Tag Archives: christmas

Merry Christmas and a bit more

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I feel a bit of a fraud – writing on my own blog, after ignoring it for so long!

But I do have to check in and say Merry Christmas and thanks for being here. And in case you get all nostalgic at this time of year (who doesn’t… just a little bit?!) here’s how we did Christmas last year, the year before, and back in 2011. As the years go by it gets a little more… well… Christmassy!

It’s been a year and a half this one. Lots has happened that wasn’t supposed to happen, and not much has happened that we thought might happen! But we are looking forward to “big things” next year, and I have my fingers crossed for a little more time to myself, with one off to school and the other to kindy. I may even get back into blogging regularly?!

But for now, just have yourselves a merry little Christmas!

Thanks x

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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!

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

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

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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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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

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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.

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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?

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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!

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And here it is:

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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!

It’s Christmas

We’re running a little late on Christmas this year but as of the weekend, the Duck Egg Blue house is all caught up.

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Christmas is happening… let’s get excited!

A massive pine tree at my parents place gifted us a small branch this year. After a couple of years of doing things a little more alternatively (with mixed success) I was hankering for the real deal this year, especially now the kids are old enough to get Christmas a little better.

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Here’s our little tree, in all it’s perfect imperfectness! (It’s a wee bit crooked, and a wee bit haphazardly decorated but I love it to bits!)

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1210_87561210_87781210_88071210_87861210_88271210_8800It helps to have someone in the family whose idea of Christmas goes as far as eating ham and turkey. They are happy doing the dishes while everyone else gets on with more festive things!

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How annoying are people who get in your face with the camera or force you into Christmasness by surrounding you with ornaments when you’ve had enough already?!

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Awww. It only comes once a year, and for us on the upside-down-side of the world, it’s all summer holidays and sunshine too (we hope). Let’s enjoy it!

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Merry Christmas everyone!

A Super Simple DIY Advent Calendar

20 days to Christmas! We know it’s coming, we wait in anticipation most of the year, but still… bam! Suddenly it hits. That mad rush that is Christmas. And for those of us in the southern hemisphere, it’s also our biggest holiday season. Even though most businesses and tradespeople shut up shop for a mere couple of weeks, this time of year seems to create a frenzy of “Oh no! If I don’t get it done NOW it’ll NEVER get done!” Or is that just me?!

So amidst that, it’s nice to celebrate in simple ways.

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I’ve just whipped up the easiest advent calendar you may ever come across. If 5 days late guilt is setting in, don’t fret. This DIY advent calendar requires nothing more than a couple of pieces of paper, some crayons or pencils, scissors and Blu Tack. Oh and washi tape! Or, if you prefer digital over pencils like I do you’ll need design software (or just email me with a pretty please and I’ll be happy to send you a printable version of my design) and a printer.

On your first piece of paper draw (or print) a sweet l’il Christmas tree. Easy peasy – three stacked triangles on top of a stick. Add a few snowflakes, reindeer or elves if you feel creative!

On your second piece you’re going to draw (or print of course) some ornaments and/or more snowflakes et al.

Here’s how mine came together:

In Adobe InDesign I quickly drew up my tree and a few decorations.

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I printed the tree on regular printer paper, but the decorations I printed onto some adhesive labels so they’d be easy to stick onto the tree (more on that in a minute).

The most tedious part was cutting out the decorations, but it only took a few minutes. You can see I put a green colour block behind my tree ornaments because I really didn’t feel like taking an hour to cut carefully around each mini circle. This way I can cut roughly and the green edges will just blend into the tree – smart cheating! I also didn’t count out exactly how many “stickers” I was printing (other than to check there was plenty enough) because I figured I’d use any extras to get the tree started, especially since we are a few days late already!

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I taped up the tree alongside our gallery of pictures, right above the kids table. Hopefully this prominent position will help us to remember to add another sticker every day! (Last year we had to have a few catch up days!)

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I scribbled up this star as an afterthought, but definitely a necessary one!

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Here are all the stickers in one of the buckets on the kids turntable, along with some blu tack because it turns out those adhesive labels are well stuck to their backing and it would be impossible for the kids to prise them apart. We’ll save the star until the very last!

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Here’s Master W choosing his first sticker.

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And putting it up on the tree (after I’d got a head start with the few extras, leaving just enough in the bucket for the remaining days until Christmas).

1205_8711It’s a sweet little calendar for those who like to keep it simple, and just perfect for little ones who might find the gift-giving season a little overwhelming. Sometimes the smallest of responsibilities, and the excitement of watching the stickers get used up are treat enough for toddlers and preschoolers!1205_8707I hope this helps if you’re running late for Christmas already!

Amanda from Homely One has another lovely DIY advent calendar idea which I’m totally going to be organised for next year…! Promise!

Pin of the day: Wishy washi dishes

I may have mentioned making a play kitchen for the kids for Christmas? Well… this idea just made it a bit easier:

washi tape dolls house by Frida Ramstedt

Take some simple shelves and add washi tape to fancy it up. Done!

As soon as I can find some replacements for our master bedroom bedside cabinets, they’ll be hacked a little to accommodate a play oven, fridge and kitchen storage.

I’m not one for big investment (money or otherwise) into kids toys so I plan to keep it super simple and go crazy with washi tape for the fancy bits. Then, if it’s a hit I can turn the fancy bits more permanent perhaps?!

Image from my Kids Room Pinterest board.

Pin of the Day: Christmas art

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This caught my eye while browsing this morning – in a sea of red, white and green it is a refreshing twist on Christmas decor.

I could do it in 5 mins. Master W could do it in 2, with a bit of guidance.

Beyond Christmas, kraft paper and kids abstract art would combine beautifully to fill some oh so blank walls. Nice.