Cowan home decor DIY tips in Nest issue of SevenDaysVermont

 The editor of Vermont's premiere weekly newspaper, SevenDaysVt, follows me on Pinterest, and decided that a feature about my DIY home tips would be of interest to the paper's readers. This is from their quarterly special insert on homes, Nest. 

Regular readers of this blog will find some of these images familiar. I've posted them here on the blog, as well as on Pinterest and Flickr.

Liza Cowan Home DIY tips, decorating on a budget, coordinating patterns, wooden crates for home decor, make curtains with binder clips
Home Eclectic Home, Liza Cowan DIY home decor tips

Read the online version here.



HOME: Making curtains the easy way

 I love curtains.  I'm lazy and frugal, and I don't have a sewing machine. And I like to change my curtains seasonally. I've never let any of these things stop me. 

In the winter, I like to feel cozy and warm. In the summer, I like my curtains to be light and breezy. 

Orange dupioni silk curtains. pug in window. painting by liza cowan. photo ©liza cowan 2015

Making curtains is easy, though, at least for me. My method: 

Find fabric you love. I shop around in local stores and online. There's always something gorgeous on sale. 

Measure the inside height of your window. My method takes twice the length of the window. Fabric usually should be wider than the window for gathering, or the same width for a tailored modern look. 

Place a tension rod inside the window frame.

Drape fabric over rod until the bottoms meet. 

Use two tiny binder clips or small safety pins at the very top sides, just under the rod. Sometimes you will find you need to use tiny safety pins along the side. 

That's it. And you haven't cut much fabric, so you can use it for other projects when you change your curtains. 

If you hate a ragged bottom edge (I don't) you can make a hem using liquid fabric. Super easy to do. 

Pink Seersucker Curtains Liza cowan photo

I love to use clothing fabric for curtains. For summer, I'm using seersucker in my living room. 


Blue seersucker curtains. Painting on mirror by Liza Picasso aka Liza Cowan. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2015

I found this very cheerful plaid fabric for my daughter's room. It's from Waverly. Found on sale, of course. 

Summer plaid curtains. Photo ©Liza Cowan 2015

 You can do it, too! Now you know how. 

Easy no-sew curtains as seen on seesaw


Home projects: wooden crate wall, and pink seersucker curtains.

Screened in porch, white curtains, wicker chair, tin dollhouse, wooden crates, may 2015. photo ©Liza Cowan

The screened porch was a deal maker for me when I bought my house. At first, my plan was to build a half-wall around the room, but then I had the brainstorm of modular wall building with wooden boxes. The old owner had left a small cache in the barn, and I had my own collections, so I decided to stack them at one end, and to use some as a small "wall" on the outer deck. That's all I need. And in the Winter, they will go back to the barn because the porch fills with snow. 

My other grand idea was to put in white curtains for beauty, shade, and privacy. I had basic white curtains and tension rods on hand from an earlier project, so that was easy. A cheap and quick project, also removable for the winter months. 

Tin Marx dollhouse from my collections. 

Pink Seersucker Curtains. Lamp by Kileh Friedman. photo © Liza cowan photo

Joanne's Fabrics had seersucker on sale at 50% yesterday so I scooped up 8 yards of pink and white stripe. I love using dressmaking fabric for curtains. My curtain making technique: cut the material to twice the height of the window. Drape over tension rod on inside of window frame. Secure at the top with binder clips or safety pin. If you want to get really fancy, you can hem them. I usually don't, but if I decide to, liquid seam glue works just fine. 

Lamp by Kileh Friedman,  Burlington, VT. Shade from The Lamp Shop, Burlington, VT.

DIY: Hang curtains with colorful binder clips

You don't have to spend a fortune to hang curtains. Be the first on your block to bring Office Supply Chic to your home. All you need is push pins or nails to secure small binder clips to the top of your window.  It's best if your fabric is wider than the window. Gather it to make small drapes along the top. Experiment. So easy to change. 

©Liza Cowan using binder clips to hang curtains
Office Supply Chic. Window curtains using binder clips.

Use a second set of binder clips to tie back the curtains. You can drape them, as above, or bunch them, or whatever you like. I've used very sheer white fabric here for summer. But come Winter...I've got some very nice flannel buffalo plaid fabric to use. Wait and see. 

Meanwhile, get binding!

Tabletop cord wrangler DIY

Cord wrangler ©Liza Cowan
De-clutter your table top with an easy DIY cord wrangler,


I couldn't stand all the cords and cables sitting on my table...chargers for my iPhone, tablet, computer and speaker. So I found a nice old cardboard box I had put away, and made it into a cord wrangler. It's an easy DIY to help de-clutter. 

I cut a rectangular hole on the bottom of the end-side, just big enough to insert the surge protector/extension cord. Make sure your box is long enough. 

Then I cut enough holes for three of the cords that I need on the side, the iPhone, the tablet and the computer. Then I cut a hole on the top for the speaker-charger, because I keep the little speaker on top. 

The holes only have to be big enough for the ends to go through, not the plugs. 

Yes, it would have been neater if I'd had a little drill or a good little saw. But I didn't, so I used a scissors and a kitchen knife. Good enough. 

Time to make it: 15 minutes, once I'd found the box. 


HOW TO: cheap and easy way to organize small cables for mobile devices and games.

Organizing: a chore and a fascination. I've searched high and low for an easy way to orgainize an ever-growing collections cables and accessories for all those phones, players and games that can accumulate. My kids and I were always misplacing ours, so I had to figure out a way to keep track.  


Easy way to hang small cables and chargers with binder clips
Organize small cables and chargers with binder clips

So far, this is my favorite. It's cheap, easy and quick. The only thing you'll need is a bunch of binder clips, available at stationery stores, and they come in an assortment of sizes and colors. 


How To Make Ginger Lemon Honey Tea

I love ginger tea with a real kick, and have been experimenting with making it for a while. All the ingredients I use are not only delicious but very good for your health. Here's my recipe. 


Ingredients ginger lemon tea ©Liza Cowan
Ingredients for ginger honey lemon tea


water: about a gallon 

one whole fresh ginger

two lemons

4 tablespoons organic honey

dash of cayenne pepper



pot to boil water



container for finished brew



Fresh ginger for ginger tea ©Liza Cowan
fresh ginger



Grater for ginger lemon tea ©Liza Cowan
grater for the ginger

 I use a hand grater. It's what I have. If you have some kind of machine, I'm sure that would be useful. Ginger has a lot of fiber, so grating is not as smooth as grating a carrot, but you can do it. There will be bits you can't grate, so just cut them up.


Grated ginger for ginger lemon tea ©Liza Cowan
grated ginger for tea

 Some recipes ask you to peel the ginger, but I don't know why. You're not going to eat the pulp.


Water in pot for ginger lemon tea ©Liza Cowan
fill pot with water

 I use about a gallon of water. I usually measure by filling my carafe first then dump that into the pot.

Dump grated ginger into the pot and boil until it bubbles. Then let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut two lemons in half.


Cut lemons for ginger lemon tea ©Liza Cowan
cut two lemons


Strain ginger for tea ©Liza Cowan
strain boiled water and ginger

 I strain directly into the carafe, but you don't have to. But DO strain it.


Lemon squeeze for ginger lemon tea ©liza cowan
squeeze lemons

Squeeze and strain the lemons. I squeeze/strain directly into the carafe, but you don't have to. But DO strain them.


Honey for ginger tea ©Liza Cowan
Add honey

Raw organic honey has healing properties. I get the best quality I can find. You don't have to, but DO make sure you use raw honey if you can.


Cayenne pepper for ginger tea ©Liza Cowan
cayenne pepper

I add about three modest shakes from a jar of cayenne pepper to the brew. I guess you could call it a pinch. This adds extra kick, and cayenne pepper is good for you. This step is optional and depends on your taste. Try it with and without, vary the amounts by trial and error, and decide which way you prefer it.


Stir ginger lemon tea ©Liza cowan

The honey and lemon bits will obey the laws of gravity, so give it a good stir. I use a long handled wooden spoon, but it doesn't really matter. I use it because it reaches the bottom of my carafe.


Enjoy ginger lemon tea ©Liza cowan
Enjoy your ginger honey lemon tea.

I like to drink ginger lemon tea hot in the winter and over ice in the summer. Hot, it is soothing and warming. Over ice, it is very refreshing. 

For storage, I simply put the whole carafe in the refrigerator, and pour myself a cup when I want. Make sure to stir it up again every time you pour some because the laws of gravity still apply. I admit, I heat mine in a cup in the microwave. 

I can't tell you how long it will last in the fridge because I drink it so frequently that I go through the gallon in a day or two. This brew is delicious and more that that, I think it's really healthful. 

Let me know what you think!