Wednesday, May 21

Dinosaur Birthday Crown {free pattern}

To keep our party for Big Brother simple, the only thing I actually made was his special-request "dino hat."

I think he liked, since he hardly wanted to take it off! It was pretty simple to make and very cheap (we had all the felt already!).

Today I have a free pattern for anyone else who needs a dinosaur birthday crown for a little birthday boy! Ready to get started?

Monday, May 19

Dinosaur Birthday - on the Cheap!

Big Brother looked forward to his birthday for weeks. Multiple times a day I would hear:

"My birfday's comin' up."
"Is it my birfday yet?"
"It's awmost my birfday."

So we talked about his birfday a lot. Whenever I asked him what he wanted to do he would say "I want dino hat, and dino cake, and dino ice cream." That was it. So we definitely needed to go with a dino theme, but we didn't want to throw our life savings into it. This was our solution for a dino birthday on a budget.

We celebrated his actual birthday on a Friday (when we gave him a DIY zoo pass and took him to the zoo) and then had a party with a few friends & family on Saturday. Let's start with Friday. We actually kind of banked on him forgetting it was his birthday (probably the last year that will work). Daddy took him out for donuts first thing in the morning while a couple aunts and I went to work decorating. This boy may love balloons even more than dinosaurs so our splurge was a helium balloon kit for about $25. We added a couple packs of dollar tree streamers and tried to make as much wow factor as we could for the little fella.

I also found these inflatable dinosaurs at dollar tree and added them to the set up:

Plus a homemade dinosaur birthday crown as requested (using felt from our crafting stash).

And dollar tree party hats all around. Baby Brother was on the fence about the whole thing.

Friday, May 16

Critter-Proof Cage & Garden Update

Our little seedlings are still chillin' out clinging to life in their mini greenhouse and while they wait we are trying to get the rest of our yard & garden ready for transplanting. You may remember we had quite a problem with bunnies (and squirrels) eating all of our plants last time. So this year we hopefully found a way to at least keep them out of our small salad & herb garden.

We built a simple frame and covered it with chicken wire so the little furry fiends can't get in. It's made with 1x2s 1x3s so it's pretty lightweight. We just lift it off of the garden when we need in for planting or weeding. I realize "garden" is a strong word here. So far we have chives & sage that popped up from last year.

To build it we started with two square sections like this. The ends are 1x3s (because we had them left over and they were long enough) and the long sides are 1x2s we purchased for the project. We made it just big enough to sit on the sides of our raised bed, but if we did a bed that didn't sit against the house we would have made it a little larger fit around the outside of the bed and sit on the ground.

We screwed the ends together.

Wednesday, May 14

Temporary Mini Greenhouse for Garden Seedlings

It's been almost two months since we started the seeds for this year's garden and we're itching to get them in the ground! We basically have no idea what we're doing but figured it was better to jump in than to put it off. We've already been learning a lot along the way, and one thing we've struggled with is getting enough light for our plants. We put them in the sunniest window in our house, but even that doesn't seem to get enough hours of light during the day and the light doesn't reach the plants toward the back of the table (meaning we had to keep rotating the cups trying to get all the little fellas some sunshine). I'm thinking maybe next year we'll need some kind of light to help them grow instead? That would keep them warm because I suspect our house has been a bit on the chilly side for them.... Even so some of our more viney plants like pumpkins, beans, and zucchinis were able to grow around the window and really seem to be doing well.

But several of our other plants are still just so tiny and weak. These are cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage that just aren't doing well at all.

It may be too late to save them but we are going to try! At the suggestion of a pro-gardener friend we decided to try a small outdoor greenhouse to really get them sunny and warm. Since we don't have any greenhouse or a chance to make something if we want to try and save these babies in time for planting, we came up with this little make-shift solution.

We just put the plants into some clear plastic tubs (clear so lots of light can get through) and put an old window across the top. BOOM. Done.

Now we just keep them watered and wait. Most of the time we leave the window on top because they need to be protected from the wind & the squirrels, but on nice days when we're playing outside I take it off for awhile to try to acclimate them a bit. I don't know if it's the right thing to do. It feels right to me, but we all know I'm flying by the seat of my pants here.

If you don't have an old window, we added a third tub that had a clear lid and just put the lid on. So hopefully that works out. Now we just let these guys warm up a little and hope we can plant them in the next couple weeks!

Anyone else start seeds this year? How's it going?

Monday, May 12

Brainstorming with Sherwin-Williams

I've been thinking for a while now about how to bring our nursery up to speed. You know, since it's not actually a nursery anymore. It's been sort of thrown together and shifted around to grow with Big Brother, which has resulted in a kind of not functional-totally blah space. But its days are numbered because Sherwin-Williams is sponsoring a Big Boy Room makeover! They are giving us a chance to try out their Emerald™ paint and primer in one. It's the best paint with advanced stain blocking technology. But they really had me with its exceptional washability. A certain little boy has been known to color on the walls, so easy clean-up is an important factor for his own personal canvas... I mean bedroom. Besides testing out a great new paint, we'll also be using some really fun color selection tools.

But before we talk about where we're headed, let's look at where we've been. The colors and layout worked really well when we got it ready for our first bundle of squish. I still look at this picture and think, "Awwww, my baby's room!"

But times change. Tan walls are super boring when the room is for such a vibrant little fella (plus our second little fella will be moving in before too long!).  With a room that's just 9' x 11' we need every inch to pull its weight both with function and style. So we're making some plans:

Room for two little boys to sleep is the easy(ish) part. We can flip Big Brother's bed to make a loft on top and room for a second mattress underneath. This is assuming that Big Brother can safely scale the ladder before Baby Brother moves in (hence the "ish"), but that's looking pretty promising since he already climbs up and perches on the top rail. That's also called "giving your mother a heart attack."

Now on to the more pressing issues. Number one is the books. We need a place to stash them and this basket just isn't cutting it. Something like a small bookcase/nightstand might be the perfect fit.

Toy storage has also become an issue. Keeping in mind the room is small with two doors and two windows (which we are so thankful for) this is pretty much the only place that works. But our current set up of... wait for it... a small bookcase, three milk crates, and a tiny recycling bin... is bursting at the seams. We'll definitely be adding some hefty storage to hold all this and hopefully more.

The dresser is working for now with two drawers for each boy and one shared for socks and jammies. I feel like they'll probably need more drawers when they are bigger (and have bigger clothes), but we're probably just going to stick with this for now and cross that bridge when we come to it.

We'll be updating the curtains or at least adding a second panel to each window. Or we might hang some art to better fill the space by the windows instead.

The other big problem in this room are the colors. The walls are totally lifeless. And then there is every other color imaginable on the curtains, green bedding, and a blue canopy. Want to see more?

BOOM. It's rainbow and then some. Some better organization and storage will calm this area down, and some new paint should help tie everything together.

So let's have a little fun and see what kind of color this room needs!

First I played around a little with the Sherwin-Williams Chip It!®
 tool which can instantly turn any picture into a paint palette using more than 1,500 Sherwin-Williams paint colors. It works kind of like Pinterest because you can pick any picture on the web, hit your Chip It!® button, and Sherwin-Williams will create a palette with up to 10 colors that match. I played around with this art print hanging in their room. It was fun, but ultimately I didn't have one single picture that embodied everything I want for the room... so I had even more fun with the next tool!

Color Visualizer will turn your computer into a virtual design studio. With this tool you can actually put colors on the walls to see how they work together! They have stock photos like this you can work with:

Or you can upload your own photos to see how colors work in your actual room! We had some fun with this.

We knocked a few things out pretty fast, but there were a few front runners. We decided we definitely wanted to go with a grayish blue since it felt very boy but could still work as a neutral backdrop. We toyed with the idea of blue under the chair rail and light gray above, but that felt too formal for a little boy's room. We're still tossing around the idea of a green canopy to tie it into the bedding, but a little boy would be so sad to lose his moons (the white spots on the blue canopy) so I don't think we can do it.
SW 6230 Rainstorm, SW 6162 Ancient Marble
Next we tried something a little more dramatic with a solid blue wall. Hmmm, getting better.
SW 6230 Rainstorm, SW 6199 Rare Gray

Then we went even a little crazier with blue all around. But with such a small room I was afraid this would feel too small and dark, so it was knocked out of the running
SW 6230 Rainstorm

So we tried a compromise and dressed up the one-wall look with some horizontal stripes.

SW 6230 Rainstorm, SW 6162 Ancient Marble
We didn't want to totally abandon a solid color, though, so we tried it out with some lighter shades. It didn't tickle our fancy quite like the contrast that came with the darker blues, but the calm, cool feel still made it a favorite.
SW 7617 Mediterranean

When it was all said and done, SW 6230 Rainstorm and SW 7617 Mediterranean were our runaway favorites. So we ran down the street to our friendly neighborhood Sherwin-Williams store to grab the swatches and see how they played out in real life. We especially wanted to make sure whatever we chose went with the wood trim throughout the house. We taped up our favorites, along with the lighter and darker shades of each. Then the hard decision making started. We felt like our original two would feel a little too dark, but we still wanted a lot of contrast. So we were really drawn to the second from the bottom, SW 6221 Moody Blue. (I also got some light gray/white chips and we decided that a really light almost white would work best)

So we gave it a try in the Color Visualizer. It was great as an accent wall!
SW 6221 Moody Blue, SW 7010 White Duck

And then we had another idea to make things more exciting... stripes on the storage wall, anyone?
SW 6221 Moody Blue, SW 7010 White Duck

We made that little mock up and it was love at first sight. So that's the plan - one wall blue, two walls white, and one wall striped. We can't wait to share the finished product with you guys! In the mean time feel free to visit Chip It!® or Color Visualizer to create your own perfect color combinations. For even more tips and ideas you can check out Sherwin-Williams on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.

But wait... there's more! Sherwin-Williams is giving away a $50 Sherwin-Williams gift card! To enter, all you have to do is answer this question:
What room would you make over with Sherwin-Williams?

Good luck and happy painting!

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
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This sweepstakes runs from 5/12/2014-6/1/2014.
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