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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: fun

Seven Fun Outdoor Projects for the Last Week of Summer 

Chelsea O'Donnell

With only one week of summer left, I can imagine that parents and grandparents are pretty exhausted of ideas to keep the kids occupied before school starts. That being said, fall will be here before we know it and the weather will be cool again. So let’s make the most of our last days with some of my favorite outdoor activities that the young ones will love - and you will too. 

Plant a Wagon Herb Garden

Gardening is a great way to teach kids responsibility and it’s a lot less messy than getting a family pet. Grab an old wagon or wheelbarrow from the shed or a local garage sale and drill some holes in it. Then let the kids choose their own herbs to plant and grow. I like basil, mint, cilantro, rosemary, and thyme because they all come up quickly and offer a lot of versatility in the kitchen. 

Build a Lemonade Stand

Entrepreneurship at its finest! There is nothing more fun than helping the kids build a lemonade stand to make a few bucks for a special back-to-school treat. You can nail three pallets together to make a u-shape and then paint it your favorite color. Let the kids make the sign and the lemonade and you’re ready to start selling.

Set Up Yard Game Olympics

Here is a great idea for a group. Get everyone to help set up “Yard Game Olympics” for a friendly competition that will keep the young ones occupied for hours. From croquet to cornhole, sprinkler jumping, frisbee throwing and a good old fashioned game of HORSE - anything goes with this one. Get creative and make it fun. 

Make a S’mores Bar

Sure they are messy but nothing says summer like the gooey mix of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. In my house, we compete for the perfect golden brown marshmallow and the first one who burns theirs is out. We love creating out of the box sandwich ideas too.

Create a Mosaic

Collecting seashells and beach rocks is a popular summer past-time, but what do you do with them once they are home? You can get cement at a local hardware store and mix it according to the directions. Then spread it evenly on a planter, frame, a piece of plywood or even a birdhouse. Then firmly press in your shells or stones and get creative with fun patterns. 

Start a Compost Pile

Here’s a great one to teach kids about recycling and the environment. Choose any large container that you can drill holes into in order to get airflow. A plastic drum will work just fine. Lay a few inches of twigs and straw on the bottom. Then begin adding your compost materials. Alternate between green and brown to keep your pile healthy - green being fruit and vegetable scraps and brown being wood, leaves and garden matter. Green produces nitrogen while brown delivers carbon. Maintaining balance is the key to healthy soil. 

Build Your Own Slip-n-Slide

This was an all-time favorite when my kids were growing up. Grab a 100-foot roll of thick, clear plastic sheeting and a dozen landscaping stakes from the local hardware store. Remove any rocks or sticks from the lawn and roll out your plastic. Fasten it down with the stakes and then squirt some no-tear body wash or soap evenly down the slide. Finally, take the nozzle off the hose and position the water flow right down the middle. Now take a dive!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Bob’s Five Favorite Halloween Home Decorating Ideas

Chelsea O'Donnell

Halloween decorating can stressful and expensive, especially if left until the last minute. So, if you’re one of the busy moms, dads, or grandparents wondering what to do to “spookify” your home while enjoying some crafty time with the kids this weekend, I’ve got you covered. Here are my five favorite decorating ideas to give your house a Halloween makeover without breaking the bank. Read on:

Short on Time Jack O’ Lantern

If you’re short on time but love the idea of carving up a jack o’ lantern, try this alternative. Pick up a few pairs of Dracula teeth and some flameless LED votive candles from your local Halloween supply store. Cut the top off a small pumpkin and clean out the pulp and seeds. Then use a drill to carefully cut two small holes for eyes and a knife to cut one large oval for the mouth. Insert the votives into the small holes with the flame facing out and wedge the Dracula teeth into the larger hole.  You can even add an additional votive inside the bottom of the pumpkin so the whole thing glows. If you’re really short on time, forget the carving entirely and just cut a piece out of the pumpkin to insert the teeth. Then insert red pins or tacks for the eyes.

Gourd Totem Pole

Give some of those not so perfect and neglected gourds and pumpkins a new lease on life by creating a simple totem pole. All you’ll need is a fence post or heavy-duty garden stake, a drill with a two inch bit, and an assortment of pumpkins and gourds. Start with the biggest piece and drill a clean hole from the top to the base. Then stack by color and size to achieve your desired look. If you have some extra time and want to carve the pumpkins or gourds, you can string some white holiday lights through to give them an eery glow.

Ghostly Mirror

An entryway mirror can become positively spooky when a ghost crosses its path. To give your mirror a Halloween twist, pick up some frosted glass cling film from your local craft store. Then draw out a simple ghost shape, including two holes for the eyes and one for the mouth. Using an X-Acto knife, cut out the shape, the eyes and the mouth and affix it to your mirror, smoothing as you go. Add a few more ghosts to make it a family affair, or keep it simple with one spine-tingling silhouette.

Tin Can(dles)

Raid the recycling bin for some clean cans and give them a simple coat of black paint. While the cans are drying, use some construction paper to draw a pattern or some words, such as “Trick” and “Treat”. Once the cans are dry, tape the paper to the cans and use a drill to create the words or pattern that you’re going for. Then add a flameless LED candle to complete the look.

Paper Bats

If you have kids that love making paper snowflakes, this is even easier. All you’ll need is some black construction paper and scissors, plus you can print an online template, or draw your own. If you’re not the artistic type, I found one at MadeEveryday.com to help you out. Once you have your template, use it to draw an outline of your bat. If you’re planning on making a bunch, I recommend layering a few pieces of black construction paper at a time and folding them in half to save on time. Then once all your bats are cut out, you can use them to decorate your front door, entryway, or even place a few on your pumpkins. At night, you can illuminate them by candlelight for an extra spooky effect.

These five ideas are some of my favorites but I know there are tons more to have fun with. What are your favorite holiday decorating ideas that can keep the little ones occupied while taking it easy on the wallet? I’d love to hear from you, so send me a message on Facebook at www.facebook.com/odonnellbros. Happy Halloween!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Keep the Kids Entertained with These DIY Summer Projects

Chelsea O'Donnell

With school coming to a close, the summer conundrum for nearly every parent is how to keep the kids busy over the summer. I’m a big fan of outdoor activity and I know how important it is to make sure that children of all ages are getting adequate exercise and minimizing screen time, so with that being said, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite at-home projects to keep kids of all ages occupied with some good old fashioned hands-on fun. Thanks to This Old House for the inspiration and let’s get into it.

Build a Lemonade Stand

An old-fashioned lemonade stand is not only fun to create with the kids, it also injects some entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. Building and decorating the stand itself is an awesome outdoor art project and the pocket money earned is a great introduction into the young one's first future summer job.

Create a Game Zone

Any yard can be transformed with a little bit of imagination. Dedicate one day a week to a new game and get the kids involved in creating a theme park right in their own green space. Slip and slide, croquet, horseshoes, and badminton are easy, budget friendly options to keep the young ones active and occupied.

Plant a Mini Garden

You would be amazed by how much you can harvest in even the smallest of spaces. Crowd-pleasing herbs like mint, summer fruits like strawberries and raspberries, and even veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers are all easy to tend to and the kids love watching them as they grow.  You can even make a portable garden out of an old wheelbarrow or wagon.

Set Up a Swing

Nothing quite says summer like whooshing through a cool breeze on a homemade swing. I’m partial to a tire swing but you can make pretty much anything with a sturdy seat, some rope, and a solid tree. If you want an option for both kids and adults to share, I love a hammock, especially the ones from the brand ENO. They can be set up and taken down in less than five minutes, making them portable for taking on the road or rotating around the yard.

Spend a Night Under the Stars

Camping is a fun family activity but the packing, travel, and set-up make it more practical as a once in awhile occurrence. So why not break out the tent and sleeping bags for an evening under the stars in your own backyard? Roasting some smores and telling a few ghost stories will make it a night to remember, even if you end up sleeping in the house.

Summer is but once a year, so make this one to remember and have some fun! As a final note, I want to wish all of my fellow dads a Happy Father’s Day and a big congratulations to our local high school graduates, especially my great niece Emily Mitchell. You kids are the future of our city and we can’t wait to see what big things will come from you. Enjoy this special time in your lives and have a great summer.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.