Stage One: Complete.

Just 467 stages left to go! I couldn’t resist getting started. The main function of our sensory table is to hold a tub in which to do messy play. And I really wanted to try out my new power tool (again, courtesy of Granddad Munkie, thank you!). It was a bit scary, because the saw goes faster than I can think. Mr Munkie suggested I should pre-dial 999 on my mobile, so I could push the green ‘call’ button with my nose should I accidentally cut off my fingers… 

For a first go, I’m quite pleased.  And Moon Munkie is loving it already. Next I need to figure out how to make a removable light box. Suggestions in the comments below please!

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Coffee Table

My bargain ebay coffee table has arrived! Need to live with it for a few days before the upcycling process begins. (Ooohh I get to use my new jigsaw!) I want to turn it into a sensory table. With a light box. And a paper-roll holder. And a blackboard. And a magnetic sheet. And an acrylic mirror. And a doo-dah for holding pens and scissors. And a series of pockets for papers and craft materials. And… You can see why I need to wait for a few days before I begin. Need to let the ideas settle and consolidate into a sensible, manageable  plan before I let loose with the power tools! Watch this space!

Play kitchen

Last Christmas I fell in love with this toy kitchen. I ummed and ahhhed about getting it for my Munkie, but it was £60 which felt  too extravagant for a 1 year old. Also, it’s less than half a metre tall, meaning that by the time she’s 5 or 6 it will be too little to play with properly. But the image of the pretty blue oven with the red gingham oven gloves continued to creep into my daydreams until I couldn’t resist any longer: I either needed to buy the oven or create a substitute.  

Searching the internet for tutorials, I found no shortage of build your own toy kitchen instructions. But none really matched my rookie woodworking skill level. Then suddenly it came to me. Upcycling. My favourite way to make. It’s cheap and sustainable and gives you a warm glow when you’re done.  A quick google revealed all manner of possibilities, from an entertainment centre (too big), to a stool  (too small),  to a bedside cabinet (just right).  Seriously, there are a lot of talented Mummies and Daddies out there in Internet Land.  Mr Munkie selflessly donated his bedside cabinet to the cause and we were all set to go.

Except I had no tools. Or experience. Or any ideas of how to begin. So a few months of heavy pondering were in order. In the meantime Granddad Munkie had blessed me with a powerdrill as a birthday gift. Armed with this and girlie thoughts of pretty pastel kitchens I headed off to B&Q for a sheet of MDF.  (Have I mentioned before how much I like the people in this place?  I’m a novice DIYer. I have grand ideas and no abilities. They never fail to support me whilst gently suggesting more reasonable ways to achieve the effect I’m looking for.)

A woodworking friend cut the straight edges on his table saw. And he used a router to inset a piece of perspex in the over door. I sprayed with aerosol paint. I attached all the bits together with little white plastic doo-dahs which I now know are referred to as “modesty blocks”. I went to town with the hot glue gun. And whipped up some accessories from the red gingham I loved so much. A few felt cupcakes later and my Moon Munkie was overjoyed to receive Mama Munkie’s version of the Honeybake on her 2nd birthday. Seriously fun to make and seriously fun to play with. I find myself “tidying” it while she’s sleeping.

Upcycled Bureau

My granny had a bureau. It was a great solid piece of furniture with the requiste pull-down desk at the front. And inside, a world of cubby-holes, drawers and hiding places for childhood secrets. Through the years that bureau was a post-office; a babychange table; a shop; the place I did homework and revised for examinations; and for one glorious summer it was the headquarters of the imaginary cleaning business that my brother, cousin and I ran.  For that summer, we were Reckitt and Coleman. We had the headed paper to prove it. (A small insight into the Munkie pysche here: my imaginary childhood company sold cleaning products. Not magic wands, princess dresses or fairy cakes. Go figure.)

Needless to say, the allures of a bureau have long been calling me. And the wonderful people at Freecycle always come up with the goods. I collected a fabulous old bureau from a family who had had it for a while but no longer had the space. The gentleman of the house told a lovely story of falling asleep as a child whilst his father worked at the desk, and hearing the characteristic jangle of the hinges as the desk folded up. It had since been used as a toy box for his own kids and was not the bureau it once had been.Once my Moon Munkie was done using it as a climbing-frame-cum-hiding-place it was time to begin the work.

Never having done a project like this, I took it really slowly. It took the whole summer, first dismantling, then sanding, undercoating and 3 coats of Overtly Olive later, it looked like new. Inside I went for a girly combination of raspberry pink wood with green polka dot paper backing. (Thanks to the kind people of B&Q Bury St Edmunds who understood my plight and inisted I cut a sample of wallpaper long enough to finish the project rather than buy a whole roll.)

I’m still not entirely happy with it. I don’t like the uneven way the paint has worn. It’s beginning to look more shabby than chic. Additionally, I wish I’d chosen a softer, more relaxing shade of pink. But it’s a corner of my own to read bible, study, plan lessons, write letters and drink coffee. A rose scented soap from my (incredibley talented) friend Ruth sits in one of the cubby holes and wafts me to a summer place each time I open the desk. It’s a calming place to be and it’s reassuring to know that if the urge ever grabs me , I can return to my roots in the glamourous world of cleaning product sales.