Boys Can Like Dolls Too!

Meet Matthew - Boys Can Like Dolls Too!

Meet Matthew – Boys Can Like Dolls Too!

A couple weeks ago, my 8 year-old daughter was flipping through an American Girl catalog we had just gotten in the mail.  We gave her an American Girl doll for Christmas, and she was looking through all the fun accessories and clothes.  My four year-old son came up to look with her, and almost immediately asked “Where are the Boy dolls?”  The pages are full of beautiful girls with their dolls that look just like them playing together, but there’s not a single boy doll to be found!  I thought maybe they were in the online store, even Barbie has Ken right?  But after scouring their site, I was really surprised that American Girl doesn’t make a single boy doll!

I thought there had to be something out there, but after several Google searches I was still coming up empty handed.   There were dolls out there, but they either weren’t the right size, or they were out of stock until next Christmas.  Although I want to rant about the lack of dolls available for boys and for our society believing boys shouldn’t play with dolls, I’m only going to say this- BOYS CAN PLAY WITH DOLLS TOO!!!  It became my mission to find my son a doll that looked like him.

I did find people that would custom make boy dolls on Etsy and Ebay, but I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, and those dolls were just as expensive as a new American Girl doll and they were used!  The new ones were even more, so I decided to make one myself.  I’m crafty – how hard could it be??

Honestly, it wasn’t that hard, but it took a lot of research on my part and it really wasn’t that much cheaper than the Etsy options considering you still have to buy clothes and shoes for the doll!  But the clothes included with the dolls weren’t as nice, and this way I was able to get exactly what I wanted.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Find a doll with the skin tone and eye color you want- you can change the hair!  I chose a Madame Alexander 18″ doll off of Amazon.  It was $31.99, and had a cute outfit that I though my daughter would like for her dolls.  American Girl does sell dolls without hair that you can put a wig on if you really want that brand, but it’s the same price as the dolls with hair!  My son isn’t ready for a doll that’s $115, but some kids might be.
  2. Find a wig for your doll (unless you’re talented enough to cut the hair yourself- I wasn’t!)  I picked the Johnny wig by Monique in pale blonde, size 10-11″.
  3. Find or make doll clothes and shoes.  I can sew, but I picked a couple outfits off Etsy and Ebay to save myself some time.  There’s really not a lot to choose from, but I found a few cute things for my son and he cared more about his doll having pajamas!
  4. Once I had the doll, I removed all the makeup, but left the eyebrows on.  I watched a couple YouTube tutorials on taking the makeup off, and just went for it!  They recommended using pure Acetone, but I figured I’d try regular nail polish remover with Acetone since I have it on hand and didn’t want to keep pure Acetone in the house. It worked!  It wasn’t as fast as the videos I watched, and probably needed more elbow grease, but I got the makeup off.  I found using a wooden cuticle stick worked really well to get into the little crevices.
  5. I cut the hair off.  The little girl inside me was saying “You’re going to get in trouble!” so it was kind of fun!  The Madame Alexander dolls have rooted hair (American Girl dolls have wigs glued onto their heads), so I cut it as close to the head as I could.  I then glued the wig on using Aleene’s craft glue, and my son had a boy doll!
Such an adorable little boy doll!

Such an adorable little boy doll!

My son loves his new doll!  He’s slept with him every night, and named him Matthew.  And he plays dolls with his sister – he’s going to make an awesome dad some day!!

I have a few more tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:

  1. If you have the time and patience, check out thrift stores.  I found this beautiful doll at my local Goodwill for $2.99.  It needed some cleaning, and a new wig but she’s one of my kid’s favorites now!

    Thrift store doll cleaned, makeup removed, and a new wig.  Giving new life to used toys!

    Thrift store doll cleaned, makeup removed, and a new wig. Giving new life to used toys!

  2. Magic Eraser really is magic!  It removes almost everything off the vinyl face, legs and arms.
  3. Benzoyl Peroxide (in acne cream) is supposed to be able to remove ink/marker from vinyl.  I’m going to try this right away!

I can’t say this enough – Boys can play with dolls too!

❤ Laura

Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets

Lovely Neighbors - Before builder basic maple cabinets

Lovely Neighbors – Before builder basic maple cabinets

I have to say first that there really wasn’t anything wrong with my kitchen cabinets.  Our house is only 7 years-old, and they’re still in great condition.  That said, I really disliked my cabinets!  They are builder-basic maple, and not anything really special.  But, years ago when my husband and I were newly married, we painted cabinets with latex paint and everything about it was horrible!  All the sanding and painting and sanding and painting and steel wool – it went on and on and on!  I swore I would never do it again!

And then I found chalk paint. After my China Cabinet success, I decided to tackle my kitchen island first.  I knew I wanted the island to be a different color than the rest of my cabinets, so I used the leftover paint from my china cabinet – Valspar Shutter Brown flat paint to mix my own chalk paint.  It only took me a day and a half with my husband’s help waxing.  I painted the entire island- including the textured drywall, and baseboards so it would look like one piece.  I wanted to be sure the paint would hold up in my kitchen before painting all the cabinets, so we waited several months. The waxed finish is washable, and still looks the same as when I painted!

Lovely Neighbors - Chalk painted Kitchen Island.  DIY Chalk Paint with Valspar Shutter Brown paint.

Lovely Neighbors – Chalk painted Kitchen Island. DIY Chalk Paint with Valspar Shutter Brown paint.

I then painted the cabinets around my refrigerator in a weekend (again, a special thanks to my hubby for waxing them!) The color is Valspar Coconut Milk – it’s really a creamy off-white.  I still can’t believe how much I love it!

Lovely Neighbors- Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets. I love white cabinets!

Lovely Neighbors- Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets.
I love white cabinets!

A few weeks later, my husband helped me paint the rest of the cabinets – it took the two of us two days between all the prep, painting, waxing and clean up.  Two days well spent!

Lovely Neighbors Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets with homemade chalk paint.

Lovely Neighbors Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets with homemade chalk paint.

Want to know how we did it?

First step –  Prepping the cabinets-

  1. I wiped down all the cabinets, walls and baseboards with a clean rag and hot water.
  2. I removed the cabinet doors and hinges (helpful tip my husband came up with – label the inside of each hinge with a permanent marker, along with the hinge holes in the cabinet doors – makes for a lot less adjusting when putting the doors back on!)
  3. I stored all the hinges in labeled Ziploc bags with their screws so we wouldn’t lose any (things tend to disappear in a house with two kiddos!)

All set to mix your paint!

How do I make Chalk Paint?

Supplies needed:

  • Mixing cup
  • Flat Latex Paint
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Cold water

What next?

  1. Mix 1 part Plaster of Paris with 1 part cold water
  2. Stir in 2 parts latex paint
  3.  Add water to thin as needed.

Tip- Paint should be thinner than regular latex paint.

That’s it! You’re ready to paint.

We painted the cabinet doors and drawer fronts in the garage.  The paint dries really quickly, so by the time I finished the first coat on all of them, the first was dry enough for a second coat.  I did three thin coats of chalk paint – it sounds like a lot, but it goes really fast I swear!

I painted both the inside and outside of the cabinet doors, and I tried to paint with the grain, although you can’t really see brush strokes with 3 coats of paint.

We painted the outside of the cabinet boxes only.  Again, the cabinets are in great shape, and didn’t really need refinishing, so I saved myself some time there.

Next step, is waxing.  I’m not going to lie, this is a lot more work than painting.  My husband has gotten really good at it though!  We use Minwax Paste finishing wax – it’s in a yellow can.  We’ve tried several application methods, but so far we like using old t-shirts the best.  Just get as much wax on the shirt as you can, and rub it onto the painted surface.

Once it’s dry, buff it smooth, and it will take on a dull shine.  I like using another t-shirt to buff, but my husband likes the natural bristle brushes.  They both work pretty well.

Putting all the door and drawers back together is the most rewarding step!

Lovely Neighbors Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets with homemade chalk paint.

Lovely Neighbors Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets with homemade chalk paint.

We also added hardware I found on Amazon.  I’ve pinned links to the hardware on our Pinterest board if you want to check them out.  I just love the details to them!

Lovely Neighbors new cabinet hardware for newly painted cabinets!

Lovely Neighbors new cabinet hardware for newly painted cabinets!

Lovely Neighbors new cabinet hardware for newly painted cabinets!

Lovely Neighbors new cabinet hardware for newly painted cabinets!

I’m planning to paint my kitchen as well, but I haven’t decided on a wall color yet.  What so you think – should I go blue, or a shade darker than my cabinets?

Thanks for checking out my kitchen cabinets!  Stay tuned to see my Chalk Painted Kitchen Table and Chairs – you can see little peaks of them in my kitchen pictures above.

Have any questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you!

❤ Laura

We’re back!

Happy Belated New Year everyone – We’re back!  Our last post was months ago, but we’ve been hard at work on several projects we can’t wait to tell you about!

-Highlights from 2014-

Melissa moved!  This was both happy and sad for us.  We so miss living next door to each other, but Melissa’s family now has a bigger house, and a new pool!  We’ll walk you through her brand-new home’s transformation from bare white walls to an actual family home.

Laura is now a part-time employee!  She’s ecstatic about it, and looking forward to spending more time with her family.  She also has been very busy with her current favorite thing- chalk paint!  She’s re-finished a kitchen table and chairs, a coffee table, her kitchen cabinets and is currently working on her bedroom!

Our families went together to Disneyland and California Adventure in October.  We had a blast and learned some tips and tricks to getting the most out of your Disney experience!

-Lovely Neighbors Favorites of 2014-

  • Pinterest – where most of our inspiration comes from!
  • Etsy – so many creative and talented people selling amazing things!
  • Amazon – deals to find, and they support our local school!
  • Zulily – it’s kind of like an online Marshall’s.  Enough said?!
  • Chalk Paint!!
  • Spray Paint
  • Antique Glaze
  • Our wonderful and patient husbands!! ❤❤❤

-Lovely Neighbors Preview for 2015-

  • Chalk painting Kitchen Cabinets
  • Mudroom organization
  • Chalk painting an electric Fireplace
  • Decorating Kids Rooms
  • Chalk painting a Kitchen Table and Chairs
  • Upholstering and Tufting a Headboard using Canvas drop cloth and rhinestone buttons
  • Metallic Nightstands – swoon!
  • Building a king-sized storage bed with drawers
  • Creating a no-sew bedskirt out of a canvas drop cloth

Stay Tuned, and thanks for reading!

❤ Laura and Melissa

Adding Storage to a Lovely Little Powder Room

Lovely Neighbors - Over the toilet powder room storage. Such a smart use of space!

Our little downstairs powder room is one of the most used rooms in our house, and has the least amount of square footage!  I wouldn’t really want to devote more space to a bathroom, but wanted to be able to store essentials like toilet paper in the room where we actually use it.

My husband thought maybe we should put in a vanity with storage space, but I like the pedestal sink and was worried about making the room look even smaller!  When we first moved in, I hung some small floating shelves over the toilet to store extra toilet paper and had a few candles too.  I had a pretty box on the top shelf for my girly necessities.   They worked for a while, but I kept looking at the wasted wall space and decided to maximize our storage.

My husband built a box to fit the space above the toilet ( a little tip- make it smaller than the space because you need room to fit it into the space – he had to take it apart because we couldn’t force it in!)  It was really ugly – even he thought so!  Even painted white, it looked unfinished and my husband thought we should tear it out and start over.  I still thought we could save it though, so I picked out some trim and we got back to work!  We used the little corner medallions to make the corners easier – and I really like the added detail from them.  We primed and painted everything before installing it in the bathroom.  I filled all the nail holes with putty, and caulked all the gaps, and then painted everything again.  I love how it looks like it came with the house!  That, and we can store everything that a little powder room needs – plus, a few pretty pieces too!

Do you like the blue vases?  I’d picked them all up over the years, and first spray painted them with primer, then hand painted them with latex paint (Sherwin Williams Cay) so they all coordinate and look like pottery.   The paint color on the walls is Sherwin Williams Bubble.  And while I love the color – I wouldn’t recommend Sherwin Williams paint – it doesn’t cover very well, and we ended up returning it.  Lowes is able to mix Sherwin Williams colors though – and I haven’t found a paint that I like better than Valspar.

Here are a few more pics of our powder room and wall shelf.  What do you think?

❤ Laura

Lovely Neighbors - Lovely Powder Room Lovely Neighbors - Over the toilet powder room storage. Such a smart use of space!


My Lovely Little Picky Eater

Lovely Neighbors - Tips on dealing with a picky eater

I think I need to join a support group filled with fellow parents of picky eaters.  I can see it now – “Hello, my name is Laura, and my daughter will only eat foods with melted cheese.”

My mother says that I had it coming, and she’s probably right!  I can remember refusing to eat many things, especially my vegetables.  But in my defense – does anyone really enjoy eating micro-waved, mushy veggies??  I can also remember sitting at the dinner table until it was bedtime, since I refused to eat hamburger stew (again- can you really blame me?!)  Does it make it any easier to deal with my 7 year old daughter the picky eater?  Maybe a little – I do know where she’s coming from, and she definitely got her stubborn streak from me.  But the voices in my head are at war with how to feed my daughter on a daily basis.  I’ve gotten all kinds of advice from many people – some of it I even asked for!  And I’m finding that just like all other aspects of parenting, there is no right answer for every kid.  And to anyone that thinks they can get my stubborn daughter to try green eggs and ham?  You’re most welcome to try!

For the last several years, we have mostly given in to her pickiness.  My desire to not have power struggles at mealtime has won out over my desire to make only one thing for dinner.  But this year, my husband and I have renewed our efforts to get her to eat what we do.  I’m not talking about anything exotic either.  There will be no wars over brussel sprouts or sushi, and absolutely no liver.  My goal for this year is to get her to eat foods that most kids will eat, like spaghetti or chicken that’s not in the shape of a nugget or strip!  But, when it’s easier to list the foods she’s willing to eat rather than the ones she won’t, I have my work cut out for me!

I could go on and on about all my failed attempts to introduce new foods into her diet – some were pretty epic.  Instead, I’m going to share what has worked so far.

  1. Do your best to keep calm, and stay rational.   I have to remind myself all the time that losing my temper is not going to help the situation.  As stubborn and strong-willed as she is, she can usually see reason.  We’ve explained to her that our main concern is her health.  She’s very skinny, and a little underweight.  My husband and I both remind her that if she doesn’t eat well, then she’s not going to have energy to run around and play.  She absolutely has to have some variety to her meals as well.  This means that she doesn’t get macaroni and cheese every night for dinner.
  2. “Just try a bite” is my new mantra.  She doesn’t have to eat it all, or like it.  We even let her spit it out if she really hates it.  Sometimes we get her to take a lick.  It’s a huge win to get her to try anything new, and I’ve learned that easing her into it has helped.  It also helps that we are giving her foods we think she will actually like!
  3. Bribery.  Whether you like to admit it or not, bribery works really well!  My mom once told me “it’s not a bribe, it’s a reward!”  Usually I hold dessert hostage for a set number of bites of dinner, and she has to try something new.  I’ve even given M&Ms or gummy bears out – one per bite of dinner that night.  Do I worry about using food as a motivator?  Not really.  While my husband and I aren’t skinny, we’re also not obese, and if anything I’m worried about her being underweight!  My biggest bribe so far is having a sleepover with her friends.  I’ve told her that she needs to be willing to eat whatever they serve for dinner.  We’re not there yet!
  4. Have a menu.  My daughter loves structure, and hates when we change her plans.  We use this to our advantage by giving her a heads up for the days she will be eating something she might not want to eat.  It gives her time to prepare herself and accept our dinner plans.  But she also knows the days she will get foods she likes, like pizza or macaroni and cheese.  She gets at least 3-4 nights reprieve each week.  I just found out that has a kid friendly meal plan.  We’ve been letting her pick 3 meals to try for the week.  She hasn’t complained about any of the meals yet!
  5. Limit snacks.  My kids do not get snacks before meals – unless it’s fruit or veggies.  Both my kids eat very little as it is, so snacking fills them up enough to not be hungry for dinner.  They’re both allowed snacks after a meal, although it’s really rare for them to want one.
  6. Let them help with prep.  My daughter is more likely to try something when she sees everything that goes into it, and she takes pride in her cooking abilities too!
  7. Parmesan cheese is a staple in our house.  Some kids like ranch dressing or ketchup, but my kids like to put parmesan cheese on everything.  At this point, I will completely coat her chicken with parmesan cheese if it means she will eat it!  Like I said before, she’s very skinny and if anything I’m trying to add calories into her diet every chance I get.
  8. “Hide” the good stuff.  For my daughter, a lot of her food issues are textural.  We recently pureed red bell peppers, squash and zucchini and added it all to our pasta sauce.  She ate it all knowing the veggies were in there!  I also do this with muffins and other goodies.  As long as the texture stays the same, and the flavor is pleasant to her, she will still eat it.  Huge win!
  9. Make it a game.  We ask her what she thinks it’s going to taste like.  I’ll start by saying that I think it’ll taste like rainbows, and then my husband will say stinky shoes!  The kids can come up will all kinds of of-the-wall flavors, and we’re all laughing.
  10. Make it a competition.  Sibling rivalry is very present in my house.  We do our best to show they are equally loved and special, but this is an opportunity for us to get them to eat!  “Who can finish their lasagna faster?”  “Who can eat more bites of hamburger?”  This usually works better on my son than my daughter though.

Do you have a picky eater at home?  What works for you?

❤ Laura

Lovely Painted Ceiling Medallion

One of my favorite pieces of my dining room makeover is the new ceiling medallion.  I just love how it draws the eye up.

Lovely Neighbors - Painted ceiling medallion

  1. I started with a white, 27″ plastic medallion that I found at Lowes.
  2. I painted the medallion the same blue as the dining room (Valspar Silver Dusk), but really any base paint coat will work.
  3. I painted the entire medallion with a thick coat of metallic glaze mixed with antiquing glaze (mixed half and half).  A small brush works best to get into all the little details.  I was too impatient, and the paint hadn’t dried completely, so it mixed with the glaze.  It wasn’t ideal, but I made it work🙂
  4. I dry-brushed metallic glaze onto the top very lightly.  It really gives the medallion an aged look.

Lovely Neighbors - Painted ceiling medallion




And here it is again in my newly redecorated dining room-

Lovely Neighbors - Dining room ceiling medallion


Now that my dining room is finished, I’m dreaming up new projects.  So far, this might be my favorite room in my house!

❤ Laura

Pretty in spray paint

Laura’s recent dining room makeover (see here for the details) has inspired a pretty good list of home updates for my house; which my husband may or may not be thrilled about!  :) To get the ball rolling I decided to start with a quick project.  My husband and I have never had matching bedside lamps…I am not sure why because it always bothered me.  I just never did anything about it because our bedroom furniture is very large so I wanted larger sized lamps to keep everything balanced and  unfortunately large lamps are expensive!  Luckily, my grandmother has done plenty of redecorating in her homes and has a whole garage full of great stuff.  Last Christmas she asked if I wanted to go through the her old seasonal decorations and I jumped at the chance.  During my “shopping trip” I found these beauties (I wish I had remembered to take a true before picture… they were a nice mauve color with a gold base!)  The lamps have sat in the garage for months, until today! 


We were out of primer and tried to use a flat white spray paint instead but it was just too patchy.  So, off to the  hardware store we went and picked up a new primer and a gloss white finish.  We can never go to the hardware store without “looking” and luckily while we were there we found 2 matching lamp shades that we both liked…score!  I covered the cord to prevent overspray and we took off the metal arch where you attach the shade.  They were gold and wouldn’t work with the room so I sprayed them and the little on/off knobs the a metallic silver (left over from a previous picture frame project).


Once the primer was done and dried my husband sprayed two coats with the white gloss paint.


He has become quite the spray paint artist over the years but generally requires one of these during the several hours he spends in/out of the garage for me!🙂


Everything was done in about 3 hours and we brought them inside to put it all together.  They paint was still a bit tacky to the touch but they should fully set within the next day or so.    Total cost? Just shy of $45-50 (the lamp shades were $19.99/each and the paint was about $3/can).  Now we have gorgeous new lamps in our room that finally match!



What do you think?

❤ Melissa