Tuesday, July 30, 2013

DIY Sandbox

I am always looking for the next neat thing for Miss Priss to play with and a few months ago I wanted to get her a sandbox.  I thought she would really enjoy it and it was something that would keep her occupied while we were outside doing yard work and I had been looking for some fun sensory play activities for her too.

Now, I know that they sell the turtle sandboxes with lids that are super cute, but they were about $40 the last time I checked and that is just too much for me to spend on something that is only used a portion of the year and so the best part of my sandbox is that I was able to do this for less than $20!  Are you kidding me???  Nope, less than $20 and my little one had a sandbox all to herself.  I went to Wal-Mart, where I go for everything, and bought a $10 swimming pool, 5 bags of sand and a few sandbox toys for her to play with. 

I was super excited when I brought it home and so was Miss Priss, though up until just a few weeks ago though, she didn't want to get into the sandbox!  She loved playing with the sand, but she always stood around the edge of the sandbox and just played from there rather than sitting directly in it.  She apparently doesn't like the feel of the sand on her feet...or her bottom!  (This was also the case when we took a family vacation to the beach last Thanksgiving and she screamed at the top of her lungs each time I tried to put her in the sand or even lay her on a towel in the sand!  This made for quite a nice vacation inside the condo. LOL) 

But, a few weeks ago when the neighbors came over for a cookout, the little boy down the street started playing in the sandbox and wouldn't you know...Miss Priss wanted to play in it too!  Go figure...I should have invited them over long before then.  She immediately wanted to get in as well and since then, she has been happy to get into the sandbox and get dirty.  She ends up with sand everywhere you can think of, including her face, and she loves it!

A few things to note for next time are that even though the pool in small, that sand weighs a LOT and you better put it where you want to keep it because it isn't easy to move back and forth across the patio.  This "sandbox" doesn't come with a lid and so if you are concerned about water getting into it during a heavy rain then you had better get a big piece of plastic or wood to cover the top and keep the water out.  We did this during the spring months when it was raining a lot at one time, but this summer we have left it open and just give it a few days to dry out.  It is on the covered patio and so doesn't get completely soaked, but there are days that the sand gets very wet and we try to occupy Miss Priss with something else until the sand dries out.
 DIY Sandbox
You will need:
  • plastic swimming pool or tub
  • bags of sand (or whatever you want to use as filler)
  • sandbox toys
  • plastic or piece of wood for covering
You can do what I did and use a plastic swimming pool or you could use any other kind of plastic tub that you think your baby can get in and out of without getting hurt.  I thought the plastic pool was the easiest, but there are many things that would work for a small space and a small budget!
There isn't much to it really, just pick a spot for your sandbox and fill 'er up!  This is great for babies (that are not putting everything in their mouths) and for toddlers so can be used for several years. 

I have also heard of people using rice or beans rather than sand and so here are a few thoughts about those.  If you are putting together a box indoors, rice or beans might make it less messy and easier to cleanup than sand.  Yes, rice and beans can go everywhere too, but lets face it...have you eve tried to clean up sand (or salt)...it is NOT fun!  But if you are planning to keep your box outdoors there is a high possibility of the rice or beans getting wet and we all know what happens when water touches rice or beans...yup, they expand and they get mushy!  that would be a mess!  Keep these tips in mind when trying to decide what you would like your child to play in.

They even make colored sand, but I decided that we would probably "lose" some to the surrounding patio, the water table, and whatever else Miss Priss thinks that it needs to go into and so I didn't want to pay the additional money for the coloring.  I think that the toys are colorful enough for her.
I have seen some ideas for a covered sandbox which also can be used as seating or a play deck for the kids.  Some of them even have a roof covering to keep the sun out so that you don't have to take up space on your patio and can move it away from the house some.  Since they appear to be so versatile, I want to build Miss Priss one of these eventually, but for now our pink swimming pool will work just fine!

Friday, July 12, 2013

DIY Wooden Firecrackers

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays...I like summer and popping firecrackers of course.  During my long and much needed vacation from work I did a little craftiness that turned out to be better that I had anticipated!
my mom sent me a picture for an idea to make firecrackers from wood and we decided to start on it immediately...since it was July 2nd.  She had some wooden fence posts left over from a new fence that she had jut gotten put up and that made this project super cheap and easy.
We wanted to make more, but didn't have enough time before the holiday so I guess I will have to go ahead and start making them for next year!
DIY Wooden Firecrackers
You will need:
  • wooden post or dowel rods (I used fence posts)
  • spray paint or other paint and brush
  • scrap piece of rope
  • wood glue
  • tape for taping off edges
  • miter saw or other saw for cutting posts
  • glitter or other embellishments
  • wooden stars and wire
  • Cricut or other die cut machine
  • paper for letters
  • Modpodge and brush
Okay, so lets get started!  First of all, you will need to cut your wooden posts, dowel rods or whatever you decided to use for your firecrackers.  I used a miter saw, but whatever you had that will cut your wood will be fine.
Cut the posts into three different sizes to make a set.  We picked 12", 18" and 24" and also made a smaller miniature set with the leftover posts after cutting the others.

Then, just because they were a little rough on the edges and had been sitting outside for several weeks, we sanded all around the edges to make sure that we wouldn't get any splinters! Ouch!

Miss Priss didn't want to go to bed so she stayed up and helped us too! :)
After cutting the posts, use a drill to put a hole in the top of each one for the 'fuse'.  Make sure that you use a drill bit that is comparable to the size of rope you will be putting in that hole to make your 'fuse' and that you make the hole deep enough that you can put the fuse into it and secure it well so that it wont fall out.
Now start taping your firecrackers for whatever design you are going to make. 
There are several different designs that you could pick and you can see a few of ours above, but the ones that I am showing you here are for the blue on top and then red and white stripe below.
After taping, and painting and then taping and painting some more, we finally have our blocks ready to go for sanding.  As you can see, the tape doesn't always work exactly like I want it to, but that is okay because for this set we made it look 'antique' like and it worked out perfectly.
We sanded the edges of the colors where they meet as well as along the colors themselves to blend in the stripes and the bleeding paint.  the one on the left has been sanded down and the one on the right was the original paint job before sanding. 
See the difference?  The colors are not as bright, but the lines blend together better.
Cut three pieces of rope and fray the edges a little bit...you only have to do this on one side, but when I cut the rope, it frayed itself a little anyway so both sides look frayed.  Also make sure that you leave enough room for it to be pushed into the top of the post and still have enough of a 'fuse' hanging out the top.
Using wood glue, or whatever glue you prefer...put some glue into the holes that you have drilled on top and place the rope into the hold.  I pushed down and held the rope in place for a bit to make sure that it was getting all the way into the glue at the bottom of the hole.
You can then use a lighter to burn the tops of your rope to make it look like it has been lit already and to keep them from fraying any more.  The kind of rope that we used didn't really look much like it has been lit, but it did keep it from fraying so we decided to go ahead and do that to each one.
Design them however you would like.  We used some Modpodge and glitter on a few of ours.  My mom painted the letters on this one below, but I don't have as pretty of handwriting and so I would rather cut them out on my Cricut and Modpodge them on that way...either way would look great!
I have also seen some with wooden stars painted and attached with wire to the firecracker...I love those!
There you go!  I bet you never thought you would make homemade firecrackers...and that it would be so much fun!