carolinainmymind

can't you see the sunshine….

Well, what happened to April?

I don’t know about you, but those winter months seem to drag by.  Then it is Spring and the months seem to pick up speed.  April was certainly that way.

I have been having camera issues.  So no pictures.  But then it finally occurred to me that I have a tablet which takes pictures.  Of course it took me about an hour to get my tablet to talk to my laptop and get just the few  pictures that I wanted,  transferred.  Finally, I got it working.

So a brief recap of April.  It was still cold at night.  Hydrangea was still wearing a towel on many nights.  Robins appeared on the lawn wearing hats, gloves and mufflers, asking for directions back to Florida.  Ben’s nephew and two of his daughters blew in from Kansas for a soccer tournament in Greensboro.  We toddled up to meet them for lunch.  Before Easter I started working on stenciling a faux tile pattern on the steps.  Who knew that would take so long.  Each step took about 3 hours total and had to be done in stages.  What with doctors’ appointments and exercise classes I would fit short 2 hour work sessions.  (American steps, 10 inches, Italian hips much larger.  I could really only perch on that little edge for so long anyway)  Finally, I finished at the end of the month.

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Before

 

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after

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I also touched up the backs of the steps.  They had gotten scuffed.  See how they go from dark to light.  I used those colors and the gold that is on the wall  and just a bit of red that is near Ben’s office that you can’t see.

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So that is April.  Already exciting things for May….

 

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The Artist’s Dilemna

I am finally getting to do the ‘fun’ projects.  A little behind the schedule that I had set, but slowly getting there.  It is hard to find time to do anything when I have to make three meals a day, make sure Ben is dressed and has everything he needs, keep the place reasonably clean, keep up with appointments, order drugs, and oh yeah, the mess caused by my brother’s death.  The nursing home, which insists they do everything perfectly, used some made-up middle initial for his name.  I am working on getting that fixed so that I can start to file paperwork with the government organizations that need to know.  The ones that think I should be filing his taxes.  Yeah, right, that’s going to happen.

Anyway, all this delay gave me time to consider things.  I have been working on my bath room.  I hung pictures.  I repurposed a piece of furniture to hold all the bottles of detergent.  (I blame Harris-Teeter for having 6 bottles of laundry soap.  I mean when it is buy 2 get 3 free…. am I supposed to turn that down?)  I put up a shelf for towels.  And that left the cherry blossoms that I wanted to paint on the wall.

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This was my inspiration.  Then I got bogged down on buying paint.  I am totally spoiled by living in Cameron Village where most everything you need is available.  Except a variety of craft supplies.  I consider it a ‘hike’ to drive out to the suburbs to go to a big box store with a variety of paints.  So I finally got around to buying some paint.

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All ready to start.  I decided to sketch the branches in using water color pencil.

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Then I started coloring them in a bit.

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and decided that I have much more control with pencils than if I was using paint.

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So now I am trying to decide if I want to finish the fleshing out the drawing all the way or leave it with that sort of  unfinished sketch book look.

I have also been considering the space behind the glass over the stove.

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My plan has always been to do reverse glass painting on that piece of glass.  But the more I look at it, the more I think it might actually be too much.  There is already a lot going on in a very small space.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll leave it plain.  SHUTTER!!!!

And I’m thinking about the steps.

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Three of them were replaced and need to be finished.  My plan is to paint a faux runner.  So far I can’t settle on a design.

Oh, the woes and problems that I have.

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Catching up

I really don’t know what, if anything, I have done on our condo since I last wrote about it.  We had a very busy November and December so I took a little break from trying to get anything done.  January is January.  What can I say.  There are basketball games to watch and books to read!

My biggest push to get things done was to hang pictures.  We have a lot of things to hang.  Years and years ago (way before smart phones where everyone carries every photo they have ever taken around with them) I started taking pictures of our trips or when we got together with friends and having the good ones enlarged and printed.  I decided the best way to display them was to use plain, clear, plastic box frames.  Inexpensive, don’t add or detract from the photo and they go on sale.   And way before it was a ‘thing’ I took pictures of food.  Especially at outdoor markets.

Our condo is oriented with east and west windows through which, at various times of day, strong sunlight comes in.  Before hanging too much I wanted to observe the light patterns to avoid fading of things that will be hanging.   In October, I started on this wall outside the upstairs bedroom and bath.

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All the shelves were full of frames.  One by one the frames committed suicide by jumping off the shelf.  I use these little shelves because the holes in the back of each frame are different and I would never be able to get all the pictures straight.  I experimented with all sorts of putties and potions to help keep them attached to the wall and finally found a 3 M tape product that works.  Two weekends ago while watching basketball, I washed all the frames.  I had the tape.  Pictures in frames, all staged in rows on the bed.  Tuesday morning, the time allotted to start hanging I was all ready to start putting pictures up.  Oh no, our internet died.  My whole Tuesday morning had to be spent trying  to get that working again.  Now Ben will tell you, I can be mean as a snake when things are not going the way I planned.  Finally, I was able to get back to and finish this project.

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I am pleased with how it turned out.  It is a lot of pictures.  The uniformity of them and grouping by themes makes the display work.  Well, that is what I think.  After all of these went up, I still have 30 more.  A future post will show where they ended up.

I have also managed to finish the chandeliers for the two pendant lights over the dining table.

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These were just naked bulbs.  My parents had saved all the wooden spoons.  I found these blue and white chop sticks at one of the Asian markets.  Used a thin  piece of light colored wood veneer that I glued around a wooden embroidery hoop.  Getting the spoons and chop sticks to stay on a curved surface was the trick.  Finally, several coats of Mod-Podge did the trick.

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I am real tickled with how both of these projects turned out.  The man who rented from us most of the time we were in Italy was by the other day.  He was interested in seeing all the changes we had made.  I know the man’s taste.  He is a minimalist.   His eyes could not have been bigger.  Almost overwhelmed by all that we have in here.  But, I am pretty sure he approved of the changes we have made.

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Fall

We didn’t really have Fall in our part of Italy.  Lots of non-decidous trees; pines, cypress, cedars, live oaks.  This is our first full fall back.  Here in NC because it has been so warm still (it was 80 degrees on Monday, 11/6) the trees are just starting to turn now that we are having a cold spell.

The hoo-ha over Monday being the last warm day for a while prompted me to go out and plant daffodil bulbs in the front.  Earlier in the summer I thinned the cannas.  Many years ago my neighbor was an older man of European descent who loved to garden and had the beds around the front of his unit and mine looking very nice.  He is long gone and no one has really touched them since.  The cannas had taken over, even  covering a couple of azaleas.

There is a lawn care service that comes every Monday at the CRACK of dawn.  In early September they put out grass seed, on the day that hurricane Maria was supposed to swing by.  Well, we got about a teaspoon of rain from the storm and no other rain for over 30 days.  I realized that the seed was not going to come up unless someone watered.  And my neighbors were getting married at the end of September so I thought it would be nice if that grass grew.  So I watered, two times a day, every day for over two weeks.  The Monday, after spreading grass seed, the lawn care staff was back, cutting, raking and blowing.  The next Monday the same thing happened again.  That was when I gave up watering the entire front.  What is the point if someone is going rake/disturb all the seed.  I did finally find a lawn patch kit that I spread on the bare spot by our door and barricaded it off so no will tramp through it.  I have been watering again.  Reseeded another time and finally have a reasonable amount of grass coming up.  Even though I whine about the lawn care folks I do appreciate that they come and cut and rake and blow leaves so that I don’t have to do that.

Back to my daffodil bed, while thinning the cannas I discovered some day lilies.  I also went on Craig’s List and traded some of my cannas for more day lillies.  So every daffodil got a day lily friend planted with it.  After the daffs do their thing, the day lillies should be coming up and will fill in and cover the dying daff foliage.  Behind them is some bee balm that did not do well in the planter in the back and a few other prennials.  That whole front bed should be pretty low maintenance next summer but blooming and colorful.

This is at least the 4th daffodil bed that I have started.  I always think of my grand mother when I plant daffodils.  She had them in her yard in Kentucky.  I think I helped her plant some.  She died in early November many years ago.  So it is nice to remember her as I plant bulbs and start a new flower bed.  Think she would be happy that I did.

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When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang

                                                                                         Shakespeare

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Feathering the Nest

When I tell the story about moving back to the US from Italy, one of the things that people always realize and comment on is “Oh, I guess you had to buy a car.”  A few folks will say “Oh, and furniture too.”  I guess the others think that we moved furniture…. Well we didn’t.  And we didn’t store that much.  Fortunately, our condo is so small we don’t need much.

From our experience where we rented I knew we needed a piece of furniture that could act as counterspace in the kitchen and table space for meals.   We looked online at free-standing islands, tables with storage, just about every configuration/name we could think of.  To me most of them looked exactly like what would be seen in any American kitchen.  I just couldn’t cope.  The only one I came close to liking was at Williams and Sonoma and was custom-built.  And they custom built the price too.  Then I hoped to get some one to build one for us but gave up on that idea too.  So good old DIY was the answer.

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Capital City Lumber to the rescue.  And these really cool moulded plastic forms.

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These forms allow someone to build shelves with straight cuts, no angles, no need to ‘toenail’ which can be hard if you don’t have a lot of DYI skills.  When we moved in, our friend Pat put this together for me.  As a temporary measure we used a door on top.

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When Wayne (the man who made my Murphy Bed) came over to talk about the bed I realized he was probably just the man to make the table top.  So we talked about it.  And he agreed.  When he delivered the bed, he took away the table base.  For a few weeks our door/table balanced on top of big plastic tubs and we got by.  I was very excited when Wayne returned with the table top.

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Wayne followed the measurements that I wanted.  The table is 5′ by 4′.  The counter top part, what we use most of the time is almost 3′.  He had just the hinges to mount the other part which is now a leaf that folds down.  And is down most of the time.

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Here’s what it looks like open.  We can comfortably seat 6.  8 in a pinch.  So the first weekend in November we had Pat (the clever man who put it together in the first place) and Debby over for ‘Duckappaloosa!’.   And the table worked very well.

I am ready now to declare the ground floor more or less done.  We have all the pieces of furniture that we need down here.  Pictures are hung.  The tops of two pieces of furniture are covered with things.  A few hours of focus and channeling Marie Kondo will fix that.  There are some projects that still need to be done.  They have always been on the ‘winter projects’ schedule.  I’ll get to them.  In a few weeks I’ll try to get to a before and after post.  We are very lucky that it has turned out so well.

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Sleeping with sharks under the stars

The majority of the furniture that we stored for 10 years was storage pieces.  Some that I had bought and four bookcases that had been my parents.  My father had gotten the school book cases from the Louisville Public Schools.  Before I left their home, he and I refinished one and I used it as a china cabinet for many years.  The others had been in their house.  When I closed their house, I moved those three up to Virginia.  And then into storage in North Carolina.  And then out of storage.  Two went upstairs (a real treat to move up the steps) and have clothes and pictures.  Two remained down.  The former china cabinet has become my pantry.  And this one has become a Murphy Bed.

 

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Murphy bed (in North America), also called a wall bedpull down bed, or fold-down bed, is a bed that is hinged at one end to store vertically against the wall, or inside of a closet or cabinet.

History

The bed is named for William Lawrence Murphy (1876–May 23, 1957), who applied for his first patents around 1900. According to legend, he was wooing an opera singer, but living in a one-room apartment in San Francisco, and the moral code of the time frowned upon a woman entering a man’s bedroom. Murphy’s invention converted his bedroom into a parlor, enabling him to entertain.[1] Earlier foldup beds had existed, and were even available through the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog,[2] but Murphy introduced pivot and counterbalanced designs for which he received a series of patents, including one for a “Disappearing Bed” on June 18, 1912[3] and another for a “Design for a Bed” on June 27, 1916.[4]

Murphy beds are used for space-saving purposes, much like trundle beds, and are popular where floor space is limited, such as small homes, apartments, hotels, mobile homes and college dormitories. In recent years, Murphy bed units have included options such as lighting, storage cabinets, and office components. They have seen a resurgence in popularity in the early 2010s due to the weak economy, with children moving back in with their parents and families choosing to renovate homes rather than purchasing larger ones.[5]

In 1989, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the term “Murphy Bed” had entered common usage so thoroughly that it was no longer eligible for trademark protection.[6]

Designs and models

Most Murphy beds do not have box springs. Instead, the mattress usually lies on a wood platform or wire mesh and is held in place so as not to sag when in a closed position. The mattress is attached to the bed frame, often with elastic straps to hold the mattress in position when the unit is folded upright. Piston-lifts or torsion springs make modern Murphy beds easy to lower and raise.

Since the first model several other variations and designs have been created, including: sideways-mounted Murphy beds, Murphy bunk beds, and solutions that include other functions. Murphy beds with tables or desks that fold down when the bed is folded up are popular, and there are also models with sofas[7] and shelving solutions.[8]

Hazards

When attempting to pull a Murphy bed down from the wall, if not installed properly, it is possible that it could collapse on the operator. In 1982, a drunk man suffocated inside a closed Murphy bed,[9] and two women were entrapped and suffocated by an improperly installed wall bed in 2005.[10]

In popular culture

Murphy beds were a common setup for comic scenes in early cinema, including in silent films. Among the films which use Murphy beds as comic props are Charlie Chaplin‘s 1916 One AM, several Three Stooges shorts, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the James Bond film You Only Live TwiceMel Brooks‘s Silent MovieThe Pink Panther Strikes AgainThe Great Muppet Caper, and in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

It’s also used as a gag in the Tintin album Red Rackham’s Treasure, when Professor Calculus unknowingly activates a Murphy bed while Thompson and Thomson are sitting on it.

In the popular PC video games The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, Murphy beds have the potential to kill playable characters, an allusion to the hazards of pulling them down.

 

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Pantry on the right, Wayne who made the Murphy Bed in the center and the Murphy Bed on the left on the day Wayne delivered it.  Wayne owns The Master’s Craftsman.  We decided on a Murphy Bed to make the ground floor look a little less like a bedroom and to give us more floor space when it is folded up.  I am really tickled that I found Wayne on Craig’s List and that he was willing and able to do the work.  And that he listened, understood what I wanted and did it.  Many times when you are a small woman your ideas or desires can be ignored or poo pooed by workmen.  Wayne did not do that at all!

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It took a while, but I got it painted.  Found a cabinet that fits between the two and now holds cook books.

Wayne was excited about   using an existing cabinet to make a bed.  Normally he makes these beds from scratch with woods that the client picks.  He is a true craftsman.  Notice how he carefully kept the original handle and lock and key.  Inside, he reused the wood from the shelves to make the head board and the frame to attach the bed to.  I like the original wood and choose not to paint it.

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After a few nights of sleeping in it I realized I could have stars!  So when Wayne was back a few days later to deliver our table (more about the table in another post) he drilled the holes that I wanted in the top.

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Can you see the Big Dipper?  They twinkle too.  Sooo cool!

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Today I put on my shark sheets.  (Southern Tide brand at Belks.  Very soft and a great shade of blue).  So I’m sleeping under the stars with the sharks and tickled pink!

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Getting Ready for Fall

Well I finally got my bed.  I had a Murphy bed made out of one of the old school book cabinets that my parents had.  There were 4 and I kept all of them.  Somehow, years ago, I knew I would need good storage.  Two are painted white and are upstairs crammed full (mostly of things that came from my parents’ house) and two are down, one is my pantry, the other now a Murphy bed.  I am very pleased with it.  More about that later

 

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Wayne, the bed maker from The Master’s Craftsman click here if you want to see his site

In between the two cabinets I found a kitchen cabinet at Restore (the Habitat for Humanity outlet) that holds cookbooks.  Today I have been painting (as my father would say) a hunk of wood, faux stone, to be the counter top for it.  I certainly channeled my inner Richard for that.  Tuesday the 31st , Wayne will bring back my island base and a table top for it.  Finally!  I will be almost ready to declare the downstairs more or less finished.  We can have folks over for dinner!  What fun!

 

But of course the ice maker remains but a dream.  It worked for 2 weeks and then started over flowing, making an iceberg.  After a few weeks the distributor replaced the fridge.  That icemaker worked for 3 maybe 4 weeks and then started doing the same thing.  That was July.  Various fixes have been offered including a full refund, replacement of the same again, or a different fridge (stuck out 4” more) or wait to see if manufacture can come up with a fix.  We have tried several fixes and are now waiting on a new different idea…..

Anyway the outstanding planter on the edge of the deck is a big success.  Remember this is what it looked like in the Spring when it was first planted

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So nice and orderly

And now.  Before I begin  to move a few plants that just didn’t do well in the shade and the ones that need to be wintered over

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Finally I got the whole jungle thing going on.  Now if we could just get rid of the UGLY school buses.  But that is next year’s battle.   Our friends Jim and BK will be happy to know that I have pulled out the asparagus ferns and they are just waiting for them to come pick them up and take them to their winter home in their basement.  Just kidding!  Jim and BK were good friends to care for that fern for 10 years and keep it alive.  I divided in the spring and small bits of it will be wintering in Ben’s shower.

Still warm here and dry.  The HOA’s crack gardening staff spread grass seed on the day that one of the hurricanes was supposed to hit us.  It didn’t.  We got about 5 tablespoons of rain.  For 2 weeks I watered the grass seed.  But the gardening staff kept coming back mowing and raking leaves and blowing them away.  And all the grass seed too.  So I gave up.  We have a very bare patch on both sides of the walk to our door.  I found a grass seed patch package that has a papery mulch, seed and fertilizer.  I put that down, barricaded the area off to keep the crack gardening staff and their machines AWAY and we almost have grass.  I have also been working on taming the giant patch of cannas that was out front.  Found a nice clump of day lillies that had been over whelmed by the cannas.  And I have some daffodil bulbs to be planted.  So we are busy busy here.

 

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How’s the garden doing?

Very well, thank you.

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It is quite jungle like.  Sitting in the rocker I am almost hidden.  I admit to enjoying popping up and scaring the dogs next door.  Now that the heat has broken I hope to be able to sit out there much more.

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I am picking a tomato or two every week and a handful of green beans.

This fall I plan to move the bee balm, which has not bloomed at all, to the front.  Probably not enough sun for it back on the deck.  There is one pot (not pictured) with scarlet sage and blue something (name just flew out of my mind) that is the only thing that the hummingbird visits.   I plan to add more of those pots next year.  Maybe rotating them from front to back so they get some sun.  I need to try a different variety of tomato.  This year it was a plant labeled ‘heirloom variety’.  Not impressed.  Next year I should look for Black Russian.

The deck and planter are one of my favorite parts of our renovation.  I am so glad that our contractor suggested the planter box instead of a regular deck rail.

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We’re all about hydraulics and velcro here

So back in June, Ben received his new motorized wheel chair.  It is a big one.

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Here he is, being fitted, along with Dan from Stalls Medical.  The chair has all kinds of hydraulics for lift and different speeds and just about everything, including a joy stick which neither one of us can  operate.  Well, we can, but it is very sensitive and we can’t make the chair go straight.

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This cartoon was most appropriate.

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While the ramp on the deck had been built there was no landing pad at the end of it.  There was a difficult transition to make from the height of the sidewalk to the ramp.  The very skilled concrete man was able to do it.

 

We are still waiting on the curb cut in the sidewalk from the parking lot.  I thought it was just a matter of asking the city for one.  But, nooooooo.  The city could force the home owners association to upgrade the sidewalks all over the neighborhood if the association was applying for a permit to do some work.  Since they are not, the association can not be forced to do it.  I had to meet with the chairman for the grounds committee and show him what we want.  He has to wait for a bid and then the association will meet to talk about it and figure out who is going to pay for it.  So we’ll see.

We were able to arrange for an occupational therapist to come to give Ben driving lessons.  After all, when we all first learned to drive we just didn’t get behind the wheel and go.  A lot of practise was involved.  And that is what we both need.

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Out in the courtyard

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Tuckered out after his driving lesson.  No, just kidding.  This is more hydraulics.  Ben’s new lift chair.  It fully reclines and will bring him to an almost standing position.

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His new combat boots are shoes and something called ‘Moore’ braces that help with balance.

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The shoes velcro close.  Thank goodness.  Ben has worn sandals for so long because it is so difficult to get shoes on his feet.  These are so much easier.

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Our screen door is velcroed on.  See the black velcro.  Makes it easier to take off which I had to do when the chair came in.

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My French veg carton sides are velcroed on to the shelves.  On the right you can see the white velcro where one sign is missing.  I put them up before the final electrical inspection.  Our contractor saw them and said ‘they have to come down’.  Code requires 18″ from the counter to any wood surface.  So they came down for a day or two.  This missing one needs a little glue to keep its velcro on.   I used velcro to stick the norens up on the downstairs bathroom door.

Life goes on and slowly we are getting things unpacked and tucked away or given away or sold.  Thank goodness for velcro and hydraulics.  They are making my life easier.

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Noren

Noren are traditional Japanese fabric dividers, hung between rooms, on walls, in doorways, or in windows. They usually have one or more vertical slits cut from the bottom to nearly the top of the fabric, allowing for easier passage or viewing. Wikipedia

Our condo is small.  When planning the renovation, our contractor and designer Reid suggested using an outside mounted sliding door as the entrance to the bathroom downstairs rather than a door that would open out and take up more room.  I wanted a very plain one with no panels but this one came as a kit (with the hanging hardware) and was less than a plain one with separate hardware.

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Too barn door for me.  Back in February and March I had lots of time so I started looking for ways I could camouflage this barn look.  I finally decided upon noren.

This is what the door looks like now.

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Outside

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And inside the bathroom.  (something to contemplate while ‘sitting on the throne)

I had so much fun looking at norens that I decided that this one would work well to cover the entrance to Ben’s ‘office’ (also known as his cubby hole)

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I thought I was going to like the cranes the best but I think I like these guys more.

 

 

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