10 Months: IKEA for Baby

First of all, Happy Mothers Day to all the mother, grandmothers, step-mothers, and mothers-to-be out there. You are all AMAZING.

A lot has happened in the last month! Our little chunker has continued to grow and finally has teeth (2, with more on the way)! And is mobile! He’s not exactly “crawling,” but he is dragging himself across the floor with determination.* One of the daycare teachers compared him to a seal. We’re not quite sure if he will ever actually discover he has knees or not. He’s also (just in the last few days) figured out how to sit up on his own. He’ll be on his belly, push himself onto his hands, walk his back legs forward so his butt is way up in the air, then tip it to one side and push off with his hands so he’ll fall back and hopefully land on his bum. It’s quite the production but he does seem to be getting slighting more efficient at that at least.

A while back I did a round-up of my favorite IKEA staples. Now here’s another for the parents.

KLADD RANDIG Bibs

I love these bibs! Compact, wipeable, machine washable (air dry), and dirt cheap. Even our daycare uses these. We have some Bumpkins bibs too and while the crumb-catcher pocket is nice, these ones are a great travel backup since I don’t have to worry about losing them.

MULA Bead Roller Coaster

Bead mazes can often be either super-dinky or super pricey. This one hits a sweet spot–it’s a good size, $10, and I happen to love the color combo.

EKORRE Rocking Moose

This is just an IKEA classic! The moose is pretty darn cute on it’s own, but this sheep hack for it? There are no other words than “totes adorbs.” If you’re feeling nerdy and creative I think you could totally hack it into a unicorn or dragon too.

LILLABO Train Set

I never had a giant wooden train set growing up, but I loved playing with the ones set up at stores. The LILLABO series makes the tracks much more affordable (although the trains themselves are a little boring). Although they advertise as being compatible with other big-name sets (Brio, Thomas, etc), my research tells me the tracks themselves don’t fit perfectly with other brands. The takeaway is save on the tracks, but splurge on the trains.

Rugs

IKEA is awesome for kids rugs because most of them are inexpensive enough that your kid can destroy them and no harm, no foul. The have a couple cool play-mat options too.

 

*And is making the cats very concerned

 

Weekend Gardening

Spring has finally sprung in MN! One thing people say about the more Northern states is that it’s really nice to have four seasons… what they don’t say is that the four seasons happen all in one week and the rest of the year is half freezing cold and half boiling hot.

Image result for you can't have 4 seasons in one week

We’re reasonably confident that we won’t be getting any more snow, so I started to make some progress on the garden.  Last time I talk about about my plans for the back yard, but I actually started with our front yard (probably because it was the smallest section).

We just recently got gutters so I was able to tackle the planting beds in the front of the house.

My first step was marking out the desired shape of the bed and clearing out the grass on the planting side.  Then I picked up some inexpensive plastic edging so I could prevent the grass from encroaching again. The edging isn’t too hard to install, but I do recommend letting letting it sit in the sun for a couple hours to soften a bit (it says to do so in the instructions, but I didn’t because I’m impatient). Having a mallet to drive in the stakes is very useful as well (I could get them most of the way by hand, but needed a mallet to finish it).

While I was picking up the edging, I also raided the plant section. The selection wasn’t what I was hoping for (but then, it’s been a looooong winter). I knew I wanted to get a large-ish bush for the corner of the house. I was thinking forsythia, but settled on a Purple Leaf Sand Cherry. Not only does it flower, it also has lovely red-purple leaves so it will add color for most of the year.

Now that I had the red bush, I wanted a few other things for color that wouldn’t clash horribly.  I settled on Eureka Bronze Leaf Begonia (annual–purpley leaves, white flowers), Chelsey Coral mums (annual–coral-pink flowers), Vista Red and White Salvia (white to pinkish-red flowers), Wine and Roses Gladiolus (pinky/purple/burgundy flowers), and some Snow-in-Summer (ground-cover, silvery green leaves, white flowers). I already had some white hydrangeas; they’re still in their early stages but they should fill out nicely against the house over time.

I planned by layout by separating the individual plantings and placing them before actually digging any holes.  This helps you get a better idea of the final look… especially if you’re like me and can’t visualize gardening to save your life.  I’ve been watching a couple gardening shows on Netflix and the best advice (for me anyway) was to not think about it as gardening, but to think about it as an art installation, or (in my case) a design-build project. I pay attention to the light requirements and the estimated heights and then I rely on the basic design principals in the same way I would for an interior project.

And then I cross my fingers and pray nothing dies off immediately.

I did manage to get everything dug in this weekend. Like I mentioned earlier, I still need to thin out of the lilies on the left and I have a sedum I want to migrate, but after all the other work I was spent.

It doesn’t look like much yet. Over time I plan to work in more perennials, but I’d like to see how the more dominant plants fill over time before I make more permanent additions.

Matt has plans to re-build the front steps, probably some time this summer, which should also increase our curb appeal. I’m also anxiously awaiting the day we decide to repaint/reside the house–getting rid of the drab brown should drastically increase our curb appeal!

I’m on the hunt for some shade-loving plants for the right side of the house.  My quickie online research shows that hydrangeas are shade tolerant, I’m not sure if they’d like quite as much shade as exists under our pine tree (which is less “shade” and more “complete absence of light”).  I also need some red/purple/pinky shade plants to balance out some of the color.  Any plant-savvy people out there with suggestions for me? I’d love to hear them!

 

9 Months: Keeping Clean

Look who’s 9 months!  He’s also 22 1/2 pounds and getting awfully heavy to tote around.

Not much new to report on the baby front. Wesley’s still not crawling (although he’s mastered spinning in circles) and still no teeth (but drooling like crazy and getting a little cranky at times). He’s starting to show a little bit of motivation when it comes to crawling, especially if he sees the cats.

Keeping Clean

Babies are just perpetual mess makers, aren’t they? They spit up, they poop (sometimes explosively), they don’t know how to wipe their own noses, they mash food into every crevice imaginable… I could go on.

It can see overwhelming dealing with the never-ending flow of bodily excretions, but once you have a routine down it’s really not that bad.

And of course, the general disclaimer before we begin: I am not affiliated with any of the products mentioned.  These are all things I’ve found through my own independent research.

Butts

Let’s just start at the bottom, shall we?  Keeping baby’s tushy clean is necessary from day 1. We had a few assorted sample packs of Huggies and Pampers wipes, but we’ve defaulted to Amazon Elements pretty much from the beginning. They’re free of added fragrances, parabens, dyes, alcohol, phthalates, bronopol, and methylisothiazolinone, but at a much better price point than Water Wipes. We just buy the regular unscented and have never had an issue with skin sensitivity.

Honestly, 9 months out and we have yet to have an issue with diaper rash. Every so often we see a small redish splotch and we’ll just hit it with some diaper cream (we use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, although I’m honestly not a huge fan of the very powdery scent). We also probably change Wesley’s diaper more frequently than we really need to, but hey, if it’s helped prevent uncomfortable diaper rash then I’ll stick with it. (If you’re curious about what kind of diapers we use, we started with Pampers Swaddlers for the first couple months, then switched to Target brand, and his daycare gets their diapers from Costco)

Feeding Frenzy

Once you introduce solids, the mess takes on a whole new level! We have this high chair, and while it’s been working out just fine, I would probably switch up my recommendation to a high chair that doesn’t have a cover/detached cushion but rather is fully wipe-able (like this one by Oxo). The cushion on ours is machine washable (but air dry, it does dry fast though), but I’m going to experiment in making something a little lower-maintenance.

Once you give your baby any finger foods they will also instantly realize that these foods can also be dropped on the floor. If you have wood/vinyl/tile floors, this isn’t a huge issue, but we have an area rug in our dining room and didn’t want to be constantly scrubbing ground-in carrot out of it. I picked up this splat-mat which was both well reviewed and one of the cheaper options. I happen to like that it’s just clear vinyl so it doesn’t compete with decor. So far we haven’t had issues with tripping or slipping with it either. The vinyl has a LOT of creases from it being folding during shipment, but I heard you can use a blow-drier to soften them out (it’s on my to-do list)

Laundry

Ah yes, laundry. The thing everyone warns you about once you add a baby to the mix. Honestly it hasn’t been that big a deal for us–really just an extra load of laundry every week.  It does involve some extra stain treatment work though.

When we’re dealing with the aftermath of a blow-out, any casualty clothing items get rinsed out in our utility sink.  When I’m ready to do laundry I’ll use a stain treatment spray (OxiClean Max Force has been working well for me so far). I also toss in a scoop of OxiClean laundry booster and use a fragrance/dye free detergent. I use these same products on my own laundry too (although I usually skip the laundry booster), mostly because I hate scented detergents (but who really want a different laundry product for every member of the family?).

For REALLY tough stains, I break out the big guns. You may have already caught on that I’m a bit of an OxiClean fan girl, but seriously, this stuff works really well. If you follow the instructions for a more concentrated soak you’ll be able to remove almost any stain. To whiten your whites (without compromising colors) the OxiClean White Revive is a frickin miracle worker. I use it on our bedding all the time since skin oils make whites get really dingy. It works equally well on spit-up, poop, and beets too.

Spring Dreaming

Spring may have sprung in a lot of places by now, but not in Minnesota.

This is the current state of our yard and no, this isn’t a belated April Fool’s joke.

I am so sick of winter right now. I want sunshine! I want warm weather! I want to actually be able to spend some time outside!

We’ve definitely made progress in our backyard, but it’s still pretty sad. I realize gardening takes time and we’ve had a lot of demo to do, but with the current weather I’m positively itching for an outdoor space I can enjoy.

We should be getting a proper patio poured this summer (hopefully before Wesley’s birthday?). We have an lovely little park just a couple blocks away so we don’t need a to try and cram in a eyesore swing set. My goal for the backyard is to make it geared towards adults, but still child-friendly. I also want something reasonably low-maintenance.

We do have some annoying limitations with our backyard:

  • Walkway right smack down a middle. Sure we could technically move it, or make it more organic-looking, but unfortunately a straight line is much easier to shovel, so I think it has to stay put.
  • Lots of shade. This is both a perk and a drawback. On one hand, the shady yard keeps our house cool and keeps makes the Minnesota summers a little more pleasant outside too (because despite current appearances, summers can get pretty boiling here).
  • I’m kind of an incompetent gardener so I need things are are hard to kill. I’ve already managed to kill off the Bishop’s Weed that came with some plants from our friends’ yard, and that’s supposed to be practically impossible. I’m thinking lots of rocks.

Here are some things I’ve been eyeing for a little inspiration:

Check out this amazing landscaping idea for a backyard or front yard
via Yard Surfer

I love the mix of planters and in-ground plants. I think it adds some lovely textures (and fills in some space with non-killable things).

via Bea Ray Gardens

This mix of two sitting areas is pretty cute.  I’m thinking of having a defined dining section and lounge/fire pit section.

Rock Gardens
via The Art in Life

The back corner by our lilac kills off e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. My hostas are sad, my ferns are sad, my transplanted creeping charlie and bishop’s weed remain a few sad little strands… I’m thinking to compensate for the lack of lush plants with rocks and do an alpine-ish style garden over there.

via Tales From the Coop Keeper

I want to try and cover the back our our garage with a trellis and vines. I also think it would be cool to frame it out with a mini pergola like this.

There’s a lot of work to be done, and it’s definitely not all happening this year. It is fun to daydream about though!

Now, for all the green-thumbs out there: What are your favorite resources for gardening (especially for beginners)? Do you have any Minnesota-hardy (USDA Zone 4b), low-maintenance, shade-tolerant, plant suggestions?

 

8 Months: Little Foodie

8 months??? Already?! I feel like I just wrote up his 7 month update last week.

He’s still quite the little chunker and has passed the 20lb mark–22lbs 10oz! We just had to retire pretty much all of his 9 month clothes because they were getting too snug.  Some of his 12 month clothes ride up over his giant belly already too.

Still no teeth, but the drool is pouring out of this boy! I’ve had to start keeping drool bibs on him so he doesn’t soak through his shirt. No locomotion yet either. I’m not concerned about his disinterest in crawling from a developmental standpoint, but I am anxious to see him moving just because I think it will be fun. I’ve been told to enjoy his immobile phase while it last though.

Even if crawling hasn’t really made his radar, Wesley is showing more and more interest in food. Baby Led Weaning didn’t work out as we planned so he’s still mostly on purees. We do keep offering soft/disolvable foods so he can work on mashing them himself, but he hasn’t quite mastered that yet.

Wesley does really seem to prefer food blends over a single pureed fruit/veg puree. I started picking up pouches by Happy Baby to use as taste tests.  If Wesley seems to enjoy the combo then I’ll work on making my own version at home since relying on the pouches can get pretty pricey and making your own baby food is really easy.

Tips for making your own baby food:

  • Fancy, baby-specific gadgets aren’t needed–just (any) steamer, food processor, and ice cube trays.
  • The best way to cook food for baby is apparently steaming or roasting. Personally I tend to roast veggies, but steam fruits.
  • Don’t be afraid of seasonings!* I’ll roast carrots with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some pepper or dill and then puree. I’ll add a dash of cinnamon to an apple/sweet potato blend. Think about what flavors you like in your food, but start off on the mild side
  • You can make a big batch at once and freeze off portions using an ice cube tray (a standard ice cube tray compartment seems to be approximately 1oz). Once the cubes are frozen I just dump them into a freezer bag, labeled with the type of food and the date made, then defrost as needed.

And a couple of recipes that have been a hit:

Beets & Apples (aka Beeples)

  • 1/2 large beet (or one small beet)
  • 2 apples

Peel your beet, then wrap in tin foil (with a drizzle of olive oil). Roast until tender.

Peel and chop your apples. Cook on the stove until soft (think applesauce).

Puree beets and apples in a food process.  Add a small amount of water if you’d like a thinner consistency.

Oh, and a word of warning if you feed your kid beets. That red color? It goes right through them. So if your baby has purple poop the next day, don’t panic.

Carrots and Strawberries

  • 2 cups carrot (peeled, roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup strawberries (roughly chopped)

Toss the carrots with a drizzle of olive oil and roast until tender.

Puree the carrots and strawberries in a food processor, adding water to achieve your desired consistency (I probably added about 1/4 cup).

Apples and Sweet Potatoes (haven’t made this one yet, but trying it tonight!)

  • 1 apple
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Cinnamon to taste

Peel your sweet potato, then wrap in tin foil (with a drizzle of olive oil). Roast until tender.

Peel and chop your apples. Cook on the stove until soft (think applesauce).

Puree sweet potatoes and apples in a food process.  Add a small amount of water if you’d like a thinner consistency. Blend in a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.

If you take the time to measure out how much applesauce 1 apple makes you can use store-bought (unsweetened) applesauce in its place. Or you can make a big batch of applesauce and divide it out between a couple recipes at once.

I also tried making him British-style mushy peas, but that one kind of flopped. I blamed it on my use of frozen peas so I’ll have to try it again the proper way…maybe with a little mint.

 

*As always though, check with your pediatrician if you’re unsure about what is appropriate to introduce when.

The Difference a Wall Makes

We’ve officially started work on our bedroom makeover!* It’s slow goings, because baby, but I got one whole wall painted the other weekend!  Whoohoo! A wall!

The bedroom plan was to have a dramatic, dark accent wall behind the bed, so I decided to start there.

Gorgeous, no? The color is Benjamin Moore Gentleman’s Gray… although don’t be fooled by the name because it is decidedly greenish-blue.

I painted the baseboard along that wall at the same time (yup, white trim EVERYWHERE) so we could shove our bed back into place. I’ll probably be tackling one wall at a time so it will look pretty hodge-podgey for a while.  I’m also going to wait until spring to paint the radiator because I really want to be able to open windows for that!

I had hoped to make some more progress by now, but cold and flu season took a pretty nasty toll on me, so it’s been sitting like this for a few weeks. We do have a headboard up now too, so those pictures (and tutorial) will be coming soon!

 

*Although, is it really a makeover if it wasn’t really “made” in the first place?

Baby Loves: 7 Months

Ufff… we’re finally starting to slow down on the weight front! At 7 months Wesley is still hovering under the 20lb mark at 19lbs and 10oz. He seems to have finally fought off the persistent Daycare Cold and also managed to pass Hand Foot and Mouth to me without actually getting it himself. Yay?

Wesley is still an amazingly chill little boy! He’s been doing great at daycare and is a very happy boy at home too. The cats have really started to catch his eye, and it is SO cute to watch his face light up when Schmutz walks up to him (Mort is a bit more cautious and I can’t say I blame him… especially after Wesley started chewing on his tail when it got within reach). Wesley is also a lazy little boy so he doesn’t seem to have a lot of motivation to crawl yet, but I’m sure it will happen eventually. Usually when we put him on his tummy he just sprawls dramatically and makes pathetic noises.

Wesley actually has 2 different jumpers.  The one they have at daycare is one of the ginormous, super-springy ones and he adores it!  We got this one (which has a smaller footprint) for at home.  He really likes all the toys on it and has just figured out how to get some spring out of it. He definitely bounces much more at daycare though.

This Batman teether constantly saves the day! Almost anytime he gets fussy, handing him this will stop the crying.  Batman fixes everything.

I have never gotten so many belly laughs out this boy than when we’re playing with this caterpillar. He loves the big cartoon-y eyes and all the different textures.  The velcro is pretty darn strong right out of the box, so he’s not strong enough to pull it apart yet, but he’ll get there.

Matt really wanted to get him So Many Stars, illustrated by Andy Warhol and it looks like we’re on our way to raising a little art snob.  The text may leave a little something to be desired, but this may be Wesley’s favorite book illustration-wise.

Introducing him to foods has been going slowly.  He seems to really like fruits, but isn’t so sure about veggies yet (oh, and if you’re wondering how the Baby Led Weaning is going, he actually does WAY better with purees…we still offer him “mashable” foods periodically though). His absolute favorite food seems to be this Happy Baby yogurt.  Now, I’m not even remotely a “crunchy” mom.  “Organic” carries very little weight me and I don’t actually believe GMOs are going to destroy us all.* What I do love about this brand though is that there is no added sugar (or sugar substitute!) in the yogurt. Where’s my adult-sized no-added-sugar yogurt???? Bonus: Wesley likes the banana-sweet potato flavor (although the peach-mango seems to be his fav) so we’re able to sneak in some veggies. Boo-ya!

 

*FYI Bill Nye agrees with me here. SCIENCE!

I’m all out of Words…

I’m going to steal some formatting from The Bloggess, because it’s just been one of those weeks where I’m just out of ways to describe things.

On Friday I went home sick from work and my stomach declared an emergency evacuation as soon as I made it home.

sick ferris buellers day off GIF

Matt handled daycare pick and baby-watching like a champ.

Then later that night HE got sick.

plague doctor GIF

But we managed to survive the weekend.

homer simpson mess GIF

I went back to work on Monday, feeling more or less human.

Then I get a call from Matt telling me he’s taking Wesley to the pediatrician. Turns out Wesley has croup (baby laryngitis) but thankfully doesn’t have any respiratory complications, and is just hilariously squeaky.

Tuesday I wake up feeling legitimately pretty good.

time season GIF

Then a few hours later I get hit with a wave of body aches and awful and have to go home early. Again

sick parks and rec GIF

Matt comes home learns my temp is 102.1 and convinces me to go to urgent care. They test me for strep, influenza, and throw in a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia. Everything comes back negative so they decide to just treat me for the flu anyway.

medicine is not a science doctor GIF

12 hours after taking my first dose of Tamiflu, I no longer feel like I’m dying.

job read GIF

As of early this afternoon I’ve been fever-free for 24 hours! I can snuggle my baby again!

polar bear love GIF

And then I noticed these rashy spots on my hands.

oh shit GIF

So I texted a friend and yup, it sounds suspiciously similar to when she caught Hand Foot and Mouth from her son.

kill me ok GIF

So now I really just need to disinfect everything….possibly without touching it.

kids school GIF

I’m REALLY hoping I’m just paranoid at this point.  Wish me luck?

sick flu GIF

 

Update:  Woke up with more rashy spots on my hands and made a doctor’s appointment. The nurse took one look at me and asked “Do you have kids?” We have confirmed Hand Foot and Mouth.

frustrated this just in GIF by Homes.com

 

Images via Giphy

And Then Our House Rebelled

Image via Giphy

Around 3:30am on Saturday our smoke detector decided to lose its shit.  It started beeping and loudly announcing “low battery!” Around 4am Matt decided to go an rip out the batteries.  That was when he discovered that the smoke detector in the hallway is hardwired. Yup,  our smoke alarm woke us up at 3:30am because the backup battery was bad.

Luckily we had extra batteries, so Matt grabbed a replacement…only to find that the previous battery was also rather corroded and the gunk left on the battery connectors was now impeding its ability to sense the new battery.

Now, I’m still in bed at this point so all I hear is Matt shuffling around the house like he’s playing some twisted game of Marco Polo with the smoke alarm. Then the alarm suddenly starts shrieking “Fire! Warning carbon monoxide! Fire! Warning carbon monoxide!” I start laughing like an idiot because now I’m convinced our smoke detector is just straight-up broken and of course that would happen at 4am.

Turns out Matt hit the test button to see if that would act like a reset and get the alarm to recognize the new battery. It didn’t work. Obviously.  So now it’s 4:10am and I start googling how to remove a corroded battery because it’s either that or flee to a hotel.

In case you’re wondering, vinegar will clean off battery corrosion. You should really use gloves/eye protection, and of course be very careful around the electrical workings of anything–especially when it’s still connected to power.

You’re welcome.

After Matt and I properly woke up for the day, we went on a walk to get breakfast since we’re having a January heat-wave at the moment.* When we got back, I went to haul in the baby gear and the baby, and Matt stayed out to salt the walkways. I left Wesley snoozing in his stroller next to the door while I dropped the diaper bag and pastries inside, then turned to go back out and grab the baby.

Only the backdoor wouldn’t open.

I checked the locks. It was unlocked. I fiddled with the locks (both the deadbolt and the simple lock for the latch we never use). Nothing. Was it stuck on something? Nope.

W.T.F.?

I finally went out the front door, walked around the back and tried to shove it open vs pull it open. No dice. So I tried and force it open with my shoulder TV cop style. Ouch. Finally I gave it a good swift kick (just to show it who’s boss), collected Wesley and schlepped around to the front door.

When Matt was done salting, he repeated everything I had just tried and nothing worked for him either.  It turns out that the bottom doorknob (which controls the latch) had inexplicably broken, so the knob could no longer retract the latch. This is a vital part of being able to open a door.

Step 1 was to run to the hardware store and buy a new latch set.  I also picked up a matching deadbolt because I really didn’t like the existing brass one we had so hey, excuse to update! We thought Step 2 would be as simple as taking off the door knob and wiggling the inner workings around. Nope. The inner workings were well and truly busted.

Matt went through our tool stash to try and find something he could shove between the frame and the door to push the latch back in,** but it still wouldn’t budge.  He asks me if I have any brilliant ideas, to which I reply “sure” and then immediately get to googling.***

It turns out this sort of thing is not unheard of and found a fairly lengthy thread in a DIY forum dedicated to it. Long story short, if your latch is properly busted (like in our case) there isn’t an easy fix. The general consensus is 1) don’t bother taking the door off the hinges because that often doesn’t help and 2) either bust out your hack saw or call a locksmith.

We chose the hacksaw option and it took Matt around an hour to cut through.

(We set the knob back in place to block some of the draft)

Thankfully installing our new latch and deadbolt was a piece of cake. Matt was very confused because I decided to try Kwikset Smartkey locks that let you re-key them yourself.  They were more expensive that the standard locks, but cheaper than bringing in a locksmith (and we really didn’t want 3 different keys for our house). They are SUPER simple to use to, so we were able to get our 2 back locks on the same key as our front lock in about a minute.

Once the weather legitimately warms up we’ll also paint the the rest of the door frame and repaint the door, since it looks a little sad at the moment.

Matt looked up the security of these locks and it sounds like they’re no better or worse than a lock that would require a professional to re-key. Plus, as one person put it: your house is only as secure as its weakest point and we all have windows.

So that was our Saturday.  We woke up to a demon smoke alarm and later I got locked inside the house. I have a feeling I’ve offended the DIY spirits in some way or else our house has spontaneously acquired a poltergeist. Maybe I should turn on our gas stove and shake some sage from our spice cabinet over it… If that doesn’t work, we are surrounded by churches so I could probably round up an old priest and a young priest.

 

*In Minnesota a winter heat-wave means anything over 30 degrees. Over the last 2 days I have seen 2 people outside in short sleeves, one guy in shorts, and several without jackets.

**During all of this we’re working from inside the house, so you have access to that tiny gap.  The outside of the door frame has trim pieces covering up this space.

***This is how I solve problems at work too. People think I’m smart, but really I just figure out good search terms.

A-Door-able

Sorry, couldn’t resist. Matt’s propensity for punning is apparently rubbing off on me.

One of the (many) random “features” of this house was the lack of a closet door in Wesley’s nursery. We originally put up a tension rod and curtain, but that just didn’t look terribly finished and we’ve been meaning to get a proper door up there for ages.

By some crazy stroke of luck, the door frame was actually a standard size.* By some other crazy stroke of luck, I was able to find a 5-panel door that was a reasonable match.  Not perfect, but for $50 it was pretty damn good! I’m pretty sure the only way I could have found a better match would have been to order a custom door which would have been super pricey. I’ve already mentioned that our house work is much more renovation than restoration, so the investment in a custom door just wouldn’t have been worth it in this case.

So door. $50. Good deal. Part of the reason it was so cheap is because we ordered a door slab vs a pre-hung door. The difference is just what it sounds like. A door slab is just a slab of wood–no hinges, no pre-drilled anything. A pre-hung door is both the door and door frame already connected by hinges. One of these is a little easier to deal with, but we didn’t choose that one.

Because we had an existing frame, we first needed to check the fit. The frame may have been a standard size, but unfortunately it wasn’t square.** In order to get the door to fit properly, we had to plane off a good chunk from every side. This would have been super easy, except for the way hollow-core doors are constructed.

Planing is meant to happen with the with the grain, but at the top and bottom of the door you hit the vertical supports of the frame, and it’s REALLY hard to go against the grain.  Matt ultimately took a hand saw to the edges–he figured out how much we needed to take off from the corner, sawed that off, and planed the rest down to that point.

After planing (lots and lots of planing), I took a palm sander to all the edges to smooth them out nicely. And yes, we were totally working on our upstairs landing since we had to keep checking the fit of the door and didn’t want to be constantly hauling it up and down the stairs.

To add the door knob, we bought a simple kit that came with a guide and hole saw bits for a drill. The guide clamps onto the door and then you just drill on through.  We managed to position our door knob right over one of the cross supports on the door so it was a little more difficult to drill through, but not a huge problem.

 

Mort likes to supervise things.

The hinges were a bit more problematic. The frame already had places for the hinges, and we even had some extra hinges that were original to the house… we just had to mount said hinges to the door itself. You can get hinge kits like the door knob kit, but they usually require a router, which we don’t have, so we decided to half-ass it. Typically you would route out only the exact size of the hinge, so you’d leave a little strip of wood along the edge.  Instead, Matt just planned out the entire depth of the frame to accommodate the depth of the hinge.*** It’s only noticeable from inside the closet though (and only if you know what to look for), so not a big deal.

Whoa! It’s a door! That opens and closes! Craziness!

Don’t mind the random futon.  We did some furniture shifting and need to figure out a permanent home for it.

My only real disappointment with this door is the knob. I assumed I’d be able to switch out the actual knob on a new latch set. Wrong. Current latch sets are designed to interlock and screw together in a way that makes switching out any one part of them impossible. House of Antique Hardware has vintage-looking knobs/latches designed to fit modern construction, but I can’t quite justify spending $140 on a closet door knob… although I am scoring an extra bonus this year at work…

 

 

* “Standard,” “square,” and “level,” are terms that don’t tend to exist when dealing with 100+ year old houses.

** See what I mean?

*** And only planed off a small amount of his thumbnail in the process.