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Kid-friendly Backyard Planning

13 Dec

We had our first snow over the weekend, so, naturally, I bought Emilia her first swing set. As we head into winter here in New England, it might seem counterintuitive to buy it now, but the fact is, it’s long overdue. We fully intend to set it up as soon as it arrives, too, because we know Emilia will LOSE HER MIND. She LOVES the playground asks to go now matter the weather. Plus, with the mild winter we’re predicted to have, thanks to La Niña, I feel pretty confident that we’ll get a lot of use out of it this winter.

The picture above isn’t a swing set obviously, but it was discovered while I did some swing set reconnaissance, and it might have inspired an entirely new direction for our ongoing yard rehab project this summer. But more on that later.

For a while now, I’ve had it in my head that we needed to grade (level) our backyard because it’s actually pretty uneven all over. Since our first summer in the new place, it’s been on our To Do list to grade and re-seed the lawn. We had a few hurdles to get past before we could even tackle it though — like grinding the stump just past our patio and chopping down a very overgrown and messy looking hemlock.

The next step SHOULD be repairing our fence (we have a few poles leaning into our yard), grading, and seeding, but I just can’t deprive my child of a “playground” any longer. The poor kid points to every swing set we pass on our walks in the stroller and sadly says: Mama, I want one of those. It’s heart shattering I tell you.


I started to really look for “the set” around Thanksgiving, after many months of stalking Craigslist for a deal on one of those wooden sets. Specifically, a cedar one. But then after a lot of soul searching — and even wrangling my brother in to pick up the pieces of one— I realized that those wood sets with the little club houses just aren’t used as hard as the plain old metal swing sets.

My mom gave me that advice early on in my search and remembering back to when my two siblings and I were growing up, we had a set with two swings, a glider and a little two seater deal… and it was awesome. That really helped focus my search. I want the set to be something Emilia can enjoy right now, but I also want it to be something she can grow into, too.  Right now, the only things she likes to use at the playground are the swings and the see-saw.

After reading through hundreds of reviews, I was a bit surprised to find a really affordable one by Sportspower. I’d assumed a good set would be at least $800 or $900, but the majority of reviewers for this set which is under $500, confirm that although it’s incredibly difficult to assemble and there were a few issues with missing pieces, nearly all of them lead with: My son or daughter LOVES this set. I can stomach the risk, but I’ll just be incredibly careful with who we purchase from and we will just be meticulous as we unpack the boxes. There is a great variety — multiple swings, a glider which seats two, plus a saucer swing which I’ve NEVER seen before AND the trampoline which we know she’ll just go nuts over.

I added a bucket swing for Caroline although Emilia technically does still favor them. Hoping a swing set in the backyard will encourage her to branch out!

outdoor chalk
Anyways, all this backyard planning has reminded me to revisit my ongoing quest to solve the problem of: how to make all the backyard “kid” stuff look a little more presentable. This lead to my looking for backyard inspiration, which resulted in my finding about 10 other backyard projects I now want to take on, not limited to the above AWESOME outdoor chalk board, the tree fort I added at the very start of this post, and finally, the mud pie making station below.

mud pie kitchen

I’d wanted to set this up for her last summer actually but I’d just had Caroline and couldn’t get it together before summer ended. I should mention that Emilia comes from a long line of mud pie-making women. Her Nana was quite the mud pie baker and used to feed them to her German Shepherd. I love the design of the station above. I bet it would be really fun sourcing all of the pots and pans and “supplies” for her to use too — think, rocks and acorns and different leaves and grasses for all her creations. I can’t wait!

Will keep you posted on the setup of the swing set. The reviewers suggested we purchase the anchoring kit, but I didn’t after once civil engineer’s comments to try an alternate option. Going to Home Depot to investigate that soon. Wish us luck! And I’d love to hear what you have for your kids in your backyard.

 

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10 Fall Activities to Do With Your Active Toddler in New England

16 Oct

FullSizeRender 18I claim that every season in New England is my favorite, but fall might just be my favorite. The golden light, the foliage, the decor, the baked goods, and the style potential…? It checks all the boxes for me!

Here are the top 10 activities we have on our fall bucket list:

  1. A trip to the pumpkin patch. It’s an annual tradition to visit with one of my best friends from college and its amazing to see how our families have grown through the years.
  2. Nature scavenger collection. No matter the season, a daily walk is on our to do list and a snap to keep a toddler entertained if you provide a bucket for treasure collection. In the fall, it’s usually acorns, pinecones, sticks, pretty leaves, and dried seed heads.
  3. Pumpkin bread baking. Emilia loves helping me bake and starting her young has helped teach her precision and patience. Me too!
  4. Mosiac paper plate pumpkin. My toddler absolutely loves any crafts involving a glue stick and handling the small pieces of paper is great for developing fine motor skills.
  5. Go on a hayride. I don’t think there are many vehicles my toddler doesn’t love, from tractors to garbage trucks to air planes so this is a must for her.
  6. Decorate the house. From stick-on window decals to helping plant mums, there is so much learning potential with little tasks like these.
  7. Paint a pumpkin and compost the pumpkin guts. Emilia loves to check out the worms when we turn the compost heap. She has her own little gardening gloves and trowel and loves to plant seeds. Oh the learning!
  8. Visit the park to check out the foliage. The days are numbered before the temperature really drops, so we’re getting our fill of outdoor fun before we have to really bundle up.
  9. Apple taste test. You never know what’s going to taste good until you try. We talk about the flavor differences and see what can be improved with a dusting of cinnamon. You can then graduate to providing different “dips” and toppings. We like almond butter sprinkled with chia seeds and cottage cheese with a little maple syrup.
  10. Stuff a scare crow. As you work, it provides a great opportunity to practice naming anatomy and pieces of clothing as well as thinking creatively. What can we use for a head? What would make good eyes? (Think: a pumpkin, sticks and acorns, etc)

    I’d love to hear some of your favorite fall activities. Is there anything you do that is specific to where you live, kid-friendly or otherwise? 

DIY Buffet Rehab Inspiration

14 Feb

dining-room-buffet-ideasvia Phonenix Restoration

Ages and ages ago my husband and I inherited an old dining room set from my husband’s grandmother that I’ve been dying to to rework with some new paint and hardware ever since. Inspiration struck recently when I stumbled across the above image via Phoenix Restoration (based in Seattle) of this hot pink lacquer buffet and now I’m itching to get going. Isn’t the above just gorg? I’m drooling over the styling too. Love those preppy navy and white striped shades. Hubba hubba.

As much as I adore a shot of hot pink, I’m thinking a more toned down palette that reworks the hot pink/navy blue/white/metallic gold accent will work beautifully with the overall decor scheme I’ve been working through in my head so I landed on a navy blue or blue gray tone for the piece.

After a quick Google Image Search for “navy blue buffet” followed quickly by a Pinterest search for the same, here we have my favorite inspiration photos for this project:

navy-dresser-4via Vintage Refined Decor on Etsy

navy-dresser-2
navy-dresser-diy

navy-dresser-3
choosing-navy-paint-colors-text2
Interestingly, I’d always had it in my mind that Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy would be the right choice for this project after seeing so many examples of it in rooms as we decided on paint colors for our own home, but after viewing a number of refinished wood furniture, I decided I liked a more blue-gray shade for less severity. In the photo above, the Newburyport Blue is another contenter I was really impressed with after a lot of image searching through Google. In fact, the first of the batch of the blue buffet inspo photos is actually painted with that same color. What a difference a white balanced camera setting makes and good lighting, right?

This actually brings up a really important tip to remember when you approach any painting project and that is to carefully consider (and test out) how your paint selection will look in all kinds of light situations. Luckily, our dining room where this buffet will live has two enormous windows along and the room opens to the living room which has near-all-day sunshine, so I’m not worried about the color appearing too navy.

Hooray for selecting a paint color! Now to purchase a respirator so I can paint while I’m pregnant and decide if I want to chance not sanding the piece. Oh — and hardware selection. That’s a fun part I’m excited about.

I’ll keep you posted as it rolls along.