Casey’s Camping Themed Nursery

Seven months later, we’ve finally decided on a theme for Casey’s bedroom: Camping and the Wild Outdoors! While the space theme has swept many parents away, I wanted Casey to grow up grounded. Instead of chasing the stars, I want him to look around and appreciate Mother Earth. We are hoping that by putting an emphasis on the great outdoors, he will grow up grateful for what he has rather than look to the future all the time. I know that sounds woo-woo, but I believe there is something in teaching our children to connect to nature and the world from which we came. Wonder at the stars instead of trying to capture them. Let someone else live out the future. Be in the present. That kind of thing.

We gave a preview of his bedroom a few weekends back when we posted an Instagram Reel of the Photowall wallpaper we chose. It got an astonishing reception, piquing many of your interests. While the room is still unfinished, I decided to share with you the products we are using to create his themed bedroom. We are converting his play gym into a tent and creating a library corner so he can have a space to pore over books. We are buying those stick-on Glow In the Dark stars so he has something to stare at on those nights he has difficulty sleeping. A hot air balloon ceiling light mimics Japanese paper lanterns to remind him of his first international trip. And a Long Live Boyhood sign over his bed reminds me to cherish these fleeting moments that only last a few years more. I hope you like it!

Building a Camping Themed Nursery

+ The wallpaper

+ This Play Tent

+ A Hot Air Balloon Ceiling Light

+ Glow In The Dark Stars

+ Galaxy Projector

+ Long Live Boyhood Sign

+ This Lantern

+ Oranges Play Mat

+ This Mushroom Pouf

+ Bunting

Play Pretend: Maternity Leave Hibernation

I would be a comedian if I said I was hibernating. What I consider “slowing down” would be a normal person’s every day. But I am technically on maternity leave … from dentistry and dog-walks. Never mind that I am currently house-sitting / dog-sitting for a family on Spring Break to Hawaii until Easter, as I type on my personal blog and dream of opening a coffee shop. But this IS my version of doing nothing. As consolation, I am away from my home where I would otherwise be organizing, cleaning, and preparing for baby to arrive. After all, there are only so many ways to re-stage the pantry. At least this other stuff isn’t active physical labor. But for my play pretend maternity leave hibernation, a little list of essentials that I find help me to relax.

Maternity Leave Hibernation

  • Wooly socks. I’ve been curling up with good books recently, and these are a must!
  • Reliable slip-ons. Bought myself a new pair to replaceable my age-old ones. These are my go-to for everything.
  • Maternity lounge wear or jammies
  • Favorite candles, Spring aroma.
  • The perfect mug, for coffee or tea. Tiny, light-weight, and a good ergonomic handle.
  • Cozy blanket for the early morning chill.
  • A robe for cocooning.

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Play Pretend: Back-to-School

I cannot believe I am writing this post mid-August. Back in my day, school would resume after Labor Day. If you were lucky, a few extra weeks were granted and your return date would be late September. Then again, I can’t believe I am saying ‘Back in my day’. Times have changed, that’s for sure. So I thought it appropriate that this post also have a different focus for back-to-school.

This is a curated list of things to support college students going back-to-school. It doesn’t comprise of popularity inducing products. Rather, it is a mix of basic essentials that could carry a college student beyond school and could last a long time. This means less hard-earned dollars spent, and less student debt taken out over time. Included are items that would also be of use during stressful times, which there were plenty. Lastly, a few investment items that would overall reduce spending. I truly believe when we have goods that we absolutely love and adore, we don’t really go to the outside world searching for more.

In general, be minimalist, choose timeless pieces, and high-quality goods. Then keep them until they lose function. That is good advice to follow for life.

Back-to-School Essentials

  1. A coffee maker that can make fuel you for the entire day. (In September 2021, The Perfect Brew reports that women spend about $2,327 per year on their coffee habit, while men spend almost $400 less, at $1,934 per year. Save yourself money!)
  2. The only pen and paper you’ll ever need
  3. A smart sleep assistant that also gets you to class on time
  4. This kettle for coffee, tea, and instant cup of ramen noodles
  5. An Anti-Anxiety Therapy Notebook
  6. A reusable water bottle
  7. A toaster for one to reduce your electricity bill (avoid the oven if you can!)
  8. Noise-cancelling earbuds.
  9. One reliable pan to cook all your meals at home – you only need one!
  10. A laptop bag (Does anyone use text books anymore?)
  11. Reusable lunch containers

I wish every student luck on their first day back-to-school.

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Play Pretend: Stress Free Travel

Summer season is just around the bend (can you believe it’s May?!?) and people are starting to pack their travel bags. After two years of disruption and uncertainty, we are slowly easing into travel again. Confining travel to the summer months could become the new norm, since winter is tainted with the edict of flu season. We, ourselves, did all of our international travels in the summer of last year, having met up with my sister in Iceland and Spain. Then we holed up during the winter months, exploring only our home state, California. In light of upcoming travels, I thought I would dedicate this month’s play pretend post to everything one needs for easy packing and stressfree travel.

Stress free travel is all about simplicity. Whether you are jet-setting abroad or flying to a neighboring state, for work or for play, the best thing you can do is pack less and with intention. My travel packing tips have helped others travel like a minimalist so I definitely recommend starting there.

Despite simplicity, there is an argument for adding items to your journey that make it better. The trick, in my opinion, is counting tidbits for self-care essential. Self-care can instill a sense of peace in the same way simplicity can. And peace is joyful. Joy is the natural antidote to stress and is a famous tranquilizer of the nervous system. Keep it simple, yes, but take aboard the micro-comforts. Here are my current favorites.

Stress Free Travel Essentials

  1. Set of beige packing cubes from Monos $90
  2. Travel Jewelry Case from Cuyana $98
  3. Laptop Backpack from Calpak $128
  4. Pocket Friendly Hand Sanitizer from Noshinku $9
  5. Favorite Travel Mug and Bottle from Kinto $32.50
  6. Destination Coffee Magazines from Drift $28
  7. Ginger Flight Aromatherapy from Aesop $33
  8. Hydrating Hand Balm from Aesop $31
  9. Sateen Eye Mask from Coyuchi $18
  10. Nutrient Mist from True Botanicals $24
  11. Portable Steamer from Steamery $130
  12. Clear Liquids Container from Truffle $45
  13. Cozy Cotton Marled Socks from Parachute $19
  14. Luggage tag shaped portable charging bank from Calpak $32

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A Rainy Day Starter Kit

Rainy season is here and I have put together a rainy day starter kit for Fall! I absolutely love the rain. As a kid, I used to post up by the window panes and feel the thrum of raindrops as I read a book. As a teenage, I loved to hide under the blankets and listen to music or talk to my friends. Adult me is about the same. I now love drinking coffee, writing on my blog, and flitting across Pinterest on rainy days.

It may seem weird to say, but I do like to set up my surroundings on rainy days. That’s why I made this rainy day starter kit! I’ve got to create the right atmosphere before settling into the cold, gloom, and rhythmic lull. This means pillowy blankets, candles, coffeehouse music, and quiet spaces. I create forts where the cat would find me. I dim the lights and play pretend I’m in the Nordic North. My attire matches the event by wearing dark colors, and itchy socks. Together, I’ve wrangled a list of things you need to make the most of your next rainy day.

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Play Pretend: A Morning At Your Work Desk

After writing about my new String work desk yesterday, I started to daydream about ideal mornings at my new ”office space”. When I first quit dentistry, I was very unhappy with where I was working. I spent an entire month brainstorming why things did not work out. I read books on how to organize your work space, how to make your work line up with your dharma, how to create a good work-life-balance, and how to create an environment that increases the chance of happiness at work. Books I read included Joy at Work by Marie Kondo, The Kinfolk Entrepreneur, and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I learned that my previous job did not align with my dharma. The environment I was placed in was not conducive to my personality.

I spent days writing lists of what items I imagined would be in my ideal workspace. Some of my requirements included a carafe of water, a beautiful everyday coffee mug, a minimalist laptop, a few plants, a scent diffuser or candle and a beautiful pen. I also jotted down activities I would like to do each morning. I thought about how items could help me to achieve things I wanted to do.

For example, a beautiful carafe of water be a great reminder to drink 8 glasses of water each day. A beautiful coffee mug will make fueling my energy more enjoyable or meaningful. A minimalist laptop will allow me to work on blog posts without distractions. A big work desk will help facilitate multiple tasks. A few plants will keep me joyful and breathing quality air. Meanwhile, a scent diffuser could help emit aromas that create a calm atmosphere. Lastly, a beautiful pen would inspire me to plan wonderfully productive days.

On the flipside, I also wrote down items I did not want in my space. I did not want a clock anywhere in my office, because I believe that creative work should not have a time frame. I also find the ticking sound distracting and stressful. Plus I would be ever-conscious of my progress, or lack-there-of.

I did not want a lot of drawers as I knew I have the habit of stock-piling paper. I did not want an insane number of pens (do you know I use one at a time and own no more than three?), as I get frustrated by clutter. And I did not want to face the inside of my home, because it would cause me to get up from my desk and do chores and errands. This is why my desk used to face the dark corner of the living room, and now faces out onto the street.

This isn’t to say that our work depends solely on the stuff we own, but it does make a difference. I find that having the right items really make or break my productivity level. Also, surrounding myself with special items make work more enjoyable. So in today’s play pretend post, I imagine all the things that I would love to eventually surround myself with in my future work space.

A Morning At My Work Desk

  1. A water carafe (affiliate link) as a reminder to drink plenty of water.
  2. A daily coffee mug that’s beautiful to use.
  3. A thick throw (affiliate link) for colder mornings.
  4. An accessory tray (affiliate link) that works as a pen holder as well as a coaster.
  5. A candleholder to write by firelight.
  6. A diffuser (affiliate link) to create a calm environment.
  7. A narrow filing cabinet to organize paperwork by.
  8. A plant baby for reviving the space.
  9. A desk lamp (affiliate link) that’s adjustable but doesn’t get in the way of work.
  10. A laptop dock (affiliate link) when it’s time to clock out.

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Play Pretend: Spring Refresh

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I view Springtime as a marker for starting anew. I rally my energy to refresh our home in preparation for the warm months ahead, and to shed behind the winter blues. Not that California has much of that to begin with. Like a sprightly elf, I tick away at my ultimate cleaning list with renewed fervor, even though the New Year was not too far gone. I lovingly make our home airy and light, which is to say, I declutter, shuffle, and rearrange to my heart’s content, and then some.

When I say Spring refresh, I do not mean shopping for a doozy of new decor, such as pastel wreaths and cheeky doormats. Rather, I perform a list of simple things using what I already have to spruce up the home and make it feel and look revitalized, without actually a fresh load of stuff. I throw away the unwanted things, tidy the clutter into hidden boxes, wipe down every surface, and fluff the cushions. I wash the pillows, flip the mattress, throw open the curtains (and the windows with it) and water all the plants I’ve already collected. I imagine that everything is new, by making them feel new. This is a play pretend series, after all. Of course, all of this with the help of some of my favorite things.

+My favorite cleaning appliance, zooming along.
+An eco-conscious all purpose cleaner, my reusable spray bottle and a pile of white rags.
+Our crisp and buttery duvet set in muted ivory, flipped over from the winter sage green.
+Pillows that take you straight to Dreamland, freshly washed once a year.
+A floral scent to set the mood, lit in the afternoon before meal preps.
+A fruit bowl to decorate the farm table with, piled high with citrus picked from the parent’s neighborhood.
+A natural jute rug for bare feet, and painted toe nails.
+Bringing the outdoors in, on a monthly basis.
+A purifier to clear the air, and allergies.
+A flower vase to accentuate a shelf, or something similar that also happens to hold fruit-infused water.

If you’d like to make your house feel anew, without spending money to do so, I would highly recommend rallying friends and family, or your inner gusto, and completing this ultimate cleaning list that I wrote for neatniks out there. It is seriously the best.

Care to see more play pretends? Right this way.

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Play Pretend: Sleep

I believe sleep is a method of self-care. When I feel worn thin, I turn to sleeping more as a form of treatment. In this play pretend post, I imagine the ideal space for a good night’s rest. Good sleep isn’t fashioned out of thin air. Many factors play a role. Setting up for sleep success involves creating just the right environment and surroundings. Take note of these sleep essentials, and start getting better sleep today!

Ways to Improve Sleep

There are many ways to improve sleep. The first rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of blue light exposure before bed. Blue-light comes from screens. Studies show that avoiding blue light at least two hours before bed increases sleep dramatically. Other forms of light can also decrease sleep quality. Heavy duty curtains can prevent outdoor light from shining into the bedroom and are a great investment. A cheaper option would be a sleep mask for the eyes for each individual. Anything it takes to reduce light exposure!

On top of sleeping in a darkened room, an ergonomic mattress has been shown to greatly improve quality of sleep. Investing in a high-quality mattress changes lives. We highly recommend the Leesa Memory Foam Mattress. Everyone in our social circle swears by it! We personally own a Leesa mattress topper and Leesa pillows. You can read my review of Leesa here.

An added priority should be sheets that are friendly to the skin and worth sinking into. Imagine trying to get good sleep in itchy sheets. Or sheets that keep you too warm. Worse, imagine being cold at night. I used to always wake up as a child with cold feet and hands. Sometimes I woke up a few times over the course of the evening! I never realized it was because I did not have warm enough sheets, but now I look back and realize that it caused me to have restless sleep.

Lastly, humidity control and replenishing masks allow skin to recuperate overnight. Humidity is very important as it helps with our airway and proper breathing. Have you ever woken up with an itchy throat and started coughing in the middle of the night? Or have you ever needed to get up to drink a glass of water? These situations are caused by air that is too dry. Check out my list of modern humidifier recommendations in this post.

Essentials for Better Sleep

In an effort to create the ideal micro-environment for decent shut-eye, here are a list of home favorites that set me up for sleep success.

Better Sleep Habits

In an effort to stray from the indication that good sleep requires spending, here are a list of free actionable tips to improve your sleep.

  • Maintain consistency in following your natural circadian rhythms.
  • Avoid screens up to two hours prior to bedtime.
  • Drink a glass of water prior to sleeping and upon awakening.
  • Quiet the mind in the form of meditation.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Consider when you eat. Go to bed satiated, not hungry or full.

Of course, a combination of both creating the right environment and doing the right actions creates the best results. You may also find relevance in the following posts.

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