The Original Mud Pie Kitchen

In the spring of 2010, after creating what I called a “mud pie kitchen” on our back porch for Larkspur, I wrote a tutorial describing our creative process for a website called Rhythm of the Home.  I wasn’t sure that the editors would even find it worthy of publishing.  But I guess I am far from being the only grown woman with fond memories of making mud pies as a child, because that piece ended up being the most popular ever in the history of Rhythm of the Home!  Mud pie kitchens began springing up all over the internet, and I could hardly believe it!  Over four years later, Larkspur’s enthusiasm for her mud pie kitchen is still strong.  She recently gave her first oral presentation at our homeschool co op and chose to speak about her mud pie kitchen.  I printed the photos from my original piece for her to share with her friends.  After revisiting those photos with Larkspur, I thought it might be a good time to post my original tutorial here.  And while these photos were taken in the spring, Larkspur’s favorite time of year in the mud pie kitchen is fall!

How to make a mud pie kitchen:

The original "How to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
When I was a child, my favorite activities involved being outdoors immersed in nature. Rather than spend my time playing with an indoor play kitchen, I preferred to make “real” pies from mud. Some of my dearest memories are of afternoons spent sitting on my grandparents’ back porch with a spoon and a couple of small pie tins packed with mud.
Without my prompting, my oldest daughter recently began creating mud pies of her own.

mud pie kitchen setup small things blog
In keeping with this new favorite activity, I set out to create an outdoor mud pie kitchen for all my children. My goal was to keep things simple; leaving plenty of room for imagination. I also wanted to use materials we already had on hand or could obtain secondhand. An old crate turned upside down serves as the base of our kitchen; while a couple of old ammo boxes sitting on top provide a “stove” and a little cupboard. You can be creative with what you have or can obtain easily. I chose to place our little kitchen on our small back porch because my youngest is under two and I like to keep her close. However, it would be equally nice under a shady tree or on a small patio.

mud pie kitchen tree stump small things blog
Every kitchen needs a table and chairs, and for that purpose we used pieces of wood that never made it to the woodpile last winter. These won’t last forever, but they are working well right now as both little seats and additional workspace.

mud pie kitchen tree stumps and water small things blog
Our dishes, pots, and pans have come from a variety of sources: thrift stores, our own cast offs, and a few little pots and pans that have been received as gifts. Stainless steel and galvanized metal are best because they won’t rust, but we do use old rusty pans as well, namely muffin tins. I have thrifted both full sized and miniature pots and pans. My favorites are the small ones of course. Another good addition is a mortar and pestle. We found ours at an international foods market.

mud pie kitchen table cloth small things blog
Even my older boys like to join in the fun. This is one of my children’s favorite activities to do together despite the fact that they range in age from one all the way up to almost ten. In fact, even I like making mud pies. Seriously, it’s fun.

mud pie kitchen utensils small things blog
My four year old daughter adds special touches like a tablecloth (just a fabric scrap cut out with pinking shears) and fresh flowers.

mud pie kitchen sink small things blog
A little galvanized tub makes a great sink for washing dishes, hands, and providing water for the mud batter. This being the only item I purchased new, was obtained at our local feed store for around five bucks.

mud pie kitchen dirt small things blog
Plenty of dirt is essential. Even if you live in a city apartment without your own patch of soil, a bag of topsoil can be purchased and kept in a bucket on the smallest of patios. Every now and then I provide rice or dry beans as well.

mud pie kitchen mud small things blog
While dirt is definitely the main ingredient in most of the dishes created,

mud pie kitchen fried onions small things blog
sometimes “fried” wild onions make an appearance as well.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
The possibilities are endless.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
Armed with a pot, some soil, water, and an old wooden spoon, some fabulous dishes can be created. My daughter likes to have me smell her mud to make sure it smells “just right.”

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
Flower petals and other bits of nature make nice additions to mud pies, and gathering them is half the fun!

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
I have found that my children spend quite a bit of time decorating their pies and cakes until they are little works of art.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
Pies are placed in the “brick oven” to bake. To create your own, simply line up a row of bricks in a sunny spot and there you have it! If you don’t have any bricks, you can draw bricks inside a cardboard box.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
Keeping a tidy kitchen is also part of the fun.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
But more often than not, tins full of mud and water are left lying about, as the little cooks run off to build another outdoor home, store, or restaurant; inspired by their imaginations and the little place you’ve created for them.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
And that’s the beauty of it: a few simple props, some old pots and pans, and a generous dose of the outdoors and children can create hours of beautiful imaginative play.

The original "how to make a mud pie kitchen" from Ginny Sheller
Now it’s your turn to create a mud pie kitchen for your favorite little ones!

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-This is our favorite mud pie kitchen cookbook. We are on our second copy, and could use a new one because it is so well loved.

-You can find more mud pie kitchen inspiration here, here, here, and here.

 

Pipsticks {giveaway!}


When Maureen, mom and mastermind behind Pipsticks, a new sticker subscription service, first contacted me about her business, we quickly began to swap emails over our shared sticker love. Mine is rooted in the sticker collection that I began in the first grade. Stickers were hard to come by, and I wasn’t above adding the stickers off my bananas to the pages of the photo album that housed my prized collection. Had an envelope addressed to me, filled with stickers, ever arrived in any of the mailboxes of my childhood, I would have been ecstatic. Seriously, it would have been a dream come true. But even better than that, was to see my little girls in their excitement when Maureen sent them their very own Pipsticks envelopes full of fantastically fun stickers. Maureen is here today to share how Pipsticks began, and to offer a gift to one of you!


In Maureen’s words:
I recently launched a company to inspire kids, crafters and sticker lovers – and, to help parents, grandparents and gift givers. Pipsticks is a sticker subscription company that provides a selection of curated stickers to its subscribers every month. Stickers – like the ones many of us used to collect, trade, and obsess over as kids – sparkly ones, puffy ones, smelly ones. Pipsticks sources stickers from manufacturers all over the world in order to give its subscribers a gorgeously packaged, affordable, awesome stash of stickers when they need them (because I find my family ALWAYS needs them).

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I am a designer and left my corporate brand management job when my first son, Atticus, was born. A few years later, we were invited to join one of those sticker club chain letters. Like all chain letters, it was a bust: after loads of time and energy to find friends, write letters, enclose stickers, address envelopes, find stamps (oh, stamps!), etc etc, my kids received one measly response. Though maddening for me, they went absolutely bananas crazy over that one sheet of stickers waiting in our mailbox. Inspired, I created Pipsticks after looking for a sticker subscription and coming up empty. At Pipsticks, we take the heartache out of sticker clubbing and promise a return that is just all around enjoyable.


As a mom of four, I also appreciate hands-off (and non-tech) projects for my kids. The sticker packs arrive with loads of stickers as well as a paper and postcard so that kids can use the pack completely on their own. The whole pack, from packaging to sticker selection, is designed to a fun and sophisticated standard, and totally child-friendly – giving parents a chance to take a break (or just cook dinner in peace and quiet) once in a while.


In response to our subscribers’ requests, we’ve just launched a sticker ideas blog on the website which features craft projects and activities that center around or incorporate stickers. This stuff relies on high tech supplies like toilet paper rolls and bobby pins, so is very accessible to parents and grandparents across the board that want to get crafty.


And finally, Pipsticks solves the gift-giving conundrum we’re in on a regular basis. It’s the perfect present: new and different each month, inspires creativity, doesn’t add to an overcrowded toy chest, and is geared toward whatever your budget may be. * You can purchase a gift subscription and set it to begin whenever you choose if you’re doing early holiday shopping, just follow your purchase up with an email to support@pipsticks.com.

Maureen is offering one Small Things reader a 3-month Gift Subscription!  In addition, readers can receive one month free on any 6 or 12 month family subscription using the code SMALLTHINGS10 at checkout.  (If purchasing a gift subscription, you can set the start date as you choose (in case you’re doing some early holiday shopping!  Details on that here.)

For your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post. 

Follow @mypipsticks on Instagram and “like” Pipsticks on Facebook !

Comments are closed, and the winner is Jenni, who commented, “My children would be thrilled to have these!! Thanks for the chance!”

Thanks, Maureen and Pipsticks!

stickers, sticker subscription