The Best Crack Weeding Tool for Patios and Driveways - We Review Three.

By Ed

If you have a patio or brick driveway - you know my pain. Weeds. Specifically weeds between the cracks.  How do you get rid of them?!  We've written before about what to do to prevent the paver weeds from coming back and keep them away for years - but step one is getting rid of them.  So what's the best crack weeding tool? That's what I set out to review.  

So that you don't have to waste your money on a terrible weed crack tool, I compared three popular ones:

So, imagine me in the hot sun, hacking away at our giant driveway on my hands and knees and relax, knowing you will get the benefit of my suffering in the form of this review.


DIY: Make a Huge Frame for WAY Less money

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

There are so many reasons we wanted to hang this giant old-school Empire Strikes Back poster. 
  • We are super Star Wars nerds.  (Ed knew he wanted me to bear his children from the moment I called him a "Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder".) 
  • This poster deserved better than spending the last couple of decades rolled up in one closet or another.  I'm told it's worth a lot of money. 
  • It holds some fun memories.  As a kid, I won it in a colouring contest at the local video store.  When I went in to pick up my prize, the owner apologized, all he had was this Empire Strikes Back Poster.  He kindly offered to find me a poster for something girlie instead.  I insisted he didn't need to bother.  I only had eyes for Han Solo, even as a kid.

Armed with a 60% off framing coupon we finally went to give our treasured poster a more fitting home.  I don't know how much we thought Michael's would charge for a frame for this, but we were not prepared to pay over $350!  

That was the quote WITH the discount.  The main problem is that it's a very odd size - 23" X 53".  Custom framing was our only option, but we were not willing to pay that much.  Back to the closet for you, dear old poster friend.

Until a recent trip to Home Depot, by poking around we found all the elements.  Here's how we made this huge frame for cheap!


How to Make a Denim Quilt Using Old Jeans (An Ultra Simple Sewing Project!)

by Robin

How have I not shared this recycled jeans quilt with you yet?!?  It's one of my absolute favourites. It combines so much of what I love: making something beautiful and useful for very little money, using things that otherwise would be wasted.  This craft is the essence of my eco-chic, frugal, creative, crafty ways.  

I made my first of these quilts many years ago - it was shortly after we added the enormous porch (and second storey addition) to our generational family home.  My dad lovingly made us a porch swing - and I found a second-hand couch with cushions that I recovered in outdoor fabric.  It's my favourite place.  Especially in rainstorms.

And when it's too cold to lounge on the porch - I needed a heavy blanket.  Enter this perfect porch quilt made of my favourite fabric.

I adore denim. Maybe you've seen our daughter's window seat?  Together we covered the cushion in a patchwork of recycled denim. I love it's deep and varied colour and rugged yet soft quality.  

The quilt I'm sharing today was my first quilt and my first recycled denim project.  It's perfect for cool evenings - and it makes a wonderful picnic blanket. It's thick and only gets more beautiful with many washings.

If you are new to sewing - this is a fabulous project.  It's affordable -  just old jeans!  And it's easy - straight lines that don't need to be perfect. If you look closely at my photos - you'll see some pretty subpar seams - it's totally doesn't matter - in fact it adds to the casual quality of this blanket. 

Here's how it's made...


"Weed-Free" Brick Driveway Update: 6 years later (aka how to make it even better)

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

Hundreds of thousands of readers have visited our post to learn how we made our brick driveway weed-free.  We've heard great success stories from lots of people!  Six years later it's time to update you on how it's doing - and to make a couple of improvements.

It's held up really well.  The almost knee-high weeds from years gone by have stayed gone.  (This is a major success - those beasts were pretty embarrassing. It was getting a little bit Little Shop of Horrors out there.)

There are a couple of things we're wishing we did six years ago.  That's what we're tackling out there today - and sharing for you here.


How to Make a Giant Outdoor JENGA game (AND teach your kids DIY skills)!

By Ed

Today is our son's 12th birthday and I thought it was a good time to do a project I'd been planning for this summer. He is loving doing big projects more and more and I liked the idea of something we could knock out in an afternoon and have fun with.

Enter Giant-JENGA!

The classic Jenga game is simple and easy to learn. A GIANT version should be even more fun, right? I'd priced out similar ideas online and they run anywhere from 80 bucks up (of course, you can buy giant Jenga pre-made). And none of them seem to be made from an outdoor wood like cedar or pressure treated. You can also find lots of tutorials online for 2"x4" versions - but again, not terribly weather-proof.

My goal was to figure out how to build a giant Jenga game that's fun, but also weather-proof and pretty enough to leave out, even if no one was playing. 

Cedar (while more costly than spruce or pressure treated) is perfect. It also smells amazing. It is also easy to sand and fairly lightweight (if the Giant game un-JENGAS on top of someone, this was a concern). Because of the cost, I cheated in a couple areas so no waste was created.

But, before I get to the how-to, I thought I would run down a list of cool stuff you get to teach your kids in this project:
  • Planning for material usage and how to minimize waste and expense.
  • How to choose stock (or lumber): 
    • I pulled several 2"x6"x8' cedar boards to show how to sight down the edges and choose the straightest ones. My son found that kinda cool (or maybe he was just humouring me...)
  • How to allow for blade kerf (or width) in cuts so all pieces end up the same size.
  • How to finish a project so that rough edges and splinters are all cleaned up.
  • Also; Mmmmmm the beautiful smell of cedar...

Doesn't that sound like a sweet list of stuff to cover in less than an afternoon of puttering in the workshop? Also, did I mention you, yourself get to smell like sweet, sweet cedar the whole time (and for hours after)?


Ultra Easy Custom Art - No Artistic Talent Required!

by Robin

I've had this fruit-style "art" on display for so much longer than I ever meant to. I found them (including frames) for a steal - $10 each! And when I bought them I meant to do something more interesting with the 'art'. I've never had much love for them.  I put the grouping up on the wall in our dining room as a placeholder, knowing it wouldn't be long until I made them special.

Flash forward fifteen years later - they're still there.  FIFTEEN YEARS!!!

I have no logical explanation for why I left this up on my walls for so long.  I think I just stopped seeing them?  Our current dining room shares space with our front hall - so every single time we come in and out - or welcome guests - this meh "art" is what greets us.  How did I leave this so long??!?!

Today I woke up with a burr in my bonnet (-is that the expression? I'm notorious for messing these things up [- Ed's note: No - it's not an expression]).  I was NOT going to live with this a moment longer.  I've had an idea of what to do with these frames for years - and today was the day I finally got 'er done.

So, I made a trip to my local discount fabric store and roamed the aisles until I found something that spoke to me.  

Using fabric and spraypaint - and no artistic ability - I made some much more interesting art for our walls.  It cost so little - I spent less than $15!  Check out the ultra simple how to here...