Monthly Archives: November 2010

Faking It: Custom window valance

There are times in life where you just have to fake it.  Like when you find the almost-perfect valance curtain at the thrift store.

In case you don’t remember, my kitchen window originally looked like this:

The empty space between the cabinets bugged me.  I tried some floating wall vases from CB2, but wasn’t thrilled with the result.  After that disaster, I planned to make a valance for the window . . . but hadn’t gotten around to it.

Then I found three green and white handmade valances at the Goodwill, for only $2 a pop.  Knowing that my kitchen colors were supposed to be citrus (orange, yellow, green) – how could I resist? It wasn’t exactly the pattern I’d have chosen, but frankly I was happy to find something already made.  I have enough sewing projects on my hands right now.

Valances usually hang on rods that come out from the wall and then across the front, creating a boxy shape.  However, the wall surrounding my kitchen window was tiled, and since I rent, I didn’t want to drill any holes in it.   Also, the curtain was much wider than the window.  It’s a bit tricky to explain, so I’ll make a step-by-step list of how I created the custom-fitted look for the window.  Here’s how I took the super easy way out:

  1. I found a spring-loaded curtain rod in the basement and adjusted it so that it was exactly the width of the opening between the two cabinets.
  2. I centered the rod into the pocket of the curtain, so that there was an equal amount of excess curtain on either end of it.
  3. Holding tight to the curtain & rod, so that the rod didn’t move in the pocket, I sprung the curtain into place in the opening.
  4. The curtain looked great, stretched taught across the opening, but the excess fabric on the ends hung down behind it, looking all shabby.
  5. I contemplated cutting the ends off, and re-hemming the curtain.  But I liked the custom look created by the fabric wrapping around on either side.
  6. Enter the painter’s tape. (See, I told you I took the super easy way out!)  I taped that sucker to the side of each cabinet.  I also taped up each bottom corner (see below) so that you couldn’t see my cheat unless you bent your head and looked directly up at the curtain.

Ta-dah!  A $2, super-easy-lazy-style kitchen window update.  I am so happy with the result.  And because I used painter’s tape, there’s no worry about messing up the finish on the cabinet.

I have two more valances (I bought the whole batch) and was going to put them on the other kitchen window, but I think that it would be a bit too classic for my modern taste.  What do you think?

‘Tis the season: To learn a lesson

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I sure did. Two, in fact.

Thursday was spent at my brother’s house with his lovely wife and my absolutely precious 7-month-old niece, my parents, and my bro’s in-laws.  Then my mom and dad and I worked all day Friday, getting ready for what Ryan has dubbed “2nd Thanksgiving” on Saturday.  That was the big day.  Our family hosted our good family friends, as always, but with one new addition  – Ryan’s family.  It was the first time our families met, and I’m pretty sure it went well. 

The business forced a break from technology and sewing, which turned out to be a good thing.

On the long drive home to Virginia on Saturday night, I had time to think.  At the thought of spending all day Sunday sewing, as planned… I shuddered.  I’d been working so hard all through October and November, sewing test projects, making lots of mistakes, refining patterns, and thinking constantly of sewing and product ideas.   Coupled with an exhausting 4-day holiday,  my brain was fried.

I realized that – in typical Jane fashion – I dove head-first into reaching my goal, and didn’t exercise any restraint.  I wanted to bring every idea to life immediately.  I wanted to launch my online shop with not one, not two, but a gazillion products.  And in trying to reach that goal, (which didn’t happen), I feel like I missed out on Fall, on all the good November festivities leading up to Thanksgiving. I felt blindsided by the holiday, and no where near ready for Christmas.  My goal was never to exhaust myself – mentally and physically – with this project.  It was supposed to be fun!  Doing something I love.

With all that in mind, I took a step back.  I decided to spend Sunday catching up on things around the house, like the cleaning that we’d sorely neglected.  Get Fall decor put away, and get ready to embrace the Christmas season.  So I did just that, and let me tell you –
It felt so refreshing to just clean the house. And organize.  And make a few updates to the house which I will blog about this week.  Oh, bloggable home projects – how I’ve missed you!

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be back to work – and at night I’ll work on sewing some products for the shop.  But I’m going to take things slower, so that I have a more healthy (and enjoyable) balance of sewing, blogging, and enjoying the Christmas season with my beloved Ryan (who, by the way, dubbed our Thanksgiving-day 2-yr anniversary our “Turkiversary.”)

So I guess I’ll just chalk the month of November up as one big lesson learned.  Here’s to December!

Whew – My shop is finally launched!

Whew. I’m tired. But Flourish Pets and Home is officially launched.

When I set the goal of opening a fully-stocked Etsy shop by the day before Thanksgiving (today), I had NO idea what I was in for.

It’s been a tiring few weeks, from making, trying, and remaking patterns, to sewing demo products and testing them to find their flaws, to finally sitting down and creating a bunch of products to sell. I achieved my goal, sort of.

Tonight I finally listed my first four items – all different patterns of handmade Christmas stockings – and while it’s less than I envisioned initially, I’ve realized it’s the best I could do, what with a job and all that. But it’s only the beginning. I’ve got a ton of other items I’m working on, from the practical yet pretty reusable cloth grocery and produce bags, to cute and modern dog and cat beds, and a few more special home decor items made from repurposed materials – but those are going to have to wait.

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m ready to take a day (or three) away from my sewing machine. Today was the first day I really started to feel tired of sewing – and I don’t want to take a chance of getting burnt out. Not when I have this many ideas, and so much motivation.

Go figure – WordPress is acting up on me, so I can’t include links in a pretty way. Here is the link to my shop:

PS: And if you northerners are looking for a good giggle, be sure to check out Sunny’s response to my Winter Prep Steps post from earlier this week.

EASY Chem-free microwave cleaning. Really.

Here’s an insanely quick and easy way to clean the microwave – without using a drop of cleaning detergents.  Yet again, I forgot to get a “before” photo.  But after I tried my inspired cleaning idea, and it worked, I did it again so that I could take a few pics for you all.

  1. Take a folded rag and wet it with water. Just water. Not soaking and dripping, but pretty wet.
  2. Place it in the microwave.
  3. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  4. Open microwave door, and watch the steam pour out.  Can you see the steam?  It’s the blurry white areas:

  5. Using a rubber glove or oven mitt to protect your hand from the heat, grab the steamy hot rag (that sounds funny, but do it anyway) and wipe down the ceiling, walls, floor, and tray of the microwave.  The grunge should come right off.

See this rag that I’m holding up? That chocolatey-brown stain is, in fact, all the grunge that I wiped off the base of the machine after steaming it.   And see how clean the rest of the microwave is?  Only minutes earlier it had been splattered in spaghetti sauce, chocolate, soup, and a million other things.  Trust me.

It’s really that simple.  And if it worked on my grunge-encrusted microwave, then it’s sure to work on yours.

Do you have any cleaning cheats that are almost too easy to be real?