Musings About Life... After Birth



Posted by Chelsea on June 03, 2010

Thanks for all of the comments and emails you’ve been sending me about my participation in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only. I promise, promise I will post pics once everything is in - no worries, y’all!

As I wait for the deliveries, the good folks at Membership Rewards have offered The Momtourage’s readers a chance to engage in their own version of home making-over: they’re giving me a $100 Crate and Barrel gift card to give away to one lucky reader! Wanna win one? Send me an email at and tell me what you’d use the gift card to purchase and why.

Good luck!

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Posted by Chelsea on May 28, 2010

So, we’ve cleared out our old bed and rug. The rug got tossed in the trash, and the bed, I sold on Craigslist, which the journalist in me now feels sorta yucky about because my husband says it essentially single-handedly ruined the newspaper business. Sorry, Professors Trimble and Lule from the Lehigh Univertily School of Journalism - I just wanted to unload my old bed! I’m thinking I’ll put the old night tables in my downstairs guest room. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Now our old mattress and box-spring are on the bedroom floor, white-trash style. The boys love the new set-up, as it makes for quite the trampoline/wresting ring. I think my husband is as into the idea as they are - for the exact same reasons.

In retrospect, this process was SUPER simple, not to mention really, really fun! Using American Express Membership Rewards Points to makeover my bedroom was a snap. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d be happy shopping solely at mall staple furniture stores like West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn. However, as I discussed yesterday with Momtourage member Alison, when I think about it, even if I wasn’t using store gift cards purchased with Rewards Points, that’s most likely where I would have shopped anyway, really. And sure, I could have used points to purchase an AmEx shop card, which is accepted anywhere AmEx is, but like I said, I probably would have taken said card right to PB anyway. Those stores just have great stuff, and their “look” - well, it’s what I and really, most folks my age, like. Guess there’s a reason they do so well. 

And cashing in the points to get gift cards - a total no-brainer. and the points redemption process were really easy to navigate. I’m not just saying that; really, if the experience was negative, I’d surely write about it, but it wasn’t. At all. And perhaps it’s because I redeemed a lot of points in the last two weeks (100,000 and 150,000, respectively), the standard seven business days wait time was upgrade for free to a three-day wait. Who doesn’t feel honored and valued when offered a free upgrade?

So thanks, Amex and Membership Rewards! I had a blast with this challenge. Again, I’ll post pics when all is delivered and made over. Next week, they’ve provided me with a GREAT giveaway for all of you, just so you can do the same with a room in your house! More details on that later….ya’ll are in for a real treat! 

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Posted by Chelsea on May 26, 2010

Here’s the most recent update in my adventures participating in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only:

So you know how I said I needed a place to put all of my clothes? Scratch that. Storage is highly overrated. What I really need is a new bed and new night tables! The ones I have just arent right for my room. Well, at least that what I realized when I saw this stuff (that’s clearly soooo much better!) over the weekend:

Inspired by these super-cool mirrored night tables I saw in an InStyle magazine spread on Ashley Tisdale’s home (I know, I know…LAME), I am presently in love with these from Pottery Barn. They’re catalog/web only, but I saw a set in the store that someone was returning because they were damaged and realized I had to get them. Fortunately, my second round of 100,000 membership rewards points would cover them, as I could use them to purchase $1000 worth of PB gift cards (as I did to buy the rug). Once tax, shipping and handling was added in, I’d be right at $1000.

Park Mirrored Bedside Table, $399 each

And, of course, to go with those new night tables, I need a new bed. Honestly, the one we had never really worked in our room - it was way too big for the small space, and like all of the other furniture in the room, it was dark wood, and I wanted something in that room to be “lighter” looking. I’d always thought an upholstered bed might be nice, but nothing that was too frou-frou-ish. I’m thinking clean, modern, yet still “pretty”. When I was at C&B over the weekend, I saw this bed, which I LOVED:


Crate and Barrel Colette Bed, $1599-1799

I’ve got 150,000 points to work with this week, which normally wouldn’t quite cover the cost of this, but I asked the salesperson at C&B if they had any floor samples or if they were running any specials and she told me that they were having an upcoming Memorial Day weekend sale and that she could give me 15 percent off, which gets me right in at my $1500 worth of C&B gift cards $150,000 membership rewards points can purchase. Woo hoo! Bed is ordered, and I’ll post photos once everything’s in!

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Posted by Chelsea on May 22, 2010

Here’s the most recent update in my adventures participating in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only:

So, we checked out the furniture at the outlets and ultimately, it was a big ‘ol bust. There was lots of good stuff, just nothing like what we were looking for. Oh well. We tried, right? Back to the drawing board.

Tomorrow my plan is to drag my poor husband (and visiting mother-in-law and the two boys) to Crate & Barrel to look for dressers, night tables or a bed. We may never get invited back again.



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Posted by Chelsea on May 21, 2010

Here’s the most recent update in my adventures participating in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only:

I might think I know most everything (at least my husband likely would say that I think so), but sometimes, you guys know the real deal. A reader recently left me a comment suggesting I could get more bang for my Pottery Barn/Crate & Barrel/Restoration Hardware buck if I check out these stores’ furniture outlets. I did a little research on Membership Rewards and realized that the PB, C&B and RH store gift cards you can purchase using points CAN be used at factory stores. Awesome! I did a quick search for outlets in my ‘hood, and all of the Big Three have outlet outposts at the Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets in Leesburg, VA, which is only about 45 minutes from my house! Woo hoo! Guess where I’m heading this weekend?

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Posted by Chelsea on May 19, 2010

Here’s the most recent update in my adventures participating in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only:

This week, I’ve got 100,000 points to use, which is essentially the equivalent of $1000. A lot of money, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to purchase chat I really want to get, which is some dresser-like storage for our bedroom. My husband and I have an older house, so we have teeny, tiny closets. I don’t have enough space on this blog to reveal how bummer-fic this is for me, a real-life, Jewish Carrie Bradshaw - at least when it comes to clothing consumption. My shoes and clothes are all squeezed into the little space I have like commuters heading uptown on the 6 train at 6 p.m. It ain’t pretty.

Since we can’t make closet space, I’m going to look for a dresser of sorts, but a tall, multi-drawered one, because we have a big wall where we can fit a decent-sized piece of furniture. But it’s can’t be too big, or it would be pretty overwhelming for the room, which isn’t exactly huge. Ultimately, I’d like it to be something with lots of drawers like this Marston 8-drawer tall dresser from Restoration Hardware:

Unfortnately, the price ($2150) is outside of my alloted points range for this month, so I am going to visit some more furniture stores and hit the internet for the next couple of days to see if there’s a cheaper alternative. Got any suggestions? If so, let me know, y’all!

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Posted by Chelsea on May 13, 2010

Here’s the most recent update in my adventures participating in the American Express Membership Rewards “Live On Points” challenge to revamp my bedroom using points only:

So, for my initial 50,000 ($500 value) points purchase, I decided to get myself a new rug to replace this positively nauseating one my husband and I have had for years. I actually think the “rug” is a banded piece of carpet we got a like, Home Depot or something. Both of my kids have barfed on it at some point or another, and our dearly departed cat peed on it a few times too. Lovely, no?

I don’t think this photo does the stains justice.

In order to find a nice replacement, I went to the mall to look around, stopping in at Pottery Barn. I’m a big fan of PB’s rugs - they’re really pretty and durable, and I figured that they’d likely have one that matched the robin’s egg blue and khaki color scheme in my room. They can be expensive, but the other day when I was in there I noticed that they were having a really good rug sale, and found one that I knew would be perfect for the space, not to mention my points budget.

So, once had made my decision to purchase the rug from Pottery Barn, I knew I had to cash in my first 50,000 points for a Pottery Barn Gift card. I logged onto and saw that with my points I could actually get two $250 egift cards, which would allow me to get them within a few hours and then use them immediately in-store or online. The online points redemption process was super simple - after creating an account, I went to “use points”, then to the “shopping” section, then “gift cards”, which is where I found the PB ones. I picked the ones that equaled 50,000 points (the two $250 egift cards) and then a few hours later, the link to print them out appeared on my membership rewards account page. Really, it was as easy as pie. I’ve had online Target shopping experiences that were more labor-intensive.

Here’s the rug I’m going to get (as well as a rug pad to go under it to keep it from slipping around!):


Granada Rug,

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Posted by Chelsea on May 10, 2010

Okay, so how cool is this? Check it out:

I was recently contacted by the folks at the American Express Membership Rewards Program, who asked me a) if I had an Amex (Um, totally - in fact, I use it way too much and often get “Honey, this month’s Amex bill is kinda ridiculous” talks from my husband) and b) if I used their membership rewards program (Yes, all the time - those points aren’t just for frequent flyer miles and stuff, sisters - you can get Saks 5th Avenue gift cards and all sorts of other cool things with those points!). After I passed muster, they asked me if I would be interested in taking part in their “Life On Points” challenge. The task at hand: revamp a room in my home using only Membership Rewards points to pay for the things I want and need for the project, and document the experience as I go along.  They’ll credit my account with 300,000 points (roughly $3,000), alloting 50,000 points to use in week one, 100,000 in week two and 150,000 in week three. On week four, they’re giving me an awesome membership rewards prize to give away to one of you so you can begin using points to get your home spruced up for summer!

Who am I to refuse a challenge, Amex? I’m in! Bedroom, you’re about to get a much-needed facelift. (And sorry, honey, but this won’t include items from Victoria’s Secret.

So, for the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about my experience using American Express Membership Rewards points to purchase some new goods for my bedroom. Namely, a new rug to replac a seriously disgusting one we’ve had for years, some new night stands to replace the ones that absolutely do NOT go with the rest of my bedroom furniture and some new bedding to replace my mismatched sheets.

Fun! Stay tuned…...

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Posted by Chelsea on February 20, 2008

Does your home need some sprucing up for spring? If so, you have to catch me on XM Radio’s “Broadminded” Thursday afternoon at 12:20 PM EST (and replayed at 6:20 PM EST) on XM Channel 155. I’ll be joining Broads Molly and Christine to share my favorite home goods websites and stores, give some great suggestions with how to simply – and inexpensively - make your home over to include this spring’s hottest decorating trends, and give them the goods on my most recent home make over projects: transitioning my son’s room from nursery to big boy room and setting up the new baby’s nursery.

Here are some of my favorite stores and websites for great home design products:

For all-around decorating ideas: Pottery Barn Sure, Pottery Barn may be a bit ubiquitous, but for the quality, value and selection, you just can’t beat it. This spring, Pottery Barn is completely on-trend, offering loads of items in eye-popping, bright (yet completely livable) color. Including everything from furniture to bedding in vibrant hues of greens, yellows, blues and pinks, you’re sure to find something cool and reasonably-priced to inject a spring-y dose of fun into your home this season. Want to slowly ease into the color trend? Try adding a bright lamp like the Stella Bedside Lamp to your room ($229).

Feeling bolder? Why not switch your bedding for the hothouse floral Nora Duvet Cover and Shams ($29-99) or add a bright chair like the Emery Wingback ($799) to an otherwise neutral room.

If you’re ready to dive in head-first, consider repainting with a bright color. Whether you’re into redoing a bathroom or an even larger room, Pottery Barn offers a wide selection of signature colors – all of which go with their furniture, of course - that they created in conjunction with Benjamin Moore. You can check them out in stores, in the catalog and online at

For great modern furniture: West Elm If traditional not your thing, but you’re also not into the ultra-stark contempo-look, chances are West Elm has exactly what you’re looking for. Check out their retail stores, catalog and web site for great clean-lined, modern-inspired furniture, accessories and bedding. It’s incredibly reasonably priced, not to mention excellently made. Some of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />my favorite pieces include the Scoop-Back Chairs ($99 each) and Slipper Chair ($499).

For more information on their merchandise, visit their stores, leaf through their catalog and visit

For great accessories and upholstery: Ballard Designs If you love the traditional yet eclectic look, you must check out Atlanta- based Ballard Designs. The catalog and website (no retail stores yet) offer a ton of great furniture and accessories (I especially love these whimsical terracotta pears, $42.95). Their best value may be their super-cheap yet incredibly gorgeous upholstered pieces - simply pick out what you’d like to order (a sofa, chair, chaise lounge, etc.) and choose one of their designer fabrics, and they’ll make it for you in no time flat. Visit their site at

For great seating: Clubfurniture If you love what you see in all the pricey catalogs but just can’t spend that kind of money quite yet, check out With styles nearly identical to the mass-market retailers (probably because they all come from the same North Carolina manufacturer), you’ll be able to score a sofa for a fraction of what the mall stores will charge you. I especially like their custom sectional offerings - the Brooke collection is a dead-ringer for a sectional offered at Crate & Barrel. Visit for more information.

For great kids furniture: Pottery Barn Kids Unfortunately, there aren’t a ton of websites that offer a wide range of classic, well-made kids’ and nursery furniture that doesn’t scream “juvenile”. When it comes to quality and value, Pottery Barn is my go-to source to outfit kids’ rooms. Their children’s outpost, Pottery Barn Kids, which offers products in retail stores, online and also through their catalog, offers pint-sized versions of classic favorites, all of which are cool enough for your kid enjoy for years and grow into gracefully. For her son’s new big-boy room, I chose items from PBK’s Rustic Thomas collection and sports-y bedding from the Junior Varsity collection.

One of the coolest things PBK has begun recently offering: free grid templates and proportionately-exact stickers of all of their furniture pieces and rugs. With them, you can lay out your room in a number of ways, making sure everything you choose will fits in your kids’ room, play space or nursery.

For great nursery decorating: Serena and Lily There are countless nursery linen options out there, but if you want to create a truly sophisticated yet sweet nursery, I say you must check out Serena and Lily (in fact, I chose bedding, paint and a rug from its “Zeke” collection to decorate the new baby’s room).

Founded by Serena Dugan, a textile designer and artist, and Lily Kanter, a baby boutique owner, the line features sumptuous crib and big-kid linens, as well as coordinating furniture, rugs, accessories ad low-PVC paints. Want a free catalog of their products? Click here!

In their new book, “Serena and Lily’s Nursery Style”, Serena and Lily offer tips on how to find your personal style and create your dream nursery.

Visit or to check out Serena and Lily’s offerings. Want to win a copy of their new book? Enter to win by emailing me at, and sending me your name and address.

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Posted by Chelsea on February 10, 2008

This summer, Restoration Hardware will be coming out with their own collection of baby and kids furniture, Restoration Hardware Baby & Child. I bet it’s gonna be just as beautiful as their current offerings (and, likely, just as expensive). Can’t wait to see it!

To receive information about the collection, click here.

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