Inspiration for a DIY Lego Table

After a bit of a project hiatus, I’m ready to jump back into some DIY. First up is a time-sensitive project for my kids that is going to stretch my creative muscles a bit and be pretty FUN at the same time because it all revolves around: play time!

Our playroom has gone through many changes over the years and has evolved as our kids have grown. LJ and Vi are only 21 months apart in age, so their toys have always been pretty interchangeable and have leveled-up at roughly the same time.

As they have both grown, we have slowly added more developmentally-appropriate toys.

I never worried about Vi choking on a small piece of LJ’s toy, because it simply didn’t exist in our home. What was safe for Vi was also safe for LJ and vice-versa and we were very intentional about that.

We’re in a different stage of life now. They are 5 and 3 and each have toys with small parts and tiny pieces that are fine for them, but definitely not for Ollie. Since Ollie is (quickly!) approaching the stage of crawling and will likely also be putting things he encounters into his mouth, it’s time to adjust the playroom setup once again and move all the toys with tiny pieces out.

The most urgent thing we needed to address was the LEGOS. Oh my word, Legos have completely invaded our lives. LJ is obsessed with building little farms and houses created all these little setups around the playroom. It was adorable and chaotic and also, no longer safe around Ollie. Last week we finally moved all the Legos into the basement, but they’re currently just everywhere down there and don’t really have any central workspace or storage anymore.

We had previously been using the train table for Lego storage in the playroom and it worked really well at first – it provided a nice flat tabletop to work and Legos could be stored underneath. Plus, LJ’s growing love of Legos coincided with his fading interest in trains so it was nice to use this table for multiple phases of life. Now, the Lego collection has outgrown what can fit on and in the table (plus, I imagine that Ollie might have an interest in trains in a year or two, so I’d like the train table to be available for the train/truck/car stage if he wants) so it’s time to come up with a different solution.

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration and am starting to hone in on a vision for our Lego storage. I’m leaning towards a freestanding table to allow multiple kids to work and move around the space. I love the idea of including shelves for storage, like this Ikea hack from If Only April:

Image Source: If Only April

I also love the idea of something totally custom and built to a size that exactly fits the flat baseplates with a rim around the edge to keep tiny pieces from falling off. Maybe something like a larger version of this DIY Lego Table from Love Create Celebrate?

Image Source: Love Create Celebrate

This table will be in our basement, which is an easy way to keep things separate from Ollie in our daily life; however, the basement is still our main area for entertaining. We often have other families over and so Ollie will still occasionally be down there (not to mention other little ones) and even though that will always be supervised, I still want to make sure whatever solution we come up with has the option to tuck away all the Legos safely.

The reason this project is time-sensitive is because the Legos are already in the basement and we’re hosting a big Super Bowl party on Sunday. Yes, this Sunday. Six days from now Sunday. Can we get this finished in time? I sure hope so! I’ll be posting real-time progress this week on Instagram so if you want to see how we’re doing on this goal, you can follow along there!

New Sconces for the Living Room

Our living room sconces are installed and I’m in love!

For the first 3.5 years of living in this house, we had no permanent light source in the living room. The ceiling fixture was simply a fan and the only other source of light was lamps. The previous owners had wired all outlets to be “half hot” and connected to a light switch so that the switch could turn lamps on and off, but we basically never used that feature and would turn lamps on and off individually.

Even with multiple lamps in use, Justin and I never felt like the living room was well lit enough so I’ve been excited to add better lighting basically since day one of moving in. First up was removing the old ceiling fan and replacing with a six-globe chandelier when we painted the ceiling back in November. This made a huge difference in making our ceiling a dramatic statement and bringing lots of light to the room!

Notice the mismatched lamps – functionally, we needed them, but aesthetically, they weren’t the greatest. We actually used to just have a small table lamp on the door side until it fell and broke one day and I had to get a replacement floor lamp. I didn’t want to spend money on a matching set since I eventually wanted sconces, so we just lived with the mismatched look. The lamps always felt in the way – one made it difficult to open and close that side door and the other made it both physically congested in a corner with lots of wires (we use that outlet for charging computers and tablets) and visually congested with the side table and window.

Justin swapped out the old ceiling fan for the chandelier but when it came to hardwiring sconces, we knew we needed a professional. I chose these sconces from Rejuvenation during a recent sale and we hired an electrician to come and hardwire them behind the couch. I knew I would love having sconces, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d love having them. They allow us to free up floor space and remove the visual clutter the lamps caused, they operate via light switch (the same light switch that previously operated lamps but we never used), they give the massive wall some much-needed interest, and of course, they bring so much great light to the living room!

I used 3000K, 500 lumen candelabra lightbulbs and they give the perfect amount of warmth in the mornings and evenings.

Now that the sconces are in, it’s time to decide what I want to put on the wall in between them. I’ve always pictured one massive piece of artwork instead of a gallery wall but wanted to wait until the sconces were actually installed before making any final decisions. The wall is so massive that I feel it really needs a statement piece to ground it a bit. Right now this print is a top contender but I’m still playing around with ideas.

The living room continues to be a string of slow and steady design decisions and while there are still several things to address, I’m super happy with how it’s coming together.

Reveal: A Mountain Mural for the Kids’ Bedroom!

The first project of 2023 is complete! When my parents asked to take the big two kids for the weekend, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to tackle a lingering project in their bedroom: the blank wall behind their dresser. I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons working on a mountain mural and love how it turned out!

The other three walls in the room have a 2/3 colorblocked look and I’ve been wanting to make the wall behind the dresser an accent wall. I tried wallpaper but ran into some issues and lost motivation for a while. I got the idea to do a mountain mural and after seeing a few other pictures online, my inspiration was renewed! Mountains are important to both Justin and me. He grew up in a beautiful valley in Virginia surrounded by mountains, and I went to college there and fell in love with the views. I also did a study abroad in India and spent some time in the foothills of the Himalayas – it was an awe-inspiring experience I’ll never forget. Additionally, we lived in West Virginia for the first three years of our marriage and loved spending our free time hiking and exploring. Mountains signify both home and adventure to us and I want our kids to feel the same way, so it felt like the perfect choice for their bedroom.

I wanted this to be a quick, $0 project so I went through my entire stash of paint and collected colors that felt like they would go together and work with the other colors in the room. I had a general idea of what I wanted the mural to look like, but I didn’t trace or map out anything and instead decided to just freehand and see what happened.

The beauty of a no-plan plan is that mountain ridges are jagged and unique, so really anything goes. Even if I made a “mistake” it ended up looking intentional and worked! As I went I would add and take away based on what was looking right to me; in some cases, I ended up painting over part of a mountain or changing a ridgeline by cutting in other paint. I even ended up altering the top gray ridge by painting back over some of it with the white wall color.

I expected to do two coats of all the paint, but I ended up liking the swirly, more abstract look of one coat of paint on some of the ridges, so I left those alone after one coat.

I painted the light switch and outlet cover the same color as the mountain ridge behind each one. The picture below also shows the one thing I did plan out – I kept the line from the connecting walls as a start for that same blue color. It lines up on both sides as a kind of continuation of the straight line into the mountain ridge. I also used that color as the bottom paint color along the baseboard so it matched the baseboards.

This was a pretty quick, easy, and inexpensive project and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but then again, neither are real-life mountains. šŸ˜‰ My kids love it!

I thought this wall would be the last project of the room but…now that I see things in place, there’s a lot of blue happening. There’s also a lot of painted surfaces, so I want to see if I can strip the paint off the dresser (a Marketplace find from 7 years ago) to see about staining it a dark wood color. Just like the mural itself – we’ll just see what happens!

For anyone wondering, here are the paint colors I used:

1 – SW Silver Strand

2 – Custom Color

3 – SW Blonde

4 – SW Nordic Bleu

5 – SW Quaint Peche

6 – BM Steep Cliff Gray

7 – SW Alpaca

8 – SW Foggy Day

9 – SW Mannered Gold

10 – SW Nordic Bleu

White wall color: SW Iconic White

Ten Simple, Inexpensive Ways to Freshen Up Your Home

All my Christmas decorations are down and my house feels ready for a fresh start – all I want to do is clean, purge, organize, and just freshen things up around here! What I do not want to do is spend a lot of money.

The Christmas season is so fun, but it can get expensive. Gifts, food, travel, experiences, holiday cards . . . it all adds up and January feels like a time I not only want to reset my home, but reset my budget. I’ve been thinking about ways to give my house a little refresh without spending money (or at least spending very little) and I came up with ten things to do. These things are either free or low-cost and I thought I’d share them today in case you’re also looking for easy, inexpensive ways to give your home a little refresh.

These ten things are what I’m doing now to refresh my home for the new year, but they can all be done at any time throughout the year!

Add in Seasonal Greenery

Faux seasonal greenery can be purchased from a variety of stores and there are items out there for lots of different budgets, but the most budget-friendly option is: head outside! This is obviously a bit easier in the summer, when there are abundant types of tree, bush, or flowering plants to collect from, but it’s still possible in the fall and winter. For example, you can snip a few branches from an evergreen tree or winter berry tree or collect pinecones to display in a bowl. If you plan ahead a bit, you can dry some flowers or leaves to use too. I dried hydrangeas from our yard last year and they looked great all winter long! I’m currently loving the look of dried fern stems in our bedroom and also kept an unlit, potted evergreen tree on display instead of packing it up with the rest of my holiday decor (when you subtract lights and ornaments, it feels wintery instead of Christmas-y!)

Clean Out Your Fridge

Since we were going to Virginia for a week over Christmas, I purposely tried to get our fridge stash super low so food wouldn’t just spoil when we were gone (although it wasn’t as empty as that first picture – I had already started taking things out to wipe down!) This ended up being a great time to just clear out all the remaining items and give every shelf and drawer a good wipe down. Pull everything out of your fridge, wipe down all shelves, drawers and items (whyyyyy does my ketchup bottle always get so sticky and gross?) and check dates before you put things back in. It’s so satisfying to open my fridge now and know it’s clean and nothing is expired. Also, I know I’m not the only one who gets on a health kick for the new year . . . here’s hoping my fridge still contains this many vegetables in August, ha!

Change Up Your Textiles

Swapping out bedding is such an easy way to freshen up the whole feel of your room. I love cotton and linen in the spring and summer, but once temperatures drop, I’m a flannel girl. I usually choose simple, graphic patterns so they’re easy to mix and match in different seasons and spaces. Adding wool or knit blankets to beds or couches in the winter feels so cozy too – I expect to use this vintage pink-and-cream checked wool blanket all over my house this winter! If you don’t have extra sheets on hand to swap out and don’t want to buy a whole new set, you can separately purchase pillowcases that coordinate with your existing bedding for a fresh, mix-and-match feel.

And speaking of textiles . . .

Launder Infrequent Items

You likely wash your sheets regularly, but what about your duvet cover, quilt, or comforter? What about throw pillow covers or the blanket that hangs out on the couch? Maybe it’s just me, but I recently realized there are a lot of textiles in my home that rarely get cleaned! The last time I did laundry, I was pulling things out of my hamper, which has a cloth liner. I noticed that the bottom of the liner was looking super dingy and realized I hadn’t washed it in . . . ever? I tossed it in with the load of laundry and it looks so fresh and clean now! It’s a little thing that makes a big difference. My goal this week is to go through our house and wash all the textiles I can find – all bedding, removable throw pillow covers, blankets, hot pads, oven mitts, small accent rugs, etc. – to give everything a fresh start.

Clean Out a Drawer or Cabinet

It can feel daunting to declutter, so keep it small and manageable and start with just one drawer or cabinet. Take everything out, wipe it down, and only put back in what you need (bonus points if you can add some method of organization to keep it this way and even more bonus points if you can donate any item still in good condition so someone else can use it!) It’s amazing to me how empowering it can feel to get a small space in order – it will make your house feel more streamlined, functional, and fresh! It also just might motivate you to tackle another drawer, cabinet, closet, or room. šŸ™‚

Test all your Writing Utensils

How frustrating is it to be searching for a writing utensil to jot something down quickly, only to find a broken pencil tip or pen with dried out ink? This is a great time to go through your house with a little notepad and sharpener and test every writing utensil. Sharpen dulled pencils and toss pens that don’t work anymore. It’s an easy task that will eliminate the inconvenience of reaching for something that doesn’t work, and it can also help you corral pens and pencils that have made their way to random spots around your house, making it feel so fresh and organized.

Rearrange!

When your eyes are used to seeing the same thing in the same spot everyday, it’s easy to not even really notice it anymore. You know when you take the same drive every day and then one day you suddenly realize “whoa, I’ve never noticed that house/barn/unusual thing before!” It’s been there, but you’ve just driven by the same thing day after day and haven’t really registered it. The same is true in your house. We get used to a certain arrangement and we stop really even noticing what we have. One of my favorite free ways to freshen up my home is to shop my own stuff and rearrange – it creates a fresh feel but also a renewed appreciation for what I already had! This can be as big as rearranging furniture, either within the room or moving something to a different room, or as small as just moving a piece of artwork or a plant from one spot to another. Try not to get stuck on things “but this is the blanket I’ve always kept on this chair in my living room” – it might look fantastic on your bed too! Trust me, even if you’ve had the artwork/decor/piece of furniture for years, it can feel fresh and new just by moving to a new location in your home.

Incorporate Seasonal Art

I love original art and will always encourage supporting and purchasing from artists if and when you can, but it’s also nice to find inexpensive ways to add quality art to your home. I’ve recently been introduced to an extremely cost-effective way to add some art to your home: the public domain!

Did you know there are millions of pieces of artwork in the public domain? Generally speaking, art becomes public domain 70 years after the death of the artist; what this means is the artwork becomes free of copyright restrictions. Museums like the Met and Smithsonian release it into the public domain and it’s free for you to use and reproduce without permission (I would include the caveat that it’s still important to credit the original artist every time!) The plus side of using public domain artwork over a digital download from a print shop is that it is completely free to download the image, but in exchange, you are giving up the curation that print shops provide. It’s daunting to sift through millions of images! I was thrilled to discover that A Home is Announced has a free curated public domain shop – she has taken the time to curate some beautiful public domain work that you can sift through and download what you like. It’s a great place to start when first exploring public domain art!

I searched through her shop and found five different pieces of artwork that felt like “winter” to me. I downloaded them (for free!) and had them printed at my local FedEx print shop on a matte cardstock for less than $2.50 per print. I put them in various frames I’ve thrifted over the years (anywhere from $1-$3 typically) and voila! Beautiful seasonal artwork for about $5 a piece, and it will be easy to swap out a different print in the frame if I want a change in another season.

Wipe down switch plates, door handles, and wall scuffs

Okay this isn’t an exciting one, but it can make a big difference! These high-contact surfaces get dingy over time and it often happens so gradually that we don’t notice it. Walk around with a multipurpose cleaner and cloth for the knobs and switches and a Magic Eraser for the wall scuffs and see what a big difference it can make!

Swap out scents

This one might be obvious, but changing up the scents in your home is a simple way to make your home feel fresh. Whether you use a candle or diffuser – scent is powerful and can make a big difference!

It might seem like these are all little things that won’t make much difference, but I’m a firm believer that refreshing the way your home feels can affect the way you and your family feel, and that is no small thing! I’ve already done a few things on this list over the past few days, and I will be checking off the remining items in the coming week or so. My home already feels so much better for me and my family, and I hope these ideas do the same for you and yours.

My 2023 Project Goal List

Good morning and Happy New Year!

I love the new year – fresh starts and goal-setting are so inspiring to me. It’s the perfect time to set some intentions for what I want to accomplish in both my personal life and in our home. I’ve typically shared all my goals on the blog each year but this year I’m sticking to just the goals I have for our home – looking at the list, there is definitely a recurring theme of storage! It might not be the flashiest or most exciting thing to add, but I am a big believer that if you can edit your things to only what you need in your home AND store them in a way that works for your family, your home will run so much more smoothly. Now that we’ve lived in this home nearly four years, I have a clear idea of how we actually use the space and what solutions we need to put in place to make it more streamlined.

Here’s a look at the things I’m hoping to accomplish in 2023 – whether they’re storage-related or not, I’m very excited for all these upcoming projects!

Finish the Accent Wall in the Kids’ Shared Bedroom

Last year, we moved LJ and Vi into a shared room and it is sooooo close to being finished. I originally planned a wallpaper accent wall that didn’t pan out and I was stuck in an uninspired rut for a long time afterward. I have renewed energy to paint a fun mural instead, so this wall is first up on my list of projects to accomplish this year. (Step One: Take down all the Christmas decor!)

Get the Foyer Painted

This is a carryover from last year’s project list. I painted the bottom level of the foyer back in March 2021 but due to the height of the walls and configuration of the stairs, I can’t handle painting the rest myself. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve lived with a half-painted foyer for this long but it’s reached the point where I’m so used to it that it doesn’t even register in my brain anymore. It’s WAY PAST time to wrap up this project and I’m really hoping to hire it out and have it painted by March.

Finish Up the Living Room

I started working on a Phase One upgrade of the living room in the fall but there are some lingering projects to work on. I need to paint the windows and replace the window trim, as well as figure out a new buffet/TV stand situation. We also have some sconces to install and I hope to get on our electrician’s schedule soon to get them hardwired. Progress will likely continue to be slow and steady over the first part of the year as this phase takes shape.

Replace the Basement Carpet

The majority of our basement is carpeted, and that carpet is past its prime. It’s a high-pile shag, which is hard to keep clean when dirt and sand gets tracked in from outside. It has multiple stains throughout the rooms and is pulling up in random places, creating the look of ripples. I’ve wanted to replace it pretty much since Day One of moving in and this is the year we are budgeting to finally do it! Our deadline is May, because we will need to move all the Legos and tiny toys out of the playroom and down to the basement as Ollie gets to the crawling (and putting things in his mouth!) stage. I’m very much looking forward to checking this off the list!

Finish the Guest Room Stencil

Another carryover from last year’s list, I’m determined to finally wrap up this project! Summer tends to be when we have the most guests come to stay with us so I’m making it a goal to finish by Memorial Day.

Create a Workout Room

Our basement has always been (and will always be!) multipurpose. It’s a space for our overnight guests, it’s a space for entertaining, it’s a space to hang out. We moved here in 2019, so due to the pandemic we really haven’t hosted as much as we expected to, but we’re getting to the point now where we’re entertaining more and more down here. Add in the fact that we’re moving more of the kids small toys (Legos, marbles, etc) down there and the uses of the space are shifting once again. For the past two years Justin and I have worked out in the large main space, but it’s time to move our stationary bike, mats, and free weights to their own dedicated space. We don’t have an obvious room for a home gym, but after living here for a few years and thinking through options, I’m ready to transform our basement storage room to meet this need. This storage room has been a hot haphazard mess since the day we’ve moved in – it’s like our Room of Requirement + Monica’s closet (if you know, you know!) and I cringe every time I walk in. It’s going to involve a lot of organizing and re-structuring our storage solutions, which brings me to . . .

Clean Out + Update Storage in Our Garage

Our garage is huge but doesn’t really have any great storage solutions. We’ve been working with what we’ve had for the past few years but it’s time to make it functional for how we actually use it, not how the previous owners did. We’re going to clean it out and add some DIY shelving so we can make this a really functional space for storing all the things! I never would have thought I’d be so excited to renovate a garage but here we are. šŸ™‚

Update the Patio

We have big dreams for our outdoor space. It’s our #1 hangout in the summer and whether we’re hosting someone or just hanging out there as a family, we use it every nice day in the summer. We eventually want to expand the patio area, add a mini outdoor kitchen, and expand the deck area down by the pond. While this likely isn’t going to be the year to actually do all that, we’re going to start getting some quotes to at least start planning it out. This year I want to start with a few smaller changes to the patio by adding string lights and planter boxes to define the space and make it feel nice and cozy. We also need some (yep, here it is again!) storage solutions out there for all our grilling tools, fishing equipment, swimming floats, and sand toys.

Cheers to all that is to come in 2023!!

Looking Back at my 2022 Projects & Goals

We only have two more weeks in 2022 (!!) and next week I’ll be taking a break from the blog as I soak up lots of family time so today felt like a great time to check in on the goals I set at the beginning of 2022. I started the year with several house projects on my to-do list, as well as a few personal and family goals. Overall, I’m counting this year as a big success!

Goals for Our Home

While this year didn’t have any major renovations like previous years, I did make quite a bit of progress in some rooms in our house.

Update the Flooring

I’m giving myself partial credit for this goal. Justin and I decided to prioritize some different financial goals this year, which put the major flooring plans on hold for now. We have hopes to update the basement carpet in 2023 and address the entire main floor level in 2024, but we did proceed with updating the carpet in the nursery and LJ & Vi’s shared bedroom. It made a huge difference in both spaces! I’m excited to continue to update flooring throughout our house over the next few years.

Main Floor Powder Room

This project just never felt like a priority for me, and I don’t have specific inspiration for the room yet, so it got bumped from my 2022 to-do list. Maybe I’ll get inspired to tackle it in 2023? It also might just be on hold until the main floor level gets updated flooring – we’ll see!

Finish the Guest Room Stencil

I made some progress on this goal this year, but did not complete it. Part of the reason I stopped is because I’m still not sure if I want to continue the stencil all the way around the room or stay with just the two walls shown. Either way, I need to just commit some time to finishing up in 2023. We did upgrade the bed + mattress from a full to a queen with all new bedding and every guest who has stayed with us since has commented on how cozy and comfortable it is is so I’m counting that as a big win.

Update the Kids’ Bedrooms

This goal is approximately 95% complete! LJ and Vi moved into a shared bedroom this year and it got quite the glow up: matching twin beds, curtains, sconces, carpet, and updated storage, bedding, and artwork. The only thing left on my list to address is the wall behind the dresser – it was originally going to be wallpapered, but that project lost steam after a mishap with the order. I have a new idea for this wall now and I’m feeling very inspired so look for that to be one of the first things I tackle in 2023!

As for the nursery, I had so much fun preparing the room for a baby boy (it was the first time we ever found out the sex in advance!) and I love how it turned out. I painted the walls, hung curtains, collected artwork, hung bookshelves, updated the dresser, thrifted an amazing windowpane chair, and then recently tweaked a few things with some vintage brass items and a woven hamper. It feels finished . . . for now. šŸ™‚

Have the Foyer Painted

I made zero progress on this goal, but rest assured it is a top priority for 2023! Our foyer has been halfway painted since March 2021 and I’m determined to get it finished before the two year mark.

Update the Living Room

It’s slow, but progress is happening in this room! I have painted the walls and ceiling and we installed a new chandelier. We’ve also spoken to an electrician about hardwiring some sconces above the couch and in the new year I’ll be painting the windows and replacing trim. I haven’t felt a strong sense of urgency to finish since we currently have our Christmas tree set up in here, but once that’s down in the new year I know I’ll be itching to finish up this room.

Patio Updates

We did not end up making any changes to our main patio this year but we did DIY an umbrella stand with storage for the little deck down by the pond and we have used that SO much! It’s so nice to have some shade since we spend hours out there each day in the summer; I’m definitely still giving myself partial credit for this goal.

Bonus Projects I didn’t Plan On

There were a few things I accomplished this year that I didn’t have on my original list, but are still worth celebrating. First up, I helped my sister with several projects in her home this year:

We laid down peel & stick tile in her kitchen and it pulled the changes we made last year (painting the cabinets and walls, removing some top cabinetry and installing open shelving, painting the backsplash) together to make the space feel fresh.

In April I thrifted a $20 dresser and upgraded it for her nursery. Justin and I also DIYed a frame for a frameless mirror to complement it. Now that my sweet nephew is here, this gets a ton of use!

Most recently I helped her with transforming her guest bathroom in a single weekend. Using mostly paint and a few simple DIYs, we made this room feel like a completely new space that reflects her personality so well.

I completed a few small projects throughout the year too but my favorite one is the dollhouse I bought and re-vamped for my kids’ Christmas present. I cannot wait to give it to them this weekend!

Personal Goals

Exercise at least 3x per week

Unfortunately, in my very full life right now, exercise is something that can too easily get pushed to the back burner. I am feeling really good after my third c-section and want to get back into regular exercise asap!

Buy thoughtfully and intentionally

I can honestly say that this goal has now become an ingrained part of my lifestyle. Whenever I need something, whether it be a gift, an item for my home, clothing for myself or my kids, or any other product, I first think: is there a sustainable or fair trade option? Can I buy it from a local business? Can I buy it secondhand and give new life to something? A few examples of things I’ve done this year are: switching to reusable fabric cotton rounds instead single-use ones, wrapping my presents in fabric, thrifting or renting nearly all my children’s clothing, shopping small, local businesses for gifts, and finding a gorgeous, fair-trade woven laundry basket and some vintage pieces for the nursery. Sometimes I can’t find something and I don’t drive myself crazy trying to be perfect. I have my fair share of big-box-store-bought items for sure, but it truly feels great anytime I can be a little more thoughtful with a purchase.

Prioritize Sleep

I’m not sure what I was thinking including this as a goal in the same year I have a newborn, ha! Ollie surprised us though and it our best sleeper by far so my sleep tank isn’t as depleted as I expected. I don’t always go to bed as early as I hope, but it has helped tremendously to be conscious of timing falling asleep with my REM cycle so I don’t wake up super groggy. I’ve also started using an actual alarm clock instead of my phone to check the time if I wake up in the middle of the night so that helps to not stimulate my brain and disrupt sleep too much. These little habits have definitely helped me sleep better!

Update the Blog Menu

This goal is finished! I updated the entire blog menu earlier in the year AND I’m giving myself an extra gold star because I’ve actually been able to maintain it and keep things updated as new posts get added. It’s now more organized and streamlined and (hopefully) easier for readers to navigate.

Family Goals

Take our first family vacation!

I’m giving us extra stars for this because we did a few trips this year! We went on our first family-of-four vacation to Disney World in February and had an incredible time.

In June, we went to the beach with Justin’s family AND took a trip with one of Justin’s high school buddies and his family to Maryland. We swam in the ocean played in the sand and went for hikes and took boat rides and just enjoyed adventuring as a family – it can be exhausting to travel with kids but it is also so much fun and I’m looking forward to more of it in our future!

Dates with Our Kids

Justin and I are really good about this . . . kind of. Ha! It has kind of naturally fallen into him doing lots of dates with LJ and me doing lots with Vi, which is great! But I also want us to switch and me take LJ and he take Vi for more one-on-one time in those combinations.

Now that we have Ollie I’m also very proud of my “me + 3” dates where I take all three kids to do something. Our favorite place to go is the zoo but we also hit up lots of playgrounds and parks for picnics and little adventures. So fun!

Be Intentional with Making Life Feel Special

I’m a work in progress here, but it has been really fun to try to incorporate fun little things into our life this year. Holidays are so magical for our kids in this stage of life and I’ve enjoyed adding everything from simple Lucky Charms cereal at St Patrick’s Day to an incredibly fun and memorable advent activity calendar this month. It’s also been fun to try to add some special things into everyday life – I’ll take a blanket and picnic supplies to our playground trips and we started a family campfire tradition every week this fall. It’s been a really special year!

I’m ending this year on a grateful note – 2022 is the year we did many things, but the best thing that happened was welcoming Ollie into our family. It was a wonderful year and I’m looking forward to all that 2023 will bring!

A Few Small Nursery Updates

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been making a few small changes in the nursery. None of them have really warranted a full blog post on their own, but now that they’re all in place it felt like a good time for a little collective update!

First up, after three years in this house we finally have a laundry hamper in the nursery. Can you believe we never had one the entire time Vi used this room? Whenever we had dirty clothes I would just carry them into the kids’ room and toss them in that hamper. I found this lidded woven basket and it was love at first sight – the leather handle is a great detail, it’s well made and very high quality, and it’s fair trade! I also love how the woven texture brings an organic, natural feel to the room. It feels like the perfect fit. Since we have a diaper pail on the other side of the dresser, the hamper is currently sandwiched between the dresser and the door but once we’re out of the diaper stage, it will go on the other side of the dresser.

I also found this little brass elephant at a local vintage sale. I thought it was so sweet and a perfect little detail to add to the nursery!

Speaking of brass, when I first put the nursery together, I bought two vintage brass planters. I loved the look but felt like they were too small for the wall, so over the past few months I’ve been searching Etsy and purchasing more as I find them. I now have five and the wall feels much more proportioned! I love the collected look of various shapes and sizes.

This room doesn’t get great natural light (I had to turn the lights on to take pictures of the planters), but my first attempt with a real plant lived! Now that I have more planters, I decided to try adding another real plant. Can you guess which two plants are real?

I know the nursery will continue to evolve as Ollie grows and his needs change, but for now it feels like it’s at a good place! Although . . . is a room really ever done being tweaked? I think not šŸ™‚

A {semi} DIY Dollhouse for Christmas

This weekend I checked a big item off my Christmas to-do list: a semi-DIY dollhouse for LJ and Vi to share!

Last year for Christmas, Justin and I built a play kitchen for our kids. For Vi’s second birthday, I built her a wooden clothing rack to store her dress-up clothes (still proud of myself for doing that on my own!) For a while now, I have wanted the next big toy/gift to be a dollhouse and I thought it would be another thing we would make from scratch. Alas, when I started talking about my plans to Justin, he literally begged me not to tackle an entire dollhouse.

Justin is normally pretty supportive of my wild ideas (I mean, the guy did climb up on a 12-foot scaffold to help paint our living room ceiling) but he reeled me back in on this one by having me talk through all the logistics. His point was that our time is so limited these days with three kids, plus all the other Christmas activities we wanted to do as a family, attempting a dollhouse would make for a stressful, time-crunched project that would likely be way more involved than I initially thought (as most of my projects tend to be haha). It made me realize that yes, I could make a dollhouse from scratch, but would that outweigh the time and effort that it took from me in this particular season of our life? The answer is no, it wouldn’t be worth it. I decided to pivot and find a ready-made dollhouse.

I searched for gender-neutral options and found this dollhouse from Hape. It was the perfect solution – I loved the clean, minimal design and felt like it would be a great launching pad for lots of open-ended play for my kids. I also liked that I could immediately envision some ways to put my own little spin it. Truthfully, the house would have been just fine in its original, multicolored state, but the thought of still getting a little DIY in and making it my own felt like the best of both worlds! I ordered it a few weeks ago and then over this past weekend, I unboxed it and got to work.

I dug through my paint cabinet and pulled out various cans of extra paint I’ve used over the years. I taped out all the walls on the back and gave them one coat of primer and two coats paint. The trim is wood but the walls are a very glossy particleboard – think of an Ikea cabinet – and I wasn’t sure how well they would hold paint, but it ended up working great! I kept things simple on the back of the house and painted everything SW Urbane Bronze (the color from our living room ceiling).

On the front side, I taped out the three walls with windows in them and painted them three of my favorite colors from our house: SW Blonde (from our laundry room), SW Foggy Day (from our bedroom), and Farrow & Ball Treron (from my office). For the two walls with no windows, I decided to try to apply some extra peel-and-stick wallpaper I had on hand; one was leftover from our playroom, the other was a sample I never ended up using in our house. I applied the wallpaper the same way I would to a real wall – sprayed it down, folded it in half until the paste was activated, then unfolded and pressed it into place using a damp cloth. It worked like a charm!

Once the walls were done, I turned my attention to the smaller details. I painted the balcony railing and light fixture SW Tricorn Black, the front door Urbane Bronze with a Tricorn Black knob, and the little wall by the door SW Agreeable Gray (from our main floor trim). I also painted over the baby blue and white checkered floor to create an Urbane Bronze and Shoji White (from Ollie’s nursery ceiling) diamond pattern.

It’s not as vibrant as it was before, but with patterned floors and wallpapered walls, there is still a fun, whimsical combination of color going on.

I actually really loved the original roof for the dollhouse. It had solar panels and was reversible for the seasons – so charming! Once everything else was done though, the lime green just stood out like a sore thumb and made the whole house seem off. It pained me a little, but I painted the roof with the black spray paint I always have on hand. It was the right decision and the whole house feels cohesive now.

When I finally put everything together – I squealed. It looked even better than I imagined and seeing all the parts transform slowly paled in comparison to seeing the entire thing finally assembled.

I guess it makes sense, since I basically made a mini version of my own house, but I am so thrilled with how this turned out. It only took one weekend and some supplies I already had on hand, so it was definitely cheaper and less time-consuming than a completely-from-scratch version. I know my kids are going to love playing with it!

Using Fabric Scraps to Wrap Presents

With three weeks to go until Christmas, I’m about 90% done with my shopping and ready for the next phase: wrapping. I love a beautifully wrapped present and truly enjoy wrapping gifts for friends and loved ones. The biggest downfall for me is it always feels pretty wasteful to see the beautiful paper get ripped up and thrown in the trash. This year I decided to try something new – it’s inexpensive, sustainable, and pretty which is a win win win in my book!

A few months ago, I was wandered down the fabric aisle of my local thrift store. A large piece of fabric caught my eye – a plaid pattern with greens, reds, and golds that felt so festive without being obvious. I immediately was inspired and thought what if I used this for wrapping presents? Sure it’s not actually wrapping paper, but it could work, right? I bought the fabric for a couple bucks and started to look through the fabric sections every time I went thrifting, picking up a 1/2 yard here, a yard there, etc. Fabric scraps can be found in all sizes for just a dollar or two and soon I had a little collection of fabric for wrapping.

None of the patterns are actually Christmas-y. There’s no reindeer or Santa or holly or candy canes or anything like that, but I chose a variety of textures and patterns that together have an overall festive feel. I also got out my collection of ribbons – a couple rolls were new but I’ve also saved bits of twine and ribbons from gifts I’ve received over the years and thrifted some rolls as well (I thrifted that red and green plaid ribbon over 10 years ago!)

When it came to wrapping, it was basically the same process as with paper. I measured how much I needed for each present and cut the fabric to size.

I tested a few tapes and found that duct tape actually worked the best for fabric. I taped the initial edges directly to the box like I would with traditional wrapping paper and Scotch tape.

To hide the tape, I rolled it to tuck behind the final fold on each side.

I tied each package up with a ribbon, making sure to have the ribbon hold down the sides where I folded the fabric to keep everything securely wrapped.

That’s it! It’s super easy and basically the same process as with traditional paper. I love how all of the presents turned out! The collection of gifts looks unique and fun and I can’t wait to give them out this Christmas. It also makes me so happy to know this is very low waste – all of this wrapping material will be saved and used again for years to come.

Christmas Home Tour 2022

I’ve enjoyed taking a slow and steady approach to decorating for Christmas this year and have added bits and pieces to our home over the last week and a half. As of last night, I think I’m pretty much done (at least with all the major decorations), so today I thought I’d give you a little tour of our home decked out for Christmas!

I want my kids’ memories of Christmas in our home to feel magical so I definitely upped my game this year and concentrated on a few areas where I felt we’d get the most bang for our buck. I didn’t add things to every room. I didn’t add a single Christmas item in our basement. I specifically focused on the areas our family, particularly the kids, use the most. One of the biggest things I did was add ribbons and ornaments to existing decor – it was such a fun way to make things feel extra special without actually swapping out everything and since it’s higher than they can reach, it’s very kid-friendly.

This year my kids wanted to contribute a lot, especially with decorating the tree and dining room – it’s not perfect, but this house is our home and it feels festive and magical to us, which is the entire point. šŸ™‚ I didn’t take a picture of every single Christmas item in my house, but this will give you a very good glimpse at our home this season. Enjoy!

Kids’ Bedroom

I really wanted LJ and Vi’s shared bedroom to have some Christmas magic and one of the top things I wanted was a small tree with twinkle lights. I was pretty particular about size/looks (and I wanted to try to find one secondhand rather than buy new) so I started my search early and scoured thrift stores for a couple weeks. I eventually scored this cute little tabletop tree at a local vintage shop and is so perfect! I had fun thrifting cute kid-friendly ornaments and also bought a few new ones at a local small business.

LJ and Vi came with me to a local vintage sale and one of them spotted this little set of bottlebrush trees. They both insisted we get them and honestly, it was not hard to convince me! I think they look so cute on the dresser and the kids really love them.

We also have several Christmas-themed books that I always pull out in December and this year I’m keeping them all in the kids’ room for bedtime stories.

Main Floor

This year’s tree is very bottom-heavy with ornaments, but the kids had a blast hanging up as much as they could! Our big tree is always filled with sentimental ornaments and I love it.

I’ve never had a real tree or real garland before but I spotted some fresh cut cedar garland for sale at Costco and decided to give it a try. We made a dried orange garland as a family (well kind of – the kids did help for a few minutes ha!) and I hung it up around the cased opening between the living room and playroom. I LOVE it! Safe to say this will not be the last time I do this.

Normally I display the Christmas cards we receive but this year I’m keeping it simple with a vintage basket on our kitchen counter to collect cards and flip through them at our leisure.

On the first night of December we spent time as a family making paper snowflakes. It was so fun! I thought we’d hang them up on the windows but LJ was adamant that they should hang down from the ceiling and eventually he won me over. I’ll admit, there is something magical about the overall effect in person! I also love how perfectly imperfect the snowflakes are. The kids were so proud of their work and every snowflake, regardless of how it turned out, got hung up. It might not look picture-perfect but it makes us all feel warm and fuzzy so it’s just right for us.

I put together an advent activity calendar for our family thanks to some free printables I found and it’s hanging in our office. It’s been so fun to do!

And of course, Macie enjoys snuggling up with our Christmas-y blankets and pillows.

Now I’m off to sneak upstairs and try to start wrapping presents without getting caught!