Turquoise Vintage Circus Jungle Nursery

When I was about four months pregnant, my close friend Kasandra asked me, "So, what is your theme going to be for the nursery?" Theme? Uh....under the sea? Wild west? I just don't think in themes. So I thought about the colors I love -- red, turquoise, purple, teal, orange, yellow -- oh wait -- I love all the colors.

When we first moved into our place Stephen and I painted two of the rooms Martha Stewart Vintage Map, which, obviously, is a light blue color (I can't get over product color names).  So, conveniently enough when we found out we were having a boy we didn't have to repaint the walls.

Honestly, though, I have a problem with classic nurseries. The baby is only a baby for a couple of years so I see no point in decking out a room with paint and decals and décor that will only be applicable for a short amount of time. Also, I wanted our baby room to be a space that I'd want to hang out in.

I love vintage toys and they all seem to have vintage colors like rusty orange and faded blue. I also love the look of Hipstamatic photos. The colors are saturated but a little off. They kind of remind me of old circus photos.

A few months ago I found someone on Craigslist who was selling several Fisher Price toys from the '60s. I instantly scooped them up and after some light contemplation I had an answer for Kasandra: the theme will be vintage circus. What I ended up with I can't exactly explain in terms of a theme, hence the bizarre blog title of Turquoise Vintage Circus Jungle Nursery.

I love how the room turned out. It look very little effort to transform what used to be the booze and guns room into a comfortable space to play and care for our son. Due to space constraints, my husband is sharing this room with baby. Stephen lays claim to the closet and the upper part of the cube shelf is his retro music station. But I think it blends well with the rest of the room.

I pride myself in finding good used items, so this room was a relative bargain. All the furniture is from thrift stores, garage sales, or was given to us. Most of the decorations were handcrafted by me, friends and family or were printed off the Internet and put into cheap frames.

We have many meaningful things in this room: a slate that my godmother used when she was a child, my older sister's teddy bear, friends' artwork, embroidery that was in my nursery, "A Child's Garden of Verses" that belonged to my husband's grandfather, a crib that all four of the kids in my family used, a bookshelf my grandfather made in the '50s, a homemade sock monkey that belonged to my older brother and photos taken by close friends.

The love from our family and friends spans wall to wall. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do. Click on a photo to enlarge.

Curtains from Ikea, blanket made by me, crane mobile and paint chip bunting also made by moi, our old garage sale chair and ottoman, my Oriental rug from college

Bookshelf made my my grandfather in the '50s, thrift store bedside table and lamp

Craigslist vintage toys, slate belonging to my godmother, thrift store toys, new German wooden toys from grandma

Homemade fitted sheet, giant sock monkey and red monkey painting from our friend Ashley, crib made in Sweden and purchased in England for my brother in 1971, wall quilt made by my mom, jungle painting scrounged from a moving van, space-age TV scrounged from a dumpster

From left to right: My childhood bear Bosh, older sister's bear Beary, new Pooh sitting on vintage telephone bench converted to a toy chest

Artwork and haiku by my old friend Joe

Craigslist cube shelf, painting by original Jack, thrift store toys, photos by our friend Amber
Bins from Jo-Ann's

How to Sew Your Own Cloth Diaper Wet Bag

Ok, I'm gearing up for baby time. I've decided to embrace the cloth diaper concept and I have nearly everything I need. Upon doing research on how to clean cloth diapers, I discovered that I'll need some sort of receptacle to store the soiled nappies between washes. My mom suggested just using plastic bags, but that seems wasteful. When I looked online I found lots of different brands of cloth diaper wet bags, but they were about $20-40 for the size I was looking for. I took to Esty and found some really cute ones, but again the price was too much for me to justify. I mean, really, it's just a simple bag.  Why not make one myself?

So I did.

It's definitely not professional, but I think it will do the trick and it only cost about $5 to make.

You can make one too. Here's what you need to make two wet bags:

A 3-gallon trash can with a lid
3/4 yard of PUL fabric (It was in a special cloth diaper section at Jo-Ann's)
Nylon cording (cheap, in the hardware section of the grocery store)
2 cord stops (found in the notions section at Jo-Ann's)
a safety pin
a lighter
bag clips (so you don't penetrate the waterproof fabric while you hold it in place)

Please note: you may need a different amount of PUL fabric depending on the size of the trash can you purchase.

1. Measure your trash can around. Mine was 28 inches so I decided to make my bag 32 inches wide. I learned the hard way after my first attempt at making a bag that deeper is better, so although my can is only 14 inches deep, I made my bag 25 inches to leave room for the casing and to be able to fold it over the side of the can to hold it in place. End measurement: 32"x25".

2. I made French seams so that the bag would be more waterproof. Pin the 25-inch seam together RIGHT SIDE OUT and sew using a very narrow seam allowance -- less than 1/4 inch. Leave two inches unsewn at the end. This will be the top of the bag because you'll need the sides free for the casing and cord.

3. Turn the tube inside out and using the bag clips, clip the seam to hold it in place. You are essentially pinning it in place but without having to penetrate the waterproof fabric.

4. Sew along the side again, this time leaving about a 1/2-inch seam allowance, again leaving the top two inches unsewn. Pull the fabric slightly as you go. It's a little sticky and has a hard time feeding itself through, at least with my machine.

5. Do steps 2 and 3 with the bottom edge. You should now have something that looks like a bag.

6. Now here's the kind of ghetto part, but I don't really care. With the bag right-side out, turn in the unsewn edges of the top and sew them down. This will ensure you don't have any raw edges for the cord to fray up.

7. Turn down the top edge and pin in place, making a 1-inch casing. Sew all the way around the top of the bag. The wider the casing, the easier it is for the cord to move around. If you wanted this to look more professional you could turn down the top edge just a little bit and then turn it down again to make the 1-inch casing so you don't have any raw edges at all. I just really don't care that much!

8. Attach a safety pin to one end of the nylon cord and feed it through the casing. Leave about 6 inches of cord on either end. Use a lighter to melt the ends of the nylon cord to prevent fraying.

9. Thread the two ends through the cord stop.

10. Place your new bag in the trash can and wrap the edge of the bag around the can. Use the cord stop to hold the drawstring in place around the can.

11. If your pail starts to get stinky just drawstring the bag so odors won't escape as easily. When it's time do to a wash, just turn the bag inside out as you dump the diapers in the washer and toss the bag in with the wash. The PUL fabric can be washed and dried just like the diapers.

So we'll see how well this holds up. At least I saved a bunch of money by making it myself and that makes me feel goooooooooood!


Lemon Almond Quick Bread

I don't bake much. That seems to require a little more precision than normal cooking, where you mix flavors together. With baking everything has to be just right or things come out too dense or too dry and crumbly.

But after my second successful attempt at making almond milk I was left with a quantity of byproduct -- almond meal, which I dried in the oven and stored in a plastic container.

So I decided to venture into the baking world. I looked up various recipes using almond meal and came across one with so few ingredients I didn't think I could screw it up.  It was for a quick bread. I like the word quick. It makes me think "less effort."

I actually wanted a little more zing in my bread, so I added some lemon zest. Also, I didn't have enough almond meal so I subbed white flour for the remaining I needed. When I mixed everything together it was really thick and pasty, so I decided to add some of my own almond milk to make it more dough-like. For the yogurt I used my very own concoction of honey yogurt I made earlier in the week. I also wanted some sweetness, so I put in some honey.

Success! This dessert bread came out moist and flavorful. I think I'll make it every time I make almond milk.

To make the almond meal yourself, just follow this recipe for almond milk and save the almond grounds. Spread the grounds on a cookie sheet and bake in a 275-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the grounds are dried out.

Almond meal after straining out the almond milk

Place the dried meal in a food processor and process till it's as fine as you can get it, sort of like corn meal.

Otherwise, just buy almond meal or flour!

Lemon Almond Quick Bread

2 cups almond meal or flour
1.5 cups white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup melted butter
zest of one lemon
2/3 cups almond milk
1-2 Tbs. honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bread loaf pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a medium bowl then add to the dry ingredients. Pour batter into the bread pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool on a drying rack then slice up and serve with butter and jam.


Homemade Carseat Canopy

Since I finally decided to stop working, I've had a lot of time on my hands and not a lot of motivation. It's hard to move around when I'm more than nine months pregnant! But I powered through and made a couple of carseat covers, one for us and one for my friend who is having a girl. I love the color combos and it finally gave me a reason to buy the popsicle fabric at Jo-Ann's -- and it was half off!

The pattern was a Pinterest find and can be accessed here.

It was a really easy project, but it took me literally all day to make both because I had to take so many breaks. Also, I didn't have enough hippo fabric for our cover and I had to do some extreme pregnant math (brain no work good) to figure out how to piece it with the blue fabric. Also due to pregnant brain I cut the popsicle fabric completely down the middle by accident, but I think the stripe looks pretty good!

The only thing I did differently from the pattern is I put the straps a couple of inches closer together. I used safety pins before sewing them down, tried it on, and realized the straps were flopping to the sides. I repositioned them till they were a good distance -- about six inches apart.

Insert baby here

Love this!

finally got to put these hippos to good use!

I tried it -- homemade almond milk

I've never been a huge fan of almond milk, or rather, you wouldn't ever see it in my shopping cart, but that's not to say it isn't tasty. When I saw a super easy recipe on Pinterest for homemade almond milk, I figured I might as well give it a go.

It was pretty simple: soak 1 cup of raw almonds in water for 8 hours. Drain the water, fill a blender with four cups water, add the almonds and blend for a few minutes. Then strain the liquid through a cotton kitchen towel, being sure to save the almond meal for later.

It turned out really tasty. I added a little honey to sweeten the flavor. It made about a quart of milk.

But then I realized it was totally not cost efficient. I mean, up here in Alaska, raw almonds are $10 a pound I used about 1/2 pound. Five dollars for a quart of almond milk -- I'm pretty sure it's cheaper to buy it already made.

I guess if I wanted to make it in the future, I'd have to check out if Costco has raw almonds or if I can buy them online for cheaper. I read in one recipe that Trader Joe's sells 4 cups of almonds for $10. Blasted Trader Joe's -- when will you come up to AK?!

*Update! I just discovered my local Safeway is a total rip off! Fred Meyer had raw almonds for $5 a pound! I'm trying this project again since $2.50 is much more affordable for a quart.

On the plus side, I kept the ground up almonds and roasted them for a while in a 250-degree oven till they were dried out. I used them in my oatmeal the next morning and in my mini meatloaves instead of breadcrumbs. Totally useful stuff.

I tried it -- homemade yogurt

It's been a busy couple of weeks. I installed a kitchen sprayer on the toilet for our future cloth diaper cleaning, made some prefolds out of old t-shirts, made some grocery bags out of t-shirts, made meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting, did a couple of more sewing and cooking projects and for this post I decided to try out making my own greek yogurt.

I found a reasonably easy recipe on the interwebs here and decided it was totally worth doing, especially since my husband bought two gallons of 1% milk at Costco for no reason other than he was craving cereal and thought we could consume all of it between the two of us in a week.

I love that I made this in my crock pot. Everything was super easy, including clean up! Since all crock pots aren't alike, I had to heat the milk for quite a bit longer to get it to 180 degrees. I got it up to 177 and called it good.

After cooling the milk to 105 degrees, adding the 1/2 cup of store bought yogurt I just wrapped the whole crock pot in a towel and stuck it in the oven for eight hours (with the oven OFF!)

My yogurt, after straining, was silky and flavorful. I liked it better than store bought because it wasn't sour or bitter tasting, but that could be that I added honey as the recipe called for (although I didn't measure).

Anyway, I will totally make this again in the future especially if I need to use up 1/2 gallon of milk.


Long-sleeved Tee Becomes Baby Long Johns

I'm a short-attention-span crafter. Making ten-minute baby pants is like instant gratification. When I found a long-sleeved waffle Tommy Hilfiger shirt being given away, I instantly saw its potential -- baby long johns!

I didn't use a pattern, but I based my creation on this pattern here. I just eyeballed it, but I'll give you a step-by-step. What's nice about making pants out of shirt sleeves is there's already a cuff so you don't have to turn anything under and you don't have to sew any inseams.

The material is super stretchy, so I think they will fit for a long time.

One adult long-sleeved t-shirt that's either stretchy or has wide sleeves.
Narrow elastic
Safety pin
Sewing machine
fabric scissors

First, cut off the sleeves at the shoulders. It doesn't have to be exact.

Once the sleeves are trimmed, cut the tops of the sleeves straight across so each sleeve (now we'll call them legs) measures about 18 inches.

I then cut the crotch part out of each leg, starting about 7.5 inches down from the top of each leg.

I just eyeballed one leg and then laid it on top of the other leg and used it as a guideline for cutting the other.

Then, turn one leg inside out. Slip the right-side out leg inside the inside-out leg and match them up at the crotch.

Now, sew the raw edges of the curved part together. This is the rise/crotch of the pant. Pull the inside leg out so the pants are now inside-out. They should pretty much look like the finished product, but with a raw edge at the waist.

Now, turn down the waist wide enough for the elastic to easily be fed through it, about an inch. Sew all the way around, but leave a gap so you can feed in the elastic.

Pin the safety pin to the end of the elastic and feed it through the waistband area, being sure not to twist it.

When the elastic is fed all the way around, play with the length till you feel it's good. I didn't measure the length of the elastic. I just cut it where I thought it seemed best and sewed one end of the elastic on top of the other.

Finally sew up the gap of the waistband.


Cute Cute Cute



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