Monday, May 19, 2014

Family Room Revival!


Its no secret that our sectional had done its time (and then some). We had gotten to the point of stuffing beach towels in the cushions and I usually preferred to sit on the floor. But couches are expensive! We have been hunting for a while, as we just don't have the ability to throw down a couple thousand (or even one thousand) dollars on furniture. I've been visiting lots of 'Closing Forever' furniture store sales and researching other budgeted options. After scouring Craigslist for weeks if not months, hundreds of inquiry emails and a handful of hiccups along the way...we finally found a set. A really nice set. For $275! A really sweet woman had these in storage, hardly used. She just needed them gone. I fired off an email, without much hope. And after a couple exchanges, they became ours!

I knew couches would be a great upgrade, but WOW. I can't get over how much more cozy and pulled together my family room is looking right now! I still need to paint, figure out lighting and a few other laundry list items. But those are all little things that I can confidently pursue now that the big elephant in the room is taken care of!

Since they had been in storage, the couches needed a good cleaning. I researched what to do with microfiber, even though we had microfiber before, I was nervous to ruin my amazing furniture find. I found this link to be especially helpful!! I washed the cushion covers with Woolite, cold water and on gentle cycle. A brief low heat tumble dry (about 10 minutes) and let them hang dry overnight. No shrinkage! The rest of the couch was vacuumed and sprayed/scrubbed down with rubbing alcohol & a white rag. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hanging Planter DIY

I'm currently on a serious yard sprucing kick. All I want is flowers, flowers, flowers! I picked up a strainer (food cover?) at the thrift store last week for $0.60 and knew it would be the perfect hanging planter. I think it may actually be a food cover because there was a ring on the top. But its made of sturdy wire mesh like that of a strainer. Dual triple  purpose. 

From here I gathered:
Burlap, two squares cut a few inches larger than the rim of the bowl (good thing I have a stash!)
Chain link ($0.63/foot at Home Depot!)
Flowers ($2.70/6pack)

I wasn't sure if the burlap was going to do the job of being a proper liner, but so far its working great! Cody held the bowl up at different levels to determine how long to cut the chain (I went way overboard and bought 8ft!). Using needle-nose pliers, we made three equal length chains and spaced them out around the rim of the bowl. The ring that was a handle on the outer top of the bowl became the connector for all three chains. One eyehook screwed into our porch beam holds the entire thing!

I planted impatients becuase it will always be in the shade. For $8.34 I have a cheery little splash of color on the porch, I can see it from our dining table too! I could have chopped that price in half if I had measured how much chain I actually needed beforehand too. But honestly I hope to find another similar piece to hang and then it'll all be justified!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Home Made Croutons

I feel silly even calling this a recipe. I mean its so ridiculously simple, but it involves ingredients and its edible so it is a recipe. It's also silly spending $5.95 for 'artisan' croutons, I mean how hard can be to toast bread??! While I've had decent motivation to make these for a while, but the whole concept of leftover bread wasn't entirely realistic in our household. A fresh, herby loaf of bread is like gold, amiright?! 

But this week, I finally did it. I saved half a loaf of potato rosemary bread. That is the hardest part of this entire recipe actually. From there, just chop it up, add some more dried herbs (ahem, garlic), toast in olive oil over medium heat. I let mine cool on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Truthfully, they are tad over salted but most of my family smothers their salads in ranch dressing anyways so they'll likely never notice! 

The whole process took under ten minutes. Even with the extra salt, they're so super yummy. I'm totally making these again! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Favorite Things for Baby

Luke is growing so fast its blowing me away! I can't believe we're in the second half of his first year! I'm not sure how well I've succeeded but my original goal was to have a balance in our baby products. Enough that I would have plenty of options and help with the day-to-day but also not so much that my home looked like Babies R Us! I find that I feel more relaxed in a more minimalist home environment, and I am working on creating a simpler home. Or just a whole lot LESS STUFF. I still definitely embrace a more traditional and eclectic home but just with less clutter. I wouldn't say I'm a minimalist parent however, we have a lot of toys and clothes for Luke. Our family and friends have been SO gracious and giving its really seriously mind blowing. We've hardly bought a thing ourselves for Luke! I haven't even bought a single diaper for him yet! Although he's been overflowing his current ones, so this week I'll be buying my first pack of diapers after 7 months (size 5!!)!

I thought I would compile a list of the baby products I really enjoyed having for Luke's first six months. Some of these can continue to work longer depending on how quickly your baby grows. Luke grew out of a few things that still would have been great if he wasn't too big for them! I hesitate to call this a list of  needs  because really your sweet baby only needs you! At the end of it all, he has just as much fun chewing/sucking on my sleeve as he does any other available toy, so these are just products we enjoyed!

Changing table pad. I can't remember if its from Target or Babies R Us but, this $20 purchase converted a standard dresser to a changing table. I really appreciate the lips on the sides, its an extra challenge for Luke to be able to roll off and out of it while being changed! Although, he's gotten so tall already that he just fits the 32" length so I am not sure how much longer we will be able to use it!

(Full nursery photos here)

Diaper Genie. Yes, its wonderful. Any trashcan with a self sealing lid will do. So feel free to shop around on this one! Although trash cans get expensive, like fast. Never understood that. 

Infant Lounger & Boppy Pillows. I noticed a big difference in the quality of his nap-times (longer, less fussy, fell asleep faster!) when I used these to prop Luke up more to sleep. Especially during a few bouts of hating nap-time and also when he had a stuffy nose. The contours of the pillows cradle him (and fit the cradle even!) so its literally like lounging in a recliner. Personally, I don't enjoy sleeping flat on my back, so why would a baby?

Stroller/Carseat System. The ease of clicking his carseat directly onto the stroller is invaluable! We went with a Graco model because we liked the hardware on the wheels best, also the wheels were rubber and not entirely plastic. This is one of those items you should definitely visit in stores instead of soley relying on the internet.

Bouncy/Vibration Lounger. He got over this idea/grew too large for this pretty quickly. But it was really great while it lasted! Luke wasn't much for swings, although he enjoyed the upright baby swing when he was around 4-5 months with our nanny.

Bumbo Seat. Really seriously loved this thing. It fits anywhere and we used it everywhere. If he hadn't grown out of it so quickly I would have continued using it as a highchair alternative!

Highchair. Instead of a floor model, we have been solely using a table attachment. At first, he was a bit wobbly in it, a rolled up blanket helped fill up the space though. Now he's stronger and also more used to the idea of being in it so its worked great for us. Major space saver to use this instead of a floor model!

Mesh Food Feeder. I'm pretty certain this is my favorite thing. We'll thankfully be able to still use it for a while too! I do mostly frozen foods in here (I puree foods and freeze in ice-cube trays). Stuffing a frozen cube of squash in here while we eat dinner has been a fun way to all eat together. And I love the idea of him getting to practice feeding himself and seeing his excitement as he got the hang of it! They were also wonderful for our recent heat wave. I have learned to make small ice-cubes so they fit more easily into the opening of the mesh.


Playmats. We have two options here, one is a large rectangle that we are still using. It has rings, varied fabric prints and crunchy elephant ear flaps. Luke still enjoys army crawling on and off of this one. The other one he grew out of was smaller but had an upright four key piano like feature that he could kick while playing with a mobile above his head (while laying on his back). This was really entertaining for all of us. He'd manage to grab a toy, get excited, kick the piano, hear the song, get really excited, kick again, etc. We used this a lot in the evening when the sun-down syndrome started to hit. You know the its too early for bed, not enough time for a nap though, happy to sad in an instant time.


Exersaucer. I've been calling this the jumpy seat, but I guess that's a slightly different product. Luke LOVES this thing. He jumps, he picks up his feet and hangs, spins the tumblers, spins himself around... Endless entertainment here. Ours is adjustable in height, so we should be able to continue using this one for a while still!

Music & Books. Singing, reading, listening...this is when I feel the most bonded with Luke. He reacts so strongly to us reading a story, Cody playing guitar, or even him trying to get in on our conversations. So many times, I have to find a chewy toy so Cody and I can talk, he really gets going on the vocals when we're talking, he just wants to be in on it so badly! But he gets so loud sometimes we have to sit and wait for him to take a breath to continue our conversation! We also somehow became reliant on singing the ABCs a quick happy pill and it totally works! I think it came to be on of those sleep deprived days when I couldn't remember the words to any other songs.

Every now and then Luke looks at the pictures too instead of just chewing on the books. On the left is Luke at Christms, the right one is from last week! He's losing his tan skin and dark hair! So far I think the blue eyes are safe though :)

Well this list is considerably longer than I anticipated. What was I just saying about the having less stuff theory??! Oops. I can say that we didn't have all of these items at once! The things he has grown out of are either stored or given to a friend already. Makes me a feel a little better! I'll be curious to see which of these stands up as a favorites for an future kids too. And no, that is not an announcement! It would be so out of character for me to just throw something like that in a post like this. When at some point in the future we grow our family again, you can count on me coming up with some sort of themed photo shoot over it! :)

P.S. I'm not paid or perked or compensated in any form or fashion here! My only reward is the sweet comments I receive from you! Thank you for following and feel free to add any items that you loved!