Changing Directions

This is where I've been the last few months. Well, I've been here and completely lost in my head. So many afternoons spent this winter, cozied up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and reading, reading, reading. Thinking and pondering and talking it all over with family.



I’ve been immensely challenged to shake things up! I’ve done all the inward processing and I’m pushing the self-doubt behind and starting to vocalize a bit of my dreams and plans! Although I love my Etsy shop, I realize that there’s a greater WHY behind what I do...that I LOVE creating happy memories for my friends and family! Hoping to transition off of Etsy and open my own online shop by spring 2020 focused around helping people to create happy memories for the people they love!

I may be a little less present here for the rest of the year while I make this big transition. But I hope that when I do post, it will be more of what I do best and a whole lot less of whatever's on my mind that night. But mostly, I hope it's more of what you want and need!

(And don't worry, I will still be making and stocking the shop with costumes through October/November of this year.)

And in very exciting-slightly scary news(!), this Friday I’m being interviewed by Josephine Brooks, a British productivity coach, for an episode for her podcast on the topic of pivoting my business!

(P.S. You may also note a name change. When I first starting blogging years and years ago, our children were young and I wanted to protect their privacy. But now they all go by their own names online, so I'm making the switch too.)

Anniversary

Today, hubby and I celebrated 31 years of marriage! On one hand, it seemed like we were kids. And on the other hand, time just really seems to have flown. Was it really 31 years ago? 



This is part of a large family photograph. I love it because, from left to right, my parents are celebrating 56 years of marriage this year, we're celebrating 31, and his parents are celebrating 59 years!


We celebrated tonight with dinner at The Copper Door...wine, steak, truffle fries...sooo good! Lots of conversation. Lots of gratitude.




Love my Customers!

My day was made today by a lovely customer, who left the following review of the Revolutionary War Soldier Costume she purchased for her son! My customers are the BEST!


This costume is beautifully made. The fabrics are high-quality, the craftswomanship is excellent and the finishes (buttons, etc.) are high-quality. The design is expertly done to perfectly evoke the era but still be functional and play-worthy. We wanted a costume that would do all of that because our now-12yo will really use it for play and holidays. He understands what accurate period costume is, and loves this.

Kate was lovely to work with: quick, responsive, a super-capable problem solver and helped us make sure the size was right. She shipped right off, even fitting a haversack we ordered last-minute and refunding that postage. Couldn't imagine better.

I highly recommend the costume. Definitely worth the money. Compared to similar items it looks like the highest quality for similar price points.

More of those costumes coming soon to the shop!

Sold Out

The busy time of school programs is open us and the shop has been hopping! Although they're sold out now, I do plan on restocking these two costumes in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, if you just need it now, check out the other options in the shop by clicking here.



Camellias and Glass

This week, I took myself to the greenhouses at the Lyman Estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. 


Their website describes the history of the greenhouses and estate as:

In 1793 Theodore Lyman, a Boston merchant in the East India and China trades, began developing his country estate by acquiring thirty acres in Waltham, Massachusetts. He hired an English gardener, William Bell, to lay out the property in the English picturesque style, which included large specimen trees, open fields, a pond system, a kitchen garden area, and a greenhouse complex. 



I saved the estate for a different day, but I was there to see the camellias in the greenhouses this time. The greenhouses are laid out over three levels, and I worked my way through the first two before arriving at the Camellia House. 



The Grape House was "...built in 1804 for growing bananas, citrus, pineapples, and other exotic fruits".






One of the smallest rooms in the network of greenhouses held some of the most unusual specimens.





And it even included a pregnant onion! 


Coming to the Camellia House was just a bit thrilling for me! Camellias always remind me of my grandma. She had the largest camellia bushes I've ever seen in my life! The biggest two bushes must've been at least 8' x 8' and they were simply covered in blooms. She often let me pick the flowers, and being a child and camellia stems being a bit woody, they would frequently come off without a stem. I'd feel badly about that, but she was so calm. She'd simply pour water into a bowl and we'd float the blooms, making them lovely in a whole, new way.


Some of the camellia bushes here are more than 100 years old. But what a rush of nostalgia, as I saw blooms that seemed straight out of my childhood.







The End. I hope you enjoyed your tour!


St. Patrick's Day!


“For daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises. But I fear nothing, because of the promises of Heaven; for I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere. As the prophet says: ‘Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.” 

― St. Patrick, The Confessions of St. Patrick


To learn more about who St. Patrick really was, click here.

Fully Stocked

I am happy to report that the shop is fully stocked in George Washington/Alexander Hamilton Costumes! I've been sewing like crazy, and there is one costume in each size listed in the shop right now. Click here to visit.


St. Patrick's Day Meal and Plans

St. Patrick's Day is Sunday and I will definitely not be eating corned beef and cabbage. In fact, I pretty much can't stand the thought of them. For years I struggled with a meal plan for St. Patrick's Day with some semblance of authenticity and which I actually wanted to eat.

For dinner, I make Guinness Beef Stew with Cheddar Herb Dumplings (click here for the recipe).

And for dessert, I serve ultra-decadent Guinness Chocolate Pudding. Unfortunately, I cannot find my original source, and I have tweaked the recipe slightly, so I'm just typing it out for you. It is very rich, like a super smooth mousse. 


Chocolate Guinness Pudding

1 c. Guinness Draught (not Extra Stout)
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2/3 c. sugar
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine Guinness, whipping cream, and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer.

Add chopped chocolate and let sit 5 mins. Whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and incorporated and mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Very slowly stir in Guinness-chocolate mixture, whisking constantly, to temper egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan and return to medium heat.

Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture has thickened, another 3 minutes MAXIMUM (not a minute more). Remove from heat and divide among 8 ramekins or pretty glassware. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set, 2-3 hours.

Serves 8.

It's been our tradition for the last few years to watch some sort of Irish-themed movie on St. Patrick's Day. A couple of our recommendations are Far and Away (with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman) and Waking Ned Devine (more than slightly wacky comedy).

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Cleaning Cupboards

At the beginning of each year, I make a list of areas of the house that are creeping out of control. Then I assign them to particular months of the year, so that it's not overwhelming, but it all does get done. This month's project was cleaning out this kitchen cupboard, which houses mostly entertaining pieces.



I do love this cupboard, partly because I designed it and told the kitchen designer what I wanted it to look like, and partly because it holds all the fun stuff! I ignored the very top cupboard, because it holds all the Christmas china and there isn't really anything that needed to be changed about it.

The main part, with the doors, holds glassware, miscellaneous serving pieces, silverware (in a chest), and assorted other things (like a bunch of hubby's paperwork) that had crept into it and needed to go find another place to live. The before and after:



The two small drawers in the bottom portion of the cupboard hold small items that are seldom used...serving cutlery, pumpkin carving knives, cellophane bags for wrapping up food gifts, and a bunch of things that I have never used. Out with the unnecessary and everything else had room to spread out and be seen! Before and after:



Ahh...it felt so much better to have some breathing space for everything, especially the serving utensils. Now my love of cutlery can expand!

Then it was time to tackle the three larger drawers. What a mess! Mostly they held placemats, a few tablecloths, and lots of napkins. I'd recently purchased several more sets of napkins and the situation was beyond control. In order, here are the before pictures of the drawers:




I decided that the easiest way to tackle this was to empty them completely. Just the empty drawers was a relief.


Somebody wanted to be of assistance by adding his duck to a drawer.


After eliminating a few items, shifting others to other places (like the jumbo carving board to the pantry), and sorting everything, it all fit beautifully!




There! I can still add to the cutlery collection and can buy only two more napkin rings in my lifetime. But absolutely not another napkin can enter the house!

Sabbath Rest


You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

- Psalm 32:7-8
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