Camping Wash Stand

PVC Dishwashing StationGrowing up my family camped a lot. We are starting to camp with our kiddos now and looking for things that can make longer camping trips easier and more fun. This camping wash stand definitely will make washing dishes – or even clothes – easier. No more bending over a picnic table, you can customize this stand to be whatever height you prefer. Made entirely of PVC, this light-weight construction can be assembled and reassembled on sight, saving space when packing.

Here are the plans for the PVC Washing Station and other PVC camping accessories.



Photo from Joanne on

Saturday Project: Beach Umbrella Stand

Umbrella Stand 1We live near the beach so from May through September we spend much of our weekends enjoying the sand and surf. A beach umbrella is a must-have and we have learned from locals a better way to keep it up in the winds…making your own umbrella stand with a PVC pipe. It is less expensive than commercial stands and works better. Here is how:

Supply List:

  • Umbrella stand 2PVC Pipe with wider diameter than your umbrella poll
  • Hack saw

Simply cut the PVC pipe in half on a an angle. It is that easy!

Umbrella stand 3Push the angle end into the sand and stick your umbrella in it to enjoy shade at the beach.



Saturday Project: Outdoor Shower

Outdoor showerWe live near the beach, so an outdoor shower has become a necessity. However, I wish we had put one in when we lived in Ohio. The amount of dirt, sand, and grass tracked into the house during the spring and summer was ridiculous, and it is worse when we factor in heading to the beach two to three times a week.

So, we are making an outdoor shower. This won’t be fancy. We aren’t setting it up for hot water (the showers at the beach are all cold water and that works just fine, especially on hot days). Because we are renting right now we aren’t doing anything that we can’t take with us. has great, simple instructions for building your own outdoor shower.

Getting Rid of Ants Without Chemical Bug Spray

White-VinegarWe were warned about all the ants in the spring when we moved to the south, but our first spring didn’t bring many ants. This year is warm and wet and things are different. We found ants walking around outside in February and sure enough, this weekend ants found their way into our kitchen. The only other place we have ever had ants in the house was in Taiwan. While I want the ants gone, I am not wild about using a chemical bug spray around our kitchen. So I began researching some alternatives. What I found was that one of my favorite products is great for repelling ants – vinegar!

It is no secret that I love to use vinegar as a natural way to clean. From bathrooms to conditioner, to mopping floors, vinegar is a great alternative to chemical cleaning products. But it can also help get rid of ants. You can wipe down counters and cabinets with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water to keep ants away. (TIP: Be careful if you have granite because vinegar can scratch it.). This works because ants don’t like the smell. Plus ants use smell to track their trails. The vinegar will hide the smell of their trails and drive them away. You can also put this mixture in a spray bottle and use it inside and out to keep ants away.

Another tip is to draw a chalk line where you see ants entering your home. This is a natural ant repellant and ants won’t cross the chalk into your house.

Saturday Project: Water Toys

We are a water family. Doesn’t matter if it is the beach, the pool, a waterpark, or the sprinkler. If there is water around, we will be there. Because of this I am always looking for some fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to make various water toys. Here are a few of our favorites:

#1. Water Sponge Balls – instead of water balloons, try making these sponge balls that are great for using over and over again. (TIP: We actually made ours with 2 layers of sponge strips instead of 3 like the directions suggest, making even more balls per sponge pack.)

#2. DIY Sprinkler – White Rabbit Farm has instructions for making a great sprinkler from a 2 liter bottle and a simple male-to-male hose connector from the hardware store.

#3. DIY Water Slide – Using just a tarp the sprinkler you made in #2 you can make your own Slip ‘N’ Slide. Try adding a few drops of baby shampoo to keep the slide extra slippery!

#4. Kid Wash – Living Life Intentionally has simple instructions for building your own kid wash out of PVC pipe. Configure your wash any way you want!

Countdown Calendar

Kids at our house get really anxious about 2 weeks before anything “big” happens. A lot of our life in the last 2 years has meant we didn’t have more than 2 weeks notice for big things (like our moves to and out of Taiwan but as we settle into a calmer life back in the US we are once again planning things well in advance. After discussing with Little Man (who is 4) for the ten-thousandth time that our trip west to visit Meemaw & Granddad was still 2 weeks away, I had a brilliant (ok, maybe not brilliant but creative) idea to create a countdown calendar for the two kiddos who seemed to need the reminder of how many days left. Now, every day when they ask if it is time to go on our trip, they go to their calendar and either mark or the day, or tear off the tab for the day.

These calendars can easily be made in any document program (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Pages, Numbers, or Keynote or similar) and customized with picture relating to whatever you are counting down toward. Now my kids ask once, I tell them to check their calendar, and the mark off the current day, then they don’t ask again until the next day. I wish I had thought of this sooner!

Road Trip Tips

At the end of July we will pack 5 people, including 3 kids, and a dog into a Corolla and head cross-country from the East Coast to Nebraska to visit family for several weeks. Yes, we are crazy. Yes, we have heard everyone tell us how crazy we are. But, we own a Corolla (we are a one-car family) so that is what we have to pack everyone and everything into for the trip.

To be honest, I am starting to stress a bit over this trip. We can barely drive to the beach that is 40 minutes away without someone poking someone or the kids getting in each other’s “space”, which is pretty hard not to do with three kids (including one in a booster seat) across the back of a small car.

While this isn’t our first road trip (we have always been drivers), and not even our first in a Corolla (in Taiwan we packed 6 people into one to drive 6 hours to the best resort area on the island), this is our longest trip in such a small space. Once again, I believe that organization will help conquer my stress, and create a more pleasant experience for everyone. Here are some of my favorite road trip tips, especially for small spaces!

#1. Plan your route. We have planned our entire trip west with hotel reservations, possible bathroom and fuel stops, and interesting things to see and do along the way. Because our return dates are flexible, we did not make hotel reservations for the journey home. However, we have listed out possible hotel stops, based on driving times and things we want to see along the way.

#2. Add time. It will take longer than you expect. People will need more stops than you think. For every 5 hours on the road, add 30 minutes to your travel time.

#3. Pack light! We are packing for only 4 outfits of clothes, one set of pajamas, and one swim suit per person. We can wash things at each stop or our final destination. We use this Master Packing List to help us decide what we need to pack. We don’t take a lot of extra shoes – one pair of sneakers and one pair of sandals or flip-flops per person. We just take the basics. Everyone does not need their own computer or beach towel (unless you are camping and then that is a whole different packing experience).

#4. Pack smart! Organize your packed items by what you will use when. We have one backpack that contains all toiletries that we can grab to take into that night’s stop. We organize each days’ outfit, complete with socks and underwear, in a zipper bag. This way everyone has what they need for stops on the road. Plus we use the zipper bag to hold dirty clothes until we do laundry. For stops along the road we keep clothes for all 5 people in a small pilot’s case so that we don’t have to take a huge suitcase into a hotel and risk losing something.We don’t take pillows or blankets and each child is allowed to pack only one Lovie.

#5. Limit what you keep inside the car and have a place for everything. Here is what we keep inside our little car:

  • Each child has a small bin that fits in the back window behind their seat that they are allowed to fill with car activities (Color Wonders, paper, cards, iPod, DVD players, etc.).
  • Each child has a seatbelt snuggie that velcros around their seatbelt to hold an iPod or MP3 player or headphones. Click on the like for instructions to this great no-sew project.
  • GPS, AC power plug adaptor, and phone charger in the glove box
  • Trash bag in the console
  • Coin purse with change for tolls (check for tolls as you plan your route in #1) in the driver’s door pocket
  • Travel case of baby wipes, a pack of tissues, a clear toiletries bag with Bandaids, antibiotic cream, cough drops, children’s acetaminophen, Benadryl, Ibuprofen, and any medications needed during the day (inhalers for example) in the passenger door pocket
  • Small cooler bag with a drink for each person and snacks (fruit chews, granola bars etc.) in the back seat pocket (we keep ours in the passenger seat pocket because First Born sits behind that seat and she is most reliable to hand things out)
  • 3 ring binder tucked between the passenger seat and door that contains several DVDs for the kids in plastic sleeves, print-out of our itinerary, print-outs of any hotel reservation confirmations, information about any stops we plan to make, current health and medical information for each family member (1 sheet per person), a list of important phone numbers, a map, and our vehicle registration and insurance cards – all in protective plastic sleeves. We also keep several empty sleeves for adding brochures and other things we pick up along our route.
  • Camera – A must-have for all vacations! Don’t forget to document the journey. We have a camera that can take still photos or video, so we don’t need two cameras taking up space in the car

Remember that getting there is part of the trip. Do your best to make it fun. Take frequent stops and enjoy the journey!

Saturday Project: 4th of July Crafts

This weekend, in preparation for the 4th of July we will be tackling a variety of projects for decorating and to keep the kiddos busy. Because my birthday and our anniversary fall between Saturday and the 4th, this time of year is always a busy time, filled with friends and celebrations. We are also adding a small group fellowship day this weekend, complete with a cookout and swimming, we will be doing some craft projects with all the kids there. I can’t wait to have everyone painting fireworks with pipe cleaners!

So if you haven’t done so already, check out all the great links to 4th of July Food and Crafts from the post earlier this week and share your creations with us all in the comments!

A Collection of 4th of July Crafts and Food

We love crafts. We also love the 4th of July (it helps that my birthday and our anniversary fall right around this holiday). So here is a collection of sites with some great 4th of July crafts:

AliLilly – especially great for younger kids

AllRecipes – Red, white & blue strawberries

Delish – 4th of July food ideas

Dollar Store Crafts – inexpensive crafts and foods

Enchanted Learning – games, crafts, and worksheets

Family Fun – lots of craft, food, and game ideas

It’s A Blog Party – crafts, food, and decor ideas

My Blessed Life – crafts for older kids and adults; home decor

Vacation Planning Tips

It is summer! So the time to plan next year’s vacation is now!

Yes – NEXT year’s vacation. To effectively plan and budget for vacations, you need to think ahead…at least 1 year. Here are some tips to get you going:

  1. Select your destination. Pick where you want to do. This will most likely determine your budget and the time of your travel.
  2. Check prices. Investigate the hotel, travel, activities etc. Do a mock reservation to get a general price guide.
  3. Set your budget. Once you have done the research on your vacation destination, set a realistic budget for your trip. This should be the number that you will not go over, including food, souvenirs, hotels, travel, etc. EVERYTHING!
  4. Set a savings plan. You know how much you will be spending and when you want to go. Figure out how much you need to put aside each paycheck between now and then to make it happen. Once you see this number you may want to adjust your travel dates to give you more time to save the money. Never go into debt for vacation! You don’t want to spend the next 20 years paying for a trip that is just a distant memory.
  5. Make your reservations at least 6 months out. You can often get discounts, upgrades, or the pick of the best rooms and amenities when you book in advance.

If you have done all this planning you will be able to sit back and enjoy your vacation…debt free!

TIP: When it is time to pack, check out the Master Packing List to help you get ready!