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!

DIY Apple Paper Lunch Sack for Back to School

Show your love with this DIY teacher’s gift

Did you ever hand your schoolteacher an apple? I don’t actually think I gave them apples, but I definitely did my fair share of brown-nosing teachers when I was in school. For most of the sixth grade, I ate lunch in the teacher’s lounge. I thought I was so cool. Those of you adept in middle school sociology know that this made me very uncool. Regardless, thanking the teachers in your life is an important thing to do! They do an incredibly important job, and now more than ever I recognize their value. Maybe you can send Junior to class with a teacher’s gift in an adorable DIY Paper Lunch Sack.

DIY teacher's gift for back to school

Homeschool? Hooray!

Shout out to any parents homeschooling for the first time this fall. Your students are certainly the apples of your eye, and they couldn’t have picked a more loving teacher! If you’re hesitant to dive back into the fray, relax for a moment with the kids and make this easy DIY Paper Lunch Sack! The activity itself is fun, relaxing, and great for connecting as a family. An added bonus is how excited you all will be to whip out your custom lunch bags!

Regardless of how your family approaches education, many of you are heading back to the books in the next few weeks. I apple-aud you! (If you are still deciding what to do, our 78 favorite homeschool activities might help you decide!) After the never-ending summer of heat, I’m tempted to head to a classroom myself for a dose of that frigid A/C. I hope this cute bag we came up with will make the first day of school special. And it’s honestly so simple and affordable. It’s super easy and is a great way to get into the school season. I’ve also used these DIY Paper Lunch Sacks as custom gift bags for teachers, friends, neighbors, whomever! We even have a cute video on our YouTube Channel to show you the ropes. (Have you subscribed yet?!) How ya like them apples?

DIY apple lunch sack for back to school

We were partly inspired by Rebecca Thuss’ cute paper cherry to create the adorable leaf perfect for topping the bag.

How to make your DIY Paper Lunch Sack

Materials:
Instructions:
  1. Draw an outline of an apple near the base of the lunch sack
  2. Fill in outline with red acrylic paint
  3. Add a curved line to look like a shiny reflection on the apple with white acrylic paint
  4. Cut out two leaf shapes from white crepe paper
  5. With black acrylic, paint leaf veins on both white crepe leaves
  6. Glue both crepe leaves together with floral wire sandwiched in the middle. Makes sure to leave enough wire on the bottom to poke leaf into bag
  7. Twist top of lunch sack and insert leaf
    DIY apple lunch sackDIY apple lunch sack for back to school for a DIY teacher's gift

Photography by Anna Killian

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

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.

Easter Crafts

Our Favorite Easter Crafts

We have so many Easter crafts that we’re just thrilled to share with you this year. Many of them are brand new, too! Need a new Easter Basket? We’re here for you. How about a fresh spring wreath? We’ve also got you covered in that department. Without further ado, here’s the list of our favorite Easter crafts!

Wreaths

I love a good wreath. And spring wreaths are some of my favorites! They’re a must have when talking about Easter crafts. This year we have a brand new Palm Leaf Wreath you’re sure to love. It’s delicate, colorful, and festive. Just the thing to celebrate Palm Sunday, Easter and spring all in one go! If you’re feeling more into eggs, try our ever popular Easter egg wreath, or this sweet Honeycomb Easter wreath. Both are lovely and sure to put a little spring in your step. Also, you can’t go wrong with a simple floral theme. This Daffodil Wreath is very appropriate for the season, as is this Lemon Wreath!

Easter Baskets

You can’t have Easter crafts without Easter baskets! And we have a brand new one for you to try this year. It’s our DIY Easter Basket, and the best part is that it doesn’t require any sewing. Another clever no-sew Easter basket is this Paper Easter basket. Just download, print, cut and assemble, it’s that easy! If you want to sew an adorable bag that doubles as an Easter basket and will be around for years to come, try this carrot shoulder bag! The bonus is it packs up easily and is equally cute.

If you’re looking for inspiration on what to fill your basket with, look no further than this Easter Basket choose your own adventure. We help guide you through the steps to picking your perfect Easter basket, along with everything to put inside it, like this Paper carrot treat box, or this DIY stuffed bunny. You can also make some of these Danish Easter letters to tuck inside.

Eggs

As it so happens, we have a lot of Easter crafts that have to do with eggs. Are you really that surprised? I mean, what’s Easter without at least one little nod to an egg or two. Just yesterday, we release the most lovely nesting Easter eggs! We love the little twist on original nesting dolls. Also try these Easter egg columns, which are a lovely way to decorate your home this Easter. Don’t forget about these Honeycomb Easter eggs, either! Make them into a wreath or decorate with the individual eggs. Either way they’re lovely!

Another fun variation on decorating Easter eggs are these dried flowers on Easter eggs, as well as our Pysanky Easter eggs (here’s the E-book of the Pysanky eggs, the profits of which will be donated to the Ukrainian relief effort). If you’re into more decorating, try our DIY pom pom Easter eggs! Or if you’re having a party, you’ll definitely want to take a look at our Easter egg name tags, Easter egg cupcake toppers, and Easter egg runner.

For Kids

If you have kids, you’ll love these Easter-themed toys, accessories, and activities. First stop: these fun bunny party hats. Having a new baby this spring? You won’t want to miss these adorable DIY Baby bonnets! Need a craft to do with your kids to keep them busy and happy? You’ll love these Easter Egg coloring pages, the profits of which will be donated to the Ukrainian relief effort. Then there’s our DIY stuffed bunny, which is a sweet little Easter toy. Plop it in your child’s Easter basket and you’re all set!

 

Spring Shop Launches!

So much has been going on in our shop that I have a whole list of Spring shop launches to announce! Working with incredible artists and brands is such a fun aspect of what I do, and I’m so excited to announce these Springtime collaborations and additions to the shop.

Betsy Croft

Betsy holds a special place in my heart because she used to be an intern at The House that Lars Built! On top of that, she is an amazing ceramic artist (check out our interview of her here). I adore her new line and I’m ecstatic that I get to partner with her and sell her work through my shop!

Betsy’s mugs are so beautiful and unique that you won’t want to close the cupboard doors on them. I love the vibrant, looped handles, which really make them showstoppers.

Can you believe how whimsical these floral candlesticks are? They would be so lovely grouped together as a tabletop garden or even individually. Each candlestick comes with a candle so you can get started right away.

While all of Betsy’s products would make ideal Mother’s Day gifts, these mini vase brooches are especially fitting. They attach to a blouse securely with two pins, which means they won’t twist upside down and accidentally spill your teeny bouquet. The brooches come with a mini paper flower kit that we made especially for the vase so you can make a bloom that will last a long time. I love giving gifts with a handmade component, and this ticks all the boxes.

Mother’s Day Shop

In addition to Betsy’s phenomenal work, there’s a whole collection of Mother’s Day gifts in my shop! There are darling earrings of so many shapes and sizes that no matter your mother’s (or aunt’s or grandma’s or friend’s) sensibilities, there’s something cheerful and beautiful for the people on your list.fun abstract and floral shaped earrings

Plus, our corsage inspired aprons are always a win!

Nothing says Mother’s Day like a handwritten note, and we also have you covered there. Choose between a wide variety of designs and messages and express your love in style.

Kids need to be able to get in on the Mother’s Day festivities too, so we made this detailed and delightful activity pack. Print out the files and let your kids go to town to make a gift that’s memorable and oh so personal.Mother's day activity pack for Mother's Day gifts the kids can help with

If you’re looking for more Mother’s Day inspiration, check out our post about Mother’s Day gifts that kids can help out with here.

Kids Shop

cheap art for kid's rooms
This collection of animal prints by Brazilian artist Jéssyka Gomes is a favorite

If you’re familiar with The House that Lars Built, it’s no surprise to you that my boys are a big presence here. We make a lot of projects for kids, so this spring we launched the Baby and Children’s section of the shop. Between patterns, products, and prints, there’s so much to make and do and decorate with for Little Lars (you know I love an alliteration!).

cheap art for kid's rooms
Paris based illustrator, Jessie Kanelos Weiner is a Lars favorite
cheap art for kid's rooms
Yelena Bryksenkova’s patchwork collection comes in prints AND bookplates!
cheap art for kid's rooms
Angie Stalker’s work is fun and bright!
cheap art for kid's rooms
Josefina Schargorodsky captures the essence of a lazy summer day

I teamed up with lots of brilliant illustrators and artists to make artwork you can use to decorate a kid’s room (or your own! I won’t tell)! Lots of the artwork is storybook themed so your little one can decorate with art from some of their favorite books.

Winter Water Factory

Finally, we collaborated with Winter Water Factory, one of my favorite clothing brands, to design a print. If you’re someone who looks at kids clothes and thinks “I want that in my size,” this is for you! Winter Water Factory makes clothing for kids and adults alike, as well as a few key accessories for babies. This collaboration also happened in partnership with Hazel Village to make clothes for stuffed animals. Name something cuter than your whole troupe decked out in matching Dutch Floral clothing–I’ll wait. Ha! We came up with an adorable coloring page to go with it.The House That Lars Built for Winter Water Factorydutch blue floral children's clothingboys can wear florals too!

I was inspired by the floral patterns on Dutch pottery for this line and I think that all the products came out so beautifully.

Keep In Touch

We’re always releasing new products and projects, and I would hate for you to miss them! Our Instagram pages are great places to keep up with what I’m working on. For more shop-exclusive content check out @houselarsbuiltshop and for a broader look at what’s going on in the world of Lars follow along with @houselarsbuilt. I look forward to seeing you there!

DIY Painted Blocks for Kids

Did you catch the #toddlertemptation I did with Jasper this weekend on Instastories? (You can see it saved in highlights) I set out a plate for his dinner and left the room for a bit (2 minutes max?) and asked him not to eat anything until I got back. Of course, I recorded the whole thing. Well, that little sneak totally snuck soooo many bites! He was very stealthy about it so I don’t know whether to be impressed or worried! 

While I am a little heartbroken about leaving the baby stage, watching him grow is the most amazing thing ever. And truthfully, he gets more fun to play with every day! 

You might remember this old post about his nursery. It’s crazy to think that was more than two years ago!! It’s pretty clear that I love to decorate and craft and change things all the time, so it should come as no surprise to you that I add and remove things from his room constantly. 

DIY painted blocks for kids wooden toys

One thing that I am introducing to his menagerie of toys are hand-painted blocks! This is a project that I’ve been wanting to do for awhile and I finally scheduled it to make it happen (one of the perks of crafting for a living!). In fact, for my sister’s baby shower, we left out a ton of blank wooden blocks and guests could add their own pattern to it so you get a variety of handpainted blocks from your dear friends. I’ve been wanting a set for myself ever since.

 There are tons of cute and trendy wood blocks for sale right now, but I wanted ones that were more specific and personal for him. If you read my piece from March, Why I Feel Called to Craft, you’ll get why I wanted to paint my own blocks. 

DIY painted blocks for kids wooden toys

All of my life, I’ve watched my great grandma, grandma, and mom crafting. You’ll recall my family’s famous fridge quote that “a creative mess is better than tidy idleness.” Right now, I find myself pulled by those two opposites – do I want my home to be tidy or do I want to play and craft? Sure, painting Jasper’s blocks myself might have made a mess, but I made memories while doing it. 

When I initially set about decorating his room, I stuck with moody-but-airy colors like muted blues, greens, and greys, with red providing the pop of color and energy. Remember, whimsical color schemes always need some neutral hue to ground everything! For the blocks, I decided to deviate a bit from my original color scheme and go with ~summery~ colors. Pinks and aquas and yellows were too hard to resist!

How to make your own painted blocks

I found this great blank set of blocks that wasn’t too expensive. In addition, it’s even nicely sanded and comes with a box to put them away in.

Materials:

  • Set of wood blocks from here
  • Acrylic or house paints in a variety of colors
  • Paintbrushes
  • If you’re worried about your children eating the blocks, add a child proof sealant onto the paint
  • Blue tape 

Instructions:

  1. Start painting some wood blocks a solid color. Or stripes, or whatever you’d like. If you want super straight lines (I wanted mine to feel more handpainted) use blue tape (and follow the instructions on the tape!) to block off your colors.
  2. After that, let the blocks sit for the allotted time drying time.
  3. Finally, use child-friendly sealant if you’re worried about your children eating the blocks. 

DIY painted blocks for kids wooden toys

Color scheme ideas for your painted blocks

Here are some ideas of color schemes we love!

Jasper’s colors

 

Circus colors

 

Spring colors

 

Bold colors

Quirky colors

 

Hopefully, Jasper will have as much fun with these blocks as I did! I want him to look back on his childhood the way I do mine; it was full of life and color and creativity and inspiration from the people I love. 

That’s it! Would love to see if you make some! To be featured, tag us on instagram with #LarsMakes or #LarsKids so we can see them! 

Other wood blocks we love

If you would rather purchase some beautiful wood blocks instead of painting your own, here are some of our favorites!

 

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!

Documenting our trip to Denmark with Mixbook and giveaway!

Thank goodness for our The House That Lars Built x Mixbook Collection because it’s put the fire in me to get photo books made! I’m so bad at getting stuff printed–you too? All my photos live on my phone! And I literally think every day how much I’d love to see them in a tangible format. Honestly, and not just because we have a collection with them, but they do make it so easy to make and design. Their software is pretty dreamy. AND, their quality is lovely.

With our travel collection, I made a photo book based on our trip to Denmark. I ordered the premium matte lay flat book because it’s great for little hands–think board book. The moment I got it I sat down with Jasper and walked him through the pictures and he ATE IT UP. I mean, he’s predominantly featured in our book because a) he’s adorable and b) you don’t have a baby and not feature them predominantly in your photo books so he LOVED looking at himself. We flipped through every page together and he pointed to mostly himself, but a few “da das” and “mamas” in there. We recreated the moment fo you so you can see how angelically he paid attention (note: although I’m joking, he did actually pay really close attention. Ha! It’s a testament to having pictures of yourself in a book format!)

The House That Lars Built for Mixbook travel book

He couldn’t WAIT to take it out of my perfectly placed vignette! That rascal! Just kidding, I said there was candy on the books to get the shot. 

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!

The House That Lars Bought: Bathroom tile is in!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Floor & Decor. All opinions are 100% mine.

Floor & Decor

In addition to all the projects we’ve been doing here on Lars, Paul and I have been getting our new house in order. We’ve been busy to say the least. We bought the house with literally nothing inside. The previous owners had torn everything out on their way to renovating it to sell. We stopped them mid-reno and bought it which means we had A LOT of work to do to get it into move-in conditions. Mind you, that’s coming from two people who are not very…how do we say…handy.

THANKFULLY, we partnered up with Floor & Decor to give us the kick in the pants we needed to get something in speedy and something within our budget.

Bathroom Tile

Our goal was to get something in ASAP so we could move in ASAP. We bought the house in June and ended up moving in mid September. It was a slightly longer timeline than we were hoping for, but turns out, there’s quite the construction boom right now and getting contractors in has been tough! Anyone else renovating and experiencing the same thing?

Requirements for our Bathroom Flooring

I looked far and wide for bathroom flooring options with the following requirements: 1) couldn’t have a long lead time 2) had to be within our smaller budget 3) had to be nice and functional. I went back and forth on what to do and in my google searching I organically came across Floor & Decor. Turns out, they have stores across the country, one probably by you! I took many trips to go visit them in person (it’s nice to see everything not just online, you know?!) to get a sense of what I wanted.

What I was Looking for in a Tiled Bathroom

At first, I was really into the idea of doing a black and white checkerboard bathroom because I LOVE the look and feel of it. But after lots of feeling it out, I decided to do something less contrasty so I could take my time in designing out each bathroom and not have to feel married to the one look.

What We Went With

After another trip, I decided to go with a classic white–glossy white herringbone ceramic tile in two of the bathrooms upstairs and a white and grey basketweave in the main floor bathroom. They are both classic yet contemporary enough to feel modern yet historical.

Always in Stock!

Both had a lot in stock (and seemed to be a popular choice!) so when I realized that I had measured the rooms wrong (math is not my strong suit!) when the tile guys were installing it, I drove straight to the store and bought more on the spot. So handy! For 3 bathrooms, I spent I think about $300 in product, which I was pretty stoked about!

Sealing the Tile

Once the tile was installed, my beloved former landlord, Richard of 1900 North Carpet and Tile Cleaning, came over and sealed the tile, which adds another layer of protection to the surface, which gets a lot of water and dirt, as you might imagine coming from a toddler. He’s the best in the business and I will recommend him day in and day out.

Anywho, I had such a great experience with Floor & Decor that I really am glad to talk about them. It’s such a great resource! The quick timeline allowed us to get into our house and start enjoying our time together. I mean, look how much fun bathtime is?! Ha! And I’m LOVING how much light this bathroom gets.

This post is sponsored by Floor & Decor. Thank you to our sponsors who allow us to make beautiful, original content!

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