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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Elin turned 2 last week.  After seeing her play endlessly with other mini-kitchens, our real kitchen, any kitchen utensils she can get her hands on and serving us “soup” that she makes in the bathtub, I decided it was time that she had a little play kitchen she could call her own.  This is where Pinterest comes in…….Oh, PinterestPinterest makes you truly believe you are your very own version of Martha Stewart + Nate Berkus + every host on The Chew.  At least that’s the effect it has on me.  You can create anything your little heart desires, as long as you have unlimited resources, unlimited time and usually a few dozen wine corks.  It’s the resource and time part that snaps me back into reality (I’ve got the wine corks covered).  And that brings me back to this post.  I would like to introduce you to Elin’s new play kitchen.  (AKA – How Mommy has spent the last 63 nap times)

Here is a ‘before’ picture of the old entertainment center I found on Craigslist.  Believe it or not, one of the hardest parts was finding it.  I had to look for a while before I found just what I wanted.  I knew I wanted a space for a refrigerator, stove/oven and sink.  This piece was great but ended up having cabinets on top that made it way too tall, so we cut them off and I mounted them on the side to make set of play kitchen cabinets.  I love bonus storage.

I sanded and primed the whole thing.  I needed a good excuse to buy a jigsaw anyway. There’s no way I could have done this project without that jigsaw.   I traced the metal bowl I had on hand for the sink, and then cut ¼” smaller than the outline, letting the bowl fall into the hole, but not through it.  I found a faucet and door hardware at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (I used a Groupon too, so another bonus!).  I bought one sheet of  1/8” fiberboard for the refrigerator and cabinet doors.  If I were doing this again, I would have sprung for ¼” instead.  I feel like the doors are just a tad flimsy sometimes.  I also used the fiber board to create a backing for the refrigerator and cabinets.  I also did a little bit of adjusting for the oven by taking off one of the existing cabinet doors and rotating it to create a box.  I also secured these cabinet doors with ‘L’ brackets. 

After the hardest part, choosing colors, then comes the painting.  After that it’s time to really get creative.  I found someone on Pinterest who used spray painted CDs for stove burners.  Genius!  I also found examples of plexiglass on the oven door, spinning oven knobs and a little framed chalkboard.  I used all of those ideas.  I really wanted a backsplash (I think maybe because my own kitchen doesn’t have one so I was living vicariously through this kitchen) but I didn’t want to pay for (or deal with) real tile.  I decided instead to make my own tiles by cutting them out of matte board.  I found a tutorial on Pinterest for marble painting using craft paint and shaving cream.  That was pretty fun actually.  I also added a ruffle curtain under the sink and a dowel to hang pots and pans.  And that’s about it.  It took a while, but it was ultimately a really fun project.  By far the best part has been watching the little chef play with it.  It’s already gotten a lot of use and so far it’s held up under the pressures of a very rowdy toddler.  Let me know if you have any questions!

(So, I thought it would be funny if I just started my blog back up without ever acknowledging the fact that I hadn’t posted anything in over a year.  I’m not going to vow to post daily or anything, but I definitely want to make this blog a higher priority.  I’m not trying to make excuses for myself, but I would like to point out that the date of my last blog post coincides suspiciously with the timeframe that my kid started walking.  I’m just sayin’.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nay, I could not bear to eat another leg of fowl!

HUZZAH!!!  If I had more time, I would write this whole post using Old Englilsh terminology – but I don’t.  Instead, I googled some phrases and picked one for my title.  “Nay, I could not bear to eat another leg of fowl” made me think of my husband, see photo, right.

Correct, good sir, this weekend we went to thy Renaissance Fair and it was wonderful.  Now, we love going to different festivals and events.  That’s actually one of my favorite things about living here, there’s just always something cool going on.  The Renaissance Fair however, takes it to a whole new level.   It’s not just a weekend event, it’s a lifestyle.    Watch out, because if we ever win the lottery, we might just pack up and travel around the country immersing ourselves in the fine culture that is the Renaissance Fair.  We would bring Jon, Ali and their girls along too.  Maybe we would start a little Renaissance commune…all we would need would be some turkey legs and ye old ATM.  The possibilities are endless…

Ye Olde Dragon Slide

Pretzel Guy - he reminds me of a character from Beauty and the Beast

This is a guy with a bag on his head?? If you know what this is, please tell me.

They had a nice petting zoo.  Elin liked this guy.

This was a really cool blacksmith demonstration.  Notice the signs in the backround, they do perform marriages.    Sweet.

This guy's "costume" doesn't seem to have much to do with the Renaissance theme, but somehow he still fits in.

This is a picture of Jon riding a giant pony with four little girls.  To any of you that know Jon personally, you're welcome.

And here's another one for good measure.
This is one of my favorites.  Our little Amelia riding the butterfly ride all by herself.  Also, be sure to check out the guy without a shirt in the background.  Classy.
And here's a picture of Elin being Elin.  Chewing on Kitty and reaching for the camera.  That pretty much sums it up.  Olivia was here too, but she took a nice nap so I don't have any Livi pictures!

Fare thee well!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

So I took an extended holiday break…

Elin sleeping through the hike.

…yes, yes, I know the holiday season ended almost 6 weeks ago.  What can I say, other than I just got out of the habit of blogging.  I’m going to try to do better, but no promises. 

I want to write today about our new family hobby:  hiking!  Yep, we found a baby-hiker-backpack-contraption on Craigslist and hit the old dusty (and rocky and sometimes steep) trails.  I’m really proud of us because for the past two weekends we’ve ventured out to explore the mountains that we admire every day.  My major turning point was when I realized that hiking is just walking.  To me, the term “hiking” always sounded completely intimidating.  It meant scaling boulders and shuffling along the edges of steep cliffs, until I realized that it could also just mean walking.  You don’t have to start with the cliff shuffling, you can work up to that.  After two weekends, we’re not quite to the Grand Canyon North Rim to South Rim hike yet, but here’s where we are and I’m really proud of it.

Week 1:  Pima Canyon  to the Dam – 6.4 miles round trip – 850’ elevation change – approx. 3.25 hours

Week 2:  Seven Falls – 8.2 miles round trip – 650’ elevation change – approx. 4.25 hours

I put the arrow here to point out the people to give a sense of scale.

I swear we didn't plan on matching.  We're not "that couple".

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Please, oh please, enjoy this.  I enjoy it very much.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If you give a mouse a cookie...

Okay, so hopefully you all know that children’s book, “If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.  When you give him the milk, he’s going to ask for a straw"…and it goes on and on and on.  Well, that was me this weekend with the wreath.  I finished the wreath that I was sick of working on, so I wanted to hang it on the door to admire it.  I hung it on the door and all I saw was a pretty wreath hanging on an ugly orangey-peachy-brownish door.  So I decided to paint the door, you know, to go with the wreath.  Well, since I had to get all the painting supplies out anyway, and since I was already at Lowes looking at paint colors, I decided to go ahead and paint our nightstands that I’d been meaning to do for a while now.  And that will bring us to today’s blog post.  Yep.  Basically this weekend consisted of me handing the baby over to Matt, while I was scurrying around trying to get as much done as I possibly could. 

I’m pretty proud of these nightstands because they originally came from craigslist.  I love craigslist.  I think these were $30, for both.  And actually, they weren’t even technically nightstands, they were office storage.  The inside shelves are still labeled things like “outgoing mail” and “copies”.  (I leave the labels there because I think they’re funny)  Anyway, when I bought them they had been spray painted brown.  I actually didn’t mind the brown, but I knew I would eventually paint them a different color.  They aren’t anything fancy, or finely crafted, but that’s what makes the painting fun.  No pressure, if you totally mess up, you’re out $30 and go back to putting the alarm clocks on upside-down laundry baskets, which is what we used until I found these babies. 

So I went with a color called La Fonda Ortiz Gold.  I’ll be honest.  I picked it purely because of the name.  My door, by the way, was painted Purple Basil, and I only needed one quart of each color.  So after the color was chosen, I headed over to the hardware section.  I was tremendously disappointed with the selection at Lowes, I couldn’t find a single pull handle that I liked.  I did, however, find some knobs that were okay.  Since the original hardware was a pull handle, I just bought two knobs for each door, and I’m really happy with the way they turned out.  The four knobs together remind me of buttons on a pea coat.  So I’m very pleased with my mini-renovations this week, and now I’m going to start thinking about next weekend.


The painting begins!

Almost done!


Another after photo

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Cheap Wreath Idea…

So I was actually wanting to make this wreath for fall/Thanksgiving, but I didn’t get it finished until last week, so now it’s a Christmas wreath.  I saw the idea on Made, where Dana made a wreath sort of like this but out of acorns.  I love the acorns, and they would have been even cheaper than the beans, if I lived near some trees that dropped acorns.  But at $1.29 for a bag of great northern beans, a Styrofoam wreath and some stuff I already had, you can’t beat a new wreath for under $5.  Now there is a catch.  It takes A LOT of time and patience, but if you do a little bit each night, who am I kidding, it still takes forever.  But eventually, it’s done, even if it’s not for the holiday you intended.  Which brings me to my next point about my bean wreath……I’m going to try to use it for every holiday this year.  On Made, Dana  just painted it different colors when she wanted a new look.  So in the interest of making the most of this thing, I’m going to paint it a new color each month.  I’ll keep you posted.

If you’re interested in making one yourself, it’s really easy.  Here’s what you’ll need:

-styrofoam wreath base (use a 40% off coupon from the Sunday paper at Michaels)
-one 16oz. bag of beans, I bought two, but didn’t even use a whole bag.  I chose Great Northern for the color, but pick whatever color you’d like.
-glue, lots of it.  I like Aileen’s tacky glue.  You need something thicker than regular white glue.
-spray paint is optional

1.        You can really use any type of Styrofoam wreath base, I chose the more squared off edges just because I liked the look of it.  I chose to paint my wreath with black spray paint, just so I couldn’t see the white Styrofoam.  I already had black spray paint, but if I didn’t I probably would have just left it white, it’s up to you.
2.       Start gluing beans!  I started with a diagonal line of beans going from edge to edge.  I found it was faster to put a lot of glue in a 2 or 3 inch section and then just do as many rows as I could before the glue dried.  Also, because my wreath base is flat, I didn’t glue any beans on the back, just 3 sides.  I found it was helpful to kind of push each bean into the styrofoam  to help it hold better.
3.       Keep gluing beans!  You’ll find that you need to adjust your pattern as you go around the wreath.  I tried to pick out the smaller beans for the rows closer to the center and saved the larger ones for the outside rows. 
4.       Get a glass of wine and then keep…….gluing……..beans……one day it will be over. 
5.       Horray!  I used a ribbon to hang mine because I liked the look but also because once it’s done, it can be kind of heavy.  You could also use some wire or a traditional wreath hanger.  Let me know if you have any questions!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Oh, you better watch out...

My sister and I can remember when we were little, in the middle of the summer, one of us would start to act up and Grandma Graham would just start to quietly sing, “Oh, you better watch out…you better not cry….”.  That reminder that the omnipotent Santa was watching us was all that we needed to make us good for goodness sake.  It didn’t matter what time of the year it was.  I like the idea of this sort of psychological weaponry for children.  That’s why I’m fully planning on using this little trick on Elin.  In order to use it though, she also has to know who Santa is, not only that, but she probably needs to meet with him each year.  She can report on her behavior for the past year (or ¾ year in this case) and they can discuss toys and just in general get caught up with each other.  Lucky for us, Santa is taking some time out of his busiest toy production season to hang out at the Park Place Mall.  I hear he really likes the kiosk that sells the crocs. 

So last Sunday we psyched ourselves up enough to brave the mall traffic, mall parking lot, mall people and the mall germs (yes, there were grown adults coughing and sneezing without the slightest concern for covering their mouths.  Where do these people come from?)  We figured that if Santa could make the trip all the way from the North Pole to Tucson, the least we could do would be drive the mall closest to our house.  So we did, and we stood in line, which surprisingly only took about 30 minutes or so.  We got to watch kids meet with Santa, which is always fun because most of them freak out.  A lot of you already know this, but I LOVE pictures of kids crying on Santa’s lap.  It’s just so funny to me because I don’t blame these children one bit.  From a child’s perspective the whole process is just absurd.  The best part about these pictures is that the parents (myself included) go to so much effort for the kids to look nice.  And we’re all standing in line trying to keep the kids clean and picture worthy.  By the time it’s actually your turn there’s so much built up to these few seconds with Santa, and then the kid gets freaked out and just starts wailing, but Santa smiles anyway, making the picture that much funnier.  I love it.  So what does my kid do?  She says, “See ya Mom!  Why hello sir.  My name is Elin and I’d be happy to sit on your lap for a picture if you have a spare moment.”  No crying, not even a wimper.  We got some good pictures and also a long conversation about talking to strangers.  Enjoy!