crazy stuff,  domesticity,  Family Matters,  raving lunatic rant

Operation Couch Cover: Day 2 or something

one done, two to go

While Toby takes his sweet time to download photos from his Argentinian hunting trip and supposedly writes a guest post for you guys, I will regale you with my exciting tales of couch-covering! What? You don’t think ripping out seams and wrestling foam into canvas is as exciting as bus-capades in Buenos Aires and ducks getting eaten by piranhas? Oh. I’m sorry. I see how you guys are.

Well, too bad. If I have to wait, so do you. It might be a while so you might as well read about something. How about ironing? Woo Hoo!


The suspense is killing you, I can tell.

There actually is a bit of a story to my couch-covering operation. The whole mission almost got aborted! I was actually walking around the house fretting and yelling “Abort! Abort! Mission abort!” silently in my head on Friday.

I was stressing out because instead of spending the whole day figuring out how to cover a couch for the first time ever (and I should mention here that though I am crafty, I am not a seamstress), I had to go deal with my mother-in-law instead.

As you know, the last time I had to deal with my mother-in-law was very very bad. It’s not that I want an apology from her but I don’t really want to talk to her either. The thought of a car ride with her is pretty much my worst idea of a good time. She’ll try to explain herself, she’ll try to apologize, she’ll try to make promises that mean nothing…it’s just bad bad bad. There is no good way to deal with my mother-in-law other than pretend what happened last time didn’t happen. And that’s not all that great either.

I’ve had a lot going on this last week and every day was ear-marked with something I had to get done. Friday was my only day to get the couch covered before Toby got home. You’d think that it would be no big deal to have Toby come home to a half-covered couch but you would be wrong.

You see, I decided to use some other cushions from a different couch to replace our present cushions that are rapidly evaporating into orange foam dust. The only problem with this little switcheroo is that the replacement cushions came from a PURPLE COUCH and if I didn’t get them covered in time then there would be purple cushions on my white couch. Purple! Ack! Toby would not understand.

The fact that my mother-in-law highjacked my purple-couch-cushion—covering day with her many needs really angered me. Her errands are never simple and they always end up taking the entire day. This time, not only did her errands completely disregard Baby Bug’s lunchtime and nap time, they also put me smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic at the end of the day. Oh, and they also used up a whole tank of gas, which is not cheap these days. Joy joy. Happy. Happy.

It could have been worse. She could have been drinking. But I was still mad because I had plans! How dare she take up my whole day with car trips to Fullerton and back? And then I had to go and get lost. Ugh it was terrible.

My mother-in-law is starting to lose her memory, like we all will in time. I hate to get mad about that because I know I’m probably going to be just like her if not worse. But part of her memory problem is also due to pickling her brain with alcohol, so maybe I can be mad about that part. Either way, it was super annoying to sit in the car with her for an hour and answer the same question over and over every ten minutes.

“When will Toby be back?”


“Oh, I didn’t realize he was going to be gone so long.”

Ten minutes later, “When will Toby be back?” and on and on and on…

And then I got lost. Like an idiot I missed my exit/detour for the 5 and drove 30 minutes in the wrong direction on the 91. I was missing Toby so bad. If there’s one thing Toby can do, it is this: He can help me out with directions. He was born with a compass in his head. He reads maps for fun. I’m not even kidding. He also used to be a pizza delivery guy.

I called my mother-in-law’s social worker and he was about as helpful as a blind bat. He kept telling me to get off the freeway and go surface streets. I’m sorry, I’m a housewife from Orange County. I don’t get off the freeway in Inglewood if I can help it. I did end up pulling off somewhere and getting directions from a non-English speaking guy who owned a liquor store and thankfully got back on a freeway I recognized.

I was frazzled. Baby Bug was starting to get hungry and tired and my mother-in-law was trying to steal my map from me so she could give me directions. It was not pretty. I almost snapped. I really almost started crying while I was driving which is not good at all when you are lost. Crying never helps.

I know you are wondering why I ever even volunteered for such a crazy day. I don’t owe my mother-in-law anything. I want her to get this new apartment (the errands were to take her from her adult care center to her new apartment for orientation… etc etc…) because the rent is much much cheaper than her present apartment and from time to time Toby and I have to step in and help her out with rent. So financially it is in my best interest to help her but it’s so not cool for me to get involved with her life.

I met the new landlord at her new apartment and I just had a horrible feeling about it. I don’t want to meet this guy. I don’t want him to know who I am. I don’t want to be the face behind the name that he looks up in the phone book to call when she starts drinking again in six months and vomits wine all over his white berber rug. There is a reason she doesn’t have close family and this is why.

But what is done is done.

It was a long day. By the time I got home, I was fried. There was no way I could get my couch cushions covered so I didn’t. I just went to bed and stared at the ceiling in the dark.

I did wake up super early the next day and managed to get one cushion covered before I had to rush off to a baby shower. I was an hour late to the baby shower but my friend didn’t mind. Everyone is always late to baby showers. I figured it was better to be late than not come at all. So we came late and nobody even blinked an eye about it.

After the baby shower, I turned on Noggin and let Baby Bug watch tv until bedtime. I worked late into the night and I’m happy to say I did manage to get all three cushions covered. It was a little sketchy there for a while.

The first cushion I made was too big and it looks sloppy and slack. The other two are just right but nearly impossible to fit over the rough spongy foam. You should have seen me wrestling those big foam rectangles. I looked like a cowboy trying to break in a new horse. I didn’t have time to vacuum up all my many many threads off the floor before we had to go pick up Toby from the airport early the next morning but I did finish my cushions and that felt good.

first cushion done

Operation Couch Cover may not be a complete success but at least there were no purple cushions when Toby got home. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a picture of the whole couch. Or maybe I’ll post something about piranhas!


  • Susan

    Couldn’t help but leave a tip for getting cushion covers over the foam – put the foam into a very thin plastic bag and then put the whole thing into the cushion cover with the open end of the plastic bag hanging out through the opening of the cover. You can then reach in and tear the plastic so it comes away from the foam pad and just pull it out through the opening. The cover doesn’t grip on the plastic as it goes in like it does on the foam.

    It’s a bit hard to describe but it really works!

  • Spandrel Studios

    Susan’s idea is a great one – kind of like how as kids my Mom had us put plastic bread bags over our socks to slide them into our winter boots!

    Your couch cushion covers look fantastic from what we can see – you’re just so creative! I’m just in awe of the fact that you could do this while you’re alone with Baby Bug. Kudos to you!

  • Michelle

    I think your couch cushion covers look like the ones in Pottery Barn – I love them! Great job on all fronts. May I call you “Foam Wrangler”?

  • Someone Being Me

    You need a GPS. It pays for itself in gas money saved. My husband is the absolute worst with directions. It is definitely cheaper than a divorce lawyer. I just picked up the Garmin Nuvi 200W for 180.00 on Amazon. We love it.

  • eticket

    Purple piranhas, please. And if they could be eating orange pillowy couch cushion ducks, well that’d be just super.

  • mama bear

    Dear Brenda, buy a new couch:) You can buy ones from Good Will or 2nd hand stores or even on clearance from dept stores for only a few hundred bucks. It will save you time and frustration. That’s what I’d do. But then again, I’m a spender and I know you’re trying not to be.
    Good job. J

  • Annabanana

    Ack with the stuff about the mother in law! Not fun, but this just goes to show your sweet spirit. Despite not wanting to do it you did anyway. That takes a lot!

  • cc

    I’d agree with Mama Bear if I didn’t already know that even a “new” couch would require making a cover, and it probably wouldn’t be as easy as the one you already have. But maybe some day.

  • gretchen w.

    I have to differ with you on one point: you said “crying never helps”? I think crying ALWAYS helps :-)

    I have been struggling quite a bit with a difficult person in my life lately, and I keep thinking about the letter you wrote to your mother-in-law. My difficult person is not an alcoholic, but her behavior follows similar hurtful cycles. Unfortunately it seems that most of us have someone like that in our lives.

  • Michelle

    Bless your heart. No crying is never good, but sometimes it makes ya feel better! I always think I’m in control, and then something really piddly and random happens and the dam breaks! LOL

  • ninabi

    Wow. I’ve dealt with my alcoholic MIL. My husband has gone out of town. My children were toddlers once. I’ve recovered my sofa.

    But not all at once!!!!!! I don’t know how you did it, but you did.

    If I had to pick between recovering a sofa and your stressful trip with your MIL on the highway, I think I’d pick the sofa…

  • BeachMama

    Glad you got a start on your cover! I find that I have to fold the cushions with my knees to get them in. I like them tight because they stretch so easily.

    Sorry you had to struggle with your MIL. I am sure Toby was very thankful that you took her when he was not here to help. There is a reason you have such a gift of kindness Brenda, it won’t go unnoticed.

  • Susan

    YIkes about your mother in law and I wish I could give you a huge hug for being so selfless. Can’t wait to see the couch complete. At least you do stuff like that…I can barely sew a button.

  • Gingermog

    You are a wonder woman! For all sorts of reasons.

    Great tip from Susan. I know how unweldy large slabs of foam can be. I used to use it a lot when I was a puppet maker and have had to lug huge rolls of it, that are bigger than me around London in the rush hour :)

  • K

    Love the couch so far. You are a brave woman for tackling such a project! I know it will look awesome once it’s all done!

    Sorry about the family drama again. I know how you feel about the crying and putting things in front of what you need. I can’t offer that much advice but just wanted you to know that I’m sending a big hug your way. You’re an angel!! :)

  • Faith

    I am so envious of your mad crafting skills.

    Had I tried to cover the sofa with a cover it would have looked like it was molested by a sheet thief without access to an iron or a straight edge!!

    I second the navigation recommendation. (Just don’t buy the in dash one that tells you your house is on the opposite end of the street. That is the one I got for Christmas…it is now GONE.) It has saved me from divorce court and the horror that is being lost in the “hood” at the wrong time of night.

  • bethany actually

    Oh, I meant to tell you that we have a TomTom GPS we got at Best Buy for some insanely cheap sale price and we love it. It’s not as good as the internet, but it’s pretty freaking good! We were so glad to have it on our trips in Texas and to Omaha and back in Feb.

  • Chris

    Sorry to hear about the tough day. I just wanted to say you’re so brave and strong to spend the day helping your MIL. You may feel bad for not being happy about it, but I think that’s a catch-22. It is more generous to give of yourself when it is difficult to do.

    And I think it’s awesome that you’re re-covering the couch. IMHO your couch will be awesome with your very own (and new!) hand-crafted fabric and that ordinary second-hand factory fabric would be hard-pressed to lay claim to any awesomeness. :)

  • Blue Lady

    I happened upon your blog today after just returning from a 5 day visit with my crazy MIL (at least she’s not an alcoholic), and as I write this I’m staring at my partially finished loveseat. I’ve recovered a sofa, a chair and I’m working in the loveseat now. I’ll just give you a little encouragement by letting you know that the cushions are the hardest part.

  • Uncle George

    AHHHHHHH! My bloody mother strikes again. Inglewood? What the…Brenda, STOP! NO MAS. Let the government functionary (social worker, a true non-sequitor) do the work, she’s going to take you down, down, down. She’s ruined her life, my life and now she’s working on you, Toby and BB. STOP!