Cultivating Lagom with Lakeshore Dry Goods

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More than anything, savoring is about gratitude...It’s about keeping in mind that you live right now, allowing yourself to focus on the moment and appreciate the life you lead, to focus on all that you do have, not what you don’t. Cliche? Totally.
— Meik Wiking, "The Little Book of Hygge"

I've been known to obsess over "atmosphere". I can never sit down to work until the room feels cozy enough. I've purposefully gone to cafe's that are a bit more expensive, just because I appreciate the "vibe" more. I like to feel inspired, at ease, home-y, whether I'm writing a blog post, hosting a get-together, or just spending time with my family. If you read my blog post on cultivating a sense of home in "unlikely" seasons, you'll know that this phase of our life has been anything but home-y. We're currently in-between homes and, true to myself, I've found ways to create cozy, intentional moments even when we have no space to call our own. 

It's usually as simple as a familiar routine, hanging up some simple decor to make our temporary room feel like home, or for me, of course, creating a little "coffee corner" for myself to wake up in each morning. 

Believe it or not, I'm not the only one who is obsessed with atmosphere and "coziness". 

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It turns out that there are entire cultures and lifestyles built around this idea of "the art of creating intimacy" and coziness and the more I learn about it all, the more it speaks to what my soul already loves and craves. 

I've spend the past few months reading three books on the subject. 

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living (here)

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets of Happy Living (here)

The Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World's Happiest People (here)

Each of these books are a little bit different, but each one hinges on the Scandinavian culture of slow, thoughtful living, a topic that, not surprisingly, I fall more in love with by the day. The words Lykke, Hygge, and Lagom have English translations, but ones that, I think, fall short of the native meanings. 


hygge

Pronunciation /ˈhʊɡə//ˈh(j)uːɡə/

NOUN

A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)


lykke 

Pronunciation/"lye-kee"

felicity, happiness {noun}


lagom

Pronunciation/

Lagom (pronounced [ˈlɑ̀ːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word meaning "just the right amount"... "enough, sufficient, adequate, just right". Lagom is also widely translated as "in moderation", "in balance", "perfect-simple", and "suitable" (in matter of amounts).


Although Scandinavian blood runs deep in my family, I can't claim to fully understand the depth and implications of living in a culture that so truly believes in these ideals. America, quite apparently, is far from the "just the right amount" mindset and our culture of more, bigger, and better has a tendency to distract. 

However. 

One of my deepest longings is to create a slow, thoughtful lifestyle for myself and my family. A lifestyle that doesn't continually need more. A family-culture centered around these notions of "less is more", gratitude, comfortable aesthetic, and experiences over things. Hygge, Lykke, and Lagom are, quite possibly, my biggest inspirations for Simply Liv & Co. other than my desire to grow the sustainable fashion movement. Unbeknownst to me, these concepts were so ingrained in me that I sought to live them out long before I knew what they were called, or even that cultures before me had done so for years and years and years. 

I strive to showcase products here that are both beautiful and functional. Lagom. Just enough. 

When Lakeshore Dry Goods reached out to me to collaborate, I wasn't sure how I was going to authentically share about towels. For one thing, I can't take a decent photo in them and, despite how much I use mine, it seems somehow different than sharing about a glamorous, easily photograph-able "capsule wardrobe staple", like I normally do. 

But, perhaps my mindset was all wrong. 

Perhaps the pieces that you use day in and day out, whether it's straight out of the shower, or in your real-life morning routine, or simply because your 3 and 4 year old love to look like mama, perhaps these are the pieces worth sharing about the most. 

Lakeshore Dry Goods uses organic, ethically sourced and sewn cotton to create their towels, which is noticeably gentler on hair and magically reduces frizz and tangles. Both of which, coming from a mother of two girls with insanely tangle-able hair, is a miracle straight from the hygge gods. 

It might seem silly to link a cotton towel to my "dream lifestyle" but, if I understand it correctly, living a lifestyle of "lagom" is about surrounding yourself with things that are both beautiful and functional. My girls look forward to each bath time, knowing that at the end, they'll cozy up with their very own "big girl" towel, just like mama does. 

I've been known to leave my Lakeshore towel on for almost an entire day, because it takes so much of the effort out of my normal hair-care routine. It reduces drying time, makes it easier to style my hair, is so much less bulky than a normal towel, and of course, I can focus on other things like making breakfast for my kiddos or enjoying my coffee in the morning for just a few minutes longer. 

My philosophy about enjoying the little things is so much simpler and more do-able when I'm not worried about silly things like spending time on my hair - a philosophy notably Danish and Swedish who are masters at the minimally undone looks. 

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Notoriously low-maintenance and a lover of all things simple, easy, and of course, beautiful, it's no surprise that my love for these simple towels is a reflection of my love for something much bigger: a lifestyle that I'm daily trying to emulate. And choosing the right towel, or the right coffee corner, or the best time to stay in and say no - it's all part of the hygge I'm constantly trying to achieve.

How do the concepts of hygge and lagom resonate with you? 


*This post was sponsored by Lakeshore Dry Goods, intentionally structured around these ideals that I try to portray in my everyday life. All opinions, photos, and obsessions with Scandinavia are my own.* 

A Zero Waste Picnic || Acacia Creations

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Lessening waste in today's world isn't easy. Nearly everything bought in a store is wrapped in plastic or made out of it. Attempting to buy items in bulk, plan meals in advance, and reduce your single use plastics takes forethought and effort - much more so than a quick, convenient run to the super market to pick up dinner to go. 

For the past month, I've been attempting to participate in Plastic Free July and, if nothing else, it's opened my eyes even more to the sheer amount of plastic and waste that's readily available at our finger tips on a daily basis. 

Some days I succeeded and others I failed miserably (our roadtrip to Omaha was particularly bad), but if there's one thing I learned during the challenge it's that small, pre-planned actions really can add up. Reducing waste may not be the easiest option, but with some habit re-wiring, and a bit of effort, it's totally possible and incredibly rewarding. 

One of the hardest parts of living a low waste lifestyle for me is the addition of my kiddos to the mix. It's difficult enough to reduce waste as a single person or someone living with a partner, but with a family, especially one with young kids, it can seem impossible. Gifts come wrapped in (or made of) plastic, most food that is marketed towards kids is covered in single-use plastic, and frankly, it's much more of a hassle to buy in bulk, plastic free, and plan ahead with two grumpy toddlers in tow at the grocery store. Straws, plastic plates, styrofoam...the works...it's all the norm for most families regardless of how old their kids are. 

So when Acacia Creations, an artisan marketplace I've admired for a few years, asked to partner on a blog post centered around a zero-waste summer picnic, I was skeptical. I was sure that, true to our normal tendencies, we'd cave and buy prepackaged food for the picnic, or that I'd forget silverware and drift towards the plastic-ware aisle. But I knew it was worth a shot. Acacia was sweet enough to send over a few pieces that not only made my zero-waste picnic much more aesthetically pleasing, but inspired me to follow through with my plans to have a truly zero-waste meal with my family. 

A bit about the brand before we dive into the pieces, because as many beautiful ethical marketplaces as there are, Acacia has one of the sweetest and most impacting missions of any that I've found yet. Acacia Creations is based in Nairobi, but works in 7 different countries across Africa and Asia. More than a fair trade company, Acacia creates jobs, provides training and health care, and gives back to each community they're involved in. Their pieces are extremely well designed (I've had their olive wood servers for a year or so as well and love how durable yet beautiful they are) and are handmade by craftsman carving out a better livelihood for themselves and their families. 

With their gorgeous handwoven cotton table runner as a centerpiece, and their clear Zanzibar canister (made from upcycled bottles found on beaches with a handcarved wooden lid) as a beautiful multi-use piece, I hauled the whole group outside earlier this week to test just how zero-waste we could be. 

Although preparing for the picnic wasn't nearly as quick and easy as running to pick up a carton of prepackaged fruit and a sandwich to share, preparing our food ahead of time felt much more intentional and, of course, healthy. I made a quick salad, cut up some watermelon (my girls' favorite), and sauteed some brussel spouts and corn for something a bit more filling and comforting. 

I put it all in reusable, glass containers, grabbed a few forks from the kitchen and glasses to fill with water when we got there, and tossed it all in my Mother Erth tote and we were off. It was a windy, rainy afternoon, but the sun cleared just long enough for us to eat and take a few photos before the thunder started rolling in. 

We didn't have plates and, if we had more than just us joining in, I would have spent more time crafting a more well-rounded meal, but on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to prep, pack, picnic, and put away. Our reliance on convenience can brainwash us into believing that it's not possible to do things the "old fashioned way" - however, I, like so many others out there, am working on rewiring my go-to habits and making them as ethical, sustainable and kind as possible. 

With Plastic Free July nearly over, I'm curious, how many of you try to live a low waste lifestyle? What has been your biggest struggle and/or how have you rewired your own habits to be more sustainable? 


*This post was sponsored by Acacia Creations. All photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible*

Self Care with Curie || Everyday Elegance

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The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
— Audrey Hepburn

Self-care isn't a one-size-fits all event. For some, it's making space for a long, quiet run in the morning before the rest of the world is awake. For others, it's spending an afternoon alone in a cozy cafe people watching or catching up with a friend. Caring for your self doesn't have to look a certain way, it doesn't have to be planned, take a long time, or even be expensive. Self care is simply whatever makes you feel like you. Whatever helps you feel refreshed after a long day. Rejuvenated. Revived. 

As a mom of two toddlers and a self-proclaimed lover of solitude, self care usually involves alone time and something that feels "extravagant", be it a pour over at my favorite coffee shop or a mini-spa night at home. True extravagance (involving spending a lot of money) is rare, but luckily, it doesn't take much for me to feel refreshed - although entire days dedicated to self care are definitely appreciated and recommended ;) 

Lately, I've been staying home with my girls for the majority of the day, so true moments of peace and quiet are few and far between. When I do get those treasured moments of silence though, I'm dead set on creating the perfect ambiance, whether I'm taking a bath or writing a blog post. When it's the former "self care event" I've been relying on the help of a good candle, some essential oils, maybe a glass of wine, and my favorite Curie products to help set the mood. Whether it's ten minutes or an hour, creating the ambiance with things I love and products that make me feel "pampered" is a surefire way to help me feel more like "me" and less like hot mess mom of two never-tiring toddlers.

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If you've followed along for the past few months, you've heard about Curie several times. I've been using their Bella Flor perfume and lotion for the majority of this year and love that their brand focuses on small batch, organic, artisan created fragrance, instead of chemical-laden, mass produced scents.

After acquainting myself with Curie, I decided to broaden my relationship with their beautiful line of products and try their shower kit. If it smelled anything like their Bella Flor perfume did I knew I'd be hooked. 

Not surprisingly, their shampoo/conditioner/body wash trio is just as impressive, fragrant, and effective as their other products I've tried. Something about Curie exudes simple elegance and I love how just opening a bottle of their body wash feels like a quick moment of indulgence. The rest of my "beauty routine" is fairly minimal and sometimes non-existent, but when it comes to what I use to wash my hair and body, I'm oddly picky. To find something that checks boxes in everything from effectiveness, to ethics, to gorgeous branding makes me feel pretty cared for. 

Other than the occasional semi-extravagant DIY spa evening at home, I feel cared for and refreshed when I'm taking in the sights and drinking slowly brewed coffee at a new coffee shop, when I'm writing (not for my job), and when my home and closet feel intentionally organized and beautiful. 

Now you tell me, what's your "self-care style" and how are you making it a priority? Here are some of the responses I got on my Instagram photo from last night (I LOVED reading what makes you feel like YOU.)

  • "I take a walk on the beach or wok on a painting" - @happilyemerson
  • "Drinking a glass of wine on the back patio by myself while I watch the sunset." - @purposefullyminimal
  • "Well, no bathtub in my house, so turning off screens, using all the essential oils, going outside, reading..." - @sb.monhollon
  • "We go on a nightly walk together!" - @the.minimalist.kin
  • "Definitely spending time watering and caring for my plants, diffusing oils, doing a face mask, and probably drinking an iced coffee" - @emmmma_rhodes
  • "I go to gym classes, and push myself hard! I bike to the farmers market, and then bake for the whole day." - @EthicallyKate
  • "I love being alone in bed with a book and a glass of wine. No boyfriend, no family, just me." - @unpetitsourireslowsdown

*This post was part of an ongoing partnership with Curie. All thoughts and photographs are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep SL&Co. running (and make you feel good in the process ;)*

A Home In Between Homes

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This was supposed to be a sponsored home tour - a review of my favorite "home brands" that I used daily and displayed in my home. But then we moved. Suddenly and without much of a plan, we had to leave our first home here in CO (a tiny, overpriced two bedroom condo that needed lots of attention and TLC). We've relocated - er, moved in with my wonderful parents - in efforts to save some money for a house of our own and "get back on our feet" after a long period of job hopping for my husband and discouragement for both of us. 

It's a fresh season. It's a good season. But, strangely, we don't have a home to call our own at the moment. All things considered, this probably isn't the best timing to publish a blog post about home goods. But I'm nothing if not an eternal optimist and so, the homeless blogger will blog about home things ;) 

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I've lived in lots of "homes" in the lifespan of this blog - there was the cozy one bedroom house on G street, the loft above the garage, then the three year stretch that we were first time homeowners of a gorgeous Victorian fixer-upper. Home, the belongings we put inside it, and the feelings attached to it, has been in a state of flux for my family and I for years. And as much as I'd love to feel "settled" in a space that was all my own that I could host guests in and decorate to match my dream aesthetic, I've learned a lot about what constitutes the concept of home for me in these semi-nomadic years. 

More than a single place or building, home has become a feeling. It's where my husband and daughters are, of course, but it's also where I feel most myself. Home is where my introverted self feels authentic and where I can be at ease. Sometimes home is a cozy coffee shop filled with people (literally. Coffee shops have always felt like home to me.) Sometimes it's getting lost in a conversation with someone I care about. Sometimes home is a place, but more often than not, it's the feelings I associate with a particular object, place, or person. 

So what is one to do when the walls around you change more often than you can track? When your plan for the future isn't set in stone and you don't have that "settled" feeling that so many of us long for? 

For me, intentionally gathering items that travel well from place to place and mimic my "dream aesthetic" has been huge in creating a home-y feeling wherever I'm at. I've gathered these pieces slowly, over the year(s) and some, like the fragrances, will need replacing, but others will last through the years whether we continue to house hop or we find a home to call our own. 

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Organic Cotton Sheets || Jefferson Lane Home

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It took me a long time to upgrade my bedding to a more sustainable option, but now that I have, I can't sleep on anything else. Jefferson Lane, who happens to be one of my sweet freelance clients, sent me a pair of their Organic Cotton Sheets and the benefits of switching from conventional cotton to organic are hard to beat. Even though we're staying at my parent's house, our sheets were one of the first things to come out of the box when we got settled in. 

Candles & Diffusers || 1502 Candle Co.

There's nothing like a beautiful fragrance to instill a sense of calm and home. Even though we're just occupying a single room, I have multiple candles and (my new favorite) a reed diffuser spread throughout. I love lighting my White Sage & Orange Blossom soy wax candle from 1502 Candle Co. at night when AJ and I are settling in after work. The reed diffuser keeps the room continuously fresh much more effectively than a candle and I love how they can function as a decor piece as well. 

Freeleaf

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My handknotted rug from Freeleaf is a statement piece with a beautiful story. Each Freeleaf piece is handmade from a single strand by a woman overcoming abuse or trafficking. That fact alone gives me hope each time I look at my rug.  

Ten Thousand Villages

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One of the "pioneers" of the fair trade movement, Ten Thousand Villages has been supporting artisan craftsmanship around the world for decades. I've partnered with them before, but recently added this stunning Bamboo Reflections mirror, handmade by the Dhaka Handicrafts artisan group in Bangladesh, and it's an heirloom piece I can't wait to display in my home for years to come. 

What pieces make you feel most at home? Is home more of a place or a feeling for you? 


*This post was sponsored by several brands. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Change Beyond Textiles || Fashion is Just the Beginning

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This week is my official "two year anniversary" of shopping ethically. Although not without bumps, doubts, "mistakes", and challenges, I can firmly say that even if my blogging days come to an end and I'm thrust back into the world of "real shopping", I'll never support Fast Fashion again. Knowing the things I know now, and equipped with the tools I have for making ethical shopping both convenient and accessible, two years will translate to a lifestyle for, well, life. 

That longevity can seem scary, or even over the top. What if I'm in a pinch? What if I can't afford to save money for "investment pieces"? What if my kids need new clothes more quickly than I can buy them? For every question that arises, I've learned that there are ethical answers for them all. Sometimes it's waiting longer to make a purchase. Sometimes it's not buying anything at all. Sometimes it's going to a thrift store to dig for alternatives, Sometimes it's making something myself. Sometimes it's putting "secondhand clothes" on my girls' birthday list. Sometimes it's practicing contentment.

And at a certain point, most people who make the commitment to shop ethically realize that ultimately, fashion is just the beginning. 

One of my favorite brands, that I've partnered with several times (three, in fact. 1, 2, 3,) and will continue to promote regardless of whether I'm "partnered" with them or not, embodies this "change beyond textiles" notion in more ways than one. MATTER Prints strives to foster connection and community - rather than exploitation and individual gain. They strive to mesh artisan trade with designer skill and, most excitingly to me as a consumer, to inspire customers to value "provenance", or, the story and art behind creation, not just the speed of it.

 When I spent time thinking about what Change Beyond Textiles means in preparation for this post, I was struck by how applicable it is in a personal sense, not just for a sustainable brand or fashion designer. Change beyond textiles is a call for constant growth. It's a challenge to never stop questioning the norm, a push to go beyond. 

For me, this push means carrying a conscious lifestyle into more areas than just my closet. It means choosing to care more, about everything, which sounds exhausting, but as I've learned from watching the ripple effects of spreading conscious shopping, choosing to care is contagious. 

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Change beyond textiles is lasting, it's life altering and, eventually, as more and more people notice and join in, it's world changing. 

Two years in, I'm not sure where this lifestyle is taking me, but the single choice to care about where my clothes were made and the stories they tell has opened more doors than I ever imagined. It's caused me to think about consumerism and ethics in a much larger scope, from the food I eat, to the way I parent, to the way I construct my "dream life". 

Change beyond textiles means there's hope for the contagion to spread. It means that taking a single step, be it a shopping fast, committing to reducing your waste, or researching before you buy that t-shirt, can cause others to ask the same kind of questions. Change beyond textiles means that the first step you take, no matter how scary or counter cultural it seems, is really just the beginning. 

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This post is part of a long term partnership with MATTER Prints. All opinions and creative direction are my own. Photos by Jones & Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep SL&Co. running!*