That’s One Fancy Alphabet

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The other day the three chicks and I were strolling through Target like we usually do once or twice a week when we came across the magnetic alphabet.  This pinned idea, spray painting magnetic letters gold, came to mind and so home they went with us.
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Sadly, there was only one so we won’t be spelling anything that requires two of any one letter but for now, learning the ABC’s is all we can hope for anyway.

So, where I’m going with this post is here:
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I would just tell you to run thither for the tutorial but the pinned link appears to be broken so let me give you a run down like I like to do.

First I pulled out my favorite gold spray paint, Rustoleum’s, and laid the letters out on a cardboard box. photo 2 (7)
I was anxious to get the girls using them so I only did one coat but I wish I’d have done two.  I’ll explain in a minute.

Before I do, let me tell you that there is a right way to spray paint itty bitty letters.  It’s the way I spray paint most everything actually – from all sides.  I started by standing on one side of the box and spraying all of the letters from that side first.  Then I moved to the next side and sprayed them all from that side.  Next side, same thing.  Last side, same thing.  photo 3 (1)
Then I gave each letter a spray from directly overhead.  Spraying from all angles makes sure every millimeter of each letter is covered.

So next, for added protection from toddler fingers, I gave each letter a thin coat of this Rustoleum Lacquer that we had on hand (even though the label on the gold spray paint says that a clear top coat is not recommended):        photo 4 (1)
…and regretted it because it took some of the sheen of the gold away.  Boo.  I should’ve just followed recommendations and went with two coats of gold, period.

Either way, they’re a hit.  The girls have spent inordinate amounts of time at the front door, the only expanse of space the magnets bond to at the moment.  (We’re thinking about adding a magnetic ‘wall’ somewhere in our house but I’ll keep that cat in the bag until it’s actually done.)  :)
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We do have a crawler on the loose though so when the girls aren’t at the door with the alphabet, I try to stick ‘em to the fridge lest one gets knocked down without me knowing it and into the mouth of the wee one.
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(Dry erase to-do list tutorial here.)

So, spray-painted learning tools.  Whoda thunk?

Feathered

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I’m not one to wear dangling earrings.  Not because I don’t like them but because 1) my kids are grabbers, 2) I feel like they make me look overdone and 3) sometimes I think they make my small head look even smaller.  I’m weird.  I know.  :) 

With that being said, there are a few exceptions to the rule and these are one of them.  Way back when Anthony and I scored big time at Dirt Cheap, amongst the treasure in the cart was a pack of four inch long, dangling, feather earrings.  Three pairs – blush pink, white, and black.  Not me.  At all.  So, I stowed them away for a raining day project and that day was Sunday, sans the rain. 

Here’s what I started with:
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They’re tickle-my-collar-bone long which also translates to long-enough-for-Sebastian-to-get-a-good-grip long.  That’s a painful thought, eh?  So, my plan was to simplify and shorten.

(Note:  I did all of this using my fingernails but you could grab a couple of needle-nose pliers to make it a little easier or better yet, some jewelry tools.)

First, I separated the ring that held the chains to the fishhook by opening the tiny loop on the bottom of the fishhook just enough to slide the ring off.
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Then I opened the ring and slid off all of the chains:
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Next I picked out two feathers that were the closest thing to twins and separated them from their chains.
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And last I attached the tiny ring at the top of the feather to the larger ring and then to the fishhook.
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Simple and short.  Short and simple. 

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I did the same to the black and white feathered ‘rings so now I’ve got one for every outfit.  You can never have enough feathers in your nest, right?

Want to make some of your very own?  Check out these feather danglies for $1.79 on eBay, or these, or these.  Or there’s also the craft store route where all the supplies to make these from scratch live.  Or your unused/broken earring stash plus a down pillow.  Endless options.  ;)     

Hello Gorgeous

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I don’t even know where to start with this post…what to say.  Maybe that’s because all three of our kids have the kind of colds that turn your nose into a faucet.  Imagine following your sick toddler/baby around so you can wipe his/her nose before it gets wiped on anything but a tissue and then multiply that by three.  Yes.  Glory days over here.  Anyway, really that’s just an excuse for my lack of words because in reality, your jaw will drop like mine when you see how amazing this kitchen is and speech will evade you.  Backtrack, shall we?  I clued you in on Monday that I’d be sharing my friend Jesse’s gorgeous kitchen here on the blog.  She diy-ed herself from start to finish and only shelled out $425 at that.  I KNOW!  Crazy, right?  I’ll share the show-stopping before’s and after’s today along with a few details and then in the next few weeks, I’ll share details on individual projects in her kitchen while she walks me through.  Stay tuned for that.  But, until then, feast your eyes my friends…

This is her kitchen a few months ago:
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Originally, the cabinets were white but gross, gross, gross complete with peeling paint, grease, cigarette fumes, and lots of other things you probably don’t want to know about.  Jesse washed, sanded, primed, and repainted them – the bottoms were colored-matched to Curry Green by Eddie Bauer Home (the matching yielded a paint a tad lighter than the swatch) and on the uppers is Crème Fraiche by Valspar.

Presently:
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Along with the cabinets, she also mixed a few colors of leftover paint she had on hand to get that amazing color on the walls…and then, like a good friend, she gave me a swatch because she’s awesome like that.  It’s always hard to view the true hue of a paint color via computer/phone/device but it’s light gray/greige-ish (I mean, how do you explain a color in words?)

Her diy-ed runner:
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Her runner is actually two Nate Berkus for Target rugs sewn together.  You’d never know it wasn’t one rug.

Before (but after cabinet painting):
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After:
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The sink area before:
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After:
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And those gorgeous marble countertops?  DIYed!!!!  IMG_5037
They look even more amazing in person, trust me.
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She also put in the subway tile backsplash herself.  She became my new hero the day she told me she was going to do that on her own.
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And the little things count too.  Like that concrete planter in the above picture – she made it.

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A view from the other direction:IMG_5033

Here’s the other side of her galley kitchen a few months ago:IMG_5815

And here’s the same side now:
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Her fridge/freezer used to be off-white but she took some chalkboard paint to it.  It looks superb, no?  Also, out of view, is the previously white range hood that she spray painted black to match the rest of the appliances.

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Let’s move further on down the galley, shall we?  Take a gander at this way-before and after:
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Jesse replaced the armoire with a small dresser found at a consignment store that she painted the same color as the lower cabinets and made that gorgeous round mirror that hangs above it.  Details on that coming soon. 

An in-process shot:
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After:
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And to the dining area we gaze:
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I couldn’t pick a favorite shot so, another:IMG_5058

Here’s what it used to look like:
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Inhabited by the one and onlies, Levi, Abel, and Vera.

And now:
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The roman shades hail from Overstock.com.

Jesse gave the base of her round table a coat of white and sanded the top down to it’s natural wood grain.  (Note:  after sanding down the top, she added a wax finish to it that apparently looked awful.  But, while I was at her house taking pictures, she rubbed coconut oil over it and said it’s looked great ever since!)  She found the chairs ‘round it on Craigslist.  Aren’t they awesome?
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The large frame on the wall was thrifted (for $1!) and she painted the nun symbol inside it with the help of her boys.IMG_5060

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And last but not least, turn your eyes skyward to the light.  It too is painted – Faded Seafoam by Valspar.IMG_5066

And that’s it!  I don’t know about yours, but my kitchen’s lower cabinets are screaming for color now and my stainless fridge is longing to get friendly with some chalk.  Next house…

Thank you to Jesse for letting me plaster her kitchen onto this here blog post!  No kitchen this beautiful should be hidden from the virtual world, right?

before & after - jjs kitchen

Stay tuned for project details from Jesse and Jeremy’s kitchen in the coming weeks!  Oh, and ps, say a prayer (or 3955) for us because we’re going to potty train next week again.  Last time things went a little south, only just not where they were supposed to…  

.           .           .

Bonus pic of what our kids were ransacking while we moms styled and shot:
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Levi Spiderman entertaining the twins in the front row, Abel and Vera in the nose bleeds, and Sebastian in his own little world.  :)

Food A La Bebe

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Sebastian turned seven months of age last week and so we have the celebratory tie photo:
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And instead of telling you all about him and how he lives life these days – scooting, sleeping (all night!), smiling, spitting, chewing…), I thought I’d write up a little post I meant to get to when the twins were his age but didn’t.  Eating.  Specifically though, what he eats.  I am not the first parent to ever have fed their seven month old nor the last so I’m not going to pretend I’m the go-to source on what you should feed your baby when and how much and all that jazz.  But, I will tell you about how we make our own baby food and how awesome it is.  (Note:  I’ve included a few links in the following paragraphs that are affiliate links.  None of the products linked to were gifted to us by their respective companies.  They’re just things we have and love.)  So first…

Why?
”Dude, they like sell pre-made jars at the store that scream zero hassle and 100% convenience, so why make your own food?”  Let me tell ya.  We’re on this tiny little thing called a budget and it’s a pretty tight one.  You might’ve figured that one out if you’ve read the blog for longer than a week.  Anthony and I are still paying off student loans plus we’ve created a lifestyle that allows me to stay at home with our kids (even though some days I long to get up, dressed, and ready to hit the town er…work).  We also cloth diaper which saves a TON of moolah (read all about that here).  Point is, making our own baby food helps us keep our bills down and me at home.
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[Throwback from when the girls were circa 8-9 months young and peas, in case you were wondering.]

Also, when you make your own baby food, you know exactly what’s going into (and out of, ha!) their bodies.  No worries about preservatives and all that mumbo jumbo.


What?
Everything.  Everything you can find in a jar at the store, you can make at home for a lot less.  A week ago, Anthony bought $8.20 worth of organic produce from a local market (sweet potatoes, zucchini, apples, and bananas).  Pureed, all of that produce will feed Sebastian for 42 days if he eats his normal half a cup per day (4 oz.).  Buying that much Gerber baby food (plastic canisters of non-organic puree) would cost us $24.72.  Going the organic and more comparable route, buying 42 jars of Earth’s Best organic baby food would cost us $41.27.  So, for a little bit of work, we’re getting fresh, organic baby food and saving a good chunk of change.  Now, double that and you’ll realize why we took this route with the twins.  :)


How?

The Baby Brezza.
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Amazing.  I was gifted this by a good friend at the twins’ baby shower and it’s been one of the most (if not the most) valuable gift I’ve received.  It might seem a little much to shell out several $10 bills for this baby but even if we hadn’t received it as gift, we would have forked over that $$ knowing how easy this makes the process.  It makes making your own food a cinch because it steams and purees your food all-in-one.  All you have to do is cut up whatever it is you’re cooking, toss it in, press a few buttons and off it goes and off you can go until it beeps ‘done’.  Just want to steam?  It does it.  What about skipping the steam and pureeing?  Yep.  Welcome to twenty-fourteen everyone!
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The Cooking for Baby cookbook.
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The same person who gave us the Baby Brezza gave us this cookbook.  I have lots of knowledge inside the nog pertaining to painting and creating, very little about cooking.  However, this cookbook holds my hand through recipes and among the simple recipes it has those that make me feel like a gourmet chef.  Amaranth & plum swirl?  Got it.  Roasted red pepper & goat cheese puree?  Yep.  (However, its recipes need to be tailored to using the Baby Brezza…a.k.a. it assumes you’re going the steamer and pan route when you’re actually cutting those out if you use the Brezza.)  On top of divulging delish recipes even you will want to make for yourself (“Honey, we’re having silken tofu & peach puree for dinner.”), it’s divided into sections based on baby’s age and also has tips like “how often & how much” that most first-time parents (and even third-time parents like me who forget) know nothing about.

Tools.
Besides our beloved Brezza, we’ve found it helpful to have a peeler on hand (we’ve had this one going on seven years now) and an apple corer (like this one).  You can find both of these at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Target too.  Little things like this just cut down on prep time because, let’s face it, if you’re in the business of making baby food, chances are you have a baby and babies need attention, lots and lots of attention which leaves you with little and littler time.  #amiright  #oramiright
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I know there are lots more little tools like these that cater to convenience so if you have any you use, please share!
 

Where?

Alternately titled ‘Storage’.
Usually when I make a batch of food for Seb, I stick one jar in the fridge and the rest all go into the freezer where they sit until the day before they’re needed.  Here’s a good FYI on food storage limits – Freezing Homemade Baby Food via Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food.

When the twins were at the puree stage, we bought several jars of pre-made baby food while on a trip away from home and saved those jars to store our homemade stuff in.  They’re the perfect size (obviously, considering what they held), easy to store, and can go straight from freezer to microwave.
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We also use this Beaba freezer tray.  It has compartments that hold perfectly-sized proportions for the beginner-eater and all you have to do to empty a frozen compartment is turn it upside down and press the bottom of that compartment in until the food slides out.  
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Also, if you’re on-the-go, grab a few of these reusable baby food pouches, fill them with your homemade stuff, and go.  No need to spend the $1 or more those things cost at the store.  (We didn’t use these with the girls but plan on grabbing a few for the boy.)


A few other helpful links:
What to feed baby and when
The “Dirty Dozen” – the twelve most pesticide-contaminated foods and the twelve least
Making homemade baby food according to Hello Little Scout
Tasty recipes from Amber at 3 Ladies & Their Gent

I hope this is helpful to anyone interested in venturing into baby food making.  I’m open to questions and advice from veterans so if you have either of those, leave a note in the com box! 

Happy pureeing!

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