Tag Archives: Melissa and Doug

Thrift Store Gems

My main goal at the thrift store this week was to find a stuffed animal with black fur to cut up and use on Jax’s Halloween costume. Best I found was black crushed velvet, which is just not furry enough. However, I did find a lime green tee shirt perfect for wearing under his costume coat!

Jax had a full-blown toddler tantrum as we checked out because I wouldn’t let him put toy cars into a box for a karaoke machine toy. Sorry, little dude. We paid and went outside to take some deep breaths in the fresh air. It’s just *so* hard to be a toddler!

Here’s what we got for $7.50:

The green tee shirt I mentioned will save me money I was going to spend at the mall on something for under his costume. If I have time (hah!), I could decorate it. A rock ‘n roll motorcycle raglan tee. It has two small, faint green stains but I decided I didn’t mind. Kids get messy. A plaid button-down with drums and flames screen print. They had some Baby Gap jeans there, but they we skinny jeans. I held them up to Jax and just couldn’t go there!

This coat by Little Rebels was only $2.50 because it was on the Halloween costume rack. I think it’s super cute. Probably too big at this point, but we can try it on later with the baby stops wearing his crankypants.


I didn’t have long in the book section before Jax went all nuclear meltdown on me, but I found two good ones. What’s in Space? has tabs you can pull up. And a Melissa & Doug wooden book with wheels called Push and Go Cars and Trucks. Seems like that one isn’t available anymore.

I also bought two tiny metal cars to use in Jax’s quiet book on a future car/city/road page. They had two big bins of all sorts of Matchbox-style cars, but I just loved these smaller, vintage-looking ones. It’s nice that they have no windows so I can tie them to the book with a string. They are so much more timeless then the cars with all the branding and cheesy decals (though I probably wouldn’t turn down flames on the side of my car, hah!)

Find any thrift store gems lately? Please share!

Making (Wooden) Fruit Salad

So Jax adores his play kitchen… He asks to go “cook” by saying “Num! Num! Num!” – which is also the sound he makes when he “taste-tests” his culinary creations. I only want to fill his kitchen with sturdy, wooden food (I’m not a fan of plastic and felt would just be covered in dog hair) that will last. Two great brands for wooden food are Melissa & Doug and Plan Toys (The breakfast set is so cute!) Both are a little pricy (Plan more so than M & D). The craft stores around here carry a limited (but changing) selection of Melissa & Doug and when combined with a 50% off coupon, I can get a crazy deal!


Our second set of wooden food is the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Cutting Fruit Crate. This set helps with manual dexterity as you are able to chop up the fruit with a play knife. It is pre-cut and held together with Velcro. Jax will learn to match the fruit pieces together and recognize the insides and outsides of fruits. Later, it will help introduce the basic concept of fractions.

It was love at first sight with this set for Jax. It comes in a large, shallow crate which he brought over to his table, sat in his chair and started examining all the fruit. I showed him how to “chop”, which he loved. The velcro makes a nice “Crunch!” sound when you cut through it. More often than not he tried to cut with the handle of the knife, so he’ll have to practice that a bit.

The melon and banana are in multiple pieces that don’t stick together quite as well (because there are more parts), but Jax likes those because they are easy to pull apart with his hands.

He has already made me several fruit salads, so I think this set is a hit!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review and purchased the item myself. I just wanted to share what we thought of it!

Thrift Store Play Kitchen Makeover

After a weekend of working hard, Jax has his shiny, new custom “retro” play kitchen! I was so lucky to find a wooden kitchen with great “bones” at our local thrift store. It had a lot of water damage, a broken shelf and faucet and a missing door, but the clean, simple lines were perfect. (To see more before pictures, view this post.)

I started the makeover by deciding what I wanted the kitchen to look like. I had already used apple red spray paint when I created Jax’s chalkboard, so I chose that for the main body. His table and chairs are aqua and lime (as well and the shelves I recently put in), so those became the accent colors. I had some leftover glitter paint from a Christmas ornament project, and I knew that would be perfect for hiding any water damage I couldn’t sand out. Here is my color plan.

I started by scrubbing out the dirt and mulch in the cabinets then cleaning, sanding and priming the whole thing. I took the back two pieces off, as well as two knobs, but many screws were stripped on the rest of it. I ended up breaking off the knob discs to paint them separately from the dowels they were attached on. They were glued on crooked anyway, so I was able to fix that too.

I used a wooden J to replace the faucet

I used 2.5 cans of apple red glossy spray paint (and I ended up needing to get a mini can for a little more coverage where the clock had been.) For all the silver parts I used a mini can of silver spray paint, then a coat of silver craft paint and glossy varnish. The knobs got several coats of craft paint and glossy varnish.

I needed to replace the broken faucet, so I bought a large wooden J and attached it with a wood screw and E-6000 glue. Looks perfect! For the backsplash, I bought smaller letters to spell out his name. Those were attached with the E-6000 glue. My husband glued a small chalkboard I’d painted to the side with Gorilla glue.

The shelf was detached when I bought it, and it wasn’t hard to see why… It just had 3 tiny screw holes. A super nice Home Depot employee helped me pick out the right size screws, as well as which L brackets would work best to fortify the shelf. I chose to leave the brackets unpainted to match the rest of the silver.

The counter top got two coats of aqua craft paint, then 10,000 (or so) coats of my favorite glitter paint (which is more of a glue with lots of glitter). The burners were painted black, then got a very thick coat of black glittery paint (and a clear coat.)

I adore it! It looks perfect in the room, and Jax loves it already. I started him off with Melissa & Doug Wooden Pantry Products and the KidKraft Metal Accessories Set which comes with 3 pots/pans, a lid, 2 utensils and some wooden food. I’m really happy with both purchases. I wish the pantry products had labels on both sides, but they are nice, sturdy wood toys. The pots are holding up great so far, and Jax is enjoying the bonus food items: a chicken leg, fried egg, two carrots and two broccoli florets.

This was such a fun project! I’m already looking ahead to the next playroom DIY… a reading nook!


Thrift Store Gems

We hit the motherload at the kids’ thrift store today!

Jax has been having trouble sleeping due to teething, so we were up and ready for our day a little late. The local kid’s thrift store opens at 10 am, so we had breakfast to waste a little time before heading over. I was hoping for some board books and was keeping my eyes out for a wooden kitchen to refurbish. I didn’t expect to find one (they always had small, ugly plastic ones) so I planned to drive over to the adult thrift store after to check for small hutches I could convert.

But, what did I see when I walked in the door? A 100% wooden (be it mostly MDF) kitchen for $12.25! It is missing the large door (the shopkeeper offered to hold it for me if it turns up), but I think I’ll leave it open and put wire baskets on the shelves. The backsplash shelf is broken off but intact. The faucet needs to be reattached and some of the knobs are glued together a little wonky. All-in-all it just needs a good scrub (there is dirt and mulch inside it), a sanding, several coats of paint and some nails and screws.

I’ll have to get some number decals for the clock as it will get painted over. I’m thinking bright red for the whole thing, with all the door and accents in silver. Maybe a magnetic primer under the “fridge” door for magnets. Should I do something special to the backsplash? It will have its shelf halfway down. I love that the sink is wood so I can paint that too! If any of you hardware-inclined friends have suggestions on reattaching the shelf and faucet, let me know – L brackets under the shelf? This is going to be a fun, quick project now that I only have to paint!


We got lucky in other ways at the store too. I found 4 great board books for Jax. He is BIG into being read to now, and I have to read him at least a dozen books every night (or the same one 10 times!) The thrift store is great for books because they sell them for 10% of the cover price – meaning they were all 59 – 79 cents each! We found: Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? A Lift-the-Flap Book, Peek-A Who? (which has a mirror in the back), Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.

I also got a Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker for $1.75. He has stackers, but those are his favorite toys and I like that this one is more advanced with smaller holes. He has to concentrate to put it together. We found Stride Right boots 1.5 sizes up from where Jax is now for $2.50. They are in perfect condition.

Do you thrift shop? I used to in college and only recently started up again. Reusing is great for the environment AND your wallet!

Best Toddler Sprinklers

Photo by Olena

What’s better on a hot summer day than playing in the sprinkler? I recently started taking 17-month-old Jax to the pool where they have a splash pad at the shallow end. He loves it! So I knew I should try to find the best toddler-safe sprinkler for him to play in.

After reading what felt like a million disappointed reviews for all kinds of play sprinklers, I settled on Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Grub Scouts Sprinkler. The little worms are described as “an entire troop of Grub Scouts who have popped up to work on their Entertainment Merit Badge.” The girly-girl in me was all about the pink flowers on the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Sprinkler, but I decided grubs were more gender-neutral.

The sprinkler is small and colorful with squishy rubber grubs that can’t hurt little feet if stepped on. Attaching it to the hose was easy as the attachment ring spun around on it’s own (instead of having to spin the whole sprinkler.) Jax was drawn to the bright colors before we even got the water going!

The height of the spray will depend on our water pressure and the length/diameter of your hose. We have a very long 100′ 5/8″ hose. With the water turned up all the way, we got 2′ for spray height. I’m thinking with a shorter and wider hose, the spray will be even higher. We decided against getting another hose, as the height was perfect for our little man right now.

The real test came last weekend at my little birthday get-together. Babies ranging from 10-months to 17-months all had the best time playing in it! I think it got more action than the baby pool!

I’d definitely recommend Melissa & Doug’s sprinklers if you have a toddler who loves splashing in water!

Photo by Olena

Jax’s First Crayons

Jax just got his first set of crayons. He always loves when restaurants give him crayons, even though he mostly wants to hold as many as he can at one time in his little chubby fists. I’m starting to teach him how to color with them, so I needed to find a really great set for him.

I was happy to find out Melissa & Doug make craft supplies. I really like how that brand makes cute, wooden toys more accessible. Most quality, wooden toys are out of my price range. Melissa & Doug can be expensive, but you can find deals on Amazon and use 50% coupons at craft stores that have toy aisles.

I decided to get a set of 24 triangular crayons for Jax. They make a jumbo sized version with less colors, but he hasn’t had any trouble holding regular crayons before. I just wanted something that wouldn’t roll off the table, had no paper wrappers to deal with and wouldn’t break from getting pressed into the paper too hard.

The crayons come in a plastic case with a clear flip-closed lid. This was Jax’s favorite part! He is all about taking out/putting in right now. He had great fun making piles of crayons then putting them back in the case. He was a little rough at times and the crayons didn’t break. They feel very strong!

Oh, we *did* color with them too! They seemed to fit nicely in his grip, though he insisted on holding a couple in each hand most of the time. They felt smooth when I tried them out and the colors were bold. I drew him a cat since his current obsession is meowing at cats (and dogs, heh!) We made a pretty picture together.

And of course we hung his artwork up in his new gallery!