You’re Getting Very, Very Sleepy.

January 09, 2017   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY, For the Kids   //  By: Emily   //  one response

Much to my own surprise, I’ve done very little in the way of making my kid’s bedrooms photo-worthy, despite purchasing pretty nice furnishings and pinning inspiration images to my heart’s maternal desire.

Wallpapering the kids’ rooms is still a project on the table, but for now they are white-walled (with some framed art, cool lighting [including vintage treasures], plenty of toys, giant chalkboards). I had the best intentions of making Hattie’s nursery “the homiest” when she arrived home 3 years ago, when we knew whether to buy up stereotypical pink or blue accents. I vied for cushy area rugs and adorable handmade decor, whatever it took to amateurishly mimic a magazine-ready environment in which I could relax and rock and nurse and snuggle and blog happily while she napped. But then life hit, and she screamed a *lot* which was neither relaxing nor creativity-inducing, and my design desires were squashed/muted/forgotten about as I worked my hardest to survive the baby era. To this, I recommend you do all of the baby prep before the baby arrives! There was never even a mobile over her sweet crib! Poor kid, I’m making up for it now with loads of books and all of the Doc McStuffins paraphernalia I can find.

That’s why this little mobile came to be.

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

I always meant to make a mobile for Hattie, and I had a second chance at making the room awesome when Sam arrived. The little man is ~6 months and is having a hell of a time adjusting to this bedtime thing, which is the other reason I made the mobile. We’ve pulled out all the stops including the white noise turtle, extra light jammies, extra warm sleep sack, etc., I won’t bore you with the trials surrounding the nocturnal baby, I’ll just show you this, which is maybe just distracting and colorful and gratifying enough to make him think happy and sleepy thoughts:

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Here’s what I used:

  • Needle + thread
  • Felted wool balls (~$6 for a bag of assorted sizes at our local big box craft shop)
  • Wooden beads (mostly natural wood, but because I’m resourceful I also snagged some painted beads, leftover from when I made a children’s abacus)
  • A long piece of white string (I had an excess of white candle wick rope, which is strong and heavier weight than embroidery thread; that’s an affiliate link but the only one in this post)
  • A 20″ piece of thin wood (what you see there isn’t a dowel, but a piece of oak spline leftover from when we installed our floors)
  • Drill with 1/16″ bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Ceiling hook

Assembly is a pinch: knot the thread, and string a strand of beads and balls over the needle. Assemble each colorful length through holes predrilled 2″ apart through the wooden crosspiece, and attach another felt ball to the top. Knot the string in place, and enjoy it dangling and spinning with the slightest tap.

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Ours hangs a safe distance above the mattress, and the white string that hoists it up to a hook on the ceiling can be shortened as the kid grows and grows.

After the crib is gone, it’ll make for a nice wall decoration. (Side note: Sheets are from Charley Harper for Land of Nodobsessed!)

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Sleepy time. Stay tuned for success rating.

Great Wall of Fire

January 06, 2017   //  Posted in: Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

We finished 2016 off right with the installation of a gas fireplace, and celebrated by blazing our great wall of fire on max heat right into the New Year; considering how much time we actually spend in our living room playing and working from home, I feel pretty foolish for not having had this installed 3 years ago. A functional fireplace is something that we’ve been desiring every winter, but we spent a lot of time overthinking whether or not we would repair the chimney so that it could be wood burning, or make the conversion and go with a gas insert.

I grew up in a home with a wood burning fireplace, and my parents still use it all of the time, but while I’m trying to simplify my life and lessen the chore load, dealing with ashes seems like an unnecessary pain in the ass. Plus, the idea of a live fire near young kids is terrifying, so the cost and benefits of upgrading to the gas insert that could flip on and off with the push of a childproof button was fairly worthwhile for us. I also considered that the wood burning fireplace is a nice option in cool weather, but during cold weather (freezing and sub-zero, a.k.a. December – March) open wood burning fireplaces are less efficient, like an open window letting the warm air out and cold air in. We want to make this little house as efficient as humanly possible, so gas won fair and square, and we can use it every day of the winter without question. It’s here! It’s here!

A new Heat & Glo gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.

After 8 years of owning homes with non-functioning fireplaces, it was pretty amazing to see the installers light our new insert for the first time. I didn’t realize exactly how much warmth and life would be brought to that end of the living room, and how quickly I couldn’t imagine the living room without it.

A few years ago I removed the brass encasement that surrounded the old wood burning fireplace and that made a big difference visually (it’s super easy to do, and if you’re living with an ugly fireplace surround I suggest you relieve yourself of it pronto). I staged the empty cavernous fireplace with some pieces of cut white birch sourced from our own yard, and left it as-is in a pile on the iron grate to collect dust for a few more years. It was fine enough but paled in comparison to the movement and warmth of the flames within the gas insert.

Goodbye, gold fireplace covering.

There were lots of different models and finishes at Fireplace Fashions, the fireplace store we were referred to in Rochester, NY. We went into the purchasing process not having done any research or planning on the options available, knowing only that we wanted a few things – matte gray or black, and as with a face as clean-lined as possible.

The discovery process presented lots of options that were clean-lined for sure, designs that were considered modern and contemporary but were still not the right fit for our home (read: rainbow LEDs and flames shooting from a nest of crushed glass). We landed happily upon a product by Heat & Glo that included logs and embers that looked incredibly authentic compared to most of the options we perused in the showroom (if you’re shopping, I’m talking about the Escape Gas Firebrick Insert). Had I taken a moment to do more research, I’d have seen that there was a $100 coupon available on the manufacturer’s website; be aware, people!

A new gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.

The heat put off by the fireplace is simply awesome, whether or not the fan is on. We reworked our heating zones a few years ago and actually now find that we can keep the thermostats much cooler, and instead enjoy the warmth of the fireplace throughout the adjacent living and dining rooms.

A work from home setup with a warm gas fireplace.

If you’re shopping around, check back soon. I’m preparing a guide for DIY Network on how to shop for and select a gas fireplace, so I’ll be sure to link to it here when it’s live.

A new Heat & Glo gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.

Things I’m Gifting, and My Picks While Online Shopping

November 27, 2016   //  Posted in: Holiday-Related Projects, Supporting Sponsors   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

Not to brag, but I’m about 72% done with my holiday shopping and feeling pretty good about it. We bailed on the brick and mortar Black Friday shenanigans this year in favor of online browsing, and some of the deals have been just too good to pass up. Less time standing in store lines = more time to scour the ‘hood with the kids on a mission to find the most realistic Santa.

Anyways, the online shopping stuff. In addition to ordering our custom holiday cards, we’ve hand selected a few special things for our people this year, and I thought you might enjoy seeing a round-up of some of them (and other things I really liked too). Minted sponsored this post and allowed me to incorporate affiliate links, but the items I’m choosing to feature are my own, and many of which are things I actually bought. Happy shopping!

On the low end, $:

Stationary customized for a tween who loves science from Minted.

  • Custom clothing and name labels are great too – and I love gifts with purpose: These things stick to anything (jackets, backpacks, water bottles, foreheads). They withstand the washing machine, dishwasher, and are nice to have when you have items stored at daycare or camp. Minted has a LOT of design options for kids of all ages. The rainbow design I selected for our daughter, below, is by artist Shirley Lin Schneider.

Sticker labels for jackets, backpacks, water bottles, and all other school and daycare items. Label design from Minted.

In the middle, $$:

Man, I really love prints from Minted. At Minted you can find items in a broad range of cost and style. The size of your print is the main factor dictating the range in cost. The variety of independent artists featured means something suitable for everyone, but since it’s the holiday season and you’re probably searching for something just a little more personalized, I’m going to suggest you browse the section of the site dedicated to completely customized artwork.

From letterpress location maps created in a range of colors, to custom silhouettes created from your own photographs you can create your own art for Dad, Grandma, etc. You can buy the prints, or order it with a frame. My pick below? It’s a custom print from Sam’s 1-week photoshoot applied to the Circle Dots Art Print.

A customized photo from Minted.

Worth the splurge, $$$:

  • I might admit, with a bit of patience I could probably make something sort of like The Little Artist Shelf™, but for the cost and quality buying it would be a nice indulgence.
  • The Artful Shelf™ made of copper is really beautiful too, artistic in its own right. It’s something I definitely wouldn’t be able to construct myself, and I like that it (like all shelves) can be ordered in a variety of lengths.
  • Don’t tell the kids, but this teepee is going to be a gift to all three of them on Christmas morning. I had 30 minutes free earlier this week and assembled it lickity-split just to show you what it looked like. Kind of bummed that I had to take it down immediately before they got home from running errands, and looking forward to setting it back up for Christmas morning. They’re going to dig it, and I bet your kids will too. It’s SO TALL compared to a lot of the other play teepees I’ve seen sold (well over my own head), and while I picked one of the designs where the fabric options were pre-selected, you can also choose your own fabric options.

A tall kid's teepee from Minted as a Christmas surprise for our kids.