Archive of ‘Family’ category

DIY Covered Sandbox

This will be more of a “look what we did” post rather than a how-to. I just dug up these pictures from several weeks ago and sorta went, “oh yeah, we did that too!”. But if you’re thinking of making a sandbox for your child, maybe this will give you some ideas.

DIY Covered Sandbox

(Since Baby Brownie isn’t really a baby anymore, I’m just going to call her Brownie from now on.)

So, Brownie likes dirt (doesn’t your 2-year-old too?). And our yard has a lot of it. We’ve been in the midst of installing irrigation and other landscaping projects for a while, so there are literally big piles of dirt all over the yard. So to indulge her love for playing in the dirt, while at the same time keeping her clothes a LITTLE cleaner, we decided to build her a sandbox.

I’ve heard horror stories about sandboxes and cat poop though, so it had to be a covered one!

(Please ignore the neon green pool. We had a little algae overgrowth that we took care of right after we took this pic!)

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We started by digging up the area we were going to make the sandbox in. There used to be a fence here with a cinder-block footing, so we were able to use some of the concrete footing as 2 of the walls of the sandbox. For the other two walls, Chris put in some 4×4 footings in the corners and nailed on a couple of 2×6 redwood planks. Then, he used redwood fence pickets and cut them down to size to make the edge framing and the lid. He lined the hole with a weed-resistant barrier before filling it with playground sand.

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As you can see, the lid is super simple — just a row of fence pickets held together by a couple of stringers. We sanded down the redwood (which is quite splintery) quite a bit and then sealed it with our homemade Danish oil mixture (1:1:1 Oil-based poly, mineral spirits, and boiled linseed oil).

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The below pictures were taken about a month later, so you can see the red color of the wood has faded quite a bit.

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When the lid is open, we secure it to the metal fence behind it using this little loop, to prevent Brownie from pulling it down on herself.

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When it’s closed it’s just a little pad that looks like a mini-deck. I threw some mulch around it but I’m working on some ideas to pretty-up the dirt all around it. Probably some plants on the right side, and maybe some stepping stones in front.

I’m not gonna lie…Brownie still likes to play in the piles of dirt. Maybe a little less now?

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Washi-Wrapped Chalk

Here’s a quick and easy tip…

I bought Baby Brownie an easel chalkboard from IKEA (it’s only $15!) and with it a box of chalk. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hates the feeling of chalk on my hands so I devised a quick and easy way to protect my hands from chalky dryness AND protect the chalk from breaking.

washi tape chalk

I only thought of this after, but if you start wrapping at the end and finish wrapping near the writing tip, you can peel back the tape as the tip gets worn down. I should have realized that earlier.

I feel sort of silly sharing this cause it is so simple, but hey…why not?

Honest Company Product Review (Part 1)

I’ve been using Honest Company products for about 3 months now, and I think it’s time for a review. The Honest Company (founded by actress Jessica Alba and Christopher Gavigan) sells natural diapers, personal care items, household products, and nutritional supplements. The Honest Co. promises that their products are free of sulfates, phosphates, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde (a popular conventional baby shampoo still uses formaldehyde in its products!!!), chlorine, and other toxins.

honest co review

A little background before the review — I have a 1-year-old, and keeping harsh chemicals out of my home is definitely a priority for me as a mom. The Honest Co has a lot of great baby products and that’s how I first became interested in the company.

I also have really sensitive skin, chronic mild eczema, and indoor allergies. A while ago my skin started itching unbearably, especially at night. I would lie awake for hours before finally taking a Benadryl and finally falling asleep. I decided to switch to completely natural personal products and ordered the Honest Co. shampoo/shower gel, healing balm, and a few other products.

This review is completely my own opinion. I was not compensated for writing this, and I am writing this review on my own initiative. However, if you decide to purchase some of these products after reading this review, I would love if you would do so through my invitation link to The Honest Co., as I will receive a discount on future purchases. Use discount code INVITED10 to get $10 off when you spend $25 or more..

Honest Company Invitation

How the Honest Co works is that you’re encouraged to sign up to be a member and have a subscription of their products mailed to you either monthly or bi-monthly. I ordered the Essentials bundle and I get 5 products of my choice for $35.95 a month. That makes the price of the products very reasonable; about the same as buying Method, Seventh Generation, and other “natural” products in stores. Of course, you have to be smart about the items you order too. If you order five $5 items, you won’t get as great a deal as if you order five $8 to $12 items, obviously.

You can buy their products separately from their website without a subscription or bundle, although it costs a little more.

Okay, now to the review!

Honest Co Sunscreen SPF30

Summer in Southern California means my 1-year-old is going through tube after tube of sunscreen, and “natural” baby sunscreen isn’t cheap! I was buying California Baby sunscreen for $20 a tube! The Honest Co mineral-based sunscreen was half the price and I LOVE IT. First of all, it is the only sunscreen I’ve seen that claims to be safe for babies under 6 months, because it uses completely natural ingredients (although check with your doctor).

Second, it goes on super smooth and is moisturizing, unlike other baby sunscreens that seem to dry out my daughter’s skin. It is a little shiny, but doesn’t leave the white cast that other mineral sunscreens do. I happily use it on my own skin (which is usually dry) for extra moisture and protection. I’m going to order a few more tubes for gifts and stocking stuffers this year!

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Shampoo + Body Wash

I’ve only used a few “natural” shampoos before, and they’ve always frustrated me because they don’t foam as well as conventional shampoos and I don’t feel that they clean my hair as well. The Honest Co shampoo and body wash seems to hit a happy medium. It doesn’t foam as well as the chemical-laden shampoos, it’s true, but it does seem to be more concentrated and foams better than other natural shampoos (for example, it’s a lot thicker than Burts’ Bees baby shampoo…though I love Burts too). I find it helps if I rub it between my palms with a bit of water to foam it a bit first.

I love that the whole family can use this shampoo and body wash — it really cuts down on the bottles in the shower! I love the scent, and my scalp is no longer as itchy as when I was using regular (conventional) shampoo. Is my hair incredibly soft and silky? Well, not noticeably more than with other shampoos. But I’m not itchy, and I’ll take it. The shampoo has a nice orange cream scent.

Note: Costco sells Honest Co Shampoo in packs of two in a larger 17 fl oz size for about $14, which makes it the cheapest place to buy this shampoo.

Rating: 4/5

Honest Co Healing Balm

Oh the healing balm. I can no longer go without it. It’s the first thing I pack when we go out of town. Needless to say, I love it. It is super moisturizing so I put it on dry knees, elbows, and baby’s face when it’s irritated and dry. I use it as a diaper cream on my daughter to prevent and calm rashes. It calms itching and soothes my skin in the middle of the night. I even put it under my eyes as a super moisturizing eye cream.

It’s definitely an ointment though, so if you don’t like that sticky feeling it might not be for you. It does tend to sit on top of the skin more than a cream or lotion (although that’s good for me, as it’s more protective). The consistency is like petroleum jelly, without the petroleum =). It has a nice subtle botanical scent. It’s not a miracle cream — if you have severe eczema you’ll still need to talk with your doctor, but it’s perfect for dry, irritated skin.

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Conditioning Mist

This spray leave-in conditioner works really well for detangling and leaves my hair nice and soft. But the bottle is really small! I don’t think I’ll order it again in my bundle since I feel like I can get better value with other products.

Rating: 3/5

Honest Co Bathroom Cleaner

I was pretty amazed at how well the Honest Co Bathroom cleaner cut through bathtub grime! I sprayed it on and five minutes later wiped it off without needing to scrub. It works wonders on mildewy grout too. I was honestly impressed at how effective this natural product works — it works as hard as non-natural products do!

The first ingredient is alcohol (after water), and the cleaner has a pretty strong alcohol smell. Although alcohol is “natural” and not as toxic as other cleansers, it’s still not something you want to leave out where kids can grab it, and you’ll want to wash your hands if you get some on there.

Rating: 5/5

Honest Co Oxy Boost

Eh, kind of meh. I can’t really see a huge difference in my laundry between using the Oxy boost pods or not using them. My whites don’t seem all that whiter. I do think that it helps to deodorize cloth diapers slightly, but nothing mind-blowing.

Rating: 3/5

There are still many more Honest Co. products I want to try, so this product review list isn’t quite complete yet. I have the laundry detergent but I want to finish my old one first (All Free and Clear). I also just ordered the baby toothpaste, the conditioner, and the moisturizing lotion.

Overall, I think the Honest Co. products are definitely worth the money. They are good quality and really reasonably priced compared to other “natural” products out there. I know the subscription format isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but since you have the option to get the bundle every 8 weeks, and there’s a lot of variety to choose from, I find that it works fine for me.

Again, if you are interested in purchasing Honest Co products, I would love if you would click through my link. I don’t get any cash, just a discount on future purchases from Honest Co., but every bit helps! Use code INVITED10 to get $10 off $25.

Honest Company Invitation

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Honest Company Product Reviews!

The Best Cheap Kids’ Chairs

A wonderful surprise was waiting for us this afternoon when we got home from running errands! The two child-size chairs I ordered have arrived! Baby Brownie and I were both so excited to try them out.

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They are the Flash Forward Plastic School Chair from Amazon and they were just $10 each! I know, crazy affordable, and we LURRRVE them!

I had been looking for children’s chairs for a while but my search got serious when I turned our old bench into a child’s activity table for Baby Brownie. After I painted the bench, I was trying to find some affordable and colorful chairs so she could sit at her table.

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I knew that I wanted chairs with angled legs so that it would be harder for Baby Brownie to tip over backwards. Most of the options at IKEA were affordable but had straight legs. I had seen some chairs with angled legs online on educational material websites but they tended to be quite expensive and aimed at the school market. Finally I found these little chairs on Amazon! Guess I should have looked there in the first place!

The reviews were excellent and the price was right so I placed my order right away.

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I couldn’t be happier with these little chairs. I should warn you though, the description on Amazon says these are red, but they are really a hot pink/coral. This color was actually a pleasant surprise for us and go so well with the duck egg blue on the table, but just so you know, the pic online ain’t really accurate.

 

flash forward chair

 

Flash Forward Plastic School Chair

The chair is definitely more on the pink/coral side than red/orange as it appears above.

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They are a really saturated coral color. Really fun!

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It’s still a little tall for Baby Brownie (we got the 10.5″ version) but she can get on and off without much difficulty. And the chairs are really sturdy! Not flimsy at all. I can sit on them myself without the legs flexing at all.

She was very pleased to have her own child-sized chairs and she has been playing with her tea set, reading books, and playing with her puzzles while sitting on the chairs =).

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I can envision many tea parties to come at this table.

At just $10 each, I’m a satisfied mama!

Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which means I get paid a small amount (just a few cents really) if you buy the chair by clicking through my link.

Sharing at TatertotsandJello

Painted Bench Turned Kids’ Table

Over the weekend, while Chris was working like a busy bee on insulating our house, moving electrical, and figuring out how to put up new siding, I worked on a little pet project.

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I decided to take an old bench that had been sitting in the master bedroom, where it had been covered in a giant pile of clothes for the past 3 months, and turn it into a little activity table for Baby Brownie.

(The giant pile of clothes is now happily sitting on the floor.)

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We bought this bench for $10 at a thrift store and had sanded down the top in anticipation of refinishing it. It has been in the above state for over a year.

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I decided it would be easier to paint it than to refinish it, especially since the legs were all chipped, dented and dog-chewed. So I primed it with 2 coats of Zinsser Cover Stain, and then painted it with 2 coats of Martha Stewart’s Duck Egg (Glidden). Then, I painted on 3 coats of Polycrylic to seal and protect the top. Because I know this piece is going to get a lot of abuse use.

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It turned out really nice! And it’s just the perfect height for Baby Brownie to stand at and play with the new wooden tea set I got her.

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I kind of like how you can still see the metal bolts.

Baby Brownie noticed it right away and went over to it and stared at it for a long time. I asked her if she liked it and she nodded yes. That’s a big deal since she’s in her “no” phase right now!

I just ordered a couple of little chairs on Amazon and I’ll share with you when they arrive.

Another cool thing is that if we ever want to get all the kids’ stuff out of sight…

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The table/bench works really well as extra seating! The teal/aqua color isn’t so bright that it can’t be used as adult furniture.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is what the bench REALLY looks like after it has been played with:

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Just a note of warning for single/as-yet-childless folks out there…this is what you have to live with when you have a kid. Enjoy.

UPDATE: The chairs have arrived and they are adorable!

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Sharing at MissMustardSeed

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