One Man's Trash....

....is a crazy/hormonal pregnant woman's treasure!!  But before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you the story.  So, this past weekend I was on a routine trip to the "transfer station" (apparently my town is a little too proud to call it like it is....a DUMP) when I decided to take a quick peek at the swap area.  One of my neighbors clued me in on this when we first moved in and I can't tell you how excited I was.  The point of the swap is to leave your unwanted items (ones that you can't justify throwing out or don't want to bother selling, but just can't find a place for) so that someone else can use them.  It's like a free craigslist!!  The best part being that you never know what you might find.  So instead of sending B solo to take the trash out on Saturdays, I make it a point to volunteer my services or offer to join and "help out"!  And every time, I glance over at the swap area to see if there are any goodies left to be had.  Well, I lucked out on Saturday because this beauty was just sitting there waiting for me.

Look at her curves and the beautiful finish.  Oooh.  It was love at first sight.....and not just because she was free.  She was in PERFECT condition.  There were literally no scratches, dents or broken parts to be found on the entire piece.  I'm not even sure there is a piece of furniture in my house that I can say that about at the moment.  But back to the story......so, it just so happens that I was in the market for a piece of furniture in the corner of my living room (where the xmas tree was).  I have been looking on craigslist and stopping at yard sales recently but nothing was catching my eye.....until that day!!  I spent a few seconds wondering why someone would give up such a lovely thing and thinking about what it was used for in its past life, but then I quickly snapped out of it and realized I better act fast!  I scanned around to see if anyone else was eyeing it before I made a mad dash over to claim my prize (and by mad dash I mean that I went a little faster than I normally go.....my dashing skills are a little on the slow side these days)!  And thankfully it wasn't heavy (since we both know that I wasn't leaving that place without it), the only problem was that it's not very easy to carry anything when you're pregnant, so I caught a few people watching me out of the corner of their eyes thinking, "hmm...maybe it smells like candy and pickles because she is REALLY excited about it?"  I was a woman on a mission and I wasn't going to stop until this thing was safely locked in my trunk!! 

And that brings me to my next point.  Since its a free-for-all, there are literally "vulchers" circling the place on a daily basis just waiting for the right piece to come along.  I recognized a few people that I've seen there every time that I go (which is usually around 10 am on Saturday mornings).  Either we are on the same schedule or they are just ALWAYS there waiting for the right moment to swoop in.  They are probably thinking the same thing about me though....haha!  It's not a bad hobby though.  I'm sure if someone had the time and the talent, it would be a lucrative business to pick up free unwanted pieces, fix them up, and sell them for a pretty penny on craigslist.  Hm....wheels turning.....

So, that is my treasure story from the weekend.  I have starting moving things around to see what I can put on her.  I will be back on Monday to share an update on the living room.  Can't wait to redecorate!!!

Also, in other news, we picked up some patio furniture this past weekend as well.  I am still looking for some cushions and an umbrella, but hopefully we will tackle that project as well this weekend and I can report back next week.  Stay tuned!


To Stain or Not To Stain....

Ever since we completed our deck in November (read more about that here), we have been debating whether to stain it or seal it.  At first, I was in the "seal" camp and B was in the "stain" camp.  My opinion was mostly based on the fact that I'd heard/read that sealing it would last longer than stain (AKA less work for us down the road).  But after doing more research and reading up on consumer reports, I found that if you use a good brand, let it dry properly and maintain it each year with a light coat, then stain is just as easy as sealer.  PLUS, in my opinion anyway, stain looks so much better than a simple sealer coat....especially on pressure-treated wood.  If we had done mahogany or cherry, then we would probably lean more towards sealer to capture the beauty of the wood, but PT is just not a beautiful wood.

So......we stained it this past weekend!!!!  YAY!  And when I say "we" I mean B and my dad.  I ran back and forth to the store to pick up the paint (and back and forth to pick up more....and so on)....but I didn't really participate in the paint/stain part of the project.  I'm not going to lie to you, it took them most of the weekend to do it all, but it looks great so I think it was well worth it!!  And I can say that because my back isn't still aching because of it! 

Before we went out to buy the stain though, we talked about what we wanted it to look like.  We are planning to paint the trim of our house white this summer (or next....let's be realistic), so we thought that it would be nice to reflect that on the deck as well.  So, we ultimately decided to go with solid white balusters and railings and a deep reddish brown semi-transparent stain for the floor.  The choice of the floor color came from the wood floors in our house.  Since the deck is really an extension of the kitchen, we thought it would be best to keep the wood colors consistent.  Here are some inspiration photos that caught our eye during the planning process:

Then, as usual, we shopped around a little for the best prices on some of the highest-rated brands (I read a lot of good reviews on Cabot and Sherwin Williams Deckscapes so we focused on those two).  Lowes carries Cabot so we went there first.  The stain was about $33/gallon for semi-transparent stain and $27/gallon for solid white stain (we would need about 3 gallons of each for the project, so we would be looking at about $180 total).  We grabbed them (Cordova Brown for the floor and White for the railings) before heading to Sherwin Williams (since they are pre-mixed colors they are fully returnable).  I fully assumed that Sherwin Williams would be more expensive, so I was banking on keeping the Cabot anyway.  But when we got to Sherwin Williams we found out that they were having a 40% off sale for the weekend on ALL paints and stains, including Deckscapes.  WOOHOO!  Both the solid color stain and the semi-transparent stain were regularly $37/gallon, but with the discount they were only $22/gallon!!  We scooped them up as fast as we could and returned the Cabot ones on the way back home!  AMAZING DEAL!!  So all in, the total was $132......we saved $48!!  It is still a lot of money for stain, but I love it when I can save a little here and there!  It makes it all worthwhile.

For the Sherwin Williams Deckscapes brand, they are only available in custom-mixed colors, so they are non-returnable, but since I knew this was the best deal around I didn't mind snatching up a few gallons.  I chose Riverwood for the semi-transparent color on the flooring and Extra White for the solid color on the railings.  I walked away from the store with only 2 gallons of each (since I wasn't sure how far it would get us and didn't want to waste a gallon if we didn't need it.  Turns out, we ended up needing 3 gallons of each, but since the store isn't far from the house, I didn't mind running back out for it later in the day (especially since I wasn't the one doing the back-breaking work)!!!  The store manager recommended 3 gallons of each to me when I told him that we had about 340 sq ft of deck, but I didn't listen.  Next time, I will trust that he probably knows a little more about this than I do!  Haha!

So, this is what the deck looked like last week (on a rainy day, unfortunately):

And this is what it looks like now:

I am so happy with the way it turned out.  The guys had to do 2 full coats of the white (which is not fun when you are painting hundreds of thin balusters) and 2 full coats of the semi-transparent stain.  They used brushes for the railings and both a roller and a brush (to get in between the slats of wood) on the flooring. 

We considered doing the solid-colored stain for a few minutes, and then decided that we liked the idea of knots and grains showing through a little, so we opted for semi-transparent.  The guy at the Sherwin Williams store agreed that it would not only look nice, it would last a bit longer since you wouldn't notice the fading as much as you would with a solid stain.  We will still have to touch it up every year or every other year, but the big part is done so it will hopefully just be maintenance from now on.  I'll keep you posted on that next year though!

Next project on the list: PATIO FURNITURE!!!  I have been scouring craigslist for months and NADA, so I might end up with an inexpensive set from Home Depot or Lowe's.  I have seen BEAUTIFUL sets at Jordan's Furniture and some local seasonal stores, but a $2000 set is just not in the budget for us now.  My neighbor bought an $89 wrought iron table from HD last year and she said it has held up pretty well so far, so I might end up ultimately going that route.  I'll report back tomorrow though.  My dad is coming by to let me borrow his truck, so I'll let you know how it goes.

And as always, if anyone has recommendations for patio furniture that they've bought or that they have seen in catalogs, I'm all ears.  We aren't completely opposed to a teak or other wood material set, but I would RATHER not have to stain the deck and the furniture every year, so a composite or wrought iron would be my first choice.  Any thoughts or opinions on that are welcome too!!  Thanks guys!


Nursery Update #1

I'm not sure I've mentioned it before on this blog, but I LOVE craigslist.  It is the best online marketplace that I've ever seen.  Granted I've only bought and sold a handful of things over the years, but it has never failed me.  In fact, I am known to stalk it at least once a day to check out what's new in the area.  I treat it almost like Home Goods.  I rarely ever NEED to go there, but I always love browsing.  And its usually when I'm not looking for something specific that I run into an awesome accessory or piece of furniture (good for the home, not for the wallet).  So, when I'm browsing craigslist on a daily basis, its usually for things that I think I might WANT for the house someday, rather than things that I NEED.  This past weekend, however, I actually stumbled across something that I need.....or at least will need in a few months.......a glider/rocker for the nursery!  I've been eyeing them at Babies R' Us and Pottery Barn for the last few weeks and just couldn't bite the bullet and pay full price for one.  But, as usual, Craiglist came to the rescue!!!  A woman a few towns over from me was getting rid of hers to make more space in her daughters' toddler room and it was BARELY used.  Honestly, when I first checked it out in person, I could have sworn that she had never sat on it before!  It is this Pottery Barn Glider:

Same colors too: white on white (or rather ivory on ivory since PB's white is a little creamier than most).  And if you noticed on the PBK website linked above, these bad boys sell for $850 including glider, ottoman and cushions for both).  And that is if you just go with the basic fabric (which they rank as Grade A).  My new craigslist friend was asking $450 for the chair, but I offered $400 and she accepted!!!  YAY!!  Such a good deal.  I mean, I know that its still expensive for a chair, but I would totally put this in my bedroom when we no longer need it in the nursery (or any future nurseries).  It is a pretty versatile piece since its all white.  I don't like spending that much money on craigslist finds, but I made an exception for this baby (pun TOTALLY intended).  After looking at so many options (BuyBuyBaby, Overstock, Babies R' Us, etc) I found that most decent upholstered glider/rockers run upwards of $600 (and that is WITHOUT the ottoman most of the time).  So I went into this transaction knowing that although its a steep price to pay for a hand-me-down, it is a great deal for a brand-new-looking sturdy piece of furniture that will last us for years and years to come.  I had to think of it as an investment.  And also pitch it to B as that....haha.  He was actually REALLY happy that it was under $500.  I guess he heard a few of his friends talking about the ones they bought for their wives as push-presents (which is a topic for another day, I promise) and they were upwards of $1000.  So....needless to say, he was relieved when I told him about the deal!

Well, enough babbling about this deal and my love for craigslist.  Onto more important issues of the day.....nursery decor!  So, I've gone back and forth a few times with color schemes over the last few months but I think I've finally honed in on "the one".  My inspiration comes from the Graham Bedding Collection from Serena & Lily:

If you haven't checked out the website before, I highly suggest it.  The prices are high for most items, but everything is beautiful, and if nothing else, you can walk away with some great ideas.  I see it as a place that I can go to pick up one or two things and then build around it from cheaper items.  And that is exactly what I plan to do for this nursery.  So, as you can see, I've decided on navy blue (a little darker than chambray), light blue and yellow for the color scheme.  The Graham bedding collection is amazing, but its also $400 and that just isn't in the budget for our little one at the moment.  So, here's the plan:

(1) Buy the mosaic fabric that you see in the photo (yes, it is $40 a yard, but I only need 1...maybe 2 yards of it, so its not too bad) to make the crib skirt and maybe a pillow and some artwork.....my mom has agreed to help me do the crib skirt so I'm really excited to work on this project together!!!
(2) Purchase a bumper from here in the chambray stripe fabric (which matches the Graham fabric pretty well) - $25
(3) Find some white and yellow crib sheets to alternate based on my mood and to add a little pop of color here and there.
(4) And the final project involves making some pillows and bunting (to hang over the crib from one wall to the other in lieu of a mobile) out of scraps from each of these fabrics. 

What do you guys think??  Anyone made a crib skirt before or even a regular bed skirt??  If so, please share any thoughts or wisdom.  I would GREATLY appreciate it!!!

And here are some of the fabrics I picked up from IKEA that I will probably use for floor pillows and maybe even a band of fabric on the white curtains (Oh, and those are from IKEA too....the Ritva ones.....I have them all over my house and I LOVE them!!).  And you can get a peak of the chair in the crazy messy nursery that is going on right now! 

Oh, and I forgot the most important part:  I am having the nursery furniture professionally painted by this lovely woman that I found on......wait for it.......craigslist!  She is TOTALLY affordable and can do it in just a couple of weeks.  She is going to do a dresser (which I found on craigslist as well) and the crib (a convertible one that my brother and sister-in-law are GRACIOUSLY giving to us for free) in a white color that is TBD.  Speaking of white, I should do a whole post on how hard it is to choose white paint.  It is CRAZY how many options there are....but I digress.

Although I would love to tackle a project like this normally, I just don't think its a good idea to get into stripping, painting and applying poly at this point in my pregnancy.  We are using a no-VOC paint anyway (for both the walls and the furniture), so its really just the stripping stuff that makes me nervous.  And even if I were comfortable doing it myself (which some woman are, and I'm sure it is totally fine), I don't think my husband or parents would let me.  They have gotten to the point lately that they won't even let me bring the mail in for fear that I'll pull a muscle!  It's really sweet, but for someone that is used to tackling projects on her own, its a little debilitating.  I guess I should just sit back and relish the relaxation while it lasts though.....because it won't be like this much longer!! 


Attention Moms-to-be: AMAZING DEAL!!!!!

I was casually checking emails the other night (10:30 pm to be specific) and came across a daily update from babycenter.com (through one of their partners diapers.com).  If any of you moms-to-be aren't signed up for this yet, I highly recommend it.  Not only do you get information on promotions and sales, but you get weekly updates on the growth of you and your baby.  It's pretty cool. 

This specific email was offering an AMAZING deal though (click here to check it out).  Like, pinch yourself, to-good-to-be-true, deal!!  Prepare yourselves, people. Ok, here goes....if you buy a Britax B-Ready Stroller (which is $499.99.....yes, definitely expensive, but it can hold an infant carseat and then later convert to accommodate a second child....so you can use it for years and years) you get a Britax Chaperone infant car seat for FREE!!!!  The infant car seat goes for $229.99, so you are saving a TON of money!!!  Just enter BRITAXGIFT as the promo code at checkout and you are good to go!!

We definitely needed both of these items for Little B's arrival in August so it was a no brainer for us to jump on the deal.  And coincidentally enough, these two items were already listed on my registry.  I read countless reviews and safety reports on car seats and strollers over the last few weeks, and ultimately decided that Britax was right for our family.  For one, Britax has AMAZING safety ratings, and secondly, I have had a bunch of friends own them and rave about how easy they are to use.  If you are in the market for a stroller and an infant car seat, I HIGHLY recommend this deal!!!!  I can't provide a personal recommendation for the use of the product just yet, but I will DEFINITELY report back to you when we start using it in a few months.  I buy almost everything based on user reviews and recommendations.  A personal testimony of a product is so much more reassuring to me when I can't try it out for myself.   

Oh, and I almost forgot to share with you the best part......the fabric!!  I know all of you design-savvy people out there can appreciate this portion of the deal, even if you aren't expecting a child at the moment.  The stroller comes in a few standard colors....green, red, silver and black.  And although the car seats come in coordinating colors to match, they also offer a fabric called "cowmooflage".  Now, I'm definitely not normally an animal print fan, but for this....I couldn't resist!!!! 

How cute is that???  We got it in the mail yesterday (oh, and did I mention that the offer includes FREE SHIPPING as well!!!!  We ordered on Tuesday night and got it on Thursday!!!  Honestly, can it get any better than that??).

Ok, enough of  my ranting.  If you are in the market for these items, go check it out!!  If not, I apologize for the random product-related post but I couldn't resist sharing the deal with you!!

Happy Friday everyone!!