Thursday, December 29, 2011

Redecorating, a pouf pattern, and two new totes

Hard to believe it is almost the end of the year...and the end of the holiday break for me...
Well, I have been quite busy in the studio in the last week or so: new furniture, new room design, new bags, in other words, a very dynamic end to 2011!
First the re-decorating: after a very fruitful trip to Ikea in Denver last week, I have re-designed my creative space downstairs. Gone are the Home Depot plastic shelves and the queen size futon. I now have a new cutting table, a wonderfully soft and cozy armchair, a wooden step stool (very useful as a side table for coffee cups and wine glasses ...), and two tall bookcases to store my fabric. My space feels so much more organized and brighter than ever before.
Joe installed a shelf and a 2'x4' peg board above the cutting table; great to store shipping supplies, tools and other necessities. Another shelf is coming, above the sewing table this time.
In between filling orders and working on two new leather bag designs, I made a pouf (ottoman) to go with my new chair. I found a pattern online here:
The pattern was great and very easy to follow. Here is the result:

The hardest part was to decide which fabric to use for the project. I finally decided on a simple navy canvas to compliment Amy Butler's Bali Gates. I just love the end result.
I used  a kitchen trash bag full of fabric scraps, five old sweatshirts, and three old pillows to fill the pouf. I thought I would never be done. It is HUGE, but oh so comfortable...
  Here is a picture of the pouf with my new favorite armchair:
The sewing room is not quite ready to be photographed. I really want it to be just so before I take pictures. I do expect it to be ready by the end of next week. Be prepared to be amazed :)
I have been "playing" with a couple of leather pieces this week and I came up with two tote bag designs for Zakken on Etsy: a gorgeous black leather tote with a very cute and unique denim and leather detachable zippered pouch, and a simple but elegant vanilla leather bag.

I just listed both on Etsy. Take a look and let me know what you think.
Take care,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy times...

Life has been very busy on the home front. I have made and sold a bunch of waxed canvas totes, that is until I ran out of waxed canvas- so sad. Poor planning on my part, I guess. I never thought the tote would be so popular. I am expecting a waxed canvas delivery tonight- YAY! I did make the time to sew a very cute iPad messenger in waxed canvas.

I also have plenty of ideas for a large piece of vanilla leather I bought last week.
It's going to be so nice to be home for the next two weeks...
On the agenda today: a visit to Ikea in Denver. I have decided to reorganize my sewing room. This will involve removing the futon and replacing it with a comfy chair, adding a cutting table, and maybe replacing the plastic shelves with white matching bookshelves.
I have been mulling over the idea of re-organizing/re-decorating the studio for a couple of weeks now, but coming upon the Ikea catalog on Saturday morning clinched the deal. I actually was up between 2 and 4 am yesterday searching for sewing room ideas.... sheeeshhh..... Good thing I did not have to go to work...
I will post pictures when the redec is done. If I feel very brave, I will post before AND after pictures - it's the before pictures that will be scary :)
Have a fabulous Monday!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New in the shop: Leather!

I have been toying with the idea of making leather bags for quite some time now. Nothing complicated, totes and clutches that are simple, but stylish and elegant. I came upon a couple of pieces of leather that I couldn't pass up: one half-hide in the  softest, most luxurious black leather I have ever seen, eco-friendly too (came from South American cattle that were NOT raised anywhere near the rain forest, and the hides were processed using only natural extracts and oils, no metals in there- yay!). The other piece of leather is  a gorgeous brown, oil tanned leather that feels like silk.
So after a couple of hours in the studio, I came up with a couple of clutches. I think I am in love. Tell me what you think:

Maybe it was the turkey, maybe it was the whole week at home, but the creative juices were flowing; I also made another waxed canvas tote, in graphite gray with black leather this time- I really like it :)

All three pieces are available on as well as
Have a wonderful week!
Take care,

Friday, November 25, 2011

New in the shop: the Waxed Canvas Tote and Thanksgiving Sale on Bag du Jour

I love the day after Thanksgiving, don't you? After a few days of frantic cooking, cleaning, and entertaining, I can finally relax a bit; there is plenty of food in the refrigerator, so I won't have to cook until possibly Sunday!
I woke up early on Wednesday morning with an idea for a new waxed canvas bag: a tote big enough to carry my laptop, textbook, files and other teaching devices around school. So, I spent pretty much all day running between the kitchen and the studio, cooking a little, sewing a little, and by dinner time, I had completed my new beautiful waxed canvas and leather tote. Here are some pictures:

I love the waxed canvas-leather combination, and the detachable leather strap! Check out the bag on Zakken. I am thinking it would look great in gray canvas with black leather too!

On another topic, I am having a 10% sale on all in stock items at Bag du Jour (
Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Still looking for a great cranberry sauce recipe?

I've got you covered!
This is- in my opinion- the best homemade cranberry sauce you can make. I adapted it from a "Silver Palate Cookbook" recipe. This cranberry compote has it all: it is tart and sweet, chewy and crunchy, delish.....
You will need:
- 1 lb cranberries, rinsed
- 1/2 cup small raisins
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 organic orange, chopped
- 1 cup chopped walnuts

Main ingredients, missing walnuts
Place all ingredients except walnuts in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 mn. Remove from heat and stir in walnuts. Transfer to your best cut glass compote dish and refrigerate.
This compote is delicious with turkey and roast pork. At my house, we love to include it in a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, along with stuffing and gravy. It is heavenly on a slice of toasted homemade sourdough bread.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reflection on Craft Fairs

As you know from my previous posting, I recently participated in two craft fairs: one in Denver last weekend, and one in Colorado Springs last Friday. I met a lot of nice people there, notably Stephen and Brian, soap makers extraordinaire (, Moni (a chalkware artist:, Jen, and Kristen ( I also received a lot of compliments on my bags- always good for the soul.
On the other hand, both fairs were a financial disaster. I barely sold enough bags to cover the entry fees - that is not counting time spent there, cost of material, mileage, supplies, oh my...
I am a bit disappointed, but this was overall a good experience, if only to make me realize that craft fairs are not really my thing.
Studio news: I am working on a gigantic duffle/travel bag in natural canvas and olive linen with leather handles. It should be read to post this week.
I have a bunch of pictures to take today - mostly wine totes and a couple of Japanese inspired totes. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and I will be able to take the pictures outdoors.
I will post again very soon.
Take care,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Craft shows in Denver and Colorado Springs

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I have posted...
My excuse is that I have been busy with work and sewing :) Lame but true...
Next weekend, November 11-12, I will be participating in my first EVER craft show. It will take place at the Grant-Humphries Mansion in Denver. I am sooooo excited!!!!!!!!! I have been sewing up a storm, and my husband has been helping me a TON figuring out displays and lighting and logistics...(thanks J!)
My whole display is set up in the basement right now with tape on the floor -to figure out the space- and bags hanging, and tables set up and everything :) Mmm, I realized that I really could not display every bag I have in stock right now- and I TRIED :)
Joe made two six foot high, three-sided towers out of shelving (from Home Depot) with a five foot length of shelving in between, to use as a display counter. There will be two tables at either end of this main display. I will definitely take pictures next weekend.
Here is the link to the show's blog:
On November 18, I will be doing another really fun, low-key show at Phelan's Garden Center in Colorado Springs from 4 to 8. This one is for ladies mostly , with prizes, wine and cheese, pampering stations, and an opportunity to do some holiday shopping. The link for this show is:
I will post pictures as well after the 18th.

In the meantime,  here are some pictures of my new items.

Check out the new items in my Etsy shops- Zakken at or Bag du Jour ( or on Bag du Jour @ Cargoh.
Have a wonderful week.
Take care,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dreaming of a White...Halloween????

Fall was showing the tip of its nose in Colorado... Leaves turning gold, sunny days, a bit of a chill in the air...
And without warning...

This is what we woke up to this morning...barely two weeks into Fall...
Better dust off my snow shoes...
Stay warm!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Making shoes

On Saturday, as my creativity was being seriously challenged and not liking it a bit, I decided to take a break from bag making. Mmmm, let's see. What could I get myself into.... Yes, got it!!!!
Several months ago,  I purchased a shoe pattern from Cheri  @ Shoeology on Etsy, so I decided to finally try one of the patterns and make a pair of house shoes. Perfect!
I selected the Upcycled Vintage Shoe pattern. I had a couple of pieces of  gray wool from an old pair of pants and some plaid flannel. With the weather getting a bit on the chilly side (at 7000 feet, fall settles in quickly), I wanted a pair of very cozy slippers.
Cheri's patterns are wonderful: well designed, great step-by-step directions, pictures, etc...
It took me less than two hours to make a pair of adorable slippers.
Here is the result:
Another view:
I finished the strap with a pair of star shaped mother-of-pearl buttons.
I can't wait to make another pair: I have just the dark navy plaid wool that will make another great pair of house shoes!

PS: A nice break from making bags was just what I needed. I went back to my original project (the bag's closure) and here it is:
The recycled army canvas satchel
This is the newest Satchel in my Zakken shop. The bag turned out even better than I imagined. Note the little star I stitched around a tear on the right. Click on the link to see more pictures of the bag.

Take care,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New in the shop: waxed canvas bags

I received a shipment of waxed canvas at the end of last week, and I spent the weekend designing a couple of bags. I just love working with waxed canvas: it is easy to cut, easy to sew and looks like aged leather when you're done. My first project, the Commuter in Tan.

My second project is the City Tote in charcoal wool and gray waxed canvas. Just the bag I need for the Fall!

I love the look and feel of waxed canvas. Every little mark makes each bag very unique, and even though waxed canvas is soft to the touch, it is a very tough fabric. More waxed canvas in my shop very soon!
Check out the bags at:

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The New Tote on Zakken

A few weeks ago I came upon a vintage military duffle bag. Envisioning the possibilities, I grabbed it! I first wanted to create a messenger, but soon realized that I would not have enough fabric to make the messenger I wanted. So the duffle became a tote. The tote was a lot of fun to make. The design is clean and simple, but it incorporates many of the detailing of the original bag. For the handles, I used an upcycled leather belt in a lovely shade of chestnut brown. Very eco-friendly!
The front of the Tote

The Tote and the Model 

The back

The bag is available at my Zakken shop on Etsy. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Take care,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Laundry Day

Back in the old days, Monday was laundry day. I suppose people wanted to start the week off with clean clothes. Well, this is the 21st century, it's Monday and I have piles of laundry to do. So, let's get started.
I have a wonderful front loading washer and its matching dryer. But today, I am going to go green and not use the dryer. In my neighborhood, hanging out the wash is not very well looked upon, it's only tolerated, as long as there is no permanent structure in the backyard, like a clothesline - Heavens forbid!
So when I want to dry my laundry outside, I tie a clothesline from tree, to stairs, to deck, and when I am finished, I just take it down.
I love to see my organic cotton sheets billowing in the breeze
Today the weather was perfect, sunny and a little breezy. I did three loads of wash - using Ecos with lavender- and hung everything outside.  There is something so satisfying in watching bedsheets flutter in the wind. I always feel that my laundry is cleaner and  safer for having been out in the sunshine for a couple of hours. And the wonderful smell....Mmmm...

I always pick an inconspicuous corner to hang laundry, so the neighbors won't get upset. Here we are surronded by scrub oak.

By not using my dryer today, I saved more than four hours of electric energy. I have no idea how that translates into dollars (pennies no doubt), but one thing is for sure, today I felt that I did something good for the Earth, and THAT is priceless.

Simple wooden clothespin

Thank you for reading.
Take care.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


When the temperature rises, I love to make refreshing tabouleh with organic summer produce. My own version of tabouleh will serve 12.
You will need:
- One 12 oz. box of Organic Whole Wheat Couscous
- Three medium to large ripe tomatoes
- One large cucumber
- One large red pepper
- One large sweet onion
- Three lemons
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup raisins, softened (optional)

Wash and dry the tomatoes, the red pepper and the mint. Peel the cucumber and onion.
Chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, and onion. Place in large bowl.
Juice the lemons. Add juice to chopped vegetables along with the salt.
Let sit for about 45 mn in the refrigerator. The vegetables will render some of their juice. DO NOT DRAIN. Add olive oil and chopped mint  to vegetable mixture and stir well.
Add couscous and mix until combined. Add raisins if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.
The couscous will absorb the moisture from the vegetables, so there is no need to cook it first. After two hours taste the couscous to make sure it is soft enough. If not, add 1/2 to 1 cup of water to the mixture.
I love the sweet chewy addition of raisins to counterbalance the tartness of the dish, but not everyone in my family shares my point of view, so I add raisins to my own plate.

I just made this recipe a few days ago and I thought I would share it since it is so easy to make as well as healthy and delicious! Now back to the studio where a bunch of iPad sleeves await :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Messengers and Hobos

So I haven't been totally idle these last couple of weeks. I have been spending a lot of time in my little sewing studio. Being away for a month, I was getting itchy to get back into designing and sewing.
Here are the newest bags on Zakken: two iPad Messengers:

The iPad Messenger in Charcoal Wool

The iPad Messenger in Khaki Twill


 I also worked on a few Flea Market Hobos for Bag du Jour:

Flea Market Hobo with Flap and Button
Flea Market Hobo in Brown and White

I finished two more Flea Market Hobos, but a rain storm interrupted my photo session. I will try again today.
Check out the messengers at and the Hobos at and tell me what you think.
Take care.

It's already August...

Hard to believe... Summer went so fast...
After a not-so-relaxing vacation in my hometown, I am back and gearing up for the school year. After being away for a while from the hustle and bustle of my life here, I always come up with the best decisions: take it easy, take better care of yourself, life is not just about work, yada, yada, yada...So, this year being no exception, after reading an old article about detoxing while waiting for my mom at her PT's office this past July, I checked out a couple of books on the subject at the local library: Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D., 3-Day Cleanse by Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss, Clean Food  by Terry Walters, and The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose.
Clean explains in much detail the cause and effect of toxins in the human body - scary! Junger also describes his own experience as an overweight, depressed, overwrought doctor, and his solution to regain his health. Very interesting read!
The other books describe the detoxing process and propose a plethora of recipes for juices as well as full meals- the clean way.
One of the necessary tools for these cleanses is a juicer. After doing some research online, I ordered a Breville Compact Juicer from Best Buy. As soon as I brought it home, I had to try it. This juicer is a fabulous little machine! It is very easy to use, makes juice in a jiffy, and is very easy to clean. My first juice was one organic apple and one organic carrot. Just delicious! The resulting pulp is bone dry and ready for the compost pile. When Julie came home, we made another juice with again an apple, a carrot, and some thawed blueberries she did not finish for lunch. The resulting juice was very tasty, but the blueberries were very soft and some of them ended up whole in the pulp collector. Fresh or still frozen fruit is probably best.
I am ready to go on to the "green" juices, with vegetables. More on that later...
Take care.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I have a scooter!!!!!!!!!

Oh, this is so cool! I got a scooter for a Mother's Day/birthday combo present. I am soooo excited!
It's a Piaggio Fly, 150 cc. It's very, very cute, light gray and black.
I use it to go to school- where I teach-, to the post office, to the supermarket, it's just glorious!
The ride is very comfortable, and the scooter is pretty stable- except in high winds...I won't do that again :(
What I like about the scooter is that it's very cost efficient: about 65 miles per gallon; of course, the gas tank only holds 1 1/2 gallons, sooooo don't go too far away from a gas pump :)
There is a compartment under the seat, large enough for a purse and a few other items, however, this is no place for pets (see sign).

I had to laugh when I saw that. On second thought, I wouldn't carry ice cream in there either, the compartment being right above the engine...
Another thing I like about riding a scooter (as opposed to a motorcycle) is that I can get dressed up to go to work- in my Banana Republic suit, for example-, throw on a zippered jacket- it's cold at 6:45 am-, and wear high heeled dress shoes. I carry my work stuff (laptop and books) in a messenger bag from my shop (Bag du Jour on Etsy), and when I get to work, I  am ready to go- no need to carry a change of clothes.

Here is my latest favorite messenger bag- yes, in gray to match the scooter... :)

I ALWAYS wear a helmet, even though it is not required in my state, and a pair of gloves- if you've ever been hit by a large insect at 45 mph, you'll understand why...
All in all, I just love my scooter.
Thanks for reading~

Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Etsy Shop and promo

OK, you probably will think I am crazy, but I just opened another shop on Etsy. My new shop is called Zakken ( I sell  messengers and market totes in (mostly) eco friendly fabrics. I decided to go with simple designs in solid colors that go with everything and are suitable for men and women. Well...maybe NOT the Market Totes...for guys that is...
Anyway, check it out and leave me a convo to let me know what you think. As a promo, the first three people who leave me a convo on Zakken will receive a 20% discount on any Zakken  or Bag du Jour ( bag. I will post the winners' name on this blog.
Here is a sampling of my new bags... 

 Take care.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My first bag from "The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam"

I FINALLY received The Bag Making Bible that I ordered back in October. It's a long story... Anyway, I really like this book. You can make eight different bags with many variations. I love the explanations that go with each pattern: insert a zipper, make piped handles, darts, gussets, etc... This is information I could have gleaned from the Internet, but is great to have in one place!
After perusing the book for a few days, I decided to jump straight to the Great Getaway Bag (section 6). I made a "prototype" out of cheap cotton to gauge the size of the bag (finished bag dimensions are not included in the directions). Wow, it's huge! Love it!
So I looked for possible fabric combinations in my stash and this is what I came up with:

The pink and green home decoration weight fabric is for the exterior, the green canvas is the lining.
The pattern pieces are full size and very easy to handle. I first traced them onto wax paper, and then onto posterboard- it lasts longer and is easier to trace around.
Of course, I had to alter the design a bit: I did not like the handles as they were described in the book, so I made two 1 1/2" wide handles long enough to wear over the shoulder. I also modified the closure on the front pocket and added a double pocket in the back.
With Lisa's great explanations and tips, the zipper top was a BREEZE to put together - and it looks least  I think so :)
I haven't put the lining together yet, but it shouldn't be too hard.
Here are some more pictures:
The front
The front pocket

The back
Oh, and did I mention that I am making this bag for my best friend? It's a surprise :)
I can't wait to see her face when I give her the bag.
I have other fabric combination ideas that I can't wait to try for this pattern. I will try to post one in my Etsy shop within the next two weeks. Check it out at
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think of the bag...