$2 DIY Barn Toy

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog

Our little guy loves playing with his little farm animals, and I’ve been wanting to find him a little barn for them. I saw a DIY barn on Pinterest recently and it inspired me to make one myself for him. I didn’t have a big tea box to use like in that tutorial, so I started brainstorming about what else I had on hand that I could use. I started picturing some of our favorite barns that we’ve seen at some of the homes nearby, and I had a perfect idea…an empty juice container.

Here are the supplies you will need to make this super simple toy for your own little one:
1. empty juice or milk container
2. sheet of red corrugated 12″x12″ scrapbook paper (I purchased mine at Joann’s)
3. sheet of brown felt
4. sheet of sticky back, stiff white felt
5. glue gun
6. razor blade
7. scissors
8. ruler
9. duct tape

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
1. I started by thoroughly cleaning and drying the juice box.
2. Then I measured the width of one of the sides (4 inches). I cut up the length of 4 inches along three of the sides of the juice container, starting from the bottom. This created a flap to be the new bottom of the barn. I also cut off the plastic pour spout and trimmed off the tab at the very top of the container that makes the top a bit more pointy.

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
3. I used duct tape to close and secure the flap to make the new bottom.
$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
4. My son actually picked out this red corrugated cardboard a long time ago when we were shopping for craft supplies, and I had no idea what we were going to use it for. Red is his favorite color, and the corrugated texture makes for a great sensory experience, so I was determined to find a use for it eventually. I realized that it would make the perfect “wood siding” for the barn. I measured the red paper to fit the sides of the carton, and glued on with the glue gun. $2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
5. Next I started with the roof. I used two sheets of felt, one sticky back white and one standard piece of brown felt. The white felt gives some much needed stiffness, and also gives the illusion of painted white trim around the roof. 🙂
$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
6. I measured out a piece of each felt for the roof, approximately 7″ x 5.5″. Then I stuck the brown felt to the sticky side of the white felt, and glued the whole thing on the roof with the glue gun.
$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
7. Then I used more of the sticky white felt to create the barn doors. I sketched out my design on the back (paper covering the sticky side), and cut out with a razor blade (cut over a cutting board).

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
8. Here are the cut out doors. Next I put the doors on, using a tiny bit of glue from the glue gun.

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
9. Last step was cutting out the doors with the razor blade.

$2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog $2 DIY Barn Toy - Alicia in Wonderland Blog
My little guy immediately took the barn out of the sensory bin, but he has had tons of fun playing with it. He keeps singing E-I-E-I-O when he plays with it. 🙂

Entry Room Updates

We recently went through and made a few updates to our entry room to get it even more organized than it was before. 🙂 You can see more details on the previous post here.

Here is the new layout…a few items were shifted around to make room for the armoire, and a few new smaller items were added as well.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I had this white armoire in storage at my parents’ house, and we realized that it would be perfect in our entry room since there is no coat closet in this house. At first I did not think it would work out well in this room since the floor is sloped (to allow the house to be handicapped accessible – the entry room used to be a porch with a step). However, my husband was able to use some shims to keep the armoire level, and we love finally having a “coat closet” in our entry room.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Inside the armoire, I put my box where I keep all of my gloves, and other miscellaneous items that I always seem to be looking for in a hurry when leaving the house.  On the same shelf is my hiking backpack, with all of our supplies for us and the dogs when we go on a hike.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

The armoire is the perfect spot for my husband to hang all of his black jackets as soon as he gets home, which has been helping keep them pet hair free. I also hung an old sweater organizer that I was no longer using, which makes a great organizer for shoes of a variety of sizes. The similar hanging shoe organizers never seem to work for me since they only hold standard size shoes. Using the sweater hanger allows us to fit in all of the shoes that we use the most often, including a couple of pairs of small boots.

The cross is something I have had for a long time, and was excited to find after it having gone missing for a couple of years. 🙂

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I added a couple of things to our entry table organizing: hand sanitizer for every time I come home from running errands (my immune system has gotten very weak after so many months of bed rest), earplugs (my husband always seems to be looking for a pair when he is working on loud projects), and sunscreen in the basket (he is bad about remembering to put some on before he goes out).

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

Umbrellas, a parasol for sunny days, rain boots, and my gardening boots.

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

I found the little cream scalloped box shelf at a thrift store, and it is the perfect spot for my husband’s sunglasses when he gets home. We put up a cute hanger to hold my favorite sunglasses. We have started using the chalk boards to keep track of our to-do lists and lists of projects around the house. We keep all of the important lists in our organizer app (we use Cozi on our phones and online), but it really helps us keep motivated to see the lists of projects written out right on the wall. We love crossing items off the list. 🙂

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - Entry Room Updates

More room tours coming soon!

Kitchen Remodel

Our plans for this kitchen have changed so many times in the past 7 months.  We originally wanted to keep as much of the kitchen intact as possible to reduce the amount of waste that we would be contributing to a landfill.  Home improvement shows always talk about kitchen remodels with “eco-friendly materials”, but no one ever addresses how much landfill waste is generated with each remodel.  We planned to keep as much of the existing kitchen as possible and make it work for us.

Plan A was to clean and repaint the existing cabinets, update them with some new hardware, and replace the existing cheap, chipped laminate countertops with new bamboo countertops.  We also planned to keep the existing floor tiles since they seemed to be in decent shape and we kind of liked them.  We soon realized that using the existing cabinets would not really be possible since they were falling apart, and they were dirty beyond the point where any reasonable amount of cleaning would help the situation.  Some of the pieces were even missing, and that plan got thrown out pretty quickly.

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Plan B involved removing the existing cabinets and quickly replacing them with some cabinets salvaged from my aunt & uncle’s recent kitchen remodel.  The cabinets were only a couple of years old, so we figured that would be a great low-cost and environmentally friendly option (saving their old cabinets from the landfill, yay!).  We planned to get the cabinets in and set up, and then repaint them after they were installed (in the interest in saving time and work space).  We were still planning to use the bamboo countertops, so we went ahead and ordered them, thinking it would take a while for them to be delivered (it did not – they came way faster than we expected).

Once the original cabinets in our house were removed, we quickly realized that replacing them would not be as simple as we had thought.  There were holes in the wall, areas of missing drywall, no exterior insulation, and many other problems.  My husband then had to make the decision to tear out all of the walls and fix all of the problems before putting the cabinets in place.  That was the longest part of our kitchen remodel, which got stretched out over many months with him being gone out of town quite a bit of that time (for work and with prepping our Texas house for sale).

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Here he replaced the window, and found a very clever way to repurpose some found materials.

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It turned out that there were actually three layers of wall that needed to be removed.  Once the walls were finished, we now had a huge gap of space where the existing tiles did not cover the floor all around the kitchen.  There were also spots under the old cabinets where there were no tiles at all.  As much as we didn’t want to rip out the old tiles, we felt we were left with no choice.  My husband ripped out the old ceramic tiles and began replacing them with the new marble tiles that we picked out.

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We planned to set aside the usable cabinets that were originally from our kitchen and save them for when my husband builds us a garage (originally high on the priority list).  However, we have had to adjust the priorities around here quite a bit lately and the garage project has unfortunately gotten demoted to the bottom of the priority list with the new baby on the way.  We may end up donating those cabinets since it is driving us nuts to have cabinets sitting around in the yard and patio.

At this point, my husband started seriously evaluating our plan to repurpose my aunt & uncle’s old cabinets.  His original plan for those cabinets involved cutting apart and rebuilding many of them to get them to meet the sizes we would need.  We would also need some additional cabinets to fill in some areas where we had nothing that would work.  Before we started any of the kitchen remodeling, we picked out and ordered our appliances, countertops, and our farmhouse style kitchen sink, all of which have been sitting around in various rooms of our house, still in boxes.  The salvaged cabinets would not fit the microwave vent combo or the farmhouse sink, and would need some major modifications.

Life with a pregnant woman with multiple food allergies and no kitchen in our home has not been easy for my husband.  This kitchen remodel dragged on way more than either of us ever expected.  We also did not expect that I would be pregnant in the middle of the whole thing.  Given all the things on his plate currently (work, a year+ long intensive training program for his work which involved a lot of traveling, fixing up & trying to sell that house in Texas, etc.), he was afraid that it would take him another number of months to get those salvaged cabinets functional for our needs.  As much as we weren’t looking forward to another huge expense at this moment, we decided the best option was to move onto Plan C.

Plan C meant donating those salvaged cabinets and ordering new ones.  It all actually started when I was at Home Depot looking for more paint swatches, saw a Martha Stewart Kitchens catalog and brought it home for organizing ideas.  I kept telling him how nice it was that they gave away such a beautiful catalog for free. 🙂  Next thing we know, I am obsessed with a particular style in the catalog and we are in the store ordering all new cabinets.  They said the cabinets would take a minimum of five weeks to be ready, but (surprise!) we got a call that they were ready for delivery way earlier than we expected (so they had to sit in our living room for a while).

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The cabinets being ready early was both good news and bad news.  The flooring was not finished yet, and we had not had a chance to donate the two sets of cabinets that have been cluttering up all of our spare rooms, side yard, patio and trailer.

Originally, I was planning to stencil the accent wall in the kitchen with a large scale stencil that I ordered.  However, I have been having some problems with my pregnancy, including a trip to the emergency room due to way too early contractions.  I have been put on bed rest for the time being and have not been able to work on any of the projects with the house that I had planned for the past few weeks.  The kitchen walls will just have to be solid yellow until I am feeling a little better.  I also have not been able to work on the gardening at all, which unfortunately means all of my second season veggie garden plans have been postponed for the time being. 😦

Here is a quick preview of all of the progress my husband has made on the kitchen lately…almost functional!
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How To: Support Drooping Foxglove Flowers

Foxgloves are beautiful perennials that can get quite tall after a while.  Once they get toward the end of a blooming period, the top can tend to get a little droopy.  You can see how they looked when I originally planted them here.  After mine started getting a little droopy, I used this technique to prop them up.

I unwound a plain wire hanger (the natural wire colored ones work best for blending in).  I straightened out the hanger as much as possible, and carefully stuck the straighter end into the ground near the base of the plant, being careful to avoid the roots.  I used the curved end of the hanger to wrap around the stem of the flower, providing support.  From this very close view you can see the hanger, but from the edge of the flower bed, the hanger is barely visible!  Once all of the blooms are spent, I will be cutting back the tall stalk to encourage new growth.

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Be sure to check out my previous post with additional garden support structures made out of recycled items, seen here!

Patio #1 Updates!

I have been quite busy lately reworking everything in the main patio.  We realized that it was poor planning on our part to mix in the dwarf fruit trees with the flowers in the planters for watering purposes, and that it would be better for both if they were segregated into their own areas.

Since the planters have two levels, there are a few distinct zones now.  The upper level was already primarily roses, and we are leaving it like that (I added in some more flowers between the roses).  The upper level in the area closest to the house was originally overrun with weeds and ivy when we moved in.  We found some roses on sale that were too good of a deal to pass up, and those are placed up there, waiting for us to be ready to plant them.

The lower level by the fire pit now has just the dwarf almond tree, one of our 3 dwarf lemon trees, and a dwarf kumquat tree.  There is also a straggler artichoke that is waiting to be relocated, but I need my husband’s help with removing a large stump in the flower bed area where the artichoke will find its new home. 🙂

The lower level closer to the house is now completely dedicated to flowers.  I dug up and divided some of the shasta daisies.  They don’t look all that great at the moment, but I am hoping that they will be hardy enough to recover being divided  and replanted at a less than ideal time of year (ideally this should be done in early spring, but that wasn’t really an option since we were busy closing escrow at that time!).

When I was reorganizing all of the planter beds, I realized that there were a lot of hidden plants from previous owners!  There were tons of tiny little begonias planted behind and under the shasta daisies, away from sight.  I also found an asparagus fern which was very sad and droopy in nearly full sun.  I relocated the begonias and fern to my partial shade garden in the front, and they are so much happier!  I also found a large spider plant, which I happily divided into plantings for tons of hanging planters around the pergola.  Nothing like finding free plants that you didn’t know that you had!

I also finished out my decorating plan for this space…the theme of this patio is Texas Bohemian!  It is really inspired by a lot of the amazing funky boutiques my husband has taken me to all over Texas.  We have two patios, and decided to go with a “his and hers” decorating style for them.  Since this is the patio where the barbeque is located, this is “his” patio.  I made sure I didn’t use any pink in the decorating here. 🙂  My patio will be a little different…post coming soon!

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Recycling & Re-Purposing In the Garden Part 2: Garden Structures

We currently have a hidden junky area of our yard with tons of items that are on landfill death row.  The previous owners left a lot of items behind when they left, and we have strangely found uses for quite a few things. We are hoping to find uses for as many of the items in the junk pile as possible…hopefully we will get some more creative ideas for the rest of the items. 🙂

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How To: Eliminate the Green Waste Bin

When we first moved into this house, the yard was very neglected.  I spent weeks filling up the two green waste bins and it felt like I would never catch up with getting rid of all the piles I had around the yard.  I started researching other ways that I could start reusing some of the waste from our yard instead of sending it to the city.  I have now found a use for everything I was throwing away in the green bins previously!

1.  This is something I have always done anyway, but grass clippings go into the compost bin.

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2.  I have always heard that pine needles do not make good mulch for vegetable beds because they are acidic.  I spent so much time filling up those bins with pine needles.  I then read a recent study at a university testing the actual impact pine needles have on the pH of soil.  The study found that pine needles that have been sitting out for at least 3 weeks have no impact on the soil pH.  Now, instead of throwing all the pine needles out, I gather them into a pile and let them age into good mulch for my vegetable beds.  While I am waiting for them to be ready to use in the vegetable beds, I use them as mulch under the pine tree in our backyard.  Now I have enough to keep all of my vegetable beds nicely mulched!

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3.  Instead of throwing out branches, twigs, and some dried ivy leaves from the trees and vines I have pruned, we decided to pile it up for making more mulch.  I let it all dry out, and then I chipped it up to make more mulch.

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4.  Instead of tossing out the weeds from the garden beds and grass, I am using the weeds to make a type of compost tea (original post here). Everything has really been flourishing since I started feeding them with this as an added supplement!

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