Changing A Shower Curtain Liner

19 11 2009

This is a very basic post, but I didn’t want to make assumptions that everyone would already know how to do this!  I have heard that you can prolong the life of your shower curtain liner by putting it in the washing machine and hanging it up to dry, but I haven’t tried that yet.  Instead, this weekend, I picked up a new liner to replace the one I’ve been using.

It’s a fairly simple process to replace the liner.  I first unhooked each of my shower hooks – mine work by pressing on the top of the metal hook so that it comes out from behind the clasp.


(Unfortunately, this picture came out a little blurry - that's what I get for taking a natural light shot in my very dark shower!)

Once they were all unhooked…

All unhooked

…I pulled off the old shower curtain liner.  Fortunately, none of my rings jumped off the rod!

Pulling off old liner

Then, I hooked on the new liner…

New liner

….closed each of the hooks again…


…and voila! I had a clean new shower curtain liner installed!

New liner!

There seems to be a dispute over how often you need to change the liner – some people think every three or six months, some say once a year, some say only when it’s grody (my word).  I think it’s something that you can usually tell for yourself and will differ based on household shower usage and the type of water you have.  For me, I changed mine because it was looking a little grody, which was about a year’s usage.


Adding Privacy Liners to Blinds

18 11 2009

When I moved in to my new house, I felt very fortunate that I had blinds already installed because I knew that they could be a costly investment to start out with!  But that good fortune turned to disappointment when I realized that the previous owner had never cleaned them.  Because they are not my style and because she had three cats living here (and I’m allergic – and I suspect that’s part of my dog’s allergies too, poor guy), I decided to replace them room by room.  I particularly love the bamboo shades I replaced them with in my bedroom and bathroom – they make me happy every time I see them.

My lovely shades

However, my excitment over the shades was tempered when I realized that although aesthetically pleasing, they weren’t exactly private.  My parents have similar shades in their living room, and pointed out to me that particularly at night, with the lights on, you can pretty much see everything in the room.  Definitely not ideal for a bedroom and bathroom. Particularly, when the house behind me is where my creepy neighbor lives and I’m not entirely sure he doesn’t spend his days attempting to look into my house.  I finally picked up some privacy liners for the shades this weekend, and after some careful review of the instructions and installing them, they gave me an incredible measure of relief!

I started by taking the shades down (in a future post, I’ll talk about installing them, hopefully when I put them up in my office!).  It’s a fairly easy process – I just lift up the bamboo flap covering the top brace and there are two nuts and bolts holding up the shade.  I just loosened the right one a little…


…and then took off the left one, so that I could remove the shade. 


The next step is to lay the shade on a flat surface, with the side of the shade that faces into your home facing down.  It’s probably easier to work on a hard surface like the floor or a table, but I used my bed since it was convenient and my sheets were in the wash.

Flat surface

Next, I took the liner out of the packaging and read through the instructions.  I first had to remove the velcro tab from the liner and carefully affix it to the top of the shade.

Affixing liner

Once it was attached, I used the included nails to further secure it to the shade, starting three inches from each side, and then spacing them evenly across the top.

Spacing nails

All nailed

The next step was to attach the liner to the velcro strip, and stretch it evenly over the shade.

Stretched evenly

Then, it’s necessary to affix the bolster strips on the liner to the shade itself, so that it correctly folds when I open it. I rolled up the liner to reveal the top bolster strip, made sure that it was properly stretched and flat, and then, about three to four inches in from the side, I planned to attach it to the bamboo blinds.

Bolster 1

To attach it to the blinds, the liner comes with several plastic ties.  The tie is pushed through the blind to the front…

Tie to the front

…and then pushed back through another slat to the back. 

Tie to the back

Then, you push the tie through a small loop on the bolster…

Through the little loop

and push it together.  It doesn’t work like a zip tie, in that the end doesn’t push all the way through so that you can tighten this. 

All together!

(Sorry this is a little blurry - I got a little closer than my little camera was happy with!)

I assume that’s to allow for some give, so that the shade doesn’t pull.  For larger shades, they say over 37″, you’ll need to repeat this process for the middle of the shade, as well as the other side.  Since I was working with small shades, I only needed to repeat it on the other side.  I continued for the remaining three bolsters, smoothed out the fabric again, and re-hung the shade.  You can really see the difference between the shade in my guest room with no liner, and the shade in my bathroom!

Without liner

Guest room, without liner

With liner

Bathroom, with liner

So now I can be comfortable in my own home, without worrying about my creepy neighbor.  I plan to replace the shades in my living room and dining room eventually, and will definitely be getting these privacy liners to keep would-be peeping toms guessing!

Lighting a Fire in Your Fireplace

17 11 2009

When I was looking at houses, a fireplace was never on my “must have” list, but I was very excited when my eventual home ended up having one.  During the inspection, the home inspector pointed out a small crack at the back of the fireplace, and suggested that I have a cleaner come to inspect it further before lighting a fire.  I finally got around to doing that last week and learned that because the fireplace is a pre-fabricated one, that’s common.  Unfortunately, the company that makes them is out of business, so it would be difficult to replace that back panel, which is where most of the heat during a fire resides.  He reassured me that it’s not a danger at this point and that I could still have a fire without burning my house down (phew!), but in the future, I’ll need to consider having him come back to seal up the crack and put in a heat reflector/shield, which will protect that back panel from further damage.  I certainly plan to do that, but not for a few months at least.

In the meantime, I can still enjoy a nice, cozy, crackling fire!

So in my weekend travels, I picked up a couple of small bundles of wood (not the most economical way of doing it, but I plan to only have a few fires).  I already had fatwood at home, which is a natural fire starter, so I didn’t pick up any of those lighter logs.  I called my parents to double-check the process and then got started.  I also made sure to have fireplace tools on hand, in case the logs shifted and I needed to move one.

When I had my fireplace cleaned, I learned that my grate was slightly too big (making it a bit of a jiggle to get the doors closed).  I did use the big grate for my first fire, but plan to measure the space and replace it soon.  My dad suggested that I start with four logs, the first two placed horizontally, with a little bit of space between them:

Two logs

The next two logs should be place at an angle, to allow for some room between them all:

Three logs

Four logs

Once the logs were set up, I checked to make sure the flue was open – this is key, because that’s how the smoke escapes your house.  Before you light the fire, check to make sure the flue is open!

Flue is open!

Then, I lit my first piece of fatwood and got ready for my fire!

Fatwood is lit!

I inserted it towards the back of the fireplace, between the top and bottom rows of logs, to help it set them afire.  I then lit another piece of fatwood and repeated the process on the other side so that it would burn evenly.

Starting to smoke!

It's starting to smoke!

Finally, the fire started to get going.

Just a little

Then it caught on a little more.

More fire

Finally, it was a beautiful fire!  I made sure to pull the metal curtains closed so that a certain curious basset hound of mine wouldn’t be tempted to check it out, though it turned out he wasn’t interested in the fire at all!

My first fire!

I was very excited to have my first fire, and look forward to many more successful cozy ones this winter!

Installing a New Showerhead

16 11 2009

When I moved into my house just over a year ago, I was very unhappy with the showerhead in my upstairs shower.  My mom thought it was great, because it has a few different settings, but since it’s plastic, I just thought of it as grody (that’s my favorite word lately for things that I think are gross).  I had a feeling changing out the showerhead would be an easy project, once I got around to doing it, and Bob Vila agreed, rating this as a “beginner” project on his website.  So now that I’m feeling a little better (I had the bronchitis) and was actually home on a weekend, I decided to include this in my to do list for the weekend.

First, I picked up the materials that I would need.  Before you head out to your local store, double check how your current showerhead is attached.  If it’s a square neck, you can use an adjustable wrench, but if it’s a round neck, you’ll need a strap wrench.  Mine was a square neck, so I put an adjustable wrench on my list.  I also needed a showerhead, of course, and was overwhelmed by the choices when I got there.  It’s definitely an individual choice, so after some back and forth, I finally decided on a Moen with three settings.  Another important thing you’ll need is plumbers tape – this is to wrap the threads of the shower stem to keep any water from coming out.  Some showerheads will come with what the guy at Lowe’s called a “baby roll” of plumbers tape (which mine did), but make sure to check before you leave the store. 

Bob Vila also suggests that you take this as an opportunity to replace your shower stem and collar (the handy little metal disk that sits up against the wall) if they’re pitted or corroded.  I didn’t do that this time, but I might in the near future.

When I was ready to start my project, I set out everything I would need and got started.  I’m pretty tall, but I still needed to stand on the sides of the tub to get a good view of the showerhead in order to remove it.  You might want to think about putting a step stool in the tub for more stability. 

Old Showerhead

Here's the old showerhead

The first step is to remove the old showerhead (remembering the old rule “righty tighty, lefty loosey” if you’re like me and always tightening things instead loosening them.  In this case, “lefty” is also counterclockwise).  Once you’ve removed the showerhead, it’s important to remove any traces of plumbers tape or sealant left behind on the threads.  I was able to do this with my fingernails, but I think a good stiff toothbrush would also do the trick if you’re having trouble.  If you are planning to replace the shower stem, check out Bob Vila’s step by step guide here.  He does suggest turning off your water before starting this project, but I didn’t do that, and it wasn’t any trouble.

Once you’ve cleaned off the tape and/or sealant, you’re ready to install the new showerhead. 

Clean shower stem

My shower stem, all cleaned off. You can see it's starting to corrode, so next on my list is replacing the stem

The next step is to wrap the plumbers tape around the exposed threads.  The tape should be wrapped clockwise, twice around the threads.

Wrap tape clockwise around the threads

The tape should be wrapped clockwise around the threads

The tape is not too thick, but I used a pair of scissors to cut it.  You’ll want to have those handy to make it easier!

Finally, it was time to put the new showerhead on!

new showerhead

New showerhead - yay!

Although this part might seem the easiest, it’s also a spot where mistakes can happen.  You want to be sure not to cross-thread the showerhead and shower stem, so carefully align the showerhead and hand-tighten it on to start.  Then, you can tighten it further using your wrench (I again needed the adjustable wrench to tighten this showerhead).


It's all installed!

Finally, you do want to turn the water on at this point to check for any leaks.  Then your new showerhead is ready to use! 

All done

Looks good!