Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Major shopping SCORE!

Whew! I feel like I finally caught my breath over the long holiday weekend. Several long-term sewing projects have been wrapped up and the kids had no activities (as in zero…). We watched the Smurf movie and went SHOPPING!

I must have been very good lately because there was some serious karma in my favor at Gabriel Brothers over the weekend. I know, some folks just don't like that store. "I don't like to dig threw all that garbage." "I never find anything my size." Well, it is my opinion that you can't go in looking for any one thing in particular. I've had some really great finds there, but it helps to be able to sew!

Check out the awesomeness that was my latest trip:

• These two jackets by New York & Company were my major score! The original $59.99 tags were still in place. The sleeve lining was twisted in the grey one and someone had nipped all the buttons off the pink one (even the extras they hide on the inside seam). $9.99 for each of them plus a little time unstitching the lining to unkink it. I honestly think it took me longer to decide which buttons to purchase!
I happen to love blazers—especially for work. Though it does make me feel like I'm turning into my Mother : ) Our agency is extremely casual. Jeans are the norm and shoes are optional, but I like to throw on a blazer over a t-shirt (kind of Miami Vice-style!) to instantly feel more dressed up. I never saw Mom do that!

• Brownie found some Justice jeans that were just her size, but way too long. 
$7.99, hemmed them, good to go.

• I found a long, open cardigan sweater also by New York and Company in a pretty pink/salmon color, but it had a large hole where the ruffled collar met the back. 
$14.99 and ten minutes with a needle and thread. Lovely!

• Shoes are really hit or miss at Gabriel Brothers. I mean freaky hit or miss. I've found some cute, sparkly flats in the past, but things can slip pretty quickly into the stripper platform boots category. Please be careful in the shoe department!
 I may have added a comfy pair of Etienne Aigner black pumps to my shoe collection. And they may have been perfection and required no stitchery on my part!

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My House Smells Like Blueberry Muffins

I feel a huge connection to the past when I cook.

I remember:
stirring sauces with my sister
snapping beans with my cousins
my own little Blondie husking corn when she was wee small

When my siblings and I were young, we'd wake from our afternoon nap to the smell of cookies Mom had been busily baking in our absence. I use recipes written in my grandmother's handwriting and recall asking her how she cut the delicate, wheat-like slits in her pie crust. So cooking is a walk down Memory Lane for me. I can't help but think of all these characters in my life when I'm in the kitchen.

I'm hoping the kitchen will be a place of remembrance for my kids too. I challenge C to "lasagna bake-offs." I let them lick batter from the beater and eat cookie dough. And I'm pretty sure I'm on the right track. After Blondie and I made blueberry muffins the other night, The Boy returned home with one of his friends who exclaimed, "It smells like blueberry muffins in here—I wish my house smelled like blueberry muffins!" Now I may just always keep a box of muffin mix in the cabinet : )

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

JUNK or Treasures?

This may look like a pile of junk to some of you, but WOW these are treasures to me. I've found some really fun stuff lately while scouring local antique shops for interesting fabric and notions. The pink/yellow flowers on the handkerchief will definitely find new life as a floral fabric—perhaps for a dress so I can add the handful of pink, wooden buttons.

The green necklace and earrings have already inspired a new silk dress that I'm hoping to debut at next Friday's Merchant & Artist Walk—August 12 from 6-9 p.m. I'm excited to spend the evening with Jon at Simple Pleasures, 176 Front Street. His shop is one of my absolute favorites—I could spend hours in there! He's my go-to when I need an extra special gift (especially gifts for myself).

Hope to see you next Friday! What are your ideas for these vintage finds?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Can't Knead!

I, kind of, took a break from cooking for the early part of the summer. Papa John's has been most appreciative, but I think the kids have missed having the tasty goodness around.

Spending time in the kitchen is usually enjoyable for me. I've found that most "creative" people enjoy cooking and baking. Baking is a great short-term project—a "quick creative fix" if you will. Trying new recipes is always a treat and getting everyone's feedback is interesting. I use the same two question test that my sister-in-law uses with my little brother:

1. "Do you like it?"
To which everyone always politely replies, "Yes."

2. "Would you choose to eat it again."
Then the truth comes out and a recipe either lives on or dies right there.

I was so busy in June with sewing projects that I guess I didn't feel the need to fill that creative void. So I'm not sure why, but I was overcome by the need to bake over the weekend (because I have been sewing—A LOT.) Maybe it's because we've bought a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). So there is a bounty of fresh veggies from Singing Frog Farm in my kitchen. Or perhaps because my fresh herbs are flourishing beyond my deck.

I decided to try a new Fresh Herb Bread recipe using some of my very own basil, parsley and thyme. I swear I can smell them again just looking at the picture!
I had to use a few dried spices because I didn't have any sage or oregano. And it was really a cinch because I used my bread machine! (I must confess: I can't make bread any other way. Apparently I don't know how to knead. Perhaps it skips a generation, I don't know. I've tried, but my bread just doesn't rise.) I use the dough setting on my bread machine to do the mixing and rising and then just shape it, let it rise again and bake it in the oven. But look at this, no one would ever know! Enjoy!

Bread Machine Fresh Herb Bread
Time -Serves 12
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 cups Gold Medal® Harvest King® Better for Bread™ bread flour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
How to make it

1. Measure carefully, placing all ingredients in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Select Basic/White cycle. Use Medium or Light crust color. Remove baked bread from pan and cool on wire rack.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July Merchant & Artist Walk

I really enjoyed showing everyone my fabrics and products at the Merchant & Artist Walk! Several supportive friends and family members stopped by to see what I've been up to. Plus I got to share my products with some wonderful, new people as well. Everyone was intrigued by the process and loved the vintage dress too! Teri Ann and the ladies were amazing hosts!

Several people even asked if I would be back next month—so I hope to see you all again on Friday, August 12! I'm not sure yet where I'll be set up, but I have lots of new ideas to share!

Here is my table and the behind-the-scenes crew.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Busy, busy, busy!

Whoa! I can't believe it has been a month since my last post. Now another holiday weekend is upon us. All I can say is that this summer has been busy, but in a good way.

I've done some solo antique shopping in Lewisburg, WV and found some gorgeous, vintage fabrics and antique sewing notions to bring home. Mom and I took the little ladies to a huge quilt show in Columbus organized by the National Quilting Association. And I've had several weekend getaways to step away from my sewing machine and gain a little perspective while getting some much needed sunshine with my crew.

So, I've got loads of inspiration and so many project ideas in my head. But I've also managed quite a bit of time in my studio as well because I have a DEADLINE!

I'll be sharing some of my fabric designs and latest projects for Marietta's Merchant and Artist Walk on Friday, July 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. Teri Ann's at 290 Front Street has graciously offered to host my work for the evening. The ladies at Teri Ann's are incredible, so I'm excited just to spend some time with them amongst their closet of luxe ladies' wear. But I am anxious to get some feedback on the fabrics, dresses and the "Arrow-Fold" napkins I've designed.

Here is a sneak peek of one thing I'll be bringing that night. I whipped up some fabric flower pins out of the Honeysuckle Rose fabric. I'll have a few things for sale, so please stop by to say hello—I'd love to hear your ideas on ways to use custom fabric!

Friday, May 27, 2011

S T R A W B E R R Y Bruschetta!

This Memorial Day weekend is booked solid with food, celebrations, family and even a big adventure! One "must do" on my list is strawberry picking with my lovely ladies. It's become a bit of an annual tradition. Blondie has eaten her way through the patch since she was only two years old. Here's a little recipe treat you may want to slice up this weekend—it's so easy and exactly what I'll be tasting sometime on Monday!

photo credit: delish.com

Strawberry Bruschetta 

20 slices French bread, cut 1/4 inch thick 
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 container (8 ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar 
2-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped or sliced 
Additional powdered sugar (optional
Mint leaves (optional

Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice bread using a serrated bread knife; place bread slices on cookie sheet. Melt butter in small microwave safe bowl (HIGH 30-45 seconds or until melted). Brush butter over bread slices. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over bread slices. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown; remove from oven to cooling rack. 

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Hull and coarsely chop or slice strawberries. 

Spread cream cheese mixture over bread slices. Top with strawberries. Sprinkle bruschetta with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh mint leaves, if desired. Serve immediately. 

Yield: 20 servings

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spring Makeover

The sun finally came out to stay! One of my favorite things is dining outside on our deck. But after the long, cold winter and rainy spring the deck is looking pretty drab. More specifically, the kitchen window box was in need of a serious makeover. I just love looking at "Before & After" project photos! They are so rewarding when you need a little fix of instant gratification.


The tulips and hyacinths that bloomed so beautifully, just in time for Easter, had to go. Though I did save them to replant for next year.  


Pink geraniums—I can even see them indoors! I chose geraniums because they've survived my level of care in the past—with great success. The other little lovelies I can't even identify because I do not have even a light green thumb. Add some fresh tomato-basil bruschetta and sangria and I'm ready for dinner alfresco! (I may have to shoot a "Way After" picture sometime in July. Though it will probably look very similar to the "Before.")

Friday, May 20, 2011

Inspiration is contagious.

The thought of writing a blog really hadn't really crossed my mind before now. Okay, after watching Julie and Julia—I considered it briefly, but didn't believe the kids would actually eat beef bourguignon.

I have been so inspired by friends who are stretching themselves to be more and documenting their lives. Subscribing to design*sponge has reminded me how important it is to look at other people's work—even if it is an entirely different medium. The inspiration generates so many new ideas.

Already, I've found that inspiration to be quite contagious. One dear friend said that after taking a hiatus from her blog, she's excited to come back to it and have a buddy to talk about the technical stuff.

I shared the site with Brownie last night, showing her how all the links connect to other pages, such as fabric on spoonflower and my very, empty Etsy shop. Her eyes lit up when she asked, "Can I make something to sell on your Etsy page?"

So, today I'll include a watercolor painting by my favorite brown-haired girl.
It is a sunset (not over the ocean, but a rolling green field). I should have had her give it a title. Expect to see more from this one—quite possibly on Etsy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

T-Mobile Dresses

T-Mobile has me hooked! But I couldn't care less about their myTouch 4-G phone. It is the pink dresses in the latest advertising campaign that have me talking! Am I the only one who is completely crazy for every pink dress worn by T-Mobile's latest spokesmodel, Carly Foulkes?

After Googling the lively, magenta-white-striped, tea dress, I discovered that I am not alone! Apparently, there has been quite a frenzy in cyberspace about who made the dress and where to find one.

According to the LA Times, the standout pink-and-white dress was a custom-made, vintage-silhouette-inspired dress designed by Debra LeClair, the stylist who worked on the campaign and photo shoot. So they are not available for purchase ANYWHERE! Marc Jacobs has a similar style, but it is black and grey—not nearly as spunky as the bubble gum pink!

As if the striped beauty weren't enough, they keep bringing out more! The polka dot number is super cute, but I think the floral sundress may be my most favorite.

Since there has been such interest online, I wonder if some Nikety knock-offs might sell on Etsy (or fit in my closet)!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This blog is a MESS!

Today I'll share one of my "typical day at the office" projects. Let me be clear, by no means did I do this project myself. I work with a great team of talented, creative people who lend their opinions and expertise. We're fortunate to work with some amazing clients with incredible experiences and products to share.

That said, above is a 64-page catalog just completed for Adventures On the Gorge—an adventure resort in Fayetteville, WV. I'm proud to say that the layout concept and execution were my work. This seems to be my niche here at the agency.

My first real design job was in book publishing. Every other month I laid out a 96-page magazine. (I still remember how many pages!) And every six months we published three new books and promoted them with a huge catalog mailing of all our offerings.

Let me say, I have come SO far in 12 years. The files I sent to the printer then were a mess. I didn't understand the printing process. The designs were adequate, but not outstanding. But I managed and learned it all as I went along.

So, I guess I need to be patient with myself as I learn this new process. This blog is a mess! The background image needs to change. The second post had a typo in the headline (anyone see that before it was corrected?). And I've probably broken all the rules of blog etiquette. I'll muddle my way through and who knows what I'll learn along the way.

Thanks for following along : ) Feedback is much appreciated.

(My favorite part is the handy, page-turning format done through issuu.com. Isn't it fun?)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two Worlds Collide

Honeysuckle Roses

I'm so excited—I can hardly stand it! Finally, all the design skills I learned in college and use everyday have collided with my love of fabric and sewing! I have designed a floral print called "Honeysuckle Roses" and am having it printed on an organic cotton sateen fabric. (Yardage is available for purchase through my spoonflower page below.)

Honeysuckle pink is the color of the year, and I love all things girly, floral and pink anyway. The roses are graphic and modern-looking, but overall it has a very feminine, vintage feel. Truth is, it was designed with a pair of coral-colored shoes in mind. Shoes, that I saw, and had to have despite having nothing to wear with them. Look for a dress in a month or so—my fabric order should arrive early in June!

 What would you make with Honeysuckle Roses?


Monday, May 16, 2011

And so it begins…

To further my effort to be the best possible version of myself, I've decided to start a blog. I'm not a writer nor do I usually have much to say. I know people who use more minutes on their cell phone than I actually speak each month. Even my rollover minutes have rollover minutes. So why blog?

I'd like to share my creative projects with others. Feedback from family and friends has always been a big boost for me. I swear Grandma is the biggest fan of my work and I wish I had a dollar for every time I'd been asked if I made the dress I'm wearing. I'd love to expand that to include some online friends who are working on similar projects or be noticed by some other (read: more impressive) blogs.

This is a personal challenge to be more creative every day. Between four kids and a full time job, some days just slip by. Hopefully, this will be a daily (or weekly) reminder to stick with it—just keep creating. Sometimes I get to enjoy an afternoon at my sewing machine, other days I might only have time to try a new recipe. I feel most like me, when I'm creating and I hope this blog will add some accountability. At least I'll see something accumulate for time spent.

I hope it will be an inspiration for my creative kids. Last night, Brownie painted a lovely sunset with watercolors and informed me that she would like to have an "art area" in her room. Blondie repaints her nails every night and helped sew herself a wild, floral skirt. The Boy is certainly crafty in his own way, just not in the glue-gun sense. He is always happy to test any culinary creations. C put pink streaks in her hair and is talking about going to design school. How cool is that?! I want to encourage each of them to keep creating.

It will be an excellent creative portfolio and form of record keeping. So many times I'm reminded of something I've made in the past and wish I had a photo of it. I wish I had pictures of all the little dresses I made for the girls when they were small. I've made so many bridesmaid and flowergirl dresses. My tastes and talents have transformed over the years too. I went through a doll-making phase in my teens and even made some teddy bears at one point.

So, I'm adding one more thing to my to-do list. Feedback is always appreciated.