Mom Writes Life » select stories on home, life, crafting, and mommyhood

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Cleaning Up Around Here

Seriously, I don’t know how to keep an organized office. This is how it was looking a couple of weeks ago:


It’s still looking bad, but progress is being made. I can usually keep the house in clean and working order, but my desk usually ends up with lots and lots of piles. I blame it on my INFJ personality. Yeah, let’s go along with that. :-)

We have had a busy spring and summer with opening up our pool in April and we’ve been enjoying it a few times a week since. I’m now several shades darker where my body has seen the sun in comparison to other parts that haven’t…like…my butt. Ha!

We trimmed our palm tree (this still gets me every time, that we live in a place that has palm trees…and lizards…and snakes…and on and on in abundance):


Last month we flew back home, to Virginia to visit friends and family:


I was really, really struck by how hilly everything was! I never noticed it in all the years living there, but after all these months in flat-lands, it stuck out.

I’ve also been working with this delicious fabric to turn it into a quilt for our bed. 6 blocks down, 10 more to go!

I nevDSC_8494

We also discovered a farm around here that has blueberries that aren’t sprayed with pesticides! We picked 10 pounds and we’re going to go again in a couple of weeks:


It’s been good around here.

Gearing up for Spring

I’ve been working on lots of projects and stuff these last few weeks. One of the big projects we tackled a couple of weeks ago was putting down 35(!) bags of mulch and tackling the flower beds. Here is the house when we first made an offer:IMG_2543

Excuse the dreary gray photos, since it was an overcast day when I took the “after” shots! We painted the front door Riverway by Sherwin Williams. Actually, the painters we hired started it, but then they never came back, so I finished painting the door. We pulled up all the bulbs and removed overgrown shrubs.


If you look closely, you can see a cowboy planter! I discovered him when we trimmed down the hedges. I still need to get a plant to put in there. He is hilarious.


And since Brian and I are lazy gardeners, we got perennials that will hopefully creep and spread around the ground so we won’t have to do (much) weeding.

The former homeowners put four patio chairs behind the property fence. I have no clue why. We rescued them and put two in the front of the house, and the other two in the back patio. They still need cushions, but since we’re in the middle of pollen-season, it can wait. I keep searching for something that will cost less than $50 per chair, so maybe it will be an end of summer sale to wait on.

We’re looking into either power-washing the roof ourselves or hiring someone to do it. Oh, and maybe we will tackle the outside light fixture too. We will need to fix our lamppost to get it to work (the sensor is not working).

Yay, more projects! ;-)

A Semi-Homemade DIY Play Kitchen*

*(Warning: Lots and lots of words and photos to follow!)

There have been a couple of really, really big projects that I/we have been finishing up this month. Today I’m going to share our children’s play kitchen.


Let me back up a bit. We started with this kitchen set that we bought for $20 at a yard sale when we lived in Virginia (You can read more about that here):


Over time what began as a simple project spiraled into something much bigger, and it became an even bigger project when we got my mom and Brian’s parents involved.

I had dreams of Brian putting together the kitchen with some painting and calling it good. Except, well, I am Type A and crazy and cannot tackle a project without dragging everyone into it and being overwhelmed by it all. Sigh.

It began as a simple plan to improve upon the burners, and as I spiraled into the world of Pinterest, I saw that there were some play kitchens that had lights for the burners. And then there were lights for the oven.

I first asked Brian if he could tackle this. You know, because chemical engineers should know all about lighting and wires and such. Ha. There was some bouncing of ideas back and forth and then I had an ah-ha moment and immediately emailed my father-in-law, the original engineer. (You’ve seen our Christmas trees, this is where Brian gets it from.)

My father-in-law was pretty amenable to my crazy schemes, so we texted, emailed, and Skyped back and forth before we decided to hatch our plan to make the coolest light-up, wooden, vintage modern play kitchen ever.

Brian and I spent hours and hours sanding, painting, and doing all the stuff we could to improve the appearance of the kitchen while the kids were napping on the weekends.


While we did that in Texas, my father-in-law did this in Ohio:


Finally, the play kitchen is finished. Follow me along on a tour! This is the playroom. More photos and more about the quilt rug here.


We painted the kitchen Sea Salt from Sherwin Williams. Fun fact #1: It’s the paint color of our master bathroom. Fun fact #2: I chose this paint color because we had almost a full gallon of it in the garage so we wouldn’t have to buy more paint. I love the color because it is not pink, not overly crazy, and it works in the space. It looks a little gray, a little blue, a little white, depending on the light and which angle you are looking at it.


Those stinking cute cats are vintage, and I bought them when we went to a antique fair the summer of 2012.


A closer view of the kitchen:


Originally when we put together the pantry part of the kitchen, I wanted there to be counter space. After some back and forth, we decided a four burner light up stove would be much cooler, and so the pantry counter became the sink. The faucet is from Home Depot and the “sink” is actually a round bowl with a lip edge that we bought from WalMart.


This is the magnetic refrigerator. This also drove me crazy because I painted layer after layer after layer of magnet paint to get it to stick well enough. I think it has 7 coats of magnet paint. Brian sanded it down to make it smoother because apparently it gets really rough on the texture part after so many coats of paint.

The handles and new hinges are also from Home Depot.

DSC_6846We put ice cube trays in the freezer (I used them to make baby food and they are awful, so it works out better this way.) The play food is from Ikea from my mom and the one on the bottom right basket is from their grandparents. Here is the fridge opened:


This is the cabinet under the pantry. If we weren’t completely burned out by this project, I would have asked them to add a shelf in here. Maybe later, if we ever feel like doing a small tweak here or there. A basket full of more kitchen supplies will do for now:


We plan on replacing the cookware and adding cups and plates a little later when my mom comes to visit us. She bought all the new cookware and supplies and wants to celebrate Bunny’s birthday to open the presents next month. (The future cookware/plates/cups are from Ikea as well. The line is called Duktig and it’s wonderful.)

Moving on, here is the really cool part of the kitchen:


My in-laws bought the stuff to make up the stove, and this is so stinking brilliant. The stove top burners are actually cd discs with LED lights attached around them. On top of the burner is a piece of plexi-glass they had spray-painted the underside black with the spaced out holes covered so that it is sleek and shiny on top. When you turn the knobs they light up or turn off!


Here are the burners lit up:


Confession: I was really burned out from working on this project and this stove initially had two cabinet doors with a shelf in the middle. I didn’t want to do any more work and was going to leave both cabinet doors on. Thankfully Brian and my in-laws helped to finish that part of the project and turn it into a single oven door.

Brian and his dad cut out the shelf and made it like an actual oven rack:DSC_6854

Did I mention this lights up with the press of a button?


Also the “burners” light up too when you turn the knob:


Both lights on:DSC_6859

The rack part actually slides out about halfway. It is made with a cut down closet rack piece and slides out via a plastic zip tie (I think that’s what they’re called, will check back on this.)DSC_6861

Here are all the burners and lights lit up:


Another cool piece to this is that the back of the kitchen is not full of a zillion wires. Brian added a false back that covers the loose wires so it is all just nice and organized!


This was a really special project to have the grandparents involved too. Did I mention that last week I caught the flu and then both of us caught the stomach bug and then when my in-laws came, his dad caught our leftover bug? Yeah….despite all the illness we barreled down and got this sucker done!


Yesterday we wrapped up the kitchen and had it all set up for the girls, specifically Bunny:


Today, they are having so much fun playing:


I can’t wait to see what they cook up next:


This is truly, truly a labor of love. I am so happy that we were able to include our parents on this project. Later, it might be fun to add a shelf above, or in the pantry, but I am happy to call this project done:


It’s also a sweet surprise when Bunny runs the cooked food over to my desk for me to try:


If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’m typing this up as quickly as I can while my kids are napping, so pardon any typos or sleep-deprived use of words. :-)

February 27, 2014 - 6:46 AM

At the end of February » Mom Writes Life - […] pretty safe to say that I tackled some pretty big projects this month. In addition to the play kitchen, getting our pre-digital photographs scanned, I finished an extremely personal, 82 years in the […]