Posted in Apartment Living, Baby Life

Keep it or Sell it? Which Baby Gear is Worth the Space? (1-6 Months)

Having a baby almost two years ago I quickly learned that there are a million baby products out there! Yet, living in an apartment and moving around every few years really puts a limit on what products I choose to use and how long I keep them.

I choose to buy high-quality products and resell many of them so that I don’t have to store them. But the best ones I keep or plan on repurchasing with the birth of my second. Here is my list of the best of the best baby products for babies 1-6 months old.

  1. Happiest Baby on the Block Book- As a first-time parent I was really unsure how to soothe my baby, what kind of schedule they should be on, and what kinds of sleep schedules and behaviors were normal. This book provides a lot of practical ideas and a guide to sleep-training which was really helpful for me. I loved this book and will keep referring to it with my next baby.

    I bought mine used and it was worth every penny I paid and more!

    I read it and put post-it notes on pages with practical tips I wanted to remember when my son got to new stages of development. I went back to look things up all the time.
4moms MamaRoo Baby Swing 

2. Mamaroo 4 Moms This swing doesn’t require a ton of space compared to several baby swings on the market and mimics the motion of standing and bouncing a baby in your arms. It’s another place to set your baby down when you need to free up your hands and in my opinion, replaces the need for a bouncer. It calms your baby offering modes like a car ride, rock-a-bye, wave, etc. My son loved it and I’m hoping my next baby will too!

I used this multiple times per day until my son began to roll over.

Due to the high price point of this item, I highly recommend buying this swing used on a site like Craig’s List, Offer Up, or from a gently used baby items store. I purchased mine for $80 and plan on reselling it at a similar price point when my baby outgrows it. The basic models with buttons instead of a screen and without blue tooth work well too, they’re just older models.

Caution- the model with just a knob (4moms rockaRoo Baby Swing) only rocks the baby front to back, not up and down and side to side. I have not tried this model, but I feel the magic of this device is in the up and down bouncing motion so I made sure to find a model allowing this motion.

Delta Bedside Bassinet

3. Delta Bassinet- While I’m sure many bassinets would be great, this one is simple, fits a Dock-A-Tot, and has wheels that allow it to easily be rolled around. Most of the fabric pieces detach easily making it simple to throw in the washer to clean and sanitize before your baby arrives.

I used it at least two times a day for naps and overnight sleeping.

I purchased it used on Offer Up for $20 but they are inexpensive new on Amazon too.

baby item
Fisher Price Rock N’ Play

4. Rock and Play- It was convenient to keep this device in our living room for our son to nap in. It folds easily and is especially helpful for babies who struggle with acid reflux and need to sleep slightly upright. It is not recommended for naps or nighttime sleep, but I do know several people who swear it is the only place their child would sleep well. Sadly due to accidents with this device, they are no longer sold new. We never felt ours was unsafe, but I understand safety concerns were the reason they are no longer sold.

I used mine 2-3 times a day for naps.

We received ours as a gift and plan on continuing to use it, but they are now only sold used.

5. Dock a Tot Deluxe – This baby lounger is easy to transport when you go on vacation or on day trips and want to keep your baby’s sleep space as similar as possible. What sold me on this device was how well my son slept in it and how much it looked like some of the pads the hospital used in the NICU to keep our son comfortable after his birth. I also think it may have helped keep him from getting flat head spots that many infants now struggle with. I would recommend looking for one in a darker color to help you avoid staining and to consider looking for a cover so that you never have to wait on laundry at bedtime if your baby wets through it earlier in the day.

I used mine every night in our bassinet.

I purchased mine used for $70 and know that because the demand for these is high they are easy to turn around and resell when your baby outgrows them. If you are adamant about buying one new, Sierra Trading Post’s Dock-A-Tot is the cheapest I’ve ever seen one new.

An FYI and Caution- The Dock-A-Tot Grand can be used for longer, but in our experience, our baby didn’t need this after he outgrew our Deluxe. As soon as he outgrew the bassinet we moved this lounger to his crib to help him with the transition.

6. Sound Machine– White noise soothes young babies and becomes an easy sleep cue for wherever your baby, whether it be at home or away on a trip. Fans work well too, just aren’t as portable. Aps on phones also work, but then monopolize your cell phone when you may want to be using it.

I used one at least every night and multiple times daily for naps as my son started to bothered by outside noise.

We bought our first on Amazon and really liked its small size, quality white noise, and ease of use. Just make sure to put it in a carry-on if you travel with it so it doesn’t get broken!

7. Love to Dream: Swaddle Up Stage 1 and Stage 2- Swaddling seemed to comfort our son, but he kept fighting to break his arms free from traditional swaddles. He loved to suck on his hand and this allowed him access to his hands while still enjoying the comfort of being swaddled. The Stage 2 Swaddle, allows you to take the sleeves off of the larger swaddle as your baby starts to turn over.

We used these swaddles at least once a day for nighttime sleep, and sometimes multiple times a day for naps. Having an extra of each swaddle was helpful when our baby wet through the swaddle during sleep.

We received the Stage 1 swaddle as a gift and purchased another and then one Stage 2 swaddle. I have seen some sold used, but not often. We used this enough to justify buying new and plan on buying at least 1 or two more for our next baby.

8. Changing Table

We bought our changing table and a changing pad used for $30. Ours was simple, but fairly compact, which is great because it fit in half of our son’s closet, saving us some space.

I use this at least 5 times a day and am still using it for my 18-month-old son. However, he’ll soon be too tall for our table so if you have room for a longer one or to buy a longer dresser that doubles as your changing table that could be a good future investment.

9. Diaper Pail/Garbage- I currently use a stainless steel garbage can with a foot pedal that opens the lid. It worked great until my son began eating solid food and his diapers really started to stink. Every time we open that lid, a waft of nasty smells almost knocks me over and stinks up my son’s room. I haven’t purchased my dream garbage yet, but from my research, I put an Ubbi Steel diaper pail on my registry, and with the birth of my next baby hope to receive it as a gift and plan on purchasing it if we don’t. It’s spendy, but I think it will be worth the investment. It doesn’t require special garbage bags and people using it seem to really love it.

I use my garbage at least 10 times a day with a newborn and around 5 or 6 times a day now that I have my toddler.

10. Bottle Warmer- I mostly breastfed, but as I pumped, I froze my milk and used hot water to thaw out my milk when I wasn’t present to feed my son. While this worked, I think a warmer would have helped me not have to worry so much about thinking an hour ahead to defrost frozen breast milk. I really only used this a few times before I quit nursing, but it was nice.

I’m excited to try this with formula too, although my son wasn’t picky about having warm bottles, so we just used slightly warm tap water.

I purchased a used Phillips bottle warmer for $10 on Offer Up.

11. Breast pump and Hands-Free Pumping Bra- If you are able or want to breastfeed it’s extremely helpful to be able to pump, not only so that you are able to get away, but also to help increase your milk supply so that you can build up a reserve if you plan on going on vacation or need to get away for an evening or even a few days.

I used mine at least 4 times per day for the first 6 months of my baby’s life and at least a few times a day until my son was 1.

I got mine on a website provided by my insurance, but according to Amazon, this is a model that is FSA or HSA eligible. Note that the bra I referred to above was great for my first baby, but I think I may end up needing a larger one this time around and plan on trying out this Bravado Hands-Free bra. I will let you know how it goes!

12. Baby Mat: It doesn’t need to be fancy or even have lights and sound. Your baby will love reaching up for objects and trying to turn over on these mats.

I used my mat at least a few times a day for a few months.

I bought one used on Offer Up for $5 and have seen them for $10 at gently used baby item stores.

What products were/are your favorites for babies 1-6 months old? With a second baby due in August, I’d love to know what products have made your mamma life easier.

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Seasonal Decor

Interchangeable Decor- Winter Craft Ladder

Grey January is a hard month for me. Living in Oregon means beautiful vegetation, but grey days most of the winter. So I needed a little crafting to get me feeling like my old self again. I’m so glad I was able to think ahead in December and purchase a few winter ornaments to use this January. Being creative always lifts my spirits!

Even though Valentine’s stuff is up in most stores by now, many of the Dollar Trees and craft stores are still clearancing off winter decor and so you can still get your hands on winter ornaments to inspire your own winter crafting.

Because I love to make things I can utilize for a long time and crafts that are not too time-intensive or expensive, my paint stick craft ladder has been a lot of fun. I found Melanie’s blog while looking for Dollar Tree inspired crafts and she has a ton of fun, practical, and inexpensive craft ideas. I made my ladder a bit smaller than hers in part due to my lack of precision when making my ladder, but honestly in an apartment sometimes smaller is better when it comes to decor.

I decorated the ladder with Christmas tree ornaments that I found at Dollar Tree that felt more Wintery than Christmasy. Evergreen garland, bells, snowy trees, snowmen, lanterns, ice skates, etc. are all free game for January decor in my mind. Or you could mix and match with Valentine’s day since it is coming quickly too.

Consider adding one of your ornaments to a simple green wreath like this one I purchased from Hobby Lobby a year and a half ago. Enjoy!

Snowman Wreath
Snowman Wreath

Posted in Deals!, What a deal!

JCPenney Groupon- Family Pictures for $30

There are often Groupons for JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch which offer 3 digital images and one standard print, for around $30! What a deal!

But I want you to get the best pictures and not get pressured into buying more than you actually want, so maybe my experience can help you out . . .

My JCP Experience

When you go in, depending on the studio and time of year, you may go in to find a single person running the studio or various employees. I bought this Groupon twice, so the first time I went in, only one employee was there.

She was professional, enthusiastic, and kind. She asked us about the occasion, props, and backgrounds, and then began posing my 1-year-old son. She was interrupted a time or two with a phone call and greeting the customers who showed up just 15 minutes after I arrived. But, I was the first appointment of the day, so I didn’t have to wait much. The reviews I read online beforehand proved to be correct about wait times, as the family just after me ended up waiting about 30 minutes for their shoot to begin. With young children, that could easily be the difference between good and bad photos! So, if choose to use their service, I would say try to 1. be the first appointment of the day.

I have dabbled in photography so I had opinions about what I wanted. She used a lot of her own props and took some pictures with mine-which included a cowboy hat and a wooden horse (probably influenced by my current Heartland obsession). The pictures turned out pretty good, but I do have some regrets. Here’s why.

The Pressure was on . . .

Crawling Cowboy

At the end of the shoot, there were really only four print-worthy pictures of my son. He is one after all and several of the pictures she took he had his eyes closed or was taking off his hat, so honestly, four great pictures are a victory in my book. The issue for me was that after the shoot, they had me wait a minute while they loaded the pictures and put a few collages together. Then she took me to the computer to view all the photos and asked which ones I liked. I told her and let her know I had a Groupon. She then broke down several picture packages that could be added on top of the Groupon I purchased.

I clarified with her what mine included and it included 3 high-resolution digital images and a print in the size of my choice. This should’ve been enough for my four good pictures, but as she stood there waiting for me to choose my favorites I was a bit nervous and felt pressure to choose quickly. But what if inadvertently missed a good picture of my son? I wanted to view the pictures on my own. So, 2. Ask for a moment to view the pictures on your own.

But what about the poor family stuck waiting on me to decide? They couldn’t get their shoot started until she finished with me. After offering me other much more expensive packages she offered me a digital package with all the rights to the images for $80. It wasn’t bad, but I had already paid $30 for a Groupon, which in the heat of the moment I forgot.

So I paid for access to all the photos. $80 wasn’t that bad, but I was frustrated realizing that if I had just taken a moment to think about it, and not be pressured, I could have paid $30 and had all the photos I needed.

After knowing the drill, I got a discount on the same Groupon, so we went back for family photos. I am proud to say that for the second round I was strong and just stuck to the package included with our Groupon and you know what? They took pictures of all of us and a few of just my son!

One-year-old pictures

3. Know that if you do family pictures, they will take individual photos of each person, you and your spouse, and even some of just your kids. So, if I were to do it again. . . I would do family photos and skip the one-year-old pictures since they will take individual photos anyway! If you do that, $30 really is an incredible deal! I just assumed there would be extra sitting fees, but there weren’t!

Buy the Groupon & Be Strong!

You can save even more when Groupon runs discounts of up to up to 25% off the purchase of certain Groupons. So if you need family pictures . . . it is a great value! Good luck and happy picture taking!

Have you ever found yourself getting talked into something? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Shock Christmas Family Photos
Christmas Family Photo
Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Dollar Tree Finds

Farm Chic Berry Flat Spice Rack

A little under a year ago I had just had my son and was cruising Offer Up for used items. I was interested in pallet-based projects but was intimidated by the size of pallets and my lack of tools. At the time I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them but was thinking of using them either as shelving, for a spice rack, or even as a mug holder. The plan was to paint them white or grey for a cleaner look.

But as I started working with them and saw the names of the farms on them, I didn’t want to lose that detail. So I decided to sand them a bit, put a few coats of lacquer on them and make them into a cute and practical spice rack.

Along the way, I did have to give up some of my pie in the sky ideas about how it would fit 40 spices and possibly have room to hang items from the bottom. I definitely had to realize that it would also be quite a bit more costly to make then I had previously imagined as well.

I won’t give you an in-depth break down of the process and costs involved in making this, but I will outline a few steps below along with where I purchased the items I used in putting it all together if you’re interested in giving it a go. I hope you can learn from some of my mistakes and make yours even better.

And if you can’t find somewhere to purchase berry flats, the lady I bought them from is still selling them! But if you have to ship them from Oregon it could be a little costly, so you should just drive up here and make a trip of it! Seriously, Oregon really is a beautiful place, and especially green in the winter.

But I would love some recommendations on labels for my spices. I had considered printing my own using my Cricut and vinyl, but with how small I want the lettering, weeding those out would be pretty rough. So do you know anyone that sells cute labels? Any cute ideas on making my own? After all the work I put into this spice rack I really want my labels to be awesome.

Materials Needed:

Rough Breakdown- Making the Spice Rack

I measured the flats to see if they would fit above my stove. Thankfully they are a perfect fit! These flats are 25 X 17 inches and 3 inches deep.

berry flats
berry flat

I sketched an idea of how many spices I wanted it to hold and wanted some of the rack to use magnets to hold more spices. It could potentially hold 36 if you used the top portion, with the spices placed upside down (as shown in the picture below). But without using the top it holds 28 spices.

pallet spice rack

Sanded off some grime and painted on pre-stain wood conditioner. This was supposed to help give me a universal color as old wood can have inconsistencies from wear and tear. I honestly don’t know if it was necessary but it may have helped.

I painted the berry flat with 3 coats of clear, glossy varnish. I would recommend a matte finish, but glossy is what I had on hand.

It took a week or so for the varnish smell to fully dissipate, so give yourself a little time.

I then marked the flats with a grey permanent marker where I wanted the hooks.

pallet, tools, gloss

I screwed in bronze hooks. Because the hooks went through the thin pallets and I couldn’t cheaply or easily purchase #4, bronze, 1/4 inch screws, I used what came with the hooks (1/2 inch screws) and just added paint stirring sticks to the back. It’s not classy, but it was less expensive and functional. This made it more difficult to hang later and doesn’t look as nice, but it works! I have a few more pallets if I want to make another.

I screwed in strong magnets that claim they can hold up to 26 pounds each! I’m not sure about that, but they are amazing at holding up my spice jars.

I bought 3 different kinds of jars until I got mostly what I wanted in a spice jar. I bought small mason jars with handles from Dollar Tree, mini mason jars, and wedding favor jars from Michaels although these glass jars from Hobby Lobby Lobby are the closest thing I could find to what I used.

I ended up using the lids from the mini mason jars on my Dollar Tree jars and the small jars for spices and items I don’t use as much of.

I used 8 Command picture hanging strips from Amazon to hang it above my stove. I was very skeptical, but it is working amazingly well. I’m sure with jars and all my spice rack is at least 16 pounds and those velcro-like strips are doing an awesome job!

Don’t forget to give me some suggestions on cute labels for these jars. This project took so much time and effort, I want to finish it off with some cute labels for my spices.

Posted in Apartment Living, Baby Life, Crafts, Seaside Nursury

Ship’s Wheel Clock

Items Needed:

  • 2 Furniture Scratch Markers -Mahagony Colored or whatever finish you prefer- Dollar Tree
  • 8 wood finials, 3/8″ Hole – 15/16″ x 2 7/8″ – Hobby Lobby
  • Tacky glueDollar Tree
  • Polyurethane Varnish: satin/clear Wheeler Dealer or clear Polyurethane Spray Varnish- available at most craft and retail stores
  • Wood clock (9 inches) – Purchase at a yard sale or second-hand store
  • Sponge paintbrush to apply the varnish- craft store
  • Drill
  • 5/8″ brad-point bit (smaller will work if you’re willing to put in extra time and effort)
  • Parchment paper and tape for covering the clock face when painting or spraying

My son’s room is decorated with pirate/ocean decor and I’ve been looking for fun ways to continue to decorate it. But living in an apartment I struggle to have enough room for decorations, so I’ve tried to make decorations which serve more practical purposes. Since I’m not particularly good with dates and times clocks, are especially practical to have nearby. I try to keep one in every room so that I can glance up and know how much time I have before I need to run off to my next adventure.

So when I got the idea to make a clock into a ship’s wheel I matched it to the mahogany-colored furniture in his room. Low on craft money, I used the furniture scratch marker instead of buying stain (although stain would work well too). Then I covered the marker with some varnish I had from another craft project. It turned out even better than I imagined! I colored over a pine finish and it covered really well. The wood finials didn’t match perfectly after being colored with the marker, but after applying the varnish I think they looked great!

Mahagony finish after being colored with the furniture marker
Ship Wheel clock for a seaside nursery

So without further ado here are the steps to making your own ship’s wheel clock with Dollar Tree Furniture Scratch Markers.

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Seasonal Decor

Apothecary Jars: 12 Months of Decor- Summer

I love when the sun comes out in full force and it gets my creative juices flowing again! Apothecary jars are a fun and fast way to get your craft on every month for under $5 a month. I fill my jars with items found at Dollar Tree. Take a look at a few summer options below:

For instructions on how to make the jars themselves, follow this apothecary jar tutorial.

For ideas on how to fill them throughout the year check out my other Apothecary Jar posts.

Posted in Apartment Living, Baby Life, Dollar Tree Finds

Dollar Tree Finds: Baby Stuff

Only $3 for all of these incredible baby supplies!
Only $3 for all of these incredible baby supplies!

Our lil‘ Shock is 6 months old and old enough for food! I was thrilled to find some useful baby supplies at Dollar Tree! I purchased this bowl, 12 spoons, and the disposable placemats all for $3 total.

  1. The disposable mats seem like they’d be really handy for when we go out to eat and need something to put our guy’s food onto.
  2. 12 baby spoons will mean I don’t have to stress about having enough spoons for our lil‘ guy.
  3. The bowl suctions to the table so that its harder to push off their tray or the table.

I will get a lot of use out of my $3 worth of baby supplies!

Any other cool baby products you’d recommend for a 6 month old?

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts, Seasonal Decor

Apothecary Jars: 12 Months of Decor-April

Easter is on its way and I thought I’d share what I put in my easy apartment-friendly apothecary jars for April. Check it out!

  • Easter Grass- Green, yellow, pink: Dollar Tree
  • Plastic Carrots with pixie-stick-like candy inside: Dollar Tree
  • Junior Mint Eggs: Dollar Tree
  • Mike and Ikes- Easter Edition: Dollar Tree or Cadbury shiny eggs: Walmart
Easter Apothecary Jars
Easter and Spring Apothecary Jars
Spring Apothecary Jars
Spring Apothecary Jars

Don’t have apothecary jars? Consider filling Mason jars for a similar effect. Want to make apothecary jars similar to mine?

Did you like the look of the Mike and Ikes in the picture above or the shiny Cadbury eggs? Honestly, I was imagining glimmeringly shiny eggs, so the pastel, mildly shiny Cadbury eggs I discovered disappointed me. Ah well! They still tasted as delicious as they always do, so I will enjoy eating them when Easter is over.

Check out what I put in my jars last month for St. Patricks Day.

Posted in Apartment Living, Crafts

12 Months of Holiday Wreaths: St. Patricks Day

I love decorating for seasons and holidays. I also love not having to store a ton of decor since I live in an apartment. Pulling out large bins of decorations can be cumbersome so I’ve been exploring ways to keep decor simple.

So behold! This minimalist wreath is simple, fun, and perfect for St. Patricks Day!

Supplies Needed

  • Wreath- $10 at Hobby Lobby in the floral department
  • Coins- $1 Dollar Tree
  • Leprechaun Hat ripped from the top of a green headband-$1 Dollar Tree.
  • Toothpicks- $1 for two canisters- Dollar Tree
  • Low Temp Glue gun and mini glue sticks
  • Green sharpie

Make the Valentines version of this wreath.

I love St. Patrick’s Day decorations, but it got me thinking . . . I don’t really celebrate this holiday. What do you do for St. Patrick’s Day?