November 30, 2012

Breaking the Big News

Posted by Kristin

I recently realized that I never shared how Mike and I broke the big Baby Who news to my family. In true Thomas style, we (mainly me) decided to incorporate beer into the announcement. We knew that we'd be sharing the surprise at a family dinner. And a large part our family dinners revolve around trying and enjoying new and old microbrews. We always keep things in moderation but pretty much everyone participates in the sipping and savoring of various craft beers.

I knew that my parents would notice pretty quickly if I wasn't drinking a beer. So instead of making some lame excuse that they would probably see through pretty quickly, I decided to beat them at their own game and put the ball (er beer) in their court so the guessing would be on their shoulders. Enter Pregger's Porter.

You first saw Pregger's Porter in Baby Who's nursery reveal post.

Yup, I made a custom beer label in In Design for the sole purpose of breaking the good news.  I sat down with my laptop and a real beer bottle so I could study the different elements on a basic beer label. I also dyed some regular white paper with black tea to make it look a bit more authentic. After designing and printing the label, I filled the bottles with water, capped them, and used Modge Podge to adhere the labels to the bottle. All in all, it took about an hour to make two beer bottles.

Here are the details and all the cheese:
  • Pregger's Porter: A Baby-safe, Porter Style Beer.
  • For Pregnant women who just can't give up the taste of beer.
  • Brewed and Bottled at Fetus Friendly Brewing Company in Embryo, Ohio
  • 0.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Surgeon General's Warning with a little addition: "Fortunately, this beer is free of alcohol, so drink up!".

I snagged a bar code from Google Images and referenced another beer label to see what
states offered redemption values.

And here's a clear shot of the label in In Design:

All in all, it was a super fun way to share the news. I started off by saying to my parents "So I've been drinking a lot of this beer lately and its been really good. You should check it out."  I then handed a bottle to both my mom and dad. They both started reading the labels but had this perplexed look on their face. My dad said "Wait I need my reading glasses" (go figure right?). Meanwhile, my mom says "Wait, does this say pregger's? Wait, does that mean? Wait, does that mean....". Finally, to help things along, I yelled, "Yes it means we're pregnant!". Then the full hooting and hollering ensued, followed by more celebratory beer drinking (minus the pregnant lady of course). Definitely the best way to share the news!

November 27, 2012

Sea of Stars Mobile

Posted by Laura

"I'm a dreamer. I have to dream and reach for the stars, and if 
I miss a star then I grab a handful of clouds."
-Mike Tyson

Who doesn't love a good quote from Mike Tyson first thing in the morning? Speaking of stars, I really wanted to make a mobile to hang over the little guy's crib (did I mention?...IT'S A BOY!). I was inspired by a combination of this pin and this pin on my babe pinterest board, and am really happy with the result.

I went to Michael's and bought 9 pieces of different colored/textured scrapbook paper and string for a whopping $5.02.

Jennifer came to the rescue with her shape-cutting machine (also used for decorating Lauren's baby shower) and spared me hours of cutting out tiny stars that would have surely given me tendonitis, or carpal tunnel, or a headache.

We spent an evening in Kristin's living room "crafting".
click picture to enlarge

I took the stars and glued them to the string, back-to-back so that the string was not visible on the star.

With some driftwood given to me by my sister-in-law, I drilled holes with a small pilot bit...

...and thread the rows of stars through the wood, tying them off to secure them.

I wonder what Mike Tyson would think?

November 23, 2012

How To: Organize Your Fridge

Posted by Kristin

While many of us may still be recovering from Turkey-incuded comas, chances are our fridges are just as stuffed as our stomachs. And while a full fridge makes me happy, I know I can always learn a thing or two about how to maximize the storage capabilities of my fridge and freezer. Enter Real Simple. In the October 2012 issue, they had a handy article on organizing your fridge, including some surprising items that should be stored in there along with some items that shouldn't be.

Fridge Organization
Real Simple's 10 items that are commonly mis-stored in the fridge, via. 

Here's some things I learned from the fridge organization article:

  • Store packaged raw meat on the super-cold bottom shelf. That way if juices drip, they won't get on other food.
  • Veggies should be stored in high humidity drawers while fruits prefer low humidity. Veggies and fruits should also remain unwashed until they're ready to be used. Residual water can cause mold and bacteria growth.
  • Don't mix fruits and veggies in the same drawer. Many fruits emit gases that can cause certain veggies to wilt. 

What To Put In The Fridge
Here's some surprising items that benefit from cold storage. See the full list here.

  • Avocados: Once they start to ripen, it happens fast. If they're ripe, pop them in the fridge to help them last longer.

  • Homemade Cookies: They're stay fresher in the fridge than in the pantry.

  • Ripe Bananas: It always seems that our bananas ripen all at once. Once they're ripe, put them in the fridge until you're ready to eat them. The peels will turn black but the fruit will be fine.

What To Take Out of The Fridge
And finally, here are some items I thought needed cold storage. It turns out, they do fine at room temperature. See the full list here.

  • Coffee: I'm totally guilty of putting my whole bean coffee in the freezer but apparently its not the best spot for it since condensation can affect the flavor. It'll do better in an airtight jar in the pantry.

  • Hot Sauce: This was definitely a new one to me. I've kept our hot sauce in the fridge for years but apparently it can live happily in the pantry for up to three years.

So once that food coma wears off, hop up and burn some thanksgiving calories by organizing that fridge!

November 20, 2012

DRÖNA Facelift Tutorial

Posted by Laura

Nursery work is fully under way here at our baby-is-coming-in-a-matter-of-weeks household. The major pieces of furniture have been in place for about a month, and now we're working on the details (which is my favorite part). One of the pieces of furniture we got is a double EXPEDIT shelf from IKEA. We got a few square baskets, a number of DRÖNA fabric bins, and left a few squares open for books and toys.


My friend Lauren uses the same system in her nursery and had the brilliant idea to cover her DRÖNA bins with fabric to customize the look (brilliant, right?!). To go along with our nautical theme, Caleb found this fabric (during our IKEA shopping spree) which seems to fit the bill perfectly.

-1 DRÖNA fabric bin (must be fabric)
-Fabric (see below for DRÖNA dimensions)
-No-Sew Hemming Tape (such as Stitch Witchery)
-Sewing machine and Iron

First, cut your fabric with 2" extra on each side to allow for a 1/2" hem. This will depending on how many sides of the bin you want to cover - one side 16" x 12", three sides 44" x 12", four sides 58" x 12". I chose to do three sides.

Next, top stitch a hem on each side, 1/2" wide. This will bring your final piece of fabric down to the exact size that you originally measured for the box.

Finally, place the no-sew fabric tape along the edges of the fabric and iron onto the bin (with the iron setting on wool).

And that does it.

November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving Pinspiration

Posted by Kristin

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, its high time for some feasting of the eyes on Pinterest Thanksgiving decor ideas. All images are from Pinterest and can be viewed here.

A nice way serve some spiced cider. 

I love it all. The chairs, the banner, the hand-print turkey. 

Easy Peasy. Take a hike and grab some pinecones.
Bust out the spray paint and you've got yourself a nice little garland.

So simple yet elegant.

Grab some dried beans, lentils and popcorn out of your pantry and you've got this down.

With PEC's love of mason jars, you should have figured they'd make their way in here.

More uses for popcorn!

Sticks. You can never have enough.

I had to throw in something fun for kids. I would totally dig this if I was a tot.

So now go scour your cupboards, pantry and the great outdoors for easy ways to add some autumn awesomeness to your holiday table!

November 13, 2012

Autumn Desktop Downloads

Posted by Laura

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons. I love the crisp air, crunchy leaves under my feet during walks, and hot coffee sipped outside. To bring a little autumn inside and into your workspace, I designed a few desktop downloads for you to enjoy and use. See download instructions below.

Directions to set as Desktop:

1. Click here to be directed to the link for our Picasa web album.
2. Choose the photo you want to set as your background by clicking on it to enlarge.
3. Right-Click and "set as background" or "set as desktop".

November 9, 2012

Organizing: Making Room for Change

Posted by Kristin

Anytime a major change is happening in your home, knowing how to prepare for that change can feel a bit daunting. I've often felt this way when I knew we'd be moving, down sizing to a smaller space or needing to create an area in the house for a new activity. When we moved this spring, there were a lot of upcoming changes that I knew would affect our home and how it functioned. Namely one big change: BABY!

Its amazing how someone that isn't even here yet can change the way you think about everything from what you eat to where you will store future sippy cups and bath toys. So hold onto your hats as we take a tour of small changes I've made to make room for Baby Who.

  • Storage: Not too much has been done out here yet because our land lord still has to paint the dry wall. I plan to make it purely functional for the winter by having a few baskets to stash our winter gear and a dedicated space to store the car seat.

  • Cabinet Space: When we first moved in, I made sure there was some extra cabinet space left over for future baby dishes and bottles.
  • Dish-rack: We already have a pretty functional dish-rack that isn't used nearly as often now that we have a dishwasher. I debated getting a separate drying rack for bottles but thought it may be one more thing to clutter the counter. We'll give our regular dish rack a try first and see how it goes.

  • Shower Storage: Originally we had a small hanging rack which held most of my shower necessities while the rest lined our tub. I knew that we'd need a space to stash the baby's shampoo and body wash and that we'd want it in close proximity to the tub. So we got a much bigger hanging rack and now have plenty of space along the tub to store any baby bath supplies. Another tip: one mom told me to make sure that your baby wash is in a pump bottle. That way you can still have one hand on the baby while they're in the tub instead of needing both hands to open a regular bottle of shampoo or body wash.
  • Bath Toy Storage: There's a great little nook under the curtained-sink that isn't used for anything right now. So I filled a spare basket with baby bath toys and supplies and stashed it under there.
You'd never know that this.... stored under this.
  • Washcloths: At first, this basket full of yellow and white wash cloths was purely decorative. They're available if guests need a wash cloth but are seldom used. After determining that the baby could handle an adult washcloth (super soft ones), I figure I'll just cycle through these ones instead of using a separate stash of baby-only washcloths.

Dining Room
  • Convertible Design Space: While this room doesn't have much in it for the baby, it was important to leave a flexible space in which I could set up my drafting table for design work if needed. Normally, we've used our second bedroom as an office but since we knew it would be a nursery from the get go, we made sure to have a space in the dining room that could also function as mini design studio on a temporary basis. All I have to do is move the small side table, set up my light-weight drafting table, grab the chair that's already in there and we've got ourselves a workshop ready to go.
  • Maximizing Closet Storage:  Along with room for my drafting table, I also needed my drawing supplies to be organized and close by. Luckily, this closet in the dining room serves multiple purposes. Instead of using the closet for one purpose (like dishes or linens), I use each shelf for a different kind of storage. The top is for extra large serving platters, then a shelf for linen-closet type items, followed by a shelf full of reference books and photo albums, then a shelf dedicated to my drawing supplies and landscape design books, and finally a space on the floor to store all our tools and diy-supplies.

Living Room
  • A Mini Office: Since we don't have a full on office in this house, we knew that we'd need a small but dedicated work space in one corner of the large living room. After considering our options for a desk, we found this desk at Good Will for $25, snagged it, and painted the base white. We plan on making a new, wood top at some point but the true selling point of this desk is that it can be disassembled. Let's just say that heavy desks and frequent moves taught me a lesson or two. I bought hanging file storage racks for the bottom drawers and recovered an old mail sorter in some fabric to hold all our bills and mail. A spray-painted frame backed with chicken wire has bills, cards and other items clipped to it until they're ready to be sorted or used.

  • A Small-Footprint Chair: Originally we had two large white chairs in this room. But after a week of living with them, we knew one would have to go to make room for baby gear. So this Pello chair from Ikea fit the bill and takes up much less space. It's also super lightweight so it can be moved in a snap if needed. After living with it for three months, it's been easy-as-pie to slide out of the way once we added furniture pads to the bottom of the legs.

  • Flexible Storage: My hubby loves books. I love open storage and baskets. This Expedit bookshelf from Ikea seemed to be the perfect solution. It can be used vertically or horizontally, can hold books or storage baskets, and was a bargain at $70. The best part is that I've purposefully left those two baskets empty knowing that we'd need a space to stash baby books, toys and blankets down the road. So bring on the baby clutter!

  • Open Space: I also resisted the urge to fill in the open space with too many things. I knew we'd have a swing in here at some point and figured that some left over open space would help us find a suitable place for the swing to live. Plus, having an open area on the rug is essential for tummy time and lots of other baby activities.

  • A Napping/Nursing/Reading Nook: Although this space is good for pre-baby life, I figure it's a good idea to have a quiet space for me to rest with or without the baby. Plus, this super comfy chair (which used to be in the living room with its partner) seems like it could be another quiet place to nurse or read to the baby.

So those are just some of the ways that Casa Thomas has prepared for life with a baby. Probably the simplest way to think about it is to make sure everything has a place. That way, when you round up all the toys, books and blankets (or just plain old stuff) at the end of the day, you know where they all live.