30 August 2013

Pinned It & Did It: Washing a Pack-n-Play

It's time for a practical Pinned It & Did It.

Pin. Original Source.

I bought a used travel size Pack-n-Play when we were moving last fall and a place for Madeleine to sleep at both houses. At the time, I gave it a good wipe with my favorite wipes and called it good. This weekend, I finally threw the whole thing into the bath tub for a good scrub and soak.

I started with some hot, clean water...

...with these go-to products...

...added the crib, mattress, and accessories...

...and ended up with dirty water.

Then I rinsed everything and set it up to dry with the fan running in the bathroom. Because it's travel sized, I just sat the whole thing in the tub to dry. Indeed, it now looks a fair bit cleaner. I'm a big fan of buying used baby/kiddo stuff, so it's good to know that this works for even the things that don't appear to be fully washable.

28 August 2013

Little Plus Quilt

It's been a while since the 52-week photo/fabric project concluded, and you might be wondering what I'm doing with 52 yards of fabric. Before the project concluded, I cut into the fabric stash to make a little quilt to give Madeleine for her first birthday. The quilt was meant to go with the doll we gave her, Stella.

I wanted to wait until after the birthday to share it, and, in doing so, I've nearly forgotten to share it with you. So, here is Stella's little plus quilt in all its crinkly, busy goodness:

Madeleine loves to lay on it, wrap it around her, and use it to play peek-a-boo. Hopefully she'll use it to keep Stella warm one day down the road.

26 August 2013

Summer Play Date with the Midglets

Even though we missed much of their visit, the Midgleys scheduled a play date for the day Madeleine and I returned from Ohio. 

The boys are still just small enough to share a swing. Smiles all around!

Synchronized swinging!

Photobombing! (Hi, Tom!)

Serious Will cuteness!

Serious Tom cuteness!

Serious Madeleine cuteness! 

Good sharing!

A little intervention before an eye was poked out...

And some very enthusiastic raspberry eating!

As you might be able to tell from the quantity of exclamation points in this post, we enjoyed getting to hang out with the Midglets and their parents for an afternoon. It's our turn to visit them in California, so time to book the tickets! 

Want to see the progression of these three? Check out last October and this past March

23 August 2013

Pinned It & Did It: Furniture Painting Sans Sanding

Who doesn't love the idea of refinishing furniture without the hassle of sanding? I'd looked at this pin several times, wondering when I'd find the right piece of furniture to give it a try.

Pin. Original Source.

Well, a month or so ago, we received a call from our neighbors who wanted to give us a few large kid items that they were purging while their kids were visiting their grandparents. It seems that tweens and teenagers no longer need a rocking horse or a kiddy table and chair set but might have a hard time letting go. We gladly accepted the items, and Madeleine has enjoyed them nearly every day since.

A quick wipe of the rocking horse, and he was good to go. (For the record, I love these wipes.)

I had a colorful vision for the table and chairs, however. Structurally, they're in perfect shape having been made from solid wood and tightly woven wicker. On the surface, I wasn't crazy about the finish and thought it'd look even better if we could cover up the cup rings, glitter, and paint left from lots of loving use.

We lived with the set as-is for a couple of weeks while we confirmed that it fit Madeleine and I figured out a plan for refinishing them. I considered renting or buying a sander, stripping everything down to raw wood, and painting it fresh. Then, I remembered the pin that claimed I could paint furniture without sanding it. I decided that this would be the perfect project for testing a shortcut because I can always sand it down and start again later (thank you, solid wood). Feeling like this was a now or never project, I dashed to Home Depot one Sunday morning to get supplies and get moving.

(Psssst. That's our new family room paint color. Isn't it delicious?)

The chair seats (wicker) got one coat of this primer and two or three coats of this paint in gloss white. I'm really, really pleased with the results and wonder if I've finally mastered spray painting. Repeat after me: less is more.

The table and rest of the chairs got one coat of this primer, per tutorial instructions, followed by three coats of this paint spread over two or three days. The color was matched to Glidden Candy Apple.

Here's where you gain some wisdom from my mistakes. In hind sight, I wish I would have tinted the primer because I had only just completely covered the white with the third coat. It really could have used a fourth coat, but I was out of patience and worried that too many coats would compromise the paint's durability. I also can't help but wonder if I would have been happier with smoother results from spray painting rather than using a brush and roller. It remains to be seen how durable the paint will be, especially because the finish is a bit "sticky" even after drying for a couple weeks, but no chips yet. All that said, I have no regrets. I love the new colors, and I'm glad that it's done.

Good addition to Madeleine's play area in the den? I think so. (Yep, that's the rocking horse. Isn't he darling?)

What now or never project have you taken on recently?

21 August 2013

Kid Tour of Ohio

As I mentioned on Monday, Madeleine and I spent last week in Ohio visiting family and friends. Gone are the days when my trips home entailed sleeping till noon, spending minimal time with family, and going out with friends each night until the wee hours of the morning. Now, visits to Ohio include as much family and close friend time as possible, sometimes overlapping, and lots of play dates.

Of course, Madeleine's grandparents collected as many cuddles as possible and even babysat a few mornings and an evening while I caught up with friends.

Miss M had mid-week play dates with two different families of cousins. Unfortunately, I had a mommy failure and forgot to get the camera out at one of them.

Madeleine is nearly birthday buddies (exactly one week apart) with the daughter of our friends, Sarah and Rob. We were able to swing by for a play date with Alexandra and Sarah, and it was fun - if a bit surprising - to see how similar Madeleine and Alexandra are in size and manner of play. Unsurprisingly, they both liked each other's sippy cup more than their own and both loved the dogs' beds. Ha!

Compare with last year's photo, when they were nearly 7 and 8 weeks, respectively.

When we celebrated my dear friend, Denaye, and her upcoming baby, our friend, Stacie, brought her girls. Madeleine, Parker, and Teagan had a great time playing. It was absolutely heart-melting to hear Parker ask, "where is baby Madeleine?" whenever Madeleine wasn't within her reach. It was also fabulous to catch up with my friends, even if briefly, and to celebrate Denaye!

Miranda, Parker, Stacie, Teagan, Denaye, Madeleine, Amanda

Just before we left, we had a larger family gathering where Madeleine and I got to meet her twin cousins (my first cousin's daughters) from DC. It was such a treat for all of us to have been in town at the same time!

Of course, we took advantage of the opportunity to capture most (sadly, not quite all) of the newest generation of the family. I now desperately want to get my hands on a photo of my generation because I'm pretty sure the resemblances would be striking. The oldest in this picture is the son of the oldest in my generation, and I'm pretty sure he would be holding on to the younger cousins just like his son. And you'd probably find me sucking the exact same fingers as Madeleine in every picture, too.

I love visiting and building new memories with my Ohio family, but I admit that it is good to be home. After nearly eight years in the Seattle area, I can confidently say that this is home.

For the inquiring minds, Madeleine was a super traveler. She had a rough time falling asleep on our red eye flight to DC, but then she fell asleep for the remainder of the flight and handled an extended layover, connecting flight, and five hour daytime return flight like a total champ. After our Phoenix disaster, I think my traveling with baby confidence has been restored. Watch out, world!

19 August 2013

Girl + Dog

Madeleine and I spent this past week in Ohio visiting my family. One of the perks was that Miss M got to spend lots of time with her favorite creatures: dogs! My mom and stepdad have two dogs, an elderly rescue Golden Retriever named Grace and an adolescent Chinese Crested (powder puff, not hairless) named Max. She also got the thrill of meeting some other family and friend dogs.

Because Max is rather protective, still somewhat juvenile, and quite unpredictable, Madeleine only got to directly interact with him under very controlled circumstances. Even though she couldn't freely pet Max, Madeleine enjoyed watching him from her high chair and through the glass doors.

Grace is the epitome of a kid-friendly dog. Madeleine stuck her fingers in Grace's mouth and nose, patted her, laid on top of her, cuddled her, and generally made Grace an extension of her body. Grace not only tolerated it but seemed to enjoy it at least part of the time.

By the end of the visit, Madeleine would enthusiastically respond "dog!" when asked what Max and Grace are, and she mastered panting like a dog (thanks for the encouragement, Grandma). It's too bad that a dog is not in our foreseeable future because I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the joy Madeleine experienced thanks to a few special pooches.

16 August 2013

Pinned It & Did It: Large Mounted Picture

I loved these large pictures when I saw the pin, but I wasn't sure how I was going to implement it one day. Here's the inspiration:

Pin. Original Source.

When it came time to plan decorations for the first birthday party, I decided that it was time to pull out this project.

When I went to the craft store to buy the foam board, it was more than I wanted to pay ($15 or so for a foam core poster board). As luck would have it, the same store had small science fair display boards on sale for $2.99. Sold. A little duct tape on the back, and you'd never know that it wasn't a solid board.

Printing was super easy. I just took my thumb drive to this store and had them print an 18x24 engineer print for $1.97. Guess what - that's exactly the size of the board. 

The hardest part of this project, by far, was mounting the picture to the board using spray adhesive without getting bubbles, even with an extra set of hands. In fact, I completely ruined the first print and had to have the picture re-printed. It still wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for the few hours we had it displayed with a little bunting at the party.

I hung it by taping string to the back of the board and using a simple Command hook.

This is a fun, inexpensive way to create over-sized, personalized decorations for a celebration, but I think I'd need a lot more spray adhesive practice before I'd tackle this project for a permanent decoration.

And - finally - that is the last birthday party project that was inspired by Pinterest. So, what's your latest Pinterest-inspired project?

09 August 2013

Pinned It & Did It: Pea and Herbed Goat Cheese Tart

Yep, I'm mixing up the series by sharing one of our favorite recent recipes from Pinterest. I must admit that we make far more meals based on Pinterest recipes than cookbooks these days. Our collection of cookbooks is probably lonely, but I have a hard time resisting the visual appeal of Pinterest recipes.

I digress.

This little beauty caught my eye.

Pin. Original Source.

Both times that I've made it, I've cheated and used store bought pie crust. I'm sure it's less healthy that way, but it makes this a really simple meal worthy of regular rotation as a weekday dinner. I've also used whatever herbs I can get my hands on rather than exactly following the recipe. So far, so good.

What's on your summertime menu?

07 August 2013

Girls, Girls, Girls!

When we found out that our baby was going to be a girl baby, I remember the great joy being accompanied by a feeling of great responsibility. Raising a healthy, well-adjusted, confident, curious, independent girl is a complicated operation. Not that raising a healthy, well-adjusted, confident, curious, independent boy isn't complicated, but there are fewer social forces working against you in that situation. Also, I happen to be much more familiar with the former given that I'm a girl myself.

Girls are subject to all sorts of stereotypes and assumptions, many of them quite unflattering. Take this t-shirt being marketed to young girls as just one tiny example. It doesn't take long for these stereotypes and assumptions to become part of the fabric of young girls' minds.

Madeleine's sponge-like qualities have become really apparent to me in the last week. Suddenly, she has started to be able to identify parts of her body that we talk about regularly (the feet that I'm always trying to find when putting on her pants, for example). She responds to my statements and questions appropriately, such as going to get a particular book or toy when I mention it. It hit me: at 13 months, she already understands much of what I'm saying.

How am I going to use what I say to help shape her into a healthy, well-adjusted, confident, curious, independent girl? Let's just say that I find myself filtering my thoughts more and more as I realize that she's understanding more and more. I'd like to share a few articles that have helped make me more aware of what I'm doing and saying.

No, I'm not perfect. For a start, I need to make comments about Madeleine's size much less often and expose her to science much more often. Fortunately, parenting isn't about perfection, but it is about doing the very best you can, trying a little harder each day, and being as aware as possible about the consequences of your choices. I think I can do that. 

*I'm not sure that I share the "shy" rant, but I definitely agree with the rest.

05 August 2013


It's hard to believe that we're just a few weeks from the one year anniversary of making the original offer on our house. Although this house has felt like home from day one, we still think about it as the "new house" because we consider this last (nearly) year just a moment compared to the time we intend to spend living here. Alas, we haven't rushed into hanging much on the walls - partially because of wanting to get it right and partially due to intimidation at making some cohesive decorating plan for our (rather large) home.

Recently, I threw that all out the window and declared that we should try to hang at least one thing every day. I'm pretty good at patching nail holes and applying touch up paint, so there really isn't that much to lose if we change our minds in a week, a year, or a decade. We haven't exactly met that lofty goal, but we have hung quite a few things and made decisions about most others.

Last week, my big project was our stairway.

I love looking at the faces of some of our nearest and dearest throughout the day, and I hope this serves as a vehicle to teach Madeleine their names.

What do you do to make your house feel like your home?

02 August 2013

Pinned It & Did It: Birthday Party Details

Giant Balloon Ice Cubes

I pinned this idea a looooong time ago. Ok, maybe a year ago, but it seems like a loooong time ago.

Pin. Original Source.
Water balloons as giant ice cubes. Genius! Well, almost.

I would have done well to go to the original source and read how the use of water balloons is not recommended because they're not strong enough. Unfortunately, I didn't do that, and I did use water balloons rather than regular balloons. As a result, the balloons broke and left tiny (dangerous) pieces of balloons all over the place. I did get the desired huge ice cubes, but it wasn't easy to maneuver them around the drinks they were chilling due to the balloon pieces, temperature of the ice, and 90-degree air temperature. You'll have to ask George about how fun it was to fill the water balloons. (Hehe.)

I'm calling this one a fail...but a fail that I'm willing to try again with the right materials.

Photographs Displayed in the Shape of a Number

Raise your hand if you've seen this one? Thought so. It's pretty popular on Pinterest and super easy.

Pin. Original Source.

I decided to mount my photos on a poster board so that I could assemble it ahead of time. Before bringing out the pictures, I drew a giant 1 on the board. Using the 1 as a guide, I mounted as many adorable baby pictures of our group of kiddos as possible.

At the party, I displayed it in a window, facing outside so that the babies could get their hands all over it and not hurt the pictures. Unfortunately, that made it pretty difficult to photograph.

The poster is now displayed at Madeleine height in her room. Just yesterday (good timing, kiddo!), she noticed that it's there and started squealing at seeing all of her friends' faces staring back at her. I'm calling this one a win!

What are you pinning and doing these days?