Earthworm Living

Amplify a Phone’s Speakers
June 30, 2013, 6:42 pm
Filed under: outside play, Tech, yard

Amplify a Phone’s Speakers

While outside today doing yard-work I wanted to play some music from my phone. Now, my phone has a pretty good built in speaker, but out in the yard that speaker can be over-powered by the road, neighbors, and distance. 

So I found a cute flower pot I had sitting around empty. After knocking out the remaining dirt I placed my phone inside the flower pot. I should probably note that the speakers should be facing the base of the flower pot. This allows the music to bounce off the pottery sides of the pot and exit the pot amplified. Easy peasy!



My flower pot has 2 drainage holes in the bottom. I’m sure I was losing some of my ability to amplify thru those holes, and maybe next time I’ll consider covering them, but it still worked well!


Bat Box
June 29, 2013, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Outside, outside play, yard

Bat Box

Our backyard has such a bad mosquito problem. People have said that it’s because we have lots of mature trees back there. I’ve often blamed our neighbors to the back for letting water stand in large puddles in the low spots in their yard. We’ve even gone back there several times over the years to maintain little drainage channels we had dug for them. Nothing seems to help. I hate to use DEET on us, but I know it’s the only thing that REALLY works.

I, personally, skip the poison and the backyard opting to suffer any mosquito bites I will get while in the front yard. I worked as a scorekeeper at our local ballpark for years as a teenager. So I learned early on that if I could avoid scratching them, the itch would dissipate within 5-10 mins of being bitten. Not only that, there wouldn’t be a welt or bump from the bite.

However, I want to enjoy our backyard without being coated in poison or worrying about getting bit a million and twelve times.  Did you know that bats eat a lot of mosquitoes each night?! I didn’t realize either! So I looked up plans for homemade bat boxes, but being impatient and wanting to get going on a potential solution immediately I also bought one. It’s pretty basic, but if bats house in it that will be fantastic!


There’s an old power pole on our property line next to the backyard that was just begging to have a bat box. The instructions say it could take up to a year and a half for bats to make a home in it. I’m taking the “build it and they will come” approach. 🙂


So it won’t be immediate gratification, and may not even be helpful for this summer, but hopefully we’ll be enjoying our backyard more by the end of next summer.

I’m thinking I need to add a couple more…just in case.

Build a Cedar Sandbox
May 28, 2012, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Crafts, Outside, outside play, yard

Build a Cedar Sandbox

I ran across the plans for a really cool sandbox that had this great lid that when closed made a neat roof for the sandbox and when it’s open it makes a bench for the kids to sit on.

Spring-boarding off of that design I sat down with my pencil, paper, ruler, and big ideas. Soon I had drawn up the design for our sandbox complete with measurements and supplies list.

We chose to use 1″ cedar as the box and pressure treated 2×4’s for the foundation. I know that pressure treated wood would have worked for the whole thing, but I don’t like the idea of my kiddos getting those pressure treated chemicals all over them.  So that leaves the moisture tolerant cedar. It’s not a cheap wood, but it’s not THAT outrageous.

Cutting the pieces and placing them into their general locations.


More wood cutting and assembling. The base is done in the one below.


Finished and ready for sand! We added the ropes to the base just in case we ever decided we needed to move it. It won’t go far filled with sand, but it will probably go a little bit….with a lot of muscle.


Kiddos having tons of fun!


Since it has no lid, we lay some spare wooden fence pickets across the top to keep it from being a giant litter box. LOL!

Garden Gnome Fun
May 29, 2011, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Family, Outside, outside play, yard

Garden Gnome Fun

Alright, I know that garden gnomes have a bad wrap and are considered lame or for old ladies. BUT we watched the kids movie Gnomeo and Juliet. It was pretty cute and put a new spin on my point of view for gnomes.


So I became a gnome fan! LOL! Who would’ve guessed?! Although I like the small, not very noticeable ones vs the big ones you could see from the street. The family has had some good fun placing the gnomes in our garden. They have plant, dirt, and rock areas to set up house in. So hopefully the gnomes won’t be bored with just one type of terrain. 🙂

DSC05380The family thoughtfully places the gnomes in their new homes.

DSC05383Finding just the right home for a gnome can be serious business.




A Bee Swarm
April 3, 2011, 11:42 am
Filed under: bees, Outside, yard

A Bee Swarm

Today I spotted a bee swarm in our pear tree. I have never seen one in person before; so, this was a real treat for me. I took these pictures and tried to decide what I could use to hold the swarm if I decided to attempt to keep it. We don’t have a bee box but my father in law does. I was contemplating what to do while taking the camera back inside only to find that the swarm had already left. That was fast! Maybe this isn’t the summer to try my hand at bee keeping. LOL!




Homemade Compost Bin
March 19, 2011, 6:33 pm
Filed under: compost, gardening, Outside, yard

Homemade Compost Bin

I know there are a lot of plans for DIY compost bins out there. Probably many of them are much better than mine, but does what we need it to do (mostly) and is easy as pie to set up.

It is made of a roll of wire “fencing”, (the kind that is used to help house some sort of animals, maybe chickens), stakes, wire, and cinder blocks (optional). We got our materials from Lowes Home Improvement center and Home Depot. 

The stakes are placed in the corners and the fencing is wrapped around the stakes to make the sides of a “box”. The two are secured together using the wire. *I recommend having the fencing that goes around the sides meet up in one of the front corners. This allows you to be able to detach the front wall of the box and shovel into the pile from the front.* Another section of fencing is attached to the top as a lid.

We eventually decided to add a layer of cinderblocks around the outside of the bottom. This had 2 benefits: keeping the sides from bowing out from the weight of the compost and making it really hard for any animals to try to dig their way under the box walls.

It’s not much to look at and it’s a simple design, but it does the trick.

The current bin:


The current bin alongside the old bin with the compost can from the kitchen waiting to be emptied:


Making HandPrint Stepping Stones
April 17, 2010, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Crafts, gardening, Outside, yard

Making HandPrint Stepping Stones

We recently had a big time making concrete stepping stones for the yard. We started with a simple kit from Hobby Lobby that was just 8 lbs of quick setting concrete. This kit will make either 1  12 in stepping stone or 2  8 in stepping stones. We decided to make the 8 in stepping stones. Along with the concrete mix we also needed molds and any decorations we would want to use on them. These also came from Hobby Lobby.

Since we were making two 8 in stepping stones we divided the concrete in half for use in two molds, making sure to not spill.

Add the water and mix the concrete thoroughly. Be careful to not splash since this is real concrete.

Smooth the concrete so it’s ready for handprints, decorations, and writing. If you end up with too much water you can use paper towels to blot the excess water from the surface. (We didn’t learn this trick until it was too late for our too wet stones.)

The son’s finished product waiting to dry.

The daughter’s finished product waiting to dry (and yes, she knows that the flowers and grass will eventually dry up).

We had a great time making stepping stones for the yard. Now I want a sea of personalized stepping stones from the kids for my yard. Good times! 🙂

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