A mini-DIY: A basket makeover.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Writing the title for this post made me laugh. A basket makeover? You're all probably thinking, "Who has time to makeover a basket?!" But such are the joys of nesting! I find myself doing little (conquerable) projects that I normally would never take the time for. Thankfully, this one cost $0 and took less than an hour of hands-on time. 

Baby Girl Newby's room is also our guest room, so I've wanted it to be on the more gender-neutral side of things. A friend gave me a carload of baby girl items that included this basket. I thought the basket shape and size was perfect, but the colors didn't go with the palette I'm trying to stick with. I really love April Rhodes' Arizona fabric line and am drawing heavily on these colors and patterns for her nursery. When I had some extra navy blue fabric from this line (called Tomahawk Stripe in Night), I thought it would be perfect for this project. 
 So first, I took a seam ripper to the basket liner and pulled the pieces apart. I ironed each of the three pieces quickly and placed them on top of the fabric I wanted to use, trimming the new fabric in the same shape. If you're new to sewing, it would be helpful to take some notes or even take pictures of how the fabric is sewn together. For example, if you're being extra precise, I would rip out all  of the seams (even hems) and not just most of them, like I did. I was going a little quicker so I just left an extra seam allowance for where I knew it would need to be folded over and sewn, and it worked out just fine.
For the ties, I had some navy double-fold bias tape on hand, which saved quite a bit of time. I just sewed along the open edge of the binding to create the ties. I also took a shortcut in choosing not to surge or sew a zig-zag on the raw edges, but used pinking shears to make sure it wouldn't unravel. I don't picture washing this liner often, so I think that will be more than sufficient.

For the basket, I used a can of white primer spray paint to coat it twice. Now that I'm looking at the finished product, I may end up painting it with a dark brown (and using the basket in Liam's room instead), but I'm happy with the transformation for now. Free projects and quick projects are two of my favorite kinds, and when they come together, it feels satisfying.

Obviously, making over a basket will look different for every size and shape basket, but I know there are tons of super cheap baskets at Goodwill with worn out linings that could be easily updated. So I hope this is helpful and inspiring to you!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's Throwback Thursday in social media land, so I thought I'd add a throwback blog post that should've been posted months ago. Better late than never.

When our little family traveled to Germany this summer, we knew we wanted to keep our European travels pretty limited (traveling while pregnant and with a toddler isn't the easiest), but Shawn really wanted me to see Basel, Switzerland. He attended boarding school for high school not far away, so it was a special place for him and just a gorgeous place to visit.

Basel (pronounced BAH-zuhl, not like the spice) is just a train ride away from where Shawn's parents live in the Black Forest of Germany, so "Baba" and "Suzu" were gracious enough to spend the day with Liam while Shawn and I snuck away. You know, to Switzerland. I'm still pinching myself.

Switzerland - and Basel specifically - feels much more international than the small town where we stayed in Germany, so it was easy to get around (for me, who doesn't speak German) and we saw so much diversity. We met up with a good friend of Shawn's for lunch, walked over the bridge that separates Germany from Switzerland to see both sides of the border, and had chocolates and tea at kaffeetrinken ("coffee drinking time"). It drizzled rain for most of the day, but we didn't care. Having a date day to explore a very old, very beautiful European city just couldn't be topped.

Vet On Demand.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

You know those people who are just natural-born entrepreneurs? The kind that are constantly dreaming up new ideas and making them happen? That's my buddy, Mason. He and his wife, Ashlyne, are two of our dearest friends and some of Liam's biggest cheerleaders.

Mason and his brother, Curt, have been been running their family business, Jonathan's Grille, for several years now and it was recently named one of CNN's Top 101 Sports Bars in America. But as if they haven't achieved enough success in the restaurant business, they've now entered a totally new field: veterinary medicine.

Vet On Demand is an app marketplace that allows dog and cat owners to video conference with licensed veterinarians for $2.50 per minute. The vets are able to help with common health issues such as a pet not eating, limping, skin issues, weight issues, or other behavioral problems, which reduces time and cost for the owner. Also, people who are traveling or have recently relocated can get the care that they need when they need it.

If you want to know more about it, visit VetOnDemand.com here and sign up for early access, which will let you know when the service becomes available in your area. I'm excited to see how this new concept, which aims to increase business of brick and mortar vet offices (by connecting owners with local vets, when possible) as well as increase business for vets online, really takes off. I have no doubt it will.

This is a sponsored post, but all the opinions shared are my own. Thanks for supporting the businesses that make Elm Street Life possible!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

If we're talking about lately lately, like in the last 15 minutes, I just sent Shawn a text that said, "I can't believe my life looks like this: ordering child harnesses and wiping poop off of necks." Life with a two-year-old is a never-ending adventure, but that's not what this post is about (you can thank me later). 
Liam turned two at the end of October and I still can't believe it. I'm a big believer in keeping birthday celebrations low-key at this age, and the fact that my parents were in town was celebration enough. When I thought about it, I realized that my Mom and Dad have gotten to see Liam on 3 out of his 3 birthdays even when, for two out of the three, we've lived in different cities. What a gift.

Liam's big present was a train set from Mimi and Poppy. I'd been scouring Craigslist for weeks for a train table that was in good shape when Shawn was approached by a lady at church who asked him, "Would you guys be interested in a train table?" He thought she had talked to me already, but she said, "No, I don't know your wife - I just knew you had a little boy and we were looking to give ours away." God loves us so specifically. We hauled it home, Shawn painted the top, and set up the train set on top. Liam is still in awe of it, and it was the perfect gift that keeps on giving. We also had a mini-party with family and a few friends who are like family. We dined on apple crisp, forgot to blow out any candles, opened a few presents, and concluded a very overstimulating day with an inaugural 2-year-old meltdown. Still, Liam felt so celebrated and loved by some of his very favorite people, and we couldn't ask for more than that.
The night after Liam's birthday, our baby girl got "sprinkled." My dear friends from church told me they wanted to throw a "baby sprinkle" in lieu of a "shower" because we already had the major baby items, but in reality, it felt more like a deluge of love and support and gifts. Our Raleigh church community has loved us so lavishly and so sacrificially that it's hard to imagine all the years we spent without being so closely knit to a group of believers. They had the idea of putting their fingerprints on a tree-painted canvases for her room, and I can't imagine a more fitting gift. Their fingerprints are already touching our lives so powerfully, and little No-Name-Yet Newby is so fortunate to be touched by them as well. They also printed out prayer request cards that outline specific needs for the coming months, and it's been so encouraging for these women to already tell me that they've been praying for us regularly. We need every prayer. Also, she's going to be one well-dressed Southern lady with all the smocked dresses and bows she received.

This season.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

At 8pm every night when Liam has just been tucked into bed with his 3 favorite toy dinosaurs, I have the same conversation with Shawn: "How am I this exhausted? I'm pretty sure I wasn't this tired when we had a newborn." (Shawn usually tries to encourage me with, "You're also nearly 8 months pregnant," which sometimes helps.)

Liam was as easy as babies come. He ate well, slept well, traveled well, and was generally content. Then one day a few months ago, it's as if he woke up. It's not that he became a bad kid. Not at all. He's just a vibrant, strong-willed, joyful, passionate little guy whose energy level is unlike anything I've experienced. Every day that's warm enough, we head to a local trail that wraps around a lake and Liam runs the entire two-mile length, giggling and chatting with passersby along the way. No stroller needed (or tolerated).

It's been a struggle in my own heart not to compare him to other kids. When we go to Chick-fil-A with a group, other kids are sitting quietly and munching on fries while Liam is either turning around to other tables and making conversation about dinos, or I can hear his happy screams through the glass wall of the play area. He's no wallflower, and there's rarely a time when he's not full throttle.

As I've prayed so much for him and for us in this exhausting season, I've come to realize that my frustrations usually boil down to my own pride. When he blatantly misbehaves or runs off or is the loudest one in the room, I fear it reflects poorly on me. That everyone is thinking, "Oh, she just can't keep her kid under control. What is she thinking, about to have another?!" I've become every mother I used to judge. It's humbling in so many ways.

This morning, I heard him saying, "G'morning, Biam!" in full volume before I heard my alarm. I flipped on the light, opened Streams in the Desert to today's devotion, and hoped to quietly focus my heart for the day ahead. This quote struck me:
"The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life." - Faber
Whoa. I'd say "wear and tear" describe this season pretty perfectly, though assuredly dotted with moments of deep and pure joy. And I pray that I can be a soul that serves Jesus out of love. In this season, that means serving my son: by teaching him about the love Jesus has for him even when he disobeys. By enjoying him. By remembering that these days, though intense, are fleeting.

So if my blogging has become sparse, now you know why. It's just about all I can do to keep up with my wildly vivacious little man, grow a little lady, keep a home business running, share a few coherent words with Shawn at the end of the day, and keep my love for Jesus alive. By the end of the day, writing a blog post is often too high a mountain to climb. Is anyone there with me? I would love to know I'm not alone - and I hope you know you are surely not.

PS - I just saw a friend post this article, "Strong willed children are a blessing, not a curse." Maybe you need it, too. Timely and encouraging.
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