Inspired by…Dining Rooms

So, here I am, 6 weeks into maternity leave. I had all these grand plans to accomplish so many projects in the house while I was on leave…yep…haven’t tackled one and every day the only thing I want to accomplish is eating and taking a shower. That’s right…that little 9 lb munchkin is running the show around here. As my husband would say, “you’re only job right now is to take care of our little man”. And I get that, I really do. But for someone who was constantly busy before baby with no downtime whatsoever, it feels a little unproductive to be home all day and have my biggest accomplishment be making it to grocery store with the baby without him having a meltdown 🙂 I love him to pieces but this whole newborns sleep all day thing…not our little one. He loves to shut his eyes for about 20-30 minutes, just to fake you out and make you think you can have some “me” time. Maybe one day we’ll get the napping thing down.

Lately, I’ve been sitting in our breakfast nook when I have things to do on the computer…in those rare moments that Landon takes a good nap. When I do, I look directly at our dining room, which has looked the same for about 2 years now, meaning, I made a beautiful farmhouse dining table (click the link to check it out) and never made the benches to go with it. So we have a beautiful table that we never sit at or use and a half decorated room. Boo. Time to get it in gear. So, I’ve been searching for some dining room inspiration to help me do so and posting some of my favorites for you! Head over to my Pinterest page to see my inspiration for more rooms. Enjoy!

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DIY Blanket Ladder

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Can we talk about the LIFE-CHANGING discovery I made a couple weeks ago. It was an average night, we had just eaten dinner and were sitting on the couch when the inevitable conversation came up…”Did you get anything for dessert?” my husband asks…
I hadn’t…fail.
Me: “No, but there is still vanilla ice cream in the freezer from Thanksgiving pie”
Husband: “Do we have anything to put on it?”
In case you can’t tell, I’m not good at keeping my fridge/pantry/cupboards stocked with the basics. I’m the type who goes to the store and buys just what I need for that nights dinner.
Me: “There are some leftover chocolate chips in the cupboard…”
Husband: “Can you melt them?”
We have really interesting conversations 🙂
I proceed to melt the leftover chocolate chips, dish up some ice cream and then drizzle the chocolate on top. Basic, right?
Umm…it hardened pretty quickly just like magic shell, but I hadn’t added anything to it! Is this normal?!?! Mic drop! I was so excited!! That’s the easiest dessert ever!
I’m not sure why I was so excited, apparently it doesn’t take much these days. Anyway, I was pretty stoked about this discovery, and please don’t burst my bubble if I’m like 10 years late to the party and you all knew this fact long ago.

You may recognize this blanket ladder from a couple years ago if you’ve been following me from the start…wow, that’s crazy, that I’ve been at this blogging thing for a couple years now! Since my time is a bit preoccupied these days and I haven’t had time to complete any new projects recently, I thought I’d repost one of my faves and one of the easiest, who knows, maybe you know someone that this would make a great holiday gift for. Or maybe you just want one for yourself. Either way, this whole project took me less than hour from constructing to stained.

Supplies
2 2×4 @ 8ft
1 2×6 @ 8ft
2″ wood screws
skill saw
kreg jig
drill

1. Use your skill saw to make the following cuts
2 2×4 cut to 5ft each
4 2×6 cut to 17in each

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2. Use your kreg jig to drill 4 pocket holes (2 on each end) into the 4 2×6 pieces for 2″ wood screws

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3. Lay one of the 2x4s on flat, level ground. The left side of the 2×4 will be the front of your ladder. Measure and mark every 12″ along the front of the ladder where your rungs will sit. Take one of the 2x6s and set it on the 2×4, turned slightly diagonal, so that the bottom of the 2×6 is even with the front of your ladder and the top of the 2×6 is even with the back of the ladder. Attach with 2″ wood screws.

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4. Continue with the other 3 2x6s at each of the 12″ marks.

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5. Once you’ve attached all 2x6s, measure and mark every 12″ on the other 2×4, lay it on flat, level ground and turn the ladder over onto the 2×4 so that the rungs meet up with the opposite side and attach with 2″ wood screws.

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Easy peasy! Now paint or stain to your desired color, let dry and add blankets!

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Changing Table Organization

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The fourth trimester…I saw things on Facebook and Pinterest about this topic when I was pregnant but I didn’t really read anything about it until now. Essentially, it speaks to baby being in the womb for 40 weeks and how shocking it is to them when they are born to no longer have hunger & thirst needs constantly met, to not be rocked to sleep at every moment by mom’s movements and to not be constantly warm, “snuggled” and comfortable. It makes so much sense!

We are still learning so much about Landon on a daily basis and it feels like every few days, you master one thing and then something new comes up. Right now…we are working on Landon’s feeding. Meaning, for the first 3 weeks, he never seemed to have gas, never spit up and was never fussy while nursing. Then, all of a sudden, in the last few days, he is nursing at such a fast pace for the first few minutes that he gives himself a tummy ache EVERY TIME! Any tips that you mamas have on getting baby to slow down are much appreciated! So far, I am trying the following…
1. Anticipate baby’s hunger, feed baby at the first hunger cue or beat him to it and not let him go more than 3 hours without nursing to keep him from getting agitated.
2. Laid-back/Biological position or Football/Clutch hold with baby sitting up rather than laying for breastfeeding. Laid-back position means, mom is laid back in a semi-reclined position (I usually prop myself up on pillows in my bed) and baby lies on your chest/stomach. This is how the lactation specialist showed me how to breastfeed in the hospital and is also a great position for skin-to-skin time. When we got home, Landon seemed to do best in the football position, so we changed things up and I position him so he is more seated than laying flat and propped up against my leg. Basically, I just avoid keeping him as upright as possible so gravity is doing it’s job.
3. Burp baby every 5-10 minutes, especially if he seems to be eating ravenously. (Making sure to anticipate baby’s hunger can help with this though. He will eat slower and not need to burp more than once or twice). After the first 5 minutes, whether he stops or not, I pull him away to burp, as the first 5-10 minutes are when he nurses the fastest. Typically, I burp him after 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes and end of nursing session.
If I can manage to make all of these things happen, he stays happy and there is no upset tummy or spitting up.

Anyway…on to my original topic for the day…changing table organization!
Not sure why I felt the need for an exclamation point there 🙂 This is my life now, getting excited about having time to post on the blog, no matter what the topic, and about getting a new shipment of diapers from The Honest Company. I’ll take what I can get these days… you know…when showering is no longer a part of daily life but rather a luxury that happens when dad is home and baby happens to be napping well. Ahh, mom life 🙂

My changing table is a 6-drawer dresser with a changing pad on top. I filled the drawers with all the essentials for diaper changing, nursing and bedtime. I really could have done with just 4 drawers, so if you’re trying to save on space you could get away with that, however, I still found stuff to put in those 2 extra drawers that would need a home somewhere else in your nursery.

Drawer #1: Diapers & Diapering products (i.e. Diaper rash cream, powder, ointment, baby body lotion. Note: Wipes are kept in the wipe warmer on top of the dresser (not pictured because it was added later) with extra packs of wipes kept in a bin in the closet. If you have room, certainly keep extra wipes here as well.)

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Drawer #2: Onesie sleepers and swaddle blankets

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Drawer #3: Nursing supplies (i.e. burp clothes, nursing pads, nursing covers)

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Drawer #4: Extra changing pad covers, diaper genie bags and scent fresheners

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Drawer #5 (Extra): Crib & cradle sheets, car seat covers, breast feeding pillow and sleeping cushion covers
Drawer #6 (Extra): Baby wearing & carriers (i.e. Moby Wrap, Ergo carrier, etc)

Hopefully this was helpful for all you new mamas out there. I know I was totally lost as to what to include and how to organize before I started researching so I hope this makes things a little easy, even if just for one person 🙂

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Nursery Closet Makeover

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I CAN NOT believe my baby is already 2 weeks old!! How did that happen already! We have spent the last 2 weeks getting to know each other, I’m learning all his cues and we are really starting to get into a good rhythm. Luckily, it seems he has taken after me in the sleep department and not his dad because he is a GREAT sleeper! We get a 5-6 hour stretch each night and then back to sleep for another 2-3 hours after feeding! Can’t complain about that! On top of that, he is eating really well and gaining weight 🙂 Happy mama!

In my haste to get tasks accomplished before Landon arrived, I failed to take any before photos of the inside of the nursery closet. Fail. I do, however, have the real estate photo from before we moved in of what the room looked like before, just to give you an idea. The closet was pretty simple before I started, just a single hang bar with a single shelf above it. Nothing fancy. It also had sliding doors on the front which I removed…haven’t really decided yet if I am going to leave the doors off or put them back on. I have a feeling his closet isn’t going to stay pretty and organized for very long so the doors may go back on in the future 🙂

Here is the room before…

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Pretty sure Landon had a few diapers that were that same color in his first few days 🙂 Just can’t really understand someone standing in the paint department at Lowe’s looking at this green and thinking…”yep, that’s the one!” SMH.

Anyway, first step was to remove the closet doors and then I removed the hang bar and shelf that were inside leaving a blank canvas. I painted the inside of the closet the same color as the walls, Valspar Lyndhurst Timber from Lowe’s.

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Next, I purchased and installed the closet shelving. I knew I was going to want and need room for hanging as well as room for organization so I needed some shelving as well and I wanted the unit to be white. I searched multiple brands and stores. There are quite a few different options out there, ultimately I went with this option (Allen & Roth Wood Closet Kit) because of price and because I liked how it had 3 hang bars which left room on the left side for the laundry bin (which is tall, to keep it off the ground and away from the dogs) and I liked the option to add on with other pieces and customize the look if I chose to.

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 Once the closet kit was installed, I added these cute wood grain boxes from The Container Store for organizing. On a side note, can we talk about how obsessed I have been with The Container Store these last few months. Granted, I’ve been nesting, but I could literally spend HOURS in that place! It’s not just baskets, boxes and bins! Pretty sure I’ll be getting my holiday wrapping paper from them.

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I ordered these dark walnut wood hangers from OnlyHangers.com to complete the look. There are a few different color options and I ordered some with and without pant clips.

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Finally, I finished the space with this cute antique wash tub that my mom gave me at one of my baby showers. I was originally going to use it for toys or blankets but then decided it would be perfect for dirty laundry because it was high up off the ground so the dogs wouldn’t be able to get to it. I don’t have the info on this one in particular but I found a galvanized version on Wayfair and linked it here. You could always spray paint and sand the edges if you wanted a different color and distressed look.

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That is the gist of it! Hope this is inspiring for you. It really was an easy update, the closet kit took me about an hour to put together and another hour to install and anchor to the wall. I plan to use the same kits when I redo our master bedroom closets. However, when that actually happens is anyone’s guess 🙂

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Cranberry Almond Chocolate Cookies

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I had planned to sit down and write this post last Tuesday, as in a week and half ago, but…went into labor instead!!

Landon David Blackwood was born 11/02/16 at 6:30pm
It was an intense 25 hours but we made it through and couldn’t be happier after our first week at home. I will be sure to share Landon’s birth story as well as constant photo updates soon!

We have spent the last week getting comfortable and acquainted with our new little man, learning all his little nuances and just enjoying his already fun personality.

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I went into labor at 41 weeks pregnant. In that last week when I was past due, I did a lot of cleaning, organizing and cooking. These cookies are one of the things I made and they were SO delicious!! Perfect amount of sweet and savory!

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Cranberry Almond Chocolate Cookies
16 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped almonds
sea salt, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large bowl (stand mixer if you have one) cream together the butter and sugars. Scrape down the side of the bowl, then add the egg and vanilla. Beat until combined.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and stir just until combined. Add in the cranberries, chocolate and almonds and stir until they are mixed in.
4. Scoop cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 14 minutes, or until golden brown  on the edges. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with sea salt Allow to cool a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.

*Original recipe from The Well Floured Kitchen

Inspired by…home of Lauren Conrad

I’ve featured the home of Lauren Conrad before, her single-girl Beverly Hills penthouse apartment. Now…she’s unveiling the remodel on her new Pacific Palisades home she shares with her husband. What can I say…I like her style! The home is a wonderful mix of Bohemian elements, glamour and feminine style.

I don’t know if I’d ever have the guts to attempt the open shelving style, like you see in Conrad’s kitchen and dining room. It sure looks pretty though. I’m also slightly obsessed with the rustic wide plank flooring and EVERYTING about the bathroom.

Enjoy all the pics! And for those of you tracking the progress…yes, I am 2 days past my due date and no baby yet…

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Maternity Photos

I thought it would be fitting to share our maternity photos the week baby is due 🙂 Only 2 more days until due date…not a whole lot of action so far…hopefully he starts making some moves soon because this mama is getting uncomfortable!

Of course our photos were shot by my amazingly talented friend, Janine, of Janine Soltman Photography. Literally, an INCREDIBLE photographer. I have never felt very photogenic yet I love all the photos she takes! Janine has such an amazing way of making people feel comfortable, laugh and have fun, and forget that they’re having their photo taken. Such a pro!

We decided to shoot the photos at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island. I saw a photo someone had posted on Instagram at this location in what looked like a field of sunflowers and instantly wanted to get the photos done there. Turns out, the “field” of sunflowers was more of a “row” of sunflowers…unless we just didn’t walk around the property enough. Nonetheless, I absolutely LOVE how all the photos turned out and we are going to cherish these photos and the memories of this time forever.

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Changing Table Upcycle

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If you’ve learned anything from me over the last couple years, it’s probably that I like white distressed furniture and it is extremely hard to find already finished. There is plenty of white furniture with no distressing and plenty of off white or cream with distressing and I even found a few bright white distressed dresser but they were $900!!…which is why I end up building my own furniture or buying an old piece and refinishing it myself.

This piece was  little different. I wasn’t finding a dresser/changing table that I wanted so I was considering making my own. However, I made my way to my 32nd week and decided this would be a terrible idea, mostly because of the pace with which I was accomplishing baby tasks (procrastination anyone?) I went searching for an old dresser to refinish, I found a few but most of the ones I liked were broken in some way. I got online one night and searched for unfinished dressers and came across this little beauty from Target.

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And…it’s on sale right now!! Regular price is $371, but you get $100 off when you spend over $350. I painted the dresser with my usual Heirloom Traditions Chalk Paint in A La Mode, it took 2 coats and then I finished it with clear wax before sanding the edges to get a distressed look. Because the base wood was so light, it’s a little tough to see the distressing in the picture but it’s there. To get a darker look, you could take a dark wax or patina to the edges as well.

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I didn’t want to use the wood knobs that came with the dresser because I wanted to add a bit of a metal/industrial look and bring in a color other than white. I found these knobs at Home Depot and they turned out great with the style I was going for.

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The changing pad is Serta Perfect Sleeper Contour Changing Pad from Babies R Us with the Serta Perfect Sleeper Changing Pad Cover in Ecru and topped with Koala Baby Essentials Terry Changing Pad Liner in Navy.

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Finally, the mirror above the changing table is the Horizontal Oval Fynn Captain’s Mirror from World Market. Unfortunately, it looks like the horizontal is sold out, but they do still have the vertical.

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I hope you all love this little space as much as I do! I can’t wait to show you the full room tour soon!

DIY Greenery Crown

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We had our maternity photos done 2 weeks ago and I am beyond thrilled with how they turned out! Of course, they were shot by my good friend, Janine, of Janine Soltman Photography, and we shot them at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island. I will do a full post of all the gorgeous photos soon, but this post is all about the eucalyptus crown that I made and wore for some of the photos. I tend to see things on Pinterest and get these ideas in my head of what I want. I ended up not wearing the crown for most of the shoot but I did love how it turned out. Using eucalyptus made the crown pretty big and full, if you wanted a thinner and not so “drapey” look (drapey…is that a thing?) you could easily substitute different greenery and you can add in flowers as well. The possibilities are endless!

Supplies
greenery or flowers of your choice
green floral tape
24 gauge floral wire
scissors
ribbon of your choice

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Step 1: Use the wire to create a circular crown, measuring it to the head of whoever is going to wear it. Don’t measure it too tight as it will get a bit tighter after adding greens, flowers and tape. Layer the wire 3 times, cut the wire and twist loose end around the crown to secure the wire in place. Then use floral tape to secure this area of the crown to maintain the correct size. Note: If you haven’t used floral tape, it is not a normal sticky tape. This is a paper tape that sticks to itself when it is stretched and pressed together.

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Step 2: Begin to build the crown. Cut small pieces of greenery or flowers, with the stem being about 1 1/2″ long. Use one piece of greenery or flower along the wire crown, hold stem with one hand and attach with floral tape with the other hand. Wrap the floral tape until the length of the stem is covered. Choose your next stem, lay it in place to that the bloom or leaves sit where you want it to and repeat wrapping the stem to the wire until it is covered. I alternated a stem of leaves and stem of buds to get the mixed and layered look.

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Continue adding greens or florals until the entire crown is covered. When you get towards the end, you will have to be a bit careful to attach the tape in between some of the first stems you attached. Go slowly so you don’t break any stems and weave the tape in between.

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Step 3: If you’d like, you can finish the look by adding ribbons to the back of the crown. Depending on what greens or florals used, this could look too busy but I simply tied them in one spot so it is easy to change your mind and remove the ribbons if you end up not liking it.

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I used a basic ivory lace ribbon and an ivory sheer chiffon ribbon and cut 2 long strips of each. I very simply, tied them in a single knot on the back side (or what would become the back side) of the crown. Once all pieces of ribbon are attached, cut the ribbon at different lengths to give it some texture.

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Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars

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I mean…I don’t really feel like I need to say much about these. The name kind of says all you need to know…Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars! We DEVOURED these! Just looking at the photo and remembering how delicious they were is making me want to whip up another batch. They were so easy too, no bake, just chill in the fridge for a bit and then eat to your hearts content. Ok, it’s settled, I’m making them again.

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars
1/4 cup salted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups finely crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 25 cookies)
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
7 ounces marshmallow crème
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coarsely crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 7 cookies), plus more for garnish

1.Stir together the melted butter and crushed cookies in a medium bowl. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; lightly grease foil with cooking spray. Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
2. Beat the cream cheese, marshmallow cream, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold in the coarsely crumbled cookies. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pan, spreading it evenly over the cookie crust. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Lift mixture from the pan using the foil overhang as a handle, and cut into bars. Garnish with more coarsely crumbled cookies, if desired.

*Original recipe from Real Simple