- Use snow to make little walls around the perimeter of your rink. These need to be about four to five inches high and nicely packed. You can also use boards, but snow works just fine and you don't have to worry about picking it up and finding a place to store it when spring comes.
- Pack down the snow within the perimeter. You can do this with the back of a shovel, or you can ask a few kids to play on it for a while. Make sure it is packed and as level as possible.
- To add the water, pick a time when the outside temperature is a few degrees below freezing. First gently run water over your rink's snow walls. Move the hose back and forth, and if you can get a gentle spray going, that's even better. If you leave the hose running in a steady stream in any one spot for too long, you'll get holes. Once the walls are wet, resist the urge to keep going. Let them freeze well overnight. The next day you can begin your rink.
- Lay down a thin layer of water. Wait a few hours or, better yet, overnight and repeat. Your rink won't look great all at once, but just keep on being patient. Remember not to put on too much water at each session and remember to bring that hose inside after each session so the water left inside doesn't freeze.
- Flood your rink for two or three or more nights. Be very sure each time that the water has frozen completely before you add more. Before long, you'll begin to see the beginnings of a real rink. Don't stop flooding and don't start skating too soon. Thicker ice will be smoother and much nicer for the kids to skate on and it will also be easier for the adults to maintain.
- Once your rink is ready, bring on the kids! Use a snow shovel or scraper to keep the snow cleared off the rink's surface and continue to flood every couple of days, more often if usage is heavy.
- If you want to get really creative, you can paint lines and designs on your rink, add a layer of ice, and keep them there all winter. Want to make your rink into a hockey rink? Or decorate it for a skating party? (Skating parties are great for kids' birthday celebrations.) Use tempera paint, which you will find in the craft section of almost any department store.
- Remember to be safe. Make sure all of the children wear proper fitting helmets when they skate. Brain injuries are not fun.
Build-a-rink kits can also be purchased in many stores, but if you've got snow, freezing temperatures, and access to a hose and water supply for flooding, these kits aren't necessary. Proper-fitting helmets, however, are essential, and in most cases, it's the law. Don't let your children step onto the ice without them
Keep yourself safe on the road with these 7 car prep tips!
1. CHECK THE BATTERY
Your vehicle's battery loses 33% of its power when the temperature dips below freezing and as much as 60% of its juice when the mercury falls below zero. So it's wise to give the battery and its charger a once-over to ensure they're performing optimally. A quick trip to your local car technician will quickly reveal whether the battery is winter-ready, or corroded and otherwise not performing well.
2. SWITCH TO WINTER WIPER BLADES AND COLD WEATHER WASHER FLUID
Windshield wipers are crucial to a clear view from the driver's seat — but a nasty winter storm makes their job many times harder. That's why you should consider investing in a pair of winter blades, which are built to withstand precipitation and freezing cold. Most winter blades are encased in a protective rubber shell that prevents ice and snow from hardening on the wiper. The going rate for a pair ranges from less than $20 to about $40, depending on size and quality.
While you're attending to windshield issues, car safety experts also suggest switching over to cold weather washer fluid, or any brand containing antifreeze.
3. STORE A SHOVEL IN THE TRUNK
You're driving down the road when your tires hit a patch of ice that sends you sliding into a snow bank. It's a gentle spinout that causes no injury or damage, but now your front tires are sunk in a heap of fresh snow. You're not going anywhere for awhile — unless you packed a shovel and have the muscle to dig yourself out. The shovel needn't be a humdinger, just something sturdy that fits in the trunk.
4. CHECK THE TIRE PRESSURE
For every 10 degree change in temperature, car tires lose a pound of pressure. That's why it's wise to make sure the pressure in all four tires is in check at the outset of the winter season. In cold weather, any pressure imbalance will be made that much worse.
5. EVALUATE THE TIRE TREAD DEPTH
Car tires in any season need a tread depth of at least 6/32-inch to get adequate traction, according to Tire Rack. If yours fall short, you're going to need to go tire shopping. Wintry road conditions necessitate even more depth than normal to help the tire grooves compress and release snow as they roll. Without sufficient tread depth, spinouts are more likely.
Should you opt for new winter tires, be sure to get a full set. Mounting winter tires on the front of a front-wheel-drive car can prompt sliding while putting winter tires only on the back of a rear-drive car will make turns more difficult.
6. SWITCH TO THINNER OIL
Cold weather thickens the engine oil, which forces the car battery to work double time to get your car running smoothly. But you can give your battery a break and prevent potential engine trouble by switching over to a thinner oil. Most vehicles are served well by a 5W-20, 5W-30, or 10W-30 oil formula, but be sure to check your owners manual for notes on compatibility. It's also wise to have the oil filter changed to maintain fluidity.
7. PACK A BLANKET
Should you get stranded on the side of a highway during a temper tantrum by Jack Frost, you'll be much less likely to run the risk of frostbite, hypothermia, or plain old cold weather discomfort if you've got a warm blanket stowed away in the trunk. While you're at it, it's not a bad idea to add a set of hand warmers, gloves, a wooly hat, a flashlight, bottled water, and a non-perishable snack to your winter weather emergency survival kit. Here's hoping you never have to use it.
You may think you know your kitchen appliances, but you might not know all the amazing things they can do if you just think outside the box.
- Your dishwasher is an ideal place to clean and sanitize baby’s toys and teething rings with no harsh chemical residue. A great idea, especially during cold and flu season.
- Your steamy dishwasher is also a great place to cook seafood! Wrap fresh fish tightly in aluminum foil with a bit of oil, spices and fresh lemon, then run through a short cycle (no soap!) and you’ll have fresh steamed fish.
- Use a pizza cutter to quickly chop fresh herbs. Simply bunch the herbs together and roll the cutter back and forth over them to get a fine chop.
- Your coffee grinder is perfect for grinding fresh spices like peppercorns, anise or cumin for big flavor.
- Grind rice in a coffee grinder to make fresh, quick rice flour for tempura recipes.
- Make a quick garlic paste by using a micro planer.
- Need to quickly shred meat? Place your meat into the bowl of your stand mixer with the regular paddle and turn it on. You’ll have evenly shredded meat in about 30 seconds!
- An immersion blender or a french press makes great whipped cream without a splattered mess or a tired arm.
- Use the hot plate on your coffee machine to toast a bagel or heat a muffin.
- Flip your toaster on its side and make quick grilled cheese sandwiches by placing a slice of bread with cheese on top into the slats and allow the toaster to broil the cheese. (HINT: Set it on the highest setting, then attend closely and pull the bread out when cheese is at desired consistency. You don’t want the bread launched out!)
- Your food processor can make homemade ice cream in minutes flat. Freeze your ice cream mix in ice cube trays, then pop into the food processor to get a quick, creamy blend.
- Your food processor is also an ideal place to make pizza dough, even better than your stand mixer or your hands. You’ll have better, more elastic dough in a shorter amount of time using the food processor.
- Preserve fresh herbs by chopping them and putting them in ice cube trays. Fill the trays with olive oil and freeze. Transfer the cubes to a freezer bag and use fresh herbs for your soups and sautés whenever you need!
- Use your pepper grinder to make fun, fresh flavors for different dishes. For example, fill it with your favorite cookies to create a fun topping for ice cream or cakes.
- Your turkey baster can be used all year long for your pancake batter. It’s less messy than your cup measurer and (bonus!) you can create fun shapes, almost like its a pen.
- Use your waffle iron to create crispy hash browns.
- Pour brownie or cake batter into your waffle iron for a quick dessert.
- Your bundt pan is a perfect roasting dish for your chicken and vegetables. Place the chicken’s cavity over the center ring, then fill the pan with your carrots and potatoes and onions. The bird will cook quickly and evenly and those savory juices will drip into the veggies!
- Your microwave is the perfect place to produce a poached egg for your eggs benedict. Crack the egg into a microwave save bowl, then add about 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar. Place a saucer over the bowl and microwave on high for one minute.
- Microwave lemons and limes for 10-15 seconds (depending on size) before juicing. The heat will help release juices.
- Use your slow cooker as a towel warmer for your Girl’s Spa Night.
- A slow cooker can also bake a fresh loaf of breadwhile you’re at work.
- Use your freezer to help restore stretched out clothing. Place stretched out sweaters or jeans in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The cold air can help to tighten the fibers and restore shape.
- Use your hard-boiled egg slicer to cut strawberries, butter, and mozzarella cheese.
- The hot water from your Keurig machine is perfect for cooking a cup of noodles.