Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our Mud Pie Kitchen

The moment I saw Jenny's outdoor mud kitchen I knew we had to figure out a way to wedge one into our tiny outdoor space. When she then did the usual marvelous thing she does by scouring the internet for inspiration and sharing what she found on her blog, I became even more convinced.

The problem was figuring out where we could put it. The logical place was the sand pit, but the forest house was still running its course, so I was stuck biding my time while watching as others like Pip and SquiggleMum join in the fun.

On the weekend, I finally dismantled the forest house and assembled a rudimentary mud pie kitchen, employing, as we do with most things, our versatile boxes.

Those "burners" on the stove are just some rubber circles we had lying about.

And you'll see that I've used some of the large chunks of wood I recently scored.

Not bad, I thought, heading home on Friday, but I wasn't satisfied. It ate away at me all day Saturday and Sunday. For one thing, it didn't seem so special just using the same old plastic junk we use in our indoor kitchen, so I ran by Goodwill and picked up some pots and other "real" items, but what really bugged me was that a proper kitchen had to have a sink, preferably with running water.

Now we already have a hose semi-permanently buried under the sand to make it quick and easy to refill the cistern under our cast iron pump. And as anyone who's been reading here for any length of time knows, we have a healthy collection of 1/2" PVC pipe. Could I actually plumb a sink?

I dug through our pipe fittings for quite some time before finally coming across a piece that connected the hose to the the pipe. Yeah!

I pieced together a series of pipe (I have it pre-cut into standard lengths so it's easier for the kids to build with) and attached a spigot (yes, I also happen to have several spigots on hand).

As you can see, I didn't think to take pictures until after
the kids had already started to play with it.

Ooo, this was going to be sweet. I turned on the water at its source. There were a few leaky points where the pipe joined together, but when I tried out the sink it worked! You wouldn't want this inside the walls of your house, but I'd built a functioning sink -- well, except for the drain out the bottom aspect, but the part that mattered was working. I don't know why this excited me so much, because after all, it isn't rocket science, but I was feeling pretty good about myself.

That's when I started monkeying around with it, trying to tighten up the pipes to reduce the leaking. Suddenly, the whole thing was like in one of those sitcoms when the incompetent blowhard hubby tries to handle the plumbing himself. Joints were un-joining, cold water was gushing first here, then there. It was with a sinking heart that I began to realize that I was going to need to cement the joints. This would require a trip to the hardware store and as Mark Frauenfelder points out in his book Made By Hand: when it comes to DIY projects, once you cross the property line, you might as well give up on getting anything else done that day.

There's a closet in which we stash our most heinous and toxic materials. In the past we've had parents with all kinds of skills, including plumbing. Maybe there was something in there left over from a previous project. I was not anticipating success, but after some digging, I turned up a rusty bottomed can of PVC cement. No way! Yes way! Hooray!

I followed the instructions, noting that it needed at least 12 hours to cure so there would be no testing until I arrived at school in the morning.

We're located near the neighborhood of Ballard, which is
where the Scandanavian immigrants settled when they
first arrived in Seattle.

There was just one tiny leak at the point where the hose connects to the pipe, which I hadn't cemented because I still want to be able to use it to fill the pump cistern. 

The sink got a lot of use and it held up.

I don't know why he was tying this pot of "pasta" to the
pulley rope. I suppose, because it was there.

Soon we were making "chocolate cake pie with cinnamon" and "chicken chocolate soup" and all kinds of other amazing chocolate things, just like our friends from Australia.

But something still bugs me. I need to do something about our milk crate ovens. They need doors, at least . . .

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Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

You never cease to amaze! Looks like a fabulous start to your kitchen. I was inspired too, we've slowly been working on our area. I've been adding as many natural elements as possible for the mud mixing- rocks, sticks, wooden tree cookies, etc. That inspiration from Jenny sure is contagious!

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Don't get so frustrated! The changes that both you and, more importantly, the kids will make to the kitchen will just deepen their play with it. I'd let them play for a couple of days and then ask some open-ended questions. You may find that oven doors are unimportant to them but they're trying to figure out how to mix mud that's too dry to stir well or how to get water over here or how to set up a wonderful mud kitchen in Phoenix where we have very little dirt (more sand) at my school. (There's nothing wrong with a sand kitchen, but I still want mud like I had growing up in the Midwest!)Let me know if they come up with any answers to that one!
It's great, Tom!

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle said...

Sorry, deleted the last comment by accident... just wanted to edit it :) Oh well. Anyway.... awesome kitchen. I need to make one of those sink do-hickies!! My kids love when the water flows in the yard!! As always, a job well done!!!

Juliet Robertson said...

This is brilliant. It's lovely to see your mud kitchen. I like the tap idea. Very very nice.

Yesterday I was back in the school I occasionally work at. In my box of goodies was a whole heap of miniature enamel and metal kitchen items for the proposed outdoor kitchen....

...and not to set the cat amongst the pigeons or a guinea pig amongst the children....a beautiful big hutch was sitting there in the nursery waiting for a guinea pig.

And me...well I've been going science mad. I'll be making Scottish contribution to a world wide blog trend....will reveal all in 2 weeks.

SquiggleMum said...

Didn't think it would take you long to join the dirt-kitchen-gang Tom! Your sink is fabulous. Nice job on the plumbing :-)

Play for Life said...

I can just picture the screaming and mayhem when the water started squirting out the joints ... too funny!

Donna :) :)

Let the Children Play said...

You just couldn't help yourself could you Tom! I love your sink. I wonder if they realise that they should teach plumbing as a part of an early childhood course :)

Christianne @ Little Page Turners said...

A great take on a fabulous current trend. (And I love your comment about all those little blond heads. :) Looks like it was a success! What did you do to keep all that mud outdoors?

Scott said...

Great, Tom! I'm getting jealous of all the mud kitchens. I'm not able to do that at this time. Maybe I'll make one at my house just for me!

Busy Brissy Mum said...

Brilliant Tom! I can see there will be many wonderful chocolatey cook-ups happening in your mud kitchen. You'll have to show more pics when you figure out what to do with the oven.

It's a perfect day for a mud kitchen here in Brisbane, Australia. The rain is pouring down.

Carol said...

That is amazing! I've been racking my brains about creating a toy kitchen for my kid too. I'm not yet ready to have an outdoor kiddie kitchen but I'm planning to have one out of boxes. And maybe when the kid gets older, I'll have another one built just like that. This is officially my toy kitchen inspiration.