bits & pieces

I'm not an expert on any single subject, but I'm opinionated about several.

DIY Baby Girl Nursery Complete! April 9, 2012

Filed under: DIY — nemecke @ 4:15 pm
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We’re almost there – about six weeks to go until our baby girl arrives and her room is finally complete! And I am in love with it. Don’t you love spaces in your home that make you feel happy just by walking into them? That’s how I feel about the nursery – and I don’t even have a baby in it yet! Imagine. . .

We started with a dark navy room with a puppy dog wallpaper border.


This wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. My vision was the result of a Pottery Barn catalog that had photos of a lavender and grey bedding set. First step, strip the wallpaper (finally all of the wallpaper in our house is GONE!).  Next step, paint. Once we had the walls painted I started sewing and my mom started painting furniture for us.

Our “To-Do” list included:

Painting a dresser

Painting a changing table (a repurposed dresser we had used in B’s room already)

Finding a used crib

Sewing crib sheets and a crib skirt

Sewing curtains

Misc. decorative items

Let’s start with the curtains. My FAVORITE part of the room. I originally saw these at Urban Outfitters but at $80.00 per panel plus tax I just couldn’t do it. Plus they’re floor length and not black out. Somehow I feel like white curtains in a baby’s room are risky enough so I’m choosing to at least stay away from floor length. And black out curtains have been a necessity for B’s room so I knew that was a must in this room too. So, the way I saw it, my only solution was to tackle this project myself. My curtain making history included one shower curtain so I sort of knew I was crazy but, nevertheless, I trudged along. Four trips to the fabric store and several, several, several hours later the project was complete! A few photos of the process…

Ironing over the bottom hem of every single strip.

Sewing down the bottom hem of every single strip.

One finished ruffle.

Did I mention I do not have a ruffle foot for my sewing machine? Every strip was bunched and ruffled as I went along. Once all of the ruffles were cut, ironed, hemmed and ruffled I sewed them one by one onto a panel I had cut from the same fabric. Eventually all of the ruffles made it onto both panels and then I sewed them both onto store bought black out curtains from Target (I found some in lavender and figured it wouldn’t be bad if some of that color peeked through once in a while). Ready for the finished product?

Ta da! I’m in loooooooove with these curtains. Here they are hanging up in the room – I couldn’t wait for this part!

Ruffles galore!

I will never tackle ruffled curtains again but I am SO GLAD I DID THIS. They are exactly what I had in mind. Love! Even better is the fact that, even with 4 trips to the fabric store and store-bought black out curtains, I still spent less than I would have had I purchased the Urban Outfitter curtains. I love a good deal!

I’ll explain the rest of the pieces in the room once you have a visual – so here’s the reveal!

The crib is a Craigslist find (B isn’t ready for a toddler bed yet and we weren’t ready to buy a brand new crib again). The glider chair was moved over from B’s room and he got a replacement chair that my parents were no longer using.

The pictures need to be replaced in the frames once the baby is born but, again, they are reused from B’s old room. I just added new ribbons and hot glued white buttons to the nail heads. The blanket on the crib is another DIY sewing project I tackled (thanks Pinterest!). Crib sheet and crib skirt are also completed sewing projects.  (Crib sheet tutorial, crib skirt tutorial).

That’s the $5 dresser my mother-in-law found at rummage sale that use to be a nice peachy-pinkish color. My mom painted it and I found those glass pulls at  The purple tray was in the Target dollar section before Easter. They only came in pink and blue so I bought the pink one and spray painted it lavender. I made the printable in Picnik using a tutorial I found on Pinterest. We had the lamp in our house and we weren’t using it. The base was black so I spray painted that white and the lamp shade was a cream color. I found this lavender ribbon at JoAnn fabric and hot glued it around the shade. Oh and the cute clock was a Salvation Army find.

The bookshelf is just a stackable shelf from Target and, again, I made the printable in Picnik.

We used this changing table in B’s room but it was still in it’s original brown color. So my mom painted that for us too and I found the glass knobs at Target. The square mirrors on the wall above it were another Salvation Army find and were originally light blue so those got painted as well. I can’t find white bins/baskets that fit under the changing table ANYWHERE and the cream is really bugging me but it’ll have to do for now.

And then there’s this adorable find that my mom picked up at TJ Maxx – could it be more perfect?

So that’s it. Our DIY baby girl nursery on a budget. I’m so thrilled with the way it turned out. So thrilled that I can’t let myself think about the fact that we’ll only live in this house for another year or two. Boooo. But I’ll tell you what, I’m taking those curtains with me everywhere we move for the rest of my life!


Impromptu Kid’s Bathroom Redo. . . January 23, 2012

My husband was recently gone for 5 days and than meant it was project time for me. Every time he goes I feel the need for a big project and it usually involves paint. We have a bathroom in our house that is pretty much only used for Brayden’s baths, the dog’s baths and Scott’s haircuts. We’re only in there a few times a week but still, I couldn’t take another day of it. It was dull and dark and flat. I do not get along well with flat paint (and quite honestly I don’t think you should either). I find no reason for flat paint anywhere in my house. Nowhere. Especially not in a bathroom. So, here is what I started with…

There were marks on the walls from where pictures had been hanging for 10 years too. It was just in really bad need of a makeover.

I was originally inspired by this adorable, little stool that a good friend made me for my baby shower…

Did you notice how she even drilled holes in the food that the caterpillar ate through?? So cute!

And then I saw this Pottery Barn Kids Very Hungry Caterpillar bathroom and it was a done deal.  Only I wasn’t about to fork over $60.00 for a shower curtain alone (plus I don’t have a claw foot tub and trees for curtain rods) so I took on the challenge DIY style and did it all for under $60 total. First things first, get rid of those dull, flat walls. I went with a very light blue that actually dried not quite as light as I expected, but it works and I like it. A lot actually.

Then I used the new level I got for Christmas to mark off where I wanted circles all the way around the room. After tracing them on with chalk I painted them all in with a nice shade of green called “green stalk” – appropriate don’t you think? Don’t look close, it’s really hard to paint in a perfect circle.

In the room with the tub and shower I did an accent wall in that same green color and continued the circles in the light blue.

Once I had all the painting done it was time for the fun part – sewing! I found some cute white fabric and sewed a new shower curtain. (In hindsight I could have bought a plain white, fabric shower curtain but it was fun to learn how to do this. Thanks online tutorials!) This was a big deal for me, I had to learn how to do button holes! Once the curtain was finished I bought a bunch of felt squares and created my own hungry caterpillar. Here it is, my absolute favorite part of this bathroom!!

I LOVE this shower curtain, partly because I made it but also because I just love that little caterpillar. He is so bright and fun and he turns in to a beautiful butterfly!

So that’s that, my impromptu bathroom project is complete! I may add some pictures to the wall – thinking of framing the jackets from some of B’s Eric Carle books.  So happy with the way this turned out and so glad I took this project on!


Yes, I’m Proud of That and No, I Don’t Like Your Book. March 22, 2011

Filed under: Parenting — nemecke @ 2:33 pm
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The other day I was really excited to start reading a book I had spotted called Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay and Other Things I Learned as a New Mom (already the title is way too long, I should have known). I feel like I’ve taken a pretty light-hearted approach to parenting so far and I thought this was going to be a fun, quick read that gave me additional fuel for my genuine “being a mom is super fun and happy-go-lucky” fire.  Turns out the author is actually burning a “motherhood is dark and dreary and a literal hell on Earth” fire. Who does she think she is? And why, oh why, are people reading this book? I’ve been racking my brain to find ways I can get all of my money back. Really if I even end up spending 1 penny on this I’ll be upset. For two and a half years at Barnes & Noble I found no issues with their 14 day return policy and slightly enjoyed turning people away when they tried returning something after their two weeks had passed. But now I’m the customer so…what kind of crappy, scheming, unfair return policy is 14 days?! I’m going to Borders. (Kidding. I’d never do that. Not when there’s Amazon and BookMooch). I could be reading the new Jodi Picoult book and instead I wasted my money on a book that shames every one of my mothering decisions. I took time to choose a pediatrician carefully, I didn’t put bumpers in the crib, I chose to breastfeed and I definitely look forward to new milestones. I’m proud of them.  But I’m a crazy, stupid, new mom according to this total waste of paper. Save the trees! This book is suppose to be funny. It’s just not funny. I’m not a book snob. I read lots of books and always feel the need to finish them but this book is stupid.

Ok. I’m not going to rant about that anymore. It’s not worth it. But sippy cups really could be for Chardonnay if you wanted them to be, damnit!

Before I started reading the anti-parenting book I kept on noticing how proud I’m feeling about the silliest things lately. I’ve always been a good eater but I’ve never actually felt proud of myself after polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (did you see they have a new kind with chocolate covered potato chips? Add to shopping list. . . ) but when B ate two cubes of baby food instead of one it was cause for celebration! When he moved from two to three I almost planned a party. My kid is eating THREE cubes of pureed peas for dinner plus baby oatmeal and breastmilk. He. Is. A. Champ.

When we decided to start giving him one bottle a day again to make sure he doesn’t have any issues with a bottle and to make sure our frozen milk supply doesn’t go bad it was really just another excuse for my heart to swell with pride. Six ounces at a time?! Unbelievable.

Successful tummy time, supporting himself up on his arms, unintentionally rolling from his front to his back, sitting up without a support, a good sneeze and a great burp. I am proud of it all! My own son is doing these things. How about that?! My son! I mean my God, what am I going to do when he’s the starting pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers I can barely contain myself when he figures out how to make Sophie squeak.

This is what parenting is all about. Enjoying all of the little moments because, right now, they are big moments. As parents we have every right to celebrate these little achievements and to be proud of them. We get to laugh at them and laugh at ourselves for bragging about bodily functions and growth chart percentages. If your goal is to document parenthood in a light-hearted and funny way then write about the silly things you do as a new parent in a way that makes other parents feel its okay, not in a way that makes new parents feel ashamed of their feelings.

I ate all my carrots!

I'm getting so strong!


Vegas ain’t got nothin’ on this. February 22, 2011

Filed under: In General,Parenting — nemecke @ 10:20 pm
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Two weekends ago Scott was off on his annual boys trip to Vegas and that left me, Brayden and the dog to hold down the fort. The last time he left for a few days he came home to a freshly painted family room, back hallway and bathroom. A standard was set. I needed a project.

Thankfully a couple of months ago I found a diamond in the rough calling my name on a curb in Green Bay.

And apparently it once belonged to Linda. Oh Linda, didn’t you see the potential!?

I did. And so it was shoved into the backseat with Brayden and then eventually hauled to  Milwaukee where it sat until a plan was formed in my head and an agenda free weekend awaited me.

After some “toy box” Google Image searches, a trip to the craft isle at Walmart and a short brainstorming session it was time to paint.

My original thought was to draw my design on with pencil but I couldn’t stop thinking about those ugly smudges left by all pencil erasers. Either I needed to draw it on without any mistakes (in that case why not just use a Sharpie?) or I needed another solution. Ah ha! I have one, lonely piece of chalk in a zip lock bag in my junk drawer. It’s been waiting for its turn.

The base coat is painted, the design is finished – time to bring this thing to life!

And there you have it, Brayden’s very first toy box and my very first furniture painting experience. It’s not perfect and I certainly didn’t stay in the lines, but I had a lot of fun doing it and the whole process made me really happy.  Even silly things like painting a toy box seem so much more special when you’re doing it for your child.  As soon as he’s old enough I’ll tell him all about how mommy painted that just for him and, because of that knowledge, I’m positive that he’ll always pick up all of his toys and put them back in the box and he will never refuse to share his toys with any future sibling(s).

By the way, I also hung two large picture frames on the wall of our dining room that weekend and I don’t think Scott has noticed those yet.  But he was really impressed with the toy box!


First Vegetable Garden is a Success! August 9, 2010

Filed under: Gardening — nemecke @ 9:31 pm
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In the beginning. . .


Making progress in July.


Overflowing in August.


If you look back at my original veggie garden post you’ll see that I, admittedly, over planted my garden. On day 1 I had 5 tomato plants (and 2 in pots), a row of cucumber plants, 3 zucchini plants, 3 yellow squash plants, a row of bush green beans and one, lonely, set of watermelon seeds. My garden is approximately 6′ by 8′. As I said in my first post, I’m learning – I’ve learned. Vegetables take up A LOT of space and they have no care or concern for their veggie neighbors. In the life of a vegetable, it’s everyone for him/herself – no teamwork involved. And as the vegetable garden landlord it has been my job to decide who stays and who goes. Right off the bat I had a vacancy to deal with as the watermelon never did decide to show up. Given the extra space, I made the executive decision to uproot all but one of the original cucumber plants and transplant them in order to give my tomatoes more space. One of the transplanted cucumber plants survived and is finally producing its first cuc! I also quickly learned that growing cucumbers up a trellis is clearly the way to go – if it weren’t for the trellis I am absolutely sure the cucs would have taken over my entire garden without a second thought. Next year I will be sure to have at least a 6′ tall trellis as the plant is quickly running out of room and wrapping itself around whatever it can find – mostly tomatoes and zucchini.
The next order of business was to completely remove 1 of the zucchini plants and 2 of the yellow squash plants. And by the way, zucchini and squash leaves are sharp. Now I’m almost 9 months pregnant and walking around with cuts up and down my arms. The obviously fix would be to wear long sleeves while working in the garden – but I’m not sure if you’ve paid attention to the weather we’ve had in Wisconsin this summer at all so let me sum it up – disgusting. 88+ and 100% humid almost everyday. No, I’ll take the cuts thank you very much.
Anyway, I took out 1 zucchini plant and 2 yellow squash plants and still the remaining plants could each use their own 6′ x 8′ space. My veggies like to s-p-r-a-w-l out. And I planted bush green beans. What was I thinking? Here’s the number 1 lesson I’ve learned from vegetable gardening so far. If you can grow it up, DO IT. Pole beans would have been the way to go. My hindsight is fabulous. Nonetheless, I am seeing the fruits of my labor! I’ve picked bunches of green beans, 4 or 5 cucumbers, the biggest zucchini you’ve ever seen, 2 yellow squash and 2 delicious tomatoes so far. And this is just the beginning! I have bunches of green tomatoes just waiting to ripen, there are 4 zucchini that will be ready any day now and several other yellow squash making their way into the world. Plus I can see several little, pickle size cucumbers starting to grow. Nine mini loaves of zucchini bread, 1 huge batch of zucchini & squash soup, several servings of green beans and cucumber sandwiches later and I am still ecstatic about my continuous veggie production. Keep ’em coming!

Tiny cucumber starting to grow...




Yellow Squash!

And the enormous zucchini. . .


I left for 3 days and came back to this.



All I Want for Christmas is a Cleaning Crew. May 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — nemecke @ 11:27 am
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I don’t even need a full service, clean my house top to bottom every week type of cleaning crew. I just want someone to come in every couple of weeks and do a few things:

1. Wash all of my floors (by hand, forget the Swiffer)

2. Clean the bathrooms – entirely.

The rest I can handle. Dusting, not a big deal. Laundry, easy. Dishes into the dishwasher – piece of cake! Oh…

3. Wash the windows and mirrors. This isn’t even because I don’t want to do it myself, this is because I’m actually incapable of doing it correctly. I’ve been trying, and failing, for years to successfully clean windows and mirrors. Windex, paper towels, microfiber cloths, water & vinegar – you name it I’ve tried it and the mirrors looks worse than when I started. In the back of my mind I have a theory that I will cautiously offer to you. . . perhaps if I tried cleaning them more often they wouldn’t be quite as dusty and, therefore, wouldn’t leave as much streakage behind. It’s a theory, a small thought that I choose not to spend too much time contemplating.

And that’s the thing about cleaning – it. never. ends. If you don’t mind unclean then no big deal. But I really like clean. I grew up with clean, I’m use to clean. I like clean. Not like white gloves swiping across every surface clean, I’m just talking let’s vacuum on a regular basis and get out the Pledge once you can see a bit of dust on the tables. Even still, I just can’t seem to live as clean as I’d like. How did my mom do it?! Oh, that’s right, a cleaning lady – my mom is a genius!

I’m a pretty organized person (clothes in the closet sorted by color and season type of person) but I’ve decided my cleaning problem is that I don’t have system. And I don’t think I’m going to get one. It’s just one of those things I’m being honest with myself about – cleaning my house will always be performed randomly and, therefore, not frequently enough. And that drives me crazy, even though it’s my doing. What kind of sense does that make? None. That’s why I need a cleaning crew.

Here’s how it works in my house.

Laundry is done on a weekly basis, usually on the weekends (OK I guess that’s a regularly scheduled event despite my comment above, but the reality is my husband somehow manages to fill up the entire hamper each week so it’s either an overflowing hamper or I do laundry. And I do like clean towels). But washing the sheets on a weekly basis? Who has the time?!

Sweeping…have I mentioned our dog, Newport? I swear he singlehandedly carries in an entire landscape of grass, sticks, dirt etc. about every 2 days. So yes, sweeping gets done frequently – but certainly not daily even though it would be warranted.

Dusting, toilets, showers, mirrors, windows, floors & vacuuming – now that is a different story. In the Nemec household we’ve developed a routine called “time to clean when company is coming over.” It’s the only time cleaning is a team effort and, therefore, I love company. Scott has three standard jobs – empty the dishwasher, take out the garbage, vacuum. Let me intervene with a little lesson I learned a long time ago ladies. If your husband accepts a household chore as his, let him do it ON HIS TIMELINE. If the dishwasher is clean and I have a pile of dishes waiting to go in it then I REALLY want it emptied immediately. But if Scott’s working, watching TV, on his computer etc. am I going to do it? NO. Give in one time, just one time and it’s game over. Next time the dishwasher is clean he’ll get “busy” until you’ve given in and done it yourself again and, simple as that, his chore list has officially been cut to 2.

So, Scott vacuums. I hate vacuuming. But he doesn’t mind, and he actually does a fabulous job. He’s meticulous about vacuuming. So what’s the problem you ask? Well, how often do you vacuum your house? Because ours only gets vacuumed when we have company. Last Friday we were suppose to have some friends flying into town and I was ecstatic at the thought of fresh, clean carpets. 8 or 9 hours before arrival time the flights got cancelled and changed and that meant no house guests. It’s been 6  days, take your best guess – has the vacuum left our closet? Ladies, my husband is wonderful, he really is. But if I invite you over, please accept the invitation. My carpets need you!

As I was on my hands and needs scrubbing our floors this morning (hence this blog) my husband, on his way upstairs says, “wow, our carpets are a mess! We really need to vacuum.” YES! I’m thinking he’s finally going to give in and do it without the threat of company.

Me: “I know, they’re terrible. Will you have time to do that today?

Scott: “Um, maybe. I have softball at 6:15.” (It’s 9:30a.m.)

Anyone want to come over for dinner tonight??

My floors look great. I have a tile back entry way and bathroom and hardwood in my family room, kitchen, front hall and office and ALL of it was cleaned by hand this morning. They’re shiny and fresh and perfect! And in a few days they’ll be a mess. I can’t stand the cycle and so I won’t wash them again for who knows how long. That’s just what I do. They’ll drive me crazy but the thought of washing them again by hand will drive me crazy too – I can’t win.

And so all I want for Christmas is a cleaning crew. Please?