Monday, June 25, 2012

Decorating on a Budget: Declan's Room

As I mentioned in the post on Emery's room we live in a small two bedroom house, so Declan's room is actually mine and Dustin's bedroom as well. It's tight, but it works. Emery's room is 9x9 and ours is 10x11. We actually took the doors off of the closet just to use that space for the changing table, Declan's clothes, diapers, and other baby items. 

I actually made most of the decorations before he was born and didn't set anything up because we were planning on moving to a bigger space. Since we decided to stick it out longer in our little home here I wanted to set up the crib and decorate the space with all of the things I made and collected for his future room. He was definitely outgrowing his Moses basket as well so that was another reason to set up the crib. Since the room is tiny and we had to make room for our bed, our dresser, the changing table, and the crib, things are put into the best places possible to make the space usable, but it's definitely not my ideal set-up. I really don't like that we had to put the crib and our bed in front of the window, blocking it. Also, I don't have everything out since the space is too small to fit everything like our rocker and Declan's dresser. One day maybe we'll all have rooms of our own, but for now this is what works. 

As with Em's room I decided to pick a theme for Declan's room. I love Little Golden Books and thought the Tawny Scrawny Lion would be super cute for a boys room.

The changing table in the closet. We found this for $30 at a consignment store and it just happened to match our crib perfectly. It has tons of storage so it easily holds all of Declan's clothes, diapers and other things. The little stuffed lion was a thrift store find, new with tags for $0.49. 

Thrift store frame that Dustin spray painted white for me. Then I clipped out some pictures from the book and added them into the frames. 
Total: $2

My mom found this little lion at Home Goods and I thought he was super cute. We use him as a prop to take Declan's monthly pictures with too. Notice the crib sheet in Tawny Scrawny Lion fabric? I love that a lot of the classic Little Golden Books have fabric that matches! 

The frames were purchased from the thrift store and the pictures were cut out from the book. I meant to paint the frames white, but then decided I sort of liked the look of the gold. I might change my mind later, we'll see. This wall is sort of a work in progress, as I have a few more pictures and frames to hang...once I paint them and get around to hanging them. I'll add pictures later once it's finished.
Total: $1

I made the mobile out of a thrifted embroidery hoop (can you tell I like these things?!), some beads, and one entire Tawny Scrawny Lion book cut into circles. I just sewed the circles all together in lines then tied them to the hoop. 
Total: $5

I am a sucker for crocheted quilts and really loved the colors in this one that I found on Etsy. I think it would've cost me more just buying the yarn (not to mention hours and hours of my time) to make one myself. 
Total: $15

The pillow (along with another one not pictured) I made with extra fabric I had and pillow forms I found on clearance at the craft store.
Total: $10

This little train I bought from an online baby store with a Groupon I purchased a year ago. It happened to match the room really well since it has a little lion in it.
Total: $8

I made three fitted sheets for the crib (two pictured here and the third is the one on the mattress in the other pictures).
Total: $16

I decided to make Declan a quilt that will be stored for now but can be used for his first real bed in a year or two. The batting is another old thrift store blanket and the fabric is a mix of scrap fabric I already had and some Tawny Scrawny fabric I found online. It's been folded up and stored in a bin for a while so it's extra wrinkly, but I detest ironing so that's not happening anytime soon.

Total for the quilt: $30

Next Project: Maybe a quilt for our bed and some random pillows and things for around the house.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ten Indoor Activities with Em

Since today is one of those rainy, curl up with a blanket and cuddle with your little ones sort of a day, I thought I'd post about some things we like to do inside. I love finding new activities or crafts to do with Emery for these kind of rainy days, the snowy days, or whenever we aren't able to get outside. Here's some of our fun in action.

1. Water beads. Endless fun for a 2 year old...or pretty much anyone. We just fill up a bin of them and add some bowls, spoons, things to scoop, etc. Sometimes we'll pretend we're baking so I'll put some measuring cups and spoons in too. 

2. Dry beans, random objects, some cups, spoons, and a large container. Sensory exercises, counting practicing, color coding, and more. 

3. Tea set and water. We have a glass pitcher and cups from  Pouring exercises and a fun indoor tea party.

4. Holiday craft sets on sale from Joann's or Michaels. Just for fun. I always wait until after a holiday to go in to the store and then you can purchase craft sets for at least half the price. 

5. Fuzzy balls, buttons, beans, yarn, etc plus glue and paper. Draw something with glue on the paper and let Em cover it up with stuff.

6. Paint, brushes, and a glass jar (old spaghetti/jelly/pickle jar). Homemade flower vase or containers for Holiday decor. 

7. Fuzzy balls, glue, googly eyes = Cute little monsters.

8. Buttons and various containers. Practice counting, sorting, and just so much fun. Buttons are one of Em's favorite toys. You can usually find bags of them for a dollar or two at the thrift store.

9. Tongs, small objects, egg carton. Practice with pincer grasp, counting and color coding.

10. Egg carton, scissors, crayons/markers, pipe cleaners = Beautiful flowers! We always save our egg cartons because there's always so many things to do with them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Decorating on a Budget: Emery's Room

I love interior design. You may not know it when you walk into my house most days since it's usually strewn with toys, laundry baskets full of ready-to-fold clothes, piles of books, and more. But I do really enjoy decorating and designing a room. We rent a very small two bedroom house with no garage (so no storage space) so I have a two-part challenge when it comes to decorating. One involves making things work in extremely small spaces and the other part is sticking to a very strict budget. I'm sure if I had more money to spend our house would look quite different but because we keep a very tight budget when it comes to more frivolous things like home decor, I have learned to be very creative. It actually makes it more fun because it adds more of a challenge in finding good deals, using things we already have around the house, and learning to make certain things by hand instead of buying them. 

In general, I think my aesthetic leans toward the eccentric. I like to use a lot of colors that don't necessarily match particularly well on the color wheel, a mixture of different fabric designs, earth-tones and things from nature, antique and interesting curios, etc. My husband thinks I have a bit of old lady in me when it comes to style, if that tells you anything. I guess I'd have to agree. 

When it came to decorating Em's room I wanted to use this pink Little Red Riding Hood fabric I found on Etsy as a starting point. It was really sweet and girly without being too babyish or obnoxious like some children's prints. Just the right amount of whimsy and just right for my little Em. :)

My sweetie pie :)

Fabric I chose as the theme for the room.

I ended up using the fabric and some other fabric I bought at the craft store on clearance to make her quilt for her bed, her pillow case, and another little throw pillow for her chair. The batting ("filling") for the quilt was an old thrift store blanket and the pillow forms were from two that I had around the house that I no longer wanted. I also made her two fitted sheets that matched her quilt. Fitted sheets are ridiculously easy to make and I love that I was able to make her a matching bed set. 

Total for the quilt, 2 fitted sheets, and two pillows: a little less than $60 (most of the cost was for the Etsy fabric). 

Reading spot. Her chair was a birthday gift and the wicker bin is from Target.  
 Her bed was a hand-me-down from her cousin. Thanks uncle Matt and auntie Bre!

 These I made out of muslin and felt and then I filled them with dried beans. 

 Mr. owl I made out of scrap wool from a couple old blankets that I had purchased from the thrift store a while back for some other project.

 I made her mobile out of felt, filled them with stuffing and hung them around an embroidery hoop that I bought at a thrift store. The beads were on clearance at the craft store and were actually the most expensive part. 
Total: $7

 More embroidery hoop art made with left-over fabric and thrift store hoops. I found the mirror at the thrift store as well. I'd like to eventually paint it red but I haven't gotten around to it yet. 
Total: $6

Grandpa made her an amazing toy box to store all of her toys when not in use. We bought her kitchen set along with all the pots, pans, and food to go with it for an amazing deal on craigslist last year. 

 The shelves were another thrift store find as was the book. Emery got the forest animals as a Christmas gift a couple years ago and they seemed to fit right in here. 
 Total: $4

All in all it was pretty inexpensive and a lot of fun. 

Next is Declan's room!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Easy DIY Cloth Paper Towels

I wanted to share a super easy way to save a few dollars. We've been using cloth napkins/paper towels for over two years now and we love it. We started off using some basic 8X8 square white cloths that we actually bought to use as diaper wipes but we didn't like how big they were so they got repurposed as napkins. They've gotten quite a bit of use over the years and it shows...stains, coming unraveled along the edges, and frankly they just are not even close to being white anymore. So I decided to make some new pretty ones and give you a little tutorial to make your own too.

Oh, and if you don't have a sewing machine or just don't feel like making these, then just purchase a decent stack of cloth napkins (I like having at least 2 dozen on hand) at any old store and voila, you're set! I do prefer terry cloth on one side of mine for better absorption qualities, but you may be able to find something similar that you can just purchase.

First, here are a few reasons why we switched to cloth napkins:

- Money savings. Bottom line, this is the number one reason we switched. If you have kids, or make messes easily, then you know how many paper towels and napkins get used and thrown out everyday. Dozens and dozens, depending on the number of kids or pets or just how messy you are. :)

- Less garbage. They can be used and used and used until they wear out. I feel a lot less wasteful when I know I don't get just one use out of it.

- They work better. Cloth cleans up messes way better than paper. One cloth napkin/paper towel can do the job of a stack of napkins or a few paper towels.

- Cuter. Pretty, actually, if you make some with fabric you like.

- So nice to be able to use it once then toss it in the laundry. No guilt, just wash and reuse.

If you own any kind of sewing machine this is a ridiculously basic project and fun to see the results!


- A few yards of cotton quilting fabric (depending on how many you want to make). I find that I can make about 14 napkins out of one yard. I just used a bunch of different cotton scrap fabric I had around.
- The same yardage of terry cloth fabric. Any color (I did white) that matches your cotton fabric.
- Thread
- Sewing machine
- Scissors or rotary cutter.
- Iron and ironing board

Getting Started:

1. Always wash your fabric before beginning so that it doesn't shrink abnormally after you finished your project. Iron it when its done.

2. Make a 10X10 inch template. You can cut a 10X10 inch of paper or cardboard to use as a template or just cut one 10X10 inch square of your fabric and use that as your template for cutting the rest.

3. Cut your cotton and terry cloth fabric into as many 10X10 inch squares as you want. Equal amounts of each, of course.

4. Once you have the all of your squares cut out, start pinning together your cotton squares with a terry cloth square. Right sides together.

5. Sew along the edge of these squares with about 5/8th inch inseam. Leave a 3 inch section open (un-sewn).

6. Flip the napkin right side out through the 3 inch section you left un-sewn.

7. Iron your napkin (or flatten as best you can if you're lazy and hate ironing like me) so that the edges and corners lay nice and flat and tuck in the 3 inch section so you can sew over it.

8. Begin sewing along the outer edge of your napkin and continue all the way around.

9. (Optional) I like to sew another line right down the middle of mine as a fold line and so they stay together better in the wash.

10. You're finished with your first one! Now do this with all of your squares until you have a nice stack of beautiful paper towels/napkins.

11. (Optional) Add snaps to the ends so that they can all hook together and be rolled up, sort-of like real paper towels do. I've seen them made this way and I find they look cute, but would be too much of a pain to unsnap every time I'd want one and then snap together every time they came out of the wash.

12. Place them all in their designated drawer or cute little basket on your counter.

13. Done! Bask in your savings!!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Declan at Two Months

Our little man is two months old already!

He's growing so fast and getting so big. He's already outgrown most of his 0-3 month clothes and is wearing almost all 3-6 months clothing. He's so much bigger than his big sister at this age! She was still wearing newborn clothes until 3 months and she only wears 18-24 month clothes (many are even big on her) right now at 2 1/2 years old. 

So far he's still not sleeping through the night, which is to be expected. He'll sleep for about 4-5 hours straight then he'll wake up every 1-3 hours after that until about 6 am. Sometimes I can get him back to sleep after a bit and we sleep until Emery comes in to wake us up between 6:30-7:30.

Declan's so smiley lately and he has been cooing and attempting to talk back to us when we talk to him. I'm pretty sure he said the word "idea" the other day (obviously unintentionally!) and I joked with Dustin that he was going to be an entrepreneur when he grows up. :) He has two little dimples that are so adorable when he smiles or giggles. I'm pretty sure he's going to be ticklish like his big sister because he squirms around with a smile on his face when we try lightly tickling him.

He still sleeps a lot during the day but he has been doing a lot more cat napping instead of long stretches, which is slightly frustrating. He still eats every 1-3 hours when he's awake, but it doesn't take him very long to finish a meal...maybe 5-15 minutes each time which is nice.

Can you count all those rolls?!

He has changed his mind about bath time and getting his diaper changed. He used to absolutely hate the two activities, but he actually seems to enjoy them now. In fact, we'll sometimes change him or bathe him just to calm him down if he's upset.

One thing we've noticed is that he has real tears and he has had them since he was just born. I don't remember Emery having actual tears when she'd cry until she was a little older, but he gets real tears every time he cries. Makes me feel even worse when he does cry though. :(

He is very noisy. The loud gulping noises when he eats, the "hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm" with each breath while he sleeps, the grunting and snorting when he's awake and upset, and all the other adorable noises in between.

He's still not a fan of being by himself in the bouncy seat or on a blanket by himself for very long. He very much prefers being in one of our arms or in one of the baby carriers. The Ergo has been such a wonderful tool lately in helping me do things with Emery, make dinner, or whatever while keeping Declan content.

One thing is certain...we can't stop kissing him!