Thursday, April 04, 2019

Kid's Table Makeover (Ikea Laat)

What happens when your little girls grow up into tweens and teens? They want grown up rooms to match their new ages. My middle is turning 13 in a month and wanted her own room. We have a home office and we decided to turn most of it into her new room.  I'll show the full room remodel in another post, but I wanted to do a quick little tutorial on how to update the Ikea Laat Table into a cute, modern version of itself.

Easy Laat Table Makeover
The table itself we bought three sets of when the girls were little (they are so cute and came with tiny matching chairs). 

(Picture from Ikea website)
We used them for art projects, in the kitchen for tiny seating, and even lined them up for birthday parties tons of times for additional seating options for a crowd.

Seriously, we used these tables all. the. time!

Obviously 10 years later, our tables had seen better days. They had some crayon markings on them (got those out with a magic clean eraser) and they definitely had survived some bumps and bruises along the way (aka, they were very well loved).

Laat tables - well loved and more than a little worn out.
I wanted a quick makeover, and I knew the top was kind of shot, and decided that self-stick contact drawer paper (they come in a variety of cute styles and patterns) would be the easiest way to cover the top. I let my almost teen pick out the one she liked best and we cleaned off the top as best as we could.

The magic clean eraser did wonders on the crayon markings, but there were stills some dings and scratches along the top
My husband had the brilliant idea of flipping the top over onto the contact paper and tracing the exact shape in pencil (there are little notches at each corner).  

It really helps when you marry a genius.
Using two sides of the contact paper to "square up" I only had to draw a few lines to complete the shape. I cut the paper out with scissors, and then I used an X-Acto knife to do some fine trimming.

I used a sewing cutting mat to protect the kitchen table underneath.
After that my hubby helped me (it's good to have 4 hands for this part), we took a little bit of the sticker backing off and slowly unrolled the contact paper as the other person made sure it was going down in the right spots.

Hey, that's fitting quite perfectly!
Wow, that worked better than I anticipated.  Now it looks like a marble top.

Somehow it looks like it weighs so much more now...
The next step was to spray paint the wood bottom in a cute coordinating color for the room. She picked a light teal spray paint, and we took the pieces apart and laid them out in the back yard on some large cardboard pieces.  
*Actual paint used was Krylon Color Master Paint + Primer in Gloss Blue Ocean Breeze

This was coat #1 - I tried to balance the pieces to maximize paint-able space.
I started to spray paint, it was the weirdest thing. It was like the table had a force field impervious to spray paint.  It would sort of stick, but patchy-like. I got a little worried, and my husband decided to sand one of the smaller pieces to see if that helped.  It did a little, but not enough to make a big difference.  We let that dry and by the time we started to add the 2nd coat, it started to go on a little better. 

Doing light layers seemed to be the trick. I did end up using the whole can of spray paint to get the right coverage (thank you weird Swedish force field).

Once we let it dry for a few hours, it really started to look nice.

The only thing left was to put it back together.

The marble top slipped right back into the notches on the base no problem with the thin layer of contact paper
 ...and admire the results!
Hey, that's kind of pretty!
In the new bedroom, we had decided on getting rid of our old, red, 30 year old love seat that had been donated to us years ago, and replacing it with this smart little love seat that also had a fold out twin bed for sleepover guests.  I thought the new and improved Ikea table would make a nice "coffee" table for the love seat area.  When not in use, I keep it over by my desk for an extra work surface.

I love how it is matching elements in the rest of the room!
All in all, I am pleased how this little project turned out. 

We saved something from ending up in the dump, and now it has a brand new life in a "grown-up" teen room for many more years to come.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Llama Alpaca Birthday Cake

What do you do when your tween loves, Llamas/Alpacas, Laser Tag, and Sleepovers? Well you have a Laser Llama Pajama party for her 12th birthday, of course! My middle really wanted a llama/alpaca cake for her big day, because her new favorite things (above all of the things) are llamas and alpacas. I went searching the interwebs for some cake inspiration, and what resulted was the cutest darn llama face cake in the history of tweendom.

Is it a llama, or an alpaca?  We'll let you decide.

Here's a couple tips on how to make one for yourself. I am in no way a professional baker by the way, just a regular mom that tries to obtain her kid's wishes through baked goods. You will need:

Round cake baked with 2 (or more layers)
Top (roundish) part of cake trimmed off (save that part for the raised llama nose)
Frosting in white and whatever other color you want to make your llama
A few easy gel frostings with easy tips in black and pink for the facial features
The "grass tip" or Wilton tip (#233)
Pale Laffy Taffy, or vanilla Tootsie rolls for the ears

First, bake a two layer cake and stack the two layers. (Sometimes I will bake the cake the day before, let it cool, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze until the following day when I'm ready to frost. Frozen cake is sometimes easier to frost with less of a crumb coat needed).

We used two 8-inch round cakes and layered them with strawberry jelly between the layers
When you pull the cake out of the oven, there is usually a "domed" up section in the middle of the pan. Use your knife to level off the top of the cake to make it flat, but take the "domed" top and cut out a small round circle to be the nose of your llama (this will make it looked raised and three dimensional).  Place this little extra disc in the center of the cake for a visual on future placement.

Use the cut off top of the cake when you even it out to make an elevated llama nose
Frost top of your cake with white frosting.  Half of the llama's face will be white, with a "furry" blue layer around the frame of the face.

Place white frosting on the top of the cake.
Take your little extra dome piece and frost that while on a separate plate.

It's messy to frost the sides, but then pick the whole thing up with a fork or large spoon.
Move the domed "nose" to the center of the cake and using the grass tip (Wilton #233) start pipping little fur tufts all over the cake, being sure to leave an almost heart shaped white spot in the middle for the eyes, nose and mouth.

Squeeze near the cake and pull up quickly to make little sections of "grass" or "fur" everywhere.
My original intention was to try and make the fluffy fur all over the cake, however, when I got close to the sides, I realized that the frosting was falling over too much (thanks to gravity) and so I opted last minute to use the blue frosting and frost around the sides. 

Smooth sides and fluffy bottom
You can totally do the smooth sides in aqua right after you put the white frosting at the top near the beggning. I was sort of flying by the seat of my pants.  I went back after the sides were on and put extra "grass" at the top  and then went around the base and added grass there too.

After that you want to add the face.  I used black pre-made frosting gel in a tube (with a decorative tip) to make the lines for the smile and the eyes with those most adorable eyelashes.

The nose is a "U" shape with two mouth lines to make a smile, and then a large dot for the eye and three eye-lashes for fun
 Next came the cute little rosy cheek dots.

I love the pop of color in the cheeks

Next (and rather last minute) I wanted to add ears. We had a pineapple Laffy Taffy, but you could also use a vanilla Tootsie roll. You can either roll it around in a clean warm hand until you can shape it into a tear drop shape, or some people will microwave the candy for a few seconds to get it warm and pliable. 

Cute, edible ears

I sort of pinched the bottoms of the circles or teardrops to give it a more realistic look. I also put some extra frosting under where I wanted them to be to prop them up a bit.  Isn't this the cutest stinkin' thing you've ever seen?

Hello, I'm adorable

After that, there was nothing left to do, but party!

Bring on the party animals!
Happy 12th birthday Eva!

Light da candles every-ting all right!

They had the best time. We got a lot of OOOoohs and Aaahhhhs when her friends saw the cake.

Happy birthday to you....

So, if you have a llama lovin' tween in your life, a 4-H guru, need something for your Future Farmers of America party, or if you just want this cute face looking up at you at your next gathering, give this one a try. Let me know how it turns out!



Saturday, January 26, 2019

Corn Casserole - a new (old) side dish to try

So my sister has been telling me about her new favorite side dish, she says it's like if corn and brownies had a baby. I was (of course) immediately intrigued! Think of it as a gooey, cornbread, with golden, crunchy edges, with a soft and fluffy center.  You on board now too? Good, because you are going to want to make it for your next gathering, or tonight, or even possibly, right now.
Corn Casserole - The side dish that will rock your dreams

After a bit of internet research it looks like this is a version of the classic Paula Dean recipe that's been around for ages, it's just new to me. You will need just a few ingredients:

1 can corn (drained)
1 can cream of corn (as is)
1 cup sour cream
1 stick melted butter
1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
1 cup of shredded cheddar or combo shredded cheese

Combine the drained corn and the creamed corn

Canned corn and it's much less attractive cousin
After that in 1 cup of sour cream, 1 stick of melted butter, and the box of Jiffy corn bread mix

Stir that around until combined

Add in 1 cup of shredded cheese

Place in a greased 8x8 pan and bake on 400Âș for 40 min or until golden brown

Bring it out of the oven when it's golden brown with crisp delectable edges.

Who knew savory "corn brownies" would be a thing?
Let this bad boy cool for 5-10 minutes to help set.

Hello my golden brown corn casserole friend...
After that scoop some still warm onto your plate as a delicious side.

It's corn bread... it's corn... it's a soufflé, it's a brownie... you decide!
I couldn't help but love the crispy golden edges... it was my favorite part!

People are going to ask you for the recipe!

There is no bad angle on this thing, it's wall to wall scrumptious

I tried to get a close up on the fork, but the hot steam made it a bit blurry.

So if you want to try a new side (or revive an old classic) bring the hot, savory corn casserole to your next gathering. My sis wasn't sure it tastes as good the next day, I'll have to keep you posted.  I was thinking about heating it up in a cast iron with a little butter tomorrow and let you know.

Yummy!  Enjoy.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Happy Happy Joy Joy - the story of how we got our kitty with the unusual markings

Hello and Happy Happy Joy Joy to you in 2019!

I wanted to share a cute, quick story of how we obtained Happy, our 4th kitty and his crazy unusual markings (and to wish you a happy new year)!

Introducing Happy - the kitty
You might be thinking, now how does someone totally allergic to cats end up with four of them?  Well we rescued a few, and one even adopted us. (I'm most likely just a saint, who's love for animals outweighs my pesky love of breathing... that's the ticket). 
 FYI - I'll post our four-kitty back story at the end of this post for those that are interested)

but now onto the mysterious little story how Happy became ours.

So my middle child loves leopards. She loves cats.  She loves animals! Two years in a row she had a cat-themed birthday party.  One year was a leopard party, one year it was a kitty cat party.

All the kids adopted stuffed kittens and dressed like kitties, and made collars for them
What she really really wished for was a Bengal kitten, because they look just like a mini leopard. We already had what I thought was too many cats, and of course bangle kittens can be very pricey. 

A Bengal cat... adorable, very leopard like, and often pricey!
Plus we weren't going to spend a ton of money on a highly energetic and expensive cat, when most of our cats were rescues. I said almost sarcastically one day to her, look, if a Bengal kitten randomly shows up on our doorstep, we can totally keep it.

As it got closer to her birthday, we though maybe we could find a kitty on Craigslist or somewhere local that needed a home, looked like a Bengal, but of course without the hefty price tag. After days of searching my husband found a very good candidate.
What's not to love about this tiny little face?
He was striped, with spots on his tummy, very unusual markings all over in leopard colors that were quite beautiful. He called the lady to get more information, and sadly she said sorry, someone was already coming that day to pick him up. Boo. We were pretty disappointed because he seemed so purrfect, but luckily we had not told the girls about any of this.

The very next day, she called us back and said the other people never showed up, would we like to come see him. We said YES and she gave us her address.

Check this out, she lived IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, down the street, 

like SIX houses away!  (practically on our doorstep).  

We told the girls and took a short walk down the street to see the kitty.  He was SO adorable. 

Instant Happiness!

Here he is looking so sweet and tiny.

Baby Happy
 He had spots on his tummy, he looked like a mini leopard.  

Look at that leopard tummy!
We fell in love.  We took him home.

My middle child named him "Happy" because she was so very happy! (Plus, our other cats all have 'H' names (Hemi, Haley, Henry - and now Happy)

Eva and Happy!

So Happy became a part of our family.  He lived up to his name and made everyone a little happier!

Smiles all around!
As he got a little bigger, we noticed something a bit unusual. His stripes formed readable letters. We were totally SHOCKED when we realized what it spelled.

Hello world!  Live, from the super soft blanket.
On one side of his body, the word spelled out "got" (like "got milk").

See the "got"in the center of his body?
 I will trace the letters so you can see it better:

His right side spells "got"
One the OTHER side of his body, the stripes spelled out "JOY"

 Here's the traceable letters:

We actually couldn't believe it!
Not. Kidding. His stripes spelled JOY! His name is HAPPY!!!

That's right, this random kitty who practically landed on our doorstep, who looked like a little leopard, whom we named Happy because he brought my Eva joy, has the words "Got Joy" on his body!

Happy - meant to be a part of our family
It's one of those goose bump moments where you just know something was just meant to be!!!

So I thought this would be the happiest of stories to start off the 2019 year with, and I wanted to wish a happy HAPPY new year to you and yours!!!

Wishing this new year brings you happiness!!

*Here's the four-kitty back story for those that are interested:

We lived in a town house when we were first married when a feral kitty showed up at our back door. I fed him tuna because that's all I had on hand, he was hungry, and of course (well I know now) after the tuna, he never left. He was mostly an outdoor kitty and so I didn't have to worry about my allergies (he didn't want to come in). After we moved to our new house, we took the kitty with us but sadly one summer night a few years later, he didn't come home. Heartbroken we searched for weeks around the neighborhood and all the shelters with no luck. While we were at the shelter, about a month later, we did look at some other cats that needed to be adopted.  In box #2 was a little kitty that we took into a room and he instantly loved us. We decided to take him home. He purred like a little engine and so we named him Hemi.  I also thought it was a sign that he was in box #2, he was cat #2 for us.  

Hemi and Vivian when she was a baby
Hemi also was an indoor/outdoor kitty, and that was ALL the cats we were going to have... because of my allergies... Ha. that's funny now.

Hemi - all grown up and regal looking (we think he's part main coon)
So one day several years later, we were over at my father-in-law's house and they had a little female kitten, orange and white with blue eyes.  She was the softest, fluffiest, kitty ever. 

Haley - fluffy and so so soft.
She was a Manx breed (without a tail), and she didn't have a home. I took one look at her and told my husband (much to his shock) that she was coming home with us. I surprised myself actually, but they didn't have a home for her, the last female of the litter, and something about her said she needed to come home with us. We named her Haley. She's a sweet but very shy kitty. She only likes quiet people and adores the girls. If you come to my house you might never see her. She stays in mostly one room upstairs. She adores me.  She sleeps on my hip at night. She purrs like crazy. 

Haley two days ago, sleeping on my hip
Note: I think I've built up a tolerance with my allergies. I am not bothered by the cats unless I touch them and then touch my eyes or face. I just wash my hands and vacuum a lot. Needless to say I went from a dog person to a cat person since being married, which rather shocked my whole family.

So two kitties is way more than I ever planned to own. We were good. Then a few years later a very pale orange kitty followed the girls home. They kept calling him "orange kitty" but he was so pale, I joked he looked like the ghost of an orange kitty. He literally camped out on my doorstep, curled on our front mat like he owned the place. I'm not sure if there was an invisible sign outside our house that said "these people are suckers for cats" or "cats welcome" or what, but it was freezing outside and he stayed right on our front mat. I felt so bad, he was so skinny. I gave him some tuna, because I was making some for lunch (see my pattern) and then bam. He was ours.

Eva taking care of Henry when he first adopted us and came inside.  He was very grateful.
(Note: Well we took him to the vet first to make sure he wasn't tagged or chipped, put notices out in the neighborhood to make sure he wasn't someone's pet already. When no one responded after a good amount of time, we gave him his shots and chipped him). We also gave him his name, which is officially "The Ghost of King Henry VIII" or Henry for short (mostly due to my love of all things in the Tudor period, plus his super pale color).

Henry and Eva are still great pals to this day.
So that is the story of how we have so many cats.  Happy came along a few years back and completed our cat family.

So make the most of this year ahead! Adopt a pet, add a friend to the family, love each other and treat each other with all kindness - all year through!

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