06 September 2013

New Plants & Citrus Tree Transplant Update

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It's been 4 days since I've repotted my Meyer lemon and Key lime trees. I have been watching them very closely for signs of distress.

My lemon tree is saying, "What transplant?", but the lime is wondering how I could do such a thing to it. Poor little lime tree. It's drooping and wilting and cupping its leaves. It even lost a rather large lime. There's also something on its leaves, but it has been there since I bought it. I have yet to identify what it is. Please help, if you can!

My guess as to the droopiness, etc., is that I didn't get the gritty mix up in between the roots well enough. It is requiring more water and it does respond to it, so that's a good sign.

I ordered some seaweed extract to help the roots generate more growth. It won't be here for a few days though.

Got my fingers crossed!

As for the new lemon tree, it is in the original container and original growing medium. I'm going to leave it like that until spring, I think. It is doing fine. I sprayed it yesterday with Neem oil at the strength of 2 tbsp/gallon of water. That will be a weekly routine. It will be fed with Foliage Pro like the others.

With the other 2 trees I have been removing the tiny new fruit. I have read that I should let it set the fruit and then remove it for at least the first year and maybe the second. The lime has produced a ton of fruits, and I removed all but 2. The lemon had not flowered too much before the transplant and there was no fruit to remove yet. When it does, I will remove them too. The old wives tale is for every fruit you remove now, 4 will grow later. I will do that for the first 2 trees. As for this other lemon, I will be pruning it lightly soon, but I am not going to remove the fruit that is growing. I just want to see what happens.

The tropical hibiscus I bought for my Mother's 90th birthday is doing fine. It has several buds on it, but no open flowers. I sprinkled some slow release Osmocote around it, but otherwise just gets watered. I am researching the gritty mix for this plant too. It should be repotted, I think, I can see roots in the holes on the bottom.

Tomorrow is her birthday and 2 little buds looks like they might be open for her tomorrow. That would be great!

UPDATE: I've been keeping a very close eye on my citrus trees as the weather starts to cool off. We've had several days in a row with no sun, all cloudy, cool and windy. I started bringing the trees in at night about the 1st week in September and back outside during the day. I would say that where they are during the day probably doesn't get as much sun as they need. So overall I think they've been light deficient the past 3 weeks.

I have noticed over the last several days that the 1st Meyer lemon's lower leaves are starting to turn yellow. And today I noticed that I have lost 4 leaves. The Key lime is also yellowing a little. I'm not sure if less light will do that or not or if the wind or cooler temps can do it, but it's a problem for me and apparently for my trees.

So I made the decision to bring the trees inside for the fall and winter. I don't have my complete light set up finished yet, so I have my light fixture hanging from my weight bench in the garage. This is their first day under the lights. Got my fingers crossed.

In my next post I will show you my set up and explain where and from whom I got so much help. :)

04 September 2013

Meet the Cow Killer

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Ok, so I'm outside on the driveway, barefoot, transplanting my citrus trees. Out of the corner of my eye I see this HUGE thing run across in front of me. Freaking out now and shuddering as I type at the thought of that thing.

It looks like a ginormous ant. Look at it, it's horrible!

I have never seen one of these before. After an Internet search I discovered this is a female velvet ant. They are not aggressive, so I've read, but I immediately put a bucket over it so I could contain it.

I have also read that they can deliver a very painful sting, a sting so powerful it can bring down a cow, hence the name cow killer. I don't know if that is exactly true or not, but I'm not going to find out. You can read more about it here.

I'm actually glad this is the female...the males can fly!

02 September 2013

Repotting My Meyer Lemon and Key Lime Trees

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While I was out gallivanting in the city yesterday there came upon home some very high winds and a short cloud burst. Well, my poor citrus trees were blown over, pot and all. And, consequently, lost a good amount of the potting mix they were in.

I intended to repot them into a gritty mix this next spring. Now that they have fallen over I decided to just go ahead and repot them now. Good thing I bought all the ingredients for the gritty mix a few weeks ago.

This was an all day affair. Straining and mixing the ingredients and watering them all down was very time consuming. And then to get all the old potting mix off the roots was another job. I hope I did it all ok, I've never done it before. I did get some help from Mr. Bumbleberries.

 Then I potted them up, watered them and put them in filtered sun.

I know this has been quite a little shock for my trees. I hope they will handle it ok. I have read that citrus will drop their leaves due to stress from repotting. I fully expect it to happen, I hope it doesn't. I love my little trees and I will be devastated if I've hurt them.

Al's gritty mix recipe is one I found on the GardenWeb forums, where they can't say enough good things about it. It consists of Turface, granite grit, and bark fines. Here is Al's website where you can find out how to strain everything and a few more particulars. You can do a search for Turface distributors here. You can find granite grit at a feed store, it's just poultry grit. Don't get chick grit, it's too small. And bark fines can be found at nurseries perhaps, but the pieces may be too big. I've read that people use Repti-Bark, which is found at most pet store. This is what I used too.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: It's been 2 days since the transplant. I've been watching the trees very closely. So far the lemon tree seems completely unscathed by the whole affair.

The lime tree is showing some signs of distress. I see the new top growth is wilting over and I see some leaves cupping upward a little. The whole tree seems a bit saggy. I have read that some of this could be due to under or over watering.

I have been reading a lot about it and the transplant and the new growing medium and I have concluded that perhaps my lime tree hasn't gotten enough water. I watered this morning and then again this evening. It might be my imagination, but I think the new growth on top has positively responded to the water.

Both trees are kept in filtered sun for about 7-8 hours. I have removed almost all of the tiny lime fruits that are growing. I removed about 20 a few days before transplant and another 20 again today. The lemon tree has only just begun to bloom a few days before transplanting.

I also bought another Meyer lemon from the clearance aisle yesterday. I'm going to grow this one a little differently to see how it responds. 

07 August 2013

Container Citrus

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I purchased a Meyer's Lemon and Key Lime plant yesterday. I have no idea how old these plants are, but will try to find that out.

They each have 2-3 small fruits and are quite bushy, more than I would like. I want to train them to be a tree shape rather than a bush shape. I will have to find out at what age I should start doing this.

When I first got them home I placed them on the front porch, which is south facing. Normally I get the morning sun, but yesterday and today have been drizzly and overcast. And since my front porch is covered I thought they might fare better on the back deck, so I moved them today.

I have been reading a lot about the care of these trees. I found out about a good fertilizer to use and ordered some this morning. I read that they like to stay a little tight in their pots, so I guess I won't repot them right away. I will have to find out more about that.

I am really concerned about proper watering. I've read that over watering is bad for the trees. I thought about buying a moisture meter and I would if I thought it would do the trick, but I've read that they don't really measure moisture but rather the salinity of the soil so I'm not sure I want it. I've also read about using a wooden dowel that you put into the soil. If it comes out moist--no water needed, if dry--time to water. This is the method I will probably use.

Another concern is when to bring them inside and how to care for them at that time. That is a couple months away though.

Both of these trees are in 8" diameter pots that are 7" tall. The lemon tree measures about 16"-22" tall from the top of the soil and it is about 22" wide. The lime tree is about 17" tall and 25" wide.

You can see in the bottom picture that some of the lime tree leaves have a rusty color, don't know what that is.

UPDATE: 8.14.13 Today I started using Foliage Pro liquid fertilizer. I mixed 1 tsp with 1 gallon of water. I also added 1 tbsp of white vinegar to the water to help balance the pH, which was advised to me.

06 August 2013

Fall Container Garden 2013

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I started my little Fall container garden today. I may have waited a little too long to get it going, but we will see.

I have only 3 containers: a 5 gallon bucket and 2 15" pots. I started peas in the 5 gallon bucket, lettuce and spinach in 1 pot, carrots in the 2nd pot.

The last time I started a container garden I had pretty good results with the peppers and green beans. The tomatoes never produced any tomatoes and the lettuce was eaten by some varmint.

The above picture was taken a few summers back. You might also note my lemon, lime and banana trees. Sadly, all 3 of these died.

I am determined to be successful growing a lemon and a lime here in Missouri. I am trying again this year. I have a Meyer lemon and Key lime. They each have 2 fruits on them as of right now.

I actually just bought these 2 plants. I haven't done anything with them yet. I have to do a little research to find out what I need to do. Have you successfully grown citrus in a colder climate like mine? I'd love to hear your advice.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: 8.30.13 Ok here's the scoop after about 3 1/2 weeks. I used last year's seeds and I guess I did not store them correctly as the germination rate was terrible. I sowed the seed heavily because the seeds weren't fresh.

I had only 1 plant sprout in the entire container. I'm not sure if it was lettuce or spinach as a cutworm ate it soon after it broke the ground. I had only 1 pea plant to germinate. Something is nibbling on its leaves and I did find a cutworm in that container too. I put a cardboard collar around the plant and hopefully it will survive. One little pea plant won't go very far but I will consider it a lesson learned. I had the best luck with the carrots, a good many of them sprouted.

I will be getting prepared for my spring garden as time allows. It's a learning experience for sure. 

22 July 2013

Storm Damage Repair Update

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Today I am having the flooring people come in to work on the carpeting and padding in 3 bedrooms and the flooring in 1 of the bathrooms.

I have an appointment in August for the drywall/painter to come and fix the ceilings in the same rooms. Then all that's left is to have the carpets cleaned.

By that time it will be over 4 months since this nightmare started! I cannot wait until it's all done!

Update: The flooring is all done and I'm very pleased. Here is a shot of the new bathroom floor. It looks very nice!

17 July 2013

My Petunia Experiment

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I have had petunias in the past and always remarked about how short-lived they seemed to be. I admit I didn't look into it at all, I just pulled off the spent blooms and called it a day. Obviously it didn't matter too much to me. I bought a petunia this year and here it is when I bought it.

I planned on caring for it same as always. However, I ran across an article that caught my eye about keeping your petunias full of flowers all summer. Ok, I can't pass that up, so I read it and discovered I was doing it all wrong. I was just removing the bloom itself, which cleaned up the plant, but I was leaving a very crucial part on the plant that should have been removed. The picture below shows you what you should remove.

When you remove the blooms you have to make sure you get the part it is attached to. That is the part that will create seed.

So, my petunia has all these little things still on it where I've pulled off the blooms. It was starting to go downhill. But, the article also stated that you can cut your petunia way back somewhere along the middle of July and it will come back with lots of blooms in a short time.

This is my experiment. My petunia still had some nice blooms on it, but mostly it was getting leggy. I cut it back, trying to get all the future seed capsules off. Here's what it looks like now, hope I didn't kill it.

I then watered and fertilized it and said a prayer over it. Looking through the cuttings I found a bunch of the seed capsules and am now wondering if I waited too long or if not removing them up until now is going to prevent a re-bloom. We shall see.

Anyway, I decided that I would save all this seed and have experiment #2 next year. Here is what the seed capsule, or whatever you call it, looks like. You just open that little thing in the middle and there's your seed.

I held mine over a white paper towel and then put them in a little bowl. I would suggest pulling off the leaves first 'cuz petunias are kinda sticky and the little seeds will stick to them.

The way annuals work, or at least the petunia, is that it will grow and produce for a while and then start setting seed and then it will die. But, by removing the future seed capsule you are tricking the plant into thinking it still needs to produce blooms, therefore extending the flowering season. I'm afraid that my plant may be on its way out, I didn't trick it soon enough. Take a look at all the seed I got from it. I think this is a wave petunia, which is a patented hybrid I think. I don't know what the seed will produce next year, that's experiment #2. I won't be sharing the seed 'cuz it's patented.

Now I just sit and wait. If it comes back I will be thrilled. If it doesn't, I will have at least learned something and will never lose another petunia too early again. So, stay tuned for the results of my petunia experiment. And, as always I welcome your comments and suggestions, 'cuz I'm still learning.

Update: It's been 1 week since I cut back the petunia. Here's a shot of it. It's got 1 open bloom, as you can see, and another just about to open. It also seems more full.

And after 2 weeks. As you can see there are numerous blooms, however I noticed that several of the blooms are wonky. They're bent backwards and upside down etc., weird.

And at about 2 1/2 weeks. I think it's safe to say that I didn't kill my petunia. I'm calling the experiment a success. It is definitely what I'm going to do with all my petunias from here on out. Next season I will do experiment #2 and plant the seeds I got off this plant just to see what grows.

16 July 2013

Backyard Makeover part 1

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All along the base of the back deck we have a conglomeration of hedges/vines/opportunistic nightmare weeds/trees that have been the bane of my existence since we've lived in this house. I'm not sure what the hedges are called, but there's wild grape in there, honeysuckle, thorny locust...needless to say it's a mess.

So, we decided to remove it all, finally. I think what started it was that we lost the only beautiful part of the whole thing, a gorgeous tree on the corner, to the April storm. After that we knew it all had to go. I neglected to take some before pictures, but I do have the ones I took after the storm. Keep in mind that this is early in the season and the honeysuckle, wild grape and thorny locust have not as yet graced us with their presence.

Did we hire someone? Did we rent equipment? Did we at least do it on overcast days or early morning/later evening? No, no, and only sometimes. We did use a four-wheeler and chain to help remove the roots/stumps. I can't remember when I've worked so hard and I didn't even do the hard part. My husband and son are both very strong men and on a rare occasion they were both here to do the job.

It took several days to get it all out. Then we had to remove the decorative rock, which wasn't fun either. We probably should have done it a different way, 'cuz I think we caused ourselves more work, but we just raked it back out of the bed onto the yard. We laid landscape fabric and edged the whole length with scalloped brick. Then we shoveled the rock back in. There's still a bunch of rock on the yard and we'll probably never get it all out of there. I should note here that the original bed is much much wider than the new bed, so technically the excess rock is still in the old bed. It looks funny for now, but it's a WIP.

We repaired the lattice work and added new lattice work around the hot tub enclosure. Then we scrubbed the deck and resealed it with a stain/sealer to try to match up the different wood tones a little. That didn't happen too much, maybe they will look better with time. The whole deck probably should be replaced but we're trying to squeeze a few more years out of it. We did replace the handrail on top though. The lattice work leaves a lot to be desired as well. But again we are trying to make it last a little longer. The previous owners had an extra sheet of lattice that they overlaid on top of another piece. That turned out to be a good thing because one piece was too far gone to continue using it so we took it apart an used the slats as framing. I know, I know, it's all wobbly looking and is probably making you cringe, but believe me it is a far cry better than what it was.

I may or may not put some plants in the new bed in the future. For right now, I am enjoying the cleaned up look.

26 June 2013

A Short Break from the Kitchen Makeover

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Just for fun and to get out of the kitchen, I repainted one of my chairs that I keep on the porch.

I bought 2 of these at the thrift store a few years ago and haven't really done anything with them. And needless to say, something needed to be done. Poor thing.

So I sanded a bit to remove flaky paint, but I did not go through all 3 colors. I just made it somewhat smooth. Then painted it in this Fireberry paint from Valspar. It's a pretty color, I think.

And then I went out and bought a petunia. There were only 2 left, this one and a pinkish purple one. I was lucky to find one that gave good contrast with the chair.

Bright and cheerful!

22 June 2013

Kitchen Makeover Update

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I'm not sure where I left off, but I have finished putting all the beadboard wallpaper on the cabinet fronts. And since I can't make up my mind about paint and I'm tired of looking at the mess inside the cabinets, I decided to put the doors back on the cabinets.

I put a bunch of rope trim on too, but still have a few cabinets left to do. After putting it on and rehanging the doors I got a different perspective on the rope trim. I'm not sure I'm all that crazy about it. Sometimes when I look at it I really like it and sometimes I don't. So, I'm going to leave the cabinets the way they are for a few days and then decide to if I want to add the rest of the rope trim or take it all off.

Anyway, here is a shot of the bar area with rope trim and 2 coats of primer. It's kinda hard to look at it in this stage, all chalky. And, of course, after I get most of the rope trim attached, I wondering if I shouldn't have painted it first. C'est la vie.

Today I started working on crown moulding. I added some to a couple cabinets. Here's the before picture:

Here you can see the cabinets with and without rope trim.

Anyway, I started by attaching 1x2 to the top of the cabinets.

I then started cutting the crown moulding. I am crown moulding cutting deficient. I wasted about half a piece of crown moulding trying to get the cuts right. %-(

I used a compound miter saw to make my cuts, I just couldn't wrap my head around which way to cut each piece. I finally figured out a way that I could understand it and everything was fine after that. 

It all has to do with the spring angle of your crown moulding and then setting your bevel and miter angles on the saw. And of course, putting your piece on the saw correctly. What a headache, but I got it now. Here's a link to an online calculator to help with all that.

And I finally got it up there, which was a comedy of errors in itself with no one to hold the other end. But I endeavored to persevere (one of my favorite lines from The Outlaw Josey Wales). I attached the moulding to the 1x2, making sure everything was level. 

Normally I would have filled the nail holes right away, but it's time for a nice long hot bath. I feel like I got beat up. Guess I'm getting too old for this kind of stuff!

The crown moulding looks like it's slanting downward on the right on the cabinet above the fridge, but it isn't. It's the cabinet doors that are wonky. 

Stay tuned, there's more to come. And if you have any suggestions for paint colors I'd love to hear it.

15 June 2013

Kitchen Cabinets Upgrade..........part 1

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My original plan was to put beadboard on the recesses of the cabinet doors, under the bar and at the ends of the lower cabinets. That sounded pretty doable. But when I got to really looking at how my cabinets were made and how thick beadboard is, I couldn't make it work the way I wanted.

Enter beadboard wallpaper. I had heard of it before, but not until I got a wonderful tip from one of my lovely Facebook friends did I realize that it could be painted!!! And I was happy again!

I immediately ordered some. I chose the wallpaper from Graham & Brown, but I have read that Lowe's carries one as well.

When it arrived I did a little happy dance and started right in. I finished 6 cabinet doors before supper.

I'm no wallpaper expert for sure, but I think I did ok. I'm happy with it.

I started on the bar area the next day. I don't have a very good before picture, but here is one after I had already started. I removed the baseboard and took the wallpaper down to the floor.

Then as things progressed, I decided that I would continue the baseboard (which is on the walls) onto the bar area and the sides of the lower cabinets. So I had to remove a strip of wallpaper at the bottom. My baseboard is in 2 pieces, painted to look like 1 larger piece. So the grooves in the wallpaper might have been visible, that's why I removed it. You can read about my baseboards here.

Continuing the baseboard presented its own set of problems and I'm not entirely happy with how I handled it, but until I think of something else this is how it is. I am going to add wooden feet at the corners under the cabinet and I think that will help the issue.

Okay, so I decided to add some framing around this area so that it looked like my cabinets and gave it a more finished look. And I have to say I'm getting pretty darn good at making tight miter cuts!

Then I started experimenting with rope trim. I want to add it as another border on the cabinets and under the bar. I started cutting the trim with the miter saw, but I didn't like the results. I kept getting big chips taken off. I don't know if I'm using the wrong kind of blade or what. So, I cut them with a hand saw and miter box. Much better! 

As I cut pieces for one cabinet it dawned on me that I should make the first cut so it will fall right between the little rope twists. Common sense escapes me sometimes. You can see here in this picture that I will have to re-cut the top piece 'cuz the upper left end doesn't look right. Actually all the corners leave a little something to be desired, but it is what it is. I have since discovered that they make both a left and right twist rope trim so your miter ends will always match up. I also read that there is a flexible rope trim too. 

Overall, working with the wallpaper was pretty simple. It cuts easily and it easy to apply. As a matter of fact, I used my cutting mat and rotary cutter to cut it. I found that it seems to swell a little upon soaking it and so I always had to trim it after it went on. You can use a little caulk to hide the seams or if you make minor boo boos. I did feel I needed to be very careful not to make indentations in it, as I thought they could be permanent. It really looks like beadboard too. A drawback is that it probably won't hold up to very much abuse, as it is kinda like a foam type material. 

Here's a side by side.

To be continued.....

05 June 2013

My Kitchen Before I Go Crazy With It

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Here are some before shots of my kitchen, cleared of most everything.

There are several things I have planned for this kitchen. It needs a life!

Here's a partial list:

new tile countertops and backsplash
new paint treatment on cabinets
jazz up cabinet doors with trim
add crown molding to cabinets
new overhead lighting
install over-the-range microwave
new fridge and stove (yeah, right, like I can afford that)
and then there's the life part that cannot be put into words

The only work I've done in here so far is to put a frame and new sill around the window. It's awesome and I'm very proud of the job I did, 'cuz I did it all by myself, with power tools and everything!

And if you are looking in the background, you will see other things. I have wood stacked up and extension cords, etc laying around. I have a throw on the foyer window because I just put framing around it and it is waiting for a nice window treatment. Here's a link to the framing we did on my large living room window.

One day at a time.

25 May 2013

Memorial Day Sale ... All Weekend Long

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How about a sale this weekend?
How does 25% off sound?
Please use this coupon code at the checkout: memday2013
Expires 27 May 2013
Have a great weekend and be safe!!

Please visit my aSundayGirl on Etsy!

07 May 2013

Adding Casing to Drywall Return Windows

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Still waiting for the insurance adjuster and the roofing contractor to come to terms with what they're going to do to fix my roof. I wish they would hurry up, can't go forward with those back rooms until the roof is fixed.

So I decided to get some work done on my living room windows. I have a large window that contains 3 separate windows in the center of one wall. There is another window on either side of it on adjoining walls.

All of these windows, plus all the other windows in my house, have these rather ugly vertical blinds on them. I can appreciate that they are pricey to buy and they do a decent job of keeping the hot sun out, but they got to go.

Here is a shot of the windows and blinds. Please excuse the clutter. This was taken before the new baseboards too.

It is hard to tell from this picture but these windows have drywall surrounding the opening and they have a wood stool. And you can see the ugly blinds, both open and closed. One other thing to point out is that this set of three windows doesn't have any framing between them.

The plan is to build up a frame between the windows, put casing around the window and between the three windows, replace the stool and add an apron. Then I will be making Roman shades for each window.

Here is a picture after the blinds were removed.

Part one consists of removing the old stool. 

Use a cutting tool to cut the caulking around the old stool. We had caulk top and bottom. Once that is done, use a hammer to tap the stool until it is free. You might have to use a pry bar and/or nail puller. Be careful if you use the pry bar to not pry against the wall, use a block of wood to pry against instead.

The new stool extends on the outside to accommodate the width of the casing plus a 1/4" reveal on each side and an extra one inch on each side. I had to measure the inside length and depth then add the extension on to each side and make a cut out. We also used a router to make a nice finished edge.

Then we attached the stool. Use a level to make sure the new stool is level both front to back and side to side. I had to use shims under the stool to level it up.

For the apron we just used a matching piece of casing. We put a 22.5° miter on each end then tacked it up under the stool. Here you can see the routed edge.

Next comes the outside casing. I've seen it where people put a wood jamb on the inside of the window first and then overlay the casing onto it, but I don't see the point of doing that. And there isn't any room for it anyway, so we kept the drywall return. 

We mitered the upper corners and butted the lower ends to the stool. We also left a 1/4" reveal.

The framing between the windows will have to wait until later this week. I did fill the nail holes and give it all a first coat of paint. And I had to tack up a couple blankets for privacy and to keep the sun at bay. I can't wait until I can get my Roman shades made and hung.

One step closer! Today we made the center frame pieces.

We ripped a length of 1 by down to the same depth as the side framing. We used two pieces between each window, toe nailed them in. Also used a small block between them for a little more stability. We put this block at both the top and bottom and then one in the center. After doing this I figure a few more of those blocks wouldn't have hurt, but this I don't foresee a problem.

Then we put a piece of mullion to cover the opening, leaving almost a 1/4" reveal on either side. The mullion was cut to go up over the existing frame and meet up with the new window casing. It is thicker than the bottom edge of the window casing so we had to bevel the end at the top a little to match it up.

There is a bit of a gap on the side piece, but caulk will take care of it. Also, the center window space (between the new framing) is slightly more narrow than the space between the new framing and the outer edge of the other two windows. I don't think anyone will notice that though and since I'm making my own Roman shades, I will allow for that difference.

I used wood putty on the nail holes already and will sand them in a bit then start caulking, priming and painting. The stool needs another coat too. Then on to making the Roman shades. Can't wait!

I'll be back! Before I go though, I would like to give a very special thank you to my brother-in-law, Sam, for his tremendous work on this window. I love it!
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