October 31, 2011

Turn Any Curtains into Tab Panels

While our Loft is still in progress, I love the direction it is heading, and whenever I need to step away and relax from Crazy Project Land I run up here with a Kindle and a glass of red wine.  Ahhh.

That is, except for one minor problem.  One of those that gets under your skin and makes you twitch every time you see it, kind of problems.  (What?  No one else does that?  Me neither... I'm just kidding.)

 I love our curtains, but I can stand how they hang.

These curtains from Ikea came with a poll pocket in the back only, no tabs.  The result is a mess of bunched up fabric.  They can barely even open, here's as far as they can go open without immediately popping back:

So finally this weekend I got to the business of fixing them.  I took 1 panel down at a time, and borrowed another Ikea panel (with tabs) from the Master Bedroom to copy the width and spacing of those tabs.

Then all you have to do is cut a slit in the back of the poll pocket exactly where the tabs are.  Just be careful not to cut all the way through the curtain.  Only cut the back of the poll pocket which will never be seen.

It was sort of hard to see with these curtains since they are sheer, so here's a visual of what it looked like when I did this same technique for the curtains I sewed for our little robot's room

 This quick and easy trick was over before I could say "Kate Gosslin's career."

 Don't they hang so much cleaner?  I can actually open the curtains to see outside now.

That couch looks ready for some gratuitous vampire novel reading.  If I can relax there long enough and not think about how I should remove the old blinds....  (oneprojectatatime, oneprojectatatime....)

October 28, 2011

Baby Steps

Sometimes, it's the little things.  Like when you toss a bunch of stuff in a cabinet when you are unpacking.  All the while, you know it's a mess.  You know you should spend more time putting it away the right way, but all you want is the boxes empty and out of your house.  So you throw things in unorganized and chaotic, and you promise yourself you'll come back in a few days to organize. 

And then six months go by.

This is my baking cupboard.  When I'm not building, fixing or working, I'm pretty crazy about cooking and baking, especially natural and healthy foods for my family.  This cupboard is full of every type of wheat germ, flax seed, etc...

Every time I opened the cupboard I would get anxiety.  I'd promise to organize it the next time I had 5 minutes.  Months went by. And then finally, I did. 

Ahhh sweet organization.  Sometimes, it's the little things.

October 27, 2011

Going Orange and Saving Some Green

You may remember that we here at OPaaT we’re super excited to partner with the Home Depot on their Live Green, Save Green initiative.  A program teaching us how to make our house more efficient and save money?  That’s right up these cheap skate’s alley.  We started by completing the energy efficiency checklist, and this past weekend we were off to Home Depot to purchase supplies.  

We barely walked into the store when we found our first big score- Home Comfort Weatherization Kits. 

 We learned from our checklist that we were in need of door sweeps for our doors and weather strips for our windows, and we were pretty pumped when we realized that everything we need is right in this $14 kit.  Actually, it was $14.97, and I know that this pricing technique is just a marketing trick to get you to think the product cost less.  Clearly, it works.  This kit also includes some insulation for outlets and light switches on your exterior walls.  I’m pretty excited to try it all out.

Literally just a few steps later we found my favorite deal of the day- a package of 4 CFL light bulbs for just $1.85!  I enthusiastically instructed the Hubs to hold the bulbs next to the price and give me his best, “I’m saving a S*%t Ton” grin.   Boy goes and hides the price and gives me a “I ate too much chili for dinner” smile.  Vanna White you are not my friend. 

One thing that wasn’t on Home Depot’s list, but that we had in our Bungalow, was this cool light switch timer.  This amazing little computer knows not only the time, but the sun rise and sun set times for your region, and turns your front house lights on and off accordingly.  It even automatically adjusts for daylight savings.  Not only is this a great safety function, since you never have to go home to a dark house, but it saves these forgetful bums a lot of money since we always end up leaving the front lights on for days on end.  Especially the ones over our garage that we can’t tell if they are on from the front door. 

We also spent a lot of time looking at toilets, since we plan to replace our 30 year old version for a Water Sense product when we remodel the Main Bath.  We didn’t bring one home with us yet, but here’s a few of the favorites.

Dual flush built in and only $98 dollars?  I’m sold.

Hubs was really excited about this “No more clogs” flush and done option by Kohler.  I say we just lay off the Buffalo Wings and get the cheaper one.  What?  Too much? 

We did end up picking up this Dual Flush converter for the much newer toilet down in the Downstairs bath.  Did you know these can save you like $90 a year?  No brainer.

And we picked up another 4” furnace filter for our new energy efficient furnace.  Even though ours is only 6 months old, and these versions last at least a year, the major construction in our house from tearing up the tile and putting in the new hardwood floors, as well as the Bath Crashers construction really did a number on ours. 

And of course, through all of this, our little man was having a ball.  He’s embarrassingly well known at our local Home Depot, and many of the workers there know him by name.  Those who don’t say, “Hey Buddy, “ to which unfortunately the Hubs taught him to respond, “I’m not your Buddy, Buddy.”  Jay thinks it’s hilarious.  Boys. 

Seriously though, I think the marketing geniuses at Home Depot figured out that if you make the kids happy in the store, parents will stay longer and therefore spend more. You’d think we were at a carnival or something.  There was popcorn:

And balloons:

And even stickers:

Which is pretty much the happiness trifecta for our little munchkin.  And speaking of happiness, about the best thing I’ve seen ever was this woman hula hooping in the parking lot on our way out. 

Girl wasn’t messing around.  She had multiple hoops, and was working it out big time, all by herself in the lot.  Maybe Home Depot is a carnival after all.  Now all we have to do is get to work on the installation.  More to come!

October 26, 2011

Opening the Window

Back on Friday I mentioned that I might tackle a fun little project in the Living Room.  Specifically, here:


Not a huge change, but definitely something that’s been bothering me for months now, heck a year even, since it was just over 1 year ago we walked through our big, gross rehab house for the first time.

The big window in the Living Room should be a focal point.  It’s massive in size and definitely a unique shape, but unfortunately the horizontal window blind coming across it makes it look like 2 separate windows.  Sort of builder-grade.  I promised myself that I would live with the blinds through the summer, just to see if it was something that we needed to keep the heat of the sun out and keep the house comfortable.  And the result- we never closed it.  Well… maybe once or twice.  But like Lindsey Lohan checking into her community service, the occasions were few and far between.  So this weekend, it was finally time to give it the boot.

Here’s the part that I knew, but didn’t really grasp.  That window is hellah-high.  Even Super Dad’s big ladder that I had to borrow barely made it non-extended. You might remember back from this post that I like heights just about as much as Kei$ha likes a quiet night at home, so it took me awhile to figure out my strategy.  I decided that I preferred standing on the top rung of the A frame version better than folding it out to an extension ladder and potentially having to rest the ladder on the window to get to the space in the middle.

Step one was to pry the little tabs that head the blinds into the mounting brackets with a flat head screwdriver.  There were 4 brackets across the length of the window, which meant I had to climb up, balance, pry, climb down, and then move the ladder 4 different times. 4 embarrassingly tiring climbs.  4 near death experiences.  All followed by one really scary yank on the blinds, and an attempt to gracefully lower it to the floor without dying.  It went boom.

Then I had to head back up to the place where scaredy cats go to die to remove the bracket.  I climbed back up armed with my drill.  Lucky for all of you this is when the Hubs got out of the shower and so graciously documented the experience.

And then I almost fell.  Isn’t it so sweet that my Hubs took this time to snap a photo, instead of say, breaking my fall?

I apologize to those of you that were eating anything as you just saw that image of my butt in pajama pants.  I was just trying to keep it real with you all. Quick scroll down and think happy thoughts.  Sorry for ruining your meal.


In the end, I’m really happy with the results though.

Add caption

As a reminder, here is the before:

Subtle, but I think it goes a long way to make this room more impressive.  Of course we saved the blind, and packaged up all the necessary hardware with it safely so that we can always put it back up if we change our minds.  And by “we” I mean the Hubs.  Or Ryder when he’s 15.  ‘Cause this girl’s D.O.N.E.

October 25, 2011

Beam Me Up Scotty

There's one little, but super useful detail that I neglected to share with you yesterday in my nightstand reveal post.  That's my super secret trick for managing our plug in electronics bedside.  The good news  is that you don't need to build your own nightstands to make this trick work at your bedside, it can be done with any piece.  

First I purchased a pack of small eyelet hooks from Home Depot.  Then I used 2 pliers, to twist the eye portion from the bottom of the hook, creating an opening in the eye.  It takes a little bit of elbow grease to open them up, but a set of pliers in each hand gives you a firm grip of each side and leverage.

 Then I twisted the eye bolts into the back of my nightstands, about 1 inch down from the top.

The opening in the eye bolt was just wide enough to get my iPhone plug in, as well as my Kindle charger, and the iPad on my Hub's nightstand.  Placing the eye 1 inch down from the top of the dresser ensured that my cables would stay right up at the top of the nightstand for easy access each night.

But that they were completely hidden from the front of the nightstand.  No mess of cables or plugs, and no digging around behind the nightstand each night to find the cord that fell down.

All in it cost me $1.47, and I'll save countless hours of frustration looking around for the cords each evening.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, it's the little things around here.  I may have 2 disgusting bathrooms and a List full of dozens of projects, but simplicity and organization do it for me every time.

How about you guys?  Any fun organization tips you use in your home you'd like to share?  Any obsessive color coding and labeling?  Come on, it can't be just me... can it?

October 24, 2011

#110- Part 2 The Nightstands are Finished

Last week I shared with you the nightstands I built for our Master Bedroom, and now, after many evenings of sanding, staining and polying, I can finally show you the finished product.
But not just yet, first I'm going to make you sit through my rambling.  I still had leftover stain from Bath Crashers, so all I had to do was wipe that on.  I put on some plastic gloves, wiped on the stain with a clean cloth in the direction of the grain, and after about 15 minutes came back with a new clean cloth to wipe off any access. 

Not rocket science, but time consuming.  Especially since I needed to stain each piece 3 times in order to get the stain dark enough.
After 3 nights of staining a coat a night, it was time to poly.  I went against my usually 10 rules for applying polyurethane, and instead when with a oil based Minwax that we had left over in the house.

I used a foam brush because the interwebs said that this brush allows the least amount of bubbles.  I found that to be true as long as I didn't get the brush too wet.

One benefit of using oil based, is that itdidn't dry nearly as fast, so it wasn't as difficult to avoid brush strokes.  The real trick though was loading up the garage with all sorts of light at different heights and angles so I could see clearly where I had polyed, if it was thick, thin, bubbly, etc...
Yep, a little bit of a mess there.
 Between each coat I lightly sanded with 320 grit sandpaper, and then wiped the piece with a tacky cloth to get it free of dust. 

 I did three full coats on the pieces to avoid any water stains or damage down the road.  (The Hubs has an obsession with having a full glass of water on his nightstand every night just in case he gets thirsty.  When the alarm goes off in the morning, it's more likely that water gets dumped everywhere.   Awesome.)

It was all looking pretty good, but I was a little bummed that the finish felt just a little bumpy, and not glossy smooth.  So I decided to try a trick I read about, which is to rub down the poly finish with #0000 steel wool (that's not an error, #0000 is how they label it), wipe off the dust, and then rub the piece with a finishing paste.  You can rub the paste on with a cheese cloth, let it dry for about 10-15 minutes, and then buff it shiny with a clean cloth.  The wax not only makes it shine, but it fills in and evens out any groves in the finish to make it super smooth.

Yep.  That. Just. Happened.

 What, those lamps? They were an incredible deal at Home Goods for just $29 each.  Not only do they add a little sparkle, and a little fun animal print, but a nice cream/tan color that we're hoping to introduce into the room a little more.

Not bad what a little furniture can do, huh?

We've still got some work to do up here, but I'm happy with where we've come in the month or so since we moved up here. What do you guys think?  Coming together?  Anyone else do any staining lately?  Finishing woodworking projects is always the hardest part.
PS- Check out Part 1 of the Nightstand building project here.

October 21, 2011


It's been a big week, but I'm so excited for the weekend.  We have a bunch of projects planned.

No- I'm not going to do any painting of the Playroom... just yet.   Thank you all for weighing in on the big Repaint Debate with me and the Hubs.  Seriously, I love your comments like I love ice cream.  I can't ever get enough.   If you haven't weighed in yet please do here, as we're at like 35-25-25-15 right now.  I need a little more clear direction. :) 

Before we get to painting, we've got a bunch of small upgrades to tackle this weekend for our Home Depot Live Green Save Green program, to get our house energy efficient and ready for the big Minnesota winter.  

Geez... somebody is pumped about energy efficiency. 

We've got some gutters to install above our front door before the big winter snows, melts and refreezes.

I may or may not have a fun little project to tackle in this area of the house, but I'm not going to jinx it and share any details yet:

And the most exciting of all- the Hubs actually said to me yesterday that this weekend, is finally the weekend for us to finish up that ridiculous step project.

Okay, that's a lot of stuff.  Maybe we won't get it all done.  But I love this feeling at the beginning of the weekend when it feels like anything is possible.  Way better than the end of the weekend when you're exhausted anyway... We'll make sure to fit in a trip to the pumpkin patch with our little pumpkin, and a little home made cider pressing and apple pie baking with the apples from my parent's tree.  Because in the end that's what it's really all about.  The projects on The List can wait.  Happy weekend everybody.