Happy Easter from everyone here at the Retro Ranch! Yes, I paid Leo in ham to be the Easter Bunny this year… he is such a good boy!

This was the first Easter at the Retro Ranch. Jim and I decided to invite his family up for Easter dinner. Since our nephew Noah is five, we did a little Easter egg dying to commemorate the occasion. Jim and I were used to dying eggs in little cups of colored water/vinegar and using the egg dippers to carefully lift the eggs in and out of the dyes, but apparently that way is so last year. My father-in-law decided it would be fun to get the kind of dye that you put into a little plastic container with the egg and shake to dye the egg. I think when my mother-in-law saw the words dye and shake in the same sentence, she decided we would be doing this at my house and not hers.

If you add dye, shake and five year old who never stops moving together you get a recipe for certain disaster…

Jim or in this case, Uncle Jimmy was in charge of reading the directions for this fancy new scary way of ruining my countertops dying eggs.

All looked like it was going well for a while…

…that is until my mother-in-law realized the joke might be on her…

I guess Easter eggs aren’t the only thing that is rainbow colored this year….tee hee hee!

Happy Easter!



As the title of this post suggests, I hit one heck of a sale this weekend! I got 5,000 pounds of stuff on sale. Now why do I need 5,000 pounds of stuff? For my raised bed victory garden of course!

I originally thought I would gather my materials on Saturday, however; even though last Sunday was 85 degrees, this Saturday it snowed:

So Sunday was the day to get the job done! I called my friend Jacob (the one with the truck) and got my Pontiac Vibe ready to do some serious hauling. I figured if we did about three trips with both vehicles, we could get it all done…

That’s me and my trusty orange Vibe in front of my old house…

After a few hours (Menards is about 10 minutes away), several trips, and one pit stop at Taco Bell (gotta eat!) this is what we had to show for it:

If you add these materials to the stuff I already scored on sale at Menards, I am nearly ready to start assembling my raised bed garden! I am only missing the compost!

Since I had planned out my garden and had a list of the materials I needed way in advance, I was able to watch for sales and so far I bought every piece for my garden project on sale!

Here’s what I’ve sunk into the project so far:

  • 64 – 8x8x16 concrete blocks – $60.16 (retail price $69.12) 36lbs ea = 2,304lbs
  • 32 – 4x8x16 caps – $30.72 (retail price $34.56) 33lbs ea = 1,056 lbs
  • 35 – 50lb bags of sand – $52.50 (retail price $108.50) 1,750lbs
  • 12 – 2.2 cu. ft. bales of peat moss $71.76 (retail price $87.75) 20lbs ea = 240lbs
  • 2 – 4’x80′ rolls of landscape fabric $10.98 (retail price $19.98)
  • 1 -4’x25′ roll of hardware cloth $44.99 (retail price $64.00)
  • 1 – 4’x50′ roll of green vinyl coated garden fencing $29.98 (retail price $56.00)
  • 17 seed packets for various veggies/herbs $16.26 (retail price $19.51)

Retail price $459.42
Total spent: $317.35
Total saved $142.07
Total hauled today = 5,350 lbs!!!!

Add in the cost to get the materials to our house (about $40 for gas  – Jacob’s truck – and taco bell – Jacob) and we even saved on delivery (Menards charges $59).

I was so excited about the savings, I used all my extra energy to tackle a little issue that had come up since my last post about yard work.

See this mess of branches:

Little did I know that it was the perfect place for a duck to live. Yes, I said duck. By leaving this mass of brush around, I had unknowingly created a duck habitat. There are a few small lakes near our house and this duck must spend most of his daytime hours there, but he was sleeping at our house. I know this because every morning when I leave for work, the duck would scare the heck out of me. The first morning I knew something was up was when I was laying in bed and thought I heard quacking. Since I am not a morning person, I thought it could have been a dream. But after I nearly dumped my coffee on my way out the door when a duck darted out of the brush pile, I knew something was up.

So out came my handy hand saw, clippers and brush cans:

Leo was too busy napping in the sun to help much with this bit of yard work:

After a few hours of clipping and stacking, the duck habitat and the mess was gone as well as the part of pine tree that we had hacked down over the winter.

All in a day’s work…


Has spring finally sprung in Wisconsin?

There are bulbs coming up everywhere and I only planted a few of them…so it will be interesting to see how the collection shapes up. I guess that’s what happens when you buy a house in June. No bulbs up then.

Last Saturday the weather was absolutely wonderful! It was sunny and 50 degrees. Of course we had a hail storm the following day, but Saturday Leo and I decided to do some yard work.

We have trees, shrubs, weeds, flowers and everything you could think of growing everywhere. The previous owners of the Retro Ranch weren’t much for yard work, except mowing the lawn…so we have a lot of work ahead of us. I decided to trim along the back fence, so out came the hand saw and nippers. (and Leo of course)

After about an hour I had a large pile of brush to deal with…

After I fought Leo for the “big stick” I had three cans of brush out for the brush pickup guys and another pile to saw into smaller pieces…

…along with a much clearer back fence!

Here’s hoping for more yard work weather in the near future!


As the title of this post suggests, there was a time when the room we now refer to as the office was, um….well….awful. This happened to be right after we moved into the Retro Ranch and the office was the room where we put anything we didn’t yet have a spot for. It was actually referred to as “the pile room” by Jim and myself.

See what I mean by pile.

Then we got to an office-like set-up and I got around to painting the walls.

I used the same Sherwin Williams paint that I used in the rest of the house, this time choosing reclining green. The room looks less like a pile in this stage, but still could use some improving, tidying up and of course new window treatments. (Have I mentioned how much I hate those plastic vertical blinds?)

The office was also adding to it’s title. With the addition of the drafting table (which I scored on Craigslist for $50) and the easel (got that dumpster diving in my old neighborhood) it seems that this is now the office/art room.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was on a mad search for window treatments to cover my huge corner windows in the master bedroom. The office has the same huge corner windows and I liked how the bedroom turned out , so I decided to use the same solution for the office. My IKEA shopping list for the office was identical to the master bedroom except I changed up the fabric for the panels. My new selection was the SOLVEIG panel in orange.

My decision to replace the office vertical blinds couldn’t have come at a better time. The vertical blinds must have heard me talking about their replacements because when I went to close the blinds for the night, one jumped off the wall and bit me.

Apparently the blinds had enough of the name calling. They couldn’t stand my constant disapproval of the way they looked. In a last ditch effort to get some attention they jumped directly on me. This was the last straw for me. I put a sheet over the window and went to IKEA for some new window treatments.

After taking the sheet down…

No more vertical blinds!

That roller shade is the only original window treatment left in the house. When I took it down, I thought I should put it in the guest room (there was also a sheet hanging in there because that window was bare when we bought the house) to make the house a sheet-free window covering zone. Luckily, the windows were the exact same size and the hardware was still up from the original roller shade so I just had to slip it into place and voila! No more sheets on our windows!

Installing the KVARTAL panel curtains was much easier the second time around since I had already figured out how to hang them in the master bedroom.

This time I only hit two little snags. The first was the IKEA saw’s blade (which must have loosened from all the previous sawing) flew off while I was sawing the first rail for the office. This was easily remedied by putting it back on and tightening it. Still, now I know to check the saw blade to make sure it is firmly secured after every use.

My second issue was the panels I chose for the office are thicker than the panels for the bedroom, which makes them harder to insert into the top and bottom panel holder rails. In fact, I needed quite a lot of patience for that step. Luckily, I had plenty on hand, especially since I broke the job up into two days so as not to suffer blind installation burn out. Below are my results:

The panels cast a lovely orange glow when the sun is out.

I took this opportunity to rearrange and further tidy up the office as well.

That is a painting I am working on (not done yet) of my grandfather when he was a teenager.

It is sitting on the new easel I got for Christmas…which is by far the most awesome easel I have ever had the chance to use!

There is Jim’s desk (and his amp). This is the most clean Jim’s desk has ever been.

Is that an awesome orange chair?

I got this cool chair at a yard sale several summers ago in my old neighborhood. It is very comfy. Makes for an excellent thinking chair.

See that huge closet with two sets of doors? Its full. One side is all Jim’s board games (he is obsessed I think) and the other side is all my art stuff, wrapping paper, shipping supplies and other odds and ends. Yikes.

There is my desk. This is where Retro Ranch Revamp happens every week!

Shall we open the curtains? The sun is out!

Looks like we need some new windows in here too…it is a little breezy….but at least the view is nice!

This concludes the office/art room tour… it is so much better than the awful pile of a room it was before.

Despite the breezy windows, this room is a great place to spend time in…painting, blogging, or if your are my husband…

…playing computer games.





As you may recall, we had a bit of an issue with our plastic vertical blinds when we took them down to get our new windows installed, which resulted in us using a sheet to cover one of the windows in our master bedroom.

It was not the ideal window treatment, but neither were the plastic vertical blinds. It was time to get serious about finding a new way to cover our corner windows.

I did some research both on retro and modern ways to cover corner windows and thought I had a plan all figured out until the new windows were in and I discovered that I didn’t have enough room to do an inside mount for roller shades. DRAT! Back to the drawing board.

Not only are our windows in a corner, but they are also huge. Each window is 72 inches wide by 36 inches high not including trim. That spells custom window treatments which means expensive. This is where my idea to look at IKEA curtains came in. As we all know, IKEA is home to affordable modern stuff that many tmes you can customize to fit your needs. I had always liked the KVARTAL panel curtain and track system at IKEA, so I figured maybe I could make that work for my windows.

Luckily, I have a friend who has installed the KVARTAL curtain system in her house so I could ask her all of my planning questions (since our nearest IKEA is over and hour and a half away). At first I thought I needed all sorts of extra stuff (the directions are confusing!) but once I talked to Krystal about it, I realized I was making it way more complex that it actually was.

If you want to avoid the step-by-step instructions please scroll waaaay down the post to see the finished product!


First you need the wall hardware. I chose the larger of the two bracket choices because of the number of tracks I needed to hold the panels to cover my 72 inch wide windows.

Then you need the rails. In order to cover each 72 inch window with some overlap, I needed four panel curtains per window. Since I wanted the curtains to open from one side to the other (due to my corner window) instead of pulling half the panels to each side, I needed one track for each curtain panel. Therefore I need four tracks, so I bought the three track rail and a single track rail, adding up to four total tracks. Since each rail is 55 inches long, I needed two of each kind for each window and yes, I would have to cut them (this worried me at first) so I bought the recommended IKEA saw.

You also need the curtain panel top and bottom rails.

You will need one of these for every panel you are hanging. It is the part that holds the fabric panel and connects onto the rail.

Choose your panels! This is the fun part. You can either go with something IKEA has already cut and packaged for the KVARTAL system (which is what I chose to do) or you can make your own panels out of any fabric or any other material you can think of that you can make panels with. I chose the ANNO SANELA style in beige. I would have liked to pick a color for my shades, but the colors they had available didn’t really go with the bedroom and I didn’t feel like making my own panels, though I may do it in the future.

Lastly, you need a draw rod for each window. Originally I thought I needed one for each panel! Wow was I wrong. Luckily my friend Krystal set me straight before I got the the checkout with a whole pile of draw rods. (note: you can go without the draw rod and just pull the curtains shut with your hands, however, this accelerates dirt accumulation and wear on the curtain panels, so I advise getting the draw rod.)

This system of curtains actually ended up costing half what I would have paid to have custom (huge) roller blinds made for my windows!


Ok, first let’s see what we need to do this job in addition to the parts I just detailed above:

  • Flat topped screws (with mollies if you don’t hit a stud) to attach the brackets to the wall. This is important because the way the brackets are made is that you attach an under plate to the wall and then slide the bracket over it which hides the screws. If you don’t get flat head screws, the bracket will not slide over the plate. I started out with rounded head screws and had to go back to the hardware store. Boo.
  • Drill with drill bits and screwdriver bits. Variable speed drills are best if you have access to one. It just makes life easier!
  • Hammer to pound in the mollies.
  • Ikea saw see above
  • Clamps to hold down the rods while you are sawing them
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil for marking on the wall
  • Sharpie For marking on the curtain panels and the rails if you have to cut them
  • T-square or ruler for drawing a straight line on panels to cut on
  • Scissors
  • Level no one wants crooked drapes!
  • Step stool or ladder if you are short like me
  • Someone else to help you like your adorable husband! Several parts of this job require two sets of hands.
  • Patience it takes a while to figure out some of the steps, but once you get it, it gets easier!

Ok, now we are ready to start hanging the curtains!

First figure out how long you want your curtain rods to be. I decided mine should be 86 inches long so they would cover the 72 inch window and then allow some extra space for the curtains to hang when they are open (that way they block less of the window).

Once you have that measurement figured out, cut your rails to size. Since I am using two rails of each size per window and they are 55 inches each, I want to cut them so they will connect in the middle where the wall bracket is so they will be supported. I cut each rail to 43 inches.

It helps to clamp the rail to the surface you are cutting on (in this case, my kitchen counter) which minimizes slipping and makes it easier to cut. Surprisingly, I liked IKEA’s saw for this job, even though I often think their tools are not the best. The box was adjustable so that a center piece popped in and out to hold either a three rail or a single rail track. It was also grooved to aid in the gripping of the track. As far as the sawing went, it was much easier to cut the single rail than the triple because it was less materials to cut through and it fit better in the miter box. Once I got the triple rail started, it wasn’t so bad. Just getting the cut straight from the start takes a little bit of patience.

Next you need this piece. (and the little allen wrench that adjusts it) The center screw is what goes through the wall bracket and attaches the rail to the wall. The other screws are what hold this piece in place inside the rail.

On each end of each rail, that center screw must be between 2 inches and 5  7/8 inches from the end of the rod. This is likely for stability’s sake. I decided to put mine 5  7/8 inches from the end.

When you join two pieces of rail together, the center screw must be in the center. This provides added stability for the rail. Make sure all four of the side screws are tightened with the allen wrench to keep the track together.

Both rails should have the center screws line up on the ends and in the middle, as they will both be hooked onto the bracket in the same place.

Since I am working in a corner, I decided to put the end caps on one side of my rails so I wouldn’t have to work in the corner later to get them on.

Next you need to figure out where the wall brackets should go. IKEA suggests that you leave at least an inch from the corner of the wall to the end of the rail, probably so you can get the end caps on and off as needed. I knew I put my screw to attach the rail to the bracket at 5  7/8 inches from the end, so I measured 6  7/8 inches from the corner for my first wall bracket.

For this tutorial, I am hanging my second rail, so I took the measurement from the existing rail that I had hanging and butted the second rail right up to the first rail so that the entire corner would be covered. (see finished rails below for what I am talking about!)

Then I measured 5  7/8 inches from that rail to hang my first bracket there. From the center of that bracket, I measured 38 inches (distance from center screw to center screw on my rails) and did the same for the third wall bracket.

Of course you want to make sure they are level. I measured 2 inches up from my top trim on the window (which is level!) You need to leave at least an inch or two between the top trim and the bottom of the bracket so you can tighten the bracket in place.

Trace the outline of your wall plate so you have an idea of where to line it up when you screw it into the wall.

Drill holes where your screws will go. If you hit a stud, you will only need a tiny hole for the screw. If you don’t you will need to drill a larger hole to insert mollies so your screws have something to grab onto and therefore will not fall out of the wall. (This part was very frustrating at first! In the corner of our room we have the hardest wood studs ever and we had a heck of a time drilling/getting the screws in on the first one! Luckily my patient husband Jim figured out a good method for making the holes and then we were all set!)

If you are using mollies, gently tap them in with a hammer. If they don’t go right in and bend when you hammer them, your holes are not quite big enough. Remember, they will expand when you screw in the screw and will be secure in the wall.

Next screw in your bottom plate. Oops! I didn’t get a picture of this step! I started the screws with my hand screwdriver and then used my drill with screwdriver bit to finish them off. It is important that the bottom plates are level because they are the foundation of your rod system! I held a mini-level on the top of the plate as I screwed it in to make sure that it was level. It is a little frustrating, but with some patience it can be done!

Now it’s time to put the brackets up! They slide over the plate and then are tightened with a tiny screw and allen wrench to hold them in place.

Now it’s time to put up the rails! This part requires two sets of hands enter adorable husband Jim. We hung the triple rail in the front and the single rail below. If the center screws in your rails don’t totally line up, fear not! You can just unscrew the side screws, move it over a little, and tighten them back down. We had to do that even with our careful measuring.

As you can tell by the windows, it was getting dark. Once the rails are up, you should probably feed your husband if you want him to continue to help you!

Once you are refueled and realize you need to finish the curtains so you have window treatments for the night….

Unroll your curtain material and measure the desired length of each panel remembering it will be about half an inch shorter once you attach the fabric to the top and bottom rail. I made my panels 50 inches each. I measured and marked three dots with a sharpie so that I could ensure a straight line.

Next use a t-square or ruler to draw your cut line. Luckily I had the t-square laying around from my art school days.

Cut your panel carefully!

Now you will need to attach the top and bottom rails. Start with the top. Lay the top piece (holes up) at the end of your fabric.

Remove the strip to expose the sticky stuff on the strip that holds your panel in the top rail.

Stick it to the curtain panel about 1/4 inch from the top and fold the fabric over the strip, then feed it into the slot in the top rail.

Screw in two of the short screws on the center holes only (see circled above) with the allen wrench. This holds the panel in place.

Using the same method, put the rail on the bottom of the panel, using all four screws to secure it.


On the top of the rail, screw in the catch as shown below. This is where it starts getting tricky folks. If you want your curtains to catch on each other as you open and close them, you will need to install these catches. It took me about an hour to figure out how to get them to work. What works for me is putting all four panels back catches like this:

Then I put the first panel front catch on like this:

This will be the panel that has the draw rod on it and is on the front track.

The next 3 panels will have the piece on with the loop on the fabric side as show below:

Hang the panels by putting the glides into the track you want to hang the panel on and then simply snapping the knobs on the top panel curtain rail into the glides.

When you have all four panels in and they are in the open position the catches will look like this:

Disclaimer: This is how the catch system worked for me. Depending on how you are having your panel curtains open and which side they are opening from, they may be different. This part of the process takes the most patience and a little bit of trial and error. I just figured it would be helpful to see how it looks in pictures instead of the IKEA drawn instructions which can be confusing. I am by no means an expert!

Now simply clip the draw rod onto the front panel!

Put on your end caps and you are ready to go!

For all of you who skipped the tutorial, HERE’S THE REVEAL!

The corners meet up nicely!

Here is how they look in the day. The panels do not completely block out the light. This is fine for us because 1) our closest neighbors can’t see in our windows anyway 2) We need some light to come in and wake us up in the morning so we don’t sleep all day and 3) They let in enough light so we don’t stumble around due to being blinded by too much light or it not being light enough in the morning! IKEA does make panels that are more sheer as well as panels that block out more light. For our needs in this room a middle of the road solution was right for us.

Look how nice they look! Now to fix the spots where the old window treatments were attached to the wall…but that’s for another day.

Once again for drama…

Here is what we used to have for window treatments:

Then we had this:

and finally:

So much better!

For anyone who is thinking of putting up the KVARTAL panel curtain system or is frustrated and in the midst of an install, I hope this helps!

UPDATE: I’ve just installed KVARTAL Curtains in my Guest Room. I used light blocking and sheer panels that open from the inside out…check out my post here.