About Ali Cummins

Posts by Ali Cummins:

Hanging a Curtain Rod

Double Curtain Rod
As I mentioned in my Thank Goodness for Online Shopping postI am focusing on nurturing two of my spaces this year.
First, the family room. It has been a sad, bare place for the first year of living in this house. Prior to the baby, I added new couches, but really, that’s all the love that room has gotten from me. The walls are empty and the windows are dreadfully bare. I found this great idea to basket weave my curtains on Pinterest, the source of all fantastic ideas. So, while my mom was hard at work getting those ready for me (thanks, Mom!), I purchased this wonderfully affordable double curtain rod at Walmart. I gathered supplies, and it was time to get them up!

*Double curtain rods are used for hanging sheers under your curtains. They can add a two-dimensional look to the room and allow you to play with multiple color combinations.

Ready to hang that curtain rod? Here’s what you’ll need:
Screwdriver (flat head or Phillips head, depending on the type of screws provided with the curtain rod)
Anchors and screws (these should be provided with your curtain rod)
Patience — every home project needs a little of that!

1) Decide how far out from the window you want the curtain rod to extend and how far above the window it should sit. This will affect the look of your curtain. Be sure that when the curtain length is appropriate for how high you are hanging the rod.

2) Hold the brackets in place, take your pen, and mark through the screw holes where you will need to drill.Drill bit size

3) Choose the appropriate drill bit size. Confirm you have the appropriate one by holding the bit next to the anchor for comparison. Tighten the bit into the drill, and you are ready to go!

4) Hold the drill perpendicular to the wall to make the hold as straight as possible. Now the fun part, drill!


5) Hammer the anchors into the wall. Fasten the brackets to the wall with the provided screws using your screwdriver or electric screwdriver, if you are lucky enough to have one! You’ll want to make sure that the screws are secured tightly. You don’t want the rod falling on your head!


6) Depending on the length of the rod, you may have more than one connecting piece. Ensure that you have them correctly ordered (they usually come with some sort of numbering system) and insert them through the brackets. Attached the finials (end pieces), and you’re done!


Each home improvement project comes with some snags. During this project, I learned that you cannot assume walls will be made up of either wood or drywall. Exterior walls next to the sliding glass door sometimes have a metal-type material that you cannot drill through. Also, you may run into an electrical conduit (no worries; you cannot penetrate these with a drill!). If you run into either of these problems, you have two options: 1) move the bracket over or 2) buy smaller anchors and screws to fit the short hole you’ll be able to drill. If you choose to move the bracket over and it doesn’t throw off the symmetry of your rod, knock on the walls to determine where the metal ends. You’ll hear a hollower knock when you reach an area made of material you can drill through.

Hanging pictures right on the first try

Big empty walls scare me. What will I hang on them? How am I going to know what it’ll look like? The pressure is on. If I don’t like what I hang, that’ll mean extra time, money, and energy spent fixing what I’ve done just to have to start over again. Makes a person just want to leave the walls bare or live with whatever crooked nightmare that’s been hung up there.

I was so thankful when I discovered this easy extra step to help visualize what your wall will look like when done. Have extra coloring pages sent home to you by a well-meaning daycare that you aren’t quite sure what to do with? We can only fill up so many binders with artwork. Unless you bought a house with an extra room to dedicate as an “art” room, you know you’ve got some floating around without a purpose. Perfect! Use them to guide your wall decorations.

Hanging Pictures paperHanging pictues 2

Here’s what you’ll need:
Cardboard, paper, newspaper, kid’s artwork, etc.
Actual artwork or decoration you’ll be hanging

1) Cut paper or cardboard to the exact (or as close to exact) size of the decoration you will be hanging.

2) Tape it to the wall where you think you might like it. Play around with it for a while until you settle on the location that is most pleasing to you.

3) Use your yardstick or level to ensure that you have your paper level and evenly spaced.

4) Mark through the paper and onto the wall where your nail will need to be.

5) Hammer the nail into the wall and hang your picture.

6) Enjoy the surprising lack of stress. You got it right the first time!

* Tip: I learned this fun tip from a good friend and roommate in college. While you’ll probably need to invest in a good hammer eventually, you can make do with a high-heeled shoe. That’s right! Who knew those uncomfortable but stylish shoes could double as a tool? Just use the heel end to hammer your nail in place. It is surprisingly easy and effective.

High Heel shoe

Removing Carpet

I have a confession to make. I suffer from very satisfying moments of insanity and then have to scramble to clean up the evidence. This is one such story.

My darling Laika dog was old and sick. Unbeknownst to me, she had been having accidents on the carpet in the dining room. By the time the smell invaded the parts of the house we actually used, it was a lost cause. Of course, I didn’t know that yet, so I dutifully tried everything Google told me to do to get rid of the mess and the smell. Oh, the smell.

Coming down the stairs one night, the smell came up to meet me, and I snapped. I had to get rid of the carpet. I spent the next couple of hours destroying my dining room. I imagine I looked like a mad carpenter flinging carpet shreds, nails, and balls of green carpet padding in the dead of night. Now that I’ve returned to the world of the sane, I can calmly explain the process of removing carpet.



  1. First, get your mindset straight. You can do this. You may find it challenging or not, but regardless, you can do it yourself without having to hire out the project.
  2. Gather your tools: gloves, mask, safety goggles, utility knife(sometimes known as a box cutter or carpenter’s knife), hammer, cat’s claw or pry bar (personally, I love the Wonder Bar), and staple remover.
  3. Start in a corner of the room, and use your pry bar or utility knife to pull up an edge of carpet.
  4. This is the best step. Get a good hold on the edge of the carpet and PULL! You’ll be amazed at what your strength can accomplish.
  5. To make the cleanup process easier, as you work across the room, fold the carpet to expose the back, and use your utility knife to cut it into manageable pieces – whether that is smaller squares, larger areas you can roll up and carry, or strips that will easily fit in a trash bag.
  6. After you have removed the carpet, use the same process to remove the carpet padding.
  7. Now comes the tedious, not-so-much-fun part. The cleanup. If you have wooden strips along the edge of your walls that were used to nail the carpet into, you’ll need to pry these up with your pry bar and remove any nails that have stuck in the subflooring. Next, use a staple remover or the tip of your pry bar to remove all the staples, most with bits of carpet padding stuck to them, from the subflooring. Any rogue nails or staples that are just too stubborn to come out, hammer down.
  8. Sweep up and have a glass of wine. You did it!

Removing Skunk Smell from Dogs

Tuesday morning started like any other. I was up after a couple of snoozes on the alarm, put the dog outside, and got Skunkinto the shower. Upon exiting the shower, I was hit by an overwhelming stench. A skunk had sprayed, and my house was at ground zero. I knew that my poor, sweet dog had been the instigator for its release. What to do now!? With no other way around my time constraints, I left her in the basement and spent maybe too much of my work day scouring Pinterest and gathering co-worker advice. Each source told me that I was going to need hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap. This solution brought up another problem. I did not have hydrogen peroxide on hand and the thought of going to the store to get some after daycare pickup had me looking up how long it takes for skunk smell to go away on its own (see Thank Goodness for Online Shopping). (more…)

Removing Sticky Labels

This month’s half-price Goodwill sale was particularly good. If you haven’t discovered this sale, you need to check it out.Removing Sticky labels Goodwill can sometimes get a bad rap. It’s easy to think of it as just a bunch of old stuff that someone didn’t want anymore, and really, it is. But, as the wise old saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Typically the first Saturday of the month is the half-price sale, and this is when Goodwill puts out all of its treasures. Here are some helpful hints: go to the largest  location, go early, and don’t shop too fast; the best finds are usually hidden. (more…)