It’s been a while…plush baby toys, teaching your toddler chores, and blogging more

Plush baby toys, teaching your toddler chores, and blogging more…

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it feels good to be back. I can’t believe the year is halfway over! I have been evaluating where I am at with my goals for this year, and am so excited about the way things are going. However, I did take a little reprieve from blogging for the last couple of months in order to devote time to my family’s constant house search, my own feelings and struggles with motherhood, and ‘working on myself’ (more on this in time). I mostly put my head down and worked on creating my course, which honestly is what has kept me going for the last couple of months. If anything, knowing that all of you were there and interested in my content has helped me to come out of the last couple of months with a better outlook. We’ve also been continuing our home search, which has been a frustrating time for us, hard on both my husband and I. I don’t know what is to come for us, but I promised honesty on this blog, so there are the two main reasons I’ve been away. However, my love for my family and the constant support from all of you surrounding my blog and my online course has inspired me to devote more time to this space.

Blogging brings a lot of satisfaction to my life. I love documenting little bits of our life and of my thoughts, and giving tips and inspiration to you all for building an intentional household. If you haven’t checked it out already, I created an entire course devoted to seeking hygge and creating an intentional lifestyle in 30 days. It’s a month long journaling course in which each prompt will help you look within in order to make tangible life changes.

Today though, we’re simply talking about plush baby toys (which can, admittedly, also be life-changing). I’m into soft things. What’s cozier than a plush bunny or an organic linen toy in the shape of a cloud? Nothing.

Other than my baby WITH those things. Today I’m sharing with you our favorite plush toys and why we like them.

Our Favorite Plush Toys

…a bunny, a mouse, and a cloud…

William’s plush bunny is Jellycat brand, found at a little bookstore in our historic downtown. We take it everywhere and he loves to feel the soft ‘fur’ on his face when he’s upset. I definitely recommend Jellycat toys. They are extremely soft and high quality. The bunny is still in great shape and will be loved for a long time.

The little mouse was a gift to us from Fawn and Forest. We love their organic baby clothes and in our last order they gifted us with a little linen mouse. William likes to hide him in different places around the house or (as children do) drop him from places (I promise I’m teaching him to be kind to animals, but a one year old only understands so much).

Lastly, the beautiful linen cloud toy is from The Tiniest Seeds shop. Fayth from The Tiniest Seeds puts so much care into making these toys. They are completely organic, from the linen down to the thread, which is also organic cotton. Even the filling is organic, and all of the materials are sourced from other small shops. The cloud toy is our favorite, but Fayth offers a number of other lovely toys to check out.

My Intentional Household Thoughts of The Week

…on toy rooms, teaching chores…and why you should call them ‘contributions’ instead…

Overall, I don’t ever plan on having a ton of toys in our home. I would go as far as to say that ‘I don’t believe’ in toy rooms. I feel like they stifle imagination and teach children to become too materialistic. We only keep our favorite toys and I am a regular de-clutterer anytime I feel like something is not being used. From a young age, I want William to learn how to come up with his own ways to ‘play’ and to not need a new toy any time he is ‘bored’ or ‘nobody is playing with him.’ I want him to learn to be independent and to make things with his hands, thus, making his own fun.

I also feel like children today are not treated as valuable individuals. Some people might think it preposterous, but at one year old I am already ‘teaching’ William about doing laundry. He loves to pick things up and place them in another spot, so he helps me take the clothes out of our dryer one by one and put them in a basket. Rather than ‘putting him to work’, I feel that it will allow him to feel that he is a valuable contributor in our household. In fact, we call them ‘contributions’ instead of chores in our household. And though he’s too young to understand it now, I hope that he’ll grow up knowing how important he is to us and how much he has to contribute.

P.S. I’m thinking of a possible name change for The Hygge Wife… Tell me, do you like it? Not like it? What’re your thoughts about change?

 

Naked Goat’s Milk Chocolate Cake

Last Sunday called for some baking, and this happened (my own recipe)!! The goat’s milk ingredients were inspired by our baby’s cow’s milk allergy. As someone who has studied nutrition and wellness, I was well educated on the health benefits of goat’s milk. As a newborn, William was often ill due to what ended up being a cow’s milk allergy (from the cow’s milk in my diet, as he was breastfeeding at the time). Due to my own necessary dietary restrictions, I was unable to eliminate cow’s milk from my diet completely, which meant we needed another option. Instead of giving William the store-bought formulas on the market, I remembered a homemade baby formula recipe from my years working in nutrition. It relied on a goat’s milk base due to it’s richness and nutritional benefits. William is healthy and thriving on goat’s milk and I have since become a big believer in using it in as many ways as possible.

And so, onto the cake…This is the first recipe I’ve created and I really never set out to be someone that creates recipes. It just happened out of necessity for us and then became an occasional hobby. When my husband tasted this cake, I was nervous, as the ingredients are a bit ‘different’. But he said it was honestly the best cake I’ve made yet.

Naked Goat’s Milk Chocolate Cake

(Gluten Free, No Sugar)

2 cups gluten free flour blend

1/4 tsp xanthan gum (even if your flour blend has it)

2 cups truvia sweetener

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup goat’s milk (or buttermilk if you can’t find goat’s milk)

½ cup goat’s milk butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

For the chocolate cake:
  1. (Preheat oven to 350 degress). Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Add milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed or by hand with a whisk until well combined. Once batter is thoroughly mixed, add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  3. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two round 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

This cake is so delicious, that you can eat it “naked” (as in, without frosting it, but what you wear or don’t wear while you eat cake is entirely up to you). Dust it with a little powdered sugar and it’s ready.

However, if you’re looking for something really decadent, top with a simple chocolate ganache.

Motherhood Hygge : Stability, Vulnerability, and Shame

Stability. Vulnerability. Shame.

One we need. One we must open ourselves up to. And one we all have, and ought to let go of.

In motherhood, in childhood, in the task and blessing of being a human being, we all learn what shame is. None of us want to admit that we’ve felt it, which is, in essence, shame itself. We’ve all felt it and, I believe, we all wish we didn’t have it. We’d rather ignore it really. It’s too uncomfortable to talk about, whether it’s regarding ourselves or others. We feel shame for how we disciplined our children in a specific situation or for our lack of discipline in another. We feel shame for things we can’t even help, such as miscarriage or infertility. We feel shame for that cup of coffee we had while we were pregnant or that extra bit of cake while we were breastfeeding. Instead of opening up about these things, shame convinces us to stay quiet. To hold it all in while our self worth dwindles. When instead, we could be sharing and connecting and engaging more deeply with others, by opening up to them about our deepest feelings. And the less vulnerable we are, the less vulnerability that our children see, the more they learn to choose shame over sharing. It is a dangerous cycle.

Then how to break out of the cycle?

I believe that shame is a product both of our culture and of our lack of these two essential things: vulnerability and stability. We live in a world that tells us not to be vulnerable. Don’t air your dirty laundry in front of others and don’t open your heart up as a ‘hopeless’ romantic. Play hard to get. Keep your chin up. Brush it off. Don’t let them see you when you’re down. We’ve all heard these phrases and it’s likely that many of us use them ourselves. But what do these things teach our children? To sweep their emotions under the rug? That what they’re feeling is somehow….wrong? That it’s weak or childish to feel?  These things are simply not true. Yet they penetrate our minds and our children’s every day when we discourage vulnerability in ourselves as mothers, or in them as children who feel everything hugely, and thus we create shame.

Instead, we must learn to be vulnerable ourselves, and we must teach our children that it’s okay to be vulnerable. Instead of shame, choose sharing and openness.

But where do we even begin with making our homes a place where vulnerability is less uncomfortable? How can we make our homes a place where children feel safe to talk of and express their emotions freely and openly?

With stability. A stable environment create’s more confident, resilient children. And these confident, resilient children are more open to making themselves vulnerable. They’re more willing to try new things, to speak their minds, and to express their heartfelt emotions. When children become comfortable with vulnerability, they learn that mistakes, or embarrassing moments, and especially things that they can’t control, do not define them. They are more resilient to these things because they realize that who they are is not affected by them.

And you know what? The more we open ourselves up to others, the more realize that they feel the same way, and were just too afraid to say it first. And that means connection. It means closer relationships and stronger bonds. It means less shame and more stability in our friendships.

This togetherness that comes from vulnerability and stability is essential for hygge in all of our interactions with others, but especially in our relationships with our children. Open up to them, and let them see you being honest and vulnerable with others, and you’ll be amazed at the things they’ll share with you.

Open up, and the hyggelig moments will be priceless.

Friday Fika : Simplest Cheesecake (Gluten Free)

An easy-to-make cheesecake for Friday Fika…

I’ve never been a big cheesecake fan but my husband loves it. So we decided to have a try making a gluten free cheesecake with the simplest and best quality ingredients that I could find. And I have to say, I think I may have eaten more of it than him. This cheesecake is easy-to-make, and simply, delicious. The original recipe for this cheesecake is here and is owned by them.

Simple Gluten Free Cheesecake

Ingredients

2 eggs
2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz. of cream cheese total, for organic try Organic Valley Cream Cheese)
½ cup sugar (I haven’t yet experimented with replacing this for a refined-sugar free version, but I’d love to hear anyone else’s attempts, and will update the recipe when I try it myself)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 cup of full fat organic sour cream (this will be spread on the top to keep the cheesecake from cracking after you take it out of the oven)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350, you may want to take the cream cheese out of the fridge and let it soften for a few minutes while the oven preheats.
  2. Mix everything except the cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until well mixed.
  3. Scrape into a pie or cake tin (I use an 8 inch cake pan)
  4. Bake for 35-45 minutes. I always check mine early (around 35 minutes) and add time as needed.
  5. As soon as you take it out of the oven, spread the full fat sour cream on the top (as if you were frosting it). This sounds weird, but the sour cream makes this recipe. It not only keeps the cheesecake from cracking but tastes delicious!

That’s it! Have a lovely, fika-filled Friday everyone…and remember to indulge…together.

The Intentional Household

The Intentional Household is both a series on the blog, and a movement to inspire others to create a household that allows them to live the lifestyle that they want to and to be more aware of how our homes impact our lives. The blog series is meant to inspire and inform you on ways to have your own intentional household.


The Intentional Household

A broom left out of the cupboard, a door half-opened, a book with the page folded over (surely signifying something of importance to the reader), a linen curtain, pulled aside. This house is lived in. Yet, something is different. Careful consideration has been taken in choosing the linen drapes: raw edges but of a thick, quality material; the dishes on the kitchen shelves are imperfectly shaped: handmade; the home is decorated with natural elements, in a way that seems neither to disturb the elements nor the domestic quality of the house: simply, nature brought indoors.

Glimpse into the intentional home and you will find life; a bit of mess, some laundry and a dish or two in the sink. However, you are also likely to come across well-made items of a sturdy material, handmade ceramics, a couple of rustic storage bins and a soft, dreamy bed. The considered home is one of purposefully chosen items, meaningful exchanges, and comfort away from the hurried world. It is aesthetically pleasing without taking away from the functionality and comfort that it offers. The intentional home is a refuge from worries and gives meaning to those that dwell within the shelter it provides.

I began learning about creating an intentional household years ago when the slow living movement was still being brought to life. However, it wasn’t until earlier this year that I actively strived for it. I was coming out of a very busy year and wanted the new one to be less hurried, more meaningful. I work from home and as a mother, spend a lot of time in the house with my young baby, so I knew if I wanted to create more meaning in my life, it had to begin with my home.

Through my experience of creating a more intentional household, I have learned a lot about “home” and how deep a meaning it holds for us… Our home is our shelter, our nest. It keeps us safe from the elements, and provides a soft place to land. It is a nesting ground, if you will. Yet, it serves as more than just a functional necessity. “Home” is the center of our world, the hinge on which our lives revolve.

So, what is ‘the intentional household’ made of?

  1. Items that matter: the intentional household is one that has been cleared of clutter… the things left are the things that matter: the things we use daily, the things we know we will need, the things that bring us joy each day just by being there. Photos and keepsakes are important parts of our homes, too, and as long as each has been considered and deemed meaningful, should not be considered clutter.
  2. Handmade items: whether it be a collage your child made or a homemade loaf of bread, handmade items are an important part of homemaking. Making things in our homes helps us to feel more a part of our homes, and thus more content with them. One can also buy handmade items from others. Buying handmade can bring so much joy to our homes; it celebrates artists and makers and their small businesses, and allows us to hold something unique and made with dedication.
  3. Quiet moments: we cannot create intentional homes if we cannot find moments to be still and intentional ourselves. Quiet moments are vital to awareness and reflection. We can make our homes more fitting for these moments by adopting a concept from the Danish, called “hygge.” In English, it means ‘coziness’ and is often associated with welcoming spaces, warm blankets and candles. These things can help us create a sense of calm and relaxation in our homes.
  4. Simple food: the intentional household is intentional through and through. The kitchen too, will have been considered: what ingredients you keep stocked up will depend on your family’s needs, but having a well-stocked kitchen keeps us prepared for making things from scratch, and thus being able to make things ourselves.
  5. Good company: put your phone down. Turn off the TV. Be aware of the people who are there with you. Yes, you may see them every day, but don’t become blind to what is right in front of you. Talk face to face, without distractions. Sit down for dinner together. Make something together. Even if you live alone, make an effort to invite others over. Our homes should be a place where we spend quality, meaningful time with the ones we care about.

The intentional home is a place of comfort, of consideration, of thoughtfulness. It is a soft place to land, a nesting ground. It is lived in: a tea towel, tossed on the table after a hurried breakfast, a book, left open, a blanket, unfolded… yet everything: considered. The intentional home captures our lives in a tangible way. It envelopes the things that give our lives meaning, and it is these things…like a book whose spine creaks from too much handling…that bring the intentional home to life.


#theintentionalhousehold

How does your home represent your lifestyle? How is it both your shelter from the elements and your soft place to land? As you cultivate your own intentional home, share with me and others in our community by using the hashtag #theintentionalhousehold. I’ll be there…cheering you on.