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

Friday, August 31, 2012


it's been very quiet here at sewandsowlife because i've been having some computer problems. hope to be back soon. hope all is well with you and i hope you have a safe weekend. xo

Sunday, August 26, 2012

i see it...

...peeking out of the woods. my pile of board reading.
...moving from the garden to the kitchen.
...and tempting the birds.

hints of AUTUMN.

i await you, dearest of seasons!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

summer b&b

we have been up to our eyeballs in visitors.
the kitchen and clothesline have been busy, busy, busy.
and there will be no let up for a week or so.

hospitality, reunions, family and friends,
re-connecting with old and meeting new 
(especially a wee swedish toddler).

is this not what makes life worth living?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

oh, i am a sucker for beautiful fabric...

napkins for my aunt margretta.
a tablecloth for my mumsie.

sometimes fabric speaks to me
and whispers someone's name in my ear.

how can i not take the bolt off the shelf,
ask for a yard or two and stitch a bit?

wrapping, addressing the package
and sending it off.

it's the next best thing to giving a hug in person.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guest Post from Gretta: Miniature Swap

I received a mysterious letter in the mail a few months back from "Uncle Thrasher's General Store"...
...but with lots of kooky artistic friends I figured it had to be something good!

It turned out to be a letter from a childhood friend who's now in art school 
doing a miniature art swap around the theme of a general store.

After a summer in the woods of Vermont, the deadline was coming down to the wire, so in the last few days I whipped up these wee eggplants.

They are made of paperclay and painted with two coats of watercolors.


Can't wait to see what tid bits I get in return!

Friday, August 17, 2012

sometimes having lots to do can paralyze me.
sometimes having lots to do can invigorate me.
this week i have been bouncing back and 
forth between these two possibilities.

eye doctor, dentist and back to school shopping with gretta.
(the very last time i will do back to school shopping,
and i've been doing it since our oldest 
went off to kindergarten in 1987)!
post-camp laundry (eeeew)!
volunteer work, ramping up as the academic year looms.
refereeing henry and javier, together again for a week.
multiple projects in the sewing studio (photos to follow).
catching up with a dear friend over soy lattes,
(thanks, stacy, for the breather).

what did i do when the paralysis set in?
true confessions?
 a boy meets world marathon with gretta.
browsing catalogs that arrived while i was in vt.

what do you do when paralysis gets to you?
or do you have strategies to avoid it?

do you like aubergines?
check back tomorrow for a guest post from gretta.

Monday, August 13, 2012


We have left our "bit of earth" for a while.
Making the dreaded turn onto Rte 89, southbound,
was easier with a bunch of garden produce stashed in the cooler.
Gretta and I are back in CT, and we have a busy week planned.
(lots of sewing!)

What are you up to this week?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

from the garden to the pantry

up for the weekend, lindsey helped me pick the
yellow wax beans that are coming on strong.
fresh garlic cloves from the garden,
dill and a dash of cayenne pepper 
perch on top of the beans,
waiting for the heated brine
and then 10 minutes in the hot water bath.

i felt such satisfaction as i heard each jar "pop",
sealing in the summer goodness.

organic and homegrown and made with love.

Friday, August 10, 2012

keeping up with things

Yesterday, our friend Rhett finished brush hogging our meadow and lower area. We hire Rhett to come once a year, to clear the land. Because we are part-time Vermonters, and don't have the equipment (yet) to keep up with this task, we appreciate his help. If we just let the open space grow wild, within a few years we'd have small trees taking hold out there. Since we're not sure yet what we'll do with those beautiful, open acres (terraced garden beds? goat pasture?) we'll keep Rhett's phone number handy. 
Last night, I went out onto the three season porch to watch some approaching thunderstorms (amazing!). The lupine seed pods caught me by surprise...they had opened and popped their tiny seeds all over the porch. 
(taken in early June)
 I spent quite a bit of time, picking them up one by one and stashing them in a jar. These are the things we do for dreams of a lupine meadow...

Later this afternoon, I'm off to town to buy vinegar and canning salt, then I'll head to the Green Mountain Girls Farm for dill (and other good stuff). Can you guess what I'm up to?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

riffing a recipe

summer pasta 
Sarducci's in Montpelier is one of our favorite places to go for a lunchtime treat. The first time we went there, I ordered Cappellini de Verdure. It was so fabulous that despite my frequent resolutions to try something new, I rarely order anything else. Here's how it's described on the menu,"Angel hair pasta with spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, tomatoes and goat cheese in a white wine basil sauce".

The sungold cherry tomatoes are coming on strong here in our gardens, and I thought I'd try to make a pasta dish that featured them, with the Cappellini de Verdure as inspiration. I "made do" with what I had on hand and this is what I came up with.

In the time that I boiled some whole wheat pasta, I made the sauce.

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large (fresh) garlic clove, chopped lightly
1 large handful of cherry tomatoes (from the garden), sliced in half
3 artichoke hearts, sliced in half
a handful of Kalamata olives
two scallions, sliced thin
2" cube of feta cheese, cut into small cubes
a bit of fresh oregano, with blossoms, (from the garden), chopped

Heat oil in cast iron pan.
Saute garlic for a minute or two.
Add scallions and tomatoes, stir a minute.
Add artichoke hearts and olives, stir another minute, until all is heated through.
Plate pasta, spoon vegetables on top. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle feta on top, and oregano, too. Top with a little salt (the feta is very salty, so this is optional) and a generous grind of black pepper.

This recipe could be adjusted to add any number of fresh vegetables. I think the trick is to keep everything simple and quick. There's nothing worse than fresh, summer vegetable that have been literally cooked to death!

Most afternoons, during this hot, hot summer, there's a spell when the breeze up here on the ridge drops, the sun bakes and it all just feels like too much for me. I really am not a summer gal, and I work hard at finding my way through it. Sometimes I use this time of day to read, or write. Yesterday I did some mending. Some of the bedsheets had a hole or two, so I tackled them while listening to NPR. Very satisfying, and I felt the presence of both my grandmothers, who were thrifty women.

This summer, my cousin Kristen, her partner Gary and I have been enjoying "movie night" on Wednesdays. We choose a movie, I order it from Netflix, they come up the hill, we make supper together and watch the movie in the coolness of the downstairs dorm. Kristen and Gary are self-described "movie snobs" so we stick to foreign films and documentaries. Last night we saw The Women on the 6th Floor, which was in French and Spanish, with English subtitles. It was a sweet movie, and a bit of a relief after the last few heavier movies we've seen.

Last night we made summer rolls for supper, something I have long been wanting to try. I found the recipe, here, a few years ago, on one of my favorite blogs.  They were wonderful! We used all sorts of slivered veggies for the filling and we loved the texture that the noodles added. Strips of Asian seasoned baked tofu added some protein. Kristen brought green beans from their garden down the hill, and she sauteed them with garlic and sesame oil, and sprinkled them with some plum vinegar at the end. We also has local corn on the cob.  So healthy, delicious and fun!

I hope all of you are enjoying some summer your gardens, or your local farm stands, in your kitchens and in the relationships you value most. xo

Monday, August 6, 2012

noticing, celebrating and finding wonder

I woke this morning to a fresh and clear day, with many thanks to the drenching thunderstorms last night (thank you, Mother Nature!). I brewed a cup of tea and walked a bit. As I stood at the top of this wall, which says "their property on the left and ours on the right", I pondered the bombing of Hiroshima (67 years ago, today), and recent shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. There are so many things that separate humans from one another...walls, religion, misunderstanding, class, culture, sexual orientation, resources, ignorance, greed, fear...sadly, the list goes on and on.

It is difficult. It is exhausting and wearying. I cannot ignore it, so I try to find my way through it.

I cannot change the past. If I am to accomplish any good work in the future, I strive to cultivate and absorb and be in the present moment. 
And I celebrate.
I celebrate ordinary, everyday blessings.
Sometimes it's as simple as looking up.
Or noticing what's right under my nose.
Like a simple mug of homemade granola, homegrown blueberries and yogurt...

I take a silly delight in how well a multi-grain English muffin can accomodate the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes I found at the Green Mountain Girls Farm the other day. Slather some mayo, sprinkle with salt and pepper, layer with pea sprouts, and you end up with a mighty fine supper.
I send a shout out to Dog River Farm, where an "honor system" money box at the farm stand made me smile. (Thank you for the fabulous corn on the cob).

I get a kick out of the many dogs around here, who ride in trucks and cars, with their heads poking out of open windows, tongues hanging in the breeze and ears flapping.

I  love my evening meditation out in the yard, as I watch the sun go down over the mountains, and feel the cooling breeze as it lifts the boughs of the balsams and rustles the birches. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I hear an owl or the coyotes.

Noticing, celebrating and finding wonder in the small things...that's what fuels and sustains me as I tackle the big stuff in life. 

What are you noticing, celebrating and finding wonder in today?

Friday, August 3, 2012

critters in the kitchen!

Our windowsill menagerie was getting a bit cobwebby,
so the critters had a bubble bath this morning.
They all ended up looking so fresh and chipper, I thought a
family portrait would make a fine header for August.
Our kitchen here at our "bit of earth" is on the small side. 
Clementine boxes are one of my "go to" storage solutions.
Perched above a windowsill, the tea towels and berry boxes
wait for their chance to pitch in to the hustle and bustle around here.
The wooden gizmo came back from Mexico with Hannah,
it's used to make divine hot chocolate.
Do you save rubber bands?
Ours collect on a nail until they migrate to a drawer.
(Would our grandmothers be horrified to learn that these days
folks actually pay money for balls made of rubber bands?)
Happy weekend, dear readers!