blog

packing for boston

My mom is finally retiring after teaching kindergarten for 30 years (!!!), so the fam and I are flying to Boston next week to celebrate with her. Still have no idea what I’m wearing to her retirement party, but I have a few days to figure that out ;)

New England weather is tricky. Even though I grew up on the east coast, I haven’t been back during the month of June in probably 15 years, so I really don’t know what to expect temp-wise. I’m sure I’ll add a dress and/or jumpsuit to my suitcase, but for now, I’m just checking off the list of essentials, which for me are classic tees, comfy jeans, and my new fave binkini.

I picked up this mix and match combo at Nordstrom. The floral bottoms are by Rhythm and the simple black top is Becca. I love how they fit (cheeky bottoms rest low on the hip and the top goes by cup size), also the colors are gorgeous.

Basic tees are literally it for me these days, my uniform for sure. I’m so happy with the few I grabbed from Madewell and Caslon.

To be honest, this all could fit in my carry-on and I’d be good. My minimalist wardrobe is naturally a capsule situation which I think has simplified even more since having kids out of necessity, but I truly love it and would most likely end up this way eventually, kids or not. I know what I like, what fits, what materials work with my shape, etc., so streamlining shopping trips and packing suitcases sounds like a deal to me.

What’s your main go-to look if you had to bring just one outfit in a carry-on bag?

chill mama : elizabeth erlich

The Chill Mama is an interview series featuring bold and beautiful mothers. Each month, I reach out to an amazing woman who loves her babies fiercely but also believes in the power of self care. I’m always interested in hearing her unique story and how she keeps her cool on a daily basis – because honestly, I need all the inspiration I can get ;)

*

Elizabeth Erlich, 33

Caregiver to her two boys, La Mesa, CA

Mama to Isaac, 4 years old, Linus, 1 year old

*

Walk us through your typical day. What’s the best part?

My mornings are filled with preschool drop offs and pick ups, trips to the park, zoo, museums. Naptime and quiet play in the afternoons. The best part of my day is the few moments here and there I get with my hubby. He works from a home office, so when he gets small breaks in his work day, he comes out to get cup of coffee and check in on the boys. I feel so spoiled to have our whole family together so often.

Describe your dream day. Think unlimited time and money!

Fancy brunch and spa day are two things that come to mind right away. Moments of solitude are what are most difficult for me to come by in these early years of motherhood, so a day at the spa sounds the most heavenly.

What does “me time” look like for you?

Target by myself, followed by a few hours in a coffee shop.

If you could hop on the next flight, where would you go? With or without the littles?

I’d fly to Seattle with the whole family and then catch the ferry to San Juan Island. This was a favorite vacation spot when I was growing up, but I have not had the chance to share the magic of the island with my husband and boys…yet. I love to tent camp there in a campground where you can see pods of Orca whales swim by. We eat fresh crab and spend lazy days exploring the island.

What are you listening to these days?

I’ve been playing a lot of classical and jazz internet radio stations in the house with the hopes of bringing some calm into the chaos of early childhood. I feel extra fancy when some smooth jazz is playing while drinking my coffee in the early morning.

What is the last book you read?

Josey Baker Bread. I’ve been devouring every sourdough book at the library these last few months. Bread baking has become my obsession and I can’t stop making bread. I’ve gone to an extreme level of obsession by purchasing a grain mill and wheat berries so that I can grind my own flour!

Describe your labor + delivery experience in a nutshell (if that’s even possible).

Isaac was born twelve hours after arriving at the hospital. He was born ten days after his “guess date” and I was so glad when he was finally here. The process of giving birth the first time was so impactful to me emotionally. I felt completely reborn into my new role as mom and learned new parts of my identity through that process. Linus was born one day before his “guess date” and was born just one hour after we were admitted to the hospital. He was born “en caul” which means that his amniotic sac was still intact when he was born. This is super, super rare and made his birth feel even more special. Both of my labors were unmedicated births in hospitals. I steer away from using the term “natural birth” because it implies that that other ways of giving birth are unnatural and can feel diminishing to those that choose other ways to give birth. All moms are warriors, I have such admiration for the strength of women in the birthing process.

What has been the hardest part of motherhood for you so far?

The transition to two kids has been my biggest challenge by far. The relentlessness of keeping two humans alive can not be understated. Linus is about to be two and I just now am starting find my footing.

Besides friends + fam, what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

COFFEE, no question.

Who or what inspires you?

This will sound beyond cheesy, but my own mom is an inspiration to me. It’s taken becoming a mother to really get to understand her on a deeper level. What stands out to me most is her curiosity. She has been self taught in so many different skills in life and it’s instilled that curiosity in me just from watching her.

How do you take your coffee?

Cashew milk latte, unsweetened

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl. But I want so badly to be an early bird.

Chef or takeout queen?

Chef! I get a huge satisfaction from making most things from scratch. Even mayo!

Dogs or cats?

Dogs

If you could leave us with one bit of #momlife advice, what would it be?

Don’t let your dirty house prevent you from inviting over your buddies. This has taken me too long to get comfortable with. And now that I have, I think my social horizons have expanded significantly.

I loved hanging with Elizabeth and her boys to capture these shots. They’re the sweetest family who I’m lucky enough to call friends and neighbors. Isaac and Linus are almost exactly the same age difference as my girls, we’re just a year behind. So we can always relate when it comes to sibling stuff and I’ll probably forever take notes on what to expect in the years to come ;)

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Elizabeth! We are so on the same page with coffee, alone time at Target, and inviting friends over even if our house is on fire. You know you’re welcome to this mess anytime ;) Now let’s go book that spa day!!

lily turns 1

I remember waiting for Lily’s arrival like it was yesterday, but it also feels like I’ve known her my whole life. We celebrated our baby girl with a low key family bbq, just close friends and a homemade smash cake.

I kept things super simple because I just wasn’t feeling up for anything that required too much planning. I mean first bday parties are more for the parents anyway, right? Lily was just in it for the smash cake, she had no idea what was going on. I’m so happy I went easy on myself because the day ended up being perfect. I did feel a *tiny* bit of guilt about skipping the cute invitations and decorations (we literally had one balloon which was totally an afterthought), but this way I was able to be much more present. I also let someone else snap a few photos so I could let go of that pressure too. We made great memories and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Lily’s just starting to take a few steps here and there, she really wants to keep up with big sister. She has 7 teeth, the 8th one is pushing through as we speak, and she loves ALL food (pretty much the complete opposite of Bryn when it comes to appetite). She sleeps through the night, claps, says dada, and flirts with everyone ;) Lily’s a super mellow, happy baby with a great belly laugh, but look out if she’s not actually smiling, we’re talking major RBF.

I waited for this day to come, to be able to say I survived the first year as a mother of two, thinking I’d have it all figured out by now. But we all know that’s not really how it works. I have moments that I’m not proud of, when I’ve totally lost my patience, mind, etc. but I’ve been seriously trying to let go of perfection, give myself a break, and just make sure that loving and protecting my girls are my top priorities. I’ll check back to let you know how that’s all going soon :)

our dining room

An official dining room was pretty high on my priority list while house hunting, so when we found this bright and breezy space that opens right up to the living room, kitchen, and backyard, I was in. One of our first furniture purchases for our home was actually this dining table from World Market. I got it for a steal at a liquidation sale, along with 4 dining chairs (that I’ve already traded out for these white Eames style chairs). It’s the perfect size and style for our little fam, so I have a feeling it will be with us for a while.

Just before our first Christmas in the new house, I added this vintage Conant Ball hutch to the mix. It felt like a very grown up purchase (from Loveseat) since we finally have a place for it now. Our last apartment didn’t even have room for a dining table so we weren’t as excited about cooking at home or inviting friends over for din. And I never felt the need to hunt for beautiful dishes or glasses, but now I can dive into the world of hosting holidays and dinner parties for my favorites. I just need a little more time to get comfortable in the kitchen ;)

Cute macrame table runner is from World Market.

The plan is to make that back wall a huge sliding/accordion glass door, which will open up to a new deck, extending our dining area into an indoor/outdoor setup. Someday!!

Bryn and soon-to-be Lily’s little table for snacks and crafts. Table and chairs are from Ikea.

I wish I could say these pretty woven bowls were vintage or treasures from an exotic trip, but nope! World Market, left and Target, right.

I picked these Lilies since its our Lily girl’s first birthday week <3

While I truly love our dining room as is, I still have so many ideas of what it could be! New lighting, different chairs, possibly adding a rug back in, etc. Stay tuned for plans and inspirations behind my dream dining area. xx

chill mama : becky durling

The Chill Mama is an interview series featuring bold and beautiful mothers. Each month, I reach out to an amazing woman who loves her babies fiercely but also believes in the power of self care. I’m always interested in hearing her unique story and how she keeps her cool on a daily basis – because honestly, I need all the inspiration I can get ;)

*

Becky Durling, 29

Postpartum RN, San Diego, CA

Mama to Clementine, 3 years old, Rosalie, 10 weeks old

*

Walk us through your typical day. What’s the best part?

Typically woken up by either Clem or Rosie around 6:30-7am and then the initial morning rush of getting everyone fed and dressed etc. Rosalie is pretty happy in the mornings so as long as Clementine isn’t having a rough morning it’s typically not too bad. Then whatever our morning activity is–either preschool for Clementine and Rosalie and I do our own thing or going to a park or somewhere in nature with friends if Clem doesn’t have preschool. Then in the afternoon we come back and relax in the backyard/garden. When everyone is having a good day this is probably the best part of my day–Clementine running around doing her imaginative play and Rosalie either awake and moving around on the blanket or asleep in my arms while we enjoy the sunshine, flowers and the sounds from the fountain. Then it is the end of day rush of getting everyone ready for bed. Rosalie’s “witching hour” is typically around Clementine’s bedtime so evenings are a little rougher, but luckily with two kids there is still one parent per kid for the bedtime struggles.

Describe your dream day. Think unlimited time and money!

Either a solo trail run (or with one good runner friend) through a Redwood forest in the morning. Followed by a big delicious brunch at a diner with my family (Grae + kids). Then finding a beautiful spot in nature (a beach or by a river maybe) where the kids can play (ideally with some friends Clementine’s age). Then the kids nap at the same time and Grae and I can play a board or card game. And then Grae watches the kids and I get a massage and then read in a hammock before dinner and bed.

What does “me time” look like for you?

Long baths, some form of exercise without the kids, or reading a good book (this last one is made better with a sleeping Rosalie on my chest!)

If you could hop on the next flight, where would you go? With or without the littles?

Right now my littlest is so young I wouldn’t want to go anywhere without her, so probably some family vacation somewhere beautiful (no where specific comes to mind). However, in a couple years when the kids are older, my answer would be Australia or New Zealand with just my husband :)

What are you listening to these days?

My music taste doesn’t change very much, so the people I always tend to listen to–The Weepies, Mike and Ruthy, Vance Joy, Brandi Carlile. In terms of podcasts some of my favorites these days are Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Invisibila, Science Friday, Fresh Air, Radiolab, Motherbirth.

What is the last book you read?

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley

Describe your labor + delivery experience in a nutshell (if that’s even possible).

My most recent delivery was in January of this year and it was really empowering. My delivery of my first daughter happened a nearly a month before her due date and my water broke, but I didn’t go into labor on my own so I needed pitocin and I got my epidural pretty early so even though my labor was comfortable and my body progressed well with the pitocin, I didn’t feel like I really experienced labor. And then she was pretty quickly sent to the NICU after she was born which ended up being a really traumatic experience for our family. With my second daughter, however, everything went perfectly. I woke up at 2am on the 28th and I had a feeling she was going to be born that day (11 days before my due date). At 4pm that day my water broke, but I wasn’t having contractions yet so it was easy wait for grandparents to pick up my 3 year old and to get to the hospital. The contractions started around 5pm and by 6pm I was in full blown hard labor. Because the baby’s heart beat was perfect on the monitor I got to spend most of my labor off monitors and I labored in the shower and on the birthing ball until around 9 or 10 when I started approaching the transitional part of labor where everything got a lot more intense and I decided I was ready for an epidural. Very soon after getting the epidural I was ready to start pushing and this was the one part of labor where I kinda lost control (I had asked for a low dose epidural and I felt EVERYTHING during the pushing part of labor and this part was really painful). Luckily I only had about 20 minutes of pushing and then she was born at 10:58pm. I felt so incredibly lucky that the baby’s heart beat was perfect the whole time, that my body knew exactly what to do and that progressed quickly, but not too quickly, and so I was able to chose what type of labor and delivery I wanted. It was a little disappointing that I didn’t get to have my own OB (she was not on call that night), but I did get to have an amazing labor nurse (who I used to work with and who is a friend of mine!). The best part of the whole experience though was that we got to have the “golden hour” that I missed with my first daughter. Having my baby skin-to-skin in my arms and breastfeeding like a champ right away during that first hour after delivery was the most amazing feeling and after missing it with my first delivery I was so incredibly grateful for it this time around.

What has been the hardest part of motherhood for you so far?

From a broad perspective, how it changed my view of time passing. When I was younger I was constantly looking forward to the next thing and then when my first daughter was born I had these conflicting emotions of both wanting time to completely stop and stay where we were forever while at the same time wanting to see the person she grew up to be. I wanted to be able to experience her as a baby and at each subsequent age (1, 2, 3, etc) all in the same moment. And then this time around everything is even more bittersweet because we are not having anymore kids so this is my last time experiencing the baby stage of life, so as much as I love seeing her grow, it is hard at the same time. In terms of a specific experience, the 5 days Clementine was in the NICU were hands down the hardest 5 days of my entire life and they were my first 5 days of motherhood. In terms of right now, man, those 3 year old temper tantrums are intense and so hard.

Besides friends + fam, what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

Sunshine and books.

Who or what inspires you?

Friends from various aspects of my life–mom friends, runner friends, work friends, etc.

How do you take your coffee?

With lots and lots of cream (but these days my go to drink is tea with lots of cream and honey)

Early bird or night owl?

Early bird, but I created two night owls

Chef or takeout queen?

frozen food/easy prep food at the moment

Dogs or cats?

Cats that act like dogs

If you could leave us with one bit of #momlife advice, what would it be?

I feel like anything I would say here will sound trite, but I guess I’ll go with: ask for help and try to truly listen to your kid and let them guide you (as hard as that can be sometimes).

Thanks so much for hanging out with us, Becky! Your girls are too sweet and I can definitely relate to your new relationship with time – it’s wild, heartbreaking, and amazing all at once. Totally makes me tear up whenever I think about it. Can’t wait to watch our kids grow together. xo

exterior plans

One of the main reasons we were first drawn to our 1950’s house was the fun, tropical mint green exterior, which seemed to fit its character so well. I believe it still does, but I also have lots of ideas…

It all started with the fact that we will eventually need to replace our windows, which are original to the house, meaning single-paned, untempered glass. As I started researching window costs and styles, I fell in love with the way modern black frames looked with off-white exterior paint. I’ve gone back and forth in my mind SO many times about whether or not I’d actually be able to say goodbye to our mint green bungalow. I’ve asked friends and family to vote, mocked it up in Photoshop, etc. I even considered keeping the green, possibly going with a slightly cooler shade, and updating our yellowish trim with a crisp white. BUT my heart keeps going back to the black and white revamp.

We’re also working on landscape design for the front yard, which will involve a lot of green anyway, so I’m thinking white would let our palm trees and plant designs really shine. We just added these Horsetail Reeds to our front porch planter and I can’t wait for them to fill in. If they don’t for some reason, I’d love to try Snake Plants.

I’m also very into the mcm orange front door! I’ve been obsessed with this look ever since my first trip to Palm Springs. It will warm up the stark black and white, while keeping some of that quirkiness I’ll miss in losing the mint green. It is such a no brainer for me.

To further balance the modern black and white, I’d really like to incorporate natural elements, like a wooden garage door an/or pergola. This slatted wood detail would bring a punch of sleek mcm style while also warming things up a bit. I’m thinking something like this would look great over our back patio (which I will save for another post).

And for our front steps, I’m leaning towards flagstone. I’ve been a little overwhelmed in searching for the perfect concrete tile pattern so I’m thinking this subtle and classic option would fit in nicely with our home’s era.

My plan is to give our house a good facelift, actually taking away rather than adding. Fresh and clean simplicity is what I’m going for overall with neutral colors and natural, sturdy materials.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know if you have any advice or experience in revamping the entire exterior of a home that needs some current TLC.

01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07