Today's message is an oldie but a goody: Go outside and play.

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Today’s message is an oldie but a goody: Go outside and play.

That’s it. End of sermon.

Sounds easy, yes? But perhaps being grown-ups, and responsible and busy working and shopping and cooking and cleaning and changing the oil and all, some of us have forgotten how to do it.

Here is where a letter from reader Linda Taylor of Tacoma came in handy. She twigged the Goddess onto a new book called “Create the Space You Deserve” by one Jill Butler of Essex, Conn. (And we are assuming that you have been good and thus deserve a very nice space.) My people called her people (meaning I called her) and Ms. Butler was quite enthusiastic about outdoor havens.

Her specialty? Gathering and placement of objets trouvé — quality junk, to put it less elegantly.

“I make a playground where I can do anything my little heart desires,” she says. “I treat the yard as an opportunity to make a collage: There are seating areas with Sunbrella pillows, birdhouses in trees in unusual places. There are old boxes up in the trees, and I put objects in there like art pieces, clock faces, cutout large-size letters, paint brushes. I play.

“I don’t know gardening. I get whatever I think is gonna grow on the sunny side or on the dark side of the house. It’s all about what color’s it gonna be and what kind of light does it take.

“I play in the yard. For me, it’s just another canvas.”

Butler advises to focus on what you love and multiply it.

“There’s no pressure here,” she says. “I happen to love birdhouses because I love houses. Birdhouses are these little miniature wonders. Even birds need a nice home.”

Delve into Butler’s world and find the book at

Have a banana in a cabana

Don’t need another house around your place? Perhaps a cabana is just the thing for watching the natural world go by.

Sweetwater Bungalows of Truckee, Calif., introduces the new Sweetwater Cabana, the ultimate outdoor daybed. The inspiration here is from the simple Indonesian pavilions called bales and the comfortable daybeds in Hawaii called Hikie’es. Put this little sanctuary by the pool, in the garden, on a deck or patio. Or use it as a hot-tub pavilion. The cabana is handcrafted from sustainable Indonesian hardwood with a Sunbrella fabric top. The cabana prices out at $5,200. The mattress and slipcover are sold separately, with an average price of $500.

A bungalow to go

If you’re the type who likes to be indoors even in the out-of-doors, you might pause to ponder the actual bungalow from that same bunch at Sweetwater Bungalows. Yurts are so yesterday, you know.

The bungalows are weathertight tent-cabin kits but elevated to practically new-home status with enamel windows and storm doors. Throw in a double French door or windows with grids, if it strikes your fancy. All you add is labor. The bungalows combine sturdiness with a wood frame and lightness with fabric walls (they appear to glow at night). The walls of the bungalow shell and rain fly are 10-ounce laminated polyester-vinyl; the shell canvas ceiling, 10-ounce cotton duck.

They were inspired by the more rustic wall tents, wood-frame tents and platform tents still used in many national parks, such as Yosemite. But heck, you could use one as a shelter for meditation or yoga, or as a studio or guest cottage.

Cost starts at $25 per square foot, not including platform. The Sonoma, for example, runs $4,100 for the 10-by-12-foot shelter. The 14-by-20 Homestead is $6,900 with a double French door and three windows. Check them out at or call 1-800-587-5054.

Take me to your leader

A strange and wondrous addition to gardens everywhere is designer Jon Santacoloma’s Kanpazar light from B. Lux.

These creatures by man resembling nature are sculpted cones based on the form of a pine tree found only in Spain. The entire polyethylene frame radiates a lovely, warm light. Welcoming pods on a summer’s eve.

The light stands 4 feet 8 inches high and is available in a concrete pot, portable or hard-wired to the ground. The light costs $1,494 from, $1,795.50 for the version with the concrete base.

A-tisket, a-tasket

In go-to-market news from Sur La Table is the Riesenthel Collapsible European Market Tote.

It has a lightweight aluminum frame, and the cushy foam handle is kind to the forearm. The basket is nylon with a zipped interior pocket. It packs flat for storage. The basket measures 10 ½ by 18 ½ by 9 ½ and comes in the classic-yet-ever-cheerful rainbow polka dot and also in two elegant flower designs. The tote costs $35.

This is hot

“A fire doubles in size every minute it burns,” begins the fire-extinguisher press kit.

OK, I’m listening.

And here’s the hook, this fire extinguisher is good-looking enough to leave right out on the counter, close at hand. The HomeHero Kitchen Fire Extinguisher is a sleek, white canister with a molded rubber grip, bright red safety pin and single-hand deployment. It’s so attractive that it is a 2007 IDEA winner for industrial design.

The Home Depot’s HomeHero brand is dedicated to home safety and is the first product line to come from its new “Orange Works,” an innovation and design venture with Arnell Group. Arnell Group would be Peter Arnell, the brains behind ad and brand campaigns for Donna Karan and M&M’s.

The fire extinguisher sells for around $25 at Home Depot. And next up for HomeHero is a combination smoke and carbon-monoxide detector with an interconnected wireless system so all units in the house can communicate with one another.

Got a question for The Goddess? Drop her a line at She’d love to hear from you and will exhaust all avenues available to answer your query.