Shut the French Door!

Shut the French Door!

When it comes to French doors and privacy, there are only so many options. I started researching some of them when we installed our French doors on our house here in Virginia. We have a larger lot (over 2 acres) and are surrounded by woods, but in the winter, the trees take their deciduous steps and distant neighbours have now got much better views into your domain. This bothers me, particularly at night when it is so dark outside and the house is lit up like a small supernova. I definitely like my privacy. What to do on a budget? Well, given I had no clue how to make French Door curtains, I purchased some and they’re fabulous and cost about $30.

We have another set of French doors in our basement and it has always bothered me that my kids could be down there playing (the video gaming is set up down there) and anyone can see into those doors too. I had originally planned to buy another set of the same style of curtains for down there, but then I remembered I actually have a ton of curtains from our various moves – yes, when you move like we do, you acquire so many things – some of which are a metallic Grey and would match the decor down there absolutely perfectly! The curtains I had purchased (pictured) looked very easy to copy the style of, so with a few modifications, I set out to repurpose my existing curtains into practical ones for the French door.

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The first thing I did was measure the window opening in the door to ensure the curtains I had were long enough, they were. Then it was a matter of taking approximate measurements of the existing French door curtains to match up my gray ones. I measured the width of the curtain and realized I had to cut quite a lot off it. This is a little scary mind you as you are ruining, I mean restyling, something perfectly good. I found the best thing to do was to measure all the way down putting a small sharpie mark along the length then getting a ruler and joining these marks together, then it was just a matter of biting the bullet and cutting (if I ruined them, well I did have another back up pair that weren’t so perfect but would do). I made my curtains 26″ (66cm) wide with a half inch hem on the side that needed a new hem. Therefore, my marks were made at 26 1/2 inches (67.3 cm) across ensuring the 4 circles (normally what would go on a rod) became the feature top of my French door curtains and were evenly spaced on both sides.

With the length I cut off, I measured the amount I would need to make the two pieces that velcroed together, holding the entire curtain up when you wanted to allow daylight in. I did screw up a little bit here as I didn’t take into account the fact that the second piece wouldn’t have any hem on either end, don’t do what I did, make that second piece a fraction longer, it will make life easier and save a burnt finger when it comes to ironing that hem on. I made each of these pieces 19 1/4 ” (49cm) by 2 1/2 ” (6.35cm) PLUS hem – important you don’t forget to factor this in.

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I didn’t even tell you that I wanted to do this entire project without sewing! I had lots of iron-on hemming tape and thought it would be perfect for this job.

If you have never used hemming/bonding tape, basically you use an iron to melt it together, ergo bond the fabric together at your given hemline. The iron has to be hot (so the fabric you use has to be capable of withstanding a reasonably hot iron, and you must turn the steam function off. Be careful not to touch the hemming tape with the hot iron, it will melt immediately and leave a sticky residue on your iron – if this happens, turn iron off and wait to get cold before wiping with a clean cloth that has some rubbing alcohol on it (I do not know this from experience ;)). I decided to double hem my edges because I wanted a clean ‘finished’ look, it did mean a lot more work but it looks better in my opinion. One other thing I did was to cut the hemming tape in half lengthwise as it fitted each of my little, narrow hems much better like that.


Once everything was hemmed and ironed, I folded the front of the curtain over so it gave my front a more professional finish, I used more hemming tape at the top to secure these two folds together.

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I then joined the two pieces on to the back of the French door curtain like so (I pinned everything in place after I had measured it and before I permanently attached it so I could be sure it was all going to work and look nice and neat). My strips were attached 6″ in from the edges on each side.
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Then it was a matter of attaching the Velcro. Again, I didn’t particularly want to sew, not that I can’t, I’m just not very good at it and don’t particularly enjoy it, so I had some sticky back Velcro from another project and just used it. This really is a matter of eyeballing and making sure they will align when joined together. Pinning helps with this too.
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Finally, it was time to attach a curtain to the French door:


I love how these turned out. They match the decor down here perfectly, I had everything on hand so didn’t actually have to purchase anything and now I know we will have privacy downstairs too!


Would you try this at your house? What do you think of this project? Please come on over to Aussie Mum’s Adventures on FB and like my page: Aussiemumsadventures. You can find me on Twitter: @ozmumsadventures, on Instagram: Ozmumsadventures, on Pinterest: Aussiemumsadventures And please subscribe to my YouTube channel: Aussie Mum’s Adventures (I’m still working on it, so please have patience with me!).

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The ‘Wall’

Mexico-U.S. border wall prototypes/photo by CBP Photography/Flickr

I understand immigration is a big issue, particularly illegal immigration. I went through hell to get into this country legally, all because I just happened to fall in love with a US citizen!

This isn’t the solution though; a wall that is. The proverbial ladders are already being funded and built. The real costs will be incredible! You’re talking about taking land from farmers, stopping their seasonal workers from doing the laborious jobs no one else will do because the pay isn’t worthy of the labor-intensive nature involved. Fresh produce will increase in price – for all of us, as will law suits because the government is taking private land and there are very few private land owners willingly ready to give up their hard-worked land. Not to mention the incredible environmental impact – the actual production of cement/concrete, creates immensely harmful greenhouse gasses. The Rio Grande is often a scarce water region so locals, neighbours, on both sides of the river, have for years worked together to come up with solutions to share the water resources. They have built dams together, they have, for the most part, been extremely amicable, my daughter literally read a passage out of her fifth grade social studies/geography text book about just this thing last night.

Then there’s the devastating impact on wildlife. The National Butterfly Center located in Mission, TX has had a portion of its property sectioned off to build a part of the wall that was already funded under Congress last year (2018) when it approved the funding of approximately 33 acres of ‘barrier’ costing an estimated $600 million. The Butterfly Center is going to try to fight it, but “Under laws passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has said it can override federal environmental regulations to build barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border.” (Texas butterfly center fighting border wall construction).

But, here’s the thing & it’s big! The hatred for fellow Americans has to cease, as does the great big line that has been invisibly drawn between us. You are representatives of a great country, a great multi-cultural country. A country that has developed in diversity because of all the immigrants that have contributed to it. You have the opportunity to show what great people you are! And just how great the UNITED States of America is! We have to work together to find a solution for illegal immigration. We have to stop the hatred between fellow man. We have to be reasonable when looking for solutions to problems such as illegal immigration. We cannot join in with the BS currently circulating throughout this great country. The division, the name calling, the hatred, it has to cease. I don’t have the answers, but I’m certainly willing to keep an open mind if reasonable ideas are put forward for how to eliminate illegal immigration at the US/Mexico border and take care of both our fellow human beings and the animals who populate the world with us. Just not a wall.

References

Retrieved from: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/news/2019/02/04/texas-butterfly-center-fighting-border-wall-construction

Chalk Paint Table Makeover

Chalk Paint Table Makeover

I love to DIY and I normally have numerous projects going on at once, which my husband absolutely hates because he is a ‘one tasker’ – you know the type, you could well be one too, complete one project before moving on to the next. Not me. I’m not sure why it is but I’ve always been like that. I get bored doing one thing or waiting for it to finish or have to stop because of budgetary constraints, so I move on to the next thing whilst biding my time.

Currently on my project lists I have the master bathroom project (which has come to a grinding halt until hubby takes some time off later in the month and we replace the counter top and sinks etc). I have also begun with our main floor stair makeover (you can see pics of that in a later blog), I have one painting I’m in the midst of (yes, I’m trying to establish myself as an artist as well, with a store on Etsy, though that now needs to be updated as my paintings have all expired, so I’ll add that to my current projects (here’s the link to it: Le Shez Boutique). Back to the painting; it has me a little vexed as to where to go with it to improve it, so it’s been benched at this point in time. Finally, I have the project that this blog is about: my side table makeover.

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We’ve had this table since we lived in Italy, it wasn’t a cheap purchase but it certainly isn’t of the quality that furniture used to be made of either. It has a veneer coating and has certainly travelled well, having moved with us into nine different houses, including two overseas moves! I’ve always liked the design but the large chips in it and the differing tastes in both houses and changes in tastes in myself, mean I also now find it outdated and ugly with potential.

One other thing I always do is keep an eye out for bargains that may come in handy at some point in time for some particular project I know I will do in the future, or for a project I didn’t even know I wanted to do just yet, and that’s exactly how I came across this chalk paint. LIDL (a German store that rivals ALDI) has so many of these bargain things that sometimes I have to say no to shopping there! But when I saw the below pictured chalk paint for about $5, I knew exactly where I could use it! So onto table restoration I went (in between waiting for coats to dry on said staircase).

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The first thing I had to do was obviously dust it off and remove the handles. If you want to paint them (the handles), spray paint is probably your best option, but I chose not to in this case thinking they were in great condition as is. I then gave the table a very light sanding. I used 220 grit sandpaper. You have to be very careful when sanding veneer that you do not go too deep with your sanding. After I had lightly sanded everywhere, it was on to filling in the accidental scratches and divets that were not helping this table age gracefully! I used MINWAX Stainable Wood Filler, for no other reason than that it was the one that looked easiest to use and was a good price in the store. I needed something that I could paint and stain (for my piano project that will happen one day) and something that could be sanded – this was perfect. I filled the scratches, waited for the filler to dry then sanded it down once more. I also grabbed something I could get all the grime out of the cracks with, the fact that it happened to be a stem from an edible fruit arrangement received sometime over the past 10 years did not go unnoticed by me, but you know that’s why I keep this crap around! You never know when something like that will come in handy!

I cleaned the table once more with damp paper towel then began the process of painting it. I wasn’t too fussed about it looking perfect after the first coat, given I knew it would require at least two coats of my base color.

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Second Coat (the paint is still drying in this photo):

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Now it was a matter of what to do next. I wasn’t actually using chalk paint for the next part, I had leftover ceiling paint (flat white) and thought it would be perfect for the effect I wanted. I grabbed both a thin brush as well as a foam brush and dipped into the ceiling paint and tried to focus on the detailed areas that I wanted highlighted in the white paint – the grooves etc. I had a wet paper towel on hand to get rid of/blend anything I wasn’t totally happy with, chalk paint is quite forgiving as long as you don’t press too hard. It was really a matter of going until I was happy with the results. If I wasn’t happy, I’d grab the brush for the chalk paint and paint over whatever it was I wasn’t happy with.

I had some Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations Protective Top Coat leftover from our kitchen renovation in Colorado, so I used this to seal the chalk pain in, The whole process literally took less than 7 hours. I’m happy with the results. Hubby and eldest daughter absolutely love it (and were completely surprised because they had no idea this project was on the agenda). Middle daughter isn’t a huge fan, youngest (son) loves it! So I guess a 4/5 isn’t bad right! I hope you’ve enjoyed it too!

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Being There

Being There

I regularly reflect on life and try to find some deep and meaningful answers on a daily basis. Rarely do I actually get any 😆. But, some clarification has hit me this year, I think I’m done with the BS people in my life. The ones who only want me in their lives when it’s convenient for them. You know the ones. You call or text them for the umpteenth time & always get the response “I’ve been so busy……. blah blah.” We are all busy, every single one of us, but we all have a few minutes to take the time to call and check on the people we love; friends and family alike. It’s important. We all say all of these sweet things on Social media about how we are here if you need us, but why not be there before you are needed? Why not give a little rather than talk a sweet talk? It’s time, now is the time to do that! If it isn’t time for you, then perhaps the people in your life aren’t the right people? Perhaps it’s time to move on and make new friends?

Every relationship you have is an investment. You both give and take, you invest your time and your love, yes even with friends. If you’re too busy to invest that time and love, then maybe these aren’t the right friends for you. Take a moment to reassess who you want in your life, then take a moment to jot them a note, give them a call, send a text.

I know, I know, your busy, you’ve got too many friends, too much family, everyone is strewn throughout the country, throughout the world! If you don’t reach out now, you may regret that you didn’t. We have no idea if today is the first of many great ones yet to come or the last of many great ones lived. We have no idea about that for ourselves let alone for anyone else. After dealing with too many losses at the end of last year into this year and seeing so many people regret not reaching out in time because they didn’t realize their time was so limited, I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. I’m not sitting here on my high horse telling you to cull your Facebook friends’ list, what I am telling you though is reach out to those you consider your true friends, a minute is all it takes. Stop putting off having lunch or a coffee with that girlfriend you haven’t seen in forever, stop thinking there’ll be time later to go for that beer or catch up with your mate to play pool. There may not be and you don’t want to spend time regretting.

I don’t want to regret another minute of my life. I don’t want to spend time with people I don’t truly like. I don’t want to spend time with people who don’t truly like me. That’s not doing either one of us any good. I’ve always reached out to people but it’s definitely a two-way street and my life is very full, so perhaps it’s time I stopped. Perhaps it’s time you stopped too. Perhaps our laundry list of so-called friends is just that?

Either way, the people I love , those who truly know who they are, will always call and check on me or text or let me know how they are, just as I will them. The rest, well some could be in this life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, some could just be wasting my time and I theirs. So here’s to truly being there for someone before they need you and to knowing others have got your back!

The loss of a Fur Baby – a child’s heartbreak

On the first weekend of 2019, my husband and I went through a very difficult ‘first’. The first death of a beloved pet. Our daughter got a guinea pig from us for Christmas the year before. She celebrated their first year together on Christmas day. And boy did she love that guinea pig! It was a love like that of any fur baby. She has felt incredibly guilty since Phina’s passing; “Why didn’t I know? How did I miss this? I should have known something serious was wrong!” All of these things sound familiar, as we all go through similar questions/statements when we lose anyone we love.

The thing that really hurts though, is not being able to do anything to take your child’s pain away! The agony, the heartbreak! The powerlessness! It’s awful. I cried myself to sleep one night. I was devastated at the loss of the guinea pig, but I was even more devastated at the fact that I couldn’t do anything to take the agony away! I couldn’t answer any of those big questions. This was a fur baby. Her fur baby. All I could do was reassure her that she had done everything she could have. She felt guilty because she hadn’t played with Phina the night before. She’s fourteen years old. She is allowed to be a responsible pet owner and live the life of a fourteen year old. Phina lived in her room. Our daughter played with her and cuddled with her daily. On the Friday night she sat on her phone and played video games with her friends all night. On Saturday I made her help me take down and pack away Christmas decorations for hours. She went back up to her room and doesn’t remember if she checked in on Phina then or not. At 11pm, she found her on her side in her cage, not moving. Her guilt overwhelming.

The only thing we can do when facing the death of a loved one, is reassure our children it wasn’t their fault. Her guinea pig had fresh food, fresh water. She had made sure of that on Friday night. It’s just a sad and cruel twist of fate that the one day she didn’t give her guinea pig the normal attention she got, is the day she died. I guess that’s Murphy’s/Sod’s law.

I’m sharing this story because I feel like every parent will have to go through this at some point in time and no one prepares you for the heartache you will feel for your child.

We had a ceremony on Sunday January 6. We buried her in the woods, in a box, wrapped in tissue paper and covered in rocks. Our dearest daughter made the beautiful headstone you see in the photo. We all shed a tear, she may have just been a guinea pig but she had found a way into all of our hearts and she was a real cutie, full of personality.

I’m writing this story a week and half after Phina passed away. Our daughter has started smiling again. She visits her grave daily.

One day my kids will have to face the death of a human loved one and I dread that day. But all I can say is, when it comes to your children and their beloved pets passing, it’s going to break your heart into a million pieces, but you will get through it, just as we make it through the death of our family members and good friends.

Guns and You – it’s not red and blue!

Guns and You – it’s not red and blue!

America, this is reality calling, please wake up!

Seriously. You are heading for civil war. There is no black and white in all things up for debate right now, only grey.

My daughter went to school on March 14, 2018 and went outside for 17 minutes of silence, to remember the 17 victims of last month’s massacre in Florida, when she returned to her classes, some of her friends were extremely rude to her, thinking she had walked out protesting gun laws. Now don’t get me wrong, she will be doing this (of her own accord) on March 24th at the Marching for Our Lives Protest, she will also be walking out of school on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Her school has actually communicated with both parents and students in regards to this walkout and they have offered students a safe area (on school grounds) where they can peacefully protest, they have also offered students the choice on the protesting and said to them that it is completely of their own decision making. Students who remain in class will have time to read or do something of their own selection. Whilst those outside (teachers included) are able to safely protest current gun laws. No parents are allowed to be involved (unfortunately for me, but I completely understand why because of the safety aspect).

I digress, back to March 14; the school had asked if any students wanted to protest and were given a solid answer of April 20th being their day, obviously there was mention of some sort of remembrance ceremony though. My daughter joined many others that walked out of their classroom and stood outside in a circle around 17 pairs of shoes and silently remembered those 17 unknown students who had died just one month before, some of them whilst buying roses in their cafeteria for the one they admired; celebrating Valentine’s Day.

When she sat down with her supposed friends at lunch, two of them belittled her for walking out. They called her names and told her she was a coward for doing so. They started lecturing her on the fact that everyone has a right to own guns, who was she to say no one could have guns! She tried to tell them firstly that it wasn’t a protest and secondly that she wasn’t trying to take guns away from people, but it was all to no avail, she couldn’t get a word in. Her ‘friends’ wouldn’t or couldn’t listen to any other opinion. They had already been judge, jury and executioner. They are all 13 years old.

Here we are, a group of people trying to remember the kids/young adults who were all murdered just over a month ago by a psycho who had spent some time planning his attack on kids at school, whilst kids at school are so worried about losing their 2nd amendment rights (do they even have them yet or is this pure parent talk) that they are judging others because they thought they were outside protesting said rights! How can any of this make sense to anyone?

My world inadvertently involves guns. My husband is in the military. We have lived on base/post throughout various times in our many years of military life. We have plenty of friends that love their guns. My husband owns a gun. He is also extremely well-trained in guns. He doesn’t have a temper. He is very sound of mind and full of common sense; the complete opposite of me, lol! He is one of the people who could own a gun and society wouldn’t have to worry that he is going to go all nut jobs on everyone! He also doesn’t believe that assault rifles belong in the hands of society members. He understands the need for common sense gun laws. When he got his gun and the background check took 15 minutes, both he and I were in shock! 15 minutes to check someone’s background to make sure they were of the mental capacity fit to own a gun. He bought a second one in the time it took for his background check to complete. How can that be ok? And you can buy bullets at the same time!!! What! So someone has really pissed you off and in a crazy temper you walk into a gun store, get your gun and bullets within 15 minutes and go and take care of the person/people who have pissed you off? All whilst still in your temper! You may have cooled down had you been given a few days to chew over what it was they did to you (you may not too but that’s where psychological tests come into play). Surely to god every upstanding citizen out there doesn’t want innocent lives taken? Surely.

I’m Australian, I was living in Australia and very well remember the day the massacre occurred in Tasmania (28 April, 1996), the day everything changed in Australia, the day Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and injured 23 others, the day that shocked Australia so much that we knew it must never happen again! That was the day radical gun reform began in Australia. The government immediately enacted strict gun laws and issued a buyback program. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) summed it up well:

The National Agreement on Firearms all but prohibited automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, stiffened licensing and ownership rules, and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 assault weapons (about one-sixth of the national stock) out of public circulation. Among other things, the law also required licensees to demonstrate a “genuine need” for a particular type of gun and take a firearm safety course.

Now at this point in time, a National buyback program wouldn’t work here in the United States a: because very few people would voluntarily give up their guns and b: because it would cost an absolute fortune to compensate for said guns. As of 2017 in the USA, “there were no federal laws banning semiautomatic assault weapons, military-style .50 caliber rifles, handguns, or large-capacity magazines. There was a federal prohibition on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines between 1994 and 2004, but Congress allowed these restrictions to expire”. (CFR) After every mass shooting, particularly the one in Las Vegas, in October, 2017 and after the Parkland school shooting, “some lawmakers expressed provisional support for a federal prohibition of so-called bump fire stocks, devices that allow semiautomatic guns to fire at a rate approaching that of automatic weapons”. (CFR).

On March 24, students and parents alike, will ‘March for our Lives’ in Washington D.C. and throughout the country. My daughter and I will march. How can we not? There has been plenty of talk about the “Walk Up not out” movement being a great way to walk up to those kids who are sitting by themselves or those students who are being bullied. Firstly, how about we practice being nice and including all those who are different every single day? Why is it ‘walk up’ on that day only? How can things change without some sort of dramatic uprising? The massacres are not stopping! The school shootings continue. Something has to dramatically change! Teach your children to be inclusive, teach them to love, teach them to treat others the way they would like to be treated, make that an every day occurrence. But, do not ask my daughter to walk up to the psychotic kid that has spent his whole life torturing animals, the one who has shown every sign of becoming the school shooter. Don’t expect her to show kindness to him when he has nothing but animosity for every living thing out there and is looking for someone to start with. Don’t tell the wife of a brutal husband that beats her whenever he feels like it, that she should ‘walk up’ and be nice to him, that will make everything better! Stop it! You are being naive. Sometimes, there is no other way than to ensure the person cannot have access to the tools (normally guns particularly when one is looking to cause as much carnage as possible) one craves to cause damage.

Yes, the pro gun, anti gun legislation, people will argue that people cause carnage with knives (the eight (8) men in China that killed 29 people and injured 130 more). Now imagine if those EIGHT men had guns; assault rifles even. How much more carnage would they have done?

Yes the pro gun, anti gun legislation, people will argue that you can cause carnage with cars (the vehicle attacks throughout the UK and Europe in 2017 are devastating, many were killed and injured) again though, I ask, imagine the greater casualties had those men had assault rifles? Many more would have died, there is no disputing that.

Yes the pro gun, anti gun legislation, people will argue that criminals can easily access guns on the black market; it’s not normally regular ‘criminals’ causing this mass carnage in the USA, it’s every day white males aged between 17 and 50. It’s not normally terrorists, it’s men who are psychotic in nature or who have flipped a switch and literally gone loco.

Basically, stop worrying about your 2nd amendment rights. If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about! I heard a great quote the other day, “the 2nd amendment has been bastardized”. The forefathers couldn’t have foreseen the carnage today’s weapons would cause and the number of innocent children taken far too early by them. They wouldn’t have agreed with that! They set these amendments in place to protect ‘Americans’, not so they could be used to kill the most innocent.

This fight isn’t black and white. This fight is full of grey. The one thing we all have to agree upon though is that too many children are dying in the USA at the hands of guns. It has to be time for change otherwise what sort of future do we have?