Monday, December 23, 2013

Nursery Design Series: Little Night Owl

This week we'll be featuring our last parent-designed nursery, one that is sure to inspire you! Jacquie created this adorable, budget-friendly and functional nursery for new baby boy!

About a year and a half ago, my husband and I moved out of New York City to the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Although we miss so many things about NYC, one thing a house in the suburbs offers that a New York City apartment does not is SPACE! We had a whole empty room that was all ready to be turned into a nursery!

When I started designing the nursery, all I knew was that I wanted a calm, clean look with white furniture. I started with the crib and really loved the mid-century modern design. I was initially drawn to the Oeuf Sparrow Crib, but after doing some research and reading lots of reviews, I decided on the Babyletto Hudson crib…the same design for a fraction of the price! I also liked that it converts into both a toddler bed (rail included) and daybed. For bedding I went with the Owls design from Dwell Studio, which inspired somewhat of an owl theme for the nursery. (I am still waiting on the blue crib skirt from Dwell to complete the set, which is on back order until February!)

I wanted to be able to use the rest of the furniture for years to come, so I went with the Brighton white dresser and Jeremiah Rocker from Crate & Barrel, and the white 5-Cube bookcase and a grey pouf from Land of Nod.  I added a white changer top and changer basket to the dresser, also from Land of Nod, to make it baby-ready.

The walls of the room were already painted this color ("Macadamia" from Sherwin-Williams). I would have loved to paint the walls a different color to match the nursery, but we decided it wasn't worth it in a rental home. For artwork, I turned to  After looking all over the internet for owl-themed art, I decided to go for a different look on the walls. My husband and I love all animals and want to instill that same love in our children, so I chose these animal prints by Andy Warhol, one of my favorite New York artists.

One of my and my husband's favorite stories is The Little Prince. I can't wait to read it to our son and teach him its valuable life lessons. I found this great print of one of the illustrations from the book, also from

Lastly, I found the white porcelain owls for the bookshelf, and my good friend (and author of this blog!!) sent me the colorful owl bookends as a baby gift, which go perfectly in the room!

Jacquie, I absolutely love the theme of this room, and especially the artwork you chose. Such a clean, lively space!

The rest of this series can be found hereherehereherehere and here!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Reading List

'Tis the season to snuggle up in front of the fire with long, incredible books. There are so many new releases worthy of your time this year! Whether you are travelling for the holidays or staying home with family, steal a few moments, grab your favorite throw blanket and a cozy cup of hot cocoa to dive into some of these:

If you haven't already, you must read The Goldfinch, which is likely the best book of 2013. It's one of the most fascinating books I've read in the last few years... riveting, suspenseful, creative, and extremely well written. My review here.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride won this year's National Fiction Book Award, and for good reason. It is a beautiful and hearbreaking story about slavery, told by the perspective of a young boy who has been snapped up by the abolitionists movement. This is a great historical fiction read and will bring you straight to the period and place because it is completely written in the 1850s dialect. While this authenticity can be difficult to navigate at times, the lyrical writing, astonishing dialogue and the wonderful character development more than make up for some tough passages.

A House in the Sky by Sara Corbett is a beautiful and touching memoir about a young woman who has a passion for travel and strives to live a meaningful, significant life. After having travelled across most of the world, backpacking, meeting new people and understanding various cultures, she travels to Somalia -- one of the most dangerous places on earth. As soon as she arrives, she is abducted by masked men and kept in captivity for 460 days. What she accomplishes in the face of adversity, how she manages to escape, and what she takes with her -- this is the tale of courage and fortitude that we all can learn something from. 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is set in New Zealand and begins with a tragedy, mystery and a dark secret. I just started this historical novel, but so far, I am enjoying it... plus, the reviews are fantastic! 

While I have really mixed feelings about her work, Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel, The Signature of All Things, is a great, light and well-written piece. It's clear to me that she is best at fiction, and caters to an audience that is looking for something refreshing and inspirational to read. As always, her novel focuses on love, identity and travel. Alma Whittaker is a well-rounded and loveable character, fleshed out by the author's imagination.

The Rosie Project by Graemie Simsion is essentially a love story, about a scientist on a mission to find a wife. He comes up with a survery to disqualify the unsuitable, and ends up meeting Rosie Jarman, who does not meet the criteria he is seeking. Still, their connection transcends everything else, as Don is forced to realize that love knows no reason. This is a strange and unconventional book about love, but is satisfyingly optimistic and wonderfully written!

What are you reading lately?

In case you missed it, check out my Fall Reading List too!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nursery Design Series: Enchanted Meadow

Today we are getting a glimpse of an adorable nursery designed by my friend Callie, for her 3 month old baby, little Lola. It's an eclectic mix of high end pieces with fun, artsy and creative details, as well as some DIY painting. Take a look...

After living in Park Slope for 5 years in a great one-bedroom rental, we decided to anchor down and purchased a two bedroom apartment in the neighborhood May of 2012. The second bedroom was small but we always knew it would make a great nursery. When we found out I was pregnant with Lola in January 2013 the transformation from office/junk room to nursery began. I was pretty overwhelmed with all of the options so we started with the basics and built from there. The room did not have a closet and we felt that would be essential for storage. We hired a contractor and had a great closet built (with storage above for my off season clothes!). We opted for curtains instead of doors to maximize space and I was able to use some West Elm curtains that I already had from our old apartment. The next step was painting which we decided to do ourselves (I did help but my husband Nate did most of the work while I was at a wedding shower for a friend-- oops!). I have a shameless obsession with the color grey and we decided it would be the perfect neutral and warm backdrop for whatever direction we decided to go with decor. We went with Benjamin Moore Feather Grey. After a few hiccups (a layer of high gloss paint instead of matte and the paint ending up a little more blue than grey), we were happy with the result..though next time around I might just hire a painter-- painting is insanely hard work! 

Next up was the furniture. I knew that I wanted Oeuf Sparrow crib in the birch color from the first time I saw it at Giggle. I liked that it had a contemporary but not too modern feel, and that it converted to a toddler bed. For a dresser we knew we needed something with a small footprint that had a good amount of storage and could act as a changing table. After a much deliberation we went with Room and Board’s Moda six-drawer dresser in white (didn’t want it to look too much like a matchy furniture set so opted for a different color from the crib). It turned out to be the perfect size and its really well made. During a mega-sale at ABC Carpet we picked up a simple white rug on the cheap (knowing it probably won’t last too long!). 

With the major pieces in place it was time to start with the decor details. I fell in love with Dwell Studio’s Meadow crib sheet and used it as the focal point and inspiration for the rest of the room. It has coral, turquoise and peachy tones that really pop. Unfortunately they discontinued it after I purchased only one sheet- huge bummer since I would love to have two! We did buy a small glider but put it in the living room and moved our grey and white living room chair from West Elm into the nursery for a comfortable place for middle of the night feeding. I am on the Board of an awesome arts organization called the Wassaic Project and purchased a fun piece of art during their summer exhibition with rockets and birds by Wassaic Project Co-Director Eve Biddle and her husband Josh Frankel. I didnt want to overwhelm the small room with too much on the walls so just went with one other piece, “Sammy the Seagull” by Wayne Pate. I had seen it on Serena and Lilly for $260 but went on Etsy and was able to buy the print directly from Mr. Pate for just $60 and it was a standard size that fit in a frame we had. Big savings! 

I turned to Etsy again for curtains and after a lot of deliberation and fabric swatch requests decided to keep them neutral grey but in a fun wood pattern that went with the Meadow/woodys theme. A letter “L” hook for laundry bag, a woodsy shelf from West Elm, the Peanut changing pad from Giggle, a chevron diaper caddy from Etsy and a cute kid-size bookshelf from the Land of Nod and the room was complete, well almost...until Lola came home to enjoy it!

Callie, what an awesome idea to find the "Sammy the Seagull" print on Etsy! You made such a wonderful and unique space for little Lola and I'm sure your family will enjoy watching her grow up in it! Thanks for sharing it with us! 

Take a look at other parent-designed nurseries herehereherehere and here!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Fun

There's nothing like having a fresh Christmas tree in the house... we are loving the woodsy smell of pine, the glowing lights, and the warmth of all the holiday decor. Holiday preparations are sometimes the best part of the holiday... building excitement and making memories that last long past Christmas day.

We continued our holiday traditions of trimming our tree while drinking hot cocoa, listening to holiday music (this time on iTunes radio station Children's Holiday Songs, via Apple TV) and letting little J help decorate. She loved counting and naming the ornaments while putting them up, mostly at the bottom of the tree, where her little hands could reach. She even used the stool to get to the higher branches, which made her feel like a big girl. This year, she was old enough to do a holiday craft project with me, so we painted lovely little wooden ornaments and prepared them to hang on our tree. It was so fun to do! I got basic Martha Stewart Crafts flat wooden holiday cutouts, and we used glitter glue and a wood hole punch to dress them up and make ornaments.

Each of the girls get a special ornament every year, this year little J got a Hello Kitty doll dressed up for the holidays, and L got a Lenox baby pin with her birth year inscribed on it. This is little Leela's first Christmas, and although she is too young to understand much of it, we do want to make it special for her to look back on. The simple acts of always having hot cocoa while decorating the tree, or getting a keepsake ornament every year, or doing a holiday project together -- to me, this is what it means to celebrate as a family. Meanwhile, little J singing "jingle bells" and showing her little sister each ornament as it goes up on the tree -- enough to make my heart burst with love.

It's so fun to have traditions around the holidays, especially with little kids... simple rituals that are performed every year help to seal bonds of family and give all of us so much security and happiness. It definitely makes us look forward to each occasion while also having fond memories to look back on. Isn't that why each holiday means something different to each of us, because the celebration is so intertwined with its specific, personalized traditions? What are your favorite holiday traditions? How will you recreate them in the future?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for your Mom or Mom-in-Law

Now that I'm a mom, I can see what a tough job it is. Moms deserve the best. Below is a gift guide to some of my favorite picks for the mom in your life... brighten up her season!

1. Foxy and chic blanket from Dwell Studio... something lovely to cuddle up with ($58)

2. Personalized Baggu tote with stripes and metallics, perfect for all her errands ($45)

3. For the on-trend mom, this Michael Kors chevron infinity scarf will be a warm treat ($58)

4. I'm obsessed with all anthropologie kitchen items, but especially this lovely forest platter for enchanted dinners in her kitchen ($48)

5. A vintage beaded clutch for parties, since she has a sophisticated style ($30 and up)

6. Warm and stylish leather & calf hair gloves ($198)

7. She deserves to relax with a book & glass of wine, in the tub :) I want this bath caddy! ($40)

8. Dreamy gold candle holders for a centerpiece that will stun guests year-round (prices vary)

9. A whimsical banana vase from Jonathan Adler, to dress up her dining table! ($595)

10. A shiny foil sweater for a casual new year's eve ($150)

11. For the kitchen and tech saavy mom, this new qooq is the ideal tablet ($399)

12. Perfect cheeseboard for entertaining... or picnics on the go ($55)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Nursery Design Series: East Meets West Coast

I'm excited to share today's nursery with all of you! Mika designed this beautiful room with interesting geographic and cost considerations, and made an airy, lovely nursery for her 17 month old daughter. She was even able to incorporate her Japanese roots into the room!

We bought our first home in Oakland, CA in December of 2011 and a few days after closing we discovered that we were pregnant with our daughter, Emi. Now, 2 years later, most (or all) of our rooms are still works in progress including Emi’s, but here is a little peak into our little lady’s room.

The lilac walls came with the house and although it would not have been our first choice for the nursery, we found that it really works with the white, gray, and pink accents and wall hangings we chose.

The first thing we did in her room was put up the cherry blossom decals from Amazon.  It gave the room the Japanese touch I was looking for. We also wanted to avoid anything that could fall over our little one’s head in an earthquake as we live adjacent to the Hayward fault. 

Emi's crib is also from Amazon and is a gift from her grandmother.  It’s versatile as it converts into toddler bed, daybed and a full-size bed. Instead of getting a bedding set, which can be super pricey, we decided to get zigzag bumper from Amazon (yes, we are Amazon prime members and are suckers for the 2 days shipping) and we have been buying different patterned crib sheets to go with her room. 

The curtains from West Elm are our most recent addition to her room.  The bamboo printed curtain overlays the blackout curtains to keep her sleeping even after the sunrises (if we are lucky!). 

Emi’s dresser is from Ikea and we LOVE how much room there is for her clothes, blankets, accessories, etc.  We even keep our diapers in one of the top drawers to keep the clutter to a minimum.  We decided to get a dresser without an attached changing pad so she can still use it after she grows out of diapers.  We decided on colorful floral decals to, again, keep hard objects from falling on our lady in the event of an earthquake.  She pulls off some of the decals during diaper changes, but she has learned the word “flower” and “cho cho” which is butterfly in Japanese, so I think it was worth it. 

We also recently switched out the top 4 knobs with animal knobs from Cost Plus World Market to give it a unique look.  

We found these colorful cards from Papyrus that we framed to make quick and affordable art. 

There are a several small upgrades we are planning in her room: 

We had a bed skirt that initially fit perfectly, but when we lowered her bed (almost a year ago now) it became too long. I just ordered the replacement since I had the incentive to get her room blog-ready

We are planning on getting tie backs (option 1 or option 2) for her curtains.

We are thinking about getting a glider. Her room is relatively small so we want a compact one that won’t take up too much room… our 8 year old Poang works well for now. 

I love Emi's nursery... what a perfect, East meets West Coast, dainty and feminine room! Thanks Mika, for giving us the grand tour!

Take a look at other sweet nurseries hereherehere and here

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recipe: Zucchini & Goat Cheese Pinwheels

I've been enjoying every last drop of my maternity leave, and as it winds down, I'm trying to soak in all the fun with my girls, and also trying to play domestic diva while I can. I know that when I'm back to work, the mornings will be even more chaotic (if that's possible!) and the evenings will be filled with activities with the kids, leaving less and less time for great cooking. So I'm on a mission to make some yummy dishes while I can.

Hubby came home to this beautiful and delicious appetizer this week. YUM!

It was so easy to make -- starting with frozen puff pastry, I glazed it with a light egg, water, dill, chilli pepper and salt mixture. I shredded the zucchini, crumbled the goat cheese, and packed on the layers. After rolling, all you have to do is cut and bake for 15 minutes at 350. Looks a lot more complicated, but it's not!

Puff pastry is an essential freezer item... something I always keep on stock to make savory bites like this one, or sweet treats like these Nutella-Mallow Pockets. What other quick snacks can you dish up with pastry dough?

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide: Top 14 Gifts for your Little Ones

There's nothing like seeing your little one's face light up with joy, whether it be because you're home early, because there are extra bubbles in her bath, or because he's excited about a new toy. And let's face it, there's nothing like opening a gift to find something to play with inside! As a parent, I love to see my kids having fun with toys that will spark the mind, inspire creativity and encourage independent play. That's why my gift guide for the little ones features this year's hottest toys that are fun, safe and educational. Let the fun begin!

1. These automoblox come in all shapes and sizes... and are the modern alternative to an educational puzzle. Build it and zoom away! ($10-$50)

2. Your toddler will love making her own crayons in fun popsicle shapes. ($12)

3. Such a colorful, bendable rattle toy for the drooling infant in your life. ($18)

4. 1000 stickers. Enough said! ($21)

5. This is an incredible bang for your buck... a playdoh ice-cream maker will provide hours of fun. Dress up your cone with sprinkles, candies, even donuts & cookies! This is J's most loved toy... yum! ($15)

6. This little fairy will fly across her room, bringing a sparkle to her big eyes. ($60)

7. Just like a real pup, this robot dog can learn new tricks, wag his tail and get excited when you rub his belly! (on sale for $80)

8. This Playskool camera takes real photos and is also a projector. Kids will love the silly and fun effects and sounds. ($55)

9. This wooden school bus is a great developmental toy to keep your baby's eyes happy and his hands busy. ($27)

10. I can't wait to play this fun game with little J and our family over the holidays... everyone has to take turn pulling the plastic leaves without waking the bees. I'm sure you can imagine the fun when the bees come bzzing out! ($16)

11. This wooden sunny clutch toy is great for an infant learning to grasp, and serves as the perfect teether. Little Leela will love this. ($15)

12. Every tot loves to hide and play pretend... this is a beautiful tent that will kickstart imaginations and make their little dreams come true. ($149)

13. A geoform puzzle for hours of portable fun. Will teach kids about shapes and colors as they arrange and rearrange to re-create the ideas provided. ($48)

14. Furreal friends come in many varieties -- monkey, puppy, kitten... and your little ones will love to feed, tickle and play with these little guys as they respond with sucking, giggles and cries! ($50)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Nursery Design Series: Two of a Kind

Our nursery design series continues with a double nursery today! Sabeen, mom of two-and-a-half year old identical twin girls, shares her beautiful, functional nursery and the transformations it has undergone as the babies have grown up!

When my OB announced that we were expecting twins, my husband and I let out simultaneous nervous and excited laughs.  We had signed up for one kid but had never expected two!   When we discovered they were identical twin girls, I started planning out their nursery and envisioned something girly yet simple. Our Manhattan-sized Nursery wasn’t going to allow for any extra clutter and we needed to fit TWO cribs.

I am type-A.  I won’t deny that when you combine that with the nesting instinct that comes with being pregnant, I was a little nuts.  I created a small model of the nursery so that I could layout the furniture so that it fit perfectly within the specs of the room.  I needed two cribs, a glider/rocker, a changing table and a bookshelf, all to fit in a 10’x12’ space!

We went with a light/bright pink and green story with white furniture.  First, my husband painted our walls “country green.”   Next, we purchased simple Pottery Barn cribs (that can later convert to toddler beds) and a matching white dresser/changing table.  I really liked the Dutailier Glider & Ottoman but it wasn’t available in white so we had to custom order it (it arrived 12 weeks later!).  For wall decor, I found pink and green wall art on Trendy Peas and an oval chenille rug (also from Pottery Barn).   I am obsessed with Serena & Lily bedding so I went with sheets from there (bumpers came with the set but were removed when I read this article).  Although they were pricey (we had to get additional sets for the occasional leaks, vomiting, etc that come with the territory), the sheets from Serena & Lily were worth it.  They still look new two years later!  We also have cellular window shades in the room but added these blackout panels and finials/rods.  The nursery has an attached bathroom so we went with a similar pink and green garden theme there.  I hung nylon butterflies on the wall and a growth chart which I got as soon as the kids started standing.  They really do grow like weeds! 

When the girls were babies, there weren’t many toys to create clutter so things were easier to manage.  Now that they are toddlers, however, we’ve had to make some changes to the room because they have so much “stuff”.  We have added some frills (including anywhere chairs which the girls LOVE!) and a large bookcase from Land of Nod that we use for most of their toy storage.  We also have a smaller toy chest that we got from  

I love keeping their things organized, and I really want the girls to learn to help when it’s clean up time so I organized their toys in pink canvas crates and created labels for each crate with both words and pictures (so the girls know what belongs where).  Once the girls started sleeping with blankets, I also purchased these adorable blockprinted toddler quilts.  We have also moved the glider to be between both cribs because it was becoming difficult to read bedtime stories to both kids at the same time.  I know this room will evolve in more ways over the years (maybe bunk beds are next?) but hopefully we do too and move to a bigger place!

What a fun place to play and cuddle up!! Sabeen, I especially love the easy to read labels for the toy baskets... may have to steal that idea! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful space with us!

More real-life, parent designed nurseries here, here and here.