{What I'm Reading}: January

What I'm Reading: January 2013

Mom's On Call - Toddler Book

Desperate for some advice on discipline, I chose to read Mom's On Call. Overall, I have to say this book was harsh, and that the opinions & advice are not for the faint of heart. There are certainly some suggestions that C & I appreciated, and embrace wholeheartedly. I mentioned it here, but Mom's On Call suggests positive reinforcement before bed (just as they are closing their eyes), as a way to convince your toddler to stay in their bed all night. I'm not sure if this was the one thing that changed A's sleep habits, but, we're still doing it every night. I thought the suggestions on 'confident face' were spot-on, and

The harshest part of the book for me, was their directive on your 'one and only job' at night... to never, under any circumstance, open the door to your child's room. EVER (OK, except for sickness... but how do you know your child has a fever in the middle of the night if you don't go in the room?) In fact, they suggest reversing the handle so that you can lock it from the outside, and go on to tell you how this is safe, especially in case of a fire (so that your child can't escape and roam the house in fear). Um... I don't really know where to start, but all I can say is that I'm not that mom. Maybe this works for some people, but it is not for us. Never responding to A's cries in the middle of the night? Ignoring that he is calling for me? I couldn't. It actually makes me a little sad to think there are other toddlers out there, who wake up in the middle of the night calling for their momma's, only to cry themselves back to sleep.

( and now this review is already much longer than I thought it would be... )

Gone Girl

Of course, I had to read Gone Girl. I was maybe the only person on earth who hadn't read it. Gone Girl lived up to every expectation I had for it, and more. Gillian Flynn is a gifted writer, and always kept you guessing with every page. The thought that she put into her characters, and their development throughout the book, was very impressive. I have to admit, I was a little confused by the ending. However, once I thought about it some more, it made sense, but still seemed abrupt to me. I would definitely read any of Flynn's other books, after reading this one.

Sweet Tooth

I am only 20% through Sweet Tooth, so I can't give a complete review. I will say, if you are reading and are at the very beginning... it gets better. Just be patient!

I would love to know: what are you reading?


On (not) Quitting

Sometimes I dream of what it would be like to just close my Etsy shop and stop writing this blog.

What would life be like if I didn’t read any home decorating blogs? Would I still love it just as much? {Probably}. Would I miss designing if I closed my Etsy shop, and just ordered my Christmas Cards through Minted like a normal person? Some days I'm really not sure.

Wednesday was one of those days where I wanted to quit it all.

I absolutely LOVE working with clients through Etsy, and designing something that they adore. What I don’t love? Working with my printers on the final product. On Wednesday, I was reminded why I ever hesitated opening my shop in the first place… because ultimately, I have little control over the finished product. One of my vendors completely took advantage of me, and it made me disgusted. She backed me into a corner, and I almost gave up because I was out of options. Thankfully, I found a commercial printer who is doing me a huge favor by running a small job on their large press, just to help me out. And do you know what the old printer said when I told her I was pulling the project from her? She wanted me to pay her for her time. That’s when I wanted to quit, and forget that there was ever a time I loved doing this.

And then, Cori posted Ava’s baby announcements.
And showed her readers how she framed them in Ava’s nursery.


And told all of her readers (there are A LOT of them) how much she loved what I designed for her. And I was, once again, reminded why I love doing this.

Cori’s post was exactly what I needed to hear read.

If you don't already read La Vie Petite, you should. Cori is maybe the cutest mom I've ever seen, and runs her own small business on top of being a mom to her 4 littles. She inspires me time and time again to get out of my leggings & sweatshirt and look presentable. Oh, and I'm very excited that we may be meeting for lunch in the next few weeks!

Happy Monday, friends!



Miscellany Monday

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Our weekend was kind of all over the place... in a good way!

• C and I spent this last week looking at preschool programs for A. After visiting 4, making many pro-con lists, and an hour long discussion, I think we've finally come to a decision. I know that this program will be great for our little guy, but thinking about saying goodbye to him during that first drop-off... my heart hurts just thinking about it.

• We spent a lot of this weekend baby-proofing. I'm amazed at what needs to be baby-proofed after 21 months. There's so much more that A can get into, and now that he's out of his crib, we had to re-proof his room. His dresser is now secured to the wall, and we also installed a gate in the playroom. Of course, A helped with both. He used his toy drill on the gate, and then helped find a stud with dad's stud-finder.

• I've been ready for some changes in our wall decor, and yesterday, C was able to move everything around. I was so proud of myself for "shopping the house", rather than going out and buying something new. I'll be sharing those changes soon!

• A few of you have asked how A is doing now that we've moved him onto a mattress. Honestly, he's doing great! He loves his new big boy bed, and sleeping has been getting better and better. I know that not every night & nap will be perfect, but we have made so much progress in the last 2 months. In fact, on Saturday night, he slept 10.5 straight hours. I took this picture not long after he woke up - happy baby!

• So happy that Kourtney & Kim Take Miami is back on. I had been missing my trashy reality T.V., and the Kardashians never disappoint.

Have a wonderful week!



Happy Wednesday! Here's what I'm loving these days.

1) After reading Reichel’s post about her juice cleanse, I’m tempted to try one. My hubby seems to remember that I tried this once and got sick, but I truly have no memory of ever doing that. For lent one year, I tried to give up dairy & refined sugar, which I’m pretty sure I didn’t stick to…. I wonder if I have the willpower to try this for 3 days? Here's the one I've been thinking about.

2)  Our baby monitor died last weekend – boo! I was certainly disappointed, since we had only been using it for 18 months... and of course, the warranty is only for 1 year. I knew we would need to invest in a new one when we decided to grow our family, because Summer Infant no longer makes the monitor we originally had, and we wouldn’t be able to add an additional camera. We ordered this monitor last week, and while I won't yet say I love it, having a working monitor is wonderful.

3)  One of my 2012 resolutions was to get my pictures off my computer, and into an album. I was able to finish both 2009 & 2010, and they now happily reside in our bedroom. I’m in the process of working on our 2011 album, and I’m loving seeing all of these pictures again. Such wonderful memories. I still can't believe this little guy will be 2 in the spring.

4)      It’s the little things that make me happy. I finally ordered a new makeup bag, and it fits all of my makeup perfectly. Plus, it's cute.


5)  In keeping with my 2013 resolution to be more green, I ordered myself a waterbottle small enough to keep in my purse during my commute! Its so cute, and I love not having a plastic bottle to recycle every night.

6)  I shared A's big boy room inspiration yesterday, just in time for his big boy bedding to arrive in the mail... and I LOVE it.  


7) And I'm always loving these two boys. They make my heart so full.

Linking up with Jaime for WILW!


{Big Boy Room} Mood Board

Hi friends! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend - we definitely did! Having an extra day off was glorious.

Our little guy had a big weekend: his crib came down, and he's now sleeping on a mattress on the floor. He has done great the last two days, which makes me feel so much better about the decision. I will admit that I cried a little bit as we disassembled the crib, but I know this move was for the best.

Just wanted to share A's big boy room inspiration. Because we're planning to move A into his twin bed next month, I've already bought the quilt & sham below, but still need to buy sheets. The move into a new room will most likely be a summer project, but I've already started to search out things on sale & that we can refinish or DIY. I am SO excited!



{Project Playroom} Part III: The Rug

A small update to the playroom - our new rug!

LOVE it!

I ordered this rug from Target, but unfortunately, it was a little too big for the space. I couldn't bear to return it, so I brought it to a local rug shop, and they were able to cut it down to size and re-serge it for me. You'd never know by looking at it, and now, it fits perfectly!

If you look closely in the first picture, you will also see a new white filing cabinet. We now have 2 of them, and they will become the base of our new desk. We're making lots of progress in here, and I'm so excited to see the room coming together the way I had envisioned.

Hope to have more updates soon! In the meantime, we'll be playing in the new space!


Gallery Wall Project Update #3

It's been 5 months, but I am finally back with an update to my parents' gallery wall!

As a reminder, this is the wall we were looking to fill.

Back in August, we had purchased frames to fill the wall, and had figured out an arrangement that could potentially work in the hallway.

The big delay was because we were waiting on a few back-ordered mats. They still aren't in (and we're about to admit defeat and find new ones...), so on New Year's Day we decided to move forward and hang the frames anyway.

Here they are, ready for new mats and some amazing family pictures!

Can't wait to share the finished wall, hopefully soon!
(No pressure, Mom!)


My Baby Sleeps on a Dog Bed

It sounds worse than it is…
But my baby sleeps on the dog’s bed.

Let me start from the beginning: as you might remember (from here, here and here), our little guy is the world’s worst sleeper. Has been since his very first night in the hospital, and continues to be to this day. I won’t go into a whole dissertation on sleep, but believe me when I say we’ve tried it all. A just wants his mommy. I work full time (which means I have enough mommy guilt to fill a room), and I usually give into him in the middle of the night. Why? Because I’m a softie. And because I need to sleep, too. And because my little boy wants his momma to lay next to him.  My days are numbered with how long he will ask me to do that… so, I (happily) oblige.

On December 1st, while away at my in-laws house, A learned how to climb out of his pack n’play. I knew that day was coming, but when I actually saw him do it? I was shocked. He got his legs over the side so easily, he actually looked like he has been practicing that move for months. By the time I was upstairs, he was already in the hallway. The next day, he attempted an escape from his crib. I know he would only try this when he was awake, and left to fuss, so as a temporarily solution, I hid one of Otto’s old bed’s under his crib, and we pulled it out at naptime and bedtime… just in case he fell out, he would have a soft landing.

Around this time, I also realized that I was probably making things worse by allowing A to come in our room at night. I will never be that mom that says our children have no place in our bed, because frankly, what is ours is theirs and there is nothing in the world like sleeping next to your little baby. Nothing.

BUT, I needed to start helping A make better sleep habits.

A discovered the dog’s bed peeking out from his crib one day at naptime, and asked me to pull it out. So I did. And? He grabbed his pillow and lovies and fell asleep on it. In under 2 minutes. So I let him stay there. Instead of fighting his nap (like he always had), he just curled up and went to sleep. This went on for a few weeks… 

By this point I had made it  a real “bed”. It has a sheet, and a pillow, and a blanket. It has bolsters on 3.5 sides, and frankly, doesn’t look much different than the blow-up toddlers beds I have seen on Amazon.



Not that I feel I have to justify my decision, but Otto basically slept on this bed a total of 10 times since we bought it for him. In fact, this dog bed was more expensive than A’s crib mattress (which, maybe explains why he sleeps better on it!).

While I was home over the holidays, A and I did “One Nap Bootcamp” – my own, completely made-up, could-totally-fail, 10-day course in getting him down to 1 nap, and sleeping through the night. On the dog bed. If it worked, we would transition him to a toddler bed. If it didn’t, well, I resigned myself that I’m just going to be tired and that I’m not telling anyone, ever again, that my kid doesn’t sleep through the night. Because I’m SO over the crazy looks and the “have you tried/you have to/it’s because” explanations everyone has given me the last 20 months.

The first few nights, A was up at least once, maybe twice, but each time I’d go in his room and ask him to lay back down, and he did. Sometimes I would fall asleep too, but I tried really hard to only stay for 10-15 minutes, and then once he was asleep, I would leave. If he woke up at 6, I would bring him in bed with me, and we’d both sleep until 8 or 8:30. This was BLISS.

Last week, we decided to tweak a few things. I realize what I’m about to say makes me sound like some superstitious athlete (which I was), but we decided to try a few small things just to see what happened, and this is what we stuck with after his first night of sleeping 9-6:30, in his room... In the dog bed.

• Only cotton jammies – no more fleece
• Warm milk before bedtime
Positive reinforcement before he closes his eyes*
• Raising the temperate 1 degree in his room

We’ve now had 8 wonderful nights of our little guy, happily asking to go to sleep, and staying in his room until anytime between 7 – 8:30 in the morning. Once in a while I will have to go in and tell him to lay back down, but he falls back asleep quickly and stays asleep. OHMYGOD!

We are giving A one more week of the dog’s bed, before we transition him to a (real) mattress on the floor. We’ve learned our lesson, and are letting him try a soft mattress that we already have in the house, before we buy one. If that works, in February he will move to his twin bed (still in his room), and sometime this summer we’ll move him into his “big boy room”.

Of course, now that I have “big boy room” on the brain, I’ve been on the hunt for some inspiration. I'll be sharing his new room inspiration soon!

If you are reading this and your baby or toddler doesn’t sleep through the night – you are not alone, and you are NOT crazy. Do whatever works for you, and if that means you need to buy a dog bed from L.L. Bean, you have my  support.


*This idea came from the book, Moms on Call – Toddler Edition, which I will review next week


{Project Playroom}: Part II / Inspiration

As I shared on Monday, we've started working on our big playroom makeover. Our goal is to have this room function as a playroom, office & guest room - on a budget.

Of course, once we decided this was going to be our next project, I turned to Pinterest for some ideas. You can see the whole board, here, but here are some of my favorites.

Source: bhg.com via Jillian on Pinterest

And finally, here is the mood board I created to keep me on track when shopping for this room. Some of the items you see we already own, but I wanted to make sure they would still work in the new space.

I hope to be back next week sharing some of the progress we've made!

Linking up with Debbie Doo's!


Long Overdue Christmas House Tour

I know, I know. I'm SO late. What can I say? I was busy enjoying the holidays!

So without further ado, our Christmas Home Tour!

All the decorations came down this past weekend, and I have to say, I'm loving the extra space back in my living room! I love having them all up, but after the 1st, I'm ready for them to be away.

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Mommy & Me

Posting for no other reason than to share this picture of my wild monkey & me. I was so desperate to get him to stay still for a nano-second, so that we could get one non-iPhone picture during my 10 days off with him... no such luck.

But I love him anyways!

Linking up with Emily for Mommy & Me Mondays.

{Project Playroom}: Part I / Current Playroom

Hi friends!

Welcome to our newest project - Project Playroom!

When we first looked at our home in 2008, the bonus room was a huge selling point. Without a basement, we knew we would need all the extra storage we could get, and this room kind of sold us on the house. Not many split-level homes have this extra space on the 4th floor, so we knew how lucky we were!

Unfortunately I don't have a "before" picture, but suffice it to say this room was a mess. Faux wood paneling, a moss green Berber carpet that had definitely seen better days, and years worth of dust & dirt in every corner. For 2 years, this room served as our attic, until little A (Baby P back then) was about to make his entrance. This room was the last big project before our little guy was born, and we're so SO thankful to have this usable, extra space in our home.

Here is our extra space looks today: part guest room, part playroom, part office, part storage.

I'll be sharing our home goals soon, but we have some big plans for this room in the new year!

Our goal is to turn this space into a true playroom for our little guy, and a permanent office for both me & C. While our office needs are different, we thought it would be best to share this space. I currently work at small desk in our guestroom, and it truly is perfect for me. But since we hope to turn that room into another nursery (one day!), we figured it would be easier to make the transition now while we are reworking the space upstairs. This space will also continue to function as a guest room, since much of our family, and almost all of our friends, live out of town.

Here is our project list - we can't wait to get started!

• find a new, plush (kid-friendly) rug
• add an additional large basket for toy storage
• replace blue bins on 2nd shelf
• child proof TV with anti-tip brackets
• create an art area (maybe a chalkboard & a rotating gallery for A's artwork)
• add a gate at the top of the stairs
• find a way to keep toys organized, and easy-to-find

• create/build a two-person desk in the dormer
• add shelving for storage
• make a functional/fun message station for reminders & invitations
• find 2 desk chairs
• create a functional filing system for household paperwork

Guest Space:
• add wall-mounted sconces near the bed
• update bedding
• add throw pillows along wall

• add/make window treatments
• build a closet door for small storage space
• add a closet rod to small space for off-season jackets
• add artwork to stairway

I'll be sharing my Pinterest inspiration & a mood board, soon. Seeing it makes me even more excited about this space!


Twenty Thirteen Resolutions

I love all that a new year brings. The hope and promise of new beginnings and a clean slate. The opportunity to re-prioritize and reflect, and choose what to focus on for the next 365 days.


I’ve already mentioned it in my 2012 Resolution Recap, but I love resolutions. It appeals to the list-maker in me, and I love having something to reference to keep myself accountable. Last year I kept my resolutions in a little notebook I carry all the time, and I truly believe it helped me stay on track for the year.

1) Learn to sew, apply eye makeup, and check my tire pressure 
Sewing is something I’ve always wanted to learn, and I’m looking forward to working on some projects I’ve been dreaming up. Applying my eye makeup is something I’ve always struggled with. I wear the same colors every day, and rush to apply my mascara as I’m waiting for the train to pull into the station each morning. I’d love to learn a new day and night look that I can do easily and that makes me look like I’m actually sleeping through the night ;) And checking my tire pressure is just something I need to learn to do. End of story!

2) Lose 5 more pounds
I was able to get back to my pre-baby weight in 2012, but that is still 5 pounds heavier than I was when we got married. I don’t feel like I have to fit into any particular size, but I remember how great I felt about my body 3 years ago, and would love to feel that way again.

4) Continue to read one book a month
Because I commute to work, this is pretty easy for me to accomplish. I loved reading one book (sometimes 2!) a month last year, and look forward to finding some new favorites again in 2013. I’ve already started my book for January, and will share it as soon as I’m done!

5) Learn to photograph in manual
Something I wanted to learn last year, but didn’t. I know learning this could really help my photography (of both my family & my home), and I’m excited to challenge myself in this way. Santa was very generous this year, and brought me a new camera lens & tripod, so now I have no excuse to not work on my photography skills!

6)  Continue to grow my business
Staring my business last year was one of the hardest, but most rewarding, things I have ever done. I’m excited to work on some new projects I’ve been thinking of, and to see how far this dream can go.

7)  Cook one meal a month
We all know that I’m not the cook in the house. I have a wonderful, handsome husband who also happens to be one of the best cooks I know. Many people are shocked that I don’t cook, but frankly, I don’t have time. If I cooked, we wouldn’t eat dinner until 8:00 every night, and well… that’s not feasible. I do however, want to learn to make more than scrambled eggs and my token salmon in puff pastry.

8) Less Internet & Social Media
I had planned for this to be a resolution for months, and then on New Year’s Day, I accidentally left my phone at home while we were with my family. It was so liberating to not have something to check out of habit, and just BE. I use my train ride to catch up on my blogs, and I don’t feel that time takes away from being with my family. But when I’m home, I’m guilty of checking social media while A is playing away on the floor. I want to be more present, and putting my phone away is the best way to do that.

9) Be more green
While I made a lot of strides in 2012, I am still guilty of being lazy when it comes to some things. This year, I want to use less plastic (specifically water bottles) move all of my magazine subscriptions to our iPad, and actually remember my reusable bags when I go to the grocery store.

10) POML (Project Organize My Life)
This deserves its own post, so I won’t go into too much detail now. But I’d like to continue setting monthly goals for getting our home organized, and creating more attainable routines. From cleaning, to managing our pictures, and organizing our recipes, I want to simply.

11) Take some time for ME
I think it is natural for moms to always put themselves last, but I do need to start taking a little bit better care of myself. You know... all the good things: drink more water and less coffee, get out for more walks, take my vitamins & get a little more sleep. Pray more when I need some grounding, and find more time for a glass of wine or a phone call with my friends.

Looking forward to the new year, and all that it brings!


Happy New Year & 2012 Resolutions

Happy New Year, friends!

I had the BEST 10 days off, and spent some much needed quality time with my boys. A and I had so much fun being home together, and tried to fit in as much playtime as we could. It's going to be hard to leave him tomorrow morning! How could you not love this face?!

The last few years, I feel like the new trend in blog-land is to not make new years resolutions. And while that may be for some, I love making resolutions. I'm a Virgo, through and through, and lists & goals keep me centered. Before I make my resolutions for the new year, I love looking back to see how I did the year prior. I don't ever beat myself up over not meeting any of my goals for the year, but making progress on all some of them does give me a great sense of accomplishment.

2012 Resolutions

• Get back to my pre-baby weight
I'm happy to say that this summer, I was finally back to my pre-baby weight. I earned every pound of the 29 I gained with A in 2011, and was blessed with a wonderful pregnancy and a very healthy 7 pound, 15 ounce baby boy. A was just around 16 months when I met that goal, and it honestly felt great. My body has certainly changed since having a baby, and I now seem to be a size larger in most brands, but I'm OK with that.

• Read one book a month for the entire year
This was such a great resolution, because it forced me to pick up my Kindle on a regular basis. In the past, I had a tendency to read in spurts, only to not read again for months. You can read all about the 18 books I read here, and plan to continue this resolution next year, too!

• Learn to use my DSLR
Ahhh - this goal I didn't do so great in. I'm guilty of always shooting in auto, because it is easy and my pictures seem to come out pretty good. Next year I plan to make this goal more specific, and try to learn to shoot in manual

• Launch Bella Carta Boutique Website & grow business
Complete! I plan to do a separate post all about this, but launching my business this year was one of my proudest moments. I am also happy to share that between Etsy and private orders, we had an extremely successful holiday season. It was full of stress & late nights, and lots of growing pains, but I wouldn't have it any other way! You can read all about the Etsy launch here!

• Start a blog
Pretty obvious, but yes, I started this blog. The amount of time and organization that it takes to manage a blog was definitely a shock at first, but I feel like after 5 months I am in a little bit of a groove. I don't feel the same pressure I did at first, to post every day... 3 times a week seems to be manageable for me, and I love that the blog keeps me accountable for my projects. Starting a blog was a dream of mine for many years, so I'm thrilled to have finally accomplished this 2012.

• Become a little more "green"
This resolution was pretty vague, but I do feel like I've done a pretty good job with this. C and I are both extremely environmentally conscious, both in our home and in our lives, and have really made this a priority. This year, I made my own homemade cleaners, was able to significantly reduce our junk mail by discontinuing many catalogs we receive each week. I started (but didn't finish) to create a way to manage Bella Carta's accounting all online, so that I can avoid printing out receipts & invoices all the time.

• Project Organize My Life
This resolution deserves a whole post in of itself, but having a disorganized home kind of drives me crazy. It sounds ridiculously unattainable, but what I truly strive for is order in our everyday life, so we can spend more time doing the things we love. I hate that I have to do a huge purge of our linen closet or pantry 4 times a year (for an hour or more each time) - if it was all organized to begin with, it would never get to that state. Here are some of the things I set out to accomplish this year.

     - Organize our Photos: find online storage, organize pictures in folders on computer & get albums printed
     - Work on our Living Will: write & sign our will, choose guardians & executors of our estate
     - Create a filing system: mail, receipts, taxes, health insurance documents & Otto's vet information

I'm happy to say most of these things are done. I'll share more about each of them in a later post, but having each of these items taken care of has made so many things easier.

Phew! It's been a good year!

On a personal note, 2012 was all I could have imagined and more. We watched our little baby grow into a rambunctious toddler, and embraced the new family dynamic that came along with it. C and I feel more settled into our roles as parents, and have carved out some time for ourselves, too.  That's not to say that our year wasn't also full of challenges, but knowing that we've gotten through them all as a family has only made us stronger.

The last few weeks have been heart wrenching for me, personally, as I've struggled to find my 'normal' after the Sandy Hook shootings. I found it hard to not feel guilty during the holidays, as so many families were still grieving for their babies. All of this has made me slow down a bit, and just soak in every moment I can. I've never been one to take anything for granted - I know my life, and my family, are all enormous blessings - but this holiday season I savoured it all a little bit more. I've made it my own personal vow to turn off the tv / put away my phone / get off the computer more often, and just BE. Be a mom, be a wife, a daughter, a friend... because those are the things that matter. My resolutions? They are important (to me), but never more important than my family.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your families! Here's to a healthy & happy new year!