Things I Love Thursday: Window Crayons!

On some Thursdays, I’ll share something random that I’m really liking, enjoying, or appreciating. Just a little post to share a little snippet of life right now. I’d love to know if you also like these things, and what you’re randomly into these days!

I read about these on Elise’s instagram or blog and figured our dudes would enjoy it:

Crayola Window Crayons

Crayons for your windows! That is so clever!

We have a big window in our living room, and the babies love looking out of it. We have our DIY Learning Towers so they can stand there by themselves (those dudes get heavy if we’re just standing there holding them!). So I figured–let’s have them stand in the towers and color on the window.

WINNER!!!!!

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They loved it! In fact, they asked to do it again the following day (by pointing at the bin we’d put the crayons in, and saying/signing please). We’re going to try not to do it super often so the novelty doesn’t wear off too quickly.

It’s fairly easy to clean up. I wiped down all the crayon marks easily with a wet cloth (former burp cloth, cloth diaper!), and then used windex to get rid of the big streaks. The crayon marks on the wooden windowsill/trim wiped right off, too.

Some tips: keep this a no-clothes activity. The crayon marks get everywhere. (They seem to wash out just fine, but might as well skip that step!) Also, you may want to invest in two sets at first. They already wore down the tips from this first set quite a bit.

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This is such a great indoor activity, especially heading into the fall and winter! They’re only so-so about coloring with crayons and paper at a table, but they were super gung-ho about coloring on a window! And this is definitely something they’ll be able to use for a long time, since their fine motor skills and drawing skills are only going to keep improving for the next few years.

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have these yet? If you have older kids, do you think they’d like these too?

 

*Amazon links are affiliate

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Pinspiration: Father’s Day Craft

Last spring, I decided semi-last minute to do a craft for Father’s Day. I found this on Pinterest :

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Pinterest             /        Original source

“Heartfelt quotes” aren’t really our thing, and they’re definitely not my husband’s thing. But I figured it was a great basic idea.

Here’s my take on it:

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This was a really quick and easy project, and I only used things I already had.

First, I used my black stamp pad to stamp each baby’s footprint, so that together they made a heart. (I wrote each baby’s name next to the print.) This was just on regular copy paper.

The background is scrapbook paper, the blue heart is another piece of scrapbook paper. I wanted a cool pattern for the letters, but didn’t like any of the paper I had, so I actually went online and into Photoshop to make a pattern. I then typed out the letters in outline and printed it all, and painstakingly cut out the letters.

Then I put it into an empty IKEA frame we had lying around. Et voila–Happy Father’s Day!

This is a really easy craft, and super customizable. And best of all, besides being free, it’s super cute and a great keepsake!

Baby Room Makeover!!

Previously: My thoughts on “nurseries” and the first baby room makeover/setup.

The babies have been sleeping in their room for what, six months now? They don’t really spend any time there in daylight. But as they get bigger, and our living room-slash-playroom starts to feel smaller, I started to think about actually getting some fun use out of their bedroom.

Before:

Since that first setup, we added the second crib and moved them to the opposite wall. DSC_1499-76

The dresser was nearly empty. All of their clothes are downstairs next to the changing table, since that’s where we dress and change them.

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The left half of the top shelf is books for the babies. Technically, I’ve had a bunch of those picture books for years already from teaching. All the rest of the books and crap on this bookshelf is mine. Selfishly taking up space in my babies’ room because I don’t know where else to put it.

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Piles. Stuff. Tools. Crap. Also dust. (Babies are not usually underfoot.)

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And now the After:

New decorations!! First of course are the map letters, which I made myself–see all about those here. The long frame in the middle is a few years old. I had some black and white nature photos in there, and it’s been leaning in a corner in our room for like a year. Now it holds pictures of our summer beach trip. This had been sitting in the living room for a couple weeks, waiting to be hung, and the babies LOVE looking at it! They point/tap at themselves and us. I think I need to get more big photos printed up and put them in a baby-safe frame or sleeve so they can play with them. The alphabet print is this lovely Cavallini wrapping paper, and it fits PERFECTLY in this Virserum frame from IKEA. (So that huge framed print cost a total of $25!)

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Adorable prints and wooden growth chart! The 11×14 frames were on clearance at joann.com. The growth chart is from a local toy shop. At Christmas we will get some small kid furniture which will fit here too.

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I found this twin boys reading print on etsy last year. I love pretty much everything about it, so much.

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The personalized best friends print is from Minted. We want our babies to be best friend brothers. 🙂

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This 9-cubby organizer was actually one of the first mental makeovers I made. It’s been in the garage since we moved it out of the living room earlier this year. Since the white dresser wasn’t really being used, I realized it needed to go, and that this piece could be part dresser, part kid-friendly shelving. The fabric drawers contain the extra crib sheets, and some clothes that are still a little big, and a few other random things. The open shelves hold books, toys, and wipes. The Pooh hanging is from Andy’s childhood bedroom. 🙂 Oh, and the curtains are from IKEA. I think they are so cute and happy! They don’t block any light, though, and this room gets all the strong morning light. So I dug out the thick red curtains from our Brooklyn bedroom, and together they do a good job keeping the room nice and dark when needed. Maybe someday I’ll cut the red ones to be the same length as the white ones.

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I framed 8x10s of the babies with each of their grandparents (which is three photos). The fourth one is a placeholder for another photo of us four. I might get (or make!) one of those “FAMILY” artsy signs to put above them. And we can add more photos to either side if we want to! (These are hung up with Command strips, so they can be taken down/moved/put up with ease.) That little shelf/drawer piece is also a placeholder. The tools are in the drawers right now, but I’ll put them into a bin or basket in the linen closet. Later we plan to put a large toy in this space.

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And that’s it!

I am so, so pleased with how everything came together. There’s no theme, it’s not styled just so like all the beautiful Pinterest nurseries, and there’s still a bunch of random crap in the closet. But I think it’s warm, eclectically fun, and friendly.

I love that it’s open, and should stay pretty open even once the larger pieces are added in. I think it will be a fun space for the babies to play and have fun! I want to invent reasons for me to hang out in there and enjoy it myself too. 🙂

Most of the new items were re-purposed, handed down, or on sale–so all together, this makeover really wasn’t even that expensive! And it was easy to complete in just a few days, with the help of my husband and visiting mother-in-law.

Here are the befores (left) and afters (right) one more time, all side by side:

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Modpodge Map Letters

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I am so excited about this project! It turned out pretty much just like I envisioned, and it was easy and really inexpensive. Win-win!

I bought 12″ papier mache letters at Joann. My local store didn’t have the letters I wanted, so I got them online.

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Sometime in the last year or two, I remembered finding some beautiful travel-themed wrapping papers that might look neat framed–Cavallini papers on Paper Source. So I decided to use some of those to decoupage onto the letters. It was tough to decide which ones to use–some of the maps? some of the vintage postcards? I settled on using two of the same, and to use a US map.

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This was the first time I’d ever bought my own jar of Mod Podge! I got two sponge applicators, which didn’t fit inside the jar–duh. Next time I’ll compare the two.  🙂 I chose the Matte finish because I figured up on the wall, the shiny might look weird.

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I had to decide where to place the map for where it would lay on the letters. I wanted mostly land and not a ton of water to show up, so both of the letters ended up being a big chunk of the middle (slightly different chunks, though–I didn’t want them matchy-matchy).

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I cut off some of the far edges to make it easier to work with, but not too much, so that I would have plenty to work with on the sides. Then I made a few cuts to correspond to some of the edges, so I could match it up on the blank side.

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I brushed on a light coat of the Mod Podge.

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I put the gluey side of the letter down on the back of the paper, lined up with the cuts (which was kind of difficult). I made a few more cuts and started folding the paper up and around/over the edges, and Mod Podging them down.

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There were several places where the paper overlapped, so I just cut and folded edges over the others. This was the hardest part–figuring out where to cut and where to fold. I probably should have tested some cuts with plain paper first to see how to get the best coverage. But eh, whatever, I wanted to just get it done, and naptime doesn’t last forever. 🙂

Also, for some emptier places on the sides, I glued down another, separate map piece, so that more of the letter would be covered.

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Then I did a few coats of Mod Podge on the back and then the front, letting each dry.

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I think they turned out quite nicely! (Not perfectly though; some of the edges aren’t smooth or even, and some of the folds/cuts weren’t ideal. But it would be so easy and inexpensive if I ever wanted to re-do them, if I ever decided to be super picky and perfectionist.)

I used a picture hanging hook and nail to put them up on the wall.

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Here they are in situ in the babies’ new and improved room:

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Again, I am so excited! I want to do more Mod Podging now!

Pinspiration: Desserts

I joined Pinterest mainly for photography inspiration. But I kept seeing people post amazing food/cooking/baking and reluctantly began pinning those too. I don’t really cook, but in the past few years I’ve enjoyed doing some baking and trying out tasty new desserts. (Dessert is the best food group, don’t you think?) I know that sweets aren’t the healthiest thing, but it’s got to be better to have real ingredients from your own kitchen instead of processed, store-bought stuff. Right? That’s what I tell myself anyway. Of course we have plenty of goodies from a store too, but it’s fun to make our own sometimes. Just because.

-#1

A couple months ago I was in need of something chocolatey and decided that it couldn’t hurt to try out one of the mug brownie recipes floating around out there. It’s super quick, uses a very small amount of ingredients, and way easy. So if it didn’t work, no skin off my flour jar, so to speak.

Here’s the mug brownie pin, and the original recipe source:

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It sure was easy, and it was almost tasty. I think I nuked it for 90 seconds, and it tasted  burned. But I could tell that there was yumminess close by! So I think next time, if I try one minute it will be better. Probably depends on your microwave. That just means you need to have several trials–oh darn!

-#2

Last week or thereabouts, I saw a pin for No Bake Peanut Butter Bars.

Original recipe source:

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Oh snap! Anything PB/chocolate is food of the gods as far as I’m concerned. I was in a baking mood last week and had to pick up a few ingredients (boxed graham cracker crumbs) at the store in order to make them.

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It was pretty easy to put everything together. I wasn’t sure if I’d gotten everything to the right consistency–the peanut butter layer especially was not smooth. And I probably should have melted the chocolate topping a bit more.

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However, the final product looked just like the original picture, so it all worked out.

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Delicious. DEE-LICIOUS. So delicious it was all I could do to *only* eat two (generously-cut) pieces at a time. This would be a great dessert to bring to a get-together so that other people eat some of it. 🙂

– #3

Summer is a great time of year for baking, with all the fresh produce (especially here in the PNW where so much is local). We got a big box of peaches at Trader Joe’s and I figured that we may not be able to eat all of them before they went bad, so that meant I would have to make a peach dessert. Oh shucks. I scrolled through my pins and found this: Peach Pie Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Original recipe source:

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Wow! That sounded amazing. I have a great muffin recipe from a friend, but I figure it’s always good to find more. These promised to be high and fluffy, and looked extra delicious.

Well. I think I did something wrong.

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This was my first time browning butter…and obviously I did it wrong. The glaze is indeed brown, but in the pictures from the recipe, it looks light-colored or clear. Oh well. Clearly I’m still a baking beginner! I also think they didn’t bake long enough–they were almost too moist, like a little uncooked. Not as fluffy and light as the recipe looked. This is one of the recipes where you’re not supposed to overmix–and I probably did. Oops again.

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But they were still fairly tasty. Hey, a fresh peach muffin is always a good thing, right?

Feel free to follow me on pinterest and share your best yummy pins below!

Weekend Project: Baby Room

Before:

Ugly paint color. Sickly yellow green that is reminiscent of baby poo. Kind of dark even in the light of day. Piles of things I’ve been accumulating.

Corner of my own stuff

Bookshelf with kid/picture books and all my YA books

Ugh, seriously, that paint color!

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Important intermediate steps:

Organize everything we bought and were given, into a few clear bins

Put crib together

Pile soft things in crib

Pile bins and other things around the crib in the middle of the room

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 Getting started:

We found a cheap edger tool at Walmart (something like this) and figured it was worth a try. DUDES, it was so awesome. I’ve done a lot of painting in my day, and a lot of taping and tedious edgework. This eliminates all of that, for under five bucks. Swipe and bam, edge is done!

My mom was here for two days to help paint and other things. My dad brought down some furniture this afternoon. Andy’s parents sent his old Winnie the Pooh wall hangings. I like how this room became a family affair. 🙂

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After:

New, bright paint: Behr Breath of Spring, one gallon

Bins of clothes and supplies on dresser (I bought that dresser back in…2003? 2004? and it’s been in storage at my dad’s since) (Clothes will be washed and put into dresser, after we try to fix a piece under the top drawer)

Crib holding stuffed animals and blankets (temporarily! unsafe crib environment blah blah)

Two FERLE rugs from IKEA

Wooden rocking chair from the 1970s, and so comfortable

We bought some cute curtains but need the rod/hardware to put them up

 The pile of my things are still there (and maybe inside the closet as well…). Will have to figure out what to do with that stuff, but that can wait.

I am really happy with how it looks, and that it’s basically set up and the big stuff is ready to go. We still need to buy a few little things and set up a changing table station on top of the dresser, and figure out where to store supplies.

But what a HUGE difference from before, and that is such a HUGE relief. Yay!

Pinterest Pressure

The word “nursery” kind of makes me shudder.

One, because it’s so twee and cutesy. Two, because it implies the lot of care, attention, time and money required to create it. Like it requires a Capital Letter N of Importance. That it must have fresh pastel paint, a full set of new matching furniture, a  cute theme. Thoughtfully chosen baby-friendly artwork on walls, and themed toys perched just-so on shelves and surfaces–things like owls, giraffes, flowers, wooden trucks. Practically what Pinterest was invented for.

See?

I do not have a nursery. To be honest, I still stumble on saying the word ‘babies’ out loud. We do have a room for the…babies. I wasn’t even thinking about decorating it or trying to create something cute and pretty and adorable and nursery-y.

And then I realized that I should. That it’s something everyone does or is supposed to. This made my heart sink a little–we are trying to be budget-conscious and really, we’re not the cutesy type. But then I found myself looking at a friend’s nursery pinboard and seeing all the very cute things out there. With dismay. I did create a…baby board, but with the promise to myself that I would not seek out or pin those cutesy, expensive things that I just can’t (or don’t want to) do. If I had the money, maybe I would.

I decided we had to paint. The bedrooms in our house are all painted different colors, and the baby room is a sickly yellow-green. I found myself envisioning a happy, sea-foam-y green room with all white furniture. With some kind of theme that I could magically come up with. Dammit, Pinterest!

The trim around the window, closet and door is ugly, porous, regulation brown wood. I got an IKEA crib on craigslist (saving us about $40) which is a birch color, and told Andy that we needed to paint it white. My dad is bringing down some furniture next weekend, including an old white IKEA dresser of mine, plus the beautiful wooden rocking chair that I myself was rocked in as a baby, so it’s well over thirty years old. It’s kind of a golden color; maybe it’s pine? It’s shiny and looks practically new, and of course I wouldn’t paint it. There is a bookshelf in that room with a bunch of my books on it, but it’s black. I thought–very briefly–about painting it or covering it in white paint, before realizing that here lies madness. Again, damn you, Pinterest!

We did buy wall paint, a happy, sea-foam-y green. I’m actually bummed that I can’t do any of the painting, because I quite enjoy it, I’m good at it, and Andy hasn’t really done much. My mom is coming next week to help us get stuff ready, so now that will include helping us (well, him) paint. I promised to do the taping, since that’s about all I can do.

We have to put together the crib, and I want to sort through all the clothes and gifts we have received and bought. Currently they’re in piles, bags and boxes in the baby room. We need a rug–the floor is a kind of fake wood and needs a covering.

So I’m trying to re-set my expectations–we’ll get the basics of furniture together, and it will be functional. At some point maybe I’ll make it cute.

…I just fell into a thirty-minute rabbit hole of Pinterest browsing! Dammit!

The other thing I want to do is photos. This should not be a surprise if you know even a little bit about me. This will/should be the only time I’ll be pregnant, and I would love to have beautiful, professional photos of me and my belly to commemorate it. I haven’t done a ton of shots of myself, what with the move and settling in. I could play with some studio-type shots here at home, I suppose, but I don’t have a ton of equipment or wrap/clothes. And I can try to set up a few shots of Andy and me together, but I would rather have someone else do the cute posing of us together in some lovely outdoor location (now that the rains have started, of course).

We don’t really have the money for this. However, I am willing to spend my own money for a newborn photo session, since I don’t think I’ll be physically able to do much photography on my own. (Which will kill me. I’m sure I will try anyway and/or direct Andy to try and get a few.) And they only ever get bigger, so I know I will want some gorgeous photos of this first phase.

Did I mention that we need a second car? Mine is 14 years old, hardly worth anything, and needs work both big, medium and small (which will all together cost almost as much as the car is ‘worth’). For example, the felt interior ceiling is falling down, and the back tires need replacing. We will be looking for a newer but used SUV type car with plenty of room for car seats, stroller, and assorted other crap. These vehicles do not come cheap.

Man, being rich would make life so much easier right now. And so much cuter.