Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Campaign Ideas

I love my campaign dresser. After rescuing it from a thrift shop last February, it has proudly served its purpose in my dressing room and in the near future will become baby girl's changing table. Since buying the dresser I've left it as-is and only polished up the brass handles a bit with some Brasso. I truly love its original wood facade and think it works perfectly in the otherwise very neutral nursery.

I've also pinned plenty of other gorgeous examples of campaign dressers being used and loved in their original wood states:

But just for fun, I got thinking about what the nursery could look like maybe, possibly, one-day in the distant future for baby #2 if I were to paint my dresser anywhere from robin's egg blue, to gray, to white, or even a tone-on-tone white and wood look. Could be fun.

Like I said, I'm definitely not going to attempt to tackle a project like that in the next 5 1/2 weeks but it is something to consider for the future. And its fun to design rooms from the comfort of your computer chair without ever having to pick up a sander or a paintbrush don't ya think?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nursery: Curtains

Curtains are up! Like I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I picked these Cynthia Rowley curtains up at HomeGoods for only $20. The curtain panels were so wide however that I was able to cut one of them in half to make these curtains, leaving me the whole other curtain panel left over which I hope to turn into a crib skirt. 

I still need to do a little adjusting to the curtain on the right because as you can see it seems too long on the bottom right. I assure you, it's all the same length, it's just sitting on the curtain rod kinda funny.

To make the curtains, I simply cut them in half and used iron-on hem tape (Heat n Bond) to make crisp even edges. I also hemmed the top of them with the same hem tape to make a pocket for the rod to slide into. I planned to use curtain clips but the curtains were hanging too far from the rod and I wasn't liking the look. Dan actually came up with the pocket idea and it worked out great.

The curtain on the left juuust barely clears the air vent and I made sure to slide the dresser all the way back against the wall to kind of hold the curtain in place. And yes, we're still waiting on our window sill.... One more thing crossed off the list though!

  • Hang clothing rods in closet
  • Buy plastic bins for closet storage
  • Make and install crawl-space door
  • Buy and install baskets/bins on closet wall
  • Build/buy three shelves for storage/book wall
  • Make curtains and hang curtain rod
  • Make mobile
  • Possibly make crib skirt?
  • Hang art + accessorize
  • Bring in crib, rocker, changing pad (all coming after my shower)
  • Bring in baby!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nursery: Closet Beginnings

Hey there, hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Dan and I had a nice relaxing Saturday at home which is rare but much appreciated when it does happen especially now that those times are slowly slipping away. For me it was just pure bliss to sleep in, lounge around, and eat breakfast at 1:30 and when Dan said he was "bored" I reminded him to cherish this time, just the two of us, because it's about to end in just seven weeks. We weren't completely unproductive though and managed to make a little more progress in the nursery.

The closet in the nursery is quite long, narrow, and awkward. There's no other way to describe it but no matter how awkward it may be, I'm still very glad that we have the extra space for storage and can actually hang baby girl's clothes in her room, rather than have to make room in our already-filled closet.

After brainstorming a couple hanging options, I decided to go this route... By hanging two bars, one above the other, I can maximize the amount of clothes that can be hung, since they're so tiny. The rods I bought and had cut at Home Depot where I also picked up two sets of rod sockets. Here's my little trick for painting the rods:

I screwed two nails into a piece of scrap baseboard from the bottom then simply twisted my rods onto the exposed screws and voila! An easy way to paint the entire rod without having to set them down and risk ruining the paint job. After two coats of my wall color, Pale Oak, we were good to go.

As you can see, there is still a good amount of space behind the curtain rods and that's where I plan to keep two or three big plastic bins where I can store extra diapers, out of season clothes, and whatever else I may need to keep that's not being used right that moment, kinda like the Bumbo that's currently there. One of the rod sockets is open on top so the rods are easily removable.

The "door" you see on the right is actually just a piece of thick cardboard held up by that air conditioner box (classy) and leads to a crawl space that we actually haven't needed to use, thanks to my minimalistic ways and the fact that it's kind of a pain to get to. It would be best utilized for items that need to be stored but you don't actually ever need to use. For us, we just don't keep things like that around (If it has no use, get rid of it! I say). We plan to build a better door for it soon, rather than just sheet-rock it closed, so if the need ever arose we could use the space.

Although the bins will be an improvement over that ugly box, I still hope to obscure the storage by all the clothes that will be hanging on the curtain rods. To simulate this plan's effectiveness, I randomly hung a few baby things I've collected. Since I haven't had my baby shower yet, I don't have any baby-sized hangers with which to hang the growing stash of baby clothes I've already inherited from my sister in law. After that happens, I can give you a better shot of the curtain rods being used to their full potential!

As for this long wall that leads into the closet, I hope to hang either a couple baskets or metal bins by some simple hooks for even more storage that won't infringe on the space too much. I originally planned to hang a shelf but the sharp corners seemed too much of a hazard for little heads and grown-up thighs. 

Something like this...

...or this...

Now to give you a better understanding of the space, here is the closet zoomed out, located to the right of my future three-shelf wall with the $5 sconce.

And here is that whole side of the room, in all its 12x5.5' glory, the shining area at the back left being the closet space. And you see that bag about ready to burst? That's just 0-6 month clothes passed down to me by my SIL. Her daughter is a March baby so since ours will be early May, I foresee tons of hand-me-downs in her future which is alright with me!

And that's just one more thing crossed off the list- woot! As for what's left, here's my To-Do:
  • Hang clothing rods in closet
  • Buy plastic bins for closet storage
  • Make and install crawl-space door
  • Buy and install baskets/bins on closet wall
  • Build/buy three shelves for storage/book wall
  • Make curtains and hang curtain rod
  • Make mobile
  • Possibly make crib skirt?
  • Hang art + accessorize
  • Bring in crib, rocker, changing pad (all coming after my shower)
  • Bring in baby!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The 'B' Word

Hey guys, I wanna talk about something a little off topic from my usual home decorating/organizing/diy-ing because it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately: Budgets. With the impending arrival of our little peanut in just eight weeks we've been focusing a lot on our spending and where exactly our money is going each month in order to save as much as we can. Aside from being a blogger, I work full time outside of the home but when baby girl arrives I will most likely be cutting my hours in half, thus cutting my portion of our monthly income in half. We didn't think it would be possible for me to stop working full time but after much prayer and thoughtful consideration over our financial situation, we believe we can make it work and most importantly I can spend as much time home with the babe as possible. Here are just a few things we've done recently, or plan to do, in order to cut back and live on a tighter budget:

  1. Make some extra money on the side. Obviously this may not be possible for everyone, but I have been fortunate enough to have a little side job going right now where I can work from home and bring in a little extra each month. This is huge when it comes to making up for what I will be lacking when my full time hours are cut and we are so grateful for the opportunity. Also, Dan is a mechanic so he is able to do side jobs here and there to also bring in a little extra money when he can. If you have some sort of valuable skill you can share, let your friends and family know! Whether it be electrical, plumbing, or organizing, try and put yourself out there and maybe you too can bring in a little extra money. Or maybe consider opening an Etsy shop (I know I have) if you make art prints, baby onesies, or collect thrifted items you can resell. The point is, keep your options, and your ears, open to new opportunities. Advertising through your blog (if you have one) or Craigslist are also free marketing options.
  2. Cut the cable cord. After only one month of living in our new house (which is now 20 months ago, crazy) we've been living cable free and loving it. When we moved in we had our cable set up but it didn't seem to be working for weeks. When we finally realized we weren't missing it, we decided to just get rid of it completely and now we only pay an internet bill. With sites like Hulu and Netflix, we don't miss cable one single bit but rather relish the fact that we do not have to pay a cable bill at all. I challenge you to make the switch too and believe me, you will get so much more done around the house and have so much more time with your spouse when you're not veg-ing out in front of the TV every night. 
  3. Regulate your gas + electric. This is something that our gas + electric company does (PSE&G) so I can't promise you that yours will too but I highly recommend looking into it! Just a couple weeks ago I went online to their site just to find out a little bit about their Equal Payment Plan and was able to regulate our payments right there on the site! Now all of our monthly bills are the same and much cheaper than our more expensive months (gas high in the winter, and electric high in the summer). It also just gives us peace of mind and the ability to accurately budget when we know what to expect each and every month.
  4. Refinance. This is something we've been looking into for months now and are about ready to pull the trigger on a plan we feel comfortable with and will save us money each month. Interest rates aren't as low as they have been but we will still be able to shave off a good portion of our monthly payments and give us a little extra breathing room each month. Obviously if you are not a home owner this doesn't necessarily apply to you but even if you rent and have been renting in the same home for a long time I'd say try your luck at asking for a break in your monthly rent. If your landlord knows and likes you, knows that you are a good tenant, you pay your rent every month, and don't give them any trouble, they just may cut you a break. Hey, ya never know til you ask!
  5. Meal Plan. This is something we've only just recently done, as in this past week, and we've already noticed a difference. On Saturday I sat down and planned out meals for two weeks and then shopped for them on Sunday. Not only did we come in under budget at both the grocery store and farmer's market, we've already eaten leftovers two times and still have so much food left in our fridge! Believe me friends, meal planning and cooking at home works. I spent as much on food for two weeks as I normally did when I just shopped willy-nilly each and every week. When you have a plan, and stick to it, there are no impulse purchases or "maybe I'll make this this week" buys that really add up. Something else we've done that kinda goes along with this is cutting out packaged snacks and making our own. We're big into granola bars and my husband likes having things that he can snack on throughout the day so I've simply been making my own. I made these homemade granola bars one week and then a batch of banana muffins this week. Guys, it's SO much cheaper and SO much better for you! Try it.
  6. Rid yourself of debt. Although Dan and I have no debt outside of our mortgage, this is a still a great tip for anyone out there looking to live on a budget. We don't have any consumer debt (credit or store cards) but Dan does make payments at work to pay towards his interest-free tool purchases, so I guess in a way that is a debt that we have and pay towards each week. We plan to pay the balance off in full as soon as possible though so we can apply those weekly payments to more important areas like food and diapers. I've also been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately about Dave Ramsey who is a financial advisor specializing in debt and I just love the sound, practical advice that he gives. If you are living with debt and want to get out of the vicious cycle, stop charging and start paying your credit cards off completely! If you have car loans, sell your car and buy something used! If you are looking to get out of debt, I highly recommend you check out his site. If you need some inspiration, check out Sarah's story over at Thrifty Decor Chick.
So that's about it guys. Now you tell me, what are your tips for living on a tighter budget? Any advice for a future part-time working mom? I'm excited to hear what you guys have to say!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nursery: Walls + Floor

After a marathon round of spackling/sanding/cleaning/painting in the nursery then spackle again/sand again/paint again... the walls (and ceiling) are now finished! I chose Benjamin Moore's Pale Oak and it is just the most perfect neutral greige and exactly what I was going for. 

The blind I picked up at Home Depot for about $20 and it was super simple to install, it just hangs on two hooks that you screw into the window frame. It's great at blocking out a lot of light so the curtains I'm gonna be making will be mostly decorative, rather than needing to be pulled shut.

I also bought a rug. I had mentioned that I wanted to try my hand at a custom sized rug to fit our awkward 12x5.5 room but after going to about four stores and getting quotes from $180 to $450, I decided I needed to just deal with it and get a 5x7. I went in to Target to get something else and of course, like always, I left with something completely different: this gorgeous tan diamond patterned rug from their Threshold line. The moment I saw it I knew it was perfect and is actually pretty similar to the West Elm rug I was eyeing, but over $100 cheaper and 10x softer. 

It looks small because it's folded in half and I'll have to lift the dresser to put it underneath. I won't bother doing that just yet though until all the other elements are in place.

The diamond pattern on the rug looks right at home with my ikat curtain fabric and the black and white blanket is the perfect pop of modern contrast.

It's all coming together now!

Monday, March 11, 2013

So Long Starbucks

Don't get me wrong, I love Starbucks. I could easily go every single day and back in college that's just what I did. Once we had jobs and a home and bills however, my Starbucks cravings had to be curbed for the sake of our marriage and budget. I don't go nearly as often as I did during my college years but I was still hitting up the joint about 2-3 times a week. Times that by the price of a latte and I was easily spending $15-20 a week. I needed an alternative and even tried my hand at making my own cold-brewed ice coffee which was good, but not the same as espresso. So when my birthday rolled around last weekend I knew just what to ask for.

I first discovered the Nespresso machine this past Christmas when a friend of ours had it at his house. He made us lattes and they were so delicious. It didn't hurt that the machine was adorable too so it was right then and there that I leaned over to Dan and told him I wanted one for my birthday. And like the fantastic husband he is, he remembered and went in on it with his parents.

This model came with an aeroccino, which is just a fancy term for milk frother. You put the milk in cold and it gets heated and frothed in about a minute. You can even froth it cold if you so choose.

Now how does this compare to Starbucks prices? Since the machine was a gift, there was no outright expense to make up for. You do have to buy the pods though which equal out to about $1 each if you buy them in bulk on Amazon. Then you simply provide your own milk and any syrups or flavorings your heart desires. I'm actually thinking of hitting up Starbucks for a bottle of their vanilla syrup (about $10) and I will be able to make my favorite latte for so much less! Woot.

Needless to say, I love it. And if you are in the market for one of your own, I highly recommend it. And no, I was not sponsored in any way to write this post I simply love this machine and if Nespresso wants to send a few free pods my way I'll gladly accept. In case you're wondering what happened to the tea bar that used to live on this counter, it has now being relocated to the cabinet above. For those worried about my caffeine consumption while pregnant, rest assured that I limit myself to one shot of espresso which contains 70 mg of caffeine, well below the recommended 200 mg limit.

Psst...I starting making my own vanilla syrup! See that recipe here.

Check out the video tour of our coffee bar and Nespresso review here!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dreamy Nursery

I just wanted to share with you guys this dreamy nursery space I saw recently on Apartment Therapy. Since our nursery has sloped walls, I'm always drawn to similar spaces and I just love how this mama turned her awkward sloped room into a fantastic retreat for her baby girl.

Love this raincloud mobile and am definitely inspired to get working on my own version (air balloons, of course).

The gallery wall is perfect, as is the changing table that her husband refinished long before they were expecting. It fits the room perfectly and look how adorable the diapers look all stacked up!

This room inspired me that no matter how small or awkward the space, a soothing color palate and plenty of personal touches can make any room into a perfect little nursery. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nursery: This 'n That

Nursery progress is slowly coming along and once all the nitty gritty is out of the way, the fun stuff can really happen! I already told you guys how I had to spackle and sand a lot of the walls so after that was all finished it was time for paint. The color is great. My spackle job, not so much. I did a good job almost everywhere but this one corner was still a little rough so I needed to spackle some more...

Once that dries, gets sanded, and the paint gets touched up, I can share with you the wall color. Gotta wait for some sunlight anyways so I might as well get that corner as smooth as possible before the weekend! Side Note: I still find it funny that I painted this room from baby pink to neutral greige because it was "too girly." Now that an actual baby girl will be living in this room I'm finding it hard to incorporate pink into my color scheme. Oh the irony.

Next up we tackled all the electrical needs: new ceiling fixture, new wall fixture, and new light switch! We changed out one of our light switches for a dimmer which will definitely come in handy during those middle of the night trips into the nursery. Oh and this wall color looks darker because it is...

The light switches are actually outside of the nursery next to our closets (that wall color is Behr's Perfect Taupe):

As for the light fixtures, I know I initially planned on doing some sort of a drum shade on the ceiling but after not finding anything I loved that would fit the space and didn't break our budget I decided to go in a whole different direction. I knew I wanted to add more black elements into the room to play off the black and white chevron inspiration blanket so I figured the light fixture was a good place to do so. I found this simple globe fixture at Lowe's for a whopping $12 and dressed it up a bit with a $8 ceiling medallion. Beautiful and budget friendly.

As for the wall fixture, I again decided to try something different than originally planned for much the same reasons: the sconce I had my heart set on was just too expensive and I couldn't find anything similar for any less. So I stayed again with the black scheme and picked up this $5 jelly jar sconce. Cute, budget-friendly, and vintage-esque. Works for me.

This is the wall where the three shelves will be going and you can see that the only outlet in the room is on this wall. That's a precious commodity right there. 

And last but not least I had to share with you these amazing curtains I picked up at HomeGoods last week. I was on the fence as to whether I wanted curtains or not but after coming across this Cynthia Rowley set my mind was made up. I'm actually toying with the idea of using one curtain on the window and turning the other into a crib skirt. We'll see... Oh and yes, that is a new window you see! Thanks for noticing. We're still waiting on a new window sill and once that comes in I can show you how shiny and beautiful it is! Only took us over 18 months to finally get it replaced, but we're making progress my friends.

Now I suppose my mood board needs a little upgrading due to these changes so as of today, here's our latest nursery mood board:

I added in a lovely Ikea pillow I've been eyeing for months to the rocker and think it just looks right at home with the ikat curtains and the black and white blanket. The air balloon print on the left I already own and the art on the right is a little DIY I plan on making for above her crib. I also need to get working on some sort of mobile and plan to put it above the changing table. The mobile pictured is just more money than I'm willing to spend (could I ever justify $70 for a baby toy?) so I have a couple ideas up my sleeve for a much cheaper alternative while still conveying my love of all things air balloon. We're getting there...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm Lovin' It

  • I love discovering new blogs...have I told you that? Every time I come across a new site about someone's incredible home I get so very excited and love to snoop around at all their past projects. My newest find, crab+fish, is no exception:

I can't wait to see that photo collage up on her wall! Isn't that color amazing?

  • Another new, incredibly inspiring, blog: brooklyn to west. This girl is my age but her talent far exceeds her years. I'm in awe.

She makes and sells those pallet wall panels, as well as headboards, dining tables, and coffee tables.

She hand-stamped that linen before reupholstering the chair. Oh and that wall behind it? She created that from dried eucalyptus leaves...are you getting my point?

Hand stamped "wall paper"

And her tiny (yet still fantastic) Brooklyn kitchen.

  • Oh and thanks but no thanks Pinterest for introducing me to this incredible company selling gorgeous bags...but it's all in Russian! All I can gather is that the p stands for ruble, making the brown bag $422, the gray $331, and the orange $276. The brand is called Ally Capellino and it's from the UK. My chances of finding one at a price I can afford? Slim to none. le sigh.

It won't stop me from dreaming though, and imagining how incredible these could be as a diaper bag and how amazing they would look with our new stroller and car seat!

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