Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stair Gate Tutorial

This is for my lovely readers who read my stair gate post and asked for a tutorial.  Before I start let me just remind you we tweaked the plans we followed to work for us, so you may need to do the same to make it work for you.

The first thing we did was measure the opening of our stairs.  Our walls were pretty square, so the measurement was the same up and down, but you will want to measure at the top, middle and bottom(ignoring the baseboard).  If its different, you will want to use the smallest measurement as your guide.  You will also want to measure how high above the floor you want your gate to hang and how tall you want your gate.

The next thing you need to decide is how many slats you want and how far apart you want them.  The standard if you have pets or kids is 2-3 inches apart.  This took us FOREVER to figure out with our first gate!  We were constantly playing with numbers to figure out how to evenly space our slats.  For you, I have an awesome formula to help you out.

Gate door width, minus the width of your two side rails, minus (the number of slats times the slat width) divided by (the number of slats plus)

Confused?

Okay, so for us, we have 7 slats, and in case you have no idea what the side rails are, in the picture they are the very side pieces of the gate next to the planks in the wall.  Okay, so our formula would go a little like this:

35.5-1.5(side rail width, they are each 3/4 inches)-(7*1.5(width of a 1*2 slat))/7+1
or simplified
34-10.5/8=2.9375
(Remember order of operation?  Aw, that takes me back to 6th grade:)

Rounded to the nearest 16th it would be 2 and 15/16, but I think we just rounded up to 3 to make it easier.

Okay, so now you have all your measurements and can start cutting.  Here's a picture of the inside of the gate and I will break down all the pieces.

This gate is missing the side rails, and the top 1*3 to sandwich the slats and fillets in.  The top of the gate is basically a 1*3 on bottom, with the slats and fillets in the middle, then another 1*3 on top of all that and another 1*3 to go above it all.  The bottom is exactly the same only we used 1*2's. That way the top looked a little fancier.  So the 1*3's(and the two 1*2's on bottom if you do it like ours) will all be cut @ 34 inches(remember the side rails will add an inch and a half to bring it to 35.5).  We determined the slats to be 3 inches, so you can cut however many you need(we needed 16, 8 on top and 8 on bottom).  The slats will be 37.5(remember there is a top and bottom 1*3 that will bring the total height to 39).

You can have all your wood cut at home depot, but if you can do it all at home that may be better.  That way if you mess up you can fix it yourself.  Or better yet, measure twice, cut once.  Then we used a finish, or brad nailer(you can buy one at harbor freight for around \$20) and wood glue to put it all together.

Glue the pieces down first, then nail them from the inside so you don't have to fill too many holes.  Do the fillets and slats first, then glue the front and back pieces.  Finish off with the top and side pieces and repeat for the bottom.  It should look something like this.

To complicate it a little more, we didn't care what the back looked like, so to make the front look nicer we flushed everything in the front up.  Meaning the 1*3's on top and bottom would have hung over a little in the front and back, but we decided to have no hang over in the front and about a half inch in back.  That's your call.  Also, if I could do it again,  I would make the top and bottom pieces go all 35.5 inches and cut the side rails an inch and a half shorter.  I just think it would have looked nicer.

After all of that we added a few decorative molding pieces to cover some of the seams, and here is the finished product.

We added a hidden lock in the top so that our kids wouldn't be able to open it.  For that we just used a circular saw to cut a small chunk out and smoothed it with a chisel.  Here's a close up.

Don't forget, all the measurements I posted were for OUR house, and yours will most likely be different.  This is just a guide.  Also, for those of you who have never built anything and are confused with my measurements about 1*3's and 1*2's, they are actually more like .5*1.5 and .5*2.5.  I think its just easier to say 1*2 and 1*3, so that's what they are called. :)

I hope that helps!  This is the first tutorial I've ever written, so sorry if it was confusing.  If you have any other questions feel free to email me.

Happy gate building!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Best Cake Yet

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves

The princess cakes turned out GREAT!  Really, the pictures don't do them justice.  I am always a little sad to cut into them.  It's like painting a picture and having someone tear it apart.  Oh well, it was fun to do, and we will always have the pictures.

If anyone wants to do the same for their daughter, all I did was use a small pyrex glass bowl to bake large cupcakes(or small cakes).  Since we cooked them in bowls I turned the heat to 325 and baked them for longer.  Each cake took about 40 minutes.  The princess dolls were polly pockets that my mom already had, but if you want to buy them I see them a lot at the checkout and several stores for \$5 each.  As far as decorating, I didn't end up using the cake tips.  This was all a ziploc baggie with a whole cut in the corner.  If I can do it, so can you!  I'm not even sure how much a custom cake like this would cost, but it only cost me about \$6!

Happy birthday to my little Vaeh, who made me a mother.  I love her to pieces!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tomorrow is my daughter's 5th birthday!  So, as a tradition in my family, that means we will be making some kind of fun cake.

Here are some of the fun cakes I've made for my kids in the past:
Vaeh's first with a lady bug
Joby's 2nd birthday with Funshine Bear
Joby's first birthday with a caterpillar
Vaeh's 3rd birthday with a box of crayons
Vaeh's 4th birthday with a princess castle

Wondering where Vaeh's 2nd birthday cake is?

Obviously, I did not make this.  The reason we bought it was because she was in LOVE with Kung Fu Panda.  I think my thought process was, "I can't make Kung Fu Panda, so I guess I'll just buy it".  Yeah, never again!  That cake cost me \$20 some dollars and wasn't very big.  I usually spend at the most half of that, but usually closer to \$5-8.

Not only is making your own cake cheaper, but you can do something specific for your child, and its FUN!  My kids always get into it with me and always pick what they want.

You don't need fancy equipment.  A plastic ziploc bag with the corner cut out will suffice for doing designs on most simple cakes.  However, if you want something with more fun designs like on Vaeh's castle cake I think you can get a set of cake decorating tips at walmart for not too much.  I just borrow my sister in law's set. (Thanks again Lisa!)  I also have a cousin who will take a picture of Dora, or some other character and do some kind of transfer paper.  They look awesome!  I've never done it, but here's a tutorial for those interested.

This year I am going to be making something like this:
Stay tuned to see how they turn out!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Post on Birthing

For those of you who don't know me, I've had all three of my children at home.

My first I gave birth to in my living room, my second in a birthing pool also in my living room, and my third in a birthing pool in my kitchen.  These are the highlights of my life!  I can't say enough about home birth.  My reasons were vast and varied for having them this way, but here's a few: (definitely not in order of importance)
1. We lost our insurance, and home birth is way cheaper than hospital birth.  I think the average hospital birth cost somewhere around \$10,000, whereas I paid \$1300.
2. Its actually safer than hospital birth!  Yes, that's right, look up the research.  The maternal death rate and neonatal death rates are the same, but the rate of birth injury to baby and mother is actually higher at the hospital.
3. Its so much more intimate and reverent at home.  I've never had a baby at a hospital, but I've been to a few.  It is very hectic feeling with people coming in and out, and from what I've seen the mother doesn't have much of a choice of what happens to her.  Now before you get all huffy, there are definitely hospitals that are better than others, and if the woman has a birth contract I'm sure it may also be different.  My experience is very much all about me!  In fact, this may be one of my favorite things.  People are bringing me my liquids, my foods, massaging me, letting me do what I want.  Its BEAUTIFUL!
4. After my babies are born I get to go relax in my OWN bed!  I don't know about you, but I think hospital beds are the pits.
Me, and my daughter Vaeh relaxing in bed after my son Joseph was born while my midwife and her partner weigh him.

This is one topic I could talk about for hours!

But I won't.  Instead I will just point you in the direction of some really good movies!  My absolute  FAVORITE birth video to watch is called "Birth As We Know It".  This video is probably for those women who already want, or have had a home birth.  There are some amazing births in it!  I watch it a few times every time I'm pregnant.  If you are on the fence, or are a strict hospital birther you probably won't like it.

For those women who want to learn more, or are on the fence and not sure what to do you should watch a video called "The Business of being Born".  Its a documentary by Ricki Lake and is a good jumping off point.  If you have Netflix, you can stream it from your xbox, wii, or whatever.

I am in no way going to tell every woman out there that you should have a home birth.  My wish is simply that all women were educated about her birthing options!  A lot of women just go to the hospital not knowing anything, and some have great experiences, others, not so much.   And some women need hospitals.  I just want women to be empowered to make their own decisions for their births, rather than their doctors making them for their own convenience.

There is a new movie called More Business of Being Born coming out soon, so I want to encourage anyone pregnant, wanting to get pregnant, or just simply curious to watch this movie!  Here's a link celebrity mom's talking about their births and some info about the movie.  Birth stories are my FAVORITE thing to talk about, whether hospital or home.  Birth is a beautiful thing, and my hope is that all women walk away from their births feeling happy about it, regardless of where it happened.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gardening and Self Pollinating

Wow, its been a long time!  Sorry, but I do have three kids.  You may not think that's a good excuse, but I know otherwise ;).  Seriously though, three kids keeps me BUSY!  Well, my aunt Karri posted a video with Seth Godin on Facebook and it made me re prioritize my blogging.  I could go on about it, but I won't.  If you don't know who Seth Godin is though, you should definitely Google it.

So with that said, I'd like to talk about gardening for a while.  Now, I am very much an amateur gardener.  I think I have had a garden all of three times.  Not to toot my own horn, but the second of the three was pretty AWESOME!  I wish I had a picture of it, but I don't, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Here is my third attempt at gardening

We've got squash, zucchini, red bell peppers, jalapenos, basil, cilantro, pumpkin, watermelon, cucumbers, honeydew, and a whole load of tomatoes!

Now, most of these plants I bought as starters.  I hope to start most everything myself next year, but we got kinda a late start, and starting everything from seed takes a little more forethought.

In the past when I planted my garden I pretty much thought that the plant grows its own food with no help from anything(you know, besides water, dirt and sunshine).  And that is pretty much true, but this year I've learned that some plants do need a little assistance.  I'm talking about bees, people.

For a few weeks I would get these little squash and pumpkins, but then they would fall off shortly after they arrived.  I was confused as to what was going on, so of course, I turn to youtube and the internet.  Apparently they weren't fruits, but ovaries!  Come on you guys, we all took freshman biology, you remember the lesson on flower reproduction?  THAT'S what I'm talking about!

Apparently the plant grows this ovary with a female flower on top.  The bees, or butterflies, or whatever comes to drink the nectar from the male flowers and picks up pollen with their hairy legs and transports it to the female flower.   Then BAM!  A fruit is born!
You're probably thinking, "duh, Lyndsey, come on", and a part of me knew this.  The problem is this hasn't been happening in my little garden.  I took the bees for granted, assuming they would always be there for my gardening needs.  Well, they've abandoned me this year, so I decided it was up to me to pollinate them!  Its so simple too!  So here's a female flower opened

And here's a male

All you have to do is go out in the morning, pick a male flower, pull the petals back and rub it around the female lower parts.  I know,  it sounds kinda wrong, but if the bees aren't doing their job its up to you!  And this applies to anything that needs pollination.  Pumpkins, squash, zucchini, watermelon, cucumbers, and quite a few others.
Now, I was also having the same problem with my tomatoes.  Only when I did my research, I found that tomatoes have hermaphrodite tendencies.  That means they have both the female and male parts in the flower, and all you need is a little wind to mix them.  Well, there's plenty of wind in Santaquin, so that wasn't my problem.  My problem was I had too many suckers literally sucking the plants energy so there is none left for fruit.

What is a sucker you say?  Well, better than try to explain it you better just watch how to prune suckers.

Happy gardening!