Sunday, September 21, 2014

Turning a Girl Doll into a Boy Doll, Again

For his birthday, Alexsaur asked for a doll that was like his brother and sister's. He wanted to be able to play with them and have adventures with their dolls. I, literally, spent hours online looking at dolls that would be good candidates, and thought I found the perfect one- only to find out that it was out of stock at Target. Finally I found one, from Wal-Mart, that would be perfect.

The price was right, only $28 for the doll, and most of the outfit is pretty unisex (which meant less work for me to do on the outfit). Let's get into what I did.

First things first was to grab my pure acetone nail polish remover and test a swatch on the bottom of the doll's foot. This is an important first step, because if the flesh color comes off on the foot, you know it will come off on the face.

Nothing came off!

Still, to be sure, I swatched the back of the neck with the acetone, before starting the face. Always better to be safe than sorry and have a ruined face. Once again, nothing came off, so it was time to remove the ridiculous amount of paint that they put on this doll's face.

So much better!

I did try to remove the painted on eyelashes, on the eye, but it didn't work so well. Perhaps I should have tried to use a cotton swab, but I had children knocking on the locked bedroom door asking what I was doing, at the time, so I didn't think too much on it!

Next it was time to cut the hair. Luckily this doll's hair was already pulled into a low ponytail, in the back, and the two sides were left free to flow. Made my job a bit easier! I'll take you step by step on how I chopped the hair off.

First chop was to just cut at the base of the ponytail.

Then I did a rough cut to the two sides. I wasn't going for even, yet, just to get the length off and give me something that would be easy to work with.

One side done

After the first set of cutting. 

Back of the hair, after cutting it the first time.

Next I started pulling up the sides of the hair, and cutting it to make it have a more layered look, clipped closer to the ears and sides, which gave it more of a boyish look. It didn't take long, and since it's doll hair it's easy to keep cutting a little bit at a time and make sure that it all looks right.

After the last cut. 

Just a normal boy's cut, but I think it turned out well. I even cut off the ridiculously long eyelashes. 

Once this guy was done I decided to focus on the boots. They were made of a white plastic and had painted purple ties on them. That's the key to these things. If the main color, of the shoe, doll, whatever, is a solid color and the little details are a different color, chances are that the details are just painted on and can come off with acetone. Once again, test in a hidden spot to make sure. I took acetone and went to work removing the purple on the shoes. I got a bit excited and took off a small piece of the painted black. Not bad, but I should have been more careful!

I had to use cotton swabs and pads to remove the purple, but even with the swabs I couldn't get the small dots of purple out of the center. It's not bad, and it does give it a bit of detail!

Yeah, be careful when doing this. I barely touched the black paint with the acetone, and it came right off!

I decided that, since I couldn't dye the vest (the zipper was bright pink and I didn't have time to replace the zipper) that I would make a simple scarf and backpack for this guy. Alexsaur LOVED it, and named his doll "Dolphin". I don't know where he got it, but it works! So, allow me to introduce Dolphin and his accesories!

I found the play food set at Target. It's for baby dolls, but Alexsaur didn't care! And every adventure boy needs a trusty dog to be his companion!

Backpack that I made. Sadly, I didn't write down how I made it, I just made it :/

Dolphin and his dog, ready for an adventure!

I think it really turned out cute and Alexsaur loves it!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Survivor Kids Training Volume 1

Today was our first Survivor Kids Training day. Our goal, if the weather holds out, is that every other Saturday we will head outside and learn about how best to survive in nature. It was a cold day, today, starting out at a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and muddy. We decided it was probably best to just stay at home and learn about one of the most needed survival skills- fire. 

I had ordered this book from Amazon. It was a great start to get the kids ready to learn how to survive, written for kids and teaches them a lot. Jackasaurus has read it, already, cover to cover and was so excited to start learning hands on!

Now, before we started our first day, my wonderful sister E, agreed to make the kids their very own Survival Kids journals. I mean what Survival Expert doesn't take the time to take notes and journal down everything that they learn? Maybe some don't, but I want to make sure that this was educational!

Be sure to check out Eryn's Pink Ivy when you get the chance. She makes some really cool stuff (plus she's a really good babysitter too). 

Now on to the good stuff! We started off by learning three ways to make fire. The ever obvious matches were first. Hubby taught the lessons, and the kids really paid attention. He started out explaining how fire was dangerous, and we should only use matches when mom or dad were around and were there to help. He went on to explain how to light a match, and then helped the kids light there own matches. I realize that it sounds really dumbed down, but you must remember that the kids are only 6, 5, and almost 3! So the lessons were very appropriate!

Then we tried to light a cotton ball, which had been lightly touched with Vasoline, on fire with a striker and knife. Hubby carefully explained how to hold a knife, how to grip it so you didn't cut yourself or drop it, and how to strike the striker to get a spark. The kids were really interested in watching the striker make sparks, as daddy helped them. Sadly, the kids weren't successful in getting a spark to land on the cotton ball, but mommy was! More on that later!

Sparks in action
Lastly we tried lighting an egg carton on fire using a magnifying glass. To get this to work the sun can't have even the slightest bit of cloud cover. The kids weren't able to get that going either, but success wasn't the goal. Getting them to not be afraid of fire, but to respect it was the goal. Learning about three simple ways to start a fire, and having them try their hand at it was the object lesson. 

The lessons didn't last too terribly long. They are young after all, and the idea of playing on the swing set, and playing Survivor Man was a bit more interesting to their young minds than sitting and waiting for a piece of egg carton to try and catch on fire! While they went to play, I decided to see if I could do what hubby had taught. 

My first fire was with the striker. No pictures, but after only 2 strikes I got the cotton ball to light, and slowly added tinder to it until it was able to be moved to the fire pit. I made fire! Sure, I've lit matches and burned things, but never without a match! I was pretty pleased with myself, to say the least.

After that I decided to try my hand at using the magnifying glass. The sun was up high enough, and no clouds, so I decided to give it a shot. It worked beautifully! I thought I was going to have to sit there for about 15 minutes or more, but it only took about 30 seconds for the tinder to catch!

Do you see the smoke under the added tinder? It was babied until the whole thing lit up!

I was quiet happy that I was able to get these two methods to work, and on my first try as well! After the days fun the kids sat down and drew their own pictures of the three methods used today (well Alexsaur tried) and then decided which one they liked best. No surprise that it was the striker that won!

In two weeks we'll be going on a camping trip, in the backyard, and let them start cooking some food. It will be a chance to get the cast iron dutch oven out and see what food we can find to eat in the back yard! As always I'll be blogging about that as well and showing lots of fun pictures!

Until Next Time, 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mopsy's Big Day

Today we celebrated Mopsy's 5th birthday. It's not her actual birthday, but it was the only day that we could get the family together. It's hard to believe that she's getting so big! She is such a gorgeous girl, who loves everything princess, and is so smart! I know, I know, every parent says that, but she just turned 5 and is breezing through learning her addition facts and is doing really well at reading well above her grade level. So, I think I'm entitled to be a bit biased on this!

Mopsy really felt the love, this birthday, but I think the one, personalized, gift that she got really topped the cake. I've shown several pieces that my sister has drawn for me, and even the princesses that she's drawn for Mopsy, that grace her bedroom walls. We were really surprised when, on Mopsy's actual birthday, we received the most incredible gift. A personalized character drawing of Mopsy and her favorite Disney Princess (so far) Elsa. I literally cried when I saw it; it was so beautiful.

I know that Mopsy doesn't understand the magnitude of this gift yet (although she was in love of the idea of a picture of her and Elsa), and doesn't see how much it means. She's more interested in the wonderful doll that Aunt K got her, the Twilight Sparkle pillow plush that Grandma got her, thinking about what to buy with the money Aunt D sent her, and the Lego set we got her to really understand the magnitude of such a heartfelt piece that was done, but I understand it. Thank Allie, it's amazing, and I know that it took not only time but a lot of thought to think about what she likes most right now! 

If you want to see more of my sister's art, please check out her Facebook Page, by clicking the red words. If you're interested in a custom piece, feel free to message her and she will let you know her pricing! 

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

School is Back in Session!

Ah, school has started in our prehistoric household, and let me tell you the kids were excited! I mean really excited to be starting back up! I was really shocked at their enthusiasm to get back into the normal routine. They really don't do well when their routines get messed up, but I never guessed how happy they would be to be back at a full school day!

We have lots of on our plate, this year. Alexsaur is starting Pre-K. He'll be 3 in a few weeks, but he wants to do school sooo badly! We started working on numbers, letters, colors, shapes, words, and potty training. That child has resisted potty training so badly, but we did have 1 successful try today and he was so excited to get the praise for actually going in the potty! Here's hoping that tomorrow will be better than today!

Jackasaurus and Mopsy have a full workload. Two different kinds of math, and added worksheets as well. They really ask for more math, and love to work on the problems. Reading, language, spelling, reading comprehension, history and geography, science, and the most fun one of all- Survivor Kids Training.

Our children are obsessed with Survivor Man, done by Les Stroud. Every night, and I do mean every night, we watch an episode that we bought online. He has five seasons, so far, and they love watching and learning how to survive out in the wild with  nothing on you. I'm most impressed that Les not only goes to these wilderness areas and survives, but he films the entire thing himself. No camera crew, no way out- stranded for 7 days, trying to find food, shelter, and water. They have begged me to teach them some things, as well as go on more camping trips, etc. So, this school year, every other Saturday (I have to have hubby help with this!) we will be doing our Survivor Kids Training Course. Honestly, most of it comes from what Hubby has learned, while serving in the Army, from survivor manuals, and books that we have bought along the way. The kids are so excited! I'll let you know how it goes, and hopefully start being able to show you what we're learning!

Back to today's school day. It was a fantastic day. We started off with our new Bible Curriculum. This site, that's highlighted in red, is amazing. There are 325 Bible lessons, all geared for all ages of children, and it's free. I spent hours saving every PDF and printing them off, printing the coloring pages in triplicate, and the question sheets for Jackasaurus. They loved it! They listened to me read the Bible passage, asked questions, all while coloring the sheet for the lesson.

They had so much fun listening to the lesson, and coloring!

After Bible, it was off to start the day's worth of school work. I figured it wouldn't take long (they only had the first day's worth of work, which is just getting you back into the swing of things and it's super easy), but they had all their work done in two hours. Math, Reading, Language Art, History and Geography, Science, extra math work, handwriting practice- all of it done rather quickly. They were super proud that they worked hard, and were able to go and read some books for fun, or just go play. That's the beauty of homeschooling! No set time limits- as long as you get all your work done (and get it all done right) then you are free at the end!

I'm not saying that the rest of the year will go this easily, but I'm pleased that I didn't have any issues with getting them back into the school year. I think that's because we did summer school and they had never really stopped doing their work. Here's hoping the rest of the year goes as smoothly!

Until Next Time,

Monday, September 1, 2014

Main Bathroom Redecorating

Boy, for a holiday that's supposed to be about relaxing from hard work, I've worked my tail off this Labor Day weekend! The last major project, for this year, was our main bathroom. I knew what I wanted, and asked my sister to draw me some art for the bathroom, and she did not disappoint! Let's get into what my inspiration was, what the bathroom looked like, and most importantly what it looks like now. I'll break down how much I spent (which was next to nothing) and tell you how I got the look! Ready?

A few months ago my sister started showing some artwork that she was doing. I asked her if she could draw some of my favorite birds, for an idea I had for our main bathroom. All I told her was that I wanted a cardinal and a blue jay, perched on some cherry blossoms. I'm not artistic at all and knew that telling her the basic idea of what I wanted would mean that it probably turned out better, than if I decided to imagine it up. Here's what she came up with for me.

I was blown away! If I had half her artistic! This was the idea behind what I wanted to decorate my main bathroom. I wanted more neutral colors, and colors that were reflected in nature. We love to be outdoors any time that we can; camping, hiking, or just exploring the great outdoors. With her two art pieces in hand I started my design.

Sadly, our main bathroom is a bit small. It meets our needs, but the previous owners left it a stark, sad white, which made the room feel smaller. It's weird, because white normally makes things feel bigger, but the entire room was white! It was blah.

I had a set budget in mind (under $100) and began to purchase pieces every month until I had what I needed, but I'll get into the total cost later. Here's what I had to work with.

White- everywhere. Even our trashcan, well except for the hideous wood cabinets. They're solid, but the color was just gross! And before I get accused of hating wood, or it's color, that's not the case. I love natural wood and all it's glory, but this was covered in laminate that looked like wood. Not even the real thing!

Now, I had to keep my budget in mind, and that meant not being able to replace all the silver stuff with oil rubbed bronze, like I really wanted to. But, I had a solution. Spray paint. Rustoleum makes metal looking spray paint that is specifically made for spraying on metal items, and it's about $5 at your local Wal-Mart store. First thing I did was to remove every piece that I wanted to paint, and that included the toilet paper roll holder.

Say bye-bye ugly colors. 
After spraying a light coat of paint on the all the fixtures, I went to work on the cabinets. I used the same paint that I used for Mopsy's bed, dresser, and desk. That Gripper paint had served a lot of purposes! Three coats of paint and a coat of polyurethane, and the cabinets were transformed. Next step was to paint the hideous walls. As you can see, from the above picture, there's been some water stains. The paint, for bathrooms, to cover and seal was a bit more pricey than any other paint I've bought but I wanted to make sure that it lasted. There were several other projects, but I'll go into those as I show the after pictures.

The white color, on the cabinets, updates the look but still gives it that rustic charm. All the hardware was painted in a brushed oil bronze color paint. I even did the light fixture above and the covers for our jars. Hubby painted the outlets and several other areas as well. We had hooks, that went over the door, that were perfect for towel holders. He sawed off the hook part, sanded down the rough edges, and drilled holes to hang them. 

These gorgeous toothbrush holder and soap dispenser were bought online. Click the names to go to the site.

I love the look of the light, now that the rust has been removed from the old one and painted. We sealed it to make sure that rust wasn't an issue again.

Even the inside of the door was painted in a warm brown tone, with subtle plum undertones. There is a cool story about the towels. These towels were a dark plum color. I really didn't want to buy new towels, especially when these were still in perfect condition. So, I dyed them. Yep, I bought some Rit dye remover and removed as much of the plum color as I could and dyed them a dark blue. Make sure to add the 1 cup of salt to the dye bath; it makes it hold the color much better. And, it cost the fraction of what brand new towels would have cost me!

I saw an idea on Pinterest about using birdcages as candle holders, and I loved the idea. The problem was, looking around, that a birdcage was about $150. Yeah, that would have blown my budget! Instead, some searching on Craigslist got me this beauty, and this was the color that the original owner had painted it! The best part? It only cost me $10!

Free artwork found at Reusable Art. The art, that wasn't drawn by my sister, is all public domain. I had the frame on hand, that I had bought from the Dollar Tree years ago, and never used. Another freebie!

Curtains were another on hand item. We had them at our old house, and didn't need them here, until I redid the bathroom. I cut them to size, hemmed them, and sewed on a brown grosgrain ribbon on the bottom to tie them in to everything else. 

Even the incense holder got some attention with the grosgrain ribbon!

The shower curtain I bought online, from Target. It was inexpensive and really worked well. I used the brown grosgrain ribbon to tie little bows on each curtain hook. 

The double shower hook was another great deal, that I got about a year ago. A Facebook group, that I belong to, had a lady who was selling this rod because it didn't fit her bathroom. I have no clue what it retailed for, but being a Delta and rather ornate, I bet it was expensive. I got it for $5. The basket, on the bottom, is the perfect place to hold the bath toys, and let them dry. Got this basket, a few years ago, at the Dollar Tree. 

Close up of the free art from Reusable Art

Even our white trashcan got painted in oil brush bronzed. I love how the art, from my sister, looks hanging on the gorgeous walls!

Now for the totals. This was a really inexpensive room. By using what we had, on hand, and just painting it to make it look better, we saved a ton of money. Granted, I still want to change our sink's faucet to a brushed oil bronze fixture, but that will have to wait. The one we have still works and I'm not about to pay that kind of money for one right now!

Paint for the walls- $21.97 from Lowe's. It's an oil based paint that is made for bathrooms and is excellent at hiding water stains. I think it did a great job!
Spray paint- $5.97 from Wal-Mart. The thing about that 1 can of spray paint is that it did everything. All of the fixtures, the light, the switches, the trashcan, the toilet paper holder, and I even used it to spray the paper that I used to cover the glass in the shelf. It really stretched far!
Shower Curtain- $18.99 plus I think it was about $5 shipping. There was no option to have it shipped site to store, which I was not happy with.
Tooth Brush holder- $9.79. I was able to have this shipped, free, to the store nearest me.
Soap Pump- $12.49. Again, I was able to have this shipped free to the store. Just had to pick it up on my weekly shopping trip.
Rit dye remover- It was less than $2, that much I remember. I'm sorry, I can't find my receipt to double check, but I know that it was cheap, and a must have it you're going to dye to a completely different color.
Rit dye in denim blue- $4. I only needed 1 bottle, and it gave me more of the color that I wanted than using 2 bottles of the color. 
Birdcage- $10 on Craigslist
Grosgrain ribbon- I bought 2 spools at the Dollar Tree. -$2
Paint for the cabinets and trim- Free. I had it on hand, although we used the last of our gallon of Gripper paint for this remodel.
All accessories were either reused or I had on hand from other decorations. 

Total Cost: $87.21

Wahoo!!!! I came in under budget and I think that the transformation looks amazing! It's amazing what you can do with using what you have, thinking outside of the box, and just with a little bit of love and hard work you can have a room you love for not a lot of money!

Until Next Time,

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