Kaleidoscope Photography

Today is my mom's birthday. It's a big, important birthday too!

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But in all seriousness,

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I like giving thoughtful gifts which isn't always easy when I've known someone long enough to have already given her one of almost everything I've every hand crafted but I got to thinking about what she loves most. I like to think family is the most important thing in her life so I wanted to integrate that into her gift somehow. A dear friend helped me brainstorm ideas and suggested using a kaleidoscope program to make some custom jewelry or similar since my mom also collects kaleidoscopes when she travels. That led me to the idea to print out 9 different photos of people (and pets) in her life then processing them to make them look like kaleidoscope images then put them all in a frame together.

Kaleidoscope artwork

I also created a key. The photos include images of her with her sisters, my dad, her grandchildren, her cats, her nieces, wedding party, and more. Watching her take in all the images was so fun. She really loved it.

Thank you for reading,
Julie



Patio Storage Cabinets

Happy End of Summer!

The kids are about to go back to school (here in the PNW, they still start after Labor Day) and summer is winding down. That said, we barely used our back porch this summer, mostly because it was always a mess. That bums me out because I love having the outdoor space and in the past, we've eaten quite a few dinners out there when it's dry. I finally decided to whip it in to shape last week as I struggled to make it look nice before my parents came for a visit. Here's what I created (and below, I'll share the journey):

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Now let's back up the truck a bit. It occurred to me to stop and take a picture about halfway through the process of clearing this wall. This is where backyard stuff gets stashed because no matter how much our patio roof leaks (and it does, sigh), this area stays pretty dry. So, bearing in mind this is halfway through tidying up, you can imagine how bad it always looked:

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

To make matters worse, that shoe holder there was visible from the dining and living areas so we were constantly looking at the backs of the pile of shoes. Yuck!!

I measured the space and realized that I could custom build 10+ feet of cabinets along that wall. I was going to build 100% from scratch using scrap lumber and 2x3s for support but upon measuring, realized that standard base cabinets would fit great in the space. I wanted a really uniform, custom look across the front and knew I didn't want to spend the money on a set of custom cabinets so I headed to my local Habit for Humanity building materials reseller and picked out three base cabinets to suit the space. They were all different and not quite what I wanted but I saw their potential.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

The 9 year old and I got right to taking off all the doors that evening.

Next, I cut out a few cross beams, created a new center beam for the middle cabinet (it's centered based on the entire cabinet unit, not based on the opening which worked out well), paneled the side using tongue and groove cedar planks, and painted that section.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Creating the doors was pretty simple. I used pre-primed 1x2 wood (not MDF, actual wood for this outdoor application) and more of these cedar planks. This is the same product I used for the fireplace surround build.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

As you can see, I did a lot of the work in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Lighting isn't ideal for photos but it's when I have time to work.

Seeing that I had enough scrap cedar, I measured and cut all the custom pieces to re-face the cabinets. This made them look like one big unit AND gave them a more polished look. It also gave me a better surface to paint. I used my nail gun to attach them then filled each hole, sanded, and prepped the surface for red paint. You'll likely notice some don't go all the way to the top edge, that's because if I'd cut them to the right length, I wouldn't have had enough full length pieces so I opted to make them all a little short.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I painted the base cabinets red like our front door and shutters and the doors the same grey as our fireplace.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I let them dry over night then put the doors on the next morning. Woohoo!!

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I topped the cabinets with some scrap OSB (possibly not the right product for the job but it's what I had) then to give it extra stability in our damp environment, I screwed down cement board before using tile left over from my bathroom remodel 8 years ago to give the top a durable surface.

Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

The thinset needed two days to fully set so I left it alone until it wasn't squishy anymore then used the last of the grout powder from the bathroom to grout the tiles just in time for us to put everything away to make our patio useful.
Patio storage cabinets DIY by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I moved the stick-and-jar hanging chandelier over from above the table (I never really loved it there after I made it) and love it in the new location. I also turned 4 of the old cabinet doors into chalkboards to hang above the new cabinets. The second cabinet from the end now holds our plug-in cooler for entertaining (and secret beer storage, shhhhh). It really all came together nicely in the end and the porch is so much tidier with places for all the shoes, toys, and grilling accessories we had piled along the wall.

Thank you for reading,
Julie



Snug fitting eclipse glasses

I had my reservations about purchasing one size fits all glasses for my kids but I want us all to get to view the solar eclipse safely. The main concern I had was that the glasses wouldn't stay on and their curiosity would win out despite the glasses being on the ground and they'd burn their eyeballs looking at the sun. Well, problem solved!!

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First I covered the ear pieces in tape to add some structural stability to the cardstock.

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Then I punched two small holes in each ear piece.

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Next I threaded elastic cording through the holes and tied them off.

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All set!!

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I think they're snug enough against his cheeks even so no escape sunlight to blind him. He will be off backpacking during the eclipse so I did want a tiny bit of space for him to look at the ground since he can't see anything except the sun through the lenses of these glasses. I feel like he's pretty safe in them and I'm excited for him to experience this amazing event.

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Thank you for reading,
Julie













Bean Barn Build

Over the past few months, er, ok, years, I've acquired quite a stack of salvaged lumber and I've just recently grown tired of looking at it so it's time to use it or lose it. I've been on a project kick so I'm just checking stuff off my list in rapid succession. Unfortunately we've been breaking records for number of rainy days as well as how many inches of rain has fallen so working outside has been a challenge. I woke up Sunday morning fed up with the weather and determined to build a new structure for my beans to grow on. I've loved having a bean tunnel but have never really loved the structure I built a few years ago and it's straight up ugly when there aren't beans growing on it.

This is mostly just going to be a show and tell post because, once again, using recycled lumber means I didn't set out with much of a plan and just made stuff up as I went along.

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I'm so incredibly happy about this project. Back when I put in the first bean tunnel, I knew it wasn't very attractive as a structure but it was what I could afford at the time and when the beans covered it, it was beautiful. I even had some solar string lights under there so at night, they glowed under the heavy foliage.

Old Bean Tunnel by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap
2014: The year of the jungle garden

Sadly, this is what it looked like for 10 months of the year:

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap
Well, that's ugly

I've befriended a local landscaper who has been kind enough to offer fence parts to those of us willing to show up at job sites to haul them away. It's a win-win since he can save some time and money hauling stuff away and I get free 4x4s. Even better, often times they're pressure treated 4x4s that have already leached out all their chemicals so they're sturdy AND garden-safe. I've read that 5+ years in our rainy environment will render pressure treated wood safe for organic vegetable gardens.

On Sunday, I set out to build a structure. I did my research on Pinterest but ultimately, I knew my design would be highly dependent upon what was out in my lumber pile so I had ideas but no set plan. First things first though, I had to clear the area and trim back those trees.

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Ahhh, much better. A blank slate with so much potential!

I started laying out the 2x4 pieces to determine what I had to work with and decided to go with a pretty basic house-shape building and I started to cut and screw stuff together. I have a bad back that doesn't allow me to lift heavy stuff so this was a bit of a challenge with the 4x4s. I had to figure out how to align, hold, screw, and balance each piece because building flat then raising it up wasn't really an option. I only had a couple of setbacks when I dropped stuff but ultimately, my structure is stronger for those mishaps since I had to reattach in a way that was sturdier.

I've gotta say, I picked a terrible day to get a building bug because it was GUSHING rain for most of the day. Seriously ridiculous amounts of rain dumping from the sky. I set up my handy 10' shelter to keep my tools dry but it wasn't super fun working in those conditions.

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Instead of securing the 4x4s inside the raised bed, I put them on the outside edges and left room to plant the beans INSIDE the structure. I used to always struggle to get the seeds in beyond the wire fencing they were growing up before.
Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Bean Barn - 2

After about 4 hours of work, I was done done done with the crummy weather so I packed up my tools and headed inside. My rain coat is still hanging on the front porch today, on Tuesday, because it's still a bit damp. I was absolutely soaked to the bone and my hands were numb from being stuck in wet work gloves all day.

On Monday morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I headed to Home Depot to pick up some furring strips to make a slatted roof. I used 20 of them for my 43" long roof structure. I want the bean vines to be able to climb across them but to drop their beans through whenever possible but I also wanted it to look more like a shelter in the off season than it would with just a wire fence stapled from one side up and over the top and down the other side. I did use the wire fencing from the old trellis along the vertical sides though and I love how it turned out.

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

The Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

The structure barely wiggles when I give it a good shake and I think it'll hold a lot of bean vines. The nice thing with it being this tall is I can plant more than I have in the past. The variety I grow, Cherokee Trail of Tears, is a variety that will get up to 10' tall and provides both string beans to enjoy raw or steamed in the summer, then whatever is left can be left to dry on the vine and harvested to enjoy as black beans (hello Instant Pot bean rehydration!).

Bean Barn by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I can hardly wait to get growing!


Thank you for reading,
Julie



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