DIY

diy play kitchen

Well I did it.  I built a play kitchen out nothing more than a (carefully selected)  pile of wood.   And I needed to wait to write about it because there would very likely be an expletive  between “diy” and “play kitchen” in the title otherwise.

Those of you who know me, know that this was the bane of my existence last December.  It owned me.   It tortured me.   It consumed me.

It had to.  I had proclaimed to the world that this was Abby’s “big” Christmas gift and therefore all other gifts were centered around it.  Seriously.  Grandparents were buying pots and pans.  Aunties were buying play food.  The kitchen had to be done by Christmas.

And that my friends,  is the last time I will ever put that sort of pressure on myself.   Every night after dinner I would go out to the garage and work.  Cutting, sawing, screwing, drilling, kreg jigging, gluing, sanding.  Sanding.  Sanding.  Sanding.  Sanding.  Priming.  Painting.  Caulking.  Painting.  Did I mention sanding?

Let’s just say it took a lot of time.

But do you know what took just as much time?  If not even more?

Stalking Home Resource for the perfect faucet (then cleaning said faucet), scouring the dollar store for a sink that would fit, searching on Amazon for cheap 10.5” handle bars to use for a towel rack and oven door.  Researching how to cut Plexiglas so it doesn’t break (hint, have the hardware store do it for you!  Duh).  Strolling the aisles of the hardware store for matching oven knobs.  Googling for cheap “stove burner” ideas.    Tracking lost orders from Amazon with my oh-so-special purchases (yes that happened.  And no it never arrived).  Oh.  And sewing.  Don’t forget the sewing….which requires picking out fabric.  Something I am notoriously and painstakingly indecisive about.

Looking back I would say this project wasn’t that difficult and I probably would have enjoyed it so much more without the added pressure of a deadline.  I mean build a couple of boxes and attach some hardware right?  But for some reason it was nearly the death of me.  I blame the perfectionist in me.  I blame the stress of the Holidays.  I blame Pinterest.  All of them tried to take me down.  Tried to make me think I couldn’t do it.

But I did.

And it’s kiiiiiiind of awesome.

This thing is solid.   I did a mighty fine job if I do say so myself.  And praise the baby Jesus:  Abby likes it too.

So let’s just get on with it eh?  Because I’m starting to think maybe I didn’t wait long enough to write about this.

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Oh little kitchen.  How you look so unassuming.

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The answer to your question, is “yes.”  Yes the oven has a light.  Yes those stove knobs turn.  Yes that’s stellar attention to detail with the charcoal colored oven inside.  Yes that’s a real faucet.

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Because everyone needs a shelf for their tea set and baby bottles.

Oh, you don’t keep your baguette in the cupboard?  Weird.  Clearly you should.

I wish I could tell you that I documented this whole process for you.  But this was back when the last post I had written was in September.  And seriously, I had no extra time to document anything.  Both of these pictures were taken with my phone after I was so excited for “coming so far.”

HA!  Hindsight is 20/20.  And often hilarious.

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Like here, when I’m sure I was thinking “well look at me! One down, one to go. Easy Peasy!”

 

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Or here, when I was like “In the home stretch now!” hahahahaha! You wish.

 

Luckily….Abby seriously loves it.  She plays with it everyday.  When I’m at the (real) kitchen sink, she runs to her sink and does dishes.   She puts things in the oven, turns the knob, and bends down to check on them (I kind of die), she insists on using the drying towels on her kitchen after we wash her hands.  Her and dad “make stew” all the time.  She cooks an egg in the morning and brings it to me.

It was all worth it. 

Every cuss word.  Every late night.  Every stress-induces glass of wine.  Running my arse all over this damn town.  The violent illness that followed 3 hours after I deemed it “done.”

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Yep.  Totally worth it (heart melting).

So, I know when I was building this I was searching high and low for ideas and helpful hints.  And if you’ve come here looking for detailed instructions I’m sorry.  However, here’s my source list.

  • Kitchen Plans – Ana White
  • Wood – Home Depot (they were pennies different from Lowe’s)  Total was probably around $80.
  • Paint – Valspar Schoolboy Blue.  Oven paint was leftover test-pot grey I had on hand.
  • Sink – freakishly small “brownie pan” from the Dollar Store
  • Faucet – $3.00 local Home Resource find (score)
  • Towel bar – Style Selections 12.5” Brushed Satin Nickel Bar Cabinet Pull,  Lowe’s  $7.53
  • Tension rod for curtain – Room Essentials Tension Rod, Target  $3.99
  • Curtain – handmade.  Sorry, not sure of the exact fabric, but I found it all at JoAnn.
  • Hand Towel – handmade.  Used a cloth diaper (bought at Target) and just sewed some extra fabric on the end to spice it up.
  • Oven knobs –  Lux Burner Knobs, Ace Hardware  $23.99
  • Oven pull – Style Selections 7.5” Brushed Satin Nickel Bar Cabinet Pull , Lowe’s  $5.37
  • Plexiglass – cut-to-size at Ace Hardware $1.70
  • Hooks (for oven mitts) – Threshold Satin Nickel, Target  $5.99
  • Oven rack – donated from my personal collection
  • Stove burners – JoAnns.  They’re the painted backside of a wooden soccer ball disk thingy.

I hope that helps at least one person who is in the process of making their own #%)(@#% play kitchen.  I kid, I kid.

Kind of.

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xoxo,

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diy fall wreath

I’ve loved fall before the advent of pumpkin lattes, the tall-boot trend and the  desire to add pumpkin to everything I stuff in my face.

These things have just deepened my love for fall.

In addition to these fall must-haves, I’ve discovered that I need a new fall wreath every year.  Not want.  NEED.

You may remember last year when I fell in love with this guy:

 this might be the winner for fall wreaths...love it.

My heart still skips a beat when I see this.  I love everything about it.

Problem was (and still is), is that it’s made out of cornstalk tops (yes, that’s the technical term).  And lots of them.  I don’t have access to cornstalk tops…so last year I settled for my second favorite wreath, the Nonna wreath from JDC:

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I still love the Nonna, and she’s proudly hanging in our living room again.  But I couldn’t get ‘ol cornstalk-top out of my head, so in an effort to deter myself from poaching a farmer’s field after midnight, I went back to Pinterest  to find an alternative option.

Autumn Wreath   Hand Crafted Fall Wreath   Front Door Wreath For Fall  Natural Wreath   Dried Wreath  Autumn Decor on Etsy, $70.00
Rustic burlap wreath.... Want to make one for our front door with some fall flowers added to it.
Love this front door decor for fall... especially the wheat wreath w/ burlap bow... simple but warm and welcoming
Burlap Fall Wreath for Front Door or Wall | WeHaveWreaths - Housewares on ArtFire  www.facebook.com/CraftCreationsbyJen Twig Wreath. For the front door for Fall.

I liked all of these options (especially the upper-right one)…but then I found this one:

StoneGable: RAFFIA WREATH TUTORIAL....I am for sure making this for the fall!!!

And I knew it was The One.  I mean, it was big, crazy, and disheveled…just like the cornstalk-top one.  Plus, it’s made of raffia, which is easily-accessible.  Unlike cornstalk-tops.

I’m not doing a tutorial here because the one at Stone Gable is great.  I will say a couple of things though:

  • I didn’t bother with hot glue.  Mostly because I bought the full-size sticks instead of the mini-sticks and I was too annoyed to wait until I had time to exchange them.
  • It’s a very messy project.  Don’t do it on your couch while watching America’s Next Top Model.  At least….I hear that you shouldn’t do that….it’s not like I watch that show.
  • The tutorial only instructed you to do 1 row of raffia around the wreath.  I did three.  I like it big.  But because of this, it took a little over 2 hours to do.  Not exactly a speedy process.
  • I can’t find those damn bleached oak leaves for the life of me (ok, I went to one store).   So mine doesn’t have them.  I wish it did though…

So…here she is in all her big, crazy glory:

(oh, and yes.  I did paint my front door black.  Thanks for asking!)

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It’s surprising to me that I like this unruly thing….but oh how I do.  The only thing that could make it better is the bleached oak leaves.  I suppose I could check out more than one a few more stores.  Or I could just strut around in my tall boots with a pumpkin latte eating pumpkin everything.

Yes.  That sounds like a better idea.

What about you?  Do you like clean-cut wreaths or crazy messy ones like this?  Have you made any this fall that I need to see?

P.S.  Did you know that if you subscribe to my blog, or “Like” twsst on Facebook, you’ll know there’s a new post up before everyone else?   You can do either from the right hand column!

abby’s birthday

Let’s just go ahead and pretend that it hasn’t been 3 months since I’ve posted….ok?

Ok.  Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I thought it was due time I shared a bit about Abby’s birthday with you.  She turned 1 earlier this month and we of course had a little celebration.   I actually really struggled with how much of a party it needed to be; do you keep it simple or do you go-big-or-go-home?   Part of me really wanted to have a big party with a theme and decorations and everything-Pinteresty.   But the other part of me just kept thinking….dude.  She’s 1.

In the end, my rational-brain won and we decided to have a small family get together with our immediate family.  Because when I actually sat down and thought about it, the only thing I really cared about for Abby’s birthday was (1) making it special to her and (2) making her cake.   Besides, we have about 18 more years of birthdays that can be over-the-top if she wants.  For now, we were keeping it simple…and just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it can’t be kind of Pinteresty (are you following me?  You should!).

The Hubs and I are lucky enough that both of our parents and all of our siblings live close enough to drive to town for the day.   Wait, let me rephrase.  The Hubs and I are lucky enough that we have parents and siblings willing to drive upwards of 2 hours for a 1-year olds birthday party.   And since her birthday is in February, we decided a sledding party might be in order (sorry Abs, you’ll probably have lots of sledding parties….at least until you can ski).

We have a big park in the back of our house with a couple of rolling hills (great for mini-sledding) and a bigger hill (great for big-kid or brave-adult sledding).

So the plan was to do some late-morning sledding, come in for some chili and  then do cake.   And even though nearly all of the snow melted into a giant ice/snow rink the week before her birthday (thanksalotglobalwarming) we were still able to get some sliding around done.   And it was a beautiful bluebird day to boot.

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I’d say she enjoyed it…..

So then it was time for chili.  Isn’t chili just one of those awesome comfort foods?  I love me some chili.  I made our favorite elk chili and then this tasty little number:


(image from ambitious kitchen)

Sweet potato, black bean and quinoa chili with smoked chipotle.  Go make it now.  Seriously.  Go.   Now.  It’s amazing.   I used to think nothing could beat our elk chili recipe but I was wrong….this is just as good if not better.  And it’s vegetarian (gasp).

We had all of the fixings of course, my award winning maple cornbread, fritos, sour cream, vinegar (please tell me you put vinegar in your chili too?), green onions, cheese….mmmm.   Maybe what I like most about chili is all of the fixings you get to put in it.  But I digress.

Birthdays are mostly about cake, are they not?  And I knew I wanted to make Abby’s cakes.  In fact, I hope I always make her cake…it’s something my mom used to do for me and something I want to do for her.

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Hellooooooo doll cake!   You were my favorite!  And wow, Mom, I just realized you broke out the CHINA for my birthday.  Looks like we were slumming it with the paper plates for Abby.

I’ll spare you the details of making Abby’s cake….but let’s just say making a cake from scratch is not always easy.  And sometimes one itsy teeny weeny mistake like using PAM can mess the ENTIRE thing up.   Don’t use Pam.

I have to say though, I am quite pleased with how this all turned out.   Yes.  Quite pleased.   Because no matter how many awesome ombre cakes there are on Pinterest, I guarantee you there is not ONE tutorial out there for how to do it.   I should write one; but who am I kidding, I don’t blog.

Gah.  Too many words.  Let’s just get to the pictures, shall we?

IMG_4975 Do you love that banner so much like I do?  I wish I could say I made it.

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 IMG_4992 I wish you could see the candle holders up close!  They are a fish, duck and pheasant.  So incredibly appropriate for a hunters daughter.  And actually pretty darn cute.

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The “1” was actually a last-minute decision.  But I’m glad I did it!

IMG_4997 And now…the Pièce de résistance

IMG_5036 Oh you pretty little cake…how you tortured me so.

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IMG_5029 Don’t let these pictures fool you.  She did not, I repeat not like cake.  There was no smashing.  No laughing.  No sticking her face in it.  No having to tear it away as she screamed for more.  She just really wasn’t interested.   Maybe next year.  Or maybe it just needs to be in the shape of a doll.

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IMG_4982 Here’s her birthday present.  She loves it.  Not actually sitting on it, but she loves standing on the chairs or laying on the table.  Cuz that’s safe.

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IMG_5005 Sorry, can’t talk right now…I’m riding a pony.

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And just like that, the party was over.

Sometimes I can hardly believe that she is a year old already and sometimes I think she ought to be 5 by now.   In fact I ran across a quote the other day that really resonated with me…

“The days are long, but the years are short.  Don’t blink.”

I try to remind myself of that often.  No matter how long the day (or night) may seem, these years really will fly by.

Now can we just look at this again please?

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fall wreath

I love fall.  It’s my favorite season for sure….cool enough to wear jeans, boots and sweaters, but still sunny and warm during the day.  Not to mention the beautiful colors that mark the changing of the seasons.

This year I was intent on making a fall wreath.  I pinned my little heart out on Pinterest….

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I actually gathered up pinecones during a hike one day to make this wreath.  It feels more “wintery” to me though, so I haven’t made it yet!

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This cornstalk-top wreath (above) was my absolute favorite!  I really really wanted to make it but couldn’t find enough corn stalks.  Sigh.  Maybe next year I’ll start rubbing elbows with some farmers to poach their stalks come fall because I seriously love everything about this wreath.

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In the end, I decided to make the Nonna Wreath – from Jones Design Company (anyone surprised?  I tend to always go to Emily’s site for inspiration and I’m never disappointed). 

I won’t do a full tutorial here because Emily’s is great.  Simply click on the “via” link above and you’ll be taken to her blog.   I know it must sound like I know Emily, but I actually don’t!  I stumbled upon her blog a few years ago and have been following her ever since.  I find that we have the same tastes in design and her projects are always simple and classic. 

Anyhoo…here’s how my Nonna Wreath turned out!

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I love that it’s a bit ruffley and feminine, but not overly-so.  And I do like the mustardy yellow color!  It’s oh-so-fallish.

Those of you with a keen eye will notice that I’ve done a wee bit ‘o rearranging in the living room.   Remember, the console table/entryway used to look like this? 

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(wow, and that was before my new camera, obviously!)

And now looks like this:

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I decided I didn’t like the wall gallery right there, so I moved it across the room above the couch.  The mirror is one I had lying around.   I want to add a frame to it out of reclaimed wood….you know, make it all rustic and textured?  It’s on the project list.  I think it will help define the space a little bit. 

And this is what it used to look like above the couch:

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I knew it would happen and it did.  I got sick of the fabric panels. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still like the idea.  But I’m giving them a rest for awhile.  So here’s what it looks like now:

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Let’s play “eye spy the nonna wreath…”

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I like to call this look “layered neutrals.”  hahaha.  I’m obviously still struggling with color, but I like to think I’m working on it.  For example, I have thought about adding some colored throw pillows to the couch.  Just not sure what color yet (although I’ve noticed Target has some nice mustard yellow/goldish ones that might work well). 

I also want to put a shelf along the length of the couch, kind of like a long skinny console table.  I found this idea on Pinterest (surprise) to just attach a long board behind the couch as a place to set drinks, etc.  I want to do the same rustic/weathered wood here and maybe put a lamp on each end.  Plus, then it gives me a place to set my beer water so I quit spilling it on the couch. 

So what about you?  Have any of you made a fall wreath this year?  Done any rearranging at your house?  And tell me your secrets for decorating with color…I must know!