Another Nesting Project– Craft Area

I haven’t finished the bath mat yet. It’s still in the same shape as when I posted about it. But I’m simultaneously trying to get the craft area in the laundry room under control.

Craft area in the laundry room? Yeah… I’m SUPER lucky. In the office, I have a sewing table set up, but for other crafts, my husband put up these shelves in the laundry room for me. I store my fabric and notions in here too (while sewing TOOLS are in my sewing area), and I have a desktop where I can decoupage or hot glue without worrying about making a little mess.

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But it’s kind of unusable if it looks like a tornado whipped through it… and that’s how it’s been the last few months. I would take out fabric for a project, or a tool I needed, and by the time I finished the project, everything just ended up piled on the desk in there… and things escalated from there. So I’m beating it into submission.

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I’ve gotten all my fabric back where it belongs, reorganized a few things and labeled some boxes properly, and gotten rid of some extraneous stuff… and it’s looking a lot better already. NOT finished yet, but getting there. And it’s making me more excited for projects again. It’s hard to be inspired in a space that is messy or unusable.

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Current Project–Bath Mat

As part of my nesting/reorganizing projects, I bought new towels for both bathrooms. The others were from when I was in college, and some from when The Guy and I first got married. Getting a bit old… And I was tired of the color.

I decided to do Anneliese’s bathroom in her “signature” color combo, yellow, turquoisey/aqua, and white. I don’t really want it to be too themey/kiddy, because it’s also the hall/guest bathroom, but I want it to be whimsical and fun.

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Well her towels and wash cloths are her aqua color, and I have yellow hand towels, and was GOING to buy a yellow bath mat to match, but Target discontinued or stopped carrying the matching yellow mat! So instead, I bought a big yellow towel to sew into a bath mat.

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And then I decided to add some interest to it by making some crocheted motifs to stitch on. I’ve been working on the crocheted parts for the last 3 days, really without a plan… just sort of going where they took me.

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…and this is what I ended up with. I need to weave in the ends and sew the pieces on, but this is the general idea. Also, the mat isn’t really a wonky shape like that; that’s just the angle of the picture making it look that way. It’s really a rectangle, I swear.

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Do you have any tips for decorating bathrooms (without painting/changing fixtures)? I always feel kind of at a loss about what to do in them.

Décor-wise, I mean.

How to Store Little Girls’ Headbands and Hair Clips

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My little girl has lots of “hair things” and for a while, I just had them in a drawer in her dresser. But that’s not exactly the ideal storage solution… things get buried and you forget they’re there, or you KNOW there is a hair clip to match this outfit, but can’t find it, or headbands get tangled…

Enter: my storage solutions.

The first one is a quick and easy DIY project. Depending on how many hair clips your child has, and how long her name is, you can get wooden letters for her first initial, monogram (what I did), or spell her entire name (which would be crazy with Anneliese!).

I got these white wooden letters at Michael’s, and also picked up some aqua and yellow acrylic craft paint to decorate them with.

You’ll also need lengths of ribbon (I used grosgrain ribbon, and layered a .5” ribbon on top of a 1.5” ribbon, just for some interest.

And for the bottom of each ribbon, you’ll want another wooden shape, to cover the edge, give a “finished” look, and weigh down the ribbon a little bit (which was helpful when my daughter had just a few hair clips).

All you need to do is hot glue your ribbon to the back-center of each letter, and hot glue the smaller wooden shapes to the bottom of each one.

I hung my daughter’s on her sliding closet door with Command Strips, which were easy to install (if you can even call it installation) and won’t damage the door when we need to remove them.

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Headbands create a different challenge. I’ve seen headband holders made of oatmeal canisters (which I think is a good idea for headbands with openings, like the harder plasticy ones), clotheslines with each headband pinned on with a clothes pin (cute, but what if you have more than 5 headbands?), and cup hooks usually on the bottom of a frame meant to hold the bows and clips (but you KNOW those little hooks would be overloaded with headbands very shortly).

I’m not sure when this idea popped into my head but I was SO excited about it when it did. This lets me see her headbands so I can find the right one, and I can easily pull it over the others and off the end… and, like the hair clip holder above, it takes up zero surface space on my daughter’s dresser or shelves!

It’s a hand towel rack, which I picked up at Lowe’s. Simple! It’s installed over the dresser, and holds lots of Anneliese’s headbands. There are a few that are wider or bulkier that I’ve put in one of her dresser drawers, but most of them are “out”  now, easily accessed, and pretty to look at!

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I hope this post gave you some new ideas or helped you decide what to do with your daughter’s collection (or your own) of “hair pretties.”

If you enjoyed my ideas and pictures, please pass it on by clicking to share on facebook, twitter, G+, stumbleupon, or by pinning it on pinterest. Thanks so much!

Handmade Christmas–Part 1: Decorations

You know those cinnamon scented pine cones that are always in grocery and craft stores around Thanksgiving and Christmas? I’ve never bought them before. I have no idea why. They smell WONDERFUL.

So the first decoration I made involved those, some ribbons in my “theme colors” for this year (and probably several years after this) — orange and turquoise, and some hot glue.

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I just hot-glued ribbon to the center of each pine cone “butt” and tied them up on the curtain rod in my living room. Festive, not overkill though, and yummy smelling. I would’ve done more in other windows but I ran out of turquoise ribbon, and needed the rest of the orange for another project (below).

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The second hand-made decoration I made this year is crocheted tree garland. I didn’t want to decorate with glass balls and such, for more than one reason.

1) Obviously I have a curious toddler. She is great about leaving things alone if I tell her to FOR THE MOST PART, but I wouldn’t want her to get hurt if she got a bit adventurous when I wasn’t looking.

2) All of our Christmas decorations are in a box on the very highest shelf in the garage. I don’t feel like standing on a step stool and trying to get down the very heavy box, especially pregnant. I could ask someone to help me, but then I’d have to ask them to put it back when the holidays were over too.

So anyway, I bought some delicious yarn in my colors, and crocheted tons of circles in each color. Then I “dressed up” each circle with a border and some embellishments in the other color. Finally, I crocheted them all together into a garland using silver eyelash yarn, which turned out to be pretty cool because it’s like tinsel and ornaments all in one!

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Love how the silver garland catches the light from the tree.

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Anneliese loves going over to the tree and touching the circles, looking at them carefully.

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The third decoration I made is a couple of bell wreaths. I found the basic wreaths in the Target dollar section (for $2.50 each) but you could easily make your own with wire and bells from the craft store. Though I don’t know if it would save you any money.

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Then, I took orange ribbon and wove it around the bells, then tied it into a bow at the bottom. The turquoise glitter snowflakes are also from Target. A pack of 4 was $1 I think. I used thin white (very strong) thread to attach them to the wreath too. It’s hanging on the back of my front door (on the inside) framing the peep hole a la Friends.

I haven’t actually found a good place to hang the other one, but I’ll have it for next year!

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Have you made any decorations this year? What did you create for your home? I’d love to hear about it, or if you’ve blogged it, feel free to comment with the link!

Finding a bit of Green at Home Depot

I recently had a chance to go to The Home Depot and find a small way to make my household a bit greener.

I finally decided to get the stuff I needed to install the clothesline I’ve had for a while. I really want to be able to dry diapers outdoors occasionally, to take advantage of the sun’s bleaching abilities and odor-eliminating abilities. I’ve been wanting to sun my sheets for a while, too. I’m pretty sensitive to bleach, and I don’t really want to use such a harsh chemical if I don’t have to, especially on fabric I’m going to be touching all night.

So I came home with:

  • A masonry drill bit.
  • Masonry screws (for attaching the clothesline to the house).
  • A fence-post stake thingy
  • A 4×4, to act as the “tree” the clothesline can attach to.
  • A small sledgehammer for pounding the stake into the ground (with a chunk of 4×4 they cut off for me)
  • A small bicycle hook, for hooking the line to (it’s retractable)

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I’m really excited to finally install it and be able to use it for my diapers and sheets, but I’m sure I’ll use it for other things too, reducing the energy I would spend on using the electric dryer and also reducing the need for bleach and other chemicals in my laundry process. We already do so many “green” things in my household—recycling, cloth diapering, often just cleaning with microfiber and water (though admittedly not always), breastfeeding (no packaging! no waste!), using cloth baby wipes/kitchen towels/napkins…but we can always do a little more.

There’s a great list of ideas you can use to “Green” your home at The Home Depot website, and while most of them seem geared toward homeowners rather than renters (no, I won’t be replacing our house’s windows and faucets), some are very accessible—more efficient lightbulbs, toxin-free cleaning products, and organic gardening supplies (I almost bought a composter but decided to do the clothesline thing first)

So what are your favorite “greening” tips? I’d love to hear them!

Want more tips on how to become eco-conscious? Visit the Prizes & Promotions Section on BlogHer!

Baby Room Tour – Hanford, CA Home

The baby room is finished enough to share with you now, I think. It’s not perfect or what I intend her “real” room to be like, but it’s a “for now” sort of situation since we will be moving soon (this fall). Don’t ask me where we’re moving. We don’t know; it’s up to the Navy. But once we get to our next house, I’ll paint the walls and make curtains and do other more “permanent” stuff. Plus my sweet husband is going to make some low shelves that will double as a bench… we have lots of plans for the NEXT room.

But for now, this one is super-sweet anyway.

Our baby will be sleeping in our room in a mini co-sleeper for the first several months (honestly, likely at least until after we move), but when she graduates to her own room, we’ll be trying out the Montessori Floor Bed* thing. I also think having the floor bed will be great for naps together, nursing her to sleep, “tummy time” (especially with the mirror there!), etc. Plus if my husband has an early flight and NEEDS sleep, the baby and I can sleep in here if she’s having an especially fussy night or something.

Our floor bed is just a regular twin mattress which I got a vinyl cover for, so that in the event of accidents we will only have to change the sheet and wipe the mattress, rather than dealing with mattress pads and such.

The blanket currently on the bed was mine when I was little. It has big tulips appliquéd onto it, and I remember running my finger around the edge of each one to trace them.

The rug is from Land of Nod, and while I hoped and thought it would be more YELLOW, I decided it’s yellow enough to keep… mostly because of how soft it feels! Stepping onto it is like a dream, and I’m sure it will get lots of use as a comfy place to play.

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This is the right side of the room, with the dresser/changing area and a small shelf for some books and toys. I’m not too concerned with actual childproofing at this point (which is super-important when you have a floor bed) like making sure there are no exposed cords, bolting shelves to the wall, etc… because we will be moving before the baby is too mobile. So this works for now. I LOVE the dresser/changing area.

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The duck on the wall was in my room when I was a baby/small child, and I had saved it for years and years. How cool that my daughter gets it now!

Top shelf: A music box I’ve had since I was 6 I think. It plays “It’s a Small World” and has two trains that go around in circles. The little critters are “Spoka” night lights from IKEA and they slowly change color. The horses were mine when I was a kid, and the crocheted house is just something I made several years ago (it was on TV! In the intro to a show called Uncommon Threads — I also made the flowers in the intro) and kept because I think it’s cheerful.

Middle Shelf: Some board books and a soft interactive book from IKEA, plus my Peter Rabbit books from when I was little, a wooden horse my oldest sister’s friend made for me when I was a kid, and a bin of rattles, soft toys, etc.

Bottom Shelf: A couple toys that our baby likely won’t be old enough to play with or understand until after we move, but I like them there, so there!

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The dresser is from IKEA, but I bought 12 different knobs from Anthropologie (not a cheap upgrade, but worth it!) to make it more interesting and special.

The aircraft prints are from 1949 or 1950, an artist’s renderings of experimental Navy jets from the time. Pretty cool if you ask me. The mirror is from an antique store here. The little green potty is for elimination communication, which we’re going to try/do (in conjunction with cloth diapers) and I’m sure I’ll write more about that later after we’ve given it a go for a while.

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I can just imagine our baby examining each lovely drawer knob as she starts to pull up and stand, noticing details, and choosing a favorite, comparing the designs…

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From the bed, facing the door to the hallway…

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And my “nursing station” which needs to be a bit more organized and contained. Another experimental aircraft art print, plus a photo of me and my husband, a photo of Zora, and our baby’s first ultrasound picture (the one that looks like she’s waving to us). Do you have any advice for what I might need or want to have at the “nursing station”? Right now I have the breast pump, an ipod/iphone charger/dock/clock/speaker thing, a basket of burp cloths (on the floor), a couple books, and the galactagogues I’ll be taking.

The pennants over the window and closet door are something I made a while ago. I have a tutorial on how to make a bunting if you’re interested.

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*For more information/experiences about Montessori Floor Beds, read these posts and articles:

Welcome to my Living Room

So it’s not exactly AFTER… there are still some things I want to do to it, and I didn’t “stage” the room for photos so… yeah. But I figure it might be a while before it’s actually at AFTER and this is close enough for sharing!

Orange rug: Love it. I debated over whether or not to do the rug-on-a-carpet thing, but decided it would add such impact to the room and define the space well that it was necessary. And once I discovered this rug-to-carpet tape and its awesome reviews, there was no question. Yes, the tape works. No curling corners, sliding rug even when vacuuming, or wrinkles when we slide the coffee table around… it rocks. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this tape sooner. It would’ve REALLY helped our rug-on-carpet situation in Mississippi. (The corners curled, tripped us, we got wrinkles in the rug sometimes, had to adjust the positioning at least a couple times a week, etc.)

Orange curtains: In case you didn’t know, if you buy curtains at IKEA you have to hem them yourself. haha. I had no clue! It’s nice though because they’re longer than other inexpensive curtains that are “ready made,” but it did take me a couple weeks before I got around to sewing them.

Orange pillows: Ikea inserts, Ikea fabric. I made the cases in the same manner as the dog bed cover. Except that instead of tri-folding the fabric, I actually cut 3 separate pieces (one for the front, and 2 to overlap for the back) because I didn’t want the design to be upside-down on the back!

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The yellow baskets under the coffee table are from World Market. Gosh I love that place! I’m planning on bringing in some more yellow by spray-painting the little lamp, and making 2 more throw pillows once I find a fabric I like. I think I want something with a medium-sized yellow-and-white geometric print.

The orange picture on the wall was my Large-Scale Custom Art on a Budget… and the throw blankets were also a simple project — throw blankets from a bedspread.

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Zora was posing so nicely I have to include her in the room tour.

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She got a little impatient with my picture-taking though.

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She thinks I’m boring, obviously.

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Oh, and here’s the other side. I have ideas for things I COULD do to make the room more “finished,” but won’t do because we won’t be in this house for a whole lot longer and I don’t want to invest in decor specific to a certain space at this point… but the idea involves big natural-textured urn/vase things with interesting curly sticks and/or feathers or something… and a set of small mirrors for a wall grouping. Maybe in the next house… not here though.

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In case you are wondering about other furniture…

The couch and loveseat are from Macy’s but they’re discontinued. Lucky us, we got an awesome deal.

The coffee table is an Ashley furniture thing — also discontinued. Also an awesome deal.

Pretty sure the TV console is also an Ashley furniture thing.

The “cubby shelves” are from Big Lots believe it or not. They look really nice, but up close you can tell they’re cheap. We’ll replace them someday but for now love them.

The other little shelf is a crappy Target $20 type thing. It’s temporary.

The other throw pillows (the ones I didn’t make) were from Urban Outfitters, but were a limited time thing. I LOVE Matte Stephens’s art though, and you can see a bunch more of it at his etsy shop.

How to Make a Dog Bed – Step-by-Step With Photos

Are you ready to learn how to make a dog bed? This project was so fun and easy, and it made my dog so happy! Plus, the new dog bed looks great in our house.

My sweet dog has been using the same dog bed since her birthday a year and a half ago. Needless to say, despite many washings and oxy-cleanings and such, it was gross-looking. Also, some holes had worn through the seams that attached the base to the “bumper.”

Zora deserved a new bed, and so did we (the old one did nothing for our decor!) so I set about to make her a super-comfortable one that would look nice in our living room.

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Here’s how to make a dog bed – step by step, with photos:

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The inside is made of two pillows that we already had. I just overlapped them a bit like this…

Maybe 4-6 inches of overlap.

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And sewed the pillows together along that overlap. I just did it by hand because I didn’t want to wrestle with the puffiness near my sewing machine… Repeat this on the other side.

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Then, just for kicks, I stitched a little bit in the center too, to help the two pillows stay attached to each other.

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I did that on both sides…
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…so the whole thing became like one big happy pillow.

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Then I got my fabric, which in this case is one of our faded living room curtains we are replacing.

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What you want is a piece of fabric long enough to wrap around the pillow with several inches of overlap.

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I trimmed the fabric so that the curtain-tabs were removed and the excess width was also removed. Then it was time to start crafting the pillow case.

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Fold up the un-hemmed overlapping edge (if you bought fabric, this will be BOTH edges… but since I was using a curtain, one was already hemmed for me) twice and pin it every couple inches. If you’re really good, you’ll iron this too, but I was okay with just pinning.

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Then sew.

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Lay it out again, wrapping tightly around the pillow, and overlapping the edges roughly in the middle. Exact measurements not necessary. At this point you want everything “inside out” so make sure the ugly side of your hems are facing up/out.

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Pin one side closed, then slide the pillow out…

… and pin the other side closed.

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Then when you sew along the two long edges you just pinned, you’ll be able to turn the entire thing right-side-out. Like this!

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Close-up of the overlap. It’s like making a giant sandwich baggie. Or you may already have some pillow shams for your bed that have similar construction.

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Stuff the pillow into the cover.

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And flip it over.

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And enjoy the way the new bed actually complements your decor instead of clashing with it.

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While your sweet dog can enjoy the soft fluffiness of her new bed!

Note: That bone she has is the SAME bone in her birthday post from a year and a half ago. She still LOVES it. We put her to bed with it and in the morning the first thing she does when she comes out of her crate is go back in her crate to grab her bone. I don’t know why she loves it so much, but there it is.

Did you like this step-by-step photo tutorial about how to make a dog bed?

Pin it to Pinterest so you have it when you’re ready to make your sweet dog a bed!

Or make a whole bunch of dog beds to donate to a shelter!

Living Room – Sneak Peek and Thoughts

Here’s a sneak peek of the progress on our living room overhaul. It’s no where near “finished” so I won’t be showing you the whole thing right now… but I have sort of a list going on…

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  1. We LOVE the new couch and love seat.
  2. We LOVE the new coffee table. Even though it’s darker wood than the one we saw in person in the store – it’s pretty fantastic.
  3. We are VERY pleased with the new TV console. It’s nice to have a piece of real-wood furniture there. It doesn’t “match” the coffee table, but my feeling is if we both like both pieces, and they look fine together to us, then we don’t need to worry about whether or not they objectively “match.”
  4. Furniture placement is going to change slightly from what it is at this very moment. Right now the room is pretty unbalanced, but I just had an epiphany that I think will solve that problem. I asked the hubs if he agreed and he told me he was kind of having the same thought. Score!
  5. There are a couple specific accessories I have my eye on…
  6. And a rug I have bookmarked…
  7. And a couple things I need to find but haven’t found yet…
  8. And a couple things already here that asked me to spray paint them…
  9. And a photograph dying for me to get it printed up huge and frame it…
  10. But those things all cost money, so we’ll see what happens first, and when the room is looking a little more “finished” (even if it’s not ALL the way finished) I will share more pictures with you.

PS Do you like the new vase? And the pretty pretty flowers are from a house near ours that has been abandoned (I guess maybe it’s a foreclosure or something?) and the yard is completely overgrown, but the garden still has lovely flowers in it. Next time I go flower-picking I need to wear gloves though – the sap made my hands itch for hours!

Hanford, CA Living Room – Before

So I realize that I haven’t really shown off this house very much… I don’t think I’ve done any sort of official “house tour” post. I’ll try to do room by room posts though, eventually.

For now, I figured it was probably a good idea to share our living room, since we’re about to CHANGE it. haha. This super-comfy couch has been ours for as long as we’ve been married, and mine before that, and before that it was my mother’s. But with 5 moves (not counting any times my mom moved it) and surviving a puppy’s curiosity (it’s a bit nibbled), it’s a bit closer to shabby than to nice right now.

Recently, Macy’s furniture store was having a sale, so we trekked up to Fresno to check out a couch I had in my bookmarks for MONTHS and months. Well the style was great, but the fabric left us both wishing for something better. So we wandered around the store for a while, until I spied a lonely loveseat. It was a very similar style, but the fabric was much, much better. It was on clearance since it was the floor model and discontinued – so very reasonably priced! We inquired as to whether a couch existed to match, and the sweet sales lady found one in the northern part of the state. YAY!

So we ordered both of them, and they should be delivered TODAY. And a guy from Cragislist is going to pick up our green couch either today or tomorrow… so it will continue to be loved and appreciated. Its life isn’t over yet!

So without further ado, here’s the “before” living room.

At one time, I loved these curtains… but they have faded incredible amounts over the years. They used to be a lot brighter/deeper color, and now they’re kind of pale and anemic-looking. I have lots of fabric and curtains bookmarked, and eventually will buy/make some new ones to replace these. That’s not first on the list though.
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The TV console is another hand-me-down from my mom. It looks relatively nice, but it’s MDF/laminate as opposed to wood, and so it’s really shown the beatings each move has given it. It’s on the list for replacement too.

So is the coffee table. It IS solid wood, but over the time we’ve had it, we’ve both decided it’s a bit more visually heavy than we’d like. New one’s on the way!

Also, we got a little tree for the spot to the right of the TV console – but it got sad-looking so it’s outside now trying to recover. I think it needs new soil. We may or may not succeed in saving it.

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Both bookshelves in this room are “cheap.” Not wood, etc… but this cubby-style one looks pretty nice (at least until it gets more beat up with more moves under its belt). Eventually we’ll get nicer bookshelves for our living room, but not in the next year or so. So these will stick around though they aren’t the best.

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And it would be nice to have a rug for visual impact. We’ll have to see if that happens any time soon…

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I love this little nook that you can see from the couch. There are definite plans to bring in more orange into the rest of the room.

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Isn’t this vase thingy the most fun PUNCH of orange? Love it. And of course I’m still in love with my Ron Roland painting.

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So that’s the living room as it is at this moment… a few changes are coming though. I hope it works out nicely.

Progress on the Baby’s Room

So we have this great room that gets TONS of sunlight during the day, and when we moved here we had planned to use it as the playroom for my in-home childcare. But then I got my job as a nanny (outside of my home) and decided not to pursue getting my childcare license, because it takes many months of “process” (made longer by furlough days and understaffed offices) and several hundreds of dollars.

I had already unpacked all of my childcare stuff though, and had even set up my play room – that’s how quickly I got “settled” here. So anyway, as time went on, we began to use the room as a sort of dumping ground (I hate rooms like that, grr) for various things we didn’t need right away… and then for the few things we bought for the baby already, and the things our friends have handed-me-down for her… but we never went in there, so we didn’t care.

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But now we’re roughly 17 weeks away from having another family member join us, and even though she will sleep in our room for a while, it would be nice if we had a “baby room” where I can spend some quiet time with her during the day, or where I can take her for the night and sleep with her if she is being fussy all night and my husband has a 6am flight and needs his sleep. So I started packing up my childcare things. And do you know what? I have a LOT of books and toys and stuff for 3-5 years old. Our baby girl is gonna be SET in a few years.

So anyway, today I set up 12 boxes – one for each month of the year, and I put my book boxes into them (I recently got little “cube” box/baskets from Target and separated my books by month) and my seasonal toys. Then, I started dividing up other toys – floor puzzles got spread out, different types of building sets and blocks got spread out, different “card games” got scattered… so this way when I do eventually start up childcare again, my toys will rotate a bit better and maybe I won’t forget about things as much. The two pictures on the right here show those boxes, 6 in the baby’s room and 6 in the living room, as I sorted things into them. I also started picking out a few toys and things I had never actually used and didn’t see myself using in the future for my childcare or my child, to sell them.

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Aaand… this is the state of the room right now. My 12 boxes are all packed up, and most of the other childcare stuff is also in boxes and moved out of the baby’s room. In the bottom right picture, those 2 shelves closest to the closet? Those, and everything on them, are going to be garage-sale-d next weekend, along with the little pile of books and things that are in the bottom left photo on the left side of the door. Some of the boxes and things still need to be moved/stored somewhere else, but for the most part, the room is looking MUCH better and is much more ready to become a nursery.

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This is the hall closet – before, during, and after all the packing. This is ALL childcare stuff. Can you believe it? Like I said, our little girl is going to be set for books and toys when she’s 3-5. haha.

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I will post more updates as I prepare the room for our sweet baby’s arrival. We won’t be doing a TON in this room, because we already know we will be moving about 3 months after she’s born (though we don’t know where yet). So no paint on the walls, or wall shelves installed – we will probably hang some pictures and get her a dresser and a recliner/rocker for me, but I have lots more ideas for her “final” room… the one she will actually spend 3 years of her life living in. You’ll just have to wait till Octoberish to see all of that though.

20 Weeks Pregnant, Tommy Emmanuel, and Primal Chicken Fingers!

Yesterday I hit 20 weeks in this pregnancy. A lot of people will say, “Wow, 20 weeks! You’re halfway through! But that’s only part true… while a pregnancy may last 40 weeks on average, for some reason (as I mentioned before) it’s measured from the first day of the last menstrual period, so for the first 2 weeks, you’re not actually pregnant. Then, I didn’t know I was pregnant until Week 6. So as far as “feeling pregnant” goes, this is only week 14 for me. Out of 34 weeks (based on a 40-week pregnancy, finding out at 6 weeks) that I will “feel pregnant” total.

Technicalities aside, I can see that I don’t have much longer to get ready for this baby! I’m so nervous because I haven’t found a Bradley class to take yet (recommended by my midwife, and I really want to find one to enroll in) or done much in the way of preparing the baby’s room or any of that. We don’t have a car seat or a bed or a dresser for the baby… so why is a prenatal massage on the top of my list of “things to do for the baby?” Haha!

This week we’ve started preparing our garden for the spring, and even bought a few plants (though the Lowe’s guy said they’ll have lots more to choose from in 2 weeks, so we’ll have to go back then). We’ve also talked about (though not done much about) preparing for a yard sale to get rid of some of the clutter taking up space in the house and garage. Also, since we know we’re going to move (whether into base housing or across the country) a few months after the baby is born, there are some things I can start packing already… mostly my child development materials which I’m not using now since I’m working outside of my home as a nanny, rather than doing childcare here. That doesn’t sound like much since it’s just one “category” of things, but it’s a LOT of things that I can pack up and it will free up some space for us!

Week 20 copy

So this Tommy Emmanuel concert? Holy crud… there are no words.

If you’re a fan of music or fingerpicking or guitars in general or even just a person with ears… Tommy Emmanuel will amaze and delight you. As a musician he is beyond talented, and as a performer, he is incredibly engaging and entertaining.

My dad is a huge fan of his and sent me an email a little bit ago saying that he was going to be performing near me and to QUICKLY buy tickets. Of course I jumped on it (since I’m also a huge fan) and got the last pair of “Golden Circle” tickets (first five rows) for his Tuesday performance at Orange Blossom Junction in Exeter, CA.

We didn’t really know anything about the venue, so we arrived all dressed up, possibly a bit overdressed. I didn’t mind though. It was our first big Valentine date *ever* (not counting military balls) and CERTAINLY a special occasion for us – celebrating our couplehood, our growing family, and our first Tommy concert!

Orange Blossom Junction, Exeter CA

Evidently this is the smallest venue in the WORLD where Tommy Emmanuel plays, by 300-500 seats. It was like sitting in a living room with a bunch of good friends… quite intimate. I feel VERY lucky (and we were in the 3rd row, a bit right of center).

Orange Blossom Junction Exeter, CA - Tommy Emmanuel Concert

We got a nice lady to snap a photo of us, and then we headed upstairs for dinner before the show.

The 3 of us ready to hear Tommy Emmanuel play!

The dining room was maybe a bit TOO intimate for my liking. Our table was maybe 4 inches away from the next table (on both sides). But the food was quite delicious and unique (the crab cakes with bay shrimp were delicious, and the homemade Cabernet ice cream was amazing) which made up for the squished-ness a bit. (See in the foreground of this picture? It looks like a line down the middle of the tablecloth, but those are 2 separate tables VERY close to each other, each for a separate couple who don’t know each other. Oh, well.)

Orange Blossom Junction dining room

He was a little embarrassed that I wanted to take a picture in the dining room.

Topher at Orange Blossom Junction dinner

But I didn’t mind… sometimes I’m embarrassing, and he knew that getting into this.

Me at Orange Blossom Junction dinner

After dinner, we headed downstairs to grab our seats for the concert, and snapped a quick photo with Tommy’s guitars before we put the camera in the car (no photography allowed during the show).

Us and Tommy Emmanuel's Guitars at Orange Blossom Junction

This is the song (not my video, not from this concert) that the baby started moving around during. I was grinning like an idiot while choking back tears. It was the most intensely emotional moment… Endless Road:

I also LOVED this song, which will be on his new album (I think that’s what he said). Halfway Home:

And this one, Haba na Haba (Little by Little):

So enough of that… on to the Primal Chicken Fingers. And sorry, there are no photos. I made them tonight and they were so simple, but too good not to share!

Primal Chicken Fingers:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and oil a baking dish.
  2. Flatten 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts slightly, just so they are a consistent thickness and will cook at the same rate throughout. Then slice into “fingers” (I got 4 good fingers out of each breast).
  3. Beat 1 egg with a generous splash of milk or coconut milk. Put the chicken pieces into the egg mixture.
  4. In a ziploc bag, combine 3/4 cup of Almond flour with 2-3 Tbsp coconut flour and the seasonings of your choice. I used a pre-mixed Ranch seasoning (not primal) but onion powder, garlic salt, and parsley would’ve been good if I weren’t so lazy tonight.
  5. A few pieces at a time, pick up the chicken fingers and let the extra egg wash drip back into the bowl before tossing them in the bag (seal it obviously) like “Shake ‘n’ Bake.”
  6. Arrange the coated pieces in your baking dish, then cook for about 25 minutes or until they’re cooked through.

At first I was disappointed that the outsides didn’t crisp (though I could’ve crisped them in a pan no problem) but the flavor? Out of this world. We will definitely make them again! VERY yummy.