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Hazel Village

It’s been 49 days since my last post. I would apologize for the long drought, but I have a totally valid excuse! In that time I’ve had a baby (birth story to come later). Believe it or not, my newborn is now 1 month and 2 weeks old. Yet, I cannot seem to remember a time before baby! His name is Josiah, and for short we call him Joss. He was named after his late grandmother Jo Ann who was known to everyone as Josie. Joss is curious, alert, patient and generally content. He absolutely adores the sensation of bath time splashing and the comfort of warm water. I used to take roughly two epsom salt baths a week while I was pregnant (my respite from aches), so I wonder if  any of that carries post womb?

In celebration of Joss’ huge one month milestone, we took him to Hazel Village’s new Gowanus, Brooklyn workshop which is a short 20 minute walk from our house. Founded by Jane Van Cleef, Hazel Village is like an organic, hipster Build-a-Bear. Van Cleef was inspired to create these wonderful woodland creatures in homage to favorite childhood stories like Brambly Hedge, Uncle Wiggly, and the Little House tales. Her dolls are heirloom quality at a reasonable prices. They also have a retro whimsical affect to them that is ineffable; making them feel like treasured keepsakes from bygone days. As an added bonus, the brand upholds the tenets of fair trade and paid labor. Many of the stuffed animal’s clothing prints are collaborations from other famed children’s shops and printmakers such as Winter Water Factory or Liberty of London. The cute cast of stuffed animals ranges from Reginald Fox to Ella Toad to Phoebe Fawn to Lucas Rabbit and counting!

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We chose Jeremy Owl as Joss’ first ever bespoke toy. And we even hand stitched his name on the animal’s chest inside a heart. Jeremy is about 14″ tall, Joss was 19.5″. He is made of gray organic cotton fleece, with natural wing tips and face, green legs and beak. He is stuffed with washable polyfill and his eyes are embroidered with cotton embroidery floss. Jeremy Owl loves to paint portraits of his friends. Since he’s a creature of the forest, he uses smooth pieces of bark or wood instead of paper.

Please pardon mom’s tired eyes, unsupportive nursing bra, and general malaise. Focus on the babe. May Joss play with Jeremy Owl for many years to come and may it be a real HOOT! Get it? Groan. Now back to childcare.

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Painting the Nursery

I am waiting for the ultimate surprise. In t-minus 9 weeks, the gender of Baby T will be revealed! Strangely, a lot of prep work seems to be contingent on old, traditional norms. Pottery Barn, OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s, Old Navy and other big brands are convinced that “male means blue” and “female means pink.” The birthing industrial complex kindly suggests green, yellow and grey as unisex hues. Onesies, house paint, socks, and animal-themed toys (lions are on “boy teethers” / birds are on “girl swaddlers”) are all codependent on antiquated tropes. Some of the clothes even seem overtly sexist, “Mommy’s littler helper” and “Daddy’s princess.” Sigh.

That said, a few brands get the aesthetically pleasing, gender-neutral baby fashion (and lifestyle) items right without all of the saccharine, cutesie details: Boden, Giggle, Sprout, Tea Collection, Burt’s Bees Baby, KicKee Pants, SkipHop, RenĂ© RofĂ© Baby, and hundreds of independent brands found online and via Etsy.

Now that my nesting instinct has kicked in at (just shy of) 32 weeks, my personal struggle with the “gender wars” came this past weekend. In my desire to check errands off of my (never-ending) list, calm anxieties, or feel superficially prepared for the whirlwind of a newborn, I decided this Saturday was the time to paint. Four of my wonderful friends obliged and were paid in delicious Greek food and major gratitude.

Headed to Lowe’s Home Improvement with nothing but a few dream photographs from Pinterest, I had little idea of what color to choose. Originally, I had wanted a minimal and Scandinavian white. But, my friend Sonja said such a dull color was “unnecessarily punishing the baby with bland” and also, not indicative of the excitement, joy and magical exuberance of a child. Tall order.

Hours later, we chose Valspar’s Mint Hint. I’m told it pairs well with Apple Slice, Lime Sherbet, and Pearly Violet. Considered a blue undertoned neutral, it easily complements grey, wood, and pastel. Step one of our unisex mint nursery is now complete!

Now on to modern yet infant appropriate decor.

A Modern, Gender Neutral Mint Colored Nursery

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P.S. Yours truly, neurotic mom-to-be, promises the room was HIGHLY ventilated – windows and doors were open.
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Williamsburg Walkabout

In my six years in NYC, I have lived two in Harlem, three in Chelsea, and now one in South Brooklyn. Each neighborhood boasted a proximity to other neighborhoods that I could explore in my spare time. While in Harlem, I would often walk south to Morningside Heights, or east to Spanish Harlem. In Chelsea, I would go down to Meatpacking and through the West Village on a weekly basis. Now, in South Brooklyn, I find myself drawn to Red Hook, and Fort Greene. But, for the first time in my life I have direct access to the G Train, and with that comes North Williamsburg (and Southern Greenpoint).

Williamsburg, for me at least, was always the trendy cousin of Manhattan: great for clever outdoor markets, special (raw, vegan, fusion, truffle, buzzword) birthday dinners, spotting all-black-clad models / gallery girl rejects, counting tattoos, and sipping French press coffee. But honestly, I never thought of the neighborhood as an actual residence. It was more like a rowdy vacation home.

With ease of access only a few stops away, the seventies vinyl siding of North Williamsburg’s less than stellar architectural remnants is now only minutes away.

 Walkabout Hitlist:

“I come from nowhere Brooklyn, New York. Williamsburg, Brooklyn. These days Williamsburg is kind of a hip area, but when I grew up there, the taxi drivers wouldn’t even go over the bridge, it was so dangerous.” – Barry Manilow