Wednesday, October 31, 2012

new office: the big picture

It was only after we were more than halfway done that I realized I never took any "before" pictures.  So to help you with a quick visual- "before" looked like a living room, with all my sewing machines on an old dining table and some plastic storage drawers underneath.  All of my fabric was upstairs.  My shipping supplies were divided between three different rooms.  We were totally making it work, but it was not super efficient. 
When I started dreaming up the perfect office, my first desire was a long desk where I could have both of my machines, and the computer, and not have to constantly be sliding them around to get to what I needed.  We bought the two black desks at Ikea and placed them end to end and they are the perfect size.  Plus they each have a pretty large drawer where I can keep scissors, needles, and other necessary items.  The tall gray and white storage bins under the desk are from TJMaxx and hold pillow forms and stuffing. 
Aside from a place to sew, I need a lot of storage space.  Since my office is actually our living room and the first room you see when you enter our house, it was really important to me that things be stored attractively.  We bought two floating wall shelves, also from Ikea, to house my sewing books, patterns, ribbon, and scrap fabric.  I used baskets and glass containers from around the house, plus some new paper covered boxes.  The chair is from World Market and gets moved around from one desk to the other right now.  Eventually, I plan to get a stool as well, but I'm still looking for the perfect one. 
 My old sewing table has become the cutting table and to say that I love not having to crawl around on the floor to cut anymore would be a huge understatement.  You can see my trusty thread organizer above the cutting table, and a nice big basket underneath.  The basket houses all my shipping boxes and envelopes and is from TJMaxx. 
Also from TJMaxx- the cool storage ottoman.  We traded our coffee table for a storage ottoman to get more hidden storage, plus another seat if we need one.  The top is made up of two pieces that can flip over to either be plush upholstery or a hard surface. 
To the left of the sewing table is the new bookcase where I store most of my fabric and finished projects.  It too is from Ikea.  I promise we only made two trips.  I wanted my fabric to be out of sight, so I made curtains for the glass doors.  The drawers house my shipping supplies, embroidery supplies, and lots of other odds and ends.  We kept the sofa because I didn't want to part with it.  Also, it's nice to have a sofa in my office. 
On Friday, I'll share some more pictures and tell you about some of the ways I added color to the space. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

office preview

We're traveling home today from a trip to Virginia, but I wanted to stop in and say Happy Monday!  I'm planning to share some pictures of my new sewing space this week (finally!), so here is a little preview.

I'll be back soon with lots of pictures, plus all my sources (there were a few items not purchased at Ikea) and a few project ideas.  To be perfectly honest, I'm still hunting for a clock and some lamps, but if I wait until I find every last item to show off the space, it may be next year!

Friday, October 26, 2012

feeling lucky

I don't enter a lot of blog giveaways.  But occasionally, there will be something that I'd love to have so much that I'm willing to put forth the extra effort to leave a comment and hope for the best. 
Here's the other thing: I almost always forget that I've entered.  Because I'm not really expecting to win, I suppose. 

So when I found out that I was the big winner of the velvet pumpkin giveaway on The Lettered Cottage, I was properly shocked.  Shocked and thrilled! 
I'd seen these amazing pumpkins from LoveFeast Table on several blogs this fall and was struck with how elegant they are.  The colors are perfect and the natural stems are awesome- where do they find all those stems?!
The pumpkins arrived this week (all six of them!) and it was a bit like Christmas.  I dug through the packing peanuts, pulling out beauty after beauty and when Steve and I tried to pick a favorite color, we just couldn't.  Every color is my favorite. 
So far, I've moved them to three different spots in the house.  I want to be able to see them at all times, so I'm looking for the perfect location.  And you can consider this your warning- if you come over around Christmas, there may still be pumpkins out. 
Hope you have a pumpkin-filled weekend! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

King's Drive Farmer's Market

Recently, we visited the King's Drive Farmer's Market for the first time.  It is not the closest farmer's market to our house, but we were in the area and thought we'd stop in. 
The mums there were amazing and I had to restrain myself from buying them all. 
I thought that the produce selection was pretty great.  Lots of variety, however it was difficult to tell how local some items are.  But the prices were good, and often that is my main motivation for buying from a market versus the grocery store. 
As an exciting added bonus, they had about a million pumpkins!  We had already gotten pumpkins for the front porch, but were really interested in some of the gourds. 
We brought home one of these cute pear-shaped gourds.  I love that they all still have their stems attached. 
The farmer's market is right across the street from the Little Sugar Creek Greenway, so we were able to take a walk when we were done browsing. 
Today I'm cutting leather and flannel and dreaming of a fire in the fireplace- it won't be long now!

Monday, October 22, 2012

good sports

Saturday was Full.  We had an ambitious to-do list and somehow managed to make it through every last item and have a little fun as well. 
We started the day before the sun came up with a yard sale.  I consider it a total success for the following reasons:
We did almost no prep work.
We invited our neighbors to sell stuff too, and they did, and we got to hang out with them into the bargain.
When it was over, we did not have a single thing left.  You heard me.  No final trip to Goodwill, even.  A family who had stopped by previously came back at the end and we sent them with everything.  What a deal. 

As if hosting a successful yard sale wasn't enough, we spent the afternoon running errands, taking shop photos, and digging through huge bins of fabric scraps. 

I just need to stop for a minute and say that Steve and Cameron are such good sports.  Steve spent the better part of the afternoon wearing a blazer and wool scarf and sweating it out while I took pictures of him.  Cameron flew all the way down here to help with our yard sale and at one point during the fabric dig, there may have been more of her in the bin than out of it.  I sure am lucky to have those two.

Thankfully, Sunday was way less eventful.  Our lounge chairs got some heavy use, which always makes for a good day.  I think that a busy day followed by a day of rest is the perfect weekend formula. 

Today, I am so excited to get full-steam-ahead started on my new fall/winter product line!  I showed a sneak preview of it here and the new men's scarves are also a part of it, but I have several new patterns that I'm trying out with lots of leather accents on everything!  My goal is to have everything finished by November 3rd (for the first Plumfield Party of the season!) and posted in the shop the following week. 
ps- It's not too late to schedule your very own Plumfield Party!  Let me know if you're interested in having a ton of fun and getting some free products!

Friday, October 19, 2012

airport overlook

Did you know that one of the things we love about Charlotte is the airport?  I'm not even joking- Charlotte has a fantastic airport.  It is big enough to have tons of flights, but somehow never seems overwhelming.  AND there is a short term parking deck where you can park for under 30 minutes for free!  It's perfect for running inside to surprise someone at baggage claim. 
As many times as we've been to the airport here, last week was the first time we had been to the airport overlook.  We went around 6pm, which is a really busy time for flights, and watched tons of planes take off and a few land.  I always find myself holding my breath during the landing- even if I'm not on the plane!
One thing we were surprised by was the number of people there.  The parking lot was pretty full and there were lots of families- some with picnics- hanging out to watch the planes. 
I couldn't believe that they used the same runway for take offs and landings.  I counted 40 seconds between one plane leaving and another one touching down in the exact same spot.  It made me nervous just watching how close they were!
Speaking of the airport, I'm on my way there right now to pick up my sister.  We're always so excited to have her here and I can't wait to get started on our weekend.  Hope yours is lovely!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

food notes

Every summer, I think about how much I love summer food.  Fresh fruit.  Fresh veggies.  Grilled meat.  It doesn't take much to make a fantastic meal in the summertime. 
But then, fall arrives, and I remember- I love all food.  I start making soup and bubbling casseroles and drinking hot beverages almost every day.  We've had some especially great meals lately and I wanted to give you a few recipes to try out, if you're on the hunt for something new. 

A few weekends ago, we made portobello burgers with spicy mayo.  I appreciate a good, beefy, burger as much as the next American, but these were really something to write home about.  The mushrooms had a wonderful flavor and the spicy sauce was just right.  We served them with slices of Havarti, spinach, and tomatoes.  I love to have a few really filling and delicious vegetarian meals under my belt. 

This next one is not vegetarian.  I guess it could be, if you left out the pound of meat, but I think the recipe would be the poorer for it.  The recipe calls it eggplant parmesan, but I'd say it's closer to eggplant lasagna.  It is gluten free, which is handy, but you could certainly use regular old wheat flour if you don't mind a bit of gluten.  The eggplant slices are lightly fried before layering up with a meaty sauce and tons of cheese and then baking together to form a perfect marriage of yum.  That is my unbiased opinion, after eating this for four days straight.  We were so sad when it was gone. 

And then these: crash hot potatoes.  Declared during dinner by both Steve and myself to be "better than candy".  They were so easy to make and wonderful to eat that they are on the menu again this week.  I made one batch in a glass Pyrex dish and one in the cast iron skillet.  As you can probably imagine, the skillet won.  But that doesn't mean the Pyrex ones didn't get eaten up just as fast, so don't fret if you don't have a skillet. 
Incidentally, we also created a new Starbucks drink last week.  It's called a White Pumpkin- half the usual pumpkin syrup, half white chocolate.  You could go into your nearest Starbucks and ask for a White Pumpkin, but they may need to be coached through exactly what that is.  So help a barista out, and then sit down to enjoy a hot cup of fall goodness.  You're welcome. 
Happy eating!

Monday, October 15, 2012

the comfort of fall

Good morning, friends!  How was your weekend? 
Ours was great.  We did a ton of fall yard chores on Saturday and it felt so good to be out in the sunshine.  Time spent outdoors in the fall feels extra precious because I know that it won't be long before it gets cold. 

Yesterday, we met some friends for a picnic and then took a short hike.  It was the best kind of afternoon.  Fall makes me feel optimistic.

And with that, I have a confession to make: sometimes summer makes me really nervous.  I know, weird, right?  But for some reason, I feel like bad/tragic things happen when it's really hot outside.  At the end of every summer, I let out a sigh of relief like, "well, we made it through another one".  Kind of like how the elderly feel about winter, I imagine. 

Anyway, fall feels good to me.  Today is cloudy and we've already had a thunderstorm.  I'm burning one of our new fall candles and settling in to work on my list of custom orders.  I'm wearing my slippers and thinking about how nice a cup of tea would be. 

Hope you're enjoying fall right where you are too. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

leather and wool

I've been dying to show you this bag.  Actually, I've been dying to show anyone this bag, but I don't get out a lot.  The whole car-sharing thing, you know? 
I might be in love with leather.  I mean, I'm in love with Steve, but good grief I had no idea how amazing leather would be to work with. 
It makes everything better.  Much like Steve, actually. 
I digress.
I've been dreaming up this bag in my head for quite some time now.  It's what  I like to think about while I fall asleep.  Something I've found is that, if I've been thinking on a project for a while, when I actually sit down with it the sewing part goes very fast. 
Now that I've broken in my leather needle (yes, there really are leather needles), I can't stop thinking of what I might do next.  Discovering a new material is one of my favorite parts of making things. 
If you're wondering, that sexy looking chair that the bag is hanging on is my new desk chair.  I'll share more pictures of it when I do the big sewing space reveal, sometime very soon.  Soon-ish.  I've got a few more tweaks to make, but the end is in sight. 
I hope you have a fabulous weekend, friends!  If you see me around town, I'll be the one with the hot new bag. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Boulevard

One of the things that's been keeping us busy this month is our newest retail space at The Boulevard.  The Boulevard is an awesome boutique located in the South End area of Charlotte.  We have had such a great time over the past few months visiting the store and getting to know the owners- there is always something cool going on there!  At least twice when we've stopped by, there have been news cameras there, so you know it's a happening place. 

The Boulevard has a great mix of items- everything from clothing to home goods to jewelry to baby stuff.  They also have lots of awesome refinished furniture.  Most of the items are made by local artists (like me!), so everything is very unique. 

We stopped by earlier this week to drop off a few more items for my little display spot.  It's pretty surreal for me to see things I've made in a store.  I love it when I walk in and see someone checking out my stuff and I just get to watch them for a moment (is that creepy?  I promise I'm not creepy...). 

Another cool thing about retail is that I don't have to photograph everything I make!  It's so easy to just sew something up and drop it off at a store that it almost feels like cheating. 

Speaking of photographs, be sure to check out the new scarf pictures in the shop.  Every time we go somewhere, I try to wear a different scarf so that Steve can photograph it.  I've already sold out of a couple of colors, but there are still plenty of good ones left! 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

a chill in the air

We had such a full weekend.  In the best way.  Don't you just love weekends that are the perfect mix of relaxation and accomplishment? 
My mom came in for a night- something we'd been looking forward to all week.  We had an action packed day while she was here, but she is a champ and is usually up for anything.  Then, Sunday afternoon, my brother flew in and we got to spend a few hours with him before he headed off to his next destination. 
On Sunday, we also had an amazing business lunch with some new friends- Sabrina and Dana.  They both live here in Charlotte and run super successful Esty shops.  I was so happy to meet them and pick their brains and we came away with a task list and lots of great ideas! 

It's amazing to me how a season can sneak up on you literally overnight.  We spent most of Saturday wearing shorts and photographing butterflies, but by the time we finished dinner on Sunday, it was cold and blustery outside!
As a result of the change in weather, Steve and I kicked it into high-gear fall mode and stocked up on pumpkins over the weekend.  We also started burning pumpkin and cranberry candles AND pulled out our slippers. 

I've got lots to share this week, but at the moment find myself needing to move around the house to warm up.  The joys of fall! 

Friday, October 05, 2012

modular workbench

Last weekend, Steve drew up the plans to build these handy workbench/storage tables for our garage.  We wanted one long, narrow surface along the back of the garage, so we ended up making five tables that fit together.  It's great because they're easy to move around or reconfigure as needed. 

Each table is made from a combination of 2x4s, 1x1s, and plywood.  Four of the tables have a bottom shelf, but we left the shelf off the one at the end to accommodate the recycling bin. 

You can see that our flag has found a new home in the garage for the winter.  We still have to organize properly and put everything away, but I already love what the tables are doing for the space!  We're planning another garage sale in a few weeks- a great excuse to edit what we have and move things around. 
Today I'm finishing up a few odds and ends and looking forward to the long Columbus day weekend ahead.  We've got a few things planned and visitors on Saturday night, but I think that we will try to squeeze in a picnic and some relaxation on Monday!  I'll meet you back here on Tuesday with pictures!


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