Wednesday, January 29, 2014

painted vases and other decorating tricks

As I mentioned last week, I was working on a project for an event at our church.  I was in charge of decorating for a luncheon for about 70 people and, if you know me, you know that I take decorating seriously.  Also, my budget was super small, which I just viewed as an additional chance for creativity.  

To make a big impact for a small amount of money, I finally decided to buy as many glass vases as I could from Goodwill and paint the insides.  I wanted about three vases on each table.  

As always, Star was up for a challenge and ready to help, so she and Arthur and I spent a morning running around town collecting everything and then we painted during nap time.  We were both really thrilled with how the painted vases looked- by painting the inside, you still get that nice shiny glass look on the outside.  

I hit a bit of a snag when it came to filling the vases, as I couldn't find anything acceptable within my budget. But Steve was willing to brave the 20 degree weather to trim some branches off our pear trees and I braved the weather the next morning to cut the branches down to size and pack them in bags and together we got it done.  We always do.

I also made a few long table clothes and a few red checked table toppers and the whole thing ended up looking quite cheerful.  I decided, once again, that you really can never go wrong with red and white.  

We also bundled the silverware with strips of fabric to try to make it look a little less like cheap plastic silverware and a little more like "this is a party and we're glad you're here".  It's probably no surprise that to me, "party" equals "fabric".  

This is quite a busy week for us, with lots of out of the ordinary appointments and meetings and, hopefully, an exciting van full of visitors arriving at the end.  We also got some snow yesterday, which I know is old news to most of you, but is a huge event around here.  We're trying to enjoy it to the fullest and have already had two rounds of hot chocolate!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

spring bow tie preview: part 1

I didn't get around to blogging this week and you'll probably believe me when I tell you that there is a whole list of other things I also didn't get around to.  Phone calls.  Administrative work.  Most of the laundry.  

On the upside, I spent time with friends, time with Arthur, and I believe that Steve and I had at least two meaningful conversations.  I also posted half of the new spring bow ties in the shop.  I thought I'd share a few pictures here, in case you hadn't seen them yet.  As I mentioned before, I wanted to offer a full color spectrum of ties this spring and I love seeing them all together.  In fact, I have big plans for group photos once I finish sewing all the samples.  Sewing samples- one more thing I meant to do this week.  

But there's always next week!  I've also been working on a hospitality project for church that has taken up lots of time and brainpower, but I think will turn out smashingly.  We're putting it all together tomorrow and I'm sure that Steve will take lots of pictures for me so I can share.  

Today is freezing and we are drinking tea and simmering dinner in the crock pot and we even had a fire in the morning.   You know it's cold when we have a morning fire.  I think this afternoon will include making chex mix and maybe watching a movie.  I love a winter Saturday with nowhere to go!  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

in the bleak midwinter

One of my favorite Christmas carols is "In the Bleak Midwinter".  Do you know that one?  It is based on the poem by Christina Rossetti, and I find the words captivating and thought provoking.  

However- I always consider the middle of January the true "bleak midwinter".  There's usually nothing bleak about Christmas time, all lights and trees and cinnamon smells and fancy surprises.  But then January comes and the merriment wears off and we're left with cold days and dark nights and dry skin.  If you can believe it, it's the dry skin that really gets to me.  

These days, I'm looking hard for bright bits of life to cling to, like

- Piles of citrus fruit, everywhere I look.  I've given myself permission to buy lemons and limes by the bagful. 

- My cedar wreath, still going strong above the mantle.

- Acting out all the best scenes from Cars with a toddler.  I love it when I get to be Mater.  

- New Girl is back.  We haven't had a chance to watch it yet because our child stopped sleeping, but it's nice to know there will be episodes waiting for us whenever we find ourselves with a spare 23 minutes.  

I am beyond excited about the long weekend ahead.  Saturday night, I have a dinner date with a handsome blonde (our first since becoming parents!).  We're also planning to cook together on Sunday, play outside, and hopefully take a million new bow tie pictures.  Whether it's longer than usual or not, I hope that your weekend is lovely.  See you next week!

Thursday, January 09, 2014

new year, new fabric

My new fabric is here and I'm completely smitten.  I just want to lay it all out, in rainbow order, on the table and look at it.  So that's what I did today during nap time, when I am able to do things like "lay out fabric" without having someone grab it and use it as a blanket/tent/parking lot.  

It's hard to believe that it was only last year that I made my very first bow tie.  I only made a small batch of ties last spring, just to test the waters, and was blown away by the response.  Since then, I've worked hard on perfecting my pattern, adding hardware to make the ties adjustable, and deciding what weight of fabric makes the perfect bow.  

So this year, I am excited to be offering ties in almost every color!  I've been reading wedding blogs, checking magazines and catalogs and perusing Pinterest to decide on colors, while still generally sticking to my own personal style preferences.  I'll be carrying a mix of solids and subtle patterns, with a few less-subtle patterns thrown in for fun.  It came as a huge surprise to me, but our most popular tie to date has been the world map, followed closely by the text tie.  

Once I finish the stack of orders currently on my cutting table, I plan to jump right in and start sewing up samples.  I'm hoping to have at least a dozen new ties in the shop by the end of the month!  

In other business-type news, my new iron is pretty great so far, despite the scary noises it makes.  I've been using an inexpensive Sunbeam for years now, but decided to upgrade to a Rowenta.  I spend a lot of time ironing.  So far, my favorite bits about the new iron are the excessive steam, the long cord, and the fact that it doesn't drip hot water on my feet.  Also, it's about four times heavier than my old iron, so I'm going to go ahead and count ironing as exercise from now on.  There's one new year's resolution done.  

Today is gray and chilly, but we've got soup simmering in the crock pot and are planning to have a cozy evening by the fire.  Stay warm and I'll meet you back here next week!

Friday, January 03, 2014

cooking and kangaroos

We're three days in and I already suspect that this year is going to be big.  I'm making big plans and cooking big meals.  I just placed a big fabric order for some new bow ties.  Our house even seems big, now that we've moved the Christmas tree outside.  

So, about the big meals- my aunt Sherley recently recommended a food blog called "Feasting at Home", and I would like to pass on the recommendation to anyone who likes to cook or eat.  Steve and I made a list of a few recipes to try this week and it has truly felt like a feast.  Our favorite so far has been the Polenta Skillet Eggs with Chorizo.  It's warm.  It's comforting.  It's fancy breakfast for dinner.  Also, I got to make it in the new cast iron skillet that Mom gave me for Christmas.  I think that I can honestly say that I've never made something in cast iron that didn't taste delicious.  

In addition to staying warm and eating yummy leftovers, this weekend we'll be doing some cleaning and organizing, maybe a little shopping, and hanging out with our favorite kangaroo (have you ever seen anything cuter than this?!?).  Sometimes, January seems like a let-down after all the holiday fun is over.  Other times, it seems like a precious gift of time to do mundane tasks like flip the mattress.  This year, I'm definitely calling it a gift.  

P.S- I got a new iron and it makes scary noises like the furnace on Home Alone.  I'll keep you posted. 


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