Thursday, March 31, 2011

rainy days

One of the fun things about preparing for a craft fair is that I get to use up fabrics that have been hanging around here for a bit.  And of course, using up my fabric stash means that I get to buy more fabric to replace it. 

Another great thing is that I can try out new projects that are not quite suited for my online shop.  Things that are too big to ship or that you really need to get up close and personal with.  I am really excited about these monogram canvases and have made several to showcase at the fair. 

I'm also working on a big batch of stuffed balls, which are one of my favorite things to make.  The pieces look like flower petals after they've been cut and then all of a sudden they come together and look more like deflated balloons and then I stuff them and then- bam!- it's a ball.  And I'm having a ball. 

Rainy days are perfect for sewing and being at home and I've just had the perfect rainy day. 

ps- super grainy pictures courtesy of the rainy day. sorry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday- birthday cards

Welcome to the first Tutorial Tuesday!  For the next few Tuesdays, I will be sharing how-tos for some of my favorite ideas and projects.  This week, we're talking about birthday cards. 

Here are the supplies you need:

multicolored card stock
glue stick
card sized envelopes
computer and printer (optional)

Easy enough, right?  I bet you have most of that in your house right now.  And if you don't have card stock, a big pack of multicolored card stock will probably set you back about $4- the price of ONE store bought birthday card. 

You also need 2-3 hours.  Steve and I have made birthday cards like this for the past three years and we like to make them during the week between Christmas and New Year's.  It's cold out and we light pine candles and put on music and the whole thing goes by in a flash. 

First, count up how many birthday cards you think you will need for the year and then add 5 to that number.  You know there are always a few birthdays that sneak up on you each year.  Cut the sheets of card stock in half along the long side so that you have two 8 1/2" by 5 1/2" pieces.  Then fold each of those pieces in half to make a card. 

Then, pick a theme for the year.  So far, we have done birds, birthday cakes, and candles.  For the birds and birthday cakes, we searched online for an image that we liked and then printed it out to make a pattern.  For the candles, we drew our own. 

We happen to have a lot of patterned paper, gifted to us by a friend who was moving, but solids would work equally well.  Trace and cut out as many of your shape as you need and then glue them onto the cards.  It's handy (but not necessary) to have two people for this step because one can cut while the other is tracing.

Now, using your best handwriting, write "happy birthday" on all the cards.  If you're not confident in your handwriting, you could splurge on a "happy birthday" stamp and let that do the writing for you.  Not a bad investment as far as stamps go- people will continue to have birthdays. 

And you're done!  Put them in the closet with the envelopes and some stamps and you will never again have that panicky "I forgot so-and-sos birthday and have to run out and get a card before the mailman gets here" feeling again.  And think of all the money you'll be saving!  We have used the same supplies for all three years and we usually make about 20 cards per year. 

Another bonus- your mom will love it.  You know how moms are about anything handmade.  

Speaking of moms, I am off to mail a little surprise package to mine.  Today is looking quite promising- the sun has returned, after a five day vacation, and I am hoping to get some pictures of the rest of the spring collection to post in the shop.  Hope you're able to enjoy some sunshine as well!

Monday, March 28, 2011

library days

The first time I had my picture in the newspaper I was picking out books at the public library.  I was 21 months old at the time. 

The caption claims that I was getting assistance from the librarians, but I'm pretty sure the look on my face says "Back off, ladies, I can reach all the books on the bottom two shelves."

I have always loved the library. 

As a child, my worst punishment was not being allowed to read. 

In middle school, I worked as a "teen volunteer" at the library each summer. 

And from 1999 to 2007, I had the great fortune to live in three different apartments that were all within walking distance of a library.  It's pretty much the second most important thing about a dwelling, to me.  Right after running water. 

These days, I have to drive four miles down the road to visit the public library.  I go every Monday and I shelve books for two hours.  It is one of my favorite parts of the week. 

You see, the library is closed on Mondays.  When I get there, I knock on the back door and one of the librarians comes and lets me in.  It's a lot like being in a secret club. 

I wheel cart after cart out to the stacks and straighten up each row as I go.  It is so quiet and I can think about whatever I want while I'm working.  Or sometimes I hum a little, to myself. 

I get to find out about all sorts of interesting books this way, books that I would never normally pick up (remember that I judge books by their cover).  And when I find things that I want to take home, I just start a pile and check it all out before I leave.  A whole pile of magazines and books and movies that I get to take home.  For free. 


I love the library. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Introducing.... the Ginkgo Wallet!

This is my new favorite thing.  I love items that have so many uses, I struggle to find a name for them.  So, let me introduce you to the new checkbook cover-skinny wallet-coupon holder-grocery assistant. 

It will hold your checkbook and check register, if you're into that sort of thing.  I have seen a million different types of checkbook holders, but never one with these genius pen loops.  That idea came straight from two faithful blog readers, Mom and Kelli.  They even sent pictures to help me along.

And I was into it.  I know that there are still lots of people who carry a checkbook, although I personally do not.  So I started working on a prototype for Mom.  Once it was done and I was testing it out, I realized how many other things I would like to use it for.

It would make a great wallet.  There is room for cash on one side, cards on the other, and nothing will fall out because of those hardworking pen loops.  There are certainly times when I want a pared down version of my rather large wallet.

Then, I showed one to Star, who immediately started talking about coupons and now I can't stop picturing myself at the grocery store, without a purse, with just this handy contraption to hold my coupons, grocery list, pen, and checkcard.  Does anyone else hate to carry a purse at the grocery store?  I feel like mine is always slipping down my arm at inconvenient times. 

The best thing of all is that this lovely ginkgo fabric comes in three beautiful colors.  I love the saffron color and how stylish it looks and I think it is a perfect year-round color.  But I bet we can all agree that this deep violet and bright leaf green are equally loveable.  How will you choose?

I'm so excited to be able to offer this item to my blog readers first and it will be available exclusively right here until April 22nd.  There are lots of gift-giving events in the coming months, so order one for yourself (of course) and then start a list* of every teacher, mother, graduate (oh my gosh, wouldn't this make an awesome money holder for a graduation gift?!?), and friend that would enjoy one as well!  What a treat it would be to find one in your Easter basket! 

*If you would like to order multiple colors, just choose the total quantity in one color and then let me know the breakdown in the "notes to seller" box at checkout.  Shipping is $2.50 whether your order one or fifty!  But if you order fifty, I will need a few days to make them.  Just so you know. 

Friday, March 25, 2011


In celebration of my 100th blog post, I am going to share some recipes for foods I have eaten at least 100 times.  I've chosen a main dish, a salad, and a dessert, so you've got the formula for one amazing meal. 

First up: White Chicken.  This is, hands down, the best chicken marinade.  I have been eating this my whole life and it just keeps getting better.  Growing up, sometimes we would request White Chicken for our birthday meal, instead of going out to eat.  I think this is a family recipe, but it's hopefully not a secret.  If it was, it's not anymore. 

1 cup oil
1 pint cider vinegar
3 eggs
4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 cup chopped parsley (dried will work if you don't have fresh)
2 Tbsp. tarragon
1/2-1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. pepper
2-3 drops Tabasco sauce (optional) (I don't think that we've ever really opted for the Tabasco sauce, but I'm giving you the recipe as is)

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl and add chicken.  This makes enough marinade for about 2-4 pounds of chicken.  Marinate 2-10 hours, then grill. 

Next: Spinach Apple Salad with Maple-Cider Vinaigrette.  An illustrious name for an illustrious salad.  I found this recipe in Southern Living a couple of years ago and it has become my go-to salad.  And the dressing is especially nice, so I try to always keep some on hand.  It will keep in a jar in the fridge for about 2 weeks. 

Sugared Curried Pecans

1 (6-oz.) package pecan halves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon curry powder (I don't love curry, so I leave it out)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Maple-Cider Vinaigrette

1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup olive oil


1 (10-oz.) package fresh baby spinach, thoroughly washed
1 Gala apple, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 (4-oz.) package crumbled goat cheese


1. Prepare Pecans: Preheat oven to 350°. Toss pecans in butter. Stir together sugar and next 4 ingredients in a bowl; add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer in a nonstick aluminum foil-lined pan. Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 minutes; separate pecans with a fork.
2. Prepare Vinaigrette: Whisk together cider vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until well blended.
3. Prepare Salad: Combine spinach and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with desired amount of Maple-Cider Vinaigrette; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pecans. Serve salad with any remaining vinaigrette.

And now, the creme de la creme: chocolate pie.  This is the easiest pie to make, and looks and tastes totally impressive.  I love chocolate pie in the summer, served cold with a dollop of whipped cream.  It makes any meal feel like a party.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 9 inch unbaked pie crust (I keep a pack of the frozen ones in my freezer at all times, in case we have a pie emergency)

Mix together sugar, flour, melted butter, cocoa, vanilla and eggs.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the pie filling looks puffed and slightly cracked.  If the filling jiggles in the middle, the pie is not done.

Thanks for being here to celebrate 100 blog posts with me!  This weekend, we're looking forward to a trip to the botanical gardens and taking pictures of some of my newest projects.  Hope your weekend is grand!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

potting bench

My new spring collection was inspired by a potting bench.  Not a specific potting bench, but the general idea of a million different ones that I've seen and swooned over.  Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens, the Pottery Barn catalogue- they all tempt me with their clean, yet outdoorsy, organized, yet full, practical, yet oh-so-impractical potting benches. 

It's easy to get caught up in the magic.  The aluminum bucket, balls of twine, rubber boots, mossy clay pot magic.  It just makes me feel like I could be a better gardener, if I could somehow create a space like that at my house. 

I think I love the idea of a perfect potting bench even more than I'd love the actual bench.  Which is why I decided to let that be the theme for my spring collection.  I took the burlap, muted color, leafy shaped goodness and translated it to fabric.  I made belts that have that "I've accessorized, but in a way so casual and cool you'd barely notice it, but it's there, baby, it's there" feel to them. 

And since those benches always seem to have the perfect containers to organize everything, I made zipper pouches in three different sizes that can organize, well, everything.  Last night, we were testing them out and made the exciting discovery that the largest pouch is the perfect size for magazines.  You know how hard it is to keep a magazine from getting all wrinkled and torn when you put it in a bag with other stuff?  Never again. 

If I had to pick a favorite though, it would be this pillow.  It's one of those things that I had no idea how much I would love it until I held the finished product in my arms.  It's chunky and cute and classy and big and matches everything and if you need any more confirmation about its greatness, how's this:
After Steve got home from work yesterday and saw this pillow, he asked how much I was selling it for and then pulled out his wallet to buy it from me. 

What a blessing to have a husband who enjoys my work. 

Today I am working on the final (I think) product in the collection- the blog exclusive.  It's going to be awesome.  With a little luck and a lot of sewing, everything will be up and ready for sale next week!

I'm sharing spring recipes on Friday- see you then!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I see the Moon and the Moon sees me

We've been sky-gazing.  The moon was so bright the other night that Steve was certain our plants were growing even while we slept.  We even got out the telescope and looked at Saturn and stars and enjoyed the warm, clear evening. 

The weather couldn't have been more perfect and it was a great weekend to have a visitor.  Charlotte is at its finest in the spring. 

We went downtown to check out the St. Patrick's Day parade and festivities. 

Steve even wore green, but Kath and I were too cool for that.  Also, how would someone find us if we got lost in that sea of green-wearing people? 

Side note: at one point, I said, "Look at that woman up there carrying the tiny dog... she's in a green shirt.." and then I felt very silly because that was the worst way ever to distinguish someone from the crowd.

There is lots of interesting stuff to see downtown and it is always fun to see it through the eyes of a visitor.  Everything seems rare and new. 

My favorite part of the festival was the Irish dancing.  These kids are amazing!  Possibly the most amazing part though is their curly ringlets that bounce up and down while they dance.  After much discussion, we decided that they were mostly fake.  But the dancing was all real and totally cool and I am left to wonder where you learn to dance like that because I think it could be a useful life skill. 

Today, after more laundry, guest room cleaning, and vacuuming (does anyone else feel like I just did this?), I am getting down to business and sewing away the afternoon.  I feel like it's been awhile since I've shared any recipes, so I'm gather some of my favorite things to make in the spring and we'll have a recipe day later this week.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

kiss me I'm Irish

I don't think I am actually very much Irish, but I do enjoy wearing my "kiss me I'm Irish" t-shirt.  I do not, however, like Lucky Charms.  Ick. 

The rest of this post will not be about Ireland, St. Patrick's Day, or cartoon leprechauns at all, but I felt that I couldn't overlook the holiday entirely.

Now how about that quilt?  Eh? 

I am thrilled with how this baby blanket turned out and think that the colors and patterns would make a lovely grown-up quilt as well.  I love to use non-baby looking fabrics to make beautiful things for babies.  And I think the babies probably appreciate it. 

My other, almost finished, project of the week cannot be shown because it is a surprise gift that I was commissioned to work on.  Isn't that exciting?  It could be for you!  You just never know.  But if, in three weeks, you haven't received a lovely handmade gift, it probably wasn't for you.  Sorry about that. 

I took a serious trip to the fabric store this week and came home exhausted, but with some great stuff.  I've been waiting to finish these other projects so that I can dig into my bag of new fabric.  I thought I would share some sneak peaks of what I got. 

I am working on a new spring line for the shop and am super excited!  I honestly can't wait to show you, but I will have to, as none of it is actually made yet.  I can guarantee that you will love it if you like: gardens, spring, Anthropologie, one of a kind things, texture, organization, or awesomeness.  How's that for a guarantee?

One thing that I am also really excited about is that I am planning to create an exclusive piece in my spring line just for my blog readers!  That's right- as a thank you to my readers, I plan to make one item that is super cool, totally special, seriously amazing, and only for sale on my blog. 

I know, is the suspense killing you?

Good things come to those who wait.  Production will start on Monday and be finished, God willing, sometime before April 12th.  I have another craft fair on April 12th and, if you remember the craft fair last fall, things will probably be a bit frantic until then. 

Right now, I'm going to finish prepping for a nice three day weekend with my husband and sister-in-law, who is coming for a visit.  We're a regular B&B around here.  We love it.  In a span of six weeks, we will have had visits from three of our four siblings.  We're waiting for you next, Bren. 

Hope your weekend is swell and filled with something nice like siblings or flowers or cinnamon rolls!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

i love you, gray t-shirts

Does anyone else love that John Mayer song?  I'm sure it has a real name, but I've never called it anything other than 'I love you, gray sweatpants', which is kind of a long name for a song, now that I think about it. 

Well.  If you are one of the three people who has not heard this song, it is about this guy who has a new fancy girlfriend, but is pining for his old comfortable girlfriend, hence the line "I love you, gray sweatpants, no makeup, so perfect." 

I came to the somewhat uncomfortable conclusion several months ago that my favorite clothing color is gray.  I think I'd always known this truth, in the back of my mind, but I could usually fool myself into thinking that it was really pink, or maybe even green.  Or red.  I look pretty good in red. 

But there comes a point in time when you have to stop lying to yourself and I reached mine last fall.  Which is why, when I located the perfect gray t-shirt last weekend, I felt justified in purchasing two.  I am embracing the gray. 

In the dead of winter, I like to rock this sweater with a bright colored shirt underneath.  It is two layers of woolly warmth and it has buttons and it's my favorite color.  Win-win-win. 

Once it warms up a bit, I can switch over to this cardigan with a tank top.  It even has pockets.

And in the summer?  Well, if you've ever seen me in the summer, I was probably wearing this skirt.  It's my favorite and I wear it at least twice a week.  It goes with everything and, if it doesn't really go, I pretend like it does. 

At first I felt like gray clothing was boring, but now I choose to think of it as classic.  It's not a trendy color- it is here to stay.  You may even find me chanting "Gray is here to Stay!" at a protest of some sort.  I'm not sure what we'd be protesting though- color? 

Probably not, because I love color, especially the lovely ones in this baby quilt I am working on.  Our friends just brought home their baby girl and I could not be more excited for them and the news immediately threw me into gift-making mode.  Once I finish the quilt, I'm going to make some matching accessories, in case any other friends want to join in the fun. 

Today is mostly a sewing day and then I have a hot date tonight with a handsome blonde.  I bet you can guess what I'll be wearing. 


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