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The Completely UN-Originial DIY Kitchen

We already had a little plastic kitchen that J used all the time.

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It’s actually a hand-me-down from my younger brothers.  My stepmother gave it to us about 3 years ago.  Free is always good.  Especially when it’s a kitchen that I despise.  When we received it all of the knobs and handles were pulled off, the spigot was missing and the burners didn’t turn on.  Don’t get me wrong, it definitely did its job for the last 2 1/2 years…but it was time for a new one.  Being the Pinterest-lover that I am I knew I wanted a cute little DIY job.  Hubby was horrified thrilled.

First I found a cart.  $15 from a local thrift shop, minus 20% military discount.  Sold!diy-kitchen-before

Then I made my must-have wishlist.

  1. Drop leaf on one side.  Since the cart was so small and most of the space would be taken up by the sink and stovetop, I wanted somewhere that “prep” work could be done.
  2. A drop down oven door with a plexiglass window.
  3. Hooks on the side to hang pots and pans
  4. Hooks on the front cabinet for potholders/apron/towel
  5. A hole for the “sink” (aka a bowl that could be removed)

Hubby was even more horrified thrilled after I showed him my list and told him to get cracking!  First he made the oven door.  I have absolutely no details on this, minus it drops down and has plexiglass like I wanted.  I do wish that he would’ve put a bar on it instead of a knob, but I didn’t see what he did until it was already on.  And even I know better than to ask him to change something (or complain about the way he did it) once it’s on there.  Don’t want to push my luck…diy-kitchen-ovenAs much as he complains when I give him projects, I think he secretly likes working on them.  Like he’s the one that suggested we use a real sink and found one at Lowes for $10.  He installed that next and drilled a hole for the sink.  diy-kitchen-sink-holeI had an extra plastic bowl that I never use that would work for the sink.  I would’ve preferred a silver one but couldn’t find anything I liked at the thrift store and wasn’t going to spend more than $1 on something like that if I had a fine one at home already!diy-kitchen-sinkdiy-kitchen-sink-under

Hubby made the drop-leaf next.  I don’t have any in-progress pictures for that.  You’ll see it down below once it’s all done.  I don’t have the slightest clue how he made it…I just know that it was a huge pain in the ass to figure out.  We’re still married, so it’s okay.  I think it was close for awhile there…

The next step was to sand it all down to prepare for painting.diy-kitchen-sanded-2diy-kitchen-sandedFirst I primed everything.  I had learned while making J’s dress up closet how important it is to prime laminate.  We were putting a ton of work into this and the last thing I wanted it to do was chip.  My original plan was to make it red and white for two reasons:  1. I had a ton of red paint leftover from previous projects and 2. that’s the color of my kitchen so I figured that would go nicely together.

Except once I started painting it I really didn’t like the shade of red.  It was way too bright.
diy-kitchen-primedSo I re-primed those parts and started again.  I decided on a nice dark blue instead.diy-kitchen-finished-2I found a metallic acrylic paint at Michael’s for a couple of bucks and used that on the oven door.  I had to put about 10 coats of paint on it, but I like the finished product.diy-kitchen-finished-ovenI painted the inside of the oven door and oven black.  Hubby hammered a set of nails in there so I could put two cookie cooling racks inside as the shelves.diy-kitchen-finished-oven-insidediy-kitchen-finished-backI painted a large rectangle for the stovetop and then glued black Folgers plastic coffee lids on as the burners.  Hubby screwed more cabinet knobs for the controls.  They actually turn, which is a nice touch.  (He messed one of them up which is why it has that lovely red ring around it.)diy-kitchen-finished-stovetopI wanted something different for inside of the cabinet.  Turns out that when I purchased contact paper to line the drawers and shelves a few years back I had bought a marble-looking one.  Perfect!!!  I lined the bottoms of both the inside and open cabinet areas.diy-kitchen-finished-cabinet

diy-kitchen-finished-sink-holeThis microwave is probably my favorite part.  I found it a thrift shop for $3!  Not only does the lazy susan spin, but the buttons set the “timer” for different amounts of time, from 30 seconds to 3 minutes.  When time is up, it beeps to let you know it’s ready!diy-kitchen-finished-microwaveThen here’s the drop-leaf in action.diy-kitchen-finished-drop-leaf-upOut to provide ample room for cutting/chopping/preppingdiy-kitchen-finished-topThen folded down for easy storage.There are also hooks on the side to hang all of her pots and pans,diy-kitchen-pot-rackdiy-kitchen-finished-drop-leaf-downand on the front and drop leaf for an apron, pot holders and dishtowel.diy-kitchen-hooksAnd that’s it!  The finished product!
diy-kitchen-finishedWe were a bit worried about how it was going to go over Christmas morning.  Although the cost was minimal, Hubby and I spent A LOT of time and effort on the kitchen.  I was afraid she was going to open it and say “But I already have a kitchen!”.  Fortunately that isn’t what happened at all.
j-diy-kitchen-2After we were finished opening everything up she said that playing with her new kitchen “was going to be our family activity every single night”, which made us feel really good.
j-diy-kitchenOf course it was overshadowed a week later when my family arrived with a brand new Barbie Dream House in tow, but that’s okay.  She loved it at the time and still uses it.  Not as much as we were hoping for, but I think that’s because she’s out of her prime playing-pretend-kitchen phase.  We should’ve been a bit more motivated and cranked this out a Christmas or two ago.  Fortunately we have a few more kids planned in the future so that thing should be very well loved.

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Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

Our stuffed animal situation was out of control.  A few years back J was obsessed with stuffed animals, as most 2-3 year old girls are.  My ballpark is in the 100s (damn grandparents, always giving stuffed animals).  And it seemed like she needed to sleep with about half of them.  She went through a phase where we couldn’t even see her in her bed there was so much crap in there with her.stuffed-animals-8stuffed-animals-6They went everywhere with us.stuffed-animals-5Especially an-almost-J-sized-Elmo that I picked up at a yard sale for $2.  He’s a cross-dresser.
first-day-of-preschoolDuck was her other favorite.  He was with her from the time she was born until she stopped being obsessed.stuffed-animals-7stuffed-animals-4stuffed-animals-6They were her best friends.  She did everything with them.  We never went anywhere without at least one animal.  She was never lonely.stuffed-animals-1stuffed-animals-2stuffed-animals-3They have since been replaced by Princess Barbies.  I miss the stuffed animals.  They were fun and cute!  I can’t remember the last time 4 1/2 year old J has played with one.  Makes me sad 🙁

But I digress.  While she was in the height of her obsession they were everywhere.  Hubby and I agreed that we needed a solution…and fast.

Thus the Animal Jail.  Typically referred to as a more humane-sounding Animal Zooanimal-zooI instructed Hubby to build me one.  We move relatively often so we needed it light as possible, so he cut down how tall it is.  It’s about 3 1/2 feet, so tall enough to hold everything (barely!!) but short enough that J can actually throw stuff into it when she’s (supposedly) cleaning her room.

He’s the one who did the majority of the work so I don’t know exactly what he did.  As usual.  I just know he built the frame from wood pieces, drilled it together and then added the “bars”.  Instead of wooden dowel rods he used rope to contain the wild beasts.  He just used his staple gun to attach it.  Which I probably should have painted before he stapled the rope. Oh well.  diy-animal-jail-7Either way we would not be using rope again because it isn’t holding up well at all.  This side fell off and had to be reattached (months later since that’s how long it takes him to do a simple repair job).diy-animal-jail-6

And the bottom of this one pulled out as well.  That was approximately a year ago and it still looks like thisdiy-animal-jail-5

But as long as I shove the giant animals on that side they mostly stay in.

I would’ve preferred if he had used bungee cords instead like some other blogs I ran across while researching it, and suggested to him, several times, but he has to do things “his” way.  Which I would like to point out is never as good as other people’s way.  Sssh, don’t tell him I said that.  He’ll never build anything else for me ever again!

After he finished building it I painted it black.  We already had a bunch of black paint on hand and I figured I could make a sign to hang on the top that said “Animal Jail”.  We made this about 2 years ago and I still haven’t gotten around to that sign.  Whoops…

But it has done it’s job and done it well!  The stuffed animals are now safely locked away after receiving too many citations for disorderly conduct.  Ha. Ha. Ha.DIY-Animal-Jail

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Worth the wait. And the drive.

After our Saint Bernard Jack passed away unexpectedly our house was a sad place for awhile.saint-bernard

It was the first time in our married life (almost 9 years!!) that we didn’t have at least one dog roaming around.  Hubby wanted to get another dog immediately.  I wasn’t too keen on it–I needed time to grieve.  I didn’t want to replace him right away.  But a few days after Jack’s passing I came home with the kids after Hubby had just finished giving the house its weekly scrub down.  His eyes were all red, and when asked he said he must’ve gotten some cleaner in them.  Later, while the kids were taking their nap, he confessed that he had actually been crying.  Cleaning had depressed him because there weren’t any huge balls of Jackson fur or long strings of Jackson drool.  The house wasn’t destroyed 5 minutes after it was cleaned because the dirty dog walked across the floor.  I knew I needed to start my search right away.

I already knew that I wanted another Giant dog.  After our first dog together passed away a few years back, a Lab mix named Dutch, we I decided Jack was lonely and needed another dog.  Hubby put his foot down and said we were only going to own one dog over 100 pounds and I reluctantly agreed.  After a lot of research we finally decided on a Greyhound.  They seemed like the perfect breed for our family:  lazy, little shedding, calm, good with kids.  We applied to a rescue, were approved and picked up our retired racer.  Moody was 2 1/2 years old when we adopted him and a wonderful dog.greyhound-st-bernard

Except for one huge problem:  he peed in the house.  Constantly.  Not because he needed to, but, as we later realized, because he was stressed and/or pissed off at us.  A dog who doesn’t like change does not fit in well with a military family.  We did the best we could but after trying and trying for 2 and a half years, we finally had to return him to his rescue.  That was a year ago and I still feel like crap every time I think about it.  The only thing that got me through it was knowing that the dog wasn’t happy with our constantly changing lifestyle.  If he was happy he wouldn’t be peeing on everything.  It was what was best for him…he would’ve been miserable for the rest of his life if he had stayed with us.

The worst thing about giving Moody up was our daughter.  J LOVED Moody.  He didn’t drool or slobber; he was calm; he didn’t shed; he didn’t have stinky breath.  Basically he was the antitheses of Jackson (whom she disliked as much as she liked Moody).  greyhoundSo we did what any responsible parent would do:  we told her he died.  She did not take it well.

As horrible as it is to give a dog back to the rescue, we did learn a few valuable lessons.  One:  we need a dog who can accept change.  Who can move from one house to another without batting an eye.  Who can travel to our parents’ homes with us.  Who can go on vacation.  We like to take our dog(s) everywhere with us and we need a dog that wants to go.  Two:  I wanted a Giant dog.  Although Moody was a great dog, he didn’t have that dumb personality that Gentle Giants do.  The dum-da-dum-da-dum-da-dum running through their brain…and not much else.  But smart at the same time.  Plus there’s just something about a dog that weighs more than you do!  I don’t know, I can’t describe it.  I’m just a big dog girl.

So this was where we started to run into some problems.  Hubby wanted to look into some other breeds.  He really didn’t care what kind of dog we got at all…anything would do.  I, on the other hand, had something very specific in mind.  And it had to be at least 100 pounds.  I was on petfinder and adoptapet constantly.  I searched for giant rescues, St Bernard rescues, mastiff rescues, you name it, I looked.  At first I only applied to places that had a specific dog that I was interested in.  And then I realized that not only does it take 4-5 weeks just for the application to be processed, but we have a lot of red flags.

We have children under the age of 5.  Even though we’ve had dogs and children, and both at the same time, a lot of rescues won’t adopt out to families with young children at home.  Especially Giant breed dogs.

We’re military.  A lot of rescues are leery of adopting out dogs to military families.  This one I kind of understand.  There are way too many families out there who give their dog up the moment they move.  They don’t even try to find a place to live.  However, and this is a big however, we had our St. Bernard for seven years.  He lived in seven states with us.  The only time we had a major problem finding a place to rent that would allow a 165 pound dog we just bought a home instead.  Giving up a dog because we can’t find somewhere to live is not an option for us, and our past track record proves that.  So the places that declined our application for this reason really pissed me off.

We’ve given a dog back to a rescue.

By the time we reached 3 weeks without a dog, I just started applying to any type of large dog rescue figuring that on the off chance they received a dog we were interested in at least we’d already be approved.  5 weeks into the search I started broadening my horizons, thinking maybe I didn’t need a giant dog.  I started looking at Dalmatians, American Bulldogs, Catahoula Leopard Mixes…all kinds of stuff.  But nothing seemed to fit.  Nothing screamed “this is my dog”.  I just couldn’t own some tiny 90 pound dog (yes, I realize what I just said.  It’s the truth!!!!).

And then I saw this guy.neapolitan-mastiff-1

Oh my God that FACE!!!!!!!!!!  I had to have him.  A 2-3 year old male Neapolitan Mastiff named Roman.  I had already put an application into East Coast Gentle Giants, the rescue that had him; I was just waiting on my approval.  Which was fine, because he was new the rescue and still “under evaluation”.  Downside?  He was located in Troy, NY…8 hours from us.  And this particular rescue will not transport their dogs; you have to get them.  No exceptions.

And this was farther than Hubby was willing to travel.  He was a no-go.

So I continued my search.  But Roman was the only dog that I had seen anywhere that I just had to have.  Immediately.  I felt nothing for any of the other dogs.  At the 7 week mark we finally received the confirmation that we were approved to rescue from East Coast.  By this point Hubby and I were both dejected.  We didn’t think we would ever find a dog that we could both agree on.  After receiving the approval I showed him Roman’s picture again.  And this time he said, “You know what?  F*ck the 8 hours.  I want him too.”

And that was that.  2 weeks later we drove to Troy, NY and picked up our dog.neapolitan-mastiff-2

That was a month ago and we are still in love.  He is such a ham.  He loves to be with his people.  This is him his first and second day with us.  Things haven’t changed at all.neapolitan-mastiff-8neapolitan-mastiff-3

And the third night he’s on the coffee table because that was the “fastest” way to get from Hubby to myself–over the coffee table.  He was stuck up there for about 5 minutes before the chicken sh*t would jump off.neapolitan-mastiff-7

And this is where I find him every day when I come back to the house after leaving for a bit.  Curled up in a tiny ball on “his” chair.neapolitan-mastiff-4

He is the perfect dog for us.  He’s tough as nails and nothing the kids (or us) do to him bothers him in the slightest.  He is super smart.  We had a dog trainer come out for a private lesson and within 10 minutes he learned all kinds of commands.  We’re taking him to obedience school and he has made lightyears of progress.  He’s lazy.  He doesn’t shed.  He doesn’t smell.  He’s sweet.  He’s big enough for me (he’s currently 115 pounds but is about 20-30 pounds underweight so he’s nearly perfect 😉 ).  He’s a family dog.

We picked him up two days after my son’s first birthday and we couldn’t have gotten C a better birthday present.  He loves that dog and that dog loves him.  neapolitan-mastiff-5Especially at mealtime.  neapolitan-mastiff-10

The only problem?  J.  I don’t know if you noticed in the picture from the day we picked him up from his foster family, but she wasn’t too keen on him.  And still isn’t.neapolitan-mastiff-6

Part of it is jealousy.  It’s yet another thing that’s taking attention away from her.  (She was an only child for waaaaaaaay too long!).  And since he’s such a big guy on family, he always wants to be in the middle of the action.  Especially when we’re sitting on the couch or playing on the floor.  Another big part of it is how drooly he is.  She hates dog kisses.  And although Roman doesn’t dole out kisses, he has a constant string of drool running from his from his mouth.  Like a long disgusting one.  It even grosses me out.  She’s starting to do a bit better…I think we’ve moved from hatred to dislike…that’s progress….right?!

Not only did we end up with the perfect dog, but I discovered something else.   Once Hubby is out of the army and we’re settled somewhere I want to start a rescue.  A rescue that doesn’t immediately discriminate from a family because of a line on an adoption application.  A rescue that will at least talk to the family before rejecting them.  We turned in 20 dog applications and were only approved by 2 rescues.  What is that?!  People preach and preach about rescuing a dog and not going to a breeder, but when it’s that difficult to adopt a dog no wonder people get discouraged and go a different route!  We were dead set against a puppy and 100% positive that we were going to adopt, but around the 6 week mark we were so discouraged that we started considering it.  And we are great dog owners.  We should not have had this many problems finding a dog.  And I’m going to make sure that there’s at least one rescue out there that doesn’t discriminate against people for the silliest things.  Someday.

We were so frustrated by the search and felt so depressed and rejected…but it was all for a reason.  It was because he was waiting for us.  Now our family is whole again.neapolitan-mastiff-11

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All 13 Disney Princesses. In Felt.

We were about to embark on a ridiculously long car ride.  C was days away from turning one and since we’re currently only 5 1/2 hours from home (and this will probably be the closest we’d be for awhile) I figured I would do his 1st birthday party at home so the family could all attend (read about his awesome dog themed birthday party here!).  And then after searching for months we finally found a rescue that was willing to give us a new dog after our Saint, Jack, passed away.  The downside?  He was located in upstate New York and they wouldn’t transport him.  So we decided to combine the two trips.  5 1/2 hours to my hometown on Thursday, 5 hours to Troy, NY Sunday morning and 8 hours on Monday back down to our home.  That’s a lot of car time for a 1 and 4 year old.  Especially when I’m ridiculously anal about screen time and won’t allow my daughter to watch more than one DVD or play 30 min on her Leappad per 2+ hour car ride.

I had just finished my Cinderella felt people and I wanted to get one more set done before we left so she would have that to help keep her occupied in the car (which worked like a charm, FYI.  Totally worth the days and days and days and days and days and days and days and days and days…where was I?  Oh…days and days and days of nap time).  I gave her a choice:  either all of the just the princesses or the cast of Snow White.  She went for just princesses.

You can see my “Another Monster Project” blog entry for specific details on how I made them.  Basically I made a template for each princess, used the Print and Cut feature on my Silhouette to cut out the outfit pattern pieces, hand cut the pieces from felt and hot glued the teeny tiny clothing onto felt bodies.  No biggie 😉

For most of my princesses I used Continually Creative‘s templates that she has posted on her blog for a princess duvet she made for her daughter.  They were extremely helpful.

Cinderella was already made.  Only 12 left!felt-disney-princesses-cinderellaAurorafelt-disney-princesses-auroraSnow Whitefelt-disney-princesses-snow-whiteBellefelt-disney-princesses-belleRapunzelfelt-disney-princesses-rapunzelMeridafelt-disney-princesses-meridaTianafelt-disney-princesses-tianaJasminefelt-disney-princesses-jasmineMulan (although I didn’t actually end up using her Mulan pattern since that dress was a lot different from the one I wanted.  I just made Mulan up on the fly by looking at pictures of her).felt-disney-princesses-mulanand Ariel.felt-disney-princesses-arielContinually Creative didn’t have a pattern for Pocahontas.  Her dress is super simple though, so I was able to just throw it together on my own by eyeballing a picture of her.  Her hair used to be longer but somehow one of the sides ripped/fell off so I had to give her a trim.  Oh well.felt-disney-princesses-pocahontasContinually Creative also didn’t have a pattern for Anna or Elsa (she made her duvet in 2013 before FROZEN–I always feel the title needs to be shouted).  Fortunately I found a Portuguese blogger who makes Anna and Elsa dolls.  I used her templates for their hair and clothing.felt-disney-princesses-elsafelt-disney-princesses-annaHere are some screenshots of the templates I made on my Silhouette Studio program in case those are helpful.silhouette-studio-screenshot-felt-princesses-2 silhouette-studio-screenshot-felt-princesses-1

Last but not least, I figured a castle would be helpful.  After all, they need somewhere to live!  I found a simple template on Google Images, saved it to my computer, opened it up in the Studio program, sized it, used the print and cut feature to cut out the pattern for me, hand cut it out of felt and hot glued it all together!  Hands down the easiest part of this entire process.felt-princess-castle

And that’s it!  Once I made the templates (which is definitely the most time-consuming part; that in and of itself was about a weeks worth of nap times), the gals only took 3 or 4 nap times to make, with a few last-minute mornings added in to ensure I was finished before we left.  The castle was just 2 nap times!

And all of that hard work definitely paid off–not only did she play with it during all 3 car rides, she also played with it at my father’s house and at the hotel.  And she’s had it for over a month now and plays with it nearly every day during quiet time!  In fact, that’s what she’s in there doing right now 😀

Now I need to get cracking on the other 12 stories…