Eli's Montessori Room

Eli’s Montessori-inspired room is finally done! With the completion of the rag rug next to his floor bed, it’s officially time to call it quits… well, for the next couple of months anyway.  This room is perfect for where he is right now, but once he’s pulling up and then walking, we’ll be changing things up a bit.  But for now…

Welcome!

We incorporated the idea of art at his eye level, while also decorating the entire room from floor to ceiling with items of visual interest.  I see him wake up from naps and just stare at his wall decal, wall of shelves, or the butterfly mobile for long periods of time.

The letters on the wall above are metal from a local shop, and the bird pic is a print from World Market that came matted, I glued the mat to the backing and then glued a wide brown grosgain ribbon around it for the “frame” and a loop to the back for a hanger.  The kneeler/step stool was a gift, so I’m not sure where it’s from.

As he’s getting bigger, he’s crawling off his bed and towards his low shelf that has toys in small baskets easily accessible to him.  Obviously the monitor needs to be wall-mounted before he starts pulling up, but the cords are secured behind the bookcase where he can’t unplug them.

Also once he’s pulling up and “cruising” the shelf is a good height to hold on to and cruise along, and then he’ll be able to reach the items on the top as well.

Above his bed is a wall decal from Simple Shapes on Etsy.  Excellent quality on that decal, we were really impressed.  We ordered it reversed from the way it’s shown in her store.

His bed is a 4-inch cotton futon made by Gold Bond and can be ordered through Amazon.  It’s 100% cotton, and the flame retardant is boric acid, which, from what I’ve read, is the most natural flame retardant out there.   It compresses to a nice firm 4 inches after not much lying on it by an adult (we just made sure we lay in different place every time, but we just did this to play with him, or in my case, nurse sometimes, we didn’t even have to sleep the whole night or anything to achieve this), that’s definitely firm enough for a baby that can roll over and hold up his/her head.  We started him napping on this when he was about 5 months old.  I was impressed with the quality of the mattress and the almost complete absence of smell.  It had a slight smell on the cover from the plastic it was shipped in, but that aired out in about 24 hours.

We covered it with a cotton hypo-allergenic waterproof mattress cover (we ordered two, so we’d always be able to throw a dry one on if needed), and then organic cotton sheets from Target.

The rug I’m rather pleased with because even though it’s far from “perfect,” it’s the ultimate upcycled piece.  It’s a hand made rag rug that only cost the price of an “S” sized crochet hook.  I made it from some tablecloths, sheets, and stash fabric and used scrap threads from other projects to stitch it together, you know, like all the random colors left wound on your bobbins from previous projects.  I’ll post more in depth about its creation now that it’s complete.

In front of the small window, is a butterfly mobile that I designed. You can view the post on that and download the butterfly shapes here.  It’s not one of the series of Montessori friendly mobiles you’ll see if you’ve been searching for Montessori baby ideas, but he loves the paper butterflies and how they move in the slightest bit of air with a window open or the ceiling fan on, so I’m sticking them there and leaving them for a while 😉

He has a play area downstairs where I’ve been rotating various handmade hanging toys that fit with what he’s interested in as he’s developed, but he’s almost out of the hanging toy phase I think…  Another post, another day on that 😉

The birds on a branch are also a free pattern from Spool.  They have it shown as a mobile, but I riffed of Meg McElwee’s idea for Finnian’s Montessori room and glued the finished stuffed birdies onto a  branch for the wall. (Which, if  you’re interested in Montessori rooms and you haven’t seen that one yet, it’s definitely a must see, and now the most famous Montessori room on the internet as her design has inspired so many others).

The banner over the window is my adaptation of a pattern from Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home, and you can see close up pictures in this post from when I first made it.

The wall shelves and low shelf were custom-made by Earl Linn of Old Country Cabinets for you local readers.

The low wall art are just images I printed out and mounted to cardboard with a good scrapbook quality glue stick and then mounted to the wall with Command adhesive poster squares because I didn’t want anything with glass in it, or even anything he could easily get off the wall.  These he can’t get off the wall, and even if he did, there’s not much he could do to himself with paper and cardboard.  He could eat it, I suppose.

He loves his floor bed!

For more on the Montessori philosophy and method with babies and young children, check out Montessori from the Start and How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way.  The first one is rich in content and methodology, the second, despite having a cheesy title that’s way too long, is full of great practical ideas and pictures of what it looks like.

And in case you were wondering about the paint colors:

Blue: Babbling Brook 401-3 from Porter Paints
Green: Pickling Spice 310-3 from Porter Paints
Brown: Stonington 416-4 from Porter Paints
The orange I lost the card for unfortunately.

And there you have it!

Reusable Wipes and Wipe Solution

As I was preparing for the birth of my son, I did many projects from things specifically for him, to preparing his room, to decorating the master bedroom because he’d be sharing it with us for a while, and also making some basics like reusable wipes for diaper changing time because it occurred to me one day that it didn’t make a bunch of sense to do cloth diapers and still be throwing away all those wipes both for financial and ecological reasons.

I looked into buying cloth wipes and I actually had a bunch in an online shopping cart, when it struck me that I could make them.

Thanks to a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend, I had a stack of gently used flannel receiving blankets, you know, the smaller ones that come in packs usually.  So I grabbed about 6 of them and started cutting them up. I discovered that if you mess with how you fold them, you can cut through multiple layers (like 4) at the same time and have virtually no waste.

So….

Step 1: Fold blanket so that you can cut 6 to 7 inch squares out of them. Slice off the folds, and make all your cuts.  Repeat with other blankets or fabric. Each blanket yielded about 12 squares or so.  Don’t worry if they aren’t perfect, we’re going to trim them in step 4… read on, Oh type A person (I’m one too, that’s how I knew to write you a note here 😉 )

Step 2: Match fronts and backs of wipes together, wrong sides together.  As you can see in the pictures, I matched one solid square and one printed square for each wipe.

Step 3: Sew together with a straight stitch with a half inch or so seam allowance around all four sides.

Step 4: Trim edges of wipes so that they’re even.

Step 5: Zig-zag stitch over the edges to keep them from fraying. Or you could overlock if you have access to an overlock machine, but zig-zag is perfectly adequate for this.

A variation I did on this is to cut up an old towel and sew the terry square to one flannel square, wrong sides (well of the flannel, there is no wrong side to a towel) together with straight stitch along three sides, turn, and french seam the opening shut. That gives you a heftier wipe for bigger messes, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised that you only need one wipe for most changes.  I’d still make about 40-60. I started with about 32 and was always in danger of running out, so I’ve now made 12 more and that’s great with doing a diaper/wipe load every day. I’ll be making 12 or so more so that won’t have to keep raiding the stash in the diaper bag 😉 .

Now, for the wipe solution, we started out using plain ol’ water, but when Eli developed a yeast rash, I added 4 drops of tea tree oil to 8 oz of water and that seems to be doing just great! And it smells yummy too…  Put in squeeze or spray bottles and you’re done. Easyness.

Thanks for dropping by! Don’t forget to vote for this week’s giveaway before you go…

3 C's Hand Salve

I love calendula and chamomile, and combined, they might just be the yummiest smelling thing ever!  And I combined them with coconut oil and some other yummy and nourishing ingredients (namely extra virgin olive oil, beeswax and vitamin E oil) to make my all time favorite  (so far!) hand salve. It’s both soothing and healing, making it possible for me to work in the kitchen right now.  My eczema is quite inflamed at the moment, and I just apply a bit of this after pretty much every time I get my hands wet and it makes it bearable.

Okay, so as promised, here’s a brief how-to on herb infused oil and my new hand salve recipe…

I actually double infused this oil… so just like for the Bum Salve I made the other day, except I took the strained oil and poured it over a fresh batch of herbs. Same ratio: take 1/2 cup of herbs, in this case I did a whole cup, half chamomile and half calendula, and then the same amount of olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed), or in the case of a double infusion the same amount of the already infused herb oil.  Pour the olive oil over the herbs in an oven proof dish.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees and then turn off. Leave for about four hours. This time I actually re-heated the oven half-way through and left the light on for a bit of added warm because I felt like my oven cooled off too fast the last time.

The oil turns a lovely golden brown:

and then we make the salve.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs Coconut Oil
  • 4 Tbs Calendula/Chamomile Oil (or if you want to infuse them separately for other uses, then 2 Tbs of each oil)
  • 2 Tbs Beeswax
  • 1/8 tsp Vitamin E Oil

Melt the first three ingredients together in a double boiler on medium heat until beeswax is melted.  Remove from heat, dry your measuring cup so no water gets in your salve preparation.  Stir in Vitamin E Oil and pour into sterilized container(s). This recipe makes 4 oz.

And this makes a firmer salve, firm enough you could pour it into lip balm tubes also if you wanted it to be a lip balm.

Don’t forget to weigh in on what next week’s giveaway should be! And stay tuned for a brand new blog feature… shhh… I’m not telling yet 😉