Simple Baby: Easter Basket


Eager for warmer days

Although Max was here last Easter, he was only one month old and therefore not old enough for a basket. This year he loves taking things in and out of his toy baskets around the house so I’m going to put together something simple and sweet for him. Here’s what I have planned:

A dozen wood eggs I will dye using natural colors. Admittedly, this was not my idea. I belong to a few mommy Facebook groups and someone else ordered the eggs and organized the date. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends next weekend!

Picture found on Pinterest, this beautiful set can be found on Etsy

Genius idea: play scarf in place of icky plastic grass

He loves playing peek-a-boo! A scarf sounds like a great idea. Another grass alternative is pom poms made of yarn.

A simple board book. Maybe this one:

Classics are always in style

Looking for more ideas on junk-free baskets? Check out these links:

Growing up Herbal

Modern Parents Messy Kids

The Mushy Mommy

Mamas, what do you plan to put in the Easter baskets?

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Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Ishvara-Pranidhara


Nature is divine

Good morning! Today we are talking about the fifth and final niyama: ishvara-pranidhara. The words mean surrender to the divine. There are many ways one could interpret the meaning. I like the simpleness of the mantra “I surrender.” Choosing this mantra helps us recognize even though there are things out of our control,  everything is still going to be okay. We know that life runs in cycles and the world is full of yin and yang. What pleases us one day might anger us the next. Surrendering gives us peace in a world of uncertainty.

If you want to dig a little bit deeper into the meaning of ishvara-pranidhara then click on this article  by Jivamukti teacher/founder Sharon Gannon.

For me, a powerful way to practice surrendering is through yin yoga. Basically hang out in your favorite pose (such as child’s pose, savasana, legs up the wall, or reclined bound angle). Let go of any effort or force. As you inhale think the word “I” and as you exhale think the word “surrender.” Keep at it for at least five minutes, going as long as you like. Relaxing music is optional. I use the harp setting on my iPhone timer so that I can relax without worrying about the time.

How do you practice surrendering?

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Week 3: 40 in 40

Spring tulips to inspire spring cleaning

This was a tough week for me in regards to sticking with my pledge to declutter one area per day.

Click on the links below for previous progress reports:

Week 1
Week 2

Day 15: On Wednesday we left Florida to fly back to NJ. Cleaning up the house before we left consisted of putting a few dishes away while Max emptied out a the cabinets. While I put away clean towels he unrolled the toilet paper. Oh, the joys of one-year-olds…

Day 16: It was the same story on Thursday in reverse. I unpacked our bag, he unpacked the laundry hamper. I sorted through the mail. He ransacked the office bookshelves. I’m not complaining and believe me, I love my little darling to pieces. But extra organizing after he went to sleep? It was enough to get the day-to-day tasks done.

Day 17: On Friday we grocery shopped and prepped for the pancakes and pajamas play date we hosted on Saturday morning. Not one specific area got organized, but there were plenty of trips up and down the stairs putting things away.

Day 18: Saturday– party hosting, muffin making and baby guests be darned, I had to pick a small area to declutter. The guest room dresser was a holding ground for random papers and other homeless items. Most of it went in the trash or a donation bag.

Day 19: Sunday– A real purge through a barely-touched tote of middle school pictures, old assignments and other mementos. Goodbye photos of people I haven’t spoken to in 20 years, adios high school memorabilia and au revoir sweet 16 statue. I’m holding on to the memories, not the items. I am keeping my yearbooks, though. They don’t take up much space and I enjoy looking through them every once in a while. I also kept any cards and letters that were heartfelt and handwritten.

Day 20: Monday– Sunday’s photo purge inspired last night’s cleanout of another box of photos that’s been camped out behind the family room couch for a few months. I tossed doubles, dark photos and all the extras that didn’t make it into the album. Remember the days of printing out every single picture? No need to keep the B-List. I’m five years behind in organizing albums. I’m trying to remember the order in which the pictures were taken.

Day 21: Tuesday– Not sure what today will bring… Suggestions?

What’s your favorite tip for staying organized? How about for keeping little ones busy?

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Living Simply with Children

I cannot praise this book enough! I’ve renewed it from the library twice and have read through it quite a few times. Marie gives solid advice for keeping things simple at home and protecting children from the advertising world. She advocates parents look inside themselves to consider what their values are and how they can live those values. She suggest family meetings and a family mission statement. Most importantly, she tells parents that children learn best by example.

A few statements to ponder:

  • “Marketing aimed at kids has skyrocketed. Corporations now spend more than $2 billion annually on advertising directly targeting children, a more than twentyfold increase in the last decade.” And this book was written in 2003!
  • “Corporations now use psychologists and psychiatrists to perform research on children’s developmental process to better perfect their kid-targeted marketing.” Marie also writes that advertisers aim to surpass parental authority by portraying adults as annoying, nagging and lacking in intelligence.
  • “What many…have convieniently forgotten is that the environmental motto begins with “Reduce” and ends with “Recycle.” Our first obligation to the environment is clearly to consume less, not to recycle more.” She also points out that consuming less allows us to be able to contribute to those in need around the world.

There are many ways to simplify family life such as eating dinner together, reducing commitments and extracurricular activities, and creating family rituals.

What are some ways you have consiously simplified your life?

I am currently on a decluttering mission. I believe that simplifying my space is a starting line for simplifying my life.


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Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Svadhyaya

Good morning! The word of the day is Svadhyaya. It means self-study.

Svadhyaya is the fourth niyama, or personal guideline, laid out in Patanjali’s eightfold path. The previous niyamas are

1. saucha- purity

2. santosha- contentment

3. tapas- heat

The “self” in self-study is referring to our inner selves. Basically our “self” in yoga is what’s left once we strip away the titles, relationships, characteristics and qualities that we identify with. It’s our inner truth and light. The Yoga Sutras teach us that our “self” is separate from our ego. It’s our ego that wants to identify as smart, pretty, interesting or whatever else we desire. If we can learn to detach from what we are on the surface then we can begin to let go of pain and suffering.

“One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.”     ~Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now

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First Fiesta

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Vegan zucchini cake with whipped coconut frosting

On Monday our little taco turned uno. We celebrated over the weekend with a backyard Mexican fiesta. My friend Nicole made the cakes, a healthy-ish zucchini for Max and a decadent tres leches for the rest of us (find her on Facebook at Belle Torte Cakes). The local Mexican restaurant delivered the food and we kept the whole thing simple yet festive.


A year of Max



IMG_3485 IMG_3521


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Week 2: 40 in 40

I’ve slowed down a little on the decluttering, but I’m still at it little by little. We’re at our home in Florida this week.


Newly organized toys and books

Day 8: Wednesday

Goodbye dry cleaning bags and assorted trash (stashed in the closet from our November wedding).

Day 9: Thursday

Farewell bachelorette gift bags and leftover game cards. Definitely a time to hold on to the memory, not the items!

Day 10: Friday

We have tons of hand-me-down toys. I sorted through and pulled out the broken ones, plus the ones that are choking hazards. I bought really cute baskets at the Dollar Tree. Max loves to dump out the toys and throw them back in.

Day 11: Saturday

The yard: bags of leaves, extra siding and other various bits of clutter.

Day 12: Sunday

It’s not decluttering per se, but I took care of a small pile of stained clothes I’ve been avoiding for months. I soaked them in OxiClean for a few hours, washed and hung them to dry (is there a more natural alternative to fight stains?).

Day 13: Monday

I sorted through a stack of random papers and receipts. It doesn’t seem like much, but that stuff really adds up around our house.

Day 14: Tuesday

Today I plan to clean up the kitchen pantry. It’s full of wedding decorations, toys and art supplies.


Baskets for Max

What’s the hardest part of decluttering? What’s the best part?


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Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Tapas

Good morning! The word of the day is tapas. It means heat or austerity.


A Costa Rican sky illuminated by the fiery sun

The root of the word, tap, means to burn. Tapas is traditionally interpreted as “fiery discipline” (here’s a Yoga Journal article on the subject). Tapas is the burning desire and motivation to keep going. It’s also consistency.

How many times have I started something with full vigor only to forget about it a few days later? This blog is a running record of all the great ideas I’ve jumped on. But sticking with something? That’s another story. Patanjali tells us that we should use our inner fire to change negative habits, whatever they are. We can recognize that we have a choice to follow or change our patterns. Simply put, tapas is self-discipline.

For background info, click here.

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Progress Report: 40 in 40

Today marks the seventh day of blogger Ann Marie’s 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. I have diligently kept up with decluttering at least one drawer or area per day. Here’s a synopsis of my progress so far along with a few Instagram pics.

Day 1: Wednesday

M got in the decluttering spirit with me and we tackled the garage. I think we put out 10 bags of paper and cardboard for recycling. We also found a few totes of stuff we forgot existed. I convinced him to get rid of the Christmas ornaments that haven’t made it on the tree in the last few years but the collection of Budweiser mugs is here to stay (in a box in the garage). I was elated to find a stack of skinny jeans that were tucked away prepregnancy and now fit.

Giving ebay’s new service a try

Day 2: Thursday

We use our formal dining room as a craft room since we always eat at the kitchen table. On Thursday I tackled the desk drawers that were home to hardened clay, outgrown coloring books and dried up markers. The total: one bag of garbage and one bag of donation stuff.

Day 3: Friday

The laundry room and the coat closet were both stuffed full of items that belong in other places. I got my workout going up and down the stairs putting things away. But oh, the satisfaction at the end!

Day 4: Saturday

The jewelry box. I don’t spend a lot of money on jewelry and I usually buy a pair of earrings or a bracelet while traveling. This means I own a lot of shell, rock and bright-colored accessories that don’t really match my lifestyle anymore. I had fun buying them. I contributed to the local economies and met cool people. But when I do wear jewelry I always reach for the same few things that seem to go with everything. So good-bye to the really cool earrings that match nothing I own. I hope your new owner loves you and wears you often.

The earring drawer BEFORE

The earring drawer AFTER

Organized bangles

Day 5 & 6: Sunday-Monday

My gay bestie and NYC stylist came for a visit. He ruthlessly told me which clothes to keep and which to sell or donate. The total from the closet: one bag of sold clothes to Buffalo Exchange and three bags of clothes and accessories to donate to monsoon victims in the Philippines (via my baby-sitter).

Day 7: Tuesday

Still working on the closet and today it was the undergarment drawers. Goodbye old ratty items that should have been tossed long ago.

Ask yourself one simple question when choosing whether to keep something: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care – or even be glad?” (Cassie T, found in the comment section of this blog post)

Are you decluttering? What’s the best part? What’s hard to let go?


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Books for a Cause

Last month I posted about getting rid of books. A few days later I got a notice in the mail from Big Brothers Big Sisters asking for…drum roll please…book donations (along with other items like clothing and kitchen appliances). And to make things as easy as possible they will actually pick up donations right from your doorstep. The link above allows you to reserve a pick-up day. Simply click on the place where the items will be and they won’t even knock on your door. How easy is that?

I read somewhere (in the comments of a blog that I can’t remember) the suggestion of scheduling a pick-up every so often as a deadline for clearing out clutter. That’s an idea!

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