Monday, June 30, 2014

Kids' Art Idea: Flag-Making

   It's almost red-white-and-blue time!  

This was a self-directed activity for my almost 6-year old, but it adds another use for old cloth diapers (though this is a single-use activity).


He took a little flag we had as a model, and cut a piece of muslin cloth (aka cloth diaper) to size.  Then he decorated it with fabric markers.

Then he asked for some help and I ironed it flat and ironed the edges under, then --he is totally capable of sewing with my machine but asked me to do it-- I sewed a zig-zag around the edges.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Old Mailbox into Kids Playhouse Mailbox

We just got a new mailbox and thought it might be fun to let the kids have the old one for their playhouse (it is white, on the left in the photo).  To give it to them, we cut it down using the circular saw (I had to turn the post a few times to get through it).  Then we dug a hole and stuck it in.  I am debating if we will cement it in or not.  It is a bit wobbly in the ground, as I just patted the ground in around it.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Upcycle Birdseed Bag into two Totes

We recently emptied a bag of bird seed and I thought it would be fun to make it into a bag.  It ended up as two little totes.  The boys each have claimed one and want to bring them to the farmer's market for their goodies.

Tote 1:

This is the back of the bird seed bag, stitched together.  Then I pinched the bottom corners (from the inside) and sewed across them to give it a structured bottom.

The handles are made of the sides of the birdseed bag folded in half and stitched together.  I used a box stitch to attach them to the tote.

Tote 2:

This is the front of the birdseed bag with the same pinched corners stitched across as with the first tote.

But with this one, I used canvas material from my stash for the handles and for a credit card/ money pocket.  

To make the credit card pocket, I took a rectangle of fabric and folded it in half, right sides together.  Then I turned and topstitched it together to make a patch pocket.  I added a snap.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mulching to Expand the Garden (Taking over some Grass)

It started with a fig tree.  This little spot seemed a great place for it...

Then it looked lonely.

So we found it some friends.

And we found some aged horse manure (two car-loads full).

We planted a few things, and spread the compost (manure) out.

Then found a tree service with a couple of loads of wood chips they needed taken off their hands.

And we got going.  And going. And going.  Then there was a heat wave.  Work stopped.  

Then it started again.

And finished!

We added some more plants and expanded the thick drip irrigation to cover that area.


With this project, we also refreshed the mulch all over that we put down almost four years ago.  

I was also thinking ahead to another area on the side of the house (behind the bench).  It is fairly shady, but we wouldn't be able to get to it after this little front area was finished.  So I got a truck of chips there and we spread it for future use.

I am going to get some pavers or something for a path, and wait to irrigate it until we decide if it's going to be a garden, or pond, or something else.  Grass, no.  It won't be that again.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Returning a Tree on the Xtracycle Edgerunner

The bare root tree is attached to the hooptie with the roots on my side.  I had been hoping not to get poked.  We ended up attaching a piece of hot pink fabric to the end of it as a flag after I took these photos.  I was returning it because it never got any leaves (and yes, I called in advance to make sure they would take it back!).

This ride was fun, actually, though I hadn't noticed the slow hill to the nursery from our house before.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Garlic Harvest

Here is this year's garlic harvest.  

In the past, we have made garlic braids to keep the garlic for the year.

We are trying something different this year.  Instead of braiding them, we dried them slightly, then cut the tops and bottoms off, and are storing them in a cool place in the kitchen in two vases.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Upcycling old Shelves into Boxes to Cover Irrigation Valves (DIY Valve Cover Box)

We have been talking about making/ buying boxes for a long time for the front and back of the house where the irrigation valves are.  We wanted boxes to protect the valves from the sun in the summer breaking down the plastic, and from the cold in the winter, making them burst.

Granted, this winter we are coming out of was colder than most, but it did cause us to wrap the pipes after repairing the front valves, then replacing one of them for suspected minor freeze damage which was revealed when we recently turned them back on.  I also thought it would look nicer/ tidier to hide the valves.

Rear Irrigation Valves - BEFORE
Front Irrigation valves- BEFORE
Rear Irrigation Valves - AFTER
Front Irrigation Valves - AFTER

So-- the boys and I got to work.  We measured the areas, and found some old boards in the scrap pile.  These particular boards came from the garage cabinets we recently pulled out (and gave away on craigslist- did I mention how much I love craigslist?).  We kept them, thinking they would come in handy.

We started with the rear irrigation area.  Here are the measurements and my crude drawing and building plan.  I did it in pencil on one of the boards.  This cut list is missing my posts- I wanted 4 which were 24" tall (I used new 2x4s leftover from the greenhouse project).
The next step was to measure and label the boards.

 Then I cut them with the circular saw and gave them to my elder assistant to assemble.  We used 2" screws.

We did the spacing between the boards using a board as a spacer, then removing it.

We measured it against the valves before adding the back two posts (carried it there and back).

The littler helper had to make his own box out of scraps.

 Then we moved on to the front irrigation area.  We measured, I drew the box and made a cut list, then got to measuring and cutting from our scrap pile.

I did the cuts, and we assembled the box.  

You will notice both boxes have the top piece that isn't as wide as the entire box.  The scraps fell this way, and I opted not to make a thin strip on either box.  They are easier to carry this way, and having it not all the way flush with the wall doesn't interfere with the sun-blocking capabilities.  If you run into the same issue, it's your call (obviously).  I thought it was insignificant.  

Another thing you will notice is that the 2x4 posts take up room on the inside of the box.  This only mattered to us on the front box, where there is a pressure reducing valve poking out slightly to the right below the spigot.  I opted not to put in the fourth post for this reason-- I wanted more clearance for that valve.  To check for this, I measured each box against the actual space with only the front posts attached.  After it fit and I had a feel for the space, I attached the back posts (or not).  The advantage of the back posts is that they help keep the side panels flush-- especially when using upcycled wood, as we were.

 Then we primed the boxes.

Then we painted them.

Then we painted them again.

Then we turned them over and primed them and painted them again.  I wanted to make sure the wood that would be on the mulch would be protected from rotting, especially since the area is fairly moist.


 I MAY put a little plant or something on the shelf.  Stay tuned.  The color looks slightly off-- our exterior paint color is slightly off because our house is made of shingles and they were stained, not painted.  I need a few days to get used to them.  The front box also looks slightly askew- I may need to put a brick or something under that right side.

Rear Irrigation Valves - AFTER
Front Irrigation Valves - AFTER

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