Wren’s Play Kitchen!

I’m very excited to share this project with you, lovelies! I spotted the (ugly-as-sin) nightstand in a nearby alley well over a year ago with heartfelt intentions to make it over into a play kitchen for the little birdie that very day. I saw other DIY play kitchens like this by Vintage Songbird and this one by Vicki Howell made from old nightstands and was inspired to make one for Wren.

Chris snagged it for me, dragged it home and then it lived in our basement, awaiting a transformation. It waited and waited. What a patient nightstand! It was going to be a 1st birthday gift, then it was going to be a Christmas gift, and now (finally!) a 2nd birthday gift. Yahoo!

Here are some images and a few notes on the process…

First I hauled the nightstand outside and sanded everything down so the paint would adhere better then the real work began on making the piece of junk great alley find look like a kitchen.

Everything AND the kitchen sink. I found an old metal dog bowl at Goodwill for $.99: perfect for a little sink and perfect for the wallet too. Chris cut out the hole for me after I tried and failed to do it myself.  Meanwhile I sawed off the front of one of the drawers and discarded the other pieces. Then I spray-painted the wood pieces for the burners, knobs and faucet. The faucet is just an upside-down “J” that I saw on other play kitchens.

Then I painted the whole nightstand with about three coats of white paint. I hand-painted the burner coils with a Sharpie paint pen. Then glued them on to the cooktop area with some handy Gorilla Glue. That stuff rocks! I also screwed on a little coat hook on the side for a hot pad and oven mitt (on clearance at Michael’s for $.99, yesssss).

Next up, the backsplash. I painted the backsplash tiles orange, white and green. These are just simple $.29 wood craft tiles that were easy to adhere with the glue to the plywood board we attached to the back of the kitchen. I still want to add a shelf to the back of it because it looks a bit naked, but I haven’t done that yet.

I don’t have photos of the entire process because it was LATE the night before Wren’s birthday and it caused a near-divorce situation as I begged Chris to help me with “just a few quick things,” which of course turned into more than a few things. He was already really tired from installing our new fence, working all day and then I threw him his list, which included installing the hinges, installing the little cabinet magnet so the “oven door” would more easily stay closed, screwing on the handle, screwing on the knobs so they turned (washers!) and screwing on the faucet. Meanwhile I sewed the little curtains and fed them on a dowel, touched up paint and tried to stay out of harm’s way… Let’s just say it wasn’t a very pretty scene.

BUT. I think it was all worth it when the little birdie came down in the morning to greet her new kitchen. The funny thing is that she just got right to work, like she knew exactly what to do. Grabbed the tea pot, filled it up with water and served it up. Put the oven mitt on and checked on the pizza in the oven!

Day two and the party continues! Apparently, popcorn is a popular thing to cook…

Thankfully the little birdie loves her new kitchen and we’re proud of it too. The irony is that Wren’s kitchen is the best part of the entire kitchen. Case in point, Wren has an oven. Our oven hasn’t even made it into the kitchen yet! We’re still using our old one in the basement. Yeah, that’s convenient. Ahem. This project has inspired me to tackle the REAL kitchen, but where to begin?!

What kind of projects are you tackling these days, lovelies? What has inspired you to get moving on them? Do you need a deadline too? Ahh, to be only human.


It doesn’t just seem like the snow piles just disappeared. They really did. And what happened to spring, anyway? Yesterday’s summery 83 and sunny crashed that party. So my peas are not ready for 83 on a regular basis. They seem to prefer a milder spring. But they’re making a lovely appearance, aren’t they? Finally!

In other gardening news, the little birdie and I planted several more rows of different seeds yesterday. Melons, squash, beets, carrots, dill. She’s pretty focused for about 3/4 of a row of the bigger seeds, like tigger melon or delicata squash seeds. The carrot seeds–so tiny, even for tiny, nimble hands–not so easy or interesting for an (almost!) two tot. She just wanted to toss them up in the air and see them rain down. Can’t really blame her, but it will be an *interesting* carrot crop this year.

And I’m thinking that we will have a nice salad for a Memorial Day picnic… crossing fingers here.

What’s growing in your garden, lovelies? Have you had any fresh asparagus yet? Yummy. XO ash

P.S. Yes, it does seem a bit trite to blog about lettuce growing in our backyard when there’s so much devastation and heartache in Joplin. I’m feeling very grateful to have a home that is safe and sound, a healthy family, and another beautiful day to be alive.

cups of grass!

Don’t you just love egg cups? I sure do. And I also enjoy soft-boiled eggs. AND I love the idea of eating the eggs in beautiful little cups. But I hardly ever eat an egg in one of our egg cups! So what’s a gal to do…?

Turn them into little planters, of course!

Lovelies, this is SO simple and rewarding. Bonus! Easy to do with your wee ones too. Have some potting soil, a bit of grass seed and a few cute little containers? You’re set. Want cups of grass for Easter? Let’s get growing!

First fill up your containers almost to the top with the potting soil because this airy stuff settles a lot once watered and you’ll want the grass growing near the top, no?

Sprinkle the grass seed in very liberally then dump in a bit more soil. Water the little guys and place them in a sunny spot. Then watch them grow! In less than a week, we had grass. I think it’s even time for a hair cut, don’t you think?

What fun spring/Easter projects are you up to these days? Send me some links! I’m looking for more fun Easter things to do with the little birdie…

Click on, lovelies

22 months old already, wow.

Truth be told, I’m a bit bummed. 12 and snowy is not exactly what I had in mind for Spring Break. Apparently I cursed myself by washing the little birdie’s snowsuit last week AND washing my car. I knew it was too good to be true. Sigh. I know, I know. We live in northern Michigan and furthermore, it’s incredibly boring to complain about the weather, no? Soooooo… how ’bout we get lost in the Interwebs for a while instead, lovelies?

Have a wonderful weekend, friends. XO

for the love of compost

Trudging through deep snow to dump some egg shells, vegetable scraps and coffee grounds into the compost bin seems like an awfully silly activity when the needle hovers under freezing. But it pains me to throw vegetable scraps in the garbage even when I know it’s too cold for them to break down in the bin. So I ignore my brain and listen to my heart, which is fueled on hope. Depositing the rotting remains is a hopeful task, unlike sweeping the floor or cleaning the dishes. Hopeless drudgery. As soon as I finish, they need to be done again. And then again. And again. Sigh. I am trying to work on my attitude toward cleaning, but I’m not making much progress, can you tell? But! Taking care of the compost? A bit of work now for a luscious garden later. So worth it, don’t you think?

A pile of stinky garbage to some and the ingredients for something fantastic to another. There is beauty in these remains, no?

garden of white

Even though I just recently harvested the last hardy remains of last year’s garden–a lovely handful of beets and carrots, one small daikon radish–I’m trying to beat the winter doldrums by thinking ahead to our 2011 garden. Is it too early? My heart screams, “no!” I just ordered several different seed catalogs (do you have a favorite?) and am anxiously awaiting their arrival in our mail box. Nothing like curling up at the end of the day with a seed catalog to warm you up a tiny bit.

Staring out into the endless garden of white could be depressing because winter really just began less than a month ago, but we’re trying to enjoy the quiet, the dark, the time to dream and plan for greener days. Our blanket of snow makes me think of a clean, bright canvas, waiting for a brush dipped in cadmium green pale, raw umber, veridian. How ’bout you? How do you beat the winter doldrums? Fruity drinks with umbrellas, movies and blankets, a bottomless pot of soup, roasted root veggies, a snowshoe hike with a good friend?

Here’s to finding a sense of balance in the here & now while not pining too much for what’s to come…

Happy December!

I’m so grateful that December is here and we’ve got enough snow to make it feel festive! Nothing like a little dusting of snow to make me get a little squirrely with my holiday creations. How ’bout you? This year, I’m planning on making pomegranate jelly, spiced nuts, peppermint bark and maybe some orangettes. Maybe. They’re a lot of work, but they’re so beautiful and delicious. I’ve also got a bunch of green tomato jam and green tomato chutney to wrap with pretty papers and twine.

Dear readers, you might also love this list of 40 Yummy Presents that you can make and share with friends, family, your hairdresser, therapist, dog sitter, child’s teacher… I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the cash or the consumer inclination to give much STUFF this year. How will you be celebrating the spirit of giving without giving too much stuff?

Happy December to you and thanks for clicking in on me today. I’m glad you’re here.



you used up all the glue on purpose

Chris asked me the other day how I would know when I was finished with my entry in our local Goodwill’s Reinvention Convention. I would just know, said my former art major self. In reality, I decided I would likely be finished when I used up all the glue. On purpose! This indicator reminded me of the night I went into labor with Wren. Chris ate my last Tum’s (for once in 39 weeks, his heartburn trumped mine) and I joked, well, I guess this means I’m going to have the baby! Wren was born the next morning, bringing a not-so-subtle end to my voracious Tum’s habit.

So… I used up the rest of my glue today and I’m delivering the artwork soon! Have you voted yet? Disclaimer: their site is NOT very user-friendly and I’ve already grumbled to them about it so my sincere apologies.

on green

I’m really excited about this: my entry into Goodwill’s Reinvention Convention! In exchange for a $20 donation to Goodwill this past summer, I received certificates to spend at our local Goodwill store on whatever I wanted. Like a mini shopping spree with the idea in mind that I would upcycle my finds into something. What fun! And it’s all for a good cause. The finished pieces will be on display this coming Friday, October 8 at a gallery in downtown Traverse City. Everything is for sale and all the sales benefit Goodwill. Isn’t this cool? And here’s where you come in, dear readers. You get to vote for the winner! The catch is that each vote costs $1 and you can vote as many times as you like. Yes, that’s right, it’s a popularity contest. Sort of. Another fun thing is that you can vote online here. Now! When you vote online, the minimum donation is $10 (10 votes) so vote early and vote often. Please and thank you!

So here’s what I did. I bought a bunch of old t-shirts and then cut them up. Then for about two months I stared at the pile of them, not exactly sure what I would do with them. As you can see, Wren was a big help. Eventually I decided to create an abstract meditation on the color green. Chris thinks the piece (almost finished!) reminds him of an aerial view of fields, which wasn’t my intention, but I can see that. What do you think? I’m going to deliver the finished piece this week. Yahoo!

So when you go online to vote (please and thank you), click on the picture of the pile of t-shirts, which is on the first page of the artists. I think when you hover over the photo, my name (Ashlea Walter) shows up. I believe you can vote through this coming weekend and if you happen to be in Traverse City, come on downtown and check it out!

Can’t wait to see what everyone has done with their stuff. I will take photos of the pieces on Friday night and show you some of my favorites… woot woot!

Have you voted yet?

looks like you overplanted your garden

Happy Thursday, lovelies! How has your week been going? I’m doing OK, but I’m still suffering from major garage sale hangover from last weekend. I’m working on gathering my thoughts on that front, but in the meantime, I’m turning to the garden (err, tomato forest).

As I was figuring out the best way to climb over the rabbit-proof fence and find a plant-free place for my midget feet, my neighbor yelled to me, “looks like you overplanted your garden!” Um, yeah…, ya think so?! No tomatoes for you, mister smarty pants! Hmmphh.

Here are a couple of photos from early June when I trimmed the lawn using the cheap lawnmower I was recommended by a friend to look on https://www.lawnmowery.com/best-riding-lawn-mowers/cheap/ and the time right after which I first planted the garden. It seemed almost barren with a lot of hopeful space. The tomato cages looked way too big and now they’re ridiculously small and completely inadequate. No exaggeration.

And here it is now, not even August yet! Do not stand too still around the garden or the cucumber tendrils will find a way to wrap around your shoe laces, pony tails and belt buckles; they will take you down. Make haste, grab your veggies and get out! If you have a garden I would recommend getting the best TechnoMono zero turn mower for 10 acres lawn would make the job 10x easier for you. Also I’ve transformed my garden with festoon lighting the landscape lighting specialists, they create a lighting plan that will benefit your property, and meet all of your needs, I loved the work!

If you love gardening but you don’t have enough space for your plants, you can go online and look for listings with the property details you are looking for. You can find more info here.

We love using secateurs nz that are a pair of pruning clippers you can use with one hand, for little branches to keep the garden nice and clean. What scares (and excites) me is that things aren’t even at their peak yet. Oof. Every day we get a bit of this or that, an assortment of fresh, healthy green goodies like this:

The upside to overplanting a garden? Hardly any weeding on the agenda! How is your garden growing, lovelies? Do you have an earwig infestation in your mesclun mix too? Yuck yuck yuck! They give me the heebie-jeebies. How ’bout you? Any advice on how to get them to go away and never ever (ever) come back? I get the chills just writing about them. Did I say “yuck!?”

Happy diggin’ in the dirt!