Reupholster a Kid’s Chair

Reupholster a kids chair

Reupholster a kids chair

Atti has had a fabulous but hideous chair in his room for the last few years and literally every time I go in there I twitch, looking at that cover. It’s faded and stained, and totally not hygienic. But the chair was just too perfect for Atti’s needs. It was just the right size for him, is easy for him to get in and out of, easy for him to sit in, and has sentimental value because it was given to us by one of Atti’s former therapists. Even if the chair was just like any other chair, I couldn’t bear to get rid of our reminder of Miss Margie. I had to rescue it from the crust of cheerio dust that had overcome it.

Click through for a full tutorial, including a coupon for a steal on fabric! [Read more…]


Great Ideas: Toilet Paper Holder

Toilet Paper Storage Solution
When I was a young teen I was visiting a friends house and was in the middle of using the restroom when I discovered there was no toilet paper. I had to shout across her house, her older brothers laughing at my predicament. The awkwardness that is the teen years coupled with that moment of embarrassment has seared the experience into my brain and made it so that I want my guests to never find themselves in similar trouble. But unless you happen to have a cabinet right next to the toilet, the storage solutions kind of suck. Baskets get wet, kids and pets make messes, and I have not managed to crochet a toilet roll cover that is retro cute and not just ugly.

This is a tall vase I found at TJ Maxx, and while toilet rolls will never be pretty, this vase manages to offer a skosh of elegance to a very inelegant object. The glass keeps it off the floor and away from any wetness, and tucked in behind the toilet it can even blend in until the moment it becomes necessary.

With unlimited money I’d have a cabinet installed. But $19.99 is a pretty great price to prevent lifelong embarrassment.


Crocheted Pillow Sham Tutorial

Crocheted Pillow Shams

My guest room is functional, but kind of sad looking right now. There’s not much going on in the way of decor, but I know where I want to go with it. Despite my super modern taste everywhere else, my guest room I want to look like visiting grandma’s house. I want it to be cozy and maternal and feel like you’re going back to childhood memories that aren’t even your own. So since there’s already a handmade quilt on the bed, the next thing to address was pillows.

Pillow shams make such a huge difference on a bed. I’m not a big fan of tons of excess non-functional pillows, but shams make the bed look inviting and have the added benefit of covering up your drool covered smashed down pillow you actually sleep on.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 1
This is the easiest possible sewing project. No zippers or buttons to worry about, just an envelope closure. To really get the grandma look I used a vintage sheet (doubled for thickness) and cut three pieces. You need a front as big as your pillow, and then two back pieces each half the width of your pillow, plus about three inches. Add 1/2″ of seam allowance on each side. For the pillow I was using, the front measured 27″ long and 21″ wide, and the back pieces each measured 16″ long and 21″ wide. Hem one side of each back piece by folding it 1/4″ over twice and sewing down. Make sure that the side you hem will be the side that faces the middle.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 2
Line the ends of the back pieces up with the front piece, letting the back pieces overlap each other in the middle. Pin in place and sew all the way around. If you’re using an easily frayed fabric like I am, it’s a good idea to zig zag or overlock stitch the edges.
Cut the corners off diagonally. This will make it so that you’ll get a sharper corner when you turn it inside out.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 4
Once you’ve turned the sham right side out, you’ll need to add a row of stitches to add your crochet to. I did this with my sewing machine set to the blanket stitch, but you can also do it by hand.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 5
For the crochet:
Row 1: single crochet (sc) evenly spaced around the sham in multiples of six. Just stick your hook right through that hole the blanket stitch Unless you have precision sewing skills you’ll need to use a little flexibility in where you place your stitches. Don’t stress about it too much, just work enough stitches so that the fabric can lay flat and do your best to get to a multiple of six. You can always fudge that part if you need to.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 6
Row 2: Chain six. Skip 2, single crochet. *Chain 4, skip two, sc* Repeat around the entire sham except for when you get to each corner. There you’ll want to chain six to give yourself enough room to round the bend. Close with a slip stitch.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 7
Row 3: *Chain 4, sc in chain 4 loop.* Repeat around the whole sham except for those corner pieces again. In each corner you’ll sc, chain 4, sc, chain 4, and then sc in the next loop. So each corner loop gets two of our pattern.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial Step 8
Row 4: Chain 4, sc in chain 4 loop, chain 4. *In next chain 4 loop, 2 Double crochet, chain 1, 2 Double crochet, chain 4. sc in next chain 4 loop, chain 4.* Repeat. Close with a slip stitch and weave in ends.

Crocheted Sham Tutorial
What a difference a couple of pillows make. This room still needs a lot of work, but it’s actually starting to look intentional now. Once I get some lamps in here and something hung up on the walls, I think this room might compete for where I usually sleep.


DIY Dollar Store Hanging Baskets

DIY Hanging Baskets

DIY Hanging Baskets

These hanging baskets can’t get cheaper and add a gorgeous pop of color to your front porch.

Hanging Basket Tutorial
Today I’m sneaking in one last summer project before I turn my attention to the changing seasons. This move has changed everything about how our family lives. We’re actually turning into outdoor kids. You guys, I have a tiny tan on my arms!

This house was SCREAMING for baskets full of plants to hang from the eaves. I could hear it begging every time I pulled in the driveway. But I have a whole lot of projects going at once, and I need a LOT of hanging baskets to get the look I wanted, and even with my sale mojo the cheapest price I could find was $15 a piece. The house might have wanted hanging baskets urgently, but I cared more about something to sit on outside.

So I did what every good crafter does. I hit the dollar store. For about $1.50 I got what I needed to make these baskets, and saved myself a freaking fortune. All you’ll need is something solid and somewhat stable, with handles on the sides. Just about anything will do. Before I found these I was going to buy a plastic punch bowl and just drill a bunch of holes.

Hanging Basket Tutorial Step 1
The first thing you’ll need to do is make a drainage hole where there probably isn’t one. I am so haphazard with my plant care I’m always either drowning them or starving them, and I have killed more than one plant (this year) by over watering without proper drainage. So learn from me, it’s not a step worth ignoring. Plastic is one of the easiest things to drill through, and I did this with just a regular old paddle bit.

Hanging Basket Tutorial Step 2

Cut two lengths of rope about six feet long, or as long as you need to get the height you want your baskets to hang from. Cross them in the middle, and then thread each end from the outside of the basket, through the handle to the inside of the basket. Stretch the ropes apart to give it a stronger base.

Hanging Basket Tutorial Step 3

Tie the two ends on each side of the basket together, and use the knot to hang from a hook. The end.

Dollar Store Hanging Baskets

For the last three months nearly all I’ve thought about is bringing our family life outdoors, and the projects I’ve been spending my time on reflect that. There’s still so much I want to do out there, but the seasons march on whether I’m ready for them or not. All the outdoor furniture living in my head will have to get to the back of the line. I’ve got Halloween to start thinking about.


Tutorial: Scalloped Bunting

Scalloped Bunting

Scalloped Bunting

Scalloped Banner
I confess I have a rather large snobby streak, and once something reaches a certain level of popularity, I go all hipster and turn my nose up at it. The pennant trend was one of my current objects of snobbery. For years now every craft fair I go to, every blog I visit, every party I attend, has different variations of the pennant banner. I get it, they’re adorable and they bring a ton of eye candy for very little effort and materials.

When I had this backyard space to dress up, I knew it was time to swallow my pride and cave to the cuteness, but I still had enough snobbery in me to try to do it in a way that was distinctly my own. So: NO PENNANTS! The answer, is scallops.

Scalloped Banner Tutorial Step 1
I haven’t seen anyone doing a scalloped banner, and that is probably because straight lines are so so so very much easier to cut. But that’s if you’re doing the cutting. In the wedding aisle they have these lovely little tulle circles all prepared for you in every season’s popular colors. I stocked up on a rainbow and grabbed some bias tape to make this project as simple as possible.

Scalloped Banner Tutorial Step 2

I layered a couple, or a few depending on the saturation of the color I wanted, folded them in half, and then secured them with a pin. They will be very wiggly, so it’s best not to go into this project with a goal of precision.

Scalloped Banner Tutorial Step 3

Sandwich the folded end of your circle inside the folds of the bias tape, and sew down. Yep. It’s that simple.

Scalloped Banner Tutorial

I hung my banners from an oak tree in our backyard using thumbtacks, but if you want to be able to tie your banner to something, just be sure and leave yourself enough ends on the bias tape. I made mine go from branch to branch in a bunch of different directions and I’m wild about the look. Atti swings on his swing and I drink my morning smoothie and we start every day with a little party.

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Tutorial: Full Length Jewelry Organizer

Mirror Jewelry Organizer
Moving to a new place means lots of new creative energy for me. There’s so many new projects on my docket I’d find it overwhelming if I didn’t love it all so much. All my old organization tricks have to be evaluated for the new space, new things need to be tweaked, and it’s a new chance to reevaluate everything. I’m having a ball.

This project has been keeping me awake at night for well over a year. Down there in my neglected sidebar list of crafty goals, this project is what I was referring to when I wrote Jewelry Organizer. But thanks to a post-move Ikea trip, I found the perfect solution to bump this to the top of the list.

I wear a lot of long necklaces – it’s the shape that flatters me the most. But they are a PAIN to store. They take up so much room and they are always getting tangled together. Whenever I see jewelry organizer tutorials I figure I must be a jewelry hoarder because my stuff could never fit in one of those tiny adorable boxes. I needed something serious, and full length. Which is when I had the idea to store them all behind a full length mirror.

Mirror Jewelry Organizer Step 1
This Ikea Stave mirror came with hinges for mounting and an open back my necklaces could nestle right inside. It’s like they saw me coming. If you don’t have an Ikea near you or they are foolish enough to discontinue this mirror, you could achieve the same effect by building a box on the back of whatever mirror you want to use. If you use recycled pallets I bet you could even do it for free. Mount it to the wall with hinges, making sure you hang it from a wall stud so it can support the weight.

Mirror Jewelry Organizer Step 2


Then you just need a bunch of cup hooks small enough to fit behind your mirror. These are 3/4 of an inch.


Mirror Jewelry Organizer Step 3


If you feel like breaking out a ruler and a level, you sure could, but I just eyeballed it all and screwed my cup hooks right into the wall, making sure I picked spots that allowed the mirror to close. Watch out for being too close to the sides or any support pieces.


Mirror Jewelry Organizer Step 4


Hang the necklaces from your hooks in a way that makes sense to you, and then close the mirror shut when you’re not getting dressed.

I’m so in love with this project. There is little in this world that makes me as happy as a great organizing solution, and with this one I also get to make my closet pretty with all the great necklaces I’ve made over the years.


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My latest Craigslist Finds

As promised, a tour of my best discoveries.

Vintage Armchair
This armchair cost me a whopping $15. The upholstery is stained, but it’s good enough to put off dealing with for awhile. Still, look at the bones!

Vintage Chair
This is not only a gorgeous Midcentury armchair, it’s a gorgeous Midcentury ROCKING armchair. And I got it for $30.

Vintage Couch
My Agnes couch, $80.

Wine cask table
This table was made out of wood used as a wine cask. Eventually I’ll give the base a fresh coat of spray paint, but I’m not touching the top. It’s marbled and stained in such a beautiful way. It was also kind of warped as the slats started to separate, but I screwed a couple of metal straps into the bottom and fixed that right up. It cost $40. The chairs came from a local thrift store and cost me $7 a piece. They’ll get new seat covers.

From that same thrift store I got these amazing little spindle legged side tables. Two of them for $24. These nestle up to the bed in the guest room.

Matching Mirror
This enormous mirror cost $15 and happens to nearly perfectly match this desk I got off of Craigslist back in Modesto. This also came from the same thrift store just around the corner. I walked in in a hurry and picked up the two chairs, two sidetables, and this mirror as quickly as if I was running to the grocery store for bread and milk.

Vintage Sideboard
Every time I look through the house I have a new favorite find, and this sideboard is currently leading the pack. This came from a little couple moving out of the area who brought me into their backyard to show off the wild turkeys. They asked if I needed help loading it into the car, and I waved them off saying I brought my big strapping husband to help. And then Bear walked in the house and the husband said, “Well goodness, he could probably carry this with one hand!” This just seems to be crying out, “I’m not cream and gold! I’m blue and gray! Save me!” Oh I will, little sideboard. I will.

I’ve gotten so many requests for my Craigslist tips that I’ll write up a post next week. You all just have to promise to stay out of my area.


Why I love antiques

Making the new couch at home
I’ve been scouring Craigslist since moving into the new and much bigger house. We have a lot more space to fill up and we’re doing it on a strict budget, so my Craigslist mojo has come in handy once again. I’ll show off my finds later this week, but for today I had to tell you the story of this gorgeous couch. 8 ft’ long, original upholstery in impeccable condition from the 60’s, and we got it for 80$. We had to pack Atti off to a friends house for the day while we drove 2 hours each way to claim it, but it was still worth it.

Once Atti was safely off playing, we jumped in the van to discover that the battery was dead. AAA came and sorted us out and then, an hour later than we planned on, we made our way down to a small agricultural town. The owner was so understanding and had even shampooed the couch for us, her husband helped Bear load it in the car, and then they both helped us turn it and reposition and experiment until we managed to get the full 8 feet in and get the back shut.

Before we left she asked if I would meet her mother, Agnes. The couch belonged to her and she wanted to meet the person taking it away. Agnes is 98 years old and about to enter a nursing home. This couch was one of her last remaining possessions and it was hard for her to let go of it. I can only imagine. Curling up with your spouse as you watch T.V., watching your children cruise along it taking their first steps, story time, parties, visits with friends and families, a couch is a pretty integral part of family life. I took her hand and assured her that I would take good care of it, and we went to leave. Only to discover that our car battery had died. Again.

But before we could call AAA, Agnes’s daughter Bernadette came to our rescue. She drove Bear to Autozone to buy a new battery, pulled out all her tools, and painstakingly taught him all about a car’s electrical system, how to change a battery, and how to know when the problem was more than a battery.

While Bernadette and Bear handled the car, I sat in the tree shaded back patio with Agnes while she told me about her life growing up on a dairy farm. She was expected to pull her weight as much as her brothers and she got so good at farm chores that her father started calling her “Tony,” because she was just like one of the boys. She milked the cows by hand, had her own saddle horse that she used to follow her father all through the foothills, and when the town had their 4th of July parade she would dress her horse up and ride proudly down main street. She raised four children in a little house in a small town and took care of this couch like it was her prized possession.

Bernadette had assumed that I was from a consignment shop, since that’s most of my Craigslist competition, and Agnes was so relieved when I told her that this couch was for our own house. That I had a room full of books this couch was going to nestle up to and Atti and I were going to spend our days snuggled up together and reading story after story. That this couch was so long that tall people like me and Bear were going to take long Sunday naps on it while Atti played with his cars at our feet. That our kitties would curl up on it and adopt it as their own.

With the new battery in place thanks to help from Bernadette, we climbed in the car to leave. Agnes tearfully waved as she said, “Goodbye, couch.” With Bear working in elder care, we’re well acquainted with the agonizing change a loss of independence brings. Objects matter then, a token of all the life behind us. Often the memories are gone or confused, but the object provides the anchor. It’s a symbol of all the things time takes with it – memories, love, relationships, people. I rode the whole way home laying on that couch, feeling the warmth of all the years of love Agnes and her family embedded in the stuffing and springs, and carrying in my heart the bittersweet trust we’ll all eventually have to find someday, as we face the generation behind us and turn the world over to them.

I’ll be good to it, Agnes. Thank you for entrusting it to me.


On the other side

Atti and Boo in dining room
Hello friends! First let me just say how much I’ve loved your supportive emails and comments calling me back to creativity. They have kept me sane when I thought my body was going to be found under a mountain of boxes. They have reminded me that normality was just around the corner. I’m not quite there yet, but close enough to see it.

Boo walking carefully
Our new place is amazing. Like dream house, crazy gorgeous, amazing. It’s got tons of light and space, it’s got wide hallways and wood floors that are perfect for Atti, and also make Boo stop flailing around the place like a crazy animal and instead walk gingerly around so her feet don’t slide out from under her like Bambi on the ice. Who needs a dog trainer? We just need to keep her on a constantly slick surface.

Kitchen and Family Room
Once again we were down to a matter of days before we had agreed to move and we still didn’t have a place to move to. We have had a lot of bad luck on that front, but apparently we were earning karma because the last minute could not have worked out better for us. This place is so fixed up and I can’t figure out why – it’s always been intended as a rental property and yet it’s more done up than most people’s houses. The garage has built in cabinets that hold all my over the top Christmas stuff. Who does that? Doesn’t matter. I’ll take it.

New craft room
The craft room is back in the house now, which is both a pro and a con. I got awfully fond of having so much space, including a designated photo set up, but the temperature was nearly always a problem. It’s no fun to sew a quilt when you’re so hot you can barely stand to wear clothes. This room does have a double wide closet, however, so what it lacks in square footage compared to my garage space, it makes up for in ability to store messes.

Bathtub with jets
The best part about the inside of the house, hands down, is this tub. A jacuzzi tub. I’ve already used it more than I’ve used the shower. And it’s going to be heaven sent in dealing with my chronic pain issues. Just last night I was experiencing some pain so I popped two aleve and climbed in the tub, turned on the jets, and in a half an hour I was OK. It’s a miracle.

But the best part of the whole place is easily the backyard.

At the top of those stairs? There’s walking paths. In my backyard. This is totally crazy. I already went to IKEA to buy a little cafe table and I have plans to eat my lunch up there every single day. On the side of the house Boo will get a dog run so she doesn’t destroy all this beauty, and over the summers I have plans to just stock this place with furniture so I can spend as much time out here as possible. Just to the left of this picture is a fire pit, you guys. Right? How did I…? What’s this now? Everytime I open my back door I break out in giggles and tears. I cannot believe I get to live here.


Placerville here we come

Al Fresco
Last weekend, amid history being made and discovering new sisterfriends, we also took a trip up to what we got word will be our new hometown. Placerville is just East of Sacramento, a short twenty minutes away from the edge of the city, resting at the foot of the Sierra mountains. It’s an old gold mining town along the southern route to Tahoe and it’s covered in trees and streams and history.

Cary House
While we’ve been waiting for Bear to start this new job and find out where our final destination was, we’ve heard all kinds of rumors – maybe Fresno, maybe Davis, maybe Ukiah – and when some of them didn’t pan out I was relieved, and when others didn’t pan out I was heartbroken. But it all worked out for the best because I cannot imagine a place I would rather set down roots than what I found this weekend.

Bear’s employers stressed that he couldn’t commute. He HAD to live in Placerville. Apparently in Gold Country there are townies, and there are tourists. And they need us to be townies. I could not be more happy to comply. I’ve been looking for a hometown my whole life. We were told we need to really become a part of the community – go to Chamber of Commerce events, enter things in the fair, go to the Farmer’s Markets – it’s like I’m being thrown in the briar patch. Oh all right, if you insist. Sheesh. Give me everything I’ve ever wanted, why don’t you.

Emigrant Jane
We strolled down Main Street and played tourist, until we earn our Townie status, and it’s like this place was custom made in my dreams. Wonderful restaurants, historical markers, antique shops. There was a store where a couple reclaimed old furniture and painted it in bold creamy colors, a children’s clothing store where a gal with a nose ring sewed the clothes she then hung on the rack for sale, an independent bead store, gourmet food shops selling special cheeses and locally made mustard, and an independent yarn store. And then. Not only was it an independent needlepoint store, it was a NOT FOR PROFIT CO-OP needlepoint store. I got to chatting with the ladies inside and they told me all about their Sit ‘n Stitch days, and the locals only secret for where to park all day without paying.

Sweetie Pies
When we were up this weekend, we stopped at this place – a restaurant and bakery in a converted victorian house – ate homemade pie and bread on the closed in porch, and made instant friends with our dining neighbors. One table couldn’t get enough of Atticus, even giving him a hug on their way out the door, and at the other table…Oh the other table. A lady came in with a gorgeous black lab named Gatsby. There were dogs everywhere we went in Placerville, including the restaurants, and Gatsby and Atticus fell in love. Gatsby’s owner and I laughed over our literary nerd-dom and Atti refused to eat his lunch so he could wheel his chair over and drape himself across Gatsby’s side for a big hug.

This is the place where we’re going to make all our dreams come true. And I have some big dreams.