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“Whoever watches the wind will not plant;
whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.”
~Ecclesiastes 11:4

I have not posted in so very long.  Although I have wanted to gather my thoughts and append them to paper for the last several weeks (months?), the very thought of doing so causes a sense of anxiety. Can one be anxious of being anxious? Twenty-fifteen will go down in my annals as a year of anticipation – sometimes with eagerness, more often with anxiousness.

The year began with the anticipation of the qualification of candidates to the office of my employer, an elected official. That anticipation was further muddled by an order of the governor for a special election for an unfulfilled term of a deceased congressman, for which my then boss decided to run and ultimately won. Politics is a unpleasant game, particularly when one’s fate lies in the hands of those that play the sport.

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During the midst of the political competitions in which I was unwittingly thrust, my dad became progressively ill. He had been battling an unknown for some time. He was initially hospitalized the first of July and was ultimately diagnosed upon a second hospitalization later that same month – Multiple Myeloma, for him a second blood cancer. Over the next four months, my father was home approximately five weeks out of those months. As I waded through each day I anticipated, both with eagerness and anxiousness, what the next day would bring. I met each day with hope of good news, only to be met many days with a new complication. It was hurry up and wait. Eagerness verses anxiousness. There were some ups and many downs during that time. In hindsight Daddy had been dealing with the symptoms of this new cancer for many months. As my dad was prone to do, he just kept keeping-on until the disease rendered his body in a much weakened condition. I asked a lot of my dad during this time. I ask that he fight. And he did. And we did for him. For there is always hope. But ultimately it was too little too late. Daddy gave up his battle and Jesus won the victory on October 23, 2015.

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Even now it is painful to write these abbreviated recollections – abbreviated in that it is impossible to recount all that occurred during the eternity of those four months. At the time, I had attempted to journal the events, but it was all happening too fast. Most often I could barely tell what day it was, much less what happened during that day. Each day held its own victory or was a hellish nightmare. And yet, it was a time of preparing. As difficult as it all was and is, I would not trade those last days with my Daddy.

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Then November came with the culmination of the elections and the anticipation of all that comes with new administrations. Again each day was met with both eagerness and anxiousness.  Hurry up and wait.  Ultimately I was relieved of my wait only to be met with a new set of worries – unemployment! Three weeks before the end of the year. Yep. Wow! Didn’t see that one coming.

In reflection, God has been prodding me to let go and trust. To stop living in the past. To stop worrying about tomorrow. To stop connecting the dots of life. To stop living from one event to another. With God’s prompting and leading, I’m working on living in the eternal now.  These wise words were posted by Nicholas B. Phillips on his Facebook feed from one of his “Carpe Diem” writings twelve years before — something I needed in the here and now. God uses His people to be His messenger!

God’s prompting has appeared to me through several additional sources in my social feeds, including this Instagram post. I took a screen shot of the post and have referred back to it several times.

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I, like The Dusty Lane, have a plethora of things I want to do in the newness of 2016, so many in fact that I’m almost anxious with the prospect of them.  Instead of making resolutions and setting goals, I am adopting The Dusty Lane’s word for 2016: Be.

As the new year unfolds, I may work on any number of things I need “to be”. The word offers a multitude of opportunities – be happy, be healthy, be humble, be creative, be… – you get the idea. For now I’m working on “Be present”, as in the here and now.

For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love, there is Love.

~Paul Stookey

Posts have been scarce due to a full itinerary of family functions and events. The birth of our first grandchild and visits to and from, and here and there, along with a first-in-a-very-long-time Page family reunion filled the first months of our year.

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Photo Credit: Stephanie Bray

In May, a young man asked for our eldest daughter’s hand in marriage. The Farmhouse was decided upon as the venue for a quaint, private ceremony. Our efforts to freshen up the exterior of the old house began in earnest. June, July and August were spent applying primer and paint with satisfactory results. The last of the windows in the dining room were finished (except for some finishing caulk). Black shutters were installed and the old house began to look better than she ever aspired.

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Photo Credit: Rachel Gardner

The day of the wedding – a brilliant, pre-fall Thursday morning – arrived. The culmination of many months of planning and work, and work and planning came to fruition. Family gathered on the front lawn of the old family home as a handsome groom awaited the appearance of his chosen. The bride descended the old stone steps resplendent in her vintage inspired attire. Pledges, vows and rings were exchanged and the two became one – a unity of persons. I cannot think but believe that my grandparents smiled down upon the union of spirits on that beautiful September morn.

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And then of a sudden, it is fall. And the days have become shorter and the nights have cooled. The musky scent of muscadine and crisp golden leaves fill the air. So it is with the passing of seasons, the year has become short, almost at its conclusion. The fleeting of time. We recollect on what has been accomplished in the days, weeks and months prior. Our family has grown by two in a short span. Our cup overflows.

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He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love, there is Love.

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love, there is Love.

Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer, then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?
Oh there is Love, there is Love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love, there is Love.

(original lyrics “Wedding Song”, Noel “Paul” Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary)

Learn to pause … or nothing worthwhile will catch up with you. -Doug King

I’ve needed to post for some long time now. But thoughts and time were often fleeting. Sometimes frozen. Held captive.

Winter was long. And hard. And colder for longer than I ever remember. I hate cold – cold accompanied by prolonged dank, dark days with little sun. I withdrew further into a dormant state than I cared to go. And it has taken awhile to awaken.

In the beginning of the end of winter, toward the first of March, the old house donned a new Spring dress and had her picture made. She was featured in the April/May issue of Mud & Magnolias magazine. The issue spoke of “home”… and we were honored to have our story included therein.

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With April, (my limbs and mind) began to thaw. The world turned green again. Finally. It seemed a long time coming. Like a friend that had been absent for an extended period, but welcomed at the first glimpse. Recognized. And almost in a blink of an eye, birds began to sing. Again the Whippoorwill called at night. Flowers bloomed. The clash of cold and warm caused storms. Gardens were set to grow over the warm months ahead. The earth was again filled with a flurry of activity, having purpose.

Baby girl and her hubby, along with our new grand-baby daughter (born in February) came for an extended visit. The Farmhouse hosted a Sip & See and an Easter gathering of family. The old house then threw open her doors and welcomed the branches of the Will & Mae Page Family Tree. What a joy to have family grace the old house.

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Porch Sittin’

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Page Family Reunion

And, our labors resumed on the old house. The last set of windows are in the final stages of completion. More recently, as in the last few days, the exterior began to get a facelift. Much primer and paint is being applied to spruce up the old country cottage.

You see, there is soon to be a small, private wedding at the old homeplace. Eldest and her beau are to be wed on the front lawn. When the decision was made to hold their ceremony at The Farmhouse, I grew teary-eyed. My grandmother would be awed by the simple improvements to the old house and of the many fine folk who have paid a visit to old homestead. And now a wedding! She’d near be beside herself.

And so it is with the changing of Seasons, as winter becomes spring, a hiatus births a flurry of activity. I much prefer this more active season. A time where there is proof in a productive state of being.

Old places exist on sine waves of time and space
that bend in some logarithmic motion
on which I’m beginning to ride.
~Frances Mayes, “Under the Tuscan Sun”

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Pieced Together.
Seamed in history.
Each remnant having a former life, a former narrative.
Each scrap salvaged and patched together to make a whole.
A pattern of color, shapes, lines and texture.
Re-purposed to a new purpose.
Patterned together to a new life, spinning a new story.
Stitched by a gathering of many hands, over many tales and much gossip, with laughter and tears.
Creative, yet mundane.  Mundane, yet beautiful.  Utilitarian.
Animated with color to arrest the eye and give pleasure to the beholder.
Using what was available, making do with what was at hand.
Capturing the scent of the summer sun while dancing in the breeze.
Unfurling the fragrance of warmth on a cold winter’s night.

I vaguely remember, as a child, playing under the quilting racks as my mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunts and the neighbor ladies quilted.  The quilting racks were hung from four hooks in the ceiling (still in the old house today).  The racks were taken up and lowered as the quilt work progressed, and as life, meals and the end of day interrupted.  I recall being allowed to make a few stitches by patient hands – which no doubt were ripped out and reworked as soon as I returned to my play.

I learned many things from my Grandmother, but quilting cannot be counted among them.  She was creative and crafty, making beauty out of what was at hand.  So, in a way, maybe she did instill in me at least the basic knowledge of the art of quilt making.  As I am soon to be a grand-Mama’, I purposed that a quilt I would make – with the help of a community of hands.

This was the inspiration for Baby Penny’s quilt.

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The quilt is a modern half square triangle (HST).  The placement of blocks are just shy of forming any “pattern”.

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The palette for Penny’s nursery is deep royal blue (almost navy) and gray, with a touch of golden yellow and a splash of other bright colors. These were our color selections:

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The material was cut to obtain as many squares as possible out of each 1/2 yard.  Each square was then cut into a “half square triangle”.

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I then combined color combinations, using more of the royal blue and gray and less of the brightest colors.

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The seams were then ironed to the darker side of each square

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and the corners and threads snipped.

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Then came arranging and piecing the squares together.  My first attempt was far too “patterned”.

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The next attempt was a little better.

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But I realized I was lacking a few blocks and that all of my gray and blue was too close.  I made a few additional blocks, and made several “drafts” before I settled on a final placement.  This is the final pieced quilt top:

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I actually debated quilting the top myself and considered quilting on my sewing machine.  My mother-in-law, a seasoned quilter, talked me right out of that notion.  Better yet, she offered to hand quilt the piece.  I accepted.

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Even she was a bit reluctant to tackle this quilt as we wanted straight-line quilting with the lines running at a different angle from block to block — purposefully not having any pattern.

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She did a wonderful job interpreting our vision.  In some of the blocks she decided to quilt two directions within the same square. (see green/white block below)

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In a couple of the blocks she quilted the lines very close together (see gray/teal block below), giving each block visual interest.  No two are alike.

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I then machine sewed a bias tape binding in navy onto the front of the quilt, and my mother hemmed it to the back using a blind stitch.  I was very proud of my nicely mitered corners which I achieved by using a method found here.

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I only made the one photo of the mitered corner process as it is very hard to hold both a camera and the binding.  Here is the little mitered corner, although it is a bit difficult to see as the binding is navy.

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We used a small dot as the backing of the quilt to tie together the color scheme.  Gray and blue seem to coordinate with most all other colors.

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And finally, here is a photo of the completed quilt.  It is approximately 40″x56″.

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Penny’s new little quilt already has a story, a history pieced and stitched with loving hands, waiting to fulfill its intended purpose.

Winter has been a mean old man, wearing out his welcome, if ever he was so welcomed.   Winter’s recent assault caused my son-in-law to pen these words:

Twas the night before Thursday, when all down the street
There was a blanket of white stuff, at least three inches deep.
The neighbors were yelling and riding on cars,
It’s as if seeing snow were as foreign as Mars.

Our dogs were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of springtime danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Were really getting quite tired of all of this crap.

While out on the lawn it kept drifting and freezing,
I laid in my bed wondering if winter would ever be leaving.
Away to the beaches my mind flew like a flash,
The sunshine! The sand! The surf’s salty blast!

The moon on the breast of the still-falling snow
Just mocked me as it shined on the cold ground below.
I work from my home, the walls close in so near,
The last thing I need is more snowfall this year!

As summer came welcomed but soon grew too hot,
And we forget throes of springtime like spoiled young tots.
So winter came knocking and stayed for a bit,
The least we could do is deal with its…hardships.

So I’ll speak not a word, but watch the snow do its work,
I’ll watch it fall softly but still think it a jerk.
But laying my longing for springtime aside,
I’ll admire the beauty of this wintertime bride.

I’ll sip my hot cocoa and spend time with friends.
And just as with everything, this too will soon end.
So I’ll say without groaning, with joy in my drawl,
“Joyous snow day to all, and to all a good thaw!”
-Garreth Blackwell
Richmond, VA (2/13/2014)

 

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
~Emilie Burchwald

The Farmhouse fulfilled her intended purpose of being a family gathering place this past weekend by hosting a baby shower honoring Baby Girl who is expecting our first grand-baby this coming March.  And, while the weather had previously been quite chilly down right cold and there was some concern that we would be able to heat the old house to a comfortable temperature, the day turned quite balmy for winter.

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The baby shower was a “vintage book/library” themed event (see my Pinterest inspiration board).   As The Farmhouse was once called “Grandmother’s House” (at least by all the grandchildren), we played off the storybook, Little Red Riding Hood.  Invitations were created utilizing scanned images and PicMonkey.

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The buffet was dressed with an old suitcase filled with Little Golden Books, old alphabet blocks, wooden toys, and a stuffed bear from my girls’ childhood.

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World globes, my baby shoes, the girls’ childhood books, and Skippy John Jones completed the vignette.

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A bunting was made by scanning the pages of one of several Little Red Riding Hood books, printing the pages, cutting them into elongated triangles…

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and sewing double-folded bias tape along the top edge to complete the bunting.

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In our usual DIY Farm Chick Style, Sistah and I decided to use half-pint, jelly fruit jars for drinks – pink lemonade or warm spiced cider.  To protect fingers from the heat of the cider, we made and affixed warps to each jar.

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Keeping with the book theme, I scanned the inside cover of a Little Golden Book and printed the image in columns using WordPefrect.

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The 8.5 x 11 sheets were then cut into strips, yielding five wraps per sheet.

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In similar fashion I made bookmark favors in WordPerfect by creating columns and adding a bunting graphic and quote from Emilie Burchwald.

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This sheet was then cut into five strips. Cotton thread was looped through a punched hole to complete the bookmarks.

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Instead of a decorated sheet cake, I chose an “old-fashioned” layered cake in pink (strawberry), to which we attached a bunting made from the scanned images of the Little Red Riding Hood book, printing selected images as a contact sheet, front and back.

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The table was arranged with additional Little Golden Books and other vintage toys from my attic.

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Refreshments were simple: cake, cheese cubes and crackers, and Grinch fruit kabobs.

Other “vintage” baby decor was placed throughout The Farmhouse, alongside the existing Christmas decor.  This little crochet dress was worn (for a very short while) by my eldest daughter long, long ago.

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Because Baby Girl and her husband were home from Virginia for the Christmas Holidays and would be traveling home at the end of their visit, we asked that gifts be limited to cash or gift cards and, in lieu of greeting cards, that everyone gift a signed book.

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This picture could be captioned: “Four and a Half Farm Chicks” – all very precious chicks in my life: my daughter Callie, carrying my granddaughter, Penny; my eldest daughter, Cassie; and my Sistah, Pam.

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Callie reviewing all the books given to start Baby Penny’s library:

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Mom- and Dad-to-be admiring cuddly little baby things:

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And my favorite picture of the day, Eldest reading to Baby Girl and Baby Penny:

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A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas,
a place where history comes to life.

~Norman Cousins

dimin′ishing returns′
n. any rate of profit, production, benefits, etc., that beyond a certain point fails to increase proportionately with added investment, effort, or skill.

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I read a lot of blogs on the subjects of home decor, DIYing, renovation, restoration and preservation of old homes, and re-purposing yesterday’s “junk” into tomorrow’s treasures.  Since before Thanksgiving, most blogs began the onslaught of all things Christmas.  It is all so beautiful, but often overwhelming – just attempting to “ready” ourselves for Christmas.

Indeed, the tree was erected at The Farmhouse before Thanksgiving and additional Christmas decor continued to be added in the couple weeks thereafter.  My own home also received it’s toned-down Christmas dressings immediately after Thanksgiving.  And while I would love to add more decor to both homes, at some point one must stop and realize that what goes up, must come down.

And so it is at Milford Springs.  The stockings have been hung, the greens have been flung and we await the arrival of Christmas and of the children traveling home from afar.  We will share laughter, food and drink, we will tell a story, a tale or two, and enjoy each others company.  There is nothing more that need be added to welcome the season of Advent, other than the love and fellowship of family.

Merry Christmas
from
The Farmhouse at Page Farms

I had three chairs in my house; one for solitude,
two for friendship, three for society.
~Henry David Thoreau

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As the old house was somewhat complete and was “dressed” for company from the Tennyson reunion, and since so many had inquired about seeing her, we hosted an impromptu Open House last weekend. Family, friends and neighbors attended.

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Many shared fond memories of my grandparents and visits to the old house. Gracious praise was heaped upon her restoration / preservation. Indeed, she is looking fine for her age.

A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment … with often humorous dialogue. -Wikipedia

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Family reunion. A cast of characters in an ongoing comedic series. Episodes air annually. Same date, same time, same station.  This year’s installment of the Tennyson Family Reunion aired at The Farmhouse on September 14, 2013.  Ranging in age from one to 93, thirty-eight cast members gathered.  The weather cooperated, casting a backdrop for a perfect day.  Old stories were retold and new memories were made, all played in front of a live audience.  Many laughs and great fun was exhibited by all.  Stay tuned for next year’s episode: September 13, 2014.

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Following the family gathering, Sistah and I became the first overnight guests of The Farmhouse in almost three years.  The old house was a gracious host to our Sister Sneak Out.

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We put up our feet, picked up a book, shared a few secrets and reminisced about the day and family. Then we crawled under old quilts on a cool September night and slept-in the next morn.

Quiet.  Peaceful.  A place to which we will return often.

Before cable TV, video games and texting,
kids … played outside all summer long.
Running inside to grab a gulp of water
and running back outside happened 10 times a day.
Multiply that by a bunch of kids and,
well, there was a screen door slam echoing through the hills and valleys
… from dawn till dusk, from May to September.
Don’t slam that screen door
was the catch phrase of summer when I was growing up.
~Michael Ivey, filmmaker in Westerville, Ohio, NPR, July 6, 2011

In our “make do” fashion, we obtained two screen doors for the twin doors on the back porch from Handi-man’s brother who had bought out the stock of a storm-damaged hardware.  Handi-man insisted on paying him the ridiculous price of $10 per door.

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Amazingly, the doors were just the right width and, with a little trimming off the length, they fit perfectly.  The screen doors, like the old house, are not quite “right”, being a bit skewed here and there, and were a bit “flimsy”.  Handi-man made them more sturdy with “L” brackets in the corners and “T” brackets on the crossbars.

We explored embellishments to add to the doors and happened upon the idea of a “push bar” to keep people from pushing on the screen when exiting.  Back before the days of the electric  door, porcelain advertising door pulls (and pushes) were a good way to get your product noticed by hungry or thirsty consumers. Some of the rarest and most valuable door pushes are from little known or now-defunct brands. But larger brands like Coca-Cola, 7-up, Copenhagen, Sunbeam bread, Canada Dry and Vicks also made push and pull signs, which are today sought by collectors. Here are some examples of vintage push / pull bars:

vintage door push bar - Google Search
Authentic push bars are extremely expensive – far too expensive to hang on a $10 flimsy screen door.  In our craftiness, we decided to make and personalize our own push bar.  After ruling out several items from Handi-man’s Sandford & Son collection, we purchased two reproduction metal wall signs from Hobby Lobby (at half price) and made the “bar” from scrap trim material.

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For the personalization, I made stencils on my handy-dandy Cricut machine, which I had heretofore never actually used.  When I could not find stencil material in sheets large enough for my lettering, I simply bought plastic binders from the school / office supplies and cut them into pieces to fit my Cricut machine.  After cutting the stencils, I sprayed the reverse side with spray adhesive, positioned them on the boards, and then waa-la! Our very own, personalized push bars.

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Handi-man then installed these stenciled pieces directly to the inside of each door so that the personalization would show through the screen to the outside.

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Handi-man then attached the metal wall signs to the not-personalized side (facing inside) of the push bar.  This will take the brunt of the “push”, and hopefully will keep the screen intact.

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Page Farms, Est’d. 1944 and, Eddie’s Kitchen.

Doors“Eddie” was my Gramp’s nickname for my Grandmother.
I can hear him say in his quite way, “Now, Eddie.”

My Dad commented, after seeing the finished doors, “If mother were alive and could see the old house, she’d be beside herself.”

Previously…

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About Me:


At present, I am a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a legal assistant, a minister, a weekend construction contractor / foreman (said with some jest), a weekend construction laborer (said with all truth), a gardener, a dreamer, a planner, an organizer, an administrator, and sometimes a general pain in the butt. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading (when I have the time), and restoring old farmhouse windows.