Monday, October 15, 2012

New curtains!

The new shades should arrive in a week or two, but we figured since we'd taken the plunge with the window coverings, we needed to deal with our two sliding glass doors.  We opted not to get professional blinds/shades/curtains for those as estimates were in the way-more-than-we-can-afford range. We'd been talking and talking about Ikea, and as both of us were not working this weekend, we had a visit.

We decided to go with the two-layer look, a more sheer layer for privacy and then a more light-occluding layer if Mandy ever has to night shifts again.  One reason I love Ikea is that sometimes they really do have some very beautiful and elegant designs (e.g. the entire Leksvik line). The Renate Ljuv line has this wonderful sheer/lacy pattern with dahlias (Mandy's favorite) that we thought was quite elegant.  Not too fancy or obvious, just a nice subtle design that would be a nice light filter. For the over layer, we chose a darker earth-tone Medium Brown of the Ritva line which should go well with our floors. I'm really hoping that when we put it all together it doesn't look atrocious! But that's the theme of our family isn't it?
Buying the curtains and rods was one thing, but putting them up was an entirely different beast.  Looking online, there is a lot of advice on how high one should hang the curtains.  Hanging the curtain rod higher than the window makes the window and room appear larger.  In terms of the curtain lengths, one can either opt to hem them at or just minimally above the floor for a clean look, or allow several inches extra to let them pile on the floor and look more "luxurious". We couldn't hang the rods too high as the ceiling is only about 12-15 inches above the sliding doors at that point, but high enough that they are out of the way.  Once we decided how high to place the rods, I had to figure out how (Ikea's instructions as always are open to interpretation and do not include wall-mounting hardware). It was a bit harder to find instructions for doing this, but an Irish DIY website had a nice tutorial.  But really, half of the fun of this video is this lady's brogue, "furst tings furst"!  I probably could have figured out how to do it on my own, but it's nice to have instructions just to keep from making a silly mistake that you know you would have and to have all your equipment ready.
My biggest problem in terms of bracket placement was in the living room.  Our sliding glass door is nearly abutting the wall on the left side (see pic above) which makes for basically no room on the left. I ended up only using two brackets on this door (although they recommend three for widths greater than 55 inches) as otherwise it would have just looked funny. The other problem I ran into while putting up the rods was the inconsistencies with our walls.  On the right, our stud finder didn't find any stud despite the fact that it was directly above the door frame (usually there is a stud along each side). However, I did a test drill and although the bit initially went through drywall into space, about half an inch further in was a stud or some other piece of wood! I found the same anomaly in one of the spaces in the bedroom as well (even more interesting was the drywall tape I found there meaning a previous repair had been done at some point).  I don't know if we'll ever know what work was previously done on this house.  But that's what makes it fun...right? The bedroom curtain rod was much easier to install since there's plenty of space there to work.
Mandy's part in this was to help hem the curtains. The heavy cotton curtains we'll be taking up to her mother's so we can use her sewing machine to hem (an upcoming post), but the light curtains come with a "iron-on" hem  strip that is basically a mesh of cellulose(?) that sticks together after ironing.  Half an hour later, after measuring and hemming beautifully, Mandy had our sheer curtains ready for hanging!  I have to say, I don't think we did too badly at all.  We did leave them slightly long, but they will shrink about 4% when we wash them. So what do you think?  I'd say not too shabby for a total cost of less than $175 (including the heavier curtains we'll be putting up later)!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Murder Cat

Wow.  I recently posted on facebook about cat's and their hunting prowess. I thought this was just humorous, but the last few nights, Muji has let the inner serial killer in her out for full display.

Over the last three nights she brought back two grasshoppers (mostly alive) and two lizards!

The grasshopper she played with until I grabbed her and brought her inside, but apparently it didn't have the good sense to leave the scene.  When I let her back out an hour or so later, it was still sitting there and Muji was more than happy to munch it up (I could hear the crunching from inside!). The lizard I wasn't taking any chances with so when she brought that home, that was her last outing for the night.  Most of the time the lizards are unharmed, just terrified and curled in a ball.  They at least usually have the good sense to skidaddle when she's gone!

So what does Muji think of this? Well, she's currently sitting about four feet behind me, meowing angrily because she's grounded for the night.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Ok.  So it may not look like much on this map, but we got rain this morning!  And I swear it was more than the 0.45 inches they recorded for our zip code, because it was loud enough to wake me up (thankfully at 6:12 am, only 3 minutes before the regular sprinklers would have gone off if I hadn't turned them off!).  Is this the sign that I'm becoming a real Californian, when I get excited about rainfalls?

I'm really hoping that this recent cool weather and bit of rain may help salvage our lawn. I recently was talking to our neighbors across the street who informed us that the gravel that was previously on our yard was not removed before laying the sod, but TILLED IN.  He said that the contractors spent three days roto-tilling the gravel into the soil and he just couldn't believe it. What would have probably taken a day or two to just scoop up and remove (and probably sell to someone else!) was instead mixed in with all the good dirt below.  How stupid is that?  God, people are dumb.  Ah well,  I guess we have to look at the positive side that now it probably will drain very well and make for an even better southwestern garden. =)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wait, shades from whom?!

Hiring a contractor/vendor for work on the house is a very stressful thing, even if it's not a major item like plumbing or the foundation.

We had been putting off in-home showings for the window coverings for months now and finally bit the bullet (those temporary shades are looking quite ratty). It seems, that even with measurements of the windows, many vendors won't give you any idea of a price until you've had an in-home consultation.  And one would think being on home turf is a good thing, but it's not. You start to feel guilty making the salesperson make another trip and spend more of their time if you're not planning to buy. But I guess that's what they're intended to do.

Thankfully, the company we went with, Affordable Home Coverings, had a very pleasant salesman.  Although he did a rather hard sell at the end (we told him we had another appointment for next week set up) and we did end up buying (partly because the last time I had talked to the Hunter Douglas lady, the other appointment, she wasn't really all that nice).  But it was slightly cheaper than both Mandy and I expected, so we'll have to see how the blinds look in a few weeks!

The blinds we selected were a line of shades from Kathy Ireland (yes, THAT Kathy Ireland). I always find it amusing how certain people like the Olsen twins and Kathy Ireland have managed to turn their show-business career into multi-billion empires in completely unrelated fields. But maybe that's what she always wanted, even back when she was doing all those swimsuit modeling jobs. Window treatments were always her true passion!

Anyways, we wanted some insulation but still lots of light coming through so decided to go with the honeycomb or double-cellular shades.  Many of the styles they have are blackout blinds with occlusive interior linings so that all light is blocked, that seems so counterproductive to have that over windows!  And of course, we also got the cordless lift that I've been so particular about. So no more cords!

Our shades should look much like the picture to the right, but not white.  We chose three different colors; a dark brown for the kitchen, a sagebrush green for the living/dining room, and an off white for the bedrooms.  I think it should look great!  Can't wait to actually post real pictures here instead of just stock photography!!