Newborn Essentials

We hit the three month mark just a couple weeks ago and I was able to reflect on what some call the “fourth trimester" or the first twelve weeks of my baby’s life. At my baby shower back in December I was kindly gifted some amazing and beautiful items for my sweet boy, but a lot of it I simply didn’t use. I had a hard time planning my registry and there wasn’t much on it, so I left my guests on their own to come up with what to gift me. I think if I’d had a clearer idea on what I needed, I could have guided my guests a little better as to what to gift me. So hopefully I can help guide you soon to be moms and already moms out there as to what items have made having a newborn so much easier.

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haakaa

haakaa

HAAKA
This is a breast pump (-ish) made entirely of silicone that suctions to your breast and catches any let down or breast milk. I love this thing because I decided early on that I didn't want to be married to a breast pump and I am able use this at my leisure to store any breast milk that myself or my husband may want to use at a later date. It’s super easy to use and clean, it doesn’t hurt and I usually can fill the entire thing during one feeding. I haven’t used an actual breast pump at all and my son is three months old. I’ve exclusively breastfed him and used the Haakaa to create a back-stock of breast milk.

GERBER PREFOLDS
I put some super cute, printed burp cloths on my registry that I just loved. Weeks before my sweet one arrived I had them folded and stacked in an accessible place, one that I quickly stopped reaching for when I discovered that they were made more for fashion than function. Back to Amazon I went to scour the reviews of burp cloths when I came upon the Gerber Prefolds, which are actually just old school cloth diapers. I ordered a pack and haven’t looked back, in fact, I’ve ordered several more since. They are so absorbent and my son is quite a spitter (some may even view it as vomiting.) With the cute, printed burp cloths his spit up would just slide right off and down my back or my front, never to be absorbed by the burp cloth. With the Gerber prefolds, they absorb right away so spillage is more minimal. I also notice that I can use them for extended periods of time as the continue to hold and absorb. The only drawback is that if you throw them into the laundry and bury them, they can mold, but this is a natural occurrence obviously and I’ve become more mindful of that to avoid throwing any away.

Copper pearl bibs

Copper pearl bibs

BIBS
I was under the impression that bibs were something your baby needs when they start teething or when they start eating solids. I did not anticipate how much my son would spit up and needless to say bibs were not on my registry so I scrambled to purchase some after changing my son’s clothes for the umpteenth time that day. I settled on a set by Parker Baby Co. which I’ve been very pleased with. Since then I also discovered Copper Pearl and they have some of the cutest prints, especially for little girls. What I love about the types of bandana bibs that these two companies sell is that the top layer absorbs any moisture (and a lot of moisture at that,) while the bottom layer protects and keeps baby’s skin and clothes dry. This means I’m not constantly changing clothes all day and he isn’t developing any scary rash around his neck and chin.

Lou Lou & co swaddle blanket

Lou Lou & co swaddle blanket

LOU LOU & COMPANY NO SCRATCH MITTENS
I swear by these, especially in those early weeks when your baby’s fingers are so small and sweet. The last thing you want to do is to take nail clippers to them. I love that Lou Lou & Company make swaddles and outfits that match their mittens because with as many photos as you’ll be taking of your sweet one you won’t want a pair of gaudy mittens sticking out. These mittens are super stretchy and soft so your baby’s hands won’t feel confined and they won’t be hard to get on and off. They also stay on, which is an issue I had with mittens from another brand. The only time I wouldn’t recommend for your baby to wear these is during moments of breastfeeding. You’ll want as much skin on skin contact as possible with your baby during those precious moments.

LOU LOU & COMPANY SWADDLE BLANKET
As I mentioned above, Lou Lou & Company also make swaddles and let me tell you, they are the best! We are talking super stretchy, manipulative, soft fabric that makes it so easy to swaddle your baby. We were gifted a few “easy” swaddlers and I don’t know if my baby is a Houdini or if he just super strong, but he broke out of them in no time. I could see why some say their babies don’t enjoy being swaddled. I would have thought so myself if I hadn’t discovered the Lou Lou & Company swaddles. What I love even more about them is that they also serve as amazing cover ups for nursing or for newborn car seats with handles. I use them as blankets for breezy days in the stroller and because of their large size I can also just lay them flat anywhere for a quick changing or tummy time. They’re so versatile!

MAM PACIFIERS
There’s not much to say about these except that above any other pacifier we have tried, these ones work for my son. The ingredients are safe, they’re made for breastfed babies and they simply work.

Tulamama Pacifier Clip

Tulamama Pacifier Clip

TULAMAMA PACIFIER CLIP
I kept seeing these super cute and trendy pacifier clips on instagram and I was very attracted to the style of them, so when I came across the Tulamama Pacifier Clip, it caught my eye because it looked just like the ones I’d been seeing. It’s made with silicone beads that your little one can chew on when they’re teething and this thing comes in clutch when we are baby wearing because I never have to worry about losing my pacifier.

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB

SHNUGGLE BABY BATH TUB
We were kindly gifted a fisher price tub that worked really well in the beginning days when we were just sponge bathing our little guy, but he quickly grew out of it and we noticed he stopped enjoying bath time as much, so I did some research and came upon the Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub. What is cool about this tub is that your little one can actually sit up in it against the non slip back support, so their body is submerged in the water and they don’t get cold. A hump in the bottom keeps your baby’s rear end in place as well. My son can now enjoy bath time while being supported and submerged in the water at the same time. In my opinion, this product is also safer than other tubs on the market.

BABYBJORN BOUNCER BALANCE

BABYBJORN BOUNCER BALANCE

BABYBJORN BOUNCER
I discovered the Babybjorn Bouncer when I was facing a major dilemma a few weeks after my son was born. My husband was going back to work and I was to become more independent with my baby. This included going downstairs and making myself some breakfast in the morning, taking trips by myself to the doctor’s office, and even the simple task of just taking a shower. For a while I tried to just get everything done during his naps, but I realized eventually that wasn’t realistic. Where was I supposed to put my baby when I was doing these things? I just want to run downstairs to make coffee, but I can’t do it with one hand and I don’t want to leave him upstairs by himself. This is where the bouncer steps in. Alas, I can put my baby down somewhere!

HAPPIEST BABY’S SNOO

HAPPIEST BABY’S SNOO

This super simple bouncer does exactly that - it bounces. It’s a soft and gentle bouncing that is only induced by the baby’s movements and I love that because it seems more natural and soothing to me than those battery powered or electric baby devices with sounds and flashing lights. What I also love about this bouncer is the color selection it comes in. I ordered one in a beige color and it matches my home and my aesthetic perfectly.

SNOO
Okay, this is the priciest item on this list and with good reason. Someone said if Apple made a bassinet, it would be the Snoo and I have to agree. I have a full video review on this device that you can watch here and I also wrote a whole blog post about it that you can read here, but in a nutshell I would trade every device and item on this list for just the Snoo. It is a bassinet that provides a gentle swaying motion along with white noise that responds to your baby’s cry. We have received way more sleep than I think we even deserve with a newborn because of the Snoo’s safety features as well as its ability to keep my baby asleep for lengthy periods of time. Do yourself a favor and buy the Snoo if you are expecting. You absolutely won’t regret it.



I just want to mention that no matter what items and devices you do or don’t buy for your baby, all your baby really needs is you. If you are able to afford the luxury and convenience of some of these items then that’s wonderful, but at the end of the day what your baby really needs is your tender love and care. Good luck!

DIY Budget Bathroom Makeover with Beyond Paint

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I have been itching to makeover my master bathroom for quite some time and while I would have loved to have ripped out everything and do a total renovation, it’s just not a smart financial move for our family right now. I imagine I am not the only person who has been in this position, which is why I have been really excited to complete this project and share it with you all so that you could see what a little paint and a little budget could do to transform a space.

First I want to show you what my bathroom looked like before. I didn’t even bother picking up before I photographed it because I wanted you guys to experience the room exactly as it was.

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

BEFORE

Pretty sad, huh? Nothing about this bathroom was aesthetically pleasing. I think the spaces we spend our time in daily have a huge impression on our mood and this bathroom was doing absolutely nothing for mine.

I was really pleased when Beyond Paint reached out to me to partner up on this project because I’ve worked with paints before that don't require sanding, stripping or priming and I’d heard good things about Beyond Paint already. I was pleased to discover there are a lot of benefits to using Beyond Paint.

  1. Beyond Paint bonds to almost any surface including wood, wood that’s been painted, laminate, tile, glass, metal, plastic, masonry, and linoleum.

  2. It has a low VOC, almost no odor and it was safe to paint in the house with my child and dog, Darla.

  3. Prep is minimal. Like I said, there’s not sanding, stripping or priming. For my floors I swept really well, cleaned them with Simple Green to remove any residue and I was able to begin painting.

  4. It requires no mixing! This, surprisingly, was one of my favorite features of Beyond Paint. With a 3 month old I was able to walk away from my project and pick it back up in a matter of seconds.

  5. The consistency is very thick, almost pudding like, but it spreads so easily! The coverage with just one coat is amazing! 1 gallon covers 200 square feet.

  6. Beyond Paint comes in an array of beautiful colors and is UV resistant so you don’t have to worry about it fading in the sun. This is a huge plus for me as I was stenciling the floor with black paint and I have a window in the bathroom that shines consitently on the floor. I don’t have to worry about the black fading in that spot.

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Look at the coverage I got with just one coat! Three coats later I was truly satisfied. Beyond Paint’s white is the perfect white - not too stark, not too warm or too cool. In fact, it matched my baseboards perfectly so I just used it to touch those up while I was at it. I stenciled the floor using this stencil and Beyond Paint’s Licorice. Afterward I sealed it with two coats of Beyond Paint’s Multipurpose Sealer to protect it from water.

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I’m obsessed! Not only was I able to do this project myself, but I also saved a ton of money. Since I was painting the floors I took the opportunity to redecorate the entire bathroom. I ordered a jute rug from Rugs USA and I love the contrast between the warm tones in the rug and the black and white floor. I removed the giant builder’s grade mirror over the vanity and replaced it with some mirrors from Target that have shelves on them and I don’t know about you, but I love anything functional and fashionable at the same time. Some shelves from Hobby Lobby matched the mirrors pretty well and provided some extra storage and the lights are the same old lights, just spray painted black. A basket below the shelves adds storage for towels as well as a bohemian feel.

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I removed the nasty old shower doors and finally bought the shower curtain I’d been pining over for years from Anthropologie. I added a cute little bench next to the shower from Ikea along with some hooks for towels above it. The hardest area to decorate was my jacuzzi tub area , but I finally set on some hanging plants and I couldn’t be more pleased. If you’re into that look and want to make your own I have some plant hanger tutorials here and here.

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It’s amazing what a little paint and some plants can do to a room. My next project will be painting the vanity and adding some hardware to it. What do you guys think? What color would you choose? Check out Beyond Paint’s paint selection and leave me a comment, let me know.

For a full video tour, check out my bathroom tour on youtube below.

DIY Mudroom Bench

Every now and then I take a look around my house and find an eyesore. This one in particular was located at my daily entrance and exit, my mudroom. Admittedly, this has been bothering me for far too long. A picture fell down in there like 6 months ago and had been just propped up on its side against a wall. There were tons of shoes including boots we only wear in the dead of winter (it’s May, people!) and the bench that I had in there was just too small for the space (I actually moved it to our foyer and it looks so much better in an open space where it can be appreciated for the antique beauty that it is.)

I trekked out to IKEA to see if they had any good mudroom solutions, but came up empty handed. My husband and I decided I could totally make something custom to fit the space for way less than I would spend on something at IKEA anyway. So I went home and sketched something up and decided I would go to Home Depot that following morning while he stayed home with our son.

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I picked up a pair of 2x4’s (actually, I totally only got one and had to make a second trip back to purchase a second one, which is not easy to do with a 2 month old,) and two 1x8x8 boards. I cut the 1x8’s down to 86 inches a piece, which is close to the length of the mudroom. With the 2x4’s I created three rectangles for support. The rectangles were created using two 8 inch pieces and two 16 inch pieces. I arranged the rectangles equal distance apart and attached them to the 1x8’s. After everything was sanded down and smooth, I stained the bench with “special walnut” and sealed it with a satin polycrilic finish.

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Materials needed:

  1. Two 2x4’s

  2. Two 1x8x8 common boards

  3. 2 1/2 inch wood screws

  4. 2 inch wood screws

  5. Miter Saw

  6. Hand Sander / sanding block

  7. Wood stain

  8. Polycrilic finish

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For more detail and a visual representation of this project, check out my project vlog below where I take you along for the creation and execution of this fun and easy project,.

2 Months with the Snoo

When I first heard about Happiest Baby’s Snoo I thought to myself “there is no way a bassinet is worth that much money!” $1,295.00 to be exact. But I’m here to tell you that it honestly is. In this post I’m going to share with you all of the reasons why and also how you can get it much cheaper.

If you’re anything like me, good sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. I simply do not function well on low amounts of sleep. I’m pretty sure I’ve been like this my whole life. Sleeping in past noon was my M.O. as a teenager and my mother claims I slept through the night on my first day home from the hospital after I was born. And while I prayed to the heavens that my baby would be just like me and be a good sleeper from the start, I knew there were no guarantees of this. There is no way to predict what kind of sleeper your baby will be and in my opinion it is better to be prepared for any type of sleeper starting the day you come home from the hospital rather than wait to find out and struggle. That’s why I ordered my Snoo ahead of time and had it set up, ready to go before my baby’s due date.

In the months leading up to my due date, I seriously debated buying the Snoo. Not just because of the steep price, but also because I wasn’t sure it was the most practical baby item. I wondered if my baby would become addicted to the white noise or the swivel motion it provides and when we transition into the crib if I would be in big trouble trying to get my baby to learn how to sleep without these things. I also worried that since it was an item that is only to be used for the first six months that I didn’t really need it. I thought to myself, “people have been having babies for years and have made it through the first six months without the Snoo, so can I.” But as the days drew closer to my little one’s arrival and more people kept commenting on how hard it is to get a newborn to sleep, I finally decided to pull the trigger. And I’m so glad I did. Let me share with you why.

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It is safe

The walls of the bassinet and the sleep sack the baby sleeps in are both made with a mesh material, which allows air to flow through freely and prevent the baby from overheating. The biggest safety feature is that the sleep sack which swaddles the baby is attached to the bassinet itself, so your baby cannot roll over while in the Snoo. That is the main reason why I sleep soundly while my baby is in the Snoo. I know without a doubt, he’s safe and cannot hurt himself.

It is not my intention to defame Fisher Price’s Rock ‘n Play, but it was recently recalled due to several reports of infant deaths related to its use. I think in a desperate attempt to get some sleep, a lot of parents turn to devices similar to the Rock ‘n Play, which soothes the baby by rocking and swaying. The Rock ‘n Play also had a reputation for some time of being a sleep solution for a baby suffering from acid reflux. I can’t tell you how many of my friends and acquaintances recommended the Rock ‘n Play before my little one’s arrival. Obviously I did my research, and we own no such device.

My Baby Falls Asleep and stays asleep

My little guy only falls asleep easily in a few places: my arms, the car, in our Solly Baby wrap, and in the Snoo. And the amazing part about all of these places, especially the Snoo, is that he does it easily even if he’s wide awake. But if I set him down in his baby Bjorn bouncer, or swaddle him and lay him down outside of the Snoo, it isn’t happening easily. And even if he does fall asleep, he doesn’t stay asleep for very long. I attribute this to the white noise and gentle motion the Snoo provides. Not only that, but the Snoo responds to my baby’s cries, so if he fusses at all in the night, the Snoo sways him back to sleep. It has several levels of white noise and swivel motion it goes through to respond to your baby so that you don’t have to be up all night rocking and swaying, praying your little one will fall back asleep so you too can get some rest.

The App

What I love about the app that accompanies the Snoo is that it records when my baby is in the Snoo, how long he’s in there and how often the Snoo had to soothe him. It also takes averages to show you how much sleep you’re getting on a nightly basis. My husband can also view the app and there’s no issues with having it loaded onto two different devices. Additionally, from the app I have control over the levels of soothing the Snoo provides. If my little one is having trouble falling asleep I can manually turn it up to level 3 where the white noise is a little louder and the movement is a little faster, pop a pacifier in his mouth, and that usually does the trick.

I think the app is amazing, so don’t be turned off by the reviews online that say there are some issues with it. Maybe there were when the Snoo first came out, but they are long gone. We have never had an issue with the app, for the record.

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How to Get the Snoo Cheaper

Here’s a little secret - the Snoo goes on sale. And often. If you see it listed full price, check back in a week or two. We bought ours at the end of 2018 during what I can only chalk up to be a year end sale. I kind of thought maybe they were coming out with a new edition in 2019 and that was why it was so cheap, but that was not the case as the same Snoo is being sold currently. Although, I have heard rumors that they are updating it and adding some new features soon!

We caught the Snoo on sale at 40% off. We added an extra sheet to our order since well, spit up, and our total came to just over $800 with shipping included. Truly a steal for how amazing this thing is! If you don’t have time to wait for a sale, I promise you that you won’t have any regrets paying full price when you’re getting as much sleep as I have been, but if you have time to wait, you should.


The Snoo is hands down the most valuable and useful baby item I own. I cannot imagine our nights and naps without it. Do yourself a favor, skip the fancy stroller or cloth diaper to save your pennies (You should do that anyway, read my blog post about it here.) and buy yourself the Snoo.

This post is not sponsored and contains my honest heartfelt opinions.

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

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Cloth diapering comes off as a daunting practice to those who have never done it before. As a first time Mom, I had no idea what I was getting into when it came to all things baby, but I knew I wanted to cloth diaper no matter how much of a chore it would be. What I didn't know is that it’s not really a chore at all! Not only is it an easy task to keep up with, but it’s eco-friendly, a huge money saver, and it’s the healthiest option for my baby.

I purchased four different brands of diapers before my son arrived. Mama Koala, Nora’s Nursery, Alva Baby, and Lil Helpers. All are pocket diapers with the exception of Lil’ Helpers, which is an all in one. I followed all of the instructions on pre-washing my diapers, dried them, folded them, and put their cute little selves on display in my nursery.

There’s several types of cloth diapers on the market. My advice is to buy a few of each kind before you invest in a bunch of one specific brand or type. Personally, I love my Alva Baby’s during the day because the shells are stretchier and thinner, so they don’t appear bulky under clothes. At night time I’m partial to Lil Helpers all in one with the charcoal inserts. Those bad boys can last all night through several feedings without a leak. I have a friend who loves Nora’s Nursery, while I think the snaps on them are hard to button. And Mama Koala’s have the absolute cutest prints! My point is, every diaper is different and every baby is different, so try a few brands before you stock up entirely.

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The first few weeks home from the hospital we were pushed into using disposables. I wasn’t happy about this, but every time I used a cloth diaper it would irritate my son’s healing belly button. With the disposables I was able to fold the front down and prevent the diaper from rubbing it. But that certainly came with a price. Several naps were interrupted with a soaked back caused by a leaky diaper and my son’s poor butt was getting raw off and on from diaper rashes. On top of the physical issues, I realized how much money I spent in those two weeks on disposable diapers - $45.00 to be exact. That money would have easily afforded 6 cloth diapers that I could reuse for years. Once his belly button healed, I happily transitioned over to the cloth diapers.

Something I was not aware of concerning baby poop was that while exclusively breast feeding, there’s no need to worry about removing the poop from the diaper before I wash it. I was worried about the amount of poop going into my washer and wondered if I’d be able to get it out of the cloth diapers. Breastfed baby poop is runny and doesn’t have a lot of solid matter to it. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be removed before washing the cloth diapers in the washing machine. But the day we introduce solids will be a game changer and when it arrives I will be ready with my handy dandy toilet sprayer. My husband installed this thing in a matter of minutes and it’s pretty amazing. Not only does it have incredible pressure, but it conveniently attaches to the side of our toilet so that I can just spray the poop into the toilet and flush it. I’d say this is a cloth diaper essential, but not a necessity until around 6 months when your baby starts eating solid food.

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I have about 24 diapers and I wash my diapers once every two days, which works for me since I am a stay at home. I go through almost all 24 diapers in those two days, so if you plan to only be able to do laundry once every 3 days, I would purchase at least 36 cloth diapers to have in your stash. I wouldn't let your diapers sit longer than three days before washing them as all sorts of fun smells and stains could start to develop. We keep a diaper pail in our nursery to store our dirty cloth diapers and once it’s full, I take the washable liner out, carry it to the laundry room and pull each diaper out of the bag individually, making sure to separate the pocket inserts from the diaper shells. I wash everything including the washable liner with warm water and an extra rinse. I was using a detergent I found on amazon, Rockin’ Green, but then I discovered the Detergent Index at Fluff Love University and switched to plain old Tide.

If your cloth diaper inserts begin to develop stains, which they definitely can, letting them sit in the sun for a few minutes takes the stains right out. It’s pretty amazing! The only condition is they must be wet in order for this to work, so when you take them out of the washer, instead of drying them, stick them outside in the hot sun and watch with amazement as the stains literally disappear.

 
 

I was sure this whole cloth diapering thing was going to be so much harder than it is, but I was completely wrong. I find it to be rewarding knowing I’m not throwing anything extra into landfills or exposing my son to cancer causing ingredients. If it’s something you’re interested in, don’t over think it - just go for it. And know that your baby’s bum is going to be much happier for it.

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How My Birth Induction Led to an Emergency C-Section

40 weeks pregnant

40 weeks pregnant

Ever since my husband and I decided we wanted to have children together, I dreamt of a beautiful natural unmedicated birth. One with low lighting where I was playing soft, soothing music in the background, holding my husband’s hands and peacefully bringing our child into the world, one contraction at a time. All throughout my pregnancy I held on to that dream… hard. I did everything I could to naturally invite a spontaneous labor, but at 41 weeks I was induced. Twenty four hours later, I had an emergency c-section and finally met my sweet baby boy. I’m writing this in hopes to share with you why in spite of my hopes for a vaginal unmedicated birth, I’m not disappointed in how my labor and birth occurred and why it evolved into an emergency c-section.

When my husband and I learned we were pregnant I immediately sought out a doula. I knew that if I was going to have an unmedicated birth, it would help to have someone present with the knowledge and experience of birthing who could guide me through one of the hardest things I was ever going to endure. I met with my amazing doula, Aimee Roberts very early on in my pregnancy. Aimee has five children and has experienced several types of births including one that ended in a cesarean, one that included the use of an epidural, and of course an unmedicated birth. At the end of our first meeting she kindly offered that if I wanted to meet with and interview other local doulas that she could refer me to a few and to take my time in getting back to her. I told her right then and there that it wouldn’t be necessary. I knew I wanted her to be at my birth.

Aimee and her business partner, Christi Jones, lead a six week birthing class here in Virginia Beach that my husband and I decided to attend. I highly recommend a class of this nature to anyone who is expecting and if you’re not local to Virginia Beach, Aimee and Christi offer their class online through their site Birthinsightva.com. During the six weeks we learned how the body changes during pregnancy, how labor comes on, how to recognize it, and what to do when it happens. We also learned what is happening with your body during labor, different body positions to progress labor and the variables that can affect your labor and birth outcome. Most importantly we were educated on the different interventions that are commonly used during birth and why they are necessary. This was the most vital part of the class to me because nearly every intervention we learned about was used during my birth and had I not had any knowledge of these I would have been absolutely terrified to use them.

The weeks leading up to my due date I was diligent about bringing on a spontaneous labor. I had a feeling my sweet boy was going to come when he was good and ready, but I was still willing to try anything that was suggested to me in order to have him on time. I drank several cups of raspberry leaf tea every day, went on hour long walks, bounced on an exercise ball and even inserted evening primrose oil vaginally every night in an attempt to soften my cervix. Every now and then I would feel a tightening in my belly, but it was just Braxton-Hicks contractions, never the real thing. When I met with my Obgyn at 40 weeks and 3 days, she suggested an ultrasound to see how big the baby was. It measured baby boy to be 8 pounds and 12 ounces, which was quite large and meant that he would only be larger the longer I was pregnant. My doctor scheduled me to be induced that following Monday.

Our last photo together before the baby was to arrive

Our last photo together before the baby was to arrive

I spent the weekend praying for that spontaneous labor, but it never came. Instead, a cold came on pretty hard. We are talking stuffy nose, chills, headache, and a complete lack of energy. I called the hospital I was to deliver at the night before my induction to see if I could delay it by one day because I could not imagine giving birth while already feeling so awful. They instructed me to come in on time and have a non-stress test done on the baby. If it went well, they would send me home to rest and have me come back the following day. We followed instructions and luckily, the baby was reading healthy on the test and I was able to rest and recover all that Monday.

Tuesday morning at 8:00 am my husband and I checked in at the hospital for the induction. To say I was terrified would be an absolute understatement. I was so nervous I could barely eat breakfast that morning, although I wish I had because little did I know I wouldn’t be eating solid food again for more than 48 hours. We had a wonderful nurse who kindly comforted me through the beginnings of my induction. She was gentle putting in my IV and encouraged me to get plenty of rest throughout the day as she predicted the induction would be a lengthy process and I would want to save my energy.

The first step to my induction was a cervix softener. My doctor prescribed Misoprostil, which is a pill that is inserted vaginally and dissolves right up against the cervix. My doctor had previously warned me that we may have to repeat this process twice more if my cervix wasn’t softening, but luckily when I was checked 5 hours later, I had effaced a bit - from 30% to 80% and I was put on Pitocin at that time. The Pitocin dosage started out very low and I didn’t feel any of my contractions for quite some time. I tried to nap throughout the day, but it was nearly impossible as I was waiting for something to happen, to feel something, anything.

Slowly throughout the day as my contractions were being monitored, my nurse was raising my dose. By about 7:00 pm I was starting to feel my contractions and I decided to get out of bed and get on an exercise ball. I spoke with my doula over the phone and she agreed this was a great idea, that I should start laboring there to encourage the baby to move down into my pelvis, and to call her if things progressed. Within the next few hours, things progressed pretty slowly, the contractions steadily getting stronger and I was starting to moan and groan very low through them.

By about 10:30 pm, the contractions were coming in heavy sets with very little rest between, maybe 30 seconds. I was still laboring on the ball, but it wasn’t providing much comfort at this point. I couldn’t talk well and could barely catch my breath, and my nurse asked me several times if I was considering an epidural as things would not be improving for me at this point. I had my husband call my doula to see what her thoughts were. Because I was group beta strep positive, my nurses were advised not to check my dilation very often so I had no idea how much I had progressed at this point. But my doula agreed, an epidural would be wise.

Waiting for the epidural was one of the worst parts of my labor. I got back into bed and rode the waves of pain, which was all I could do. An epidural was not something I wanted, but I also could not continue to labor at this rate for hours upon hours. As soon as I received the epidural, I felt a ton of relief. Coincidentally my nurse checked my cervix a few minutes after and I had made it 8 cm. That made me feel accomplished.

My doctor called to speak with me at some point throughout the night to let me know she would definitely be present to deliver my baby but that the baby probably would not come before 7 am based on how I was progressing. At about 4:30 am my doctor arrived and decided to break my water. This was also the time I decided we should call my doula and let her know things would be progressing and it would be a good time for her to come. I was scared that breaking my water would hurt quite a bit as she explained to me that the process involved using a long hook, but it was actually the least painful thing of all. About 30 minutes later I got the incredible urge to push and I let my nurse know. She told me that it was probably just a bowel movement, but something told me different. The urge grew with each contraction to a point that I had no actual choice but to push, it was simply a natural impulse. A few minutes later my doctor appeared and checked my cervix. I was at 10 cm and was given the go ahead to push.

Right on cue, my doula, Aimee, appeared and immediately I was relieved to have her there. My husband held one leg while she held the other, and with each push she encouraged me in a way that no doctor or nurse could. Not even my husband. Her words were so motivating, yet so soft and comforting. She gently reminded me I was going to meet my baby, to push to meet my baby. It was exactly what I needed to hear at such a crucial time.

For the next two hours I continued to push. With each push I waited to hear things like “I can see his head!” or “You’re almost there!” But no one was saying anything of the sort and I was getting a little worried. I noticed my doctor and nurse were exchanging glances. My doctor had checked me to make sure I was using the right amount of pressure and pushing in the right place, and I was reassured that I was, but things were not progressing. I pushed a few more times, but my doctor said my baby’s head was coning and that she was worried about shoulder dystocia, which is what happens when the head makes it through, but one or both of the shoulders are stuck behind the pelvic bone. It was her recommendation that at this time we perform a c-section. I turned to Aimee to request her opinion and she agreed.

The next thirty or so minutes were the hardest times of my birth. I still had the incredible, if not more intense than ever, urge to push except this time I was told not to and that has got to be one of the hardest things for any human to do. Aimee held my hand while we waited for surgery and reminded me that I was going to be okay, to breathe through each contraction, and that I would meet my baby soon.

After I was wheeled into the operating room I was administered a spinal block and that’s when time sped up. I was told that if I felt like I was going to pass out or if I had any tingling in my hands to speak up. I think either being told these things when you’re already nervous about being cut open makes you imagine that you are actually feeling them, or I was actually feeling them! I mentioned this to the anesthesiologist and she checked my vitals and let me know that I was fine, to just breathe. I felt the pressure of each layer being cut open, but I didn't feel any pain. Lots of tugging, lots of pressure, but no actual pain. I was still having contractions and my baby’s head was pretty far down in my pelvis at this point, so they had a little trouble getting him out, but before I knew it they lowered the curtain in front of me and held up my sweet baby boy. My husband was in tears immediately, but I was just in shock. In shock that he was here, in shock that it had been such a long journey of a night to finally meet him, and also completely shocked that he looked just like me!

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They immediately took him away to clean him up since he had swallowed a bit of maconium, which is a baby’s first bowel movement. He was a healthy baby boy who peed everywhere when they were weighing him, so he probably would have been a full 9 pounds, but because of that he weighed in at 8 pounds and 15 ounces. After he was clean and wrapped up, they put him on my chest for skin to skin and it was the most profound moment of my life.

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It was not the labor I dreamt of and it was not the birth I imagined, but it brought my sweet boy into this world safely. I cannot imagine what would have happened had I been delivering in a third world country, or at a time before modern medicine existed. I feel so grateful to have had the tools and interventions used at my birth available. Without them I’m not sure that both myself and my sweet boy would be here today.

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DIY Tassel Macrame Chandelier

I recently had my first child and of course I prepared a nursery for him. You can check out my blog post about that here. Whenever I’m decorating (or often redecorating) a room I usually scan Pinterest for ideas. A lot of my nursery decor was inspired by regular bedroom set ups. I wanted my nursery to flow with the rest of my house and not necessarily look like a baby’s room. When it came to picking a pendant light, because there wasn’t one in this room previously, I was inspired by one I saw on the Anthropologie website, here. The price tag for this thing was hefty and while I was willing to splurge on certain items, a light was not one of them. So I decided to try my hand at making one and it worked out!

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Below are the steps I took to achieve this, but if you’d like a more in depth view of the process, please check out my youtube tutorial below.

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Minimal & Boho Nursery

At 39 weeks pregnant, and what some would say is the very last minute, I finally finished my nursery. Of course, I could totally spend more time and money perfecting and adding things, but I know I should be content with what I have so far, especially since I am a first time Mom and simply have no idea what’s to come. I’m sure once our sweet boy is here we will be changing things up, but for now we are really happy and content with this simple space for our little one.

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All of the macrame items were handmade by yours truly. Tutorials for some of these items are available.

Macrame/Tassel Chandelier video tutorial available here.
DIY Rainbow Rope available here and a video tutorial here.

 

Shop This Room

DIY Rope Rainbow

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The seventies have really snuck up on us with this rainbow trend I’ve been seeing all over the internet, Pinterest, and even at Target. I don’t know about you, but I love it. Especially for my little boy’s nursery I’ve been busy working on. I saw some cute fiber rainbows for sale on Etsy, but I decided I had time to make one for myself, so I’d like to share my process with you all.


— M A T E R I A L S —

  1. A minimum of 6mm Macrame cording/rope

  2. Some type of wire. I used copper 2 mm wire because it was nice and sturdy, but still easy to work with

  3. Yarn in various colors. I purchased 5 small spools from Michael’s in various colors

  4. Scissors

  5. (Optional) Comb to brush your fringe


— S T E P S —

  1. Cut your cord to an appropriate length to shape the largest part of your rainbow

  2. Wrap a length of wire around your cord leaving out a few inches on either end for the fringe

  3. Wrap your first length of yarn around your rope, covering the wire completely and leaving a few inches out on either end.

  4. Shape your rope into an arch or rainbow shape.

  5. Repeat steps 1-3 four times, fitting each length of rope inside the last one.

  6. Sew all 5 length of rope together.

  7. Tie an overhand knot on each end.

  8. Trim your ends to ensure they’re nice and even.

  9. Brush out your fringe.

  10. Hang it somewhere pretty!


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For a full, in depth video tutorial on this project, check out mine below.

Best of Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s isn’t my number one grocery store, in fact I don’t even visit every week on my normal grocery shopping routine. There’s a few reasons for that, proximity being the biggest one and Trader Joe’s being a little as I call “snackie” being the other. But when I do visit ole’ Joe’s I get to pick up some of my favorite “must have” items. I usually make a trip when I run out of these things at home and it’s always a satisfying trip because while Trader Joe’s isn’t perfect, there’s quite a list of things they do REALLY well.

And here it is.

Flowers

Admittedly, this is my favorite purchase and it’s not even food! Here’s the deal: the flower’s at Trader Joe’s are seasonal and they’re cheap. They always have peonies in the spring and eucalyptus in the fall - two of my favorites. I usually make a stop at Whole Foods on my way home from Trader Joe’s and I will see the SAME exact flowers often for double or even triple the price of Trader Joe’s.

I typically won’t buy a premade bouquet, but instead I buy individual bundles of flowers and greenery so I can go home pretend I know what I’m doing with floral arranging. It makes the process more creative and exciting in my opinion. You guys, I even made my wedding bouquet from Trader Joe’s flowers! That’s how beautiful and reasonable they are.

 
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Mandarin Orange Chicken

This isn’t an item you’ll want to whip up daily or even weekly, because it isn’t exactly the healthiest, but man it’s good! And I’d definitely say it’s a healthier choice than Chinese takeout. My favorite thing to do with these little morsels is toss them with some cilantro and serve them over cauliflower rice (which Trader Joe’s sells as well!)

Salsa

If you’re only a fan of thick and chunky salsa, skip this one because it simply is not for you. However, if you, like me, enjoy a smoother restaurant style salsa then Trader Joe’s carries your new favorite. For me, it’s the only one. Anytime I have salsa other than Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica and Salsa Verde, I find myself comparing the two and Trader Joe’s always wins! My husband and I always stock up on this stuff and you can usually find at least two jars back stocked in our pantry.

 
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Organic Creamy Tomato Soup

Donate all of those cans of Campbell’s tomato soup you’ve got in your pantry and grab this stuff instead. Firstly, there’s no mixing in milk (and who’s mixing water in with the tomato soup? I don’t understand how that’s even an option on the back of the Campbell’s can.) Second, you can heat this stuff up on the microwave so it’s super quick to prepare! Lastly and most importantly, it’s the most delicious tomato soup I’ve EVER had. Also, and obviously it pairs SO well with a grilled cheese.

Pizza

Frozen pizza is not a “gourmet” food by any means and when I was a kid I used to love a good tombstone from the frozen section, but these frozen pizzas are actually REALLY good. When my husband and I host we often stick three or four in the oven and cut them up to serve. They’re perfect finger foods and people are always asking if we made them ourselves or where we got them. Pictured below are two of my favorites, the French style with ham, caramelized onions, and gruyere along with the classic pepperoni. A close runner up is the plain cheese with cauliflower crust.

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Chocolate Milk

Hands down, the best dang chocolate milk I’ve ever had in my life. Don’t look at the sugar content (in fact, I never have,) just pour yourself a cold glass and sip it slowly or gulp it down, and then ponder on why you’ve been wasting your time on yoo-hoo’s in the past. I actually had to stop buying this stuff for a little bit because I was getting slightly addicted. But when I have this in my fridge I usually supplement a dessert with a tall glass of this stuff and I’m perfectly content.

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Almond Danish Kringle

Admittedly, this would not be on the list if it weren't for my husband’s insistence that it should be. These things fly like hot cakes at my local Trader Joe’s and you have to snatch these up when you see them. It’s a huge buttery, flaky pastry stuffed with a sweet almond filling. It’s so nice to have in the house when you’re hosting family and friends around the holidays, which I believe is the only time they’re sold anyway. I love cutting these up and putting them on my cake stand for anyone to grab in the morning with coffee or after dinner.

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Dijon Mustard

I know what you’re thinking.. really? dijon mustard? YES! If you’re not a mustard fan, as I know some can’t even stand the smell, skip this one, but if you even like mustard a little, grab this stuff next time you visit Trader Joe’s. It’s really the best. I don’t even understand it. It’s spicy, but not in the traditional way and its simply the perfect balance of vinegar and mustard. Every sandwich at home gets this slathered with it and I have an amazing baked salmon recipe with mustard and pistachios that I can’t make without this particular mustard because it’s just not the same.

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Everything But the Bagel Seasoning

This seasoning doesn't even belong in the spice cabinet. It stays on my counter as a permanent staple next to the salt and pepper. My husband and I put it on everything from fried eggs to asian dishes to actual everything bagels. Some spice blends have too much salt but this doesn’t. It’s a wonderful blend of garlic, sesame seeds, sea salt, poppy seeds, and onion that pairs well with more than you think. It’s another Trader Joe’s item that is often out of stock due to its popularity, so I suggest stocking up on a few when you find it.



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Vanilla Almond Cluster Cereal

This cereal is a tad on the sweet side, but I personally don’t eat cereal for its “health benefits,” so I’ll have this as an afternoon snack or as dessert if I’m still hungry late at night. I just love the clusters! They even sell the clusters by themselves if you want it, but I like them mixed in with the cereal more.


Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar Dark Chocolate Almonds

These only need but so much explaining. They’re whole almonds covered, or as the label says “drenched,” in dark chocolate and then sprinkled with big chunks of sea salt. I like to savor them and suck on them when I eat them. It keeps me from devouring the entire container in one sitting.

 
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Know of something at Trader Joe’s that didn’t make this list?

Leave me a comment below and tell me what it is and why it’s so great!

Maternity Lifestyle Photoshoot

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Having a maternity photoshoot is pretty much a pregnancy rite of passage, right? Especially when it’s your first child. I knew when I became pregnant that I wanted to capture this chapter in my life, but I’ve gained almost thirty pounds and have simply not felt like myself. Which is to be expected! After all, I AM pregnant and I'm not myself.

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Luckily, I have amazing photographers whom I trust infinitely to capture me in my best “light.”. Charlyn and Samantha of CS Photography photographed my elopement last year and my husband and I just love their work. When we asked them to photograph us again, I knew they would respect our vision of having more of a lifestyle shoot than a maternity shoot.

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The morning of this photoshoot was kind of perfect, despite the lack of sunlight coming through the windows and having chosen my outfit about 4 minutes before Char and Samantha arrived. My husband and I made some coffee in the French press and we just sat around and enjoyed each other’s company while the girls snapped away. That’s what is so wonderful about a lifestyle shoot - it’s not overly posed so you can be a little more relaxed. Every now and again Char or Samantha would make little suggestions on positioning or where to direct our eyes, but for the most part we were just hanging out. And it was lovely.

These photos are proof that you don’t have to have a cheesy, uncomfortable, posed maternity shoot with the way overdone heart hands over the belly button. And if that’s your thing, I hope you aren’t insulted, but it’s not mine!

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Maternity Clothing: What to Buy + Stitch Fix Review

I’m currently in my 8th month of pregnancy, and my maternity clothing journey has not been what I expected it to be. A lot of friends of mine shared with me that they were able to wear their pre-pregnancy clothing their entire pregnancy, so I assumed I would be able to as well. I prefer looser fitting clothing for the most part, and I was hopeful. But by around week 12 or 13, which is very early on for some, I started feeling uncomfortable. And rather than huff in the mirror each morning about how I looked or simply feel uncomfortable all day, I set out to buy some maternity clothing.

 
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What I first experienced was not what I would describe as easy or inexpensive, but I learned a lot along the way and I want to share that with you all.

Stitch Fix recently began offering a maternity box and it is something I wish I would have known about much sooner. If you don’t already know, Stitch Fix is a service in which a personal stylist will hand pick a selection of clothing, accessories, or shoes based on your tastes, needs, and budget. The items come shipped to your doorstep for you to try on, decide what you’d like to keep and simply send back. There is a styling fee of $20, which contributes toward the cost of any items you decide to keep. It’s genius. I used this service previously, but had no idea they offered a maternity box! Some of my favorite maternity items in my closet are items I purchased through Stitch Fix.

 
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Unfortunately for all you pregnant mamas out there, there aren’t many retailers who sell maternity clothing in their stores. Plenty sell them online, but it has been difficult for me to find places I could walk into and try items on. Places near me that sell maternity clothing in store are Target, H&M, and Motherhood/Pea in the Pod. Target has a limited selection at my local store, but I found a lot of my winter sweaters there. H&M has the lowest prices and they also carry trendier maternity items, so it was my favorite place to shop. Motherhood / A Pea in the Pod were the priciest stores I shopped at in person, but I found staple items there such as jeans that I was able to wear from early on in my pregnancy and can still wear, so they were well worth the investment.

Below are some of my favorite maternity items that I have been wearing throughout my pregnancy that are still available.

Check out my youtube video where I show my entire collection of maternity clothing, talk about what styles and brands worked out best for me and also unbox my most recent Stitch Fix.

If you’re interested in trying Stitch Fix and want $25 off your first box, click here.

Living Room Refresh

Recently I posted about my new macrame hanging lights I made and installed in my living room here. I mentioned how I refreshed my entire living room from top to bottom, so I’m updating again to show you the final captures of this project. Included is some Christmas decor because well.. it’s that time of year.

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My gallery wall took some forethought and now that it’s done I actually want to expand it closer to the edges of back wall in my living room. I have a thing with hanging pictures, maybe it could be categorized as a commitment issue, but either way it takes me a lot of time, thought, and foresight for me to hang pictures on the wall. When I finally decided to hang this gallery wall I simply laid everything out on the floor and arranged it to my liking, took a picture on my phone in case I got lost at any point and started hanging. I didn’t do any fancy tricks with painters tape or brown paper like I’ve seen on Pinterest and it worked great for me.

I carefully chose the wall color, Naval by Sherwin Williams. Not to be confused with Navel by Sherwin Williams, an ultra bright shade of orange which was accidentally mixed for me at one point in this project when I returned to Lowe’s to grab another gallon. I had a nice little chuckle about that later, but the Lowe’s employee who mixed my paint did not seem as enthused.

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In the corner of my living room where I have lots of eastern light I decided to hang some plants. As you may know if you follow me on Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, or here on my blog, I love to macrame, so I knotted up a few plant hangers and hung these plants I already had around the house.

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My coffee table in the center of the room has been cleared and decorated simply for Christmas. These decorations are actually leftover from my winter themed baby shower my sweet friend, Ashley threw for me recently. She found the little trees and the plaid charging pads at Target.

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This cozy little corner still needs some wall decor, but the hanging lights are a wonderful addition to the space. Check out my video tutorial for those here, where I list all of the materials used and give step by step directions on how to make these.

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I have been pining after these agate coasters from Anthropologie for almost a year now. The gold rim on them and perfect hue are unlike any others I’ve been able to find. There are tons of imitations out there but I kept going back to these. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the price. And even on Black Friday when the entire store was 30% off I still couldn’t get on board. My husband knew how badly I wanted these for our living room and surprised me on my birthday with them. They’re the perfect addition to the space and they will flow perfectly into each season all year round.

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I decorated the mantel with some gorgeous faux eucalyptus garland from the Hearth & Hand collection art Target. I added some bulb lights through for dimension, and they look amazing at night with the fire going and the candles lit. The lanterns were something I visioned for next to the fireplace, but had a hard time finding the perfect ones without spending an arm and a leg. I ended up finding the larger one at Marshall’s and the smaller one at Target.

To watch my full video on the process of this room and to see what it looked like before, check out my video below.

Dutch Industrial Coffee Table - Restoration Hardware
Churchill Leather Chair with Nailheads - Restoration Hardware
Macrame Hanging Lights - Video Tutorial
Agate Coasters - Anthropologie
Harmony Down Filled 2-Piece Chaise Sectional - West Elm
Garland Eucalyptus Pinecone - Target

Macrame Hanging Lights

Recently I decided to give my entire living room an overhaul. The works - crown moulding, paint, and new decor. One of the items I decided to incorporate were some macrame hanging lights.

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These are a bit time consuming to make because they are 20 feet long, but they are extremely simple! I used the same half square knot repeatedly to create a spiral design down the length of the cord and I love how they turned out. I hung these in a corner over a big comfy leather chair of ours and they add an unexpected unique sense of warmth and texture.

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The materials I used for this project are as listed.

  1. 1/8” Cotton Cord - I order mine from the Knot and Rope Supply Company. You can find the exact cord I used here.

  2. Vintage Style Light Bulbs - Home Depot carries some inexpensive options that are quite large.

  3. Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue - I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but any craft store will carry this as well as Amazon.

  4. 20’ Pendant Light Cord - This was a two cord set and a great deal on Amazon.

A full tutorial for this project is available from my Youtube Channel below.

DIY Nightstand Project

When my husband and I started planning our pregnancy it felt like we had plenty of time to accomplish the things we wanted to with our home, especially since the baby cooks for about 9 months. Now that we are halfway through this pregnancy and have nothing done, we realize we were very wrong!

So a few weeks ago I was making a list of all the things I want to accomplish before our sweet baby boy arrives this February and at the top was buying new nightstands for our bedroom. We’ve never had matching nightstands in there. In fact, we’ve never had nightstands. We’ve always used some random side tables and at one point I had a mini ladder on my side of the bed to hold my water at night. So I’d say it’s about time we get it together in there.

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I started shopping online and everything looked short or was way over priced. So of course my next thought was, I can make night stands! So I got on pinterest and saw some projects others had done and decided to come up with my own.

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I measured the space and designed a nightstand that is simple, modern, and open with hairpin legs I purchased on Amazon. Check out my video tutorial (vlog style) below for full details on how I made these matching nightstands.

I'm Having a Baby!

Actually, I should say my husband and I are having a baby. Thankfully, I’m not completely alone in this. Although, I am alone in the morning sickness when I’m bent over the commode every morning (and sometimes night.) And I am alone in the breathless treks up and down the stairs of our home every day. And I’m alone in the mirror each morning wondering if I can get away with the pre-pregnancy shirt I’m busting out of. But I’m not alone in wanting to dip my pizza in ranch dressing. Or wanting pizza everyday for that matter! My husband’s food cravings have been in line with mine and he is constantly cheering me on, always reminding me that I’m beautiful or cute and that we are actually in this together, even though I am the one feeling all of the side effects of pregnancy. And I am very fortunate for that.

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For those of you who are curious, I created this pregnancy announcement for social media quite quickly. I used a blanket I recently bought at Target for my backdrop, last February’s calendar from Rifle Paper Company, some dried baby’s breath and lavender I had in a vase, and my most recent ultrasound photo. I circled our due date, February 13, with a white pen and snapped a photo of it all. It was wonderful being able to share my pregnancy with everyone who follows me on social media without having to share a photo of myself just yet.

Maybe all of this pregnancy talk will explain my absence on social media and especially my blog for the last few months or so. We took a vacation in June to the West Coast where we found out we were pregnant and I don’t think I’ve felt the same since. I especially haven’t been able to put out the amount of work I was before all of this. I’ve been lethargic, nauseas, and overall overwhelmed with the coming changes. But slowly I am getting back into the groove of things and hope to have plenty of projects completed before baby Miles arrives this February. That’s right, we are naming him Miles! And he’s a boy! It feels really good to have decided on a name so early in the game.

Watch my video below for an update at 33 weeks. I talk about the entire pregnancy up to this point including my unmedicated birth plan, issues with gestational diabetes, and a cystic fibrosis scare.



DIY Drop Cloth Drapes

Curtains and drapes are not cheap, especially extra long lengths. What’s even more frustrating is that most stores don’t carry lengths over 84 inches, so if you have tall ceilings, you’re forced to hang your curtains right above the windows and pray they hit the floor. If, like me, you’ve been struggling with curtain lengths in your home, you’ll be relieved to know there is an inexpensive solution.

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Home Depot and Lowe’s both carry canvas cloth drops. They come in various lengths and can easily be hung as curtains that look as fabulous as expensive ones! I highly suggest bleaching, washing, and ironing them before you hang them.

I simply filled my bathtub with a water and bleach solution, let them sit for a few hours, making sure to mix them and push down and air bubbles. I then transferred them to my laundry room where I washed them with detergent, dried them, and ironed them. Lastly, I hung them using black curtain rods from Target and curtain clips. In order to achieve the perfect length, I simply folded them over and clipped them where I thought they hung best.

If you notice in the pictures below, the drop cloths started out as a mousey, dusty gray. Once they were bleached they came out a creamy off white which goes with my decor much better then gray.

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Check out my youtube video below on a full step by step tutorial for this process.

I Ripped My Carpet Up and Painted My Stairs

Is it just me or are carpeted stairs becoming a thing of the past? Vacuuming them is a complete nightmare. I never feel like I'm getting them completely clean no matter what angle I go in at or what attachments I use. And to be blunt, with the exception of a good runner, most of the time carpet on stairs just isn't attractive. To me, it’s out of style (if it was ever even in,) and it’s not coming back any time soon.

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The carpet in my home was the original carpet that was installed when the house was built eight-ish years ago. That isn't very long, but I don't think my husband and I took the best care of it over the years. Taking our shoes off at the door or wiping our dog's paws wasn't mandatory and eventually dirt and grime starts to show on carpet. You could definitely see that the first few steps were much darker than the last ones on the top from dirty shoes. I tried cleaning the carpet a few times, but the carpet wasn't of the best quality in the first place. It's hard to make cheap builder's grade carpet look new again. 

When I started researching stair upgrades I came across a blogger who referred to her beige builder's grade carpet as "muppet skin." She couldn't have been more hilariously accurate. It does look like muppet skin! Gross! As soon as I decided the carpet had to go, I couldn't take my mind off the idea. I decided to peel back a bit of the carpet to see what was underneath and to my surprise we had pine treads! The risers turned out to be plywood, but I figured I could find a way to work with it without having to replace anything.

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I turned to Pinterest for inspiration. There were tons of stair redo ideas, mostly with stained wood treads. I couldn't go for that idea, as much as I would have liked to because I loathe the orange laminate wood flooring in our house and I did not want to match that. I also didn't want anything to clash with it. So painting the treads and risers seemed to be the best option. I considered painting the treads black and the risers white, but the more I delved into Pinterest for inspiration, the more I realized what I really loved was super clean, white stairs. White treads and white risers. I could sweep them and wipe them down, and I would be able to see every speck of dust on them, which I love because then I know when they are dirty!

Here's a look at what they looked like before with the "muppet skin" carpet.

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I don't want to hide dirt in my house. Items like a brown couch or brown carpeting that are made to hide dirt are strange to me. And maybe it's because I don't have children yet, but I want to know when something is dirty so that I can clean it and feel satisfied knowing that it is truly clean.

Naively, I thought this project would be a "weekend project" like most things I take on. Maybe if you have one set of stairs in your home you could knock it out in a weekend, but we have three stories and two sets of stairs, so this actually took a couple of weeks working on it during weekends and after work.

First I ripped the carpet and padding up. Then I removed all of the staples, nails and anything else that shouldn't be there. You'd be surprised what you'd find under your carpet! Years of dirt, grime, dog hair and anything else that comes in on the bottom of your shoes weaves its way through the carpet. It's pretty disgusting and I knew I was making the right choice after seeing all of that. When they built our house they sprayed the walls with paint before they laid the carpet down, so there was a ton of paint built up on the treads and random globs of caulk as well. I used a gel paint remover to scrape all of that off. After that I was able to sand the treads down and fill any blemishes with wood putty. I made sure all of my treads were as smooth as I could get them and then I painted them. I used a porch and concrete paint to paint these because I was told it was a little more durable and less susceptible to wear and tear. I did two coats of white paint and three coats of clear, matte polycrylic sealant. As I said before, I couldn't  be happier with the results!

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Check out my youtube video on a further look into the process and upkeep of these stairs.

Restoration Hardware Knock Off Extra Long Outdoor Couch

Last fall as the weather turned crisp and my husband and I were bringing our plants indoors, we took a look around our second floor balcony and decided something needed to change out there. We love spending time outside when the weather is nice, but because we don't have a yard, we find ourselves on our balcony quite often. We decorate it with potted plants and hanging lights, and we love to drink morning coffee out there or have charcuterie and wine when the mood strikes. But the furniture we had just wasn't comfortable. I tried rearranging it a few times to make what we had work, but the four top bistro style table, loveseat and coffee table just felt bulky and crowded. It also wasn't very comfortable. The Iron and cheap plastic-like mesh material it was constructed out of didn't speak much of comfort. We realized we loved the space but hated the furniture. So we agreed that when spring came around we would invest in new outdoor furniture.

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We took a trip to Denver, Colorado some time after and visited the largest Restoration Hardware store either of us had ever been to. This place was 4 levels of showrooms and a rooftop garden area that displayed all of their outdoor furniture. We are big fans of Restoration Hardware and both see the value in their furniture. Most things come with a hefty price tag, but everything is well built and lasts a long time. We've purchased several items from them and have been absolutely pleased with every piece. And while their outdoor furniture is extremely tasteful, I just couldn't get on board with the cost for something that would sit outside in the elements like an outdoor couch would. So to the internet I went!

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First I decided to look at some sites I knew retailed furniture for much less. I found some similar items on Amazon, Overstock, Ikea, and Wayfair, but I was still looking at spending at least $1,000.00. Not only that, but I realized these couches were sort of short in length compared to what we wanted. I envisioned an extra long couch that would sit up against the house and face the beautiful lake and fountain in front of our home. I wanted it to be something my husband and I could both lay on together and would also seat more than two or three people at a time. Most of the couches I was finding were only 72 to 76 inches long. When I measured the space I was looking to fill on my balcony I knew I wanted something at least 96 inches long, if not longer!

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After I exhausted all of the more inexpensive sites I knew of, I got an idea that maybe we could build something ourselves. On Pinterest I found some examples where pallets were stacked beneath cushions to create comfy little outdoor spaces, but I wanted something a little less boho and a little more sturdy. What I finally came across was a video by Ana White on the Ryobi Nation website where she built a very simple outdoor couch with only 2x4s. The only catch was the length was shorter than what I wanted. The site offered some project plans with measurements that I printed, did the math, and modified to work for our space.

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I found some great cushions on the Ikea website that I wanted to order, so I modified the plans to fit these cushions which worked out great. They're 24"x24", which is a pretty standard size, so if I ever needed to replace them I shouldn't have trouble. And the back cushions worked great as well for the couch. I spent a mere $160.00 on all four sets of cushions, with the back cushions included.

In my youtube video below, I explain the difference between the original plans by Ana White and my modified ones. I also show you exactly how I made my outdoor couch,  so check that out if you're interested.

Please leave a comment if this inspires you to redo your outdoor space!

DIY Extra Long Macrame Plant Hanger

If you've been on Pinterest or Instagram lately, you've probably noticed the plethora of hanging plants in people’s homes. This is not a new trend as people were hanging their plants long before Pinterest ever came along. And macrame was widely popular in the 70s but I was surprised to find out that it actually dates back as far as the Victorian era. I love seeing the two hand in hand, growing popularity again. Macrame plant hangers much easier to make than they appear. And if you’re into macrame or want to learn, there’s a ton of resources out there that are free. I actually have a few macrame basic knot tutorials on my channel and even a couple plant hanger tutorials which I will link below. But first, I want to show off a couple of the plant hangers I made that are currently hanging in my home.

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This hanger is longer than the typical, hanging at at 40 inches without a plant in it. If you make your own plant hanger from this project, please comment and post a picture!