Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pros and cons of using an online gift registry for birthdays and holidays

Who says gift registries are only for weddings or baby showers?  And who says they have to be tied to just one store?  Not me!

Gone are the days of trying to remember which gift idea we gave to which person.  Gone are the days of wondering if the gift giver will know exactly what was wanted.


Several years ago our family started using online gift registries for birthdays and Christmas.  Things are much simpler now, both for us and for our family.

I'm sure there are many online registries out there, but the one we use is called My Gift List.  It's very simple to create a registry for yourself and add items to it.  When you add an item, you can list the price, how badly you desire that item (high, normal, low), give details like color or size, and even list up to three URLs to direct the gift givers to the exact item online.  Even if Christmas or your birthday are months away, you can add gift ideas to the list as you think of them, rather than trying to remember down the road when the gifting occasion is near.

You also create a list of gift givers, then send out a message that gives each of them their own link to your list.  When they buy an item, they mark it off.  After that, all gift givers can only see the items that are left, which prevents gift duplication.

Like with everything, there are pros and cons, but the former far outweighs the latter.

Pros:

  • All gift ideas are open to anyone
  • You don't have to keep track of which ideas you gave out
  • Gift givers can see prices before choosing an item to purchase
  • By marking your desire level, you're more likely to get the items you most want
  • Gift givers can mark an item as purchased and remove it from the list, preventing duplicates
  • You can be specific about exact items you want, and even provide a link to it at an online store
  • Items can be added at any time when you think of them
  • Unlike most registries for baby showers or weddings, you're not tied to a certain store, but can list items from anywhere
  • No need to keep fielding questions from various people about what you want.  Just send them the link to the list.
Cons:

  • You're dependent on the gift giver to remember to mark an item off after it's purchased.  If it's not marked off, duplicate gifts can indeed occur.  It has happened to us!
  • If you want to delete or edit an item from the list after you've already invited gift givers to see the list, there's no guarantee one of them hasn't already purchased the item as-is, because you can't see on your end what items have been purchased.


An online gift registry is so liberating because it takes the awkwardness and the work out of gift giving for both parties.  I know, I know, the gift giving specialists out there say that if you're giving someone a gift, you should know him or her well enough to choose a personal gift that would be meaningful.  But let's face it -- not everyone is that talented.  And not everyone is that close to one another.  And some people (like me) are so picky that even though the gift giver has an idea of something we want, they may not know how to pick the right version of it that we will actually like.  (You know it's happened to you that you try to describe exactly what you want, but you end up receiving a less-than-desirable version of that item, right?)

We convinced my mother-in-law to create one for herself a couple years ago.  I wish all our relatives that we buy for would do it, because it's less awkward and much faster than having to ask people for gift ideas.  It would be especially awesome for my brother-in-law's family.  There are five kids and one on the way, and they have sooo many toys, that even if we try to be creative and pick out something fun, they most likely already have it!

I'm curious how many of you out there have used an online gift registry for yourself, or have been the gift giver and someone has provided a registry link to you.  If so, what has been your experience.  If not, what do you think of the idea?

Hollie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nursery ideas for a baby boy

My "baby" turns 15 next week, but today I'm rounding up some ideas for nurseries for my friend Natalie, who is pregnant with her first little one.  Congrats, Nat!  She will be the sweetest mom ever, I'm quite sure.

Natalie asked for help with paint colors after being overwhelmed with "typical boy nurseries."  Her house is a super-cute bungalow with big windows and thick moldings.  Right now she has an espresso-toned crib, and is looking for inspiration for the rest of the room.

I think it's important to keep in mind that nurseries don't have to be pastel, and everything doesn't need to be purchased from a baby store.  Instead, I agree with Sarah Richardson that nurseries can be sophisticated rooms that will work for years to come, when the crib is swapped out for a real bed.

Here are some lovely nurseries to be inspired by:

Stripe it up!

A fun way to do stripes without striping the whole room

This room is gender-neutral but could skew boy or girl based on styling

A boy would be happy here through his teen years
This room is fairly neutral, but has a lot of life

Even just one wall of stripes gives this room some oomph

Here, the stripes are on the ceiling and the walls alternate between crisp white and deep navy

Sophisticated neutrals are nice, with pops of color

I'm in love with these curtains.  I've been looking at wallpaper in the same pattern.

The walls are dark, but the colors bring life into this cozy room.

Who says the art has to be baby oriented?  And how about that chaise?

This is the most sophisticated nursery I've ever seen.  I think I want it for my own room!

This nursery could easily be converted into an adult room

Gray walls are fun with pops of color and pattern

Or just go bold on the walls!

The white curtains and rug help tone down this very green room.
The chair is a fun pop of an alternate color, too.
A mix of alphabet letters is cute against the turquoise wall

Graphic patterns are lively

Nurseries are a good excuse for fun graphics fabrics.

The dark walls, the sophisticated wall stencil, the painted vintage dresser ... oh my.

Nurseries don't have to have soft colors.  Why not go bold with color and patterns?

 How about some whimsy?

The chair is so tailored, yet the barn door and lamp are so country.
How fun is a chalkboard wall?

The wall graphic and light fixture give this nursery a futuristic feel

White birch trees pop off the dark gray wall

My #1 recommendation for a nursery

Do NOT buy a changing table!  Instead, use a dresser or chest for that purpose, with a changing pad on top.  They provide great hidden storage, and you aren't left with a piece of furniture you can't use once the child is potty-trained.  Here are some examples:

Everything in a nursery doesn't have to be new. This vintage dresser is perfect.

Turn an ugly dresser into a fun piece with bold yellow

IKEA's ubiquitous Hemnes Dresser doubles as the changing table

Even a vintage sideboard can serve the purpose!

I'm sure there are a bazillion sources out on the interwebs for nursery design, but these I came across in a short amount of time:  Project Nursery, Stella and Henry, Oh De Doh, Decor Pad, and, of course, Pinterest.

I hope I have given Natalie a bit of inspiration here.  I haven't thought about nursery design in a decade and a half, so it was as fun challenge!  Which room would you choose?

Hollie

Click on the photos for links back to my sources.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday randomness

Bear with me.  There's a lot of randomness coming at you.  But hopefully it's entertaining.

Apparently there is such a thing as too many pillows
How did I miss this on the local news when it happened?  A man was assaulted for having too many pillows.  You read that right.  Assaulted for having too many pillows.  It happened right here in Louisville.  I came across a link to the story when reading the Elements of Style blog.  The new station's link to the details is no longer live, but the gist is that the guy was sleeping when apparently his boyfriend came in and started wailing on him for having too many pillows.  Clearly there is a backstory to this that we don't know.  But it is a warning to us all.

Via

A couple blog milestones
I couldn't let another week go by without celebrating a couple blog milestones.  First, I passed the 150 Google Followers mark, and shortly thereafter I passed the 300 subscribers mark.  Fun!  Thanks to all of you who read about my musings or creations on a regular basis, as well as any of you who are stopping by for the first time!

Zombies or no zombies?
I still can't decide whether I actually enjoy watching The Walking Dead on AMC.  Gore from crime scenes, autopsy rooms or hospitals doesn't usually bother me on TV because it's just science/nature.  But gore just for the sake of gore is a bit much for me.  I'm not really into watching "people" eat other people.  Some people say they watch it for the storyline, but I can't even decide if the storyline is compelling enough for me.  If it wasn't one of the few shows The Mr., The Teen and I watch together, it would be off my list.  Regardless, I do like this graphic from Candace Creations!


A new item to repurpose
I'm a fan of industrial furniture as well as repurposed items.  Do you have any idea what this side table is made from?  Look closely.


It's a washing machine drum!  I never would have known.  Mike at Blue Velvet Chair rounded up several other examples that you have to check out because they're ingenius.  I believe they're all from Europe, which makes sense, because front loaders haven't been around long enough here in the U.S.

Recipes coming soon?
We're known for great recipes around this house, but I've never shared any here.  The last time I had guests over for a meal, they suggested I post all the recipes from the evening.  Unfortunately I was too busy hosting to take photos, and what good is a recipe online without a photo?  If I can remember to take photos while the food is looking pretty, I would like to share some of our favorites with you in the future.

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Were those tidbits random enough for you?  Now I need some feedback:

  • How many pillows do you think is too much?  On our king, we use four on a daily basis (two to sleep on plus two shams for propping up), plus four more (three Euro shams and one more regular sham) when we make the bed.
  • Has your significant other ever threatened you about an excess of pillows?
  • How many blogs do you subscribe to?  I probably have about 50 blogs I intend to keep up with, but my poor Google Reader is overloaded because I'm weeks behind in reading most of them!
  • Do you watch The Walking Dead?  Does the zombie gore bother you?  Are you into the storyline?
  • What do you think about those repurposed washing machine drums?  When my front loader goes kaput, I'm all over that drum!
  • Would you be interested in recipes here on I'm Busy Procrastinating?  Or are there enough other blogs for that?

Happy Sunday!  I'm off to shop with The Teen and my MIL for The Teen's first suit/tux.  Marching band season is over, but concert band season is approaching, and the kids have to wear tuxes for the concerts.  They can get away with a black suit plus a tuxedo shirt and bow tie, rather than a full-on tux.  Not that he has anywhere else that he wears a suit, but one never knows.

Hollie

Friday, November 11, 2011

Did anybody else spot a spray painted elephant on TV this week?

I was chilling at home tonight, catching up on today's DVR'd episode of The Nate Berkus Show.  There was a segment called "Thrifty Tabletop Design" with blogger Mr. Kate.  She was challenged to create a tablescape using all thrift store finds.

And what was included in her purchase but some ceramic elephants?!


What?  She must have read my blog!  Hahahahaha.  As if.

My elephants ended up white.  Mr. Kate spray painted hers yellow because she was going for bright, poppy colors.  Here's the before and after.


And here's a shot of the finished tablescape where you can see the two yellow elephants mixed in among other lively-colored items.


If you're interested in getting the behind-the-scenes scoop, check out Mr. Kate's blog here, or a video of the segment on the Nate Show site here.

Images via The Nate Berkus Show web site and Mr. Kate's blog.

Hollie

Monday, November 7, 2011

Admitting to flaws

If you asked the guys in my house, I'm sure they could rattle off a laundry list of my flaws.  After all, the poor things have to put up with me every day.  And I'm not easy!  Today I'm fessing up to two flaws that affect my home decor.

1.  I'm a serial returner

When I buy home decor, I often don't know exactly where it's going to go.  It drives The Mr. crazy, of course. However, I know it's best to have pieces that can function in different ways or in different rooms.  Well, that and the fact that I don't have enough self control to only buy what I absolutely need!  Do you?

When it comes to wall art, I have so many bare walls in my house, that I have just been buying art when I see something I like, and then I figure out where it will best fit.  I'm one of those serial returners.  I scoop up whatever I think might work, then I try it out at home and return whatever I don't want to keep.  This past spring, I went on a bit of an art-buying frenzy, partly because I wasn't working and had more time to scour the online daily flash sale sites, and partly because a HomeGoods opened up near me.  However, I hadn't exactly decided where everything was going to go so I just had various pieces leaning against various walls.

I did hang this one in the dining room several months ago.  It was my first, and probably still my favorite, purchase from flash sale site Haute Look.

Dining room

Dining room

On the other side of the stairs is a hallway, where I had also managed to commit to hanging a sunburst mirror  and a pair of abstract art prints.

Main floor hallway

Main floor hallway

2.  I suffer from analysis paralysis

The second floor was a different story.  I hadn't decided how to configure our game room area at the top of the stairs, which led me to procrastinate about hanging art on the wall.  Eventually The Mr. got annoyed enough and asked me how long the various art pieces were going to be leaning against the walls instead of hanging on them.  That, plus knowing we were hosting family for a gathering the next week, spurred me to bite the bullet and make some decisions.

Game room before

I had to get over my analysis paralysis.  Isn't it funny how some people would rather make a quick decision without fretting over possible ramifications, so they can move on to the next thing, while others (like me) are so conscious about the ramifications that we do nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing?  We've lived in our house for almost 4 years now, but since we built it and no holes were in the wall unless we put them there, I don't like to just hang things up willy-nilly.  As a result, I don't hang something until I'm sure it's going to be there a long while!

At long last, choices were made and art is off the floor and on the walls.  Stick around to see where it all ended up.

So ... what flaws do you have that affect your home decorating?  Time to fess up.

Hollie

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's a white elephant party

If you shop thrift stores or yard sales, you've come across many an ugly ceramic animal.  A while back I saw that a blogger had bought one of those ugly beasts, then gave it a new finish with spray paint, and it looked all fresh and modern.

I happened upon this creature at my local Goodwill.  


Actually, it was a lot uglier in person, glazed with a 1970s palette of creamy brown with brown highlights.  Yuck.  I had just made my first spray of primer when I realized I hadn't taken a "before" photo, so I snapped a quick pic before getting back to work.

A coat of spray primer and a couple coats of gloss white spray paint later, it's all cute and modern.


The next time you come across a ceramic animal with a bad paint job, give it a second look and imagine what it might look like with some fresh paint.  Not every animal is worth saving, of course, but you never know until you try!

Hollie

P.S.  I also saw on a different blog that someone bought up a bunch of ugly ceramic cats from a thrift store and painted them black for her Halloween decorations.  What a great idea!  I wish I could find the blog again to show you the pictures, but I searched and it didn't come up.  If you know which one it is, let me know!  I think I might have seen the post on a link party.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A present for the bedroom

If someone was going to buy you a present for your bedroom, what would you have in mind?  Would it be sleek? Shiny?  Vivid in color?  With a device you could hold in your hand to turn it up or down?

Would the sides of the box it comes in be labeled "front" and "rear"?  Would there be a warning indicating it should only be transported in the upright position?  Would it be 42 inches on the diagonal?

Yes?  Well then you'd be impressed with our new bedroom toy.

Gypsy and Pepper checking out the goods

Oh, was that not what you were thinking?  Sorry to disappoint!

The final (for now) piece missing for our bedroom makeover was a new TV.  The Mr. had been trying to convince me for years that our tube TV, which never seemed very old to me, needed to be replaced with a flat screen.  He could never give me a good reason, as our current TV is plenty big and works great.  I had too many other things higher priority on my list for money expenditures.  (Of course, we would do the convincing dance in reverse when I wanted new pillows for the sofa or something like that.  We all have our weaknesses.)

The TV had been sitting on our dresser since we moved here, which was just fine with me.


However, once I replaced our old dresser with a freshly painted vintage version, I refused to dent the new paint job with the weight of the old TV.  As a temporary solution, we sat one of our old nightstands next to the dresser once we replaced it with another freshly painted piece.  But once the whole old bedroom suite sold recently, our temporary TV stand was gone.  I reluctantly allowed it to be placed on top of the painted dresser, knowing that the dresser has had months to cure at this point.  And, of course, I put a cushy towel under the TV to ward off any dents.


By this time, I was the one harping about needing a new TV, and The Mr. was the one being tight with our money.  Of course, me not working for months (by my own choice) didn't help that situation, so I couldn't harp too much!

As soon as I signed on to my new full-time job, I asked (demanded?) that The Mr. start his TV research again.  (I know many bloggers appreciate people spending time researching the best products and the best prices, but lots of people would not understand why we wouldn't just drive to the nearest Best Buy and buy whatever TV is in our price range.  We're analyzers here in this homestead, so we do careful research pricing studies before making a large purchase.)

Usually The Mr. at least consults me before pulling the trigger on something for the house, but I was merely informed after-the-fact this time, during the work day, no less.  I was annoyed at first, and reminded him that anything on display inside the home falls under the purview of the decorator of the home, which is me, and that I need to approve any such items beforehand.  But ... truthfully, I was happy to know that the final piece for our bedroom makeover was being processed and would be delivered soon.

Today the lovely parcel was delivered, and I wish the TV hanging fairy was here to wave her magic wand.  Instead, I'll have to wait until the weekend because The Mr. is busy every night this week, and I have no interest in tackling the project on my own.

If all goes well, I hope to be nestled in my bed Sunday night watching my newly hung flat screen TV before I drift off to sleep.  And, if you are lucky and my timing is right, maybe I can snap photos of my updated bedroom for a long-overdue room tour reveal.  If you are not lucky and/or my timing is not right to catch what little light we get at that end of the house, you'll have to wait until the following weekend.

Now, back to my original question:  If someone was going to buy you a present for your bedroom, what would you have in mind?

Hollie

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reclaiming my weekends

Yes, I'm slacking on this here blog.  And it's all his fault.

The Teen in his marching band uniform

Okay, mayyyyyybe it's not alllllllll his fault.  Me going back to work a couple weeks ago might have something to do with it too!  But the reason I haven't had much in the way of interesting DIY projects lately is that my weekends have been hijacked since the beginning of September by The Teen and his high school marching band.


Friday nights were often filled with football games (the marching band performs at halftime), and every Saturday was occupied with a band competition (or sometimes even two!).  For parents like us, who volunteer with the band, that means by Sunday we're whooped and unable to function normally, since many competition days we didn't get home until after 2am.


Some Saturdays you could find me shining the shoes of teenagers.  Yep, we're serious about looking good in our band, so parent volunteers shine the students' patent leather shoes before competitions.


For those of you not from Indiana or Texas, you may not understand the world of marching bands, but it's serious stuff around here.  I am proud to say that The Teen and his marching band won 6th place at our state competition this past weekend!  Here they are marching on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, and the location of the upcoming Super Bowl.


The kids worked extremely hard, from starting their season in the 100 degree weather at band camp in July, to practicing several times a week and pretty much giving up their weekends and any other social activities.  A couple girlfriends of some of the older band students even wear "band widow" t-shirts, since they all but give up seeing their significant others during the fall.

As happy as I am to get my weekends back, we will definitely miss marching band around here.  It has been a wonderful growing experience for The Teen, and a great way for The Mr. and me to get involved.

And now ... without further ado ... I guess I better get to planning my next DIY.  I'm feeling the pressure!!!!

Hollie
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