Thursday, 15 June 2017

Sleep Sanctuary: A Serene Baby Nursery that Curbs Overstimulation

It's now almost 3 months since the arrival of our baby girl, and I'm happy to report that our carefully planned nursery is a big hit with her. Since I didn't know the sex of the baby throughout my entire pregnancy I chose a sophisticated safari theme that I am still in love with all these weeks after baby came home.

Nursery Decor DIY to Achieve a Calm and Modern Look

I deviated a tad bit from my original polyvore idea board, but overall, I was able to achieve the same serene look I was after with a monochromatic color theme and a few DIYs.

I looked up Dana Obleman's 10 Tips for Creating a Sleep Sanctuary prior to starting on the design. She basically lays out all the ways and things you need to promote better sleep for your baby. From regulating the temperature to installing a sound machine, you can use simple methods of creating peace in the room.

Since overstimulation is a big problem with babies, gone are the days of bright garish colors and tons of disney characters on the walls. You want your baby to sleep when in their crib, not stay up during nap time to babble with their sticker buddy on the wall. For this reason, I kept the colors cool and started with a grayish white on the walls.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Ready for Baby: What to Pack in the Hospital Bag

So I have about 2 weeks to go to my due date. Baby is almost here and I just finished packing my hospital bag. It's even placed in the car — talk about being well prepared.

I did a lot of research on what I absolutely needed for labor, delivery and after, as I didn't want to overpack. Turns out you need a lot of crap, and shouldn't forget to include items for the hubby and of course, for baby.

Labor, Delivery and Baby — What to Pack for the Hospital

I started with what I usually pack for a weekend getaway, then slowly added the not-so-sexy essentials listed in most pregnancy books. Here's the mommy bag list I finally ended up with:

Friday, 17 February 2017

Gender Neutral Nursery: Sophisticated Safari

I'm officially 35 weeks pregnant and I think I've finally settled on a theme for the baby's nursery. Most people have not been shy in calling us crazy to our faces — they just can't believe that we willingly chose not to find out the sex of the baby. It doesn't really bother me though, so I just smile and let them know that I don't care either way and am just praying for a healthy, happy baby and a safe delivery.

"But, but..." they persist, "how are you going to know how to decorate the nursery?"

I can't help but laugh at that comment. I really don't think the baby is going to care what the nursery looks like. Besides, even if I knew whether the baby was going to be a girl or a boy, the colors I choose would never be pink or blue. I think gender assigned colors are outdated and quite frankly, both colors feel a little depressing to me. In fact, I feel best when surrounded by light, bright shades of white, yellow and gold, so that's the direction I'm going.

I would never paint my own room pink or blue, so why would I choose those colors for a room that I am going to be spending hours nursing, changing and playing with my kid in?

How I Chose a Safari Theme for the Nursery

Anyhow, as with any decorating project. I usually take stock of the decor pieces I have have on hand. Since I have a habit of buying items that speak to my soul, even when I don't yet have a place for such objects, I always have a few pieces in the garage or in storage just waiting to be put on display.

For the nursery, I knew I wanted to use one of the painting my hubby and I had bought on our honeymoon in South Africa (check out some of our honeymoon pictures if you are up for it). On that trip we bought two large oil paintings on canvas of safari animals, which needed to be framed as we had brought the rolled up canvas home on the airplane.

Knowing I wanted to use the elephant piece because of the grays and gold colors in it, I set about researching the most eco friendly cribs and mattresses on the market. After settling on the Babyletto Modo 3-in-1 crib, I created a polyvore collage to get my ideas on one page and voila! I came up with the image I have posted here in this blog post.

The best part, I think that this room can grow with the baby. For actual pictures of the nursery, come back soon as I'll be posting those once I finish the final touches.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Unisex Baby Shower: Black, White and Gold

This past week has been a whirlwind! I traveled back to Toronto for a few different reasons — mainly to attend a good friend's wedding on New Year's Eve, to see family and celebrate Ukrainian Christmas, and to attend my own baby shower (hosted by two of my sisters and a very close friend). Oh, did I forget to mention that my husband and I are expecting our first child in about 10 short weeks? Crazy!

All Black, White and Gold: My Sophisticated Baby Shower

The baby shower was from 11am to 2:30 and it was just oodles of fun. The lovely hosts sure know how to throw a great party as the decor was not only beautiful, but so much thought and effort had been placed into every game, morsel of food (and there was so much to choose from) and party detail.

Since the hubs and I don't plan on finding out the gender of the baby, I had asked that the theme of the party be kept gender neutral and classic. I find gold to be so very on trend this year and always makes any shindig a classier affair, so what better way to perk up the ever sophisticated duo of black and white?

The hosts asked me for a few baby shower ideas and preferences that I had in mind, then ran with it and planned the most perfect day without any stress on me. What godsends!

I couldn't have asked for a better day. Here are the close up photos of all the black, white and gold party and decor elements that made up my beautiful baby shower, starting with the receiving table, cake table and streamer backdrop:

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Chicago Townhouse Condo Tour: Bright, Warm, and Collected

I've been really debating how to present our townhouse tour. Do I go room by room? Do I do before and afters? Should I just present our whole place in one go?

I figure since there is no perfect way, I might as well just start posting and see how it goes. So here it is, one complete house tour all in one go, with before and afters to come in future posts.

Collected Clutter to Bring Warmth to the Chicago Suburbs

My husband Andy and I have spent countless hours in antique shops large and small, all around the world. Sometimes we are in search of something specific, other times we roam aimlessly, looking for the perfect piece to speak to us. I love finding pieces that inspire nostalgia, he loves historical pieces that teach you about how people used to live. At first he used to just humor me on these antiquing trips and use it as an excuse to look for music records, but now he approaches antiquing like a trip to the museum — where he has access to varied artifacts that tell interesting stories.

Having brought many artifacts home from these antiquing trips, the move from Toronto to Chicago was a big undertaking. Moving our whole life consisted of taking stock of everything we had, and well, selling most of it. We kept only the pieces that spoke most to us, packed what we could fit in a storage pod container and had our things shipped to Chicago. 

After many weeks of looking for the perfect place to live, we settled on an open concept condo townhouse in the suburbs of Chicago to be closer to Andy's work. Rush hour traffic is no joke in Chicago, and we figured it was better to enjoy spending time together versus sitting in traffic for about 2 hours each way (and that's simply for a 24 mile drive!)

Our Townhouse Tour

The townhouse was very outdated and needed a ton of work, but from first glance I knew it was all pretty much cosmetic and wouldn't take long to customize to our preferences. I didn't know how it was all going to look when I was done with it, but I knew I wanted lots of white walls, dark floors and ample lighting to highlight all of our collected pieces.

We hired help for the floors and painting of the walls, but I tore out the 17 year old wall-to-wall carpeting from every inch of the place with my bare hands, and I DIY'ed everything I could get my hands on, i.e. the lighting, kitchen counters, sanding the stairs and creating a runner, bathrooms and so on. I will try my best to post each of those DIY projects as a separate post to come.

Foyer, Living Room, Dining Room and Kitchen

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Clever Ways to Reuse Plastic Food and Protein Containers

Wondering what to do with all the empty plastic food containers you've accumulated? In an effort to add more protein to my diet, I started buying protein powder for my post-workout shakes—two years later and I have about a 12 empty tubs sitting in my craft room.

5 Ways to Repurpose Empty Plastic Food Containers

Sure, at the very least you can recycle them. But I find that the labels come off easily and the containers very durable, leaving me wondering whether I can find other ways to reuse them. I'm thinking I can make little craft kits to store in the tubs for the nieces and nephews, or even drill a few holes and use the tubs as yarn separators or even twine or ribbon organizers.

In my search for the perfect project, I came across a number of genius ideas that might translate well to new uses for plastic protein powder tubs, or really any other type of plastic container you may have lying around.

1. Drill Holes and Make Luminaries or Lanterns

Image Source:
I'm thinking of drilling a few holes into the plastic and placing LED christmas lights into them or a flameless candle to make pretty luminaries and lanterns — kind of like this:

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