Friday, December 31

Design: A Bright and Bold Nursery Mood Board

I enjoyed creating my first mood board that I decided to make another nursery mood board just for fun. This time, I used bright and bold colors... yes, and a bit girly... for a little girl's nursery.

Color palette: hints of pink, red, orange and yellow

  • Wall paint. This time, the wall color I chose is Benjamin Moore's pink essence. BM's white zinfandel works too.
  • Furniture. I love the simplicity of Ikea's Gulliver crib. The reds and pinks of Pottery Barn Kids' Harlington crib sheets (as pictured with the crib) and the airiness of the Poang chair from Ikea work well with the crib. As for the dresser, I chose Room & Board's Moda for its modern appeal, and yes, because orange works well with our color palette.
  • Lighting. Last year, I attempted to create my own capiz chandelier like the one in West Elm but I failed - I didn't have time. Okay, okay... maybe I was just so lazy. So when I saw this pink/orange capiz chandelier from PBteen, I thought it was the perfect inspiration for a bright and bold nursery mood board.
  • Area rug. I am a sucker for graphic rugs. CB2 has a great collection, and their Moth rug fits the bill for this theme. The taupe color in the rug plus the red graphic brings all the furniture together.
  • Curtains and pillows. Our favorite Swedish furniture store made it again to our list. Their Aina curtain looks great with our chosen color palette. Crate and Barrel's pillows are perfect accessories for the room.
  • Other accessories. Etsy's a great place to find independent designers, and I found the perfect set of art prints for this room - colorbee's "All you need is love" set. Pomlove's pom mobile is another Etsy source (you can also DIY this, I'll make sure I'll post the "how to" soon). For the toys, I used the owl plush from Pottery Barn Kids.

Okay, I am now officially tired. Bright and bold nursery mood board ... done.

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Thursday, December 30

Crafts/DIY: Alphabet LOVE Print

I promise. This is super easy. All you need is your presentation software (aka Powerpoint or Keynote). You can even do it in Word or Pages.

Use a block font to type in the alphabet, paragraph justified - both edges aligned. Change the font color of the letters "L, O, V, E". Then in another text box, type in the word "Love" in a script font (I used Windsong), and align it on the right.

Then print, and frame.

See? Wasn't that easy as pie?
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Wednesday, December 29

Design: Nursery Mood Board

In less than 3 months, we will get to see our baby for the first time. That made me realize ... she does not have a nursery yet.

For the first few months she'll be sharing our room, but I need to think about what her room will look like. Hmm, okay Mommy G... time to roll up your sleeves.

Here is a mood board I whipped up together during the past few days. It's just a compilation of ideas that I think would look great for a nursery. We want a room that's serene and light, not too girly, but still a bit feminine.

Color palette: shades of grey, blue, green and cream

  • Wall paint. On the walls, I like something neutral and can go with anything. Grey is a wonderful color, and it has this calming effect. Restoration Hardware's lightest paint in the Flint family, Pumice, looks amazing. Another alternative is Benjamin Moore's Tranquility, but it seems like it's leaning towards the greenish grey side.

  • Area rug. Her future room is not at all carpeted, so an area rug is a must. Besides, I believe that a rug brings a room together. Pottery Barn Kids' trellis carpet has a subdued graphic pattern, comes in light green, and goes well with the color palette that we chose. 

  • Crib and bedding. Serena and Lily is a great place to get crib beddings that are super soft and comes in sets. They're a bit expensive, but feels so luxurious. As for the crib, I wanted a crib that is simple and modern ... like the oeuf classic crib in birch/white (not pictured), but it's waaaay out of my budget.

  • Dresser / Changing Table. Instead of getting a separate changing table, we figured it would be more cost-efficient to just use a low dresser like Ikea's Malm 6-chest dresser, and diy a changing pad on top. The drawers can still be used for storage, in addition to the existing closet.

  • Rocker. Another one that's way up on my nursery wishlist ... an Eames rocker in white ... or maybe in light blue. A piece of designer furniture really makes a difference.

  • Lighting. I have my eye on using a drum shade pendant for the nursery. I found one that I like - it's by Shades of Light, and it goes so well with the trellis rug, don't you think? Jonathan Adler also has these lovely giraffe wall sconces that I'm planning to put up above the dresser - at both ends of the art print display. I think the giraffes bring a bit of whimsy into the room.

  • Curtains. I wanted a sheer white patterned curtain on top of a plain white/cream canvas roman shade. Crate and Barrel's Marimekko Madison sheer curtain has a white-on-white leaf design that softens the room, and with the additional roman shade, we can instantly make the room darker when the baby is sleeping.

  • Accessories. babyjives' cloud mobiles took my breath away when I first saw them. I think they're just adorable. As for the artworks, I love avelisa's art prints.

I'm still missing a few accessories like pillows and decorations, but those are just minor things. Nursery mood board No. 1... done.

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    Tuesday, December 28

    Freebie: Holiday Thank You Notes

    thank you.

    Give thanks to the people who remembered you this holiday season.

    Just click on the image below, zoom and print it out. It should fit an A2 (4-3/8" x 5-3/4") envelope.


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    Monday, December 27

    Crafts/DIY: 2011 Calendar

    As 2010 draws to a close, it's time once again to tear off that December calendar page and get a new calendar. Okay, one big problem. I don't have a 2011 calendar.


    So I decided to make my own.

    I collected silhouettes of designer chairs, and made those the monthly images. I used dear photoshop to edit the photos and create the months, then had them printed. I had the perfect place to put it ... pinned on the cork board near my desk in the kitchen.

    They turned out pretty good.
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    Sunday, December 26

    Baby: Too sweet or not too sweet?

    The end of the year marks the season of giving, love ... and lots of desserts. Well, it just so happens that the week of Christmas and New Year is the week when I get tested for gestational diabetes. It is a condition where your body is intolerant to glucose during pregnancy. People say that the additional hormones caused by pregnancy make your body more resistant to insulin.

    Anyway, because my pregnancy had me going for an increased craving for chocolates (and other sweets), I was dreading the moment when the doctor would tell me that I could not have any more sugar during the remainder of my pregnancy. 

    An hour before I had my test, I had to drink a full bottle of glucose on an empty stomach. The drink tasted like really sweet orange soda. The nurse took 2 vials of blood to give to the lab, and said that they will call me the next day or two and tell me the results.

    On day 1, I baked chocolate chip cookies - heavenly. I posted it here. I think I had a couple.

    Then on day 2, I made carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting. It was so moist and delicious (I'll post the recipe soon). I know what you're thinking. Hey, can you blame me?

    Anyway, they called that afternoon. They said I passed! Yipee! Sweet holiday! I can enjoy the holidays even more.

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    Saturday, December 25

    Love: Holiday Greetings

    It's week 28, and I just want to greet the world a very merry Christmas!


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    Friday, December 24

    Love: Annual Christmas Ornaments

    Memories. Traditions. Special occasions.

    There is something about yearly ornaments that makes the Christmas tree extra special. We started the tradition the year when my husband, then boyfriend, proposed. And every year, we try to do something memorable and mark it by putting a symbolic ornament on the tree. We have one for the year he proposed (I got a silver annual gift lockbox ornament and put a replica ring in it), one for when we got married, a few for our trips, and one for our first home. Next year, our tree will have another for our little bundle of joy. :)

    Here are a few of 2010 ornaments I found lovely:

    "New home" from Carlton Cards Heirloom

    Waterford "2010 Times Square" from Bloomingdale's

    "Our first Christmas" from Lenox

    "Cold cup" from Starbucks

    "Expecting Family" from Elizabeth Bonura

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    Thursday, December 23

    Food: Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Chocolate chip cookies
    {Early post for tomorrow}

    Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. I love those that have crunchy edges, but chewy and soft inside. These are perfect with a glass of milk. I'm pretty sure Santa would love these as well, especially on Christmas!

    Bowl of Mush published a personal recipe that really melts in your mouth. Try it and you'll see.

    • 2/3 c butter, softened
    • 1/2 c granulated sugar
    • 1/2 c brown sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 c flour
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1-1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
    1. Preheat oven to 375F.
    2. Cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
    3. Sift in the flour, baking soda and salt.
    4. Add the chocolate chips and combine well.
    5. Scoop teaspoons of the cookie dough and spread out on an un-greased cookie sheet. Parchment paper works too.
    6. Bake at 375F for 8-10 minutes.
    7. Remove while the cookies are still soft.
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    Wednesday, December 22

    Family: An Unexpected Surprise

    Yesterday, we got an unexpected surprise package from our family living on the other side of the world.

    Early Christmas presents!! It was a great, great way to start the Christmas week.

    There were bibs for the baby. I heard you can never have too many bibs. So thank you so much!

    There was a baby owner's manual book for mommy and daddy. I read a few pages, and the book was really quite funny!

    ... and ... there were a ton of letters from everyone. It was so heartwarming to know that a lot of people wrote to us. We all feel so loved! Thank you everyone!

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    Food: Best Buttermilk Pancakes... ever.

    I found the best buttermilk pancakes recipe and I just wanted to share it with you.

    I tried microwavable frozen pancakes (uhmm... they're lousy), and I had some diner pancakes (some are great!). But they were not even close to the recipe that I found at Martha Stewart.

    Here it goes...

    • 2 c all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 3 c buttermilk
    • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (plus more for cooking if you're not using a non-stick pan)

    1. Heat your pan until water sizzles (the original recipe called for a griddle, but I didn't have one, so I just used a non-stick pan). Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. 
    2. Add eggs, buttermilk and 4 Tbsp melted butter. Whisk to combine until medium lumps form. The key to fluffy pancakes is to not overmix the batter.
    3. Test the pan if it is hot enough by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the pan is ready to go. Pour 1/2 cup (around 6 inches in diameter) of the pancake batter in pools 2 inches away from one another, if they fit. 
    4. When pancakes have bubbles on top, and the edges are slightly dry, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
    5. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm.
    For pancake topping, we always use honey (acacia or black sage are best). They are so much better than pancake or maple syrup.

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    Monday, December 20

    Baby: My Two Cents on Baby Bottles

    Okay, mommy mode again.

    Glass or plastic?

    That is the question.

    I had been looking around for what kind to get, and eventually, I decided to get glass. Let me tell you why.

    Life Factory glass bottles

    Glass bottles do not contain that wretched chemical found in plastic bottles called bisphenol A (BPA). Low levels of BPAs are said to increase the risk of cancer, and certain plastic bottles have BPAs in them that tend to leach from the plastic bottle into the milk. That is not good in my list.

    Remember the time when you were a kid and you drank water from your plastic jug, and it seemed to taste like Kool-Aid, because you always put juice in it? Well, that's what plastic does. Plastic tends to absorb smell, but not glass.

    Glass can be recycled as well. Plus points for trying to be green.

    The thing about glass bottles though is that glass is breakable. So why did I still choose to get glass bottles? Well, because now, glass bottles have "sleeves" that prevent them from breaking... and they can be cleaned by sterilizing them in boiling water - which my mom used to do before.

    The best thing?

    A couple of months back (yes, I shopped that early), I got this really great deal online for Life Factory bottles. Using online store credit and promotions, each bottle came up to around only $2 (they retail for $12.50). That made choosing quite easy.

    When I went to their website, I learned that all the materials that they use are free of BPAs, phthalates, PVC, polycarbonate, lead and latex. Even the silicone sleeves.

     I found that they also have products for adults. Their sleeves just make everything lovelier.

    This post is by no means sponsored by Life Factory bottles. I just love their products.
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    Sunday, December 19

    Food: Chicken Bok Choy Stir Fry

    Chicken Bok Choy Stir Fry
    I was looking for a quick and easy recipe for dinner that's light and healthy. I found a recipe online but tweaked it to my taste...

    • 4 bunches baby bok choy, well-rinsed, separated and trimmed
    • 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 medium cherry tomatoes
    • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
    • chili flakes, to taste
    • 1 Tbsp sesame oil

    1. Heat sesame oil in pan. Add onions, garlic and tomatoes until soft. Add chicken slices and chili flakes. Stir fry until meat is cooked.
    2. Add fish sauce and bokchoy.
    3. Stir fry for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve warm with steamed rice.

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    Crafts/DIY: Easy Gift Wrapping

    When I got married a few years back, I ordered a monogram embosser. I used it for last year's Christmas gift wrapping. Here is a play-by-play of how I did it:

    1. Make a silver seal using a round silver sticker and emboss the design on it.

    2. Other materials I used were curling ribbons, scissors, tape and tissue paper.

    3. Place the gift in the middle of the tissue paper.

    4. Wrap the gift as you would normally do it.

    5. Tie a curling ribbon around it.

    6. Stick the seal and curl the ribbons.

    Simple and easy.

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    Saturday, December 18

    Crafts/DIY: Custom Destination Bus Rolls

    I have been smitten with vintage bus rolls since I saw them on Apartment Therapy.

    Apartment Therapy

    I again saw a couple more at Z Gallerie.

    Z Gallerie

    Z Gallerie

    I thought that one would be a perfect wall art in our home. But I wanted something something custom for both me and my hubby... something that is meaningful to both of us. We are both beach buddies by nature, and that seemed to be a perfect theme for our very own bus roll. We wanted to use beach names that we went to, and want to go to.

    I searched online for customizable bus rolls, and saw it could run to around $150. Hmm, I thought maybe we can just do it myself.

    So, we went to Ikea and found their biggest frame - we got the Ribba. I used the frame's size as my guide, and went on to put my good ol' photoshop skills to good use. I used simple fonts, and some paintbrush action to come up with the end result that is kinda similar to the one they sell at Z Gallerie. We then had it printed at Kinko's and put it in the Ribba frame.

    Beach Destination Roll


    The total cost was about $75. Not at all bad!
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    Friday, December 17

    Baby: Move It, Shake It, Kick It

    I have been feeling my baby move for a while now. Sometimes, I feel her kicks, sometimes just her twists and turns, and I think just recently her hiccups. Last night, my sister asked me how her movement feels. Let me describe them.

    When I experienced her move for the first time, the feeling was similar to my stomach grumbling without the hunger pains. Maybe that was the reason why I did not recognize it in the beginning. I could not tell if I was just hungry or it was the baby. There were also times when the feeling was like a goldfish swimming inside my tummy.

    As the weeks passed, her movements became more frequent and more noticeable. They felt like soft, tiny pokes here and there. At times, she does double kicks and stretching, like feeling her move and touching both ends of my tummy. Hiccups are also happening more often now. Those feel like rhythmic bubbles.

    My baby moves every time I have a piece of chocolate, or a bite of cupcake. She loves (or maybe hates) the sugar rush... that's why she kicks. I usually feel her kicks at night though when I am relaxing and lying down on the bed.

    They all feel awesome... a sign that she's healthy. I know that there will come a time when her kicks will become stronger and soon she might be kicking my ribs. Hmm, I wonder how that will feel like.
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    Thursday, December 16

    Body: Battling the Stretch Marks

    When I first realized I was pregnant, I remembered terrible stories I heard about stretch marks. It was only last year that I first saw what bad pregnancy stretch marks look like. Weird, I know. But my mom never had them so I didn't really know what bad stretch marks are. I always thought they were just those silvery marks around your thighs... yes, those I have. So imagine the look on my face when I saw actual pregnancy stretch marks. My mind went into "Must. Avoid. Stretch marks." mode.

    I started reading about what causes them, and what you can do to prevent them. Well, stretch marks are scarring that are caused by the rapid growth of the skin, and if your skin is not that elastic, then stretch marks are more possible. Most say that pregnancy stretch marks are hereditary, so if your mom had them when she was pregnant, chances are, you will have them as well. Although my mom did not have tummy stretch marks, I was not 100% relieved. You see, I never had the habit of putting body lotion daily. So it made me think twice of getting into it as early as possible.

    My friend gave me her remaining Belli Elasticity Belly Oil. She said it worked for her, and I was so thankful. It came in lavender scent, which was a great plus. The only thing that I didn't like about it was the spray nozzle. When you spray it on your palm or on your tummy, oil squirts all over the place - and I mean all over... even on the walls. My husband had to reseal and repaint our walls to make the oil stains disappear.

    Right now, I use what my mom used while she was pregnant.

    She recommended just plain old baby oil. It was immensely cheap compared to the Belli brand, and I found the scents really appealing. I personally loved the cocoa and shea butter one. It smelled so good I wanted to put it all over my body, and it was not too greasy.

    I apply it every night after taking a bath to seal in the moisture. Every morning, I apply Cetaphil moisturizing lotion as well. Whenever my tummy is really itchy, I put lots of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. That one is so greasy though but it soothes the itchiness. So there. My new daily regimen.
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    Wednesday, December 15

    Love: Gifted

    from Creature Comforts

    Last month, the people of Creature Comforts blog launched Gifted magazine - an e-magazine dedicated to holiday giving using crafts, freebies, projects and ideas. I know it's a bit late post for early birds... blame it on the hormones. But there is so much inspiration and style on its pages that it makes me want to get up and redo my Christmas shopping over.

    Anyhoo, I found several fabulous diy / ideas that I would like to try sometime - definitely after Christmas (yes, I was one of the early birds who sent Christmas gifts out the door already).

    Deer Lanterns: change the insert design,
    and it's now perfect for outdoor patio evening parties

    Paper Snowflake: for gift embellishments

    Fabric Twisties: my favorite!

    I can definitely find uses for these during various occasions other than the holiday season.
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    Tuesday, December 14

    Design: Christmas Trees and Christmas Themes

    It's Christmastime once again and it is that time of year when we bring out all our hidden weapons to make our homes full of holiday spirit and cheer.

    Decorating the Christmas tree is exciting. Choosing the theme for the first time though may be tougher. Red is an obvious choice for many. Below are some Christmas trees / themes I find wonderfully lovely.

    Vintage Silver Theme (from Pottery Barn)

    Christmas Tree on a Table (from Better Homes and Gardens)

    Buro North Christmas Tree (from Apartment Therapy)

    Pink Christmas Tree from Treetopia (from Blueprint magazine)
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    Sunday, December 12

    Baby: Modern Crib Beddings

    Earlier, I was on the hunt on finding the perfect crib sheet set for my baby. Since we are having our first child, I did not want anything that was too girly (*hint* pink and flowers). I wanted something we can use in the future, just in case the storks decide to give us more babies. You’ll never know, one might be a boy. It’s all about reusing, right? In the end, I wanted something with a modern flair to it, something simple, and of course really soft.

    Here are my top choices:

    Oilo - Modern Berries in Spring Green

    Serena and Lily - Blake Collection

    Restoration Hardware Baby & Child - Pin Dot in Silver Sage

    JC Penney - Classic Collection in Classic Cream

    Land of Nod - Full Circle Crib Collection

    DwellStudio for Target - Little Dots Crib Set
    JC Penney - Willow Organic Baby Bedding

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