2021 Costume Ideas: Lars’ Top 15

The Lars team brainstormed 2021 costume ideas that reflected our most memorable moments from the past year, and we realized something. Picking a Halloween costume is a great opportunity for reflection! We always try to dress up as something that’s just right for the current year, which means that we spent some time looking back on our favorite (and sometimes least favorite) moments, events, and pop culture icons.

Here’s to another year of unforgettable moments!

COVID-themed costumes

It wouldn’t be a list of 2021 costume ideas without some mention of COVID. I know, I know, we’re all sick of hearing about it. But what’s scarier than a deadly disease (and a society that refuses to acknowledge how serious it is??) In order to keep from crying, we have to laugh. You could be:

  • a mask. Or check out our Quilted Face Mask Coat from April Fool’s Day for a twist.
  • a nasal test swab. After all, gross is good at Halloween!
  • a vaccine syringe. You know those ketchup bottle costumes? I bet you could modify one into a vaccine with just a little craftiness.
  • or mask costumes to coordinate with the costumes like this Mummy mask and this pumpkin mask.

halloween costume of a vaccine illustration: a blonde woman wears a blue and white shift dress with numbers drawn on to look like a syringe. She's wearing a tall sharp hat that looks like a needle. The background is green.

Stay safe, everyone!

Movies and TV

You can’t go wrong with movie and TV-inspired costumes. Here are some of our ideas:

  • Bridgerton. I’m all about the costumes and wigs from Bridgerton. Get some great inspiration from this pink Marie Antoinette costume from a few years ago!
  • Queen’s Gambit-inspired chess pieces. Okay, technically it came out last year. But it was right before Halloween, so we didn’t have much time to put together costumes! Cut us some slack! And enlist your friends to be chess pieces with you.
  • The Black Widow. We love a female superhero!
  • Cruella. All right, all right, we also love a villainess!

Cruella illustration: a woman with black and white hair, a mask, and a red gown on a pink background.

2021 Current Events

  • Tom Daley knitting. Did you catch Tom Daley’s amazing knitting skills during the Olympics? I have to admit, I’m not a huge sports watcher, but I could watch Tommy knit and purl between dives all day. Check out his Instagram account @MadeWithLoveByTomDaley and go Team Great Knittin’!

Tom Daley Knitting costume: A woman wearing a blush pink swimming suit with an olympic gold medal knitting a red, white, and blue scarf.

  • Bernie with mittens. Speaking of yarn, this meme would be a great (and cozy!) costume.
  • a boat stuck in the Suez Canal. There are so many hilarious ways you could do this: I’m thinking paper mache boats, all blue outfits with a sideways boat appliqué, the sky (or sea) is the limit!

Celebrity Hijinks

  • Olivia Rodrigo’s drivers license. Picture this: a big cardboard card that you rig so that your face fits where her face would go. I love this idea so much that if you don’t do it, I just might.

Olivia Rodrigo Drivers License illustration: a woman with a pink and red heart sweater and jeans with a california drivers license cutout around her face

  • Britney Spears. #FreeBritney!
  • Frank Ocean’s alien baby from the Met Gala. This is still fresh on our minds, and it would be pretty easy: all you need is a sleeper set and some florescent yellow-green paint!

Frank Ocean's Alien Baby costume illustration: a woman wearing green face paint and a green printed footie pajama set on a blush pink background.

  • Lady Gaga at the Inauguration. Her performance was incredible. Also, speaking of the inauguration, I’m still thinking about the beautiful moment when Jennifer Lopez yelled “una nación bajo Dios con libertad y justicia para todos!” during her musical number.
  • Elon Musk, Grimes, and their baby X Æ A-XII. This would be a hilarious (and not too difficult) family costume for someone with a baby. I’d love to see you pull it off!

I’d love to see your Halloween costumes and hear about your 2021 costume ideas! 

 

How to Make a DIY Beeswax Wrap

Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit and blackberries.

Make Your Own DIY Beeswax Wraps

Did you know one study found in 2020 that “9.71 million Americans used 21 or more sandwich bags” in seven days?! If you take into consideration that the run-of-the-mill plastic sandwich bag has been making it into our lunches since the late 1960s, that’s a lot of plastic. Save the planet and your wallet by creating these reusable DIY beeswax wraps. Every little bit helps! 

Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit and blackberries.

Along with these snack wraps, we’ve made some reusable lunch sacks (which you can see in the photos). Keep your eyes peeled for a tutorial!

Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit.Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit and blackberries.

What You’ll Need

Brittany sits at a sewing machine and makes a beeswax snack wrap. She's wearing a striped green dress and surrounded by colorful, solid fabric.

step by step photos of making beeswax wraps

Instructions

  1. Measure 5 x 9 inch rectangles onto your fabric. Alternatively, measure rectangles that will fit onto the baking sheet you are using. The measurements aren’t fussy, but whatever size you make cut out rectangles.
  2. Lining a baking sheet with tin foil, then lay down the fabric rectangles flat side by side. 
  3. Begin to sprinkle beeswax making sure to distribute evenly (Tip: Because the beeswax will melt in the oven, you don’t have to cover generously. Think sprinkling an ice cream sundae instead of salting a sidewalk).
  4. When all three rectangles have been covered with beeswax, place in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Don’t forget to set your timer!
  5. After 10 minutes, the beeswax should be melted. When you pull your baking tray out of the oven, the fabric color will look uneven. Don’t be afraid of the splotchiness!
  6. Sprinkle a second layer of beeswax, especially making sure to target the areas that didn’t have enough wax the first time around. You’ll be able to see them because they’ll be lighter.
  7. Put back in the oven at the same temperature for another 10 minutes. 
  8.  Pull out of the oven and let cool. Fabric should feel firm and waxy. 
  9. Take one rectangle and fold onto itself leaving a 2 inch flap similar to a plastic sandwich bag.
  10. With a sewing machine, sew up one side using a zigzag stitch. Repeat on the other side.
  11. You should now have a little pouch. Fold over the 2 inch flap to close. Voila! The perfect on-the-go snack pouch!

Colorblocked lunch sacks and beeswax snack wraps surrounded by play fruit and blackberries.

Can’t wait to see your DIY Beeswax wraps using #larsmakes on Instagram!

My new advisory board role: Part 1

Nepal

As you might imagine, Internet was spotty, but also crucial for my job, so when the connection went down on the construction site, I hiked with a couple of others to the next mountain (people who know me now are like…what?!??!?!? hiked?!?!?! YES, HIKED!) and plugged in at the phone tower. In order to get up there, I passed a number of small houses complete with mini farms–chickens, goats, luscious hydrangeas. It was so beautiful. It was also typhoon season, which brought on spectacular views AND a constant thread of crazy rain storms. (I wish I could find my hard drive from 10 years ago with all the pictures!)

We must have made a scene because we were soon joined by a few villagers. Through a translator or hand gestures, I can’t remember, we got to talking and they shared their beautiful handiwork with me. Handmade pewter plates and textiles and more. I was floored. Their work was exquisite.

At the time I was super interested in manufacturing so I was trying to come up with ways to work together. But, like I mentioned, I was fresh out of graduate school and had recently gotten married and moved to Copenhagen, Denmark so I wasn’t in a spot where I could feasibly make too much happen, both financially or logistically–I, myself, was trying to navigate a new country, social system, network, not to mention everything that comes with marriage. I couldn’t take on too much more.

Women Makers in Nepal

What I learned in those weeks was how crucial women were to the building and heart of the the village. In fact, these women, young and old, were the ones who traveled up and down the mountain with huge baskets on their backs full of heavy rocks, the building material of the memorial that was being constructed. There was also a community center designed for the women of the village to host their individual business like nails, micro blading, and making these really cool pom pom blankets and I got to spend some time there. They even dressed me up in their traditional clothing and I felt like a super model because my normally average height in the US was now considered very tall. Ha!

The business origins

Oftentimes the origins of their businesses started from places of sorrow. For example, the owner of the micro blading business began her venture after her husband left her and she could no longer fall back on her family because they had disassociated themselves from her, which is common for the culture. They became enterprising because of the need to survive. Witnessing it for myself instilled in me a desire to be involved somehow, someday, but I didn’t know how to do so when I was also at a point in my life when I also needed to be enterprising.

Kathmandu

After the memorial was dedicated, we spent some time in Kathmandu, which was truly an out of this world experience. It was my first time in Asia and everything felt so foreign, but SO exciting–the colors, the pace, the smells. One highlight of the trip was visiting a rug factory where some of the luxury rug companies that you might be familiar with are made. They showed us how they dyed the yarns and how they turned those yarns into the intricate weavings that become full rugs. Women and men sat atop scaffolding that can lift them higher or lower depending on the size of the rug.

Family involvement in factories

What I found most interesting of this factory visit was how the children would gather in the work space after they were done with school. Sometimes they would sit right next to the parent. My memory is now fuzzy, but I want to say that I recall someone nursing their baby while working. As one who currently works from home and nurses her 7 month old baby, it feels like a privilege, but also super complex. But that’s a story I want to dive into at a later date.

10 years later

As you might know, over the years I continued to work on The House That Lars Built, the blog I had started in 2008 for graduate school (you can read more about it here). It has grown into a multi-person company where we encourage people to make things with their hands. We believe that there is a project and a time frame for every person because making something with your hands has the power to transform your well-being. And when you get in touch with your hands you tap into your soul, which is very powerful connector to your identity and culture.

Knowing this, and witnessing first hand how important the handmade economy is around the globe and even more so now than it was 10 years ago, I’ve found an organization that I have invested time and money into and will now be working with as an official advisory board member: Nest, a non-profit that supports women makers in the handmade economy.

Nest and the handmade economy

I became familiar with Nest a couple of years ago when we joined in on their 25 days of Making. Later that year we worked with 18b to donate profits from our shops for Giving Tuesday, which continued to last year. Most recently, we shared how they’ve been involved with helping some of the quilt makers from Gee’s Bend put their beautiful work onto their new Etsy shops.

As an advisory board member, I wholeheartedly support the organization in the fulfillment of its mission, vision, and strategy. I will be sharing more about the organization next week and an exciting project we are working on together. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can read more about our partnership and learn how to donate here.

Becoming: Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

I’m so glad that I found Sarah Cambio’s business, Flower Lane! Her work is so high-quality, beautiful, intentional, happy… I’m not about to run out of adjectives describing how much I love what she does. I loved getting to know her a bit better, and I hope you do too!

Sarah Cambio is the founder of Flower Lane; a small shop that handmakes embroidered linen crowns. Inspired by all things whimsical and nostalgic, Flower Lane delivers keepsakes that can be cherished forever. Sarah immigrated from Germany to the US when she was 11 years old. Not knowing how to speak English, she spent that summer learning before jumping into school. She currently lives in Maryland with her husband and three children. 

A light grey linen kids birthday crown with the phrase "May you find a muddy puddle to splash in wherever you go."

Becoming Sarah Cambio of Flower Lane

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I think I see myself as a hybrid between a designer and maker, but slowly learning how to be a business person. I love making things with my hands but also really enjoy the business side. There is so much to learn and I love that! 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I was born in Germany and immigrated to the US when I was 11 years old. I grew up in what many here know as a Waldorf type setting and I think that has always inspired me. When I think of Waldorf I think of whimsy things, traditions, and seeing the beauty of childhood. 

Handmade linen kids birthday crowns in pink, yellow, mint, orange, and blue.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

So many things! I never had my heart set on just one thing and thought it would be so cool to be everything from an FBI Agent, a teacher, or social worker. 

What sparked your interest in making kids birthday crowns? 

I was inspired by crowns made from felt and wanted something similar for our daughter’s 3rd birthday. I taught myself how to sew and added my own twist; using linen, adjustable ties, wooly pom poms, and embroidering the child’s name. 

What is your educational background and how has it shaped or changed your current career?

I graduated from High School with a full scholarship, attended college for 2 semesters, dropped out, and a decade later completed my certification as an Emergency Medical Technician. I volunteered as an EMT for about 2 years and quit because Flower Lane was taking off–a complete 180 from what I pursued my education in.

A grey linen kids birthday crown with rainbow pom poms and the name "tillie" embroidered on it. It's on a pink background.

What inspired you to start a business?

I’ve always dreamed about having my own business and felt so inspired by those around me who were running theirs successfully. It wasn’t until we got pregnant with our 4th that I decided that this is it! 

A few months prior I taught myself how to sew with a $20 Facebook Marketplace sewing machine. It took me forever to figure out how to sew in a straight line and a circle was basically impossible! I purchased patterns and jumped right in and learned how to sew clothes while teaching myself how to use my machine at the same time.

A handmade rabbit doll on top of pink kid's clothes.
Sarah made this rabbit and these kid’s clothes when she was first learning to sew.

Once I understood patterns, sewed straight lines, and learned about fabric, I began making stroller clips because that’s what I wanted for my baby. A cute little toy that clipped onto the canopy of the stroller. 

During this time we lost our baby. I felt alone and depressed. There was a lot of grieving. I went back to sewing clothes as a way to work through my emotions.

linen clothes in neutral colors against a wooden backdrop 

In September of 2020 I opened my Etsy store with the stroller clips I worked so hard on. They were a complete failure. I took a month long break and almost quit but something was telling me to keep going. 

A waldorf-inspired handsewn doll wearing a pink linen dress. The doll has brown braids, pink cheeks, simple features, and is on a beige background.
One of Sarah’s first projects

This is when I shared my birthday crowns. Something I was holding in my back pocket until that coming January – our daughter’s 3rd birthday. They sold out the same day I posted them! 

I continued sharing, updating, and building a small Instagram community the rest of 2020. This was also the same time my best friend mailed me her embroidery machine and I started customizing crowns with the child’s name. 

Handmade Flower Lane birthday crowns

This business has been such an emotional journey for me and I’m so grateful for all the good that has come from Flower Lane. 

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I’m really proud of how much my husband and I have learned in such a short period of time. We both come from non business backgrounds and it’s not a walk in the park. We have to be a team and work together to run Flower Lane every day while also juggling a busy family. 

Where do you find inspiration for new creations? 

If only there were a few more hours in each day! The one thing all of my ideas have in common is that they are inspired by childhood and family traditions. I want to make something that can be used again and again and brings back a feeling of nostalgia. 

Two kids wearing linen birthday crowns and playing. A girl is wearing a pink dress and white crown, and a boy is wearing a blue sweater, yellow shorts, and a grey crown. They're in a light-filled room.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

This question had me a little stumped because I couldn’t think of any artists, specifically. I look up to people in my life not for being an artist but for the person they are. I’m inspired by people who create and live a purposeful life. 

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

I love getting lost in a good fiction book, enjoy watching The Walking Dead, and listening to 80’s rock. 

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

I have missed out on  many opportunities and wasted so much time because I never believed in myself. Either I wasn’t qualified or my work wasn’t good enough.  Stop seeking permission from others to do what you feel you are called to do. Be confident in yourself and don’t wait. The right time to start is now!

Two hands tying a bow on the ties at the back of a linen kids birthday crown. There are a few other crowns along the top of the image, and the background is blue.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

It’s so important to surround yourself with things that inspire you. I have a hard time working when there’s chaos. I like for things to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional. Flower Lane has taken over a large portion of our lower level and we had to really think about how to make the most use of our space. 

Sarah Cambio's workspace. There's a big wooden island, open wooden shelves filled with materials, and a fiddle leaf fig. Sarah's daughter is wearing pink and sitting by the shelves at a computer.
Sarah’s daughter sitting in her workspace

What is a typical day like for you? 

My day always starts with a cup of coffee, breakfast for our youngest, and checking emails. This is also when I check on our chickens; Emily, Annie, and Betsy!

Our youngest goes to daycare a couple of times a week and those are very busy work days for me. On the days she is home, she plays in her play area in my office. Lots of breaks get taken on those days. 

Our oldest two are helpful and my husband puts in a lot of hours during his off time. It’s not the most ideal schedule but it actually works for us! 

We have lunch around noon and before we know it it’s time to take our older two kids to their activities. One plays hockey and the other does MMA. We’re busy around here! 

During the summer months, dinners and bedtimes are late. Once our youngest is in bed my husband and I work a little more and then watch a show or two before bed. 

Every day is a little different here! 

two flower lane embroidered birthday crowns on a blue background

What is one skill you wished you learned when you were younger?

How to sew! It’s such a useful skill to have in your toolbox. Our oldest daughter learned how to sew at the same time I did and I love that. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

We have so many resources these days to get started on a new hobby and skill. Watch YouTube, practice, and learn from others in the field you’re interested in. Stay inspired and surround yourself with what you want to learn.

flower lane crowns in orange, yellow, pink, blue, and light blue on a yellow and pink background.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

Finding a rhythm between family and work. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 12 years and this is new to all of us. Learning to prioritize and understanding that I can’t do it all myself is something I’m working on.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

I’m a big believer in not acquiring debt and knowing your numbers. Focus on one thing at a time and use that profit for growth. 

Is there anything more you would like to “become?” 

I would love to write a book someday, to be an author! I also have this random idea of owning an ice cream truck. Like a really cool one that serves waffle cones and scoops of the best ice cream. I miss the ice cream shops in Germany and I feel like we need that here! 

Jasper's yellow Flower Lane crown in a field of daisies.

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

Business wise I have big dreams for Flower Lane and one of those includes moving the business out of our home. We already work with talented individuals in our local community to create these sweet crowns and I would love to see us all together in one space someday. I would also love for my husband to join me full time.

Personally, I dream of finding our forever home. A place where we can gather with our children and grandchildren someday, make memories, and hang stockings from the mantle. It’s such a simple goal but I think that’s ultimately what drives me and keeps me inspired. 

Jasper sits in a field of daisies wearing a yellow Flower Lane crown and a striped yellow shirt.

More Inspiration

Be sure to follow Sarah on Instagram @shopflowerlane and look at her website here! You can buy our Lars x Flower Lane crowns on our shop here.

If you want to read about more inspiring creators, business women, and designers, you can look for more of our becoming essays here!

Flower Lane Kids Birthday Crowns

Months ago I was dreaming of releasing a line of kids birthday crowns. I wanted them to be whimsical, colorful, and such high quality that they would become heirlooms. In my research I stumbled across Flower Lane and I realized that Sarah, Flower Lane’s founder and designer, had already realized my kids birthday crown dreams!

A pink Flower Lane crown embroidered with the name June  on a yellow, cream, and pink rug.

I reached out and asked if we could collaborate on a collection of Lars x Flower Lane crowns and I’m so glad that it worked out! Our collection has such beautiful colors and I’m considering myself lucky to have gotten a few for my boys and their cousins.

Heirloom Quality Kids Birthday Crowns

Lars x Flower Lane kids birthday crowns are designed to last and will make your kiddos feel like birthday royalty year after year. They have adjustable straps, too! This means you need not fear about your child’s growing noggin sizing them out of their crown.

Jasper wears his yellow Flower Lane crown and sits in a field of daisies.Jasper wears his yellow Flower Lane crown and plays with cars in a playground

I’m so impressed by the time and care that goes into each Flower Lane kids birthday crown. Sarah sews and then embroiders each crown by hand. She also makes the crowns with super high quality linen. You can totally feel the difference in their lovely texture and softness.

An orange Flower Lane crown embroidered with the name Donovan on a yellow rug

When you order a crown, you get to choose the main color, the embroidery color and style, and any pom pom colors you want. All this paired with your child’s name lovingly embroidered on the crown make for a truly customizable heirloom. Jasper’s is so perfectly customized to his personal taste that he may never take it off. Good thing Sarah built these babies to last!

Jasper is wearing his yellow Flower Lane crown and a striped yellow shirt and playing on a playground.

I’m so happy that we collaborated on this collection of Lars x Flower Lane kids birthday crowns. I really believe that this collaboration is better than anything we could have made on our own. Hooray for joining forces!

Jasper plays with toy cars at a playground. He's wearing his yellow Flower Lane crown

More Birthday Inspiration

You can buy our collection of Lars x Flower Lane kids birthday crowns in our shop here. Don’t forget to share your birthday photos with us with #LarsParties

Jasper's yellow Flower Lane crown in a field of daisies.

What you need for your new baby

What you need for new baby

As a disclaimer, I’m a big believer in that you don’t need too much. I’m actually quite frugal when it comes to making purchases so I tend to either buy cheap or do without unless I find it totally beautiful and worth being in my life and if not the most beautiful, then just super helpful. That said, I’ve noticed that that there are some specific times when you should invest as it will totally make life easier and for the better and if not, more beautiful at least, because that is also important. As a note, I’m not including clothing or furniture for now (though you can find his nursery reveal here!), just product. I’ll be following up with some clothing recommendations.
Rattan bassinet

Ok! Don’t let all these disclaimers deter you, let’s get going! I’ll be updating this list as Baby continues to grow into different stages that require new products so do check back for more recommendations. Also, I’d love to hear your own recommendations. I’m always open to hearing about beautifully designed items.

Lars Baby essentials round up

Lars’ Favorite Baby Essentials

This time around, I’m grouping the products into time frames so you don’t have to buy everything at once. This way you can spread out the purchases and expenses.

Italics are my updated experience with my second child, Felix.

Before Baby gets here (you’ll need it right away)

  1. I legit didn’t know there was such thing as a “coming out outfit” when I had Jasper. And while it’s obviously not crucial to have a photogenic outfit, it feels like a beautiful rite of passage when there’s some sort of stunning outfit to come home in. This time around I bought a few outfits that felt special and just rotated them a bunch. I picked out this baby bundle set from Storq, which came with a sweet white outfit and hat. For some reason I love when babies don’t have as much color and patterns like I normally prefer. That said, I also got a little set with my favorite pattern from Lewis Home. And something similar to this set.
  2. Uppababy car seat and Uppababy Vista Stroller. I LOVE the look of this car seat and the fabric actually wicks away sweat. Plus, I love that it’s interchangeable with the stroller and base in the car. I got the MESA and love it.
  3. Pampers Pure diapers. We did a sponsored post with them a few months ago but now I’m no longer required to say anything and I’m still using them. I love that they are better for baby and earth. I just wish it was easier to find them at all stores. You have to order them online. We also use Kirkland brand (Costco) because Paul’s favorite place on earth is Costco and everything they do is high quality.
  4. Diaper bag. I don’t know why, but this is the one I obsessed with most prior to baby’s arrival. I spent A LOT of time searching for a great diaper bag. There are a lot of good ones out there now that are both great for mom and functional and though I haven’t tried them all out, I decided to start cheap and see how it goes. I bought this one in red as I just so happened to stumble on it on Amazon and turns out! I spot dozens of moms wherever I go using it. It’s a smart design, spacious, and helpful. And they come in tons of other colors. I’m going to be doing a post all on diaper bags because I found some pretty great options. Ok, I never found a diaper bag that I loved that I actually bought because I’ve come to the point where I realized “why do I need a special bag for diapers?” Well, you don’t! But Jasper has put his through the ringer and so now I’m glad that it was cheap.
  5. Changing basket. Design Dua has the most beautiful collection of baskets including this plain changing basket. I love it so much. It keeps him contained so he doesn’t roll around, which he is doing otherwise. The only downside is that I found that it scratched my brand new changing table. I had to take a rug pad and cut it to the shape of the basket and put underneath it.
  6. Onesies. Because you can never have enough! I like dressing baby in a plain white onesie and that’s it!
  7. Clothes. Check out this post for some of my favorite clothes for baby boys 
  8. Travel Changing Pad. This was sent to me by Joy of Oh Joy for her product collaboration with Target long before Baby was even an embryo but I held onto it because 1) it’s adorable and turns out 2) it’s so handy. It looks like a clutch so it doesn’t scream baby and it works well with a slot for wipes. It’s thin enough to squeeze snuggly in my bag. Now that I’m with my second baby, I use this every single day to change diapers around the house. 
  9. Brest friend. I was using another pillow for nursing but it was killing my back. This one happened to pop up on my Facebook ads and I bought it on the spot. I LOVE MY BREST FRIEND. It’s a game changer for my bad back, especially after baby when it was at an all time hurt.
  10. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. By the way, this book was SUPER helpful for learning to breastfeed.
  11. Swaddles. I didn’t include swaddles in my first round of essentials because I figured most people get a ton as gifts, BUT I got a couple of extras the second time around–ones that I LOVE the prints on so they cheer me right on up. These ones from Lewis are too cute. I also have one from Clementine that I love as well as Little Unicorn.

Within the first couple of weeks

  1. Scissor clippers. Moms might know the terror that comes with clipping your baby’s nails. These ones are great because you can go slowly so that you have more peace of mind. I Love them! These are actually the reason why I wanted to create this post for you. I want everyone to know about them! Yup! Still love them! 
  2. Willow pump. GAME CHANGER. I was dreading having to pump so for a number of months I just didn’t unless I really had to. I was using the pump that my insurance company had given me until I tried this and all of a sudden I was free! It sits in your bra and you can walk around and do whatever you want WHILE IT PUMPS! Ladies! Admittedly, I don’t love pumping, but I do use this still my second time every so often when I need to fill up.
  3. Nose Freda. I received two of these as baby gifts so I thought there must be something to it. This one is genius. Do yourself a favor and get one in your cart pronto. Seems odd, but really not odd at all to suck up your baby’s snot. 😉 Really though, it’s efficient and clever and I highly recommend it. Yup, do it! 
  4. Aquaphor. I don’t even need to say much else than you need it. If there’s ever any redness or rash, use it and poof! Gone! We also tried using my sister’s Butt Paste and it works super well, though it stays on the baby as a white substance.
  5. Collapsible bath tubI tried out a few bath tubs that didn’t work so well for me either because of the size of our sink or sturdiness. I like this one because it worked for a newborn and then it can be transformed for a larger baby when they can sit up by themselves by popping down the side and turning it into a more typical bath tub. We recently got a new one compartment sink and it wasted a lot more water by filling it up than our previous one so this was a better option.
  6. Dock a Tot (not pictured). Jasper slept in this for the first few months and it was great because you can transport it around and set him anywhere you are. LOVED IT! Not in love with the huge logo on it. WHY IS IT SO BIG???? For Felix I got the William Morris cover–it’s so pretty! 
  7. Baby Bum diaper rash brush. This was given to me as a baby gift and I’ll be honest, I thought, “this looks like one of those products that you don’t actually need but someone thought they’d try and make a buck by appealing to vulnerable mothers” BUT I WAS WRONG! Thankfully, I don’t have to use it too often, but when Baby boy gets some redness, I use a dollop of Aquafor and apply it with this and it’s so helpful! You don’t have to get your fingers in baby’s crevices. Everyone wins! Still love it! 
  8. 4 Moms Mamaroo. Baby is loving more and more the more we set him in it. He especially loves it now that he play with the items and actually reach them. Jasper didn’t love being in it and Felix loved it a bit more! I wish that the top play part moved–I think babies might stay more interested.
  9. Tubby Todd body wash. Tubby Todd sent me a baby gift to try some of their wash and I’ve been hooked from day one. It smells lovely and it’s gentle for baby, hypoallergenic, and extra-gentle for sensitive skin.
  10. Grass Bottle drying rack. Just makes life easier in a clever design! I rarely used bottles with Jasper and once again with Felix so I didn’t have a HUGE need for it, but if you bottle feed a lot it’s great.
  11. Boppy carrier. This one was sent to me by the company and I’m not required to talk about it, but I have to let you know that it changed the way baby slept. Prior to this, baby could only fall asleep if we coaxed him while he was in our arms. As you might imagine, we couldn’t get much else done. As soon as I slipped him in there for the first time, he passed out. For the first 3 months of his life, he slept in there for every nap. Then all of a sudden we could set him in his bassinet and he could nap on his own. I’m really grateful for this one. I still use it. In fact, I’m using it right now as I travel to NYC and Atlanta. It’s so snug. I wouldn’t say it’s the most beautiful one on the market, but for us, it was a game changer so I don’t care how it looks. Once again with Felix, this was a LIFESAVER! He slept in it exclusively until about a month ago. 

1-2 months out

  1. White noise maker. I was hoping I wouldn’t need a white noise maker and perhaps I don’t because I haven’t noticed a difference in J’s sleep quality, but I find it more useful in thinking that we can carry on at a normal decibel level than if it’s not on. Love this one because you can turn it on and off remotely. Ok, since last time, we’ve been using a white noise machine with Jasper ever since and with Felix too. As soon as the white noise machine is off, Felix is up. I find that it allows us to feel like we don’t have to tip toe around to not make noise. Love it. We didn’t buy the same brand for Felix, which was a mistake. The one we bought is poorly designed. I’ll be buying this brand again!
  2. Uppababy stroller. The stroller can hold the car seat, a bassinet, and a normal sitting seat for an older child. I’m using the VISTA while I travel right now because baby can only sleep laying down completely so I stick him in the bassinet. It’s so beautiful, quick to assemble and disassemble. I’ve become a big advocate of it! Plus, I love the touch of the leather handle–classy! I didn’t need a stroller for the first couple of months because Jasper would just cry. Felix did the same thing, but starting at 4 months he LOVED sitting upright.
  3. Rattan bassinet from Bundle and Bloom As you know from this post, I was on a big search for rattan bassinets for baby’s nursery. I searched high and low to find a vintage one, but I couldn’t find one in the US and shipping from France was going to cost 2x the cost of the crib itself, SO, I was thrilled to find this version from Bundle and Bloom. It’s beautiful and the cost is NUTS! They’re handmade in Guatemala and we’ve been using it since we got it. I love it!
  4. Moses Basket. Early on in the prepping process, I spent a good deal of time looking for a Moses basket because I’ve always loved the look of them. Turns out? They’re also handy. This one I got from Briar and it’s so beautiful it makes me want to cry.
  5. Sleep Sack.

When their old enough to hold their heads up (4 or 5 months)

A lot of these are basically contraptions to place baby so you can have a sec to do something. I like to spread them around the house so that there’s always something.

  1. Chair swing. Ok, this is an exception to the “beautiful” rule. I don’t love the look of it, but I love the price and I wanted to see if he would even use before buying something more expensive. I started him in it at about 4 months and he would last for about 5 minutes. Ha! We’re working on it! I think he’ll love it…one day! This is the chair swing I’d try if I thought we’d have gotten more use out of it. Well, Jasper never learned to love it and we’ll find out about Felix. I have a feeling he will though because he loves his…
  2. Exersaucer. I borrowed this contraption from my friend, Michele, and Jasper didn’t love it. I borrowed it again for Felix and he LOVES it! He’s at 5 months now and having a ball. Sometimes he lasts for 2 seconds and other times he can stay in for 15 minutes. 
  3. Briar bonnets. I feel such a need to protect Baby’s skin from the harsh sun especially since he’s so pale. These bonnets are both adorable and great for protection. We did a collection with them and they turned out so cute! 
  4. Bumbo. I love the Bumbo for setting him in when I need to get some stuff done, like putting on make up. Bonus is that is comes in this gorgeous color. I searched high and low for a pretty color and found it in this one.
  5. Joovy baby walker (not pictured in graphic). I loved this walker because it was the best looking one that didn’t have the built in toys and it comes with a removeable and washable tray!
  6. Charlie Crane. This is another one that was given to me and I felt like I had won the jackpot because it’s truly so beautiful. I love that it can sit seamlessly in your home, though I have it at work for baby to sit and play in. Helpful and beautiful!

Rattan bassinetRattan bassinet

Again, I’ll be updating this list the more I become familiar with other products and stages of baby’s life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your tried and true products! Dish!

photos by Jane Merrit and Rebecca Hansen

Felix’s New Nursery

Before my first son, Jasper, arrived we raced to get his nursery done and it paid off (you can see it here. I had such a wonderful experience having a fully designated space for him–it felt almost magical. Just him and me having our special place together nursing and me admiring him. We were certainly in a little newborn bubble. I think I even heard choruses of angels around us.

Interior shot of a child's room. Walls are green, A pink checkerboard rug is on the floor. A white rocking chair is central in the image.

With Felix, because of all the new home renovations and normal, if not over, work load, I didn’t get his nursery done, not even close. And I felt the toll! For a while I slept on a mattress downstairs next to his bassinet before transferring up to our bedroom and then we were constantly moving because we’ve been renovating the closet, bathroom, putting baseboards, etc. It’s been wild, uncomfortable…chaotic. Not conducive to a magical experience.

An interior shot featuring a painted green wall with a brightly colored lamp and a toy doll perched on a wicker shelf.

And then we partnered with our friends at Pottery Barn Kids and life got so much better as you might expect when you, well, partner with Pottery Barn Kids. 

Most important to me when creating a space for a baby is figuring out the immediate needs. Number one, especially in the early stages, is nursing. Life kind of revolves around it at this point (you too?): schedules, meals, outings (or lack there of right now, right?!). Everything! I nursed exclusively with Jasper and I’ve done the same with Felix (though I seriously reconsidered that this weekend after my first bout with mastitis–YIKES!).

Interior shot of a nursery. In the foreground, a red toy airplane rests on a white ottoman. In the background is a wooden dresser with a small Danish flag on top and some illustrations on the wall.

Because of my bad back, I like to have a great chair set up in place so I know it will be comfortable and I don’t have to scramble to make something up last minute. Jasper’s rocking chair has almost become a member of our family based on how much we use it. Though I no longer nurse him, we gather around it for stories every day. I knew I needed another one for Felix so we could create the same tradition in his room.

Interior shot of a child's room. Walls are green, A pink checkerboard rug is on the floor. A white rocking chair is central in the image.

Have you searched on Pottery Barn Kids recently? Look at all their nursery chair and ottoman options. I’ll wait….There’s a TON of styles and features. I looked for one that had a shallow back so that it wouldn’t have to strain while nursing. I also wanted one that felt both classic yet modern. I arrived at the Modern Wingback Slipcovered Glider and Ottoman. I got it in their classic white linen, which on first glance seems crazy, but because it’s a slipcover, you can easily take it on and off (velcro!) and wash it. 

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair next to a window and a green wall and snuggles Felix.A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair. Interior shot of a green nursery. In the foreground is a white rocking chair with a few pillows, toys, and books on it and in the background is a wooden dresser.

It may seem like a funny thing to get excited about, but I need my nursing conditions to be, well, perfect, and their ottoman is the perfect height so I can prop Felix up and be super comfortable. I’m so pleased with my new arrangement I can’t even express it. The magical feelings are starting to reemerge again and none too soon!

A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair.

But there’s more. Have you seen their collection of cribs and changing stations? There are so many beautiful options. I went all white with Jasper, but I wanted something different for Felix so I got an all wood collection–something to feel deeper. I chose the Dawson Convertible Crib, which is somehow even more beautiful in person than it is on a screen. It will grow with Felix into a toddler bed too so it’s worth the investment (two beds in one!). It’s also GREENGUARD Gold Certified, meaning it meets or exceeds stringent chemical emissions standards and it’s made in a Fair Trade Certified facility. I feel really good about their manufacturing processes and love being able to align myself with them.

A wooden dresser with a clock, changing basket, Danish flag, and blanket on top. The wall has a few illustrations hanging on it.

Then for the changing table/dresser I went with the Dawson dresser. Again, it’s a beautiful blend of traditional and modern with the clean lines and fine detailing on the drawers. It comes in a lovely acorn color with the same ethical standards. Again, even more beautiful and illuminating in person. It looks so good against the green walls! Which brings me to my next point.

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair against a green wall and snuggles Jasper and Felix.

Jasper’s nursery at our old house was more light and airy and again, I wanted something where we played with color more. The room is also acting as Paul’s office so I wanted to take his preferences into consideration. Paul loves BRIGHT colors. I’m talking saturated, BRIGHT colors. We settled on a agreen, but what green was the question! He LOVES a classic Jaguar green but then I got this lovely checkerboard pink/magenta rug (used from Hannah Carpenter as spotted by Meta Coleman) and wanted to merge the two colors together somehow.

A white rocking chair against a green wall with a colorful lamp in the background. An orange stuffed fox and a pillow are on the chair. The floor is covered by a magenta checkerboard rug with a few wooden cars and an airplane on it.

I figured out that the green needed to be a bit more blue so we went with this Palm Frond color. I thought it was going to be too much for me but with the gorgeous wood furniture, it’s MAGICAL. I tried out a contrasting trim in a light blue, the same color we’ll be using for our bathroom, and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it…I like it sometimes and other times I’m not sure. I’m not sure you can see it too well in these photos so maybe you can speak to that quite yet.

Interior shot of a child's room with a green wall, a wicker shelf with a toy on it, and a crib. The crib has a denim-colored quilt hanging over the side.

I accessorized with the cutest bed sheet/comforter set. The sheets are dreamy soft and play well with the green of the walls. I love the chambray look always. It tends to go with most things.

Then I added in some green gingham curtains to play with the color too.

Shot of the inside of a wooden crib, with a few toys and pillows inside it.

With all the other bright color accessories we own, the color works so well and it’s now one of the few rooms in the house that feels GOOD! I’m still calling it a phase one design because we might adjust some things, but in the meantime, I’m spending all my time in there.

Brittany sits in a white rocking chair against a green wall and snuggles Jasper and Felix.Interior shot of a green nursery. In the foreground is a white rocking chair with a few toys on it. In the background is a wooden dresser.on it and in the background is a wooden dresser.

Thank you Pottery Barn Kids for making our nursery dreams come true and for sponsoring this post!

Baby Lars’ French-inspired rattan nursery

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When I first published a roundup of my favorite rattan nursery furniture I hadn’t yet revealed the sex of my baby (surprise, Jasper’s a boy! And Felix, too! Ha!) so I kept my nursery favorites simple. While neither of my boys are a surprise to any readers anymore, it’s nice that so much rattan furniture is gender-neutral and timeless, so no matter who you’re expecting there’s something here for you!

In case you haven’t caught it, mood boarding is a major theme for Lars–I use them for pretty much every project! Becca made one for her wedding and I made one for my personal style. They’re just so helpful in setting a foundation for any creative project.

Designing a Nursery

Both times I found out I was pregnant I immediately started a secret Pinterest mood board to narrow down the 1,701 nursery design pins (I’m not kidding!) I had accumulated over the years and I started to notice a trend. The nurseries I was attracted to leaned on the French side with a heavy dose of rattan.

, tooOver the last few years, the USA has woken up to the world of rattan a little bit, but it’s still a lot easier to get show-stopping rattan nursery furniture in Europe. Shipping to the States can get really expensive (think $1500 to ship a crib! *Sigh*)! I spotted this flawless rattan crib, pictured above, on Atelier Vime’s site and it was inevitable, I fell in love. It doesn’t hurt to have aged herringbone wood flooring and other lovely architectural features like in the photo, too…

Rattan Cribs and Bassinets

With that immaculate crib as by inspiration I set out looking for French-inspired rattan nursery furniture and I found this beautiful bassinet by Crate and Barrel.

A rattan bassinet with metal legs in a light-filled nursery

I did some more digging around and noticed that I loved the rattan mixed in with other wood elements and mixes of fabrics like the one below. Though you’d probably attribute this one to a boy’s room, it could easily be changed up for a girl’s room if these colors and toy choices aren’t your thing. This Cribs and Co. bassinet is for sale on Etsy, and gives the same kind of look.

Rattan Bassinet with plush cactus and lotus flower inside.

A rattan bassinet in a white spaceI’m a big fan of the Jayce bassinet from Pure Salt Shoppe (pictured above), but like any new mother, I’m unsure what types of furniture you actually need. Lots of people swear by bassinets, but I found out they are cute and small but you may not use it for very long. Dommage! I was informed by my dear friends who are mothers that a Moses basket is a great transition into a crib because they’re transportable and cheap and once again, adorable.

Rattan moses basket in a grassy field

They’re not always rattan, but they are a part of the same family so they flow well together. I talked more about my favorite baskets in my Lars Baby Essentials post, so check that out!

Rattan day beds

Paul and I are quite practical when it comes to discussing our sleeping habits so we anticipate needing to spend nights in the baby nursery. Might as well make it comfortable while we’re at it! I’ve spotted a number of lovely rattan beds here in America. Hooray! Like this one from Anthropologie or this much more dramatic one.
Rattan day bedDramatic Rattan bed with a criss-crossing rattan headboard

I love the back of this Venus Rattan Day Bed, and it would surely hold its own as furniture long after the need for a nursery fades. The Avalon Day Bed (on the right) is another great option, and it comes in a kid’s size too, which means that once you move your crib out of the nursery you can stick with the French-inspired rattan theme!

Rattan day bed in a light-filled beige room. A dog, some pillows, and a few magazines and books are on the day bed. A rattan day bed in an airy room full of plants in terracotta planters

Rattan Accent Furniture

Don’t limit yourself to cribs, bassinets, and beds! There are so many great ways to incorporate charming, handmade rattan into a nursery. This rattan rocking horse is sturdy and has lovely vintage flair.

Rattan rocking horse in front of a cabinet.

Once your kid has grown up a bit, chairs are a great way to bring rattan furniture into their room. This antique rattan and teakwood chair is a great one, and so is this rattan bunny chair for kids.

A rattan and teakwood antique armchair for kids in a white room.A rattan chair whose back is designed to look like bunny ears in a white space.

Kids accumulate STUFF, so this shelving solution is another great option.

A rattan arch-shaped shelving unit with three shelves. I think it’s important to find furniture that you’ll love long after your kids have grown out of cribs, and this hanging rattan swing is sure to do that. It looks so pleasant to sit and rock a baby in, and later you and your kids can read in it. It is truly furniture that will become a fixture in your home through the ages and grow with your family.

Rattan hanging swing in a light-filled room with blue pillows and accentsNo, I don’t think it would be wise to outfit the entire nursery in head-to-toe rattan, but I love the idea of bringing in one or two pieces to set the tone. Perhaps it’s a rattan crib and a lamp or perhaps it’s the daybed with some nursery animals. Who knows! I haven’t yet purchased anything. I love the idea of mixing in some vintage pieces too.

Shops that sell rattan baby furniture

I’ve barely scratched the surface with the above links! There’s so much rattan goodness to find and design with. If you’re lucky enough to live in rattan-friendly countries, here is a list of some of my favorite shops that sell vintage rattan furniture:

Custom rattan furniture

I haven’t yet found somewhere in the US that does custom rattan furniture, though I’m sure it exists (anyone know of a place?!) but I did find a place in Australia, The Rattan Collective, where you can get the most beautiful pieces commissioned. And yup, I already asked, and they currently do not sell to the US. (Pssst: this one and this one are my favorites!)

I’d love to hear from you!

Well, I certainly did not intend to write a full post about rattan furniture for the nursery. I guess this exposes my late night obsessions. Guilty! Once again, I’d love to hear your tips about finding beautiful vintage rattan furniture here in the US as the $1500 shipping price really bummed me out, and share your French-inspired rattan nurseries with #LarsAtHome!

Find More!

I have written a few more posts about rattan furniture since I first published this nursery furniture roundup. Check out this post about adding rattan furniture to your home decor and wardrobe, this DIY rattan sunburst mirror tutorial, and a huge roundup of a veritable smorgasbord of rattan furniture and decor.

Looking for more Lars baby content? In the years since I first search for rattan nursery furniture I have come a long way in the baby department, so look no further! Here’s Jasper’s birth story and here’s Felix’s.  Our shop has a dedicated section for babies and children, and it’s full of fun and beautiful toys, patterns for crafts, and art prints to hang in your nursery.

I also made a roundup of my favorite baby gifts and my recommendations for baby essentials, and I would love to hear about your favorite baby gear, too!

Lars Shop Highlight: Floral Art Prints

Last month we did a post about spring cleaning and switching out your art prints, and I shared some art from the Lars print shop. This May, though, I’m focusing on flowers (even more than I do year round! Ha!) so I wanted to show you my curated collection of floral art prints.

Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated, subdued artwork or a playful print there’s something that’s sure to catch your attention in the floral art print shop!

Playful

These prints are charming for children (or children-at-heart)! Ayang Cempaka’s whimsical fairytale-themed prints are colorful and fun, and they are lovely reminders of some favorite stories. Thumbelina’s meadow scene is particularly fitting for Spring, don’t you think?

Four illustrations from fairytales hung above a child's kitchen toy set.

Normandie Luscher’s prints are also inspired by favorite stories. If you’re a reader, these prints are a great way to decorate your space with reminders of your favorite books. You’ll be transported to lovely Avonlea when you look up at Anne’s Way of Delight!

An art print of girls inside and outside a brick building covered with vines and surrounded by trees and flowers. Next to the print are wooden toys shaped like trees and a rainbow. A print of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables walking through a corridor of blossoms against a pink background with real blossoms in front.

Another floral art print that celebrates Spring and promotes literacy is Josefina Schargorodsky’s Reading In the Woods illustration. This artwork would be perfect for a kid’s room or next to the bookshelf.

A print of a girl reading in a garden surrounded by trees, grass, and flowers against a golden background.

Painterly

Decorating with a painterly floral art print is a way to introduce some serenity and style into your space. Helen Dealtry’s Secret Garden print feels like a mysterious portal into another, greener world–just like in the book!

A print of flowers in a green secret garden tunnel hangs on the wall in front of a plant and some craft supplies

Lynne Millar’s paintings are not to be missed! The way she treats shadow and light is dramatic in the same way that a really well-planned garden can be, so you can bring the outdoors in with her prints. Check out this interview of Lynne here!

In interior shot of a pink couch with cushions, a table with a plant, a modern lamp, and artwork on the walls. One of the works is Lynne Millar's Rose painting.

Julie Marabelle of Famille Summerbelle makes glorious paper cut art by painting on paper and then cutting intricate floral designs into them. We have several of her works in our floral art print shop and they would look so lovely in any space!

Field of Colored Flowers Papercut By Julie Marabelle is framed and perched on top of a stack of books next to a yellow bed and a blue and white striped wallpapered wall.

A framed paper-cut floral print on a spruce-themed wallpapered wall by a yellow bed and a blue lamp

These dainty prints by Monica Dorazewski and Yas Imamura will bring whimsy into your home. They would be perfect in a space that needs a breath of light, fresh air, and feminine energy.

Seven Flowers Print by Yas Imamura

Adriana Picker also makes gorgeous, bright, botanical prints. Find her dahlia print here, her tulip print here, her cosmos print here, and her rose print (not pictured) here. You can also read this interview from Adriana Picker and find out more about the artist.

Three pink floral art prints on a white mantle next to a potted plant and a green candlestick

Graphic

Would you describe your style as bold and bright? Some of these more graphic floral art prints might just be calling your name.

Lisa Congdon’s style would look great in a super modern space–I love the idea of kids coming into a living room or kitchen to do homework with “Openness is Essential to Creativity” hanging on the wall next to them. How inspiring, right? Danielle Kroll’s Clementine print would also be so cute in a kitchen.

Openness is Essential To Creativity print by Lisa Congdon among plants and books Clementine Print by Danielle Kroll

For floral art prints in bold colors with less geometric designs, I think that Alli Stocco’s Flamenco Flamingos are a great fit. I also love the Mae West quote written on the print: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” Such great words to live by!

Rosie Harbottle’s Iris Apfel print brings bright, bold energy into a space. When I see this print I feel inspired to be daring like Iris, and I think all of us could use some of that oomph in our lives.

Flamenco Flamingos by Alli StoccoIris Apfel print by Rosie Harbottle against a sage wall surrounded by stationary and paper plants.

If you’re like me and you can’t get enough of flowers, check out this roundup of floral interior decor–it would all look great with a print from our shop.

What do you look for when choosing art for your home? I would love to see how you decorate with floral art prints, so tag us with #LarsAtHome to share!

Festive Midsummer Dala Horse Baby Mobile

Our original beaded chandelier is timeless and fits in any room, but it was time to make a more colorful, festive mobile for kids. Our new DIY chandelier is inspired by Polish pajakis. In Poland, pajakis hang around homes during Christmas, Easter, and other celebrations like weddings. I wanted to make a mobile that preserves a pajaki’s festive essence while incorporating a Swedish Dala theme.

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Midsummer Traditions

As you know, I love all things traditional Scandinavian. Little flowers and blossoms are popping up around my house and they’re reminding me of Swedish Midsummer celebrations, so I jumped on the inspiration! I know it’s not Midsummer yet, but the English version of the holiday is May Day, which was last week, so I figured I wasn’t too early to celebrate Summer yet!

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Midsummer is a really big deal in Sweden. Because the Winters there are so dark, the Swedish go all out for the longest day of the year!

I wanted to honor some of my favorite Midsummer traditions with this festive mobile. Eating strawberries, dancing around a May pole, Dala horses, and picking wildflowers are all charming parts of Midsummer that I incorporated into my Midsummer Dala Pajaki. I had so much fun making this and I think you’ll love celebrating Summer with this festive mobile, too!

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

By the way, do the strawberries on this project look familiar to you? I borrowed the idea from our strawberry heart cake topper, which would be an incredible addition to a Midsummer party. Alternatively, you could decorate a cake with our Midsummer Pole cake topper! No matter how you do it, I hope you celebrate Summer’s approach!

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Close up of a colorful chandelier with a hanging Dala horse is i

Festive Mobiles

If you’re looking for another mobile for kids, check out the Lola Dutch-inspired mobile we made a few years ago. My friend Sarah Jane wrote a book called Lola Dutch and I designed the mobile to go with it. I still think it’s absolutely adorable!

Be sure to tag us with #LarsMakes after you create your own Midsummer Dala pajaki!

If you liked this project you might also like:

Midsummer Mingle
DIY Dala Horse
DIY Paper maidenhair fern mobile

Op Art Mobile

I’m a firm believer that kid and baby toys should be beautiful, and this op art mobile that you can make at home perfectly fits the bill. Along with this printable project, there are plenty of delightful art prints, accessories, projects, and toys for your kiddo in our baby + children’s shop.

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

Op Art

Op art, which is short for optical art, is a style of art that uses optical illusions. Think bright colors creating the illusion of another color next to them, or patterns that seem to warp and vibrate. If you’re looking at an image and wondering “what in the world is going on inside my eyeballs?” you’re probably looking at op art!

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

When I learned that babies develop their vision by looking at bright colors and high contrast patterns I thought of how perfect a mobile channeling the wild world of op art would be. Thanks to Angie Stalker, who has lots of great work in our print shop, for helping my dream become a reality!

Babies with developing eyesight aren’t the only ones who can benefit from this project! The op art mobile would be a great project to work on with kids. It’s not too tricky and you can even sneak in an art history lesson.

Speaking of which, don’t miss out on our recent Josef Albers-inspired felt board or our Matisse-inspired felt board! Both are easy projects that combine art history with playtime.

If you’re looking for more art history content, check out our Great Artists Course. In this course your little one can learn about several incredible artists by making artwork inspired by the greats. You’ll probably find yourself looking over your kiddo’s shoulder and learning something new, too!

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

Make Your Own Op Art Mobile

Materials

Printable Op Art Mobile Template, card stock (if printing at home), scissors, rubber cement or glue, hole punch, string, wooden beads, craft paint, paint brush, wooden hoop, glue gun, hot glue sticks

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.Painted wooden beads on black and white string against a green wall

Instructions

  1. Print out the Printable Op Art Mobile Template from our shop on some nice thick card stock.
  2. Glue the solid colors and the patterned shapes back to back (alternatively, you can print these back to back).
  3. Cut out your shapes, then cut into them along the dotted lines on the template.
  4. Put your coordinating shapes together so they fit together in the slits you just cut and become 3D.
  5. Punch a hole at the top of each 3D shape.
  6. Prepare your wooden materials by painting them. We painted our wooden hoop half blue and half white, then we painted beads green, light pink, and bright fuchsia. Let these dry completely.
  7. Cut 2 lengths of string to be 30 inches each. Tie the ends of one string to the hoop across from each other (we tied ours right where the blue and yellow paint met on each side). Then tie the ends of the other string between the first and second knots you made so all the points of contact are evenly dispersed. Be careful in this step to keep your strings an even length so that the hoop remains level.
  8. Secure all your knots with a little bit of hot glue.
  9. Cut 5 more lengths of string at varying lengths. Tie one end of each of these to your 3D paper shapes (using the hole you punched earlier). Tie the other end to your wooden hoop. Distribute the shapes evenly around your hoop and secure with a dot of glue.
  10. You will have one 3D shape left over.
  11. Cut one last length of string 4 feet long. About 15 inches from one end, tie this string in a secure knot around the two strings that you tied to the hoop in step 7.
  12. At the short end of your string (about 15 inches from the knot you just tied), attach your last 3D shape. This will be the shape at the center of the mobile.
  13. String your wooden beads onto the long end of this piece. You can secure these in place with a knot if you like, but gravity should keep them from getting away if you don’t.
  14. The long end of the string you just put beads onto is how you’ll hang up your mobile! Put it somewhere that you (or your baby) can admire it.

If you make this op art mobile, we would love to see it! Use #LarsMakes to show us your work.

Colorful, geometric paper shapes hang from a mobile in a green room.

Pour myself a cup of ambition

Ambition

Naturally, I’ve always been ambitious starting from when I was young, though I didn’t always know what I was ambitious for. I was always a really good student, but I think the achievement of excellent grades was more to reach a standard of perfection rather than a specific outcome. Of course I knew, or at least I was taught, that excellent grades meant getting into a great college and lead to a better future and I was all about riding that train. I wanted to make something excellent with my life, whatever that was.

That drive wasn’t necessarily instilled in me by anyone in particular. In fact, my algebra teacher once asked me if my parents were forcing me to get certain grades, no doubt expecting them to be academic tyrants. It might have appeared that way because I would always spend hours trying to figure out equations. On the contrary, my parents were not strict at all and didn’t really push me–they didn’t need to. Math didn’t come easily to me so I worked at it. There was something nice about knowing there was a right answer–I just needed to figure out the best way to get there. It’s probably shocking to anyone who knows me now because I’ve pretty much given up on anything math-related.

In college I remember hearing a lecture about ambition described as a negative thing. This was news to me. I don’t remember too much about the details of that lecture other than feeling that something didn’t sit right. I didn’t buy it. But that’s kind of a motto for my life I suppose–figuring out where I personally sit with what I’m taught and then going for it.

As I mentioned, I didn’t always know what I was ambitious for so just kind of worked hard and acted upon the opportunities that came my way. I realize the immense privilege that comes with this statement–the fact that there ARE opportunities is something I’m grateful for. For example, I specifically joined the Orange County Junior Orchestra in middle school because they had announced that they would be touring France and England the following summer. I had been babysitting and saving my money since I was ten so I had amassed a tiny fortune (for me anyway 😉 and used it to go. We got to perform IN Monet’s Gardens at Giverny and in front of the Eiffel Towel and in places that I’m still shocked about now (I mean, how did they get the permits to do that?!?!). As you might imagine, the trip was absolutely transformative and informs a lot of who I am and how I see the world today.

The Burn Out

Well, as I’ve gotten older and become more exhausted/burned out in my hustling, I’ve started to realize the necessity of being ambitious FOR something. For one thing, I’ve learned that I’m not motivated only by money. If I was I’d definitely be doing something else with my life. Of course I’m motivated to build my business, pay my employees, support my family, and design the house of my dreams, etc., but the main reason I run Lars isn’t for that reason.

What are your motivations?

Additionally, though I’m sure I’d have to do more self reflection on the matter and I’m sure it’s not always the case, I’ve learned that I’m not motivated by the approval of others. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel comfortable owning my own choices and I don’t feel too much pressure to perform for others, whether it’s to make it look like I’m cooler than I am, richer than I am, more beautiful than I am. I’m quite fine with not being the best at all things all the time. Why? Because 1) there’s no such thing as being perfect 2) it’s really boring to be perfect 3) it’s too much upkeep to maintain a certain image that doesn’t really exist, you know?

Mission driven

A few years ago I decided that work is much more fulfilling when it’s attached to a purpose. I know that’s so millennial of me. My mission, our mission, for Lars is to 1) encourage people to work with their hands and 2) to live an artful life. Because when you work with your hands you live a better life and when you do it artfully, it’s intentional.

When I view it through this lens, it’s much easier to not resent work, which is something I have struggle with in the past including as recently as when I was pregnant last year. Anyone else feel super unmotivated and unambitious during pregnancy? Oooo, it’s bad for me!

Reframe ambition

Now that I have an infant and toddler, my ambition continues, but there’s less time and mental capacity. I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll have literally dozens of ideas of how I want to grow Lars and I’m only capable of working one to two hours a day, which is not super conducive to growing a thriving business (and that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it ALL day long–I just can’t implement it as efficiently as I had been). It’s been a point of frustration for me, and probably my team though I haven’t asked them directly and they probably wouldn’t verbalize it even if it was true.

Of course, I realize that childhood is short and I want to take advantage of my time with my children, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. For me, this isn’t an issue of motherhood versus work. It’s also not a “women can do it all” speech. Every woman is different and every situation is different, but I do believe my personal and professional missions can continue just as strong, but just reframed.

How? I’ve worked for years to get Lars to a point where I can have others join me and now I have a great team who I’ve had to rely on more than ever. I feel very lucky to have them and know that they also believe in propelling the mission. They’re not attaching themselves to ME but our MISSION and those are very different things.

SO! Here I am, literally writing this essay while holding a pacifier in my infant’s mouth hoping that he stays asleep for another ten minutes so I can finish this up and pick up Jasper from the babysitter. My ambition isn’t what it used to be because I’m not what I used to be. And perhaps it’s even better that way. I continue to dream and work towards my dreams. They’re different and I’m just working at recognizing the beauty in it all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What motivates YOU? Is ambition a bad word? Tell me!