Playroom Makeover

In late January of 2014 we moved into our newly purchased house which was built in 1927 and a good amount of it had been updated but the basement was pretty dark, dingy and screaming for an update.  See the before pics:

Before we moved in, carpet and paint were updated and we added both balusters (i.e. upright posts along the staircase) for safety and a carpet runner to the stairs.  We also added a closet where you see the coral tile to store games, puzzles and art supplies.  The laundry area is located on the top floor of the house near our bedrooms so the hook ups you see are still there but not in use.  I had the plywood desk top and shelf removed from the nook so that I could create the play grocery store I envisioned as soon as we saw the house.

Fast forward a little over 2 years and we managed to create a much nicer space for a play room but were stalled on the project for probably a year or more.  Because of time and money constraints we fixed things up in fits and spurts but I’ve finally reached a point of not being able to take the almost finished status any longer.  I hope to have EVERYTHING finished by the end of May and hopefully sooner than that.

Check out the progress we’ve made to date in the photos below but do keep in mind that we’re only part way there…

Dress up areaplay grocery storeArt tableReading nook

The color scheme of orange, fuchsia and turquoise that’s used in most of the playroom began with the repurposing of fabric banners from Isabelle’s 12th birthday party.  The deep red accent wall is next to the grocery store and my husband’s office both of which have the same red carried through them but in art & accents instead of a whole wall.

The antique cheval mirror and Louis XV Chair were things I’d found antiquing in France during the 4 years I lived in Germany.  I had hoped to keep them in my bedroom but alas, the space isn’t right for them so instead of storing them, we’ve put them here.  Much of the other furniture was found second hand on the local Seattle mom’s Yahoo group but the Land of Nod table and stools were left over from Isabelle.  And other than the duplo Legos and a handful of gifts, all of the toys are used and found at garage sales or the mom’s group for sale postings.

More in a couple of days about the Toy Rotation that I put into place this weekend and our Activity Planning Chart that I’m making. When I’m completely finished with the project in a few weeks I’ll give a full source accounting on where things were purchased, paint & carpet colors and other details but if you have any questions in the meantime just email.

Making Family Life Easier

Healthy Day Chalkboard

I’ve been trying for the past year to year to get different systems in place that help our family keep on top of things, reduce stress and/or just generally help each other out.  One of the simple things I did last year was to create a chalkboard system tracking what my youngest daughter ate during the day.  This may seem like something folks shouldn’t have to track, but since there are days when up to 3 different people serve meals to Reina, this system has proven very helpful.  And even on the days when it was just me feeding her all meals, I will confess that my memory isn’t always awesome so it saves me time and lets me plan ahead for the next meal knowing what she’s missing towards the goal of a balanced diet.

I used 2 different round platters, a large cup and a serving fork as templates for the design.  Just be sure to clean the chalk pen off any more porous items pretty quickly – one wooden platter was tough to clean after the pen had dried.  I use regular chalk to fill in daily details and then a damp paper towel to carefully wipe the daily details off at the end of the day yet keep the design in tact. Over time we’ve added standing notes about what time she woke up, length of nap and if she’s taken medication.

The larger chalkboard is below and we try to fill it out every Saturday so that all family members can plan their week.  I’ll continue talking about other systems over the next few posts.  I hope that some of them will help you and your families out!

Family Life Chalkboard

Easter Decor How To Info

Carrots in apothocary jar w antique chocolate moldsEasy daisy arrangmentMeri Meri rabbit balloon centerpiece how to


From the Toddler Egg Hunt post here are some close ups and how to photos.  Everything was super easy!

Carrot & daisy floral arrangement: wash carrots and remove any unattractive greenery and broken stems.  Line a large vase or apothecary jar with the carrots placing the more attractive carrots on the outer edge.  You could insert an inner tall/thin vase inside the carrots but I didn’t need to.  They stayed nicely and created a natural inner area to place the daisies.  This was an awesome impact for $10 (carrots were 3 bunches for $5 and daisies were $5).  Fill with water.  I bought the carrots & made this the day before the event and it still looked fresh 24 hours later.

Table including $ 10 carrot & daisy arrangement, antique chocolate molds and apothecary jar fill


Bunny Balloon & other centerpiece items:  find bottle or bud vase the right height for your cache pot, place it in center, insert plastic stick included in Meri Meri kit and fill with Easter grass.  I had to stuff a bit of paper in the neck of my bottle to get the stick to stay straight and centered.  You can also use floral foam if you have some but I wanted to save the cost. I’m sure if you were so inclined you could create your own bunny balloon.  The kit just gave pre-done adhesive ears, whiskers and bow tie.  The eyes and nose/mouth were stickers but could be drawn on a white balloon and the balloon tied to a thin dowel.  I displayed my antique chocolate molds with this and the Balloon Centerpiece below.  One mold was placed on a small glass candy dish that had fine Easter grass on  it and I covered it with a large jar and added a wired ribbon.  I like to use books as risers in centerpiece groupings to things show well above the food on the table.  The colored eggs in the smaller apothecary jar are sentimental as my older daughter has made them over the years. See above photo.

Golden eggs on skewers

Mimosa Bar floral arrangement:  this is so easy, it’s hardly worth mentioning.  The glitter eggs above came in a pack of 6 and I used bamboo skewers to add a fun dimension to the arrangement.

Other décor items shown below were things I’ve collected over the years, many of which during the time I lived in Germany and I sourced things at the French and German flea markets and specialty stores in Rothenburg ob der Tauber (a charming walled city near Munich).  The Christopher Radko Easter Tree and larger blown glass ornaments were issued around 14 years ago and I purchased them from a catalog.  I do add to my collection now that I’m  in the US by hitting after Easter sales to save money, but most things are items my older daughter made or are thing that have meaning from my time in Europe.  I much prefer using the same items year after year that have meaning to changing my look every year.  I guess I’m sentimental!

Radko & other egg tree ornaments




DIY Academy Award Glasses/Favors

Star how to

















I found the gold rimmed glasses at Dollar Tree.  They did double duty and kept drinks sorted for the party and served as a favor at party’s end.
1. draw a modern-style star in the right scale for your glasses on white paper and cut it out
2. slide the paper inside the glasses
3. using an enamel gold sharpie trace the star on to the glass
4. decide on the lettering style for the guest’s names
5. if you aren’t secure in your calligraphy abilities, write them out for practice
6. using an enamel black sharpie write the names on the glass

Academy Awards Party

Invitation design from Etsy's Maddie and Marry was printed by Shutterfly.

Since the Academy Awards are coming up soon – Sunday February 22 – I wanted to share the recent party we had for my 7th grader’s class. Just photos today, tomorrow I will review simple DIY instructions.

Sourcing: Amazon for statues, tickets, cupcake stars, misc. decorations, popcorn boxes and gold tinsel. Invitation design by Etsy’s Maddie and Marry. Target foil streamers and gold patterned lanterns (not shown). Dessert plates Tiffany & Co. Jars and light strings Fred Meyer.  Gold rim glasses Dollar Tree.



The Italian Soda bar was a favorite with the guests and easy to set up.

Red velvet cupcakes, 3 flavors of popcorn, Redvines and other movie candy filled the dessert bar.

Serving items included an antique brass store riser, Murano compotes, Rock Cut dessert plates added to the table.

A sample of the costume contest prize awaits the category winners of Best Look-Alike, Most Creative, Funniest and Best Overall.  The ballots and DIY ballot box sat adjacent to the sample prize.

Lots of impact yet easy to create.  We used 2 dozen helium filled and 1 dozen air filled balloons for variation.

Two strings of lights with gold tinsel created a fun vibe to the living room.

Foil stars were personalized with guest names and hung with fishing line over inexpensive sheers.

Jov.E at party (2)

Mixology instructions for the guests.