Why We Love our Rainbow Play System

rainbow play system

 

When we moved to our new home, we moved more into the country than into another subdivision. Our kids have dozens of acres to eventually roam, but it’s not close to any playgrounds. At our old home, we lived in a subdivision near parks within walking distance, and that was a lot of fun for us. But now, going to the park means packing up both kids and driving over 10 miles away. Which isn’t very sustainable in the long run. So when my mom brought up the idea of a swing set for the girls to grow up with, I jumped on it! I spent a little time researching different options, and found a Rainbow Play Systems dealer in the nearby town of New Braunfels.

 

homefield showroom

 

We started out by visiting the “showroom”, which was like heaven for Charlie! And somewhat of a nightmare for me because holy cow some of those systems are TALL! But she ran around playing on all the different styles while my mom and I sat with Caroline on a picnic table and leafed through the catalog. We asked several questions, because they have a few different “levels” when it comes to their systems. There is the bottom tier, which is new, and not something I was interested in. The wood was from China and while it was manufactured somewhat in the US, it’s not truly made here. The reason I chose Rainbow over a cheaper set from a big box store was because their higher tiers use native redwoods, quality sealing products, and are fully manufactured in the USA. The cost is higher, but the quality is much better and the end result means a swingset that will pretty much last for life. Their swing chains are all coated, their hardware is as well, and overall it’s just an incredibly solid, durable set.

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.23.03 PM

 

They’re also chicken friendly ;) You can see the coating on the swing chains in this photo. Another reason I loved this system was that it’s so customizable. Did we want a wooden roof or a fabric one? Monkey bars, yes or no? (no for us, sorry kids, I’ll keep those bones unbroken! haha) Even the trapeze bars! We decided to take out the bar on the back and use that space for an infant swing, which Caroline definitely appreciates!

 

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 8.25.40 PM

 

We spent about a week studying the catalog and deciding on the basic system we wanted. We chose the Sunshine Clubhouse Package II, the 49B spacesaver. It has more than enough to keep the kids entertained for hours, and heck, even our dogs and chickens! They like to climb up into the clubhouse for a great lookout spot. It’s fabulous when it comes to barking at the cows. Promise. We made several changes to the original setup, and love what we ended up with. So far it’s survived its first blistering Texas summer unscathed. I’m looking forward to fall when we can play outside all day and not just at dusk.

 

So if you’re in the market for a swing set, I highly recommend taking a look at Rainbow, either at a dealer or searching your local sales boards for someone looking to re-home theirs. They also have a Facebook page.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Our dealer sent out an email that a review on the system in exchange for their chalkboard learning system, which I was planning to purchase as a Christmas gift. And since I’ve been planning a review, it was perfect timing! I stand by this product and would 100% purchase it again. As well as plan on purchasing other accessories in the future, like that really fun looking see-saw swing!

 

 

Scrap Pile Presents for a Zero Waste Birthday

pig and deer critter chairs

 

Both of my girls have a birthday at harvest season, and I had such a great time making presents for them this year. To challenge myself even further, I decided to focus on using materials I already had to make really fun, useful gifts. One of the basic “rules” of Zero Waste is to eliminate not only packaging, but to minimize your consumption of plastics and other mass produced toys and items. Basically, try to focus more on your needs, and look for fewer, quality possessions that focus on ethical and ecological production methods. So, that meant staying out of the toy aisles with their factory produced junk, and hand making gifts. For Caroline, who turns one this week, I decided to fill out our Critter Chair set and make her two animal stools: a little deer and a piggy. I looooove the deer! I was a bit worried the antlers would either be too insubstantial to provide a backrest, or look too clunky to be believable antlers. I’m so glad I was wrong! The look very cute, and I think they could even be bulked up a bit at the base and center to make moose antlers. If you’re interested in building your own, I have a tutorial for them here.

 

Greta rag dolls

 

For the second half of her presents from mama, I made her four of these precious Greta dolls. I purchased the pattern as a digital pdf on Etsy from Retromama. She also has a Hans pattern that I bought as well, for gifts later on. Plus like six other patterns I’ve bookmarked, you need to check out her shop! Anyway, the only materials I needed to buy were felt for the hair and shoes, and a skin-toned cotton. I chose felt that was eco-friendly and made in America, and surprisingly found at WalMart of all places. I decided to try out the “old-school” method of filling these rag dolls with, well, rags. And it really did work! Two of these dolls were filled with leftover PolyFill, and two with fabric scraps. Can you tell which? I bet it will surprise you! I decided that from now on I’ll only use scraps to fill the dolls, as they felt much more durable than their puffy counterparts. It’s a great feeling to watch my once-huge scrap stash diminish down to almost nothing, as well as help out other sewers shrink their stashes! I made four of these dolls, each inspired by a different season. The Autumn doll uses scraps from the baby sling I made and carry Caroline around in since birth.

 

play food donuts

 

Charlie, however, got a lot of play food! I made these donuts by cutting circles out of a scrap fence picket with my jigsaw. I used a belt sander to get them smooth and to make the edges look more handcrafted. Then I painted them with some soy-based craft paints found at Hobby Lobby. They are so stinkin’ cute!

 

play-petit-fours

 

I also used up some pieces of 2×2 leftover from other projects to make petit fours, which are a big hit around here. Apparently cake is popular with toddlers, who knew?

 

play-breakfast

 

One of our favorite things to do together is to make pancakes on Sundays, so I whipped up a little breakfast kit at the last minute. Using som old 1/4″ ply, I cut circles for pancakes and then irregular circular shapes for syrup and fried eggs. The syrup and pancakes have iron-on velcro so they can detach.

 

play-roast-chicken

 

This roast chicken set is possibly my favorite of all the play food! I found something similar online, and used a piece of 2×6 for the center and freehanded the shape, cutting with my jigsaw. Then scrap 1×4′s became the wings and drumsticks. A little more iron-on velcro and voila! A wooden play roasted chicken to practice cutting.

 

play-pup-tent

 

Lastly, daddy decided to whip up a quick pup-tent using scrap wood and Ana White’s simple plans. We had these Mexican blankets sitting around in my parents’ storage area, doing basically nothing. Wouldn’t you know, they’re the perfect fit! We stapled them on, and once again had a no-cost, no-purchase gift that my little girls love.

 

And that finishes up the round up of this year’s Presentpalooza! We spent (almost) nothing but time and sweat to make thoughtful, adorable presents for our 3 year old and 1 year old. It required more thought and planning than simply popping into the store and plopping down a few bucks, but I’m so glad we did. I think they’ll enjoy these gifts for years to come, and it’s so amazing to hear Charlie tell her friends “Mommy and Daddy made me this!” with excitement. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

 

 



Zero Waste 2015

zero waste shopping materials

 

Over the past several months, I have expressed my desire toward different homesteading ventures. Gardening, raising meat chickens, preserving and building have been on my radar for quite some time now. It’s just been over the last year or so that I’ve begun to execute those goals. Yet it still seemed a bit scattered, in my head. It didn’t seem like the articles I read or people I followed espoused all the different facets of “going green” that I was interested in. Then I found out about the Zero Waste movement. Have you heard of it? It’s fantastic! I purchased Zero Waste Home on my eReader, and encourage everyone to check it out as well. Basically the author strives for a zero waste lifestyle, which means eliminating all packaging like single-use plastics and not buying into the consumerism of today’s society.

 

garden-plan

I was so inspired by Bea’s writing that I decided we were going to do it. How could we not? We’re already halfway there! I’ve been cloth diapering for almost two years now, and we haven’t had paper towels since we moved to our new home. I feel like I’ve been slowly making my way over to Zero Waste before I even knew there was a name for it. So, what does this mean for the blog? Well, the focus will basically stay the same. I’m still going to build and write about our projects. Because of course building your own furniture is economical and ecological. I also plan to write more about our self-sufficient adventures, like gardening (that’s my garden diagram above, with over 50 varieties!). And the new aquaponics setup we are currently building. We’re paving the way to providing most of the food we require ourselves, and I think that’s a great journey to chronicle. But it’s not necessarily one everyone can feasibly do, so I want to cover other things. Things like…

 

fabric scrap rag dolls

 

Making holiday gifts out of scrap materials. These rag dolls are gifts for Caroline’s first birthday, and I used fabric remnants along with some new, made in the USA eco-friendly felt and stuffed them with tiny scraps of fabric and all those unmatched baby socks that seem to multiply. I’m really excited to share about these!

 

stevia-extract

 

Making my own pantry staples that used to be all store-bought and full of preservatives. Like this stevia extract I’m steeping with my home-grown organic stevia plant and local vodka. I have several great recipes and tricks I’ve found online, so I think a regular round-up post would be beneficial.

 

freezer-meals freezer-meals

 

Freezer cooking, and making my own “ingredients” like enchilada sauce and tomato paste. And of course the hardest part, Zero Waste Shopping. I’ve been hitting up the bulk aisles and toting my recycled jars to and from the grocery store long enough now that I feel I can share my methods.

 

So, there you have it! A new, bright focus for Killer b. Designs that truly has me fired up again. I have been struggling for a while with the consumerism of DIY blogging, as well as sponsor partnerships that didn’t seem to mesh with my new personal goals. I’m very excited about the months to come.

 

 

 




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