make-believe: back to school.

    August 22, 2019

    I thought it was exciting to head back to school after summer break as a kid, but this is the first year I’m really experiencing the giddy excitement of back-to-school season as a parent. I’d never wish away summer, but there’s something so comforting about both the return to routine and the increased independence that a new school year brings for everyone. Here’s my imaginary first day of school outfit. Even a mom can dream.

    A Twister tee for having fun.

    Move over plastic markers, enter wax pastels.

    A linen pouch for school supplies and other things.

    Reusable inter-departmental mail envelopes , forever please.

    A fresh pair of jeans, just waiting to be broken in and loved for a longtime.

    A classic pack made from recycled water bottles.

    New sneaks on a mission to do some good.


    In an effort to ground all of this make-believing in something a bit more down to earth, another place to direct our attention:

    The Amazon Rainforest: It’s burning. The Amazon Rainforest provides 20% of the Earth’s oxygen, it’s home to more than 400 indigenous groups and 30% of the world’s species. It’s currently burning at an unprecedented rate—up more than 80% from this time last year—thanks in large part to environmental deregulation that has encouraged deforestation.

    + Donate: Céline Semaan of Study Hall has worked closely with Veja, makers of the sneakers shown above, and a leader in ethical shoe production and rubber sourcing in the Amazon Rainforest. On recommendation from folks on the ground in Brazil, she suggests donating to the local organization Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) which is supporting Indigenous people and their fight to protect the Amazon rainforest. You can find more of their work at #PovosdaFloresta.

    + Learn: Read more here about Indigenous activists working to save the Amazon Rainforest.

    + Vote with your wallet. Find Rain Forest Alliance certified goods. Support companies like Veja and Cariuma that champion ethical rubber production. Consider the source of agricultural products like beef, soy, and palm oil, many of which rely on deforestation of the Amazon for production.

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

    simple stuff: bedside reading lamps.

    August 21, 2019

    plug-in wall lamps

    The reading light that hung above my bed as a kid never sat quite flush against the wall (or not for long anyway). It rocked when I turned it on and off and it slumped at an angle that made it look just a little dopey. It was a plug-in fixture with an articulating arm and to better achieve the soft glow of “candlelight” that I told my parents I preferred to read by, I would drape a polyester blanket over the brass shade. Yes, it’s a wonder I didn’t burn the house down.

    I don’t mean to scare anyone with that childhood anecdote, but I’ve been thinking about that lamp lately and I think the memory illustrates two truths: 1) There’s something special about the bedside lamp you use to read bedtime stories as a kid. 2.) Bedtime isn’t the moment for the harsh glare of an overhead lamp.

    A bedside lamp needs to be something that’s easy to reach. It needs to be unobtrusive. Bright enough to read by, but nothing like a floodlight. It’s a lamp with a glow that I’m after. You might say, like candlelight.

    Here are a few finds that I’ve gathered in my search for my kids’ room:

    Radar Plug-In Sconce from Schoolhouse Electric: I keep returning to this fixture. I think it might be a bit too modern and a bit too industrial for the rest of our apartment but it’s kind of jaunty and has an air of summer camp about it that’s appealing for a kids’ room.

    Hector Small Dome Clip Lamp by Original BTC: I love these bone china lamps (in all of there many forms) so much. I’m not actually sure the clamp configuration would work with our particular set-up, but I had to include this longtime favorite anyway.

    Nymane Reading Wall Lamp from Ikea: These simple powder-coated steel fixtures are also appealing and come recommended by another reader. I think the simple lines here could work well paired with the more modern lines of the bunks. If I’m feeling brave, I might take the bus down to Ikea and check them out in person.

    Lovell Porcelain Wall Sconce from Barn Light Electric: This is by far the most customizable option that I’ve found. It doesn’t have the same magic glow of the BTC lamp, but the shape is similarly classic and with the right combination of finishes I think it could look lovely. (I’d choose white on white, if you had any doubt.)

    Jansko LED Clamp Light from Ikea: This lamp wins the prize for the most number of recommendations in yesterday’s post. It’s not something I would have picked out myself, but I can see the appeal and it’s growing on me. It’s certainly the least obtrusive option in terms of hardware and size, to say nothing of price.

    Isaac Plug-In Sconce from Schoolhouse Electric: These little globe lights have enjoyed lots of time in the limelight. I’m not sure they’d be my first choice in our apartment, but in searching for simple plug-in sconces, their ubiquity makes sense. They’re beautifully made by a trusted company and they’re small and compact in a lighting world where so much is not.

    What do you think? I’m not sure any of them are exactly right, but time will tell. And no matter. I’ve never shied away from a Goldilocks moment. If you have others to recommend, let me know!

  • life in a tiny apartment.

    We live in New York City. And while the crumbling brownstone we call home is far from the most extreme example in this city of people living one on top another, when we fall…

    August 19, 2019 33 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. these sweet sheets. {a gift for new bunks from genius printmakers, lewis.} 2. these well-loved paints. {and little guy who runs to use them ~5x a day.} 3. this basil. {for being cheapest,…

    August 16, 2019 5 Comments
  • tackling a reupholstery project.

    The first thing to know when tackling a reupholstery project is that those time-lapse videos that you see of people rapidly removing staples and easily smoothing fabric before giving a yank here and a…

    August 15, 2019 19 Comments
  • natural beauty: herbal foot soak.

    There are more noble pursuits than sloughing dead skin from your heels and ensuring that your chipping pedicure doesn’t see the light of day for one for one more minute, but I’m here to…

    August 14, 2019 8 Comments
  • borrowed words.

    No! This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language.…

    August 12, 2019 3 Comments
  • my week in objects (mostly).

    1. this finished project. {because, finally. more just as soon as i’ve recovered.} 2. this pumice stone. {because summertime feet just need a little help.} 3. this little spot of cheer. {because who could…

    August 9, 2019 7 Comments