Friday, June 29, 2012


There are lots of exciting things afoot around here.  I've shown you the awesome tags and mentioned the finished products covering every piece of furniture and half of the floor.  Well, today each tag is attached to an item and I am filling shopping bags with products so that we can sit on our sofa once again. 
The reason for all the fuss?  I'm going retail. 
I love (LOVE) having an online shop, but it has always been my dream to sell my products in a retail store as well.  So I'm very excited to report that as of July 1st, Plumfield Shop merchandise will be carried by Sanctuary of Davidson
If you haven't read about it in my previous posts about Davidson, it is a sweet little town a bit north of here.  Sanctuary is in downtown Davidson, surrounded by other cute shops and restaurants.  I knew from the moment I walked in that it would be a great fit and am just thrilled that they want to carry my work. 
I've been working on lots of new items to send to the store, but I'll be taking some from my Etsy shop as well, so it may look a little sparse next week.  But never fear- I've made lots of new items for the online shop too!  All I have to do is photograph them, which can take a lot longer than it sounds like, but I do plan to have the shop fully restocked over the next few weeks. 
The restock will include: over a dozen new zipper pouches, a new fabric bunting, and more throw pillows, to name a few.  And, if you can believe it, I'm already planning for fall.  I found some cotton voile this week that I am dying to turn into scarves!  And if I can think about scarves when it's due to be 104 today, you know they must be lovely. 
Hope you have a lovely weekend and are able to stay cool!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

happy hour

A day that started out a little bleh with eye doctor appointments for the both of us looks a bit brighter through the lens of happy hour at Sonic.  Real fruit slushes for $.60?  Yes, please. 

Surfaces are filling up with finished products.  Many of them will have traveled off to one place or another by the end of next week and I'm wondering what we'll do with all the space.  For instance, what to do with the dining room table when it's not covered up with sewing machines and zipper pouches?  Eat dinner?  Seems a little too predictable, if you ask me. 

If you're keeping track of these things, we're up to episode five of Downton Abbey and our paint and plywood project is going smashingly.  It's been a busy week, but we're squeezing in the important things. 

The temperatures are supposed to climb over 100 here by the end of the week.  Friday may find me blogging from our pool

Monday, June 25, 2012

summertime and the livin' is easy

Well, the first official weekend of summer was H.O.T.  We spent mornings and evenings in the yard and saved our air-conditioned activities for the middle of the day.  We're not big on television, but there is something about oppressive heat that makes me want to sit still for a few minutes, inside.  We signed up for a free one week Hulu Plus trial and are plowing our way through season one of Downton Abbey before it runs out. 

Yesterday we spent a delightful afternoon with Sara, my college roommate, and her family.  For lunch, we went to Mert's Heart and Soul Restaurant and ate food that made me proud to be a southerner.  Our table was loaded with cornbread, red beans and rice, chopped barbecue, okra, and collard greens.  I don't even like collard greens and I was eating these like they were my last meal. 

Sara and I were not just roommates in the traditional sense.  You may be picturing a cookie-cutter college apartment with several bedrooms and thinking that we each lived in one and saw each other in the hallway or kitchen from time to time.  No, pumpkin, no. 

Calling Sara my "roommate" is something akin to calling another soldier in your platoon your "buddy".  We spent two years together in a basement apartment, sharing both a bedroom and a bathroom.  Not just the two of us, either.  We had a third cohort, sharing the same rooms as well.  We battled floods, freezes, animals that sneak inside, bugs that can leap three feat in a single bound, mold, a leaky water heater, and there may have been more than one occasion where we snuck out a window. 

Needless to say, we've formed a lifelong bond.  It was so great to see her. 

At Mert's, the waitstaff parade around with cakes on platters, making you wish you'd eaten a little less barbecue.  Or had a bigger stomach. 

Steve and I managed to resist the cake in favor of the dessert waiting for us at home later- homemade cream cheese ice cream with berries.  It looked like the fourth of July and tasted like a birthday.  We scraped our bowls clean during episode three and declared the weekend a success. 

I'm feeling energized to get back to work this morning, which is a darn good thing.  After congratulating myself on completing 38 zipper pouches last week, today I find that I need to make 25 more.  When it rains, it pours!

Friday, June 22, 2012

tag, you're it

Sometimes, when people come to visit, we put them to work.  You know- thank you for coming, now help me get this bird's nest out of the attic, let's pick out 17 silver frames from 8 different stores, we need to turn 100 little cards into tags with grommets and string, type work. 

Lucky Mom, she got to tie the strings.  She became quite good at it too. 

Steve set the grommets (a very loud process involving much hammering) and Mom attached the string and I was in charge of choosing the colors of both. 

The cards are MiniCards from  Aren't they sweet?  The paper quality is amazing- nice and sturdy with a smooth finish.  You can print your message on one side and then have up to 100 different colors or pictures on the other!  MOO has so many cool business card and printing options that I know I'll be using them again- plus my cards arrived five days after I ordered them!  If you're interested in trying anything from MOO, click here for a 10% off coupon

Now that I have so many tags, I have been hard at work on the products to attach them too.  Yesterday I glued myself to the sewing machine and today will look very much the same.  I'm trying to finish everything by tonight so that we can enjoy a relaxing weekend.  On the agenda: haircut, homemade pizza, visiting old friends, and potentially an ambitious craft project involving plywood and paint.  Hope your weekend is equally fun! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

summer mantle

Saturday's fun with the newest party banner got me in the mood to decorate the house for summertime.  Even though I feel like I'm "late", summer officially starts this week, so I'd say I'm right on time, yes?  (The Easter eggs in the dining room could have something to do with my feelings of seasonal incorrectness.)

Normally it takes me close to a week to work up a mantle design that I feel happy with, but yesterday I found some amazing summer mantle inspiration at The Lettered Cottage and got straight to work. 

My theme colors were red, white, and blue (duh), so I did my usual "shop the house" for anything in those colors that I could use.  I came up with a stack of books, some red and white candles, and a red glass pitcher and bowl. 

And then, of course, I wanted a summer vacation feel, so I pulled out the seashells that we found at the beach, some garden twine, the remaining burlap, and a few striped fabric scraps.  I also plugged in the hot glue gun, because I'm pretty sure that hot glue is the solution to almost any decorating question. 

The part that I am the most proud of though is the sailboat.  After looking at lots of other mantle pictures and seeing cool sailboats, I decided I had what it took to make my own.  I used some sticks from the yard and hot glued them together, then cut the fabric to fit and glued it to the back of the sticks.  It probably only took me about half an hour, total. 

Now that the mantle is done, I'm itching to make a wreath for the front door.  I'm thinking something like this one

Tonight is the first summer sewing class session and I can hardly wait for everyone to get here! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

we'll decorate for your wedding, even if you don't ask us to

We had the loveliest weekend with my mom.  The weather couldn't have been better and we spent 90% of our waking hours outside.  We took Mom to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens for the first time and I think she loved it as much as we hoped she would. 

As no trip to the gardens is complete without a party banner, we brought the newest one along with us.  The White Garden (our favorite spot) happened to be set up for a wedding, so we got some super cool pictures there.  A man walked by and asked if we were part of the wedding, (a legitimate question, since we were actually decorating the space at the time) and we said no.  He seemed a little confused. 

Steve and I always get really inspired to work on our own yard when we visit a big garden and it affected Mom the same way.  It's so pleasant there, you just want to take it home with you. 

I mean, literally, I wanted to take it home with me.  I kept wishing there was a (legal) way that I could take cuttings from some of their plants and root them at home.  You know I've been having great luck with rooting cuttings and they had so many varieties of flowers that I can't find in a store!

The whole weekend went by in a blur of flowers and coconut macaroons and sitting on the patio and frozen yogurt.  It was over way too fast. 

Today, among other tasks, I am making room in the cabinets for my birthday gift from Mom- a beautiful set of monogrammed glasses, plus a matching pitcher. 

Later this week I'll show you pictures of the project that the three of us worked on over the weekend- some new product tags!  They are so cute that I am tempted to start tagging everything in the house, just for fun. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

how to stretch your food dollars

If you have a bit of time and are into saving money, this post is for you. 

When I realized yesterday that I had taken a $4.88 chicken, added about $7 in other ingredients, and made roughly 16 meals, I knew I had to share the news. 

I bought the chicken last week to roast and have on hand for Steve's lunch.  Here's how I like to roast a chicken:

- place the chicken, breast side up, in a cast iron skillet
- cut one lemon in half and stuff inside the chicken.  Go ahead and throw in a few garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary too
- rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil
- rub a few smashed garlic cloves over the skin, then sprinkle with salt and pepper
- stick some rosemary stalks under the skin
- roast the chicken at 450 for 30 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 and bake for one hour

We enjoyed the chicken for several days- it's great on its own, or in sandwiches.  Once we had gotten all the meat we wanted, I made chicken stock with the rest of it.  Here's how I made stock:

- put the chicken in a large pot
- add salt, black peppercorns, fresh parsley, bay leaves, and onion.  Feel free to add any other vegetables or herb you have on hand
- fill the pot with water so that everything is covered and put a lid on it
- cook over medium heat for about two hours.  You will have much less water than you started with. 
- strain out the solids (I just pour it through a colander) and let the liquid cool in the refrigerator
- once cool, scoop off the fat on top with a spoon

 Usually, I put the stock in jars and freeze it at this point, but this week I went straight into soup making mode.  I made a big pot of lentil soup to use for lunches and will probably freeze half of it for a later date.  Want to make lentil soup?  It's super easy:

- in a large pot, combine 2 cups stock, one chopped carrot, one chopped celery stalk, 1/2 cup dried lentils, 1/2 diced onion, 1 minced clove of garlic. 
- simmer until veggies and lentils are tender
- scoop into a blender and blend it up (this step adds some thickness to your broth for later on)
- return blended soup to pot
- add 8 cups liquid (I just use as much stock as I have and then add water to get up to 8 cups)
- add lots of chopped vegetables (I used carrots, onion, radishes, celery, garlic)
- season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes (again, this is really up to you.  Just use what you have.)
- add a splash of balsamic vinegar
- simmer over medium heat until everything is tender (usually takes about an hour or so)

Lentil soup is very hearty and super healthy!  And even though both roasting a chicken and making stock and soup take time, they are the kind of cooking where you can leave them alone for an hour or more while you do other things.  Plus they make the whole house smell amazing!  I don't normally make soup in the summer, but it hasn't been too hot here yet, so it's been fine.  I try to cook in the morning when the house is the coolest. 

Do you have any big plans for the weekend?  My mom is coming and we're so excited to see her!  We have a long list of fun things we want to do and I can't wait to get started.  Hope your weekend is a happy one!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

letter to our old range

Our goodbye today was quicker than I anticipated.  Those delivery guys sure know how to move appliances around efficiently.  I didn't even get to watch you go out the front door, as I was too busy vacuuming the spot where you'd been (#compulsivecleaner). 

I don't want you to think that our parting was personal.  You did the best you could.  Together, we made gallons and gallons of soup.  We baked turkeys and hams and cakes and pies.  Last winter, we roasted chestnuts more times than I can count. 

You had your quirks, but I had learned to live with them.  I knew that your back was hotter than your front and therefore I would need to flip everything around halfway through baking so that one side didn't get charred. 

I tried so hard to keep your darn drip trays clean, but it seems like you needed new ones every year.  And somehow, even though we'd tried to remember, we always ended up buying the wrong size or the wrong brand and having to return them at least once before we got a good fit. 

Not to make comparisons, but the new range doesn't need drip trays.  It just has this shiny, wipable surface with things like a warming zone and speed heat and adjustable burner sizes.  Speed heat?!  I don't even really know what it's for, but gosh does it sound exciting. 

The new range is so big on the inside that I could bake a turkey AND sweet potatoes at the same time.  And I'm not trying to brag, but I could probably fit the stuffing in with them. 

It has this large front window so that you can actually see what you're baking without opening the door.  You know I've read that opening the oven door lets out a lot of heat?  Sad, but true.  Now I can watch our dinner bake like it's a TV show. 

Incidentally, when you do decide to open the door, the light automatically comes on.  I know- it's like an oven of the future!

So really, there's no need to feel bad.  It is an oven of the future.  It's  21st century appliance and I'll admit it- I'm smitten.  I've never had a 21st century appliance before.  I'll bet the refrigerator and dishwasher are feeling real nervous right about now.  (Don't say anything yet, but the dishwasher is actually being let go next Monday.  Maybe you guys can meet up.)

We had a good run.  Farewell, old friend. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ankle deep

Good morning, friends!  Yesterday got away from me and before I knew it I was ankle deep in a pile of fabric scraps and it was 5:00 and I hadn't blogged yet. 

Sometimes my weeks end up being heavy on sewing work and other times they are heavy on administrative and planning work.  This week is shaping up to be heavy on... both.

I finished this farmer's market tote for a very environmentally conscious three year old and shipped it out.  I had actually packaged it up and done everything short of taping the box closed when I remembered to pull it back out and get a few pictures. 

I always feel sad when I made something- especially if it's a custom design- and then forget to photograph it.  I really enjoy having a photo diary of every item I've made- kind of like a sewing yearbook. 

Last week, I noticed that there are only a few party kits left in the shop, so I decided that a new 4th of July fabric bunting was in order.  Fabric buntings are one of my favorite things to make because they are a great way to use up fabric scraps and cutting all those little triangles (120!) is sort of meditative. 

I'm super excited about some of the changes that will be occurring in the shop this summer!  Some older items will be moving out to make room for new designs and prints.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on the progress! 

Now I'm headed back to the ironing board with hopes of crossing lots of items off my list for the day.  It's rainy and for some reason I'm usually super productive when it rains- strange, but true.

Friday, June 08, 2012

fly me to the moon

If you stopped by to see pictures of the zipper pouches, this is going to be a disappointing day for you. 

Unless you happen to like old planes.  Then you're in for a real treat. 

I haven't had a chance to take pictures of everything I've been working on this week, but I did realize this morning that I never shared our trip to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.  We went two weeks ago, as a sort of vacation kick-off.  Steve had been dying to check it out and they had some cool old planes visiting for a few days, so the timing worked out just right. 

The museum itself is made up of a gift shop and about fifteen planes in a hanger.  I think that if there hadn't been a special event going on it would have been pretty anti-climatic. 

But- outside the museum, you could check out the only flying B-29 in the world and one of the only two flying B-24s in the world.  And if you're into planes, that would be very exciting to you.  There were lots of boy scout troops there.  And very old men. 

Personally, I thought it was hilarious that the planes are named "Fifi" and "Diamond Lil" and have pictures of scantily clad women painted on them.  No wonder there were so many boy scouts and old men wandering around. 

You could even pay a little extra and go inside the planes, which Steve did.  I sat outside on the ground with an elderly lady who announced that she hadn't seen her husband in over an hour and she wondered if he had forgotten he brought her with him and gone home without her. 

Although I am nowhere close to being an airplane enthusiast, I will say that the planes were pretty cool.  And Steve had so much fun that I was really glad we went. 

Is anyone else more than ready for a weekend?  I'm trying to get as much done as possible today so that tomorrow I can get back to lounge chair mode.  Hope your weekend plans include some lounging too!

ps- did you notice that registration is open for summer sewing classes?  Only a few more days to sign up!


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