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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

yellow for cheer

  • golden beets, prepped for a salad with pistachios and tarragon, recipe here.
  • one of four meyer lemons, our local citrus, growing on the windowsill.
  • forsythia fabric, via golly bard's spoonflower collection, stitched up into a quilt top, ready for quilting. (sneak peek on the banner).
Just prodding spring a bit.
How are things looking where you live?

There's still time to enter the notecard

Sunday, March 29, 2015

dear readers, i snapped

It was 7 degrees Fahrenheit here when we woke up.
Even my winter-loving patience is wearing thin.
I 'm reposting a few of these pictures because I need 
them to remind me that Persephone 
really, really will return.


(There's still time to enter the giveaway, here). 

Friday, March 27, 2015

notecard giveaway

I haven't hosted a giveaway here in ages, and my etsy shop has been on vacation for ages too. I really don't see reopening it until next fall after the house rehab and Gretta's wedding. So I thought why not open the cupboard and offer a pack or two of my "celebrating the ordinary" notecards?

Printed on card stock credited by the Forest Stewardship Council, the cards are PH neutral. Coated with a satin finish on the front, the inside of the card is uncoated for ease in writing. There are six cards in each pack, with six different images.

If you would like to toss your name in for a chance to find one of these packets tucked in your mailbox, please leave a comment here, or send an e-mail to me at sewandsowlife(at)gmail(dot) com. Be sure to let me know how to find you if you win.

I will draw two winners at random on April first, in celebration of all the wonderful fools in this world. I'll announce the winners by 5PM, EST that day.

I will ship anywhere, because I love snail mail. Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


it is a cold and grey day here in vermont.
(rain! for the first time in months, it is not snow!)

it's a perfect afternoon to grab a bit of time at the desk...
such comfort in a cup of fennel tea and a bit of correspondence.

a postcard headed to russia via postcrossing,
one to australia to a long time internet friend,
a letter to arizona to my best buddy from college days 
and an annual donation to my beloved earlham college.

the way a wee little stamp can transport sentiment is simply magical,
don't you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

what a difference a zero makes!

when we woke up yesterday, the temperature was 4 degrees.
this afternoon it has risen to 40!
at long last,
the winter is loosening her grip on us.
the snow is receding from the edges...
of roads, fields and our garden boxes.
soon it will be time to tidy up the place,
including branches that batman pruned
from our apple trees last month.

rubber boots, gardening gloves and maybe a sweatshirt.
oh, what a delightful day that will be!

Monday, March 23, 2015

woolen yarn and storied yarns

It was only 5 degrees when we woke up this morning, so I am casting on some wool, in preparation for tonight's knitting group. It snowed on Saturday and a little on Sunday, and it really is hard to imagine spring arriving anytime soon. I'm knitting up a quick hat in black Peace Fleece, and I love supporting this company (we're all about multiple bottom lines around here). Now that my patient Batman is off at work, I use a director's chair to help me wind a skein of wool into a ball.

Sometimes when I try to be a well-informed citizen of the world, I can become overwhelmed by the negativity that's out there. Balancing "current events" with some carefully selected "human interest" stories can rescue my heart.  Here are a few worthwhile links you might enjoy...
  • My brother Doug recommended this documentary to us. We hosted a movie night up here last night and really loved the film. We got it as a DVD from Netflix.
  • Do you know of StoryCorps? I heard this one a few weeks ago and loved it. I heard this one last week and had tears in my eyes as I emptied the dish drainer. 
  • The Moth Radio Hour is another wonderful place to hear first person stories. I listened to this episode twice I was so moved by it.
Let me know if you listen to any of these links and how you like them. And please, share any stories that you have enjoyed here in the comments. Thanks, friends! 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

will this help or will this hinder?

lately i'm asking myself "will this help or will this hinder?"
i'm asking this about many of the choices i make during the day.
what i eat, how i use my time, how i engage in conversations...

will this help or will this hinder
a well lived life?

*recipe for forbidden black rice salad here
*recipe for roasted broccoli salad here

so good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

a week has flown by

It has been snowing all day long here in Vermont. Cold, windy and grey, it has been a good day to stay inside and get caught up on so many things, including my sewandsowlife. 

Last week I went to Massachusetts, to kidnap my Mumsie and get her out of her snowbound house. Visiting family and doing errands and eating good food filled our time. Then it was back to Vermont for me, and two of our kids and a beau tumbled into the house the next day. Hannah donned her newly finished leg warmers (she politely said she had forgotten all about them and was delighted to have them). We adventured on muddy roads over to Fat Toad Farm to play with the sweetest baby goats and Icelandic sheepdog puppies (love). On Sunday morning we all tried to do this, and ended up laughing a lot and pledging to do some practicing.

You might remember that Batman retired from the corporate world last fall. Then he rested his weary soul for four months. A few weeks ago, he started working at a new job, one that we used to talk about when we were dreaming our Vermont dreams. The Bank of Good Karma dropped it in his lap, and he is having so much fun. Our lazy days of late breakfasts and "what do you want to do today" conversations are gone, but new routines have formed and we are back to sharing stories of our days at suppertime.  

Today, phase one of our renovation project officially began, as evidenced by the photo above. This old gem sat in a corner of the basement, next to the washing machine, not far from the furnace. The throne room indeed. We'll get a post up on the rehab blog soon, as the project gains momentum. Getting-so-excited.

Oh, life, you are rarely dull. Thank you for that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

sometimes this happens

A confident knitter I am not. As long as everything goes along as required I'm just fine. But sometimes I realize I've knit when I should have purled. A few rows ago. Oh, how I do panic. And I just loose my nerve and set the project down. I go back to have another look at it once or twice, and finding nothing but mystery, I begin to avoid the project. And then I feel a bit haunted by it. There is clearly no progress and I feel badly.

These gorgeous and very simple leg warmers fell into a deep hibernation this winter. (Pattern here.) They were supposed to go to Hannah for Christmas (I told you the hibernation was deep!). I really don't know how the ribbing got off track, but it did, and they languished in a basket under the coffee table for months. (She hangs her head in embarrassment). 

A very wonderful and very Vermont thing came to my rescue. Did you hear this story on NPR about Front Porch Forum? An online group for neighbors, Front Porch Forum allows users to post a variety of needs/wants/trades/info. I finally posted a wish for a knitting guru. Within minutes, my inbox was filled with offers of help, and very kind invitations. A group of knitters gathers at our local library every Monday evening to knit and chat and wouldn't I like to come and join them? 

Oh, I did feel a flood of relief. Each person's response was warm and genuine and each offer of help made me feel more hopeful about my leg warmers. Several very stormy Monday evenings came and went and I stayed home. But last night, encouraged by the warm temperatures and extended daylight, I made my way down the hill and into the circle of women. Teachers, grandmas, farmers, old, young and in between (such fabulous knitters they are!)...I fell right in with them. My knitting snafu was solved and I have been knitting up a storm since. 

Sometimes we just need to ask for help. This is something I am working on. 

I am so glad I did. I have moved past the glitch in my knitting project and I have found another layer of connection in my new life...women gathered by creativity, craft and community.

These knitters, along with the quilters I have found in the VTMQG are starting to feel like my tribe.

How about you? Do you have a tribe? How did you create it?

Sunday, March 8, 2015


At Nido this morning.
Our monthly VTMQG meeting.

Women have been stitching the world together 
since the beginning of time.

Happy International Women's Day!

Friday, March 6, 2015

still blooming...

There is a voice that doesn't use words.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

a birthday fox

When Alicia Paulson released her new patterns, our Gretta just had to have a fox. That was ages ago, and hoping that she had forgotten about it, I stitched up this handsome guy as a birthday surprise. Today Gretta turns 24, but she is a little kid at heart and I suspect that he will be a welcome addition to her futon in Brooklyn.

I had ordered a kit for my first stuffed critter from Alicia's website. When I made another rabbit I used the same instructions and my own supplies. I decided to simply order the PDF for the fox, which was very easy to do. I ordered the felt from Prairie Point Junction, the calico and stripes came from my fabric stash. I knit the scarf with scraps of wool that Gretta had gifted me with. It's spun from the sheep at Shelburne Farms, where Gretta did a nine month residency in 2013.

Alicia's instructions are well written and full color photos accompany them. The fox's snout was a bit tricky, and took a bit of fussing. The only disappointment I had was with the shirt. Alicia 's instructions called for cutting the buttonholes carefully with a seam ripper and finishing them with fray check. I was a nervous wreck doing this, and I am not at all happy with the results. In the future, I would sew snaps up and down the front, with buttons "for show" stitched on top (especially if the shirt will be taken on and off by little fingers).

I loved making this handsome fox, packing him in a box along with carefully wrapped Vermont maple syrup and a few other goodies, sending him off via the USPS and imagining him waiting for Gretta in Brooklyn. The birthday girl may be miles and miles away, but our best wishes are filled with love and warmth and I hope they travelled well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

thank you, sweet paper whites,
for bringing light and hope to the dark days of winter.

after you have composted a bit,
i'll see you again in the summer garden.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Town Meeting Day

Today I attended my first Town Meeting as a full time Vermonter. It was the 227th annual Town Meeting held here. 227th! We gathered in the antique Town Hall, nestled in on metal folding chairs. The Moderator had the annual report in hand, the five selectpeople gathered on the tiny stage. Before the meeting began, attention was called to this quilt (above), hanging behind the selectpeople. It is being raffled to raise money to restore our beautiful meetinghouse, just down the road from us.
(the meeting house, photo taken summer 2014)

Then two very articulate young ladies came forward, holding a poster promoting a spaghetti supper being held in a few weeks to raise funds for their sixth grade class trip to Boston. I think Batman and I may have to go eat some pasta!

The Moderator read a lovely quote by Susan Clark, an expert on traditional New England Town Meetings, reminding folks of best behavior. He also reviewed Robert's Rules of Order, the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and we jumped into the business at hand.

The "warrant" for the meeting included electing town officers, approving the purchase of a new truck, approval of the budget, consideration of the purchase and installation of solar panels on town property, the collection of property taxes and consideration of an ordinance to regulate barking dogs. 

I rode over to Town Hall with friends and we left when the meeting ended. For those who stayed, a pot luck lunch followed, and school district business was to be taken up next. (I think I'll make a day of it in 2016!)

While politicians do their thing in far away Washington, DC, neighbors gathered all over the state of Vermont today to practice democracy and self governance. The state motto, "Freedom and Unity" seemed very fitting today.

(While we await yet another snowstorm, I whipped up this Limerick Soda Bread from Sift Magazine.)
A year ago we were on the verge of accepting an offer on our house in CT, and today we are feeling more enmeshed in this new life of ours here in rural Vermont... Life is such a wonder!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

crawling out of the den

Well, hello friends! We are just dragging ourselves out of the deepest hibernation den of perhaps the coldest February on record here in Vermont. And even tho the calendar says March 1st, it has just started snowing again.

Batman remains the eternal optimist and claims that meteorological spring begins on  March first, and so we are determined to embrace that fact.

Hyacinths are filling the house with an intoxicating scent, and I whipped up a batch of Lemon Zephyr Pancakes from the premiere issue of SIFT, a fabulous publication from King Arthur Flour.  I had a case of cabin fever the other day, so I drove 45 minutes south to King Arthur headquarters in Norwich, VT. It is a very dangerous place. In a very good way. I came home with the magazine, some wonderful flour and a fresh batch of sourdough starter. 

We've been watching lots of movies, and have become a bit addicted to some locally grown popcorn. On Friday, we went out into the world to see The Theory of Everything, both the story and the acting were amazing. Last night, we watched the true story of PRIDE, via Netflix DVD. (SEE IT!)

This week will be filled with some special firsts and a special sewing project. Come back soon to check things out.