Now that she has quit sucking her thumb (thanks to Dr Thumb) Gwen can have her fingernails painted. For her first manicure she chose this bright purpley-pink with pink and purple glitter. Sounds about right.
Now that she has quit sucking her thumb (thanks to Dr Thumb) Gwen can have her fingernails painted. For her first manicure she chose this bright purpley-pink with pink and purple glitter. Sounds about right.
Pancakes x mini donuts: I’ve had this idea in my head for about a million years, and tbh I don’t know why I didn’t try it out sooner! It’s so easy, all you need is boxed pancake mix and a waffle iron-style mini donut maker and you, too, can make delicious, bite-sized pannuts! My whole family loved these, the little kids especially. The basic “recipe” and instructions are below, with copious notes as well.
Pannuts (Pancake Donuts)
yield: 30 mini pannuts
– complete extra fluffy pancake mix
– vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray
– powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit, chocolate, etc for serving
1. Mix your pancake batter according to the package directions (typically 1 cup of batter and 2/3 to 3/4 cups water). Using a whisk, stir until it is almost completely lump-free, then allow it to rest for five minutes while your mini donut machine heats up.
2. Oil the cavities of your donut machine. Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of batter into each cavity, filling to the top, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
3. Using a small wooden or silicone spoon remove pannuts from the machine, and repeat steps 2-3 until all your batter is used up. Serve each batch immediately with powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit or chocolate.
Notes on Batter
You want a batter that produces a thick, fluffy pancake; if you use a flatter batter (ha ha) it won’t rise enough inside the machine and the top of your pannuts won’t touch the upper cooking surface to get that nice golden colour. I didn’t want to waste “real” ingredients on this experiment so rather than make a batter from scratch I used a boxed “extra fluffy” buttermilk pancake mix that I knew from experience would rise enough, but if you have a go-to recipe for fluffy pancakes feel free to use that.
Notes on Mini Donut Makers
The one I have is a six-cavity donut maker made by SmartPlanet (similar to this) but there are lots of different brands/models available with four, six, seven or even twelve cavities! I don’t have personal experience with any of these other models but I feel like they probably all work the same.
Notes on Oil
Some people don’t like to use non-stick spray on these machines because it is messy and hard to clean up. I am of the opinion that it is easier to use the spray, but vegetable oil wiped on with a paper towel works just as well. Use whichever product/method you prefer.
Notes on Cooking Time & Quantity
I first did a single test donut with 3 minutes cook time, which came out slightly underdone. I increased the time to 4 minutes and that was perfect with my machine and batter combination. I encourage you to test with your machine and batter as the time required may be different. It’s also a good idea to test how much batter you need to fill the donut cavities; a different machine might have larger or smaller cavities that require more or less batter. Depending on this your final pannut yield may vary.
please ignore the two-tone paint job on the walls, I haven’t finished repainting the playroom yet! The space behind the kitchen on the right is where the minicribs for the daycare kids will be stored when not in use.
Last spring when we were doing a big apartment purge in preparation for having new floors installed, one of the things I got rid of was my old blue retro-style play kitchen from KidKraft. Long time readers will know I’d had that thing forever, and it was pretty much the last one they made before they redesigned the door hinges- mine were always falling off. It was definitely time to replace it, but I wanted something different so it took some time.
I decided that a corner kitchen would be a better fit; since I rearranged the apartment I have a large playroom space and a bigger kitchen would accommodate more children, as well as provide plenty of storage for all the play food and dishes. I also wanted it to look nice, and so I spent a lot of time browsing blogger playroom tours, haha! I really fell in love with the white corner kitchen I saw here on Hello Baby Brown but unfortunately that colourway was discontinued (I emailed KidKraft to ask) and the other one available for that model was a dark black-brown colour that wasn’t what I wanted.
Early on in my search I added this white & pink corner kitchen to my wishlist, even though I hated the pink, because if push came to shove I thought I could do some light play kitchen remodelling. Then on Black Friday it went deeply on sale and push really did come to shove! I had to wait until I had some time off work to get started so this was my big project over winter break.
photo from KidKraft
This is not quite a Do-It-Yourself, more like a I-Did-This-And-You-Could-Too. I would have liked to show everything step by step but most of the work was done in the evenings when it was too dark to take decent pictures (I could barely take them even now!), however it’s all fairly straightforward. I basically only changed four things:
– the pink and white backsplash
– the pink, white and silver doors and front panels
– the pink and silver hardware
– the pink and white curtains
This may seem like quite a lot but the entire frame of the kitchen was plain white so what I changed was mostly just the details.
The utensil holder is really a toothbrush cup I picked up at Homesense.
This was the first thing I tackled and was probably also the easiest and fastest to do. I used the same peel & stick subway tiles I put up in my real kitchen. I’d hoped there were enough pieces leftover to complete this project but most of what I had was fairly small scraps so I ended up ordering three more tiles, which turned out to be more than enough. I just measured carefully, cut the tiles to size and stuck them in place.
As luck would have it they were just one dollar each from Home Depot with free shipping so this was also very cost-effective!
It took me a while to decide which of these doors to paint. The fridge & freezer were white, the microwave and washer were pink and the oven was silver. Only the pink was truly yuck to me, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to easily match the silver or white finish with paint so in the end I went with a medium grey (quelle surprise) for all the doors, the panels adjacent to the oven and microwave, and the two arched pieces that go over the counter (these were also pink).
The pink pieces I painted both sides, but the white and silver I only painted the front to save myself a little time. I removed as much of the hardware as I could, including the clear plastic windows in the microwave and oven doors, and taped around those pieces I couldn’t remove. The paint I used was BeautiTone Cabinet and Furniture Paint in Metropolis Mood. The owner of my local hardware store recommended this paint and OH MY GOD I LOVE IT. It went on beautifully and smoothly with a mini foam roller and dried to such a nice finish that I’m starting to believe I could use it on my real kitchen cabinets (the refinishing of which I know would be an act of pure hubris).
So far it’s proven very durable even with how rough toddlers play; there’s one small scratch in one of the arches but I think that happened when I was moving the pieces around before they were fully cured, and it will be easy to touch up. I myself accidentally slammed the wooden edge of a WheelyBug ride-on toy into the front of the oven and the grey paint wasn’t damaged at all while the original white finish on the frame chipped! You can see it in the pic above. I definitely recommend this paint.
The wooden crates the dishes are stored in were the packaging from the musical instruments I bought last month.
The hardware included the door handles, the frame on the chalkboard, the oven knobs, the sink, faucet and stovetop burners, a holder for the included toy phone and the round door of the washer. Now, most of these pieces were silver, which I had no problem with, BUT the handle and knobs for the oven, as well as the chalkboard frame were pink (the toy phone that came with this kitchen is also pink, but I left it as is and gave it to Gwen to cover in Peppa Pig stickers).
I’d planned to spray paint all of these, but I realized the the moving parts on the faucet and the opening mechanism for the washer door would make that impractical. So I decided to leave the silver pieces as they were and spray only the pink pieces, but my friend Lillian clued me in to a product called RUB N BUFF.
This is basically a kind of wax with metallic pigment in it that you rub on with your fingers and then buff with a cloth. After a short search I found some locally at an art supply store for about $8 and picked up a tube in my chosen colour, Gold Leaf) and got to rubbin and buffin. I wore latex gloves for the rubbing and used some unused, leftover stain-application cloths for the buffing. The pieces had different finishes so I had some mixed results (the knobs for the stovetop in particular turned out quite patchy), but overall I’m very happy with it, especially as I got the best coverage on the pink pieces which were the main problem for me.
There were a few pieces of hardware I didn’t want gold: the phone holder, the sink, and the inner ring of the washer door I wanted to be a gloss white and the stove burners a gloss black. These I decided to spray paint and BOY HOWDY WAS IT A MESS. I don’t know why I always think spraypainting things will go well for me but it’s honestly always a disaster. I don’t know of the problem this time was the paint I chose (Krylon Fusion for Plastic) or the finish on the pieces, but the paint pooled weirdly and left clustery round patches uncovered. I had to do about a billion coats to get full coverage, which took days. In the end the result was just okay; the pieces have a bit of a weird texture to them, but it’s not very noticeable except for on the burners, and metal burners for a real gas stove have a bit of texture anyway so I think it’s fine..
Last but not least. These were easy, I used a scrap I had leftover from hemming some Ikea curtains (unfortunately discontinued but similar here) for the hallway closets. Using the original pink & white curtains as a rough pattern I cut two pieces of fabric in the size I needed. Since two sides of each piece were already hemmed, I just hemmed the other two sides, forming a channel for the curtain rod at the tops, using stitch witchery iron-on hemming tape.
The washer makes excellent bouncy ball storage.
So there you have it! The only part that’s technically not done is replacing the painted-over pretend buttons & displays for the appliances. The stove top still has on/off displays next to the knobs (with a little rogue pink even!) but everything else is gone. I scanned the pieces with the controls before I painted them so I could redesign them the way I want. I’ll get around to that eventually, but in the meantime the blank panels don’t seem to be detracting from the enjoyment the kids are getting from the new kitchen!
Taylor and I bought a new dishwasher in mid-December but when the technician came (not until last week) to install it he found MOLD inside. This is not something you can fix (the mold is apparently deep, deep in the machine where you can’t see the majority of it or more importantly, clean it out) so now we’re trying to have the dang thing picked up and get refunded the not-insigificant amount of money we spent. It’s been frustrating and disappointing, as we’ve needed a new dishwasher for a long time and spent over a year researching before deciding on one what almost every review site has declared the best brand. When I found the exact model I wanted on sale $500 off it seemed too good to be true and GUESS WHAT, IT WAS. It’s been nothing but an expensive, time-wasting hassle and if I could I’d say FORGET IT to the dishwasher and put in a wine fridge instead.
Then in the middle of dealing with this I found out that Nicky’s SkipHop Tuo high chair (which I already have problems with) was recalled! So now I have to scramble to find a temporary high chair to use while I wait for my replacement to arrive. (I’ve updated my review post with regards to the recall so click here to find out if you have a Tuo that needs replacing).
In addition to this, I’ve been dealing with this frustrating tax problem for close to a year now that is honestly driving me crazy. It was my fault in the first place, like I messed up, but I’ve done everything I can to try to resolve it and it’s just dragging on forever! Plus every time a new person becomes involved it’s like they start the whole process from the beginning again and I get scary letters threatening legal action if I don’t immediately pay $30,000 (which I swear I don’t actually owe) which is… not ideal.
These things on top of our regular busy life and my tedious health woes are really overwhelming, but I’m honestly trying to stay positive and optimistic about them all. I’ve done my part (by which I mean MADE SO MANY PHONE CALLS), now it’s time for the world to do its!
how many pictures like this can I post here before it’s considered illegal?
I’ve been complaining all over social media about how we are all sick with gross colds, but Nicky took it to a whole other level this week by getting croup. I didn’t have any experience with croup (neither of the girls ever had it) outside of Anne of Green Gables (I do know not to treat it with ipecac syrup though…) so I just thought it was one of those weird old timey diseases people don’t get anymore! Apparently not, and he’s been up the last few nights, wheezing and bark-coughing. Thankfully he actually has it quite mildly and seems to be on the mend already.
I closed the daycare on Wednesday (before I knew what he had) but according to regulations children with mild croup don’t need to be excluded from daycare, so while I’m technically open today and tomorrow, all my clients chose to not bring their kids. So my winter vacation is starting early and I guess every croup has a silver lining?
Anyway. Here are a few pics from our mini Mini Christmas last weekend. Everyone being sick kind of put a damper on our plans so we didn’t go out to do any activities (except for a dentist appointment for me & the girls, ugh what was I thinking when I scheduled that???) but we still had a nice time at home. On Friday night my sister came over and we built some Christmas Lego sets and watched Riverdale, and on Saturday we had a Chinese food feast, built more Legos (we’re honestly still not done O___o) and busted out the Christmas pajamas. Only the kids got new ones this year but they might just be the cutest ever.
Gwen has a bad cough so I let her stay home from school today. Actually it’s more like I forced her to, she was very upset about not getting to see her teacher. She cheered up when she got to watch cartoons and build Lego all morning though. Now the little kids are napping so she gets to watch cartoons in my bedroom instead of the living room, which is a treat reserved only for sick days. Sym got her 1st term report card and did very well in almost all her classes, almost all As and Bs. We want her to get her biology grade up a little (right now she has a C, but she did get 80% on her final lab which is a good sign) but she got a B in math, which is a class she’s struggled in for the last six years. Nicky started walking.
It was foggy and gloomy all last week and I thought it would be better to have sunny days but the whole world is mucky and brown right now. Normally I’m very opposed to snow but this year I wish it would. Just a bit. But I’ve checked the forecast and it’s supposed to stay sunny this week, rainy over the weekend, and then even sunnier straight through Christmas. On the weekend we took the little kids for a walk through Stanley Park to Beaver Lake and it was nice enough, but I really want to see & experience some winter and not just mud and dead leaves. Taylor and I had decided to skip going up Grouse for the Peak of Christmas again this year but that decision might need reevaluation.
Tonight I’m trying out a new spaghetti sauce recipe. I need to finish a pair of shoes for one friend’s baby and start a pair for another. I got the new (tacky with pink accents) play kitchen I ordered on Black Friday and I’m in the redecoration planning stages. White everything, grey everything, silver hardware, brass hardware? I was planning on using the leftover stick-on tiles for the backsplash but I didn’t have enough so I ordered a few more- Home Depot has them individually for A DOLLAR right now, which I feel has to be a mistake but I swear they had better ship them to me! The whole project is going to take a lot of painting before I can even start assembling so it probably won’t be done until after the break, but I’m planning on sharing the whole process with you once I’m finished.
things on my mind as we roll into this last month of 2017…
I remember when I was a kid trying to spy over my mom’s shoulder at the hand-written list of gifts for all us kids. To stop my own kids from doing the same I made that most boring and tedious of documents, A SPREADSHEET that I colour-coded and shared with Taylor. I think this will also help us to avoid a replay of last Christmas, (I gave you my heart? no) when we kept forgetting what we’d already bought and kept buying more and ended up with WAY too many gifts.
Gwen’s school concert was last night (so bizarrely early imo) and it was cute in the way that elementary school concerts are cute. Gwen did a great job and Nicky really enjoyed himself, jumping up and down in our laps and clapping, through about half of it before becoming overtired and angry. Thankfully Gwen’s class performance was early in the show so Taylor was able to leave early without missing her.
decorating, decorating, decorating
I keep rearranging the lights. I’m pretty happy with how they are now, although I feel like I need oneeeee moreeeee strand to put around the fence railing above my stairs to really complete the look outside. We’re going to be decorating the tree tonight and I think getting started on building some holiday Legos this weekend? Then there’s the holiday Playmobils as well, and the little paper houses and garlands and and and…
Taylor and Gwen have Lego advent calendars this year, and I really wanted one for myself but I couldn’t find one I liked. So I guess next year I will have to make my own! I didn’t have time this year but maybe it would be cool? I had a brief idea of making them to sell but the packing sounds like a logistical nightmare. Oh, I and I need to make a new regular calendar for 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for that since I’ll prob be offering it as a free download again
I typically schedule my winter vacation to sync up with the school break, and this year it’s the last week of December and the first week of January. There’s three more weeks of work left, but I can do it. I can do it. This week Taylor’s had out-of-office training and hasn’t been able to take Gwen to school so I’ve been doing drop offs and pick ups with all the little kids. It’s been… ok. Last week I had one of the daycare kids walking so Nicky could go in the double stroller with the other daycare kid, but he (the walking kid) is not yet two so it took a long time and on rainy days we got drenched. I got a stroller board for him instead and it’s been so much better not having to a) walk at the speed of a toddler, and b) wear Nicky for hours every day. I’m thinking I can start doing drop offs regularly a few days a week so Taylor isn’t always getting into the office so late, but still, I’m glad this week is over (it’s a pro-d day) and I don’t have to go down to the school for three whole days!
Those poor palmiers, I very very diligently halved the recipe and then grabbed the wrong size of measuring cup and used twice as much sugar as they needed! They were (mostly still edible) but pretty well encased in carmelized sugar. I need a do-over on them.
Last week Gwen had her first-ever Pajama Day at school and honestly you’ve never seen a more excited kid. Also: they were allowed to bring stuffies and two of her friends brought toys Gwen gave them for their birthdays.
Pork chops with apples & onions are a favourite family dinner, but I need to talk about those peas. I threw them together at the last minute, cooking them in butter with lemon zest and smoked salt and they were delicious. Even picky eater Gwen admitted she liked them “a lil bit,” and Nicky couldn’t get enough.
I spent a few evenings sewing a couple of rag rugs together using this DIY to make a new pouf. The rugs were $13 each and I stuffed it with old duvets and pillows I was planning on getting rid of so in addition to being easy it was very affordable! Initially I wanted more neutral-coloured rugs but the ones I found were much more expensive and I decided to go with the thrifty option. The kids and pets certainly think it’s great.
I have been working hard to slowly but surely refresh our living space and HONESTLY I am so happy with how it’s all turning out. The living room/playroom switch has opened up so much more space for playing, and just makes so much more sense than they way it was before. The simple act of repainting the (new) living room and dining room all the same colour makes those areas seem so much bigger as well. We shortened Taylor’s desk which got rid of even more wasted space and clutter, and opened up the office into the living room. And other than our new couch (which was sorely needed) I think the only purchases have been paint and a few small decor items. Other than that, it’s all been rearranging.
This weekend I’m going to repaint the wall where Taylor’s desk used to be (there were a couple of shelves above that we took down that left a major amount of holes behind), and next I’m going to focus on the playroom. I want to finish repainting, move the blackout blinds to make more space for naptime, create new book storage (shelves? a bookcase? boxes?) and invest in a new play kitchen. I got rid of Ol’ Bluey when we had the floors redone but I need a new one. I just feel like it’s something kids really love! I’m like 99% decided on this one, although I loathe the pink and would paint over it/replace it. It has a lot of space for play and I like the shape a lot. I have it planned out in my mind how I’m going to install it in this weird, awkward corner while still leaving space behind it to store the folded minicribs when they aren’t in use, with a shelf above it that has a framed poster mounted on the front to store the minicrib mattresses. It’s hard to explain but I’m very confident that it will work. I’m just hoping that the kitchen drops in price a lil more before I pull the trigger on it.
Also this weekend we’re going to start putting the tree up! Long-time readers will know I like to have it up, bare, for a while to let the kids get used to it, so we won’t decorating until December 1st. A little Christmas has already started sneaking in though: the new mushroom ornament and the felt Santa (made from a kit by Gwen) are already brightening up the room with holiday cheer.
Last week was so hectic around here, I’m very much looking forward to taking it easy. We still have Gwen’s actual birthday dinner on Wednesday and I have an MRI scheduled for the same day (first thing in the morning before work, yikes) but other than that there’s nothing out of the ordinary on my schedule.
You know, I made sure to charge the battery for my camera so I could take proper pics of the kids in their costumes but the battery is still in the charger and all my Halloween pictures are on my phone.
Gwen chose to dress up this year as a Chocolate Chip Cookie Kitty Cat Princess and no lie, I killed it. Her costume turned out perfectly and at her request I also made a Chocolate Chip Cookie Kitty Cake Royalty costume for Nicky. She had a great time at her school Halloween party, and so much fun trick-or-treating! We went with her best friend Hugo, Hugo’s sister Frankie and their cousin Taiga, and also went to one building with her friend Danielle from school. She is still a little shy and requires a parent when going up to most houses and Taylor had Nicky in the stroller, so Sym handed out candy at our place so I could go with Gwen. After we’d gone around the block Taylor took the little kids home and put them to bed while I took over candy duties from Sym.
We decorated and tantset up our Halloween candy station at the front of the house this year and I honestly don’t even know how many kids came through. Hundreds, literally. We were giving out candy for around three to three and a half hours! We actually didn’t run out of candy but we had over 700 and there’s maybe 100 left? I think for next year I need to get some larger decorations and more spooky lights for my display.
Now that Halloween is over I need to REALLY get to work on Gwen’s birthday party plans. I have some half-formed ideas for her outer space-themed party but everything is still very nebulous (GET IT) and this party is… this Saturday. OOPS.