Posts Tagged ‘House and Farm’

Making A Playful Learning Space

September 18th, 2011 by zoe 9 Comments

With growing children in a smallish house I have to stay on top of how we play. I am constantly rethinking our space and shifting things around for the children’s ever-changing growth and development.
Recently I became inspired by the realization the my boys don’t so much play with “toys” but instead prefer to “work” at tasks. It made me think about all the learning they do at home and how much better they play when their “tools” are set up properly. Clean, forward facing presentation makes all the difference.

I have been super inspired by how creating a this desk has totally changed the way I work. I simply love to sit there and be productive, I feel clear and motivated by having a well designed space. After reading this new book Playful Learning by Mariah Bruehl I hoped to create a learning space  for the children that would be similarly inspiring.  Her website is chock full of ideas!  Excited, I set out to commandeer this corner of the living room to be our new Playful Learning Space.

First I painted the walls in the entire living room a hue of gray that I “mostly” like.  A story that involved MANY paint samples and those late night “it’s half painted but I’m not sure I like it” doubts. But that is a story for another day!

We are still working out the types of learning toys we will welcome into our new space but currently there is

  • A basket for nature watching, binoculars,magnifying lenses bug boxes and nature guide books.
  • A manual typewriter, bought at a tag sale for $5,  for finding letters and making words come together.
  • Sketch paper and an array of colored pencils, crayons and pastels displayed at their level for self inspired art projects.
  • A toy shelf that partitions our learning space -  for holding the favorite toys of the moment.
  • A nature table bowl, made with the guidance of my friend Kristin, using a technique similar to this.
  • A globe for — seeing the world.
  • Shelves for storing our science books.
  • Math and sorting games printed and found here.
  • A tiny vase for holding the feathers we collect on our nature walks.
  • A magnetic strip with metal clips for hanging our freshly composed projects.
  • Lots of handmade  journals for them to fill with their thoughts and stories.

I moved most of the more commercial toys to the children’s room and Waldorf -ed out this downstairs space. It makes a HUGE difference in the nature of the games invented. Because even though batman is a “good guy” he still seems to start a lot of trouble at our house!

All in all, these changes have shifted the energy in the room and the way the boys play together. They seem to find a project and get started at it all by themselves.

They seem more focused, peaceful, engaged and …..  they clean up all by themselves!!!!

We simply LOVE it.


Mushroom Fun House

September 9th, 2011 by zoe 2 Comments

Here in the Northeast we have had a sea of rain fall on us, it just keeps pouring and pouring.  With all this rain the boys and I had a day of mushroom play. We put on our rain jackets and went on a Rain Hunt through the forest. I got the idea of collecting and photographing the mushroom varieties from our young neighbor Neice. The photographs taken of her mushrooms were crazy beautiful!! I did all the collecting with gloves on. In all honestly I was a little scared of some Edwardian fate be falling me, a sad tale of woe.  “Alas, she mistakenly plucked the dreaded Mushroom of Death, her children miss her so!”

I would love to learn more about them and hope to be able to use the photos to identify them once we borrow some field guides from the library.

We were so inspired by our real mushrooms we decided to make this mushroom house out of cardboard.

All of our little animal figures are sliding down the chimney and peeking out the doors of this giant mushroom house. Now, I best be getting to work cleaning the pond out of my basement or we will have a mushroom (not so fun!) house of our own!!!!

Oh, one more thing -

I am kinda new to this blog world and sometimes I am uncertain when to toot my own horn. In the last few months I have had some really cool sites feature some of my work – it’s always fun to have new visitors and this kind of recognition from established sites re-inspires me to carry on.

You can find some of my projects featured at

One Pretty Thing

The Crafty Crow



Tag Sale Bonaza

August 23rd, 2011 by zoe 4 Comments

Lately we have been finding treasures on the side of the road. Tag sale dump piles are sometimes better than the real event.  There is something marvelous about FREE – as long as it doesn’t find its way straight to clutter!

This giant piece of “art” was a side of the road find. Nothing about it screamed quality, the frame was crappy & the print was warped and mildewed. But a big light frame was just what I needed for this -

I have been dreaming about creating a menu board for the kitchen ever since I saw them on Pinterest a few months ago. There isn’t much wall space in the kitchen but the big frame was perfect for the side of the refrigerator.

I cut a piece of plywood left over from my headboard project to fit the frame and painted it with chalkboard paint. The frame was perked up with a couple of coats of spray paint.  I stuck self adhesive velcro on the fridge & frame at the top and bottom – it holds the menu board amazingly well!

I am hoping that we can actually USE it to prevent the 3pm “what the #*$#*%*  is for dinner panic” that seems to be a constant around here. Also, I was kinda hoping it would help us cook something NEW each week rather than just rotating the same fav’s over and over and over. Now wouldnt that be all FANCY LIKE!

Road side find number two is my new boot box.  The roof over our porch doesn’t quite keep the rain out – so we put muddy farm boots in the new boot box. Because muddy farm boots just aint welcome in the house! The kids helped to give it a new coat of paint, which kept them happily occupied for close to an hour!

And lastly, this glass block vase came home with the boys and we  …. filled it with the last of the summer flowers.

Good by till next year, we will miss you summer flowers!




August 20th, 2011 by zoe 2 Comments

The air shifts in August. The ground starts to cool and in the mornings dew hangs onto everything.

The spider webs create such beauty. I’d like to think fairy’s have been here!

On a crafty note – I got a day last week to trace out some new patterns for hand stitched t-shirt clothing. Looking good so far! Still have to work out a few hitches but I am hoping to be able to crank out some new work for fall.

This drop waisted skirt is so cute and comfy on! And the hand stitched baby pants, need a model – I’ll have to drum up a little babe for those.

Mellow Yellow

August 19th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

Feeling all groovy for yellow lately. Painting things saffron and daffodil!

Not so much mellow, just gaga for yellow.

Things get a bit wild and wonky for us this time of year. I havent been able to work in my studio for weeks and it makes me a bit CRANKY, I just want to start my fall stitching. My main craft fair is only 7 weeks away and I am still deciding WHAT to MAKE, let alone ordering supplies and actually producing all the work!!! Yikes.

The Mr. is back to school readying for a 100 student preorientaion camping trip – that’s a whole lotta GORP, sleeping bags and tents! Hustling it all together while planning for the new school year …. makes him a bit CRANKY.

Oh, and the children are sick of me and my bag of tricks. They would like to spend their days with Mary Poppins or Samantha from Bewitched or anyone who can wave a wand or wink to make all their demands and wishes instantly come true!! And they are children, so of course, they are CRANKY.

The washing machine is also feeling a bit CRANKY. Apparently overwhelmed by the onslaught of laundry, and in need of a vacation, it has begun to make a noise that sounds like a 747 preparing for take off.

Washing machines that WORK are mighty nice. I have taken it apart and it appears to need a new “bouncy, shock type thingy” that holds up the drum. The appliance repair man said this particular brand will not sell parts to appliance repairmen and he can not help me fix it. I must call the corporate headquarters to arrange a service.  Note to self – NEVER BUY this particular brand (LG) AGAIN!

I am feeling all groovy for yellow, but could use a little more mellow!


Garden Psychology

August 11th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

What I really meant was Garden Reverse Psychology!

We actually aren’t trying to grow vegetables, we are trying to grow pigweed and crab grass!

Shhhh don’t tell the carrots, beans or the squash – they don’t perform well under pressure! They are hiding out under mountains of weeds just doing their thing, happily growing without a care in the world.

Now on the other hand, the tomatoes and swiss chard have completely thrown in the towel, they prefer an adoring audience and have withered in obscurity, heart-broken that fame and fortune did not find them.

Sometimes you can get caught up thinking you can do it ALL. I was talking with some dear friends last night about how you have to make choices if you are going to live a bit more peacefully. Find time for your passions but perhaps let a few things go – release yourself from perfection in every direction!

I love beautiful flowering fruitful gardens but right now I have way too much on my plate to make it happen. And that is just fine with me.

The vegetable garden is a lawn of weeds and oddly enough …

By a small miracle we grew some carrots!

And some beans!

Some years, we really have had a full and bountiful garden, but this year ….

it looks like this!

Of course if you look carefully, growing right there in the middle is a happy healthy child.

A fine garden indeed!