Create an impromptu obstacle course (outside and in!)

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It may be #Friyay but I’m already counting down the days til next Wednesday and our weekly #humpdayhangout (aka playgroup). We spend the majority of the time outside and the littles always flock to the sandbox and mud kitchen, however right now my play area is in flux and dismantled so we had to get extra creative this week to keep bodies and minds busy. Cue – the impromptu obstacle course!


Using wooden boards of different lengths, ladders, cones, a saw horse and blanket, cushions, a soccer goal, and a tight rope, + bubbles to celebrate reaching the end, we created a play invitation that everyone wanted to try (over and over again). This is something so simple and opened-ended you could set up at home too (inside and out). Get creative and let me know what you come up with, or even better, send pics!

Scarves | #unexpectedtoys

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A lovely way to add some color to your play space is with scarves – today’s edition of #unexpectedtoys. Easy to thrift and available in allllll the colors, shapes, sizes, and fabrics, they are the perfect addition to all sorts of play. In small world/block play, they can become rivers, beaches, snow on a mountain, a roof for a building, or a blanket for a tired animal. In dramatic play they can be turned into capes, aprons, dresses, hats, tails, and long hair. Add them to your music area and they are the perfect accessory for dancing during jam sessions. We keep a basket in our play space and I always like to add one to the spaces I help curate too. Just make sure to steam/iron out the wrinkles every now and then to keep them looking inviting.

Loose parts in the sandbox | #unexpectedtoys

It was out with the mud pies and stews today, and in with ravine digging, ramp building, and car racing. Today’s #unexpectedtoys were wood offcuts and old bricks. I took cues from my oldest’s spontaneous play (ravine digging) and brought over some loose parts I thought might extend his play arc. They were met with enthusiasm, and with a little trial and error and lots of big ideas, my boys worked together to build a ‘car racing water slide’ that kept them busy alllllll morning! #winwin

⋒ Don’t have a sandbox? No worries. Loose parts like scrap wood and bricks make for great play anywhere outside (and they’re free!). Build fairy houses for small world play, obstacle courses for gross motor play, faux fire pits for dramatic play. Your child’s imagination has no limit!

Sneak Peek | Evie + John’s new play space

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A sneak peek of a fun play space we finished installing today. The family had recently moved into a new home and were trying to find ways to entice their kids down to the basement play space. The bunk bed from their old house was being used for play (and storage 😉 in the room, so we repurposed it by adding a railing up top to create a loft. The bottom became a cozy reading nook with added bookshelves, reading lamp, and twinkle lights. My most favorite addition however is the pulley system in the loft, which is controlled with the turn of a ship’s steering wheel. And at the end of the rope is a basket for all your little ones treasures (of course)!

Mud Kitchen Treasures (thanks, autumn)

Autumn is wonderful for so many reasons – cute vintage knits, no mosquitoes, zero reason to shave, and plentiful nature treasures for your mud kitchen*! We have an old metal oven as the heart of our mud kitchen, and my kids love it when they find a play invitation laid out with new natural goodies. All these lovelies were picked up on our walk/bike ride this morning. Zero effort (minus bulging pockets). Zero cost. Huge inspiration and magic. Note the look on my oldest’s face when I told him he could have at it post picture taking. #priceless🍁🍃

*Don’t have a mud kitchen? No worries! Bring these babies inside and see how they transform your child’s dramatic/small world/block/art play (all the play!). So next time you’re walking, bring a basket or big pockets. 😉

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Squeeze Pouch Caps | #unexpectedtoys

In a new section we’re calling #unexpectedtoys, I am going to share some of my favorite everyday items I love to include as toys in play spaces. Today’s unexpected toy is (🥁drumroll please) SQUEEZE POUCH CAPS. I prefer the round variety, but it’s whatever takes your fancy. 🙂

They are plentiful (my kids love anything in a pouch), colorful, and super open-ended. Right now we’re using our cap collection in our play kitchen as food (they are great to pick up with tongs and spin in a salad spinner). They sometimes find themselves in small world play as stepping stones, rocks, or treasure. We use them as a tool with clay and play dough. They are perfect in a low mess mud kitchen as an ingredient to add to stews. The possibilities are literally endless.

So the next time your kids are binging on apple sauce pouches, give the caps a rinse, put them out as a play invitation, and see where the magic takes them.

Thrifting 101.

I love to thrift and I do it a lot. Thrift stores are 100% my happy place. Walking in feels exciting and like I’m about to embark on a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find, but I usually walk out with something magical. However not everyone feels this way. For lots of folks thrift stores can feel overwhelming and like an endless cavern of crap, which let’s be honest, they kind of are – haha. But in this age of everyone needing to do their part for the environment, plus wanting to budget friendly, while also desiring an original ‘Insta-looking’ aesthetic, thrift stores are where it’s at! So at the risk of spilling all my secrets and everyone rushing out to buy all the treasures, I thought I’d share some hot tips on how to make a trip to the thrift feel a little more do-able.

  • First step is to go in with a plan. You obviously can’t shop for a super specific product, but you can go in saying I am looking for baskets with no handles to fit on my shelf, or I’m looking for animal figurines for small world play. This way you are focussed, can hit the specific aisles, and then can get out before you’re swallowed whole.
  • Be open minded. Sometimes you will find an item that with a bit of zhushing can meet your wildest dreams. I talk more about how to do that here.
  • In this same vain, don’t buy junk or broken things. It’s one thing to have to add some pom poms to hide a blemish, and the other to buy a toy or item that just looks like rubbish.
  • Think outside the box and look for unexpected toys and materials. I love the big section of bags filled with knick knacks and kitchen utensils.
  • Look at the electronics for old phones, keyboards, and joy sticks.
  • The linens for vintage crochet blankets and other fun old bedding.
  • Housewares for storage, from fun tins and containers, to wood bowls and baskets.
  • When shopping for toys, go in with a list so you don’t walk out with things you do not need. I have a list of certain toys I always look for. Don’t buy anything new until you have organized your child’s toys and inventoried what they really need.
  • Prioritize aesthetic! For example, when shopping for mud kitchen supplies, opt for the fun colorful or floral pot over the basic silver one. It might cost $1-2 more, but it’s so worth it for look and appeal.
  • Big mirrors are an amazing way to open up a space and make it feel larger, inside and out. Thrift stores sell them for super cheap! I love to spray paint old ugly wood mat white for a clean modern look. It’s worth the time and investment.
  • Always skim the artworks for pieces that would make your decor pop – I’ve found some amazing painted vintage mirrors and artworks in my many visits.
  • Go on sale days! Sign up for the free memberships and feel like you’re getting an even better deal than you usually are.
  • If possible, going during work hours (especially on sale days). It’s much less busy and overwhelming.
  • Take a snack and some water – sustenance.
  • If you take your kids, hit the books/toy section first and let them choose something to take home (my rule is nothing broken, nothing junky). This toy will then keep them entertained while you shop for your goodies.

And if all else fails, just hire me to do your shopping and treasure hunting for you! 🙂