Sunday, April 13, 2014

Decorating: Kids Playroom Makeover

A few months after Olivia was born I realized that unless I wanted toys constantly strewn about the house, we were going to need a playroom. Luckily, Matt agreed that turning our hardly ever used "work-out room" into a playroom would be a good idea. It's been a very slow process getting this room together, but it's finally finished and I'm so happy to have a place to put her toys. Even if it hardly (okay, never) looks quite this clean. If you've been following my blog for a while, you might remember the Playroom inspiration board I put together about a year ago. While I didn't end up using anything from that original board, the overall look and color scheme are fairly similar.

The first thing I bought for this room were the Zigzag Curtains from West Elm.  Next I knew we needed some storage. A lot of storage! I was inspired by some of the Pottery Barn storage units but they were way too expensive for my budget. I decided on the Borgsjo Bookshelf from Ikea and put three of them together to create one big wall-to-wall storage unit. You can choose to add doors (it's nice to have some storage you can close off) which I did on two of the units. Then I simply added boxes and baskets for organizing toys. I wanted a pop of color and I'm really into lime green right now, so I painted the back of the bookshelves with a satin finish Berh paint from Home Depot. The whole thing was about a third of the cost of one of the Pottery Barn units.

The red locker from Ikea is a fun addition to the room. They have it marked as a TV media cabinet but I think it's the perfect storage item for a playroom or kids bedroom. The Ekby Karl curved serpentine wall shelf (also from Ikea) gives me a great place to display Olivia's favorite books. I was searching for a contemporary kids table and I ended up going with the Perch table from Room & Board. Since I'm not a "matchy matchy" girl when it comes to putting furniture together, I didn't care that the table didn't come with a set of chairs. The walnut rocking chair in there was mine when I was little, so it's more sentimental than anything else. I found the vintage school chair on a recent shopping trip for antiques. It was already painted yellow and I fell in love with it right away. I finished the room off with a small bold striped area rug from Land of Nod. It helps tie in the lime green color on the back of the shelves and it creates a nice space in the center of the room for the table and chairs. 

Now that we have baby number two on the way I'm even more convinced that we made the right decision turning this room into a playroom. And now that it's finished I feel like I can finally start working on my next decorating project. A nursery for our baby boy!

Thanks for reading!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Easy Spring Time Herb Garden

Olivia and I both had a cold this past week so things sort of slowed down here for a while. Being pregnant and sick, and having a sick toddler to care for, really takes its toll! We are finally getting back into the swing of things and I wanted to share this gardening project we finished before coming down with the sneezes and sniffles. 

It all started with a trip quick trip to Lowes. We were there to buy a new door handle for the house and right as we stepped in the store I ran smack dab into this baby. I've attempted a few herb gardens in the past but I always had problems with bugs eating them before I could. I thought having this little enclosed green house would certainly do the trick. Plus, I can't deny my instant visions of a blissful outdoor mother/daughter bonding project for me and Olivia. So just like that (and much to my husband's dismay) our "quick trip" to Lowes turned into an hour long shopping spree for herbs, planters, and potting soil.  

Here in California we seem to have skipped right over winter and gone straight to warmer spring weather, so we were able to enjoy working on this project outside. I bought plain terracotta pots (because they are cheap) and had Olivia paint them with Crayola washable kids paint. We used the neon colors for a bright summery look.  

After Olivia was done and they dried, I coated each one with a layer of Mod Podge so that the paint wouldn't come off when we watered the plants.  

The next day Olivia helped me plant all the herbs. She really enjoyed herself and it was super cute watching her try to be accurate while filling the pots with soil.   

She also loved the tiny watering can I bought her. In fact, after watering the new plants, she continued around the yard, watering pretty much everything in sight. By the time we were done I had a huge muddy mess to clean up, but it was totally worth it!

In all we planted rosemary, basil, chives, cilantro, and parsley. I also decided to try my luck with some sweet peppers and strawberries. Despite many past attempts at gardening, I actually don't have a green thumb at all, so we'll see how it goes. 

In the name of spring we've read a few books about caterpillars turning into butterflies lately, so Olivia is very interested in butterflies these days. I found some decorative clip on butterflies at Michael's and attached a few here and there just for fun. I think it's probably safe to say that playing with these was the highlight of the project for her.     

For me the highlight will be simply running out to the backyard whenever I need a little rosemary for my potatoes or cilantro for our dinner salad. Buying herbs at the grocery store is expensive and I never seem to use all of what I buy so a lot goes to waste.

At two years old I'm not sure how much Olivia really learned from this project but I know for a fact that she had fun working on it with me. Now hopefully I can remember to water them on a regular basis so we don't end up having something that looks more like a butterfly graveyard. 

Like I said, I don't have much of a green thumb so if you have any tips for me I am all ears. Thanks for reading!
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baby's First Bling - The Baltic Amber Teething Necklace

I recently tested out a Baltic amber teething necklace. Product was provided for my review.

Olivia has been fairly slow to get all her baby teeth and a few weeks ago she went through one of the worst teething spells we've had so far. It was awful, and after several days of preparing ice cold teething toys, frozen popsicles, and doses of children's Tylenol without any real relief, I was willing to try just about anything to help ease her pain. So when Amber For Babies contacted me and asked if I wanted to try one of their raw Balitc amber teething necklaces I pretty much couldn't say no. 

I remembered a conversation I had with another mom a while back about amber teething necklaces. She had them for both of her daughter's and swore by them as a natural teething remedy.  Baltic amber contains succinic acid which is said to be a naturally occurring pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. According to research, when it comes in contact with the skin over a period of time, the natural chemical is absorbed, which is supposed to have a strong soothing effect on the nervous system. 

Like any other mom, I was skeptical about the amber's healing properties and concerned about the potential danger to my daughter if the beads were to break. But like I said, I was pretty much willing to give anything a try. The amber beads are made with safety features such as individually knotted beads so that if the necklace breaks the beads do not scatter, however I would still recommend only using this jewelry while you are supervising your baby. Luckily, Olivia never seemed interested in actually putting the necklace in her mouth, but I think that highly depends on the kid. The beads don't have to be worn around the neck. You can double them up and put them on your baby's wrist or even around their ankle underneath a sock. For me personally I would still only let Olivia wear the beads when she was right in front of me. Never at night and never in the backseat of the car where I couldn't see what she was doing.

To be totally honest, I'm not sure if it was the amber itself or simply the excitement of having her very own piece of jewelry, but wearing the beads definitely seems to have a happy and calming effect on Olivia. Skeptical or not, I think that if you are struggling with a teething baby and are looking for some natural pain relief, the Baltic amber jewelry is at least worth a try. If you are interested, you can order a teething necklace made of 100% Baltic amber from Amber For Babies.  If you simply want to learn more about them, you can join their conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

So now I am curious. Have you, or would you, ever try an amber teething necklace for your baby? What was your experience?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fun Times With Ergobaby & Liz Lange At Baby Bloggy Boot Camp

This post is written by me on behalf of Liz Lange and Ergobaby. Products were provided for my use.

A few weeks ago I got my pregnant butt up at 5:30 in the morning, braved one of the biggest storms we've had in years, and drove two and a half hours south, all in the name of motherly bonding and cool new baby products. I have to say, it was totally worth it!

I've been to a few interior design conferences in the past but this was my very first blogging event, so I had no idea what to expect. This half day, mini conference was hosted by the SITS Girls and they were outstanding! Other than the wind and rain attacking vigorously outside, there was a real welcoming and laid back feel to the whole morning. TiffanyFrancesca, and the rest of the speakers gave some great advice. I learned a lot, not only from the speakers, but by chatting with the rest of the mommy bloggers there too. 

I got some great ideas for creating unique content and I learned first hand what brands are expecting from bloggers when it comes to writing a sponsored post. Most importantly I left feeling eager and inspired, which is something we could all use every now and then! Not only was it a great learning experience, but I'd be lying if I said that the product perks were anything less than amazing.

Ergobaby was one of the main sponsors of the event and they have really outdone themselves with their new ergonomically designed baby products that will be available this spring. The new Ergobaby Wrap (1.) provides comfortable support for baby, while evenly distributing weight across your shoulders and hips. The new Ergobaby Swaddler (2.) helps prevent your baby from startling awake but still allows for the natural movement of hips and legs. And my favorite, the new Ergobaby 360 Carrier (3.) is a four position carrier that features a structured bucket seat to support proper hip and spine positioning. I really enjoyed meeting the representatives from Ergobaby and seeing the live product demonstrations. Unfortunately, Olivia has outgrown all this stuff, but we will definitely get our use out of them when baby number two arrives! 

Liz Lange was another sponsor at Baby Bloggy Boot Camp and I have to admit I knew nothing of her maternity line before this event. Boy am I glad that I do now! After seeing some of her products, I immediately went to shop her collection at Target and found this adorable sleeveless smocked maxi dress. I needed something for an evening out on our recent trip to Palm Springs and this dress was perfect. It's comfortable, figure flattering and I was able to wear it all day and dress it up for night. I don't know anyone who wants to spend major bucks on clothes they are only going to wear for a few months. The Liz Lange Maternity line is perfect for me because it offers the look and feel of luxury at an affordable price. 

I'm so glad that I was able to attend Baby Bloggy Boot Camp this year and next year I hope to attend the full Women Get Social conference. What a wonderful way to meet other women in your same position, exchange ideas and information, and feel empowered all at the same time. And if nothing else, I got a short break from this crazy (but much loved) kid. Even if it was a white knuckled drive all the way!  

Thanks for reading!
This post is written by me on behalf of Liz Lange and Ergobaby. Products were provided for my use.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Crafting: Mickey & Minnie Mouse Easter Eggs

With all the decorating projects I've been working on lately, there hasn't been a whole lot of crafting going on around here. But last week, I got the idea to make some Mickey and Minnie Mouse Easter eggs for Olivia and I think they turned out pretty cute.

We go to Disneyland all the time and Olivia has really grown to love Mickey and Minnie, so I knew she would go crazy for my hard-boiled versions at breakfast time. They were pretty simple. I was able to finish both during her nap time and they were ready to crack open and eat the next morning.

I dyed the bottom half of each egg with red food coloring and once it dried I used a white acrylic paint pen to make the dots. I also used a black Sharpie to color a little black top, about the size of a dime. Then I glued on the eyes, ears, and nose and I gave Minnie a little bow and a few batting eyelashes. I found Popsicle sticks at Michael's that were already dyed yellow. I cut off the ends about an inch in, and glued them together for the feet. Then I glued the feet onto Mickey and Minnie so that they could stand up. 

That's it. So easy! And what kid wouldn't love some eggstra Mickey and Minnie to help start the day?

Thanks for reading!
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Decorating: Living Room Gets Faux Wood Blinds

A few weeks ago we ordered some blinds for our home and they were just recently installed. It's been a long time coming and I am really happy with how they look. Not to mention, how nice it is to not be living in a fish bowl anymore!

Our house is very close to our neighbors so privacy is a big issue for us. It's been great having the versatility in privacy and being able to control the light coming in.

We went with the Hunter Douglas Everwood TruGrain collection, which I knew from experience were good quality blinds. They are not real wood which makes them slightly less expensive, but with that they have a lifetime guarantee to never fade, chip or crack. Can't beat that!

I really love that the pull cord and tilt wand are painted to match the same finish on the blinds. You don't typically see that kind of attention to detail with brands other than Hunter Douglas. And the valance at top was included in the standard price!

The black tape was an upgrade and I had it added as a simple design detail. I think it brings a nice pop of color to the room.

So what do you think of our new blinds? If you missed it a few weeks ago, you can check out the before pictures here. I think my next step is to add some simple white (or maybe off-white) drapery panels on the sides of the windows. I think they would look nice hanging from a black curtain rod and they would help to sort of soften the look of the blinds. 

If you are interested in Hunter Douglas blinds (or any brand of custom blinds for that matter) stop by the Hunter Douglas Imagine Design Center. It's a great tool for visualizing what your blinds will look like in your own home. Also, feel free to check out my tips for choosing the right window coverings for your home. Thanks for stopping by!
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Weekend Wind Down Link Party No. 11

Happy Friday friends! I wanted to let you all know that this will be my last time co-hosting the Weekend Wind Down Party. It has been a great run but I've found that it also takes a lot of time to prepare for, and participate in the party every week. With Olivia keeping my on my toes and preparing for baby number two, I feel like my plate is very full. I have met some great bloggers through this party and I hope to keep in touch with you all! 

Before we start, let me introduce you to the new team! Annette writes about family, food and faith over at This Simple Home . Antionette, author of De Divah Deals, is a lifestyle blogger who writes about fashion and fun after fifty. Danielle from Snippets Of Inspiration has a homemaking blog with tons of great ideas on everything from easy recipes to tips on creating a happy home. Nicole, from A Living Sacrifice blogs about all sorts of topics including craft projects, recipes and family. She also has an Etsy shop, where she sells her own handmade creations! Mustard Seed Mommy, written by Sarah, is a family life blog full of all kinds of inspirational posts. Last but not least, Teresa over at Moms Who Save shares all kinds of amazing deals on pretty much everything you could want. 

This party will go live at 6pm est. Here are a few rules to remember if you are linking up. The links to each hosts' blog are listed in the introduction above. Please pay them a visit and follow them through which ever social media platform you prefer. We will follow back! 

Let The Party Begin!

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