The Tree Grows Leaves

Inspired by your positive comments, I came home after work yesterday and my feet were already aching, but I wanted to get the leaves on the mural so that Jeff could paint the monkey and we could finish up tonight!Here’s the mural with the leaves on, only the monkey left to do now..

Funny how different it looks with the leaves. Seeing it this way I think there are a few places we would have shaped the tree differently, but as our old Antiguan friend Randi used to say “In 9 days you won’t even notice!”

Pics of completed project, monkey and all tomorrow morning..

Mural Progress in the Nursery

When you obsess over the little things like whether or not there should be a monkey in your unborn child’s nursery,  life has a way of shaking you up and making you see reality.

This is what happened Saturday morning when I woke up to some bleeding which spiraled into a whole preterm labor scare that kept me in and out of the labor and delivery wing of the hospital most of the weekend.  After much monitoring, many tests and procedures, things are looking much less dire and even though I’m at risk for preterm labor, I am optimistic that Jasper will hang in there for at least a few more weeks if not even all the way to full term.

I was on mandatory bedrest Saturday, so Jeff took the opportunity to start the process of putting the mural on the wall.

He started by using painter’s tape to sort of map out the general shape and scale:

Blocking out the shape and scale

Jeff in Action

Then he just started free hand sketching with pencil on the wall, until we had a faint outline:

mural sketched on nursery wall

After the ultrasound came back normal yesterday and my bedrest restriction was lifted, I went out and bought the two paint colors I’d picked.  BM brushed aluminum for the tree and BM Wales Green for the leaves.  Last night, we took the plunge and started painting!

The progress we’ve made so far..

There are a few spots where the free hand sketching didn’t work out so well, so we’ll have to go back in with the blue wall color and thin out certain areas of the tree to refine the shape, but overall I’m happy with how it’s coming out.

The brown dots were me testing monkey colors, I haven’t found one I like yet, I think the sample pot of brown I bought is too dark, so I may try just mixing in some white with it.

The colors are growing on me, the brushed aluminum looks a lot more brown than grey, I had wanted a bit more grey, but it’s not so bad it would be worth doing over by any means. The green is actually very close to what I had hoped, it matches the celedon green in the leaves of the bedding quite well.

Hopefully we’ll have a bit more progress to post tomorrow!

Monkey Business

Wow, so yesterday’s post clearly stirred the pot more than I expected. Re reading it does seem like I am totally neurotic and unappreciative.. which I suppose I am to some extent. I just over analyze everything to the point of stagnation, which is the subject of endless frustration for Jeff who is the complete opposite. If it were up to him we’d have free handed a tree (some tree, any tree!) weeks ago!

At any rate, thank you all for pointing slapping some virtual sense into me, I will try to recreate some version of this tree WITH the monkey if at all possible.

Because I am loathe to write any post that doesn’t contain some eye candy, here are some pictures in celebration of the blooming of the rhododendrons:

Rhoddies in bloom make the front door so much more inviting…

Rhoddies in bloom between the deck and the pergola area

Rhoddie “Tree”.. yes aparantly there is a species of rhoddies indiginous to this area that grow so big they are like trees rather than bushes.. and my parents are lucky enough to have one at their house. Isn’t it stunning?

Have a good weekend everyone.. wish us luck should we attempt the mural!

I’ve Been Slacking

Or procrastinating on the nursery tree mural project.

This past weekend I decided that the tree on the wall behind the glider is too much for such a small space.. where we really need it is on the wall behind the crib. All this does is make the project more difficult because instead of a straight up tree, we now need a tree that leans to the left so that the crib doesn’t block the trunk completely. What can I say, I’m full of “great” ideas.

Jeff came up with this design:

He insisted on putting the monkey in the illustrator mock up, but there will be no monkey. Jeff is obsessed with monkeys, and while I have nothing against them, I don’t see how there would be a monkey in an orchard, which is the theme of the nursery (birds, apples trees). This is also the problem I have with the tree he designed, I LOVE it, but  it looks more like an African tree- perfect for a Safari theme – but not so much with the orchard.

So now I don’t know what I want to do. Maybe buy some cool etsy prints and call it a day?

Just about the only thing I got accomplished over the long weekend was that I took all my make up out of the drawers of the cragislist vanity so they could be moved downstairs onto the porch and off of the nursery floor. At least we were pleasantly surprised at how well the vanity functions (without mirror of course) as a little plant/accessories table down on the porch.. that solved my problem of what to do do with it as I really didn’t want to get rid of it alltogether:

The vanity sans mirror, in it’s new home on the porch.

I’m hoping this weekend will be more productive.. but I’m not counting on it given my current lack of motivation. Is it the allergies? The fact that I’m now almost 30 weeks pregnant? I’m not sure, but I only have 10 weeks left for that nesting instinct to kick in before baby comes!

As if we needed further proof that the housing market sucks..

We got this letter in the mail from HSBC:

Dear Ariana & Jeff,

Subject: Home Equity Line of Credit Account

We periodically review Home Equity accounts. As part of that process, an Automated Valuation Model (AVM) showed a mterial decline in your property value since your account was opened. Under the terms of your Line Agreement, we are permitted to suspend your line of credit. Effective immediately, you will no longer be able to advance additional funds on the account.

If your property value increases, you may send a written request for a reinstatement of this account.

We value you as a customer blah blah blah etc etc.

Luckily we don’t need to and didn’t plan to take out more equity (we have a fixed rate HELOC that we used for the 20% of our loan), and I’m not sure why they would have ever given it to us given that what we already have out plus the 80% fixed rate mortgage we have is pretty much exactly what the bank valued our house at… but still, it’s kind of a brutal reality check.

I don’t know why or on what they are basing the “material decline of our property” because when I do a search of housing sales in our area there isn’t a noticeable decline at all. Yes, houses are staying on the market longer but the prices in Rockland County haven’t really dropped all that much that I can discern. We’re  lucky that way I guess, I heard that nearby Westchester has had a 15-20% decline. When you’re never “hot” you can’t get that “cold” either.

The bank also doesn’t know about the upgrades and improvements we’ve done, though they base so much of it on square footage that I’m not sure our upgrades would actually change anything at all.

Sometimes I think we would have been better off renting!

Why I Love My Husband

Because he puts together cribs when I ask him to, even though he’s exhausted after a long day at work.. and he only gets a little mad when I hover over him telling him he’s doing it wrong:

Because he unexpectedly comes home from a trip to home depot with a baby swing, and installs it that same day for our party:

Because he gets excited about things like putting up flower boxes:

Because he is an incredibly talented artist:

Because he’ll stand over a hot grill for 2+ hours without complaint, just because I had to have 3 dozen varieties of grilled vegetables:

Because he’s so wonderful with children that I know our son will be incredibly lucky to have him as a father..

…just like I am incredibly lucky to have him as a husband:

Happy 34th Birthday Baby!!



A few Party Pictures..

Sadly, there are not many. I was so busy putting food out etc I barely got to sit down, let alone snap any pictures, but here are a few:

(As predicted, no one ventured down to the pergola except when the meal was served preferring instead to crowd around our tiny new ikea outdoor set!)

The pergola,  party ready with star string lights from Christmas Tree Shop but very very lonely.

It was a great party, but I’m glad it’s over.  I don’t recommend hosting parties in your third trimester! It really was too much shopping, cleaning & preparing for my whale size body to be able to handle gracefully. Lesson learned ;)

Different Tree Options

Note the new lamp too!

I like the trunk of #2 and the leaves of #1. Figures!

Thanks to you all, I’ve found several companies that do custom decals (I want more control over the color than the premade ones provide)

Reuseable Vinyl Decals from

Regular Vinyl Wall Decals from (they even have some examples of nursery applications)


Or, because I’m a tad bit scared of a 5 foot sticker (Try getting THAT out of your hair!) I discovered that you can buy cheap art projectors (artograph tracers) used for around $30 on ebay capable of enlarging up to 7 feet.

Still deciding..

In the meantime, thank you as usual for your wonderful advice. Have a fabulous weekend and please pray that the weather holds for Jeff’s B’day BBQ tomorrow!

Pictures on Monday…..

I’ve Got a New Plan!

After yesterday’s incoherent blather I decided that rather than post the millions of combinations of bedside tables and curtains that I mocked up in photoshop I will post just the one I think I have decided on and all of it’s elements:

First, I believe that what I reacted to so strongly about the ikea Hemnes bed side table was not actually the table, but the combination of the tall table with that tall skinny spindle lamp on top of it.

Problem solved when I saw this cheerful little lamp from Walmart:

White Ceramic Lamp with Brown Dot Shade, $49 from Walmart 

I think it goes nicely with the bedding (which I placed on the rocker for color reference!)

But, I still love the idea of having more of a bookshelfy type table because there is no space for a real bookshelf.

BTW, it is nearly impossible to do an online search for these little lamp table thingies… they are variously called end tables, accent tables, nightstands, bedside tables, cube storage, storage furniture etc. etc. etc.

Luckily, I finally found this one from Montgomery ward, though I think it’s a bit pricey for what it is:

White “Stackable Storage Cube” from Montgomery Ward, $99.99 

Next, taking advantage of the current sale on window treatments  at JCPenney I couldn’t NOT order these roman shades in soft lime:

JC Penny Savannah Roman Shades, $19.99 each

They seem to be pretty thick so should provide good light blockage, and the lime color will hopefully go nicely with the lime leaves in the bedding pattern:

Of course I won’t know until I see them, but I found a coupon online for free shipping, so no biggie if I have to return them.

The butter color would have worked really well too, but they were sold out:

This wall is the only wall with enough “space” for a mural or decoration.  I had been considering the vintage wallpaper elephant, but it looked silly there when I mocked it up in photoshop…plus it doesn’t really go with the “apple orchard” theme of the bedding.  A tree does though!

I’m a little hesitant after the smooshing & stenciling disasters in the downstairs bathroom to attempt more complicated wall designs.. but I think I can handle this one, if I can just figure out how to project it onto the wall to trace.

Rachel of Waiting in the Capital a fabulous tree mural in her child’s nursery and provided a handy tutorial on how to do it, but it seems a bit complicated using the cardboard box etc.

I work for a university and several of the departments have the projectors that hookup to a laptop, so I may ask if I can borrow one overnight, but I’ll feel ridiculous if they ask me what I need to borrow a $1000 + piece of equipment for… and like I said it’s a university so I would probably be breaking any one of 10,000 university regulations by doing so!

But anyway, I like the symbolism of the tree, and we could even hang little pictures of family members from it, it would have a similar effect to what Famille Summerbelle does with her custom family tree art:

I might want to use a narrower or more simpler tree, and maybe paint the leaves green,  but this is the idea..

Overall, I like the look. The only thing I’m wavering on is if the dot lamp shade looks too busy with the tree behind it. What do you all think?

Ikea Woes and other Rambling Thoughts

I appologize for the project hopping, I realize that I have way too many projects going on at the moment for anyone (including me) to keep straight.

Don’t hate me because I ramble.. I think its “pregnancy brain” or that’s what I’m going to attribute it to anyway.

I’ll start with:

The Nursery and Ikea Woe #1

So after we set up the outdoors to our liking, we got down to putting together some of the other furniture pieces we bought from Ikea. First Jeff finished the Hemnes dresser for the nursery that I love:

And the Hemnes bedside table that I thought would make a good little side table for a lamp next to the glider. But I hate it with a passion:

It’s too tall ans skinny. I want something a little bit more modern too to go with the crib which is on order (coming next week). Here’s a pic of it with our same bedding in someone else’s similar nursery:

I just want something really simple, cheap and slightly modern. Any ideas?


I posted before about window treatments and haven’t really made up my mind yet. I found an etsy seller that puts digital prints on roller shades (such a good idea!) and I like this one alot:

Cattail Reed Print Roller shade from Etsy Seller Drinkanddream 

That got me thinking, couldn’t we design our own little print or silhouette and have it printed by some website on a shade? But this custom roller shade business is something that though quite popular in the UK, hasn’t caught on in the US yet.  Plus, it’s pretty expensive. Do you think we could just use acrylic paints on any old roller shade and get the same effect? Might be worth experimenting with if we can find really really cheap shades that we don’t mind ruining!

Speaking of which, I randomly came across this image that was in Domino Mag’s paint color inspiration gallery. It struck me because the wall color is almost the same as ours and they use the vintage wallpaper decals I posted about before!

But what really struck me about this picture is the black and white striped chair and the shades with the black butterflies on it (where did they find these, was it DIY?) ! It got me thinking of how cool black and white or brown and white would look in the nursery which made me think, naturally, of zebra rugs!

I like this one from Urban Outfitters as mocked up by me in the nursery in photoshop:

But I know from experience that Urban’s cotton rugs aren’t really very “rug like”. They are more like thick cotton blankets you lay on the floor.

Anyway, sorry for that digression. I guess my point about all this, is has anyone custom painted or printed on a roman or roller shade? Those butterflies seem like they could have been stenciled on.  Surprisingly, a google search didn’t turn up much about such a DIY project.

The Office – Ikea Woe #2

I put together one of the 2 Ikea Mickael drawer units on casters that we bought.. remember project office?

And quickly realized three things

1) We could put one of them together with no back and just one drawer and make a really good CPU holder!

2) The freakin files hang from the left to the right instead of the front to the back so you get about half the file storage that you think you are going to get.

3) Some of the screws were defective.

#3 was quite annoying. This has actually never happened to me in all my years of Ikea construction. There are all these little screws meant to hold on the metal tracks that go on the side of the drawers and 3 of them were too small, smaller than the hole in the drawer tracks so that they obviously wouldn’t stay on. This necessitated us opening the other box and stealing screws from it, so now I only have one completed new file cabinet in the office!

Technically we don’t NEED the screws re robbed from file cabinet #2 because we were only planning on using one drawer anyway due to our CPU holder plan, but, as I pointed out to Jeff we should return it anyway so that we have the option of putting in the other two drawers in the future.


But anyway, even the addition of the one cabinet to the left of the desk was quite an improvement over before:

Office before Mikael drawers 

Office with One Mikael drawer..

You may notice we took up the rug.. remember how I said the urban outfitters rugs were really thin? This one just kept getting in the way as the office chair would roll into it, the dog would snuggle up in it and it would bunch up and overall it just was making the space more crowded. It’s currently in the closet.

But anyway, even the one Mikael unit adds something I think, I have our modem and a bunch of wires hidden behind it. Plus it makes the desk feel bigger which I like.

We  haven’t yet hung the black and white curtains, which I think should add a bit of punch to the room OR found a good white desk as a replacement for the brown one. Actually, I did find the perfect CHEAP white desk ($99!) at the Christmas Tree Shop in Paramus, but it was the floor model and all scratched up. The CTS closer to home didn’t have the same one. So sad, I should probably try to phone around and locate another one.

At long last the end of my ramble.. baby steps are being made, but no earth shattering progress.
If you have any suggestions for the roller shade project or cute (more modern looking?) side table for the nursery, please let me know!