Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Our secret little project...

...did you think it was a baby??? I bet you did. Anyway, no babies. But we do have a secret project,

 We (and by we I do mean my father with a a lot of help from me) made Margot a toy kitchen!
Margot turned two over the weekend, still not sure how that happened, and to surprise her my Dad and I cooked up (ha ha) her own custom toy kitchen. 

The best part of this is that we got almost all of the materials from Bring Recycling. I have been looking at toy kitchens since she turned one. I knew I wanted a wood one and with the exception of the Ikea toy kitchen the prices are outrageous. Then I started to see several blog posts about homemade toy kitchens. The easiest option seemed to be converting a cabinet into a kitchen which was where we started. 
This one took about 5 trips to BRING to find the pieces and 12 hours to put together. We started with a rough plan but it really evolved as we worked on it. We worked several evenings after Margot was in bed. 

Initially I thought we'd paint the cabinet and then paint the counter another color. I also thought we'd just have a 2-3 inch high back splash. But when we laid the pine board on top of the used stained counter we loved the contrast of wood colors and grains so we decided to just stain the pine with teak oil to give it a slight finish. The toy dishes are actually vintage 1950's toy dishes that I found on ebay. And in case you couldn't tell from the above photo the oven has a working light!

So here's how it came together (roughly):
  1. Once we gathered our parts we built measured Margot and our cabinet and figured out that we needed to add additional height to get to our desired 22 inches tall. We started buy building the base or kick board that the cabinet sits on.
  2. We rotated the hinges on the "oven" side of the cabinet and adhered the two doors with a thin board and some screws to make two cabinet doors into one oven door. 
  3. We built anchors and a shelf for the cabinet side, side walls separating the cabinet from oven and closing in the oven and found an oven rack.
  4. We built a riser to go between the cabinet and the counter top
  5. Used a jig saw to cut the space into the counter top for the bowl and then cut smaller holes for the faucet 
  6. put grooved tracks in the counter to hold the burner grates in place
  7. placed screws, which we trimmed with bolt cutters to not be sharp, to hold burner knobs
  8. stained the base, riser and counter top/backslash with teak oil, used wood filler to fill holes in cabinet then treated it with teak oil
  9. waxed all the wood with beeswax
  10. assembled
  11. painted burner plates black
  12. added hardware
  13. installed light
  14. arranged kitchen accessories
Margot LOVES her toy kitchen and so far it's providing hours of entertainment. It's still lingering in our living room from the party but will make it's way into the kitchen soon I think.

Now you know why we've been lagging so much on house projects. Toy making is time consuming work my friends!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Until now our downstairs has been kind of a holding area, a dumping ground and a dark scary space that I avoid after dark. It's so time to change that. Saturday my over sized rugs arrived and Thursday I'm getting a big on some painting. We have realized that while it's all well and good to paint smaller spaces like bedrooms, hall closets (update soon I hope) and the kitchen, painting our enormous great rooms ourselves might just be more than we can do with two full time jobs and a toddler underfoot. And since we want to get a professional bid on our kitchen cabinets we are just going to price out those bigger spaces at the same time. Painting will allow us to get our giant book shelf bolted to the wall. To unpack the rest of our boxes down there and to arrange our furniture. In the short term this space will be furnished with a hodge podge of hand-me-down furniture. But in the long run I'd love for this space to be a mid-century poster child. Unlike the upstairs which has those traditional elements such as the marble slap fireplace, the downstairs is a blank canvass. And sans rose carpet it can handle more color, angles and I think some bolder design choices. On this vein I'm loving some of the furniture at Urban outfitters right now. In the end we will look for used pieces but for Tuesday morning inspiration check out some of this furniture:

draper media console

night and day convertible sofa

Charlotte sofa

modern chair

dragmar chair

danish modern coffee table

Friday, November 8, 2013

Something Iconic

So yesterday I waxed on a bit about the need to not be materialistic and today I'm going to talk about some of the great stuff I've bought. I's very ironic.

Perhaps it's no surprise but the two most "together" rooms in our house are the living room and Margot's bedroom. Both rooms we use A LOT and both are rooms where we have added new furniture. But I think what sets these two rooms apart is that they both do a nice job of incorporating things we had with some iconic new pieces. Our house is funny. It is a very early mid-century modern and while aspects of it are classic examples of mid-century modern design there are still some traditional elements lingering. We are trying to bring out those mid-century elements with some furniture but in a way that works with the traditional elements we have, like that sage marble slab in the fire place. 
 I love the way our living room is coming together. I was so worried before we moved that our stuff would just look bad in here. That salmony-pink-rose-colored carpet had me all kinds of freaked out. But the yellows and oranges we had actually work well with the carpet.
In this room we brought with us the two yellow patterned chairs, the white couch, the little vanity chair and the ceder chest behind the couch, as well as the photos, blanket, pillows and toys. All of it works. But what we've added I think really makes this space. I found the two little teak TV tray tables and the coffee table at a furniture liquidator store and was able to get all three pieces for $75.

 The gold lamp was my most recent purchase. I found it at a local antique store and was able to talk them down to $120 (original price was $175). And the cadenza, which is not in perfect condition, was a steal at $95. I stalked it for months as they kept lowering the price. All of this furniture was used, is somewhat period appropriate for the house and brings out the honey teak/oak wood tones in our doors, which I think contrast nicely with the darker walnut baseboards and fire place. I think all of the warm wood brings out the warmth in the carpet and makes what could be a large cavernous space into a very warm and inviting space. And the iconic style of both the cradenza and the lamp (which I know is circa the 1960's not 1950's) help to highlight the mid-century architecture already going on in this room.

 Best of all. Every single one of the pieces was used and reasonably affordable. It's come a long way from where we started. 
Even from where we were a month ago.

There is still a lot we'd like to do in here. Namely paint! I also am not convinced I like the configuration of art on the mantel, I'm always tweaking what's on the coffee table and I have mixed feelings about the pillows. So I'm sure it's a space that will continue to evolve. In the meantime at least it's furnished which is more than we can say about several rooms in our house.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


From time to time the need arises to stop and examine certain values. I suppose for me this is particularly true surrounding certain life changes. I know I referenced some new goals when we moved into our house but these are small things, doing the dishes, walking more, waking up early. I mean the big things our values, beliefs and priorities. 

For years now reading blogs and remembering these goals and values has been a constant challenge. I don't watch a lot of TV and the TV I do watch is without commercials and I read very little magazines so most of my media is coming from blogs. They are the place I learn what is "in", new products, ideas and often they cultivate wants. This isn't to say I don't want to read blogs or that they are inherently bad. But it presents some challenge and will power to not be overly swayed by the plethora of pretty things that fill my RSS feed on a daily basis. 

This is particularly true in this season we are in. A new and bigger house creates a lot of temptation to buy. But our values are still there, though perhaps after almost three months of acquiring and still not organizing, they need to be pulled out and dusted off. Examination may just be in order. 

So what are these values?
  • That our life include time and space for the people and communities that matter: volunteering, developing careers and making new friends are all well and good as long as they aren't detracting from our focus on each other, Margot, our family and church community
  • To be financially sound, frugal and giving with our resources: just because we have the money doesn't mean we should spend it especially since we are still working to pay of law school loans. As my grandmother would say, frugality my friends, is a virtue
  • To be stewards of our environment: this is really important to us especially as we turn to large purchases such as furniture. Always trying to buy used first, limiting unnecessary consumerism, and being mindful of the materials and substances we put in our home and near our family.
  • Good Food, local and sustainable food and healthy food. We are family that loves food. We love to cook and eat. While we strive for frugality in many areas we want to allow for spending in the areas that are really important to our family. For us this means buying good, local organic whole foods that are healthy and delicious.
I'm not sure why this is on my mind so much today. Maybe it's the transition into the holiday season? Maybe it's that we bought our 8th piece of furniture in 3 months or maybe it's looking ahead to a new year. Regardless, I never want to convey on my blog that a home requires stuff. I hope rather to convey that loving a home, being a family in a home and being creative with the resources you do have are what makes it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Belated Halloween Fun

We had so much fun this year with Margot on Halloween. She wanted to dress up like Minnie Mouse and so I made her a red polka dot pleated jumper to wear over her black leggings and white shirt. Then I found the Minnie Mouse hat online. I wish I'd done a better job documenting her costume as I made it but alas being the night before Halloween and past 10 pm I was just lucky to finish it.

This was her first year trick-or-treating and she loved it! We went with the neighbors and she really mastered "trick-or-treat" and "Happy Halloween".

And now she is ecstatic for the next exciting thing on the calender...her 2nd birthday!