Toddler Table

Wow! Can you believe tomorrow is Thanksgiving already? This fall as flown by… its going to be Christmas before we know it! As much as I love the holiday season, I don’t think I am ready yet!!

Here is a little project I have been working on, if you have any toddlers on your Christmas list, this was a cheap & easy project, that turned out FANTASTIC!!

Ikea before and after

I thought Bubs would like his own “toddler size” table, his best friend, “N”, has this one, and he LOVES to sit at it!

Ikea Table

Ikea Table

BONUS – It costs only $19!!

I thought it was such a great deal, and Bubs seemed to love it, but it was pretty boring… so I decided to “spruce” it up a bit!

I had a leftover paint sample I bought at Benjamin Moore, one I thought I wanted for Bubs bedroom, but didn’t like once I tested it on the walls. Of course I did not get rid of it (because I don’t like to waste things!), so I dug it out of the basement and decided to use it for the table!

Benjamin Moore Blue Lagoon

Benjamin Moore Blue Lagoon

Then I thought, how fun would it be if Bubs could draw ON the actual table top?? Obviously a toddler would LOVE to draw on the table, who needs paper, right? So I thought I would use chalkboard paint!! I already had some on hand, from another project I did (more on that project later!).

FolkArt Chalkboard Paint

FolkArt Chalkboard Paint

Since the ikea wood is untreated, it absorbed the paint like nobody’s business…

Ikea Table 1

Ikea Table 2

I am really liking the Benjamin Moore Blue Lagoon as a table color (even if I didn’t like it as a wall color!).

After I did the first coat on all the wood pieces, I decided to paint a coat of chalkboard paint on the table top.

One Coat

One Coat

Ahhhh!! That looks BAD!! I remember when I used this paint before that it did weird things and turned out ok, so I tried to relax a bit…

I let the first coat (on both the wood and table top) soak in overnight, then put a second coat on.

Ikea Table 3

Second Coat

Second Coat

Ok, everything looks pretty good with the second coat! Now time to let it all dry…

Ikea All dry

I put one coat of polyurethane on the wood pieces, and “seasoned” the chalkboard…

IMG_4600

I let the poly dry overnight, then put the chairs together…

Ikea Chair

Bubs Approves!

After wiping the table top off and drawing on it a bit with the chalk, and wiping again, I realized the paint was chipping off! (I was worried about that happening, since the table top has a shiny white finish on it.) Ugh!

So I flipped the table top over and used the “raw” side, I lightly sanded it with an extra-fine sanding block, and then started over with my chalkboard paint…

Ikea Table Top

Ok it looks better and seems more durable (always important when making things for toddlers!). I “seasoned” it no chips this time!

ikea table top 1

I had already taken the chairs home, so here is the table, Bubs LOVED it!!

ikea table 4

ikea picstitch

FIrst snack at his new table!

First snack at his new table!

Here it is all done!

Austin's Table

Austin’s Table

Austin's Table

Austin’s Table

I am sooooo happy that I took the time to paint it, it looks FANTASTIC! And for $19 and some leftover paint… who can beat that deal??

What do you think?

Yummy Zucchini “Pasta”

I am so sorry for being MIA! Bubs has recently reached his “needy” stage. I was kind of hoping he would never have one! (Wishful thinking, I know!)

Zucchini Pasta

Here is our healthy, 100% Organic lunch! Bubs & I both LOVED it! And we finished it all!! This “pasta” bowl is made with organic zucchini, organic red pepper, organic onion, organic garlic, organic mushrooms, and organic extra-virgin olive oil.

How did I make the “noodles” you ask?? I bought one of these handy spiral cutters on Amazon.

My mom had this spiral cutter this summer while we were up north, she made us zucchini noodles, they were great! So I decided to buy the same cutter. Today is the first time I have used it! Great results, I definitely recommend it!

Onto the steps of our lunch…

First I washed the zucchini and used my potato/carrot peeler and peeled “Stripes” into the zucchini.

Organic Zucchini

Organic Zucchini Before

Then, I spun the zucchini into the spiral cutter, this is what is left of the zucchini afterwards.

Organic Zucchini After

Organic Zucchini After

This is what 2 zucchinis look like, after being “spun” thru the spiral cutter.

Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Noodles

Then I cut up some organic mushrooms, organic onion, organic red pepper and organic garlic, I dumped them all into my stir fry pan (which, I LOVE by the way!) and added my organic EVOO…I let these sauté a bit before adding the zucchini noodles.

Stir Fry

Stir Fry

Once I added the zucchini noodles, I sautéed for just a few mins, then poured into a large bowl, Bubs and I ate them just like that, no seasoning, or anything (none needed, really!).

Veggie "Pasta" Bowl

Veggie “Pasta” Bowl

Ingediants:

2 Organic Zucchini (About medium size)

1/2 Organic  Sweet Onion

3 Cloves Organic Garlic (chopped finely)

4 Organic Mushrooms, cut into strips

1/2 Organic Red Pepper, cut into strips

1-1 1/2 TBSP Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Heat oil in wok or large sauté pan, dump onion, garlic & red pepper in, sauté about 4-5 mins, add mushroom slices, sauté about 2 mins, add zucchini noodles, sauté about 2-3 additional minutes or until noodles are tender, pour into bowl & enjoy!!

Maybe next time I will try some different seasonings, or parmesan cheese…. I can’t wait to try other veggies!!

Have you ever made a vegetable “noodle” before??

Household Cleaners vs. Household Chemicals

Have you ever taken the time to read the ingredients of your household cleaners? (Well, the ingredients that they actually list??) There is a reason it is very “in” to buy green cleaners now! If your curious about your household chemicals cleaners, check this website, it helps explain what they are and what they are made of!

Personally, I love Seventh Generation products, but they are a bit pricey, so I have been learning to make my own (you can find TONS of ideas & “recipes” on Pinterest!)! I am starting out slow… so far I have made my own dishwasher detergentbathroom tub & tile cleaner, drain de-clogger, and dishwasher cleaner. There are so many others I want to make! Currently we have plenty of cleaning supplies in our house, so once those need replacing I will work on making my own.

Dishwasher Detergent

Dishwasher Detergent

Shower Cleaner

Bathroom Tub & Tile Cleaner

I think all of these work great!  (for tough drain clogs, you may have to use this recipe multiple time) The dishwasher detergent is a LARGE quantity, I don’t think we will need dishwasher detergent EVER again…

Have you made any homemade cleaners that have worked great??

Green Replacements

We recently upgraded our old electric stove to a beautiful, double oven gas stove! At the same time we purchased an over-the-stove microwave, and a new dishwasher (it was cheaper to buy them all together!). About a month later we purchased a new Kohler, low-flow toilet for our half bath, it was about time… the old one barely flushed and CONSTANTLY ran!!

Here is a picture of the stove and microwave, I don’t have one of the dishwasher or toilet (because, lets face it, they just aren’t as pretty!)

Stove

Upgrading our appliances had me thinking, I mean, it is always exciting to get shiny new things, especially when they will save you money in the long run, right?! So many products are now labelled “Green”, “Eco”, “energy efficient”, “low-flow” or “water efficient”, and these products help our Mother Earth by conserving her natural resources, but at what cost?

In order to replace our old appliances we have to throw them out! So now our old toilets, faucets, refrigerators, oven/stoves, microwaves, etc are in the landfill! Luckily, there are some options! You can always donate them to Habitat for Humanity or another local donation center that accepts appliances, but in many cases they may be broken or unsafe. Your local energy companies may have an appliance recycling program, I know DTE Energy and Consumers Energy do, the store you purchased from may also recycle your old/broken appliances.

Many companies give incentives for upgrading your appliances to Energy Star rated appliances,

DTE Energy offers rebates for upgrading your washing machine, thermostat, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

Consumers Energy was offering rebates for upgrading your appliances to Energy Star rated appliances, but since so many people have taken advantage of the rebates, they are no longer available for 2013.

Energy.gov is a website where you can check if you are eligible for a tax credit due to an Energy Star appliance upgrade.

We were not eligible for any government tax credits, but are looking forward to the lower water bills!! We donated our (working) old electric stove to Habitat for Humanity, Home Depot took our broken dishwasher to recycle for us, our old toilet went to the landfill (too many broken pieces in the “guts”), and our old microwave is sitting in the basement waiting for a new home!

When purchasing something new for your home, has it made you stop and think “now where does the old one go”?

Planning for a Green Baby – Nursery Wall Decor

Hello again,

Like I promised, I am trying to keep up on my posts!!

When it came to decorating the walls in the nursery, I wanted to do it myself! The hubby didn’t want a “Baby-ish” decor, and he didn’t like the wall decals, so I got creative! We decided to do shapes, colors and numbers, that didn’t scream “BABY”, but still showed that it was a kids room. I made three canvases, one with letters, one with shapes and one with numbers. I bought 10 x 10 canvas wrapped frames, I then picked fabric I thought would complement the nursery and wrapped the fabric around the frames, using a staple gun, I stapled the fabric on. I then used my Cricut cutter to cut the letters “A”, “B”, “C”, numbers “1”, “2”, “3” and a square, triangle, star and heart. I then made the cutouts into stickers, then stuck them on the fabric.

ABC Wall Decor 123 Wall Decor

After getting them placed right where I wanted them, I went outside and spray painted the whole canvas. After 2 coats of spray paint (and about a weeks time, since I had to spray paint “weather permitting”), I pealed off the cutouts, and this is what I got!

123 ABC Wall Decor

I have them hanging above the changing table/dresser. Originally I had them hanging pretty low, so Bubba could see them from his changing pad. As he has gotten older & bigger he has realized he can reach them AND knock them off the wall…. so they had to be re-hung at a higher level!!

DSC_1286

For above the crib I wanted to add Austin’s name, I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to do it while pregnant and couldn’t ask anyone for ideas either, because we didn’t share his name until he was born! I knew I wanted to use fabric. I had a bunch of scraps left over from a baby quilt I made a friend, and they happened to match Austin’s nursery perfectly! This is what I came up with…

DSC_1278I bought plain letters at Hobby Lobby and painted them white (with non-toxic white paint), I bought 6 10×10 canvases at Hobby Lobby, used my scrap fabric to cover them, stapled them using a staple gun, then glued the letters onto the fabric (Again, with non-toxic craft glue). I was originally worried that the letters might come off, but I couldn’t even pull them off after the glue dried! I think it turned out great, and my husband LOVED the outcome! (Always a plus!)

For the corner of the room with the rocking chair, I wanted to make a “library” of kids books.  One reason was for decoration, and the other was for use! We have books that were ours as kids and books that people bought us for Austin! I found these awesome shelves at Ikea (after looking EVERYWHERE else first…)… Ikea RIBBA, I bought 3 and had my dad hang them (since by that point, I didn’t need to be climbing a ladder!)

DSC_1276I wanted to add something to the other side of the window, just some small simple shelves for knick-knacks. I had a hard time finding corner shelves that were small enough for the space, but eventually found them at Home Depot! I think they look great, and add a little extra storage space.

DSC_1277

I had so much fun designing the wall decor for this room!

Is there a room in your home that you spent extra time & attention designing?

Planning for a Green Baby – Nursery Furniture

Well… I am back, my one week vacation in Florida turned into a month long vacation from my blog, I am sorry!

I would like to continue on talking about my Green Nursery. This post will speak to all the furniture we bought, and I so diligently researched!

I wanted white furniture, and since the husband got to pick the wall color, I got to pick the furniture.

Let’s start with the most important piece of a baby’s nursery, the crib! I did a lot of research on white cribs, especially since they have been recalled in the past due to harmful chemicals in the white paint. I found our crib on Amazon, but eventually ordered it from Target. The crib is a DaVinci Kalani and is made of wood from a sustainable forest in New Zealand. This is what DaVinci has to say about themselves “At DaVinci, we build not just clean, non-toxic nurseries but green, non-toxic worlds. That’s why environmental sustainability and energy efficiency are DaVinci family values.” I, of course, LOVED that I found a crib manufacturer that believed in the same things as me!

crib

Next most important piece of furniture… the rocking chair! Since our room is small, I wanted a rocking chair that had a fold out footstool. One that could easily be “folded in” so that I wouldn’t trip over it! I found this great chair at Buy Buy Baby. The color choices were great, as well as the fabric choices. I chose a dark chocolate brown microfiber, for three reasons, 1) It matched my theme for the nursery, 2) Microfiber doesn’t stain easily and, 3) After we are done with it in the nursery it will match our family room furniture! The chair wasn’t cheap, but knowing it will work in another room in our house made the purchase seem more “reasonable”. The company that makes the chair is out of Indiana, so Made in the USA!!

Nursery Chair

Nursery Chair

Next item of importance, a dresser/changing table. I wanted to purchase a dresser that my child would be able to use well past the diaper age, so I chose a simple, white dresser from Ikea. Ikea believes in sustainability and makes less expensive, solid furniture. Since we already owned a dresser from Ikea that we loved, we just purchased it in white for the nursery. This is the Ikea Hemnes dresser, in white. I did change the knobs to match the door handles and curtain hardware already in the nursery. I placed a changing pad on top of the dresser, the dresser is a great height for diaper changing, and since it is a long dresser, I have plenty of room for a basket of diapers, wipes, creams, etc. as well as a small light!

Ikea Dresser

Ikea Dresser

As for the closet, I chose two Ikea Expedit shelves. I have both standing upright in the closet, with chocolate brown bins in them. Once Bubba is a little older, I will pull them out of the closet and we will use them as benches to store his toys! I love that these have a duel function from the start! We also installed a rubbermaid closet organizer, with 2 shelves and 2 hanging rods. That way there is room for hanging clothes, and extra storage for diapers & toys on the shelves!

DSC_1266 DSC_1269

I hope you are all enjoying my Planning for a Green Baby posts!

When you buy furniture, do you make an effort to buy green? Or Made in the USA?

Weekly Recycling Bin

Check out our recycling bin this week, like I said before, we have a goal to have the recycling bin be fuller than the trash bin. This week there was no competition!

Recycling Bin

Recycling Bin

photo 1Large cardboard box (a toilet was in it, to give you an idea how big it is) full of cardboard Recycling (pizza boxes, Amazon shipping boxes, empty granola bar boxes, etc. )

photo 4Trash Bin (1 garbage bag, 1 diaper genie bag, and the lid to the old toilet bowl, the old toilet is also by the side of the road)

Did you meet your green goal this week?? Do you usually have more trash or more recycling??

Creative Ways to Reuse an Everyday Piece of “Trash”

Do you know what this is?

tp roll

I think it is safe to say most people over the age of 3 know what this is! An empty toilet paper roll, of course!

How many of these do you go through in your house in a day? Week? Or your office? If you sit and think about it, its amazing how many of these little rolls are used each day, and then, gasp!, tossed in the trash! Personally, we recycle ours, but thats at home, I am sure they are tossed at work. I have even considered taking them home from the office to recycle (I know… I am a bit of a green freak!), but I don’t know how to get them off the holder! Sounds like a ridiculous problem, but it has some sort of lock on it, which, apparently you can use a paper clip to unlock? I don’t get it!

Anyway… back to the toilet paper roll! There are MANY ways to keep these out of the landfills! Of course, you can recycle them, like we do here, or you can make art with them? Really?? If you haven’t jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, do it now! It is amazing, and I am a bit obsessed! I have found so many amazing ideas for reusing household items, but more on that later, lets focus on the toilet paper roll.

Here are just a few of the amazing things you can do with this little cardboard roll…

tp wreath

tp star

tp flower

Wrought Iron tp

tp wrappingI use this one, it works great! Just use strong tape, or the TP rolls spring off the wrapping paper rolls!

I started saving rolls, creating a stock-pile, so I could try out the wrought iron design… but Scott threw them in the recycling bin. He doesn’t always “get” my creative ideas, he likes to throw everything away (or in the recycling), but more on that later!

As you can see, the ideas are endless! Who would have known that you could use such a boring, mundane, everyday piece of “trash” to create such cool things?!

Have you tried any of these designs? Or do you have another way you reuse them in your house??

Planning for a Green Baby – Our Blue (Green) Nursery

It is all about COLOR when decorating, in my opinion!

I once decorated a bathroom, when I lived alone, in HOT pink. That’s right, I had HOT pink stripes on the wall, and a HOT pink & purple shower curtain. A male friend of ours said “It looks like Victoria’s Secret threw up in your bathroom!”! I loved that bathroom, but it was definitely a “girls” bathroom, so when Scott & I bought our house, he made it very clear he did not want another “girls” bathroom. It also took him some time to realize I have an “eye” for decorating, and using color, without going overboard!

DSC_0169

The walls before we painted (with a test strip of different blue)

Scott & I discussed wall color for our spare bedroom for years, without ever moving forward with our ideas. The walls in that room were very badly damaged… or should I say poorly repaired! It was evident that the previous owners had a chair rail in that room, that they decided to remove, and fix the damage themselves (VERY poorly). When we bought the house, almost every room in it was painted white. On top of that, it was painted with the cheapest, flattest white paint! We repainted most of the rooms, but had left the spare bedroom alone, knowing that 1) one day it would become a nursery and 2) it needed a lot of work because of the wall damage.

After we found out we were expecting a baby, we discussed what color we would paint the walls and what we would do about those damaged poorly repaired walls. I, of course, voted for green paint! Scott wanted blue, if it was a boy, but said I could do green if it was a girl. I figured that was a good compromise. We both agreed we needed to hire someone to repair the walls & paint them.

Well… we found out we were expecting a baby boy! So Scott won the wall color…finding the paint was easy, we have already painted many walls in our house with Benjamin Moore Aura Low VOC paint, and have LOVED the outcome, so all we had to do was settle on a shade of blue. We both knew we did not want a “baby blue” color, just something in the blue family. The color blue we landed on, was actually a blueish-green, called Bahaman Sea Blue. We chose to pay a professional that had painted for my parents, friends of my parents and even some of the buildings I work in! He did an absolutely amazing job! Besides repairing the damaged walls, he painted the walls & interior of the closet blue, and painted the trim & ceiling a nice clean, crisp white! By the way, don’t the floors look great? You can read about them here.

DSC_0205

DSC_0207

Lexi likes to photo bomb!

DSC_0211

Before any furniture was in the nursery, the walls were quite bright (to say the least) and many of our friends & family (Scott included) wondered what we were thinking! Once the room came together, everyone loved the outcome, Scott even said it might be his favorite room in the house now! (Hopefully you will all agree once you see the finished room!!)

Do you have a favorite room in your home? Have you ever had a decorating idea, that others thought was a bit crazy, until they saw the finished product?

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

V-day

photo from

The colors that typically signify Valentine’s Day are pink & red, but what about green??

We celebrate love, romance & friendship on February 14th every year. The most common ways to celebrate this are with gifts of candy, flowers & “valentines”. A valentine started out as a handwritten note to a person’s friends & lover, and eventually turned into a printed card holiday. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (second, only, to Christmas)

I am sure most adults remember celebrating Valentine’s Day in school, you were required to bring a valentine for each kid in your class, then you placed them in some sort of handmade “mailbox” on the other kids desks. As we grew up, we realized we didn’t have to give everyone in our class a valentine and reserved these “notes” for our close friends & maybe even an anonymous one to our crush!

As fun as it is to give and receive valentines, what do you do with the paper cards once the holiday is over? What about the empty chocolate box, fresh cut flowers, wrapping paper, etc?? Most of the items are sent, to where else, the landfill! In an effort to minimize your landfill distribution this Valentine’s Day, consider reusing your valentine gifts and gifting others with greener options… possibly an E-Card, a potted plant, a homemade meal or treat, helping out around the house, giving your partner a massage… the list is endless when we start thinking outside the Chocolate Box!

valentines chocolate heart box

Some tips on how to reuse your gifts…

Reuse the chocolate box, pretty much anywhere that sells food, sells small, individually wrapped candies, or you can go to a candy shop and buy individual candies and reuse the chocolate box next year! It can also be used as a gift box, usually the candy boxes are quite decorative, so all they would need is a ribbon.

Repurpose the chocolate box, use it to organize love letters, small craft items, or other momentous. Cut a slit in the side of the box and use as a bank, especially cute for a little girl!

Reuse the plastic candy tray, these trays are great for paint! Or for sorting small items, jewelry beads, small kids toys, etc. Best of all, they can be washed and reused over and over again!

Place those fresh cut flowers in a compost/yard waste bin (When they have died)

Reuse the valentine cards, you can cut the cards apart and use them to make future Valentine’s Day cards, you can use them for scrapbooking, or check out this site, it shows you how to use the cards to make gift boxes!

If you want to make this a green holiday, but need more ideas, just do some research, there is a ton of information on the web to help you reuse these gifts!

Here is some cuteness overload to put a smile on your face this Valentine’s Day!!

photo 1 photo 2

Are you planning to give out Valentines this year? What do you typically do for your loved ones for Valentine’s Day?