Archive | January, 2014

Cardboard Stove

26 Jan

We bought Alex a really cute little cooking set and play food for Christmas.  He enjoys it, but he hasn’t really known how to play with it.  When I cook, I use a stove.  He’s great with imagination, but I realized the cookware would make more sense to him if he had his own little stove for cooking.

What I didn’t want to do is spend money on a play stove.  Alex has so many toys as it is.  I didn’t want to put down cash on even more stuff.  I figured a cardboard box could work nicely, so I searched Pinterest to see if anyone else had had the same idea.  I found several cardboard stoves on there, and used a few different photos for inspiration.

I started with a large moving box.  I did have to buy this, as we got rid of all our moving boxes last year.


I hot glued the top of the box to keep it closed and give the box its shape while I worked on it.  I used a box cutter to cut out a door for the oven.  I also cut a window into the door and hot glued a piece of clear vinyl over it.  (The vinyl was leftover from one of Steven’s projects.)  For a handle, I used a cabinet pull that I’d bought shortly after we purchased our house.  I’d brought it home to see if I liked it for our cabinets.  I did, but after counting how many we’d have to buy and replace, that project was tabled for a while.


Ninja and Theo can't resist a box

Ninja and Theo can’t resist a box


Steven got involved at this point.  He was concerned about the structural integrity of the cardboard.  It’s for a rambunctious 2-year-old, after all, so he figured it should be reinforced.  He grabbed some vinyl slats leftover after he shortened some window blinds and cut them to fit around the door of the oven.  He also fitted slats on the inside of the box around the door so that the door can’t be shoved in.  Additionally, he added a magnet and a small piece of metal to keep the door latched shut.


I’ve been crazy sick lately and on a ton of prescriptions.  That meant that I had a lot of medicine bottles I’ve recently emptied.  I used the lids to make knobs for the stove.  I had some leftover chalkboard spray paint from another project, so I used that to paint the lids, then I used a metallic sharpie to write on them.  Steven drilled holes for me.  Then he figured this would also need reinforcement, so he used more blind slats inside the box where the knobs would go.  This meant he had to use his drill to make holes in the box for the knobs.  For the knobs to spin, they needed washers or nuts or something behind them, and Steven didn’t have any small enough, so that did require another trip to Lowe’s for a 99-cent bag of thingamajigs.


I saw on Pinterest that several people used CDs for burners on their homemade stoves.  I thought that was brilliant, so Steven dug up some unused CDs for me to hot glue on the top.  I didn’t do anything fancy to the top of the stove, so it’s not terribly impressive with the obvious line across the top, but I’m okay with that.  It’s just a little play stove, and Alex doesn’t care.


I’m quite pleased with the finished result, and Alex thinks it’s pretty fun, too.

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Of course, the best part about it is getting to climb inside.

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This was a lot of fun to make, and I love that it was so inexpensive.  The total cost was under $3.



15 Jan

I’ve found myself in a bit of a nesting phase lately.  Old episodes of House Hunters on Amazon Prime have been high on my watch list. Easy viewing while folding laundry.  It’s been fun for me to watch home shows lately.  I didn’t used to be able to do this.  Living previously in a home with foundation problems that never seemed to be fixed, no matter what we did, made me feel depressed when I watched programs about other people’s nice houses.  Now that I have a house I love and am interested in fixing up to my liking, I enjoy watching.

I do find myself annoyed with some of the people on House Hunters, though.  The ones who walk through beautiful kitchens that just don’t have granite counter tops, so they act annoyed and horrified that a kitchen could be *gasp* granite-less!  Or the shower isn’t redone in that brown, large tile that everyone seems to be installing these days.  I’m noticing that no matter how much home buyers claim they want a house with character, they really just want the interiors done in the exact same materials and bland neutral colors that everyone else has.

And then there are the pretentious buyers.  The ones with super-grand expectations.  I watched one episode where the couple wanted a home that would reflect their level of success.  I automatically disliked them.  It got worse.  As they looked at a master bedroom that was easily 4 times the size of my own, they kept saying that it seemed small.  Same with the master bath, that had to be the size equivalent of the entire upstairs of my house.  Seemed “small.”  That line from The Princess Bride kept going through my head.  “You keep saying that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Which brings me to the subject of my own master bathroom.  It wouldn’t pass muster with the majority of home buyers on that program.  It’s small.  It has a tub/shower combination, and the tub isn’t a garden-sized one.  The cabinetry and counter top are original to the house, which was built in 1980.  The cabinets were painted badly by the former owner.  Sure, I’d love to get a whole new vanity, but it’s not in our current budget, nor do we feel capable of taking on a project of that size at this time in our lives.  I can’t even seem to get my kitchen painted because I can’t figure out how to get it done with a toddler at home and a husband at work all day.  Nap time isn’t long enough.  (Seriously, how do other people do it?!  I see blogs where the writer has small children, and somehow, major, messy projects are accomplished.  I’m baffled.  Do they not sleep?  Because I need sleep.)

When we moved in, I just slapped up my old shower curtain and used all our old towels and bath mats that matched the curtain.  There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t go well with the beige walls, and as I got it as a wedding gift more than 15 years ago, it was time to change things out.  Good-bye, Laura Ashley’s circa 1990s “Bramble.”  Hello, something more contemporary from Target.


I should confess here that in typical little-sister fashion, I totally copied my big sister with this shower curtain.  I saw the same one hanging in her daughters’ bathroom in their new house when we were in Texas for Thanksgiving.  Loved it, bought it, copy-catted not for the first time in my life.

I bought new towels and floor mats to coordinate.  It all looks nice with the existing wall color, which is good, because the next thing I paint (if I ever get the chance to paint again) will be my kitchen.   I also found this round, swirly metal thing at Hobby Lobby for super cheap.  It dresses up a very boring beige wall.  (Sorry about the bad lighting.  Small bathroom, poor light conditions for photos, especially for someone who doesn’t really know how to use her camera.)


Next up was new lighting.  I wish I’d thought to take a photo of the old light.  It was slopped with paint (because apparently, the previous owner let a 12-year-old paint the entire house without taping off anything), had rust spots, and mismatched glass globes.  It was a real thing of beauty, let me tell you.  I found a beautiful new light at Lowe’s, and my handy husband installed it in about 15 minutes.  All was well, except for this:


That would be the improperly-installed medicine cabinet/mirror from our master bath.  The hole in the wall for the lighting is too low for the cabinet/mirror.  The glass globes didn’t even fit over the mirror, much less allow the doors to open.  Whole new problem.  My husband took this mirror/cabinet down, and then we were left with a darker paint color on the wall where it used to hang, as well as no mirror.

Cue the emergency trip to Lowe’s.

We found a new mirror that coordinated well with the light fixture, it was attractive, and more importantly, it was affordable.  The only drawbacks: it doesn’t completely cover that dark paint patch on the wall, and it’s a tad too small, in general.  I can’t see anything below my chest, and my tall husband has to bend at the knees to see his entire head.  Ah, well.  That’s what happens when 1) you have to buy an emergency mirror right away, and 2) you can’t afford to spend $300-$400 on a mirror.  Because that’s just crazy, in my opinion.

So, if you can ignore the ugly paint patch behind the mirror, here’s the new light fixture and mirror.

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A $25 can of paint certainly would have been cheaper, but in addition to wanting new stuff, this room really needed a sprucing up with nicer things that aren’t slopped with paint.  And I came out $15 ahead.  I sold that tacky medicine cabinet on our local Facebook selling group.  I should probably use the cash for a can of color-matched paint to touch up behind the mirror.