DIY Sandbox Lid/Bench

After adding the sandbox to the playset last week, I starting thinking about a lid to keep out larger leaves & sticks as well as visiting animals when it isn't in use. A quick search of "DIY sandbox lid" and I had my answer - a lid that opens to form a bench on each end.

There is a great tutorial on Ana White's site about how to build a complete sandbox with the lid/bench. We already had the box so I took measurements and worked on a design to fit ours. I drew up a plan in AutoCAD to determine exactly how many pieces of lumber and what sizes we needed.

The entire project from start to finish took just over 3 hours to build.

And Dylan was more than happy to jump in and try it out once complete.

Eventually I plan to stain it to match the rest of the playset. For now, it's built and we're enjoying it!

Cost: approximately $90


Friday Freebie: Nature Park

Last month the three of us had fun exploring a couple of nature parks. The first was a newer one to the area and the larger of the two - Wilkerson Nature Park. We all had fun playing in the natural playground. Afterward, Dylan selected the lake trail for us to walk. A simple Saturday morning of fun outdoors together.

Supplies: Inspired kit by Tia Hoffman; Happy Camper kit by Sara Schmutz; Gill Sans font.

Similarly, I kept the layout simple to focus on 3 of my favorite photos. The template contains 7 layers including 3 masks for photos or papers, journaling and a leaf stamp. It is free for personal use only.

Click here to download the Nature Park template


Have you missed one of my previous digital freebies? Click HERE to find them. And, don't forget to subscribe to my feeds so you won't miss future freebies!


DIY Mickey Shirt

In preparation for our Disney trip, I decided to make a t-shirt for myself. Somehow the boys each have Disney tees (ok, so Dylan has enough to outfit him for a week), but I had none. I decided to try a bleach method I had seen on various sites and make my own.

  • T-shirt
  • freezer paper
  • Mickey silhouette
  • spray bottle with 60/40 mix of bleach & water

I google image searched for the Mickey silhouette. I planned to print it and then trace, but quickly took a lazier easier route - I held a piece of freezer paper to the screen and lightly traced it with a Sharpie. Seriously. It looked the right size and was a lot quicker than scaling & printing.

After you have your design, cut it out and iron it onto the shirt. Then place a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the bleach from going through. Spray with the bleach/water mix and let dry.

After the shirt has dried, rinse it in cold water to help remove any excess bleach. Machine wash and dry. I washed mine alone just in case any bleach was remaining and used hot water intentionally trying to shrink it a tad since it was a little loose.

Then end result ...

a fun and unique t-shirt.


Progress on the Yard

Our yard received a little needed attention yesterday. As we try to balance out a rather long "to do" list around our new house, the nice 60s temperatures this weekend had me wanting to make progress on at least one of the flower beds I wanted to add. A lot easier to do the digging and planting in cooler weather. I've had my eye on this mailbox garden plan from BHG for several years, but the mailbox at our last house was surrounded on all sides with curb, driveway, sidewalk, and inground telephone cable box - limiting what I could do. Now that I have plenty of space, it's time to play.

The first round of plants - similar to those specified in the plan.
I used the plan for general plant guidelines and layout. I'm adjusting the layout to include the existing crepe myrtle. I still need to buy and add a few of the smaller infill plants and, for now, I've left some existing bulb plants from previous residents (directly in front of mailbox - curious to see exactly what they are).

The "almost complete" flower garden.
Our other completed project that's the favorite of a certain little boy - the new sandbox! We had debated whether or not to add one beneath the playset. Finally decided to give it a go.

A very happy little boy enjoying his new sandbox.
Trent prepped it while I was working on the flowers and all 3 of us added the sand. It was hard to get Dylan to come out of there last night! Hopefully it will help give him additional entertainment while Trent & I work on other yard projects in the coming months.


Crib Teething Rail Cover for 'Little Miss'

I was honored when I was asked to make the crib rail cover for our playgroup's newest member.

I made a slight change from my previous covers and made bias tape from the fabric to add around the edges. I really like how it looked.

Hopefully 'Little Miss' enjoys it too!


Pink & Pearls Tea Shower

Expecting the second girl to join our playgroup of 10 little ones soon, we were all pink happy and quickly settled on a shower theme of "pink & pearls."

Afternoon tea at the Washington Duke Inn has become a bit of a tradition. My talented friends decorated the table with a diaper cake and sweet little teapot favors.

I made the invite and failed to get a direct photo (oops!). To finish off our theme, we all wore pink and pearls, of course. It was a wonderful Sunday afternoon and went by entirely too fast! Looking forward to having 'Little Miss' join us on a future tea date.


Disney Countdown!

For better or worse, we shared the news with Dylan that we're headed to Walt Disney World next month for a much needed family vacation. We figured it wouldn't really ruin the surprise since at 3 and a half, he doesn't begin to comprehend what it means enough to know what we're doing. He does know it's big and exciting. My guess is he's comparing it to his two recent Great Wolf Lodge trips. Before the second trip, we were frequently told that he wanted to go "today" even when it was weeks off. To help him visualize, we marked his calendar with a pawprint sticker leftover from the first trip (so glad I saved that!).

For Disney, we did a bit of the same. I helped him mark the days on his calendar with Disney stickers from a recent DVD club mailer. Easy, free and a good visual. But thanks to too much time spent on Pinterest, I decided to do one more thing - create a paper chain.

It hangs on the side of our fridge next to his chore chart (good reminder to earn those stars!) and I spelled out "Days to Disney" using his Melissa & Doug magnets. He was so excited and, amazingly, has been really good about tearing only one off - at night after dinner with us watching. We all cheer as the chain gets one link shorter.

There are some really clever chains pinned, but this newly fulltime working mama still trying to find that balance between work, family, crafting, etc kept it simple. Next time though, I think I might like to try one with the Mickey ears on the black links. So cute.



Dylan proudly learning how to pedal his tricycle last summer:

Supplies: Live, Love, Laugh papers by Jennifer Donegan; Tu Es Jolie Vintage Mail Labels by Sara Schmutz; Fly Away with Me elements by Sarah Sullivan; Vanity Fair Cerulean alpha by Jen Allyson.


Seuss Shirt - the layout

Dylan really hammed it up for me when I wanted photos of his Seuss shirt last month. This one was one of my favorites and worked really well with DHD's April Blueprint Challenge template.

Supplies: DHD April Blueprint Challenge template: Hexes! by Mary Shaw; Linen Line No 3 papers by Agnes Biro; Mellow alpha (stitches) by Robyn Meierotto; 2peas font: Peas & Carrots.


Great Wolf Lodge Photo Book

One of the perks of staying at Great Wolf Lodge is a code for a free 8x8 Shutterfly photo book to preserve all those memories. I honestly forgot and even misplaced the one we got in November until we arrived last month in Williamsburg and I found it in a hidden pocket in our suitcase! Thankfully, it hadn't expired.

After our weekend trip, I was quick to upload photos and start my book. While the code is good for any 8x8 book, I decided to use the Great Wolf Lodge themed option. It arrived over Easter weekend and all 3 of us quickly piled together on the sofa to look through it.

Here are a few of the pages ...
We started our weekend with a visit to Historic Jamestowne.

At the end of River Canyon Run - the one big slide Dylan rode.

The wave pool.

The bucket dumping water and a tired boy with his parents.

Glad to have another batch of memories preserved and in our collection of photo books & scrapbooks to enjoy.


How We Sold our House in One Showing

Since spring means the typical start in the uptick of homes hitting the market (and I forgot to share before now), I thought I'd share how we sold ours late last summer. We had actually originally discussed listing in the spring. Spring a year ago. But, like often happens, life happened and we held off. In the end, it probably worked out for the best.

As the title states, we did in fact sell our house in one showing within just hours of listing. Here are the details that led up to it ...

Staging and Repairs
I mentioned in this post about house hunting how much of a difference staging makes. We started preparing/staging the house in May. Clearing out extra stuff by packing boxes, separating out donations and tossing the rest. We rented a 5x10 storage unit and filled it full with extra furniture and many of the boxes we'd already packed. Doing our best to make our 1350sf home feel as spacious as possible and still comfortably house the 2 of us, 1 toddler and 1 cat.

We did a few obvious repairs, fixes. Fresh caulk and new toilet seats in the bathrooms. New, neutral paint in the master bedroom. Freshening the outdoor flowerbeds with new mulch. Hiring a company to power wash the house, porch, sidewalk and drive as well as clean the gutters.

We actually called the Realtor after we had already completed these things and, I confess, I was relieved when she said we were in great shape. Even to let go of a few of the things that were still on my 'to do' list. Once we actually started touring other houses, I got it. Even in this age of HGTV and shows that stress all the things to do to help improve your selling, it's unbelievable the utter messes you will walk into. One house, truthfully, we were all nervous about walking in because it was so dark and filthy. That's another story, but proof that staging (and even just cleaning up!) before a showing makes a difference.

Professional Photos
We were fortunate that our realty company offered professional photos for free. Also staging assuming you kept your house listed for a certain amount of time (unless it sold faster) but we had made enough progress and our house sold so fast that it was never necessary. When I saw our listing online I saw the difference the professional photographs made. Purely from my hobby I knew they would be better, but when you compared them to listings with standard photographs - those just didn't have the same impact.

We had been watching the market and knew homes in our neighborhood were selling fast. Simply - price and location, location, location. Both things that originally attracted us to the area.

We finally chose a Monday to list the house. The first Monday in August. We had the house in pretty good shape, but assumed (wrongly) that we wouldn't have requests for showings until the weekend. Nope. Try mid-afternoon. Dylan was napping (do not wake my child!) and, there was a bit of tidying up that I felt needed to be done. I asked to have the showing pushed back 30 minutes. A short time later I received another call (while dripping in sweat from running around in the August heat like a mad woman trying to get every detail inside and out just perfect) that the showing was cancelled. What? And so I admitted my failings to both Trent and our Realtor. Our Realtor was awesome - don't worry about it. You'll be ready for the next one.

The First & Only Showing
After Trent got home, we loaded the car to take more boxes to the storage unit. Barely a mile from home, we had our second call requesting a showing. This time, we accepted immediately as I u-turned it back to the now tidy house to turn on lights and put a sign on the door to please not let out the cat. Then we took our time eating dinner out and dropping off the boxes at the storage unit. Later that night when we returned, we were hopeful it went well and that we would get good feedback.

The next morning, instead of feedback, we had an email from our Realtor sharing the offer. We had a small bit of back and forth, but that was it. One showing, one full price offer and within 48 hours all the paperwork signed. The closing didn't happen until late September to give us time to find a new house, but the showings were over and done.

In the end, it boiled down to three simple things - price, location and inventory. The day we listed, we were the only single family home in our price range in our area. I honestly believe it was key in helping us sell in one showing. And while there was still a good bit of stress in finding our new house in the time frame between the offer and closing, it was a huge relief especially with a toddler, to not have to continue to keep our home in "ready to show" shape for an extended period.


Wordless Wednesday: Wall Painting

Linking up to Wordless Wednesday


No Foolin'

Over the weekend we shared the news with Dylan that we have a special trip planned for May ...

As much as Trent & I love Disney, we honestly hadn't planned to take him until he was a bit older. Every once and a while, things just seem to align and this was one of those times. An opportunity arose and we decided to go for it. Let the countdown begin!