Please Excuse the Hiatus, Blame the Moving!

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Well, we did it! We moved to California! And in the craziest way possible… We tend to like to do moves as quickly and cheaply as possible. And when I say quick, I mean Jd accepted the job on a Friday, and we had movers come the following Friday!!! Not only that, but we moved out here without a place to live, and parked the moving van in the hotel parking lot while we found an apartment. But that’s how we do it, yo.

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Three days after arriving, we had ourselves an apartment. And let me tell you, its pretty great… It’s a third floor walk-up, but we actually volunteered to live on the third floor. We thought about it a lot and realized that one of the main complaints about apartment living is the noisy upstairs neighbors. So we decided to mitigate this by actually being the noisy upstairs neighbors. It has a great layout too, nice and open. And coming in at 1052 sqft of space, we are actually living pretty large! We definitely downsized from the house we had in Colorado, but it was refreshing to get rid of all of that stuff!

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(How we eat breakfast on move-in day!)

We gave away multiple carloads of random stuff before we ever left Colorado, and even got rid of a decent amount of furniture, namely our couch (which was huge and would have dominated any apartment livingroom). That’s how to do a move for sure, purge purge purge. And we still have some stuff to get rid of here… Most of what we gave up in moving to a smaller space is storage, so I’m having to get pretty creative with where everything is going. I didn’t want to move across the country to an “itty bitty living space” (bonus points if you can name that movie!) just to fill our new apartment with loads of stuff and be cluttered from day one!

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One of the saddest things we had to get rid of was Jd’s charcoal grill. I gave it to him for a wedding/Christmas gift right after we got married, but CA doesn’t allow charcoal grills at apartment complexes. So that got tossed on move-in day. :(

After moving in (with the help of movers) the first order of business was couch shopping! And I love what we came home with. I had done lots of prior research knowing that we would be getting rid of our couch and saw lots of great reviews of the Ikea Karlstad couch. My favorite bloggers over at YHL brought home “Karl” a few years ago, and it has held up quite nicely to a munchkin and a chihuahua so we thought we would give it a try.

that just might be amazing… Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share all the details!

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After some debate, we decided to go with the Karlstad in Isunda Gray. It is a very light gray color, that almost looks like a pale denim. But it looks fantastic in our new place! I love how light it feels instead of being dark and heavy. Now to decorate the rest of the room… I have visions of a large navy all-natural fiber rug with some type of geometric pattern. And for the curtains, I have an idea that would be super awesome…. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to share all of the details! Your clue is: stencils.

Thumbelina, My New Sewing Machine!

I did it! As I told you here, I have been wanting to learn how to sew. So my sister helped me out by finding a 10 year old Brother sewing machine on craigslist, and I got it for a whopping $40!! I was pretty thrilled to get sewing and started pretty much as soon as I bought it.

My friend Nancy turned me onto this Youtube tutorial about making pinwheels. It seemed pretty straightforward and only involved straight stiches. So I cut myself some fabric squares to make into pinwheels. The cuts were pretty terrible since I was only using an exacto knife and scissors and didn’t have a ruler. But it gave me an idea for how to make a basic pinwheel, and here is my result! Not bad for a first ever try!

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So last weekend I decided to try a couple more projects. I hear that one of the easiest beginner projects is pillow covers, so I thought I would make a few for our bed. I used this tutorial to make two different pillow covers. I got the fabric on sale at Joann’s for $10/yard and I only needed 1/2 yard per pillow cover (not even that much, really). I planned on making them both with the front made out of my nice fabric but the back made out of a cheaper cotton that I paid $5/yard (I bought a whole yard). I already had some pillows at home that I wanted to use as inserts, so I just had to use their measurements. One was 18×18″ and the other 12×18″. When I looked at my pillows, I decided to make one with a pillow front and the other as a wrap-around cover.

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What do you think?? I’m pretty proud!!

My total for the pillow project was $18 and that included 1/2 yard each of two quality home decorative fabrics, one yard of grey cotton, and some quality thread for my sewing machine.

Next up, making a quilt!

So ya’ want to sew?

Okay, so those of you who follow me on Facebook may have noticed my recent desire to learn how to sew. I even signed up for a free Craftsy online sewing class! There’s just one problem.

I don’t own a sewing machine…

Well, my very helpful and thrifty seester went on Craigslist for me today and found a basic 10 stitch Brother sewing machine! And it looks perfect. And, even better, within my price range! In fact, I’m “sew” excited about it, that I’m already writing this post (see what I did there?!) And I have no idea if I will even end up with it, haha!

But before I get too ahead of myself, I’m wondering what have been some of your favorite basic sewing projects? (Psst, this is where reader participation comes in!) So, I’m calling all seamstresses! You know who you are! What is your favorite basic sewing project? And just for fun, what is your most impressive to date? I would love for you to send in pictures!

Any favorite inspiration websites or bloggers? My favorite Sherry from YHL made her daughter a fun looking quilt! How fun does that look?! Maybe I should make Eden a quilt… If we weren’t moving soon, I would consider curtains… Maybe some placemats, or a table runner?

What is your favorite beginner machine? What did you start on? Was it your grandmothers vintage Singer? Or a new basic Brother? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

I’ll keep you posted as to whether or not I actually score a sewing machine, and if I do, the projects I embark on.

Be honest, did you name your sewing machine? I need to come up with a good one…

Meet Fitzwilliam.



No not a baby, a succulent! 

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Although, that is a great name for a baby! Bonus points if you know the literary reference ;)

My favorite blog, younghouselove.com, has shown me that even the people with the blackest of thumbs can in fact grow house plants. One of the bloggers, Sherry, has espoused the ease of growing house plants like succulents and cacti. While, I have been dying to try my hand at it, I have been holding back because of the possibility of moving to San Francisco (???????????). I was not very keen on buying a plant that I had to keep living through a move.

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(How cute is this bag my bestie, Laura, got me?? Love.)

But who knows if and when we are moving anywhere, so I decided to adopt Fitzwilliam. Yes, I have personalized a plant, and decided to name him (okay, it). I went to Ikea yesterday with my college freshman roommate, and its a great place to find succulents. They are super inexpensive there ($3!) and you can find adorable little pots for your new friend ($1.50!) So for a grand total of $4.50 (I know, hard math right there) I brought home a little succulent. And I think he’s adorable. Look at how cute he is sitting on our little shelf!

IMG_2745I have not had much luck keeping plants alive in the past. This summer I killed Rosemary, Basil and Mint plants. Herbs are supposed to be pretty easy to keep alive, right?! Not so much. The wind out here got crazy one night and I didn’t bring my little plants inside. Next morning they were looking pretty rough. I tried to bring them inside to revive them, but then they didn’t get enough sun. And maybe I over watered them? Or not enough? I have no idea…

But Sherry at YHL assures me that these little guys are easy to keep alive and hard to kill. Just water sparingly and give partial sunlight (which is actually one of the harder things in our house right now. We have windows, but they don’t really seem to put sunlight on any counters or shelves for the sake of giving life to a plant. We will see how this goes. Right now I have him on the edge of my table to soak up a few rays…

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I am really hoping this venture goes well, I would love to have more house plants in our lives. I have been trying to learn a bit more about off-gassing and house hold air purity, and apparently plants can do a ton to improve air quality. They recommend you have three plants per room, but I need to see if I can keep just one alive first! And I don’t want to buy a whole bunch of plants if we are moving soon. But this little guy? He can stay. And when we move, he can be my co-pilot for the drive :)

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Have you tried indoor plants? Or do you prefer the artificial-can’t-possibly-kill-them-venture? I would love to hear more about your indoor plant ventures! How did it go for you? Have you ever tried cacti? I think that’s my next goal. I love these that Sherry from YHL planted for their kitchen. What has been your most epic plant failure?

P.S. Check out how much fun Eden was having at Ikea! Maybe its time to turn her crib into a toddler bed…

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Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Mama: Diaper Rash Troubles

Okay, its confession time.

For the sake of not being too graphic, and for obvious reasons, this post won’t have any pictures of my poor little girl’s tushy. But trust me when I say it gets bad. Really bad.

To start with, you have to understand that Eden has a milk allergy. When she has a reaction, a couple of things inevitably happen. She gets mucousy/diarrhea poos that last for about 2 weeks, and she gets a rash. This rash sometimes clears quickly, but usually hangs around for as long as the reaction does due to the consistency of the poos. And then it can be really hard to clear up… It is not fun at all. Also, I have learned that my girl is *really* sensitive to her skin being wet.

I loved my hemp Best Bottom diaper inserts for their absorbency, but not so much for their moisture wicking capabilities. The main downside to hemp, is it feels wetter against skin. And apparently, Eden just can’t handle the amount of wet, especially overnight. So you can see how with a milk allergy, and sensitive skin, sometimes cloth diapering has been a challenge. Also, she almost always poops in the early morning, so she doesn’t necessarily get changed right away because she just doesn’t wake up. By morning time, she has a rash. This led to terrible rash cycles.

So bad, I almost abandoned cloth diapering completely. And you know how I love cloth!

We tried everything. Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom balm, not enough. Coconut oil, not enough. Fleece liners to wick moisture, not enough. Biodegradable liners to lift off poo, not enough and poo stayed against her skin too much and the material makes her skin red. Using zinc oxide creams applied in *very* thin layers and using biodegradable liners, not enough. (The idea being you can use the zinc oxide creams with a liner to protect your diaper, and then toss the liner. But this solution didn’t give her enough of a barrier from the wet and the poo.)

When her skin gets like this, it can actually get to the point of breakdown and open skin. You can see why I was getting so incredibly frustrated. I just couldn’t keep her skin clear. So then I broke down, decided I couldn’t keep cloth diapering her out of sheer stubbornness when she was suffering for it, and put her little hiney in disposables for about 2 months. It took a while of extra strength Desitin to clear up her little hiney, and then I didn’t want to put her back in cloth yet because she was still having the occasional milk reaction poo. Once we were clear of rashes and reactions for a little while, I decided to give cloth another chance, but making some changes.

I have started revamping my stash, so that it is primarily microfleece inserts with hemp doublers. It turns out this is the perfect solution for us. Because she wets so heavily at night, the hemp gives her the absorbency she needs. But because she is so sensitive, the hemp is on bottom and never against her skin. The microfleece goes against her skin, and provides the moisture wicking she needs. And I am very happy to report she has been almost completely rash free!

The other night an edge of hemp did peek out from under the fleece and ended up against her leg, so I put her in disposables for a couple of days, lathered her up with Desitin, ad we are clear again! Hooray! I am so, so thrilled we have finally found a solution that works! At the first hint of rash, we switch straight to disposables until she clears up, and then back to cloth. I will take it! I was getting really sick and tired of buying all those diapers! They are crazy expensive. I am much happier using them only when necessary for a rash, and using cloth the rest of the 95% of the time. Yay cloth!

I also talked to the lady at my favorite cloth diaper store, Baby Cotton Bottoms for the locals, who suggested a few things. The one I am most interested to try is raw silk liners. Apparently they have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and are incredible as rash healers! And at only $3 ea, I think I may have to grab up a few of these the next time I am in there. It would be a nice alternative to switching to cloth every time she gets a rash, and a good bit cheaper, too. In fact, the lady at the store said her son was pretty sensitive too, so she just put him in one of these at nights and nap times and they were able to stay rash free. I might just have to give these a shot. If I do, I will definitely let you know what I think!

Have you had trouble with diaper rash? What worked for you? Its just terrible, isn’t it? But I am so glad to have my little girl healthy again! Yay!

DIY Front Door Wreath

So truthfully, I made this wreath back in the fall and intended it to be seasonal, but I have left it up, and still love it! And its super easy to make, so here is a quick tutorial. Sorry, I forgot to take during pictures.

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First, I bought a foam wreath form and some fake flowers to decorate it with. Also, to make it a bit more personal, I had a letter “B” to add. I already had burlap and tan muslin fabric to wrap it with.

I wrapped the muslin around the wreath form in strips, and then did the same with the burlap. I already had a big piece of burlap, so I just cut it in 2-3″ strips. The muslin is added underneath so that the white foam won’t show through the burlap. All of this was secured at the back with basic sewing pins.

Next, I decided on an arrangement I liked with the fake flowers before hot gluing them in place.

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Last, I painted the “B” a nice burnt orange and hot glued it to the wreath as well. And the very last step was just adding some ribbon to hang the wreath with. The only thing I didn’t account for was the weight of the wooden letter, so it hangs a little crooked. I may try to fix this in the future, but it works for now.

So there you have it! A quick and easy wreath for your front door. And I have been rather pleased with how well it has worked for our front door in spite of it being more of a “fall” wreath. I still love it! Doesn’t it look great?!

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Have you made any fun wreaths lately? They are such a simple update for your front porch! I just love it :)

Woolzies Dryer Balls GIVEAWAY!!!

Because I love Woolzies so much, and want to share them with you, I’m hosting a Woolzies Dryer Balls Giveaway! And this just makes my heart all warm and fuzzy inside :)

Entering is easy, just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. A random winner will be selected and contacted about their fabulous prize! This giveaway is available worldwide, so share with your friends, people!

For more information about what Woolzies are, see my product review.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product Review: Woolzies Dryer Balls

Woolzies Dryer Balls are exactly that. Dryer balls made out of 100% wool. They shorten drying time and are a natural fabric softener. So instead of using dryer sheets, which cause build up and shouldn’t be used on towels or things like cloth diapers, wool dryer balls are completely natural, don’t leave any build up or residue, and help to shorten the drying time of your load.

As a fabric softener, these are absolutely just as effective as dryer sheets, but I can also use them on my towels and cloth diapers, which I love! I love that I can put them in with Eden’s diapers to help keep them nice and soft for her little sensitive bum.

They are advertised as helping with static cling, but I can’t say I have personally experienced that. Although, I do live in a dry climate, and don’t really have much luck in this area with dryer sheets either. So, maybe its just my dryer or where we live, who knows…

As far as drying time is concerned, I have definitely noticed a difference. The caveat here is that you need a minimum of 6 dryer balls to shorten drying time, and more = shorter drying. For our family, I have noticed about a 20% decrease in drying time of big loads. This is especially true for a larger load. I have been able to decrease the heat used to dry my laundry as well as a shorter time. For our cloth diapers (as long as I am doing the full load) the drying time has decreased from 90-100 minutes to 70-80. These do still need to be on high heat but I am pretty happy with a 20 minute shorter time frame!

For a regular load, I have been able to decrease everything by one heat setting from what I used to dry them at, as well as about a 20% shorter time frame. I will go ahead and note that if I am doing a smaller load, especially with the diapers (but also everyday laundry), it doesn’t necessarily seem to help a whole lot. The smaller load still seems to take about 100 min to dry, but they do come out nice and soft :)

Another thing you can try is adding essential oils like lavender to the balls, and it only takes a couple of drops. This gives your laundry a nice scent. I haven’t tried this yet, purely because I haven’t bought the oil yet, but I have heard great things about this method and fully intend on trying it out. Once I do, I’ll give you an update!

Grade = A- Yes I would definitely recommend these! And look forward to adding some essential oils for a nice scent :)

Pros: Overall, I have been very pleased with the Woolzies Dryer Balls. In the long run, they are much cheaper than dryer sheets and don’t cause buildup or residue. I have seen a shortened drying time and decreased heat settings. Everything definitely comes out comfy and soft! Cheaper than dryer sheets when spread out over time. They are also hypoallergenic.

Cons: I have not noticed any difference as far as static is concerned, and some things even seem a bit more staticky. I also have not had decreased drying time for the smaller loads of laundry (which is the opposite of what is advertised, maybe I should do a time trial comparison…) More expensive upfront cost compared to dryer sheets at $35/set of 6.

 

P.S. See their website for additional information and purchasing options (set of 3/6).

P.P.S. It is important to note that while I was given a free set of Woolzies Dryer Balls to write this review, all opinions expressed are strictly my own. I had already heard great things about them and wanted to give them a try.

I hate New Years Resolutions. And Here’s My Alternative.

So I recently read a blog post about not having New Years Resolutions, but rather having a word to describe your upcoming year. I like this idea immensely. I really hate New Years Resolutions, mainly because for me they are always an epic failure. I’m just plain terrible at actually following through on something like this. So I have come up with my word for 2014.

Intentional – done by intention or design (per merriam-webster.com).

I am definitely not always the best at being intentional about things. Things that matter. Like taking care of my house, or going to exercise. But this is my goal, or if I may, my intention for this year. I want to be more focused and present. Some of the synonyms definitely get at my goal here: conscious, deliberate, purposeful, intended. I think this speaks to the number one way I want to improve myself.

I want, no, I need to be more intentional in my life. So here goes. To 2014, and being intentional.

Cheers.

 

P.S. Lets not think about the fact that I have been “intending” on writing this post for oh, about 13 days now. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Eden’s First Birthday Party!!!

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So we are all aware that the first birthday party, while a big deal, is really all for the mom. I decided to just embrace this fact. Keep in mind, that after this, Eden will actually have some opinions in the matter. This one is the only birthday party that I really get to hijack and make all my own. And it was amazing.

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As many of you know, I am a huge Phantom of the Opera fan. My dad took me to see it for the first time when I was 11, and I have been in love ever since. In fact, Music of the Night was the first song Eden ever heard. I played it for her in utero and even had the album playing in the delivery room (after I got the epidural and just wanted some rest). I also play it for her sometimes to help her go to sleep (especially during the really terrible reflux nights…) So it was only fitting that she have a Phantom of the Opera themed First Birthday Party. Complete with candles everywhere.

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And since we are already embracing the fact that this party is really for me, I decided it should be a Masquerade Ball. Yep. Completely over the top, and wholeheartedly unnecessary. I accept this.

My inspiration for the colors and decor came from the Masquerade scene from the musical, and decided to go with black, silver, gold and pale pink for the colors.

One of my favorite party things ever is a photo booth (clearly very popular right now) and since it was a Masquerade Ball, it was only fitting that everyone get to make their own mask at the party. Mine clearly had to be outstanding, so I made mine a week or so before the party. Ornate and over the top, coming right up! I went on Pinterest to find a few ideas for centerpieces and masks.

The centerpiece for the table I made using a wine bottle, gold spray paint, pink tulle and lots of frilly things. Jd made all of the food for a French theme with beef wellington bites, spinach artichoke dip, and some delicious cupcakes for dessert! He also put together a pitcher full of our favorite drink, the Gin Gin Mule. So tasty… I had great fun arranging all of the champagne glasses with little pink tulle bows on them :)

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For the guest masks, I kept it simple. Just a handful of assorted colored basic masks. To decorate, guests had the option of using metallic sharpies, feathers, sequins, and glitter.

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The photo booth was a huge hit and so simple. We hung a big black table cloth as a backdrop, and added a frame that my friend gave me and I spray painted gold. Add a few feather boas and personalized masks, and you have a photo booth!

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Eden adored her frilly gold dress! She just loved prancing around in it and playing with the skirt.

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And she loved having all of her little friends there to play with. They were just adorable!

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You can’t have a first birthday party without a cupcake smash…

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 And here are a few more pictures from the evening for you to enjoy!

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