Monday, January 31, 2011

entourage weekend

Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, we got to try out Steve's soccer ball for the first time since he received it at Christmas. 

Taking advantage of the fact that we have one extra set of hands here, we have completed every household project on our list for 2011.  Okay, not quite, but we have sure gotten a lot done.  Our activities have included, but not been limited to: installing a dimmer switch, hanging lots of things on the walls, putting new numbers on the house, and raking leaves.  

I have been feeding the crew delicious meals, so it's not exactly slave labor. 

As I was trying on clothes on Saturday, the saleswoman referred to Steve and Cameron as my "entourage", so I suppose that makes it "entourage labor".  Nothing wrong with that.

This growing collection of silver frames is still hanging out, waiting to be arranged.  In the spirit of the January mantle and new mirror, we are attempting a large wall display of silver items.  I'm pretty excited about it.  

For some reason, having Cameron here gives us a real boldness when it comes to home decor.  We have had several mostly blank walls in our bedroom for three years, but last night was the end of that trend.  In the spirit of Pottery Barn, we hung things in unusual places and even put a hat on the wall.  Cam's suggestions for hat hanging were not super helpful though, as she did not understand that I also intend to wear the hat.  If only I could wear more home decor items, we'd probably have a lot more space.  

Tomorrow we are having sisters birthday shopping extravaganza, and then pork tenderloin and pound cake.  What a way to ring in February!    And, speaking of February (good grief, where did January go?!), later this week I will be posting some tips and ideas for Valentine's day fun. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

two cups of tea

 One of my greatest joys in recent months is a very simple thing: I learned to like tea. 

I have always wanted to like tea.  My family likes tea.  My friends like tea.  My husband is half British, for goodness sake. 

Throughout the years, I have been willing to give tea a "redo" on numerous occasions.  Maybe I'll like it this time,I would hope in my heart.  And then finally, one day, I did. 

 Yesterday, I even drank two cups of tea.  And I took pictures of both of them, because I was just so pleased with myself.  I have even started using the real tea cups instead of mugs, which definitely bumps the experience up a notch. 

My current favorites are Bigelow Mint Medley and Celestial Seasonings Sweet Coconut Thai.  After having a cup of each yesterday, I was reminded of one of our favorite books, "Three Cups of Tea".  If you haven't read it, don't wait any longer.  It is Life Changing.  And I won't ruin the story for you, since you'll be reading it soon, but the title of the book comes from this quote about the people of Pakistan:

"With the first cup of tea you are a stranger.  With the second... a friend.  With the third cup of tea, you are family."

 Between all the tea yesterday, I was working on my new sewing space.  I have set up shop in our living room for quite a while now because I wanted to be in the thick of things while I was sewing, not cooped up in a room upstairs.  However, when it's January and when your upstairs is a good ten degrees warmer than your downstairs, being cooped up starts to sound downright cozy. 

Also cozy?  Having a day bed right next to my sewing table.  We could see a serious drop in my productivity level this winter. 

I found this amazing fabric bunting by FaSewLa Stitches on Etsy.  I think it would be just the thing to decorate the bare wall above the sewing table. 

Today I am starting on this bag from my new Amy Butler book!  I am so excited to be making something I get to keep!  I'm already dreaming about all the fun things I'll be able to tote around.

Tomorrow will bring my sister with it and I can hardly wait to tote her around for a few days.  I should have some fun pictures to share next week of our time together. 

Hope you're toting something fun this weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

scenes from last week

It has been so gray this week that I don't have any pictures of what I've been doing.  Also, it's been mainly cleaning the house and organizing closets and there's nothing terribly pretty about all that. 

But I do have some nice pictures from last week's projects that I wanted to share. 

Like this classy wristlet.  It's the same style as this wristlet, but has such a different look and feel.  I love it!  The black and white canvas, chosen by a classy friend, gives it a large amount of impact for such a small bag.  And do you want to see my favorite part?

 That lime green lining is like biting into a chocolate truffle and finding a raspberry center.  The perfect surprise. 

I've already started making another one to post in the shop, so there will be more pictures to come!

These napkins are a wedding gift, matched exactly to the recipient's registry.  I love matching gifts to registry items and think it must be such a fun surprise to receive something in colors you love (because you registered for them), but that is a total surprise.  The best of both worlds, if you ask me.  Let's put the fun back in gift registries, shall we? 

Also, I don't think I mentioned that, due to weather and other variables, Sunday's photo shoot ended up being in the exotic location of.... our bedroom.  Here's a shot of my favorite photographer, hard at work.  Our bedroom has the best lighting of any room in the house, so it is often used for photos.  It was pretty crowded with both of us milling about in there with our cameras in hand, trying to get good shots.  But crowded in a fun way, like dorm living or having 10 people at an 8 person table for a holiday meal. 

Tomorrow I'll be back with some shots of my new sewing station and maybe a soup recipe, for good measure.  This week's soup is potato leek and it is really hitting the spot on these rainy days. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Stuff

Can you believe it?  The day is finally here.  I'm pumped. 

I am so pleased to introduce.... Love Stuff: bags, gifts, and accessories that will spread your love.  I have spent so much time with these projects over the past several weeks that each one has started to feel like an old friend.  I'm going to take some time today to introduce you to each of them and share a bit of my process and motivation for each design.  And if that sounds totally boring to you, just come back tomorrow when I'll probably be blogging about soup again

Let's start with the love tote.  Now I know that most of us have probably jumped on the reusable shopping bags bandwagon.  I'm all about those bags.  I have a whole stack that sits by the back door and comes with me to the grocery store on Thursdays.  But what about when I run into Target to get some shampoo, toothpaste, and a tank top?  What about when I'm at the library and have a big slidey stack of books to carry to my car?  What about when I stop by Michael's for some more embroidery floss?  What then, I ask you? 

Maybe you're more together than I am.  Maybe you keep your bags in the car (I switch cars, so this doesn't work) or maybe you just always remember.  But I got to thinking- wouldn't it be nice to have a bag that rolled up real small like in my purse?  It would always be there when I needed it and I could stop using plastic bags once and for all! 

So I designed the love tote.  It is made from the most buttery soft red linen and is truly a joy just to hold.  I stitched the word "love" across the front because as soon as I saw that linen, I knew that it needed bright white stitches running across it.  I could just tell. 

Now that I have the tote though, I can't quite bring myself to roll it up in my purse.  I put my knitting supplies in it, just to see, and have been moving them around the house with me.  It's quite nice, really. 

Next up: the heartbreaker scarf.  This has the same construction as the night garden scarf (that sold out) and the slow dance scarf (one left in the shop!).  It's silky.  It's bright and cheerful.  It's a good thing I made more than one.  I am totally enamored by these silky scarves and am going to shop for some more prints to offer in the shop next month!

The workhorse of the group: dish towels.  Because practical things should be beautiful too, right?  I love this sturdy woven cotton toweling and I love how the simple letters and heart shapes look stitched on it.  I think these would make great gifts, wrapped around something tasty or with a nice set of wooden spoons. 

This little heart pocket was invented on a snow day as I tried to imagine how I would like to receive a Valentine's day treat.  What could be sweeter than a stuffed heart with a pocket for gifts?  I designed the pocket to fit a gift card, jewelry, or a small bit of candy, but the possibilities are really endless.  And I think it would be equally delightful to both adults and children.  I would like to surprise someone by leaving it on the breakfast table for them to find on Valentine's day.  However, as Steve has been looking at all these projects for weeks now, I may have to leave the breakfast surprise up to you.  I think he'd recognize it. 

And last, but certainly not least- the zipper pouches.  Can you ever have enough?  I think we all know the answer to that one. 

I wanted to make a set of two pouches with complimentary fabrics because I am thinking of most of these items as gifts.  I also really wanted to make a long skinny pencil pouch, but thought it needed a larger friend by its side.  Upon creating the pencil pouch, I got out my colored pencils and then felt so inspired that I think we may have another art night soon.  Watercolor night was so much fun

If you want to see more pictures, head over to the shop.  Yesterday's photo shoot was lots of fun and I think we got some great shots! 

Wishing you a lovely day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

a Sunday visit

Here is one more peek to hold you over until tomorrow's big reveal

I am just popping in real quick to let you know that I am going on a Sunday visit.  You know how people used to go "visiting" on Sundays?  Well I'm bringing it back.  And side ponytails.  I think I'm going to bring back side ponytails as well.  But I digress...

Today I am visiting Gussy's blog.  She is doing a series on people who have recently quit their full time jobs to start a handmade business.  And now, something that seemed like a rash, slightly crazy decision, is totally validated because someone is "doing a series" on it.  If it's in a series, it has to be legit, right? 

I came across Gussy back in December and have been constantly impressed with her style, business savvy, and outgoing personality.  It is such a treat to be a part of her blog today and I hope you'll take a minute to stop over and check out the interview.  And if you've ever been curious about how I started doing what I do, all your burning questions will be answered.  Or most of them.

Can't wait to show you all the Valentine's day goodness!

Friday, January 21, 2011

whirlwind day

I intended to post some pictures today of some of the custom orders I've been engrossed in this week, however the day has slipped away from me.  I'm almost out of shipping boxes and packing tape, so you know it's been busy! 

This weekend will be a photo shoot for the Valentine's collection that is debuting on Monday!  I love photo shoots!  Last time we did a big one, we went to Davidson College.  It is such a beautiful campus, it makes me want to go back to school.  Or maybe we could just live there. 

We haven't decided yet where to take pictures this weekend.  The weather will probably help us decide.  I love photo shoots in public places because sometimes Steve takes pictures of me holding bags or wearing scarves and people walk by and stare and I just know they are trying to figure out if I am famous.  That's my favorite part.

I'll meet you back here on Monday for some pink and red fun!  Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Last Saturday we spent the afternoon at the Old Lucketts Store.  It is located in a village by the same name- a village!  How cute is that?!   The store is a combination of antiques, shabby chic, and yard sale.
I really wanted the green wire shelf in the picture above.  I could just imagine all my spools of thread in it. 

If we had a truck, we would have come away with some serious furniture.  Oh, the limits of a sedan!  Since each room was stocked by different vendors, there was a wide variety of prices and some were very reasonable.  And as we are on another mini furniture hunt (that is a hunt for a few pieces of furniture, not a hunt for very small furniture) everything was looking good to me. 
We got some great ideas for repurposing stuff that we currently own.  It was an idea-inspiring kind of place and that is a place worth shopping, in my book. 

I refrained from buying any more silver.  I think we're full up on the glitz for now. 
The one item that I did purchase, a decorative metal hook, is going to be used for some shop photos.  Steve is making a few display boards for me and I plan to anchor it on to one.  That Steve.  He's so handy. 
So.  I've just finished up a few custom orders and now I am back to working on the Valentine's collection.  It has been SO hard not to share more about it as I go and I am super excited about Monday when we will have a tell-all free-for-all. 

Things I'm excited about today: finished projects, The Office, and my new EOS lip balm

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

long weekend

We had a belated Christmas celebration with Steve's family in Virginia this weekend. After being back to normal around here for two weeks, it was fun to see more Christmas lights, open more gifts, and have another feast. I might try to drag the holidays out until spring this year and see how that goes.

One of my favorite thing about Steve's parent's house is all the windows and the great lighting. They can grow so many plants in there and I am so jealous! I have long drooled over this adorable orange tree and plotted how I could grow one in my own house.

The weekend was full of "firsts", which made it especially fun. We took our first trip to Lucketts, which deserves an entire blog post all its own and will probably get one later this week. Let's just say that I could have purchased enough there to fill a giant moving van, but ended up restraining myself to just one metal wall hook. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl.

We went out to a delicous dinner and met Katharine's boyfriend for the first time. It was fun to have someone else at the table with dark hair.

Katharine, who is as crafty as they come, taught us to make these cool origami lotus flowers. This was our first attempt. I think that, given time, we could perfect the art. I love paper flowers and want to make a bunch for decorating and wrapping gifts. Or a garland- wouldn't that be lovely?

We also honed our knitting skills (we've taken a long break since we started learning) and learned to crochet. It is SO much easier to learn from a live person and not a library book! I think that my dream of knitting together on the sofa on a cold January day will be realized after all. Katharine is crocheting a full sized blanket and I was super inspired and want to do one as well. But I think it will have to get in line after my quilt. Which is still just a vision in my mind. So. We'll see about that.

After load upon load of laundry and a quick grocery trip, I think I can finally start sewing for the day. Better late than never.

The best thing about a week where Monday is a holiday? When you get to Friday, it only feels like Thursday and then- SURPRISE!- you're done.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

sneak preview

Above is a picture of my attempt to convince Steve to work from home all week long. Hot cookies and milk at 3:00. I know- underhanded. But what can I say? He's my favorite.

However, while "snow" is apparently an acceptable excuse for working from home, "hot cookies" doesn't seem to have near as much clout.

I've had plenty of projects keeping me company though. I am super excited to be working on my first ever holiday collection (I really wanted those words to have sparkles coming out of them, but bold and pink was the best I could do). I have decided to work up a collection of items in honor of Valentine's Day and debut them in the shop on January 24th.

I have had so much fun working up prototypes this week! I think it really helps that pink is my favorite color.

The collection will have some home decor items, some accessories, and some fun gifts. You could make it easy on your husband and email him a link to the shop. Just saying.

Oh and the hand stitching! Nothing says love quite like hand stitched hearts and letters. I think that people were probably hand stitching hearts and letters long before flowers and chocolate got involved in the holiday. I like to keep it old school.

And don't worry- the items in this collection will be suitable long past February 14th, because do pink and red and cute ever go out of style? I don't think so.

So, January 24th, I will be doing a full blog reveal of all the fun stuff I've been stitching up, as well as posting everything in the shop. There will be hearts and laughter and rejoicing. And cupcakes? Yes, let's have cupcakes as well.

Wishing you a weekend full of hearts and hot cookies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January mantle

I think that every year, one of the biggest post-holiday challenges is to make the house look just as pretty and cozy in January as it did in December. Those are some big shoes to fill. We had a live tree in the house, for goodness sake.

In our house, every season of decorating starts with the mantle. It's the focal point of our main living area. It's in the center of the room. It's a long white display shelf just begging to be gussied up.

The balance I am always trying to find, come January, is how to decorate with winter-appropriate colors and textures, without looking stark and bare. The last thing I need on a dreary day is a stark house. If the weather's not going to make the pretty, I'm going to make the pretty.

So, without further explanation, (because I'm sure you're starting to wonder just how long I can expound on my mantle decorations) I present.....

The January Mantle.
While it doesn't have a lot of color, I think that the silver surfaces and white lights keep it from looking cold. And, in case anyone is still reading this, I'll give you a quick rundown of what is up there and where it's from (if I know):

White Christmas lights (that I couldn't bear to put away) covered with white tulle (Michael's)
Two white magnolia branches (Target)
Various sizes of silver candlesticks and bowls (Ikea and TJ Maxx)
White candles (anywhere)
Silver framed flower picture (Target, long long ago)
Striped fabric covered bulletin board (not sure)

We also scored this lovely silver framed mirror from Ikea last weekend. It was destined for the mantle, but ended up being way too large. So now it is waiting to be properly mounted to the wall, once we finish discussing just how far apart the studs might be. Or until we get out the stud finder.

I usually change my mantle about every other month and it is my plan to share each new design in case anyone needs ideas.

And the snow? Well, it's still here. Now covered by a thin layer of ice. Today I will be heating up the kitchen with beef stew and cornbread and working on some more new shop projects. I'll have a sneak preview on Thursday of what I've been stitching.

I'll meet you back here. Until then- stay warm!

Monday, January 10, 2011

snow day

We woke up to a blanket of white and a phone call from Steve's office saying they were closed. What a great day! Yesterday, Steve filled the bird feeder, so we spent some time this morning enjoying all the visitors.

The snow is still falling and it is lovely. I always say that if it's going to be cold out, it needs to be snowing.

Our snow day breakfast was real hot chocolate and mini bagels with cheesecake cream cheese. Last week I made some mini cheesecakes to take to a friend's house and I had some of the cheesecake mixture left over. As it is just cream cheese, sugar, and sour cream, it is totally safe to enjoy unbaked and we have been eating it on our bagels. It is SO tasty- a lot like the flavored cream cheese at Panera.

The real hot chocolate was a treat and is so much better than the powdered kind that I have completely stopped buying the powder. I'll take the extra time to have that milky goodness.

Now that we're all sugared up from breakfast and have a nice fire going, we are settling in for a day of sewing, laundry, playing cards, and a snow walk. We've got plenty of leftover gumbo from the weekend, but I am sorry to report- no pictures. The gumbo, while quite delicious, kind of looks like gruel. It's true. Thankfully, I have earned a reputation with Steve for cooking edible meals, so when I serve him gruel-looking items, he eats them anyway. And goes back for more.

With the snow and everyone home and some vanilla candles burning it feels like Christmas all over again here. And I don't mind one bit.

Friday, January 07, 2011

office space

I love spools of thread organized by color. My thread only looks like this about 5% of the time though because, really, how could you work like this? What about when you need the bottom spool?

But today is a day of organized thread. I have been wanting to redo my workspace a bit for the new year. The January issue of Better Homes and Gardens has some amazingly appealing office spaces and I have found myself coveting them more than once.

Therefore, the productive thing to do, is to turn my workspace into something covet-worthy. So that's what I'm up to.

But today's organizing frenzy was actually inspired by something completely unrelated. The author of a blog that I am going to be featured on later this month (oh my gosh don't worry of course I'll let you know when and where) asked for a picture of my workspace. And I thought- "dang."

My sewing table and supplies really did used to be organized in a cute way. Things have just fallen apart recently. I blame the holidays.

The best thing about organizing all the supplies? Finding things I forgot I had. It's like going shopping, for free.

I'm off to start the weekend now, which will probably include a little relaxing and a little nesting and a big pot of gumbo. Gumbo pictures next week anyone? Okay. Will do.

Also coming next week and peeking at you from the above picture- news about the Valentine's Day collection that I am working on. I haven't finalized all the items yet, so if you have a request, shout it out.

Here's wishing you a weekend full of organized thread, or whatever else you fancy.


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