Nursery Trends: Wall Decals

I am a huge fan of a statement wall in a nursery. It’s the one room where you can really go wild with color and patterns, and the decor does not necessarily need to match the rest of the home. When I did my son Quinn’s nursery two years ago, I was looking for a cheaper alternative to some fabulous bird wallpaper I found, and I stumbled upon wall decals on Etsy. Very quickly, the room was built around some amazing white birch trees and I got my statement wall for less than a hundred dollars (and about 6 hours of my husband’s time. But hey, at least that part was free.).


Quinn’s nursery featuring a wall decal from designedDesigner on Etsy.

Since then, wall decals have really exploded and just about everyone has released a line of them. You can still find the most extensive catalog on Etsy, or you can shop some of the traditional retailers like Dwell, Blik or even Target for other options as well. Here are some of my picks for fresh ways to add decals to your child’s room:

Trailing Cherry Blossom Tree

Blooming Flowers

Sweet Sunshine Set

Monogram Personalization

Birds & Owls

Summer Tree (Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do apparently have a thing for trees.)

Large Alphabet Mural

Modern Ocean Whales

Patterned Leaves & Owls (I know, I know, more trees! But  this one is so pretty, I couldn’t help it.)

Fashion Finds Under Fifty: St. Patty’s Day Green

If the Luck O’ The Irish is with you then you too can score some great fashion finds for dirt cheap prices. Check out our latest picks, all in shades of green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style!

Top Row: Pam Breeze-ly Tunic; Rubber Turnlock Bracelet; Converse Chuck Taylors

Middle Row: Beaded Layered Necklace; Biltmore Overdyed Fedora

Bottom Row: Solid Triangle Bikini Top; Essie Nail Polish Green Shades; Substitute Teacher Top

Easter-Themed Treats, Sweets & Snacks

Another month, another holiday which calls for gatherings of friends and family and lots of great food. I never mind an excuse to cook for a crowd and I especially love Easter – it’s the unofficial kick-off to Spring, the windows are open, the birds are chirping, and there’s tons of great chocolate in the stores. Sure, that last part may just be my favorite but the others aren’t too bad either. If you are planning on hosting your own festive gathering this April, whether it be something fun for the kids or an all out Easter buffet, we’ve got you covered with our favorite picks for some bunny-themed treats and snacks.

Easter Basket Cupcakes

Peeps Bunny Rice Krispie Treats

Chocolate Bird’s Nest On a Spoon

Carrots in “Dirt”

Rainbow Jello Easter Eggs

Cotton-Tail Cupcakes

Carrot Crescents Filled With Egg Salad

Peeps-Shaped Cookies

DIY Chocolate Easter Bowl

Easter Nests

Goldfish “Carrot” Snacks

Peeps S’mores

Bunny Pops

Jelly Bean Bark

Easter Egg Hunt Cookies

What’s your favorite thing to make for an Easter gathering? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinner: Sloppy Joes

Every mom needs a quick and easy weeknight meal to satisfy the kids but that still qualifies as healthy. As much as I love trolling the food blogs for great dinner party recipes, I also love finding things that can be ready in a short amount of time and satisfy everyone at the table. Enter an old favorite – Sloppy Joes. Lighten them up with some extra lean ground sirloin and serve with veggies and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded meal that can be on the table in just about 30 minutes.

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin (I use 94% lean ground sirloin)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 6 hamburger buns

Directions

In a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Put back in the skillet and stir in tomato sauce and paste, ketchup, brown sugar and soy sauce; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each bun.

Original recipe found on allrecipes.com.

Spring Cleaning: Organize Your Laundry Room

We continue our spring cleaning series this week with some great tips on how to better organize your laundry room, or laundry closet, or even your laundry corner. Whatever space you have (or don’t have, as the case may be), we’ve found some innovative and easy solutions to make it work for you. Now, if I could only figure out a way to get the laundry to fold itself, this post would be a true winner…

Laundry Room Organization

Utilize the space under your washer and dryer as a basket storage and sorting area.

Stash your detergents and important items in colorful, labeled boxes and bins.

Grab some old clothing tags from stores or consignment shops and use them to separate articles by each owner while drying.

Install a pull down ironing board that is built right into a cabinet or attached to the wall.

Here’s another use for some of our favorite favorite shelves – add some Ikea Expedit bookshelves to the laundry room to keep everything organized and at eye level.

Use up every available inch and install some pegboard on the insides of your cabinet doors. This makes a great place to hang small essentials and to tack up an ever-handy stain busting guide.

Another place to hang your small items and cleaning supplies is right on your available wall space. Simply install some rods and hanging baskets and you’re good to go!

Attach a plastic bin to a cabinet door that is hinged at the bottom and you’ve got a super handy place to store your laundry detergent!

Or, if you’re a liquid detergent on top of the machine person like I am, try adding this ingenious rubber lazy susan. It keeps everything in one place for when you need it, or for when the spin cycle starts trying to move all those bottles around.

You can buy a wooden drying rack to install on your wall, or follow these instructions for how to build one yourself for a fraction of the cost.

Attach a bath towel holder to the bottom of any shelf and you’ve got yourself an instant, and roomy, place to hang your shirts while they dry.

Repurpose some unused furniture, whether it be shelving, a hutch or even an apothecary chest to further expand your storage and organization options. Anything can be helpful when used the right way.

Open shelving with a simple pull curtain in front of it can go a long way to keep supplies organized, and out of sight when not in use.

Adding a bright and cheery paint color to the walls won’t necessarily help you with organization, but it may just make you hate going into this room a little less. Plus, everything is better in color!

Bumper-Free Crib Bedding

By now, you’ve probably heard that last year the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that parents stop using crib bumpers because of the potential danger it poses to infants. Chicago has gone so far as to ban the sale of crib bumpers altogether while other states like Maryland are proposing similar measures as well. So what’s a style-seeking yet safety-conscious mama to do without the use of one of the most important pieces in the crib bedding ensemble? We’ve got the answer to that question as well as some seriously cute options, so check out our favorites from Skip Hop’s exclusive line of chic, bumper-free, side-embellished crib sheets. You won’t even miss the crib bumper when you’re done, we promise!

Elephant Parade

Pink Lattice

Alphabet Zoo

Pretty Pennant

Treetop Friends

Mod Dot

 

Easter Crafts & Activities For Kids

It’s almost here – Spring, warmer weather, brightly colored clothes, newly emerging flowers and of course, the harbinger of the season, Easter. To get you started down the bunny trail, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite and festive Easter crafts and activities. Do them with the kids or make some on your down time (ha! down time!) to spruce up your surroundings. Easter comes a little early this year on April 8th so we’ll be hopping all month long with ideas for crafts, activities, decorations, food, games and more!

Easter Thumbprint Art

Easter Bunnies & Chicks Craft

DIY Paint Chip Easter Egg Garland

Easter Party Carrots for Place Settings

Envelope Easter Bunnies

Religious Easter Countdown (Eggs filled with bible verses and reminders of what the holiday is about)

Milk Carton Bunny Basket

Speckled Butterfly Decorated Egg Boxes

Honey Bunny Bookmarks

Handprint Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny & Chick Paper Crafts

Embroidery Floss Easter Eggs

Paper Easter Flower Bouquet

Coffee Can Easter Bunny

Easter Egg Creatures

Cut Out Handprint Easter Chick

Fancy Feathered Friends

Make Your Own Easter Egg Hunt Bags

Marshmallow Easter Egg Craft

Easter Cone Critters

Eggshell Flowerpots

DIY Easter Blocks

Tomato & Spinach Soup With Mini Raviolis

This is not your mama’s tomato soup. Well, actually in my case it kind of is since I got the recipe from her originally but if your mama is still cracking open a can of Campbell’s, then I’m talking to you. I didn’t realize until trying this recipe that tomato soup can actually be good, and can actually be made with recognizable bits of tomato – imagine that.

This is a seriously great weeknight staple, it comes together fast and packs a TON of flavor from a relatively short list of ingredients. I bumped up the original recipe with the addition of mini raviolis to make it a more satisfying meal versus just a side but I’ve also done it with lots of other small pastas and tortellini and it’s good every time. My kids even love this which could be in part due to the fact that we call it muscle soup and make a big show of telling them their arms are getting bigger every time they take a bite (hello, Popeye reference that they totally didn’t get). Hey, whatever works, right?

Tomato & Spinach Soup With Mini Raviolis

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons evoo, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces
  • 2 cups good quality vegetable stock, available on soup aisle
  • 1/2 ten-ounce sack triple washed spinach, stems removed and spinach shredded with knife
  • 1 9 ounce package of refrigerated mini raviolis
  • Salt and pepper to your taste

Directions

Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, shallots and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes. Add drained tomatoes and crushed tomatoes, stir. Add stock and stir to combine soup. Stir in spinach in handfuls to wilt it and combine with soup. Season soup with salt and pepper to your taste. Bring soup to a boil, add in package of refrigerated mini raviolis. Stir and reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes to reduce.

*Note: If you have leftovers and are storing them in the refrigerator, the raviolis will soak up some of the stock and leave you with a much chunkier soup. Simply add 1-2 cups of additional stock while reheating over medium heat and stir well to combine. This will bring the soup back to the original state.

Adapted from the original recipe for Tomato & Spinach Soup by Rachel Ray

Etsy Friday Finds: Mint Home

Shop: Mint Home

Specializes in: Refurbished Furniture and Vintage Goods

Feedback: 100% Positive

Ships from: Chicago, IL

Yet another reason to wax poetic about Etsy – the ability to find the coolest vintage home furnishings repainted in bright pops of color without ever getting out of your pajamas. I seriously squealed when I found this shop, it’s just that cool. I did a search for furniture while looking for a unique piece for when the baby moves into his new room, and totally hit the jackpot with Mint Home. I’m not always a fan of vintage because I don’t want things to look like they’ve been through three generations of owners before me, so I love what they do to make old pieces look like total showstoppers. Take a mid-century highboy or side table with great lines and carefully refinish it with a slick coat of turquoise or mustard yellow or even a sedate black and white and you have furniture that looks like new yet still tells a story. Add the refurbished pieces to their chairs reupholstered in modern fabrics with a retro spin and you can definitely count me as a huge fan!

Product Review: Munchkin Numi Gate

It really wasn’t that long ago that you didn’t have a choice in baby gear, you almost always had to sacrifice style for safety unless you were willing to pay a small fortune. My oldest two boys are 7 and 5 and our choices for baby gates back then were simple – white or wood, and “looking good” was a relative term. Luckily, as I mentioned already, I have boys so if you also do, I don’t even need to say that before my third baby came along, they somehow managed to break our old gate into several unrecognizable pieces.

Once my third boy was old enough to take lessons from his brothers and start trying to throw himself down our set of wooden stairs on a daily basis, it was time to start looking for a replacement gate and as pretty as white plastic and metal can be, it just wasn’t going to cut it for me. I started doing some digging and quickly found the Munchkin Numi Gate, available in both dark wood and aluminum to match almost any modern decor.

While admittedly a bit pricier than its plastic counterparts, the Munchkin Numi Gate is worth every extra penny, especially if you’re installing it in a main room like we did. We grabbed ours from the local Target for $129.99 and aside from looking good, it works great too. Opening and closing is a snap for adults or older children, but too confusing for little hands which is exactly as it should be. The gate swings both ways which is also a big plus when lugging groceries or one of your million kids and installation was a snap. Well, installation was a snap for me at least because I just carried the box in and handed it to my husband (can’t get much easier than that) but I will say I heard a minimal amount of grumbling from him so I’m going with easy.

I am definitely willing to pay slightly more for something that is well made and can integrate with the decor of my house without screaming, “BABY”, but I can’t agree with sky-high prices just because something is modern which is why I can recommend the Munchkin Numi Gate so highly. At $129.99, you can certainly find cheaper alternatives, but there is absolutely no way you’ll find something of better quality that looks this good at a lower price point. We’ve had ours up for a year now and it still works perfectly, even with three boys and countless playdate friends constantly going in and out.


Here’s a picture of our gate installed in the main living area. I tried to get our puppy to sit all pretty in front of it like the Munchkin folks did but apparently the only thing she can do on cue is eat socks and destroy sneakers. Oh well, you get the point without her, I suppose.