Back Porch Living + A Secret for Hanging Curtains

Look what we did this weekend:Back Porch Curtains

We finally got around to hanging curtains on our back porch. I’ve been wanting to do this since the moment we moved in a year and a half ago. I’ve gone back and forth on what I wanted. When I unearthed these light, billowy curtains from their (ahem) moving box, I decided to give it a go. What’s better than free (as in, we already own them) curtains?

Back Porch Curtains

We started with Husband installing the IKEA DIGNITET curtain wire.We used 3 sets, along with 3 additional support pieces. Installation was quick and easy. Next was my turn to hang the curtains. We had 10 of these panels from Cost Plus that we used on all the windows in our old house. (Luckily, they are still available as I need to buy two more panels to make everything symmetrical.)

So here’s my curtain secret:

I remember when I used these at the old house how much it would bug me to not be able to tie each of the knots at exactly the same length, so this time, I attempted to hold a ruler while I tied the knots onto the wire. While standing on a ladder. It took a long time, and it didn’t really work, so I got creative.

Back Porch Curtains

I used a permanent laundry marker and ruler to mark 6 inches on the back tie of each pair on every curtain. (For you folks keeping track at home, that’s 7 ties times 10 panels.)

Back Porch Curtains

I could have used a washable marker used for sewing, but the mark doesn’t really show at all once it’s tied, and while I don’t know how often I’ll be washing these, I don’t want to have to remeasure every time.

Back Porch Curtains

Sneaky sneaky!

Back Porch Curtains

Since I marked the back tie only, any mark that could be seen is hidden when the ties are tied.

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I now have perfectly even ties – so good for those OCD tendencies.

Back Porch Curtains

My dreamy new porch curtains – and a peek at the next outdoor project – the dining chairs. New paint and new fabric for those are on the agenda for next weekend.

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Even though the daybed is still a work-in-progress, the back porch is already our new favorite place. Over the course of the weekend, it was home to a nap (me), working on the laptop (Husband), blowing bubbles (BB & BG), sipping wine (grown-ups, obviously), and reading (all). There is something about watching a breeze blow through soft curtains that brings on a deep sense of relaxation. Bring on Summer – I know where we’ll be spending it.

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

How’s your week been? It’s been a pretty good week here – a mix of time spent with friends and lazy mornings, puttering around the house. (Don’t you love that word, putter? Just hearing it makes me smile, and I am quite a putterer myself.) BB got a circuit set for his birthday, and he’s spent hours working on it. BG got a “Big Girl Bed”, and she’s spent hours lounging on it. It’s always funny to see what catches their interest week to week.

I guess I’m the same as well. Some weeks, I’m focused on finding new recipes and planning meals. Other weeks, it might be sewing or organizing or reading or obsessing about getting the back porch ready for summer. There are so many things that catch my attention – so many things I want to do – that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it all. But I guess that’s what makes each day fun – what can I try or learn or do today?

Here are some things that have been on my mind this week:

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1. “We edit everyday.” Ever since I read this book, I’ve been looking at our home and “stuff” differently. I’m not saying I’ve followed the author’s guidelines and principles perfectly, but it has definitely changed my perspective. I read this post on Cup of Jo about the same time I was finishing the book, and the homeowner’s quote about editing really struck me. Here’s one of Webster’s definitions:

edit (verb) – to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose

Refine. There’s that word again. It makes giving away so much easier when I think about leaving the things that suit my purpose. This is really inspiring me right now.

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2. This book. Someone recommended it to me several weeks ago, and I immediately requested it from the library. I found myself bookmarking so many passages that I ordered a copy for myself. In the weeks since I started the book, there have been conversations I’ve had and posts I’ve come across that support this idea, that the way we think about things – ourselves, our jobs, our relationships – can determine our success in these areas, and that by changing our mindset, we can change the outcome. I can’t stop thinking about it.

3. Summer. I know, it just turned to spring (and in Northern California, it’s been feeling like winter again), but everyone’s talking about summer plans – road trips, day camps, local getaways. I was at a play date with a friend this week, and I asked her about summer plans, and aside from their yearly family trip, she said, “We’re just going to play. Isn’t that was summer was all about when we were little?” Isn’t that so refreshing? Reminded me of this post that I’ve thought about at least once a day since I first read it.

4. Upholstery. Because I thrifted a sofa. You know I’m going to tell you the long version.

About a month ago, I was at the thrift store, and I saw a girl pick up a pair of cowboy boots and try them on. I was a bit jealous. I have always wanted to thrift a pair (because I know I won’t wear them enough to warrant buying new ones). Also, I was recently invited to a Southern-themed birthday party, so I REALLY wanted to find a pair. The girl wore them around the store for a while, and I was sure she was going to buy them. Fast forward two weeks to spring break, and the kids and I are at the thrift store. And there, on the shelf, are the boots. And they FIT! It’s my lucky day. I drop them in my basket and move on to the furniture section, where I find this:

thrifted sofa

(This is my house, not the thrift store. I know it’s hard to tell because of the T-ball mitt, hot pink water bottle, cat tree, and 1960s linoleum.)

Now, I’ve been searching Craigslist for weeks for a settee for the foot of our bed (something like this or this or this). I’m not going to lie, my heart started racing as soon as I saw it. Price? $65! Totally my lucky day! I told the kids to stretch out on it while I grabbed the price tag and the closest worker to claim it as my own. I was so afraid someone else was going to nab it! I put it on hold and called Adopted California Dad to come help me pick it up with his truck. I texted a photo to Husband, who was out of town, mostly to get him used to the idea before he got home. (Also because I had Adopted California Dad deliver it to the living room while I decided if I was going to take it to be reupholstered immediately or live with it in pink for a bit. I decided on the latter but couldn’t actually maneuver it down the hall and had to leave it in the middle of the den, so I didn’t want Husband to trip over it in the dark when he flew in late that night. I’m a good wife like that.)

I’ve got big plans for this sofa, including new upholstery and paint. Husband seems to think I should be able to do it myself. EEK! I’d love to try – and I’m always up for learning a new skill. Tell me, do you have any experience in upholstering furniture? Is it crazy to think I could find a video on YouTube and make it happen myself?

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5. This quote.

What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got the party with the cowboy boots, T-ball, and a bunch of other little things scattered on the calendar, but I’m hoping for a little bit of puttering-around time, too. Have a good one!

 

Slipcovers for Handles (or How I Spent My Rainy April Afternoon)

 

Simple Fix for Bag Handles

I love a good slipcover – white duck cloth on sofas (like this and this and this) and chairs and anything else – I love it. Not that I have white slipcovers in my house – I’m a little bit afraid. But I love the idea. Who knows, maybe when we finally finish the den, I’ll decide to bite the bullet and commit to white slipcovers.

But today, I’m showing you a slipcover for my purse. (Do you say “purse” or “bag”? Or maybe “pocketbook”? I always heard “pocketbook” when I was growing up, but I never hear that anymore. Maybe it’s a Southern thing.)

It’s finally Spring (Happy belated Easter!), but the weather has turned decidedly cold this week. I was thrilled to wake up to rain this morning. Just when I thought I would be packing away my winter boots and bags, today I found myself cranking up the heater, pulling out rain boots, and snuggling in on the sofa for a little sewing project.

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Here’s my everyday bag. It’s nothing fancy – something I picked up a Target a couple of years ago. I’ve used it almost daily, repurposing it as a diaper bag at first and now as my catch-all handbag for fundraising files, tissues, earbuds, lip balm, snacks for little people, my current reading, and about a thousand receipts that gather in the bottom and multiply.

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And here are its pitiful, overworked handles. I know I can just replace it, and I’m sure I will, but I haven’t yet found one I like nearly as much as this one. And amazingly, the rest of the bag is in fantastic shape. It looks almost new. So I started thinking, what could I do to make it better without taking it to the repair shop to get new handles and have them say, “You know this isn’t real leather, right?” Lipstick on a pig and whatnot.

So I started brainstorming. Lightbulb! I could make little covers for the handles.

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I dug out an old thrifted coat (that I used for my beloved clutch several years ago – still my most pinned and visited project on the blog to date).

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After measuring the part of the handle to be covered, I determined that the new “slipcovers” needed to be 2″ x 7″ strips. This was found on the coat’s lapel.

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I took the lapel apart, removed the lining, and cut the pieces into the correct lengths and widths.

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I used brown thread and inserted the needle on the inside of the leather so that the loose ends would be tucked inside.

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The thread proved difficult to move through the leather, so I used coconut oil on the thread to help it along. (Is there anything coconut oil can’t help?)

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I centered the leather strip under the handle and then curved it around, sort of like a taco shell.

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Pinching wrong sides together, I used a blanket stitch to close the leather strips around the handles.

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This was a little challenging, and I was wishing for a thimble for this part. (Anyone else have a hard time saying “thimble”? I always feel like I’m saying “cymbal” with a lisp. Every. Single. Time.)

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I worked all the way down the opening of the strip, making sure the leather was sewn snuggly around the handles to keep it from slipping.

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And here’s my old bag with her slipcovered handles. (A contrasting color of leather would be a fun option, too.)

And here’s also a sneak peek at our new dining room color – Dark Diversion by Clark + Kensington. We are deep in house projects around here – updating the back patio (including outfitting the daybed), painting the majority of the interior of the house, and finally deciding on flooring for the den. But don’t expect a house tour soon – we’ve lived here almost 2 years, and we’re just now deciding on paint colors. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

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