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Friday, December 1, 2017

How To Make an Outdoor Play Space Affordably

For months now, I’ve been pinning outdoor spaces that allow kids to be kids—spaces that spark their imagination through building, playing and even getting dirty. Little by little it is beginning to come together and I want to show you what I’ve done so far. My goals were:

*  create a fun outdoor space where our grand kids can explore and play
*  use materials that can be used in a variety of ways
*  use as many natural materials as possible
*  make it as economical as possible

My first step was creating a mud kitchen. After looking over lots of ideas, I settled upon this picture as my inspiration:
We already had one old tire that we no longer needed (although I am not sure where it even came from), so I wheeled it over to our fire pit area one afternoon and measured the middle hole. Naturally, I forgot to write down that measurement before going to the store, but I found an oil drain pan in the auto supplies at Wal Mart that ended up being a perfect fit. AND, it was less than $3. I some cinder blocks behind our storage building and a piece of wood that used to be part of a pallet wood sign.
Dollar Tree was the perfect place to find a couple of storage baskets and a package of round food containers. I glued the lids on to serve as "burners" for a stove and gathered some old serving utensils that I no longer needed. We put some nails on the fence to hang the utensils.

Once we added a little sand to the water, the real fun began! Needless to say, it hasn't been this neat since!

Next up was a place to build. Tree trimmers have been working in our neighborhood for weeks, clearing branches from power lines. After seeing this stack of sycamore logs in front of an abandoned house, I talked my husband into helping me load a few to bring home.
I liked this wood because of the smooth bark that would be less likely to harbor splinters. I stood a few up to serve as stepping blocks and have plans to get a couple of the smaller ones chopped into smaller pieces for building with.

I love the way this one is organized, but it might be a while before I have something like that in place.
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Lastly, I went on a search for some type of durable road that could be used and stored outdoors. I have some road tape that we use inside from time to time, but it wasn’t at all practical for outdoor use. . . particularly over gravel. I did find one product on the market that was made of some sort of rubber sheeting and was designed for indoor or outdoor use, but it was very expensive and out of my budget for sure.

There just didn’t seem to be anything on the market that fit my needs, so you guessed it: I made my own.

I keep it outside hanging on the fence and the kids have used it regularly for a month now without any signs of wear and tear at all, other than a little dirt on the back. I even made miniature traffic signs that can be kept in the space as well.
This road set has been such a hit with the kids (ages 18 mos. - 11 years)! They  work both indoors and outdoors and can be arranged in a variety of ways. Another great thing about them is that they are wider than your typical "road tape", allowing for vehicles of different sizes.

I will be adding some road sets to the shop in the next couple of days, just in time for Christmas. If you hop over to my business blog, Dot To Dot Connections, you can sign up for email updates that will let you know when new products are added. You can also follow me on Instagram at both @Lsperki and @DotToDotConnetions.

I still have a few things I'd like to add to the space - perhaps some musical instruments, buildings for the streets and an art station - but, for now, I am certainly enjoying laying in our hammock with the kids play!
Thursday, November 30, 2017

December Instagram Challenge 2017

It is December again and a time that is filled with picture-worthy moments. I have rounded up some prompts for the month that should be fairly easy to capture.  Be sure to use the hashtag #MTMerryAndBright2017 when you post your pictures. I am looking forward to seeing how you celebrate the season!

I think that this will be my last set prompts for a while. I still plan to take a picture-a-day, but want to take a break from creating the prompts. I am looking at a couple of different options and would like your opinion as to which you would prefer:

* Select an overall "theme" for the month and let my photos reflect that them in some way
* Participate in some of the other prompts that are out there, such as those from The Idea Room  , The Wonder Forest, or another site.
* Join Katrina Kennedy's photography prompts which are sent out each week via email
* Each person do whatever suits them

Which would you prefer??

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

StoryWorth - A REALLY Great Gift

I have lots of new posts in the works, but before I complete them, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful gift I received for my birthday. I have had a subscription to StoryWorth on my "wish list" for a while now and was so excited when Jana and Callie (and their families) gave it to me for my birthday!! Granted, I have only been a part for a couple of weeks, but I already LOVE it!

Each week for a year, question prompts are emailed to you. You can respond to the question either by simply hitting reply and typing your story, or calling a number to record your response. The questions can be chosen by the person who gifts the subscription, or StoryWorth will send random questions to you --- questions that you might never have thought to share with your loved ones. Your responses are then emailed to the giver or others that you choose. And the best part . . . at the end of the year, all of your responses are printed and bound into a keepsake book!  Isn't that awesome!!!

Here's a look at my most recent email prompt. You can write as much or as little as you like.

If you are stumped by a question, you can choose a different one, so there really is no pressure to divulge anything you are uncomfortable with. You can edit your responses at any time during the year and even add photos! What a wonderful way to share your story with your children, grandchildren or other loved ones!

I am so excited by this gift that I want to tell everyone about it! It would be such a great gift this time of year, especially for that person who is so hard to buy for. It could even be a great secret project that you work on to complete for someone special! If you are interested in getting this awesome project started, just click on this link for a little savings. I can hardly wait to see what next week's question is about!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


The festivities are now over, but the decorations are still up and costume parts are probably still scattered around. I know for sure that the treat bags are still filled to the brim with candy and toys. We were lucky enough to enjoy Trick-or-Treating with 3 of our grandchildren this year. Ron and his oldest son, Terry, came home from their annual hunting trip to join us before heading back out into the woods.

After preschool, Callie and the boys met Jaylynn, Archer and me at the duck pond to burn off a little excess energy. We let them wear their costumes, hoping to get a few pictures of them as well. (We have to be kind of sneaky about photos these days since they generally do not want to pose for us.)

We played for a while. . . a dinosaur, pumpkin and baby cat.

Then, headed down to the water to feed the ducks my leftover hot dog buns.
BabyD2 was totally enchanted by the ducks and geese and chased them all over the place, hoping to hold one. Callie narrowly saved him from the water at least three times.
At some point, he also realized that we had snuck a tail onto his costume and he wasn't exactly thrilled about that.
Toddler D, however was ALL ABOUT HALLOWEEN this year.

We trick-or-treated at the Norton Art Gallery (before the crowds got too bad, I might add)

Then the parents took the kids to houses on our block, while Ron and I joined the neighbors around the annual Halloween Fire Pit, where we pass out massive amounts of sugar to kids that stop by.
It was such fun to get to experience Halloween through the eyes of these three little goblins!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Another Pumpkin Patch

While I was in South Carolina, Silas and I had several "adventures". One such adventure was a visit to a pumpkin patch. Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and drove to Inman to the Johnson Farm.
After perusing the various offerings, we purchased a ticket for the hayride and then explored the pumpkin fields while we waited for the whistle to begin.
Silas was especially enthralled with the tractor that would be pulling the hayride (no hay, but a trailer with comfortable seating). They driver, Farmer Andrew, helped him climb into the cab. Although he was quite excited about that prospect at first, he approached it much more tentatively after he was  asked if he'd be driving the tractor.
We climbed aboard the trailer and enjoyed a ride through the woods and other fields where storybook characters were set up in simple displays.
Silas commented more than once, "This is fun, Lovey!"
There was a playground set up that he enjoyed after our ride, as well.
When it was time to pick our pumpkin to take home, we loaded up one of the wheelbarrows and headed to an area where I was sure we would also be able to watch the tractor come by.

All the big pumpkins in the field, and this is the one that he picked.

Last, but not least, we visited their barn to see the chickens, goats and donkey.
We spread out our picnic blanket in a grassy area near the parking lot and enjoyed our lunch while watching the tractor. Lunch probably took twice as long as normal because of that tractor, but there was a happy boy eating, so it was worth it! I bought some of their homemade mini donuts for our dessert. YUM!! They were really good---and warm!
The ride back home was easy and I kept Silas busy so that he wouldn't fall asleep in the car. (Having him take his nap uninterrupted at home is just as good for him as it is for Lovey!)Our time together was so fun--I love him so much and wish I could see him every week!! I can't wait until our next "Lovey and Silas Adventure"!

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