Stuff I Like

I’ve been thinking about starting a ‘Products I Love’ post for quite some time, and I guess the start of the new year is as good a time as any. I enjoy finding useful products that make my life easier and I’m pretty sure you do too so here goes.

(If you would like more info on each product, just click the ‘source’ under each pic.)

Fisherman calls these ‘Hamburger Helper’ gloves. :) True, they’re not pretty, but they’re soooooo much more practical than pot holders, which I’ve never been able to work with and I’ve got the burn marks to prove it. I usually just end up grabbing a dish towel, but these gloves will give you the dexterity you want and need when handling hot items. I have a pair at the rental and plan on getting another for the cabin. Right now they’re on sale for $13 (normally $19).

oven mitts


I’m sure you’ve seen these stools by now. I’ve had one for a while and recently bought two more which I keep at the cabin. They’re super lightweight, inexpensive (you can usually find one for less than $15), and really sturdy. I plan on having at least a few at the cabin, maybe two upstairs and one downstairs, if not more.  




My favorite feature about this stool is it folds flat and can be stored easily. Here’s the one I have at the rental, which I keep in a small base cabinet in the kitchen. (There are also options for taller stools if you need it.)


Have you tried fingerless gloves? A few weeks ago I purchased a few pairs made of boiled wool at a small shop not far from the cabin. I think they may have been made in Peru. I gave some to friends and kept two for myself which was a good thing because it didn’t take me long to lose a pair. :( I love how technology paves the way for new products to be invented. These are great for texting and feel better when driving than traditional gloves. The link leads to an Etsy shop, but you can find these almost anywhere.



Around 10 years ago I bought a pair of black suede boots that are fur lined with a nice heel, perfect for wearing with pants. You know how sometimes you don’t want to wear regular high heels because there’s snow on the ground but you’re going someplace nice and you don’t want to wear clunky boots either?

Well, for the last few years I’ve been looking to replace those boots because they’re showing their age. It wasn’t easy. I searched EVERYWHERE and almost gave up hope when I came across these via Pinterest. The picture led me to a site but they were sold out. Armed with the manufacturers name, I did a search and found them on Amazon. Even though they said it would take 4 weeks to receive them, I got them in 3 days!

I love them! The heel is just the right height, they’re rubberized on the bottom so they’re pretty safe to wear while walking on slippery surfaces, and they’re super warm.



They also come in a pretty camel color and you can also get them a bit higher on the calf if you want, but since I’ll mostly be wearing them with pants these were perfect.

I can’t say how often I will post about the new stuff I try. I don’t want to feel pressured to put up a post and buy something I don’t really want or need, but I will definitely share anything I feel is worthwhile as I find it.

What about you? Any cool products you’ve tried lately?


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                                                      Ivy & Elephants 




Flowers in ‘Vases’

I was taking a look at a lot of my pictures recently and something came to me. I realized I’ve become a tad obsessed with placing flowers in containers other than vases. Maybe it’s the idea of giving items a new purpose, or maybe I just like the unexpected from time to time, but I can’t help but look at an item and wonder ‘hummmm…would that work as a vase of some sort”?

Here’s some Flox that I placed in an antique coffee pot. (At least I think that’s what it is.) It’s perfect for holding flowers because it’s leak proof.




An old, light blue mason jar makes a simple but sweet container for some Black-Eyed Susans.


This past Spring I had more Peonies in the garden than ever before. I had fun finding various containers to house them in. Peonies are so beautiful, they elevate even the simplest of vessels. 


Here I mixed silk flowers with real peonies. This container isn’t leak proof, so I added a glass vase inside to hold the water. 


Here’s that metal coffee pot again, but this time it’s housing a silk sunflower.  As you’ll see, the antique jug has served its purpose well…



   Some silk flowers in a wooden bucket…


Since the same bucket is not leak proof, I placed a vase inside to hold these peonies. Any leak proof container will due. No one will see it.


This antique cradle makes an adorable container for flowers. This was one of my favorite finds in the Spring at a community tag sale, scored for only $8!


Confession time. I couldn’t keep these flowers in this container for long. It’s at the cabin and since we’re not there full time the flowers would have died for lack of watering, so for now it’s sitting on the porch, empty.

I’ve seen some truly unique items used as planters; a desk with its drawers used to hold plants, tires, even a car! Almost anything can be transformed with a little tweaking and ingenuity.

How about you? Do you stick with traditional vases or do you like to use to mix things up now and then?

I’ll be spending the weekend at one of my favorite places, Montauk, L.I. Our friends have a house there and we’re looking forward to seeing them and enjoying what’s supposed to be some lovely Fall weather. Tomorrow night we’re planning a bonfire on the beach and Saturday maybe a trip to a vineyard. 

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Cozy Little House

Why I Love My New Flash

When I first purchased my Rebel T3i in the Spring, everything I read and nearly everyone I spoke to said to never use the built in flash on the camera.

I have to agree the built in flash produces flat, lifeless photos, so I avoided it like the plague. But it made me wonder…then why would anyone actually buy a flash??

After getting my camera, I jumped right in and started shooting in Manual most of the time, with the exception of close up shots when I wanted a blurred background and then I would shoot in Aperture priority.

Things were going along pretty well…BUT…I couldn’t quite figure out how to avoid blown out windows.

If you shoot room settings, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, let me explain the challenge. If it’s daytime and you want to highlight, for example, a sofa in a living room, you need to set your exposure for the lighting surrounding the sofa. This causes whatever window may happen to be in the picture to be too bright and all the details are lost of whatever view you happen to have. Obviously, if you set your exposure for the window, the sofa will be too dark.

I learned recently that a flash (not the built in one) will help prevent this. All along I’ve been thinking ‘why would a flash be a good thing when the built in flash isn’t?’ I don’t have the answer to that, but I will tell you…it just IS!

A picture is truly worth a thousand words so I thought I would share a couple of pictures I took with and without the flash. The settings were exactly the same.  Shutter speed 1/13, Aperture 5 and ISO 200. The only thing that changed was the use of the flash.


flash camera



None of these pictures were edited in any way, shape or form. Without the flash, the colors on the left look ‘muddy’, while with it they’re far clearer.

Buying a flash has been the best $59+ I ever spent.

Well, if you don’t count the brand new GEN-U-IIINE Dolce & Gabana bag I got at a tag sale. 

I purchased my flash at Walmart. It was the only one they had and at $59, it’s one of the cheapest on the market that I’m aware of, AND you can get it for even less on Ebay.

If you have any tips you’ve learned along the way, especially for blown out areas such as windows,  I’d love it if you would share them!


How We Saved $5,000 On Our New Deck

You would think that having a deck built would be a fairly easy thing to do. Not in our world it seems. We started planning for a deck a year ago. Last November I started speaking to a contractor who had been recommended by a neighbor. We were excited about the fact that he said he could start the deck in May or June of this year, and his prices were unbeatable. There were a few red flags along the way, but you know how it is…when you’re anxious to do something you tend to ignore the obvious sometimes. Well, that got us nowhere, because in June, after 7 months of wasting our time, he told us he didn’t know when he could start and that we should find someone else. UGH!!

Which, thankfully, I did. We really wanted to be able to use the deck for at least a couple of months before winter settles in so we didn’t waste any time interviewing a few contractors.  I got three quotes and one was very low and the other two were fairly close to each other. As it turned out, the contractor with the low quote gave us a price without actually pricing out the materials. When he got around to doing so, his price actually turned out to be the highest of the three. 

Here’s how the negotiating process went and how we saved around $5,000. After receiving the three quotes, I asked each of the contractors what portion of the quote was labor and what portion was for materials. Two of them quoted us around $8,000 for labor and another $4,000. Then I asked them if they had a problem with us ordering the materials. None of them did, and since I had a good feeling about the contractor who had the lowest labor bid we went with him.  I had also seen his work at another house in the neighborhood and it was clear he knew his stuff. He seemed to really want the job and after the fiasco with the first contractor, that was important. 

Buying the materials yourself gives you control, and you know exactly how much things cost and you can compare prices with two or three retailers if you like. Also, contractors typically ‘build in’ hidden costs which may or may not be necessary in the end, but the homeowner pays for it anyway. If we had taken the original bid of labor+materials, we would have spent another $5,000. It’s a bit more work, but not much. In fact, in our case the contractor used his own account with the retailer which also saved us shipping charges. 

Here’s a sneak peak at the deck which was just finished yesterday! We had a small bench built with some leftover materials and we can also store some things inside like small cushions, charcoal, etc.

how to build a deck

I wanted part of the decking to be installed on an angle. I think this helps to designate the sections of the deck and helps break up the expanse.



 We wanted the tops of the railings to be functional, so we had regular boards installed there which are large enough to put a drink or small plate on.

how to save money building a deck

If you’ve been following along, you might remember I was undecided what material to use and I asked for opinions in this post. We ended up going with Trex, which surprisingly was a little less expensive than Home Depot’s composite brand, Veranda. An added bonus was Trex had a much better color match for the house. The decking goes almost perfectly with the siding, and we choose a darker color for the rail spindles to add a bit of contrast. It’s a basic deck, nothing fancy, but I’m soooo happy to finally have it.  It measures 12’x32′ which is just large enough for a table and an area to lounge in, and as happy as I am about the deck, I’m equally excited about the area underneath which will eventually be closed in and will function as a much needed storage area.

under deck storage

There are still lots of details to tend to. We need a table umbrella, chaise cushions, some electrical installed, the landing at the bottom of the steps needs to be finished, we need to stain the framing and get a new grill. Next year we’ll start to enclose the bottom part and maybe get the rest of the yard up to snuff. 


 I’ll post about it again when most of the details are done and, of course, come over anytime and see for yourself :).

The 15 Places We Forget To Clean

For those of you who don’t know, Fisherman and I have owned a residential cleaning business for nearly 14 years. I was motivated to write this post because of scenarios that come up time and time again without fail.

It goes something like this:

Me (to potential customer): Has your home been cleaned professionally within the last three months?

Customer: No, but I clean it regularly. It’s not dirty and it shouldn’t take them more than an hour or two at the most…

items missed when cleaning

Suffice it to say it does take more than an hour or two.

I don’t think people deliberately try to misrepresent what their home’s condition is really like. They just don’t realize there’s cleaning, and then there’s cleaning. Yes, they wipe down their stove top and counter tops, maybe even clean behind their toilet from time to time. But there are lots of areas that aren’t as easy to get to that need cleaning. Maybe not every week or even every month, but they do need some TLC every once in a while. 

The good news is, you don’t need a lot of time or special equipment to get the job done. Just a mild all-purpose cleaner, a little water, a duster and maybe a magic eraser and you’re good to go!

Have you checked these areas lately?

      1.  Base Boards:

I’d have to say this is the number one area that is often overlooked. Most of us (me included!) just don’t enjoy bending down to clean. Have you ever heard the term ‘strike zone cleaning’? It just means we tend to concentrate on the strike zone area to clean, and avoid over our heads and below our knees. Because baseboards are low to the ground, they accumulate lots of dust, and pretty quickly! Try to get to this area at least every two weeks. Hand wiping isn’t always necessary though. Just use a lambs wool duster and only hand wipe maybe once a month or so, depending on your particular needs and circumstances.  

       2.  Door Knobs:

Think about it for a minute. How many times a day do hands touch the doorknobs in your home? If you have a large family, the answer is A LOT! Clean these areas as often as you can.

        3.  Light Switches:

Stop reading right now and go take a look at your light switches. Did you notice they were looking a little worse for wear? Thought so. Get a damp rag and give them a quick wipe. Takes just a minute and they’ll look so much better and be more sanitary too.

        4.  Chair Legs:

Remember that strike zone? Well, guess what? Chair legs are pretty low to the ground and are often overlooked.

        5.  Under Couch Cushions:

If you have pets or small children, try to get to this area every two weeks. If not, once a month is perfect.

        6.  Behind Refrigerator:

This area is overlooked for obvious reasons. Who wants to move a refrigerator?? If you’re able to get to the back without moving it, just use a duster to remove some of the dust bunnies. If you have to move it, let’s face it, once a year is good enough in my book.

        7.  Lampshades and Bulbs:

Lampshades attract dust like honey attracts ants. Dust these at least every two weeks.

        8.  Grease Filters:

Make it easy on yourself. Put these in the dishwasher. If you cook a lot, do this every two weeks.

        9.  Picture Frames:

The tops of picture frames, especially if they’re hanging, get overlooked because we usually can’t see it. Take a few minutes once a month to tackle this job. Oh, and don’t forget to straighten them out when you’re done or I’ll have the picture police at your door (that would be me). 

      10.  Handles:

The handles on your oven, refrigerator, microwave and cabinets take a beating. Clean these weekly, or better yet, every day when you’re cleaning up after dinner.

      11.  Windows:

Here’s one area you don’t need to do too often, once or twice a year, depending on where you live, should be enough. 

      12.  Shelves:

A couple of times a year or more, take everything off your shelves and dust. While you’re at it, think about if you really need or even want the items you’re dusting. Now would be a great time to declutter!

      13.  Mats:

Just because you can’t always see how dirty your door mats are, trust me, they’re filthy. Wash the mats you can, and shake out the ones you can’t. Do this at least 3-4 times a year. Mats aren’t that expensive, so consider replacing them fairly regularly. 

      14.  Ridges on Cabinets:

If you have raised door panels on your kitchen cabinets, armoires, etc., lots of dust settles there. Use a duster regularly, and hand wipe at least every 6-8 weeks.

      15.   Under Beds and Furniture:

There’s that strike zone thing again! Vacuum if you’re able, but be careful you don’t nick the furniture! Use a lambs wool duster for areas a vacuum can’t reach.  Every 2 months should be enough for most homes, but if you have pets that shed you might need to up that a bit.

I know this list seems pretty long, doesn’t it? But I promise most of these things can be done in an afternoon or less. I’m a big believer in doing a little at a time so it doesn’t get overwhelming and you end up doing nothing. Has this happened to you?

I know there are other areas of the home that can be added also. Can you think of any?





Peony Envy & How To Care For Peonies

I LOVE peonies! It’s hard to imagine their delicate blooms are actually pretty hardy, and the plant itself lasts for generations. I only wish the actual blooms lasted longer, but did you know you could get peonies with varying blooming times so they can be enjoyed all season long?  I didn’t know that until recently, but I’m filing that little tidbit away for future reference.

I drove up to the cabin on Wednesday last week and on the way up I stopped at a few places and did a bit of damage at HomeGoods. ;). I spent a lot of time on Friday putzin’ around the house, trying peonies in various containers, some of which I had just purchased at HomeGoods and others I already had, but I think this is my favorite…




The relaxed and free form style of peonies lend themselves well to containers that are a bit rustic and less formal. Maybe a metal bucket, or a small barrel if you have one handy would be perfect. If you happen to have a container that isn’t waterproof, just put a regular vase inside of it and use that to hold the flowers. That’s what I did with the bucket and if I didn’t tell you would never have known.


Here’s a container that I also picked up at HomeGoods and did the same thing with. Some of the ‘flowers’ are silk that I bought at Michael’s on sale.


Both pitchers I picked up at HomeGoods. Told you I did some damage!

planters for peonies

 This vase was purchased at Ikea a few months ago and works well for blooms with long stems.


 Another little red pitcher, also purchased at HomeGoods.

caring for peonies

Peonies are easy to care for and despite neglect, can still produce beautiful blooms. I know, because I’ve done absolutely NOTHING to help them along and look at what I’ve got to show for it. Not bad,right? But I thought I’d send along some tips and pros and cons in case you want to try your hand at growing some.

The most popular type of peony is known as Herbaceous. There are also Tree Peonies, Intersectional Peonies and Woodland Herbaceous Peonies. I’ll be talking about the Herbaceous.


  1. They’re beautiful. Nuf said
  2. They need little care
  3. They’re deer proof! That’s super important because our cabin is smack dab in the middle of deer country. If you’re interested in some shade loving, deer proof plants, check out this post for lots of suggestions.
  4. They make beautiful cut flower arrangements.



  1. Ants love them. If you bring the full blooms into your home, you’ll most likely have ants. It’s best to cut them just before they bloom to avoid this.
  2. They need staking. I’m not a fan of how stakes look, but that’s just me.
  3. The blooming season doesn’t last long (just a few weeks)



Use fertilizer sparingly and keep fertilizer away from the crowns of the plants. Around 6″ to 18″ from the crown is a good place to add fertilizer.

During the first two years they need a good soaking at least once a week, especially if it is hot and there is no rain. Just be careful not to over water as they don’t like wet feet. 

After peonies blooms are spent, deadhead the stems to the first set of leaves.

If you would like more info about peonies, you can just Google it, or check out this site which I think has lots of good info. 

Do you love peonies as much as I do? What’s your favorite flower?

Two Easy Ways to Line a Boxed Cosmetic Pouch




Hey there! Hope you had a great weekend and got to spend Father’s Day with the special men in your life! We had a busy weekend. We brought a 10′ U-Haul up to Massachusetts filled to the brim with a large 46″ square cocktail table, two outdoor dining sets and two outdoor chaises, a leather chair, a small outdoor bar, a queen size captain’s bed and a small pantry cabinet.  I wasn’t sure everything would fit, but Fisherman can get an elephant in a phone booth (if he could fine one…the phone booth, not the elephant) and my step-son helped who seems to have inherited the packing gene.  So Saturday was spent packing and unpacking, but on Sunday I squeezed a few minutes out of the day for some sewing.

My latest obsession is little boxy pouches. They’re so darn cute and they have the added bonus of only needing a tiny amount of fabric so they’re a great way to use up all those fabric remnants.  A few weeks ago I showed you how to make an unlined pouch, but if you’re like me and you like having a pop of unexpected color when you open your bag, read on.

I’m not going to show you the entire process, because in both examples I used the same techniques I used for the unlined pouch, so you can check out that post in the links above and below for the step-by-step.

There is no one right way to line a pouch, but if you want fast and easy, you might want to try one of these methods.

Last week I made a cute little pouch and the way I lined it was simply by sewing two pieces of fabric, right sides together, making sure to leave an opening on one side about 2″ long and then turning the fabric right side out.

cosmetic pouch

Clip the corners as shown, and use something to push out the corners. I used the opposite end of a seam ripper. 

easy sewing techniques


You do not need to sew the openings, just press the seam allowance inside making it even with the rest of the fabric. It will all get sewn later.  So essentially what you have is a piece of fabric that is self lined. Now go ahead and follow the instructions here and you’re good to go.


sewing beginners


Here’s what it looked like when I was done. This method added about 20-30 minutes to the time it took to make the unlined pouch. The hardest part is making sure all four pieces are the same size, but take the time to get that right or you’ll end up with a lopsided pouch.

 boxed pouch


This next method I tried today and I think it’s my favorite, but I’m not 100% sure yet because I didn’t have the time to fully complete it. What I did was essentially make another bag using the lining fabric, but instead of installing a zipper in the top I just hemmed the top opening with the sewing machine. Then I fit it inside the pouch and started to hand sew it in place but didn’t have time to finish.

This method was super fast and if you use solid fabric as an added bonus you can turn it inside out and you won’t see any seams on the inside.  

lined cosmetic pouch

 I used pink ribbon for the pull tabs on this one. I think this one is my favorite! 



There’s another method for lining that involves using fusible fleece and calls for using a Serger. I have one, but it scares the bejeebies out of me. I’m going to have to put my big girl panties on and give it a whirl and report back. 

The 10 Commandments for Homeowners and Housecleaners



I guess as the owner of a cleaning service I suppose I’m in a unique position. I’ve seen things from both sides of the fence, both as a homeowner using a service or an individual, and as a business owner. I’ve experienced some behavior, both from homeowners and cleaners, that make me scratch my head and wonder what they’re thinking, or even if they’re thinking at all.

No one is immune from making mistakes. When all is said and done, the Golden Rule applies. If we all just treat everyone the way we would like to be treated, what a wonderful world this would be! (Now I can’t get that tune out of my head).

If you clean houses, take note. Here follows some of the pet peeves homeowners have about cleaners, and rightfully so. 

The Ten Commandments For Housecleaners


  1. Thou shalt let the homeowner know if damage occurs.
  2. Thou shalt not talk on the phone whilst cleaning, or worse, talk on the phone and not clean. 
  3. Thou shalt not use the homeowners microwave to heat up your lunch. You may disagree, but the smell of arroz con pollo is not enticing. And that three day old burrito? Don’t get me started.
  4. Thou shalt not move items and place them in a random place. No one likes to find their sneakers in the refrigerator.
  5. Thou shalt not unplug homeowners electronic devices.
  6. Thou shalt not use green abrasive sponges on delicate surfaces such as stainless or marble.
  7. Thou shalt not pretend you understand what homeowner is saying. ‘OK’ is not an acceptable answer to every question or comment.
  8. Thou shalt show up on the day you’re scheduled. If you’re not able to, thou shalt call.
  9. Thou shalt maintain a pleasant, professional attitude. Keep your personal life personal.
  10. Thou shalt not throw out anything that is not in the garbage pail. Thou shalt remember, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

In the interest of fairness, here we go…

 The Ten Commandments For Homeowners


  1. Thou shalt not cancel frequently, especially at the last minute. Thou shalt understand that the cleaners rely on the scheduled houses for their income. Whether you use a service or an individual, your spot is reserved for you and consequently other business may be turned away. A cancellation results in lost income that can never be recovered.
  2. Thou shalt treat cleaners with respect. Cleaning is hard work. Thou shalt be grateful there are individuals willing to clean our toilets. And while we’re on the subject, thou shalt remember to flush the toilet before the cleaner arrives.
  3. Thou shalt understand damage is not always the cleaners fault. Thou shalt not rush to judgment if you find something damaged. You have 6 kids under the age of 8, a Mastiff, a Great Dane and an armadillo. Maybe one of them scratched your wood floor? Just a thought.
  4. Thou shalt not constantly micromanage and follow the cleaners throughout the house. If you’re going to do that, perhaps you should save yourself some money and clean yourself. Clearly, you have the time.
  5. Thou shalt remember the cleaners for the holidays. A small gesture of appreciation goes a long way.
  6. Thou shalt remember cleaners are human and will make mistakes. Don’t sweat the small stuff. You’ll live longer and be infinitely happier. I promise.
  7. Thou shalt remember while it may take 10 minutes to put items back where they belong and yes, it’s annoying (see #4 above), it’s far better than taking 4 hours to clean yourself.
  8. Thou shalt be flexible with scheduling. Thou shalt understand factors occur that can influence arrival time, such as traffic, changes in the schedule due to a holiday week, customer cancellation (see #1) or employee absence.
  9. Thou shalt communicate any concerns or issues so they can be rectified. Cleaners and business owners are not mind readers, and a little communication goes a very long way and is very much appreciated.
  10. Thou shalt not add to the scope of work after agreeing on a price without understanding a price increase may be in order. Not cool.
  11. I’m breaking the rules and adding this one because, yeah, it’s important…Thou shalt not be nekkid and wait for the cleaners to enter your bedroom. That’s perverted and no one wants to see your shriveled hot dog. Unless of course you’re George Clooney, in which case I’m grabbing my wooly and I’ll be right over.

These ‘Commandments’ are in no way all inclusive, and I’m sure you can add a few to the lists (and please feel free to let us know your pet peeves) but they’re some of the issues I’ve experienced and have heard along the way that annoy others so I thought I’d share.


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Life on Lakeshore Drive





No Sew Slipcovers

I admit it. I’m lazy. Not in the ‘I don’t want to do anything’ kind of way, but in the ‘why do it the hard way?’ kind of way. Hence, my latest project was born. Behold my 10 minute (seriously!) easy, no sew slipcover!




About a year ago I got some fabric really, really cheap at Joanne’s. That’s why I bought it. In other words, I don’t love it. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. Translation: I didn’t want to spend hours sewing slip covers with a fabric I wasn’t even sure I’d want to look at a year from now, much less longer than that. Plus, be honest; can you tell this is put together with pins?

outdoor chair cushions

Even if you can, just say you can’t. I’m sensitive like that. 

Wanna see what’s underneath all that ‘no-sew slipcover’ beauty? Behold (there’s that word again) the ugliest chair cushion EVER.  If you dare, take a look, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

no sew slipcover

So now you know. I HAD to cover it, or one more look and I was going to turn to stone. But hey, it’s a solid wood chair and was purchased at Goodwill for $20, so I’m not complaining.

All it takes is plain old safety pins. Nothing fancy here folks. You basically wrap the cushion like you would wrap a gift and use safety pins to hold it in place. Oh, and I didn’t have any help doing this. I mention that because if I did, it would have been even tighter looking.


no sew chaircovers


We picked up this chair at Goodwill for $20 I think a few years ago. It’s been screaming at me for a new chair cushion all this time. Now I think the wood needs some spiffing up, I’m just not sure what to do with it yet. Baby steps.

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Throwback Thursday

Easy 30 Minute Boxy Pouch Tutorial


Hey there everyone! I hope your holiday weekend was a good one. Ours was good, but rainy. It pretty much rained the entire weekend except Monday, so I made the most of it and spent some time sewing some boxed cosmetic bags. I really wanted to make use of some of the fat quarters and fabric scraps I had so I figured cosmetic pouches were a good idea.

cosmetic pouch tutorial


Even though I’ve been sewing for years, like so many of you I’ve always been afraid to install zippers. Actually, terrified is a more apt description.


Nope. I tamed that beast once and for all. I finally figured out a way to do it that is so easy and almost fool proof and I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. I’m even more surprised I’ve never come across any tutorials using this method. 

The hardest part of installing a zipper is not being able to see the coils as you sew. You kinda have to feel your way along and it’s really difficult to get super close to the coils which is what you want for a nice clean finish. If you’re sewing an item that is unlined, this is the way to go. If it’s lined, I think you’ll have to use the tried and true method unless someone out there knows an easier way. If so, do share!

Ready to get started?

1. Cut your fabric into two rectangles around 9×6″. The 9″ will be the top/bottom. On one long end of each piece, turn under 1/2″ and iron. This fold is where you will sew your zipper.

pouch how to

2. Position the zipper as shown below. Notice the zipper pull is facing up. Pin so just the coils are sticking out ever so slightly. I like to use zippers that are bigger than the finished product. It’s a lot easier to work with and you can cut off the excess in a bit. 

how to make a cosmetic bag

3. If you’re nervous about this next step, set your thread length to at least 3 or higher (basting stitch). This way, if you mess up you can easily rip it out. So go ahead and baste it and if you’re happy sew it again using a regular stitch.  Sew very slowly and make sure you remove the pins before the needle gets too close.

how to install a zipper

4. Sew the other side, making sure the fabric halves line up. 

cosmetic bag installation

6. Fold the fabric right sides together as shown and sew along the bottom edge. If you want, iron this seam open. 

how to sew a zipper

7. This next step is optional but recommended. If you want to sew zipper tab pulls, now is your chance. Since I always like to do things the easy way, I decided to use ribbon instead of making my own. Just following this advice will save you a lot of time.  Rearrange the fabric so that the bottom seam is directly on top of the zipper as shown.

installing zipper tabs

8. To make the tabs, cut two pieces of ribbon 3″ in length, fold each in half and pin to short ends of pouch as indicated. VERY IMPORTANT! At this point, make sure your zipper pull is opened about half way or you won’t be able to open/close the zipper. Make sure the bottom seam and center of zipper are lined up on both sides before sewing. This will give you a nice finished look on the sides. Sew the sides without the zipper pull first as shown. When you sew the other tab in, make sure the zipper coils are practically overlapping just slightly to avoid an unsightly opening in your zipper. After sewing, cut off excess zipper ends.

installing zipper tabs

9. Pinch the four corners together and pin. 

making boxed corners

10. Using a quilter’s ruler, mark lines on each corner 2.5″ long. Try to be as accurate as possible. Sew along these lines, trim seams and turn right side out. 

making boxed corners for a bag

 The zebra bag was made the same way as the small yellow one, but the paisley is lined and I used fusible fleece to give it a little body. That sewing method was different and far more involved and time consuming.  

pouch boxy





This unlined bag took me 30 minutes and because it’s so small, I can probably get three bags from one fat quarter. Not bad.  Not bad at all.

 boxy pouch

 Have I convinced you to give zippers a try?

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