DIY curb appeal, part 2

Hey there!  First off, I hope everyone had a lovely mother’s day!!  I know I sure did!

Remember how I said I was going to tell you all about our flower bed re-do in my next post and then I didn’t?  Yeah.  I’m blaming the sickness that descended yet again on my house.  This time, poor B was the only one who succumbed (poor kiddo got hand/foot/mouth AND an ear infection at the same time.  Let’s not talk about little sleep everyone got).  Poor kid has had 3 ear infections in the last month- so guess what we’re doing today??  Getting tubes.  Fingers crossed it all goes great and we can put a stop to all the ear infections!!

Anyway.   Last I left you our flower bed looked like this:

 

house with flowerbed

Oh wait…maybe not quite like that.  But do you see the area to the right of the driveway, and the evergreen trees (aka leyland cypresses) in that general area as well?  I’ve never liked that side of the driveway, so I’ve always cropped it out of photos.  Well, we (aka T) finally decided to make a change.

First those leyland cypresses came out.  They were giant (at least 30 feet tall), crowding all the other trees on that side and slowly dying from the base up.  It was time for those to go- so T went out there one day and cut them down!  It was amazing how removing those opened things up!

The flower bed used to have a skinny strip of grass in front of it (right next to the driveway)- not even big enough for the lawn mower.  I don’t know why it took us 4 years to decide that maybe that grass didn’t even need to be there, but after cutting those trees down, T dug the grass out so we could extend the flower bed all the way to the driveway.

There were already peony plants in the flower bed (I was delighted to discover that the year we bought our house) but the rest was just weeds.  I went to a local plant sale and bought some heuchera, columbines, creeping phlox and bleeding hearts (the bed is mostly in the shade).  We got another 10 yards of mulch delivered since we’d run out the last time we mulched, and here’s the end result:

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You can see the stumps of the trees T removed to the right of the mulch pile.  And that tree that looks like we pruned it too much is a vitex that blooms in the early summer, and is doing great (although I have to admit, I was a terrified a little afraid that we’d killed it by pruning it back too far)

Soon after planting everything, our resident deer decided to munch on my heuchera (even though it’s advertised as deer resistant).  So now all the new plants are sporting a slightly more “industrial” look (tomato cages plus bird netting):

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Hopefully they won’t need this extra layer of protection next year, but we’ll see.

 

Here are some pics of my favorite flowers in there:

 

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Peony

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Bleeding Heart

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Columbine

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This is an azalea, which isn’t in that flower bed they were blooming when I was taking these photos and I love them, so here’s a bonus shot of one!

 

That concludes my little tour of our flower beds!  I hope you enjoyed the pics- I’d love to see some pics of your outdoor spaces!  Feel free to share a link in the comments!

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Some DIY curb appeal

**Linking up to Katie Bower’s spring photo link party!!**

Hey y’all- I hope everyone had a happy Easter!  We were pretty low key around here since we have no family in the area, but B did get to do his first egg hunt (actually 2nd hunt- his school did one the week prior, but this was his first hunt with us)!  I didn’t think he’d understand what to do with his basket, but he carried it around on his arm like a pro (probably because of all the practice he’s had playing with my purse- ha!)  Thankfully the weather was lovely so we got to be outside most of the day…

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Speaking of outside (and happy Earth day by the way!), we’ve switched gears around the house and have been taking advantage of the lovely (albeit a bit weird with temps in the 80’s one day and a frost the next) spring weather we’ve been having lately and putting in some work on the outside of our house, before the weather here gets too hot and humid.

We usually mulch our front and back flower beds yearly, although we skipped last year due to the crazyness that being a new parent brings with it!  Also, we usually (stupidly) wait way too long and mulch in the summer which is just ridiculously sweaty- this year we were on top of it and ordered 20 cubic yards at the end of February.  We got so much mulch because we decided to mulch our backyard after trying (unsuccessfully) for several years to get anything resembling grass to grow back there (mulch is the new grass right?)

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My boys, happy with the newly mulched back yard

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We changed the path leading to the garden from gravel to mulch

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We get a lot of erosion here due to rain water, so T added in a 4×4 post (half buried in the ground) to create a tiered effect and stop the mulch from washing down the hill

Then we got 5 cubic yards of gravel, so we could extend the gravel path in the above photo, as well freshen up the existing graveled spaces

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T is such a hard worker. I just spread the mulch/gravel and take the photos

B enjoyed “helping” with the mulching process- I’d gotten him his own shovel and he was thrilled to help his daddy load up the wheelbarrow:bmulch

And wear his daddy’s work gloves around:

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Believe it or not, we blew through all 20 cubic yards of mulch and had JUST enough to do the front beds, minus one…

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Ahhh, freshly mulched = happy plants

 

Which actually worked out well because we decided to modify that bed, so we were able to wait to mulch it.  I don’t have any photos of the bed before we got to it (bad blogger), probably because it was nothing much to look at so I always cropped it out of my photos!  Just a narrow long bed with some peonies in it (that I have managed not to kill despite doing absolutely nothing to them- we inherited them with the house, which was a fun surprise the first year they came up!) and a narrow strip of grass/weeds.  Boring!! If you look at the below photo of our house, it would be to the right of the edge of the driveway (and under the snow):

house with flowerbed

T was the driving force behind the bed re-do, and we are both so happy with it now.  It just makes so much more sense.  I will post more about it in my next post, because that much work deserves its own post and this one is long enough as it is!!  I will leave you with one more pic of B, probably my favorite of him to date:

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Pure joy at being outside, in the wheelbarrow!

 

Feelin’ haze-y

I know in my last post I teased you with the promise of a new kitchen wall color, which got delayed due to new windows.  I’m making good on that promise today!!

First off, can I just say that painting (and any project in general) takes 10x as long when you have to work solely during nap and bed times?  Painting the kitchen BC (that’s “before child”) would have taken approximately a weekend to finish.  Painting the kitchen AC (“after child”) took almost a month- taping happened one night after bed, then the walls got painted during a weekend, then I had to travel for work so we took a week off.  Then the ceiling finally got painted over another weekend.  I suppose if we didn’t mind being sleep deprived, we still could have gotten it done in a weekend, but I like my sleep thankyouverymuch!

I wanted a color that was lighter than our original color (Behr’s Mother Nature) but that wasn’t a tan because the office and living room are both a shade of tan.  I also wanted something with some grey to it, but not too grey.  It had to play nice with our counters and cabinets too.  I grabbed a million swatches, and painted a few test stripes on the walls (those are a good motivator to get to the actual painting process- we could only stare at those stripes for so long).  I don’t usually spend this much time deliberating on a color, but I really didn’t want to have to paint the kitchen again- there is SO much taping involved!!  I *finally* settled on Behr Mountain Haze for the walls and Behr White Clay for the ceiling.  And oh boy do I love it!! The color is still a little bit green, but looks greyish at night.

It’s actually still not 100% finished- there’s some paint to be scraped off the cabinets, and we have a project in the initial planning stages that we *hope* to complete this summer at some point (right now we’ve switched gears and are focusing our energy on the outside since it’s nice enough to be out there.  We’ll move back inside once the stifling heat and humidity show up).  It’s finished enough for photos though!!  Warning- I did not stage anything.  And there are toddler hand prints all over the dishwasher (I didn’t even bother showing you the fridge because the outside is kind of scary looking right now- I curse our stainless steel appliances on a daily basis…)

Anyway…I know you really just want to see the photos, so here you go!  First off, the dining room side:

Oh what a difference some paint and a new window makes!!  That window is the exact same size as the old window, but it looks SO much bigger.

And, just a reminder (again) of how far this room has come…

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Oh yeah…so much better!  We got a new rug awhile back too for the dining room portion- we did have 4 (!!) rugs in there and it was just getting ridiculous when we were vacuuming in there.  One big rug is much more manageable.  The colors tie in well with the curtains and wall color (the rug came first though).  And it goes well with the living room rug too.

And the kitchen side of things:

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This photo is probably the best shot of our counter tops I have- it really shows off the detail and true colors (Corian in “Burled Beach”).  I am still in love with them.  You can also see we added some new pets to our family- 9 neon tetras and 2 corydoras (aka cory catfish).  B loves to watch them swim, especially at feeding time, and has quickly learned to sign “fish”.

Another quick reminder of what this side of the room used to look like:

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It’s amazing what a little paint can do.  It feels so much lighter and brighter in there, which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish!

I’m excited about the next project we are doing in this room, but I’m keeping that cat in the bag for now.  I’m hoping we’ll get it done this summer but the way our projects have been moving lately, it might be more like fall.  We’ll see.  No promises!!

What do you think?  Have you painted anything recently?

DIY canvas art

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope y’all had a great weekend!  We were super busy, and poor B came down with a nasty cough.  Yuck.

I’m showing you something I put together over the weekend- it’s super simple and one of my favorite crafts.

In our house we have a few gallery walls (B’s room, my office and our hallway)  I really like adding in pictures that are in frames and on canvases- it’s fun to mix them up.  I’m loving photo printed canvases, but you know, they can be SO expensive!  But I’m going to show you how you can create your own at home for less!

First, gather your supplies.  You’re going to need your photo (I’ve used 8×10’s and 11×14’s for this project), some craft paint in your color of choice, a foam brush, a canvas to fit your photo and some modge podge.

DIY canvas art supplies

Paint your canvas edges with the craft paint

DIY canvas art painted canvases

You’ll notice I painted the blue one completely blue- you don’t have to do this (see the black one), but I wasn’t sure the piece of artwork I was putting on that canvas was as thick as a photo, and it is a light colored piece of paper, so I didn’t want any lines to show through.  The black does not show through a photo- I’ve done several this way and they’ve all turned out great.

Spread some modge podge down on the canvas…

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Then put your photo (or art) down on top and let it dry so it attaches well.  Once it’s attached, cover the photo (or art) in a two layers of modge podge (let each application dry in between).

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Make sure to get the sides of the canvas too, because you’re inevitably going to have some drips.  Plus craft paint is very matte, whereas the modge podge is sort of shiny (I used the matte finish modge podge, by the way)

DIY canvas art side

Then, admire your canvas and hang it up!

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This particular canvas is a family tree that my sister got for B last Christmas.  I’m ashamed to say it took me a year to get it completed (mostly because I was afraid I would mess it up by writing on it, but I put my penmanship skills to work and I have to say, it looks pretty good) As of today, it’s filled out and ready to hang on the wall!!  Normally I paint the edges black for my photos, but I thought an aqua blue was a fun change, and it matches B’s nursery colors.  I can’t wait to hang it on the wall in there.

Did you craft something over the weekend?

Linking up to the Inspire Me Please blog hop at House of Rose!

DIY: Embossed paper CD case

Linking up to the Inspire Me blog hop over at House of Rose!

The 1st birthday party on friday was SO much fun!  Unfortunately, my memory card gave me the “card full” message (apparently I’ve taken enough photos this year to fill up an entire 8GB card) so I was frantically deleting in between photos so I could capture a few new ones.  I didn’t end up getting anything super great of B, but here’s a cute one of him crawling through the space we rented (a crawler’s dream location- SO much space!!):

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I wanted to give all the babies a little 1st birthday present at the party, and decided to burn them all a copy of a two cds that we listen to often in the car.  They are cds that I was pretty sure none of the other parents had, so it seemed like a good plan.  And then I realized I had nothing to put them in.  Whoops.  I wanted to make something fun, so I headed over to Pinterest to see if I could find a DIY paper cd case (spoiler alert- I did!)

I used to be a pretty avid scrapbooker and stamper, so I dug into my stash for this project.  I used some really pretty burgundy paper with a gold sheen to it – unfortunately it photographed bright red, but let’s just pretend it is burgundy in these photos.  I also used a big stamp that I’ve had forever that I haven’t gotten a chance to really use yet.

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I used a brown and a gold embossing powder.  I’m a big fan of embossing– it’s easy to do and adds a lot of dimension to a stamped project.

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The above photos is probably the best representation of the paper color.  And look, you can see how much I paid for the stamp!  Ha.  Isn’t it a pretty stamp?  I was excited to find it in my stamp stash- I’d forgotten all about it!

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I used a clear-ish ink to stamp the design, since I was using a colored embossing powder.  I stamped it approximately in the middle of my sheet of paper

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I then sprinkled some of the brown and gold embossing powder over the wet ink

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I shook off the excess and then applied some heat using my embossing gun to melt the powder

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Tada!!  Pretty!  Then I had to fold the case.  I used this tutorial, which was super easy.  First I placed the cd at the bottom of the paper, in the approximate middle:

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By the way- Caspar Babypants is a great cd (weird name, I know), if you’re looking for music that won’t drive you NUTS after it plays on repeat in your car.  The singer is the lead singer from Presidents of the USA (…millions of peaches, peaches for me…) and the music is similar to that, so it’s fun.

I folded the sides of the paper over the cd

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Then I folded the bottom (while holding onto the cd) up

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I folded the top corners in

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And then folded the top down and tucked it into the pocket that the cd was sitting in

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That’s it!!  Super easy and cute!

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I enjoyed making these- I am definitely going to be making more in the future!

What do you think?  Have you crafted anything fun lately?

DIY zippered wet bag

We cloth diaper around here, which means when we’re out and about, or B is at daycare, the dirty diapers have to go into something to keep the rest of his diaper bag clean.  This is where the wet bag comes in- it’s a fabric bag with a waterproof lining.  Theoretically we could just put them into a plastic bag, but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun!  Hey- when you’re dealing with poop, you have to have a little fun, right?

I purchased a couple of zippered wet bags before B was born.  They’ve held up fabulously (we have this one by PlanetWise) with daily washings- I have zero complaints.  However, one day I showed up at B’s daycare and discovered that another little boy, who had just started there, had the exact same wet bag!!  Uh oh.  We’ve already had a couple of incidents where we’ve ended up with a diaper that wasn’t ours, and having the same wet bags hanging next to each other would not help improve our odds of coming home with only our diapers.

I had a new wet bag all picked out and waiting in my Amazon shopping cart- and then stumbled upon this pin on Pinterest.  I haven’t sewn in almost a year- and decided a DIY zippered wet bag would be the best way to get back into the swing of sewing again.  There are lots of pictures to walk you through it- which is great because I have never installed a zipper before!

So off I went to pick out some fabric- I got a yard of a woven cotton, and then went in search of PUL fabric (polyurethane laminated fabric, what makes the bag waterproof on the inside).  Unfortunately my local fabric store did not have PUL in stock- whop whop.  I had to order it online.  Thank goodness I was able to get a little cashback on that purchase!

I won’t walk you through the steps because the tutorial I followed is very thorough, so please reference that for a walk through.  Want to see how it turned out?  Of course you do…

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I picked out a fun fish themed print (a surprising choice for the marine biologist, I know).  I decided to play off the orange fish on there and use an orange zipper and orange PUL:

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I really like this pattern- it was fairly easy to sew, even with the zipper installation, and I was able to customize the size for our needs.  I liked our old wet bag, but it was a little on the small side.  This one is 12″ wide and 20″ long and holds an entire days worth of diapers with a little room to spare.  Not to mention it has a carry handle on the side which is great for hanging the bag up (our old bag didn’t have a handle and daycare had to put a little zip tie on the zipper).

The bag has been in use now for almost a month, and has held up extremely well.  We wash it daily and I have yet to see any wear on the bag/zipper/handle.  And no leaks- so it’s serving its purpose well!

As far as cost goes, this bag cost me less than $20 to make- $7 for the woven fabric and zipper (I only used about half of the woven fabric and I had a coupon) and $6 for the PUL (factoring in a coupon, shipping and cash back)- $13 total.  Not bad- plus I like that I have an almost limitless choice in pattern for the outside!!

What do you think?  Have you done any fun sewing/crafty projects lately?

Baby snuggler tutorial

Happy Monday everyone!  I spent most of my weekend hanging out with my sewing machine, and I thought y’all would enjoy seeing the end result.

Awhile back I pinned this pattern– and I just could not get it out of my head.  It’s similar in theory to my knitted sleep sack, except that there’s velcro involved to keep the baby’s arms in.  I’ve been reading a lot about how important swaddling is with a new baby- so this snuggler seemed like something we should have at least one of in our new baby arsenal, right??

Here’s a picture of my first attempt:

Cute right??  And actually pretty easy to make.  Easy enough that I felt comfortable writing up a baby snuggler tutorial for y’all to have.  You can download the pattern and instructions here, but if you’re like me, having some visual instructions are always nice as well.  So here goes!

You’ll need:

1 yard of a cotton fabric
1 yard of something soft- I used flannel, but the instructions recommend micro fleece.  Whatever you’re most comfortable working with.
Scissors
Pattern (downloadable from here, and pieced together)
Sewing machine and thread
Pins
Velcro

Start out by washing and drying your fabric and then ironing out any wrinkles.  This is an important first step- that way your fabric is pre-shrunk and ready to go!

Fold your two fabrics in half and lay them out on your cutting surface (I use our guest bed- probably not a good idea since I’m always afraid I’ll cut the bedspread, but oh well- live dangerously right??):

Pin your pattern pieces to the fabric and then cut them out- do this for both fabrics:

You should end up with this:

The instructions then tell you to pin and sew the darts.  At this point I got nervous- how do you sew a dart?  What the heck is a dart?!?  I almost quit- but lucky for you I didn’t!  The darts are shown on the pattern:

And you can also see them cut out in the fabric above.  Basically what you want to do is fold your fabric down the center line of the dart (like you’re making a paper airplane), pin it in place and then sew down one of the diagonal lines.  The instructions recommend marking the darts on your fabric, but I don’t have the patience anything that writes well on fabric, so I just measured the length of each diagonal and roughly pinned out a diagonal line on the fabric.

Here’s the upper dart pinned:

And the lower darts (be sure to consume some starburst candy at this point…you’ll need it after pinning all those darts!):

Then you simply sew down your diagonal line (starting on the widest part of the diagonal and sewing all the way to the fold), on the wrong side of your fabric:

Remove your pins, press the darts with an iron and you’re left with this:

Still with me??

Next you want to pin your two cotton pieces together, right sides touching.  Do the same with your two soft pieces- lining up the bottom darts is a good way to get them aligned properly.

In the above photo the cotton is NOT pinned to the soft layer- I just laid them on top of each other for the photo.  Basically the only part of the snuggler that’s pinned right now is the bottom U shape.  Go ahead and sew those two pieces together, leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance, and then trim your seams to be 1/4 of an inch.

After you’ve done this, turn your cotton layer right side out and leave your soft layer wrong side out.  Put the cotton layer inside the soft layer and pin everything together.

Now you’re going to sew the two layers together- you want to sew along both arms and back (**make sure to leave a 3 inch gap on the underside of one arm in order to turn the whole thing right side out**) and the top part of the front panel.

Here’s a close of up the 3 inch gap I left on one of the arms:

Turn the whole thing right side out and adjust everything to your liking- you’ll need to use your fingers to poke the corners out and get it looking just right.  At this point the instructions tell you to slipstitch the 3 inch opening closed.  I thought this might look weird, so I chose to top stitch the entire piece- basically everything I’d just sewn, except for the bottom U shaped part of the pocket.

I used a zig-zag stitch in a similar color to the lining, but you could use whatever stitch you wanted to, in whatever color you decided.  Or you could slip stitch the opening closed as the instructions said.

Next you want to place your velcro.  Again the instructions say to transfer the velcro placements from your pattern on to your fabric, but I went ahead and just eyeballed things.

The soft pieces of the velcro (loop) go on the soft layer of your snuggler, and the rough pieces (hook) go on the cotton layer of the snuggler.  I pinned them down and then sewed around each one- I did make sure the snuggler closed properly with the velcro placement before sewing.

And here’s the end result (3 hours later if you’re slow like me…less time if you’re not a sewing sloth):

Oops- hang out, let me get that out of the way for you…

Tada!

I hope this little tutorial was helpful for you- like I mentioned before, you can find the pattern and written instructions here.  I loved making these and can’t wait to make a couple more- relatively quick and easy.  They’d make a great baby shower gift…or go ahead and stockpile a few for your own child (you know that’s what I’m going to do!)

Linking up to the fall Pinterest challenge!!!

A tour!

So there are still a few things missing, and I’m sure once we have a baby shower it’ll fill up with all sorts of goodies, but for now I’m calling baby D’s room “done”.  First, let me remind you what this room used to look like when we looked at the house….

Sorry for the bad photos- these were taken from the real estate listing.  The paint job was horrible/dirty, gold hardware was everywhere and the carpet had all sorts of mystery stains.  For the longest time we didn’t do anything about this room- we just put a baby gate up (to keep the dogs out) and made it a cat room.  About a year and a half ago, we started talking about having a baby, so we got to work!  The decal (from Leen the Graphics Queen), which was sort of the inspiration for the entire room.  I knew I wanted it to have a nature theme (without being too theme-y), and that it had to start out gender neutral if I was going to start decorating before a) being pregnant and b) knowing the sex.  I also wanted it bright, but also easy to change once baby D started growing up and having their own opinion about decorating.

I picked a grey wall color to keep things neutral (Martha Stewart’s Driftwood Gray), and painted the ceiling/closet interior a lighter grey (Martha Stewart’s Cumulus Cloud).  The wall decal went up next, and I picked a pretty aqua blue for the birds, which also happens to be the exact same blue that we used in our wedding.  From there everything else sort of came along slowly- I’ve had lots of time to think about this room!!  The carpet is Martha Stewart’s Winterthur in “Wild Turkey” (hmmm, I’m sensing a hidden theme in this room!)

Without further ado, let’s start the tour!

What you see when you walk in the door- our bedroom is behind me.  The dresser/changing table we got off of Craigslist and T re-did the top to be white.  I found the blue bin on clearance at Target for $4 and will use to hold changing supplies.  You can find more information about the gallery wall here, the bird mobile here and the crib skirt here.  We still need a crib sheet (or two), and the crib was a generous gift from my parents (Baby Mod Cadence 4-in-1).

As you turn the corner, you see the guest bed place for me to sleep once baby shows up and T goes back to work (it doesn’t look very big in this photo, but it’s a queen size).  The bedding came from Bed Bath and Beyond (but looks to be discontinued).  The pillows are from TJ Maxx and are actually meant for outdoors, but the colors/patterns worked great in the room.  The black dog on the bed was mine when I was growing up (fitting considering we have 3 black dogs now).  I did the art on the wall- you can read more about that here.  And more about the patterned curtains here, the rocking chair pillow covers here.

This shot was taken standing underneath the bird mobile- which helps explain why we have all the furniture along 2 walls- the other main wall is one giant closet.  There’s a stroller and other random items stored in there right now- I’m pretty sure it’ll become filled with only baby gear at some point soon.  The end table next to the rocker also came from Craigslist- the same place as the dresser actually- and T painted it white.  The quilt on the back of the rocker was made by T’s sister.  I’d like the dormer to become a reading nook one day, so I plan on installing some shelves in there at some point soon.  The storage ottoman and white curtains came from Target.

And the gallery wall/dresser as seen from the bed.  So far the dresser is holding clothes and blankets- I’m sure we’ll be overflowing into the closet at some point in the near future.

And that’s the tour!!  What do you think?