Thursday, March 28, 2013

We Hung Up a Picture, and I'm Writing a Whole Post About It

....but I'm going to make it SUPER fascinating. Well. Anyway, I have some stuff to say about it.

Before we get into all that, I should mention that next week is Dave's spring break which means.....BIG PROJECTS! I hope. I have two big projects planned, at any rate. And maybe some small and medium sized ones, too. Also, we should do something fun with the kids. But when I asked them what they wanted to do, they just came up with stuff we do all the time anyway, like go to Menchies and plant stuff in the garden. ("Practice piano," said Gus, who's kind of a goody goody). We might just sneak in something even more exciting than a trip to Menchies, though, if things go according to plan.

I thought that right about now was a good time to update our master bedroom progress, since finishing it is on our big list of goals for the year. It's a relatively small project, since we're mostly just adding art/accessories and keeping all the same furniture, but it's been slow going in there so far. We did add the bird pictures above the bed, but that was about it until yesterday.

So! Today! Lots of words about one picture and a to-do list.

I bought this print at the thrift store awhile back (actually on that same Friday night trip when I seem to have bought the whole damn store, because I feel like every post lately mentions something I bought then).

It was $6.99 minus 20% (I had a coupon). The frame is nothing special--white plastic--but I thought it would go well in the room. And I liked the print, though the mat was a for my tastes. So I brought it home, leaned it against the wall, and resolved to get a new mat for it.

In the meantime, I did a bit of research, thanks to the very legible signature. I'm pretty sure that the artist is Eddie Minnis. He has a website. So my print (I had thought it might be an original until I took it out to put the new mat in and noticed the "printed in the USA" mark on it) is dated 1975, but he's still around and still painting now. He sounds like an interesting guy; he lives in the Bahamas, and paints, makes calypso music, and sells real estate. Busy! Anyway, so it's fun to know a little something about my thrift store print.

I wanted a gray mat, but Hobby Lobby didn't have one in the right size, so I got a white one (a little over $2 once I used a 40% off coupon). Now I'm glad they didn't have gray, because I'm very pleased with the white. Here it is:

And here's a little more context:

Oh! Also we hung up curtains. Please ignore how long they are. We will hem them soon. Also please ignore the curtain rod; we'll change it out for one that matches soon, too.

The to-do list:
*Hang some stuff on the other side of the window
*more pillows for bed
*lamps on bedside tables
*baskets for bedside tables
*pretty stuff on dresser
*exciting wall hanging idea

So close! We should be all finished right around the time Abe's ready to move out and we have to figure out what to do with the other side of the room all over again.

Linking with:
It's the Little Things at Thrifty Decor Chick

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

DIY Baby and Dog Gate Instructions

Special guest blogger today! Dave! The baby gate he made a few months ago is one of my most viewed and most pinned posts. Sadly, when people view it, they see some cruddy pictures of the gate real information about how to make it. We've been meaning to get the how to make it post up for forever now. The other day someone finally commented on the post to ASK how to make it, and that was, it turns out, just the motivation Dave needed to make some pretty diagrams and write it up. So here you go!

Many moons ago, Gretchen posted about a baby gate that I made to keep dogs (mostly Gable) out of the kitchen.  You can read about it here.

Every couple weeks, she asks me when I'm going to write out the instructions on how I built it.  But because I never really considered it complete, and because I'm a big procrastinator, it hasn't gotten done until now.  It's been 95% complete since October, but the hook and eye latch we bought to keep it locked never really worked.  Any toddler would be able to shake the gate with his tiny fists and pop the hook out of the eye.  For that matter, any moderately curious or determined dog could do the same.  Fiesta the Beagle is one such dog.  Fortunately, Gable the Dopey is not.  While he's a big enough problem dog to require us to build a specialty gate to keep him out of the kitchen, he's a dog of routine and appreciates having his own sun room retreat during eating times.  But with a new baby in the house, I knew we would need something a little more secure in the future, so I finally found a suitable latching device.  So now I can explain the whole process.  Lucky you!

So the reason we needed a custom-built gate is because the doorway is crazy narrow, specifically 26.25 inches.  It was formerly part of the kitchen bay window, but was opened up to a do-it-yourself addition of a sunroom by some previous owner.  Since no commercially available gates come in sizes so tiny, I set to work on plans of my own.  The Home Depot had these super cheap untreated 2x2 pine posts - so I bought enough of these to make the following gate:

So in case you don't know, lumber measurements don't actually match their name.  If you buy a 2x2 post, you'd think that you're getting 2 inch by 2 inch posts.  Nope.  It's actually 1.5 inch by 1.5 inch posts.  That means that the skinny dimension of each of those rectangles is 1.5 inches, in case you're keeping track.

The vertical dark gray 2x2s are 35 inches long.  This is the height of the gate and is completely customize-able.  I think I picked that height because it meant I had minimal leftover wood.  It's pretty tall for a gate, but Gable is a pretty big dog, so it works out.  The horizontal light grays are 22.25 inches long.  Add the 1.5 inches on each side for the vertical posts and you get a total gate width of 25.25 inches.  "But Dave, you said the doorway is 26.25 inches wide.  Why is the gate 1 inch too narrow?"  More on that in a moment.  Since the vertical brown 2x2s are contained within the horizontal posts, they needed to be 3 inches shorter than the exterior vertical dark grays, so they come in at 32 inches a piece.

After careful measuring, remeasuring, conferring with Gretchen, and measuring again, I sliced up the posts using the Skil saw and sanded all the pieces with the power sander.  I used fourteen 2-inch deck screws to attach all the pieces together.  I was either smart enough or made enough mistakes in the past to know that if predrilling was important to avoid splitting such narrow pieces of wood.  So each light gray post got five screw holes and each dark gray post got two.  If I were smarter or had made more mistakes in the past, I would have used wood glue as well.  While the screws were holding the posts in place, they made for a nice point of rotation for each of the brown posts.  Instead of taking everything apart to add the glue, I decided to use some finishing nails hammered at 45 degrees to create more points of connection between the light gray and brown.  While that worked OK, the hammering jarred the alignment off on some of the posts.  So you can feel the not-flush adjoining on some of the posts.  It bothers me literally every day of my life.

Now that the gate was complete, I had to attach it to the doorway.  I didn't want the hinge screws to go directly into the drywall (there is no wooden door frame as there was never a door there) because I didn't think that would hold the test of time and dogs and boys.  So instead, I used some more wood - this time 1x2 (so in actuality 0.75 inches by 1.5 inches) - cut to the length of the gate height.  More predrilling and deck screws attaching this new piece to the exact middle of the 6 inch wide drywall, and I was ready to attach the two hinges into nice sturdy wood.  This is, by the way, where the extra 1 inch of width came from.  The 0.75 for the wood, and the rest for the hinges and for a little leeway on the other side of the gate.

Speaking of the other side of the gate, there needed to be some sort of door stop to prevent the gate from getting pulled past where the hinges and hinge screws wanted to go.  So I used another 1x2 board and attached it to the other side of the doorway.  This time, it wasn't exactly in the middle because I wanted to allow the gate to close flush with the first 1x2.  Maybe this diagram can explain better than words.

This is an areal view - the light and dark grays are the top of the gate (color coded!) and the green and purple pieces are the hinge board and the door stop respectively.  While the first diagram is to scale, I had to shorten the width of the gate in this one in order to show the relevant details without making a crazy long image.  If this diagram really were to scale, the doorway would be a little more than one foot wide, which is just crazy.  In real life, the doorway is a little more than TWO feet wide.

So all of this worked great, except for the previously mentioned battle with the hook and eye.  We tried various configurations and angles to try to make it more secure without much success.  It got to the point where the hole the hook screwed into was so stripped that we would routinely find the hook lying somewhere on the floor.  In fact, I looked for the hook just today and was unable to find it.  What good timing that I finally bought a latch that will work!

Old system:

The new latch:

The new latch installed!

This should work great for two significant reasons.  One, the "hook" part goes deep into the "eye" part, so it won't jiggle out with excessive toddler fists or beagle paws.  Two, each piece is attached by four screws into wood (the gate for the hook, the doorstop for the eye).  This should really stay put.  Oh, it's worth noting that my previously mentioned smarts and/or experience took a hiatus when I screwed this latch into place.  I did not predrill screw holes and there are now small cracks in the wood that I hope will stay small.  This will likely bother me literally every single day for many years to come ... or until the gate breaks.

Linking with:
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Tutorials and Tips at Home Stories A to Z
Stone Gable's Tutorials, Tips, and Tidbits
Hookin' Up With House of Hepworths
The Inspiration Gallery
The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday
Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party
Monday Funday

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Week Via Instagram

Early last week we had a fun adventure hanging out in the basement for spring's first tornado warning (one of the reasons the thought of buying a house without a basement made me very nervous when we were looking. Word is this house was actually hit by a tornado a few years back. I hope that means the odds have been reset and it will be hundreds of years before they creep up on us again). I would like to note for the record that starting the week with a tornado warning and ending it with snow flurries=not fair. Bad weather! Go away!:

But the main event for the week was Nana and Grandpa's visit (Dave's parents). It was their first time meeting Abe (their SIXTH grandson. We're not the only ones who don't know how to make girls):

It was a short visit, but it was action packed, as they not only got to meet our brand new human, but they saw Gus' Iago performance:

Here Gus is, hanging out backstage with the OTHER Iago (they each do half of the shows and are part of the ensemble for the other ones):

We went out to eat at Lucky's--a burger place near us. They have a heated porch where you can eat with your dog. We have yet to bring The Beagle (our only dog who is unobtrusive enough for public dining), but we need to do that soon:

DIY Industrial Curtain Rods and No-sew Curtains: An Ari's Room Update

Back in the old days, like the day before yesterday, the curtains in Ari's room looked like this:

The colors were nice in there, but I wasn't crazy about the cafe length thing, and they weren't in the best condition thanks to some naughty kitties (he's had them for quite awhile--they were around for a few years at the old house, too). Plus, I mean, we're redoing everything else, so why not the curtains, right? Sure. I've mentioned my tendency to get a little carried away, yes? Or maybe you've just noticed it on your own. Dave has.

I found some gray canvas at for $7.98 a yard and bought enough for 4 panels. I was surprised by how light (in color) it was when it got here, although when I go back and look at the picture on my monitor, it looks pretty accurate. So. There you go. Don't order the fabric and expect it to get darker in the mail, like I did!

I'm not unhappy with the color; it's just a little different than what I pictured. I found a coupon code, and shipping was free on orders over $35, so I spent $36.28, including tax, on 5 yards of fabric. It's a nice, heavy weight, by the way, and seems to do a pretty good job of blocking some light.

So the problem with ordering fabric and making no-sew curtains is that you have to make a terrible choice between just cutting down the middle and making two pretty skimpy panels or using the whole width of the fabric for each panel and spending twice as much on fabric. Both times (here and in Abe's nursery) I've opted to go cheap. I think it's fine for a kid bedroom, but I suspect it would drive me crazy in a more formal, public room (like my curtainless dining room, particularly because the window mouldings are a lot wider in there). The panels are wide enough to cover the windows, but they're stretched pretty much all the way out when they do. 

There's no shortage of tutorials on no-sew curtains online (I used this one from Young House Love as my primary guide when I made my first set). It's also fairly self-explanatory (you cut out your panels, then you take your heavy duty Heat n'Bond, and you make a big ol' hemmed rectangle. Times 4 if you have 2 windows to cover). So I'll spare you all the details of the whole curtain making process.

I intended for the curtain rods to be the main stars here, anyway. 

I found these West Elm knock-off curtain rods at Lovely, Etc.

....and I knew this was exactly what I wanted. You can head over there to get a very helpful list of exactly what you need to buy at Home Depot or some such place. I didn't save my receipt, but Carrie says each curtain rod costs $23 to make, and that sounds about right to me. By far the most expensive parts are those floor flanges. But they're also the coolest looking part, so I guess that makes sense. That's how they price plumbing supplies, right? By how cool they look? 

The only drawback to these rods (over spending $90 or so for the West Elm version) is that they're not adjustable, and you can't take them down easily. Our curtains are on clips, though, so we can take them down to wash them (Dave: when's the last time we washed curtains? Me: but we know we should).

Let's see....other things that popped up: They sell the conduit in 5 and 10 foot sections. It's a little more cost effective to buy the 10 foot (it's actually a lot more cost effective, as a percentage, but the stuff is so cheap to start with that it's not enough to worry about), but we decided to buy the 5 foot so we wouldn't have to cut it. Only then we got home and realized that one of Ari's windows is so close to the wall that 5 foot rods wouldn't work at all. So we did have to cut it. But! It turns out we own a pipe-cutter. Who knew? Dave knew, but he didn't think he'd be able to find it. But then he did. So that was cool, because I guess that's probably easier than a hacksaw would have been and also he didn't know where the hacksaw was.

So, put all the pieces together and attach them to the wall. Make sure you put your clips on before you attach the second end of the pipe.

Then I hung the curtains up, fought with the backlighting to get a decent picture, and swore to paint every room in the house white in the future to facilitate photography.

I think the picture up top with the words on it probably give the most accurate representation of the wall and curtain color (and has that big ol' loose thread in it that I noticed too late). But here are my other attempts:

This one's pretty good, since it doesn't have the window in it:

But if you want to see the entire length of the curtains, you have to pick between all natural light (from behind the curtains) and then brightening the hell out of them when you edit:

Or turning on the ugly flourescent overhead bulbs and having everything look kind of yellow and weird. And by "you" have to, I mean I have to, because I don't really know what I'm doing. Perhaps someone has a backlit curtains in a room with dark walls photography tutorial to offer me?

We're getting kind of close to finished in here! Let me make a list:

*make headboard
*move bigger bed in (oh, this is new! he wants a bigger bed. We have a rarely used queen size bed in the guest room. So we made a deal with him that he can have that bed, but he'll have to give up his room and sleep elsewhere on an air mattress when we need a guest bed).
*buy lamps and duvet cover at Ikea
*hang stuff on walls
*wall hanging project #1
*wall hanging project #2
*talk Ari into letting me change out the curtain in front of his closet to something less...shiny

Linking with:
Sunday Showcase Party at Under the Table and Dreaming
Tutorials and Tips at Home Stories A to Z
Stone Gable's Tutorials, Tips, and Tidbits
Hookin' Up With House of Hepworths
The Inspiration Gallery
The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday
Tatertots and Jello Weekend Wrap-Up Party
Monday Funday

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Abe at Two Months + Milo's March Pics

Abe turned two months old on Sunday, and I finally got a chance to finish editing the pictures from his two month photo shoot and write this post. I'm loving the pictures I got this time. He's making so many different expressions now, and his improved head control offers up a whole new world of possibilities for poses. And check it out--am I fooling myself or does that hair up there look just a little bit red? Probably I'm fooling myself; I think I've convinced myself that every baby except Milo had red hair at some point or another.

My favorite of Abe's new "likes" this month is definitely the bedtime one. We started putting some effort into getting a bedtime routine going, and, astonishingly, he's totally into it. It only took a week or so before we noticed him getting really tired a few minutes before bedtime (which is around 7:30 now, earlier than I had dared to hope for yet), and now he passes out pretty quickly once we do the bath, stories, and nursing thing. I remember having to walk the room with Gus in a sling for forever to get him to sleep, so this is very nice indeed. How long he stays asleep before he wants to eat again is highly variable, but it's usually at least 4-5 hours, and has been as long as 8 (!). Naps, on the other hand, remain irregular. And discouragingly short. And on me. But one thing at a time!

Turning two months old seemed to change him into a more grown-up baby overnight. He's less moody, more smiley, and more interactive the past few days. In short, he's a lot of fun.

Here are some outtakes:

It's hard to get a focused picture of him smiling, as he tends to be moving around a lot and kicking when he's happy. But I keep trying:

Fat rolls getting more pronounced!

This month's seal photo:

And, yeah, the on his tummy ones were my favorite. I couldn't stop taking them.

And it was Milo's turn for big kid pictures. I was struck when I was editing them by how OLD he looks. He's not quite 10...but it looks like he's about to bust out with a mustache or something in the last picture:

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Who needs money when you have plywood and a jigsaw?

You probably know, because I love it so much and won't shut up about it, that we made a big whale out of plywood for Abe's nursery:

Last week a couple of fabulous plywood wall hanging projects popped up....which is making me wonder: why isn't EVERYONE making big wall hangings out of plywood? 

Seriously, it's cheap, it's easy, it makes a big impact. How else are you going to get something HUGE for your wall for $10? Yet when I went to search, I really couldn't find that many projects out there. But I'm calling it now: once word gets out, DIY plywood wall hangings will be all the rage. Plywood will be the next chevron. 

It's not for everyone (or at least not for every room); I'm not sure I've seen any plywood projects that I really love that I wouldn't describe as "whimsical" you need to be going for a certain look for it to work. But I, for one, can always use more whimsy. 

Emma at BrokeAssHome, just a couple of months after making a cool plywood clock, is back at the jigsaw with another project:

It's a fabulous, ombre painted, beanstalk-y thing! 

Click on the link for the details on painting the ombre.

And then I saw this big ol' shamrock at HoneyBear Lane:

This got me pretty excited because it opened up a world of seasonal decorating possibilities. A rabbit for Easter! A Turkey for Thanksgiving! A heart embellished with something or other for Valentine's Day! A, umm, Christmas tree for Christmas? I'm not as thrilled about that one; there's probably something better.

Because, the thing is, it would look a little silly to have TOO many big plywood wall hangings around; this way you can make tons of them and just switch them out seasonally. 

So, armed with this inspiration, I think we should all go forth and make things out of plywood! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Week Via Instagram

On Monday, everything was going fine. We did math:

The kids had a friend over and played outside for a long time. Then the rain started. In this picture, you can see that it is a rainy day and also that our whole neighborhood is filled with other boxy colonials. I think there are maybe 3 that aren't brick-front (there are, to be fair, only something like 60 houses in the subdivision:

But then, on Tuesday, Ari started feeling not so good. And things went downhill from there:

The important thing about being sick is to make sure it doesn't slow you down too much; you have to keep taking pictures of your cute baby:

Ari, August, and I were pretty well knocked out for the rest of the week; Dave, Milo, and Abe had a few mild symptoms, but escaped the worst of it. Everyone watched about 40 episodes of Mythbusters, by my count. We learned that it is "plausible" that talking to/playing music for your plants helps them grow faster. Gus was at his most miserable on Friday and had to miss opening night of his play, Aladdin.

He made the Saturday and Sunday performances, but he was still feeling pretty run down. We're hoping he'll be better off for next weekend. He's Iago, so there's a lot of squawking involved that's hard to do with a cough and a sore throat:

You can only see a little bit of him in this picture....he's on the far right, in red, behind the girl with the big thing on her head.

By Saturday morning, everyone was at least able to make it off the couch for a game of Monopoly:

And to help out a lot with the garden bed making:

Coughs are lingering, but everyone is feeling pretty good now. Hoping for a healthier week this week!