diy play kitchen

finally. here’s the post on how to spruce up a play kitchen for your little one. it doesn’t have to be the ikea kitchen; it can be any play kitchen. i’m just going to show you what improvements i made to penny’s kitchen so you can incorporate some (or all!) of these ideas into whichever kitchen set you end up getting for your child.

we decided to get the duktig kitchen from ikea. it’s only $99 and is a blank canvas because it features blonde wood (a swedish staple) and minimalist details. we knew that we didn’t want to get something too girly or pink because penny’s future sibling(s) could be brother(s). plus, we wanted something that would go well with her play room and not clash.

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here’s what the duktig kitchen looks like. it’s not bad, but definitely a little boring!

before i decided what i wanted to do, the amazing pinterest offered a lot of ideas. so again, i am not taking credit on how well the final product turned out.. although it did take quite a lot of patience. i was hoping to whip out the big reveal in 2, 3 days tops but i didn’t take into account how much spray paint would be needed.. or how long things would take to dry completely.

materials needed

duktig kitchen (or any kitchen!)

spray paint: white and gold (i used krylon)

big pieces of cardboard

white foam board

marble contact paper (found on amazon or home depot, loews, etc.)

lever, ruler, pencil & eraser, and a black sharpie

all-purpose glue and/or packaging tape

gloves (latex or cloth)

scissors and a cutting tool (box cutter)

the first thing i did was to spray all the of the hardware, gold. at first i used craft paper to rest the pieces on but i found out the hard way that it sticks onto the paint. i had to respray multiple times to mask the spots where the paint lifted from being stuck onto the paper. use cardboard!!! also, you want to get, at least, 2 cans of white spray paint. i went through 3, and that’s because i used some for the ikea chairs (although i only sprayed 2 small boards). to save time, and spray paint, i didn’t paint the side of the boards that would face inwards, if you get my drift. these would be hidden when assembled so you wouldn’t see the white paint.

again, use cardboard!

then, i used the ikea manual to figure out which boards go where when assembled so i could avoid spraying certain sides if necessary.

spray painting these boards white took the longest… days.. it took many coats of white spray paint to get an even look because the boards soaked up the paint. it also didn’t help that it rained often and was really windy during this time, making it difficult to get any work done. i would spray paint out on the back patio (thankfully the sunroom above provides a roof) but the wind would just blow the spray paint everywhere. this is where i figured out gloves would come in handy because i got a lot of spray paint on my fingertips from moving pieces around, and also when the wind would decide to blow while i was spraying.

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notice how i only sprayed the legs for one of the boards because that’s the side that faces inwards when assembled.

after the boards were complete, i made the faux subway tile backsplash using a white foam board, sharpie, and a ruler. i recommend having a lever or anything longer than a ruler, like a yardstick for straight, even lines. i didn’t have one so i had to erase frequently.

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i laid the foam board above the countertop to get an idea of how well it would fit. i ended up trimming the edges so they wouldn’t stick out from behind the kitchen walls.

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i forget what i did here, but i think i measured every 2.5 inches so i could get even lines.

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here’s where a yardstick would come in handy. i used a ruler to draw lines all the way across the board and i had to keep shifting the ruler.

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i measured three inches across to make the individual tiles. remember to alternate every row.

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here’s what it looks like after retracing the pencil lines with a black sharpie.

next was the faux marble countertop! i unrolled the marble contact paper and peeled off the protective paper. then, i placed the countertop face down on top of the paper and pressed firmly.

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after folding up the sides of the contact paper, cut an ‘x’ across the openings for the stove and sink. then you wrap the pieces around so they stick to the underside of the countertop. the corners proved to be very tricky. i had to keep unpeeling the paper and snipping here and there to try and get smooth, rounded corners.

finally, i started assembling the kitchen. i did this while penny was playing in the same room. you do want to be very careful as there are a lot of screws. i placed everything on a table and made sure i didn’t drop anything. penny is also really great at entertaining herself so she would crawl over sometimes to touch the furniture but then crawl away to play. i also had dennis with me most of the time so that helped immensely.

the last bit was to attach the backsplash to the kitchen. i held it behind the kitchen and saw that the edges peeked out on either side. i marked both sides and trimmed the edges. i applied all-purpose glue to the board but it still fell off.. what kept the board from staying put was taping it down with packaging tape. it’s not noticeable and you can always peel it off after the glue dries, though i kept the tape on.

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ta-da! the finished kitchen!! it’s much more glamorous and eye-catching than the original model, isn’t it? it was definitely a labor of love, but well worth it!

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penny keeping herself busy by reading.. she loves to read books, like her mama!

now that the diy furniture stuff is out of the way, i’ve been focusing full-time on planning for penny’s birthday: it’s in a month!!! i’ve had a lot of help from my sister and genie on decorations, and dennis has provided assistance with the big items. i’m halfway done with the second dol tower but i still have another one left after that…

penny’s smash cake photo session is this friday so we’ve been prepping for that as well. she will be wearing a hanbok that my mom gave us for one of the outfit changes, and she will wear a different hanbok for the actual party. it’s neat that she will get to wear both a traditional and a modern one. all that’s left for friday’s photo shoot is her cake: i’ll be making a giant cupcake friday morning so fingers crossed that it turns out well! ah, we also have to figure out what the parents are going to wear… that’s always a dilemma.

easter weekend

ah, penny’s in bed for the night and i’m on the couch updating my blog while taking breaks to eat 갈비찜 (braised short ribs) that my mil made.

today flew by ~~ these days seem to be going by so fast. i helped genie set up for olivia’s first birthday party this saturday so my mil watched penny from 12-6:30pm. i can’t believe olivia’s dol is this weekend!!! i’m actually nervous, and excited, for genie because i know first-hand just how stressful planning for a baby’s first birthday is. genie is very crafty (like me) and she made these beautiful tissue paper flowers as a backdrop. i can’t wait to blog about olivia’s birthday!

i finally started gluing the beans for penny’s dol towers. i need to make 3: one for her name, one that says “축 돌” (abbreviated form of “congratulations – first bithday”), and the last one of a lamb (penny’s zodiac). i’ve been putting this project off but now that i’m in the midst of it i find it oddly therapeutic.  i also started assembling her play kitchen today so i hope to finish that after i finish blogging.

speaking of her play kitchen, i finished refurbishing and putting together penny’s table and chairs set. i used 5 different spray paint colors because i wanted to do color-blocking.

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didn’t they turn out great??  i love the colors that i chose: ballet pink, watermelon, sea glass, white and gold.

materials needed

krylon spray paint

painter’s tape

pencil and eraser

ruler

big pieces of cardboard

i was inspired by a pinterest post on color-blocking ikea latt table and chairs. i measured 4 inches on the table and chairs’ legs and taped them off. then i taped other areas so they could be different colors. this project took a lot longer than i had anticipated. i figured i’d use 1-2 layers, they would dry and i would be able to put them together in 2 days tops. reality: it took about 4-5 days. the white spray paint goes on really thin, and i think the wood absorbs it, because i used up an entire can of spray paint even though i only sprayed 4 small pieces of wood on the chairs! i also used the white spray paint for the play kitchen so i’m on my third can now!

anyway, the large pieces of cardboard are to have something to spray and have the pieces of furniture dry on. at first, i used a huge sheet of craft paper but the wet pieces got stuck to the paper and i had to scrape the paper off and respray to get an even look. 😦

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they’re so adorable! i’m so proud of myself 😀

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the furniture was finished in time for penny’s easter portrait 🙂

we went to homegoods on friday to buy black pantyhose but ended up also purchasing a mini armchair and ottoman for $79 – so much cheaper than pottery barn kids and it comes with a a darling footrest! plus, i read feedback from multiple people that homegoods/tj maxx has better quality kids’ chairs than pbk. good to know!

notice the easter canvas? more artwork!

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baby feet are sooooo cute.. penny’s getting ready to dip her feet into paint!

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i used a disposable changing pad to protect the mat (i was going to throw it out anyway so i used that instead of craft paper.) i also had wipes and paper towels ready to quickly clean her feet before washing them with soap and water. it’s so much easier to do footprint art rather than hands because babies arent’t cooperative enough to lay their hands flat for an art project.

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ta-da!

i also made and mailed out easter cards. see below!

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materials needed

card stock

paint & paintbrush

glue

markers and fine-point sharpie pens

googly eyes

border stencil

i wanted the cards to fit in a long envelope so i measured to make sure they would. then i added an elegant touch by only stenciling the bottom.

 

penny rarely wears shoes. she’s not walking yet so what’s the point? more like a waste of money. but she’s standing more now and wearing shoes will help her get used to them. the above picture shows how fascinated she is with her footwear 😉

i hadn’t been to church in a few months because service starts at 10am and that’s during, or just before, penny’s naptime. this past sunday, i brought her after she woke up. we missed the entire service and lunch was al most over but we made it, at least.. and i was able to catch up with friends. i had also seen some the night before because one of our friends had gotten married at the waterview. dennis and i were the last ones off the dance floor, and we have a baby at home!

okay, it’s already 9pm sadly.. and i still need to finish my dinner, complete assembling the play kitchen, and glue some beans. i’m already falling asleep though…

10 months and counting!

IMG_5295we’ve reached the double digits for months – just two more and she’ll be a year old :-O

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it hasn’t yet been a week since my last post but so much has happened since then. and, i don’t want the following entry to be super long because it’s crammed with everything that has been going on. i’m trying to whip this post out while penny naps because after she wakes up, i’m taking her to michael’s crafts store to buy more spray paint and other items for sprucing up her new ikea furniture.

we took a family outing (grandparents included) to ikea on monday to buy “a few items” for penny’s playroom and ended up spending over $500.. how…?! it’s so easy to spend money… my gosh, but these are all things we need for her playroom.. for the most part. as a first birthday gift, the so grandparents got penny a play kitchen along with pots/pans/colander and plush produce. the kitchen comes in a standard white-and-wood color but i wanted to spruce it up. same with the latt table and chair set. i already began glamming it up by spray painting the kitchen fixtures gold. one of the chairs i spray painted a petal pink color, and i want to buy 4 more colors today. (i ran out of the gold, too.) i have painter’s tape all over the furniture because i am going to do color-blocking for the tables and chairs.

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instead of getting started on the dol towers, i’m putting my energy into her furniture.. well, i still have 2 months left to do those and i don’t want the unassembled furniture sitting around in the boxes because penny will keep trying to play with them. we are also aiming to paint the walls so we’ll have to get started before hanging things like shelves, penny’s growth chart, and artwork.

thankfully penny’s playroom is our walk-out basement so even if i’m alone i manage to work on these projects. i step outside for a few minutes to spray paint while penny and yuri peer through the glass door. then i leave the pieces out on craft paper to dry and i keep painting as needed. i also have her nap times and bedtime to work on them as well.

i’ll be sure to show the finished products in a future post!

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neil’s donuts!

random doughnut picture, but neil’s donuts in wallingford, ct has the best doughnuts.. and my friend, grace, drove there to get a box for her and got some for dennis and me as well! ❤

it’s amazing how much language penny acquires on any given day. although we speak a mixture of english and korean to her, we use a lot of korean phrases so it’s not a surprise that her first words are all in korean! and, she can say a total of 4 of them: 맘마 (food), 엄마 (mom), 아빠 (dad), and 까까 (crackers). the last one is fairly recent and she doesn’t really enunciate it as well as the other 3 words but we know what she means.

some other cute things she does is to give us kisses when we say 뽀뽀 (kiss). we lean in and she puts her wet mouth on our cheeks, haha. she also shakes her head back and forth when we say 도리도리. i’m not quite sure of the meaning on that one but it sounds similar to 돌다 which means “to turn around.” however the other phrase is spelled differently and my mil thinks it has a japanese origin from back when korea was under japanese rule.

when you go back and forth between languages, things get lost in translation. sometimes there aren’t words to adequately describe or define what it is you’re talking. this is so true of the korean language. for instance, the word 애교. simply put, it means to act in a cute manner but even that doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. however, it applies to girls acting all cutesy mostly for attention. penny definitely knows how to put on a show because when we say 아이고~ 이뻐라! (oh, so pretty!) she tilts her head to the side. it’s so adorable and we all get a kick out of it. when my parents saw it for the first time they couldn’t stop laughing.

speaking of my parents, i was so happy that they drove down from boston – with a ton of korean food nonetheless – last friday. even though they only live a little less than two hours away, we don’t get to see them often because of the restaurant business. in my last post i mentioned how my parents had sold one of their restaurants. they had 3 and now they’re down to 1 which means more free time! my parents are looking forward to taking a long-overdue and well-deserved vacation this summer. and hopefully that means more visits as well.

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it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

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brewing homemade jujube tea

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삼계탕, or cornish hen stew

olivia g.’s 1st birthday is in two-and-a-half weeks!! genie has been spending most of her free time finishing up decor and finalizing all the details for her party. it’s sheer madness how much emphasis, money and time is spent on the first birthday especially since it’s a huge ordeal in the asian culture. obviously it’s for the parents and pictures than for the little one, but..particularly as first-time parents we can’t really help but go all out. plus, with social media and pinterest displaying all the latest trends and cute details it’s easy to go overboard.

last saturday, genie and i drove down to new jersey for the day. although it was a baby-free day, nearly everything we did was for the babies. i set my alarm for 5am so i could get dressed and pump just before leaving the house. genie and i hit the road a few minutes before 7am and got to new jersey around 9. first stop: hmart (a korean supermarket). we expected it to be busy on a saturday morning but it seems as if they had just opened because it was fairly quiet and everyone else had a few decades on us. 😛

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the cooler was filled to the top

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view from kuppi cafe

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first birthday rice cake

although i mostly got snacks and a few necessities, genie’s sole purpose was to buy ingredients for olivia’s birthday lunch since she and her mom are making korean food for the party! as we stood in the check-out line, a 할머니 (grandma) placed her hands on our cart and started leaning on it. startled, we looked at her and she said that she was using it to help her stand up. we let her, of course, but we wondered if she was going to take it; we had a lot of bags to carry to the car along with a bag of ice. as we were paying, i tentatively made a move to get the cart and she asked if we needed it, and we said, “yes…” but then i quickly told her it was okay and genie ran out of the supermarket to find another cart. we didn’t mind helping her out but it was so bizarre that she zeroed in on our cart when there were so many around. maybe she thought we didn’t need it because we’re young..?

other stops we made were paris baguette where we each left with a giant bag of pastries and milk bread. then, yedang (a korean rice cake shop) to inquire about ordering a rice cake for a first birthday party, and then…pumping in the car -__- the main reason we took dennis’ suv down to jersey is because it has tinted windows, shades, and an outlet in the back row. we still had to take turns pumping (and the engine was running for a half hour) so i’m sure passers-by were wondering what was going on…

we met up with our friends, rob and almex, for lunch at a ramen shop. it was good but the sodium made me feel nauseous later on and i was hanging my head out the window like a dog :-X afterwards, we went to a coffee shop on the waterfront. it was funny because almex remarked how the name of the shop is weird (he pronounced it: coo-pee), and then i saw the sign: kuppi. right away i told him “it’s cup-pee” (which is how you say “coffee” in korean).;-)

lastly, we went to rose bedding & interiors to check out hanbok, a traditional korean clothing. there were so many pretty designs and they all cost over $100 for the baby ones. an outfit they will only wear once… eesh. we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the specialty ones – these are the ones that are made in-house- but genie stealthily snapped a photo while the shop owner assisted me with the water cooler. 😛

despite an early start to the day, it flew by quickly. we couldn’t believe it was already time to go home. we took turns driving so the other could pump in the front seat – oh man, we are so looking forward to weaning!!! – and made a pit stop at a diner in southern connecticut. as we made our way to the bathroom, we both exclaimed, “oh my god!” at the sound of britney belting out “baby, one more time…” turns out, there was a high school dance party going on in one of the banquet rooms and we wondered aloud if we would be able to get away with crashing it. alas, we were wearing jeans and the kids were dressed up.

i’m happy with my life right now, but sometimes… sometimes i get wistful and think how if i had the chance to go back and relive from 17 on, i’d “live it up” a little more. i was always so insecure and shy, and it took me until my 30s to truly start to embrace myself. but, hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? just because i have a baby now doesn’t mean i can’t have fun.. it’s just a different kind of fun, i suppose. it’s not too late to check off all the things on my ever-growing bucket list, and i need to slowly get a move on that. i’m a different person today than when i was in high school, and i really am grateful about that.