Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Baby Stuff...

I know..you're already sick of me talking about all the baby stuff going on around here...I promise though, we're near the end and I can start rewarding your patience with pictures of a real-life baby (soon)!  Until then, bear with a little while longer, we just have to make it through September!

I may have mentioned here (I know I whined about it on Facebook) that the car seat I was set on getting had become impossible to find now that we're close enough to our due date to pick one out.  Fact is, Babies 'R Us called it "last year's model" and quit carrying it!  Instead, they started carrying one with a flowery pattern on it and upped the already high price another $20!  They already wanted $20 more than Baby Depot was selling the exact same car seat for.  So, I put my name down on a "wait list" 2 weeks ago at Baby Depot.  Today when we got home from lunch, there was a message on our machine saying that our car seat had come in!  I rushed around the house looking for my 20% off coupon, but sadly, I have misplaced it and could not find it.  Instead, I cut out a 15% off coupon from this month's American Baby magazine and headed to the store.  A word to the wise...those coupons expired on August 26th!  I double checked the magazine I cut the coupon from...it's the August 2012 issue.  The store let me use it anyway though, so yeah on them.  I saved $12 on my car seat (and another $6.75 for being tax exempt), bring the price down to just under $68!  While my Mom was visiting, we picked up the matching stroller...I wasn't going to get a stroller, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted one.  Not just an umbrella stroller though, those are too close to the ground for me to use and they hurt my back (not to mention they are hard to maneuver), I wanted a jogging stroller for the easy turning and such!  Luckily, the car seat I love so much does come in a set...with a jogging stroller!  Of course, I could have just bought a set...but, those are $239.99 (even with a 15% off coupon, it would have been $203.99).  At Baby Depot, I had my choice of Magenta or bright Yellow in the sets.  I quickly priced the car seat and stroller separately ($79.99 and $99.99) and did a bit of math in my head (about $180 for all the same pieces) and decided to buy my pieces separately!

I kinda like the green better anyway...  And, as an added "bonus", I overheard someone complaining while I was paying for our car seat today that their set they had bought did not come with the car seat base that latches into the car!  When you buy the car seat alone, it comes with a base...not so in the case of buying the car seat and stroller apparently!  We'll be buying a second base for Garrick's car, but those are only $40 ($34 with a coupon) though.  Even with buying a second base, that means we will have spent $187 total on our "set"!  Go back up to that set price for the convenience of buying it all in one box...yup, I saved $17 on that price and would have had to buy two bases still (another $80)!

What I really like about having the "matching" stroller is that the car seat locks into it securely, there's no popping off with this guy!  I know, because I had a heck of a time getting them apart in the store!  It latches onto the stroller just like it latches onto the base in the car.  I can't wait to have the little man here and take this for a spin!

Today was my "work on the nursery" day...mostly because the 5.0.4 patch for World of Warcraft was this morning, so, no WoW today (servers are back up now though).  I started by attempting to clean off the top of the dresser (again)...this seems to be where we put stuff when we don't have a "home" for it when we go into the room.  Either there or in the crib (since it isn't being used yet)!  The latest additions to what is "living" up here are the lamp (though I think I mentioned it the other day), the little jar to the right of the lamp (a jelly jar with a ribbon I tied around it) that is holding our diaper pins (for the "old-style" cloth diapers we have), our only disposable diapers (6 newborn sized ones from my sister...depending on how big our little man is, we may end up having to use the newborn sized disposables until he "grows into" the clothies), a partial roll of cloth diaper liners (flushable, think TP for inside a cloth diaper), and to the left of the lamp, that basket is full of pacifiers and pacifier/toy holders!  The shiny thing in the back is a package of 6-month size pacifiers I got at Marshall's...they're Born Free brand (love that company).  I rolled the roller shade up a bit today, that's why the curtain looks so "bright" there.

Next up, I got all my one-size and size small diapers stuffed and ready to use!  The blue tub on the top shelf of the changing table has all the pre-stuffed small/OS diapers ready to use and within reach.  The clear tub (which has a blue lid that is now on it) is full of diapers in the Medium or Large size as well as all the "extra" liners.  I figure we may need to double up the liners for over night, but for now...each diaper got one microfiber "cleaning" cloth that was folded in half.  The bright blue and green ones in the clear tub are shaped like Swiffer pads (and are actually designed for use with a Swiffer), we'll see how they do though!  The other liners all came with the cloth diapers (save for the two at the bottom of the photo that my Mom made for us).  In the photo of the changing table, see the second blue tub, down a shelf?  That's got hats, bibs, and mittens in it!  The mittens may go somewhere else, but for now, it works.

I'm still working on getting all the clothes sorted...but with my Mom's help, we do have things "started" and semi-organized!  This is the top drawer of little man's dresser...it is full of onesies!  That's all that's in that drawer...this is what happens when you have 4 (he actually has 5) cousins, a second cousin who is less than a year older than you, and a Mom who loves to shop thrift/consignment shops!  Not only is it full...those are all size 0-3 months my friends!  I'm in the process of going through everything and pulling out what I don't "need" to give to another friend of my sister's who recently found out she is expecting her fourth child (and she got rid of everything after her #3).  I'm also being super picky and pulling out as much of the stained stuff as I can find (though a few things I'm keeping because they are so cute anyway).  I still need to sort the center and left piles into short-sleeve and long-sleeve as well.  The pile on the right is all the "use as an outer shirt" types onesies...

Then there's the closet!  I know I promised you a whole post just about the closet, but I'm too lazy and I really don't think you really want to read yet another whole post about a closet, do you?

First, how awesome does that look?!?  I want my own closet to look that "put together"...  But, this closet has a story...a story that starts with my Mom and I finding a set of ClosetMaid wire shelving closet organizer(s) on clearance for $19!  Keep in mind we also purchased a "as yet unrevealed" shelving system for $50.  Can we say woot?  But, not so fast...we thought we'd start by getting the closet organizer put up to help clear up some space, so we popped open the box only to discover why it was so deeply discounted...one of the post caps and all four post pieces were missing!  I tried for several days to get through on the customer service number included on the instructions...my call was less important than they claimed though...I never got through to anyone.  So, off to Home Depot and Lowe's we went in search of the support poles.  We did not find them though...what we did find was a whole lot spendier, but in the end, well worth the money in my opinion!  We ended up getting a shelf track (basically, you screw this to the wall the hang the uprights from it, ensuring everything is level), four upright pieces (each measuring 60-inches), and 8 shelf brackets (two for each shelf).  The three large shelves all have "clothing rods" built into them...not sturdy enough for adult sized clothes, at least not loaded down anyway, but perfect for little baby/kid stuff!  We also left the wooden shelf and clothing rod in the closet...this is totally mounted below that, adding to the storage space in the closet!  Currently, all the spare bed parts are up there though...the toddler rail pieces, pieces for converting the crib into a full-size frame, and all the leftover dresser pieces.  Also, a few toys that are "too old" for a baby...one that may or may not end up being a birthday/Christmas present for one of our nephews!

Talk about an organized space though...let me start in the top left and show you what I mean...empty hangers are on the old rod up there and on the shelf just behind them, a crib pad that Garrick's Mom crossed stitched!  I'm debating hanging it on a wall or using it...the size is a bit "off" for the crib, but I'll use it one way or another!  I think it would also make a great little "throw" for playing on the floor with.  Going to the right on that top shelf, is baby's bath supplies (wash cloths and then towels, with his hot water indicator ducky).  We ended up getting two of those duckies that say "HOT" on the bottom if the water's too hot...I had never seen that in ducky form before!  This one looks like a policeman, lol.  Hanging from that first shelf is all of little man's jackets and "outside" gear (he has 3 "snowsuits")!  The one on the farthest right is, of course, a terry cloth ducky "suit" that I believe is meant to put on after a bath...nephew #1 got a lot of use out of it when he was tiny!  Continuing across the top of the photo, we have more empty hangers (the ones my Mom crocheted for us), the sleep sacks (both are size small, but one is significantly larger), and behind that, hidden from view here, is our giant stack of homemade blankets!  You can see a tiny bit of bright red binding peeking out from under the sleep sacks...  The stack is being held on the shelf from the side by the diaper stacker we have in there...it was the diaper stacker my Mom got when I was born!  The diaper stacker itself is full of the "old-style" cloth diapers, or rather it was...I took two of the three packages downstairs today and just brought them up fresh out of their third time through a wash/dry cycle!  They are currently waiting to be folded (in the crib), but will be going back in the stacker along with the set I left in the package and the bunch of "plastic pants" I have in the bottom of the stacker...they look too big for use right now anyway.  I do have two diaper covers for use with this style diaper, but figure I'll save those for my use while Garrick is otherwise engaged and save him the "hassle" of learning to use them too (at least right off the bat).

Down to the short shelf...it is currently housing one of the "large" size tubs that matches the ones on the changing table, in this tub, I have crib sheets, a couple of the little plastic changing pads (for in a diaper bag), and on top of the sheets, sheet savers!  The sheet savers are plastic backed and go over your crib sheets to keep them dry in case of overnight leaks (of course, all the photos of these show them going under baby's head...but under their butt seems more useful to me).  We ended up getting three terry cloth ones (green, blue, and cream) on sale for $3.99  at BRU and one (not pictured) that is a dark brown faux-fur that I paid $4.49 for.  Down another shelf (and to the right), we have a stack of receiving blankets (some as old as me).  Both baskets on this shelf are ones that I made in my basket weaving class last year!  The one just to the right of the blankets is full of baby shoes (mostly size 2), while the melon basket is currently holding "odds and ends" that I'm not sure where to put just yet (including both bathroom travel kits my sister made...).  The clothing hanging from this shelf is all "sets" with the exception of three of them which are all "baby's first Christmas" stuff.

On the last shelf, the large tub is holding "lap pads" (waterproof flannel pads for use in keeping oneself dry should baby spring a leak), the other changing pad cover (I only got 2, those suckers are expensive, $9.50 each at WalMart, $18+ at BRU), our other sets of cloth wipes (we currently have 3 sets of 10 wipes), and both of our burp cloths (yes, we only have 2...one my Mom made that has a PUL backing to keep Dad clean once he has to go back to work and one I bought a few weeks ago that appears to be made out of a couple of printed cloth diapers, this one also has snaps so it can be used as a bib once baby is big enough to need a large bib and no burp cloth).  To the left of the tub, in the clear totes, is the diapering "bits" I talked about earlier, and above that is a tote full of socks!  The clear tote with the white lid is all clothes that are larger than 0-3 months (so, 3-6 months on up to 6-9 months).  And pay no attention to the wiring in the bottom of the closet...our WiFi is still coming from the connection there...Garrick needs to get that moved sooner rather than later...for now the router is sitting on an empty kitty litter tub just outside of the closet doors!

Well, I'm off to fold this lovely load of extra clean cloth diapers!  And don't worry..there was no fabric softener in that Downy Ball!  I use it to hold my White Vinegar (an excellent fabric softener)...baby's stuff doesn't get anything but Vinegar to help soften them...I do use homemade dryer sheets and Unstoppables (fragrance beads) in our clothes, but not for baby!

One last thing...we have a date set for our (my) C-section!  But, it's still not a "for sure" date, it will depend on the results of the amniocentesis the day before whether or not we have a "go" or a "wait a week and get steroid shots", so I won't close the voting just yet!  At our last ultrasound, little man is still measuring in the 92nd percentile for size and hasn't bothered to go head down at all...in fact, he has adopted a "stand up right" position!

August Catch-Up (Part 3)

This should be the end of the "catch up" and I can then move on to the really recent stuff!

Garrick and Wanda
At the beginning of the month, we traveled to the other side of Washington to hang out with some friends for a long weekend.  They had a big BBQ on Saturday that included the yummiest pulled Pork I can imagine ever having!  Even without the sauce, I could have eaten all of it!  It was a potluck and there was a ton of yummy food (I should know, I sampled each and every dish)...we "brought" a watermelon, lol.  While we were visiting, I got to go to an Oyster farm...not something I've ever had the opportunity to do before and pretty interesting for a chicken "farmer" who buys her shells pre-crushed for $0.58 a pound...they had huge piles of shells just lying about!  Of course, I'm sure they probably sell those huge piles to someone who then crushes them and then sells them to people like me, but I digress.
Mike Rowe holding a Geoduck.
I'm told that the oyster farm we went to is owned by the same company as the one that was on Dirty Jobs, when Mike Rowe went Geoduck farming (season 1, episode 28 if you want to go looking it up).  We did not go to the one in the show...but the same guy owns both farms.  Anywho, long story "short", I got to see a real "live" Geoduck (pronounced gooey duck)!  At least, the sign on it said "live", but since it was sitting up on ice, I'm fairly certain that one was no longer among the living...

It was a fun-filled weekend getting to see several friends that live all over the western side of Oregon and Washington (that we almost never get to see)!  It also included a trip to Mallard's ice cream parlor...a local shop that was serving the best Licorice Ice Cream I think I've ever had!  It is certainly a flavor that is very hard to perfect...they did it perfectly!

Michael and I

Did I mention we also met Kevin Smith?  Well, we didn't...that's our friend Michael!  It sorta doesn't show very well in the photos we snapped over breakfast Monday morning before we headed home...but he totally looks like Silent Bob!  You really should see him with a hat on...oddly enough, he has a friend that looks just like "Jay" too...it's kinda freaky.

By the time we got home again, I had a tomato "explosion" going on the plant Garrick bought me (that his co-worker started in her greenhouse..I really need to get one of those built)!  It is still the only plant I've been able to harvest this summer, but my "Red Patio" is currently working on about 6 tomatoes that are getting big(ger), but still very much green.  The ripe tomatoes here are all about half the size of a ping pong ball or smaller, but they taste so good!

Ironing Nursery curtains...
And now, we're back to what I've been up to for the last few weeks...I mentioned in my first "catch up" post that I had made the curtains (and the quilt, my Mom made the crib sheet) for the nursery...here's the proof!  Don't mind the tacky "wife beater" I have on...I was still in my pajamas in this one.  If you look really closely, you can see my slippers too, lol.  I still need to get a pillow case made, but have been busy trying to get baby's room organized and everything put away...so it's still waiting on me to get to sewing!  Maybe tomorrow...

Garrick's pillow case
I also had to pause in the baby sewing to make a little something for Garrick.  He wanted a more "fitted" pillow case for his contoured "neck roll" pillow he picked out when we bought our new bed.  A regular pillow case was just too big for it!  So, I dug through my fabric stash and came up with a chunk of bright green fabric that looked large enough to work and make a simple pillow case out of.  After laying it out over/around the pillow in question, I quickly hemmed the shorter sides of the fabric (in this case, the long direction of the actual pillow).  Then, I laid it back over the pillow and decided a 5-inch over lap of the hemmed ends would make it fit over the pillow easily, yet be tight enough to stay put in use.  I measured both sides and pinned the raw edges, then I quickly stitched both sides closed, making a sham-style pillow opening in the back.  I turned everything right side out and popped the pillow in!  As it turned out, the pillow case was about 5-inches too wide.  That was easily fixed though.  With the pillow case turned right side out, I ironed it and then set the pillow on top is I could get some actual measurements...the tallest part of the side of the pillow is 4-inches, I had 9 inches of fabric "too much" beyond the pillow.  So, I took my 9-inches, subtracted 4 for the sides, and then divided by 2.  I then pinned and sewed a decorative stitch down both sides of the pillow case at roughly 2.5-inches (I think it was more like 2.25-inches).  I think it gives the whole pillow a more "finished" look and it also pulled the pillow case tight enough on the pillow to work perfectly for my picky sleeper!  I also have the same fabric print in red...but he's gonna have to wait a little while for that one to get made.

 This past weekend, nothing got done in the house!  But, we had a very good reason...Garrick's childhood friend got married!  Garrick always looks so good in a tux...this is the third one I've had the pleasure of seeing him in since we've been dating.  Luckily, I paid attention at his last fittings...the groom, Louie, picked up all of the tuxes and then I had to help Garrick get truly "fitted" into this one!  Nothing huge, just adjusting the tie (a clippy thing that holds it around your neck), cinching the back of the vest, doing the zip tie thingies that make the pants fit right, and putting the cuff links on the shirt properly.

I also ended up trying on about 6 dresses before I settled on the long orange-colored one (pictured above) that I got at Fashion Bug several months ago.  I actually bought two dresses specifically for this wedding, but, I got them a month ago and by last weekend, I had so much "belly" that they are now too short!  Even luckier, the shoes that I ran out early Saturday morning to give one of the new dresses a splash of color (they're both black) match the bright colored dress I wore!  They're just a pair of flats with a peep-toe and some matching flowers on the toe.  I even bought a new necklace to help liven up the black...it worked great too!  I also got myself a pair of maternity nylons...what that really translates into is "nylons that will not stay up because the top is so freaking loose".  I put an entire hand through them trying to pull them up in the ladies restroom before the wedding even started...they went in the trash when I got home!  We had a great time though...so glad I got to be a part of it.

Which brings us to "current"!  Phew...I didn't think we'd ever get here, did you?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August Catch-Up (Part2)

Food!  I know I've strayed way away from anything "food" related in the last several months...partly because I just don't have the energy to really "cook" or "create", but also because we aren't low-carbing right now.

I did have a thought a few weeks ago.  I love my coffee...decaf, regular, whatever, I love it.  What I don't find particularly appealing with each and every cup is mixing my flavoring and cream in...I know, I'm lazy like that.  So, my idea?  Well, I haven't done it much, but I have twice bought pre-made creamer (the flavored kind) since I got pregnant.  Most recently, I got a small bottle of Peppermint (my fave)...as I was finishing the bottle off, I mused about how nice it would be if I had a low-carb version!  So I did what any lazy low-carber worth a grain of salt would do...I washed the jug out and removed the label!  Then, I left it sitting on my counter for several weeks (we're talking like a month or better).  But, today while making dog food, I finally had all the necessary parts to give my recipe thoughts a whirl!

I started with what I had left in a pint of Heavy cream (a whopping 3 ounces, or 5 Tablespoons), I used a small funnel to get it into my bottle, but if you trust your pouring skills better, you can skip the funnel.  I then added 4 ounces of Half & Half (6 Tablespoons) and 1.5 ounces of Butterscotch DaVinci's Coffee Flavoring.  You can use more or less flavoring, this is just where I liked this particular flavor...I didn't want it too strong or sweet.  With my measurements, it actually half-filled my little creamer jug, so I think I can safely double the recipe for a full bottle.  For a creamier creamer...add more heavy cream and less half & half.

As I mentioned before, it's dog food making day!  I usually get 13 or 14 bags of food out of a batch, or 6 to 7 days worth of food for our old dog.  She's also been getting a can of "puppy" food for lunch each day to help add calories that she was missing out on (to help keep her weight up since she has lost all she can "afford" to), for that, she gets canned food that we buy at the store...it was easier than trying to figure out what to add to her food and it was recommended by her vet's office.

Today's batch started like any other batch of food...rice in the rice cooker, followed by 3 bags of frozen vegetables on top in the steamer basket!  A few weeks ago, I upgraded her "dog food making apparatus" to a 28-cup rice cooker I picked up at Ross' for just $30!  It has cut the time it takes to make the dog's food to about one-third the time it used to take!  Today, I started with 7 scoops of rice (14 cups once cooked).  Once the water was added, I topped the cooker with the steamer basket that came with it (I skipped the divider today) and tossed in a bag of Carrot rings, a bag of Broccoli cuts, and topped the whole thing with a bag of French cut Green Beans!  Then, I popped the lid on and set the cooker to go...easy!  I then talked Garrick into cooking the 2 pounds of Hamburger for me...I just can't stomach the smell of cooking hamburger!  Once it was cooked, I added a 3 cup container of Chicken stock (it had gone passed it's sell by date) and a bag of pasta from a very old Hamburger Helper that I threw the rest of in the trash (saved just the pasta).  Then, I realized the pan we were cooking in was too small for everything and dumped the whole thing into the big "dog pot".  I made the low-carb creamer while the pasta boiled with the meat and stock (and an additional 6 cups of hot water) for a few minutes, until the pasta was cooked.  Then, I took the pot off the heat, or rather, turned the heat off, and started adding in the vegetables and cooked rice.  I love how vibrant the color stays when I steam the veggies rather than boiling them!  At this point, the whole thing needs to cool for several hours (which it is still doing).  Once cooled, I'll add the yogurt (and any other "cold" items).

For today's batch, I have yogurt "mix-in's" in the form of two extremely overripe bananas and three "well beyond people consumption" apples.  I used a whisk to break up the bananas and get them incorporated into the yogurt (just over a quart today to use up what I had left in the fridge).  Then, I diced the apples up really small!  I didn't bother coring the apples, I just diced them up and picked out seeds if I saw them.  Apples and bananas are two of Rosie's favorite "treats", so this is a special treat for her and she knows it's there!  She spent the time it took me to dice the apples up at my feet catching tiny bits of apple when they happened to fall off the cutting board!  After a good mix, I put the whole thing back in the fridge to wait for the rest of the food to cool. 

In a while, I'll mix the cold and cooled portions together and start bagging...this is the messiest and most time consuming step of them all!  We portion roughly 2-cups into Ziploc sandwich bags for easy to control meal sizes, then we seal all the bags, removing most of the air.  The bottom drawer in our refrigerator is now home to the dog's food...it generally takes up the whole drawer!  She appreciates the food and I really appreciate knowing what I'm feeding her!  Also...there is an added benefit to not giving her all that corn "filler", smaller poops that generally "wash away" with a good hosing!  She still has a few "monsters" because of the puppy food, but in general, her piles don't take up large portions of the yard anymore...bonus!

August Catch-Up (Part 1)

What Garrick was looking at...
...What I was looking at!
Towards the beginning of the month (the second week of it anyway), Garrick went on a business trip to Washington, D.C. (I "got" to stay home).  He sent me a few photos of his tourist-ing while I was busily trying to get our nursery ready for the newest member of our little family, with the help of my Mother (and even a little help from our 6-year-old nephew who was also visiting).  He sent me that first photo in the top left...so, I sent him a photo of what I was doing!  I think he had a much better "view", ha!  But, after getting an extremely large bookcase emptied (nephew took boxes of books downstairs and loaded two of the giant sized Rubbermaid totes with books from the one bookcase), and all those totes and boxes and computer parts (there are four old, currently unused, computer "brains" and a busted monitor in that pile) moved out of what used to be Garrick's office...we had an empty room that we can now call a nursery!
The nursery!
Now for the really fun part...putting together all that baby furniture...ugh!  We started with the crib, because that's where the directions started.  I highly dislike Allen wrenches...it took several hours to get the crib "mostly" put together, with little to no effort (as far as parts not fitting and what not)...except for the fact that my thumbs and forefingers were killing me after hours of using the silly "wrench"! 

After we gave up on the crib (it was put together but nothing was tightened), we moved on to the changing table.  Here was our first big "we're never going to get this done" moment!  When we went to put the shelving bottoms on (the part you actually put stuff on), they didn't line up with the grooves in the cross beams!  We tried swapping them, we tried turning them over...nothing worked!  It was also getting late and none of us had eaten in about 8 hours, so we called it "break time" and went to get a late dinner.  Our break extended into bedtime and the next morning, we woke up with a solution!  We flipped over the piece that wasn't lining up and suddenly, it all went together like it was supposed to all along!

Last, but not least, we had the dresser to get put together...  We started with the drawers (again, because that's what the directions said to do...don't start with the drawers...) and upon trying to get the very first drawer put together...discovered that all the side pieces (the sides of each drawer) were warped so badly that they pulled against the screws and stripped the screw holes!  This would be the last thing we had to put together...I was dreading having to take the entire set apart to return it!  We had just spent the better part of 2 days putting it all together!  But, I loaded up all the dresser pieces and headed to Burlington Coat Factory (Baby Depot) where we purchased the set.  All I can say is that I absolutely love their customer service!  The cashier asked us to bring in the entire dresser, so I assumed we were going to get a new dresser box, but what the guy in the baby department did was bring us all the parts we were missing (the top piece in the back was missing) and all the spare parts he had for dressers!  He ended up giving us enough spare parts to make an entire spare drawer (minus the bottom of the drawer).  His side boards were all a little warped too, so he helped us pick the straightest boards and then gave us a few extra because he didn't have enough of one side (left or right) that would work, but it was really easy for me to move the drawer stop from one end to the other and make it work.  However, when we did get it home...I put the dresser together before the drawers so that I had somewhere to go with the drawers as we got them built!

Also, while we were at Burlington, a lady with twins had bought new car seats...I saw her putting them in her car when we got there.  When we came out to retrieve the dresser parts, she was gone and had left the old car seats (and all the garbage from the new ones) sitting in the parking lot!  I had my Mom go grab the car seats and bases...I plan to wash them up (the stink from spilled milk and such) and take them to a consignment shop or possibly use them as a trade-in for a discount at Babies 'R Us (25% off a new car seat when you bring in an old one, no matter the condition).  Either way...free car seats!

The furniture set also came with a hamper (wooden frame with a canvas bag) that is supposed to go under the changing table, but with how we have the furniture set up currently, it covers the heat vent and impedes air flow in the room.  I'm not sure where I'll end up keeping the hamper, but for now, it is next to the crib, in a corner, and a big basket my sister gave me (that just happens to match the furniture perfectly) is under the changing table, full of bibs and other tidbits that don't have a proper "home" yet filling it!  Also shown above...the quilt I've been working on!  I ended up putting a lighter blue flannel on the back (and using a lower loft batting in it than I planned on) and quilted it "in the ditch" following the long sewing lines.  We left it long so it can be tucked in while on a toddler bed (or in the crib) and once he grows into a bigger bed (the crib can be converted into a Full-size bed frame), it can go across the foot of the bed or used on a couch or something.  I liked the colors so much, that I decided to make a whole "nursery set" out of it!  The curtains were actually pretty easy to make too...I sewed fat quarters together (long side to long side and short side to short side) to make two panels, which later became the two curtains.  Then, we had to go shopping for a backing that looked decent with the colors (and get enough to make a matching crib sheet too).  The next step required that we actually make the crib sheet next. 

The pattern my Mom has been using for crib sheets (I now have four sheets and I believe each of my sister's two youngest have a sheet as well) is 44-45" fabric, cut at 70-inches.  Cutting 8-3/4" squares out of the corner (got bigger if you don't pre-wash the fabric) and sewing french seams leaves a nicely finished corner seam at each corner!  To finish the sheet, double fold your raw edge to create a 1/4 to 1/2-inch seam (depending on your elastic), we used 1/4-inch elastic, so that's the size seam we used as well.  Don't forget to leave yourself an opening to feed your elastic in through!  Cut a 90-inch piece of braided elastic (if you buy the little packets in the fabric store or WalMart that are 3 yards, just cut off 18 inches and you're set) and feed it through the opening.  I put a safety pin in both ends, one to use to feed it through and the other to keep the elastic from getting lost inside!  Stitch the elastic together (I usually zig-zag mine, my Mom straight stitches her's together) and stitch your opening shut (if needed, you can also just make the opening super tiny to begin with and then just ignore it after you feed in the elastic, this is handy if the elastic needs replacing, but it's up to you.

To finish up the curtains, we took what was left of the sheet fabric (we bought 5 yards, plus 2 inches), folded it in half long-wise and cut to make two pieces that were each 45" wide by whatever was there (I didn't measure).  I then centered the backing vertically with the fat quarter panels I had already made and sewed both side seams.  I then ironed the seams open and turned the whole thing right side out (creating approximately a 2" border using the backing fabric), centering the fabric once more and ironing flat.  To make the rod pockets, I first stitched the seams at all four ends were the backing and been sewn to the front panels, so that the rods wouldn't catch in the wrong area of the pocket.  Then, I measured how much backing I had beyond the front panel and divided by 2, allowing for an extra fold to make the seam edges look nice.  I ended up with 3-inch pockets at both top and bottom of each curtain (because of the design and how they are sewn, they can be flipped over and swapped on the rod, there is no set "top" of the curtains)!  We also installed a light-filtering roller shade behind the curtains to replace the blinds that were there.  The upside to the roller shade, besides the cheap price ($10 for the shade, $0.75 for the hanging hardware, and $2.50 for the handle which is totally optional but keeps the rod from sliding out so I recommend it), no cords!  Nothing for a little one to get tangled in at all!  I've also purchased a set of curtain hooks to hold back the curtains...but they aren't installed yet.

In the above photo, you can see how I can tuck in the quilt.  I really like how all the colors blend so well together!  The wire rack is another long story...but that piece got returned to Home Depot, we ended up not needing the "extra" shelf.  You can also see the hamper I mentioned in this photo, behind the pack 'n play...in the bottom left corner, that's my footstool with my breathable bumper on top!  The bumper is striped with greens, blues, and a bit of orange, and brown of course.  It just needs to be washed before it can go on the crib...also, the bumper fits down under the mattress a bit (to prevent kids from wiggling under the bumper) and it just doesn't fit when the quilt, sheet, and mattress protector are all in there!

Today while we were out and about, I found this cute little lamp!  I found it in the clearance section (near lighting) at Home Depot for $14 and couldn't resist!  The blue lamp shade is just a touch "off" to really match the room, but that's what I love about having so many shades of blue and green in here...it blends in really well!  I may make a matching lamp shade to go with the room, but I still have a pillow to finish for the "set" first!  The base is a teal glass with a few holes drilled for the wiring...super simple!  I'll get the plastic off the shade and the tags and stuff off of it later...when I get a light bulb in it.  To the left of the lamp is our baby monitor...for a fee, we can listen in on our little guy from our iPhones, iPads, and iPods!  We played with it a bit when we first got it several months ago, but are waiting until; little man is here before paying the $56 (or whatever it is) for a year of service on it (it's plugged in because the plug is behind the dresser...).  The wipes container is holding one set of cloth wipes and is acting as a "placeholder" for my wipe warmer I still need to get.  Since we'll be using cloth wipes and making our own wipe solution, I'd like to keep them warm to prevent the coconut oil in the solution from solidifying out of the mix!  The fabric on top of the dresser is a receiving blanket my Mom made (the baby's first gift)!  I have so many hand-me-down receiving blankets and this one looks great (to me) and is keeping the top of the dresser safe from nicks and dings.
One last shot of the crib and quilt... 

To come in future posts...the closet!  This story needs it's own post, trust me...  Also, I don't have any photos of the closet yet and I really need them to show off all of everyone's hard work in there!  I may even write about all the clothes...but again, need to get them all put away and sorted still...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken Coop and Other Things...

Gerty "inspecting" the clean coop.
So, I finally got the chicken coop cleaned today!  It really needed it bad I'm sorry to say...it has probably been about 5 months since I cleaned it out last, aside from changing out the hay in the nest box.  My girls don't really spend a lot of time in the coop, so it wasn't "totally" disgusting or anything...just "icky" from night time poops mostly. 

Today though, the girls got into yet another fight over the one and only nest box that any of them will use, knocking it over not once, but twice!  When I first got up this morning, I went down and turned it right side up...with Gertrude firmly attached to the interior of said nest box, I might add!  Within a few hours, they had they box overturned, completely this time, and all three were raising a ruckus outside!  I don't want to say my girls are quiet by any means, they are after all a vocal animal, but they are "quieter than most" and really don't get "loud" unless they've just laid an egg or there is a serious problem in the chicken run.  When I say "serious", I mean they ran out of food or water (these have both happened once, maybe twice if I wasn't feeling well) or if there is an issue inside the coop (usually pertaining to the single nest box).  This is when having the security camera on the TV in the dining room comes in handy...I can tell when it's a food/water issue or a "coop" issue (of course, it also helps if you don't accidentally lock them in the coop the night before...).  Since I could see they had overturned the nest box again, I decided it was just time to clean the coop and be done with that chore (until shortly before the baby gets here...but hopefully I'll have a little help with that cleaning).

Clyde was the first to claim the fresh nest box!
Months back when we cleaned out the garage, my Mom washed up an old garbage can for us and we put the open bag of pine shavings in it (I had bought 2 large bags because I got them on sale for more than half off).  However, it never got moved to the run!  So, to start, I had to drag that around the house, really it was less work than it sounds...it's a plastic garbage can and the pine shavings don't weigh much at all, it's just big and awkward (and hard to carry when you've got a baby bump).  Also, I took one of my handy Kitty Litter container to the garage to grab some fresh hay for the nest box.  In the 35-pound container, I can fit enough hay for two or more "fresh" changes!  The hay "bale" is an equally large plastic "sack" full of chopped hay, it was much cheaper than buying a bale of hay.

Gerty checking out my iPhone...
I have worked out a pretty simple Coop Cleaning System really...I just use a broom!  One of these days, I know I need to get out there with an actual cleaning solution and give the floor a good mopping, but we haven't had any issues with the girls being sick or any sort of bugs, so I think the system is working okay.  When we first moved the girls outside last summer, I was carting the used bedding away and dumping it in our make shift compost heap behind the shed...all we're really doing back there is making a huge pile of junk and by December, I wasn't willing to cart it across the snow.  So, "plan B" came into being and we've been using it happily ever since!  Now, I just sweep the old, icky stuff out of the coop into a pile below it.  After the coop is emptied onto the ground, I just shove it the best I can under the coop and the girls distribute it from there.  With all that old chicken poop now in the ground, it attracts bugs and the girls eat the bugs, win-win!  Then, I just put Pine shavings in the unused nest box (if I put hay in it, it just gets kicked out anyway) and that box goes in the corner I can't reach. 
Henri also needing to use the box
Next, I put the fresh Hay in the cat box turned nest box that all three girls use and it goes next to the unused box.  This keep the box they're actually laying in within reach and I can get the eggs by simply sticking my hand in the pop door!  Once the boxes are in place, I start tossing in handfuls of Pine shavings until I'm happy with the thickness of the bedding (usually 2 to 3-inches deep).  Then, I just close up the coop and walk away feeling accomplished!

I also spent a little time on the goings on in the chicken's run as well.  We recently made the switch to pellets instead of crumbles.  This was a change I really wanted to make last year when the girls got weened off of chick starter, but until this last visit to the feed store, they've always been out of pellets!  Pellets take up a little less space, meaning in a week, we're already down to only having 2 litter containers full instead of three.  Some say pellets reduce the amount of feed chickens waste, but my girls never let any food go to waste, so I can't see any difference there!  I also refilled their water with fresh...last time I cleaned their water dish and put a little Apple Cider Vinegar in it as well (good for them, but I fail to remember why).  I need to remember to not do that!  The girls don't like it, they drink less water than they do normally, the water turns milky and mold grows (gross)!  So, I dumped it out and gave them a container of fresh, clean water today as well!

Then, I got to moving some of the stuff in the coop around...a few weeks ago, we (Garrick) finally got sand back in the sand box!  The girls have gotten pretty good at digging through the river rocks and finding the sandy dirt below it, but they really enjoy climbing into their turtle "tub" for a sand bath more!  I also moved the Sumac limbs around a little too, made them more horizontal...the gals have never really climbed on them as they were and I needed to make room for the "new" garbage can storage out there!  I may need to raise the feeder up a little now though, we'll see if they start making a mess out of it!  It may be a good thing to mention that the big white bucket is my water system (two nipples drilled into the bottom of that bucket) and in reality, it is several feet away from the turtle.

And in other chicken "stuff", I do believe as of today, all the girls are back to laying!  Gerty has been dropping a ton of feathers everywhere, but I don't think she "looked" like she was molting...however, she laid a 1.7 ounce "torpedo" egg today! I know it was Gerty because she was the only hen not fighting for the box after I cleaned the coop.  It has been several months since we've gotten 3 eggs a day!  Of course, the day before we go out of town for several days isn't the ideal time for us to get an influx of eggs...especially when I didn't line up a chicken-sitter for this trip!

I guess getting moving is what I rally needed to do recently too...over the past several days I have been dealing with increasingly more swollen ankles!  Today they were/are so bad, that even my fuzzy slippers are leaving a crease line in the middle of my foot!  But, I did manage to get a pair of socks and shoes on to go out and deal with the coop, and surprisingly, once I was done, I noticed that my right foot was a little less swollen.  Of course, the relief lasted until I sat down for 5 minutes...so it was short lived relief.  I'm gonna try soaking them later, maybe that will help?

While I was outside, I decided to snap a quick photo to show how tall my tomato plants are this year!  They're in large pots on the back deck and if you only count the part above dirt, they all start about mid-shin on me.  Boy do I look puffy today!

And here is a preview of a post I'm planning for the future (near I promise)...aren't the colors just awesome?  It's a quilt, and I am sort of following a pattern...but more on that once it's finished!