Home: A Good Night’s Sleep with Leesa Mattress Topper

This post is sponsored by Leesa, a mattress company devoted to helping others get good sleep.

It seems as if immediately after the passing of my thirtieth trip around the sun, my body began to show signs of wear. It’s true what they say, although any twenty-nine year old will disagree. When you enter your thirties, you start to notice aches and pains in parts of your body that you didn’t even know had feelings. A crick in the neck becomes a resounding pop with a slight turn of the head, resulting in a moment of starry-eyed dizziness. A stressful day at work leads to a soreness in the jaw due to a severe teeth-grinding habit. A simple exercise leads to a sharp painful complaint from the heel of your foot every time you hyper-extend. But worst of all is the start of a new day, waking up to a slew of back and joint aches.

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I am a dentist, so that doesn’t exactly help. Static postures similar to anyone who has ever had a desk job and scrunching to contort myself into tiny mouth spaces are both daily occurrences that feed the fire. Bad ergonomics on my end lead to a stiffness in the neck. Some days, I come home with such severe lower back pain that I can’t even sit down. Just recently, I spent an entire Saturday crying because my upper back was spasming between the shoulder blades so that getting up took great effort. I spent the afternoon on my back lying on our living room couch.

It was this particular afternoon that I said, “No more.” For many years, I had known that part of the problem compounding the situation was an ill-fitting mattress. We were twenty-seven and just moving in together when we went mattress shopping for our first space. I had just graduated from dental school and was currently living at my parent’s house. The queen sized mattress that my parent’s handed down to me was pawned off for free after learning that my previous rental space had a termite problem. My 6’3″ husband was ready to give up his double bed, where his feet would hang off unless he chose to slept diagonally across the entire mattress.  Personally, I was happy to sleep anywhere that we can call our own space.

Perhaps that is why, on the hot summer day that we traipsed around and visited three mattress stores, I was very passive about which mattress I wanted. My husband preferred hard mattresses (“the stiffer the better”), and I preferred softer ones. But when the sales person said that it doesn’t matter so much what type of mattress I got because I weighed so little, a comment I now begrudgingly look back on and find appalling, I gave way to whatever mattress my husband decided on. Which inevitably, was hard as a rock.

It has been almost four years since that fateful day but I did notice a worsening of symptoms on most mornings. The problem is that I am a side-sleeper and he is a back-sleeper. I am half his weight and therefore do not make any indentation in the mattress, whereas he sinks in. Imagine sleeping on a hardwood floor on your side, with your back collapsed and your hips and shoulder taking the brunt of the force. I’ve been complaining about it for what seems like forever. The symptoms were getting worse. Unless I want to be completely useless by my mid-thirties, I know that it was time to address it.

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Leesa immediately came to the rescue! As a frugalist who did not want to pay for a brand new mattress in wasteful fashion (ours had originally cost $1,200 on sale and is barely three and a half years old), I thought perhaps the better solution would be to add a mattress topper on our existing mattress. Not only would it be more cost-effective, there would be no mattress lying unwanted by the trash bin in our alley way. I mean, it is, still, usable, albeit uncomfortable. The best part about choosing a mattress topper instead of a brand new mattress altogether is that there can be compromise. If the mattress topper is too unbearably soft for my husband, we can alternate between using it and not using it. Of course, I’m hoping we won’t have to for the next few years.

The Leesa mattress topper arrived on our doorstep in millennial fashion – that is, rolled up like a log in a fairly miniature, minimalist box. It does come in plastic, a minor drawback for any anti-plastic nerd, but a quick slice of it leads to an unfurling of the 2 -inch foam topper. It comes with a removable cover that protects it and is easy to wash cold and hang dry. Suffice to say that set-up was simple and flawless.

After a night’s rest, we noticed that we slept cooler than if we were sleeping atop our mattress directly. We also noted that it did not move around, despite not being tied down. Our Parachute sheets comfortably covered the topper so it was a good thing it wasn’t too thick. I like that it didn’t add much height to our existing bed since we like to sleep low to the floor. I woke up the next day after a peaceful sleep (without waking up once!) feeling rejuvenated. For the first time in a while, my back did not hurt.

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We also paired the mattress topper with a pair of Leesa foam pillows. Prior to Leesa, we had these two king pillows that we found in the sale bin of a Bed, Bath and Beyond. You know, the ones that sit in the center of the aisle so that you have no choice but to practically run into them? They were $15 each. At the time, we were fatigued from all the purchases we were making for our first home together, so we figured it wasn’t a big deal. After sleeping on Leesa’s foam pillows, I realized that we were wrong.

As a person who is invested in preserving the ability to work in my profession, I now realize that proper ergonomic support during sleep is one of the best things I can do to prolong my career and maintain good health. I realize that choosing unsupportive pillows have aged me, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. The rusty joints and heavy limbs have been aggravated by my poor choice in bedding. I can tell because after a night’s sleep, I already feel the difference.

Equally as important as my own personal backstory is Leesa’s dedication to having a good backstory of their own. A company that seems to know I toss and turn at night over the environmental impact that the human species extols on this planet, Leesa is doing all the right things on that front.

For example, their mattresses are CertiPUR-US certified, free of the long list of chemicals that goes into the typical mattress, including flame retardant. You can easily smell this difference after opening a box. There was no chemical scent! And every mattress is made in the USA.

Leesa also helps me to rest easy knowing that I am supporting a company trying to make a social impact. They are working v. hard to help the homeless by donating one mattress for every ten they sell. So far, 37,000 beds have been donated. They have another initiative where a tree is planted for every mattress sold (called The One Earth Program). Their goal is to plant 1 million trees by 2025. This B Corporation really is trying to do good by all.

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I know we are all spending extra time at home these days. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to realize what needs attention. For me, it was this mattress. If you are wanting to improve your health or simply upgrade your bedding situation, give Leesa a try. Their 4th of July sale is in full swing at the moment, which gives you up to $350 OFF mattresses plus a set of free organic sheets (up to $159 in value). They’ll throw in free contactless delivery, too! In case you worry that the mattress will be incompatible, it helps to know that there is a 100-night risk-free trial. Shall you love your new Leesa product like we do, there is a 10 year warranty.

This post was sponsored by Leesa. All thoughts are my own. As always, thank you for supporting brands that support this space. 

Small Space Living

Tip 13: Mason Jar and Ceramic Pitcher Vases

The one thing about living in a tiny home is that there is not much storage room. It isn’t such a problem when there’s not much to store, and for some people, therein lies the rub. I have friends who are affronted by the suggestion of living life without simple “essentials”. Case in point: vases. On the flip side, I have other friends who roll their eyes at such frivolity. Both sides get along just fine with each other and that’s the whole point. It doesn’t matter much which camp you sit in as long as whatever lifestyle you have matches your space. Well, rather, whatever space you have matches your lifestyle.

If I am being completely honest, I own one vase. It’s a tall, cylindrical, long-stemmed glass vase that was given to me by a friend from dental school years ago. I’ve tried to de-clutter it a handful of times, but to no avail. It holds no more than 6 tulips, and funny enough, I have never used it. I suppose this means de-cluttering it definitely requires a revisit…

Which, in my opinion, puts me in the latter camp. When flowers find themselves in our home, I am more likely to grab a mason jar or a ceramic pitcher that we bought during our honeymoon in New Zealand than that darn vase. I have an affinity for assigning twenty functions to household items, if possible, so both solutions actually make me appreciate the bouquet more. There’s something gleeful about re-purposing stuff. Maybe THAT’s why I never use my actual vase. It’s too singular in purpose thus making it unattractive.

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Either way, look. It doesn’t matter whether you like a lot of stuff or a little stuff. It matters more that you love what you do have and use them often and well. It’s important that your things are beautiful in your eyes, even if it’s “just” a mason jar in other people’s eyes. To you, it could be a storage for bulk items, a container for a new candle, a get-together-party-favor holding your famous enchilada sauce, a jar holding homemade jam, a refreshing water glass (or lemonade or wine), or a vase. Maybe I’ve spent too long making do with what I’ve got. It sure as hell isn’t a bad way to live.

Nothing gives me more joy making something out of nothing – vases included.

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Thank you to Sonia for the lovely flowers. 

If you happen to be a vase person, East Fork Pottery is releasing a new bud vase today at 12pm EST. Hand-thrown in their beautiful soapstone glaze, they are a perfect addition to a ‘minimalist’ home.

Frugality: Paint Thine Walls

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

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: There’s nothing a can of white paint can’t fix. I love white walls, and I’ve fervently written about them, that’s for certain. While there isn’t a foolproof recipe for how a minimalist home shall look, I’ve found that having a clean canvas sure helps me. Any decor is left in the details – minuscule additions that help with frugality, but also, accounts for frequent mood swings. To me, white walls are the basis of a fresh, clean home. In order to avoid sounding redundant, let’s jump right to the topic of this post which is, if you’ve got a hankering to turn your walls white, I would suggest painting thine own.

In our house, there was one room that hasn’t been painted white. Our bathroom, the smallest, most closed off space in the loft, has always been a charcoal gray. It made the space feel cramped, dark, and dingy. All emotions you don’t want in the room that’s meant to be restorative. It didn’t help that there were no windows to let light in. We decided to (finally) paint it to match the rest of the home.

I did consider hiring a painter to do the job in order to save us time and effort, but I am so glad I didn’t. The total cost of the project was $90. We went to Sherman Williams to match the Egret White walls that we already had in a semi-gloss finish. We also bought a single paint roller, some foam, and a few brushes. We had the paper to lay on the ground and blue painters tape already sitting in the garage. My parents brought over the extension rod for the roller and a ladder. It was a whole birthday affair. Having a painter do the job would have probably run us another $300+.

The amount of time it took was 6 hours – including taping the edges, painting the corners, and applying two coats of paint. Mike and I did the majority of the taping the night before. We also prepped by painting the trimmings. My mom and dad swung by the next day and did the majority of the painting. It took them about two and a half hours, while leisurely conversing and taking breaks. It definitely is no more than a two person job. It was a situation of having too many chefs in the kitchen, so Mike and I were pretty much kicked out left to cheer on the sidelines. To be fair, my parents were professionals. Having moved ten times before high school and growing up with a mom who was very into design, I would say that they’ve had their fair share of practice. It may take a newcomer another hour to figure things out.

Regardless, it was surprisingly very easy to do. We had enough time to clean up, put the bathroom together, and have a lovely dinner and cake.

I think that for a room or two, painting thine walls isn’t bad advice. It saves you a decent amount of money, and it’s a fun event when you invite others to join. All you have to do is play live music on the speakers and call it a party.

Now that the bathroom is finally white, there’s more to be considered. For today, it’s enough of a miracle, but I’ve definitely got a wishlist going…

Small Space Living

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

Tip 12: Introducing Color

For the past few years, I have been quite averse to introducing color into my life. Not that my life has been any less colorful. It’s just, I learned through my de-cluttering of closets  that a minimalist earns more success by sticking to a neutral palette. And it’s true. I’ve lived a simplified life that has allowed me to blossom in other, more prioritized aspects by sticking to a curated few guidelines: Less is more, clutter-free is productive, and neutral reigns supreme.

Prior to my minimalism journey, I was a person in love with color. My closet was an exploding rainbow tucked into drawers. My duvet cover was a painting printed on fabric, and I myself painted and hung up my art on the walls. I had a hodge-podge of jewelry and accessories and my signature bag was Kate Spade – the funky kind. But when I graduated from dental school with a huge student debt, I found all of that to be overwhelming – which is what initially led me to de-clutter, whittling down all I owned to nothing but white, black, brown and grey. And for three years, that decision and lifestyle carried me through some very tough times. For that, I am grateful.

After what I would consider to be a wild success with my loan repayment journey, we are finding ourselves entering a new stage in life – one wherein I do have a little more space to allow a tiny bit of myself back in. And when I turned to making the house a home these past few months, the items I was attracted to had, well, color.

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Which is what this post is about. Introducing color is absolutely scary for me. Mostly because, I have found that color tires the eyes. It disrupts the space. It can be loud and encroach on the mind. And to be honest with you, I will get sick of a color after a while. That’s just the way it is. Unlike whites which last forever (especially with the help of bleach), colors will likely only be loved for a few years. They will fade, both physically and metaphorically. And for a very long time, this fact is what stopped me from introducing color back into my home and my closet. Because I didn’t have money to waste on a few year’s worth of joy.

But what I’ve learned is that, life without joy is not really living. I keep re-learning that intentional living is as much the frivolous little things as the journey to get there.

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There will be many a blog space and minimalist person chanting the pros of an all-white space. I mean, Jenni Kayne has certainly proven the timelessness of blanched walls and bleached linens. And small spaces can appear larger with white everything. But the truth of the matter is, we all have a calling to certain colors. Who’s to say that a formula fits all? There are colors that, for whatever reason, are subconsciously reminiscent of a previous lifetime – and for every person, these colors are different. In fact, for the same person, these colors change over time. Whatever the science is behind all of this, I am going to say that as a small space occupant and minimalist writer, I am giving permission  (mostly to myself) to introduce color.

Everyone’s tolerance will be different, and one should aim for the amount of color that works for their particular space, but if you are like yours truly and are hesitant (or afraid), may I suggest the following guidelines that have helped me?

  • Start with a section of the color wheel.
  • Begin with smaller items; Accessories in blue rather than a full-on velveteen couch.
  • Choose “color neutrals”, as coined by my dear friend when speaking about this Parachute bedding of ours. An undoubtedly terra cotta color, but its closeness to brown makes it more neutral. Other color neutrals would be seashore blue or dusty rose, a pale yellow or olive green.

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  • Start not necessarily by adding color, but by knowing your emotions toward certain colors. Which ones are exhaustingly loud? Which are depressing or make you moody? Which ones give you energy?
  • Don’t choose a color because of a trend. Trends will change come next season.
  • Before making the purchase, find similar examples online and check-in on how they make you feel.
  • Lastly, follow your gut reaction. You know more than you think.

For the curious, the wool pillows are from Territory Design

Simple Things: Art

A simple life is an imaginative life. Sometimes, you have to make do with what you’ve got, and when that happens, you best give way to creativity lest you fail to maneuver a solution out of thin air. When it comes to decorating the home with artwork, I think that sticking with what you’ve already got is best, especially from a frugal standpoint.

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Our perception of what constitutes as “good” art is lacking in credential. We’ve oft walked into a museum of curated work and commented to each other that a kindergartner can do the work. Obviously, this isn’t true. We definitely lack a certain appreciation of what professionals consider masterpieces. But I just can’t justify the expensive prices tacked onto most art pieces. Add this to my short span of appreciation for any piece of work and you’ve spelled out trouble for this art buyer.

So I stick to what works for me – that being simpler art solutions in the form of magazine clippings, posters, or in this case, printed work on a reused Aritzia bag. Free stuff, dorm room style. Transient things that I can throw away in the end without a worry. Things that I actually like hanging up on my walls.

 

This past weekend, our dear friends swung by to drop off a gift for my birthday – a pair of latte mugs and wooden coasters from GoodiesLA. It was wrapped in a reused Aritzia bag with a few bundles of tissue paper. The bag, however, had two different prints on either side on what I would consider quality paper. I decided to cut out both sides, leaving a white border around the image. In lieu of a picture frame, I taped the two images using paper tape with a leaf print on it.

Thus, new art hanging in our kitchen wall.

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I know it seems a bit tacky for some. But I enjoy this way of  decorating. I am able to spruce up the home without spending money or stressing about whether I’ve made the right choice. Let’s face it. Paying for pricey masterpieces leads met to a long trail of anxious thoughts. Did I make a worthy purchase? Does it match the space? Will I like it tomorrow? Am I a crazy person? (Mayhaps).

This is a happy life for me. Truth be told, there’s something about embracing what you lack. This life stage of mine where I can’t pull the trigger on an expensive art piece is how I’ve always lived – stuck in the perfectly imperfect. It’s nice to know that, even now, I’m still growing up, still tied to my early twenties somehow.

A good birthday gift all around.

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Small Space Living

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

Tip 11: Finding Cable Solutions in Media Consoles

I am really adverse to adding furniture to our small space, especially if it entails taking up floor space. It pains me to clutter up a home, and for this reason I have been fighting the urge to add anything but a couch to our living room. So why did I buy a media console?

To be honest, the media console stemmed from my contempt regarding cables. I wrote prior about how I detest the sight of wires running along walls like snakes, connecting different gadgets throughout the home to each other so that they may work in harmony. It isn’t the tech itself that I despise. It’s the inability to make the tech look neat and tidy and clean.

Currently, we have an amp near the kitchen area that connects to a projector behind the couch that wires to two speakers and a record player, and somewhere in the vicinity sits a Switch console. Don’t ask me how they interplay with each other. The moral of my story is that the unsightly array of wires drives me crazy. And we came down to the solution of trading our five speaker system and amp with a sleeker, minimalist pair of Sonos 5 speakers (in white, of course), which can plug directly into the record player and the projector. Wire management is the name of the game here.

And with a media console, I would have the ability to hide both speakers behind sliding doors. I could connect them to the record player that sits atop, and run the wires out of holes around the back where a plug remains hidden. The Switch consoles and controls can also be tucked safely inside, and the only thing to hide is a single wire connecting the projector to one of the Sonos 5 speakers. Everything moves from the kitchen to the living space and it brings me such peace to know that, finally, the cables can be nearly invisible, even if it means at the expense of floor space.

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However, outfitting a home with media consoles that are sustainably sourced or ethically made is near impossible, barring the case that you know of a particular woodworker who would be willing to custom create you a shelving unit at an affordable price or that you do woodwork yourself. Thankfully, West Elm provides a few options that was aligned with a mid-century style. The particular one we bought was a narrow and short (48″) low profile console which was barely deep enough to house the speakers. All of the wood is FSC-certified and therefore sustainable sourced and the product is a fair trade product. Additionally, it is GREENGUARD gold certified.

There were only a few things I did not like about the console. First, it’s very narrow, so if you were considering hiding a few vinyls behind the sliding doors, then you’ll be out of luck. However, it holds coffee table books well. Secondly, the color was a bit darker than pictured, which isn’t too much of a bad thing. All furniture from West Elm comes with white glove service which is a mandatory additional fee, but the service was actually very good. Plus the delivery came two days from ordering, a few weeks in advance from when we would get the speakers.

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Speaking of the Sonos 5 speakers, we used a perk for being a healthca[;’pre worker during this time, as Sonos is offering a discount of 20% to all medical professionals and first responders. To learn more about potential COVID-19 perks for certain professionals, check out my post here. It could serve to be a very frugal opportunity until the end of 2020.

Ethical Furniture and Home Goods

I know that ethical and sustainable options are few and far between when it comes to home goods. While slow fashion is starting to garner attention, slow homes are lagging behind. Here, I list a few of my favorite go-to sources.

Furniture

Home Goods

Small Space Living

Tip 10 // Hide the remote control

When it comes to small space living, it becomes important for a neatnik such as myself to have a few simple solutions regarding clutter. Small spaces can feel overwhelmingly full much quicker than larger spaces, and neatniks can feel overwhelmed much quicker than carefree individuals. Rules such as keeping surfaces clear or walls white help tremendously in creating a peaceful sanctuary for mindful living. Whereas a regular sized home may house a grand clock over the fireplace, for example, a small space home would be better off sticking to bare walls.

As a minimalist living in a tiny home, the importance of these basic ‘rules’ becomes magnified. I am not a naturally tidy person. However, I am an introvert who does not like an excess of stimuli and who works most efficiently out of a space without distractions. Therefore, I work diligently in order to maintain the environment that lets me thrive. Which leads me to the conversation of hiding remote controls.

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I am greatly averse to tech because of the endless amount of wires, routers, chargers, connections, et cetera that come with them. I like the devices themselves, if only they could be invisible and not need to be attached to something to communicate. As you can see here, I try with all my might to disguise mangy cables and the like. I mean, we don’t even have a TV because I did not want anything bulky hanging on our walls. Instead, we have a portable projector that creates a screen on our wall bigger than any TV we could buy but remains non-existent when not in use … a win-win situation for us both.

Unfortunately, a projector still requires wires to hook up to speakers and power. It also came with a remote control. This is the only remote control we own, which is already quite the statement considering the number of controls my parents have. It’s quite tiny too, but it still felt like a visual nuisance, until now.

We’ve decided to stash the remote control in a place unseen. Instead of always looking for it (sometimes it would be on the kitchen island, on the dining table, on the projector itself, on top of the speaker, etc.) and instead of always being an eyesore (because previously it belonged on the tiny side table), I am happy to say that it has a designated spot out-of-sight. With the help of two pieces of velcro that we had lying around in the garage, we decided to velcro the control underneath the side table that it’s supposed to sit on. The project was hardly a project at all. We simply cut a small piece of velcro and placed the felt-type part on the remote and the scratchy-part underneath the table.

Now our surfaces are clear of clutter, our remote control is safely stashed in it’s proper place, and peacefulness has been restored.

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I know this may seem less dramatic than I make it sound, but I cannot emphasize how important small details such as these are to creating an intentionally curated home. Simple solutions in small spaces bring me such joy. I wanted to write about it as yet another example that storage solutions does not always lie in buying storage containers, as more begets more. There are equally easy solutions that can be found with a bit of resourcefulness and creativity. Most of the time, these are solutions that save you money. And of course, there is always the option of getting rid of. If you think about it, a remote control is quite unnecessary since the projector sits right behind the couch and every button you’d need is within arm’s reach. Whereas most people would think that purchasing a basket to stash the control in would be the better solution, I would argue that it goes against curation as a whole.

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Simple Things: Ikebana

It’s Mother’s Day and while most of the Western world is showering their moms with love in the form of large bouquets and wreaths, I figure I’d share a personally preferred minimalist and intentional flower arrangement – ikebana.

The art of ikebana is a Japanese way of making bouquets. Translated literally, it means “making flowers alive”, which to me is poetry itself. Rather than focusing on gathering as many flowers as possible, the art requires a curation of sorts. Typically, only five to thirteen stems are used, and a flower frog with pins are employed to arrange the flowers in a romantic way.

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Unlike flower bouquets lining groceries and florist shops, these arrangements use stems and leaves, even blades of grass. Whatever is calling to the artist is included. It’s the ultimate proof that beauty can be found in even the simplest of things.

I like the practice of Ikebana because it adds an element of mindfulness to the process. Not needing to drive to a floral shop or pay for flowers, I pick simple buds or greenery that I find on walks around the neighborhood. What captures my attention depends on the day, and sometimes even twigs will appear wondrous in their own right. I collect a handful of treasures and curate them when I get home. Curating is arguably the most difficult part, but also my favorite. I put to use everything I know about creating an intentional home and apply it to ikebana.

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I’ve chosen these beautiful vessels from Notary Ceramics, a hand-thrown pottery located in Oregon dishing out the most beautifully minimalist pieces. There are two that I like – one with a water bowl in the center and only a few spaces for stems, and a smaller one with more opportunity for fronds and the like, but without a water bowl.

The water is another element of ikebana. It is said that one shouldn’t care whether petals or leaves fall into the water, for there is beauty in the imperfections, too. I love when soft petals float over the water’s surface, or when small buds break off from their stems into the pool.

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As you’ve probably guessed, for Mother’s Day I gifted my mother one of these flower frogs from Notary Ceramics. I hope that she keeps it by her bedside table, or in the center of the kitchen island for the morning light to shine on. I imagine her finding a few whimsical strands of nature when she walks our family dog with my father. I hope she remembers what it was like to be a child, carrying treasures home from her adventures. May she find a creative moment each week that lends beauty to her home as she carefully chooses her pickings. May more people practice a simpler art, daily, and bring joy to mother’s everyday after Mother’s Day.

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