About Jennifer

I'm an interior designer at my core and a big fan of simple pleasures and Mother Nature. Originally from Iowa, I've lived up and down the East Coast, plus Alaska and Germany (thanks to my husband, who must have nomadic blood in his veins). Currently I'm a Yankee in South Carolina, trying to keep up with my son and constantly adjusting to life in the South.

Zip It! My First Try At A Zippered Pillow Cover

I sewed a zipper into a pillow cover! Woohoo! Cue the band and light the fireworks! I don’t know why, but it seems like a momentous occasion on my learning-to-sew journey. I’ve been wanting to do this little project since we started cleaning up our guest room. I purchased the pillow on the top left from TJ Maxx and it serves as the color inspiration. I picked up the other two fabrics at JoAnn.

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I love that these fabrics feature my favorite green that reappears in several rooms of our house. What makes this color scheme fresh for this room is the addition of the dark blue.

To figure out how to install a zipper, I just Googled it. First I looked at this video on YouTube and thought it was too complicated. I didn’t like how there would be two lines of stitches along each side of the zipper. So, I skipped over to this website. This option looked like it would easily replicate how the zipper was sewn into the pillow I purchased at TJ Maxx. It involves sewing the seam together, then adding the zipper, followed by ripping the original seam apart to reveal the zipper. I do not like how it turned out.

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This method may work for a different fabric, but my fabric is white with a dark pattern printed on it. I can see every little hole where the thread went through. Awful! I left it this way because I didn’t want to ruin the fabric any more than I already did. I don’t have enough to cut new pieces.

For the second pillow, I followed how it was done on the YouTube video and it almost looks like it was done by a professional. I’m still not sold on the double lines of stitches, but I think that could be corrected if I used no sew tape to iron the fold down, eliminating the need for one line of stitches, and then sewed on the zipper.

suzani

I did run into some trouble sewing over the thick parts of the zipper. My bobbin thread kept bunching up, so I learned to walk the foot and needle of my sewing machine over the thick part of the zipper. Next time, I think I would probably hand stitch the ends of the zipper to the fabric to avoid that problem. Just to give myself a little pat on the back, I’m pleased with how well I matched the pattern up on the seams of the pillow. It isn’t exact, but it’s pretty darn good.

Overall, this little project taught me not to rip seams on this type of printed fabric, or maybe not at all, and to try hand stitching through the thickest parts at the ends of the zippers.

Do you have a helpful hint for sewing zippers? I could sure use your advice for next time.

A Remember Wren Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Christmas decorations are packed away, giving our house a temporarily uncluttered look and I feel inspired to get rid of all our junk (wondering what to do in January when it’s cold outside? Uh, get organized, that’s what). I actually started some organizing projects many weeks ago, then I read this fantastic book that I’m dying to recommend to you, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I’m seriously wishing I had read this before I started some of my organizing projects and I hope you read it before you start yours. It will change your outlook, I swear!

black and white closet

First of all, the book will inspire you because Marie Kondo’s advice is so simple in it’s approach. There is absolutely no wishy-washy mumbo jumbo on how you have to understand what kind of organizer you are, what organizing method works best, or determine the flow patterns of your house. She will not recommend that you go to The Container Store and spend hundreds of dollars or develop new filing and organizing systems. It all comes down to this:

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”

Think on that for a second. A place for everything and everything in it’s place. It’s so simple, toddlers can do it at daycare.

Kondo doesn’t think highly of the incremental decluttering a bit every day approach. She insists on a massive sort, something like you’d see on that TLC show from way back, Clean Sweep. You’re likely to have more success if you can see massive results right off the bat that will help you stay motivated as you progress to more difficult items to sort like personal memorabilia. She suggests that you look at everything like it needs to go, it’s headed to the dump or Goodwill, and you handle each item and decide if it deserves to be kept because you actually use it or love it because it brings you joy. If you decide to keep it, you decide where to keep it right then. So, if you are going to clean out your closet, you take every single item out and gather up all the other clothing items from around your house, then consider each item individually to see if it is a keeper.

black and white shoes

Some of the best advice in the book is to not sort by area of your house, but by category of item. Like items should be sorted together and stored together. Reading that, you might say, “no duh!” but when I look at my house, there are a total of five different places any family member’s shoes could be at any given time. No wonder it takes us extra time to get out the door. This idea also helps you to see how much of a certain item you have and keeps you from acquiring the same thing over and over again (you would not believe how many screw driver sets we have).

Her advice for people like me, who live with packrats who have no desire to tidy up, is to keep sorting your own items and lead by example. I’m skeptical on this point, but maybe my family will come around when the realize I always know where my stuff is while they can’t find anything they want.

You get the gist of her philosophy with what I already shared, but I also have to mention the following tidbits, which just struck a chord with me:

  • Storage experts are hoarders
  • Save difficult items until last
  • Discard all of your paperwork

Mind blowing, right? “Storage experts are hoarders!” Well of course they are! They know every container you should keep things in and where to find it, the little addicts! “Save difficult items until last” seems like excellent advice but my intuition is to do the hard stuff first. From Kondo’s point of view though, I see my mistake. Organizing is a big decision making exercise. You’ll get better at making decisions the more you practice, so best to get lots of experience before tackling that difficult box of childhood memories. I’m still having a hard time with the “discard all of your paperwork” notion. I’m an expert at creating “what-if” scenarios, so I have every credit card statement and phone bill from the last seven years. Really, I know I can get that information online if I need it and for the most part I haven’t needed any of it at all, ever.

Gosh, that just scratches the surface of this book, so I hope you’ll take the time to read it before you tackle your organizing projects. I found Kondo’s approach to be very enlightening. The book is translated from Japanese and Kondo refers frequently to all the bags of garbage she has hauled out of clients’ homes. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that things were properly disposed of, whether donated or recycled. Ugh, where to take everything you discard is another matter isn’t it?

So what is up first on your organizing to do list? Read this book, hopefully, and then remember, not room by room, but category by category. Good luck!

Christmas Treasures

Wow, Thanksgiving flew by and now we’re already two weeks from Christmas! All I’ve managed to accomplish is put up our two Christmas trees and hang our new wreath on the front door. I should be working on Christmas dining table arrangements and something for our mantel, but while I’m still thinking about that, I thought I’d share with you my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. They are hand-carved wood ornaments made by my dad.

santa collage

I love, love, love the Santa stuck in the chimney. I think it’s such a clever detail to have his face at the bottom of the ornament. I also have several Santa faces whittled on cut branches. Santa snoozing on the crescent moon is adorable. I put all of these handmade ornaments on our old small tree. The tree itself looks a little Charlie Brown, but it’s made extra special by these ornaments.

Three Santas

My other Christmas treasures are three Santa figurines, also carved by my dad. I have to say my favorite is the one in the middle because of how my dad followed the natural shape of the wood to make it. I’m not sure where he came up with the idea to insert a golf ball into a Santa carving, but he did really enjoy golf and would even carve ornaments out of old golf balls.

I’m sure I’ll change the color scheme or theme of our Christmas decorations several times over my lifetime, but these pieces handcrafted by my dad will always be at the center of my holiday décor. What treasured pieces do you bring out year after year?