This week the supplies were purchased, flower box was built, and an outline of my updated designs drafted and plotted out in the grass (see the cedar posts? apparently cedar landscaping ties aren't available as they're not requested enough). I went with cedar because it is a natural pest deterrant and it smells great when it's damp. Next I need to dig out a bit more around the pit, line it with landscaping fabric, add rocks for drainage (maybe a cute dry river effect too) and then dump sand in one corner and playground mulch over the rest. The difference (in case you're wondering) between playground mulch and regular garden bed mulch is that playground mulch is natural cedar that comes a bit larger to help cushion falls. Natural cedar Garden mulch is smaller, shredded and less cushioning.
So far Ella loves the 'kitchen shelf' I added to the flower box (it was going to be a kiddie bench, but mud kitchen works too). She insisted on trying it out right away and asked to make cupcakes. Ok that only requires an old cupcake tray and one wooden spoon. She was putting dirt 'sprinkles' on the mud cupcakes when I suggested she harvest 'sprinkles' from the flowers. Her eyes lit up when mommy gave her permission to pick the flowers to use them for play! I figure why not. If they're garden grown and will come back next year or die in a few weeks, at least she gets some extra enjoyment out of them! I do frown upon flower picking or nature disruption when on walks, but in my backyard let them pick the flowers.