Monday, December 31, 2012

gingerbread and sugarplums

One of our Christmas day activities was a gingerbread house/train decorating contest.  We waited too long to buy gingerbread house kits and almost every store was sold out, so we supplemented with trains.  It was all very official, with randomly drawn teams and a strict 30 minute time limit. 

The lone house was built by Team America, if you couldn't tell by the roof design. 

Some teams used more icing than others, but everyone had a great time. 
My sister and I literally spent the entire day on Christmas Eve preparing food.  It was rainy and cold and I loved having her company in the warm kitchen.  Our hard work paid off too because we had plenty to eat while everyone was here and then Steve and I enjoyed the leftovers for the rest of the week. 
On Christmas night, we toasted the year with Almdudler, Steve's favorite Austrian soft drink.  Our sweet friend, Kayla, brought us some all the way from Germany a few weeks ago.  It tastes a little like ginger ale and a little like carbonated fruit juice.  And, there are yodelers on the label. 
Looking back over all the pictures, it's hard for me to believe that we fit so much fun into a few short days!  We played cards and watched movies and roasted chestnuts and threw the football.  There was even a mini jam session one morning with Steve on his new mandolin and Brenna on the electric guitar. 
Today, on the last day of the year, Steve and I are cozily working from home together.  I'm excited to be catching up on some sewing and ordering supplies and shipping out orders.  We haven't quite decided how we'll celebrate this evening, but I'm sure it will involve pajamas and being at home and that sounds plenty celebratory to me.  Hope your year ends on a happy note!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

post Christmas

Hi friends!  Was your Christmas magical?  Ours was pretty great and I can't wait to tell you all about it and show pictures next week.  Right now, I am listening to Steve play "Jingle Bells" on his new mandolin.  My sister is upstairs and the rest of our family is on their way home.   Tonight is looking like Chinese food for dinner and an early bedtime- we've been staying up way too late! 

Steve and I made fresh wreaths last Sunday and it was one of our favorite things we did to get ready for the holidays.  I'll share a full tutorial soon!  We're enjoying one above the fireplace and one on the bird feeder and I plan to leave them up well into the new year. 

Hope your week so far has been full of Christmas cheer!

Friday, December 21, 2012


Good morning, friends!  Do you have big plans for the few hours of daylight we'll get today? 
I have already been photographing products and plan to start on the laundry and mopping soon.  I'm saving my cooking chores for later this afternoon when it's darker and the kitchen seems extra cozy. 

If you're still looking for Christmas breakfast ideas, don't forget about my family's traditional coffee cake.  I'll be making one with my sister on Monday, along with lots of other goodies!  We're expecting lots of guests throughout the next week and I have a long list of what I want to feed them while they're here. 

For those of you who may still be Christmas shopping, did you know that Etsy sells giftcards now?  They can be used at any of the thousands of cool Etsy shops!  You can either print them at home or email them straight to the recipient, which makes them the perfect last-minute-but-still-online gift. 

We still have gifts to wrap and some Christmas movies we haven't watched yet this year, so I'm looking forward to a festive weekend.  We may even crack into the chestnuts!

I'll be relaxing and spending time with family next week, but I may stop in to share a few glimpses of the festivities around here.  I hope that your Christmas is merry!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

whole foods

We finished up our Christmas shopping last weekend at Whole Foods.  It was at least 20 times more fun than going to the mall. 
Steve and I had never been to Whole Foods before, but after we found out that they carry chestnuts, we decided a trip was in order. 
I would call Whole Foods the largest fancy grocery store, based on other fancy grocery stores in our area.  I was especially intrigued by all the beautiful produce.  They had vegetables that I've seen in cookbooks, but never been able to find in a store.  They had mandarins with the leaves still on them!
We walked the whole store twice, to make sure we didn't miss anything.  By the time we were done, our cart was filled with tea and coffee and soaps and sparkly beverages- all the Christmas necessities. 
After all that walking around, we took a break in the cafe with some orange and fig gelato.  Amazing.  All in all, it was a delightful place to shop. 
Last night, we went on a date to celebrate the eight year anniversary of the night Steve asked me to be his.  Today, I've been thinking about how I'd say yes to him a thousand times over. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

with us

I feel like one of Santa's elves, and it's not just because I live in a festive, cozy house with another small person.  It's more about all the gift-making and shipping we've been doing this month.

This is what the front porch looks like, every day except Sunday. 

I like to pretend that our mail carrier likes to make multiple trips from my front porch to her truck.  (But secretly I fear that she will just give up and stop coming...)
Today there is an extra large pile of boxes, because I am shipping out Christmas packages to our families in addition to all the orders that came in over the weekend.  Our house is getting emptier by the minute and I love it! 
Oh, and did I tell you about the wrapping paper challenge I gave myself this year?  I had one roll of red paper left over from last year and I decided not to buy any more wrapping supplies.  Instead, I am cutting up grocery bags (thanks Trader Joe's!), shopping bags, and fabric scraps to complete my gift wrapping.  I've got lots of little ribbon scraps saved up and I'm making gift tags out of colored paper.  So far, it's been a lot of fun and I am thrilled to be using up all these craft items that we've been storing!
I can hardly believe that Christmas Eve is a week away.  Today I am working on our Christmas menu and looking forward to a quieter week ahead.  My heart has been heavy this month, for so many friends and hard situations and sometimes the holiday bustle becomes too much.  I'm thankful for some time to step back from it all and remember what I read just last week:
     "We knew that the promise has never been safety, or that bad things would not happen if we were good and virtuous.  The promise is only that God is in it with us, no matter what it is."  -L'Engle
What better time than this to celebrate Emmanuel- God with us?

Friday, December 14, 2012

four meal friday

8am: Breakfast
10:40am: Lunch
11:30am: Dentist (and the reason for the strange meal schedule)
4:45pm: Dinner (soup- easy on the teeth)
Question: if the third meal of the day is "dinner" and you know that you will be awake for at least 6 hours after said "dinner", what is the fourth meal called? 

This kind of sounds like one of those weird third grade word problems.

Spoiler alert: the fourth meal may be called "pound cake".  Sounds like the perfect way to kick off the weekend. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Sometimes I like to celebrate the days Steve gets to work from home by fixing a proper lunch.  This week, we tried a recipe from the cookbook my mom sent me over the summer

Tartine with tarragon-flavored slow-roasted tomatoes and prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees.  In a shallow baking dish, combine 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. tarragon, 1 tsp. brown sugar, 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add 9 oz. cherry tomatoes, mix, and season with salt and pepper.
Place in the oven and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the tomatoes are soft. 
Toast 4 slices crusty bread and spread with softened goat cheese
Top each tartine with 2 slices prosciutto and a spoonful of tomato mixture.  Drizzle with oil from tomato mixture. 

A tartine, if you were wondering, is just a fancy name for an open faced sandwich.  They are a little messy to eat, so have a napkin handy.  We tried these without the prosciutto as well, and they were still good, but do yourself a favor and just buy some prosciutto.  You don't want to miss the full experience. 

My favorite part of this lunch (other than eating it) is the smell of the tomatoes while they are roasting.  They get a lovely savory-sweet flavor from the low temperature and long cooking time and I'm already brainstorming what else to eat them with! 
Happy lunching!

Monday, December 10, 2012

drinking life through a fire hose

Good morning, friends!  As usual, we had a weekend that was full to bursting! 

On Friday, we spent the day running Christmas-y errands and got so much accomplished.  We even squeezed in a Panera lunch date by the fireplace (I think all restaurants should have fireplaces), which was a great break in the midst of a busy day. 

Then, we spent the rest of the weekend running from the Vintage Charlotte Holiday Market to a very special first birthday party to a leisurely lunch with friends to a Christmas concert. 

In between all that, we got to deliver meals and ice cream and holiday cheer to several friends who need things like meals and holiday cheer right now.  It is such a blessing to be able to be able to show love to these friends, all of whom have helped us out during times when we were barely holding it together. 

On Saturday night, we were able to relax at home for a bit and start decorating the tree.  We rescued some ornaments from my mom's garage that I have loved since I was a child and it was so much fun to hang them on our own tree this year.  I told Steve about how my very favorite one was always those two people sleeping snug in a nutshell. 

And my second favorite, of course, was these two people, sleeping in a cradle.  Is it any wonder that my favorite thing to do in the winter is cuddle up with Steve under a blanket?  I've always been a cuddler at heart. 

So today is gray and windy and I've got every light in the house on to cheer me while I work.  The washer and dryer are both running and I've got big plans for soup making later on.  I'm also feeling excited because I woke up to a happy surprise today- some of my items are being featured on one of my favorite blogs!  Mara and her husband, Danny, write at A Blog About Love and it is one of the most encouraging things to read.  I just love their story and their desire to help others find joy.  Be sure to click over to Mara's blog and check it out!

Friday, December 07, 2012

it's beginning to look a little like Christmas

 Well, we finally let the tree come inside.  The other night we made a party of it and had Rudolph playing on TV while we set up the tree and got out the rest of the decorations.  Yesterday, I finished emptying the boxes from the attic and put away the last of the pumpkins.  I miss them already. 

Incidentally, we had so much fun getting our Christmas tree last year that we decided to make it a tradition.  Here is Steve, standing in a vacant lot, pretending he cut down this tree.  People were literally craning their necks to see what we were doing as we made our way home. 

Last year, Steve's mom gave us these ceramic stars and I've been plotting all year about the best place to display them.  I was able to loop them around our dining room chandelier so that we can eat under the stars all month!  (Also, I'll probably leave them up way past Christmas.)

Today, Steve has the day off and we are planning to work on lots of gifts, like little elves.  And maybe we'll watch "Elf", to top it all off.  We've got a full weekend of holiday fun ahead of us and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be cold enough to wear a scarf!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

one stop shop

I rarely get dressed up.  I mean, let's be honest- I rarely leave the house.  But when I do leave the house, it's to go to Target, the grocery store, the bank, a friend's house, the fabric store, church... you get the picture.  And we don't go to a dress-up church. 

But, on the few occasions that I need to look fancy, I always find myself rifling through purses five minutes before we need to leave, wondering why I don't have something proper to carry.  You know- something that is just big enough for a few essentials and that doesn't clash with my outfit. 

So, this holiday season, I designed a fancy clutch.  The outside is black with metallic silver threads running through it so it shimmers in the light.  It literally matches everything.  I made a whole bunch of these, lined with either hot pink, or aqua.  I also made a fancy fluff of a zipper pull that is removable, if you're not into that much bling. 

The clutch is 9" wide and 6" tall- just right for my phone, sunglasses, and chapstick.  I'll admit- I've been carrying one when Steve and I go out even if I'm just wearing jeans. 

So the clutches are in the shop, along with a bunch of other new items just in time for Christmas.  I made a few new fabric bead necklaces that would make a fun, non-traditional jewelry gift. 
I also stocked up on these leather and wool pouches in multiple sizes.  Don't they look cozy?  I am excited to be offering so many products for men this year and hope it will make Plumfield Shop more of a one-stop-shop for gifts.  (Don't worry- the leather pouches aren't just for men.)
I've also added a few new scarf patterns to the shop, as we've sold out of several already.  I've had a few requests for infinity scarves thus far and yes- any scarf in the shop can be made in the infinity style- just ask when you order!
Now that the fun work of sewing all these products is behind me, I get the equally fun task of making sure all orders arrive in time for Christmas!  Since everything is ready to ship, most items will be on their way the very next day after you place an order.  Sometimes, if you order in the morning, I will ship your package the same day and tie it to the mailbox with garden twine in what I can only hope makes an amusing anecdote for the mail lady to tell when she gets home at night.  I try to spread holiday cheer in whatever way I can. 
Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 03, 2012

warm December

Good morning, friends- happy Monday and happy December!  I sure do love this month.  And not just because we're getting lots of Christmas orders and my front porch tends to look like an ad for the US Postal Service.  Although that part is really fun too. 

We had a good time at the Christmas Bazaar this weekend.  Much of that was due to the festive, bustling atmosphere, the smell of fresh greenery, and the holiday drinks from Starbucks that Steve picked up for us.  Afterwards, we came home and raked leaves and marveled over the fact that it was sixty degrees outside. 

Our Christmas tree is still lounging on the back patio, waiting to come inside.  The boxes of decorations have made it down from the attic, but are still in the garage.  I think the warm weather is stunting my desire to decorate.  But there's still plenty of time AND there is supposed to be a cold front moving in later this week. 

We did bake some spicy gingerbread sticks on Saturday night and they are almost gone.  We gave some of them away, but have certainly eaten our fair share.  Steve thinks that the shape deceives you into eating more of them.  I think we just like cookies. 
Today I am catching up on the laundry and working on a new product design- an iPod case, just in time for Christmas!  I'll be sharing pictures of this and a few other new products later this week. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

the place to be

Much like a large, woodland creature, I find myself stockpiling food as the days get colder and shorter.  I don't think I'll get to hibernate this year, but I like to be prepared. 

We ate turkey sandwiches until we ran out of bread and tomatoes and everything but turkey.  So, one afternoon this week, I spent several hours in the kitchen making use of all the leftovers.  I made turkey soup (like chicken soup, with turkey).  I made turkey tetrazinni (it's in the freezer and I love knowing it's there).  I made sausage and potato soup (no turkey- we also had some sausage to use up). 

The kitchen might be my favorite spot in the cold months.  It's toasty and there's lots of light and I can crank up the music while I work. 

So this morning, I am back at it.  I've got chili simmering in the crock pot for dinner and I'm making a special lunch for two dear friends who are coming over.  Visitors in the middle of the day- what fun! 
(Incidentally, Steve and I are both still mourning the absence of that pie- cheesecake on the bottom, pumpkin on top, dark chocolate in the middle.  Oh, my.)

Hope your weekend is full of Christmas cheer- we're going to finish decorating and hopefully start on some gifts!


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