Remodeling Project: Man Cave to Family Room

When we bought our house in 2009 it felt huge! We had our living room, kitchen, dining area, “master” bedroom (maybe in the 50’s it was big- but now it’s a joke…), spare bedroom (now nursery), and an office. The previous owners had finished the basement, which had a large living area, back yard access, and then a hall to the laundry room, and my studio. On our list of must-haves for our house was a studio for me (I bring a lot of projects home and it’s messy!), a man cave for Joey, and a suitable entertaining area. I did not get some things on my list with this house, such as, a covered front (or back) porch, fireplace, large master bedroom/bath. But I settled for a back deck off the kitchen, and the possibility of combining some rooms to make a bigger master. I’m already making my new list. How much you learn the first time you buy a house! We loved all the space this house had. And it did have a lot. But there is a phenomenon that I didn’t quite understand till now. Like a goldfish that is put in a pond or bath tub, your “stuff” will grow to fit your space. (Weird).

Giant Goldfish. Click to read how this is actually a myth.

Giant Goldfish. Click to read how they say this is actually a myth.

So we decided last January that we would gut the downstairs and make a Master suite and move my studio upstairs to our old master bedroom. Great idea. We ripped all the paneling off (and by “we” I mean Joey and his dad of course!) which we had to do anyways because we were having water leak issues (long and boring story) and proceeded to rip down walls, built-ins, had a big yard sale with extra furniture, yada yada. Then we found out we were having a baby- and the whole project got put on hold to make a nursery.

Manly Man Cave- great for watching Football! Go Hogs GO!

Manly Man Cave- great for watching Football! Go Hogs GO!


My old studio

My old studio was going to be our new closet.

Taking out the wall, paneling, built-in cabinets

Taking out the wall, paneling, built-in cabinets

Wall coming down

Wall coming down

Ripping out the Hallway

Ripping out the Hallway

Laundry Room

Laundry Room

Inside this wall we found the house blueprints!!

Inside this wall we found the house blueprints!!

Looking Good

Joey thinks this is the easy part!

Project supplies.

Project supplies.


This is the view from the stairs before the tv and cabinets were taken out.

New Floors!

New Floors!

We ended up having to get new floors because the one we had from Home Depot were discontinued, and we needed one more box to patch where the cabinets had been. So we ended up getting some laminate flooring from Lumber Liquidators that I just love.

So it was almost October after Lila was born, that we decided that we didn’t want the master suite downstairs, since her nursery is right next to our room now. And we are now putting the downstairs back together.

Our 2600 sq foot home has been missing about 700 square feet of living space and we are going stir crazy tripping over dogs, cats, bouncers, jumperoos…. So we are resolving the water issues, we paid someone to finish dry walling, and Joey and his Dad are finishing putting the floors in this weekend. We will be picking out colors for paint soon. I’m excited. I have great ideas for the space. What color would look good with this deep brown wood? 

I will post more progress pics soon. Stay tuned!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine's Day Script

I hope you had a great day! After a really rough night with my sweetie, (growth spurt?? teething?? both??) I felt like I had the biggest hangover ever. I think maybe she wanted to tell me “Happy Valentine’s Day” over and over til dawn. LOL.  So when we were invited to lunch, we quickly said YES!  Then we finished delivering our handmade Valentines.

Little tootsies make great hearts! Can you tell I've had some printing practice?

Little tootsies make great hearts! Can you tell I’ve had some printing practice?

Lila's Valentines were all different. I cut the hearts out then I added paper and pen accents.

Lila’s Valentines were all different. I cut the hearts out then I added paper and pen accents.

Handmade Valentine's Day Card

Here is another one!

Inside her cards, I included a current picture. I can't wait until she can make her own!

Inside her cards, I included a current picture. I can’t wait until she can make her own Valentines one day.

Everyone LOVED them! You can’t go wrong with footprints. Having a paint your own pottery studio as our family business, I have had the pleasure of printing hundreds of baby feet. This was my first time using acrylic paint, which made me nervous because its permanent…on clothes, the bouncer she was seated in….but we had not problems! I had my wet wipes handy and I went pretty fast. 🙂

Here’s what Lila gave me for Valentine’s Day.

Lila's Valentine's Mug

Lila’s Heart Mug

Isn’t it precious? I will admit the chevron as a bit of a pain. But so worth it. If you are unfamiliar with Paint Your Own Pottery Studios, then you have been missing out! It is so much fun for all ages. We have birthday parties, ladies nights, walk-in painters, etc. Not to mention we also offer silver jewelry (Precious Metal Clay), mosaics, and glass fusing! I picked out the mug I wanted, printed her feet with special glaze, and then painted around it to my heart’s content. (no pun intended? hmm) The paint is non-toxic and washable (unlike acrylic) and becomes permanent once the studio staff glazes and fires it. At our studio, we have so many projects coming in that the typical processing time is 7-10 days, but it depends on the time of year. If you would like more info on finding a pottery studio near you, go here.  If you would like to visit my studio’s website, go here. But please don’t judge the site. We are currently updating and redoing it. 🙂

Anyways, I love my mug! We had a great day, and to top it off, my husband surprises me with chocolate covered strawberries. YUM.

chocolate covered strawberries

My Favorite Things: Months 1-3

Here’s the post I was promising. My favorite things for the first 3 months. Of course, this is what worked for my family, and you may have something you like better. (Please share if you do!)

Lil Mama Nottingham favorite things 1-3 mos

1. Fisher-Price My Little Snugabunny Bouncer – She started liking this more after a couple of weeks. She still loves it now. I sometimes call it her “Pooping Chair,” because for one reason or another, things get moving in there and nothin’ wrong with that! Thankfully, the seat liner is washable and dries quickly on its own. She loves the vibrations, and she used to sleep in it sometimes. I do have one dislike – the legs of the seat have tripped me, my husband, mother, & mother-in-law on more than one occasion. It probably is the most cursed thing in our living room. (But we have a teeeeeniny living room, and the bouncer wouldn’t trip us if we had it in a larger room. Still wouldn’t trade it for another. It’s amazing how much smaller your house gets with a baby and all their equipment, right??)

2.Vacuum- ok ok. I know this sounds silly but one night in the beginning SHE WOULDN’T STOP CRYING. Actually, because I was sleep deprived and had tried everything I could think of, I was crying too! So we Googled it, and sure enough, the vacuum cleaner calmed her down. You just leave it on, and it’s louder than the white noise stuffed animals or radio static. I really wish I had known this sooner, but that’s why I’m sharing. I’ve only had to use it two times, thankfully. It immediately calmed her so she could sleep.

3. Aden+Anais Swaddling Blankets– I heard these were the best from a mom-friend when I was pregnant. Then I received these as a gift. THEY ARE AWESOME. They are big- much bigger than typical flannel cotton receiving blankets. So for the novice Swaddler, these are great. They are soft, breathable muslin. I never had to worry about her overheating at night. (Swaddled in her Rock n’ Play). Register for some, or buy some yourself. They are worth it!

4. Cloud B Sleep Sheep– We have this one, a travel one, and the Giraffe. And we use all of them . On the back are 4 buttons, with 4 different white noise sounds, and you can choose 26 or 45 minutes for the sound to play. We have one in our room, one in her room, and one for the diaper bag ready for nap time at Grammie’s or GiGi’s.

5. Fisher Price Rock n’ Play– We started with a bassinet that had been in the family for generations. Then we noticed she really slept better in things that were reclined or slanted. So after some research, we got this. We actually got the one pictured on sale at Target for about $20. But I think the one I linked to would be great for newborns, very snuggly with the pillow. As far as the recall goes, I think if baby produces any liquid in the rocker, you should CLEAN IT. We checked as soon as the recall happened, and we found nothing. (Common sense!) Mine is really easy to wipe down, or you can unbutton the liner and throw it in the wash. She slept in hers until the week she turned 4 months, when we transitioned to the crib.

6. Balboa Baby Sling– I got tangled up in the Moby Wrap, and trying to get it wrapped around me seemed a hassle. I know a lot of folks like them, but I returned that and found a sling I liked better. I can put her in easily. For safety – make sure you can “kiss her head.” You want her head to be visable. Make sure to read the instructions. There is a handy pocket on it so I can put my phone there if I need to. I must admit, I was not “wearing” her every day. I used it when I was having to do simple chores or out of the house. It’s not completely hands-free, but for someone who had carpal tunnel, the weight wasn’t on my hands/arms anymore.

Here I am at 38 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks later with my sling.

Here I am at 38 weeks in the hospital and 2 weeks later with Lila in my sling.

7. Blooming Bath Flower– I received this as a gift at one of my showers. What a game changer! I had bought a tub from Babies R Us and it was a pain. Once I put it on the counter in my kitchen, I couldn’t get a great hold on her because I am short and I was extremely nervous. Also, the tub leaked at one point and was also a pain. So Blooming Bath to the rescue! I put it in our kitchen sink, and it is so much easier! Plus, it’s cushy so she likes the feel, and I can wash it in the washing machine. (Air dry though.)

Blooming Bath Flower

Blooming Bath Flower

8. Taggies Activity Gym– Really, I think any gym would work. I like the Taggies brand because its colorful and there are a lot of toys and fun things for her to investigate. I like that I can remove or add toys to the loops. Also, it is big enough that she has been practicing rolling on it without leaving the mat. I also like the one with a Kick Piano, if I could have two, I’d get that one too. 🙂 Here is the Piano one.

9. Graco Pack ‘N Play– We used our Pack ‘N Play as a changing table and bed in our den the first two months. She slept really well in the Newborn Napper. Having a changing table in the den was really convenient in the beginning. At first, I wasn’t sure we should splurge on the newborn napper and such. Super glad we did.

Some things that didn’t make this list but we still love : Boppy Pillow & extra cover, & Pampers Swaddlers. Gotta love the stripe that changes colors when dirty or wet!

What baby product(s) from Months 1-3 do you recommend?

Lila says, “Good Night!”

Hello again


Ok. Let’s get caught up. This Mama has been busy! The holidays just flew by. We had a crazy Christmas here in Arkansas, with ice then snow starting on Christmas day, and on into the night. We got about 10 inches in Little Rock, which is A BIG DEAL. Which also put some Christmas festivities on hold till the snow melted. So we had Lila’s FIRST: Christmas, Snow, New Year AND she rolled over from her tummy for the first time too!

After that, we hit the “3 month sleep regression” which I think someone made up- but that’s the only explanation for what was going on. We were sleeping just fine, for 8-10 hours at night, then BAM. Every 2 hours like a newborn. The wake up crying “I’m starving, where are you???” Kind of stuff. Call it a sleep regression, growth spurt, whatev. It’s exhausting. It makes me want to sleep on the floor next to her crib. It’s a miracle I haven’t run into a wall! But we are slowly getting back to a longer stretch again at night. Only took a month. It’s amazing how much her little body is growing. Gotta give her credit- she’s doing MUCH better than I did. At least she didn’t have colic (the dreaded c-word!) Am I safe to say she’s past it?? Knock on wood.

She truly is amazing. It’s crazy how every day she gets stronger. She’s learning how to roll, how to use her hands, and recently how to laugh. It’s the most amazing gift to be a mother, and I’m loving every minute of it. Every smile melts my heart.

I’m making lists of our favorite items from months 1-3 and 4. Stay tuned!