DIY Litter Box Furniture Cover Up

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I’m proud to be a crazy cat lady! Yup, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, we love dogs but it’s just not the right timing for us to have one right now.

Have you seen those pieces of furniture that conceal a litter box inside? They are really expensive. To some, it’s worth the investment. We would have spent the money on it, BUT all the furniture we found was simply too big (think low and wide) or just didn’t suit the room we needed it to be in.

So, DIY to the rescue! I researched a TON of different ways to do this and found lots of cool ideas on how to take a piece of furniture and turn it into a litter box cover up. Because of very limited space in our apartment, we knew the litter box had to stay in the exact place we had it originally and find something that would be appropriate for the room both size wise and aesthetically speaking.

In Houston we live not far from one of the best 2nd hand stores in the city (I’m pretty sure it has been voted “Best Antiques” for a few years now). We went one day just to browse around with low expectations; since stuff rotates through stores like this, you can never be sure you will find what you are looking for. But we had our fingers crossed!

We ended up finding this 2-door storage cabinet that we thought would work just perfectly. The size was right, and our litter box would already fit inside (no need to downsize the litter box or anything! yay!)

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Farley claimed it as his as soon as we got it home.

This thing was downright UG-ly. It had been painted a few too many times, and just looked very used and old. The fact that it had doors in the front meant easy access for scooping litter too! for less than $30 we snatched it up and I got to Home Depot for the makeover!

Materials I used:

  • 1X4’s for the top of the cabinet, cut to fit
  • poplar strips, cut to fit the cabinet door inset
  • new knobs
  • white paint + primer in one
  • minwax stain
  • jigsaw
  • screws
  • a second helper!
  • Paint stripper
  • puddy knife
  • paintable wood filler (for any gouges in the wood)
  • electric sander
  • screw driver
  • power drill
  • old paint brush
  • wood glue

I had to remove this mesh screen stuff that was in the inset of the cabinet doors – it was terrible looking and very dated. I cut it with an xacto knife and then just pulled it off.

Next, remove the door hinges – if they are painted and really gummed up, put them in a slow cooker covered with water and turn the sucker on. The paint will soak right off in the hot water!

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I had a shelf inside that I needed removed. It was literally built into the sides of the cabinet, so I had to use the jigsaw and cut it out. It doesn’t look pretty in there, but no one will see it. The point is to make room for the kitties to be able to stand in their litter box without having to crouch and be uncomfortable.

Take the paint stripper and pour it/paint it on one side of the furniture at a time. Follow the directions on the can, let it work its magic, and then scrape the old paint off! Try and get the majority off with the paint stripper, and THEN resort to the electric sander to get the rest off.

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If there are any gouges in the wood, use paintable wood filler to fill in the holes. This takes a few goes, as it shrinks a bit when it dries. Be patient! Once it’s dried, sand it carefully by hand until smooth to the touch. If you feel any bumps, it will show once painted, so get it smooth!

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Decide which side you want the hole to go on where the cats will enter inside the little box. I chose to do it facing away from where people would see it. Draw your hole on that side, and drill a hole where you will be able to start sawing. (I recommend measuring where the top of your litter box pan starts so you know to start your hole around the same height…otherwise you will be looking at the litter box pan through the hole because you started too low.)

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Use your jigsaw to cut out the hole – this was my first time using a jigsaw. Power tools are no joke. They are powerful and LOUD. BUT more scary than they actually are. Just use common sense people and go SLOW. Better to cut wood than a finger! Once you have the hole cut out, sand the edges so they’re smooth with the electric sander.

Sand the entire body of the furniture until smooth – this is prepping it for painting. I didn’t have to do the top of the cabinet because I was covering it with wood planks. While you’re at it, do the doors of the cabinet. If you’re using 1X4 planks, sand the edges to round them a bit – it gives it that farmhouse chic look when the wood cuts aren’t so angular and square.

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Get to painting! Paint the doors, the body of the cabinet etc. I had to do 3 coats to get it even.

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While the paint is drying, stain your wooden planks and poplar pieces for the top and the cabinet doors.

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Once dry take wood glue and drizzle it liberally on the inset of the doors. Put the dried poplar pieces in the door and make sure they’re spaced properly before letting it dry.

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Get your helper! I didn’t want to see screws from the top of the cabinet in that pretty wood, so that meant we had to drill from the underside of the cabinet to secure the wood planks. PRE DRILL your holes people! I have had SUCH bad luck in past projects with not pre-drilling holes, and it’s just frustrating as all get out. So just do it! I made Geoff do the drilling as I held the wooden planks in place. If you are the one holding the wood in place, you MUST push DOWN on the wood or it will move as the drill is going through the wood and screw up the alignment of the entire thing. We did three holes per plank – on both ends and in the middle.

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Once you have this done and the doors are dry, reattach them with your clean hardware from the crockpot! Add your cute new knobs to where the old ones were, and if you have to realign the magnetic door closure (so the doors stay shut), do that now.

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After all is said and done you can either take your sander or do it by hand to distress the white painted parts to get more of that rustic look.

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Put your litter box inside and let your kitties enjoy their new throne! (and our printer for that matter too).

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This project took me a weekend, but was so worth all the effort I put into it! Would you ever consider hiding your litter box in something like this?

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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#motivationmonday6

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Better believe it, babe.

If someone treats you like a yellow starburst (which to be honest, I don’t think they’re all that bad but that’s besides the point), then guess what? They’re the one who’s the yellow starburst.

We all know those people who put others down just to lift themselves up. Get away from those people. Ctl + alt + Delete that shit. You know your worth! *Stands up and shouts “yeah!” while pumping fist in air*

Pink starbursts for life!

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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DIY Robin’s Egg Manicure

 

This manicure is really fun because while it’s creative, there is no pressure as to making a specific design – so you really can’t mess up. Love that!

You can use any colors you want, but I went with a white base, and turquoise, shimmery blue, and gold for accent colors.

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Here’s what you need for this manicure:

  • cling wrap
  • pointy qtips (normal ones work too)
  • nail polish remover
  • white base coat
  • your choice of colors + a metallic for accents
  • top coat
  • paper plate

Steps:

  1. Paint nails with white base coat. This doesn’t need to be thick, even, or pretty because it’s getting more color layered on top. The white simply helps the next colors pop.
  2. Take a piece of cling wrap and scrunch it into a ball.
  3. Dab your lightest color (not the metallic) onto the paper plate with the paint brush, and then dip your cling wrap into it.
  4. LIGHTLY tap it onto your nails, reapplying color to the cling wrap when needed.
  5. Take your darkest color and repeat that application process but use even less color since it’s darker. You don’t want to cover up the light one completely.
  6. Do that one more time but with your metallic color.
  7. Repeat any of the colors to get the desired look you like best.
  8. Finish with two coats of top coat to get it nice and smooth.
  9. Take the qtip dipped in nail polish remover and clean up the skin around your nails
  10. Show off your manicure to your friends!

 

 

 

That banana really got a lot of use today!

love & cupcakes,
Katie

 

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#motivationmonday5

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Hi friends!

I just want you to look at that quote up there and ask yourself one thing: Do you want to become a distinctive person? It’s not often that we think of ourselves as being distinctive. Special? sure! Funny? sometimes. Successful? hopefully. Distinctive? That one hadn’t hit me really.

Of course we want to be a distinctive person. But that means we may have to step out of our comfort zone. When we are faced with hard choices, it’s how we deal with them that reveals the content of our character (<–Thanks MLK Jr.) And we need to start thinking of hard choices as just that – opportunities.

So get out there and tackle all those Monday opportunities! and then treat yourself to some chocolate. (or wine).

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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Cardio vs Weights

For those of you who know me, you know I like to workout. A year and a half ago I started a side job as an independent Beachbody coach and that is what led me to my “soul mate workout.” I hardly ever stray from this particular regimen, and when I do, it’s only for a little while and it’s to do my second favorite workout (also introduced to me through Beachbody).

The reason why I love my workout, is because it uses weights and gets my heart rate up at the same time. No, weights will not make you bulky. No, they will not make you look like a man. But they will give you a shapely hiney and some toned triceps. I don’t hear any complaints!

I’ve seen a lot of debate over time as to whether cardio is better for you, or strength training using weights is more beneficial.

So I did a little digging and in the end found some great info from an article in Self magazine that is really helpful and I wanted to share it with you all.

Is cardio or strength training better for weight loss?

The answer is: Strength training. Even though you may burn a few more calories per minute doing cardio, your body continues to burn calories even after you are done with your workout. When you’re on the elliptical or treadmill, in all reality, your body is pretty comfortable, but when you strength train, it makes your body go, “Whoah, wait a minute, what are we doing here?!” The stuff that makes your body go “wowza!” takes an hour to recover from, which means you burn an extra 25% in calories. So here’s some math for ya – you burn 160 calories in your workout, but by the day’s end, you’ll have burnt 200 calories total from that workout.

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Which should I do first?

On this one, it doesn’t matter. It’s your choice here. The reason being that cardio makes a great warm up for strength training, and it also is a good cool down; it helps flush out lactic acid which causes sore muscles later on. The exception to this is if you’re training for something like a 10K – you’ll obviously want to do that kind of exercise first before you have any sort of muscle fatigue.

Does one give a bigger endorphin boost?

Cardio does! If you’re looking to improve your mood, anxiety, depression, or relieve pain try cardio activity. Strength training will give you endorphin boost, but you have to get your heart rate going by using heavier weights and/or not taking long rest periods between sets (to keep your heart rate high).

Should I lift heavy or light weights?

Both. (Yup!) When you use light weights, you should be able to get in 15-20 reps before you fatigue. This activates slow twitch muscles. Heavy weights, when you get tired at around 8-10 reps, triggers fast twitch muscle fibers. The two lifting styles give you the best results. You can do this by alternating days of light and heavy lifting, or combine it into one workout.

Building upper body strength while aerobicizing

What if I only have time to do either cardio or strength training?

Then you should strength train. If you work it the right way, you can kill two birds with one stone and get your cardio in as you strength train. If you’re still on the fence about it, here’s some food for thought: studies show that you get better results, both aerobic and strength gains, from three 20 minute strength circuits a week vs 60 minute cardio sessions five days a week. SOLD! I’ll take 20 minutes 3x a week over an hour 5x a week always!

I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you’re feeling stuck in a rut with your exercise routine, talk to me for some ideas! Or go and explore your options with a friend! Doing something new with a friend is always way more fun (and less scary!)

love & (calorie free!) cupcakes, <–in a perfect world 😉

Katie

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#motivationmonday4

952c7a6960d6b02cebf8ef706f55a9eeHappy Monday 🙂

Some pretty terrible things have been happening out there in the universe this past week. And while I’ve seen many people offering their opinions on it all, I don’t feel that adding one more (mine) will make a difference. (Actions, not opinions inspire change).

What I do know and feel is that many of us can undoubtedly say that NOTHING of this nature should ever happen to anyone. Unfortunately there are things that we will never be able to rationalize as to why they occur.

With that said, cherish the beauty in the small things. Because you will realize that the small things are what make up the big things in life.

Hug your friends, tell your family you love them. Smile at strangers.

Make the world a kinder place. And let it start with us.

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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Vacay Recap

You know how sometimes you go on a vacation and when you get home you tell yourself you need a vacation to recover from that vacation? Well, this past week was not like that.

We had a week of ultimate relaxation, with beach days every day, soaking up the sun while kayaking with dolphin, spent tons of time with both of our families (whom we haven’t seen since our wedding there four months ago), and watched fireworks from the beach on the 4th. There was even a baby shower snuck in there which was really nice to see even more family than usual. It really was a great week all together!

Here’s a photo gallery with a recap of our week at Atlantic Beach, FL.

Are you going on a trip this summer!?

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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Cold Brew Coffee @ Home

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Cold brew coffee is a thing of beauty. We were introduced to it by a couple we know who housed Geoff when he worked for Opera North. He fell in love with it, learned to make it, and insisted that when he got home from the program we had to buy the system to make it ourselves. It was that good. I told him he could make it, but I was hesitant, because I had my beloved Keurig machine and thought that it made perfectly fine coffee.

Long story short, I am a cold brew coffee convert, and I’m never looking back! As one of our friends likes to say, we have been spreading the gospel of cold brew coffee!!

A man named Todd Simpson developed the Toddy Cold Brew System. Basically, the cold brew process just takes time, since you’re not brewing it with hot water and therefore gives you less acidic coffee — 67% to be exact! Cold water brewing takes the flavor compounds from the coffee beans but leaves behind the bitter oils and fatty acids (they’re only soluble at a high temperature). The cold brew process gives you a wonderful smooth cup of coffee which you can serve hot or cold.

You can buy the Toddy Cold Brew System here! It’s really not too expensive, and it’s worth it to have the “kit” to make it at home, instead of DIYing your own system.

Some people are really hoity toity when it comes to making their coffee, cold brew included, but we’re not. I’m gonna give you the process we do when we make our cold brew!

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Here’s what you need:

  • Toddy Cold Brew System (purchase here)
  • 12 oz. whole bean coffee (ground it on the coarse setting)
  • waterrrrrrr

*Just a little tip, I find that I get the best results when I use a coffee that is at least a medium or dark roast. I love that rich flavor.

Steps:

  1. Grind your coffee beans – we like to do this at the store since it’s easy and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up your mess in your own kitchen! Make sure you have the grind setting on COARSE. Anything else will risk clogging your filter.
  2. Soak the filter (that circular disk) in water until it stops bubbling and is completely saturated.
  3. Take the cork and put it in the bottom of the plastic Toddy container.
  4. Put the plastic container in a large saucepan. I like doing this in case the cork accidentally pops out and drains all over the place. It has NEVER happened, but never say never!
  5. Put the soaked filter in the bottom of the Toddy system – you’ll see the indent where it goes.
  6. Pour your 12 oz of coarse ground coffee in the Toddy plastic container.
  7. Fill it gently with cold water until you reach the top. When it’s filled about 3/4 of the way up I take a knife and “cut” through the grounds and make sure everything is wet with water. (You would be surprised how the middle of the coffee grounds can be bone dry while the rest of it is wet).
  8. Set the whole Toddy system somewhere where you won’t knock it over etc.
  9. Let it sit overnight. The longer the better! (usually when I make ours it sits for around 17 hours).
  10. In the morning, carefully lift up your plastic Toddy container and line it up over the glass carafe.
  11. Pull out the cork in the bottom, and gently set the plastic container on top of the glass carafe. You’ll see how each container cradles the other so it’s safely seated together.
  12. Let it drain fully (this could take a while…I’m talking like 30 mins or more, depending on how steady the stream is).
  13. Enjoy your cold brew!
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This is what it’ll look like before adding water.
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This is filled with water.
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Slowly draining into the carafe.
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Final product!

It’s important to note that the cold brew is like a super concentrated version of regular hot coffee. So you probably don’t want to down a whole entire mug of cold brew unless you want major jitters, like, all day long.

We like to fill our coffee mug about 1/3 of the way with the cold brew coffee, and then fill the rest of it with water. I pop it in the microwave (since I love hot coffee, even in the summer), and top it off with my favorite creamer!

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Call me crazy, but I swear, when you have cold brew coffee, there is almost a chocolatey depth to the coffee flavor.

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Is this not beautiful?

Do you think you’ll try cold brew coffee at home?

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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Summer Coconut Pavlova with Almond Cream and Strawberry Sauce

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If you’re looking for a red, white, and blue something or other to bring to your Fourth of July picnic, look no further!

This dessert is a show stopper, and looks WAY more difficult than it is. Not to mention it looks a heck of a lot classier than so many 4th of July themed foods. You can be proud to add this to any spread, and I have made this on many other occasions and it gets rave reviews every time!

I went with strawberries and blueberries for this one, but you can use any red and blue fruit you want – red and black raspberries, pomegranate aerils would look extra fancy….

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Here’s what you need: (recipe adapted from here & here)

  • 4 large egg whites (@ room temp)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 lb of strawberries chopped (aka a normal container of strawberries you buy at the store)
    • reserve a few whole strawberries for the top
  • 1 pint of blueberries

Whipping cream:

  • 1 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 Tbsp. sugar (sweeten the cream to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 drops of almond extract (a little goes a LONG way)

Strawberry Sauce:

  • a handful of chopped strawberries
  • a splash of water
  • 1/8 C. – 1/4 C. of sugar (depending on how big your handful of strawberries were)

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Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Beat the egg whites + pinch of salt on high speed until soft peaks form. Then add sugar in small increments, incorporating it fully before adding more until the meringue forms stiff, shiny peaks. Add the vanilla extract + coconut extract. By hand, fold in the cornstarch and vinegar with a rubber spatula.

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat mat. Spread the meringue with the rubber spatula in a circle about 9″ in diameter. Make the edges higher than the middle (think of it like the shallowest meringue soup bowl ever) so it can hold all the fruit, cream and juices. Mmmmmmm!

Bake the meringue for 60-75 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it cool fully while inside the closed oven! When it’s done it feels firm to the touch, and as it cools it crackles all over, leaving the inside nice and marshmallow-y!

While the meringue is baking, make your strawberry sauce. Take a handful of chopped strawberries, with the water and sugar and put it in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat so it simmers – you want the strawberries to soften and the sauce to thicken. Let it cool completely.

Next make your whipped cream. Whip the heavy whipping cream on high and add the 2-3 Tbsp. to taste. (remember, the strawberry sauce is very sweet, so you may not want the whipped cream very sweet too).

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It’s important to know that you must assemble this just before serving or it will get soggy after a few hours.

 

 

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Spread the whipped cream on the pavlova, followed by the strawberries + blueberries, then drizzled with the strawberry sauce. Adorn the top with the whole strawberries you saved! Voila!

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Get ready to hand out the recipe to everyone….they’re gonna want it!

What’s your favorite 4th of July food or dessert?

love & cupcakes,

Katie

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