East Sac Edible

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Children’s Garden Play Space

One question I got from many visitors on the garden tour was, “What is this for?”

DSC_2834I think a lot of people thought it was so sort of shade structure for my plants. Well it is a shade structure but it isn’t for plants. It is for children! My back yard doesn’t have very much shade. Actually it has none. There are no big trees on my property or overhang from my neighbors. My daughter is loving being outside but I did want her to have a shady place she could retreat to if the sun was just too much. So I made this tent for her. It was the simplest design and very easy to make. If you want to make your own check out the instructions for your very own DIY A-frame tent. Actually this design is so simple that I might make a few more to fit over my garden beds to shade new seedlings! The frame collapses very easily because there are no nails or screws so it would work nicely in my garden since I don’t have a lot of storage space.

20140912_094224After observing my daughter in the garden, I have noticed that she loves picking up small things like the chive heads, flowers, rocks and especially the marbles in the bee bath. I am pretty lucky that my daughter doesn’t try to put too much in her mouth but I don’t want her to be playing with marbles just yet. Instead I set up her very own play space so she can freely play while I garden without me needing to hover over her.

I had a bunch of thrift store “sand toys” that I had bought for my niece when we go down to the playground. They include Jello mold tins, bundt tins, measuring cups and kitchen spoons. (Side note: It is amazing how “real” materials can offer children a different kind of play. First of all the sandbox at the park is filled with broken plastic sand toys which are dangerous and unattractive. My alternative of thrift store finds gets much more attraction from the neighborhood children. Also my niece and I picked out every item and discussed whether it would be a good toy. I had to ask her guiding questions like, “What materials would be safest in the sandbox, especially if there are babies?” and “How many of these tins should we get to make sure we bring enough to share?” She was completely part of the process which made the “toys” even more special to her.)

DSC_2890 I reused the sand toys in the backyard space. I added various rocks, decorative balls made from natural materials, dried bean shells, and dried flowers. I also planted some herbs and flowers around the area so she can freely pick. I want to move all these materials into a more permanent space by the tent, maybe a dirt or mulch pit for her to play in but the sprinklers would be a problem. I am still trying to figure the best placement for these spaces! I am really inspired by this space so I hope to create something like this over time with my daughter so we can spend time together in the garden.DSC_2891 DSC_2892 DSC_2893 DSC_2894



Play Kitchen Revamp

Even though this blog is mainly about gardening, one reason why I grow my own food and cook at home is so my daughter has first hand knowledge about where her food comes from. My daughter already loves going into the garden. She particularly loves the chive flowers and picking strawberries. Inside the house I have been working on a play area for her which allows for her to play out some of our everyday adventures in the garden and kitchen. So bare with me… this post is slightly indirectly about gardening. This is mainly going to be about kitchen play.


A few months ago I was lucky enough to score this Plan Toys play kitchen off of freecycle. Yup, that’s right folks… I got this thing completely for free. It definitely was dirty and even came with a few spiders. The wood was a little warped in some places from being left outside on a porch. The lady that gave it to me said her sons got a few good years of playing with it but she just didn’t have the energy to redo it. DSC_1860 DSC_1861

I first cleaned it up a bit just with some wet wipes. I took apart the entire thing and I sanded down some of the wood. I used Amy Howard’s Chalk Paint to give it a new face lift. I used Ballet White for the trim and doors and Lime Lime for the face. At first I tried to paint around the dials to keep the detail work but in the end I didn’t like how the orange clashed with the green. Also I wanted a streamlined look. DSC_2689DSC_2686I did several coats of each color to get a good finish. I also did some touch up paint in some areas since it got a bit dinged up being in the high foot traffic area of the garage. The top part of the kitchen had a shelf and a rack but some screws were missing and I decided to go without the shelf since I liked the look better.DSC_2690

After the few coats of paint I used Amy Howard’s Antique Wax to finish the piece. The wax will help protect the paint and will hopefully be a bit water resistant as well. I just lightly painted the wax on with a brush, let it dry for about 30 minutes and then buffed it with a clean old cotton t-shirt.DSC_2692 DSC_2693

I also had to fix the doors. There is an oven on one side and a refrigerator on the other. The kitchen came with only two plastic dowels to hold the door in place which meant that one door wasn’t attached at all. My solution was a 45 cent one. I got a 1/4 inch dowel from the hardware store, cut it to match the length of the plastic one. However, the width of the dowel was too big so I spent time striping the dowel down with a rasp (carefully as to not rasp my fingers) and then sanding it until it fit.DSC_2809

The inside shelving of the kitchen was water damaged, warped and overall pretty gross. I decided I didn’t want to paint it so I opted for removable wall paper. I wanted something that would pop from the inside but nothing too crazy. I ended up ordering this Tribal Chevron wall paper. It was a bit pricey but I justified the cost because I got the kitchen for free. Did I mention that it was free?

DSC_2811 Over the past several months I have been collecting some kitchen items for my daughter to use while I worked on the kitchen itself. We went to thrift shops and found some wooden bowls, and awesome measuring cups that she can pretend are saucepans. We also went “shopping” in our own home and found a teak container to hold cooking utensils and a jar full of wine corks. I found a sweet Etsy shop called Gems from Before where I bought some wooden bowls, plates, egg holders, wooden acorns, crab apples and eggs. Before I introduced the play kitchen, my daughter used a wine crate as her cooking surface and spent a lot of time transferring the acorns from one bowl to another with the wooden spoon.

DSC_2812 DSC_2814 DSC_2813The only thing left to do is to replace the burners so I have been on the look out for coasters or trivets that would work in the space. Over the next several months we will continue to transform the space around the kitchen. I am thinking of putting in a mirror and hooks along the wall to add some aprons and dress up materials. Also I will be on the look out for some more natural materials to add to the space like buckeyes for her pretend cooking. Overall I love how this project turned out and I am glad a simple piece of furniture will get many more years of play!DSC_2901 DSC_2902 DSC_2904