Friday, November 30, 2007

Check One More Off The List...

Paper Chain...Check.

Advent Calender...Almost There.
I just need to stitch on the squares...then add the numbers.
Better hurry...tomorrow's the first day.


I always thought advent calenders had treats.

I never had one, but is seems the ones I coveted as a child involved treats...
or at least the ones that stuck with me did. Things like little chocolates, or a small toy or ornament.

But, Chris tells me that
growing up his never involved a treat. Apparently he had little what he can't recall.

What is your family's advent calender like?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Go Play...

I learned about Free Rice over Here...and promptly went over and earned 340 grains of rice. It's a pretty interesting concept...if you've never visited the site it's worth a quick look.

Or, better yet, a long visit in which you become hopelessly addicted and end up feeding a few folks.

Free Rice is a non profit company who is helping us learn a few vocab words while using the advertisers money to feed the hungry.

Essentially, you play a fun vocab game and for each correct answer you are financing the donation of 20 grains of rice.

As of yesterday they have donated
4,550,033,230 grains.
Also, yesterday, they increased the donation per correct word from 10 to 20 grains.

Pretty ingenious
(One of my vocab words. I got it right).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Stockings for Stuffing...

I've finally begun working on our Christmas Stockings...
This is not something I do every year...but we don't have a proper matching set for all four of us.

That makes this the Year of the Stockings.

Chris and I have a matching red and green velvet set that have our names embroidered on them. His parents bought them for us years ago and they've served us very well.
Problem is that since we've had the kids our names have changed to Mommy and Daddy..."who are these 'Chris and Amanda' People?! Why are we hanging their stockings? Where are the mommy and daddy stockings?"
Plus...I really would like everything to coordinate to some degree.

Maybe I'll wrap the old ones up very carefully and we can use them again once the kids move out and we go back to our 'grown up' names!
(Does that ever happen?! I seem to remember my grandparents still calling each other Mom and Dad even though their kids were very much grown. Hmm.)


This year we will have 4 new handmade stockings
embroidered with our names.
They will all have the same blue felt background, but each of us will get a different image of our choosing. I chose an apple tree. I don't know why.

Can't wait to find out what the kid's will request.

I'll report back...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Lucia....

In Red.
Over in the Shop right now.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like.....


Our holiday decorating always begins on Thanksgiving.

We have this great vintage aluminum tree that we just need to have up for as long as is within the limits of polite society.

It just makes me smile every time I see it.

The kids practically worship the thing.

It really glows at night...and, during the day, when most 'normal' trees are bland and boring, ours acts like a disco ball in the sunlight, throwing little sparkles all over the ceiling.

The wreath will go up next, then my snow-people collection.

I love holiday decorations.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Can there be too much Cute...?

I was browsing around over on Etsy this afternoon, in between stirring and chopping, and found these. I gasped. The is overwhelming.

The entire Fantastic Toys shop is full of small things I must have.

I have a little snowperson collection for the holidays...and I am allowed to add ONE new little friend every year.

As soon as I sell a few more hats I will be treating myself to a little Snowgirl Softie.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks, Life..

For everything.

I have so much.

Tomorrow I'll celebrate it all...the way I should every day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My fingers have been busy...

The Shopgirlz hat order is all finished.

It's probably going to remain pretty heavy on photo's and light on words here until after Thanksgiving...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Night Before...

Tomorrow is our 'Friends Thanksgiving' dinner.
The table is set, the toilets are scrubbed, the children are washed, the fancy cheeses are chilling, and I am so excited.

We will all cook together while chatting and sipping wine. The children will be supervised by everyone and no one. We'll all sit down to a proper dinner. Board games will be played. Deserts will abound. The fire will be lit.

The day will fly by

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sewing Room Friday

For Sewing Room Friday this week...

It's photo's of a baby quilt me and my girlfriends are working on for the newest baby amongst us. We each embroidered a square with an image of our choosing...
Everyone really did a great job, you'd never know that some of these are first attempts at embroidery.

Yes, the light is terrible here today...normally I would have scrapped these photo's, but as it called Sewing Room FRIDAY I was left with few options.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Some Tea...

We are all in this odd state of wonky-ness.

You know how a family falls in and out of their rhythm from time to time? We have fallen out a bit over here. Veered away from an easy stride and begun to overshoot in every direction.

The kids are behaving erratically. I am overreacting. Stuff is piling up around the perimeters. The giggles just don't seem to come as easy.

I feel that it is somehow my responsibility to get us back in the flow...although I can never remember how I did it the time before. Is it something I can control or is it just a mix of time and a bit of surrender that corrects everything?
Is it my efforts to control things too much that cause the whole wonky thing to begin in the first place? Either way I end up accepting much of the responsibility. Too much.

My plan this time...more surrender, more tea, less fretting.

I guess, on the upside, this means we will once again find a comfortable balance between all that we try to squeeze into and out of our days....and with that will come the easy smile of realizing we've done it yet again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A New Everyday Bag...

So, my good friend Rachel asked for an everyday bag for those outings when she has her little guy and needs more than her purse...
but doesn't need her entire diaper bag.

The Everyday Bag is the answer.

It has six internal side pockets large enough to hold diapers, loveys, burp cloths, bottles, and such...
plus a cell phone pocket snuggled up inside the strap where she can actually find it (and reach it).

She chose the fabrics herself from my Hancock's of Paducah catalog.

Do you have one of these?

It is one of my most used tools for creating custom bags. I get an updated one every few months in the mail with a bunch of new fabrics. Then, when a customer needs fabric choice help or inspiration, I pull it out.

H. of P. also sells their fabric is 1/2 yard increments which I LOVE. A few other sites do this, but most don't, and it's really practical for me.

I made one of these for myself a while ago, but ended up literally selling it off my back while was out and about one day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Adrift in Yarn...

I'm buried in yarn.

I have a couple of hat orders which, together, total 7 Whimsy hats. So, I'll need to knit a hat a day between now and next Monday.

This is great news for the Plumm Shop.


Did I mention I'm hosting two Thanksgiving feasts this year? The first is this Sunday.

I'm going to have to teach the boys to knit.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finaly Complete...

(That's one of Chris's hand turned Christmas ornaments in his hand there.)

I have been working on this shop apron for Chris since, well, I can't even remember... He's been very patiently waiting while I managed to complete every other project under the sun and his poor half finished apron sat waiting.

Well, no more!

Here it is in all it's woody-ness.

So, since he's a woodworker, this fabric was the obvious choice. Clever, no? Chris chose it himself.
I didn't use a commercial usual I just did some sketches, took some measurements, and made my own.
Since I am sure this apron will see it's share of heavy use the straps in the back are heavy duty brown nylon with adjustable latches. I used a total of three layers of canvas to make it super heavy duty...Gotta protect from those flying wood bits. The pocket flap is extra big to keep sawdust from finding it's way into the pockets.

Overall, we are both really happy with it. It was fun to intermingle our crafty worlds and collaborate on something not related to home improvement or parenting.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today's Treasure's

For Chris's birthday his parents offered to watch the kid's this weekend. They had them for two entire days. Entire days. Our kids have stayed over at their Nona and Grandpa's many times before...and they always love it. Nona and Grandpa's house is a very special place.

So, for the first time ever, we planned nothing at all for our kid free days. In the past we've always arranged weekends away, gone out with friends, or had another obligation already in place when the kids had an overnight.

It was amazing!

We thrifted, sat on the couch, leisurely sipped our coffee, spent hours in the bookstore, went to a few art galleries, puttered around our respective studios and just generally, truly relaxed.

When we went to pick up the boys they seemed bigger, cuter, sweeter, smarter and more precious than they had just a couple days before.

We got the two little treasures above at a couple of the Estate sales we made it to over the weekend. A great old sheet, perfect for a tote bag and some curtains...and a vintage Polaroid camera in it's original leather case with manual.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

AKA Dr. Laundry

(These two photo's of Luke were taken about 3 years apart....same kid, same hat, same ridiculous amount of cuteness. FYI...that's a treasure map in Photo #2, lest you think it was just some random piece of paper. Like I did. Duh Mom.)

So...I did it. I washed 3 loads of clothes in Dr. Bronner's soap. I used about 2 to 3 tablespoons per full load on warm water wash/cold rinse. I tested it on one load of lights, one of darks, and one with towels/linens. It worked SO well. It not only worked, It was SO much better than the laundry soap I had been using. There were no 'oil' spots as I had read there may be.

Until now I was using a 'green' brand that's biodegradable and free of perfumes and dyes. My clothes were getting pretty clean, but didn't smell so great and were a bit 'scratchy'.

The clothes and my laundry room now have a great clean smell (I used the peppermint scent...almond or lavender would be nice too). The laundry is also much softer than it was with the detergent I had been using. This was a huge (and unexpected) bonus as I had stopped using fabric softener/dryer sheets quite a while ago when I found out that they contained some of the most dangerous chemicals in my home!
From the EPA:

Principal chemicals found in Fabric Softeners/Dryer Sheets are:

Symptoms of exposure are taken from industry-generated Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Causes CNS (central nervous system) disorders... "highly irritating to mucous membranes" ..."Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonitis or even fatal edema." Can also cause "excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache." "Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact."
Carconigenic (linked to pancreatic cancer). "From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough." "In mice: hyperanemia of the lungs." "Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects." "Do not flush to sewer."
Causes CNS disorders ..."irritating to the upper respiratory tract" ..."headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure."
Causes CNS disorders. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms: "local irritant and CNS stimulant" ..."readily absorbed through body tissues" ..."irritation of eyes, nose, and throat" ..."dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions". "Avoid inhalation of vapors."
Neurotoxic. Anesthetic. Carcinogenic. on EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe vapors ...Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness." "Inhalation can be fatal." "Chronic effects of overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage." "Medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders." "Conditions to avoid: Heat..." Listed on California's Proposition 65.
Narcotic. On EPA's Hazardous Waste list. "...Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract" ..."may cause headache and narcosis (stupor)" ..."may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys". "Wash thoroughly after handling."
Carcinogenic. "Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer." "Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking ...applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor."
Narcotic. Causes CNS disorders. ..."respiratory disturbances" ..."Attracts bees." "In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression ...depressed heart activity ...development of respiratory disturbances leading to death."
"Danger - Harmful if inhaled ...Avoid breathing vapor." "Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Repeated inhalation of vapors may cause CNS depression. Contact can cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin rash)."

So, to get a better than expected result from a product that I not only feel safe using, but that I actually feel good about using, made my day!

This is definitely going to help me meet my goal over at the Great Plastic Challenge.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Good Doctor...

We've been using the fabulous Dr. Bronner's soap for a while now...and it's just occurred to me to try it in yet another capacity. Laundry! So far it's our dish soap, general cleanser for counters and floors, shower and tile cleaner, bathing soap, face soap, and carpet freshener. If vinegar and baking soda won't do , we grab the Dr. B's.

Why not laundry?
I read around on the internet and found mainly good reviews of the peppermint soap as a laundry soap...a few folks mentioned oil like stains on their clothes. I am thinking if I dilute it in the laundry water before adding the clothes I may be able to avoid this. I'll report back.

Dr.B's also sells a 'Sal Suds' which is meant more for this use, but I really don't want to have any more cleaning products in my home than Absolutely necessary. The thought of only needing ONE for everything sounds Amazing!

If you've not heard of Dr. Bronner's...
It's a counterculture Classic.

t's a castille soap which is vegan, biodegradable, organic, packaged in 100% post consumer recycled plastic bottles, scented with essential oils, and not tested on animals. The crazy labels are printed with organic hemp seed ink.

There is even a documentary about the man himself and the story of how the soap came to be..called Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox. The proprietor, Dr Bronner, apparently created the soap after escaping from a mental institution and seemed to care more about the soap than his own family.

Interesting stuff.

Anyone have an interesting use for Dr Bronner's...or a soap/detergent/chemical alternative for use around the house?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Little Internet Love Today...

So, my little shop is/was featured in a couple places out in internet land...

My knit hats will be featured over at at Shopgirlz for a week and they were also up at CraftBoom yesterday, accompanied by a tid-bit of small business advice I had shared. I linked the photos to the actual web pages so click over to see it all live and in person.

Thanks, universe, for aligning the planets and making it all happen on one day!

Doesn't it always seem to got that way?...

I've been building my Plumm business/blogg for almost a year now and it really seems to be a feast or famine gig. I can go a long stretch without anyone taking much notice and my sales trickling in. Then...the winds will shift, or the planets align,and I'll get a steady flow of interest.

For a While.

So, I have definitely learned to enjoy it while I have it...In the beginning I had a bit of luck with getting my bags and hats noticed and I naively assumed that it would stay that way.

Now I know a bit more.

Happy Birthday Babe...

Yesterday Chris turned longer is he teetering on the precipice of the 30's. He's officially in and I'm only 6 months behind him. All in all we're pretty comfortable with this whole aging thing, me a bit more than Chris it seems... (well, we'll see once my 31st rolls around)

We had homemade 'decorate your own' pizza's for dinner, presents over breakfast, and this heart shaped brownie cake surprised Daddy when came home for lunch (and again after dinner).

A great day of celebrating our amazing hubby and daddy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Shopping with Style

In an effort to encourage some of my friends and family to be mindful of their consumer choices I am creating reusable shopping bags as holiday gifts this year. I found this sweet strawberry vine vinyl over at Cheap Threads Etsy shop a while ago and stocked up. I knew I would find a great use for it. I know vinyl isn't a 'green' my logic is that if the bags are cute enough and sturdy enough they may see a bit more use. Also, I have impulse control issues.

The bags are lined with the same cute vinyl for wipe-ability and durability and the top edge is bound with red bias cut double fold binding. I just need to attach the sturdy vinyl handles, which are also red, and they will be complete.

I'm pretty sure I am going to need a few for myself!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thrifty Treasures...

A few recent trips to my favorite local thrift store yielded some real treasures.

The 'tablecloth' is actually a sweet strawberry vine bed sheet which may have yet another life as a blouse for me or an adorable tote. The shiny chrome flour and tea canisters are 50's vintage in great condition...and the blue and white vintage Pyrex cuties match a set that my Grams gave me when Chris and I got married. The green boomerang candy bowl is just beautiful...simple as that. I also found an 'American at Martinsville' walnut step table (not pictured) in pretty good shape which had been on my wanted list.

It's been a very rewarding few weeks in thrift land. It always seems to go this way. I'll have a stretch where I find something amazing on every trip and then I'll have a stretch where it all dries up.

Either way I'm an addict...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Home Made...

Last month, for various reasons, I started baking all of our bread rather than purchasing it. Originally I was baking it all from scratch without the aid of a bread machine...then I came to my senses. Breadmaking is a simple yet time consuming process, friends. So, I am now leaving the grunt work to my faithful kitchen helper...My bread maker. I generally don't like kitchen gizmo's and tend to prefer to do things by hand...But, the bread machine is genius.

Step 1: Dump in yummy bread ingredients
Step 2: Come back in 3 hours and 40 minutes for insanely good warm bread
Step 3: Enjoy the fact that your house smells like fresh baked bread for hours

In addition to not being rocket science, it's much less expensive than an equivalent quality bread from a store. I highly recommend!

So with all of my recent bread success I decided to take on Graham Crackers. Yes, those standard toddler treats from a little cardboard box. Well, just as with bread, it is much simpler that I thought it would be and they taste infinitely better than their retail counterparts.

Here's the recipe for the Graham Crackers...

Homemade Graham Crackers
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the cold butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds or so. Add the honey, molasses, water, and vanilla. Mix until the dough starts to come together in a ball, another 30 seconds. Scrape dough out of the mixer. Place it in the fridge for at least an hour, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Retrieve dough and roll until it's 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 2-inch squares, or with cookie cutters for fun shapes.
Arrange the crackers on greased or parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan.

Yield: 48 crackers

Note: If you cut the dough through but leave the squares together, you can break them up after they're baked, just like a store-bought graham!

Posy Pouch...

So, once I got myself to stay in the studio for more than a few minutes...

This little gem practically created itself.

I'm thinking there's value to stepping out of the creative process from time to time and letting your ideas fully form in you head.

I generally start in on a new idea very early in the 'figuring out' process. This means a lot of redoing and undoing. But, with this pouch today, I had spent so long living with it that it was like my hands knew just what to do. Easy peasy.

I'm finding that 'living with' my ideas for all sorts of things, from cooking to parenting, helps everything crystallize...Often resulting in a much more satisfying result. This is a creative process I had never really tried prior to having these kidletts, but am now forced into occasionally.

Of course, we don't always have the luxury of mulling every thought over indefinitely...
but, next time my creative production is ebbing I will try to see it as a positive rather than a negative. Kind of like stocking up the creativity bank account instead of the Etsy bank account.