Monday, October 31, 2011

the intern

This is an exciting week in the history of Plumfield Shop- we have our very first intern* starting today!  I've been making lists of tasks to be done by "someone else" for quite some time now, so you can imagine my happy surprise when I found out that I was actually getting "someone else" to hand that list over to!

Since I'm sure you're all insanely curious, I interviewed our new intern about his life, career goals, and being a recent college graduate:

Lauren:  Tell us the most important thing you learned in college.

Intern:  Reciprocity goes a long way. (Personally, I just think he was showing off here that he learned big words in college like "reciprocity".)

L: On a scale of 1-10, just how excited are you to be interning at Plumfield Shop? Feel free to use a score higher than 10.

I: 10 easy. With a great owner, great products, and great location, what’s not to be excited about?

L: What are you most excited about regarding this internship?

I: I’m most excited about getting to use some of the knowledge I gained during college to help someone. I also really like the fact that since Plumfield Shop is not a massive business(yet), my interactions with the owner will more than likely yield results based off my input.

L: What is your favorite item in the shop and why?

I: Believe it or not, I do not often purchase items like Plumfield Shop offers, but currently I would say my favorite item is the fabric lanyard because I often misplace my keys and what better way to locate them than to have a brightly colored lanyard attached. If any future products are Virginia Tech themed then they would maybe sneak into the role of my favorite item.
L: Is it or is it not true that you used to love manatees?
I: It is very true that I used to love manatees. When I was a just a young lad, I had many manatee figurines and other memorabilia. Going to Florida and seeing the manatees in person was one of the highlights of my childhood.
L:  If you were going to sew something, what would it be?  Actually, would you like to learn how to sew?  I could probably teach you. 
I: Is hemming the same as sewing? Because if it is then I would want to be able to hem my own suits because they charge you way too much to do that, and if you want to teach me that would be useful, my future wife already thanks you.
L:  Describe your dream job.  It’s okay if this is it. 
I: My dream job is to be the head football coach of the Washington Redskins, or for any professional football team for that matter. After my head coaching career, I retire and become a professional poker player.
L:  How strange is it to be living in California, having grown up on the East Coast?  What are your favorite and least favorite things so far about the West Coast?
I: It honestly isn’t as strange as I thought it would be having lived on the east coast my whole life. A few things have surprised me however. First of all, the San Francisco Bay is enormous, I greatly underestimated its size. Second, everything in the bay area is very close to each other. I am currently five minutes outside of Oakland and it only takes me about 25 minutes to get to downtown San Francisco(barring traffic) and around an hour to get to wine country up in Napa or Sonoma. Lastly, everyone out here has been extremely nice. Maybe I have just gotten lucky with who I have met, but so far everyone is very accommodating and friendly. So far I do not have any least favorite things, but I will keep you updated.
L: If you prove to be such a valuable asset to the company that I can no longer imagine running it without you, would you be interested in a permanent unpaid position with Plumfield Shop?  Just thinking ahead...
I: I’ll have my people talk with your people.
I can already tell that this is going to be great.  Stay tuned for more of our adventures later this week- while he's researching ad space, I'll be sewing some Christmas pillows.  I love teamwork!

*The intern grew up in a small town with three big sisters and lived to tell about it.  Upon graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Consumer Studies, he promptly moved across the country to California like the bold man that he is.  He is quite popular with the ladies and can often be found watching sports, playing sports, or thinking about sports.  He is also quite tall. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the view from my ironing board

Today I am camped out upstairs with all my new fabric.  It's quite cozy.

This was the largest fabric order I have ever made.  The UPS man could barely wrangle the box through our front door.  I was so excited when it got here that I think I was bouncing up and down a little as I let him in.  Hopefully he didn't notice, what with the big box in his face and all. 

The first thing I do when I get new fabric is lay it all out on the floor and make sure I like it.  This time around, I am not returning a single thing, which is pretty rare. 

The second thing I do is to separate all the fabric by color and wash it.  I took me five loads this time. 

I told you it was a big box. 

After the washing comes the ironing, which I actually like a lot.  Sometimes I watch a movie or talk on the phone while I iron.  Today, I set up in front of the window to enjoy the view. 

The leaves are just beginning to change.  It's quite windy, so there's a lot of leaf blowing going on.  I've never ironed at this particular window before, but I think it's a new favorite. 

Now that the fabric is ready, I get to begin the most fun part- sewing with it!  I have a mile-long list of projects to make for the upcoming fall and winter. 

Once I finish sewing for the day, I'm whipping up some of Frank's Minestrone for dinner tonight and looking forward to cuddling in with Steve for the chilly weekend ahead. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

craft fair highs and lows

It's craft fair time again, friends. 

I've done this before, but not on such a large scale.  I'm whipping up stacks of zipper pouches and checkbook covers.  I've got a basket full of lanyards, just waiting to be rifled through.  No fabric scrap is safe from being turned into something useful. 

The great thing about preparing for a craft fair is that I get to use up all the remnants of other projects.  I love clearing out old fabric to make room for new!  (In fact, I'm listening for the UPS truck as we speak...)

The other great thing is that I don't need five good pictures of each item in order to sell it.  See this cute scarf?  I've made three of them.  They're sitting patiently upstairs, waiting to be sold.  But I haven't been able to get any shop pictures of them and I doubt that someone is going to contact me about buying a scarf they've never seen, but just had a hunch I was hiding in my guest room. 

But at a craft fair, you can see the items in person!  You can pick them up and try them out!  What fun! 

Want to know the downside to craft fairs? 

I never know when I'm done preparing. 

Is it when I've made everything on my list?  When I run out of zippers?  When I break four needles in two hours and decide to call it a day? 

Unfortunately, I think I already know what the answer is: it's when we start loading the car.

If you live nearby and want a chance to see all these things that will probably never make it into my online shop, you should stop by and visit us at the fair!  Here's the important information:

Saturday, November 5th, 9am-2pm
St. Stephen United Methodist Church
6800 Sardis Road, Charlotte

Other than seeing Steve and I, here are some more great reasons to come:

- the cute old men's group makes and sells barbecue sandwiches for lunch.  You don't want to miss this.  The barbecue, or the men. 
- each vendor has to donate a door prize, which means over 50 cool door prizes that you could win
- you could finish your Christmas shopping without having to brave Target in December

Hope to see you there!  If you're too far away to make it, I'm sure we'll have lots of pictures to share that will make you almost feel like you were there.  I'll even take a picture of my barbecue sandwich.  And the old man who makes it. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

the ongoing quest for the perfect pumpkin

We haven't bought a pumpkin for the porch yet.  Remember how hard it was to find the perfect one last year

I keep wondering if the last week in October is too late to acquire pumpkins.  But they're still cute in November, right? 

We went back to the greenway over the weekend to enjoy the sunshine and cool air.  We did not take a picnic this time and I personally felt that our visit was the poorer for it.  Lesson learned: always take a picnic. 

The other difference between this visit and the last is that this time we both wore sensible shoes, ready for tromping along dusty paths and across the swinging bridge.  We tromped so far that we ended up at the fall festival again and treated ourselves to some orange sherbet for making it that far. 

The other big activity of the weekend involved tucking all of our plant cuttings cozily into the ground for the winter ahead.  We've had two cold nights already and some of them were beginning to look a bit worse for the wear. 

This week, I'm working on some exciting plans for the shop and getting ready for a giant fabric order to arrive.  I love getting fabric delivered to my door!  I'll be sure to share pictures once it's here!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

tie one on

It's chilly here today and I'm wearing a scarf.  I love wearing scarves. 

In honor of scarf weather, I thought I would share my three favorite ways to tie them.  I am always looking for new ideas too, so if you have one, leave it in the comments so we can all try it out! 

I just learned the four-in-hand knot (both pictures above) this year and am totally smitten with it.  I think it looks very French. 

Here's how it goes:  Start by folding the scarf in half.  Put it around your neck so that you are holding the loop in one hand and the two ends in the other.  Pull one of the ends through the loop.  Twist the loop to create a second loop and pull the remaining end through. 

The European loop (shown above and below) is another look that works with every type of scarf.  It's a lot like the previous knot only easier! 

Fold your scarf in half.  Put it around the back of your neck so that you are holding the loop in one hand and the two ends in the other.  Pull both ends through the loop to tighten. 

And for those times when you want to run around with your scarf tails flapping in the breeze, the simple loop (shown above and below) is best. 

Find the middle of the scarf and put it on your Adam's apple.  Fling both ends over your shoulders to your back.  Then grab each end and pull it over the opposite shoulder. 

My favorite scarves this fall are here and here.  They sell out fast, so be sure to grab one early!  This week, I'm offering free shipping on all scarves in the shop- just use the coupon code "LOCAL". 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

lanyards are for everyone

Here is something very fun about my job:

Sometimes, I make a new product with one use in mind, only to come up with seventeen other uses once I really start thinking about it. 

Like these lanyards, for instance.  I made one, thinking about teachers who have to wear a badge every day and college students who carry an ID.   

 Lanyards = for teachers and students.  

But then I thought about how handy they would be for people who have to carry a few keys with them at all times.  I know there are lots of jobs that require keys and I also know that most women don't cram keys in their pocket, if they can help it. 

Lanyards = for women with jobs

But good grief, what about moms?   Couldn't they always use an extra hand (or three)?  Wouldn't it be great if they could clip on a pacifier?  Or the car keys, so that they can be easily unearthed from the bottom of the diaper bag? 

Lanyards = for moms

Then I started thinking about when I take a walk during the day.  I unhook my house key from all my other keys and stick it in my pocket and hope it doesn't fall out somewhere around the neighborhood.  Why don't I just put an extra house key on a lanyard by the door for an easy grab and go? 

Lanyards = for walkers. 

I think you can see where this is going....

Lanyards = for everyone. 

Be sure to stop by the shop today to check them out!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

treat yo self

I am totally getting spoiled by these past few weekends.  Both the weather and the company have been top notch. 

We got to hang around with our oldest and dearest friends for the entire weekend.  None of this one day here, a few hours there, business that we end up doing so often out of necessity.  This was a full 48+ hours and every one was precious. 

We found a fall festival, complete with bales of hay, and brought at least half of it home in our shoes and cuffs. 

We practiced lots of action shots with our new camera.  And I do mean action. 

These girls are a barrel of fun. 

Which is not at all surprising because so are their parents. 

  Steve took most of the pictures this weekend, but I was able to snap a few. 

Don't you love how everything seems better with good friends?  The days are a little sunnier, the food a little tastier and you'd swear that even the TV shows are funnier.  We just giggled and ate and sunned our way through the weekend and I couldn't have enjoyed anything more.  What a treat. 

Today I've vacuumed and mopped and wiped fingerprints off of every surface in the house.  But as much as I love my clean floors, I'd cover them right back up with Cheerios if it meant they'd come back for another day. 

Natalie has been my best friend for 23 years.  She always acts like my advice is super valuable to her, eats everything I cook like it's the best meal she's ever had, and picks out beautiful actresses and says they look like me. 

How did I get so lucky? 

The theme of the weekend was "treat yo self" and I think we all did a splendid job.  Especially Adam, but he's had lots of practice. 

This week, I plan to treat myself to some time to work on a bunch of shop projects that I am very excited about.  And possibly some reading time in the hammock, just because. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


One of my favorite things (so far) about our new camera is how I can focus on one small part of a picture, while leaving the rest of the image out of focus. 

I love the ability to really zero in on what's beautiful- a large bloom, flower buds about to burst open, the sway of the Russian sage- and blur out the not so beautiful (like, say, the air conditioning unit in the background). 

After all, isn't that what we should all be trying to do anyway?  Every day, I try to zero in on what makes life beautiful and let the rest fade into a background blur.  Some days are easier than others. 

I'm not suggesting a life of denial, but rather a conscious decision to give the most attention to the good. 

Steve and I were talking recently about some of the hard things we've dealt with over the past six years.  As we started listing them, we were really surprised that there were so many. 

We were surprised, I think, because we don't focus on those things.  We move through them and then let them just blur into the background with the neighbor's trashcan and the patches of dead grass. 

When I picture the past six years, some images stand out sharply against the blur:

buying our first Christmas tree

going for walks, arm in arm

planting bulbs in the yard

pool days

packing the car for a weekend trip

Thankful today that my mind, like my camera, is able to pick and choose what to focus on.  

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."
                                                                   Philipians 4:8 (The Message)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

we have so much fun together

Boy did we ever live it up this past weekend!  The weather was golden and perfect and we spent every possible second outside.  We had not one but TWO picnics. 

Come to think of it, this may have been my very first double picnic weekend. 

On Sunday, before we left the house, Steve asked "where's the professor?" 

I love that our blanket has a title. 

One of the places we picnic-ed was Belmont Abbey College.  Can you believe it's taken me this long to get back there to explore?  

As luck would have it, we managed to show up for homecoming weekend.  How do we always end up going to alumni events at schools we didn't attend?   Would you believe that we have never been to an alumni event at the college we both graduated from?  I'm not sure what this says about us, but I know it says something. 

As we strolled around campus, we were stopped by a gentleman from the class of '64. 

Him: Are you two students here?

Us: No, just visiting.

Him: Oh!  You're thinking about going to school here! 

Us: No... just visiting... we live nearby...

We found plenty of amusement in the fact that we went from looking like college students to high school students in the span of ten seconds.  I'm sure these kinds of conversations will only get funnier the farther into our 30s we get.

Our other picnic spot was at the Anne Springs Close Greenway.  Fewer alumni, more animals, equally great atmosphere. 

We feasted on chicken salad sandwiches, apple coleslaw, pimento cheese, and chocolate chip cookies.  You can see why we wanted to do this more than once. 

Along with lots of great pictures of the scenery, we also took plenty of pictures for the shop.  Be sure to check it out this week! 

We're both still learning how to use the new camera and having a great time doing it.  Steve reads the manual and tells me how to do stuff and then I run around and try to do what he said.  Teamwork. 

We dragged ourselves back into the real world this morning, but I think we still have a weekend glow about us.  Hopefully we can keep it going for another couple of days, right on into the next one! 


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