Valentine’s Day Round-Up

It’s officially one week until Valentine’s Day and I have got some serious planning to do!  I have yet to make a single treat or card and our V’day menu remains a blank sheet of paper.  I figured a Valentine’s Day round-up was in order to spark some serious inspiration!

Cutout Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

These heart-shaped Cutout Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting have recently been our most popular post and for good reason!  They are amazingly delicious cutout cookies without all the fuss that royal icing requires.

Valentine's Day M&M Cookies {from 2 Sisters 2 Cities}

I also love these these M&M cookies.  While I made them for the first time last year for Valentine’s Day, I made them throughout the year with various colored M&Ms.

Golden-Oreo-Truffles

These Golden Oreo Truffles are only 5 ingredients and are perfectly easy to make for your sweetheart!

chocolate_covered_strawberries

It’s also a great time of year to make Chocolate-Covered Strawberries (or pretzels or bananas!)

3 Layer Brownies- chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, and brownies together in one bar!

Or you could package up these amazing Three Layer Brownies to give out as gifts for Valentine’s Day!  The three layers include chocolate chip cookies, Oreos and brownies…wow!

Red-Velvet-Cupcakes-for-Valentines-Day_thumb.jpg

Our Red Velvet Cupcakes were recently selected as part of the Blog Better Boston {hub}LINKS newsletter as part of their “Let’s Talk Love” round-up.  Here were the other blog posts that were selected as part of this week’s theme:

hublinks-featured-blogger-LOVE

  • Looking to buy your sweetie a V-day gift? Mandy’s Money has a guide that covers gifts of various price points.
  • Who doesn’t love wedding photos? Lindsay’s Look takes us back to her wedding, 3 years ago.
  • DIY to your heart’s content with these Valentine’s Day DIYs (that aren’t cheesy) from Design Fixation.
  • Three words: Red. Velvet. Cupcakes. Two Sisters Two Cities has the recipe…and it involves cinnamon cream cheese icing.
  • This Valentine’s Day themed shoot from Stephanie Rita Photography is just too cute!
  • Want kissable lips? Cobbs Hill has the recipe for this two step process.
  • Inspired by grammar school valentines, Glitter Trim cooked up these adorable envelope cookies.
  • Wearing your heart on your sleeve is so last year! Style Tab recommends wearing it on your sunglasses instead.

Happy Valentine’s Day planning!

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Girl Scout Cookie Weekend Campaign

Disclosure: We are being compensated by GSUSA for our participation in this campaign as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network.  All opinions are our own.

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While we have spent the past week focusing on this weekend’s Super Bowl Sunday, next weekend also has a fun event going on- it’s Girl Scout Cookie Weekend!  Keelin and I both have fond memories of being Brownies as little girls.  I had so much fun at our weekly meet-ups and loved earning badges throughout the year.  I remember sitting in my bedroom admiring all the various badges on my sash.  I also loved wearing my Brownie uniform to school each week with my Brownie friends.

One thing that many people associate with the Girl Scouts program are their cookies.  This annual tradition is the largest fundraiser for local Girl Scout troops.  In fact, after the costs of the cookies are paid for, all revenue stays with the local Girl Scout council.  Cookie selling also helps girls with five life skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.

Fellow Massachusetts residents: more information on the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts can be found on their website Time Well Spent.  They will also be hosting Fork It Over, a competitive, culinary fundraising event featuring some of the region’s top chefs who create original appetizers and desserts using Girl Scout cookies and present their creations to the public and a distinguished panel of judges at Coral Seafood on Thursday, February 6 from 5 – 7 pm.  More details  and ticket information can be found on Time Well Spent website.

Starting February 7th through 9th, please support your neighborhood Girl Scout for National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend!  You can also visit the National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend website to learn more about how to buy cookies.  You can also follow Girl Scouts on Pinterest and Facebook for more cookie information!

Girl Scouts

What’s your favorite Girl Scout Cookie?  For me, it has to be a toss-up between Thin Mints and Samoas…I can’t wait for my boxes to arrive!

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Our Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2013

I had originally planned to post this on New Year’s Eve, but I was a bit under the weather that day and did not get a chance to finish writing this.  K and I wish all our readers a very happy new year!  -m

Keeping with tradition, we are pulling together a list of our top 10 favorite posts from 2013.  It was a great year for both of us, but we are also looking forwards to the fresh start that the New Year always brings.  Here are each of our top 5 posts:

M’s Favorite Posts of 2013:

1.  Baby’s N’s arrival

 baby n

2. Gender Reveal Cupcakes

gender reveal cupcakes

3. Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

slow cooker chicken tortilla soup

4. Soft Homemade Pretzels with Jalapeño Dipping Sauce

soft homemade pretzels with jalapeno dipping sauce

5. Homemade Oreos

Homemade Oreos from 2 Sisters 2 Cities

K’s Favorite Posts of 2013:

1. Deviled Eggs

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2. Cutout Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

Cutout-Sugar-Cookies-with-Buttercream-Frosting_thumb.jpg

3. Black Bean Burrito Bake

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4. Minestrone Soup

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5. Caramel Corn (lightened-up)

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Thanks to all the 2S2C readers for helping us have such a great year!  Stay tuned for some exciting changes around here in 2014, as well as many more of our favorite recipes and projects.  Happy New Year!

K&M

Get Minted For The New Year

I know we are still a few days away from Christmas, but it’s time to start thinking about the next holiday around the corner- New Year’s!  If you didn’t get a chance to send Christmas cards out this year, check out the great selection of New Year’s cards at Minted.  I love the new tradition of photo cards…it’s so fun to see photos of everyone’s family from year to year!

While I love all the Christmas cards that we receive, there is also something special about New Year’s cards from friends.  After the bustle of the season has quieted, it’s nice to reflect on these cards.  Here are a few of my favorite designs:

new year stripe

new year card

2014

Minted also offers some great New Year’s personalized party decorations. I especially love the silver and gold themed party decor.  K and I were both swooning over the personalized bunting today.

bunting

These silver and gold wine tags would also be perfect to ring in the New Year with.

wine glass tags

I also love this table runner that can be customized with your own special message…so many possibilities!

table runner

While I certainly can’t wait to savor every moment of Christmas, just looking at these New Year’s ideas is getting me inspired for all the celebrating to be done over the next couple of weeks!  How do you like to celebrate the new year ?

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Minted.  All opinions are our own.

Personalized Gifts for Kids

At my book club the other evening, I was discussing how baby N received so many personalized gifts with his name on it.  I really cherish these customized gifts because they are unique keepsakes.  It’s such a fun trend and there are so many different, creative options out there.

I also love that you can have these items made with any name.  The spelling of my name is somewhat unique and it was very hard to find personalized items with the spelling of my name growing up.  These days, any child can easily have personalized items with their name made on it!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, Bright Star Kids asked me to pull together a list of some of my favorite personalized gifts that I have seen lately.

 Bright Star Kids

  1. Personalized clothing- Bright Star Kids offers so many adorable personalized baby & kid clothes.  I love that you can order any of their customized designs and have it printed on a onesie, t-shirt, or bib (and it is 100% organic cotton.)  I am totally swooning over this Christmas Truck design…it’s so sweet!  I also love the big and little brother t-shirt designs.  One of my only complaints about having boys is the lack of cute boy clothing out there…Bright Star Kids may be changing my mind on that one!  I think T and N may be getting a few of these fun clothing items under our Christmas tree this year.bright star kids shirts
  2. Custom labels for kids- I ordered some of these for T as his nursery school teachers recommend that all kids label their coats, shoes, mittens, hats, cups, etc. so they don’t get mixed up.  I love that they don’t come off in the washing machine or dishwasher.  Bright Star kid also offers their own line of name labels.  These would make a great stocking stuffer for all your favorite preschoolers.
  3. Baby & toddler books- I recently ordered this baby book for N and this toddler memory book for T.  I love the customized front covers of these books.  It’s so much more personable that just some generic baby book from a store.  The inside pages are really nice as well.
  4. Customized name burp clothes- We go through a lot of burp clothes in our household and one of my favorites is a personalized one from Moonbeam Baby.  It’s basically a monogrammed diaper cloth embellished with some decorative fabric.  Who knew spitting up could be so cute?
  5. Name Puzzle Step Stool- Another gift that Baby N received was a personalized name puzzle step stool.  Right now only T uses it, but it’s such a cute gift idea.  Plus, T has already learned how to spell N’s name since he has put the puzzle together so many times.  T uses it to brush his teeth, wash his hands, and whenever he needs a little boost to get to counter height.

If you are looking for more personalized gift ideas for kids this holiday season, be sure to also check out my Pinterest board on the topic!  What are some of your favorite personalized gifts to give kids?

 bsk boy

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Be different this Christmas & get the kids a super cute gift personalized especially for them! Save 15% when you use the code “GIFT” in the shopping cart. Min spend $30. Expires December 15, 2013.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bright Star Kids. The opinions and text are all mine.

Campbell’s Dinner Sauces

Campbell's Dinner Sauces

K and I are always on the look-out for easy to prepare dinner ideas.  K is usually tired when she gets home from her long workday and commute.  I am also looking for easy dinner solutions when 5:00 rolls along after taking care of my two crazy boys all day.   We were recently asked to try Campbell’s line of skillet sauces and slow cooker sauces.  I was excited about the prospect of an easy dinner idea to add to our weekly menu!

Campbell’s has an entire line of skillet sauces, in addition to a line of slow cooker sauces.  They include:

Campbell’s Skillet Sauces

  • Marsala
  • Toasted Sesame
  • Scampi
  • Thai Green Curry

Campbell’s Slow Cooker Sauces

  • Tavern Style Pot Roast
  • Sweet Korean BBQ
  • Apple Bourbon BBQ
  • Hawaiian Luau
  • Mexican Red Chile Taco
  • Moroccan Spiced Stew

Campbell's Marsala Skillet Sauce

I decided to try the Campbell’s Marsala Skillet Sauce as I have not had chicken marsala in quite awhile.  It was extremely easy to pull together.  I heated up a little vegetable oil in my skillet, browned the chicken for a few minutes, added the Marsala Skillet Sauce, and then allowed the chicken to finish cooking in the sauce.  I paired it with steamed green beans and some egg noodles.  So easy!  I usually try to pull together dinner during the boys’ naptime, but this meal was easy enough to make with both of them up.

Campbell's Marsala Skillet Sauce

The final result: so delicious!  I’m so happy to have come across an easy and satisfying dinner option to feed our family.  Sometimes I feel such pressure to pull a nice dinner together and it’s nice to know that I will always have Campbell’s dinner sauces as an option in my back pocket.

I’m looking forward to trying more of the Campbell’s dinner sauces…next up I plan to try the Sweet Korean BBQ Slow Cooker Sauce.  The back of the pouch features Korean Tacos- shredded beef, cabbage, and spicy sour cream rolled up in a flour tortilla…sign me up!

Which of the  Campbell’s dinner sauces sound appealing to you?

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Disclosure: This post brought to you by Campbell’s Dinner Sauces. Weekend-worthy dinners with only weekday-level effort needed! Learn more at http://www.campbellsauces.com/.

Britax Advocate 70-G3 Review & Giveaway

britax contest

I realize that at 2 Sisters 2 Cities, we usually focus on recipe posts and DIY projects.  However, I was recently asked to review the Britax Advocate 70-G3 car seat and I agreed to it as car seats are a major part of our life now!  There would be no trips to the grocery store or craft store without our trusty carseats!  And the best part is that Britax is also giving away a Britax Advocate 70-G3 convertible car seat to one lucky 2S2C reader (keep reading this post for more details…)

As an owner of two other Britax car seats (the Britax Advocate 70-CS and the Britax Marathon 70), I was excited to try the latest and greatest product from Britax.  In addition, baby N Hates (with a capital H!) his infant bucket carseat. He cries almost non-stop whenever we are in the car…it is torture to listen to my poor little guy cry his heart out.  It’s funny to hear about people taking their babies for car rides to get them to sleep.  That would never happen in our household!  I was thinking about moving him to a convertible car seat to see if he tolerated the car better.  The timing could not have been better to try out the Advocate 70-G3!

When the car seat arrived, T ran out the front door to check it out.  What can I say…we get really excited about safety in our house!

britax_delivery

After watching an episode of Curious George in the new car seat, T agreed to let baby N have a try.  Both 3-year old T and 3-month old N are able to use this car seat as Britax convertible car seats can be used rear-facing from 5 to 40 pounds and forward-facing from 1 year and 20 pounds, up to 70 pounds.  With the Quick-Adjust Harness system, it’s super easy to adjust the shoulder height for each kid (no re-threading of straps necessary!)  Everyone seemed to be a fan of the Britax Advocate 70-G3 during our dry run in the house.

britax advocate 70g3

Next up was installing the Advocate 70-G3 in the car.  While admittedly this is not my favorite task in the world, it was actually pretty easy to install with the LATCH system.  I had the bucket seat out and the new convertible car seat installed in less than five minutes.

The real trial was up taking baby N on his first car ride in the new convertible car seat.  The result: definite improvement!  While he still cries about 50% of car trips we take, he seems to like the new seat a lot better.  And the best result (besides a safe car ride,) a sleeping baby!

britax_sleeping_baby

The best part of the Britax Advocate 70-G3 are all the amazing safety features that are incorporated into the seat.  One of Britax’s car seat taglines is “Safety You Can See” as all of their safety features are in plain sight.  They include:

  • True Side Impact Protection is deep side walls with energy-absorbing EPP foam along with a head restraint which offers a double layer of EPP foam to distribute crash forces, shield from vehicle intrusion, and contain the head, neck and body while keeping them “in true” or aligned
  • HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell Technology are affixed to the seat shell to ensure proper positioning while SafeCells compress to manage energy and provide resistance to the forward movement of your child in a crash, reducing the risk of head injury
  • Base with SafeCell Technology features SafeCells designed to compress in a crash, significantly lowering the center of gravity and counteracting the forward rotation of the child seat which normally propels the child toward the front seat
  • Integrated Steel Bars strengthen the connection to the vehicle and reduce forward flexing of the child seat during a crash
  • Energy-Absorbing Versa-Tether features a staged-release tether webbing to slow the forward movement, reducing the crash forces reaching the child, and a two-point attachment to minimize forward rotation while anchoring the top of the child seat
  • Click & Safe® Snug Harness Indicator is an audible aid that provides extra assurance when the harness is within range of appropriate snugness
  • Tangle-Free, Five-Point Harness distributes crash forces across the strongest parts of the body and provides a secure fit

britax advocate 70g3 safety features

I was especially impressed with the new HUGS Chest Pads.  T has a tendency to pull the chest clip down and remove the straps from his shoulders when he gets bored in the car.  This new feature would definitely prevent (or at least make it more difficult) to lower the chest clip.  I also definitely like the True Side Impact Protection that would provide extra protection if we ever got into a car accident.

One of the drawbacks of switching baby N to the Advocate 70-G3 is that I can’t simply unlatch the seat and carry him in it if he falls asleep.  I usually have to transfer him to his bassinet or the Moby Wrap if we are out and about and he usually wakes up.  This is more of an issue of an infant bucket seat vs. a convertible car seat however.

Another limitation is that the seat is pretty bulky and wide.  If you have a small car, this carseat might be a tight squeeze.  Traveling with the Advocate 70-G3 might be a bit cumbersome for airline travel.  In the past, we have used the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart to tote T and his car seat around the airport.  It’s always a bit tricky then installing a large convertible car seat into a tiny airplane seat.  I have not yet attempted it with this car seat, but I imagine it would also be a bit tight on certain airline carriers.  However, all of the great safety features greatly outweigh these drawbacks in my opinion.

Now it’s your chance to try the Britax Advocate 70-G3…enter this giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck and safe travels!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Safety matters when it comes to car seats. I want one that will protect my child. And Britax convertible car seats have so many safety features — and knowing that makes me feel like my child is safe while in the car. Click here to learn more about Britax safety features.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Britax. The opinions and text are 100% mine.

Introducing Baby N!

I’ve been a little quiet on the blogging front lately and just wanted to share why.  Baby N decided to grace us with his presence a week before his due date!  We’ve been happily adjusting to our new family of four over the past couple of weeks.  We don’t normally share photos of ourselves or our family on 2 Sisters 2 Cities, but like with Baby T, I wanted to share one snugly newborn photo.  This photo was taken the morning after he was born.

baby n

I think he looks pretty much just like his older brother did when he was born!  N is a chill little guy and his older brother has been really great with him (for the most part anyway.)

Hope you have a great Fourth of July weekend!  Just in case you were looking for any last minute recipes, here are ten 2S2C recipes perfect for your summer cookout:

  1. Herbed Potato Salad
  2. Homemade Hot Dog Buns
  3. Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
  4. Pistachio Ice Cream
  5. Salt Potatoes
  6. Greek Pasta Salad
  7. Baked Beans
  8. Buttermilk Biscuits (for Strawberry Shortcake)
  9. Fourth of July luncheon menu
  10. 2012 Fourth of July round up

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Coffee and Caramel-Themed Gift Basket

June is such a busy month with the end of the school year, graduation parties, bridal & baby showers, and weddings.  I’m always racking my brain for creative gifts that would be appreciated and I came up with a coffee and caramel-themed gift basket.  While T doesn’t start school until September, I think this would make a great teacher gift for his future teachers next year (God bless their hearts already…they are going to have their hands full!)

I recently gave my little sister a “working girl” graduation present since she will be starting a real office job this summer.  I filled a clear acrylic tray with items that I have always found helpful to have at my work desk.  I brainstormed with K about our favorite cubicle essentials- we came up an iced coffee mug, Starbucks Via iced coffee packets, tissues, antibacterial hand gel, cleaning wipes, lip balm, Altoids, and a Charlie Ticket (which is used to pay for busses and subways in Boston.)  The tray I used to hold all the stuff wasn’t necessarily for work- I figured it would be fun to use as a serving tray while entertaining or organize small household items, such as make-up or stationery.

I was recently asked by International Delight to come up with a craft project using an International Delight creamer bottle.  Since a creamer bottle snowman isn’t very seasonal for this time of year (seriously, Google it- there are a lot of creamer bottle snowmen out there,) I decided to come up with a coffee and caramel-themed gift to give to teachers for the end of the school year.  I picked the caramel part of the theme because my favorite International Delight creamer is the Caramel Macchiato flavor.

coffee and caramel‐themed gift tray

I included the following in my themed gift tray:

  • A bottle of International Delight Caramel Macchiato creamer
  • A large bag of Starbucks coffee beans
  • Copco iced coffee cup (I love this cup so much…I just bought a second one since I use my first one so much.  I usually fill it with water or decaf iced tea since I’m still pregnant, but I plan on filling them with large quantities of iced coffee in a few weeks once this baby is born!)
  • Starbucks Via iced coffee packets
  • Fleur de Sel caramels from Trader Joe’s (regular caramels would work as well, but these are extra special!)
  • Caramel Layerer Brownies while I was pulling this gift tray together.)
  • A special thank you note

If this is above your gift budget, it could easily be simplified to just an iced coffee cup filled with iced coffee packets, caramels, and an ice-cold bottle of I.D. Caramel Macchiato Creamer.

coffee and caramel‐themed teacher gift

You could also mix the gift theme up a bit if you knew the recipient preferred a certain flavor.  Just swap out the Caramel Macchiato creamer and Fleur de Sel caramels for any of these combinations:

  • French Vanilla International Delight with a packet of vanilla beans and a recipe for your favorite vanilla bean ice cream
  • Southern Butter Pecan International Delight with a batch of Mini Pecan Pie Bites
  • Hershey’s S’mores International Delight with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and wooden skewers
  • York Peppermint Patty International Delight with a big bag of Peppermint Patties
  • Cinnabon International Delight with a Cinnabon gift card

Tie it up with some ribbon matching the school colors.  Your gift recipient will be able to kick off their summer and enjoy their caffeine fix with some special treats!

What’s Your ID? International Delight is looking for their most passionate flavor fans. Put your ID on the map to enter to win a Magical Trip, play games and discover more unexpected delight. Share your ID flavor at http://whatsyourid.com.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

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DIY Baby Closet Dividers

DIY Baby Closet Dividers {from 2 Sisters 2 Cities}

I’ve mentioned in a lot of my last posts that I have been busy nesting and getting ready for baby #2′s arrival.  This time around, I realize that the nursery does not need to be finished by the time the baby comes since he will be in a bassinet next to our bed most nights, but time will likely be a rare commodity with two little munchkins.  I’m trying to get as many things done ahead of time with just T around.

I wanted to share one of the latest baby projects that I just finished- DIY baby closet dividers.  These baby closet dividers are all the rage on etsy and I was originally going to just buy some.  I realized they would be fairly easy to make myself however so I decided to give it a try.  I had a few rolls of gray chevron contact paper that I picked up at Marshall’s a few months ago and I had put them aside for any projects that might come up.  I decided this paper would be perfect for making my own baby closet dividers.  {Side note: I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this in a past post, I decided to decorate this baby’s nursery in dark gray, bright green, and white.  Check out this post for a peek at baby T’s airplane-themed nursery that I did a few years ago.}

DIY Baby Closet Dividers

Materials

Materials for DIY Baby Closet Dividers

  • empty cereal, cracker, or snack cardboard boxes
  • large circle trace (I used a plastic take-out container)
  • small circle trace (I used a spice jar)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • decorative contact paper
  • stickers or labels

Instructions

DIY Baby Closet Dividers {from 2 Sisters 2 Cities}

  1. Use the scissors to cut two large squares out of the decorative contact paper (make sure the squares are larger than the large circle trace you plan on using.)
  2. Remove the backing from the contact paper and place on both sides of a flat piece of cardboard.  The squares should match up so that when you cut a circle out of the cardboard, the contact paper will fully cover the circle on both sides.
  3. Using a pencil and large circle trace, trace a circle on one side of the square contact paper.  Then, using the small circle trace, trace a small circle in the middle of the large circle that you just traced.
  4. With your scissors, follow the large circle trace and cut the large circle from the piece of cardboard.  Then, cut two small even slits to cut out the small circle trace from the center.  Neaten any edges so that both circles appear even and smooth.
  5. Repeat this process 5-8 times depending on how many baby closet dividers you want to make.  (I made six of them since I will likely be storing away the baby clothes once the baby grows out of them.  I will then change the sticker out on the divider for a larger clothes size.)
  6. Label 6-9 stickers with common baby clothes sizes: newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-18 months, 18-24 months, 2T, 3T, and 4T.  Apply sticker or label to top of clothes dividers.
  7. Hang in closet and organize baby’s clothes by size!

Baby Closet Dividers {from 2 Sisters 2 Cities}

I love how this project turned out!  Plus, I love being able to look at that first newborn onesie every time I open the closet door- I can never get over how little and cute newborn clothes are.  It barely even fits on the mini hanger!

T never had a closet in our city condo since the closet in his nursery served as my husband’s main closet.  I used a lot of baskets to divide his clothes by size and type and stored them on a bookshelf.  While that system worked well, I really like having everything organized and hanging in a closet this time around.  It’s much easier to visualize what I have by size with everything in sight.  I still need to do a little more organizing once I move the dresser and changing table into this room, but it’s come a long way from the catch-all closet it used to be.

Baby Nursery Closet

Have you ever seen an idea on Etsy or a retail store that you decided to make yourself?

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