U is for… #atozchallenge


I’ve written about being outside and it’s therapeutic tendencies. So it should come with no surprise that today’s post is also about being outside. Since yesterday was Earth Day, this will be fitting.

U is for Urban Garden.

Technically, we’re probably a rural town. But I’m stretching the word to fit not just the cities, but towns, too. It’s a bit big, but it fits. Yesterday after school, we built ourselves a raised garden bed. The seeds have already been started inside. They haven’t even germinated, yet. The last risk of frost doesn’t occur until May 12th!

Anyway… here’s our DIY Garden box in eighteen easy to follow steps.

Step one:
Decide that you’re going to build one and how you’ll do it. Then go to the hardware store and get the materials you’ll think you’ll need.
Wood. We used 6, 8′ long 2 x 6’s. Cedar is apparently best. But we would have had to trade in our first born. While temping, we opted to just get spruce, instead.
Screws. Wood screws to be exact. And if 3″ screws are good, 3.5″ screws are better. We got a pound of them. Don’t worry. You won’t need them.
Brackets. These are bendable pieces of metal we used to hold the boards together. They’re called strap ties.
Go home with your wood and hardware excited to start building.

Step two:
Check out where you can get enough bags of soil to fill your garden box. Here’s a quick math lesson on volume. If your garden box is 8′ x 4’x 1′ what is its volume? Length times width times height. 8 x 4 x 1 = 32 cubic feet. But we’re in Canada so the soil bags are measured in liters. How do you convert 32 cubic feet to liters? It’s actually pretty easy. First, go to Google. Then enter “convert 32 cubic feet to liters” into the search bar. It will tell you the answer is 906.139. See math is easy. If you want to know how to really do it, go here.

Step three:
Drop off the materials you just bought at home. Then return to place you found the cheapest bags of dirt. The world is dirt, but buy bags of it anyway. From step two we know we need 906 liters of dirt. Is it cheaper to buy $6 70L bags or 1$ 25L bags? Hint: buy the 25L bags. You’ll need 36 to fill the box entirely. Buy 30. Get home to discover it’s “Black Earth”.

Step four:
Call your neighbor to borrow his circular saw.

Step five:
Two of the boards you bought need to be cut in 1/2. If you’re not good at math, half of eight is four. Measure twice.

Step six:
Return the circular saw to keep your good standing.

Step seven:
Match boards of the same length along their long side and used the brackets to fasten them together. Allow your 4 year to assist because he’s “a fast driller”. Hence, it will take twice as long to complete, but at least he’s having fun.

garden box 6

Step eight:
Assemble the box. We placed the 8′ lengths with the 4′ lengths between them. With the 3 1/2 screws, screw the 8 footer to the 4 footer at a 90 degree angle.

Step nine:
After you discover that the 3 1/2 screws won’t screw into the wood return to the hardware store for the 2nd time to get 8 right angle brackets and 50 1″ screws.

Step ten:
Using the 1″ screws, screw the right angle brackets to the inside of the garden box frame. You’ll need a bracket for the top plank and one for the bottom.If two screws are good, six are better. When you’re done, it might look like this…
garden box 5

Step eleven:
Repeat this with the other 3 corners.

garden box 4

Step twelve: 
Get your leftover weed control fabric that you used for your pallet garden two years ago from the basement. While you’re down there, get your staple gun and staples, too. Unroll the fabric to discover you only have half as much as you need.

Step thirteen:
Return to the hardware store for the 3rd time for more weed control fabric. Pick up a sheet of cheap plastic while you’re out, too.

Step fourteen:
With your new roll of fabric, roll the fabric over the frame of the box. Staple the shit out of it.

garden box 3

Step fifteen:
Flip over the frame so that the fabric is on the bottom. Pray that it’s sturdy. Praise your DW when it is.garden box 1

Step sixteen:
Empty the 30 bags of black earth into the garden box. Forget to take a picture of it full of black earth.

Step seventeen:
Just like you did with the weed control fabric, use the sheet of plastic to cover the top. This will deter any animals (like neighborhood cats) from using it as a king size litter box. It will also attract kids to poke holes in it.

Step eighteen:
Photograph the finished product for facebook and the blog.



Wasn’t Going to Write Today


I wasn’t going to write today. And really, I’m not writing that much. I didn’t schedule anything ahead of time and while I have plenty of drafts I could have used, I opted not to do anything.

DW is away tonight and won’t be back until tomorrow night. So after supper and before religion class, Crash made his next Lego build video for YouTube. It’s not much a build and he knows that. However, he just wanted to make a video. So a video we made. You can see his race car here.

It only 3 minutes, the length of an average song. While he was recording, Bang disappeared. To the basement! He never goes to the basement by himself without someone making noise. He says it’s too quiet down there. He returned with his own Lego build and wanted to make a video. I’m so glad I let him. So what if he’s only 4. You’ve got to watch this one all the way through. I promise it’ll make you smile.

(Night night babe. See you tomorrow)


My little YouTuber is at ‘er again. He built a small Lego train engine for his little brother.

Lego train engine

First you take a green two-er flat thingy and you put it on the back, or the front facing this way. Then you take this circle piece and put right … ugh, it won’t go on right. Oh, I forgot, you put this flat four stud piece on first. Then put this piece here. Oops, I mean here.


Following those directions you might get something that looks like this. Or you might get something entirely different. But that was just his first try. After that he realized he need to know what he was going to say, he needed names or at the very least a description of each piece as well as show it to the viewer. By take three he had it pretty much all figured out and was good to go. Since he’s building small things at the moment I’m trying to encourage him to be able to do it in one take. The less editing (or none) the better.

That’s about how the transcript went on the first couple tries. Between takes, he decided on a name for each piece, except one. An adapter like piece that allows you to build horizontally instead of vertically.

I know it’s not nice to tease. Fortunately, you can’t see or hear his mother and I giggling at him in the background. Crash has watched his share of YouTube videos to know the gist of what he’s doing. I do have to give him credit though. He’s significantly better in front of the camera than I am. Or at least than I remember being at that age.

Stay tuned. He has an elephant tutorial coming tomorrow!


Surviving Winter

Canada. Winter. They’re synonymous.

Here in Maritime Canada, we had our first big snow fall last Wednesday. 15 cm worth (6 inches for anyone not on metric units). It was enough to cancel school. At about 10 am the skies cleared and it was a beautiful, gorgeous day.

It was one of those kinds of days where you almost don’t need  a coat. Even if you are out shoveling snow. One of those kinds of days when the snow is perfect for rolling into giant snowballs. Perhaps for a snowman?

Nope. Not in my backyard.

We go big. Igloo big.

Like a good relationship, like a strong building, an igloo starts with a solid foundation. I start rolling snowballs and I roll them until I can’t roll them any more. If I’m lucky, I can time the end of the roll so the ball is precisely where it needs to be to complete a circle of ginormous snowballs. Balls big enough to make Frosty jealous.

Except, when I decided to “go igloo big” I went too big. This igloo was on par to be a mansion. An estate. Rival the White House itself. So we scaled it down a bit to country cottage size.

It’s still big. But, like I keep telling Crash these days, “If you’re going to do something, do it right so you don’t have to do it again.”

Unfortunately, our perfect snow only lasted so long. After a few hours of rolling snow, the snow started to dry, freeze, and not stick together. That’s when I got a clever idea (they don’t happen often). I got the cooler, filled it with snow, packed it down nice and tight, flipped it over, and out slid a mostly rectangular block of snow. However, even with cleverly shaped blocks, the third layer collapsed not once, but twice.

Knowing the future can work to your advantage. We knew another storm was coming Saturday. So we put our igloo on hold, crossing our fingers that
A) it didn’t completely collapse before Saturday and
B) that Saturday’s snow would be good for building igloos.IMG_4720

That storm came Saturday evening and it came with a vengeance. We woke Sunday morning to 25-30 cm (a foot) of snow. Imagine shoveling snow for 2 hours with your significant other just to clear your driveway! We loved it. Lazy arses Crash and Bang stayed inside drinking hot chocolate and not killing each other.

After we shovelled, Crash and Bang joined us. They did the “Neste Plunge” off the picnic table and cleared some snow from in front of the igloo. DW and I resumed work on our estate. Block by block. Not quite as easy as Lego, but it worked. Finally, the fifth layer closed in the roof. It’s tall enough for DW and I to stand up in together. It’s long enough for us to lay down, too.

The next step will be to build the tunnel door. That’ll be a cinch with our new building blocks. The last step will be to throw snow on top of it to close in the little gaps. Solidify it. Bolster it. It’s the first time we’ve built an igloo at the start of winter. Like the electric blanket on our bed, here’s to hoping it lasts all winter!

*Side note – Crawling into a preheated bed on a cold, blustery, winter night is akin to putting on clothing straight from the dryer.

Here is an excellent page all about igloos. Have you ever built one?