October 31, 2014

The Haps

What is happening is October is over after today, and that is just crazy. That is insane. Tonight me (Olaf) and Sven and Anna and Elsa will head out for some festivities, friends, and candy, of course, and when we wake up tomorrow, it will basically be the most wonderful time of the year! And guys, this year it's in New York!

Some things making me feel rather New Yorker-y lately, and I must warn you, they are mostly transportation related because such is the nature of life to a Brooklynite.
  1. Last night I made it to my friend's in the East Village without checking my subway map, even though this was my first time going to her house from my house.
  2. Last night I told my cab driver how to get me all the way home, like step-by-step instructions.
  3. I did all of this while reading the New Yorker

Nevermind. That's about all I got.

But we have been incredibly busy, which I thinks probably makes me feel more settled than being able to get around without having to consult aids. Have we been here long enough to be busy? Apparently we have. We have routines and play dates and even weekend adventures with friends to look forward to most weeks; and it's something crazy-wonderful to have people, isn't it?

Now that I've said we've been busy, I've been sitting here trying to think doing what, of note anyway. A little bread baking, park wandering, pumpkin-carving, crayon-making, walk-taking, I guess. I've done a bit of writing in other places (like on things to do in New York with kids and on good/bad customer service in Rhode Island) and I've done a lot of updating on some Bumblebean lists to prepare for fall and a certain someone's second birthday (but we're not talking about that right now). Oh! And sweet Kate from 365 to 30 featured me in her Project 30 series just this week, which was a fun little exercise.

Speaking of projects, I posted a photo of some editing I was working on the other day, and someone asked if I'd ever scripted tattoos (which I have). This led someone else to asking me to design one that very day; which led me to dust off that old word art shop and make things a bit more user-friendly. Then I got really motivated to procrastinate my editing further, and I added some scripted items to Society6 too, which was pretty fun actually. 

I have been taking a lot of trips into the city, whenever I find some moments that are just mine. There's no real reason for it save for the fact that one day I thought, I mean really thought, "I live here." And so, if I feel like walking around SoHo for no other reason than that I feel like walking around SoHo, I should. The other night, that's just what I did. (If I'm being honest, my main motivation was La Colombe, because even though there are a million coffee shops in this town, Colombe always tastes like a luxury.) It was pouring down rain and I was amazed at how many umbrellas can simultaneously make it down the sidewalk. It's like all of the pedestrians are communicating, telepathically, unnoticed, and we all dodge left at the same time or swerve right together. Somehow it's this magical, seemingly choreographed dance when it could be some tangled, muddled mess. I think it must be a beautiful thing to behold from above, watching all these multi-colored (but mostly black) polka dots waltz around each other in the rain. It made me think that having an apartment high above a very busy road might actually be brilliant.

Well, my caramel pecan pie candle has just run out, and I've drained my coffee cup as well. What good is a morning without those things? On to the day! Happy weekend!

October 29, 2014

Toto Knits

Sometimes you have the privilege of coming across something that really speaks to all of your parts. It's rare, because we are mostly complicated beings with lots of interests and beliefs and opinions and ideas. And so when you find those things that really resonate, it is practically a moral obligation to share. 

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Erin about a company called Toto Knits Shop. And I enjoy reading these emails I get from different brands and companies because it's fun to learn about new things. This email though, well, this email was different than just some pitch in my inbox. It was a nice hello and a bit of information, as emails go; but the heart was there, you know? Essentially, Toto Knits is a line of organic cotton knitwear ethically made by a group of single mothers in Kenya. Every piece is handmade and then signed by the knitter. The whole setup is organized to empower the women to create and to trade. 

And so I clicked over to this little Toto Knit Shop because if there is ever a cause to get behind it's empowering women to care for themselves and for their children. I have to admit that I wasn't expecting to be impressed by the products, but oh my gosh was I wrong. These designs are unique and on-trend and so beautifully and delicately done. Erin said, "Pick out something for the girls," and so I did! Right away!

These sweaters arrived from Kenya last week. I wish I could pass them around to each of you, so you could feel the soft, organic fabric; so you could study the expert construction; so you could hold the tag where Selah put her name to her loving, gorgeous work. She should be so proud and I hope she knows that her creations were excitedly received and worn. I practically welled up unwrapping the package and turning over each item, moved that something so exquisite could also mean so much.

So this is one of those things, those rare glorious things, that I feel morally obligated to share--that I am excited to be morally obligated to share. This shop, this cause, these people and their skills are worth your attention and your support. 

Lucky for you, Toto Knits is offering all readers a special 20% discount. Just enter coupon code: hearthabit at checkout. With a  deal like that, buy two sweaters at least!

I am required by law to disclose that I received free Toto Knits products in exchange for this post. All opinions regarding these products and the company are my own. 

October 27, 2014

Natural: Deodorant (Take 1)

I started this Natural series back in Denver, awhile ago now, at a time when I wanted to make some conscious lifestyle alterations. Incorporating some natural practices into the way we lived encouraged a healthy lifestyle, made sure nothing went to waste, and helped us pinch pennies too. We tried to find budget-friendly ways of eating healthy (like growing a garden); and I found out that the purest cleaning agents are actually the cheapest. I tried a lot of natural changes to my beauty routine, making my own skin scrub and dry shampoo, trying a natural shaving lotion

Despite these changes, there was one frontier I had yet to brave. That's right. I'm talking about deodorant. The internet is quite clear that the stuff is basically made of cancer, and it's not like it's difficult to find recipes for a homemade version. And while I prefer not smelling, I think mostly I was feeling rather loyal to my Dove deodorant--its light, sweet scent, its moisturizing effects, and the fact that it worked so well.

But I was starting to feel guilty opening up my bathroom cabinet. I have replaced nearly everything with homemade products or at least natural products on which I'm willing to splurge a bit of money. Still, there was that deodorant mocking me. So I gave it a go. I used this recipe. It was fast, easy. Great! It's a bit weird applying deodorant with my fingers, but oh well! A drop of essential oil gave it a great scent. And for the first few days, I was sure it was really working. After all, I hoofed it all the way to Park Slope on the train and felt nary a drop of perspiration in my underarm area.

While it seems to work as an antiperspirant, I'm not so sure about the deodorant part. Too intimate here? I'm sorry. I woke up...less than fresh? That seems delicate enough. And it was really quite shocking, this not really having been a problem of mine before. But sure enough, there I was loading the washer in the laundry room and I was confronted with, well, myself. And I'd prefer to not be contributing in that way to the general odor of NYC trains and taxis.

This is one of the first homemade products I've attempted that hasn't been successful, so I thought it was still worth sharing. It must have worked for someone for it to be floating around Pinterest? I have read that you can adjust these homemade recipes so that they are appropriately pH balanced. Looks like I need to do a bit more research? Either way, I'm going to allow myself the little luxury of the Dove deodorant for now.

I post "Natural" stories from time-to-time as I try to find ways to engage in simpler living. I'm not an expert, just finding my way and happy to share what I learn.

October 21, 2014


There's this line in a Death Cab for Cutie song that I love, which is always true for every Death Cab song. But the particular song in my head now talks about traveling by folding a map in half; and that's what this weekend felt like. We took off, pushing through the outskirts of the city like fighting a tangled mess of rubber bands--and then snap! It was behind us and we were propelled into the countryside, fully dressed in autumnal glory now. So unused to being in such close proximity to numerous places, we treated ourselves to crossing several state borders, just to say we had, and took in the sights of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

I remember very little of my childhood in Connecticut. It was a small chunk of it, after all, but there are fuzzy memories. Our drives through the dense forests down hilly, winding roads lined with orange and red did much to drive them to the front of my mind though, so that even though I haven't been to the place I was born in more than 20 years, it still felt oddly homey to me. Maybe it was those first views of the world scrapbooked somewhere inside my head. 

Of course, it could have just as easily been that it all reminded me of a different place entirely. A light fog crept low through all the trees and reflected a silvery light between its back and the clouds. The greens were as green as spring, dampened by the air; and all the other colors were saturated, neon, more vibrant than I could have imagined. Unexpected gaps in the trees offered prime views of valleys, sometimes of those patchwork forest tops; but also of pastures, all divided up by stone walls. I had worn wellies just hoping it would be like that, and it wasn't until I got out and sunk down into the soft grass just a bit that it struck me what it felt like: England. 

So whether the birthplace of my body or the place pieces of my heart were born, the point is that I have always been drawn to such a place and I felt completed a bit somehow, being there. All the while, I couldn't help looking over at Trevor during the drive, thinking about how he is always making my dreams come true and that, while I don't expect him to complete me, he does. It's not that he has all the traits I don't and so together we are a whole person. I don't think love works that way. It's that he strives to build the life I always dreamed of, to make the desires of my heart my realities. He knows the person I am, and he also seems to know the person I want to be. He loves both of those people equally, and he likes to help me close the space between them. This weekend, there I was, and there she was--we stood together as the same person on top of a mountain (well, hill) looking out over the colors of fall in New England. Check that off the bucket list.

We stayed in Woodstock at a little white inn, that was quite possibly constructed from the stuff of my daydreams. There were gravel paths to the meadows and trees out back; a cutting garden bursting with bright pinks and red; pumpkins peeked out of hiding places and along the rocked gates or maybe set high atop the wall of chopped firewood, some of which would be used for the fire at breakfast the next morning. We'd had our fill of exploring outside just as the storm blew in and the leaves fluttered from the trees foreshadowing the rain. At dinner, my darling girls sat up straight in their chairs like princesses and ate their fruit cups and sipped their juices from fancy glasses and finished their pasta without being coaxed, like they knew their exquisite behavior during mommy and daddy's anniversary dinner was the best gift that could be given.

Just when I thought there was no more idyllic way to spend a day, we decided the next morning to pick some pumpkins before the journey back to the city. And we found this little farm, built by hand and toiled over in love, where chickens and geese roamed the fields by the pond and the baby calves anxiously stuck their noses through the barn doors to be pet by the little hands that belonged to squealing girls. There we rode around in old carts and chose the pumpkins we liked best, and with the morning dew not yet dried, we had the place to ourselves to boot. "What a place to grow up," Trevor said; and just like that, we had the pangs of how much we love the countryside settled in our hearts for just a bit. 

We head back to the city, and the traffic was brutal. The trek was long and hard. Still, a sense of humor was abounding and the radio seemed keen on tossing us some old high school favorites. We danced and laughed and had bubble-blowing contests with BubbleTape. Then we finally crossed the water and there was the city, standing tall and majestic and proud, and it was so funny to think, "I'm home." I looked over at Trevor once more, and I thought again about how he is always making my dreams come true.