Elongating Your Room with Curtains

The Final Product- Compare to the picture below.  Much better!

News flash, if you are even paying attention to any design blogs or pictures on Pinterest, you probably know that you shouldn't hang curtains the way you use to.  No more of this fitting the rods to the top of the window molding.  You want them as high as possible and as wide as possible.  This way all the light is getting in and you have the optical illusion that the room is taller.

The last few weeks in our new house have been really early mornings, thanks to the lovely sun streaming through the translucent blinds.  I am really sensitive to light so the sleep mask has been a savior.   Of course, we were always going to put up drapes, but it took some time to find the right length for our ceiling height.  I needed drapes that measured about 108” in length that would hit as close to as high of the bottom part of the tray ceiling hits near the windows.  Hard to describe, but makes more sense with pictures.

The curtains are called Lush Décor Pima silver/black curtain panels. I ended up purchasing these beauties on Overstock because they were the style I wanted, the price I liked, and we had a moving coupon from the USPS for changing our address. They come in a variety of lengths from 95” to 120”.  I ordered the 108” panels and they pool just the right amount on the floor in our bedroom.  The price ranges from about $40-$50 depending on the size. 
Dignitet System- IKEA

To keep the actual curtains up, we ended up buying a wired Dignitet “rod” system from IKEA that we have used before.  It is fairly easy to put up and it isn't bulky like some of the other curtain rods that I have seen for sale.  We ended up using two of the regular sets and then two of the support posts for the corners. 

The whole process took about an hour to do.  We ran into a few quirks in the process, like putting up of supports backwards (the side does matter!) and not enough room for the cover to fit over the screw, but it got done correctly in the end.

Make sure you have the proper supplies when getting into this.  You will need a ladder or step stool because you do want to make your room appear larger, right?  You also need an electric screwdriver, measuring tool, small screwdriver (see above) with an allen bit the size of the Ikea allen wrench to tighten the screws tighter than the Ikea tool will let you, wire cutter, and a cute helper.  The cute helper is an extra, but helpful when you need your supplies and don't want to get off the ladder. 

This is the section of the Dignitet Rod system that tightens the wire to keep the curtains up. 
Overall the total cost for this project did not break the bank.

Dignitet Rods - $12.99 (we used two, but already owned a set)
Dignitet Support - $4.99 x 2 = $9.98
Curtains - $40.49 x 2 = $80.98 (we used a 20% off coupon)

Grand total- $103.95

In the beginning I don't think Jeff was a believer in the fact that these curtains would elongate the room, but in the end he did comment on the fact that the room looked bigger.  I am torn about possibly adding in another set in the middle, but the jury is still out on this one. What do you think?

<3 mk


Planting Mosquito Repellent Lemon Grass


I recently did an outdoor planter facelift on two of my larger planters and my mother passed on some of her gardening knowledge to me during the process.  Instead of filling them with soil, use some filler... free filler, such as plastic soda bottles and/or water bottles.  I have always used rocks at the bottom and sometimes styrofoam, but I never thought to use the empty bottles.   My mother, she is such a smart one and frugal.   I wonder where I got that from?

My main reason for this post was not to talk about filling planters, I have been really wanting to try out one of my pins that I posted about a year ago.  My husband is a mosquito's dream and he seems to be constantly eaten by them.  Now that we live right on the water, I knew that they would be more prevalent.  I pinned that lemon grass was a natural repellant and always wanted to get huge planters for it to grow.  In VA we didn't have the outdoor space, but in our new place we do.

With pots as large as the ones I currently own and my recently purchased Huson planters from IKEA, it would require loads of soil and that can be costly.  By filling the bottom with rocks and then empty plastic bottles, much of the planter is filled with the “filler” and less of the costly soil.  They also cut down on tons of weight so the planters/pots can be moved easier. 

See the dent in the bottom, that was my way of trying to make a hole.
My two new planters didn't have holes at the bottom for drainage, so I had Jeff drill some holes before I filled them up.  I actually tried to make the holes myself, but that was not happening.  See above.

This is the way to make real holes with an actual drill.
Jeff used a smaller drill bit first to start and then gradually worked up to a large drill bit. He discovered that the metal was thin enough to use the larger one without any pilot holes, but the whole process took a total of a few minutes anyway.

Next, I put some rocks that I picked up from my property.  If you don't have rocks lying around, you can also purchase them from your local home improvement store pretty inexpensively in bags.  Bricks are also another alternative.   Use these rocks for drainage, but also to put some weight on the bottom since my planters are pretty tall and could be easily toppled by wind. 

Then add in filler bottles.  I used a mix of smaller bottles with a few larger bottles, like the those from the post about using vinegar for weed killer.  Be sure to rinse them out first!  I didn't want to go too high up because I still needed enough room for the plant to have enough soil.

Next, I put in the potting soil, making sure that it filled in the gaps down to the bottom of the planter.   Finally, I planted the lemongrass and am currently waiting (patiently) for it to fill in.  I hope they will look like my inspiration (above) soon.  I bought the plants at the local farmers market for a few bucks. The vendor said that it would fill in a lot from the small plant that we purchased so we only bought two plants for each of my planters.  I haven't seen these plants on sale at any home improvement store, but I am sure if you go to a specialty garden store you can pick some up.

As mentioned earlier, my mother suggested using styrofoam peanuts as filler that you might get when ordering something online.  She suggested using them if you have them, but to put coffee filters on top of them and then layer your soil.  This way the styrofoam will stay in place and not mix with the dirt.  This was a great suggestion, but I didn't have any styrofoam laying around.  Make sure the peanuts are the non-biodegradable type as some will dissolve in water.  Test one by running it under a faucet first.

Time will tell if the plants fill in as predicted or if they will prevent mosquitos from biting my husband. I do know that the filler bottles used saved me money on soil for each of the planters and anytime I save money, I'm a happy girl. 

<3 mk


A Good-For-You Cocktail


Before I moved, my next door neighbor would always give me her Redbook Magazines when she was done with them.  I loved finding that welcoming surprise on my doorstep once a month.  I got my most recent drink idea from the last bunch of magazines she dropped off right before we left *tear*. 

Redbook featured three cocktails that are almost health foods because of the ingredients that you add.  There was a ginger based cocktail with vodka and lemon, a green tea mixed with white wine, and finally, a very unique strawberry based drink. I didn't have all the ingredients for the first two, but I did for the strawberry drink. 

Garden Party
Adapted from Redbook May 2013

Yield -1 cocktail

3 fresh hulled strawberries
2 basil leaves
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
2 oz silver rum
½ oz  agave nectar
½ oz lime juice
club soda

Muddle the strawberries, basil, and balsamic together in the bottom of a tin.  After muddling, add ice, rum, agave, and lime juice.  Shake vigorously and pour into a glass.  Top with some club soda and enjoy!

This drink was delicious with a little kick because of the balsamic vinegar.  The strawberries and basil added a freshness to this adult beverage.  Perfect for sipping outside on a hot summer day.

<3 mk


Color Code Your Move with Moving Labeling Tape


Moving Labeling Tape

As promised, I have another helpful tip for making your move easier.  A few weeks ago, I wrote some tips for prepping your home for sale and then some more to make packing for a move easier. We are fully moved in now, but we made the unpacking of the truck a bit more streamlined with this useful tip.

We hired movers for this move and we had never actually done that before in our lives.  We have always  been the ones renting u-hauls and calling friends and family to help us out.  For this move it needed to be done by professionals.

We did many helpful things to make unpacking easier, but color coding is what really made the difference for the movers.  All of our boxes had colored labels on them that distinguished the areas they were destined.  By purchasing this moving labeling tape kit, we were able to mark each box with some colored tape.  When we got to the new house, we put a piece of colored tape on the door or areas that each box was going.  We also put a cheat sheet in the entryway for a quick reference tool.

Labeled moving tape cheat sheet
Doing this simple method cut down a lot of time and discussion about where each box was going to end up.  The yellow went to the kitchen, blues bedroom, and orange to the basement.  There was no discussion between the movers and us as the process went along.  The entire process took about three hours and everything was where it needed to be, except we needed to unpack it.

This color-coding system is simple, cheap, and totally do-able even if you already have your boxes packed and labeled.  It was so nice when we were unpacking because everything was where it was supposed to be and we weren't breaking our backs moving boxes around or trying to locate them.

Note, do not actually use the tape to seal the boxes, there probably isn't enough to do that.  Just place it on the top two corners.  This way, it can be seen from any direction.  Lastly, do not press the tape hard against drywall.  To help with removal, only place it gently on the doorway surface.

Happy moving!

<3 mk


Peach Berry Burst Recipe with St. Germain


As you know, I have a special place in my heart for any adult beverage that contains St. Germain.  To my happiness, I found this recipe in the In-Style July issue as I was sunning myself at my husband’s family reunion in PA.  I wanted to make it immediately but had to wait until we got back home.  After we arrived back in NC, much to my disappointment I didn't see St. Germain at the nearby ABC store. A few tries later, I found and dusted off their last bottle, and got right to making this delicious drink.

St. Germain is one of those liquors that just can’t be replaced with anything less expensive.  It has this one of a kind flavor that explains the reason it costs so much.  I love it, but my wallet doesn’t.  I do promise you that once you have tasted it, you will always want to have it on stock in your liquor cabinet.

Peach Berry Burst
Adapted from In-Style Magazine

3 strawberries, hulled plus one for garnish
3 slices of fresh peaches
½ teaspoon agave nectar
2 oz. gin
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
1oz of St. germain
soda water

1. Muddle strawberries and peach slices plus lemon juice, lime juice,  and agave nectar at the bottom of a tin.

2. Add in gin, St. Germain liqueur, and ice to the tin.

3. Shake vigorously.

4. Strain into an iced highball glass.

5. Top with soda water.

6. Garnish with a strawberry and a slice of peach.

This recipe originally had you make a puree of strawberry with sugar and water.  It did not call for peaches, but I had some in my fridge I needed to use before a trip.  I choose to muddle it and then strain it at the end.  If you are up for chewing your drink, then don’t strain it and put the chunks into the glass without all the extra ice. I ended up doing that after taking pictures and it was delicious. 


<3 mk


Outdoor Planter Facelift


Since we have moved, I have had this wanting for all new things.  New outdoor furniture, new rugs, new bedding, new EVERYTHING; to go with the new house.  Well, budget does not allow for that and my frugal self would not allow for it either.  So, I have been really trying to use what we have and redo it so it feels like new.

The outside front entrance to our new house is quite grand compared to what we're used to.  There were two large round planters in the front that had some type of coniferous ornamental trees in each pot.  I didn't take any pictures because I didn't want to remember how bad they looked...and I forgot. The last owner didn't do too much in the garden department so when we finally owned the house, these trees were brown and sad looking.  The pots weren't in nice condition either, but to buy two pots at that size was little more than I wanted to spend.  A facelift was required.

The facelift required first getting rid of the old plants. This was quite funny to see because the planters didn’t have any filling, just all soil and plant.  I am proud to say I am pretty strong, but this was ridiculous.  I gently tipped over the planter and pulled the soil out to loosen the tree.  Then after lots of back and forth, it finally came loose.  I put the plant into a really tough construction garbage bag and drug it to the side of the house for my husband to lift into garbage cans.  The remainder of the soil was sad looking so I just mixed into the mulch/soil mixture that is currently in the planting beds. 

Now that the soil and plants were out, I was able to assess the planters closely.  The actual pot wasn’t very heavy, but in poor condition.  You can see at one time there was a big crack that someone put back together with the putty stuff they sell on tv infomercials.  Well, it was ugly looking, but the pot was still together.  There were also a bunch of smaller holes.  I decided that a good cleaning and some spray paint would perk this poor pot up.


After dragging the pot out of the garden area, I cleaned the pot off with the garden hose and soap.  A little elbow action got off the caked on dirt and years of outside grunge.  I let it dry for most of the day in the sun to make sure it was nice and dry.

I found a Terracotta spray paint at Lowes that matched the roof of our new house perfectly to use as a spray paint.  If this planter was a different material, I would suggest sanding the sides a big or even spraying a primer on it, but it wasn’t necessary in my case. 

It turns out the spray paint that I got was the exact color that was currently on the pot.  I sprayed 2-3 coats on the planters each.  It took two cans of the Valspar Terra Cotta.  I then sprayed a clear coat for outdoor spray paint in top to make sure the color stuck.  The bottle did not say it wasn't for outdoor use, but it didn’t say it was either.  They didn’t make that specific color in the outdoor spray paint they had and I really wanted the Terracotta color.  I might regret it in the future and curse the entire time I am spraying the pot again.  If you can, buy outdoor use spray paint.

Once the pots were dry after their facelift, they looked so much better.  Perfectly matched with the roof and they looked like new, from a few steps away.

My mother was helping me and gave me a few money saving tips.  First we filled the bottom of the planters with rocks we found down by the lake.  There was already a hole at the bottom that was used for drainage. 

Then we used the empty (and rinsed) vinegar bottles that I used to spray the weeds that were taking over the mulch.  With the rocks and the weeds, the planters were about half way full already.

We then filled the remainder of the planters with soil.  My mother was there to help me choose the plants that would look the best in the pots.  We went with a tall grass and then some sweet potato vines ("blackie") that would be the spill over the sides.  Dont forget to loosen your root ball or "tickle your roots" (quoted by my mother) before planting and read the plant label about depth, spacing, watering, and light.

The spray paint cost twenty dollars for all three cans.  Sure, If you add in the cost of the soil and the new plants, the cost increases, but you would have to do that for what it would cost to fill a brand new planter.

After Close-Up
Final product
How do they look?  So much better, and it cost just a fraction of buying a new pot.

Do your planters need a facelift?

<3 mk

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