Maura has Some Exciting News!



Guess what?

Yay! We are expecting baby #2 in late May. I'm 17 weeks along and we have our big ultrasound to find out the sex two days after Christmas!! I know I have been a slacker blogger for the last few months, but I was just so tired that first trimester...trying to nap when Maura napped or going to bed earlier instead of staying up to write posts...sorry!

I might not be around again before Christmas hits (I really wanted to participate in all the Christmas home tour linky parties this year, but I don't know if its going to happen)...we have our big annual holiday party at our house this Saturday and my sister is in town from London. So, just in case, wishing all of you a wonderful holiday and peace, love, and joy for 2013!!

Our New Advent Calendar and an Etsy Rec



Now that Maura is really understanding and loving Christmas, I wanted to get an advent calendar for us to do together. And by get, I do not mean make, I mean buy!! All hail those Moms that have DIYed theirs (and there are some beautiful and amazing and inventive ones out there), but I was just being realistic. So I hit up etsy and searched and searched. I finally, after a long time, landed on one I knew was just perfect for us...this Felt Christmas Advent Calendar from Dani of the etsy shop twirlybird.

I love it (hung low in the downstairs hallway so Maura can reach)! Its basically a big felt Christmas tree (with 24 buttons on it) and every day Maura pulls out an ornament from the corresponding pocket and hangs it on the tree. By Christmas Eve, with a special gold star ornament, the tree is fully decorated!

I went with this advent calendar for a few reasons. I knew the one I wanted to get would be an investment, I wanted to be able to take it out year after year and use it as one of our family traditions. I also knew that there was no way I would be able to keep up with the kind of calendar that you have to fill up with little presents and gifts and treats everyday. That would just stress me out way too much, and I wanted this to be fun. I also wasn't sure that I wanted our countdown to Christmas to be focused on more gifts. I like the idea behind this, each day you are surprised with what ornament is in the pocket, so there's still suspense and other than that, its just about the simple joy of seeing the tree fill up.

Seven different kinds of ornaments come with this calendar, plus the unique and special gold star for the top of the tree on Christmas Eve - snowflakes, cardinal birds, bulbs, peppermint candy, silver bells, and holly. They are all beautifully made and I love the subtle and sophisticated color palette (its not screaming over the top Christmas). Its your job to fill the pockets with the ornaments in whatever order you decide, I of course tried to separate them out and make it so there would be balance in color, shape, etc when the whole tree is done (ha!) but Maura gets so excited that she tends to peak, or take out some and put them back in other pockets, etc. Oh well, she's having fun!!! Its still hard for her little fingers to actually string the ornament loop over the button, so usually I end up doing that part, but I can see her having the hang of it by next year:)

Sorry, took these photos last week on the 4th of December. So by now we are hanging ornaments on the third row of the tree (and it's hitting me that Christmas is only 2 weeks away!!) However, here's a product shot from Dani's shop with the whole tree done up. Isn't it so cute?! Totally random, but I just noticed that the bottom row of my tree is the same as Dani's - ornament, snowflake, bird, peppermint candy. What a weird coincidence! I just randomly picked the different ornaments and put them in the pockets right before I hung it up!!

This calendar has made it extra fun every morning to come downstairs after we wake up! Great quality and customer service from Dani (she's a stay at home mom of 3 boys who loves to sew). Thanks for helping us start a new family tradition!!

PS. Do you guys have advent calendars? Where did you get yours or did you make them? If you do the treat every day kind, how in the world do you think of that many little things to put in there?!

My First Experience with Chalk Paint: A Before and After



Let's just say I'm a convert!

After buying both some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint a few weeks ago, I finally jumped in and painted something!! Yippee. Can't tell you how good it felt be doing something hands on:)

I decided to start with this little black cabinet in our kitchen that I keep my cookbooks, recipe printouts and various (Its originally from Target, but I scored it for free when my old office moved and they didn't need it anymore.)

I purchased a sample jar of ASCP in Duck Egg for $14.95 and hoped to get away with just that to cover this baby. I didn't do the inside (or the back), but by adding a little water to the second coat to stretch it out a little (a trick from the awesome guys at Maison Decor in South Boston), I was able to get her done! Here's the after:

Ahem. No, I didn't get a chance to style the top of the cabinet, so this not as pretty of an after as it should be, sorry!! But you may notice that I did get something else done...after like a year of not writing a single thing on the wipe board above the cabinet, I took it down and put up the two cork boards from Pottery Barn that I've had sitting new in their boxes for like three years. High five!

I love this Duck Egg color! Its that lovely ambiguous area between blue and green and grey, one of my favorite colors that I never quite know what to call. I feel like a lot of the details of this piece like the bead board and turned legs were getting lost before in a sea of black, but now the new color brings them out a bit.

And can I just say that I really really liked working with the chalk paint! I did no prep, other than dust the cabinet, pull it out from the wall a bit and slide a piece of paper under each leg so I wouldn't get paint on the floor. Then while Maura was napping, I went to town. I had no idea what I was doing, but it didn't seem to matter:) The paint went on great, the brush strokes sort of seem to dissolve, and if you do see them, it somehow adds to the look, not detracts.

After the two coats, I took some sand paper and distressed the edges a bit. Most of the time I got it right and just the black showed through, other times I think I rubbed too hard and some white start peaking through. It doesn't bother me though. In this I am not a perfectionist!

To finish the piece, I actually used Miss Mustard Seed's furniture wax, not Annie Sloan's. I bought Marion's to use on a piece I'm going to try next with the milk paint and the guys at Maison Decor told me I would definitely be ok using it to cover the chalk paint (which was really nice, they had my best interests at heart and didn't get me to spend money on something I didn't need). If I didn't know what I was doing painting this thing, I really really did not know what I was doing when it came to the waxing bit (last I checked Marion didn't have the tutorial up yet on her site on how to use the wax), but it was super easy and fast! It was kind of like wiping Crisco all over your furniture and then wiping it off. I also just used a cotton rag I made from an old t-shirt, didn't spend the money (yet) on the special waxing brush.

I kinda want to go around my house and paint everything now! I'm definitely a fan. At first I was pretty intimidated, but after having just jumped right in, I feel like I'm going to be using this stuff a lot. Well, next up I'm going to try out the milk paint, looking forward to seeing how chippy my piece will be on its own with just the paint doing the job. Anybody out there used the milk paint yet? Scared to try the chalk paint? Just go for it!!

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