Cardboard Labyrinth with Lights

October 13th, 2023

cardboard-labyrith-with-lights

This is one of the most elaborate and exciting mazes I’ve ever seen: a cardboard labyrinth with lights, including black lights! You will need quite a large area, because the bigger the maze, the more fun it is. You can start collecting cardboard boxes from appliance stores and Costco several months before the event. You can set up your maze outside if you want, but then you will have more difficulty in lighting it up with desk lamps, black lights, and even white Christmas lights.

This cardboard labyrith was built in a church, where there was plenty of space. There should be an entrance, an exit, and many twists and turns with several dead ends. You can mark the entrance with a black Sharpie marker above the doorway.

entrance-to-maze

Then you need many spools of packing tape and duct tape. Duct tape is stronger and preferred, but packing tape is also fine and costs less. Set up all the boxes first without taping anything, just in case you change your mind on the design. Once everything is in place, you can start taping the boxes together.

labyrinth-hallway

It’s nice to have a light at the end of a tunnel, and a desk lamp works perfect for that. You can place those in the corners. Cut a hole in the top of the corner cardboard box and place a plastic plate on top of it. (You can get those at a dollar store.) This is so that the kids don’t burn themselves on the light bulb. If the dish is a red see-through color, the light will look red.

lights-in-labyrinth

You can also use black lights to make one of the corridors super cool. Cut holes in the tops of the boxes and place the black lights on top.

black-lights-in-maze

This will add ambience, and the kids’ light-colored clothes will glow.

maze-with-black-light

It’s a good idea to use chairs or other furniture at the junctions, to keep the labyrinth from coming undone.

outer-labyrinth

When you exit the maze, you feel like you have truly had an adventure!

end-of-maze

Our family has constructed so many fun things with boxes over the years, so we really enjoyed this lit-up cardboard labyrinth!

New Vegetable Gardens & Companion Planting

May 19th, 2023

raised-bed

I’m feeling so excited and inspired this year to create a new set of vegetable beds! Vegetables are so much yummier from the garden than from the store, and there are no perticides in my backyard because I will be using natural ways to keep pests away.

Once again, I used the sun lamp from the hydroponic garden to start my vegetable seeds this year. I placed an old cookie sheet under the seeds so that water wouldn’t get all over the counter. I am growing three heirloom tomato plants in the hydroponic garden. Then I’m also growing green beans, peas, cucumbers, melon, watermelon, and lettuce. My lettuce grew successfully from seed last year and produced a harvest throughout the entire summer.

Here is a review of last year’s gardening posts:

seedlings

My husband got me a couple of raised cedar vegetable beds, and I found some tall trellises at Lowe’s that were half the price of Costco. We filled the raised beds with good organic soil made especially for vegetables.

raised-vegetable-beds

I’ve been studying about companion planting. Basil is a good herb to grow beside tomato plants because they keep the tomato pests away. Cucumber grows well with green beans and peas. I grabbed a sheet of paper and began scribbling where I would place each plant for maximum happiness for the garden.

plant-map

Come to find out, cucumber doesn’t like basil, so I scribbled it out and placed it next to the peas instead of the green beans. The back of the raised garden bed is where the trellises are, so the green beans and the peas will be climbing those trellises. I have some poles to put the cucumbers on. I found some potato starts at a local gardening store, and green beans produce nitrogen that potatoes need, so I want to put potatoes next to the green beans.

Watermelon and melon grow along the ground, so they can grow around the potatoes and tomatoes, if they run out of space. We also got jalapeño peppers and red and yellow bell pepper plant starts. My husband and third son love jalapeños, and I use bell peppers in salads and other dishes.

I have an apricot tree that hasn’t started producing yet. I placed lupine flowers next to it on both sides, because they produce nitrogen that fruit trees need. Then I placed ruby red bottle brush in front of the fruit tree to draw more bees to pollinate all my produce.

strawberry-beds

The raised bed I showed you last year on my YouTube channel cracked over the winter, so I had one of my sons remove the legs and place it on the ground. I planted strawberries in it, because strawberries are invasive, and I want them contained. The strawberries in the terra cotta strawberry planter mostly came back, surprisingly, after so many freezes and thaws last winter.

blue-flower-pots

On my back porch I’ve planted wisteria in large pots to grow over the pergola and draw more pollinators to the backyard. I also placed annuals inside the pots. One of the annuals is marigolds because they keep mosquitoes away, and I was just bit the other day before I decided to get an insect-repellent flower. Red geraniums have always been an easy flower to plant, and I got some small blue flowers to round out the splash of color.

I’m looking forward to see how successful my vegetable gardens will be. I will try to come back and drop another picture in here, to show you what it looks like when it’s all producing yummy vegetables!

Here is the transformation, a month later:

Cops and Robbers Themed Party

March 23rd, 2023

cops-robbers-themed-party

Out of all the themed birthday parties we did over the years, one of the most original and interesting was a Cops and Robbers themed party! We had so much fun gathering costumes from thrift shops and yard sales. One of the costumes was a gangster outfit. Another was a policeman costume. We also had a prison outfit. We made a jail out of a large cardboard box painted black, with bars across a window.

We also created cardboard cars for the car chase. We used computer paper boxes, and we painted one of them green. The other one we wrapped in black butcher paper that I had left over from another project. The top was cut off completely, and the bottom had a circle hole for the kids to fit over their bodies. we hot glued a makeshift steering wheel by placing a Pringles can first against the box, and then attaching a Wii steering wheel to the Pringles can that was hot glued to the front of the box car.

cops-and-robbers-party

We decorated the dining room with silver and black helium balloons, which we tied to the back of each chair, along with a Happy Birthday sign.

cops-robbers-decorations

We made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with sprinkles. Then we created a white frosting star in the middle of the festive cake, adding small marshmallows to the ends of each of the points of the star. Finally, we added a sherrif badge to the middle. We got a package of sheriff badges from a local party store.

cop-cake

We placed a black sheet over the table and sprinkled silver stars over the cloth, along with the remaining sheriff badges. We also had various other snacks.

cop-party-decorations

After cake and presents, the kids went downstairs to play cops and robbers with their costumes, cardboard cars, cardboard jail, and secret hideout in a closet under the stairs. The kids chased each other for hours and had a great time.

arrest-cops-robbers-party

We attached a piece of cardboard painted with chalkboard paint against the wall of the secret hideout under the stairs, to write with chalk all the secret plans. I was inspired with this unique idea from the Wile E Coyote cartoons that I watched when I was a child.

robber-hideout

The kids had a hilarious time with this Cops and Robbers themed party!

For more themed birthday ideas we’ve done over the years, check out our 31 Days of Themed Cakes.

25th Wedding Anniversary: Highlight of 2022

February 3rd, 2023

25th-Anniversary

One of the highlights of 2022 was the 25th anniversary of my marriage. We had professional photos taken, and Alan did something romantic with my ring. A couple of years ago, the diamond fell out of my wedding ring, and I lost it. I saw the moment it happened, so I knew the diamond was somewhere around the cushioned chair where I was sitting. I called out for Alan to come help me look. I shook out my clothes and took out the seat cushion, and we finally found it. The experience reminded me of the Scripture from Luke 15, where the woman lost a valuable coin, and she swept her entire house until she found it, and there was much joy.

The ring really needed to be resized as well, and we didn’t have the money. Now, two years later, he had a better-paying job, and while I was on a road trip, Alan decided to take the ring and get each of my children’s birth stones placed into the ring.

Meanwhile Alan’s wedding ring didn’t fit either, so I decided to get him a new one. I had raised money by selling odds and ends, and I had presented him a ring on his birthday, but he didn’t like it. So I told him we could return the ring and pick out another one together.

Out of the blue, He calls me in the middle of a week day, which is odd, and tells me to come to him so we can pick out his ring. So we go to the jewelry store to pick out his ring, and we narrow it down until he found the one he wanted. Then he told me that we should look for a ring for me. I told him he didn’t need to get me a new ring–we just needed to re-attach the diamond. He said, “Let’s look at rings.”

I started looking, and I saw a ring that looked very similar to mine behind the glass, except that it had other gemstones in it. I pointed to it and said, “That looks similar to my ring…” He blurted out, “That’s your ring!”

I was definitely surprised, and I love it! I feel like royalty, and like it’s a crown of beauty. I feel like I’m carrying around my family everywhere I go. I told Alan that each stone represented one of our children, and that the diamond represented him.

Alan stopped and said, “No, it doesn’t represent me, it represents us.”

All I could do was smile. 🙂