This is an update to my original post, the $100 Nursery Project. I may have gone a bit over my initial goal of $100 but I’m still proud of this very thrifty and
mismatched whimsical nursery. Our goals were to keep it affordable, gender neutral, and not to have a blatant theme. So unofficially, we have sort of a travel or international theme going on, but that’s pretty broad and generic. 🙂
I did touch on a few of the items in my last post, but I’ll go over them a bit more here. As I’ve mentioned, adoptions are very, very expensive. The average domestic adoption in the US is around $30,000. We live comfortably but modestly, and I’ve always been a bit thrifty and creative. So I decided to carry that over into our nursery. We’ve been hoping to adopt for 15 months now and I found it a bit therapeutic to work on a nursery while we wait. There are people who say to it’s better to wait before decorating a nursery because so many adoptions fall through and it can be a reminder of heartache. But personally, I found it to be an act of hope after years of pregnancy loss. This was my way to be optimistic that we would be blessed with a family in the future. So… this nursery has been years in the making.
- white chair – this was a Craigslist find several years ago. I think we paid $15 for it? But since I just grabbed it from another room, I don’t think it counts towards the nursery total. 🙂
- Colorful poof ottoman – $0. This was a gift from my friends Matt & Katie.
- Two coral throw pillows – pristine thrift store finds for .50 each. I realize they are kind of… “old lady-ish”, but I actually love them.
- Rocking Airplane – this was a “splurge” from a local seller on Ebay. It was $60 and I almost passed it up. But my best friend (Hi, Jen!) decided she’d pay for part of it as a gift for our future child. So, I couldn’t pass up that offer. Ha!
- Art prints on the wall – another semi-splurge at $40. They were being sold on Craigslist and that price really was a bargain for four framed prints. They are by UK artist Sam Toft.
- Ivory afghan- this was a steal at .50 at a local community rummage sale. I don’t think it had ever been used and it made me sad to think of the hours that went into knitting it. It was spotless. So I rescued it and brought it home.
- We had purchased the crib for my first pregnancy, several years ago. After the miscarriages, we just packed it up and stored it. But I’ve enjoyed seeing it put together as a reminder that we will hopefully not be childless forever. 🙂 (FYI: this crib was a drop-side but we got a recall kit from the manufacturer so it’s completely safe.)
- The art print – it still needs a frame because I hate the one it is in. But the matting and print are very nice and I scored the whole thing for $5 at a local community thrift store! I’ve been to Venice and really loved the oranges. So once it’s in a new frame (probably natural maple), it will be awesome. There will be no glass and it will be uber-secured to the wall. Maybe higher, too. This was just there for the purposes of sharing with you.
- Crib skirt – a DIY crib skirt. I bought the fabric from a friend who was cleaning out her photography studio so I think it was maybe $2 and an hour of time?
- Crib sheet – jury is still out on this one. Not sure I love it. I have some solid colored ones that might look better with the crib skirt. I found it at a rummage sale for $1 and it’s by Dwell Studio. I don’t mind when things don’t match, but I really don’t love blatant clashing. What do you think?
- Rug – this was repurposed from around the house. We have a ton of handmade rugs by this guy who lives in Barron, Wisconsin. A couple years after I started buying them, I realized he was my intern’s grandpa. So that made it more special. 🙂 But someday I’d like to make a really large braided rag rug for this room.
- Muslin blankets – purchased secondhand. Love them. LOOOOVE them. Two are an off-brand that are super thick and cushy, and one of them is Aden & Anais’ Night Sky pattern with the air balloon.
Above: this charming stuffed elephant was a gift from my sweet friend Ashley at Heartmade Life
Above: DIY crib skirt. I found a tutorial online but basically I just sewed three rectangles (one for each exposed side) and tacked them to the board the mattress sits on. Done. I’m not a proficient seamstress but I can *mostly* sew a straight line.
- Ikea Expedit Cube Bookshelf – I think this was $50 new?
- Baskets – also purchased from a friend cleaning out her studio. $5 for all.
- A – Z book ends. I purchased these from a gift shop that was going out of business about 5 years ago. I actually packed them up for the day they’d be in our nursery. 🙂
- Dresser – I painted an antique dresser we already had. Not fancy but it gets the job done. It holds our cloth diapers (newborn and small sizes), newborn cloths, and some spare fabric. When we get a changing pad and cover, I want this to be our changing station.
- The thing hanging from the ceiling that I hope you recognize as a hot air balloon – .25. Someone gave me the lantern a few years ago and I didn’t have a use for it. I bought the basket for a quarter at the thrift store for this purpose, then just used string to rig it up.
- Two shelves that Ben is embarrassed about but I think they are perfectly functional – .50 for both. We repurposed wood that would have been tossed and he made these ledge shelves. I used a small container of “oops” paint that I got for .50. He wanted to redo them to be nicer, but honestly, I don’t care that much. We can always buy nice shelves in the future but for now, they work fine.
- Round basket – thrift store purchase for $2. It holds our cloth wipes.
- Books. I love books. 🙂 Our children’s books have been collected from book stores, children’s boutiques, and thrift stores. Don’t even get me started on my Amazon baby registry list. I think half of it is books. haha.
- Hand-carved wooden elephant – I picked it up at a little shop in Kathmandu, Nepal for $12.
- Art print was purchased on our honeymoon by Russian artist Kraznyansky. We had a blast at a couple art auctions on our honeymoon and Ben fell in love with this guy’s newer abstract stuff. I preferred his older landscape stuff. So it was fun to make a home for this colorful print in the nursery.
- The framed alphabet print next to it was a Goodwill find for $3. I actually bought it for the frame itself but the print kinda grew on me, so it stayed. Above: all of the little woolen puppets were made in Nepal and purchased on my trip there last August. These are especially meaningful for me because some very special children, including some of the kids that I worked with in Nepal, have played with them. And when kids come to our house to play, these are always in the rotation of available toys along with a big box of wooden blocks. 🙂 I think I paid about $2 each for these puppets and have maybe 5-6 of them.
Below: curtains were made by me. Again, this was fabric from a photographer’s studio clean-out. I think it was maybe $8 for all of the fabric for these curtains? They aren’t my favorite print ever, but they were definitely suitable and did the job. Plus, the price was right. They were a bit too short so I added a panel of heavy ivory fabric from my fabric stash. But… I may have to adjust the length or lift the curtain rod a bit higher. I didn’t measure right. Oops!
Well, what do you think? It’s not perfect, nor is it finished. But it’s slowly taking shape. If money wasn’t a consideration, I would have done some things differently, but to be clear, I’d rather have a family than a designer nursery. 🙂 Besides, I do enjoy the challenge of thinking outside the box. I think some things are worth a splurge (hello, Kate Spade Handbags, glass baby bottles, and well-made furniture that will be used for years!) but others are simply better as a thrifty find (crib skirt, baby clothes that will be worn a couple times at the most, and things that can be DIY).
What were your must-have items? What could you do without? Do you have a favorite piece in this nursery?
Today I was chatting with some amazing ladies on Facebook and saw a comment that resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it with you.
We were talking about “Having It All”. Is it really possible to have it all? A career, a family, all the things; everything we dreamed of… without sacrificing ourselves and our quality of life to have it? Some of the ladies were saying it IS possible. Just not at all at once. That sometimes we need to prioritize for what we want at different times of our life… so by spacing it out, we can have it all.
My friend “K” said that she previously lived in an area where it appeared (on the surface) that everyone had it all. But once you took a closer look, you saw that there were massive amounts of debt, bad marriages, depression, and more. Then she said this:
“I wish instead of thinking we deserve to have it all “cause you’re worth it”, we would be happy to say “I have enough” or “I am happy” or “my quality of life is fantastic”…I wish we could go back to living more genuinely and simply.”
Yep. I love that. I had to read it a few times before it really sunk in how much that phrase was very fitting for my life.
I have been struggling with the “have it all” mentality for years. I grew up in a family that didn’t have much money. Looking back now, I’m thankful for it. I learned how to watch what I spent, what it meant to work hard to earn the things I wanted, and other valuable life lessons. But as a young adult, I felt this constant need to have all the things that I saw everyone else having. I was (and to an extent still am) a shopper who got a lot of joy in having “things”. When I think about the time I spent working for the money I spent on stuff that didn’t matter, it makes me a bit sad. I always found something else that I wanted and was never truly content.
Lately in our home, we have been talking about priorities for our lives. For both my husband and I, our priority is to both work from home, even if it means less money. To raise children (that we hopefully will have someday) with both parents around all of the time. Even if it means less money and less “stuff”. This blog was started years ago because we recognized on a small level that we needed to slow down, simplify, and have a better quality of life.
It is not easy to take a look at our lives and say “Yes, this is our life and we are happy with it”. As someone who has struggled with repeat pregnancy loss for several years, my biggest challenge is to live my life being thankful for the “NOW” rather than waiting until the day we have children. Life will not start then… life is happening now, even while we wait. Infertility is a very lonely journey and to realize that I could be happy now, even with our struggles, was very much a huge success for me.
We’ve been intrigued by the small house movement and living simply – we have even started getting rid of a lot of excessive clothing and things around the house. We’re trying to learn creative ways to have a simple life with less money where we don’t feel like we are sacrificing on the things that are important for us. For us, having it all seems to mean that we have time with each other, freedom to pursue interests without being a slave to a rigidly structured job/career, and to not be weighed down by possessions. Are we at our happy place in these pursuits? No, not yet. But we’re making progress.
I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with the path my life is going. Our baby steps have yielded a lot of clarity about the direction we are moving in; it has helped shape the path we are taking.
What do you struggle with? What does “having it all” look like for you? Do you also feel the call for a simpler, more genuine life?
We’ve had our little dog, Shasta, since we got married in 2007. She’s a mixed breed dog that weighs about 6.5 pounds. She’s fairly healthy but has had one problem that has plagued her off and on for several years. She gets itchy. It’s not fleas though she has had them a couple times in her 7 years of life. And it’s not just a little itchy… she gets so itchy that she rubs her eyes until they are so irritated they get scabs and look miserable.
At first, we took her to the vet. Three trips later, we’d tried several medications that just made her sick and/or just didn’t do a thing. We spent a lot of money and didn’t get any answers. So, we decided to try a more natural method of healing her, and it ACTUALLY WORKED.
We did two things.
#1: We began making her dog food from people-quality foods we had on hand
#2: We began feeding her a natural dog supplement
Within weeks, this problem that had bothered her for months had nearly cleared up! I’m convinced that it was a nutritional deficiency from eating store-bought food. We gave her the supplement for several months until it ran out, and sporadically gave her homemade food and dog-friendly people foods. For the last few months she has been eating store-bought dry food.
Now, about a year later, the issue is back. Poor little dog! So we ordered her a new batch of supplements and today I’m making her some healthy dog food. In my next blog post I’ll talk about this supplement that we love so much, but this post is dedicated to healthy dog food.
I will give you the guidelines for making your own dog food, as well as the recipe I’m using today. Here we go!
First, you should know that dogs can eat many things that humans can eat. Here are a few foods that you should NOT give to your dog:
- raisins & grapes
- nuts (especially macadamia and walnuts) and apple seeds (a very small amount won’t hurt them but why take chances?)
- coffee/caffeine and alcohol
- sweetener or salt
- onions & garlic
- dairy products (dogs are lactose intolerant. Small amounts could give them an upset tummy or gas)
- tomatoes, peaches, persimmon, plums
With those items listed, our very small dog has occasionally had small amounts of some of these and has lived to see the next day. So if a trace amount of these items are consumed, don’t panic unless your dog’s behavior starts to seem abnormal. But as a general rule, avoid these items.
Okay, back to dog food.
When making your own dog food, try to follow this ratio:
Obviously that is not an exact science but that was what I found as a rough guideline when I was searching online as I began making dog food. I typically don’t like to go to the store and buy ingredients to make dog food but you obviously could do that if necessary. Instead, what I like to do is look in my freezer and see if there is a bag of frozen vegetables or package of meat that is just SLIGHTLY past what I’d like to use for our (human) food. I’m pretty picky about freezer burnt food, and if it looks unsafe, I toss it in the trash. But if it looks like it’s just beyond what I’d prefer to eat but too good for the garbage, I use it for dog food. (My thought is that it’s still going to be better quality than the stuff that goes into shelf-stable dry food that contains lots of junk.)
I throw my ingredients in my crock pot and let it cook for a few hours, until the food is soft and meat is cooked. I let it cool and then begin feeding to Shasta. She LOVES this stuff. I think she would eat herself chubby if she could, but we do regulate her portions. It is stored in the fridge and/or freezer, depending on the amount we make at any given time.
Since I typically use the “freezer method” for determine ingredients, my recipes are often different. But today, I’m using:
Meat: a pork chop (bone removed) and a boneless chicken breast with a *small* amount of liver added in for nutrition. Be cautious to use small amounts of liver; it’s good for dogs but absolutely in moderation.
Veggies: some green beans that were frozen and lumped together in the bag, a sweet potato, a carrot, and maybe some peas as well.
Grain: I’ll throw in some black beans that we have in the fridge already; black beans are a great source of nutrition for dogs! But I’ll likely add in something else to round out this recipe. Sometimes I use barley, rice, oatmeal, or potato.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian, nor have I received training on this topic. I have spent a good amount of time researching it online and recommend you do your own research. You could always ask your vet about breed-specific requirements for your dog. If your dog begins acting strangely after ingesting something new, please contact your local vet, the local emergency vet clinic, or call the animal poison hotline at 888-232-8870.
Have you made your own dog food before? What ingredients does your pooch particularly love?
Yesterday, our microwave died.
Funny thing is, I’d already been debating getting rid of it and having all of that lovely extra space on our countertop. Real estate in the kitchen is valuable! So when it decided not to work, that made the decision easier. And you know what? I don’t even think I’m going to miss it! I told Ben, my husband, that I didn’t think we should replace it. He was 100% for this idea! Then we realized we had several more appliances in our kitchen that were getting little or no use, so we put those in the “get rid of” box as well.
This is sooo much nicer than having a big microwave sitting in the corner! Ahhh, extra space.
Here is what we purged:
- Microwave. (Farewell – you’ve been a faithful friend these past 8 years. You are pretty with your stainless steel exterior, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. So goodbye!)
- Electric can opener. This has sat in the cupboard for the past few years. We NEVER use it. I don’t see the point of keeping it, even though it works, just to clutter up counter space. With that said, our manual can opener is at the end of it’s useful life and today I ordered a new manual can opener by a company I looove, Zyliss. Me + Zyliss = love. Can’t wait till this baby makes it’s home in our drawers! (Wow. I sound ridiculous and nerdy. But really. I’m excited about this can opener.)
- Electric steamer. We had this one HERE. Honestly, it’s awesome. We have used it quite a bit in years past for vegetables & corn on the cob. But in the last two years, we have been gravitating more towards using our large stockpot for corn on the cob and the stainless steel steamer insert that goes with a sauce pan we already owned. This isn’t the exact one we own since we got ours about 8 years ago, but it’s almost the same. Steamer insert It’s nice having that extra space back.
- Ice cream maker – we used it maybe 1-2 times a year and at that point, I think I’d rather just buy an occasional pint of ice cream
- Waffle maker – pancakes are fine. 🙂
- A couple other single-use appliances. Instead, we’re opting for tools in the kitchen that serve multiple purposes. And it feels great!
We have already switched to a (manual) French Press for our coffee. We heat the water in a tea kettle on the stove. We have a manual sauce maker (with a salsa attachment and different screens). A manual pasta maker. And we LOVE all of these. But we still do have a bunch of electric appliances. You don’t realize how many you have until you list them out like this!
- Kitchenaid Mixer with the slicer/shredder attachment (LOVE! We make all of our bread and a bunch of our pasta, plus other tasty things with this.)
- Toaster (occasionally used)
- Coffee grinder (daily!)
- Blender – don’t use it often but no plans to get rid of it!
- Juicer – same as the blender
- Crockpot – Both a large and small version. Though I recently saw a replacement for this that is non-electric. VERY intrigued! Have any of your tried the “Wonderbag“? If so, I want to know what you think!
- Electric wine opener (a gift from my brother who knows my love of wine!)
- TWO electric knives – these are amazing when we preserve sweet corn into the freezer corn that we eat all year. This is how we do it: TUTORIAL
- Food processor. But ours is terrible. Do you have a good one your recommend? This one needs to go!
So what is in your kitchen? What could you do without? What are you absolutely in love with?
This is the third post in the cloth diaper series that features several cloth diapering families sharing about their stash and experience using cloth diapers.
Stash #1 post: HERE
Stash #2 post: HERE
As we prepare to adopt our first child, we’ve had such varied reactions when I tell friends and family our intent to cloth diaper. Responses range from “Oh, that’s awesome!” to “Gross, why would you want to do that?” We’ve even had some family members make bets on how long we’ll last with cloth diapers. 🙂 For us, the cost savings, health benefits for the baby, environmental impact, and cuteness factor all played into our decision to use cloth diapers. And, honestly, we’re excited to do this!
Modern cloth diapers have a long way from the days of rubber pull-on pants! These days, options range from the most cost effective option of flats & modern covers, DIY, or even all-in-one options similar to disposables. I’ve asked some guests to share their experiences with cloth diapers. Stashes and cloth diapering experiences can vary widely so this will give you a chance to peek into several options.
Oh! And before I forget, are you following me on Facebook? If not, you should!
You can find Simply Driftless HERE on Facebook. 🙂
Stash #3: Meet Skylean Dawes, a cloth diapering mother of two. She’s been cloth diapering for 4 months.
Me: why did you decide to cloth diaper?
Skylean: I began using cloth diapers simply because I wanted to. I threw around the idea for about 6 months after my daughter got a bleeding rash from being in a Pampers disposable for an hour. I started doing research and came upon cloth diapers and saw how simple it could be.
Me: what cloth diaper system or styles do you use?
Skylean: At first, I use receiving blankets that I got from my baby shower. So they were 100% free! I used cloth “diaper covers” that came with some of her dresses to make sure they were held on. When I had a little bit of money to spend on them I went on eBay and got a few “pocket diapers” for less than $1.50 each, and I use those as covers, so she doesn’t feel wet when we go out. We also had some Gerber prefolds given to us that I use as well, but they are not as absorbent.
Me: how does your system work for you?
Skylean: I fold the receiving blankets to fit and put one of the diaper covers on to hold it in place. Perfect for daytime! You know right when they wet so you can change immediately. Going out and night time I put a waterproof cover on so nothing gets wet if I have to wait a few minutes to change.
Photo below: two waterproof covers, one prefold diaper, and a stack of receiving blankets.
Me: how do you store them?
Skylean: I just keep them in the top drawer of her dresser. Simple and easy!
Me: what is your washing system?
Skylean: When washing I just wash everything like it is normal laundry. There are some crazy instructions out there. They are super dirty, so they get super clean! I dunk and swish in the toilet if there is poo. I wash with Gain Apple Mango Tango (smells awesome) and dry in the dryer. Fold and put away! (Rebecca’s note – this works because Skylean is using cotton receiving blankets and prefold diapers. If you have waterproof covers with PUL and elastic, you may want to do some research on washing methods to preserve the life of your diaper, like air-drying.)
Me: Lastly, can you give me an idea of cost for your stash (either total or per child)
Skylean: I probably spent a total of $10 for everything.
Me: Any last thoughts?
Skylean: Buy used! They are easy to sanitize, and you can get new quality for half price. Using cloth diapers is not anything like what it was 100 years ago. It is so simple, anybody can do it! There are so many options out there everybody can find something that works for them. It is extremely budget friendly. I never have to buy another diaper, even if I have more children!
Interested in learning more about budget friendly diapers like Skylean mentioned in this post? These tutorials show you how to make an absorbent diaper out of an old cotton t-shirt or how to fold receiving blankets to use as diapers. If you need more absorbency, use an old wash cloth, bed sheet, or kitchen towel (cotton is most absorbent). You can often get these items from around your house or a local thrift store. Just make sure to wash them several times using hot water without any detergent so you “strip” them of build-up and old detergent. This makes them more absorbent and safer for Baby’s bottom.
No Sew T-Shirt Diapers.
Folding Receiving Blankets Into Diapers, video tutorial. YouTube has a bunch of great videos on this!
Yes, the simple cotton flannel receiving blankets, like I’ve shown in the photo below, can be great flat diapers! The benefit of flats is their ease in washing, flexibility to customize the diaper fold style to fit your child correctly, and their low price (I’m willing to guess you either have some sitting around or could find them inexpensively at the local thrift store, making them free!)
Stay tuned for more in this cloth diaper series! If you have questions or thoughts about cloth diapers, please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometime in February I’ll do a Q&A post that covers the types of diapers a little more in-depth, as well as trying to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!