Serving Tray Makeover

by ilene on August 11, 2015 · 1 comment

in decor, tutorial, upcycle, wood



Hi! I just got back from a two week trip with my kids.  Notice I said “trip” and not “vacation”.  A vacation would mean that it was relaxing and fun.  A trip means that I was lugging two weeks worth of luggage and baby gear in 105 degree heat with kids in tow, which is exactly what I did.  Relaxing? No.  Fun? Somewhat.  Again? Never.

I hope to be blogging a little more regularly now that we don’t have any travel plans for the next 6 weeks.  I know that I haven’t been very regular with my posts and my writing is all over the place.  Thanks for sticking with me!    This serving tray makeover project was one that I finished back when Skylar was a few weeks old and I’m just now sitting down to write about it.

I’m in the process of changing a lot of our decor and furniture from dark wood to white.   When Jeff and I got married 5 years ago, dark expresso wood finishes were in so a lot of our furniture was dark colored. Now the trends have been moving towards white, gray or light colored wood, which is actually more my style.  I like the bright, light and airy feel.  I’m all about the modern farmhouse look!   I haven’t yet met a piece of white distressed furniture that I didn’t like!

One of the weddings presents off our wedding registry was this dark wood serving tray from Crate and Barrel:

I loved it at the time and used it often. It survived a cross country move and after awhile, all the wear and tear was beginning to show:


Its looking pretty beat up!! This was the perfect piece to paint over white and give it some new life.  Like the last serving tray that I made over, I used the popular Annie Sloan paint chalk and wax:


I gave it 4 coats of pure white chalk paint:


Then I lightly distressed the edges a little with sandpaper:


I sealed the whole thing with a couple coats of wax after the paint dried.



Jeff used it to serve me breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day:
Just a little bit of white paint completely transformed this old tray. The white color is so much more happy, too.

Now I want to paint  our dark dining table white, too!


You might also like:

{ 1 comment }

Skye at 4 Months Old

by ilene on July 24, 2015 · 3 comments

in baby, Skylar's First Year

238A5360 copy

This is a little late. Skylar is already 5 months old. I need to be better at documenting my second child!   If I don’t write this all down though, I’m afraid I won’t remember any of these details. All of Zoey’s milestones her first year are already hazy in my memory, so this is mostly for my own documentation.  And for her grandparents who are probably the only other people who love this info. (Hi, mom!)


Stats:  Weight – 14lbs 4.5 oz and length- 25 inches.  Both are 75% percentile

Rolls!  Started rolling from her back to her belly at 4.5 months old but only to her right side

Other rolls:  Lots of them! Starting to chunk up and get lots of attention for her thunder thighs

Sleep: Takes about 3 naps a day, sometimes just 2. Poor second child sleeps in our tiny closet.

Personality: Super smiley and happy. Loves to laugh, especially at her big sister. Our beacon of joy.

Toys: Introduced to play things and grabbing onto baby toys.  Outgrew our baby swing and bouncer and transitioned to the jumperoo and exersaucer.

Travel:  Went on her first beach trip to Baker Beach!  Also spent the night in Monterey over 4th of July weekend.  Went on her 4th and 5th flight (to visit Ahma and Ahgong in Southern CA). Our little jet setter is flying back down to LA next week and then to Vegas, baby!

Feeding:  Took the bottle!! VICTORY!!  Likes the bottle really warm and only takes it from her Ahma. I can finally leave her for more than 2 hours at a time!

And just for kicks, here are side by side photos of both my girls Zoey and Skye at 17 weeks old. That is Zozo on the left and Skye on the right:

I love being their mom. My heart bursts with happiness!  


You might also like:


Slime/ Gak Recipe

by ilene on July 22, 2015 · 0 comments

in recipes, toddler, tutorial



My 2.5 year old Zoey is obsessed with slime (also known as gak) these days.  Slime is one of the few activities that will keep my toddler occupied for more than 5 minutes at a time so I make sure that we have plenty of it available all the time wherever we go.   We even brought ingredients to make some in LA with us on our last trip.  She loves this stuff.   It all started with a trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum where they had slime/gak in the arts and crafts room.   Zoey wanted to play with it but Jeff took one look at all the of pairs of dirty little hands that were plunging into the gooey stuff and was disgusted, so I decided to make her own to play with at home.  Turns out, slime is super easy and cheap to make yourself. All it takes is elmer’s glue, borax (a mild powdered detergent) and warm water.  If you are super lazy like me, you can order the glue and borax from Google Express and you don’t even have to leave the house for supplies!   It doesn’t get any simpler than that!   The recipe is so easy that Zoey loves to make it herself with a little help from me.  It only takes 5 minutes. I think we have made every color of the rainbow over the past couple of months. We make this recipe so often that I think we can both do this in our sleep.  Sometimes we have friends over for play dates and every kid can make their own batch of slime to play with.   They like to choose their own colors and it provides them hours of entertainment!





- two 4 oz. bottles of Elmer’s Glue (I discovered that Target sells it the cheapest at 74 cents a bottle)

- 1 tsp. Borax (found in the laundry detergent section of the store. This stuff is toxic so make sure your kids don’t eat it!)

- warm water

- mixing bowl, small cup and spoon

- food coloring



Empty out both bottles of elmer’s glue into the mixing bowl:



Fill both empty glue bottles with warm water and shake well.  Pour out the water into the mixing bowl and mix with a spoon:slime3


Add a couple drops of food coloring and stir:slime4

In the small cup, mix ½ cup of warm water with 1 tsp of borax until the borax is dissolved. Pour into the glue mixture and stir. This is where the magic starts to happen.  The mixture starts to come together and get stringy.  Keep mixing and mixing.  At this point, I help Zoey out and use my hands to knead it together.  If there is extra water, I pour it out.


Once all the ingredients are mixed well, you will get a nice smooth ball of gelatinous slime:


Store in an airtight container or a ziploc bag and it’ll keep for weeks.  We are currently playing with slime that is almost a month old!

This little recipe has provided us hours of fun. One of Zoey’s favorite things is to poke holes in all the bubbles that surface:slime9

This stuff is really cool to play with!! It feels slimy and wet to the touch, but its not wet at all and really easy to clean up.  The slime actually holds together really well and doesn’t leave any residue behind.  This is how it looks dumped out on our table and after 5 minutes, it spread out and turns viscous:slime10

Even I have fun playing with it!!  We use our play-doh tools with it, cut it up with scissors, make pretend cookies and serve it with our little tea set, create little dresses and stick them onto our Disney princess figurines, the possibilities are endless!


If you are looking for a summer time activity to occupy your kids, give this a try!  They will have a ton of fun!!


Check out my homemade play-doh recipe, too!


You might also like:




I love being the mom of little girls.  As a girly girl, I’ve always wanted daughters so that I can play dress up, pretend to have afternoon tea and buy lots of darling, pink frilly clothes.  I love all that stuff!   Now that I have two daughters and two nieces, I am living my dream!   These days, we are having a blast playing “princess”.  The elsa and anna capes we have are always on someone’s shoulders and Zoey knows all the Disney princesses now. I sense a trip to Disneyland is in the near future.  My niece Rylie was turning two recently so I decided to sew her and Zoey their own princess crowns to wear to the birthday party.  I made the crowns out of felt and wanted to make them both adjustable and reversible.  It was important that the crowns were adjustable since the girls are growing so fast and I wanted them to be able to wear them for a long time.   Being double-sided allowed them to  pick which design they want to wear on that day.   Rylie’s crown has the number “2″ to wear on the day of her birthday party and her initial “R” on the other side.   Zoey’s crown has “Z” on one side and a “S” for Skylar to wear on the other side when Skye is older.

Here is what the front sides of the crowns look like:


And the other reversible sides:



To make these crowns, I spent $0.  (Jeff is always happy to hear this.) I gathered up a bunch of supplies that I had left over from previous projects.  I had a lot of felt from the felt Christmas ornaments I made last winter and a bunch of random trimmings:


I measured the circumference of Zoey’s head and made paper templates for the crowns. I made the crowns slightly different from each other.  One is more angular and the other is curved:


Here is a downloadable pdf file of the crown_templates for anyone that would like to replicate these.  The size worked well for an average size two year old head.  (note: the template is just for one of half the crown. You need to cut out the template twice and tape the middle parts together to make a full crown)

Since the crowns I made are double-sided, I layered both layers of felt on top of each other and then traced and cut out the pattern:


Then I pinned the two sides together:


And sewed carefully around the edges:


For Rylie’s pink crown, I used pinking shears to cut around the edges for a more interesting perimeter.

In order to make the crowns adjustable, I added a small piece of elastic to the back.  I made sure to stick one side of the elastic in before I sewed it and left the other end unsewn until I was ready to finish the crown:


Then came the fun part of decorating. This is where having a proclivity to save scraps and trims comes in handy!


I used my silhouette machine to cut the letters and numbers out of iron-on material and just ironed those on.  I also added lots of glittery elements and ribbons because little girls can’t get enough of those! Princesses need sparkles!



Then I sewed the free end of the elastic to other end  of the crown creating a full circle. I really liked adding some long ribbon around the base of the crown to tie a sweet bow at the back:


Here are my little 2 year old princesses wearing their crowns!


Happy 2nd birthday, my sweet Rylie!!

You might also like:


Happy Birthday, Jeff!

by ilene on July 7, 2015 · 1 comment

in decor, jeff



Happy birthday to Jeff!!!   Know that you are loved by many, but especially by me, Zoey and Skylar!  You are an amazing husband and father.  Wishing you the very best of birthdays and hoping that this next year will be the best one yet!

I made this sign in our living room for Jeff for Father’s Day:


We were out of town for a couple weeks since then and didn’t have time to change it up so I just added a couple party decorations to it for this special day:dad2


The happiest of days to you, Jeffrey! Love you!

You might also like:

{ 1 comment }