Playhouse Halloween Makeover | Halloween Decor on a Budget from DOLLAR TREE

*DISCLOSURE:  This post is NOT in anyway sponsored by Dollar Tree.

The kids playhouse has been due for a fresh coat of paint but since we were out for the most part of summer, we never got around to painting it. I figured in it’s current “grungy” state, we might as well start decorating it for Halloween. If you’ve been following us for awhile you know how much we try to enjoy this season with all the opportunities to play pretend and dress up. Well, this year we decided to “dress up” the playhouse as well but challenged ourselves to decorate the playhouse with a $25 budget and we all know shopping at the dollar store is probably the only way to get this challenge done so the kids and I headed to our local Dollar Tree and this is what we ended up getting.

4 Halloween Themed Flower Stems

2 2-pack glittery spiders

2 Black Creepy Cloth

2 White Creepy Cloth

2 Hanging Ghosts

1 BEWARE sign

1 spider web with spider decor

2 rubber rats

2 styrofoam Pumpkins

2 styrofoam tombstones

2 plastic skulls

2 plastic skull fence

1 cauldron pail

The talking doorbell was on clearance from BIG LOTS post Halloween from two years ago. I bought it for less than $5.

Here’s the BEFORE and AFTER for comparison.

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BEFORE

AFTER

Here are the back details of the house 🙂

Xavi and Cassie enjoying their mini haunted house

I’m sure we could have gotten more stuff from the Dollar Tree since they had a lot to offer like string lights shaped like skulls, pumpkins and bats, giant spiders, clip-on bats, etc. but a challenge is a challenge besides I’d like to think less is more.

How did we do with the 25-dollar challenge? Not bad right? I know Halloween is still a ways to go but I hope this inspires you and your kids to decorate your cubby house this Halloween season. Enjoy!

~Rhea

Cassie Turns Three: Mini Minnie Party

I had different plans for Cassie’s 3rd birthday but this little lady is starting to have a mind of her own. She was obsessed with Minnie Mouse for a while but I thought she got over that, boy was I wrong. Her obsession came back with a vengeance only to be validated by a trip to Disneyland. September was a busy month for us not only because it was Marco’s and my birth month but because I did a lot of out of state traveling with the kids. So Marco and I decided that throwing Cassie a party was out of the question since I already took her to Disneyland plus we got her a lot of presents from Ollie’s and also Toys R’ Us when it closed down. But Cassie had different expectations, she really wanted a Pink Minnie Mouse Party with her ‘Friends’ (the kids who go to the play place at Chick-Fil-A), emphasis on the PINK. I explained to her the situation and she agreed to just visit the Indianapolis Children’s Museum on her birthday and have a small party with just me, Marco and Xavi.

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“Mommy, my wish came true”- Cassie

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There were days after that conversation when she’d ask if we were having cake, or if her friends were coming or if I was going to decorate so I figured she must really want this party so why not throw her an actual party with her Minnie Mouse friends and our family of course. So I ordered a small cake, cupcakes and sugar cookies in theme from our local go-to chef, Chef Maggie of Simply Patisserie, I wrapped all of her gifts in Minnie Mouse wrapping paper, I ordered a Minnie Mouse Balloon bouquet, I manually blew up 30 pink and white balloons that we bought from the dollar store and with the help of a pink table cover and a bunch of lace paper doilies (also from the dollar store), I turned her play area into a small Pink Minnie Mouse Party.

On the day of her birthday, we surprised her with a Peppa Pig bike (yeahhh, that was before she wanted a Minnie Mouse Party) and you could see her face light up when she saw the mini set-up we prepared for her. Daddy had to go to work after that but she asked to go to Chick-fil-A for lunch and after I dressed her up in her pink Minnie Mouse costume that is exactly where I took her so she could play with her ‘friends’. Fortunately, Marco was able to get out of work early so we took her to Chuck E. Cheese’s, ordered some pizza and she went crazy with her game card, with Daddy’s help of course. She was so exhausted, she took an untimely nap after leaving that place and when she woke up from her nap, we sang her birthday song and opened the rest of her presents.

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We bought the Peppa Pig bike before she decided on the Pink Minnie Mouse Party (in case you were wondering)

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While ‘Ate’ was busy with her bike, this one went crazy with the balloons

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The next day we had another birthday party to attend to and the day after that we made a trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum as promised. In celebration of the month of Halloween, they had a Grim-nasium set up over there where kids could also trick or treat and of course she was dressed up as Minnie Mouse again (red version this time) and was happy that we dressed up her little brother, Xavi as Mickey Mouse. I guess you could say she was in Minnie Mouse Cloud 9 the whole weekend. Happy Birthday our little Threenager. We love you so much, Cas! You’re growing up too fast.

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DIY Peanut Butter FUN-whiches

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Recently, Marco and I have discovered the magic of Fresh Thyme‘s freshly ground almond, cashew and honey ground peanut butter (our personal favorite). They literally have the actual machines that convert your peanuts into butter right in front of your very eyes and the best part is you get to do it and you get to sample it as well, I don’t think it gets FRESH-er than that. If you don’t think that’s cool,well you can always grab an already packaged one.

Anyway, I wish I could say the same for my 2.5-yr old, Cassie. To those who follow me on IG, I know I’ve expressed how picky my child can be and unfortunately she has decided that she doesn’t like peanut butter without even trying. So, in efforts to change her mind I’ve created some “FUN-whiches”  with the help of some of her favorite fruits, hopefully she will want to try out one of these.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples (honestly you can pretty much improvise)

BEAR

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CAT

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

OWL

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, grapes)

MONKEY

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CHICKEN

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries)

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RANDOM SILLY FACE

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

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…And here’s the fun-which preparation after-math, I had to get some peanut butter for myself too. And just in case you’re thinking it.. NO, I didn’t double dip. haha.

~Rhea

DIY: #Walmartplayhousehack

Since I’ve been getting a lot of DMs about Cassie’s playhouse, I decided to finally blog about the building process and the house details. I’ve always wanted a wooden playhouse for Cassie and one of the main reasons for picking a wooden one instead of the hundreds of plastic options is the fact that you could make it your own. I wanted to have that option of painting and decorating the house like you would with your own home and I wanted it to be something my daughter and I could do together.

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This is the stock photo on the Walmart website.

We bought this Backyard Discovery Timberlake Cedar Wooden Playhouse at Walmart.com when it was on sale right before Christmas. It wasn’t much of a big sale but I’ve been on the watch and so far this was the cheapest it’s been. You can click on the product name above to link you directly to the Walmart website. When we purchased it, this playhouse was $175 and that’s very cheap considering that its a wooden playhouse. Right now (as I’m writing this blog) if you check the website the playhouse now runs for $184 which is still less than $200, still not bad for the price.

So before I decided to paint the house I started looking up Wooden Playhouse Decoration Inspiration on Pinterest and stumbled upon the Kmart Cubby house Hack and if you search on Instagram #kmartcubbyhack, it apparently is a thing that’s been around especially in Australia where parents decorate their kids wooden playhouses into posh, sophisticated, rustic, vintage or farmhouse inspired mini homes. The two houses look quite similar and from my understanding you’re able to purchase the other cubby home from Kmart in Australia for $199 AUS. I thought originally that they were the same size, I know I could’ve easily compared both by looking at their specifications online but based on some photos of the interior of the Kmart Cubby Home, that seems a tad bit bigger and wider to the point where you can put mini shelves. I honestly don’t know but with this Walmart Wooden Playhouse there’s barely any space if you have two kids playing in it already.

My husband, Marco, did most of the assembling but of course I helped, others may say that it’s possible to do it yourself but in our experience it definitely was a two-man job. I’d say the materials were labeled clearly and the instruction manual wasn’t all that confusing so I’ve got no complaints in that department. One day should be enough to build it although it took us quite awhile to build it since we were doing it leisurely during our spare time. We were building it inside our garage.

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The house after we assembled it.

As much as I loved how it turned out, I wanted to make it our own so that’s when I decided to paint it. I was a little undecided with the color scheme but I was sure I wanted gender-neutral colors to suit both Cassie and Xavi so I ended up with your typical black/white combo.I didn’t have to go far for paint, Walmart had the basic black and white (no mixing needed), I literally grabbed them from the shelf and paid for it. With the paint, I wasn’t too particular, in fact I just picked the color and picked the cheapest one. I didn’t bother reading if it was flat, matte, interior/exterior paint, quick dry— we were just painting a playhouse anyway.

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Marco was scared that the paint brushes that I got from the Dollar store were no good but again we were painting a playhouse, the wider the brush the more area it covers in one stroke. You will also need foam brushes to cover the crevices that you can’t reach with a normal paint brush. We didn’t bother sanding the wood prior to painting since it was already smooth to begin with. The paint color, type of paint and paint brush size are all subject to preference. Before you start painting, here are the things you need to do:

  1. Take out/ Unscrew all the house accessories (cooking stove, phone, doorknob, etc) and set them aside in a safe area so you don’t lose any screws
  2. Lift house and put a plastic drop cloth beneath it (or whatever that can protect your floors from messy paint)
  3. Apply painters tape to edges or corners that you don’t want to be painted or repainted. If you’re using tape on a newly painted surface make sure that the area is dry before applying tape.
  4.  PAINT first coat. I would suggest using different set of paintbrushes if you’re going with more than one color and also going one direction when painting, it just looks less messy that way)
  5. Use foam brush to fill in tight spots that can’t be reached by your paint brush.
  6. Once first coat is dry, apply second coat.
  7. Screw in all house accessories that were taken out prior to painting.
  8. DECORATE. Have fun putting up curtains, frames, house number, a bell— anything you want to personalize your playhome.

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In hindsight, it would have been easier to paint the material before assembling it. If you do decide to go this route, make sure that you re-label the wood before painting over the letters, these letters will serve as your guide when assembling the playhouse.

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VOILA! Here’s the finished product.

I’ve linked the metal vases with rope accents that were purchased from Dollar Tree, you can get them online but only in bulk. I also linked in the Grass Rug that we placed under the house, I wasn’t too comfortable with Cassie stepping on possibly rickety wooden planks so this was the cheapest and most practical alternative we could find and this rug can be used both indoor and outdoor, at least I won’t have to worry if it gets rained on. The Greenscapes Grass Rug measures 4×6 and was purchased from Target online for $22.99. We’re still in the process of adding more accents here and there but I think that pretty much wraps up the house building process. If you have any questions about  this #kmartcubbyhack or rather this #walmartplayhousehack send me an email or shoot DM, I would be glad to help.

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Finally my little family is done with this little project.

Thanks for stopping by!

~Rhea

DIY Winter Maternity Shoot: 37 Weeks

Being pregnant can toy with your emotions and affect your self confidence especially when you’re used to being small most of your life. It’s like one day you wake up and look at the mirror and there it is…that big bump and that large behind. Based on my first pregnancy I already knew that I wasn’t one of those women who carry their babies small, it’s always my behind and my belly that go first; the arms, the face and the rest of me follow.

At 37 weeks I knew I didn’t want my pictures taken because I was scared to see a planet in the photos plus its been snowing here in Indiana and all I wanted to do was stay warm indoors but my sister Pauline convinced me to do them, nothing fancy just some DIY project that we both could work on. And it just so happened that it was her birthday that day and she suggested that we could do my pregnancy photos, how could you say “No” to the birthday girl, right? So I took out my brand new portable makeup train case with the light-up mirror that Marco gave me for Christmas and had Pauline do my makeup.

I didn’t have anything to wear since this was an impromptu thing but having a theater background assured me that I could scrounge up some things I could use for the photos. I’d have to admit it’s not the best but I think it’s pretty okay considering that I didn’t have a lot of winter-apt stuff, I barely could fit any of my old clothes and we were chasing good lighting a.k.a Mr. Sun.

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So here’s what I came up with: my DIY Flower crown from years ago, Tassel earrings on sale at Walmart for $2, my thrifted fur find from a garage sale in 2007, a plain white tank top that barely fits me, a knitted sweater I thrifted from Goodwill, a tulle maxi skirt from the Philippines that doesn’t fit me at all. (unzipped skirt clearly not in photos,haha) and Zara nude flats that I risked in the snow (btw, they survived).

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…And we were lucky enough to have light snowfall while we were taking pictures.

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I’m sharing some of my raw and unedited photos just to continuously remind myself how beautiful and wonderful pregnancy is no matter how ugly I feel inside and out and after I give birth I’m going to make sure that I wear my ‘battle scars’ (aka stretch marks) with pride.

They say the biggest blessings come in small packages, I guess this little one is an exception because this tummy of mine ain’t nothing like a small package. Haha. I can’t wait to meet you my little Xavi.

~Mommy Rhea