09 December, 2013

Some New Things

Oh boy, the weather yesterday was a little unexpected, no? It was here in southeastern Pennsylvania. It made the Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest a bit of a challenge; apparently, we vendors all got an early enough start to be able to get there just fine, but by the time the event opened, it seems that most other folks were snowed in or had just decided to enjoy the snow day at home. So, we didn't get so much business, but we made the best of it! My little shop set-up was in a shipping container shared with Blackheart Letterpress and As the Crow Flies & Co, which was fortunate, because they were all really fine folk and we spent the day sipping hot boozy drinks, sharing conversation, and laughing good-humoredly at the foot upon foot of snow that fell and the absolute lack of shoppers. And then it took me three hours to drive home, when it's usually forty-five minutes. That was a little miserable. I almost missed Homeland!
Aaaanyways, the market is going on several more weekends this month, and I'll be there this coming Saturday, so if you want to check it out, plan on coming then! Hopefully, the weather will be better...

Most of my attention the past couple of weeks has been preparing for that market, and shipping out my orders just as quick as they come in, but here are some little things that have happened in between:

New colors of tea towels! You saw the orange back here in this post, and the violet I got in once last year and decided to restock it. The color is actually so much more pretty than I've been able to capture with my camera.
And now there's turquoise, too!

I've got some orders for monogram towels to stitch up today; I love sending these out into the world. They're truly one of my favourite things that I make and I stand behind them one-hundred percent. Using them in my own kitchen for years, I know they stand up wonderfully to use and abuse and I just think they make lovely gifts. Sorry, not trying to be a pushy sales woman, I sincerely do just love them!
But, um, if my sales pitch did get you thinking you'd like to give some for gifts this season, get those orders in! I'm super on-top-of-things this week, so current turn-around time is just two-four days, so there's plenty of time to have them delivered before Christmas! Direct link to listing here.

Other new little bits --
I have new retail packaging for my DIY x-stitch kits!

Orders from my shop and sales of my kits at craft fairs will still be in the little recycle-able plastic bags, but for retail shops, where shoppers are not seeing stitched samples of the kits, or even photos of them, I think they these new boxes and labels really make a difference. If you have any great shops in your area that sell hand-made goods and stuff like that, where you think my kits would be a good fit, would you be so kind as to email me the name and location of the shop? I'm working on getting them into more stores.

And, did you see my Doily kit in the gift guide of the December issue of Martha Stewart Living? Hooray hooray hooray! That is seriously my favourite publication so for me, to see one of my products on the printed pages of Living is kind of huge. I am sincerely grateful to the team over at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for all of the kindness and support they've shown chez-sucre-chez.

Since the publication, I've gotten several orders and a few emails asking if the Doily kit would be a good size to use as an ornament. Why yes! It is! The Doily kit/piece uses the same size hoop/frame as my ornament kits - perfect for tree trimming. Inspired by those emails, I styled the Doily all dressed up as an ornament:

(I took the pic with the Instagram camera app on my phone, I guess that's where that blur came from? Or maybe my lens was smudged... that was probably it, actually.)

In the Christmas spirit, I've been replenishing my supply of strawberry sachets for use as stocking stuffers:

Making these, working with the lavender, is soooo relaxing.

Oh! And I made up more carrots, so that I could fulfill some orders I'd gotten for my little plushie farm fruits/veggies sets, and while I was at it, I made some with little rattles in them! It was actually something a customer at Renegade Brooklyn had suggested, so I tried it out -- putting a little jingle-bell in with the stuffing, and the result is so sweet.

The rattles in this batch are really subtle - I chose the tiniest jingle bells, not wanting them to be a noisy racket, but I think once the stuffing is all around them, the sound really gets muffled. Next time, I'll go with slightly larger bells.

Also new -- I scored some sweet heart-print fabric and made bowl covers from it. They're my new favourite.

Time for me to jump off the computer! I've got lots of stitching to do and many little projects that I want to get to while we've still got this beautiful white light. Happy Monday to you all! xo.

04 December, 2013

Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest

This coming weekend, if you are in the Philadelphia area, you should come on out to the Art Star Holiday Market at Winterfest; I'll be there on Sunday.
The Holiday Market is going on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now (last weekend, actually) until New Years. There are vendors lined up for each day, some the same, some different. AND there is food and drink and ice skating! And a fire pit, with seats all around it, and an Xmas tree lot. Sounds cool, right?
I went last weekend to check it out and I can say, I was impressed. The space is really cool looking -- it looks NOTHING like the usual set-up/space of Penn's Landing.
This is a crummy shot I took with my phone last weekend, but you can get some idea of the space:

The shops will all be set up in those shipping containers, and behind them, underneath that big tent, is the food and drink, along with lots of picnic tables and even some cozy lap blankets. Fun, right? The food wasn't set up yet, so I can't vouch for that, but I can tell you that the menu looked really delicious. I had a Snap (Art in the Age) Spicy Chai cocktail and that was super good -- warmed the tummy and the spirits!

I'm very much looking forward to setting up shop in one of those shipping containers. It's different than any other set up I've done, and I think it'll be really cool. The biggest thing is that we need people to know that it's going on! Please, if you are a Philadelphia local, or you know Philadelphia locals, help spread the word! Of course you can go on any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, but I hope you'll come while I'm there! I'll be there this Sunday (12/8) and next Saturday (12/14) Here is the website, which'll give you more info about what you'll find there and the vendor schedule for each day. And here is the facebook page, which I'm sure will be posting info about updates and vendor sneak peaks. Please tell your friends, family -- anyone who might be interested in popping by. And, if you do make it out there, please come by and say hello!

27 November, 2013

Bring on the Holidays!

Last week, I went up to NYC to lead a workshop at the American Folk Art Museum.

It was delightful!
For the past few years, I feel like every trip I've taken into the city has been rush-rush, full of traffic, and so busy that I don't get to enjoy just *being* in the city. Well, this trip was different; I took the train in, and gave myself plenty of time - getting there early enough to walk from Penn Station to Lincoln Circle, stopping to shop, and look, and eat along the way.
That particular route really isn't the best of NYC (in my opinion) but it is close to where I lived for much of my time in NYC, and so I had a lot of routine spots and shops that I stopped in on along the way; the shoe department at Macy's, the big H&M on the corner of ___ (what is that corner? I forget!), the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. Unfortunately, I never found any independent little gems in that part of the city... I walked past my old gym(s), one of my old office buildings, the street on which I used to live. Oh, memories.
And then there was the Folk Art Museum! I got there early so that I could see the current exhibit and oh-my-goodness - it was wonderful! The current show is called alt_quilts, where three artists show their works inspired by the traditional American quilt. The work of one of these artists, Stephen Sollins, knocked my socks off! Sollins creates "quilts" entirely out of paper - and the results are absolutely stunning. Here are a few snapshots I clicked with my phone:
Here's one of them from afar:

And then you get close to it and see it is made up entirely of envelopes -- the inside security patterns making up the color blocks.

Oh my goodness, right? I couldn't get enough of this piece. I took a ton more photos, but really, if you are in NYC, you really should go see it yourself. It is so wonderful.
Then there was another by the same artist - a wedding ring style piece, made entirely of Tyvek (think Fed Ex and Priority Mail) envelopes:

Love! I am a sucker for an all-white quilt as it is, and this one had me swooning.
In addition to the works by the three artists, the exhibit also featured some traditional American quilts from the museum's collection. This was my particular favourite:

The curved lines of triangles of color and pattern look so much like little bunting banners.
One day, I will own a beautiful old quilt like this. There actually is one at a local antiques shop, and I am SO in love with it, but it's $600! $600?!??!! Yikes... that's way out of my budget. But look at how amazing it is:

Oh swoon. Those old prints/fabrics, that hand-work, all that white...
So I go and visit it every so often and always hope that it'll still be there.

Aaaanyways. My workshop at the Museum was great, too! I had such a wonderful bunch of ladies and it was really fun to share the project with them. We did the Elegant Ornament project and although it was too complicated of a pattern to finish in the 1.5 hours of the workshop, I hope that they all got the guidance enough to finish it up on their own.

The other thing about my trip to NYC was that it definitely made me realize how close the holidays are! I had my first Peppermint Mocha drink (guilty pleasure!) and I could feel the energy of the holiday hustle-bustle building up.

So --- here's a little preview of chez-sucre-chez holiday. I had these things ready to go weeks ago, but I was trying to hold out until it really was about holiday time.

Holiday kits are in the shop -- the Elegant Ornaments (available in three colors) and Night Deer:

And "Cheers!" tea towels and napkins are stitched up and ready-to-go:

I'm really liking the "Cheers!" tea towels wrapped around a bottle of wine or other spirits; this is going to be my hostess gift of the season. :)

More to come! I rocked through all of my open orders yesterday and cleared my worktable so that I could whip up a few more seasonal goodies today before it's time to start working on my Thanksgiving feast contributions for tomorrow. Hoping to add more goods to the shop later today or late tomorrow. (Hoping.)
I'm sending you all the biggest warmest wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I am so thankful for YOU.

PS-- Yep, there will be some deals in the shop for this holiday shopping weekend. Keep your eye on the social media outlets and the shop for coupon codes and announcements of deals! xo!

15 November, 2013

Feeling the Love

A few weeks ago, blogger and interior designer Susan Hutchinson of fleurishing asked me to participate in her local-love Philly Creatives series. She sent over a list of Q+A questions and asked me to choose ten to answer. I worked on them here and there over the past couple of weeks, and then kicked it into high gear to finish them up last night.
This morning, Susan got in touch to let me know that the post had gone live.

I read it, and had a moment of almost teary epiphany. See, in answering those interview questions, I was thinking and talking a lot about how chez-sucre-chez is a one-woman operation and that I am ultimately the one responsible for if I succeed or fail in my little business.
What I realized this morning is that this is not really true. Chez-sucre-chez would be only so much if it truly were the one-woman operation that I think it to be. In reality, chez-sucre-chez is what it is because of you, who read my blog, because of people like Susan, who share their support of chez-sucre-chez on blogs or other press outlets, because of my customers, who write nice reviews of their purchases that inspire others to place orders, because of my friends, who encourage me to keep on keeping on....
In short, I'm feeling a whole lot of gratitude this morning, for all of the people who have ever said nice things about my work, all of the customers who have ever placed an order or bought my wares at craft fairs+events, all of the buyers who've ever carried my products in their stores, all of the bloggers, magazine editors, and well-connected people who have ever chosen to feature my work on their media outlets, all of my followers on social media, all of my friends, my amazingly supportive family..... all of you. Chez-sucre-chez would only be a wistful past-time if it weren't for you. Thank you.

(PS -- Susan's blog post of my Q's & A's is here. Thank you, Susan!)

11 November, 2013

savoring autumn

I'm not much a fan of autumn -- to me, it just means shorter (darker) days and colder weather. That Onion article that was going around a few weeks ago hit the nail on the head for me. The past few weeks haven't been so bad, though, and I've been savoring some of the little quintessentially autumnal activities and experiences.

The week before Halloween, we took a trip to Richmond, VA, to visit some friends who recently moved there. I brought along an apple pie and was delighted to find that a large bowl cover also makes for a perfect pie cover; eco-sweet pie transfer!

We walked around the city and then shared a delicious dinner of bread, olives, cheese and wine, followed by the apple pie. Dining like that with good friends is always such a wonderful treat!

The trees around our house have been putting on quite a show. I love the view across the little "field" from my studio window -- even on over-cast days and evenings, the lighting and trees looks so dramatic.

On this particular evening, when this photo was taken, I was watching a pair of ravens, or some other really big black birds, circling around above the trees, the way the light was hitting just the underside of their wings was fantastic - lighting them up in gold. Of course, though, I didn't manage to get a photo of that fleeting magic.

We have a really wonderful fire pit area in our backyard and as often as we can, we invite friends over for super-casual hang-outs there. The weekend after Halloween, we had some peeps over -- and Mister Jack O Lantern made for a festive backdrop:

I simmered up a big batch of warm mulled apple cider and we drank it spiked with spiced rum as we talked and enjoyed the evening.

This past weekend, my niece and nephew spent the night with us and so we did another fire night. It's adorable how much they love that. They also love that we always seem to have sparklers tucked away somewhere for them to enjoy when they're here.

The other super great autumn thing is this pumpkin pull-apart bread from the Kinfolk Table cookbook. I found the recipe on Sprouted Kitchen, via Tastespotting, and made it last week. Oh. My. Goodness. You should make it.

02 November, 2013

chez-sucre-chez for Anthropologie

Remember back in this post when I was stitching up those 500 "Enjoy!" napkins for a big wholesale order? Well, they've hit the shelves -- at Anthropologie! Woohoo!

It is so exciting to me to be in that store -- it's definitely one of my favourite shops, from the homewares to the dresses to the window displays, the team at Anthropologie just does it right.
The napkins are available online:

and they're also available in some of the shops. Being a one-woman team, I could really only stitch up so many napkins; 500 sounds like a lot, but it isn't nearly enough for them to be stocked in every Anthropologie location. Unfortunately, they aren't at my local shop; if you see them at yours would you please email me a photo? I'd love to see them in the shop environment!
Actually -- these aren't even available in my shop anymore. The blue ticking stripe napkins were a discontinued style from one of my suppliers, and I bought up every last one to complete this order - so, if you love them, hop on over to the site to snap 'em up or find out if your local shop has them!

Also exciting is that they are carrying my boyfriend hankie kits as well. These are available only online:

But you can still find them in my shop as well...

I'm so excited that this worked out and that I'm able to see my products as part of their line up. Everyone I worked with over there, from the buyers team to vendor relations, was so nice and helpful. Fingers crossed that we may be able to do more work together in the future!

Next up -- I'm in full-swing prep for the holidays! I know, most of us don't want to see holiday marketing yet - but it creeps up so fast! I'll spare you the details for another week or two - but if you want a sneak peek (including a holiday variation of the "Enjoy!" napkin) take a look at my shop!

Have a great weekend, friends!

29 October, 2013

An Apple a Day

I've been having a love affair -- with apples.
I know that they have their season every autumn, and most times, I get in a trip to an orchard or two for picking, and I enjoy eating them and baking with them. This autumn, though, I've been *really* into them.

B & I kicked off the season at an orchard up near his where his family lives. We'd been there once last year, but not to pick. This time, however, we took a spur-of-the-moment picking trip with his mom. Here's B and his mom at Bob White Orchard:

The apples we got that day were okay -- but it had rained the days before and it was tough to find ones that weren't split. So we just picked a few.

Then we discovered *the* orchard -- my new favourite orchard, not far from our house. We'd been there last year, but at the very end of the season, and pick-your-own had already ended. I'd loved the small-ness of the place, though, and our impression of it was that it was really chill and no-frills -- totally the opposite of some of those big-operation places near us.
So we returned a few weeks ago and were delighted to find that our impression was true.

This place, Barnard's Orchard, is amazing! There's no signing in, there's no getting on a tractor, no posted rules of what you can and can't do -- you just walk up, grab a bag from outside the shop, and walk into the orchard, looking for the hand-written signs indicating which rows house which kinds of apple trees. And the rows go on and on forever! And there are barely any other people there! And they even have ladders - and they don't seem to discourage pickers from using them! It is soooo pretty there, and the apples are delicious!
So, we went the first day and picked a peck. And then, maybe a week later, I went back on my own and picked two pecks. And then, despite having an entire crisper drawer full of apples, I told B that going back to the orchard was what I wanted to do for my decompress-day after the Martha event in NYC. And we picked two more pecks. That's a lot of apples!

I'm not one to usually just eat an apple, but since that first trip to Barnards, I've been eating almost an apple a day. Besides just plain apple slices (I almost never just bite into an apple.) we've been really digging them smeared with peanut butters made by fellow American Made vendors Yumbutter. Also delicious was a dinner of cheddar and apple (and pickle!) grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Aand I made apple crisp (twice), and apple cinnamon oatmeal, and an apple pie. That apple peeler/core-er/slicer is one handy kitchen gadget!

The apples have also made for brilliant props for chez-sucre-chez photos. If you've seen my instagram feed or updates from facebook or twitter, you've seen the apples!

Here they are with the bowl covers:

And with the monogram tea towels:

(I'm running a special on tea towels before the holiday rush season begins: 4 for $64 - which is $2 off each!)

I stitched up, photographed, and listed some napkins today and the left-over apple pie from this weekend made it into some shots:

We've still got a crisper-drawer full of apples -- any suggestions on what else I should make? Do you have any knock-out apple recipes? Please share them in the comments if you do!

Next up - pumpkins?

PS - If you're also a fan of apples, cooking with apples, and picking apples, and especially if you live in the Boston/New England area, I suggest you check out my friend Liz's blog, Applelogs. She's the most crazy-about-apples person I know and she's posted some great recipes and reviews of orchards. Hi Liz!