Family Goal Leaf 2016

Build2016
Back in 2013 I started a tradition. Every year our family comes up with a word of the year. Something to strive for, something to keep in mind as a goal to work towards together, some value we want to focus on as we go through the year. And then I take that word and I make an embroidered leaf ornament. In my minds eye I can see years from now when we have so many they decorate a little tree. A family tree full of family goals.

Normally I make this ornament in January. Normally this is the first project I work on after all the Christmas hubbub dies down. But I think we’ve all seen that this year has not been a normal year. So here we are, nearly 2/3 of the way through the year, and I’ve finally finished it. I came pretty close to lapping myself, but I finished it.

Family Goal Leaf
Our word for this year is Build. And I guess it’s appropriate, because I’ve been so busy building I didn’t have time to make the leaf. I’m getting SO CLOSE to being able to show off all my work behind the scenes. SO CLOSE. I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a media startup, but we’re almost ready to start sharing the media we’ve been starting and I can’t wait. This year has changed everything for us and if I live through it, it’s possible that all my dreams will come true.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How to make an Upholstered Bedframe

Upholstered Bedframe

My bedroom makeover project has been finished for a while now, but with all of the horrors of the last couple of years, I couldn’t do the work to share it. There’s a tremendous amount of work to pull together a decent tutorial with video, and seeing how I’ve been pingponging between fertility procedures driving me to the mental hospital to surgeries for my baby and then more fertility procedures that ended badly and more surgeries for my baby, there has been no brainspace available for things like describing furniture builds. But now that I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet back underneath me (BRB gotta find some wood to knock), I can finally commit to sharing the big bedroom makeover I’ve been wanting to get to for over a year. I have A LOT of projects to share for this bedroom makeover, and I am THRILLED with the result. So buckle up, because I have tons and tons of ideas for you. Starting today with the centerpieces of any bedroom, the bedframe.

I wanted this room to be a kind of masculine take on a feminine bedroom. An androgynous bedroom. Something peaceful and restful and beautiful, that actually looked like it didn’t just belong to one or the other of us. I wanted to blend our styles. So if I was going to do something as soft as an upholstered bedframe, I wanted to do it in a fabric that would read masculine. So I bought myself 100 yards of suiting material and decided to make myself a pinstripe wingback bed.

 

Step 1

Because we have a California King bed, I needed to make a giant bedframe. Beds can be surprisingly non-standard in their measurements, so since you’re building yours from scratch, the first thing you should do is measure your bed. I’ll give you the measurements I used, but unless you also have a giant bed, you’re going to need to customize them.

You’ll start by building yourself a great big box. Measure the length and width of your bed. I added an inch on each side to give myself room to maneuver. That extra inch means 1/2″ on each side so you don’t have to squish your bed into position. My bed measured 72″ x 83″, so the finished size I was shooting for was 73″ x 84″, except I made a bunch of mistakes with my measurements so learn from my example and measure everything three times and double check your math. Luckily as long as your mistakes are consistent, this project is pretty forgiving.

You need 2 2×4’s to make the top and bottom of your box, and those should be the finished width of your bed. I cut mine 74″ long, which was a mistake but one that was no biggie. Then you need 3 2 x 4’s to make the sides and middle of your box. These should be the finished length of your bed, minus the width of the 2×4’s you’re using for the top and bottom pieces. Those top and bottom pieces sandwich all the vertical pieces, so you need to take their width into account to get your finished length. 2×4’s usually measure about 1 1/2″ wide, so if you subtract 3″ from your finished size, you’ll know how long to cut your side and middle pieces. I cut mine 81″ long.

Set the pieces up together and drill pilot holes where they’ll be joined. Screw them all together with 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Those other pieces of wood you see outside the box are the pieces that you’ll be upholstering. Given how loosey goosey I was being with my measurements I had to make sure they’d be cut the right size so I laid them right up next to my 2×4 box to make certain. I cut 2 1×8’s 84″ long for the sides, and then one more 76″ long for the bottom. The side pieces should be the same size as the finished 2×4 box, and the bottom piece should be the same length of  the 2×4 box plus the width of the 1×8’s which is about 3/4″ each. If I was being careful I would have cut it 1/2″ shorter, but I think I’ve already shown I was not being careful.

 

Step 3

Set up your 1×8’s next to where you’ll be installing them on the box. They should be standing upright so that the wide sides of both pieces of wood are touching. Once they’re lined up, drill a hole from the inside of the box, through the 2×4, and into the 1×8. This pilot hole will tell you where you’ll need to keep the upholstery out of the way so you can screw the pieces together without ripping through your fabric. Fabric and drills are not friends.

 

Step 2

Wrap batting around the entire 1×8 piece, securing it with staples.

 

Step 4

Wrap your upholstery fabric around your 1×8 pieces, continuing to secure it with staples. I wanted to keep the staples as hidden as possible, so I wrapped the wood like a present, keeping all my seams where they would be hidden by being attached to the 2×4 box. Fold your corners neatly and tuck raw edges under before stapling. Feel through the fabric for where those pilot holes are and cut the fabric away neatly to leave yourself room to attach it. Use 2″ wood screws to attach the 1×8’s to the 2×4 box, screwing through those pilot holes you drilled. Make sure you use wood screws that aren’t too long or you’ll go all the way through your 1×8 and have a screw poking through your fabric. I attached the 1×8’s in six different spots to make sure they’d be attached super strong and stand up to kids and pets climbing all over them.

 

Step 5

Now you need to add slats across the bed. Nobody likes sleeping on a saggy mattress, so you need to make a nice firm foundation. I used 1×3’s and cut them 74″ long so they’d fit nice and snug on top of my 2×4 box.

 

Step 6

I attached six slats total, spread out across the length of the bed.

 

Step 7

Now we need to get this thing up off the floor and add the legs. There’s many ways to do this, but the way I went with was to use this straight plate. I screwed it into three corners but if you add a little block of wood into the corner of the 2×4 box you can attach all four sides. I didn’t think it was necessary because I’ve got some extra steps coming, but if these legs are all you’re using to hold up all the weight of the bed and the people and jumping kids and pets in them, you probably should.

 

Step 8

I found these great midcentury inspired legs online. These just screw into the straight plates.

 

Step 9

Now, a California King is heavy. Two tall grown adults are heavy. Wrestling kids who jump on the bed are heavy. And a California King is wide, so without a middle support, you’re going to end up eaten by a sagging bed. But a middle support is also hidden under the bed and doesn’t have to be pretty. So I took the scrap pieces of 2×4 and made two middle legs that will keep this thing so stable that a parade could march through and the bed would be rock solid at the end of it. The middle piece should be the height of the legs, including the straight plate. Basically the distance from the floor to the 2×4 box. Then the two outside pieces should be 2 1/2 – 3″ taller so that it can fit onto the middle beam and leave you room for screws. Use wood screws to stick those pieces together, making sure they’re flush on the bottom.

 

Step 10

Slide those legs around the middle beam and use wood screws to attach it from both sides.

 

bedframe

If you aren’t making a headboard, you’d probably want to finish the top of this bedframe with another upholstered piece at the top, but I didn’t want it to get in the way of the giant headboard I’ll be building. And that I’ll be showing you how to build next week.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Make a windchime from dollar store supplies

Windchime In my quest to outfit this superstar backyard of mine, as is my duty as Park Ranger of this place, I’ve been searching for a windchime that was both 1) not obnoxious and 2) not so outrageously expensive I would resent it every time I heard it’s gentle chime. So as usual, I knew I had to make what I was looking for. I love the sound of bamboo windchimes because they’re so light and subtle and not glaringly high pitched, so when I found bamboo windchimes at the dollar store I knew they were exactly what I needed. Now I just needed to make them grand enough to fit into my very grand backyard. I bought five of the windchimes, a bowl, and used some rope I had on hand, so for $6 plus tax I’m making something that would have cost me a fortune otherwise.

 

Step 1 If you are a regular blog follower, by now you are a pro at drilling through glass and pottery. But in case you’re coming to this tutorial fresh I’ll give you a nutshell version of how to drill through a bowl. 1) Get yourself a drill bit made for the job. It will say so on the packaging. I like the ones that come in a spade shape because they’re easier to control as you drill. 2) Set up a drilling station. I have here a plastic tub, an old towel, and some cool water. You really just need the cool water and a way to keep your bowl from sliding around. The towel gives you a nice non-slip surface and the tub keeps the water where you need it, but there are a million variations on this. 3) Make sure you’ve got water on both sides of what you’re drilling, then go steady and slow without a lot of pressure. If you push on the drill you could crack the bowl. If it gets too hot you could crack the bowl, and if you create too much friction through heat or non lubrication (which the water also takes care of) you could crack the bowl.

 

Step 2 Here’s my bowl with the hole drilled through, and  you can see that it is off center. Really not a big deal. I’m showing this as proof that perfection is not worth the stress.

 

Step 3 Run your rope through the hole you’ve made. Ropes fray, so wrapping the end with some tape will save you some major frustration.

 

Step 4 Now it’s time to deal with your bamboo windchimes. Lay them out to make you’re new configuration. At first I thought I was going to cut them all apart and start from scratch, and then I decided it would be enough just to attach them all together. Do some experimenting and see what works for you. I ended up stringing three sets across the top, and then two more hanging down from the middle. It makes a kind of inverted pyramid shape. Remember to leave enough room between the pieces for them to move around and make that lovely noise.

 

Step 5 With all your decisions made, drill holes where you need to attach them together.

 

Step 6 Tie them together with rope or string. Remember the tape trick, this can get frustrating.

 

Step 7 Tie the top of your newly assembled wooden pieces onto the rope and make a big giant secure knot. Remember, this is going to stand up to wind, so triple knot that baby.

 

Step 8 Pull the rope all the way through the bowl so the knot catches. Then tie the rest of the rope into a loop you can hang the whole operation from.

 

Windchime hanging I made my windchime super long, so I hung it from a high point on my roofline. I wanted the look and the sound, but I also didn’t want anyone to get wrapped up in it as they walked around the yard. Fittingly enough, the day I hang this up it was super crazy windy, which you’ll hear on the video, but you’ll also hear how great this sounds. Even better, each time I hear it I am reminded that it only cost me $6.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Speaking Atticus

Speaking Atticus
Atticus does not speak fluently. Over the years we’ve been given every possible explanation for this. He’s mentally retarded, he has autism, he’ll grow into it, it’s just a CP thing. Almost always, like, so close to always that the distinction is negligible, the assumption has been that his speech is a result of his intellectual abilities. He’s had school psychologists tell us, with him on my lap, that we should be happy if he could make change one day. He’s had teachers who refused to teach him. He’s had family members talk about him like he’s not in the room or ask if he likes to watch the Simpsons because he likes the colors and not the biting social satire.

If he didn’t speak at all he would have been given a communication device by now. But he speaks enough that it often gets misinterpreted. Autism has come up a whole lot, which I would welcome if it was the appropriate diagnosis, but what they’re trying to call autism is really just him knowing that therapist doesn’t see him and saving himself the trouble. So it’s been up to me to crack the code of Atticus.

I knew him. I just knew that everything I was hearing from the professionals and their evaluations based on one hour of standardized testing was false. I knew that he was brilliant and creative. I knew that the fact that he could read at 3 meant something and wasn’t just a fluke. The school psychologist who called Atti mentally retarded told me that his reading skills weren’t authentic. They were rote. If he could read than so could a parrot. He didn’t see my boy. But I do.

And as I searched for proof of my belief, I discovered something amazing. Atticus was communicating volumes. You just had to speak his language to understand. So I stopped trying to make Atti speak my language, and I started trying to learn his. I realized that the phrases he repeated from his toys were not just idle games. He was using them contextually to speak to me. He was using them like a rapper samples music and surrounds it with a new context to make something meaningful in a whole new way.

He does not have an official diagnosis of speech aphasia. But it is crystal clear to me that that’s what is going on. He receives language perfectly, but struggles to express language. The words are trapped in his brain.

But the music isn’t. Music flows from him. And he uses the language of his toys because after playing with them so much for so long, he hears the music in them. When he uses those phrases, they come out with the same pitch, intonation, rhythm, as they come out of the toy. Because he’s singing them. Have you ever heard one piece of speech over and over and over again? When you’re rewinding an audiobook, or restarting a podcast, or trying to find the right starting point in your TV show to skip the commercials. If you hear one piece of recorded speech over and over and over again, it sounds like music. You pick up on the pitch and intonation and rhythm that you weren’t paying attention to when you thought it was just speech, and if you hear it enough, it becomes a song. That is the key to Atti’s communication. The speech section of his brain isn’t cooperating, but the music section is. And it is not just cooperating, it’s compensating.

Whenever I need Atti to say something – a response to a question he gets in public, or how to behave in his classroom – we find the music in the phrase. I teach it to him like a melody. And then he can say it.

But that only started to happen once he saw that it was worth the effort. He had to see that I was going to hear him. And for that to happen, I had to go to him first.

Think about how discouraging it would be if no one ever listened to you. If people only told you things about yourself that you knew weren’t true, but you couldn’t make them see. If you had to go through the world with the brain you have now, but a gag over your mouth. You could never correct misconceptions. You couldn’t tell a joke or share your personality. You could never prove anyone wrong. So you’d give up. You wouldn’t try to talk with your teachers because you’d believe you couldn’t change their thinking. You wouldn’t try to pass the psych tests because you’d believe they’d just tell you you were retarded again, so why even put yourself out there? Think about your own emotional life, and then think about how that would be impacted if you could never talk it out with someone who loved you?

I refused to let my boy stay there. Every time he gives me a chance, I snatch it up. When he tries to say something and I don’t understand, I tell him to keep trying, but first I tell him to keep giving me a chance. I make sure he knows that I know how hard he’s trying and that it’s me who needs to make up the deficit. I’m trying to enter his world because he spends all day every day trying to enter mine.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mosaic Birdhouses for Fancy Birds

Mosaic Birdhouses

Every time I go to a craft store, from March until September, they feature a giant bin full of wooden birdhouses right outside the front door. They call to me every year and every year I think, eh, I don’t have anything to do with them. And I leave them in their bin as I […]

[Continue reading...]

Make an Outdoor Chandelier

Chandelier Finish

Once you start drilling through glass, it apparently gets pretty addictive. Because here I am back at it again. I spent so much time in thrift stores looking for glass dishes for the flowers, that I couldn’t stop collecting when I found a deal I couldn’t pass up. So I wound up with a whole […]

[Continue reading...]

Father’s Day Sensation

I’m perpetually behind these days, but in case you didn’t see it, here’s my boys being famous. I have watched these commercials dozens of times because they legitimately make me that happy even if my own family wasn’t in it.

[Continue reading...]

Finding Dory Review – from a kid who knows…

Finding Dory Reaction

I know it’s already been a couple weeks since Finding Dory opened in theaters, and by now, I bet most of the people who wanted to see it have seen it. But I still have a lot of feelings about it that I have to get out. This movie is IMPORTANT, y’all. And I need […]

[Continue reading...]

Make a Glass Flower Garden

Flower Garden Decor

One of my favorite ways to spend a day is combing through thrift stores and junky old antique shops. Around here, because I live in a touristy area, there are lots of stores featuring random collections of cool stuff, combined in new and interesting ways. Lots of vintage tractor seats turned into stools, old doors […]

[Continue reading...]

Queen of the Artichokes

Artichoke Queen

Last summer I put two artichoke plants in my garden. They mostly sat there while my tomatoes took over everything, and sat there still while the pumpkins curled through the yard and then rotted where they grew because I had to abandon everything in preparation for my surgery. So imagine my surprise when I went […]

[Continue reading...]