Transform a Dated End Table With Rustoleum’s Chalked Paint.

September 17, 2018
Chalk Paint DIY 2
If you follow me on Instagram, you know about the saga of the French table last week. In a nutshell, I had a few spare hours on my end and decided to knock out a little tiny DIY project as a sort of warm-up for all of the things I want to paint this fall.
The table had nice bones – solid wood, dove-tailed drawers, pretty French curvy legs, but the stain color was SO 90’s and it just looked boring and dated.
Chalk Paint DIY 11
A while back, I tried Rustoleum’s Chalked paint on a a larger piece, but I didn’t prep correctly and the end result was a little bit of a mess. I still lived with it for a while before selling it on our local flipped furniture Facebook page, but I got annoyed every time I walked by it. I wasn’t sure if it was the piece, the paint, or just my poor prepping, so I decided to give Rustoleum’s Chalked one more shot.
I laid a paint sheet down in the garage and cleaned the entire piece, inside and out, with warm water and dish soap (just a few drops!). I dried it thoroughly with a microfiber cloth to remove any residual dust. A quick reminder: when you are painting with latex paint, you’re painting with a water-based product, so any remaining water droplets aren’t necessarily problematic, although you want the piece mostly dry. 
Chalk Paint DIY 10
Rustoleum’s Chalked, like other chalk paints, doesn’t require sanding, so I took the directions’ word for it and started painting. (YELLOW LIGHT: I later wished I had primed. Keep reading to find out why.) The paint went on smoothly and easily. I loved working with it. The piece of furniture was pretty simple without a lot of complex edges or corners so the work went quickly.
I like chalk paint, but I did NOT want a shabby chic look – I wanted as smooth a look as possible. By painting with a sort of swooshy “w” or “x” pattern, I was able to prevent too much texture from showing up. I also slopped down a LOT more paint than it looked like I needed, and then sort of just pushed it around. This worked well for the look I wanted. Don’t skimp on chalk paint especially if you want to get a smooth texture. My favorite paintbrush to use is this Wooster short brush. I have washed and reused all of my Wooster brushes repeatedly and they continue to work well!
Back to the project – the paint dried extremely quickly, although like other chalk paints, it looked very messy.
Chalk Paint DIY 9
Chalk Paint DIY 8
After the first coat had dried, I used 220 grit sandpaper to sand the texture down. The texture felt amazing – so silky and soft! I added another coat – by this time the humidity was getting the best of me so I turned on a fan to speed things up.
While the paint was drying, I cleaned the hardware off with soap and water, dried it, and sprayed them quickly with gold spray paint. Admittedly, there is probably a more thorough way to do this – I should have probably cleaned them more carefully and primed them, but they came out gold and gorgeous. The drawer doesn’t get a ton of use anyway, so the wear on the handles will probably be just fine.
Chalk Paint DIY 7
Chalk Paint DIY 4
Once the second coat was dry, I sanded the table down yet again. The texture was absolute perfection and I was so so happy with the paint overall.
I think this is exactly what went wrong with the last piece also, but I’m a slow learner. I used Minwax Polycrylic in a clear matte, which many DIY bloggers swear by. BUT. The problem with the polycrylic is if you don’t have a stain-blocking primer underneath the chalk paint, the polycrylic can actually pull the stain through the chalk paint. It creates this weird streaky look and it is definitely not cute. 
Chalk Paint DIY 5
Mere minutes after I applied the polycrylic, I saw orange streaks appearing all over my perfectly white table. This had happened before and I knew exactly what was going on – slow learner that I was, I completely forgot that the stain had bled through on the last piece after the polycrylic application. I decided to wait overnight to let everything dry and settle out before trying to fix anything.
The next day, the damage was complete – the table didn’t look horrible, but there were large orange streaks over 3 of the sides and the top. I knew the table would just annoy me if I didn’t take the time to fix the issue and paint it correctly and I was determined to figure out how to make the paint, which I was in love with by now, work for me. 
So I took some more 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the entire thing again. It only took a few minutes and the orange streaks mostly disappeared with the sanding. Then I applied a coat of Zinsser primer (I had a different kind of Zinsser primer already opened, so I just used that, but if you don’t already have some open, this is a good option). Wherever there was obvious stain “leakage”, I applied the primer on THICK. Once the primer had dried, the streaks were gone.
Chalk Paint DIY 6
Finally, I applied another coat of the Chalked. Voila! The table was once again a beautiful white. 
I sanded it lightly AGAIN and applied Rustoleum’s Chalked Matte Clear Protective Topcoat (available on Amazon, so I didn’t even have to run out to Home Depot, hooray!).
Chalk Paint DIY 3
I let the top-coat dry and applied a second layer of topcoat to the top and top edges of the table. AND DONE.
I’m thrilled with the texture of the Chalked line and the Linen White color and mostly, I’m thrilled that I transformed a dated table in just a few hours into a lovely piece we can treasure for years without spending a lot of money.
Chalk Paint DIY 1
Ready to transform a piece? Do this project yourself. You will need the following supplies:

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Happy Morning | A Playlist for A Good Day with Little Ones

June 19, 2018

Happy Morning Kid Playlist

Sometimes it’s hard to get the day started off on the right foot, especially as a stay-at-home or work-at-home mom if there is not external driver of the schedule or routine. This can happen especially in summer, when older kids that may not always be home wake up groggy from a late night or when everyone is just dragging.

If you have that kiddo (or several) that have a hard time getting going or wake up whiny or sulky regularly, the morning can be a rough time. Turning around the day quickly is essential, but it can be HARD to get everyone back on track.

One of my tricks for this is our “Happy Morning” playlist. It’s a Spotify playlist of songs I’ve compiled that almost unfailingly get my little ones dancing and singing and put all of us in a better mood within minutes. Yes, I know there’s a lot of Elizabeth Mitchell – her voice and the pace of the music (and the classic folk tunes!) are just perfect for my little ones right now so we listen to A LOT of her music.

Here’s a playlist guaranteed to turn your morning around:

The links direct you to the Amazon downloadable versions, but you can simply follow the playlist on Spotify by clicking the link below as well or following me (emilyamccord). You can also sign up for a free trial of Amazon Music and have unlimited access to all of the songs for free during that time.  

spotify playlist toddlers


Want to save this for later? Pin the image below.

Playlist for Happy Toddler Mornings


Live creatively,


p.s. If you love social media (it’s ok! I love it too! Sooo much inspiration, right?), you should totally follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. And because I blog to connect, anytime that you have ideas, questions, or just want to connect about food, books, parenting, time management, working from home – WHATEVER,send an email to emily AT theorangeslate DOT com. 

p.p.s. I try post varied content 1-2 times a week; I am in the middle of re-hashing some older parts of this blog and creating subscriber-exclusive printables, guides, and templates, so be sure to sign up and get all the posts and updates, straight in your inbox! 

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Save Money on these 7 Large Purchases with Ebates.

May 20, 2018
7 areas to save money using Ebates
I’ve never really successfully used coupons at all. I’m all about saving money, but I’ve never been able to coordinate the coupons and my purchasing habits.
We’ve managed to cut down our grocery budget quite a bit by meal-planning diligently, but that’s about the only area where I’ve successfully and consistently saved money without simply refraining from purchasing. 
But recently a friend reminded of Ebates (Ebates?? Is it still around? I totally remember my mom and her friends using Ebates when I was in high-school.). I don’t shop a ton generally, but when I do, it’s mostly online and we were getting ready to make some bigger purchases (summer wardrobes, home remodeling purchases, a few baby things, a bed), so I figured trying it out certainly couldn’t hurt.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much Ebates has already returned to my pocket (I refrain from using “saved” since it’s not really saved money if you are spending, in my opinion). We were in the market for a mattress and using Ebates returned a nice chunk of the money to us. 
Mostly, I was surprised as I began to explore the retailers and realized HOW MANY of them offered cash back through Ebates. Furniture stores. Amazon. Travel companies. So many stores where customers can easily drop thousands of dollars offered substantial cash back rewards through Ebates.
It’s hard to get super excited about saving a few dollars here and there on clothes, but when you start to save a lot on larger items, it starts to get fun. 
So I’ve compiled a quick list of common purchases with larger price tags that you definitely should not make before you’ve activated your Ebates account.  
Herb Garden patio
1. Hardware and Appliances. It’s a DIY world out there. But seriously, we are doing lots of smaller remodeling touches on our house and they add up! Our biggest budget line item next to groceries is Home Depot. We’re in the middle of painting the interior of our house and once we’re finished, I’m planning to replace all of the dated gold lever door handles with something a little more classic. But a house has a lot of doorknobs! Those kinds of costs can stack up very quickly.
Ordering hardware online (either to the house or to the store) will save you from chasing down inventory and normally provides you with a wider array of options. Right now, Lowe’s, TrueValue, and Ace Hardware all offer cash back through Ebates (although Home Depot does not, but I’m not particularly loyal.). Appliances are an even larger purchase – ordering your fridge or dryer online through Lowe’s after activating your Ebates account could save you quite a bit!
2. Mattresses. This is one of those big stressful purchases you only make a few times (hopefully). But we were in the market for a new mattress. The online retailers that I researched beat the big-box mattress store competition far and away, as far as I researched. We pulled the trigger on a Saatva, but most of the online retailer mattress companies offered some kind of option through Ebates, either through a store like Lowe’s, or on their own.  When you’re making a purchase of several thousand dollars, percentage points back add up.
3. Travel (Airline Tickets and Car Rentals) – Most of the major online booking portals offer cash back through Ebates. Airplane tickets, car rentals, hotels – these purchases can be large, so getting some of that money back makes booking travel even more fun. 
4. Cosmetics – Sephora carries most major makeup brands, so if you’re a “tried and true” kind of girl and know what you will be wearing, just order your makeup through Sephora after activating your Ebates button instead of heading to the mall. You’ll save time AND get 4% cashback.
5. Etsy – Etsy offers cashback through Ebates, so if you’re shopping for home accessories, wedding or party props, or more expensive decor items, the cashback available through Ebates will totally be worth the few minutes of setup.
6. Electronics – Summer is the time when many people replace computers and tech equipment. Best Buy, Amazon, Dell, and Apple all offer cashback on purchases made through Ebates. If you’re buying an expensive screen or laptop, this can knock quite a bit off of the purchase price of a new gadget!
7. Furniture/ Home Items – Joss and Main, Wayfair, Overstock, and Amazon can be great sources for furniture and larger home items. Ebates has cash-back options for several of these online retailers and others so be sure to activate your Ebates account before shopping for major items like a new couch. Between the sales that these retailers often run, the already reduced costs, and Ebates, you could literally score a designer or investment piece brand-new for the cost of a Craigslist find or a piece from Ikea.
Use this link and sign up for an Ebates account to try it out. There’s no catch – you simply confirm your account and follow the instructions to install the button on your browser. 
Did I miss some fantastic area where you can save on Ebates? Fill me in in the comments!

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13 Tasks to Minimize Stress and Maximize Fun with Kids This Summer.

May 8, 2018
13 Things to minimize summer stress with kids.

Summertime is almost here! The weather is warming up, school activities are winding down, and I’m over here making a list of all of the splash pads in our area.


For a lot of households, summer is a time of extra bustle. For organized moms who rely on schedules and organization and routine for their sanity, this can add a lot of stress. Suddenly, the daily routine “survival mode” isn’t necessary. Kids are home for much longer hours and are busier around the house, which means that clutter and household activity adds up. Normal schedules are thrown out the window, which can create extra feelings of chaos. 



My little ones aren’t in preschool or school, so we don’t have quite the same sense of schedule loss, but I still like to hit a “reset” button of sorts each season as we adjust to whatever transitions that season brings. In the summer, bedtimes just naturally get a little later around here because of all of the time we spend at the pool in the late afternoon and early evening; we tend to spend a lot less time at home; and this summer, the biggest transition will come in July when we add another little guy to the mix. So school schedule or no school schedule, I’m over here trying to make sure things run as smoothly as possible and that projects get taken care of early in the summer to maximize our time together as a family of four before Baby and to help ease the transition once he arrives. 



There are a couple of quick actions that we can all take to prepare our homes for the extra busy of summer and make space to prioritize fun, the extra time with family and friends, and actually enjoy the “break” of summer.




Guarantee a Fun Summer with Kids


1. Make sure your kitchen counters are clear of clutter and rarely used appliances. (Inspiration 1, 2)
2. Clean and organize your fridge and pantry. (Tutorial 1, 2Inspiration)
3. Organize an attractive “drop” space for when you come in from activities, work, or errands. (How-To | Inspiration)
4. Prioritize certain household chores (and let go of the rest!). I have always prioritized cleaning our house and have tried all sorts of systems and schedules and tools in the past (some of which I’ve shared here before), but I also read Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours recently and was really convicted by some of her comments about time management and household care. So I’m working, especially in this busy season, to re-think my approach to housekeeping, to take care of the really important stuff and learn to let certain things just go. For me, the priorities right now include keeping the kitchen clean, vaccuming and steaming floors regularly, making beds daily, a daily playroom pickup, and making bathrooms presentable. Deep cleaning is just not happening regularly right now and probably won’t and that’s ok. Pick your summer battles, set some goals, and focus on those. 
5. Pull every item out of your closet and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit. Store items that are out of season or stage, either because of weather or pregnancy/nursing or some other transition. This will take a couple of hours, but I promise it will be so worth it. 


6. Set up a meal rotation for the summer months. (Tutorial 1, 2 | Inspiration)

7. Start tracking your spending using an app like Mint. We have used this app for years and love it. One super helpful feature allows the same info to be visible on both of our phones, so that we effectively have a household dashboard of finances. 

8. Set up an Amazon Subscribe and Save account for recurring household purchases. You can save quite a lot, especially if you’re not already a member of Costco or Sams, by order basics like paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies from Amazon. 

9. Donate all of the linens in your house that aren’t in use, are too old, are worn out, or are just clogging closet space. You can donate them all sorts of places, including animal shelters. (When we get rid of towels or linens that are worn out, I tell Miles that we’re giving them to a puppy and he loves this. It’s really funny to hear him talk about it, especially to Violet.)

10. Dedicate one drawer for each child as their summer capsule wardrobe. Only put items in here that fit right now and are weather-appropriate.  You don’t have to clean out every single drawer and closet to make this work. Just empty a drawer, and then only fill it with usable pieces. It’s like the capsule wardrobe in reverse. I recommend sticking to what you already own first, but once you decide on the “fill-in” pieces you need to purchase, Primary.com has wonderful options for high-quality, ethically produced, basic pieces that wash and mix and match easily. (Inspiration 1, 2, 3)

11. Make your bed every day. Seriously. Right when you wake up. This alone will completely change your outlook and state of mind. It’s been researched and recommended over and over again.

12. Do one load of laundry every day (from beginning to end- wash, dry, fold, put away). (Inspiration 1)

13. Make one “to-do” pile in a basket or bin in your house for EVERYTHING that you want to do – household projects, items to be mailed, thank you notes, files, whatever. Tackle one item in here each day.

Want to stay inspired this summer? Sign up for “Over My French Press,” my occasional note to you packed full of tips, resources, and inspiration designed to make your mornings a little brighter, your weeks more fueled, and your home more restful. 

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DIY Home Updates: Our Patio

April 23, 2018
DIY Patio upgrade
 DIY suburban patio 9 DIY suburban patio 8       
We’ve done a number of small renovations and updates to our home since moving in two years ago. Nothing huge (no major kitchen overhauls here!), but in a world of magical Pinterest transformations that cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, there is something very inspiring about knowing how transformed a “boring” house can be with just a few simple changes.
I’ve posted about how I painted the cabinets in our kitchen and if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably seen the beginnings of some other painting projects. But our most expensive, largest, and possibly most practically useful remodel project so far has been our patio. It wasn’t technically a DIY, but we executed the planning and the design and had time/health allowed, this was definitely a project that was doable without the help of a contractor.
Here’s what happened. 
We have a backyard that is pretty spacious and great for rowdy little kiddos, but there are no trees or landscaping and SO THERE IS NO SHADE. Now, as soon as it gets even mildly hot here in Texas (April?), a little bit of shade makes a huge difference. We had a little square of patio right outside the backdoor where the grill sits, but it was sort of meh and the size made it hard to put any really comfortable seating on it without getting too close to the grill or blocking traffic.
DIY suburban patio 2
We also had this side yard that was always shady, except for about two hours in the middle of the day. Even during the worst part of summer, it was always sort of damp and sticky because of the shade. The bugs were busy in that part of the yard, so the kids generally avoided it and the grass never grew very well there. So that shadiest part of our yard was essentially unusable.
Early on, when we were trying to figure out how to give our backyard a little more personality, I realized that the area was ideal for a patio. The shade was already built-in and it was sort of wasted space as far as playing and lawn went. So I began to research options. Unfortunately, we live in the land of construction and all of the options seemed like overkill. Contractors wanted to charge me anywhere from $3000 to $8000 to lay a full foundation and install expensive stonework.
That seemed overly ambitious for a project that I was pretty sure, given a long weekend, Mark and I could probably knock out ourselves. I just wanted a super simple look and we weren’t really planning to spend a lot of money on a bit remodel. 
Then, somehow, I magically found a contractor who understood what I wanted. He told me he could lay some sand down easily, level the area, and just put in basic cement pavers (which was necessary anyway given our local soil, which basically dooms concrete slabs to cracking). His quote was immensely reasonable for the work and supplies. 
He and his team went to work and a few days later, my patio was done! 
DIY suburban patio 10
DIY suburban patio 6
DIY suburban patio 1
Now, as everyone knows, the floor of a patio is just half of the project. Now I had a blank slab of concrete with a lot of potential, but patio furniture can get expensive quickly! I knew we needed some furniture for both relaxing and for eating (we LOVE eating outside when the weather is nice), but I didn’t want to spend a small fortune.
Fortunately, as I soon discovered, one of the most frequently dumped items at garage sales is patio furniture! I scored two enormous plant urns (which could each have run almost $100 each) and an outdoor loveseat for $110. 
I already had a bench that I had planned to paint and I found two more chairs for sale on our local Next Door page. An unused dining room table, also listed on Next Door, a few random terra cotta pots, some cushions, and some twinkle lights. Viola!
DIY suburban patio 5
Because we installed the patio in the early fall and I didn’t finish really collecting my furniture until almost winter, we haven’t really gotten a chance to use the patio in its completed glory until the past few weeks. But I planted some flower, palms, and herbs once the weather allowed and the area is perfect – exactly what I was hoping for. It feels comfortable and durable, but grown-up and just a little dressy too in a way that I know the rest of the yard probably will never be as long as we have young children.
We’ve already enjoyed so many hours out here and I’m looking forward to months of warm weather and long evenings. 
DIY suburban patio 7
DIY suburban patio 4
DIY suburban patio 3
I’ll list sources for items similar to those on my patio below shortly. Just go ahead and Pin this post if you’re interested in the sources. 
Here’s what I want to know though – if you could change or add one thing to your yard, what would it be? Do you already have the perfect patio but no lawn? Maybe you’re in an apartment with just a tiny balcony? Or your lawn is just boring? I realized, when researching this article, how much potential each of our yards have – I’d love to hear about yours – angst or success!

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How I Painted My Boring Oak Kitchen Cabinets White.

August 22, 2017

How to paint oak cabinets white.

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate  


I recently painted the slightly dated, builder-grade oak cabinets in our kitchen white. This was by far the largest DIY project I’ve ever taken on and it was a ton of work but it was worth every single bit of effort.

Overall, the project took me around 50 hours. In my kitchen, I have 10 double-door cabinet “sets”, a singleton, and an island. (See? I’m so green – I don’t even know what those cabinet “sets” are called! If I can do this, you totally can.) 

This is not really a full set of DIY instructions for this project. There are SO many great posts at there that already provide detailed instructions for this project. Instead, I’ve just provided a brief overview of my process, my supplies, and some tips I garnered along the way. At the end, I’ve provided a list of posts that were invaluable to me and provide great tips and tutorials. 

If I did this project again and applied some of the lessons I learned along the way, I could definitely shave off 30% of the time.

Here are a couple of things you should know about my process and end result:

  • I did not remove my cabinet doors to paint, but painted everything in place.
  • I did not paint the inside of the cabinets. I did, however, paint the inside of the doors and drawer lips. 
  • I did not cover the inside of the cabinet doors with the same care that I painted the outside. I just wanted to make sure that when someone opened a cabinet, the color wasn’t dramatically different. If you look carefully, you can see some spots I could have covered more thoroughly. 
  • I did not sand everything by a long shot, but I did “spot sand”. If there was a particularly difficult piece of grime, wood that was splintering, or varnish that looked less worn (and thus less absorbent) than other spots, I would give it a quick sand. I did not sand thoroughly between coats but I did sand a bit more in between coats, especially if I had drip marks. 
  • Although I did not remove the doors, I did pull out drawers as I painted.  I just set the drawers on the counter (on painting paper). This made both the inside and outside of the drawers and the frame of the cabinet much easier to paint.
  • For corners and edges that were really difficult to reach with my large paintbrush (you’d be surprised how many of these I found in a pretty straightforward, vanilla kitchen!), I just used a tiny crafting sponge to press some paint into place. A tiny paintbrush would have worked equally well (better, probably!), in retrospect.
  • The representative at the Benjamin Moore store and all of the tutorials that I read emphasized “thin” coats. While this is true, I think I took this too literally. The paint I used was supposed to cover in 2 coats and it definitely took at least 3 for me (with a bit of patching afterwards). If my coats had been just slightly thicker, I think the end result would have been a bit smoother and I would have achieved it much faster. This is probably especially important to keep in mind for that curved decorative area on the front of the doors, where I really struggled with consistent coverage.
  • Since I didn’t paint everything all at once and because of the process I used to paint each door, I lost track a couple of times of which cabinet doors were in what stage. If I did this again, I would use sticky notes (maybe color-coded?) or a more methodical system.
  • I still have two false drawer fronts disconnected – the ridiculous snaps holding them into place both broke at the very beginning of the project. They are a HEWUUUUGE pain to reinstall and totally not worth the effort because THEY ARE FALSE DRAWER FRONTS. So I need to get some really fine screws and some caulk and patch it all up still. Can you find the picture that shows the holes in the cabinet?;-)
How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
Halfway through – SUCH A DISASTER! But I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
Real Life! The kitchen was SUCH a disaster during this project. Also, word to the wise: do NOT climb on top of the refrigerator without another adult around.

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

How I chose my paint

I used a “bonding” primer (just Behr from Home Depot that I had in the garage) which is supposed to help with surfaces that are already finished and, most importantly, surfaces that haven’t been thoroughly sanded. I highly recommend using this rather than a regular primer if you don’t plan to sand completely. 

I used Benjamin Moore Advance paint which is specifically designed for cabinets. Regular wall paint in high-gloss would probably work, but I knew my painting project was going to be time-consuming and I wanted it to last. Forever, ideally. The paint was a pleasure to use – it was thick and applied easily and little ridges and bumps disappeared as the paint dried. It was also fast-drying. 

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
The original “before” – closing day!
How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
Oooooohhhh the oak!

How I chose the shade of white for my cabinets

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Cotton Balls white paint for my cabinets. Deciding on a white took me FOREVER. Maria Killam and Laurel Bern will never know it, but their posts were so so helpful. I scoured everything they had on choosing a color and white and light and learned all sorts of interesting things about colors and paint. 

I also plugged my paint color into Google images to see shots of rooms that used the paint. For instance, I typed in “Kitchen cabinets Cotton balls Benjamin Moore” and then just scrolled until I found a few images that showed me examples. 

Cotton Balls is, for me and this kitchen, the perfect perfect white. I’m so happy with it. The oh-so-popular Simply White was too cold for our house and our kitchen faces north so I felt like it was going to look green on me. And I wanted to avoid anything that looked even slightly beige-y. My house is already so beige/warm cream and I wanted to cool it down. Cotton Balls feels JUST WHITE, not grey or cream, but it seems like every-so-slightly warmer than some of the other whites I considered. Not yellow-er, just deeper. Or something.

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
That top row is just primed. That’s what the in-between coats looked like!

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate
I spy missing false drawer fronts!


As I said, I didn’t paint everything at once. I started on the island, because I had no idea what I was doing. I figured that if I screwed up completely, the island could look different than the rest of the kitchen and it wouldn’t be a disaster. As time and paint that needed to be used up in my tray corresponded, I moved to the other sections. 

I’d suggest that you determine your painting sequence at the beginning and start at the smallest section. That way, you won’t get completely overwhelmed at the beginning. 

Cleaning – First, I cleaned every surface that was going to be painted thoroughly. These cabinets are 16 years old and, after cleaning them, I very much doubt they have ever really been scrubbed. Regardless, the kitchen is a pretty filthy place and cabinets don’t often get cleaned as frequently as they should. This step is the one on I was most diligent. You can re-sand and repaint, but none of the paint will adhere properly if the surface isn’t clean.

To clean, first I scrubbed with a bit of dish soap and warm water and a cloth and dried (avoid letting the moisture really soak in. Then I went back over the surface with a mixture of 1 part vinegar, 1 part water that I heated. (Simply microwave 1 cup water and 1 cup vinegar for 3 minutes.) I scrubbed with this mixture with the steel wool side of my sponge. This accomplished two things: 

  • The hot vinegar mixture REALLY tackled grime, dust build-up, gross sticky residue, and helped wear away a bit more of the varnish (thus providing a little bit of sanding effect).
  • The steel wool provided a bit more texturing of the surface. If I did it again, I would have used the steel wool for the soap cleaning step as well.

Ultimately, I painted with 1 coat of primer and 3 coats of cabinet paint. As I mentioned before, had my primer coat and my first two cabinet coats been more thorough, I think I could have saved myself an entire coat. PRIME THOROUGHLY. I allowed each coat to dry for at least 24 hours in between (although some coats sat there for much longer because of what my schedule allowed).

After a great deal of trial and error, here’s the basic painting sequence that I found most efficient for each coat of paint.

  1. I painted all of the edges that were hard to reach once the doors are open, especially paying attention to the outside side edges of the door on the hinge-side. (These becomes extremely hard to reach once the doors are open.)
  2. While those edges dried, I opened the doors and painted all of the frame. Most of these edges wouldn’t be reached well with a roller. This included flat edges on the hinge-side of each door, around the top and bottom corners, and normally the top lip as well. 
  3. Then I painted the inside, first covering the large flat areas with a roller and then edging whatever didn’t get full coverage with the brush.
  4. The outside of my cabinets has a little trough area – many builder-grade cabinets do. This is what I tackled next, with a brush. This area proved particularly difficult to cover thoroughly, fyi. Pay special attention to the thickness of your coverage here as well as drip marks.
  5. Then I painted the flat edges and the main panel of the outside of each door. 
  6. Of course, I didn’t forget to tackle the trip, the crown molding, the side panels, the bottom panels of the cabinets, and any remaining random edges.
  7. I allowed each complete coat to dry for 18-24 hours before adding another coat. I let cupboards and drawers sit open for 10-12 hours before shutting them.

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate


I switched back and forth between rollers and paintbrushes. I still can’t decide which was more effective. The roller coverage was much faster but it definitely left some weird little air pockets and the final texture wasn’t as smooth as the paintbrush coverage, but the drip marks were fewer. Play around with both and see which you like. In the end, here’s what I used:

  • Behr Bonding Primer from Home Depot
  • Benjamin Moore Advance Cabinet Paint in Cotton Ball White
  • Wooster paintbrushes (I was told that Wooster is actually preferable in some cases to Purdy and they are MUCH less expensive. I loved them.)
  • Dynamic roller brushes – I tried different kinds and naps. I ended up using one for the primer and first coats and a different one for the later coats. Try them out on the inside of the cabinet doors until you figure out what you like. 
  • Paint trays
  • Butcher block paper – I used paper drop cloths from Home Depot but this would work too.
  • I didn’t cover anything in plastic, but in the end, I sort of regretted not properly prepping. I still have little spray marks I’m scraping off from my counters and floors. Covering the counters and floors with this in advance would have been easy and saved me a lot of time (and would be totally necessary if you have dark floors or counters and don’t want a disaster). 
  • A little craft sponge.
  • Hardware – I found mine from Home Depot but I loved the selection on Wayfair as well.
  • A paint spout. 
  • Rags
  • Rubber gloves –  wore gloves for every step of the process. It will totally save your hands during the cleaning process and keep you from constantly having paint marks on your hands during the painting process.

How to paint oak cabinets white | The Orange Slate

Other posts about painting cabinets white

  • I think this post by Dear Lillie was the one that really turned the tables for me. I thought “I can do this!”. She goes into great detail about two different approaches and how she repainted the cabinets in two different houses. (Also, I could just stare at her room re-dos all day anyway).
  • This post from Remodelaholic was one of three that basically sealed the deal for me. She does not remove the doors for painting and provided lots of specific instructions and tips. It’s worth noting that she used Benjamin Moore Advance paint that is specifically designed for cabinets, which is exactly what I used. 
  • Kate from HouseMixBlog provides the details about painting her bathroom cabinets here and her kitchen cabinets here. She does not remove the doors either, but does more a “cheat” paint job like I did. Her kitchen went from blah to sparkling white!
  • This post is also so helpful and her transformation is breathtaking. She uses the Benjamin Moore Advance paint as well. 
  • Made in a Day hired painters, but the transformation from oak to bright white is lovely. 
  • Jeanne Oliver writes about transforming her kitchen by painting her cabinets using Annie Sloan – I personally have so much peace of mind with the cabinet paint I chose. I feel like it will age well and I love knowing that, aside from cleaning, there is basically no maintenance. But if you’re into chalk paint, you’re into chalk paint. Regardless, her kitchen’s transformation is beautiful and there are some great tips.


Live creatively,


p.s. If you love social media (it’s ok! I love it too! Sooo much inspiration, right?), you should totally follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. And because I blog to connect, anytime that you have ideas, questions, or just want to connect about food, books, parenting, time management, working from home – WHATEVER,send an email to emily AT theorangeslate DOT com. 

p.p.s. I try post varied content 1-2 times a week; I am in the middle of re-hashing some older parts of this blog and creating subscriber-exclusive printables, guides, and templates, so be sure to sign up and get all the posts and updates, straight in your inbox! Sign up now!


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A Simple Cleaning Routine for Spring (and a free guide).

March 13, 2017

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simple cleaning routine 4


Keeping a home clean and tidy with two toddlers (or any amount of children of any age!) is not for the faint of heart. I have become frustrated on numerous occasions when I start to feel like a hamster on a wheel – moving from one room to the next cleaning just in time for new messes to spring up. I don’t think housekeeping is less challenging when one parent is home full-time, but my work-from-home schedule means that I have to be very thoughtful about what I am doing when, which has helped me to be disciplined about establishing a cleaning routine.

Our current routine seems to be working for now and has give me a lot of peace of mind. I have certain tasks defined for certain days, but a flow that makes it easy to move chores around if something unexpected arises. Also, if something falls completely through the cracks, I know it will get taken care of soon anyway. 

Spring seems like just the right time to start re-thinking through home systems that may not be working or may need a refresh, so I’ve outlined our home’s systems below to inspire you. I’ve also created a customizable guide for you to use – click here to access it (if you’re already subscribed, it will magically appear in your inbox tomorrow!).

Right now, I have a weekly schedule pinned in my kitchen that includes 3 lists:

  • Daily tasks (basic room maintenance, things like dishes and sweeping that should happen almost every day)
  • Days of the week with cleaning tasks for those days.
  • Monthly (or less frequent) tasks that need to be occasionally tackled, but don’t merit weekly attention.

Daily Tasks

Daily tasks include things like making the beds, doing a quick clean of the main sink/toilet area, cleaning the kitchen after meals, sweeping after dinner, etc. Every day I also make sure that I full wash, dry, and fold at least one load of laundry. Having a list of daily chores helps prevent total chaos from setting in and frees me from constantly wondering whether I should keep cleaningor if things can wait. If there are a couple of loads of laundry to be done, but I’ve already done one and things are busy, I can just mentally check that chore off until the next day, knowing that today and tomorrow I’ll keep working through the dirty.

simple cleaning routine 2

Weekly Tasks

I’ve done this system differently through the years. When we first got married, all of our cleaning would happen on one day. When we first moved into this house, I tried to “batch”, by vaccuuming one day, mopping another, tidying another – this system outlined below is the best one I’ve found for right now. I don’t feel like I’m constantly trying to keep up or catch up and if something gets missed, I just take care of it the next day and roll everything forward by one day. In general, following this little schedule has kept our house at my “happy level”* of clean without too much stress. It also takes into account our busy days, days I run certain errands, Mark’s schedule for certain days, etc. 

I separated our main, primarily used areas into Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday cleaning sessions and do all of the cleaning for each area on the designated day. On Monday for instance, I dust, vacuum, and steam** the living room. 

On Tuesdays, I meal-plan and order groceries (if I’m ordering that week) or I go to Costco with the kids in the afternoon.

I designated Wednesday as my paperwork/receipt/bills/whatever day and I pick up groceries if I’ve ordered.

Thursday is our biggest laundry day. I start early and no matter how much laundry is in there, I make sure that the room is empty by the end of the day with everything folded, dry, etc. I also take some time on Thursday to clean the washer and dryer bodies, dump out the trash can, and sweep and steam the laundry room.

On Friday, I change all of our sheets and knock out a few big occasional chores. I also take an opportunity to sweep up any rooms that may be collecting dirt or dust.

Over the weekend, I deep-clean our main bathroom and maybe do an extra sweep of major areas or an additional big monthly chore if there is time.

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Room Cleaning Routine

When I say I “clean” a room, I generally do the following:

  • Pick up and put away clutter
  • Use a cleaning cloth and damp water (or this oil soap on wood furniture) to quickly dust major open surfaces. 
  • I use this feather duster to dust shelves, nooks that have more “stuff” on them, lamps, gallery walls, etc. 
  • I use this duster to dust both sides of blinds, high corners, and floorboards as well as to quickly sweep beneath any furniture. 
  • I use my steamer to clean the floors (sweeping first if there are a lot of dust or dirt partcles).

This sounds like a lot, but all of the steps outlined above except the steaming take me no longer for any given room than 2 or 3 minutes. Steaming takes maybe 5 minutes for our largest room. 

Also, knowing exactly how I clean has allowed me to slim down the cleaning supplies I keep around to just a few basics, which the clutter-buster in me LOVES.

Ready for a guide? Here is  a free customizable planner to help you refresh your home’s cleaning routine.

So now I’d love to know – what is the most challenging part of keeping your home tidy for you? Or do you have a schedule that just magically works? Tell me below!

*This is different for every one and every stage. Some would probably be shocked at things I’ve left off or the infrequency of certain chores, others by how often I do certain things. This is just some encouragement to try systems until you find the one that works for you and your home. 

** For some, this would be mopping and not all rooms necessarily need to be mopped every week. But I absolutely swear by my Bissell Symphony steamer. The heat ensures that the floors are really deep-cleaned and it’s as quick as vacuuming. If a room is particularly dirty, I might sweep before running it. I used to get really frustrated by how long it took me to truly deep clean floors and how dirty they immediately got, but the steamer has changed this completely. It’s paid for itself so many times over – it’s honestly saved me dozens of hours by this point!

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10 Suggestions for Simplifying.

February 24, 2017



Simplifying is always on my mind – how can I make this less complicated? More streamlined? I want more time, less “to-do”, ya know? Minimalism is the hottest trend since pancakes, but I’ll never achieve true minimalism. And I don’t particularly want to. But I do want to continually ensure that our possessions are items that we actually need, use, and love, that we aren’t just storing stuff that we will never use. For me, it’s an issue of stewardship and of focus. 

If I have less, I have less to care for, organize, clean, and thus, more time to spend on the things that matter to me. I’m less distracted and I can simply enjoy our home and life more.

I’ve noticed though that sometimes I’m even over-complicating my pursuit of the simple. So I thought I would share a few practices in our home that I rely on consistently to keep things simple, keep us moving forward, keep us connected. Hope you enjoy! What are some practices you would add to this list?


Regularly shed clutter. 

“One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity.” – Marie Kondo

Scheduling an enormous spring-cleaning purge may be cathartic, but I’ve found that my heart and home benefit more from simple consistently shedding things. Do I keep passing up the same shirt in my closet? I toss it into the donation pile. Do my kids keep ignoring the same toy? I hide it to see if it will be missed and then donate it. The likelihood of deeply regretting this process is low; the repetition will improve the practice; slowly your home will become less filled with distracting piles of stuff you don’t use and never will and more filled with things that bring you joy and items you truly use.

Practice a routine. 

“We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale

A routine is not the same as a schedule. A routine helps eliminate the overwhelm of choice and gives your day momentum. For instance, almost every day, my morning looks like this:

Wake up. Make coffee. Drink a cup of coffee. Nurse Violet. Feed my kiddos breakfast. Get everyone (including myself) completely dressed and ready for the day. Make beds and clean up the kitchen and bathroom. Performing the same basic activities every morning helps to propel all of us into the day. Hesitation and listlessness seem to breed frustration and grumpy hearts while a sense of direction and purpose put all of us in a better mood. (I’ve written a breakdown of my “day in the life” before.)


Enjoy daily rituals. 

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin

A ritual can be part of a routine, but it is not the same thing. A ritual is something done regularly that fuels your heart, body, and or mind. Some of our family’s rituals include:

  • My cup of coffee in the morning
  • Snuggle time with our babies first thing in the morning.
  • Reading a short devotional together. 
  • Reading stories to my little ones before bedtime (this is a great way to introduce kiddos to Bible stories!). 
  • Summer evening walks after dinner.
  • Enjoying cups of tea together after our babies are in bed.

Rituals provide moments throughout the day for decompression, connection, and slowing down. I can be swamped with work and our schedule can be filled to the brim, but if a few of these rituals are scatted through my day , I still feel as if I have margin. Start by writing out a few of your favorite daily moments. These are probably your rituals, or some of them. Begin to prioritize them, to build your day around them, to use them as moments to connect with your loved ones. (Here are a few of mine!)

(A quick note on rituals and children: Kim John Payne has some wonderful suggestions for establishing rituals with children in his book, which I HIGHLY recommend!)

Reduce choices on things that don’t matter. 

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker

8 different kinds of mascara, five different brands of creamer, 5 breakfast options, 18 different pairs of pants – an abundance of choices isn’t necessarily beneficial. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. I’ve slowly begun the process of eliminating the quantity of choices I need to make every day. I have certain brands of makeup and personal care for me and my children that I know we like so I just stick to buying those when we *actually run out* rather than constantly trying out new products. For instance, we’ve begun offering limited choices for meals, especially breakfast, for both ourself and our kiddos and it has reduced the morning/meal craziness immensely. Menu-planning has helped me make grocery and meal choices once a week rather than having to make 12 different decisions afternoon at 4:00 p.m. (Do I go to the store? Do we go out? What do I cook? How long do I spend cooking? How old are those zucchini?) I’m trying to carry this over into the wardrobe department, but we’re still working on that. 

Bottom line? If you find yourself standing in the same place every week (or day!) trying to decide between the same options, start there. Commit to one small decision and eliminate the back-and-forth. Then do it again. It’s refreshing! 


Don’t fight your nature.

 “Define yourself as one radically loved by God. This is your true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” – Brennan Manning

I will never be the world’s greatest interior designer. It’s just not in me. I’m impatient and have a pretty short attention span when it comes to perfecting a room – I also get frustrated by the (pernicious?) message of consumerism that seem to subtly hide underneath the perfect “minimalist” rooms of my dreams. Most of our furniture (all?) is used or inherited; neither one of my children had a nursery designed before they were born.

Our furniture is meant for rowdy rough-and-tumble, for messes, for littles. The pieces we’ve purchased either can endure all of the above or I plan to replace them and so am not terribly attached. These things used to stress me out (“We will never have our gallery walls designed!” “My couches look dated!”) but I’m slowly learning that quickly perfecting a house is just not something that really interests me.

I’m slowly learning that the pressure I exert on myself to make a Pinterest-perfect house just isn’t worth it because it doesn’t bring me joy and it distract me from things that do (if it brings you joy, by all means, focus there!) Slowly editing our house to fit our lifestyle and actual needs (rather than a computer image – white is in! So is Danish!) as I have time and inspiration has brought me a great deal more joy and so I try to focus there. 

This is all to say – if Instagram and Pinterest tell you that it’s important, but you don’t wake up wanting to do it, THEN DON’T. You don’t need to grow indoor plants or weave or paint all of your rooms monochrome white to succeed at the things you are meant and called to do. 


Intentionally step away from screens.

“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu

I think we’ve all lectured ourselves on this a million times and anything I could say has been said better elsewhere. I’ll just leave it at this. The peace and joy in our household is almost perfectly proportionate to the discipline I have demonstrated about my devices that morning. My temperament, the behavior and focus of my little ones, my own ability to focus – it’s all related. We don’t all need to have our devices on and available every single second. Make time to just go outside without your phone. Spend time with your kids and be unavailable to the world. Do this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for at least a few minutes and you’ll begin to treasure time without your devices.  

Identify the things that are important to you. 

“You get more of what you notice and affirm.” – Michael Hyatt

On my list? Intentional time with kiddos. Reading. Reading aloud together. Reading by myself. Time together cooking and eating. Time remembering and recording our memories. Time writing. Getting to know my neighbors. Time with Mark. #notmoresocialmediafollowers If your “thing” is growing a virtual audience, go for it. But I recognized a while back that this was just not the area I was ever going to be particularly passionate about or good at. If I have blog readers, great. If some people like a picture I post, fun! But my livelihood and my children’s future is not tied to the time I spend on my screen. So I’ve tried to step away from Social Media more. I’m also never going to be a famous painter. 

“It” stuff – clothes, furniture (see above), shows. Being right on the edge of fill_in_the_blank trend just has never mattered a ton to me. So I don’t spend a lot of time on those things.

Also in this category? Activities with kids that *I don’t care about*. All of the moms in the world may be taking their kids to Wally-Wonder-Goo-Goo-Place on 5th street. If that is not your thing, let it go. My children have never been to the local Children’s Museum equivalent. Or the Trampoline Park. Or anything else remotely that cool. This is because I’m an unashamed germaphobe and we have ton of toys and I’m The Most Boring Mom on The Block. My children are under 3 and will never remember visiting these places. If my kids want to play with something different than our toys, we go outside. Or we go to a different park. This is just us.  Find your “you” and then shed the rest. 




Spend time outside. “The earth has music for those who listen.” – William Shakespeare

Off you go now. 

Meet your actual neighbors. 

“It will be our love, not our opinions, which will be our greatest contribution to this world.” – Bob Goff

Chances are, you live in a neighborhood. With actual other houses (not Pinterest ones!) with actual other people (not bloggers!). Make some bread or bake some cookies, and go ring a random doorbell. And then do it again. Amazing gifts start to come your way when you realize that friends are actually everywhere, not just on your phone or your moms’ group or church. (For more ideas on how to start making friends, check out this post.) The world begins to seem so much more full and simple and beautiful all at the same time when we stop over-complicating basic things like “do you have some butter I can borrow?” 

Maintain a basic neatness standard. 

“If you can’t find something, clean up.” – Gretchen Rubin

This is different for everyone. For me, this means that beds are made, bathrooms are presentable (sinks and toilets cleaned, trash removed), and the breakfast dishes cleaned. If you would be mortified if someone walked into your house, maybe it’s time to reassess (here’s a handy printable to help you get started). If you spend half of the day cleaning your house and can’t ever get anywhere before 11:00 a.m., maybe it’s also time to reassess (or see the first item in this list – maybe you just have too much stuff!). 

Hope these little tips help you on your journey towards simplifying and creating a home life that you love! 


Live creatively,


p.s. If you love social media (it’s ok! I love it too! Sooo much inspiration, right?), you should totally follow me on Instagram or Pinterest. And because I blog to connect, anytime that you have ideas, questions, or just want to connect about food, books, parenting, time management, working from home – WHATEVER,send an email to emily AT theorangeslate DOT com. 

p.p.s. I try post varied content 1-2 times a week; I am in the middle of re-hashing some older parts of this blog and creating subscriber-exclusive printables, guides, and templates, so be sure to sign up and get all the posts and updates, straight in your inbox! Sign up now!

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5 Things Being an Editor Taught Me About Absolutely Everything.

March 8, 2016

Editing and Life 

Sometimes the job of editing gets a bad rap. Editors are seen as the grouchy gatekeepers between creativity and results or the unnecessary frivolous expenditure at the very end of a project. But really? We are all editing all of the time. Some of us have just spent more time developing our editorial senses.

In recent years, there has been a pretty hefty attempt to put the word “curate” into common use. But really, most of the time, we are not “curating” – we are simply editing. Years of editing words has taught me how useful it is to look at all of my other activities through the eyes of an editor. It makes all sorts of difficult decisions easier.

Here are 5 key things that the role of editing has taught me about absolutely everything.



Editors know that behind every brilliant end result is a process – one that takes time and a lot of drafts, each with a different goal in mind. This is not a one-and-done game – there are very few of those in the real world. Whether the focus is a project proposal, a business plan, a book, a blog post, or a gallery wall, it’s going to require a lot of handling and re-handling – and normally more process means more time.


Editors know that it takes a team – a multitude of voices, to produce a strong result. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses; someone else will catch what you may have missed. Genius is rarely a one-man Super Bowl. Generally, in business and in life, a great result is achieved through a group of people supporting each other and contributing from their individual areas of strength.


Editors know that imperfections in a product aren’t personal – they’re just reality. Typos in a manuscript, overlooked expenses in a budget proposal, clothes from the last decade that have managed to hang on – these things happen. We don’t run from imperfect – we tackle it through a process and with a plan.

4. A PLAN.

Editors understand the importance of a clearly defined plan. Great results won’t come from staring at the same page (or screen or closet or canvas) the same way day after day. Define a plan. Move from the big picture to the small details. Give yourself space to clear your head between drafts. This procedure leads to the solution for most of life’s most pressing questions . (Don’t believe me? Try it.)


An editor is the ultimate clutter-buster. Not all of the paragraphs, adjectives, stories, clothes, ideas, strategies, shoes, or colors can stay. Editing is basically synonymous with throwing stuff out the window (head-nod to Marie Kondo). Editors know that something – in fact most things – must go. Out with the good to make room for the best.

Did I miss something? What would you add to this list?

Here’s a fun quote to Pin as a reminder:



Additional Related Reading:

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Lullabies That Aren’t – 14 Songs to Update Baby’s Playlist.

April 16, 2015

Lullabies that aren't playlist

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Baby Songs | The Orange Slate

Singing is such a special part of a baby’s life and development and bonding. Those early songs imprint us in a deep way that nothing else ever does, don’t you think? I can still remember the songs that my parents sang to me at a very early age.

For Miles, days involve a lot of singing and music. During the day, we sing and listen to lots of traditional lullabies and baby-playtime songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “The Muffin Man,” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!” (I also sing him The Alphabet Song every day because I was a (double) English major and am a little obsessed with early literacy.)

But then there are the not-so-traditional songs that aren’t really written for babies, but somehow belong to a mother or daddy and their young baby. (I grew up listening to Dedicated to the One I Love by Linda Ronstadt, an entire album of well-known rock hits interpreted as  lullabies).

Some lyrics just take on a whole new, beautiful meaning once you have a baby. Others are so soothing or sweet that they are like lullabies in disguise. I asked a couple of people with wide-ranging playlists to suggest some songs for this post.

Here’s 14 that we gathered:

The links direct you to the Amazon downloadable versions, but you can simply follow the playlist on Spotify by clicking the link below as well or following me (emilyamccord): 


Do you agree? What are your favorites? (Also, if you’re searching for a special baby gift, this playlist would make a fantastic surprise!)

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