Monthly Archives: February 2015

Old Screen Doors Reinvented

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I’ve always loved the sound of an old wooden screen door slamming shut. You know the sound I’m talking about…it’s the basic clack of wood on wood, usually preempted by the prolonged creak of the old spring pulling the door shut. In my mind, this was the sound that announced the happy arrival of family coming home for dinner on a hot summer evening. Or the sound of the kids, running off to play. These thoughts come to mind whenever I see doors like this one at Lyndon B. Johnson’s ranch, spotted during a recent trip to the Texas Hill Country. I love these doors, but I’ve never actually had one of my own … until now.


This is my jam cabinet, pantry, wine cellar, small kitchen appliances closet, you name it. It’s in my basement office, of all places and I love it. I thought of including photos of the inside, but that would mean that I would need to make it tidy first… just know that it’s floor-to-ceiling shelves, filled with everything from canning supplies and the fruits of that labor to the boy’s lunch boxes, thermoses, boxes of cereal we have yet to devour, ice cream makers, and the bread machine, which seems to be on standby for all eternity.

The storage is fantastic, and I’d recommend adding such a closet if you aren’t lucky enough to have a real walk-in pantry. But what I like most about the pantry is, of course, the doors. Back when we had a great place called the Reuse Center in Minneapolis, we picked up these old screen doors for around $30 a piece. The Reuse Center carried doors, banisters, kitchen cabinets, sinks, tubs, and even beautiful oak built in buffets that had been salvaged from old homes during renovation or demolition. I loved scavenging the dark and dusty aisles for items we could use in various house projects.

In this case I’d had my heart set on a pair of French doors, but when we realized how heavy they would be and how difficult to hang, we began to look around for more lightweight options. That’s when I spotted the old screen doors. I had to look past the peeling paint and the dead bugs still clinging to the metal screens (did I mention things are sold “as is”?), but these  beauties were perfect for our purposes. They didn’t match, but I liked the pattern formed by the crossbars and how the doors almost mirrored each other, but not quite. And, I liked that the doors provided a use for the cute patterned fabric I had leftover after making curtains for my son’s room a few years back (the fabric was from Crafty Planet, of course!). With some soap and water, paint, and a staple gun, my pantry came into shape. And I finally had a couple of those old screen doors I’ve been pining for all this time. (They don’t slam shut, but I love them just the same.)

These would make fun room dividers, too. And screens from old bungalow windows might be nice hung on a wall and used as a bulletin board of sorts. Alas, the Reuse Center is no more, but those in the Twin Cities can look for old screen doors at a few places around town that carry such gems. Check Architectural Antiques and City Salvage for starters. (And if you don’t find what you’re looking for at either place, all is not lost. Wandering around shops like these ranks at the top of my list of how to spend a winter weekend afternoon.)

If you’ve come up with a clever use for an old screen door, please share! I’d love to hear about your ideas.


Handmade Valentine’s Day

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Honestly, I’m not crazy about Valentine’s Day. Roses and dinner at popular restaurants don’t appeal to me…especially when everyone else in town is doing the same thing. But I will take any excuse to do something creative, and the boys’ Valentine exchanges with classmates offer a perfect one. For all but a couple of years, we’ve made our own cards, often cutting out red, purple, and pink construction paper hearts and decorating them with Valentine stickers. This year, though, I wanted to do something a little different.

Lately I’ve been crazy about patterned papers, so I’ve been spending some time at Paper Source. They sell darling Valentine kits there, but they are a little pricey, especially when we’re making Valentines for nearly 30 kids. So I came up with this idea for paper pinwheels using decorative straws, origami paper, and thumb tacks from Target. They are so fun to make, and I love the way the paper patterns complement the striped straws. We’ll be adding tags to each pinwheel with a handwritten note to classmates. Here’s an easy way to make a paper pinwheel:

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1. Draw an “X” across the center of a 6 x 6 inch piece of origami paper (back side). On each line, measure 1 inch from center and mark with a pencil.

2. From corners, cut along lines, stopping at mark made 1 inch from center. (Note: You may need to cut a little closer to center for on one of the lines to allow you to punch a hole in the center.) Punch holes in the center and in the upper lefthand corner of each triangle section.

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3-4. Fold in each punched corner to meet the center, taking care to align the holes.

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5. Insert a tack through the punched holes and into a paper straw at the back. You may have to loosen the tack a bit to ensure that the pinwheel spins. Viola!

I also couldn’t resist filling our cookie jar with these tasty and easy-to-make chocolate shortbread hearts. I may slip a couple into wax paper sleeves, sew them shut with red thread and give them to teachers on Valentine’s Day. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Two Peas and Their Pod. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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