The Arbor Swing set

You know those large swing set/slide/clubhouse/sandbox/jungle gym systems that allow a kid to have a whole park in the comfort of their own backyard? We were given a wonderful gift from my husband's parents (my daughter's granny and poppy) that they wanted our little one to have a swing set/ slide combo for her second birthday (coming up in August). I was really impressed with this offer (as those are a rather large investment).

We have a city-run and maintained park just two blocks from our house with a plethora of slides, but no swings (it must be a thing as we have been hard-pressed to find a park with swings - I would guess because of liability (like the long-gone teeter-totter)) so I was really excited about the prospect of having a swing in our backyard.

We ran into just a few issues (some physical, others personal). The first physical issue was our yard's landscaping. We have an extremely hilly backyard- which meant the area for this swing set is very limited. Not only did the footprint of this swing set need to be small, but it also couldn't be too tall (we have a phone line under our oak tree on one side of the yard, and a power line on the other. This meant that after searching the only swing sets that would fit in our yard were the little cheap metal ones.

The designer in me personally hoped to be able to find something a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the metal swing sets, the mom in me was hoped for something more sturdy/safer and the frugal part of me wanted something that would be useful well past my daughter's swinging years.

Here's what I came up with- I would design a swingset that would be able to convert into a porch swing holder in the future. It would be an arbor-style for the beauty as well. So I read all over the internet regarding building techniques/fastners/wood types, swing set safety and such; drew up a sketch of what I wanted; went to the hardware store with my father-in-law to purchase all the pieces; and came home and began cutting, drilling and bolting items together to create the set. Then I went back to the hardware store to exchange items that I discovered didn't work for my design and get ones that would.

I wanted to finish (from buying the pieces, to digging and pouring concrete footings, to hanging the swings) in one weekend- and that was a tall order. My husband and I were finally checking the swings at 10:17pm (with some worklights on). It was a good thing we finished because it poured rain the next day and that would have made my project very delayed and swampy.

Here's what my daughter got!

I kind of love it :) I also look forward to bragging to my daughter that I built it myself as I rock on a porch swing attached to it several years from now.

Projects from the wedding and a toddler pillowcase

I've been fairly busy since the last post. Several projects of various sizes and materials.

As you recall I was hiding some jewelry pictures from before the wedding in the chance that my sister (the bride) or my mother would see them prior to receipt. This is the major issue I have with a craft blog where I make gifts...

 The first item was for my daughter. She was a flower girl for the wedding and had to wear a lovely wreath (I made a while ago) as part of the outfit. The difficulty arose in that she in not quite 2 and wasn't too thrilled about the "hat" for more than about 2 minutes. We practiced all the time trying to get her to wear it, but she just wouldn't do it. Enter puppy. Puppy is my daughter's lovey. She sleeps with it and carried it around everywhere we went for months. Puppy came everywhere with her- so I decided to make puppy a wreath too (with a little elastic band to keep it on his head). From that moment on my little girl would wear the wreath as long as puppy would. So she wore it through all the pictures and walking up the aisle (with puppy of course in tow). Win-win for everyone.
The next item is a bracelet I made for the bride. This was with champagne-colored pearls similar to the bridesmaid jewelry I had made. These beads were from old necklaces my mother had been given or acquired over the years (some of which were my grandmothers) so it definitely counted as a something old, it also was a new to her and newly created, and I used blue seed beads on the wire so it would be her something blue too. It looked lovely on her and she seemed to love it too.

The third item I created as a gift for the wedding was a necklace for my mother that matched the wedding party a little bit. She seemed to really like getting some of her necklaces back and it was a nice addition to her outfit as well. Kind of fun having all the women in the family wearing matching jewelry (oddly enough I don't remember being fond of it as a kid...don't tell mom :) )

So the wedding was lovely. One thing we learned from the trip though was (since we were sharing a room with our daughter- her being in a pack-n-play at the end of the bed) that she used her puppy as a pillow. It hadn't occurred to us that she might want one, but from that moment on I had noticed she puts her head on stuffed animals or balls up her blankets under her head when she sleeps.

This called for a trip to Target to pick up a toddler sized pillow. We ended up purchasing a travel sized pillow (same size as the toddler pillows, but 1/3 the price and they don't come with a character-themed pillow case). I was completely fine with the lack of pillow case as I intended to make my own anyway.

Here is what I did- I created two pillowcases that were the pocket variety (where the end has a flap that prevents the cover from falling off the pillow) that match my daughter's quilt I had made her (that hangs above the crib (mostly because she has several crafty friends and family members who gave her beautiful quilts that are on her bed and we used for play surfaces) as a large art piece. These pillow cases are two colors each (the top is a green with a white and yellow floral pocket end. The other is the white and yellow floral fabric with a different green patterned fabric pocket end.

Both turned out pretty well (though I did have to resize the pillowcase once after I had put it on as I wanted a pretty snug cover for the pillow and the size listed on the package made a much to large case).

Then I started on a BIG project which I will discuss in another post. (I know...so cruel to make you wait- but I'd hate to not have anything for you to read later :) )