Cupcakes with a Cherry on Top

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Last week I was buried in flour, sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, fondant, buttercream… and all the good stuff that a cake and cupcakes are made of and the decorations that make those cakes and cupcakes pretty. Well, not literally buried but I sure felt like it! I had three orders. Today I’m sharing with you just one of them… but don’t worry I’ll be sharing the others in future posts.

Before I do share the first order from last week, I thought to share some history that leads up to this order. Also, at the same time, you get to learn a little bit about my cake decorating background and my inspirations.

Back in March of 2010, I had made a cake and cupcake tower for a Barney themed birthday part. This was my first official order. When I say official, I mean it wasn’t for a friend or family member… it was for someone I’ve never met. I have to admit I was quite excited… who wouldn’t be, right? I was so excited that I made my first set of business cards to leave at the party. As I share this story, I recall all the excitement and how nervous I was. :P

Wow, my photography skills were really horrible! I have improved, haven’t I? I hope you guys do think so too:P

I had soooo much fun making Barney and his friends…. I still giggle whenever I see a picture of this cake. I was so pleased with the way the characters turned out. :D The design for this cake was inspired by my favorite cake designer, Vanessa Iti of Bella Cupcakes. You must check out her over the top beautiful work… and her amazing photography! Her work is absolutely breath taking and so full of inspiration!! Back in 2009 she did this adorable Winnie the Pooh cake. This cake was the inspiration for my Barney cake, but of course mine looks totally amateur next to her’s…haha! However, I have to admit I was proud of my buttercream covered cake… yup the pink is buttercream! At that time I had newly learned a technique that makes your buttercream look as smooth as fondant! I have Sharon Zambito of the SugarEd Productions to thank for that! Since then that has been my preferred method… especially since most people don’t care for fondant. Most of the cakes I have made are covered in buttercream with fondant or gum paste decorations.

One of the guests at the Barney party loved the cake and cupcakes, and it turns out she had taken one of my business cards. Score! Almost exactly a year later, March 2011, I get a phone call from that guest’s friend. Her friend tells me that she was referred to me. She placed a cupcake tower order for her daughter’s first birthday. The theme was cupcakes with purple and pink as the color scheme.

I adored these cupcakes. It turns out so did that guest (Barney party guest). She had told her friend that if she has a girl, she will be doing the same first birthday theme and the same exact cupcakes. Sure enough, she had a baby girl! And here I am making (actually have made) the same cupcakes 16 months later…

However, for the this order, the cupcake tower consisted of a jumbo cupcake as the topper.

Just as adorable as the first time! Don’t you think?

The next order… Star Wars Lego theme. Be sure to come back and check it out!

Ramadan Mantel

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In the previous post I shared with you my Ramadan countdown calendar which consists of 29 lanterns. If you would like to see how I made the lanterns, just click here. The countdown calendar is the main element of my Ramadan mantel, and since there are 29 lanterns I didn’t want to add too many other elements.

I had originally planned to hang the jars across the mantel, but, as you can see, that may not be a practical idea. Can’t you just foresee chaos if I did hang them? Instead I decided to display them on each side of the mantel with the back row elevated. A better and safer idea, don’t you think?

I used bricks to create the elevation. At first I thought of using styrofoam bricks, but since the lanterns are glass I wanted something with weight so I wouldn’t worry about any accidental tip overs. Besides, it ended up being cheaper using bricks rather styrofoam. The bricks were $.89 each. Other than weight and price, I love the natural element they add to the mantel!

As the centerpiece, I created a simple “Ramadan” art. Hmm, maybe “art” isn’t the word to describe it since there isn’t much to it. All I did was cover a 1/2″ thick foam core with brown damask print fabric (I used thumb tacks to secure the fabric in the back). Then with my lovable Silhouette, I cut out the word Ramadan. I used burgundy red cardstock and fleur-de-lis scrapbook paper. I used sticky dots to adhere the letters so they can be easily removable. Simple, but I think it makes a nice statement.

The yellow hobnob vase was a thrift shop find a few months ago. I LOVED this vase but I really didn’t have a spot for it anywhere. It’s just been randomly sitting on my bar counter looking out of place just waiting to be of some use. It finally is…. and it finally can hold it’s long neck up high because it’s just perfect in it’s new home. :P

A Ramadan mantel cannot be complete without some dates. One of the traditions of Ramadan is to break your fast with dates. I LOVE dates! After a day of fasting, nothing is sweeter than the taste of dates to break your fast! Just give me dates (mejdool dates to be specific!) for my meal and I’d be more than satisfied. Oh, and a glass of cold water to go along with it… then I’d be fully satisfied. :)

Now I just can’t wait to start lighting up those lanterns. Can you imagine how pretty they will look all lit up on the last day of Ramadan?

Hope you guys like my Ramadan mantel. Let me know what you think.

I’m off to eat some mejdool dates!  ;)

Ramadan Countdown to Eid

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The Muslim month Ramadan is almost here! It starts next week! Yikes, I better hurry up and start getting things ready. First on the agenda is a countdown calendar.

For those that may not be very familiar with Ramadan, here’s a little bit of information about this special month. Ramadan is the ninth month on the lunar Islamic calender. It’s a time of spiritual reflection, and a time of purifying your heart. A time when extra charity and actions of generosity are encouraged. Ramadan is known to be the month of fasting for Muslims from dawn to sunset. Yes, fasting involves no food or liquids for that time period of the day, but it also means making a conscious effort to refrain from idle talk, backbiting, fighting, etc. Fasting from food and liquids teaches empathy for those that are less fortunate.  A lunar month can be 28 or 29 days. Each month begins with the birth of the new moon. The Islamic tradition is that the moon must be sighted, so that’s why we don’t know when the actual month begins and ends until the night before. Is there a 29th day in the month or is it the first day of the new month? Can you imagine the anticipation on that 28th night! On that first day of the new month is the start of the celebrations… Eid! This year’s Ramadan is estimated to begin on July 20th. Since the lunar calendar does not run with the solar calendar, it appears as if Muslim holidays are traveling holidays. Since the world  does run on the solar calendar, Muslim holidays are at different times of the year.

As you can see, little time is left, so I need to get a move on!

This is the first countdown calendar I make for Ramadan. After much and much brainstorming and much and much inspiration, I came up with the idea of using lanterns and allowing them to hang from my mantel. At first, I thought to look for mini lanterns, but boy would that be one expensive countdown calendar if I took the route of purchasing mini lanterns. After more brainstorming, I recalled a link to a tutorial that my friend Sahar had sent me a year or two ago. The tutorial was for making your own Moroccan lanterns using jars. That was it! I would make my own lanterns using baby food jars! I called on to Sahar to come join me in making my 29 jars, and without hesitation she did!

This is what you will need: 4 oz baby food jars, dimensional paint, translucent glass paint (like Pebeo Vitrea 160), spray paint, and vinyl.

First thing you will need to do is paint the inside of your jars. Some of the jars we used a paint brush and others we did the drip method. Brush strokes were more visible with some colors, so we did the drip method for those colors. The drip method is just pouring paint into the jar, swirling it until the jar is coated with the paint, and then allowing the access paint to drip out of the jar as it lays upside down.

You can bake your jars before decorating them if you would like, but we didn’t due to time. You have to allow your painted jars to sit for 24 hours before baking. If you do decide to bake them, just follow the instructions on the glass paint bottle.

Next is decorating your jars with the dimensional paint.

Since glass is non-porous, it will take a long time for the dimensional paint to dry. I gave my jars until the next day before touching them. Be careful when moving them around in the meantime.

Last thing to do are the caps. I spray painted them with gold paint, and after they dried, I applied vinyl numbers. I made my numbers with my Silhouette. For those that don’t have a Silhouette or Cricut, you can always hand cut your numbers (which may be difficult due to size), use punchers (easier), or even buy pre-made numbers (easiest!) from a craft store (ex. stickers).

Now, just place tea candles in each jar and display them anywhere you would like. Each day of Ramadan (after sunset), remove the cap and light your candle. Use the cap as a pedestal for your lantern. With each day, light the previous days’ candles along with the current day. On the last day of Ramadan, watch as all of your beautiful lanterns are lit up indicating that the next day is going to be a wonderful celebration!

Due to the number of jars, I chose not to hang my lanterns along my mantel as I originally planned. Next week, I’ll show you how I displayed them along with my Ramadan mantel.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial. For those that don’t celebrate Ramadan, these lanterns would be cute to make for any occasion as well as make nice gifts.

Have a wonderful weekend ya’ll!

The Reveal.. Finally!

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I am so excited, and at the same time relieved, that Suraya’s space is finally done! I’m not the only one… so is Suraya! Ready to see the final outcome? Just in case you forgot what it looked like before, you can see it HERE.

Here is Suraya’s cleaned up, organized, and more breathable space…

Her desk is no longer crowded… she actually has space to work on it! Don’t mind the calendar, journal, and drawing pad that you see laid out… those are just laid out for effect (hehe).

Also check out underneath the desk… it’s empty! Now Suraya can swing her legs freely while she works, as well as push her chair in. :) See behind the chair… more open space. She no longer has to struggle to get in and out of her chair!

I found that pink chalkboard basket at TJ Maxx. I labeled it as “Stuff”. It’s for those random things that Suraya may just have the urge to toss on her desk or things that just don’t belong anywhere else. Ya know, just stuff!

One of Suraya’s favorite hobbies is drawing. She loves to draw, so I made her a customized drawing pad.

To make one, all you need is a drawing pad, scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge. That’s as simple as it gets!

Suraya also enjoys journaling. I found this journal at Target. The cover reads “She’s a dreamer, a doer, a thinker. She sees possibility everywhere.” Doesn’t it just scream inspiration? I felt a chill of excitement when I found it…I thought it was just perfect for Suraya and her new space! Also, doesn’t it go along nicely with the pillow I made her? :)

Last thing I want to share with you is this basket that holds Suraya’s shell collection. This basket used to be red with a sad looking thin red ribbon. Back in February, the girls and I had gone thrift shopping. Suraya found this basket for $.25. For some reason she was drawn to it. Well this basket ended up being handy. Suraya loves her shell collection, and this basket was just perfect to help display them. I spray painted it pink and added a ribbon of fabric scrap and a fabric rosette. Good as new! Suraya’s beloved shells held by her beloved basket;)

So there you have it… Suraya’s side of the room is finally complete! Boy, that play kitchen really helped clean up and organize her space. I love it!

Not only does Suraya love her new space, but it also has motivated her to organize her closet. And she is using her message board. First message that went up is a reminder note to herself. It reads “Get casal”. It took me a while to figure out “casal”… but eventually I figured out that it’s supposed to say “castle”. Hahaha. I’m not sure what she means by “get casal”, but it is her message after all! Hmm, maybe I’ll just have to ask her about it later. :D

As for Susu’s side, she still wants to do her own thing. However, you never know… I just may have a hand in it. ;)

Thrift Shop Chair Makeover

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I hope everyone had a great weekend. Since we had a holiday break last week, it didn’t feel like much of a weekend for me. I had to stop and think what day of the week it was to realize it was actually the weekend. Did anyone else get thrown off? Well, we have a fresh new start. That’s what’s nice about Monday’s. Don’t you agree?

Now, let’s get to business. Yup, as the title suggests, it involves a chair. Actually two, but only one got a makeover for now.

I found these two chairs in excellent condition at Goodwill.

The best part was the price. Yup, I sure did pay only $1.99 for each chair! Can you believe it?! I surely couldn’t! I thought maybe they were priced wrong. I quickly rushed to the register. As I waited in line I was waiting for someone to stop me. But no one did. Then when it was my turn, I expected the cashier to tell me the chairs were incorrectly priced. But she didn’t. I gave her my $4 and rushed out for fear of someone figuring out they had the wrong price. No one chased after me. As I walked to my car, I felt like I just robbed Goodwill. But I didn’t! The chairs were really $1.99! That whole day, I was on a thrift bargain high! It was such a rush…hehe. Not only were they in excellent condition and an out of this world price, but they were exactly what I was looking for and found them on my first stop. In and out in just minutes!

From the last few posts, you probably have guessed what the chairs are for (or actually at least one chair). If you guessed for Suraya… you got it right! The second chair is intended for Susu if she chooses to take it. If not, I’m sure I can figure something out for it. I have nothing to lose except $2, right?

Now let’s get on to the makeover!

I painted the chair aqua and embellished it with a little birdie. The idea of the bird was inspired by the ever so talented Karen from Folkhaven. She had hand painted a nest of eggs on an old wooden chair. Free hand! I instantaneously fell in love with Karen’s chair and the idea of painting an image on it. I had planned to borrow Karen’s idea for my kitchen chairs. That plan is still on my to do list, but I decided it would be cute to do the same with Suraya’s new chair. However, I’m not a talented artist like Karen, so I was going to cheat by making my own stencil to use. Hey, we all can’t be artists but we can be inspired to pretend to be one:P

Upon taking out my Silhouette and vinyl in order to make a stencil, I came across an already made vinyl bird that I made a couple months ago that went unused. And it was purple! Perfect! I had thrown away the void, which is what is needed for the stencil, but kept the bird. So I just decided to use the vinyl bird. It couldn’t have been more perfect!

[Karen, just in case you were wondering, Suraya has no problem sitting on the little birdie. ;) ]

To add some comfort to Suraya’s new chair, I also made a pillow for it with the word “aspire”.

I cut out the letters using the Silhouette. I ended up using my Silhouette after all!

After I ironed on the letters, I outlined the letters with embroidery thread.

I hope this pillow will always remind Suraya to aspire to achieve what her heart desires and what she sets her mind to. :)

I was very pleased with the outcome of this project, but most importantly so was Suraya! What do you all think of Suraya’s new chair and pillow? Love to hear what you have to say!

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you all join me for the final reveal of Suraya’s space. Have a wonderful week!

DIY Message Board

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Next on the agenda for Suraya’s space makeover: Message board!

Suraya likes to leave little reminder notes for herself, as well as To Do lists. Yes, she actually makes To Do lists. Of course, other than reminder notes and To Do lists, a message board would come in handy hanging up the poems Suraya writes or the pictures she draws.

I had randomly come up with the how to of making this message board on a trip to Hobby Lobby. I was looking for an already made pretty cork board, but all I found was your typical cork board. Then I contemplated making my own message board. As I roamed around Hobby Lobby a few ideas of how to go about it did come to me, but then I remembered foam core. It would be the cheapest route! All I needed was a frame and a foam core board. I already had the perfect fabric at home!

Want to see how I made the message board? It’s quite simple. Join me in making your own if you would like!

The supplies needed to make the message board: a frame, 3/16″ thick foam core board, fabric, staples, and hot glue gun. I found the frame at Hobby Lobby for 50% off, and it was already purple! So for some of you, you may want to add paint to your supply list.

First thing is to cut the foam core to the size of the frame. Be careful when cutting not to rip your board like I did. It is quite annoying to cut foam core. I usually use an exacto knife to cut it with a designated cutting board underneath, but because this was the thin foam core I thought it wouldn’t be a problem to use scissors. It’s fine to use scissors, just don’t try to zoom through it.

Next cover your foam core with your fabric. When cutting your fabric, make sure to leave a couple of inches of extra fabric going all the way around. Staple your fabric going around the board. Be careful not to place the staples too low; you don’t want them placed lower than the frame’s inner edge.

The last step is too place dots of hot glue going around the frame’s inner edge, and place your fabric covered board into the frame.

Voilà! Message board is all done! I hope you enjoyed my tutorial.

Next on the agenda for Suraya’s space: Desk chair. Be sure to stop by to check it out!

Have a wonderful weekend ya’ll! :D

Art Supply Center

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If you recall, I’ve been working on organizing Suraya’s side of the room and making it look prettier. I’ve made her a framed monogram, pillows for her bed, and a magnet board for her magnet collection. Next up was organizing her desk and space.

Suraya loves arts and crafts. Her arts and crafts supplies were in desperate need to get organized as was her desk. It completely slipped my mind to take a before picture of her desk area. The above picture I had taken when I was taking pictures of the magnet board, so I think it can do the job as the before picture;) As you can see in the picture, other than things just being thrown on top of her desk, she also had a lot going on under her desk leaving her no space for her legs. Also, what you can’t see in the picture is Susu’s desk right behind Suraya’s big bulky black chair (courtesy of her daddy) which makes a small appearance in the above picture. There is barely any space for Suraya to get in and out of her desk. See where it says “small space”… that’s all the space Suraya had to move her chair back and forth or to get in and out of her desk! I had to move Susu’s desk back to even pull that chair out! Basically, Suraya also needed some breathing space in that tiny area. Throughout the next few posts, I’ll be sharing with you the changes that I have made to Suraya’s space: organized, breathable, and of course prettier!

The first thing I decided to work on is organizing her arts and crafts supplies. I had come up with some ideas of how to organize her supplies. One of the ideas was to get crates or baskets and organize them on her desk, but since she has a small desk, I felt a bunch of crates or baskets wouldn’t leave her with much space to work on her desk. Then finally an idea struck! See in the picture above the light green box to the right of her desk? Recognize that box? Well, if not, it’s the play kitchen! As I mentioned in the play kitchen post, that kitchen has been patiently waiting for two years for someone to put it together and put it to some use. Suraya is 8… an age where she may still be interested in playing with the kitchen, but at the same time I could see her getting sick it of it quickly. So why not make some other use for it? Yup, you guessed it! I thought it would be fun to turn the kitchen into an arts and crafts supply center!

As you can see from the things that I have made for Suraya’s part of the room, the colors I went with for her are purple, aqua, and pink. So it couldn’t be more perfect that the kitchen was pink!

Glues, all sorts of tapes, scissors, and pencil sharpener went into the microwave. Writing utensils (pens & pencils), colored pencils, and miscellaneous went on the shelves behind the curtain. Construction paper, all things foam, glitter, and paint supplies went into the oven. Markers and crayons behind the stove.

Her favorite books and current read went on the top shelf with the book ends that I had made her back in February. The book ends were a thrift shop find for $1.00. Before we left the store, Suraya dropped one of the book ends and it broke. But it was an easy fix with some Gorilla glue! Originally the book ends were white and had images of Peter Rabbit which was cute… but Suraya wasn’t too fond of the images so I did a makeover over for her. A makeover that I never took pictures of until now! It’s just coincidence that I used aqua and pink for the bookends! Phew!

Also included for display were some of the things that Suraya made… clay pottery car and small bowl, painted wooden flower in vase, and the coasters she made at my craft party.

As for the sink, I left it for Suraya to use it however she wants. Every night before bedtime, Suraya likes to place a cup of water on her desk because sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night thirsty. I told her she can place her cup of water in the sink…hehe. Hey, it’s a sink after all, and it’s right next to her bed… easy reach!

There you have it… Suraya’s kitchen art supply center! What do you think?

As you can see in the second picture, I did move the desk. The desk is still there, it’s just facing the other side of the wall instead. That move not only made space for the kitchen, but also breathable space. Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing a picture of the entire space. Just be sure to come back!

Triple Berry Buttermilk Cupcakes

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Does the title of the post make you go mmmm? Well it did for me! Actually the original recipe read raspberry buttermilk cake.. so that made me go mmmm. And let me tell you, this cake sure is mm mm yum! That’s why I’m sharing it with you. I came across this recipe over at Smitten Kitchen. I’m sure a lot of you are already familiar with that amazing site. For those that are not, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with it asap! The raspberry buttermilk cake is definitely one of my favorite cakes to make. It’s quick, easy and a great go to for dinner parties. Every time I have taken this cake to a dinner party it’s been a huge hit! I’ve made this cake out of raspberries, strawberries, combination of strawberries and blueberries… and now I share with you a combination of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in cupcake form. This is the first time I make them in cupcake form. In the spirit of July 4th, I wanted to use my red and white cupcake liners that I specifically purchased for such an occasion. As for the blue, that’s what the blueberries are there for!

I promise you, if you like berries you will surely love this recipe. Even if you don’t like berries, go ahead and give it a try. You never know, you just may change your mind.

As cupcakes, I baked them for 15 minutes, but since ovens can vary be sure to do the toothpick test. Before I started making the batter I had estimated one batch would make about 12 cupcakes. I got 11 cupcakes out of it, but I think I could have gotten 12 if I put a bit less batter in each cupcake liner.

I made this batch for a BBQ this past Saturday with the in-laws, and they were a hit. I do plan on making another batch on July 4th for a BBQ with my family… and I’m sure it’ll be a hit with them too! Like I said, it’s mm mm yum!!

Sharing this yummy recipe at the parties found HERE.

4th of July Cake Pops

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I can’t believe how fast June has flown by! I didn’t realize June was almost over until yesterday as I was thinking about 4th of July… it’s next week!! Yikes! So before it’s too late, I wanted to share with you some treats that I have planned for that day. Treats that can be enjoyed while watching the fireworks show. Cake pops dressed up in red, white and blue!

I’m not a big fan of the colored chocolate disks found at craft stores, so I always use almond bark in white chocolate or milk chocolate. In order to not sacrifice flavor, my new favorite way of bringing in color schemes is with paper straws. I love striped paper straws!

Other than stripes, of course the cake pops needed some stars! I used jumbo star sprinkles which I already had on hand. I didn’t have enough red and blue stars, so I finished off the rest of the cake pops with red and blue sanding sugar.

Cute, simple, and yummy!

What do you have planned for 4th of July?

Sharing my 4th of July cake pops over HERE.


Play Kitchen [Part 2]

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In my previous post I introduced you to a play kitchen that needed to be built. I purchased that play kitchen from Target two years ago for Suraya. For these past two years, Suraya and the kitchen waited patiently for someone to put it together. That someone was Suraya’s daddy. Yup, that sure is a lot of patience for a kid. See, I didn’t think of doing it myself for a couple of reasons: 1. The hubby said he was going to do it (as if I didn’t hear that one before!) and 2. I really don’t like putting together things of this nature mainly because [from what I have experienced] a lot of times they are poorly manufactured and the pieces just don’t want to come together as easily as they should. And we all know what that ends up in… objects flying, words flying, and a whole lot of frustration!

About six/seven months ago, to our surprise, the kitchen finally came out of the box.. or at least it appeared to be coming out of the box. Really, was the hubby going to finally put this kitchen together? You can only imagine the excitement that Suraya must have felt… as well as I. First came out the oven and microwave doors and their handles. Yes, the handles were actually screwed on. Next came the microwave turning knob. Sure enough, that came on too! Woohoo! Then it was the side shelf. We were on to a great start! Wouldn’t you think? Well, that great start was surely the end! Back into the box everything sadly went.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I finally decided that I was going to take on the task! Yeah, I know took me long enough to make that decision:P Even though I decided this a few weeks, the actual mission didn’t take place until this past weekend. Is the mission complete? Lets find out, shall we:D

I attached all the little parts to their bigger parts. It seems the Mr. forgot to attach the towel bar onto the side shelf. No worries, I got that covered. No problems attaching any of the parts here. So far so good. Let’s keep going…

Top half of the kitchen done. No problems here either. Yay!

Bottom half complete! Again, no problems here either. Woohoo!

No flying objects or words! Now on to attaching the top and bottom halves to each other.

Everything was going well until it came to placing the last two screws. There were no flying objects, but I admit there were some words:P See where the arrow is pointing in the picture? Well, even though it doesn’t appear so much so in the picture, that’s a very tiny and narrow spot. I was expected to screw in tiny screws into that tiny and narrow area. I couldn’t get my fingers up there to hold on to the screws… and I do have small hands and slim fingers! I tried using the screw driver to push the screws up but they just kept falling. Really people?! My sister had purchased the same kitchen for her daughter and she told me her husband had a heck of a time putting the kitchen together. Now I see why. Even though it was going well for me up to this point, there were some parts where I couldn’t imagine how men (who have bigger hands) managed to make it through. Anyway, after several tries, I just gave up and opted to not put the screws in (ssh). The top half of the kitchen seemed very sturdy without the last two tiny screws.

Mission complete (just pretend the last two screws never existed..hehe). After two years, the kitchen is finally up!! Yay!!

Now that this play kitchen has finally come to life, want to know what I plan on doing with it? Now, you didn’t think I was just going to use it as a play kitchen only, did you? Stay tuned to find out! Don’t worry, it’s still for Suraya:)