Safe travels

Safe travels to Denmark

First off, we knew that Denmark has a high vaccination rate (nearly 80%) so we felt more comfortable going. Paul and I are vaccinated and have both received boosters so we felt as secure as we can entering a country. Here, you are required to wear a mask inside all public places and are required to show proof of vaccination to sit down at all eating establishments and public places. We have felt very safe and have done our part to ensure that others feel safe as well.

We can do this

Speaking of doing our part, I’m happy to take part in the We Can Do This campaign to speak up about the things that we can do to protect ourselves and our communities from the ongoing spread of COVID-19, especially our children, who are now at risk. While both of my boys are too young to receive the vaccinations (at this point you must be 5 and older), I’m encouraged by the ongoing research that helps me make informed decisions to maintain healthy families.

COVID risks for children

We are all parents who care about our children. We all have questions and want what’s best for our families. All questions are valid and important. The process of getting your questions answered is important. My goal today is to present correct information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that will help you make the best decision for your family. Here are some things I’ve been researching for parents of 5-year-olds to 17-year-olds:

  • COVID is a greater threat to your child than any potential risk from side effects of the vaccine.
  • There is no way to know how COVID will affect your child, but clinical trials showed vaccines help prevent severe illness and death from COVID.
  • Since August, 1 in 5 new COVID cases have been in kids, but vaccines can bring that number down and help protect children from severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID.

Vaccinations for children to stay safe

I love having the peace of mind knowing that I’m protecting my child with the most effective tool we have. Here’s a few more points that I’ve been learning with regards to the vaccine and COVID for children:

  • COVID vaccines for kids 5+ offer the same effective protection that hundreds of millions of American adults have from COVID vaccines.
  • COVID vaccines are safe and are given to kids 5-11 in smaller doses that have been specially tailored for younger children. Adolescents ages 12 years and older receive the same dosage of the COVID vaccine as adults.
  • In clinical trials, children had the same kinds of temporary side effects from COVID vaccines that adults have, such as pain at the injection site, tiredness, or headache.

It’s nice having these succinct points so nice and tidy, but if you have questions, please consult with your doctor. You can also find more information on vaccines.gov.

I know it’s a long haul at this point, but any amount of protection we can offer to our children and those who are more susceptible to diseases is worth it.

Let’s do this together and then go on another epic trip after. Who’s with me?! Where should we go??? #WeCanDoThis

Want to see more?

If you’re interested in seeing more of Denmark, you can check out my Copenhagen travel guide here.

And remember this epic trip in Denmark?! 

This post is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

DIY headboard

Jasper’s New Bed

First, I have to say that this was more of an undertaking than I had anticipated, and I definitely can’t take all the credit. I had a lot of help from the amazing members of team Lars. Carrie, our designer/maker, and Hailey, our project manager, both took on the challenge to design and sew the bedskirt and duvet cover, and I was thrilled with the result. A special shout out also goes out to my brother in law, Tanner, for helping me tackle the challenge of that tricky, atypical headboard and doing such a splendid job.

headboard

It’s amazing what a good bedspread and headboard will do to spruce up a room and make it feel complete. The decision to cover the headboard, duvet, and underside of the bed was definitely driven by the desire to have something distinctive, loud and eye-catching, but also appropriate for a child’s bedroom. It needed to feel cozy, fun, and warm, and the cabana stripe did just the trick for Jasper’s new bed!

I had been challenged by Waverly Fabrics to make something from their collection at Walmart and it was so easy because they have a wonderful collection of stripes and toiles. It was just hard to narrow it down! AND, the fabric is $3.99/yard so all the fabric for the headboard, duvet, and bedskirt cost less than $60! The plywood cost about the same price (lumber right now, amiright?! With the foam, bias tape, and batting it came to about $150 total for everything.

How to recreate Jasper’s new DIY headboard

We had so much fun designing Jasper’s DIY headboard. It was hard to narrow it down! I knew I wanted something I had never seen before so Gwen sketched out a bunch of designs. She sketched one out and that was it–a circus tent-inspired shape that paired SO perfectly with the fun, striped, cabana fabric we chose. With some patience and a little effort, we feel totally confident in your ability to make this children’s bedspread work! The trick is accurate measurements. Let’s do this!

Jasper's bed

Prepping the materials for a DIY Headboard

Fabric

  1. Pre-wash the fabric you’ll be using for the duvet cover. It’s probably not necessary to wash the headboard fabric, as you won’t really be removing it later to wash it again, anyway. You can decide if you want to pre-wash the bedskirt fabric, but it’s probably not the end of the world if you don’t.
  2. After the fabric is washed in warm water and dried on a low heat setting in the dryer, iron or steam out the wrinkles. This makes the measuring process much easier. Don’t forget to get the wrinkles out of the fabric you didn’t pre-wash!

doll

DIY headboard

If you’re not familiar with upholstery, this might be the trickiest part of recreating Jasper’s new bed, but you can do it! We’ll walk you through it.

Prepping the understructure

  1. First, use butcher paper to make a template for your headboard. Use the mattress and bed frame as a reference so you get the dimensions right.

butcher paper headboard prep

  1. Using a jigsaw or handheld router, take your piece of plywood and cut out your desired shape for the headboard. The full width of the headboard should be the same width as the short side of your bed.
  2. Cut out the thick foam piece (it’s a camping foam from Home Depot) into the same shape as the plywood. The bottom of the foam should rest right above the mattress when set up right.
  3. Using quilting batting, wrap the portion of the headboard with the foam and secure with a few staples. Make sure to extend the batting all the way under the foam. We slip stitched it to the foam.

headboard close-up

Prepping the fabric for the DIY headboard

  1. Measure the dimensions of the cut-out, batting-wrapped headboard. You’ll need four sections of fabric: one for the front (this piece will extend from the top of the mattress all the way to the top), one for the thin middle section between front and back, one for the back, and one for the bottom front section below the mattress.
  2. In your dimensions, make sure to add 1/2 in (or desired amount) of seam allowances to all three sections of fabric.
  3. Now, with your desired color of bias tape (we used a periwinkle blue), make piping to line the front and back edges of the headboard. To do this, take your cord (1/8″ wide is good), and wrap it into the center of the bias tape, wrong sides together.
  4. Sew along the open edge with a zipper foot so you can get nice and close the the cord.
  5. Next, align the front piece of fabric with the middle section’s fabric, right sides together. As you pin, carefully align the edge of the piping (the edge without the cord) with the edges of the fabric sections, slipping the piping between the two pieces of fabric as you go. Sew in place with a zipper foot, trying to keep as close to the cord as you can.

Assembling the headboard

Now you’re ready to put everything in place!

  1. To make sure everything is aligned right, line up the point of the fabric with the understructure.
  2. At the base of the batting on the headboard, staple the fabric in place, making sure to pull it taut.

3. Now, pull up firmly and slide the sewn pieces over the front edge of the headboard and pull them towards the back so the corners are nice and taut against the frame.

4. Pull taut at the back and staple in place. Work from both sides and the center evenly to avoid puckering.

5. Now, take the piece of fabric you measured for the back and fold under 1/2 inch. Now line up with the edge of the back and staple in place to cover the raw edges of the front pieces.

6. The headboard is complete! Whew, the hardest part of Jasper’s new bed is done!

 

headboard alt shot

Sewing a bedskirt

Taking the measurements

For the bedskirt on Jasper’s new bed, you’ll want to start with measurements. The measurements you’ll use will depend on the size of bed you have, and whether or not you have a box spring. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Measure the length, width, and height of your bed frame. If you have a box spring, include the height of the box spring in the total height measurement of the bed frame. For example, if your bed frame is 12 inches tall, and the box spring is 7 inches tall, the total height you’d need would be 19 inches. We didn’t use a box spring, so our dimensions were 12 inches for the height, 74 inches for the length, and 38 inches for the width.

bedskirt close up

Cutting the fabric

For the fabric, you’ll need a basic, white (or other solid color that won’t show), woven fabric. You’ll also need the patterned fabric of your choice for the bedskirt, duvet and headboard. Here’s how to cut the fabric:

  1. First, take the plain fabric and cut it into the length and width of your twin bed. Add on 1/2 of an inch to each dimension. For example, since our length was 74 inches and our width 38 inches, we cut a large piece that was 75 inches by 39 inches.
  2. Next, cut out your bedskirt pieces. This takes a bit of thinking, especially if the pattern on your fabric needs to go a certain direction, like our vertical stripes. To cut out the bedskirt, think of it this way: you need one long piece of fabric that has a width of 13 (the height of the bed frame, 12, plus a seam allowance). For the length, you’ll need a piece that’s the length of three of the sides of the bed (74+38+74=186). You’ll also need to add in the length of four pleats, which are 12 inches each (12×4), then (186+48=234). Then add 1 inch to each end, so you can hem it under. The total length=236 inches.
  3. Now, because we wanted vertical stripes on Jasper’s new bed, we pieced together a bunch of pieces of fabric to get that length (the width of the fabric was definitely not long enough). It will look pretty seamless if you just match up the stripes, making sure to alternate stripe colors when you sew on a new section of fabric.

Jasper's new bed

Assembling the pleats

  1. the first step in sewing the pieces together is to hem the bottom of the long strip of fabric you’ve already sewn together (roll under 1/2 in, then 1/2 again).
  2. Hem one end of the large, rectangular piece of fabric. (Again, roll under 1/2 in, then 1/2 again).
  3. Next, you need to pin the pleats in place. To do this, start from one end of the long strip of fabric and measure in HALF the length of the long dimension (74/2=37). Mark that spot with a pin. Now, keep going in that same direction and measure 6 more inches. Mark that with a pin, then measure 6 more inches and mark that.
  4. Now, take the two pins on either side and bring them to the center pin to make the pleat. Secure the pleat in place with additional pins.
  5. Repeat the steps above for the pleat on the opposite end.
  6. For the corner and center pleats, simply calculate how far over the next pleats need to be, based on your bed’s dimensions. Pin them in place the same way you did the first two pleats.

Jasper's new bed close

Sewing the pieces together

You’re finally ready to sew the pieces together! This is really simple:

  1. To sew the pieces together, line up the raw edge of the long, pleated strip of fabric with the large rectangular piece of fabric all along the border, with right sides together. Sew in place, and finish the raw edge of the underside with a zig zag or serged finish to prevent fraying.
  2. Done! Now you can go ahead and slip this bedskirt on the bed between the bed frame/box spring and mattress.

books on duvet

DIY duvet cover

The duvet cover is the finishing touch of the bedspread that really gives it the oo la la! It also happens to be the easiest to make, which is a big relief after that headboard and bedskirt! Here’s how to make a simple duvet cover:

Taking the measurements

  1. Make sure you have the right size of duvet, then base the length and width off of its dimensions. Our duvet was a standard twin, which was 66″x 86″.
  2. Leave these dimensions as they are, rather than adding on additional seam allowances.  This will make the duvet fit nice and snugly inside of the cover, for a nice, full appearance.

Front view Jasper's bed

Cutting the fabric

  1. If you have custom fabric that’s extra wide or made for bedding, you’re in luck! You’ll just need two, big pieces that are both 66″x 88″ (leaving room for extra hems at the bottom, so you can slip the duvet inside).
  2. If your fabric is like ours was, and is more of a standard width (ours was 44″), you’ll simply need to sew it together to make it wider. Ours has a very subtle seam in the middle that’s hidden because the seam is exactly in line with the stripes.
  3. Once you have your two pieces cut, you’ll prep them for the rest of the sewing by hemming one short side of each piece.
  4. Now you’re ready to sew it together!

side view of bed

Sewing the pieces together

  1. Now, simply line up the edges, both hemmed sides matching up and right sides together, and sew around the three, un-hemmed sides. Backstitch at each end for extra strength.
  2. To finish the seams, zig zag or serge the edge to prevent fraying.
  3. If you’d like to, you can add a few buttonholes and buttons to the open end to keep it closed once the duvet is inside.
  4. The last step is to simply arrange everything and make the bed. Voila!

This bedspread is so cozy and perfect for Jasper’s bedroom, it was totally worth the time and effort it took! We are in love with Jasper’s new bed. We can’t wait to see what you do in your kids’ rooms!

Jasper's New Bed

More inspiration

Did you love this tutorial featuring Jasper’s new bed? You’ll probably love these, as well: Felix’s new nurseryour new closet system, before and after master bedroom, and designing our main bathroom.

We’ve got more plans for his bedroom. Stay tuned!

Thyroid Eye Disease: My Story

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

Discovering TED

For those of you who are new to all of this (I definitely was when I involuntarily jumped into this boat), Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that causes hyperthyroidism. What?! Me, hyperthyroidism? You can imagine my surprise.

Something was off, I could feel it for sure, but with a new baby, running a business, and all the stresses of life, I couldn’t tell if I was just stressed out, burned out, or who knows what. Eventually I went to the doctor because I really wasn’t doing well. I hadn’t lost a single pound from birth, my hormones were heightened (that’s a tactful way of saying it my husband would say ;), and my blurry “light-headedness” was at an all-time high.

Brittany and FelixThe doctor helped me pinpoint that it wasn’t actually light-headedness, it was my vision. It was slow to focus and blurry. These were the symptoms directly after childbirth!

Thyroid Eye Disease

Luckily for me, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, I’ve partnered up with Horizon Therapeutics on its Listen to Your Eyes campaign to share information on the link between thyroid conditions, like Graves’ disease, and a separate but related disease called Thyroid Eye Disease (TED). Did you know that up to 50% of people living with Graves’ disease are at risk for developing Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)? 

Thyroid Eye Disease

Since my diagnosis, I’ve opened my eyes (pun not intended) to the possibility of new diagnoses and how beneficial this information can be to others who may be struggling with similar issues but are lacking the resources they need to understand what they’re living with and how to cope.

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED)

Knowledge brings hope

When I began this journey, I felt at a loss to understand what was happening to my body. Now I know so much and am still learning!

Thyroid Eye Disease (TED) causes eye symptoms including bulging, double vision and debilitating pain. If not treated early, TED can cause serious damage to vision and appearance of the eyes. TED can even cause vision loss in more severe cases.

Brittany and Felix

I still have so much to learn but have a lot of hope for the future. If you or someone you love has Graves’ disease, pay attention to any eye symptoms. If you notice changes in your eyes, like bulging, light sensitivity and pain, don’t just assume those symptoms are part of Graves’ disease. Report them to a TED Specialist – such as an oculoplastic surgeon or neuro-ophthalmologist.

To find a nearby TED Specialist and other resources, visit www.FOCUSonTED.com.

This post is sponsored by Horizon Therapeutics. Thanks to our sponsors that allow us to create unique content for you!

Kid’s Toys: Lars Shop Highlight

What is Eeboo?

We couldn’t tell you about our Eeboo kid’s toys without introducing the company’s incredible background. First of all, women and mothers run this company. I mean, who knows kid’s toys better than mothers? I love how thoughtful these toys are. They make board games, watercolor sets, puzzles, and so much more. (You can find them here!) It just goes to show how the experience of being a mother influences their ability to understand children’s brains and what they need. And need I mention that they have the awards (Oppenheim best toy awards and honors) to prove it?

kid's toys

kid's toys

Encouraging development in children

One amazing aspect of Eeboo as a company is their focus on developmental learning in kid’s toys. They help kids develop skills like literacy, storytelling, drawing, imaginative play, and basic math. I mean, could I be more impressed? Kid’s toys that help their development while also helping them have fun? I can say from experience that it can definitely be a challenge to get kids to want to settle down when they’re feeling wild. And you can forget concentrating on learning things like math. So to have kid’s toys that are fun, interactive, and help make learning fun is a dream come true.

kid's toys

Screen-free

At Eeboo, the goal with their kid’s toys is to integrate learning and play in a screen-free way. This is so important (and need I say refreshing?) when we all have screens coming out our ears! It’s hard to get away, and these kid’s toys are a really beautiful way to succeed at it.

Commissioned illustrators

They also commission all their artwork from well-known and well-loved illustrators. It shows, too! The illustrations make their kid’s toys feel so fresh and original–artwork straight from the source. And friends, these illustrations are beautiful. They are delicate, detailed, and full of personality. Need I add that they are colorful and bright? They’re just what every child needs to stay interested and engaged.

Look at the illustrations on these watercolors and paper! Incredible, right? They’d make the perfect gift for a rainy afternoon to get those creative juices flowing.

kid's toyskid's toys

Care and dedication

I’d have to say one of my favorite things about these Eeboo kid’s toys is the care and dedication they give to their customers. They even have a booklet that talks about their values and priorities. I mean, come on! They go to great efforts to be sustainable, respect diversity, value design, and so much more.

I just keep dreaming about the things I would have done if I’d had these toys as a kid. I love how these building blocks promote creativity and imaginative play, for instance.

kid's toys

If you haven’t caught on by now, I am in love with these kid’s toys and can’t wait for Jasper (and eventually Felix) to start playing with them! Click here to get to our whole Eeboo shop collection. If you also fell in love while reading this, you’ll probably also love these other favorites: Kid’s art kit, Op art paper mobile, Thanksgiving coloring placemats, and quilted dog book plate.

Painted Mini Pumpkins

Painted Mini Pumpkins

I love the look of all of our mini painted pumpkins this year, especially as a cohesive look. In fact, the more the better! We based them off of our new Casetify collection because they are definitely worth replicating! The checkerboard is such a fun and easy pattern to paint as is the colorblock and squiggles. The florals take a bit more work but they are *chef’s kiss.* Do you have a fave? I’m leaning towards the folk floral, but then again, that’s also my favorite case so there’s a theme there.

painted pumpkins DIY

How to paint mini pumpkins

We started out with white pumpkins so that it would be easier to see the pattern. Orange works too, but you need more layers of paint to see the design. It’s also easier if you choose pumpkins with longer stems. I know that because we couldn’t find any and it was tricky! It’s nice to be able to hold onto something sturdy.

painted pumpkins to match The House That Lars Built casetify cases

Materials

  • white mini pumpkins (you should be able to get these at most grocery stores this time of year!)
  • acrylic or house paint (see colors below!)
  • paintbrushes
  • UV sealant (optional–keeps the paint looking nice longer)

How to paint a checkerboard pattern on a pumpkin

To create the checkerboard pattern on a pumpkin you will need to do the following:

  1. Paint your whole pumpkin in the lighter of the two colors you plan to use. Let it dry,
  2. With a thin marker, draw lines down each of the mini pumpkin’s natural grooves. The lines won’t be perfectly measured, but they will be a lot easier to paint this way!
  3. Draw even horizontal stripes around the mini pumpkin.
  4. Fill in every other box with the darker paint! Make sure you cover up the marker lines.
  5. We added in thicker accent stripes to mimic our cases just for fun
  6. Add on your UV sealant if desired.

folk painted pumpkin

How to make the quilted folk floral mini pumpkin

  1. Use your permanent marker to draw out a grid pattern on your mini pumpkin, similarly to how you did with the above checkerboard technique. We made ours two grooves thick so that the “quilt squares” were bigger.
  2. Paint in the colors of your squares. Wait until dry.
  3. Use the end of a pencil or large paintbrush to create a ring of the petals inside the squares.
  4. Paint contrasting circles onto each square in the center of the petals.
  5. Use UV sealant if desired to seal the paint.

How to make wavy line painted mini pumpkin

How to make the simple floral painted mini pumpkin

  1. Paint the whole mini pumpkin in a solid background color.
  2. Follow the flower instructions from the quilted pumpkin, but without the squares–just place them around your pumpkin randomly!
  3. Use UV sealant if desired to seal the paint.

How to make large floral painted mini pumpkin

These are one of my favorites! I love the decorative element it brings.

  1. With your permanent marker, draw lines down the mini pumpkin’s natural segments, dividing it into even sections.
  2. Draw out your design in each section. Our design includes an abstract flower at the top (yellow), a tall, symmetrical flower taking up most of the pumpkin’s body (in shades of red and pink with a green stem and leaves), and two abstract flowers at the bottom (yellow).
  3. Using the background color, paint in most of the pumpkin’s background. Avoid painting over your sketch of the flowers, but if you cross the marker lines a little bit, you should be okay. You just want to leave enough of your drawing so that you can see where to paint your flower.
  4. With your yellow, pink, red, and green paints, paint in the rest of your floral design.
  5. Use UV sealant if desired to seal the paint.

floral painted pumpkins

How to make the wavy lined painted mini pumpkin

  1. Paint the whole mini pumpkin in a solid background color.
  2. With an accent color, paint the outline of a wavy, squiggly design down the mini pumpkin’s side.
  3. Fill in your wavy shape with the same accent color.
  4. Use UV sealant if desired to seal the paint.

A clump of painted mini pumpkins in bright colors.

How to make the delicate floral painted mini pumpkin

This one is such a pretty showstopper, and it’s way easier than it looks! You’ll use a fine tipped paintbrush instead of a foam paintbrush. Just make sure to clean it between colors!

  1. If desired, paint the whole mini pumpkin a solid background color. I opted not to, instead showing off the pretty white pumpkin color, but you do you!
  2. With green paint, paint little curved lines as flower stems and wavy green leaves coming off the bottom of them. Distribute these around the pumpkin randomly.
  3. Top the flower stems with white or light pink flowers with red centers.
  4. Paint abstract yellow flowers around the pumpkin’s surface.
  5. Fill in empty space with mini periwinkle, pink, red, and orange flowers. For these, just make a few small brushstrokes. Paint a tiny green stem underneath or a white dot in the middle for a different style.
  6. Use UV sealant if desired to seal the paint.

delicate floral painted pumpkin on a pink and orange background. There's a matching phone case next to it.

Marbling technique didn’t work this time

We tried doing a marbling technique as inspired by our Casetify marbled case, but it just wasn’t working out. I’ll be sharing the failed version over on Instagram (hahahaha!). If you have a marbling technique that has worked for you in the past, let us know!

cell phone cases match the painted pumpkins

You can shop our The House That Lars Built for Casetify Collection here

We would love to see how you’re painting your mini pumpkins this year. Tag us with #LarsHalloween or #LarsMakes so we can see them! 

If you liked these painted pumpkins you might also like these ones:

Rainbow painted pumpkins
Pastel painted face pumpkins
DIY rainbow pumpkin arch
Pumpkin favor with leaf template

A Life Well Lived

A Life Well Lived

Clearly I’m not Matt Damon nor am I on any track to becoming a movie star, but saying yes has not been on my agenda for quite some time. To be fair, how could it? The last year and a half has brought out a lot of no’s. No to public outings, no to gatherings, no to civil discourse. And just when we thought we could start saying yes we were stuck with COVID in July and then the air quality was so bad in Utah that we couldn’t even go outside. Certainly not on the path to a life well lived.

living joie de vivre
Perhaps my team has noticed the shift because I recently took them on two spontaneous field trips. Here we visited the new Harmony store here in Provo, which is a real gem.

In other words–I’ve been feeling STUCK! Physically, emotionally, mentally…all the ways. You too? It doesn’t feel good. Doesn’t feel like living.

Feeling stuck as a new mother

Now, I’m also a new mom to a 9 month old. Any one with a new baby might know the feeling of being stuck. Sometimes you’re physically stuck at home nursing on a schedule or waiting on naps or just hanging out waiting on their every move. It’s constant and exhausting. It’s also emotionally draining and your hormones are playing a game of kickball inside your body. Well, sometimes it’s also a game of pool or kickboxing. Definitely some type of martial arts.

Getting outside your comfort zone to experience a life well lived

So, when I heard Matt Damon talk about saying yes I thought, THAT’S IT! THAT is a life well lived! I need to say yes more because life is too short to say no! And when even did I get trapped in my comfort zone?! And when did my life start taking the shape of a cross stitched life motto?!

As I’m typing this out, I’m realizing that I was actually really good at getting outside my comfort zone and experiencing a life well lived in my 20s and early 30s. And because of it I’ve had some really awesome opportunities…and some more frightening moments. But all experiences that made me grow.

a life well lived
The other was going up to Salt Lake to see one of our own, Gwen’s art show.

For fear of waxing nostalgic I’ll stop there and just say, it’s time to get outside of that comfort zone again. Somehow. Ha! I don’t know how that’s going to happen quite yet because we’re still in a pandemic and I still have a baby, but I am willing and more focused on living more intentionally.

Joie de Vivre means more than just a life well lived

The term joie de vivre keeps on coming back to me–I think about it all the time. I think it’s because I had a friend who told me a story of how her mom once gave a lecture to one of her siblings for not displaying enough of it. Can you imagine?! Joie de vivre! An “exuberance for life”, an “exultation of spirit”! There are few words or phrases that capture the human spirit more than joie de vivre and who wouldn’t want to live life to the fullest?! That is the essence of a life well lived!

Ideas on living a life well lived

Basically what I’m saying is that I want to feel joie de vivre EVEN THOUGH I can’t just drop everything and travel the world or whatever it is that I haven’t yet dreamed up yet. Perhaps a life well lived is experienced in the little things right now? Maybe making a little extra effort to go to a fantastic spot for a walk or hike. Perhaps it’s setting one responsibility aside to focus a bit on something that brings joy. I don’t know! Clearly I’ve got some brainstorming to do or maybe you have ideas for me? Would love to hear them!

Tell me about your life well lived. Are you living it now? If so, I want your tips. If not, what’s the road block? I bet I could join you 😉

Easy Halloween Ideas From Our Shop

My ideal Halloween is playfully spooky, crafty, and (above all) easy, and there’s no such thing as too many easy Halloween ideas. If you’re looking for a fun, simple way to celebrate the season without turning your home into a Spirit Halloween storefront, read on for easy Halloween ideas!

Easy Halloween Decorations

This Haunted House makes a perfect Halloween centerpiece and conversation starter. You’ll make it from recycled cardboard boxes, which is a win for Planet Earth, and it’s beautiful enough to come back year after year, which is a win for you! Check out our blog post on it here.

Cardboard Haunted House for recycled holiday decor

If you love the spooky aspect of Halloween, check out this Vampire Teeth Garland. It’s creepy without being too macabre, and oh so easy.

DIY vampire teeth garland

Another slightly spooky and impeccably easy decor idea is this wooden transfer plaque template! I’m all for riding the line between pretty and creepy at Halloween, and these really fit the bill. Find the tutorial here.

wooden cross sections of branches with spiders and bugs transferred onto them hanging from maroon ribbons.

This painted pumpkin face template makes for such a fun, easy DIY! Give your porch some whimsy this Halloween by painting these sweet characters on your pumpkins. Read the tutorial here and get painting!

painted pastel pumpkin faces against a pink background

How many times can you say “pretty paper pumpkin project?” Whatever your answer, you should check out this template for rainbow paper pumpkins, along with this tutorial blog post. These make a beautiful, refined, seasonal table setting, they’ll look great for all of Autumn, not jus Halloween. A Thanksgiving comeback, anyone?

orange, gold, and yellow paper pumpkins on a table setting.

If you’re in a pinch and looking for quick decorations, don’t forget this post about last minute Halloween decor!

Easy Halloween Costume Ideas

There’s something to be said for a super intricate, detailed costume for sure. But even if you don’t have the time and energy to become a perfectly accurate storm trooper, dressing up doesn’t have to be out of your reach. Lots of our costume templates just require some simple clothing, some paper, and a prop or two. No professional costuming degree necessary!

Our Ruth Bader Ginsberg collar is maybe our simplest costume for adults. Just cut it out (a cricut or other cutting machine is helpful here), put it over a dark dress, and pull your hair back. Voilà! You’re ready to advocate for your sisters.

A white paper lace collar on a black background.

If you’ve been a Lars reader for more than about a minute you’ll know that I love flowers. So of course I wanted to dress up as a bouquet! Ha! Practice making some paper flowers for this Sweet Pea Paper Flower Bouquet costume (and read the tutorial here).

Brittany wearing a bouquet costume with paper flowers and a white paper wrapper against a green backdrop

Group costumes are always so fun, so pair your bouquet costume with greenhouse garb for a friend! This greenhouse costume uses cardboard and iron-on flowers, and is sure to turn heads. You can find the tutorial here.

a white woman with brown hair wears a green dress with iron on flowers, a greenhouse hat, and yellow clogs. She's holding flowers and a watering can.

Another cute Halloween costume for a pair of friends would be our beehive and picnic costumes. Both use an iron-on technique to make easy halloween costumes that are as cute as a bug. Find the tutorials here.

Brittany wears a gingham red dress with ants ironed onto it and holds a rattan picnic bag. a white woman wearing a yellow dress with iron-on bees, black gloves, a bee headband, and black shoes stands in front of a blue background.

This constellation costume with iron-on stars is absolutely dazzling. Honestly, you might as well break it out all year round because it’s that beautiful.

a blonde woman wearing an off-the-shoulder black jumpsuit with silvers stars all over it, sparkly makeup, and a spangled headband against a periwinkle background

For a subtle Halloween look, just print off our Pumpkin Crown and wear warm autumn tones.

Printable Pumpkin Crown

Easy Halloween Costumes for Kids

One of our most glamorous costumes with templates in the shop is our sun, cloud and rainbow set. This makes a great baby and mom costume, because you can add sun rays to a baby bonnet. I love how our model matched the baby’s outfit to her sling! With this costume you can invest as much or as little as you want. Just want the Sun and Rainbow headpiece? No problem. What about the Cloud Bag and Cloud Earrings? Done. Just want a sunny baby bonnet pattern? Your wish is our command. Make the costume just how you like it with this tutorial.

Rainbow costumeRainbow and sun mommy and me costume

This Giving Tree costume is another easy Halloween idea that you could make in a flash. And who doesn’t want to reference a classic children’s book in their costume? Find the tutorial here.

A mom wearing a green outfit with leaves and holding a felt apple bag stands next to her child in red overalls. They're dressed as the Giving Tree.

If you have a gaggle of children to costume, consider our Three Blind Mice baby costume pattern or our Crayon Hat template. Both are simple to put together and oh so sweet.

3 blind mice diy costume for kidsFour kids wearing crayon halloween costumes in orange, red, blue, and green.

Halloween Party Supplies

Even though gathering in big groups for Halloween parties is starting to look less and less likely (again 😔), you can still throw a Halloween party for your family, roommates, or pod! This Halloween Party Suite includes printable invitations, placemats, party tags, and place cards. Talk about easy Halloween ideas!

Halloween themed place cards.

Paper party goods with a halloween theme on a black background. They're orange, yellow, black, white, navy, and peach.

And for a party favor, try these printable poppers or printable Halloween candy gift boxes.

Halloween party poppersPrintable Halloween Candy Gift Box

These Halloween coupons make a fun halloween activity for your family. They’re a great way for parents to get their kids to relinquish some candy in return for fun activities.

halloween coupons in pink, red, blue, and black.

These illustrated Halloween cards are another great party favor because you can attach them to treat bags, trade them, send them as cards, or just hang them up.

Printable Halloween Cards

If your party is more freaky than funky, you might like this elegant invitation and Halloween dinner menu.

black and white illustrated halloween party invitation in a black decorative hadn surrounded by foliage and fruitsBlack and floral printable halloween menu

Party Food

Real talk here: what’s a party without cake? Use these printables and templates to make your Halloween cake extra fancy. The Spooky Town printable cake topper set is quaint and just a bit creepy, while this Black Birds cake topper is decidedly Hitchcock-approved. Red velvet cake makes it even more dramatic!

a colorful, cute printable cake topper set on a cake."The Birds" Cake Topper

If your fall party isn’t so Halloween-specific (or even if it is!) this Fall Leaf cake topper will add elegance and fun to the celebration.

DIY fall leaf cake topper

Looking for more cards, costumes, and decor? Search for Halloween on our blog! You’ll be blown away by the years of great, easy Halloween ideas and DIYs. If you’re interested in many of these ideas (who wouldn’t be!?), you can check out our E-Book, The Halloween that Lars Made. It’s a one-stop shop for easy Halloween ideas, DIYs, and projects.

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!

DIY duffel bag picnic blanket tote

DIY duffel bag picnic blanket tote

I recently read Ray Bradbury’s book Dandelion Wine and I loved this quote: “Sandwich outdoors isn’t a sandwich anymore. Tastes different than indoors, notice? Got more spice. Tastes like mint and pinesap. Does wonders for the appetite.”

I truly buy into the idea that food tastes different outdoors! I think about the packed meals I would eat on hikes with my dad growing up, and somehow a plain old ham and cheese truly would taste far better when I was tired and outside. Use this DIY duffel bag picnic blanket tote on your next adventure. Hopefully you’ll get the delicious outdoor flavor without having to deal with attitude from reluctant adventurers. 😉

One of the perks of Spoonflower is the custom design features. My sister, Caitlin Watson Boyes, has some of her fabric designs on Spoonflower under her company called Funky Pretty, and she has designed some great stripes. I was immediately drawn to this stripe and thought I’d just go for it on both sides. BUT THEN I thought…let’s customize it! Caitlin is a textile and pattern designer and so I had her do something with our dad on it. We call it  Dad’s Head Through the Ages. Ha! I find it hysterical! And even funnier because I haven’t told him about it yet and he’ll be finding out as you are. You’re welcome, Dad!

The best part is the practicality of the blanket. We made it so that it’s SO easy to pack and unpack. The two straps allow you to fold it up like a duffle bag. So easy to carry around! AND, you can even place your plates and such in the blanket as you fold it and it will keep it nice and compact. Score!

Material List:

  • 2 yards each of 2 Spoonflower fabrics in lightweight cotton twill
  • Matching Thread
  • 6 yards coordinating bias tape (We used double folded)
  • 2 yards 60” wide batting
  • 1 yard of webbing
  • Scissors
  • Fabric Ruler
  • Cutting Mat
  • Sewing Machine
  1. Cut batting and your 2 fabrics all the same size (size of blanket you want)
  2. Put right sides out with batting in between
  3. Sew all three layers
  4. Open the bias tape, stick the blanket edge in, pinch closed and pin
  5. Continue around the perimeter of the blanket
  6. After pinning, Sew bias tape down
  7. Cut your webbing in 2 even lengths
  8. Pin and sew one strap to the center of the top edge of the blanket
  9. Fold your blanket into thirds with the strap as the center top
  10. Roll your blanket towards the strap
  11. Mark where your second strap needs to be
  12. Unroll and unfold
  13. Pin and sew the second length of webbing downTaDa(d) <see what I did there 😉

We’ve done a number of sponsored posts with Spoonflower now and I’m one of their biggest fans. If you’re looking for fabric, wallpaper, or even home decor centered around a particular theme (seasons, fathers, you name it!), Spoonflower is sure to have what you’re looking for. If you’re a designer, I encourage you to upload a pattern of your own! But if uploading a pattern with your father’s face on it isn’t really your thing, try building a collection of existing patterns on Spoonflower’s Marketplace (there are over 1 million!). Stay tuned for a post about some of my favorite Spoonflower artists!showing a picnic blanket that turns into a duffle bag

This post is sponsored by Spoonflower. All opinions are my own.

Check out our other posts for Spoonflower:

Mother’s Day Tablescape
DIY fabric lampshade
My bedroom makeover
How to install Spoonflower wallpaper

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