How to make an Upholstered Bedframe

Upholstered Bedframe

My bedroom makeover project has been finished for a while now, but with all of the horrors of the last couple of years, I couldn’t do the work to share it. There’s a tremendous amount of work to pull together a decent tutorial with video, and seeing how I’ve been pingponging between fertility procedures driving me to the mental hospital to surgeries for my baby and then more fertility procedures that ended badly and more surgeries for my baby, there has been no brainspace available for things like describing furniture builds. But now that I’m feeling like I’ve got my feet back underneath me (BRB gotta find some wood to knock), I can finally commit to sharing the big bedroom makeover I’ve been wanting to get to for over a year. I have A LOT of projects to share for this bedroom makeover, and I am THRILLED with the result. So buckle up, because I have tons and tons of ideas for you. Starting today with the centerpieces of any bedroom, the bedframe.

I wanted this room to be a kind of masculine take on a feminine bedroom. An androgynous bedroom. Something peaceful and restful and beautiful, that actually looked like it didn’t just belong to one or the other of us. I wanted to blend our styles. So if I was going to do something as soft as an upholstered bedframe, I wanted to do it in a fabric that would read masculine. So I bought myself 100 yards of suiting material and decided to make myself a pinstripe wingback bed.


Step 1

Because we have a California King bed, I needed to make a giant bedframe. Beds can be surprisingly non-standard in their measurements, so since you’re building yours from scratch, the first thing you should do is measure your bed. I’ll give you the measurements I used, but unless you also have a giant bed, you’re going to need to customize them.

You’ll start by building yourself a great big box. Measure the length and width of your bed. I added an inch on each side to give myself room to maneuver. That extra inch means 1/2″ on each side so you don’t have to squish your bed into position. My bed measured 72″ x 83″, so the finished size I was shooting for was 73″ x 84″, except I made a bunch of mistakes with my measurements so learn from my example and measure everything three times and double check your math. Luckily as long as your mistakes are consistent, this project is pretty forgiving.

You need 2 2×4’s to make the top and bottom of your box, and those should be the finished width of your bed. I cut mine 74″ long, which was a mistake but one that was no biggie. Then you need 3 2 x 4’s to make the sides and middle of your box. These should be the finished length of your bed, minus the width of the 2×4’s you’re using for the top and bottom pieces. Those top and bottom pieces sandwich all the vertical pieces, so you need to take their width into account to get your finished length. 2×4’s usually measure about 1 1/2″ wide, so if you subtract 3″ from your finished size, you’ll know how long to cut your side and middle pieces. I cut mine 81″ long.

Set the pieces up together and drill pilot holes where they’ll be joined. Screw them all together with 2 1/2″ wood screws.

Those other pieces of wood you see outside the box are the pieces that you’ll be upholstering. Given how loosey goosey I was being with my measurements I had to make sure they’d be cut the right size so I laid them right up next to my 2×4 box to make certain. I cut 2 1×8’s 84″ long for the sides, and then one more 76″ long for the bottom. The side pieces should be the same size as the finished 2×4 box, and the bottom piece should be the same length of  the 2×4 box plus the width of the 1×8’s which is about 3/4″ each. If I was being careful I would have cut it 1/2″ shorter, but I think I’ve already shown I was not being careful.


Step 3

Set up your 1×8’s next to where you’ll be installing them on the box. They should be standing upright so that the wide sides of both pieces of wood are touching. Once they’re lined up, drill a hole from the inside of the box, through the 2×4, and into the 1×8. This pilot hole will tell you where you’ll need to keep the upholstery out of the way so you can screw the pieces together without ripping through your fabric. Fabric and drills are not friends.


Step 2

Wrap batting around the entire 1×8 piece, securing it with staples.


Step 4

Wrap your upholstery fabric around your 1×8 pieces, continuing to secure it with staples. I wanted to keep the staples as hidden as possible, so I wrapped the wood like a present, keeping all my seams where they would be hidden by being attached to the 2×4 box. Fold your corners neatly and tuck raw edges under before stapling. Feel through the fabric for where those pilot holes are and cut the fabric away neatly to leave yourself room to attach it. Use 2″ wood screws to attach the 1×8’s to the 2×4 box, screwing through those pilot holes you drilled. Make sure you use wood screws that aren’t too long or you’ll go all the way through your 1×8 and have a screw poking through your fabric. I attached the 1×8’s in six different spots to make sure they’d be attached super strong and stand up to kids and pets climbing all over them.


Step 5

Now you need to add slats across the bed. Nobody likes sleeping on a saggy mattress, so you need to make a nice firm foundation. I used 1×3’s and cut them 74″ long so they’d fit nice and snug on top of my 2×4 box.


Step 6

I attached six slats total, spread out across the length of the bed.


Step 7

Now we need to get this thing up off the floor and add the legs. There’s many ways to do this, but the way I went with was to use this straight plate. I screwed it into three corners but if you add a little block of wood into the corner of the 2×4 box you can attach all four sides. I didn’t think it was necessary because I’ve got some extra steps coming, but if these legs are all you’re using to hold up all the weight of the bed and the people and jumping kids and pets in them, you probably should.


Step 8

I found these great midcentury inspired legs online. These just screw into the straight plates.


Step 9

Now, a California King is heavy. Two tall grown adults are heavy. Wrestling kids who jump on the bed are heavy. And a California King is wide, so without a middle support, you’re going to end up eaten by a sagging bed. But a middle support is also hidden under the bed and doesn’t have to be pretty. So I took the scrap pieces of 2×4 and made two middle legs that will keep this thing so stable that a parade could march through and the bed would be rock solid at the end of it. The middle piece should be the height of the legs, including the straight plate. Basically the distance from the floor to the 2×4 box. Then the two outside pieces should be 2 1/2 – 3″ taller so that it can fit onto the middle beam and leave you room for screws. Use wood screws to stick those pieces together, making sure they’re flush on the bottom.


Step 10

Slide those legs around the middle beam and use wood screws to attach it from both sides.



If you aren’t making a headboard, you’d probably want to finish the top of this bedframe with another upholstered piece at the top, but I didn’t want it to get in the way of the giant headboard I’ll be building. And that I’ll be showing you how to build next week.



Make a windchime from dollar store supplies

Windchime In my quest to outfit this superstar backyard of mine, as is my duty as Park Ranger of this place, I’ve been searching for a windchime that was both 1) not obnoxious and 2) not so outrageously expensive I would resent it every time I heard it’s gentle chime. So as usual, I knew I had to make what I was looking for. I love the sound of bamboo windchimes because they’re so light and subtle and not glaringly high pitched, so when I found bamboo windchimes at the dollar store I knew they were exactly what I needed. Now I just needed to make them grand enough to fit into my very grand backyard. I bought five of the windchimes, a bowl, and used some rope I had on hand, so for $6 plus tax I’m making something that would have cost me a fortune otherwise.


Step 1 If you are a regular blog follower, by now you are a pro at drilling through glass and pottery. But in case you’re coming to this tutorial fresh I’ll give you a nutshell version of how to drill through a bowl. 1) Get yourself a drill bit made for the job. It will say so on the packaging. I like the ones that come in a spade shape because they’re easier to control as you drill. 2) Set up a drilling station. I have here a plastic tub, an old towel, and some cool water. You really just need the cool water and a way to keep your bowl from sliding around. The towel gives you a nice non-slip surface and the tub keeps the water where you need it, but there are a million variations on this. 3) Make sure you’ve got water on both sides of what you’re drilling, then go steady and slow without a lot of pressure. If you push on the drill you could crack the bowl. If it gets too hot you could crack the bowl, and if you create too much friction through heat or non lubrication (which the water also takes care of) you could crack the bowl.


Step 2 Here’s my bowl with the hole drilled through, and  you can see that it is off center. Really not a big deal. I’m showing this as proof that perfection is not worth the stress.


Step 3 Run your rope through the hole you’ve made. Ropes fray, so wrapping the end with some tape will save you some major frustration.


Step 4 Now it’s time to deal with your bamboo windchimes. Lay them out to make you’re new configuration. At first I thought I was going to cut them all apart and start from scratch, and then I decided it would be enough just to attach them all together. Do some experimenting and see what works for you. I ended up stringing three sets across the top, and then two more hanging down from the middle. It makes a kind of inverted pyramid shape. Remember to leave enough room between the pieces for them to move around and make that lovely noise.


Step 5 With all your decisions made, drill holes where you need to attach them together.


Step 6 Tie them together with rope or string. Remember the tape trick, this can get frustrating.


Step 7 Tie the top of your newly assembled wooden pieces onto the rope and make a big giant secure knot. Remember, this is going to stand up to wind, so triple knot that baby.


Step 8 Pull the rope all the way through the bowl so the knot catches. Then tie the rest of the rope into a loop you can hang the whole operation from.


Windchime hanging I made my windchime super long, so I hung it from a high point on my roofline. I wanted the look and the sound, but I also didn’t want anyone to get wrapped up in it as they walked around the yard. Fittingly enough, the day I hang this up it was super crazy windy, which you’ll hear on the video, but you’ll also hear how great this sounds. Even better, each time I hear it I am reminded that it only cost me $6.



Make an Outdoor Chandelier

Outdoor ChandelierOnce you start drilling through glass, it apparently gets pretty addictive. Because here I am back at it again. I spent so much time in thrift stores looking for glass dishes for the flowers, that I couldn’t stop collecting when I found a deal I couldn’t pass up. So I wound up with a whole bunch of these tealights I knew I had to do something with. Tealights and drilling, it had to end up with a chandelier.

Step 1First you’ll need to drill a hole through all your dishes so you can hang them together. We’ve covered this a whole bunch lately, so I’m going to be brief. You need a drill bit made for glass, a tub of cool water to reduce friction and prevent cracking, and a towel to hold the dish in place. Drill with slow and steady pressure.

Step 2Maybe you have better aim than I do and will put a hole through the dead center, but if you don’t, it’s far from the end of the world. It will just make your dishes hang quirkily and give your chandelier some character.

Step 3To hang the dishes together, you need some chain and some wire. I got both at the hardware store because you’ll need it to be strong enough to carry the weight of the dishes. The best wire I’ve found for this is the kind they use for fencing, which you can find in spools next to the rolls of chain link. Cut a piece of wire around 2 inches long and use pliers to roll one end into a loop. Connect that loop to a piece of the chain.

Step 4Feed the straight side of the wire through the dish and then roll that end into another loop. Depending on how you want your chandelier to look this loop can be the end point that holds the dish in place, or you can attach another piece of chain onto that loop and keep it going.

Step 5You’ll also need something to hang the chains from. I found this piece at my thrift store. It started as a decorative candle holder, but I snipped off the candle parts and it became just a decorative piece of wrought iron. I used the same wire with eye loops to connect the chain on to it, and then added three more chains arranged in a triangle to hang the whole piece from. Loop one end to the iron piece, and one end to the chain, just like all the others. If you don’t luck into an iron piece, you can use just about anything. I’ve seen fancy shops use auto parts, baskets, pieces of fence, anything you can hang up and wrap a wire around.

Chandelier FinishObviously this chandelier doesn’t produce light, but I don’t need it to. I need it to provide some glamour to my outdoor life. I’ve developed an appreciation for the outdoors, but everything is better with a little glamour.


Make a Glass Flower Garden

Flower Garden Decor
One of my favorite ways to spend a day is combing through thrift stores and junky old antique shops. Around here, because I live in a touristy area, there are lots of stores featuring random collections of cool stuff, combined in new and interesting ways. Lots of vintage tractor seats turned into stools, old doors turned into potting tables, barn wood turned into wall art. In one of those stores I saw a bunch of glass plates mounted together to look like a flower. That version was really simple and made to hang on a wall, but as soon as I saw it I knew I could do a version that would stay in the garden and keep things looking beautiful even when the real flowers weren’t blooming.

Step 1
First you’ll need a collection of glass plates. The more variety you have in colors, sizes, and shapes, the more amazing these flowers will look. To attach them together and to the stem we’ll need a screw right through the center. Drilling through glass might seem intimidating, but it’s just a matter of having the right tools for the job. I get real specific about that in my birdfeeder post, but really you just need a drill bit made to drill through glass, a tub of water to keep things cool, and a towel in the tub to keep things from moving around and to absorb the drill once you make it to the other side of the plate.

Step 2
Aim for the center, but it’s really not crucial that your aim is true. The center of your flower will be a drawer pull, so make sure you use a drill bit the same size as the screw that fits that.

Step 3
Depending on the thickness and number of your plates, you might need to buy a longer screw. You’ll need the screw to be long enough to go through each plate, plus the pipe, and have enough left over to screw into the drawer pull that will be the center of your flower. Stack your plates up on top of that screw and use silicone caulk to glue the plates together. Don’t glue the screw, you’ll need to take that back out so you can attach your pipe, but using it at this stage means all your holes will line up the way they’re supposed to. The silicone caulk will glue the plates together but also provide a little cushion so you can’t overtighten the screw and break anything, but they also won’t rattle around every time the wind blows.

Step 4
Cut your copper pipe the length you want for your flowers to stand up, plus enough to bury in the ground. Drill a hole all the way through the pipe a few inches from the top.

Step 5
Cap your pipes so they look finished and pretty.

Step 6
Now you can insert the screw for real. Thread it through the pipe and through your stack of glued plates, then screw the drawer pull onto the front and tighten until it’s secure. Use a mallet to pound your flower into the ground, making sure to hit the pipe and not the plate.

Step 7

Step 8

Yard Flowers

I love the sparkle and color these add to my yard. And as we’re still recovering from a drought, it’s great to have a way to add a little beauty to my yard that doesn’t require any water. I might have to let my yard die for the sake of the environment, but these flowers will still stand tall and beautiful.


Kitchen Chalkboard for Hungry Kids

Hungry Chalkboard
Summer vacation has started and I’m already losing my mind. Atti is so much more active and attentive than he was this time last year and for the first time in my parenting life I’m understanding all the lamentations of my mom friends during summer vacation. He is constantly asking for entertainment! He’s up in my grill all day long! He wants to be fed three times a day!

The attention I’m trying to relish. I feel the clock ticking on that one big time and I’m trying to soak it up while it lasts. The food, however, I came up with a solution for.

Step 1
This is really just a chalkboard project, so if you find one already made, you can skip ahead. But I got this metal frame at Michael’s and I loved that with a little spray paint it would be a magnetic chalkboard.

Step 2
Spray paint as necessary, making sure to get an even application, even if you have to be patient and use lighter coats to do it.

Step 3
Paint the frame to look great in  your kitchen.

Step 4
I used a vinyl cutter to make myself a little decal, but you could replicate this in paint if you don’t have one handy.

The hardest part of the whole project was hanging this on the fridge. The metal made it wicked heavy and a whole bunch of strategies wound up with this crashing to the floor. I finally ended up ordering a million little magnets and gluing them all around the back.

Chalk pens
The inspiration for this project began months ago when the folks at ChalkOla offered to give me a couple packs of their chalk markers. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a single chalkboard in the house to try them out on. The anti-trendster in me is powerful. I’ve also never made anything with a chevron print and my mason jars are exclusively for canning. I’m stubborn that way.

I loved the colors and variety of sizes they offered, and the pens work great. I realized after using them the first time that chalk pens are notoriously hard to erase from a chalkboard, but I followed the instructions on the back to use windex and then made sure to condition the chalkboard well with a dusting of chalk dust, and I haven’t had a problem since. And you cannot beat the staying power without making it permanent.

Label Canisters
They also sent me some of their chalkboard labels which came in super handy since I just reorganized my pantry. The chalkboard labels don’t even need the same degree of conditioning, they were just super easy to use.

hungry list
If you have kids that can fend for themselves, a list saves you from having to answer what there is to eat 20 times a day. In my case it helps answer the “what am I going to feed this kid this time” question. And makes sure that the fresh snacks I buy don’t rot in the bottom of the fridge because I forgot to eat them in time.

There’s one little angsty summer problem resolved. Now I just need to deal with the neverending boredom and heat. I can do this.


Upcycle Old Dishes Into A Backyard Birdfeeder

I’m going to be bringing you a ton of outdoor tutorials in the next few weeks. I’ve been completely obsessed with my backyard and I’ve got a million things I want to do with it. For today I thought I’d start with a simple one that will also lay the groundwork for what’s to come. I’m going to be drilling through EVERYTHING. Plates, bowls, votive holders, you name it. If it’s glass or ceramic, I will be putting a hole in it so that I can build something cool. And I’ll start by bringing the birds and squirrels to right outside my door.

Step 1
Drilling through tile, glass, or ceramic is not hard in the slightest. You just need to know the trick. Start with a tub of cool water. The water will keep things cool and lubricated so your plate won’t crack. It reduces the friction caused by all that fine dust and a drill bit. Lay an old towel or something in the tub to keep your plate stable. You don’t want anything wiggling on you.

Step 2
Drill slowly and with even pressure, using a drill bit designated for tile, glass, or ceramics. There’s a ton on the market, but the one I liked best came to a nice point which made the even pressure and not wiggling way easier. Make sure that your plate is supported while drilling, which in my case meant I had to tip it down to be surrounded by the towel.

Step 3
Drill slowly until you punch through the other side. Slow is the key here. If you try to rush things, you’ll break it. Patience. Drill two more holes evenly spaced around the rim of the plate. Make sure that you drill your hole a good 1/2 inch inside the rim so that your hole is extra stable and won’t chip open.

Step 4
Now you need to connect your two plates and hang them up. We’re going to do that with three chains on each level, but first we need a way to keep the chains in place. So I pulled out my jewelry stuff and made a couple of eyeloops. Cut a piece of wire about 2 inches long. This wire actually came from the fencing section of the hardware store, so it will face the elements well. With your pliers just bend the end around to make a loop. For the bottom plate, thread the wire up through the bottom of the hole so that one eyeloop is supporting the bottom of the plate. Thread a 12″ chain onto the wire, and finish the other end with another eyeloop.

Step 5
On the top plate, you’ll have to connect two pieces of chain. With another 2 inch piece of wire, make a loop and attach an 8 inch length of chain. Thread the wire through the hole from the top and bend the end around to make another eyeloop.

Step 6
Join the chain from the bottom plate onto that wire, and squeeze your loop closed tight.

Step 7
Take all three chains hanging the top plate and thread them onto a keyring. Then your birdfeeder is ready to be hung.

Step 8
The birds and squirrels have been having full time parties in our backyard ever since I hung this up, and the cats are pissed. Which is even more fun. Now I get to sit at my desk watching the birds flutter, and then laugh and laugh as I watch the cats fume.


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.


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 to love again. I am such a home body – like, a literal agoraphobe – and a home is such an important symbol to me of the roots I long to put down and the safe place I long to create, that losing my first home of my own left a mark on me. (And of course there was the whole destroyed credit and no down payment thing that comes with having a foreclosure on your record. Curse you financial meltdown!!)

Our current house is just ridiculously gorgeous and great for us. We have amazing neighbors, Atti can use his wheelchair to get anywhere in the house, and this backyard. I mean. But it’s not ours. And I’m feeling those hunger pains again.

We went looking at a property last week and it was PERFECT. I can’t stop thinking about it. But they were asking A LOT because there were three houses on the parcel, and yet they were all trailers. To do what we’d want to do we’d have to tear everything down and build again, which would be great, except for the land being way too expensive for that to make any sense. But this land. I dream about it. Views of the mountains on one side, the valley on the other. Acres of rolling hills only ten minutes from Bear’s work. If only.

It might take us a whole other year to really get what we want because as God is my witness I’m never moving again. Bear keeps wanting to play conservative because he doesn’t want to be house poor again, I keep saying I don’t care if we’re house poor for a few years if it means that I never have to pack another box in my life. And I have my heart set on lots and lots of land. In part because I have big plans for a group home for gay kids who can work the farm to prepare for their future and save for college, but also just for Atticus. This kid is an outdoor kid.

When you spend your whole childhood in physical and occupational therapy, you get what they call “therapized.” He’s so used to being bossed around, picked up and lifted into position, told to do simple tasks that have no context, and eventually he’s gotten rebellious. At therapy he pretends he can’t stand or take steps, but at home, if there is a box of Cheerios on the counter out of his reach, he can suddenly master his body in ways I can hardly believe. It’s a constant battle to provide a reward or context that makes enough sense to him to keep doing the work it takes to move his body. And these days, it’s really hard to teach a kid to work.

But! If we had a farm! For a kid who loves playing outside so much every piece of clothing that goes on his lower body is ripped up from dragging against the concrete, whose back is as bronzed as the face of a cowboy but with a belly as pale as a lizard’s, who has callouses on his knees and his toes from the unique way he travels, on a farm, he would work.

Last night I told him that I would take him outside to pick tomatoes with me and we could send them to school for his teachers. He got so excited he jumped on my belly and giggled and refused to go to sleep. First thing this morning I got him dressed in his outside clothes as we sang about Little Atticus had a Farm and all the animals he would have and the tomatoes he would grow with a pick pick here and a pick pick there. We went to my little backyard patch and Atti – who you have to bribe to eat anything not carb based – ate every tomato that hit the bottom of the bowl. And then got entranced by “the little green ones” and picked tomatoes until he counted to 100.

He told me that the first animal he wants to get is a goat. And then a chicken so he can eat the eggs for breakfast. I want to get him a donkey he can ride around or pull him in a wagon. If we had a little donkey, he could take it hiking. Seeing how the world could open up for him in these old fashioned ways, I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

So for now we’ll have to make do with little tomatoes and wrangling cats. Because I am not settling for another house. When I move again, it will be for our Dreamfarm.


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…]