Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Awesome Deals

If you've read this blog long enough, or if you know John and I, you'll know that one of our favorite stores is Essex. Essex is a retail outlet that has the appearance of a junk store, but if you take the time to look around, you'll find amazing deals on brand name products. These products range from electronics to toys to household items and much more. After my mom left Saturday afternoon, John and I decided to venture over to our local Essex to see what they had. I was not expecting to find much of anything, but I was proven wrong, and we walked out with these items: 

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Doll High Chair. If you are familiar with Melissa and Doug products, you'll know they're very well made and very pricey. We already knew we wanted to buy Hannah Grace a doll high chair for her birthday, but the only ones I had seen in stores were fairly cheap quality for around $20. I had seen this high chair from Melissa and Doug on Amazon for $50, but there was no way I wanted to pay that much for something made for a doll (especially when Hannah Grace's real high chair cost the same amount). However, the price on this high chair at Essex was $25, and since the date was from early February**, it was 60% off, making it a whopping TEN DOLLARS

Madame Alexander Dolls Nursery Stroller. A doll stroller was another present we wanted to give Hannah Grace for her birthday. I had checked the strollers at Babies R Us and Target and was not impressed with any of them. They were all very short (so she couldn't grow with them), small, and like the doll high chairs, were made from cheap materials. When I saw this stroller at Essex, I reviewed it on Amazon and thought it would be the best option. John and I weren't wild about the $25 price tag, but when I considered the fact that it's $47 on Amazon, and we were getting such a great deal on the high chair, it was worth the money. 
Janome HD 3000. Y'all, I still can't believe this thing is sitting on my kitchen table. A couple of months ago I started researching slightly-higher-end (in the $300-$500 price range) sewing machines for the fun of it. The sewing machine I had been using was given to me by my mom when I graduated from MTSU, and while it was (and is) a GREAT machine, especially for beginners, it was unable to do a few things I was wanting it to do. Having never heard a bad thing about Janome, I began to research their machines. I knew I didn't want anything super fancy, but rather, a sturdy basic machine with the extra things I was looking for. I was torn between this machine and the Janome HD 1000; the biggest difference was that the HD 1000 had a front loading bobbin and the HD 3000 had a drop in bobbin. There were also a few complaints about the HD 3000's automatic needle threader, and that made me leery to consider purchasing it. ANYway, while we were at Essex on Saturday, I thought I'd see what machines they had in stock (I've only ever seen Singer and Brother brands, so I wasn't expecting much). As I approached the aisle, I was stunned to not only see a box with 'Janome' printed on the side, but a box containing the very machine I'd spent two months researching, at $140 less than Amazon's price. I was excited, but I was realistic in knowing that we couldn't really just drop that much money on a sewing machine (especially when I didn't truly need it), but I mentioned it to John anyway. He didn't say no, but he didn't say we should buy it either, so I sort of just forgot about it. 

To make a long story short, John and the manager wound up talking, and since we were "considering" spending so much money, the manager agreed to give us an extra 10% discount. This meant that the sewing machine that cost $350 on Amazon was suddenly sitting there for $189. Sold. 

I also happened to spot a guitar made by Taylor and pointed it out to John. It was priced ridiculously low, and knowing a couple of people who were wanting that very guitar, we put it in the buggy with the rest of our stash. John's already received one (maybe two) official offers on the guitar, so it'll soon be out of our house, but I know he is happy to help someone get a nice guitar at a great price. 

John and I joke that we cannot ever walk in an Essex unless we have spending money, because we always seem to find hard to resist deals on products we actually want. After this last trip, I'm thinking we should stay out of a store for awhile! But we sure are happy about our purchases!

**I mentioned that the date on the doll high chair affected the price, making it cost less than the price on the sticker. The way Essex works is that they price they're items roughly half of what Amazon sells the product for. After one month, the price goes down 10%. Every ten days after that, the price goes down another 10%. So, if there is a Kitchen Aid mixer priced at $150 with a date of April 1st, and it is still on the shelf on May 20th, then it's 30% off the $150, making it $105. Get it? Pretty awesome.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good Week

I was dreading last week.

John had a big week at work, which included longer than normal days and a night away. Paired with Hannah Grace's mid-night wakings and napless afternoons, I knew the week would be rough. I wound up talking on the phone with my mom about it Monday night, and she offered to drive over the next day and visit for the week. I had my 32 week appointment Tuesday afternoon, and John wasn't able to come, so it worked out perfectly for her to watch Hannah Grace while I was with the doctor.

My appointment went well, and when I told my doctor how large the baby felt, he measured my stomach. "Well," he said, "you're measuring at 34 weeks, so you're doing o.k.". I glanced at him as he checked the computer that contained my information, "Oh wait," he continued, "you're 32 weeks. Let's do an ultrasound next time to check the baby's weight". Ha, so I'm measuring two weeks early. This doesn't really mean they'll voluntarily take the baby two weeks early (although I wouldn't mind it), but it's probably a sign that this little dude is gonna be a little on the large side (Hannah Grace was 8lb 10oz, and additional children tend to be larger at birth)!

Mom and I spent a majority of the week sewing, and I learned to make my own bias tape!

The left is 1 inch single fold bias tape, and the right is double fold bias tape. They are about 9 yards each, and I paid $3 for the fabric to make everything. To put how good of a deal is into perspective, you can buy about 3 yards of plain colored bias tape for about $2 at a fabric store. I have no idea what I'm going to use the tape on yet, but I'm happy to have learned a new sewing skill!

Mom brought along a pattern and fabric to make ruffled diaper covers, and oh my gosh, they were so adorable. In fact, on one of our three trips to Jo-Ann, I picked out a a set of fabric for her to make another pair for Hannah Grace to match a shirt I wanted to make her. She got the ruffled diaper cover sewn, and I finished the shirt, but I don't have pictures yet due to the colder temperatures (I want to do the pictures outside since it's a cute summery outfit).

Mom also made the baby a cute, fleece baby blanket with little monsters all over it, and blanket/play mat with roads and various city themed locations that you can 'drive' around with small toy cars. And we each hand stitched cute monster patches to white onesies. Along with the quilt and final projects I'm doing for Hannah Grace, I'll share pictures of these on a separate blog post.

When we weren't sewing, we were eating (a lot, yummy), shopping at Jo-Ann, taking Hannah Grace to play (once at Chick Fil A, once at the park), and cleaning the house. We don't have a room for the baby, but he does have a closet set up in our guest room. The closet was organized, but the guest room was a wreck, so mom got it all nice and organized!

I feel like I was on a bit of a vacation with her here, especially with just getting basic household things done with an extra pair of hands to help with Hannah Grace. So now that I've had my "vacation", I think I can make it to the birth of this little boy! Less than eight weeks!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Big Girl Bedding

Several months ago, the Target near our house had a bunch of children's bedding on clearance. I didn't pay much attention at first because the smallest size (twin) was still too big for Hannah Grace's crib mattress. However, once I saw the $4.49 cent price tag on the sheet set, which included a flat sheet, fitted sheet, and two pillowcases, I knew I could do something with it. I decided to buy two sheet sets, which means I got at least four yards of fabric for less than $10. 
To make a long story short, I made a little bedding set for Hannah Grace. It includes a fitted crib sheet, a blanket (the polka dot is ultra cuddle fleece from JoAnn; I used the fabric as the sheet backing, as you can sort of tell in the picture), and a pillowcase, combining it with another fabric that brought the color scheme together. I also made a changing pad cover, but I don't have a picture of it. 

In case you were wondering, the main fabric on the pillowcase was already put together that way. I don't yet have the patience (or time) to cut so many little squares out and sew them together just for the sake of a pillowcase! 
Sound asleep. 

. . . and about 45 seconds later. Ahem. Good going, Mommy. 

I'm really pleased with how everything turned out, and that I was able to use a few variations of fabric to bring the other things (her curtains and diaper stacker) together. And for right around $30, the price can't be beat!

If anyone is curious, the tutorial I used for the crib sheet can be found here. The tutorial I used for the pillowcase can be found here

For the polka dotted blanket I just sewed the right sides together (leaving a space to turn), turned it right side out, and top stitched all the way around. I decided to take some embroidery floss and tie it in a few places just to hold the blanket together a little more, but that isn't necessary. I really just wanted to see what it would look like!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Spring Break"

Last week John wasl off work, so we planned a trip to Franklin/Murfreesboro to spend some time with family and friends. Unless we go back the weekend of Hannah Grace's birthday in May, we are pretty sure that was our last trip until after the baby comes. 

The first part of the week was spent at John's parent's house near Franklin. His birthday was the 3rd (big 29!) so we spent the evening at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Eagleville with Andy, Cherie, and Amber (her husband Michael had to work). We also got some great outside time when John decided to burn a bunch of. . . stuff? . . . brush? . . . debris? . . . sawed down tree with lots of sticks and limbs is what it really was, ha. Hannah Grace loves being outside, so it was fun for her to watch John do his thing while she ran around freely (or as freely as she could while avoiding my in-laws gigantic dog). 

Thursday we drove over to my mom's after having lunch with John's parents and Cherie in celebration of John's mom's birthday. Friday morning my mom and I got up, ate breakfast, dressed Hannah Grace and got her ready for what was supposed to be a three to four hour shopping trip at Opry Mills. Thanks to Good Friday crowds and long lines in stores and at the food court (we waited an hour in line at Charley's Subs. . . but even Burger King's line was that long), our three to four hour trip was more like seven! I'm happy (and quite honestly shocked) to say that Hannah Grace did very, very well and even stayed in her stroller four of those hours (two being for a nap)! She loves walking around, but I think just looking at everything going on made her tired, ha. 

Opry Mills is great and definitely has some awesome stores. Because it's an outlet mall, I would have loved for them to have an Osh Kosh, but since Murfreesboro store runs so many good sales I wasn't too bothered by the mall's lack of one. Hannah Grace LOVED the Disney store (where I secretly bought her a couple of birthday presents) and the gift shop at Rainforest Cafe. I loved the Vera Bradley outlet and have decided that I cannot step foot back in Opry Mills without having the money to buy something from there (I mean, my zipper I.D. case is getting old. . . and I have a new baby coming which means I could use one of their pretty purses as a diaper bag. . . right?). Ahem. My mom was also very generous and bought me some dressier clothes from Motherhood Maternity that I can wear to church. 

The only major complaint I have about the mall is this: If Stones River Mall in Murfressboro can have a small play area, then why can't Opry Mills? They put millions of dollars into this mall, and all they have is just a few areas for people to sit and NO place for kids to run around. It can't cost that much to put in a couple of age appropriate slides and tunnels (age appropriate being 18 months to six years old) so that parents can sit and have a break. Kids can only sit in strollers for so long! Anyhoo, that's it. It just seems like such a "duh" idea to me that I was really surprised when we didn't see anything. 

On Saturday we took Hannah Grace to a park for a little while so she could play. My mom is having a carport added on to her house, so her backyard was off limits to Hannah race! That afternoon we went on an impromptu fishing trip with John's brother's family, and then wrapped the evening up with eating Chick Fil A on my mom's newly paved patio. 

We decided at the last minute to go to church on Easter (well, we knew we wanted to go, we just didn't know where). Hannah Grace had the cutest dress, but I didn't get very many pictures of her wearing it. Oh well. We ate lunch with my mom, aunt, uncle, and cousin at a new restaurant (Farmer's) in Murfressboro. Once we stuffed our guts, we loaded up in our little van and headed home!

Yesterday was a super lazy day and I got 90% done on a quilted blanket for the baby. I hope to finish today so I can take some pictures and share with everyone!