Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Dollhouse Diaries




Gasp, Shannon is writing a blog post!  What on earth is happening?

Hey now, it's not that I don't WANT to write I just don't have the time.  I don't even have time to READ blogs anymore.  It's true, I haven't read a single one in well over a year- unless it's posted to instagram.  Occasionally I'll read those.
I have literally been writing this post for days and it is just now getting published :(.
Speaking of instagram.  That's where I do most of my posting these days since it's fast and simple.
You should follow me HERE, it's definitely more updated than this poor, neglected blog.

ANYWAY, I recently renovated our childhood dollhouse and I sacrificed my fingernails and my sanity for far too long NOT to share it on my actual blog with LOTS of pictures.  SERIOUSLY, this thing was almost the death of me.  It was a major test on our marriage, my sanity, my strength and my stamina but somehow I prevailed and conquered the blasted thing.  Other than the countless (I am talking COUNTLESS) hours of work I truly enjoyed the process- but it was extremely TEDIOUS.  Kind of like a real house but in miniature.

I gave it to Ruby for her 4th birthday and I am so glad I did!

Thank the good Lord that she absolutely LOVED  it.  I would have cried buckets had she been indifferent. BUCKETS people.

Anyway, without further adieu….


The exterior was a royal pain.  I don't pride myself on my detail work so this was super hard for me.  I had to reframe most of the windows and replace the exterior trim.  The goal was to make it look like our house, hence the blue door and dark brown paint.  Painting all of this with a steady hand was incredibly tedious, especially with a bum finger on my right hand  (I broke and damaged ligaments in my middle finger back in December when I decided to sled down my snowy deck steps- it wasn't one of my better decisions.  We even have it on video, perhaps I will share someday?).
I painted the roof a dark charcoal gray since I had to replace some shingles and I felt like I'd NEVER  be able to make it match.
The tiny bunting was made from paper and tiny ricrack that I had laying around.
Here is a before picture just so you get the idea.

Let's just say this bad boy was very well loved.  It was loved to pieces if you will.
My Grandpa Gardner built it by hand and that makes is so special to me.  I don't think I would have taken the time to fix it up otherwise.

This is what the interior looked like when I first received it from my mom.  We had wallpapered most of the rooms and a few walls were crooked.
Once everything was repaired, stripped and sanded I caulked around every edge and corner and painted everything white.  It only took FOUR coats.




I wallpapered the back walls of each room and trimmed each interior window.
Most of the furniture came from ebay.  The fireplace was red brick and we painted it teal.
Other furniture was left over from when we were kids and got a fresh coat of paint (like the pink table).
 I also got some funky accessories, like the cello and the wooden spools from a local junk store that I am obsessed with!  The floral artwork was from an old German greeting card found at the same store.
I made the chandelier out of a toilet paper roll, left over trim and beaded ribbon.

I couldn't resist the red kitchen when I found it. It matches Ruby's  play kitchen perfectly and I knew it was meant to be.  I hung the amazing Naptime Diaries art work over the sink since we have it hanging in our kitchen too!  The coffee cup print also hangs in our kitchen.  Check out this adorable shop HERE.
Each little mouse got their own room with some kind of art work in it.

TThe washer and dryer were a must as well since they match ours!

I haven't touched the bathroom yet because I didn't have the energy to hunt down a tub and toilet.  Maybe I can get those for her for another occasion?

The office ended up being one of my favorite rooms.  I made the table out of old rulers and the lampshade out of a toilet paper roll and shingles.  I found the chair at hobby lobby for $2 and it just needed a fresh coat of paint.







Of course we had to have a teepee on the top floor.  I find the mice in there quite often.

The plan was to put in hardwood floors but I kind of like the brightness of the white.   We'll see if I ever get around to installing them- of if Ruby would even want them!

Either way Ruby loves it and has already clocked a lot of hours playing with it!  I am pleased with the outcome but I do not foresee any more dollhouse renovations in my future!  One and done my friends, one and done.





Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Max's Monster Mash

Written by Shannon Leigh

So I am finally getting around to posting photos from Max's Monster Mash (only a month after the fact).

I still haven't gone through my pictures from August (or September or October) but I figured that this monumental event took precedence.

SO as you probably know… Max turned 1!  I know, I still feel like he is 3 months old too.  Where on EARTH does the time go?  It's cruel really.  At least he is turning into an awesome little dude whom I am falling even harder for as the months go by or else I'd stomp my feet and pout about the fact that he is getting so big.

I have ALWAYS been super into Halloween and I have been searching for a reason to throw a Halloween bash for the last decade.  This year I FINALLY had my excuse.  I mean what better way to celebrate the birth of your second born than with spiders and eye ball cake pops? Since Maxwell is a bonified giant/monster we figured "Max's Monster Mash" was perfectly fitting for his first birthday.

Max was a chocolate chip cookie for Halloween this year and I felt like it was just right for him since he is SO very fat and he obviously loves to eat (continually).
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I sent out the invitations and requested Halloween costumes for the kids.  The party fell the weekend AFTER Halloween so it gave the kids just one last chance to wear their costumes!  It rained on Halloween this year so the kids only wore their costumes for a few minutes before we had to duck inside.  I was actually really glad that my costume slave labor was rewarded with a second wear.

In the invitations I sprinkled spider confetti.  My mom said she totally freaked out when she opened it.  Mission accomplished.

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I really tried to be economical with the party decor.  I know that  parties can get out of hand and I was really trying to avoid spending an arm and a leg.untitled-150
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I really like to fill a table with STUFF for a party so I went to a thrift store and bought a million candle holders.  I spray painted them a glossy black and bought a bunch of white tapered candle sticks at the dollar store.  I figured I could use these again so I didn't mind buying so many. I even fashioned a little cake stand for Max's cake with thrift store finds.
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I had been saving my empty glass jars for some project or another for awhile now and I decided to make a bunch of mustache ghosts/jack-o-lanterns to add to the table.   
All you need: old glass jars, white tissue paper, and modpodge.  I found some mustache wrapping paper at TJ Maxx awhile back.  I cut out the mustaches from the paper and modpodged them to the surface.  Throw in a tea light and voila- you have a glowing white jack-o-lantern with a mustache.  
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I splurged on mustache printed burlap from JoAnn's (40 % off coupon) and I used it as a table runner. I plan to repurpose it in Max's room at some point.

Since the party was AFTER halloween I went out the day after and bought TONS of stuff on clearance- like the Martha Stewart spiders on the wall and the black frames for his name.  I even got eyeball bouncy balls to decorate the table with.  I probably spent a total of $10.

I had been taking a picture of Maxwell via instax every week for the past year.  I displayed his pictures at the party as well. The frame of pictures hung in his room for the last year so I figured it was fitting to bring it down for the party.  Plus it gave me some much needed height for the table scape.
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I kept the menu fairly simple.
In fact I made all that I could ahead of time and froze it!  It was seriously so simple, I have finally gotten wise in this regard.  The simpler the better!

Menu:
Santa Fe Soup
Wild Rice Soup
Mummy wrapped weinies
Cheese ball and crackers
Fruit tray
chocolate mint and vanilla cake balls
Chocolate spider web cake
chocolate mustache lollipops

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The eye ball cake pops were pretty much the reason I threw the Monster Mash to begin with.  I LOVE THEM and they were the perfect center piece.  The kids loved them:)
I put them in a black cauldron with black packing paper around the bottom.  The rest of the cake balls were served dipped in either vanilla candy coating or mint chocolate with an orange drizzle.
A big shout out to my sister, Brooke, for helping put them together the night before!
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I made a small 2 tier smash cake for Monster Max (that is what Ruby has been calling him lately).   Surprisingly he didn't go crazy on the cake but enjoyed it nonetheless.
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All in all we had about 15 kids dressed up for the party.  I got a shot of all of them together but I forgot to change my camera settings so it didn't turn out (leave it to the photographer…).
:*(  I know somebody from the party got a shot so I will share it eventually!
We played pin the mustache on the ghost and we went bobbing for apples!  I think the kids really enjoyed it and I know we did!
Thanks sooooo much to all of our family and friends who came from near and far.  It really means a lot to us that Max is so well loved!  We feel beyond blessed by each of you!
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Doll Bed Redo

Written by Shannon Leigh

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So back a few months ago I bought a doll bunk bed for $1.

It was a thrift store find and even though it was old and super ugly I couldn't pass it up for $1.

I decided I'd spruce her up and give her a new life.

My sister and I were SUPER into American girl dolls as kids.  I had Kirsten, the Swedish immigrant and Morgan had Samantha, a little rich girl who had it all.

We had EVERY accessory available.  We had their bedroom sets, their kitchen sets,  their holiday sets, etc. not to mention every outfit.
Every dime we had we'd spend on Kirsten and Samantha.

This bed actually reminded me a lot of Samantha's bed, except Samantha's bed wasn't a bunk bed.

Anyway, the point is that Ruby is much too young to play with my Kirsten doll and accessories (although the day will be here soon) so I thought this was a good doll bed for the time being.


This is what she looked like before:
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I bought a can of spray paint (Ruby picked green with a little guidance from me).
I waited until foam was 50% off at Joann and I sewed up some little mattresses with vintage pillowcases I already had.
Ruby obviously picked the only purple one I had.  There is no other color in this world according to her.
Unfortunately one pillowcase wasn't enough to cover the top, bottom and 4 sides so I decided to make the mattress reversible.
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Even though it took me MONTHS to finish, I actually LOVE the way it turned it out and it is certainly cheaper than anything American Girl.  I think I spent about $15 on the entire project.

It makes me happy to see her little dollies tucked into this bed at all times of the day.

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Who knows… maybe for Christmas I will make her a couple of doll quilts and pillows to complete the bed?
Only time will tell.



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Time is a B

Written by Shannon Leigh

Seriously.
I debated on what to title this. I realize it's not appropriate.  I digress.  I am but a sinner.

BUT HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

It makes me want to throw my computer across the room and cry.
How is she this big?

Yes, it's the obligatory orchard picture and it ticked me off to see how much she's changed over the last 3 years.  She's turned into a little woman before my eyes.

STOP growing Ruby… you're killing your Mama.

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And because he is a-mazing and it was his first trip to the orchard.
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P-s- I am wearing the same flats in both Ruby's first orchard picture and Max's.  They now have holes in them.  I think I need new shoes.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Just Checking my Calendar Mommy

Written by Shannon Leigh

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A few days ago we made the mistake of telling Ruby that were going to go to GiGi and Pop's house this weekend.
Ruby is 3 1/2 and has ZERO concept of time.
She thinks in "yester-nights" and "last-days" and tomorrows.
3 or 4 days away does not exist in her sweet, innocent, un-tainted brain.

We really should know better than to tell her such exciting news so far in advance but I believe it was being held out as a carrot to get her to eat her green beans.
It worked as an adequate bribe; she ate all of her green beans.
But we've been paying dearly for sharing the news ever since.

This morning Ruby came down from her room in a fancy dress and her purple glasses placed squarely on her face (sunglasses that lost the lenses long ago).  She was swinging her purple computer in her hand and her curls were extra bouncy with sleepy sweat.

She excitedly said "ok Mommy, I'm ready to go to GiGi and Pop's now!"
I explained that we were not going to GiGi's today and that we would be going on Friday.

She guffawed frustratedly and thought about it for a moment and then quickly placed her purple computer on top of a kitchen stool.
She flipped it open hastily and began typing quickly with her head tilted to the side.

I asked her what she was doing.

With a heavy sigh she said: "I'm just checking my calendar…to see when Friday is so then I can go to GiGi and Pop's house!"

This girl.  She cracks me up.

And somehow she's all mine.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Truth is

Written by Shannon Leigh

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I am weary
very
very
very
weary.

Our child doesn't sleep.
I am loosing my mind.

He confuses the crap out of me.
He is just so inconsistent.

You see, there was a short snippet of time when he did sleep.
Oh glory.

In fact I think that's what I told you all in my last post (long ago).
He was sleeping from 8pm to 6am…
I was hoping that it wasn't a fluke.
Boy was it ever.

That lasted a whopping week.
And then it has gotten progressively worse.
I am so tired.
I am aging at a certain rapid rate.

To be fair, Max is a rockstar napper.
He takes 2 solid 2 + hour naps in his crib everyday.
He is generally happy and sweet during the day.
Interactive.
Playful.
Joyful.
He is a great eater (still nursing and eating solids too).

But at night?
He tuns into a demon child with a serious temper (I kid- sort of).

Up until this point we have given him the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe he really is hungry?
(We have started supplementing frozen breast milk after each meal just be sure he's getting enough)
Maybe his teeth hurt?
(Tylenol/ibprofen/teething tablets)
Maybe he has gas?
(drops)
Maybe he is in a growth spurt?
Maybe he just needs to be a little bit older?

We've tried to feed (stuff) him before we go to bed at 11pm.
We wake him up after he goes to bed at 7 and we fill him up and put him right back down.
He still wakes up 3 to 4 hours later screaming/completely inconsolable.


We've tuned off the monitor and let him "cry it out." 
He cries for HOURS.
He doesn't stop.
And when he does stop, he starts back up 20 minutes later.

Trying to intervene with paci-plugging just makes him irrate.
We've tried it all.
But enough is enough.


I think he has a temper and get's ticked when he wakes up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep.
I do believe this is a classic battle of wills.

My dear precious boy… mommy's will is stronger.

Bootcamp starts tonight.

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I apologize if this is incoherent.
I'm tired.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Maxwell Wade, 3 1/2 Months

Written by Shannon Leigh

My, my, my…
how life has changed.

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Our sweet baby boy is 3 1/2 months old.
He has changed so much over the past few weeks, I can hardly stand it.
And of course we are falling more and more in love with each passing day.

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Right now my Max is cozied in bed in his swaddle.
Yes, he still loves being swaddled (woombied if you will).

We seem to have tuned a corner in the sleep department, thank you Jesus.
He generally sleeps from 8 to 6 without waking so we are feeling much more rested in recent days.
We just hope it's not a fluke!

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He can sit if propped and he has, on occasion, sat on his own for a few seconds at a time.
He loves to stand and bounce constantly.
We even got out the exersaucer because he likes to bounce and be upright so much.
He has also started to roll from his tummy to his back and can get from is back to his side on his own.
He is such a big boy and is completely different from Ruby.


He obviously eats like a champ.  I mean check out those THIGHS.  
Couldn't you just nibble on them.  I do, daily.
I am guessing we'll start solids soon but we'll see what the doctor says at his 4 month appointment.

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He babbles and laughs and absolutely loves to be talked to.
His eyes are too big for his face and they can light up a room.
We still aren't sure what color his eyes are going to be.  I am guessing hazel?  I think they're too green to be blue but to blue to be green?
He's got beautiful baby skin and his rosy cheeks just long to be kissed.
I am happy to oblige.

Who would have thought that I could love a funny looking baby boy so much?
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The second baby is so much easier than the first (in some ways).
We are so much more relaxed and know what to expect to some degree.

That being said, there are plenty of  challenges.

Sometimes the days are long.
I am tired.
I am pulled in 800 different directions every day (figuratively and literally).
I am covered in spit-up.
I do not feel attractive (see statement above).
My toddler throws fits in public.
Max pees on our bed.
Matt and I fight.
The dog throws up on the carpet.
I don't get to use the bathroom by myself.
I am ravenously hungry.  All.The.Time.
I am getting wrinkles.
I get a paper cut
I haven't painted my toenails since before Max was born.
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My ab muscles may never be the same.


But I am blessed.
And one precious giggle from this guy and a sweet snuggle from miss Ruby somehow makes it all worth while (on most days).
It's a strange phenomenon, motherhood.

I don't think I'd trade it for anything in the world.