Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Nursery: Decorative Sign

I love all the trend of the quote signs. Just basic letters with a quote or saying that reflects something important to you or a central theme. I knew I wanted one for Jack's nursery, but didn't want to spread $200 for some of the ones I found on Etsy, so I decided to make my own!

When I was little, my mom always sang "You Are My Sunshine" to me. It still think of it when I think of her. I have dreamed of the day I get to sing to to my own children. I thought it was very fitting quote for my son's room.

So it seemed pretty simple. Buy some boards, put them together, paint and hang. Or so I thought....

I showed Michael some examples of the sign, and he pointed out that the sign we have above the fireplace is the same basic idea. So he looked at it's construction. Three boards across with two boards to secure the others in place.

So Michael bought 3 pieces of finished hobby board from Home Depot and cut them to the appropriate lengths, resulting in 3 long and 2 shorter pieces. Our sign is about 2 feet by 1.5 feet, because the wall we wanted to place it on the wall is not that big. If you have a larger room, you may want to make your dimensions bigger.

Then Michael glued the the 3 longer pieces on the edges together with basic Elmers Wood Glue widthwise. Then he glued the smaller boards across on the bottom lengthwise. Similar to the image above.

Then I painted the front of the orange using the same paint we used for the walls (see baseball seam post). I only did one coat so the grain would still show, giving it a more vintage feel.

Then came the text...the stupid, stupid text. I have horrible handwriting so I knew I could never free-hand it. Michael has nice handwriting, but couldn't make the fancy font I wanted. So I first came up the with idea of printing out the text I wanted and tracing it.

Then I realized that I didn't know how to trace the letters without leaving big pencil marks or having tape pull the paint off. After some thought and consultation from others, I decided to print the text out again, but this time use the paper the letters were cut from as a stencil.

I did the first coat with Crayola Washable Kids Paints (the same I used for the wall letters), but it was not thick enough. So I used the same white we used for the nursery walls. The stencil did the basic job, but left the edges a little messy and uneven. So I went back over with both the orange and white paint to clean it up. Then I needed to paint the sun. For the circle, I just traced 8 inch pot. I free-handed the waves. The color is a mix of the white and orange painted I already used on the sign. About 70% orange to 30% white.

I let it dry for a day before I sealed with Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer Spray. I did about two medium coats. Just a word of warning, this stuff is potent. Please do this outside in a well ventilated area. And let it dry and defuse for several days before you bring inside.

Michael hung it up with a simple sawtooth hook on the sign and picture frame hook in the wall. We placed it between the two baseball seams, but not over the crib in case of earthquakes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Nursery: The Crib

I had no idea cribs were so complicated. Do you want changer combo or a standard crib? A convertible one? What color? How big of slots? Does it have stationary or drop sides? What is the maximum mattress height? Wood, metal, or plastic? Do you want to skip a crib, and do a bassinet or pack n' play instead?

After some research (links provided below), I figured out what I wanted. We have a bassinet that my in-laws used for all of their kids that is still in great condition. We want to use that while he is really little so he can be right next to our bed. But we still wanted a crib in the nursery for when he got older. We wanted it to be wood, to match the baseball theme. Also, we wanted it to be lighter in color like a baseball bat---but not too boyish so if we had a girl in a few years it wouldn't match girly stuff. I wanted it to have stationary sides so he can't hurt himself he if climbs out. Because the room is small, I liked the crib/change combos to save space.

Once we figured all that out, we were in for major sticker shock. Cribs are so freaking expensive! We fell in love with one from Pottery Barn Kids, but it was $849! So I began looking for good deals. I quickly came across ones for around $100, but they were unstable and usually all plastic. I wanted something inexpensive, but still good quality. Then Babies R Us started discounting the 2013 model cribs at the end of the year and I found what I was looking for!

The Delta Houston Crib and Changer in Cinnamon. We had looked at a similar model in darker finish at the store a few weeks earlier and liked it. We didn't get it because the price was too high though. This one seemed perfect---crib/changer combo, in a light color, stationary sides, and can convert into a toddle bed/bed frame later. And it was only $299!
He opened the beer seconds before
I asked him to assemble the crib.
My husband assembled it one night after work, with some help from his sister and brother-in-law. It wasn't that complicated, but the instructions were kind of vague and hard to follow at first." Insert HH into C. Then insert C into D"....yeah because that totally makes sense...

All ready for baby now!
Obviously I can't fully review it yet since Jack isn't born yet. But it appears to be very sturdy (Michael gave it some good shakes and it hardly budged). My only minor complaint so far it already has a scratch on it. It happened during assembly, Michael leaned it against the bed and it slid down slowly until it hit the floor. Nothing major, but kind of annoying to happen so quickly. I like the two storage drawers and three side storage shelves a lot. The larger top shelf fits a good amount of diapers and wipes.

I would also like to comment on the crib bumpers. I know no bumpers at all are recommended, but I babysat for a little boy who got his leg stuck and badly bruise when he was only a few months old. It was awful. I know odds are that most kids will never get their body parts stuck in the crib, but I don't want to risk it. The ones on his crib are mesh and very light weight. And I know you can breathe through them because while I was fixing them one day  my cat wrapped herself up in it tight and totally covered her head. I panicked thinking she was going to suffocate, but as I picked her up I could see her nose smashed against the mesh breathing comfortably. I will remove the bumpers when he gets bigger and will be able to take them off himself though.

Links on how to select a crib:
How to Buy a Crib, Baby Center
How to Pick a Crib For Baby, My Mommy Manual
Baby Crib Buying Guide,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Giants Baseball Baby Shower

This past Saturday, my sister-in-law and best friend threw me a baby shower. They did an amazing job! We split the cost between the three of us, which I really recommend doing so you can get all the stuff you want and no one person is bitter about the financial burden. Plus it is so much easier to plan when you have two other people to bounce ideas of off and ask for help when you need it. We were all also insanely busy, so we did most of the planning via Pintrest and Facebook chat. One of us would pin something, then message the others about how to do it. You can check out the board we made here.

So let's start from the beginning...

Order your own from Etsy!
We kept with the Giants Baseball theme from the nursery.These are the super cute custom invitations my sister-in-law picked out.

She also included this insert, a request to bring a book instead of a card. Michael and I both value learning and education, and plan of reading him to from the start. Plus the notes written in them are something he can cherish forever.

My sister-in-law's friend reserved the clubhouse at her place. It was a good sized room with a small kitchen. Lovely park and lawn surrounding it too. Not to mention the weather was GORGEOUS that day---75 and sunny.

The decorations were simple, but very cute. Orange and cream table clothes on sale from Party City. Giants memorabilia and signs that we borrowed from my brother-in-law's collection. Streamers left over from another party and banners I found on sale from Party City as well.

Kamille made center pieces made from simple vases filled with marbles (both from Dollar Tree) and flowers. Peanuts sprinkled around the vase. Giant's flag and an orange ribbon to tie it all together. Oh, and the baseball coin banks (Dollar Tree) with Big League Chew gum pops and mini Baby Ruths. Very creative on her part.

For the guest books, Amanda painted black and orange balloons on canvas and sealed it with clear acrylic spray.  The guests sign on the balloons. We plan on hanging it in the nursery. It came out so cute! Also in this picture is the adorable Giants diaper cake that Kamille's mother-in-law (that's confusing...) made for me. Thank you Lori, I love the little plushy guy on the top!

For food, we had hot dogs, veggie dogs, nachos with salsa and guacamole, hummus/spinach dip with pita bread, salad, potato salad, and a veggie platter. And no, not everything was vegan, but that okay. As much as I wish the whole world was vegan, it's just unrealistic. So we made food that people would enjoy and would match the theme. And I was totally happy with my veggie dogs, veggies platter, hummus, and salsa.

There was also a mimosa bar---obviously not for the pregnant lady. We thought it was a way for people to relax without going overboard on booze. There was also tropical punch for those who didn't want to or couldn't drink. And yes, that is an picture of my husband when he was 3 in a bow tie. See the cute little napkin bow ties Amanda made to match the picture?

Amanda made these adorable cupcakes in the shape of a baseball. They were a big hit (ha, baseball pun).

And my other sister-in-law brought me a vegan cake! The frosting was so creamy and the cake was just rich enough without going too crazy. I loved it, thank you Kristina!

My prediction for when Jack comes.

We played some shower games too, three of which were printables I got for free off Pinterest. First was Baby Product Price is Right (Michael and I both grew up watching the show with our grandparents so it seemed fitting). People guessed the price of the products (like a pack of diapers) and whoever was closest to the actual total on my master sheet won. Then "Whose Traits Does Mommy Want," where everyone guesses if want things like my eyes or Michael's eyes for Jack. Then was Baby Wishes and Predictions, where people wrote their wishes for Jack and made predictions for when he will come. The winner was the person who guessed the closest to my predictions.

Then was the relay race. Each table needed four participants. The first person eats a jar of nasty baby food, the second chugs a bottle of juice, the third swaddles a stuffed animal, and the last recites a nursery rhyme. Everyone was hesitant at the eating/chugging part at first, but the game ended up being hilarious once we got volunteers. The table with the aunties/grandmas totally dominated the game!

Me in the orange stripped dress. 35 weeks, I swear my
bump looks smaller in pictures than it feels to me. 
Then I opened gifts. We got a lot of Giants stuff (of course), some duck themed stuff from my fellow Oregon Ducks, and a lot of other super cute baby clothes and toys. I was truly floored by everyone's generosity. I didn't grow up with my extended family round and I moved a bit as a kid so I don't have many life-long friends. So I appreciate how warm and welcoming Michael's friends and family have been to me. And of course, I appreciate the generosity from my own friends and family. Jack is one very loved baby already!

All the gifts in the nursery the next day. Several people chipped
 in for the glider, I wanted to cry when I saw it. So sweet. 
I didn't plan on learning a lesson from my shower, but I did. It's not money or things that make life wonderful, it's love. I wanted my guests to share in Michael's and my love/joy of having a baby---as much as we could afford to do so. And in returned they showed us love that we didn't even imagine. I plan on teaching this lesson to Jack.

A big thank-you to Amanda and Kamille, you are are amazing Aunties already. And thank-you Griselda for reserving your clubhouse and helping set-up and take down. Thank you to everyone who came, I hope you had as much fun as I did.

I hope this shows you can have the shower of your dreams, without breaking the bank. And helps you understand what true love is too!

Also check out my post of Michael's Man Shower.

How to throw a "Man Shower"

This past Saturday was my baby shower. Check out the details here. I asked Michael if he wanted to attend my shower or do a co-shower of some sorts. He didn't seem that big on either idea,  you know the whole "baby showers are for girls" things. But I wanted to do something special for him. He's has taken such good care of me my  pregnancy so far that he deserved some fun. So I asked if he just wanted low-key party with his boys at our house. He loved that idea---mainly because it meant he could drink beer and eat all the BBQ meats I never make him.

So nothing about this post is particularly vegan. But if you have a vegan man in your life, no reason why you can't take the general idea and substitute in vegan foods. Like my seitan ribs, some tofurky brats, my German potato salad, and some fresh grilled,  that sounds good---can it be summer now? 

His party was at the same time as my shower.We kept the invitations simple---if a women invited to my shower had a guy Michael wanted to invite, we stuck this insert in her formal invitation. Otherwise, he just emailed them a date and time to show up. Men don't usually need or care about fancy invites, so we didn't waste money on them. 
Just realized our orange serape matches the theme...
I didn't put up too many decorations because, once again, men don't usually notice stuff like that. Just a few  black and orange table clothes, a banner, and a few Giants signs we had already. I didn't spend too much time on decorating (unlike for my baby shower). Just make it look nice and walk away. No fuss. 

Appetizers when you first walked in the door.
Simple decorations to set the theme. 
I set-up the "appetizers" table before I left for my shower. Veggie platter, nachos, chips, potato salad, chocolate-covered pretzel rods, and baseball cupcakes (rods and cupcakes made by my very talented best friend). 
This was SO cute, even the boys didn't
want to take a cupcake and ruin it.
I left the meat for Michael to cook. We borrowed our brother-in-law's smoker to do some ribs. He barbecued some turkey dogs (a lot of his friends are Indian and don't eat beef), hot links, and buffalo wings. Don't have pictures of all that because I wasn't there....and to be honest I don't like taking picture of meat seeing as I am vegan....

MLB plates were on sale at Party City, couldn't resist. 
Drinks consisted of tropical punch (one can of passion orange guava juice and a liter of sprite, watered down to taste with ice), and of course beer. 

Giants themed pretzel rods made my my BFF.
The boys just ate, drank, played dominoes, listened to music, and watched sports on TV. Nothing fancy but they all had a good time. After my baby shower was over, some of the women came over to join them. Yeah, that's right---my baby shower had an after party! Some of the boys ordered the Canelo vs. Angulo fight on pay-per-view, which kept the party going till around 11 PM. Even though I was tired, it was nice to see friends and family enjoying themselves so I didn't mind. 

So, if your man cringes at the idea of going to your baby shower, I highly suggest throwing him a man shower instead. Yes, you are the one doing all the hard working making the baby, but dads need some love and appreciation too.

Here is my advice on how to throw a successful man shower:
  • Keep it simple. Men don't usually like complicated or elaborate themes or events without any women around. 
  • Simple decorations set the mood, without your man's friends thinking his wife is totally controlling him. 
  • Serve good, basic foods with lots of flavor. This is not the time try something from your molecular gastronomy cookbook. Serve some of your husband's favorites along with some party staples like chips and dip.
  • Don't make the drinks too complicated either. Some good beers or good spirits should please everyone. 
  • Don't forget the non-alcoholic drinks like punch, soda, or water as well. Not everyone drinks and you don't want your guests getting too drunk. 
  • Give them optional games and activities. Men don't usually want to play shower games like "Whose Features Does Mommy Want For Baby", but once the food is gone they need something to keep from getting bored. Check to see if there is a game or event on TV they can watch. Set out cards, dominoes, or poker chips they can bust out when they feel competitive after a few drinks.But don't set a schedule or force them into things. 
  • Let boys be boys. If you come home and see your husband did nothing the way you would have wanted, let it go. It's his party. As long as he and his friends are having good time, that's all that matters. 
    • Except when he forgets to make sure your cats are locked in the bedroom beforehand so they don't get scared and run off during the party. You can give him the evil eye as your search for them high and low, in the dark, 9 months pregnant, and in a pretty dress! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Nursery: Wall Letters

Once Michael and I finally settled on the name Jack for a boy, I took to Pinterest again to get inspiration one cute ways to do a decorative letters or a name sign for his room. One of the first things that came up when I simply typed in "Nursery wall letters" was this:

Here is the Etsy Shop incase
you want to order the original. 

It was perfect, like someone pinned this just for me to find! It's his name and a sports theme, just like we wanted. I just needed to change the color scheme and leave out the basket ball (we are both short, no delusions our son will be Center for the Warriors). 

We had some trouble finding decent letters, which surprised me because this is such a popular trend. There we either cheap looking, already painted, a weird font, or really expensive. I finally found a these basic capital block letter on Amazon

I used Crayola Washable Kids' Paint. The main reason I went with this is because it's inexpensive. Also, I tend to make messes...I didn't think my husband would appreciate me getting permanent paint on the kitchen table. 

To keep with both the nursery theme and the design of the pin, I decided to paint the J black, the A a football, the C a baseball, and the K orange.

I did the base colors first, then added the stitches for the baseball and football. The paint adhered to the wood well,  but every color needed a few coats to make it even. It probably took longer to get even than permanent paint would have, but it was not that big of a deal.

After the black dried, I noticed that it looked more brown. I ran out of black to do another coat, so I had to mix together other colors to make more black. Felt like I was in preschool again! It was fun and it came out nice in the end.

Once the letters dried, I took them to the nursery to see how they would look against the orange wall. Then I realized that the orange K didn't stand out enough. I didn't want paint it another color and lose the theme. So I painted the boarder in the reddish brown paint to give it some pop.

Michael attached the letters to the wall with 3M Double Coated Foam Tape. We considered gluing or nailing them to wall, but we didn't want to damage the walls.

You might be wondering why we didn't put the letters above the crib. We thought it would look too busy with the baseball stitches. And worried they might fall off in an earthquake (the joys of living next several major faults).