cooking · family · fun · home tour · kids · play · projects

A DIY Play Kitchen

 My girls outgrew the store bought play kitchens long before they outgrew playing house.  Our solution: a DIY play kitchen.  I wish I had detailed instructions, but a quick search on the web will give you all the information/instructions you will need to complete this project in time for Christmas.  If you are looking for a wonderful gift for a special girl…look no further.  My daughters have enjoyed hours upon hours of fun in this playroom.  I love to watch my kids get lost in play. 

Speaking of playrooms…when it came to making a decision of what to do with the one extra room in the house…a school room, a playroom, or an office…we chose playroom.  I have never regretted that decision.  We filled it with baby dolls and accessories , dress up clothes, play kitchen toys, and a grocery store.  My parents made the little spool table and chairs a few years back.  The girls hand painted it.  They also painted a computer screen for their store using a cardboard box.  The refrigerator is full of realistic play food, the cabinets are stocked with pantry items and dishes.  The girls each have an apron. I bought them a small ironing board and gave them an old iron of mine after cutting the cord.  An old vacuum cleaner (my favorite Oreck), telephones, junk mail, and play money make the imagination play endless. I just love the miniature appliances.  I’ve been served a many gourmet meal from this kitchen.  

Our favorite kitchen toys are from Green Toys.  They are high quality and realistic…making play fun.

  This room is a screened in porch with an outside entrance, and this makes it easy for our neighbors’ daughter to pop in just to play.  Sometimes I only know we have company because I hear the sounds from the playroom.  Funny. The time and money we have spent in this room is well worth it… and it continues to be a delight for my little ones.

Here is a great site to visit to get inspiration and/or instructions to make your own play kitchen.  Just click through all three pieces for instructions for an entire kitchen.
or visit this fantastic board on Pinterest

faith · home tour · Orthodoxy · seasons · winter

The Winter of My Discontent

Have you ever been discontented with where you live? Or life in general?  Winter is good at that, by exposing the bones of a place.  Winter lays everything bare, and sometimes it is just a little too raw for me.  The sun even shines brighter in the winter, it is a fierce light.  It’s as if everything is on display, but naked.  Like the heavenly bodies are shining a bright light on the nakedness of the earth.  I get an itch in the winter that I cannot scratch, a sort of discontentment.  So today I took my camera with me when we ventured out for burgers and a coke for my birthday.  I thought I might see if I could capture the beauty of winter in Texas.  I thought I might look at my neighborhood and see if I could find contentment, even in the winter.  
I was not disappointed.
 As I look at these pictures I am overwhelmed by the good.  
This is my neighborhood…my home.  I get to live here.
And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.
Maybe the secret is in the looking, really seeing, beholding.

Someone asked Abba Anthony, “What must one do in order to please God?”  The old man replied, “Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not leave it.  Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.”

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers 



family · home tour · parenting · projects

A Room of Their Own

When I read Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own a few years ago I was struck by the notion that women are in desperate need of personal space, literal space.  The reality of having a special space that is all my own is something that I cannot manage at this time in my life.  I cannot even go to the bathroom by myself.  But, I remember a time when I did not share everything, I had a little place to be by myself and dream, sing, pray, read, and think.  I had a room of my own when I was young.

It is this memory, and the warmth it creates that inspired me to create a special place that my daughters call their own, a room of their own…even if they do share the space.  For my oldest two daughters, sharing is all they know, they have always shared a room.  But, it is ok…it is their own room together. I love listening to them giggle at night, sharing secrets, whispering things to each other that they will never tell me.  Sisterhood is nourished in shared space, their special place.

Being the oldest in a large family has its perks, but the perks come at a price.  The older children bear a kind of burden that the littles will never know. When the littles are big will they remember all the little sacrifices their big sisters made for them, all the times that they were shown kindness or allowed to be a part…the gentleness, the patience, the caring?  Just last night I overheard my oldest two making Christmas gift lists for their little sisters, and I think a major homemade doll furniture project is underway.  This makes me hope…maybe this lifestyle creates and nourishes true affection.  I try to keep that in mind when I see attitudes, bickering, and drama.  

As Queen Mother, I like to inspire and facilitate affection…to encourage it.  When my older girls give, I like to give back.  In this way I hope they feel the rewards of their kindness, hard work, and selflessness.  It keeps things reciprocal, and shouldn’t all relationships be reciprocal?  I do not do these things to be fair…fairness is overrated and impossible in large families.  I do these things because I love my girls, and they love me…we are family.    

I like to give back to my older girls by treating them to special things like going to a favorite restaurant, spending time alone with me, buying a new outfit, picking up a specific treat when I go grocery shopping, giving them time alone when they request it, and making sure that I help them pursue their own interests and passions.  And that leads me to what I want to share with you in this post.

A new room of their own!

For a couple of weeks we have been working on this project together… refreshing paint, buying new bedding, ordering new accessories, and having a ball. I taught the girls how to paint a room, make and hang curtains (no sew), and we even made a fun little wall accessory out of twinkle lights.  They have been wanting a more “teenagery” (as they call it) room.  So here it is!  I hope you enjoy the before and after pictures.  As you will see, this room was in desperate need of a make-over.

Before & After

We ordered a few posters of their favorite musicals and movies and framed them; The Sound of Music, Gone With the Wind, The Princess Bride, and Meet Me in St. Louis.  
An Audrey Hepburn of her in her famous gown from Sabrina has still not arrived.  
The girls can’t wait to see it.   


The girls love reading in bed…

On Caroline’s Night Stand
Robinson Crusoe
The Story of the World Volume 2
Hans Christian Anderson
Lord of the Rings
Alice in Wonderland
Out of the Silent Planet
On Addy’s Night Stand
The Trial and Death of Socrates
The House of Hades
Eusibius The History of the Church
Pride and Prejudice
The Norton Anthology of World Literature
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

  • You can visit my Pinterest Board and see all the links and inspirations.  I warn you though, I am not a good Pinterest person.  I cannot seem to get into it that much.  I did find it useful when trying to put together this room.  Maybe some afternoon I will sit down with a cup of tea and discover what everyone else seems to love, but for now I remain a novice. 
  • We spray painted the bookshelf and lined the back with contact paper from the Dollar Store.
  • We also spray painted the lamp shades.  I have watermelon pink spray paint dust all over my garage. 
  • We have a navy and white chevron rug on our wishlist…maybe for Christmas! 
For those of you with older kids who do a lot, how do you keep the balance?  Do you do special things for those who help you carry a heavy load?  

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