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DIY Cinder Block Bench

To follow up on last week's post on our DIY Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed, I wanted to share pics and instructions for our coordinating DIY Cinder Block Bench.

We got the idea (naturally) from Pinterest.  I like the way cinder blocks look, while also being cheap and easy to work with.  I love the look of gray and concrete, and with cinder blocks, you don't have to shape the concrete yourself... they are ready to go! 

The bench we liked the most was this one from Kayla's Basement.  We pretty much followed her instructions, but without the cushion (I liked the zen look of the bare wood), and changing the size.

Supplies needed:


For the space we were using, 8' was too long for a bench width, so we ("we" meaning my husband) cut each 4x4 down to a 7' length.
We then coated the wood with Thompson's Waterseal to protect it from the elements.  You can also stain the wood if you want, but I really liked the natural wood look. 

The most time-consuming part of the project was leveling the ground where we were placing the bench.  My husband and father spent a lot of time with shovels and a level to get it perfect. 
Once it was done, we finalized placement of the 12 blocks (6 on each side, with 4 standing upright vertically, and 2 stacked on top of them horizontally).
The blocks are heavy, and didn't seem like they were going anywhere, but for some added structural stability, we adhered the blocks with Liquid Nails before inserting the 4x4's into the top 4 holes.

My husband and father enjoying a rest on the bench they just made!

Simple and contemporary, but sturdy and functional!  I added a few plants around it in these Kardemumma series plant pots from Ikea.

Here you can see the bench in context of the yard with our two big oak trees (and you also see why we needed leveling - the ground is sloped right here).

Now we are ready for spring and summer outdoor enjoyment!


DIY Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

We have been slow in getting things done in our yard, mostly because I have a lot of ideas that I just can't commit to (hence my non-permanent yard options, like this hanging herb garden). But we felt the need this year to do away with our old wooden raised garden bed, as it was starting to show it's age.

I really like gray and stone tones, so we found a few DIY yard projects using cinder blocks (I have a bench to make next), including this raised garden bed.  Here is how we did it!

Using 12 of these 8"x8"x16" cinder blocks from Home Depot ($1.58 each), and 12 of these 8"x2"x16" concrete top caps from Home Depot ($0.90 each), some QuickCrete to lightly seal the caps to the cinder blocks, and 4 bags of garden soil (on sale at Home Depot), this total project cost about $45 total.
The most time consuming part involved clearing our tough St. Augustine grass, and leveling the blocks in the dirt.
After we laid the 12 blocks in a "key" formation, we topped each with a top cap (using a quick smear of QuickCrete to seal) for a more "complete" look than if we just left the cinder blocks bare.
Then we filled with soil, planted our little veggies, and voila, all done!
Not bad for a day's work!


Travel Tuesday: Family Travel Bucket List - US Edition

Last week we highlighted the international destinations in our Family Travel Bucket List, and this week we are following it up with our list of stateside destinations we must visit with our two boys.
1. Disneyworld
Growing up in California, I know and love Disneyland, and we took the boys there last year.  But we can't go a lifetime without a family trip to Disneyworld!
2. Fenway Park

Both Nik and I grew up loving baseball, and it is important to Nik to visit some of the nation's classic ballparks with our boys.
3. Grand Canyon

4. Hawaii

My grandparents lived in Hawaii, so I was fortunate enough to visit many times as a child.  Nik has never been, so we can't wait to take our boys.
5. New York City

A city Nik and I have visited several times, but also one that needs to be experienced by the boys.
6. San Francisco

See above.
7. Tombstone 
Nik and I LOVE Tombstone, and are eager to go back as a family.  I'm your huckleberry.
8. Washington D.C.

Our nation's capital is a must-see for any American family.
9. Wrigley Field

Another iconic park that Nik wants to go with our family - preferably to see the Cubs win!
10. Yellowstone

For a family that loves camping as much as ours, Yellowstone is the ultimate dream camping destination in the US for us.


Travel Tuesday: Family Travel Bucket List - International Edition

If you read this blog, then you know that we love to travel.  The majority of my personal bucket list consists of places in the world that I want to, no, need to visit.  Many of these trips we have been saving until our boys were old enough to appreciate and absorb the experiences, as there are so many parts of the world that we want to experience with them.  We hope that by showing the boys the world, that we will instill in them the same love for travel, craving for adventure, and desire to experience other cultures that we have. 
We are excited that the time to start showing them the world is almost upon us.  In order to start planning these family adventures, we began compiling a list of our family's travel bucket list (places we want to visit specifically with our boys).  Here is our list of international destinations on our Family Travel Bucket List (US destinations on our list will be posted on the blog next week).
1. African Safari
2. Amazon
We have been to the Amazon ourselves (click here for more), and realized that this was a part of the world our boys needed to experience.
3. Athens

4. Australia

5. Egypt
6. Gorilla Tracking

We are intrigued by the options in the Bwindi National Park in Uganda.
7. Great Wall of China

8. Ireland

Our road trip through Ireland, especially the Ring of Kerry really got under our skin, so we need to go back with the boys.
9. Japan

My brother and his family live in Japan, and we have been saving our opportunity to visit them there for when the boys were old enough to enjoy not only time with their family, but everything the trip would have to offer by way of culture, food, and sights.
10. London

I haven't been back to the country of my birth since I was two (Sawyer's age now).
11. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is another place Nik and I have been in our travels that we feel compelled to return to with the boys.  Grayson talks about taking the train to Machu Picchu someday.
12. Northern Lights

We've had our eyes on this place, the Hotel Aurora (formerly Aurora Chalet) in Finland, as they provide guests with an "aurora alarm" that goes off when the lights are about to happen.
13. Paris

I haven't been to Paris since I was a toddler, and would love to go again with my own two munchkins.
14. Pompeii

15. Rome

16. Spain

Spain is another place Nik and I have visited that thoroughly got under our skin.  While it was great for a couple, we feel that it would also be great for our family.
17. Venice


Crock Pot Party Meatballs

This is my most requested party recipe.  People go crazy for these meatballs, and there is never a single one leftover at the end of a party or tailgate.  The best part (aside from them being delicious) is that they are sooo easy to make!

Crock Pot Party Meatballs
  • 1 bag of frozen, cooked, meatballs
  • 1 jar of chili sauce
  • 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 lemon
  • Tabasco sauce (to taste)
Dump the bag of meatballs (still frozen) into a crock pot.
Dump in the entire jar of chili sauce, the entire can of cranberry sauce. 
Squeeze the juice from the entire lemon into the crock pot.
Add several drips of Tabasco sauce at the level you prefer (if you want the "kick" to be subtle or strong).
Stir it all together so that the ingredients are somewhat consistently distributed.
Set the slow cooker to high, and let cook for approximately 3 hours (or until meatballs are completely thawed and nice and hot), stirring occasionally.
Voila!  Ready to go for the party (or tailgate)!  I serve them with toothpicks.