A Few Fun Projects!

A Few Fun Projects!

Hey, did you know that my door/house number sign was featured in Country Living online last week?!  Well it surely was and I pretty much did a back flip when I heard.  (if that were true I would be in traction right now, I just said that to emphasize how excited I was).

Here’s the post they shared….

And I thought I’d show a few more of my projects to you today, in case you missed any of the messes I make around here.  Like the deck furniture that I made almost entirely out of scraps!

That picture is from the year we built it, but the burlap didn’t hold up in the weather, so I replaced or recovered all of the pillows and cushions.  It’s not as colorful now, but still my favorite place to hang out in the summer!

This next one I want to show you is a  cabinet I built for my bathroom.  It solved three problems I had…no door on the water heater closet, no full mirror and no place to put my necklaces.  I love when décor meets function.

And here’s the last post I want to show you….I love a budget makeover and this one of my boys’ bathroom turned out great!

It’s fun to live in an old house that I can just play with….like a giant dollhouse.

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more fun project ideas!

My Small Budget Kitchen Makeover

My Small Budget Kitchen Makeover

I’m doing the happy kitchen dance over here!  After more than 6 weeks of chipping away at it (with long intervals of doing nothing) we finally finished the kitchen makeover.

It really kind of took on a life of its own.  It started with me innocently wanting to repaint the cabinets and replace the electric range.  Well, I wasn’t able to replace the range (hopefully in the fall) but I did repaint and a few other goodies too!

As I was planning I got inspired by watching a marathon of Fixer Upper.  Her style makes my heart soar.  So I decided to shoot for a modified version of the gorgeous barnwood shelves in her kitchen.


I mean, why not?  James and I are pretty much just like Chip and Joanna….except without all of the talent and charm.

This is another kitchen that inspired me, which I found listed under kitchens she has designed.  I also added it to my “inspiration and drool-worthy” file.


Another thing my friend Joanna has that I don’t have is access to old barnwood.  (by the way, I use the term friend loosely here, it may be more like crazed fan/unsuspecting designer)  I decided to experiment by making my own.  I got NEW wood at the hardwork store and played around with it.

First I brushed it with apple cider vinegar that had been soaking with steelwool in it overnight (thank you Pinterest).  It grayed the wood and made it look aged in about 10 minutes.  Then I stained it with Minwax’s “Colonial Maple”.  You might go with a bit lighter stain color, but since my kitchen island countertop was already dark I didn’t want my other wood to be a lot lighter.

In this picture you can see a new cedar piece.  Above it has been washed with the vinegar and below is after I stained it.  When I tried only staining the wood it was very new looking….the gray added flaws and a dark aged look.

Without further ado, here is my kitchen before I made any changes:


I was ready to ditch the punched tin cabinet doors and open it up.  Plus I hated the spot over the fridge.  Useless and messy.  HOWEVER, when I looked into the cost of tearing all of those cabinets down and adding open shelves, it was too much.  I’d have to replace the backsplash and re-sheetrock the walls (old house=no sheetrock behind the cabinets).  So I put my thinking cap on and decided to make it work WITH the cabinets.

Here’s how it looks today:


I removed all of the doors, caulked the holes from the hinge screws and sanded my little heart out so you can’t tell they were ever there.  I knocked out those upper shelves and removed every bit of trim (I was going to replace the swirls in front of the sink, but then decided to make it my goal to replace the whole countertop and sink in the next 6 months, so I left it).

After I did all of that, and here’s where the magic comes in, I wrapped the existing shelves with my experimental “old” barnwood.  Now my shelves look like 2 1/2″ thick pieces of old wood.  Cool, huh?


I ripped down cedar 1x4s for the front and cheap white wood for the top and bottom.  Even up close it really does look like one whole piece.


I added a new cabinet over the fridge and I like that so much better!  It holds some of the junk I had in the tops of the cabinets before I took the doors off and it looks SO tidy!

The only things I bought to put on the shelves were the EAT letters (which I bought at Michaels, Heidi Swapp….adorable!) and the old shutter, which I got at Round Top a couple of weeks ago.

The letters are made of cardboard!  But I spray painted the sides with a metallic bronzish spray paint and they look like vintage marquee letters now.  They come with the lights and everything.  Plus they use batteries so they’re super easy!


I love seeing the kitchen looking all spiffy and ready for action….

What’s cuter than a kid doing dishes?

I’ve got a few more changes to show you next week in the rest of the kitchen, but this wall is where the biggest difference is.  Most of the rest is paint.  Although we did repaint everything, they’re still white so it’s nothing you would notice. Unless, of course, you’d seen the horror of the ugliness which I did not take pictures of beforehand.  You have a good imagination.  Picture worn off paint and grime around every knob in my kitchen and you’ll get the idea.

I’m so happy it’s clean and pretty again!


Thanks for stopping by and come back next week to see the other side!

Be sure to follow me on Facebook!

And check out my Kitchen Board on Pinterest!

A great kitchen makepver inspired by Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines and her brilliant farmhouse style

A Burst of Creativity!

A Burst of Creativity!

Over the weekend I planned to get a lot of writing done, but my creative juices were about to burst after weeks and weeks of working hard on my book.  I needed a few hours of moving and creating and organizing.  Release!

So I decided to step away from the computer and do some small projects that I had been mulling over for a while.  You know the ones….easy and won’t take more than half an hour but it takes you 2 years to get to it….

In my bathroom I had been wanting to move my essential oil shelves because they were hanging over my bathtub and I was getting tired of having to climb into the tub every time I wanted something from the top shelf.  But the only other spot in my bathroom that would work had a towel bar which, frankly, I didn’t really use.  I mostly just kept a hand towel there for decoration.

But if I removed the bar, then there would be two gaping holes in the wall and I didn’t feel like taking the time to patch, paint, etc.  Lazy.

So here’s what I did….I pulled out an old map that was a gift from my sweet friend Angie at The Country Chic Cottage.   It had been hanging in the boys’ room, so I snuck in there while they were sleeping and stole it.  Or is it technically stealing if it is something that actually belongs to you but you’re too scared to move it when the kids can see so you do it in the cloak of darkness?

I hung the map on the wall, folding it around the corner and then hung the shelves unevenly over that.  I just love, LOVE how it looks (like I am an adventurer) and I now can reach my oils without stepping in the tub.  Win-Win.

Adorable essential oil shelves!

I could have unplugged all of my cords below the map for the photo.  I thought about it.  But then I decided to leave it because I want you to see the real me and not some unplugged version.

The second project I did, which I am so, SO thrilled with…is a new light in my living room.

When we put up the Christmas tree, I had to remove a lamp by the couch.  After the tree got put away I didn’t want to put the lamp back….I had a new idea. (it always scares James when I tell him I have an idea)

I had 3 strings of bulb lights that I purchased a couple of years ago for a project I never did (raise your hand if you have unfinished projects), so I wanted to use them.  Combine that with an old section of fence I got last summer that is hanging over my couch.

So I attached the string of lights to the fence and, oh.my.word, I LOVE it!!!

Fresh, new light fixture you can make yourself!

I just stapled each light in the gaps and wrapped the extra cord behind and stapled it back there so it would be hidden.

Here it is from the side….


I got the “love” sign at Hobby Lobby for half price.  Score!

an easy tomake fresh fun lught fixture!

And now that I have my creative outlet fix, I can get to the busyness of this week.  I’ve got to get my book edits wrapped up.  Plus the Summit starts on Friday and I will be working to get ready for that.  If you haven’t registered yet, you can still use my $10 off coupon code!  Code: pennington10

Have a great week!

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Let There Be Light!

Let There Be Light!

Some weekends are the lazy kind where you sit around and wonder what to do with yourselves.  Like when James and I were first married and we would hear people say they were really busy and wonder what they meant.  Because all we had to do was dust under the bentwood rocker and decide what movie to rent for the weekend.

Then came kids.  And home ownership.  And several home businesses and now we wonder why we ever thought this would be easy.

This past weekend was not a lazy weekend.  We spent our time divided between managing this old house that doesn’t fair well through thunderstorms and catching up on some much delayed home improvement projects….one of which was my Mother’s Day present circa 2010.

Yes, approximately 4 years ago I had this genius idea.  I bought some wire baskets at a flea market and brought them home to make dining room light fixtures with.  On the way home from that same flea market I stopped at IKEA and purchased all of the hardware for this random project.  We have literally had everything we needed to build these lights for FOUR YEARS, yet never did it.


Because for some reason I am not “allowed” to play with electricity so I had to wait for James to have time to do it.  What’s the man been doing for four years?  Oh yeah….going to law school.  What. Ever.

I asked several times if I could just try doing it myself.  But my reputation for electrical projects goes to the dogs every winter when we have to post a sign on the microwave reminding anyone using it to make sure the heater is off before heating food.  It’s the small matter of an outlet I installed myself when I was remodeling the kitchen.  It works great…unless you try to turn on anything else that’s on the same circuit when the microwave is running.  This only becomes obvious when we use the little space heater in the dining room.  Cook.  Pop.  No microwave.  No heat.

I argue that for most of the year we don’t need heat so it is perfectly fine.  What’s the big deal?

BUT James said no.  So finally he finished school, the Bar Exam and all of the other little tests and applications required to become an attorney and now he can focus on what’s important.  My dining room lights.

He and Jacob took down the old light and installed an outlet in the ceiling.  This was my idea since my IKEA parts had plugs.  What rule says you have to hardwire your lights?


We clipped the bottoms out of the baskets and my daughter Faith made little cardboard circles to fill in the open middle.  Then we just popped the IKEA lights in them.  Jacob built me some simple boxes from old wood from our backyard wood pile and we drilled holes in the boxes for the lights to go through.  Patience made me some cord covers from old curtains.  It really was a family affair.

Then we hung them (it sounds so easy when I sum it up in 4 little words, but it took us several hours)….at last we have decent light on both sides of the dining room and I couldn’t be happier.  It was worth waiting 4 years.

Make lights from wire baskets

A future project is getting rid of the popcorn ceiling….ick!

Here’s a view of the second light on the other side of the room….

Make lights from wire baskets

We also spent Saturday taking photos for our upcoming summer home tour that includes a whole slew of other amazing, creative bloggers.  So stay tuned for that!

And now we’re back to repairing water damaged parts of the house like the roof of the back deck that caved in yesterday and the pool, which has turned green from the rain.  If you’ve always dreamed of buying an old farmhouse and fixing it up, this is what it’s like.  Not exactly the dream, but still pretty great.

Have a wonderful last week of May.  Stay dry!

For more info on how we made the lights head over to Hometalk and see how we did it!

From Hot to Cold in 3.7 Seconds

From Hot to Cold in 3.7 Seconds

Friday started off like it normally does….getting up early to walk then straight to the load of school work we do M-F.  I strolled in the house from my quiet walk to hustle and bustle and wished I could go back out for a few more peaceful silence.

When I am 2 miles down the street all by myself no one asks me if I know where their shoes are.

But alas, they had already seen me so I couldn’t sneak out again.  So off I went with the day.  School, meal plans, weekend troubleshooting, etc.  We also had to prep my van for the next day’s big adventure.  I was planning to get up before 5 and head to Round Top for some flea market fun.  I have to get my fix or I start to have flea market withdrawls.

I made it through Friday despite a few hitches.  Is there ever a day without them?  Sometimes the hitches are the best part.  Who plans things like running around the yard to catch the trash that blew away or answering a phone call from a desperate mom who needs encouragement?  The blessings of life!

On Saturday morning I was off for the day with my 17 year old daughter Faith to see what goodness we could find at Round Top.  We always have a fun time together and laughed pretty much the whole way, then more laughs at the flea market until around 11:30 when the unexpected heat in Round Top did a number on me.  I found myself feeling sick and not prepared for the blazing sun.

I found a spot to sit while she continued her quest for junk she can make jewelry with.  Thankfully I had my essential oils with me and I rubbed on some peppermint and Valor while I waited for her.  After a few minutes the oils had helped a lot and I was able to walk around for a little longer.  But there was just no way to really cool off, so about 1:00 we decided to leave.

I’d never make it on The Amazing Race.  Those episodes where they go to India and the heat is over 110° while they have to carry barrels of fish through a crowded marketplace would be my downfall.  I can barely make it through a Texas flea market carrying a rusty old bucket that I bought for $20.

I don’t know why I have such a fascination with buckets.  They are just so perfect.  1. They’re cute, right?  2. They hold things like plants, toys, tools, pretty much anything except the water for which they were originally intended and 3. They are cheap

But my big purchase was something that I have been wanting for so long.  I’d see these, dream of having one, but not be remotely willing to spend the usual $225-275 price.  Really, I am so cheap I wasn’t willing to even try to bargain.  I knew it would be unreasonable to offer $50 anyway.

Then I saw one on Saturday that was marked down to $100 (things were marked down since it was the last day) and so I asked if she’d take less.  This is a vendor I have bought from before and she remembered me (see, I told my husband it pays to be a frequent shopper!) and so she went down another $25 plus threw in a few small things.  So now I am the proud owner of a vintage shopping cart.

She shall live by my front door and I shall call her Hazel.

I know, it’s every girls’ dream.  My life is fulfilled.

I also picked up a few others goodies and will share all of it with you soon, but I couldn’t go another day without showing you my beloved cart.

We made a few stops in the city on our way home and all in all had a nice day.  I fell into bed almost immediately and let the cool air-conditioning and pillow top mattress do their magic.

Then I got the greatest surprise on Sunday morning!  I headed out for my walk at 6:30 and it was c-c-cold!  Like 48°.  From desert to arctic in 12 hours.  I’m a cold lovin’ girl so I considered it a gift from God.  It revved up my energy and I walked an extra mile.

After a little bit of cleaning we had a quiet, restful Sunday.  Some family time, some planning for the week, a little playing outside and poof.  Day over.

Have a great week!


A Novel of a Weekend!

A Novel of a Weekend!

It would be impossible, without writing an entire book, to tell you all that has gone on in my life over the past few days.  The length of “War and Peace” has nothin’ on my weekend.

It started with a quick trip to Round Top on Thursday.  Sara and I got up before the sun and drove 3 hours to the greatest flea market this side of the Mississippi.  We poked around there, picking up a few fun things then headed home.  I was pooped, but felt relaxed from getting a day out with a friend.  She keeps me in stitches.

I am looking forward to hanging my new “e” in the boys’ room next to the “N” and “L”.  I just need an “A” and my collection will be complete.

Friday was a full day with doing school and working in the shop and catching up from a few days of being busy with other things.  I always try to spend some quality time with each of the kids when I’ve been busy.  That means I might ask one of them to run the post office with me or hang out in the shop so we can talk.  When I was getting myself ready in the morning I invited Adam (11) to come in the bathroom to sit and chat with me while I primped.  I asked him what he’d been up to while I was gone to the flea market.  “Oh,” he replied, “the usual.  I do the wrong thing I get in trouble, I do the right thing I get praised.  Same old same old.”

His life in a nutshell.

Saturday was Hope’s (19) turn to spend one on one time with Mom.  We headed to the city for a free microderm abrasion I had signed us up for a few weeks ago.  I really didn’t know what that meant and hoped I wasn’t getting us into some kind of acid wash-face burning situation.  Turned out to be simple and painless except that I had to wear a weird disposable cap in the middle of Ulta.  But I will admit, we both felt all glowy and shiny afterward.

Once I got home I decided to spend the afternoon working…right after a teeny little nap.  Three hours later I woke up in a trance of not knowing where I was or how I got there.  Once the confusion settled I realized I had missed the entire afternoon and wondered what kind of tranquilizer juice was in that microderm abrasion stuff.

Feeling groggy, I decided to just hang out with the kids instead of trying to work.  We’ve been reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” together.  I don’t know why I chose this book except I am a glutton for punishment because I cry through every page and keep thinking of how I wish I had a great big tree for my boys to chop down so they can learn to be men.  Plus Elijah is now wearing our fake coonskin cap everywhere we go, including the office supply store yesterday afternoon.  He also wants to carry an ax.

Don’t worry about him folks….he’s just pretending to be a coon-hunting-hound-loving-tree-chopping-boy-who-cries-a-lot.  Nothing unusual here.

Sunday evening James and I took Patience (16) out to dinner.  He talked with her about purity and giving him her heart and committing herself to staying pure (not just physically, but emotionally as well).  We had a sweet discussion about God’s Word and where she is spiritually and how she can trust us with her struggles.  After the talk James gave her a necklace with a heart and a key.  She gave him the tiny key and he will hold it until her wedding day when he will give it to her husband.  We have done this with all of the girls when they turn 16 and to see them all wearing their necklaces every day is pure joy to a mother’s heart!

After dinner I wanted to just relax in my recliner, but there was daylight left so the kids and I decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather.  We hadn’t done our egg hunt last weekend because of the rain, so Jacob hid plastic eggs all over the front yard and they spent about 2.7 hours trying to find them.  Take it from me, don’t let a 21 year old boy hide your eggs.  He makes it so hard I don’t think a CIA operative could have located them with specialized equipment.  It was super fun for my 5 year old, who basically followed Jacob around begging for clues.

I think that mostly covers it.  If you stuck with it and read all the way through this novel then I want to wish you a very happy and fun filled week.

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The 3 F’s – Fun, Friends and Flea Markets

The 3 F’s – Fun, Friends and Flea Markets

I’ve been quiet this week.  Between a head cold, lots of etsy orders and a quick trip to the flea market I have barely sat down.

Yesterday I made my annual trek to Round Top and, as usual, it was a blast of fun, finds and near heat stroke.  Sara, Dee Ann and I left by 7AM and before we got out of the driveway we were already laughing so hard I needed to stop and go to the bathroom.

After the 3 hour drive we began at the upscale end of the market, Marburger Farms.  Most of these prices are outside of my comfort zone.  But I always find inspiration and style and pick up a few things that I could never have found anywhere else.  It’s an incredible place, a melting pot of interesting items.

It got really hot very quickly and there wasn’t much shade there, so we decided to leave and go over where the cheap people shop.  As you can see, I pull out all of the stops when it comes to looking classy.

My collapsible floppy hat that I keep in the van for emergencies was going to come in handy for this heat…or so I thought.  As soon as Sara and Dee Ann saw it on me they refused to let me wear it.  And because of some mysterious brown stain on the brim they started calling it “the poo poo hat.”  So I took it off and yes, got a sunburn.  I think I need some new friends.

Eventually we got so hot that we decided to sit down and get a drink.  I also needed some tornado taters and Sara needed a funnel cake.  Both must haves when you are at the flea market….also a carnival, circus and county fair.

I thought about buying one of those 20# bags of ice and dumping it down my shirt.

By 3:30 we were about worn out.  I didn’t make any big purchases.  I was really just there for the fun of a day out with my homies.

On the drive home we usually get serious and talk about important moments in our lives and we get to know each other better.  That may be my favorite part of the whole day.

We hit traffic going through the big city, so we decided to stop and eat.  That is where it all fell apart.  We started talking about the day and by the end of the meal we were laughing so hard we nearly fell out of our chairs.  I may or may not have had a teeny bladder accident.  Let me just defend myself by saying it is hard to stay dry when you’ve given birth 9 times, had a whole day of constantly drinking water then your friends start making fun of your poo poo hat.

This morning I look pretty sunburned.  Next year I will have a better hat and some sunscreen (which I did have in the car but forgot until after I got home).  I slept most of today and after a full day of rest and cool drinks, I am ready to take on the weekend.

Have a happy Easter my friends!

The Big Canton Adventure

The Big Canton Adventure

We got home from our Big Canton Adventure just in time for the Superbowl to hit the airwaves.  Actually, we got home on Saturday night, but I fell instantly to sleep and when I woke up everyone on Facebook and Twitter was talking about Madonna and the football game.  None of which I had any interest in.  All the while my little family was happily playing with toys and talking about our schedule for the month…..unaware of the whirlwind of activity going on in the rest of the world.

The flea market must have been affected by the big game because it was practically deserted.  The vendors were there, but the shoppers didn’t show up.  It was nice for us since we never had to wait in a line or fight a crowd, but I felt sorry for the sellers.  Who would buy all of their wonderful wares?

I Tweeted all weekend, which was a new experience for me.  I took pictures of weird things that one wouldn’t normally want a photo of, like a man with a dog in a stroller and a carving of an eagle that was 12 feet tall. I kept wondering, who is going to buy an enormous eagle?

When we arrived I snapped a shot….ready to shop!

There were a BUNCH of new things this year.  It had a fresh feeling, not the same old stuff.  All my faves: burlap, chicken wire, rust, flaking paint….it was everywhere.

We saw at least 5 vendors selling big wooden letters.  They had all shapes and fonts.  I got these…..I already have several ideas and am wondering if I should have gotten more.

I wish I didn’t tire out so quickly, but it was a good excuse to sit and have some lunch, flea market style.

A couple of older ladies sat with us for lunch.  The conversation was going great until one of them asked Faith about school and we said we homeschool.  Her back went straight and her feathers all stood on end, “I was a school teacher for 35 years and if you ask me the schools are doing just fine.  Homeschooling is what is wrong with this country.”  I didn’t ask her, but that’s OK.  I just smiled and pretended to be sweet.  I said, “I’ll bet you were a great teacher and your students miss you.”  She relaxed a little and we just went back to talking about good deals on jewelry.  Whew!  Old lady fight averted.

It was a really restful, fun weekend for Faith and I.  We talked for hours and enjoyed the outdoors.  We found lots of goodies and wore ourselves out.

Instead of watching the Superbowl, we unloaded our things and put them in my bedroom, which had been clean until then.  Almost all of it is for future projects.

I did move the huge rusty hook on the floor.  I don’t want anyone to impale themselves before I get around to cleaning it up.

Little by little I will show you what I bought and what I am going to do with it.  Right now, as you can see, it’s still a pile of junk.

I will get it all put away during the afternoons this week.  I have to spend my mornings destroying the country by homeschooling my children.

Have a great week!

Canton is my Happy Place

Canton is my Happy Place

My post-holiday, post-illness, post-hottest summer in the history of the world has me itching to be outside.

The weather we are having lately is unbelievable with a capital UN.  The temps are in the upper 60s, the nights are crisp, the sun is shining….it is perfection.

So, like any normal person, I decided this would be a great time for a trip to Canton.  The world’s largest and most amazing flea market.  Tomorrow Faith (age 16) and I are going to make a whirlwind, quick as lightening 6 hour drive to my happy place.

When I was in labor with my children and the midwife told me to close my eyes and picture a place where I could relax, I pictured Canton.

Just to prepare you, if I bring back a picture of myself at Canton from this week, I will probably be wearing exactly the same thing.  That’s my flea market uniform.  I like the skirt because it has pockets.  The shoes have the comfort of tennis shoes with the coolness of a sandal.  The purse fits across my chest so I don’t have to figure out how to hold it and it has an outside pocket big enough for my phone and sunglasses.  Pretty much the purse that dreams are made of.

That cart, if you remember, has been improved.  Last fall when we went to Round Top I gave the cart a makeover.

I hope to come home with everything I need to finish redoing the girls’ rooms and add some storage to the boys’ room.  Three kids to a room means a serious challenge for this OCD, tidy Mamma.  Everything in the rooms has to look great, be neat, easy to keep clean and cheap.  Oh, and be basically indestructible.

I will show you pictures of my  amazing finds when I get back.

That is, of course, AFTER I sleep for a couple of days to recover from the extreme driving challenge.  I’ve never done it all in this short amount of time.

It’s the cost you pay for the best shopping in America.

Totally worth it.

P.S. I’ll be doing constant updates on Twitter from there with plenty of fun pictures of things we can’t live without.  If you’re not following me on Twitter you will miss all of the FUN!  🙂

My New N

My New N

I’m still messing around with some of the things I got at Round Top a couple of weeks ago.  Jars and springs and other useless junk sits waiting for me to get inspired, which may take a while.

I immediately knew, however, what I would do with this baby.  I found an old, metal letter for Noah’s room.  Since everything but the walls is black and white, I KNEW this would be perfect.

So cool!  But wait, I’m looking at that picture and wondering, did I hang it upside down?!  Do y’all think that N is upside down?  Good grief.  I promise you, before I had kids I was as sharp as a tack.

Honestly, the chances are slim that I will actually go in there with a hammer and re-hang it.  I am sure I will be sorry someday when Noah can’t get a job because he writes all of his capitol letters upside down, so he never leaves home and ends up developing a passion for Ramen. Or should I say Яamen? All because of my laziness to turn the N the right direction.

The Lego wall behind his bed has been a huge help in keeping the Legos organized and off the floor.  The boys are great about sorting their Legos into the containers, although I need to get a few more buckets.  Sounds like I need a trip to IKEA.

And the Giant Legos are one of my favorite useless things I ever made.  And that’s saying something.  I’ve made a lot of useless things.