Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to Make a Window Screen


Hello! Ever had a window screen in your home get broken or lost and needed a replacement? Ever found yourself wondering just how to go about getting a replacement screen? Ever wondered what it would cost to replace a screen?

Well, as luck would have it we recently found ourselves needing a bunch of replacement screens. After purchasing our "new" 1970's colonial home, we of course had a few "surprises" pop up. (Seems the unexpected is one of the few things you should always expect when buying a home.) Thankfully we haven't had to tackle anything too huge, and the previous owners really did a fantastic job for the most part of maintaining and updating the home.

However, one of the things we underestimated was the impact of screen replacement on the windows. The beautiful front-to-back breeze that blows so freshly through the house when the windows are open is one of the many special features we love so much about our new home. Upon closer inspection, though, we noticed a number of windows that were missing screens. And we had previously noted that the screens that were in place were very odd-looking "half-screens" that covered only the lower half of the windows. For the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would install a "half-screen," which only allows you to open the lower half of the window - something we're not a huge fan of doing on our upper floors with a 4-year-old running around (not to mention the 13-year-old)! And even if we had decided to just suck it up and stay with the half screens, several of them had tears in the mesh so needed to be repaired or replaced anyway...

My first thought was, No big deal! How expensive could it possibly be to replace a bunch of screens? Well, unfortunately I very quickly found out the unfortunate answer to that question. After researching the issue and consulting with a contractor, here's what I discovered: The good news was that our windows were made by Harvey, a good quality window I was told. The bad news was that our windows are not a stocked size, but were instead custom ordered to fit the existing openings. Bottom line is we were looking at cost of $130 each for fiberglass replacement screens or $155 each for aluminum replacement screens.

Right off the bat those prices sounded really, really terrible so I quickly did the math and confirmed the shocking price: To deal with the most pressing priority, replacing the 13 upper-floor window screens, would be 13 x $130 = $1,690!!! Needless to say, even if our new house hadn't already sucked our "move-in & update" budget dry, there was never a 4-digit place in it for screen replacement!

So with Plan "A" down the tubes, I set off to discover Plan "B" for our screen situation. This turned out to be way easier and WAY cheaper than I expected. After a few google searches I landed on a screen kit sold for $13 by Home Depot.

And I already knew about (and had experience installing) the not-included screen mesh, which you can get in various sizes and colors. But to give you an idea, here's a 25' long roll (cost = $20) which is enough for between 6-8 standard windows.

So I ran the numbers: $13 for the screen kit, about $3 for the screen mesh. If this worked, total cost per screen would be just $16! That meant that at $16 per screen it would cost us just $208 to replace all 13 upper-floor screens! If it worked...I was ecstatic at the price difference, but equally skeptical that this would really work. Seemed too good to be true and was doubtful that at $16 per screen we'd end up with solid, functional screens that we could actually use on our house and which would actually look good.

So I set out to do a test. I bought one screen kit and the mesh, and after about 30 minutes we had our first fully functional screen which I could hardly tell apart from the factory screens.

It turns out that if you're careful with the measurements, it's actually quite simple to put these homemade screens together using the screen kits. So easy in fact, that I set up an assembly line utilizing our 13 and 11 year old boys Hunter and Mitch to "mass-produce" the rest!

Here they are in "action" (note that while their enthusiasm for the project was slightly less than mine, they nonetheless got the job done when it counted!)


And after a really late night of screen-making, here are the boys collecting their reward - snacks and drinks at the Shell gas station & convenience store around the corner!

Now, as far as the how-to's of making your own replacement screens, let's start with the tools you need to do this job: tape measure, pencil, hacksaw, mitre box, screen spline roller, flat-head screwdriver, and box cutter or utility knife with razor blade.

You will need to purchase one screen kit for each screen you want to make, and you will need to purchase enough screen mesh to cover the number of screens you want to make.

Note that it's less expensive per screen to buy the longer rolls of screen mesh, so worth the time to calculate the total amount of mesh you need and then buy the largest roll(s) you can to cover that amount (just make sure you include a calculations a few inches of excess as you'll actually cut the mesh longer than needed and then trim off the excess later).

Step 1: Using your tape measure, measure the screen dimensions. This is easiest if you're replacing an existing screen - just measure the height and width of that screen's frame. If you are making a screen for a window that doesn't currently have a screen, you'll need to carefully measure the height and width of the actual opening that the screen will fit into. (Note that on the window frame there will likely be a lip or overhang that two of the edges of the screen will fit under when installed, so make sure to include that in your measurements.)


Step 2: Using your tape measure and pencil, measure and mark the 4 pieces of frame (top, bottom, and sides) to the size needed based on the measurements you took for your screen opening.

Note that you'll need to mark the actual lengths of the 4 frame pieces to be shorter than your actual measurements to account for the length of the corner pieces that connect the 4 frame pieces together. This is covered in the screen kit instructions so read carefully and adjust your measurements accordingly. In the case of our screen kit we subtracted 1.5" from the height measurement and 1.5" from the width measurement, as directed in the screen kit instructions.

Step 3: Using the hacksaw and mitre box, cut the 4 pieces of screen frame to the lengths you measured and marked them to.

Step 4: Connect the 4 pieces of screen frame together using the 4 corner pieces. Make sure to include the 2 metal spring inserts in with the corners on one side of the screen (doesn't matter which side).



Step 5: Lay the assembled screen frame down on a hard surface (floor or table, something you don't mind getting some cut marks on). Make sure the side with the spline groove is facing up. Using your knife (or a pair of scissors) cut a piece of screen mesh a couple inches longer than the screen frame and lay on top of the frame.

Step 6: Starting in one corner, lay the end of the spline on top of the mesh, right on top of the spline groove. Use the spline roller to push the corner of the spline (and the mesh) into the spline groove and then, pushing down firmly, carefully roll the spline into the spline groove all the way to the corner of the frame.

Then, bend the spline 90 degrees and roll the spline and mesh into the groove on the next length of the frame.

Continue this along the last 2 lengths of frame until the spline reaches all the way back to the corner where you began. As you're rolling the spline into the spline groove around the frame, be sure you don't let the mesh get either too tight or too loose. If it gets stretched too tight the mesh will tear and you'll have to start all over with a new piece of mesh. If it's too lose it will buckle and it won't stretch across the screen opening smoothly.

Step 7. Using the knife, cut the spline where it joins back to the corner where you started, then use the flathead screwdriver to carefully push the corners of the spline into the groove.

Then go around the frame one more time with the spline roller rolling along the spline to make sure it's seated firmly all the way into the spline groove.

Step 8. Finally, use your knife to carefully trim off the excess screen mesh around the outer edge of the spline. Make sure you run the knife blade along the metal edge of the screen frame groove and don't cut too close to the spline, or else the mesh could become loose and pop out of the groove.

You now have a functional and professional looking screen than is ready to install!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dining Room Makeover

We did quite a few things before we moved into our new 1970's colonial. We cleaned, took down old curtains, painted & carpeted & added rods inside closets...

Hunter's handy work on one of his late work nights

...painted everywhere, added a garbage disposal ~i can't even imagine living without one of those in our home, i'd be in the loony bin~ or at least in the loony bin doing dishes. Dave & the boys did a huge project of making all new screens for the windows because half of them didn't have them. Dave also had to fix the little 'thingies' on the window that helps them stay up. He fixed ovens, added sconces

You can feel the energy as Dave does these lights 10 minutes before football
& maneuvered cords at midnight...  I have no idea how he knows how to do just about everything but he does.  There are lots of possible blog posts on the horizon from us under the DIY category I think.

With our 3 boys in football now we've taken a break from the home projects & are hoping to pick back up in the winter when basketball starts & things chillax a little bit. I think we're going to start with replacing all the door knobs upstairs. They're the old latch handles that are just plain weird & impossibly hard to function with. One day Mitch some how locked himself in his room & we seriously couldn't get him out. Finally, after about 20 minutes Hunter busted down the door with brute force.

Anyhow~ back to why I am writing today~ our Dining Room.


This was the previous owners set up
and after...

our set up & hunter managed to make it in the picture

another angle

Love these new lights!!

We had an electrician put in the light above the table. Dave was able to do the sconces himself & the paint above is Ben Moore Robins Nest.

Our dining room table I had growing up & the chairs are from World Market (don't think they sell them anymore).

More to come soon & happy friday,


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

All caught up

Of course now that we finally have a blog i have no idea where to begin. I will prepare you... David is an outstanding writer just like his mom. I am sure he WILL captivate you with his deep thoughts & his ability to communicate them in writing ~not to mention he is a spelling & editing master. I am not- so please prepare yourself. jk- (kind of)

David & I began in the cute little country town of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. 4 months after we met in college, he led me away blind folded, got down on one knee & asked me to marry him with his grandmother's breathtaking diamond ring. That was our beginning.

Our first son, Jackson was born a little over a year after we were married while we were living in in my mom & dad's house in South Bend IN.  What a crazy time for us. David was working on his Phd at Notre Dame, & later deciding that cognitive psychology was not the 'salted caramel mocha with extra whip' that he thought it was. So, he dropped out of the program. We had very little to our names but at the time it was no big deal because we were just happy as little clams. We lived with my mom & dad in the beginning. They were & always have been so gracious & giving in so many ways. We used to call their home the “Promised Land" because of all the delicious goodies my mom would cook up. I owe my love of experimenting in the kitchen & my love for art & design to her!  My dad was the one who brought the Notre Dame Spirit alive for our whole family. He went to ND too & played football on the 1966 Championship team. My brothers followed in his footsteps & now his grandchildren are in complete love with Notre Dame~ especially Notre Dame football.

When Jackson was 1 we packed up our blue Pier One papasans & headed to Sacramento, Ca. for his first big job offer.

We got homesick pretty quick & headed back to the midwest after only about a year. Our new home in Mi. was only 4 hours from South Bend & we were able to make it to the ‘Promised Land’ frequently. We enjoyed football (both of my brothers played at the time for the Fighting Irish) food & family. One of my brothers got married & it was so much fun being around everyone & getting to know my wonderful future sister-in-law.

Our next two boys Hunter & Mitchell were born during this time period.  Really the memories of this period are so amazing- all good except we did have a few scary life issues to face. A week after Hunter was born we found out he had a heart murmur that required crazy things I never thought i would have to see my child go through and later Mitchell was diagnosed with Duane's syndrome. Both of these situations were scary but we now have awesome testimonies to the goodness of God & how He works for the good of those that love him (Romans 8:28). Can't wait to share them sometime.  

When Mitchell was 3 months old dave accepted another great job offer & we packed up & headed to Louisville, KY. We both knew nothing about the area but soon fell in love with the town & the people. We were a part of a great church with a thriving community & it was a huge blessing to us. We still really miss all our louisville friends.

It was during this period that i decided to dust off my paint brushes & start submitting my art to greeting card companies. During a morning run I heard a still small whisper in my ever-seeking heart that it was time to pursue my love of art. After what seemed like a long trail of rejections (i am not a big fan of rejection, but who is??) i began getting work & feeling the amazing pleasure of working at something I love with all my heart. Among other creative opportunities,  I  went on to sign a contract with papyrus recycled greetings. My cards can be found wherever PRG cards are sold.

Five years later, always ready for the next adventure, Dave was offered another job he couldn’t pass up & we headed to central MA. Surprisingly, it has been the longest place we have lived, topping off at 7 years now. There have been so many great things about this time in our lives, but I have to say the highlight is when our little Chloe made an entrance into the world and YES- I did stick a giant bow on her head immediately!

Our kids went to Whitinsville Christian School in Whitinsville for 5 years & we all loved it with all our hearts! We've just recently moved locally 30 minutes away to Shrewsbury, closer to Dave's work. I plan on sharing some of our home improvement projects on our 1970's colonial soon (maybe during a break from sports??). I am having so much fun!

And so here we are... all caught up. 

Thanks for taking the time!


Bullying & the Rebecca Sedwick Tragedy: A Letter to my Boys to be Different

see the end of my post for a handy cheat sheet

Hello, this is David. Today I want to take a minute and share an email letter that I wrote last night to our boys. It relates to a particularly relevant topic at the moment: bullying and in particular cyber-bullying.

Colette shared the following story from CNN with me last night about a 12 year old Florida girl named Rebecca Sedwick who tragically took her own life in the midst of her despair over being bullied at school and online. This was the first I'd heard of this story, and When I read this my immediate and instinctual response was I'm sure no different than most: I was outraged - at the story itself and its sad and tragic ending, but also at the insanity of a world and a community where something like this could ever be allowed to get anywhere close to this far. Without thinking, my first response was to write a letter to our 3 boys, imploring them to be the difference-makers our world and especially today's young generation so desperately needs.

I've shared the below email just as I wrote it last night. This letter was directed to our boys, who are now 16, 13, and 11 (almost 12) years old, essentially the same ages as Rebecca and her tormenters. But this could and maybe it should just as well be an open letter to all 11-16 year olds.

Good Lord this is beyond unimaginable. This pisses me off. This should never have happened. This should never have been allowed to get anywhere near this point. Where were the good kids? Where were the brave ones? Where were the helpers?

I want to see you guys really stand out and be different, be leaders. Be willing to let God show you the big picture, what's really important and not important to spend your time willing to stand up and say no to things that are not edifying or productive uses of your time, like so many of these social networking sites, at the risk of standing out and being different, maybe even at the risk of being thought of as weird or nerdy or whatever, and instead put God and your future ahead of the distractions of your world (even distractions that "everyone" participates in and which your flesh may enjoy and crave).

There is nothing better than someone who has the guts to break from the crowd and be truly different. Don't scoff at what we're saying, or blow it off as something that we parents are overreacting to or that we "don't get"...this girl's death is a tragedy that ought to shake the 3 of you to the core as 12 and 13 and 16 year olds in the same 12-13-16 year old world that killed this girl. This could just as easily be someone you know, in fact something like this may be happening to someone you know right now... Or if not this severe, something maybe not as deadly but every bit as wrong. What if this was Chloƫ? Or one of your cousins? Well, she was someone's sister, someone's tragic and sad and infinitely unnecessary, and above all avoidable.

There is a lot of good in this world, guys, but hate to say this story sadly highlights a massive slip in conscience that has occurred in our society at large and which today has become especially pronounced among young people...this tragedy highlights the extremely amped up and distorted negative pressure that the online "alternate" social world is putting on kids today. With all the online access your generation has at such an early and immature age, so many kids who have sick or warped minds for whatever reason are way too empowered to act out their problems in an environment and in a way that has never been possible before and which has the ability to impact so many more people than ever before. There seems to be little if any resistance to people like this.

It's so sad that kids today feel such pressure to expend so much of their minds and lives on things that are not really building themselves or anyone else up, and that offer mostly just an entertainment "veg" outlet containing no intrinsic underlying value to offer even a hope of standing against evil pressures like those that came against this 12 year old.

There are far too many followers out there, of all ages but especially among today's youth. Where were the online noble youths in this case? Why didn't anyone stand up for this girl? I guarantee many if not all in the online circles she ran in knew this was happening- nothing is hidden or secret online, and these attackers clearly felt especially emboldened and were not trying to hide anything they were doing. Why didn't anyone report this? Why didn't anyone stop her from going to the place she jumped to her death? Why didn't someone put these evil sick girls in their place or turn them in or pull them aside and tell them in no uncertain terms that if they say one more thing to this girl that they would be dealt with? Why didn't anyone stand up for her? Fear? Apathy?

What things are you seeing at school or online that you know are not right? What environments are you in that you know in your gut are unhealthy? What are you spending your time on that, even if it's not "bad," you know in your heart is not doing anything to build you or anyone else up? What do you need to say "no" to today?

Please please please be leaders not followers. Do what's right no matter the cost. Don't be a bystander to things you know are hurtful to others. And if you are going to spend any of your time online, make it your mission to do your part to bring good, the Lord's light, to that environment. Be a Good Samaritan, don't walk by and ignore those that lie beaten or bruised along the roads you're walking. And have an honest conversation with yourself and ask yourself if it's really right and the best and God's purpose for you to be doing all the online things you are- no matter how generationally relevant those things may be at the moment...

Below is a cheat sheet taken from an e-mail our boys school sent out recently.

Please feel free to share it.

Online photo sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service with limited privacy settings.

A mobile app you can download to your smart phone, which you can then use to "chat" with friends through photos, videos & captions. Snapchats "expire" within ten seconds but can be shared via screenshot and can be recovered digitally. Remember, nothing online ever really goes away.

Online social networking website where users can ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity.

An online audio and video instant messaging service similar to Apple's iChat, and Skype.

Online microblogging site that allows users to share anything. Post, text, photos, links, music & video from your browser, phone, desktop, email. It is extremely simple to use, has very limited privacy settings and 'reblogging' content is common.

A mobile service that lets you create and share short looping videos. This app has a 17+ rating in the Apple App store. There are no privacy settings. All vines are public by default. 

Social media app both online & on mobile devices. Users set up a "channel" that can be private, public, pr configured to charge a fee for others to view. Allows users to share text, videos along with audio tracks, audio notes and live broadcasts. All Pheeds are public by default.

Online service that allows users to submit content in the form of either a link or a text post. Other users then vote the submission "up" or "down", which is used to rank the post and determine its position on the site's pages and front page.

Mobile device app that is used as an alternative to text messaging and is not subject to messaging restrictions on smartphones or iPads.

An online picture bulletin board that allows for anonymous posting of, well, just about anything. Beware of this one. 

*Because Facebook & Twitter are becoming the norm for adults, we find that teens are hanging out in less well-known social media forums where parents are less likely to roam. Of these, & 4chan are among the more concerning. These social media platforms allow for anonymous postings which make these sites ripe for hostile messages, cyberbullying and extremely questionable content.