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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

1.28.2022

Controversial parenting topics: Babywearing

This post in part of my series about parenting decisions that can be controversial or divisive, or in this case, just something some parents do a ton and some don't at all! Sharing what worked for us in case it is helpful for others! (See the whole list here.) 

Babywearing

I guess this one isn’t really that controversial, but it’s definitely something that some people swear by, others don't find that helpful. I discovered when Otto was a week old that when he was ready for a nap and I wore him in the wrap, he would fall asleep immediately or quickly, and in fact, could bring on a nap almost 100% of the time. Because I just wasn’t confident with the "drowsy but awake" thing with him, I wore him to start a lot of his naps. 

With Lucy I was sort of forced to figure out getting her to put herself to sleep because I was also dealing with a toddler, so didn't start her naps in the wrap quite as much. But during the 4-month sleep regression we learned that we could extend her 30-minute naps by wearing her in the wrap if we couldn’t get her back to sleep by patting and shhhhhing... so we did that a lot at that age!

I wish I had more photos of myself with this thing on cause... I spent a lot of time like this with both kids!

So I have done a lot, a lot, lot of babywearing, mostly in the soft wrap (my favorite is basically this one, I think it’s a knockoff of the Solly wrap). I would almost always wear the baby still swaddled, too. Obviously this was better in the cooler months. But it kept them sleepy and cozy and with the 5 S's principles for helping babies sleep

This is from a party we went to when Otto was about 3 months old. We arrived, I fed him, I wore him for a nap and we hung out for a couple hours, then he woke up and partied! This technique also worked great during our housewarming party, when we were giving tours of his room during naptime!

I also wore Lucy a ton in a structured carrier, though she never or almost never slept in it. In fact she loved this thing so much starting around 6 or 8 months she would start clapping and bouncing up and down when she saw it! She still really loves going for walks so she knows when we go to the front coat closet and start to get things out that she'll get excited and hope we're going outside. It’s pretty funny, when we say "carrier!" or show it to her her eyes light up. 

When she was little I could wear her front-facing, but now that she’s bigger I face her toward me and we snuggle and take walks. (Although I think we're about toward the end of that, since she likes to walk herself now!) This thing is also really great not for going outside but just for getting stuff done around the house. When you have a fussy baby who is old enough to crawl or get into things and who doesn’t want to be left alone, but you just have to go upstairs and get something or start some laundry or whatever… This thing is a lifesaver! This one was my favorite.

Honestly, though, when I think about babywearing, I think of it as a lifesaver for baby sleep when nothing else is working or you can't do all the baby sleep solutions every nap. I used it a little too heavily with Otto (I had bad back pain postpartum and it didn't help, and didn't teach him to sleep by himself as soon as we could have), used it during that really tough sleep regression with Lucy, and generally have good memories of snuggling and managing things with it. Do check out this post and resources I link there if you want to actually solve baby sleep problems, though... but in a pinch, I highly recommend swaddling the baby and wearing!

The posts in this series are meant to be me sharing my personal experience only. 100% no judgment if you did things differently! If you don't like the sound of what I did, no worries! I'm just sharing for those of you out there who are interested. Best wishes to you no matter what you choose! 

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1.27.2022

Recognizable designer aesthetics and how to define your home style

One of my goals for the year for my home is to define/refine/identify/hone my design style. I’ve been exploring new things the past year, maybe even since we bought our historic home 3.5 years ago, but really in the exploring phase and still figuring out how to put things together. When I look at my Instagram feed (a good summary of what I’ve been doing and loving lately) it’s not as cohesive as I would like. I look at pictures of my home and I’m not sure, if I was someone else, if I would be able to identify them as mine.

But I realize there are a few designers who come to mind for me as having a really distinct, unique, high-quality style, whose work I can pick out easily when I see it. I figured I would study a few of my faves and think about what makes their styles distinctive. Some beautiful images and analysis below!
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1.24.2022

Controversial parenting topics: Co-sleeping

This is the third post in my series about parenting decisions that can be controversial or divisive, and I'm sharing my experience, no judgment, of what we did (or didn't do). Alternate title: controversial mom things I did and didn’t do, and how I feel about them. (See the whole list here.) 

I've seen "co-sleeping" to mean bed sharing and/or room sharing, but most commonly, bed sharing. That's how I mean it here. We did have each baby in our room for the first 3-4 months or so.

Co-sleeping

This is a hot one and there’s a good amount of research on how to do it safely and I know a lot of cultures do it… But I just never felt comfortable. I am a nervous person sometimes. It would’ve saved a lot of time particularly with Otto, and there were one, maybe two times when he was a newborn when I fell asleep feeding him in the side-lying position or just left him on the bed after he fell asleep nursing in the middle of the night, but then I just felt really nervous about it. 

I know it can be done safely, I just… I think with Lucy in particular I just felt so much more peaceful when I knew she was sleeping soundly in her bassinet and I had the whole bed to myself and wouldn’t disturb her. Just a mental thing for me really. 

With Otto I looked into the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper thing that attaches to the bed, thinking that way he could be in his own space but I wouldn't have to get all the way up to get him. Ended up going with a flat rocking swing bassinet instead.

Our room until we moved everyone upstairs. You can read more about that bassinet/swing here--I have done a lot of research!

As the kids have gotten older, and when Otto had a phase around age 3 after we took the rail off his crib and he would sometimes come in our room, we have also had a no sleeping in our bed policy. I know some kids and some parents have a hard time with that and I’ve just been really anxious/afraid of having sleep continue to be interrupted even after they sleep trained, so we have just never done it. Otto sometime snuggles Jason in the morning weekend mornings as we’re getting up, but when he’s had difficult times and waking up in the middle of the night we can always tuck him back in or send him back to his room. It works for us.

That was a short one! More coming later this week and you can check out all the posts in this series here

The posts in this series are meant to be me sharing my personal experience only. 100% no judgment if you did things differently! If you don't like the sound of what I did, no worries! I'm just sharing for those of you out there who are interested. Best wishes to you no matter what you choose!

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1.20.2022

Controversial parenting topics: Sleep training

Welcome to post #2 in my series, of controversial mom things I did and didn’t do, and how I feel about them. (See the whole list here.) When I was in the trenches with a newborn waking up every 3 hours, and then a 4-6 month-old taking 30-minute naps, I read every single thing I could online and didn't think sleep training or teaching of some kind was that much of a choice. But since, I've seen some moms sharing they didn't do any sleep training, and figured maybe this topic was more divisive than I remembered (?) and maybe my perspective was worth sharing.

Sleep training

I had a really hard time with newborn sleep with both kids, but particularly with Otto because it was such a surprise. I imagine most people have a hard time with this, except for occasionally people get really great babies! But mine were pretty normal, waking up every 2 to 3 hours for the first many many weeks. I spent lots of time googling how to get them to sleep better and almost everything I read suggested a few key things in the first 4 months or so, and then sleep training. 

So I did everything I was supposed to do: put them down drowsy but awake, don’t feed them to sleep, swaddle, shush noises, rocking, etc. Actually I did this a lot better with Lucy because with Otto I was hopeless that he would ever be able to fall asleep by himself… With Lucy I didn’t have as much of a choice because I had another kid to watch. I wrote a blog post here about how I did it so much better the second time around. But anyway, those are the newborn days… 

Then comes the 4-month sleep regression when things get really hard, and then around 6 months the experts say you can sleep train. This doesn’t always mean the Cry It Out method, but I’m pretty sure always involves some crying. We did a modified Ferber method, from the Taking Cara Babies course. It really worked. With Otto we sleep trained around 6 months but then I was still feeding him once around 4 AM until he was 10 or 11 months, I don’t remember why. It was not necessary! With Lucy we also cut the feeds except maybe a dream feed at 6 months, and I have been sleeping through the night since then. (!!! Hallelujah.) 

Lucy's nursery

All of that is backstory… Sleep training is controversial because some people have said that letting your baby cry can cause attachment issues later on or damage them… The research has not proven this, in fact it shows that sleep training decreases maternal/parental stress, and the babies really do sleep better. I was a mess when the kids were waking up every 2 to 3 hours. Jason was too. Our marriage was struggling, my ability to take care of toddler Otto was reduced, I couldn’t do anything, I felt stressed and anxious… We got a lot better through the techniques I shared here, but when we were able to sleep train and sleep through the night it was really a game changer. (See all my posts related to baby sleep here.)

It really changed the way I felt about parenting, made me way less resentful. And therefore a better mom and more in love with my baby! Just my personal experience here, but I absolutely do not feel bad about teaching my kids to fall asleep by themselves early on.

Two rounds of the ABC's and put her down for nap or bed. Been doing it that way since she was tiny!

The posts in this series are meant to be me sharing my personal experience only. 100% no judgment if you did things differently! If you don't like the sound of what I did, no worries! I'm just sharing for those of you out there who are interested. Best wishes to you no matter what you choose!

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1.17.2022

Controversial parenting topics: Breastfeeding

I have three friends who are pregnant right now and who I’ve talked to about my experience, common concerns, etc. I love when they ask me for opinions or help! But I often have a tricky time in the situation because I love love love to be helpful and share any wisdom I have, but I have been told occasionally throughout my life that I can come on too strong, and I definitely don’t want to offend or alienate or give unsolicited advice. Motherhood is particularly tricky for this kind of thing because there’s a lot of judgment out there at moms and I never want to sound like I am judging my friends if I ask them questions about what they’re planning on doing. But like I said I do think I have some helpful perspectives, so I figured I would just share them with the whole world instead! ;) 

I started writing down some thoughts about a few controversial/divisive topics in parenting/motherhood but the post got way too long fast. So I'm breaking it up into a series, about all of these:

Controversial mom things I did and didn't do, and how I feel about them

  1. Breastfeeding
  2. Sleep training
  3. Co-sleeping
  4. Babywearing
  5. Baby-led weaning
  6. Cloth diapering
  7. Potty training
  8. Daycare vs. nanny
  9. Transitioning from the crib
  10. TV time

So here's my first in this series of posts about my thoughts and experiences on these 10 common often controversial decisions we make as moms/parents.

Breastfeeding

Background/intro/disclaimer... It was a personal goal/expectation of mine to breastfeed my kids long before I got pregnant. I think this goes way back, because my mom breastfed me till I was 2.5 and was very proud of that and had a very positive experience. I didn’t really understand pros and cons (and I guess I still don’t fully, scientifically), but when I got into the Paleo/real food/nutritional therapy/health community after I stop being vegan in 2012/2013, I was exposed to a lot of moms sharing how they had made ancestral-based choices for pregnancy and birth and had been healthy and successful. So I definitely valued it and wanted to give my babies all natural breastmilk, and eat a good diet to support that. 

But see even as I say this now I’m trying to be neutral! I do not judge other moms who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, but I guess what I’m trying to say here is that breastfeeding was really important to me. I really wanted to do it, and I, too have found a lot of joy in it. There have been really hard times… my supply was not great with Otto so I got stuck pumping a lot and was anxious about how much we were giving him from the pump supply versus how much I made that day at work. I tracked every feeding in an app for something like 9 months with him! I breastfed him till he was 19 months, when I got pregnant with Lucy and knew I would be too tired and sick to have one more responsibility (although by the end I’m sure he was hardly getting any milk at all and it was just a comfort thing we did before bedtime). He also never asked for milk! 

Happened to catch a glamorous shot of me feeding Otto once
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1.11.2022

Decor trends for 2022 (and a bonus!)

Since 2018, this time of year, I've done a Your Home Story podcast episode about home decor trends for the coming year, and what looks are heading out. I stopped co-hosting the podcast this past summer, but I couldn't not do this episode again! So I got to record with Ashley as a guest this time, our 5th design trends episode!

As always you can find the episode (this one's #199) in your podcast player of choice (here we are in iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, and Overcast) or listen at the bottom of this post. But in case you don't have time, I'm also sharing some notes and photos of the trends we discussed here!


Home Decor Trends for 2022


2022 Trends

Home Renovations: 
  • More investments in the home office. Think: built-ins, actual office spaces with more people working from home. Moving away from guest bedrooms or unused spaces that were functioning to better looking offices. Zoom is still a big player. Homework rooms.
  • Multi-function rooms (office/workout room)
  • Game rooms--ping pong or video games.
Home Decor/Finishing
  • Textiles: wallpaper, shag rugs, … anything with a tactile feeling. Patterned/floral upholstery, tapestries. Colorful window treatments.
  • Texture: faux finishes for brick or plaster look, wall treatments, textured fabric, textured wallpaper
  • Going BOLD with decor styles and colors
  • 70’s colors, mod shapes, curves
  • Warm neutrals. Taupe, camel, rust, blush
Sustainability
  • More vintage than ever!
Technology
  • Smart home technology (we don't have many of these, but we did just get a solar-powered dusk to dawn outdoor lantern for our front porch!) 
  • Virtual staging
  • USB outlets, pretty switch plates
  • Performance fabrics
  • Movement in upholstery (e.g. swivel chairs)

Trends that are leaving in 2022

  • Open concept homes
  • Cheap replicas
  • All-white kitchens (again). Also waterfall kitchen islands.
  • Shiplap (choose wallpaper instead)

I didn’t see the terms Grandmillenial or Cottagecore in the articles we read, like we have the past couple years, but these trends are definitely still in those vibes. Maybe it's just trendy style now, not as much of a novelty!

A somewhat recent living room shot. That floral chair and couch really don't go together and I'll probably swap out one or the other, but they do both feel fresh! Oh, and I've since recovered those sconce shades with pleating!

Listen here or in iTunesStitcherSpotifyGooglePlay, or Overcast!

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1.06.2022

How to make a toddler comforter and duvet cover from a queen!

I am so excited about this project! And it’s so silly and was such simple sewing, but it’s really making me happy. All born out of the need for a toddler size duvet for 1-year-old Lucy. 

I started shopping for a down comforter and cover for Lucy and realized they are all very different sizes across brands so it’s hard to mix-and-match, and there’s not a lot of selection. It’s definitely more work, but I realized I could purchase a queen size comforter and turn it into two: one for Lucy, one for Otto, who until now has been sort of drowning in his twin size comforter. Then when I went to buy the covers, I knew the size would fit if I bought a queen sized cover in a cute pattern and made it into two also! And I found the sweetest little tan gingham that works great for both of their rooms. This is a really great easy sewing project and I’m sharing it step-by-step!
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1.03.2022

Real home tour! Classic colonial revival with organic and vintage touches

Sharing another Instagram account home tour! I absolutely love Jordan (@house_collected)'s aesthetic. She's updating her 1982 traditional colonial style home (one of my favorite layouts, I love the classics) in Michigan and I have so much fun watching her use slightly funky, patina-ed/rustic/English country pieces in a home with some traditional architectural elements. I just love some of the antique pieces she's brought in, and her daring powder room!


Vintage rustic vibes colonial revival home tour

Take it away, Jordan!

This is our second home and our forever home. Our first home as a couple was a placeholder while I finished my anesthesia training. We moved here prior to having our son Boden knowing we wanted good schools and a bigger home for raising a family. My husband found this listing at 4am we both had to see it right away. We got so lucky to win this home even though there were a few other offers. 
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12.29.2021

2022 house project and design goals!

I’m feeling a lot of energy to start a new year and do exciting new things and projects in our home! I always make a list of goals we have for house projects for the year and the past several years in this fixer upper they have been pretty practical, large things (like new roof, paint the house, etc.), so this is the first year where we’ve done most of that stuff already and I’m really focusing on design. And the basement! 

Other than that we’ve even touched basically every room in the house at least with some white paint, which at the time felt like what it needed to feel like ours. However I’ve been changing and my style is still developing and I’m going for less of a generic, big box, clean slate look and trying to add more color and interest. So I may be repainting some white rooms to another color this year! But even more than that…

2022 house projects goals


Exterior


1. Yard. We still have some exterior things to finish cleaning up. We made some huge progress on the yard last year, adding grass to areas that are previously bare or weeds, purchased some plants from a local nursery, stuff like that. We need to finish the very front part of our yard facing the street and possibly remove a very large Oregon grape cluster at the front corner that we’ve been debating about since we bought the house.

2. Front porch. Last year I stained the front door over a series of evenings after the kids went to bed but I didn’t do it fast enough to seal it as well before the weather got too cold and dark! And our porch light's broken so I couldn’t do it at night. Anyway I will hopefully seal the front door, and my dad is helping replace the light fixture on the post there, so I should be able to do that one pretty quickly and get the front porch looking better. Also need to power wash.
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