ease of my living room.  A new cupcake store? Why yes, that sounds delightful.  If nothing else, I get to talk to the adults serving me up these treats and adult-interaction is oh-so-needed--the cherry-on-top--to take the metaphor too far. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 v-day gifts from etsy

Reminder/warning: There is only one week until Valentine's Day.  Nothing says "I love you" quite like a home-made gift, but sometimes our crafting skills are not exactly adequate for special occassions like Valentine's Day.  Today I have rounded up some of my favorite possible gifts from etsy.  Let these wonderful artists do the handy-work for you:  

(oh, and of course "for her" can be "for him" and visa versa ;)

trend alert: hedgehog round-up

Foxes are already the new owl.  As we build our modern woodland collections, look for hedgehogs to take their place as the next style icon borrowed from the forest.  Far from the sonic image we grew up with in videogames, this hedgehog is an animal (much like the owl and fox) that is sweet, quirky, and also has a little bit of edge to appeal to our increasingly prepster culture.  While I personally think that the world of design will soon swing wildly to the techy (read robots) to counteract all of the nature-inspired interiors of the green movement, expect to meet a few more furry friends you forgot existed while those of us hippies hold on to this opportunity to live in make-believe tree houses that are actually english-basement apartments. 

Perfectly adorable for valentine's day.  Don't expect the trend to last as long as owls (which have become our generation's version of our mother's cows and our grandma's rooster) but they will certainly have their day and make yours!

Images above:
1. Hedgehog family mobile by Flensted Mobiles
2. Justice for Hedgehogs by Ronald Dworkin, January 2011
3. Prickly pal plush from Anthropologie
4. DIY hedghog plushie on
5. Hedgehog pencil holder tutorial recently featured on ohdeedoh
6. Hedgehog earrings from Zooz Jewelry
7. Bamboo hedgehog clock from Decoylab

Saturday, February 5, 2011

hot orange juice

I have been sick with a cold for the last several days, so finally got myself out to the store to pick up the ingredients for my favorite hot beverage, the YaredI never actually remember the name and I have no idea why it is called that (I had to look it up online for this post).  When I head to my favorite local coffeehouse where I discovered the Yared, I always just ask for "that hot o.j. know the one with the limes and honey."

I should back up.  As a child, I was never really an apple juice kid.  I have always preferred orange juice.  It probably had something to do with growing up in Florida.  We didn't exactly head out to apple orchards in the fall and bake homemade pies and heat up cider.  I have grown to appreciate these traditions--and even like apples--now that I know there are varieties other than mcintosh (ughhh, I hate when they get mealy).  Honeycrisps really won me over a few years ago, even though the farmer I buy them from is an incredibly moody woman. 

Anyways, where I grew up we had the most delicious, fresh-off-the-tree oranges.  I remember climbing the highest I ever have in a tree to pick tangelos (large as an orange, but as sweet as a tangerine!) from a neighbor's huge tree.  I vividly remember not being afraid of falling, but of being caught.  My dad wouldn't allow me to ask the neighbor for permission.  Being a kid, I couldn't not have some of those oranges.  In my kid-logic, if I was going to steal oranges, I wanted to take those that would go to waste anyways because that did not seem as unethical.  I climbed higher than the two-story home's rooftop, throwing down the oranges that would have otherwise rotted at the top of the tree to my waiting (and hiding) sister or friends.

I never thought of heating up the orange juice.  It doesn't really get cold enough in central Florida to start craving hot beverages and when it did, I took advantage of the small windows of opportunity to get hot chocolate.  Then, I moved north.  And there was so much apple cider and I was so not impressed.  Until one day, sitting in a coffee shop here in DC, I spotted the Yared.  It's warm, and sweet-tart, and actually seasonal (oranges are a winter fruit!)  I fell in love.  

Particularly when I am feeling under the weather, it is the perfect medicine.  I do understand that OJ doesn't really do anything to prevent or cure a cold.  But it makes me feel so much better.

The Recipe:
1 cup of orange juice
1 large wedge of lime
1 large wedge of lemon
honey, to taste

Squeeze lemon and lime wedges into a cup and drop the wedges in to the bottom of the cup.  Add the orange juice.  Heat in microwave (approximately 1.5-2 minutes) or on stovetop.  Add honey to taste (I like a teaspoon's worth of local honey).