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I found the coolest thing on Pinterest last night–a website where you can view a watercolor map of any location. I’ve been playing around with saving watercolor images of areas that are important to me. It’s not really set up to easily save and print the images. If you right click and save you only get a relatively small chunk of the overall image, and if you printscreen + crop there’s a little too much stuff cluttering up the display to really get a sizeable area, but I still got some fun images and if you were really dedicated you could probably save a bunch of the smaller squares and fuse them together somehow. Anyway, onto the pretties:

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The images above are all of areas near our home–our neigborhood, the lakes nearby, etc. The ones below are of LSU, which is only a few miles away.

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lsu watercolor

Cool, huh? I really think that third one would be a fun way to acknowledge school spirit without being all WOOWOOPURPLEANDGOLDFORLIFE! I might even print it out on some cardstock and frame it. This next image is Lake Ponchartrain, including the Northshore (where Nick and I are both from) and most of New Orleans.

lake ponchartrain watercolor

And this one is of the whole region–New Orleans, the Northshore, Baton Rouge, etc. That white squiggly line is the Mississippi River.

south louisiana watercolor

I think the most interesting pictures are ones with some water, but if you live in an area that’s landlocked maybe there will be some more interesting terrain–mountains or something–to jazz it up a little. If you want to play around with it you can check it out here.

As soon as Jack became mobile the items on the lower shelves of this bookshelf were so tempting to him. I didn’t mind him playing with the books, but some items posed more of a hazard. You can see in this older photo that it was not at all kid-friendly:

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I removed everything breakable or that could hurt him from the lower shelves until I could figure out a solution. I finally have it rearranged just how I want it and I have to say that I like it even better now than I did before!

stylish and babyproof

I got a large basket on sale at Hobby Lobby ($20) and filled it with toys to keep Jack busy while I’m working in the kitchen. I chose lightweight toys so the basket wouldn’t get too heavy and stuck some foam pads on the bottom to keep it from scratching the shelf or the floor. Jack knows there are toys in there and often crawls over and pulls it off the shelf. I also used museum putty to secure the silver pig and green glass bowl to the shelves. I have actually watched Jack yank on the pig, which is stuck to the book, which is stuck to the shelf. The cover of the book lifts up but the whole operation stays securely in place. It’s amazing! I wish I would have known about this stuff years ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief with some of the stuff my cats like to knock down.

babyproofed bookshelf

I’m still trying to work out the best way to secure the shelf to the wall. It seems pretty stable but I don’t want to risk it falling over on Jack if he tries to climb it or something. I’m thinking of using a couple of metal brackets (like these) in an inconspicuous area near the top. Thoughts? I think I’ll also go ahead and use museum putty to stick down any heavy objects on the higher shelves, just to be sure they don’t fall on him. It’s so hard balancing safety with my desire to have a home that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Babyproofing is definitely a work in progress around here and I’m planning a post soon on what we’ve done to make our house more kid-friendly without it looking like a daycare.

Happy hump day, y’all. We’re halfway to the weekend! I know it sounds crazy for someone who doesn’t work full-time to look forward to Friday but I do. It’s so nice having Nick around and to slack off from our weekday routine. Thanks for reading!

Next week Jack is going to start attending a Mother’s Day Out program. I went back to work part time when he was three months old but he’s always been in in-home care. This is our first time that he’ll be with a group of other kids in a daycare-like setting and I actually think he’ll really enjoy it. I always notice that he’s less clingy and more willing to play independently when there are lots of other people around. I guess there’s just so much to see and do! So anyway, one thing that kind of caught me off guard about this MDO program is that there’s a specific set of things I need to provide (crib sheet, blanket, etc.) and everything has to be labeled. I could just write his name everywhere with a sharpie and call it a day, but do you know me it all? It needs to be cute. Plus the idea of permanently altering baby items with monograms or handwritten names has always struck me as wasteful–it’s kind of awkward to consign, resell, or pass down something with your kid’s name on it!  So I brainstormed a method for attaching a cute fabric label that can be removed with a seam ripper. All you need is some fabric and iron-on transfer paper.

First, I created an image with his name in a grid. To do this I made a table in Publisher, saved it as an image, then used paint to flip it so it would print in reverse. If I’m being honest, I forgot to print it in reverse the first time and wasted an entire sheet of transfer paper. It happens to the best of us.

iron on transfer sheet

Then I simply cut a rectangle of white muslin I already had (you could use any light colored fabric, even an old t-shirt) and followed the instructions that came with the transfer paper to iron the image onto the fabric.

transfer text onto fabric

Then all that was left to do was cut out a label and sew it onto Jack’s blanket. I didn’t stress about sewing a perfect rectangle, I just tried to make a reasonably neat box around his name and then I cut off all the excess fabric around the outside. I actually love the way it looks.

diy fabric label

So for the cost of some transfer paper (I already had it but you can get some for less than $10) and some spare time on my Sunday afternoon I now have more than 70 labels that I can attach to anything fabric throughout the rest of his childhood. They can be washed and worn and as Jack grows I can use a seam ripper to remove them with no significant damage to the item. If you don’t have a sewing machine these would be easy enough to hand stitch or you could use some fusible web to iron it on if you’re not worried about wanting to remove it someday. Or maybe even fabric glue! I think that stitching is the best option though.

custom fabric labels

I attached labels to his blanket, the crib sheet I bought just for MDO (I decided it was too stressful for me to have one of his two regular crib sheets clean and not on his bed every week), his little paci blanket thingie, and when the adorable little backpack I ordered him comes tomorrow I’ll put a label on that too. I also ordered some of these erasable food labels for his pacifiers and sippy cups–the pack of 70 is obviously way more than I need just for him but I figure I can use them in the kitchen, around the house, etc. Yay organization! I love having things neatly folded and labeled just so.

I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend. We attended a beautiful memorial service for my grandfather, enjoyed visiting with family, and finished season 1 of House of Cards. I can’t believe we have to wait until next year for season 2! Hopefully I can talk Nick into taking up Orange is the New Black with me. I love summer TV.

Check it. My laundry detergent is looking all cute and junk.

homemade laundry detergent

I already had the glass cylinder (my mom got it for me a long time ago and I think it came from Walmart). I got the blue tin for $1 at an estate sale. It’s been moved around the house several times trying to find itself but finally seems to have settled in as an attractive vessel for oxyclean–side note, love that stuff. My laundry appliances are so old that the temperature knob is broken off the dryer and the washer scoots halfway across the room during the course of a normal spin cycle, but I’m making metaphorical lemonade with my cute containers.

cute containers for laundry detergent and oxyclean

I do a lot of laundry these days and detergent is freaking expensive. After months of sticker shock every time I purchased a container of my beloved powdered tide I decided to give homemade detergent a try. Most of the recipes online are for a huge batch to be stored in a giant bucket. I didn’t want to commit to a year’s supply without knowing how I’d like it first so I adjusted the proportions to make a more reasonable amount. My recipe is pretty simple:

  • 1 bar of soap (Zote white soap was 99 cents in the laundry aisle of my grocery store)
  • 1 cup each oxyclean, baking soda, washing soda, and borax

I couldn’t find washing soda at my grocery store, but thanks to my friend Mr. Google I discovered that heat acts as a catalyst to convert baking soda to washing soda. So I poured some baking soda out onto a cookie sheet and baked it for a while until it changed consistency and a test sample of it no longer reacted with vinegar. Yay chemistry! I used my food processor to grate the soap, then mixed everything together in my glass canister and wa-lah! Laundry detergent. I melted my plastic scoop trying to get to washing soda off the hot baking sheet so I had to search my kitchen for something else that would work. I found a shot glass that held exactly two tablespoons, which was perfect. I don’t know that I would use the food processor to grate the soap again. It kept getting all jammed up and I worried I was damaging the motor, plus the soap never got to the powdery consistency I was hoping for. Maybe next time I’ll grate it by hand first and then put it in the food processor.

I’ve also been making my own dishwasher detergent. I don’t have a picture of it but it’s stored in a glass canister on the kitchen counter with a metal tablespoon in there as a scoop. The recipe is equal parts borax and baking soda (though I may try washing soda now that I know how to make it) and a couple packs of lemonade kool-aid. You can use citric acid if you’re fancy but I didn’t know where to get it and I buy kool-aid on sale for 11 cents a packet. It gets clumpy and hard sometimes but who cares, it’s cheap and it works.

I’m not convinced that the homemade laundry detergent is enough to get Jack’s cloth diapers clean but I’m willing to give it a try. When I run out of the batch I’ve got maybe I’ll tweak the recipe somehow. Any ideas from you lovely readers?