31 January 2012


If any of you are animal lovers like me, take some time to visit the below link and consider helping out.

My cousin Stella's cat, Jinx, was attacked by a dog over New Years. As a result, she has had severe, irreparable damage to her back left leg. Stella recently found out that Jinx's leg needs to be amputated and today is the day. The vet bills are $1,800.

My cousin is an avid animal lover and works at the Philadelphia SPCA devoting her days to helping other animals. She rescued Jinx from a high-kill shelter and loves her so much. I want to do what I can to help her out.

Anything you can do will help.
Thank you!

EDIT: Jinx's surgery has been moved to tomorrow. Also, Stella will be accepting donations even after the surgery, so tomorrow isn't a deadline. Thanks again!

Guest Room: Primed and Ready to Paint

I'm so excited to say that the guest room renovations are underway!

Just as a refresher, here is how the guest room has looked for the past 2+ years.

I took yesterday off from work to get a little done around the house without having to worry about Lucy around paint fumes and smelly stain. She went with my mom for her usual Monday with Nana so I was able to get to work pretty early.

We don't have cable in the guest room, just a DVD player,
so I stocked up on some goodies to watch and got to work around 9am.

Now that we have Lucy, I'm a little more conscious of the products we are using in the house. For that reason, I chose this Kilz Clean Start primer with zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) and low odor.

After about 3 hours cooped up in the guest room, the primer is complete and the deep, dark green has been covered.

Although there is still much more work to be done before the walls are finished, it feels good to at least have the green gone and see the room a bit brighter. It looks kind of awkward and bland with the just primer, but I know once the walls are completely painted, the room is going to look so much bigger. I'm also anxious to get started on the decor elements in the room, but I've told myself I need to get all of the painting done before I can do the 'fun' stuff. 

Even the mess that was leftover from the curtain rod(s) that the previous owners installed is gone with no trace of any damage on the walls. 

Still left for the guest room painting:
- purchase Martha Stewart 'Lamb' paint and paint the walls
- touch up trim and doors
- prime and paint inside of closet (seen below)

Once the paint is complete I have a few projects I plan to work on for the room:
- refinishing (and possibly paint) a shipping pallet as a wall storage unit
- stain and refashion the wine crate into a rustic storage bin
- lighting, lighting, lighting! (possibly DIYing a chandelier-esque light fixture to hang above the bed.) 
- Gallery wall of gold frames
- lots of fun, DIY decor

30 January 2012

Photo of the Day: 1.30.12

Posting will be slow today. 
Busy priming the guest room. 
Photos and updates tomorrow.

Happy Monday!

27 January 2012

Guest Room: Prep Work

Slowly but surely, progress is being made in the guest room.

I purchased primer last weekend, but before any painting could be done I needed to do a little prep work. The wooden curtain rod in the below picture needed to go. It was installed by the previous homeowners and just doesn't go with the decor I'm planning. In addition, the installation was very loose and it seemed that any bit of weight would cause the right side would rip out of the wall.

Jordan worked late last night so once Lucy was in bed I had some time to get started on some prep work in the guest room. After taking down the curtain rod, I was left with this mess around the window.

The outer damage is from the wooden curtain rod. As you can see on the right side, the damage was pretty nasty and left a large hole to be repaired. The inner, square spot was leftover from a previous curtain rod installation that the was never removed when they installed the new one. I have no clue what the tiny holes right around the window are from.

A few minutes of spackling and the wall around the window is on it's way to being patched and prepped for paint. I let the spackle dry over night and will sand and scope out the progress later this evening. Because of the large holes left by the curtain rod, I will most likely need to do a little more spackle work until the wall is completely patched and smooth.

Here is all the crap (read: hardware) that was removed from the wooden curtain rod, the previous curtain rod that was never removed, and from the blinds that were installed inside the window.

That was really the only prep work that needed to be done before paint. Normally I would also prep the room and use painter's tape to tape off the trim, but since I'm using white primer and white paint I decided to save myself the hour of taping the room. I can freehand around the trim and because the room is white, if I smudge a little it won't be noticeable. Plus the trim will need a fresh coat of paint at the end anyway.

I took a vacation day from work on Monday and I'm treating myself to a three day weekend. My mom is still going to watch LJ for us on Monday so I can get to work painting the walls and hopefully knocking out another "smelly" project I have for the guest room. I'm predicting a very productive weekend.

My canvas is finished and I just need to do a few touch ups on the paint and find a home.
I'll share with you next week my tutorial to create your own chevron design.

Happy Friday!!

26 January 2012

My Tips to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

Jordan and I recently did one of our semi-annual cleaning out of closets and putting together boxes and bags for donation. I thought now would be good time to share my tips when it comes to de-cluttering the home. 

We all have our own quirks when it comes to our homes. I've told you before that only use clear hand and dish soaps. I like my towels folded a certain way. I keep my yogurts and water bottles with the labels facing front in the fridge. I save old gift bags and tissue paper (that isn't damanged) to reuse for future birthdays/holidays. Those are just a few of my many idiosyncrasies.

I'm not one who is into the super hyper organization in the home. I've seen tons of ideas on Pinterest, but a lot of them just don't appeal to me. I'm personally not a fan of labeling or color coding everything. I wouldn't use an over the door shoe rack for cleaning supplies or Macguyver some old carboard box into an elaborate jewelry storage system. I'll never have binders for recipes and big charts for cleaning schedules. It's just not my personal taste. I like things to look a little more natural in my home. (Now for those of you who do like these things, more power to you! To each their own. Your house is probably more organized than mine will ever be and for that I am jealous.)

That being said, I do hate clutter. Living in a small house like ours, it is very easy for clutter to build up. Now that we have LJ it's much harder to contain the clutter than it used to be, but I think we are doing pretty well. Jordan and I make it a point to straighten things up before we go to bed at night, no matter how late it us or how tired we are. We rarely let dishes sit in the sink for more than a few hours. We try to put laundry away as soon as it is cleaned (although I slack a little on this one).

My point is that if you stay on top of things even 75% of the time, you'd be amazed how clutter-free your home can be. (ugh, sorry for the rhyme)

Here is my breakdown of the biggest clutter culprits (at least in our home) and how I deal with them.

Biggest Clutter Culprits

  • Paper clutter - I find paper clutter to be one of the easiest to accumulate - bills, receipts, coupons, lists, magazines, etc. We have a basket on our kitchen counter where we keep these loose papers.
  • Clothes - I think everyone is guilty of keeping more clothes than they wear in the hopes that someday they will find the perfect occasion, or for fear that they will want to wear it the minute they give it a toss.
  • Bath products. This may be more of a girl thing, but I know it's super easy for me to suddenly accumulate a plethora of lotions, body soaps, chapsticks, nail polishes, and any other miscellaneous grooming items.
  • Keeping things for sentimental value. Whether it's a hand-me-down, a gift from a relative or something you received for a special occasion, these are items that you personally don't want to part with. I totally get these. I have my own sentimental pieces, like the milk glass given to me by my grandparents that I could never part with.
  • Keeping things out of obligation. These are those items that you were given possibly as a gift and you really have no emotional attachment to or need for, but feel like you need to display out of repsect to the person who gave it to you. (Now don't judge me, but I will admit I have gotten rid of such items. I do what I can not to throw things away that can be reused, but I'm a big donater.)
  • Shower Gifts (Wedding/Baby). I learned this one the hard way. No matter how many items you put on your registry, half of the gifts you receive will be items you didn't ask for. When we had Lucy we received probably 50 bibs and 30 blankets, more newborn clothes than she could wear before she grew out of them, and many other things that we simply didn't need or received way more than we could use.
Ways to Deal with Clutter
  • My first initial reaction with clutter is just to throw it away! Yup, I'm not afraid to trash. Sorry guys!
  • Donation Trucks. Jordan and I are big on donating to the Purple Heart, Veteran, or whatever truck is coming around. We generally donate around every four months, but sometimes more often if we have an excessive amount of items. They take clothes, sheets, curtain, and 'small' house hold items. No furniture.
  • Goodwill and other second hand stores. I generally only use Goodwill for large furniture items that the donation trucks won't take, but they will accept all the above items that the trucks take, too.
  • Resale Shops. I'm a huge fan of these, particularly for baby items. Once both my showers were done and I had cleaned and put away what we needed, I had a pile of items that were duplicate, or that we had way too many of, or that I knew we simply could not and would not use. I packed these items up and brought them to a local children's resale shop and sold them. I used the money I made to purchase things we really did need that we weren't given. For example, I bought two Baby Gap brand winter coats for Lucy for $10 a piece each (probably originally $50 a piece).
  • Seasonally Filter Out Clothes. I think it's best to go through your clothes after those times of year when you "revamp" your wardrobe. Holidays, birthdays, new seasons, and any time when you receive clothes or gift cards and treat yourself to a shopping spree, are the best times to weed out your closet. Sometimes I will do this and stick them in a box or bag in a spare room or basement until the next time one of the donation trucks comes through the neighborhood. The standard rule has always been, if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.
  • Toss old, unused or expired products. I hold the same rule for these items as I do with clothes. If you've had a bottle of lotion it for 6 months or more and don't regularly use it, toss!
  • Paper Clutter -
    • I make it a point to clean out the basket on our counter every few weeks and toss out old junk mail, expired coupons, catalogues, etc. I also file away any paystubs or paid bills or other important papers in a filing cabinet we keep in our basement for important papers. 
    • I only keep receipts until my checkbook is balanced and I know I won't be returning anything.
    • I make sure I only have 1 copy of any takeout menu that we order from (because they mail a new one almost weekly).
    • Magazines are tossed after they have been read (unless there is a recipe or article I want to keep).
  • Just Keep the Basics. While I try to donate or get rid of old home decor items that I never or rarely use, there are certain things I like to keep around. Here are just a few:
    • Decorative pillows can always be recovered for cheap or swapped out seasonally. When decorating Lucy's room, I purchased some new pillow covers from Etsy pretty inexpensively and recovered old Ikea and other pillows I had stashed in a closet.
    • Candlesticks -You never know when you will want to jazz up a table setting for a dinner party with a ton of candles or surprised you loved one with a little romantic mood. I always keep avareity of candlesticks and a stash of plain white candles for such times. 
    • Curtains. Mostly sheers. In the summer I sometimes like to swap out a big, thick curtains for an airy sheer. I love natural light and wish I had more windows in our house.
    • Sentimental Items. I'm all about keeping things for sentimental purposes. I have a number of things from the hospital when Lucy was born that if I ever become the scrapbooking type, I'll put together somehow. I do, however, try to control the amount that I keep. For example, I had tons of leftover wedding favors, programs, etc. Keep one of them (or two if you had multiple versions/colors/etc.) No need to keep a case full of old green apple flavored sparkling wine that I'll never drink.
These are just my personal tips for clutter control. There are tons of ideas out there. Of course there are also lots of tips and blogs dedicated to organizing the home, but that's a compeltely different animal that I'm no expert on.

Do you guys have any great clutter control tips to share?

24 January 2012

Photo of the Day 1.24.12

Shower curtain was delivered today!

Six Month Milestones

Last Thursday, January 19th, Lucy turned 6 months. 
I can honestly say that was the fastest six months of my life.

The Stats:
Weight: 15 pounds (30th percentile)
Length: 27.5 inches (97th percentile)

  • Just after Christmas, we decided to start trying to give Lucy rice cereal to help her sleep through the night. She loves it and it has really helped. We also tried bananas and sweet potatoes neither of which she really cared for, yet.
  • Can now sit up completely on her own
  • Starting to learn that her actions have reactions i.e., pulling on the penguin in her playpen will make it play music
  • Interacts with all her toys
  • Will sit in her playpen and keep herself occupied with toys
  • Loves her bouncer and jumps like crazy when in it
  • Still squeals and shrieks loudly. Learning new sounds all the time
  • Has started to kick her legs when excited
  • Watches Yo Gabba Gabba. This is really the only TV she watches other than when I put Baby Einstein on. But as soon as YGG starts, she is mesmerized and Mommy can shower.
  • Will now reach towards me or Jordan when she wants to be held or picked up.
  • Has clingy, 'no stranger' moments where if anyone tries to hold her besides me, Jordan, my parents or his parents, she gets upset.
  • Drooling seems to have slowed with no signs of teeth, yet
  • She is starting to show signs of hunger by sucking on my chin, shoulder, etc
  • Still exclusively fed by me, but when drinking pumped milk she will hold her own bottle

Our sweet girl.

Sweet potato face.

Sitting up in her bumbo watching Yo Gabba Gabba in a trance.

Look at those lashes

Happy 6 Months, Lucy Bug!

23 January 2012

February Photo of the Day Challenge

You may remember that in early January I started to post a photo of the day that shows something I'm working on, something I find inspiring or just something that caught my eye each day.

While perusing my blogs on my lunch break, I saw that Shelley from House of Smiths is participating in a February Photo of the Day Challenge. I missed the boat to join in for January, but I'm excited at the idea of starting fresh for the month of February

It's pretty simple: using the below list as an inspiration take a picture each day. Then share your photo on Instagram, Twitter, your Blog and/or Facebook using the hash tag #FEBPHOTOADAY.

Here are the topics for the month of February:

I'm already getting inspired with all these fun ideas.
My biggest challenge will be remembering to do this on the weekends or not skipping a day, but I like the idea of a good challenge.

Anyone else want to join in??

Hello Monday

Hello Monday!

My girlfriends from college came down Saturday and we had great lunch date at Pizza By Elizabeths, followed by my first real night out since Lucy was born. After a busy Saturday spent with my girls, Sunday was very low-key catching up on some things around the house.

Sunday afternoon I worked on a new chevron canvas. I'll post a tutorial showing how to create a chevron pattern along with a reveal of my art piece. I'm still deciding where I want to put the finished piece.

I'm excited to say that some of my online shopping goodies came this weekend.
I purchased a new frame from Crate & Barrel (below). It's now (empty) in the master bedroom where I'm trying to update some of the pictures and decor. I'm have an obsessed-with-buying-frames moment. I have a number of frames in my "cart" on Pottery Barn, West Elm, Targets and Crate & Barrel's website. I'm going to revamp the living room gallery wall, too, but more on that later.

I bought this cute, canvas laptop case from West Elm.
In yellow, of course, my favorite color. I had been using a dark paisley patterned one that came with an old bag I purchased years ago. This one just seems cherrier and less dark and drab so I did a swap.

I also ordered this Hammam Stripe Hand Towel from West Elm to spruce up our vintage bar cart in the dining room. Now that I took this picture I realize it could use a quick iron..

I messed around with some neutral textiles on our couch.
The black and white striped pillow is new from Crate & Barrel.

I needed some fresh greens for the house, so I snagged a few small indoor plants and cactuses at Home Depot. Here's hoping I can keep them alive. I want to find some fun, pretty plant holders. I'm using mini drinking glasses I bought from Anthropologie for the two small cactuses.

The shower curtain for the master bathroom should be here this week.
I'm excited to get things a little more tied together in that room.

Up for the rest of the week:
  • Lucy's 6 month milestones. I cannot believe it's already been half a year since our little bug was born. 
  • I'll show you how to make the perfect chevron pattern that you can use on anything - walls, canvases, painting a rug, etc. 
  • I'll also share with you some tips to keep your house clutter-free. We have the Purple Heart veteran truck coming this week and will be packing up a tons of boxes tonight and tomorrow night to donate. 
  • And finally, the time is here to get a move on painting the guest room! I'm starting with spackling up the walls followed by a coat of primer. I'll keep you updated as things progress.

19 January 2012

Photo of the Day: 1.19.12

Projects in the works.

How To Make a No Sew Crib Skirt

This post is way, way overdue. Like 5 months overdue.
I did this project back in August when we were cooped up in the house due to Hurricane Irene.
It was nighttime when I did the project, which explains the dark, yellow-y color to the photos.

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a seamstress. My sewing machine and I are not friends (although I'm really trying to fix that). So any way I can do a project like this and avoid sewing, I'm in. I'll admit that I do want to learn to use a sewing machine again as I'd love to make my own pillow covers, curtains, and all the amazing little sewing projects that are popping up all over Pinterest.

I originally wasn't going to use a crib skirt in Lucy's nursery, but because I had white sheets, a white bumper and a white crib, I decided I needed a little color in the mix. I lucked out that I had a good amount of fabric leftover from this failed DIY project (that I was going to attempt to redo, but nixed the idea since Lucy really doesn't sleep in her room during the day, plus I'm not a big fan of anything that block natural light.). 

The materials I used:
- Fabric
- Ruler/Tape Measure
- Scissors
- Iron
- Heat N Bond
- Velcro Squares 

To start, measure the crib along both the width of the mattress frame and height (floor to mattress frame). You want to take those measurements and add 3 inches each to the length and width (1.5 inches for each of four sides to use as a hem). That way you know how much fabric you need and can cut it down accordingly. I don't know if there is an easier way to cut fabric, but I lucked out that mine had a pattern that I could use as a guide to cut a straight line.

Repeat this to cut fabric for both sides of the crib as well.
If you'd like you can make a panel for the back side of the crib, but I chose not to.

Once the fabric is cut, the next step is to hem each side using that additional 1.5 inches you added to your measurements. Put a strip of Heat N Bond, paper side up, along the edge of the fabric and use the heat from the iron to attach. You want to hold the iron down for about 10 seconds and repeat this down the length of the fabric. 10 seconds should be plenty of time to seal the Heat N Bond. 

Using your ruler, measure 3 inches in from the edge of the fabric and make a few notches.
These notches will serve as your guide when folding the edge.

Peel the paper backing on the Heat N Bond, 

and fold your fabric up to the 3 inch mark, creating a 1.5 inch hem.

Again, use the iron to seal the hem.

You want to first repeat theses steps on the opposite side from your first hem,

then you will do the two remaining sides, resulting in a clean edge at all four corners.

One flipped over you will have a perfect rectangle for the front panel of the crib skirt.

Repeat this same process with the fabrics you cut for the side panels of the skirt.
Once all three sides (or four if you decided) are hemmed, you are ready to attach your fabric to the crib.
You want to make sure you remove the mattress and any bedding or bumper you have that will get in the way. 
The skirt wil be attached to the frame that the mattress rests on.

Along the frame, space out the velcro squares. You can let the number of velcro square you have to work with determine how far apart you can space them. The fabric is light and shouldn't need more thatn 4-6 squares on the long side to hold the fabric to the frame.

Peel back the paper, line up your fabric and press it into the sticky side of the velcro.
Velcro is best to use so that the skirt is both removeable and washable.

Once attached the skirt will look something like this.

You then repeat these steps on both sides of the crib.
Because of the mattress frame, the corner where the fabric meets won't be a seamless edge (at least it wasn't for me). You can see in the below pictures that the fabric hangs and sort of wraps around the frame piece.
Don't worry about this, though as the gap is mostly covered by the leg of the crib.

Once all three (or four if you did a back panel) sides are attached, the crib skirt it complete.

The last step is to put the mattress and bumper back in the crib.

This project was super easy and took me maybe two hours to complete.
I'm now a big fan of the Heat N Bond and plan to use it for curtains I bought from Ikea for our basement windows that are about a foot and a half too long.

Do you have any great no sew projects that you have used Heat N Bond to complete?