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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

more zippy pouches

Denim from old jeans.
Scraps of blue and white fabrics, especially indigo.
For me. To hold the little things that end up
in the bottom of my handbag.
 Here's one I made for Dawn, our daughter-in-law.
She's the director of the cat adoption program 
at their local animal shelter.
I was pretty sure she would like this
"bad kitty" fabric.

What have you been up to lately?
Are you ready for FEBRUARY?

Monday, January 30, 2012

aussie birches in connecticut

Today, I made a pillow with some Ink and Spindle
birch fabric from my cupboards,
and some hemp/linen stripes purchased at GatherHere
while visiting Lindsey earlier this month.
They are so compatible.
And this basmati rice bag makes the perfect up-cycled backing!
The little pillow is a gentle reminder of our
much loved birches in Vermont.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

january delights

still blooming.
grown from a cutting from my grandmother's
not local.
but freshly squeezed in our kitchen.
the last of the paper whites,
sprouting and filled with hope.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


A frayed edge on the kitchen rug.
A denim selvedge.
Pins, needle, thread, leather thimble.

And mending love here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

checking in on accountability projects...

finished by Friday.
I used a softly draping pillow ticking fabric for the skirt.
And I pulled this lovely Japanese indigo out of my fabric stash
to use for the bodice. A gift from my dear friend Dolo, and her 
friend Alice, I had been waiting to find a special project to use this for.
This calligraphy symbolizes autumn,
and it is sweetly done in carrot and acorns.
I am not sure that I would recommend this pattern for a beginner,
because the instructions include very little English,
but a more experienced seamstress can "make do" with the 
cute illustrations.
The pattern is also way too skinny for the likes of my 6' 1/2" frame,
and since it is put on over the head,
a bit more leeway would be quite necessary for me.

I do love the simplicity of this look
and have tucked the apron away for gifting.

(sorry about the quality of the photos today,
it is very gloomy here in CT.) about you?
If you jumped into the accountability pool
with me, have you finished your project yet?
If you have a blog, I invite you to include a link
to your accomplishment!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

are you making progress?

Here's a sneak peek at the apron.
I'm so glad that a bunch of you are joining me with a project you'd like to accomplish this week.
 It's not too late to jump into the accountability pool!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

the ordinary

What we really want
waits within
the ordinary.
-Edward Espe Brown
The Tassajara Recipe Book

Monday, January 23, 2012

a giveaway winner and an invitation

I want to thank you all again for your sweet comments last week. I appreciated every single one of them. This morning, I pulled a name out of a bowl, and the winner of the notecard giveaway is Sarah, at TD Wool Designs. Please send me your snail mail address, Sarah, and I'll get the cards into the mail right away. 

Sometimes at this time of year (especially this morning, when there is freezing rain falling outside) I begin to feel like I'm spinning my wheels just a bit. My "to do" lists begin to blur together, my energy slips, my intentions get foggy...maybe you know this feeling? Well, lately I have been enjoying a few different partnerships with folks I admire and respect. I have created "accountability partnerships" with them. One is a local friend, and we get together periodically to set goals and hold one another accountable to them. Not in a nagging, cranky way, but in a supportive and collaborative way. I stay connected with the other partner, someone who lives further away, via technology.

When we share our goals and aspirations, we write them down and "own" them, and commit to getting them done. Somehow, it's not so easy to push the projects aside for more "urgent" things when I have someone to answer to! Most of the things I've committed to are focused around creativity. And now that I think about it, Batman and I have created a partnership to boost our health by eating better and walking for exercise. 

So here's my invitation. Would you like to articulate just one thing you would really like to accomplish this week? Not something you should do, or need to do.  Just one thing that would make you happy to have accomplished by Friday. Something that might have otherwise gotten lost in the shuffle of the week's activities...

Maybe if we write our one goal here in the comments,  we can be motivated by accountability, and we'll have some fun things to celebrate on Friday. 

(I am going to sew up this apron, from a pattern I bought at Nido late last summer. I have been meaning to make it for ages. This week I'll just DO IT!)

Are you in? 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

snowy saturday link love

When I crept out of bed and peeked out the window, I saw snow and grinned. The meetings that were scheduled for today were cancelled due to the forecast. I went downstairs and lit a fire. Henry joined me for a cup of tea before Batman was up. The three of us have spent the better part of the day here, relaxing, reading, chatting and watching the birds at the feeder. Such a luxury...a "found" day.

Today we ordered seeds for our gardens in Vermont from High Mowing Seeds. Remembering last season's gardens and dreaming about the next is such a good thing to do in the middle of January. Lately I have been enjoying this book. And while interviewing a young person for the admissions office at Earlham, he quoted this book. I read it when I was in the 7th grade (100 years ago), and decided to revisit it now (thank you, Lucas). 

This CD has been spinning in my car all week. Can't get enough. Don't know why. :-)

Discovered these patterns via Pinterest. Have any of you tried them?

I've caught up on some snail mail correspondence and wrote a card to Gretta, who is sleeping her way through an exotic Australian version of mono. She feels very far away from us, in her dorm room in Illinois. Please send her some good energy. xo.

Do you have any link love to share?

P.S. There's still time to leave a comment over here, for the notecard giveaway. (Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments over there. They made my day.)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

sew and sow life is 3!

As always, thank you, dear readers for your comments, e-mails and snail mail. I appreciate your encouragement and companionship on this blogging adventure. When I started posting three years ago, I had no idea where it would lead. So many of you have become kindred spirits. And I have found so many great blogs out there in cyber-land, filled with inspiration, information and solace (for sometimes the world wears down even the most determined of us...)

I recently placed another moo order, and put together a few packs of new, spring notecards. If you would like a chance to find a pack of these cards in your very own mailbox, please leave a comment here, on this post. Comments will close at midnight on Sunday, and I'll post the winner's name on Monday morning. I also ordered some other goodies, related to a Reed family project, which I'll write about next week.

Stay cozy, friends!

oops! I forgot to invite you to send an e-mail, if you don't want to/can't leave a comment.
Also, I'm happy to ship anywhere.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

vert mont

some of the golden flecks on the formica countertops have been 
wiped away with age.
the vegetable bins in the fridge are held together with
medical tape.
if someone wants to take a shower, the kitchen faucet is
off limits.
the house heaves just a bit in the wild winds coming up the valley.
the living spaces are awkward.
the denim sofa has faded to a pale grey.

but the view is amazing and the lure 
is irresistible to friends and family, both.

wherever i am in the world, whatever i am doing,
i have a longing,
and such a sense of place

i think i am a homing pigeon.
(please, don't anyone tell henry.
there could be trouble).

Friday, January 13, 2012

kitchen gods

remover of obstacles.
he usually sits on the windowsill over the kitchen sink.
i wonder where the obstacles come from.
some just are.
some may be unrecognized opportunities.
some simply test my patience.

sometimes we chat over the soap suds, he and i.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

reverse applique

Thanks for all of your enthusiastic comments on last week's post showing a bit of reverse applique. I thought some of you might be interested in reading about the technique.

First, I want to let you know that the pieces shown today are NOT my work, but pieces I have collected over the many years that I have been under the spell of hand crafted textiles.

This is a hand stitched piece in the Hmong tradition (cudos to you, Suz!). You can read more about Hmong handwork and culture here. I suspect that this piece was sewn to sell and is fairly newly made. I bought it at a quilt show.
The stitches in this piece are so tiny they are nearly invisible, and the precision of the design is quite remarkable.
This piece is a relatively old mola, most likely stitched in Central America. (Did you know that Batman grew up in Latin America, and has an appreciation of these beauties!)
These stitches are a bit more rustic, and look at all those layers of color!

Reverse applique is done by layering several fabrics, then cutting away bits of it, turning the raw edges under to expose what's underneath and then stitching the edges carefully, to hold them in place.  For a tutorial on "how to", click here.
I took the idea of reverse applique and added some very simple embroidery stitching to get this more simple and modern look. (It became a tea towel).

One of my fascinations with hand stitched textiles is the way they are so often related to one another, across time and continents and cultures. The Hmong tribes in Asia and the Cunas of Central America each created distinct yet similar techniques to tell their stories. I think that's quite magical.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

personhood 101

paper scraps spell out
be who you are.

(from the quote that's been on the sidebar of 
sewandsowlife from day one)

Monday, January 9, 2012

monday, monday


who knew, when we were raising our four kids, that we were
creating our very own fountain of youth that would replenish us
years down the road?

i stayed close to that fountain
while hanging out with lindsey and her posse of friends in boston
this past weekend.
artists (check this out), a scientist, musicians, a nurse...
smart, optimistic and funny...
the future is in good hands.

lindsey and i went on a mission to find more inspiration
 for the new year...
to freshen the pot, to shake off the weary,
to commit to new habits.

  • paper source, where i got to "spend" a holiday gift certificate.
  • blick art supplies, where the scent and sights in the watercolor aisle reminded me of my dad.
  • an asian market, where i finally found rice paper to make summer rolls.
  • gather here, where we discovered the sweetest fabric/yarn salon.
  • walking in the city, people watching and window shopping, all in the 55 degree warmth. odd.
  • eating mostly good food. :-) and baking molasses cookies.
  • good, affirming conversations that renewed and cheered me.
  • a quick visit with my mumsie and sister-in-law, ra.
  • home again, just in time for downton abbey with batman!
art every day this week, with lindsey as partner.
walking every day this week, twice with batman after work.

yeah, 2012.
we're kickin' it in week two.

how 'bout you?

Thursday, January 5, 2012


playing with reverse applique today.
sometimes hand-stitching is imperfect and spontaneous. 
and a little pocket of calm in an ordinary day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

mustard gold and aqua

having a little nine patch fun,
with sashing added.
blending new and old fabrics.

listening to the weepies.
drinking my new favorite, kukicha tea.
loving the new "owney the postal dog" stamps i bought this morning.

is it really wednesday already?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

a good start

  • pantry/fridge...tidy, inventory, shop...check.
  • gifts that wouldn't fit in westbound luggage...pack, label and stack by front door...check.
  • sheets/towels/table linens from vermont house...wash, fold, pack into bags for next trip...check.
  • "held", read, sort...check.
  • 2012 calendar...update...check.
  • thank you notes...write, address, stamp, mail...check.
  • board work...assess scope, schedule, set aside...check.
I have felt like I've been channeling my beloved paternal grandmother all day long.  Tomorrow I'll get myself into my sewing studio right after breakfast.

How has your 2012 started off so far?

Monday, January 2, 2012

inspired in 2012

After a wonderful holiday season at our "bit of earth" in Vermont, Henry, Batman and I are empty nesters once again, and back in the "real world" in CT. 

I have been finding inspiration over at the whole living website, which is full of great recipes and wellness tips. Gretta invited me to join her on the 21 day yoga challenge over at the Yoga Journal website, where they are offering wonderful support for creating new and healthy habits. We watched the documentary Knives Over Forks while in VT and were inspired anew to pay attention to what we eat.

And I'm refreshing my supply of checklists for my daily intentions, which I'd like to bring with me into 2012.

I'm lucky to have found an accountability buddy and for the past six weeks or so we've been sharing aspirations and goals and timelines. We plan to carry this into 2012 as well.

My Etsy shop has been on vacation for a few weeks, but as you can see from the stack of gorgeous fabrics (above), I am now poised for some fun sewing this week. I'll be reopening the shop next week.

My volunteer commitments continue to grow,  and I love the work they ask of me. (In the interest of balance,  I occasionally remind myself of Anne Lamott's wisdom  that "no is a complete sentence").

I look to TED talks and On Being to stretch my mind and my spirit. And there's always the ongoing room painting to keep us busy... you know how many days are left until season two of Downton Abbey ???  A guilty pleasure, to be sure.

So, dear friends, what inspires you these days?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

starting the new year with hope

Hope begins in the dark, 
the stubborn hope that if you just show up 
and try to do the right thing, 
the dawn will come. 
You wait and watch and work; you don't give up.
-Anne Lamott

and here's a link to an old and favorite post.