June 26, 2013

How to Build a Simple Happy Sandbox


My twins turned two this week (How did this happen? Where have the last two years gone?)  and for their gift my husband and I (okay, mostly me) decided that we (meaning mostly him) would build a sandbox. 

Step 1:  Source some sand.

This will vary by region, obviously, but we found that buying landscape sand from a local landscape place is about a 1/4 the price of bagged play sand and works just fine.   If you need the sand delivered, closer is better because delivery, at least in our neck of the woods, costs more than the sand itself.

We needed about 24 cubic feet of sand, which is about forty eight 50lb bags of play sand, which would have cost us upwards of 200 dollars.  Yikes.  After some calling around, we were able to buy one cubic yard (27 cubic feet) of landscape sand for 18 dollars plus a 20 dollar delivery fee.  Much better.  Phew


Step 2: Cut the boards

We started with four 8 foot long spruce 2x10's.  My hubby cut the four sandbox sides to be 73 1/2 inches long (6 feet plus the 1 1/2 inch width of the 2x10. Yes...a 2 by 10 is really 1 1/2 x 9 1/4.  Silly, I know.) and used the leftovers to make 4 triangular "seats" that add sturdiness to the corners of the box.




Step 3: Sand Boards

I meant to get a picture of my husband sanding the boards and got distracted by his adorable little helper.  Blogger picture taking fail.



Step 4: Paint boards

We used 2 coats of the paint leftover from when I painted our front doors.  I *love love love* this colour lately.  



Step 5: screw sandbox sides together.

We laid an old tarp underneath to discourage grass and weeds from growing up through the sand.



Step 6: Screw seats to the corners. 


Step 7: Fill with sand and add a cute beach umbrella for shade. 


Step 8: Reconcile yourself to the fact that your house will be sandy all summer long.   Tell guests it's part of a beach theme you've got going on.




Cost Breakdown
lumber...................................40.00
sand......................................45.00 (including taxes and tip)
leftover paint and old tarp.......free
Pretty Umbrella.....................10.00

Total cost of giant happy sandbox.........95$
Totally worth every penny!
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June 17, 2013

How to Give Up Paper Towels Forever


Our family hasn't bought any paper towels since last summer. In fact, with the exception of toilet paper, (which we aren't giving up.  ever. ) we've bought very few disposable products at all.

Not only does it free up some space in our grocery budget, save trees, create less trash and decrease the pollution involved in the production, packaging and distribution of disposable paper products, all while teaching our children about the value of caring for our good green earth...

...it is also totally do-able.  Like, I don't even miss paper towels.


Here's what you will want to have around the house in order to go paper towel-free (psss... you likely already have most of these things)
  • Rags for cleaning things.  We have three types or rags in our house: blue rags for the kitchen, yellow rags for the bathroom, and miscellaneous rags made from old clothing and whatnot for everything else.
  • Cloth serviettes/napkins for wiping ketchup off your face.  They are also way classier and look super nice folded at the table for a dinner party. We bought most of ours second hand or on clearance and slowly built a mismatched yet still sorta kinda coordinated stash of them.
  • Old towels for big spills. (affectionately called "pee towels" in our home. we have a three year old boy who is at that potty-trained-but-still-easily-distracted stage of life. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about how they got their name....)
  • Bar mop towels for everyday spills and messes. These are what primarily replaced paper towels in our home. I keep a stack in a drawer at kid level and taught my kids to make use of them if they spill their juice or track mud through the house.

Here are some more tips for paper-free success:

Soak the grease off fried or fatty foods by placing them on a used paper bag. Whenever I get groceries in a paper bag, I save the bag to be repurposed later. I've heard of people using newspaper for this but I've seen how much ink comes off on my fingers, I don't want that on my chicken parmigiana.

Get perfectly cooked, not greasy bacon every time by cooking your bacon in the oven. No paper towel draining necessary.

Use your oldest, rattiest rags for the super messy jobs, then they can get thrown out if need be after a long and useful life.

Make it easy on yourself by keeping rags, cloths and towels in convenient places. I keep bathroom cleaning rags in the bathroom, bar mop towels in the kitchen, serviettes near the table. In fact, now that I have the right tools for the job in each room of the house, using cloth is way more convenient than always running to the kitchen for the paper towels ever was.



If you are up to it, why not make some of these un-paper towels?  They are super cute and can sit on a paper towel holder on your counter.  Fun fun fun!

But isn't it a lot of laundry? I recognize that living paper towel-free doesn't work for everyone, but if you own a washing machine and have a family, you are probably already doing multiple loads a week.  A few small cloths and rags won't change that.

What about germs?
  Let's face it, if you have kids or pets there is probably on occasion some pretty gross things in your washing machine. You don't throw your kid's bedsheets out because they peed their bed, you just wash them with soap and hot water and trust that they are clean, right?  I just keep kitchen rags separate from bathroom rags and wash icky things in hot when possible.  Simple as that.

Won't guests think I'm weird if they ask for paper towel and I don't have any? Maybe.  But you'll hand them a towel or a serviette instead and I'm sure they'll be just fine.

See.  You can totally do this.  
In the interest of full disclosure.... Last week we were at a birthday party and as we were pulling out of the driveway it became apparent that the combination of bouncy castle and hotdogs did not agree with my son's stomach. My friend, armed with a roll of paper towels, came to the rescue. And I was very thankful for that.
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June 5, 2013

How to Paint An Exterior Door


I've had a hard time finding a colour I like for my exterior doors. Our siding is a greyish sage green colour that doesn't go with much. Originally, I painted the doors burgundy, but that wasn't really my style. I tried black, too stark. I settled on beige for a couple years, and lived with it.

This year the doors were *finally* in need of a new coat of paint so I jumped at the chance to try a new colour, and oh.my.word I like it. A lot.

Anyways, in my extensive painting and repainting of every paintable surface in my home I've learned this: With paint, you get what you pay for. Quality paints go farther, smooth better, and dry harder.  Buy a good quality exterior paint and primer combo.  I used Valspar Duramax in"Sun Spark". Did I mention I lovelovelovelovelove it?



Start by sanding your door with a fine sanding block. You just want to rough up the surface a bit so that the new paint adheres well to the door. Dust it with a damp cloth and allow to dry thoroughly.



Tape off any parts of the door you do not wish to get paint on.


Using a good quality paint brush, apply two thin coats of paint to the door, starting in crevices and decorative pieces and then do the flat areas. Allow to dry about one hour between coats.


Apply one more coat of paint, this time with small roller to avoid visible brush marks. I prefer foam rollers for this, but I was out of those and used a microfibre one I had on hand instead.  


Once dry to the touch, peel off the tape and step back to enjoy your happy new door!


Or go paint two more of them.....


 

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