inhale...exhale...relax your shoulders...repeat as often as needed

Thursday, April 30, 2009

thinking of Looly

Only fools hoard their heart.
You are no fool.
-Lynn Park

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


One's childrens' birthdays can be so poignant. I had so many "ah ha" moments yesterday that I'm on a whole new path! 

I have followed Crazy Mom Quilts blog for months now, and Amandajean has a really fun project going on.  I have decided to join her, although informally. I love the idea of using up small scraps from other projects. As I started to rummage through baskets, I rediscovered lots of sweet fabric I had used years ago for dolly clothes and little girl dresses and baby quilts, teen skirts and going off to college quilts. I realized that I have an archive of my family's growing up in my fabric stash.

So, I think as I embark on my next chapter, I am going to sew an epilogue to this chapter I am just finishing up. How cool is that?

And I realized that the "hands" project is part of my transitioning, too. Eventually, you'll see why.

I am in the midst of one of those times when I recognize magic in everyday life and it energizes me and centers me and reassures me, all at once. 
And this project is coming off the needles any day now. (Stashed in a Franmade basket). I will post about it soon. It's been a good project too.

Isn't it remarkable that fiber can be so infused with spirit? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

happy birthday stewart tod!

Twenty seven years ago this morning, the best and most rewarding adventure of my life began. Stewart arrived "sunny side up" and that's the way he's navigated the world since then. Stew has been a really great big brother to three very unique and strong "little" sisters. As a kid, he loved Legos, collecting bugs, riding his bike and gardening. 

But reading was his sanctuary. Even as a crawler he loved books. He would snuggle in our laps and listen, asking for the story to be read "again" when we got to the end. When he learned to read on his own he was off on a rampage. The biggest discipline problem we had with him growing up was getting him to turn his light out at night. Seriously. We would check on the kids before we went to bed, and Stewart would have turned his light back on to read "one more chapter".  

All that reading filled him up with a broad understanding of the world and the people in it. His passion for politics, justice and education always makes for interesting conversation. We suspect that there are kids in his high school classroom that he might be infecting with that same curiosity about the world. We know that he and Dawn have full lives out in Oregon, but we sure do miss them. Happy birthday Sweet Baboo! We love you.

Monday, April 27, 2009

trying more fun, green and thrifty things today

Our family is always up for homemade gifties, and when they are made with something that has been repurposed, even better! A few years ago, Gretta used an old plastic box that playing cards had once been stored in. Inside, she glued some keys from an old computer and labeled it "control pad". The keys she selected reflect my feelings about computers..."escape" and "help"! On the inside of the lid, she wrote, "This belongs to KarenLR because she's 50 and can kick some serious butt". I think if we ever had a fire, this would be one of the things I would grab on my way out the door!
Clever Miss Lindsey made this tote bag for Gretta a while back, using an empty bird seed bag.
This afternoon, I rounded up a bunch of old birdseed bags I had stashed away and made a plastic blanket. I simply cut the bags open, trimmed them, overlapped them slightly at the edges and stitched them together with a zig zag stitch and my sewing machine's walking foot. Then I folded it up and secured it with pink velcro strips that once held organic leaf lettuce in tidy heads. It's not glamorous, but will take up very little room in the car, and will be available whenever we need a dry spot to sit on the sidelines at a softball game, or picnic. I'm also stashing these mesh bags that held lemons and grapefruit from the store. Why not take them back to the grocery store and reuse them when buying loose fruit or veggies?
Have you been thinking GREEN lately?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

something new

Based on this, I made this knitting needle roll. I'm psyched, 'cause I usually rely on patterns, and at this point in my life, I really shouldn't need to. So, I took a deep breath and just adapted the instructions from the pencil roll. No big deal, right? Still, I'm a wee bit pleased with myself.

And what's up with 90 degrees today? Too much, too soon...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

sizzling saturday, in the 80's!

Ages ago, probably on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we took the kids to one of those "paint it yourself" pottery places for a treat. Peter painted this little flower pot. I came down this morning to find that he had planted a bit of grass seed in the pot, and put it on the kitchen windowsill as a "happy spring" present.
Seedlings and transplants from our CT gardens all ready to head to Vermont next time we go...
We've got a neat new shop in town, selling "down to earth goods", and they teamed up with our local environmental group to offer compost bins, compost buckets and rain barrels to folks in a bulk order. We bought a barrel to collect rain coming off the gutters. There's spout hardware included. This will go to VT, too.  
Henry and his favorite author, Roger Tory Peterson, dreaming big.

Lazy breakfast, errands, haircut for Gretta, screens in all the windows...

Still on the agenda...making a plate of appetizers to take to our friends' house for a dinner party, getting Gretta safely launched to the prom... 

Going to bed with the windows wide open...

Friday, April 24, 2009

trying something new

I made a few of these pencil rolls as gifts for Christmas 2007. 
I used instructions found in Joelle Hoverson's Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. 
I was delighted with the results.  Today, I'm working on a similar roll for my knitting needles. I'm adapting the instructions, and inventing my own pattern. Keep you posted...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

there may be no cure for my addiction...

One would think, that with a generous fabric stash like this one, I would be content. But now that my beloved Country Quilter has retired from the scene, I am looking for alternative shopping spots. There are two other local shops, but they are not nearly as warm as cozy as the Country Quilter was. 

I am trying to use up more of what I have on hand...saving money and learning to make do with what I have (!!!).

But I cannot quell the fabric lust.

I've decided to slow the fabric aquisition down a bit, and in the meantime, be looking for really unique and special vendors/artists. Less quantity, better quality. 

Remember Ink and Spindle? They are growing and expanding and I am delighted for them. They do beautiful work, with environmentally friendly supplies.

I've also been following Scarlet Fig for a while, and have my eye on some fabric over there. Laurie is actually doing a giveaway this week. Check it out here.

I often find beautiful, unusual fabrics at the vendors at quilt shows, too. Some of my favorites are indigo and white pieces from Japan, and earthy, geometrics from Africa. I bought a stack of small pieces of Duponi silk in dazzling colors that I still use sparingly for special work.

My late mother-in-law, Joan brought me some lovely fabric from Provence, which I'm still using. (And it's such a nice reminder of her thoughtfulness). I bought some Liberty when I was in London a few years ago (yum!). 

I've been recycling clothing these days, too, using things like button plackets, cuffs, and ruffles. I have a small stash of the kids' old clothes, waiting to be incorporated into future work, too. And I have a box of my GrammieLowry's hankies that may find their way into dresses for little girls someday.

Where do you find special fabric?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

happy earth day!

in use since 1979
original canvas handles replaced with Shaker webbing a few years ago
still going strong

"How to be green? 
Many people have asked us this important question.
It's really very simple and requires 
no expert knowledge or complex skills.
Here's the answer:
Consume less. Share more. Enjoy life."
-Penny Kemp and Derek Wall

(I got home from my travels late last night after a multi chapter air adventure. Glad to land safely and feel the earth beneath my feet. Taking a nap this afternoon! Will write more tomorrow)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

while I'm away

My friend Franny has been traveling a lot lately. She's had a friend of hers staying at her house and looking after her very cool cat, Stokely, while she's away. Colleen is a gardener and a farmer who also loves to knit and felt. Before Franny left on her adventures (a month on a train journey in Australia with Elderhostel!!!), Colleen presented her with this "traveling Stokely". She had knit and felted a miniature Stokely cat for Franny to tuck in her luggage! How cool is that?

This is a picture of traveling Stokely visiting my house. He was a very good house guest.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

traveling again

When will we teach our children in school what they are?
We should say to each of them:...You are a marvel.
You are unique.
In all the world there is no other child exactly like you...
You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven...
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, 
like you, a marvel?
-Pablo Casals

I like this! I think this is what education should be all about! Helping each young person discover his or her very own voice, develop it and then take it out into the world to have authentic and productive conversations with others. Like Casals, I cannot resist imagining the wonder of that possibility.

Are you familiar with the book 40 Colleges That Change Lives, by Loren Pope? It's a terrific resource that can help families find alternatives to the insanity that seems to pervade the college application process these days.

Of course, my beloved Earlham is one of the schools profiled by Pope. Knox College is in there, too.

I was invited by the Earlham Admissions Office to come back to campus and help out with "Accepted Student's Day", which will be held this Monday. I'm heading out this morning, and will return late Tuesday night. I was delighted to be asked, and I look forward to working with students (and their families) who are trying to discern if Earlham is where they want to spend the next four years of their lives. I still marvel that I am part of this good work, and I love the challenges and rewards that this work brings to my life. 

There are many fine places and ways to learn. NOLS, the Peace Corps, public schools, Waldorf Schools, Montessori Schools, Sunday school, independent schools, adult education classes...

Where have you done your best learning?

P.S. We found a dress!! Stunning cotton/silk blue...and very" becoming" as my Grammie would say...will try to talk her into a picture....

tidying up

This is my generously sized kitchen island. Covered in piles of sorted mail, books, magazines, things to be filed, and "misc." I tend to stash stuff in a big basket, but then the moment of truth comes (above) when it must be dealt with. Please tell me that this happens to you sometimes, too! I'm close to clearing it off, but it's such a CHORE! And I always ask myself when it happens, "How did you let it get this bad, again?"

Gretta is at a very far away softball game, so Peter and I have dug into chores. He's been working in the yard, I've been hanging laundry out in the fresh air. We also washed Vermont mud off the cars, and our driveway now looks like the Mississippi Delta, with rivulets of mud and dirt meandering down to the bottom. Can't believe the chunks of dirt that came off the bottom of our cars! Don't worry, we always use green products. I made the first iced tea of the season and we had a picnic lunch on the front steps! A pair of bluebirds were checking out the house I built from a kit a few years ago. Bunnies were munching green things in the lower area and there's birdsong all over the neighborhood. The porch is open and I think it's finally spring!

Gretta just called from the bus. She is full of excitement. She hit her very first home run. And she is so pumped up that she's ready to go shopping for a prom dress when I pick her up at 5:30.  (The prom is next weekend, and her school is so small that grades 9-12 all attend. Not many couples, mostly friends). Gretta loves to shop about as much as I do (read that DREAD). So I'm hoping we can make short work of it, come home, have supper and settle down to watch Amazing Grace (which is a great movie). Peter has not seen it yet, so we must keep our mouths shut while we watch it.

SO, was it that kind of a day for you? 

And I cannot resist, I took a sneak peek at this and now I can hardly wait until October! If you click on the trailer and watch, you will be hooked...

Friday, April 17, 2009


I have been thinking about hands a lot lately. I've been blasting Hootie and the Blowfish's "Hold My Hand" when I'm alone in the car. Reminds me of our summer of '94 (annual) road trip back home to IL from the kids' summer camp in VT.
With a little love, and some tenderness
We'll walk upon the water
We'll rise above this mess
With a little peace and some harmony
We'll take the world together
We'll take them by the hand

cause I've got a hand for you
cause I wanna run with you
Hold my hand...want you to hold my hand...

Lovely Spirit in Practice class last night. At the end of each session, we stand in a circle. One person starts by turning to the person next to them, taking their hand, looking into their face and saying, "I take your hand in my hand, so that together we might do what I cannot do alone". That person takes the next person's hand and so on, till we are all holding hands. A very nice way to head home...

I had an idea for a wall hanging and sketched it out in the late 80's, and began work on pieces of it then. Inspired by a quote from Shakespeare's King Henry the Sixth: 
Now join your hands, and with your hands, your hearts.
Now that I have finished and delivered what I am calling "Imagine More", (the theme of the school's auction, see quilt below), I want to revisit the Shakespeare idea. Perhaps I can use what I started with in the 80's and bring it into the present.

It was hard to let this one go...

And remember that many hands make light work.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

and the giveaway winner is...

Debbi D. W.

Debbi is an "old" friend of mine in Illinois, and we've recently reconnected. She is on a fabric journey too, and we've had fun comparing notes lately. Deb, please send me an e mail with your snail mail address, and I'll get the package in the mail ASAP. Hope you enjoy a bit of Vermont when it arrives!
The odd thing is, that when I finally wrote down everyone's (10) names on slips of paper and put them in a bowl, I felt sort of bad. Wish I had something to giveaway to each of you nice folk.

I will just have to do these more often, to create more fun.

Two things to share with you all.
  1. Our daughter in law, Dawn has started a new blog, and if you are a cat/kitten fan, you will love it! Called The Kitten Pile, it chronicles Stewart and Dawn's adventures as they foster litters of kittens. It's one of the few good things about their living on the West Coast, otherwise I would be adopting feline grandbabies like crazy!
  2. Tomorrow is The National Day of Silence. The day is designed to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Gretta is the president of the Gay/Straight Alliance at her school, and she and other students have worked hard to strengthen this program for the last few years. As an ally, she takes all of this very seriously and has become very articulate about the challenges the LGBTQ community faces. Each year, more students and teachers sign the pledge. But each year there is push back from "concerned" parents. I invite you to check out the website and consider what you might do to help "end the silence".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a new year

These beauties are from Peter.  His card was "cheesy" as he put it. But that's why I love him. And Gretta gave me the BEETS.

So I am a happy girl. And this morning I worked on my annual road map for the coming year. This one is called, "the next grand adventure", reflecting the transition I am making from one stage of life to another. It's covered with words and phrases and arrows and question marks. Like, "get my stuff out in the world" and "what is the message I want my work to articulate?", and "take risks by submitting article proposals and enter magazine challenges and maybe a show?" And "document progress". Work I am feeling more excited about than afraid of. This is a very good shift in the order of things.

Have any of you made such a shift? In any aspect of your life?
And, look, I am putting the binding on today! I'm lovin' this quilt and it may be hard to drop it off tomorrow. I hope it will bring in some good  bucks for the auction at Gretta's school.

P.S. I've been rockin' out to Neil Young's new album Fork in the Road. He's grey and grizzled and as fine as ever.

P.P.S. There's still time to put your name in for the giveaway.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

my buddy

With all beings and all things we shall be as relatives.
-Sioux Indian

(It's not too late to put your name in for the giveaway!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

100th post celebration GIVEAWAY

Good morning friends! It's been 100 posts, (without missing a day?) since I started this blogging adventure. I've had lots of fun with this project. Learned about myself, the internet, made some delightful new friends along the way, reconnected with some dear old ones... 

So far, so good and I'm up for more.

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway. Here's what's in the package:
  1. a tiny tin of Bag Balm.
  2. a tiny log cabin shaped jar of VT maple syrup.
  3. a copy of The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook.
  4. a tube of Vermont Bee Balm.
  5. a balsam sachet, made (by moi) with needles from trees at "a bit of earth".
If you would like to have a chance to receive this collection of Vermont goodies, please let me know by either leaving your first name and last initial in the "comments" section below, OR send me an e-mail at sewandsowlife(at)gmail(dot)com.

I'll choose the winner at random on Wednesday night, giving you plenty of time to throw in your name. I'll post the winner's name on Thursday morning, and we'll work out mailing details. Good luck!

And thank you all for your support and interest. It's been fun hearing from you. Now that I have finally learned how to "follow" blogs, I've really enjoyed keeping up with many of you out there in the cyber world! There are so many kindred spirits, full of creativity and ideas about how to live a good life. Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures. It matters.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

from VT to CT on Easter Sunday

It turns out that our neighbor horses have been leading a double life. Living the life of fenced in horses by day and wanderers of the neighborhood by night! This morning, we saw them being led back up the road  by their owner/our neighbor Gene. Hope he figures out how to keep them in one place...because Gretta planted spinach and lettuce this morning.
It was 27 degrees and snowy on Braintree Hill today, but that did not stop Gretta and her Papa from working hard!
Six of our sixteen acres are filled with balsam trees. Peter has ordered 100 Frazier fir seedlings to be delivered in May. He and Gretta were digging holes for these seedlings today. Peter said it reminded him of the kids' book Holes. I think they were fueled by chocolate bunnies and jelly bean eggs...
Peter and Gretta also hauled the pruned apple branches over to the brush pile.  
I stayed inside, quilting and knitting and listening to VPR. Also did a deep clean of the place, necessary every once in a while.

And...we saw a beautiful red fox trotting up the hill, across the lawn, and on up the road. Maybe he was going to visit the horses?

We closed up the place and headed south. By the time we got to the MA/CT border, we realized the forsythia was blooming, the maple buds were red, the willows had yellowed up and the temperature had gone up 25 degrees.  A few hours of driving really makes a difference!

My blogging "dashboard" tells me that this is my 99th posting! I cannot believe it! I have a fun Vermont themed give-away planned for tomorrow. Be sure to check back!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

a top ten day

  1. driving down into town, we came upon an Easter Egg Hunt, and the traffic cop was wearing plush rabbit ears.
  2. going on the horse-drawn wagon ride at "springtime at the farm" at Billings Farm and Museum.
  3. sitting in on a lecture on heirloom seeds, and getting some to bring home (green nutmeg muskmelons, Jacob's cattle beans).
  4. the little boy who said,"great job, horses!" to Jim and Joe the Percheron team.
  5. the lambs, two weeks old.
  6. the beautiful Jersey calves.
  7. the awesome lunch and ice cream dessert.
  8. discovering Noushka, a new shop in downtown Woodstock. AWESOME.
  9. browsing for fishing gear at Gillingham's and getting reacquainted with the shop cat.
  10. meeting a variety of very nice shop dogs. Four different dogs, at three establishments!

Friday, April 10, 2009

what a wonderful night for a moondance...

This morning I drove up and over the Rochester Gap, and here's the view from the top...Killington and Pico peaks. A bit up the road, I think I spotted Stowe. I pulled over to the side of the road, got out and breathed in the view. I felt more space in my soul.
And here's Seasoned Books, the reason I drove over the gap. It's a wonderful spot to browse, check e-mail, sip a cup of something hot, snack or have lunch (locally grown when possible). The interior walls are hand painted with birds perched on trees, in soft, pastel colors. If you want to find a book on homesteading, sustainable gardening, cooking, spirituality or local Vermont gems, this is your place. It's full of good karma. 
And I had the most bizarre, magical experience last night. I was awakened at 2 in the morning by a weird noise. I got up and looked out the window. There, in the moonlight, were two neighbor horses, romping in the moonlight, right outside my window. They are huge draft horses, caramel colored with pale manes and their hooves shook the ground. I thought maybe it was some sort of dream, but when I went out early this morning with my cup of tea, I found these hoof prints! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I know I am a bit obsessed. But I do love this state. For so many reasons. Here's the state house, nestled in the hills by the Winooski River. Capitol city with a small town feel. I took this picture from the bridge after I shopped at Hunger Mt Co-op. Easter weekend at "a bit of earth". Doesn't get much better. Especially since I feel like going to church in the woods this year. To celebrate renewal and hope with Mother Nature. She is such a goddess!

Do you have a place that you love/are obsessed with? Please tell us about it!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

amazing grace

Two young men, brothers working in the same office, perished on 9/11. Their Dad is a member of our congregation and he and friends and family have planted thousands of daffodil bulbs around our church, in memory of those beloved young men. I have served on a committee with Neil, and one night he told us about a tradition he has with his precious grandchildren. As they sit down for a meal together, they hold hands and say, "We love each other, we love each other, we love each other". The night he told us that story, we ended our meeting the same way, holding hands, loving one another. We've done it at every meeting since then. I think Neil bears witness to the power of love and courage. His amazing testament inspires me. Especially this time of year, when all these daffodils are blooming, filling the world with hope.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Thanks to your encouraging comments yesterday, and to Henry, my taskmaster (he looks pretty no nonsense, doesn't he?) I think the quilt will come off the basting table this afternoon. Hip hip hooray! (And not to worry, the quilt will go in the washing machine before it gets delivered for the auction...)
And my sweet Beta Carrot Teen will have a bit of dental work done after school today, so I am making a pot of creamy herbed carrot soup for supper. Here's the recipe, in case you want to try it.

1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 bay leaf
3 cups peeled and chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
3 cups water or vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
2 cups milk or plain soy or rice milk
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 or 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
minced fresh chives or parsley (I'm going out to cut some fresh!)

In a soup pot, saute the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, and bay leaf and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, water or stock, thyme and dill. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches in a blender, puree the soup with the milk, soy milk or rice milk. Add salt and pepper and lemon juice to taste. Return the soup to the pot and gently reheat. Serve topped with chives or parsley. 

If you love this soup, please consider buying Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. It's full of similar, yummy everyday recipes.