Shopping Siren recently discovered there is such a thing as The Nugget.

It’s a low, microsuede-covered foam couch that comes with a base, a cushion and two triangle pillows that someone — maybe a creative child, maybe a bored adult who’s already watched everything on Netflix, thank you pandemic — can configure into a million different forts, castles, boats and general play structures.

The $229 couch was already a favorite of families. And then COVID-19 hit and The Nugget suddenly became A Thing as desperate parents needed ways to keep their kids from destroying the house. The couches kept selling out so fast that the company had to institute a lottery. You didn’t win a free couch. You won the ability to buy one.

Nuggets are back for sale online, no more lottery needed, though they won’t ship for months. Which leaves a lot of families with a problem as little Elsbethia and Kennithy start eyeing the living room’s glass coffee table as cool jumping off point for their 11th round of The Floor is Lava.

Need a way to entertain the kids and stay sane this winter? Bliss is on it! Shopping Siren found some Maine-made or Maine-sold things that don’t have to be A Thing to save your sanity and your coffee table.

Bring on the throwing axes!*


* No, really.

• Kids Playhouse Original, Kids Crooked House, $2,149

These Maine-made crooked playhouses were their own parental obsession about 10 years ago. (Remember the reality show “Jon and Kate Plus 8”? Crooked houses! The kids happened to get them on the same episode Jon and Kate announced their separation. The playhouses almost certainly had nothing to do with the couple’s divorce and eventual descent into madness. Probably.)

They’re pretty standard playhouses but hand constructed to look both cockeyed and whimsical, like something from a Dr. Seuss book. But Seuss-level whimsy doesn’t come cheap. A couple of thousand dollars will get you the base model, and that’s on sale. If you’ve got a ton of cash to spare, check out the custom-made, multibuilding Christmas Village for $22,000. I mean, your kids probably don’t need a college fund, right?

Playroom See-Saw, CedarWorks, $350

Rockport-based CedarWorks designs and manufactures a ton of cool looking wooden playroom gear, including toy boxes and playhouses, but this looks like the biggest blast. It’s an indoor seesaw! Or teeter-totter! Whatever you call it (*cough* teeter-totter), it’ll keep your kids entertained for at least 10 minutes guaranteed.*


* There is no guarantee. Good luck fixing dinner.

Sonic Slider Sled, two-pack, L.L. Bean, $39.95

Sure, the pandemic means you probably can’t let your kids loose at the children’s museum or, depending on the local situation, school, but outdoors is still a safe haven if you do it, you know, safely. Grab this sled two-pack and your kid and a friend can race down a hill socially distanced, burning off energy with each run. It’s a Hanukkah/Christmas/New Year’s 2021 miracle.

Vintage ring toss game, LucysArtEmporium on Etsy, $16

Before Minecraft, YouTube and Disney+, we entertained ourselves with games of skill and cunning. Like ring toss! Someone from Eliot is selling this 1950s version through Etsy and it looks. . . very vintage. Your kids will surely be intrigued by the novelty if nothing else. And, who knows, maybe they’ll get hooked and practice constantly and then place first in a high-end international ring toss tournament where they’ll win a million dollars and give it all to you so you can retire early. What? Stranger things have happened in 2020.

Board and card games, RC Hobbies, $4.75 and up


Forget Candy Land and Uno. This Dixfield shop has dozens of family-friendly board and card games you’ve never heard of but your kids are sure to love. (I’m looking at you, Duck Duck Bruce.) Buy a bunch and then pull out a new one at random when your kids are bored — surprise, it’s Panda Monium! Surprise, it’s Igor: The Monster Making Game! Surprise, it’s time for bed! Just slip that last one in there, they won’t even notice.

Axe throwing kit, Island Treasure Toys, $25.99

Foam axes. I am not crazy enough to encourage you to travel to this toy store in Bath or to click online to buy your small children real axe throwing equipment. Wait until they’re at least 8. Sheesh.

Airfort, $59.99 at Island Treasure Toys. It’s a fort! It’s a tent! It’s going to keep your kids entertained long enough for you to fold the laundry.

Best find: Airfort, Island Treasure Toys, $59.99

What’s more than 6 feet in diameter, over 4 feet tall and will keep your kids happy forever? This Toy of the Year finalist. It inflates like a hot air balloon, but with a box fan rather than flame. Comes in camo or pink.  My personal favorite, a starry night design, sold out before I could finish writing this column, that’s how quick they go. So grab one now before there’s another Nugget situation. If this play fort is going to be A Thing, let it be one in your living room.

Think twice: Coylin Coffee Table, Furniture Superstore, $186

It’s glass, it’s brushed nickel, it’s gorgeous. It’s the perfect height for a 5-year-old to climb. Maybe wait until next year.

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who promise not to eat their foam dog bed again, again) and the customer service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at

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