Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How to Shorten Bamboo Shades

We've finally finished up some of the lingering kitchen details, so I hope to take some final reveal photos soon.

One of the items that I couldn't decide on was window treatments.  A lot of my inspiration photos actually didn't have window coverings at all, so I was stumped.  On one hand I like the look of a "naked" window, but I feel it's more effective with black frames.

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Also, while the window and door overlook the deck and backyard and don't necessarily need privacy, the window over the sink looks towards our neighbors house.  Although is mostly blocked by large bushes, it still felt a little too open.

I went back and forth for a long time, the whole time knowing I would probably end up with bamboo shades.  I knew they would work since they are used in kitchens all the time, and they would also bring in some natural texture to the black and white we had going on.

I began searching for the right blinds a couple months ago and wanted to use the same Home Depot brand we used in the upstairs bathroom, since I already knew the coloring would work and they were inexpensive and could be picked up locally.


The problem was the sizing.  I'm assuming it's because our house is so old that the windows are not standard sizing because I couldn't find anything to fit our 23" and 33" windows.  I could have special ordered online, but I wasn't willing to spend $60+ per window.  I set out to make the Home Depot blinds work.

Usually I go to Mike for any "engineering" or manipulating of something, but I was determined to figure it out on my own.  First, I found a 23" size that would work on the back window.

Sorry, I don't have any current photos that show both windows.

Since this wall was built out, the window framing is recessed, which would allow the blinds to be inside mounted.  The problem was the other window, above the sink, was on a regular wall which meant it did not have a thick frame and could not be inside mounted.  It didn't matter anyways, because the closest sizes available were either 31" or 35".  I decided I would mount both blinds outside the frame which meant I could get a couple sizes larger to sit beyond the window openings.  I decided on 27" and 39".

After I figured out my first roadblock, I came upon my next.  Both were only available in 72" lengths.  For the bathroom upstairs, I was able to get a 48" length.  Since these are shorter windows, I was afraid of giant chunk of rolled blinds in the middle of the window.  I figured I could shorten them somehow.  I took pictures along the way, and was prepared to share my success or failure, thankfully I came out on the other side with perfectly shortened shades. 


The first thing I did was lay them out on the counter, I cannot tell you how excited I was to have this amount of counter space to do this!


I took a photo of the bottom ring just so I would have something to reference in case I forgot how to reattach.  I also peeled back the bottom hem to see how they did it.  Simple glue gun for the win.


 
I then gathered my tools: scissors, tape measurer, and glue gun.  Measured the window length.  Measured the shade, twice.  And got to the point of no return by cutting the cord.  I actually used the rings as my basis of measurement.  Since the shades will be up almost always, (we've yet to pull the bathroom shades down after 2 years), I figured this would be the easiest.  I tied the cord to the last ring using the same knot as they had.   


The next step is actually why you're benefiting by me doing this first.  I learned on the first three inches that it's a good idea to glue each piece of thread before cutting.  I just dabbed a little hot glue to each piece, a section or two above where I planned to cut.


As you can see, once cut, the pieces and thread unravel very easily.  Meanwhile on the other, (good), side they're staying strong.


To finish it off, I applied hot glue liberally, and folded up the last four pieces of bamboo, like a hem.  This created a more substantial bottom.


Once hung, the last step is to shorten the pull cord to look nicer on the shorter length.

To mount outside the frame, I had to alter the original hardware directions.  For an inside mount, the bracket sits on the side like this:



Because of the design on this shade, there was no option to mount any other way, but Mike and I are never satisfied with answers like that.  We realized if we moved the bracket 90 degrees it could be mounted to the top of the window frame.


The only downside is it sits further from the frame than an inside mount.  It didn't matter for the window above the sink because it sits between 2 cabinets, but I worried for a second because the little window is open on the side to the back door, and the basement staircase.  In the end I didn't care enough to be bothered by it and we installed it anyways.  I can honestly say now, that I've not thought about it, or noticed it at all.

I quickly took some photos this morning before work, so the lighting isn't the greatest.  Here's the small window to the deck:


You can see from the side that it sticks out far from the window frame.  But, like I said, it's only noticeable looking directly at it which isn't where the eye normally goes when walking up from the basement or coming in from the back door.



Here's a more natural angle which shows it even less.  It actually is a little beneficial in that it allows light to come in from the side which was the only down side from adding a window covering. 


The window above the sink is impossible to see from the side, so no one would ever be able to tell it sits further than normal from the frame.


You can also see my collection of new succulents from Ikea, (the best source I've found around here), that I've yet to figure out what to do with!

With a little modifying, I'm really happy that I was able to get inexpensive shades to fit our non-standard windows.  I was surprised at how much it warms up the space.  Just a couple last minutes touch-ups, (spray painting register covers, touching up the shoe molding), and we'll finally be finished!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bees and Honey

I mentioned last week that we got new bees a couple weekends ago.


We ordered them from a beekeeping shop about an hour from our house.  The package above is three pounds of Italian honey bees shipped from Georgia.  The package has about 10,000 bees, give or take, and comes with a mated queen.  The metal can inside the package is a syrup can and is used to keep the bees feed during the journey.

The queen does not come from this hive, so she's placed in a separate cage with a couple helper bees with her.  The cage has a screen side, to allow the new hive to interact with her without killing her.  The bees will kill the queen because they don't recognize her.  Pheromones are released and over a couple of days, the new hive will accept her as the queen.  It also comes with candy and a cork for releasing her after the period of time for introduction.  I didn't get a photo of our queen, but I found one online that shows what this little cage looks like.

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The bees are dumped into the hive, see the literal dumping process from last years hive here, and left to acclimate for a couple of days.  After waiting, Mike opened up the hive to release the queen.  You then wait longer so that you pretty much don't piss off the hive while the queen starts laying eggs.  If you do open up the hive and disrupt them, they may blame the queen and kill her off.  Being a queen sounds awesome, but there are so many chances of getting killed, that I think I'd decline!

This is our third time we've had to do this process.  While it's neat, it's frustrating that our bees aren't lasting through the winters.  We started our first hive too late in the season and they were too weak, it also didn't help that our winter was uncharacteristically mild.  The bees like temperatures above 50 degrees, so with the warmer winter days hovering around that temperature, we had very active bees, but not warm enough to get out of the hive.  Not that there would be any food sources available since it was still technically winter.  We learned our lesson and got last years hive going with more than enough time, and ended the season with a very strong hive.  I've mentioned that our winter was extremely long this year, and it was too long for our bees.  We tried all that we could to winterize them, but it wasn't enough.

All this loss made us decide to switch our hive structure.  We were so proud of our homemade Top Bar hive that was our mini house.


But, we felt the design of the Top Bar was inhibiting us from efficiently insulating them for the winter.  Winterizing a hive doesn't just mean keeping it warm, proper ventilation is required as well.  That's why we decided to get a Langstoth hive this year.

 
The Langstroth is obviously more vertical where the Top Bar is horizontal, and there are a lot of advantages to the Langstroth.  Here's a diagram of the parts of the hive:

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I'm not going to explain every part, but the basics are the Deep Super is for brood, (honey bee eggs),  and the Honey Super is obviously for the honey.  Some of the cooler aspects that differ from the Top Bar are the Queen Excluder which is a screen that is too small for the queen to fit through preventing her from laying any eggs in the Honey Super.  This makes honey collection a lot easier since our Top Bar combs had honey, brood, and pollen cells all together.  Also, the ability to add on supers as needed.  We would have to completely remove the combs in the top bar to make more room.

Mike also built a stand for ours which mimicked one we saw at our supplies shop, similar to this one which runs about $90:

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It keeps it higher off the ground, and Mike also added swinging metal arms to allow a place to hang frames while working in the hive.

You may also notice that the hive isn't in the same place as the last one.  As you know, we had to get the garage treated for termites, and this happened a couple days after we got the new hive, so we had to keep the back clear.  You also know that we have plans for the grassless area behind the garage, so we felt we should set up the hive on the side of the yard, while they acclimate, instead of moving them when we were ready to get the stone back there.  We're hoping the weather is cooperative for work this weekend.


Right now, the hive sits next to the hop trellis.


We're excited to finish up behind the garage and get the hive in it's permanent home soon.  Not only so the bees can get acclimated but also so we can get started on the side yard as well.  It's in a very sorry state.


Since we moved in 4 years ago we've focused our attention on getting the interior how we wanted and neglected the exterior.  This summer we're planning to change that!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Mighty Termitey

On Monday I shared our weekend recap and one important task that was completed was moving the entire garage contents into the center for remediation.  Remediation of termites.

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Mike found some evidence in the garage, (a couple mud tubes nothing more), a year ago and has been monitoring it.  This year they were back and a little more damage than he was comfortable with.  Nothing structural, just some wet cardboard that was demolished.

When we purchased our home 4 years ago we had a termite inspection and there was significant damage to the old garage.  Which wasn't surprising since the entire back "addition" was untreated wood placed directly into the ground.  You can see why we called this a shed instead of a feasible garage option. 

    
We always had plans to demolish it since we would need something substantially bigger, so we took the remediation money, ($300-$400), from the seller and tore it down.

We thought with all the work we did, demo, regrading the site, building in a different area, we were fine, but our area is a very established neighborhood and perfect place for termites, so they're back.


We've had no structural damage, but it's best to get rid of them now before they have the chance.  Like I said, Mike only found some mud tubes along the block, and they had gotten to some cardboard.  We have a sufficient foundation, and treated wood on top of that, so our suspicions were confirmed by the numerous companies we had come out to inspect for quotes that they were coming through the expansion joint between the block and sill plate.

To me it seemed crazy that our garage is threaten by these tiny bugs, but it wasn't so crazy when I saw what they had done to some of the wood scrap we had stored behind the garage.

This is a form Mike built for the bed of his truck which he uses during the winter to place buckets of sand it for the extra weight.


It's not a big deal but seeing the little paths and actually seeing the bugs themselves in those deeper holes made it real for me.  Not only that, but we moved the old hive from behind the garage and there was definite "structural" damage.


Since we've gotten a new hive, (details for another post), we're not concerned.  Also, it wouldn't be that hard to cut the damaged parts off, if we were to use it again.  We didn't use treated lumber because we didn't want any part of the hive to have chemical soaked wood, so we would have to come up with a different solution if we were to use this again.

This morning the exterminator that we chose actually begun the treatment, which is a liquid termiticide application.  They will trench around the perimeter and drill into the foundation then treat with a termiticide.  We chose this option because it was one the least expensive options at $350, but also because it will get rid of the termites that are already in the garage.  The other option, baiting, could take months, and was much more expensive at $800.

The hardest part of this option was the prep work, because access is needed around all the perimeter walls.  Mike woke up early Sunday morning and was crazy enough to complete this entire task by himself!  Seriously, I have no idea how he moved everything by himself.  There's large tables along all the walls and tool benches and even a refrigerator!

       
It's crazy to see the walls again since the moment this garage was built, it's been filled with Mike's tools.



It actually might be a good thing, because it's given us some ideas of how to better utilize the space for storage and work space.


Behind the garage also got cleaned up.  Not only did we get about $100 from the scrap metal we turned in that had been storing back there, we cleared out the area for the trenching.  Our first outdoor project was going to be addressing this area, so it's lucky we didn't do anything back here only to tear it up getting rid of the termites.


As hard as we tried, we can't get any grass to grow back here due to the large maple tree that over hangs from our neighbors yard.


From the other side you can see that the back slopes down and everything on the slope is covered in ivy.  Our property actually ends in the middle of the slope, before the big tree.  Our neighbor installed the fence lower because it was easier.

We still plan to put our bee hive back here but we're finally giving up on the grass and planing to fill it with rocks.  We also want to have a definite edge where the ivy begins so it doesn't look so overgrown.

We're going to get the same stuff as our side neighbor used for the area between our driveways.


It's been really nice the last couple of years, and it'll provide a better ground cover than our wishful grass.  We've got to clean up after the termite exterminator, but thankfully we're finally officially into nice weather again so we're anxious to get the rock down to make an actual useful space behind the garage. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Weekend Adventures

This past weekend was a big project and adventure filled blur.  I'll explain more later this week, but I wanted to share it all in one place first. 

It started with a trip to the scrap yard.  I'm not going to do a post or anything about it, but I've only been a couple times, and each time it's such an adventure.


Somehow everyone knows what to do and where to go, even though it's just a bunch of piles of scrap.  Scales, unloading, and money at the end, it's awesome!  It's also scary and sketchy at the same time. 

The reason we finally made a trip to drop the extra metal scrap we had lying around, (we usually make a trip ever year or so), was because Mike had to get the garage ready for some remediation.  I'll go into more detail later, but Mike spent yesterday morning moving everything in the garage to the center for access around the walls. 


Hopefully it'll all be back to normal by the end of the week.

Thankfully we had some pretty nice weather to work out in the garage and move things around outside, because we also got our new bees!


We've got a brand new hive and big plans for a new area for them.  Dropping the bees into the new hive was easy compared to the next task of extracting all the honey from our old hive, ugh, we spent most of Saturday and some of Sunday and we're only about half way done.  We're probably going to break down and get a machine extractor for the fall, because doing it by hand is so much work!

The final adventure was a trip to Ikea!  Like I've said, the closet one is an hour and 45 minutes away, so it takes some planning.  We had some items from the kitchen that needed returned and some organizational things I've been needing to get the kitchen in better shape.  Thank goodness we can close the doors and no one knows that some shelves are packed with random things, while some are completely empty!  Can't wait to get my organizing on!  I also had a gift card from some friends, so I definitely reminded myself to get some fun things too, (as if that was a problem!).


It was a little bittersweet because it being Mother's Day there were a ton of mother-daughter shopping partners.  I did call my mom to check in what's happening down in Florida and spent almost the entire ride over talking, which made the trip seem to go be super fast.  I also shared on Instagram one of my favorite photos of my mom which was taken by my brother at our wedding.


Happy Mother's Day to one of the classiest mom's I know! 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ummm.....

So, I've made some changes...obviously, right?

You'll remember back in January, I tried to move the blog.  I'll be the first to admit I have no idea what I'm doing over here.  I think of something, then google the heck out of it until I find a way to do it.  I thought the only way to change the blog name, address, layout, etc., etc. was to create a new one.  The problem was, a lot of people that come to my site are from features and in the age of Pinterest, I wasn't getting any organic traffic.  It was still coming through here.  So, yesterday I went into my settings and started playing around.  I was able to completely change everything exactly as I wanted it (in like 20 minutes!) and I didn't have to waste all my time creating a new site, go figure!

I still am glad I was able to work behind the scenes to get all my photos back from the big wipe out, but I wish I had known I would be able to change everything here. 

Just wanted to stop into let everyone know what's going on!  Sorry, to confuse anyone, read above - I really make this stuff up as I go, and don't always know what I'm doing, while I'm doing it.

I've got to clean up some double posts, but if you didn't make the move, check out our kitchen progress from the last couple of months!  Oh, and welcome to Danks and Honey!!