Around Our Home

Building a DIY Backyard Playhouse with Fort Magic

Paint Your Own DIY Backyard PlayhouseThe other day, when Maia and Daphne were off adventuring with friends and I had a rare few hours of kid-free time to myself, I cleaned the house from top to bottom I played with their toys.

The Fort Magic kit, specifically.

I put together a DIY backyard playhouse all by myself and enjoyed every minute of it.

(Note: See GIVEAWAY at the end of this post for a chance to win your own Fort Magic kit.)

I built the playhouse over the sandbox with the idea of creating some afternoon shade in what is one of the more popular kid spots in our yard. Maybe even some rain protection as we are getting daily afternoon showers.

I went in with a goal about shaping my children’s outdoor play space so they have:

  • Shade from the harsh afternoon sun
  • Protection from rain (maybe; as you can see from the photo we’re not quite there)
  • A fun playhouse to inspire the kids’ pretend play
  • A partially enclosed kid-size space for a sense of privacy and safety

My other goal was to try out an idea I’ve long had—cover the playhouse with a blank canvas and let the kids paint it.


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A Build A Fort Kit for Kids by Fort Magic

A Build a Fort Kit for Kids by Fort MagicWe had a submarine in our house last week.

A big one.

This week it’s been a house, a tattoo parlor (I relaxed while Daphne and Maia each painted designs on my arms and shoulders), a hide-out, a store, a restaurant, a reading nook, and a place to snuggle in sleeping bags for family movie night.

The amount of pretend play in our house has always been pretty healthy, but it’s been taking a whole new level recently with the arrival of a hefty box on our doorstep.

The kids were excited to open it and find a build a fort kit for kids sent to us by Fort Magic, one of my blog sponsors…. 

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21 Ways to Display Kids Artwork

21 Ways to Display Kids Artwork - Great ideas for modern families!

As parents, we are always looking for ways to display kids artwork — that mountain of creativity they draw, paint, collage at home and at school. Their artwork deserves a special display, but more often than not it ends up in a pile along with some good intentions. Um, speaking for myself here, but from what I hear, I’m not the only one.

How to get from a stack of original kid creations to a display that both honors their artwork, looks good in your home, and is easy to switch out art pieces as your children make newer and greater artworks and as their art styles develop and change?

In this post I’ll share lots of ways to display kids artwork—some are ways we use or have used, some are ways I’ve admired, all fit as many of the above criteria as possible, especially the bit about being easy to switch out artwork as your children continue to create and to grow…. 

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Whats on the Kids Art Display Wall This Month?

Whats on the Kids Art Display Wall This Month

I really love how easy it is to change out the artworks on our kids art display wall! We’ve continued to change it up pretty regularly but the last time I post an update of the art on the wall was in October so I figured we’re due for a new post. It’s a fun way for me to share what we’ve been up to as well as to document my kids continuing creative development.

So… What’s on the kids art display wall this month?… 

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A Keepsake Handprint Plaque by Memories in Clay

Capture their childhood with a keepsake handprint plaque - we used a kit and it was super easy!We moms like to preserve the precious hands of our children. Look at the popularity of handprint kits, crafts, ornaments, and gifts! We want to remember just how small they were, just how unique.

I’m no different. When Maia was just a couple months old, I invited another mom and her baby over to make sweet baby handprints and footprints. I remember painting their tiny hands and feet then pressing them to paper. I sent some of the prints to grandparents and great grandparents and kept some for myself as a keepsake.

The thing about children’s hands, though, is that they keep growing! And you want to capture the teeny-tiny baby hands, the toddler hands that are into everything, and the “I’m a big kid now” five-year-old’s hands.

So you can imagine that when Memories in Clay, now one of my blog sponsors, invited me to try out their process of making clay plaques out of children’s handprints, I said, “Yes, please!” What mom wouldn’t want a keepsake plaque of their children’s hands?

As I have two daughters, we decided to go with a sisters plaque and have both of their handprints together with their names.

I wanted to share photos of the process, since I think its rather unique, then I’ll show you the girls’ reaction to receiving the finished plaque in the mail, and finally a photo of the plaque in their room.

The process of making the handprint plaques was very easy—basically a four-step process once we decided which plaque we wanted (there are lots of keepsake plaque options in the Memories in Clay shop).

How to Use the Handprint Keepsake Kit Step by Step Photos#1 Memories in Clay sent us a handprint kit with some special molding material, a tube for rolling it out, aluminum foil, a prepaid and addressed return envelope, and simple instructions.

#2 We rolled out the molding material on a sheet of foil using the tube provided. Maia and I took turns doing this. It wasn’t hard to roll out, but I wanted to make sure it was evenly rolled and also that it was big enough to hold both their hands.

#3 The kids pressed their hands into the material, side by side. I helped coordinate the arrangement before they placed their hands down. We did it in one try, but the nice thing about this kit and the molding material is that if you don’t like the first attempt, you can roll it out again and make a new handprint. As many times as you want.

#4 I baked the handprints in the oven following the instructions provided, let them cool, then popped them into the return envelope and put it out for the mailman to pick up. Easy peasy.

(You can read more about the process of making the handprint plaques, including what happens after you send in the mold, on the Memories in Clay site.)

A Keepsake Handprint Plaque by Memories in Clay

A few weeks later we received another package from Memories in Clay, this time with our finished clay plaque! I don’t know who was more impressed and excited by the handprint plaque—me or the girls.

A Keepsake Handprint Plaque by Memories in Clay

They tested their hands against the relief handprints, commented on how it was like their real hands, and spent a lot of time smiling and giggling.

The handprint plaque in the girls bedroom

We hung the plaque in their bedroom, between their two beds—the perfect place for a special plaque commemorating their sisterhood.

A Sisters Keepsake Handprint Plaque

If you’d like a keepsake handprint plaque of your own, Memories in Clay makes the entire process easy. We are so happy with the plaque they made for us! There are a variety of keepsake plaque options available in their shop—everything from newborn baby hand and footprint plaques (with birth date, time, weight, etc), mommy and me handprint plaques (and daddy and me plaques, too, of course!), sibling plaques, handprint ornaments, and “Best Grandparents Hands Down!” plaques.

Who wouldn’t want a keepsake plaque of their children’s hands? I think this is such a lovely thing to do for yourself, for your children, or as a gift.

Memories in Clay is offering $10 off orders placed through the end of the day Sunday, February 23rd with the discount code ARTFUL.

Note: The process takes a little while, so plan ahead for Mother’s Day and all that. This isn’t a last-minute gift.

Memories in Clay is an Artful Parent sponsor; all opinions expressed are my own.

Studio Changes (Again)

Our new art studio set-up with wall-mounted, fold-down tables from Ikea...

It's been a while since we've had any big changes in our art studio. Almost three years. 

And the truth is, we've been overdue for a change for a while now. The SANSAD tables were low—good for Daphne, but no longer for Maia unless she sits (which she rarely does), and definitely not for me. And, as someone noted recently in a comment, we often end up doing our family art at the kitchen table rather than the studio.

We have several good reasons for this:


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Color Therapy

Color Therapy 5

It took
longer than I thought to get out of my funk. And some serious color therapy.

I painted
my office sunshine yellow.

Just a
little trick to make it a happy room that I want to spend time in.

I think it's

Don't get
me wrong. I'm still on the antidepressants.


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6 Kids’ Playhouses, Forts, and Tents for Creative Play Indoors

6 Kids' Playhouses, Forts, and Tents -- For Creative Play Indoors

Do your kids love playhouses as much as mine? Whether they rig something up themselves (often) or my husband and I set something up for them (once in a while), my daughters and their friends absolutely LOVE playing in their house within a house. Having an intimate space with defined borders just their size inspires all kinds of creative play.

Here are just 6 of the kids' playhouses, forts, and tents that we've enjoyed:


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Art Space for Kids :: 6 Simple Ways to Make a Creativity-Inspiring Space

Art Spaces for Kids - 6 Simple Ways to Make a Creativity-Inspiring Space

In order to make art, kids have to have a space to do it, even if it’s at the kitchen table. A dedicated art space is even better, because it’s a place they can turn to any time they feel the urge to create, a place stocked with art supplies, a place they can start a drawing of outer space and come back to finish it the next day.

Do your children have an art space like this? Here are some ideas for setting up or updating an art space for kids:


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