Thursday, April 14, 2016

DIY Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Display Rack

My boys LOVE being Cub Scouts. And hands down their FAVORITE Cub Scout activity is our annual Pinewood Derby event.

We have so much fun designing and making the cars with the boys every year. But, after the event is over, all their cars just end up in a bag in the closet. We are torn between wanting to leave them out so the boys can enjoy them and wanting to keep them hidden away so they don't get ruined and the boys can keep them throughout their lives. (Superman still has all of his old Pinewood Derby cars from when he was a kid.) So my solution: make a display rack.

(Click on any of the pictures to see them larger.)

This blog post gives you a step-by-step explanation of how I turned this:

Into this:

What you'll need: (Note, the pictures show supplies for two display racks.)
  • 1 in. x 10 in. x 4 ft. board (I used pine)
  • 1 in. x 4 in. x 4 ft. board
  • 1/2 in. 2 in. x 3 ft.
  • 10 #6 x 1 1/2 in. wood screws
  • wood glue
  • electric drill with bits
  • electric saw (we used a circular saw)
  • pencil and ruler
  • paint tape, paint, and stain
  • sawtooth picture hanger
Step 1: Cut the 1 in. x 10 in. x 4 ft. into half, forming two 1 in. x 10 in. x 24 in. boards. You'll use one of these boards as the backboard for the display rack. Sand until smooth.
Step 2: Cut the 1 in. x 4 in. x 4 ft. board into the five shelves. I used the backboard itself to measure the appropriate width for each shelf. Sand until smooth.

(I measured, cut, measured, cut, etc. because I was afraid if I did all the measurements before cutting that the tiny bit lost from each side of the cut would affect the overall width of each cut.)
Step 3: Create a *template* for even measurements on each shelf by covering the back edge of your shelf with the painter's tape and measuring 1.5 in from each edge. Then drilling a small screw hole in the middle at each end. Repeat this using the template on each shelf.
Note: To make sure I didn't drill too deeply, I marked the drill bit with a piece of painter's tape to show me where to stop drilling.
Step 4: Using the painter's tape template, measure and mark the drill holes on the backboard. I started with the template at the very bottom of the board, drilling holes all the way through where the two existing holes were. Then moving the template 4 inches up and drilling those holes. Repeat until you have holes drilled for five shelves 4 inches apart.
Step 5: Drill all of the screws through the backboard until they were just barely peaking through.
Step 6: Put a line of wood glue on the inside of the shelf.
Step 7: Align the holes on the shelf with the screws in the backboard and then screw each shelf on tight. Wipe off any wood glue that squeezes out.
The display rack could probably be used once the shelves are added, but because we are dealing with cars on wheels, we have to do something to make sure they don't roll off. My solution was to add a tiny raised platform in the center of the shelf for the car to rest on, with its wheels resting just off the shelf.
Step 8: Take the 1/2 in. 2 in. x 3 ft. and cut it into five 6 inch strips. Sand until smooth.
Step 9: First measure and mark the center for each shelf. Then put some glue on the bottom of each strip and place on the pre-marked area.
Step 10: Clamped the strips and let them dry for about 5 minutes.
Step 11: Measure the center of the back, about 1-2 inches down from the top and add the sawtooth hanger.
Step 12: Finish as desired. I painted each shelf the color of the different dens and finished the backboard with a clear stain. Finally, I finished it all off with 3 coats of high gloss polyurethane to prevent the paint from chipping.

Close up of Thing 1's

Close up of Thing 2's

Overall, it took about $25 and 5 hours (including all the painting) to finish both display racks. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and will have fun making an easy Pinewood Derby display rack for your own Cub Scout!

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Super (Mario) 8th Birthday Party!

I got my sons Super Mario Wii for Christmas this year. I have to admit, it was quite the "sherrif's badge" because I have always LOVED the Super Mario series. It's really the only video game I really love to play to this day. In fact, we had lots of marathon game playing in the months that followed (much to my non-video-game-playing husband's chagrin). So I was very excited this year when the boys agreed to doing a Mario themed birthday party!!

As always, I started by creating some invitations in photoshop:

I like to do parties between lunch and dinner, so that I don't have to do lots of food, just light snacks to go with the cake and ice cream. 

This year I would tell the kids to "power-up" on snacks for completing the challenges, so I did snacks based on the power ups. Powdered doughnut holes for the Freeze Power and cheese ball puffs for the Fire power.

Sugar cookies with icing for the stars and marshmallows dipped in chocolate candy for the mushrooms.

I went back and forth on what I wanted to do for the cake, but honestly, I started running out of I decided to do a very simple cake. This is a two layer 9x13 vanilla cake (this is my white cake recipe I love...light and moist) with buttercream (my fav butter cream recipe, but I use 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening to make stiffer), and marshmallow fondant (recipe here). The little characters I got off I found an assortment of 18 two-inch characters for $8 with free shipping.


2:00- 2:15 - Costumes and snacks
All kids will receive their two sided Mario/Luigi visors (instructions here) and a fake mustache (I got 36 for $5 off amazon).

Supplies: red/green posterboard, elastic, gluestick

(Side note: I made Thing 1 & Thing 2 these personalized Mario shirts to wear for the party using solid color tees and iron on t-shirts for dark tees.)

2:15-2:45 Pin the mustache on Mario.
I designed the poster in photoshop and then printed it off for $6 at the university library's over-sized color plotter. Finished dimensions 24 in X 36 in.

Supplies: Mario Poster and black felt with adhesive back mustaches (approx 2 sheets at .99 a sheet at Joanne's), and bandanna.

2:45-3:15 Yoshi Egg Hunt
This past Halloween, Thing 2 was Yoshi. So, I just had him throw on his Yoshi costume and read the instructions for the game. Meanwhile, we had hidden 48 brightly colored eggs filled with gold coins in the backyard.

Supplies: Plastic Easter eggs, chocolate or plastic gold coins

3:15-3:30 Defeat Bowser's Castle
In the game, before you defeat Bowser, you have to defeat his castle full of bad guy traps. In this case, the kids had to beat the Chain Chompy pinata.

Supplies: Beach ball (Everything is a $1 sells these), newspaper, and pinata paste (flour, water, and dash of salt), crepe paper, foam sheets, glue, bat/stick, and candy

3:30-3:45 Cake
In the past, I always forget to do ice cream, but it was super hot this year! So I definitely remembered!

Supplies: Cake and ice cream

3:45-4:00 Defeat Bowser
Once the kids had "powered up" on cake, Bowser came out! The kids had to play a Red Light/Green Light type game (they could only run when Bowser wasn't looking at them) to run up and grab one power up at a time from the yellow 1-up boxes he was guarding. For not really being a Super Mario fan, my husband did an EXCELLENT job capturing Bowser's movement (crouched and slow) and growling sounds. Hint: This game is best for older kids. We had mostly 7 and 8 year olds at the party, but there were a few younger kids, and they were FREAKED out! My 4 year old niece would not run up, even after my husband raised his mask to show her his face. She said "No!"

Supplies: Bowser costume, prize boxes (cardboard covered in tissue paper), power ups on construction paper

But what my husband didn't know, was that after all the power ups were stolen, I yelled for the kids to "ATTACK BOWSER!" and they all tackled him to the ground!! He was a great sport!

All in all, I was happy how the party came out. My only major issue (besides the fact we were having AC issues), was that the games didn't take quite as long as I we finished about 30 minutes earlier than planned! What I'd do differently: 1. add one more game, 2. add a few layers to the pinata. (I used the same # of layers as the Death Star Pinata two years ago...but they are all 2 years older and much better hitters! Two years ago all the kids got 2-3 turns to hit the pinata, but this year only half the kids got a second hit before it busted open!), 3. some of the kids were *cheating* and grabbing multiple power ups during the Bowser game. I would station one adult to help manage the stop/go aspect of the game and one adult to collect the stolen power ups before the kids could re-run to grab one, making it more fair for the other kids that were following the one-power up rules given.

4:30-6:30 Naptime!
Clean up can wait! This momma took a long nap!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Minecraft 7th Birthday Party Mod.

While preparing for my boys' 8th birthday party coming up in less than two weeks, I started reminiscing about their past parties, and I realized that I posted the details on their Star Wars themed 6th Birthday Party, but I never posted about their Minecraft 7th Birthday Party Mod.

First, I made some invitations in photoshop:

Then I made a list of Minecraft themed snacks which I laid out on a snack table covered in a fake-grass tablecloth (Party City) and decorated with paper figurines from the animal mod (Target).
Thing 2 and the party snacks!
The cake was super easy to make with homemade marshmallow fondant

Blue jello jigglers. These went FAST! I should have made 3x as much!
Twizzlers wrapped with brown fondant

Then I came up with an Agenda:

2:00-2:15 - Make your own Minecraft skin

Just like in the game, each child made their own individual 8-bit character

Supplies: Cardboard w/ tongue depressors, color cardboard squares, glue, scissors

2:15-2:45 Pin the tail on the pig
I made the Pin the tail on the pig poster in photoshop and then because I work at a university, I printed it off at the university library for $4. But Kinkos also prints posters like these for pretty inexpensive.

Supplies: Printed pig poster, pink/red construction paper pig tails with 2-sided tape, Creeper cardboard head with covered eye holes.

2:45-3:15 Scavenger Hunt
I made sure to talk with my surrounding neighbors first, to get their permission to use their lawns as the different "Layers" that the ores would be hidden in. Then right before the party, I went and hid brown paper sacks with the ores and the clues. On each paper sack I had a picture of them ore inside, and a poem with a clue to the next one. I went in order of the ores by layer (Coal>Iron>Gold>Redstone>Lapiz Lazuli>Emerald>Diamond>Nether Quartz).

Supplies: ores (I used "pirate gems" I found on amazon and rocks painted black for "coal" and gold), a "map" of the layers (my neighbor's houses), brown paper bags with clues on them (forgot to take a picture!), and brown paper bags for each kid to gather their ores.

3:15-3:30 Kill the Creeper
Creeper pinatas are easy to just cover a brown cardboard box with crepe paper! Much easier than having to paper maiche an object!

Supplies: Creeper pinata filled with candy, bat/stick, Steve cardboard head with eyes covered

3:30-3:45 Cake time!
Birthday boys!

3:45-4:00 Presents!

The boys were very excited about their torches from Grandma