a reading nook


Forgive me, I’ve gotten a bit behind in sharing with you some of the exciting things going on this house.  There’s been birth, baby, post-partum, yes of course.  But there were other things going on a few months ago during my supreme and most-elongated nesting phase that I had the wherewithal to photograph, but not necessarily the wherewithal to post.  So here we are.

A long while back, I shared with you a few projects that I did around the house as a result of taking a really cool online course called “The Playful Learning E-course.”  It’s a really neat go-at-your-own-pace class that gets you inspired to make some simple changes and doctor up your house so it’s more child-centric.  I did this room, this little space, and this wall organization as homework for the class last summer.

One of my favorite things about this e-course is how the teacher encourages you to find little nooks and crannies around your house.  With a little imagination and usually some objects you find lying around elsewhere in your home, you can re-create these small spaces as mini-learning and playing centers.  The nook you see below, at the top of our stairs, has always beckoned my attention.  When we moved in to this house, we immediately painted this hallway space (you can see a horrific “before” and lovely “after” here).  Once it was sparkly white, I fell in love with this little space that’s about 4 feet by 3 feet.  But I didn’t know what to do with it.

At first, I put a shelf and some toys there in hopes that Orlis would want to play there, but it never drew him.  So, I thought for a few months, and then decided, after taking this course and learning the importance of creating a cozy space for reading, to make it a book nook.


after painting, before reading nook

I took a class to learn how to make some zippered floor pillows.


(I’m very proud of these.)


Then I knocked out four more regular pillows while Orlis serenaded me.  I gathered up some books, a bit of artwork, and a couple of fluffy rugs…


and a reading nook was born.

nook copy

After! A reading nook.

(Wall art by Johanna Wright; faux lambskin rugs by Ikea.)


And, oh, what a cozy place it is — to snuggle up with some good books and my cuddly boys and treat ourselves to a good read.


Note: I updated the books on the sidebar recently — there are some good reads floating around this house (and landing in the reading nook).  Check ‘em out!



home science station


I notice, as time goes by and our curiosity grows, that there’s more and more of a desire to bring the outdoors in.  That is, as babies (or at least, my baby) become less-baby-more-toddler, the natural tendencies to seek, to study, and to collect things come into focus.

I’ve been taking a wonderful e-course called Playful Learning where I’m discovering all about how (and why) to collect materials and create spaces in my home that are more conducive to, you guessed it, playing and learning.  What’s really cool about the course is that it appeals directly to the things that are important to me — I suppose you could say, to my parenting values.  It does so in a way that helps me feel really capable and creative when I’m thinking about how to make our home more user-friendly, specifically, for kids.  And it’s funny thing — as much as I know in my heart I care a lot about exposing my child to art and music and science and nature and reading and writing …I also see myself sometimes making counter-productive choices to that end — like putting all the art supplies on an unreachable shelf, or being uptight about getting a little dirt on my floors. This course is helping me realign my desires for my home with my desires for my child (and my life) — you know, like a good coach would.

With Orlis’ growing proclivity towards hunting and gathering, I decided to start with creating a space that emphasizes things found.   One of the first homework assignments for the course is to locate some viable nooks and crannies throughout your living space that might transform easily into child-centered spaces.  I found this one, smack dab in the center of our living room.  I mean, is this wall just begging to be a toddler-sized science center, or what?  The lucky happenstance is, when we first moved in, we hung this wonderful painting of some cracks in the sidewalk by my very talented aunt on the wall.  She’s a big-time inspiration to me for all things having to do with capturing the beauty and complexity of the natural world.  I had her gorgeous-but-lonely painting sitting there all by her herself in the perfect-sized nook for a little table and the beginnings of some found things.  What better object to set the scene?

I made the very easy one-word banner from Handmade Home and within an hour had the whole bite-size Science Station assembled.  A few garage sale items re-purposed (like the little wooden board which is actually an old game piece), some family heirloom pottery, a few sprigs of lavender from our driveway and some mint from our herb garden, some of the rocks Orlis has been bringing indoors, a handful of sand and a postcard procured from our recent trip to the coast, and a flower in a jelly jar, Orlis’ collection basket, and a beloved piece of feedsack fabric to provide a backdrop.  All of it was in the house or just outside, and now it’s here, displayed, for further discovery.     

Oh, I love this little table already, and I know, as time passes it will change and change a hundred times as the seasons do and so do our fascinations with the great big world.  I know we’ll easily find many things to pile and gather in the shelf below, and I know the living things will die and be replaced with other tangible items of interest.  For now, it’s simple and easy, this little science station — the perfect place for a toddler to bring in his outdoor treasures for more handling and organizing, and deeper relationship.

And so far, there have been no bugs and no dead rodents.  Let’s wait and see….



nature table

This was easy enough — a nature table!  I got the idea from a good friend, and went to work immediately — and by work, I mean I gathered a few gourds at the farmer’s market and brought them home.  Lo and behold, they are among the most favorite toys — fun to hold and that pimply flesh!  Such a delicious texture, indeed.

I love the idea of a nature table and will definitely continue it going forward — gathering a little of the outdoors to bring indoors symbolizing the season, and adding to it some other symbolic objects that also bring a bit of seasonal flair.  Fall is easy enough — a few gourds and pumpkins, and later this week I think Orlis and I will do some leaf gathering, as they are just beginning to turn.  I’m already turning my thoughts to winter…pinecones and needles?  A few bare branches?  A stuffed polar bear?

Still being a relatively new mom, I am both delighted and astounded at how the natural world, or the elements, if you will — water, sand, mud, wind, anything-that-grows, and anything-that-breathes — so easily trumps every other kind of plaything.  My child is endlessly interested in the variant textures nature offers; the smells, the movement of the ants and each and every leaf.  Ok, let’s be fair — I probably should put the word “Elements” in quotes — as we are talking New York City here.  So, it’s not beach, it’s sandbox.  It’s not wild nature, it’s the Botanic Gardens….but still.  Our days here are numbered and we are soaking it in, urban jungle that it is, and finding those little spots where the earth still shows herself, ready to be explored with all five senses.  

We are loving it, this most tactile world of discovery.  And, at the end of the day, a little bit of nature indoors, cozy and well-lit with a cup of tea, a cookie, and a tame kitty is really nice too.   Indeed.