I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking at children's products / toys / rooms / playgrounds, etc., and it's made me a bit picky about what I think is truly special. There are so many things out there these days, things I could have never imagined would exist when I first gave birth to London (now 5 1/2!). Some are amazing, beautiful, functional, answers to mother's product prayers. Some are just crap. Ugly. Cheaply made. Uninspiring. Plastic. Thankfully, the trend seems to be moving towards the more beautiful, hand crafted, natural material direction, but every now and again I come across something incredibly special and unique. Something that stays in my mind for days and makes me feel like an excited child all over again. Such has been the case with Cheeriup. I was thumbing through the back of a magazine - you know, through those tiny ads that you're sure no one ever pays attention to - and one caught my eye. I looked it up immediately, I was so charmed, and well, see for yourself. Conceived and crafted by Minneapolis mama Kelly English, these are not just mere playhouses. These are magical thickets. Like a knitted house. Out of sticks. Can you imagine?? When I saw her work, I was immediately reminded of our visit long ago to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens when Patrick Dougherty had built a series of similar woven structures there. We played there for the longest time and I was every bit enchanted as London was. Now, with summer gearing up and a playhouse desperately needed for the backyard, I've been looking at all kinds of options. But this, this thicket idea really has me going. I'm sure it will turn out nowhere near as incredible as Kelly's, but this is too good not to try. And with so many natural materials here in Seattle at my fingertips, I am dying to go foraging for willows for this special project. As I read through Kelly's blog, so many of her feelings about childhood resonated with me and it was just wonderful to read about how driven she is to create these special places for others to enjoy. What a gift, especially for children, to have a quiet place to escape and be inspired by their surroundings. Kelly, I hope you never stop doing this. It's too beautiful.