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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

i'm jealous of my car

because she gets to sit in the parking garage 
(i always leave her with a nice view)
while i have to take a few deep breaths
and walk into the MALL...

gretta just really needed a few things for the upcoming months,
like a new, decent rain jacket, 
a new fleece (old one worn out and grown out of),
she never got a swiss army knife, even tho the big kids had...

and another cute (affordable) dress for senior class day.
g is not a clothes hog nor does she have a closet full of shoes
(you have seen her footwear of choice).

so armed with a list and the best attitude we could muster,
we forged ahead.
found most things on sale.
and did OK.
and are still speaking.

but we are TIRED 
and don't feel like we need to go back anytime soon.

we try to shop locally, or online,
because we really don't like malls at all.

too much "stuff", too impersonal, too big,
not the loveliest slice of american life...

oh, i am venting, i know.
but i'll bet g and i are not the only ones familiar with mall fatigue.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

skip breakfast? not me!

Butterworks Farm organic nonfat lemon yogurt (came home from VT in the cooler), stewed rhubarb and granola for breakfast, along with a mug of Scottish breakfast tea, all served up in a beautiful bowl and mug, bought as seconds from Simon Pearce.

Now I am ready for a day full of errands and chores, carefully planned to be as efficient and pleasant as possible...

Lovin' the sunshine! I'm thinkin' laundry on the clothesline, finally!

Friday, May 29, 2009

going in different directions

Paper crane, I will write peace on your wings
and you will fly all over the world.
-Sadako Sasaki, age 12

Do you know the story of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes? Written into book form by Eleanor Coerr, the true story she tells has inspired generations of folks to work for peace. 

This origami crane, made by Gretta, floats in my car as a reminder to breath while driving!

And today Gretta and I were driving, driving , driving to go see our good friend Jimmy graduate from high school. Not just any high school, but one for kids with language related learning disabilities. What an inspiring day it was! Kids who may have been told they would never amount to anything, could never learn, could never succeed...worked harder than their peers and proved all the naysayers wrong. These kids knocked our socks off, with their spirit, grit and passion. Bravo Jimmy!

And driving in another direction, Peter left work, met up with a buddy and set off for VT again. Only this weekend it's all fun. Fly-fishing for neophytes! With borrowed fishing gear, tomorrow Batman will go buy some TALL waders and a fishing license and he and Bill will  scout out all the "good spots" on the White River. 

Now for a light supper, a glass of wine, a lame attempt at book reading and...sleep.

What's up for your weekend?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

rainy day sewing

I found this fun project and asked Erin for her permission to post my results. She graciously encouraged me to share and, voila! A French press cozy, made to keep Batman's coffee warm on those chilly Vermont mornings. Do you love the birch fabric? And the antler button? (which was billed as being made from a "shed" antler, I hope that's true!) 
Yesterday, I finished another clothespin bag, made from The Impatient Patchworker, for a friend's daughter and son-in-law, who have just bought a house. They asked for spring colors/solids. I could not resist the polka dots...and I'm glad to know there's a new generation of clothesline devotees!
And here's progress on the quilt-along, still trying to stay a day or two ahead...I have added aquas, and a periwinkle too.

Henry has been encamped in his cozy bed in my sewing room all day. Such a lazy beastie. I think for both of us, time sometimes stands still in there! Hen in his bed, and moi at my sewing machine.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

oh, great goddess of domesticity

thank you for the magic of sourdough starter, for rhubarb that stews up so deliciously
and for the wonder of sprouting radish seeds,
full of goodness, growing right here in my kitchen.
thank you, too, for the extra laundry (!)
 that reflects 
the blessings of having a wonderful place to retreat to.

and thank you for the humble freezer, 
where i found 
leftover "good old steak and guinness pie"
(thank you jamie oliver)
cooked and frozen in march...
for supper tonight.

allowing me time to sew, sew, sew
 on this dark, rainy, chilly afternoon.

thank you, great goddess of domesticity
for your simple blessings. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


More and more I find I want to be living in a 
Big Here and a Long Now.
-Brian Eno

Monday, May 25, 2009

a full weekend

Last evening, Gretta and I took a walk along the road with cameras and went a little nutty with the shutters. Here are a few of my favorites. (I'm hoping Gretta will do another guest post soon, with her pics.) The color of these lilacs against the weathered woodshed at dusk is oh, so fine. And their scent...ooooo so intoxicating.
I took about 2 dozen photos of my beloved birches, I like the camaraderie of this one.
Look at the color and pattern of these trunks...
and these tops...of sumac.
This morning we spotted this cutie out in the meadow, hunting amidst the grasses and wildflowers.
And these are our moondancing neighbors, back in their own pasture for now.

We got so much done around the property this weekend, despite the nasty little flying black biters! 

And Gretta and I snuck "off property" on Saturday to visit two artists on the Open Studio Weekend. If you go to, you can see the listing of 273 Vermont artists who opened their studios to the public this weekend.

We both wanted to see the work of Jenny Hermenze in Bolton. Her wearable art is just amazing. Hand dyed and stenciled, using the Japanese art of katazome, her pieces are full of her own contemporary motifs worked into pieces steeped in Japanese tradition. Check out her website.

We went from there to see the work of Karen Henderson, who works in collaged landscapes. Her work is breathtaking, and I am still trying to figure out exactly how she did some of her pieces. She had a large piece over her sofa, of birch trees, that I drooled over. She uses a loom, but also does a lot of fabric manipulation and layering and dying. Very cool. She was super friendly and I hope to cross paths with her again...a few of her pieces reminded me of some of mine, in color and perspective ONLY. Hers are uber more professional and wonderful. But I did promise her I'd send her pics....working on getting over the shy thing. Jim Gallagher showed very cool rock and sculptural masks at the same studio space.

So, this has ended up being a long post, and I am tired and I'm always a little cranky when I get home from I will sign off for now. Hope you all found time to breathe and relax and create! Back to the real world tomorrow, eh?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

using the WiFi out on the sidewalk at the library!

This morning, Batman and I drove up to Elmore Roots Nursery to buy native and hardy lowbush blueberry plants. It's the first time we'd been up there, and it's magical!
These pictures did not come out very well, it was rainy and bright at the same time (?), so I guess my focus was confused...but wanted you to get a sense of the place. We have a high bush plant at the house already, but want to get dreams of a real berry patch up and running. I guess all those summer visits to Franny on Mount Desert Island has spoiled me for the tiny berries! 
Yesterday, Gretta and I stopped at two spots on the Open Studio Weekend, and I will post about those two artists tomorrow. On the way home we stopped at the Hunger Mt Food Co-op for groceries and could not resist taking this picture of a car in the parking lot! 

We are headed back up the hill to garden. We are having ALMOST too much fun. 

Hope you are too.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

perfect ending

After a longish car ride, on crowded highways, from suburbia to rural bliss... the sunset from our "bit of earth" here in Vermont last night.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

friday bits and pieces

When I dropped Gretta off at the farm, I could not resist taking a picture of the farm's gypsy girls, gossiping in the early morning sunshine. Someday I would like to have a flock of my own...

I heard bits of our president's speech on NPR yesterday, and I just want to say that I feel so much better about things these days. Still a crazy world, but not so much craziness in power...the phrase " past decisions based on fear rather than foresight" really sums up what he's leading us OUT of. 

Fear is so counterproductive and it draws negative energy. 

Hope. I like it much better. And it is so full of possibilities... 

We all have choices, and choosing hope (and love) over fear (and hate) is a no brainer, eh?

Tidying, packing, errands and then we're OFF! Friends, have a fab weekend, wherever you are and whatever you're up to.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

projects, a book or two and listening...

I had been using this old North Face stuff sack, left over from my backpacking/camping days for a grab and go small project bag. I've been meaning to make a newer, prettier one for ages. Yesterday, in between many comings and goings, I put this together, using the stuff sack as a model. I probably spent more time thinking about making it, than actually making it! Easy peasy. Also keeping up with the quilt-along project. Baked sour dough bread, too.
Yesterday, our Speaking of Faith group listened to a piece on Thich Nhat Hahn. What a holy man he is! His belief that peace begins with the individual makes sense to me, and his wisdom is deep and reassuring. If you have about 50 minutes to listen, I recommend it to you. I embrace many elements of Buddhism, and this gentle reminder was good to hear. I will be looking for his classic work, The Miracle of Mindfulness at the library. I also found The Holy Way, by Paula Huston via this lovely blog. The author comes from a very Christian tradition, but the book's spiritual take on living a simple life has much to offer even a Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Buddhist, Transcendentalist like me. (Is that too much information?).

Have you discovered Speaking of Faith yet? What are you reading these days? Any fun plans for the long weekend? I'l bet you know where I'm headed...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


If the only prayer you say in your whole life is "Thank you", 
that would suffice.
-Meister Eckhart

So much to be grateful for...

So, so basic, these magical lettuce sprouts (that need to be thinned) are right outside our front dor. The formula is simple-seed, dirt, water, sunshine.

Batman has been in the midst of corporate madness at work. Very tough times. Planning for the worst, hoping for something, anything, better than the worst. Will spare the details. But yesterday we found out, after months of uncertainty, that sometimes good guys DON'T finish last.  And the relief and happiness is a huge blessing.

Our four kids are healthy, doing good things in the world and are in the midst of good friends and a loving family (in spite of the distances that separate us).

I could go on. 

This is how I formulate my antidote to the worries in our lives and of the world (for they are many). As I count my own blessings, even the seedlings outside, I fill up with gratitude and energy and strength to face the bigger world. 

Taking things for granted can be very dangerous. For me, counting my blessings is an act of faith, a daily prayer. I know from experience that the affirmation of "thank you, thank you, thank you" can be transformational.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

safely home again

I had not even brought the cat carrier up from the basement, and Henry had vanished. When I finally found him, he was smack dab under the middle of the bed in Hannah's room. I had to move both the mattress and the box spring to fetch him!  I'm wondering if he got a telepathic kitty message from his buddy Don Estorbo!  

Henry actually has quite the fan club at the vet's. They are very good to him and smother him with care and love. Maybe someday he will learn to appreciate them...

As you can see, he is home now, in time to finish up the last few scraps of his breakfast. He has retired to the windowsill under the Christmas cactus to watch the goings on in the garden. He has one more week on meds, and then we think all will be fine. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

and then henry asked

please tell me again, why do we have to get up now?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

coming along nicely

I am keeping up with Amandajean at crazymomquilts. 
I may even be a day or two ahead.

I made a few squares with pinks and yellows, but have decided to stick with 
these blues and greens for now. 
May move into aquas and or lavenders...

What a sentimental journey this has been. 
One square is made with fabric from a skirt and jacket set
 my Mom made for me when I was "little".
One with a piece of fabric scraps from the peasant blouse I was wearing
when Peter and I met.
Old kitchen curtains, maternity dresses, 
the quilt I made for Peter when we were still in college,
Baby clothes, dolly dresses.

I feel like Laura and her family in the little house on the prairie.

I'm actually toying with the idea of making a 
companion piece to go with this quilt...a collage with as many 
photos of these items as I can put my hands on.
Wouldn't that be fun?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

twilight magic

Gretta is out tonight, being a senior in high school. Her school's softball team made it into the New England playoffs for the first time in 10 years. They did not advance today, but it wasn't 'cause they didn't try hard. She was glad just to be there.
Batman and I went out to dinner, chatting in the comfort of a leisurely evening. We talked about raising four kids, and putting our hearts and souls into it for these many years. And how good it has been. And we talked about how an empty nest is so full of possibilities...

Friday, May 15, 2009

waaaay too much going on today...

So, I thought I would show you a picture of our dining room, heart of our home (along with the kitchen, of course). This is where the great conversations happen, and the laughing till we snort, and where we play the "what was the best part of your day?"game, and where we dream rural dreams, and count our blessings and gather friends, and miss friends. This table was a wedding present from my Mom and Dad, purchased in, ahem, Vermont. This is the best place to raise a family, around a table. Oh, and I guess we eat here, too.

The tulips are still hanging in from Mother's Day, although leaning a bit to the left, kind of like me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a treat

Earlham's Commencement Address, 2009.

working on new habits (i am such a creature of old habits)

a short, damp walk is better than no walk at all
I am mostly a tea at home kind of girl. But I do like a cafe mocha from the coffee joint...
I'm trying to remember to bring a mug, and leave the paper cups and plastic lids behind the counter.  They even take a few pennies off your drink when you bring your own mug. 
Those pennies will go into the tractor fund jar. :-}

Now that I have tamed the random fabric scraps, I vow to keep them 
under control
Can't remember where I heard this, but I love it:
It's easier to keep up than catch up.

And perhaps the most challenging new habit I am trying to develop is 
keeping the island in the kitchen CLEAR.
It's very hard to do.
But I am working on it.

Because for me, order cultivates creativity and space to breathe. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

giveaway winner

getting ready...
11 names from the comments section, and one email entrant
my scientific selection consultant, Henry
and the winner is...

Mimi, please email me with your mailing address and I will get the fabric off to you ASAP. I really enjoyed checking out everyone's blogs (and encourage those of you who don't have one yet to think about starting one...). I love that under occupation on her blog profile Mimi listed "goddess". I write that on our tax forms and it makes our accountant crazy! So subversive! Ha!

On Monday's posting I mentioned "being more efficient in my studio". Taking tips from my buddy Jane Davila, in her "Minding Your Business" columns in Quilting Arts magazine, I'm working on time management and setting goals. I've always been pretty good about keeping my fabric organized (after all, who doesn't like stacking by color?). But what to do with smallish scraps and snippets has always been solved by pitching them into baskets a bit randomly when finishing up projects. Not, actually, an organized solution after all. So, I am working on ways to get them sorted in a way that makes sense, while working on the one-a-day quilt along project.

I also bought a DayRunner organizer, a place to keep calendar, phone numbers, to do lists, project ideas and sketches, book lists, and scraps of fabric from current projects (in really cool, plastic zippy sleeves) for matching on the run. (Show me a Blackberry that can do all THAT!) All in one place. To pick up and GO with. 

Eating better, walking, getting organized, planning ahead while still living in the moment. It feels good to be doing some spring cleaning of the soul. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a shawl for our friend erin

knit full of love and hope, sending her strength and courage as she and her family face another battle (for that is what it is) with cancer 

it's REALLY not fair when a teen has chemo added to her resume
if it feels right for you, please add your thoughts and/or prayers to mine
it really helps
thank you...

giveaway reminder

Today is the last day to enter your name in the giveaway.......good luck!

Monday, May 11, 2009

seedlings, antwerp station and accountability!

Peter and Gretta dug the holes at our place in Vermont in April...and Peter and Lindsey planted these Fraser Fir seedlings (almost 100!) this past weekend. With 6 acres of beautiful balsams, Peter decided we need to diversify the crop by planting Frasers where other trees have been harvested. Just smart stewardship.
Many thanks to Lindsey for driving up from Boston to lend her Papa a hand. Once they got back home to MA and CT, the younger and the older were both feeling a bit stiff and sore last night! Good work.

And here's something my Mumsie forwarded to me. It's pretty sweet. Thanks, Mom.

Looks like a near perfect forecast for the week ahead. I'm going to work hard at making the most of it...walking for fitness, eating "clean", and being more efficient in my studio. (So now I am accountable!). 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

in the kitchen, spreadin' the love

Gretta cut these spears and brought them  home from the farm on Friday, we ate them steamed, with scrambled "cheddar eggs" and home fries for supper, just the two of us.
2# rolled oats
1/4# sesame seeds
1/2# wheat germ
1/4# hulled sunflower seeds
1# chopped nuts, your choice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
Heat oil, honey, syrup and vanilla til well mixed. Stir mixture into dry ingredients (will be fairly dry). Broil at 500 degrees in greased baking pan, stirring frequently until golden brown. Mix in your choice of dried fruit. 

Been making this for decades, before it was "invented" and marketed in plastic tubs at the grocery store. Franny had this crock made special :-}
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup (1/2 #) butter, softened, NOT melted
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp powdered nonfat milk
Blend until smooth, refrigerate, makes just over 2 cups.

Sourdough bread again, with better results each time. 
Milk and culture going into the yogurt maker tonight.
Shopping for more rhubarb tomorrow, the batch I stewed last week is nearly gone! 

And from Edward Espe Brown, and the Tassajara Recipe Book

I do this chore
not just to get it 
out of the way,
but as the way
to make real
kind connected mind.

May I awaken to what
these ingredients offer,
and may I awaken
best I can
energy, warmth,
this offering of heart
and hand.

Thank you, great mother goddess, for the bounty you provide!


Saturday, May 9, 2009

the original mother's day...

...had nothing to do with flowers, brunches, jewelry, chocolate or cards. This is the (fairly long) story of one of my personal heroes, Julia Ward Howe. Better yet, watch this, a YouTube version of her stirring speech of 1870.  

And check out "code pink"! A bunch of women in our Shawl Ministry group were working on this at our last meeting.

Whatever you end up doing tomorrow, I invite you to take a moment to remember and honor Julia Ward Howe's courage and conviction.  

I offer this as my Mother's Day card to a child, parent, grandparent, aunt, a member of the human family....

If there is to be peace in the world,

there must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,

There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,

There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors, 

There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,

There must be peace in the heart.


Friday, May 8, 2009

fabric giveaway

My brother in law, Chris Reed, is an illustrator and look where his designs ended up! On fabric! Can you imagine?!?

Last weekend, when Peter was at his HS reunion, he stopped at his brother's on the way home to visit and Chris gave him a bag of fabric...a yard of each colourway in this collection, "nuts and robolts". Chris is a generous guy, and I want to pay it forward!

I have cut 14 fat quarters (give or take a few inches) and am offering them as a giveaway.

Please leave a comment here or e mail me at sewandsowlife(at)gmail(dot)com. Leave your first name and last initial, so that I can put your name in the drawing. Deadline is midnight on Tuesday, May 12th. Check back on Wednesday morning to see if you won!

And please check out Chris's website

Thursday, May 7, 2009

spring tonic

Chopped rhubarb+lemon zest and juice+cloves+honey (from our local arboretum, a birthday gift from my friend, Mala)=STEWED RHUBARB.  I wish you could be here in my kitchen to smell it! And tomorrow morning I will have a bowl of plain yogurt, a bit of granola (tomorrow's post) with a generous dollop of stewed rhubarb on top. BLISS!

Check out Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone for specifics.

Rhubarb, along with other early spring edibles are full of antioxidants that can clear winter sluggishness out your system. I remember my GrammieLowry digging tender dandelion greens from her lawn. She would steam them, sprinkle with a bit of apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper and eat them up. I just splurged on a handful of fiddlehead ferns, to steam up tonight...

How do you celebrate spring in your kitchen?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

stitching in season

I have nothing on my knitting needles right now, so this sweet Sashiko is my portable project of the moment... 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

one of those days

Up and out the door early, dropped Gretta at school for her AP Spanish exam (4 HOURS), home again with 45 minutes in my studio, searched the house for Henry, got him into the carrier, off to the vet, where he was poked, prodded, stabbed, cooed over and humiliated. Came home with a smorgasbord of ointments, meds and stuff for his seasonal allergies (!!!). Hopped back in the car, fetched Gretta who has HAD it with AP Spanish, quick lunch and on to the DMV, where, of course, we stood in line forever and watched the paperwork madness play out. On to the Fashion House of Target, where we scored on a dress for the senior banquet (affordable and cute). All the while, hoping the softball game would be cancelled, 'cause it IS raining...but no, it's a go. So I am at home fortifying myself with a cup of tea, will collect sweater, rainpants, umbrella, blanket and plastic blanket for cover, and head back up to school to be a good mom and devoted fan.

But I think Henry has the best he is snuggled in his brand new bed.
At the end of it all, I know I have tortilla soup waiting in the fridge, dropped off by my buddy Liz last night...for CINCO DE MAYO! We will all take a deep breath when we get home, dry off, sit together at the table, enjoy the hot soup and be grateful for friends, family and the fullness of our days. The covers will feel so cozy tonight, with the rain pattering on the roof and the weariness of a productive day.

And tomorrow Gretta has her AP Calculus it a bad thing to be looking forward to the weekend on Tuesday????

8:46 PM post script. The game was played from 4:30-7:30 pm in drizzle/rain and 49 degree weather....very tight game, but the other team prevailed. Such spirit and perseverance they all showed!