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

Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser Is A Beacon of Light for New Moms

The first few weeks of motherhood is a haze. Everyone tells you “it’s hard work”, but in my opinion, it is more akin to walking through a fog. Between mourning the loss of my previous life and navigating a new body mutilated by child-birth, it’s no wonder post-partum depression gets the attention it deserves. My soul was in transition between the death and birth of a self. Like floating somewhere in the in-between, with no direction to go. So it may sound cliche when I say that Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser served as a beacon of light for this new mama, but do hear me out.

Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser is exactly what every mother needs and wants for those early post-partum days. This beautiful bedside bestie is a beacon of light for nursing moms. A soft yellow glow keeps feedings calm thus allowing baby to fall right back asleep once finished. The diffuser itself keeps mama grounded with scents that remind her this is where she’s meant to be. That everything is in place, as foreign as it may feel.

Before the Glow Diffuser, I was a groggy mess in the evenings. Night-time was the darkest. Getting up was a pain. I hated the disruption of my slumber. Casey was fussy, and I was always on edge. Since introducing Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser into my routine, my night-feedings have become much more enjoyable. The scents cut straight through the fog. Aroma therapy at its finest. And it’s as if Casey picked up on it, too! If babies can truly pick up on our emotions, then we could use a lot more zen, mamas.

The light doubles as a task light for times when Casey is sleeping in the bed-side bassinet but I am not quite ready to retire. They say sleep when baby sleeps, but sometimes what you really need is to reclaim a bit of your time. I can read a book in bed with the Glow Diffuser on my nightstand. I can also move it to my desk space on the other side of the bedroom and work. Sometimes my husband and I speak in hushed whispers about parenthood before drifting off to sleep. The light mimics romantic candlelight, perfect for relaxation and easing into bed. And if we happen to fall asleep before turning it off, then it’s no brighter than a nightlight and none of us would know any better.

Vitruvi hands down makes some of the prettiest diffusers on the market. They are elegant, timeless, and modern in that minimalist way. Their stone diffusers have taken over every influencer’s home, but for me, the Glow Diffuser is what fits in mine. It is tiny, which is perfect for our small space. It is light and portable, which is great for movement (whether that’s from room to room or for our travels). There are two possible settings: continuously running for 4 hours, or intermittently running for 8. Because of its size, it doesn’t take much water to fill the tank, and I am shocked that it lasts the full four hours run-time!

I like that the scent is strong enough to fill a corner of the room, without being over-powering. The confinement of scent is a good feature to have when there’s a baby sharing the space. I can enjoy the soothing benefits of Vitruvi’s amazing scents without overwhelming Casey’s developing senses.

Vitruvi boasts luscious oil blends, which have many benefits for mood. I would highly recommend Vitruvi’s Signature Kit. It features blended scents that encapsulates this time period in a mama’s life. Legacy blend reminds me who I was before and motivates me to reclaim parts of my previous self. Sleep blend nourishes me in the now and gets me to rest when I need to. Pacific blend gives me a taste of the outdoors when I’m stuck at home, making it easier to stay present. And Golden blend is a sneak peek of what’s to come – the beacon of light on the darkest of days.

Since being gifted the Glow Diffuser for Mother’s Day, I have felt the fog lift. The scents cut through the haze, providing me with some clarity as to my new role in his life. I’m starting to retain bits of myself while adapting to someone new. Every mama could use that. Because of this, Vitruvi’s Glow Diffuser goes on my top 5 things every newborn mammy needs.

Vitruvi is a company elevating homes with their gorgeous diffusers and luscious scents. This post was sponsored by Vitruvi who kindly gifted us their Glow Diffuser and their Signature Kit of essential oils blends. The links in this post are affiliate links from which The Debtist may receive a small commission shall you decide to purchase Vitruvi products. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own, as well as all creative content.

Simple Things: Baby Gym

Of all the hand-me-downs I received, this eco-friendly, collapsible play gym is my favorite. I love the story behind this play gym. It was gifted to me by a high-school best-friend whose two boys have outgrown it. She packed it in her luggage on a recent visit home, along with a bag of clothes which the boys have also outgrown. To forgo luggage space whilst traveling by plane with two children is a sacrifice. Going beyond that to lug it to me meant the world.

When I thanked her profusely for making the effort, she brushed me off gracefully. She even demonstrated how to put it back together. It took her less than a minute to reassemble it in my living room. No tools required! When in folded position, it’s easy to carry by the top bar. The gym slides nicely in a crevice between the couch and the wall. A perfect tiny space solution for a tiny person like me!

One might notice one of the dangling toys feature a green ribbon. This is a result of her husband accidentally stepping on the gym and breaking the wooden ring from which the toy originally hung. Instead of chucking the gym set because of the accident, she resourcefully remedied it in her own, simple way. Mike and I also made an addition to the gym set. In the middle we hung Mike’s cousin’s hand-made macrame planter. (His cousin also made a macrame paci-holder for baby which I adore.) With this play gym, it’s easy to add and subtract hangings from the bar. The legs on either side unscrew from the rod, allowing you to slip in more dangling points of interest.

This beautiful gym looks amazing in any space. It is light, portable, and easy to disassemble. Despite the light weight, it’s sturdy too! And the wood material looks minimal but feels luxe. Since we want to teach our baby about human impact on the environment, we prefer toys and books made with wood, cardboard, or paper over plastic. Our closest friends and family know this of us. We also did not list any toys or books on our curated, minimalist baby registry, which limited the amount we received. Another of our friends gifted us these wood toys by Gathre, and this local toy shop contains other great options for new parents who wish to be mindful over their toy selection too.

I am not sure what brand this gym is, but similar ones can be found online under the brand Poppyseed. There’s this Black and Wood one at West Elm, and this all natural one at Baby List.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Third Trimester Essentials

Before baby arrives, I wanted to jot down a few things that I found especially wonderful during my third trimester. I survived this pregnancy generally unscathed by the usual discomforts. But still, the third trimester was the most challenging, physically and energetically. I combated that by taking care of myself with skin-care routines, occasional manicures, and plenty of sleep. I avoided purchasing most things during my pregnancy, but found that some items around the home were life-savers. For example, I reached for our decorative lumbar pillow every night, as substitute for the pregnancy pillows I never bought. I also relinquished my frugality for items such as an exercise ball to sit on (honestly the most comfortable seat in the house) and a pair of new Birkenstocks (the most comfortable shoe to walk around in). If I could give choose ONE item, though, it’s the water bottle with a sippy straw for me! Lastly, I made the most of my personal time, as I hear you don’t get much after baby arrives. I read books and blogs, digested podcasts, and wrote and journaled as much as I could.

Of course, everyone’s pregnancy is different. The creature comforts and third trimester discomforts range widely. I’d love to hear what essentials you found useful in your third trimester!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Curating Closets: Slip-Ons

I love me a good jandal, as the Kiwis call them. Slip-ons are my practical, everyday go-to. And when it comes to the category, Birkenstocks are the ones that stand-out for me. Some would say they aren’t pretty, but they look good to me. Something about their Nordic simplicity really resonates. Honestly, the design of their shoes equally match Tokyo-style as much as Parisian fashion. More importantly, Birks are ergonomic, sustainable, versatile and surprisingly form-fitting. These babies are worth the price-point and so much more.

My first experience with Birkenstocks

I remember when I bought my first pair. I was in dental school with nary a penny to my name, and millions of pennies to the government’s name. My now-husband and then two-roommates were at the beach in South Bay. We just finished a morning of fantasy football viewing at our favorite pub, and the boys were heading to the sand to throw a frisbee around and fall asleep. I remember two of them getting sun-burnt after taking an hour nap.

I went to visit the Birkenstock carrier at the boardwalk. My now-husband who was already working at the time bought me my first pair. I felt like it was a splurge. It was a Nubuck leather Arizona sandal, in a taupe color with silver buckles. I remember picking one out from the kids section, simply because it was cheaper. A size too small, but fits none-the-less. I wore those Birks every chance I got, until it eventually fell apart.

My Birkenstock Sandal Journey

Since then I’ve also owned the Madrid sandal in their water-proof, synthetic EVA material. I love those for beach and pool days, washing the car, or simply for stepping outside at anytime there was a chance of wet feet. Those sandals lasted at least five years. At less than $40 a pair, I would say it was a great investment.

But it was the baker days that turned me onto the Boston Birkenstock slip-ons. My forever favorite. Of all the Birks I’ve loved before, these have been the most sturdy, functional, and useful. I remember early morning shifts laden in flour, my black Birkenstocks contrasting white powder while I stood for hours manning ovens, mixing dough, and topping off pastries. I originally got them because they covered my toes and were slip-resistant, which were essential for my work. They eventually became my every-day shoe.

After I moved on from the bakery and opened my dog-sitting business RMV Tail & Paws, they became my dog-walking shoe. Whether it was 6am in the morning or 9pm at night, there was no sneaker that could compete with the ease of these slip-ons. Likewise, I would wear them with my fancy Eileen Fisher Wool Coat, or a denim summer dress. As long as I wasn’t planning to run or do any physical activity, I would opt for the Boston clogs. After marrying my husband, I had outgrown my insecurities about being tall and decluttered all my heels and wedges. Now I go for comfort over style.

So let’s talk price.

You may be thinking, Birkenstocks are not frugal purchases at all. But I reframe cost into value. When I buy a pair of shoes, I consider how often I wear those shoes in my calculations. Essentially, a shoe I wear every day gets more value per dollar than a shoe that is fancily tucked away in a box for special occasions. It isn’t the dollar amount itself that matters, but rather, the worth of those dollars.

As a caveat, there is what I would call a ‘learning curve’ with Birkenstocks. It takes a while for your feet to get accustomed to the fit. The cork sole does mold to them, but your feet may find the ridges and dips a bit discomforting at first. To be fair, they’ve been used to flat, unsupported shoes for so long. But these, my friend, are game-changers. Like all good things, it takes time.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Small Space Living: Baby Carts

Creative storage solution ideas abound when it comes to small spaces. Making do with what we’ve got is kind of my forte. It is not something to brag about, per se, but I am proud none-the-less of my baby cart. In essence, I took an Ikea Nissafors pushcart that I was using as a WFH desk storage solution and remedied it into a portable, all-carrying baby dresser on wheels. Baby dressers on the market cost anywhere between $100-$1000 these days, but my baby cart sells for a mere $30! Plus, I already owned it. I consolidated my WFH items into a storage bin within our media console and called it a day. But first, let me gush about the pushcart.

What Is On the Baby Cart?

Since we are co-rooming with our baby for the first three months during our work leave, we wanted to keep the essentials in our room. This included things like newborn clothes, swaddles, reusable diapers, diaper wipes, and bathing essentials in our tiny space upstairs. Technically, we have a closet designated for his stuff downstairs, but when it comes to daily necessities, only a few truly qualify. Those few are kept on our handy cart to avoid going up and down the stairs. I envision us living almost entirely on the second floor for our entire work leave.

We have already accumulated a wide range of clothing options, socks, shoes, hats, swim suits, toys and books before baby is even born. But the months by which these correspond to his development and growth vary as well. I’ve stowed away items by 3-month segments in that designated closet downstairs for later use. We will only bring the most relevant few items to the main living space (the second floor). They just all happen to fit on the pushcart.

So what qualifies as essential? Accessories such as shoes and hats do not belong on the cart. The shoes and hats can be nabbed on the way out the door downstairs. Likewise, bathing suits do not have space in the cart. I doubt we will bring baby to the pool before three months of age anyways. Toys and books go in a bin and stow away in a corner of our space. Therefore, they also don’t need to go on the cart. Which makes me wonder, why does one need a huge dresser for a baby, honestly?

All of this curation is a natural element to small space living, but comes quite unnaturally. It took years of practice to pare down true needs from wants. But it allows us to save space and money. I consider it a frugal muscle worth working out.

Why I Love the Cart

The Ikea Nissafors cart is slim, light, and highly portable. Measuring less than 12 inches wide and 20 inches long, the cart fits perfectly in tiny nooks and crannies. I store it in our closet next to our equally slim Ikea hamper and it hardly takes up room. When we move it from room to room (say to change a diaper or change an outfit), it can post up neatly against a wall without being in the way.

I love that it has wheels as well. We can cart it to the guest bathroom by the kitchen where we plan to bathe baby in the sink using a Friday Baby soft-sink bath. We also plan to change baby either on the bed using a foldable diaper changing pad or sheet. It was the way my mum did it when she cloth-diapered us to potty training age.

The cart has seriously been a god-send in our home. It’s a variable piece that I can see myself using for a very long time. We eventually plan to sleep train our son at 4-6 months of age, which will then bring him to the nursery room downstairs. By then, he will be in the same room as his closet. With that transition, we will no longer need the baby cart upstairs, which can be relegated as a pantry shelf, a coffee cart, or general caddy.

File Folder System

I have been meaning to address, for years, our current filing system. Prior to the pandemic, my husband used to own a blocky Restoration Hardware desk that housed a filing cabinet on one side. The desk was a heavy metal drag, weighing at over 80 pounds. At the time of purchase, it matched our Industrial loft (the one we rented) but after moving into a more minimalist space, we decided to upgrade it to a Herman Miller Sit-Stand desk. It was ideal for my husband who was transitioning to WFH, a situation that has lasted to this day.

With the loss of the filing cabinet we relegated all important documents to a storage bin. After moving a third time to an even smaller condo, the bin has been stowed in a shoe closet underneath the stairs. Out of sight, out of mind. But the messiness of the situation every time I had to find a file was driving me mad. I went back and forth between alternative storage options. For months, I debated over minimalist filing cabinets on wheels. My favorite happened to be Branch Furniture’s miniature system in white. But did I want to store yet another furniture piece by my minimalist WFH desk, which may be going away with the addition of a baby crib in the coming months?

I held out for a permanent solution for years. Every time I started to lose it with the unsightly temporary solution, I took a deep breath, and stock. At the best of times, I tried to keep things as organized as possible using file folders. At the worst of times, I simply threw papers haphazardly into the bin for a later date. Breathe, and walk away. Sometimes, that’s the solution.

The solution came whilst perusing baby items at Target. I was walking by the stationary aisle (as I returned organizational baskets I did not need, AGAIN), when one single clear bin caught my eye. It was this plastic hanging file crate with lid.

I have since purchased and taken home said file crate and finished a project that I’ve long been ignoring. Which is to say, I went through every document we had on file and decluttered what we did not need. Papers that could be digitized and uploaded were done so. Medical receipts, for example, were photographed and uploaded onto our HSA account for reimbursement. It is a task I have been avoiding for far too long! One might argue that I could digitize all paperwork but I am a paper person at the end of the day, and want to keep the most important ones at hand.

There is so much to fall in love with this product. I love the lid which protects our papers from dust. I love the handles on the bin that make carrying the crate out of the closet easier. Notches on either side allow for hanging file folders and better organization. Overall, it is light, easy to move around, and easy to store. Plus, it looks absolutely minimalist.

When it comes to tiny spaces, tiny wins are BIG.

A Place to Rest with a Kind Bassinet

This post is written in partnership with Dock-A-Tot. They’ve created a sustainable bassinet option that is both affordable and practical. More importantly, they have done so without comprising good design or function. We have been gifted their Kind Bassinet to try, along with a nursing pillow and swaddle set. All opinions herein are my own. I receive no commissions for any of the Dock-A-Tot products shall you choose to purchase from my links after reading this review. I simply believe in the product and want to share what Dock-A-Tot has made. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that support this space.

A road of sleepless nights and parental unrest lies before us, or so we are told. Preparing for a newborn is much like preparing for battle. Make sure you’ve got the right gear, good training, a general idea of what you’re up against, and comrades to back you up. We are still stuck on the gear part. When it comes to gathering baby arsenal, let me be the first to say that we are of the pared-back type. It may not be your cup of tea. You can judge for yourself by looking at our curated baby registry list. However, there have been a few items that we wanted on hand right away. One of which was a place to rest. Dock-A-Tot recently released their Kind Essential Bassinet, and it fit the bill of sustainable, simple, safe and slow.

Kind to Earth

Dock-A-Tot’s Kind Essential Bassinet is fully sustainable. It is made of responsibly harvested corrugated cardboard (WHAT?!) that folds flat for portability. The light-weight allows petite mamas such as myself to carry it around the house and on travels effortlessly. Plus it ships for less! The cardboard acts as the frame of the bassinet, and a Sorona foam core mattress lies on top of the cardboard base. It comes with a machine washable, OEKO-TEK standard 1 certified cotton sheet as well. Shipped in a box that doubles as a carrying case (reuse, recycle), this bassinet is as easy to stow away as it is to assemble. Plus, with each bassinet purchase, a tree in planted on baby’s behalf.

Things I like about the box. It is fully recyclable. Simply remove mattress and sheet, and place box in recycle bin. But not so fast! A better option is to up-cycle the box. This could serve as a toy bin, doll crib, pet-bed, and more. Store their favorite books for easy reach. Use it to corral their toys. I would even consider using this as an organizing bin inside the closet or pantry. With boxes, the possibilities are endless.

Kind to Mama

With this bassinet, we can walk down the street to grandparents’ house and have a place to rest baby and mama’s tired arms. That is, without lugging more stuff that would require a car or wagon. It is also easy to move from room to room. Sometimes, mama just needs her space. Being able to put this bassinet in the living room so that someone else can have baby duty while mama gets some shut-eye is heavenly. Bonus points for the fact that any of the grandparent’s can lift this, too! The bassinet weighs a total 5 pounds. Look, in my fourth trimester, I am not planning on carrying ANYTHING, if possible.

Kind to Baby

The Kind Bassinet is a safe space for baby to sleep or nap. The cotton sheet is super soft and the mattress is water-resistant. The sheet is washable in case of accidents during those early months of life. I know baby will be comfortable on the Sorona foam mattress, which by the way is made up of 37% plant-based recycled fibers! Producing Sorona® uses 30% less energy and releases 63% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the production of nylon 6. At the end of the day, the product you get is a firm, flat surface on which to lay baby down while being mindful of your impact.

The Kind Bassinet is compliant with US standards applicable to bassinets and meets children’s product safety standards. Just ensure that it sits firmly on the floor, and has no additional products inside while baby is sleeping. Of course, this works best in a pet-free home. Curious critters may want to snuggle along with your babe, so always keep an eye.

Kind to Our Wallet

As a frugalist, I always talk price. The price of the Dock-A-Tot bassinet is at a mere $119, thereby making it one of the more affordable bassinet options out there. Sure, it isn’t fancy. It doesn’t rock or wheel. But it is space saving, and in an urban, minimalist tiny home, that is the exact thing we need right now. It stores away quickly and well. It moves. The thing is, when it comes to adding a member of the family to a home, the question of space and whether there is enough of it will come up. This was the FIRST concern both of our parents had. But small living is a choice many young people make, because frankly, it is financially savvy. Any product that provides function given a small footprint is a winner in my world.

Final notes:

The Kind Essential Bassinet was designed well, in beautifully colored prints that engage baby’s imagination during awake time. There are many prints to choose from, all of which keep the home looking stylish. We chose to go with the Strawberry Thief print, to match my Dock-A-Tot nursing pillow (La Maman Wedge). However, I also liked the Willow Boughs print for a woodsy vibe. The prints are sealed with a non-toxic protective varnish that makes clean-up easy. Cute pedestal feet add stability and ornate detail to this cardboard box. Tool-free assembly takes me less than 30 seconds. Simply open the carboard box, lay down the base, followed by the mattress.

As we will both be partly working from home (me with the blog and dog-sitting, and him on a hybrid schedule), we need a place to set our loved one down nearby. This bassinet can be at the foot of our desks, by the couch, near the bed … anywhere else for that matter.

Bottom line: baby stuff is required for such a short period of time. Anything we can do to reduce the waste for 6 months of life is something worthwhile. I could croon all day about design and beauty, function and fit, but let’s be real. The sustainability that this bassinet option provides puts what we are doing as parents into perspective. Babies of the past have thrived on waaaay less stuff. Forego the most complicated bassinets that add to the headache, the bulky cradles that require an upgrade in living space, or the expensive tech that forces you to pick up additional work days. Your baby simply wants to be near you. You want them to have a safe space. And you want rest. This Kind Bassinet provides.