DIY Butcher Block Kitchen Island


When we started the kitchen renovation, I searched high and low for a kitchen island that would work in the space. Our kitchen isn’t huge, so I didn’t want something that felt too heavy or took all the attention away from the rest of the kitchen. I had a hard time finding exactly what I wanted, so instead we decided to just build the island ourselves. Lowe’s sells precut butcher block tops which was the perfect start to our island! I loved using the iron pipes for the base. They matched the style of the shelf brackets and the simple design felt complementary to the rest of the kitchen. I think it was the perfect fit! Try it out yourself!! This idea could also be used for a dinning room table or coffee table.


Precut Butcher Block 25”x48”
4 x 1”x30” Black Iron Pipe
6 x 1” Black Iron Tees
4 x 1”x8” Black Iron Pipe
4 x 1”x2” Black Iron Nipple
1 x 1’x36” Black Iron Pipe
8 x 1” Black Iron Floor Flange
2 x Rust-oleum Paint and Primer In One flat black spray paint
Valspar Flat Premium Finish Spray Paint
Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish
Sanding block



1. Gather all your pipes and pipe fittings. Clear an area so you have room to work. Work on attaching all pipe fittings and pipes together to create the base. I started with the middle 36” bar and worked out from there. Although they’re standardized, precut pipe, there is always some variation in threading. It’s a pain but if you know that going in- it helps. Make sure you gently tighten pieces at first, remembering that you’ll need to loosen and tighten some of the connections to get matching lengths later on.

2. Add tee fittings on each end of the 36” pipe. Followed by the 4, 8” black pipe pieces in each end of the tee fittings. Set aside this “I” shaped assembled piece.

3. Work on creating the 4 legs. The order will go flange, nipple, tee, 30” pipe, flange. Repeat this 4 times to get the 4 legs of the island.

4. Attach each leg to the middle “I” piece to finish the base.

5. Tighten or loose connections to make all legs the same height. It takes a bit of finessing!

6. In an outside location, spray paint the entire base with the flat black spray paint. When completely covered and dry (may take 2-3 coats) spray a top coat of the premium finish spray.

7. Place butcher block on top of pipe base. Drill screws through holes in the flanges into the butcher block to secure together.

8. With a rag, follow directions on the Watco Butcher Block oil and seal and finish the butcher block. Will take 2 coats, with a light sand in between.






Note: This makes the island 37” tall. I wanted a slightly taller island for ease of food prep but you will have to plan accordingly for stools. A counter height stool is a bit too low and a bar stool is too high. The answer is a stool with a swivel top! We wanted them anyways because of the kids, now everyone can adjust their stool height to be perfect for them. I like having mine low so I can cross my legs and I raise Finley’s way up so she can be close to the butcher block. Works out great! Our stools were from Urban Outfitters.

This post was sponsored by Frigidaire Professional and Lowe’s. All opinions and pictures are my own.

8 tips For Creating Successful Open Shelving (and a pantry)



We love our new open shelving and pantry! It’s everything we had hoped for! It totally opens up the kitchen and I love the modern look of it all. When I posted the picture of the kitchen reveal last week, I got a ton of questions about how to create open shelving, how to make it function well in your kitchen and what we did with the rest of our stuff! I decided it would be a good idea to go into the nitty gritty of it all so you can feel confident if you are thinking about making the switch in your own kitchen.


Metal shelving brackets
Drywall/wall anchors
2”x10”x8’ wood cut to shelf lengths
Minwax Weathered Oak Stain
Foam brushes
Masonry drill bits
Various glass jars/containers



1. Take all the measurements for how long you will need each shelf. When you don’t have all the tools, Lowe’s is there to help! They cut all our wood for us to the exact measurements we needed. I wanted a thicker shelf so we went with 2” thick wood.
2. Stain each of the shelves. We used a Weathered Oak stain and I love how it gives it a reclaimed wood type look without the hassle of finding reclaimed wood. It’s the perfect stain color.
3. Take measurements on your shelves where you want the brackets to go and screw in each bracket to the shelves. I decided on placing the brackets 7” in from each end of the wood.
4. For the pantry area, we used heavy-duty dry wall anchors. I didn’t like where the studs where in relation to where I wanted to place the brackets, so the anchors let me do whatever I wanted. TIP: Measure twice! Drill once. haha. Learned that lesson a few times.
5.With a level, measure out all your spacing for your shelves. For our pantry, the shelves are 16” apart and for the kitchen, they’re 12.”
6. Drilling into tile is intimidating!! We watched soooooooo maaaaaaaany YouTube videos (anyone watch the videos with Shannon?). What helped us the most was to get a masonry drill bit, make an “x” with masking tape to give some texture for the drill bit to stick to, and using a sponge, drip water on the drill bit while drilling into the tile. We used these anchors to hang the shelves over the tile.
7. Start organizing, styling and putting your new shelves to good use. You will love how open it makes your new kitchen!




Tips for having open shelves and pantry:

1. Clean and purge! You will be surprised about how much you have when you empty your kitchen all out. I ended up donating about half of what we kept in our kitchen. I only kept the things we use everyday.
2. Find the balance between function and decoration. When you take your upper cabinets down, the shelves need to be functional, as well as look good. For us, we kept all our dishes a single color (white) or clear glass so it didn’t look messy or overwhelming.
3. Maximize the storage in bottom cabinets. Look into organizational items, like wire racks, that can really help organize every inch of space. It really makes a huge difference if you aren’t wasting space!
4. A closed-door pantry. We are lucky enough that we actually have a pantry with two doors. We moved the items that we didn’t want on the open shelves in there (i.e. kids plastic cups and plates). We also have our large bulk items from Costco in there. Everything else gets put into the glass jars on the open pantry shelves.
5. Dry goods. I love the bulk section at our local co-op. I get most of our dry goods from there and keep them in large mason jars on the shelves. It makes for a perfect open pantry – they all look so beautiful with their subtle colors and interesting textures. We keep an array of nuts, seeds, flours, sugars, oats, shredded coconut, cranberries, chocolate chips, etc… in our jars. We store our packaged snacks/food in cabinets to help keep an organized and minimal look.
6. Transfer all your spices to clear glass jars. I love these spice jars from Amazon and how they look on the shelf together.
7. Get creative, use hooks under the shelves to hang mugs, or try hanging bowls/baskets for fruit.
8. Have fun! That’s the best part of having open shelving. You get to rearrange and decorate anytime the mood strikes. Let your creative side go wild!







This post is in partnership with Frigidaire Professional, but all words, opinions and styling are my own. A big huge thank you to Frigidaire Professional and Lowe’s for helping our kitchen dreams come true.

You can see the full kitchen reveal post here!

Crafts With Kids | Homemade Playdough Recipe


My sister got Rowan the coolest book for her birthday. It’s loaded with tons of great ideas for Moms and kids. In a desperate moment last week to find something to entertain the girls, I grabbed the book looking for something we could do. Playdough!! My girls love play dough. I’ve never made it before and was super excited to try it out. We even juiced some beets, kale and used turmeric to naturally color the dough. I also added a few drops of essential oils and glitter and WOW!! it was a hit! The girls have had so much fun playing with it. At first I thought it was even too pretty to play with!

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp plain cooking oil
food coloring – if you’re using homemade colors, they should be added as water replacement. For example, if you’re using half a cup of color, you then will only need half a cup of water. I juiced kale, beets and then boiled some turmeric and used that instead of the water.
essential oils (your choice)

1. Add flour, salt, water, cream of tartar, oil, and food color to a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring consistently.
2. After a couple of minutes you will notice the mixture starting to clump. It will get harder and harder to stir, eventually turning into one big lump.
3. Scoop the lump out onto a floured surface and knead all together. Press out flat and sprinkle with glitter. Knead together. Do the same with essential oils.
4. Bring out all the cookie cutters and have lots of fun! Keep in air tight containers when you are finished playing.







diyplaydough^^I am still blown away by how beautiful the colors came out.


*This recipe is from the Recipes for Play book by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener

Family Pop Up Puppets



My girls love puppets! I hear them downstairs all the time laughing as they put on puppet shows for each other. Of course Finley’s version of a puppet show is just shoving a puppet through the curtain and laughing, but Rowan still thinks it’s hilarious. Kev can put on a pretty impressive puppet show too! I wanted to make new puppets for them and thought, what would be cuter than actually making family puppets? I teamed up with Canon USA to create these super cute pop-up family puppets!


Craft Cones (I bought these on Amazon)
Fabric transfer paper
Wooden craft beads
Fabric, felt
Ribbon, trim, buttons
Hot glue

I started with a cute picture of Rowan. I decided to change the color to be black and white and then printed it on my PIXMA MG7520 directly onto the fabric transfer paper. I ordered the transfer paper right from Amazon but you can also find it at any craft store. I cut just her head out and then ironed it on to some muslin fabric.





I decided to make them sort of whimsical and circus like by adding painted details to their heads. Next I cut out an outfit from my fabric choices. I kept it simple, just freehanding a basic shirt shape. You will need 2 pieces of each shape to sew a complete puppet. Remember to make the bottom of the skirt as wide as your cone. You will be gluing the skirt part to the top of the cone so make sure it’s big enough to fit around.



I sewed the head, collar and skirt to the front and back pieces of the shirt. Then putting right sides together, I sewed it all together to create the puppet. Here’s the extra fun part… the accessories! I loved picking out fun trim, ribbon and buttons to add to the puppet.




I added a tiny bit of batting inside of her head to give it some shape. Take a large wooden ball and dowel and hot glue it inside the puppet at it’s neckline to give it the support and stability to pop up. The dowel needs to long enough to go from inside the puppet, down through the cone and attach to another wooden ball at the bottom of the cone.


Time to decorate the cone! Paint it, cover it in fabric, or leave as is. Totally up to you! I decided to paint ours and to add a felt initial to the top. You can also paint the end of the dowel and the wooden ball that you will be pulling and pushing to make the puppet pop up. Cut the tip of the cone off to create a hole just big enough for the dowel to pass through. Assemble it all together.


Hot glue the bottom edge of the puppet’s skirt to the outside top edge of the cone. It doesn’t have to be exact, you will be covering the edge with some ribbon to help it have a more finished look. Once it’s glued, add the ribbon and make sure it’s hot glued to half the skirt’s edge and half the cone. Pull the puppet into the cone and you’re ready to play!!







Preschool Valentine’s | Homemade Bird Seed Feeders


I won’t lie. I’ve been looking forward to this day since before I had kids. I dreamed of the day when I would get to make Valentine’s Day cards with our kids to bring in to school. The day is finally here!! Tomorrow is Rowan’s Valentine’s Day party at school and we’ve been busy all week making little goodies for her friends. We decided to make some cute bird seed feeders in the shape of hearts for her to give out. We designed little bags to put them in. Rowan colored in the hearts on the bag and painted some paper for us to cut the hearts out for the top. Now let’s just hope the snow doesn’t rain on our parade. My fingers are crossed school doesn’t get canceled tomorrow.


4 cups of bird seed
1 envelope of unflavored Knox gelatin
3/4 cup of flour
1/2 cup of water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 Tbsp corn syrup
Heart cookie cutters
Cooking spray/ or oil
Wax paper
Cookie sheet
measuring cup




1. In a large bowl, mix everything but the bird seed together. Mix well.
2. Add bird seed. Stir until combined evenly.
3. Spray inside of heart cookie cutter with cooking spray.
4. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
5. Place cookie cutter down on baking sheet, fill with bird seed mixer. It will be sticky. You can use fingers or you can spray your wooden spoon with cooking spray to help.
5. Pack cookie cutter with mixture. You can use the back of a measuring cup to pack it in and make it flat.
6. Poke a straw through the heart towards the top.
7. Lift cookie cutter. You should be able to slide bird seed heart right out.
8. Respray cookie cutter. Repeat all steps.
9. Let them dry for a few hours to over night until they are hardened.
10. Tie twine through the hole and then give as gifts or hang outside on your tree








Happy Valentine’s Day.
(To see another super easy preschool bird feeder craft I did- head on over to the Little Hip Squeak blog and check it out!)

Screen Printed Family T-Shirts (with Freezer Paper)


Alright! You guys asked for it. Here’s a tutorial on how I made our family t-shirts. If you follow me on instagram you know I made everyone a shirt for Kev’s birthday back in October. We surprised him that day and when he came home from work we all had our shirts on. Kev and I have always loved screen printing. When were dating we use to screen print shirts and sell them at art markets in the area. Then we bought a 4 color screen printing press. When we moved to Hawaii, Kev had big dreams of starting a t-shirt company with his designs. It still to this day is something we talk about from time to time.

When I made these shirts I was running a bit short on time. I did the cheat version of screen printing and instead of using real screens used freezer paper. Which is awesome for you guys though because that means pretty much anyone can make these shirts!! They are so super easy.

You Need:

1. A printer (or a staples near by)
2. Freezer paper
3. X-acto knife
4. Masking tape
5. Iron
6. Water based screen printing ink. Craft paint works good too- it will just be pretty stiff whenever you wash it. An iron will help soften it before you wear it. So if craft paint is all you have then go for it. Rowan’s and Finley’s shirts are made with craft paint. We love Martha Stewart brand craft paints. Such pretty colors.

Step 1:

In photoshop or a word document type out all your names. I chose to use DAD, MOM, ROWAN, FINLEY. Layout it out how you want it printed on the shirt. I decided to change each one slightly to have that person’s name on top. Print out in a variety of sizes to see which one will be the best fit for your shirts.


Step 2:

With your print out taped to a cutting mat, place a sheet of freezer paper over top (shiny side down). You will be able to see the words from the print out through the freezer paper. Tape down freezer paper so it doesn’t move while you cut. You can use a ruler if you want or you can just free hand cut out each letter. Be very careful to only cut where the letters are. You are creating a stencil for your shirt.


Step 3:

When everything is cut out. Take the stencil (and with the shiny side down) iron it onto your shirt. Make sure to line it up as best you can so that it’s straight on the shirt. Press down hard on all small thin lines between the letters to make sure they are attached well. You don’t want paint getting under there.


Step 4:

Time to paint. You can do a few things here… With the craft paint, I used a sponge brush to lightly paint and “dab” the paint. This isn’t fool proof so you kind of have to roll with the punches here. The freezer paper works really great but it isn’t perfect. Sometimes paint will get under the edges a little. Just be gently as you paint along the edges. If you are using screen printing ink, you can use a palette knife like a little squeegee and spread the ink across the stencil. This way worked really well for me on my shirt.


Step 5:

The craft paint might need a few coats. Depends on what color paint and what color shirt. Make sure to let each coat dry before you apply another one. Be sure to add in thin, even coats. I got a little a head of myself with Rowan’s gold accent color. I globbed it on so it would cover better. It has been flaking off in the wash now because it was too thick. If you want to add a second color or patterns to the letters (like Finley’s, Rowan’s & Kev’s shirt) make sure you do this before you pull off the stencil. When all is said and done you can pull the paper off and marvel at your finish product.


Step 6:

Then have a ridiculous family photo shoot in all your finished t-shirts.










Step 7:

It’s probably time to stop taking pictures when someone in the family looks like this…


Let’s Make Something! | Beads


Yay! Well, it only took us about 3 months to make another one of these videos. Remember our bath bomb one? Whoops. I even video taped this one in August but just never got around to editing it till now. Better late than never I guess? I’ve been painting wooden beads like a mad women around here for the necklaces I’ve been selling in my etsy shop. The idea actually came from making beads and hand painting them with Rowan one day. It’s a super fun craft to do with your little one!


Craft Paint
Paint Brushes
Air Dry Clay ( I like the Delight brand. Super light weight for kids!)
Yarn Needle
Clasps (Magnetic Clasps work best for little kids. They can take it on and off easily and if it ever got caught a slight pressure would break it off)

Have Fun!

Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev