Fancy Nancy, Perfectionism and Shoebox Dioramas

I am Ali and I am a total perfectionist.  This is my confession...

We are big fans of puppies around here.  And, by "we", I mean that my husband and I enjoy the puppies that are alive and breathing outside of our home (at parks, Grandma's house, etc.).  The "we" that is my children is in love with everything puppy, living and stuffed.  [Except for the creepy taxodermied kind, if they exist.  That is creepy and gross and would totally scar them for life.  And, the frozen kind too.  Let them move on to "the farm" already!]  

When we stumbled on the Fancy Nancy book about the posh puppy, my daughter was smitten in a big way.  She gets Fancy Nancy.  They speak the same language.  They have the same glitter-loving-tutu-wearing-pink-obsessed-desire-to-be-fancy-at-all-times blood pumping through their veins.  Fancy Nancy had her at hello. Logan has been saving her randomly earned coins for a very long time.  Saving for the posh puppy.  "Frenchy."  Every time we would cruise the aisles at Target we would have discussions about Frenchy and why she would be the very, very best thing ever for Logan's birthday.  I suggested that she continue to save her money and buy her when she had enough.  This week we emptied the piggy bank and counted up all the coins in there and low and behold, there was enough.  Logan was walking on sunshine and you could almost hear the choir of angels singing the "AHHHHHHH" song as she held her very own Frenchy for the first time.

While reading the posh puppy book (yet again) today, we noticed on one of the pages that Frenchy in the book has a dog house made out of a cardboard box.  I thought to myself, "Kaching! [like the sound of a cash register] I bet we could get a lot of quiet time play out of something like that."  I knew that we had a huge diaper box in the garage that would be perfect for the job!  I had a plan and a vision.  I was going to keep this simple and knock it out quickly so that Logan could play with it during her quiet time.  

I started working on the box.  It was a really easy project.  Well, it "was" an easy project until the perfectionist in me took over.  I could have stopped after simply cutting the upside down "U" front door in the front with my exacto knife.  But, it looked so "boxy".  What it needed was an A framed roof. I could have stopped after making the pitched roof out of clothes pins and ribbon.  I totally could have stopped there.  

I could have stopped after covering the entire thing with old scrapbooking paper in shades of pink.  By this point in time, Logan and I were working on it together.  Tearing pieces of scrapbooking paper and scotch taping them onto the "dog house".  It really did not take long to cover it and it was the highlight of her day getting to use so much scotch tape.  I could have stopped there.

I could have stopped after cutting out the windows - a square for each side of the house.  -So that both kids could see what was happening in the dog house at the same time.  And, so that poor Frenchy could get some air in there.  I could have stopped there.

I could have stopped after securing all corners and edges with clear packing tape.  Sure, it was a bit of a safety issue.  Some of the edges were a bit rough and could give a wicked paper cut.  I could have stopped there.

I could have stopped after adding the little sign with "Frenchy" written on it, and with decorative dowels flanking her name.  It really looked like a dog house and it would for sure provide hours of enjoyment now.  I could have stopped there.

But, those places that had packing tape on them looked so good with their shine.  So, there I am - sitting on the couch at 11:15 PM painting layer after layer of mod podge over the entire house. I am having total flash backs of me in 2nd grade begging my mom to let me stay up "just a little longer" while I finish up the final details on the rocks in my dinosaur diorama due the following day.  [Do you remember making these?] 

Yes, it will have uniform shine.  Yes, it will last longer because it now has a protective coating.  I am definitely stopping now.  

Here is the finished chateu a la Frenchy.

[If you dwell in the same perfectionist camp that I dwell in, and if you want to make your very own dog house out of a cardboard box (I mean, who doesn't), I have a couple of suggestions for you.  Before doing the pitched roof, line the inside of the box with wrapping paper or decorative paper.  It looks so very shabby through the windows and the door opening now. And, use the mod podge from the beginning.  I should have just done that from the start.  On my version, the paper is slick on the outside [very fancy], but rippled because it does not have mod podge on the underside.]

{If you are a psychologist looking for a test subject dealing with issues of all kinds, please feel free to post your information in the comments.}


And, like mother, like daughter.  I gave Logan her dog house this morning, and after the shrieks of delight subsided, she examined every square inch and had a few suggestions.

-"Mama, don't you think we could choose some of your little squares of blankies [i.e.: fabric scrap squares] to make curtains for the windows?"

-"And, Mama, would it be so, so special to put some of those little ball frinzies [i.e.: pom-pom fringe] on the bottom of the curtains?"

So, apparently my craftiness and perfectionism is rubbing off...  yikes, I am quite nervous about those dioramas coming our way in the elementary years.


  1. That is so spiffy!

    I bought a Fancy Nancy book for my niece for her birthday - didn't realize there were more in the series. She's absolutely smitten with it and now I'm wanting to buy them for my girls as well.

  2. Yes, this is perfectionism at its best looks amazing, you had fun doing it and Logan is in love with it. For all of those non-crafty moms out there like me, find a friend like Ali, pay her if you have to, and have her do this for your child. Or....just buy the closest thing you can find. Making something like this would be torture for me and all I can do is marvel at the creativity. When you're ready to create a story and drama surrounding Fifi and her house, give me a call and I'll help create Fifi the Musical.

  3. We're huge Fancy Nancy fans too.

    Have you read Pinkilicious yet? It's another favorite.

  4. You are crazy. I can never let my kids know you made it or they will expect the same of me. I'll tell them its from where they think everything good comes from - Target.

  5. -Jenn - that is so true... I did have fun doing this. I find that I really thrive on getting to have a creative outlet. This was one of those times!

    -Loraine - Pinkalicious is one of our favorites too! I love the illustrations. The "Pinkalicious" character is a tad too sassy for my taste, but it gives us an opportunity to talk about how it does not sound very nice to talk that way while reading and the story is just so stinking cute! It is also my sons favorite book too. And nearly every night, after lights are out in my kids' shared room I hear discussions of what their birthday cupcakes will be like. The Pinkalicious cupcakes are the desired choice for the moment. :)

    -Sona - you are funny! Your girls can just borrow it!


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