DIY Lunchbox Ice Packs: Keeping Lunchtime Cool

 Image via Flickr user Rubbermaid

Alright, parents: the kids have finally gone back to school! The back-to-school shopping list might have seemed endless, but we’re here to arm you with some creative and resourceful DIY projects that can help your family this fall season.

 

Here are two inexpensive DIY hacks that can help you cut corners and keep your kids’ lunches cool by the time noon rolls around. Not only will these DIY ice packs help you save money for your family, but they are also fun and safe projects to do with the kids on the weekend. Get started with the steps below.

 

 

 Image via Flickr user horiavarlan 

Method 1

 

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pack of sponges
  • 1 box of sandwich bags
  • Bowl of water

What to do:

  1. Take the sponge and soak it in water, letting the sponge absorb as much water as possible.
  2. Place the sponge in the sandwich bag.
  3. Let the sponge freeze overnight.
  4. After the sponge thaws out, place it back in the freezer at the end of the day. The sponge will absorb the “melted” water and be good to go for the next day. 

 

By using sponges as a thrifty alternative to those pricey ice packs, you won’t break the bank replacing them if the ice pack is accidentally thrown away after lunch. In addition to saving money, you’ll also be conserving water by allowing the ice pack to re-absorb the water in the sandwich bag time and time again.

 

The second method is a bit more hands-on and does require the use of rubbing alcohol, so please use your discretion when working with children.

 

 

 

Method 2

 

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of water per pack
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol per pack
  • Freezer bags
  • Food dye

What to do:

  1. Pour three cups of water into a freezer bag.
  2. Pour one cup of rubbing alcohol into the same bag.
  3. Add a few drops of food dye of your choice to the mixture.
  4. Shake it up!
  5. Remove the air from the bag.
  6. Place the first bag into another freezer bag to prevent leaks.
  7. Flatten the bags.
  8. Freeze.

 

This project provides longevity for your family’s ice packs. You can also personalize ice packs by letting the kids choose which color they want their ice pack to be.

 

We hope you and your loved ones have a great school year, and keep checking back here for more posts on how to save money and use water with fun, creative DIY projects the whole family can enjoy.

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DIY Snow Cones: A Natural Taste of Summer

Ah, summertime.

Favorite memories of the season often include a combination of sun, water and delicious frozen treats, one of which is the classic snow cone. This flavored crushed ice is a simple but universal staple of many memorable summer adventures.

Unfortunately, snow cone syrup is often packed with chemicals, food dyes and hidden sugars that aren’t quite as nutritious as they are fun to eat. If you’re looking to capture the magic of summer in a delicious snow cone without any of the pre-packaged or way-too-sugary syrups, look no further! Here’s how to have fun while making healthier choices this summer.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice
  • ½ to 1 cup of sugar, depending on your preferred tartness of juice
  • Ice
  • Blender, food processor or snow cone maker to shave ice
  • Small saucepan

Image via Flickr user L.A. Foodie

What to do: 

  1. In a small saucepan, combine fruit juice and sugar.
  2. Set saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn to low and simmer for five minutes, stirring until sugar completely dissolves.
  4. Pour syrup into a jar and allow it to cool completely.
  5. Refrigerate for several hours before use.
  6. To make snow cone, mound shaved ice in a snow cone cup or bowl. Pour your homemade syrup over the ice and dig in!

Bonus recipe: 

August also happens to be National Coffee Month. If you’re a kid at heart who still needs their afternoon caffeine, here’s a recipe for a delicious coffee syrup for a cold treat fit for grown ups.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of strong coffee
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbs of lemon juice
  • Small pan

What to do:

  1. Boil ingredients in a small pan.
  2. Set in fridge to cool.
  3. Pour over shaved ice.

The summer celebrations don’t have to stop when school starts! Keep a taste of summer going as long as possible by enjoying after-school snow cones to cool off and celebrate a long day of learning.

What’s your favorite DIY snow cone syrup flavor? Let us know!

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

Photo via Flickr user Fred Rockwood

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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DIY Bath Bombs: Soak Up the Fun!

Photo by Philippa Willitts on Flickr

In recent years, bath bombs have secured their place in both the bathtubs and hearts of many. These fizzy creations bring a fresh sensation to bath water that’s exciting and relaxing for children and adults alike. With endless possibilities for shape, size and color, DIY bath bombs make for a perfect summer gift—or a perfect way to treat yourself!

Photo by Erika van Rijssen on Flickr

What you’ll need:

  • Whisk and mixing bowl
  • Round silicone molds
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or variant)
  • 8-10 drops assorted essential oils
  • Soap colorants
  • Dried flowers (optional)

Photo by rachelakelso on Flickr

What to do:

  1. Whisk dry ingredients (citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, dried flowers) together, removing all clumps.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients (water, coconut oil, essential oils, colorants). See below for tips on which scents and colors we recommend.
  3. Gradually combine wet and dry ingredients to form a loose, sand-like texture. If your bath bombs begin fizzing early, slow down your mixing speed.
  4. Transfer mixture into silicone molds. Depending on the amount of ingredients and humidity level, your mixture can dry out quickly.
  5. Allow bath bombs to dry, then carefully remove from silicone molds and store in an airtight container.
  6. When ready for use, simply drop into prepared bath water and relax.

Tips and tricks:

It may be tempting to add extra essential oils for health benefits or a stronger scent, but beware: Some oils can pose a serious health risk in high concentrations.

Watch out for food coloring or other dyes that might stain your tub. While food coloring can be used in small doses, we recommend using soap colorants.

If your bath bombs are too runny and won’t maintain shape, you can use witch hazel to firm up your materials.

Which luxurious combination will you try? Share your results with us!

 

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DIY Terrariums: Put Some Spring in Your Step!

Happy March! We’ve entered the final stretch of winter—some areas are still experiencing cold temperatures, but spring officially begins this month.

 

Now is the time to reintroduce green to your life by building your own terrarium. This simple and low-maintenance indoor garden will freshen up your home and spirit for the upcoming season.

 

What You’ll Need:

  • Sturdy, clear container
  • Pebbles for drainage
  • Potting soil or sand (no fertilizer)
  • Plants (succulents or mosses work well)
  • Decorations (optional)
  • Water and spray bottle for maintenance

 

What to Do:

 1. Consider using fun, unique containers to house your terrarium. Unexpected displays such as a domed glass cake tray, large conch shell or even a hollowed lightbulb can make your mini-garden reflect your style and fit in wherever you need more greenery.

 

2. Layer the bottom of your container with pebbles. This creates a drainage system for plant roots in case of overwatering. Adding potting charcoal can also be beneficial to some terrarium styles. This layer will help keep water free of impurities and prevent mold growth.

 

3. Fill your container with soil or sand, leaving enough space to house your plants or any decorations you plan on using. Fertilizer is not recommended for terrariums, since plants need to adjust to permanent soil and have limited space to grow.

 

4. Pick your plants. While many types of plants can thrive inside a terrarium, they have vastly different needs in soil, sunlight and water. It’s important to pick plants that best suit your living environment for stress-free care.


5. Make it your own! There’s an endless amount of accessories that can bring some personality to your new terrarium. Consider a woodland fantasy or Easter theme for spring. 

Aquatic Tips and Tricks

 

Keep a spray bottle full of water nearby to hydrate and refresh your plants. The force of water can easily disturb terrarium settings when it is poured from above.

Closed terrariums thrive in a humid environment. While some plant varieties can be fully self-sustaining, it’s important to keep an eye out for mold and occasionally allow the container to air out.

For a more aquatic look, plants like Anubias can be planted in tall vases and submerged in water. Once spring flowers begin to bloom, you can also preserve them in water and bring their beauty inside.

 

How will you personalize your spring terrarium? Share your homemade ecosystems with us!

 

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