Seeking Simplicity: (Baby) Clothing Edition

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So out of the simple clothing posts I’m writing, this one is obviously the most fun, because tiny baby girl clothes are just the best! Ever since I found out I was having a girl, it’s taken a bit of self control not to overspend on adorable things for her.

Eaden is blessed to be the recipient of some beautiful hand-me-downs from my best friend’s daughter who is about a year older. They’re destined for greatness together, these two, so clearly it makes sense that they share a similar personal style:

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(Sidenote: the above picture was taken in March, and Eaden has so much more hair now! It’s nuts! I didn’t fully realize until I saw this.)

When approaching what to purchase for Eaden, I aim to limit it to a few simple and high-quality items in natural materials. For the summer, I love Burt’s Bee’s organic cotton camisole onesies, paired with some bloomers. I found a couple pairs of ridiculously cute handmade bloomers from Wee Vintage Baby. They’re perfect with the onesies or a little tank top or t-shirt.

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My other favorite for her is rompers. Classic, sweet, cool enough for the summer heat, and nothing beats the simplicity of a one-piece outfit! These two are from Peek and Numero 74.

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For scoring amazing, quality items that are gently used and super affordable, the Kidizen app is wonderful! Purchasing pre-loved clothing rather than new leaves a much smaller footprint on both the earth and our bank account. I also sell some of the things she outgrows, sometimes for exactly the amount I bought them for!
I’m fully aware that shoes are completely unnecessary for my crawling infant, so these leather t-strap sandals were sort of a petty splurge purely for my own amusement. (We all get to do those things once in a while, right?) Aren’t they precious?! I won’t be buying her more shoes until she walks though.

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We also have a few super sweet dresses, some headbands, various onesies, and footie pajamas. And a swimsuit, which also isn’t really necessary, but look at it! (below)
I believe a little bit of superfluity is alright here and there—it keeps things fun!

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She has two drawers- one for clothes she currently wears and one for things she’ll likely grow in to in the next few months.

Simple, and sweet. (Because getting dressed shouldn’t be complicated!)


Previous posts on simplicity:

The Process of Simplicity

Seeking Simplicity: Clothing Edition (Mine)

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Seeking Simplicity: Clothing Edition (mine)

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I wrote a post about simplicity last week, and the next day had a conversation with a friend about spending and budgets, thoughtful purchasing, and the guilt and shame that can sometimes surround spending money, especially on ourselves. For me, this has always applied especially to clothes.

I don’t consider myself a fashionista. I’ve never had the money to be one anyway, and it simply isn’t a priority for me. I don’t care about trends. I have my own taste that’s mostly unaffected by whatever is “in” at the given moment, I’ve always simply tried to wear what makes me feel good. For years, most of my wardrobe came from Target, sometimes Nordstrom with some Gap and American Eagle here and there. I very much appreciate good design and beautiful things, but felt like I couldn’t afford to splurge on good quality items. Most of my purchases were pretty impulsive and unplanned. I had favorite items that I wore all the time, but many things sat in my closet rarely being used at all. And then there were the things that clearly were just of such poor quality—I found myself replacing tops with holes and pilling, or stretched-out jeans, far too often then should be necessary.

As I began to dive more into the concept of simpler living, I frequently encountered the concept of capsule wardrobes, and of thoughtfully planned clothing collections built over time with pieces that are well-made, high quality, classic, and will last over many seasons and years. This was usually accompanied by talk of where clothing comes from and how it is produced. It turns out that cheap clothing usually comes at the cost of severe social injustice and environmental harm. There is an entire “slow fashion” movement focused on ethically made, high quality clothing. For some reason it has taken me a while, but I’ve finally begun heading in this direction. I’d like to share the experience here for anyone interested.
Please note that I do not consider mine to be even close to a true capsule wardrobe. I’ve read that by definition that would consist of 30 or fewer items (including shoes and possibly even accessories). I’m not there, and I’m not sure that’s even my goal, but I do want more simplicity in my clothing collection, as I believe it will streamline the process of getting dressed as well as eliminate clothing clutter and storage issues.

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First, during our big initial decluttering process, I rid my drawers and closet of everything unneeded. This included items that were stretched out, worn out, stained or torn beyond repair, as well as anything that simply didn’t make me feel good wearing it. I tried on everything I hadn’t worn in a while, and if there was just something off about it and I knew it was bound to sit unused for another six months, out it went. It’s amazing how many things I kept holding on to with a “just in case” mentality (and that was the same all over my house, not only with clothes). After all of that , I was finally left with the things I actually wear, and actually like. From there, it’s simply been a matter of identifying the holes in my collection or the pieces I’d like to eventually replace with a nicer, higher-quality version. And even the best-made things eventually wear out over time, so I plan to make replacements as needed.

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My skirt here is from a great little second-hand Instagram shop @hobbsgeneralstore. They post new inventory most Fridays. This sling from Kantha Bae is one of my favorite things for Eaden! Photo is from our family session with by friend Bianca Thomas (biancavalentim.com).

Each season will vary a bit, but not too drastically in South Florida, so I’m approaching my entire wardrobe as a whole, not as much by season, though since it’s currently May I don’t plan to add a jacket or sweater any time soon.
Here’s what my clothing collection consists of right now:

-4 pairs of jeans
-3 pairs of soft, light “boho” style pants
-3 pairs of shorts (2 denim, 1 soft printed)
-10 tank tops (I wear tanks nearly every day, including for workouts and the beach and as a base layer under sheer tops. Most of mine are still the cheap ones from Target, but I’m gradually replacing them as they wear out, while also narrowing down to no more than 7. Everlane makes my favorites.)
-5 basic t-shirts (and I just pre-ordered this one, which I’m pretty happy about!)
-2 nicer tops that can dress up a little
-4 tunic-type tank dresses, for pairing with jeans or leggings
-2 other dresses- one floor-length black and one for looking somewhat professional when needed
-4 skirts (which I don’t wear much, but can’t seem to part with)
-4 (I think?) long-sleeved shirts
-6 sweaters (3 cardigans, 3 pullovers)
-1 winter jacket
-Lounge and workout wear (I’ve probably got too many pairs of leggings, but I live in them at home, and for yoga, and also wear them under tunic-length items sometimes or as pajamas if I’m chilly. Versatile and so comfy. In this category is also a small handful of tops that I only wear for sleep.)
-1 swim suit
-Underthings (Nursing for the third time around meant new bras, as none of my old nursing bras were in any kind of usable condition when we pulled them down from the attic. I chose Cake Maternity, and they’ve been my favorite ones yet. I have 4 nursing bras that I rotate. Undies are pretty much all simple cotton, nearly all the exact same style in various shades of black, blue, and grey.)
-Shoes: 9 pairs, which really still sounds like too many. My beloved Birkenstock sandals are my go-to, but they’re getting older and I was feeling that they looked too grungy and casual for certain situations so after months of inner debate I purchased these from Olukai. These are well-made and comfortable, and will go with practically everything I wear. I wear sandals year-round, probably at least 80% of the time. I also have a pair of Teva flip-flops for the beach, to avoid messing up the leather of my other sandals. The other pairs consist of a pair of Toms casual sneakers, Merrel barefoot trail runners, regular Asics running shoes (which don’t get out much these days, thanks to those Merrells!), a pair of crocheted black Toms classics which are almost exclusively for shooting weddings, a pair of boots, and a pair of sparkly and awfully uncomfortable flats that I wear only for the very rare dressy occasion.

Making that list was quite a bit more difficult than I’d expected, but I think that’s pretty much everything. It may have been overkill to catalog my entire closet for you, but I think it’s a good foundation for future posts on this topic.
I would like to pare this down even a little more. I think I held onto some duplicates (especially tank tops and loungewear) because I was afraid of not having anything to wear in between laundry loads, but I’ve found that having fewer items to wash makes it pretty easy to wash more frequently. I’m getting into a habit of putting a load in each morning, and folding the one from the day before at some point during our morning school time.

I’ve made a few purchases recently and feel that I won’t need anything new at least until after the summer.
– I mentioned the “Wild + Free Mama” tee above, which is from my favorite homeschool inspiration source.
– I also just bought a pair of light-wash cropped jeans (see photo) from Nordstrom’s Treasure&Bond line. I honestly wish I’d sought out a brand that is more focused on ethical production, but I did like that at least a portion of proceeds is given to charities. Here’s a list of more ethical jeans brands that I’m curious about for the future.
– And finally, my new sandals (see above)—Olukai has an outstanding commitment to the environment and their community in Hawaii.

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The Process of Simplicity

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I think I’ve held back from writing here very often because I haven’t known where to begin. There are so many topics I want to write about, and yet none that I have polished and totally figured out. I’m curious about so much, but rarely an expert. But rather than getting overwhelmed and running away (again), I’m going to just pick one thing and talk about it. And then another, and another, without having to map out some kind of organized game plan ahead of time. (That’s probably what most bloggers do anyway. I most likely overthink it.)

So today, simplicity is on my mind. I feel like it’s become a somewhat overused term. It’s thrown around a lot—”live simply” or “I’m simplifying”—but what does it mean? Personally, when I consider the idea of simplicity I picture an all-encompassing lifestyle, steeped in an appreciation for the beauty of everyday moments. I envision a home that is fairly minimal, but more importantly, contains only what is useful or beautiful (and hopefully both). I desire to carefully consider what we bring into our home, and what we keep here. I want quality over quantity. In a culture as materialistic as ours is, possessions are definitely one of the biggest obstacles to a simpler life. But there is so much more to it than only stuff. It applies to the way we spend our time, the way we eat, the way we treat illness and what we clean our homes with. My goal is not only to declutter, but to create an atmosphere in my home that is simple and peaceful and makes space for joy, creativity, movement, and the pursuit of knowledge.

We have come a long way in this area, but still have so far we can go. It is a process, and happens on a continuum. Every time we’re faced with the option to bring another new thing into our lives, we can exercise simplicity. Do I need this? What will it add to my life? Will I still want it in a week? a month? a year? Is there a version of this item that will last longer, work better, or be more aesthetically pleasing? How was it made—where, and by whom? These are all questions I aim to consider when making purchases.

This has meant moving away from plastics and disposable items, and choosing to pay more, once, for something that will last rather than opting for a cheap item that will break or wear out.

Along with seemingly everyone and their mother (am I right?) I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  by Marie Kondo last year. In case you aren’t familiar, this book takes you step-by-step through the process of editing down the things you own, based on the simple question “Does this spark joy?” So I read this, and then proceeded to “Konmarie” our home, and over the course of a few weeks we carted off about two pickup trucks worth of stuff to the local non-profit we donate to (which gives directly to the families of farm workers in the area—I prefer this option over Goodwill/Salvation Army because I know these things are being used by people in need). We also discarded several large black trash bags of unusable items like broken toys, clothes worn to rags, and so so many bottles of expired or half-used cosmetics and toiletries from under the sink. It was absurd. It was rather shocking to see that we’d been holding on to so much that we didn’t need, want, or use anymore.

That whole process definitely made an impact on me and caused me to consider our habits of consumption. But I’m still training myself, and unfortunately I’ve still purchased/accumulated some things since then that ended up being mistakes. Like I said, it’s a process. Every few months or so I get the “declutter” itch again, and I sweep through the house collecting items to get rid of. As the seasons change, some toys stop getting played with, some books are outgrown or could serve someone else much better, some clothes are just not getting any love and therefore not earning their place in the drawer or closet.

I recently thoroughly enjoyed reading Simple Matters by Erin Boyle. I think every once in a while I need a good infusion of simplicity inspiration in book form. This one is just beautiful, and has me thinking all over again about the beauty and quality of each thing we own, and the social and environmental impact of it’s production and eventual discard. And so the process of creating a more peaceful and minimal home and life continues. I’ll keep you posted.

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A Health Update {Hashimoto’s, pregnancy, fertility, and food}

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve talked about my health here, and I know some of you might be curious how things are going with treating my autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) naturally, and how it has affected my pregnancy.

Quick background: I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in summer 2013, after years of not being able to find any answer to why I felt completely awful so much of the time. This diagnosis lead to massive changes in my already “healthy” diet. Over the previous years I’d been vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, avoided processed and refined foods, done detoxes, and yet still had very little energy and got debilitating headaches more days out of each month than not.

Once I learned the root cause of all of these problems, I was quite determined to learn to manage it naturally and very much wanted to avoid the need for any medication. I began researching a ton and found that much of what I’d always known to be true in the realm of nutrition, actually wasn’t (at least not for every person). In the midst of all of this I was also trying to conceive our third baby, and after 1.5 years of trying was diagnosed with PCOS. I learned that hormone balance depends on an abundance of healthy fats, and that I needed more quality proteins to help keep my blood sugar stable. I was told to avoid gluten, as it increases inflammation for people with autoimmune disease, and as I dug deeper I found that same to be true of legumes, sugar, dairy, and grains in general. All signs pointed to a grain-free, primal (paleo) diet, and I decided to give it a try.

I haven’t eaten any gluten at all since January 2014, and permanently quit dairy and corn a while after that upon seeing so clearly how much they affected how I feel. I rarely eat sugar (refined white sugar, almost never) or legumes, and I have gone many stretches being completely grain-free. This has been such a huge change, and definitely not always easy. I miss lentils and bread, but when I think about how I used to feel when eating them frequently, it really doesn’t seem so bad.

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So back to pregnancy. After over a year and a half of trying to conceive, even with all these dietary changes my progesterone was still low, so I was put on a natural compounded progesterone. We found out in late June of last year that I was pregnant, just weeks after starting the hormone treatment. At 8 weeks, it ended abruptly in a miscarriage. I don’t know, and will never know, if Hashimoto’s was to blame at all, but after it happened I became a lot more careful with my diet, avoiding inflammatory foods and increasing healthy fats and veggies. In January, after more months of overusing pregnancy test strips and wondering if it would ever happen, once again I was faced with two little pink lines. This time felt so different though. The anxiety that had surfaced after my miscarriage attacked with a vengeance, and I fought it every day with prayer, faith, and essential oils. When I passed the 8-week mark where I’d been last time, and especially when I reached the 12-week mark where risk is considered much lower, I began to relax. Twelve weeks happened to come almost exactly when I’d been due with the one we lost, which was bittersweet but also healing for me. With the second trimester came the end of my constant nausea, and I entered the phase of truly enjoying this pregnancy.

My morning (read: all-day) sickness in the first 12 weeks made it basically impossible to stay as strict with my diet as I had been. I still avoided gluten, sugar, dairy, and most legumes, but added some grains back to save my sanity. Protein-rich foods often made me feel ill by simply thinking of them. Even now, I’m eating rice or a piece of millet bread here and there, and simply trying to listen to my body and discern what it needs on any given day. Sometimes that’s a big green smoothie with kale, pineapple, mango, coconut milk, banana, avocado and coconut oil. Sometimes it’s sweet potatoes, or raw coconut oil chocolate, or some eggs or grass-fed beef. Most of my cravings have been along those lines, though sometimes it’s for things like donuts or ice cream and I’ve had to find creative healthy ways to satisfy that!

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Pregnancy can affect thyroid problems pretty drastically at times, and for the first time I have needed a low dose of thyroid medication. I don’t love being on it, and am hoping to be able to stop after baby comes, even if it means getting even more strict with food for a while. I truly believe that the body can heal itself, but I don’t want to do any experimenting with thyroid levels while I’m pregnant.

Despite that, this has overall been the best I have ever felt while pregnant. I have more energy than I remember having with the boys, much fewer headaches, and most significantly much fewer digestive problems. My first two pregnancies involved almost constant tummy issues—painful indigestion practically ever time I ate—and now it’s pretty rare and usually directly linked to slipping up and eating something I shouldn’t (like some corn chips, hummus, or peanuts).

Supplements are also pretty important when growing a human, and must go far beyond a simple prenatal vitamin.
I take a prenatal multi recommended by my nurse practitioner (who treats my Hashimoto’s). It contains methylfolate instead of the standard folic acid, which is absorbed much more readily by my body.
My other dailies are: fermented cod liver oil (one of the very best sources of essential fatty acids and vitamins A & D), a quality probiotic, curcumin (turmeric capsules, for inflammation), a special thyroid supplement from my nurse practitioner, and a magnesium/calcium drink.
I also use various essential oil daily according to what I need. One of my favorites is the Gentle Baby blend, which is specifically for pregnancy and babies. The book Gentle Babies has been a great resource for figuring out which Young Living oils can be used while pregnant.

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I think that just about covers it (for now anyway). What a wild ride this has been! I’m so thankful for all the knowledge I’ve gained and help I’ve received that has helped this pregnancy along so far and helped me grow the healthiest baby possible, and feel as well as possible so I can enjoy every moment of this. Now at 24 weeks, I am deeply aware of the magic of being her home for these months, her nourishment and protection. Every kick and squirm I feel is so very precious.

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Lavender & Almond Skin Cleanser

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I’ve tried a ton of different skincare options over the years. It started when I was about 10 and my mom was selling Mary Kay products, and on and on from there. I’ve been careful about ingredients since my early twenties- mostly buying from health food stores and avoiding harsh chemicals. But I’ve never found something I 100% loved. I’ve tried everything from extremely overpriced department store cleansing milks, to raw honey (it gave me a rash). I used only coconut oil for a while, but came to the conclusion that for my particular skin, it’s better as a once-in-a-while treatment rather than a daily ritual. When it comes to store-bought, LUSH’s Angels on Bare Skin cleanser has been my favorite, but there was still something a little off about it, so I decided to try making it myself, with complete control over the ingredients. I made my first batch several months ago, and I absolutely love this stuff. It’s the perfect combination of moisture and gentle exfoliant, with clay to draw out impurities.

The recipe:

a heaping 1/4 cup of almond flour
4 tsp clay (I use Redmond, but I’m curious about green clay and may try it in the future.)
1 Tbsp vegetable glycerin
7 drops pure lavender essential oil (I only use Young Living; I’ve noticed such a difference since switching from store bought oils)
4 tsp water
1 tsp organic dried lavender

Mix the almond flour and clay together in a bowl. Then add glycerine, water, and lavender oil. Mix together well (I like to use a silicone spatula to sort of knead it against the side of the bowl.) Scrape together and roll in hands to form a ball. Store in a lidded container. To use, pinch off just a tiny bit and mix it with water in your hand, rub into face, and rinse clean. Follow with your favorite moisturizer if needed.

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This Was Christmas.

getting the tree…

crocheting and felting many trivets for gifts…

sending cards and boxes out…

adding his handprints to our tree skirt. next year there will be 2…

baking. lots and lots of baking…

a favorite gift, so simple…

and another favorite: his own drill to help daddy with projects : )

There is something so magical about Christmas with a child of your own. There is nothing like seeing his joy over the simplest things, like lights on houses and a stocking that’s full in the morning. Hearing him say “dis cookie is nummy Mommy!”, and an enthusiastic “wow!!” each and every time he opens a gift, melts my heart into a puddle. This year Christmas was just right, relaxing and spent with family. And I am still processing the fact that next year, we’ll be celebrating it with a 10 month old and a three year old!

So, a few days late, from my family to yours:

{our Christmas card, 2011}

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Seasonal Sweetness

My husband’s parents have the most amazing backyard. Hammocks, sitting areas, and so many beautiful (and delicious) plants. Thankfully, we spend a fair amount of time with them and are able to enjoy it all.
Right now, the mango tree is reaching its peak. We have the tastiest mangoes I’ve ever eaten, literally anytime we want. Here’s a glimpse of the bounty…

It’s things like this that make me thankful to live in this place.

If you know any awesome mango recipes, please post in the comments. We don’t want any to go to waste!

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A Glimpse.

I’m woken early. Too early, considering I stayed up late working the night before. Begrudgingly I stumble out of bed as Seth begs for cartoon and a banana. I will my mind and body to awaken. I take care of my son and start my coffee, doing a few stretches as it brews, trying to bring some energy into muscles that would rather still be in bed.

By the time I’ve finished half my cup, the caffeine has begun to have its effect on my mind. The gears are turning now, and I jot down ideas as they come– for business, photography, writing, my to-do list and grocery list, and other random ideas. The thoughts are uncategorized in my mind and just want to be expressed. They push like people rushing to get out the small entry of a building- they’re limited only by how fast my hand can write. I’ll come back to this later, but for now I finish the last sip of coffee and move on.

After Seth and are fed and dressed, we head outside to dig and plant and water, until the Florida sun drives us indoors once again.
I love nurturing seedlings, planning the space, watching life come from tiny seeds, and most of all sharing it with my son. I pinch a basil leaf and hold it for him to smell, and he enthusiastically says “mmmm!” and laughs. His amazement at every new thing is precious and contagious. I can’t help but marvel at the smallest things and be thankful.

Life is truly beautiful.

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