Category Archives: Kids

For a king & a fairy princess

My last post got me a bit motivated to move things along another step in the kids bedroom. Actually it was less that, than the fact Miss E’s feet were hanging over the end of her toddler bed – a sure sign she was ready for a “proper big bed”!

So the last couple of weekends have been about furniture shuffling and a little shelf install. Fun times!

And version 4.6 of the kids room is…. here! And today it is tidy, which is as good as you’ll ever get from me. Styling to perfection is not going to happen despite my best intentions. So that creepy dark thing on the wall? It’s not a giant bug – it’s a peacock feather which looks perfectly charming in reality, it just doesn’t photograph well (or look particularly harmless in the middle of the night!).

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Here’s how it looks from the lofty heights of King W’s bed (a bit scary to be honest when I’m up there making the bed, but he’s fine with it!):

And here’s my little fairy princess doing her best to untidy the room (which I totally am ok with because it tells me she loves hanging out in here!), and she’s super excited that Version 4.7 gets underway tomorrow with a “princess bed” pick up planned.

0925_7105Let’s hope she can hold that excitement for a while, because Mum’s gone and bought yet another thing that requires some Daddy DIY to get it functional. Stand by kings and princesses!


Growing room

Our current project-du-jour (the master bedroom makeover) isn’t providing many photo-worthy opportunities just yet, so for today’s post we’re going back to the kids bedroom one last time.

A couple of months ago it was all about the layered look we seem to have stumbled upon in there, and then last month I shared a quick DIY curtain project. So the final piece in the puzzle is changing out the cot for a toddler bed. Miss E was happy enough in her cot, but we felt she was ready for the bed, and we needed every bit of space we could get in the spare room (where we’ve moved while our master bedroom gets trashed!).

So while her cot is packed down and standing in the corner of our lounge, the kids bedroom is looking a little more spacious, and colourful and fun and cosy!

0529_0699 0529_0704 0529_0705 0529_0706 0529_1221 0529_1222And doesn’t Miss E look so sweet but tiny snuggled up with her special bedtime bunny in her new bed. Altogether now: Awwwwwww!



I did get a little sentimental packing up the cot – it’s a very definite end to the baby era – but I’m excited for the freedom that comes with the short time between babyhood and settling into school life.

We have a long weekend coming up, and plans to get some plastering underway. Of course if all goes to plan I’ll have photos to share next week!

Until then, adieu x


Easter eggs and DIY

I’m in a pretty good mood today! Here in NZ we are almost beginning the best (longest) weekend of the year with Friday and Monday included in our Easter weekend, and this year it’s followed by Anzac Day next Friday and therefore another long weekend! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

We feel pretty satisfied with the away holidays we had in January and February this year so we’re making the most of these coming weekends at home. And yes I have a list of renovation jobs that’s pretty looong. Here’s hoping we can cross off a few things!

But first, an Easter egg card, with much thought and love from Master W.


I’m guessing by the end of the weekend he should know his Easter eggs from his fried eggs?!

Here are a few things I’m reading today, then I’ll be back next week with a whole lotta progress (I hope!). Have a fabulous Easter weekend (whether you choose to holiday or DIY), and good luck with finding a stash of the right kind of Easter eggs!

– A bedroom makeover on sfgirlbybay

– 5 tips for evaluating a business idea on A Beautiful Mess

– 10 ways to make cheap wardrobes look more expensive on Apartment Therapy

– 3 tips for styling an entryway on A Beautiful Mess

– A California house tour on A Cup of Jo

– The Perfect Carrot Cake on Made from Scratch


Swinging around

This last weekend we had little time for getting the deck pergola started. But the kids got lucky with a 15 minute project that we easily found time for.


Master W has long since outgrown the swing that we all love, and Miss E is finding it a tight squeeze to get in and out now too.

So while I was out and about last week I stopped by a repair shop and asked about getting a tyre. As it turns out, they have to pay to dispose of them, so it was no problem for me to just help myself to one.

A quick scrub with some soapy water and a brush, and it was ready and waiting for a man with a plan. My plan was to tie some rope around and hang it in a tree, but Andre had a better idea. Maybe he just wanted to involve fire and power tools? I don’t know, but it’s a good thing he did, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

So, first up. Get out the drill. After drilling the first hole, we got a tape measure and then marked up two more drill holes all equal distance apart.


We used some rope we had in the garage, and on the previous crate swing so this was a no cost project for us. We like those!
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A simple knot on the end, and repeat another two times…0325_0063


To keep things clean and dry Andre also drilled a few holes around the bottom side to let any rain water drain right on out.


And with that it was all ready to hang in the tree.0325_0098

These are the two eye bolts we fixed into the tree for the first swing. You can see how (as per our research that time) the tree has just grown around the bolt, and is much happier than if we’d just tied a rope around and ring-barked it.0325_0062We only need one hanging point for this swing, but it’s nice to leave the other bolt in for swing 1.3 at some point in the future!

So with all three ropes threaded through the eye of the bolt, the hardest part of the whole project was getting them tied off with the swing sitting level. Kids keen to jump on already and wife calling out “that’s not level!” were no help apparently!

But before things got too grumpy it was all done and has hardly stopped swinging since!0325_0112 0325_0122

Now here’s why this way up is much better for our (younger) kids than my idea of hanging it vertically with a single rope tied around it (like this one, which is maybe better for older kids).

1. Multiple kids can sit on it at once (we’ve only tested it so far with two, but I can see three times that number having a ball on it!)

2. It’s a more comfy seat than wedged over the inner gap

3. Having ropes to hold is easier for littlies than trying to hold the tyre itself

4. This is the biggie… the kids can climb on it and push it themselves with their feet, then tuck them up on the inside to swing – even Miss E!

Their favourite way to “swing” is to twist it around and around then shriek madly that they want to hop off as it unwinds and spins them back the other way!

With this, the sandpit, and the gorgeous warm weather holding, the kids are spending lots of time outside, which is always a good thing!

Have a lovely week…

Party time

Happy Anniversary to you Auckland! Isn’t it the best feeling to go to bed on Sunday night and know the start of the week can be put off for another day?!

We began our long weekend with a party for Miss E, and the “maiden event” for our new deck. Can you believe this little poppet is nearly two already?!

Her favourite song at the moment is Incy Wincy Spider, so I had some fun with spiders, sunshine, rain and a drain pipe… The best thing? One look at her cake and she said “Incy Wincy!” Always a relief when they recognise the cake for what it is (meant to be!).

0127_MissE party

A couple of months ago, we also celebrated Master W’s 4th birthday. It was the most enjoyable kids party we’ve held to date, because the birthday boy was old enough to get it, and to appreciate that all the fuss was for him! And, we had it at our favourite local park so all the mess was just packed away into a rubbish bag and we were done!

0127_MasterW party

Apologies for sporadic posting once again… I have plans for a great big DIY style post and summary of our reno project to date. It’s forming in my head at the moment, and I’ll get to the writing bit real soon ok?!

Now I’m off to procrastinate some more put a second coat of paint on the frame of our deck screen.



Our Kids DIY Play Kitchen – how it happened

After last weeks reveal of the super-amazing-and-fabulous play kitchen we DIY’ed for the kids Christmas present, I’ve got a little run down of the process for you, along with what we spent.


First up, I sanded the bedside cabinet (repurposed from our master bedroom) before Andre started measuring and cutting the benchtop, doors etc.



Note: Safety jandals – check! (Although I opted to forgo the socks with mine…)0108_8858

Andre also made those cute knobs by gluing some square dowel to a hole-sawed round of MDF. Then, round dowel was glued to the back for fixing purposes (more later).

We were a little puzzled as to how to do the legs without spending a stack on large diameter dowel, but then I thought of those old screw in bed legs… hmm! I was lucky to find a set of 4 at the local hospice shop for only $8. It was a bit trickier to cut them straight, because they’re tapered, but Andre did awesome!


While he was busy with that, I polished up the gorgeous old tap ($5!) from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.


The oven door required a jig and a router late one night, to cut an opening, and then a recess to glue a piece of perspex in behind. I’m so glad for this extra effort as it looks just like the real thing!


Then, Andre fixed the benchtop to the cabinet with vice grips to cut the sink and tap holes, ensuring they were perfectly in line.


0108_8869Once all the bits were cut I sanded, primed and painted my heart out.


The interior of the oven we painted black for realistic purposes. It looks pretty shiny and streaky here but dried matt and looks fabulous.0108_8880

It started to get exciting (rather than just plain stressful!) when we got to the details like the clock, and the oven and stove knobs. 6.05pm? That’s the time I aim to have dinner in front of the kids most nights (because whoever makes it by 6pm on the dot??), so it seemed as good as any time to pick!0108_2215
The knobs are painted black and silver to match the ones we have in our real kitchen.

0108_8886Here’s how things were looking by around 8.00pm on Christmas Eve. Master W was in bed and the legs were screwed on so we could bring it inside to work on the “finishing” touches.

The legs were just screwed through the bottom of the cabinet… I think these are hex screws??0108_8883

Those legs… they were stained/varnished with a red tinge, which I’m not so fond of. So I did my best to sand them, but gave up after a few tries as it was pretty difficult sanding something so small, round and well varnished just with sand paper. They look a little rough close up, but the overall effect is fine, and at least the colour is toned down. They add to the character and are a nice contrast to the freshly painted cabinet!

From this point, the benchtop was screwed on (up through the top of the cabinet), the sink bowl glued in and the tap fixed. Here Andre is placing the stainless steel base of the stove in place, after gluing the back of it with Maxbond. (Then we did the same with the “elements”, gluing them on top of the stainless.)

0108_8898This is how the mad dash to the finish looked at one point. (Be grateful I cropped this one off the end of the kitchen so you couldn’t see evidence of my chocolate truffle making session everywhere, along with the days dishes stacked on every available bench space.) Andre is attaching the magnetic door catches, after fixing the doors on and attaching the oven handle, clock and knobs.

0108_8905 0108_8903This is how he fixed the knobs in, so that they turn and feel like real working knobs. He drilled right through the stove top/benchtop/cabinet so the “stick” of the knob fits right through. Then he drilled through the dowel-stick, right at the top, and tied some thin wire through it to keep it in place, along with a washer to keep things running smoothly. Clever!

So things do get a bit ugly on the inside, but I’m not trying to hide the workings of this or how sometimes repurposing means less than perfect!

You can see below how we had to cut into the “shelf” of the cabinet (now wall between the oven and cupboard) in order to fit the sink bowl in a place that made sense from the outside.

Also, you can see the simple door stay Andre made with screws, washers and some nylon cord, so both the oven door, and the cupboard door can’t be opened too far and the hinges busted.

There was a last minute addition of a couple of layers of paper over the magnetic catches on each door, as they are pretty grunty, and too strong for the kids to pull open. Thankfully, Miss E got curious the other day and pulled that green paper off, so it’s now been replaced with white. Still a make-do solution, but better than green!

0108_9179One last view of the workings! We opted for this fold-down benchtop, allowing for more bench space, but when it’s lowered it keeps the kitchen nice and compact. It also means there is one more “thing to do” for the kids, once they figure it out. I can see this benchtop getting put up and down many times in a day!
I’ll be honest, and admit there are two things still to do on this kitchen. One is to repaint the bracket in the picture above (it had to be planed a mm or so thinner somewhere around 11pm Christmas Eve, so we lost one side of the painted finish). And we also want to add a shelf into the pantry so there is a little more useful storage. Easy…

I also have plans for some kind of shelving unit for the wall above (for now I’ve just made a mini gallery of the kids art and photos of their friends) to store plates and cups and some decorative pieces. Watch this space!

Now for the cost breakdown. This was a little scary for me to do, because although we really did our best to thrift on this one, I knew that little by little all those few dollars were adding up to something quite different than our cheapest kids project!

So here goes:

– Main cabinet $0 – had already
– Oven racks (cooling racks) $7.00 – Briscoes
– 6mm round dowel for knobs $1.55 – Bunnings
– 10mm square dowel $3 – Bunnings
– 12mm 1200x600mm MDF $14.29 – Mitre 10
– 4.75mm 1200x600mm MDF $6.98 – Mitre 10
– Wooden legs $8 – Hospice shop
– Tap $5 – Restore shop
– Oak benchtop $0 – had already
– Stainless bowl $10 – Briscoes
– Stainless stove base $0 – S.J. Crosbie (these guys were so helpful – I rang to see if they’d have a scrap piece of stainless we could cut to size, but they did it all for me, rounding the corners and all… for nothing. Nice!)

Hardware etc:
– Oven handle $19.77 – Mitre 10
– Hooks for tea towels (robe hooks) $8.66 – Mitre 10
– Cupboard handle $0 – had already
– Nylon cord as oven/cupboard door stay $0.79 – Bunnings
– Magnetic catches $8.46 – Bunnings
– Hinges $13.14 – Bunnings
– Washers & screws $15.96 – Bunnings (multipacks so many of these will be saved for future projects)

Paint etc:
– Maxbond glue $7.65 – Bunnings
– MDF primer $0 – had already
– White Aquanamel $0 – had already
– Black $0 – had already
– Silver $0 – had already
– Cabots timber varnish $0 – had already

Total: $122.60

I didn’t keep a record of the time spent, but I’d estimate it at around 15-18hrs between Andre and I. There was little opportunity to work on this in any solid patches of time, due to busy schedules in the run up to Christmas, and also because there was the obligatory waiting time between paint coats. But the main reason for snatched half hours or hours over a couple of weeks was because this project had to be fitted in around kids (Master W at least) being out of “spoiling the surprise’s” way.

For the same reason, all of the components were completed individually before we put anything together. There was nothing glued or screwed or hinged together until after Master W went to bed on Christmas Eve. Even the tap and bowl sink (total giveaways!) were last minute additions too. Hence it was 1am before we could lay this kitchen to rest (until its discovery in the morning, then it was all go with gourmet meals coming as fast as we could “eat” them!) alongside the Christmas tree.

So this project was no money or time saver – we could have done what most sensible parents do, and gone to buy an off the shelf version for around the same price as we spent anyway. Then our Christmas eve would have been spent as it should – partaking merrily and inhaling pine fumes instead of paint fumes!

But the feeling of satisfaction in seeing something like this come together (especially at the last minute because you’ve not seen all the components together and don’t know if it’s all going to work!) is worth it. And for Andre, there’s not a small amount of pride to be felt – he continues to amaze me with how well he can execute the ideas I have! Not only that, it’s something that fits into our home easily with a style and colour scheme that can’t be bought off the shelf. I also like to think the kids appreciate it a little more, knowing that we made it especially for them. Too much?!

Our DIY Kids Play Kitchen


As promised, I’m back with the big play kitchen reveal! Today I’ll stick with lots of pictures and a few words, all about the finished project, and next up I’ll be back with the big lowdown on how we got it made, and what it cost us in time and money. I need some more time to get my brain back into a higher gear for that one!

I’ve been sketching plans for this little kitchen for over a year now, and have had dibs on the bedside cabinets (which Andre built many years ago) in our master bedroom for conversion purposes.


Initially my plans were rather grand, and included everything a kitchen needs, using both the cabinets. But thankfully Andre was able to talk me down and we eventually settled on a mini kitchen, using just one of the cabinets.

We flipped it on it’s side, see?


There was a lot of sanding, painting, trawling second hand shops and Bunnings, cajoling of the husband, and admittedly, lying to Master W. “Oh Daddy is just working on my shelves again. They’re taking a long time aren’t they?” But by 1am on Christmas morning, we threw the towel in on and called it done!


And here it is:


0108_9190 0108_9188 0108_9176 0108_9175 0108_9173

From that very first grin on taking the towel away (top photo) to today, the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. They love it! And we all dined on pretend omelette on Christmas morning!

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I’ll be back with details real soon… just off to grab another spoonful of the “tuna yoghurt” Miss E whipped up last night. Mmm mmmm!

A table for two

I’m excited to show you this latest project! I hinted at another laminated timber project in my post about our kitchen shelves last week, and I also mentioned some more Mocka products coming to our house when I showed you the coat hanger in the kids room.

So, this is what we’ve been up to. (And this is where I warn you that not only are there rather a lot of photos, but I got carried away with words a bit too. I did say I was excited…)

1118_8532My parents bought the Mocka stools for Master W’s recent birthday, and I initially planned to cut the legs down so they could be used under our coffee table. But because that sits on our precious rug, I knew it wasn’t the smartest idea.

I’ve been reluctant about bringing in an unnecessary piece of furniture like a table and chair set for the kids, because while our less than 100 sqm house is huge by some standards, the first world way we live in NZ does mean I’m constantly culling things to keep clutter free.  But… with kids slowly becoming interested in drawing and art projects, a broken chair which made my brain go “hmmm… what can I do with this?” and the arrival of the stools… I nudged our dining table over a little and made room!

1118_8531A few months ago, one of our dining chairs gave way completely (happens when you buy the cheapest replica Eames chairs you’ve ever come across) and the seat detached right off of the base. It sat miserably in the corner for a while before I gave up on it and banished it to waste away next to the rubbish bins outside.

Some weeks later Andre managed to actually cram it into the bin, and out it went.

Or so we thought.

One Wednesday morning a few weeks ago I rung Andre in a slight panic… “what did you do with that broken chair base??!” “Oh I chucked it in the rubbish, that’s what you wanted?” “Which rubbish? Is it still there? Did you put it in the rubbish at work? Can you check if it’s still there?” “I put it in our rubbish bin”.

Picture me dropping the phone and running right out the back door. It was rubbish day.

Andre’s dad turned up to work on the deck just as I was ferretting through the bin out by the road, but he’s getting used to my ideas, and probably wasn’t even surprised to see my grin as I rescued the chair base from the depths of the bin.

4 minutes later… repeat… F O U R minutes later and the kids are racing to the window to watch the rubbish truck come by and empty the very bin that had this chair base in.

This project very nearly didn’t happen!

But it did. And here’s how:

1118_8432The way the brackets sat on the chair base meant it wasn’t level (a slight backwards slope is good for comfy seats, but not so good for a table to be) so I started with disassembling it. Meanwhile, Andre glued (laminated if you want to be fancy) a couple of pieces of old oak headboards together, which we already had in the garage.

1118_8425Because I wasn’t sure how we were going to put the base all back together at this point, I saved all my nuts and bolts.


This is how the brackets sat on top of the legs in its first life as a chair.1118_8437But thankfully I have a husband who is both a handyman and happy to go along with his wife’s ideas (mostly!). So he refashioned those brackets into something more simple, that we could attach a level table top to.

1118_8441And then I repainted them with some matt black spray paint that we already had.

1118_8442While the glue was curing on the table top, and the paint drying on the brackets, we mocked up a couple of sizes of top using some cardboard, and swapped them back and forth while we decided whether 600mm diameter or 700mm was best.

1118_84621118_8456This photo is here for no other reason than it’s cute factor… chubby legs and hands that still have dimples – aww!

1118_8458Back to the table. We decided to cut it at 650mm, because sometimes right in the middle is best. I’m not sure why there are multiple circle lines here, but it didn’t bode well for what happened next…

1118_8470On the advice of his dad Andre first cut out the top with the jigsaw, leaving a couple of millimetres (you can just see this in the photo above). Then he set up the router attached to a jig, and with me holding tightly to the table top, he ran the router around to evenly trim off those extra millimetres. However, it was one of those days… and as I tried to turn the top as Andre worked his way around with the router, I lost my grip and the router went mad.

This is the damage, trimmed off by a second go with the jigsaw.

1118_8469Because I was sulking inside, and because clamps were a better bet anyway, Andre gave the router another go without me.

1118_8477I got over the fact that we were back to nearer 600mm diameter (luckily without any injuries) and got to sanding. There’s something pleasant about sanding nice timber (picture me stroking it smooth!), despite the dust.

1118_1974Then the kids helped with wiping down the dusty top with damp cloths when I’d finished. But that seemed to roughen up the grain a little, so I gave it another sanding with a very fine grit, and then just brushed it down rather than wiping with a cloth.

1118_19781118_8507A few coats top and bottom with Cabot’s Cabothane Clear varnish (leftover from the kitchen shelves) and then I handed back to Andre to attach the top to the legs.

1118_8524We needed the top to sit a bit higher than the base allowed for, so it gets a little ugly with a small slab of leftover timber from the deck. Thankfully it’s hidden from view to all but crawling babies so it’s fine. Sorry crawling babies.

1118_8527Flipped over the right way we soon saw it wasn’t quite level, so a couple of well placed washers sorted it out…

1118_8540 …And we called it done!

We are not entirely sure about three different types of timber all in such close quarters, so a suggestion box is currently open. So far it holds “paint the table legs white?” and “crochet some seat covers?” but for now the box remains open, while we have other priorities.

1118_85301118_8535This is the crawling baby view.1118_8538But adults and bigger small people get to see the wider view…1118_8536…including that awesome deck that we’re already enjoying when kids are safely in bed and unable to fall over the edge. Screens and balustrades are coming…!

But this table is excitement enough for now. It was free! Entirely made from things we already had, and already it’s the kids favourite place for morning teas and drawing. A perfect project!

Small spaces: The sweetest nursery

This is not what I had in mind to share this morning but in my search for what I did have in mind, I came across this cutest little nursery yet again. So this is it folks. Mega inspiration for a little one’s space, if you have the need, or there is loads of ideas that would work equally well in a grown ups space.

I’ve seen this a few times around the blog world, a few weeks ago over at Fancy, and this morning, at Apartment Therapy. But The Beetleshack is where it originates from.

This little space is proof that you can just fill a room with the loveliest of things and even though they don’t “match” they come together to create a cohesive look that just feels so homely.

Having both my boy and girl sharing a bedroom I also appreciate seeing kids spaces that are neither bland nor super-girly or made just for a boy. This Beetleshack nursery could quite happily accommodate either – and rightly so, because as far as I can tell, baby Beetleshack’s gender was unknown at the time.

My favourite things in the room are the vintage mirror (surprise, surprise!) and the little yellow painted cane stool/side table. If you’re up for some shopping to get the look, there’s a source list over at the Beetleshack (just had to write it one more time – awesome name!).

Picture hanging by Lego Duplo level

0813_0991The most finished room in our home got a little more finished on the rainy Monday that was yesterday. So thankful for the sunshine and warmer temperatures which are back again today!

A couple of months ago I had a truly enjoyable couple of hours at the Auckland Art Fair with my most like-minded friend, Miss Browne.

I came home with a good selection of prints and a gorgeous little ceramic bowl.


Late last week I finally got to Briscoes and was lucky enough to time my shopping with a 30% discount on picture frames. I managed to get three frames on my list, so three prints got lucky. The others are still waiting for another rainy day…


My selection of frames was based on what I thought would go best with the Ella Quaint prints, and I picked deep honey coloured wood. For the Bron Alexander print I got a little more modern with a crisp white mat, which I’ll tone in with some other white framed art around the room when I get to it.

Once I had the frames, this was a super simple 10 minute job, requiring no special tools…


…as long as you have some Lego Duplo handy! Call this ultimate DIY, call it too lazy to run and grab the level, or just call it whatever works!

Here’s a photo I shared on Instagram (@duckeggblueblog) yesterday:


Miss E is delighted with her new “ebra” and “raaff”, and she loves clocks!


One more photo for the record… which has a sneak peek of what happened at the weekend when rain put paid to outdoor plans. Hopefully I can get some photos now the sun has come out again, and share the details on Thursday!


Until then… I’ll leave you guessing!