DIY: Backyard Movie Night

The lazy summer days are over, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to enjoy the beautiful warm weather that is in front of you.  One of the best ways to connect with your kids, take in the warm weather and decompress after a hard week of school and work is an outdoor movie.  Setting up an outdoor movie screen doesn’t have to be a huge project and sure, you could hook up a television outside, but that just doesn’t have the same feel. You can put together a screen in no time, and it will probably be a great investment of time and money.  In fact, your kids will likely enjoy their movie under the stars so much that they will be begging to do it for many weeks to come. 

Materials

You will need a sheet.  Many people think that a white sheet is the way to go, but in reality, a white sheet lets in light that may conflict with the movie on the screen.  By using a dark, opaque sheet, the movie will be much easier to view. 

Frame

You can build the frame out of a number of materials, wood, PVC, your fence.  Create a structure to support all four corners of the sheet. (You can even enlist your kids to help you to engineer your own version of a movie screen.)  There are a number of inspirational sites that can get the creative juices flowing:

Of course, once your kids get this movie night idea in their head, they may be a little impatient for a building project.  No fear, there are inflatable screens for as low as $99.00 that only need an extension cord and some power. SHAZAM, your movie screen is ready!  (And, worst case scenario? Tie or staple a sheet to your existing privacy fence!)  

Projectors

As with any electronic device, there are a plethora of choices based on price, function, quality.  When looking for a projector, you want to consider a number of factors. Of course, you can just buy the $50 one at your local Walmart, but these outdoor movie nights will likely become a regular thing, and if so, you will want a projector that will stand the test of time and provide a good experience.

You will want to consider the following characteristics:

  • Lamp, Laser, or LED – Lamp bulbs will need replaced more often while LED are more expensive but will last longer. 
  • Light Output & Brightness – You will want a projector with a high light output.  A low light output will lead to a fuzzy and unclear image even in a very dark room.  The  Lumens rating will help you determine the just right projector with the right amount of light output.
  • Contrast Ratio – You will need to look at projectors that have a ratio of 1,500:1 minimally and 2,000:1 or higher for good contrast between black and whites in your movie image.
  • Pixel Density – If possible, get a projector with a pixel density of approximately 1920×1080.  You can get by with one that is 1024×768, but the higher you go the better the quality. 
  • Sound quality – This varies by user, but check out the speakers before you buy, or see if it has Bluetooth, and you can connect to your portable speaker.  Also check out the sound of the fan for your projector. Some of the models have loud fans that will compete with movie audio, so do your homework.
  • Type of screen – Share the type of screen (sheet) you have with your sales representative and ask them which projector will work the best.

According to a Tech Guru on Offers.com, the best choice is Vankyo mini project that meets the requirements and costs a whopping $89.99.  Check out his other projector reviews

Input

The projector takes the image from your dvd player, computer, etc… and projects it onto the screen; therefore, you need to determine the compatibility between the projector and your computer, a dvd player, Roku or AppleTV, and/or any other device you plan to use to play the movie.  You may need an additional HDMI cord or something else to connect and project.

Other materials:

Extension cords

Power strip

Flashlight

At last, you have your screen, your projector, your computer, your kids, and now you are ready for family outdoor movie night. Oh wait, don’t forget the popcorn, candy, a big drink, and one more thing, grab those pillows and sleeping bags, and enjoy! You are all in for a fun and memorable experience!

 

Tie Dye Ta-Da – using fruits and veggies

The Saturday morning farmer’s markets are in full gear.  The sweet summer air, the rambunctious rainstorms and warm toasty sun have nurtured a bounty of lovely vegetables and fruits for human consumption.  But guess what, they can be used for a number of other things besides filling your belly, one of them being a dye for clothing.  

There will be some decisions you need to make because there are a number of designs and of course, vegetables and fruits to choose from.  But first off, gather the materials you will need to do this cool functional project. Of course, in order to tie-dye a t-shirt you will need a shirt (duh, I know, but can’t forget the basics). It is recommended that you wash the t-shirt before dying to remove any chemicals that it was treated with to prevent stains.

Then gather: 

  • heavy duty rubber bands
  • circular objects (balls, marbles, rocks) 
  • fruits and veggies like beets, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cabbage, onion skins, the spice turmeric, and even herbs like mint or parsley (organic foods make great dyes and are good for the environment too)
  • salt
  • last but not least, vinegar

Here is a list of the fruits and veggies to help you decide which fruits and vegetables you will need.

  • Beets- fuchsia
  • Beet greens – green
  • Raspberries / strawberries – red/pink
  • Blueberries – blue
  • Green cabbage – light green
  • Red cabbage – purplish pink
  • Onion skins – yellowish brown
  • Spinach – green
  • Turmeric – yellow/orange

You will want to decide on your pattern next.  Here are a few ideas, but frankly, don’t be afraid to create your own one-of-a-kind original work of functional art!  The directions for the following designs might just get those creative juices flowing. 

Starburst

To make the circular pattern you often see in tie dye, you will put a round object in the center of your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then like the one before, add rubber bands every one to two inches all the way down to the end of the t-shirt. 

Stripes

If circles aren’t your thing, then you can make a more linear pattern by putting rubber bands in a line all the way down the shirt.  Don’t forget the sleeves. You can also achieve big stripes by tying knots all the way down the shirt. These lines will be much less uniform than if you used the rubber bands.  

Circles

To make a shirt with a number of circles you will put a round object in the center of part your shirt.  It can be a tennis ball, a rock, or even a marble. Wrap the t-shirt around the object and tightly put a rubber band around the t-shirt.  Then add more round objects all around the shirt, securing each one with a wide, heavy duty rubber band.  

Choosing your fruits and vegetables may be a tough decision.  If cost is an issue, then red cabbage and beets are a great choice.  If you have ever cut open a beet, you know that its juices are a beautiful bright fuchsia and boy does it do its job to stain things that color.  If you want a lush green instead, use spinach.

The standard formula for the special sauce that will change your bland white Hanes t-shirt into a work of art is 1/2 -1 cup chopped fruit/vegetable (depending on the intensity of color you want) for every 2 cups of water.  For a large child-sized shirt you will need approximately 8 cups of water. Then add two cups of vinegar and ½ cup of salt. These ingredients help to set the color so it doesn’t bleed and fade.

Boil your water and fruits/vegetables for approximately 1 – 2 hours to get the natural dye out of the fruit.  The longer you simmer your fruits/veggies, the more intense the color will become. Strain the water to remove the food.

It’s time to DYE! Place your fabric into containers with the dye, or add your dye to squirt bottles and squirt the dye onto the fabric directly. 

Rinse in the sink, and then run it through the rinse cycle of your washing machine.

Ta-da, your own very organic, amazing, totally terrific, most beet-ific original masterpiece that you can wear on the first day of school!