5 Little Things That Make a Big Difference

When your time is limited and life feels hectic here are a few quick and easy things you can do to feel better fast:

1. Make the Bed ~ Proven to improve mood and only takes a few minutes.

2. Buy Yourself Fresh Flowers ~ They brighten any room and make your home look loved.

3. Make a List ~ When your brain feels like it might explode jot down &  prioritize everything that is bogging you down.

4. Make Yourself a Hotel Style Breakfast ~ Nothing better than fluffy eggs, pastries & fresh squeezed juice to start your day!

5. Set Aside Some Time To Do Nothing ~ With all the racing around we do, it feels incredible to give yourself the gift of a little space and silence. Try to find a little time for yourself each day. Enjoy!


Pregnancy Survival Kit

Having gone through two pregnancies in the last three years I am well aware of the pressures to succumb to consumerist madness during this transitional time. Overwhelmed by the lists, advice, commercials and books imploring me to buy every imaginable product for myself and my unborn baby, I turned to my mom for help.

“All babies need is a place to sleep, loving parents and food!” she snapped.

Per usual, mom was right. I discovered first hand that many of the items I had invested in or registered for were totally worthless once our baby was on the scene. A minimalist at heart I felt silly for getting carried away with buying every imaginable swaddle blanket, burp cloth and bottle imaginable. My daughter never spit up so the rainbow of adorable printed burp cloths were completely useless. She hated the expensive stroller we had selected and never took a pacifier. My advice is to invest in the basic necessities (a good car seat, a place to sleep, some clothing and blankets) and hold off on the gadgets and gimmicks until you meet your baby and get to know their unique preferences.

All that being said, here are a few things that proved to be quite useful during pregnancy and the first year:

The Pregnancy Wedge – (By Boppy, $15) Those huge pregnancy full body pillows made me crazy and made our queen bed feel too crowded. This felt like just the right support for my back and hips and helped me get some much-needed rest during the final, uncomfortable months.

Coconut Water (Various brands; available at any health food store) Full of potassium and super refreshing, this healthy drink also helped calm my insatiable sweet tooth!

Yoga DVDs – A friend gave me this prenatal yoga DVD and I did it as often as I could.

A Well-Stocked Diaper Bag – In addition to packing for the hospital I found it reassuring to have my diaper bag locked and loaded and ready for baby. I included the following items in mine: Diapers, wipes, changing pad, change of clothing for baby, & hand sanitizer, lip-gloss and lotion for me.

Tip: I also found that the expensive designer diaper bags were a bit of a racket. Any lightweight over-sized bag with compartments will work just fine! My pick for a great bag: Ellington Amelia Convertible Tote

Guest Post: A Little Wisdom

My friend, Ben Smythe, takes simple living and minimalism to another level.  He is one of the most joyful people I know and everything he owns can fit in a single backpack. I asked him to contribute a guest blog post since he is always offering up wonderful tidbits of wisdom and inspiration.

Here is what he had to say:

1. Minimalism is about maximizing the most precious resource on earth: time.  The less I have to manage my stuff, the more time I have to enjoy the view.

2. Everything is temporary, including me.  Stress and suffering arises when I resist this simple fact.

3. More than things, we want connection.  I have a one-a-day philosophy that guarantees a moment of connection:  offer one person help, ask for help from one person and make a stranger smile.

4. Self-investigation is the simplest way to discover that underneath all those stressful thoughts you are an unending source of peace and contentment.

5. All fear is the fear of love.  It is easy to think it is the fear of death, but in reality, what we are most afraid of is opening our heart as wide as we secretly know it can go.

~

Benjamin Smythe teaches self-investigation to people around the world.  He spends a good portion of his time holding a sign in the Bay Area that reads, “You’re Perfect.”  He is the author of I am Life: Notes on the Obvious.  For more information go to: www.benjamintsmythe.com

Shoe Wheel!

Shoe storage is quite the conundrum, especially if you take your shoes off as soon as you walk in the door. I have not found many solutions that are aesthetically appealing and asked my stylish friend Hedy for advice. She told me about her designer friend, Debbie, who had a “shoe wheel,”and I became obsessed with tracking it down. Here it is in all of its innovative and space-saving glory! Do you have a shoe storage solution to share? Do tell!

Yard Sale 101

You’ve scoured your house and conquered the clutter. Now what to do with the piles of unwanted gear? Have yourself a Simply Sorted Yard Sale!

Here’s how:

  1. Pick a clear weekend and save the date and the day before for prep. (Avoid holiday weekends) Garage sale groupies come at the crack of dawn so start your sale as early as you can and plan to wrap up by early afternoon.
  2. Advertise the sale by posting date/time/location on Craigslist.org, Facebook.com and any other social media sites you like. Spring for a newspaper ad in your local paper as well. Write a few catchy sentences highlighting great deals or unusual items to attract buyers.
  3. Organize your sale items in a large clear space in your home.  In preparation for the big day it is always helpful to sort things by category (electronics, books, furniture, clothing, etc.) so they are ready to lay out neatly for your sale.
  4. Decide on easy and attractive pricing – Make all books $1 or all electronics $15. This will encourage people to snatch things up and buy more! Remember people go to garage sales for a deal – Sell pricier items in advance of your sale on Ebay.com or an auction house or pawnshop.
  5. Invite friends and family to come help you set-up and sell in exchange for good company, snacks and beverages. People can be easily lured to help if you offer up quality treats!
  6. Setting Up: Arrange like items together in organized groups – i.e. all kids toys, games and books together, all electronics together, etc. – Lay clothing and jewelry flat on a large tarp or blanket so people don’t have to rummage through your stuff to view it. Consider propping up a large mirror if you are selling a lot of clothing and accessories.
  7. Day-of Tips: If it is a hot day consider selling iced-cold lemonade; for cold days offer hot chocolate in disposable cups and warm donuts. When making change leave the customer’s bills out in view until after you have given them their change. Offer bags or boxes to people who buy multiple items.
  8. Line up a Salvation Army pick-up for the next day so you can ditch the unwanted items for good. Call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825) to discuss a free pick up of your clothing, furniture or household items or to find out the nearest drop off location bin. Alternately, you can donate to a favorite charity or person in need

SUPPLY CHECKLIST

  • Large signs + staple gun or tape to advertise the sale in your neighborhood.
  • Several large tarps and/or blankets for setting up smaller items and clothing
  • A cash box or money belt
  • Lots of small bills ($1’s and $5’s) to give change
  • A calculator for adding up multiple purchases
  • Old boxes, bags and newspapers for fragile items and big sales
  • Large cardboard box with a “FREE” sign for broken or stained items
  • Beverages and snacks for yourself and your helpers
  • Lemonade, cookies, etc to offer or sell to customers
  • Ipod or music system
  •  A card table for music, snacks, etc.
  •  Folding chairs for you and your garage sale buddies to recline in when it’s slow

Photos by Hedy MacferranPhotos by Hedy Macferran

A New Baby!

I am so excited to introduce the newest member of my family!

Emilie Olivia was born at noon on July 20th, 2011.

~

Kid Art

Many of my clients ask me how to handle the masses of “kid art” that get brought home from school every week. My own daughter has become quite the little artist lately and I have started searching for creative ways to handle the inflow of arts and crafts. Here are a few solutions to consider:

1. Edit! As with everything, I think editing is the best solution. Set a limit and stick to it. Perhaps, you will pick a favorite sketch every month. You can get your kids involved by having them select their most treasured item every week or month and putting together a beautiful book or art box each year that documents their progress.

2. Create a Rotating Gallery: Using clips on ribbon or pop out frames you can create a mini art gallery and rotate out the art every few weeks or months. These clips from Land of Nod are a brilliant idea!

3. Scan or Photograph Each Item: If you have a had time editing, a clever space-saving option is to scan the works and create a book, poster or online gallery.

You can also shrink the images down and create a large collage which includes all of them. Jan Eleni Interiors will create stunning collages for you or you can check the site for inspiration!

Guest Post: Stocking Up The Baby Bag!

Sometimes my minimalist impulses go too far and I find myself hopelessly unprepared when I am out and about with my daughter.  I am the mom who never carries a stocked diaper bag and always has to scramble to borrow diapers or wipes or a change of clothing when I am out on the go. I have been in so many ridiculous situations as a result of my aversion to carrying stuff around that I enlisted my dear friend, (and baby bag maven), Sierra, for help!

Sierra is one of those Mamas who always has everything you could ever possibly need. She is literally prepared for any situation and when we are together I am constantly borrowing things or having to race home to grab supplies.  There is nothing like being unprepared for a messy situation out in public or having your child jump into a fountain when you don’t carry a change of clothing. Despite my inclination to travel extremely light, Sierra has inspired me to be more prepared for the next baby and I am stocking my car and diaper bag ahead of time to make sure I am armed and ready this time!

See her suggestions for every possible scenario below:{FOR THE BABY BAG}

There is no shortage of surprises when caring for a new baby, which is why when I had my son I purchased a diaper bag with plenty of little compartments to stock with supplies for trouble shooting any and every unexpected situation. Why not eliminate the issue of being unprepared, when there is so much else on your mind as a parent?

If you plan ahead and keep your diaper bag well supplied, then you will only need to replenish items like
diapers and wipes on a daily basis, and you’ll be ready to dash out-the-door without too much added stress.
For the new baby bag…
1   Two onesies a knit hat and a pair of leggings. Spit ups, blowouts, and spills are inevitable.
2   In addition to a burp cloth, I recommend keeping a few of the super small, white washcloths + a bandanna for dry messes.
3   A gallon sized ziploc bag can store any soiled items until you get back home.
4   Diapers + diaper cream + plenty of wipes, of course! Always pack one more diaper than you think you need. It’s when you pack less that you end up needing the extra!
5   Dreft stain removing pen. This always works and can help you salvage clothes that you can’t clean right away.
6   Because new babies are so susceptible to germs, make sure you carry a gentle, natural hand sanitizer such as Cleanwell.  I also suggest keeping a pack of EO’s antibacterial wipes for surfaces such as a public restroom changing table. A quick swipe for your peace of mind. They are also great for airplanes.
7   Travel sized Aquaphor, by Eucerin. There must be a hundred different reasons that this is a diaper bag must. Great for chapped cheeks, red teething chins, diaper rash, dry skin, lips, and all kinds of first aid…
8   It’s a good idea to have a travel sized thermometer, nasal aspirator and a fever reducer. For babies a bit older, a small bottle of homeopathic teething drops. Again, tuck these away and you’ll probably forget about them until the moment you are so glad you thought ahead!
9   For the nursing mother, extra breast pads. Also, your nursing cover, if you use one.
10   Hand lotion for you, because you’re washing your hands constantly.
11   I always stashed away a little teether or toy that wasn’t a favorite, just so that I’d have something in a pinch were I to forget.
12   A few toys that you rotate daily so that you always have a fresh way of keeping your babe stimulated and occupied.
13   A non-perishable snack for you. Something like a granola bar can stay put for the moment you realize you’ve neglected to eat!
14   As if you’d forget, your baby’s bottle and snacks, and a water bottle for yourself.
15   For baby-on-the-move- Neosporin in the spray form (runs out faster than you’d believe) + one bandaid & sunscreen

{FOR THE CAR}
In the car I recommend keeping another go-to emergency bin in filled with…
1  Change of clothes for baby + an extra shirt for Mama
2  Extra changing pad(it’s shocking how often you actually need another one!) with a diaper and wipes
3  A box of nonperishable healthy snacks such as whole grain crackers or individually packed almonds(particularly important for a nursing Mom to have at the ready)
4  A six pack of water bottles for when you forget your reusable bottle or forgot to mix formula.
5  Formula, if your baby takes it, + an extra bottle so that you don’t ever have to skip a play date to rush home for milk.
6  A box of gallon sized zip-locs to use as storage for dirty diapers, or wet or soiled clothes.
7  A “Peek a boo map”(www.peekaboomaps.com)! Peek a boo maps list stores and restaurants in your area with changing tables or private spaces to nurse, as well as parks, family friendly restaurants…
8  A crossword puzzle book or magazine in case you’re made captive by an unexpected car nap!
*  For an older baby or toddler, keep a stash of books that are just for the car. Something with lots of pictures, such as the Richard Scarry books, will keep a little one happy on a long ride home.
* I buy a bag of multi-colored balloons and keep it in my glove compartment.
{FOR THE PARK}
 I also keep a “park bag” in my trunk. Having a park bag ready means that you can pull over anytime and know
that you and your child can have an impromptu, fun afternoon. Now that my son is a full fledged toddler, my bag is about twice as full, but it’s great to know you have just the basics.
In my huge bag is…
1  A package of sunscreen wipes for spur of the moment, easy application.
2  A waterproof park blanket or printed sheet.
3  Sunhat
4  Bucket + shovel
5  Ball
6  Pustefix bubbles (so worth the money and they never spill- best bubbles ever)
7  Outdoor truck
8  A pocket kite by House of Marbles
9  Small bucket of chubby sidewalk chalk
10  A bandanna for brushing off the dirt, and wipes for sticky situations
* I usually pack a few extras of things so that my son can practice sharing. It’s an unavoidable playground fact that kids gravitate towards the Mommy who comes prepared with a bag of goodies!
~
Check out Sierra’s fabulous blog HERE!

Marin Country Mart

Ever since I left LA, I have been praying that the owners of the beloved Brentwood Country Mart would expand to Northern California. I finally got over to scope out the Marin Country Mart today and was thrilled with what I discovered! A sweet collection of boutiques is coming together and I was told that Three Twins Ice Cream and Cowgirl Creamery were signed on to join shortly. Check out the calendar of events for family friendly events including live music, outdoor movies and ponies rides for the kids.

First stop was Poppy Store which was one of the most charming well-edited selections of baby and kids clothing and accessories I have ever seen. Bonus points for the glass jars of bright candies and gorgeous art propped against the back shelves.

Next, I visited Malia Mills which had a lovely (yet pricey) collection of clothing. As I browsed around I became more than a little smitten with this lamp which I tracked down at West Elm!

On my way back to my car I took a gander at Berry Bliss yogurt and fell in love with their tart plain flavor with fresh raspberries. A close second to So Cal’s Pinkberry. So happy to have a little taste of LA here in the Bay!