DIY · Home · It's Not Rocket Science


Apparently, I’m still focused on our SUPER TINY en suite bathroom.

(Do they call it “en suite” because they hope the fancy French wording will make you forget that it’s barely larger than a closet? That’s probably just our house….)


Last summer, Husband and I painted the bathroom, which made a HUGE difference in my feelings toward this literal Water Closet.


Then, a couple of weeks ago, I accidentally realized I could remove the amber tint of the light fixture globes, and I liked this room a little bit more.

The biggest downfall to the smallest bathroom on the planet is, of course, storage. As in, we have almost zero. We have the tiniest bathroom cabinet known to man under our sink – it holds almost nothing – and the original medicine cabinet from when the house was built in 1961. That’s it.

In the years we’ve lived here, Husband has taken to storing bathroom supplies on the window sill. Mouthwash, shaving cream, toilet paper – everything. As you can imagine, it’s lovely to look at. And the view of that window from my back yard swing is equally beautiful. :)

So, a few weeks ago, when the storage situation was starting to drive me bonkers, I thought, WWID?

Yep. That’s “What Would IKEA Do?” Because when you think tiny bathrooms on a European size scale and very creative solutions to storage problems, you think IKEA.

Are you like me? Do you wander the aisles of IKEA and find solutions for problems you never knew you had? Do boxes and bins and hanging organizers miraculously jump from the displays and land in your insanely-difficult-to-maneuver IKEA shopping cart? Every single time?

I love IKEA. I really do. I  love spending a morning perusing the aisles. I love the free coffee. I even love the Swedish names of the products. (You thought I was going to say Swedish meatballs, didn’t you?)

(Side note: did you see this video of puns on names of IKEA items? Love it. So much.)

Well, IKEA showed me that my solution was a well-placed shelf. But it turned out IKEA didn’t have the correct size/style well-placed shelf, so I took my WWID inspiration to my local hardware store.

ace bracket

This isn’t rocket science, friends. It’s a board and some brackets. I wanted the board to be wide enough to hold roll of toilet paper. A Costco-sized roll. So I went with the 1×6 that was 4 feet long and a couple of very simple L-brackets.

I debated whether to put the shelf over the bathroom door or over the window. In the end, I went with the window because it allowed for a bit more storage space. I think it’s What IKEA Would Do.

After I (read: Husband) sawed off about an inch to make it fit, I sanded and painted the board and the brackets the same color as the walls in hopes of making the shelf disappear, visually.


The Girl offered to help me sand in between coats. Can I tell you that she HONESTLY is a better sander than I am?? She is much more patient, and she’s more meticulous. (The Boy helped find the right screws when it came time to attach it to the wall. It was a full team effort.)


We hung the shelf last weekend. And I’m thrilled. Cutting the clutter from the window sill makes this tiny room feel more open and light.


I can still see the multiple bottles of mouthwash way up there, but they just don’t bother me when they aren’t blocking the window.

And that papier toilette de costco has a lovely new home as well.

C’est vrai! Everthing does sound better in French!


DIY · It's Not Rocket Science · Jewelry · Sewing · Style

Tiny Tweaks: Sewing a Button


Tweak (n.) – a fine adjustment to a mechanism or system

Well, the kids are back to school, and in my LOADS of free time (insert sarcasm face here), I’ve been trying to cross little projects off my list.

At the beginning of summer, I got overwhelmed with ALL THE PROJECTS. Every time I walked into our bathroom, I thought about the 20 problems I wanted to tackle in there. Keeping all those ideas in my head started stressing me out, so one day, I walked through the house with a steno pad and made a giant list of EVERY project I could think of. Each room got a page, and I listed everything, big or small, that I wanted to do. It was so freeing to have it all written down. I stopped thinking about every little thing, and walking into the bathroom wasn’t stressful anymore.

It also helped me see which projects were so simple that I could complete them right away. I realized that it was often the little projects that made me feel so much better, so much lighter. These tiny little tweaks – “fine adjustments” – can make a big difference. So I thought it would be fun to share some of these “Tiny Tweaks” in the next few weeks in hopes that they might encourage you to tackle some small projects, too.

A few weeks ago, when we were roaming around the gardens at Biltmore Estate in the humidity-laden heat of August in the South, it occurred to me that I really don’t have enough shorts. Sure, it gets hot in California, but without the humidity, I can easily get by with jeans many days during the summer. (Once it hits 98, though, I’m wearing this dress on the daily.) So a decent pair of shorts – preferably in navy – went on my wish list. Target had a decent option, but they didn’t have my size at my local store. A few days later, I found a cute pair at the thrift store – and on a 50% off day. Score!

But they were missing a button.

No biggie! I’ve been sewing buttons on since middle school.

I know this because, one Friday, when I was in 6th or 7th grade, in anticipation of going to a high school football game with friends that night, I was wearing said high school’s t-shirt layered under a flannel shirt (because that’s what we ALL did). I had to go into the office for something, and I ran into a boy that I had known forever, and he was also wearing a high school t-shirt and a flannel shirt. (It was the 90s. I think flannel was all we owned.) He asked me if I could help him sew a button on his shirt. I told him I could, but that I didn’t have a needle and thread, but if he could find one, I could do it.

And that was the moment I remember thinking that the boys we built forts with and ran through the sprinklers with and played on the McDonald’s playground with were now boys we liked, and everything was all so different. And something that would have meant nothing a few months before – “Sure, I can sew a button on for you.” – now made me feel totally awkward and self-conscious and dorky. Which is pretty much how all of those middle school years felt.


Anyway, my “new” shorts.


And a perfectly matching button.

I have a stash of buttons. They are mostly the extras that come with new shirts. I have never had to use one of these spare buttons on their original garment, but I often find a use for them on other pieces. However, recently, BG has gotten into playing with buttons, so I emptied my stash for her. I had to dig through her closet to find one that worked.

Saving buttons makes me feel so thrifty. And also a little old-fashioned. I remember my dad telling me that my Mammaw would cut the buttons off of really old clothes that were destined for the rag bin. And I remember my mom kept her stash of buttons in an old baby food jar in our record cabinet (very much like this one) in the basement. Do you save buttons? Will any of our kids do this?

So, in the spirit of being self-sufficient, I’m going to show you how to properly sew on a button.


The first thing I do is to mark the button placement. Hold the waistband closed as it would look when buttoned

how to sew a button

Insert a pin in the existing buttonhole until it pierces the underneath fabric where the button will go.

how to sew a button

Carefully separate the front and back pieces of fabric, keeping the pin in the back fabric. This is where the first stitch will start.

how to sew a button

Thread your needle. I’m using a contrasting color of thread – just for kicks. Feel free to use the same color thread as your fabric or button. Wrap thread around your finger and roll thread off of finger to create a knot.

how to sew a button


Pull thread to secure knot.


I always repeat to make a larger, extra secure knot.


Flip back fabric over to inside.

how to sew a button

Insert threaded needle as close to pin as possible, coming up from the back side.


Slide button onto threaded needle through any of the holes on the button.


Pull thread through hole until knot touches back of fabric.


Insert needle into hole immediately below hole where thread is coming out.


Pull thread all the way through to back.


Looking at the back, I use the previous stitch as a guide to see where to insert my needle again – the same place as the initial stitch, where the knot in the thread is resting.


Before pulling taut, insert a pin underneath the first stitch on the front of the button. This will leave some space so the button is not too tight and will button and unbutton with ease.


Repeat up and down stitches through the same two holes a few times (I did 4).


After 4th stitch, keep thread at the back of fabric.


Use a pin to locate the top hole on the other side of the button. This will once again give you a guide for where to insert your needle.


Insert needle through the back of the fabric and come up through new hole in button.


Pull thread through and insert needle into hole directly below the hole you just came up through.


This will create a second vertical stitch on the button.


Repeat the same number of times as the first stitches.


To make the button more secure, we will wrap the thread around the stitches behind the button but in front of the fabric. With thread pulled to the back of the fabric, come back up through the fabric but not through the button.


Wrap thread around stitches behind the button several times. I did 6 wraps.


Insert needle back through the fabric behind the button.



Pull through back side of fabric.


Trim thread and tie off loose pieces in a knot. I usually do this 2-3 times.


A nice, new, secure button with a little pop of color.




I’m also playing around with some new ideas for bracelets for my shop. I cut apart old bangles and added some vintage beads.


I love the colors, but I’m still tweaking the design. I’ll keep you posted on what I end up with.

And I’ll make sure they pair nicely with a flannel shirt.


back porch · Home · It's Not Rocket Science

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.


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.

back porch curtains

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.