my week in objects (mostly).

    June 14, 2019

    1. these little signs.

    paper tags | reading my tea leaves

    {for helping kids to remember where to stash their pajamas.}

    2. this rug.

    cotton rug | reading my tea leaves

    {for being freshly washed.}

    3. this laundry bag.

    laundry hamper | reading my tea leaves

    {for being very temporarily empty.}

    4. these old train tracks.

    old train tracks | reading my tea leaves

    {found to match a little vintage set we already had. now we can finally manage a figure eight.}

    5. this craft basket.

    basket | reading my tea leaves

    {in a new temporary spot that’s blessedly out-of-reach.}

    other things:

    almost as absurd as dressing a chicken in overalls.

    never not excited about a fresh bar.

    dream pants.

    this for dinner, please.

    climate crisis.

    psst: samples, sold.

    a colossal social failure to provide substantive avenues of flourishing, care, and communal generosity.

    baby proof: sun protection.

    June 13, 2019

    sun protection for kids that's good for people and good for the planet | reading my tea leaves

    My kids’ feet have sandal lines on them. Despite our efforts to keep them fairly well protected, it’s mid-June and their little feet (and mine) are already showing the effects of our sun-loving habits. I think we’re probably like a lot of families. We know we’re supposed to protect ourselves from the sun, but putting that protection into practice takes some diligence. And then there’s the question of the best way to go about protecting ourselves in the first place.

    Last month, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study confirming that four active ingredients in sunscreen—avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, and ecamsule—can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The study isn’t proof yet that this absorption is harmful, but it has prompted the FDA to take a closer look at over-the-counter sunscreens and they’re preparing a final recommendation to be published later this year. The proposed rule states that sunscreens that rely on physical UV-blockers that aren’t absorbed into the skin—zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide—will be “generally regarded as safe and effective,” and that others, like the ones that include trolamine salicylate and para-aminobenzoic acid, will not be.

    More than only being concerning for humans, there’s also considerable evidence that certain chemicals—like oxybenzone and octinoxate—found in sunscreens are directly contributing to the rise in coral reef mortality rates. Places like Hawaii and Key West have banned sunscreens with these chemicals, asking that tourists and residents use reef-safe formulations instead. Of course, before you let out a sigh of relief, no, there’s no official “reef-safe sunscreen” definition and yes, last year a study suggested that zinc oxide might also be damaging to corals. OOF.

    The bottom line is that while there’s a whole lot that’s still unclear, what is clear is that we probably need a multi-pronged approach to sun protection. In an effort to find sun protection that’s healthy for people and healthy for the planet, here are a few of the approaches our family is taking to keep our kids (and ourselves) protected from the sun, simply.

    sun protection for kids that's good for people and good for the planet | reading my tea leaves


    Straw hats: Growing up my sisters and I each had a wide-brimmed straw hat that we wore on long days spent outside. They kept our faces and shoulders covered, not to mention a good portion of the rest of us, too. I’ve carried on the tradition with my own kids. Faye and Silas both have a Brookes Boswell Nantes Straw Hat. The hats come with a drawstring that’s helpful for keeping them secure in the wind, and keeping them out of my hands when the kids decide they need a hat break. They’re not the easiest to stash or pack, but they offer tons of shade.

    Brimmed caps: For something more packable, I’d look toward the sweet canvas caps from Pulp Co. They look easy to wear and easy to stuff into a backpack, or the back of a stroller, or the inside a bucket on the way to the beach. Also: Extremely cute.

    Floppy sun hats: Packable and offering coverage of nose and neck, floppy sun hats might strike a reasonable compromise between a wide-brimmed straw hat and flat-billed cap. Silas has a sweet cotton knit Starling Sun Hats from Misha & Puff that he willingly wears on sandbox sojourns. City Proof makes an SPF 50 Floppy Swim Hat in colors to match its rash guards. And Polarn O. Pyret makes a UV Powered Eco Sun Hat that offers impressive neck and ear coverage.

    sun protection for kids that's good for people and good for the planet | reading my tea leaves

    Rash Guards:

    As a kid, the only people I saw wearing rash guards were the amateur boogie boarders seeking thrills on the gentle waves of the Long Island Sound. Luckily for my kids, their use has become far more widespread. It’s easy to find inexpensive and effective rash guards that offer SPF 50 protection that won’t wash off in the water.

    Canopea: This swimwear company prioritizes ethical production and sun protection and has pretty colors and sweet designs to boot. I love that their rash guards—called Rashtops—snap at the shoulder. (I’ve unintentionally made both of my children cry by yanking rash guards over their heads!). Canopea swimwear is rated SPF 50 and made from recycled polyamide that comes from rescued fishing nets and other post-consumer nylon waste.

    Polarn O. Pyret: They have fewer options in terms of color or design, but I love the classic Eco Rash Guards Swim trunks (…even Evo Surfer Pants!) from Polarn O. Pyret. They’re also rated at SPF 50 and made from recycled polyamide and spandex.

    City Threads: This company doesn’t use recycled nylon, but the quality and sun protection they offer are both solid, plus they’re affordable. We’ve had a few City Threads Rash Guards (and shorts!) over the years. They’re simple and come in a wide range of solid colors. (Just perhaps take my advice and skip the white one; unless of course you want to see the dirt your kid accumulates on their person in just one hour at the beach.)


    There are few things I love more than the beach in the late-afternoon and early evening. Growing up, it was the time of day when my family and I mostly made our way to the water. My mom—a fair-skinned and freckled red-head—made sure that we didn’t spend long hours at the beach during peak sunlight hours.

    Inside from 12 pm – 2 pm: James and I try to be mindful of keeping this general schedule with my kids. We make sure we’re out early and out late but that we spend a few careful hours inside or in the shade when the sun is highest in the sky.

    sun protection for kids that's good for people and good for the planet | reading my tea leaves


    In our family we’ve long taken the physical UV-blocker sunscreen route. I can’t say it’s always made for the most pleasant sunscreen wearing experience, and it can be a beast to wash off at the end of the day, but we’ve found a few good formulas over the years in case anyone else is on the hunt:

    Beauty Counter: I had the chance to test-drive a few of the different Beauty Counter sunscreen products this year and I really like their Counter Sun Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30, ditto my kids. It goes on easily and doesn’t leave us feeling too sticky or too ghostly. Good news, it comes in a easily totable Sunscreen Stick, too.

    Erbaviva: Their new zinc-based Baby Sun Stick is thick and creamy but not sticky. They sent a sample for my kids to try and it’s become Silas’s favorite. He never misses an opportunity to apply it *liberally* himself. Bonus: It smells like lavender.

    Supergoop: Newly launched this summer, the Supergoop Sunny Screen is a baby and toddler-specific line that uses non-nano zinc oxide as its primary defense against the sun. It comes in a spray, a stick, or a lotion and is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. I haven’t used this new line myself but I would feel confident to give it a try.

    Loving Naturals: The Loving Naturals Adorable Baby sunscreen uses a non-nano zinc oxide, but still manages to go on clear. It’s a bit on the oily side, but that’s also what makes it kind of lovely—it feels moisturizing in ways that other sunscreens don’t. Bonus: It looks like they’re using a new bottle since I last bought from them which means folks will have an easier time of squeezing out the last drop!

    What else? What are your tried and true sun solutions for kids?

    This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

    make your own: corded clothes hanger.

    June 11, 2019

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves

    In New York City there tend to be two types of closets: the ones that are too small and the ones that are non-existent. In this extremely simple project, Rose Pearlman solves for both. She showed me how to take a simple cord made from cotton clothesline and turn it into a versatile closet organizer—or, dare I say, a closet in and of itself.

    The project uses the same simple cording technique shown in her paper roll hanger, only this time we added hangers and hooks and got rewarded with more storage space that’s pretty to look at, too.

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves

    Our family of four shares just one closet, so we sort most of the kids’ clothes into soft-sided bins in their wardrobe. This week, I made a corded clothes hanger to hang on an existing hook in their room. It created the perfect place to hang the small dresses and shirts that benefit from not getting too squished in bins.

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves

    I added a small j-hook to the bottom of the cord for hanging Faye’s sunhat.

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves

    In other spot, I used all hooks instead of hangers. I looped and cinched the cord over our wooden closet rod and added hooks on alternating sides to create an organized catch-all for totes and reusable grocery bags.

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves

    For capsule closet enthusiasts (or anyone who likes to do a little advance planning), this corded hanger can also function as a spot to plan outfits and have pressed clothes neat and ready for the next day.

    As Rose says, “all you need for this tutorial is two fingers, ten minutes and some rope.” She gives the step-by-step instructions below:

    corded clothes hanger | reading my tea leaves


    + 18-feet of cotton rope (size #6 pictured but you can use a wide variety of string/rope)
    + Scissors
    + Hangers or hooks


    + Start by holding the tail end of your rope in the left hand. Leave an 6-inch tail in the front of your palm and bring the remaining cord between your pointer finger and your middle finger of your left hand.

    + Working with the long end of the cord, wrap the cord around your middle finger (clockwise) to the front of your hand, then circle it back between your fingers at a diagonal and wrap counterclockwise around your pointer finger. 

    + Continue back between your two fingers again at a diagonal and once more around your middle finger and through the two fingers to the back of your hand (clockwise). You are making a figure 8 with the cord around your two fingers.

    + You should have two loops around your middle finger, and the working cord is hanging in back of your left hand. Working with the two loops on your middle finger, carefully bring the loop on the bottom over the top loop and off your finger. You will have one loop remaining on both of your fingers.

    + Now wrap the working rope counter clockwise around the pointer finger to create a second loop. Let the working rope hang in back of your hand as you pass the bottom loop over the top and off your pointer finger. You just completed your first knot on both sides. 

    + You will continue to cord in this manner making a figure eight around your two fingers and sliding the bottom loop over the top. Pull the tail end of the rope (lying in front of your palm) down to lengthen out the cord as you work.

    + When you reach your desired length, cut a 6-inch tail end from your working rope. Thread the cut end through the single loop on the middle finger (from the inside out) releasing the loop from your finger. Then thread the tail end through the pointer finger loop (from the inside out) and off your finger. Pull tight to cinch together.

    + If you prefer having an extra large loop for hanging on the top and on the bottom of your cord, simply tie the extra cord into a loop and secure with a knot.

    + The large loop on the top or bottom of the cord can be used to hang from a hook or off a coat hanger. If you have a metal or wooden rod in your closet, you can secure your cord to the pole by threading the tail end of the cord through the opposite loop and around the closed pole.

    + To hang multiple hangers off the rope simply insert the metal hook of each hanger finding the natural openings in the woven fiber. Continue to stack hangers working top to the bottom. The cord should hang in front of the hangers so additional hangers can be placed when needed.

    Step-by-step instruction images were taken by Rose Pearlman. All other photos by Erin Boyle.

    Thanks to Rose Pearlman for developing this project and writing the instructions. Rose is an artist, teacher, and textile designer. With a background in fine arts and a love of well designed functional objects, her creations blur the lines between art and craft and pushes the boundaries with non-traditional techniques and materials. Rose teaches monthly rug hooking workshops in and around her home in NYC, and also welcomes commissions for one of a kind constructions in decor and home furnishings. Her work has been featured in fiber magazines, galleries, and numerous online design sites. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

    This post includes affiliate links. Reading My Tea Leaves might earn a small commission on the goods purchased through those links. 

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    June 7, 2019 3 Comments
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    May 31, 2019 12 Comments
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