Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How I Made a Baby Gate that Wasn't Hideously Ugly

Very little time passed after I saw the two lines on the pregnancy test before I thought, "We need a gate for the stairs!"  The presence of a certain weiner dog who likes to sneak upstairs and pee on Mattie's piles of clothes on the floor only confirmed that thought.

But I hate the typical baby gates you find in stores because not only are they ugly, they are often frustrating to use.  So I started thinking about a gate we would actually like and actually use. It took me a year to come up with the design, and the ideas REALLY jelled when I stepped out to the garage for a second and came back to find Whimsy standing at the top of the stairs with a proud grin on her little face.

Here's how I did it:

before painting and attaching 
I bought two unfinished wooden picture frames from Hobby Lobby. These come without glass and I managed to find them on a day when they were on sale, half off.  ($18 total)

I then decided to use radiator screen which comes in a about a 3 x 4 foot sheet at Lowes.  This was the most expensive part ($28), but I like the way it looks, and even when Whimsy is bigger, we still need the deterrent for the dog, so we'd be living with it a long time.  I also had to buy tin snips to cut this, but I knew I would use them again in other projects.  ($10)

I also got a strip of wood, about 1/2 inch thick and 3.5 inches wide from the lumber aisle.  ($2.50 each) These are pre-cut in smaller, crafting sizes.  I got several sizes, thinking I might need to reinforce the back of the tin sheets, but they turned out to be unnecessary.  Just one strip was used in the final project to attach the whole thing to the wall.  I had a hook and eye closure in my junk drawer from some other project.

Lastly, I needed two piano hinges.  I knew I wanted the gate to fold and fit behind the narrow wall beside our stairway.  ($5 each)

The frames proved to be too large to use side by side, so I cut one down using a miter box and saw.  I was able to simply hammer the corner brackets back in to hold the corner in place like the original corner of the frame.  I then cut the metal sheeting to fit inside and stapled it in place.  It would have been easier if I had painted the frames first.

Figuring out how the hinges should fold took a while, but I eventually got them where I wanted them.  The only thing I didn't like was the possibility of Whimsy's fingers getting pinched as the hinges folded flat in the open position.  I used a small strip of molding and glued it with my trusty E6000 over the edge, covering the seam to keep her fingers out of it.

I attached one hinge to connect to the strip of wood that attached to the wall on the side of the stairs with the spindles and railing.  I painted it white to blend in with the wall.  The next  hinge attached the two frames together.

Lastly, I used a hook and eye to close it. I wish I could have attached it to the back of the gate, but the studs in the wall did not line up quite right.  It's not a perfect closure, but it is high enough that Whimsy can't reach it just yet.

And this is why we are all very good about keeping the gate closed!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Stitch Fix #9

I've been participating with a Stitch fix group on Facebook, and by participate, I mean: I look at the pictures of other things people have gotten.  I have learned that you can sneak a peek at what you are getting as soon as you get the tracking information.  I decided that I like being surprised though, and I did NOT look ahead of time, but I thought you, dear reader, might like to know about this little trick.  Also, looking at the group pictures makes it really obvious that my stylist really does work hard. Her choices for me obviously take into account my many quirks, preferences and hang-ups!

I'm not feeling nearly as many holes in my wardrobe these days, so I mentioned to my stylist that I have two events coming up:  An Art opening at Heartwood Gallery on August 22 and our 19th anniversary.  I actually told her it was our 18th because I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that it's almost 20 years that we've been married and that seems impossible.  I mean, we're just kids! We have an infant!  And, oh yeah... a nearly 16 year old...

Donna Morgan Ashlyn Dress

This is the first thing I put on from the box.  I would never in a million years pick this dress off the rack for myself.  But when I put it on, I felt amazing. The way it drapes and the pattern really keep the eye from settling on any problem areas. It's comfortable and easy to move in, and it would be appropriate for so many occasions, not just date night.  This is a clear winner. 

Papermoon Shepherd Crochet Dress

When I saw this dress, I loved it, but I was afraid it would be too small on me.  A knit lining makes it very forgiving and I really love it.  I can see it styled in so many ways and I tried out several right away.  Too bad it is summer in Arkansas so even in air conditioning, it is sweltering hot.  I don't think the beads of sweat dripping off my nose really sell the look,  so you don't get to see it with the dark tights and boots I tried it with.  But I will show it with the inevitable cardigan...because I will probably never get rid of my inner librarian.  

Sweet Rain Rochford Button Down Blouse
This is such a pretty top and a floral I can live with!  My husband took one look at it and said, "That is so you!" I don't really need more tops at this point, but maybe just this last one....until winter!

Kut from the Kloth Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean

I was surprised by another pair of jeans, but these are a clear win.  I like the wash, the cut and the fit.   The only thing that has be concerned now is that I seem to be a bit between sizes. These felt great the first time I put them on, but then felt a little big the next time I put them on.  So it might be time to size down, but I'm not sure.  I kind of wish I had both sizes to compare at this point. 

Market and Spruce Emma Maxi Skirt
I also mentioned to my stylist that I needed some more bottoms: skirts, shorts, etc.  So she sent this maxi skirt.  I'd never tried a maxi skirt before and I was definitely game for it. It fits and it is really well made, but I realized right away that I do NOT like maxi skirts on me.  All I see is fundamentalist modesty style. This is a look that has too much emotional baggage for me. I do enjoy wearing skirts for the freedom of movement; I walk fast and take big steps but this was just too much fabric around my legs.  I kept it because the discount on buying all five items more than paid for it, but I would like to sell this piece ($45 dollars with shipping).  I can also see in the pictures that brighter colors can be good on me, but I don't think I like cobalt blue; it's just too close to purple for me.  So add that to the list of quirks, I guess!

Hooray for Amanda! Hooray for Stitch Fix!  Try it out and use my code: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4519894

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Stitch Fix #8 Review

My 8th fix was scheduled to arrive while I was visiting my parents.  I just changed the shipping address to theirs, and my Uncle Phil delivered it with his usual rural route delivery.  No fuss, no muss.  I packed a couple outfits fewer knowing I might get some new things I would keep and I did!

Papermoon Violeta Scallop Detail Blouse

First off, I was delighted with the sleeveless black top.  The design is clean and interesting. Black is always my favorite color and the weight of this fabric is nice and light with no need for a cami underneath. This is very me.  Unlike some of my other Stitch-fix tops, it does not feel precious.  I will be curious how it wears as the edges are unfinished.  Soon, I will do an overview of how these clothes have held up to actual wear.

Just Black - Adorra Skinny Jean

 Jeans. Jeans that fit. Jeans that I can wear with anything. Jeans that don't sag. Jeans that are long enough. Jeans that can be rolled up.  Jeans that are the right color blue. Jeans that aren't too heavy for summer. Jeans, for the love.  THANK YOU AMANDA!  Do you have any idea how many things I can now wear the way I wear things now that I have a functional pair of jeans?  I wore them about 6 times at my parent's house and then I got home and washed them and look how great they look!  The fabric blend is excellent.  Sometimes a stretch skinny jean feels so plastic-y, you start sweating before you get them on.  These breathe. Wonderful, I tell you. I feel like a new person.

En Creme Tully lace Black Cardigan

Up next, this little ecru cardigan for the win.  I like the boho-vintage vibe of this piece. I like that I can throw it on with anything and it just works.  I wore it over a boring Old Navy tank top last night and didn't feel over-exposed.  It flaps a little and catches the breeze, so it's not too hot. I could wear it over my swimsuit for a cover-up if need be.  I loved wearing it with the jeans and a simple top.  I asked for a kimono-type wrap, but I think I like this just as well.

Collective Concepts Andres Split Back Blouse

This botanical print top is interesting in the back and I generally like the color combination, but it has a tendency to slip forward and make little flaps appear at my hips.  I've worn it several times and I like that it is light and airy and not sheer.  However,  I keep asking for floral and I keep getting botanical.  These tropical prints feel super Granny-in-Florida to me and I don't love them.  I just don't relate to these patterns at all.  Send me something with flowers I grow in my own garden: roses, daisies, zinnias, lilies, etc.  Tropical prints are just not me.  Unless someone wants to send me to Hawaii....

Mavi Alena Collared Button Down Top

Finally, this simple sleeveless button front shirt in a denim-like chambray.  This is more than I have ever spent on a shirt in my life; it borders on the absurd, really.  The cut and color are unremarkable, though classic.  On the plus side, though it fits me snugly, it is slimming and well made.  I even dare to photograph it from the open side of the placard, so you can see that the snaps are strong and placed intelligently so I can wear it without concern of a wardrobe malfunction.  As my career as an on-demand drink station comes to end in the coming months, this will be a little more practical for me.

In hindsight, it might have made better sense for me to keep the first three pieces and return the last two, but I was on vacation with a badly injured eye and I might not have been thinking very strategically.  As it stands, I have worn all of the pieces more than once except the sleeveless button front top.

 I don't miss shopping.  I still love Stitch Fix. It's not perfect, but when I think of all the frustration I did not have to face looking for jeans...it is totally worth it!  If you decide to try it, please use my referral code! https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4519894