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not just for college kids: umbra turns any table into a ping pong table

When we bought our house there was a ping pong table in the attic. It was assembled up there and the only way to get it down was to saw it in half. I knew we had to remove it make use of the potential third floor space, but I was sad to see it go. Something about table tennis brings out the kid in me. I always wanted a table of my own and was jealous of kids who had them in their basements. That is why I’m so excited by the Umbra’s Pongo Portable Ping Pong set. It turns any smooth surface into a ping pong table — no mounting required. Its weighted net can be propped up on any table up to 72″ — anywhere you may want to have an impromptu match! Designed by Stephan Copeland, it comes with ping pong paddles with retractable handles, portable net, two ping pong balls (though you know you’ll want more) and drawstring pouch for storage and transport. Available at umbra.com, $40.00.

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pretty crafty: todd oldham’s kids craft projects at target

I had been reading about Todd Oldham’s new craft kits at Target on some of my favorite moms’ blogs, and finally decided to pick one up the other day for Isadora and me to try. They’re by his new line, called Kid Made Modern, and I think I’m in love. True, you could hit up Michael’s and piece these kits together on your own, but the Kid Made Modern ones save you time, come with cool ideas, and are packaged so smartly you’ll want to save the box to make something else. We picked up a DIY board book kit, and even though the age on the front said six years and up, our four year old had no problem getting the hang of it. I stayed close to assist in any scissoring that needed to be done, but we quickly created two books on our own. Inside the kit is fun sticky paper in sparkly and photo patterns. You can cut out a night sky, clouds, crazy, woodland creatures… anything that floats your boat. It also as a set of markers and three blank board books. The price was $15, and the fun lasted a couple of days. I’m definitely going to make this our go-to kids birthday gift now. What’s not to love about them!

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esty find: whale tissue box holder

Not sure what it’s like in your house, but summer means allergy season where I live. Sneezes pop up in long sequences that can rattle the house. That means you’ll find a box of tissues in just about every room. We buy them in bulk at Costco, so they’re not the prettiest things you’ve ever seen. I spotted this adorable marine buddy over at Papermag.com yesterday and it instantly made me smile. Perfect for Isadora room’s, this chartreuse whale has a tissue spout and is always in a good mood. $40 at from Etsy via Gnome Sweet Gnome.

More smart design ideas:
Looking for something to hide those toilet paper rolls? Check out our post on Jonathan Adler’s designs.

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steal this idea: counting stairs

The staircase is one of our favorite decorating spots. Whether a place to hang a collection of art or photographs or experiment with paint, its contained space is perfect to let your imagination run free. Look at this wonderful idea we spotted on Houzz the other day. It is the home of Jennifer and Trevor Scott in Vancouver. Filled with vintage pieces that have been lovingly repurposed by Jennifer, the founder of interior design fashion consulting studio A Good Chick To Know, it is filled with clever ideas. We love this awesome staircase! Jennifer used wallpaper from projects to liven up the stair risers. Then, she added vintage address numbers on each to inspire their daughter Sienna, who is learning to count. Can’t you imagine bounding up these stairs counting off? We can .. though by the time we get to 15, we might be out of breath.

Photo by Megan Buchanan via Houzz

More playful stair ideas:
Stairs with slides

Serena & Lily stairs

From our partners

a dad explains: why a d.i.y. playset is 100x better than one you buy

Here’s a guest post from our resident dad, Chad. He’s earned some major “Dad of the Year” points with this latest project. Take a look!

We’ve been staring at an empty back yard for a couple of years now as our little toddler has grown into a full-fledged climbing monkey. Obviously we need some kind of playground of our own, but they all seem too gianormous and expensive. After spending months reseplaceing the many options, I still found myself waffling on what to get: Do I bite the bullet and buy one of the top of the line play sets, from Rainbow, Gorilla or Superior. They all offer installation and various add-ons, like a tire swing here or a climbing wall there. Would she care if it had only one swing or a trapeze bar? Yellow or blue slide? One thing was for sure, with an average price tag of about $3,000, this playset decision wasn’t to be taken lightly.

I think the reason I was obsessed with building a set for our daughter is because of my own childhood memories. I didn’t have a swing set as a child but I did know kids who had them: They were rusty, creaky and prone to tipping over. Instead of getting one of those, my father made me a club house when I was five years old. It was on eight foot stilts and sat in our backyard. I can remember watching him cut the wood as his sweat dripped onto the planks under the hot sun. It wasn’t perfect and it didn’t have a tire swing or a rope ladder, but it had a trapdoor and he built it for ME. I helped by holding the nails and standing on the 2x4s as he cut them. I watched the saw rip through the wood as he told me to measure twice and cut once. I drank a gallon of Orange Crush as he built what would become my very own Millennium Falcon, my Alamo… my hideout from the world.

Watching my father build that playhouse taught me some pretty basic life lessons — like the value of hard work and the satisfaction of doing something on your own. It also taught me the value of having friends who are willing to help out for a six pack and the joy of just hanging out for the afternoon working on something simply because they were good friends.

So back to my decision on whether or not to build or buy our playset. I asked myself: What do I want to teach my daughter? What do I want her to think of as she is swinging on this thing? That ten workers in an afternoon can come over and bang out a swing set if you have enough money for the premium deluxe package with the periscope? No, I want her to remember what it was like to help me measure and cut the wood. The excitement she feels as I drill each ladder step into place.

When the raw wood was delivered and sitting in my driveway I started to doubt my choice. When the box of bolts and plans arrived I started to worry. “What have I done?” I thought to myself. Then Isadora came out and walked across the wood pile using it as her own personal balance beam. Grinning, she asks, “Are we building my swing set today?” Yes. WE are.

Click through to the next page for details on how I pieced this thing together.

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