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21  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Backyard Playset - image heavy on: July 11, 2007 09:16:22 AM
This is what happens when craftsters get old and have a bunch of power tools - just a warning! Smiley

This is a project from last summer. I thought I should finally get around to documenting it. It was really satisfying to build from scratch. A playset this size (and it is pretty big) would be well over $4000 from someplace like Rainbow or Backyard Adventures.

I made the playhouse part of it an homage to our first house which was painted this color. The swings and ladder hardware and accessories were from byoswingset.com. The slide and swing arm braces were from one of the big hardware stores. The lumber is from Dunn lumber - a local lumber store here. I HIGHLY recommend getting your lumber from your local lumber yard rather than Home Depot, Lowe's etc. The lumber yard will be cheaper, delivery will likely be free (or cheap), and you just drive through and they load up your car. It's awesome.

Power tools I used: Drill, circular saw, power sander, jig saw, miter saw.

In addition to lumber you need: about 100 3/8x3" galvanized lag bolts + washers, 5-6 lbs of decking screws (2" I think), various strongtie braces.

I put a shingled roof on, but if I had to do it over, I would just make a simple roof using cedar siding.

The area was first cleared and leveled, then we put down a layer of weedblocker fabric. Built the structure, and then made an enclosure for the woodchips out of 2x8 treated lumber. I think there's something like 6-8 sq yards of wood play chips in there.

My original sketch. The plans changed somewhat as I forgoed the monkey bars and the peepholes in the house panels.

I labeled a bunch of pictures with the dimensions of the lumber that was used. Some of the lengths might be approximate. But basically, the structure is based on the 4 4x4x10' support posts. The deck is 5' off the ground. The 2x6x5' horizontal supports do most of the work holding it all together. In the pics, you can't see the 2x6's that are at the base since they are covered in wood chips, but refer to the sketch for that.

It is all held together with 3/8x3" galvanized lag bolts. I would first make a recess for the bolt head +washer with a 1" forstner bit on the drill, then pre-drill a hole for the lag bolt. There was a lot of cranking bolts on in this project!

Anyhoo, the point of my story is this: Just because you are a girl, it doesn't mean that you can't build big cool things out of wood. But do have your man do the heavy lifting parts. Wink
22  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Party Planning / 6-year-old's Unicorn Birthday Extravaganza! on: July 10, 2007 12:28:28 PM
First....the Story....

Lilus Unicorn Story

Hi, Im Lilus mom. I want to tell you about the unicorn in our backyard. It all started last March when Spring came and all the flowers began to bloom. I was just minding my own business, doing the dishes at the kitchen sink and I glanced out the back window to see a white and pink blur just out of sight. What the heck was THAT?! I remember asking myself. I was so puzzled that I just figured it was my imagination.

I almost forgot about that encounter until two weeks later when I heard the crows yelling. I was curious about what made them cause such a ruckus, and I looked out my bedroom window. My eyes widened and I think my jaw must have dropped all the way to the floor, because outside in the backyard I saw it a UNICORN.

Could it be real? It sure looked real. He was beautiful. Tall with long legs, white fur with a pinkish-purplish mane and tail. His horn looked like it was made out of pearls. And I swear he sparkled.

He didnt know that I was looking at him. I debated whether I should stay and admire him while he was there, or take a chance to grab my camera. I decided to go for the camera I mean, how else is anyone going to believe that I saw a unicorn? Theyll think Im crazy!

Quietly, I tiptoed out on the deck, ready to snap my picture. I didnt realize it, but 2-year-old Toby had followed behind me. He saw what was in our yard and yelled, Horse!!

OH NO!! Startled, the unicorn bolted and jumped over the fence. I only managed to get a blurry picture of his rear end. Argh!! So frustrating!

At least I had SOMETHING to show to my family and friends. But still, I was met with a lot of skepticism: Oh, you just made that picture on your computer, that didnt really happen. Or I dont see a horn on it, and besides, unicorns arent real. I was so bummed that nobody believed me except for Lilu she LOVED unicorns.

Every day I watched for that unicorn. I would sit in the backyard with Toby hoping that he would come by again. But weeks went by and nothing. Lilu would come home from school and ask me all excitedly, Did he come, mom? Did you see him? and Id have to tell her no, not today. It was making the both of us a little glum.

Then one sunny day after a rain, something else amazing happened. I was on the deck, looking out into the yard when a yellow butterfly flew up and landed on the railing next to me. When I examined the butterfly more closely, I realized that it wasnt a butterfly at all it was a little fairy! Two magical things at our house! What are the odds?

I had to get right up close to hear her, for her voice was so small, but she introduced herself as Eilie, princess of the Tiger Swallowtails.

She knew I was looking for the unicorn, and she told me that I was very lucky to see as much of him as I did. He must be coming here for a very good reason, she said. The only thing that I can think of that would bring one of the unicorns out in public would be that they are getting ready to name their next Unicorn Princess. Perhaps they believe that she lives here. 

I gasped! Lilu! Hes looking for Lilu! Shes at school all day, thats why he cant find her!
Ahh, you have a little girl! Then that really must be the reason hes been here, Eilie replied. Tell you what, she added, I will ask around and see if theres a way to get him to come when shes home. Meanwhile, keep watering the garden by the playground, I know that unicorns find those particular flowers hard to resist.

That was good advice that Eilie gave me and I passed it on to Lilu. She watered that garden diligently every day, and look who came by!!

The unicorn ran off when he saw me, and I yelled after him, Shes here!! Your Unicorn Princess is here! Shes just at school right now! Please stay!!! But either he didnt understand me or he was too frightened, because he just bolted over the fence again.

At least now I have two good pictures of him to show people that he really does exist! Fairies too! Lilu made me print out copies of the photos and she keeps them by her bed at night. I hadnt yet told her that she might be the next Unicorn Princess, because I was not quite sure if that was true and I didnt want to hurt her feelings if it wasnt. She was happy enough simply having some magical visitors.

Up until now weve been keeping our unicorn story a secret. But something happened yesterday and we need your help. We were having dinner, and the doorbell rang. I went to answer it with the kids running after me like they always do, but when I opened the door, there was nobody there. As I closed the door, Lilu shouted, Whats that!? She picked the item up before I even saw what she was talking about. It was a teeny tiny yellow envelope, left sitting on the welcome mat.

I think its a letter from a fairy! I told Lilu. Go ahead and open it!

Luckily, Lilu had just gotten a magnifying glass, otherwise, it wouldve been very hard to read this note! It said

Dearest Lilu,
Rumor has it that the Sunday after Midsummer, the unicorns will come for their princess, and I think it just might be you! On that day you must assemble 5 of your friends to become your princess court. Dress like you are a Unicorn Princess already the sparklier, the better! When you are done, recite the following poem, and then the unicorns will know that you are ready!

O, unicorn with coat so white,
Your beauty is divine,
With all my heart and soul,
I wish you could be mine.

For if you were, I'd love you so,
And protect you from all harm,
So all the world would come to know,
The magic of your charm.

~ Eilie

So, on the Sunday after Midsummer (June 24th), we will throw a party to welcome the unicorns! It just so happens to be Lilus birthday party too! The girls will transform into  princesses and who knows what we might see!

Hope to see you there!!

...that was the invitation to the party, courtesy of a liberal dose of photoshop.  Grin

Back with the party rundown...

edited to add: I wrote everything but the poem - got that off the web - the creativity well was runnin' dry by that point!
23  NEWS AND DISCUSSION ABOUT CRAFTSTER / Suggest New Boards and New Features / mark as read on: July 13, 2006 02:59:53 PM
I was thinking it would be nice if the "mark as read" button (the one on each forum's page) would bring me back to the main page, instead of back to the forum I just got done reading through. It would save  a step.
24  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / refinished kids play kitchen on: May 12, 2006 03:32:56 PM
I bought this kitchen off of craigslist for $50 last month. In retrospect, it was a bigger project than I really had time for, as the kitchen was in such poor condition. Sorry, no before pics! But it was burgundy with horribly stenciled yellow accents, the doors didn't shut all the way, the linoleum on the counter was peeling off, it was filthy, and it smelled FUNKY.

But lots of sanding and spray paint and a new stainless sink ($6 bowl from Target) later:

I made the counters looks like granite by splattering varying shades of grey and white over black.  Grin

Now I just need to stock up on play food. Smiley
25  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / My daughter's girly room (lots of pics) on: May 12, 2006 03:22:42 PM
My daughter's room doesn't have the "shock and awe" value of my son's room, but it's still cute. Smiley

I was copying a room setup from a Pottery Barn catalog. They were selling an aqua butterfly comforter, but it was "dry clean only" and who the heck buys "dry clean only" for a child, anyway?? So I made her a comforter with appliqued butterflies. The "curtains" on her canopy bed are from IKEA, split in half vertically.

Her pink curtains are simply two panels with ties that I made, and then hung them up on drawer pulls screwed into the wall above her window.

Her ceiling has clouds painted on it, some in whimsical shapes, and her name is up there as well.

To make her dutch door, I ordered a prehung regular door, but told them not to drill for the knob. That way, I could move the knob location a little bit once the door was cut in two. Before I cut the door, I added a fourth hinge. After the door was cut, I needed to close off the cut edges (the door is hollow), so I used a thin wood strip and glued and nailed it on. Then I took a thicker wood strip and attached that to the top edge to cover the gap when the door is closed. I bought the dutch door latch online. The conversion was a serious PITA, it's not something I would recommend! ha ha! But it looks way cool.

While I'm at it, here's a little table I painted for her way back:
26  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / My son's constellation room (lots of pics!) on: May 12, 2006 11:17:55 AM
Hi, I'm Beth, and I really need to come visit this forum more. I was just complaining to myself that I don't know anybody who likes to do the same stuff that I do, so I think this is where I need to be!

I recently completed my son's room. I'll post pics first, then come back and give the rundown...

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