Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Barn Door Project

Our upstairs bathrooms have very inconvenient doors, the ensuite because we renovated and the door if not completely shut tends to interact with the shower door, aggravating!
The family bath is even less convenient, it is arranged so that in order to reach the shower or toilet one must first enter all the way into the room and shut the door, very annoying!
For some time I have noticed the use of barn doors in renovation shows on HGTV etc, and thought this would be an excellent solution, but upon pricing them it appeared the door and hardware could run up to $1500, too rich for my blood!
An internet search for DIY barn doors turned up a plethora of information from clever do-it-yourself-ers who like us were not prepared to pay the price for someone else to do it. Anyway, I put it on the "back burner" until a couple of weeks ago I was wandering through Home Depot in Montrose, Colorado on an errand for DH when I stopped and stared in wonder at an end-cap of this wood.
 Known by various names beetle kill pine, blue stain pine and others it is the result of infestation of a tiny pine bark beetle which burrows under the bark.
 It then emits a blue fungus which acts as a pheromone to call other beetles "come lay your eggs here it's a good place". The larvae feed off the blue fungus and the tree dies.
 This infestation has ravaged pine forests in western Canada, Montana, Colorado and Arizona. The trees can be treated annually to protect them but it is an expensive labor intensive process and the infestation rate has rapidly outpaced efforts to contain it. Apparently trees stressed by low water supply, [low rainfall and snow deposits] are most vulnerable.  The result is this beautifully stained wood that makes lovely furniture, cabinets, ceilings etc and is becoming quite sought after, way to recycle right? When life gives you pine bark beetles make furniture!
I took pics with my phone and showed them to DH along with an explanation of my plan for the barn doors- he will tell you I am always thinking up new ways to keep him busy!
 Fortunately he was on board with the idea so after church in Montrose the following Sunday we went to Home Depot and I carefully chose seventeen of the six inch by eight foot tongue and groove planks, they were wrapped and loaded on top of the Avalanche and hauled back to Arizona! Total price for the wood for two doors was about $80.
We arranged seven each for the two doors moving the different pieces around until we had a pleasing arrangement. The tongue on the right side and groove on the left of each door had to be "ripped" to give a smooth edge then cut to the length we need. We decided to put cross pieces only top and bottom to provide integrity and not add the traditional diagonals for a more rustic effect, I wanted to keep it simple, a bit more modern looking.
 After glueing and attaching the carriage bolts a light sanding was all that was needed before sealing. Here the doors are laid backside up where there are many more grooves and the cross pieces do not show.
On the advice of Angela in the paint department at our HD here in Phx, we chose this product to finish the doors. It came highly recommended and after using it we would strongly recommend it ourselves, it goes on far nicer and easier, dries super fast and gives a soft satin finish. We used one and a half cans for two coats, cost about $30.
One coat done, wait two hours, a very light sanding and the second coat goes on.
We co-painted, Walt did one end and I the other and we met in the middle, it was fast! This product is self leveling and consequently brush strokes are not evident, nice because neither of us are great painters! 
Both sides completed, time for the hardware which can run $500, but cost us less than $100 for each door from Amazon, shipping included. 
It is nicely made, stainless steel though there are other options, heavy weight nothing flimsy. We purchased this latch for the hall bathroom door also from Amazon, $7, we probably won't bother with a latch for the ensuite.
I think attaching the hardware is not complicated, DH seemed to have no problem with it, accurate measuring and leveling are the most difficult. He had to make a couple of minor adjustments to account for the fact that the frame for the door remains and also the baseboard so the door is not flush to the wall but to the trim.
One down one to go, we are still waiting on the hardware for the second door.
The first beautiful door is hung and I love it, great job Honey!
A close up of the track and below, the view from inside the bathroom
 And a close up of that stunning wood grain. Total cost for this project about $320 for two doors, better even than any of the DYI reports I saw online.
I did a quick and inexpensive update of this area,
painting the walls a soft sea foam green and making a new shower curtain, fabric on sale 60% off total cost under $20.
 The cabinet was sprayed with Espresso paint to give it a new look
and I am very happy with the results. Paint is the biggest bang for the least bucks and a fast way to transform any area.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Autism Speaks Arizona Walk 2015

Our family walked the 5K route this morning for Autism in support of our beautiful, clever grandson Matthew who is truly a miracle! I wrote about him in April on World Autism Awareness Day here, you can read more.
 In the past six months in first grade Matthew has made enormous progress in every aspect of life amazing his teachers, therapists and his family, daily making strides to overcome negative aspects of autism and integrating into a world full of puzzling challenges. We have seen him grow academically, socially, emotionally and in verbal skills, chattering, conversing and making friends where ever he goes, using good manners and trying to do his very best.
 So much of our "normal" lives is foreign to his thinking and a constant struggle to make sense of relationships and what is quite ordinary and simple for us. We are so proud of him and excited to see him bloom and grow in his own unique way, he is truly a blessing from God as his name explains he is "Gift of God".
 Five kilometers is a long way and he was only too happy to ride along in the cart Nanna brought towed by his big strong Uncle Andrew!
 Here we are at the finish, Aunt Lana, Uncle Andrew, Grandfather, Daddy, Yessenia Mum and Nanna Ah Kuoi on the right……...
and in this one Grandnanna [that's me] on the right!
It was a very big weekend for The Boy, yesterday we went to the Tolmachoff Farm in Glendale AZ.
First stop was the Corn Crib, where the children lay in the corn and played in it, you can see by the smile on his face how he liked it.
 He patiently waited in line for a good fifteen minutes in the hot sun, shielded mostly by Grandnanna's Aussie umbrella with SPF sun protection, for his turn to jump on the giant bouncy pillow with Yessenia Mum.
 This was an enjoyable experience even in the heat of an AZ. Fall day.
 Another long wait [and not one word of complaint from our boy] to visit the goats in the petting zoo.
 I explained that the big fat white goat was lying down resting because she is expecting triplets, three baby goats, Matthew seemed rather awed!
 There were many expectant goats with very fat tummies and this little one got some extra love for her baby as Matthew gently petted her belly!
He is very interested in science, what makes things work,
and this fascinated him as he tried to figure out how a skeleton could be playing the banjo!
 One look at his face will tell you how weary he was as we prepared to pay for the pumpkins and leave.
He was very happy to get into the Grandfather's air-conditioned truck and rather quickly fell asleep.

Recently in my constant search for more information I have been reading three books I would recommend for anyone seeking to understand more about the puzzle that is autism.
The first is "Emergence", Dr.Temple Grandin's story of her childhood and how she thought, why she acted as she did and how very difficult it was for her to understand the world she lives in.
The next is  "An Anthropologist On Mars" by Oliver Saks, the final chapter is about Dr.Grandin and the book title is a quote from her on the way she sometimes feels.
The third book "Uniquely Human" I am only halfway through but have already learned much from Dr. Barry Prizant who wrote it. Dr. Temple Grandin has said of the book "I love his approach" and I too find much to recommend it. He sees autism not so much as a disorder but a different way of being human and his explanations for this approach make a great deal of sense.

I hope that my humble attempts to highlight autism and the amazing people who have this unique expression of humanity will help to spread the word of their struggles to reach a full life and perhaps encourage others to educate themselves and reach out to help autistics in their lives in every way possible.
I can never explain how blessed we are to have Matthew in our lives, how much he adds to our life experience and the great joy he brings.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2015

Amy's Creative Side is hosting another opportunity to show our favorite quilts.
Mine for this year in large quilts would be that which I made for son and DIL's wedding in march.
It fits their CA.King bed all the way to the floor so it's a very large quilt!
This quilt went together in just two weeks from cutting to binding, working on it all day every day. The quilting alone took a full week, and it was finished one week before the wedding!
Yessenia had seen this quilt and decided that was the style she wanted, colors and fabrics were all chosen well ahead but design of the center was not. That final decision was made after she had found the block design on Pinterest, then I had to put out an SOS to quilting friends to identify it. BJ came to the rescue pretty fast, but I still had to resize the block to make it work for me.
 The wide backing was still not wide enough so I made extra blocks to insert in the middle making the quilt reversible.

 The actual backing color is somewhere between these two pics.
 It worked out nicely that I was able to embroider the label on the top of the center panel, I prefer to do this directly onto the backing making permanent provenance.
 As I had time to spare, LOL, I then made two throw pillows to decorate the bed, they turned out very cute I think.
And with still time to spare this cute apron to present to the bride with a note that said "Here are the apron strings"!
My favorite small/wall quilt was adapted from a design by Tina Curran.
I thought it would be lovely hanging over our bed, complimenting the gold colored walls. There are a couple of ladybugs, dragon flies and butterflies as well as a little frog on a lily pad bottom left. I really enjoy this quilt, however someone else also loved it and it has been sold to a gentleman/nursery owner in Virginia Beach so now I need to make another! The flowers are already prepped and it may be a good project to take with me to Boston this Christmas.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Star Wars

Recently DIL Christa had asked me to help her with a baby quilt for her nephew due in November. Parents- to- be are Star Wars followers so theme fabrics were chosen for the quilt.
The goal in making her first quilt was to keep the construction very simple and to teach the basics of measuring,  cutting, piecing, squaring and finishing viz. binding, which when learned correctly will result in accuracy in future endeavors and avoid frustration and wonky quilts!
The fabrics are dark and babes like bright colors so the contrast red and turquoise will keep baby interested.
The backing is Minkee and no batting was needed for an Arizona quilt, batting would have added unnecessary weight and bulk. It is simply quilted with an edge to edge peacock feather to maintain a soft hand.
 Embroidery on Minkee does not yield a very nice result so the label is the red cotton Star Wars fabric.
Christa's first quilt adventure has resulted in a very cute, square flat, securely bound quilt and hopefully an encouragement to make another!
And here are the parents-to-be who are delighted with the gift.
My Sunday afternoon sewing involved finishing the Miniature Underground Railroad quilt with binding and a handwritten label.
It really is a very sweet little quilt which is not likely to ever be duplicated by yours truly!
Now I need to find the right spot to display it, the walls are closing in on me!