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.


     

Spring Cleaning: cleaning out the rain gutters

(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.)

One big job I’ve wanted to tackle since moving in is cleaning out the rain gutters. For some reason, presumably leaves and debris, they overflow when it rains yet hardly any water actually exits the downspout.

I finally got up the energy and drug the ladder out to see what’s the deal with the gutters…

Holy guacamole, they were crammed to the hilt with copious amounts of leaves and sludge.

The previous owners apparently tried to remedy the leaves situation by installing some leaf guard mesh stuff. I’m sure at one point it worked great, but after years of rotting in the gutters, it had caved in on itself and leaves filled up on top of it – pretty much defeats the purpose of the leaf guard.

I grabbed a small shovel trowel (I totally had to google that. I’m obviously not a gardener!) and got to work digging the built up sludge. It was mainly leaves, but also a sludgy material on the bottom consisting of decomposing leaves, dirt, and lots of gravel-looking stuff that came off the shingles.

Once the bulk of the gross stuff was cleaned out I figured the best way to clean out the rest of the gunk was to just wash it out with the garden hose. It worked perfectly, probably considering the gutters were made for, well, water. Dur.

Enter True Value Hardware. I found all sorts of awesome goodies for rain gutters (am I the only person that geeks out over cool gadgets and gizmos for rain gutters? Yes? Thought so.) on their website and placed my order. (If you ship the items to your closest store and pick it up there they don’t charge you any shipping. Woot woot!)

I snagged a boat load of Snap-In Gutter Screens and several Decorative Splash Blocks.

My goal with the Gutter Screens is to block all leaves AND SQUIRRELS from getting in the gutters. Random side story: Ben’s grandma used to live in Arizona, and she was obsessed with squirrels. She said they didn’t have any where she lived. I used to laugh when she would come visit and flip out over squirrels because we have TOO MANY squirrels here and they are a nuisance. Squirrels and deer, oh my word.

The weather finally got nicer and the clouds parted and it was time to install the Gutter Screens. I was a tad naive in my excitement. I installed the first one and got a big ol’ womp-womp. They were too big.

Oops. I guess not all gutters are created equally. Should have measured before buying! Lesson learned.

Never one to take no for an answer, I decided to cut them to size. Seemed like a logical option.

Worked like a charm. It’s almost like it was meant to be. Except the edge looked terrible.

So I just tucked it under the lip of the gutter. To be perfectly honest, I like my way of installing them even better. They are suppose to sit on top of the gutter, but they seemed so floppy that way – like they might fall off, and tucking them under really wedges them in and makes them feel very secure.

After the first guard was installed and cut while in place, I wised up and realized it’s much easier to cut them before installing them. If you ever install these in your gutters, cut them first, then install.

Okay, so lets talk about the installation process. The Gutter Screens have a clip-like edge on one side that clips snugly around the flashing under the shingles.

What is flashing? I’m so glad you asked! Flashing is sheet metal installed at any break in a shingled roofline to prevent leaks. I found this nifty diagram that shows you exactly where your flashing is located.

Here’s a close-up of the Gutter Screen attached to the flashing under the shingles. It took a little maneuvering around the shingles to get the guards on, but once in place they fit like a glove.

The corners were a little bit more tricky, but honestly, they ended up being my favorite part of the installation because they broke up the monotony of installing guard after guard. I just cut the guard at a 45 degree angle (totally eye-balled it) and popped it in.

One side done…

And a perfect 90 degree angle right there folks.

Here they are, all installed and looking fly.

Is it weird that I get giddy-excited and proud when I look at the corners? Ya, it’s probably weird. Just pretend like I didn’t say that. Ahem. Oh, check out the Decorative Splash Block below the corner. I totally got both items in the same photo.

Speaking of the Splash Blocks, not only are they “decorative”, they also are functional and help direct water away from your foundation. Had the gutter down spouts not been totally clogged with gross leaves before I cleaned them all out, water would have been drowning our foundation which is apparently not good for it. I figured if I was going to clean out the gutters I better direct all the future rain away from the foundation a la these handy splash blocks.

I think we have some weeding in the not so distant future…

Are you ready for outdoor Spring Cleaning? How often do you clean out your gutters? Ever? This is the first house I’ve ever owned that had gutters, so this was a new experience for me. Hopefully the new gutter guards will keep all the gunk out of the gutters so I don’t have to clean them out again any time soon!


     

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. ;)


     
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