Wednesday, August 2, 2017

DIY Cinder Block Umbrella Stand

I've been slowly but surely updating my patio and making it more kid friendly.  When I created the Kids Rock Garden, I knew it would needed to be shaded.  Adding an umbrella next to that area would certainly provide shade and since we already have an umbrella at our patio table, I just bought the same color for the kids play area.   Next up was to find just the right umbrella stand. I wanted it sturdy but didn't want to pay the $50+ price tags for the options out there.  That lead me to see if there was a cheaper yet sturdier DIY option.  Of course there was and it only cost $6.21!

In the past,we've had a couple of those offset cantilever umbrellas.  Below is a picture of one from amazon for a really good price, but I wouldn't buy one again because we haven't had much luck with them.
I like them because they are out of the way and the kids can have shade without running into an umbrella.  Over the past 10 years we've lived here I think we've gotten three because they keep braking due to the wind.  So, I knew I didn't want one of those again.  Since this umbrella would be in the flower bed I wouldn't have to worry about kids running into it, but I still needed to make sure it would withstand the winds that blow across the fields behind our house.  

I got my inspiration from Sara over at Pot Belly Bird HERE.  She lives in Chicago and has a rooftop patio so she needed an umbrella stand that could stand up to the windy city.  She went the extra step and added flowers to her cinder block umbrella stand.  One of these days I might get around to doing that.

This set up seemed like the perfect thing for my area and oh so easy to make.  I couldn't wait to get started but first I had to find the cinder blocks.  I thought I could just get them from Lowes or Home Depot.  And while they both had the regular 8x8x16 hollow cinder blocks, they did not have any 8x8x8 hollow cinder blocks.  They wouldn't do site to store with free shipping and I didn't feel like driving two hours to the nearest store which had them in stock.  I almost thought about abandoning this DIY project, but then I remembered we have a local building supply company about 20 minutes away.  I called and yes, they had exactly what I needed and better yet, it was cheaper than the other stores.  I purchased 2 of the 8x8x16 hollow cinder blocks and 3 of the 8x8x8 hollow cinder blocks for a grand total of $6.21.   

First up was to make a level base for the cinder blocks to set on.  I just used one of the concrete pavers that was used to weigh down the base of our old cantilever umbrella.

I layed down the 8x8x16 cinder block first, then added the 8x8x8 cinder block next to it.  I added the other 8x8x16 cinder block on top of the 8x8x8 block and half of the 8x8x16 block.

Then I added the remaining two 8x8x8 blocks on top of that, making sure they all lined up.

Then I placed my umbrella pole inside and filled around it with some rocks I had left over from the Kids Rock Garden project.

I wiggled the umbrella pole and everything felt nice and sturdy.  No fear of this thing getting blown over.

What a cute shady spot for my son to play in.

 And if I wanted to fancy up those plain ol' cinder blocks, I could always paint them like Bethany from Reality Day Dream did HERE.  The colors she used would even match my umbrella.

Be sure to check out my other patio updates:

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Kids Rock Garden

Earlier this summer, I converted a small portion of my flower bed into a rock garden for my two year old to play in.  

We have this large patio out back and with a grill and picnic table at one end, and some play toys for the kids at the other.  There's a little play house and a water table so I thought I'd add a rock garden to that side as well. 

My two year old son loves to play with rocks.  He likes to scoop them up and move them from one pile to another.  I'm all for getting kids to play outside, so I decided to make him his very own rock garden.

I took a little section of the flower bed that surrounds our patio and laid down some paper so weeds wouldn't grow up through the rocks. 

Not sure if that would prevent weeds, I also laid some black plastic (actually it was a garbage bag) on top of the paper.  And I didn't like the 2x4 wood edges so I swapped them out for some large rocks we happened to have laying around outside.  

Since I wanted my son to be able to scoop up the rocks, I thought I'd get some small rocks to fill up that area.  I did buy some small rocks but they weren't small enough for scooping with his kid sized plastic shovels.  That's when I decided to use aquarium gravel.  Walmart had this bright purple color on clearance for $1 a bag, so that's what we got.  I used 4 five pound bags for my space.  

I surrounded the purple gravel with the small rocks and added a board so he could drive his cars.

It's cute and colorful and he does like to play in there.  The only issue is that the gravel doesn't stay in the rock garden.  Nothing that a broom can't fix though.

I also noticed that he mostly plays in the front of the rock garden since that's where he sits and his arms can't reach to the back of it where the retaining wall pavers are.  So I moved all the purple gravel to the front and filled in the back with the small rocks.  Now he has more gravel to dig through and as he gets older he has another section to play in.  

I even painted the board to make it look like a road for his cars, although his favorite thing to do is to scoop the rocks into various cups and containers.  I'm also thinking about getting some little plastic dinosaurs to add to the mix.  

It's been a fun little area for him to play in.  

This isn't the only kid friendly upgrade to our patio.  
Check out the Flower Bed Tot Spot I created earlier this spring.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Spray Paint a Lamp Shade for a Custom Look

When it comes to decorating, I feel like I bounce around from room to room never finishing one space before starting the next.  And by the time I go back to a room that I've started decorating, I've changed my style and want to do something different.  Anyone else have that problem?  

For my 2 year old son's room, I decided to do a red and blue color scheme.  He has blue bedding and curtains so all I had to do was put in some red.  I had a lamp on his dresser but didn't like the lamp shade so I bought a drum shade at a thrift store.  I was planning to paint it anyway even though it was pretty close to the color I wanted.  If you look closely you'll notice that it had faded on one side.  Like I said, not a big deal because I was going to paint it.  

The photo above is the before and the photo below is the after.  

You can see how much richer and brighter the color is in the before and after comparison below.

I love when things match, and by match I mean match exactly.  I used the same color to spray paint several picture frames.  Don't mind the wall stickers behind some of the pictures.  They were from when this room was my daughter's nursery.  If I take those off, the paint comes off too and I'm not ready to paint this room.

I just love this caricature of my little guy.  Those dimples and sly smile capture his personality perfectly.

Now each side of his room has a bit of red.  I love being able to customize a color scheme using something as simple and easy as spray paint.  And if I want to change color schemes in a few years (or months) it will be cheap and easy to do.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

DIY Pencil Sharpener

Right after school let out, we took a little vacation to Williamsburg, VA.  It was about a 4 hour car ride and my older daughter loves to pass the time reading or drawing.  With hours to doodle in the car, she knew she'd have to sharpen her pencil several times.  We have lots of those cheap pencil sharpeners but no sharpeners that contain the shavings.  So, being the creative genius that she is, she came up with a way to keep all her pencil sharpening shavings from filling up the car.  She thought of this idea and put it together all by herself.  She didn't even search Pinterest, but if you want to see a video of the process, you can check out this Pin.

Supplies used:

Pencil sharpener
Empty tic tac container
Hot glue gun

All she did was hot glue the pencil sharpener into the tic tac container.

That's it.  It only takes a few seconds and now you have a way to contain your pencil shavings. 

You can use this while traveling, for school, or drawing at home in your bed late at night when you should be sleeping (yeah, my daughter does that).

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Line Design Art

This week both my girls are at an Art Camp, so I thought I'd share some cool art we made a little while ago.  It's easy to create and looks oh so cool.  You could make this again and again and never have the same look.

I originally found the idea HERE at Art with Mr. E
Be sure to check out his blog for more ideas about how to make your own line design art.

Step 1:  Draw a slightly wavy line across the page.
Step 2:  Place several dots on the line various distances apart.

Step 3:  Draw bubble type lines from one dot to the next.

Step 4: Be sure to vary the shape and direction of the lines going from one dot to the next.  You can make them curve or get bubblier/bigger.  Make sure the lines never cross over each other.

Step 5:  Add color.  You can use pencils, markers, crayons, watercolors....

And here's where my daughter lost interest.  I'm pretty sure she spent at least an hour doing this much.  If interests wanes in this project maybe you could spread it out over several days, use different coloring mediums or patterns.

Another fun art project to try would be this Optical Illusion Handprint:

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