Autumn decorating on the cheap

Oh, poor neglected blog, I’m sorry I’ve been absent. Just the usual excuses, as usual. One of my goals this year has been to neglect my blog less, because if I want people to read it, I need to post more often! So I keep telling myself to post more often and then I don’t. My lack of posts recently has been due to the fact that I don’t have much to write about (unless you all find government permitting paperwork absolutely fascinating). I also always try to include photos with my posts because I think posts with photos are more interesting, but perhaps I should loosen my standard a little and include more “just writing” posts here and there. Many of my favorite blogs have frequent “just writing posts.” Hmmm. Decisions, decisions. But enough musing-while-blogging and onto actual blogging.

Anywho, I thought I’d put up a quick post about two easy autumn decorating tips on the cheap. And I mean cheap. FREE actually. I have a hollow glass lamp (from Target … I covet the Pottery Barn ones, but the Target one was much more in my budget when I bought it a few months ago), which is awesome because I can fill it with seasonal decorations. For autumn, I filled the base with red and yellow leaves I picked up from trees in town.

That’s free decorating tips number one. I’m sure you also have lots of trees dropping leaves where you live (well, unless you live in the southern hemisphere or somewhere that palm trees are predominate). Take a stroll down the block and pick up some pretty leaves. You can do as I have done and fill a hollow glass lamp, or put the leaves in a glass hurricane or mason jar. Put the leaves behind glass in a frame. Get creative, but do it on the cheap!

Decorating tip number two is to find some bark from a tree and wrap it around a candle. As you can see, there is birch bark around the candle on my nightstand. I found the birch bark in the forest nearby on a hike. I’ve seen in magazines lately that faux birch candles are pretty popular. But if like me you don’t have $20 to spend on a faux birch candle, you can fake it. If you have woods near where you live, you can easily pick up some fallen bark and wrap it around a candle to the same effect!

Edit: As a friend pointed out, I’m faking a fake candle with something real. LOL?

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Decorating the nursery: A lesson in appreciating what I have

Note to self: Stop looking at pictures of nurseries online. It only upsets you. You can’t paint the walls, you don’t have gorgeous (and ridiculously expensive) furniture and the tiny room also doubles as a guest bedroom (with an already full-to-bursting closet). Stop coveting the giant, beautiful nurseries of folks who obviously have loads of dough. Focus on making this little space beautiful in your own way. And in the end, remember that your baby isn’t even going to notice any of it.

The above has become a bit of a mantra for me. I’m as much of a sucker for the beautiful magazine spreads of nurseries in Pottery Barn as the next pregnant woman (and we’re a little bit nuts, if you hadn’t noticed from your interactions with pregnant women). So even though this is completely a first-world problem (I mean, c’mon, my child will have his own room, which is heated in the winter, and all the modern amenities of life in the developed world), it’s still a buzz-kill to look at those lovely photos and then look at what I’ve got to work with. So mornings like this one, I need to hop off the self-pity train and focus on what really matters (which includes not going into debt!).

I’ve got an 8×10 bedroom. The walls are white (at least that means blank slate and they’re not some hideous maroon or something). There is a closet (but it’s full of storage). Nearly half the room is taken up by our guest bed. I’ve got a small three-drawer white dresser that was my father’s when he was a child. It’s sturdy, even if it could use a coat of paint (and it’s officially winter in Montana, so it’s unlikely to be getting that coat of paint until, oh, June, unless someone would like to let me borrow their garage and a belt sander). The window lets in loads of light.

I’ve got small pictures I’ve collected over the years that I’ve framed, such as a block print of a kingfisher from England, a picture of Highland cows from Scotland and a picture of a steam engine, also from Scotland. I have a framed painting by my grandmother of a barn in a mountain scene. I have a framed print of a yellow lab (little boys are made of puppy dog tails after all…). I have a small print of leafy seadragons (they’re pretty much the coolest animal ever — look ’em up) from the Monterey Bay Aquarium that gives my husband and I no end of delight. We have a couple extra frames from our wedding that we look forward to filling with baby pictures.

I’m making the mobile for above the crib myself. I found a darling pattern online and I’m nearly finished (though I’ve been nearly finished for a month now… time to truly finish it!). I sewed a bunch of little birds that have one fabric for their backs and heads, and another fabric for their stomachs. They will perch on some sticks we picked up near the headwaters of the Missouri. We’ll hang the entire contraption from the ceiling with fishing wire (rated to far stronger than it needs to be because I’m paranoid). I may also wrap ribbon around the fishing wire to spruce it up a bit. Undecided on that bit. It’s things like this when I need to ask myself: What would I look back on and say I enjoyed more? Hours spent scouring websites for the perfect above-crib mobile, or the hours I spent making one myself? As a friend of mine eloquently put it: Babies know love, not brand names and price tags.

We’ve hit a snag on the crib, however. We bought the crib and crib mattress at a garage sale this summer for $40. Unfortunately, the crib did not come with hardware and I stupidly did not get the woman’s phone number to contact her about whether or not she ever uncovered the parts (she was moving). So, we’re a bit bamboozled at how the crib goes together on closer inspection (we figured it would just take furniture screws… how naive). I’ve e-mailed the manufacturer to see if we can order parts, but the crib is probably 10 years old and who knows if the company still makes those parts. Frustrating, and possibly $40 down the drain (though I suppose we could sell what we have on Craigslist to someone who can figure out the assembly). If we can’t get hardware or create our own system with the help of a local hardware store (and it needs to be a good system… I’m not putting my baby in a jerry-rigged crib), it appears I can find another crib for pretty cheap at Target. I breezed through the local maternity store today (you know me and supporting all things local), and well, Target undercuts that store by $400 on cribs. And at this time in my life, that’s going to win out.

Otherwise, things are coming together. I have a great collection of picture books started (mostly from my childhood, and some I’ve recently picked up), and a couple of stuffed animals, too. I also have my baby blanket (well, the third incarnation or so), and a beautiful locally made bamboo blanket (it never loses its fuzzy texture even after lots of washing). I’m sure gifts from my baby shower will round things out. Fingers crossed the cloth diaper package works out! My mother-in-law has sent us a number of outfits (we are set on 0-3 months!). We have a hiking backpack that we plan to get a lot of use out of in the coming summers.

Instead of focusing on how much more beautiful the nursery could be, I’m going to focus on what still needs to be done, all of which is easily completed. Here’s my list (am I missing anything?):

  • Find hardware for and assemble crib, or purchase and assemble new one
  • Finish mobile, hang
  • Hang pictures
  • Launder bedding, blankets, towels, diapers
  • Set up rocking chair (second-hand from my step-mother, but in perfectly serviceable condition)
  • Assemble changing table, get changing supplies ready
  • Find curtains to block out light during daytime naps, hang
  • Acclimate kitties to baby things (no cats in cribs!)

I’ll be sure to post pictures as we get things checked off the list! Oh, and here’s something else to be grateful for: Both my husband and I have an entire month off (last two weeks of December, first two weeks of January) to prep the nursery and enjoy being together, just us.

So, since this is the month of Thanksgiving, it’s time for me to be thankful for what I have, not covetous of what I do not (and frankly do not need). Having less stuff means less stuff to store and less stuff to move. This little boy will be provided for and loved.  And that’s what really matters.

Decking the halls

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I’m always bummed when the big day is over. I love Christmas because it means time with my family. We make big, delicious meals, laugh and joke around the table, listen to favorite holiday tunes and spend time in front of the Christmas tree admiring the lights and ornaments.

This year the Hubs and I are headed to Denver, so we’re not decorating much and we didn’t get a tree. But the apartment still feels festive.

It’s not much, but I like the shabby-chic look of it. I simply strung ribbon through the sparkling ornament balls and hung them from the ceiling against our spiffy brick wall. The candle by the lamp is Christmas-y too.

And since we lack a fireplace, I hung the beautiful stockings Hubs’ mom made us for a wedding present from the banister of the stairs that lead up to our loft.

Hope your Christmas is merry and full of cheer!