Vintery, Mintery

A little crazy, a lot of fun.

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Let’s Build a Playground!


I’m off to Ethiopia! The new care center at my adoption agency desperately needs a functional playspace. Currently the care center houses about 25 kids of all ages waiting for their families. And this yard is the only outdoor space available to the kids with NO TOYS!

So I decided to fly out to Addis and create a playspace. The care for the kids is excellent, but the staff is busy processing adoptions and giving the kids a playground is not high on the list of priorities in terms of time or money.

I’m hoping to create a multi-functional space appealing to kids from ages 2 to 10, including the following elements:

  • Sand play
  • Sensory elements
  • “Loose parts” (for great information on the benefits of playing with loose pieces click here)
  • Water play & water wall
  • Climbing structure
  • Swings if there is space (the yard is tiny!)
  • Imaginative paint for DIY games on the ground
  • Tetherball
  • Outdoor net for badminton, volleyball
  • Soccer goal
  • Basketball
  • Some small private nooks for huddling up solo or in small groups

My goal is to raise $2500 for this project to cover material cost, local construction labor in Ethiopia, and for shipping items over that are difficult to purchase in-country.

Additionally, I am looking for donations of the following:

  • Used climbing rope – DONATED!
  • Mexican-style nylon hammock
  • Rock climbing holds – 20 pcs
  • Abacus – DONATED!
  • Basketballs, rubber/outdoor
  • Heavy-duty handballs or playground balls
  • Foam pogo jumpers from Playthings International
  • Carabiners
  • Shade Cloth
  • Duct Tape
  • Packing Tape
  • Basketball Hoop
  • Volleyball Net
  • Tetherball
  • Parachute Cord
  • 2″ PVC Elbow fittings
  • Heavy Duty Vinyl Beanbags
  • Beanbag toss net – DONATED!

If you have any of these items taking up space in your garage and you live in the Los Angeles area, let me know by sending a note to jaime goodrich {at} yahoo {dot} com and I’ll come pick them up!

Don’t live in LA?  Please consider a cash donation!  Even $5 will help us purchase paint and sand!  Thank you!

Donate Button with Credit Cards


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Create Better Blocks

I have a really nice set of hardwood blocks.  But I was about to throw out some floor samples and suddenly it occured to me that these would make great additions to the blocks.


So I added:

  • A rubber floor sample
  • A piece of synthetic grass
  • A few larger pieces of pine (8″ wide cut into various lengths)
  • Some scrap samples left over from my sister’s gate – very dense, dark hardwood already stained


M had a great time making garages and putting the cars on pedestals.  Very mid-century design and a lot more creative than just a set of blocks.


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Pimp Your Play Kitchen


Play kitchens are expensive.  I had resolved to make one out of cardboard boxes when the timing seemed right.  However, after watching the boy play with some play kitchens at a preschool we tried out, I decided that the whole idea of playing with a non-functional sink was probably not nearly as fun as playing with a real sink.

To quote M, “Mommy, why doesn’t this sink work?”


So I built a small box around an 18 gal Rubbermaid container.


The top of the sink is a piece of scrap melamine MDF with a hole cut out to fit an IKEA TROFAST storage tray.  I cut a hole in the tray (which was no easy task) and hot glued a drain into it.  Lots of hot glue.  The IKEA peeps don’t like their plastic to be easily cut by irritated moms with dull jigsaws.  I recommend finding an alternative.


The faucet is a PVC toilet fitting sprayed silver.


Then I ran pond tubing through that and stuck a cheap tabletop fountain pump in the Rubbermaid and voila!  $32 later a functional recirculating sink.


Hours of fun indoors or out.


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Why not make a giant ball pit?

What do you do with a two-year-old in a tiny one-bedroom apartment?

Construct a ball pit, of course.

I built a simple frame out of 2×8’s stacked together.  They are just connected with some braces so that they are easy to dismantle.


I sized the pit to fit exactly the size of a twin mattress.  There is a piece of 1×2 Douglas fir screwed on both long sides to support bed slats (purchased from IKEA) and then the mattress goes on top.


I wanted about 12 full inches of balls.  Some simple math: 1500 balls.  Ordered!


But, when they came, two problems emerged.  One, I put the balls directly on top of the carpet.  This somehow doesn’t feel right.  So I pulled them all back out and stuck two yoga mats underneath.  Removing all the balls is a hassle, so yoga mats should go down first.


The second issue was that while the kids were having a blast adults would sink to the bottom.  This ruins the ball pit experience – you need to have at least one layer of balls to feel buoyant so back on the phone to order some more.  I actually was able to score an extra 300 from various parents eager to get rid of the balls (they are far less fun when you just have 100).  1800 is the critical number, but it does overflow with adults.


Rules of the ball pit: no eating or drinking.  Those balls are hard to clean!


Thumbs up for this project.  I use it more than the boy!



IKEA Hack: Kura Bed into Modern Cabin

The Kura bed is a perfect loft bed except for the fact that it’s remarkably ugly.  True, IKEA sells a tent top, but with a jigsaw, two pieces of plywood, and a scrap piece of 1X2 pine, you can have so much more.

This bed is inspired from the Lil Cabine from Anders Paris, which is insanely beautiful.  However, expensive and far taller than a normal 8′ American ceiling can fit.  So I modified the design a little to add only two sides (the bed is pushed up against a corner).  Download the plans Kura Hack.

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

and I made the roof removable (sometimes little boys like to hide and require grabbing to get them to come out of their cabins).

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

I painted the inside with a campfire using acrylic paints…

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

…and rigged up an “elevator” to bring treasures up and down through the window.  The LED lantern is from American Science and Surplus.

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

This accomplishes a lot: great play space, comfy cozy bed, and also prevents M from jumping over the edges which was a challenge before the walls went up.

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin

DIY IKEA Hack Kura Cabin