Thursday, September 24, 2015

Circle Time Center

Gabrielle loves her Preschool Prep Company set and we watch the DVDs daily.  I wanted a fun way to use the flashcards and decided to create a little Circle Time Center.  I purchased a 47" x 35" bulletin board and crayon trim.   I used Pinterest to get some ideas and decided to include the following:

Meet the Letter
Meet the Shape
Meet the Color
Meet the Sight Words
Meet the Number

Wooden All About Today Board

Daily Focus Board Sign
$4 project with items purchased from the School Supplies and Party sections of Dollar General.  I purchased 2 packs of sticky-backed foam sheets (cut in half and into flags), set of paper letters, and blue ribbon.

$1 White Board Poster from Dollar General to write quotes, verses, vocabulary, etc. on

All in all, I'm very happy with the layout and plan to hang it up on a wall between our kitchen and living room.  Hopefully, it will be a fun way to work on some of the basics.  She passes by it often and points up at the different cards.

I hope to purchase some classroom early learning charts and bulletin board sets from Carson Dellosa or Amazon to place above the board or on her Step 2 Easel.  Speaking of the easel, right now, it's up in her room with a set of the capital letters available to play with.  She really enjoys finding the letters in the bin below and placing them on the board (and all over her room).  Still working on spelling our first word, "C-A-T," since it seems to be an early favorite in the animal department.  Don't believe, here's a picture of her enjoying her daily meeting with one of the neighborhood cats down the street.

That last bit got a little off topic, BUT that's how I roll (do people still say that?).  Until next time...

Monday, July 6, 2015

Gabby's One-of-a-Kind Play Kitchen

Given the opportunity, I will always take an old piece of furniture that was built to last (i.e. REAL WOOD over the compressed wood/crappy materials of today).  There is so much more character to such a piece over a cookie cutter one.   That being said, you can understand how my guilty pleasure is to scour flea markets for unique finds!  This week, I struck gold with a wonderful, child-sized hutch by 2nd Door on the Right at the Twice as Nice Flea Market.

Reduced in price to $90, I envisioned turning this little gem into the play kitchen of my (and hopefully Gabby's) dreams.  I actually saw this and thought to myself, "Oh well...isn't that something?  I've never seen anything like it."  Then, I left, looked up child-sized hoosier cabinets and cupboards on Pinterest, and proceeded to annoy Nate with my remorse over passing it up.  Luckily, I went back the next morning and it was still there.  It was meant to be; I mean, it's painted in my favorite shabby chic hue!

Since I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I wanted to create a wonderful play kitchen.  I love mini-me, real-life stuff!  The thought of fostering an interest in cooking at such a young age makes my heart happy.  Anyway, I've slowly accumulated toy kitchen accessories so that when we end up buying a wooden play kitchen for her 2nd birthday, we wouldn't have to spend a fortune all at once to deck it out.  Of these purchases, my greatest deal was this appliance set.  Somehow, I was able to buy it for under $20 on Amazon!  What luck, right?

After I brought this baby home and Nate relocated it from my trunk (it is rather heavy), I scoured Amazon and found some great pieces to complete the "kitchen" as well as pulled random stuff we had around the house.   The only items missing are some little touch lights that I will stick in the cute microwave and "oven."  The little step stool will be a great way to reach the higher items when she's older. Bonus, it folds up and stows away easily when not in use.  Although Gabby's at least a year or more away from really beginning to even appreciate the kitchen, I know she can look back on pictures and think back to fond memories of countless hours with this.  It's that idea of nostalgia that I'm looking forward to for us to share! 

Repurposed Vintage Child's Hutch Play Kitchen

I'm excited with how all these little knick-knacks came together!

 A cooling rack makes for a perfect "oven" on the top shelf of this cabinet!  The smaller sheet pan on the bottom rack came with the KidKraft Mixer, while the top rack holds a cute Melissa and Doug Cookie set that I purchased for half price at Christmas.    
SIDE NOTE:  December is a GREAT time to purchase all kinds of gifts for the rest of the year at amazing prices!!  Not rocket science, as I'm sure you guys already knew this little bit of wisdom and I'm late to the game....

The stove elements include a Melissa and Doug pots and pans rack, matching utensil and this random find of a stove top toy by Green Toys (made in the USA from 100% recycled plastic milk jugs).  

Now to find a "sink" to  complete this kitchen.  I want to leave some counter space to "cut" play food and use as a general play surface, so I didn't want anything too large.  My inexpensive soap dish.  How in the world did I think of an iron soap holder with faucet accent?!?  Well, I have an interest in primitive decor (story for another time) and have come across some of them online in the past.  I had a bathroom organizer I purchased years ago from Ross that makes for a great base.  Also, the extra space below it is nice.  I cut up a new sponge, added a dish towel and...BOOM...we have a sink.  I am yet to find dishes I like, but I'm sure I will come across some cheap melamine  or wood plates .

IF we do end up buying a play kitchen and having the hutch as an additional element, I will probably get this KidKraft Prairie Kitchen. For the time being, I think this little lovely covers many of the elements that could be desired.  Guess the true test will be what Gabby thinks.  So there you have it.  That's a lot to say about a little play kitchen, but every element of it brings a smile to my face and I hope you've enjoyed reading the boring details.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Best Friends in the Rain" - Melted Crayon Art

I've had a half-finished project in the garage for months.  Melted crayon art is something I wanted to give a try for a long time.  I purchased a box of 62 (I think) Crayola crayons at Dollar General, glued them to a 16" x 20" canvas in a rainbow-inspired order with their names facing outward, taped off an area with painter's tape where my image would go, and that is how the project sat for months in the garage.

This morning during a Gabby nap, I decided it was time to finish. I set up a few cardboard boxes as a little station behind and underneath to avoid a mess.  The cardboard behind the art was similar to a science fair board so that the sides would capture any crayon spray.  I held the heat source (a heat gun) at a 45 degree angle above the point of the crayons to get it to drip down relatively straight and varied the tilt on the canvas to get the crayons to dry at different distances.

Once I was satisfied with the look of the crayons.  I used Mod Podge to adhere and seal the image I found online on the canvas after removing the painter's tape....and BOOM...done!  It was a lot of fun and really easy.  I will say there was a little smoke, so next time (and there will be a next time) I will probably use a lower heat setting on a hair dryer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gabby's Baptism

Shortly after Gabby's first birthday, she had a small baptism at a serene Episcopal church in the country; By small, I mean that it was just the three of us, her godparents, the chaplain, and two kind, older ladies who welcomed us into their church and were witnesses to the ceremony.

The Baptism just goes to show that things don't have to be grand affairs to be special.  Gabby was in a great mood (which is always helpful) and it will be something I will always cherish. 


After all, it’s about what the Baptism stands for in her life and how her family will help her develop her relationship with God. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Little Tikes Playhouse Makeover

Brand new, the outdoor plastic playhouses can be quite pricey.  I've seen them range in price from $130 - $500+.  However, if you're able to snag a used one through a yard sale, local resale website, or neighbor, you can have a beautifully customized playhouse for a fraction of the cost.  You can only imagine how much this type of project was right up my alley.   I forgot to take a before picture of the house in it's original state.  It was a well-loved, outdoor playhouse one of my neighbors sold me for $35.  It was in good structural condition and just showed signs of being enjoyed and loved.


The first thing I did was head to Lowes and pick up paint.  I have never been very good with spray paint; I'm very impatient to wait for it to dry, I don't like taping off areas, etc.  Especially when dealing with plastic, there is a considerable cure time of a couple weeks.  Also, I'm sure that the paint will come off in areas that get a little more wear and tear, but it's an easy fix.  Again, it's a used toy, so I'm not too worried about it.

I didn't keep track of the number of cans of each color I used.  Here's a pretty close guess:

-  Walls (interior and exterior): 4 to 5 cans Valspar 12-oz Churchill Hotel Vanilla Satin Spray Paint
-  Door (interior and exterior) and Roof (exterior): 2 cans Valspar 12-oz Tropical Oasis High-Gloss Spray Paint
-  Windows (interior and exterior): 2 cans Valspar 12-oz Thistle Field Satin Spray Paint
-  Mailbox, house address numbers, and Drawer: 1 can Valspar 12-oz Pink Burst High-Gloss Spray Paint

While at Lowes, I also picked up some super glue, house address numbers, a mailbox, and some 3M removal wall hooks.  I gave a coat of paint to the wall interiors (I don't need perfect walls, so one coat was enough).  I let it dry a couple days and then did the exterior.  I then painted the door and windows.  I decided to leave the window shutters in the open position as the constant rubbing of the windows and the wall would probably end up taking all the paint off.  I didn't tape up the house  when doing all the windows and doors.  Instead, I just used a cardboard box to provide a backing  to avoid getting to much paint on the walls.  It wasn't perfect work, but doesn't look bad.  If you are into being more exact, you could use painter's tape and take more time.

Little Touches

*Flower Boxes

I made little flower boxes for three windows and attached them with twine to the shutters by those helpful tub handles.  They are the perfect size and really add some color to the house! These are the supplies I used from Hobby Lobby (luckily these items were 50% off):
-  Small Green Metal Oval Tub with Handles
- Waterfoam Brick:  1 was enough for all three flower boxes.  I just sliced it up and arranged the blocks inside each tub.
- Fake Flowers:  I purchased 3 and used wire clippers to cut the flowers and leaves so I could arrange them in each tub.


The mailbox did not have a level surface on the back, so I cut a 1/2" slice of an old yoga block (so random) and glued it on the back to make a flat surface that I could easily superglue to the house.  I can't wait to put mail in there for her one day...maybe Highlights magazines and little letters.

*House Number
No real significance to the actual number "231."  I just like how that number sequence looked on the door.  Again, I used some super glue to make quick work of affixing them to the door.

-  A little garden decor bird from Ross Dress for Less
-  Garden Chair
-  Door mat

*Interior Decor
-  I had a Drawer Cart in the garage that we never use, so I painted it Pink Burst and added a tray I found on clearance at Ross.  It makes a nice place to store the play kitchen items.
-  I removed the glass from frames purchased at my localdollar store and stuck them on the wall with some Command Small Picture Hanging Strips.

*Play Items

-  Inexpensive, plastic cooking set
-  Learning Resources Healthy Dinner Basket
-  Hape Gourmet Grill and Shish Kabob Play Set:  After looking at a number of play grills, my husband and I really liked this one.  It was easy to assemble, looks just like dad's grill, and I find it absolutely adorable!
-  Little Tikes Cozy Coupe with Trailer that she received for her birthday.  Believe it or not, Lola pug enjoys riding in the little trailer when we go on walks around the neighborhood.

There you have it.  Although Gabby is a bit too young to really appreciate all the wonders of a playhouse, she already enjoys sitting on her "patio" and going inside.  I plan to leave it in the garage to provide a shaded play area for hot days and to avoid getting too dirty in our backyard.  I'm very happy with the finished project and think she will get a number of years of imaginative play out of it with her family and friends.

Vintage Hot Air Balloon 1st Birthday Party

Last month, we celebrated Gabby's first birthday with a mid-day luncheon.  It had a "Growing Up, Up, Up" Hot Air Balloon theme complete with a vintage color scheme of pinks, turquoise, and cream.  I selected this theme mainly because it was an  excuse to Pinterest to my heart’s content!  Lots of inspiration to hone down to a few choice projects.  It is easy to go overboard, but I was budget minded.  


Gabby had some wonderful photos taken by Couture Expressions Photography and this particular picture fit perfectly with a template offered by Tiny Prints.  The final product was a 5" x 7" card with a pearly shimmer in a metallic gold envelope.  I'm a sucker for a nice card (Papyrus is my obsession), so it was a great opportunity to design something memorable. 

Hot Air Ballon Display and Streamers

Gabby had about 10 paper lanterns hung up in a corner of her room as a little sensory display.  I found a DIY Cloud Light tutorial that inspired me to create this cloud out of paper lanterns and cotton batting.  It was a pretty straightforward project and didn't take much time.  We have hooks lining the opposite side of the wall, so I placed the cloud and hot air balloons on a curtain rod.  I filled gaps in the cloud structure with additional batting to give it fluffier appearance.  

Clipart + tape + twine + scissors = easy, themed display

Rag Banner High Chair
I took up sewing as a hobby and went crazy collecting fabric.  I used some of my low cost fabric and tulle to make a little rag banner to tie around this classy, painted Eddie Bauer high chair a good friend let me borrow.  The crown was curtesy of her grandma and grandpa. 

Drink Station
To go with the color scheme, we served pink lemonade and blue punch.  For glasses, we used small mason jars with cute pink and turquoise paper straws.  For those who weren't interested in a  sugar rush, we had a stash of water chilling.


Another Pinterest-inspired project...Made cute miniature hot air balloons with polka dot popcorn boxes and skewers.  Our favors included a cute mini Board Book by Gyo Fujikawa, a colorful Fringed Party Blower, a small bag of Hershey's Miniatures, and a little Thank You card with a poem I wrote in honor of the big day.

Dr. Seuss, I am not,
but I'll give this a shot

Gabby's such an inspiring muse

Her birthday's today

Let's all jump and say, “Yay!"

Read along as my poem continues
A year has flown by
in the blink of an eye
Seven inches taller she's grown
Nine pounds change in weight
She arrived at just eight
Each week brought another milestone
She loves Mickey Mouse
singing in his clubhouse
The Hot Dog song makes her giggle and cheer
Doc McStuffins and friends
Oh, the fun never ends 
These two shows make her smile ear-to-ear
Peek-a-boo she does play
Reads her books everyday
Knows sign language for milk, more, and
Stroller rides 'round the block
with the pugs as we walk,
she waves, ”Hi" to all who
she sees
Happy Birthday, my dear
It has been quite a year
and I would not change a single thing
Now you are one
Can’t believe 12 months done
I wonder what this year will bring


Monkey in a Hot Air Balloon Cake

A local baker, Coastal Cake Creations, went above and beyond my expectations.  I sent her some ideas and she took them and ran!  In the end, we had a wonderful fondant hot air balloon cake (if you read my first post, you will know my husband likes monkeys so that's why there's a little monkey riding in the basket), a cute smash cake, and cupcakes with coordinating fondant toppers.
To display the cupcakes and smash cake, I repurposed an old chandelier from Craigslist that I purchased for $40.  I removed the old wires and a few unnecessary parts, spray painted it gold, and added some teardrop crystals that were used as Christmas ornaments.  It was bigger than I expected, but I was very happy with the final product.

We didn't end up giving Gabby the cake to smash because I found that it was so much cake to waste.  Instead, she had a more than enjoyable time destroying one of the cupcakes.  We ended up freezing the smash cake as the cupcakes and fondant cake were more than enough for the party.  It has since been enjoyed to celebrate her baptism that occurred a couple weeks later; I plan to blog about her baptism in another post.  The topper was inspired by another pinterest find.  It helps having a craft room filled with supplies as I was able to make the topper for no additional cost.

Smash Cake and Topper

Name Display
Some paper mache letters from Hobby Lobby that were half-off, acrylic paint, and scrapbook paper made for a quick and easy name display for under $15.  I used electric blue ink from a stamping pad to give it a little more visual interest around the edges and here and there on the letters.

Digital "Chalkboard" Poster

With so many great deals on canvas prints these days, I turned this design by a friend of my mother-in-law into a 16" x 20" poster with highlights from the past year.  I don't have wonderful handwriting to make one of these myself and she did a great job!  I'll link her etsy shop once I get her information.  Bonus, after the party, this made for an adorable piece of nursery decor.

Thumbprint Momento
I asked guests to include a little thumbprint so I could have this little momento for her baby book.  I didn't manage to have everyone do it, but plan to connect each print with a black line to the hot air ballon basket.

Overall Decor

Being new to the area as of last fall, we are slowly making friends.  I was lucky enough to find a mom group of about 10, mostly first time moms with little one's around Gabby's age.  Also, our neighborhood is filled with many great families.   We had about 12 ladies and 8-10 little ones under 5 years old over to share in the celebration.  Also, Gabby’s dad was able to take a day off and spend with his little girl.  Gabby slept for a couple hours afterward.  All in all, it was an enjoyable party with yummy food, cute d├ęcor, and amazing company!

One tired, little party animal