Pin-spiration. Love love lovity.

Has anyone else jumped on the Pinterest train lately? I know I’ve raved about its awesomeness before (not to mention its Facebook-like power to suck up hours and hours of time before you even realize what’s happening), but up until now my obsession with the site has been all talk and no action. I do a whole bunch of browsing, a bunch of swooning and a bunch of pinning, yet our relationship has pretty much remained that of voyeur to eye candy. Pinterest = gobs of visual, clickable loveliness. Me = happy camper to just sit back and do the clicking.

After so much pinning and not enough doing, I figured it was time to put some of that inspiration to work. I pinned this bit of typographic beauty to my decorating board a while back and had been toying with the idea of taking a spin with it for the Bean’s room (the original inspiration piece is super cute and available to buy on Etsy). I had also been thinking making a companion design with the phrase “Happy Girl” incorporated. A jolly sentiment, don’t you think?

There are definitely some bold colors going on in our nursery, so to avoid going too bonkers, I eye-dropped all the colors for the makeshift artwork from our already-established palette. Here’s the dandy bold fabric with all the major colors in play:

And here’s how I used them:

Pretty fun, huh? I still need to pick up a few frames for them (I’m thinking basic, sleek white to match the others I’m already using in the room), and I’m still not quite sure if I prefer the lavender or fuchsia “La La Love You,” but otherwise they’re ready to roll. I love how sometimes the simplest ideas can make the perfect-sized impact. Now I just have to figure out where to hang them.

What inspiration have you been pinning lately? Have you taken on any DIY or design projects based on great ideas you’ve found online? In magazines? At a friend’s house? I’d love to hear about it!


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Easy DIY Pillowcases

About six years ago, I undertook my first big sewing endeavor. It was a quilt for Jared. Maybe it was my lack of skills or my 19-year-old impatience, but I hated every minute of it. Seriously, I think I complained the whole way through. A grand seamstress I was not.

But times change, and fortunately patience seems to grow a little stronger with age. When I bought those gobs of fabric for the bean’s room a while back, I was a little hesitant about coming face to face with my old rival again. But something about making things to decorate a baby girl’s room seemed infinitely more enjoyable than stitching together a blanket for my boyfriend (sorry, Jared), so I decided to go for it, despite my trepidation.

For Christmas this year, my parents got me a snazzy new sewing machine (after much insistence from me that I would, in fact, put it to use), and after more than half a year of box-sitting, it’s finally getting a chance to show me its stuff. Because I’m an extreme beginner on all this sewing business, I really did have to start from the ground up. Yes, I sat with the instruction book (my dad would be so proud!) and learned how to thread the machine, thread the bobbin, turn it on and make it go — all those important details that I’m sure I learned in seventh-grade home ec but somehow lost along the way. So after a good solid hour of figuring out how the thing worked (Google was a mighty fine help as well) and a few practice runs on some scrap pieces of fabric, I was ready to roll. Full speed ahead!

First on my baby room project agenda: two zippered throw pillowcases. Aside from getting the zipper installed, which worked a bit better on the second try than the first, the process was actually fairly simple. Again, I chalk it up to the increased patience of a 25-year-old versus 19-year-old. Just think; by the time I’m 40, I’ll be a regular sewing machine.


What you’ll need:
• Fabric (1/2 yard or more per pillow, depending on its size)
• Sewing machine
• Matching thread
• Scissors (for fabric-cutting and thread-cutting)
• Zippers (one for each pillow, about 4 inches shorter than the length of your pillow inserts)
• Pillow inserts
• Pins (dandiest piece of sewing equipment on the planet)
• Seam ripper (normal scissors can work in a pinch)

Start by cutting out your two panels of fabric for the pillow (ironing the fabric first is a good idea). You’ll want to add an extra ½ inch all around the panels for the seams, so add 1 inch to the height and 1 inch to the width before cutting. My pillow inserts were 18-inch squares, so I cut my fabric into 19-inch squares.

To make sure you get your edges straight when cutting, I think it helps to take your piece of fabric, fold it in half, then measure half your width all the way down and secure it with pins (half the width because the fabric is folded over). Make your cut using the pins as guides. Then once that’s done, do the same thing in the other direction. Fold your fabric in half, then measure half the height and mark it with pins. Voila! Perfectly straight edges!

Zipper time. Once you have both panels cut, turn the right sides of the fabric facing each other and line them up along all four corners (the rough side of the fabrics should be facing out). Take a peek inside and make sure the fabric is turned and lined up how you’ll want it to be once the fabric is flipped back the right way. This can be a little trickier with a patterned fabric.

Center your zipper a few inches from what will be the bottom edge of your pillow, and stick a pin just inside the metal stops on both sides of the zipper (pinning the fabric panels, not the zipper). Now you can take the zipper off for a sec.

Sew a small seam on the edges outside each pin, about ½ inch from the bottom of the fabric. Once those two small seams are in, use a basting stitch to make a seam connecting the two (you want to use a basting stitch because you’ll be ripping it out once the zipper is installed, so don’t reinforce this part of the seam with a reverse stitch).

Iron the basted seam open, then (with the wrong side of the fabric facing up) line up the zipper along the seam (teeth of the zipper should run right along the seam). Pin in place.

Sew both long sides of the zipper to secure it in place. Once it’s sewn down, you can open the zipper from the other side by using a seam ripper to carefully cut the basted seam you sewed earlier (be careful not to cut the small seams on either side of the zipper that you sewed first). The zipper is now installed!

The rest of the process is pretty easy peasy. Pin the final three sides of the panels in place, making sure that all four corners are lined up. Now sew the panels together on the three remaining sides. (Note: To go around corners, simply lift the sewing machine pedal and rotate the fabric 90 degrees. Then keep on sewing until you get to the next corner, and repeat the process). Make sure you’re using reverse reinforcement stitches to hold the seams in place at the beginning and end.

Hit the pillow case with a quick iron to get out any last wrinkles, and snip off the extra fabric at the corners, which will allow you to have nice, sharp edges once the pillow is turned right side out.

Flip the case right side out, slip the pillow insert inside, close the zipper, and you’re done!


Pretty nifty, right? I think Ella is still trying to figure out how she feels about this sewing business. There she is trying desperately to reach the bean’s new décor. Or maybe she’s going for Pooh Bear. She is a toy hog, that one.

What DIY projects have you been up to these days? Any expert sewing advice you’d like to share? I’m all ears!


Steeped in nostalgia: The baby shelf conundrum

I can vividly remember a trip my mom and I took to a local antique shop some time during my sophomore or junior year of college. As we browsed through the narrow aisles and dusty shelves, stacked bottom to top with dishes, books and decades-old knick-knacks that always seem to find their way to this type of residence, I came across a display case filled with objects whose identical cousins used to stare back at me from my own toy box. My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets and even a handful of Happy Meal toys (the old transformer ones that changed from tiny hamburgers and fries into dinosaurs) were all sitting there, just waiting for some nice person who decided they were worth something to come along and take them home. Seeing such familiar objects mixed among cups and saucers from my grandparents’ days hit me in two very distinct ways: First, it made me feel old (the same kind of old I felt when I first saw reruns of Home Improvement and Full House on Nick at Nite); and second, it made me feel incredibly nostalgic for the things of my youth. Every stuffed animal, Barbie doll, puzzle and plaything that I used to love came flooding back to my mind. If I hadn’t been a 20-year-old college girl at the time who was trying to convince herself that she was, in fact, a bona fide grownup, I might have dug through my parents’ basement and hauled a half dozen boxes of toys back to my apartment by the end of the weekend. Growing up is hard business.

But here’s where it gets fun again. With the beanette now very much on her way, I’ve started thinking back to special things I loved as a kid that might be just as fitting for our 2011 baby as they were a quarter-century ago. This Peter Rabbit tea set from my wee years definitely fits the bill. I lo-o-oved this thing when I was little. Plenty of water-in-lieu-of-tea parties were had, and despite all the clinking of cups, every piece of the set has magically remained unscathed. Seriously, not a chip in sight!

I’m definitely planning to incorporate this bit of bunny love into the Bean’s room, but I’m still not sure where/what to do with it. I saw Sarah Richardson frame some snazzy plates on an episode of her show a while back, so I’m thinking about that for the bigger dishes. But the set itself definitely needs a safe, sound and out-of-reach-of-a-rambunctious-baby’s-curious-hands spot until she’s old enough to know the difference between a tea cup and ball (and how they’re meant to be utilized). Perhaps floating shelves are in order? Or a baby-approved bookshelf that can hold her breakables up top and her safe-to-throw-and-chew-on things below?

Before I settle on something, I’ve been doing lots of browsing on Pinterest for baby shelf ideas (have I mentioned before how I love, love, love this site?!?!). Here are a few of my faves:

A bookshelf and a tree. Have you ever seen anything cuter? Unfortunately the hefty price tag makes this gem of a piece a no-can-do by a long shot, but I haven’t given up on finding something similar for a fraction of the cost. Photo found here.

These cube guys might be a handy choice. I do so love a shelf with space for basket storage, and it would be a long while before the Bean could go-go-Gadget her arms up to the top shelves. Photo found here.

Floating shelves like these from Young House Love might be a good fit. There isn’t much room for storage, but her breakables would have plenty of space. Photo found here

And this one I love because … Ha! Just kidding. I’m sure our little lady will have no need for this caliber of shelvery until she’s well past the throwing-her-mom’s-favorite-tea-set age (unless she takes after her dad, in which case the book-buying gene might send her there much sooner). Photo found here

So that’s where I am now: stuck between a shelf and a hard place. Thankfully I still have a few months left to ponder this design/function dilemma. In the meantime, I’ll be happily pinning away.

What are your favorite storage solutions for the pretty things you want the world to see but not to touch? Any baby room shelving ideas to share? And in the spirit of nostalgia, what childhood keepsakes have you/will you pass on to your kiddos? Do tell!



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