It’s that time of year again! We’re about a week into summer and I’ve got a few things planned to try and cross off this year’s Summer Bucket List. I always end up adding to my list as the season progresses, but this year I decided something that might help with some of my creative endeavors would be to split my list into two sections: projects and experiences. I had hoped to finish Lillian’s bear cross stitch two summers ago before she was even born, so here’s hoping third summer’s a charm :’D
Have you made a bucket list for this summer? What have you got planned? If you want a free Summer Bucket List printable, be sure to check out my friend Kara’s summer bucket list where you can find a beautiful one ready just for you!
All photos within this post taken by Kara Hanes Photography
You may have already come across Baby Bijou Designs on Instagram or Facebook, but I thought it was time I officially introduced you here. To do so, I thought it would be fun to answer a series of questions about my business below.
1. For starters, what exactly is Baby Bijou Designs?
Baby Bijou Designs is a company I started that is named after my daughter’s nickname, Baby Bijou (more about the fun story behind her nickname can be found by clicking here!). I create original designs for baby clothing and nursery decor, often incorporating my love of travel and my experiences from living in Japan into my work.
2. What has been your favorite part of having your own company so far?
I think I actually have a few favorite parts so far. The first would be that I can work my schedule around my daughter’s schedule, and also that I get to be creative in my business. The second would be all of the collaboration that is possible with Baby Bijou Designs. I do a lot of custom work, which has included everything from custom-designed clothing (for babies, children and adults) to custom frames, mats, prints and more. It is really fun to be able to not only personalize designs I create, but to work with others to make their original ideas into a reality as well.
3. What are some of your goals for your business?
My biggest goal for Baby Bijou Designs is just to continue having fun with it. It is super exciting to create items I love, and even more exciting when I get feedback that shows other people also enjoy my work. Getting to see babies wearing clothing I create just makes me swoon, though I must admit I’m especially biased when my daughter dons Baby Bijou Designs! Eventually I’d like to save for my own camera so that I can learn to take better pictures for both my business and for my blog, but in the meantime I just hope to keep getting the word out there that Baby Bijou Designs is here and that I’m always up for collaboration!
4. Where can we learn more about how you got started and why you chose to work from home and for yourself?
You can read all about how I decided to leave my part time job and what starting my business was like by checking out my guest post on the lovely Kara Hanes Photography Blog. I talk about launching the business and how things are going so far – be sure to check it out and leave me some advice!
5. Where can we find Baby Bijou Designs online?
Please feel free to peruse my Etsy shop at babybijoudesigns.etsy.com, and follow Baby Bijou Designs on Instagram and Facebook as well!
Baby Bijou Designs on Instagram
Baby Bijou Designs on Facebook
Thank you for letting me share about my business with you. I’d love to hear from you – what would you love to see from Baby Bijou Designs? What are your favorites in the shop so far? Also, please enjoy 10% off anything in the Baby Bijou Designs shop with the code BIJOUTHANKSYOU before June 30th, 2017!
My daughter loves butterflies, so today I decided to make a simple butterfly wall hanging for her based on this pin I found on Pinterest. I can’t find the origin of the pin as the link no longer works, so I just decided to create my own version and share it with you here.For the base of the wall hanging, I saved a cool stick Lillian found on one of our walks, which I think adds an extra personal touch. From there I cut out a few different butterfly shapes in three shades of pink to create a bit of an ombre look (I used my cricut to cut my butterflies, but you could do them by hand if you have more patience than me!). Other supplies I grabbed to use were string, little eyelets I had leftover from my DIY Jewelry Holder craft, double-sided tape, and scissors.I started by arranging my butterflies in a way I thought looked nice, and then I added little bitty pieces of the double-sided tape to the middle of the backs. Then I added different lengths of string to each set of butterflies before putting the eyelets in place on the stick.From there I just knotted the strings of butterflies to the respective eyelets, added two more eyelets on top of the stick, and tied a string on each of the top two eyelets for hanging the decoration up!For months we’ve been singing songs about butterflies, searching for them outdoors (or at Frederik Meijer Gardens when they were “in bloom”), and looking at them in pictures and books. We even did a cute butterfly hand print craft a few months ago, and I added some pretty butterfly stickers from our local craft store to the wall in her room, which I think actually look really nice (pictures below)! Now we have one more sweet little butterfly decoration for her room, and it was made completely with supplies I had on hand in less than an hour. I call that a win!Have you made any fun and easy decorations lately?
We were super excited to enroll Lillian in a swim class recently taking place at the David D. Hunting YMCA location in Grand Rapids. At $84 for a seven week class, we knew it was a little pricey, but we thought it would be worth it for Lillian to have some daddy-daughter time doing something she loves: being in the water! I’d like to share about our experience in the class in case you’re looking into doing something similar, just so you can be prepared for what it might be like!
Pros: Every week, we got to look forward to Lillian’s special time with daddy in the pool. She was allowed to come early, so she could also free play independently before the class started. The instructor sang some active songs with the children that had fun motions in the water, like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Ring Around the Rosie” (replacing “ashes, ashes” with “splashes, splashes”). When there was a substitute instructor, she taught parents how to get in and out of the pool safely with their child. The regular instructor also tried to work on getting children used to going under water and swimming on their backs (which Lillian hated, but was still a good experience!). At the end of the class she got a little certificate of completion.
Cons: The class was supposed to be thirty minutes, from 6:10-6:40, but ended at least five minutes early every class. When you’re paying $84 for a class, you really want to get your money’s worth and have every minute you’re promised! Also, the instructor (and all of the instructors we saw) was generally very unenthusiastic, often telling the parents what to do and then staring off in the distance while parents and children completed the task. Maybe as a former teacher myself my expectations are too high, but I thought the instructor would interact more with the parents and children while they were doing each activity. I also thought the instructor would at least fake some excitement when teaching the class and when saying hello and goodbye to the parents, but it really just seemed like the instructor was bored and didn’t want to be there.
Additionally, the family restrooms were almost always dirty, so I didn’t feel super comfortable getting Lillian changed in them. Lastly, despite contacting several staff members in advance about having to miss a lesson due to a family trip and asking if we could do a make-up lesson, not a single person returned my phone call or got back to me in any way.
Conclusion: Ultimately, I’m glad we had the experience of doing swim lessons with Lillian, but I’m even more glad that it’s summer and she can now play in a pool at home. Until she’s a little older, we’d like to do swimming with her without a structured class. When we think she’s ready to start learning more skills than we can teach her, we would like to take a trial lesson before joining another class (which our YMCA location does not offer). I think the next class we might try will be a tumbling class, but somewhere else.
I hope this review was helpful to you, and would love to know: Have you ever taken your child to any classes like swimming? What was your experience like? Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear from you!
Sometimes when I scour the internet to find books on certain themes for my daughter Lillian, I never quite find what I’m looking for. In fact, I often come across books by chance after all my searching just walking through the library or the store. In case you’re sometimes doing similar investigating, I decided to start a series on books that Lillian is reading lately from her bookshelf at home or from the library. Today I’d like to share three really wonderful books on the seasons.
- Inside Outside by Lizi Boyd
This delightful picture book starts and ends in winter time, transitioning through the seasons on each page, alternating with scenes indoors and outdoors. There are endless details to point out on each page, from the fun the boy has inside (like hanging up pictures, making sailboats, or reading books under a little teepee), to his outside projects (like building snowmen, planting a garden or making a tree house). My daughter just loves listening to me point out things, and she also likes the little peek-a-boo cuts on each page that give a glimpse into something on the previous and next page.
- I am a Bunny by Richard Scarry
In this book, you’ll follow the bunny Nicholas as he tells you his favorite things to do in each season. My favorite thing about this book is the beautiful and detailed illustrations. Though less jam-packed with things to point out than Inside Outside, there is still plenty to talk about while you enjoy the rich illustrations with your child. You can count the butterflies Nicholas tries catching in the spring, see a jumping frog and dewdrops in the summer, spot all the colors in the falling leaves in the autumn, spot Nicholas’ snow tracks leading back to his hollow tree home in the winter and more.
- Baby Loves Summer! by Karen Katz
For the last book, I’d actually like to recommend a small series of books by Karen Katz. These four lift-the-flaps books go through the seasons joyfully as you turn each page (and lift each flap) to discover the fun each season has to offer. These books are really great to read during each season because they have so many things you can point out to your child when you go outdoors (butterflies and tulips in the spring, the big yellow sunshine in the summer, yummy apple pie in the fall and a snowman in the winter, etc). Lily and I have a lot of fun reading these books together!I hope you found some books on seasons that you haven’t read before with your child, and would love to hear any favorites your family has (about seasons or in general!). If you have any suggestions for future themes, please leave a comment, too!
Sometimes you just have a string of days (or heck, weeks!) that just leave you in a funk. Maybe it’s not that things are all that bad…they’re just not great. Maybe you just don’t have energy, or time, or the weather has been crummy. Or things are just leaving you feeling low in general. Recently I had a brief bout of hyperthyroidism that left me feeling fatigued and with achy muscles. I was so tired every day and felt guilty for not being more energetic with my daughter and for not doing enough around the house. Somehow after only a couple of months, the hyperthyroidism resolved itself (yeah, what?), and though I was confused about the whole thing, I decided not to linger too much on the why and just be extra grateful!
I really love this quote from Alan Spence’s The Pure Land. It’s been nearly ten years since I read this romantic adventure based on a true story about the modernization of Japan, but I jotted down this quote when I read it and still really like it today. Enjoy a printable of the quote by clicking here for a PDF or by clicking directly on the image to download, and remember this quote, too: “If something is rubbing so hard against you, you can be sure it’s working on you.” -Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love
Have a good day, lovelies!
So last summer I decided I wanted to make a pretty floral letter “L” for Lillian’s room, and this spring I finally got around to making it! (Oh gosh, I guess that’s how projects go sometimes when you’re a new parent!) I decided I would try to approach this project in a similar fashion to the beautiful autumn wreath I made a few years ago (oh, and the pretty little wreath my niece and I made together!).
First I gathered my supplies: a foam letter “L” from the craft store, flowers from the dollar store, a glue gun and hot glue, scissors, floral wire cutters, craft paper and ribbon. Then I removed the flowers and some of the leaves from the stems using my wire cutters and scissors.
Originally I started wrapping the ribbon around my letter in the same way I did with the wreaths I made, but I became kind of impatient fast because it was harder to do on a letter than on a round wreath. It occurred to me that the front of the “L” would be covered in flowers, and you wouldn’t ever see ribbon on the back of the letter, anyway. Then I thought, why not just trace the letter onto paper and glue the paper on the back? And that’s what I did.
After getting the paper glued to the back of my letter, I made a general arrangement of where I wanted certain colors in bunches before I began to glue them on with my hot glue gun.
Then I added leaves to a few places in the arrangement, adding additional leaves all around the edges of the letter in case any foam was showing.
The back isn’t perfect, but who is going to see the back? I mean, you’re obviously seeing it now, but you get my point 😉 I used a picture hanging strip to on the back to attach the letter to the wall when I was finished (just like with my DIY jewelry holder.) And voila! A beautiful floral letter “L” for my sweet daughter’s room. This project only took me a little over an hour, and was so inexpensive and easy (especially when I decided not to mess with the ribbon!). Let me know if you try this project, and if you’ve made any other cool letter projects!
For many years I’ve kept my jewelry in a cosmetic travel bag. I think a big part of my reasoning was that I was always going to be moving again, so I didn’t want to bother with jewelry holders. Eventually though, enough was enough, and I decided it was finally time to pull my jewelry out of the travel bag. Inspired by a pricey (but super nice) jewelry holder, I decided to make my own. I went to the Salvation Army and bought an old $4.00 picture frame as my base. Then I bought some cup hooks, eyelets and cork board and got to work.
In the above supplies you can see my glue gun, but I was actually low on glue sticks after my air plant holder project, so I ended up using some wood glue and a staple gun for adhering the cork board. Other items I used that aren’t pictured were black paint, a paintbrush, round nose pliers and velcro damage-free hanging strips.
To start, I removed the backing from the frame and measured enough cork board to fill three spaces within the frame. I didn’t notice until after I added the cork to the frame that the cork board edges were visible when looking at the frame from certain angles. I wanted a cleaner look, so I ended up painting the edges black, something that might be easier to do beforehand if you decide to make something similar!I added cup hooks along the bottom of the frame for necklaces and bracelets, and added eyelets with some round nose pliers for hook earrings. Be careful to choose a thick frame if you make this project so the wood doesn’t split from the cup hooks. Mine split a little, but I just reinforced it with wood glue and painted it black. Once everything was in place, I added the velcro damage-free hanging strips to the back of my frame and put it on the wall. The last (and most exciting) step was adding my jewelry. I don’t have too many stud type earrings for the cork sections of the jewelry holder, so I might tuck a little picture of Lily in the middle cork section of the frame for now. I like the frame a solid black at the moment, but it could be fun to expand the project by changing the paint color or adding fun designs with washi tape. I love that this was an easy, inexpensive project that looks pretty nice. The best part is that I can finally see what jewelry I have and start wearing more of it again!
Years ago we went to the Museu de la Xocolata in Barcelona, a small piece of heaven where your tickets are chocolate bars and your taste buds fill with delight. The chocolate museum has all kinds of activities and opportunities for tastings, and it was there that I had my first ever experience with thick, rich, decadent Spanish hot chocolate. Tasting the drink was like falling in love.
Falling in love is what enjoying really good chocolate is supposed to feel like, according to Simran Sethi, host of my newest podcast obsession, The Slow Melt. In her podcast, she also says awesome things about being your own sexiest sweetheart, and buying the good chocolate for you. And while I love that sentiment and am most certainly not opposed to buying myself chocolate, I did have to buy some good stuff for Chad on Valentine’s Day (I just forced him to share with me 😉 ).
We’ve been doing a lot of chocolate tasting lately, especially since I received The Chocolate Tasting Kit for Christmas. I am already starting to see differences in chocolates as we try them, and have also learned a lot about how to taste chocolate and how it’s made. Pairing the kit with The Slow Melt, I’ve been gaining a lot of knowledge about chocolate, and I can’t wait to start working with specific coffee pairings as my palate develops! My favorite recent chocolate tasting? Black Salt Dulce de Leche Bonbons from Vosges Haut Chocolat. 62% dark chocolate sprinkled with black sea salt crystals = something I could melt into my chair over.
If you can’t get your hands on some good chocolate as soon as your taste buds would like, get some eye candy by checking out The Slow Melt’s Instagram, and enjoy some sweet listening by subscribing to the podcast!
Have you tried any wonderful chocolates lately? Please do share your favorites!
PS: can you imagine being gifted Vosges Haut Chocolat’s Travel the World through Chocolate Steam Trunk!? A most indulgent, luxurious gift if there ever was one!
We have a really great picture window in our living room that lets sunlight pour in across the entire room. Despite the window looking directly out onto the highway, I love it, but I felt like I needed to add something to it. As I’ve already been adding lots of greenery around the house, I decided it was time to get my very first air plants.
As you may know, air plants can be pretty pricey, and if you add a container of any sort like drift wood or a ladle, etc., the price goes up even higher. Of course you can find your own drift wood or cool trinket to hold an air plant in, but I wanted something I already had access to without having to do a lot of searching. And then it came to me: baby food jars. I basically used scissors, a hot glue gun and glue, baby food jars and twine to make a pretty, gradated air plant display. You could follow the same steps with other small jars, too.
Start by measuring out a long piece of twine to hang your jar. I made three jars, so I measured three pieces at arms length to adjust and cut again later. Hot glue the end of one piece of the twine onto your jar. (I didn’t remove the icky sticky stuff on the base beforehand, but you’re welcome to if you have any residue on your jars!)
Next, wrap another piece of twine around the rim of the jar, hot gluing as you go. I did two layers of twine.
Clean up any stray hot glue strands and hang your pretty planter! I used slipknots on mine so that I could adjust the length, but you could also measure and cut. Rather than cut right at the slipknot, I left enough twine to curl down along side the other half. Then, I just added my air plants and–viola!
I loved this project because, aside from the air plants, I had everything I needed to make it right around the house. Plus, I think the jars turned out super cute and I am loving the extra greenery–especially on gloomy winter days!