Friday, March 30, 2012

showing off

Steve's family is visiting this week and we are busy showing off our blue skies and spring blooms.  I love Charlotte in the springtime. 

I have an unfortunate habit (illness?) of making up household projects for myself right before visitors come.  Case in point: we have an unattractive shelf in our laundry room that has been covered with an old pink tablecloth for four years.  But, earlier this week, I decided that I needed to make a cute curtain for that shelf and get rid of the tablecloth.  I'm sure there was a better time to do that, but that's not how I roll.  The curtain is darn cute though- I'll share some pictures next week.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile (or you've been to my house), you know that I love to feed people.  Something that is really important to me is that we always have enough food for our guests.  So I may go a little bit overboard with the grocery shopping, just to be on the safe side.  The girl who was bagging my groceries earlier this week asked tentatively, "How long do you think all this will last you?" and I looked at her and said, in my most serious voice, "I'm just hoping it will get us through the weekend."  Then I cracked a smile and told her we were having several house guests for several days, which hopefully made my overflowing cart situation less crazy. 

We're planning lots of meals on the patio this weekend.  Spring is perfect for eating outside because it's not too hot and the mosquitoes aren't out yet.  Oh mosquitoes!  Why do you torture us so?

Hope the weekend is sunny and flower-y where you are!  I'll be back on Monday with lots of pictures, plus some Easter recipes!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

the big finish

It seemed like there should be a little bit of fanfare or something.  I was secretly hoping for the 100,000th customer experience- flashing lights, confetti, maybe a little whooping and hollering. 

But instead, I quietly finished the very last stitch on my quilt, and nothing happened. 

I looked at the quilt in disbelief. 

It looked back, all finished and sassy-like. 

"I finished!" I yelled out the back door to Steve.

"Woo hoo!!" he yelled back. 

He must have known I secretly wanted hollering. 

This quilt has been my companion over the past eight months.  I started dreaming about it last August, when it was way too hot to think of quilts.  By September, I was choosing fabric and getting started.  In November, I finally finished cutting and piecing squares and started quilting it by hand.  January came, and I was still quilting by hand.  My hands can only move so fast. 

I have missed every single goal that I set for myself for finishing the quilt.  But on March 25th- the real date of completion- I didn't even care.  Aside from graduating from college, this may be the biggest long-term project I've ever completed.  I couldn't be prouder.

We decided that it is thin enough for spring and summer use and for that I am grateful.  Because that means that every night this week, I've had the satisfaction of falling asleep under several layers of my own hard work.  Usually with a smile on my face. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

life's a happy song when there's someone by your side to sing along

Happy Monday, friends!  Did you have a good weekend?  Ours involved yard work, housework, sunshine, rain, and some time with old friends.  But the BEST part of the weekend started yesterday around 6pm. 

All the work was done.  We were showered and clean.  We ran out to Harris Teeter to get a movie from Redbox and decided to pick up dinner while we were there. 

We were starving, so that made food selection a bit tricky.  Tricky as in we wanted to get everything.  The kind sushi man (sushi chef?  iron chef?) suggested we try a sample of the crispy crab roll.  It was delicious.  We grabbed a whole roll to take home and kept looking. 

We came to the prepared food counter, where they had egg rolls.  It seemed that we were going with an Asian theme, so we asked for two of those. 

But then, at the bakery case, after much debate over chocolate mousse and apple fritters, we decided on cannoli and the theme became apparent: rolls.  Because when you realize that your whole dinner is in the shape of a tube, there's nothing left to do but go with it. 

We love cannoli, but had never gotten them from Harris Teeter before.  They fill them right when you order and you can choose chocolate or vanilla filling!  And you can get the shell covered in chocolate! 

It was exciting, I tell you. 

And the movie?  The Muppets.  It was...magical.  I loved the music and the dancing and the humor.  I was so enthralled that I forgot about all the rolls on the plate in front of me for long stretches of time. 

I've been humming "Life's a Happy Song" all morning and enjoying that truth, straight from the mouths of a bunch of puppets.

Something else exciting from the weekend?  I finished our quilt!  I'll share some pictures later in the week. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

letters from camp

You may remember the mess I've been making lately.  It started in January with an inspiration board and lots of crumpled up paper. 

It progressed to pencil sketches.  And lots of crumpled up paper. 

Before I even start the design phase of any project, I like to have a vision for how it will be used.  For this collection, I pictured sunny days at the lake or farmer's market; spring cleaning and organizing, bright, clear colors; sailboats and the Kentucky Derby. 

I also wanted it to have a classic, vintage feel, so when I needed a font, "Typewriter" was the obvious choice.  I think that each piece feels sort of like a note from the past, or, even better, a letter from camp.  Practical and no-nonsense, while still being fun and ready for adventure.   

I wanted the collection to be somewhat customizable, so you will see that each item comes in a couple different colors and can be embroidered with any of the three designs I drew.  My plan is to add new designs seasonally as well, which I am very excited about. 

So: the items.  The first thing I thought of was a super sturdy canvas tote.  After going through three prototypes, I finally hit on the perfect size/shape/stability.  It stands up on its own.  The handles are super comfy (and- hello!- they're gray).  The bottom is strong enough to carry your veggies from the market or your library books to the beach.  I love this tote.  I'm already planning to make more to keep. 

Then- I redesigned the ever popular day bag (in fact, I only have one of the old style left, so grab it if you want it).  I kept the body of the bag the same shape and size, but gave it one sling style strap instead of two straps.  I also added larger interior slip pockets and a magnetic snap to keep the whole thing closed.  One thing that I love about this collection is that you could get your favorite image embroidered on both a day bag and a zipper pouch to toss inside. 

I also made a few non-bag items, like the canvas cubes (shown here) and these linen pillows.  I think the embroidery work lends itself well to simple items, like throw pillows, where you can really admire the design.  This horse pillow has been hanging out in the family room all week and I am already planning Derby snacks in my head. 

After sewing like my hands were on fire for three weeks straight, it has been a welcome change this week to take some pictures and finally do a few things around the house.  I'm looking forward to a sunny weekend- hope yours is lovely! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


We spent a good part of last Saturday in Davidson, a cute little college town about 30 miles north of here.  Steve and I love small towns and Davidson does not disappoint: it's got a main street with shops and restaurants, a farmer's market, and plenty of trees and parks.  While we usually wander around campus, one of our favorite places to stage shop photos, this time we checked out a little park with a lake. 

The cherry trees were just starting to bloom and it was beautiful.  I may love blooming trees even more than flowers because they're so big.  The weather was that kind of perfect where you can't even feel the breeze against your skin because it is the exact same temperature. 

We took hundreds of pictures of my new spring collection.  Eventually the geese climbed up out of the water to investigate.  Here is a picture of me turning around just in time to surprise the goose that was sneaking up behind me.  I think he was probably after the yellow bag.  Who can blame him? 

The fun and the blooming trees did not stop at the park though.  We headed downtown for more pictures and brunch outside. 

I have a major weakness for breakfast foods.  And I love them even more if I'm not eating them early in the morning.  Poached eggs at 12:30pm?  Yes, please. 

Steve was completely enamored with the trees and kept propping things in them to photograph.  These trees were in a courtyard directly adjacent to the patio we'd been eating on.  There was an older man on the patio, still eating, who could not take his eyes off the photographer putting stuff in the trees.  I giggled a bit when I realized that Steve was also wearing two of the purses I made and that could be the reason for all the staring. 

This week, I am editing photos and writing descriptions and getting ready for the big spring product launch on Friday!  Can't wait to show off more of what I've been working on!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Love the Place You Live: NoDa

Today I'm linking up with Gabrielle at Design Mom as part of her "Love the Place You Live" series.  I think it is such a great way to "force" yourself to explore parts of your city that you wouldn't normally visit. 

Steve and I decided to explore an area of Charlotte that we were not very familiar with, but that has a reputation for being a cool, artsy spot.  It's along North Davidson street and is known to the locals as "NoDa". 
I'm going to be honest:  I didn't love it.  Yes, there were a few cool handmade shops and some very uniquely painted buildings, but it wasn't a place I'd go back to.  It was a little dirty and every store smelled like incense.  I'm sure you can picture those incense burning stores, where you have to walk through a beaded curtain to get to the fitting rooms. 

They do have a super cute fire station there.  As we were taking pictures of it, the truck pulled in and all the firemen jumped out and started washing it.  Do they wash the truck after every use? 

The thing about exploring new places though, is that even if you don't love it, you've still seen something new and know more about your city than you did previously, and both of those are things I value. 

NoDa did have one redeeming spot, however- Amelie's French Bakery.  We stopped in for a chocolate croissant (did you know that we are kind of chocolate croissant connoisseurs?) and to rest our legs. 

Amelie's has lots of small nooks and tucked away rooms.  We came upon a baby shower that was going on towards the back.  There are winding hallways and you never quite know what will be around the next corner.  A piano?  A fireplace?  A checkerboard? 

There is a distinct Alice in Wonderland feel to the place.  I loved it.  And the croissant was delicious as well. 

On the way home, we stopped at one more new place, no longer in NoDa.  I have been seeing West Elm furniture and home goods in magazines for years now and just recently realized that we have a store right here in Charlotte!  I loved the layout and feel of the store- very open, with small room vignettes everywhere and lots of natural light.  Although West Elm uses words like "modern" and "contemporary" to describe their style, I would say it's more "classic".  I am all about classic.  Plus, they are huge Etsy supporters and host events for local artists in each of their stores!  I can't wait to find out more about how to get involved. 

This outing has us thinking of more places we want to explore and spring seems like the perfect time to do it! 

Friday, March 16, 2012


This morning I am listening to samples of The Folka Dots CD and thinking about if it will be the next one we add to our collection.  The songs are a mixture of wistful love and country square dance and they sound like summer. 

It's been one of those weeks where I feel like I'm frantically scrambling to get everything done and I am ready for a weekend and a chance to slow down a bit.  I'm also ready for next week, when I won't be quite as consumed with my spring collection and can take care of a few necessary chores, like vacuuming all the spiderwebs I found yesterday when I went to unplug the iron. 

I'm ready for food cooked and eaten outside, for windows open, for reading in the hammock. 

Later today, I am mailing off two orders, putting the finishing touches on the spring collection samples, and sprucing up the house a bit.  Hope your weekend is sunny! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a learning experience

While every new group of products I design is different, my new spring collection is the most different.  Which also means that I have done the most learning with these projects.  And if you recall, I love learning new things

I have learned the basics of working with new-to-me materials like linen and canvas and wool.  I've learned to use the embroidery software that came with my new machine and only fight with it a little.  I've learned to put in magnetic snap closures. 

I've learned to work with ultra heavyweight interfacing to make super handy canvas bins.  I've learned that there are an endless number of things that can be organized with these bins. 

I've learned to make gray wool bag handles that I am so smitten with that I've already cut them off of one bag that was deemed unworthy of such amazing handles.  I'm not messing around- I love these handles. 

And I've learned some of the old lessons all over again- that projects always take longer than you think they will; that leaving the iron on the hottest setting really can melt synthetic fibers; that I really am happiest when I'm creating something with my hands. 

Today is such an amazingly beautiful day that I'm considering how much of my work could be done outside on the patio.  Or I may just open all the windows and let the outside in!

Monday, March 12, 2012

the astronauts of crafting

Hello friends!  Did you have a good weekend?  Ours was lovely and felt super spring-like, which made it even better. 

Have you noticed that old book pages seem to be the background of choice this spring?  I keep seeing them at Anthropologie, in the Land's End catalogue- everywhere!  Since Steve and I take a lot of pictures, both for fun and for the shop, we decided to make some weathered looking pages of our own for backdrops. 

We bought a book from the dollar rack outside Books-A-Million.  As we were standing in line to pay, I commented to Steve, "this book will be perfect for tearing up."  At this point, I got distracted by something on display near the register, but Steve claims that both the woman in front of us and the cashier looked in our direction as if we'd just admitted to drowning kittens.  So then he replied, "Yes, this book will be great for our craft project.  It's just the thing we needed for our craft project."  And I said, "Why do you keep saying "craft project" so loud?" 

So, back at home, where we can tear up books without being judged, we made some strong tea and tried several methods of staining the pages.  I was worried about them getting wrinkled, so I mostly dipped the edges.  Steve did a few full submersions, because he's brave like that. 

(Incidentally, the book was about sushi.  A whole book about sushi?!  Who could blame us for using it for something other than reading?)

We let the pages dry overnight, but were sad to find that the tea stains faded a lot as they dried.  I think we'll try something else to get a darker color.  Soy sauce?  Balsamic vinegar?  Shoe polish?

Today I am sewing like crazy as I try to finish some more items in my spring line.  It is a lot of fun and a lot of work.  Our goal is to have a photo shoot this coming weekend, which means I only have four more days to finish up! 


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