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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

sock monkey tablecloth

our son, stewart, and his wife dawn, 
(who live in far away oregon) are thrifty young people, 
and so they host "game night" for their friends on friday nights.
i made this silly tablecloth for their card table
 for stew for his birthday.
he is a fun guy, so i think he'll appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

reclaiming balance

when the news of toppled oil rigs and fragile economies 
starts to feel heavy and overwhelming,
i tour the day's projects with my mug of tea
and my furry companion.
i eat my granola and yogurt out in the chilly sunshine,
admiring my bleeding heart hedge.
and i come back inside to look up lilacs in 

it says, "the lilac... the joy of youth".

happy birthday #28, on the 28th of april
to our firstborn, stewart.

sometimes it's that simple.
i am renewed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


  • this is the family room, which over the years has hosted lego landscapes, children's books, a craft table, piano practicing, birthday parties, sleep overs, movie nights and gangs of teens.
  • now that all four children are away more than they are home, they have encouraged me to dream big. they are my most enthusiastic supporters, along with their papa. 
  • my mantra this year has been, "an empty nest is full of possibilities".
  • so, the old family room is almost my new studio.
  • i chose benjamin moore's  "calm" (2111-70) as the color for the studio. and its cousin, "stone harbor" (2111-50) for the cupboards. photos of the painted walls soon!
  • floor plans sketched on graph paper, organizing supplies, painting old mismatched cupboards, silk screening a curtain(!) ...i am looking forward to the fun of making this space mine.
and i LOVED reading your opinions about the messiness/tidiness of creativity. many thanks to everyone who left a comment yesterday!

Monday, April 26, 2010


despite my efforts to tidy up, declutter and find calm,
sometimes it just gets messy.
 i'm not sure if the messiness helps or hinders
the creative process.
how does it work at your house?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

open garden

My good friends, Liz and Paul, invited me along to
stroll an open garden.
Our visit was made all the more magical by the misty rain.

The greenness,  
the blossoming trees,
the ferns and the bulbs...
it was all so calm and peaceful and 
absolutely beautiful.
Some carefully tended, 
and some wild and natural.
An inspiration/aspiration.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

a walking pouch

A linen selvedge, French knots and lightweight canvass.
Well, the original project was, shall we say...unsuccessful?
Yesterday, while finding sanctuary in my studio, 
from the upheaval of a crew of painters, *
I did some spontaneous play...
...and created this little pouch.
Perfect for my get-your-butt-outside walks.
Just enough room for a set of keys, a license and phone/music.

It feels so good to rescue and transform
 the energies of a disappointment!

*will post photos of the newly lovely walls next week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

the day after earth day...

Yesterday, I spent a bit of time roaming around some of my favorite places on the internet, to see what was up on Earth Day. I found all sorts of ideas, challenges and attitudes about the whole green movement. Over at playful noshings, I found a link to Catalyst Magazine. Rebecca Brenner has a wonderful piece about "greenwashing" (sadly, related to brainwashing...) and includes some great recipes for DIY cleaning products.

I also took a look through my files of magazine tear outs. Last April's issue of Real Simple magazine had an article on back-to-basics cleaning, and I was delighted to find that glycerin really does help remove old wax on candlesticks! (I think I bought the magazine because the cover was so lovely. I really am trying to keep most catalogs and magazines out of my house these days.)

Bea, over at The Zero Waste Home is very ambitious. She has great ideas on how to manage all the stuff that life throws at us.

Fix it Friday continues over at maya*made, where readers are challenged to make repairs themselves or call in a repairperson before throwing something out. I must confess, I tried to replace the washers on my bathroom sink and was not successful. But I tried. And now I am looking for other things to fix!

I sometimes like to use a dry mop to tidy up my kitchen at night, or round up some of Henry's fur under the dining room table. The "refills" for these dusters are disposable and come in cardboard boxes that must be recycled. Lately I've been using washable micro fiber cloths instead. They are a little more bulky than the disposables, but they work just fine.

I knit organic cotton yarn into dish towels to give as gifts to some of my kids for the winter holidays. Recently, I used up some leftover yarn to make one for myself (see above). They are super absorbent and soft to the touch.

I still struggle with the BIG environmental questions in my maintaining two homes, and the fuel we use to drive back and forth. This is a temporary situation, and once we are up in Vermont full time, our footprint will be much smaller...but this still troubles me. We belong to several environmental groups and support them as generously as we can. And we've worked hard to raise some environmentalists of our of them may even be a bit rabid! :-)

So, gentle readers, every day is Earth Day in my mind...I try to be aware of the choices I make on a daily basis. Sometimes I am better at this than others. It's a work in process, for sure.

How about you?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

celebrating gaia

Although I did not call her by that name then,
my love for the Wild Woman began when I was a little child.
I was an aesthete rather than an athlete,
and my only wish was to be an ecstatic wanderer.
Rather than chairs and tables, 
I preferred the ground, trees, and caves,
for in theses places I felt I could lean against the cheek of God.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Women Who Run with the Wolves 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

revisiting a truth

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 
It turns what we have into enough, and more. 
It turns denial into acceptance, 
chaos to order, confusion to clarity. 
It can turn a meal into a feast, 
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. 
Gratitude makes sense of our past, 
brings peace for today, 
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
-Melody Beattie 

Monday, April 19, 2010

yom hashoah

i go to hear two survivors bear witness.
every year i am stunned anew when she pulls up her sleeve 
and shows the string of numbers tattooed on her forearm.
i go to hear the mourners' kaddish,
i go to resist complacency,
to become recommitted.
i go to hear the madrigals sing 
remember my song, by Albrecht/Althouse.

and i carry this prayer with me out into the spring morning...
i will remember.
i will act bravely in love.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


in the midst of a very busy,
"to-do list" kind of weekend,

i have stopped.

to catch my breath.
to find my balance.
to relocate my center.
to appreciate beauty right under my nose.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

more decor

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.
I am looking for color for my new studio, a very big, bright room.
And color for our living, dining and front hall.
I've been back to the paint store and my head is reeling anew.
So, I went out in the back yard and decided I'd much rather shop there. 
I can't decide between the plush carpet or...
the subtle flowered pattern.
I fell in love with this wallpaper,
but wonder if this fresh look is more restful?
I have special ordered this sink.
And have my eye on this side table.
sigh. I really prefer this sort of shopping...

Friday, April 16, 2010

decisions, decisions...

i love, love, love colors.
but sometimes life requires neutrals.

and there are so many neutrals!!!

i need your help!
do you have a favorite neutral wall color?
please let me know.
many thanks.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

55, here i come!

The Holy Wind swirled through the human being,
then left its marks as lines on finger and toe.
-Navajo proverb

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

today I am 54 and life just gets better.

Here is a picture of the amazing gift my friend Judy made for me.
It's a fabric portrait of my sweet Henry cat, 
inspired by this photo I posted a year ago in February.

Look closely and you can see his whiskers and corduroy-ish forehead.
I was so moved by this thoughtful gift that I got a bit weepy.
And I'm deeply grateful to Judy for her generosity of spirit.
(and also charmed by the way she attributed her inspiration
on the back of the piece, no copyright infringement here!)

So, later today "I'm on the road to find out"*
as I review this past year's road map and consider what might be
on the horizon for this coming year.
I have a good feeling about things...

*with thanks to Cat Stevens

P.S. for a very funny blast from the past, check this out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

another artsy craftsy extravaganza

ATC (artist trading card) made by Judy.
Two ATC cards made by my Mumsie.
My ATC to throw into the mix.

Do you remember last fall, when some of us had
an "artsy craftsy extravaganza" at my Mumsie's house?

Well, we used the very same formula this time around.
Women related by family+women related by marriage+
women related by friendship+good food+handwork=
good times.

I've just been to Massachusetts and back, with an overnight in between.
Potluck lunch, ATC's, show and tell, knitting projects, Etsy ideas,
gardening chat and good conversation...
We also shared lots of books full of ideas.
Then my Aunt Margretta and sister-in-law Ra
had to head back to their own homes.
My Mumsie, Judy and I went fabric shopping, out to supper
and chatted into the evening.
This morning we had breakfast at a local spot
and filled the morning with internet surfing, gabbing
and Judy and I compared notes on our homework
for Jane's class.

Judy gave me an extraordinary gift.
Check back tomorrow for a picture.
I need to use natural light to photograph it.

Did I mention that I am blessed?
How about you?
Do you have intergenerational friendships,
handwork friends, gardening buddies
or some other way to be connected?
Maybe you have a great book club.
Tell us about them!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

my life for the next few weeks...

handmade card, march 2010
The Three Rules of Work
  1. Out of clutter, find simplicity.
  2. From discord, find harmony.
  3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
-attributed to Albert Einstein

We are embarking on some major projects here at our house in CT, requiring elbow grease, ruthless purging and fresh starts. I am excited about it and dreading it at the same time. Breathe, right?

...And happy birthday to my buddy, Potts. Read about her strength and grace here and here.            

Friday, April 9, 2010

another recipe...granola

a jar for me, a bag for lindsey in boston, and a bag for hannah in indiana

earlier this week, lindsey reported that she had bought some granola
 at the store, and she said it tasted like cardboard!
she proposed a swap..some homemade granola for 
a handcrafted lino stamp. I said, "it's a deal!"

Here's the recipe I've been using for 35 years. When you make your own, you know exactly what goes into it. I use mostly organic ingredients. 

2 lbs. rolled oats
1/4 lb. sesame seeds
1/2 lb. wheat germ
1/4 lb.  hulled sunflower seeds
1 lb. chopped nuts, your choice
1 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

HEAT oil, sweetener, and vanilla until well mixed.
STIR liquid mixture with other ingredients. Mixture will be fairly dry.
PLACE mixture in a greased baking pan and broil (or bake) at 500 degrees, STIRRING FREQUENTLY, until golden brown. Watch carefully, it can burn quickly.

Sometimes I add 1/2 lb. raisins/currants or dried cranberries after I've cooked the granola.

Non fat yogurt, granola and fresh fruit is my go-to breakfast of choice.  Enjoy!

P.S. Melanie asked about the "#" symbol I had used in the original post....I have changed the "#" for clarification to "lb" or pound. Call me old fashioned!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

bygone loveliness

This was my Great Aunt Addie's book.
Its front page, written in lovely script reads,
"Miss A. D. Billings. Merry Christmas 1896, Frederick W. Swan".
Published by F. Warne and Co., the cover is embossed 
and the page edges are gilded.
(Warne and Co. also published my beloved Beatrix Potter's books).

Did you know that snowdrops represent a friend in need, and hope, too?
The crocus, cheerfulness, and hope as well.
Buttercups represent both riches, and memories of childhood.
Lily of the valley, the return to happiness.

These past few days have been steeped in blossoms, 
sunshine and unusual warmth.
It's been a bit intoxicating!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

from the cupboard

i bought this design, printed on white fabric ages and ages ago.
and i embroidered it and quilted it ages ago.
this morning, i added a folded turquoise frame and 
am binding it with a leafy motif cotton.
(thinking about drawing my own design next time)
not sure if i call this procrastinating or completing...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

passing along some fun

i was playing in the kitchen today!

  • maya*made has another fun idea. read about "fix it friday" here.
  • i've never had so much fun doing homework. seriously. i signed up, and jane has got me thinking big.
  • good tv over at m. heart's blog.
  • lovely geninne offers up a free embroidery pattern.
what have you found that you'd like to pass along?

Monday, April 5, 2010

trying something new...sharing recipes

Gram Lowry's Applesauce Cake

2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar*
1 egg
1 cup apple sauce
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 cup seedless raisins

*recipe calls for light brown sugar, i used what i had on hand...dark brown sugar, tasted fine.

  • Sift flour, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • Cream shortening until soft and smooth.
  • Add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy.
  • Add egg and beat until very light
  • Combine applesauce, lemon rind, and vinegar and add alternately with dry ingredients, beating well after each addition. 
  • Stir in raisins.
  • Turn into greased 8x8x2 inch pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees (moderate oven) for 45 minutes.
  • Cool.
  • Frost with your choice OR dust with confectioner's sugar.

Friday, April 2, 2010

good tidings

i love to wake up at our "bit of earth", brew a cup of tea
and stroll outside.
this morning there's still snow on the hills across the valley,
and a bit of mist in the hollows.
but you can see the faint blush of budding trees.
the urgency and the promise of renewal.
just when us winter weary new englanders need it most. 
here's a view of the muddy, corduroy-ed road that 
becomes a bit of a challenge to drive on,
 especially around midday when the sun really warms things up.

batman and i will be enjoying a bit of a retreat up here.
unplugged and away until monday.

sending all of you wishes for 
peace, quiet reflection and joy in the light and love of the season.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

a spring spring

here's the little spring, bubbling up in our yard.
it's right at the base of this lilac,
look at the stream it has produced.
the waterfall at the neighbor's and
 the stream that runs under our driveway
are gushing.
what a wild time we've had!

If there is magic on this planet,
it is contained in water.
-Loren Eiseley

and thanks for all the kind and gentle comments yesterday.

p.s. wishing you a foolish day!