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

Friday, November 30, 2018

recovering from the storm

 Trees and wires down on our road,
a common scene all over central Vermont.
 The hard working linemen from Green Mountain Power,
 worked their tails off for days on end.
In the midst of the storm that was still raging, these guys
ventured up into the woods and across meadows, 
with 12-16" of snow on the ground,
tracing the power lines to the multiple sources of trouble.
They worked outside our home in the pitch dark
and ongoing snowfall for an hour on Tuesday.
 Despite the inconvenience over the last few days,
I was moved to pull over to the side of the road,
get out of my car and lift my arms in worship.
Mother Nature is such a gorgeous goddess.
We melted snow on the Home Comfort and 
used the water to flush the toilet.
We shoveled and shoveled and 
took note of the trees and branches that will 
need to be cut down as soon as we can manage it,
(the stand of lovely birches in the side yard will have to go,
I am a bit broken hearted about that situation).
I drank a lot of hot tea
and wore more layers than usual.
I went down to town to check on email once a day.
I did hand sewing and read a lot and
 liked being disconnected a bit!
We sat in the evenings by candlelight and
 fell asleep earlier than usual.
Having no phone was a little disconcerting, 
but that's been resolved, too.

We were at a meeting in Barre last night that included
a hot dinner (much appreciated!)
Driving home, we noticed that 
lots of folks in our neighborhood had their 
lights on and as we came around the last gentle curve
in the road and I saw a light at our house 
twinkling through the trees 
and I let out a whoop of delight.

Nothing like a "snow event" to remind us 
of the many things we take for granted.

I thought about Laura and her Little House in the Big Woods 
more than once this week.


oh good grief

Hello friends! After I finished up my last post about our winter storm, the power went out again. We had enjoyed about five hours of power in the late afternoon/dinner time on Tuesday and then poof! Off it went. We finally had the power restored last night, after another 48 hours without. Will check in later today with all of you. And I look forward to catching up with my blog reading, too. :-)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

tula tuesday::week 37

 block number 81
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.
 11" of snow have fallen since yesterday afternoon.
 the power went out at 1 in the morning.
 we fired up the home comfort first thing and i hunkered in for the day.
batman went cautiously down the hill to work.
trees are down, wires are hanging.
we have lost a bunch of trees here,
including a birch in our side yard.

our amazing town road crew and the guys
from green mountain power
were busy on the hill all day.
chain saws.
plows running with chains on their wheels.
the neighbor's generator running down in the valley.
sounds of country living...

around 3 this afternoon our power came back on,
along with our phone and internet service.

the lights have flickered a few times,
but so far, so good.
this week's square was hand stitched because my
faithful bernina was quiet.

there's been a lot of white on white lately.
...and it's still just november...


Saturday, November 24, 2018

reaping what we sow

We have a little room, tucked under a slanting roof, just off our kitchen. The gentleman we bought the original cabin from used this room when he tied his fly fishing lures. Truth be told, I think it was his "man cave". When we first started coming up here, it was Gretta's bedroom. Then it was Peter's office for a bit when he did some consulting work. After our big renovation it became the "room of requirement", a lá Harry Potter. 
One wall is filled with shelving and it serves as our pantry. Baking pans, assorted small appliances, dried beans, canned foods and cookbooks are stored here. My very own red toolbox is on the top shelf. Don't mess with it. :-)
A twin bed is tucked into the other side of the room, allowing overflow sleep space for when we have a very full house. Sometimes I sneak in here with a mug of tea, curl up and read cookbooks. The curtains are made from some of my Grammie Lowry's table cloths. The rug on the floor is made of old jeans. You can find my tutorial here. The quilt is made from an old and favorite chambray dress that I wore for years and a stack of flannel squares.
Under the rug, in the floor of the "room of requirement" is a trap door, with stairs leading down to the root cellar. How lucky are we to have a house with a root cellar? It tends to stay a pretty steady 45-50 degrees year round. There are no windows and the floor has a layer of pebbles, covered by thick plastic sheeting.
Right now, we have a whole collection of flower bulbs potted up, waiting to come upstairs. Bit by bit, we will perch them on our windowsills, forcing them into bloom all winter long. Hyacinths, paper whites, têt-à-têt daffodils and amaryllis will remind us that the winter shall pass, and the world will be green again come springtime.
We had a good onion harvest and many of them are stored in the mesh bottomed box, here. We bought some butternut squash from our friend "Farmer Chip" at Pebble Brook Farm, just up and over the ridge, and they are stashed down here too.
We did not grow potatoes this year, so we have fingerlings, reds and Yukon golds from Chip as well.
We store our carrots and beets in buckets of playground sand. Here are some of the beets...they have been sending up shoots in the pitch dark.
Remember the leeks I harvested before the first hard freeze? They are doing OK, planted in a bucket of potting soil. I'm thinking potato, celeriac, leek soup sometime next week...

(Our garlic, which don't store as well in a root cellar, are nestled in a covered basket, pushed under the bed, where it's not quite as cool.)

I do so love having some of our produce tucked under the floor of the "room of requirement". It's part of the dream we'd been dreaming for years. We know where the food came from and how it was grown and harvested. When the snow is blowing outside our windows in February, what's on our plates will be evidence of the fruits of our labor. We'll be reminded of the quiet evenings of weeding with a glass of wine in hand, listening to the breezes in the balsams and the birds as they settle down for the night. I think I've already forgotten the mosquitos!


Thursday, November 22, 2018


"Gratitude is heaven itself"
-William Blake

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

tula tuesday::week 37

 block number 81
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.
 and the paperwhites,
sprouting on the windowsill
that inspired the block...
 and the ivy creeping along the curtain rod
in the bathroom. 
touches of green in a very white landscape.
 the white and grey has been so lovely,
with flurries nearly every day.

so peaceful and quiet and calm.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

sunday simplicity

Corazón and Wilma with a gentle reminder:

It's not what we have in our life,
but who we have in our life that

-J. M. Laurence

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

solstice gift ideas and another modern japanese rice pouch

Here's another version of kzsteven's Modern Japanese Rice Pouch. I had been wanting to sew another pouch, inspired by the upcoming winter solstice. 
I used soft, quiet neutral fabrics to reflect the mood of the wintery days ahead.
The little bit of embroidery I stitched last week served as the hopping off point for the bag. Sewing this up yesterday during the snowstorm got me to thinking about the solstice and I was surprised to realize it's just a bit more than a month away. As I sat at my Bernina, I began to brainstorm a list of wee gifts that might be appropriate for holiday giving. Maybe you would like to see my ideas and add  a few of your own suggestions.
Solstice celebrations are ancient. The special twenty four hours surrounding the shift feels free of the clutter of our more "modern day" holidays. I love to embrace it as a time to celebrate wonder and renewal in the midst of the darkest days of winter (at least here in the northern hemisphere). Sometimes I mark the solstice by gifting friends and family with thoughtful, little tokens of my affection. These ideas could certainly work for Christmas as well.

Bringing the outdoors in is a natural way to mark the solstice.nging the outdoors in is a natural way to decorate for the solstice...
-One of the most simple of gifts might be a heart, cut from foraged birch bark, and hung on a string. On the darkest of nights, the birches glow in the woods, with their white bark catching the moonlight.

-Pine cones, strung on twine, can create a lovely garland, to hang in a window or from a shelf.

-Frangrant bundles of fresh herbs, like sage, wrapped together with cedar bits, cinnamon sticks and anise stars, and hung with a bit of ribbon could scent a room for days.

-A swag of balsam boughs, bound with ribbon and a jingle bell creates a welcome at the front door, like this.

-Balsam sachets can be tucked into drawers.

There are so many ways to bring light to a friend's home...

-Beeswax candles can be purchased and gifted or you can make your own by tightly wrapping bee's wax sheets around wicks.

-Luminaria can be crafted from paper bags, a bit of sand and votive candles.

-Stars, folded from white paper, can be hung alone or strung in a row or piled in a bowl. Pinterest is full of tutorials!

-Make a date with a friend to go out at night and look up at the stars. Bring cozy blankets and a thermos full of hot chocolate. Check before you go out, to see what constellations you might see.

Food is a central part of celebrating holidays...

-A nicely wrapped loaf of quick bread is easy to tuck into your bag to drop off at a co-worker's desk, or at your local library. Or make an oven's worth and drop them at your local senior center. Cranberry orange, pumpkin spice and lemon blueberry are some of our faves.

-Homemade granola, stored in a pretty glass jar and tagged with the recipe will be appreciated by most folks.

-We like to make raspberry cordial because it reminds us--in the dead of winter--of the sunny summer days when raspberries are falling of their canes. A small bottle of cordial makes a nice solstice gift. Recipe here.

-Who wouldn't love a jar of spiced or roasted nuts, delivered along with a mesh bag of clementines?

-Don't forget the birdies! Gift a friend with a suet feeder and a few cakes of suet. Or make suet balls at home with this recipe.

As cold as it is outside, there are seeds germinating under the ground, a precious reminder that warmth will return.

-Gift a glass jar, filled with an amaryllis bulb or a few paper white narcissus, anchored with some rounded pebbles or aquarium gravel. Include a note describing how to "force" them to bloom.

-Sew a little pouch and slip some seed packets inside.

-Make a collage with photos from last year's seed catalog and put it in an inexpensive frame.

If you are a stitcher, here are some ideas for sewing a gift or two...

-For the sewer in your circle of friends, consider making a needle case, or a meditative pincushion. The needle case instructions can be found here. The pincushion instructions can be found in issue 3 of making magazine.   Crazy Mom Quilts has a number of free tutorials for pin cushions on her blog, here.

-Lotta Jansdotter has written a wonderful book called Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style, which is full of patterns and quick projects. I found a tutorial for a neat fabric bracelet, you can see my version, here. There's also a fun patchwork bias tape necklace that I'd like to try in solstice whites. Lotta also has patterns for tunics, totes and dresses included. Maybe your local library can find the book for you!

-If you have an artist in your midst, here's a very fun pencil roll you can sew. The pattern for this gift can be found in Joelle Hoveson's book, Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts.

-There are two fun projects for kids in issue 2 of making magazine. Woodland Finger Puppets (left) are embroidered with a simple outline stitch, and Squirrel, (right) by Grainline Studio is made of felt.

-A "treasure pouch" can be stitched up to hold any number of goodies (think Duplo blocks for kids, a small knitting project or juggling balls). I made a bunch of them and love how easy they are to make. The pattern can be found here. 

-For snail mail aficionados, here's a sweet little stationary kit tutorial by Fabric Mutt.

Finally, some other books that you may enjoy...

Celebrate the Solstice, by Richard Heinberg
The Winter Solstice, by John Matthews
Handmade Scandinavian Christmas, by Here Barnholt

I hope these ideas spark some creative energy in you, dearest readers. Please let me know if you try any of them. AND, please be sure to add any of your own ideas here in the comments. I'd love to hear  if and how you celebrate the shortest day/longest night of the year. xoxoxoxox

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

tula tuesday::week 36

 block number 62
from tula pink's
city sampler
100 modern quilt blocks.
 ...and the snowy inspiration.
 block number 36...
and the inspiration. 

After a month off from this project, stitching two blocks may help me get back into the swing of things. Lots of snow today and a high of 21, low of 5 degrees forecast for tomorrow. Seems like a really early winter to me.

I also stitched another Japanese Rice Bag today, using this little bit of stitching. Check back tomorrow to check it out. I'll post some ideas for solstice gifting, too.


Sunday, November 11, 2018


This is a tough day for me. Perhaps you struggle too? 

I sit on the knife edge of honoring veterans and abhorring war. (My dad was a proud Marine whose artistic skills (perversely) created training materials that supported troops in Korea. He requested that an honor guard serve at his internment. I could not tolerate the rifle salute and I still remember it as an intrusion on that day).

So I make room for reflection today.

Melissa at Tiny Happy had a tutorial for crafting a white poppy pin on her blog years ago. You can find it here. It is a peaceful alternative to the traditional red poppy. It was easy to stitch. 

I support Veterans For Peace and the work they do to “build a culture of peace by using our experiences and lifting our voices.” Their “Reclaiming Armistice Day” is about “pushing the celebration of peace into the national conversation on Veterans Day”. 

And the work of the American Friends Service Committee merits consideration as a cause to support, too. 

And then there is this quote that rings with truth...
"Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows." -MLK Jr. 🕊

Saturday, November 10, 2018

stitching in the present moment

 snowy afternoon stitching,
using a scrap of selvedge and 
some embroidery floss.
edges turned under and ready to pin.

solstice ideas.

(riffing off of this)

Friday, November 9, 2018

snow is a comin' (and kooser)

 my car has her snow tires on and 
 a new windshield scraper is tucked under the front seat
(not sure where the old one went...). 
i dug up the last of the leeks this afternoon.
did you know that you can plant your freshly dug, untrimmed 
leeks in a container in the root cellar and they will stay fresh?
on my list of things to do tomorrow.
 i marvel at the sage.
her silvery leaves keep growing long after everything
else in the garden gives up.

we can often find her, tucked under a blanket of snow,
ready to flavor a thanksgiving or holiday turkey.

i love to sizzle her leaves in olive oil (along
 with slivered leeks) to use 
as a garnish for pasta and soups.
here's our weather station, perched at the top 
of the pole that holds up our clothesline.

today marks the first day of ted kooser's
Winter Morning Walks:
one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison

some of us are reading it again,
or maybe for the first time.

"The sky hangs thin and wet on its clothesline."

 that's surely how it feels as we wait for the first measurable
snow of the season here in vermont.

i look forward to spending a few, quiet and peaceful
moments for the next one hundred days
with the solace of kooser's writing.

let me know how it goes for you, dearest readers.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

a birthday quilt for maggie

 Our dearest little Magpie turns one year old today.
Yesterday was cold and rainy in Brooklyn,
so she opened her package from
Grandma and Gramdpa in Vermont a day early.
(She had an inkling of what might be inside).
 Her Mama wrapped her up in her new quilt
and they had a little snuggle time
before heading out into the world.

This little cutie pie has the most precious of smiles.
She's a city girl who charms folks on the subway and buses that 
rumble along her commute.
She's a "reeder" who loves her books.
She loves her veggies.
She and her Mama and Papa make such an adorable family.
Thank goodness for technology that allows all of us to stay
in touch with her as she grows before our very eyes.
 This is the fabric that started the quilt.
I could not resist these wee critters.
 I used this book that I bought in the early 2000's
to create the Seminole strips.
Maybe you noticed the birch fabric added here and there?
When I spotted the grey gingham checked fabric
I knew it would make a perfect binding.
And how about those elections?
I can't seem to get enough of those amazingly gorgeous smiles
 on the faces of the women
who are shifting the balance of power.

I'm guessing someday you will have a few things to say
about how the world is run.
Grow strong and brave and joyous,
little one.

with love from your Grandma in Vermont.