5 Easy & Cheap DIY Baby Projects

If you’re like me, once you hit third trimester the “nesting” urge kicks in. Suddenly I’m all over Pinterest looking up DIY baby projects. Like so many of us, I want a nursery that looks like it came from a Pottery Barn catalog, but unfortunately, I’m not a bajillionaire. I’m not a great seamstress (as in I still count it as a victory when I can sew a project and not cry or swear once), but even basic sewing and crafting skills can do a lot to dress up a simple nursery.

Baby Scarlett is due in 6 short weeks. I’m still healthy and well and even working out 5–6 times a week, but I’m getting progressively more tired and achey as my due date gets closer and closer. So this weekend I wrapped up the last of my baby-related projects so that I can settle in and take it easy for these last weeks of my pregnancy.

Here are 4 of the things I made plus one simple but amazing thing I bought, along with links to the tutorials I used, in case any of you want to give them a try. Have fun!

Nursing Cover

I breastfed both of my previous two babies for about 10 months each, and I hope to do the same with Baby Scarlett. I’m not at all averse to nursing in public (and am always so happy when I see other moms at the park, the pool, at church, or elsewhere who don’t feel the need to go hide in a closet to feed their baby!). But I personally prefer using a light cover when I do so.

You can buy adorable nursing covers, but here’s what I’ve found: they’re all pretty small. The nursing covers I bought and used with Soph and Rorie worked great at first. You don’t need a ton of fabric to cover a relatively still and calm newborn that weighs less than seven pounds. But give that newborn a few weeks and months and you may have a wiggler on your hands. My girls were constantly flailing and wiggling as they ate once they hit about 6 months old, and I found myself wishing my cover was bigger.

diy baby project nursing cover

So this time around I made my own so I could go for bigger dimensions. Also, sewing your own means you can pick whatever fabric you want. And who doesn’t love that? There are a million DIY nursing cover tutorials out there, but the simplest and clearest one I found was at Sew Much Ado. The only major deviation I made from this tutorial is that I chose to use velcro instead of D-rings. It seems like I spent a lot of time fiddling with those dumb rings back when I nursed Soph and Rorie. I’m hoping velcro will help keep this cover stay put once I’m using it with this coming baby.
diy baby projects nursing cover

Carseat Cover

I’m on my THIRD baby using the same infant carseat. It’s still not past its expiration date, so it’s totally safe, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sick of it. Also, now that I’m having girl #3, I’m kicking myself for every gender-neutral item I bought on baby #1 since it turns out I could have gone all girly girly on everything. Sigh.

Here's baby #2 coming home from the hospital in said gender-neutral Graco carseat.
Here’s baby #2 coming home from the hospital in said gender-neutral Graco carseat.

This time around I wanted to make something REALLY cute and feminine. I also know I’m going to be taking this baby out in the elements more than I did with my previous two—this is my first non-summer baby, plus I now have a kindergartener, so staying home all day when the weather is yucky (my old M.O.) is no longer an option for me.

I found myself drooling over the gorgeous but pricy Whole Caboodle sets made by Carseat Canopy. The minky everything looked so pretty but more importantly warm and cozy. But when it came down to it, I didn’t want to shell out that much money unless it was EXACTLY what I wanted. In my head I pictured something both red and girly, since this baby is going to be named Scarlett, but all the girly patterns available on their site were purple or pink.

I ended up finding a boy-pattern Whole Caboodle for a steal on eBay. I went with it because it had the red minky interior I was after. I then unpicked all the cotton top fabric on both the cover and the lap blanket and re-sewed on girly red fabric I went out and bought with a 50% off coupon at JoAnn’s. It was a bit of a pain to do all that unpicking, but don’t you think it turned out fun?

This was a great way to do it for me because I don’t think I could hack sewing the minky slipcover (which I really wanted), but I am totally capable of doing a simple blanket and cover.

For my past babies, though, I’ve just done a basic cotton cover (which, especially for summer babies, works great. Note that I made a basic pink one in the picture of the carseat above which was also darling). The best of the many tutorials for those I’ve found is at The Ribbon Retreat.

Wall Decals

This isn’t really a project, but I wanted to include decals in this post because I think they’ve made my girls’ rooms SO cute. We’re currently living in a basement apartment where painting’s not an option. So our walls are a generic neutral color, but I still wanted to dress up the walls in the nursery and the new “big girl bedroom” my older daughters are now sharing.

 

Scarlett wall decal

I’d never tried wall decals before these ones, but I am a huge fan.  Etsy is exploding with shops that make adorable, customizable decals of all kinds. I opted for ones with my daughters’ names. I looked and looked through dozens of sellers on Etsy and finally found what I considered the cutest decals for the best prices from CanoDesigns (for the Sophia/Aurora ones with the butterflies) and OZAVinylGraphics for the framed Scarlett one. Sandra from Cano Designs in particular was awesome to work with. She sent me a few proofs and font samples until I figured out exactly what I wanted, and I was really impressed that she’d take so much time on me.  In fact, she even let me know that all of you guys can use the coupon code FORYOU15 to get 15% off anything you buy from the CanoDesigns Etsy store. 🙂

 

As a side note, I know that I was really scared of ruining my decals by applying them to my wall incorrectly. The good news is it was actually really easy to do, but I know I felt better watching a tutorial or two online before I went to slap them on my walls. Here are the videos I found the most helpful: this one on the “hinge method” of applying the decal to the wall, and then this one on removing the clear transfer tape layer.

Curtains

I wanted cute curtains that coordinated with the rest of the room, so the easiest and cheapest option for me was to sew my own. I opted for shorter curtains rather than prettier floor-length ones because of the heaters on my walls, but I still think they turned out cute and added something to the room.

diy baby projects curtains

I’m not an experienced sewer by any means. Most of you could probably just measure a window and go to town from there without any further instruction. But as a newbie, I appreciated a step-by-step walk-through. This tutorial from Design*Sponge was awesome for spelling out every step from choosing fabric to how to get the rod pocket just right.

Ruffled Crib Skirt

Last of all, I made this ruffly, fun crib skirt for the nursery. It looks crazy hard, but it’s really not! It’s time consuming for sure, but not difficult. You could buy something similar from Pottery Barn for a whopping $79. But making your own will save you buckets of cash (especially if you can be patient enough to wait for good fabric store coupons that’ll chop your fabric price by 30% or more) AND allows you to pick whatever colors and patterns you want for your fabric. Note that I coordinated with the curtains so that the room looks all pulled together. 🙂

red ruffled crib skirt

The tutorial I used for this one is from a blog called Saleena Marie.  Again, this project isn’t difficult but simply takes a little time thanks to all the fabric cutting and then ruffling. So pick a good movie or fire up some Gilmore Girls and plan on spending a bit of time on this one. It’s so worth it in the end! The ruffles transform an otherwise blah crib into something absolutely darling.

A Few Last Touches

That was pretty much it for my nursery. It’s a cute, functional little space that I can’t wait to actually use. But here are a few final things I added to the room.

Having a few cute things to hang on the wall always makes a room feel more complete to me. If you guys follow me on Pinterest you know I’m a fan of all things “Keep Calm.” Well, when is the reminder to Keep Calm and Carry On more appropriate than when you’re up with a screaming newborn in the middle of the night? I moved this sign from another room in my house to the nursery both because of the sentiment behind it and because it’s red. It was just too perfect.

Keep Calm nursery

My husband’s family also has a tradition of tying a little baby blanket for every grandbaby in the family. We did Scarlett’s a few weeks ago with some of Mark’s siblings, and it turned out really cute. The top fabric is the same as one of the tiers of the ruffled crib skirt and the bottom is plushy red minky.

 

McConkie family

I think my very favorite thing about Scarlett’s room, though, is this picture.

unnamed-1

My mother-in-law, Gina, passed away in February. She fought cancer for nearly four years before we lost her at the start of 2016. There are so many things about Gina that I want my Scarlett to exemplify, which is why we’ve settled on Scarlett Gina McConkie for her full name. This gorgeous picture is of Gina with my husband Mark when he was a baby. Isn’t it amazing? I’m sad that my Scarlett won’t know her Grandma McConkie, but I love that we can keep her memory close by having her picture there in Scarlett’s room.


So there you have it! For any of you expecting mamas, feel free to comment below and link to tutorials for baby projects you’ve done. I might have a little steam left in these remaining 6 weeks and am always up for a fun little project or two. 🙂

 

Freezer BBQ Chicken + Lemon Dill Rice

This is my go-to simple chicken freezer meal recipe. It’s about as easy as it gets, plus it’s a healthy, high-protein meal that my whole family enjoys. Winner winner chicken dinner! Because this one is so easy that it’s almost not a recipe, I am throwing in a bonus side dish recipe this week that pair well with this simple BBQ chicken.

Freezer BBQ Chicken

Ingredients

6 lbs chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups of your favorite BBQ Sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1/2 cup olive oil

 

chicken freezer meal

 

Directions

  1. Trim your chicken breasts of any unwanted skin, fat, or otherwise yucky spots.

2. Chop trimmed breasts into 12 separate pieces. I like to make mine nice and thin so that they grill or bake more quickly and evenly, but exactly how you do this is up to you.

unnamed-4

3. Put chicken into as many bags as desired. You could do individual servings in sandwich sized bags or put as many servings as your family will eat in one sitting into a larger quart or gallon freezer bag.

4. Mix together the BBQ sauce and olive oil in a small bowl. Divvy this marinade evenly between your bags of chicken.

5. Seal ’em up and toss them in the freezer! For now, at least, you are done.

 

chicken freezer meal

6. On the day you plan to cook these up, pull them out of the freezer to thaw several hours in advance (you can go straight from frozen, but I find that cooking chicken thoroughly without overdoing it is much easier when the chicken is thawed).

7. You can place your chicken on foil-lined cookie sheets and bake at 375 for 25—30 minutes or until cooked through. Or, if you have a little indoor grill (or an outdoor one, if you’re up for it), go ahead and grill your chicken instead. I love love LOVE my George Foreman and use it for this and several other recipes. I think the slightly charred outside makes this chicken especially yummy, but this chicken is great baked as well.

8. Enjoy!  🙂

 

chicken freezer meal

Nutritional Data

These numbers come from divvying up the above recipe into 12 individual servings.

Calories: 316 | Fat: 7g | Carbs: 48g | Protein: 21g


Favorites Lemon Dill Rice

Remember the out-of-print cookbook I raved about in my Chili X post? This rice recipe comes from that same awesome book. It’s simple and tasty and freezes well. This is one of the quickest and yummiest ways I’ve found to jazz up rice. It’s listed in the Favorites book as Lemon Rice with Pinenuts on page 128.

You’ll note that the recipe as I list it below doesn’t include pine nuts . . . haha. You can certainly add them in if you’d like, but I’ve found that (1) they don’t freeze well, (2) they’re pretty high in fat, and (3) they are PRICY! So in both the interest of budget and nutrition, I’m simplified this recipe a little from its original version in the Favorites book. I’ve also doubled it so that you can cook once and have 3–4 meals’ worth set to go in your freezer.

Ivory Favorites cookbook

Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth

3 cups uncooked white rice

4 TBS butter

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tsp dried dill

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat chicken broth and rice to boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. While rice is cooking, melt the butter in another saucepan and then add chopped onion. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the cooked rice and the cooked onions. Mix in lemon juice and dill.
  4. If you’re planning to freeze your rice, let it cool completely and then bag into as many portions as desired. On the day you plan to serve it, simply remove from freezer (unlike many other freezer items, I think rice does better straight from frozen rather than thawed beforehand) and heat through in the microwave until warm and steamy. Adding a small amount of water to the bottom of your dish and covering tightly with plastic wrap helps ensure soft, warm, evenly heated rice.

Nutritional Data

As with the recipe above, these numbers come from divvying up the above recipe into 12 individual servings.

Calories: 104  | Fat: 4g | Carbs: 14g | Protein: 2g

 


On the Side

I like to serve this chicken alongside the Lemon Dill Rice and round it out with veggies of some kind. I love to chop up whatever veggies are in season, toss them in a bit of olive oil, season them in salt and pepper or maybe even some garlic powder, and then roast them in my oven. Last week I did summer squash and zucchini. Yum! But if you’d rather do something quick, frozen peas or broccoli or other veggies are also an easy way to healthily round out this meal.

There you go! Enjoy. 🙂 Comment below if you get a chance to try this one out!