March 27, 2012

DIY Waterproof Sandbox Cover

I previously posted how we use a plastic kiddie swimming pool for our sandbox.  But, it had no, I made one.  A waterproof one. 
It's super cheap, and super easy, and works perfectly.  Here are the steps:
You'll need:
A vinyl table cloth (size to fit-a 70 inch round works perfect for our sandbox).  This one was $3.99 at the local Walmart)
Straight pins
a sewing machine
Wide elastic
One safety pin

Take your vinyl tablecloth out of the package and lay it out on a flat surface.  Fold about one inch of the outer edge in, towards the underside, and secure it with straight pins.  Do this all the way around.

Set up your sewing machine, and sew a simple stitch all the way around the entire outer edge.  The only thing to remember is to only sew the edge of the folded tablecloth because you need to leave a hollow space along the perimeter large enough to string your wide elastic through. (this will all be clearer the more we go through the instructions-it really is EASY).

After you have sewn the entire perimeter of the tablecloth, remove all the straight pins.  Cut one small vertical slit anywhere you choose along this perimeter.  This is a very small slit just big enough to get your elastic into to string it all the way through. 
Take your large elastic and put a jumbo safety pin in one end of the elastic.  This will help you string the elastic through the entire edge of the tablecloth.  It will also help you find the end of the elastic if you ever loose it in the process inside the tablecloth edge.  I also had to buy a few packs of the wide elastic and sew 2 of them together to be long enough.  Not a big deal.

This is the slit that you should have cut into the outer edge of the tablecloth.  This slit will be the opening where you insert the wide elastic.  I always attach a gumbo safety pin to one end of the elastic.  This helps me to feel and lead the elastic through the entire edge of the tablecloth and also helps me find it if I lose my place.  You'll be doing this 'blind' since you cannot see the elastic and safety pin while feeding it through the edge of the tablecloth.  When you have fed the elastic all the way around the perimeter of the tablecloth and have come full circle to the slit that you cut; simply pull the 2 ends of the elastic and tie a knot to secure all your work.

When you are done you'll have what looks like a giant shower cap:)
Here is the top view.
 Here is the underside of the sandbox cover

Viola!  That's it.  Super easy, simple, cheap, and it takes about 30 minutes to do from start to finish.

Here is our sandbox

And...tada!  Here it is with the waterproof sandbox cover on it.

Here is the evidence that it is waterproof.  (Last year I made the same thing but in a different pattern and it held up to feet of snow piled on it and never let one drop of moisture into the sandbox.  I just like to change things up and make a new one every summer with a different print on it).

March 20, 2012

Pizza Pockets

I thought I would change things up for dinner and make homemade pizza pockets. 
Here is what you'll need: 
One tube of Pillsbury pizza crust
Fixings for pizza:  Mozzarella cheese
                              Pizza sauce ( I just used jarred marinara sauce)
                              Pepperoni, etc.

I rolled out the pizza crust on my floured counter top to get more out of my buck.  I took a pizza cutter and cut out 4 oblong triangles.  One for each person.  Then I filled my dough triangles with my pizza fixings.  Be sure to not over stuff. Then I folded my triangles over and pinched the edges closed. they are not pretty, but taste yummy).
 Cook according to Pillsbury pizza dough direction. 

The shape made for easy dipping in ranch dressing for my son. 


March 11, 2012

What Do You Do With a Huge White Wall?

Living in base housing sometimes presents itself with decorating dilemmas.
If you paint, you always have to remember that you will be moving in the near future and will have to repaint everything you do to the white wall it was.  Also, you psych yourself out of doing too much work and putting too much of your heart into the decor because you will eventually leave it.
So, instead of doing a creative paint job on a huge white wall in our dining room, I went a different route.  With the brainstorming of my mother and the convenience of Michael's arts and crafts store (which is inconveniently about 1 1/2 hours away), we came up with personalized bulletin boards. 
Massive bulletin boards.
Here is what 2 years of adding pictures, projects, cards, etc.  looks like to home decor in a military house.  We are thinking of moving the 2 over a bit and adding a 3rd one.  Time will tell.

March 08, 2012

Crockpot BBQ Chicken...oh, the possibilities

What is easier than throwing chicken in a crockpot with some BBQ sauce in the morning and having a delicious dinner a few hours later?  Nothing!:)
I've recently become addicted to making BBQ chicken in the crockpot, because it is so easy and you can make so many things with it and it also freezes well.
Here is what you'll need:
~crock pot
~chicken-any chicken will do fine.  If it is frozen you can still cook it in the crockpot, it just needs to be on low and cook for about 6-8 hours.  If it is already defrosted, then you can cook it on high for 3-5 hours (depending on how much chicken you stuff into the crockpot)
~BBQ sauce of your choice

Pour some of the BBQ sauce into the bottom of the crockpot to prevent sticking

Put your chicken in the crockpot and cover with remaining BBQ sauce.  You can be as liberal with the sauce as you want.  It's all up to you and your taste and preference.

Cover, and cook on low for 3-5 hours.

When it's done it'll look something like this:  Just look at how tender the chicken it.  It is literally falling apart when I pick it up with the tongs.

Look at how much BBQ chicken I got from this dish

Let is cool and the pick the chicken off the bone, if you are not using boneless chicken breast.  It is so juicy that you really do very little picking, but rather pulling.
You can freeze the BBQ chicken after you pick it in zip lock bags.  Make sure to date and label it if you are freezing it for later. 
We made loaded baked potatoes with our BBQ chicken.  Just microwave a baked potato, add cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, the BBQ chicken, and top with sour cream.  Yummmmm!

I also made these delicious and low fat wraps.  My husband loves them for his lunch at work. 

To make the wrap I put the BBQ chicken, diced red onion, some cheddar cheese, and cilantro on a wheat tortilla. 

To make it look nice and keep it together I wrap it up in parchment paper and cut it on a diagonal and place it in a gladware container. 

Super healthy, easy, and way delicious!

March 05, 2012

Organizing Kids Toys

It seems like I reorganize the kids toys in the living room play area about once a month.  So, why would today be any different...
I also brought the toy baskets from my son's bookshelf in his room to make sure that all the small toys in the house were organized at once. 
Let the organizing begin.

BASKETS!  I have found over the years that baskets are the best way to try to keep toys contained and some what organized.  I tried great big toy boxes, but lots of little toys get lost at the bottom and some never even get played with because they are lost in the bottom of the cavernous toy box.  Book shelves are great for putting toys up and out of the way and off the floor.   If you add baskets into the organizing mix, then all is well in the world.

To start, we laid out all the baskets and toys and then started designating which baskets held what.  For example:  a basket for dinosaurs, a basket for action figures and army men, a basket for characters from the 'Cars' movie, etc.   By the way, I bought these blue and green baskets at the dollar store about 2 years ago and LOVE them!!!!!  They are a great way to organize, are durable, and have handles on them so the kids can easily grab a whole basket and take it to another location to play.  They work out great and for only $1 who cold ask for anything more. 
I had previously made laminated labels for the baskets to help the kids put the toys in the proper baskets when cleaning up.  The labels started to curl up on the edges so I made some new ones.
To make the labels I just went on clipart and copied and pasted some pictures for the appropriate toys on cardstock and printed them up.  Simple as that.
One of the labels I made a year ago-notice the curling of the edges
Here are the new labels

It doesn't look too much different than before because of my constant upkeep. 

But, having all the baskets labeled properly and every toy in its place makes for easy play and cleanup.
What are your tips or ways to organize your kids toys?

March 01, 2012

Tents Make it All Better

When it rains, tears pour. 
At least on some rainy days that seems to be how my house feels.  Kids seem to be restless and nothing seems to entertain them. 
What to do, what to do?
Break out our wonderful Ikea tent and make sure to make things a little more different to peak the kid's interest in their toys.
So, I set up the tent (which takes 5 minutes) and added some play pit balls inside along with some blankets.  I also set up one of the dozen train tracks we have on the coffee table as apposed to the train table as usual.  I put Lilly's baby station in a different spot than normal.
Guess what happened?...Children played joyfully for the rest of the morning.  The same toys that were out minutes prior, that were so boring, instantly took on a new light once moved around a bit.  And, lets not forget the key rule to a rainy day...
Tents make it all better.
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