A New Mattress + Other Tips to Create a Bedroom Retreat

Like many family homes, each room within our own serves more than one purpose. We work, play, create, sleep, eat, and read, together or individually all within the same few shared rooms of our home. Quite often, we overlap in the same space, so it is no wonder that my own bedroom, opening right off the eating area, would follow suit. By day it often functions as a quiet lounge for an assortment of school work, reading, or personal work, and by evening it becomes a place of much needed personal retreat. “Your room is the best,” my children often chime. And shouldn’t it be? With so many efforts expended in a day, the bedroom is the place of origin, a space where we begin and close each day, and I have always wanted my own to be a refuge, a deep sigh.

Aside from the gentle scents often diffusing in the air, our children love our bed the most, as do I. They snuggle under layered bedding, remarking how soft and cozy the bed is, teasingly asking to trade. We recently replaced our 12-year-old spring mattress with a Casper Wave Mattress, and I realized afterward, a mattress can be like a favorite pair of old running shoes, you don’t notice the lack of support until you replace them. Or so is the case for me. The Wave, with five different layers of breathable foam, has been a dream thus far––and by that I mean, I am deep in sleep, dreaming. As a busy mother, writer, and homeschooler, that matters.

Choosing a new mattress feels luxurious, but the options can also be overwhelming. Like a few other companies disrupting the mattress world, Casper’s Wave arrived in a box, furled and tightly sealed, directly from Casper. It is somewhat surreal to imagine our King sized mattress in a box only a little larger than a mini-fridge. “A mattress is in there?” The girls kept asking. Then we opened the box and playfully helped it unfurl.

Since we hadn’t ever owned a foam mattress before (and maybe the same is true for some of you), I was concerned about the safety and heat factor. Although I am cold natured, like most people, I don’t enjoy feeling hot or waking up sweating in the night. Yuck. I was happy to learn the Wave was thoughtfully engineered, not just to appease the American Chiropractic Board (which it did), but also to keep sleepers cooler with breathable foam layers and a humidity-resistant wool cover. I was also pleased to learn that along with the other Casper mattresses, the Wave is made in the US and is CertiPUR certified, meaning each mattress is made without ozone-depleting chemicals, flame retardants, mercury, formaldehyde, phthalates, lead or other heavy metals that might negatively impact our family’s health or indoor air quality. Since our entire family spends time in our bed, that is something I certainly rest easy over.

QUICK TIPS TO CREATE A DAILY BEDROOM RETREAT

Although I’m grateful my children love our comfortable new bed and spending time in our room. At the end of the day, I want to have a clear and clean place to retreat for the night without them. For those of you who also share your bedroom space, here are a few things I keep in mind to recover my own personal retreat experience.

Clear Guidelines | Although I allow the kids to lounge on my bed, I do not allow them in the sheet unless they have bathed and are ready for bed. It keeps dirty feet out of the sheets. The kids also have to take off their shoes, and although I sometimes allow them to tumble across it (more often when they were little), they have to ask permission. Mostly I want them to remain mindful that this is their parent’s space first.

Basket for Odds + Ends | I keep a small woven basket in my room to collect all the odds and ends that meander into our space during the day––random socks, books, papers and such. I simply toss the remnants into the basket and set it on our dining table for the kids to clear and put away the next day. This is life-saving.

Layered Bedding | In addition to a comfortable and supportive mattress, I only sleep with one pillow, but I prefer to have a few extras on the bed for reading or writing or watching movies in bed with Mark. I also love extra blankets for coziness and often keep a duvet at the foot of the bed year round.

Candles or Diffuser | A glowing candle can be exactly the special touch our rooms needs at the end of the day. It shifts the air and the light of a room. During the warmer months or during the daytime, I tend to use the diffuser more often to help clean and clear the air. 

Fresh Flowers | When possible, I prefer to keep a small vase of flowers or greens in our space, too. Mainly because they make me happy. Wink.


This post is sponsored by Casper. All thoughts and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

,

Pound Cake, Berries, and Cream

One of the greatest pleasures of summertime is the abundance of color on the table. Berries and melons and leafy greens are in season, making it more reasonable than ever to feast on whole foods with economy. Although all of our children help in the kitchen, Olive and Burke seem to come alive creatively there––chopping, stirring, tasting. Burke received several baking tools this spring for his birthday, and he’s planning to put them to use this summer, baking something new each week for us to try.

This week, in honor of inexpensive berries and a long holiday weekend, he made homemade pound cake with berries and cream. So many of you requested the recipe, I thought I’d quickly drop it here before the long weekend ends. We doubled the recipe to make two loaf pans. If you have leftovers, store it in the fridge in a sealed container and enjoy it for breakfast. Wink.


POUND CAKE with BERRIES and CREAM, adapted from The Hands-On Home

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp half & half (or heavy cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.
  3. In a second bowl (we used our mixing stand), whip the butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating until the batter is fluffy again. Add one egg at a time until the texture is like frosting. At a low speed, mix in the yogurt, half&half, and extract.
  4. Gently mix in the flour.
  5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of the oven.
  6. Bake until it is golden brown and the knife comes out clean, about 90 minutes or longer, depending on elevation and oven. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Wash and slice berries. If they’re tart, sprinkle them with sugar. I prefer the tartness, especially with the sweet, rich cake.
  8. Whip the cream until peaks form. If you prefer sweet cream, add a Tablespoon or two of sugar, or even a little vanilla extract.
  9. Serve and enjoy!
,

DIY Flower Bouquet for Mother’s Day

Flowers are one of my favorite ways to infuse life and beauty into our home. While I hope to grow a picking garden of my own some day, more practically in this part of life, I set aside a bit of our grocery budget each week and pick up a few simple blooms for our table or nightstands or kitchen sink. Flowers make my heart hum and help cultivate my sense of home and emotional well-being, but when it comes to arranging flowers, it always feels a bit more like trial and error. My arrangements often appear hopelessly amateur. In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend in the US, I asked my talented friend Jessica Jill of Ivy Florals to share some of her secrets for creating a beautiful bouquet with market blooms. You can also find her gorgeous work on Instagram.


This weekend, I put together a quick bouquet for Mother’s Day, something simple, yet lovely, like my mother herself. As a wedding/event florist, I often use wholesalers for flowers, but to create small or single arrangements, I often run to the nearby grocery store. Luxe brand grocers will often have a larger variety, but markets of every sort have started carrying more and more varieties of flowers to meet the growing demand, such as those little pale pink, nodding heads shown above, Scabiosa. Grocers are also beginning to put together little bouquets called “designer bunches” that have everything you need to make a dynamic arrangement on your own. But don’t be afraid to use a mixture of market flowers and foliage straight from your own yard! 

When purchasing flowers from the grocery store, there are five vital things to consider for your design to have structure & character. I learned these from The Flower Recipe Book by Studio Choo.

Base Foliage | Greenery, get something that fills space easily & something else that adds form. In my arrangement, I used Cherry Laurel (snipped from a tree by my house) and a Grapevine (also snipped by my house)!

Base Flowers | Hydrangeas, Roses, something that fills spaces with color!

Focal Flowers | Lilies, or something that draws the eye, has interesting form, and is just nice to look at. 

Secondary Flowers | Carnations, Scabiosa, usually a flower with longer stems that can encourage shape in the arrangement

Bits| Fern, smaller flowers or greenery that fill space with a softer texture

As far as picking the color of your flowers goes, get what makes you smile. You’ll be surprised how well your eye naturally picks colors that look good together.

Once you get home from the store, processing the flowers is very important! For processing, you will need some snips or floral scissors. Once you have your stems, snip snip snip those stems at a 45 degree angle, remove any foliage that might end up in the water when you begin to arrange & get them in some warm water ASAP. Also make sure to pull off any decaying leaves/petals to help the flowers last longer & look their best!

An outlier is roses, I usually dehydrate my roses for a couple hours before I start designing. This makes their petals more apt to open up to a big bloom with a little help from you. This helps turn the roses from tight, traditional-looking blooms, to fresh from the garden-looking blooms with gorgeous heads.

Having good floral product is only the start of how to DIY your own arrangements. In this post, I’m going to run you through some design tips on how to turn a bag full of flowers into something like you see above!

Find a beautiful vase | To start yourself off well, find a super cool vase. Be creative. My vase is really a dessert bowl I transformed by adding my little frog.

Place a floral pin frog | Honestly, with a little  help from floral pin frogs, you can turn any watertight object into a home for your blooms. You can get floral pin frogs online or from a craft store. They’re reusable and invaluable for arrangements. I usually just place my frog in the vase without any sort of adhesive but if you have heavier blooms, it might be a good idea to use some floral clay to stick it to the inside of the vase.

Add warm water | After you add your frog, add a little warm water to the mix & you’re got a solid base for your arrangement! When adding flowers to the arrangement, a pin frog is easy to use. You simply press the stem into the pins until the flower or greenery stands the way you want it to. Next, you get to start the fun part! DESIGNING!

Start with Your Greens | And don’t be afraid to add a lot. You want to use your greens to both establish a shape for your design but also cover your mechanics ie your pin frog. I usually evaluate the form of the greens & place more upright greens on one end of the design & more “droopy” greens on the other. This “S” shape helps draws the eye through your entire design. Keep this thought in mind during your entire time designing, even when you start adding your flowers. Upright on one side, droopier on the other. After you add your greens & get an established shape, you can start adding in flowers.

Add focal flowers | Focal flowers first because their placement is very important. You want them front & center. The lily in my arrangement is my focal flower. Note how it is the first thing your eye is drawn to when you look at the photo. When adding in focal flowers, I usually take three nice, open blooms and place them strategically in the arrangement. I usually keep some closed blooms off to the side to add in later. This adds a story to your design where you can include more than one life cycle of the flower in the arrangement. Also – in a couple days, those closed blooms will open & add some second day zest to your gift! I place one in the very front close to the rim of the vase, facing me, almost looking me in the face. I then place another focal flower, one that is a little droopier on one side of the arrangement. If you don’t have a droopy bloom, you can angle the flower to where it looks droopy by pinning it at an angle in the pin frog. Lastly, I place the third focal flower upright on the other side of the arrangement.

Add base flowers | Once you have your 3 focal flowers added, you can move on to adding your base flowers. I usually mimic the placement of base flowers, close to or behind the focal flowers to keep with the shape of the arrangement. I used the roses & hydrangeas as my base flowers in this design. Base flowers are also used to cover mechanics that you can still see even after foliage & focal flowers have been added. They’re very helpful in filling out the inside center of the arrangement so that when the design is looked at from above, It is not empty-looking.

Dehydrate Roses | This step is where rose processing I wrote about above, comes in. In my arrangement, I dehydrated my roses for 2 hours, then began to pull back the petals, softly bending them until I felt a soft pop from the center of the rose and the petal stayed splayed out.

Add in secondary flowers | After that, add in your secondary flowers. I used Scabiosa & Carnation as mine. Use these to enhance the shape that you’ve created. Again, droopier ones on one side, upright on the other!

Finish with bits | Lastly, add your bits. Use intuition & your eye to know where to place these. Areas that seem empty or boring to your eye are ideal places for these. I used fern as my bits. The soft texture of ferns is ideal for bits! Other things that could be bits or “fillers” as some grocery stores call them are chamomile, baby’s breath, daisy mums etc. Be mindful when caring for bits, that their stems need to be fully submerged in water. They’re delicate & usually need good water intake so that they don’t wilt.

Finishing touchesNow, you’re done! Take a look at your design. If you see any holes or places where your eye stops, use those leftover closed or less open blooms to fill in that space. You can also add leftover base flowers if you think you need it. Remember to trust your eyes. If you like the way something is looking, go with it! Something I love about being a florist is the freedom that comes with working with beautiful product. The flowers speak for themselves, so no matter what you create, it will hold beauty. Your design is there to enhance what already makes the heart soar.

Maintain freshness | To keep your arrangement fresh for longer, check the water daily to make sure all stems are submerged & the water is clean. If flowers start to decay, remove them. Some flowers will stay fresh longer than others so it is important to check on your design, making sure shorter vase-life flowers are not causing other flowers with longer vase-life to die quickly as well. If you leave decaying flowers in the vase with fresh ones, a hormone is release from the decaying flowers that causes decay to speed up in the rest of the flowers as well! Best of luck to you in your designing endeavors. 

,

an easy DIY vintage poster frame

simple_diy_poster_frame-4 simple_diy_poster_frame3

Last weekend, Olive and I built a couple of small vintage-styled poster frames together for their room. We’ve had a few Cavallini posters around our home, tightly rolled up, waiting to be hung for a while, and I finally decided to do something with them. It was such a quick and easy project, I thought I’d share it here with you, as it would be a perfect way to add some pretty visuals and freshen up your your school or play space for the new school year. Either way this project is easy enough to do with your children or during a nap time.

The supply list is minimal and inexpensive. We used pieces of scrap wood leftover from the girls’ loft bed project, but you could easily use small wood dowels, too. And although we only used one piece at the top, opting to let the poster hang freely, it’s possible for you to attach a wood piece to the bottom of the poster for a more tidy finish. I found this spool of the thin rope at the dollar store, although a sturdy baking or jute twine will work well, too. We used regular transparent tape this time which worked well-enough, but I’d recommend double-sided tape for a firmer finish, to keep the poster from dangling off of the wood.

simple_diy_poster_frame-3 simple_diy_poster_frame2 simple_diy_poster_frame-2 simple_diy_poster_frame simple_diy_poster_frame simple_diy_poster_frame-7

SUPPLIES WE USED:

  • 1 -2 wood pieces/dowels cut to the length of the poster (2, if you plan to use one at the top and bottom)
  • thin rope, jute, or sturdy baking twine for hanging
  • double-sided transparent tape
  • a drill
  • measuring tape (optional)
  • poster
  • pencil
  • scissors

STEPS:

  1. Measure and cut the wood to match the length of the poster. Decide whether you want the wood to overhang or to be flush with the poster edge.
  2. Mark a dot on each end of the wood piece, approximately 3/4″ from the edge.
  3. Drill a hole through each dot.
  4. Cut two feet of rope, threading each end of the rope through each hole in the wood.
  5. Before tying off the rope, use your finger to create a triangle with the rope, estimating how long you want the poster to hang from the nail.
  6. Double-tie the rope and trim off the excess.
  7. Using the double-sided tape, adhere the poster to the wood, so that the front of the poster meets with the back of the wood piece. Repeat for the bottom part of the poster, if doing so.
  8. Hang it on the wall!