Friday, February 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: 5 Fresh Ideas for Decorating with Air Plants

Today we have a guest blogger from Modernize! Enjoy these fun and simple ways to freshen your home with some greenery without all the dirt and mess! 


Let's face it, gardening with traditional plants is downright messy. With all the soil, amendments
and fertilizer necessary, growing plants indoors may not be your favorite past-time in the world
— especially when bugs show up. When you still want the beauty of nature without tracking soil
everywhere, air plants are your solution. With their exposed roots, they pull moisture from the air
instead of a soil mound. Decorate with air plants to get the most out of these unusual species
and add a bit of nature to your home.

1. Create a Candle Centerpiece

Take a look at this candle gracing the table. Although the birdcage surrounding it is elegant, the
table is missing a natural element. Use an oval tray as a centerpiece, placing the candle in the
center and surround it with air plants. You literally arrange them around the candle with no
soil necessary. You'll simply need to spray the plants with misty water periodically (experts also
suggest immersing the plants in water once a week for 15-30 minutes) to keep their roots
happy. Conversations start immediately over the dinner table with these decorations.

2. Frame Them as Artwork

Those frames up there look lonely, so fill them with air plants. Add some wire mesh into the
open frame for root support. Fishing line works perfectly as a connector between this mesh and
the plants. The foliage will appear to grow out of the wall when you're done creating the frames.
Fill all of these frames or sporadically decorate a wall with just one framed piece. Vertical
gardens are incredibly powerful decorations for a visual treat.

 Via Zillow Digs

3. Simulate Chandeliers

While this air plant looks like a jellyfish come alive, you can use this upside-down idea to create chandeliers. Take several rectangular containers with complementary colors. Add your air plant
to them, using fishing line to hold the roots to the container. Attach the container upside down
over a table, dangling it just like a chandelier. Add as many other "plant chandeliers" around the
first one for a distinct natural look in a sitting or dining room.

Via Houzz

4. Try Container Gardening

Take almost any container out of this image and make it into an air plant garden. Remove all the
container's contents and add a colorful "soil." Because the soil is truly for aesthetics, go crazy
with texture. Sand, pebbles, rocks and other items are perfectly suited to this container
environment. The plant itself could be the focal point, or add small accents around it. From
another contrasting air plant to a piece of rolled wood, the container garden is more than unique
with some imagination.

5. Create a Rock Sculpture

It's okay if you don't have this elaborate crystal for your air plant. Any rock type you find is
perfect for the project. Fit the plant's roots into rock crevices to make it appear as if it's emerging
from this substance. In reality, use that fishing line again to make the plant secure against the
rock. The roots can wrap around the rock in time, but the initial creation needs more support.
Place these decorations in bathrooms or guest rooms for a grand effect.

Via Houzz

Looking for more home decor ideas, tips and inspiration? Go to Modernize!

By Jane Blanchard

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How to: Wooden Arrow Wall Decor

Rob and I wanted Baby Rebhan's nursery to be perfect. We looked at lots of pictures and decided on certain elements we liked. We chose to make whatever we could instead of buying. It was fun to create items from simply looking at a picture and we saved lots of money doing it that way! 

One of my favorite elements in the nursery is the wooden arrow decal above our son's crib. It was a simple project that we finished in one day and it makes a big statement! 

Here is a step by step of how we completed this simple project!! 

1. GETTING SUPPLIES: We went to Home Depot to buy the wood, metal plates, screws, and brackets to hang our finished product.
For three arrows:
   - Wood: 2 Poplar 1x5 boards (6 feet each)
   - 3 L-shaped Metal Plates
   - 1inch screws
   - 3 picture hanging toothed brackets 

2. MAKING THE CUTS: We cut each board into 6 individual sections. We saved wood by making angled cuts instead of later trimming rectangles. The first cut should start at the bottom corner of the board while it's laying flat on your saw; cut a 45 degree angle off the end. You'll end up with a small triangle falling off the full board. The rest of the cuts should be measured from the bottom of the board, we chose to use 10 inch increments. The image below is a representation of the first segment only, imagine the board extending to the right (another small triangle will fall off the far end too). 

3. SANDING: After cutting the boards (see all the extra triangles in the photo below!), we sanded them so there were no rough edges from the cutting. We didn't spend a lot of time making the boards perfect because no one would ever touch them. We just made sure there were no frayed ends!

4. STAINING: After wiping any remaining sanding dust off the boards, I used old rags to apply Minwax Wood Stain in Special Walnut 224. Fortunately, we had this stain lying around the house (I had bought it for a previous project but ended up using another color). I like to use rags because the stain goes on in a thin layer verses using foam brushes and having to wipe off the access later. I also like it because you can see the result immediately. I ended up using two coats, I thought about three but figured it would be too dark compared to the other wooden elements in the nursery. We chose not to seal the arrows because, again, no one was going to be touching them and they wouldn't ever be exposed to high amounts of moisture (read water rings). 


5. ASSEMBLY: After all the boards were dry I matched them up in groups of four that fit best together. Even though they are all cut the same, there is always some human error. Once they were matched, I was able to pick which side of each board I liked the best. Because some have knots and some don't the stain is a little different on each piece. After I decided what pieces went best together, I laid the arrow face down and lined up the metal plate. I decided to put the screws in with a screwdriver instead of an electric drill with just a little (wo)man power! I was worried that the electric drill would split the wood and I didn't want to have to start over! Once the arrows were whole, I attached my hooks. I found that the "center" of the arrow was above the top corner of the metal bracket and that's where I nailed in the hooks (not pictured).  

6. HANG IT UP! It's as simple as that, hang on desired wall and enjoy!! 

I hope this can inspire you to create your own version of something you found online! It can be fun to create without guidelines but if you need them, here they are! Please let us know if you have any questions by commenting here or emailing us. As always, ENJOY and show us what you come up with!! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Parenting Favorites!

1. Fisher-Price Newborn Rock 'n Play:

We received this portable bassinet as a gift from Rob's Aunt and Oma. We hadn't registered for it but it ended up being our most used item in the first 6 weeks of Baby Rebhan's life! It's so light weight, folds down to almost nothing so it's easy to store when not in use and it was perfect to keep our new baby propped up while he slept. Ours didn't have any noise or vibration but some do. This is a new baby MUST HAVE in our book! 


2. Fisher-Price Infant to Toddler Rocker:

This transition rocker was another gift that we did not register for but are so happy that we received (thanks Meaghan and Abby)! The base can either be stationary or a rocker, the back adjusts to become a seat for toddlers and the entertainment bar is removable. Our son enjoyed the seat when it was just a rocker but now that he can pay attention to and marvel at the swinging objects, he finds this seat to be a blast! It's perfect for the kitchen when I'm cooking because it keeps him entertained for quite some time! It's also a really nice size for our small home! 


3. Carter's Sherpa Hooded Jacket and Baby Gap Bike Onesie:

These gifts aren't necessarily must-haves, but they both made Rob and I melt the first time Baby Rebhan wore them! The Carter's bear hoodie is so soft and cuddly and the ears are so precious. Baby R wore this for the first time on our way home from the hospital (thank you Hawkins)!


The Baby Gap Bike onesie is my favorite full outfit on our boy. It's made of such cozy soft cotton and it's a perfect fit on our little man. Every time he wears it I text our neighbors a picture of him in it (they bought it for him); i'm so smitten with him in these duds! 


4. Summer Infant Swaddle Me:

Rob calls these the auto-swaddle! When Baby R was very little I would swaddle him with his Aden and Anais swaddling blankets, but as he got stronger he was able to break free almost every time we wrapped him up. Rob never really got the hang of the blanket swaddle so he would always use the Summer Infant swaddles. Once we realized he wasn't able to escape from the velcro swaddles we switched over full time. They are such a help for a squirmy baby; he sleeps so well in them! Plus look at that cute little tooshie while he cuddles with his Grandma!! 


5. Aden and Anais Burpy Bibs:

I can't remember if we registered for these but if we didn't, I'm sure happy we got a couple! These are burp cloth/bib combos. The cloth is shaped kind of like a kidney bean so it fits perfectly over our shoulders for burping and it also has a snap on it for use as a bib! They are cute, offer full coverage, and are super absorbent.


+ 1. Little Remedies Little Noses Saline Drops/Spray:

This is an extra item on our favorites list today! Our neighbors had a little boy three months before our son was born! He is such a cutie, isn't he!? I asked her what their most surprising favorite baby item has been and she told me about these Saline Nose Drops. She said that they are a perfect replacement for the snot bulbs (they creep us out) and seem to be more effective anyway! We are so grateful to have neighbors going through first time parenthood with us, we can't wait until our boys are friends!! 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

bittersweet feelings

Yesterday, while cleaning around the house, I looked into our son's closet and realized that he has grown out of all his newborn clothes. Some he grew out of quickly, others he was still able to wear around his skinny waist but now he looks like he's waiting for a flood! Seeing as though he's almost 3 months, I decided that it was time to retire all the itty bitty clothes and move fully into 0-3 months. Yes, our baby is a long skinny dude!! 

Packing up his coming home outfit, his first Christmas onesie and many other outfits he wore to experience "firsts" had me feeling some seriously bittersweet feelings. As his mom, I burst with pride with every ounce he gains and every developmental milestone he hits or surpasses, but every day that he grows and learns something new is a day closer to exiting babyhood.

I know we still have a long ways to go before it is over but every single day with our boy is a beginning and an end; there in lies the bittersweet feeling. Thankfully the beginnings are so exciting and breathtaking, yet another great design in God's plan of motherhood!!

Many experienced moms have told me that even though some days can be bittersweet, the best is yet to come. Even after just 12 weeks, I completely believe them! 


Friday, February 13, 2015

my opinion on opinions

Over these past eleven weeks I have come to one conclusion: There are way too many opinions on how to raise children. People are so opinionated and even the published "professionals" differ so greatly, how are we supposed to know what's right?

The internet gives countless options for sleep patterns. One pediatrician says that swaddling is no longer "allowed", while another encourages it. Strangers scold you for taking your baby out of the house too soon. Pacifiers are evil to some and life savers to others.

With all these opinions how are confused new parents supposed to make decisions?

I was guilty of doing countless google searches on whether or not things are "normal" about our boy, which of course they were and continue to be. Rob encouraged me to stop the searching altogether. Admittedly, I just minimized the frequency and am more cautious about what sources I read from but I guess that's better than nothing!

After the first two weeks of being home with our boy, we decided that we would just do what felt right and natural for us as a family. We knew the big "no-no's" and we had been to birthing class with a bringing the baby home section. We knew that even if we had a bad day here and there in the beginning, a schedule would emerge that worked best for our family. Well, thankfully we were right and it has!

Personally, I am so glad we went that route! Now, eleven weeks later we have a loose but stable schedule and a happy, easy-going baby that can sleep in a noisy room, doesn't fuss on outings, loves to be swaddled and can take or leave a pacifier.

This is not to say that people haven't had great success with the methods on the internet. All I am saying is that if there seem to be too many opinions to sort through, maybe it's best to set them aside and see what feels natural for a while. Sometimes the research will end up being best or maybe you'll end up with a nice mix of research and natural timing. Just feel it out and please don't ever think you can't do it! YOU CAN!!

The other day, I was visiting with a friend who just gave birth to her second daughter. She told me that when she doesn't quite know what to do she just asks herself, "How would the pioneer women have done it?" As we laughed it dawned on me: although I am SO thankful for modern medicine and all the advancements that have been made since the pioneer days, I know that if they could do this so can I!

For all you moms feeling like the first weeks are "the worst," I promise that they go fast! We are almost to the three month mark (which I can't believe!) and while I'm no professional, I feel confident in saying that things "normalize" more quickly that it seems they would!

But hey, don't take it from me, this is just another opinion after all!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mommy moments: One Long Hour

This past Sunday was the first time that we had a truly inconsolable baby on our hands. Usually when our son is cranky it's for a normal baby reason: he's hungry, he's tired, he's got a dirty diaper or he's uncomfortable. Normally it's a quick fix to get a smile back on his face, all we have to do is directly address the problem and it's solved.

Sunday was not a normal day. Baby Rebhan, having not slept well on Saturday night, just barely made it through his Great Grandma's 92nd birthday party on Sunday afternoon. By the time we got home our boy was not a happy camper. We tried all the "tricks" we have learned in the last two months but nothing was working. 

It was the first time that Rob and I looked at each other and actually said "what do we do now?" For a moment it felt we would never be able to satisfy our boy and that not knowing how to help him right away made us less capable as parents. One long hour later, I was cuddled with our sleeping son on the glider in his nursery feeling like the most capable mommy in the world. 

This mommy moment came when I felt the least like one. Even when I was feeling incapable and none of my tricks were working, I was able to calm my son. It took an hour of singing, rocking and cuddles that, looking back, I wouldn't exchange for anything.

It seems crazy to be thankful for the rough parenting moments but they put the rest of our days into perspective. We live a life with the sweetest, happiest baby and I couldn't be a happier mommy. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Making it all fit

Now that we have lived here for more than a year the basement has undergone some renovation, reorganization and most recently we've changed it's function.

When we first moved in we used the basement as an office of sorts. Rob's computer was down there as was my crafting desk, so we used the space to work on projects and hang out while the other was working. It wasn't decorated, there was barely any furniture and it felt like a dark basement. It was a waste of much needed space in our small home. 

Over the summer we decided that we wanted to have some part of the house, other than our bedroom, that was carpeted. We figured with a baby on the way we should have some space to put toys and let a babe romp around without fear of falling on the hardwood or marble flooring. The basement seemed like the best option since it would mean that we wouldn't have to cover any of the original wood floors. Plus the existing basement carpet was horrendous so it was the perfect choice. Below is a picture from when the laundry room flooded, yet another reason to rid the basement of it's old floor covering. 

The original carpet in the basement was directly on the cement floor so it was hard as a rock. We called Empire and it was a simple process that was started and finished in two days. We chose a very neutral color but added padding and a deeper plush to the carpet itself; much more acceptable for a baby to crawl all over and the change made the basement feel more like a part of the house. 

You can see in the picture on the left above that we left the original carpet 
on the stairs because we plan on refinishing with a rustic wooden stairway. 

Once the carpet was installed, we needed a place to put the furniture that had been in the den because that room would now be the nursery. This is when we had to do some problem solving, without getting rid of any furniture we had to add a whole new room to our house. 

Rob's desk moved up into the nook in our bedroom where the dogs beds used to be. Moving his desk created space in the basement for the futon and one of the black side tables that was formerly in the den. We also took the tv and buffet from the living room and moved it one floor straight down. Now we have a living room on the main floor and a family room in the basement. The black cubicle unit is now part of an entertainment unit in our bedroom and the only piece we retired was the red chair... it had seen better days. 

The transition happened little by little but now it seems like this is the way our house should have been set up all along. We stretched the little bit of space we have as far as it will go and we are very happy with the way it feels now!