Friday, August 29, 2014

DIY: Painted Horizontal Striped Curtains

Before we found out our baby's gender, I knew that I wanted wide horizontal striped navy and white curtains in the nursery.  However, after much online searching, I couldn't find what I wanted for less than $400.  So, I decided to gamble on some $30 Ikea curtains and try making them myself.  I was thrilled with how they turned out; while they're a little stiff to the touch, they look great (and why are you touching my curtains anyway?!)

These curtains use fabric medium and acrylic craft paint; don't skip the fabric medium, because it makes the paint less stiff and also makes it washable and permanent.  If you can't find the perfect color of acrylic paint, feel free to combine colors to create a custom color; I used a combination of dark blue and black paint to create the navy color I wanted. 

It took a couple of hours to measure and tape off the stripes, but the painting went pretty quick.  You should be able to finish all of the painting in one afternoon, and then complete the project by ironing and hemming the next day!


1 pair Merete curtains from Ikea in white
36 ounces (4 8-ounce and 2 2-ounce, or 18 2-ounce bottles) acrylic craft paint
3 6-ounce bottles Martha Stewart tintable fabric medium
1 roll Frog tape (this kind works best; the blue painter's tape allows more paint to seep through)
1 yard stick
1 pencil
1 small foam paint roller
1 paint tray
1 plastic drop cloth
1 roll iron-on adhesive hem tape
Ironing board


  1. Spread the plastic drop cloth out on a flat surface, taping it to the floor using Frog tape so that it doesn't move. 
  2. Spread the Merete curtains on top of the drop cloth, making sure to smooth out any wrinkles.  (I didn't iron before I painted them, but you can if you want). Tape the edges and corners of the curtains to the drop cloth using Frog tape so that it doesn't move while painting.
  3. Measure the length that you want your curtains to be (from your curtain rod to the floor), since the Ikea curtains come un-hemmed.  Measure that length from the top of the curtains and use the yardstick and pencil to draw a line to mark the bottom of your curtains.  Allowing about 2 inches of extra fabric below your pencil line, cut off any excess material.
  4. Decide how wide you want your stripes to be.  Mine are 12 inch stripes, with a 3.5-inch white stripe at the top (to avoid having to paint around the grommets).  Measure 3.5 inches from the top of the curtains and use the yardstick and pencil to draw a line.  Then, measure 12 inches from that line and draw another line.  Continue down the length of the curtains.
  5. Use the pencil to draw several "X"s in the stripes that you plan to paint.  This will help you from getting confused while painting and accidentally painting a stripe that should be white.
  6. Place Frog tape along your pencil lines to outline your stripes.  Make sure that you place the Frog tape ABOVE the line marking the top of the painted stripe and BELOW the line marking the bottom of the painted stripe.  (If you put the Frog tape either in the same place for every line, your stripes won't be evenly spaced.
  7. Press down on all of the Frog tape to make sure it is securely adhered to the curtains.  If it's loose, paint will seep under the tape and mess up your straight lines!

  8. Mix the fabric medium and acrylic paint in a disposable container.  Follow the directions on the fabric medium; the Martha Stewart brand calls for 2 parts paint to 1 part fabric medium. 
  9. Pour the paint mixture into a plastic paint tray.  Using a smooth foam roller, paint the stripes you marked with an "X", making sure not to drip onto the white stripes.  Be generous with the paint -- it will take several coats, since the cotton curtains suck up a ton of paint.  If you don't use enough paint, the stripes won't be opaque when you hang them; they will have an uneven, watercolor effect.
  10. Let the paint dry for half an hour, then touch up any areas that appear lighter than others to make sure that the stripes are fully opaque.

  11. Allow the paint to dry for at least 12 hours before moving the curtains.  When dry, use an iron to heat set the curtains.  This sets the fabric medium and makes the paint permanent and washable.
  12. Fold the hem of the curtain on the pencil line marking the bottom of the curtain.  I did a double fold so that the hem would look more finished from the back (rather than having the uneven frayed edges where I cut off the excess material show).
  13. Cut a length of adhesive hem tape the same width as each curtain panel.  Place it in the fold between the curtain and the folded hem, and iron it.  Follow the directions on the brand of hem tape you buy to determine how long you need to iron the hem tape for it to secure.
  14. Hang your curtains and enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Navy, Green, and Gray Nursery Tour


 Before we found out the gender of our baby, I had already decided on the design of the nursery: I wanted it to be primarily navy, gray, and white: specifically, white furniture, a gray upholstered glider, and navy-and-white horizontal striped curtains.  If the baby was a boy, we'd add bright green accents; for a girl, hot pink.  All of the big-ticket items would be gender-neutral, so if we have a daughter in the future, we'll just switch out the green accent items for pink ones and be able to re-use everything else.

The nursery has several DIY projects, either because I couldn't find the specific vision I had in my head for sale, or I could but it was outrageously expensive (horizontal striped curtains, I'm looking at you).  I made the alphabet letter wall, the horizontal striped curtains, and most of the gallery wall myself. 

Crib: Pottery Barn Kendall crib in white
Crib sheet: Pottery Barn Kids tile geo sheet in navy
Crib skirt: Pottery Barn Kids Harper Crib Skirt
Quilt: Pottery Barn Kids Alligator Madras Quilt
Frames: all purchased at Michaels and spray-painted white

Gallery wall art, clockwise from top left: Etsy, DIY, DIY, DIY, Etsy, DIY

Gallery wall art, clockwise from top left: DIY using fabric from Hobby Lobby, DIY, DIY using paint chips

Alphabet wall: DIY using unfinished wood letters purchased on Etsy from GalleryWoodLetters
Changing pad cover: Pottery Barn Kids chamois changing table pad cover in gray
Diaper caddy: Pottery Barn Kids navy geo reversible changing table storage

Dresser: Ikea Hemnes 8-drawer dresser in white

Curtains: DIY using Ikea Merete curtains in white
Curtain rod: Target Soft Square rod in nickel
Glider and ottoman: Little Castle Serenity glider from Buy Buy Baby
Pillow: purchased at Ross
Faux chenille blanket: DIY
White side table: Kraven white round accent table
Diaper pail: Ubbi diaper pail
Lamp: Target acrylic stacked ball lamp base (medium)
Shade: Target trellis print lamp shade (medium)
Rug: Bright Eyed Suzy Rug in green

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From the Kitchen: Coconut and Dried Fruit Granola

My mother-in-law made us a batch of this coconut granola, and we loved it!  I've made it several times since then - it is perfect for a quick and filling breakfast when paired with some low-fat, plain Greek yogurt and fruit (I love it with strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries on top!)  The recipe is pretty forgiving -- if you don't have (or like) the nuts or dried fruits that the recipe calls for, feel free to substitute your favorite (such as whole almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, diced dried pineapple, dried cherries, etc.)

Coconut and Dried Fruit Granola

Yield: approximately 10 cups
Cook time: 35 minutes


2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup ground flax seed*
2 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut**
2 cups dried fruit (I used chopped dried apricots, raisins, and dried cranberries)

*found in the baking aisle near the flour or in the bulk section at stores like Sprouts
**my mother-in-law had trouble finding this at her store; I found it in the baking aisle at Kroger, near the chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 325.  In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, honey, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  It will form a brown paste.  Add the oats to the bowl and stir until the oats are coated in the paste. 

Spread the mixture onto 2 large, rimmed baking sheets or jelly roll pans lined with parchment paper or silpat mats.  Spread the oats evenly on the baking sheets with a spoon or rubber spatula.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and add 1/2 cup of slivered almonds to each pan.  Stir the mixture, spread out on the pan, and return to the oven, switching the pans between the racks.  Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and add 1/2 cup of walnut pieces and 1/4 cup of ground flaxseed to each pan.  Stir the mixture, spread out on the pan, and return to the oven, switching the pans between the racks.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and add 1 cup of coconut to each pan.  Stir the mixture, spread out on the pan, and return to the oven, switching the pans between the racks.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the coconut is light brown.

Remove the granola from the oven and allow to cool in the pans.  It will continue to crisp and dry out as it cools, so don't worry if it seems too soft when it comes out of the oven.  When completely cooled, mix the granola with the dried fruit.  Store in a tightly sealed container; it should keep for up to a month, if it lasts that long in your house (it doesn't in ours!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Favorite Things Under $10 - August

I'm linking up with Momfessionals and A Little Bit of Everything to share my favorite things under $10!

Here are a few products I'm loving right now....
Batiste Dry Shampoo, Dark and Deep Brown, 6.73 Fluid Ounce

1. Batiste Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair

I love this dry shampoo! I have tried a bunch of different drugstore brands (I'm too cheap to pay for the expensive salon brands - for that much money, I'll just shampoo my hair!), and this is by far the best!  Suave, Tresemme, and the others just don't compare.  This is the only dry shampoo that doesn't make my hair feel cakey and sticky; other brands have given me the look I wanted (non-greasy hair), but I have to put up with my hair feeling disgusting to the touch all day.  Not with Batiste!  Additionally, this dry shampoo is tinted for people with dark hair -- other brands always leave a powdery haze in my brown hair, but this one blends right in.  Give it a try!  You can order it online or find it at Ulta.

Essie Nail Polish .46 oz. Mademoiselle

2. Essie nail polish in Mademoiselle

This has become my go-to nail polish; with a newborn, I certainly don't have time for the nail salon, nor do I have time to painstakingly paint my nails a bright color, avoiding smudges and chips.  This color is great - it's super sheer, so it doesn't show smudges or chips at all; it is truly one of those "your nails but better" colors that makes it look like you just happen to have very shiny and healthy-looking natural nails.  It's a must for busy moms!

BOOTS Bts Ext Almond Body Butter 200ml

3.  Boots Almond Body Butter

My friend Michelle recently introduced me to this body butter; I've never been a big fan of body butters because they're either too greasy, or they're no different from normal lotion.  This one is great -- it has a slight almond scent (nothing too overpowering), and it moisturizes SO well.  My legs feel amazing after slathering on this body butter!  You can order it online or find it at Target in the Beauty section.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Baby 101: Touring and Selecting a Daycare

If you plan to go back to work after having a baby, it's important to select a daycare as early as possible!  We toured 9 or 10 daycares when I was 10 weeks pregnant, and had to get on the waitlist at all of them - they book up early, so don't delay!

We started our daycare search by asking friends and coworkers for recommendations; additionally, we visited our state's daycare licensing website to search for daycares in our zip code and nearby zip codes.  (If you live in Texas, click here for the site).  Selecting a licensed daycare provides some peace of mind that the daycare meets the minimum state licensing standards. For this reason, we only considered licensed daycares in our search.  Depending on your state, you may be able to review the results of recent inspections online to give you an idea of their compliance history.

First, you'll have to decide what type of daycare you want to consider - such as smaller, in-home daycares, or larger childcare centers.  Each has benefits, so this is a personal decision.  Next, compile a list of possible daycare options that meet your criteria using a combination of friends' recommendations and state licensing website.  Narrow down the list based on proximity to your work or home and other preferences you may have.  Is it important to you that the daycare is faith-based (e.g. church affiliated)?  Do you want a daycare with a Montessori approach?  You can probably narrow down the list quite a bit just by looking at the location and the daycare's name (which may indicate the type of daycare it is). 

Finally, look up the websites of the daycares remaining on your list to evaluate their operating days and hours.  We found that many daycares in our area only operate on certain weekdays (not Monday-Friday) or had shortened hours (such as 9 AM - 2 PM), which ruled them out as options for us based on our work schedules; we needed a daycare that was open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (at a minimum) every weekday.

Once we had a list of options, we called each daycare to schedule an appointment for a tour of the facility.  We ended up visiting 9 or 10 daycares, although some we ruled out fairly quickly after stepping inside the facility.  We allowed an hour for each tour, although most of them only took 30-45 minutes. 

Develop a list of questions to ask before your tour so that you ensure you get the answers you need and can make an apples-to-apples comparison among the daycares you visit.  For reference, here is a list of the questions we took with us (a compilation of a bunch of lists I found on the internet); we printed out a clean copy for each daycare we toured so that we could make notes of the responses.  Since we visited so many, it would have been hard to keep them all straight without our notes!

General Overview and Availability

  • What ages do you accept?
  • What are your hours (earliest I can drop my child off / latest I can pick up)?
  • What happens if I am late picking up my child? (Is there a fee?)
  • What holidays are you closed? Are you closed for extended periods of time at summer or Christmas break?
  • What is your inclement weather policy?
  • Do you have availability? What is your waitlist process like?
  • How do I register or get added to the waitlist?  Is there a registration fee? Is it refundable or non-refundable?
  • Do you offer a part-time care option?  If yes, do I have to commit to a set schedule or can it vary week to week?
  • Can I visit the facility without an appointment?

Daycare Staff and Training 
  • How long has your facility been providing daycare?
  • What is the staff to child ratio?
  • Does your staff have training in early childhood development? What is their accreditation?
  • Are teachers trained in first aid and CPR?
  • What is your staff turnover?
  • Are background checks completed on staff members?
 Curriculum and Schedule
  • Does each child have their own crib?
  • What is your curriculum like?
  • Do children move up to the next class based on age or is it skills based?
  • Is there any outdoor time?
  • How much time do they watch television during the day?
  • How do you communicate with parents? Is there a daily report or another way you inform parents of what children did during the day (naps, bottles, diapers, etc.)?
  • Do you feed babies on demand or on a schedule?
  • How do you prepare breastmilk?
  • Are meals provided by the daycare once children start eating solids?
  • Are snacks provided by the daycare?
  • Can we make our own baby food or do you require it to be store-bought?
  • Do they allow for special needs diets?
  • Are parents given a monthly menu? Can I see a sample of your current menu?
  • Do you have adequate storage for breast milk? 
  • How are they disciplined?
  • Are diapers and/or wipes provided or do we supply our own?
  • How do you handle toilet training?
  • At what age do you require weaning from pacifier and/or bottle? 
  • What is your sick policy?
  • What do you do if my child becomes sick at daycare?
  • What is your policy for handling falls or incidents?
  • Are immunizations required?
  • Do you dispense medication only with a parent or doctor’s signature?
  • How often are toys washed? What do you use to clean them?
  • Do caregivers use gloves when handling food and when changing diapers?
  • Are there video cameras (with webcam option)? 
  • Are there restrictions on who may pick up my child?
 Registration and fees
  • How do I reserve a space for my infant?
  • What are your daycare fees for full-time? Part-time?
  • Is there a reduction in fees if my child is sick or takes vacation?

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