Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We traveled on Thanksgiving day this year, something we usually try not to do.  I have a very specific agenda for Thanksgiving morning and travel tends to complicate the schedule. 


When we arrived at my mom's house, I found the Macy's parade (NBC style) already on.  There was a fresh newspaper, full of Black Friday ads, waiting for me.  There was also a plate of cinnamon rolls and hot tea and I found myself full of gratitude for my mom and sister who went out of their way to make the morning great for me. 

The weather was gorgeous and as we walked the neighborhood, we enjoyed the last of the leaves.  I was full of admiration for their bright colors, as our leaves at home are now mostly brown. 

We had a dog race and I won. 

As someone who loves to both cook and eat, I find Thanksgiving dinner pretty awesome. 

We took our time getting the food ready, as we waited for the last family members to straggle in.  I love not having to rush a turkey- can I get an amen?

Finally, the table was full, and so were our plates. 

And our stomachs.  I don't think about it as often as I should, but sometimes I am just overwhelmed with thanks that we always have enough to eat.  Always.  We are so blessed. 

We spent the rest of the weekend visiting old friends and getting into the holiday spirit.  I forgot how much I had missed the lighted wreaths in my old hometown until I saw them again.  I grew up loving those wreaths. 

And as if that wasn't a full weekend of fun, we also threw a Plumfield party on Saturday night.  We set out lots of Christmas pillows and tables of goodies and had a great time with Mom's friends who came. 

We are in full-on party season, with one last night and another this coming weekend, and Steve and I were just talking last night about how much fun we're having.  Making things that I love and sharing them with people is my favorite thing. 

There is lots of holiday excitement around here this week.  Stay tuned for pictures! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

how to cover a large bare wall: winter edition

Remember the great wall-covering project of '11?  (Can I refer to something in the same year like that?  I'm trying to remember if anyone referred to the "great blizzard of '96" in 1996...)

We have been super pleased with the results.  No complaints here.  But, as you may remember, we get a little feisty around the holidays.  (Red coffee table, anyone?)

So we decided to switch out all the florals in our frames for something a bit more wintry.  We made another trip to Paper Source and bought four sheets of wrapping paper.  We tried to err more on the side of "winter", rather than "Christmas", because I plan to leave them up through January at least. 

This project was WAY quicker to complete than the original, since we'd already done the hard work of hanging the frames.  We made a quick sketch on paper to decide what pattern we wanted in each frame, then Steve took them off the wall one at a time and handed me the backing to trace. 

I traced and cut with my handy rotary blade and then we put the new paper in, right in front of the old.  We were done in under an hour. 

Aside from the initial purchase of all the frames, which were actually fairly inexpensive, this project is a very cheap way to change the mood of a room.  Now that I know how easy it is to switch out the papers, I'm sure I'll be tempted to do it more often! 

I can't wait to get into more holiday decorating.  The day that Steve puts up the outdoor lights is always one of my favorites.  Hope your weekend is festive!

*Don't forget about the Small Business Saturday sale we're having in the shop tomorrow!  Use the coupon code "MERRY" for 20% off your entire order!*

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

quilting story

It began as all good quilts begin, as a pile of squares.  One hundred and twenty-one squares, to be precise.  I know because I cut every. last. one. 

The dining room furniture was displaced in favor of more floor space.  I played a game somewhere between Tetris and Sudoku to get all the squares in place.  No repeats in the same row. 

All the rows got sewn together and numbered, so I could remember what order to put them in.  Is this something that quilters usually do?  I'm not sure- I've never been a quilter before.   I'm really just making this up as I go. 

The numbered rows took a short sabbatical upstairs for about a month.  There were other, more pressing concerns at hand. 

Then, sometime last week, it hit me: the holidays were upon us.  I would be traveling- gasp!- without a travel project. 

I feel a bit panicky about going away for more than a night or two without a travel project.  What if I have too much spare time?  What will I do to be productive?  What if someone forces me to watch TV

The sabbatical was over and the quilt project kicked into high gear.  Steve and I chose a backing fabric over the weekend that I found for only $2.55 per yard!  Talk about your chipper chicken. 

Yesterday I moved more furniture.  Why do we not have a permanent, queen-sized empty spot in our house?  Clearly, I'm going to have to rethink the furniture arrangement around here. 

I laid all three layers out on the floor and smoothed smoothed smoothed them.  I bounced a little with excitement. 

Then I scooted around with my box of safety pins and pinned that thing up.  Secure!  No shifting!

And now we can leave.  I've got my quilting hoop, some pearle cotton, and a large needle.  I could forget to pack socks and a toothbrush and I doubt I'd mind one bit (although, come to think of it, my loved ones might mind very much after a day or two). 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.  I hope the holiday finds you doing some of your favorite things. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

small business saturday, among other things

Before I tell you about small business Saturday, which I am very excited about, I need you to inspect this picture of our lawn.  I want to make sure that you are properly impressed by the lack of leaves.  We spent the better part of last Sunday raking, bagging, mowing, and coaxing all the leaves out of the yard.  It must have been important, because when I looked for pictures to show what we did with ourselves over the weekend, these were what I found. 

Nary a leaf in sight. 

Aside from leaf removal, errand running, and general home maintenance, I must confess that we also started listening to Christmas music.  Some years I wait until after Thanksgiving.  Some years I don't.  It is what it is. 

Now: about your Christmas shopping.  I am so excited to be a part of the second annual Small Business Saturday.  Taken directly from the official website, Small Business Saturday is "a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year".  It is sponsored by American Express, who is even giving a $25 credit to qualifying customers who choose to "shop small" this Saturday. 

In celebration of what I think is just an all around great idea, I am going to be offering a coupon code to my customers on Saturday only.  I think that handmade gifts are the best gifts, so take a look at the shop between now and Saturday to see what would make the perfect gift for someone on your list.  Then enter the coupon code "MERRY" anytime on Saturday, November 26th to receive 20% off your entire order!  Just think- you could sleep in on Black Friday, secure in the knowledge that your shopping can be done from the comfort of your own home on Saturday. 

I'm excited to share with you later this week some projects we've been working on around here.  Today I finished pinning all the layers of my quilt together, just in time to take it with me for some hand stitching over Thanksgiving.  I love a project that can travel!  Tomorrow I'll share pictures of the process so far!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ain't no party like a Plumfield Party

My newest business adventure has had me sewing like crazy over the past several weeks.  I decided about a month ago to see if anyone would be willing to host Plumfield Shop parties in their homes throughout the holiday season.  I would bring merchandise samples (hence all the sewing) and people could buy gifts without searching for a parking space at the mall. 

I chose my top selling products and some awesome fabrics that are perfect for the fall and winter season and made tons of samples.  I finished all the samples exactly one day before my first party, which was yesterday. 

It was in an elementary school library and, if you remember how I feel about libraries, you can imagine how happy that made me. 

I LOVE getting to show people things that I've made and see their reactions.  I think I find this especially exciting since a lot of my business transactions are done online and I never get to speak with my customers face to face. 

I have three more parties scheduled over the next few weeks and I am so excited for each one of them!  I made a few exclusive items that will only be available through the parties- like these Christmas pillows.  The covers are removable and it's my goal to make a new set each season. 

This awesome duffel bag is also a party exclusive item.  I find myself wanting to make three more for myself in all different colors.  I may need to start traveling more to justify owning 4 duffel bags. 

Yesterday, I was so worn out after a full day of everything from attending the grand opening of Joann Fabrics (hip hip hooray!), to delivering orders, to throwing a party that I rewarded myself at 5pm with pajamas and a hot chocolate. 

Our sweet friends even made dinner for us last night, so all I had to do was show up at their house.  In my pajamas.  Which was totally fine, because they were wearing theirs too, as I knew they would be.  We even toted our slippers along with us. 

Today is progressing at much more of a normal speed and I am hoping to do some light housekeeping and finish my quilt top.  I've been taking pictures of the quilt progress as I go and saving them up for a future post. 

I always think of this last weekend before Thanksgiving as the calm before the holiday storm and I am thankful for a short list of easy chores like leaf raking and a haircut for Steve.  Hope your weekend is equally calm!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

unlimited soup and bread

We're not having salad, but it's still a pretty good deal. 

Tonight's soup is Potato Leek, one of my favorites.  I based the recipe on one I found in an old issue of Cooking Light and altered it to be more like the Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana, which I love. 

1 Tbsp. butter
3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 3 leeks)
6 cups peeled and cubed Yukon gold potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
28 oz. stock or broth
a sprinkle of thyme
1/3 cup whipping cream, half and half, or milk
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 lb. sausage


1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leek, cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (do not brown).
2. Add potatoes, water, salt, broth, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender (this can take WAY more than 20 minutes sometimes).
3. While soup is simmering, cook and crumble sausage.  Drain and set aside.
4. Once potatoes are tender, remove pan from heat.  Partially mash potatoes with a potato masher.  Stir in cream and black pepper.  Stir in sausage. 

Some key notes about this soup:

Do not over-mash the potatoes.  You will be sorry.  You definitely want some chunks in there. 

You could adjust the amount and type of dairy that you add in the last step to your own taste.  I usually use whatever we have on hand and add a bit more than 1/3 cup.  I like a creamy soup. 

The easiest way I have found to slice the leeks is to cut little strips with kitchen scissors. 

Tonight, I'll be serving some whole grain bread with our soup.  I made two loaves last month and have one waiting for me in the freezer.  I may melt a little cheese on some bread slices because there is no cheese in this soup and every meal is better with cheese, yes?  Yes. 

Note: I do not have a picture of the finished soup, as it is still simmering on the stove. 

I am finishing up a bit of hand stitching, while enjoying the aroma.  I am also trying to embrace the fact that it gets dark so early by lighting candles and making it cozy in here. 

I'll be sharing some new product pictures (finally!) later in the week!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Biltmore at Christmastime

I'll be the first to tell you that it is not yet the Christmas season, but bear with me on this one.  As the Biltmore Estate in Asheville is one of our favorite places, we have always wanted to see the Christmas decorations there.  But who has time for extra travel in December? 

Thankfully, the Christmas festivities begin at the Biltmore in early November, so we were able to squeeze in a trip over the weekend.  We already had our tickets (an awesome gift from my sister), so we just packed a bag and headed out. 

This bag, actually.  I finished sewing it on Thursday evening, just in time.  It is practically perfect in every way for a weekend trip. 

We got lucky with the weather, which was fairly cool on Friday but lovely on Saturday.  We walked for hours around the estate, checking out the leaves and berries and hardly missing the usual flowers at all. 

We took tons of pictures and ate great food.  I wore my red coat and felt fancy the whole time. 

Saturday evening, we got to tour the house at night.  There were trees in almost every room and fires in all of the 47 fireplaces.  We especially loved the choir singing in the atrium and the real spruce in the dining room that must have been 30 feet tall and smelled amazing. 

It definitely felt magical, being there at night.  I have a real love for Christmas lights on outdoor trees and at one point I told Steve that it felt like we were about to get engaged.  But we're already married, which is obviously way better. 

We came home yesterday feeling like we had taken a real break from all our responsibilities for two whole days.  Which was exactly what we needed. 

Don't worry though- everything was still waiting for us when we got home.  But today I have worked down my to-do list until it doesn't look so large and scary and I feel like I can tackle the week ahead. 

I'm working on six scarves this afternoon and hoping my weekend companion gets home on time so that we can have some more fun. 

Tomorrow, I'm making soup!  I'll be sharing the recipe in case you want to make some too!


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