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Project Simplify: that put-off project

So my knee’s healing progress has actually slowed even more, just in time to finish this year’s Project Simplify with a bang. I’m back on crutches at the time of this writing, keeping my knee on ice and walking only when necessary. Ah well… Apparently this is par for the course in healing a reconstructed ACL.

This is my official excuse for not getting as much done as I wanted for this last hot spot—That Put-Off Project. Kind-of ironic, isn’t it? My knee has taught me so much this spring about patience, grace for others, and forbearance. I’m learning to wait on others, let go of ideal, and just rest when I need to. Who knew a body part was so full of wisdom?

Anyway, you’re here to see my put-off project, and here I am, bemoaning my injury.

It wasn’t a major selling feature, but it certainly was cool that our fixer-upper came with a treehouse in the backyard. (It’s not a literal treehouse, because there’s no tree involved. It’s a clubhouse on stilts. But the kids still call it a treehouse, so we just go with it.)

It was kind-of a mess, much like the rest of the house, and since we don’t actually live in it, it’s taken a major back seat. But since this year will be our first full summer in this home, we decided that our put-off project should be a little treat for the kids, even though we have many more important ones to cross off in the actual house. You’re welcome, kids.

So, here they are, our before and after pics in the backyard.

The treehouse came with a basement—a dirt pit with nothing in it. So, our kids decided to fill it with randomness. As kids do.


treehouse basement

While I nursed my knee, Kyle emptied the toys and raked flat the dirt:

gravel pit-before

Then added some visquine. That’s fancy talk for black plastic:

gravel pit-before

Then he headed to the local landscaping supply place and got some gravel. Our trailer could only handle half a yard in weight, so Amazing Dad made three trips to collect three loads this size:


And then he used five-gallon buckets to haul it over to the treehouse basement, because we don’t have a wheelbarrow and because he’s awesome like that.

gravel pit-after

And… that’s it. A pile of very small rocks that make our children quite happy.

gravel pit-after

We could have done sand, but we have a cat, if you get our drift, and we just didn’t feel like dealing with sand traipsed into the house or needing to cover the sand when it rained.

A gravel pit is easy, cheap fun and cleaner than a sandbox.

The gravel gets tossed out frequently, yes, but our kids know that they have to scoop it back in before coming back inside. It’s great fun for shoveling, trucking, building castles, and even pouring water through to make streams and watch it bend—it dries quickly.

Visquine, 6 mil: $22.98 (though we didn’t use it all)
Gravel, yard and a half: $55.50
• Total: $78.48

Not bad for summer fun, I say.

This week ends our Project Simplify, and while I didn’t get as much done as I liked, I still got some stuff crossed off in April. I’m glad we did this.

And if you’d like to continue on working your hot spots, and perhaps feel the need for some hand-holding with a guidebook of sorts, you can check out my first book, Organized Simplicity. You may like it.

Your turn

Roll up your sleeves, because it’s time to tackle your own put-off project! Like last week, all you have to do is take a “before” pic of your project, then tackle it head-on—and then take an “after” pic. The photos don’t have to be super fancy—use your high-end DSLR, or your camera phone. Whatever you want.

Also? You can do as many projects as you want, big or small. This week’s hot spot is intentionally vague—we’ve all got put-off projects, and they can look like anything from decluttering cabinets to cleaning out the garage to decorating a room to repurposing some furniture. The sky’s the limit.


Tag your Instagrams with the hashtag #projectsimplify, and they’ll show up above.

I can’t wait to see your photos! You’ll be able to add them to this linky above, or via Instagram all week, so don’t panic—you’ve got plenty of time.

Alright, so to end this year’s Project Simplify—what color should we paint the treehouse? Right now it’s a faded gray-blue, but I’m torn between a classic brick red or something unexpected and fun—apple green, perhaps, or a tangerine. What do you think we should do? (The kids will get to paint the inside whatever they want.)

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    What a great backyard feature! And a pile of gravel–such a fun, simple idea for the kids. I have to admit, at the phrase “very small rocks,” I had Monty Python and The Holy Grail flashbacks…anyway…

    My vote for the paint job is classic brick red. 🙂

    • krista

      LOL you weren’t the only one who thought Monty Python, I read it in my head with a British accent 🙂

    • Tsh

      Yep… that’s exactly how I said it in my head. 😉

  2. Sarah G

    I’d lean towards Apple Green or Tangerine. I think something that big and red might get overwhelming on the eyes after a while.

  3. Amy @ Frugal Mama

    I’m so sorry to hear about your knee, Tsh. You are handling the situation with grace and wisdom, and even getting big projects done in the meantime. Love the gravel pit — my boys would love to drive those trucks through it too.

    • Tsh

      Aw, thanks, Amy. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what I have gotten done when I focus on what I haven’t still. Silly me. 🙂

  4. Fly Mom

    Love this one. What a neat play place for your kiddos!!! 🙂

  5. Visty

    Genius. My older two always had a sandbox, and I’ve just not made one for the youngest because I know she would hate the feel of sand. I never thought about a pile of very small rocks.

  6. Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake

    Red, apple green, and tangerine ALL sound like winners to me. I think I’d go for the apple green a little more than the others though.

    • Tsh

      That’s kinda how I’m leaning… Or maybe a light turquoise. Hmm.

  7. Sarah

    You got a ton done this month! I was totally in awe of all your other posts, especially with your injured knee. I don’t think I’m going to have a final “put-off project” becuase although we’ve made serious progress on cleaning out our junk room to become a nursery for our late July baby, it’s nowhere near done enough to be posting pictures on the internet. The annoying part is that all remaining boxes are my husband’s junk (I swear the man is hoarding computer parts from 1995) that I can’t seem to get him to clear out. And heaven forbid I throw away something he might need, ever! (Can you tell I am not the packrat in the family?)

  8. Maureen

    Project Simplify has helped me tremendously this month. I’ve felt oppressed and depressed by the clutter in our house. I’ve done the projects each week and some other things I needed to get done around here and feel SO. MUCH. BETTER!

    Go with apple green for the playhouse!

  9. Megan

    Such a fun project! I’m pretty sure my nieces would go crazy over that!

    BTW, found your lovely blog on 24 Savvy. I’m not even a mom yet, but I’m hooked!

  10. Joe

    Kids would really love this “tree house”. 🙂 They could play and have a good time with playmates here.

  11. Jessica

    I too decided to settle for less than originally planned this week and also enlisted my husband to help! At 39 weeks pregnant I think it’s a good enough excuse to slow down and not feel too guilty!

    Project Simplify has been a great motivator in getting jobs done during April – thank you for giving me that ‘push’ each week!

  12. Emily @Random Recycling

    My first thought was a happy orange color for the treehouse. Something to brighten the backyard when the days are long and gloomy.
    I hope our next house is big enough for a backyard tree house, so fun!

  13. Katie

    Who knew a body part was so full of wisdom? ….. thank you so much for that whole paragraph, it is just what i needed to hear. I am heading for my 3rd abdominal surgery in 18 months in 4 weeks. As it will be a big surgery with a 6 week recovery i will need to be so dependent on people to do so much for me, and so soon after my last surgery. But not only that, have had to be on bed rest this week as the infection associated created havoc in my body, leaving everything to my husband……again.

    I have been resenting my body for ‘letting me down’. But that paragraph, wow, that is such a better way to look at it, and it is such a valuable lesson to be learning. Thank you a thousand times, time to let the learning begin……….

  14. MaryJo @ reSPACEd: Home Organizing

    So brilliant to use gravel instead of sand! I could never stand sandboxes because of the whole cat issue (why are there so many in our neighborhood?), but it never occurred to me to use gravel. And I love the idea of apple green or the turquoise you mentioned in the comments. What a great excuse to have fun with a bright paint color!

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