Build a tire swing!

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I’ve teamed up with True Value today to show you how to make a fun and easy project that your kids (and you!) will enjoy all summer long… a tire swing!

We’ve had this old tire laying around the yard so instead of tossing it we decided it would be fun to turn it into a tire swing.

I’ve never made a tire swing before and the task seemed daunting. Believe it or not I whipped this tire swing up in less than an hour! I started with this very helpful tire swing guide:

Once I had a plan in place I headed to True Value to pick up all my supplies. Here are most of the supplies I purchased, but I did have to run back for a few more things (not pictured).

For the first step I flipped the tire over and made several small holes around the base so any water can drain out (after it rains). I don’t want a mosquito habitat hanging around (pun intended!).

After that I flipped it over and drilled three holes for the eye bolts. I used a standard drill bit and it easily cut through the rubber. Once the holes were drilled I prepped the bolts with the washer, lock washer, and nut.

Once the bolt was inserted into the tire hole I finished off the under side with another large flat washer, a locking washer, and a nut.

Here are the eye bolts after I installed them.

To hang the swing I wrapped a 4′ long chain around the tree branch, attached a locking swivel hook, attached three more chains to that, and then attached the chains to the tire swing. For each attachment I used a simple connector link.

You can buy all the pieces in many different sizes. I made sure each connector link, swivel hook, and chain were rated for multiple hundred pounds. If you make a swing make sure you buy pieces that can support your weight and won’t snap.

Our son jumped on and tried it out as soon as I was done hanging it. It worked perfectly. The swivel hook allows the tire swing to continue to spin around and around guaranteeing a nauseating experience only a child can appreciate. To say the kids are in love with this new swing is an understatement. It’s now the hit of the yard!

For even more fun summer activities and projects, visit True Value‘s project website or facebook page. They are always posting new projects.


     

It’s party central up in here (backyard updates)

We decided the best time to go outside and do loads of manual labor on the yard would be August. In Texas. Poor planning on our part, obviously. If you are unfamiliar with Texas weather, we have 4 seasons here: Hot, Really Hot, Hot as Hell, and Hot with a Few Freezing Cold Days Until 10am at Which Point it Gets Really Hot Again. August would fall under the Hot as Hell season.

We also like to party during the Hot as Hell season considering school is out for 3 solid months, so doing manual labor on the yard is a necessity if you don’t want your friends to think they’ve shown up at the Clampett’s house.

So we got to work. There is still so much more to be done, but we do what we can when we have time without working too much and suffering from heat exhaustion.

The first order of business is the pool. Always the pool. The house came with a big oval above-ground pool. Eventually we’d love to put in an in-ground pool, but the pool we have certainly hits the spot on those really hot days.

Without warning (or after a rain storm) it can go from crystal clear to green overnight. It can also go green when you move in, have no clue how to take care of a pool, and then hire a pool boy to come clean it for you who removes the entire filter to “fix” something, and then disappears for over 5 days, at which point you fire him and become your own pool boy with google’s help. Oh, and a fun little side-note, do you know what the pool boy said to me when I called him on day 5 and told him the pool was neon green? He said it was okay, he would just DRAIN THE POOL and start over. At which point I replied, “you’re fired.”

A $400 trip to the pool store to pick up new filter parts, and a crash course in water testing, chlorine and PH levels, and you’ve got a crystal clear pool again.

The pool has made for some of the best parties this summer. I have a go-to lifeguard that I hire so the kids can swim to their hearts content while the parents ignore all of them and have our own party sitting on the deck, or better yet, inside with the air conditioning. I joke to the kids that the parties are for us and our friends, and they get to just play with whatever kids show up. Good thing we met most of our friends through the kids’ various school and extracurricular activities. Ha!

Another thing we’ve done recently is the removal of this octagon picnic table:

Apparently I was so eager to demo this table that I have no pictures of the actual table, so pardon all the random background shots of it. Here’s one from the photos I took of the house before we bought it (the chairs in the foreground are the previous owner’s).

And here’s one more of the offending table during my daughter’s 9th birthday party last June. The table doesn’t look half bad, but trust me, it was an accident waiting to happen. I added several new screws to the table when we moved in, just to tighten it up more, but the wood was too rotten to save it, which is a bummer because we were excited that the previous owners left the table for us when we moved in.

So we demolished it. I basically flipped it upside down and then just gave it a little nudge and the thing collapsed. From there Ben went at it with a sledgehammer. The table was so rotten that we didn’t have to do much to get it into small pieces.

Since Ben was enjoying the demo of the table so much, I let him have at it while I cleaned up the pieces and put them in our trash pile.

The final big project we’ve done around here is dealing with this flower planter.

It sits at the edge of our deck and blocks a large portion of the stairs. I have wanted to move it since we moved in, but it was too heavy to even schooch anywhere. (Did you know “schooch” isn’t a real word? Hua. News to me! Thank you spell checker for enlightening me with your little red squiggly line.)

The plan was to move the planter box to the side of the house under a span of windows we have. First though, I had to unload all the dirt. It took two full wheelbarrows full to empty the planter. Who would have thought this seemingly smallish planting box could hold so.much.dirt?

Finally the planter was empty. My son and I each grabbed an end and as soon as we picked it up, the entire thing collapsed into a pile of scrap wood. Darn it! It was nice looking and functional, but not well built. The wood used were decking boards, and those suckers are heavy! I managed to get them in a pile off to the side, and then Ben and I carried them away later that day.

Apparently the deck is in urgent need of a new stain job. I didn’t realize the deck use to be red, but now that the planter is gone you can see the original deck stain color.

Ahh, A nicer view for sure (except for how tacky it looks with a big barn-red rectangle on the deck). I like how much cleaner the view is now. It felt too closed off before.

And here’s a few more views of the deck sans the planter box.

Here you can see that there are stairs that wrap around the side of the deck. They were blocked before.

And a few top-and-bottom (side-by-sides?) of the deck with and without the planter:

  


We’ve also done tons of other random stuff that we haven’t taken pictures of like trimming trees, clearing brush, hauling trash, fixing the pool deck, etc. It has a long way to go, but at least we can have parties out there which, lets be honest, is all that really matters. ;)


     

The sod saga in House 2

It’s been three months since we moved and I realized I never shared a few last minute updates on our previous house (henceforth to be known as House2). Once we found our dream house (House3), we had to list House2 at lighting speed. We had about a week to work through a huge to-do list, and there were many nights we were up until 1am working our tails off.

One major thing on our list was the side yard. It was a mess when we bought the house, and pretty much continued to be a hot mess for the following three years. We knew if we didn’t take care of the grass issue, we’d never sell the house!

Here’s the eye sore when we moved in:

And one more. I blogged about it previously here. And you know what is like goose-bumps weird? This old post was on August 24, 2010. Three years ago almost to the day. Weird. Apparently August is my blog-about-the-yard month.

Fast forward to March of last year. Our fence fell over in a wind storm so we had to build a new fence and gate. Don’t mind the “after” on the photo. I lifted the photo from that post.

We were so busy prepping the house that we couldn’t sod the yard until like 9pm. In the dark. With a Honda Civic (we had just sold the minivan and were a one-car family while we did Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover). It was hella fun sodding a yard in the dark. We used over 60 pieces of sod and two trips to pick it up.

I think we finished at around midnight. I waited until the morning to snap a picture so that you could actually see it.

Why did we wait 3 years to do this? How come whenever you sell a house you do all those projects to make it perfect for the next owner instead of just doing the projects 3 years prior so you (the current owner!) can actually enjoy them? I’m sure the neighbors were so happy to see this eyesore finished.

And here was the yard about a month later, the day before we closed on it. I kinda wanted to roll around in it. But I didn’t. I do have some standards.

You guys, I’m seriously embarrased about these “before” photos. Check out how awful the yard use to be (and how pretty it is now).

Here you can see the prepping of the yard for sod, sodding, and then what it will look like a month later.

This is the biggest project we tackled to get the house ready to sell. All in all we spent just under $100 on sod (around 60 squares). Adding sod is an inexpensive update that gives you the most bang for your buck. Just make sure you water it! And it’s also easier to lay sod in the daylight, but in a pinch midnight works too. Unfortunately I have first-hand knowledge of that!

Oh, and PS, this type of grass is called St Augustine. I’m not sure if they have it everywhere but in Texas it’s pretty popular. I much prefer St Augustine over Bermuda any day. As soon as we put in a sprinkler system in House3, St Augustine is going in asap. But that might be awhile. Boo.


     
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