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Toddler Room

Recently we moved Afton into her big girl room. I wasn’t sure how ready she was but I knew I needed her out of her crib and comfortable in her new digs before baby #2 so into the big girl room she went. A lot of planning went into this room. I knew it just couldn’t be any boring room. This had to be her escape, her play room, her solace away from a screaming baby and tired mommy. It had to be her favorite room in the whole house. I had a big job ahead of me and limited space to work with. I wanted to incorporate her favorite things: her books, her love of art and crafts, and all her familiar toys that have been a part of her life for almost two years now. I new I wanted all her clothes and things stored safely inside her closet. I didn’t want a dresser taking up valuable play area real estate and I didn’t want to worry about entering her room in the morning to find all her clean clothes thrown all over the place. All of the ideas from this room came from either Pinterest, IKEA, or Etsy.

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This part of her room is very special. The Expedit shelves from IKEA were turned on their side to house all her favorite books, the yellow dollar store baskets hold all her toys that used to be thrown all over our living room, the photo collage wall is comprised of family pictures, hangings that I hand made, children’s literature quotes (Harry Potter, The Velveteen Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh), an excerpt from her namesake “Flow Gently Sweet Afton” and one of the frames holds the first coloring she ever doodled. The cherry on top is the gray “A” that sits on the shelf. This entire wall cost under $100.

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This wall is the artsy side of the room. Her dry erase art easel sits in the corner and the gray chalkboard table and chairs was purchased from IKEA for $20. I painted the bare wood gray and painted the top with chalkboard paint. I also got a $5 roll of paper from IKEA that I tape over the chalkboard part with painters tape when she wants to color with crayons. The mirror about the table was old and not being used so I repainted it and put in some family pictures. The vinyl wall quote was $18 from Luxeloft (Etsy shop) and was super easy to apply. For the hanging artwork I simply stuck two clear thumb tacks in the wall and wrapped with in twine and hung the paper with mini-clothespins I had left over from her first birthday banner. This part of the room cost under $50.

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Her closet came together with the help of IKEA and the dollar store. The baskets used on the shelves were only $1 each and the Agot closet organizers from IKEA cost about $40 total. The drawers pull out just like a dresser and are mesh so I can easily see what is inside of them. And if you notice some of the drawers are empty, which means she still has room to grow! The closet organization cost under $50.

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And finally, this is her big girl bed. I purchased it from IKEA along with the duvet and shams. Sheets (3 sets) at K Mart along with some throw pillows. We both fell in love with this bed because of the size (full), the mattress (foam so she can’t jump on it and rocket herself across the room) and height (it’s about a foot off the ground). I was very happy with how it all turned out and so was Afton. She loves her new room and I find her playing quietly in it all the time. Goal accomplished!

Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day I was looking for a new, fun idea that was low in cost (isn’t everyone?) so I started scanning Pinterest and found this blog about creating vases out of jars (yes, I realize it’s in Swedish but isn’t the language of creativity universal?) and I loved the idea I just changed a things. Instead of using plain jars or even upcycling jars I already had (which is a great idea by the way, I just knew I wouldn’t get enough jars by the time I needed to start this project) I went to JoAnn Fabric’s and bought mason jars for $1.25 each.

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Next up was deciding what color/type of paint to buy. Glass paint is really pricey so I decided to buy acrylic paint and just spray the inside of the jars with a clear coat to stop any running when the flower was watered. I bought two colors for $5.99 each, I really only needed one but since I was making 5 vases I wanted to mix it up a bit. You can always use up old paint you already have.

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The next step was painting the inside of the jars. I took the lids off each jar and one-by-one dumped a good amount of paint in the bottom and starting twirling around the jars (adding more paint as needed) until the entire jar was covered. You don’t need to worry about getting too close to the top because you want to set it on its head anyway for the excess paint to drip out. SIDE NOTE: I used way to too much in each jar. When I flipped the jars over the next day there was a ton of paint that poured out. Next time I will use less, waste less.

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Once the paint was dry, and it will take a few days, I screwed back on the lids without the flat place to cover the jar’s opening. I just wanted it to have a more finished look at the top. Then I added chalkboard labels so that I could write on the jar who it was for. I taped off the space I wanted on each jar then put two coats of chalkboard paint, allowing the appropriate drying time in between.

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The chalkboard paint is a little high maintenance. It has to dry for 3 days before you can “condition” it. This means after 3 days you take the side of a piece of chalk and cover the area with it, then erase it. At that point you can wipe it clean but then need to wait another 7 days to write on it. I conditioned the jars and allowed them to sit.

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Finally all they need is soil and a flower and of course to be labeled for the recipient. Any type of flower can be used, I used Marigolds that I purchased from Lowe’s, which cost $12 for 3 pots. It’s better to plant just one or two flowers since there isn’t a ton of room in the jar. I also purchased a small bag of top soil for $5. That puts my total at a little under $30 for 5 Mother’s Day gifts. I didn’t include the chalkboard paint price in the total because I bought it for another purpose and only decided to do the labels because I had it on hand. If I didn’t have it, I would have left the labels off and wrapped some twine around the neck of the jar with name tags. Overall I am happy with the finished product. I hope they are a hit this Mother’s Day! Here is the finished product:

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Stay tuned…

Where is the time going? I have many projects in the works so stay tuned for some fun upcoming posts! I have been trying to find time to finish the growth chart I started for Afton a few months ago (well, I intend it to be not just for Afton but a whole family growth chart complete with Mommy and Daddy’s height too!) But now that we have another little one coming in September I have been in a mad dash to clear out a new room for Afton and make it her special, big girl room. And did I mention her second birthday is coming up in a few months also? But before that we still have to pick out and plant the veggies for our garden this year. Phew! Yep, I have a ton on my plate but it should make for some fun upcoming posts.

So stay tuned for: Growth Charts 101, Mommy and me: Gardening, How to make your toddler’s dream room and Afton’s second birthday bash! And maybe in there somewhere I can throw together a: How to revamp the nursery for baby #2 after your toddler destroyed most of it. 🙂

Happy Spring!

A new announcement!

Last month we announcement the news that we are expecting again to friends and family. As soon as I found out I was expecting (New Year’s Eve to be exact) I started thinking of the whens and hows to announce the news to everyone. When I did the math I realized I would be 12 weeks right around Valentine’s Day! And what better day to tell the world we are filling our family with more love than Valentine’s Day!?!?! So I started thinking of card ideas, browsing the internet and (of course) Pinterest to find different ideas. I finally found something that sparked the idea of what I ended up doing.

One morning I set up my tripod (for the first time), got out my chalkboard and got Afton and I dressed. We then spent the next hour or so snapping (timed) shots in front of the camera. This was not an easy feat to accomplish with a toddler and sure enough she started getting tired of it and cranky in no time. So to ensure I got a least one usable shot I made it into a game…when the time started beeping we ran in front of the camera and smile and then ran away. This she liked! And I ended up getting a shot I could use.

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I took this shot and put it on a Valentine’s Day photo card and mailed it to friends and family, but Afton hand delivered the cards to all her grandparents because we really wanted her to play a special role in the news. She had a blast going from house to house and visiting everyone and handing them a card. She especially loved everyone’s reactions. Let’s see how she feels about it in 6 months 😉

“(felt) Christmas Tree, Oh, (felt) Christmas Tree”

Being a huge fan of the holidays my husband was shocked when I mentioned not putting up a tree this year. In previous years (pre-baby) we have always put up two, now I barely have the room or patience for one. Images danced in my head of Afton terrorizing the tree and all the antique and sentimental ornaments that adorn it. I just didn’t want to think about her breaking her great-grandmother’s delicate santa clauses or poking an eye out with a branch. But after many discussions I gave in and we put up our tree (we are now on day 4 without incident). I like to think this is because of the felt tree I made just for her.

Afton’s Felt Christmas Tree

I put it up a few days before Thanksgiving so she could get used to it before we put the actual tree up. She enjoys taking the decorations off on a whim or changing them around or just throwing them all on the ground. I just kept telling her that this was her very own tree, and made a big deal about it.

The best part about it was it was so easy to make. I just bought a yard of green felt from the fabric store and picked up a few felt squares in various colors for the decorations. This project had to be no-sew for me, well because I don’t sew! I folded the green felt in half…sketched helf a tree on it with a sharpie…cut it out and…you have a tree!

No-sew Felt Ornaments

The ornaments I just did free hand and created in my head. I used my hot glue gun to put the ornaments together. I have to say the hardest part was actually cutting out the star. I stink at drawing starts so this was a challenge for me. It took a few tries but I finally got it. Oh and I used Command Adhesive Strips to attach the tree to my wall. And that is really it! Felt sticks to felt so you don’t need to do anything to make the ornaments stick to the tree…it’s a beautiful thing. If you have a toddler I highly recommend the felt tree:

Afton loves her tree!

Recycling Photo Props

So you spent some money on Etsy buying photo props for your holiday photos and you don’t want to just throw them out or put them in a box for next year’s photos? Why not fit them in to your holiday decor! I didn’t buy any special holiday photo props this year, I made them, and since I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into them you better believe I was going to find some way to display them for the holidays.

The first item I wanted to recycle was the holiday banner I created. It was super easy and cheap to put this banner together. The only thing I needed to actually buy was a scrapbook tablet to use as the pennant backgrounds. I had the rest of the items already on hand (twine, mini clothespins, printer paper, scissors, glue stick).

My Dining Room Hutch

To see how this banner was used in our holiday photos, check out my “Tis the Season post.

I also plan on recycling my chalkboard yet again to hang somewhere in the house…maybe by the fireplace downstairs with a cozy Christmas saying…any suggestions? And I made a felt mistletoe for our holiday photos that I did not get to use in them…so I will be hanging that in our doorway. Have fun seeing what you can recycle for the holidays!

‘Tis the Season

In October we had our fall/holiday photos taken (yes, I said October and yes I am a freak when it comes to the holidays). I start planning for them in September/October and hence, started driving all the people around me crazy. I spent what seemed like forever trying to figure out what we were all going to wear for these family photos, one of which would eventually end up on our Christmas card. I was determined to buy as little as possible and make the most of the clothes and props we already had and with the help of my BFF I think I did a pretty good job. I started out with a color scheme in mind and about two weeks before the actual photos it all went out the window. Not to mention I was making things for this shoot until about an hour before we left. So here is the finished product:

Merry Christmas!

My husband’s entire outfit was found in his closet, Afton’s dress was in her closet and actually from last season but the rest (tights, boots, headband) were all new, I already had my sweater and shoes but bought new jeans and the lace tank. Now for the props. The antique rocking chair is ours and was actually handed down to Afton on her first birthday from my Godmother. The blanket and chalkboard we had, I made the felt flowers and the “presents” are just empty shoe boxes that I took my boots out of. So there you have it…holiday photos on a budget.

My Christmas Angel

Again, another holiday photo. The only things added in this one are the bear (which was a gift when Afton was born) and the “Tis the Season” banner, which I made. I already had the twine and mini clothespins from the banner I made for Afton’s first birthday party so I just spend $9.99 and bought a scrapbook paper tablet for the background paper and I printed the letters from my computer and just cut out circles around them.

Tis the Season

Oh and one more thing, I made the accessories Afton and I are wearing. The red ruffle headbands and the felt flower belts (you really can’t see mine in the photos I posted and Afton’s is tied to her shoe). Thanks to BFF it went from being a belt to shoe decor. See I can’t do it ALL by myself! So I hope I inspired someone to look within before going out and spending a lot of money on clothes and props for holiday photos, because even though you want that holiday card to look good, you still have gifts to buy!

Another felt flower wreath – Fall Themed

I just got done making a Fall felt flower wreath for my brother’s girlfriend and I really liked how it turned out, so I thought I would share it. I have to admit that when she brought over the materials I wasn’t in love with the colors she picked (bright orange, white and deep red). I actually thought they were ugly, but hey, I wasn’t going to have to look at it everyday, right?

This one is going to be short and sweet…I didn’t take any “before” or “during” photos while I was making this one. I banged it out in one evening and this was the result:

 

Fall 18″ Wreath

Felt flowers up close

 

If you like what you see…check out my Etsy shop and convo me for a custom wreath of your own! http://www.etsy.com/shop/PrettyHeartFelt

 

 

DIY Grandparent’s Day Cards

I don’t know about you, but to me the worst part of any holiday (Halloween, birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc.) is buying cards. Spending sometimes $5 on a card when you have at least 5 or more people to buy for per holiday adds up quickly. The great part about having a child is having a chance to make homemade cards with your little one for all these special occasions and saving a ton of money (on a side note: you may be saving money but if your little one doesn’t have the patience for these crafts you might be paying a much higher price in the end by losing your sanity). To make your card making life easier just go out and buy a stack of solid colored construction paper, a scrapbook tablet with corresponding colors and a few ink pads (also with corresponding colors). There you have the basics for card making. I have made cards for virtually every occasion since my little one was born, this is just an example of the cards we made for Grandparent’s Day.

Simply tear out whatever paper you want to use for the outside of the card (in this case it was various patterns of green from my scrapbook tablet) and I used plain white printer paper for the inside. I lined up the two pieces of paper and folded them to create a card. Then I wrote “Happy Grandparent’s Day” on the outside of the card with a black sharpie and used some stickers that came in my scrapbook table for flare.

Then I set the outside of the card aside. Using the inside of the card (the printer paper) I cut out a few hearts using scraps and used a few more stickers but first came the tricky part. I wanted to make a heart on the inside of the card using my little ones foot prints. I scooped up my busy toddler and explained to her how she was going to help me make a big surprise for her grandparents. While explaining this and making it sound super fun I took off her socks and started dabbing the inkpad on her foot. Be sure and do one foot at a time, it should go something like this: put ink on one foot, stamp paper, clean foot, repeat on other side. If you leave one foot with ink while you try and do the other I guarentee you will get it on you or the counter or the dog…etc. Here is the inside:

There you have it. Simple card making that means a great deal more than those expensive Hallmark ones. Remember once both parts of the card are done and have had time to dry, glue them together and smooth out and bubbles or creases. I simply use a glue stick and smear the back of the printer paper, stick, fold and smooth. We made three cards for all three, yes three, sets of grandparents. That is six foot prints and a lot of ink, stamp, clean, repeating…

DIY Felt Flower Wreath

I have been obsessed lately with all things felt. I started making felt flowers to put on headbands for Afton (another post), but for the moment I have moved on to wreaths. I don’t really get into the Halloween decorations so I wanted something pretty that I could hang on my door all Fall and Winter long. Enter the felt flower wreath! I went to Joann Fabrics and bought felt squares in the colors I wanted (about $5 or less), a 24″ grapevine wreath ($8.99), three yards of ribbon (about $5) and a wooden letter to hang from the ribbon ($3.99).

 

Felt squares in assorted colors (4 for $1)

Grapevine wreath ($8.99)

Along with the items I purchased I make this wreath I also used the following (which I already had at home): hot glue gun, glue sticks, yarn, and silver door hanger. The first thing I did was make various felt flowers for the wreath using a few different methods.

The start of a felt rose

To make felt roses you just cute out different sizes of circles and cut into each circle to create a spiral. Then start at the pointed edge and roll the felt inwards using dots of glue to secure until you reach the large round end in the middle. Then simply glue the circle to the bottom of the flower. You can click here for a tutorial on a different kind of flower that I also used. They should look something like this:

 

 

 

Almost done!

At this point all I did was wrap my ribbon around the top part of my letter twice, then wrap the ribbon around the top of the wreath and tie into a bow. I tucked the ends of the ribbon around parts of the wreath that were sticking out and clipped the ends to give it a more polished finish. Here is the finished product!

I love my new wreath!

 

 

 

 

 

A Vegetarian Mom

Hi! I’m Brandi, a vegetarian.

So this post is a little off topic but I feel it’s a subject that needs to be touched on. My hope is that other vegetarian moms who are raising other vegetarian babies will read this and find it helpful, relatable or maybe one of them can educate me a little.

About three years ago I stopped eating meat and about three years ago my family became very concerned. I was never a big meat-eater, in fact I think I have been or wanted to be vegetarian most of my life, only it just dawned on me three years ago. I experienced a moment that I can only describe as when someone has a twin their whole life and doesn’t know it and maybe they have these strange vibes now and again that can never be explained and then one day they are at the store and they bump into someone who looks just like them and realize they have had a twin all along. Ok maybe that’s a little dramatic but when I started my job three years ago I met my first vegetarian and felt that immediate connection with her like I’ve been one all along, I just didn’t know it! She guided me through the basics (such as jello, marshmallows and most yogurts aren’t vegetarian, who knew?) and she recommended books like Slaughterhouse, Farm Sanctuary, Eating Animals, Fast Food Nation, Food, Inc. and many more. Once I realized how many books were out there on the topic I was hooked. Everyday learning a new grotesque detail about the meat industry or how the little meat I was eating was affecting my body. But the ugly side to my newfound lifestyle and knowledge was that no one wanted to hear about it! I felt like I uncovered the holy grail but everyone else looked at me like I was an idiot. So there I was, not eating meat, despite the constant nagging from my family and husband. They thought I was making the wrong choice. Two years later we found out we were expecting our first child.

Hi! I’m a pregnant vegetarian.

And with that joyful news came the not so joyful backlash. For 40 weeks I had to listen to questions like, “how is the baby going to grow if you don’t eat protein?” And, “Isn’t the baby going to have more allergies now?” I was being bullied and led to believe that by not eating meat I was hurting my unborn child (we didn’t find out the sex). Unfortunately, I could never find much information to support a vegetarian pregnancy I just kind of got through it on my own instincts and help from other vegetarian moms. I told my OBGYN I was vegetarian and she asked me what I eat as if she was giving me a pop quiz, “how are you getting protein?” was the first thing she asked. After spouting my answer (spinach, beans, tofu, dairy, etc.) she seemed pleased (not that I cared). She wrote me a prescription for a prenatal vitamin and I was on my way. Over the 40 (almost 41) weeks of my pregnancy I never had any complications or issues, not even the oh so common Gestational Diabetes. I worked out the entire time, running (until 36 weeks), spinning (until 39 weeks) and light weights and yoga. I gained 30 pounds and that was mostly due to a terrible spell of nausea during the first 2-3 months where I could only eat carbs. All in all I had never been healthier. Then I went into labor.

Hi! I have a vegetarian mom.

It’s a girl! Afton Pamela was born on June 20, 2011 (a Monday), weighing 6.8 pounds and measuring 21 inches long. After a long, tiring labor (I pushed for 3.5 hours) she was born posterior (face up), my nurse came to my bedside and said, not just anyone could have done that – most women would have had to get a C-Section. I was strong, I was healthy, I was a vegetarian mom! I felt empowered for the first time in my life. I had created (sure the hubs helped I guess) this amazingly beautiful and healthy creature with my body, my vegetarian body. The next challenge was breastfeeding, and by challenge I mean: the next thing I am going to have to defend to my family. Shortly after we came home I got really sick…I mean really sick. My temperature was 105, my body was convulsing (rigors is what the doctor called it), I ached everywhere and that on top of no sleep and breastfeeding…well, that just might kill you. At least I thought it was going to kill me. During this awful time my family would say things like, “just stop breastfeeding her to make it easy on yourself” and “maybe your breast milk is going to make her sick.” But I pushed on and eventually found out that my sickness was caused by extreme dehydration from the breastfeeding. I was experiencing terrible UTIs due to the dehydration only I didn’t realize it because I was still mostly numb down there from the epidural and stitches. The doctor said, you are severely dehydrated so you either have to promise me you will go home and drink a ton of water and cranberry juice or I will send you to the hospital for an IV. I swore I would drink until I floated, just please let me go home so I can feed my baby. In my previous life (before baby) I would drink 64 ounces of water a day, now I was drinking over 100. Once I started chugging the fluids my body started to heal. Soon I was back to being healthy (still not sleeping) and the peanut gallery left me alone. Then it was time to introduce solid foods to Afton.

Hi! I’m Afton, a vegetarian toddler.

If I thought I had to defend myself for my eating choices in the past, that was nothing compared to what lie ahead. I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office with Afton for her four-month appointment waiting for the doctor to come in. I was flipping through her baby book when I saw the words that stopped me in my tracks: “at six months we like to introduce strained meats.” Strained meats? I almost fell off the chair. If this type of verbage was actually written in my baby book I knew the battle would be a good one. At first I took the silent approach, don’t ask, don’t tell. What? Her height and weight look good? Perfect, see you in three months! My husband and I had the conversation at one point and I think it went like this: him “how are you going to deny her a McDonald’s happy meal?” me “she can go to McDonald’s they have apples and milk and yogurt she can eat.” him “you mean she is never going to taste a cheeseburger?” (which to him that thought might be the worst thing in the world) me: “she can eat veggie burgers when she is older and if she decides she wants to try meat then so be it.” After that it was never really brought up and since I am the one who prepares her meals for the week I pretty much dictate what she eats. She is 13 months old today (tear) and I have been weaning her from the breast for the last few months. Soon I will be done breastfeeding and I am grieving right now, as silly as that probably seems. But I know there are better things to come, such as bonding over our vegetarian meals (this morning we enjoyed spinach quiche, mini zucchini muffins and strawberries). I know the older she gets the more control I’m losing when it comes to the fight against meat. I can only do the best I can and hope she follows suit on her own one day. In the mean time.

Hi! We are vegetarians.

If you are a vegetarian mom or soon-to-be mom I would love to hear about your triumphs and your struggles. What are some of the ignorant (as in uneducated) things people have said to you? How do you plan meals for your toddlers? I am always up for learning new things about vegetarianism and specifically raising a vegetarian child, as there isn’t a ton of information out there. Thanks for reading!

Afton’s First Birthday Party (Part 1)

When I thought about tackling a post about Afton’s first birthday party and all the DIY decorations and things I made for it, well frankly it made me out of breath, which is why I haven’t posted it. I knew sooner or later I had to post something on her party or all the hard work I put into it would not be documented. So to save myself (and you) a lot of headaches I decided to break it up into two possibly three posts. In this post you will see shots of all her party decor. It was almost a month ago now, how time flies, and it was held under a big wooden pavilion at a local park. It was a lovely warm and sunny day with a cool breeze (a nice break from the 90+ degree weather we have all been sweating through). Here are some photos of her day:

Happy Birthday, Afton!

Afton’s smash cake!

Cookies! Yum!

Ruffle cake!

Inside the cake: a pop of turquoise!

Party favors!

Table runners and center pieces

More vases!

Card basket and gift table

Photo table

 

High chair! This may look familiar!

It’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to.

This was Afton’s party in a nutshell. I can’t take any credit for the food at the party since we had it catered. The cake, cupcakes and cookies were made by some talented individuals I had the pleasure of working with for this party. They really got the look I was going for and didn’t look at me like I was crazy when I said the theme was: pink vintage shabby chic. The cookie lady just blew me away…all I told her were the colors I wanted and explained to her the textures I was using (twine, lace, glass jars, doilies, etc.) and she took it from there. I crafted the following items for her party: birthday banner, tissue flowers, favor bags, table runner, vases, chalkboard, rice krispie pops, doily stars (and I also made paper rosettes that, along with more doily stars were hanging from the trees outside the pavilion), card basket, gift table fabric, and photo table (this was supposed to be a photo banner but as we were setting up time just got away from us and it was either wear my set-up outfit or scrap the photo banner). In Part 2 of this post I will share more photos of these crafts along with have I created them.

Thanks for reading!

Afton’s First Year

I put together a short video for Afton’s first year. Just a compilation of photos from newborn to now. I keep watching it over and over thinking, “where did this time go?” I just can’t believe it’s been a year. It seems like yesterday I was doing laps around my neighborhood because Afton was three days past due, thinking “will she ever get here?” And now, a year later, and I just want time to stand still again – like it seemed to do that last week before she was born. Undoubtedly the best year of my life, I look forward to all the happiness ahead and just hope my heart can hold it all! I love you Afton Pamela.

Mother’s Day

Since this was my very first Mother’s Day I wanted to make so I will always remember it. I received the nicest cards from my friends and family (and even my brothers) so I decided to keep all the cards and make them into a book. I didn’t have to purchase anything to create this keepsake because I already had everything I needed: paper doily, pink construction paper, glue stick, hole punch, ribbon and scissors. I arranged all the cards in the order I wanted them and made sure all the folded sides came together evenly. Then, I picked each one up and started punching holes in the spines (two holes in each card, one in the small cards). I folded my piece of construction paper in half and wrapped it around my card stack and trimmed whatever edges I didn’t want. (If you have fancy scissor that cut designs this would add to the piece). Then I punched holes in the construction paper, threaded my ribbon through it and it looked like this:

The cards should all be easily readable. Flip through it to make sure. And there is no right way to arrange the cards, some might do it smallest to largest and some might do it in order of importance (me). To each his own!

Once that is done, take your paper doily and arrange it however you want it on the cover. Depending on the size of the doily you might have to cut it (see picture below). Before gluing it down take your marker and write on it (I wrote: My 1st Mother’s Day with the year). Put some glue on the back of your doily (smooth part only or the glue will get caught in the “webbing” of the lace). Smooth it over the cover and there you have it, a Mother’s Day keepsake you can come back to each year and remember your very first year as a mommy!

Keep in mind that this idea is not just for Mother’s Day, you can use this throughout the year and throughout yours and your child’s life. For example, I saved all of Afton’s first birthday cards from close friends and family and I plan on making something similar for those. I also saved my husband’s cards from his first Father’s Day and I plan on doing this too!

Tiny Handprints

This is a project we did when Afton was about six months old. I saw a variation of it on Pinterest when I was researching Father’s Day gift ideas (this will be a separate post) and thought it was a cute idea since our hallway wall is empty. I went to the local craft store and got a frame and a heavier sheet of paper to fit into the frame (I bought three pieces because I didn’t know how easy it would be or how many attempts it would take). The paint and marker I already had at home but you can buy the small acrylic bottles for about $0.50 each. First I will show you what it looks like, then I’ll walk you through the steps.

Ok first you put the baby down for a nap. Then you get your paper, paint and a paper plate. The hand print on the left is my husbands and the one on the right is mine. I have seen this done several ways, this is just the way I decided to do it. So we smeared the paint onto the plate and dipped our hands in it and got our prints on the paper (we did all three sheets so we wouldn’t have to do it again). I let the sheets of paper dry overnight. Then in the morning when Afton got up it was fun time! As you can see the handprints aren’t perfect but it was pretty hard getting a six-month-old to cooperate and not get paint everywhere at the same time. At first I was going to leave the paper blank with just our prints and at some point I was going to attempt to get the dog’s prints on it but my better judgement got the best of me. I looked high and low for a quote I liked and just wrote it on with a black sharpie. Here is the framed piece:

I know the quote isn’t perfect, I should have planned that out better but in the end it’s ours and I love all the imperfections it has. We will probably do another one when (if) the next baby comes along and update the frame.

Sweet Afton

I thought since this blog is titled: I’m just Afton’s mom, it would be appropriate to introduce the baby behind the blog. Afton is almost 13 months old as of today and is just starting to get the hang of walking. She practices every chance she gets and thinks it’s hilarious when she falls down. Afton loves people, she is so kind and friendly, always waving to everyone and smiling. We can’t go anywhere (and I mean anywhere) without total strangers coming up to her (us) and just gushing. She has made the last 13 months of our lives so amazing (I can’t speak for the dog) and she inspires me everyday.

Afton loves swimming, doing head stands and chasing the dog around the house. She has six teeth and loves getting them brushed (for now) and is a musician at heart. She loves beating on her bongos and can’t stop moving whenever she hears a beat! She is a vegetarian (hopefully for life) and she loves Cheerios, yogurt, and anything with tomato sauce on it (must be the Italian in her). Being her mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I look forward to all the fun times ahead!

*As a side note, I am always on the look-out for other vegetarian families or toddlers. I am curious what foods you prepare for them and what foods they refuse to eat. I’d also love to hear if a vegetarian diet for baby is supported by the people around you. As Afton starts to experiment with real food I struggle with creating enticing (and nutritious) vegetarian options for, because we all know toddlers can be picky eaters. I also struggle with a meat-eating family who doesn’t agree with her not eating meat. Please feel free to leave any helpful tips or recipes! It’s appreciated!

Baby Shower Favors for my BFF!

My best friend is having a baby! She was due four days ago so this project is a few months old, but back in April I made the favors for her baby shower. I was obsessed with jars at the time and researched high and low for cute jarred baby shower favors. Mostly what I found were “sugar and spice” type favors for a baby girl, but BFF is having a boy so I just made it up as I went along.

First I asked her what the color scheme was for the shower. Her palate was lime green, navy blue and grey. I set out on a journey to my local fabric store to see what I could find. Since I have a baby of my own I had been saving her baby food jars for a few months because I thought…what better jar to use for a baby shower than a baby food jar! I de-labeled, scrubbed them and ran them through the dishwasher. So finally I had everything I needed: jars, fabric, gift tags (which I just printed and cut out), twine and candy.

I cut the fabric into 6″ x 6″ squares by using a ruler and marking the underside of the fabric with a pen. I came to this measurement by some trial and error when figuring out how much fabric I wanted to hang over the jars. The gift tags that read “Sweet of you to come” were just cut out and hole punched.

I filled the jars with mini Reese’s Cups and Whoppers because they are small and because Easter had just passed and all the Easter candy was on sale! The assembly process went something like this: take empty jar, fill empty jar to the top with candy, screw on lid tightly, string tag onto pre-cut piece of twine and set aside, center fabric square on top of jar lid and wrap your hand around the jar neck keeping the fabric as secure as possible. Next, grab the twine with your other hand and wrap it around the jar neck two or three times (your preference) then secure with a double knot. Repeat.

I think I paid just over $1 per bag for all the candy, the jars free (up-cycled), I used my own paper and ink to print out the tags, so the biggest expenses were the fabric and twine. For 50 shower favors I ended up keeping the total just under $45, less than $1 per favor!

I love my neighbors!

I’ll say it again, I love my neighbors. The other day I was gearing up the family to head out on a before dinner walk and my neighbor stops me mid-driveway asking if I can use some zucchini. Ummm, YES! He hands me two zucchini, a summer squash, a green pepper and three lovely red tomatoes (I also have a garden but all tomatoes are green at the moment, jealous). I happily take them, thank my wonderful neighbor, bring them inside and we continue on our walk. The whole time my brain is reeling with what to do with my new-found treasures.

I get home and go straight to my iPad, knowing that I pinned a whole bunch of zucchini recipes on Pinterest for just this reason. Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…YES…just what I was looking for! A recipe for Summer Zucchini Bites under my Meatless and Fabulous board. These were so easy to make and took hardly any time at all and boy were they yummy. They reminded me of a tiny Quiche. Just to make sure, I brought some in for my co-workers to try (yes I like them that much) and they all agreed they were fabulous!

If you’re anything like me, at some point in the summer you have more zucchini than you know what to do with. And let’s face it, you can only eat so much zucchini bread, so if you are looking for something yummy and quick…look no further!

Operation Shabby Chic Distressed Highchair

This project came about because Afton was turning one and when I started planning her party I realized she was going to need something fabulous to taste her first sugar in! I started looking around at yard sales and on Craigslist until I found the perfect antique wooden highchair. I bought this highchair from a women a few towns over. Her children were grown but she still had a tough time letting go of this piece. She told me the highchair was over 65 years old and it was given to her by a family friend, who happened to be her dentist when her kids were young. She was so happy to see it going to a good home where another child will enjoy it for years to come! I was happy to get it for $20. This is the highchair in all its original glory:

Hello, Mr. Bunny! Your days are numbered!

My first step was removing all the metal parts (two screws in the actual chair and the tray mechanism), after that it was time to sand! And sand, and sand, and sand:

No more Mr. Bunny…

Once the sanding was complete made sure to wipe down the entire chair with a damp cloth making sure to get all the dust out of all the tiny little spaces. Then I let it dry out overnight. Next, I had to pick a paint color. Now, as a side note, this is the first time I’ve done anything like this and upon researching different techniques to achieve the look I wanted I found MANY tutorials for DIY distressed furniture but nothing specifically for a wooden highchair. I was kind of disappointed, which is a big reason why I am writing this now. So the following was just the way I decided to distress this highchair based on random information I found. I knew going into the paint department that I wanted three things: I didn’t want to do the extra step of priming, I wanted this chair to be the lightest shade of pink ever and I needed some kind of glaze. Thankfully I stumbled upon a really nice worker who was familiar with the look I wanted. She recommended that I use a tinted primer/paint combo (color: Helios), she showed me where the glazes were and helped me pick a tea-stained one that was perfect and she also recommended a spray paint, high-gloss finish for easy cleaning once the baby actually started using the chair (cost for all = under $20). I walked out of the store with all that plus some foam brushes, sandpaper and clothes for the antiquing process.

And so the painting process began. Originally I didn’t think it would take that many coats, the wood seemed light and I was armed with a tinted primer, but being an amateur I was wrong. I ended up doing four coats of paint and in the end you could still see some of the wood underneath but I went with it because (a) I REALLY didn’t want to paint it again and (b) I was just going to destroy it anyway and I thought it would add to the look. Here is a photo of coat one drying:

This is where patience is a virtue

After applying the other three coats and waiting for each to dry overnight, I started the distressing process. I don’t have any photos of this but I will explain what I did. First I took my angled foam brush and pushed the glaze into all those  crevices you see around the back and seat of the highchair and then I used my damp cloth to wipe it off. That is the glazing process (for those of you who aren’t familiar with it) you put the glaze on and you wipe the glaze off, think The Karate Kid: wax on, wax off! That way you doing get in over your head and you can control the look you want. I played around with this a lot, then I got bored and got out the sandpaper. I was really scared to use the sandpaper and potentially screw up all four coats of my paint, but I soldiered on. I started with the tray. I closed my eyes and started sanding right in the middle (they say to distress in places the piece would be naturally worn from use), which is why I started in the middle of the tray. After that I sanded here and there (not too much because I was still scared) and then went back over those areas with the glaze. Here is what I ended up with:

Ta-da!

I know what you’re thinking…that highchair isn’t pink! Thank you, that is exactly the look I was going for. I wanted it to be pink because it was my girl’s very first birthday BUT I also know I will have more children someday and I did NOT want to redo this highchair over if I happened to have a boy down the road. So YOU know it’s pink, I know it’s pink and the lady who mixed my paint knows it’s pink…no one else has to and I’m fine with that. The finishing steps to this piece were spraying the entire chair and tray with my high-gloss spray (three coats, I want it to last) and putting the screws and tray mechanism back on (I spray painted them with some chrome paint my husband had left over but it’s not going to last, I can already tell) but nevertheless, here is the finished product:

Happy Birthday, Afton!

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