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

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Destination: Sandusky, Ohio

For October, Marco ended up having a more flexible schedule due to this month’s rotation which we found perfect since it’s Cassie’s birth month and we’re also celebrating our 4th civil wedding anniversary so it was the most perfect time to schedule a mini-vacation. They had a bunch of deals for Great Wold Lodge all over the US and it just so happened that one of the cheapest ones they had was in Sandusky, Ohio which was a 3.5-hour drive. They actually had a closer one in Mason, Ohio which was just a 2.5 hour drive from Muncie but they were a bit more expensive so we went with the cheaper one, plus we didn’t really mind the hour difference so off to Sandusky we went.

Day 1

Address to Google: Great Wolf Lodge- Sandusky; 4600 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

Marco decided to drive and we didn’t even have to make any pit stops, we didn’t need gas, we had food in the car and no one had to pee so we made it in good time. Check-in time is usually at 4pm but if you do check-in earlier and there are rooms available they just give it to you on the spot and if not you can still enjoy the amenities (water park, restaurants, etc.) while waiting to avail of your room. In our case there were rooms available so we were already checked in at 12:30 noon time.

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View from the outside.

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Check in counter at the Great Wolf Lodge-Sandusky.

This had to be one of the easiest check-ins I’ve ever done in my entire life. They asked for my driver’s license, the credit card that I used to make the reservations and they asked me if I had any room preference. They also briefly explained the halloween activities they had for the entire October and handed me keys to my room and they also handed Cassie complementary fox ears for the halloween festivities and that was it. Easy peasy.

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I think a photo of this bear chair was a must. haha.

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The grand fireplace all set up for Howl-o-ween.

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…And the infamous giant spider balloon was a sight to behold, especially for Cassie.

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Making friends with hags and witches alike. 😀

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Admiring the jack-o-lanterns, this is where they hold the storybook time every night.

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The room was a decent size considering what we paid for, I really think that was a steal. They had 2 queen sized beds, a living room area, a breakfast nook and complementary bottles of water, toiletries (the standard) and chocolates (I’m guessing due to the halloween event)

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Cassie saw the waterpark from the lobby window and “demanded” that we swim right away. We swam the entire afternoon until it was Trick or Treat time. And since I’m pregnant and can hardly move my daughter automatically clung to dear daddy and wouldn’t let go of him. She wouldn’t even hold my hand, she just wanted her daddy. Haha. After 2-3 hours of swimming we headed back to the room to freshen up and change into our costumes.

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We try to make trick or treating a family affair and I’m just one of those wives blessed with a husband who’s down for anything. Just taking the time to appreciate Marco, not every daddy would dress up for the little ones but this one did and he didn’t complain either. I think we did fine considering our costumes were last minute.

Yo-ho-ho a pirates life for us.

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The staff at Great Wolf Lodge handed out their own Howl-o-ween plastic bags for trick or treating so you don’t have to bring your own basket. I’d advise for you to bring costumes for the little ones although its not mandatory, I just think it makes the whole experience more fun. They do this every night so If you’re one of those moms who have fun dressing up your kids (like I do) you can even bring one costume per night.

They had mini stations or a trail that you follow for your treats and if you happen to get lost, the staff can easily direct you to the next station. You can also have fun in the mini photo booth they set up before or after you trick or treat.

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Cassie was completely out after that so we skipped out on story book time and enjoyed a peaceful dinner at Berardi’s Family Kitchen, a Sandusky local restaurant. You cannot miss this place when you are in town and their Spinach Artichoke Dip is to die-for, probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

Address to Google: Berardi’s Family Kitchen; 1019 W Perkins Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870

Day 2

A long day, that was what it felt like yesterday! I think the drive, the swimming and the howl-o-ween activities cleaned us out so we decided to sleep in. Had breakfast care of last night’s left overs and some sausages for Cassie, we brought from home.

Oh yeah, for families on a budget and aren’t willing to spend so much on food, bringing microwaveables and your own drinks would be a good idea since they have their own microwave and refrigerator in the rooms.

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Since we don’t have Chipotle in Muncie and Marco knew that I was craving for it, he suggested to have lunch there. It was only a 5 minute drive from Great Wolf Lodge. Happy Tummies.

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We took Cassie to the arcade after lunch but it wasn’t very toddler-friendly, I mean sure she enjoyed the lights and the sounds but there literally was just one ride in that place and it was that bus so she just kept going back on it.

Since we spent $10 on the card, Marco decided to play the bowling game, the Iceball FX and topped the score 3x. Apparently when you do that, you end up getting 250 tickets so he got that times three. I don’t think he’s won that much so we were all pretty excited and Cassie was more than happy to pick a prize from the prize section. She ended up getting a Marshall plush from Paw Patrol, once again daddy was her hero.

After the arcade, Marco and Cassie went swimming and I had to run to the post office to run errands. I swam with them as soon as I got back and just like yesterday Cassie was soooo exhausted that she missed out on her trick or treat. We had early dinner and Marco scouted the place for another tummy adventure.

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Marco has been wanting to try this Vietnamese restaurant down the road but I wasn’t feeling it yesterday. Today I gave in to his request and I’m so glad I did.

We had really good spring rolls for appetizer and I would’ve eaten more if I didn’t have a main course to go. He got to order his Pho and I got to order the Banh Mi that I haven’t had in a long time and Cassie had her fries and nuggets that we got from a McDonald’s drive thru, everyone was happy. Hahaha.

Address to Google: Mekong; 4318 Milan Rd, Sandusky, OH 44870

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We didn’t make it to story book time but we still got to change Cassie in her Pjs to take a picture with Oliver the raccoon. They usually have the characters of Great Wolf Lodge come out after the story for a photo op. We were actually last in line.

Day 3

Today’s agenda was to check out early and head to the Merry-Go-Round Museum, spend a few hours there and have lunch somewhere before driving home. I’ve been dying to check this museum out just because I fancy old school carousels and want to learn more about the history, they also had good ratings.

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Address to Google: Merry-go-round Museum; 301 Jackson St, Sandusky, OH 44870

…And of all the days we decided to come, they were closed for renovation. They’ve actually been closed for improvements with their displays but I checked their website and it said that they were done with it. I’m guessing they extended because they were going to open 2 days from now. I was really upset but I guess its another reason to come and visit Sandusky again.

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After taking photos across the museum (just because they had a flower garden and a fountain that Cassie would have enjoyed if it weren’t raining like crazy), Marco and I decided to just go visit the Marblehead Lighthouse 30 minutes away to make up for this trip disappointment.

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On the way there we spotted Toft Dairy Ice Cream Parlor and I remember reading that it was Ohio’s Oldest Dairy and a must-visit when you’re in town, as soon as we walked in they did have that sign. And the ratings were right, they’re truly a must-visit and you can’t not have their Butter Pecan ice cream.

By the way, they do have big servings and its even bigger in a cup than on a cone. (this coming from my husband who can eat a lot of ice cream, haha)

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I cant believe Cassie fell asleep again, she always does when its sight-seeing. I’m pretty sure she would have wanted to explore the place like she usually does but hey, at least Marco and I got to enjoy the view peacefully with no crazy running toddler. Haha. The museum and the light house was closed but at least the scenery was so worth it, besides I don’t think I’ capable of going up those 70+ lighthouse steps being pregnant and all.

Address to Google: Marblehead Light; 10 Lighthouse Dr, Marblehead, OH 43440

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For lunch we came across this place called Netty’s Famous Chili Dogs and Marco just knew that he wanted to eat there so after checking out Marblehead light, we came back only to find out they only accepted cash and we had none. Of course we went to the nearest ATM to withdraw so we could still have those chili dogs. They were cheap and they were good and they lasted us our entire drive back home.

And you know what, they were a few days away from closing for the season coz apparently this business is only open from March to October. We were lucky enough to make it and we wouldn’t have if the Merry-go-round Museum was open so I guess everything really DOES happen for a reason. Toft’s the Lighthouse and the chili dogs was a more than enough consolation.

Address to Google: 9410 E Harbor Rd, Lakeside Marblehead, OH 43440

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To wrap up our trip, Marco allowed me to stop by the Bergman Orchards to pick up pumpkins for our front porch. They were reasonably priced and of course cheaper than the supermarket pumpkins. I wanted to go crazy over those white and pastel colored ones but opted to get the smaller ones instead. We just moved into our house and I promised him I wouldn’t go crazy spending on home decorations all at once so I compromised by just getting a few. I can go all out next year, hopefully.

And that sums up our trip to Sandusky, Ohio. I hope y’all have a grand time when you go visit coz we sure had a blast during this road trip.

~Rhea

Muncie Local: Moore-Youse House Museum

The first time people found out that we were eventually moving to Muncie, Indiana for Marco’s new job, they were all like “Where is that? or “What’s there?”. A handful of people have heard of the place but for the majority they probably think its in the middle of nowhere (although our common go-to phrase has been “its 50 minutes away from Indianapolis” and its worked out just fine). Contrary to popular belief, Muncie isn’t as small as you think and I have heard of 2 famous people from this side of town (Woaaahhh) so I think that should count as something right? There’s David Letterman, the late night talk show host and Jim Davis, the creator of Garfield and if you still haven’t heard of any of the two that I mentioned then….I guess you google them. haha.

Usually when we travel, Marco and I take it as a challenge to find out what’s good about the place. He usually searches for good food places and hole-in-the-walls while I try to see the “Things to do” in the area which usually involves museums, art galleries, vineyards, parks, zoos, places that are more or less baby friendly since we’ve had Cassie. It’s no surprise that I’m treating Muncie similar to a place of travel, I guess you could say I’m trying to get to know the place, right?

So for our first stop, the Moore-Youse Home Museum.

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From my understanding, this home is said to be the oldest standing house in Downtown Muncie. It was built around the 1860s and was family owned for years until it was donated to the Delaware County Historical Society in 1982. The hours open vary depending on which website you happen to stumble upon so I suggest that you call 765-282-1150 to confirm. They also carry different information concerning the admission prices, some will say $2/ person (which isn’t much, really) while other websites will say its free of charge and donations are appreciated. Personally, during our visit they didn’t charge us anything for admission but we made sure to provide a generous donation.

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The room to the right, as soon as you enter, contained pieces of artwork and posters from a local artist named Eugene Mumaw. I understand that this was a temporary exhibit and I’d have to say that I enjoyed it immensely as he was the man behind the local theater’s historic posters for 30 years.

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Upstairs, two rooms were restored and allowed for viewing and I was pretty excited to see how they set up the place. The thing I love with house museums is the idea of getting a chance to peer into how these people lived their lives in the past, of course a good imagination is somewhat required but the environment or room, rather contributes a lot. They showcased the master bedroom and the children’s bedroom.

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I found the children’s bedroom very intriguing and rather creepy (although I am a big fan of “creepy”) because it had a good amount of eerily placed dolls all over the room as you can see for yourself. I’m pretty sure my brother Paulo would have freaked out, he’s such a big baby when it comes to dolls and clowns.

After taking time to check out the little vintage bits and baubles they had in the second floor, we headed back to the first floor to check the last room that we haven’t been into.

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An assortment of historical displays from US naval uniforms to intricate hand sewn/ embroidered dresses and accessories.

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As for the museum being kid-friendly, let’s just say my one and a half year old survived the place, older kids would do fine too as long as they don’t do anything crazy like jumping on the vintage beds and breaking the antique items they have on display as these items are very accessible. For tweens and teens, there is a chance for them to find this place very interesting, and its not really an extensive look-back into history so I doubt they would even find the time find it boring.

If you happen to be in town, I suggest you come by and visit this house museum. Here’s the address to type in your GPS:

122 E Washington St, Muncie, IN 47305

Enjoy!

~Rhea

Houston Local: Downtown Houston Graffiti Art (Part I)

For months now we’ve planned to visit Downtown Houston to visit the graffiti art within the city but for some reason something always comes up and we end up postponing our plans for another day. In a way a there’s a slight urgency to see these outdoor artwork  because some of them aren’t permanently there and what I mean by that is sometimes artists change their work and it gets replaced by something else so while they’re there its best to take advantage of it.

Today, my husband woke up and suggested to randomly visit downtown so we could finally see some of Houston’s graffiti art work. We figured since we’re moving to Indiana in a few months, now would be a best time to explore Houston so we headed to Halal Guys first for lunch since we’ve been craving it for days now and the location we wanted to go to was approximately 7 minutes away from it so that worked out perfectly fine.

Here are some photos that we took during our visit. For those who are interested to see these murals here’s an address to put in your GPS:

1503 Chartres St., Houston, Texas 77003

I just wish there was someone who could tell us the name of these pieces. Anyone knowledgeable? Shoot me an email or comment down below. I’d love to recognize the artists and their artwork. Thanks!

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Oh, btw today is the First Day of Spring. How apt that our day turned out to be full of life and full of colors, just like spring. Happy First Day of Spring, everyone!

~Rhea

Rodeo Houston 2017

For an unplanned trip to the rodeo, I think we did pretty okay. We really didn’t have a specific day to go nor were we picky with the performing artist, I just wanted Marco and Cassie to experience the rodeo as it was their first time to go. We picked Wednesday because it had the cheapest tickets for the concert and the artist performing that day was Thomas Rhett, a well known country singer. Of course this was the first time we were hearing about him but that’s because Marco and I don’t usually listen to country music.

We started the day with a bunch of rodeo fails :

#1 We didn’t leave early enough. We could have made it an entire day affair but we didn’t take that into consideration. So for future references think of it as a day at Disney or Six Flags, there literally is a lot to do over there.

#2 And again, since we didn’t leave early enough we caught the rodeo traffic and it took us a good hour to look for parking

#3 We forgot to withdraw money, we only figured that out when we were trying to park and they had signs saying they only take cash. FYI, parking is hard during rodeo season if you’re not there early. Parking costs range from $20-$50, maybe even $60. We were lucky enough to find more in the yellow lot for $20.

#4 We forgot to bring our umbrella stroller and we ended up lugging our big jogger stroller around.

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We knew it was going to be impossible for us to take a decent family picture once we get rolling with the rodeo activities so we opted to do it as soon as we entered the vicinity

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The biggest boot in town

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She’s at this stage where she completely recognizes the animals and masters the sounds they make so you can only imagine how delighted she was to be surrounded by them. We probably would have spent more time at the petting area if only she wasn’t recovering from the flu and if we had more time before the concert.

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It was pure chaos buying food at the rodeo, with a child and a handful of food it was impossible for us to take photos of  what we ate. (Volcano Nachos, Giant Pizza–one slice was actually 2 regular ones, Cheeseburger and Funnel Cake)

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One out of the two photos I took from the Rodeo festivities. Marco and I were so into it that we forgot to take pictures. Our favorite was the Kids Mutton Bustin’ event where the kid who could stay on the back of the mutton, the longest wins.

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….We finally got introduced to Thomas Rhett and we enjoyed his songs more than we expected. I think I like country music as long as its not too hard core. Haha. This photo right here was when he asked everyone to take out their phones and wave it in the air, it was a pretty cool sight, this photo does not do justice.

Cassie on the other hand didn’t really act up considering that this was her first ever concert. She tried to out-scream the music during the concert and couldn’t figure out why people couldn’t hear her, it was the funniest thing ever. She was scared a few times when they would dim the lights but generally she was a sport and would clap her hands with everyone else after every song.

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Me and my sister after the concert. They kinda allowed us to crash their monthsary date to the point where we sat next to them during the concert.

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Our last photos of the night.

It is exhausting to go to the rodeo with a baby but I’m glad that Cassie had a great time. It was challenging for me and Marco but the day turned out great and most importantly we were safe. To those who didn’t hear, there was a shooting scare that day so after the concert we were asked to stay in the stadium premises until they cleared things out in the grounds. They didn’t really mention anything about “shooting or gunning” but it was on the news so people were texting us, asking if we were okay and that’s how we knew. After that, Marco and I decided to call it a day and we headed home.

~Rhea