Those who follow me on Instagram may have noticed our creation of a mudpie kitchen outdoors this last week.
I first saw the concept of a “mudpie kitchen” from my friend, Ginny. I love it when my kids play in dirt. There’s something unexplainable about having them pour their sweat into the earth and sparks the most basic, the most wonderful imagination within them. The desire for this kind of space was amplified when we started reading as a family over and over again Roxaboxen which is a delightful picture book about kids who create a whole imaginary village in a rock field.
The small building just outside our house is called “the summer kitchen” because the original owners of the house used it to cook and can during the hot summer months so it wouldn’t warm the house. Most of the outbuildings on the farm are full of old things that have never been gone through. They’re junk piles, really, but if you go digging you can find some treasures. Treasures are in the eyes of the beholders in most of these cases. The old large stove is still in the summer kitchen, as well as a rusty old cabinet, and bits and end pieces of original trim for the house. We’ve added to it storing all of a garden stuff, as well as the bikes and sleds and any outside toys.
(This is a birthday cake, for those wondering.)
On one side of the summer kitchen there’s a pretty antique rose bush, and a piece of dirt that is mostly shaded and I have managed to kill years worth of flowers that I can’t seem to get to take root with it’s rocky foundation. As I was debating which kind of flower would meet a slow death in this spot this year, I had an epiphany. Nothing is ever here but dirt. Therefore, it would be an ideal spot for a mudpie kitchen.
I executed this plan very sloppily as I was working in the garden and the 2 little girls were getting underfoot. I asked Silje to set up some “furniture” using some old wooden boxes and drawers inside the summer kitchen for some kitchen furniture. She brought out the old metal bowls and pots. I could tell she didn’t know what I meant by furniture.
So I brought out a couple of boxes to choose from, and soon I could see all 3 of the girls started to see what I was planning. They started to “get to work” arranging their pots and pans and filling them with dirt. I climbed the latter to the attic of the summer kitchen to see if I could find anymore things to bring the mudpie kitchen to life. We have a total of 3 bathroom sinks up there. (I have no idea why. We don’t even have 3 bathrooms.) I was at first thinking that we could have one of the sinks down there in the kitchen, but they were much to heavy for me to attempt moving. I did see this little charcoal stove, with charcoal still in it. The glass is long gone, and there’s some sort of plastic cover that replaced the original. I put the charcoal out, and set the stove up in their new mudpie kitchen.
The front on it opened beautifully. It requires that you turn the heavy, smooth metal knobs at the top. I was able to get it down the ladder, with some help from the big kids. The little girls were delighted at a “real” oven to be added to their kitchen. The girls played in it for hours as I got to work in the garden, and I could see everything they were doing from that side of the summer kitchen so that was pretty fun for me too.
This has quickly become the favorite spot of Ingrid, Solveig, and even Elias sometimes when he gets off his bike. I’ve been adding an old broom, an old rusty muffin pan, and whatever else I can find.
(They were making soup this time, and then it got hauled away in a dump truck to bring to all of the construction workers.)
Silje is having just as much fun as the little girls there when she has time, and she has the knack of getting dirtier faster than any of my other kids. She’s showing the little girls how it is done. I missed taking pictures of Silje up to her elbows in thick, black mud.
So far, they’ve baked some meatballs, and some cupcakes and a few loaves of mud bread. This is very serious business for these kids.
Ginny highly recommended to me this mudpie recipe book, which has the girls scouring the lawn for particular flowers, acorn, pine needle or blades of grass to mix in for a particular recipe. It somehow turns into a scavenger hunt that way. Silje will read them the recipe while I’m in the garden, and they each contribute something to it. They are keeping very, very busy.