Spooky Potion Bottle Ornaments

Potion Bottle Ornament
Last year the Halloween trees never made it out of the garage. I was still recovering from my time in the hospital and I had zero energy to dedicate to optional tasks, no matter how much joy those might bring me. So this year, I’m bringing Halloween back with a vengeance. And first up is a little refreshing for those Halloween trees with a new ornament. This is the perfect “non-crafter” craft since it’s just putting glitter in a bottle and slapping on a label, so if you have a Girls Night Out or a Harvest Festival or PTA night or something where you have to entertain a whole bunch of different skill levels, this project is perfect for you.

Step 1
Collect your bottles. I got mine at the craft store, but this is a great opportunity for upcycling. Any bottle will work, you just need a way to close it, preferably with a cork. Then you let your creativity go wild filling the jar with something that looks spooky. I used a variety of glitters in different colors and sizes because these are going on a very glittery tree, but I think raiding the backyard would yield some interesting results, and same for anything from the hardware store to the pet store to the dollar store. These would look awesome full of bird seed or even little plastic spiders.

Step 2

Pop the cork back in place with a little hot glue to keep all those little glitter pieces in their place. Don’t be shy with the glue either because this has to be in place firmly enough to hold the weight of the bottle.

Step 3

Use a little more hot glue to secure a screw eye into the cork. Or lid. These are easy to find at the hardware store in the section with the hanging supplies. A little dab of glue to keep it from pulling out, then just screw down into the cork.

Step 4

Then it’s just a matter of decorating the bottle. I kept it simple with a little label, but you could go big with ribbon and fake spider web and anything you can imagine. Here’s my genius secret for these labels: just go to Avery.com/print and use one of their templates. This is not a sponsored post or an ad. I was in the middle of designing something from scratch when I realized I needed to go to the website to download their template and discovered a whole mess of them already made up for me. So I shrugged, figured ‘why reinvent the wheel’ and just printed off what was already available. I had to make some size adjustments to get them to fit on the bottle, but that’s because I picked weird shaped bottles.

Potion Bottle

To hang these, just add some string through that eye screw and tie a knot to make a loop. I have mine tucked into the branches of my whimsical tree and it’s amazing how much they add to the overall look of the tree. Adding a big splashy ornament is just what they needed to look brand new.


Show You Care

Happy love

This neverending fertility journey I’m on has been horrific. I got some more bad news this week, but I’ll get into that another day. Right now I’m deep into self-care mode with lots of puzzle doing, cat snuggling, and playing with Atti to get me through the hard stuff.

As I’ve been wading through all my tender feelings, it’s really hard to not sink into a place of desperation or loneliness. It’s really really easy to succumb to all the magical thinking that tells you there’s a reason you can’t have kids, and that it’s because there is something wrong with you. This infertility stuff, I tell you, it gets right down to the core of your identity and the love you have to give and long to receive.

But one beautiful bright spot in all this darkness is how people have shown up for me.

When I go through a hard time, I cocoon. I don’t leave the house, I don’t reach out for help, I hide in a safe space until I feel strong enough to re-engage with the world. Of course, this coping mechanism comes with some significant drawbacks. Namely, when the hard time is your own body and mind, a cocoon isn’t always a safe place. And often, hiding by yourself just intensifies the loneliness. But what is a person to do when they need support but don’t have the energy or courage to ask? You ask in whatever way you can bring yourself to. Sometimes that’s just squeaking out “help” to a trusted friend, sometimes it’s attending a meeting, sometimes it’s even vaguebooking.

Over the last few days the texts and PM’s and emails have been flying my way from all sides. Some who recognize what it means when I post about having a “bummer day” while in the midst of fertility treatments. Some responding to a more detailed call for help, and some just following an impulse inspired by whatever you want to call the human connection we all share. I call it God.

As I’ve been lost in the fog of my own problems, I’m constantly amazed at the goodness of people, putting aside their own problems to care about mine. To take the time to send a text while they’re racing around with all their own responsibilities. Who forgive me when I need to take some time to respond from the well I’m at the bottom of. Who never ignore that impulse to offer kindness.

When I’m more myself, I tend to wander through life with a big goofy grin on my face and my unmistakable cackle announcing my arrival. My laugh is something I’ve been self-conscious of forever – it is loud and omnipresent, but I know that if you ask people who love me what they love about me, my laugh comes to the top of the list. And even strangers have told me that my laugh cheered them up. How silly that something so small as a laugh is all it takes to spread a little joy. When something as untaxing as a high five can turn a day around. From my current vantage point under the covers, a text is hope. A friendly nod can overcome so much sorrow.

SoulPancake, home of Kitten Therapy and Kid President, has launched their latest viral campaign to put some goodness into the world by challenging people to show they care. This video totally made me cry at how beautiful the world is. From the high-fiving baby to the gentleman on the phone spelling out plainly exactly what the person on the other end meant to them, it’s a lovely reminder to step outside ourselves and our fear of rejection and prove how much love is in the world.

Because there is always more love than loneliness. And it takes so little to remind us of that. So do it today. #showyoucare


DIY Outdoor Coffeetable

In my last post I showed you my great big sectional process, and quickly realized that a sectional is not a sectional without an ottoman or coffeetable in front of it. You cannot lounge and worry where to put your drink. So today we conquer making the matching coffeetable. The sectional wasn’t exactly complicated, just big, and in comparison this project is one you could put together with your eyes closed.

Step 1
I’m taking a little bit of a short cut here since I’m using all the same materials, the assembly is done in the same pilot hole/wood screw way, and is still dependent on the measurements of your cushions that determined the size of your sectional. You don’t want a giant coffeetable and an itty bitty sectional, so you have to keep them proportional. If you have any questions about those items, refer to the sectional post.

Cut your 2 x 3’s to size. For this project you’ll need 4 pieces 36″ long, 6 pieces 30″ long, and 4 pieces 18″ long.

You’ll need to build two box shapes, each with a center support, that will become the top and shelf of your table.  Just sandwich three of the 30″ pieces between two of the 36″ pieces and screw it all together. And do it again for the other five pieces.

Step 2
Your four 18″ pieces are your legs. For this part it’s best if you break out the level. You want to make sure you don’t install the shelf lopsided. Line one of your boxes up flush with the legs by laying it all on the ground, screwing the pieces together, and then flipping it over. To install the bottom shelf it works great to lay it all on it’s side. Make sure that you leave a few inches of leg below the box so that nothing’s resting on the ground.

Step 3
For the top and shelves you’ll switch to the 1 x 3 furring strips just like we did for the sectional. You’ll need to cut 14 pieces 33″ long for the top, lay them out the way you want, and screw them into place.

Step 4
Then cut 10 pieces 19″ long for the shelves, offsetting them so there are five pieces on each side of that center support beam, creating two shelves. Screw down.

Step 5
Then it’s the regular old sand prime paint procedure.

Finished CoffeetableThe shelf design was a bit of an accident. I planned on making the bottom shelf solid just like the top, but I forgot I’d have to cut around those legs and that sounded like a whole lot of no fun. So I changed the design and I think it looks so much cooler! Happy Accidents are totally what makes it worth it.



Build a DIY Outdoor Sectional

Outdoor Sectional

So, I know it’s Fall now and everybody has moved on to pinning Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving tablescapes, but I just can’t let this project sit on my hard drive until next summer. It’s already been finished for months and months but between surgeries and fertility and recovery and the hellishness of the last year it never got the attention I wanted to give it. So I am going to stop waiting for perfection and just send it out into the world. Nobody reads things in order anymore anyway.

When we moved into this house I knew my backyard furniture wasn’t going to cut it. But outdoor furniture is EXPENSIVE!! Like, ridiculously expensive when most of it is plastic garbage anyway. But in this corner up against the house we had this huge paved area that was just begging for an outdoor sectional. I looked and I looked and when I could even find one it was over $10,000. Which is insanity. You can get a car for that much money!

I finally realized that the only way I was going to get the outdoor seating area living in my dreams was if I built it my own dang self. So I did.

Step 1

Everything starts with the cushions. I bought mine a couple summers ago now at end of season prices, which is so so so much cheaper than trying to make anything yourself. Cushions for patio furniture do not come in standard sizes, so you absolutely must have your cushions before you start sawing wood. You’ll need to base all of your measurements around the ones you plan on using if you expect anything to fit. Mine were 21″ square, which is what all the measurements I’m about to give you will reference, so if you end up with cushions that are not 21″ square, remember to change the math! I also used 2 x 3’s to make it look a little less like studs, to cut some of the heaviness out where I could, and to save myself some cash. Remember as you’re changing the math to always account for the width of the wood pieces you’re assembling. A finished 21″ wide is actually an 18″ piece sandwiched between two 2 x 3’s.

Step 2

Despite the size of the project, it really only consists of a few parts and is really manageable, even with my rudimentary building skills. The first thing to build is the frame. I made mine to be a corner sectional with a chaise lounge on one side. With your 2 x 3’s cut to the proper sizes, then it’s just drilling through the pieces to make a pilot hole, and following it up with a wood screw to secure it. With something this big and heavy, I like to use two wood screws in each joint.

Step 2 right

Right side cut measurements. Not pictured: another 18″ long piece I attached across the middle to offer some more support.

Step 2 center

Center cut measurements. Not pictured: Another 18″ crosspiece I added after I got a little further in the building process and realized I wanted it more stable.

Step 2 left

Left cut measurements.

But Tresa? I can hear you asking, Why aren’t the sides of your rectangle the same size? Good question. It’s because of how those joints need to line up for assembly. The exterior sides are longer because they don’t have to account for the width of the wood it’s joining up with. So you see in the back how the top side meets the back on the outside, while the bottom side butts up against the back? I needed to do that to get the sectional as long as I wanted it to be. If you’re changing the dimensions on this, don’t forget the width of the other piece next to it! I can’t emphasize that part enough, it’s so easy to forget you have a whole other 2 x 3 to make room for.


Step 2 detail

To make your sectional as long as mine, you could use a metal brace of some kind, but I designed it so that the sides of the sectional would seam that back together. Which is also why that back piece is 1/2″ longer than its mate across from it. It needs to overlap a bit to be able to screw into the 2 x 3 it crosses.

Step 3

With your frame built, now you’ll need legs. You need three of these little boxes. Two to go under the joints where the sides meet the back, and one to hold up the end of the chaise.

Step 4

And then you’ll need 6 of these d-shapes which are legs with back support. Cut an extra 38″ piece to create your corner piece.

Step 5

Lift the frame up onto the legs and attach with screws. In this picture you can see the crosspiece I added to make the frame stronger, the little box directly under the joint, and the corner piece. This is just one of your six d-shaped legs, but you add that second back piece onto the outer side of it to make that corner. You gotta have something for your back pieces to screw into.

Step 6

Now we just have to add the seat and back. I switched to 1 x 3 furring strips here. I cut 58 pieces 21″ long for the seat and installed those by screwing them directly into the frame. I didn’t bother measuring how much space was between each piece, I just eyeballed it to make sure that the pieces weren’t touching on one end and far enough to fall through on the other.

Step 7

The six back pieces on the right side are 84″ long, but on the long center section I wasn’t going to be able to make it all the way across with one piece, so I had to measure how long the pieces had to be to reach the leg they needed to screw into. You’re going to have to measure your own based on where that leg ends up, but in my case I cut 6 pieces to be 87″ long and 6 pieces to be 37″ long and attached them with screws into each leg’s back.

Finished Outdoor Sectional

After that everything needed a good sanding, priming, and a painting, and then I put all those cushions where they were destined to be. Of course, I also realized in a hurry that I can’t have an outdoor seating area with no place to put a cold drink, so I had to come up with a matching coffeetable. Instructions for that will be coming tomorrow.


Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad

With our bumper crop of little tomatoes, even Atti can’t eat them all. Despite his best efforts. So I needed a way I could gorge on them in actual meal form. Enter this perfect traditional bread salad from Italy. It’s kind of like eating a tomato sandwich in a bowl, which is really the best […]

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Farmer Atticus

Tomato Picking

Since losing my little dreamhouse on Courage Street back in 2010, we’ve been renters. In the last five years we’ve lived in three houses that were pretty great, all things considered. And because we’ve had such good luck I haven’t been in a rush to re-enter the market. Plus, to be honest, I wasn’t ready […]

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Year of Pleasures: Tiny Tomatoes

Tiny Tomato

My garden is going crazy this summer. I still haven’t had much success starting from seeds, but I’m not too shabby at the rest of it. I went out this morning to check on things and my little cherry tomato plant is covered in jewels. And some of them so itsy bitsy it’s too adorable […]

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Atti Update

Baclofen pump

Atti stayed home from school today. We’re all recovering from the flu, but that’s not really what did it. It was his screaming and tears when we tried to get him up and ready this morning. This is not the first time either. It only started a week and a half ago and he’s already […]

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Outdoor Slipcovers

Outdoor Armchair

This is one of those awesome Summer projects I’ve been talking about forever. And it was so massive to put together all the different photos and videos and instructions that it sat on my harddrive for my whole year of sickness. Today is the day it gets it’s due. In this house I have the […]

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Year of Pleasures: Feminist T-Shirts

Fourth Wave Tshirts

My friend Noelle launched a T-shirt company last year and I’ve become obsessed with it. Like, the first T-shirt I bought because I’m a supportive friend and the design was awesome. Every single other T-shirt I bought for me. (And I literally own every T-shirt they’ve made. It’s the only thing I wear these days.) […]

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