Month: June 2013

A Bright and Cheerful Nursery Tour

It’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures of Baby Brownie’s nursery. The last tour I posted was before Baby Brownie was born, and there are a few functional updates that I added after she actually joined us. I also added a few more pops of color here and there.

nursery 3

Compare this to the previous nursery tour and you’ll see a few small differences:

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First of all, we got rid of the rocker and replaced it with a small and super comfy loveseat. Baby Brownie never really liked being held and rocked (I know, what a weirdo!), and the loveseat allows us to sit and read a book with her, or just hang out in her room.

Plus, it literally just kills me when she lounges on the sofa like a big girl. She just loves sitting there like the big people and it’s kind of the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Funny how the most inane things are freakishly adorable when it’s your kid.

nursery 10

We also added blackout linings to the thin IKEA curtains. I just bought 4 yards of blackout fabric at Joann’s (used a 50% off coupon) and sewed them to the backs of the curtains; just one straight seam right at the top. Baby Brownie’s naps got quite a bit longer after we added those.

Oh and on the left of the above picture you can see the open closet. We still haven’t gotten around to putting closet doors or a curtain up, but I actually don’t mind seeing everything, as long as it’s moderately neat.

nursery 2

A folding table was brought over by the couch to hold the humidifier (the table is taller than the IKEA LACK table we had there before, which means we can put a few things on it without Baby Brownie pulling them down).

We added a larger, more substantial, and more colorful rug (from IKEA) to create more play space for her.

I added some Skip Hop Wall Decals on the wall over the crib.

nursery 11

We didn’t really get a baby bedding set as we didn’t want a traditional crib bumper. We did eventually get a mesh crib bumper because the baby kept getting her leg stuck between the slats. We’ll remove that as soon as she shows signs of trying to climb out of the crib.

nursery 4

We also didn’t go for a specific nursery theme. We just went with what we had and what worked. It all ended up matching pretty well. Lots of bright colors and animals!

nursery 7

Numbered bins from IKEA hold random toys, books, and socks. Floral hooks from World Market hold her towel. Speaking of which, I need to add a 3rd hook to the left, don’t I? It’s looking pretty lopsided.

nursery 6

These bins may not look like much but when I’m doing a frenzied last-minute tidy of Baby Brownie’s room it’s nice to just throw stuff in there.

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I know dark furniture isn’t as trendy now but I still like our dark cherry finish nursery furniture. The map print I bought online and finally put up securely with 3M Command strips after it fell down several times.

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nursery 8

I love that fox clock. I bought it in Toronto at the Superstore ($10! Can’t beat it!) with my sister who was pregnant at the time with Baby Brownie’s cousin. The two girls have the same clock hanging up in their room even though they’re several thousand miles apart with a 3-hour time difference =).

The art is a cheapo $2 Walmart frame I spray painted and I added some free printable art.

nursery 3

I feel like the room is much more functional now, with more seating, the blackout curtains, some convenient storage, and a clock! And it’s definitely more colorful now too. Guess you can never be totally prepared for having a baby…you really just have to wait till the little one arrives to know exactly what you need!

Dear readers, those of you who have kids, what did you end up unexpectedly needing or not needing after your child was born? Did that change your nursery decor?

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Sharing at The Shabby Nest, Remodelaholic, BetweenNapsOnThePorch, SavvySouthernStyle, ThriftyDecorChick and ChiconaShoestring!

New Outdoor Pillow Covers

sewing outdoor pillows title

As I’ve mentioned before, this summer I’ve been focusing on fixing up our outdoor living area (for example how I spray painted our patio table). We spend so much time outdoors (God bless that beautiful Southern California sunshine) that I want our outdoor space to feel like an extension of the house. And what better way to bring color and comfort to the outdoors than with a set of outdoor cushions?

Chris almost always rolls his eyes when I mention making new cushions (what is it with husbands and their universal disdain of accent pillows?). But even he was happy with how well these outdoor pillows turned out. Especially since I reused the old outdoor cushions for the stuffing — Chris is always happy with a recycle/reuse project.

chevron pillow

Joann’s had a sale on outdoor fabrics (everything 50% off) so I picked up some beautiful fabrics in shades of blue, aqua, and green. The trellis and chevron patterns are by Waverly Sun ‘n’ Shade and the floral is PKL Outdoor “Rosette”. Our old outdoor cushions were about 18″ square, so I made the new covers to fit. I made these outdoor pillow covers the easiest way possible — using envelope closures.

ikea outdoor couch

You’ll need outdoor fabric, a sewing machine, an iron, scissors, a yardstick (or cutting mat) for measuring, and Outdoor Thread. This last one is very important! Outdoor thread is made of heavy-duty polyester and is designed to withstand rain and UV rays. Don’t use regular cotton thread unless you don’t mind your hard work falling apart after a season of use. (Read more about how to sew using outdoor thread at the Coats and Clark blog. I followed their instructions to a T except that I used a size 16 needle instead of 18 and it worked fine.)

One yard of fabric is just enough to make two 18-inch cushion covers because they usually cut it a little bigger than 36″, but make sure you measure out exactly how much you need…you don’t want to be short an inch or two. For one pillow, cut a 19″ x 46″ rectangle (this length gives you extra fabric for the overlap and hemming of the envelope closures as well as the top and bottom seam allowance).

sewing pillow

Fold over each short end twice (right side out) and iron down flat. Outdoor fabric doesn’t iron down too easily, and you want to avoid using too much heat as it can melt the polyester. So after you’ve made a crease, pin the folds to hold them down. Hem them on your sewing machine, backstitching at each end. Sew slowly, as the thick outdoor thread isn’t as flexible as normal thread.

(The hardest part of this whole project might be threading your sewing machine with the outdoor thread…I always have to look at the manual to make sure I’m getting each step right! Be sure to increase the stitch length a little bit to allow for the thicker thread.)

measuring outdoor pillow

With the wrong side out, fold the rectangle so that the hemmed ends overlap. Use a yardstick to measure 18″, and adjust the overlap so that you’ve got an 18″ x 19″ rectangle. Pin in place.

Sew the raw top and bottoms closed using a 1/3″ to 1/2″ seam allowance, making sure to catch the hemmed ends of the envelope. If you like, you can backstitch over the envelope opening to give it some extra strength.

Turn it right-side out and stuff your pillow form inside! I used an old outdoor pillow (that I washed and bleached to make sure any dirt/mold was gone), but you can also order a pillow form online, like this 18″ Polyester Pillow Form on Amazon.

sewing outdoor pillows

You can use this super easy method to make any envelope pillow cover, not just for sewing outdoor cushions! Just use regular fabric and thread.

My total cost for this project was about $22. The chevron fabric was a half-yard remnant that I got for $2.22 and the other fabrics were 50% off. MUCH cheaper than buying new outdoor pillows (average $12 each for the cheapest ones).

outdoor couches

I am really diggin’ my new outdoor cushions! They dress up the IKEA outdoor sectional soooo nicely and they give that free-by-the-side-of-the-road patio set a new lease on life! I’ll have to take better pics later when the sun isn’t as bright, but this gives you an idea. I love sitting out there with a cold drink!

Sharing at SavvySouthernStyle, TheShabbyCreekCottage, RemodelaholicShabbyNest, NotJustAHousewife, ThriftyDecorChick and IvyandElephants!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Painting Grout Lines

We only have one operational bathroom in our house, so it is used for our needs as well as guests. The other bathroom is gutted down to the studs right now so this bathroom is it, for two adults and one baby. I mean, first world problems, right…three people sharing ONE bathroom, oh my! I really can’t complain.

Our current bathroom isn’t in terrible shape… It’s definitely livable. It was updated at some point, probably during the 90s, so there’s nothing major that is in dire need of an overhaul right now. However, the grout lines between the tiles were nothing short of icky.

dirty grout

I don’t think they had ever been sealed to begin with, so every bit of dirt just stuck onto the grout like white on rice. And I don’t think the grout had ever been cleaned either. In the photo below, it looks like the grout lines are brown/gray, but they’re actually supposed to be WHITE! It’s so dirty it just looks like they’re dark.

dingy grout floor

After living with it for a year, the grime just started to get to me. It made the whole bathroom feel dirty. Even after I tried covering it up with bath mats, it just made the whole space dingier and it just wasn’t a happy place to be. So finally, we headed to the Home Depot and picked up some supplies to remedy the situation.

We grabbed a bottle of Polyblend Grout Renew in Delorean Gray, which is a nice steel-gray color. I chose a darker color to ensure that it would cover up any dirt that still remained.

First, we cleaned with TileLab Sulfamic Acid Cleaner, a strong cleanser recommended on the grout paint bottle. You mix it with water (8oz to a gallon) and apply it with a toothbrush.

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It worked pretty well. You could really see the difference after using the grout cleaner.

grout contrast

It wasn’t quite good enough though. There was still quite a bit of dirt embedded in there. A good reminder to SEAL, SEAL, SEAL your grout if you don’t want to end up with a similar mess!

That’s when we broke out the Polyblend grout paint. The instructions said to use a toothbrush but we used an old craft paintbrush with pretty stiff bristles for better control.

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You apply the paint to the grout, working it back and forth with the brush so it really gets into the porous grout.

applying grout paint

It’s best to work in small sections at a time (for me, one section of one line at a time). Wipe off any excess paint on the glazed tile immediately, or it will start to dry and you’ll have a harder time cleaning it up.

It might be a good idea to start behind the toilet in case you mess up a bit at first.

NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend this product for use with unglazed tile or natural stone. It might stick on the tile and never come off.

remove excess grout paint

I used a piece of tissue, wrapped it around my finger, and ran my finger in a continuous line along the side of each grout line to remove the excess grout paint. This was the hardest part, and to be honest, it took me a while to get the hang of it so I wasn’t smearing paint everywhere.

You’ll probably still have some smears of paint on the tile here or there. Don’t worry. Just wait until the grout paint has a chance to set  for about 30 minutes. Then use a damp rag and buff the extra paint off the glazed tile, being careful not to scrub the paint off the actual grout.

The whole process took me about 2 hours, for a pretty tiny bathroom. It wasn’t quite as easy as I expected, but the results are pretty nice.

painted grout

The grout paint dried a tiny bit darker than when it was wet. It definitely covered up any dirt that was left after the grout cleaning, and it looks like grout, not like paint. In fact, our bathroom looks like it has been newly tiled!

how to paint grout

The faux marble porcelain tile wasn’t my favorite tile to begin with but the grout paint makes it look 100 times better. I like that the gray of the grout picks up the gray in the “marble” so it feels like it belongs (unlike the yellowish off-white grout before). And I LOVE that my bathroom doesn’t feel dirty and grimy anymore! The Polyblend grout paint is a paint and sealer in one, so I’m hoping the results will last for quite a while. And since we still have plenty of grout paint left, we can always do touch-ups later.

Again, here’s the before:

dingy grout floor

And the after:

how to paint grout

A subtle, but significant, difference.

Are you thinking of refreshing some old dingy grout in your home? If so, I’d definitely recommend using grout paint! Although it takes a bit of elbow grease, the results are awesome.

8 Month Update: The grout paint is holding up great by the way! See more pictures of the bathroom here!

Sharing at HopeStudios!

Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

coconut crusted chicken

Here’s a fun twist on an old classic! Thinking about doing fried chicken and potatoes this summer? Maybe to pack for your Fourth of July picnic? This recipe is fast, easy, and is a crowd pleaser. Instead of a typical breadcrumb breading, the crust on this chicken is made of dried coconut and panko. If you wanted to make it gluten-free, you could even omit the panko and it would still be delicious!

I fell in love with sweet potatoes when I was doing a Whole30, which is basically a one-month cleanse that follows the principles of the paleo (or caveman) diet. Although I don’t think the paleo lifestyle is for me in the long haul, I do keep its principles in mind while meal planning. I try to use more complex, more nutritious carbs when I can, instead of relying on refined grains. White sweet potatoes are an excellent substitute for traditional mashed potatoes. They mash up soooo easily and they have such a great flavor.

These days, I mostly love recipes that are easy and fast, and that can be left to cook by themselves while I play with my toddler. This coconut crusted chicken fits the bill! Just add a tossed salad for a quick and healthy meal.

coconut chicken

Coconut Crusted Chicken
4 servings

10 chicken drumsticks
2 eggs
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (optional)
Lawry’s seasoning salt
olive oil

Note: Omit breadcrumbs to make this gluten-free. Instead, add more coconut as needed. If you’re planning to make this paleo, you may also need to sub salt, pepper, and your own spices (I like smoked paprika) in stead of the seasoning salt.

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Sprinkle seasoning salt all over the chicken and rub in gently with your hands.
3. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Mix panko and coconut together in a shallow bowl. Dip each chicken drumstick in the eggs, and then dunk them in the coconut mixture.
4. Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, transfer half of the breaded drumsticks to the hot skillet. Fry, turning once, until browned on both sides. Transfer them to a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining drumsticks.
5. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 medium-large white sweet potatoes
salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup whole milk (optional)

Note: butter and milk are optional if you want to make this paleo.

1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes.
2. Place in medium saucepan and add cold water to cover.
3. Cover; place on stove over medium-high heat until water boils. Lower heat to a simmer.
4. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain sweet potatoes.
5. Mash in a bowl with salt, pepper, butter, and milk. Serve!

Super Easy DIY: Baby Block Photo Holder

baby block photo holder

My little sister recently had a beautiful baby girl and I threw her a shower while I was back in Canada a few months ago. My other sister and I made these cute baby block photo holders as a party favors for the shower guests and I really like how they turned out!

You’ll need:

Wooden baby blocks
Wooden clothespins
Acrylic craft paint + paintbrush
Hot glue gun

Paint the clothespins with the craft paint in the color of your choice (I chose yellow). Let it dry (I pinned mine on a piece of cardboard to paint and dry, so I didn’t have to be holding onto it anywhere).

block back

Decide which side of the block you want facing outwards, and hot glue the clothespin to the back of the block.

It’s as simple as that!

The guests had a lot of fun looking for the letters of their choice. We also used them during the shower to hold baby pictures of the future mom and dad! They were a fun and budget-friendly party favor (less than $1 a block when you buy a set of blocks).

block with pic

I think a fun twist on this idea would be to use washi tape to decorate the clothespin instead of (or perhaps in addition to) the paint. If you wanted to make it fit your color scheme you could also paint all the blocks a uniform color. Can you think of other variations?

Sharing over at See Vanessa Craft!

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