Friday, August 31, 2012


There are so many great things about Steve working from home, one of which is that there are always plenty of pictures for my blog.  It's like I have my own, personal papparazzi during the day as I sew and iron, sew and iron. 

It was actually a little shocking to see how many different times he caught me doing those two things, with different fabrics, in different rooms. 

But now- the sewing is complete!  At least until next week when we're back home and I have a whole new list of projects to tackle.  But for the next few days, there will be no sewing, only visiting and merry-making and showing off our hard work.  It will be the reward for aching shoulders and ironing after 9pm and eating barbeque chicken for a whole week because there's no time to cook

Next week, I'll be excited to share more about the local fabrics we've been designing and I'm totally open to suggestions for more locations.  Think about where you live.  Think about where you're from.  Think about the look on your relative's faces when they open their very own "Shelbyville, Illinois" tote bag on Christmas morning.  I'm just saying- we're leaving no small town behind. 

Choosing color palettes is one of the most fun things about designing fabric and we have pinned our huge color guide right up in the living room for inspiration.  I kind of want to upholster something with it, it's so cool. 

I can't wait to tell you all about our visitors, our weekend, and, most importantly, if it was cool enough to wear a scarf.  Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend- I'll meet you back here on Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

We're expecting two cars full of house guests to show up later today and I've already started preparing vast quantities of food.  I always prepare tons of food for guests, but my brother and his friends seem to require a bit extra.  We can hardly wait for them to get here- it's been a year since their last visit.  Way too long, if you ask me. 

Working in order of importance, I made the dessert first.  I love dessert.  LOVE it.  I come by it honestly though- my mom is a pretty big dessert fan too. 

When I saw this recipe in the September issue of Southern Living that arrived this week, I knew immediately that I had to make it in honor of our guests.  Mainly because if I made it during a week we weren't having guests, Steve and I might eat the whole batch. 

 I've adapted the recipe a bit from the original to make it gluten free.  We've been experimenting with gluten-free eating this summer and, as Natalie pointed out, it's difficult to find gluten free desserts.  We've mainly been making ice cream and sorbet (and I'm not complaining), plus I've perfected some flourless brownies.  This is the first regular recipe that I've converted to use non-wheat flours and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I think it worked well because flour is such a  small part of the recipe.  I'll give you the regular instructions too, since most people don't have rice flour laying around the house. 

German Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars
3 cups pecan halves and pieces
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup almond flour, 3/4 cup white rice flour)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate (or chocolate chips)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup melted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1- Preheat oven to 350.  Bake pecans in a single layer 8-10 minutes, stirring once.
2- Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with aluminum foil and grease foil.
3- Combine flour and next three ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal (use a pastry blender or food processor).  Press mixture on bottom and 3/4" up the sides of prepared pan.
4- Bake crust for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate.  Cool completely on wire rack, about 30 minutes.
5- Whisk together brown sugar and next three ingredients until smooth.  Stir in coconut and pecans and spoon into crust.
6- Bake for 25-30 minutes until set.  Cool on wire rack 1 hour, then chill 1 hour before cutting bars. 

We had to sample the bars last night before they were quite cool enough to cut (obviously) and they were delicious.  I can't wait to try them again. 
Today, aside from cooking, we're putting the final touches on everything for the trunk show and wondering how we're going to fit everything in the car! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

trunk show

Well, here we are again.  You, stopping by my blog to see what's new.  Me, holding fourteen bags on one arm while Steve takes pictures. 
The end of the ceaseless bag-making is actually in sight though, as we leave for our very first trunk show in three days and I can't sew in the car. 
What's a trunk show?  How nice of you to ask!  A trunk show is where a designer packs up all their merchandise and presents it directly to specific customers.  In this case, we'll be showcasing at On a Whim in Blacksburg, Virginia, this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Come one, come all!

Hence the name, people used to pack their wares in large trunks, but I am using baskets and galvanized tubs because we are fresh out of trunks. 
I'm so excited for so many reasons.  As you know, I've been sewing pretty much non-stop this month to get everything ready.  We'll be debuting four different designs of Blacksburg themed fabric that are super cute, if I do say so myself.  We'll also have the usual bags, baby gifts, zipper pouches, and so on, plus tons of new cotton voile and jersey knit scarves just in time for fall! 

My dream is that it will be cool enough for me to actually wear one of the new scarves while we're there.  Yes, I am one of those people who wishes the end of summer away.  Sorry. 

Joining me at the homestead this week is my favorite work-from-home buddy- Steve!  He set up a work station between my two sewing spots and is pleasantly clicking away at his keyboard.  Also, we got to eat lunch together.  Dreamy. 
Let's share recipes on Wednesday, shall we?  I need to talk about something other than sewing for a minute or two. 

Friday, August 24, 2012


Today got away from me in a major way.  It seems like just an hour ago that Steve left for work and I started attaching handles. 

I still have a pile left to complete, but am definitely more done than not.  There are bags hanging from every doorknob and chair, and some stacked up on the ironing board. 

This weekend?  We're making tags, figuring out display furniture, and probably sewing on more handles.  Hope your weekend is a bit more relaxing!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

happy cariversary

Well, we made it!  Today marks one full year of car sharing!  In honor of the big day, I'd like to thank some of the people who made this milestone possible:

First and foremost- Steve.  He's just so darn easy to share with. 

The Charlotte Area Transit System.  On days that I need the car, I drop Steve at the light rail station in the morning and he rides the train into the city for work.  Then he calls when he's coming home and I head back to the station to pick him up. 

Our out-of-town family and friends.  You know who you are.  You know that we plan oil changes and other car maintenance around your visits so that we can make use of your wheels. 

Our local friends, who are always such good sports about coming to pick me up, meeting at our house, or running me to the fabric store. 

Our mail lady.  At least once a week, she leaves a big box of fabric on the front porch for me.  At least twice a week, I leave boxes of finished products for her to take away to their new homes.  It's a great system we have, she and I.  The other day I chuckled to myself and thought, "She's my most valuable employee and she doesn't even know it."  I'll have to give her a nice Christmas bonus. 

So we're feeling pretty celebratory.  Steve took some victory jumps in front of the car this morning before he left for work. (This just confirmed what I have long suspected- Steve really is the most fun person to be married to.)  At this point, we still don't have plans to purchase another vehicle and are just going to keep doing what we've been doing.  If it ain't broke...
I've been sewing up a storm this week and neglecting lots of other stuff.  Except for yesterday actually, when, like a true Renaissance woman, I simultaneously made soup and mowed the lawn.  I was pretty proud and looking forward to soup for lunch today is a perfect reward for my hard work. 
Tomorrow I'll be back to share a few peeks of what I've been working on!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Davidson adventure

This week has been crazy already, and it's only Tuesday morning!  Yesterday, I had the car and ran around almost non-stop to get everything done in one day. 

Thankfully, at least some of my running around was of the fun variety.  My friend, Star, and I went up to Davidson to drop off some more items at The Sanctuary.  It was so much fun to see things that I've made displayed right there in a store for everyone to see! 

Before we dropped them off, I wanted to get a few pictures of the totes that I finished last week.  Here's one of the great things about Star: if I hand her a bag and say "Here, pose with this," she really poses.  What a good sport. 

The bags I was dropping off are part of the big fabric design project that Steve and I have been working on this month.  I'll be sharing more about this later, once I have a few more samples sewn up. 

 After finishing the business portion of the trip, we walked around the Davidson College campus for a bit and ended up back downtown for lunch.  Going out to lunch is a rare treat for me and it was a great reprieve in the middle of a busy day. 

Although I've been to Davidson numerous times, I always find something new there.  And it's fun to show off a favorite place to someone else- Star had never been before!  There are lots of cool art installations around town and the campus is just beautiful. 

Today, I am thankful to be at home, plowing through my list of things to finish by the end of the month.  I just ordered some fabric for a project I need to deliver by the 30th.  Ambitious?  Yes.  Impossible?  Perhaps.  I like to give myself a little challenge every now and then. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

life is like a lemonade stand

Earlier this week, I passed a lemonade stand while driving through a neighborhood.  A lemonade stand!  I don't know how long it's been since I've seen one.  I didn't even know kids did things like set up lemonade stands anymore.  I thought they were all too busy texting. 

Of course, I had to stop.  I could see them all sit up a little straighter as I slowed the car down.  By the time I'd pulled over, they were at the passenger window.

"We're selling lemonade!"

"It's only twenty-five cents!!"


"Would you like one cup or two?!?!"

Their shrill little excited voices got louder and louder as they tried to talk over each other. 

I bought one cup, but paid for two, and got back in the car.  They waved and yelled goodbye and waved some more as I pulled off with my plastic cup, half full of pink lemonade and grass clippings. 

I know exactly how they were feeling. 

 I am thrilled every. single. time. somebody buys something that I've made.  It's just so gratifying.  I think we all feel that way when someone appreciates what we have to offer- whether it be lemonade or tote bags or a hot meal or a listening ear.  It's great to feel validated in our efforts, no matter how old you are. 

My efforts today include more sewing and lots of food preparations for the weekend ahead.  We have houseguests coming (yea!) and are expecting beautiful weather as well!  Hope your weekend is a happy one!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

fun to eat

A while back, while we were in Virginia, we stumbled across some dark chocolate peanut butter.  And by "stumbled", I mean that I was at the local Kroger (I miss you, Kroger!) looking for peanut butter and saw the dark chocolate kind and went running to find Steve to ask if we could please, please get it. 

So we did, and we ate it with apples and ginger snaps and just off of a spoon, if we had to, and then we left the jar with my mom who loved it as much as we did. 

Once we were home, I set out to find the magical peanut butter once again.  I finally hit the jackpot last week at Target.  Way to go, Target!  (Apparently this is a day where I speak to stores as if they were people.  Just go with it.)  I got some more dark chocolate and also picked up a jar of the white chocolate, which came highly recommended. 

It is so, so good.  It's all natural and there's not even that much sugar in it.  I have stirred it into my yogurt for a swoon-worthy treat.  I can't even pick a favorite flavor because they are both so satisfying. 

Peanut Butter & Co. is a sandwich shop in New York that makes, among other things, wonderful peanut butter.  Their website lists at least four other flavors I'd like to try (Christmas gift idea, anyone?).  At first, I thought that the packaging was a little cheesy.  It says things like "try me with bananas" and "fun to eat".  But the other day, as I happily munched on my apple slice with a bit of heaven on it, I thought to myself, "It's true- it really is fun to eat..."

Well, enough about peanut butter- on to other important things.  Like how sometimes Steve brings the Wall Street Journal home from work and we sit on the sofa and read the paper together in the evening.  Like two old men. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

peace in my heart, peace in my soul

Happy Monday, friends!  Did you have a nice weekend?  We sure did. 

We ate delicious meals- with friends, at restaurants, and, once, out of the back of the car like we were tailgating. 

There was a brief moment on Saturday when I lost track of time.  Does that ever happen to you?  I don't mean like you thought it was only 3pm and really it's closer to 5, I'm talking serious time.  Years, even.  We were in the car with the music cranked up and I was surrounded by people who have been a part of my life for years.  Years upon years.  And, for just a second, it was unclear to me if I was 18 or 32 or somewhere in between.  It didn't matter.  It never does, with them.  The years bring marriage and relocation and babies and job change and our friendship just grows sweeter. 

Yesterday, Steve and I were discussing kindness and we were talking about how nobody ever looks back and says, "I wish I'd been less kind."  I've been mulling it over today and thinking how that principle applies to so many things- generosity, patience, honesty.  I want the peace that comes with treating others well.   

It's been a peaceful day around the home front- lots of laundry, plus nine checkbook covers, five market totes, several yards of fabric ribbon and fish tacos on the menu for dinner.  I can't wait for my dinner partner to get home!      

Friday, August 10, 2012

(cook)book review: La Tartine Gourmande

As someone who loves to cook and eat (shocking, I know!), I find La Tartine Gourmande to be the best kind of cookbook. 

First off, it arrived in the mail last week as a surprise, "just because", gift from my mom.  How awesome is that?  I made a mental note to send more "just because" gifts- what a way to brighten up a regular day. 

Then, there's the photography.  All the pictures are styled and taken by the author herself and they are just gorgeous!  I consider this a coffee table book- something lovely for guests to flip through if they have a spare minute.  I'm a huge fan of recipes with pictures and there is a picture for every last recipe. 

There are also pictures of flowers and the author's chubby cheeked daughter, Lulu, which I consider an added bonus. 

Right about now, you may be thinking that this is the strangest cookbook review you've ever read, since I've said nothing about the actual recipes.  So we'll get to that-

The recipes are lovely.  They involve lots of fresh produce and herbs and whole grains.  Most of them also happen to be gluten-free, but I would not characterize this as a "gluten-free cookbook".  Do you know what I mean?  It's a great cookbook, and most recipes don't include wheat products.  That's all. 

Beatrice, the author, is from France, so there is a definite French influence, but she is so well traveled and currently lives in the US, so I wouldn't call it a "French cookbook".  She also writes a blog full of recipes that I'm sure I will find myself checking compulsively. 

Aside from the recipes, I love the way she talks about food and meal time.  The book includes lots of stories about the food she makes or her childhood memories or family traditions and, to me, that is what makes recipes really special.  The story behind them. 

Beatrice shares my views on many things food related- like never skipping meals, planning ahead, taking food with you on vacation, and the magic of dessert.  I'm pretty sure we could be friends. 

We tried Lemon Honey-Flavored Chicken with tomatoes and green beans this week.  It was really good.  At first, I thought the chicken didn't have enough flavor, but as the meal went on I was able to taste more of the marinade and appreciate the sweetness of the baked tomatoes.  Aside from taste, it was also easy to make and made enough for at least six servings.  I've got my eye on the banana, chocolate, and hazelnut muffins next.  My mouth is actually watering as I type this. 

Hope your weekend is filled with delicious food!  We're hanging out with some favorite friends and I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Recently, I felt like Rumpelstiltskin.  Does that ever happen to you? 

You know- you're sitting in your sewing chair with the machine whirring along and three big spools of gold thread whipping around in circles and all of a sudden you think "I'm spinning gold!". 

No?  Just me? 

At first, I thought that I may be Rapunzel, but after mulling that over for a few minutes I realized that she's the one with the hair.  I'm sure they get mistaken for each other a lot though, what with the tricky "R" names. 

I've got sewing on the brain, pretty much all the time these days (except for when I'm mixing up fairy tale characters).  I talked to my sister on the phone this morning for at least 30 straight minutes about nothing but business until I finally realized what I was doing, apologized, and asked what was new with her. 

When Steve gets home from work, I try to give him a few minutes of down time before I explode with questions and new ideas and things I need his help with.  Mostly involving fabric design, these days.  You can see one of our Charlotte themed designs in the picture above- super exciting! 

I made some headway on the 100 handle goal yesterday- I finished 33 before I ran out of both wool and gray thread and my neck was stuck at a weird angle.  Today will be spent restocking supplies and plowing onward.  I'm also trying my very first recipe from the new cookbook.  I'll do a full book review on Friday, so stop in if you like that sort of thing. 


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